He drowns in his dreams
An exquisite extreme I know
He's as damned as he seems
And more heaven than a heart could hold

She watched him from her safe distance. She had been watching him for years, always at this distance. Sometimes he would pull her closer, if only because he had no other choice. She was the one he knew he could trust. She knew that was an incredible feat for a man like him, who had been betrayed more times by more people he trusted than she could count. She knew she held a special place in his life. But she could never delude herself into thinking it was enough.

He seemed to be having some kind of confrontation with the woman he loved. She tried not to stare at the couple, but what was unfolding seemed to contradict the image of perfection they projected to the world. Her interest irritated even herself. She had no right to intrude on their lives. She was the loyalist, the sometimes-best friend, the one who said a prayer and shed a tear every day while he was in China, though she'd never tell anyone - especially not him. Instead she watched as she was treated with reverence for her efforts, as she was put on a pedestal, despite the fact that looking for Jack following his capture was hardly a sole effort.

But she wouldn't complain. He was home, and he was safe, and he had the woman he loved. He seemed to have it all. Only she could see the shadow behind his eyes that said otherwise.

And if I try to save him
My whole world could cave in
It just ain't right
It just ain't right

He showed up on her doorstep the next day. She could tell he had been crying. He had fallen into her arms, and soon his tears had soaked her shoulder through her shirt. She asked what was wrong, but she didn't press when he didn't answer. She brought him inside and tried to figure out what to do, what to say - but he only wanted one thing.

He didn't speak. He didn't share the details of what haunted him. She read the medical reports, she knew the details of what happened in China. She also knew he would never burden Audrey, who suffered badly enough herself, with the resulting trauma that he tried to bury inside every day. She knew he wouldn't burden her, either. That wasn't what he had come to her for.

She had stroked through his hair until he had fallen into his first dreamless sleep in months, his head against her chest and hand wrapped in hers. She wouldn't question it, not for a minute. He needed it as much as she did.

He's magic and myth
As strong as what I believe
A tragedy with
More damage than a soul should see

It became a routine of sorts. It was unspoken, and it happened a few times a week. She didn't ask if Audrey knew. It didn't matter, or so she had told herself before one day, when in the minutes before he left, he kissed her.

He wasn't sorry. But she could see the confusion in his eyes when he had pulled away. He didn't know what he wanted, she had told him. He didn't disagree. But it was no fluke, and they both knew it. When he left she shed a tear, and for herself, not for him. He may not have known what he wanted, but she did. She always had.

And do I try to change him?
So hard not to blame him
Hold on tight
Hold on tight

Things changed. It was inevitable. He stopped coming over, and things were tense at work. Their friendship was suffering badly, and they both hated it. But all either could think about when they were in each other's presence was that kiss, and how the different the air around them was now. It was tense but electric, and maybe it always had been. Maybe both were too stubborn for too long to have seen otherwise.

She overheard some people at CTU one day and found out he had proposed to Audrey. The words burned into her ears, and she fled to safety in an empty corridor, where she couldn't help unwanted tears from falling. She told herself she was being ridiculous, but it didn't change her reality. Some things would never change.

He found her in the corridor, and he immediately rushed to her side. He didn't have to ask what was wrong, he knew it as soon as he looked into her moistened eyes. She refused to give into his concern, telling him she was fine and to go live his life. She told him she only wanted happiness for him, and she was telling the truth. He let her go. He told himself that he had to.

I'm longing for love and the logical
But he's only happy hysterical
I'm waiting for some kind of miracle
Waited so long
So long

There was a knock on her door later that night. She opened it to find him standing there, though this time without any tears in sight. They stood staring at one another until he stepped forward and swept her into his arms, kissing her with all that he had, all that was left in him, and she could have lost herself in the sheer perfection. Except that it wasn't perfect, not without an explanation. She forced them to break apart, asking her question in the form of one word, the name of his fiance. He took her face in his hands and answered simply.

"Chloe," he had whispered, "I need you. I want you." He paused before adding, "I love you."

He's soft to the touch
But frayed at the end he breaks
He's never enough
And still he's more than I can take

She laid awake that night and watched him as he slept next to her, having never seen him sleep this deeply before. He seemed different and yet entirely the same. She couldn't place what the difference was. She stopped trying after awhile, settling in his arms as he stirred. He had opened his eyes and smiled at her through the darkness, the soft glow of moonlight the only illumination in the room. She smiled back, tracing his features softly and asking what he was thinking. His answer brought tears to her eyes.

"I feel like I'm finally home."

Cause I don't know
I don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful
Such a beautiful disaster
And if I could hold on
Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful?
Or just a beautiful disaster

She still watched from her safe distance. She watched him every day, and worried every day, just as she always had. He still risked too much too often. She didn't know if anybody, or anything, could change that about him. She wondered what it would take for him to walk away from this life for good. It was who he was, who he would always be, and nobody understood that better than her. She would never ask him to change for her, and neither would he, even though they both desperately wanted to protect one another from the world that had brought them together and could just as easily tear them apart.

He closed the distance between them and walked to her workstation, kissing her goodbye and telling her he would be back soon, as he did almost every day. She would watch him leave with his team and suppress the nagging voice telling her she might not ever see him again. Somehow, she knew she would. He always came back. Through it all, he always came back somehow. The only difference was now, it was her he coming back to.

Maybe, she wondered as the world around her stilled into a quiet bustle, it always had been.

He's beautiful
Such a beautiful disaster