A.N. I took forever to update. I'm sorry :( . But really- over the past six months I've chosen a college, filled out countless related forms, taken final exams and an AP English, gone to prom, graduated highschool, went to senior week, attended countless parties for friends I sadly will hardly ever see anymore, and spent two weeks in Italy. Obviously it's been great, but it hasn't left me much time to return to the antics of my favorite television couple. If you read, please review! It'll encourage me to keep going with the story, something I seem to have innate difficulty with. I wrote this part in the middle of the season, so I'm absolutely sticking to my "this story will not absolutely follow the show's story line" plan. So, to begin again...

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If the island granted Sayid a chance to find peace, it granted Shannon the opportunity to find her heart. She had determined a long time ago that she would never break her heart over anyone- it was such a horrible cliche, and it rendered the afflicted person ridiculous. She understood this to mean that she could never allow anyone to pass her carefully set emotional boundaries, and so at the age of twenty she was emotionally inaccessible and generally without compassion, skeptical of every sort of affection.

It was a sad way to live, but extreme youth, unusual beauty, and a privileged but distant upbringing had all had their hands in her fate. Attitude and pride could get a girl through the tangles of life much more effectively then a soft heart, she had decided once, and as far as her world was concerned she was no doubt right.

But that world had dissolved quickly in the flames of the crash, and now for the first time in six years Shannon felt energized and strong again. Strong enough to risk something a little more valuable then money, strong enough to take her chances and be part of a world bigger then herself- even if that world was only thirty square miles with a population of 45.

She started down the jungle paths to the caves to collect water, but on the way she came upon an unusually nice climbing tree. Looking around to make sure no one was around, she smiled to herself, put down her bottle and began to ascend the branches. She stopped a good way from the top, perhaps about fifteen feet from the ground- she had only wanted to remember what it felt like to see a little above the rest. Shannon liked heights- they made her feel more in control. Like the more she could see the better she could handle everything.

She saw Sawyer sauntering in her direction, walking with the same aggression he carried everywhere. The man had a chip on his shoulder the size of Georgia, which was something Shannon could respect. Respect of that sort, however, did not mean she wasn't going to have what fun she could provoking him. She waited until he was directly underneath her perch before speaking.

"Hey there, Dixie. Off to conquer the forest?"

She noted with satisfaction that he jumped about a foot and a half in the air. When he pointed the gun towards her she only lifted an eyebrow and commented that he better give the weapon back to Jack if he was going to become trigger-happy.

Sawyer realized who was in the tree and lowered the gun. His trademark smirk reasserted itself as he stood looking up at Shannon, saying with unwarranted amusement "Hi Sticks- trying to befriend the birds? Not that I blame you- not much to chose from down here- but you might want to reconsider. The wind up there could play havoc with your hair."

Sawyer and Shannon were not friends, neither being the sort who really had them. But they were too much alike to be completely hostile. Shannon found Sawyer somewhat amusing and Sawyer appreciated Shannon's self-involvement. As a con-man Sawyer recognized someone not easily taken in by pretty words or trite gestures, and appreciated the quality despite deploring it professionally.

Kate had gone off on one of her expeditions- that girl couldn't stand for a single thing to happen unless she was involved. She was probably an only child- she had that control-complex thing going. So Sawyer was bored, and although Shannon lacked the will to destroy him she might still prove to be decent company. At least she was easy on the eyes.

So it was with some persuasion in his tone that Sawyer called up to the blond girl that he was off for a swim. He added tauntingly "You're welcome to join me if you can bear to tear yourself away from your newfound friends."

Shannon shook her head energetically, causing her hair to fly about her face. "Thanks, but no- I'm comfortable. Go be clever somewhere else Sawyer- I'm busy."

Sawyer, always interested by refusal, persisted. "Come on Sticks. Jump down- I'll catch you. Probably."

That made Shannon laugh. "Sawyer, there is no way in hell I'm trusting you with my life like that."

Sayid came around the bend at that moment. He had heard the ongoing conversation awhile back, as neither party troubled to keep their voices down, and had come to see what was going on. So he was not disconcerted with Sawyer's apparent conversation with a tree. Rather, he just glanced up in the same direction and called "Hello Shannon."

Shannon hadn't seen him approach, but as always she was glad to see him. Her expression transformed from unholy amusement to easy affection- which was, for her, downright sentimental. The thought that if Sayid told her to jump she would, fleetingly passed through her mind, but was quickly dismissed. She waved from her perch.

Sayid crossed his arms and said with mock-seriousness "Well, I came out in search of someone to translate a French paragraph, but instead of a well-traveled debutante I find an urchin. Which begs the question of how to proceed."

Shannon grinned down at him. She loved the way he talked. English was his second language but he spoke it with absolute fluency, a feat Shannon appreciated considering her own highly questionable command of the French tongue. Being brilliant, his conversation was always intelligent, and she found the deliberation with which he spoke oddly drawing. Shannon leaned back against the tree trunk and replied languidly "Oh, the jetsetter is around here somewhere." Abandoning the banter, but with a laugh in her voice, she announced "I'm coming down."

Sawyer, disgusted by what struck him as sentimental flirting, abandoned the pair without another word. Maybe he would go chat with Claire, mess with the runt's head a little.

Shannon began her descent, but one of the branches broke under her weight and she lost her footing. In an impressive display of reflex Sayid was there, catching her in his arms. He placed her carefully on her feet, as though anxious that her lack of coordination should not cause her to topple to the dirt, keeping a hand on her waste to steady her as she thanked him. She thought, considering how she had almost broken her back, that there was some excuse for the slight shake in her voice.

They stood without speaking for a moment, appreciating the day. It was oddly calm, here in the heart of such a dangerous place that held so many secrets. Jungles are as ancient as runes and as young as infants- the plants die and are reborn every day, but the wilderness itself remains, unchanging. Such places capture the imagination, and for a moment it was simple to remain silent and forget some of the smaller trials of the day.

The calm, however, was broken by a panicked looking Charlie who at that moment burst through the brush. His breath came in gasps. Sayid releases his hold on Shannon and quickly stepped forward saying calmly "What has happened?"

Charlie's eyes lost their bewildered expression as he made a conscious effort to gather himself. His voice only wavered slightly when he replied.

"Claire's gone into labor. She's on the beach- we have to fetch Jack!"

Sayid's eyes flew to Shannon's, and she nodded. The two men flew off in the direction of the caves as Shannon ran towards the beach.

Shannon found a small crowd of worried and clueless people gathered around Claire, who was lying on a blanket and looked very frightened. Shannon dropped to her knees in beside her new almost-friend, wishing she knew something about medicine- or even that she had paid attention in A.P. Bio. Desperately she searched her memory for any scrap of potentially useful information, but nothing presented itself. Boone was there, on the edges of the crowd, and her eyes asked a question. He shook his head at his stepsister, saying worriedly "I was a lifeguard, Shannon- not a medic."

Which meant they had no option but to wait. Hopefully Jack would come soon.