Disclaimer: All people, places, and things Lost are copyright JJ Abrams, David Lindelof, and the ABC Network. This fanfiction is for entertainment only, and I seek neither credit for nor profit from the characters and plot of the television series.

A/N: As always, thanks to Mrstater for her time, energy, and advice. This fluffy little fic is dedicated to both Mrstater and Islandpalm, who basically kicked me until I wrote something that included a banyan tree.

Safe

Shannon walked along the beach, eyes focused not on her path, but on the ocean to her left. The rising sun splashed color on the water, vibrant hues that washed into one another like a painting come to life. Not orderly, with sharp lines; instead it was messy and undisciplined, the sky and sea playing shadow and light against each other.

The blonde kicked at the sand as waves lapped toward her, their ebb and flow a teasing dance that caused her to alter her step from time to time. It was unusual for her to be up this early. Her normal routine was to sleep late, certainly later than most of the other survivors. Typically, it wasn't until the sounds of people talking, laughing, working, found its way through to her, when it was loud enough to penetrate the simple plastic walls of her shelter, that she would stretch, catlike, and rise for the day.

She didn't sleep late because she was necessarily lazy, and it certainly wasn't that she wanted the other survivors company. But there was something comforting when the others were awake, the beach bustling with activity. So even though their proximity was often annoying, it was a trade-off she was willing to make.

But today was different - today she was up early. Sayid had promised to spend the day with her, taking time away from everything he normally did. She was amazed at how busy he always was; he never seemed to relax. There was always something that needed his attention; the transceiver, maps, firewood. If it wasn't one thing it was another.

But not today.

Shannon felt Sayid's arm snake around her waist as he caught up with her.

"Come, we will go this way," he said softly and steered her towards the jungle.

It was nice to get away from the other survivors. There was too much togetherness sometimes, and the lack of privacy often grated. People who were complete strangers not long ago now knew each other's routines better than their own families back home probably did. When they slept, ate, showered, even their bathroom habits.

Hand in hand, the couple walked with little conversation, happy just to be together. Shannon was amazed that she felt no fear. Normally she was not a big fan of the jungle; it was too dark, with too many bugs. Not to mention polar bears and whatever the hell else was out there. But with Sayid, she felt safe, content. Nothing in the world could hurt her.

Her ears picked up the change first, a sound different from the rustling of leaves and whirring of insects. Frowning, she tried to place it - a low hum, steady, an undercurrent of sound, unchanging.

"What - ?"

"Wait, just wait," Sayid said with a smile.

As they pushed through some trees suddenly they came upon a clearing, and the source of the mysterious noise was revealed. Before them was a small body of water, about the size of a pond or small lake. On the far side, a waterfall spilled into the pool from the cliff above. The water was clear, and deep and so inviting. Shannon longed to wash away the salt and sand that always seemed a part of her. Smiling, she ran forward, and kicked her tennis shoes off as she neared the edge of the pond.

"I can't believe you found this!" Shannon cried, elated. "When did you find it?"

"I came across it the other day when I was out trying to make heads or tales of Rousseau's maps," he answered, a small smile played on his lips as he noted her pleasure.

"I wish I had known. I would have brought my shampoo and some soap. I still have some left. Thank god I always pack a ton of the stuff –"

Before Shannon had even finished the statement, Sayid handed her the familiar bottle of shampoo. Her smile grew as she grabbed the bottle out of his hands and hugged him quickly. It was still half-full; Shannon was proud of how well she budgeted her toiletries, using mere fractions of what she normally would use back in the real world. She watched as Sayid rummaged through his bag and came up with the blue travel case that contained the rest of her soaps and lotions.

The blonde pulled off her top and stepped out of her shorts, revealing the bikini she was glad to have donned that morning. She lay her clothes on the rocks lining the pond and gingerly stepped into the cool water. As she waded further out, she turned to call to Sayid. There he was, her hero, finder of waterfalls and bringer of soap, standing ankle deep in the water, sporting a pair of multi-colored swim trunks. They were quite possibly the ugliest swim trunks Shannon had ever seen - they couldn't be his, could they?

Shannon fought to suppress a giggle, "Where did you get those?"

"I came across them when I found your shoes. I thought they might be useful."

"You're wearing somebody else's swim trunks?" she asked evenly, her amusement tempered slightly. Shannon hoped her face didn't show how she felt - even on this island, wearing a used swimsuit just seemed…well…wrong.

"Yes, but they had tags on them, so I was assured they were new. Are they okay?" Sayid seemed suddenly unsure.

"Yes, they're okay Sayid," her eyes danced and she bit her lip to try to contain her amusement. "Okay, come on."

Tentatively Sayid waded further out into the pond. He could swim, or at least he had told her he could, but she guessed he wasn't very good at it. At the beach, he never went out further than his waist, and even at that depth she could sense he was uncomfortable. He did the same here, stopped when the water came to his midsection.

Shannon insisted on washing his hair first. Her hands played with his soft black curls as she massaged the grapefruit scented shampoo into his scalp. The motion was hypnotic and it was with regret that she finally allowed him to dunk his head back and rinse the suds away. The only thing better than washing his hair was when he washed hers. Gentle fingers kneaded the sweet smelling shampoo, washing away what felt like a week's worth of dirt and grime. Just the sense of being clean was heady enough, but it was his touch, surprisingly delicate, that Shannon appreciated the most. They shared her soap, reveling in the scent and the lather, both taking care not to use too much.

Happy to be clean, Shannon struck out toward the further reaches of the pond. Sayid made his way back to shore, content to sit on the rocks near the water's edge. She swam like a fish, diving and kicking through the water. When she neared the falls, she began to tread water, letting the droplets fall on her head and shoulders, her own private shower. She turned back to motion to Sayid, to try to tease him into coming back into the water. Her breath caught as she watched the Iraqi sitting there; he had changed back into his cargo pants and white tank top. His strong shoulders, still wet from the pond, sparkled when the sun hit them. His dark brown eyes were trained on her, watching her intently. Shannon smiled to herself. His eyes had a way of making her feel like he truly saw her. She felt exposed, but rather than vulnerable, she felt drawn in, embraced, even from a distance.

The storm started not with clouds and darkness, but with a sun-shower, rain incongruously falling out of a bright, clear sky. Shannon wasn't even aware that it was raining at first. When the drops of water hit her, she assumed it was spray from the falls.

When darkness finally did come, it was sudden, as if a switch had been flicked, shutting the sun out completely. The rain that came with it was no longer a shower, instead it pounded down in sheets, blinding in its intensity. Shannon fought her way out of the water as Sayid scrambled to grab their belongings from the rocks. He took her hand as she neared and half dragged her from the water and they ran to find some sort of cover.

Shannon's heart pounded as she ran. As often as it rained on this island, she just could not get used to the utter blackness that often accompanied it. At home, in the real world, she loved storms. They brought a sense of excitement, triggered memories of hiding under the bed with Boone telling ghost stories by flashlight. Here, however, there was no real shelter from them, and the ghosts, or at least monsters, were real. The shadows stretched around and her lungs constricted in fear as she tripped over a vine.

"Here, in here," Sayid shouted, and pulled her into the center of a banyan tree.

She stood in her bikini, soaked from the swim, the shorts and shirt she had taken off now sodden from the rain. Shannon stared at the circle of trunks that comprised the outer shell of the tree. Such an odd tree. She had first seen one on her trip with Sayid and some of the others when they had gone on a hike to try to get a signal for the transceiver. At the time, she had thought they were a group of trees growing near each other. It was a week or so later when she was cornered by Arzt on a walk to the caves. He went on and on about banyan trees and how some can stretch to be as big as an acre. Arzt. He probably excelled at games like Trivial Pursuit…if he could find someone to play with him, that is. Shannon had her doubts.

So here they were, inside what Shannon now knew to be a banyan tree. It felt like their own world, their own nest almost, safely tucked away while the storm raged outside the tree's perimeter.

Sayid pulled his own sopping wet shirt off, then knelt and rummaged through his pack. "Here, put this on," he said as he handed her a grey, short-sleeved, button down shirt.

Shannon gratefully took the shirt and turned so her back was to him. Quickly she untied the strings to her bikini top and tossed it to the side as she slipped into Sayid's shirt. It fit her well, maybe a bit large, but not overly so. She took her time buttoning it, then rolled the short sleeves a couple of times. There was something about a man's shirt that felt nice, made her feel warm, safe, sexy.

At home she had a drawer full of shirts she'd "borrowed" from past boyfriends – everything from concert tees to white dress shirts. She wished she could steal Sayid's. It wouldn't leave him with much though, would it? He only ever seemed to wear two or three different tank tops as it was.

For the second time that day, Shannon felt Sayid's arms snake around her waist. She leaned back into him, feeling the warmth of his body radiate through the thin fabric of her shirt. His shirt. She was surrounded by him; could feel his breath, hot against her neck, the affect dizzying. Slowly she turned her head, and her lips found his. Soft kisses, feather light. Any fear from the storm faded with each kiss.

Gradually she turned to face him. Their kiss deepened as he pulled her close, pressing his body to hers. Together they sank to the floor of the tree, sheltered from the storm, aware of nothing but each other. Shannon let her hand travel downward, over the taut muscles of his stomach until she reached his belt. As she slowly began to undo the buckle, Sayid's hand reached out, pressing her fingers in his.

"Are you sure?" he asked, eyes searching her face.

Shannon shifted, sitting up and staring deeply into Sayid's eyes. Slowly she began to undo the buttons of the shirt he had given her.

"Shhhh….I'm sure," she whispered, and leaned in, softly kissing his neck…his eyes…his cheeks…his lips. "I'm sure."

Sayid captured her lips, drawing her to him once more.

Some time later, as Shannon lay in her lover's arms she smiled to herself. Here she was, naked on the jungle floor in the middle of a banyan tree, and never in her life had she felt so free, so alive. So safe.