Title: The Gift (1/ 3)

Rating: M

Summary: '"Friend of Shannon. She who is dead. By you, I understand."'

Featured Characters: Sayid, Shannon, Jack, Locke, Kate, Ana-Lucia, Charlie, Claire, Sawyer, Hurley, Jin, Libby, Mistereko

Author's Notes/Disclaimer: I do not own the characters in this story, nor do I own any rights to the television show "Lost". They were created by JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof and they belong to them, Touchstone, and ABC.

Special thanks to WhoKnowsWhy, wonder beta

"Pretty rich that, you havin' amnesia and all. Ya know, since you doubted Claire havin' it. What do ya think of actual cases of amnesia now, Sayid?"

He glanced up at the voice from his blanket-covered spot on the floor, ending his reverie of the stone walls and the frustrating task of trying to retrieve a memory, any memory, from the blankness that was his mind.

A short blond man, hands stuffed into the pockets of a dirty hooded sweatshirt, stepped furtively into the cave. He scowled and crossed the floor as Sayid pushed using his wrists into a sitting position. He did not need his memories to know to use caution. Not with that tone directed at him.

"Charlie," The English accented voice dripped with derision as he knelt, close enough that Sayid could smell his breath. "I'm Charlie. The not-dad of Aaron. Baby of Claire. She who also had amnesia. Actual amnesia. Friend of Shannon. She who is dead. By you, I understand." The last was delivered almost cheerfully, the anger such a part of the tone that it blended perfectly. The blue eyes glittered as they bore into his.

Sayid drew back, wary. He did not like the pounding of his heart in his chest, the dampness of his palms despite the rags wrapped around his hands. Did he actually hurt someone, this Shannon? Were these symptoms of guilt without the memories? Would his body react when his brain could not?

"You're Sayid. Do ya remember that?" The tone did not lose any of the sarcasm. "Do ya remember killin' Shannon?" Charlie formed with his hands an unmistakably feminine shape. "Tall drink of water, blonde. Stunner, actually. Mean as a snake in broken glass. Tricky bint."

Sayid's stomach tightened, his hands curling into painful fists. He did not remember her. In any capacity. Certainly not killing her. But that meant naught: he remembered nothing. He tried to picture her and stared into a dark tunnel of null

"Forget how to talk, too? Playin' the half naked savage thing pretty hard there, Sayid. Or was the shirt just too bloody to keep on?" Charlie sank back on his heels, hands dangling between his knees, his narrow eyes darting about Sayid's face.

Sayid wondered what the man saw. It clearly did not please the beholder, his blue eyes narrow, his mouth stretched into an ugly frown.

Sayid licked his dry lips. He tried to remember what the other man - the one who said that he was a doctor - had told him. Something about a pursuit, a fall, a death. It was difficult to bring it into focus.

When he had opened his eyes in this dank stone room, he had known nothing: his name; this place; the man who was working in the corner. He had peered fugitively about, the lack of knowledge freezing him with fear and panic. Something had to be familiar. Something.

He must have made a sound for the man had approached him, squatting next to the blanket's edge. The brown eyes had been warm and concerned. "How are you feeling?" The voice, its accent American, had matched the eyes. "Hands bothering you? How's the shoulder?"

Once uttered, the words had become fact. He had become aware of throbbing in his right shoulder, in both hands. He had turned to see the wound, lifting his hand to investigate and stopped mid shoulder, the cloth swaddling it distracting. He looked back to the man.

The face had slipped from friendly to clinical. "Sayid, are you hurt anywhere else?"

"Did he fail to mention how you killed your dearly beloved?" Charlie continued. "With your bare hands, by the look of it. Her long, pretty neck was snapped. Like that!" he snapped his fingers. "Pretty bruised she was, like someone had quite a go at her. Least that's what Jack said 'til you were found. Now he's backin' off a bit" His voice dropped to a low throb, oddly menacing for a man of his stature. "But we know, Sayid. We know you killed her."

He felt pinned to the cool rock pushing against his back. Did he commit the heinous act that this small, grimy man was accusing him?

"Charlie!" The voice was sharp, commanding.

They both looked up as a familiar - at last - shorn dark haired man strode through the arch. Jack? Was that the name?

Sayid glanced at Charlie, curious as to the reason for the doctor's tone.

The young man's face flushed with guilt, quickly replaced by disgust. He turned his attention back to Sayid, his expression darkening. "He can't protect you. Remember that." He rose and stomped to the entry way, blocked by the taller man.

Jack, arms crossed over his chest, frowned deeply. He stopped Charlie with a hand, murmured with some heat while shaking his head. Charlie's glower deepened. He shot a furious look toward Sayid, spat something undecipherable and tramped angrily away.

Jack watched Charlie go, then entered the room. "Did you get any rest?"

Sayid shook his head.

Jack continued to the blanket. He squatted and studied his patient's face His hands were certain and gentle as he inspected Sayid's shoulder. "You and Sawyer will have to compare scars someday." He grinned ruefully. "When you remember who Sawyer is. Does your head still hurt? How's that lump? Any progress on the memory?"

Again, Sayid indicated negative with a small shake.

Jack narrowed his eyes. "Do you understand me? Can you speak English?" Concern radiated from the warm eyes as once more they watched Sayid's features. "You haven't said one word since you woke."

Sayid moistened his lips and nodded slowly. "I - I do speak English," and realized as he spoke that he had not been certain of the fact until he heard his own voice, the words. He did not sound like Jack. Or Charlie for that matter.

Jack's face relaxed into a smile. "Good." He returned his attention to the bandages.

"Who - who is Shannon?" Fear clenched his belly and spread swiftly. He blinked. He was very afraid of the man's response.

Jack paused, then resumed tying the cloth around Sayid's left hand. "Do you remember her?" he asked, glancing to catch Sayid's eye.

"Charlie," That name would stay with him. "Said that I - I killed her." His mouth became full of sand. His stomach tightened further. He searched for an answer in Jack's expression.

"Shannon," Jack lowered his gaze, seeming to search for words, his hands dropping loosely to his side.

It grew harder and harder to swallow, to breathe. Sayid felt his pulse in the ache of his shoulder, his hands. He waited, eyes trained on Jack's.

Jack sighed and met Sayid's gaze. "She's - was a young woman, an American. She, ah, was very pretty, um, had a brother, Boone - he died earlier. But not in the crash."

Jack went on to explain a plane crash, mixed with a brief rundown of the some of the survivors that Sayid did not, could not retain, except for the names that Charlie had uttered: Claire, Australian, a young mother; Aaron, her son, born on the island; Charlie, English, Claire's partner; Boone and Shannon, American, no description beyond brother and sister.

The dissertation washed over Sayid. He struggled to absorb the words while his fear cast a deep shadow over comprehension. He waited, trying for patience. Surely, this man would tell him the truth. Then Sayid could concentrate on the rest of this reality. Then it might concern him.

"You and ah Shannon," Jack appeared very uncomfortable. He massaged the back of his neck. "Ah…are - were ahh a couple. You were involved."

Sayid dropped his eyes, attempting to process the information. Was there no straight answer?

"Romantically," offered Jack.

"I understand English as well," replied Sayid, looking past Jack's shoulder, then back to Jack's face. "Did I…..hurt her?"

Jack was reluctant to answer. "We don't know." He contemplated Sayid's foot.

It was a blow to his solar plexus. His head began to buzz and spots danced before him.

Jack grabbed his left forearm as Sayid pitched forward. "You need rest," Sayid heard him say as the doctor eased him onto the blanket.

His head was pounding but was nothing compared to the dread that filled his belly. His mouth was sticky with thirst. He considered not opening his eyes. Perhaps, if he kept his eyes closed and did not drink, it would all go away. He followed that thought no farther. It was idiotic. A small sigh escaped his lips.

"I didn't want to wake up either," The voice sounded young, feminine with an Australian accent. "Well, what I wanted was to wake up and remember everything. Or have everything like I remembered."

She was young, blonde-haired, pretty, and offering a bottle of water. "Neither one has happened. But it does get easier." Her face crinkled in sympathy.

He sat slowly - he was becoming quite accomplished at not using his hands - and accepted the bottle. He fumbled with the lid, the cloth around his hands sliding around the plastic. Frustration bubbled in his throat. The inability to fend for himself would not help his situation. The urge to dash the object into the wall pushed blood to his muscles.

"Here, let me do that," She took the container and nimbly removed the cap. "I forgot about your hands." She smiled, and rolled her eyes. "I didn't have that to deal with at least. But you're not pregnant so it probably washes out."

He dropped his eyes to his hands, flooded with contrition. It was quickly followed with the now familiar fear. Was his temper so bad that mere frustration resulted in rage? Was that why Charlie believed him capable ….of such a violent act? He lifted his eyes to the woman. She was not exhibiting any outward signs of fearing him.

"Here." She presented the open jug, frowned, then helped him support it. "Jack believes in lots of water, no matter what the problem." She smiled, if not warmly, it was friendly. "He's a surgeon, not a regular doctor. He does pretty well and all, but don't go to him with a rash or a stubbed toe. He's not too good with those."

He drank thirstily, forgetting all for a moment as the water slid down his parched throat. He felt it hit his stomach. It had obviously been some time since he had eaten and he wondered momentarily what his last meal had been. He lowered the bottle, releasing it to her care, aware of the woman watching him. Sayid wiped his mouth on the bandage of his right hand and met her candid gaze.

"Did I tell you I'm Claire?" She shifted, plopping onto the rock floor, settling in. "Me, you, and Charlie. We could be a club. The Amnesia Club. Except we'd keep forgetting to come to the meetings." She smiled at her own joke.

Sayid did not offer that he gleaned her identity from Charlie's words. He made to drink again. Claire leaned in, providing aid with a smile.

"I guess you met Charlie." The smile dimmed a bit.

He did not flinch. It was ludicrous, his response to the image evoked.

"He's with Aaron right now. And Sawyer. Aaron's my son," she lowered the bottle, and continued to study him, prattling on comfortably. "And Sawyer…. he's Sawyer. You'll get to know everyone again. It's really rather odd at first, having to learn everyone's names all over. Some people will just tell you, other's you'll have to ask." Her face grew pensive. "People will react differently. Some won't believe you. Try to trick you into remembering something. Some will stare." She sighed deeply and picked at her wrist. "I scolded Shannon for staring." She stared at the floor.

"I am sorry for the death of your friend," Sayid said quietly, as the silence stretched. She was clearly grieving.

She tilted her head and drilled his eyes with hers. "See, I'm doing it. Wondering how you can feel nothing. Well," she blinked rapidly and scanned the cave. "Maybe not nothing. You seem sorry. But for me." She focused on his face again, her lips pulled tight. "How can you not feel sorry for you? For Shannon?" She shuddered, and rubbed her hands up and down her arms. "We thought you were dead, too. When you didn't come back."

Jack failed to mention any of that. Pursuit. A fall. A death. He summed it up as a pursuit, a fall, a death. Sayid had asked no questions. Now he wished that he had. Jack's relating could not be as painful as this.

"Everyone said you wouldn't let anything happen to Shannon. So if she was dead…. especially like that," her voice dropped, her view was now internal. "Then you had to be, too." Her sight included him again, as she lifted her small hand to dab her eyes.

He liked that image of him better. The brave and valiant hero, perishing with his lady fair.

"And Charlie says you had to be the one that killed her. Shannon wouldn't let anyone else that close. Not out there. It had to be you," Claire was openly weeping. "She was so ….beat up. You - someone hit her so many times. It had to hurt. She had to be so scared."

His stomach twisted again - tighter - he would be turned inside out soon. He drew the same conclusion that Charlie presented: if Sayid was alive when others expected - knew him dead, it followed that he contributed - killed this Shannon.

Claire crumpled into her hands. Without thought, he crawled to her and cradled her gently, awkwardly smoothing her hair as she leaned into him, her tears hot on as they streaked his good shoulder, her hands against his chest. Quiet tears slid from his eyes. He buried them in her soft hair and wished he could do the same with himself.

"Well now, good thing Chuckles ain't here to see this." Still another accent - how was it that Sayid could identify it as American south?

"Shut up, Sawyer," Claire sniffed and pulled away from Sayid's embrace. "Sayid, this is Sawyer."

A rangy man stood in the lip of the room, arms crossed loosely at his chest, weight on one hip, a smirk marring his face. His hair was long, tangled, a hank over an eye.

Sayid's arms fell emptily to his sides. He felt bereft. He kept his gaze low as he self consciously brushed the dampness on his cheeks.

She turned, scrubbing her cheeks, to glare at the man. Her pale skin was now red, her eyes very blue in contrast. "Now go away."

"Sorry. No can do. HasBeen sent me to get you. Your spawn is squawkin'. Needs a meal." He ambled to the couple and offered Claire a hand. She accepted, smiling warmly up at him, and climbed to her feet. "Go feed that boy."

She turned back to Sayid, "The key is to be upfront. If you want to know, ask. If you don't know, ask. If you don't get an answer, ask someone else." She smiled weakly. "And drink lots of water." She touched Sawyer's arm and hurried from the room.

The two men watched her leave. Sawyer swung his attention to Sayid.

"Heard you got yourself a memory problem." He towered over the seated man.

Another set of blue eyes. If he hadn't met Jack, Sayid would think fair-haired, blue-eyed people inhabited the island. He untangled his legs and made to stand. Half way up, his head spun and he teetered, falling into Sawyer.

"Whoa there, cowboy." A firm handgrip steadied him. "That ain't gonna work." For the second time in this new life, Sayid was eased to the ground, this time to a sitting position, his back pressing against rock as well. "Better?"

Sayid nodded, closing his eyes, hoping the walls that were not supporting his back would stop spinning when he opened them.

"Here," the voice was gruff. "It's what I give to all the swoonin' ladies."

Sayid recognised the weight and shape of a water bottle thrust into his hands. Evidently, Jack was noit the only one who prescribed water. The seated man took several deep breaths and cautiously opened his eyes a slit. When the walls remained still, he opened them completely. The tall man - Sawyer - was squatting mere inches away, his eyes raking Sayid's face.

He was already beginning to tire of the expression - as if by drilling into him with their eyes, Sayid would be unmasked or cured or whatever they were attempting to accomplish. He dropped the water bottle and tried to meet the scrutiny.

"So Mohammud, how's that terrorist cell you got goin' with old baldy?" drawled Sawyer. "Still celebratin' the plane crash?"

Sayid leaned back against the wall, looking up to the cave ceiling. It was exactly like the walls - smooth appearing, dark in color. He looked back to Sawyer and blinked slowly. He didn't need a memory to know that he was being baited.

"What is it about this island, everybody losin' their memory? Maybe I oughta hit ya in the head with a stick, knock it back in, like on TV when I was a kid. That seemed to work. Want hit with a stick, chief?"

Sayid met his gaze levelly. What response would stop this hectoring? Was this a pattern between them? With memories complete, did he find it as tiresome as he was finding it now?

"Hell, you're not gonna be much fun, are ya?" Sawyer stood. "You're a hot topic, know that? Everybody - seriously ev-ree-bod-dee - is weighin' in on your guilt." He grinned. "Or innocence. I figure after you and Sticks had at it," Dimples appeared with the smile as he lightly shook his head. "Ain't much innocence left." He winked, making the gesture salacious.

The smile faded slowly as Sayid did not respond. "Do you remember anything?" The accent was diminished, the mocking tone gone.

Sayid was not convinced of this man's sincerity but shook his head anyway.

"Jack tell you much?" Sawyer's tone shifted to cool.

"He may have. I was disoriented. And...disconcerted when I realized ..."

"Want the short version?"

Sayid weighed the offer: Sawyer did not appear to be a reliable source of information with his barbs, but he was the only one in the room. Sayid nodded. He could ask – following Claire's advice – others for validation.

Sawyer scratched his chin and sighed. "Shannon hightailed it into the jungle after you two had an some sort of spat. Momacita - Claire," he explained at Sayid's puzzled expression. "Heard it - somethin' about Mike's boy." This evoked a sigh and pause as Sawyer's eyes swept the cave. "You lit out after her when she didn't come back in time for lunch. Jack sent Locke and Echo the next mornin' when neither one of you came back. Day after, Locke found her," Sawyer swallowed. "Her body. Had the hell whopped outta her. No sign of you anywhere."

This time, the words did not wash over him. They stung, pricked, slashed at him. He did not know this woman, could not picture her, none of these names save Claire attached to real people. Yet he was sick as the tale unfolded, Sawyer's eyes locked onto his.

"Day after that, Jin and Echo found you at the bottom of a ravine," continued Sawyer. "You were sittin' up, dried blood all over ya, and ah…hell, what's the word? Yeah, non-responsive to questions. Thought maybe you hit your head somehow. You let 'em walk you back to camp. Took ya to Jack. That was yesterday."

Dried blood. He stared at his rag-covered hands. The woman had been battered and he was covered with blood. He pulled at an end of the bandage's knot on his left hand. It slipped away as his cloth encased fingers fumbled. His second attempt garnered the same result. He clenched his jaw and frantically tore at the dressing edge at his wrist. As its soft edges resisted him, he raised his hand to his teeth to pull, his breathing growing ragged.

"Hey!" objected Sawyer as he stepped closer. "I don't think that's a good idea."

They must be removed. He must see his hands. He must see the hands of a killer.

Sawyer agitatedly hovered, then leaned in, trying to catch Sayid's wrists. "Sayid, stop it!"

Sayid flailed, striking blindly at his captor. He felt skin rend as his left fist struck Sawyer's chin, who grunted with the blow.

"Sawyer!" Jack's voice filled the room. "Let him go!"

Sawyer dodged the other hand, and continued twisting, working to press Sayid to the ground. "Could use some help here, Jackass!" the accent was all but gone as he shouted, seeming to struggle to avoid the wounded shoulder. "Damn Arab, goin' nuts!"

Jack rushed to the thrashing pair and with effort freed Sawyer of the tangle of flying arms. Sayid laid still, gasping, eyes wide as Sawyer straightened to full height, moving his jaw from side to side.

Sayid closed his eyes, as a huge weight seemed to press him into the floor.

He had murdered a woman. He could not recall a word, a step, a blow that he made against her; he could not produce the woman's face, her voice, how he felt at her touch; but the few facts presented by the collection of people that had spoken to him today - that were introduced to him - lead to that conclusion. He stared unblinking at the infirmary's stone ceiling, heard Jack and Sawyer's angry exchange bounce around him.

A woman's voice - strident but not shrill - broke through his trance. American accent, slightly different from Jack's. Sayid turned his head to see a short, dark haired woman standing toe to toe with Jack, gesticulating at his bed. She was using words like 'dangerous', 'restraint', and 'lied'. Sayid found her eyes - brown. She caught him looking and glared at him before resuming her tirade.

He missed Claire. He wanted her to come back and be calm, to smile. He wanted to touch her hair again.

The dialogue raged around him. Too much was happening for him to process or absorb it. Too much of it was information that he did not want. He wondered vaguely if he could run from the cave if he were able to stand. He felt odd, unattached to his body. He wondered if he felt this way before. Or often.

Another person entered the room - blonde-haired woman, older than Claire, eyes of green - bearing a makeshift tray. He wondered if he was simply an audience of one for a very oddly cast play, the room the stage, people coming in and out stage center, all for his entertainment.

His stomach growled loudly - something smelled very good on that tray - and he hoped that the food would be shared. He was hungry.

She made her way towards him, but was intercepted by the dark-haired woman midway. "Libby," she hissed. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

The blonde-haired woman frowned lightly. "Helping Sun out, like you said to do, Ana Lucia. She asked me to bring Sayid his dinner."

"I didn't tell you to feed him! In fact, didn't I tell you to stay away from here?"

He watched Jack and Sawyer exchange glances during this brief discussion: a common enemy in the dark one. He allowed his vision to drift back to the women.

Libby met the glare, then wavered, dropping her glance to the floor.

"Let the woman feed the man, Rambina," said Sawyer. "He's not gonna touch her while we're standin' here."

Hot shame raced through him. Sayid turned his head, appetite lost.

"And the tussle you two were having when I came in," shot Ana Lucia. "He wasn't touching you then?"

"Get real," replied Sawyer with a slight snort. "That was a misunderstandin'."

The dark haired woman crossed to Sayid and prodded him with her shoe. "Hey."

He licked his lips, pushed up onto his elbow, and moved to meet her glower.

"Sit up. Don't touch Libby or I'll kill you."

He did not look away as Jack, Sawyer, and Libby's voices chimed together in protest. Sayid sat up slowly, eyes locked with the brown-eyed woman. He leaned carefully against the wall. It felt like he had performed the same motions for eons. Was he really on an island? Was this really a cave?

"Look," Ana Lucia faced the chorus as Libby slipped past to Sayid. "Until we know for sure what he did or didn't do" her voice dripped with disdain. "All I'm asking is for him to be restrained. Until we know one way or another."

"Restrained how, Ana?" asked Jack.

Libby placed the tray to his left side, then sat next to it. She smiled at him. He appreciated it, especially with Ana Lucia there to see.

"No pits here, Deputy Dawg," added Sawyer. "In the mood to dig? I'll make ya a shovel. Even try not to throw some rocks atcha while you're workin'."

"What about this hatch I keep hearing about?" She disregarded Sawyer and addressed Jack. "Any rooms with locks there?"

Libby offered a coconut bowl to him. Soup. Its smell was ambrosia. He took it carefully, and realized with dismay that his hands were shaking. She glanced at his face, and reclaimed the bowl.

"Ana, are you seriously suggesting that I lock Sayid up? Just lock him up and what? Throw away the key?" Jack rolled his eyes. "We don't know if he - what he did."

"She's dead. I saw the body, Jack. It coulda been the Others except he wouldn't come away alive. Not when you're an adult. Never.

"And Libby saw his hands. They're bruised and cut. Seems to me two plus two is one dead Shannon. And that's one too many." She rocked back and forth on her heels. "Look, I don't know the guy. Maybe that's in my favor. Maybe I can be more objective than you."

"Excuse me," said Libby calmly. "Could you take this conversation out of here? Please, Ana Lucia?"

"No!" The shout did not echo. Sayid considered that strange, given all the rock around them.

Libby twisted her mouth. She traded looks with Jack. "C'mon, Ana, you taught me everything you know about self defense. You're all of ten feet away. Nothing is going to happen to me with you just outside the door, not with you watching him like a hawk."

Jack, after a silent exchange with Sawyer, started for the exit, Sawyer close behind. Ana Lucia looked between them and Libby. She stepped over to Sayid and knelt. "Touch her and you die, got it?"

Sayid considered her intense expression. "Yes."

She made a warning face at Libby and hurried to catch up with the two men. Ana Lucia stopped just outside the arch and planted herself facing the seated couple.

Libby shifted so her back was to the crowd. "When was the last time you ate?"

He lifted his shoulders minutely. "I do not know." The malignant eyes removed, his appetite was reviving with the delicious smell wafting his way.


"Today. Claire gave me water." He patted the rumpled blankets. "Sawyer," the names were so odd to his tongue. "Left me a bottle. When I ..swooned." His lips formed a smile. It felt strange.

It must not have looked strange. Her lips twitched, then broke into a full smile

"Doesn't count if you don't actual drink it," she produced the full bottle of water from near his leg. "I think you're dehydrated. Shaky hands. Dry mouth? Dizzy when you stand?"

Sayid nodded. "You are a doctor?"

Libby laughed ruefully. "No, but I play one at work." She noted the lack of response. "Nevermind. I'm a therapist. More spirit than body. Not a whole lotta help here." She rolled her eyes. "But I run. Ran a marathon last summer - all 26.2 miles. Not sure how much that is in kilometers. Sorry, so American of me. Runners are lectured regularly about the hazards of dehydration. Let's start there."

She unscrewed the cap, and placed the bottle in his hands then guided them to his mouth, gently cupping the back of his hands. "Jack should have caught this, though. Did he suggest water to you?"

He was grateful for her tact, her help as his hands shook as he drank. He suspected that he would have spilt more than drank without her.

"You'd think I was a dentist," she continued, dropping a hand to his shoulder as the bottle slowly emptied. It was warm on his skin, rough when he expected smooth. "Asking questions while you can't answer. So I'll talk.

"For the record, you don't really know me. I'm Libby. The bossy one is Ana Lucia. We were with the tail section on the other side of the island. We've been here about a week so I can't answer a whole lot of questions about anyone else but I'll give 'em a go, if you're in the question asking mood."

He began to lower the bottle. She took it, glancing at its level. "You're gonna have to do better than that. But soup is fluid, so let's move on to the second course." Setting the water on the floor, she picked up the bowl. "I forgot the spoon so it's 'eat like an Asian time'."

Again, her hands supported his, her continued touch comforting as the broth sliding down his throat.

"I don't get many opportunities to chat at will, Ana Lucia isn't much of a conversationalist, so pardon me if I jump at this. Let's see…. figures, I'm drawing a blank so I'll talk about sushi. And miso. I love miso -"

He pushed the bowl away from his mouth. "Ana Lucia said that you saw my hands. I …know that Jin and Echo brought me here. How did you - how did that happen?"

She considered him, her smile dimming as sympathy colored her eyes. He hated pity. He didn't want pity. It was not warranted.

"You're stubborn. No charge for that diagnosis. I imagine others have told you." She lightly urged the bowl back. She waited until his lips touched the bowl. "Ana Lucia pimped me out as a doctor when you hit camp. No one knew where Jack was at first, so it made some sense but it was more that she didn't trust … you guys…to be upfront with what was going on. Turns out she was kinda right. Jack doesn't offer a lot of details about some things. She's good that way. Knowing what to do.

"She kept us alive over there. She was the first to recognize it when we started being picked off. She organized us - trust me, if wasn't easy to get some of those men to listen to a woman, especially one that short. We had to lose a couple more before they even looked up when she yelled. She taught us a lot. She saved my life. She's smart."

The broth was gone. They lowered the bowl. Chunks of fish and papaya rested on the bottom.

Libby gestured to his bandaged hands. "Willing to let me? I promise my hands are as clean as it gets here." At his nod, she tipped the bowl and pinched a piece of fish. She smiled as she placed into his open mouth. "Oh yeah, Sun said to tell you that there's no boar in this."

"Ana Lucia is smart," he parroted, swallowing the food. Sun had no face to him to thank for a kindness.

Libby paused, papaya ready, her expression shifting to caution. "Yes. Very smart. Street smart, people smart, and loud."

"She believes that I killed Shannon." Amazing the ease with which those words could pass his lips now.

Libby twisted her lips wryly. "Are you trying to run rings about me logically?" She touched his closed mouth with the fruit. "C'mon. Eat this. Good man.

"I don't know what Ana thinks definitely about what you did or didn't do. After our little adventure over there, she's not taking any chances. I'd say don't take it personally but that's stupid. It's all about you." She put the empty bowl on the ground and returned the water to him. "Bet your shaking is gone now."

Sayid noted the slightest tremor in his hand as he brought the bottle to his mouth. The danger of dropping the bottle was gone. He drank the bottle dry.

"See. Always get your medical advice from athletes." She smiled smugly. It dropped as she studied his face. "Sayid," her voice was lower as she took the bottle. "Don't accept a majority's opinion because it's the easiest path. If you -"

"For the last time Ana, it's too late to walk to the hatch!" Jack crossed into the room, Sawyer, Ana, and an older bald man following him. "And we're not trussing him up like a convicted felon!" They stopped as a group at Sayid's feet.

The unknown man's smile at Sayid was open and friendly. His eyes were blue - bright blue. "Hello Sayid. I'm John Locke. Get your dinner?" Another American.

Sayid dipped his chin in acknowledgement. The odd sense of detachment had eased considerably.

"Tie him up or I sit up with him. All night. With my gun," retorted Ana Lucia, drawing the attention back to her.

"That's MY gun, sugar," snorted Sawyer. "And I want it back."

Libby's exhale matched the resigned drop of her shoulders. She gathered the meal's remains, and stood. Her smile returned but weak. "I'll get some more water," she said to no one and left.

Jack sighed, closing his eyes. His shoulders slumped, his face revealing weariness as he rubbed his eyes. "Look, Ana, I sleep here. There is no need -"

"Exactly, Jack," she loaded his name with mockery. "Sleep. He could get to the beach and back before you knew it. I'll just sit right there," she pointed to the wall opposite Sayid. "And watch him. That's all. And if he so much as moves, I'm shooting him. Dead, Jack." Once more, the use of his name was laden with ridicule.

Sayid shifted uneasily. It would be an easy death to be shot, for one who performed so violent an act.

"And if he snores?" sputtered Sawyer. "Gawd woman, you gonna shoot him for that, too?"

"Ana Lucia," said the bald man with a calming voice. "Is right."

The words knocked the breath from him. His head began to spin. He pushed his back against the stone. It was solid. It was as it was - immutable. It would be stone. That would not change when different people touched it. It would always be stone.

The others' expressions varied from surprise to satisfaction - as the trio turned to John Locke.

"Given how people are talking about this situation, Sayid might need protection," he stated firmly. "I'll take the watch with you, Ana Lucia."

Jack groaned as Sawyer erupted with disbelief.

"Fine, John," said Ana Lucia, her stance relaxing slightly. "You say potatoes and I order fries. I appreciate the backup." She turned to Sayid, her face displaying her fierce determination. "Let's be clear on this. This is no slumber party. Him here or not, you're not going anywhere. Not alive."

Sayid, eyes locked with hers, nodded once. Maybe it was a sign, an answer. Looking ahead, he saw nothing. He could make no plans. Did he believe in Fate?

Libby surprised him as she knelt next to him. A different type of determination flashed in her eyes, "Just because she means it," her voice was low, severe. "Don't you dare take that path. It might be sitting across from you but that doesn't make it the answer." She pressed a bottle, slightly damp, into his hands, rose and strode away, not looking back.

Sayid watched her go.