He blinked. A sound had wakened him. He pushed up onto his elbow and waited.
A soft tap at the door was repeated.
He climbed from the bed and stood before the entrance. "The door is locked."
"Sayid, it's me, Claire. Can I come in?"
"If you can unlock the door."
He listened as she inserted the key. He stepped back as the door swung open. Claire smiled tentatively and entered.
"I have mangoes," she held up a bowl - stainless steel bowl. She looked around, her smiling fading. "It's not so good in here, is it?"
"It has a cot," he replied.
"I got so bored I peeled mangoes. Aaron is napping, and I don't know who's scarier: Locke when he's watching those numbers count down, Locke when he's entering numbers, or Mistereko because…. he's Mistereko. They're not as much fun as Kate or Hurley." She stood in the center of the small room, bowl now held close. Her brow creased. "I should have brought a chair instead."
Sayid gestured for her to sit on the cot. She perched on an end. "Mango?" she offered the bowl.
He sat at her feet and determinedly fished a slice of the slippery fruit from the container. He carefully lifted it to his mouth and chewed, nodding as she watched him.
Claire frowned, "I suck at this."
He waited but when her face stayed crestfallen and she offered no explanation he asked, "What is 'this'?"
"I don't know," she shrugged. "Hiding from Charlie? Being a friend? You're in the middle of a riot on the beach today and I say 'mangoes' when we see each other." She gazed miserably at the fruit. "How are you?" she asked in a tiny voice.
He considered the question. "I would have preferred staring." His cheeks rounded as he smiled.
She chewed on this, then smiled broadly. "You haven't been given the evil eye by Tracey for getting too close to Steve."
"Will I get the evil eye from Steve for getting too close to Tracey?" Her shining countenance was a balm.
"No one gave the evil eye like Shannon! The day Kate touched you…" she trailed off. "See, suck."
"What she was like, Shannon?" It would have to be easier to hear from this woman. He was not sure that he was ready but he could not rely on being alone with her again. Like this.
Claire bit her lip, studying him intently in the dim light. "Are you sure?" she asked softly.
He nodded, trying for resolute.
She sank back against the wall, pulling her legs underneath her. "You know, I tried to think what I would tell you if you asked and I had a wonderful speech all put together and I can't remember a word of it right now." She sighed. "She was beautiful."
He initially watched Claire's face as she produced an image of Shannon Rutherford - he just became conscious that he had not known the woman's last name until hearing it - as Claire knew her in their time on the island. As the picture of a young woman coalesced, he leaned against the folding bed, cradling his head on his arm. He stared into space, drawing as much color, depth from each tale as he could - the golden dog Vincent; the orange bikini of which Claire was scandalized and envious; the large not green fish tricked from Charlie; the loud and comical, as Claire presented them, arguments with Shannon's brother; a third hand story Claire related of Sayid and Shannon working together, translating French from a map under Sayid's blue tarp, that evening ending with the two of them by the yellow flames of the signal fire, a pink shawl about her shoulders as she sang to Sayid..
As she continued, Claire's voice grew sad, and she began to stroke his hair, slipping fingers through its curls. He relaxed into her touch, allowing his eyes to close, her voice comfort as he drifted.
"Sayid," Claire's voice was in his ear and her hand on his shoulder. "Aaron's crying. I've got to go. Get on the cot.
He blinked and stood. "Thank you."
"I will." He walked with her to the door.
She stopped and gazed into his eyes. "You'll remember soon, Sayid Jarrah." She gently wrapped a hand around his neck, urged his face towards hers, and softly kissed his lips.
She smiled at his bemused expression, touched his cheek, and moved into the hall.
He could hear her lock the door. He listened to her footfalls fade, then returned to the cot.
There it was. Again. The scream.
He rolled from the cot, landed in a crouch and looked wildly about, his heart pounding. He was still, muscles tensed, listening.
Quiet. His breathing the loudest thing to be heard.
He straightened slowly, waiting yet.
He exhaled loudly and began to pace. The adrenaline in his system would not let him stay still.
He had heard screams. He saw nothing for the darkness, the high grass –
He stopped moving and tried to focus internally. High grass. There was high grass. She was screaming and he was looking for her.
He whirled and strode the length of the wall again and again. Remember. Focus. Screams. Follow the screams. Remember.
He dropped his face into his hands, slid them into his hair and pulled. Remember. Remember.
Nothing. The screams were silent.
He slid down the wall nearest the lamp, knees bent. He stared into the light and in time his breathing eased, his muscles unclenched. He did not change positions.
His head had fallen forward and he now whipped it back, hitting the wall behind him. He jumped to his feet, scanned the room.
She was crying.
She was begging him.
She was cursing him.
She was bleeding.
She was crying.
He pressed cracked snapped her neck.
It stopped. As abruptly as it had started, the noise stopped. There were no more crying. There were no more screams.
Sayid fell to the floor, sobbing.
He had killed Shannon Rutherford.
He sat up slowly. He licked his lips. There was water by the lamp.
He stood straight, and walked to the door.
He pounded. "John Locke!"
He stepped back, and waited.
His breathing was steady. He was calm. There was peace in knowing.
He waited by the door. It was not difficult to wait now. He was at the end. He knew.
"Yes, Sayid?" called John Locke, the tumblers in the lock falling open. The older man entered the room. "Do you need something?"
He spoke quietly. "I remember. Shannon's death. I killed her."
He saw her bruised face before him, blood lacing her skin, her teeth.
"In the jungle." He could see the tree, then the flora beneath her shoulders.
"I broke her neck." He saw the hands. Before they were bruised. Before they were swollen. Brushing away brilliant blonde hair, its length matted with blood from her neck. So that they could encircle the long, lovely neck and end her life.
He stood stiffly, his mind frozen on the image.
John Locke ran his palm over his head. "You're sure."
"I admit to my guilt."
"Okay," the American accent was pronounced as the word was drawn out. "Guess we better get Jack."
"Locke," it was Claire's voice. "I heard Sayid. Is he alright?"
John Locke turned, standing so that he filled the entryway. "Would you ask Mistereko to come here, Claire, please?"
"What's wrong? Sayid, are you okay?"
He backed to the far wall, his throat closed. He could not see Claire. The calm was shattered. A muscle in his jaw twitched as he clenched it tighter and tighter. His heart pounded louder and louder. Surely it would have to explode.
"Please, Claire. I need Mistereko to get Jack. Sayid's not feeling well - no, there's nothing you can do. I need Mistereko."
"Okay," she said it slowly, not convinced. "But I want an answer. Sayid, don't worry! We're getting Jack. Drink some water!"
John Locke stepped in after she was out of sight. "We'll get Jack here. Decide what to do next."
Sayid breathed deeply trying to slow his heart, and turned his eyes to John Locke. "Next?"
"You're confessing to a crime."
Sayid considered the word. Shannon's bleeding face locked behind his eyes, her cries ringing in his ears. "There must be consequences."
"Locke?" Misterecko's large frame filled the door.
John Locke turned to face the tall man. "I need you to get Jack, Mistereko. Sayid is not feeling well."
The long dark face regarded Sayid dispassionately. "Looks fine to me."
"You know what they say about appearances, don't you?" replied John Locke evenly. "And please don't say anything to Ana Lucia."
"She won't like that."
"Yes," nodded John Locke, rubbing his chin. "Yes, you're right. She won't"
"You'll enter the numbers?"
John Locke smiled. "Yes."
Mistereko looked between Sayid and John Locke and left the room.
"Put to death," said Sayid as John Locke started to pull the door shut.
"What?" John Locke paused.
"The consequence should be execution." His conviction to it as the proper action grew as he spoke. "I know this." The certainty was dizzying. He moved away from it. "Death."
"Well, that's the solution many societies take."
"Is it cowardly to request to be shot?" With all he was holding back, the question slipped away from him.
Sayid pulled the t-shirt over his head. It had the same symbol on the chest pocket of the pants now folded neatly on the cot. There was flicker of curiosity as to its meaning but it was stilled quickly. John Locke agreed that the Ana Lucia's choice of shirt was not one to be buried in as he handed Sayid his laundered clothes.
He did not understand why John Locke was insisting on Jack being here. It was not necessary. He had performed a heinous act. He must atone. There was no need to involve others.
He appreciated, stoically, the irony of his inability to staunch Shannon's face from rising before his eyes after the effort he made earlier to recall it. Now the sound of her voice crashed and echoed in his mind.
He stood stiffly, waiting.
"I don't understand." It was Jack's voice. "What do you mean he remembers? If he remembers, why is he still in here?"
"Because," said John Locke as he pushed the door open. "He says he murdered Shannon."
Jack preceded John Locke into the room, his face tight with concern, a small bag in his hand. He approached the standing man. "Sayid, John says your memory is back."
"Yes." He looked straight ahead, refusing to meet Jack's eyes.
"You remember killing Shannon?"
Jack sighed, smoothing his hand over the back of his neck. "How are you sure it's a real memory?"
"He went over the details with me pretty thoroughly," said John Locke. "They're consistent with what you found with her body."
"Yeah?" Jack sounded skeptical. "Watch much TV, John? Lots of forensic experts running around these days. I'm surprised you're one of them, your stance on science being what it is."
"I never said that science didn't have its place, Jack," replied John Locke calmly. "He remembers beating her with a cudgel. You found bark in the skin on her arms, hands, and shoulders. He remembers using his hands to snap the C4? C5? vertebra in her neck. He remembers doing that to her."
Jack frowned, "How about letting him tell me what he remembers? Sayid?"
Sayid swallowed and focused on the doorknob, trying to see it instead of her tear filled eyes. "There was a club. It was thick. It struck her. Repeatedly." he said in a mechanical voice, wishing the vivid images before his eyes would stop. "I wrapped my hands carefully on her neck here," he demonstrated on his own neck. "And I-" his voice wavered then returned full strength. "I exerted pressure sufficient to ..break… to kill."
He felt sick on many levels. That he was person who could hurt someone known dear to him, that he could torture and kill anyone, that he was so craven that his mind shielded him with blankness, that he had to share this shame – all these pointed to one solution.
Jack looked sick as well. He thought for a moment. "How is that you know which vertebra cause asphyxiation? No, how did you know how to break a neck?" He moved so Sayid had to meet his gaze.
There was no answer for that. "I - don't know."
Jack pondered Sayid's recital. "How did you hold the club?" His eyes shone with purpose. Sayid could not look away.
"I do not understand. I held it with my hands." One end was covered with her blood. The side against his palm was irregular with bark, his fingers touching smoothness as he grasped it.
"No. How were you holding it? Like a baseball bat? Like a golf club? With one hand? Two hands? Did she try to run? Stand and take it?
"Baseball bat, Jack? Think he's ever held one?" John Locke narrowed his eyes. "This isn't necessary."
Sayid stopped the discussion. "There was blood on my hands, her hair, her mouth. Her nose was bleeding. She was crying. She was begging me to stop. She was very frightened. Her eyes were wide. It hurt her to move. She screamed when I carried her."
Silence filled the room. Jack and John Locke exchanged tight glances.
"Sayid has requested to be executed for this crime. He prefers," John Locke scratched an eyebrow. "To be shot."
Jack exclaimed angrily that no one was being executed on the island. Sayid listened to the arguments - certainty of guilt, lack of holding facilities, danger to the others in camp, humane treatment of criminals, use of resources - rage around him. He noted that while John Locke presented Sayid's request to die calmly, the bald man did not express his own feelings concerning the act. Jack hotly debated against any such act, his feelings quite clear.
"What's your name?"
The question, shot by Jack, startled Sayid from his reverie.
"Jack," protested John Locke.
"John, there won't be an execution of a man who doesn't know his own name."
Jack's face fell. He looked around the room. A determined expression slowly spread across his face. "What's my name?"
Sayid's eyes slid from side to side, then met Jack's. "I don't know. It does not change what I did."
"Which was what?"
It was too much. Why would the man simply not accept what he knew to be horrible fact? "I murdered Shannon," he shouted, the blood thundering in his ears.
"Why did you kill her?"
"What?" He was not expecting this response. No one had voiced it before this.
"Jack, you're confusing him," interjected John Locke.
"Because he didn't kill Shannon, John," Jack enunciated each word harshly. He pushed his face close to Sayid's. "You think you're remembering? You think you know how you did it? Take me there."
"Sayid wasn't there when we found Shannon," said John.
Jack scowled as he quickly glanced over his shoulder to the man. "If his memories are coming back, he'll know where it is."
"From the beach," replied Sayid coldly. "I followed her from the beach. After she did not return for lunch. After we argued."
"Let's go," said Jack, picking up his bag and stowed it into his backpack. "Show me."
Jack started out the door and down the hall. Sayid fell in step after him. John Locke spun on his heel and headed the other direction.
Jack stopped at a rounded metal door, twisted the large ring, and turned to face Sayid, "Wait a minute. I want your word that you're not going to do something stupid. That you're going to do what I asked." He studied Sayid's face. "Or this madness ends here, with you back in that room." His brow creased as John Locke joined them. "Locke, put that back."
John Locke held a rifle. "The Sayid I know is a man of honor. If his honor demands this sacrifice, I'll do what's necessary."
"Honor? Sacrifice?" Jack's lips compressed. He stared hard at the older man, exhaling heavily. "I want your word," Jack set his shoulders. "Of honor. If one of us disagrees with the soundness of Sayid's …memory, it stops. All three of us have to agree he's there. If you can't do that, this stops here and it stops now."
"I'm not in a hurry to shoot Sayid." John Locke looked hurt.
Jack looked at the rifle. "Yeah. I can see that." He pulled the heavy door open and stepped out into the jungle.
They walked the thirty minutes to the beach in silence. Sayid briefly wondered at the freedom of his hands but the thought was quickly lost in the speeding and repeating images of Shannon. Sayid concentrated on Jack's bobbing pack, keeping them slightly at bay, allowing him to function.
Jack paused as they reached the edge of the beach. A different set of stomach muscles constricted as Sayid looked about the sandy camp. He half expected a new collection of memories to swamp him but was relieved when nothing fresh appeared.
"Can you do it from here?" asked Jack.
"There." Sayid pointed at a spot that was suddenly familiar to him. The images stopped. It was now a clear recollection. He marched a short distance and led the two men into the jungle.
His head felt clear. Moving to the end freed him. He moved as swiftly as Jack and John Locke trailing would permit.
He stopped at the edge of a clearing. The heart in his chest began to pound. He could see her. "Here."
Jack turned to John Locke, who nodded.
"She was here….. when I found her." He saw her face, taut with anger.
Jack stepped closer to Sayid and stood quietly at the shorter man's shoulder.
Sayid stared unseeing at the high grasses. "She wanted me to find her. She wanted to be found."
She was wearing pink. She looked lovely in pink. Her cheeks were pink. He told her that, that her cheeks were pink, like her clothes. He gave her a mango.
It softened her. It usually did when he complimented her. He would wait until she was ready to be softened, he would compliment her, and she would release her anger. It was their way. As short a time as they had been together, they had their way.
It hurt to see her here. In this meadow. Where she died. Where he killed her.
"Tell me, Sayid," urged Jack softly. "I know you didn't kill Shannon."
"We argued over Walt." He furrowed his brow as the face of an unknown child presented itself. "She said that she was going to find him. That she had seen him again.
"I did not believe that she had seen him, that she could find him." He looked at Jack. "Has he been found?"
Jack shook his head, exchanging a glance with John Locke.
Sayid turned his attention to a corner of the grasses, drifting in its direction.
Her smile was light. It was joy. He earned the smile with the mango and pink cheeks. She released her anger and played, childishly, running from him. He gave chase.
He caught her. She wanted him to catch her.
He wished that she was still running.
They kissed. The kiss grew deeper.
They made love.
The happiness of that time pierced him.
"We decided to stay here," said Sayid softly. "So, I built a fire. It was a poor decision." But he wanted the time with her. Her alone.
He could see her face, the firelight changing it with shadows, as she curled around him, asleep.
Her voice came from the side. He could hear her.
She was angry, calling him names, coarse names, the tears choking the volume, begging him. Please Sayid. Please. Stop. No. No. Please Sayid.
"She was hurt. Badly ….so badly……It hurt her when I touched her. She fought to breathe. Her asthma… but it was her chest…… the sound of fluid…..blood from her mouth….."
He stared without seeing at the ground.
"How did she get hurt, Sayid?" Jack touched Sayid's arm.
She screamed, the agony of the cries flaying him.
She begged. He refused the words.
Sayid turned to Jack. The words. Her words. He could not live with her words.
"She was dying."
He walked slowly, then sat slowly, for no reason. He did not know this particular spot. But he no longer wanted to be where they made love.
They had fallen asleep, he told Jack. He woke to Shannon shouting. There were people – not from camp. She was struggling with them. They had weapons – primitive weapons, effective. Deadly. He jumped to his feet and raced to her. Except he did not reach her. Some turned from her, others, unseen until that moment, and fell on him. His rage, fear fueled him but not sufficiently. He fell as his shoulder was pierced with a spear-like implement.
He regained consciousness to the sound of Shannon's weak cries.
He crawled the few feet between them. Her face, her pretty face, was as such that he was sick. He tried to assess the damage, tried to employ triage, calm her. His very touch resulted in tiny, quiet, screams, gasps of pain of that tore the breath from his lungs.
John Locke joined them, stood silently near Jack.
He had to get her back to camp, back to Jack, back to the infirmary.
The sound of Shannon's sobs grew weaker though her body strained as if wailing. Each step caused blood to bubble. The blood never stopped. Nothing would stop the blood. He knew first aid – long ago training – not enough. She gasped with each step. Her fingers no longer clutched his arm. She wanted him to stop.
He was still, cradled her gently. Not gently enough. Nothing was enough.
He recognized death in her breaths, at her color, the blood.
She asked him. He lied.
He ran with her again. She started the words.
He refused to answer. He ran further. She cried, and bled, and called him the names.
She begged him to stop. She begged him to listen. He ran.
He listened when she grew quiet.
He eased her to the ground, holding her close, as close as he could. She whispered now, of her love, of her pain. She tried to comfort him with sweet phrases of having love and sustaining memories. She cried for him.
He surrendered to the words. He kissed her softly, touched her hair, her cheek. He murmured his love, carefully placed his hands in position. He ended her pain.
He held her.
When she was cold, he stood and keened, slamming the hands on trees, rocks, always circling back to hold her. For a little while, longer until the stillness of her body shot him to his feet once more.
They sat in silence.
Sayid climbed slowly to his feet. He eyed the rifle loosely held in John Locke's hand. His brown eyes fused with the blue. It would be easier. With the sympathy pouring from John Locke's gaze, he believed it would be done.
"Please lead me to the hatch." He turned to Jack.
"World is safe for another hundred and eight minutes," announced Hurley, cracking his knuckles as he rose from the keyboard. "Time for a shower." He glanced at the quiet man at the bookshelf. "I'll be back, dude. Don't worry about doin' anything. I can't take that long if I try."
He ambled out of the room. "Hey Claire."
She waited until the heavy footfalls stopped. "Did you forget the meeting?"
"This is why this organization just isn't going to make it," Claire smiled, faint shadow of uncertainty at the corners. She patted the bottom of Aaron as she held him, swaying in an unconscious maternal rhythm in the entryway. "Amnesiacs forget to write it down. Or they forget to read their calendars."
He watched for a time. The silence was not uncomfortable. "How do you do it?"
"What?" She entered the domed room and sat tentatively onto the odd color couch. She laid the baby on the cushion, gently catching his arms and legs in cupped hands as he waved them about. She peeked at the man, then returned to the game with her child, kissing the bare skin with each catch, murmuring softly sweet, heart felt sounds.
"I thought I would remember – more …. than her death." He crossed and squatted next to the baby. "But I do not." He watched the game, and smiled sadly at the instinctive sounds they made.
"Too bad you didn't keep a diary," she remarked. "But even then you're not really remembering. You're reading about this person who is you. But it stops Sawyer from saying that we've had a thing." As Aaron snagged a finger and dragged it to his mouth, she studied Sayid. "I've had flashes, like Jack said I might but they're more frustrating than helpful. A little scary. So I don't have any big stirring words to help."
"I was not expecting big stirring words." His smile was fleeting. Without thought, he stroked the plump white leg kicking near him. "I do not know what to do…. now." The tunnel of null was breached but still holding.
"You could go back to the beach. Hurley told me Locke showed Ana that stick he found….where …Shannon," she trailed off, bending to buzz a kiss against the wiggling baby's belly. "People know for sure now." She straightened and looked at him. "Dr Arzt used to say some people know it's a rock when it hits them."
He looked at her blankly, and plopped to floor.
She sighed. "Dr Arzt was this sort of know-it-all kind of guy…..predicted a monsoon to start a few weeks back ….blew up when Jack and Locke and Kate… never mind. He drove Charlie crazy." An obvious sore topic as her eyes grew pensive and dropped to her child.
"How is Charlie?" Even now his stomach curled at the name, the face evoked.
"Aaron and I are going back to the beach today." It sounded like a non-sequitur, but Sayid knew it was not. "Locke says he's really trying this time." She lightly stroked Aaron's head. "I think Aaron's missing him. I miss him," she said softly. "But I didn't know about it the first time and this isn't exactly a shining example of stability, is it? We've been here under two months and he's on his second rehab. What kind of influence will he be on Aaron?"
She flushed. "I sound like totally hatstand, don't I? A few kangaroos loose in the top paddock. Smile, Sayid, I'm being colorfully Australian."
He smiled. For her.
"Well," she bent at the waist and gathered the boy. "I guess I should finish getting ready then. Jack's taking me back when Michael and Cindy come for their shift."
Sayid stood as she rose from the couch.
Claire hesitated, then plunged ahead. "They went back .. to where Shannon thought she …saw Walt. Locke, Michael, and Jin. They didn't find anything. I thought you should know. Someone might mention it and it's easier not to …show when you have fair warning."
"You ought to go back to the beach. Hiding in here doesn't help." She was swaying once more. "Talk to Jack." She urged. "You can visit us. We like company." Claire disappeared down the corridor.
He sat on the couch and watched the timer count down.
As Hurley bustled back into the room, he decided. He would take Claire's advice: it would be good to hear the surf, feel the sun. Possibly remember.