Title: Release
Rating: M (sexual situation, violence)
Featured Characters: Sayid, Danielle Rousseau
Summary: AU. Begins at the end of season 2. Sayid and Danielle set out to rescue Kate, Jack, and Sawyer
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.

"No, Sayid, I don't see it that way at all," stated Locke forcefully. The bald man squinted at the fire then looked back to him. "What we need to do – "

Sayid stopped listening after 'no', resisting the annoyed twist his lips wanted to take. They had been arguing for what had to have been hours and were nowhere near a consensus beyond the fact that the Others had the doctor, Kate, and Sawyer. He wondered if Locke would concede even that point if Hurley was not present. Sayid was tired of biting back words, battling his temper as Locke blocked his every suggestion. The older man seemed content to let the captives fend for themselves, advocating firmly that this camp would be left alone. Now that fealty had been paid for Walt's release, peace would reign.

Support was not to be found. Only Sun, then Claire weighed in that rescue was necessary. Both had long wandered off as Locke discounted their words politely but firmly. They wouldn't be going; their votes did not count. Sayid shared their frustration with the man, wishing he too could simply walk away.

No one else offered opinions. For too long, Sayid realized, the decision making process was Jack alone, no input accepted. Sayid acknowledged that the other survivors, him among their number, had been happy to let it be so. That no one thought now was a time to change from autocracy to democracy was not surprising. Letting Locke step in and decree life go on was fine to them. Which would be acceptable if he could overcome Locke's reluctance to act.

He needed Locke. He needed Desmond. He would take Charlie, Hurley. Eko's presence could be a deciding factor if his wounds from the hatch explosion weren't so severe. Steve. Ana Lucia. . He rolled his lips ruefully. Ana would have contributed greatly. As would Kate – if he wasn't trying to raise a force to free her. Jin. He did not want to include the man with the thought of a pregnant wife's safety distracting him

There was a need to have a defense here. He doubted an attack – surely that would tax their number too greatly - but he was done underestimating the enemy. The civilians required –

His musing stopped at the sound of his name.

"I hate to say it, Sayid," Locke was drawing to a close, his eyes glittering as he peered at the flames. "But your last plan didn't do so well. You didn't see hide nor hair of anyone once you got off that boat." The piercing gaze found his. "Not as bad as Custer, but –" He lifted his hands, palms up, and smiled without teeth.

Sayid did not take the time to understand the comparison but now was not the time to ponder then argue it. Now was time for retreat. It was not capitulation. He was not done with this. "We'll talk in the morning, John. It's late."

"Nothing more to say," argued Locke.

Sayid stood, stretching his back. "Then it will be a short conversation. Good night, John. Hurley."

There was satisfaction in striding away to his shelter. It was a small satisfaction, but he would accept it. There had been so little of it of late.

As he fumbled with the binding of the tarp walls, he wished that his persuasive skills were greater. Leaving Jack, Sawyer, and Kate at the hands of the Others was not acceptable. Why was this such a difficult concept for Locke? Could family mean so little –

He turned at the scrunching of sand behind him.

Hurley, head down, lumbered to the edge of the shack. He cocked his head, then raised his face. "Dude, I screwed up, didn't I?"

Sayid dropped his hands to his hips. He shook his head with a slight shrug. Did the young man mean his silence during the arguments? He did not think that Hurley's words would have carried much weight with Locke.

"I shouldn'ta told Locke what that guy said. About never goin' back there, where Jack and Kate are. And Sawyer. I meant Sawyer, too," he added quickly.

"Hurley, you did as instructed," said Sayid without hesitation. "What we do with the information is up to us. You could not know that Locke would react in this fashion. It would not matter if you had."

Hurley did not look convinced. He sighed and shifted his weight from side to side, as Sayid finished his preparations for the night.

"Hurley?" He was finished, the shelter sleep ready. He climbed onto the platform, pushing aside the tarp. "Is there anything else?" he asked over his shoulder.

"Dude, would you….were you ever…" Hurley's voice dropped to a mumble as his eyes studied his feet. He bit his lip and exhaled sharply. "Would you have ….stayed?" He lifted his eyes and fixed them on Sayid's. "They were tied up and gagged and Kate looked scared and I…..left. Would you a left?"

Sayid blinked in surprise. He considered the question carefully, noting the expressions of hope and trepidation cross Hurley's face, so plain even by moon's light. "I have not found myself in that position," he said slowly, raking his hair with his fingers. "But I do not believe that you had a choice. If you had attempted to stay, you could have wakened to find yourself alone and possibly bound. At best. Or perhaps you would have been killed."

Hurley's eyes grew large and he took a step back.

"You did the proper thing, Hurley."

Hurley nodded, his mouth pulled tight, and sighed loudly. "So you woulda done the same? You woulda left?"

Sayid tipped his chin. "What's the expression? Better to live to fight another day? Yes. I would have left."

Hurley bobbed his head, the curly hair moving as a unit. "Thanks, dude." Hurley turned and shuffled away.

Sayid watched the large form return to the fire circle. He slipped behind the tarp and sank onto his pallet. He untied his trackers slowly and pulled them off. He tugged his shirt over his head and lay down. His body was weary. Perhaps with sleep would come the means to bring Locke to reason. His eyes were heavy. His last thought slid into random dreams of chasing and being chased.