Chapter 13

It was growing dark. The day had been spent searching and he felt the weight of isolation.

He was relieved with what they had not found - no bodies, no dried blood on the ground, nothing rigged to ensnare. The food stores had been destroyed with a completeness that amazed them. Danielle had longingly touched a tattered label of a chocolate bar before releasing it to the wind but nothing edible was salvageable here.

They had trekked to the caves after the initial combing of the camp. He had little hope of anyone being found but the disappointment was strong when they discovered the caves were uninhabited. The signs of human occupancy were remnants from the time of Claire's pregnancy and Boone's death. They filled the water bottles in Danielle's rucksack and quietly stole away, back to the sun.

The results of their efforts were piled in a small mound near the signal fire. They had scrounged what they could. A small mound of clothing, Jin's fishing nets, large pieces of tarp that they fashioned into knotted bags capable of being carried. He focused on the finding of two shirts and a pair of pants in the rubble that had been his tent, ignoring the loss of everything else. It seemed small to feel the loss of Shannon's pink shawl, radio parts when there were no clues to the fate of the survivors.

He now pulled one of the shirts over his head, noting the soreness of his shoulders that indicated sunburn. He grimaced as sand dropped down his chest, some collecting in his waistband. He shifted slightly in a vain hope that the grit would continue its fall until it left him altogether. It made him uncomfortable.

Like the discomfort he was experiencing remaining near the camp.

He glanced at the sky. There was little daylight left. He wanted to be away from here before the darkness was complete.

Danielle left the surf to join him. She looked at the meager lot, her fingers capturing his wrist. "We should go. It will take some hours to reach my shelter."

He nodded. "You're comfortable traveling through the night?" He didn't want to stay but the sense of ill ease would not drive him if rest would benefit them more.

She nodded. "As we did last night." As she brushed hair away from her face, Sayid noticed a scrap of paper in her hand.

"What have you found?"

"This?" She smiled self-consciously, lifting her hand to share. "I found it over there." She gestured towards Sawyer's ruined shelter. "It's from a magazine." Her eyes hungrily followed the torn image of a woman dressed in something red. "It's pretty," she said softly.

He didn't recall seeing Sawyer's store of periodicals earlier, but he wasn't looking for them. It was easy to forget the seclusion that Danielle had lived for so long, how something as simple as months old journals would be a luxury.

"Come," he took her hand, warmth spreading through him at the idea of her pleasure. "There could be more."

They crossed to the bits of tarp and began to pull away the fragments of plane – the walls of Sawyer's home. Sayid tried to recall – if he ever knew – if Sawyer kept the publications in a box or loose. The southerner had traded them with hard bargains, creating an odd value for what was normally ephemeral material. So, he reasoned, the man would have stored them away from the entrance.

Pushing away fragments of the seat used by the Southerner for a bed, Sayid brushed at the loose sand and smiled in small triumph as he uncovered dusty, wrinkled glossy papers. A scantily dressed woman pushed pouting lips as if to blow a kiss as she contorted her very thin body on the water dappled blue cover.

"Danielle," the smile was in his voice.

She turned, and reached excitedly for his offering. She slowly lifted a page, all around her forgotten.

She would remember soon enough, he thought, noting the fast fading light. He knelt, looking for more of the collection.

His fingers struck very loose sand. He recognized an indentation and prodded downward until he encountered a firm and unyielding surface. He swept the sand away and could discern the silver of the plane exterior. More wall? Buried? He cleared more to find a corner and using both hands, pulled it up.

Sand slid down the surface, some onto a dark fabric. It was loose wrapping for some irregularly shaped items in a shallow rectangular cavity.

Sayid recalled Sawyer and Jack emerging from the shelter the day they were left camp with Michael, ostensibly to the village of the Others, before anyone knew of the murders. Sayid could picture the fabric bag of weapons in Sawyer's hands as he and Jack had argued about Sayid accompanying the party.

At the time, he had not considered how Sawyer had gathered the weapons, more intent on knowing plans, their moves. He was distracted from determining the storage place of the purloined guns, instead reacting to his instincts that all was not well with Michael.

His stomach now jumped with tense excitement as he pushing the metallic covering away. Danielle joined him, gazing at the cache.

She stooped and lifted the edge, then flipped it to the side.

The collection of odds and ends jumbled together did not include arms. Disappointment flooded him. It had been too much to expect.

She picked at a few of the objects. A bottle of liquor, books. "We can look at these more closely later." He squatted and grasped two ends and they lifted blanket, glass clanking softly, as if in protest for the rough treatment. Sawyer would not approve of -

Rifles. Under the blanket.

He could not stop the thought 'buried treasure'.

"Sayid!" Danielle froze, glancing to his face, and back to guns.

The number was reduced to – three –no, four of those Sawyer had stolen from the gun locker in the hatch, when he declared himself "sheriff". The weapons that Jack and Sayid had decided would be safe hidden away until needed.

When they left with Michael. And now.

They lowered the bundle hastily, and knelt on the edges. She reached, her hand pausing. Despite the deepening gloom he could see an array of emotions crossing her face – relief, satisfaction, tension.

"There should be ammunition as well," he offered. "There was a complete arsenal at the hatch. Sawyer is, if nothing else, thorough."

She did not meet his eyes, carefully selecting a rifle, standing to run her hand up and down the stock and barrel. "Now we no longer can only run."

"They have weapons to match," he said, tossing her a box of bullets and loading the rifle he chose to carry. "Unfortunately, we have provided them with a number ourselves, and while we don't know their count, we do know that they outnumber you and me. We are not in a position to make a direct confrontation."

"So indirect."

The darkness now hid her expression but he detected still the presence of strain.

"In time." He said, and slung the rifle strap over his right shoulder. He knelt to load the rifles and bullets in the makeshift tote, and straightened, lifting it.

He wondered the source of her disquiet as they started to the fire ring. If he thought about it at all, he would have expected the possession of a rifle would ease Danielle's mind, allowing her to feel less vulnerable. He hadn't considered that it also could mean the return of responsibility. If they possessed the means, they must attempt to find and free the survivors.

They quickly combined Sawyer's bounty and their original collection. The additions added to the weight of his pack but he packed carefully with efficiency and comfort in mind.

He resisted the urge to look again at the area that had served as home as Danielle crossed the tree line. He carried more than the scraps they gathered from the beach with him. Destroying his shelter did not destroy the reemergence of his need for connections, the friendships made, the bonds of a community. Nor did he leave behind the deaths, heart ache, or exposed shortcomings.

Sayid listened for a moment, picking out the sounds of Danielle's footfalls. His lips curved slightly as they stilled, knowing that she was listening, too, and waiting for him.