A/N: I have no rights or affiliation with the characters presented within this piece

Island Idyll

Sawyer looked up at the two men who had just walked out of the jungle surrounding the peaceful lagoon where he had been sitting reading in a shady niche by the water. Using his index finger as a place holder, he stared at them quizzically over the tops of his granny glasses.

"Help you, gents?" He inquired laconically. "Doesn't look like you're from around these parts." He added, his lips curving up in a sardonic smile as he gave them a critical once over.

"Might be that we're a little turned around." The taller and older of the pair confessed reluctantly, as his eyes narrowed and frown lines appeared across his brow. It was obvious he was someone who never liked admitting to uncertainty or requiring the help of others, particularly strangers.

Sawyer stood up, his lips quirking in amusement. "I'd call it more than a 'little turned around", Jimmy," he retorted, his voice indicating his enjoyment in the discomfiture of the man in the leather jacket. "What about you, Shaggy," he said turning to the younger man of the pair. He was scrawny with dark, brown hair that perfectly fit Sawyer's nickname for him and possessed a pair of the clearest sea green eyes he had ever encountered. "Looking for Scooby and the rest of the gang are you?"

"How dare you bestow nicknames on Stone Cold and the Jackal?" The boy sputtered indignantly, "That is the sole purview of the Jackal, his way of incorporating salient character points into short, revealing vignettes of character analysis…" He trailed off uncertainly, until he could resist it no more and caved into his innate curiosity. "Jimmy," he queried, needing to know, "Why would you come to label Stone Cold by such a common form of nomenclature?"

Sawyer had attentively listened to his rambling discourse, his head tilted to one side while he absorbed the boy's utterances, a look of keen interest on his face. When the young man, fumbled to an uncertain finish, he turned his cool glance back towards the other man and waving the hand he held the book in at him, responded. "Why, Shaggy, just you take a gander at him. He's wearing a leather jacket, jeans and boots, has that pompadour hair that was so popular back in the fifties, what else fits him but James Dean? Stone Cold, though," he mused as he stared reflectively into ice cold eyes that didn't unnerve him in the least, "That's pretty good too, it fits him.

"What about you?" He had never met anyone else who handed out nicknames like candy, "I think Shaggy fits better than the Jackal…" He glanced down at the book he had been reading, Frederick Forsyth's 'Day of the Jackal' and looked back up at the kid. "Wouldn't have anything to do with the anti-hero of this fine piece of literature, now would it?" He drawled, relishing the look of dazed amazement that gradually spread over the face of the boy as he slowly realized the connection between himself and the book Sawyer was so nonchalantly holding. Sawyer wasn't in the least perturbed by the 'coincidence'; this was merely the small stuff, just the island playing with them.

"How do you know all this Mystical One?" His previous animosity was all but forgotten in his desire to delve into the telling perceptions of the unknown man. "I indeed modeled myself on that shadowy figure of yore-though my realm of command is the cyber one." He drew himself up proudly, pointing to his chest, "I am the Jackal, assassin of the internet."

"Nice to meet you formally, kid. Although I think you'll find it hard to get a good signal here on Nowheresville." Sawyer was quite enjoying his interaction with the little Chatty Cathy. It had been a dull day before the strange duo had shown up and while the other guy might as well have been carved out of granite for all the talking he did, the kid was kind of entertaining, even endearing in a goofy kind of way.

"You don't know where you are either," finally the broad shouldered, sullen man had broken his self imposed silence to make his accusatory statement.

"Well, now Chuckles," he smirked at the clearly distinguished inward rush of air as the Jackal gasped at his effrontery. He fully expected the exasperating yet strangely charismatic stranger to be expertly laid out by a single blow from Stone Cold's iron fist. "I wouldn't say I do and I wouldn't say I don't."

The boy interjected hurriedly, addressing Sawyer while keeping a wary eye on the thunderous expression of his companion. "As much as the Jackal enjoys a good mystery, a riddle to solve as it were, he would ask the Mystical One to confine himself to plain speaking." He missed the less than subtle eye rolling of his companion in response to his speech. "Do you or do you not know the precise location of this," he flapped his hand vaguely at their tropical surroundings, "idyllic isle?"

Sawyer snorted derisively, "This so-called 'idyllic isle' as you so fetchingly call it is anything but…death trap is a much better name for this hell hole."

Now he had the undivided attention of the older man as his disconcerting ice blue eyes fixed on Sawyer's face, "Death trap?" he queried him, "There's danger here?" He had placed himself between Sawyer and the boy while he spoke and was reaching under his jacket causing Sawyer's own hand to begin stretching back for the gun tucked securely away in his waistband.

The imminent confrontation between the two men was forestalled by the stumbling appearance of a fourth man from out of the jungle. He was overweight with long curly brown hair and he pulled up short at the sight of the small group. Bending over he clutched at his knees as he tried to calm his agitated breathing.

"Hugo!" Sawyer temporarily forgot about the fun he had been having with his new playmates in his concern for the new arrival. "You all right there, Hoss?" He inquired gently as he squatted down so he could look up at his friend's face concealed as it was by the fall of his bushy hair.

"Sawyer," Hugo Hurley panted laboriously, "We've got to hide, it's coming!"

"What's coming?" The abrupt question came from the man in the leather jacket. His eyes started to scan the surrounding foliage as he looked for a potential adversary. Meanwhile, the Jackal simply stood there, his eyes wide as he tried to assimilate the rapid change in atmosphere from the gunfight at the O.K. corral to the advent of some unseen foe that had put them all on the same page of simple survival. Around them the jungle had grown eerily silent as the pervasive sounds of bird calls and the drone of insects came to a rapid and ominous halt.

Before either Sawyer or Hurley could respond to the question, there was a loud roaring noise that broke through the newly fragile hush of their surroundings; it sounded like a freight train approaching at full speed. There was no way to pinpoint the source of the unbearable auditory onslaught, it was all around them. The vegetation in the jungle quivered under the force of the disturbed air molecules as the tallest trees in the direction Hurley had come from began to topple over causing the earth to shake as they crashed into it.

"Hide!" Sawyer roared, shoving Hurley toward a pile of rocks next to the lagoon and grabbing the shaggy haired boy by his hoodie, yanked at him fiercely as he forced him to accompany him towards a nearby stand of bamboo.

The young man struggled with him every step of the way, twisting and turning as he tried to free himself from Sawyer's iron grasp. He gasped out, "Stone Cold, the grasshopper mustn't leave his Master's side in his time of peril."

Sawyer ignored him, dragging him deeper into the copse of wooden grass. He shoved him savagely onto the ground and the Jackal lay there winded, his fingers frantically digging into the red island soil as he tried to regain his breath. "Sshh!" Sawyer was glaring at him, his finger to his lip, his eyes communicating the need for absolute silence. He turned and looked out of the relative safety of their green enclosure searching for the man in the leather jacket.

He was standing right where they had left him, holding a gun steady in his right hand as he braced it with the left, calmly waiting for the emergence of whatever was traveling through the jungle at such a terrifying rate of speed. Sawyer felt an unwilling surge of admiration as he watched his coolness in the face of imminent death. His reluctant awe at the man's courage caused him to make one more attempt at saving him no matter how futile the effort and how foolhardy as well since he risked giving away his and the boy's hiding place. "Psst, Jimmy," he spoke with a sibilant urgency. "That monster ain't nothing you want to be messing with. You can't beat it and you'll only get yourself killed trying."

If the man in the leather jacket had heard Sawyer he gave no sign of it, he didn't move a muscle as he awaited his fate with an awful and immovable patience. Before Sawyer could say anything else, it was entirely too late. It came barreling out of the jungle, the noise increasing to even more torturous levels. The entity roared and buzzed as it gathered the stranger up in its smoky embrace. Tendrils of particulate matter wrapped around the man, spinning him up into the air like a child's top. Sawyer turned his head away, unable to withstand the high velocity wind that accompanied the creature's passage.

The blitzkrieg was over though only seconds had passed. The glade by the lagoon was now empty of both monster and man. It was once again a peaceful and bucolic place drowsing sleepily in the hot afternoon sun. Sawyer stood clutching a bamboo shoot feeling dazed and vaguely nauseous. He had tried to save him, he really had but the fool hadn't listened, how could that be considered his fault?

Hurley rose shakily up from his place of concealment, he shared a silent glance of empathy with Sawyer. "Stone Cold!" It was a helpless wail of loss. Sawyer turned back to see the boy still lying prone where he had pushed him but now his head was buried in the dirt and leaves of the jungle floor as his hands pounded the ground in an abandonment of sorrow.

Sawyer walked over to him and crouched down, he felt inadequate to offer any kind of comfort. He had known his own share of bereavement since arriving in this godforsaken place and he knew there was nothing he could say or do which would make it better for the boy.

"Hey, kid," it was Hurley, his voice low and consoling. He had joined them unnoticed by Sawyer and was bending over the boy reaching down to touch him to try and get him to still his frenetic movements and his heartbreaking sobs.

It worked, Sawyer didn't understand it, didn't know how it was that Hurley could manage to connect with people so easily. It was certainly a skill he himself lacked and right now he felt a little envious of Hurley as the boy stopped his uncoordinated thrashings and his mournful disconsolate cries and turned his tear stained face up toward him.

Sawyer liked the Jackal, he felt they had formed an instantaneous bond what with them both giving nicknames to people and all. So, he wanted to be the one to get through to him, to aid him in his time of need. Still, he was just satisfied that he had stopped that awful caterwauling, it had chilled him to the bone. He wondered what it would be like to have someone be in such a paroxysm of grief over his death. He knew that best he could hope for would be a mild sense of regret on the part of Hurley, Jin, hopefully Kate and just maybe the Doc. That'd be about it though he had to admit to himself with the honesty brutality that was his trademark characteristic.

"Look," Hurley went on, as the next words out of his mouth caused Sawyer to look at him in appalled disgust. "I know where the smoke monster's lair is. Maybe we could go and look for your friend see if we can find out what happened to him." Even Hurley wasn't either so stupid or so cruel as to hold out any actual hope of rescuing the kid's friend.

"I'll tell you what happened to him," Sawyer interjected, despising the expectant look that had spread over the boy's features when he had heard what Hurley had to say. "He got taken by the creature and he's dead, end of story!"

"Sawyer," Hurley was indignant, "You know that isn't the only way it goes. It doesn't always kill people-Locke saw it and survived and the Others seem to have some sort of relationship with it. Those French guys weren't killed either."

"No," Sawyer said with icy exactitude, furious with Hurley for making the kid think there was chance his-what had he called him? 'Master'-had survived. "They just went stark raving crazy until they had to be hunted down like mad dogs by Danielle. I'm so sure those were real happy times."

While they were arguing, the Jackal had stood up. He seemed oblivious to the dirt and leaves coating his hoodie and adorning his hair. "Can you show the Jackal where the Abominable One's hideout is?" He was looking at Hurley expectantly.

"Sure I could, it's in the base of the old temple. I'll take you there." Hurley was studiously not looking at Sawyer knowing without needing to see that he was glaring daggers at him.

"Neither of you are going anywhere." Sawyer said through gritted teeth as he finished the abortive movement he had first begun what seemed like hours ago but in actuality was only five minutes. Spinelli and Hurley looked down in stunned amazement at the gun which had magically appeared in Sawyer's hand.

His grandiose gesture fizzled as Hurley actually began to laugh. "Hugo," Sawyer groaned reprovingly. "It isn't safe for you or the kid to go after the smoke monster."

The Jackal hadn't been fazed in the slightest by the appearance of the gun. Stone Cold was always pulling his own gun out every other minute and he knew if someone was trying to use a gun to keep someone from doing something foolhardy it meant they cared for that person and ipso facto would thereby never shot them. He might, on the other hand, decide to cold cock them with the weapon to keep them out of harms way that was definitely something his mentor might do. So, his only reaction was to step back out of Sawyer's reach.

Hurley appeared to have reached the identical conclusion that the boy had. He too moved away from Sawyer still laughing uncontrollably at the thought of the man who had proven himself to not only be a good friend but actually rather sentimental, shooting either him or the boy to whom he seemed to have formed an attachment.

"I could wing both of you," Sawyer threatened with a growl, trying his best to look intimidating in the face of such complete and utter disdain for his threatening action.

"You wouldn't, "the boy asserted confident in his evaluation of Sawyer's personality. "The Jackal can tell you are a man who values commonsense and nothing would be gained by shooting to disable us."

"Yeah," Sawyer agreed, feeling thoroughly thwarted and disgruntled. "Nothing gained except saving your stupid lives. Well," he said, recognizing the futility of continuing the charade that he might have shot either Hurley or the kid, "I guess you fellows better be on your way then. I sure hope you don't expect that I'll be joining in on this little pilgrimage of yours."

Hurley had been secretly hoping for exactly that outcome once Sawyer had gotten over his fit of pique at the idea that the two of them weren't going to play the game his way. "Nah, we'll be fine," he tried to assert with a bravado he wasn't feeling. "I'll show the kid where the smoke monster's hidey hole is and that'll be that. We'll be back at the beach by sundown at the latest." He turned towards the young man, "Hey kid, what's your name anyway? I'm Hurley," he stepped forward his hand outstretched.

"I'm Spinelli," the boy's hand was engulfed by Hurley's much larger one. The ceremony of introductions over there was nothing to keep them from starting on their chosen path. The two began walking in the direction the monster had gone. Sawyer just stood there awkwardly, the gun still clutched in his hand.

Sawyer viciously kicked at an inoffensive rock and sent it spiraling. He grimaced and then called out impatiently. "Hey, Hoss, Shaggy-wait up! I want to see if Jimmy is good as you say he is…my money's on the monster."

"It is a wager you will surely lose," Spinelli asserted calmly. "Yet, the Jackal is very welcoming of the added companionship in case we encounter anymore anomalies. I quite feel as though we are embarking on a journey of exploration. This must be somewhat akin to the feeling that Lewis and Clark experienced as they set off on their expedition into the heart of an unknown land."

Sawyer grinned and nudged Hurley as they walked along, "Well then, Hugo, I guess that would make you lil' ole Sacagawea then."

Hurley grunted in exasperation, "Couldn't you just go back to the good old days of calling me Kong or Hoss?" He plaintively requested all the while having no expectation of Sawyer actually complying and ceasing his teasing. Sawyer just wouldn't be Sawyer without his snide remarks and innuendo. Truth be told, Hurley would probably miss his backhanded way of showing affection were he ever to change his habits.

The trio walked in the humid heat for more than an hour. They pushed through thick vegetation, skirted areas of swampy mud and took cover when an unexpected squall with needle sharp droplets of rain hit. Spinelli spoke little, his face pale and determined as they marched deeper and deeper into the jungle. Sawyer kept one eye on the kid, making sure he was holding up okay, and another on the surrounding greenery as did Hurley. They had both been on this island long enough to know to expect the unexpected.

Finally, they once again broke through the barrier of the jungle into a large clearing that was dominated by an imposing wall. It was made of large stones that probably weighed hundreds if not thousands of pounds apiece. It was crumbled in some places, apparently due to natural incursions as testified to by the silent, sinuous presence of vines creeping up and over the wall. Suckers had worked their way into any crevice, no matter how tiny, and overtime inexorably created breaks and cracks that eventually lead to pieces of the wall giving way to the ever present pull of gravity. The ground was littered with remnants of gray stones some large, some small. Yet, the wall, in all its ruination, was still a dominant presence, a palpable paean to its ancient architects. Only one corner was visible, rounded and vaguely sinister it sat to their right while the rest of the wall meandered off to the other side continuing along beyond their field of vision.

It was an impressive sight, eerie and spectacularly unanticipated on this pristine seemingly uninhabited island. Spinelli absorbed the vision of the wall, its dimensions and the oddity of its very presence, but he discounted it all in favor of running toward the crumpled body lying near the corner of the wall.

"Stone Cold!" He cried out breathlessly, skidding to a halt and falling on his knees next to the insensate man. "Tis I your loyal grasshopper accompanied by his companions faithful and true-the Intrepid One and the Renegade One."

Hurley visibly preened as he smirked at Sawyer who gave an exasperated laugh at the superior expression on the large man's face. "Guess we know which is which, eh dude?" He prodded his friend in the ribs eliciting an irritated grunt.

"Rather be a dashing renegade any day then some mealy mouthed intrepid jackass always doing the right thing, Sancho Panchez," Sawyer couldn't help responding to Hurley's jibe

"The Jackal thinks you meant to reference Sancho Panza the faithful squire in the classic novel Don Quixote," Spinelli threw the information out in an absent minded aside as he continued to pat his mentors cheeks, in an attempt to rouse him. "Stone Cold, you must awaken, you are breathing, you needs must return to a state of awareness." The boy was pleading with the unconscious man, whose eyelids were starting to flutter in reaction to his protégé's fevered ministrations.

"That's just what I said, Shaggy," griped Sawyer, he didn't like it when people made him feel unlettered. He hadn't had much in the way of a formal education it was true but he had tried to make up for it all his life by voraciously devouring any and all books that crossed his path. "Sancho Panza and don't go getting any ideas that I am going to follow you or Jimmy there around on some donkey while the two of you joust with windmills."

He stepped forward and leaning down helped Spinelli get the disoriented man in the leather jacket into a sitting position. "How're you feeling, Jimmy?" He asked him with casual concern.

"Like I was run over by a herd of elephants," he groaned, rubbing at the back of his head where a lump the size of a golf ball had formed.

"Hey, Dude, you ought to be grateful that you're alive, all your limbs are still attached and you're not crazy." Hurley had stepped closer and was chiding the stranger for not realizing how lucky his narrow escape had been. "You're not, right," he asked suddenly uncertain,"Crazy, I mean?"

"Stone Cold is one of the sanest people I know!" Spinelli replied defensively. He was ready to do battle to protect his mentor from these two people; who while he was appreciative to them for their assistance were still virtually unknown to him and therefore weren't allowed to cast any aspersions upon his friend.

"Relax there Shaggy," Sawyer interceded, it was odd to for him to be taking on the role of peace keeper. "Hugo was being cautious, just checking the situation with Jimmy here out. You learn to be prudent on this island or you tend to end up not breathing." He looked down at the man they had come searching for, he really had thought the most they might find would be a corpse, dismembered more than likely. "So, Jimmy, "he asked, genuinely curious, "How'd you get ole Smokey to let you go? He usually keeps what he gets until he's broken all the bones and sucked out the marrow."

The dirty blond haired man looked up at him, his face indicating displeasure with Sawyer's continued use of the unsought nickname. It was bad enough to have Spinelli calling him Stone Cold all the time but he'd gotten used to it by now, even kind of learned to like it but he didn't want the whole process to be starting over again. Still, that was the least of his concerns at the moment, it was more important that he make sure he, and especially Spinelli, stay safe for however long they were destined to be on this forbidding island.

"Shot him," he replied succinctly, relishing the look of pure astonishment that crossed Sawyer's face as he absorbed what Jason had said. "Hey, Spinelli," he twisted from side to side looking around the clearing, "Do you see my gun anywhere? I must have lost it when the smoke monster dropped me."

"This what you're looking for?" Hurley returned from his search after spotting something glinting in the slanting rays of the late afternoon sun. It had been lying near the wall next to a large, deep hole in the ground. He carefully handed the silver weapon back to the new arrival. It looked to be little the worse for wear.

"Thanks," he said briefly taking the gun as he started to stand but he fell back down, apparently too dizzy to stay upright without assistance.

"Stone Cold!" Spinelli cried in distress as he ran to his mentor, anxious that he shouldn't hurt himself any further. "Let the Jackal support you in your time of need."

Sawyer could see how much depending on someone else, even the kid, was damaging to his ego but he wanted to get everyone the hell out of this place before sunset. He wasn't interested in having a second go around with the smoke monster, particularly in the dark. In his estimation, they'd more than used up their quota of luck for the day.

"Here let me help you, Jimmy." Sawyer wrapped his arm around the stiff resistant waist of the man on the ground. He didn't speak a syllable but his offended pride was clearly evident in the carefully blank façade of his face as he attempted to quell a spontaneous grunt of pain as he was pulled none too gently to his feet.

The two men stood entwined for a long moment in order to allow the injured one to regain his balance while letting his body adjust to once again being vertical. Spinelli danced ineffectually around the pair, clearly anxious as he scanned his mentor's unreadable face for any signs of pain or imminent collapse.

Finally, the leather jacketed man took a tentative step forward away from the supporting band of Sawyer's arm. He swayed for an instant but impatiently waved Spinelli off as he jumped forward to help. Gritting his teeth against the pounding inside his skull he forced himself to take another step and then another until he had managed to walk several yards without collapsing.

Sawyer let out his breath in relief, he didn't know how well they would have fared if they had to carry a man through the ever hostile jungle in the dark. "Feeling better there, Chuckles?" He called out, delighted at the fierce glare that was received in return to his inquiry. "Yeah, looks like you're back to your usual happy go lucky self," he muttered under his breath.

Hurley was standing close to enough to hear him and couldn't help the guffaw of impulsive laughter that escaped him. "Sorry, dude," he said repentantly as the repressive gimlet stare was turned his way.

"Is this it?" Spinelli had wandered away from the group, reassured that an upright, glowering Stone Cold meant he was well on his way to recovery. He had walked over to the hole which seemed to run deep down under the stone wall. It had called to him and he stared down into its inky depths hypnotized by an appeal that even he couldn't have verbalized if asked. "The entrance to the smoke monster's lair," he breathed the statement out in unconscious awestruck veneration causing the hackles of the three men standing further away to arise in a unified atavistic fear response.

"Hey, Dude," Hurley called to the boy, uneasy about his apparent rapport with a hole in the ground. "Stay away from it, bad things are gonna happen if you fall down there. I doubt the creature is in a good mood after being shot by your friend here."

"Shaggy, now that we've rescued Jimmy here we need to be getting back to camp. It's late and it's never a good idea to be out in the jungle at night." Sawyer was starting toward the kid, he didn't want to get anywhere near the den of the monster but he wasn't letting anything happen to the kid either. Geez, he needed a keeper! He felt a sudden flare of sympathy for the arrogant SOB who obviously had his hands full preventing disaster from constantly befalling Spinelli.

"Spinelli," the sharp voice cut through the rapidly falling dusk, as hundreds of bats unexpectedly erupted from somewhere behind the temple walls. "Get away from there right now!" It was a command and it was obvious the boy was inured to obedience.

Spinelli immediately stepped back from the gaping aperture and it was as though a spell had been broken. He shook his head sharply as though clearing his mind of some intrusive spider web of thought. "Coming, Stone Cold," he replied docilely, turning and retracing his steps back to the waiting group.

"Let's go," Sawyer was itching to get away from it all-the temple, the lair, and the creepy bats. "Hey, Chief, need anymore TLC or are you good to go?" He couldn't resist needling the serious stranger, his reactions of barely controlled violence made it so fun. Sawyer had always loved playing with fire and he had the scorch marks to prove it.

"I'm fine," he said through gritted teeth. "I took down that smoke creature of yours didn't I?" So, he wasn't above rubbing it in a little either.

Sawyer grinned invisibly to himself, he was starting to enjoy this guy. He could hardly wait to introduce him to the Doc, another bona fide hero for him to compete against. Though of course there was also the downside of Jimmy upping the ante for Kate as well. He was just the type she was likely to go for, the perfect combination of the bad boy and the savior. Oh, well, whatever way it ended up, the ride was gonna to be fun and he'd been getting bored with the status quo anyway.

"Oh, yeah like you were the first person to ever think of firing at that thing," he taunted right back, giving as good as he got.

The other man shrugged his leather clad shoulders, the movement barely perceptible in the increasing tropical darkness. "It just worked, don't ask me why."

"Magic bullets maybe, Sunshine," Sawyer responded his voice a terse drawl.

He almost collided with the dark shape in front of him as the man in front stopped dead in his tracks. "Call me that again, and I swear…" for the first time since meeting him that afternoon, Sawyer could tell he was almost at the point of losing his temper. "My name is Jason Morgan, call me Jason, Morgan, Mr. Morgan I don't give a fuck. Just stop with the stupid nicknames!" His voice was a harsh rasp, as he was clearly only managing to hold onto his self control by a rapidly fraying thread.

"Or you'll do what, Chief?" Sawyer's cheerful cockiness was intentionally grating.

"Or I'll shoot you." It would have been funny if it wasn't so clearly a statement of fact.

Still this was Sawyer who had faced down a charging polar bear on his second day on the island and had emerged triumphant. So, he just ignored the threat and quipped back, "Quite a trick with an empty magazine there Jimmy. It appears you used up all your fire power on particle critter and it's not like bullets grow on the trees here in paradise."

Jason's only response was an irascible growl as he readied himself to strangle Sawyer with his bare hands when a miracle happened. "Stone Cold," the mildly reproving voice came from behind the two squabbling men. "You must cease and desist in your insistence in treating the Reluctant Hero as an enemy. It is only with his and the Gallant One's able assistance that the Jackal was able to come to your aid and succor. It would appear that we are in an extremely hostile environment and it would be the height of folly, not to mention bad manners, to repay their friendship with disrespect and violence."

The calm and reasoned speech allowed Jason to regroup and he lowered his arms, his tone sullen as he muttered, "He started it!"

"So, Jimmy, " Sawyer walked around Jason and the chastised man fell into step beside him producing a martyred sigh as he prepared himself to adhere to Spinelli's admonition and suffer the idiot next to him to keep on breathing and talking. God! He talked more than Spinelli did! "How is it that Shaggy can hand out nicknames and you let him but I try to get on a friendly basis and you get all homicidal on me?"

"That's because he's Spinelli and you're not!" Jason retorted sounding precisely like a five year old.

The two men wandered through the jungle exchanging insults as they began to form the basis of a potential friendship. Meanwhile, following closely behind, Spinelli and Hurley engaged in their own more mature and lucid conversation.

"What other extraordinary features does this island that appears to be a land out of both time and place possess?" Spinelli quizzed Hurley, his curiosity aroused. "I myself have encountered the oddities that are the smoke monster and the temple, a monument clearly built in history's hazy past."

Hurley didn't answer right away and the two of them walked along in silence trying to pick their way the best they could in the near total blackness. It was the new moon tonight and there wouldn't be any otherworldly lunar glow to help them see their way, only the faint luminosity exuded by thousands of stars countered the obscure darkness. The pair was lead on by that infinitesimal glow and the never ending bickering that clearly marked the passage of their respective friends.

Finally, Hurley spoke. He had been ruminating over the myriad mysteries the island could lay claim too and had determined to recite an abbreviated list so as not to unduly alarm the kid. "Well, for one thing it can't be found. There's some sort of shield that blocks it from receiving or transmitting waves from radar and radio transmissions and stuff. Then," he said, beginning to warm to his theme and forgetting his resolve not to frighten Spinelli. "There's this secret hatch in the jungle with a computer and a button that has got to be pushed every hundred and eight minutes or something terrible will happen."

"What dreadful event will transpire if said button fails to be pressed?" Spinelli asked his question in a hushed, reverent tone like a child listening to a creepy ghost story around a campfire.

Hurley shook his head, the gesture unseen by his companion. "Don't know Dude, but we don't wanna find out either so we keep pushing the button in shifts, somebody's always on duty. Then there are these weird bad luck numbers that appear all over the place and then there's the Dharma Initiative which is some old organization that built the hatch and other stations around the island. Those guys are all gone now but it's the Others you gotta watch out for, they're seriously bad news man, especially their leader Ben, you don't want cross him. There's also the ruin of a big giant statue, just the legs but the weird part is that it has only four toes…"

Hurley stopped to breathe while Spinelli uttered a single word, "Fascinating!"

As the voices of the small group faded away into the depths of the jungle, Benjamin Linus stepped out into the quickly descending darkness. He had been hiding behind a part of the temple wall ever since the smoke monster unceremoniously deposited its unwelcome cargo and emitting a shrieking noise had spiraled down into the deep foreboding hole at the base of the wall. Ben stood over the pitch-black entrance to the lair, a wooden torch flaring and spitting in his hand.

He was speculating about the man who had shot the creature: was it the bullets, the gun, or the man himself, perhaps he was special to the island like John Locke. Ben needed to find answers to his questions but there was a problem, the stranger appeared singularly uncommunicative. Still, that was of little import, he knew how to convince people to cooperate and it looked like that boy was pretty important to him.

Ben hefted the pitch torch and started back into the jungle taking the opposite direction from the four men, he was headed toward his camp. He would put out the order tonight. Go get the new boy-slight with messy brown hair and peculiar speech patterns. He was willing to bet anything he was the key to getting the taciturn man in the leather jacket (that alone was worth commenting on) to reveal his secret. How had he managed to single handedly conquer one of the island's oldest and most fearsome denizens? Once Ben was in possession of that information he would become the most powerful being on the island.

A/N Reviews and perceptions are appreciated