A/N: This story is based on the episode of 2/28/1981, the story arc entitled "Portrait of Solange". In this story, a dancing troupe arrived from Paris, and Roarke gave Tattoo the opportunity to paint them as a birthday gift. Tattoo subsequently fell in love with one of the dancers (played by Elissa Leeds), but she had to leave the island; and Tattoo, having painted her portrait, kept it as a reminder of her. On the series, Tattoo's abrupt disappearance was never explained; so I saw the chance to bring back someone who had been very special to him. Like my first Fantasy Island story, this one is dedicated to the memory of Hervé Villechaize.
§ § § -- May 7, 1983
Roarke, Tattoo and Leslie met as always on the front porch of the main house, preparatory to greeting their weekend guests, but Tattoo was a few minutes late. When he did appear, both Leslie and Roarke stared at him. "Is something the matter?" Roarke asked him.
"Matter?" echoed Tattoo with a too-innocent expression. "What could possibly be the matter? Nothing, of course."
"Ha," said Leslie suspiciously. "Something's up."
"Would you kindly put us out of our misery," suggested Roarke with a teasing smile, "and tell us what it is."
But Tattoo simply smiled broadly. "Oh no, not yet. You'll have to wait and see. Come on, or else we're all gonna be late."
The day was bright as always, another in the endless parade of gorgeous tropical days on Fantasy Island; the warm breeze teased Leslie's long hair and lifted Tattoo's thick black hair as well. He was still wearing that smirk as Roarke called for smiles and motioned the band into action, and continued holding it through the introduction of the weekend's first fantasy. Leslie was beginning to think he was demented, and even Roarke exhibited a tinge of annoyance.
"Well, are you gonna tell us your secret or not?" Leslie finally demanded.
Roarke had been watching the dock, and now he did a double-take at sight of the lithe, petite blonde woman who disembarked. "Tattoo! That's Solange Latignon, isn't it?"
"That's precisely who it is," Tattoo confirmed, beaming now. "Solange and I kept in touch after the Traditional Dance Company of Paris left the island a couple of years ago."
"Does she have a fantasy?" Leslie asked.
"Solange and I have the same fantasy," Tattoo said softly, dark eyes fixed on Solange. "She just transferred to a local Parisian dance troupe, but they don't start performing for awhile yet, so she has some free time right now. She wrote me and asked if she might come and visit me for a vacation, and I told her of course she could. So now here she is."
"I'm glad she's back," Leslie said. "She was so nice."
Roarke had been staring at Tattoo in amazement all this time; now Tattoo looked at him and made a gesture at the Polynesian girl who stood waiting in front of him with his customary drink. "Boss, you're forgetting something," Tattoo prompted gently.
Roarke blinked, turned and instantly assumed his usual pleasant expression, lifting his glass to his new guests; Tattoo smiled more than ever. Leslie, for her part, was so caught off guard by Tattoo's overly sunny mood and Roarke's uncharacteristic loss of poise that she completely forgot to ask Tattoo exactly what his and Solange's mutual fantasy was.
"Well, good morning, Solange!" Roarke said warmly, very much the gracious host once more, when she came in from the front porch of the main house. "I must admit, Tattoo gave us no advance notice that you were coming here."
Solange, a lovely girl whose English was as perfect as her French, grinned at him. "That's Tattoo for you. No doubt he wanted to surprise you." She smiled at Leslie. "Hi, Leslie. Tattoo tells me you just celebrated your eighteenth birthday."
Leslie nodded, going a bit pink. "Yeah, Tattoo gave me an absolutely beautiful painting of his childhood home in the springtime. That makes three of his originals I own now. I told him he shouldn't be so generous, but he wouldn't listen to me."
"Oh, you should treasure his work," Solange said. "He's always putting things in his letters to me. He decorates every page with a line drawing, and sometimes he adds a little color to them."
"I understand from Tattoo that you are no longer with the Traditional Dance Company of Paris," remarked Roarke, gesturing at a chair. Solange smiled her thanks and took a seat.
"That's right, Mr. Roarke. I decided to dance with the new Moulin Rouge Revival company; that way I can stay in one place. I think I've just about had my fill of living out of suitcases."
Roarke chuckled. "That's quite understandable. Well, Tattoo should be back from his rounds in a few moments; I'm afraid Leslie and I have a prior appointment to keep. If you like, you might stay and wait for Tattoo; he shouldn't be very long."
"Thank you, I will." Solange settled herself in her seat.
"Very well. Come along, Leslie, we certainly don't want to be late." With a last smile at Solange, Roarke rounded the desk and started out; and Leslie grabbed up a white silk bag before hastening after him.
"I wish you'd tell me what's in this," Solange heard her say as they headed out the door.
"You'll see, Leslie," Roarke replied patiently. "Just make sure you don't drop that bag, and don't let go of the top by any means..." The door closed on his last words, and Solange chuckled to herself, leaning back in her chair and listening dreamily to the birds making their usual cacophony in the nearby trees.
She had to wait only a few minutes before the door opened and Tattoo came in. "Bonjour, Tattoo!" she said, her face alight.
"Solange, chérie! Bonjour et bienvenu!" exclaimed Tattoo joyfully, rushing to her. They hugged each other hard and even shared a long kiss before pulling back enough to get a good look at each other. Since they were alone, they continued to speak in French.
"You haven't changed at all -- you're exactly as I remember you!" said Solange happily. "Oh, Tattoo, I'm so glad to see you again!"
"It's wonderful to see you too," Tattoo agreed. "You're more beautiful than ever, Solange. I've missed you very much."
Solange brightened. "Do you know how glad I am to hear that? Every day without you has seemed like a year."
Tattoo nodded. "For me too. Your letters helped keep me going. What did you think of my last one?"
Solange blushed. "I wasn't sure you meant it. I mean, I know you did, but I was so afraid I was dreaming..."
Tattoo clasped his hands behind his back and slowly paced the floor nearby. "I wasn't entirely sure you'd actually come here, in all honesty. I didn't know what you'd think or how you'd react...and at the same time, I desperately needed to know your answer. Listen, the boss told me that once I finished my rounds this morning, I could have the rest of the day to myself. Let me show you around the island, and we'll talk and just enjoy each other's company. We can leave the serious stuff for later, okay?"
"Sounds great to me," Solange agreed. She beamed and took his hand. "Come on, let's go."
§ § §
By that evening Leslie was visibly exhausted from the day's events, but the fantasies were well under way and she and Roarke could take a rest for the night. It was getting late; Tattoo had been out all day, and they were waiting for him.
Leslie, who had been reading one of her favorite books, suddenly emitted a long yawn. Roarke cast her an indulgent look. "Don't you think you'd better go to bed, Leslie? You've had rather a long day, and I suspect Tattoo will be quite late. He may not even stop here before he returns to his cottage for the night."
She looked up a little sheepishly. "Guess you're right. I'm starting to fall asleep right here in my chair." She got to her feet and stretched before slipping a bookmark into the book. "Well, good night, Mr. Roarke."
"Good night, Leslie," murmured her guardian. "Incidentally, you might as well sleep late tomorrow morning. I won't need any assistance until about ten, so take a little extra time if you wish."
"Okay, thanks, Mr. Roarke." Leslie trudged up the stairs, yawning again on the way. Roarke smiled after her before returning his attention to some long-neglected paperwork. He always enjoyed the quiet of an evening and often used it to concentrate on a particularly difficult fantasy; or, if things were routine, to clear some of the ever-present papers from his desk. The exquisite grandfather clock near the steps ticked softly on; now and then a gentle breeze wafted through the open French doors behind Roarke's desk. The night grew more than half an hour older before the door finally opened and Tattoo came in.
Roarke looked up. "Well," he said mildly, "and how was your day?"
Tattoo, seemingly lost in thought, looked up, startled. "Oh, hi, boss. I thought you'd be asleep by now, and I just came in to turn out the light."
"Leslie is asleep," Roarke said, "but I decided I should put the time to good use." He indicated the papers, and Tattoo smiled in understanding. "I trust you enjoyed your time with Solange, my friend?"
"Oh, very much, boss, very much." Tattoo couldn't seem to meet Roarke's gaze. "We talked a lot, had a picnic, went sightseeing...really did a lot of exploring."
"Of more than one kind, perhaps?" Roarke probed gently.
Tattoo focused abruptly on Roarke and sighed, as though resigned. "You never miss anything, do you, boss?" he remarked a bit ruefully. Roarke merely smiled. "Yes, okay, we did do a lot of soul-searching. I suppose you could call that exploring." He paused, as if in consideration, and Roarke waited patiently. At last Tattoo looked up and asked hesitantly, "Have you ever heard of anyone who fell in love through writing letters?"
Roarke sat back and cleared his throat. "I can't say that I personally know anyone to whom this has happened; but it's not unheard-of for such a thing to occur."
Tattoo peered at Roarke. "Well," he said, "now you do know someone it's happened to."
"Indeed?" was all Roarke said to that.
Tattoo shrugged. "Actually, it was already there when we first met a couple of years ago. I don't think we ever actually said it then, in so many words, but we both knew it was there. And things got more intense as we exchanged letters, got to know each other better. So now that Solange is here, we knew it was the best time for us to really talk and find out how things stand, once and for all." Roarke nodded in a sort of go-on gesture, and Tattoo took a deep breath or two before meeting Roarke's gaze directly. "So...I asked Solange to marry me, and she said yes."