A/N: This is the result of a wonderful idea I got from jtbwriter a couple of months ago—this story is dedicated to her, with many thanks. I hope I did it justice! Also, thanks to PDXWiz, Harry2, BishopT and Kyryn for their ongoing support and encouragement. Enjoy!
§ § § - November 8, 2003
The alarm sounded at five o'clock and Christian twitched in the bed, groaning. "Time to get up already?" he muttered blearily. "Weren't we supposed to set back the clocks this weekend or something?" There was no response; he opened his eyes and realized Leslie's side of the bed was empty. Surprised, he lifted his head and called, "Leslie?"
He heard the toilet flush in the bathroom and let his head drop back onto the pillow with a slight sense of relief. The door opened and she emerged with a loud sigh, then paused there in the doorway. "Are you planning to shut that off, my love?" she teased.
"Oh," Christian said sleepily, shaking his head a couple of times and slapping the alarm off. "Feeling all right?"
"I am now," Leslie said, slipping under the covers and curling up on her side, facing him. "I just threw up a few minutes ago though."
Again he opened his eyes and squinted at her. "You'll pardon me, then, if I don't kiss you good morning," he said wryly, and she snorted. "Seriously, my darling, are you sure you're all right? It sounds as if you caught that stomach bug that's been going around lately. Mateo managed to pass it to everyone else in the office before I got it last week, so it stands to reason that it was your turn."
"Probably," Leslie said, making a face. "Just what I need, and right before a weekend starts too. But I'm fine now…I don't see the point in staying home."
Christian said with a drowsy smile, "Ah, you just don't want to miss out on the fantasies. Even I don't love my job the way you do yours. I have no doubt Mr. Roarke would be very unappreciative of your passing that virus along to him."
"I already worked the past three days," Leslie pointed out. "If he were ever going to get it from me, he would have by now. Like I said, there's no point in my staying home. I'm fine now, my love, really. Do you want the shower first?"
Christian made a noise that could have meant anything, still squinting at her. "If you don't think it's the bug, then what?"
"Well, my stomach was cramping before I threw up," Leslie muttered. "Sounds like my stupid period's about to put in an appearance. I've never been that regular, and I can't predict its comings and goings on my own."
"I know," Christian said, "and you didn't want to take the Pill to regulate it, so don't start complaining about it now. If you feel all right now, then very well…but you'd better tell Mr. Roarke if you start to feel queasy again. When I drop you off at the main house, I'll tell him what happened so he doesn't wonder what's wrong with you all of a sudden, should it come back. And, well, since you offered, I guess I will take the shower first." She rolled her eyes, and he grinned at her, swinging his feet out of bed.
Three hours later they met Roarke on the porch at the main house, and true to his word, Christian explained what had happened. Roarke looked at Leslie in surprise. "Are you certain you feel up to working, Leslie?" he asked. "How do you feel right now?"
"I'm fine," Leslie insisted, noting Roarke's concerned look and Christian's skeptical expression. "Believe me, Father, if it happens again, you'll be the first to know."
"And what of me?" Christian demanded.
"You'll be the second to know," she promised him, and laughed when he rolled his eyes at her. With a wicked little twinkle she pulled him down and deliberately kissed him, and he submitted with a little grunt. "It'll be fine, my love, really. If it does get bad, we'll let you know right away. So please, try not to worry."
"That's a tall order," Christian said with a little smile. "I worry about you more than you'd suspect. All right, my darling, but for fate's sake watch yourself." He kissed her, then turned to Roarke. "I should be in the office all day, so if something happens there'll be no trouble reaching me."
Roarke smiled. "We'll keep that in mind, Christian. Have a good morning." They watched Christian retreat to the car and drive away, just before their own vehicle pulled up to the walk. "Has he much reason to worry, Leslie?"
Leslie shrugged and said, "I don't know. It doesn't really seem like a big deal. Poor Christian…making a fuss over nothing. Let's get to the plane dock before it decides to turn into something after all." Roarke chuckled, and they went to the car together.
Half an hour later, having introduced their first guests—two brothers and two sisters from Japan who were hoping to trace their ancestry back to a particular samurai warrior—Roarke frowned slightly when an auburn-haired man who appeared to be somewhere in his early 40s stepped out of the plane and ran the gamut of leis and drinks. "That is Mr. Kane Mattson, from American Fork, Utah. His fantasy gave me a few qualms before I decided that perhaps it was best to grant it, for his own safety."
"Oh? And what kind of fantasy would it be?" Leslie asked.
Roarke let out a soft huff of wry amusement and slowly shook his head. "All his life he has been what he called a 'goody-two-shoes': the obedient son, an excellent student, popular in school, involved in athletics, clean-living and hard-working. But it seems he has become bored and restless, and his fantasy is to live a little dangerously. Specifically, he wishes to execute the perfect crime."
"Is that so?" Leslie murmured, folding her arms over her chest and regarding their guest curiously. "It doesn't look to me as if he could get away with so much as a shoplift."
"Indeed," said Roarke, "and due to that very characteristic, I have made arrangements with two establishments in town to allow him to realize his fantasy."
"Well, that doesn't seem like a challenge," Leslie said. "Does he know you did that?"
"No," her father said, looking curiously at her. "Precisely how much of a challenge do you think he is capable of facing?"
"Hardly any, if you want the truth," she replied.
Roarke chuckled. "Exactly. There are obvious advantages to setting the stage for him as well: he will know what to expect, and no one will be hurt." Then he frowned and added, "Of course, there are always random factors to consider, but I can control the situation only to a certain extent. If any other obstacles arise in the course of his attempt, he will simply have to deal with them. Such are the vagaries of a fantasy like this." So saying, he accepted his drink, raised the glass and called, "My dear guests! I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island!" He took a sip, bowing slightly at their Japanese guests and then nodding at Kane Mattson before noticing that Leslie was staring at his glass with a strangely revolted expression on her face. She caught his gaze, turned pink and looked away.
‡ ‡ ‡
Kane Mattson looked like a former football player, broad of shoulder and genial of disposition. Leslie guessed he was a couple of inches or so shorter than Christian, but with more bulk than her husband. He shook hands with Roarke and glanced around the study. "Nice place you got here, Mr. Roarke. This your assistant?"
"Yes, my daughter, Leslie Enstad," Roarke replied.
"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Enstad." Kane Mattson shook her hand. "Say…you're the one who married the prince."
Leslie grinned a little sheepishly. "Yep, that's me. So I hear from Father that you're looking to pull off a crime of some sort."
Kane nodded and took one of the chairs at Roarke's gesture; Leslie settled into the other with enough care that Roarke took note, though he refrained from commenting on it for the moment. "Mr. Mattson, please forgive me, but I am afraid I find it difficult to understand precisely why you wish me to grant this fantasy. Why would you want to commit a crime of any kind?"
Kane shrugged self-deprecatingly and said, "Well, I guess it's kind of been a secret fantasy of mine for years. I have two younger brothers, you see. I was the good guy, the one who was supposed to set the example for Trent and Gage. Trent had a few problems, but he did okay. Gage, on the other hand, being the youngest, did everything I didn't. He was a textbook case of What Not to Do. Gage pretty much ran wild, and no matter what my parents tried to do, he defied them at every turn. He got away with quite a bit too, believe it or not, although he did get caught on plenty of occasions. Anyway, I had this secret envy of the kid. He had a lot more guts than I did. I figured, if I was ever going to do something really bad, I might as well come here and do it, just for a weekend. I mean, heck, it's just a fantasy. It'll be all over come Monday morning and it'll be like nothing ever happened."
"I see," Roarke mused, considering this.
"I'd really appreciate this, Mr. Roarke," Kane said earnestly.
Roarke looked up. "Very well, Mr. Mattson. You will have two chances to pull off your perfect crime. The bank and the jeweler in town are probably the most challenging places to try to pull off a heist, so those will be the sites of your attempts."
"Attempt? But I want to succeed at it," Kane said.
Roarke smiled. "That's up to you, Mr. Mattson," he told the man. "Come now, surely you don't wish it to be too easy for you? Where would be the fun in that?"
Kane laughed and admitted, "You've got a point, Mr. Roarke. Okay then…when do I start? Do I have to make any special preparations?"
"Leslie will take you to your bungalow, where you will find the equipment necessary to allow you to carry out your…uh, schemes," Roarke said. "You have today and tomorrow in which to make your attempts, so take your time and don't be in a great hurry. And, of course, be careful."
"Absolutely," Kane said and grinned. "Thanks, Mr. Roarke."
"I'll be right with you," Leslie said, and he nodded, trotting out the door. She waited till he was gone, then turned to Roarke. "Father, you almost sound as if you approve."
Roarke sighed gently and said, "Don't mistake my intentions, Leslie. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Mattson simply doesn't have the backbone to carry out a crime; but if he isn't given the opportunity here, under some measure of supervision, he might very well make the attempt in real life and find himself suffering consequences he is not at all prepared to face. It's best that he does this here, so that he can get it out of his system."
Leslie nodded. "I see," she said. "Well, all right. Once I drop him off, I'll go and pick up Katsumi so she can do that translating you wanted."
"Good, thank you," Roarke said, then sat up. "Oh yes, one moment. Are you certain you're feeling all right? You seemed to have an unfavorable reaction to my champagne at the plane dock, and a moment ago you took a little extra care when sitting down."
"Well," Leslie admitted reluctantly, "my stomach's acting weird again. But so far it's all right. I mean, it's a little unsettled, but I don't have any urge to throw up. Besides, there's nothing left in it anyway. I emptied it at home, and then I just couldn't stand the idea of eating breakfast."
Roarke frowned. "What about now?"
"As long as you don't try to feed me, I'll be fine," Leslie said and grinned. "Mariki's going to throw the loudest fit we've ever heard, I'm sure. Please, Father, don't worry." She made her escape before he could say anything further, but she noticed him shaking his head after her and sighed. Truth be told, she had a feeling her stomach was gradually building up to another attempt at forcible ejection, and was hoping to get Kane Mattson dropped off at his bungalow at the very least before having to deal with it in earnest.
Kane obviously noticed her slowly increasing distress. "You okay?" he asked.
"Oh, I'll live," Leslie said and grinned gamely. "My husband had a stomach virus earlier in the week, and it looks like it's my turn. I'm going to be in the main house for the better part of the day anyway, so I should be all right. Let's get you to your bungalow."
When they arrived, she preceded him inside and indicated the main room, where Kane's luggage had been left by the natives from the plane dock. On the sofa rested a large cardboard box. "Everything you need for your fantasy is in that box, Kane. The gun's loaded with blanks, so you can make noise if you want, but you won't actually hurt anyone."
"I've got a gun?" Kane blurted, eyes widening.
"Most crooks do," Leslie said, and he blinked at her. She laughed and said, "Sorry about that, but you have to admit it was a natural slip. After all, you want to be a crook for the weekend."
"Yeah, I do, don't I," Kane realized and half-grinned. "Didn't think of it like that. So what else have I got?"
"Poke through the box and find out," Leslie invited. "If you have any questions, just call the main house—Father's going to be there for awhile."
"Good enough. Thanks tons, both you and Mr. Roarke," Kane said, and Leslie smiled and left. Once she had closed the door, he moved to the sofa and began to examine the contents of the box. He found the gun Leslie had mentioned, a plain white T-shirt, a pair of worn-looking blue jeans, scuffed sneakers, and a rubber mask of the sort used on television, in this case designed to make him look mostly bald with a fringe of white hair. In the bottom of the box lay a matching fake beard and mustache. He laid out the clothing, mask, and beard and mustache on the sofa, then examined the gun for a moment, making certain he kept his fingers well away from the trigger. With his hand wrapped securely around the butt of the gun, he experimentally pointed it at a painting on the far wall and growled, "Stick 'em up. Hand over all your cash. Your money or your life." He snickered to himself at the clichés, then set the gun carefully aside and toted his suitcase off to the bedroom so he could unpack and have a chance to plan out his first shot at a robbery.