Title: Safe Skies (3/?)
Author: lj user=measuringlife
Series: Hetalia
Character/pairing: America/Ukraine, briefly mentioned Japan/Taiwan, background France/Canada, England/Romania. Cuba/Seychelles, Guadeloupe, Monaco,
Rating: PG-13

Author's note: aph_fluffathon: 13. Couple meets for the first time on a transatlantic flight to some fabulous vacation destination. Character A is afraid of flying, Character B notices and helps them through the long trip. Any pairing is fine!

Leone = Seychelles.

Genevieve = Guadeloupe.

Grace = Monaco.

Vasile = Romania. Vasile is the Romanian form of "Basil."

Enrique = Cuba. Quique is a common nickname of Enrique.

.

She wouldn't say that she ever completely forgot that she was hurtling through the air in a metal contraption with nothing but ocean beneath her, but Alfred ensured that she didn't stay focused on it until she panicked. He was full of stories, from the pranks his fellow pilots had pulled on each other, to the antics of his very chaotic family.

But he did make the hours go by faster, and kept her amused, mostly distracted and made the experience...almost pleasant. Natch that, it was enjoyable...just the sort of enjoyable that was edged with moments of discomfort when she would abruptly remember where she was.

He went on about his chaotic family, from his brother, to his parental figure who Alfred had both scorn and seeming hidden affection for, and many cousins and other assorted family members.

"So this is your stop, huh?" he said.

"No, I still have another flight ahead of me. Thankfully, it's small," she said.

She looked down. She didn't want this to be ending. Not quite yet. Of course she'd knew they'd have to part ways eventually, but the hours had gone by so fast. If she could, she'd bargain for time, just a little bit more.

But, if she waited any longer, she'd miss her flight.

"Thank you for everything," she said.

How would she ever manage the return trip without him? No, this wasn't the time to be thinking of that. She needed to relax. This vacation was her brother's dream, and it'd be ruined if she was a nervous wreck. She would get all that worry out of her system and be perfectly happy when Ivan and Nataliya arrived.

"Oh, I don't think this will be the last time we see each other," Alfred said. He winked knowingly.

His hope seemed boundless. Even in days when the only news seemed to be a list of steadily increasing horrible things, he could still always find something to keep afloat, to look forward too.

"You're too kind," she said.

"Aw, not at all. Have a little faith, will ya?" He grinned, and she found herself smiling shyly too.

"I'll try," she said.

In a movie, this would be the point where there was a dramatic crescendo, and they kissed. It wasn't a movie, and none of those things happened, so they stood awkwardly trying to figure out the degree of affection for parting. It seemed a bit too soon for a hug, and a bit too formal for a handshake.

So they stood there awkwardly, not touching or kissing or hugging until there was a bunch of bleeping and blooping. Alfred dug the cell phone out of his jeans pocket.

"Sorry, I gotta take this," he said.

"Yello? Yeah, man. I just landed. What?"

Kateryna stood there feeling awkward, waiting for him to finish. However, he had turned now, completely engrossed in his conversation, which seemed poised to turn into an argument.

If she didn't hurry, she could set herself off course, miss offered meals and all sorts of things. She didn't want to interrupt, so she just gave a brief wave. He didn't seem to notice, as it had turned into a full scale argument, complete with him calling someone a clueless old man.

With a little sigh, Kateryna took her baggage and walked away down the hall towards her terminal. In all likelihood, she'd never see him again. What did she expect? Alfred suddenly declaring that he was in love with her, and moving to her country next week?

No, she never expected something like that.

And yet.

And yet...

No.

She walked down the hall and lost herself in the crowd. One more flight and she'd be to Molokai.

.

While the flight to Molokai was short, it felt much longer without Alfred there to keep her mind off things. At this rate she'd have to be drugged to make the return trip.

She'd been too busy to really pay attention to the beauty of the settings, or take it all in after she'd parted ways with Alfred. Along with the flight alone, there had been all the worries about her siblings, the keen focus on directions so she wouldn't end up lost, the still scattered feeling of nervousness from coming off the plane, and the disappointing farewell.

Well, that wasn't fair. He had been very kind and hopeful–it wasn't his fault a family member had called. She mentally admonished herself. What had she expected? He was just a traveler. One who she'd never even see again. She should be thankful she met him, but put him out of her mind, so she wouldn't brood over a lost cause.

Like that was going to happen.

Kateryna felt woozy as she extracted herself from the small plane, and swayed like a drunkard. Oh, she should've taken a moment to get food, but the next flight had been scheduled so quickly that she hadn't the chance.

She dropped her luggage, and studied the room about her. It was perhaps a bit smaller in real life than the pictures had seemed. The color scheme was creams and brown, two beds had only a bit of space between them. It had been described as Polynesian style, and the rooms seemed to be made of several bungalows spread out a short ways from the beach. Amidst the sleek high rise million dollar resorts, they'd found a simpler place they could just barely manage to afford for the week.

She opened up her luggage and carefully began to sort through her things. First thing she wanted was a nice shower. Then, chance to rest. No, that wasn't right. The travel book she'd been reading said that would make her jetlagged. She tried to remember the rest of the instructions. Lots of water, and sleep early? Or was it nap later? Suddenly, she couldn't remember.

She set out a white t-shirt and jean capris. Her bathing suit was curled into a corner, like it was huddling in a fetal position of shame. She lifted it and cringed inwardly. It wasn't exactly attractive, old and plain, was more like it. Oh, who was she kidding? It was awful.

Through it all, buying a new bathing suit was something she'd put off. She found to her dismay that it had either shrunk in the wash, or she'd grown about four cup sizes since she last wore it. It was rather shapeless, a dull dark blue color, and worst of all, had no support. Despite being high-rise in every conceivable way, it was tight enough that it simultaneously showed too much and too little at the same time. She'd gotten it after some bad experience with two pieces, and then only used it about twice, given that she never had time for swimming at the gym, and lounging around a chlorinated pool just didn't seem as glamorous and relaxing as lounging around a beach.

Ah, well. She'd just have to stick to her t-shirt and jeans. She wasn't much of a swimmer, anyways. With that, she began to peel off her clothes and made her way towards the shower.

.

She'd tried to avoid a nap, but it had been impossible just to rest a moment with her eyes closed. By the time she'd woken up, it was already evening. A cool breeze came in her window, with a scent of the sea and flowers she had never smelled before. The sky was orange between the palms, fading into darkness.

Kateryna shook herself out of her waking languidness. If she didn't hurry, she'd miss dinner. Then she'd have to subsist on nothing but the vending machine food, and she didn't want to travel all the way so she could eat like she was in the middle of exams again.

She slipped into her sandals and stepped out into the hall. The dining hall was mostly empty, with only a few people milling about.

"Excuse me," she said to one of the nearest waiters. "Did I miss dinner?"

"It's not for another hour yet, miss," he replied.

"Ahh, good," she said. "Thank you."

For a moment, she was sure it was Alfred, but a second glance made her reconsider. His hair was more of an ash blond, and slightly longer, the ends curling at the base of his neck. His eyes were a violet shade, not blue, and he seemed to have a decidedly different temperament, given when a waiter brought him his drink, he shyly thanked him.

However, his face was very similar.

There was a saying that everyone had an unknown twin. The question was whether this was a known twin, like the brother Alfred had gone on about. She started forward him, just in time to find someone else talking with him. A tall Frenchman, she guessed from the thick accent.

Then the blond Frenchman in a very tight black speedo leaned over and gave him a very long, very passionate kiss. He looked a little dazed as the Frenchman pulled back, and she supposed she would too, if she'd been kissed like that.

"Franciis, someone's staring," he said in a hissed undertone, just loud enough for her to hear.

"Let them watch. Perhaps they're another one like that Lizzie friend of your brother's. Now there's a nice girl," Francis said. He chuckled at the memory, though the other man seemed far less amused and more embarrassed, as his cheeks had started to flush a bright red.

Francis raised one brow, and disentangled himself.

"I'll get us some more drinks, mon chéri," he said.

"Is there something...you need?" He asked warily.

"Excuse me. I'm sorry to bother you, it's just, you look familiar—"

The man sighed. "No, I'm not Alfred Jones. He's my brother."

"Actually, I was going to ask if you were related," she said. "I don't think Alfred could ever be that quiet."

Not to mention that she generally hoped that Alfred didn't have a nice young man who'd kiss him so passionately and call him endearments in French. Not that there was anything wrong with that... Just that she hoped she hadn't misread their time spent together, and that he really did like girls, or at least her.

A warm smile spread over his face. "Sorry for jumping to conclusions, we used to get mistaken for each other a lot. Well, I get mistaken for him, at least..."

"It's no problem. Really. I didn't expect to meet his family here," she said.

"Yeah, sudden change of places. We were lucky to have a mass cancellation and get in during the last minute. It was quite a coincidence," he said dryly. "And I think I'm beginning to see why..."

"Hmm?" Kateryna said.

"Oh, Never mind," he said. "I'm Matthew, by the way. Matthew Bonnefoy."

He held out his hand, and she tentatively took it. It turned into what was possibly the most awkward handshake she'd ever experienced. What a change between brothers. Had it been Alfred, he probably would've already been hugging her and suggesting at least three adventures to complete before dark.

"Ah, hello... A different last name?" The minute she said it, she realized it was quite thoughtless, and even a bit rude.

"Oh, sorry for asking, I didn't mean to intrude, it just–"

"No problem. I'm married and I took his name instead of hyphenating it," Matthew said. He lifted up his hand, with a gold band that glinted on his ring finger.

"Oh, congratulations," she said.

"Mm, thank you. And you are...?"

She cringed inwardly. She'd meant to complete the introduction, but gotten distracted. She didn't have to ask who his husband was, as that was rather apparent.

"Oh, sorry. I'm Kateryna Shevenko. I met Alfred on the way back. He was very kind kept me company...I'm no good at flying, you see," she said.

"That explains it. If you're looking for him, he's just outside on the beach," Matthew said.

"He's here?" Kateryna said. Her voice came out squeaky—very undignified and embarrassing. She nearly dropped her purse in surprise.

Matthew nodded. He seemed too polite to outright say it, but yes, it was a stupid question. A really stupid question. And oh, she was blushing now.

She hadn't dared to hope. He was supposed to that one golden boy who helped her through her fears, the romance that never was who she'd never see again and not even exchange the cursory letters of a dwindling fling. She hadn't even exchanged numbers, the newfangled online accounts Eduard had set up for all of them that she barely used.

"I-If you'll excuse me—" she said.

But Francis had returned, and he simply gave her a little wave before Francis sat right in his lap, a drink cradled in his hand.

"Did you miss me, coeur?" Francis said, sounding like an off-duty phone sex operator.

Feeling like she had accidentally walked into a NC-17 theater, Kateryna awkwardly turned away and made for outside.

.

She caught sight of Alfred in cut-off jeans and no shirt, wearing a pair of dogtags around his neck. It was a quite nice sight, and she just had to sit back and...admire the scenery for a bit. His stained t-shirt hadn't really done him justice. He was strong and sturdy, with a body beautiful enough to replace any fantasies of film stars.

Not that she had any lying around. Really.

Though her happiness was dampened when she saw he was enthusiastically telling a story to three very pretty girls. The one closest to him was girl with flawless skin the shade of mocha, her thick brown hair pulled back into a pair of pigtails with two large red bows. She wore a white two piece with red and blue hibiscuses all over it, with a sheer matching cover-up tied around her waist.

Sitting a little ways away in a beach chair under the umbrella was an elegant girl in glasses, a weighty book spread out on her lap. Her bathing suit was white with a trimming of gold, and a steep v-neck. She wore a large sun hat with brown hair just teasing out from underneath, and looked very classic–like a movie star straight out of another era. The third girl was in a lovely aqua sundress with adorable white sandals with applique aqua flowers on the top, a perfect contrast to her caramel colored skin. Her hair was cut short, like a twenties bob.

The thought came unbidden that maybe he routinely flirted with girls on planes—no, that couldn't be right. He said he was often in the pilot's seat. Then maybe he was just a flirt in general. For all Kateryna knew, she might just be another girl he had flirted with on the way, and he might not even remember her.

But...she hadn't gotten the vibe of him being a player. Alfred seemed too sincere to have the slick sort of wooing that players did.

It could simply mean that he was very good at pretending to appear to be that kind of person. But somehow, she couldn't believe it. That sort of earnestness couldn't be faked.

"Heyyy, Kateryna!" he called out. He waved, apparently uncaring that he was calling attention to himself from the whole beach.

"Where's your suit?" Alfred said.

"I, um. Left it at the hotel," she said.

"Then you should go get it! The water is great out here," Alfred said.

"Yes, ah–"

The girl with the pigtails rolled her eyes, though it seemed to be more aimed at Alfred than "Aren't you going to introduce us?"

"Oh yeah," Alfred said.

"Kateryna, That's Leone," he said pointing to the girl in pigtails. "Grace," it was the elegant girl lounging in the shade. "And Genevieve," the tall girl in the sundress.

So they weren't simply random girls he met at the beach. Or at least, if they were, they were already exchanging names.

"We're all family," Leone said, leveling a knowing gaze to Kateryna. "As hard to believe as it is."

She looked from one to the other and couldn't really see the resemblance. As if sensing her confusion, Genevieve cut in with something of an explanation.

"Our family tree is somewhat...twisted," Genevieve said. She smiled, and the four of them laughed.

"Like you wouldn't believe," Leone said. "And the fiiiights. You can't go two steps without finding someone from some part of the family who can't stand each other. Even more so because my boyfriend hates him."

Alfred groaned. "Did you have to bring him? I didn't want to spend my entire trip with the manly fisticuffs and the wrestling..."

"Of course I did," Leone said. She stuck out her tongue, and brushed the sand from her adorable two piece.

"It's enough to have Francis and Arthur fighting all the time," Alfred said with a sigh.

"That's our family," Genevieve cut in. She and Leone started laughing.

"Nice meeting you," they both cut off, as they left off towards a small group which Kateryna could only guess was family. She recognized Francis, draped over Matthew while sniping at a smaller man with unkempt blond hair and even more unkempt eyebrows. Beside him was a rather strange looking man, in a fedora and suit, despite the weather. Perhaps he hadn't had time to change. Leone was embracing a barrel-chested man with dreads, who was as of yet the only one who was wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

Grace set aside her book for a moment. Her focus on the book had been so complete that she seemed oblivious to the happenings around her.

"Did you know the word for near evening is Ma'eha'eha?" she said.

"It's lovely," Kateryna said.

"Yes, this language is quite beautiful," Grace said dreamily. She put her book in the small tote bag near her, perhaps a bit reluctantly, and rose up.

"It was a pleasure meeting you," Grace said.

"Ah, yes," Kateryna said. But Grace was already walking towards the rest of the family.

She wasn't alone for long, for just as she was thinking of going back, Alfred called after her.

"We're going swimming in the pool, you coming?" He was looking expectantly at her.

"Well, to be honest..." Kateryna began.

"You can't swim?" Alfred suggested. "Because we could stay in the shallow end, and I could teach you. I totally worked as a lifeguard in my teens," Alfred said.

He must have been quite the teenage heartthrob, she thought. Probably set the teenage girls heart's aflutter. The mothers, too, and maybe even some of the boys and fathers, if they swung that way.

"...My suit is no good," she said finally.

"Aww, come on. I'm sure you look fine," Alfred said. "Girls are always saying stuff makes their butt look big or something, and it never really looks bad. Then again, I wouldn't mind big butts either..."

Leone rolled her eyes at this. "Jeez, put your foot in your mouth a little more, will you?"

Alfred just blinked at her, completely clueless.

"I'll go with her, this obviously requires a woman's touch," she said.

And Kateryna found the door closing, and Leone coming in with her. She was surprisingly forward. No, that wasn't it. There was an innate confidence to her, one that made her charge forward without any anxiety or brooding. She was rather like Alfred in that case.

"So, you and Alfred, huh?" Leone said.

"Um, we just met. He was kind enough to keep me company...I have a fear of flying, and it was a very, very long flight," Kateryna said. She pushed her hair behind her ear in a nervous gesture.

"I can imagine," Leone said. "If I wasn't used to flights by now, I'd probably have gone off the deep end with all the ones I have to make. That was if my family hadn't already sent me off the pier ages ago. You wouldn't believe the frequent flier miles the whole family has."

So they were multinational? That would explain why such a odd group of seemingly unconnected people were together.

Before she knew it, they'd reached her door. Leone followed her in, giving the room only a cursory glance.

"About the same as ours," she said. "So, show it to me. I'll give you a second opinion."

Kateryna held it up in a tentative gesture, and almost felt like apologizing for showing such a horrible suit. Leone clucked disapprovingly. "Now that Iis/I horrible. How long have you had it, since you were twelve?"

"Something like that," Kateryna said with a sigh. "I meant to get a new one, but I was busy and don't swim very often..."

"And kept putting it off," Leone finished for her.

"Pretty much," Kateryna said.

Leone tapped her lower lip thoughtfully with her finger.

"How about a shopping trip?" Leone suggested. "I'm sure we could find you something cute."

"Oh, I couldn't. These resort places are very expensive, and there would be no sales," Kateryna said.

"Ah..." Leone said. She tilted her head a moment, then smiled in the sort of way someone would after triumphantly finding just the thing they'd been looking for.

"I just remembered, Quiqui bought me this suit, but it's way too big. I meant to send it back, but I lost the receipt and it accidentally got packed. You'll really be doing me a favor by taking it off my hands," Leone said.

"Doing you a favor? Well, if it's that much trouble, I'd be glad to take it, but it probably won't fit," Kateryna said. She smiled apologetically. Leone looked to be at least a full two cup sizes smaller than her, maybe three. The likelihood of any suit of Leone's fitting hers was, well, rather slim.

"Good! I'll just go unpack it," Leone said.

"I'll help–"

"No, no, I have to unpack Quiqui's stuff too, and I'd rather not be showing another girl my man's boxers," she said.

"A-ah, right. Sorry," she said.

"No need to apologize!" Leone said. She stepped out and down the hall. Kateryna sat down on the bed. For a moment she considered going back to the beach to talk with Alfred, but she didn't want to confuse Leone on the way.

It couldn't take that long, could it?

So she waited.

And waited.

And finally, she pulled out the knitting which had nearly gotten her arrested as a terrorist along the way. Kateryna hated to waste time, even waiting in line was a chance for a little more work done. Just think, enough waiting lines and she'd have a new scarf. Now that was a much better use of her time than simply getting all upset at time wasted.

So it was while before Leone returned. Kateryna was about to make note of it, and ask if something else had kept her, but then thought better. Perhaps her boyfriend was an extremely bad packer? It'd be quite rude to point that out, so she said nothing.

"Here you go," Leone said. She threw the swimsuit Kateryna's way, and it landed on the bed beside her. She lifted it up for inspection. The swimsuit was a two piece with a pattern of a watermelon on the top, with halved watermelons on the bottom. She could already just imagine how many "melons" jokes she'd get. Still, it was very kind of her to share, and might not even fit.

"I'll try it on," she said.

She stepped into the small bathroom and changed out of her things, and into the suit. Surprisingly, it fit well, like it was tailor made for her. The suit was quite cute, actually, possible jokes notwithstanding. She was less accustomed to baring her midriff quite this much, and missed the slimming tummy control of a one piece suit.

Kateryna was never much of a dieter, to be quite honest. She liked food too much, from the cooking to family time spent around a table, encouraging Nataliya to eat just one more bite when she was being sulky.

However, it was one thing to not worry about her weight in flattering black pants, and a whole other thing to not be worrying when she was dressed up a swimsuit with less average material than one of her scarves.

She stepped out, wishing she'd bought one of those cover up dresses, or the coverups you tie around your waist. Anything to make her feel a little less exposed.

"It doesfit you," Leone said. "I'm so glad it accidentally got packed!"

"Yes, thank you very much. You wouldn't happen to have..." Kateryna trailed off. It seemed far too presumptuous to ask for a cover up dress—especially since Leone might think that she didn't like the bikini and wasn't grateful for it.

"Happen to have what?" Leone said.

"Oh, it's nothing. I suppose I should just–"

"You should break that suit in and go swimming with us, that's what you should do," Leone said. "Come on, everyone's waiting."

Kateryna followed, and gave one last nervous glance about the beach. So far, only a few children. It wasn't like there was a whole fraternity's worth of boys on spring break, the sort of boys who'd cop drunken feels until she had bruises from all the pinches.

"Don't worry about being heckled. Alfred's got a hero complex and he fights for any girl's honor if she gets the meat market treatment. He's a dork and a half, but he's handy to have around," Leone said.

All at once, she felt a rush of warmth for him in all his adorable ways, and a tiny little voice inside her wondering this means I'm nothing special, doesn't it? He's just a good person who stopped to help me...

The voice quieted when they came out to he beach, and she saw Alfred's face brighten as he turned, and waved them enthusiastically his way.

"Over here!"

Then, as if he couldn't bear to wait any longer, he jogged and met them halfway.

"Oh, that's really cute, are those watermelons?" Alfred said.

Kateryna waited for the inevitable melons jokes, but none came.

"Looks great, why were you going off about it being embarrassing? Is that a girl thing like asking if your butt looks big where any answer is the wrong one and then I get stuff thrown at my head and have to sleep on the couch for a week?" Alfred said.

"No, I gave her one. It didn't fit me," Leone said.

"Well, yeah, it probably wouldn't, why would you get one like too bi—"

He broke off as Leone stomped on his foot.

"What the hell, Leo? That hurt!"

"Sorry, was that your foot? I just tripped over the atmosphere," Leone said. There was a hardness to her voice, much like her namesake. Kateryna made a mental note to never anger Leone.

"Oh, this is the part where I'm being a dumbass again, isn't it?" Alfred said.

"The very one," Leone said.

Alfred looked sheepish for only a moment. "Yeah, that happens a lot. Sorry, it's really cute, though. We should hit the waves, come on!"

And he was off, running back towards the sea.

"Energetic, isn't he," Kateryna said, more as a statement than anything. She felt like she'd just survived in the wake of Hurricane Alfred.

"You haven't seen the half of it," Leone said.

.

Kateryna had mostly been splashing in the shallows of the darkening water. There'd been talk of a volleyball tournament, but Kateryna had politely bowed out. She had a bad history with two pieces and volleyball. Several years and cup sizes ago, back when she'd only been a DD she'd went to hit a ball in a game of impromptu pool volleyball and ended up having a...how could she put it? Bathing suit top failure. Even now the thought would make her flush in humiliation.

Most of Alfred's family were scattered about here and there. The older man with unkempt brows, who Katreryna now knew was Arthur sat on the beach, looking vaguely grumpy and disapproving. Alfred leaned in. He always looks like that about everything when Francis is around, or like, in general, Alfred said, nodding towards Arthur.

Grace was back to reading, while Enrique and Leone had a splash war going on. She jumped up into Enrique's arms, a wave of water coming over him with her. They both laughed, and his was a deep throaty laugh, the sort of belly laugh that was a full body affair and completely changed his usually grumpy exterior. She kissed him through the saltwater, her arms about his neck, his arms about her waist. It was such an intimate moment, that Kateryna had to look way.

As she was beginning to realize was his way, Alfred had been distracted by a few children playing ball. When she looked at Leone again, she saw a mischievous glance passed between Enrique and Leone, and then a bucket's worth of salt water on Francis's head. For a moment Francis just stood there, shocked as they laughed and the salt water dripped down his cheeks.

She didn't know the French, but it had to be quite vile from the expression on his face. He did an about face, and stomped towards the hotel.

A glance around to the family showed Arthur was smiling for the first time that day.

"Was that really necessary? Now he's going to be doing emergency conditioning on his hair all night," Matthew said.

She hadn't seen him there. She was beginning to think sudden disappearances with him only to have been there the entire time, just under their nose was a common happening with Matthew.

"I told him I'd get him back for New Year's," Leone said. "I warned him."

"Geez, will you and Francis's and Arthur's prank war never cease?" Matthew said wearily.

"Never," Arthur and Leone said with a fire in their eyes. Enrique rolled his eyes, Matthew rested his forehead in his palm.

"You should know better by now," Vasile said. He had a cooler in tow, and sat down beside Arthur.

"Well, that's enough of My Batshit Modern Life," Alfred said. "You wanna go in? It's about dinner time, I think."

It was starting to get cooler. Most of the younger children were headed in towards the beach. There were lights on the distant harbor, ships coming in. The sea breeze was fresh and salty, a scent she'd never known like this before.

"Ah, yes. That sounds good," Kateryna said.

"Milady," he said with exaggerated formality as he offered his arm. She took it, and he led her up the beach. (And she had to admit, he had Iquite/I the arms.)

"Has anyone ever told you that you're ridiculously charming?" Kateryna said.

"Yeah, I rolled an awesome when it comes to Cha," Alfred said.

"Cha?" she said. "Like Cha-cha?"

"Don't tell me you've never played? Oh man, I'll have to teach you some time, but Gilbert didn't come, and I am honor bound to not play without him," Alfred said.

"Well, I'm sure it will be...fun," she said.

Whatever it was he was talking about.

There was a local band singing in Hawaiian in the pavilion a bit off from the beach. Little lights hung from the beams on the roof, lighting up the room like fireflies. Genevieve, Grace and Leone had an order of those fruity little colorful drinks with the umbrellas in them. She guessed them to be some kind of daiquri, but she couldn't really tell from this far away.

"You want a drink? I will brave tangling with the fearsome bartender for a drink, all for you," Alfred said, still with the silly accent.

"I don't know that they have what I drink," she said. "I'm more of a vodka girl."

"Ooh, that's hardcore. Vodka kicks my ass, so you win awesome drinking points on me," Alfred said. "I bet I can uncover something manly enough for your tastes."

He walked off to the bar, leaving her alone for a moment. She sat at one of the empty circular tables at the edge of the dance floor. A few couples were dancing to the local Hawaiian band, including Leone and Enrique, who were leaning in close for a slow dance. She didn't know the meaning of the words, only that the sound of the language was beautiful and it seemed to be a love song of some sort.

Alfred came back sooner than she expected.

"One screwdriver, for the lovely lady," Alfred said.

He set the glass down, holding a hibiscus flower.

"For me?"

"Yeah. The bartender gave it to me with the drink, saying something about it being a 'thank you for the show.' Anyways, it's your drink, so it's yours," Alfred said. "I tried for something manlier, but the bartender specializes in fruity stuff."

He motioned to the blond bartender with a cute little pink bow in his chin-length hair. The bartender smiled coquettishly, but Alfred didn't seem to notice the stir he tended to make.

"This is fine—more than fine, thank you," she said. She took a sip, and enjoyed the familiar burn of the vodka as it went down.

Alfred shook his head. "Dude, hardcore."

She laughed. "It's not really."

"I can barely drink that stuff. Tastes like drinking nail polish cleaner even if you put mixy sweet stuff in it," Alfred said.

"I'm used to it," she said.

"See? Hardcore," Alfred said. "Your drinking style could fight crime and bench press cars."

"You could give it a try, just a little try," she said.

"This is totally going to lose me manly points, but okay."

Alfred took a swig of her drink. In a second he was coughing like a teenager taking their first sip of alcohol. She patted him on the back.

"Nope, still tastes like drinking Drano mixed with fail," Alfred said. "I'll let you win the manliness points this time."

She shook her head, smiling as she sipped the drink. What a silly, wonderful boy he was.

"Oh yeah, that reminds me—"

He picked up a little paper fast food bag.

"The food was all salad bars and stuff. I ran for the nearest Mickey D's so I wouldn't freaking starve. Didn't want you to starve either, so I got you stuff," he said.

"Oh, thank you, but you didn't have to—"

"I wanted to, though. You need something so that vodka doesn't dropkick you anyways," he said. "Go on, it's good."

He'd gotten her grilled chicken and a parfait. There were bacon cheeseburger wrappers in there, five of them. My he had an appetite.

"Yeah, I didn't know what you wanted, so I got what Leone would've wanted," he said.

"It's very thoughtful, thank you," she said.

"No problem! You want good food, I'm your man," he said with a wink.

She didn't know how good the food was, especially compared to home cooked meals, but it was sweet of him. Just another of the many sweet gestures which he gleefully would do for everyone around him.

He was surprisingly quiet while she ate, fidgeting a bit. Apparently he viewed food with a sort of sacredness that no interruptions could be had. When she'd finished, he started right up again.

"So how is your vacation so far?" Alfred said.

"It's only just begun," Kateryna said. "Though I'd say it's rather well...with some hitches."

"Hitches I helped with, right? This is totally the part where I swoop in and punch stuff and be all heroic, right?" Alfred said. He looked as eager as a puppy.

"Yes, that's the part," she said.

She finished the rest of her drink, and was filled with a pleasant buzz. A few more and he'd be veering towards full out drunkenness. She moved to get up, but Alfred stood up, and then rushed to pull out her seat for her.

"Who taught you manners?"

"Francis a bit these days, and Arthur way back when before he gave up and considered me a little heathen bastard. That's my family nickname, by the way. Though I kind of suck at them. I still don't what the hell is up with the fish fork and soup spoon and salad spoons," Alfred said. He ran his hands through his hair and suddenly changed the subject as he was wont to do.

"Yeah, this song is great. Dance with me?" Alfred said.

It was so tempting. The couples on the dance floor looked so happy, content in their half-drunken swaying that she couldn't help but think it'd be so good to join them. But tempting or not, she had duties as a big sister that she couldn't just overlook.

"I'd love to, but...I have to pick up Ivan and Nataliya from the airport tomorrow, and I am so very tired. I'm really very sorry—"

"I'll drive you, so no worries. One little dance isn't going to hurt, right? At least, not unless I step on your foot, and I'm getting better with that with the dancing lessons Francis gives us all. He can't stand crappy dancing, though I keep trying to tell him break dancing is totally a thing, he apparently only accepts waltzing and shit."

But she knew that one dance would lead to another, and another drink until she'd be picking up Nataliya and Ivan hungover and wearing Alfred's clothes picked up from the floor. He smelled so good, was so utterly charming and adorable that if she didn't say no now and go to bed, she'd be a mess tomorrow.

"I'm sorry, but I can't pick up my Ivan and Nataliya hungover, so I have to turn in early tonight," she said.

"It's cool. But tomorrow night, then we can totally dance, right?" Alfred said. He looked so hopeful, like she was the only girl in the room.

"I promise you can dance with me as many times as you want once my family is all checked in," Kateryna said.

"Even every night?" Alfred said.

"If you want," she said, with a little laugh. His enthusiasm was infectious.

"Well, all right then. That's more like it. Can I walk you to your hotel room? You never know what might out there, like land sharks," he said.

"I would be honor, sir Alfred of the much Cha," she said.

He broke out laughing in that. "You have no idea what that means, do you?"

She shook her head.

"Okay, I'll give you a crash course later, but first, we gotta get you home."

She wanted to lean into him, but didn't dare. She wouldn't be able to just pull away like that, and go into her own lonely, empty bed. She could smell hyacinths and oranges, salty sea air, and the faint mix of alcohol and him. The harbor lights were just fading into the horizon from here, until it was nothing but It wasn't a long walk, and before she was at her door. She worked out her key card from her big purse.

Alfred peeked over her shoulder. "I bet there's nunchucks in there. And maybe secret forbidden swords of doom."

"Hardly," she said, laughing. "There's tissues and knitting needles, though."

"The next best thing!" Alfred said.

"So," she said. "I, uh, had a good time."

Oh, damn. She was parroting every date cliche ever. Apparently Alfred didn't notice, or forgave her—or maybe he was just on the same script.

"Yeah, it was fun, and tomorrow will be even more awesome. We're gonna make each day a beyond the impossible increase of awesome until the world collapses from the awesome," Alfred said.

"No killing the world with awesome," she said.

"Okay, no apocalypse of awesome rock zombie gods," Alfred said.

"Yes, well..." She turned to the door, key card in hand. "So, goodnight."

"Good night," he said.

But a question had been deep insider her all this time. And she just couldn't let well enough alone. She turned back to him, her grip tight on the keycard.

"Alfred—How did you really get here?" Kateryna said. "I mean..."

"Oh, that? It was destiny, babe. When something like that happens, you just gotta go with it, no matter what it takes to make it happen."

"Oh," she breathed. "Oh."

On anyone else, it would've a corny pick up line, but someone like Alfred, he probably believed in love at first sight and love conquering all. For a brief moment he seemed to lean in. Was he going to kiss her? But then he pulled back, hands in his pockets.

"See ya tomorrow, bright and early," Alfred said.

Biting back disappointment, she reminded herself that this was good. If he kissed her, the thought of being on the dance floor with him would be far too irresistible to resist after being that close. She'd toss away all that resolve for fun with him, and her family had to come first.

She made her way to the shower, resisting the urge to just throw herself on the bed and hug her pillow like a sixteen year old girl mooning over her first boyfriend.

It'd been a long time since she'd had a boyfriend, and even longer since she'd been in love. She'd been busy, or at least that's what she told herself. She felt lighter, as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders.

Ridiculous. It'd only been a day. Did Molokai really have that much magic? If so, she could only hope that it would lift all the years of sadness from her family.

Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe Alfred was infectious. For the first time she could remember, she felt like she could hope for something more.

.

notes:

Alfred's ringtone is the Super Mario Bros. theme :D

They're staying at Aqua Hotel Molokai, with some artistic license.