If time could be adequately measured in the sighs of resignation emitted by a weary UNCLE agent, then it would most certainly be noted that the days of the calendar were well past whatever appointment should have signaled Vacation Begins Here.
If the sound of those sighs were multiplied by two, a person would be in the office of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, agents extraordinaire and the two whose esprit de corps could normally lead their comrades in victory on the worst of days.
No longer could they lay claim to that honor, or even the motivation to claim it. Too long without a real break from duty, both men were exhausted and worn, their bodies mending from the last action on THRUSH turf, the subsequent beatings and, for the Russian, a knife wound that still caused him pain.
As they sat, desolately slumped over paperwork that neither wished to complete, the normally optimistic Napoleon Solo threw down his pen and exclaimed a seldom heard curse. Illya looked up in surprise, a jerking motion that triggered a spasm of pain in his injured shoulder.
"Napoleon? That can't have been in response to an error, so what, my friend, provoked that streak of swearing?"
The dark haired member of this team raised his eyebrows in an expression of frustration and defeat. Napoleon could not put into words how much he longed to be elsewhere. Anyplace would do except UNCLE headquarters.
"Illya, how long has it been since we had some real time off? I mean, the kind of time that took either of us away from here and didn't involve Medical, or a mission, or a courier run. How long?"
The blond pondered the question, and his memory failed to extract a date or even an image that would qualify as a vacation. He remembered that there had been snippets of time, a few days after a mission on occasion. That hardly qualified as a real vacation, however. In fact, Illya wondered if he had ever, in his life, had a proper holiday, as the English would put it.
"What are you suggesting, Napoleon? Do you actually believe that Mr. Waverly would give us time off to just... well for no reason. It's not as though we work for a normal type of business, with paid holidays and other Western amenities."
Napoleon knew all of that, but still he wondered...
"We deserve it, Illya. If for no other reason than that, we should have a vacation. I'm too worn out to face another assignment without an honest to God, bona fide get out of town free ticket."
Illya caught the reference to the Get Out of Jail card in a Monopoly game, and thought it an appropriate allusion to their current state.
"All right, I am quite willing to join you in requesting a vacation, beginning now. What do you think are our chances of success?"
Napoleon wasn't sure exactly what their chances were, only that if they never asked the outcome was guaranteed to be disappointing.
A white strand of beachfront perfection stretched out beyond the hotel bar, and gentle breezes coming in off of the Pacific were just enough to ruffle a certain blond's hair. The sound of ukuleles playing augmented the sight of bodies in the surf, lying in the sand or walking along the perimeter of the big pink hotel. When Napoleon had made the plea for his and Illya's long overdue vacation time, neither of them would have guessed that the Old Man would send them to Waikiki's Royal Hawaiian.
"You know, Illya, this is a life I could easily get used to. I bet even your cold Socialist heart could adjust to living like this."
Of course that was delivered with a grin, and the smirk on the Russian's face did little to convince his friend that there was any question of the answer. Illya was basking in the sun like an experienced worshipper, his pale skin no longer white but a soft golden hue that caused more than one Wahini to glance in his direction.
For his part, Napoleon had a date this evening with a very attractive girl from the North Shore, a spot he had been told was home to surfers and free spirits. Something in that description beckoned to this leisure starved Northerner. He thought a free spirit sounded like therapy right about now.
"Napoleon, what time is your date tonight? I only ask because I also have an engagement ... a date."
That brought a sidelong glance from the American as he tried to imagine which of the bikini clad girls Illya had actually spoken to. No one came to mind.
"Hmmm... well, I'm supposed to meet her out here at six o'clock. She told me to dress casual, so I can only assume we aren't dining inside."
The blond pursed his lips together, studying no doubt. Illya never did anything without a plan in mind.
"Very well. I am not expected until a bit later. You can take the car if you need it, I am being picked up by the lady's driver."
At that little tidbit Napoleon became even more interested in the prospect of Illya's romantic dalliance, if indeed the timid Russian ever dallied.
"Umm, Illya, with whom are you spending the evening, if I may ask? And where did you meet her?"
Illya smiled, that little half smile for which he was known, and the one that caused so many girls back in New York to have a sliver of hope.
"I was visiting the Iolani Palace, she frequents it apparently, and we struck up a conversation. It is nothing, Napoleon. I believe she is quite a bit older than I, and it is merely a friendly evening with an interesting woman."
That wasn't nearly enough information, and Napoleon could tell, based on the past and his sneaky partner's penchant for withholding information, that there was definitely more to the story.
"Okay... but who is she, exactly? I know you're holding out on me, tovarisch, and I insist on hearing the entire account of this acquaintance."
Just then a gust of wind rolled in off of the blue waters, chasing several sunbathers in from the sand that was swirling in its wake. It was time, it seemed, for the daily rain shower, and only the un-initiated thought it necessary to retreat from the beach. Everyone else just sat in the soft mists that came down, the warm air causing it to evaporate almost instantly. It was like a balm, somehow, this soft rain that cleared the air every day.
Napoleon was undeterred, and he turned his attention back to Illya.
"You were just about to tell me who it is you're seeing tonight, I believe."
Much like the afternoon rain had made its entrance, a Hawaiian girl in a flowered dress appeared with a bottle of champagne and a note for Illya. A colorful lei made of plumeria blooms circled the tray she carried. The lovely girl set down the tray on the table, then kissed Illya on each cheek and dropped the lei over the blond's head. Napoleon could have sworn he heard the click of several cameras as he himself noted the effect; the bare skinned Russian, his sun bleached hair a contrast to his newly tan skin and the wreath of flowers that fell around his shoulders. The American was certain he heard someone say U'i, the equivalent of ooo-eee, and he knew what that meant.
Napoleon watched the girl retreat as Illya read the note she had given him.
"Is that from your um... lady friend?"
Damn! Napoleon hated it when Illya kept secrets.
"Yes, Napoleon. It seems we are to dine formally after all. I am not certain what that means in Hawaii. Should I rent a tuxedo, do you think?"
Aha! This was the break Napoleon needed in order to get the information he wanted.
"Well, I'd be happy to help you out with this, but I'll have to know more about where this event is taking place."
The smile wasn't so much smug as it was triumphant. Napoleon was unmistakable when he felt triumphant. Illya sighed resignedly, and relented in his attempts to keep his rendezvous unknown to his nosy partner.
"If you must know, Napoleon, my friend is Her Royal Highness the Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kaw_nanakoa. We met at the Iolone Palace and struck up a conversation and, well... she thought I was interesting and invited me to dinner. I did not, however, anticipate something formal and have no idea whether that means New York formal or something different. It is, after all, Hawaii, the land of surfing and flowered shirts and..." Illya ended with a shrug of his shoulders.
Napoleon had to remind himself to blink. Illya and a Hawaiian princess. On vacation. In Hawaii. The boy certainly had a knack. And he actually got out all of those vowels and made it sound easy.
"All right Illya, let's go inside and ask a few questions. I'm sure someone at a hotel called the Royal Hawaiian must have some idea what one does when out to dinner with an actual Royal Hawaiian.
The two got up from their table and headed towards the reception area of the hotel; Illya in his black swim trunks and the plumeria lei, Napoleon in tan slacks and a white polo shirt, casually holding the bottle of champagne.
Eventually the correct attire was decided upon; black trousers and a white dinner jacket were ordered from the hotel's men's store as well as the proper shirt for the occasion. When the nature of Illya's dinner engagement was disclosed to the desk clerk she immediately called the manager out for a consultation. As much as Napoleon prided himself on knowing the ins and outs of polite society, he had to admit to having little experience regarding the royal element. Even in Hawaii, there was a right way and a wrong way to do things.
A few hours later, as both men were getting ready for their respective evenings out, Napoleon emerged in a pair of khaki trousers and a beautiful, silk Hawaiian shirt with traditional scenes against a grey background. It was his one indulgence to the look favored by tourists, although not many of them owned one of this quality. The shirt shimmered against the last rays of the sun that were stealing into the suite the two men occupied, an obviously expensive garment and perfectly suited to the man who wore it.
Illya was dressed in the evening apparel that had been purchased earlier, the tailoring alterations made quickly in light of the circumstances. There was a great deal of respect for the Royal Family, and the Princess, Kekau as she was known, had been active in promoting Hawaiian culture and was well regarded.
"Illya, you look quite dashing in that get up. I hope you're up for the evening, sporting a princess and all."
Characteristically, the Russian rolled his eyes at the comment. In truth he was a little nervous about it. The woman was, after all, considered royalty, something he normally gave no indulgence of approval. However, she had been kind to him and even curious without contempt concerning his background and nationality.
"I believe it will be an evening to remember, Napoleon. I hope yours will be as well."
The sun was on a steady retreat now, the last light glimmering on the waves as they rolled ashore. This room, this vacation in a modern day paradise had been just what was needed. And now, in a strange exchange of their normal places, Napoleon was headed off on a night among the natives, although not necessarily in a real sense of the word, while Illya was going to be dining with high society on the arm of a royal heir to a throne that, although it no longer held power, was respected and esteemed by the people here.
"What do you think, my friend? It is not too late for both of us to simply bow out of these engagements and spend the night in the bar downstairs?"
Napoleon laughed at his friend, appreciative of the offer even if it wasn't entirely sincere. No, they'd have stories to tell when the morning sun came up. In a sudden surge of something like brotherly love, Napoleon felt a kind of pride welling up in him concerning his Russian partner; all fitted out in evening dress, the blond would be well matched with royalty.
"Have a good evening, Illya. Mind your manners."
He winked at his stoic friend as he departed, causing Illya to smile as well, his anticipation of a fine evening returning with his friend's happy mood.
And the returned greeting came as Napoleon was closing the door behind him.
"Aloha, Illya. Aloha!"
Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion and mercy. Since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello.
Holoholo means out on a lark, fishing, wandering.