The queen stood regally upon the ramparts of the castle, watching the land with a weary eye. Over the months past, the war had worn down not only on country, but the crown. She had personally met a great many heroes who had been summarily sent to their deaths. But the one that affected her the most, leaving an ever-present pang in her heart would be her own husband.
The stress had added age to her elegant features, and her normally colorful garb in the darker colors one would associate with mourning.
But when that day came, the King would still find his wife beautiful. There were no words as he scaled the ramparts to meet her, just a serene silence as they embraced.
As the lights on the stage dimmed, the audience broke out into enthusiastic applause.
The "King," now dressed in jeans and a windbreaker waited for the "Queen" to leave the theater. When she emerged the actress went right past without so much of a glance. "Alice, got a sec?"
"Not for you." She didn't even look back.
"You're leaving town this weekend, right?"
Alice turned on her heel and glared at the man. "And who the hell told you that, Frank?"
The man decided to take a risk. "You want me to be perfectly honest? Your mother called me because you were apparently acting all cut-up about it." Alice came from a rather strict Japanese household. Her parents had no qualms about being direct - unlike their daughter. Frank cringed even as he spoke. "... I guess you didn't tell them about us?"
"They didn't need to know," Alice responded curtly. Her dark eyes narrowed in irritation. "Cut the crap, Frank. What do you want?"
"I got the Carrera restored." The girl stiffened in surprise, and for a moment the look of anger on her soft features subsided.
"Keep talking," she allowed. The Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera had been their project car for three years. After they broke off, Alice had told Frank to keep it, and all the memories associated with it. They had learned a lot, but the German sports car had never gotten to the track successfully in that time.
Frank tucked his hands into his pockets as he recalled the work done. "The new sparkplugs came in, and the tires we looked at. I rewired the messed up wiring in the ignition. Got the transmission working, then gave it some new fluids and took it out last night. Didn't tell anybody else yet."
"I was going to ask if you wanted to go on a drive."
Frank found himself on the end of one of Alice's death-glares. She jabbed a finger at him. "And I'm supposed to just believe you're doing out of the goodness of your heart?"
He shrugged. "If I makes a difference, I promise."
Frank never promised about anything. It also meant he never lied. Alice bit her lip, conflicted. "... fine. But do anything and I will kick your ass."
"Works for me." He lead her to the parking lot and to the bright red car sitting in the lot. It had white racing stripes, and the entire paintjob had the sheen of studious care and polishing. Exactly how they had wanted it all those months ago.
Alice kept back her fiery tongue as they buckled in. She watched as Frank deftly worked the manual, taking them on a tight three-point turn then out of the lot, away from the school. She had said goodbye to many of her friends already and most acquaintances.
Except Frank. Alice thought for a second she felt guilty. Maybe.
The engine on the Porsche wasn't the most powerful by modern standards, but it really gave the sporty little thing a kick, and Frank knew how to drive. Once they were out of the city and past the fuss of a highway, he pulled onto one of the roads in the desert they had always used.
Frank's driving reflected a lot about him as a person. He stamped on the clutch with certainty - he didn't hold back in action or speech. But his shifts were smooth and graceful, with enough practice to not be a brute if he didn't have to. The man's knuckles weren't white on the wheel because he knew how to work a car. And most of all, he had an aura of total certainty and ease that made the drive so much better.
The miles of sun-baked desert raced by until they stopped at a gas station for a break. Frank was serene - Alice was nervous.
"Hey..." she started anxiously.
"I know I've made mistakes before, and you've moved on for the most part," Frank started. "But the last thing I wanted to do was send you off with bad memories and feelings. This was the most direct way to do that, is all."
Frank didn't use people. He didn't know how. Alice closed her eyes. "Yeah. You did good work."
"You got most of the difficult stuff done first. Don't discredit yourself like that," he chuckled. "Lets keep driving, anyway."
Alice nodded, and the two climbed in. Frank started to speak again as they cruised down the road. "All I thought was... we can be heroes on a stage or behind a wheel. When we get into character to be a hero, we're still being brave. It's not just make-believe. The least we could do is be more than enemies when we split off, right?" He didn't get an answer. At least, not a spoken one.
Alice laid her cheek on Frank's shoulder and sighed softly. There was nothing they could do to change her family's plans. She was too emotionally alienated from her past with Frank to take it up again. Any relationship would be doomed.
But they had the fruit of their efforts together and a single day. They could make it last, just to prove their own assumptions wrong.