|Out of His Sight
Author: Kittie Darkhart PM
It's been eighteen years since he last guarded a celebrity. Eighteen years since he guarded her. Now, a retired Frank Framer considers what was and could have been during that tempestuous spring of '92.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - F. Farmer & R. Marron - Words: 11,746 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 1 - Published: 03-17-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7934098
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own The Bodyguard, characters, songs, places, etc. All rights belong to Warner Brothers, Lawrence Kasdan, Dolly Parton, and their respected owners. This story is written solely for fans of the film. No copyright infringement is intended. Also, credit must be given to Robert Tine, who wrote the film tie-in novel edition, for a few details mentioned that were left out of the film.
Summary: It's been eighteen years since he last guarded a celebrity. Eighteen years since he guarded her. Now, a retired Frank Framer considers what was and could have been during that tempestuous spring of '92.
Out of His Sight
Late November, 2010
It was a little over eighteen years ago, when he last guarded someone who held the stature of an entertaining icon with a magnitude that radiated something perhaps only second to that of Marilyn Monroe. Eighteen years, since he last retained a careful eye on a client who was, if in the beginning, and had been, over the course of their tumultuous relationship, no more than an absolute bitch to him. Nevertheless, as was with the requirements of the service that naturally came with his profession, he'd withstood it, tolerated more than just her bullshit, as well as that of everyone's who had surrounded her at that time, and he'd done so only because he'd somehow, unknowingly, allowed a part of himself to fall in love with her—the carefully assiduous, fortified Frank Farmer, who never let his guard down, had allowed himself, if for a single time in his life, to fall for more than just a pretty face. He'd fallen for her voice as well.
"I'll never forget what it felt like to be under your eye. Never."
Or so she'd told him, that day on the tarmac, just before she'd returned to the small plane that carried her out of his life, and into that of a billion others'. He hadn't given it much thought then, not when goodbyes were part of the job description between his clients and himself. She was out of danger, and therefore no longer had need of his services. She had other bodyguards; it was necessary for a woman of her position and fame to have them. He'd even seen to his replacement personally, since Ray Court, although a good twenty years his senior, was considered to be one of the best in their field. And still was, Frank assumed, up until his colleague's retirement fourteen years ago.
He hadn't talked to Ray since then, but word traveled around all the same. The man had undoubtedly guarded Rachel like a bulldog, before retiring comfortably on the small fortune he'd accumulated. To Frank's knowledge, Ray had passed the mantle of bodyguard onto someone younger, yet had been no less experienced than he. In the best possible circumstances, that was how things worked: one of their occupation would either suggest another of the same caliber to their client, or give the name of an agency that dealt in such matters. It was how the system maintained itself. It was how he liked things. But then, not every bodyguard was ever the same. Like no two snowflakes being perfectly alike, the same could be said of those who placed their life on the line for a certain sum of money. No one did their job exactly the same, since no one was ever the best, no matter how vigilant and precise the bodyguard was, or how incompetent the assassin turned out to be.
The Portman affair had proven that, just as the sometimes-often ache in his left arm and shoulder reminded him. He'd never fully gotten over the injury, despite what he told himself. He likened it to stress or lack of sleep and never for what it really was. He was now old enough to blame it on arthritis—not that he relished the idea of considering himself falling into such a decrepit state just yet—since he was barely in his fifties. He almost smiled. It was somewhat impossible to imagine it, but he was now as old as some of the clients he'd been hired to protect, those graying politicians who were far easier to watch over, compared to a willful young woman who believed she knew more about her life, fans, and safety than she really did.
She knew better now; that much was a certainty, considering what she'd been through. Or rather, what they'd both been through, Frank silently corrected himself. He hadn't guarded a celebrity since—certainly not one that held Rachel Marron's status—as the experience of it, though glamorous and strangely intriguing it had been at times, had been enough to last him a lifetime.
For true to his word, Frank was through with show business. It was a foreign world that would forever elude him with its strange customs and ongoing parties. Unlike Tony and Bill Devaney, he would never be able assimilate himself into such a chaotic existence with crowds of adoring fans and the media's constant scrutiny. The kind of attention that politicians, royalty, and heads of state received was bad enough, and that was reality. He couldn't imagine how other bodyguards could stand anything beyond that, especially when some of their clients were only hazards unto themselves. He almost felt sorry for the few who had to play maidservants to some of their charges, staying in behind them to keep them from falling over themselves in a ridiculous costume, simply worn for attention. Yes, he almost sympathized with them. Almost. It was a choice they made, to come under the employ of such a taciturn and mindless client, so they had only themselves to blame.
Absently rubbing the slight ache in his shoulder, he glanced at the clock on the wall and quietly noted the hour. Half-past five. With the new time change, darkness would come much sooner than he wanted. Indeed, the sun was already beginning to set, although he could only see the slightest traces of its descent, since the surrounding mountains obscured the sight that he so often saw, from his old suburban home in California. He'd sold the place back in '96, not long after his father suffered from a mild stroke that required someone to be at home with him. It was how Frank found himself returning to Bend, since he adamantly refused to put his father in a nursing home, let alone leave him under the care of a nurse, no matter how appealing that idea had rather jokingly been to a man with a buoyant, uplifting nature like Herb Farmer's.
Looking down at his hands, Frank could almost hear the deep sound of his father's laughter, as he recalled the last game of chess they'd played, which had, oddly enough, ended in a stalemate. He'd never admitted it then, but he'd willingly conceded his queen to his father's knight, his king in peril. And yet, Herb refused to check him, his withered lips set in a firm line of obvious disappointment.
"I'd expected better of you, Frank; you know better than to let your guard down, even for an old fart like me," he'd said, before setting his knight to the side with a shaking, yet determined, hand, forfeiting the game by default. Frank wordlessly put the board and its pieces away, saying not a word on the matter as father and son opted instead to sit and watch the evening news together.
It was the last game they'd played.
For the next day had been greeted by his being pressed back into service by none other than the man he'd sworn to look after, not for money, but because he wanted to take care of the only family he had left. That alone could never set a price, since Frank could never guard his father against the inevitable. Rachel's words before the Oscars had come to haunt him then, more than they had when she'd said them. "When your time's up, it's up. Right, Frank?"
His father hadn't said anything remotely similar to that disturbing revelation, but Herb's words held a familiar connotation all the same.
"I don't need you to guard me like you do those on the job. I'm well enough to look after myself now, and you need to get back to work before your feet fall asleep," Herb had said, looking Frank straight in the eye, those same bright-blue eyes meeting his son's with a frank earnestness that Frank had naturally inherited from him. "You've taken off for as long as you can, and don't forget that I know who you're protecting now. You're good, Frank, probably one of the best in your field. People need you." More than I do.
Herb hadn't said the words out loud, but Frank discerned his father's meaning all the same, and, although it was with a heavy heart that he'd leave home for several months at a time, he heeded his father's advice and returned from leave, back to the Secret Service's Presidential detail unit. After Rachel, it had taken Frank a few years to work himself back into service for the President; he had managed to get back in after serving his time on the rubber-chicken circuit, where he protected a number of state Congressmen successfully. He returned to service in '94 with Clinton's administration, and then served for several months under the President's successor.
At the time, he'd considered retiring, since Herb's health wasn't the best, and he'd made more than enough money to sustain him for an early retirement. But then, 9/11 happened, and he found himself staying with the Secret Service, much longer than intended. Guarding the current President had been more than a priority, since terror gripped the country, perhaps even more than it had with Pearl Harbor. During those first months after the attacks, he'd found himself calling home almost every day, to reassure his father that everything was fine, and nothing would happen to a younger Bush, as it had happened with Reagan. He was there this time. And he kept his word. There were attempts and would-be assassins, certainly. But, ultimately, the President, along with his staff, remained unscathed for the most part. The Zero-Year Curse and every other long-standing superstition regarding the office of President had certainly been whispered amongst some of the administration's more superstitious employees, since it wasn't a secret that Reagan's administration had an astrologer working for him during his tenure in office after the Hinckley incident. Frank himself had been well aware of the added employee, who worked from home, although the fact of it had only remained in the back of his mind. He never really placed a lot of thought into old curses as much as he did in a viable flesh and blood threat that could enact it.
However regardless of that fact, Frank didn't leave his post until the President was well into his second term. He'd served for five years—a year longer than what he'd spent with Reagan—and felt more than ready to let his feet finally rest. In Frank's mind, it was time to leave the Secret Service indefinitely; and, having been left assured that someone more capable than he filled his place, he'd retired with a poignant farewell from the President himself, who hated to lose Frank's carefully guarded eye. It had been difficult to refuse continuing on, since protecting the lives of others had been all he'd ever known since graduating from high school. Nevertheless, he'd served his country honorably, guarding some of the most influential people the world would ever know. He himself would never be in the history books, but the men and women he'd served would be, and that had been perfectly fine with him. He was never one for the public eye, anyway.
No, the seemingly peaceful, idyllic life he now had at the lake was everything he needed. To even prove that point, he glanced at the home his parents built and breathed in its familiar pine scent. Like his father, everything remained as his mother had wanted it; he changed very little when he'd returned, deciding to keep his childhood home in an almost perpetual state that still retained a hint of his mother's more decorative, yet practical, touch. Only a few mementos from his time in the service had been added to the rustic décor, his katana blade methodically displayed above the fireplace, next to photos of his family and days long passed.
He lost his father, not long after he retired. Herb had fought a long battle, well into his eighties, never giving in to the stroke that weakened his right hand and arm or his age, as it was that same, self-assured resilience that helped Frank to simply get through the funeral. Herb Farmer had never been a celebrity, per se, but being the chief of police for twenty-five years certainly carried a reputation all of its own, since the whole town of Bend attended. Faces of his father's acquaintance and even those from Frank's own childhood had come to speak to him in droves, offering their condolences, some of which sharing fond memories of one instance or another that featured his father. Indeed, Herb Farmer had been a good man, a paragon who meant more than any President or movie star ever could to those in a small, faraway town where everyone knew everyone else.
As such, the outpouring of a grieving town almost matched that of Frank's internal loss, as he found himself bombarded by floral arrangements of every kind—some of which having come from his former colleagues and even from a couple of Presidents, or rather someone from their former administrations, who'd found time for the men in question to pen a quick note of sympathy—and enough prepared food from most of the wives of retired policemen, as well as those still on the force to last him over a month. He'd either placed most of the flowers on his parents' graves or gave most to his distant relatives, although there was one among the scores of roses and peace lilies that had caught his attention, a simple arrangement of purple carnations that had almost been dwarfed by the others. He recalled seeing the small basket of flowers, his curiosity drawn to their overt simplicity, since very few in Bend understood the language of flowers, let alone what purple carnations meant outside of France. The arrangement had not been a mistake by the florist; the choice had been intentional, just as the card it carried, with its crisp white envelope entailed. He'd taken it up and opened it without a word, his hand shaking as he read the card:
We were so sorry to hear of your father's passing. He was a very good man, Frank; Fletcher really enjoyed playing chess with him. You and your family are forever in our thoughts and prayers.
With much love,
— Rachel and Fletcher
He'd been rendered speechless by the message, completely caught off guard by its heartfelt sentiment. And yet, the small basket of flowers had been one of the few arrangements he'd brought back with him. He never knew how she'd known, let alone found out, since news of his father's death hadn't made national headlines. He doubted it reached anywhere outside of Bend, and yet she'd found out regardless, just as the note, with its automatic type, had been there for him all the same. He highly doubted anyone realized that the small bundle of carnations had been from an award winning movie star who'd entertained half of the world and had an Oscar under her belt to prove it. He'd never told anyone, for not even now, after so many years, would he ever dare jeopardize a client's safety.
Of course, he would never admit it to himself, but he still felt overly protective of the only celebrity he'd ever guarded, as such even extended to Fletcher, that fierce loyalty to both mother and son never quite leaving him, not even after eighteen years. Undoubtedly, Fletcher was a young man by now, perhaps already out of college. And Rachel…of course…was still as lovely as ever. He was never much one for reading the entertainment columns, having completely tuned himself off from things like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood and Ryan Seacrest's daily dish on celebrities, yet he'd still seen her, either on the cover of a magazine in the grocery store or on the news. Seeing her had been as unavoidable as breathing, and yet he was no longer in her presence, couldn't shadow her, or hold her in his protective embrace, let alone breathe in the scent of her, intermingled with one of those expensive French perfumes she wore.
Actually, he'd seen her make headlines only yesterday. He hadn't intended to watch T.V., but the news was on, and a clip of Rachel, decked out in layers of voluminous white satin, flashed across the television screen. The sight of her had nearly blinded him at first. That was, until he registered a thin, gauzy veil that fell behind her hair, as he suddenly realized what the gown she wore had meant. He hadn't even heard of her engagement. But then, he was barely aware of anything outside of Bend. She'd been no less than stunning. He was certain that she'd had a score of lovers and more, some among the millions of her admirers, as well as those in the industry itself. If he was honest, he could admit, if to himself, that he felt a slight pang of envy. It was no more phantom sensation, like one feels after losing a limb. He shouldn't have felt it, since he didn't have to worry over her or her safety now; she was no longer in his sight. However, that did not render the fact that her face was still a subject of beauty for anyone who had sense enough to acknowledge it for what it was.
In the years that had passed between them, it seemed as though age had barely touched her; for in spite of all the Hollywood medical miracles and remedies in the line of age-defying cosmetics and surgery, it appeared that Rachel hadn't fallen into that category of famous faces that willingly placed themselves under the knife. Surprisingly, she'd chosen the more traditional route, and she'd aged gracefully.
Of course, he could hardly say the same for himself. In an age where Botox and plastic surgery made one young forever, Frank Farmer highly doubted that even the most skilled surgeon could undo what years of constant stress and worry had done to him. Deep-set lines aligned his mouth and forehead, a smattering of crow's feet adding years to his once-youthful face. Not only were there wrinkles and sunspots to worry over, but his hair now had grey amongst the rich dark-brown in which he still kept close cropped, as there were some things about his appearance he refused to change, his hairstyle being one of them. Undoubtedly, his haircut was severely out of date, but he didn't mind; he had no one to impress, especially since he was now, more or less, a confirmed bachelor.
He highly doubted he would ever marry now, the idea of a wife and children, although never completely far from his mind, having eluded him for so long. He was past his prime in such things, perhaps, and he almost somewhat regretted the fact, since neither his mother nor father had the joy in having any grandchildren. His father hadn't mentioned it, even on his deathbed, but the reality of Frank remaining alone had struck his father hard all the same. He had been there for his father, but who would be there for him? It was a question that Frank absently considered at times, yet never fully countenanced. For unlike those who were lucky in love, Frank had never had the pleasure in holding onto something as real and as tangible as that age-old sentiment featured in love songs and poems. He wasn't as lucky as Rachel, who had undoubtedly moved on so easily after their brief affair. He'd had a few relationships here and there since then, certainly, but never anything lasting beyond the occasional one-night stand or a few months' worth of long-distance calls that usually resulted in a mutual agreement to end whatever he and the lady in question believed they might've had as both went their separate ways. He never possessed the ability of having anything more than that—unlike some of the others in his former profession, who sometimes settled down and had families of their own.
And yet, his thoughts returned to what he'd seen yesterday, to his former client dressed in a doubtlessly pricey wedding gown. Some lucky bastard would find himself caged with a lioness, yet enthralled by a siren. He didn't know whether he should mentally congratulate the fellow or punch him in the face; he didn't catch the name of Rachel's intended, since he'd turned the television off before the bubbly blond-headed news anchor could utter it. He hadn't turned it on since, opting instead to spend the rest of the day out fishing. He'd done little else, other than taking a call from the local realtor, who'd helped put a few tracts of land near his surrounding property up for sale. He honestly had no wish for neighbors, but the land was well-suited for a house or two, and the extra money it yielded didn't hurt. Actually, he was supposed to meet with whoever it was—a Ms. Grayson, he believed was her name, from Pennsylvania—this evening, and she apparently was going to be a no-show, since she was already an hour and a half late. Not that it mattered, of course, since he was perfectly fine if the woman opted out in meeting with him; the housing market wasn't what it used to be, and he could understand a buyer's reluctance in building a home from scratch.
He silently considered this before setting the half-finished glass of orange juice he held down and resumed his solitary game of chess. With his father gone, he had only himself to play against, which was often a one-sided game, since he still favored the white half of the board. Neither side had a chance in hell of winning, since he hadn't intended for such an outcome. As far as he was concerned, it could result in the same damnable stalemate that his father had left him with before dying. Playing simply for the sake of winning was no longer part of the strategy; he played since there was little else he could do in the long, endless days that summed up his retirement. He made a move, quick and precise, as his black queen captured a white knight. He faintly acknowledged the significance of such a move, his eyes slightly falling upon a small green, red, and gold cross that lay beside one of his 9-millimeter handguns, which, of out habit, he still kept close at hand.
It had been years—more than Frank cared to admit—since he'd last attended church in town, but he no less made it a private incentive to take the tiny cross wherever he went. His 9-mm and the cross had become close friends over the years, one usually never parting from the other's side, just as they now lay within reach of each other. He stared at the memento for a moment, and remembered its importance. She'd given it to him before they separated that day at the airport, a parting gift, only for him. If she'd gone and belted out one of her more famous songs along with it, he doubted it would've affected him as much as her giving him the small cross had done. Of course, her rendition of Dolly Parton's "I'll Always Love You" had more than a lasting effect on him when he first heard it; the song had reached the number one spot and stayed on the Billboard charts for weeks.
He'd heard the song a couple of times on the radio, but its lyrics had never affected him as the tiny enameled cross had. He'd never told anyone about what she'd given him, or whispered in his ear before she returned to her plane, but it was the one thing that he'd carried with him during every mission. He doubted his father had even known of it, much less suspected anything beyond its existence, as there were some things that Frank Framer would never confide in anyone, the tiny cross being one of those innermost, private things.
He stared at it for another moment before he returned his gaze to the board and considered the fate of both sides, his awareness of his surroundings, despite the handful of years of retirement, remaining sharp. Like his dinosaur of a laptop, old, yet capable, in its functions, he was simply on standby.
He heard the knock before the sound reached his ears.
"It's open," he said, half-expecting the realtor, Ms. Davis, an amiable woman in her early sixties, whose husband and sons owned a construction company in town, to come and apologize for the delay of his one possible buyer. His eyes never left the board, although his demeanor was nevertheless welcoming.
"You know, I can't say this is exactly a step-up from Squirrel Hill, but it will have to do."
Frank's head turned at the voice, his eyes falling upon a face that he had only seen just yesterday, a provocative smile only for him. He said nothing, his hooded expression remaining perfectly guarded, although the surprise in his eyes betrayed him regardless. Rachel Marron. Out of everything he'd expected, he never imagined that she would walk through that door ever again. Much less my life, he thought absently, taking in the sight of her, half-asking himself what the hell she was doing here, standing in front of him, without all the stars and glitz and glamour that naturally came with her. She was no longer standing in a plethora of white, her Versace wedding gown—or whoever the hell it had been designed by—no longer draping her sinuous figure as she stood in a plain navy-blue sweater and wrinkled jeans, her hair, a little longer from what he remembered, pulled back into a nondescript ponytail. He even noticed that her purse was far from one of those designer bags that ranged in the thousands.
She looked nothing like the Rachel Marron on T.V., or on the cover of a Cosmopolitan magazine; she looked overwhelmingly normal, if not a little tired, the dark circles under her eyes contrasting that of her Oscar-winning smile. But then, to Frank, she looked absolutely lovely. Perfect. And he was completely floored by how he should address her. In a way, it was easier to speak to God, compared to that of the woman presently standing before him.
"Rachel," was all he said, before moving to stand to greet her properly, his hand gesturing for her to have a seat.
Seeming to catch onto his lack of tongue, Rachel sat down. "I hope you aren't mad at me, Frank," she began, her smile widening at his obvious confusion. "For being late, I mean. I'd meant to be here over an hour ago, but traffic was murder. I hadn't realized that Bend had grown so much since I was last here. It really is a nice town. I don't think I got photographed even once." She laughed then, half-amused by her own admission. But then, who would've expected her, a singer and film star, to be driving an '05 Oasis Green Pearl-colored Toyota Highlander, either?
Frank eyes narrowed, suddenly piecing everything together. Squirrel Hill was part of northeast Pittsburgh…Pennsylvania. Jesus Christ. How had he not made the connection before now? You're losing your touch, old man, he mentally chided himself. "Ms. Grayson?" he prompted suddenly; and Rachel nodded, wholly without shame.
"Guilty as charged," she confessed, her hands upraised in a rueful gesture in finally being caught. "Although Grayson is my mother's maiden name, and I really am from Pennsylvania, so I really wasn't being all that deceptive about anything. Actually, it's partly your fault, since you've now got me looking over my shoulder, everywhere I go. You've made me second-guess even the best security measures implemented by some of the top bodyguards out there." She laughed again, catching one of his faint smiles.
"City kids with their BlackBerrys and wires," he answered with a casual shrug of his shoulders, as both knew that his own methods in protecting high-priority figures were now severely outdated. "They stay out of your sight much easier."
She made a face. "Yeah, yeah, they do," she agreed, with a touch of amusement. "And I've had quite a few of those "kids" around me lately." She gave him a knowing look. "They don't get as up close and personal as they used to."
The humor in Frank's eyes vanished, his serious expression returning. "Rachel," he returned soberly as he remembered the news headline from yesterday. "I don't know what you want from me, or why you're here, but—"
"But nothing, Frank," she broke in, suddenly having the need to silence him before he actually said something smart. "Look, I know how uncomfortable this must be for you, since we haven't seen each other in years. I can't say that I don't regret that, because I do. I really do, Frank. But I want to explain a few things, if you'll hear me out?" When she saw him incline his head, she continued. "I honestly hated that day when we parted ways; I really hadn't expected you to be there, and it made it that much harder in letting you go. You really weren't far from my thoughts. For a long time, I thought about you; where you were, and what you might be doing. Ray was great at keeping me safe, as have been most of the others after he left, but I've never felt as safe as I was with you."
Frank inwardly faltered at her words, as it was then he broke his silence. "Rachel," he began, shifting uncomfortably underneath her dark-eyed gaze. "If you're suggesting that I become your bodyguard again…" He let his meaning fall between them, and Rachel brushed off his rejection with a dismissive wave of her hand.
"That's not what I meant at all," she replied, somewhat flustered, yet still taking in his aged face and graying hair. To Rachel, her former bodyguard rivaled, if not outmatched, a lot of men, half his age. "I know you're retired, and have been for years. I'm not here to see if you'll do that again, especially after what you did for me back then. I couldn't put you through all that again." She visibly shuddered, remembering the hell she'd put him through with her selfishness and the bullet he'd taken for her. No, she would never put him in that position again. "That's not what I want from you, Frank."
"Then what do you want, Rachel?" he asked, finally finding his ground in speaking to her. "As I recall, you had a very big event yesterday."
Rachel's face fell at his insinuation. So he'd heard the news, and now he was going to guilt her into submission. Touché. It was a shame, however, that she refused to give him the satisfaction in cowering under his carefully discerning eye. She was no missish, shrinking little violet, and would never be. "It seems that I've forgotten myself when I came in. You can tell it's been a while since I've done this customary greeting thing. So, let's redo this conversation. How have you been, Frank?" she asked, purposely dodging his question. "How's retirement been for you?"
Frank stared at her, wholly at a loss for words. Just what the hell was she playing at now? He was good at reading people—damn good, in fact—but Rachel Marron had almost always floored him with her spontaneous nature. Even from the onset of his protecting her, he could never always read which direction she would go in next. He hadn't understood her then, and doubted he would have any luck in understanding her now. But he would play her little game, if only until his patience wore out. "It's been fine," he found himself say, although his response seemed forced, his voice not his own. "I've lived here for the past five years now, ever since Dad was in his final sickness."
"I was sorry to hear of his passing," Rachel returned gently, her hardened expression softening. "Fletcher wanted to come up for the service, but his finals were that week."
The former bodyguard conceded a kind look at that. "Dad liked Fletcher," he said, glossing over the desire to ask whether she'd also wanted to come to the service as well. "I certainly had some competition with him around in helping Dad with chess. I actually lost that game, thanks to him." He heard Rachel laugh, and he gave in to the moment, a ghost of a smile tracing his drawn features. "It's been different without Dad here. Well, I guess nothing ever stays the same." He shrugged then, and moved to sit down across from her. "How is Fletcher doing? I bet he's quite a young man by now."
Rachel practically beamed at the assertion, a motherly pride shining through her exhaustion. "He's about to graduate from medical school—at the very top of his class, if you can believe it," she said, grinning when she caught his appraising look. "He wanted no part of what I was doing, and wanted to help people, without making a name for himself. He earned his own scholarship, and has even put himself through school, without any of my help."
Frank nodded at this, unsurprised by the fact. "Fletcher is a smart kid; I could tell that much when I met him." And he meant it, since the boy's acuteness in reading people and noticing things that even most seasoned security guard might overlook hadn't gotten past him. Undoubtedly, that careful discernment would serve him well in the medical field, just as his unwillingness to use his mother's name or fortune garnered an even deeper respect from Frank. He honestly wished he could meet this matured version of a once uncertain, brilliant little boy he'd come to see beyond his mother's illustrious shadow of attendants and admirers.
"He is," Rachel agreed placidly. "Perhaps even smarter than his own momma." She shook her head then, and looked her former bodyguard in the eye. "He's one of the reasons why I'm here, Frank. I've never been very good at subtlety, since I've always been able to tell people exactly how I feel, and I know you agree with that, but Fletcher made me realize something yesterday."
And what was that? Frank wanted to ask, but didn't press the matter, knowing that Rachel would speak in her own time. They had all the time in the world here, after all. Unless we're being watched by one of those damned Hollywood reporters, he thought, a little irritably, yet only sensed Rachel and himself there.
Unaware of his private thoughts, Rachel pressed on. "He has a great singing voice, if you could only hear him. He never sings in public, but he can hold his own in a ballad, if he wanted. But he isn't one for fame; he wants no part of it. I mean, sure, he's attended some events with me, but he's wanted nothing to do with show business. He wouldn't even tell any of the girls he's dated who I was. Usually, they either find out on their own, or come over to the house and see some of my gold and platinum records. There was even one who'd said, "Rachel who?" That was rather amusing. And, oddly enough, that's the girl he plans to marry. Oh, you find that funny, do you? Ah, well, I find it funny myself. But she's a nice girl, and she treats him very well, so I can't complain too much." She smiled then, although it was a sad smile. "But Fletcher's like that; he just wants to be normal, and, in a way, I believe that he would've preferred that I was like any one of those soccer moms whose fame rested with the PTA and the church choir. I think that's what he's always wanted for us, and I was just too wrapped up in myself and worrying about my own success to see it. Don't say that I wasn't, Frank, because you know as well as I do that I should've been more at home. Fletcher should've been my top priority, especially without his growing up without a father, and I thought he was…"
She paused then, and Frank could see the turmoil in her eyes when she thought of past regrets as they flickered across her dark eyes. He wouldn't say anything to the contrary about her feelings regarding Fletcher, since she was admitting faults that he had no place to either condemn or deny; it wasn't his place to cast judgment upon her, particularly regarding how she'd raised her own son. Instead, he allowed her to speak, silently patient as she continued on, her voice never ceasing in its unparalleled wonder.
"I really should've been there more for him, I know that now. He wasn't the same after what happened with the boat and Nicki. He never told me how frightened he'd been then, but I should've seen it; I should've seen it, long before then. I was such a fool, Frank. I now see that winning that Oscar wasn't as important as looking after Fletcher. I also regret not having given my sister the proper credit she deserved; she was the one who got me into music in the first place, and I should've been there more for her. Nicki had such a beautiful voice, if you only heard her." Rachel then glanced at the room, her eyes darting toward the hall where her sister had breathed her last, imagined Nicki's crumpled body lying prostrate on the floor. Frank thought he had shielded her from the sight, but he never knew that she'd seen her sister lying there, lifeless, before Herb covered Nicki's body with a blanket.
The memory of it troubled her more than she'd liked to admit as both she and Frank remembered that night when Nicki died. Frank thought about it at times, about how she'd been shot by the one she'd unknowingly sent to kill her sister, and how he could've, perhaps, done something differently to save her. Maybe Nicki would've been alive today if he had. Either way, though, he'd never told Rachel about Nicki and Greg Portman, as there were some things, he felt, that no one needed to know about those whom they loved. He doubted Rachel could've handled the truth of Nicki's hatred and jealousy, and how her oldest sister had set out to have a hitman kill her.
"What happened to Nicki wasn't your fault," he said, echoing the same words he'd said eighteen years before to her.
"Nor was it yours," she firmly returned, a consoling hand falling up his knee, a jolt of electricity—one not felt in years—passing between them. Neither acknowledged the sensation aloud, but nor did they deny its existence. Suddenly embarrassed, Rachel pulled away and caught sight of his glass of orange juice. She took a drink and made a face. "This isn't orange juice," she said, her expression scrunching into one of distaste. "God, Frank, what kind of vile concoction is this? This vodka is just awful!"
He afforded her a small smile in lieu of an apology for not offering her something sooner, and asked if she wanted something to drink.
"I'll have anything, just so as long it's not that god-awful horse piss," she archly replied, and secretly reveled in his laughter when he stood up and got her a glass of orange juice—straight, as she'd once described his safer preference. She smiled triumphantly when he brought her a glass sans the aforementioned horse piss. "This is much better. I can now see why you drank so much of it on the job," she teased when he sat back down.
"I had to keep my head straight then," came the honest response, and Frank leaned forward, his eyes catching hers in that quiet, subtle way that made Rachel suddenly nervous. She still hadn't given him an answer yet, and they both knew it.
Nodding her head in understanding, she gave in to his silent inquiry. She'd denied both him and her this for years. "I should've told you this that day I left," she said, her voice no longer holding the air of confidence it had once exerted, "but I couldn't. And it really wasn't until yesterday that I realized just how much of a mistake that was." She shook her head, her eyes never leaving his. "You'd think that after three engagements I'd find myself married, divorced, and remarried. I guess the funny thing is that I hadn't been able to go through with any of them."
Frank said nothing in response. Schooling his expression, he remained completely impassive, his face heavily guarded. But the surprise remained. She'd never married. Not once. He hadn't expected that.
Though regardless of his lack of response to her confession, Rachel read his surprise well enough. "I've stumped you, haven't I? The great Frank Farmer thrown for a loop," she mused. "Well, I guess you could say that I've always been one to make big show out of everything, and I'm guessing that you didn't keep the T.V. on long enough to learn about what happened yesterday." When she saw him shake his head, she smiled. "This wedding business has been planned for months, but I never really cared much for the details. He's isn't an actor, or anything like that. He's one of those corporate CEOs, who is part owner of a national football team. Probably didn't think I'd manage to snag one of those kinds of guys, did you?"
Frank didn't answer her, although he knew she very well could snag almost any man she wanted. He didn't say that, however, his thoughts remaining with the fact that she was here, with him, instead of that unnamed, big-shot CEO, with his fancy football team and countless billions. Why are you here, Rachel? He wanted nothing more than to shake the answer out of her at that point, but remained his calm, resolute self. He then noticed that her glass was almost empty. "Would you like another drink?" he instead asked, clenching his hands lest they shake and she notice.
She shook her head. "I'm fine," she said, her momentum suddenly gone. "I'm just tired, I guess. It was a long drive."
They lapsed into an almost companionable silence then, neither having anything to say, the words seemingly lost between them. Frank turned on a few lamps, the moon now heavy in the night's sky. Neither seemed to notice it, however, caught up as they were in trying to find the right thing to say, as it was only the ring on Rachel's cell phone that shattered the silence. She pulled it from her purse and looked at the number before excusing herself, her eyes suddenly catching something on the table beside of Frank. She said nothing as she saw the familiar piece of jewelry, her attention solely on the person on the other side of the line.
"Hey, Fletcher," she said, a genuine smile lingering in her tired voice. "Yeah, yeah, I made it just fine. I'm here with Frank." She glanced at the man in question, who watched the exchange between mother and son in silence. There was a pause, as Fletcher apparently had something to say regarding the fact. Rachel laughed then. "Yeah, I'll be sure to him that! Are you and Alice going out tonight? Be careful, then. I know you're twenty-six now. Well…I'm still your mother, so I still have a right to check in on you, right? Oh, alright, alright. Yeah. I'll call you in the morning. Love you too, baby. Bye."
She hung up the phone and put it back in her bag. "He hates that I still call him that, but he is still my baby," she freely admitted, before returning to her seat. "Oh, and Fletcher wanted me to tell you personally that he's gotten better at chess, and that he plans to match you one day. If you're up for it, that is? He actually has an app of it for his iPhone, so he can play in between classes."
Frank managed a smile. "Tell him that I'll keep the board ready," he answered, although he was almost certain that he would probably never see Fletcher. He was almost half-convinced that the phone conversation he'd heard, as well as the one that he presently shared with the woman sitting before him, was nothing more than a fanciful dream, a delusion, brought on by too much loneliness and isolation. And yet, her voice rang out to him as clear as day.
Rachel seemed to notice his uncertainty, and so decided to stir the conversation into a more manageable direction. "Look, Frank, I know my coming here probably doesn't make any sense, and that it was the last thing on your mind, but I just had to see you. I couldn't bring myself to stay away any longer, and I guess after three failed engagements I should've been able to see that. I was honestly ready to put myself through in marrying Hal yesterday, but Fletcher got me to the side before I did it, and made me see just how miserable I was about it. He was the one who suggested I come up here, and I'm glad he did, because I don't know if I could've persuaded myself otherwise." She closed her eyes for a moment, her pained expression showing through with unshed tears. "Hal's a good guy, but it wouldn't have worked out, and Fletcher saw that," she said, looking at him again. "I should've told Hal sooner. I just left him there, Frank, without so much as an explanation, before I had Henry get me a rental car, a map, and a GPS. The next thing I knew, I'm up here." With you.
She didn't say it, but Frank knew what she meant. "What do you plan to do?" he asked, uncertain of what to expect from her.
Rachel looked down, her hands folded over her lap. "I guess that depends on you, Frank," she answered. "Truth is, if I were you, I'd probably have tossed me out on my ass long before now, but you won't do that—not by a long shot." She regarded him quietly. "Even now, I can't read you. You've always been impossible that way. No, don't apologize for it; it's just who you are. You're different, and that's one of the things I admire about you. There aren't very many like you in the business, since most of them are self-centered assholes anymore." She pulled a sweet-mocking face. "I'm honestly glad you decided to stay out of show business after me. I wouldn't have wanted it to have corrupted you."
Unable to look at her, Frank glanced down at his half-empty glass, his thoughts, though, remaining on her. "That's kind of you," he said in way of attempting some humor to lighten the profundity of her words.
She had the grace not to roll her eyes. "Yeah, I'm the embodiment of that virtue, aren't I?" she returned cynically. "Bill always told me that I had a knack for annoying the hell out of people, just to simply get under their skin. Apparently, I'm talented in more than just singing and acting." She give him a playful wink. "Actually, it seems that these days that's all I'm doing in the studios; bugging the hell out of everyone, and playing the high-strung diva because I can. It doesn't garner any awards, though."
That bit of news genuinely surprised him. He looked at her with a hint of disbelief. "Did the music industry lose its hearing?"
She laughed at that. "It would seem so, especially since nowadays the industry is picking up every pretty face that can't carry so much as a single note."
Frank nodded in understanding. He wasn't all that knowledgeable, when it came to a person's singing talent; but, from what he'd heard on the radio and saw on some of those primetime reality T.V. shows more than confirmed Rachel's admonition of those, decidedly less than that of her own caliber. "Then your publicist must be glad that he stayed with you."
Rachel frowned. "Who? Sy? Good God, Frank, you have been away for too long. I fired his ass, not long after you left. He didn't stay long enough for me to even finish my tour," she coldly remarked. After the Oscars, she was more than through with the likes of Sy Spector, brown-nosing, social-climbing extraordinaire that he'd shamelessly been. She noticed Frank's unapologetic look regarding her former publicist. Not that she could blame him; Sy had been nothing less than an asshole to Frank, so she didn't feel the slightest inkling of regret in firing Sy in front of the rest of her entourage—a move in which both Bill and Tony had, unsurprisingly, approved of. "But you don't need to worry about him; he recovered quickly enough. Last I heard, he'd moved onto some gullible nineteen-year-old actress-turned-singer, who's probably never had a singing lesson in her life."
"Another pretty face, then," he commented, and she laughed.
"Exactly!" She drank the last of her orange juice and set down the empty glass, her eyes fallings once again upon the table beside of him. "Most of everyone you knew has either retired or moved onto better things, though. Henry's still there, although he's now married and I sometimes find myself being chauffeured by the twins, when they think he isn't looking." She grinned at the fact, since the twins, a sister and brother pair, who had always been more than a handful for their parents, had very nearly given their father a heart attack when he learned of their taking the Bentley out with her for a drive on just their permits. He never knew that his own employer OK'd their little jaunt into town until after they'd returned, since they turned to their "Auntie Rachel" for help. "I think I'll be hiring the two during their summers off, simply to keep the engines running. As for Tony, he still does security, whenever I need him, since he's become more freelance in his work. I think you've inspired him to take on more than just one job, but he's quite good at what he does. I don't think he'll ever retire, which is something I actually had to force Bill to do, although he still makes it his job to look in on me from time to time. I've tried to get him to manage someone else, but he's been with me from the beginning, so…"
He would be with her until the end. Frank understood that perfectly. Knowing Devaney as he had, he saw that the man had an almost fatherly affection for his client, and undoubtedly Rachel felt the same in turn, their business relationship more so an unofficial father-daughter one that had lasted throughout her career…As it was her career that led up to now, at this moment, with them.
"And I'm retired, too," Frank calmly pointed out, just in case she'd suddenly forgotten.
Rachel conceded the fact, though not without a fight. "Retired or not, you're still you, though," she said, catching his gaze. "And it's actually about that I want to talk to you. Now, I know you're probably gonna shoot me down on this, but I'm not going to lie to you: I meant what I said to your realtor over the phone. I am interested in that piece of land you have up for sale. And before you even ask how I ever found out about it, I'll just say that Fletcher's been looking at property in the area for quite a while now, and yours just happened to show up. I guess it's his fault that I'm here discussing this with you now, but I'm glad that I have the chance."
Frank, however, felt quite the opposite. "Rachel," he began, firmly shaking that cool head as he made to stand, with Rachel quickly following suit. "I don't want—"
"I know you don't want the publicity," she finished for him. "I know that you just want a normal life like everybody else. You're not star material, and I know that. In case you've forgotten, I was once a nobody too, and there've times where I'd almost forgotten what having that kind of freedom was like." She moved closer then, barely standing a foot away from him. "But I meant what I said that day, about how you showed me another way to be. I realized that I didn't have to be what people expected of me; I didn't have to be a first-class bitch. And although I'm far from perfecting that persona, I've tried to change a few things I didn't like about myself. What was it that you said, that I could choose to be the way I wanted with some discipline? Well, I saw that you were right about that, even though I can still give people hell at times."
He smiled at that, oddly amused by her shameless admission. So, she'd remembered their discussion in the consignment shop. In a way, he'd almost believed that she would've forgotten something as small and insignificant as that. "I'm glad that you found a way to be, but that doesn't change the fact of who you are."
"No, it doesn't," she found herself agreeing. "And I know that you're going to say that we're from two entirely different worlds, and it would never work out between us now, just as it didn't back then. I've thought about that for the last eighteen years, and, honestly, it's never set well with me, having to let you go like that because it was best for the both of us. I thought it was bullshit then as I do now. But then, you want to know what it was that I realized when Fletcher talked me out of making another mistake yesterday?" She paused when she saw the open curiosity in his eyes, no longer closely guarded by the silent sentinel he'd once been for the countless people he'd protected over the years.
It almost gave her hope.
"I see that you're not wearing a wedding ring," she continued, her eyes glancing down at his bare ring finger. "Have you ever been married, Frank?" When she saw him shake his head, she made her move, and reached for the small cross on the table. She caught his questioning stare, held it, the cross poised firmly between them. "I told you that I would find you with this, if you ever needed me. And I like to think that you kept it because you believed that, too. Why else would you keep it for so long?" She placed her fingers upon his lips, silencing him before he could form some kind of logical answer that she would quickly discount, savoring the feel of them underneath her fingertips. "I know why, Frank, as it's the same reason why I could never get beyond anything other than some kind of sham engagement. I liked some really nice guys, too, but none of them were you. I think you've ruined for anyone else. Stop smiling, damn it! It's not funny."
Both laughed nevertheless, as Frank, in an uncharacteristic act of boldness, pulled her close, no longer able to deny himself the feel of her against him. He hadn't felt this in eighteen years, and he'd be damned if he went another eighteen more without it. She'd been out of his sight long enough. He kissed her then. Hard. For a man in his fifties, he kissed as he had in his thirties, the years between them seemingly forgotten as he kissed Rachel Marron senseless. And she reveled in it, allowing him free reign of her mouth until she was almost breathless. He pulled away a moment later, although he held her close, her eyes glittering in unhidden wonder.
"It was for you, you know, that hit single I sang after you left. I have always loved you, Frank. I don't believe I ever stopped. And from that kiss, I don't think you did, either. That is, unless you've secretly got a hell of an acting ability that you haven't told me about. But the other thing I needed to tell you is that I'm done. I'm finally done with show business. Yes, you heard me. The press can shout that to the high heavens if they want: Rachel Marron is through with Show Business."
Frank eyed her doubtfully. "How is that possible? You're Rachel Marron. You have everything."
She shrugged then. She had everything—or so she thought—once. "I let my contract go. I just didn't want to renew it for another five albums. And, honestly, I think some of the executives and producers were happy about that. I've not had a hit single since '98, and my material isn't up-to-date with those who now come off an assembly line." There was a note of disgust in her voice when she said it. "I haven't made a movie in ten years, so most of the studios in Hollywood have also let me go, especially since they can always scare up some fresh, new talent so easily. You really can't even begin to imagine how much the music and film industries have changed in the last ten years. It's just bullshit now, with all the CGI and 3-D and sub-par singing talent going on. It just got old, Frank, and I'm tired. I'm just so tired anymore.
"And then I discovered something about retiring. If Kim Novak and athletes could do it, then so can I, right? No one ever said that Hollywood was ever a permanent gig, and fame really is a fleeting thing if you care to think about it. People have already forgotten a lot of what I've done, anyhow." She smiled then, although it was tinged with a faint sense of sad acceptance for the fate of her own lost fame. "But it doesn't matter, since I've done what I wanted to do there. All I want now is to be happy, Frank, and I wasn't in Los Angeles. I sold the mansion about a year ago, and I've just been drifting from one place to the next. I then remembered this place, and though I still can't help but think of what happened then with Nicki, I missed the quiet and solitude here. I missed you. And so, I'm hoping that you might hear me out in purchasing that lot you have up for sale. I promise to be a good neighbor to you, and if I ever cause a disturbance with one of my wild-night parties, then you can personally have me escorted to jail for disturbing your peace."
Frank said nothing in response, although he took in her suggestion, considered it, as if deliberating on a very important verdict in a high-profile courtroom case, before giving his final judgment with a firm shaking of that judicious head. "No, I don't think I can sell it to you for my original asking price; I don't trust you to keep the peace between us. You've always been too clever for me; I don't think I can keep with you, especially now that my sight isn't as sharp as it was."
Her face fell, however slightly, before she caught onto his teasing. "You're going to up the price, aren't you? Fine. Name it at whatever you want, but I'll have you know that that's all you'll ever get from me, since the rest of my fortune is going to Fletcher, so you'll have a very poor neighbor on your hands, with only the clothes on her back when she comes to live close by. You might end up having to support her."
"I haven't a problem with that," he said, the idea of her being there—so near—actually settling in. He would take it out of his thoughts later and consider it. Toy with it. Until he considered what she suggested a reality. Could she really give up her world of fame and fortune for a place like Bend, with a retired bodyguard whose arm still ached at times for the bullet he'd taken for her? He almost believed it a possibility, especially now, when the idea of her simply being a neighbor to him and nothing more didn't strike him as the proposal he would eventually make when he actually thought it through. Until then, he would simply hold her and imagine her, not as the stellar celebrity whose star power reigned over the Nineties, but of a shooting star that was far more beautiful in its fading brilliance of that decade. She would have that piece of property, although he'd now no intention of her ever building a place on it. It would remain a single, joint property, and she wouldn't have to spend a penny.
He would speak of his plan later, where she would play Ms. Grayson, who sung low-key in a Baptist church choir in town if she wanted. People in Bend were usually not ones to stick their noses in another person's business, which suited Frank perfectly, although he had little doubt that if she brought her Grammys and Oscar and gold and platinum records along with her that people would notice then. Replicas. And easy explanation. The very idea seemed ludicrous, yet possible, all the same. For if Rachel had shown up on his doorstep, a day after she was supposed to marry some big-time CEO, and then suddenly disappeared into retirement without a word to anyone, who would suspect her holing up with a former bodyguard with a bad arm and a penchant at losing at his own chess game?
He smiled then. A smile only for her. Before, without making any sense whatsoever in his actions, he took her into his arms and kissed her again, finally, once again in his sight, the tiny cross that she held going limp until it fell from her hand as it clattered onto the table, its slender enameled shape aligning perfectly against the 9mm.
Author's Note: Happy St. Patty's Day, everyone! And I know, I know, my New Year's resolution was not to write anything new until I finished some of my other stories first. (Sighs.) But I just had to write this; this story has been in my head for almost a month now, and it just wouldn't go away. And, truth be told, I haven't thought about The Bodyguard in years. I was only eight when it came to theaters, and I remember my sisters getting the soundtrack—which I am currently listening to, as I type out these notes—and the film later on VHS, and I absolutely loved it. I fell in love with Frank and Rachel's characters and love story, as it was something I always felt that needed to last. I honestly like to think that they did find each other again, even though Lawrence Kasdan said in an interview that, while the end of the film hints at the possibility of their getting back together, the original draft of the screenplay had them never seeing each other again. I, for one, am glad that the film holds a more positive connotation, however.
I also can't believe I finally finished this story. I gave myself five days to write it out, and I never expected it to be this long, but I'm glad it's finished. I also apologize for any grammatical errors, since I've really only looked through this story thoroughly once. And I confess that this setup with Frank seeing Rachel again after so long is highly implausible, and that they would've probably gotten back together much sooner than this, but I really wanted to implement the jump in technology, as well as try to age their characters a bit, since I wanted to have that feel of experience and disenchantment of fame with Rachel. I just couldn't see Frank getting back with her otherwise, since he hated the whole celebrity thing, and that was who Rachel was, so her getting out of it and quitting the business seemed the only possible way for me writing them together. I just hope I nailed their characters right, since this is only a oneshot.
As for writing this story, I cannot even begin to express how stunned I was when I got online and saw Whitney Houston's death announcement on my main page. I was honestly shocked for at least two minutes, since I never imagined such a thing happening to her. And then I thought of The Bodyguard, and remembered how wonderful she was in that film. She really was an amazing, talented woman, and The Bodyguard was probably the first live-action film that made me become emotionally invested in the love aspect of the story. I think that's how I'll always remember Whitney Houston. She and Kevin Costner made a very memorable pair in that film. And her music…Timeless. She was indeed The Voice.
There are also a few factual things I also wanted to mention. Whitney Houston's version of "I Will Always Love You" stayed at the number one spot of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for fourteen weeks. From what I've read online, it's still the longest running single in that position for a soundtrack album. Actually, The Bodyguard is still the bestselling soundtrack album, beating out both Titanic and Dirty Dancing's albums, which is really something for us Bodyguard fans! :D
All historical aspects for the past two decades should be correct; I'll be ashamed of myself if they're not. XD I also had Frank to leave the Secret Service roughly around the beginning of '06, so there would be a bit of a lengthy retirement for him when Rachel comes back into his life. Rachel's last hit single also coincides with Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right but It's Okay," which was recorded the same year. Also, the story's title was somewhat inspired by the crime/drama thriller Out of Sight, which, oddly enough, came out that same year. My mind must be subconsciously lingering in memories from '98 for some reason, unbeknownst to me. O.0;
But anyway, enough of my rambling. I hope everyone enjoyed this overly long oneshot. It's really just something that happened when I typed it, but it's been very fun writing this story out. Any thoughts, comments, or criticisms are gladly appreciated! :D