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. And again, credit must also 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: Her first engagement had stunned him. Her second, he'd very nearly put an end to, before she'd done so herself. Her third had…forced him to intervene, because what wouldn't a loving son do for his mother's happiness?
The City Kid
Los Angeles, California
Early June, 2011
A June wedding was something his mother had always wanted.
Or so she'd told him once, after she'd looked through scores upon scores of bridal magazines for her three previous engagements that had, thankfully, never become anything more than that. As it stood, however, none of those plans, with their projected wedding dates and the thousands of invitations—all engraved on fancy ivory vellum—presented to every famous name on the West Coast and beyond, had ever been set to take place in June, where each had been mapped out during other times of the year in which his mother and her fiancés' busy schedules worked comfortably in correlation to the event. Either way, it never seemed to trouble any of the men in question as to what his mother wanted personally, since they seemed more focused on holding the most lavish wedding ceremony that would give an international supercouple cause to envy one as elaborate and unforgettable as a wedding with Rachel Marron.
Nevertheless, she still seemed happy enough to plan them—at least with the first—as her excitement now reminded a now grown up and, hopefully, much wiser and more mature Fletcher of that of a young girl whose happily-ever-after hadn't come with a conveniently packaged prince charming in the height of her youth and success, but had happened years later with a man, more common in his appearance and mannerisms—something unlike what she had ever imagined or allowed herself to believe possible. Not that Fletcher could complain, of course. Far from it. He actually liked this one.
And so, it really came as no surprise when he learned of his mother's impending departure from her sumptuous Venetian-styled condo in West L.A., or of her sudden engagement to a man who could as easily marry her in a courthouse, more than he ever could in a towering gothic cathedral in the heart of L.A.; for if there was one thing that Fletcher knew, it was that a man like Frank Farmer desired the simple things in life, his attachment to a former film star the only glamorous thing outside of that more traditionalist mindset. Fletcher half-smiled at the consideration. Knowing Frank, the man would wear one of his own suits, compared to that of a crisp, finely-tailored Armani suit expected of one in his present position. But then Rachel had, rather unsurprisingly, allowed Frank his choice in attire. A small wedding in a small town. It was what she wanted, and would settle for nothing less. She'd even gone so far as to invite only those closest to her, whereas Frank invited no one, desiring to keep the wedding party restricted to the few who had ever known her beyond the lively, insightful woman, who'd come all the way from the suburbs of Pittsburgh to live in a small, mountainous town like Bend.
For all intents and purposes, however, she used her maiden name for all legal affairs, while everyone in town simply knew her as Ms. Grayson, a spirited woman in her mid-forties, who'd seemingly come out of nowhere, and had taken a sincere, vested interest in the local boys' and girls' church choirs. The name of Marron was never mentioned, even when she sometimes received a few odd stares of semi-recognition from people who swore that they'd seen her from somewhere before, yet could never actually place where. She'd always return in response with a sweet smile and that she just had "One of those faces," and that was usually the end of the matter. No one ever questioned it; just as no one ever connected her with a pop-star icon their parents had old cassette tapes of from their high school days, on some remote shelf in the basement linen closet. It was for the best that no one had made such a connection to her and the face on those tapes, especially since their surprise rested mainly with the fact that Frank Farmer, who had, until then, been a confirmed bachelor, had surprisingly found himself engaged to a woman whom everyone in town knew so little about.
For even in a town like Bend, people talked and word got around reasonably fast among the close-knit community, although this time, Frank was the celebrity, and Rachel the outsider. Fletcher found the reversal of his mother's role with Frank's amusing. For with a high-profile singer and actress like Rachel Marron, a marriage to another celebrity of equal status gained almost the same amount of attention and coverage as that of a royal wedding. But then, his mother had once been a queen in her own right, her one-time Oscar win for her empowering performance in the blockbuster film Queen of the Night had become a viable contender that forever crowned her amongst the most memorable faces of Hollywood royalty. She had been the toast of the town back then, just as her engagement to Julian Raines IV—one of the most celebrated and sought-after men in motion pictures—had been talked about by anybody who was anybody, the couple featured on late-night entertainment shows and primetime talk show interviews, as well having their fair share in all the juicy gossip surrounding their striking relationship, since such made had its long run in the Hollywood tabloid rumor mill.
Rachel never troubled herself in reading what people said or thought of her, however, immune to their harsh criticisms as she'd become to their outrageous claims that now made her laugh, every time she glanced at the cover of the National Enquirer or Star magazine. Fletcher had been eleven at the time when she'd agreed to marry Julian Raines, the announcement of their engagement made known to the public, before she'd even had time to tell him in private, since he'd learned of it from CNN instead. He'd been stunned to hear it, almost thought he'd misheard the news anchor at first. Somehow word, as it inevitably did, got out, as it circulated throughout every available venue that provided the latest dish on celebrities. He'd been in denial at first, especially since he barely knew the man, who was unofficially known to be the next Clark Gable, with that overly confident air of his and lady-killer charm. Fletcher hardly spoke to Raines, only met him on a few occasions, when his mother brought the man over to the mansion, but even then Fletcher had never been overly fond of the action/model actor.
Fletcher considered it a mercy when his mother had ended the engagement after five long months of fiery arguments and cold, long distance conversations. He doubted he would've handled it going on any longer, especially now, with Raines being in and out of so many relationships, and having three divorces currently under his perpetually loose belt. Fletcher shook his head. It seemed that men of Raines' caliber had their own selection of Playboy goddesses to choose from nowadays. Of course, he himself wasn't immune to that kind of allure; he appreciated the attributes that came naturally with the opposite sex, but Raines' personal approach to such had left him thoroughly disgusted. If his mother had indeed gone through with the marriage, he had little doubt that she and Raines would've divorced in less than a year, given the fact that his mother hadn't been absolutely crazy in love with the A-list actor in the first place.
Of course, he couldn't say the same of his mother's second engagement. Marcellus Summers, a professional wrestler, had been a real son of a bitch of the first water. Fletcher had only been sixteen then, and had learned, firsthand, why teenagers—yes, even the children of Hollywood film stars—went through a phase in giving their parents absolute hell. He'd been no exception to that rule, and had given a few in the Marron household as good as they gave and as much as he felt they deserved in return, particularly to the man whom he knew to be secretly sleazing about town behind his mother's back, with almost every available wannabe starlet off the Californian coast. Rachel hadn't known, of course, and if she had, she hadn't let on that she did, let alone suspected it. But Fletcher knew, had even seen it for himself, when he and his friends were out in town and saw Summers in a night club one Saturday night, accompanied by a woman—a pretty brunette—who was certainly not his mother, since it wasn't what the man had done openly, but behind closed doors that had been so bad. It made Fletcher's skin go cold, just thinking about it. He never said anything, however, knowing that Rachel seemed to care about her semi-live-in boyfriend. She'd even told Fletcher that she loved Summers once, although he saw a shred of doubt, intermingled with the deep-set conviction in her eyes, when she'd said it.
And so, when Summers proposed to a less-than-inclined Rachel, who, to Fletcher's memory, had been lukewarm about the whole thing, Fletcher had been more than ready to pummel the bastard into the ground if he so much as made his mother cry. Which Summers did. And Fletcher enacted on his promise, as he blacked both of Summers' eyes before the man even knew what had hit him. Having learned a few things from Tony, Fletcher's best bet against someone like Summers had ultimately been taking the man with the element of surprise. Tony had told him as much, although he failed to relate how someone of Fletcher's size and build could match up against a man who had three Big Gold Belts from WCW championships. Even now, Fletcher suspected that there had been something that Tony hadn't told him, that his mother's former head of security knew about, but decided to let it go, since Tony's advice had given him an edge against Summers.
Summers had landed in a single punch and a single punch only, before Fletcher took him down near the pool. Blood stained the bleached white concrete—not that either cared, since both were well aware that only one of them would walk away from that fight without crutches—as obscenities said by both Summers and Fletcher rang out across the estate. Only Rachel had been able to break up the fight, her beautiful face contorted into undeniable rage as she saw her fiancé's black eyes before taking in Fletcher's busted lip.
It didn't take Tony long to see Marcellus Summers off the property, bruised and broken and bleeding from almost every open pore in his body. Rachel's decision to have her now ex-fiancé escorted out of her home had nevertheless been on the matter final, as she turned a blind eye to the sight of Tony happily adding onto the damage Fletcher had already given Summers, in the midst of the wrestler's protests and vulgarity-laden outburst as Rachel regarded Fletcher with a look of sadness and regret.
It was over.
She would never see the professional wrestler again; and, as far as she was concerned, was finished with the wrestling industry and its lackluster appeal entirely, which suited Fletcher perfectly. At least he wouldn't have to worry about getting into another fight with a man who was nothing more than an oversized show horse, pumped up on steroids, which was almost a shame in a way, he presently reflected, since his mother's last fiancé had actually been worse without a head comprised of only muscle tissue and an overabundance of testosterone. The man actually had a brain.
Of course, his mother's engagement to the third and final of her three nightmarish suitors had happened long after she'd given up any serious thought in marrying after her fallout with Summers. She'd never admitted it then, but Fletcher saw her despair as clear as the voice that brought her songs to life. It had taken him a long time to understand the reason behind it, since he believed himself responsible in part for it, but then came to realize that it wasn't her failed relationship with Marcellus Summers that hurt her so, that it had been something else entirely—something that he should've damn well caught onto, long before then.
He'd been in medical school when he realized it. After finishing his undergrad, he went straight into Stanford's School of Medicine, the money he'd acquired from scholarships pretty much paying almost every penny. For if there was one thing Fletcher felt that he needed to do, solely for the benefit of his mother, as well as for himself, it was to put himself through school, entirely on his own. He never asked his mother for a single dime; having chosen instead to work on campus, so that he could be more integrated into life at the university, and to pay for the few remaining fees that his scholarship left behind. He even stayed in a dorm with a good friend from high school, choosing to be like every other college student, and that, in and of itself, had been a blessing. He even wore glasses, choosing a pair of classy black frames over contact lenses and corrective eye surgery. He used them mainly for reading, and his girlfriend often said that he looked both sexy and dignified in them, so he kept the frames.
Because, for once in his life, he actually felt normal, almost free. He could stroll about town, and never once worrying about having a bodyguard nearby, or being forced to enlist one of Tony's men from security. No one had even taken so much as a photograph of him, save for his friends—who always shot some of his most embarrassing moments—as they rather jokingly forever immortalized them on film. Most even failed to realize who he was, never once connecting his surname with his beautiful, famous mother, who now lived in their elegant home all by herself—well, not completely by herself, since she was always surrounded by those who worked for her, yet she no longer had him or any family that went outside of that exclusive circle of praising everything she did for her art.
When he was free, he'd sometimes come home on weekends, simply to spend time with her, which she appreciated, and it heartened him to know that he could afford her that much at least with his company. He'd tried to become a much better person after what had happened with Summers, having seen Rachel break down in tears for weeks afterward. She'd cried more then, than she had when his Aunt Nicki had been killed. He instinctively shuddered at the memory. Even now, it troubled him to remember that night, when he'd heard that single gunshot in the cabin, before discovering that his aunt had been shot by the man who tried to kill his mother. Losing Nicki had been a terrible blow for not only his mother, but also for him, the only comfort found in his grief coming in the form of his mother and Frank, as he made it a secret incentive to look after his aunt's dog, now that he no longer had an owner.
He'd kept Hannibal, up until the St. Bernard's death from old age. It had been the least he could do to honor his aunt, who'd been a second mother and more to him when his own had been away on tour. He doubted he would ever forget her or her smiling face. After her death, and the bloody aftermath at the Oscars, his mother had begun to stay at home more often; her attention focused more on him than it had ever been before. He'd been happy to spend time with her, having missed her more than he dared admit when she was in the studio or out at parties and award ceremonies. He honestly hated that it had taken Nicki's death and Frank's departure to have her company, but had been glad to have it again nevertheless. With exception of a handful of aunts and uncles and a grandmother back east, Rachel was his only family.
He'd never really known his father, having only vague memories of the man. His mother rarely spoke of him, and when she did, her tone was often filled with bitterness or contempt. She'd never really explained the full extent of her separation from his father, but Fletcher surmised that it had ultimately been for the best, since he could remember, if only faintly, a tall, imposing figure of a man and a deep voice that always frightened him. He never took it upon himself to find his father, either, finding it better to leave some things in the past, although he could never forget such long-withheld instances—not completely.
Fletcher never told his mother, but there were nights, even now, where he found himself unable to sleep, the fear of those days surrounding their retreat to Frank's father's home in the mountains and that night at the Oscars returning in the form of wakefulness and heavy disillusionment. Pulling long hours at the hospital as an intern helped quell some of that self-imposed insomnia, but there were times when he wanted nothing more than to collapse in his dorm room bed and sleep without dreaming. He could hardly imagine what his mother went through, as there were some nights, when he was home from college, he would hear her up at night, pacing the floors and crying. She believed that no one had heard her, thought that all had remained blissfully unaware of the secret pain she harbored deep inside of herself. But Fletcher knew, had known of it since her second engagement ended so horribly.
He was twenty-one then, now a young man with a future full of limitless possibilities, but even that hadn't altered the fact that he still loved his mother, and hated to be the cause for her tears. He thought it was because of Summers leaving, and the love she'd claimed to have had for the wrestler. Perhaps she really did love him; Fletcher could never say for certain, although he blamed himself for their broken engagement personally. It hadn't occurred to him, even then, that the breakup had brought only a painful revelation—one of regret and longing—for her.
He hadn't thought about Frank Farmer in years, although he'd never forgotten the man. How could he, when Frank had saved his life, as well as his mother's? No, he hadn't forgotten Frank Farmer, and when Rachel mentioned him, if only in passing, Fletcher knew that, somehow, his mother's former bodyguard was part of the reason for her tears. He doubted that she even realized it herself. But, at twenty-one, Fletcher had become quite astute in determining the malady caused by more than simply just a medical condition. Taking a course in Psychology had been a requirement for his field as an undergrad, and he knew, even with a good deal of common sense, that the bodyguard had factored into the reason for her sadness after Summers.
And so, as any loving son would do, he did what his mother refused to do herself, and looked in on Frank—from a safe distance online, of course—as he learned of the bodyguard's present whereabouts, keeping tabs on him and the life he apparently lived in parallel with Rachel's, a life lived irrevocably alone, no matter the scores of people and smiling faces that undoubtedly surrounded them. Frank hadn't married, and was apparently living entirely in Bend by early '06, since someone else was now living at Frank's small little suburban home in East L.A. Fletcher had nearly kicked himself for not looking in on Frank sooner, perhaps he could've visited him then, and discovered whether or not his suspicions regarding his mother and Frank held sway.
But that hadn't happened, and he couldn't lament those what-if possibilities, especially since Frank was rarely at home then anyway. From what Fletcher had gathered about Frank's current client, he realized that meeting with the man would've been difficult, if not almost impossible, especially since Frank had returned working for the Presidential detail of the Secret Service. And after 9/11, Fletcher had little doubt that Frank had kept himself very busy—perhaps even more so than his own mother, who had rarely done anything on an international scale after her big tour in '99.
She still worked in the studio and attended the occasional society charity or social function, but never on the same level as she once had. There were still photo shoots and parties held at the mansion, yet no longer in the same, grandiose manner as the attention of many faithful fans had been diverted elsewhere throughout the years. People still remembered her, yes, but it was no longer with same wide-eyed, star-struck admiration as before, her international status as a global superstar waning tragically against the onslaught of fresh new faces and talent.
And that was exactly why he decided to live his life outside of the fickleness of fortune and fame, as he found a meaning, as well as a sense of purpose, in dedicating his life to the welfare and happiness of others. He'd even met some very interesting, forward-thinking people along the way; where, as a rule, he never befriended or dated anyone among Hollywood's exclusive circles of celebrities and their children, just as his exclusive list of girlfriends either came from college, or from one of the hospitals he put time into. He never told any of them about his mother's fame, opting instead to downplay that side of his family life and instead represent a sense of normalcy that he'd so long tried to perfect. And it worked. Most of the time.
Some of the girls he became more involved with and eventually decided to bring home had either gushed at the sight of his mother, or turned to him in a mixture of confusion or disbelief—and sometimes, on the rare occasion, both. Very few had managed to stay with him after that night, shocked and intimidated as they'd been by a woman who held several Grammys and an Oscar, with that award-winning smile of hers that clearly said she would be a force to be reckoned with if her son wound up with a broken heart. He never confronted his mother's overly protective nature; however, he never became overly serious with anyone, either, understanding the difficulty the weight of his mother's fame would be, not only on him, but also for any girl outside of that exclusive clique.
But then, he'd met Alice Kealoha.
And he never worried about the price of fame or unwanted attention by an ever-grueling and relentless set of social strata again.
There was that, and there was also the fact that she'd saved his life. Literally. It was almost embarrassing to admit it, especially since he'd learned how to swim by the grand old age of nine, but the one time he'd decided to swim beyond his own comfort zone had nearly cost him his life. He'd been out with some friends at Newport Beach over the last leg of their summer vacation, enjoying the pleasures of a lazy Saturday afternoon when a group of them decided to play volleyball instead of going swimming. And Fletcher would've joined them, certainly, but a recent sprain to his right ankle had left him on the sidelines. And so, he opted to spend his time swimming instead of sitting and watching his friends dole out their game on the hot, gritty Californian sand. It had been a mistake, and he really should've known better, considering that his ankle began to hurt immeasurably when he'd gone past the other swimmers, but he'd continued on, wholly without thinking of anything, other than to see how far he could go, before having to turn back.
What he didn't expect was a fifteen foot high wave to wash him out to sea. No, the waves had been relatively calm all afternoon, the rogue wave unforeseen as it carried him farther and farther away from the shore. He remembered expressing a few obscenities, as he attempted to swim parallel to the shore, though no avail; the wave and its subsequent followers pulling him out beyond human reach. He'd realized then of how much troubled he was in, the incident with the boat at Frank's father's lake nothing compared to the present danger of his being pulled under the current. Frank was not there to save him a second time, and Fletcher knew that as he called out in a vain attempt for someone—anyone—to hear him.
He'd gotten his answer much sooner than he'd expected, when a pair of strong arms pulled him against the finely-tuned muscled body of another. Fletcher had barely discerned his rescuer, half-drowned and barely conscious he'd been at the time until he felt a pair of hands pressing firmly against his abdomen, the dry, hot sand biting against his cold, wet back as he was forced to cough up the water in his lungs. He nearly wretched, the pain intense in his chest and stomach.
"Can you hear me? Yes? Good," a voice, decidedly feminine and yet searing to the touch, bit out against the surf and a plethora of curious onlookers, along with his friends, who murmured amongst themselves at the sight of Fletcher and his most unlikely rescuer.
For it wasn't every day that a woman, who only stood a little over five-foot-six managed to carry a half-drowned man—who'd unquestionably dwarfed her with a six-foot-three-inch frame—out of the surf. Some had undoubtedly marveled at the sight of her, secretly likening her to an angel, with her long dark hair, burnished dark-red by the sun. Fletcher, however, had only seen an oval-shaped face bronzed by spending too many days in the sun, and besieged by a smattering of freckles across a sharp-turned nose and high-rise cheekbones. She wasn't a conventional beauty, by any means—certainly not one of those overly clichéd, flawless models from Baywatch—but the way she looked at him, unimpressed and calling him an idiot for going out so far, had almost been music to his ears.
He never told his mother about his near-death experience at the beach when he'd returned home that day, nor of the fiery auburn-haired lifeguard who'd saved him. No, he'd withheld his day at the beach from her entirely, as he returned to his classes a few weeks later and tried to think of everything that didn't involve that poisonous siren and her sharp tongue as her harsh words still reverberated in his ears. He'd almost lost his focus on one of his exams that week because of his inability to discipline himself, his wayward thoughts drifting like a current from a distant shore. And perhaps it hadn't been the sharpest idea in the world, but he'd done it anyway, because the next Saturday he was back at the beach, swimming in the surf as he put his latent acting talents to the test as he cried out for help.
And it worked…
…Like a charm.
For no sooner had he called out for help, she'd appeared, that sultry figure of hers hugging that red and white swimsuit she wore, a look of determination etched onto that sun-bronzed face. Her resolute expression melted the instant she saw him, however, and he smiled at her disgruntlement.
"Son of a bitch," she'd muttered, as she cast him a seething look. "You'd think you'd learn your lesson from last time."
Fletcher had only shrugged off the remark, as he followed her out of the surf, and onto the platform from where she stood watch. It had taken him three tries over the next three weeks to ask her out, since she shot him down each time until she finally relented in going out to eat at a nearby restaurant with him, so that he might finally leave her the hell alone. And yet, it was during that one-time date that they'd surprisingly hit it off, and continued to see each other, when their schedules allowed them.
He smiled at thought of the course of their relationship, since he almost compared it to what his mother had once had with Frank. Perhaps it was something about saving a person's life that drew two people so close to each other; Fletcher couldn't explain it himself, although he knew his mother understood it, had seen the connection when she finally learned of how he and Alice had met, just as the latter's no-nonsense attitude regarding anything dealing with celebrities had been a breath of fresh air for everyone in the Marron family household. Alice treated his mother as she would anyone's mother: with the dignity and respect for one of her matronly position deserved, even though she'd had no idea who his mother was and had been at first.
Because, oddly enough, perhaps, it had been a very nonchalant Henry who'd revealed Rachel's gilded celebrity, as a very skeptical Alice surprisingly drawled out with an indifferently bewildered, "Rachel who?" when the stunned chauffer announced her being in the presence of the Rachel Marron. Fletcher remembered Henry's surprise, as well as his mother's expression, since she had been present when Alice had expressed her confusion. He wanted nothing more than to sink to the floor then, knowing that Alice's own musical interests remained devotedly to hard-core metal and classic rock and roll. The world of pop and anything dealing with today's music scene that involved its own Twitter page simply didn't exist for her, having lived mainly on her father's love of the Beatles and Beach Boys, as well as spending her days in the surf and holding onto an old-style Nokia flip phone. She was unlike any girl he'd ever met, her college experience coming from one of the nearby universities that specialized in marine life, since her expertise derived heavily from her love of the sea.
Becoming a marine biologist was a hobby, just as surfing was her life. For just as her surname ascribed, Alice was one who knew the ocean, having been descended from a long line of surfers from a distant Hawaii. She could spin circles around him on a surfboard, and had a number of trophies and ribbons from past competitions to prove it. Her love and dedication to the sport was one of the reasons that he loved her, just has his mother's approval cemented that heavily-ingrained fact.
He actually intended to propose to her—that was, if he could ever gather enough courage to do so. Her parents liked him well enough, but Alice herself was an entirely different matter altogether, although they'd dated for the past five years—not long after he'd found out about Herb Farmer's death, which had both surprised and upset him, as he'd read the news of his obituary on Bend's local news website—as time itself seemed to past in a flurry of conjoined months.
It had been unfortunate that he couldn't travel up to Bend at the time, and offer Frank his condolences personally; he really wanted to, but finals that week had made that journey impossible. But then, when he'd shared the news with his mother, he saw something that he'd only caught a hint of only a few times before, that same, longing sense of a secret regret that she'd kept submerged underneath the pretence of a smiling face and a slew of subsequent boyfriends. She'd seen men after Marcellus Summers, but none that ever came as being serious without another engagement ring—that was, until about three years ago, when she'd crossed paths with a businessman from Dallas.
Shaking his head at the thought, he looked down at the iPhone that he held and wondered what would've happened if he'd been home then, when his mother had gotten up with her third and final fiancé. He would've loved to have called the man an oil-guzzling, down-home Texas, sissy-boy cheerleading, cattle branding patrician scumbag to his face, knowing that was an absurdly long epithet to give a man he barely knew, but was one he felt deserving of. Really, the man was no less than a douche bag of the highest order as Fletcher wondered if the CEO had a proverbial stick up his ass, or if he simply walked that way. Either way, Fletcher had been far from thrilled upon meeting him, yet tolerated the man all the same. For his mother's sake, he strove to at least be civil.
And yet…Hal Jordon had possibly been the best of the Big Three—as Fletcher sometimes had a proclivity in calling his mother's fiancés—since the man seemed to genuinely take an interest in his mother—to an extent, anyhow. Hal Jordon was still a businessman after all, and business was, perhaps, what came first and foremost in the Texan's descending line of importance. He would take his mother on sumptuous vacations near the Riviera and retreats to private islands and ski resorts. But then, upon planning their engagement, the CEO would be in Dallas throughout the entire month of June, so his mother, again, had to schedule her happiness around that of another's. Fletcher hadn't been pleased by the news, but working odd hours at the hospital and remaining cloistered away in his own existence of practicing medicine and hitting the books had kept him away from home much of the time.
Nevertheless, he was still there for her, as he conceded to willingly partake in the wedding. Alice had agreed to come, although she, too, seemed to notice the disjointed feeling that the upcoming ceremony seemed to have on his mother. Alice had even asked him, out of true concern, if the marriage was something his mother truly wanted. He hadn't been able to give her an honest answer, since he wasn't sure of it himself. For he remembered the way Rachel had reacted to Herb's death—as she had been the one to send flowers—and the unhappy years that followed after, when she looked through her collection of photo albums from he was young, made him suspect that she was doing a hell of a lot more than fondly reminiscing; she was trying to learn what became of a broken heart as she stared at her awards for long periods of time in silence, wholly lost in thought, her crestfallen face barely holding back the tears in her eyes.
She hadn't known that he'd seen her, sitting there in the study where she kept her long line of accomplishments; he'd never revealed himself, that long-hidden suspicion confirmed when he saw her hold the card—something that Sy had saved and given to her, shortly after she'd fired him—as it revealed her being the winner for best actress at the Academy Awards, its bloodstained surface fondly caressed by her gentle fingers. Realization had suddenly dawned on him, as to the card's importance and whose blood had stained it. He hadn't known she'd kept it, but its reappearance in her life made him decide then and there that he had to intervene, if from keeping her from making a terrible mistake, since her happiness was all he ever wanted for her, and a life with a man who was a poor substitute for what she really wanted would never bring her any happiness.
And so it was on the day of the wedding, when he saw her standing so beautifully in a lavish gown designed by Vera Wang herself, without a smile on her shining face, as it was then, in that moment, that he'd decided to act. Henry was outside, waiting to drive her to the church. News crews were undoubtedly already there, ready to cover the event. Not that it mattered, of course; Fletcher was used to that kind of attention, although he doubted that his mother, who once relished in such, was in any state to endure it—not that day—and so he said her name, gathering her to the side for a moment's privacy as he asked her, away from her busy staff that saw to everything, down to the last, painfully minuscule wedding detail as Fletcher asked his mother—not Rachel Marron—what she really wanted.
As her answer, surprisingly, hadn't surprised him in the least.
Henry had left at eleven for the church, as was expected of him, although there were two cars, not one, that left the drive that morning. Falling in behind the limo, a plain, almost nondescript Toyota Highlander drove past a long train of apartment buildings and condominiums until parting ways as soon as they reached the next traffic light. The limo took a smooth left southward, while the Toyota turned a hard, yet certain, right northward, as no one else, who'd caught sight of the limo, seemed to notice the difference.
The limo had arrived to the church on time, where, as expected, Henry parked exactly where he was supposed to, a flood of bright lights from news and paparazzi cameras flashing as the door opened and revealed a sedate Fletcher, accompanied by Alice, who'd provocatively waved at the sea of shocked faces in defiance. Fletcher barely kept himself from laughing at their collective stupor, shaking his head as they ascended the steps that led to the ornate Episcopalian church—another choice that hadn't been his mother's, considering her Baptist upbringing—as he, with Alice holding firmly onto his hand in silent support, made his way in, out of the sight of the cameras and news crews that had been barred entrance, and proceeded to make his way to Jordan.
He had no wish to talk to the man, even dreaded doing so; but with his mother's happiness depending on what he said that very day, he knew he couldn't fail her. And he hadn't, as he explained to Jordan, in calm, hushed tones with the reason why the wedding couldn't take place that day—choosing to gloss over the fact as to where his mother went—or any other day, for that matter. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the man had shown a degree of class when Fletcher explained what Jordan had somehow long suspected. There was a touch of understanding in those slate-gray eyes, especially when, out of an uncharacteristic show of submission, Jordan conceded the fact that he, too, had felt that it would indeed perhaps be better if the wedding didn't take place; he would see to everything personally, and deal with any unwanted media attention in a personal statement that would show neither Rachel nor himself in a poor light. Weddings were called off all the time, he'd explained to Fletcher in a placid voice, how could his to Rachel be any different?
The broken engagement had made frontline news on the Internet regardless; although after a day's worth of tongue-in-cheek remarks made by late-night talk show hosts and the brief asides supplied by online bloggers, the matter was soon forgotten as news of another celebrity split had eclipsed what had now become small-time news regarding his mother and a big Texas oil CEO who was part-owner of a football team. Luckily, her name hadn't been fused with Jordan's upon their announcement to end their engagement, since Fletcher doubted he could stomach it. The whole Bennifer breakup had been bad enough. But now he didn't have to worry; for as with many celebrities, who, over time fall off the media's radar, his mother had drifted comfortably into the arms of relative obscurity—or rather into the arms of a former bodyguard whose presence now offered her more than just his protection—as she'd finally found the happiness that had long been denied her.
And Fletcher was satisfied with that.
For unlike the others, he knew that Frank had genuinely cared about what happened to them back then, had seen his mother as more than a hefty paycheck and a quick fuck—which Fletcher had come to learn about later on, since she'd conveniently skimmed over the details in why she couldn't understand what had happened between her and Frank, and why he'd suddenly begun to act so shitty to her. Now Fletcher understood perfectly, just as Frank's reasons in distancing himself from her made more sense than his eight-year-old past self would ever know. And that, in respect, made Fletcher regard Frank more highly than ever, for Frank saw his mother as a person, a woman, who, underneath all of the stars and glamour, was a woman who wanted to love and be loved like any other.
And that, to Fletcher, had made up all the difference, in his decision to take Rachel to the side and tell her of the mistake she was about to make that day. Reconciling with the one man who'd ever truly cared about what she said or thought, let alone wanted had been the only option in her finding any happiness. And he didn't have to be a psychologist to see that, either.
Naturally he handled everything regarding the questions his mother's departure had left behind. Having dealt with a multitude of nosy journalists in the past, he'd been prepared, disclosing only the barest shred of truth about her broken engagement, since Jordan had kept his word on his end; the news of their separation fading from the spotlight as soon as it had entered it, as it was now nothing more than something vaguely registered by the few who thought about his mother's glory days and checked her Wikipedia page on a passing whim, as it now listed her as retired from both music and film, where only her greatest hits and previous successes remained in her place. Any knowledge as to her current life or whereabouts wasn't listed.
Nor will it be, Fletcher thought to himself as he stood in line at LAX's main terminal, ready to board a plane destined for Portland, Oregon. He'd travel to Bend the rest of the way by car, since he had no wish to trouble Frank or his mother about picking him up at the airport. He was an adult now, and could handle in arranging something as simple as renting a car, although Henry's offer to take care of it for him had been a real temptation. As it stood, Fletcher desired some autonomy in his life, and doing something so simple as renting a car proved how wonderfully simple his life had finally become. For no more did he have to worry about looking over his shoulder, every time he felt a pair of eyes staring at him from behind. Nor did he have to worry about some hired gun like Greg Portman coming after him or his family again.
His life had become as normal and as commonplace with his current existence as a medical intern, so damnably close to graduating with his doctor's license, that the few weeks he'd spent in the Pacific Northwest after his finals helped him realize that the life he'd wanted for his mother, as well as for himself, was finally within reach. He'd even confessed as much to her, only once, that day when she'd decided to take her life into her own hands and drive a rental car, all the way up to Oregon. Just as his admission, he now believed, had been that final push in causing her to go—as she should've done, long before then—and finally be with the only man who made her happy.
And, in a way, he'd found a sort of happiness in staying a small town, so far from the bright lights and busy life of L.A.; for while he still remembered what had happened at the lake, and especially to his poor Aunt Nicki, the painful memories of the past had lessened in their harsh impact over time, as there were now nights where he could finally sleep, and he somehow believed that Frank's reassuring presence had helped quell that childhood fear. Even retired, Frank still issued a substantial level of protection to those who secretly sought it, even if that need came in the form of abolishing the nightmares inspired from the very place where they'd finally ceased. Frank had helped him in that regard, proving that the assassin in his dreams and waking thoughts was well and truly dead, as he and his mother were now safe.
Fletcher only smiled. For, with that much desired need, he'd repaid Frank by challenging him to a long-promised chess game in which, to his wounded pride, he'd lost utterly against the quiet man whose calm demeanor exerted a sense of patience that Fletcher secretly envied. And yet, he'd enjoyed the game, accepting of the fact that he'd lost, quite fittingly, to the former bodyguard. Frank had called him the same name that he'd given him so many years before, and Fletcher's smile widened in shameless pride. He was a city kid, and wasn't ashamed of that fact. In fact, he was quite proud of it, actually.
Nevertheless, he and Frank had bonded very well during his time away from Stanford, as both now shared a dislike for boats, as well as anything dealing with the media and the ever-burgeoning social network centered around infamous political figure heads and celebrities. Frank wasn't his father, but the man came as close to Fletcher's ever having one. He taught him how to fish and showed him some basic defensive attacks from his days in the Secret Service—some of which Tony had once tried to show him, yet had never been as thorough in his demonstrations—as Frank, though a little older now, had never lost his edge. He was still ever the bodyguard as he'd been back then, just as his attentions to one of his former clients had deepened in his need to protect her. He'd even complimented her when she'd decided to go his barber—on a whim, certainly, since he'd once noted that there were no celebrity hair stylists in Bend—and got a cut styled into a sharp bob that surprisingly suited her. And she'd done it his presence, too, right after he'd gotten his trademark, no-nonsense-style cut. Her impulse had been the talk of the town for a week, and Frank, as well as Rachel, had laughed along with everyone who heard about it.
That was now his mother's fame, as Frank stood proudly by her side, ever the subtle bodyguard who'd finally asked, on a pair of tired, stiff, well-worn knees, with a diamond engagement ring—decidedly much smaller than the others she'd been offered, yet more beautiful than the multiple carat trinkets she'd worn without feeling—in hand and asked the woman standing in tears before him if she would do him the honor in becoming his wife, just as her tear-filled and unanimous "Yes" had only been implemented by her refusal to take off the half-carat princess-cut ring that was now, Fletcher was sure, still poised upon her ring finger. He shook his head in silent wonder.
It was obvious that Frank Farmer loved Rachel Marron with an undeniable fullness of that tender-taken sentiment that Fletcher had seen no other express, and he was almost inclined to believe, although reluctantly, that such a love perhaps eclipsed that of his own, and he loved Alice deeply. What his mother shared with Frank, however…
It was something he'd never before seen, special in a way that novels and movies could never hope to emulate. For how many in Frank's position would wait for the chance of someone like Rachel Marron walking back into his life? Fletcher doubted that he could count that number on a single hand as Frank's words about retaining his need for discipline echoed in his mind. He hadn't understood what Frank had meant then, but now, after having seen the man deny himself for years, as he refused to act upon his true feelings, Fletcher knew that the sacrifice Frank had made for his mother, as well as for himself, had been more than anything than anyone in his or his mother's association had ever done. Frank had been more than a friend, and it was as such that Fletcher could attend a small wedding ceremony by the lake with a free and open heart.
For the first time in as long as he could remember, he actually looked forward to one of his mother's weddings, since Frank had complied with almost every detail regarding such an occasion, even the one where Rachel wanted to sing after the ceremony—not one of her hit songs, certainly—but one that held a sense of meaning for her, since who was to know about the illustrious life she'd conveniently left behind in Los Angeles? Certainly no one from Bend, since most only knew of her extraordinary talent in helping the local church choir with their scales and singing in harmony with one another. His mother lived very comfortably with Frank, since he'd taken the lakeside property he'd had up for sale off the market, opting instead to keep the property around the lake intact. And his mother hadn't argued against Frank's decision, either, especially since she would jointly own it by default upon their marriage, and nor did she have to worry about purchasing contractors to build her a new home when she'd already had one with Frank.
The house by the lake was now her only residence, since she sold her condo to some couple from back east, during her last trip to L.A. Frank had stayed in Bend, knowing that she personally wanted to tie up a few loose ends she'd left undone before returning to him permanently. She would only ever visit L.A., should the occasion arise, if Fletcher ever needed her, although he instead preferred to spend his Thanksgivings and Christmases with them, as he'd brought Alice along last year. It was easier for everyone that way. And besides which, Alice loved the lake, perhaps even more than he.
Either way, it had turned out for the best for everyone. His mother had left most of her awards and gold and platinum records at his place, as she took only a few things of that life with her to Bend, the bloodstained card denoting her win for Best Actress, as well as the award itself, which Frank had rather jokingly placed beside of his katana blade on the mantle, as well as a group of pictures—featuring her and his Aunt Nicki singing together onstage, as well as a younger version of himself—that joined the long procession of pictures Frank's family had accumulated over the years, as two families, from two very different worlds, had been joined at last.
"Flight 107, from Los Angeles to Portland is now boarding," a woman's crisp, clear voice suddenly rang out over the airport's intercom.
Fletcher started at the sound of it, his hand instinctively clutching at his travel bag and suitcase. Now that the last set of his college finals were over, he found that he could actually grasp something in his hand other than a damned No. 2 pencil. It was almost a relief, save for the fact that he still had yet to know whether he'd passed his exams, which he dreaded, since he'd had one of the hardest professors in his line of study—a veritable hard-ass who personally saw to it to make the lives of his students absolutely miserable, and it didn't matter whether Fletcher was the son of a star or not; his professor would fail him for that on that fact alone. He only prayed that he passed; he dearly wished for that eighty percent. He would take Alice out to celebrate if he passed, knowing that she would smile very sweetly at him, and proceed in calling him an idiot for not believing in his intelligence. She always said those kinds of sweet, sucker-punch endearments that made his life a little more meaningful.
He had decided to go onto Bend on his own, since, being the best man, he now had a duty to perform, not only for his mother, but for Frank as well. It was the least he could do for the man, especially since Frank would finally give his mother that June wedding that she'd always wanted. Bill and Tony would be there, as well Henry and his family, and some of Rachel's old friends and relatives. It would be a relatively small wedding, at any rate, especially since neither Rachel nor Frank wanted anything more than that. Fletcher grinned at their shared adamancy on the subject.
Grasping at his cell phone, he thought of the past year, where his mother had been nothing but happy living with her former bodyguard and writing songs that no one—a music executive, at any rate—would probably see for the hell of it, and Fletcher smiled at the fact of it. Frank would be his stepfather in less than a week. It was still something that he had yet to wrap his head around, but was far from being upset. In fact, he felt quite the opposite, since whoever said that the third try at something—even something as commonplace and as pedestrian as marriage—was truly the charm?
He considered this as he proceeded down the airport terminal, his thoughts only of seeing his mother and her smiling face. He would not have to intervene—not this time—as he would finally stand and watch as she came down a grassy pathway that stood in place of a carpeted aisle, and finally said the words that had long remained unspoken to the one who was finally there to hear them.
"This is the final boarding call for Flight 107, destination Portland," the almost-mechanical, feminine voice called out, and Fletcher hurried as he made his way to board his flight. He handed over his passport to a smiling airport attendant before placing it back into his travel bag and proceeded down the long corridor that led to his far-off destination. Glancing at his iPhone, he sent a quick message to his mother, and then one to Alice, who intended to come later in the week for the wedding. He would text Alice a longer message later as he placed his iPhone in his pocket and glanced down at his watch. He also needed to check his e-mail, but would worry about his exam results later. Passing his final exam came second to seeing his mother. He smiled brightly, contented in the knowledge that she was finally happy, and that Frank intended for him, as well as Alice, to look after the cabin while he and Rachel were on their honeymoon in Alaska.
Shaking his head at the memory of their conversation over the phone, Fletcher found himself packing more than he'd originally planned. Two weeks, with a fifty-acre property containing a pond and a well-stocked cabin at his and his girlfriend's disposal. Frank had certainly surprised him at six o'clock this morning with the suggestion—enough to get him out of bed—as he placed in Fletcher his complete trust, almost like a father. The one he never had, and his smile widened at the thought.
Running now, he knew he didn't have enough time to talk to anyone, let alone Alice or his mother, before his flight. Indeed, he would talk to Alice about their house-sitting as soon as he settled down, as he considered asking Frank for a few pointers, on how to go about his finally asking-a-girl-to-marry-him business properly. Yes, he would definitely ask Frank for his advice on the subject—in private, of course—since the last thing he needed was for his mother to find out about his reluctance in asking Alice; she'd expected him to propose, months ago, although he'd never gathered the courage to then. He would ask Frank later, though—perhaps over another game of chess, since he intended to beat his soon-to-be stepfather this time. He actually grinned at the thought of being the former bodyguard at his own game.
City kid or not, he would take Frank Farmer's white king, one way or another. He would consider his strategy in besting Frank on his way there.
Right now, though, he had a plane to catch.
Author's Note: I want to first say that I probably wouldn't have written this story, if it had been for everyone who read "Out of His Sight." It's just so wonderful to meet so many fellow Bodyguard fans! Thanks, everyone, for your kind support, comments, critiques, reviews, PMs, and messages. It really means a lot to me. This story is dedicated to all of you!
And, really, I honestly hadn't expected this story to be almost as long as "Out of His Sight." It just sort of happened…o.0; Fletcher is a very interesting character to write from this kind of perspective, and it was so fun conveying his thoughts and musings in an airport terminal. Also, Rachel's hair—which was actually longer in "Out of His Sight"—was cut into a sharp bob that's very reminiscent of Whitney Houston's, from her "It's Not Alright but It's Okay" music video. She just looks so amazing in that video, and that's how I imagine her looking, as she spends her retirement from the music industry with Frank. =D
I also hope that everyone liked Alice. I really wanted to have a girl with a bit of bite to her to be Fletcher's love interest. And if I have to give Alice a face, it would be one similar to Marguerite Moreau's. I don't know, but I just kept seeing her face when I was writing the parts with Alice, except that her hair is redder and she has more freckles. Fletcher is also set to look like his acting counterpart, DeVaughn Nixon, who has grown into a fine, strapping young man!
Soundtracks for writing this oneshot consisted of a remix of "Queen of the Night," the Thunderpuss remix of Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right But It's Okay," and Nickleback's "Feelin' Way too Damn Good." I drew much inspiration from those three songs in particular!
Oh, and since I was unable to respond to a few reviews for "Out of His Sight," I wanted to thank you guys personally here in my notes.
Soonergrad: Thanks so much! And I'm with you, in rediscovering my love for The Bodyguard. I'd honestly forgotten how amazing a movie it really is. And I'm very nearly inclined to write a wedding scene for Frank and Rachel. I just might. It's certainly a very tempting thought! And I agree: the ending to "Out of His Sight" was flawed because of it ending so soon. Hopefully, this oneshot makes up for part of that. Thanks again for reading!
Lexi: I am so glad that you enjoyed "Out of His Sight." I also thought it was fine as a standalone piece, too, but I really liked the idea of writing something from Fletcher's perspective. Hopefully, this companion piece didn't detract from "Out of His Sight" too much. Thanks again for your thoughts and comments, I truly appreciate it!
Nippyfan: Hello, and thanks so much! I am so glad that you found Frank and Rachel to be in-character; I was so afraid that I wouldn't be able to keep their characters intact, especially at the end with Frank finally letting Rachel into his life. And, actually, I've thought about Frank and Rachel having kids. I don't think that's too much of a long shot at all, really. I'll think about it, especially since I'd love to write more for this fandom. Thanks so much again for reading, and I hope you enjoy this new story! =D
And, again, a special thanks to everyone for reading my stories. It really means a lot to me. Thanks so much again!
Until next time!