DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you to my awesome editors, pdt_bear, , q_wordy13, and wonkots42, for their suggestions, corrections, and willingness to edit for me after a random middle of the night email. I follow the canon plot line for the most part but have chosen to deviate where I needed too. I like my version a bit better anyway.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Through Ashlee's Eyes
By atsammy


Ashlee spent an hour or so talking to Rafe, though she wasn't sure what to think about his reaction. The same guy who told his mom she was going to hell, effectively telling her now not to worry about it? It was hard to believe he was being genuine, but it wasn't like she had anyone else to talk to about this. When Rafe finally left for work, she sat there contemplating her Coke for awhile longer before getting up. She needed to think. And she couldn't do that sitting behind Company.

It being fairly early in the afternoon, she didn't see anyone around as she made her way to the park, and she didn't stop until she got to the small bridge. Tucking herself against one of the struts, she sat on the railing and tried to remember if there had ever been any sign, any hint that her mother was gay during her childhood. She couldn't think of anything, not off the top of her head. She would have to spend more time on the subject, apparently. There had to have been something she'd missed, because no one was that good at keeping a secret, not even Doris.

Shifting on the railing, Ashlee looked out across the water on the other side of the bridge. Her eyes wandered blindly over the trees as she drifted in thought, until a movement of color caught her attention. Leaning to the side so far that she nearly fell off, her eyes widened. Not two hundred feet away sat her mother and Blake. Blake Marler, who had her arms wrapped around her mom like a… a… a spider monkey.

Was there something ELSE her mom had been keeping from her?

In many ways, starting over wasn't any different from the way things had been before. The car ride to lunch was quiet, as always, interrupted only by a phone call from Rafe saying that Ashlee should come help carry boxes, being that they were club members and all. When Ashlee passed on the message to Doris, casually, that Rafe wanted her to come help move his mom's girlfriend back into his mom's house, she discovered that she was not surprised at all by Doris' lack of surprise at the news. Emboldened somewhat that her mom knew about Olivia and Natalia, and that she had obligingly turned the car around, Ashlee asked, "So, are you seeing anyone?"

Doris choked on a laugh, and when Ashlee looked over, she was amused by the blush on her face. "Umm… No, I'm not."

Ashlee absorbed this, remembering the scene she'd witnessed a couple days earlier. "Has there been anyone at all?"

Doris flushed an even deeper red. "I've had… dates… but nothing serious since before you were born."

Ashlee blushed herself as she realized that "dates" most likely meant "one night stands." There was the normal embarrassment that came with the unfortunate image of her parent having sex, followed by a wave of pity for her mother. "Twenty years?" was all she managed to reply with.

Doris' hands tightened perceptibly on the wheel, and Ashlee noticed for the first time just how deceptively small and fragile her mom looked. "It's hard to have a relationship when your own child doesn't know," she muttered after a moment.

"Oh. Right." The quiet in the car grew stifling as Doris focused on driving and Ashlee tried to think of something to say that wouldn't scare her mother back into secrecy again. "Who was the last one?" she finally asked, as Doris pulled into the driveway of Natalia's farmhouse.

Doris shut off the ignition and looked out the window for several long minutes. Ashlee was just about to say… something, anything to break the silence when her mom took a deep breath and looked at her. "Let's make a deal, Ashlee."

"Ok…" She did not like where this was going.

"Saturday, why don't you come over? You can ask me anything, anything you've ever wanted to know, and I promise I will answer every question. I just can't do this sitting in a car. I can't."

There was an odd look in her mom's eyes, and she didn't like it. She reached over and touched Doris' arm. "Ok, we can do that."

Doris nodded once, and bit her lip. "Ok." She patted Ashlee's hand lightly, and unbuckled her seat belt.

The softball game had been an experience, to say the least. Ashlee was hard-pressed to recall if she'd ever seen Doris laugh so much, or so freely, so genuinely. It may have been twenty-some years, but it was clear that her mom had excelled at softball at some point, given her pitching ability and her hitting three homeruns in a row. She would have to remember to ask how she'd become team captain, if she'd never been anyone's first choice for anything. She could believe it, knowing her mother and her… people skills, but it was something to add to the list.

When Natalia came out onto the porch and announced that dinner was almost ready, Ashlee followed Rafe and Emma inside to get plates while Josh and Frank tried to set up the tables. Carrying an armload, she stopped just inside the door, intrigued by what she saw.

It was probably completely innocent, but Ashlee couldn't help but watch, and speculate. Doris had just dropped the pile of gloves in the grass by the corner of the house, when Blake walked up behind her, reaching out with one hand to caress Doris' arm. Doris turned, clearly startled, but she relaxed slightly when she saw who it was. The red head grabbed at her hands, and Ashlee decided she must have asked something because there was a pause, and then her mom nodded and looked down. Ashlee thought she could see a smile on her face, but she wasn't sure.

Blake said something else, and not for the first time Ashlee wished that she could read lips, because as soon as the publisher was done speaking, she dropped Doris' hands and wrapped her arms around her shoulders, pulling the mayor into a tight hug. Doris was not as quick to return it, but when she did, her hands clutched at Blake's back.

"Everything ok, Ashlee?" she heard behind her, and she turned to see a line of people, all holding food and drinks and silverware.

"Yeah. Everything is fine, Olivia," she answered, walking out the door. Looking again at her mom and Blake, she was mildly disappointed to see them separated, though Blake still had her hands on Doris' shoulders. She still couldn't hear what was being said, but that really didn't matter. It was enough to see her mom laugh as Blake pulled her to the table, fingers intertwined.

"Where's Jemanda?" Ashlee asked, dropping into a chair next to Doris at the table.

Doris looked up from the cake she was eating, a half smile on her face. "She had to go to work. She could only stay for a little while."

Ashlee contemplated that, remembering something from the other day. "I thought you said you weren't seeing anybody?"

"I'm not," Doris replied, pushing the plate away. "She's just a friend." At Ashlee's amused, disbelieving look, she shrugged. "We went out a few times, but that was it. We're just friends."

"Well, she seemed nice," Ashlee offered, enjoying way too much the sight of her mother squirming in her chair. Doris just looked at her and shook her head, but she was smiling.

They sat there in companionable silence, watching the others having fun on the dance floor. Given the joyful day everyone was having, Ashlee was surprised a few minutes later when Blake came rushing over, a look of panic on her face as she pulled over a chair and sat down practically in Doris' lap.

"Help me!" she squealed, grabbing Doris' arm.

Doris sat up quickly, tensing. "What's wrong? What happened?" Ashlee pulled out her phone, in case she needed it.

Blake leaned forward and whispered fiercely, "Do you remember the other day, when I told you I'd started talking to a guy online a couple weeks ago?"

"Yeah…" Doris said slowly, some of the tension being replaced by confusion.

"It's FRANK!" she hissed, eyes wide.

At first, Doris just stared at her, and then Ashlee watched as her eyes crinkled and she bit her lip, trying very hard not to laugh. Ashlee had no such self control- she burst out laughing and slapped her hand over her mouth. "Frank?" she repeated, the name muffled behind her hand.

"Ashlee." Doris pushed at her arm. "Go get two glasses of wine, will you?"

Grumbling about never getting to hear anything good, Ashlee got up and went to the cash bar. Once again too far away to hear anything, she settled for watching as her mom patted Blake on the hand, listening attentively as Blake explained… well, whatever it was with Frank. Doris even managed almost to keep a straight face, though Ashlee could see a bit of humor still in her eyes.

When Blake dropped her elbows onto the table and buried her face in her hands, Ashlee couldn't not sigh quietly as Doris wrapped her arm around Blake's shoulders. A silly grin crossed her face when Blake peeked between her fingers, then succumbed to the gentle pressure and leaned against Doris' shoulder.

"Miss?" A voice behind her caught her attention. "Your wine?"

Ashlee ignored the two glasses on the counter. "No thanks. I don't need them anymore."

"Do you know if Natalia has decided on a name yet?" Ashlee asked during a relatively quiet moment at Company, as she nursed a milk shake and Blake refilled the coffee maker.

Blake shook her head as she carefully poured in coffee grounds. When Ashlee had arrived, Blake was cleaning up what looked like an entire can of coffee grounds from the floor, and Ashlee didn't think she wanted a repeat of that experience. "I don't think so. I know she likes Madeleine, Emma likes Emily, and Olivia likes Gillian. But who knows?"

"What does Frank like?"

Chore done, Blake pressed the on button and closed the coffee can. "You know… I don't think Natalia really cares what name Frank might like." Her tone approached neutral, though she turned away just as Ashlee noticed the red flush on her face that had become rather familiar every time Frank's name had come up in the last week.

"Really?" Ashlee was kind of surprised by that. She didn't think Natalia was the type of person who would keep the father away from his child. She'd invited him to the sonogram, for crying out loud.

"Yeah." Blake came around the counter and leaned back against it. "Natalia wants to raise the baby with Olivia. She won't keep him out, but he's not going to be the first, second, or third consideration, I don't think."

Ashlee glanced at her, taking in the troubled look on her face, and decided to change the subject. "So how's the online dating going?"

Blake rolled her eyes and glared at her. "It's not. I've given up on that."

"But aren't you lonely? I thought that was the whole point of it?" A cunning plan was starting to form in her head.

"Well, yeah, but finding someone through the internet? You don't know a thing about them, really. You might end up talking to a serial killer, or a twelve year old."

"Or Frank," Ashlee interjected, gleeful.

Blake really glared at her this time, her cheeks an unnaturally dark red. "I'm starting to regret asking you to work for me."

"Part time only, and you know you love me," Ashlee replied cheekily. "But anyway, are you busy tonight?"

Blake looked afraid to reply. "No…" she said.

"You should come over for dinner. Mom's cooking, apparently. You don't want to miss this once in a blue moon event. There will be way too much for just the two of us, I can almost bet on it."


"Great! We eat at 6:30. Bye!" Ashlee grabbed her purse and ran out of the restaurant. She waited until she was a block away, and then pulled out her cell phone and dialed. "Hi, Cyrus? It's Ashlee. I'm free tonight after all, do you still want to catch a movie?"

This was going to be awesome.

The End

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