DISCLAIMER: Guiding Light and its characters are the property of Proctor & Gamble. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Twelfth in the Slow Burn series.

By Wonko


"Goddammit!" Doris cursed, throwing yet another blouse onto an ever increasing pile on her bed.  She glanced at the clock.  6.50pm.  Shit, shit, shit.

Doris Wolfe didn't go on dates.  She had sex - good sex, often, but she didn't go on dates.  She didn't agonise over what to wear for an hour before going on the prowl.  She didn't worry about how much make up was too much or too little.  She didn't think about what underwear to wear - because she always knew where her little outings were headed.

She wasn't sure where tonight was headed.

"Get it together, Wolfe," she muttered to herself, pulling out yet another blouse.  After brief consideration, that one ended up on the bed too.  With a deep sigh, she flopped down onto the bed herself.  Surrounded by a rainbow of discarded clothes, she thought back to how she'd arrived at this rather depressing state.

"So...what happens next?" she murmured, dropping another kiss onto the top of Blake's head.  Blake smiled.

"What happens is that I pick you up on Sunday night at seven.  Wear something nice."

Doris tried to look offended.  "I always wear nice things," she said.  A low chuckle was the response.

"Like that red and black and white jacket you were wearing everywhere for a while?"  Doris raised one eyebrow.

"I like that jacket," she said.  "What's wrong with it?"

"Nothing, you just look like someone from Knots Landing when you wear it."

Doris flushed.  "Oh," she murmured, and Blake chuckled.

"Can we burn it?"

Needless to say, her formerly favourite jacket had definitely not been a contender for her first date with Blake.

She looked at the clock again.  6.55pm.  Throwing caution to the wind, she lunged for her cellphone and pressed the first speed dial.  "Ashlee," she said in a rush as soon as her daughter answered.  "I need your help, sweetie - I have a date in like five minutes and I have no idea what to wear."

A moment of stunned silence greeted her verbal flood.  "Uhm..." Ashlee said at last.  "I like that powder blue blouse?  With the white linen pants..."

Doris quickly pressed the speakerphone button on her cellphone and dived for her closet.  "Let me see if I can find them..." she muttered, digging through layers of clothes.  "Yes!  Ashlee, you are brilliant."  She discarded the skirt she'd been planning to wear and quickly threw on the outfit her daughter had recommended.  "Wait!  What about shoes?"

"The white strappy sandals," Ashlee replied instantly.  Her voice was tinny and far away.  "Mom, who are you go-"

The doorbell drowned out the rest of her question.  Doris jumped and squealed slightly.  "Gotta go!"  She grabbed the phone.  "See you at the wedding!"

Doris slowed to walking pace when she got to the hall, consciously controlling the rate of her breathing.  She could see the outline of Blake's upper body through the frosted glass of the door.  Her heart began to hammer.

"Calm down," she muttered to herself, taking a moment to check her hair and make-up in the mirror.  "It's Blake.  Your friend."  She swallowed.  "Your straight friend.  Who wants to date you."

Her reflection's eyes widened.

"Oh God, I am so screwed."

The doorbell rang again, shattering her reverie.  Before she lost her nerve completely, she stepped towards the door and opened it.

"Hi," Blake said shyly.  Doris looked her up and down, swallowing hard.  She was wearing low cut jeans and a green shirt exactly the colour of her eyes.

"Oh," Doris breathed.  "Blake, you're..."  She finally managed to meet her eyes.  "Beautiful," she said at last.  "You're beautiful."

A slow, happy smile spread across Blake's face.  "You're pretty damn special yourself," she said as she stepped forward into Doris's personal space.  "You look amazing."

Doris licked her lips and swallowed.  "I had help," she admitted.  "You should see the pile of clothes on my bed."  She smiled wryly.  "Ashlee gave me some advice."

Blake stood on her tiptoes and pressed a soft, sweet kiss onto her date's lips.  "Good for you," she said firmly.  Doris frowned.

"What did I do?"

Blake smiled.  "You got your daughter's advice about a date," she said.  "At least...you did tell her it was a date, right?"

Doris nodded.  "Yeah," she said, then her eyes widened.  "Oh shit, I told my daughter I was going on a date!"

A low laugh bubbled up in Blake's throat.  She slid her hand down Doris's arm and tangled their fingers together.  "Come on," she said, dragging Doris out the door.  "And for the record?" she added, throwing a grin over her shoulder.  "I think every outfit I've ever owned is lying on my bed right about now."

It took Doris a few minutes to realise where they were headed.  Truthfully, she'd been a little bit worried about where Blake might choose to take her.  She wasn't sure yet exactly how out she wanted to be - or, indeed, how out it would be prudent to be.  Springfield was a very small town.  A very small, mostly conservative town.

Still...she'd been pleasantly surprised by the show of support Olivia and Natalia had received since they'd got back together.  They'd been building themselves up, getting ready for a backlash that just...never came.  Anyone who hadn't already assumed they'd been together for months didn't seem to care.  And now that her own secret was partially out, she'd begun to be hungry for more.

Being out if the closet was freeing in a way she'd never imagined it could be.  For the first time in her life she had friends.  She had a social life.  She had a clear conscience when she talked to her daughter.  And she had a date.

That was the crux of it.  She had a date.  A date with a devastatingly beautiful woman who said she was falling in love with her.

Doris, of course, was not falling in love with Blake.

She was already there.

She'd been there for some time.

"A picnic?" Doris said softly when they drew up outside the park.  Blake turned off the ignition.

"Yup," she replied with a smile.  "I...well, I wasn't sure if you'd want to go out out.  I mean...I don't know how much you want people to know about..."  She trailed off, then shook her head.  "I wanted you all to myself anyway," she said at last.  Doris smiled.  "Come on," Blake said.  "I've got a few things set up on the sand down by the lake."

Doris followed her silently, keeping Blake's hand clasped gently in hers.  In her mind, she weighed up the two sides of her that were fighting for dominance.  On the one hand, she was immensely relieved that she didn't have to think about the issue of coming out to the town at large for a little while longer.  On the other, she was a little...disappointed.  It would have been nice to have had the issue taken completely out of her hands.

But Blake would never do that to her, she realised.  She wouldn't force her into doing something she wasn't ready for, and she wouldn't try to make her feel guilty if she hesitated for a little while.

Not for too long, of course.  Doris wasn't stupid enough to believe that Blake would put up with a hidden life for long.  She'd need to be out in the open.  She wouldn't accept being a secret.

Doris was surprised by the exhilaration that flooded through her at the thought.  She tightened her hold on Blake's hand.  She loved this woman.  And yes, okay, it was a brand new love, still in its original packaging.  But she didn't want to give it up.  Not for fear - not for anything.

"So, what do you think?"  Blake smiled up at Doris as she swept her arm out, indicating the blanket and picnic basket spread out on the beach.  There were some candles buried in the sand, poking their heads out and waiting to be lit.

"It's lovely," Doris replied, and pulled Blake close to her for a kiss.  "But not as lovely as you."

Blake flushed.  "Well..." she murmured, then coughed.  "Thanks.  I'm...I'm glad you think so."

The atmosphere began to thicken, but before it became uncomfortable Blake turned away and busied herself lighting the candles and setting up the picnic.  Doris sat gracefully down on the blanket and sighed gently when Blake settled in against her side.

"Here, I brought cheetos," Blake said, tossing the snack into Doris's lap.  Doris blinked once, then twice, then burst into laughter.


Blake smiled.  "God I love your laugh," she said breathlessly.  "It's like...winning the goddamn jackpot in Vegas."

Doris immediately stopped laughing and flushed.  "Hmm," she coughed.  Blake covered her hands with her own.

"Olivia said your taste in food was pretty simple," she explained.  "I want to give you the best of everything...but I don't want to be pretentious.  How I feel about you..."  She stroked Doris's fingers gently.  "It's honest.  It's real.  I don't want to get caught up in glamour.  I just...want to be with you.  Whatever we do."  She trailed off and shrugged, suddenly self-conscious.

If Doris hadn't known for sure it was impossible, she'd have thought her heart actually skipped a beat.  "I want to be with you too," she murmured.

A slow smile lit up Blake's face.  "All right then," she said, grabbing a bag of cheetos for herself.

Early evening turned into twilight as they sat together companionably; sometimes talking, sometimes not.  Doris had expected it to be a little bit awkward, but it wasn't.  It was natural, and comfortable, and hardly scary at all.  It felt like a completely inevitable extension of everything they'd been through over the last month - the edgy, adversarial beginning, the gradually developing friendship, the slow burning attraction simmering just beneath the surface.  All of it had led them to this moment together: curled up on a blanket beneath a darkening sky.

"Oh, the stars are coming out," Blake sighed, leaning her head on Doris's shoulder.  Doris wrapped an arm round her waist and dropped a kiss onto the top of her head.  They watched quietly as the light faded and more and more tiny fairy lights began to pierce the inky blackness of the sky.  Blake stared upwards, finding familiar points of light like landmarks on a map.  "I've always loved stargazing," she murmured.  Doris tightened her hold on Blake's waist.

"I wouldn't have pegged you as an astronomer," she said softly.  Blake chuckled.

"Oh, I'm a total amateur," she said.  "I know a few things, but mostly I just like to look."  She tilted her head up and gazed at Doris's profile.  "Don't you like the stars?"

Doris smiled.  "They're very pretty," she said indulgently.  Blake leaned up for a quick kiss.

"They are," she said.  "But it's more than that."  She turned her attention to the sky and, after a moment's hesitation, pointed up at the brightest star in the constellation Orion.  "You see that one?  That's Rigel.  It's about...uhm...eight hundred light years away."

"Okay," Doris murmured, frowning.

Blake continued as if she hadn't spoken.  "That means the light you're seeing shining out of that star right now actually left it eight hundred years ago," she said.  She swept out her hand to encompass the whole of the night sky.  "Every time you look at the stars you're looking into the past."

Doris stared at her, taking in the slightly sad expression on her face, and the faraway look in her eyes.  "And that's attractive to you, I suppose," she said gently.  Blake nodded.

"I feel..." she murmured.  "I feel like I've spent whole years of my life looking back...wishing for things that I can't ever have.  And ignoring all the wonderful things I can have, right in front of me."  She sighed and pressed herself more firmly against Doris's side.  "I don't want to look to the past anymore.  I want the future."  She swallowed and her eyes flickered closed.  When she spoke again it was in a gentle whisper.  "I want a future with you."

Doris blinked hard against sudden tears.  "I-"  Her voice cracked, and she was forced to cough to clear her throat.  "Blake," she tried again.  "Do you want to come to Billy and Vanessa's wedding with me?  I mean...as my date?"

For a long moment Blake didn't answer.  Doris held her breath.

"Yes," Blake breathed at last, and leaned up to kiss the other woman hungrily.  "I would love to go with you.  Thank you."

Doris wrapped her arms round the redhead and pulled her close.  She should have been scared.  She should have been out of her mind with worry.  What would people say?  Would anyone ever vote for her again?  Would Ashlee be okay with it?

But she didn't care about any of that.  For now, she was happy.  For now she was content to sit on the beach, wrapped around the woman she loved, bathed in star light.  Thinking about the future.

And, for the first time in years, she allowed herself to entertain the belief that her future might be...bright.

The End

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