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

Stepping Up To Bat
By Wonko


Doris and Blake's eyes met for the first time since The Kiss (Blake had taken to mentally capitalising it) in Natalia's bedroom over a heavy cardboard box.  "That doesn't look light," Doris said after a brief moment of frozen hesitation.  Blake rolled her eyes.

"It's not," she admitted, dumping it on the floor with a thud.  "God knows what she's got in there."  Wincing, she rubbed the aching muscles of her upper arms.  Doris swallowed hard.

"What happened to those professional movers Olivia hired?"

Blake barked out a laugh as she slumped down on Natalia's bed.  "They offered Olivia a discount if they could just dump the boxes outside for her to deal with herself," she said.  "She didn't get rich by wasting money you know."  Patting the space beside her, Blake looked up at Doris with half-lidded eyes.  "You wanna play a little hooky with me?"

Doris took a single step forward, then stopped.  "Maybe that's not such a good idea," she hedged, biting her lip.  Blake just shook her head and reached forward to grab her friend's hand.

"Just get over here," she ordered, pulling Doris gently.  Doris allowed herself to be tugged forward with a tiny, experimental smile.

"I wanted to thank you," she said after a moment or two of slightly awkward silence.  "For...for making sure I got home last night.  And for stopping me from making a fool of myself at Company."

"That's what friends are for," Blake replied softly.  She edged ever so slightly closer to Doris, feeling the warmth from her bare arm soaking into her skin.  Doris smiled tremulously, but didn't meet her eyes.

"Okay friend," she murmured.  The happy glow that had been radiating from her seemed to slip just a little.  Blake reached for her hand.

"We're not just friends."

Doris shrugged.  "I know," she said.  "We're good, close friends."

"Best friends," Blake added.  Doris's head whirled round.

"Really?"  Her surprise was both endearing and heartbreaking.  Blake smiled.

"Oh, Doris...of course we are."  She squeezed her hand.  "I know we haven't been friends very long but...it feels right, doesn't it?"

Doris looked away.  "Does it?  I don't think I'm the kind of person you'd normally be...friends...with."  Her discomfort was palpable.  Blake ached to ease it, but wasn't sure how much would be too much.  She didn't want the Mayor to push her away like she had after The Kiss, after all.

"You're the kind of person I want to be...friends...with now," she said eventually, then rolled her eyes at her own uncharacteristic reticence.  "Oh for God's sake, why are we pussyfooting around this?  I kissed you."  She leaned forward.  "And you kissed me back."

Doris flinched.  "I know."  She looked down at the floor.  "Please, don't feel you have to say anything."  She paused for a moment, her eyes fluttering closed.  "I don't want to lose you, Blake," she admitted.  "I've never had a friend like you."  She took a deep breath.  "So can we just...pretend it never happened?"  She looked up, expecting to see relief flitting across her friend's face.  Instead there was nothing but affection and a gentle amusement.

"I don't think so," Blake murmured.  "You know why?"  Doris shook her head dumbly and Blake smiled.  "Because I'm not sorry I kissed you," she said steadily.  "I really liked kissing you.  I want to kiss you again."

"Oh..."  The air left Doris's lungs in a rush.  "You...you do?"

Blake nodded and edged a tiny bit closer.  "And you know, I know what you said about risks," she said.  "But...I think the last risk you took actually turned out pretty good, right?"  She reached up and trailed her fingers through Doris's hair, pushing a stray strand behind her ear.  "I think this is worth taking a chance on."

Doris didn't speak.  For a long minute she didn't even move.  "Blake," she began at last, but then Olivia's voice shattered the moment.

"Hey, slackers!" she yelled from the foot of the stairs.  Her clear, happy tones drifted into the bedroom and seemed to physically push the two women apart.  "Come on down.  Frank took the last box so you don't have to hide anymore."

Doris leapt quickly to her feet.  "We'd better go," she said, with forced cheer.  Blake sighed.

"Okay," she agreed, trailing after Doris as she escaped into the hallway.  "But we're gonna talk about this later, okay?"

But that talk was destined to be delayed.  Natalia wanted to cook dinner - and Blake never said no to a free meal - but before that all the helpers, along with various passers-by, got roped into a softball match.  The group was divided into two teams, and Blake and Doris found themselves at opposite ends of the friendly rivalry.

"Come on Doris!  Give it a good whack!"

Blake grinned as Doris glanced towards her, making her completely miss the ball.  "Strike one!"

Doris glared at her.  "Ms Marler, please try to remember that you and I are not batting for the same team."

Blake's grin widened.  "I actually don't care which team I bat for, Mayor Wolfe," she replied, and laughed when Doris missed her shot again.

"Strike two!"

Doris set her jaw.  "I'm ignoring you," she ground out.  Blake wisely stayed quiet for the next pitch, and Doris managed to get the bat to it this time.  It wasn't a great strike though, and she only managed to get as far as first base.  Which was, co-incidentally, where Blake was stationed.

"Well, well, who'd have thought I'd get to first base with the beautiful and mysterious Mayor Doris Wolfe," Blake whispered, for Doris's ears only.  "I mean...again."

Doris flushed.  "Stop it," she scolded.  And then...shyly, and even more quietly, she added:  "Beautiful?"

Blake smiled.  "So, so beautiful," she said softly.  Doris turned to her, opening her mouth to speak.

"Oh, nice one Ashlee!" Rafe called out.  Doris turned just in time to see her daughter throwing the bat aside and barrelling towards her.  Shooting Blake an apologetic glance, she turned on her heel and ran for second base.

The game progressed through the hottest hours of mid afternoon, with all the participants getting sweatier and sweatier, and happier and happier.  Especially Doris, who was being bombarded with compliments every time she spent longer than ten seconds at first base.  Beautiful had evolved into sexy, and to that had been added intelligent, funny, caring and loyal.  By the time dinner time rolled around she was practically giddy, and accepted Blake's offer of her arm as they wandered into the house to eat the roast chicken and salad Natalia had painstakingly prepared.

"Come for a walk with me after we eat," Blake whispered into her ear as they sat down.  Doris could only nod dumbly, and dinner progressed in a daze, with nothing penetrating the fog of nervous but happy anticipation but Blake's twinkling green eyes and thousand watt smile.

"So," Blake said, when they were finally alone and walking aimlessly towards the pond.  "How does it feel now you've told Ashlee?"  She grabbed her friend's hand as they walked, twining their fingers gently together.  Doris took a deep breath.

"It's like..." she began, then trailed off, searching for the words.  "It's like all my life I've had this big rubber band wrapped round my chest," she whispered at last.  "And I didn't even notice it was there until it was suddenly just...gone."  She closed her eyes, thinking back to the moment she'd felt it disappear - when Ashlee had come to her office that morning and she'd known, at last, that everything would be all right.

"I'm so happy for you," Blake said, squeezing her hand.  They reached the edge of the pond and stopped.  Doris stared out at a family of ducks gliding across the smooth surface of the water.  "And I'm so, so proud of you."

Doris blushed.  "I should have done it years ago," she muttered.  Blake waved that off with a sweep of her free hand.

"You did it now," she said.  "That's what's important.  Don't beat yourself up over things that are in the past."

A gentle breeze rose up, hissing through the trees and creating tiny ripples in the pond.  Doris took a deep, slow breath.  "What did you mean when you said you don't mind what team you bat for?" she asked.  Her tone was deceptively casual, but Blake could feel her tense up beside her.  She smiled as she turned to face her and slipped her arms around her waist.

"Just that I am...letting myself become whoever I'm going to be next."  She smiled up at the woman who'd come to mean so much to her in such a short time, and couldn't help but melt at the shy, hopeful look on her face.

"And who do you think that is?" she asked gently.  Her hands came up hesitantly, curving round Blake's elbows and pulling her ever so slightly closer.  Blake's answer was simple.

"Yours," she said.  Doris's breath caught in her throat.  Blake leaned forward, and her next words were whispered up against her friend's lips.  "I want to be yours."

This kiss was gentler than their first.  A little hesitant, a little reserved, but sweet and slow and heartbreakingly gentle.  Blake melted into Doris's arms as it went on and on.  Their bodies moulded together, curves matching with curves as perfectly as if they'd been made for each other.  And the kiss continued to deepen, to explore, and to affirm.

"Oh, Blake," Doris breathed, and Blake took the opportunity to strengthen the connection with her lips and her tongue and her hands which were tangled up in Doris's hair and curled round the back of her head, holding her in position while she took possession of her mouth.

When the kiss broke both women were breathless and grinning.  Their foreheads bumped together and then their lips sought each other out seemingly of their own accord to start the dance again.

"What's happening to us?" Doris murmured blearily long minutes later.  Her hooded gaze was slightly glazed over, her lips swollen with kisses.  Blake laughed, her eyes shining with happiness and excitement.

"Oh sweetie, don't you know?"  Glee bubbled up from the pit of her stomach, flowing into her chest and making her heart sing.  "We're falling in love."

Doris froze.  And then, slowly and gently, like the first thaw of Spring after a long, bitter winter, she began to smile.  Tears sprang to her eyes.  "We are?" she whispered in wonder.  Blake nodded.

"We are."

She barely had a moment to brace herself before her arms were full of Doris.  With a happy sigh, she snuggled against her friend's chest, listening to the thunder of her heartbeat beneath her ear.  For long, silent moments they simply stood together, content to say nothing and do nothing but revel in the sheer joy of having found something so rare, so precious, so wonderful.

"We'll take it slow," Doris murmured at last, pressing a soft kiss to the crown of Blake's head.  Blake nodded.

"All right," she replied.  Her own lips found the soft skin of Doris's neck unerringly.  She felt the flutter of the Mayor's pulse jump under her kiss and grinned.  Just not too slow, she thought to herself.

After all, they weren't Olivia and Natalia.  And a glacial pace would not be their style at all.

The End

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