AN - New OC for a new fandom. But this one's a little different. I'm not going to mess with the main storyline of the show, moreso filling in some gaps when it comes to Holder. I thought it would be interesting to explore his background a little more and who else may have been there. So, Ash appeared.
Unlike my other fics, this one doesn't follow much of a timeline. What I'm trying to do is set up questions and little mysteries that'll be answered in flashback chapters in the future. Kinda like the show does, you never really get an answer and when you do you question it.
"It's such a shame, shame, shame,
That our homecoming queen
Was a lot like you and a lot like me
And she never walked on water
Guess no one really saw her."
"Homecoming Queen" by Hinder
Chapter 1: Altered
Ashley Campbell stifled a yawn as she finished stacking the dishwasher. Just behind her, eighteen-month-old Emma giggled in her high chair and thrust her hands in the air to be picked up. Drying her hands on a tea towel, Ash lifted her sweet baby girl up in her arms pecking noisy kisses to her cheek before she settled her on her hip.
"Mummy, look," Jayde came into the kitchen and held up a new drawing of what appeared to be her family. "It's for Miss Heather,"
"That's great, babe," Ash said tucking a flyaway copper-coloured curl behind Jayde's ear. It was still strange for Ash to hear Jayde call her that; after spending so long deliberating what to teach her as she learned to speak. It was still hard to hear; but Jayde wasn't even five. Ashley wasn't going to confuse her with semantics just yet. "Make sure you put it in your bag, okay? And go get in your PJ's."
Clicking the dishwasher on, Ash started humming a lullaby to Emma when a sharp knock at her front door caught her by surprise. Setting Jayde in her playpen in the living room, Ashley went to answer it checking the time on the wall clock as she passed it in the hall. It was almost eight at night. No one came to her door after sunset - except sometimes her elderly neighbour on the lookout for his dog that always snuck out.
Assuming to see Mr. Hatcher on her doorstep with that dopey grin, Ashley felt her whole body tense up when instead she saw the familiar, thin man with greasy hair standing there in a black hoodie with his hands jammed into the pockets of his jeans.
"Holder," Ash quickly closed the door enough so Jayde wouldn't see him if she walked by. "What are you doing here?"
"I didn't wake the girls, did I?"
"No, why are you here?" Considering the last time she'd seen him, he was not a person she wanted in her house around her girls.
"I got transferred to Homicide," Holder said with a nervous smile. "I'm working that Rosie Larsen case. Got a new partner and ev'ry thang."
Ash was surprised. "They let you keep your badge?"
Holder's smile vanished, but the nerves remained. "I'm clean now, Ash," he said. "For reals. I wouldn't come back here if I wasn't."
"Holder!" Jayde suddenly squealed bolting out onto the porch, making Ash curse to herself for not just slamming the door in his face the second she'd seen him. Jayde seeing Holder again was just going to make everything messier.
"Yo!" Holder knelt to one knee and hugged Jayde. "Damn, girl, when did you get so tall?"
"You don't come around no more," Jayde said playing with the threads of his hoodie. "Mummy said you got sick."
"Yeah," Holder said, bowing his head a little. "Yeah, I was. But I'm better now."
"You missed my birthday," Jayde pouted. "You were s'posed to take me to the zoo."
"I know I did, but I've got somethin' for you," he pulled a red plastic coin out of his pocket and gave it to her. "You have that."
Jayde traced her finger over the writing on the coin. "Whatsit' say?"
"Thirty days," Holder read for her. "It's the first one of them I got, and when I saw it was your favourite colour, too, I knew it was lucky. You hang onto it for me, okay?"
Jayde nodded and clasped the chip in her whole fist. "So you'll come to the park again?" she asked hopefully.
"That's up to your Mums," Holder said, looking up at Ash.
"Jayde, go inside with your sister, okay?" Ash said taking her by the hand.
"Can Holder stay?" Jayde asked pulling on Ash's arm.
"No, he's got to go," Ash ushered Jayde back inside. "Find a book for us to read, okay?" Beaming, Jayde waved goodbye to Holder and skipped towards her room.
"Sorry," Holder said when they were alone again. "I thought they'd be asleep."
"Well, Jayde won't sleep now she's seen you," Ash gave him a tense, tight-lipped smile. "What was that, an NA chip?"
"Yeah, I got six months behind me now."
"Good." Ash said curtly. Then, she softened her voice. "Really, that's great," she said honestly. "But I'd like you to leave now."
Holder made a tssk noise under his breath. "C'mon, Ash-"
Memories, anger and frustration shot through Ashley's body in an instant."No, the one thing I asked you to do was to leave us alone and you couldn't even do that. Christ, Holder-"
"I miss you." He said bluntly with a limp shrug of his shoulders. "And I miss those girls. Em's nearly two now, right? Man," he ran his tongue over the inside of his bottom lip. "Do you think maybe we could-"
"We are not your problem anymore," Ash cut in, blinking hot, angry tears from her eyes.
"Still so harsh, woman," Holder smirked. "Y'know they tell us in NA to expect anger from the people we hurt; but that it's a good thing," he paused, searching her eyes for something. "Means there's still love kickin' around."
Ash could feel her pulse racing. It worried her that she could get so mad so fast, and he hadn't even really done anything. "This is not your family," she said firmly.
"Family ain't just about blood," Holder said, a streak of annoyance flashing across his sharp eyes. "Ain't that what you told me?"
"Jayde just stopped asking why you weren't coming 'round anymore," Ash tried to keep her voice low, she didn't want the girls to hear her yell, but really she just wanted to scream. "Now that's gonna start all over again."
"I can start coming 'round again."
He may as well have slapped her. "No," Ash refused. "Absolutely not."
"I'm good now, Ash." Holder maintained. "Workin' my steps. I gotta make amends to people I hurt."
Closing her eyes, Ash took a deep breath to try and calm herself. It didn't alleviate the heated tears that clouded her vision. "I am glad you're clean," she said, but her throat was tight and made her voice sound strangled. "But you can't be here."
But still, he persisted. "C'mon, Ash, we can figure out-"
"No," Ash said tearfully as she stepped back inside her home. "Please don't ever come here again," she cleared her throat, forcing her voice to be strong. "Consider that how you make amends to us." Then she locked the door and clicked off the porch light.
With her back up against the door, Ash waited until she heard Holder's footsteps fade before she looked out the window to make sure he was driving away. Emma started stamping her feet in her playpen and fussing, and from her bedroom Jayde called out that she'd found a book she wanted to read. Taking a steadying breath, Ash, tucked her hair behind her ears and went to tend to her girls.