DISCLAIMER: CSI New York and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement is intended. Eden Ashley is an original character. All mine.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To debrafitzakerley[at]yahoo.co.uk

Eden Ashley Chronicles
By EdenAshley


Part 21

Stella gently knocks on Mac's office door, and steps through. He looks up from his hands which is where his head has been placed for some time now. He's happy to see Stella, he's a little worried Eden still hasn't approached him yet, although he assumes Stella might have an update in that respect.

Stella makes herself comfortable in the chair opposite Mac. She has a feeling she could be here for a while. Something she's quite excited about, her world has been moving so fast over the last 18 months it's been a while since she was able to just stop, and catch up with her favourite guy. Of course she knows what the main topic of conversation is going to be, but that's fine by her, Eden is one of her favourite subjects.

Mac is looking at Stella, who still hasn't spoken; she just has a hint of a really content smile on her face. She must catch herself in the moment as she suddenly realises that Mac is looking at her, now mirroring the smile that she is currently wearing. She decides she better speak.

"Hey. How you holding up?"

What a question, Mac really doesn't know how he's holding up, truth be told he's more worried about Eden, he needs to know how she feels before he can react to the situation. He decides honesty is the best policy with Stella.

"Truthfully. I don't know. How's Eden?" Mac is desperate to know.

"She's coming to terms with it."

Mac sighs and Stella can tell he is dying to see her. To speak to her. Truth be told he feels on edge, not sure what type of relationship Eden might want with him. I mean they are already pretty close. How much would she want that to change? He of course wants to learn everything about her; he has a thousand questions running through his mind. What was her first word? When did she first walk? What was the name of her first girlfriend? All the things a father should know the answers to.

Stella can tell Mac's mind is whirring, and she can recognize how frustrating this situation must be.

"Just give her time Mac. She'll come to you when she's ready; she's told me as much."

Mac looks up and smiles, the knowledge that Eden has at least spoken to Stella about it seems to calm him down a little. It's probably time he stopped thinking so much, it's starting to make his head hurt.

"So, how are you doing?"

Stella is taken slightly by surprise. "I'm good. I mean I feel like my head is going to explode worrying about my two favourite people. But honestly, I couldn't be happier. I mean we're actual official real family now Mac. Or should I call you dad?"

Stella smiles mischievously, which turns into a full blown grin when she sees the look of shock on Mac's face.

"Oh god, that makes me feel really old." He smiles.

"Hardly, you're barely old enough to be Eden's father, let alone mine." They continue to grin like idiots at each other. Mac has really calmed down a lot now. He loves Stella so much, within minutes of her coming to see him; he's feeling a million percent more positive about the future. He can't help but voice his feelings.

"This could be so amazing couldn't it?"

He looks into Stella's eyes, his own full of hope, Stella mirrors his stare, reaches over and grabs his hand.

"There's no could about it. This will be amazing."

Mac's heart fills with joy literally to bursting point. Stella can tell he's feeling pretty emotional again; she squeezes his hand and winks at him, before releasing it and collapsing back into her chair.

And that was it; they fell into comfortable conversation, and had the most amazing catch up. Both feeling extremely upbeat about the future.

Ashley is furious, but luckily in the back of her mind somewhere she has a little voice shouting at her, telling her to remember all of the things her grandmother has ever done for her in her life, and for the moment this seems to be keeping the lid on her anger. Well she hasn't exploded yet anyway. Yet.

Ashley has guided her Grandmother into the privacy of Stella's office, as she's still in with Mac. She just stands behind the desk arms folded. Audrey is sitting rather sheepishly in the guest chair opposite her granddaughter. She can tell Eden is furious. Obviously too angry to speak, Audrey it seems will have to break the ice. She decides to get straight to the point.

"Can you ever forgive me?"

This takes Ashley by surprise, and immediately softens her. She sighs, unfolds her arms and sits in Stella's chair. She looks her grandmother dead in the eyes, and hopes this conveys her disappointment. But ultimately deep down she knows she can't stay mad at her.

"Of course I'll forgive you." Audrey's face lights up in a smile, Ashley sees this, and needs to let her know that she's not quite there yet. "Eventually."

Audrey's face drops slightly; she knew it was never going to be that easy to regain her granddaughters trust. Ashley needs answers.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Audrey can see the tears in Eden's eyes, and it breaks her heart. She knows it's the betrayal of trust that has hurt her the most.

Audrey exhales, she has come here to fully explain herself and that's what she's going to do.

"To be completely honest, it just seemed easier not to."

Ashley shakes her head in disbelief. "I need you to tell me everything. Mum told me it was your choice to move to England."

Audrey had suspected as much, that Amelia was behind this mess. She decides to leave that point for now and focus on giving Eden the answers she needs.

"Well we didn't really know what to do for the best, but the bigger support network was there."

"What about Mac, you didn't think he deserved to know he had a child?" Ashley can't help the venom in her voice.

Audrey just powers on through. "From what your mother told me, he was all set for joining the army, he wouldn't have been around anyway."

"What and you don't think he would have changed his plans if he'd have known?"

"Well knowing Mac as I do now, he probably would have, he'd have lost everything, his whole career."

This is certainly a sobering thought for Ashley, and she gets Audrey's point immediately, Mac would have lost a lot. She could never have expected him to do that, and if she's completely honest, she would have hated it if that's what had happened.

"So you thought it was okay for me to do without a father?"

"You know we couldn't believe our luck when your mother met Kenny, he seemed so perfect. He loved your mother, and despite what you might think he did genuinely love you too."

Ashley can't dispute this, he was a good dad in the early days, but that seemed to go downhill rapidly, to the point from about 8 years old onwards she barely saw him, in fact she could probably count the amount of times she's seen him since her eighth birthday on one hand. Audrey continues.

"By the time we realised our error, Mac was god knows where with the army. Me and your Grandpa tried our best to make it up to you."

"You more than made up for it." Eden's quick response makes Audrey feel immensely proud, she looks up at her granddaughter, for the first time in a while. Ashley immediately see's the tears forming in her grandmothers eyes, and she feels dreadful. But she needs more answers.

"When I came to New York, you knew Mac Taylor was going to be my boss. I know you, I know as soon as you heard the name, you would have checked to see if it was 'the' Mac Taylor. Why on earth didn't you tell me then?"

Audrey exhales, she doesn't really have an answer to this, she should really have told her. "I was scared something like this would happen." Audrey says this candidly with a wry smile. She continues.

"I couldn't believe it when I came to the wedding and he didn't recognise me, or my name. I thought I'd hit the jackpot. I just thought why bring it out after all these years. What would it achieve?" She exhales loudly. "I was being selfish, I'm sorry."

Ashley has been listening intently, she can hear Stella's voice telling to let go of the anger, and something seems to switch in her head, she has had so much drama in the last 18 months, it's been exhausting. She decides to let go.

"Apology accepted." She smiles at Audrey. Heart-warmingly.

"Just like that?" Audrey smiles, a little disbelieving.

"I don't wanna fight anymore. I don't wanna be mad anymore." Ashley just raises her eyebrows, honestly, and sits back in her chair.

Audrey is massively relieved. Now she has another line of enquiry running through her mind. She can't help but voice her quizzical thoughts.

"What I can't understand is why she's told you all of this now. More of her mind games I suspect."

Ashley obviously knows she is referring to Amelia, she immediately feels sick at this statement. She doesn't know. Then again how could she. The look of panic on her face must be apparent; Audrey picks up on it immediately.

"What's wrong?"

Ashley's mouth is dry; her brain is scrambling for the words to say, how on earth is she supposed to tell her grandmother that her daughter is dead. She swallows, which proves difficult, with a mouth like the Sahara. Audrey is still waiting patiently for an answer, although the anguish on Eden's face is starting to make her panic slightly.

"She's dead." Eden just blurts it out. "That's why she told me, she knew she was dying, and she wanted to make things right."

She studies her grandmother's face, utter shock. Audrey doesn't know what to think, a part of her hates Amelia for how she treated Eden, but of part of her knows that no matter what she was her daughter, her beautiful daughter, her only daughter. This thought hits her, she's gone. The tears come and they are uncontrollable.

Ashley can't bear to see her like this. She knows her grandmother is a compassionate woman, and an emotional woman, but never before has she ever seen her break down like this. It a shock her, so much so that her own tears start again, she is immediately round the desk and takes Audrey into her arms.

"I'm so sorry."

Audrey composes herself. "So she finally did something right hey?" She tries to put on a brave face through her tears, Ashley isn't buying it.

"I made my peace with her. You should do the same." Audrey nods her head. She needs to see her daughter.

Ashley sent her grandmother to the morgue, she doesn't know why but the little chat she had with her mother helped her a great deal, and she certainly hopes it has the same effect on Audrey. Now Ashley is moving onto the next emotional encounter on her list, hopefully this will be the last one. Mac.

Stella is still in his office with him, and Ashley decides she'd kinda like Stella with her for moral support. Even now she has no idea what she's going to say to him, but she hopes inspiration will hit her once she gets to his office.

And here she is. She takes a deep breath; the butterflies in her stomach are going wild. She doesn't knock she just opens the door had heads right in.

Stella and Mac had been laughing and chatting, the door to the office swinging open, makes them both turn and look, Stella can't help but smile at her wife, proud that she's biting the bullet. Ashley returns her smile, then looks over at Mac, he looks as nervous as she feels.

"Hey" She decides to go in simple to break the ice. Her eyes never leave Mac, but she searches out Stella with her hand, grabbing Stella's hand as soon as she comes into contact with it. She perches herself on the edge of Stella's chair.

Mac tries to say 'hey' back, but the words barely form, and he ends up just sort of mouthing it.

Ashley really is struggling to find the words she wants to say, Stella can see this instantly and squeezes her hand as a show of support and comfort. Ashley knows she needs to come up with something soon, before the room becomes engulfed in tension.

"Look this has been a weird couple of days, and I'm not gunna pretend I've got my head round it fully yet."

She chances a look up at Mac; he nods for her to continue. The lump in his throat is the biggest it's been, he's terrified about what she might say next.

"I am gunna need time Mac, as I'm sure you will."

He still can't formulate any words, so Ashley continues.

"But the truth is, if ever I had the chance to handpick my own dad. I'd pick you."

That sends Mac over the edge, tears start spilling again, but he's got the biggest smile on his face. Ashley returns his smile, and, moves round the desk, tentatively she embraces him, and he gladly accepts. She pulls back, and smiles.

"I know we're pretty close already, but I would like us to work on a father, daughter relationship. If that's okay with you?"

Mac is so relieved at Eden's words. "Nothing would make me happier." These are the only words he can manage due to the emotion.

He just pulls her back into a hug, and saviours it. Stella has watched the exchange from the other side of the desk. She can't help herself, she strides over and joins into the hug, and both Eden and Mac move to welcome her in. They stay like this for a while, embracing, crying, but mostly smiling, grinning like idiots really. This new rather unconventional family.

Today has been the most draining day of Ashley's life, she's finally home, and is really looking forward to sleeping, if the thoughts stop circling around her brain for long enough. She's currently standing out on the balcony, something she's found herself doing a lot of over the last 18 months. Just looking out over the beautiful scenery in front of her. It sooths her. Always makes her feel better.

Stella strolls onto the balcony, and slips her arms around Eden from behind. She kisses her neck, and settles her chin on her wife's shoulder, taking in the amazing view for a second, before moving round and standing side by side with her. Eden looks tired.

"Why don't you go to bed Shorty?"

Ashley wiggles her eyebrows. "Well there's an offer I can't refuse."

Stella laughs out loud; Ashley can't help but smile at her beautiful wife. "I meant to sleep."

Ashley pulls her wife in for another hug, and states softly, "I know what you meant." She pulls back again.

"I'll go soon. Gotta wait for Grandma to get back anyway." Audrey had seen Amelia at the morgue, and called Ashley to say she was going for a walk, something she often did when she needed to clear her head. But it's getting kinda late, and its already dark out, Ashley knows she won't be able to settle until she's back.

Stella has other things on her mind, and decides she needs to discuss, as it's something that's been bothering her for a while now.

"You up for a chat?"

Ashley can tell from the expression on Stella's face that it must be serious, she just nods. Stella continues.

"We're married now."

Ashley is confused. "I know that."

"Every time you have an emotional issue, you run." Stella is nervous bringing this up, the last thing she wants to do is upset Eden anymore today. She has been sheepishly looking at her feet to this point, she looks up. The look on Eden's face is one of understanding, surprisingly. Stella continues.

"I'm your wife; you should be able to come to me first."

Ashley knows it's taken a lot for Stella to bring this up, especially now of all times, so it must be something that's really bothered her. She decides to be completely honest.

"I've not really had a lot of people in my life that I can count on. I guess I'm just not that used to having someone I can run too. But I'll work on it, I promise."

Stella smiles, and puts her arms round Eden. "Thank you."

"If it makes you feel any better, you and you alone are the only reason I knew I could get through this."

Stella has no words; she just kisses her lovingly on the lips. Ashley still needs to convey her feelings, so she starts to talk between kisses.

"I love you so much." Stella just smiles into the kisses.

They are disturbed by the sound of someone clearing their throat. They instantly pull apart, and glance to see Audrey stepping onto the balcony. She looks just as exhausted and emotional as Eden.

"Are you okay?" Ashley really is worried about her grandmother.

Audrey just smiles, though it can't disguise the sorrow and the anguish on her face. "I will be. I think the jet lag is kicking in, I going to head for bed. I just wanted to say goodnight."

Audrey moves, and kissed Eden first and then Stella on the cheek, they both say their goodnights and watch worriedly as she heads back into the apartment and disappears to her room.

Stella and Eden look at each other, concern apparent on both of their faces. But the look seems to convey at the same time, that this can all wait until the morning, they are both worn out and emotionally drained. They both know that, there are huge emotional times ahead, Amelia's funeral, their new family forming. But right know they just want to have each other and forget about all the other stuff.

So with this thought in both of their minds, almost telepathic between the two, Stella grabs Eden's hand.

"Let's go to bed."

Ashley obediently follows, she just wants to hold her wife, and worry about what tomorrow brings, tomorrow.

Part 22

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