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
Stella is driving home after a long day at work, its dark, she cannot wait to get home to Eden, they've been back from Chicago for around a month now, and although it's been difficult, adjusting to their new family, their marriage has been fantastic, and growing stronger every day.
Stella is currently driving over the Williamsburgh Bridge in what she hopes will be a shortcut. She's gets most of the way over the bridge heading into the Lower East Side of Manhattan, when she is pulled from her thoughts about Eden, by a car pulled over on the side of the road, with its hazard lights on. It's fairly late; the road is otherwise pretty deserted.
Stella slows down to a crawl to investigate what's happening, and is shocked when she sees a man, looks to be mid to late forty's, wispy hair blowing in the wind, standing on the wrong side of the railings, she pulls over immediately, assuming suicide attempt.
She is horrified when as she moves closer, she realises the man has a small boy in his arm, he can't be more than Seven years old, and he looks terrified, which is understandable because the man looks rather unstable, he sobbing, and murmuring something inaudible in-between the sobs.
Before Stella can even attempt to intervene, the older gentleman lets out one final gut wrenching wail, and throws himself and the small boy into the river. Stella although highly dismayed and horrified, springs into action. She darts off the bridge as fast as her legs will carry her, and sprints down the embankment to the water's edge.
As she's running she pulls out her cell and dials 911, she frantically barks out instructions, not waiting for a greeting or response from the person on the other end of the line.
"This is detective Bonasera with the New York Crime Lab, I'm currently on the Williamsburgh Bridge, Manhattan side, Possible PC 664/187, and man has just thrown himself off the bridge with a child in his arms. Get this to Mac Taylor."
She doesn't wait for a response, just disconnects the call, and starts to remove her jacket. She folds it and places it on the floor, along with her shoes, police badge and gun, along with the cell phone she has just utilized. She takes a deep breath and dives into the water.
Ashley has been home for a while, she's starting to pace a little, Stella had called around an hour ago, to say she was on her way home, even in the most horrendous traffic, the journey is 45 minutes max. The fact that Stella called around 9pm when traffic would have been fairly reasonable, is really starting to worry Ashley.
She paces towards the living room area, again. She decides if Stella isn't home in ten minutes, she's going to have to start driving round the streets of New York, she doesn't want to call her cell, she has nightmares of Stella answering when she's driving and it causing some sort of huge accident.
Just as she settles on her next course of action, the house telephone starts to ring. Ashley practically leaps at the phone, and answers it straight away; it must have only managed half a ring. Her mind immediately goes into over drive when she hears Mac on the other end of the line, and her heart sinks when she hears the tone of his voice.
"Mac. What's wrong?" She can't help the panic that filtrates through her voice.
Ashley's panic level reaches a maximum. "Where is she?"
Mac realises he has alarmed her, but to be completely honest he's a little fearful himself.
"We don't know, just get to the Williamsburgh Bridge, I'll explain everything when you get here."
Ashley wastes no time, she grabs her keys and sprints for the exit. A million and one thoughts swirling in her brain, none of them good, each a little worse than the last.
Ashley made it to the bridge in record time, there was no problem finding Mac, there are flashing lights and cops and paramedics everywhere, this does nothing to calm her. Her heart literally jumps into her throat when she notices Stella's car coarsely parked at the side of the road, just abandoned, she can feel the tears start to sting her eyeballs already.
She parks up her own car and without hesitation runs down the river bank, under the police tape and straight for Mac, when she reaches him, she just starts babbling, she can't form a coherent sentence. Mac quickly grabs her by her shoulders, and shakes her gently, trying to force her to focus.
"Eden honey, calm down." He gives her a little shake again, this seems to have the desired effect and brings her round, she looks directly into his eyes, she needs an explanation.
"Mac, what the hell is going on?"
Mac takes a deep breath; he knows this isn't going to be easy on his daughter.
"Stella called it in herself; some guy threw himself off the bridge with his kid in his arms."
Ashley processes the information, Stella must have seen this happening on her way home, she returns her focus to Mac, evidently there is more to this story. Mac continues.
"When we got here, all Stella's things where piled up on the side of the river, her badge, gun, shoe's. . . "
It slowly dawns on Ashley what Mac is getting at.
"She went in the water." It's more of a statement than a question from Ashley. Mac sees her eyes glaze over.
Ashley runs towards the water, it's an almost involuntary action on her part, Mac jumps at the sudden movement, but manages to grab hold of her, before she can dive in too. Panic wracks her body, all she can think about is the darkness, it must be approaching 10.30pm, its pitch black, Stella must be terrified, and its freezing, it's so cold, this is what's worrying her the most.
Mac suddenly realises maybe bringing Eden to the scene wasn't the best idea. He shouts.
Adam immediately perks up, he sees Mac and Ashley, and his first concern is that Mac has Eden in like a bear hug from behind, his second concern is the expression on her face, he immediately runs over. Mac wastes no time.
"Adam, I want you to take Eden back to the lab and look after her there."
Adam nods his head instantly agreeing, this sentence seems to bring her out of her daze, unsurprisingly Ashley doesn't share Mac and Adam's sentiment.
"No way Mac, I want to be here, I need to be here."
They become involved in a three way tussle, Adam and Mac both trying to make Ashley see sense, and go back to the lab, and Ashley arguing her case to stay.
Over the almost shouting the three of them are doing, and the hustle bustle of the scene, one of the cops shouts.
"Mac, we've found a body."
Instant silence, complete instant silence.
Then Ashley's feet take over, she runs towards the cop, Adam and Mac aren't far behind. Ashley reaches the edge of the river where all the commotion is, her heart in her mouth, she takes a deep breath, and opens her eyes, she hadn't even realised they were closed. She is a little ashamed of the relief she feels, when she sees a man in his 40's being dragged from the water.
Although this really doesn't fill her with confidence about Stella's chances.
Adam grabs Eden, and steers her towards his car, she is far too emotional to resist, and let's herself be led away from the scene.
Mac watches as his daughter is removed from the scene, the life trickling out of her eyes. He has to find Stella.
After Stella had dived in the water, she had managed to catch sight of the father and son, she struggled against the terrible conditions in the water and the current, and managed to grab the boy, he was not in a good way, he was unconscious and the water is freezing, she knows neither of them will survive for very long in these conditions.
It's with this thought in her head, as she struggles against the current, that she can feel herself being swept away, and there's nothing she can do about it.
Adam manages to calm Ashley down in the car. She snaps out of it and realises that if she is going to be at all useful she needs to pull herself together. She heads over to Mac; it looks like he's talking to the rescue co-ordinator from the fire department. They both acknowledge Ashley as she joins them; she almost dreads asking the next question.
"Any developments?" Ashley can't bear to look them in the eyes, as she waits for the answer.
Mac quickly puts her out of her misery.
"The guy we found, looks like he died from the impact. Which is something I suppose."
He looks at Eden to make sure she understands, she does. The fall not the awful conditions killed him, a small glimmer of hope for Stella. Mac continues.
"But there's still no sign of Stella or the boy."
At this point the FDNY co-ordinator pipes in.
"Listen Mac, I know she's one of yours. . ."
At this point Ashley's ear's really perk up, this guy obviously has no idea that Stella is her wife.
". . .But it's been six hours, the conditions and the way the tide is going, almost certainly mean she's still in the water, plus we've been searching the banks, and there's no sign of her. . ."
Mac knows where this is going; he prepares himself for the impending explosion from Eden.
". . . Nobody can survive that long in these conditions."
Ashley knows exactly what he is saying, but she needs him to verbalise it.
"So what are you suggesting?" She manages the question through gritted teeth.
He turns and looks at Ashley almost as if it's the first time he's noticed she's there.
"Well ma'am, I'm suggesting we call the search off, the likelihood is, we're searching for a body now, and the chances of us ever finding that, in there."
He gestures out over the water; the first rays of morning sunlight are just starting to reflect on the water's surface. As predicted, Ashley explodes.
"No, No way." She screams, Mac immediately tries to calm her down.
"We are not leaving her out there."
Danny hears the commotion, and instantly joins the group. "What's going on?"
Mac and the co-ordinator look at the ground, almost ashamed. Looks like it's up to Ashley to explain, defiant, with hands on hips, and still fuming.
"He." She gestures towards the fire fighter, "wants to leave my wife out there to die."
It's at this point the FDNY co-ordinator realises the significance of who he's been talking to, which again makes his gaze drop to his own feet again.
Danny can't imagine what Eden is going through, be he feels he needs to inject some realism.
"The likelihood is, that she's already dead Eden."
The emotion catches in his own throat as he says it, it was definitely hard for him to say, truly. Ashley cannot believe her ears.
"So you too huh? You wanna give up on her as well?"
"Of course I don't want to . . ." Danny is stammering over his words now.
"Do you think Stella, would give up on you? Do you think she would give up on any of us? Huh?"
Danny feels almost ashamed.
"Come on Danny, has Stella ever given up on you?"
The answer is of course no, he can't formulate a sentence, just looks at the floor, trying desperately to swallow the emotion and stop the tears that are threatening his eyes from falling. Something which Ashley has failed miserably at.
She knows ultimately the final say on what happens goes to Mac. She turns to face him.
"And what about you?" She looks at him eyes full of emotion, his heart breaking. "Do you think we should just pack up and go home? Even if she is dead Mac." Even just speaking these words out loud, was like being stabbed through the heart for Ashley.
"You better than anyone must know how it feels to not have a body to bury, to not have that closure"
This hits him like a bullet, he doesn't know what to say, if it was any one else but Stella, then the rescue operation would probably be over already. He has to balance his personal feelings and his professional feelings. The thing is he knows, professionally he should call the search off.
Ashley can see he is in inner turmoil, she can't explain her next actions, she reaches out and grabs his hand, which causes him to raise his head and look her directly in the eyes, she mutters gently almost inaudibly, but Mac hears it.
"Please Dad. I'm begging you." She takes a massive breath in, to try and stem the flow of tears more than anything else.
"Just gimme another hour."
Mac just nods, this is all Ashley needs, she runs off towards the car. Mac can't speak; did she just call him Dad??
Ashley is heading back to the car, as she asked Adam to get the blue print of the river, to show any tunnels that may connect into the river or any lowerings in the banks of the river they may not know about. Realistically Ashley knows the only way Stella is still alive is if she has somehow managed to get out of the water.
"Adam, did you get the prints?"
"Sure did princess."
He hands them to her, and she instantly unrolls them on the bonnet of the truck, she looks at them and then looks out across the river, the sun is fully out now, so she can see everything. She studies back and forth between the plans and reality for a few minutes, Adam watching her intently the whole time.
"What's that over there Adam?" She points out across the actual river, to a sort of tunnel sticking out on the side.
Adam sees it, but he has no idea what it is, his lack of response spurs Ashley on.
"It's not on the blue prints." Adam scans the plans, she's rights.
"Well Ash, these are the latest plans, anything pre 1900 won't be on these. That could be part of the old sewage system."
Ashley immediately gets the hope back; she knows deep in her heart Stella is still alive, and that Tunnel may well have been her best chance at survival.
"Adam find out what that tunnel is, and where it leads."
And with that she disappears to find Mac.
Adam was right, the tunnel was part of the old sewage system, the bad news is that it connects into the current sewage system, so if Stella has in fact managed to get herself into the tunnel, she could now be anywhere under New York City. They started from the side of the river, and are now making their way towards the city. Stella has been missing for about 12 hours now, ample time to get quite far into the city. They at least know she will have had the good sense to stay in a straight line. They are armed with a map showing all the tunnels.
Adam and Ashley have just checked one man hole, and are slowly walking towards the next; they are both drained physically and emotionally.
Ashley sighs. "Talk about needle in a haystack."
Adam smiles and grabs her hand as they are walking. "Hey, we'll find her, okay?"
Ashley entwines their fingers as they continue to walk, and smiles. "Thanks Adam."
He winks at her, as they arrive at their destination. As much as they both want to find Stella, sticking their heads into manholes isn't appealing to either, especially due to the number they have already looked in. Ashley looks at the manhole, then at Adam and sighs.
"Rock, paper, scissors?"
Adam nods, they immediately shake their fist at each other three times. Adam opts for scissors, Ashley for paper. Damn.
She resignedly drops to her knees, and removes the manhole cover, she takes the flashlight from Adam, and braces herself for the smell as she first drops her flash light wielding arm, and then her head into the hole, and she starts to look around the cavernous tunnel below, with the light as her guide.
Its dark, breathing is a struggle, and she is cold, she is so very cold. She has managed to keep hold of the little boy, although she's not entirely sure what good it will be do, she can't even be certain if he is still alive now, and she is certainly doesn't have the strength to check. All she can do now is hope. Hope that Eden will find her; the tears start to fall again at the thought of her wife. She's still not really sure how she even got here, just that it was the hardest thing she has ever done, it took a super human strength, she reminisces back to when she was hanging on for dear life, praying not to get swept out into the ocean, never to be seen again, pulling herself up into this tunnel, and forcing her and the boy through the metal bars at the entrance. Then using everything she had to plod along the tunnel, carrying the poor boy. Until eventually, what seemed like an age ago she collapsed here in this spot, and hasn't been able to move since.
Just then she hears some commotion up above, the light in the distance, she hears someone call her name, no, not just 'someone'. Eden, she can hear Eden shouting her name.
She tries in vain to call out, but her mouth is so dry, the words won't come out, the light that she had seen in the distance falls onto her face, she hopes and prays that Eden has seen her, but almost as soon as the light is on her, it disappears again.
"Stella." Ashley's throat is getting a little horse from shouting so much, but it's worth it she supposes if she finds her.
She scans the darkness below with the flashlight. She places the light over down to her left hand side, quickly, she can believe her eyes, she's sure she has just seen something; she quickly whips the light back to where she thought she saw the form.
Stella's heart melts when the light returns to her face and stays there, Eden has found her, with that thought she allows herself to drift into unconsciousness.
Ashley whips her head out of the hole, the speed at which she does it surprises Adam. She screams back to Mac and the co-ordinator.
"I've found her, get an EMT ASAP."
She looks at Adam with tears in her eyes. "We found her."
"I told you, we would." Adam smiles.
Although she is apprehensive, as she has no idea what sort of state Stella is in, she wastes no time in descending down into the tunnel, closely followed by Adam.
Stella is in a bad way, she can tell that just by looking at her, the boy she is cradling looks ten times worse. Adam starts to tend to him.
Stella is unconscious, so she checks for a pulse, it's there, its faint but it's there. She breaths out a massive sigh of relief and brushes the hair out of Stella's face, before lowering and placing a gentle kiss on her forehead.
They got Stella and the young boy out of the sewer and rushed them to the hospital, neither of them in a good way. The boy was rushed straight into surgery.
Stella, who needed CPR in the ambulance on the way over, which freaked Ashley out no end, has been rushed in for some sort of blood warming procedure, Ashley doesn't fully understand at the moment, she is dazed and confused. Stella is suffering from severe hypothermia.
Ashley is now going out of her mind in the hospital waiting room, with the rest of the team. Mac has just been getting an update on the boy from the doctor, the team all look up expectantly when he enters the waiting room area. Mac sighs.
"The young boy died on the operating table."
Everyone on the team drops their heads, Ashley feels even more disheartened, everybody involved in this disaster so far has died, she hopes Stella finds the strength to buck the trend.
Mac takes a seat next to Eden; she immediately takes his hand in hers, and rests her head on his shoulder. He squeezes her hand and kisses her on the head. As awful as this ordeal has been, Mac can't help but think it really has helped; he and Eden get closer, and mover towards taking the next step in their father daughter relationship.
Stella's doctor approaches the group. "Mrs Bonasera?"
Ashley looks up, the fear wracking her body and the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach is beyond a joke as she stands to meet the doctor.
"Yes that's me." She shakes the doctor's hand, in somewhat of a daze.
"I'm doctor Casler; I've been treating your wife."
Ashley just nods, she can't speak, the doctor continues.
"She's responded really well to treatment. She's still a little groggy, but we expect her to make a full recovery."
Ashley actually cries out in relief, the team who are all still seated, but listening intently, breath a collective sigh of relief.
"Thank you so much." Ashley truly means it, and if it wasn't highly inappropriate she would kiss him.
"Can I see her?"
The doctor has a beaming smile himself. "Of course."
Ashley wastes no time in heading for Stella's room, she pokes her head round the door and Stella's face immediately lights up in the most beautiful smile, she is sitting up in bed, she looks a lot better than the last time she saw her, if Ashley's honest she probably looks a lot better than she does right now, she hasn't been home since the scene, and has had no sleep for almost two days.
She slowly moves towards the bed, and grabs Stella's hand, and exhales again. Pure relief.
"Please don't ever do anything like that ever again."
Stella laughs, God how Ashley has longed to hear that laugh again.
"Don't worry Shorty, I won't."
Ashley crawls onto the bed next to Stella, and takes her in her arms.
"We have got to stop having sleepovers at the hospital." Again this makes them both chuckle. The mood gets rather more serious. Ashley speaks.
"I really thought I'd lost you." The lump immediately returns to her throat.
Stella can't imagine what Eden has gone through, especially with her losing Katy the way she did all those years ago, she hates herself a little for putting her through it. She knows in future she will at least try to stop and think before putting her life in danger. Stella begins to talk.
"I know this is gunna sound weird, but I knew you'd find me." She really did.
"I wouldn't have stopped until I had."
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