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 4

Ashley is in the main lab, lab coat on, looking like a geek; well at least that's how she sees it. She is currently leaning over the centre table, looking at strips of material with a magnifying glass. She doesn't have a case at the moment, so she's going over the evidence from an old unsolved one, she's searching for a drop of blood, or trace or anything that might help her break the case. In her heart she knows she won't find it, but this doesn't deter her, she is currently engrossed in what she's doing.

Stella has been watching Ashley from the doorway for a couple of minutes; she loves how dedicated to her work she is. Stella smiles to herself she thinks she looks cute in her lab coat; she knows how much Eden hates it. Stella knows she can't stay here watching her for hours, so she decides she better do what she's come here to do. She moves away from the door, and grabs Eden on the shoulder.

Ashley still engrossed, absolutely jumps out of her skin. She jumps up and turns around to see Stella smirking at her.

"Jesus Stella, are you trying to give me a heart attack?" Ashley is taking frantic breaths trying to regain her composure.

"Why so jumpy Ashley?" Stella can't help the evil grin that spreads on her face, Ashley can tell Stella's in a playful mood by the use of her last name rather than the 'Eden' she usually gets from her. Stella continues, "Come on Shorty, we've got a case."

"Hey just cos I don't wear those killer heals like you, doesn't mean I short." Stella laughs, and begins to fill her in on the details whilst Ashley begins to pack her evidence away.

"42 year old female, found dead at home this morning by her husband. Upper East Side." Ashley raises her eyebrows, she's learning more and more about New York, and knows that the Upper East Side is definitely one of the most affluent areas.

"Very posh, is the husband a suspect?"

"Of course, they always are, but we better get down there and establish exactly what's happened. Apparently COD isn't obvious; it may not even be murder."

Now Ashley's interested, she loves a good puzzle. She grabs her jacket and they both head out of the lab. Smiling.

They've been at the crime scene for around 20 minutes. Ashley is taking photos of the body, whilst Stella is glove up looking around the room for evidence. Flack has the husband in the other room, interrogating him. The victim is in her underwear in the middle of the room, just laid out. They weren't kidding when they said COD wasn't obvious, there isn't a mark on her.

Well that's not entirely true; there are two small marks just under her armpits. They are about 3cm long, very precise; they are almost certainly from surgery of some description.

"Hey Stella, what do you think of our Vic's breasts?" Stella almost drops the papers she going through at Ashley's words, and walks over to her.

"You know Ashley it's not exactly respectful of the dead, for you to be checking out their breasts. It's also pretty gross." Stella puts on a mock disgusted look, Ashley just smiles to herself.

"You're sick, do you know that. I wasn't checking them out. Look at them; do they look real to you?" She motions towards the breast, Stella follows her gaze and looks at the Vic's breasts, it's difficult to tell, as they are of course still encased in a bra, but you can definitely make out the outline of implants.

"Well I'm by no means an expert in breasts, like you." Stella looks over at Ashley, still with the cheeky grin on her face; she loves how playful she and Eden can be. Eden just raises her eyebrows, and looks unimpressed, waiting for an answer. "But yeah I guess they're not the most natural looking things I've seen."

"And you can see the incisions just under the armpit, on either side. I'd say they're definitely fake."

"Well that's all well and good Ashley, but does this have any relevance to the case." Ashley just looks over at Stella, hugely unimpressed, why on earth does she think I'm bringing it up if it's not relevant. I'm not that gay.

"Of course it's relevant. Do you remember about 3 weeks ago, me and Danny had a case, a lot like this one, 40 something year old female, no apparent cause of death, we never solved the case because we had no idea what killed her, we still don't. We didn't know where to start."

That's got Stella's attention now, she's listening intently, all jokes firmly to one side.

"Well the only thing I thought was weird at the time, was that she had just had cosmetic surgery. She'd had her cheeks done."

Stella looks confused. "Her cheeks done?"

"Yeah you know, like cheek implants, not everyone has cheek bones to die for. Anyway there wasn't anything suspicious about the surgery at the time so we didn't follow up. But this is all a bit too similar."

Stella nods. "I agree, where did the first Vic have 'her cheeks done'?" Ashley laughs at the face Stella pulls when she says it, she obviously isn't a fan of weird cosmetic surgery, not that Ashley was either of course, but she just has a less judgemental 'each to their own' outlook on life.

"Erm it was at the Transforming Lives, Private Hospital. They specialise in this sort of thing."

"Wow I never would of guessed with a name like that." Ashley smiles. Stella just shakes her head, unbelievable the lengths woman will go to for vanity. She shouts Flack into the room, and tells him to bring the Vic's husband, Mr Jones with him. They step into the room. Mr Jones is clearly upset; he looks over and catches a glimpse of his wife's body, and starts to sob. Ashley tries to calm him down, thinking maybe they should have just gone into the other room.

"Mr Jones, I'm so sorry for your loss." He just nods. "I notice your wife has some small incisions near her armpits. They look recent?"

"She had breast implants. Said it was for my birthday, I thought she was perfect the way she was." Stella and Ashley look at each other; Stella continues to probe Mr Jones.

"Mr Jones when did your wife have the surgery and where?"

"About a month ago, at that Transforming Lives Clinic, with Doctor Lovely. He's a real piece of work." Stella and Ashley again look at each other knowingly.

They jump straight in the Chevy, and head right to the clinic. It was only a five minute drive, and they are still firmly in the most well off part of Manhattan. On the way they heard from Adam, who had been doing some research back at the lab, there have actually been 3 mysterious deaths of 40 something woman, less than a month after having surgery at this particular clinic.

When they arrive at the clinic it is exactly as they both imagined minimal, clean lines and white walls. They were greeted by a receptionist who was dressed in an outfit as white as the walls, and she had the personality to match, ice cold.

Ashley and Stella are currently sitting in the waiting room, in silence. Ashley feels slightly uncomfortable, surrounded by 40 to 50 year old women, some older, and bizarrely some men all around the same age. As Ashley is taking in her surroundings, she catches a glance at Stella who appears to be doing the same thing; Ashley's heart skips a beat, as it usually does when she looks at Stella. The ice queen receptionist breaks them both out of their reverie.

"Doctor Lovely will see you now." Ashley can't help but smirk at the name; she looks over to Stella again who reciprocates her smirk. They rise up from their seats and follow the receptionist into the Doctor's office.

The Doctor is much as they thought he would be as well. Smarmy, glistening white teeth, over exaggerated smile, perfect hair, not a strand out of place, slick, Full of himself. His does nothing to dispel their first impression when he opens his mouth.

"Well well well, NYPD are certainly hiring a different calibre of detective these days. How can I help you ladies?"

Ashley feels her eyes inadvertently roll, what a tool this guy is, Mr Jones was right this guy is real piece of work. Stella begins to speak.

"Carol Jones. Lily Knowles and Sarah Johnson. Ring any bell?" Stella is standing arms crossed with a determined look on face, she wasn't about to take any crap for this idiot. Ashley looks over admiringly at her, she has the look on her face that she always gets when she's well into a case, and she knows she's got her man.

"I don't think so." He gives the two of them a cheesy smile. At this point Ashley jumps in.

"Now I find that very hard to believe, you see they have all been patients' of yours, in the last three months." He cuts her off, Ashley hates it when that happens.

"Detective . . . "he lingers, obviously waiting for her to give her name. It's like a silent battle of wills. She of course gives in first.

"Ashley." He smirks; wow this guy is really winding her up.

"Detective Ashley, I see approximately 60 patients a month, and perform at least 25 procedures each month, you can't really expect me to remember the names of all my patients."

"Well they all died, within weeks of having their procedure here. Maybe that will help you remember them." He loses his composure for the first time since they have been there, only for a split second, but they both saw it. He of course fully regains it. It's like a stone wall going up in front of his face, any scent of emotion is gone.

"And I suppose you think that has something to do with the procedures they had here?"

Stella exhales loudly, she may as well have just said 'well dur?' this guy is really starting to annoy her, she settles instead for, "Three women, all die within weeks of having an operation here, and what you think it's a coincidence?"

"That's the only explanation I can offer, it's certainly nothing to do with this clinic." As he is saying this he rises from his seat behind his desk, and makes his way over to Stella, he has a red pen in his hand.

Stella is confused, and a little intimidated by his actions, Ashley has the same confused look as Stella, and just watches intently as the scene unfolds in front of her.

"You have an amazing bone structure. You are a stunningly beautiful woman Detective." He is now firmly in front of Stella, and she is not impressed at all. "I could help you maintain these looks, by making you look ten years younger, just a nip here and a tuck there." Stella doesn't know whether to explode with rage or burst into tears.

Ashley is dumbfounded, so much so that she can't actually move; she is just standing there open mouthed. How dare he? As far as Ashley is concerned Stella is perfect, she needs no nipping or tucking of any description. Although she must say the look on Stella's face at the moment is priceless. The lovely Doctor flips the cap off the red pen; both Stella and Ashley have the horrible realisation at this moment, that its one of 'those' pens, that would be used for drawing on people. Ashley can't believe it; he's not actually going to try to draw on her is he? The tension in the room is intolerable at the moment. He lifts the pen to Stella's face, she is about to lift off. She can actually feel her cheeks turning red.

"May I?" Stella clenches her jaw, and as politely and composed as she can she spits out, "no you may not."

With this Doctor not so lovely shrugs his shoulders and moves back round to his side of the desk. Ashley gaze is still fixed on Stella, trying to figure out if she is okay. She just looks mightily unimpressed. Ashley decides this now needs to get wrapped up fairly quickly, before Stella kills their suspect.

"Right well, if you've got nothing to hide you won't mind us having a look around then?" He gives her that awful smirk again.

"Detective Ashley, I'd love to help you out, but I can't just have cops all over my clinic. I believe the correct procedure would be for you to get a warrant?"

Stella pipes in. "We'll be back with a warrant." And with that they both turn and leave the office. They are stopped in their tracks when Lovely opens his mouth again.

"I highly doubt that, if you had one shred of evidence against me or my lab, you would have come here with a warrant."

He is of course right. It's going to be impossible for them to get a warrant based on the evidence they have so far. They need something concrete. As they make their way to the car, Ashley is deep in thought thinking about what it could actually be from the clinic, causing the deaths.

Stella hasn't said a word, her train of thought is completely different to Ashley's, she's mortified by what's just happened and in front of Eden as well. Sure she was a few years older than her, but only like six, nothing momentous. She's worried that Ashley will start looking at her like an old lady now. Which is ridiculous, as she hasn't yet, and has no plans to actually do anything about the feelings she has for her? Needless to say, the charming Doctor has really gotten to her. They both climb into the car, Ashley starts to think out loud as she putting her seatbelt on.

"Well it can't be any sort of superbug, that place was clean. I mean there wasn't a speck of dirt anywhere."

Stella really isn't listening to Ashley at this point; she's still away in her own world. "Mmmmmm".

Wow great input Stel. Ashley can't believe she would let that creep get to her this much. Ashley continues in the hope that Stella will snap out of this mood.

"So what else would all of the procedures have in common? Cos the procedures themselves were all different, so it can't be that, and they were all on different parts of the body, so it can't be affecting a certain organ or anything like that."

"Mmmmmmm." Ashley decides to let this non response fly, as she's on a roll thought wise.

"So really the only thing in common, was the surgery aspect, and what does all surgery have in common?" She looks over to Stella expectantly, but she is just staring into space, playing with the car keys.

"Stella. Stella." Her head snaps up, she looks over to Ashley, her eyes full of sadness, Ashley hates seeing her like this. "Come on Stella; don't let that jerk get to you like this."

Stella see's the concern etched on Ashley's face, and decides to let it go and get her head back into the case, she shakes her head, as if shaking the negative thoughts away. "You're right, you're right. I'm fine; I'm back in the case."

Ashley knows a brave face when she sees one. Drastic action is needed.

"Stella look at me." She looks up into her eyes, Ashley can still see the doubt in her deep blue eyes, unbelievable, she's looking at Eden expectantly, and she realises Stella is waiting for her to say something. "You're beautiful. Like seriously one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen in real life."

This causes her to smile, and her heart explodes, she can barely breathe. Ashley sees the sparkle return to Stella's eyes, her work here is done. Stella doesn't stop to think, she grabs Eden and envelopes her into a hug.

"Thank you." She whispers into Eden's neck, who is a bit taken aback by the display of affection, not that she's complaining of course. But she has to swallow down her emotion at Stella's next words, "You always make me feel better." Ashley has to close her eyes; she can feel a lump forming in her throat. Stella feels at home in Ashley's arms with her face buried in the crook of her neck. She gets lost in the moment.

Ashley feels it's all getting a bit intense, she pulls back from the hug, they lock eyes, Stella can't seem to look away, she finally feels the nervousness of the moment. Ashley is too scared to do anything; she blinks, and looks away.

"Yeah so as I was saying, the only other thing in common, is the anaesthetic." The mistiness that had been apparent in Stella's eyes seconds ago quickly disappears. She almost kissed me was Stella's current thought, but she quickly gets her focus back, as Ashley starts to flip through the folders on her knee, looking for the evidence to confirm her theory.

"Yep, yep, they all had different procedures, but they all needed to be put to sleep using a general anaesthetic." She looks up from the folder, at Stella who is just looking back smiling.

"You're a genius Eden. We've gotta get the evidence linking the deaths to the anaesthetic." With that Stella gets the keys in the ignition and they drive off back towards the lab.

The anaesthetic turned out to be the case breaker. The good Doctor had been importing some cheap third world stuff from god knows where, completely illegal to use in the US, and the 3 victims all had Asthma something which had made them particularly susceptible. He won't go down for murder unfortunately, but gross negligence manslaughter. The smarmy smile certainly evaporated from his face when Stella and Ashley charged him. Classic.

It's currently 6.30pm, Ashley is heading for the exit, it's been a long day, and she is looking forward to getting out of the lab.

Stella is currently lost in her own thoughts in the changing room. She is sitting on the bench in the middle of the room. All of today's goings on are starting to get to her. Not so much the Doctor Lovely stuff, she could just about cope with that. But what happened in car afterwards with Eden, she really thought they were going to kiss. What scared her the most was how much she wanted it in that moment. And all the questions were swirling around her brain; did she want to be with Eden? Maybe, but to be in a public relationship with her, with another woman – which is all it would be to outsiders, she's not ready for that, is it because she's embarrassed? She's not sure, she would be immensely proud to be with Eden, maybe embarrassed isn't the correct word, it seems too harsh.

Stella hasn't noticed Ashley in the door way, on her way to the elevator she glanced into the changing room, and saw Stella slumped; it was obvious there was something wrong with her, Ashley just assumes it's the Doctor, so she sets her bag down at the door and walks into the room, gently closing the door behind her. Stella doesn't seem to have noticed that she is in the room, as she exhales loudly.

"Stella?" she looks up at Ashley slightly startled, there's a ghost of a smile on her face, as she is genuinely happy to see her. All Ashley see's her eyes filled with sorrow, she looks tired. Ashley sits down on the bench next to her.

"Is everything okay?" She shakes her head as if she's trying to shake the sorrow right out. She plasters and obviously fake smile onto her face and looks up.

"Yeah, I'm fine." She's lying, they both know it.

Ashley just looks at her; she knows that Stella knows that she isn't buying any of this fakeness.

"Stella, this is me. You can talk to me." Stella can't take the emotion of it anymore, she looks away from Eden. Ashley who still thinks this is all down to Doctor Lovely, she was confused however, she didn't think Stella would let something like that, get to her this much. Ashley feels sick that, that idiot has made her feel like this. She can't shake the feeling that it's just not like her, she is usually so confident.

Ashley places her hand on Stella's shoulder, causing her to look at her again. When she looks into Ashley's eyes, she can see they are glistening with tears, this breaks Ashley's heart. Without even thinking, she moves her hand from Stella's shoulder, up to her cheek, and begins to caress her cheek with her thumb. Ashley can feel her heart beating through her chest, she daren't breathe. Stella leans into her touch, she closes her eyes, and she feels comfort, which is exactly what she needs at this precise moment in time.

"Is this about what happened earlier?" Stella opens her eyes, of course it is about what happened earlier, but Stella knows Ashley is referring to what happened at the clinic, which is of course only half of the story. Ashley reads the expression on Stella's face as meaning that her current mood is down to the Doctor. And she can't believe it, how can Stella think she is anything but stunningly beautiful. Ashley's emotions take over, her brain doesn't have control over her actions at the moment, and she can feel herself leaning in towards Stella. The stare between them never breaks, eyes locked. Stella knows what is about to happen, she has a nervous, excited, panicked feeling growing in her stomach. But knowing what is about to happen, she wants it to happen. She doesn't move away, she just waits. Ashley see's the familiar mist develop in her eyes.

It seems like an eternity, but eventually their lips meet. Ashley gently kisses her at first, to see if she responds, she's fully prepared for her to pull away and ask her what the hell she thinks she's doing. But Stella doesn't, she kisses her back, responding slowly at first, she can't believe how right this feels, and becomes lost in the kiss. The passion sparks between them, the kiss becomes more vigorous, Ashley moves her hand from her face into her hair, and Stella moves her hands to Ashley's back, pulling her in closer trying to taste more of her. It's wonderful, now it's Ashley's turn to be engrossed in the kiss.

All of a sudden the panic starts to rise in Stella's brain, all those question from a few mere moments ago return, a relationship with a woman, the embarrassment? Was it embarrassment, she wasn't sure, but her anxiety reaches the maximum level. She regrets her next action almost as soon as she's done it.

Ashley is taken by surprise, she doesn't actually know what has happened straight away, there is just a smack of pain through her left cheek. It takes her a few seconds for her to compose herself and for her brain to actually catch up to reality. When it finally does catch up, it's like a haze lifting, she looks over to the door of the changing room, Stella is stood looking as shocked as Ashley, but with tears streaming down her face, she can't actually believe what she's just done, Ashley looks so hurt. It's at this point Ashley realises Stella has slapped her, and that what's caused the searing pain down the left hand side of her face.

She looks over to Stella again, who can't bear to look at the hurt she's caused Ashley, both physically – there's a massive red mark on the side of her face, and emotionally – her eyes are filling up with tears. She just bolts out of the changing room and runs for her office. Ashley, who is still sitting on the bench, just leans forward and puts her head in her hands. Well that went well. She can feel the tears roll down into her hands. What have I done?

Part 5

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