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 5

The morning after the night before. Ashley is feeling rather sheepish. She also has quite the black eye, which she isn't looking forward to explaining to everybody, everybody of course except Stella. She sulks into the break room, and finds Adam in there making coffee.

"Hey Princess. You want?" Adam has his back to Ashley and hasn't properly looked over at her yet.

"Yeah sure." The fact that Ashley totally lets slide his 'Princess' jibe, causes him concern and makes him take notice. He instantly see's the massive shiner. He is over to Ashley in an instant, inspecting her, he is slightly amused.

"Whoa, what happened to you?" Ashley can see the playfulness in Adam's eyes, she is actually glad he's not taking it too seriously, something she's sure not to expect from Mac.

"I don't really wanna talk about it. What do you reckon; can I get away with wearing shades when Mac hands out assignments?" She smiles trying to joke her way through this. But the way she is shifting her weight side to side, Adam can tell she is nervous. He knows when not to push Ashley; this is definitely one of those times.

"If you wanna talk about it, you know where I am. We can go get a drink or something later?"

"Now that sounds like a great idea. I'll catch you later." With this Ashley heads out of the break room and strides towards the Main lab. Coffee in hand. When she arrives everyone is already in there. Ashley feels sick. Nervous.

Stella looks up as the door of the main lab swings open, she see's Eden step in, she looks tired. Stella immediately see's the black eye, and her heart sinks into the pit of her stomach. Ashley makes the mistake of looking up, and see's Stella's gaze fixated on her, she can't bear to make eye contact, so she looks away instantly, and starts to concentrate on her coffee, like it's the most interesting thing she's ever laid eyes on.

Mac has obviously seen the black eye, as has everybody else in the room. Ashley keeps her head down, waiting for the inevitable to come. Mac doesn't disappoint.

"Wow, Ashley, you look like you've done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson." Ashley had been thinking about how she was going to explain away the black eye, the truth obviously wasn't an option, she has an elaborate back story prepared, well not so much elaborate.

"I was playing Soccer after work last night; I took an elbow in the face." She tried to make it sound as convincing as possible. Stella was impressed, if not slightly relieved that Eden hadn't dropped her in it.

Mac at least gave the impression that he believed the story. "Ouch, well maybe its best if you stick to lab work today, don't one of New York's finest strolling around in the general public, sporting that."

Great. Now Ashley is pissed off, she was already in a foul mood after having no sleep; she'd been in emotional hell all night. And now getting kicked off assignments. Admittedly she was mad at herself more than anything, but mad as hell all the same. But what can she do, she has no option but to comply.

"Fine." Ashley huff's out of the main lab, and heads towards one of the smaller labs, to make herself comfortable for the rest of the day. In the back of her mind, she knows at some point today she is going to have to talk to Stella.

Stella had watched the exchange between Eden and Mac, and felt really uncomfortable. She knows this is all her fault, she feels bad enough about the black eye, and now Eden had been thrown on desk duty because of it. Stella was still in inner turmoil over the kiss, and over Eden in general, she is still so confused about what she actually wants, and how she actually feels. Her head and heart are in mass conflict. Even she isn't sure which is going to win out.

It was about two thirds of the way through shift, and so far Stella has managed to avoid Eden. This had of course been made easier by the fact that she had been out on assignment all day, and Eden was still locked away in the lab.

Stella is back in her office at the moment; her suspect is down in the PD being questioned by Flack. She has an hour to kill. She has just replaced the receiver on her telephone. She already had a feeling she was going to regret making the call she just had. But she had come to the decision that she needs to see if these feelings for Eden are real, or if they just exist in this separate 'CSI world'.

She had called Mark, he works in the DA's office, he had been flirting with her a few weeks ago, and left her his card. She had no intention of ever using it, but now with her head all over the place, she just needs an escape. So she has just arranged to meet him for drinks after work. She already wasn't looking forward to it.

Stella was pulled from her thoughts, by a knock at her office door. She looks up to see Eden through the glass door; she can't help the smile that forms on her face as she sees her. Eden still looks as uneasy as she did earlier in the main lab.

Ashley had heard Stella was back in the building, and decided she was going to get this out of the way sooner rather than later. Stella waves her into the office. Ashley felt defeated already; she has resigned herself to the fact that nothing romantic was ever going to happen between her and Stella, the slap was pretty conclusive evidence of that. So this is about damage limitation, she still wants the two of them to be friends, if it's at all possible.

Ashley has been standing in Stella office for a minute or so now, and still hasn't said anything. Stella can see about a million thoughts racing through Eden's mind. "Eden, can I help you?"

Ashley looks up at the use of her name; she loves how Stella is the only person at the lab to use her first name. She mentally shakes her head, these are exactly the kind of thoughts she needs to get rid of. She decides to just get it all out.

"Erm yeah. I just wanted to say how sorry I am about yesterday. I was out of order. And it won't happen again." Not for the first time today, Ashley can't bear to look at Stella, so she just looks at her own feet, feeling rather pathetic, and rather open.

Stella can feel her chest getting tighter; Eden is blaming herself for it all. She listens as she continues. "I don't know what came over me, I never meant to make you feel uncomfortable, and I hope we can go back to being friends."

At this point Ashley composes herself and looks up at Stella; she can't read the expression on her face. This is mainly because Stella doesn't really know what to think, this is just adding to all of her previous confusion, she knows however that she isn't about to let Eden take all of the blame, and all of the responsibility for the kiss.

"Eden don't be so hard on yourself, I kissed you back remember." And remember they did, this sentence took them both directly back to the kiss last night, they both got shivers, and that electricity returned between their gaze, as they both became captivated in the other's eyes.

They were broken from the moment by Flack bursting into the office.

"Hey Ashley. Adam told me you'd been fighting."

"I haven't been fighting." Flack laughs.

"Hey okay, I submit, I submit." Ashley smiles at his attempt at humour. "He also said something about drinks later?"

"Yeah, you in? Knicks are playing too."

"You bet. Anything to cheer my favourite lady up." He winks at Ashley then turns his attention to Stella; he obviously has an update on their case. Ashley takes this as he signal to leave. Stella watches her go, smiling, but more confused than ever.

It's finally the end of shift, and it's been an awful day for Ashley, she cannot wait to meet Adam and Flack, and have a boat load of drinks. She is running a little late, and has arranged to meet them at the bar. She is just heading for the elevator, when she notices a man looking lost in the foyer. Ashley makes the instant judgement that the guy looks a complete sleaze. Sharp suit, greasy hair, She instantly dislikes him. So much so that she walks straight past him and pushes the button for the elevator.

"Excuse me miss." Miss? Well he has done nothing to endear himself to her, how patronising, she turns to face the greasy man. "My name is Mark Oliver. I'm looking for Stella Bonasera?"

"She's just about to finish her shift, come back tomorrow." Ashley is in no mood to be dealing with this jackass.

"Oh I know she's finished. I'm her date; were going for drinks and dancing." This hit Ashley hard; it was literally like she has been stabbed in the heart, she actually struggled to breathe for a second. The sleaze ball continues. "Do you know how long she is likely to be?"

Anger rises. Ashley doesn't know why she's so mad; if Stella wants to date she is perfectly entitled to. She certainly has no right to be angry about it. Anger is quickly replaced by pain; she is surprised at how hurt she is by this. She has to get away from this man.

"Wait here, I'll go and see how long she's likely to be." She storms to Stella's office and walks straight in, trying her best to keep her emotions in check.

Stella is startled, but again a smile instantly forms on her face when she sees it's Eden. But vanishes just as quickly when she sees the look on her face.

"Hey Eden, I thought you were going for drinks with the guys. Is everything okay?" Stella obviously knows the answer to this is no.

Ashley is determined to keep her emotions in check, and not act the idiot with Stella, she doesn't want to jeopardise the already unstable friendship they have.

"Everything is fine. I was just heading out. I bumped into your date at the elevator; he wants to know how long you're going to be. What should I tell him?"

As hard as she tries, Ashley can't mask the pain in her voice, she just stands arms folded looking at Stella, waiting for an answer.

Stella feels hopeless; at least she knows what's wrong now. If she's honest she had completely forgotten that she had arranged to meet Mark, which is probably why he's shown up here. Her mind had been so focused on her case, and on Eden that everything else dropped out of her head.

She looked up at Eden, she knew there was no point trying to explain, the barriers have gone up, and her face lacked the emotion that her voice had given away only moments earlier.

"I'll be out in a second."

"Great I'll let him know." Ashley just turns and walks out of the office. She really needs a drink now, what a crappy end to a crappy day.

Stella tidies away the files on her desk, resigned to the fact that she has hurt the woman she loves, again. Possibly beyond repair this time. Then it dawns on Stella, Loves? It looks as though her heart may be winning out over her head after all. Either way it was going to be a long night; she could hardly cancel the date with Mark now he was in the building.

Part 6

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