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 8

Stella is running, but he is catching her, Eden is trying her best to catch up to them, but it's as if the ground is moving beneath her, like it's a treadmill, or she is stuck on an escalator going in the wrong direction. She is desperate, sobbing, her heart is sinking.

He grabs her, and swings her round, so they are both facing Ashley now. The look of unremitting terror on Stella's face is mirrored, by the manic pleasure in his face, him, the man who had been in Ashley's thoughts for the last ten years, the man who she never believed she would have the misfortune of seeing ever again. And yet here he was, with his hands all over Stella, knife to her throat.

Ashley slumps to her knees, this is ten years all over again, she is helpless again, and she is going to lose the woman she loves again. All she can hear is his crazy laugh, it seems distant somehow, she can't take her eyes off him has he lifts the knife, and the viciously plunges it into Stella's chest.

Ashley jumps bolt upright, heavy breathing and covered in sweat. It takes her a minute to get her bearings, she takes in her surroundings and realises she is in her bedroom, she looks to her right; Stella is staring back at her with a worried look on her face. It was a dream. Thank God it was a dream.

Stella had been lying in bed, Eden's fidgeting had woken her a little, but she was still half asleep. That was until Eden jumped up. She scared the life out of Stella, she's definitely awake now, and the look of panic on Eden's face worries her immensely.

"Sweetie are you okay?" No response, it's almost as if she's in a daze. Eden turns and looks at Stella, she looks awful, dripping with sweat, she's obviously been having a nightmare of some description. When Eden sees Stella, her expression changes from panic to relief. Then she just starts to sob.

Stella has her arms around her in seconds, rocking her, whispering reassuring words into her ears. Stella doesn't know how long they are like this, but eventually the sobbing stops, and Eden's breathing evens out. She has fallen asleep. Relieved Stella decides to try and get some sleep herself, she will try and get to the bottom of it in the morning.

The next morning Ashley feels rather embarrassed. It's been years since she had a nightmare, and she'd never had one whilst in the presence of someone else. It was so real though, so vivid. She knows Stella is going to want to talk about it, and that the conversation is inevitable. They are still at Ashley's apartment; they have been pottering around getting ready for work, not really speaking. But now Ashley is heading for her kitchen, where she knows Stella is waiting.

Ashley strides into the room, as expected Stella is in there, sitting at the table looking over a newspaper. She gestures towards a cup of coffee.

"That's for you."

Ashley smiles, grabs the coffee then joins Stella at the table; she's not sure why she feels so nervous.

"Anything interesting in the news?"

To be honest Stella hadn't really been reading it, she was just passing time until Eden joined her. She is worried. She decides as usual, not to beat around the bush.

"Not really. You wanna talk about last night?" Stella's gaze is now firmly fixed on Eden, her face drops at the mention of last night, Stella can she her mentally fighting with herself, struggling to find the right words to say, Stella just waits patiently.

"Ten years ago after I was stabbed, I used to have nightmares; I haven't had one in years. But last night they came back with a vengeance."

"Any Idea's why they would just come back like that?"

Ashley knew, of course she knew, she wasn't sure if she should tell her, she knows Stella has this weird guilt complex when it comes to the two of them, but she guesses she owes it to her to be honest.

"When it happened, he stabbed Katy in front of me, I guess I don't really care about myself, but the people I love, being hurt, I can't handle that."

Stella didn't appreciate the sentiment that she doesn't care about herself, but she instantly knows where this was going she can feel a lump starting to form in her throat.

"I guess the way I've protected myself over the last ten years, has been to never really get that close to anyone, after a year or so the nightmares stopped. I've been too scared to get involved with anyone, because I've been so scared about losing someone like that again."

This thought hits Ashley, and the tears start filling her eyes, the thought of ever losing Stella, never mind in that capacity terrified her to her core. Stella hates seeing her like this, but lets her continue.

"But with you, I just couldn't help it. And now I guess the fear's back. The thought of him getting his hands on you." This is too much, Eden is crying freely now. Stella walks around the table and sits next to her, pulling her into a hug.

"Hey, that monster is in jail, he can't touch either of us. Plus you aint getting rid of me that easily Shorty."

Ashley smiles, she knows it's completely ludicrous; of course he is in jail. But she can't help this uneasy feeling she has in her heart. She can't quite put her finger on it, but she is sure something bad is happening. Little does she know how right she is.

Stella and Ashley put this morning's events behind them, and were careful to arrive at work separately, as to not raise any suspicion. They had become experts at this over the last month or so, although they were extremely happy, they wanted to enjoy it for themselves for now. That plus Ashley is worried, that although Stella is adamant that she doesn't care about people knowing about them, when the time actually comes for them to tell everyone, Stella will realise it's a lot harder than she thinks. So for now they are quite happy to be a secret, of course Adam knows, but Stella's learnt to trust him, she figures if Eden trusts him unconditionally then he must be worthy of her trust too.

They aren't working the same case today, so they haven't seen each other too much, Stella is in the main lab with Mac and Lindsay. Ashley has just arrived back at the CSI building; she's been working a case with Danny, who is currently with Flack interrogating their suspect. Ashley's come to lab to see if she can steal a few moments with Stella. She's heading towards her office when her cell phone starts to vibrate in her pocket.

She pulls the phone out, and instantly recognises the name on the caller ID, Barb Peterson. Ashley is overcome with a great feeling of sadness when she sees the name. But in an instant, that turns to worry, Barb Peterson, is her ex girlfriend, Katy's mum. They had bonded in grief after Katy's death, and had always kept in touch, but generally would only talk on Katy's birthday, or the anniversary of her death, neither of which was today. Ashley guessed there is only one way to find out. She accepts the call.

"Mrs Peterson, hi. How are you?"

"Eden, have you heard the news?"

Stella, Mac and Lindsay, are going over there evidence and trying to discuss exactly what happened on their case. They all immediately stop when Ashley walks into the room. Stella can tell there is something wrong instantly, Eden is in a daze, she doesn't acknowledge that any of the three of them are in the room; she just walks straight past them and to the big TV at the back of the room.

The three CSI's in the room, say nothing they just follow Ashley with their eyes, two of them bemused, one extremely worried. Ashley still in her own world, flicks on the TV, and changes it immediately to a news channel. And there it is, unfolding in front of her, from the breaking news banner running along the bottom of the screen to the reporter speaking on it, Mrs Peterson's words confirmed, Ashley worst nightmares confirmed.

Stella immediately recognised the name that had flashed up on screen, 'Michael Ellis'. To their credit Mac and Lindsay both recognised the name as well. The three of them still said nothing but began to stare intently at the TV screen; Michael Ellis was the Priest, who had attacked Ashley over ten years ago.

The four of them just stood and began to take in what was actually being said, Ashley was still in disbelief, she still hasn't actually registered that there is anyone else in the room with her, she needs to get straight in her head exactly what is happening. She starts to listen intently when the reporter in the studio starts to recap what's going on.

"If you've just joined us, we can confirm that convicted murderer Michael Ellis' conviction has been overturned, due to CSI Hernandez who worked on the case at the time, being found to guilty of evidence tampering, meaning all of cases he has worked on being reviewed, this is the most high profile of his cases, that has been overturned."

Ashley's heart sinks, everything Mrs Peterson said is true, she can't believe it. She feels physically sick, her dream from last night, now more of a premonition. Stella has been listening to the report, but all the while hasn't taken her eyes from Ashley. Taking in her emotion. All of this on top of her dream last night, Stella knew this was all going to be too much for her.

Ashley is still transfixed, the reporter, states that they can now go live to the courthouse. The image changes to courthouse steps, and reporters, lots of reporters, and then there he is, Ellis, standing and smiling, with a sleazy lawyer, who is wearing a matching gleaming smile. Ellis begins to speak.

"Thank you all for coming out here. The support I've had has been amazing. I have always maintained my innocence. Ten years ago, I was carrying out God's work, and I firmly believe that the decision to release me is the correct one, in God's eyes and under his Laws. And now that I'm a free man, I can continue in my quest to bring God's teachings to the rest of the country. My first stop will be some unfinished business in New York. Thank you so much for your time."

Ashley froze at his last statement, terrified, it was obvious what he meant, how did he even know where she was now? She had moved from Boston to Detroit and then to New York. He must have been following her, and her career. Ashley couldn't keep it in any longer the nausea that was racking her body. She would never make it to the bathroom, so the waste bin would have to do.

Stella's blood is boiling. She is over to Eden in a second, rubbing her back. Mac instantly has his brain in gear.

"Lindsay, look after Eden, Stella my office now."

Stella throws daggers at Mac, the last thing she wants to do right now is leave Eden. But she reluctantly follows, looking back at her as she follows Mac out of the room; she is currently in an embrace with Lindsay. Their eyes meet, Stella tries to smile reassuringly and apologetically at Eden, she just smiles back. Stella can tell she is terrified.

Stella impatiently follows Mac into his office. He sighs, rubbing his temples. Stella doesn't wait for him to speak.

"Right so what are we going to do, he made it apparent he's coming after her?" Stella is agitated, and defiant, she will kill this man before she lets him touch a hair on Eden's head.

"I don't know what we can do Stella."

"Are you serious, that man tried to kill her, he has just threatened, to kill her again on national TV."

"Stella, calm down, I'm as mad about this as anyone, but the man has been released, he hasn't done anything wrong. We can't arrest him. All we can do is be extra vigilant with Ashley, make sure she's never alone."

Stella can't believe what she's hearing, deep down she knows Mac is right, what can they do, until he steps out of line again? But she can't bear the thought of Eden living in fear.

"What for the rest of her life? She can't live like that. She is terrified of this man; she can't live her life always worried about if he's around the next corner."

"Stella, believe me, if he ends up in New York, I will be watching his every move and as soon as he steps out of line, with anything, I will fall on him like a ton of bricks. But until that happens my hands are tied."

"Well that's just great." Stella was furious, she can feel the tears prick her eyeballs, she needs to compose herself, she needs to be strong for Eden. With this thought, she storms out of Mac's office, in search of Eden, she needs to hold her and tell her everything is going to be okay, in reality of course, she is as scared as Eden is. If not more, she has just gotten Eden into her life, things are finally starting to go right for them, the thought of this monster coming into their lives and ruining everything, she wouldn't let that happen.

After composing herself and having a chat with Lindsay, Ashley had decided to go and wait for Stella in her office. She is sitting waiting patiently, a million thoughts running through her head, the most prevalent is the dream. It had to be a sign. She is not willing to put Stella at risk; she would never forgive herself, if any harm were to come to her.

Stella enters her office expecting that Eden will be waiting for her there; she is relieved when she sees that this is in fact the case. She envelopes her into a hug, and kisses her on the head. She releases her and sits on her desk facing Eden; she can see she is struggling.

"I won't let anything happen to you Shorty." Stella smiles, Eden can't help but reciprocate. But the smile only lasts a millisecond.

"Stella, I can't have you anywhere near me." Stella's face drops.

"What are talking about?"

"Stella if this guy gets any whiff that I'm with someone, that there's someone that I care about." Ashley has to take a breath to keep her composure. "I mean you remember, my dream right?"

"Eden nothing is going to happen to me."

"I know, because I can't take that risk. I think we should stay away from each other, until this gets sorted out."

"Eden we have no idea how long that's going to be, we don't even know if he's going to come after you. You want us to put our lives on hold?"

"Well what's the alternative? I am not putting you in danger, I love you too much. You won't change my mind Stella. I'm sorry."

Ashley storms out of the room, she can't believe Stella doesn't get where she's coming from. Stella sinks into her chair, she can't believe this is happening, she can't blame Eden for the way she's acting, she would be exactly the same, if roles were reversed.

She was determined this was going to get sorted out sooner rather than later, she can't bear to apart from her. Her heart is literally aching already.

Ashley has had an awful night, as much as it kills her to be away from Stella, the thought that Ellis may target her if he knew they were together, that he might get his grubby hands on her, makes it all worthwhile. She has had next to no sleep. And now she was on a B & E, Mac obviously keeping it simple for her. God she hopes this will all be over soon.

She walks up to the house, and is greeted by Flack.

"Hey Ash. How you holding up?" His voice is full of concern, his face full of sincerity.

"I'm okay, didn't get much sleep last night. I see you got babysitting duty today."

"Hey, we all care about you. I for one am not going to let you out of my sight."

"I don't think we need to be wasting your expertise on a B & E though, just leave me with a uniform, surely you've got more important things to be dealing with."

"Nothing is more important than you my sweet." Ashley smirked, she obviously wasn't going to convince him, so she just heads inside. As expected, there doesn't seem to be much to it, the place has been turned over, the large window at the back has been smashed, best place to start she muses to herself. She heads over to the back window, aware that Flack has followed her in.

"Seriously Flack, I don't need another shadow, the fact that you're here is great, but I can't cope with you breathing down my neck."

"Okay, okay, I'm just going to be out front okay, I need to make a call, if you need me just holla okay, How long do you think this will take you?"

"I could do this with my eyes closed; I'll be as quick as I can."

"Cool." Flack exited out of the front door, and Ashley goes back to her broken window and starts dusting for prints.

About five minutes later, Ashley is still dusting for prints, however menial the task is it seems it's doing a good job of taking her mind off things. That is until she hears a banging noise; she looks out of the front window and sees Flack is still on his Cell. She shakes it off, her imagination playing tricks on her. But then she hears the exact same noise. Now she's intrigued, it appears to be coming from the back door, she slowly walks towards the door, there's the noise again.

She grabs the door handle; she still has her latex gloves on, which is good because she still hasn't dusted the handle for prints. She slowly turns the knob and pulls the door towards her.

She is both surprised and unmoved in equal measure. I mean it was inevitable really. There he was standing before her. He certainly hadn't wasted anytime. Ellis.

"Hello Eden." That manic smile from her dreams played on his lips, he hadn't changed, and the only thing she can think is the injustice of it all. How could this great country let a psychopath like this free?

"There's a cop right out front, so I wouldn't do anything stupid. If I as much as raise my voice." Ashley said it with a lot more confidence than she felt.

"You won't raise your voice, you won't do anything. In fact you'll do exactly as I saw, or that pretty curly haired thing you hang around with will be getting a personal introduction."

Unbelievable, how did he know, he'd only gotten out of prison yesterday. Oh well, it doesn't really matter how he knows, just the fact that he did. He had her.

"Follow me Detective Ashley." He waggles his finger at her, motioning her in his direction.

Resigned she follows him out of the back door. Her world was caving in. All she can think about is Stella, how she craves just one last kiss, one last look.

Part 9

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