Ellie sits on the edge of the fountain and looks up at the night sky, listens to the play of the water behind her. Shivering at the chill in the air, she stays where she is, eyes trained on the handful of stars whose glittering radiance is strong enough to push past the lights around the edges of the courtyard. She briefly considers going back into the apartment for a sweater, but discards the idea as useless; a sweater isn't enough to warm her. Not now. Maybe not ever again.
Dropping her gaze to the window of the apartment, a warm and welcoming place where she had felt safe with Devon and Chuck, with Morgan and lately with Sarah, she wonders if she ever knew anything at all. What's true? What's a lie? Is there any difference? She wonders if she'll ever feel safe or at ease, if she'll be able to trust ever again.
On the other side of the glass, Chuck laughs at something Devon says and tugs Sarah down beside him on the couch. Rolling with it, Sarah settles in against him, lays her head on Chuck's shoulder, and Ellie has never seen her brother so happy or so in love. But is it real? Chuck and Sarah had both told her that their relationship had been a cover, a lie, from the start. And Casey, sitting on the arm of a chair with his daughter – his daughter! – seated in the chair beside him, had confirmed that.
The scene melts in her vision, but she doesn't bother to wipe away the tears, instead allowing them to track unchecked down her cheeks.
Her father is dead. Her brother and his girlfriend, her weird next-door neighbor, even Morgan Grimes, the voice of reason and calm in this whole horrific mess, are all spies. And Devon has known about everything for months. Maybe years.
Her sweet, goofy little brother is a spy, full of government secrets that other people feel are worth killing or dying for. Her father, such a powerful if absent force in their lives, had been murdered in front of him, in front of her, for no other reason than because another spy wanted to hurt Chuck.
A shiver takes her again and Ellie crosses her arms over her breasts, spreading her hands over her arms in an attempt to keep the creeping chill at bay.
How can she ever feel safe again?
Blinking back the remaining tears, Ellie Bartowski Woodcomb stands. She wipes the moisture from her face and drops her arms to her sides, straightening her back, her shoulders.
Ellie's world had been turned upside down before. First when their mother abandoned them, leaving Ellie to be the one to raise Chuck, to be a surrogate mother to him and to be a grown-up and take care of things for her father, who was never really there even when he was physically in the house. And again when their father left them, too, and she'd had to juggle med school and a job and helping her brother make it through high school in one piece.
The things she had believed then had turned out to not be true. So many things she believed have turned out to not be true. But as she walks slowly back to the apartment, her home, watching the people within as they talk and laugh together, she understands finally that some things in this crazy, upside down world are true.
She loves Devon and he loves her and he'll never abandon her.
Her brother today is the same sweet, goofy man he was yesterday, but with a few more layers, most of them completely unexpected.
Her brother's loser friend has grown up to be a good and brave man.
Sarah and Chuck love each other.
And that all of these people, after all they've been through, are her family. Even John Casey.
She isn't alone.
Smiling, Ellie walks through the door into the warmth and light of her family and her home.