A/N: I was telling myself I wouldn't do an epilogue, and I hope you guys aren't mad at me for making you wait so long. Thanks to MoonlitxAngel for inspiring me to do one! Now that I've developed Riley's character a lot more in Denver's Finest, as well as got some things hammered out in regards to the Cobras, I feel like I'm finally ready for an epilogue. Well, here it is, the final chapter of Ellie and Jason's journey. Please let me know what you think, you wonderful people!
Jason sat crouched on top of the wooden beam attached to the front wall of the barn, watching as the lamp dangling below him swayed slightly in the breeze. He was about thirty feet off the ground, but he wasn't afraid of heights. This was his favourite spot to sit, watching the citizens of Jackson County mill about below. The blue sky didn't have a single cloud in it, and the sun warmed his face as he closed his eyes in bliss, feeling the silence and wind caress him like Mother Nature's fingers were gently stroking his unruly dark brown hair.
It had been two weeks since Riley left, newly crowned as queen of her little tribe of survivors. He missed her and Pixie dearly, and he hoped that she hadn't forgotten about visiting him. Ellie also seemed to miss them, but at least she was happy she didn't have to fight over him. She missed the horse more than Riley, though.
Joel had been wary of him spending so much time with his adopted daughter, and it was obvious he hadn't forgotten about the night he came back, catching him coming out of Ellie's room. Jason chuckled at the memory, reminiscing about Ellie's kiss, her sleeping in the moonlight. Joel, being the typical overprotective father he was, hadn't allowed Jason into his house again unless he was there. He definitely didn't allow him in Ellie's room again, so he just had to be content with making out with her behind the barn, or on their nighttime horse rides.
"What'cha doing up there, Blue Jay?" For a moment, Jason thought Riley had come back. Then he remembered Ellie picking up on the nickname after Riley had left. His heart fell for a second, but it lifted again as he spotted Ellie's red hair blowing in the breeze, tied back in its usual ponytail. She wore her usual red t-shirt with the black sweater underneath, along with jeans. She never left the house without wearing a long-sleeved shirt, even on a hot summer day like today. Nobody else but him, Joel, Tommy and maybe Maria knew about the bite mark, or her immunity. Not even Jason's parents knew.
"Nothing…Just thinking. Why don't you come up here?" Jason smiled down at her, dangling his long legs over the side of the wooden beam. It was a sturdy piece of wood; it would hold both of them.
"How the fuck do you expect me to get up there? You know I heights, dumbass!" Ellie complained, tucking a stand of loose hair behind her ear.
"Well I don't plan on coming down." Jason teased, lying on his stomach and draping one arm over the side of the beam. Ellie always likened him to a pigeon; she always found him curled up in the most uncanny and uncomfortable-looking places. On a roof, lying on one of the rafters in the barn, pretty much any place she was unable to climb to without help. Which was most places.
Ellie picked up a good-size rock at her feet. She weighed it experimentally in her hand, glancing up at Jason with a devious look in her green eyes. "Then I'll make you." Ellie threw the rock as hard as she could, smirking as it nicked Jason's calf. He yelped in surprise. "I have more where those came from, bird-boy!"
Jason groaned; it would only get worse the longer he made her wait. "Fine. You asked me to come down, so I'll come down." He spied his favourite pile of straw near the barn door, which he set up himself, much to his father's distaste. He considered it a waste of straw, but for Jason it was the perfect landing cushion. He stood up, balancing on his toes, and then launched himself gracefully off the beam. The wind whistled through his hair, and he flipped himself so he landed on his back in the straw. The first time Ellie had seen him perform the jump she had screamed, thinking he wanted to commit suicide. Now she just rolled her eyes, affectionately picking straw out of his hair.
"I will never get used to that. You scare the shit out of me every time, Blue Jay. Why does Riley call you that, anyway? It's a weird name. I mean, who the hell name their friends after birds?" Ellie queried, helping her boyfriend out of the straw pile. Instead he pulled her towards him, wrapping her in his lanky arms.
"It's a long story that involves sniper rifles and shooting contests." Jason chuckled, pecking Ellie on the lips as she settled herself on top of him.
"You and I should have a shooting contest. See how many cans we can shoot off the fence." Ellie kissed him back, resting her chin on his chest.
"Like you'd win. I was shooting Clickers from a sentry tower before you even learned how to hold a gun. There's no way you can beat me." Jason drawled lazily, winding his fingers through the loose strands of Ellie's hair. He never got tired of how it looked like fire in the sunlight.
Ellie scoffed indignantly, rolling off of him. "Wanna bet? First one to shoot five cans off the fence gets to watch the loser clean all the stalls in the barn."
Jason smirked at her, standing up and shaking her hand. "You're on, Ells. Get the pitchfork ready."
30 seconds and eight bullet-riddled cans later, Jason leaned against Beauty's stall door as Ellie tossed horse manure and soiled straw into a wheelbarrow. He breathed in the scent of horse and victory, pushing his damp hair back with one hand. "You know, you never really told me about how you learned to do all that stuff, jumping from thirty feet up, sneaking around without making noise, and shooting eight cans in under thirty seconds."
Jason rolled up the left sleeve off his blue plaid shirt, tapping his tattoo. Ellie cocked her head, rubbing the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. "You learned that in the military? Back in Denver?"
"I learned a bunch of shit back when I was a Cobra. They taught me everything from stealth to sword fighting. Not that I had much use for swords, but…they did help in charges." Jason shrugged, frowning as a visible shudder ran through Ellie's body. She must have imagined him slicing someone to bits from horseback, which wouldn't be far from the truth.
"You know how to use a fucking sword? Do you still have it?" She asked incredulously.
Jason nodded. "It helped me a lot getting out of Denver with my parents. I still have a lot of my old Cobra stuff. I can show you, if you want." He offered, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. He hadn't used any of his weapons other than his guns and knife since he had given up the Cobra life for good. He couldn't bring himself to get rid of it, though. It was in his blood now. It was a permanent part of him.
"Can you? That would be awesome! You never told me much about them. Did you sneak around Denver doing stealth missions and riding Pixie?" Ellie asked excitedly, doubling her speed so she could get the mucking done faster.
"Something like that. I uhh…don't like to talk about it much. Basically, I was assigned to kill people, and I killed them. At first I fought with the military, and then I fought against it. Then everything went to shit and I ended up here." Jason explained vaguely. During his last few weeks in Denver, long after Riley had left with members of the Fireflies and Cobras, the lights had gone out. The generators were down for good, and there was a full-scale war between the military and what was left of the Fireflies. It wasn't safe to go outside, blood ran in the gutters and dead littered the streets.
"Oh…did you go with Riley?" Ellie asked warily, dumping soiled straw into the wheelbarrow. She was on her second stall now. Only a few more to go.
"No…Riley left months before me. Five and a half months, to be exact." Jason answered. He remembered the night she had left, along with a small caravan of other ex-soldiers and horses under the cover of night. At least Ian had delivered on his promise of keeping Riley safe. He felt bad for killing the boy now, but dwelling on it wouldn't bring him back.
"Did she know you were a Cobra?"
"She found that out while I was stuck in her settlement, and she wasn't too happy about it. Before that, she had no idea." Jason winced, remembering Riley's foot connecting with his ribs.
"Oh…why didn't you ever tell her?"
"Well, for one thing, I couldn't talk. Another thing was…I needed to leave my old life behind, including the people in it. Only my parents knew I was a Cobra, and they were threatened with their lives if they told anyone else. We liked to keep secrets." Jason scraped the dirt out from under his fingernails as Ellie finished the last stall.
"Everyone has their reasons, I guess. C'mon, show me your stuff." Ellie could relate to the importance of keeping secrets. Sometimes it saved your life. She placed the pitchfork by the wheelbarrow, following Jason as he led her to the tack room. He pushed aside the cabinet, revealing a sort of small trap door underneath. He lifted up the concrete tile, setting it aside.
The hole underneath was shallow and lined with straw, tightly packed around the edges. It was no bigger than Ellie's shoes put together and about as deep as her elbow. Inside was a black heap of leather, clearly a coat judging by the neatly folded sleeves and hood. Another strip of leather was coiled on top, the tiny sleeves on it empty. Next to the coat was a belt that was lined with various pouches, and also a folded scabbard made of brown leather that looked like it was meant to hold something large and long.
Ellie reached for the belt with the pouches, but Jason stayed her hand. "I still have dangerous stuff in here, Ellie. Smoke bombs, maybe a couple grenades. Poison vials. Throwing knives." He warned, and Ellie retracted her hand.
"Poison vials? What the hell did you use poison for?" She gave him a scrutinizing look.
Jason smiled grimly. "You don't want to know."
The girl took his word for it as he carefully pulled the different belts from the compartment, checking the pouches. It was true, he did have two vials of clear liquid. He set them carefully aside, and Ellie pointed to the leather scabbard. "What's that for?"
"It attaches to a saddle or my belt and lets me carry a sword. The actual sword is under my bed, you know, for emergency purposes. Damn, I haven't worn these things for a whole year…" Jason took the black leather jacket out, shrugging it on and feeling the familiar weight of the Kevlar lining inside the jacket. It still fit him, but then again he hadn't grown much during the year.
"Put the rest of the stuff on, I want to see you in full uniform. Please?" Ellie pleaded at Jason's reluctant look. He sighed and strapped the belts on; one across his chest and the other around his waist. He looked inside the straw-lined hole and jammed a few throwing knives through the sleeves sewn onto his pouch belt. Ellie watched as he zipped the coat up; it fell almost to his knees, but unlike a regular coat it had a slit in the back and the front, allowing for more freedom of movement. Jason flipped the hood up, obscuring his face in shadow. Only his devilish smirk showed as he bent his arms outward, showing his full uniform. It was heavier than he remembered, but he hadn't worn the jacket in a full year.
Ellie stood back, admiring him. "Wow. You look good in leather." The jacket hugged his lean figure; the leather still retained his body shape even after twelve months of not being worn.
Jason chuckled. "Riley said the same thing. She never said I looked good in anything, so I thought she had gotten knocked off her rocker when she said that."
A flash of jealousy flitted across Ellie's face, but it was gone as soon as it had come. She was about to comment, but Jason put a hand up, standing stock-still. "Do you hear that?"
Ellie listened for two seconds, then three. She shrugged. "I don't hear anything. Are you making shit up?"
Jason ignored her, poking his head out the tack room door. He turned to Ellie, smiling ear to ear. With the hood on, he just looked sadistic and terrifying. Ellie could now imagine how frightening it would have been to have a Cobra sneak up on you in the dark, smiling like that right before they killed you. "Distract Riley and Izzy for me. They're here. Riley's going to freak when she sees me in this!" Jason was practically shaking with excitement as he slipped out the back door of the barn. Ellie sighed, striding out the other exit.
Riley smiled as she halted Pixie, Isabelle poking her raven-haired head out from behind her shoulder. She waved to Ellie, dismounting and running to hug the girl. Pixie bobbed her head and nickered in greeting to the redhead, and Ellie let go of Izzy to scratch the horse's nose.
"Hey you guys. What's with the surprise visit?" Ellie greeted as Riley patted Pixie's black and white neck.
"With everything settled back at my place, we decided we'd come say hi." Riley explained as she scanned the area around the barn. "Where's Jason? How is everything with you two, anyway?" She had a slight edge to her voice, as if she still hadn't accepted that Jason wasn't hers anymore.
"He's…around. In the barn, I think. We had a shooting contest and I whopped his ass, so he's cleaning up all the stalls." Ellie scratched the back of her calf with her opposite foot.
Riley narrowed her sapphire eyes at the girl. Izzy giggled, as if she didn't believe that was possible. "Please, Jason's a Cobra. I've seen him shoot twenty Runners dead in one minute, there's no way you could beat him. Neither can I, to be honest...Plus, you're a terrible liar. So where is he hiding?" She folded her elbows expectantly over the horn of Pixie's saddle.
Ellie was about to make a retort, but a ripple of black grabbed Riley's left shoulder and thigh, throwing her off Pixie. The horse shied away as Jason pulled out one of his throwing knives, crouching over Riley. She screamed as Jason hissed and held the blade to her throat, while Ellie steadied Pixie so she wouldn't bolt. Izzy stood by, shaking her head and sighing in exasperation. Ellie couldn't help but giggle at Riley's terrified expression.
It immediately dissolved as her scream turned into laughter, Riley whacking away the knife and pulling Jason's hood away from his face. "Jason, you jackass! You almost scared me shitless!" She exclaimed, throwing her arms around his neck as a joyful smile lit her face. Before she could remember Ellie was watching, she kissed him full on the mouth, frenetic with passion and pure happiness. To Ellie's dismay, Jason returned the kiss, smiling against her lips.
"Hey! I'm still here, you know!" Ellie complained, crossing her arms in annoyance. She made to pull Jason away, but Izzy held her back.
"Don't. They need this." The girl warned. Ellie let out a low hiss, but didn't move.
Jason pulled away after a few more pecks from Riley, his brown eyes glittering with bliss as he nestled his head against her neck. She was still giggling. "Sorry…Force of habit, I guess." Jason smirked, but he didn't get off of Riley. He was as comfortable lying with her as he was standing; there wasn't really a difference to him when he was with her. Riley absently combed her fingers through his hair as he spoke, him playing with her fingers; after years of spending almost every day together, touching and lying with each other became as natural as breathing. "How's everything going with you guys?" Jason asked Riley and Izzy, completely oblivious to the glare Ellie was giving him.
"Great, actually. Everyone's really happy that Dale is gone, and Riley's a natural-born leader. We've been taking good care of Pixie, too. We even got a couple more horses. You should see them. They're big and black with long manes and tails. They're gorgeous!" Izzy piped up excitedly.
Jason raised a curious eyebrow, glancing at Riley. "Big and black, huh? Friesians?" He guessed. Ellie cocked her head, having no clue about horse breeds.
Riley shook her head. "No, they don't have feathers. Could be Hanoverians or Thoroughbreds, we're not sure." She moved her hand down and fiddled with Jason's hood, but her hand froze as her thumb ran over a smoother spot on the inside of his collar. She pulled it back, her brow creasing. "A…blue jay?" She breathed, sitting up. Jason sat up with her and crossed his legs as she inspected the embroidered bird on the inside of his collar. Ellie and Izzy walked over as well, curious.
Jason said nothing, letting the cogs turn in her brain. Ellie didn't have any idea why she was so fascinated with the tiny bird on Jason's collar, no bigger than Riley's thumb. She threw a confused look at Izzy, who had let out a tiny gasp, covering her hand with her mouth.
A voice echoed in Riley's head, and the memory of an eighteen-year-old blond boy surfaced, bringing with it the sting of grief and loss. Every Cobra gets something personal embroidered on their collar. Sort of like an I.D tag. It's something that defines them…or it could be a remnant of their past life… Ian had said to her, long ago in the Denver QZ. He was barely twenty when Jason had killed him, back when he was captured by her father in the settlement. She had buried Ian herself when she had returned from Jackson County, and spent a couple of days mourning for him and the others Jason had killed.
However, that wasn't what struck her about Jason's embroidered blue jay. "I remember this bird…there was this one rogue Cobra with red hair and green eyes, like Ellie. He always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, killing Fireflies instead of soldiers. I never knew when or where he was going to show, but…he was always there when I needed him. He was always there to save me, and he had a blue jay on his collar." She looked into Jason's eyes, trying to imagine him with Ellie's eyes and hair. It wasn't difficult.
"Oh my God, that was you?! Holy shit, now it all makes sense! Damn, the way Riley kissed you before we left…I remember that. Even Jerry was jealous." Izzy spoke what Riley couldn't say. Ellie, again feeling out of the loop, sighed loudly.
"Okay, I am completely lost here. What the fuck are you talking about?" She hated being the odd one out.
"Did Jason tell you about the Cobras?" Izzy whispered as Riley continued staring speechlessly at Jason. It was almost like they communicated telepathically, gazing into each other's eyes. Ellie nodded. "Well, the Cobras were working with the Fireflies and they started a war between them and the military in the Denver QZ. The Cobras used to be part of the military…but then they weren't. But that's not important. Anyway, whenever Riley or any of our squad was in trouble, this one Cobra would always be there to get us out of trouble. We didn't know who he was, and by that time we all thought Jason was dead since he had disappeared. Now I know it was actually Jason!"
Ellie slowly nodded, glancing back at Riley and her boyfriend. "Oh…so he was like a double agent?" Riley looked like she was about to cry.
The blonde girl cupped Jason's cheek, her eyes glimmering with tears. "The things I said to you…God, I'm so sorry…I'm so sorry. I was scared, I didn't know it was you. You…you never broke our promise, did you? You never left me." The tears fell in wet streaks down her face, intermingled with light sobs and a watery smile.
Jason shook his head, cautiously embracing her. He looked to Ellie for approval and she waved him off as Izzy continued to explain the whole situation to her. "It's okay, Ryebread. You didn't know. I couldn't tell you, but I see Ian delivered on his promise, too. He protected you and took care of you, just like I asked him to. I'm sorry I killed him."
Riley pulled away from his embrace, hastily wiping the tears from her eyes. "I miss Ian every day. He always told me you were alive, somewhere. He told me to never give up on you, but as the months went on, he lost hope, too. He taught me how to kiss a guy, you know." A blush tinged her cheeks as Jason's jaw clenched. The memory of her kissing Ian would be something he never forgot.
"He taught you a lot of things girls your age shouldn't know how to do." Jason chided, helping her up. No wonder she had been such a good kisser, or knew exactly where to touch him that made him beg for more.
"Like you're anymore innocent than I am. I bet that during the time between us meeting each other and getting separated, you fucked with every girl your age in school at least once." Riley giggled, only to laugh harder as Ellie and Izzy's mouths dropped open.
"That is so not true! I may have kissed every girl my age in that school, but I am still a virgin." Jason said matter-of-factly, brushing Riley's hair behind her ears.
Riley glanced from her best friend to Ellie and back again. "Pssh, I don't know what you do behind closed doors! Wait…Seriously? You're still a virgin?" She exclaimed incredulously, "What have you two been doing since you met each other? My God, that's hilarious!" She doubled over laughing.
"Kissing, mostly." Jason shrugged. "Ellie's dad would kill me if he caught me in Ellie's room, or if she spent the night in mine. That guy is overprotective as fuck." He rubbed the back of his head, and Ellie nodded in agreement.
"Joel's doesn't like this guy as it is. He's killed people for less." Ellie jerked a thumb towards Jason.
Riley shot Jason a wry smirk. "Wow, you guys are really missing out. I feel bad for you."
Jason glared suspiciously at Riley. An unsettling feeling seeped into his stomach, and bit his lip. "Wait, so you're not…?" He trailed off as Riley shook her head. Jason got a bitter taste in his mouth. "Oh…so who was your first?"
"Guess." Riley still had that smirk plastered on her face. Ellie, for some reason, felt relieved. She let out the breath she didn't know she had been holding. Izzy looked like she knew something Ellie didn't.
"No…no I don't believe you. It couldn't have been." Jason staggered back a step, while Riley gave him a sheepish look.
"We all thought you were dead, Jason. I didn't see you for a whole year and a half. What did you think was going to happen if I was stuck with Ian for so many months?" She sounded indignant, but Ellie thought she was more embarrassed than anything.
"…Did he pressure you?" Jason queried. He seemed disappointed, his shoulders slumped forward a little.
Riley wasn't sure how to answer that question. After a short silence she replied hesitantly, "No…he didn't. If it's any consolation, I wanted my first time to be with you, but…" She let the sentence hang, knowing he would finish it.
"You thought I was dead, I know." Jason filled in, letting out a long sigh through his nose.
"I'm sorry…Are you mad at me?" The blonde girl apologized, chewing her bottom lip. She truly was apologetic, Ellie noticed as Riley averted her eyes.
"I'm not mad, don't worry. Disappointed, but not mad. How long are you planning to stay?" Jason had moved over to Pixie now, who nibbled his hood in appreciation as he scratched her chest. He took the reins from Ellie, leading the Paint horse into the barn. Beauty nickered as her horse friend passed, poking her head out from her stall to greet her. Pixie nipped her muzzle gently, giving a short squeal.
"Aww, they missed each other!" Ellie cooed as she helped Jason untack his horse. Riley and Izzy stood by, looking content as they leaned against a stall door.
"Not long, maybe a couple of days. I really have to get back, I don't like leaving home for too long. Plus, Izzy wants to get back so I can teach her to do horseback archery and beat me at horse racing." Riley ruffled the younger girl's hair, and she giggled as she ducked out of the way.
"Horseback archery's harder than shooting a gun from a horse. You be careful, okay?" Jason warned firmly, and Izzy smiled at him, nodding vigorously.
"Please, what kind of friend would I be if I let her get hurt on my account?" Riley rolled her eyes, sighing good-naturedly. Jason smiled as he laughed, choosing not to dignify her comment with an answer. She turned to Ellie, who was picking the dirt out of Pixie's hooves. "I see you've been taking good care of my Blue Jay, Ellie. He's happy with you."
Ellie nodded, picking up the horse's left hind hoof. "He is. Could you tell him to stop trying to kill himself by jumping from inhumanly high places?" She stuck her tongue out as Jason glared at her.
"I don't know, I think he's addicted to suicide attempts. I can't count how many times I almost died because of his hare-brained shenanigans." Riley squealed as Jason flicked the dirt from Pixie's hooves at her.
"I can hear you, Ryebread." He growled despite the smile playing on his lips.
"You're supposed to." Riley countered.
"Don't make me come over there and shut that pretty mouth of yours."
"I dare you to try." Riley smirked as Jason handed Ellie his curry comb. Ellie belatedly realized that the two were actually flirting with each other. She grabbed Jason's arm before he could cross the aisle and kiss her again.
"Oh no you don't, not again! You have me, remember?" Ellie dragged him back as Riley shot him a victorious sneer. Jason sagged against her as she wrapped her arms around his waist, handing him the brush.
"Right, sorry. Riley knows how to push my buttons. She's a master at distracting me." Jason drawled, resuming his work brushing Pixie. Riley watched him as he did, noting the way the muscles in his shoulders and arms flexed and relaxed from under her eyelashes. He had built more muscle during his time as a Cobra, and didn't look so lanky anymore.
Ellie noticed the blonde's gaze on her boyfriend, and threw her a warning glare. Riley's upper lip twitched as she met her eyes and averted hers, starting up a low conversation with Izzy. Jason, oblivious to the interaction, went to go put Pixie's tack away.
"You're still in love with him, aren't you?" Ellie's voice held no malice, but only sincerity.
Riley shifted her weight from one foot to the other. "I never stopped loving him. He's my best and dearest friend, but he belongs to another. No matter how much I want him, his heart belongs to you. I can't change that." Her voice was almost inaudible, but Ellie could hear the sorrow in it loud and clear.
Ellie wanted to snap at her to move on, to forget about Jason, but she couldn't bring herself to say it. "You guys…share a bond that's unbreakable. That's something I never had, except with Joel. I never had it with someone my age, though. They were always torn away from me. And then I see you and Jason…" She looked at the tack room door; she could hear Jason whistling. Izzy occupied herself with petting Beauty, marveling at the size of the Clydesdale. Riley knew she was listening.
"If there's one thing I know about Jason, it's that he never abandons those he cares about. We'll always love each other deeply as friends, but as I said before he was never mine to keep. He loves you too, Ellie. He's the one guy who's there no matter what, whether you want him to be or not. All I can say is…no matter how much he gets on your nerves, love him back. He'll always find a way to return to you." Riley genuinely smiled at Ellie, and she smiled back. Jason returned from the tack room and gave the two girls a quizzical glance.
"You guys were talking about me, weren't you? I can tell, Riley's blushing." Jason smirked as Riley leered at him. Nevertheless, her cheeks were pink.
"You'd always come back, wouldn't you?" Ellie asked him, and Jason smirked as if he thought the question was ludicrous.
"Yeah, 'course. You should know me by now, I can't keep my hands off you." Jason purred as he snaked his arms around Ellie from behind, pecking her on the cheek. "Is Riley being all profound again?" He pursed his lips in Riley's direction, and she waved her fingers at him.
Ellie giggled, leaning into him. She noticed Riley smile again as she motioned her head to the exit. Izzy understood and the pair left the barn silently. "Maybe. Just don't forget about her, okay? We both need you."
Jason remained silent for a moment, resting his chin on Ellie's shoulder. "Okay, now you're just acting weird. What did you guys talk about?" He drawled, saying the words against her neck. He felt Ellie shiver, and pecked her again.
"You, obviously. Riley told me you're always loyal to the people you love, and no matter how many fucking times you scare me, you'll always be there for me. I just…I've lost too many people I care about, and I guess what I'm saying is that I don't want to add you to that list." It was hard for Ellie to bring up her past, and Jason doubted she had told many people about it. She had told him about her whole journey with Joel, from Boston to Salt Lake City and back to Jackson County, and he understood it was difficult for her to trust people. He had watched his friends die, too.
"Riley's right. I may be addicted to suicide attempts and getting myself into trouble, but I'll always find a way back. I found my way back to you, didn't I?" Jason murmured after a moment of quiet, letting out a contented breath.
Ellie imperceptibly nodded, turning herself around him his arms and letting him hold her head against his chest. "Kiss me?" She requested, slightly pulling away from him so she could look into his eyes. They shined with nothing but love and happiness.
"Whatever you want, Ellie." Jason smiled as he kissed her, sweetly and lightly. When he pulled away he rested her forehead against hers, gazing deep into her emerald eyes. "I love you, Ellie. I always will."
"I love you too, Jason." She replied simply, exhaling a happy sigh as she rested her head on his chest. Inside her heart was leaping, joyful that she had finally found someone who, no matter where he went or what he did, would return to her safe and sound.
Fin. (For real this time.)