Clone Haven's Ship-of-the-month weekly prompt "Falling Leaves" Rex/Echo
Set somewhere in the space time continuum of the Clone Wars and the Bad Batch.
Sometimes, old flames are better left to simmer down. Other times though, the roaring fire just gets out of hand and then? Well, all you can do is, to follow your heart and let the flames consume you.
Echo and Rex revisit the once burning hot flames of a relationship they had shared ever so briefly in the past. Before the Techno Union, before the war ended.
A slight misstep during a mission leading to severe injuries for Echo.
In the aftermath of the recovery of Echo, leaves Rex to rethink their past and what could have been. And so, a confession, with an invite to enjoy some time off in the most perfect scenery imaginable.
And then what happens?
Part of the Echo/Rex series
New times, new purpose, new way of thinking
'The times are a changing, but it does not mean we have outlived our purpose of being useful.'
"Where have you been Rex?"
Echo's words blurted out of his mouth before even a single hello was uttered.
With a hint of a smirk, Rex could only give a rather vague response to his former Arc Trooper.
"That, would be a long story."
"Well, we have nowhere else to be, so do, spill."
Wrecker had laughed, only too happy to have his second favourite reg back.
"Provided you offer me a drink. As I am parched!"
Rex had laughed, but his request had been fulfilled, the Batchers only too happy to comply as it had been a rather pleasant surprise to find out Rex was still with them.
The stories shared over drinks, the happenings since they had all last met and worked together. Since before the war ended. And well, things had not turned out so well to those who did not sign up for the imperial agenda by free will or otherwise.
The rogue clones as someone had so fondly put it. Only for Rex, it had been even more different as he had been listed as killed in action. Surely, a good thing to be in the eyes of the Empire.
As it turned out, Rex was running his an op of his own now. Deep behind the dark shadows of the Empire. Far away from the reaches of the mighty ones having taken over the galaxy practically over night. Rex, helping those who could not help themselves.
It had taken some effort, despite Rex helping the Batchers to remove their control chips, that Echo had managed to convince Hunter of them joining with the former Captain's cause.
But, knowing well by now which buttons to push and the fact that the rest of them, namely Tech and Wrecker would fall into line if only Hunter made the decision. As Crosshair was still pretty much in the wind, held deep in the clutches of the Empire.
But there were promises made by Rex. That perhaps they could help get the missing sniper back to the fold, if the Bad Batch would join him. Strength in numbers and all that.
And so, after a few weeks since their reunion, Clone Force 99 as it was now, still missing a crewman, landed the Havoc Marauder in the small landing bay of Rex's new and very secret base.
Rex greeted the team with a wide grin on his face and hefty handshakes.
Having been waiting for them to debark the ship, with another rescued clone, Gregor by his side. As with no small thanks to the Bad Batch, who had aided in getting the commando escape the Empire.
"You all remember Gregor."
Hunter grabbed the offered arm to shake, having already gotten acquainted, even if briefly with the always smiling clone after his rescue.
"How are you?"
"Doing better than ever!"
Gregor laughed, his mood catching, always seeing the brighter side of things.
"Best decision I've ever made while defecting the Empire!"
While the others gathered around Gregor, Echo and Rex had a private moment to themselves.
"I am really glad you managed to convince Hunter to join us."
Rex's tone was lower, even if there were no real secrets shared between him and Echo as they chatted. Just, the mood of their conversation keeping their voices low.
Echo grinned, as even if it had taken some effort, Hunter was not stupid. And this was their best choice for survival in the long run, being together with their kin.
"Nothing to it, Rex. Hunter knows what the Empire is doing is wrong. But also, what you and the others do here is the way we should be doing things as well. Helping people."
Rex placed his hand on top of Echo's shoulder, patting it ever so gently and with a hint of mirth in his tone then said.
"And I am sure you used all the best tricks in your play book just the same."
Knowing how persuasive Echo could be when he wanted to be. Having all the right facts presented to whomever he was trying to convince. And if that did not work? Well, bringing up all the guilty cards was the next best option.
It had worked on Rex in the past and he was sure it had worked on Hunter too.
Echo laughed out loud, surprising the others in doing so. As he rarely did that these days. Laugh. But it seemed, that Rex was able to pull that out of him.
"I am sure I only stated the facts."
Echo added then, as the two of the joining the rest of the group.
"Echo is right."
Hunter chimed in just then, having realised what Rex and Echo had discussed.
"This is our place to be. The best choice for the team."
Hunter assured Rex as much as he did his own team of the very same.
"Well, I am very touched and happy of that fact."
Rex simply stated rather solemnly even if he was elated Clone Force 99 had decided to join his little cause. The group continued chatting further while settling into the place, getting a small tour of the overall area in the process.
It was really good, being with the other vode for Echo. Even if he loved his Batch, his new family.
Still, having been part of Rex's squad, one of his Arcs and together the two of them having spent endless hours in plotting and planning against the separatist back in the Clone War. But there had been more there too, between them. And well, guess one could say, that the two of them had been lovers, even if there really had been no labels on their relationship way back then.
Well, guess that was all ancient history. Echo did not even want to dwell on the what had been and what could have been if the war had not ended and Order 66 had not happened.
As of now, Echo was only too happy to be reunited with Rex and the other clones working with him. Having his new Batch with him there as well. Wanting only to be on the side of the good fight against the Evil Empire. Just as he had wanted ever since the very beginning.
And so now, here they were. Becoming part of the resistance, whatever that meant for them all. But surely it was so much better than simply galavanting aimlessly around the galaxy. Working on shady gigs as mercenaries just to get their ends to meet.
The mission's outcome is not always what excepted
'This might just be the way we are doing things from now on, something real and easy to live with.'
"Echo, Echo! Hang in there! We are almost at the base!"
Hunter's worried voice was begging for Echo to hear him to stay with them.
But Echo was not responding. Not to the pleads of his squad mates, not to the words he could hear. As his mind was slowly sinking, into the darkened abyss. A familiar place Echo had been in before. It had been a place of comfort as much as it had been a place of horror and the very place for the remnants of his lingering nightmares.
The wound was deeper than visible on the surface.
Tech's scanners had detected it though, the source of all the blood spilling out of Echo's torso. It was so close to his heart, they did not dare to remove the shrapnel away, afraid to damage him even further. The only thing Tech could do was trying to stabilise Echo and hope for the best.
They were flying back to Rex's base in fast speed. Their mission, albeit a success, but at the very end, a remnant from the war, a land mine, having exploded right where Echo had been standing at. The others getting off with a few scratches. But Echo had endured the bulk of it, with the ugly piece of metal now sticking out from his chest plate.
"Echo, please, if you can hear me, give me a squeeze."
Hunter was holding Echo's hand, not prepared to let go of him, not even to death. Not again, even if the first time around had not been his to give in.
But there was no squeeze, no movement whatsoever from Echo. As he simply laid there, his eyes half open staring right in front of him, seeing nothing. And soon, he was not hearing anything his family was telling him. As the abyss, had engulfed him, fully.
Rex boulted into the Marauder as soon as it had landed with a loud thud onto the platform of the hangar bay.
Omega had alerted him of Echo's status while on route, having piloted the ship with Wrecker back to their home base. She had tried to sound less panicky even if she knew Echo's condition was pretty much touch and go at the moment. But she had not wanted Rex to worry either, having seen how close the two men were. Sensing Rex cared for Echo a good deal more than either of them had led on.
Rex was inside the ship and rushing through to the back, to the makeshift med bay. Two medics followed him suit. With a hover stretcher to get Echo safely to the medical area of the base, which they luckily had fully stocked with most medicines and devices, even several medical droids as well working there.
"What is Echo's condition."
Rex tried to sound calm, but the inside of him was in total turmoil.
After hearing the news, that Echo had been wounded on the mission, Rex had paced around in the base and his unconscious mind having conjured up the worst case scenarios. Rex's mantra having been though, that he could not lose Echo. Not again.
"He is, stable."
Tech, after having constantly monitored Echo during the flight back, sounded subdued and his tone was low and worried.
Hunter looked like he had been crying. And he had. As loosing yet another member of their family, was simply too much to handle at this point for the leader of the wayward group.
"We had no idea it was there…"
Hunter was trying to explain what had happened. But he was kind of out of it, the grief having a hold of him and so, unable to form sentences.
"It was an old land mine."
Tech covered for him quickly.
"It was not showing up on the scanners."
But Rex did not care what it was having caused Echo's injury. As all he could think of was getting Echo to the med bay and under proper care.
"Excuse us Captain."
The two clone meds then interrupted the discussion and quickly made their way to Echo and checked him over before placing him on the hover stretcher.
"We'll take care of him."
The other medic, Healer, told Rex, who simply nodded his response and let the medics do their job.
As the two medics took Echo with them, Rex followed them without further words to either Tech or Hunter. Omega and Wrecker having also joined the other two, simply looked on as Echo was being moved away.
Echo was lying on the med bed. Hooked up to all the machinery imaginable.
Rex had only seen him like this, while back on Skako Minor, when Echo was a prisoner of the Techno Union and was being hooked up to their machines. The cryo pod.
But this was nothing like that now. Something which Rex needed to remind himself of. Because these were giving Echo everything he needed to recover from the horrid ordeal, of almost having been blown up. Again.
Oh the irony of it all!
Rex was sitting by the bed of Echo's. Having not left even once. Even if the others had offered to watch over Echo in his stead. But they had all come and gone, and Rex had stayed. And he would stay, until Echo was awake.
Rex was gently caressing Echo's hand, speaking out soft, assuring words to him. Wanting Echo to know, he would be alright. And that they were all rooting for him. But especially Rex. Because he needed Echo to be okay. He had just gotten Echo back, once again, and now? Well, there was no option in Rex's mind, other than Echo recovering.
The images from the past, the old memories haunting Rex still, as he kept on stroking Echo's hand. Whispering the words he hoped Echo would be able to hear.
Because Rex needed Echo to come back. To him.
"Echo, please, I need you to wake up."
Rex paused, the lump in his throat making it difficult for him to continue talking. But he pressed on. Because he needed to say things to Echo, things left unsaid in the past. And Rex did not want to repeat the same mistake. Not again.
"I need you to come back. Because…" Rex paused and looked at the sleeping Echo.
"Because... because I love you."
The words said out loud, but with a soft whisper.
What do you mean we are not coming with you?
'Jealousy? Surely not! It's not a pretty colour on anyone!'
"What do you mean you are going off the grid? And without us?"
Tech demanded of Echo, not really sure as to why the only recently recovered man even wanted to take off on some half cocked outing and without his squad, his family no less.
Echo had been packing for the trip. A sort of a camping trip out to the wilderness of the planet the base was on. Because it was the changing of the seasons and the colours alone were a reason good enough to simply go and get out there, for a walkabout if nothing else. Knowing also, how much Tech loved to record everything special and not so special too… well, it had not been an easy decision for Echo to leave his Batch behind.
Then again, no one was stopping the others of taking out there on their own either. Naturally, the Batch all did things together. Always. As clones mostly travelled in packs. So, there was that.
But, this was just something Echo needed to do right now.
Having gotten Rex back in their lives. Not to mention the close call Echo had had. Once again. Having endured the whole medical bay stay for a full two weeks. Well, sometimes, it was good to get away from one's loved ones. Because that time spent away, would make Echo appreciate them even more. Of that fact alone he was sure of.
And besides, Rex had only invited him, Echo, not the whole Bad Batch.
There was something Echo had seen in Rex though after his little, incident. Some kind of shift in Rex's behaviour towards Echo. It had been there ever since Rex had stayed in the med bay with hi, after the accident, waiting for Echo to wake up. Rex still been holding Echo's hand when he finally woke up from the comatose state he had been under.
Echo had hardly forgotten the whatever it was they had had before he had blown up in the Citadel. But, the two of them had never put a name on it. Sure, there was Fives too from Echo's past to consider. But somehow, it had always been more on the friendly scale of things between for the two remaining Dominos back then. Even with the mutual benefits they had been sharing.
But with Rex, Echo had felt a much deeper connection. The one where perhaps the L-word could have come to play if it had developed further. But neither of them had said it. Not out loud at least. Echo had felt it though.
But, with the war and being constantly planning, scheming and battling… Well, there really had been little time for the two of them to deepen whatever it was which had started kindling between them.
Now, they were both free people. Well, as free as anyone could be under the joke of the Empire.
Sensing there was something Rex wanted or rather needed to talk to Echo about. But, perhaps, it was simply all in Echo's mind. Him overthinking things. And this, was just a friendly outing after all.
The offered time off, taking them to the outback was a Force sent. As Echo was still recovering and there were others running ops at the moment. Gregor was in charge while Rex was away and the only thing which remained to settle for Echo, was the Batchers.
As of now, they had all gathered around him, clearly, letting Echo know they were none too pleased to see him take off. On his own. Well, with Rex. But still, without them. Echo's Batch.
Echo let his gaze roam the room, from face to face before he replied to Tech's demanding query.
"It's only for a few days. Rex, well, there is something we need to settle. Between the two of us. So, it is better if we do this, just the two of us."
It wasn't totally the truth, nor a lie either. As for now, the reason behind the invite of Rex's was only speculation for Echo.
"So, then can we all go? After you're back? Together?"
Omega sounded like she was about to lose the best friend she had forever. All choked up and teary eyed.
Echo leaned in and was face to face with the girl, caressing her cheek gently. With a hint of a smile on his face though, even if he was upset for Omega being so out of it because of him.
"Omega, I will be away, three days tops. Then, I am all yours."
Omega half demanded, looking at Echo with a sad expression.
"I promise you."
Echo turned back to the rest of the sad faces.
"All of you."
"You mean it?"
It was Wrecker's turn to guilt trip Echo, as the big guy was most likely the most upset of them all. Well, perhaps they all were equally so. Only Wrecker showed his frustration without any hiding of his emotions.
Echo placed a hand on top of the bigger man's shoulder.
"And we can go anywhere we choose?"
Tech piped in again, wanting to know the rules of the game, most likely recording it all too for any future arguments.
"We can go anywhere you four choose."
Echo promised Tech as much.
After all, he owed them all. Big time. This was the first time they were apart since Echo had joined the group. And it was a big thing, for all of them. Even Echo himself.
"I will hold you to that promise."
Hunter had a hint of a smile on his face, even if this was no joking matter for any of them.
Echo simply smiled and picked up his bag.
"Well, see you all in a few!"
He tried to wave goodbye, but before Echo knew what hit him, the other four had surrounded, grabbed a hold of him and bunched all up into a tight group hug.
Camping in an autumn scene (just the two of us)
'The old school way of spending time, out from the daily norm, out there, in the nature, with the ones, you truly love.'
Rex and Echo were seated comfortably around the camp fire as the sun had started to set. Having a talk about the past, the present and the, well, their future among so many things.
The autumn scenery pretty around them. The colours, the smells, and the soft sounds of nature, even the critters and other sort of creatures calling it a night as the sun was almost gone and the darkness was upon. The leaves rattling in the still warm winds as the planet had an ideal temperature of never too warm and too cold.
Some of the fallen leaves were scattered across the grounds close by, bringing colour and brightness to the soft beige sandy ground around them.
It was a moment of leisure for both of them. The camaraderie, the friendship between the two former troopers, just like it had been before. As if nothing had happened between then and now, even if it seemed like a life time ago.
But a lot had happened since those times Rex and Echo had been burning the midnight oil. Planning and plotting together, sharing soft touches while doing so. And when the work had been done, the two of them having shared a bed and their bodies for the comfort it had brought to both parties having someone who cared enough.
Making love to the early morning hours even if the next day would bring more work for the soldiers of war. But it had not mattered to either of them, while living on caf and adrenaline to fend off fatigue.
The thought of it all, still bringing a smile on Echo's face as he was reminded of those good and bad times.
But those times were gone, Echo knew as much. Still, spending time with Rex now, alone, undisturbed, unhurried, was something Echo had not even realised he had needed.
So, here the two of them were. Chatting like no time had passed between them.
There was no discomfort, at least nothing either of them could sense from the other. With Rex sharing things of his cause, which the Batchers had only scratched the surface of even if they were now officially part of it. Echo sharing some funny anecdotes of the Bad Batch's time working for Cid.
Echo did not want to bring up the matter of Crosshair though.
As the team had hoped, that Rex would help them. To somehow aid in bringing their missing family member back to the fold. Hunter had made the request upon joining, but for the moment, Echo had preferred leave that matter to be discussed at a later moment.
As this time was reserved for the two of them. Echo and Rex.
There was a moment of silence after the walk down memory lane. Echo and Rex simply basking in the moment and the fact that they were finally together.
Rex was poking the fire. Seemingly at ease. But there was something inside of him, which he had yet to share with Echo. Something whispered in the silence of the dim lit medical bay a few weeks back when Echo had lain on the bed, sleeping away his pain.
But Rex felt jittery on the inside. Not sure if he was ready to tell Echo how he really felt and what had been the ultimate reason for Rex to invite Echo on this trip. Not that Rex wasn't enjoying his time with his friend. Still, there were things he wanted to share with Echo, now that they were once again reunited.
Rex had given several side way glances at Echo, while they had been chatting. Nothing unusual there, glances shared between friends. But those glances had lingered a while longer, if there was such at thing as too long of a glance between friends, Rex did not really know.
Only Rex's glances had lingered on Echo, his lips, his eyes, taking in the form of the former Arc Trooper, admiring the now less familiar form of the man. But despite the changes Echo had endured to his body, there was nothing Rex did not like there. The cybernetics only enhancing the uniqueness of that which wash Echo. Rex's Echo.
Or at least, he had used to be, Rex's Echo.
And now? Rex needed to find the courage to bring the thing he wanted to say up.
Having already spoken the words out when he was pretty sure Echo could not hear him? That kind of made Rex wonder why he had said it at all, if he did not want Echo to know how he felt for the man.
Rex kept on giving glances at Echo's direction as the silence between them stretched.
Echo sensed there was something going on with Rex. But whatever it was, clearly, he was nervous talking to Echo about it. Whatever it was? Well, Echo and Rex had been through a lot together. Shared a lot too. And despite the gap of time lost between them, Echo wanted Rex to know Rex could tell Echo anything. So, deciding to break the silence which had fast becoming rather awkward even after the comfortable time spent so far.
"Rex, if there is something you need to tell me, please do so. You know you can trust me with anything, right."
It wasn't really that Echo was asking rather stating it, as he was pretty sure Rex still trusted him. No matter what.
Echo started to suspect it was something about the Batch though and Rex was thinking he could not share it with Echo as they were a pretty tight knit group. The lot of them, Echo being a part of said group.
Rex looked back up and at Echo from the fire he had been staring for a moment too long.
Gazing into Echo's waiting eyes, he felt the pressure at first. Then, slowly but surely, as Echo held his eyes, Rex felt more and more at ease. And so, deciding to take the plunge, he finally let out the one thing having been kept hidden inside of him for the longest while. Finally stating out loud for Echo to hear, well, for the second time really. But now, Echo was awake and had his, ear.
"I want you to know, that I have missed you. A lot. And having you here now, alone, with me…"
Rex felt the lump forming in his throat, feeling totally raw exposing his inner most feelings to Echo. But, soldiering on and get everything out he needed to say, now that he had Echo's full attention.
"I wanted to bring you here, after what happened…"
Rex paused again, having a difficult time in continuing still, clearly, his voice growing more coarse by each passing moment as well.
Echo having realised what the topic of Rex's revelation really was about. Having nothing to do with the Batch it seemed, rather… Well, Echo dared only to hope what the outcome of Rex's confession at this point would be.
But seeing the distress Rex was in, Echo moved away from his spot and took the seat next to Rex, placing a comforting arm around his friend.
Rex felt the shivers, the good kind all over his body as Echo touched him. But, he needed to speak up, before his own courage failed him. So, he continued.
"When I saw you injured, laying there on the med bed, I realised something."
Rex looked right into Echo's eyes then.
"I realised I did not want to lose you. Ever again and that…"
Rex gulped, Echo's soft gaze on him, seeing something there Rex could only dare to hope mirrored his own feelings. And so, encouraged further…
"I love you Echo. I always have. And I want to be with you. As a couple."
There it was, all laid out.
No backsies, no hiding behind a mask of command, rules or regulations, nor anything else for that matter. Not any more. Rex had spilled his honest guts out for Echo to hear and now, he could only hope and wait whether Echo was to respond in kind.
Rekindling old flames - or - fire it up!
'It might have been rather lukewarm there for a while, but the flames are positively burning now!'
The tent was cramped.
They had brought two with them, one for each. But at the moment, neither Rex nor Echo cared about such things. Having crowded themselves into the one, lying on top of each other, which was kind of the point what they were doing.
Rekindling the old flame.
After the confession made by Rex around the camp fire. The words Echo had not expected to hear. Ever. Not from Rex anyway, as the two of them had never spoken about their status in the past. Not even after they had gotten real close and started having sex.
But, as Rex had said the words, Echo had simply glared at his former Captain for a moment. And then, without further words, Echo had jumped Rex, pushed him into the ground and devoured Rex's mouth with his own.
After the two of them had broken off, the heated kiss fuelled by so much time and desperation between them, Rex had let out a small chuckle before he managed to speak.
"Guess we are on the same page after all."
Echo had simply glared at him, his eyes filled with yearning and something else, Rex was trying to cypher and quickly managed to do so. The love, which was clearly written there as well.
"I did not think you wanted me any more. The way I am now."
Echo had sounded hesitant at first, but the words of Rex's still echoing in his mind… well, the doubts were soon enough flying out the nearest airlock.
"You, are all I want Echo. I, I did not think this between us would be possible any more. That you did not feel the same as, well, before. As I do now."
Rex had simply said to Echo. Having thought that perhaps, Echo had moved on, being with Clone Force 99 now and all. But, Rex then kissed Echo with the most passion he could have ever been able to muster. And Echo responding in kind, as it was all Rex really needed as assurance.
And now, they were inside of the one small size tent, continuing kissing the other senseless.
The clothing long since discarded, having been pulled off in haste. The giggles and the slight awkwardness present, as the two former, now new lovers had started the slight mess of trying to rid the other of their clothing.
But neither of them were bothered about any of it. Their lips crashing to the others again, with sometimes sloppy, sometimes passionate and often times more urgent and demanding kisses placed on their lover's lips.
Rex and Echo, familiarising with the bodies once thoroughly known to them, now strange in many ways. Even if the muscle memory was there, reminding them both, guiding them both to all the familiar places of the other's body.
For Rex, it was a little bit more in getting used to, Echo's body having changed somewhat since their last bout together. But that did not hinder him from exploring Echo's exposed skin all over and everywhere. Where perhaps the old tricks failed, new ones were replacing them quickly enough.
The sounds emanating from the tent, could be heard some distance away. That was if anyone was listening in. Perhaps a few curious critters of the night were alerted to the strange low moans, cries and uttered whispers usually not heard in their domain. But even those critters lost interested rather quickly.
After some time, the exploration, the non-hurried approach to rekindling their passion, Rex and Echo's need for more grew more urgent, more heated. The kissing, the nipping, the soft whispers and touches growing to the fiery heat which had been raging between them in the past.
Echo's voice was gravely like the dirt around them.
The pleads of Echo's becoming more frequent the more riled up Rex had gotten him.
"Rex, I need… I need… more."
Rex being the very quick learner and having found all the right spots of Echo's new body, bringing the other man's simmering fires to a burning heat.
Not that Rex was doing any better himself. Feeling the need to please his partner, the need to bring him over the edge alongside himself. But Echo was Rex's priority.
Rex, having dared to hope, had come prepared for this outing. Bringing all the needed with him, always being the boy scout as some of this fellow commanders had mocked him in the past. Thankfully, that boy scout inside of him had not let the former Captain down this time around either.
"Hold that thought."
Rex raised a finger with a hint of a smirk on his face, as he reluctantly tore himself off of Echo. Moving quickly inside the small tent, reaching for his backpack and finding the needed ingredient he needed to prep his lover.
Echo watched the man rummage through the stuff piled in the corner of their makeshift abode. Seeing what it was Rex was looking for, the familiar bottle in his hand as he triumphantly dangled it in front of Echo, eliciting a surprised look on his face.
"I see you totally had planned this trip and rather carefully too."
Echo's hoarse tone stated half jokingly half grateful Rex had thought ahead.
Rex looked at Echo for a long moment, admiring the naked view in front of him. But also, feeling rather solemn, now that they had come to an understanding. Of what they both wanted, once again.
"I… I was hoping… You know, earlier."
Rex trailed off, but never lost his gaze on Echo.
Echo extended his hand and pulled Rex in for a kiss. Putting all his love and desire into that one show of emotion. Letting Rex know he had been right all along. That Echo really wanted the same thing which Rex did.
"I love you too Rex."
Echo finally whispered as they broke off their kiss.
"I guess I always have."
Echo admitted as much now that they had both said to each other what needed to be said. The words never spoken in the past, but they did not need the words to know how the other felt, did they? As proof of this, camping trip together, in the midst of nature, amongst the falling leaves.