A/N---As promised, Angel-san, here is your one-shot between Evelyn and Trowa! I had a blast writing it, and I hope you like it. I recommend this site and others like such to get the full impact of the story.

One thing about the setting, The Pilots and Evelyn finished what ever they were doing when they were in Ev's story, and Quatre has recommended one of his mansions as a place for them to stay and recuperate. For the sake of the fic, they are choosing to stay there for the time being, against all better judgment I'm sure … for all intents and purposes, the war is over and the Gundams are obsolete. But the Endless Waltz has not happened yet.

This is a one-shot dedicated to angelofsecrets' stunning Gundam Wing story, Ray of Hope, y'all should definitely go read it, it is beautiful.


Flower Lacuna

"Evelyn," Trowa stood in the doorway to the terrace. Evelyn stood; she'd been leaning languidly over the terrace, watching the gardens below as butterflies lighted from plant to plant.

"Trowa," she responded, somewhat stiffly, she still wasn't sure if she could trust these pilots, these soldiers... these boys.

Trowa said nothing else, just strode to where she herself rested and leaned out, looking at the magical panoramic view stretching out below them.

"Oh, you're here, do you mind if I join you Evelyn?

"Of course not Trowa, be my guest, just waltz right in and invade my peace.

"Don't mind if I do," Evelyn intoned, crossly watching the Uni-banged pilot as he reached down and softly caressed a Monkshood bloom that was surrounded by a ring of white violets, all the while as silent as the stunning blooms and statues dotting the picturesque garden.

"This flower... should not be here," was Trowa's only reply, "But... I agree with his neighbors," he intoned softly after a moment's pause.

"What are you rambling on about? How can you agree with a flower? And why can't that one stay? It's beautiful," asked Evelyn, now even more annoyed by the stoic teen's silence as he continued to pet the flower, as if contemplating plucking it.

"But I suppose he is right, isn't he? That fact truly is the only constant in this day and age, in our lives. Everything else is so far up in the air... I... I wonder if it will ever come down?" Trowa continued to talk softly, almost to himself, or more accurately to the flowers below him.

Evelyn huffed in exasperation and turned her back to Trowa. Instead, she looked out at the sprawling gardens of Quatre's mansion. Well-maintained flowerbeds laid out in some erratic, but obviously carefully thought out pattern, surrounded literally hundreds upon thousands of statues.

Evelyn strained her eyes and peered against the setting sun; but try as she might, she could only make out the closest beds.

Trowa watched her from the corner of one green eye and chuckled softly to himself,

"Would… would you like to see the gardens? Rashid really takes good care of them,"

Evelyn looked quickly at him and her eyes narrowed with distrust, but Trowa could see the spark of longing hidden in her hawk eyes.

"Heh, I mean no harm, simple and straight forward, I will escort you if you want to see the gardens. There are lions roaming about, so it is not safe for anyone but us pilots and Magnuac Corps.," Trowa supplied with a minuscule laugh.

Evelyn eyed him for a moment longer, and then finally acquiesced with a withering huff,

"Sure, LIONS are roaming in this jungle," Evelyn scoffed as she followed Trowa to the steps of the terrace, "Like I'll believe tha-"

Evelyn's words died in her throat as a thunderous roar shook the heady evening air, causing the rampant cicadas and crickets to suddenly quiet, leaving an abrupt silence that made bells chime in Evelyn and Trowa's ears.

Trowa merely raised an eyebrow as Evelyn's mouth dropped open. She quickly shut it, lips set in a discontented line as a flush bloomed on her cheeks like a burgundy rose.

Trowa, head ducked below a hanging arbor basket, chuckled quietly and proffered his hand from the last step. Looking up from between the falling petals of moss rosebuds; disturbed from their place among the gently curling ferns, vibrant myrtle, and delicate white lily-of-the-valley flowers by his hair, Trowa smiled, small and sweet.

"Against that smile, do I really have a choice?" Evelyn laughed after several moments of trying to preserve her look of disdain, "Couldn't you have just pointed the gun in my face?"

"I left that inside, I have no need for a gun in this jungle, to quote your words, Evelyn," Trowa murmured as she grasped his calloused hand with her own.

"o-oh," Foolishly, or so Evelyn thought, she blushed deeper when their skin touched and she yanked her hand away, "I-I'm not some little girl that needs her hand held,"

"I wasn't implying that," Trowa whispered as the duo walked past a bed of white rosebuds. He stopped and caressed a pale blossom. Evelyn looked queerly at the normally stoic pilot as he stooped near the edge of the bed.

'How strange,' Evelyn thought, looking at Trowa as he smiled sweetly at the moonlight colored flower, more sweetly than he'd ever done to a human she realized, even his friend Quatre, 'He looks so… calm, so at ease. Does he really like nature more than people?'

Trowa stood and again grabbed Evelyn's hand, pulling her gently from the flowers and he whispered, "Shhh…"

"Wh-" Evelyn asked and immediately gasped.

A looming shadow detached itself from the inky pools beneath the branches of a blooming peach tree.

"Ooh, my, god," breathed Evelyn, unconsciously bringing her hand to her trembling mouth, "He's so majestic,"

Trowa looked at the lion, and his face sobered. Evelyn saw only the creature, saw only the size and shape, heard only his vocalized roar. She didn't see the lion as he was, only what she expected.

"No, he's not," Trowa looked sadly as the elderly cat stepped further out into the fading light.

"What do you mean?" Evelyn asked in disbelief, "I realize he may not scare you, but even you should be able to see his majesty!"

"Look closer at him Evelyn, look at his face," Trowa walked slowly to the lion and ran a hand through its dry mane, "He's become old, he's lost his place as the ruler here to a younger lion,"

The lion looked dolefully at Evelyn as the moonlight illuminated his body fully.

From within the shadows, the lion had looked strong, sleek and powerful. In the light, Evelyn could see the graying fur, its skin hanging limply from once strong muscles. The lion's mane was matted with peach blossoms and anemone flowers, and his brown liquid eyes were haunted by a desperate look.

"Why hasn't anyone taken care of him?" she whispered in horror, moving closer as if to place her hands on its dusted tawny coat. She glanced at Trowa and when he nodded, she caressed the fallen ruler's face.

"He was a warrior, the only surviving cub from a litter attacked by hyenas. He alone could defend himself long enough to find a hiding place. He has been the leader of the other lions here for over ten years, and he's already thirteen. Male lions usually only live to see twelve," Trowa buried his fingers in the lion's mane, pulling out twigs and brambles with a hand that shook.

"He has been the protector, the guardian, the strongest, for ten long years. He's tired, and when the new lion overthrew his rule, and the others, who he'd protected for so long, didn't even miss his presence, he became depressed.

"He doesn't know what to do without those who need his protection. Their utter abandonment destroyed his soul, his spirit is shattered and he can't bear to go on living. But he can't seem to die. He just continues to prowl, useless and outpaced by the changing world he tries so hard to live in."

Evelyn watched in shock as a single tear slipped down Trowa's cheek and became lost in the scruff surrounding the lion's neck.

"How can you know this?" she whispered, almost too quietly for her voice to be heard over the evening breeze.

But her words somehow carried over the tropical wind and reached Trowa's ears.

"…because he told me," Trowa whispered.

"He told you?" asked Evelyn softly.

"I have known Zareb since he was two. He has told me many things in the time we have known each other," Trowa vaguely explained; suddenly back to his former silent manner.

"You mean… you can actually understand him," Evelyn turned to face Trowa in shock. It seemed that every time she thought she'd finally figured out the pilot, he threw another stone into her path.

"Yes."

"Can you talk to him?" Evelyn was amazed, scared even, but her doctor's mind whirred with questions.

"Yes," Trowa continued to pull leaves out of Zareb's mane, stopping when he withdrew a single holly leaf, "No dear friend, you won't be forgotten... by those who fought with you at least, even if those you fought to protect have," Trowa whispered in the lion's ear as he cast the leaf away.

"Trowa… why? How are you able to do that? Can you talk to other animals?"

Trowa looked up at Evelyn as the sweet scent of lilac ballooned over them as the millions of purple flowers were stirred by the wind.

"I can 'talk', as you call it, to anything in nature. Anything that is alive," He looked around and began to walk with Zareb, still holding the big feline's mane. The two silently padded around the peach tree, giving it a wide berth, as if afraid of the rapidly falling blossoms.

They walked steadily and slowly toward an extravagant bed of flowers and shrubs and trees that guarded a group of faceless statues. Unlike most of the figures in the garden, these statues were blank forms, devoid of features and clothing, trapped in bronzed poses that conveyed a feeling of utter hopelessness. The figures appeared lost, wandering aimlessly amongst the zinnia and guilder roses. York and Lancaster roses lined the winding maze that the statues stumbled about in.

One figure alone had features, although very androgynous. The person stood at the exit of the path, frantically waving its arms. Its mouth was open in a silent, desperate scream. Its position led the eye to think it was slowly sinking to its knees, utterly and completely defeated, about to give up. The figure was clad in a torn and tattered cape, boots that appeared shredded and seemingly deteriorating shirt and pants. All incredibly cast in polished bronze.

From the feet of the statue, sweet peas snaked up the person's torso to cover the cape with a bed of tiny purple flowers. Roses stripped of their leaves, their thorns gleaming darkly, blocked his path to the other statues.

Finally, Evelyn came to her senses with a start, racing after the pilot and cat.

She reached them just as Trowa pulled aside the bowing heads of a bank of golden-rod flowers to reveal the statue of a young male lion. It was caught in a tear-jerking pose; mouth parted in a sympathetic yowl as it gazed helplessly at its master. It protected a small patch of snowdrops in one giant curving paw.

"Trowa…? Are you, do you, I mean…?" Evelyn trailed off helplessly when Trowa pierced her heart with his gaze.

"Am I afraid that now, with the war over, my place in this world destroyed, my being no longer needed, my very purpose thrown away like the scraps of a mobile doll, that I will be forgotten by those I saved?" Trowa supplied, his voice biting with acrimony as he himself sank to his knees. Zareb whined deep in his throat.

"No, I'm not afraid of that," he ground out, clutching at the covering of quaking grass, ripping out blades and causing the delicate flowers to plummet.

"I'm not afraid because it has already happened!" Trowa choked back a sob and his eyes burned,

"The people that we risked our lives to save, hate us. They call us terrorists, they hate us for saving them!" he howled, collapsing.

"Trowa!" Evelyn rushed the remaining feet to his side, also dropping to her knees and grasping the shaking pilot's shoulder while trying to turn him over. "Trowa! Look at me!"

"We were discarded, just like that. During the war, when everyone hated us, we were certain that once we exposed Oz, the Romefeller Foundation, White Fang, we were certain that the people would see we had their best interests at heart-that we were trying to save them!

"We have no more purpose, no one wants us alive, we have no meaning anymore, no-no reason for living anymore!" he gasped, pounding the dirt, crushing forget-me-not flowers under his fists.

Then his tone turned mournful, "We don't want, or expect parades, or commemorations. We, I just want a place in this world that we created. I want to be able to be a normal person for once in my entire life!" he sobbed.

Evelyn didn't say a word. She didn't even murmur in sympathy. She just pulled Trowa's shivering, breaking form into her arms and rocked their bodies slowly back and forth.

Zareb opened his mouth slightly and gazed at Trowa with as much concern as his wizened face could muster. Trowa reached out and easily drew the lion into Evelyn's embrace and he continued to cry into his mane.

Evelyn, as she was gently stroking Trowa's hair, began to sing softly, holding him and Zareb tight.

"I walked through a county courthouse square

On a park bench, an old man was sittin there.

I said, "Your court house is kinda run down,

He said, "No, it will do for our little town".

I said "your old flag pole kinda leaned a little bit,

And that's a ragged old flag you got hanging on it".

He said "have a seat", so I sat down,

He said, "is this your first visit to our little town"

I said, "I think it is"

He said "I don't like to brag, but we're kinda proud of

"That Ragged Old Flag"

"You see, we got a little hole in that flag there,

When Washington took it across the Delaware.

It got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it, writing

"Oh Say Can You See"

It got a rip in New Orleans, with Packingham & Jackson

tugging at its seams.

It almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag,

But she waved on tho.

It got cut with a sword in Chancellorsville,

Got cut again at Shiloh Hill.

There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,

And the south wind blew hard on

"That Ragged Old Flag"

On Flanders Field in World War I,

She took a bad hit from a Bertha Gun,

She turned blood red in World War II

She hung limp and low by the time that one was through,

She was in Korea, Vietnam, She went where she was sent

by her Uncle Sam.

The Native Americans, The Black, Yellow and White

All shed red blood for the Stars and Stripes.

And here in her own good land,

She's been abused, burned, dishonored, denied and refused,

And the very government for which she stands

Has been scandalized throughout out the land.

And she's getting thread bare, and she's wearing kinda thin,

But she's in pretty good shape, for the shape she's in.

Cause she's been through the fire before

and she can take a whole lot more.

So we raise her up every morning

And we bring her down slow every night,

We don't let her touch the ground,

And we fold her up right.

On second thought, I do like to brag

Cause I'm mighty proud of

"That Ragged Old Flag""

When Evelyn had finished the song, she lifted Trowa's head and looked him straight in the eye.

"I am thankful,"

And she kissed him.


Owari

A/N---Well, I really hope you liked it, because it took a lot of deliberation and switching between screens. It really is a work I'm terribly proud of, and I feel a deep connection with all of my works. I apologize for any tear stains on your computer because I couldn't help but actually cry during the writing of this. I hope you like it, angel, because I certainly do. Please look into the website above to get the symbolism in this story, I really will help. :goes and passes out from nerves:

the song is "this ragged old flag" by Johny Cash