"But that's not really an ending," Raf protested, "It feels like the story keeps going, and there's got to be a lot of stuff you skipped, right?"

Of course there were details Bumblebee had skimmed over, and a thousand little incidents and minor battles he had not even mentioned. Some of them he had already told Raf, without this surrounding context. Even so, it hadn't been a short story, but Raf had listened with politely rapt attention and had not interrupted once except to ask a clarifying question or two.

{Of course it does,} Bumblebee replied with a certain level of amusement, {I'm not dead yet. Even if I were, the war is far from over.}

Asphalt hissed beneath the Scout's churning tires, the red desert slid by on either side, its elaborate rock formations rising out of the hazy distance like slumbering leviathans. The day had remained sunny and warm the whole time, but during certain parts of the story it had seemed to Raf that it had grown dark, cold and even stormy. Though Raf had a vivid imagination, now Bumblebee had stopped talking, it was hard to picture the dark days and violence that had come over the Earth so many times. With the sun out, the desert placid and still in the waning afternoon, it was hard to think that it had ever not been so. They had seen no end to the desert during the entire drive, and it was difficult to think Bumblebee had once roamed the continent from end to end, or that he might have started on a different continent entirely, coming here via the Ground Bridge after years somewhere else far away.

"I guess that makes sense," Raf decided after thinking it over for a time.

It occurred to him, now, that even if he did have a better grasp of the enormity of the universe than many people seemed to, that grip was still pitiably weak. Bumblebee had seen, done and experienced more things already than Raf would in his entire life, and by Cybertronian standards Bee was quite young. Raf was wise enough to realize that he could not comprehend on a more than intellectual level the vast sweep of time Bumblebee had just talked about. Decades, centuries, even millennia, were barely a blink or so in the life cycle of a Cybertronian.

With this context, it was easier to imagine how Megatron could once have been good, lost his way by slow, almost unnoticed degrees, until one day it became obvious that he was the most evil of all the Decepticons. Perhaps he had always been slightly twisted, but it had revealed itself only a little at a time, perhaps starting as a single morally ambiguous action that raised no alarms with anyone, then nothing for months or even years, then another little slip and another. A slow fade into darkness.

How much more wicked and powerful would the worst humans have become given a little (or a lot) more time? The brief span of human life might be more a blessing than anyone had realized. Certainly the Autobots seemed to carry the weight of the ages as a heaviness of spirit, though their bodies remained strong for eons. And there seemed no depth of self-interest that was beyond the reach of the Decepticons, self-interest that -sooner or later- ever manifested itself in unfathomable cruelty. All that time gave them the ability to amass great power, and huge armies on a scale humans would find difficult to imagine. Was this then the price paid by civilized races who lived such long lives?

Humankind was ever rushing forward in its search for the answer to death, seeking to live longer by any and all means. It seemed a good and noble pursuit, to try and live longer, healthier lives. But perhaps there was a cost to this quest for immortality that no one who pursued it had ever considered. Perhaps those who died young were the lucky ones, for they were spared witnessing or even learning of many of the more horrible human atrocities. They were spared having to fight, year after hopeless year, against a dark force seemingly greater than themselves. They were spared the feebleness and indignities which come inevitably to humans who succeed at living to a ripe old age.

Before he had considered any of this very deeply, instinct drew him back. There are some things which young minds especially are best off not dwelling on for long periods. There was nothing to be gained from looking into the black well of human folly, wherein dwelled the manifestation of all the race's arrogance, selfishness and greed. There was nothing at the bottom of that but fear, shame and despair. Raf knew by instinct what some insist on finding out by exploring all the way down that well, inspecting every aspect of evil to be found in any human heart, until they should conclude -as Megatron had- that humanity ought to be purged to make way for something "better."

It seemed as if the Autobots had not looked too closely at this well, but Raf knew they had. Somehow, they had seen the sins of humanity, some of them firsthand, and yet they saw something worth saving. Something with potential. Something that they valued, and wanted to protect at any cost to themselves. Though it was the claim of Optimus that he merely wanted to prevent humans from being punished for the mistakes of the Autobots, Raf suspected there was something more to it. Something that was not to be interfered with by even the wisest among them.

He had noticed, of course, that Bumblebee had more than once thrown himself into a potentially deadly situation in order to protect him. Bumblebee had killed to protect him, and was willing to die as well. Raf had always known this, and it had ever been a stunning thing to contemplate, that one so powerful and with so much to live and fight for should notice him, and be willing to give up his life for Raf alone. But he saw it on another level today, realizing how very, very long Bumblebee's life was and how much he had accomplished already, and how much the Autobots needed him. Yet Bumblebee would throw that all away just to save Raf; a single, tiny, insignificant human, whose short life was as nothing in comparison with the span of years that were granted the average Cybertronian. Bumblebee valued Raf's puny life so much that he was willing to give up eons of existence, to abandon the worthy cause of the Autobots itself, just so that Raf might be spared death for the blink of an eye that was the span of human life viewed on a cosmic level. It was as awesome a realization as it was humbling.

Lost in these thoughts, Raf hadn't noticed for awhile that they were driving uphill, nor did he notice when they turned off the road and drove across sandy rock. He noticed only when Bumblebee stopped. He looked up from his daze, and realized they were on a high ledge.

Raf got out of his seat and scrambled up to look through the windshield from between the two front seats. Above, the sky stretched, an endless lake of unblemished blue. Below, the fiery tones of the endless desert, marked here and there by low scrub and shadow left in the wake of rock formations.

He did not ask where they were. Raf was sure he knew. When he saw a distant black speck that slowly circled nearer and nearer, he was more certain still. When the raven got close, it seemed to hang back cautiously for a moment, then suddenly dropped from the air and landed on Bumblebee's hood. Raf saw its glistening black feathers clearly through the windshield, but it seemed the bird not see him as it turned to survey its territory from this high vantage point, and to issue a raucous call that seemed to be a challenge to the sun itself.

"Welcome to Earth, Bumblebee," Raf breathed quietly, "Welcome home."

A/N: I hope you enjoyed this story, I really appreciate you taking the time to read it, so thank you and goodnight everybody.