Title: Tomorrow is a Long Time

Characters: Bumblebee, Sam Witwicky, Mikaela Banes, Annabelle Lennox

Genre: Angst

Rating: PG-13

Word count: 1,425

Summary: On making a home, a family, and a future: moments of Bumblebee's life on Earth after Mission City.

Warning: I almost cried writing this.

Tomorrow is a Long Time

If today was not an endless highway,

Bumblebee barely abstained from cycling huffily out his vents. While he understood that not all humans in the great bureaucracy of the government of the United States of America were sparked the like of Reginald Simmons, after years of evading the annoying man he hardly liked the idea of Optimus negotiating with his superiors. The stubbornness currently displayed by those officials didn't help matters. Right now, Bumblebee wanted to get away from this dull, confounding conference and back to Sam, back to the open road and desert flats.

Later that day, as the last tendrils of twilight streaked the sky, Sam waited for him on the curb of the driveway.

"Hey, buddy. How'd it go today?" He stood up, stretched, his frame popping and a yawn breaking loose. Bumblebee practically slunk up off the road, but as through habit, a new habit, he opened his door and allowed Sam to settle into his interior before answering.

"Slowly." Sam pulled his door shut, gently.

"Yeah? I figured when you didn't show up like normal. I'm still real paranoid, seeing Barricade in every cop car, you know, so next time it happens can you let me know or something? I mean, you use the radio all the time, could you call my phone or text or email…" He trailed off, and Bumblebee felt even worse.

"Yes. I will call."

Sam breathed out, long and hard, ending in a smile. "So, you tired, or up for a drive or what?"

Bee answered with a rev of his engines, a turn of his mirrors, and a thwap of his seatbelt. Sam should know he was always ready for a drive, especially after a day like today.

Hours later, they settled under the wide, clear night sky of the desert. Sam lay sprawled next to Bumblebee's leg, soaking up the heat of the tarmac, the both of them stargazing.

"You been quiet, Bee. A penny for your thoughts?" Bee looked down at him then. Out here, in the dark, splayed against black tarmac and lit only by a waxing moon, Sam seemed small. His jeans and dark jacket blended into the road, leaving only a semi-glowing, pale face looking up at him. But that face was smiling, a cautious expression (if Bumblebee's educated guess was correct), and Bee felt his spark lighten just a touch.

"I am thinking about our future here."

"Like, here on Earth?"

"Yes." He turned his optics back to the sky. When Sam didn't respond, he continued. "Many humans are afraid. Of other humans, of us, of what we might mean."

Sam contemplated this quietly. "I'll never be afraid of you, Bee. And if not everybody can get over that, that's their loss. People hate other people for just being what they are all the time, and it's stupid. You won't…you won't leave, will you?"

Bumblebee couldn't imagine leaving, a life without Sam, Mikaela, the sun and the dirt and the sounds of a planet and a people thrumming with life. He wondered how Earth, after only four of its short solar rotations, could feel so right. "I want Earth to be our home," he finally answered.

"Earth will be, someday," Sam pat the armor of his shins, "And in the meantime, my home will always be your home. Always."

If tonight was not a crooked trail,

Where were they, where were they, where were they? Bumblebee sped down the logging road as fast as the rough dirt would allow, straining his scanners. When Laserbeak and Buzzsaw had attacked him, Sam and Mikaela had fled into the woods, the cover of the trees, to wait out the aerial attack. Bumblebee had scored a hit on Buzzsaw's left wing, and the two had flown off, but the strange strike had unnerved Bumblebee.

Now, unable to locate his two human charges, his spark grew more and more agitated. At the end of the service road, he u-turned and retraced his same path. Finally, two warm spots, two heartbeats, showed at the edge of a sensor sweep.

He transformed, and after a few minutes of waiting, his worry drove him to urgency over delicacy and he pushed through the dense woods in their direction. He came upon them navigating their way down an incline, tangles roots and giant ferns slowing their passage.

"Bumblebee!" Sam's face clearly showed relief, and worry, and a nasty cut across the forehead. Mikaela also smiled wanly at him, leaning against her husband, pale and sweaty. Bumblebee carefully scooped them up, turning back to the road, and they leaned against his chassis tiredly. "Ravage ambushed us, I think they planned for all this. I hit him with a one of those new grenades, or near him, but he'd already chewed up Mikaela's leg. We gotta get her to a hospital."

Bumblebee set them down carefully, transforming and beckoning them in with open doors. Sam helped Mikaela hobble inside, laying her down across the backseat, and checking his bloody shirt wrapped around her knee. As soon as Sam was strapped in to the passenger seat, Bumblebee tore down the mountainside.

Sam was holding Mikaela's hand, whispering to her, and Bumblebee so wanted to be there, on her other hand, at her other ear. Instead, he turned on as many systems as possible to heat the seats, and tightened the seatbelts around the two, and seethed at the rogue Cybertronians (with no Allspark, the Decepticons, the war, and many imagined futures could not be sustained) who continued to disrupt peace and destroy happiness.

If tomorrow wasn't such a long time,

Bumblebee sat quietly in the parking lot. An elderly lady came out the revolving door to their left, but Bumblebee hardly noticed her. Sam had not called when he normally would, had not answered the phone, and now after calling for help to check on him Bumblebee waited for news.

An agonizing period of time later, Annabelle Lennox strode out of the entrance of the assisted living complex, accompanied by the in-house Doctor. When he sighed, although his sensors could still hear the thump of his Sam's heart, he knew the news would not be good.

"Mr. Bumblebee, I'm afraid I have…some bad news. Mr. Witwicky's had a stroke; a bad stroke." No, no. "A large part of his brain was denied oxygen and nutrients too long. He's alive, but it's unlikely he'll ever regain consciousness, and we currently have him on a heart monitor and an assisted breathing apparatus."

Annabelle stroked his hood, but despite his poor tactile sensors on the armor the warmth of her hand felt scalding, burning, agonizing.

"Mr. Witwicky gave you his power of attorney. This means that you have the authority to make medical decisions when he or a family member cannot." The Doctor paused. He couldn't read the emotions, the readiness, of a car.

"Please, continue." Bumblebee rasped.

"I don't know how much of his living will he discussed with you, but in it he expressed the desire not to live dependent on life support. We need your permission to remove him from it." Bumblebee was silent.

The Doctor did not know the life and times of Samuel Witwicky, but Annabelle Lennox did, and so finally she suggested that the Doctor allow Bumblebee some time to come to terms with losing another beloved friend. Bumblebee remained in the parking lot while Annabelle and the Doctor reentered the apartment complex. Annabelle spent the night, and the next, slumped in a chair next to her dear Uncle.

On the third morning, Bumblebee phoned the apartment and gave his permission to let Sam go. Bee listened the day through as Sam's heart slowed, as his lungs hitched, as his body forgot how to live. When evening arrived, all was quiet.

Never before in his life had Bumblebee wished he could cry as much as in those hours, the release of tears and sobs and screams from the bursting and collapsing of his spark, all at once full of rage and sadness and grief…Bee pulled out of his parking space, turned out of the lot, and drove. He drove, and drove, out of the city and past the suburbs until all that surrounded him was the dark, windy desert. Finally, when he could not ignore the stress and heat warnings any longer, he transformed and collapsed back onto the dusty ground, an endless blanket of stars spread above him, an endless number of lonely nights before him.

Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all.

Author's notes: The lyrics come from Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow is a Long Time." I thought the idea of the titular line really fit with the lives of the Autobots compared to humans, and couldn't stop thinking about it until I wrote this.

I believe Bumblebee will be ok, someday, just as he made Earth his home, eventually.