Continuing with my Annabelle and Ironhide stories, here is another one to enjoy. Thinking back, I should have put these all into one story with multiple chapters, but "Black Crayons" was originally supposed to be a standalone story. Then you guys asked for more, and then even more. So now I have multiple stories scattered around with the two of them. Each one can be taken alone or as part of the series. This one occurs after "Baby-sitter's Nightmare," but before "Bully." Check out my profile for a chronological order of the stories because I have ended up writing them out of order. Now, on with the show! Beware of Warm-Fuzzies Feelings at the end of the story.

Night Sky

"Ironhide, where are you from?"

The giant Cybertronian turned to look at the tiny human girl. It was late into the evening, and without the sun's glow to conceal them, various stars were becoming visible. Annabelle was sitting beside him, finally giving up on her attempt to draw with the fading light. Now, she proceeded to conversation. Ironhide understood that the young were always curious, but was also resigned to the fact that the stream of inquiries was unending. Even when they ran out of questions, they would resort to "Why?"

Annabelle elaborated on the question, "Mommy and Daddy said you are from far away. And no one's suppose to know you're here. Cause it's a secret. But where did you come from?"

Remembering to simplify concepts so she would understand, he explained, "I come from another world called Cybertron. Do you see those stars?" He stretched out a finger, pointing towards the night sky. Each point of light was clear to his optics; though some of the dimmer stars would be harder for the child to see clearly. "Each one is like your sun, and some are even larger. Around some of those stars are planets. Just as there are planets around your sun."

"Like Earth," exclaimed Annabelle excitedly, "So your home is around a star."

Ironhide nodded. Even for one so young, she was quick to understand what was presented to her. If she was Cybertronian instead of human, he had no doubt she could have become a leading scientist in time. Or perhaps he had too much pride in her quick development for his own good.

"Is it really far?" she asked, continuing her investigation into her best friend's past.

He answered cheerfully, "Farther than you can imagine, Annabelle. No human craft could possibly travel the distance in their lifetime."

She considered this carefully, "It's even farther than the moon and the sun? Wow! Is it nice?"

The Autobot felt a great sense of homesickness and sadness at the thought of what Cybertron had become. Battle after battle had scarred the land while the two factions of Cybertronians combated for an artifact lost for eons. Cybertron had once been a bright beacon of all that was good for their people, but now it was a tarnished shell of its former glory. Without the Allspark, there was no reason to return home. Their race and their planet had no future.

"A long time ago, it was," he finally told her quietly, "but not anymore."

He stared at the stars until he heard her moving towards him. A concerned expression on her young face greeted the weapon specialist. She went over to where his servo rested on the ground. Gently, her tiny hand patted his.

"Sorry, Ironhide. You miss your home, don't you?" the preschooler observed.

"Yes, at times," he admitted, "but your planet is very nice too. It is much more organic than Cybertron though." He saw a puzzled look from her, so clarified, "Cybertron doesn't have plants and animals like Earth. More metal than anything."

"Everyone is a robot, like you? So everything is robotish and metal," she worked out logically.

"Right. Just like everything is organic here, everything on Cybertron is metallic."

"Which star is Cybertron at?"

Ironhide scanned the sky, his optics flashing from star to star. Eventually he pointed to an extremely distant and dim point of light. "That one. Can you see it, Annabelle?"

She stared into the dark, shielding her eyes from all other light sources. At last, she excitedly shrieked, "I see it!"

"Sweetheart," called Captain Lennox, using one of the various alternate nomenclatures that he gave his daughter, "It is bedtime. Tell Ironhide good-night and come in."

"Good night, Ironhide," Annabelle obediently complied. "I'll see you tomorrow. Sleep good."

"Sleep well also, Annabelle," he answered.

"Ironhide," the young girl shouted towards the disguised truck, "I've got something for you."

She ran up to where he sat parked. Even though it was still morning, she had awakened even earlier so she could finish her project before she left for preschool. Now, all she had to do was give it to her friend.

He was in truck mode because Annabelle had to leave soon. But at her insistence, he transformed in order to look at her creation. Using as large piece of paper she could find so he could hold it, she had drawn another picture. This one, she told him, was for him. He delicately took the drawing from her.

This time, most of the page was covered in black with yellow, five-pointed shapes that he had earlier learned was her representation of stars. In one corner, a yellow round shape with lines around it: the enigmas image of the sun. He still didn't understand why, but her suns always had those lines. In the middle was a fairly large perfect circle. She had obviously used a round object to obtain that level of correctness; likely a container that usually held ground beans used to prepare a high caffeine substance called coffee, judging by the size of the circle. The form was silver and grey. On it, smaller shapes in various colors occupied the space. The one on the top, Ironhide could recognize by the color and care put into the creation as her representation of him. She always put the most effort into drawing him, a fact that warmed his spark.

"I know you miss your home, Ironhide," explained Annabelle as he examined the paper. "You said it's really far away, so you can't go there a lot. So I drew Cybertron. That way you can see it and not be so sad."

The Cybertronian didn't know what to say. The thoughtful preschooler had taken it upon herself to help him any way she could. She wanted him to be happy.

"Does it look right? You said it was all metally and has other robots," Annabelle stared at him hopefully.

Ironhide smiled at the sweet girl, "It's wonderful. Thank you, Annabelle."

She grinned back at the giant robot, "I'm glad you like it. Mommy's going to have to get me more black crayons though. Outer space is really dark and big."

Mrs. Lennox came out at this point, carrying the backpack Annabelle had left in the house. This was Ironhide's cue to turn back into the black truck for the trip to Annabelle's school. As he changed, the picture was carefully transferred to the glove compartment, safe and sound.