A/N: I live! I think, at any rate. :P The Muse found me once again, whispering of the dark story that is unfolding here. I apologize for the long absence and hope you enjoy this next chapter. Thank you for sticking with this as long as you have. This chapter is not beta'ed, so any mistakes are mine alone. I still have the list of song suggestions that are sent to me. Each one will make its way into a chapter. Thank you all for carrying enough to suggest songs! :D

Disclaimer: I do not own anything, save for my OCs. The song is "Beloved" by VNV Nation. Please do not sue.

He had often wondered why his brother had chosen this location for their last meeting. It had offered no strategic value, no special defense, nothing of combat assistance. All things that would have been of significant importance if combat had truly been his intent. Further, it had been very unlike Megatron to select a location where their confrontation would have been kept secret from the human world. No, his brother had a specific love of tormenting and destroying the weak. A fight within a human city the size of, say, Chicago or Los Angeles, would have added the promised delight of many human causalities.

Here, high up in the tallest portion of the Rocky Mountains of North America, had seemed like the wrong choice. Walking these paths again, alone this time, Optimus revised his opinion of his brother's choice of location. Here, he found solitude unlike any other.

It was comforting and spark-breaking all at once, this lonely landscape of rock and snow. The air was far too thin at this altitude to support much in the way of organic life. No birds traveled this high for very long. No human ventured this far north along the slick, ice-covered passes. Even the green plant life of this world could not find purchase in the rocky cliffs and barren soil. It was nothing but minerals and frozen liquid.

It was probably the closest one could find to wastelands of Cybertron while remaining on Earth.

It's colder than before
The seasons took all they had come for
Now winter dances here
It seems so fitting don't you think?
To dress the ground in white and grey

It's so quiet I can hear
My thoughts touching every second
That I spent waiting for you
Circumstances afford me
No second chance to tell you
How much I missed you

Perhaps that was why Optimus had returned. Perhaps there was a part of him that needed the solitude, craved the silence that came from being surrounded by life and yet not part of it for the moment. Perhaps it was the strange… terseness… of Elita since her arrival on Earth that drove him to the quiet, or the strange sort of bond that had sprung up between his mate and the human called Laura. Perhaps, he was still troubled by the fight that had taken place on this very ledge. Or, more to the point, the revelations that had been flung at him in this very place, slicing him deeper than any weapon ever could.

Optimus frowned, crossing the narrow shelf to the rock wall, blunted fingertips tracing the shattered stone, memory and reality overlapping in his processors.

He saw himself slammed against that wall, heard the vile accusations that his brother had made.

"Did you ever wonder why I ordered the deaths of all those femmes? Of why I strove so hard to eradicate them from the universe?" Megatron hissed. "You. YOU were the reason. You and that glitch-spawned Elita. Did you think I couldn't feel that bond between you both, that I would not understand it for what it was? How it weakened you, made you foolish and pathetic. And still, for all those weaknesses, I craved that bond for myself. You made me want these femmes to complete my life. My jealousy of you, my hatred for how you could waste all your potential and become a lowly bridge technician all for the love of her! I vowed then and there to never allow such weakness to enter my spark. And there was only one way to ensure that…"

"NO!" he had bellowed in reply, in his guilt and sorrow and horror and anger. "No, you will not blame the deaths of generations on me, Megatron. I won't let you."

"No," he whispered aloud, shaking his head. He dropped his hand from the stone, trying to tear his spark away from the pain of those revelations. "I won't let you blame the death of generations on me. I won't let you."

Her footfalls were as delicate as the snow, soundless. And yet he would have known them anywhere, heard them from a galaxy away, felt them eons before they arrived in their intended destination. Her energy enveloped him, washed away the fear and regret and filled his spark with renewed hope. His Elita was there, not two steps away from him, and still he did not turn around. Not here, in this place of shame and dark secrets.

She did not ask him to turn. She did not speak a word. She simply crossed the distance, pressing her helm against the back shoulder plates of his armor, long graceful arms wrapping around his middle. Arms that sported new welds and old scars, hands that could use a plasma cannon as deftly as he could, and yet could cradle and care and love. She was his strength, the core of his perfections and imperfections, the sum of his total.

"Don't let him blame you," she whispered into his spark. "And do not let you blame you. Not for the past, spark of my spark. Or you will doom us all to repeat it in the future."

My beloved do you know
When the warm wind comes again
Another year will start to pass
And please don't ask me why I'm here
Something deeper brought me
Than a need to remember

We were both young and blessed with wings
No heights could keep us from their reach
No sacred place we did not soar
Still, greater things burn within us
I don't regret the choices that I've made
I know you feel the same

Her words cut at him as much as her touched soothed. "Do you think he would do the same here? That he would—"

"Yes," she broke in, tone just as soft as before, and as certain as steel. "He has no use for humans, Optimus. None. Save for one specific human."

He was shaking his head again before he realized it. "You cannot ask this of me, spark of my spark. I cannot give her back to him. He gave her to me to save her life. You did not see the condition she was in before Ratchet saved her. You cannot ask me to send her back to a certain death."

"Will it be a certain death?"

"It will," he answered hotly, turning to cup her face in his hands. "Can you not see it? He destroys anything he perceives as weak. He slaughtered the femmes because he saw our bond as the ultimate betrayal of purpose, the ultimate weakness. And Laura isn't even one of us. She is human."

Her hands cupped his, her optics turning hard. "No, my love. He slaughtered those femmes because he did not understand."

"And you think he does now?"

Almost against his will, his processors pulled up the memory of that fight, shifting through the pieces in a nanoklik until the necessary image filled his vision. Megatron, surrendering ground as Optimus rained blow after blow into his brother. His rage had been so complete, so righteous and consuming. Here, at last, Optimus was going to end the war. Here, at last, he was going to avenge the fallen and save this planet from death the way he had failed to save Cybertron. Every moment of his existence since the war had led up to this final confrontation, here on this alien world. Here, over a human whose lifespan was less than a blink of an optic. Here, it was going to finally end. All the rage, all the sorrow and helplessness fueled his fists like never before.

"Relinquish your claim to this human or die," he had demanded. "This is your last chance."

And unbelievably, impossibly, Megatron had simply… stopped. His flail hit the stone shelf, dropped from stilled fingers. It could never be said that Megatron ever stooped his shoulders in defeat, and yet there was a tiny almost unperceivable hunch to them as he stood there, staring at the death that was surely coming for him.

"No," Megatron had said simply, honestly, and without the slightest bit of regret or anger. "No, Optimus. I cannot—I will not—live without her. And if it will cost me my spark, then so be it."

That memory snapped something deep within Optimus, so much so that his optic guards slid closed, as if that action could erase the memory from time, itself. Elita's hands touched his helm, a delicate caress that ended with the cupping of his face in her palms. She brought her helm forward, standing on the tips of her foot armor to touch his helm with hers. Waves of mingled grief and fear and sorrow welled up in her, echoing his, comforting as much as either of them could give comfort in the wake of such a revelation.

"He knows, spark of my spark," she whispered aloud, voice shaking with those darkly felt emotions. "And now we know he knows. Primus help us, but we do. We cannot keep them apart any longer, or we are just as wrong as he was. We will hurt him just as badly as he hurt us. And we are better than that, Optimus. We are so much better than to sink to his level. This must run its course."

My beloved do you know
How many times I've stared at clouds
Thinking that I saw you there
These are feelings that do not pass so easily
I can't forget what we claimed as ours

Moments lost though time remains
I am so proud of what we were
No pain remains, no feeling
Eternity awaits

Grant me wings that I might fly
My restless soul is longing
No pain remains, no feeling
Eternity awaits

"She'll die," Optimus tried again weakly, knowing already that his processors had set their course. "He'll kill her, either in a fit of accidental anger or on purpose. One day, he'll kill her."

"I know," Elita nodded. "And you are right to fear that he will be twice as bad after losing her. Everyone and everything around him will suffer in his grief."

"And he will vent his grief in oceans of human blood. Will we fail here, too, Elita? Will this planet suffer the fate of Cybertron simply because we walked its ground?"

"That I don't know, my love," she answered honestly, looking up into his optics. "But I do know that keeping them apart will destroy us. We cannot become him simply to prevent him from taking actions we aren't exactly sure he will take."

His optics scanned the rocky ground beneath them and beyond that to the green pastures of this organic earth the humans called their home. Shadows moved across that ground, clouds blocking the sun until only white and grey dressed the world around them. Shadows like the one that hung over his spark, heavy with a rain of sorrow yet to be unleashed. Megatron, the destroyer of worlds, would finally pay a terrible price for coming to Earth. He had learned to love in his own dark and twisted way. And soon he would learn grief when that love passed beyond.

It was how Megatron handled both revelations, Optimus realized, that would decide the fate of this world.

"We must convince him not to kill her," he said at last, glancing down at Elita. "We must convince him that she would not want a river of blood as an epitaph when her time comes. He must know that the greatest monument he could give to her is a world full of green life and peace. If we could convince him to spare just this one world, just this one species of sentient life, it would be worth it."

"Break the chain of destruction," Elita murmured, nodding in agreement. "And hope that, by sparing one world, he would spare another and so on and so forth."

"How do we do such a thing? How do we convince Megatron to give up millennia of destruction?"

Elita smiled then, a small smile, and gazed up into her beloved's optics. "Not us, spark of my spark. She must do it. And we must convince her that life is worth living. Otherwise there is no hope for this world. Otherwise, there is no hope for us."

His gaze crossed the snow covered mountains once again, touching on the shadows of the clouds, the white crust of snow on the stone shelf around them. And then it swept out to the human inhabited areas far below, to the lives that went on, oblivious that the fate of their entire world was being decided on that cliff face high above. That it rested in the tiny hands of a human woman who wanted death more than she ever wanted life.

And then he looked down into the optics of his mate, his spark's only desire, and nodded.

Moments lost though time remains
I am so proud of what we were
No pain remains, no feeling
Eternity awaits

Grant me wings that I might fly
My restless soul is longing
No pain remains, no feeling
Eternity awaits