(Please see Artist's Comments for warnings and disclaimers)
Bumblebee sat in silence by the bedside, on the cold linoleum floor, looking to his hands, clasped on his lap. He prayed to Primus. He prayed that his friend wouldn't suffer when... when the time came.
'Bee?' An aged, tired voice called him. 'You there?'
'I'm here!' Bumblebee jumped to his feet and clasped his friend's hand when the other reached out, looking for him. 'How're you feeling?'
'Tired.' Spike replied, opening his eyes. 'How long have I been out?'
'Its almost... eleven in the day.' Bumblebee checked his internal chronometers and converted the time for Spike to understand. 'Do you want anything-'
'Where's Carly?' Spike asked.
'She's gone out.' Bumblebee replied, 'she should be back soon.'
It hurt to Bumblebee's very spark to lie to his friend, but he didn't want to hurt him with the truth. Carly had passed on five years ago. The entire Autobot team had been present at her funeral, just as they had been present at Sparkplug's funeral many years earlier. Daniel, his one true spark, his son, was stationed in deep space, too far to transport back to Earth even if Cosmos or Omega Supreme traveled at full speed.
Spike had been taken ill so suddenly, surprising everyone in the Autobot team.
Ratchet had rushed him to the hospital facilities, Bumblebee had stayed around the clock with him as the medics gave their verdict.
Bumblebee hadn't changed, and neither had his Autobot friends. They were Cybertronians, just a little dent here and there, new armour replacements, but they remained timeless while their human friends... Bumblebee recalled Spike's suffering as Sparkplug had aged and passed on, then Carly, and now... now it was Spike's turn to leave them.
'Bee?' Spike asked. 'You're kinda quiet. What's the matter?'
Bumblebee looked to his friend's hand. It was so thin now, the skin almost transparent, scarred and crisscrossed by time. So fragile when compared to his own steel ones.
He remembered an adventurous human youngster, strong, valiant, always eager to learn more about them, willing to risk life and limb when danger called, one of the bravest beings and best friend Bumblebee had ever known.
And now my best friend is dying, Bumblebee mourned, and there is nothing I can do.
He'd watched Spike change. One moment he was a youngster, then a human adult with a family. Bumblebee studied the fragile ancient on the hospital bed. It made him feel so useless, to watch his friend slipping away from him and unable to do anything but watch and let it happen.
'Don' be scared, Bee.' Spike patted Bumblebee's hand. 'It's just my time.'
'It doesn't seem fair. Not at all fair.' Bumblebee shook his helm. 'Why do humans have such short lives?'
'Maybe to help us appreciate it more.' Spike smiled a little, his features retrieving some of their youthful, defiant expression. 'Honestly though, I'd rather be rolling than lying here.'
'The medics said-'
'You do everything Ratchet says?' Spike asked with a wheezy chuckle.
'Are you hungry, Spike?' Bumblebee asked, encouraged his friend had regained some lucidity, 'you haven't taken any nourishment since last night.'
'Nawh.' Spike shook his head a little. 'To tell the truth I'm tired of being here. How about we go pick up Carly and go for a chocolate shake?'
'You bet buddy.' Bumblebee did his best to smile. 'As soon as the docs give you the all clear.'
Spike was silent for a bit, his eyes staring at the ceiling.
'Bee?' Spike asked.
'Dad's dead, isn't he?' Spike asked, his eyes welling up slowly with tears. 'So's Carly, isn't she?' A tear ran down Spike's temple, 'I... I think...' Spike's words blurred into a sob.
'I... I'm sorry, Spike.' Bumblebee held his friend's hand and clutched it as tightly as he could without hurting him.
'I don't want to be here anymore.' Spike said, removing his hand from Bumblebee's and clutching at the crisp hospital sheets about him. 'I want to go home.'
'Yeah,' Spike nodded, looking to Bumblebee. 'Take me home, Bee.'
'Just one last time,' Spike smiled, 'let's roll for home.'
'Okay, Spike.' Bumblebee was moved to his core and enveloped his friend in his arms. 'We're going home.'
Bumblebee had informed the medics of Spike's wishes, and Spike had been lucid enough to let them know he no longer wanted to occupy the austere hospital room.
He wanted to go home and that was that.
Bumblebee had informed Prime and the others and a body of Autobots had been present as Bumblebee had carried Spike in his arm and out of the hospital.
'Hey, Prime.' Spike greeted the Autobot leader waiting outside.
'We would be honoured to escort you home, Spike.' Prime spoke.
'Thanks, Optimus. But, if you don't mind, I want to ride with, Bee' Spike smiled, 'just like old times, eh?'
'Autobots,' Prime ordered with a tinge of sadness in his voice, 'transform, and roll for home.'
Bumblebee transformed around Spike's fragile body, and led the way.
'Just like old times.' Spike said wistfully, watching the landscape roll by as the Autobot convoy sped to their old volcano base where their ship had crashed a long time ago.
'It sure is buddy,' Bumblebee spoke. 'It sure is.'
'We're going to meet Carly later, right?' Spike asked. 'Then you, me, Carly and Ironhide'll go catch a movie. I wonder if Hound wants to come along?'
'I'll check what's playing at the drive in.' Bumblebee spoke gently. 'We'll have a good time.'
'I hope the Decepticreeps don't cause any trouble.' Spike chuckled. 'Megatron's been kinda quiet lately.'
'Don't you worry, Spike.' Bumblebee reassured him. 'We'll kick their afts for sure!'
Bumblebee was glad to see Spike so filled with energy once more.
Spike was talking now, recalling old battles and all the crazy times they'd shared.
'Bee,' Spike asked wistfully, 'I think I'm going to take a nap now.' He smiled. 'Wake me up when we get there?'
'You got it buddy!' Bumblebee replied.
'Thanks, Bee.' Spike smiled and closed his eyes. 'You know, I love you guys, but you'll always be my best friend.'
'Friends to the end!' Bumblebee said.
'Yeah.' Spike Nodded and leaned back on his seat.
Bumblebee was glad when Spike fell asleep during the long ride back to base.
Maybe being back on the old headquarters would cheer him up, he hoped, and sped on.
A few hours later they reached the main entrance. It had long been abandoned after Autobot city had been rebuilt. Bumblebee hoped Spike wouldn't be disheartened to see it in such poor repair.
'Here we are!' Bumblebee announced. 'Everybody out!'
Spike didn't stir and Bumblebee shook his vehicle frame a little. He felt sorry for disturbing his rest but the day was growing late and nightfall looked near. he didn't want Spike's fragile body to be exposed to the lowering desert temperatures.
'Hey, Spike?' Bumblebee asked, 'we're here.'
Spike didn't stir and Bumblebee began to grow concerned.
'Spike?' he asked, running a scan and detecting... nothing!
No heartbeat, no breathing. Sometime during their long ride home Spike's spark had slipped away from his body and 'Spike...' Bumblebee asked, his spark dimming at the realisation but his mind refusing to accept what had occurred. 'Oh no! No, no, no!'
'Bumblebee.' Optimus Prime transformed and knelt beside Bumblebee, realising what had occurred. 'I'm sorry.'
'He wanted... I brought you home, Spike!' Bumblebee spoke mournfully, 'I brought you home like I promised! You can wake up now, we're here.'
No one spoke and Bumblebee mourned in silence, cradling his best friend's small body within him. Such a small, fragile life. His best friend had come and gone in a fragment of time.
'Bumblebee-' Prime began.
'I-It's all right, Prime.' Bumblebee remained in vehicle mode and drove slowly into the entrance of their former base. 'I kept my promise Spike. You can rest now.'
'Where are you taking him?' Prime asked.
'Inside.' Bumblebee spoke. 'He was a brave human and a hero. He should lie in state at the altar of Primus, as a hero should.'
Optimus Prime nodded and watched as Bumblebee carried the remains of their human friend inside their old home, to rest at last as a hero should, mourned by those that loved him, remembered for all his brave and selfless deeds and carried always in his friends' sparks.