Leo first saw her at a frat party the week after he and Sam got back to Princeton. She was a Nordic goddess, as pale as ice with hair nearly as white as her skin spilling to her hips, where it was cut in a line so straight it must've been sighted by a laser. A wide silver collar radiated outward from her neck, looking like something futuristically Egyptian, and the white dress that floated away beneath it covered only the legal minimum of her lithe, writhing body. The only color on her was her vivid blue-green eyes, half-shuttered behind her lashes as she writhed to the pounding techno music, grinding against the guy behind her.

Leo swallowed. And nudged his roommate to look in the chica's direction. "I think I just found the girl of my dreams," he said hoarsely.

Sam looked toward the dance floor and blinked. Even if he had Mikaela, no man was immune to something like that. She was bringing sexy back. "Good luck. Just remember your last 'dream girl' tried to kill us both."

"That was a one-time thing!" Leo protested, eyes fast on the vision.

"Whatever. Good luck." Sam nudged him with one elbow toward the dance floor, and turned to go mingle elsewhere.

By the time Leo got through the crowd, though, the goddess and her dance partner had vanished, and no amount of searching turned her up.

Just his luck.

Simulacra: Hide and Seek
by K. Stonham
first released 25th June 2009

Sam blinked when the platinum blonde from the party showed up in Astronomy 101 the next day, shadowed by a guy who was clearly a boyfriend from the protective way he was acting. Unlike her, he looked completely average, with short brown hair and crystal blue eyes, wearing a camo t-shirt and blue jeans... and was built like a quarterback. The both of them met eyes with Sam, which he was getting used to by now--get your face plastered all over every news media in the world and people don't stop wondering why--but took seats two rows in front of him and Leo without bothering to ask Sam "Aren't you--?"

Which was good. Sam was getting very tired of having to say "No comment."

He looked at his roommate, whose gaze was fixed on the blonde like a starving man's on a buffet. "Leo," Sam warned quietly, "you say one word to her about 'heavenly bodies' and get me beaten up by her boyfriend, I swear to God himself that I'm going to ask my 'friends' to help me hide your body."

"Oh, that is so cheating."

"Whatever your dating plans are, leave me out of them." Sam was firm on this.

Then Professor Colan came in and the lecture started.

Sam--with the knowledge of the Allspark unfolding in his head these days--could barely keep himself from snorting at some points, and instead let himself continue scribing the Covenant into the notebook he'd designated for that purpose.

Thus occupied, it completely escaped his notice that Platinum and Jock found Colan's lecture as ridiculous as he did.

"Mira," Leo moaned ecstatically, collapsing backward onto his bed, miraculously unbruised. "Her name is Mira Lagerlof and she's rooming on the floor above us."

Sam looked over at the other bunk from where he was reading (rereading, actually, they'd covered it in CP English his junior year of high school) Hedda Gabler. "And her boyfriend?" he asked pointedly.

"Henry Deere." Leo frowned. "Rooming the floor below us. He's nice. Polite. He can't possibly be that clueless."

"Maybe he thinks you don't have a chance," Sam said sweetly.

"Bitch--!" Leo fumbled for something to throw and ended up lobbing his pillow at Sam, who batted it away effortlessly.

"And I thought you didn't poach," Sam said more seriously.

"Hey, chica's out in the wide world for the first time, coming out of a sheltered environment--you should hear her accent, man, she's clearly old money--it's practically my duty to show her that she's got options!"

A car horn interrupted what Sam was going to say next. A very familiar car horn. Sounding from what sounded like directly underneath his and Leo's dorm window.

"Bumblebee," he interpreted for Leo's benefit, and headed for the door, followed by his curious roommate.

Sam had long since given up wondering how Bumblebee always, always knew where he was. A more suspicious mind like Simmons' might have postulated alien tracking devices implanted during opportune periods of unconsciousness. Sam simply knew that his alien guardian was innately attuned to his unique bioelectrical signature... indistinguishable as one among billions of humans, unless you knew and cared about it as closely as Bumblebee did.

Still, he was not expecting his closest friend to come visit bearing passengers.

"Mira?" Leo asked, quickly swiping a hand through his hair. "And Henry," he added as the other student got out of Bumblebee's passenger seat.

Sam's eyes darted between their two classmates and his car. "You... know each other?" he asked, trying to draw a bead on the situation without giving away things that he--and Leo--were still not allowed to talk about until the government made up their minds.

Bumblebee's radio clicked on. "You've got a friend in me," Randy Newman crooned.

"Right. Friends." Sam eyed the two humans. "Known each other long...?" he fished.

Henry smiled and took a few steps forward while Mira remained by Bumblebee's driver's door. "A few thousand years," he replied. His voice held a hint of a Midwestern twang. He held out a hand to Sam. "My name's Hound." Sam's gaze suddenly caught on the silver pendant Hound wore.

The Autobot symbol was intimately familiar, and Sam relaxed immediately, shaking Hound's hand with a smile. "Sam Witwicky," he introduced himself. "And I guess you've already met Leo."

"Yeah." Leo nodded at the other man.

"My partner Mirage," Hound said, gesturing at Mira. "We just got here."

"'Mirage'...?" Leo questioned, and Sam saw the penny start to drop for his roommate. "Wait, you're not?"

"Pretender-class infiltrators," Hound confirmed, though that probably didn't mean as much to Leo as it did to Sam, whose thoughts for a split-second swam with information about technorganic disguises and it would have been really handy to have had that information two weeks ago....

"Like Alice," Sam needed to confirm.

"Flip Sides." Hound nodded.

"Wait wait wait... you're robots?" Leo stared first at Hound, then in increasing horror at Mirage. She gazed impassively back at him.

"*dingdingding* Give the man a prize and tell him what he's won!" the voice of a game show announcer came from Bumblebee's speakers.

"Shut it, buzzbot," Leo immediately retorted, glaring at the gleaming Camaro. Bumblebee's engine revved in response.

"Oh, knock it off, both of you," Sam interjected, glaring. He waited a moment until both subsided, then turned his attention back to Hound. "So no offense or anything, Hound, but... why are you here?"

"Prime," Mirage said, speaking for the first time, and Leo was right, her accent did speak of breeding and old money, "asked us to guard you in the places that Bumblebee can't go."

"The Decepticons have already tried to get at you here once," Hound elaborated. "No one wants that to happen again."

With everything in Sam's head, and especially with the government not yet having handed down or forced some exception to the freshman no-car rule for Sam... yeah. He could run, but fighting alien robots wasn't his strength. "No argument here," he agreed. He looked beyond Hound to Bumblebee. "You okay with this, Bumblebee?"

"Yeah yeah yeah yeah!" a rock singer screamed from the radio.

"He is still your primary guardian," Mirage spoke, sounding like she was choosing her words carefully. "We are merely... assistants. Adjutants, if you will."

"Actually," Hound added, grinning, "I was wondering if I could ask for your help with that English Lit. assignment."

Lying on his bed in the dark, much later that evening, Leo tried not to think about the fact that Mira's room was right above his. Or that she was probably in there right now, wearing nothing but a skimpy nightie as she went to bed... if she was wearing anything at all. Did robots wear anything to sleep? Did robots even need to sleep?

"You're thinking something perverted," Sam's voice came from across the room.

"Man, I am not! How do you know?"

"You're breathing," Sam replied in a reasonable tone. Leo fought down the urge to throw his pillow at Sam again. It might not get thrown back.

"She's hot! Even if she is from another planet."

"She's a robot, Leo. Remember Alice? The tentacle bitch Decepticon who tried to kill us not two weeks ago?"

"Tried to kill you," Leo pointed out.

"Fine. Go ahead. Try for gasoline kisses. See if I care," his roommate retorted.

"Don't think I haven't noticed how you and Mikaela look at that car of yours," Leo rejoined. "Man, don't be accusing me of interspecies without taking a good look in the mirror first!"

There was a moment of silence. As it stretched on, Leo began to worry that maybe he'd crossed the line. "Sam--"

"I'll tell you this," Sam's voice cut levelly across his. "They live a hundred times as long as we do, or more. They're strong and powerful in ways we can only imagine. But their sparks are just as fragile as human hearts, and as easy to break. If you fuck things up, the repercussions are going to go on for a lot longer than you're ever going to be alive, Leo." There was a minute of silence before Sam tacked on, "And if you're just after pussy... they don't have the same anatomy we do."

"They don't?" Leo asked, almost whimpered, eyes wide in the darkness.

"Good night, Leo."

He stayed awake a long time, staring into the darkness up at the ceiling and the room above him.