I had gone dumpster diving with one of my friends, and since Mom had said I needed to walk Kurdis, the family St. Bernard, I'd brought him along as well. I was scrounging in the dumpsters behind the local computer company; it was usually pretty low-grade stuff, but occasionally, I found some accessories to add to James, my most loyal friend and computer. James was a work-in-progress, who was increasingly dominating my room, but the selection tonight for hardware was dismal.

"This sucks" I muttered.

"Well what do you expect? Everyone knows that the employees get anything of value before it gets here." That was Erika for you. One could always depend on condescension from that quarter. People who always have to be right are incredibly annoying.

I was about to deliver one of my famous scathing remarks when I caught a glimpse of Kurdis out of the corner of my eye. He was bounding towards us dragging a long box, still shrink-wrapped.

"What in the hell is that dog carrying?" Erika, who was closer to Kurdis than I, no longer sounded quite so arrogant. More stunned, really.

I was naturally curious, so I walked over to Kurdis and tried to convince him to let go. Being a dog, he decided that must mean I wanted to play. It took me about five minutes to get the edge of the box out of his teeth, after which I just stared.

The package, as it were, was a shade between lavender and violet, and was still wrapped in the clear shrink-wrapping. The label on the box, written in silvery print, said simply "Blond." I started to laugh; it was certainly that.

The "blond" was a life-size mannequin with shoulder-length, golden hair and emerald eyes. Although the design of the box hid it, he quite obviously wasn't wearing much else other than the hair. I tilted my head as I regarded the equipment that was most prominently on display. The selling point here was pretty obvious.

I smiled. My mother was going to have a fit.

"You aren't taking that.thing home are you?" I hadn't before realized how prudish Erika really was. I think her Catholic parents were beginning to have too much of an effect. She actually sounded repulsed by the idea of an X-rated doll sitting in my room.

"Oh, come on. It's not like I'm going to use it for its intended purpose." I grinned at Erika's now furiously red face. "He'll be good company for James."

"I don't want to know how you think your computer will put that thing to use."

I arched an eyebrow. "And you think I'm perverted?"

* * *

I somehow managed to sneak the mannequin past my parents, who were busy watching TV in the living room. Good thing, too, because Mom would have passed out if she'd seen what I'd been carrying. Dad probably would have just laughed and made some crack about how he was glad I was practicing safe sex.

I deposited the doll on the floor, and set about unwrapping him. A cloud of silver dust was released from the package, but I dismissed it as being the result of age. It probably had been passed around as a bachelorette party gag for years now. Pulling him out of his package, I was surprised that his plastic skin wasn't cool to the touch; after all, it had been cold out there.

I contemplated him silently for a moment before stating aloud that he was in need of some clothes, and snuck into my brother Alex's room to swipe some clothes. The boy had so many he probably wouldn't miss one outfit, anyway. And if he did, I'd be the last person he would suspect. Soon I had him dressed in the finest the GAP had to offer; stonewashed jeans and a muted green button-down shirt. And sunglasses, because he naturally was the type to wear them constantly.

He needed a name. I tried out several, but none seemed to fit. He needed a name to match the hair, I thought. For some reason, I hit on "Aidan," a rather Celtic-sounding one, but it seemed to work, so I shrugged, deposited him in the garage-sale reject that passed as a chair, and went back downstairs to spend some quality time with ER.

* * *

As soon as the door clicked shut behind the strange dark-haired girl, Aidan sat up in the chair and looked around, after whipping off the sunglasses. Why people insisted on wearing the things when it wasn't necessary was beyond him. He glanced down at himself and shrugged. "At least I'm not naked," he murmured to himself as he stretched out his legs to gaze balefully at his bare feet. No chance of escape, then.

Pulling himself to his feet in order to get a better look at his new surroundings. The room was sort of small to begin with, and it was utterly dominated by a massive computer with more accessories than anyone should ever need.

"You must be James," he said. "That girl didn't stop complaining about her lack of success in finding more hardware to connect to you the entire trip back here. Personally, I think it looks as if more hardware would choke you."

"It probably would," the CPU replied. "But Lisa is a firm believer in more is more."

Aidan's green eyes widened. "Computers aren't supposed to talk" he stated matter-of-factly.

"And male lovedolls are?"

Interesting. He was in a small, dark bedroom with a talking computer. A sarcastic, talking computer. He didn't seem to be endowed with much luck lately, that was for certain.

Aidan decided the best course of action would be to ignore the machine and try to learn as much as possible about that girl before she came back upstairs. The other girl, the one called Erika, had called her Lisa. He knew the dog's name was Kurdis, and there were several pictures of him around the room, pasted to the walls. What was most fascinating was the black and white photo collage taking up the entirety of the bulletin board over the bed. The pictures themselves were of ordinary things: houses, roads, people, plants, and animals. The interesting part was the swirls and designs that seemed to mingle throughout the whole thing. Lisa had somehow matched up colors in the different pictures so that designs were implicitly visible throughout.

He was still gazing at the board when he heard a strangled gasp behind him. Spinning, he saw that Lisa was standing frozen in her doorway, gazing dumbfounded at the formerly plastic figure that was trying to decipher a pattern in her collage.

Aidan took the opportunity to get a clearer picture of Lisa. She had dark brown hair, almost black, and startling blue eyes that looked like they belonged on someone of much lighter coloring. The effect was to immediately draw the viewer to her eyes, which were at this moment opened wider than he had ever seen eyes before.

Looking beyond the strictly physical features, it was obvious that Lisa didn't spend much time on herself. The hair was neatly brushed, but not styled by any means, and her clothes seemed to be late grunge relics.

Aidan let his gaze coast back up to Lisa's face. She was still frozen in the same spot, with the same expression that she had when he turned around.

"You might want to shut the door," Aidan said sardonically. "I don't think your mother would appreciate my presence."

* * *

I sputtered. I really had every right to; after all, it's hardly the normal run of things to leave a plastic doll in your room and return to find a very not plastic man staring at your wall. It's really quite disconcerting.

"Lisa, you might want to shut the door now." The voice was not the same one I had heard moments before. This voice appeared to be coming from James. I blinked. James was a computer. I could have sworn those were supposed to be inanimate.

Somehow managing to shut the door before my parents wandered down the hall, I collapsed on the floor. "This is really beginning to be a bit much. Has my room become an inter-dimensional portal, or something?"

"You've been reading too much science fiction," two male voices chorused.

I narrowed my eyes. "Don't make me hurt you," I said, gaining soft laughter from the both of them.

Turning to Aidan, I said, "Are you done yet, or do I have to return you to the dumpster?" That seemed to quiet both he and James, since the latter was smart enough to hear the implicit threat as well.

Now," I stated in as firm a tone as possible. "Would one of you mind telling me what the hell is going on here?"

Aidan shrugged. "I have no idea. I started to have some awareness when you picked me up."

I've had awareness since you unpacked me," James stated. "Since that's apparently the case with him too, I would guess that it has more to do with you than us."

"Brilliant. Just what I've always wanted, the ability to bring inanimate objects to life. As if I'm not enough of a freak already." I flopped down on my bed, burying my head in my arms.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" It was Aidan, and he was beginning to sound rather impatient.

"My course of action for the moment consists of me going to bed," I said, my voice muffled under the sheets, where I was doing my best to change without giving either of the other two a show. "I'll try to think of something tomorrow."

"Like what?" It was James, this time.

"I have no idea."

* * *

I woke the next morning with no more clue of what to do when I went to bed. Not to mention an irritable male lovedoll who had no clue how to behave in the world. I stared down at my hands. There was something there, apparently. I carefully touched the ratty bear at the foot of my bed and waited. Nothing. "Well," I thought as I fell back on my bed. "That sure doesn't clear anything up."

"Having problems?" asked a muffled voice from the floor. I glanced down to see a mop of honey blond hair.

"Yeah," I sighed. "It would figure that I'd be stuck with a superpower that is unpredictable and probably not reversible.

"Do you really need to reverse it?" inquired Aidan, rolling onto his back. "I mean, it would seem logical to let James keep his speaking ability; it would make it easier when he has problems."

"I do not have problems," came an irritable voice from the corner. "Inept humans cause problems, not computers."

"Whatever," said Aidan airily.

Before James could respond I decided to forestall the argument. "You know, it's generally not wise to accuse the person capable of smashing in your brain of ineptitude."

Further comments from my apparently snobbish computer thus prevented, I again turned to Aidan.

"You have a valid point. But what about you? I don't exactly want to explain to my parents how a twenty-something male came to be living in my room."

"I can pretend to be plastic," he said hopefully.

"I somehow don't think that would work. You don't even look even remotely plastic."

"Is that a compliment?" Aidan asked, lifting his eyebrows.


* * *

By the end of the weekend, I still hadn't come up with a solution, and the only thing we'd discovered about my "power" was that it only worked on James and Aidan. Anything else in the room remained stationary and insentient. It wasn't until two weeks later that we had an explanation, and we didn't even come up with it ourselves.

It had been a long night. I had put in a full day at school, done my homework, and then proceeded to spend the rest of the night once again trying to figure out what the hell was going on. As usual, we met with no success, and I fell asleep on James' keyboard around four AM.

I had been asleep no longer than an hour when my dreams were visited by an outside presence. She appeared to be human, but there was also something remotely otherworldly about her.

This girl had long, night-dark hair and golden eyes and golden skin. She was dressed entirely in black, and wore a long black trench coat.

"I really thought you were brighter than this," she remarked.

Now, I am unaccustomed to nocturnal visits from fantastical beings. My knowledge of them mainly comes from books, and those hadn't painted a picture of an insulting species. So I have to say that it came as a jolt to not only have one in my dream, but to have it degrade my intelligence as well. My response was, therefore, somewhat incoherent. In short, I stared at her with my mouth gaping open.

She raised her eyebrows. "Something wrong with my face?"

"N-no," I stammered before getting a hold on myself. "You mind telling who the hell you are?"

"I am Ana," she said, sketching a slight bow.

"Ah," I replied. "And, this, of course, explains everything."

"Ana" rolled her eyes as she flopped down on a couch that I had not noticed previously.

"I have to explain things to you."

"About my newfound power to give life to mannequins and computers?"

"Yeah. Although it's certainly not limited to that." She paused. "Living things are not the only things that possess souls.

"Some stones, water, the air, all these things have unique essences. And sometimes, things made by humans are inadvertently given souls. Like your computer, and that."

"I call him Aidan. Generally, they're referred to as male lovedolls." I interjected sardonically.

"Anyway. Sometimes these things get souls. They only have to be awakened. You have the power to do this." She smiled at me. "It's a very special gift."

"Sure it is." I said sarcastically. "It's always been my dream to be able to awaken the souls of rocks."

Ana blew out a breath. "Look. You don't have a choice in the matter. You have this. You woke them up, and you can't put them back to sleep. It's not a reversible process. Learn to deal with it. It's hardly the end of the world."

She stood up in one fluid motion. "But watch yourself. This is something that some will not hesitate to exploit."

As Ana turned to leave my dream, I stopped her. "Don't you have any suggestions as to what I'm supposed to do with the twenty-five year old man in my bedroom?"

She shrugged. "Stuff him into the closet?"

"It might work," I thought before I drifted into a different dream.

* * *

I awoke the next morning, for once remembering, and believing, what I had dreamed. I furrowed by brows. I was the Awakener. It was strange, to say the least. As well as inconvenient. I turned to look down at Aidan's sleeping form. This, I mused, was definitely going to cause me problems.