From chapter 8:

Well, whaddya know? I think I'm still alive. Not only alive, but with the mother of all hangovers.

Spike didn't open his eyes, partly because he could see light through his lids, and light was definitely not something he was interested in at the moment. Not with this headache. Partly, however, he kept them shut because he wasn't sure where he was. Not on the Bebop, that was certain. The Bebop had never smelled so clean. Sanitized.

You're in a hospital, you idiot. That's the only place you could be if you're still alive. But whoever heard of a hospital where there was singing?

A woman was singing, and definitely not Faye. This woman was on key. The voice wasn't great, but it was pretty. Like waking up to bird song in the morning, something he hadn't done for a long time. Then he heard the lyrics, and the comparison to bird song fled. She was singing a bawdy little bar ditty called Why Did You Do That? He almost smiled. He would have, except he would rather know a little more about where he was and how he'd gotten there before he admitted to being awake.

He wasn't sure why he was alive in the first place. He wasn't supposed to be. Vicious had always said that only he could kill him, and Spike had believed he'd done it. Apparently not. For a bad moment, he wondered if Vicious were alive, too, somewhere in this hospital or whatever it was, but he dismissed the thought. He'd shot enough people to know death when he saw it. Vicious was dead, but, somehow, he himself had survived.

He slitted his eyes. Perhaps because he was expecting it, he noticed the difference right away. If nothing else, Vicious' death had brought him out of the dream. Both his eyes were seeing the same thing. Having a woman nearby, singing, did remind him of Julia, but it was a memory, not a vision.

However, it was a memory far too raw and painful to linger over. Instead, he looked around as best he could through his lashes. The room was too big for a hospital room, and except for what was immediately around him, it was equipped more like a lab. That's not good.

After a moment he found the singing woman. She was sitting at a long table, filling out paperwork with temperamental little slashes of her stylus, emphasizing her irritation by growling the lyrics of the song. She was really more a girl than a woman, small and compact, with a mass of unruly blonde curls, badly cut and inefficiently pulled back with two clips. She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, sitting on a stool with her feet swinging inches from the floor, back and forth like some little kid. He thought she was cute.

No one else was in the room with them. He supposed it was time to wake up officially. He said the first thing that came into his mind. "Hey. You have a cigarette?"

His voice was weak, barely more than a whisper, but he got her attention. She shrieked and jumped. Then she bounced up and trotted over to peer at him. He winked at her.

She grinned. "I'll skip the obvious exclamations, like, oh-you're-awake," she said, reaching down to lay fingers on his wrist.

Following her movement with his eyes, he realized that he was strapped down to the bed. "What's this for?" he demanded. He was going to tug at the restraints, but his arms wouldn't respond. That worried him.

"You were thrashing around in your sleep. Not a good thing to do for a man in your condition."

Thrashing around. Then he wasn't paralyzed. "And just what is my condition?"

"Lets say you couldn't arm wrestle a two-year-old," she said, bending to loosen the straps on his arms.

 He tried to move one arm. She was right. A two-year-old could have creamed him. "Think you could be a bit more specific?"

"Later, maybe. How do you feel?"

"Like shit."

"Think you could be a bit more specific?"

"I will if you will."

She laughed. "You first."

"My head feels like it's imploded, and I can't move. Much. Other than that, I'm just fine. Nothing hurts except my head, but that hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. Where am I, anyway? This isn't a hospital."

"It is right now. It's a private facility set up by the ISSP."

"Yeah? The ISSP? Why would they do that for me?"

She gave him an odd look, then said, "Disorientation is a common symptom."

"Symptom of what? And I'm not disoriented."

"Symptom of short-term cryosleep. What's your last memory?"

"Falling down on the stairs."

She sighed. "Oh, dear. I'm too ignorant to help here. Do you remember your name?"


She waited. So did he. At last they both grinned and she said, "OK, you win. I'll ask it. What is your name?"

"Spike Spiegel. What's yours?"

She gaped at him. "Spike Spiegel?"

What had he done to get that reaction?

Then she did something even more strange. She scowled at him and said, "Quit joking."

"I'm not. That's my name. You don't like it?"

"You can't be Spike Spiegel."

"Somebody took over my identity while I was out?"

"No. Spike Spiegel's dead."

He blinked. "I don't feel that bad."