She knew who he was, of course. His photo had been in so many newspapers that there was no mistaking that face. What she never suspected was that he might eventually be brought here.

She should have hated him, but she didn't. Once she had tried to make herself hate him but all she had been able to think about had been the cats. All those cats. It had been one of her many duties to clean the litter boxes. The smell had been horrendous.

Now looking at him lying there unconscious, all she could feel for him was the pity tempered with professional distance she felt for all attempted suicide victims. He looked so incredibly ordinary, locks of long blondish hair falling over his eyes, a thin scar running down one side of his ashen face, both arms and legs encased in casts.

Now all that remained was to wait and see whether the brain surgery had been a success.

The first thing he was aware of was the sounds. Not Beethoven's Ninth Symphony again, thank goodness, but simply the ordinary routine sounds heard during a typical hospital day. Beeping monitors, footsteps, hushed voices.

A light, pleasant scent temporarily overshadowed the antiseptic aroma of the hospital room. A perfume trail left by a devochtka who had recently been there. Devotchkas. He felt a faint flicker of desire that was, surprisingly, not accompanied by a wave of nausea. Although he was, of course, currently in no shape at all for the old in-out, in-out. Still, a lad could dream.

He wondered when she would return.