Ryouta shivered. He had been cold for so long, waiting in cryogenic storage until science could purge the deadly Charon virus from his body. He opened his eyes to an unfamiliar hospital ceiling.
This was so disorienting that he closed them again. Where was he? Why was he lying on his back instead of sitting on a perch? And why couldn't he see his own beak? Did they have to amputate it because of cryogenic freezer burn?
He groped up toward his face. Instead of his own famiiar wingtip, he saw... a hand. A featherless, naked human hand. He tried to sit up, and promptly fell back again.
Dr. Iwamine was perched at the foot of his bed, looking strangely small but no less dangerous. "I see you are awake at last, Mr. Kawara. Sadly, it proved impossible to remove the Charon virus from your original bird body. So I decided to transplant your brain into this human one. It will take some time to reorient all of your reflexes, so don't attempt to walk- or fly- anywhere just yet." Almost as an afterthought, Dr. Iwamine added, "Don't worry, you're still male. A fine young specimen. Hohohoho. Should I call in Miss Tousaka?"
Ryouta wondered where and how Dr. Iwamine had obtained this human male body, but decided not to ask. Instead, he just nodded weakly. "You brought back Hiyoko too? That's great. I'd love to see her again."
As Dr. Iwamine fluttered off, Ryouta's thoughts raced. So he was a human now. A human male. This could be wonderful- now he could spend the rest of his life with Hiyoko as proper mates. They could build a nest together, where they could lay eggs and raise little monkey chicks and everything.
Dr. Iwamine soon returned. "They'll bring her in a few minutes."
"Did you find a new body for her too, or did you fix her old one?"
"Oh, her original body was much too damaged to repair. And I must say, you made my task much more difficult by giving Labor 9 that nasty electric shock. I had to trim away some of the most damaged portions of her brain. Her basic personality still seems intact, just as cheerful and lively as ever, But she, too, will require a long period of physical therapy and readjustment to the new body I transplated her into."
"As long as she's still the same Hiyoko at heart- I mean at brain- I don't care what she looks like."
"I'm glad to hear you say that. And so will she, I think. Ah, here she comes."
A nurse rolled a wheelchair through the door. Ryouta turned his head, eager to see the occupant of the wheelchair, and then stared back at Dr. Iwamine again.
The doctor shrugged. "It seemed the best solution. This body happened to be available, and after so much trimming, her brain easily fits into the cranium. Isn't that right, Miss Tousaka?"
The wheelchair held a large birdcage with an ordinary parrot in it. The parrot cocked its head at the doctor and replied, "Miss Tousaka, awk!"
"Hiyoko," Ryouta pleaded, "you remember me, right? Tell me you're still in there, Hiyoko!"