We crawled into the bed, my freedom circumscribed some by the oxygen, but even so I could get on top of him and take his shirt off and taste the sweat on the skin below his collarbone as I whispered into his skin, “I love you, Augustus Waters,” his body relaxing beneath mine as he heard me say it. He reached down and tried to pull my shirt off, but it got tangled in the tube. I laughed.

* * *

“How do you do this every day?” he asked as I disentangled my shirt from the tubes. Idiotically, it occurred to me that my pink underwear didn’t match my purple bra, as if boys even notice such things. I crawled under the covers and kicked out of my jeans and socks and then watched the comforter dance as beneath it, Augustus removed first his jeans and then his leg.

* * *

We were lying on our backs next to each other, everything hidden by the covers, and after a second I reached over for his thigh and let my hand trail downward to the stump, the thick scarred skin. I held the stump for a second. He flinched. “It hurts?” I asked. “No,” he said. He flipped himself onto his side and kissed me. “You’re so hot,” I said, my hand still on his leg. “I’m starting to think you have an amputee fetish,” he answered, still kissing me. I laughed. “I have an Augustus Waters fetish,” I explained.

The whole affair was the precise opposite of what I figured it would be: slow and patient and quiet and neither particularly painful nor particularly ecstatic. There were a lot of condomy problems that I did not get a particularly good look at. No headboards were broken. No screaming. Honestly, it was probably the longest time we’d ever spent together without talking.