Marco can leave the hospital bed, and for that, he is grateful. His balance is unsteady, but with a cane and time, he should be able to get around much the same way he used to. Dana smiles when he moves his hand to touch her cheek, the way she did for him for so long, and, that makes him smile in return. Marco wishes, however, that he could feel her face when he touches it.

His titanium and plastic fingers are flexible , and Marco has been told that they give him 90% of his original range of dexterity. Which was a hundred-percent improvement from before, when the accident had left him numb from the waist down. He knows he is gripping a glass of water due to the weight and texture and resistance his new fingertips sense and he recognizes now the way those sensors tell him the glass is wet with condensation. But he cannot feel it. It’s not the same as being in the hospital bed, but it’s not the same as before he was forced into it either.

Most frustrating, sex is out of the question.

Marco spends a great deal of time on the beach, watching the teenagers splash in the surf, showing off their developing bodies. He watches them laugh and amble about, unused to larger hips or feet. Marco watches the games they play, the ones from their childhood and the games they will continue into adulthood.

One day, Marco is surprised to feel weight and pressure against his back, and when he turns his head, he sees Dana leaning against him. She has a lazy smile on her face. “Are you comfortable? I must be pretty cold…” “Oh, I’m fine,” she says, and snuggles herself in the crook of Marco’s plastic elbow. “You out watching the jailbait, you perv?”

“No, I’m just…I don’t know what I’m doing.” “I like watching the waves break,” Dana says. “The way they crash and slip back. The way they reform.”

“I’m not a wave,” Marco says.

“No, you’re not. But I love you just the same.” Marco feels the pressure of Dana’s arms around his neck, and he touches her arms with his fingers, taking in the texture of the fine hairs on her arm, the rhythm of her pulse. He feels pressure on the side of his face, and when he touches it, his fingertips tell him his cheek was wet.

“You kissed me.”

“Well , I’ll be,” Dana says, her eyes sparkling. “Even a man in a prosthetic body can blush.”