Paul and Teeth were assigned to the same dormitory hall their freshman year of college, only Paul didn’t know that until a month after school had begun, because Teeth had missed the first month of school. All Paul knew is that one morning he woke up and a boy he had never seen before was in the communal bathroom using his toothbrush, and he thought he was still dreaming. But then the boy smiled and Paul forgot whose toothbrush it was and if he was asleep wishing he were awake or awake disbelieving he was alive.

That was just the kind of person Teeth was. His exhalations alone could heal you.

Paul was aware that his union with Teeth was founded on a moth’s wing, yet it was the bedrock of his imagination and his possibility, and it regularly amazed him that something so contingent could feel so thought-out and truthful.

Teeth inspired Paul’s art and found his science fascinating, and Paul appreciated him for that. Late some nights, Paul would sneak him into the lab so that while he worked on his brain slides he could be calmed by Teeth’s vibrations or revived by Teeth’s threats to pitch lab apparatus into his clavicle. Instinctively Paul would flinch, but deep down he knew Teeth would never actually throw the stuff. That just wasn’t the kind of person he was.

Paul remembered the night the slides finally got done. It was 4 A.M., Teeth was reclined on the counter like an Urbinic Venus in Converse high-tops, and they both stared at them for a long while, these slices of brain from birds emanating like filaments of connection.

The brain slides were for an experiment documenting cell regrowth in response to traumatic brain injury—the body mending itself, saying everything was going to be O.K. and that certain things never happened.

“This is sick shit, man,” said Teeth, still taking in the slides. “You should turn this in as your art final. Two birds one stone.”

He looked up at Paul in sudden astonishment. “Woah. Pun.”