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Strip for 2/12/2001  
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This is the strip that puts the "special" into Valentine Special. This special strip for Monday. If you haven't seen Saturday's strip yet (because you're one of those readers who reads during the week) then, by all means, read that one first.

So when I left you, I was in the excited throes of this wonderful relationship with Quad Girl, my first college relationship. The third date, that date where both parties either decide to date or to just be friends had passed. And it had gone well, although she mentioned that she had an ex-boyfriend who hated the idea of her dating anyone so we should take it slow. I didn't mind. Because she'd said, she'd finally laid it out that yes, she wanted to be with me. She liked me for my wits, for my grin, for the way I'd peer into her eyes through the tops of mine. It was gravy and biscuits.

And then it was just biscuits.

I'm not sure when I felt it first, but I guess it should have been apparent in those first steps that I detailed on Saturday. I felt that I was a lot more into this than she was. I mean, I'd look forward to the weekends when I could see her. I'd look for nice days when we could go on walks. But up until that point, I don't think she ever called me, or emailed me a letter that wasn't a reply to something I had written her.

Looking through the emails, I see her excuses piled up. Midterms, events at her dorm, all things keeping us apart. The dinner I planned for her birthday, circumvented by a visit from her mother and sister. Her excuses, all bearing those same words signing off, "Smile, Kip." At the time, I saw those messages as instruments of fate, keeping us apart so that absence would make the heart grow fonder. I had forgotten the lessons I'd learned in high school that absence, like wind, could fan those flames but it could also blow them out.

One high point. She'd gotten a computer virus that'd knocked her computer flat and she desperately needed help and she'd called the guy in her dorm who was supposed to help with such matters and he hadn't leaped to help her (why? was he blind?) so I went on over (<whip noise>) and I was taken aback because it actually wasn't anything I'd really seen before. But hormones carried me through and I got it working and I think I could have definitely kissed her that night but it didn't feel right to take advantage of the good will engendered through what should have been an altruistic act so I hugged her tight, wished her luck on her paper and left.

I should have arranged for her computer to be infected every other week.

So finals week of winter quarter rolled nearby. She was of course, swamped with work. As was I. I tried to cram in as many random accidental Quad Girl encounters as possible. I think I lived in Rick's room that week, "working" on physics and helping him with computer science. Hell, one day, I wrote up a bunch of skeleton code for him. But we went to breakfast one morning, I remember. All the time she could spare for me.

And at breakfast I forgave her all her neglect because she talked about us in a way that gave me hope for a future, no, the future. She talked about how her dad would like me. I joked that my parents would like her once they got past her eyebrow ring. Relationship tautology: there will be moments that you want to last forever. That morning sparkled. It was a cold spring morning with the sky blue and air so thin that we felt like we were moving at double speed. And then we weren't moving at all and the air froze. I remember that morning. I don't think she would.

Wednesday: the air blows the flame out.