Love in the Air
by BlueNight (Luke Allen)

1999


"The Diamond Solitaire Ring. Will she say yes? Or will she say nothing at all?"

The TV droned on, that nippy Autumn day, as the cafeteria filled with students. The salad bar was more popular since the Change, but the pizza was still the favorite meal at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. People often said it was the best cafeteria food they had ever eaten.

Luke was one of those people. Since starting New Mexico Tech in the summer of 1997, he had eaten there daily. His roommate Nick was a rather common red fox morph, and a very mundane-minded one at that, but at least he had an N64, a TV, and a microwave. Luke chose to eat in the cafeteria, since his parents were paying for two meals a day, and he would pay for microwaveable meals out of his own pocket.

As he walked away from the buffet with a full tray, he scanned the room for empty tables. He had arrived nearly twenty minutes into lunch, and there was not a single empty table in the place. At a second glance, he realized that one table far from the TV had one inhabitant, and the other tables were empty on the sides facing the one student.

She was a skunk.

He walked over and sat down. Her table was rectangular, and she was seated just left of the middle, on the side facing the TV. Luke chose to sit across from her, but to one side. His reason for doing so was to let her ignore him if she chose. She wasn't in any of his classes, and he had only seen her once on campus, two days before in the computer lab.

Her face was quite lonely, and he knew that the other students might be snubbing her. He breathed through his nose while he ate, and could barely smell skunk odor. She started the conversation.

"Sadie. Sadie Skunk."

"Luke Lizard." He grinned.

She grinned too. "I guess that makes two of us."

The conversation paused while they ate. Luke continued after swallowing. "Do you have a boyfriend?"

She frowned at the unusual question. "No, I just got here. Why?"

Luke realized that he was in for a pound, as the cliche goes. "Do you remember Tiny Toons?"

Sadie nodded. "Fifi?"

Luke nodded, trying not to grin.

Sadie said, "Would you like to be my boyfriend?"

Luke froze. His heart raced, as he realized that he was in uncharted territory. "Actually, I'd like to look at you for hours on end, and maybe hold your hand. Does that count?"

Sadie giggled, as a tear rolled down her cheek. "I guess so."

Luke felt the need to explain, as he so often did. "I've never actually had a girlfriend before. I thought that maybe I could learn."

Sadie's eyebrows rose. "You don't mind the smell?"

Luke started shivering. "Actually..." He looked down at his food, then into her eyes. "I find it very intoxicating."

Fetishes. They may lead to emotional ruin, or they may lead to love. Luke and Sadie had a tight relationship, made tighter by the fact that she was studying to be a psychologist. She was the first to suggest he look up Asperger's Syndrome.

The first rule of war is, know your enemy. He knew his, and battled it constantly, to make real life more enjoyable. His grades improved.

They discovered that his Power, an electromagnetic ability, interacted with her previously unknown polymorphing. She could become nearly any critter related to skunks, including an extinct form that was muskless, but virtually identical to her normal form. When she was more than ten feet from him, she stayed in the form she possessed when she went out of range. Her social life improved, and she saved money on Musk-Away and tomato sauce.

After the winter break, he started taking Art.

Let's fast-forward to the middle of February, 1998.

Sadie opened her NMT PO box. Inside was a pink envelope.

She opened the envelope. "Thanks for figuring out what was wrong with me," was written on the outside of the card, squiggled around a picture of a dozen red roses. She opened it. "Be careful what you wish for, you might find it. --Luke the Lizard"

Her heart leaped. He knew! He knew that she was attracted to him for his Asperger's Syndrome in the same way that he had been attracted by her musk, her social apartness. She turned the card over, as most people do, just to be sure she hadn't missed anything. On the back was a tiny cartoon lizard, Warner Bros style, saying, "Turn around and look down, Sadie."

She turned around, and Luke was there. On one knee. With a ring. With his eyes staring into hers. With a heart-shaped balloon tied around his tail.

She said nothing at all.

She was too busy laughing and crying.



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