"CRIMINY, Arnold, WAKE UP ALREADY!"
He jolted awake at the feeling of being shaken almost violently, and his eyes flew all around to see that the lights were on, the people were dancing to up-beat music, and that he was still sitting on the couch with a very frustrated Helga gripping his shoulders and a slight scowl on her face.
He blinked rapidly. 'HUH?' It was about this time that he realized he must have been dreaming, and he felt himself deflate instantly. 'Awwww... I just can't catch a break, can I?' And he realized, only now on a conscious level, that Helga had once again made him feel as if he were in heaven, and then sent him straight back into heck, just like that. 'How ironic...' He sighed. 'I can't even kiss her in my dreams, now?'
Helga let go of his shoulders then, giving him a very annoyed look, though he noticed that a slight blush was on her cheeks. Helga let out a sigh then, her eyebrow still narrowed at him. "Thank goodness you're awake. You kept muttering my name in your sleep." Her blush got a bit bolder due to some giggles coming from some of the other girls sitting on the couch by her. She glared at them all a second. She noticed then, amidst her glaring, Lyle come inside from the deck finally, since he'd been just gazing at the stars for most of the evening now, and felt a bit of excitement rise up in her. She cleared her throat, her blush finally beginning to diminish as she brought her eyes back to Arnold's both alarmed and slightly upset ones. "Uh..." She stood up, offering him a hand. "Ya want to dance?"
Arnold's mind completely blanched out at those four, simple words, before it fired back up into overdrive and he felt a grin spread across his face as he stood up. "Okay," He took her hand, bringing her out onto the dance floor, completely ignoring the other giggling girls.
Arnold stopped just in the middle of the dance floor, turning to Helga and putting his hands on her waist without a moment's hesitation (He'd been waiting for a chance to dance with her for YEARS). Helga just put her hands on his shoulders tentatively, glancing around to try and spot Lyle again amongst the crowd. It figured Arnold had dragged them right into the middle of a bunch of people. She couldn't see any-Oh, there he was! She felt her heart flutter at the sight of him, just leaning against the wall and gazing out at the other couples contently. Helga gulped, her heart fluttering ever so gently as she stared at him.
"What do you keep looking at?"
She snapped her eyes back to Arnold's finally, who was just turning his head now to glance in the direction she'd just had her head turned. Panicking, she grabbed him by his chin and forced his face back to facing her's. Arnold blinked, his mouth forming a small 'o' in surprise. She laughed a bit nervously. "N-Nothing important, Honey."
And thus, he melted against her, his questioning green gaze melting away, and she mentally sighed in relief, thankful that had worked. Hearing the song speed up a little, though, and the feeling of Arnold embracing her so tightly and lovingly becoming increasingly more awkward, she began trying to dance her way out of his arms, her feet doing a multitude of different dance steps and patterns.
Arnold felt her moving out of his embrace, and pouted a bit dazedly a moment, before he felt her grab his hand and twirl him around real quick. He blinked a few times to try and fully process what had just happened and to gain back his bearings as he was a bit dizzy now, before the realization that she was currently dancing circles around him hit him and he felt himself flush. He knew she could dance, he just didn't know she could dance this GOOD... He swallowed down the urge to grab her and kiss the living daylights out of her, and just settled on beginning to dance himself, his hips moving and his feet all over the place.
Helga blinked in surprise upon seeing him join in her dancing full on, before a slightly impressed smile spread across her lips. She did a little twirl, and saw then how he, in response, smacked his heels a few times against the floor and then even managed to do a small split before coming back up fully and continuing to dance, and if she didn't know any better, she could've sworn she saw him smirk ever so slightly when he did so. Helga laughed. "Wow. Where'd you learn to dance?" She asked loudly over the music.
Arnold grabbed her hands, pulling her to him and telling her simply, "My grandma taught me." He pushed her away from him then, continuing to dance with a small, half-smile on his face as he looked at her.
Helga just laughed a little at his response. "That's a little weird. Your grandma's pretty old, isn't she? Where did she find the energy?"
Arnold had to hold back a laugh at her questions, thinking back on all the cartwheels his grandmother had done just this morning in the hallway. He shook his head. "You'd be surprised."
Helga just shrugged at his response, her dancing lightening up a bit now as the song had cooled down.
Arnold did the same, putting his hands back on her hips and swaying happily to the music. "So, where did you learn?" He blushed, his eyes shifting away shyly. "You're really good..."
Helga just smiled, shrugging her shoulders as she answered casually, "Thanks. My sister forced me to take dance classes with her a few years back." She rolled her eyes. "Despite how annoying being around Olga so much was, I actually did learn quite a few things." She placed her hands back on his shoulders, swaying.
Arnold smiled stiffly, trying not to show too much emotion at the mention of her sibling's name. He banished these thoughts from his mind, though, managing to smile a more genuine smile at her. "Well, did you at least have fun?"
Helga shrugged, her eyes half-lidded. "Eh, it was okay. Would've been better if there weren't a bunch of girly-girls in the class. But then again," She added with a snicker, "I guess I should be used to girly-girls considering I'm friends with RHONDA LLOYD."
Arnold chuckled warmly, feeling his heart flutter at her sense of humor. "Yeah, I-"
"Mind if I cut in?"
Arnold stiffened at the voice, his eyes hardening. He turned to Lyle, who was smiling in a very friendly manner at him that made his stomach churn. He narrowed his eyes slightly. "Well, actually-"
Helga let go of Arnold's shoulders instantly, already grabbing Lyle's arm and leading him away. "Thanks, Arnold!" She yelled over her shoulder, disappearing into the crowd.
Arnold frowned deeply, digging his hands violently into his pockets and wandering out of the crowd.
Later on, everyone was gathered around the flat screen television, watching a horror/romance movie, if you could believe that. The horror was for the guys, and the romance for the girls, so no one could complain.
Arnold sat uncomfortably next to his best friend, his eyes consistently being drawn to Helga and Lyle who were sitting together... pretty closely, if you asked him. He felt his heart ache and his nausea level rise, and frowned even broader as he stood up, whispering to Gerald, "I think I'm going to turn in early." He noticed Gerald was giving him a concerned look now, but he ignored it, and instead just separated himself from the crowd inconspicuously, making it up the spiral staircase and to his room, where he laid down and fell asleep almost instantly, the exhaustion from his very long day finally catching up with him.
Arnold jolted awake, his hands clammy and his heart pounding as his eyes snapped all across the room, taking in his surroundings. He noticed that a few boys had their sleeping bags set up beside his bed (Gerald being one of them), and felt himself sigh in both relief and grief from realizing it had all been a dream. He tentatively laid back down in his bed, trying to ignore any and all thoughts of his previous dream...
'But what if this all really doesn't work out, and Helga ends up dumping me for Lyle...?' His face paled even more at the thought, and after a few more minutes worth of thoughts much like this, he concluded to himself that sleep just wasn't going to come to him tonight. He sighed, getting out of bed and carefully stepping over all the sleeping boys, before walking drearily down the stairs, feeling his heart drop with each step.
All the lights were off, he noticed, and it sounded like everyone was asleep considering the almost deafening silence, only to be filled in by the sounds of the water they were floating on swishing back and forth every so often. Suddenly, though, as he made it to the bottom of the stairs, he noticed two figures out on the deck, standing in front of each other. He blinked, taking a step closer as voices began drifting in from the door not being fully closed...
"B-But, I just thought... I mean, you asked me to dance and then we sat together for the movie and we were having such a good time. You keep sending out mixed signals! You like me, you don't like me, you like me, you don't like me. It never ends!"
"Helga, I've always liked you, and I'll admit I do enjoy spending time with you, but the point I'm trying to get across is that I don't like you like you..."
Arnold blinked in shock, coming a few steps closer and hiding himself behind the couch, trying to ignore the pangs of guilt he felt for how he was very obviously eavesdropping.
Helga's voice drifted in, sounding very irritated and confused and even a drop of hurt in there that broke his heart, "Well, why not? You liked me before! What changed? What's wrong with me?"
"Oh, Helga, there's nothing wrong with you. I just think you're the wrong girl for me. And as for what changed - My feelings did. You know how these things are, Helga. People change, feelings change..."
"But we only went out for three days! You barely even gave us a chance!"
"Still, it was enough time, Helga, and I'm sorry to say that I really don't like you like that. Please understand. There are plenty of other boys that like you. I saw you and Arnold flirting just a few-"
"Oh, Lyle, forget Arnold a moment," Arnold's heart shattered. "forget Brainy, and Arnie, and anyone else who may be holding a secret torch for me. I... I only... I mean... I really like you a lot, Lyle. You're sweet and kind and thoughtful and-"
"And I don't like you like that, Helga. I can't control how I feel."
"Have you even tried?"
"Fine, fine, I'm sorry..."
"It's okay. Now what I-"
"And you're so forgiving!" Did she just swoon? Arnold's eye twitched a little, and he sunk down lower behind the couch.
"Helga, listen, I think you're sweet, funny, talented, and... an all around nice girl." Arnold snorted quietly in bitterness. 'Understatement of the century. You don't deserve her.' "But I just don't like you like that. It's as simple as that. I can't change it, and even if I could, by the way you're acting, I'm not quite sure if I even would."
"I'm sorry, Helga. I didn't mean to snap at you. But you're just so frustrating sometimes."
"Listen, Helga, I really am sorry about all this. I do hope we can still be friends, though."
"Goodnight, Helga." He heard footsteps coming inside and then ascending the stairs again, and luckily since it was so dark he didn't notice Arnold sitting behind the couch.
Arnold stood up when he was sure Lyle was gone, and looked over to see through the glass doors that Helga had her back turned to him. He frowned, walking quietly over to the doors. Once he did, he was almost sure he'd heard her whisper, "Night, Lyle." Arnold slid the door open, which was surprisingly quiet, and stood in the doorway mentally preparing himself. He expected tears, anger, maybe even some of that bitterness he'd unwillingly held in his own heart... but she didn't make a sound. He took a hesitant step forward, and her head turned at the sound of his footsteps. When he saw her face, he noticed that there were no tears or anything on her face, just a slightly bitter disappointment and some sadness. Still, he hated it. He offered a sad smile, and she just gave him a slightly fearful look for a second before she laughed quietly to herself, bitterly. "You hear all that?"
Arnold nodded slightly, walking the remainder of the way over to her and setting a hand on her shoulder in comfort. "I'm sorry..."
Helga just sighed, shaking her head. "Don't be. If anything, I'm the one who should be sorry. I used you to make Lyle jealous." She frowned deeply. "What kind of a person am I?" She walked away from him then and sat down on one of the plush white chairs with a slight huff, taking care not to look at him.
Arnold just sighed lightly to himself before walking over to sit down next to her, rubbing her back gently. "You're a confused person with a good heart." He smiled.
Helga blinked in shock, looking over at him with wide eyes. "What?"
Arnold blinked, before smiling again and repeating, "You're confused, but have a good heart."
Helga narrowed her eyebrow down in utter bewilderment, looking at him strangely. "Why are you still here?" He'd just found out that she'd been using him the whole time, and yet he was still here. What was wrong with him?
Arnold couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. "Well, I'm here trying to make you feel better over some jerk who-..." He caught himself, blushing and giving her a shameful look. "I'm sorry... I just meant, that I don't think he deserved you, anyway." He looked down at his hands in his lap.
Helga raised one side of her eyebrow, asking half-jokingly, half-seriously, "Are you trying to say that you think YOU deserve me?"
Arnold snorted slightly, laughing. "Of course not." He blushed, looking over at her again with a kind smile. "But then again, I don't think anyone really deserves you, to be honest."
Helga looked away, feeling a slight blush coming to her cheeks. "Heh, heh, thanks, I guess..."
Arnold smiled warmly at her. "You're welcome."
After a few moments of silence, Helga glanced at him somewhat hesitantly, licking her lips. "So you're not mad at me for using you?"
Arnold sighed, looking back down at his lap. "I'm not mad... just sad." He rubbed his arm.
Helga sighed this time, much more loudly than he had. "I'm sorry. I only proposed the whole 'girlfriend for a week' thing because someone dared me to be your girlfriend for a week, and originally I'd said no, but then she started talking about how it would make Lyle jealous and how if I didn't accept I'd lose my position as Queen of Pranks and..." She groaned, falling back onto the long chair. "I'm sorry I suck so much. You probably hate me now."
Arnold shook his head at her, adjusting himself so he could look down at her. "It's not that simple, Helga."
Helga blinked, looking over at him with one side of her eyebrow raised. "What do you mean?"
Arnold sighed, laying back down on the long chair beside her, and folding his arms behind his head as he gazed up at the stars. "I've been IN LOVE with you since preschool... that's SEVEN years, Helga." He looked over at her with as serious expression. "Seven years of TRYING to stop, TRYING to get over it, and every single time..." He lost his train of thought when she shifted over to laying on he side to look at him better, her head a bit closer to his than it had been before. He stared with his mouth slightly agape. Helga just sighed, snapping her fingers in front of his face. Arnold blinked a few times, coming back to reality. He chuckled in realization that he'd just drifted off into his daydreams again. He smiled at her with half-lidded eyes. "I just can't." He stroked her hair back lovingly.
Helga allowed him to do so, though there was a hint of uneasiness in her eyes, she tried to ignore her instincts at batting his hand away. He was just being affectionate, and after seven years of unrequited love, she figured he deserved a break for once. Though she hated to admit it, she did kind of like that he loved her so much. It proved she was actually worth caring about. It proved her parents wrong, and that made her feel really good. And so, she just allowed him to stroke her hair back gently, and looking at her with that caring, green gaze. Helga sighed lightly at his expression and actions, her eyes shifting down. "I'm sorry."
He blinked, finally ceasing in stroking her hair back and giving her a questioning look. "What for now?"
"For putting you through all this unrequited love stuff. If it really is worse than just getting dumped by your crush, then I can only imagine how painful that must be for you."
Arnold smiled softly at her, beginning to stroke her hair back once again. "You really don't have to apologize, Helga. You've been doing that enough tonight."
She sighed, rolling her eyes a little to herself. "Yeah, I'm sorry." She hit her forehead with the palm of her hand, shaking her head. "I'm just sleepy," She explained, letting her hand drop from her face, "and being too tired sometimes makes me overly sappy."
Arnold chuckled, turning over on his own side to look at her. "Well, I kind of like it. It's cute." He blushed, glancing away.
Helga stared at him, blinking her eyes in amazement. "You really do love me, don't you?"
Arnold snapped his light green eyes to her, raising a very incredulous eyebrow at her. "At this point, you're really going to ask me that?"
Helga chuckled, rolling back over on her back, a hand behind her head as her other hand scratched her stomach. "Well, I don't know. I know I always said that you loved me and everything, it's just that it... it never really seemed REAL. I mean, why would anyone really fall for me? It's not like I have anything really great to offer. I mean, Brainy likes me, but I honestly don't think he's really in love or anything. I'm pretty sure that's just a crush, but I don't know. And then there's your cousin, Arnie. That was DEFINITELY just a crush-"
"Arnie is not my cousin anymore." Arnold interjected firmly, a large frown on his face.
Helga laughed, remembering back when Arnie had confessed that he loved her and then started dragging her all over the place on "dates", despite her horrific answer of "NO WAY! LEAVE ME ALONE!" Arnold had been supremely jealous and angry on the whole thing, especially since Arnie KNEW that he was in love with her. Helga could only imagine the horrible things they must have done to each other when Arnie got home. Two boys who liked the same girl being under the same roof could definitely not be a good thing.
Getting back on track, though, Helga looked over at him with an amused shake of her head. "Yeah, that whole experience was horrible for BOTH of us, trust me." She winked, giggling slightly. "But as I was saying, I'm pretty sure he just had a crush on me, 'cause he got over it pretty quickly it seemed. But you," She looked at him strangely, yet with some awe mixed in there. "you really do seem to love me."
Arnold smiled warmly, wanting so badly to hold her right then, though he managed to hold himself back. "Well, of course I do. You're sweet, and kind, and caring, and funny, and witty, and talented, and passionate, and beautiful, and..." He sighed dreamily. "You're perfect." He murmured dreamily, scooting closer to her unconsciously.
Helga, a massive blush on her cheeks, laughed a little in nervousness and embarrassment. "I'm not perfect, Arnold. I've got flaws, you know. And a LOT of them, too."
Arnold laughed softly, the lovesickness still glowing in his eyes as he gazed at her. "I know that, Helga. But your flaws only help to make you even more charming." He scooted closer to her.
Helga gulped, realizing how close he was getting, and scooted herself away from him. She laughed nervously. "Heh, heh, heh... I've never heard it put quite like that before."
Arnold sighed softly, scooting closer and humming in the back of his throat. "You know, Helga..." He played with some of her hair absent-mindedly, twirling it around his fingers as he gazed at her. "I never did understand what you saw in Lyle. He's nice, I guess, but..." He sniffed her hair, sighing blissfully. "What shampoo do you use?" He asked in a very dazed sounding voice, completely forgetting about what he was talking about.
Helga eyed him uncomfortably, twitching at how close he was and how he kept smelling her hair. 'I wonder if he knows how creepy he is sometimes...' "Uh... I can't remember the name. It's some fruity smelling junk." She shrugged. "But I like Lyle because he's honest, and kind, and very thoughtful, and handsome, and sweet, and-"
"Helga..." Arnold moaned sadly, his green eyes looking almost gray.
Helga blinked, coming out of her daydreams. She smiled apologetically at him, patting his cheek quick to try and comfort him. "Sorry. But don't worry. It's not like anything can come of it anyway." She sighed sadly, before groaning slightly in frustration, and narrowing her unibrow up at the sky. "I just don't understand why he doesn't like me. He used to. What did I do wrong?" She looked over at Arnold.
Arnold could see in her eyes that she was seeking some kind of security and understanding, and the fact that she was asking him for it made his heart swell. He smiled at her with soft eyes. "You didn't do anything wrong, Helga. It's not your fault he can't see what a wonderful person you are." He sighed softly again, his eyes going half-lidded and his heart pounding at all his thoughts of Helga.
Helga noticed the look in his eyes, and frowned lightly, snapping her fingers again. "No, Arnold, stay with me here."
He blinked, his eyes going wide. He blushed darkly, glancing away. "I'm sorry..."
Helga eyed him, before shaking her head with an amused, half-smile. "You know, you daydream an awful lot."
Arnold shrugged, the blush not completely gone from his face. "I-I know. I can't help it." He looked at her, his eyes going half-lidded again in that dreamy gaze. "You have that effect on me."
Helga quirked her mouth to one side, seeing how he was lost again. "I see." She smacked his cheek with the palm of her hand, causing him to yelp slightly and give her a questioning look, rubbing his cheek. She laughed at his reaction, smirking at him. "But can you keep your large head out of the clouds long enough to make me feel a little better here? You didn't just get dumped by the person you thought you were destined for." She giggled.
Arnold looked her over, still rubbing the cheek she'd just hit. "You don't seem all that sad to me..." His hand dropped from his cheek, a small frown now crossing his face. "And in a way, I did just get dumped by the person I love." He caught himself about to sigh miserably, and blinked, forcing a smile to come to his face as he looked at her. This wasn't about him. She mattered a lot more, and the last thing he wanted from her was pity... "But really, do you think you'll be okay?" A genuinely concerned look came to his face.
Helga couldn't help but stare at him, realizing he was right. She'd just been rejected (AGAIN) by a guy she'd had a crush on for only about four months... and HE'D just gotten the girl he'd been in love with for seven years to give him a chance finally and be his girlfriend, find out he was being used and the whole thing was just a joke, and have his heart broken all in the same day... And to think she was complaining... and yet he was still more concerned about HER. She gaped at him slightly. Since WHEN was anyone this nice? "I'll be fine, Arnold." She heard herself say, and blinked in surprise at her automatic answer. She paused a moment, realizing that that was right... She really did feel like she'd be okay. Lyle was just a crush. She didn't want a crush. She wanted love. Despite seeing that painful tint to the boy's green eyes, she could also see this strange happiness jutting around in there too. Love definitely seemed more appealing to her. She sat up, her elbow supporting her as she pointed a firm finger at him. "But you won't be will you?"
Arnold blinked in surprise, giving her a questioning look. "Helga, I don't-"
"Tell me you're okay with us breaking up." She narrowed her eyes at him, the finger still in his face.
Arnold gaped at her, stammering for a way out of this conversation, "H-Helga, I - I mean, i-it's okay, really. I'll... I'll..." His eyes darted around. He didn't want to talk about this. He didn't want to burden her with his problems when she had her own, much more important ones.
Helga frowned, her finger finally falling from his face. "You see? You can't even say it."
Arnold was about to stammer another excuse, but he stopped himself and sighed, looking up at her in exasperation. "Please, Helga, I don't want you to worry about me. I'll deal with it, you don't-"
Helga put a finger to his mouth, silencing him, as a small smile fell across her face. "And that's exactly why I'm not going to break up with you."
Arnold's eyes widened, as he stared at her unblinking in incomprehension. Had he heard her right? "You're what?" He asked quietly.
Helga smirked at him, sitting up all the way and crossing her arms over her chest. "I'm not going to break up with you. Our deal is still on. Only this time instead of one measly little week, how does a month sound? The week will just be a formality, you know, so I don't lose the bet and lose my rightful role as Queen of Pranks. So you've got one month, and we can do all the usual boyfriend/girlfriend stuff. Go on dates, spend lots of time together, and bla bla bla. But I will need my space, because you can get a little weird if I stay around you too long. So if I say I need to go, don't question me. And at the end of the month, if I like you enough to want to keep spending time with you, we'll continue dating. How does that sound, huh?"
Arnold stared at her. His jaw had dropped somewhere during her proposition, and he'd pinched himself in the middle of all that to make sure he wasn't dreaming. Thankfully, he wasn't, though he guessed he should've known that already, otherwise they would have gotten to the making out a LONG time ago. But his brain had all but shut down, and he couldn't feel his lungs responding, so he guessed he must have stopped breathing. The silence was deafening, but he just couldn't find his voice. So he did the only thing he could think to do.
He sat up next to her slowly, staring at her a moment longer before he flew forward and wrapped his arms around her happily, hugging her with all his might.
Helga gasped in surprise when he hugged her, before a smile came to her face at the sound of him-... What was that sound? Did he just SWOON? She couldn't help the roll of chuckles that bubbled up from her chest, hugging him back.
Arnold tightened his grip on her briefly, before he pulled back and grinned at her, giving her a huge kiss on the cheek. "Oh, thank you, Helga! I promise you won't regret it!" A thought occurred to him then, and he shifted in her loose arms to look down at his watch, seeing how late it was. "Oh no." He looked up at her in concern. "We should really go to bed, Helga." He stood up, walking over to the sliding glass doors, waiting for her.
Helga, a blush on her cheeks from him so unexpectedly kissing her (Which was strange, since she rarely ever blushed), stood up from the chair and wandered over to him. But before she could reach to open the door, Arnold opened it up for her and gestured her to go inside with a smile. Her blush got stronger, and she walked inside, hearing his footsteps following after.
This had been a very interesting day for both kids, and as Arnold kissed her hand sweetly and then wandered back into his room, Helga couldn't help but think she'd made the right choice in still giving him a chance.
Only time would tell if she was right.