-_-_-_-

They treated themselves to a picnic lunch in the park. Gerald knew Helga liked spontaneous things, so he was glad that he had found her outside the school intstead of in it.

Now they sat cuddling on the small hill they had chosen. Gerald was watching Helga intently as they lay in a comfortable silence. They had become friends in eighth grade and eventually Helga asked Gerald to the movies in the summer before eleventh grade. She had changed so much since fourth grade, but seven years can do that to you. As time passed Helga, like all girls, had become more interested in her looks though she said to her friends Phoebe and Rhonda that the 'beautifying' as they called it, was more for herself than any guy. Around the start of seventh grade the unibrow had gone, and she had developed some curves that summer so in eighth grade she had found herself getting more and more attention from her male classmates. She was somewhat tall now, around 5'6" and thin. Her hair had curled up from some recessive gene on Miriam's side of the family in ninth and it set off her face perfectly. What had changed more than anything was her attitude. She had figured out that it wasn't such a big deal if she had had a crush on Arnold, and almost everyone knew anyway. Gerald chuckled at the memory of when she had fought tooth and claw every day in fourth grade while stroking her curly mane.

Helga looked up and smirked, "What are you laughing at?"

He met her eyes as he answered, "Nothing 'Madam Fortress Mommy', just some memories."

Helga's eyes danced as replied, "Oh really, 'tall hair boy'?"

Gerald held her closer and smiled, "Yeah really."

Calling Gerald 'tall hair boy', was something of a misnomer as Gerald hadn't had tall hair since seventh grade. Now he wore it in somewhat tight curls as it was naturally. He had smooth golden brown skin and was tall yet muscley, at 6 foot even. He played for the basketball team, and was still trying to get Helga to quit soccer and join the cheerleading squad.

The time passed and soon they had to go back to the high school. Helga kissed Gerald again before getting off the bike in front of their school.

"You should've stayed home Gerald. You're sick. And if I get mono because of you and have to quit the soccer team you'd better get used to wanking off by yourself because I won't be doing it for you."

Gerald shrugged expressively, "Relax, girl. Its not mono, my mom's just overreacting. I haven't been sleeping too well lately..."

Helga struck a seductive pose with the bus stop pole, "Could it have anything to do with this?"

Gerald laughed and swept her up into a hug before she went in.

He boarded his motorcycle and going home. His mom was probably back from the store and would she have a mouthful for Gerald being out of bed!

-_-_-_-

Neither Helga or Gerald knew that while they had been feeding each other, Arnold had been boarding a plane with his parents and grandparents. Phil and Gertie had reached the healthy age of 88 and were still alive and well. In fact, Phil was still extremely healthy and Gertie still slightly mad. Arnold's parents had decided that it was important for Phil and Gertie to be living somewhere comfortable and for Arnold to go to college in America. So they had hopped on a plane bound for Seattle and said goodbye to the Green Eyed People the last time. Now Arnold was looking out the window, and wondering what had changed while had gone, or rather who. He had been sent an eighth grade year book of his old classmates by Gerald. He was currently contemplating it.

He noticed Iggy and Phoebe were standing very close together and Phoebe looked slightly pink. He smiled at that, he'd always thought Phoebe was carrying a torch for Gerald. He grimaced at the slang he'd picked up from his grandparents. The pages were worn and dirty and the ink ran on some pages. It had obviously been read a lot. Arnold carefully flipped through, a slight twinge of guilt tweaked his conscience; he felt bad about losing touch with everyone, Gerald especially. He supposed he'd have to make it up to them when he got there. He stopped at one particular picture in which Helga was holding Gerald in a choke hold, and giving him bunny ears. Neither Helga nor Gerald were looking at the camera, rather their eyes were focused on each other while identical grins covered their faces. If someone was to tell him in fourth grade that seemingly Helga and Gerald would become good friends later he would have called them crazy.

That was the effect time had, he supposed. Now that it would only be a fifteen hour plane ride ane he'd be home sweet home. Arnold hadn't told his parents or grandparents this but he was looking forward to his return to civilization more than they knew. Sure, it had been fun and educational trekking through the jungles as one family, and it had been exciting when they had to make a bridge out of palm fronds and vines over a rushing river thousands of feet below, but sometimes he missed the little luxuries of warm water, electricity, and definite shelter for when it rains. The makeshift huts were just what they sounded like makeshift. He also wanted to see two people in particular: Helga and Gerald.

He really missed Gerald. They had been through all those adventures together in the short years of their friendship. He sometimes wondered if Gerald would still be his best friend when he came back. He hoped so. He didn't see how he would be able to come back and fit in if Gerald wasn't at his side like usual.

Then again, there was Helga. Helga had been cruel, selfish, rude and annoying when he had known her, but he had seen past that sometimes. He knew that inside was a scared girl trying to get out. He grinned remembering the phrase, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." He really looked forward to seeing Helga again. He missed her so much it hurt sometimes, and he could tell by the eighth grade yearbook that she had taken off the mask she had worn for so long.
He wished that he could have been there to see the beautiful person he knew was there.

Checking his watch for the third time in the past ten minutes he noted, 'only fourteen hours and twenty minutes till home'.

-_-_-_-

Rhonda and Phoebe were waiting for Helga by the doors, twin smiles gracing their lightly glossed lips adn anticipation was easily read on their faces. Helga smirked and walked right past them, as though they weren't there. She lightly commented,

"Oh I wonder where on earth Phoebe and Rhonda are? I thought they'd *want* to know where Gerald took me before he ravashed me. Oh well, I suppose I'll have to go to class..."

Shock had replaced their anticipation and Helga ticked off the seconds until,

"He WHAT?"

resounded through the corridor. She continued walking at a leisurely pace until she was dragged to the nearest bathroom and forced to spill everything.

Once she was done Rhonda punched her lightly on the arm, "You really had us going there, Helga. Geeze you almost gave me a heart attack."

Phoebe adjusted her 50's era glasses which sparkled with rhinestones, "Me too, good thing I took a Bayer on my way here."

They were still laughing before they were interrupted by Lila, who had been in one of the stalls.

"Well, I think that your relationship with Gerald is just ever so sweet, Helga. Congratulations on your catch."

The three girls rolled their eyes, and Rhonda spat out, "English, Lila. Its this new development. You should learn it sometime."

Lila's eyes narrowed into slits, "Well I did have some interesting information to tell you but since you ever so rudely insulted me, I may just keep it to myself."

Phoebe sighed before rummaging through her purse and tossing her a pack of cigarettes, "Lila, I don't see why you can't just go out and buy them for yourself. They're not expensive or anyting."

Lila lit one up eagerly, "I can't go ruining my reputation, now can I?"

Helga scoffed, "Lila, everyone knows you're addicted. They don't care either. Its not a big deal."

Lila turned her gaze to Helga, "To you it isn't but to me it is. But I do have something that will interest you. In fact, it'll interest you a whole lot."

All three girls turned to face her, Rhonda said, "Spit it out, then. What've you got?"

Lila looked at Helga evenly, ignoring Rhonda's command, "He's coming back, Helga."

Helga stood straight up in genuine surprise, "H-he is?"

Lila nodded in satisfaction, extinguinshed the remains of her cigarette, and stalked out of the bathroom.

Phoebe and Rhonda stared at Helga who just stared at the ceiling. Just as suddenly as the shock had slid across her face, it smoothed out and she commented, "So Arnold's coming back. Oh well, hey you guys are you up to coming to Gerald's tonight and watching some movies."

Phoebe asked, "Wouldn't his mom not want us to come if he's got mono."

Helga smiled, "Please Phoebe, you know Mrs. Johanssen. She thought I had a fever after I came to see him after a track meet because my face was red and I was out of breath. We can go. And yes you can bring Iggy Pheebs. And you," she turned to face Rhonda, "can bring your boy toy of the week."

They exited the bathroom, and went to their next class.

-_-_-_-

Wow, you'll just have to wait to see what I've done to Lila.
;-)

Arynnl

p.s. I don't own Bayer.
insert horns, tail and pitchfork along with wicked grin