From the Author: The following fanfiction story was inspired by one of my favorite episodes of Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold! "Helga on the Couch" written by Craig Bartlett. I often wondered, upon viewing the repeats of this episode, what would happen if Arnold had to talk to Dr. Bliss about his problems with his arch nemesis, Helga G. Pataki. This following fanfic is my own interpretation of what I believe it would be like. This fanfic is post-confession and, time frame wise, takes place a week or so after the episode "April Fools Day."

Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold! Nickelodeon and Viacom own the show. None of the characters are my own either, they are the creative genius of Master Craig Bartlett.

Dedicated to Holly (a.k.a. Wyldheart)One of my first reviewers and padawans . . . thanks for all of your very kind words, my friend.

Arnold's Couch Confessions

By DarthRoden (a.k.a. Carl)

Chapter One

'This is going to be a very long day!'

Those were the exact words that Dr. Christine Bliss thought to herself the Thursday morning that Mr. Leighliter practically carried Curly into her office at the Hillwood Medical Center. It had been a wild session to say the least.

Mr. Leighliter was putting on a production of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," an ambitious project considering the cast was made up of children ages 8-12 years old from all of the grades at PS 118.

Thadeus "Curly" Gammelthorpe, from Mr. Simmons fourth grade class had been cast into the role of Frodo Baggins, one of the starring roles of the production. He'd been awarded the part for being a good actor . . . too good in fact, as it would turn out. Sometimes good actors get caught up into their parts too much. That had been the case when Mr. Leighliter finished the first dress rehearsal and Curly (a.k.a. Frodo) was unwilling to give back all of his props. Specifically, the ring itself.

Dr. Bliss knew the moment she saw Curly, who had been dragged into the office by an irate Mr. Leighliter still wearing the Hobbit costume from rehearsals, that it would be a very long day. Curly, you see, had been sent to her before, on several different occasions.

Dr. Bliss was now actually lying back on her own office couch, rubbing the bridge of her nose and taking occasional sips of her coffee, recalling the entire hour of Mr. Leighliter demanding, begging, then pleading with Curly to give him back the ring. Curly would look back at him, his eyes wild and shout, "You can't have it! It's mine! It came to me! IT'S MY PRECIOUS!" Dr. Bliss would then try to reason with the deranged child only to get the same response.

In the end, everyone agreed to just let Curly keep the ring until production was concluded. Perhaps then, Dr. Bliss reasoned, Curly would have gotten past this phase. After all, he wasn't apt to lose it. Curly left the office, gently stroking the small, golden band and saying soothing things to it right behind a very disgruntled looking Mr. Leighliter.

Dr. Bliss lay there on her couch, sipping her coffee and waiting for the aspirin to kick in. 'I wonder what else could possibly happen today?' she thought to herself.

Then the buzzer sounded on the intercom, and a voice called out for the speaker. "Dr. Bliss?"

Dr. Bliss stood up, walked over to her desk, and hit the red button. "Yes, Dawn?"

The secretary's voice answered, "There's another patient here to see you, a young boy, but he doesn't have an appointment."

"Well, I don't have any other scheduled appointments today, so send him right in." She answered cheerfully and then released the button. Dr. Bliss then sat down behind her desk to look professional. She found this approach always made new patients feel like they were in good hands.

The door to her office opened up and Dr. Bliss's eyebrows went up, although the rest of her face remained calm.

On the other side of the door was a short, thin boy with blonde hair and a small blue cap angled on top of his distinct football-shaped head.

Dr. Bliss smiled to herself. She knew who Arnold was all too well.

'Well,' she thought, 'So much for wondering about the rest of my afternoon.'

Chapter Two

"Um, Dr. Bliss?" Arnold asked nervously.

"You've found me," she answered, smiling at him warmly. "Please come in."

Arnold smiled slightly and entered, closing the door behind him. He walked over and offered his hand. "My name is Arnold," he said, introducing himself.

Dr. Bliss stood up and shook his hand. "Pleased to meet you, Arnold. I believe I remember you. Aren't you in Mr. Simmons fourth Grade class?" Of course, she knew the answer to that question already.

Arnold smiled, pleasantly surprised. "Yes, I am! Wow! You sure have a good memory!"

Dr. Bliss smiled at him, "Well, it comes in really handy with this job." Her good-natured approach worked, Arnold seemed much more relaxed now. "Please, take a seat, relax Arnold," Dr. Bliss said, gesturing toward the couch.

Arnold sat down in the middle of it, looking around at the furnishings of the office. "Wow, those sure are a lot of books, Dr. Bliss," he said, noticing the large bookcase on the far wall. "Have you read all of them?"

Dr. Bliss actually smiled with irony at that question, and thought of the last patient who made the same comment and asked the same question of her. "Yes, I've read most of them . . ." The next part she added in anticipation ". . . but I didn't write any of them."

Arnold looked at her, the question on his face, but he shrugged it away.

Dr. Bliss sat down in her lounge chair next to the couch, picking up a clipboard as she did so. "So, tell me Arnold, what brings you here?"

Arnold looked down and away, nervously rubbing his upper arm. "Well, it's kind-of a long story. I mean, it may even sound a little silly."

"Don't worry, Arnold, I have no other scheduled appointments today, so we have a lot of time to talk." Then she reassured him, "Anything you say in this room will remain between us. It's my professional code to keep things discussed during secessions confidential."

He looked at her, "Boy, then you must know a lot of things about people, huh?"

Dr. Bliss nodded, thinking about one specific secret in particular as she looked at the football-headed boy before her. "I do, but my professional code is my word. I promise whatever you tell me will stay between us." She put up her right hand and crossed her heart with her left and offered him a reassuring smile.

Arnold smiled slightly again, then he began. "Well, it's about a girl I know in my class . . . her name is Helga."

Dr. Bliss looked up from her clipboard. "Really?" she asked, successful in keeping the surprise from her voice. Her eyebrows went up again.

Chapter Three

Arnold nodded, then looked up at her and asked, "Do you know Helga, Dr. Bliss?"

There was little chance that Dr. Bliss could ever forget Helga G. Pataki.

It had been only about six months ago, or so, that Dr. Bliss first encountered Helga, seeing her in the hallway of PS 118 on her first day as school psychologist. Helga was a nine-year-old bully who bossed around the other kids and yelled constantly, always keeping everything and everyone distant. Her favorite pass time, it appeared to Dr. Bliss, had been picking on one nine-year-old boy in particular, the football-headed boy that was seeking her help and counseling right now. She was also known to punch another student named Brainey, an action that resulted in her being assigned to Dr. Bliss for counseling.

After some effort on Dr. Bliss's part and some evasion on Helga's, she was able to determine the truth about Helga's behavior.

From what Dr. Bliss determined, Helga Pataki was a very lonely girl, whose parents were somewhat neglectful and even forgetful of their youngest daughter in favor of the older one, Olga. As a result, Helga felt as though she wasn't noticed . . . with one notable exception.

Arnold, who'd been in the same class of children with Helga since preschool, seemed to have been the first person in Helga's life that noticed her and shown her any sort of kindness, or understanding. This, in turn, led to very strong feelings of love and admiration on Helga's part for him.

The problem wasn't that Helga was also very shy and nervous, no doubt as a result of her isolation from everyone else, so she built up some mental walls to keep everyone away from her feelings, including Arnold, whom she feared might not love her back. So she became a bully and threatened anyone, or anything that got too close to her closely guarded secret and feelings.

Of course, being a child psychologist, such a thing was not new to Dr. Bliss. What made Helga memorable was the fact that she confessed to creating likenesses of Arnold in her closet. In one case, a sculpture made entirely out of wads of Arnold's own used bubblegum.

All of that information flashed back in Dr. Bliss's mind for a split second.

"Hum, let me think . . ." she said, pretending to remember. "Blonde hair with pigtails, pink bow, one eyebrow?"

Arnold nodded again. "Yes, that's her."

Dr. Bliss smiled, "Yes, I know her. I remember speaking to her once before. School tough girl, right?"

The boy again looked away slightly and let out a very tired sigh, "Right."

"Well, what seems to be the problem you have with Helga?" the psychologist asked him, even though she could guess what it was.

Arnold looked at Dr. Bliss with his bright green eyes and said, "Well, all my life, all Helga has ever done to me is annoy me, play pranks on me and calls me names like football-head, and geek-bait, and basically been a real pain to me. She acts like she hates me and treats me like I've done something wrong to her, or something."

"Why do you think she does that to you, Arnold?" Dr. Bliss asked, genuinely curious as to what he would say.

Arnold just looked down at the carpet, suddenly finding it very interesting. He seemed reluctant to say for a moment, but then he said, "Well, the thing is, I never really understood why she did those things, until recently, when the neighborhood was going to be torn down two months ago, remember?"

Dr. Bliss nodded, remembering the whole Future Tech Industries scandal the previous summer and everything she had seen on the news concerning the whole ordeal, including the amazing actions of several kids that she knew, one of whom was sitting before her now. "Well, what did you find out, Arnold?" she asked him, getting back on track.

Arnold stood up and walked over to the window, his eyes seemed distant as he looked out at the city scape. Then he answered, in a really quiet voice, "Helga told me . . ." He paused only a moment in hesitation and then finished, ". . . she told me that she loved me."

Dr. Bliss was glad that Arnold was looking out the window then, because she was unable to control the wide smile that crossed her face at those words. 'Way to go, Helga!' she thought happily. Helga finally found the courage to tell the one person she cared about the truth. That was the first step in the right direction for her. Dr. Bliss quickly composed herself, remembering who was in the room with her. She realized there was still another side to this. Even though her next question was expected, Dr. Bliss was again curious about the answer.

"How did that make you feel when she told you that?"

Arnold turned facing her, then looked down, again finding the carpet very interesting. "Well, the truth is, I didn't have time to really think about it. At the time we were too busy trying to save the neighborhood, everything was happening too fast. Afterwards, when there was time, both of us were too embarrassed to really talk about it. So we . . . well, we both sort-of agreed that everything happened in the heat of the moment and pretended it never actually happened . . ." He stopped again for a moment, then said, ". . . but I knew it really did. I mean that stuff she told me about the poems and the shrines, and that kiss she gave me –

"Excuse me?" Dr. Bliss interrupted politely, "Did you say she kissed you?"

Arnold's cheeks suddenly went bright red and he rubbed the back of his neck. "Um, yeah. Right after she told me all that other stuff, she grabbed my arms and kissed me . . ." He paused a moment, his cheeks going even redder ". . . for a really long time."

Dr. Bliss began to giggle slightly at the image in her mind. She could just see Helga doing exactly that. Remembering Helga's outpouring of her heart here in this very office, she could envision Helga telling a very shocked Arnold how much she loved him and then grabbing him and . . . well, she could just imagine the shocked look that surely would have appeared on his face when she kissed him.

"What's so funny?" Arnold asked, confused.

Dr. Bliss shrugged, "Well, I remember how Helga acted at school. The image of her doing something like that . . . it's kind-of funny."

Arnold frowned, his eyes took on an annoyed, half-lidded look. "You know, if I wanted to be laughed at, I could have just told my friend Gerald about it."

Dr. Bliss shook her head, smiling. "Arnold, I'm not laughing at you, I promise. It's just strange to picture that image in my mind, that's all. Helga seems like such a tough, strong-willed person on the outside. Thinking about her doing something so passionate is, well, really amusing."

Then she looked at Arnold a moment, and was serious again. "I'm also willing to bet that it's also pretty confusing for you, especially. I mean, considering what you claim she's done to you."

Arnold sighed and nodded, "Yeah, it is."

He walked back over to the couch and sat down. He looked down at the floor again for a moment. "Ever since I first met her, all Helga has ever done is torture me, call me names, insulted or argued with me . . . but for some reason, even though it made me angry, I could never bring myself to actually stay mad, or be resentful to her."

Dr. Bliss nodded and noted this down on her clipboard. "What sort of things has she done to you, exactly?"

Arnold sighed heavily, "Almost every day, she throws about two dozen spit balls at me in class, she squirts me with water from the water fountain, put thumbtacks in my desk seat; stuff like that."

"Simple childhood pranks, stuff of that sort?" Dr. Bliss added. Arnold nodded. "Sounds as if she's put you through a lot of humiliation." She said, looking over at him.

"You don't know the half of it." Arnold said, letting yet another sigh escape his lips once more.

Chapter Four

For the next half-hour Arnold went into a very long list of other pranks and petty tortures pulled on him at the hands of his arch-nemesis, Helga G. Pataki. He told Dr. Bliss about nearly all of the most annoying and humiliating things Helga had ever done to him.

He told her about the time Helga put glue in his desk seat, then poured feathers on his butt and shouted out to the class: "Hey, look! Arnold's a bird!" Dr. Bliss had actually heard that one from Helga in another session, but she kept nodding and noted it on her clipboard. He continued to list a wide variety of childish pranks that he'd had to endure over the course of his young life.

Dr. Bliss looked over the rather long list and said to Arnold, with some degree of sympathy, "Wow, it sure seems like she's put a lot of attention into targeting you, in particular."

Arnold nodded, "Yeah, she sure has. She's done a lot more than just pick on me, she also calls me all kinds of names."

"What exactly does she call you, Arnold?"

"All kinds of stuff," Arnold answered. "Hair-boy, goof-wad, monkey-face, yutz, paste-for-brains, geek-bait . . ." Arnold sighed tiredly, "Of course, her favorite nickname for me is football-

head."

Dr. Bliss smiled, she already knew about that particular nickname. "So tell me, Arnold, have you ever talked about this problem with Helga with anyone else?"

"Well, I talk about it with my Grandpa," Arnold answered.

"Did he ever give you any advice?" Dr. Bliss inquired.

"Well . . . yeah, he did." Arnold answered thoughtfully. "He told me that I should just follow my instincts." Then Arnold added, "In fact, now that I remember, he was the first person to ever suggest to me that Helga might actually like me."

"Well, it sounds like your Grandpa is a really wise man, Arnold." Dr. Bliss observed, smiling.

Arnold smiled slightly and said, "Yeah, sometimes he can be really smart about certain things . . . but most of the time, the only advice he can seem to give me is: 'Never eat raspberries'."

Dr. Bliss looked at him with an eyebrow raised, a silent question on her face. "Don't ask," Arnold said, in response to the silent inquiry.

"Have you talked about Helga's behavior toward you with anyone else?"

Arnold nodded, "Yeah, my best friend, Gerald. He keeps telling me I should try and get back at her."

"I see," Dr. Bliss said, writing that down. She looked at Arnold a moment and asked him, curiously, "How do you usually react to all of this negative attention from Helga?"

"Well, mostly I just do what I've always done, just try to ignore her."

"Mostly?" Dr. Bliss asked, raising her eyebrow again.

Arnold looked down at the floor again, "Well, there have been a couple of occasions that I have fought back, like Gerald said. Like just last week on April Fools Day." Dr. Bliss, looking back down at the clipboard, going over the long list of pranks Helga had already pulled on him, figured that April Fools Day would have been the mother lode for her.

Arnold continued, "She started out, practically announcing that I was going to 'get it' all day long. I ended up with pudding on the seat of my pants and shirt tail. So, I decided to get even . . ." He went on to explain to Dr. Bliss how the prank box his Grandpa gave him later on made Helga go temporarily blind. "After that happened, I just felt really guilty about it and responsible for her."

Dr. Bliss nodded, smiling slightly. "Go on."

Arnold told her how Helga pretended to be blind later on and more or less made him her servant, carrying her across the road twice and buying her ice cream. Then he told her about the April Fools Dance and how Gerald found out she was faking being blind, and how he and Gerald got even by setting up the pool under the dance floor and Helga going in.

Dr. Bliss had to fight back another laugh, which she managed to do successfully this time. "How did it make you feel to get even with her for all that?"

"Well, at the time, it felt very good . . . until she pulled me in and got back at me."

"She pulled you in?" Dr. Bliss asked, curiously.

"When I told her I knew she'd been faking being blind, she looked like I'd won that time, and then asked me to help her out of the pool. When I took her hand, Helga pulled me in and said she got me again."

Dr. Bliss smiled at him. "It was really nice of you to do all that stuff for her when you thought she was blind, then try to help her out after you got even later on."

"Yeah, well, even though she did do all that stuff to me, I started it by trying to get even in the first place. I ignored what my instincts told me to do." Then Arnold lay back on the couch with his hands behind his head. "There was another time a few months back, when we had to do a project together in class and me and Helga fought over a can of paint. She threw it on my shirt, so I threw some back at her."

Dr. Bliss nodded, still making notes. "And how did that incident make you feel, Arnold?"

"I didn't feel very good about it. Instead of ignoring her like I should have, I stooped down to her level and acted no differently." He sighed deeply. "After all these years, I would think I'd be used to all of it, but somehow, Helga just manages to find another way to get on my nerves." He lifted his head to look at Dr. Bliss. "Why do you think that is, Dr. Bliss?"

Dr. Bliss had a good idea why that was, but she couldn't explain. Mostly, because Arnold wouldn't believe her, and because she needed to hear more to be sure of the conclusion building in her mind. To Arnold, she simply said, "Well, Arnold, I can't really give you an answer to your feelings. You have to come up with those on your own. All I can do is help you reach them."

She looked down at her notes. "Tell me something, Arnold. You mentioned that Helga has picked on you for a long time. How long exactly has this been going on?"

"Pretty much as far back as I can remember," Arnold said, looking up at a crack in the ceiling. He seemed to be thinking about something for a moment and continued. "Ever since I first met her in preschool . . ."

Chapter Five

Arnold's mind flashed back to that fateful day six years before . . .

He was three years old, sitting in the passenger seat of his Grandpa's Packard on his way to the first day of preschool. It was raining, so Arnold had on his yellow raincoat and rubber boots, his umbrella lay next to him in the seat.

He was really nervous. What if the other kids didn't like him? What if he couldn't make any friends?

His Grandpa Phil noticed the worried look on his face as Arnold looked out the window at the rain.

"Don't you worry about it, shortman, you'll love preschool." Phil said to him, smiling. "You'll get to meet a lot of new kids your own age."

"But, what if they don't like me, Grandpa?" Three-year-old Arnold asked nervously. "What if I don't make any friends?"

"Oh sure you will, Arnold," Phil said, trying to reassure his young grandson. "I remember my first day of school. I was nervous too, but I did make some good friends. Heck, I even meet my best friend, Jimmy Kofka on the first day. So who knows, maybe you'll meet your best friend there and others who'll be your friends for life."

Arnold looked over at his Grandpa curiously, "Whatever happened to your friend, Grandpa?"

Phil looked like he was thinking for a second, then frowned slightly. "You know, I'm really not sure. I haven't spoken to that old fossil in years."

Arnold sighed to himself, his grandpa seemed to mean well sometimes.

The Packard pulled up next to the preschool building. It was pouring rain. His grandpa got out and opened the door for him. "See ya later, shortman. Have fun today." Arnold climbed out into the rain. He was really nervous then.

Suddenly, he saw something pink out of the corner of his eye caught his attention.

He turned and noticed a small girl his own age, blonde with pigtails and a large pink ribbon in her hair walking toward the building. It was her pink bow that he first noticed about her. It matched the pink and white outfit she wore. She had no coat on and was all wet and muddy from the rain. Her face was down and she looked like she was lost in thought.

Another thing that caught Arnold's attention was that the girl looked really sad.

Arnold didn't like seeing anyone so sad. So he walked over to her and opened his umbrella over her head. Despite the fact she was already wet, he hoped it would cheer her up.

The girl stopped walking abruptly and looked up at him, surprise and confusion were set in her large blue eyes.

"Hi," Arnold said, hoping to make friends. Then he added, smiling, "Nice bow."

"Huh?" The girl asked. She looked as if she'd never heard a complement before in her life.

Arnold walked with her to the doorway under his umbrella. "I like your bow, because its pink like your pants." He told her, smiling.

When they made it to the doorway, where it was dry, Arnold closed his umbrella and went into the hall to remove his wet coat and boots. He turned and noticed that the girl with the pretty pink bow was still standing outside, smiling at him through the glass door. He wasn't old enough yet to read facial expressions better, but he was glad she was smiling now.

Arnold went over to the door and opened it for her. "You coming in?"

The girl didn't speak, just blinked, nodded and walked in.

'Maybe she's shy?' Arnold thought to himself. He put out his hand to the drenched child.

"I'm Arnold," he said to her, smiling. "What's your name?"

She looked down at his hand as if it were some strange-looking object she'd never seen before and then slowly took it.

"H-Helga," she stuttered, softly. Then she added, smiling a little, "Helga G. Pataki."

"Pleased to meet you, Helga." He said meaning it sincerely. He then turned to hang up his rubbers and find his new preschool teacher. He neither saw Helga look down at her hand, nor heard the soft, affectionate sigh that escaped her lips . . .

Later that day, Arnold felt a whole lot better. He'd just made lots of new friends in his preschool class, including one really nice kid with really tall, dark hair named Gerald. They'd even invented a special friendship handshake. Now he sat at the table with Gerald as the class was enjoying snack time where they received graham crackers, with juice, or their choice of chocolate, or white milk.

Arnold looked up at the next table and saw Helga, the little girl from earlier that morning, sitting alone near the edge of the table. He smiled, seeing that she seemed a lot happier than she did that morning.

He was thinking about the fact that she was sitting alone and wondering if she'd also met some new friends, when he saw a larger kid take her plate with her graham crackers on it and quickly devour them, laughing at her as he did so. He could see that Helga looked as if she were ready to cry.

Arnold looked down at his own plate, then he stood up, picked it up and took it over to her. He could see the tears starting to fall down her pale cheeks as he walked up to her. Then Helga turned and looked over at him with those large, blue eyes, which were now teary and slightly red. She was staring up at him, with a look of utter confusion, wondering why he stood there. He held out the plate with the crackers on them.

"Want mine?" He asked her simply, smiling.

Helga didn't speak, but just nodded and took the plate, surprised that anyone would think enough of her to be so kind.

Arnold walked back over to Gerald, but not before he turned and waved bye to Helga, smiling as he saw her begin to smile again, her face turning really nice and pleasant. Somehow, just seeing her smile made him feel warm inside. He didn't really know why, it just did.

He sat down next to Gerald who looked at him, surprised. "Why did you do that, man?"

Arnold just shrugged, "I just don't like to see anyone so sad. I was the right thing to do, Gerald."

He looked down a moment, thinking that it wasn't really the whole truth. Helga was the first kid he'd met and he really wanted to be her friend. He could see how alone she was and wanted her to know she didn't have to be.

Arnold turned to Gerald, about to ask him if it was okay to ask Helga to sit with them, when he heard laughter coming from the other table.

About a half dozen kids were all laughing at, or pointing at Helga, who just looked at them, stunned. She looked over at Arnold a moment, and he could see the hurt and fear on her face. He was confused and thought to himself, 'Why were they laughing at her? What happened? What did she do wrong?'

Then, to his astonishment, as well as the astonishment of the kids were laughing at her, Helga turned on the big kid who'd stolen her snacks and shoved him hard out of his chair and onto his back. She stood over him, an angry scowl on her once pleasant face and shouted, "Quit laughing, geek-bait, or you'll have to answer to 'Old Betsy' and . . . and 'The Five Avengers'!"

"O-old who and the five what!" The big kid said, now not looking nearly as intimidating as he had before.

Helga answered by holding out her fists. "My fists, stupid! That's their names!"

The big dullard didn't seem to get it. "W-wait, wait . . . your fists have names! Ahhh, you're confusing me!" He grabbed both sides of his head, as if his brain were going to explode.

Then she actually stomped on his large stomach and stormed over to the center of the room, plowing through some blocks a small Japanese girl was playing with. "I'm the boss around here, got it!" Helga scowled, looking at them as if daring them to argue the point.

The other kids just nodded, too surprised to argue . . . and too afraid of the girl to even try.

Arnold was still in a state of shock at what had just happened. Helga, the nice, shy little girl from earlier was suddenly replaced with this mean, angry, scowling bully. He went over to her. "Helga?"

She turned and saw Arnold suddenly saw the nice Helga from earlier looking at him surprised. "Arnold!" Then she looked at the kids, all of whom were watching this little conversation, still surprised, now even more so by this bold little short kid who went up to her. Noticing them looking at her, Helga quickly shook her head. Now, Helga the bully was scowling down at him angrily. "What do YOU want?"

"Helga, what happened? What is it? What's wrong with you?" Arnold reached out and put a comforting hand on her upper arm.

She looked down at it a split second, blinked, then pulled her arm out of Arnold's grasp. "Hey! Who said you could touch me, weirdo!"

Arnold couldn't believe what he'd heard. He tried to talk to her, to understand. He couldn't believe that this bully was really her. He wanted to understand what was wrong, wanted to be her friend . . .

But then she said something that would change all that.

"Just what's your deal anyway you . . ." she seemed to be looking for just the right insult, "you football-head!"

Arnold looked at her, blinking, too stunned by the remark to speak.

The large kid from before now started laughing at him. "Football-head! Ah-ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!" Now all the other kids, except for Gerald, began laughing too.

Arnold felt really bad being laughed at like that, but when he turned back to look at Helga, he saw something that truly hurt deep down. She was smiling at him, but not in the warm, caring way a friend does. It was a cold smile, like when you enjoyed being mean. She'd seen how much her words had hurt him, and she was actually smiling about it!

All of a sudden, an alien emotion shot through Arnold . . . anger. What had he been thinking! She wasn't nice at all. She was a mean bully! She liked making fun of people and calling them names! He turned and walked away from her, angry, and hurt. Gerald followed after him a moment later.

Because he'd turned away, Arnold never saw the look on Helga's face then. Never saw the regret, or the sorrow she felt at treating him so badly. Nor did he hear, over the laughter of the preschoolers, her soft voice whisper, "I'm sorry, Arnold."

Arnold's flashback ended.

Chapter Six

Dr. Bliss took another sip of her hot tea as she looked at Arnold, who just stared at the ceiling, his eyes going moist from the painful memory.

She couldn't help but feel very sympathetic about what Arnold had been subjected to. Even though she'd only started getting to know Arnold today, Dr. Bliss could see what a caring, sensitive boy he was. She could see how much Helga's petty tortures and insulting tongue-lashings could affect him like that.

At the same time, she thought about Helga, who'd never had much in the way of support or attention from her family, few close friends to speak of, and who spent her whole life bottling up, or hiding her real feelings from the world. Dr. Bliss knew that Helga was just afraid that deep down, she really was a very caring, sensitive person, probably not so different from Arnold. In many ways, she wished she could tell Arnold all that, explain Helga's anxieties to him, let him know why she loved him . . .

But she knew she couldn't. Even if she could break her professional oath, it was Helga's place to explain all that to him. All Dr. Bliss could do is help Arnold figure out his own mixed feelings.

Arnold spoke again, his voice raised slightly with anxiety. "All my life, all she's ever done to me is yell at me, calls me names, pick on me, and pretty much torture me whenever she has any free time . . . and then, then she tells me she . . . she loves me? After allthat!"

Dr. Bliss stood, walked over to the couch and sat down, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder.

"Arnold, calm down," she said gently to him. "I know all of this is confusing and you have every right to be angry. Nobody should have to go through what you've had to."

Arnold sat up next to Dr. Bliss and sighed deeply, taking a calming breath.

Dr. Bliss thought for a moment, then asked Arnold a very serious question. "Arnold, has Helga ever physically harmed you in any way?"

He thought for a moment, then said, "She's shoved me a few times, but that's all."

"Has she ever punched you?"

Arnold seemed to think back really hard, then his face changed slightly. "No . . . I mean, well, she's certainly threatened to do it a number of times, and she has elbowed me sometimes, but I can't remember her ever hitting me before."

Dr. Bliss smiled. She didn't think that had been the case.

"There's more to it than that, Dr. Bliss," he said to her, looking down at his shoes.

"What is it, Arnold?" Dr. Bliss asked, curious again.

Arnold stood up and walked over to the window again. The light outside appeared to have changed a bit since he first entered the office.

"It's just that . . . well, even though Helga's done some very mean things over the years, deep down, even though I've been upset, or angry . . . mostly just really annoyed, I could never just totally ignore her either. I don't know why, but somehow, she always just seems to confuse me."

Dr. Bliss thought about that a moment, then said, "Well, it sounds like you still have some unresolved issues concerning Helga."

"I guess," Arnold said, sounding really drained. That was why he was here in the first place, because Helga just plain confused him.

"You mentioned earlier that even though Helga does these mean things to you, that somehow you could never stay mad at her for very long." Dr. Bliss said, looking back at her notes.

"Yeah, and that's what confuses me more," Arnold explained. "I mean, sure she can be really annoying, even really mean sometimes, but other times . . . she can change and be pretty okay, even nice."

Dr. Bliss smiled. "Really? Tell me about some of those times." 'This could be very interesting,' she thought to herself.

Chapter Seven

Arnold sat down on the window seat. He seemed to be thinking over some things for a moment, then he began. "One time, I lost my hat and Helga found it," he said simply.

"Really?" Dr. Bliss asked.

Arnold nodded, removing the small blue cap from his oblong head and looked at it.

"You see, I've had this hat ever since I could remember. My parents gave it to me when I was really little . . ." His voice trailed off. Dr. Bliss looked up at him. "You see, it's one of the only real memories of my parents that I have." Arnold sighed and looked away sadly.

Dr. Bliss thought that Arnold may have another unresolved issue, but decided against bringing it up. One problem at a time. "Go on, Arnold."

"Well, my parents have been missing since I was about two years old, and my hat is the only thing I remember them ever giving to me. It's sort of been with me all this time, like it's a part of me. When I lost it, I felt sort of like I'd lost a part of myself."

Then he looked up at Dr. Bliss, a strange look on his face, like he was studying her reaction to that last statement, and asked tentatively, "Does that make sense to you, Dr. Bliss, or do you think that sounds weird to think that way?"

Dr. Bliss smiled, trying not to laugh this time, knowing that Arnold wouldn't take it the right way. She shook her head. "Not at all, Arnold. In fact, when I was a little girl, I used to have a stuffed doll named Lori, which I carried with me everywhere I went. Lori was like my own personal security blanket. One time I lost her and I was upset. I felt as if I'd lost my best friend, because I'd had her since I was a baby, like your hat. But I found her later the same day and I kept carrying her till I was ten. She stayed in my room all through my teen years, and you know what, Arnold, I still have her at home on one of my shelves."

Dr. Bliss found that telling her young patients about her own past helped make them feel more comfortable. It sort of helped her out too, sometimes.

"Really?" Arnold asked, amazed.

She nodded, smiling cheerfully at him. "What you told me made perfect sense to me, Arnold."

Arnold smiled, feeling better again, then continued with his story. "Well, when I lost my hat, I was so upset, I wouldn't even come out of my room . . . not even for free ice cream."

Dr. Bliss chuckled slightly at that. For a kid, that was bad.

"Gerald managed to get me to come out and helped me to feel a little bit better, even though I still missed my hat. Anyway, I bumped into Helga at the bus stop . . . literally. I turned the corner and walked right into her." Arnold smiled a moment. "She had my hat with her. I was so happy that I actually hugged her . . . um, for a really long time. I couldn't help myself. I was just so happy."

"How did Helga respond to you when you hugged her?" Dr. Bliss asked with a small smile, she had a feeling what the answer would be.

"She let me hug her for a moment, then she pushed me away and said: 'Take your stupid hat and get outta here!' " Arnold answered, smiling slightly at the memory.

Dr. Bliss nodded as she made another note on her clipboard. That sounded like something Helga would say to cover up her real feelings. That hug was probably a dream come true for her, the psychologist thought, smiling to herself.

"What else has Helga ever done for you," Dr. Bliss asked.

Arnold thought again, dangling his legs from the window seat. "Well, one time, I remember she managed to talk her Dad into giving the class money to create a float for the Annual Founder's Day Parade. The float was my design and it was really neat, but the school couldn't afford it. So Helga asked her Dad to sponsor our float in the parade and he agreed. When she told me, I was so surprised that she would go through so much trouble. She really amazed me. I was so thrilled that I . . ." He paused.

Dr. Bliss looked up from her clipboard again as she heard him pause. "You . . .?"

". . . I hugged her again," Arnold answered quietly, a small amount of surprise in his voice. "I kind of forgot about that."

Dr. Bliss smiled, covering her mouth with the clipboard to keep Arnold from noticing her amused smile when he looked up at her.

Chapter Eight

Dr. Bliss made an observation, "It's really interesting, that you would show that kind of affection, even when you're surprised, to someone who treated you so badly all those other times."

"Yeah," Arnold said, looking at the far wall, finding one of Dr. Bliss's Edward Hopper pictures very interesting. "I'm still not really sure why though."

Dr. Bliss was surprised thinking that the answer to that would be somewhat obvious to Arnold at this point. She continued with the session. "Were there any other occasions in which you hugged Helga for any reason?"

Arnold thought back to an incident that occurred only a couple of months ago. "Well, I did hug her once after I had a nightmare."

"Really?" Dr. Bliss asked, smiling, actually quite curious to hear this story. "Tell me about it, Arnold."

"It's . . . kind of a long story. It's about my cousin Arnie and another girl I know named Lila. You see, my cousin Arnie lives out in the country. He's kind of . . . well, eccentric. I was supposed to visit him one day, so I decided to go tell all my friends and classmates that I was going. I went to Gerald Field . . . um, you know, the vacant lot down on Vine Street . . ."

Dr. Bliss kept notes on Arnold's story. He was well into talking about this vivid dream about visiting his cousin, and meeting several groups of dopplegangers which resembled his friends and classmates, except for some differences, like his cousin's girlfriend "Lulu" who was the mirror image of his friend Lila.

Dr. Bliss noted that Arnold seemed to have a crush on this girl Lila and made a note on her clipboard to discuss it later on.

Arnold continued discussing his dream, told of how "Lulu" kept showing him affection, in a very forward manner that many nine-year-old boys would be uncomfortable with. He was now at the point in his dream where "Lulu" tried to kiss him in a movie theater.

". . . So I went outside to get away from Lulu, and then . . ." Arnold stopped again.

Dr. Bliss was curious at the look that appeared on Arnold's face. It was the second time he'd paused in his explanations, with a look on his face like he just encountered something that seemed to confuse him. He seemed deep in thought.

Finally, he continued, awkwardly. "It was Helga . . . well, not Helga, but a different Helga, a nice one. I mean, she looked exactly like Helga, I mean . . . except for that smile . . ." his voice trailed off, a goofy-looking smile appeared on Arnold's face. "When I saw her, I couldn't help but feel . . ." he trailed off again, he shook his football-shaped head, as if trying to clear it and get serious again. ". . . feel weird."

Dr. Bliss noted this new behavior with a wide smile and thought to herself, 'Ah, now we're getting somewhere!' "What was she like in your dream, Arnold?" She asked, still smiling, waiting to see what Arnold would say, and how he would say it. Dr. Bliss had a suspicion.

"She was sitting on the sidewalk, just looking at the moon and reciting some poetry, like she was such a dreamer, or something. It was very deep stuff. She was so . . ." Arnold trailed off yet again, not finishing the explanation. That same small, goofy-looking smile appeared on his face for the second time.

Dr. Bliss could tell that there was more he wasn't saying, and she couldn't help being slightly surprised herself by what he had said to her, because she knew about that other side of Helga that everyone else didn't see. Somehow, Arnold could see that side of Helga, the part of her with so much imagination and feeling, on a subconscious level, in his own dreams.

As for what Arnold thought about that side of her, well, if the grin on his face then was any indication . . .

Arnold continued again with the story. "She joined up with me, Arnie and Lulu. We watched a movie and then went on a hay ride in the country. We actually had fun, until . . ." He trailed off again, only now Arnold had a disappointed look on his face. "In the dream, she told me she'd never had more fun with a guy before. I thought she meant me, but instead, she meant my cousin Arnie. I was surprised . . . and disappointed . . . then the dream got really weird at the end and I woke up. The first thing I did was find my friends . . ." He paused and added, blushing slightly, "I sort of forgot to change out of my pajamas first."

Dr. Bliss tried not to chuckle at that.

Arnold went on, "I went right over to Gerald Field and found them all there. I was still kind of wondering if I was still dreaming. I talked to Helga first. I realized I was really awake when she acted like herself . . . well, like she usually acted . . . and I was so happy that . . . well, you know."

"You hugged her for a really long time," Dr. Bliss offered, smiling at him.

Arnold nodded, smiling, with a bit of a blush on his cheeks.

"I see," Dr. Bliss said nodding, writing it down with her other notes. "Have you ever had any other dreams about Helga, Arnold?"

Arnold looked sort of uncomfortable with that question, looking back down at the floor, finding the office carpet very interesting. Dr. Bliss took that as a yes. Arnold sighed, "Well, I did have one other dream about her . . ." he seemed reluctant to say the rest, but said it after a moment, "and in it, we were married."

Dr. Bliss raised an eyebrow, a slightly bemused look appeared on her face. "Really? What brought that on, Arnold?"

"It all started with Rhonda, another girl in my class, who made one of those origami marriage predictors."

"Ah yes, a 'cootie catcher'," Dr. Bliss said, smiling a little thoughtfully.

Arnold looked up at her, his right eyebrow raised. "Cootie catcher?"

Dr. Bliss giggled slightly, "Oh, that's just what some kids used to call those things." Arnold smiled slightly. "Go on, Arnold. What happened next?"

"Well, Rhonda asked me if I wanted to take the test. At first I didn't want to, but then she said that I might end up picking Lila . . ."

Lila again, thought Dr. Bliss, making a mental observation, then jotting it down on her clipboard.

Arnold continued with his story. "Anyhow, Gerald helped Rhonda talk me into it, and she asked me some questions and checked the results. I ended up with Helga."

Dr. Bliss looked at him, "I'll bet that shocked you." She could just imagine the look on his face, hearing that he would end up marrying a bully who picked on him and called him names.

Arnold nodded, "It sure did. Gerald thought it was funny. I asked Rhonda if I could take the test again. She agreed, but I kept ending up with Helga, again and again."

Dr. Bliss held up a hand to stop Arnold. Then she asked, "How many times did you do the test over exactly?"

Arnold looked uncomfortable, avoiding eye contact. "Well, um . . . a hundred and ten times."

Dr. Bliss blinked and asked, trying her best to keep the amusement out of her voice, "And you ended up with her every time?" 'Boy,' she thought to herself, 'The gods or irony must have had a field day with that one.' Arnold nodded, smiling very weakly. He looked exactly like Helga had when Dr. Bliss asked if her shrine had really been made out of used gum. The resemblance there was so uncanny that Dr. Bliss almost lost her composure. Arnold wasn't looking at her at the moment, so she managed to make her face calm again.

Arnold stood up next to the window, and continued talking about his other Helga dream.

"I went home, very weirded out by the whole thing. It was in my head all evening and I fell asleep and had the dream . . ."

He went on telling her about how Helga tricked him into marrying her, and how they had to live at Helga's house with her parents, and had to work while she did nothing but eat junk food and laze around the house. Then he told about how "the stork" brought some babies and he had to take care of them.

"Wow, Arnold, that sounds like it was a real nightmare," Dr. Bliss stated, looking at the notes she made, the story still in her mind.

Arnold nodded, "Yeah, it was horrible . . . that was, until near the end of the dream, then it sort-of turned out to be okay."

Dr. Bliss looked up from her notes, again slightly surprised. "Really?"

Arnold nodded, "That's the weird part. At the end of the dream, Helga and I got into an argument and I told her that I didn't really believe that she was as bad as she acted. I don't remember why, but I told her that deep down, she was smart and had feelings, and I wanted her to admit that she wasn't really so mean."

Dr. Bliss blinked upon hearing that, then smiled slightly to herself.

Arnold went on, "Then, Helga turned really nice and admitted that she didn't hate me, and that she sort-of liked me."

"Then what happened," Dr. Bliss asked curiously, eager to hear.

"My alarm woke me up," Arnold said.

"Oh," Dr. Bliss said, disappointed. Then she looked down at her notes and smiled again. "Hum, interesting," she said, making an observation.

Arnold looked at her. "Huh? What's interesting, Dr. Bliss?"

"Well, I would like to hear more first before I can say, but I think I know what the problem is, Arnold." The psychologist said, taking another sip of her tea.

Dr. Bliss looked back over her notes. "Now, tell me about this other girl, Lila."

Chapter Nine

"Well, Lila is this other girl from Mr. Simmons class. She moved here a while back from the country and at first, none of the other girls liked her very much. They even pulled a very nasty prank on her . . . I think Helga might have been the one to think it up, or maybe Rhonda . . . but eventually, they made it up to her and accepted her."

"All the boys in the fourth grade like her; she's sophisticated and kind, very intuitive, pretty, popular . . ." Arnold realized he was going on. ". . . um, you know what I mean don't you, Dr. Bliss?"

Dr. Bliss nodded. She remembered seeing Lila in Mr. Simmons classroom and the hallways on her usual Tuesday and Thursday visits to the school. She could see why all the fourth grade boys, even at such an insecure age, would like her outgoing sweetness and seemingly good-natured attitude. More important, Dr. Bliss could see why Arnold would have a slight crush on her.

Arnold continued, "At first, I just liked her, but I didn't . . . you know, like-her, like-her. But one day, someone wrote 'Arnold Loves Lila' in chalk on a wall, and everyone thought I wrote it, including Lila. She wanted to spend more time with me, get to know me better. I tried to tell her at the time that I didn't like-her, like her, but I didn't want to hurt her feelings, so I went along with it."

"Later on, I couldn't keep quiet. I told her the truth. She was hurt by it, and I felt really bad about hurting her feelings like that. Then later on, I remembered all the stuff me and Lila did together as a couple and I realized then that I did like-her like-her. So I told her to meet me at the park to tell her . . . but instead, she told me that she thought about it and said that she didn't really like-me, like-me, just liked me. She agreed to be just good friends."

'Ouch!' thought Dr. Bliss to herself, 'Dumped at age nine.'

"I'll bet that hurt you a lot, didn't it Arnold?" Dr. Bliss asked sympathetically.

Arnold sighed heavily, the pain of that moment still a sore spot in his memory. "Yeah, it did. After Lila left, I felt very bad, then Helga . . ." He stopped, his eyes widening, as if he'd just remembered something he'd totally forgotten about.

"What about Helga?" Dr. Bliss asked, noticing his reaction.

"She talked to me," he said, surprised by the words that came out of his mouth. Then Arnold explained, "She fell out of a tree nearby, said she was exercising, and told me she overheard. We talked about it and Helga actually listened to me and helped me to feel better. I even walked home with her afterwards." Then Arnold smiled, then laughed slightly for a moment to himself, the first time he'd done so since he came into Dr. Bliss's office. "I can't believe I almost forgot about that."

Looking at the smile on Arnold's face and hearing what he just said, Dr. Bliss thought happily, 'at last more progress!' "So, whatever happened with you and Lila?" Dr. Bliss asked. "Are you two still friends?"

Arnold nodded slowly, sighing as he did so. "We stayed really good friends, but still, I wanted her to start to like-me, like-me. I'd hoped somehow that she might change her mind again and start to like-me, like-me like she did before."

He turned to look out again at the city scape, which was now beginning to turn to shadows on an orange background made by the slowly setting sun.

"I remember one time when my cousin Arnie came to visit me. Everything turned into a disaster. Arnie met Lila . . . and for some strange reason, Lila ended up falling for him instead of me."

Dr. Bliss observed from the vantage point of her chair that this particular memory wasn't one of Arnold's favorites.

"I'll bet that made you feel really jealous, didn't it?" she asked thoughtfully.

Arnold nodded, "Yeah, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me at the time. Lila told me that she felt Arnie was that 'oh-so-special' someone she was looking for . . . but Arnie looks almost exactly like me, only . . . well . . ." Arnold groped for the right word, but failing to find it, simply said ". . . strange. Yet she still fell for him and not me?" His voice held a great deal of sorrow, and confusion.

"What happened with Lila and Arnie?" Dr. Bliss asked, taking more notes.

"Well, I was on the bus thinking about the whole thing and Helga . . ." again Arnold stopped and once again, confusion appeared on his oblong face.

"What did Helga do this time, Arnold?"

Arnold turned and faced her. He seemed to be going over the memory in his mind, as if studying something weird and unexpected. Then he answered quietly, his voice full of wonder. "She . . . she talked to me again. Like we were close friends." He blinked, like he couldn't believe he'd actually uttered those words out loud.

Dr. Bliss smiled again and asked, "What did she say to you?"

"Well, she told me about how girls will sometimes like guys who seem to ignore them. Then she suggested that if I pretended to really like someone else, then maybe Lila would get jealous herself and dump Arnie. So I pretended to really like Helga."

Dr. Bliss tried not to laugh at where she knew this was going. "What did you two do to try and make Lila jealous?"

Arnold thought about it a moment, then a small amused smile appeared on his face. Dr. Bliss looked at the football-headed little boy curiously. Arnold answered, "Well, we did all sorts of couple stuff whenever Arnie and Lila came by. On the school steps, Helga had me brush her hair. On the bus, she had me massage her foot, and once in the library, she had me share the same piece of gum with her."

Those images filled Dr. Bliss's mind and made her chuckle slightly, but Arnold didn't hear her. Instead, he began to snicker himself, then he burst out laughing.

"What's so funny, Arnold?" Dr. Bliss asked, a bit of amusement in her own voice.

Arnold walked over to the couch all smiles and sat down. "Now that I know she . . . loves me . . . I guess she did that not really to get Arnie jealous, but . . . but to just be near me for a while." Arnold blushed a bit, like he had when he discussed the Helga from his dreams.

Dr. Bliss smiled, happy to see that reaction from him, but somewhat curious about it. "But I still don't see why that's so funny?"

Arnold began to snicker again, and answered, "B-because in the end, Arnie and Lila were watching us, and Arnie dumped Lila . . ." he looked as if he were fighting hard not to just break down into giggle fits and heaved out ". . . and fell (snicker) in love (a snort and chuckle) with Helga!" Well, that had finally done it for Arnold. He began to laugh, falling backwards on the couch and holding his heaving stomach.

"I see," Dr. Bliss said, in her normally professional manner. "Arnold, would you please excuse me a moment?" She stood and placed her clipboard down on the desk a moment. She left her office, hearing Arnold's laughter through the door for a few moments till she was out of earshot. She managed to make it to the ladies room before she, too, was overcome with a fit of laughter. It felt so good to finally laugh. She laughed till tears rolled down her cheeks.

As she washed her face to make sure the fact she'd been laughing wouldn't show, Dr. Bliss went over in her mind everything she'd seen in Arnold's behavior as he told of his dealings with Helga.

Arnold and Helga sure seemed to have a lot of misadventures together for two kids who seemed to be arch rivals. It seemed to her as if Arnold, now that he knew Helga loved him, could begin to see the truth of it in her past behavior toward him, like having the final piece of a puzzle that hadn't been complete before. Talking about them finally seemed to be doing Arnold a lot of good.

She remembered the story about his "cousin dream" where Helga had been a double that was more like her true self. She recalled the way Arnold kept pausing and the look on his face. Briefly she wondered, 'Could Arnold actually see the other side of her? The side of her that wasn't a bully, more clearly now than he had before? I wonder what else he's discovering if he has?'

Chapter Ten

Checking to make sure her face wasn't red from her laughter, she went back to her office and opened the door slowly. Arnold was lying back on the couch, looking up at the ceiling, with a very thoughtful smile on his face, a dreamy look in his eyes, like he was focused on something important.

He began to talk before Dr. Bliss could ask what he was thinking about.

"The more I think about it, there have been a number of times Helga's been there for me when I was at one of my low points, trying to be my friend. I guess sometimes, I forget about them, especially when she acts really mean and scowls all the time. I see that side of her every day. I have since I met her . . . but still, I always knew that there was more to her than just that."

Dr. Bliss's eyes widened at that, but Arnold wasn't looking at her then. Instead, his mind went back a long time.

Back to that first fateful day of preschool . . .

Arnold, three years old, was not having a very good first day of preschool anymore.

Sure he'd managed to make one good friend in Gerald, but he couldn't stop thinking about Helga, the first girl he'd ever met. The first kid he'd really wanted to be friends with for some reason.

'What happened to her?' Arnold thought to himself, very much confused. She'd seemed so nice before, shy, even a little bit afraid of everyone, but nice and normal none-the-less. Then all of a sudden, it was like she became someone else. A whole different person. A bully.

All day long, he'd watched as Helga pushed around all of the other kids, yelling and scowling at them, threatening to beat them up if they bugged her, or didn't do as she said.

She was the worst to him, and that got to Arnold the most. She picked on him, made fun of his nose, his ears, his hair . . . and she kept calling him "football-head."

It made Arnold angry. All he tried to do was be nice to her, to be her friend. He'd honestly liked her since he first saw her in the rain, her cute pink bow and those large, blue eyes. He tried to focus on that, but all he could think about now was how angry she made him, and how hurt he felt when she called him names and picked on him.

Suddenly, Arnold heard laughter coming from the other side of the preschool room. He looked over and saw Harold, the same large kid from earlier, along with two other kids, a tall one with a large nose named Stinky and a short, greasy-looking one named Sid, all gathered around the small Oriental girl with the blocks. The blocks were now scattered everywhere and the girl was crying softly as the three boys stood over her laughing.

Arnold was mad again. He'd had enough of bullies for one day. He was about to go over and stop them, even though he was a lot shorter than Harold and Stinky and had absolutely no idea what he would do, when someone beat him to the punch. Literally!

Helga stomped over to the three boys and, using a cardboard checkerboard, hit Harold, the largest of the three, in the nose with it hard enough to knock him off of his feet. Arnold cringed at the sound the board hitting the bigger kid's nose made.

Helga stood over Harold, her shadow eclipsing him, scowled and raised 'Ole Betsy' and 'The Five Avengers' into fighting position. "Hey! Why don't you three losers pick on someone your own size!" she shouted, bravely facing the three boys. Even though they were bigger than her, if those odds intimidated Helga in any way, she didn't show it outwardly.

Harold began to cry loudly, holding his now swollen red nose and shouting, "Aaahhh! Mommy!" He ran off. Stinky and Sid took off after him, looking over their shoulders to make sure Helga wouldn't chase them down and do who knows what to them. Helga smirked wickedly in triumph.

The small Oriental girl stood up and hugged Helga tightly around the middle. "Oh, thank you! Thank you!"

Helga shoved her back and brushed herself off, "Yeah, yeah. Stop sucking up, ya baby!" Then she looked down at the smaller kid and smiled, "Don't worry, those goons won't bother you again. Not while I'm around!" She held up 'Ole Betsy' and smiled at it.

"What's your name, kid?" Helga asked, with surprising compassion in her voice.

The Japanese girl blinked, then answered meekly. "Phoebe."

Helga put an arm around her. "Well, Feebs, you stick with me and I won't let anyone mess with you again." Phoebe looked up at Helga and smiled widely, a strong bond of friendship already forming.

Arnold watched the whole thing with a look of wonder on his face. He blinked over and over again. Then a thought occurred to him. 'Maybe I was right about her the first time? Maybe Helga isn't really as badas she seems?Maybe, just maybe, that nice, shy girl I saw before is still in there somewhere, under that scowl?' As he wondered those things and watched Helga and her new best friend talking together on the other side of the room, Arnold smiled and made a silent vow to himself. He would try to be nice to her, to be her friend. He would be there for her when she was low, even if she doesn't seem to appreciate it.

Even though he didn't know it then, Arnold felt a really strong connection to Helga. Anyone who would stand up for someone else weaker like that just had to be good deep down inside. Helga deserved a chance to prove that, and he would always look for it.

'Maybe one day, I'll see that nice, shy, normal girl I really liked before?' Arnold thought. Then he smiled to himself as one more thought came to mind, 'She had been kind of cute.'

Arnold's second flashback ended.

Chapter Eleven

Arnold blinked at the memory he'd forgotten about a long time ago, which picked now, of all times, to resurface from the depths of his mind. Then, he thought about the other memories that he'd discussed with Dr. Bliss.

"Wow, I guess . . . I guess I've forgotten about a lot of the nice things Helga's done." Arnold said finally, looking over at Dr. Bliss, who was sitting in her chair holding her tea cup, a strange smile on her pleasant face.

Dr. Bliss looked at Arnold and said, "Well Arnold, there's a saying: 'When you do good, nobody remembers, but when you do bad, nobody forgets'."

Arnold seemed to think about that a moment, then slowly nodded, understanding dawning on his oblong face. "You know Dr. Bliss, I think you're right." He sat up on the couch and faced her. "Helga's done a lot of really mean and selfish things, and sometimes I only see that side of her, so I forget that she's done some really nice things too. I probably wouldn't forget, if she would just act nice and normal like I know she can be, but she keeps acting angry and sarcastic all the time." He sighed deeply.

Dr. Bliss studied Arnold carefully before she asked her next question. "Why do you think she acts like that, Arnold?"

Arnold looked over at her and said, "Well, sometimes I get so mad at her that I really don't think about that. But then other times, when I have time to really think about it, I think she just does these things sometimes to cover up her own anxieties and insecurities."

Dr. Bliss stood up to go get more hot tea from the pot on the nearby table. As she turned away, she smiled at his answer. When she turned to face him again, she was all business. "Really? What sort of insecurities do you think she has?"

Arnold looked down and seemed to think about that question for a moment, "Well, sometimes I give her advice when she looks really down in the dumps. I'm not really so close to Helga that I truly understand, but sometimes, I don't think that her family really appreciates her like they should . . ."

Crash!

This time Arnold wasn't cut off in his explanation by his own train of thought, but the sound of Dr. Bliss dropping her cup and saucer, spilling hot tea on the table, luckily not on herself. Her cup survived the fall, but the saucer broke into several pieces upon impact with the floor.

"Dr. Bliss, are you okay!" Arnold asked, quickly standing up.

Dr. Bliss looked at Arnold, nodded and said quickly, "I just got a little clumsy there for a second. Sometimes I guess I make this tea a bit too hot." She faked a smile of bemusement. The truth was that Arnold's guess hit so close to the mark that it honestly caught Dr. Bliss off guard. She couldn't believe it. Again she found herself surprised by this kind little boy with the football-shaped head. She composed herself and told him to go on with his explanation.

Arnold did so while he helped her pick up the saucer pieces and put them in the garbage. "Well, her dad, Big Bob Pataki isn't a very nice guy at times. Sometimes I hear him mistake her for her older sister Olga, or just ignore her completely . . . one time my grandpa accidentally backed into Big Bob in a parking lot and to settle who would pay for the damages, he challenged Grandpa to a game of golf. I caddied for my grandpa, and Helga for her dad." Arnold paused, placing the broken saucer pieces in the can.

"Thank you, Arnold." Dr. Bliss said kindly, giving him a warm smile that made Arnold smile back.

He went back to the couch and sat down. Dr. Bliss resumed her seat as well. "Go on, Arnold, what happened next?"

Arnold continued, "I remember that Big Bob accidentally hit Helga with his golf ball. She was stunned . . ." he paused again briefly, blinking, ". . . she was in a daze and said something about my eyes, then she snapped back to herself."

"So, you were worried about Helga then?" Dr. Bliss asked, smiling at them strangely.

"Um, well . . . yeah, I was," he said, feeling his cheeks redden a bit. "I wanted to make sure she wasn't hurt . . ." then his face became very unhappy, even a bit angry. ". . . but her dad wasn't concerned about her at all. I remember he was more concerned with the fact that she'd messed up his shot by being in the way."

Dr. Bliss nodded sadly. That sounded exactly like some of the things Helga had told her before about her father.

Arnold went on, "All he cared about was himself, he doesn't even notice her most of the time. I remember another time, when me and Helga were in a spelling bee. The prize was $500.00 and Big Bob tried to bribe me to throw the contest because he was afraid of losing beepers in a commercial promise he made. He didn't even have enough faith in her to win the spelling bee on her own." Arnold sounded really sad when he said that.

Again, Dr. Bliss couldn't help but be surprised by Arnold's reactions to all these revelations. Briefly she thought about how Helga would have reacted to know he was saying these things about her. She smiled in bemusement. She'd probably dance around the room and give another one of her emotional outbursts about how caring and thoughtful and understanding her football-headed little hero was, and sigh really longingly at the end.

"What about Helga's mom? Doesn't she notice her either" Dr. Bliss asked, knowing full well what the answer to that question was as well.

Arnold shook his head sadly, "Helga's mom is about the same," he said, lying back across the middle of the couch, his legs dangling over the side, looking up at that same place in the ceiling. "I mean, she doesn't yell at Helga, or anything, but sometimes . . . well, she seems really depressed and forgetful." Arnold stopped yet again.

This time when Arnold didn't continue, Dr. Bliss looked up at him and noticed that he had a really sad look on his face. Then he said, "The other day, in the cafeteria at school, Helga sat with Phoebe at their usual table. I saw her look in her lunch and noticed her look really angry and . . . disappointed. Her mom had forgotten to make her lunch again."

Dr. Bliss nodded sadly at that. "Does it happen very often?" She asked, again knowing the answer.

Arnold nodded again slowly. "Sometimes Helga's mom would make a mistake and pack her toilet paper, or a can of motor oil, or something." He seemed to smile about something a moment, confusing Dr. Bliss, until he turned his head to face her and explained, "One time, Helga found a can of shaving cream in her luncheon and she traded it to Harold for a Mr. Fudgie Bar. She told him it was whipped cream." Arnold began to chuckle at that.

The psychologist smiled a bit, knowing that story from her first session with Helga. Also, Dr. Bliss thought it was really good that Arnold could see Helga's sense of humor and be amused as well.

"Her sister Olga is a little different, but not really much better," Arnold said, without being prompted to go on. "She's really gifted, and has hundreds of awards and trophies. She's a legend at PS 118. I don't really think it's her fault that Helga's parents pay her more attention, but I don't know if Olga really seems to notice how much all the attention they give her takes away from Helga, either."

Dr. Bliss studied Arnold with interest. He really did seem to understand some of what Helga had to go through at home.

She offered an observation of her own, "Maybe Helga feels that because her parents don't pay her much attention at home, she simply feels that they don't love her very much." She watched Arnold's reaction to that suggestion.

Arnold looked over at Dr. Bliss and blinked, and his eyes widened as he thought of that.

"I never really thought about it like that before," he said, sitting up again. Then he offered something of his own, thoughtfully, "Maybe Helga acts so tough on the outside, because deep down, she's afraid that people won't notice her, or accept her. Maybe she's . . . " Arnold looked over at the window and said, in a really quiet voice, "Maybe she's just . . . lonely."

Dr. Bliss stood up, fighting down the impulse to walk over, hug Arnold tightly and say, "Way to go, Arnold!" Outwardly, she simply smiled and nodded, pleased at how well he put everything together.

Chapter Twelve

Dr. Bliss walked over to Arnold and put a hand on his shoulder. "Are things starting to make sense to you, Arnold?" she asked him softly.

Arnold then stood up, walked over to the window and looked out at the sun, which had now almost completely set. The street lights and building lights were coming on. He just stood there looking at the slowly fading light a moment. Dr. Bliss could tell he was deep in thought about something, and decided to wait and let him continue. She knew he had a lot to think about.

Arnold was indeed thinking very deeply, about a lot of things between him and Helga. A flood of memories went through his football-shaped head.

He thought of all the times Helga picked on him and called him names; about all the nasty pranks, the petty tortures, all the spit wads. All of the bad things she'd ever done to him.

Yet, somehow, those things didn't seem to bother Arnold anymore.

Now those memories were mixed in with other memories; Helga playing ball with him and the gang at Gerald Field; Helga hanging out with him and the guys as they were teaching Lorenzo how to be a kid; Helga saving him from the flooding greenhouse; saving him from Harold for an instant before he would have pounded him flat; both of them looking for the real meaning of Thanksgiving together, and getting along as they did so . . .

Arnold began to smile to himself as yet more memories, things he'd forgotten about before today, came back to him.

Helga warning him about Summer at the beach, and both of them building a winning sandcastle together; Arnold talking to Big Patty and telling her that Helga wasn't so bad deep down; the two of them taking care of an egg for a weekend; him helping Helga when she had amnesia; the dream version of Helga grown up and the two of them married; Helga and him smiling at each other after they escaped from the flooding greenhouse; both of them sitting together in front of fire with Grandpa, Gerald and Phoebe on a camping trip, roasting marshmallows; both of them dancing together at the April Fools Dance (she could actually tango pretty well, he thought briefly, smiling); Helga dressed in a Lila costume at Rhonda's party, the two of them again getting along well; both of them playing Romeo and Juliet in the school play . . .

Then finally, Helga on top of the F.T.I. Building, wearing her "deep voice" outfit, confessing her love and respect for him, then grabbing him and kissing him for a really long time . . . then later, after saving the neighborhood from the bulldozers, both of them sharing that awkward moment between them, smiling and gesturing nervously, pretending that everything happened in the heat of the moment . . .

Finally, Arnold reached a conclusion, wondering how he could have been so dense not to notice it all along.

He spoke quietly out loud, Dr. Bliss listening with anticipation behind him. "Maybe Helga really does love me. Maybe she just hid her feelings all this time because she was too shy or afraid to tell me . . ."

Behind him, Dr. Bliss smiled widely, thinking to herself, trying to will her thoughts to him, 'Go on Arnold! You can do it!'

". . . Maybe it's just hard for her to trust anyone or show her feelings, because she's seen so little love and attention from her family, so she hides it from everyone . . . from me in particular, because . . ." he blinked back the moisture in his eyes ". . . because maybe she's afraid I might never love her back."

Dr. Bliss looked at him closely. Because he was turned toward the window, she couldn't see his face from where she stood, but the way he sounded when he'd said that . . . She knew what she had to ask next, though she felt reluctant even herself to ask it. There was a knot in her stomach the size of a baseball. 'This must be exactly what Helga feels like around him,' she thought. But she knew the question needed to be asked.

Slowly, in a soft, quiet voice, Dr. Bliss asked Arnold the most important question of all, "Do you love Helga back, Arnold?"

Chapter Thirteen

Arnold blinked, his eyes widening in surprise at the question. 'Do I love Helga back?' he thought to himself. He then realized that it wasn't the question that surprised him. What really surprised Arnold were the feelings that came over him from thinking about the answer.

He turned to look at Dr. Bliss, who was looking at him with a look of mixed anticipation and wonder. She was even somewhat nervous to hear the answer. Now she really understood more and more how Helga felt.

Arnold opened his mouth slowly, "Well, I . . ."

"You . . ." Dr. Bliss prompted softly.

"I . . . I . . . don't know," he said quietly, his mind still full of the thoughts and feelings he'd had over the last two hours. "I'm not really sure if I love Helga, or not. I've been in love before, or rather, I thought I had been . . ." Arnold thought briefly of Ruth McDougall, Lila, Summer, Miss. Felter, the substitute teacher who loved the name Arnold, ". . . and I remember it made me feel really good deep down, kind of goofy even." He smiled slightly thinking about that. "But, when I thought about everything Helga and I have been through together, I feel different somehow."

"How do you feel exactly, Arnold?" Asked a very curious Dr. Bliss.

"I feel all warm and happy inside, goofy too, but also really mixed up and confused . . . but in a good way," he said. Dr. Bliss smiled, feeling very warm inside herself just then.

Then Arnold looked at Dr. Bliss seriously and asked her, "Is that what it feels like to be in love, Dr. Bliss?"

Not it was Dr. Bliss's turn to be taken by surprise by a question, an interesting turnaround. She stuttered with the answer at first, "Well . . . uh Arnold, I can't really tell you that." She walked over to where he stood and put an inviting hand on his shoulder and smiled down at him. "Nobody else can tell you that for sure, Arnold. That's just something you have to figure out for yourself."

Arnold looked down and sighed, but smiled this time as he did so, "Somehow, that's what I thought you'd say, Dr. Bliss. Of course, my Grandpa would have told me about his past and said 'never eat raspberries' and Gerald would just think I was crazy to even consider loving Helga."

Dr. Bliss smiled warmly down at him, "You're far from crazy, Arnold. In fact, you're handling all this very maturely for someone your age."

Arnold smiled at her, then said, "The truth is, I still have to find out if I love Helga, but I do know that I care about her a lot." He thought back to the feelings he'd had in preschool, then added thoughtfully, "I guess I have from the start."

Dr. Bliss looked at him and said, "You know Arnold, I'm not the one you need to tell those things to. You realize that you'll probably never truly know how you feel about Helga till you tell her. I think she deserves to hear all this herself."

Arnold suddenly looked at Dr. Bliss, and a look of worry crossed his face. "I don't think I can tell her that! I mean . . . not now anyway."

"Why not, Arnold?" Dr. Bliss asked, looking at him, puzzled.

"Well, we're both only nine, and I need more time to figure out if I really do love her after all. I care about her, so I need to be sure if I really do feel the same way she does before I tell her." He looked at her, "Do you understand, Dr. Bliss, or does that sound really dumb?"

Dr. Bliss looked at Arnold, very much surprised by such a mature answer from someone so young, and smiled a very pleased smile at the kind little boy.

"No Arnold, that sounds very responsible of you. You don't have to tell her now. You can do so when you're ready." Though, in her mind, the answer was very obvious to her. Arnold loved her, maybe not as much as Helga loved him back, (at least . . . not yet anyway) but it was there none-the-less. She smiled to herself.

Arnold nodded, "But what do I do in the meantime, though? I can't pretend this didn't happen. I can't hide my feelings like Helga does."

"You don't have to," Dr. Bliss answered. "In fact, Arnold, I think you should continue to do what you've been doing all along, just be a friend to her. I know she doesn't have too many of those."

The next part, she added very thoughtfully and sincerely as she looked at him, "As a matter of fact, Arnold, I believe Helga is very lucky to have someone like you in her life."

Arnold blushed slightly and smiled at Dr. Bliss. Then he looked down sadly a moment, "I just wish she'd act more like it sometimes, instead of hiding her feelings like she does. Maybe if she just showed me she cares more often, I'd be sure if I loved her."

"Just give her time, Arnold, I think she'll come around someday. Maybe someday really soon. Just be patient with her. If she loves you as much as you say, then I think when she hurts you, deep down she hurts herself just as much." Dr. Bliss said that last part knowing only too well how true it was. "Just show her you do care, and I promise you Arnold, she may surprise you."

Arnold looked at Dr. Bliss and said, "You know, Dr. Bliss, I think you're right."

Just then, the timer on Dr. Bliss's wristwatch sounded. She looked at it. It was 7:00 P.M. Outside, it was dark.

"Well, Arnold, I think that's really a lot to think about. The session's over."

Arnold nodded and they walked to the door together. Dr. Bliss opened it for him. "If you ever feel the need to talk about Helga again, just come back and we can talk some more."

"I will," Arnold responded, then added, "And thanks, for everything, Dr. Bliss." Then he hugged her tightly.

"That's what I'm here for," Dr. Bliss said, smiling and hugging him back.

He turned to walk away, but before he walked more than a few feet away, Arnold turned and said, "Oh, there's something I forgot to mention, Dr. Bliss."

"What is it, Arnold?" Dr. Bliss asked, curiously.

Arnold thought about it a moment and said to her, "When I mentioned how Helga likes to call me 'football-head,' well . . . sometimes, I don't really mind." Then he added, smiling slightly goofily again, "In fact, sometimes, I kind-of think it's cute when she calls me that."

He turned and walked off down the hall, a new spring in his step as he turned the corner.

Dr. Bliss smiled happily as she watched him walk off, then closed the door, wondering what Arnold would do tomorrow.

Chapter Fourteen

The next day, Dr. Bliss walked into the cafeteria at PS 118 during lunchtime. It was a Friday, so the teachers and some students were a little surprised to see her there.

"Oh, Dr. Bliss! Over here! Please, have a seat." Principal Wartz said, looking up from the teacher's table where he and Mr. Simmons were eating their lunch and discussing Mr. Simmons next "special" field trip idea. "What brings you here on a Friday?"

Dr. Bliss sat down. "Oh, I thought a little break in the routine was called for. I wanted to observe student behavior before the coming weekend." Actually that was just a cover excuse. The fact was that Dr. Bliss had two specific subjects to observe today. As she sat down, she scanned the cafeteria briefly. No sign of them . . . yet.

"MY PRECIOUS!"

The wild, eerie shriek cut through the quiet conversations in the cafeteria. Everyone at the table looked up from their lunches and those in the lunch line looked over to see what the commotion was.

Standing barefoot in the middle of the lunchroom, still wearing his Hobbit costume from rehearsals, Curly was looking around everywhere, under tables, and behind food carts, a frantic look on his face. He went over to Sid, Stinky, and Harold's usual table and pulled Sid's chair out from under him. Sid fell, landing hard on his butt.

"Curly? W-What's the matter?" Sid asked, looking up at the deranged kid standing over him.

Curly grabbed Sid by the shirt collar and pulled him up to his face. They were nose to nose. "HAVE YOU SEEN IT? IS IT SECRET? IS IT SAFE? I . . . I CAN'T FIND IT! IT'S . . . IT'S GONE! MY PRECIOUS IS GONE!" Curly screamed. He dropped Sid again and ran around looking for the missing ring.

Immediately, Principal Wartz and Mr. Simmons went over to calm Curly down and take him to the office. Curly wasn't very cooperative. Dr. Bliss, watching them both carry Curly away, both holding an arm and Curly kicking his feet, she thought to herself, sighing, 'I guess I'm going to have another very long day later.'

All of a sudden, Dr. Bliss noticed one of the two subjects she was looking for.

Arnold appeared with his best friend Gerald from the lunch line, and walked to their usual table. They sat down and began to talk, preparing to eat their lunches.

Arnold glanced up and his eyes widened as he noticed Helga and Phoebe enter the cafeteria, both of them sitting down at their usual table nearby. He watched as Helga opened her lunch box and frowned, a bitter look appearing in her large blue eyes.

Phoebe looked over at Helga, noticing her frown. "Oh my, Helga, did your mom forget to pack your lunch again?"

"Well, doi, of course Miriam forgot again, genius! Criminy!" Helga snapped shortly and sarcastically at her best friend in frustration. Phoebe looked at Helga wide-eyed and flinched. Seeing that, Helga sighed heavily and said, in a different, more caring tone, "Sorry, Feebs, I didn't mean to yell at you. It's just . . . well, you'd think I'd be used to this by now." Helga looked completely distressed right.

"I'm terribly sorry, Helga." Phoebe said, meaning it with absolute sympathy for her best friend. "I wish I had some money to give you to buy lunch today, but I'm all out. Here, you can share my lunch, if you want," her friend offered, holding out her tray to Helga.

Helga actually smiled slightly at Phoebe's gesture and shook her head. "It's okay, Phoebe, I'll be fine." Then she laid her head down in her folded arms, face-down, and sighed deeply, wondering what she did to deserve this miserable existence.

Arnold saw the whole thing and felt really terrible for Helga. Her mom forgot her lunch again and she didn't have any extra money to buy anything today. She didn't even have anything to trade with Harold this time.

He thought about the first day of preschool and how sad Helga had looked when Harold took her snacks. Then, Arnold smiled widely. That memory gave him an idea. "Gerald, watch my tray for a minute, please." Arnold said, standing up.

"Huh? Arnold, where are you going, man?" Gerald asked, puzzled by his best friends unexpected behavior.

"I just have to go take care of something," Arnold replied simply. He took out the money in his pocket, not much, but just enough . . .

A minute later, Arnold walked over to Helga and Phoebe's table, carrying an extra tray of food and quietly sat it down on the table in front of her. Helga looked up from her arms at the tray. On it were some of her favorites, including a tapioca pudding cup and a chocolate milkshake with a bendy straw. She looked up at Arnold, surprised, and at a total loss. Gerald and Phoebe both looked equally as surprised by the whole thing.

"Arnold? I...what's all this?" Helga stammered, far too surprised to pretend to be a bully at the moment.

Arnold rubbed his right arm nervously, "W-well, I noticed you didn't have anything to eat today, so I thought I would buy you lunch."

Helga looked at him, very much confused, although the initial shock was wearing off now. What was his angle? She scowled and said, with an 'I don't buy that for a minute, bucko' sound to her voice, "You know, April Fools Day was last week, football-head. Try checking a calender."

Instead of getting ticked off and walking away as he usually did, Arnold, knowing to expect this, was prepared for her defenses today. He only smiled at her. "I promise that it's no gag, Helga. I just thought that you looked hungry and I wanted you to be happy today."

Helga went wide-eyed, not expecting him to say that at all. She could see that he was looking at her, totally sincere. "You . . . you really did this, just for me, Arnold?"

Arnold nodded, smiling warmly, though still nervously at her. Helga still couldn't believe it. This was a dream come true. She was afraid to pinch herself for fear of it being a dream.

Gerald looked at his friend in stunned bewilderment, his mouth wide open in astonishment, and Phoebe looked surprised as well at this unforseen turn of events, but a small smile appeared on her dainty face.

Helga looked down at the tray, surprised again that Arnold knew exactly what she loved to eat, and said, with a bit of nervousness in her own voice, "Well . . . thanks, um Ar-Arnold." She looked back up at him, her large blue eyes brightening up with happiness, just as they had six years before on that first day of preschool.

Arnold smiled at the way her face lit up. "You're welcome, Helga." He turned to go back to Gerald at their usual table, where Gerald sat, still looking at Arnold strangely. Arnold didn't care. He felt too good inside.

"Hey Arnold!" Helga called out to him.

Arnold stopped and turned back to look at her, a questioning look on his face. "Yeah, Helga?"

Helga was standing up behind her table. Now she looked nervous, rubbing the back of her neck.

"Would you, um, like to . . . to join us for lunch today, Arnold?" She asked, stuttering slightly. She glanced at Phoebe, who was still surprised, but pleasantly so, and seemed to be asking her best friend something with her small eyes. Then Helga added, flippantly waving her hand, "Oh, yeah, you can bring 'Tall-Hair-Boy' with you, too." Phoebe brightened more.

Arnold blinked. Now it was his turn to be surprised. He looked at her. Helga was totally sincere. This was the Helga he liked, the one he saw that first day . . . the one he cared deeply for. "I - I'd like that, Helga."

Helga smiled, even blushed lightly for a brief moment, then she covered it up, and added, in her usual everyday tone, "Just don't think it's going to start becoming an everyday thing, or anything, bucko."

Arnold smiled knowingly. "Okay Helga, whatever you say," Then turned to get his tray and Gerald, feeling really good inside, his eyes half-lidded, a pleased and slightly lovesick look on his face.

At the teacher's table, Dr. Bliss saw the whole thing and smiled to herself. She thought how funny Arnold and Helga were. They really seemed destined for each other. Both of them were complete opposites in most regards, like polar opposites, and yet had a very deep personal bond of affection that attracted them to one another. Helga knew it was there and hid it from the world, and Arnold was only beginning to realize that it was there, that it had been there all along . . . but someday, she knew they'd both figure it out.

'Maybe someday soon, from the looks of things,' Dr. Bliss thought as she watched the two of them sitting together, casting brief, caring glances at the other when the other wasn't looking.

Today though, progress had definitely been made.

The End

Originally written in September of 2002. I hope that you enjoyed reading and reviewing my fanfiction as much as I did writing it. Thank you. May The Force Be With You Always and God Bless. -DarthRoden (a.k.a. Carl)