A/N: The last chapter. Thank you to everyone who has been so patient throughout the whole thing. Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed, and I hope this is better than what you expected and worth the wait.
Disclaimer – I do not own Hey Arnold!
Where to Begin
Chapter 30 – The Beginning
Helga felt her heart break in half. She was in a daze as she thanked Samson, the board of directors, Mrs. Chadwick, and who else she was talking to. She quickly got ready to leave. She had to flee. She couldn't bear to watch her worst nightmare unfold in front of her eyes.
"Helga, where are you going?"
Helga turned around from the chair where her purse hung. Josh was talking to her, Callie at his side, but his voice sounded far away, as if in a tunnel. "I have to go," she managed to respond in a voice unlike her own. She turned to leave.
Both Josh and Callie grabbed her. "What? Why?" Callie demanded.
"Where's Arnold?" Josh was watching her carefully.
"I don't care! Please, I have to go!" She shoved them away from her and ran out of the room.
"Helga!" Callie cried, but Josh held her back. "Josh, what the hell are you doing? We have to stop her!"
"We can't do anything until we have answers," Josh said lowly, pointing to the dance floor. Arnold and Lila were holding hands and looking deeply at each other.
Callie looked quickly from Josh to Arnold. "What is he doing? He's messing everything up!"
"Probably for good this time," Josh whispered.
¤ -¤ - ¤
Arnold could not breathe, even as he pulled away from Lila. He searched her blue eyes for answers, amazed at the way she was looking at him. Her pretty face was so open, so honest, so full of emotion. It was so unlike her to be so genuine. She was so beautiful.
'Cause you're beautiful just not on the inside…
His eyes narrowed. "Why the hell did you do that?" he demanded.
Lila looked on the verge of an emotional breakdown. He guessed she was scared to death of what his reaction would be, and now that she knew it was anger she was terrified. Sure enough, her blue eyes filled up with tears. "Arnold, I mean it. I love you," she whispered, her voice shaking. She tightened her slim arms around his neck.
"You don't know what love is!" he snapped. He was tired of her games, tired of her getting in the way of what he wanted.
"Yes, yes I do! Arnold, I love you with every bone in my body! You are the only one who's ever cared, really cared, about me. Arnold, you have to believe me. You just have to!"
She was becoming desperate. Mascara ran down her face with fresh tears. Arnold removed her arms from around him. "I'm sorry to hear that, Lila, I really am, but I love someone else."
The blood drained from her face, leaving it chalk white, her freckles vibrantly appearing against her paling skin. "Who?"
Arnold smiled at the thought of the girl in the pink dress. "Helga," he said, his voice trailing off as he moved into his own world.
"No!" she cried, as if his answer was the end of her life. "No, not her! I won't lose someone else to her!" Lila threw herself at Arnold and began pounding her small fists into his chest.
Arnold grabbed her hands and shook her slightly. "Lila, stop!" He sighed. "Lila, it can never work between us. You don't love me, you love the idea of me because through everything I've managed to still treat you like a human being and with some respect, which is more than you deserve. You don't even know anything about me anymore."
She choked back tears. "I know I love you, and I know I can change! I promise!"
Arnold bit his lip. She was shaking in his grip. "But it won't change me, Lila," he whispered. "I'm glad you want to change, but do it for yourself, not for me, Lila." Because I really don't give a damn anymore.
She looked away and wiped her eyes. She took a deep breath. "So that's it. There's nothing I can do?"
Arnold felt Lila's knees weaken. He tightened his hold on her. "Lila, if you ever need someone, I'll be there for you like I always have, and I'm sure you can change, but I love Helga."
She pulled away from him. "I'm sorry, Arnold. I'm just sorry."
Arnold had a feeling she was saying it more to herself than to him. He let her go, emotional mess and all. He had no desire to be with her a minute longer. He wanted Helga.
Arnold quickly walked over to his table when he saw that Helga was no longer talking to Samson and his group. Callie and Josh were sitting silently with their backs to him. Arnold flung himself into a chair. "You guys will never guess what just happened." He paused. "Where's Helga?"
"She left," Callie said without turning around.
"WHAT?" Arnold leapt out of his chair. "When? Why? Why did you let her go? Would you please look at me?"
"A few minutes ago. She saw you and did not like what she saw." Josh refused to look at Arnold as well.
"She saw me and Lila kiss?"
"You kissed Lila?" Josh and Callie cried, finally turning to stare with their mouths open at him.
"She kissed me!" Arnold cried defensively. "I was dancing with her and she stared going on and on about how she was in love with me and than she kissed me!"
"What were you even doing by her, Arnold? That girl's poison!" Callie thundered.
"I was trying to be nice. She looked so pathetic and alone. I felt bad. I never imagined she'd to that!"
"So you didn't kiss her, she kissed you?" Josh asked.
"Then what are you waiting for? Go after her!" Josh cried.
"Right!" Arnold quickly ran out of the room. I just hope I'm not too late.
¤ -¤ - ¤
Helga wiped a tear from her cheek as she slowly walked down the stairs of the Women's Club. I'm such a fool. How could I believe he'd ever get over her? She kicked a pebble out of frustration. She wiped her face again, only to realize it was not just wet from crying. She looked up into the night sky only to be met with cold rain. Great. My happily ever after. She started home, although it was several blocks away, as the rain began to fall harder.
"Damn," she muttered as she stepped into a puddle, scared half to death from Arnold's yelling. "Go away, Arnold. Lila might miss you." She began walking again.
Arnold slipped, running into her from behind, causing them both to fall forward. He quickly sprung to his feet, helping her up as soon as he was up. "Thanks," she muttered before leaving.
She ignored him and fresh tears began falling down her face. Just let me go!
"She kissed me!"
Helga stopped and turned around. Arnold was ten feet behind her, his white shirt sticking to his chest, dotted with mud. She imagined she did not look much better. "What?"
He walked to her. "She kissed me."
Her reaction looked as if he hit her. "So that makes it better? It didn't look like you were putting up much of a fight!"
"She caught me by surprise."
Helga threw her hands in the air. "Well, what a nice surprise," her voice cracked. "You finally got what you've always wanted. Excuse me, but what I want right now is to go home." She turned and began walking with difficulty. She could feel a huge bruise begin to form on her thigh.
"I don't give a damn about her, Helga. I don't want Lila. I don't want to kiss her, touch her, nothing."
Helga continued walking.
"I don't give a damn about her because I love you."
For the second time in minutes Helga's heart stopped. She walked back to him, barely able to see anything in the blinding rain. "What?"
Arnold smiled weakly. "I love you, Helga. I love every crazy thing about you. I can't be without you, and I don't want to be. When I'm not with you, I can't think of anything but you. When I'm with you, all I want to do is hold you and tell you how much I love you." He wiped away the tears and the rain from her face. "Helga, you're everything to me."
Helga stared blankly at him. "But...but how can I trust you?"
"Have I ever given you a reason not to?" he asked as he lowered his lips to hers.
Helga quickly pulled away. "But what about Lila?"
His face was still only inches from hers. She could see the raindrops stuck to his eyelashes. He pulled her even closer to him. "Forget Lila. Forget Jake. That's over. All that matters is I love you and I always will." His smile grew. "I know you hate promises, but I won't break that one. I don't know why I'd ever want to."
She stared into his eyes, so open and loving, before breaking down completely. "Arnold! I love you, too! I have since we were three since I first saw you and your stupid football head and you told me you liked my bow. Oh God, why'd you think I wore it for so long? Even when I was with Jake I loved you! Oh, Arnold!" She hugged him tightly. "I love you! I love you! I love you!"
"I know, Helga. I know." He pulled away and pulled a strand of hair away from her face. "I love you, and you love me."
She sniffed. "Now what?"
He grinned. "Now I have you all to myself." He pulled her lips to his, kissing her with more passion than he imagined he had. Helga's knees went weak, but she knew she was finally safe, and finally happy.
¤ -¤ - ¤
"Well, have you ever seen a more perfect sight?" Callie asked as she, Gerald, Josh, and Callie gazed down at Helga and Arnold kissing under a streetlight in the rain.
"True love's first, well, first official, everyone knows what's going on and wants to and is able to, kiss," Phoebe said, smiling as Gerald held her.
"It's about time," Josh added, grinning.
"Lord, they'll be doing this all the time," Gerald groaned.
Down below, Arnold and Helga were oblivious to the rest of the world. They had each other, and that was more than enough.
A/N: Later days.