Writer's Note: The following Hey Arnold! Fanfic is a short story and deals with the subject of true loves and "first times." This story was originally written in response to a writing challenge in August 2002 and the final draft completed in early 2003. Both Arnold & Helga are seventeen and eighteen in this story respectively. Rated PG-13 for adult situations.

Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold! Craig Bartlett created the characters and Nickelodeon owns them.

Dedicated to AllieCat1 without whom this fanfic would not have been published - thank you for the support Alliecat; and in honored memory of H.L.C. who shared one awesome stormy summer night with me and inspired this story - RIP my Luna Moth Girl.

On A Stormy Summer Night

By DarthRoden (a.k.a. Carl)

It was just after midnight and raining heavily outside, with the occasional flashes of lightning.

Arnold was laying on his bed, looking up at the skylight, listening to the soothing sound of the raindrops hitting the roof, and the occasional quiet rumbles of distant thunder from the early summer thunderstorm. He had no lights on, the dim city lights outside was the only illumination, so the whole room had an almost grayish quality from the skylight overhead. The rain splatters hitting the glass and running in small streams shadowed in this lighting in an almost supernatural quality. The occasional flashes of lightning made the whole room brighten for a split second, and then return to the soothing grayish nighttime look that Arnold enjoyed on nights like this.

The teenager was laying above his covers, dressed in his sleeping shorts and blue sleeveless t-shirt, his hands rested behind his football-shaped head, bathed in the same gray, rain-flowing shadows that filled his room. A small window near his bed was open, letting in a small, slightly cool breeze that kept the summer heat at bay. Arnold was wide awake and staring up through the skylight at the rain splashing down and running in currents across his field of vision. His eyes wore a familiar, half-lidded, far away gaze that his best friend, Gerald, would have known all too well.

Arnold was deep in thought, his oblong brain replaying the recent events of the day. One image stood out in his mind – the face of his girlfriend, Helga.

Ever since the end of fourth grade, when Helga finally revealed her secret love for him, both of them had been dating.

At first, everyone who knew them had been shocked by this news.

Gerald and Phoebe, the first people they told, had been surprised to say the least. Phoebe had been surprised, but pleased about the whole thing. Gerald, on the other hand, was suspicious of Helga and worried that Arnold was being used, which almost resulted in Arnold not talking to Gerald, till Helga made them sit down and be friends again (at the threat of her fists). But after seeing them together for a few days, then a week, and seeing how they looked after each other, Gerald was finally convinced that Arnold was neither losing his mind, nor the victim of another practical joke by Helga. Besides, he realized that he could spend more time with Phoebe if Arnold and Helga stayed together. Gerald and Phoebe also became a couple, no surprise there, and all four of them became a social circle of close friends and hung out together from that time on.

Arnold and Helga's relationship had been the hottest gossip for a while at PS 118, started mainly by Rhonda and some Sixth grade girls and some other people who made bets on how long their relationship would last until it came falling through, as nearly everyone expected it would. But after six months, during which there were a couple of arguments and a few squabbles, but no break up, it became apparent to everyone that the "pigtailed bully" and the "football-head" were going to stay together. Everyone who had been skeptical at first began to see how much the two of them really liked each other, even Rhonda conceding at the end of the six months (the longest to hold out on a break up) that the two of them did make a decent, even cute couple together.

The thing that really confused people about Arnold and Helga's relationship was the fact that, despite the fact they were now a couple, neither of them had changed very much on the outside. Arnold was still the kind, sensitive boy he'd always been and Helga the short-tempered, scowling girl she'd always been . . . that is to someone who didn't really take a closer look at the two of them together.

Helga's angry scowls and sarcastic tongue-lashings were less severe and her insults became more like playful jokes . . . even her favorite insult for Arnold "football-head" was now little more than an amusing, even affectionate nickname that Arnold even smiled about now. Arnold, for his part, didn't get angry or ticked-off any more at Helga's behavior, and when he did reprimand her for going too far occasionally, usually there was a lot more caring and understanding to it. A lot more love could have been heard in his voice.

This brings us to tonight.

Helga's parents were going out of town to visit Olga, who was in London doing something else to win her even more awards and trophies. They were going to be gone a week and didn't have enough money to spend on three, and Helga, who wasn't too enthusiastic to visit her older sister (despite the little progress Arnold had managed on Olga's past visits to get them together and bury the hatchet) decided to stay behind.

Of course, her parents insisted she couldn't stay home alone. "Criminy, I'm eighteen years old, I don't need a babysitter!" Helga complained annoyed at her parent's lack of confidence in her ability not to throw some wild party and ruin their house in their absence. Even so they made arrangements with Arnold's grandpa, Phil, for Helga to stay at the Sunset Arms Boarding House till they got back. After that bit of news, Helga's objections immediately died down.

Both Arnold and Helga had been ecstatic about this, spending the whole week of the first month of their summer vacation together under one roof. The boarders had been teasing them all day, about living together, even temporarily, like they were already married; making the two of them blush whenever they heard such a comment. Arnold thought Helga looked cute when she blushed, and even when she threatened, almost playfully, to punch Mr. Kokoshka in the nose if he didn't let up. Helga had loved being there with Arnold and the boarders at supper that evening. Arnold's grandparents loved Helga as much as he did, and the feeling was mutual from Helga too.

Until two hours ago, both of them had been in the living room downstairs, sitting next to each other on the couch closely, watching a horror movie. Helga curled up into a ball next to him and Arnold had his arms around her, both of them cringing at the really scary parts of the movie, mainly as an excuse to hold onto each other more. When the movie was over it was nearly eleven and Arnold walked Helga to her guest room and they kissed goodnight for a really long time. Helga wasn't known for giving short kisses. Only a lack of oxygen from both of them had made them stop reluctantly.

Now Arnold just laid there on his bed looking up at the raindrops splashing the windows of the skylight and running down in silvery streams to the sides, actually seeing the girl he loved in the shapes the water drops formed. He smiled to himself, remembering the taste of her lips and her tongue against his. He let out a deep, lovesick sigh.

The lightning flashed, lighting up the whole room and there was a soft, almost quiet knock on the open window, that almost made Arnold jump, as his mind was quickly filled - for a split second - with the tales of ghosts in the boarding house that his grandpa told him.

He sat up and looked over at the window seeing Helga looking back at him and snickering. "You look like you've seen a ghost, football-head." She then crawled inside his room as he stood up and walked over. "Helga? What are you doing outside in the rain?"

She stood there, slightly drenched with her golden pigtails and pink bow plastered to her head. "Couldn't sleep and I wanted to come up and be with you, doofus."

Arnold quickly fetched a towel and handed it to her "You know you could have just come to my door."

Helga said, "After midnight in this boarding house full of nuts and your grandparents down the hall? Yeah right, like I wanna hear any more of their ragging." Arnold realized she had a point. Then he snickered and said, "Well, I guess old habits die hard, huh?" Helga blushed realizing what he was talking about, all the times she admitted to sneaking over to his house and hiding on the fire escape to watch him sleep before he knew she loved him. She punched him on the shoulder, though not hard.

Arnold also became aware of the fact she was standing there wearing her bed clothes too.

The last time Arnold had ever seen Helga in her bed clothes was when he discovered her and Phoebe on his fire escape half-a-lifetime ago "taking a walk." She'd been sleepwalking and unconsciously revealing her love for him in her sleep.

Of course, then she still had a plain, nine-year-old girls' body and the PJs she'd worn then did little to highlight her soft, feminine features such as they were then.

What she was wearing now – a pink oversized t-shirt with a neckline that exposed her bare left shoulder and blue shorts - was a whole lot more flattering to the feminine curves of her thin, sleek body that time had developed and she'd grown into. They were also wet from the rain, though not completely soaked through.

"Hey Arnold! Hello! Earth to Arnold-o!" Helga was waving her hand in front of his face. Arnold blinked realizing her was staring and shook his head. Then he said, "Um, s-so you wanted to come and stay with me you said? Is everything okay?" He asked, stepping forward on the first step and putting an arm out to her, the concern clear in his voice.

Helga nodded and answered, in a nervous, quiet voice. "I don't like being in a strange room by myself during a thunderstorm. It makes me really nervous. Well, maybe that scary movie we saw didn't help either," she added, smiling slightly, trying to liven the mood. "Um, do you mind if I stay with you, tonight, Arnold?" There was a plea in her large blue eyes.

Arnold blinked again. In the numerous times he'd had Helga over to his house since they began dating off and on for the last eight, he'd never had her in his room alone past dark, let alone had her sleep over with him. A number of times, his adolescent mind would often have fantasies about what he would do in just such a situation, Helga, in her bed clothes wanting to stay the night in his room. In all of his fantasies, Arnold always wondered what he'd say if he found himself in a situation like this one, what the perfect line, or icebreaker would be, and how smooth he would make it come out.

In a voice an octave higher than his normal cool tone, he stuttered out, "S-sure Helga. I'd like that."

That was defiantly not it.

Helga just stood there, looking down at him, rubbing her right forearm nervously. Even at seventeen, and the normal growth spurts, Helga was still a head taller than Arnold. He guessed he would always be a "Shortman" as his Grandpa still called him. There was an instant flash of lightning that made the whole room light up brightly for a moment and made Helga visibly nervous.

Arnold, looking at Helga in her bedclothes in his own room suddenly felt nervous butterflies deep down in his stomach. "Um, w-why don't you take my bed tonight, Helga. It's already warm." he felt his own cheeks redden at that statement, suddenly very glad the lighting in the room was as it was so Helga wouldn't see. "I'll just . . . um, I'll take the couch, Gerald always says that . . ." He then felt Helga take his hand and he stopped talking abruptly, before he could say what Gerald always says about how comfortable Arnold's couch was on his sleepovers.

Helga looked at him, very nervously. She was visibly shaking. She gulped a moment, before she said, in a really quiet voice, "Arnold . . . I-I'd rather share your bed with you tonight." Her hand, which felt so warm and soft to Arnold, tightened around his gently. In the same quiet voice, she said to him, "I want to spend this night with you, football-head."

Arnold blinked, his eyes widening at that. Looking at her, he could actually see, despite the dim lighting from outside the windows, Helga turning bright red at what she'd said. He suddenly felt his heart beat faster at the thought of spending the night in bed with this girl before him.

The girl who confessed her love to him on that balcony nearly eight years ago . . . the girl who fell in love with him six years before that . . . the girl who had always been there for him, even when he didn't know she had been . . . the girl he had always loved deep down in his heart, even when he himself hadn't realized it till much later.

His childhood friend, his girlfriend, his soul mate . . . and soon, his lover.

His heart was pounding and his hand tightened gently around hers too and he asked her, quietly, "Are you sure, Helga? Do you really want this?"

Their eyes meet as their faces drew closer together and unwavering Helga said, in the same quiet voice, "Yes, I do, Arnold. I love you, and I want to be with you." Her eyes seem to dance between playful and anxious.

Arnold felt his own eyes go moist as he looked back with his own green, half-lidded orbs. Their faces were now only inches apart, practically nose to nose. "I want you too Helga," he whispered quietly, "and I love you too."

They both had tears in their eyes as they gently kissed gently. When they pulled apart, Arnold put his other hand to Helga's face and gently wiped the lone tear on her face away with his thumb. She smiled at him lovingly in a way she only did for him.

Then they looked over at Arnold's still made bed and walked over, still holding hands. They both suddenly felt very nervous. Not only was this the "first time" for both of them, as far as sex went, but they suddenly realized that neither of them had ever even been completely undressed in front of the other before.

"So, um, how do you want to do this?" Helga asked him, still looking down.

"I don't know, this was your idea," Arnold answered, smiling slightly, and still looking at the bed.

"Yeah, way to pass the buck, bucko," she muttered. Then Helga looked over and blushed as she smiled warmly at him. "Well, we could turn away and take our clothes off, then turn and . . ." she said, blushing.

Arnold turned to her and nodded, "Okay."

He turned away from her and began to slowly take his clothes off. He tossed them, one at a time, on a pile next to him. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Helga's bedclothes join his. Her pink nightshirt, her blue shorts, and finally her black undergarments. Arnold now stood there, in the dark room completely nude, the small gently breeze from the storm blowing cool, inviting air on his warm body . . . and probably hers too, he thought briefly.

"I-I'm ready now," Arnold stuttered quietly, looking ahead of him at the wall. Behind him, he heard Helga mutter, quietly, "Me too." He took a deep breath and gulped nervously. Then he turned to look at the girl - the young woman - before him.

Helga looked remarkably beautiful standing there, her soft, light-toned bare skin shadowed by the raindrop shadows that played across everything. She was looking at him with a sort-of frightened and fascinated look on her face as her eyes darted over his own body. Arnold knew he would remember this first sight of her standing here like this in front of him, wearing nothing but the pink bow in her soft, blonde hair, for the rest of his life and beyond.

"So, this is what an angel looks like," Arnold said softly.

Helga's face broke out into a huge grin, her eyes narrowing slightly in that love struck look Arnold was now all too familiar with. "You look pretty heavenly yourself, football-head."

Arnold smiled as he took a step forward, focusing on both her beautiful eyes, and the pink bow on top of her head. Helga noticed his gaze and realized that she'd forgotten about her bow. She reached up to remove it and Arnold took her hands quickly and gently. "No, I . . . I want you to keep it on, please," he said remembering that it was that same pink bow that he first noticed once on another stormy day.

Helga smiled and nodded, and then she reached up and readjusted his ever-present blue cap to fit at the right angle of his head. Then they both lowered their arms and took each other's hands again.

"So now, under the covers?" Helga asked, again in that quiet, nervous voice.

Arnold nodded and turned to his bed and pulled back his comforter. He turned to Helga and said, smiling and gesturing, "Ladies first." Helga smiled and climbed into the bed slowly.

He looked at her as Helga lay there and made herself comfortable, the comforter covering everything just below her bare shoulders. Somehow, she looked even better covered up and smiling at him than she had standing in the pale light completely nude. Arnold smiled and then he turned to his desk.

"Hey, where are you going?" He heard Helga ask nervously.

Arnold went to his desk, where his computer and a picture of Helga sat, and opened one of the draws and pulled out a small brown paper bag. Opening it, he found a box of condoms that his grandpa bought him a few months ago. At the time, he'd been really embarrassed about it, but now he secretly thanked his grandpa for his foresight. In the morning, he would thank his grandpa personally. The old man had always been really sharp about certain things that Arnold himself had been too naive or dense about at first.

Helga saw what Arnold had and smiled to herself, despite her nervousness. That was her Arnold for her, always thoughtful of doing the right thing, especially for her.

He climbed into bed next to Helga and lay on his side facing her. She curled up against him and stretched her arm around him. Arnold couldn't help but notice how warm her skin felt against his own. If his face were any indication, he knew he probably felt just as warm to her. He put his arm around her waist and the two of them lay there under the comforter, just holding each other and trembling nervously.

"Well . . . I guess this is it, huh?" Arnold said, the nervousness clear in his voice.

"Um yeah, I-I guess so," Helga answered, looking back at him with the same emotions clear on her face.

"Are you afraid, Helga?" Arnold asked her seriously, rubbing her shoulder, her skin was cooling skin where the breeze from outside touched it.

"Yeah, a little," she admitted, looking away a moment, up through the skylight at the raindrops, listening to the gentle sound of the distant thunder and drops hitting the glass.

"Um, Helga," Arnold said, also looking up at the skylight at the raindrops and listening to their melody. "If you decided to change your mind, or anything, I want you to know that I would never force you to do anything you were worried or nervous about. I never want to hurt you, Helga. I love you." He leaned over and kissed her cheek softly.

Helga looked back over at him and snuggling up against his embrace, answered, "I know Arnold. I trust you with all of my heart. And I'll always love you, too, football-head." She rolled over slowly on top of him and kissed him softly. He returned her kiss, his hands roaming over her waist.

Arnold looked up at her and said, smiling, "We've stopped shaking."

Helga blinked and smiled too, this time with a wicked gleam in her eyes, "Well, maybe now it's the room's turn to shake." She leaned over and then they kissed again. Both of them lost themselves in the pleasure of their last deep kiss as virgins, the sound of the raindrops that continued to fall created a perfect melody for this defining moment.

Hundreds of small thoughts and memories went through Arnold's mind as he lost himself in making love for the first time with his only true partner . . . his soul mate and one true love.

Arnold could see their whole lives mapped out in Helga's lovely blue eyes: both of them meeting, their childhood together, their confessions of love, the first of what would be numerous times of lovemaking in their lives, the two of them married, raising children, many grandchildren afterwards, and finally, in a future too far away for him to imagine, the two of them, really old, holding hands on a porch together in a porch swing, watching the distant sunset, looking at each other with a look of love that needed no words to say . . . a love that had never diminished over time, but would grow only stronger. Even after that, in the next life beyond this world, together forever throughout eternity in a place that love exists forever for soul mates . . .

An hour later, it was still raining outside, the sound of the raindrops still as soothing as it had been the whole time, between the soft moans and whispered words.

Arnold lay on his back, smiling gently as he looked up at the rain hitting the skylight again . Helga lay next to him on his right side, now dressed in one of his plaid shirts, her thin body stretched against his like a cat, a beautiful smile on her face, as if lost in a really beautiful dream. Arnold looked over at his sleeping girlfriend and kissed her ever-so gently on the forehead. "Goodnight, Angel." He murmured. She stirred softly and whispered in her sleep, "Oh, Arnold." He held her hand gently under the comforter as he looked back up through the skylight at the storm clouds and the raindrops, listening to the gentle music of the early summer thunderstorm, his eyes again held that far away thoughtful gaze of a boy lost in his thought . . . and deeply in love.

The End