Yep... Another one-shot! I can't seem to find a good, original topic to write a long story about. YET! There's still hope, but not for right now!



An orange-brown, frayed leaf fluttered noiselessly through the air, probably the last reminder that fall ever was.

It was beginning to get dark outside. Huge, black, menacing clouds were stealthily rolling in, filling the sky and blocking out the pale sun with the oncoming threat of rain.

If one was sitting on one of the swings of that deserted elementary school playground, one would shiver slightly because of the cold. One would also hear the bouncing of a single basketball and would glance over to their left curiously to notice the forms of two teenagers clashing on the black asphalt court.

Both players, one would observe, were clad in old sweatpants and plain t- shirts, and one would be thankful, while dragging a toe through the dust under the squeaky swing, for the warmth of his yellow sweater and knit scarf.

And over his own, slightly harsh, breath, one would be able to discern at times a particularly cheesed-off growl floating away from the court due to her opponent's nothing-but-net granny-shot.

And one would come to his senses after a while and discover that his presence wasn't heeded or necessary, and he would rise from the lonely swing and slip back into the comfortable shadows of a familiar dark alleyway.


In fact, the temperature outside was close to freezing, but the biting wind was gratefully welcomed by the tired teenager. A trickle of sweat steadily dripped down his furrowed brow as he uneasily dribbled the basketball, searching for the right opportunity to make a move.

"Oh, c'mon you wuss!" his pondering was interrupted by a panting shout. "Just give up already, you know you can't get past me!" His energy was restored a little at those words and his determination to win urged him on.

The boy backed away a little from the slender, but surprisingly powerfully built blonde girl, still dribbling. He pushed a lock of his own whimsical, slightly damp, blonde hair back from his eyes, carefully avoiding knocking off his tiny blue hat, and chuckled, "You know Helga, TOO much confidence can bring about someone's downfall if she's not careful."

"Whatever!" She bared her glinting teeth like a cornered, wild animal in an attempt to threaten a hunter, and crouched, ready to strike. Most of her hair had already been set free from her absurdly large, pink ribbon that tied back her long ponytail, and infinite little strands of her light blonde hair floated around her face in little wisps, reminding Arnold of Medusa. He would've laughed at her ridiculous image if the situation wasn't so serious--more so if he had been further away than her arm's reach. "I don't need any of your Zen advice, Karate-Boy. Just play!"

But before those last words fell from her lips, her opponent spotted an opening and charged for the net, right past her, and shot a perfect lay-up.

He chased after the ball that had playfully decided to roll away across the four-square courts at a mad pace. When he jogged back he gave Helga a triumphant, smug look that plainly said, I-hate-to-say-I-told-you-so-but-I- told-you-so!

The blonde terror grumbled, "You'll be sorry for that, Arnoldo," as she practically snatched the ball away from him, returning a look that, if it was just a bit stronger, would have surely frozen him into a statue. "I'm not through with you yet!"

And he was sorry, after she shoved past him with lightning speed for another two-pointer.

Neither teen even considered the option of backing down or calling a tie, not this far into the game. They had been playing, or battling, for over an hour, the score of each player only sluggishly surpassing the other's by one or two points at a time.

"This... is getting... stupid," Arnold gasped while trying to keep Helga at bay.

"The only thing... that's stupid... is that I'm stuck... playing against a dumb Football-Head when... I could be home now... watching TV!" she answered, breathing hard.

He flung the ball behind his back when she was looking the other way and the ball sailed around the rim and plopped through the net.

"You're the one who challenged me in the first place!" he argued.

Helga ducked under Arnold's outstretched arm and flew to the goal, leaped into the air, and taking advantage of the shorter basketball hoop, slam- dunked.

She swaggered back to the foul shot line and wiped off her moist cheek with the tail of her shirt, revealing a chiseled stomach.

Arnold's attention was snapped back to reality when Helga replied, "Oh, come ON, Bucko! I couldn't resist the chance to thrash you at your best sport!" She smirked wickedly.

"I thought baseball was my best sport!"

"Pssh," she rolled her blue eyes to the ever darkening sky and shoved the basketball into his arms. "Sure it is, Football-Head, if baseball and skeet-shooting are the same sport!"

"Exactly! The world was a much better place when I conked you on the head-- you were nice for once! Too bad it only lasted for two days..."

"Shut up."

"I would've gotten the Nobel Peace Prize if your amnesia was permanent!" He laughed, remembering the horror he had gone through that day long, long ago.

"Shut up!"

They continued bickering in similar fashion, but it was different somehow from earlier years, almost, dare he think it, flirtatious.

After that last perfect dunk, Helga's confidence had rocketed to a new level, and she was relentless, never letting her guard slip for a second.

Arnold kept finding it harder and harder to concentrate on the game. If he didn't know any better--which he did when it came to Helga--he'd say that Helga was beginning to play an entirely different, drastic game of her own...

First of all, there was that shirt thing...

Then, after Arnold had made a stunning three-pointer, Helga's shoe became conveniently untied...

And to add the icing to the cake, deciding that she was becoming overheated- -which was very confusing considering the cold weather--Helga removed her sweatpants, revealing some VERY short pink Soffes that did almost too much justice to her slim long legs...

It wasn't like he completely disapproved of this, um, strategy? But Arnold was beginning to think it had gone far enough!

Arnold faced the goal, fruitlessly warring against Helga's fierce defense. Her back was to him, her long, milky-white arms reaching around Arnold, permitting him from moving even a measly inch forward and ever trying to knock the ball out of his hands. He decided to try his luck and sprint around her to the left, but Helga was too quick for him. She pressed her body into his, cutting off his escape.

Startled by this unforeseen sudden contact, Arnold lost what was left of his focus in a flash. He faltered, tripping over his own feet.

Helga obviously hadn't expected this, and in one swift motion long slender legs became entangled with shorter stocky ones, and their owners were thrown onto the cold, hard pavement.

Or rather, Arnold dragged Helga down with him.

All that occupied her thoughts was that their score was tied, and this would further delay any hopes of her winning if she came out of this fall with a broken wrist. Oooh, Arnold was going to pay!

The old worn basketball leisurely bounced away, forgotten for the time being. Arnold was on his back, Helga's limp form on top of him, her face obscured from his vision as it was pressed into his shoulder. Both were breathing heavily, their rapid heart beats almost in sync.

"Ow..." came a muffled grown. Helga lifted her head and suddenly realized that her face was just an inch away from Arnold's. Emerald green eyes locked with deep blue ones. All time was frozen, suspended in that one tense moment...

And then all hell broke loose. The jungle gym flashed as the entire playground was illuminated in a split second. A deafening crack that reverberated into a deep, low moan from overhead signaled the tense, overhanging downpour to begin. Helga jumped so fast that she practically flew up into the air, completely ruining the moment. She grumpily cursed herself for being so gutless.

The two blondes quickly struggled to their feet, Helga blatantly refusing any assistance Arnold offered.

As if in answer to Helga's curse, huge drops of water whistled on their flight to the ground, sending up splashes like miniature hand-grenade explosions. Helga groaned through her teeth and glared off into space as the heavy rain pelted down on them.

For a moment that seemed to last forever, all was silent, or as silent as it could be excluding the mini-missiles assaulting the earth. They just stood there, too shocked and exhausted to run for cover. The merciless rain started soaking their hair and seeping through their clothes, chilling their hot skin. They stood, Arnold staring at Helga, his hair drooping in all directions over his face, and Helga with her arms crossed over her chest, stubbornly trying not to shiver owing to the fact that her tiny shorts clung to her and provided no warmth.

And then, out of nowhere, Arnold laughed. Softly at first, but it steadily grew into a deep, hearty chuckle.

Helga, without the faintest idea why, started to laugh too.

Their laughter tremored and pulsed through their tired veins.

Arnold regained some control and held out his hand to Helga, who looked at it, baffled. Arnold said, "I think it's a tie." Helga grasped his hand and they continued to laugh.

Hardly realizing what they were doing, they were laughing so hard, the two leaned into each other for support. Helga chuckled into Arnold's shoulder.

Another bolt of lightning rent the sky. Arnold glimpsed a flash of pink in Helga's hair.

Suddenly, he was hurled back through time to that day in the rain... the day he and Helga first met. A weird inspiration struck him and he found himself saying, "Hey, Helga?"

"Huh?" she sighed into his shirt.

"I like your pants..." And noticing the absurdity of the statement, he laughed harder, "'Cause they're pink like your bow!"

And before Helga could reply, without warning, Arnold lifted his dripping hands to Helga's face and pulled it to his so that his lips were touching hers, giving not one single care about whether or not she would pound him.

As Gerald would've said in a time like this--that is if Gerald had been able to stomach such a strange moment--Arnold was a bold dude.

And to his astonishment, she grasped his face in her hands, her wet hair cascading over Arnold's face and sending little rivulets of rain trickling down behind his ears, and feverishly kissed back, more passionately than he had ever imagined in his wildest dreams.

And he had dreamt many dreams up until now, none of which would be needed anymore to quench his hopes and desires.


If one was nearby, it was possible that he would faintly hear the pleasant sound of blissful laughter wafting through the rain. He would become intrigued as to why the sudden change of atmosphere, of heated war to peace, had been accomplished in mere seconds.

He would then turn back from his course homeward and would peer from around the corner of the brick school building, completely drenched from head to toe, and he would witness through slightly fogged glasses the two figures' shapes in the downpour.

And if one continued to watch, he would also see the slightly shorter figure stoop down and take the other in his arms and twirl her through the rain-laden air.

And he would sigh, a somewhat raspy sigh, for the image of the two dancing in the rain would become engraved in his memory, as thoughts of young people in love tend to do. And to he who lacked what he so desired, the otherwise happy memory would remain bittersweet.