I, the author, make no claim as to ownership of "Hey Arnold" or any of its characters. For a full disclaimer, see Chapter 1.

Note: This chapter was co-written by Pointy Objects. She be cool like dat. Also, she makes no claims as to ownership of "Hey Arnold" or any of its characters.


IX
Midnite Blaze


For a moment, everything stopped. The low murmur of the old boarding house went silent, as if waiting for permission to speak again. Even the hustle and bustle of suburban Seattle seemed to take pause, if just for a moment, as to not disturb the tense situation. There was absolute silence, and to Helga, it was deafening.

That silence was soon broken by a soft weeping, which slowly built its way up to an all-out bawl. Helga knew that, clear concience or not, she had just destroyed the best friendship she ever had in one sudden blow. The guilt was getting to her. The silence was getting to her. Her stupidity was getting to her. She couldn't take it anymore; she had to get out. She opened the door and began to leave, but something was holding her back.

That something just happened to be Arnold's voice.

"Are you sure?"

Slowly, Helga turned back towards the bed - towards him - and nodded through her tears. A meager smile started to appear on her face, but she wouldn't allow it to take hold, so she bit her lip.

Arnold, meanwhile, was stunned. A heavily sighed "Wow," was all he could muster. The blow he had just taken knocked him into a daze, and he collapsed onto the bed. He looked at Helga with... was it... disappointment? Anger? Wonder? Maybe somewhere between the three. Or maybe he was just glazed over. He was struggling to make sense of the last 15 seconds. She knew the last thing he needed was more information to process, but the floodgates were open. She just couldn't stop now.

"Look, Arnold...," she begain as she sat beside him. "I... I know we're best friends. And honestly, I can live with being just your best friend. I really can. But... there's something here. I feel something with you... and I don't feel it with Feebs, and I sure as hell don't feel it with Gerald... But it's not just different, it's... deeper... y'know? Hell, why would you know? Idon't even know, it's just... I don't know..."

"I think I do..." uttered Arnold. "I think I do... I mean, look..." he began as the two finally brought themselves to look at each other. "Helga, you're... an amazing woman... I mean... you're the best friend a guy could ask for..."

"And you wouldn't want to do anything that would jeopardize our valuable friendship," Helga said as if it was already committed to memory.

"Yeah," Arnold muttered. A look of agony began to cross her face and the beginnings of tears began to form in her eyes. For her, the rejection was like being sentenced to death by firing squad; She knew what was coming and when, but in the end, it still hurt all the same.

"...But,"

Suddenly, her eyes widened. "...But?"

"...But... I just have this feeling..."

Suddenly, Helga's face went from feigned calmness to panic, as if she were in pain. Turning her back on Arnold, she grabbed at her right hip, struggling to relieve whatever had painted her face this fusion of agony and shock.

Arnold had obviously taken notice of her expression and decided this was a good opportunity to address the issue, without really addressing the issue. "Look, I know this is probably difficult for you-"

"Nuuuuuughhhhhh… It's not that… I'm…. vibrating," Helga said, still grasping at her side.

Arnold on the other hand wasn't sure if he'd heard her right. "Um, excuse me?"

"I swear, I don't know why I even keep this thing on…" she said, snatching a thin, metallic pager from her right hip and stared at the small screen in apparent frustration. "Wunderbar…" Helga fumed, shoving the annoying device back on her hip.

"Wonder Bra?" Arnold asked, slightly baffled by the shift in conversation. One minute they were discussing her feelings for him, and the next, she'd abruptly brought up women's underwear.

"German for 'Wonderful,'" she said, still avoiding his face, instead focusing on adjusting her beeper clip. "I have to go," she muttered, heading for the door.

"Wait, hold on…" Arnold urged. "I could've sworn we were in the middle of something important."

"O-C-H, M-D" she said, reciting her text message and shrugging her shoulders, as if helpless in the dilemma. She noted the puzzled look on Arnold's face and felt the need to clarify for the second time. "Means, 'Olga's Coming Home; Make Dinner."

"Helga…" Arnold sighed, knowing the matter would have to be tackled sometime in the near future, and now was looking like the best (and most convenient) time.

"I know, I know… it's ridiculous. The guy runs an electronics store for 20 years, and won't even pony up the dough to pay for a cell phone bill. Sad."

"Helga, you know what I mean."

"Yeah, I know what you mean." Helga retorted, her voice tinged with sarcasm.

"Then why are you avoiding it?" he asked.

"Because…" she began, turning back towards Arnold while taking in a deep breath, "you don't want to think about this right now, and I don't want to think about this right now. Am I correct?" she asked, her diction growing as she spoke.

Arnold certainly didn't want to admit it. He was already uncomfortable with the current situation, what with Helga confessing her… feelings for him. And after her evident disappointment in his "less than enthusiastic" reply - intentional or not - the last thing he wanted to do was ponder the predicament any more than he had to.

"Mmmmnnnnooooot really..." he murmured.

"And you don't want to talk about it either, do you?" she asked, to some extent stretching her good fortune.

"No, but I-"

"And I sure as hell don't wanna talk about it, so this is what we're gonna do. I'm gonna go home, you're going to stay here, and we're going to go about our business as usual. You're going to finish watching the game and go to bed or whatever. And I'm going to go home and stay up to God knows how late making a dinner I don't want to eat for a bunch of people I don't even-" he kissed her.

It was sudden. It was sloppy. It was passionate. It was over.

Before Helga could realize what was happening and respond in some way, the kiss ended. Arnold pulled away, breathing heavily. For what seemed like an eternity, all they could do was look into each others' eyes. Had Arnold's gaze pulled away slightly, he would've gotten a full view of Helga's lips starting - ever so slowly - to curl into a smile. Likewise, had Helga's gaze pulled away slightly, she would've seen Arnold's lips begin to pull apart as he started to say something.

"...I shouldn't have done that..."

With those five words, Helga was violently shaken from her dreamlike state. Her eyes - the same ones that were filled with incomperable joy mere moments ago - now glazed over in a state of shock. A mere five seconds ago, she would've died a happy woman. Now, she just wanted to die. The one person who she thought would never hurt her, did.

"I'm sorry," he pleaded almost immediately. He was stumbling over his words, and the harder he tried to speak, the worse it became. "I'm sorry," he said again. It was almost the only thing he could say. "I didn't mean-"

"Don't," Helga replied coldly. The damage had been done. There was nothing in her mind that would make it any better, but that sure didn't stop Arnold from trying.

"Helga, I'm sorry. I-"

"Stop," she said with bone-chilling authority. "There's not a damn thing you could say that-"

"It came out wrong!"

Helga's eyes widened in shock. "Well, how the fuck was it supposed to come out?" she screamed as she shot up from the bed. If there was anyone in the building that wasn't aware of the commotion going on in the attic, there was no doubt now, as Helga's voice carried more fire and brimstone than Hell itself.

"I... I don't know... I'm sorry," Arnold sighed.

"I don't know about you, but if the person you've secretly loved for the past few years kisses you out of nowhere, the last thing you wanna hear them say is "I shouldn't have done that!"

"I'm sorry" he uttered for what felt like the millionth time.

"What are you sorry for?" Helga screamed. "That you don't love me?"

"It's not that," he replied with as much authority as he could muster.

"Oh, so you do love me."

"I..." Arnold froze.

"Oh, c'mon, say it!"

"I... I don't know!" he finally cried.

"Wrong answer!" screamed Helga as she began to storm towards the door. A hand on her arm was the only thing that stopped her.

"Helga!" he pleaded. "What do you want me to say?"

"Arnold, just go ahead and say it!" she demanded through the tears that started to form in her eyes. "You don't love me."

"No! I mean, Yes! I mean..." Arnold threw his hands up in defeat. "Dammit, Helgs, I don't know!"

"So what the hell does that mean?" she said, exasperated.

"It means..." Quickly, Arnold quelled his anger - no, frustration. He took a deep breath and continued. "It means that this is what we're gonna do. You're going to go home, make dinner for your family, and go to bed. I'm going to stay here, watch the game, and go to bed. In three weeks, we'll go to prom, and we'll have a great time."

"Well that sounds all well and good," Helga began, sounding much softer than she had mere moments ago. "But what happens between now and then?"

Arnold reached over and took Helga's hands into his own as she joined him in sitting on the bed. "Tonight, I'm gonna try and figure out what the hell's going on in my head, and what I want to do about it. Tomorrow..." He paused to take a deep breath. "We're gonna talk. A lot. And I'm gonna listen. A lot. And whatever we decide to do... well, we'll do it."

"It's not always that easy, ya' know."

"Helgs," he assured, "we'll do it."

There it was; that tone of voice that was never harsh but always firm; Never cocky but always sure; Never naive but always optimistic. The "Arnold Tone." No matter how difficult - nay, impossible - the task was, all he had to do was tell her that all would be right with the world, and by golly, all would be right with the world. He would make it so.

Helga started to smile again, but she caught herself and killed the impulse. She looked at her watch, hoping she could think of some excuse to leave before remembering that she already had one. "Well, I gotta go make that dinner..." she said. Her tone was that of someone trying to leave, but her body made no such motion.

"Yeah, that dinner..."

There was another awkward silence that fell over the room. It was a few moments before Helga again broke it.

"There really isn't a way for me to leave gracefully, is there?" she asked as a hint of a sheepish grin began to cross her face.

"Not really," Arnold replied, nervously returning the smile.

"Well then..." Helga replied as she stood. She didn't know how to finish that sentence, so she decided not to. Instead, she began to make her way towards the door. As she placed her hand on the doorknob, she was (once again) frozed in her tracks by Arnold's voice.

"I love-" he started before bighting his lip.

He couldn't be saying what she thought he was saying, could he? She started to turn back towards Arnold, but her body wouldn't allow her to complete the motion. It was as if her body thought that Arnold's words were part of a dream, and turning around would have awaken both of them. No, she would take the last few moments as fantasy and be happy with it.

But Arnold did, in fact, say, "I love-" and was frozen himself. As awkward as the last ten minutes (was it only ten minutes? It felt like two hours!) had been, he nearly raised the awkward level tenfold. What he almost said was bad enough, but the silence that had fallen over the room as he tried to figure out what to say was worse. He needed to say something - God, anything - to put an end to this silence. Suddenly, Arnold said the first somewhat-sensible thing that came to mind.

"...chicken," he stuttered. At that, Helga's face should have shown disappointment; Well, it did, slightly, but Arnold never saw it. As she turned back towards him, she couldn't help raising an eyebrow in confusion at Arnold.

Did I just say... Chicken!

"You know," he desperately started again, "Chicken! ...for dinner!"

Oh my god, I did say chicken.

Twice!

"Cause if you needed... any ideas, ya know... for your dinner, I mean..."

Abort! Abort! Get outta there!

"Well... chicken is... good. For dinner."

Smooth move, X-Lax. Smooth move.

After a moment, Helga lowered her eyebrow and her features softened into a smile. Not a big one, but a gentle, genuine one. "Thanks, Arnold," she said. "I love chicken, too." With that, she made her way out of his room and towards the main hallway.

Once he heard Helga close the front door, Arnold fell back onto his bed. He layed with his hands behind his head, staring at the stars through his skylight, as if they held some sort of answer for what the hell had just happened over the last ten minutes. Moments later, he turned back to the TV, hoping he'd find something to distract him for a little while.

No such luck. The Lakers were now leading the Sonics by 27, and there were still ten minutes left in the first half. Arnold turned his attention back to the stars. The Sonics' problems were the last thing on his mind at this point. He needed to figure out how he felt for Helga. He needed to figure out what their prom date really meant.

And he needed to figure out why the hell he had such a sudden craving for chicken.


First things first; everyone turn to Pointy Objects and bow at her awesomeness. No, seriously, step away from the computer, turn towards Maryland, and do the whole "We're not worthy" bowing thing. I'll be here when you get back.

Now that the respect has been paid, I'll give her the mic so she can say a few words.

First of all, everyone turn towards...dude, where do you live anyway? Who cares, turn towards all cardinal directions and bow obediently just so you don't miss him. I'm VERY glad that I was able to help with this chapter, it was as much fun to help with as it is to read. So thanks to TheBaldOneMpls, and anyone reading this. And BTW, if any of you guys get the chance to help with a story, take it IMMEDIATELY (Did I spell that right? Again, who cares...). Don't think that you can't or that your idea won't be good enough. The author evidently thought something about your work was good enough to ask for a contribution. And if they don't like it and bash you, screw them, use it for your own story and laugh at their expense when they get ZERO reviews and you get 4,987! And if they like it, even better! So thanks again to TheBaldOneMpls! That's all...turn the camera off...I'm serious, dude. Turn it off before I come over there! TURN IT OFF...what? It's off? Dude, I'm sorry. No really, I wasn't...Dude, why are you calling the cops? I wasn't really gonna shove it up...look, just put the phone down, okay? I'll take you to Starbucks, we can have coffee, talk this out...no really. Put the phone down or I WILL...oh you wanna run? You wanna run from ME? COME BACK HERE...

Ummm... Pointy Objects, everybody! Awkward silence Well, first things second, thank you to everyone who's enjoyed the story so far. To everyone who's reviewed my story, thanks again. The fact that so many people are getting some enjoyment out of my work makes me feel awesome (not to mention makes my ego feel great... not that I have an ego or anything. Yeah. No ego here.).

You'll notice with the kissing scene in this chapter and the confession at the end of the last chapter that I'm taking some liberties with the rules of writing. I guess it's because there are certain parts of the story that I want you to see exactly as I see them. Like the kiss in this chapter; I wanted it to come out of nowhere, catching you (and Helga) off guard. I hope it's not confusing.

As of now, I'm 21 Or, as everybody in the hood (read: nobody in the hood) calls it, deuce-one. Consider this my birthday present to you. I expect Futurama DVDs in return. (Ecks-Dee) I promise, chapter 10 will be funny. Or, at least, funnier than this one. Till then, peace.