Preface: Actually, this is my first work of fanfiction ever. I just don't want to publish before because the issue I'm tackling in this fanfic is controversial to some, since it's a story about school shootings and all. As all of you may have known, Curly is insane and he fits perfectly in the role as the antagonist of this story. This chapter is served as a warm up and to establish the characters as teenagers before the real gritty chapters much later after this. I will rate this PG-13 for now.


Legal junk: I don't own Hey Arnold, but Nickelodeon does and Mr. Craig Bartlett created it. But this fic belongs to me. Clear? Good.

Chapter 1: Nothing much had changed since fourth grade.

"Give daddy some sugar!"

"Aughhh!!"

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"That is, if you hadn't completely fall madly in love with me by then!"

"Ugh, as IF!"

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"Rhonda, doll. Wanna dance with me?"

"Uh, no. Absolutely not."

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"Curly, there is no way I'm wearing that shirt... I can't believe I'm wearing this shirt!"

"As you can see people, we are a couple, and we love each other, isn't it right my sweet?"

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"Rhonda my love, babe, wanna cuddle?"

"Eww, get away from me you freak!"

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"It's worth a thousand 'I love you's!"

"My life... is over!"

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"So how about giving me your lock of hair for me to keep under my pillow?"

"UGH! That's unbelievably gross!!"

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And those were just a slice of what Curly said and did to Rhonda. Those horrible images (to her) that held inside her mind had practically haunted her ever since the fourth grade. She couldn't understand why the heck he loves her so much even though she always acted bitterly towards him. It was nighttime just a few minutes after 8:30 pm and Rhonda and Nadine were on the phone having their usual talk. She had always complained and whined to her about Curly, but always with an open ears and an open mind, Nadine let Rhonda spew her feelings to her, although it can get annoying after a quite while.

"Auughhhhh! I swear Nadine! That kid is driving me crazy!!" Rhonda screamed through the phone while pacing in her room back and forth.

She had expected this, "Have you just... you know... talk to him how you feel?" Nadine replied, it was the same reply that she gave to her before over and over. She was sitting on her bed reading a copy of a National Geographic magazine.

"That is one lame advice, Nadine. Anyway, I did tried to, but he won't listen, and like, before you ask, I tried to ignore him, scowled and shove him away but it didn't work either. The last thing on my mind is like, to slap some restraining order on him but I feel that's a little bit too drastic, even for me. I mean, could he be more annoying? Like, tell me Nadine; will our names eventually become synonymous? I shudder to think the day we would become a couple together!"

"You know Rhonda, come to think of it; I think you do like him."

"WHAT?! As if! I can't believe this! Like, are you even listening to me Nadine?! I hate him!! Which part of 'hate' don't you understand?! What makes you feel that I have 'feelings' or, or adoring or even l-l-love that idiot?!" she opposed irately.

"Well, even if you don't like him, you always talk about him non-stop to me, and that's the only guy you've been talking about most often since the third grade!" Nonchalantly Nadine replied.

"OH! That is so unfair Nadine!"

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All of the gang of the old PS 118 was now studying in the same high school and although not everyone had noticed it, it was clear; nothing had changed much since fourth grade. Arnold and Gerald were still the best of friends, so were Helga and Phoebe, and Rhonda and Nadine. Sid, Stinky and Harold were still the troublemakers of the group, Eugene and Sheena were still the geeks of the class, Lorenzo the humble friendly yuppie, Curly the psychopath, Brainy still had a thing for Helga, and Lila, was still Miss Perfect. Fortunately in spite of their high school cliques and different class schedules, they still help around and hang out with each other. No stupid high school stereotype will break their bond apart.

Arnold now ditched the sweater and donning a red-orange-y flannel shirt to the likes that he wore in grade school and wearing a pair of blue-ish cargo pants. The blue baseball cap was still there, but a new one bought by his grandfather. Gerald wore a red sweater, which sometime ago Phoebe commented that he looked dashing in that attire, and a pair of dark blue pants, but his hair was now short like Jamie O's and he kept a thin beard around the chin area. Both of them were sitting at the front row in the classroom, with the teacher giving a new project assignment.

"Class, there's a few more minutes before the bell rings, so I'm gonna make it short. I want all of you to prepare a twenty page biology report about the subdivisions and branches of it, like zoology, botany and the likes. Isn't it exciting? And guess what? I'm allowing you to choose freely and anything that you like. Remember: choose only one, do it and hand it over to me when it's finished."

"Anything?" a student raised her hand and asked the teacher.

"Yes – and don't interrupt. Dateline is three weeks from today. In that report of yours you must explain in detail what the selected field actually does; the history of the said field, some samples of their work, and study what they usually study. And I want it to be in academic writing format, not an English essay. Just a reminder for some of you out there... and finally as usual, I want all of you to do it in a group of four, alright? Are you munchkins crystal about this? And are there any questions, suggestions, crude comments, or snide remarks? Don't think so."

The bell rang.

"Alright, there goes the bell. Remember class, three weeks from now I want that report on my desk! Now get outta my classroom!" And the class dispersed. As Arnold and Gerald were packing their books in their bag, Rhonda and Nadine walked over to them, seemed the girls had something on their minds.

"Hey, Arnold, Gerald," greeted Rhonda, with a playful flirt. She was the chicest and the one of the most popular girl in school, always wearing expensive but casual designer clothes, and she's definitely had matured over the years because she does not brag as much as she did in grade school, much to everyone's delight. If it wasn't for Nadine, she would've become one of those stereotypical snotty, snobbish yuppies who tend to stick their noses up so high by now. Nadine on the other hand, had always wearing her unbranded clothes, pretty much like when she was in the fourth grade, although Rhonda had told her time and again that she should buy branded ones. The braids were still there, but they no longer defy gravity, because she tied her braids together, becoming a ponytail.

"Well, hellooo there beautifuls," Gerald replied suavely.

"Me and Rhonda got to thinking, since you guys did a bug-cum-fashion project with us in grade school..." said Nadine, she was hugging her books to her chest.

"You're not suggesting that we have to wear those bug costumes again, are you?" Arnold replied worriedly.

Nadine giggled softly, "He, he. Well, as much as we want to, we won't. We feel that us and you guys have this perfect interaction thing going on each and every time we do a school assignment together, so we thought you guys are the most qualified partners for us."

"So like, what do you guys think?" Rhonda interjected.

Gerald looked at Arnold and saw him gave him an approval look. "Sure, we're cool." he replied nonchalantly.

"Okay..." Arnold nodded, "what kind of science field are we talking about here?"

"Entomology. Bugs, insects, et cetera."

"A report about bugs? And Rhonda accepted this suggestion of yours, Nadine?" Arnold replied shockingly. "Suffice it to say that I am..." he paused for a dramatic effect, with his left hand placed on his heart, "absolutely shocked..." he said sarcastically in a good-natured way.

"Rhonda, I thought you hated bugs." Gerald replied in curiosity.

"Well, like I still am! Anyway, have to agree with her since, like I have a made a deal with her sometime ago." She informed, "I don't want to talk about it..." she continued, mumbling.

"A bug report... what do you have to say about it Gerald?"

He grinned at Arnold, "I say we go for it."

"Hellooo my sweet!" somebody shouted affectionately suddenly from afar.

"Oh my God!" Rhonda smacked her forehead. "Like, not him again... Curly..." she shuddered in peeve. It's the psychopath Curly, still wearing those dorky red glasses, his hair was messy, he had a growth spurt some two years ago and zits littered his face. His shirt did not changed, except now he was wearing pants instead of shorts.

"Would you like to join my group, my darling? We could do a lot of fun stuff together..."he said in a flowery voice.

"Eww, no. Besides, I like, already have a group; I'm with Nadine, Arnold and Gerald."

"Oh... but could you please reconsider it my love?" Curly pleaded.

"No." she answered coldly.

"Please, please, oh pretty please baby? With sugar on top?" he pleaded once more, this time kneeling theatrically.

"Like, for the last time Curly: NO!!"

"Oh well. At least I tried." The disappointed Curly uttered nonchalantly, as he stood up and brushing his pants. "Alas, I couldn't do anything now but to rejoin back with my group. I shall depart now, my dearest!" he said, and he tried to grab Rhonda's hand to kiss it. His lips and her hand met.

"Eww! Will you please go away, you creepy little freak?!" she yelled and yanked her hand back, disgusted by Curly's behavior.

"Yes, pumpkin. AHAHAHAHAHA!" he then ran away from them with his hands high in the air, cackling maniacally.

"Heh, some people just won't change no matter how much you wanted them to. Isn't it right Rhonda?" chuckled Arnold.

"Yeah, and unfortunately for me, he still likes me." She said, examining her hand oozing with Curly's drool. "Ugh... Eww... I'm going to the bathroom and like, clean this disgusting slime up." She said as she turned around and walked off to the bathroom while still looking at them.

"Okay, Rhonda. See you at the bus stop." Gerald said while waving at her, and she waved back. Gerald and Nadine headed off to the stop while Arnold went to the bicycle stand.

"Man Nadine, you're one incredible girl. How do you put up with her valley girl accent ?" Gerald asked her as they walked to the bus stop.

"Meh, it's a gift." she replied it short.

After he unlocked his bike, Arnold cycled to the bus stop to accompany Gerald and Nadine for a while before the bus arrives. The bus stop itself was crowded. Not in sense of being very packed, just a handful of people that would be enough to fill one third of the bus. He got off and leaned his bike onto a signboard and joined them.

Everyone there minded their own business, doing idle things like gossiping, listening to music, playing a videogame, text messaging to each other, reading a book, and just plain standing around doing nothing but wait. As they wait for Rhonda to arrive, the three people were chatting amongst themselves covering almost every subject they can think of, from school gossip to the project they're doing. Nadine had heard some rumors a couple of weeks ago that Arnold may have to move away from the city. Thinking this was the perfect opportunity to ask him, she decided to clarify the rumor to herself.

"Say Arnold, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, shoot."

"Well, uh... I couldn't help but to hear that you're moving away with your parents in six months from now; is it true?"

Arnold gave her a pause, and looked down, answering in a melancholic voice, "I don't know. Mom, dad and I don't have a unanimous answer to that. Mom saw a robbery a few weeks ago and she was kinda freaked out by it. Coincidentally, she got a job offer at the West Coast too, so she really wanted to move there after she heard that the crime rate there is much lower than here. But my dad is happy with his job here and I like living in this city. It's... tough to compromise. I... I really don't want to talk about it Nadine. I'm sorry."

Nadine felt guilty listening to the answer that Arnold just gave to her. She gazed blankly at the sidewalk and wondered why she asked such an inconsiderate question to Arnold, "I'm sorry if my question hurt your feelings, Arnold. It was just not my intention to make you feel bad," she apologized with a saddened tone.

"No apologies necessary, Nadine. It's okay, I know you meant well." He said with a warm smile. Nadine replied the smile back, and intentionally averted the glum conversation into a more direct, casual one.

"New bike?" she pointed at Arnold's shiny new earth-colored mountain bike, "Of all things to talk about..." Nadine thought with disbelief.

"Heh, yeah. My dad bought it yesterday for me so I could use it to school and the boarding house to help Grandma and Grandpa out. I guess I might as well try it out today, considering its Monday and all."

"That's cool. That's very thoughtful of your father." She replied.

"Yeah, he sure is." Arnold gave a soft smile. "Wanted a car though, but it's a pipe dream, I mean, I just begun Driver's Ed this semester for crying out loud. But hey, one can drive if one doesn't know..." kinda out of character for Arnold to say something as juvenile as that.

"You're bold kid for ever bringing that bicycle to school, man."

"Hey... that's my line, Nadine." Gerald thought.

"Ah, it's just for one day. After this, I'll just have to cover my head in shame with my hooded sweater." Arnold replied jokingly. "Kinda surprised that it survived the day, though..."

"So, Nadine," Gerald finally had the space to speak, "I couldn't help but to notice that best friend of yours is in dilemma with that boy, Curly. Why won't you help her out or something? Of course, I'm offering my sincerest apologies, if it's none of my business."

"It's okay Gerald. I want to talk about it to someone myself, and since both of you have my trust, I'm going to share you with this secret. She's... how should I put this... about to blow up. She can't stand Curly anymore. She would always talk about him to me when we were on the phone, like usually how much she despised her and stuff. She tried everything, from ignoring him, talking to him and shoving him away but he just wouldn't listen. Heck, once she even considered of putting a restraining order! One time I went to her room, I saw her took her anger out by punching and kicking a stuffed bear screaming 'Shut up, Curly! Shut up Shut up Shut up!!' And the saddest part is she has been doing that since the fifth grade. I'm worried about her you guys; I feel like... she's going to explode any day soon, like Ned Flanders in that one Simpsons episode." She told, very concerned about her best friend.

Both of the boys widened their eyes in shock when hearing it. Thankfully, people around them did not hear any of the secret that Nadine just confided.

She slapped her hand over her mouth. "Oh God, I said too much..." she gasped. "Please, promise me you two, you guys won't tell a soul about her problem."

"Y-yeah... we won't..." Arnold said, still in shock. He and Gerald took a quick glance at each other, and both of them lost on words to say anything back. Arnold then leaned his body back against a pole, sighing heavily with his head facing upwards to the sky and crossed his arms behind his head. "Two psychopaths... they're meant for each other." He thought. He then turned his head at the main school building, and noticed someone coming at them.

"Hey, Rhonda's here." And he heard a vehicle coming, "and so is the bus. What a strange coincidence." The bus stopped by the curb and everyone at the stop formed a line, except for Arnold who went over to his bike. Rhonda and Nadine were behind Helga who was waiting impatiently for the old lady in front of her to climb the absurdly steep bus stairs. Behind Rhonda was Gerald, gazing dreamily at Phoebe who was already inside the bus. Arnold pushed the bike forward, but unfortunately the rear wheel ran over Helga's left feet, and she squealed loudly.

Phoebe was the most petite among the girls, made a ponytail and although she had grown taller but she was still the shortest amongst the girls. Apparently, her taste in fashion hadn't changed much since fourth grade. She was also the brightest among the gang, because she puts the school she represented in the academic map. What can we say about Helga? She still 'hated' the football headed boy as ever, but not as fanatically like in grade school. The pink bow that was so synonymous to her was placed neatly on her favorite binder, the pigtails were all gone and got replaced by a short chin lenght hairdo and she now wore cheap black colored jeans and shirt that similar in color to that of when she was in the fourth grade.

"Watch where you're going, dumbass!" she yelled angrily to him, showing her shaking fist. (The infamous Ol' Betsy!)

"I'm sorry Helga, I wasn't looking." he replied back at her in regret as he watches her go onboard the bus.

"I'm sorry Helga, I wasn't looking!" Helga imitated snidely, "Sheesh! Do me a favor next time football head, look before you go somewhere and make it a habit!"

"Jeez, come on Helga, it was just an honest mistake, nothing to get freaked out about."

"No..." she answered back sarcastically, "the only mistake I see around here is you, because you're the load your mom should've swallowed, football head!" she then continued her way into the bus and sat next to Phoebe.

"No offence Arnold, but that insult: was her best yet," Nadine said with a teasing smile.

"Yeah, and I am so glad that you liked it." He replied sarcastically.

"Oh come on, you know she was just teasing around." Rhonda said defending her. "Hey, come to think of it, you are right - some people just won't change no matter how much you wanted them to. Isn't it right Arnold?" Rhonda added while climbing onboard.

"Yeah, and unfortunately for me, she still hates me." A brief sigh from him, "Well, see you guys later. Let me know when you guys are ready to do the project," he said nonchalantly as he climbs his bike, and cycles off to his home. "Helga... when will are you going to change?"

"Young lady, I'm on a tight schedule here, so please don't hold up the bus," the driver gave a warning. "Oh, sorry," she apologized. She and Nadine then took and empty seat while Gerald showed the driver his bus pass and took an empty seat. The bus was now in motion, chugging away to the next destination. To fill their time while on the bus, Nadine and Rhonda exchanged some idle chat.

"Say Nadine, what're you doing after this?"

"I dunno, nothing maybe. Why?"

"Good, because yesterday when I was, like shopping at the mall and stuff, I saw this cool dress that is so you like, if you wear it, so like, I thought I'd want to show it to you because, what are you wearing now is... how should I put it, no offence but eww."

"Rhonda, not again..." Nadine said with a disappointed sigh, "We've been over this a hundred times already. This is always the way I wear, and nobody, even you is going to make me change my mind."

"C'mon, you like, should at least change your style once in a while. You could start with The GRAP, Kalvin-Clein, Caprini, Billabang... heck, I'll even buy one for you!"

"I dunno, I'm not very fond of big brand corporate establishments. They oppress their factory workers in third-world countries so they could garner more profits for themselves. It's wrong, you know."

"So you're like, saying that you'd prefer wearing that grey-market outlet mall discount rather than the brands I mentioned?"

"To make it short, yeah. I prefer cheap and comfortable rather than brand popularity." She said affirmatively.

Rhonda couldn't believe it, as she sighed in disappointment, "Like, what am I going to do with you Nadine? Where's your fashion awareness? Still, I won't give up on you. Sooner or later, you'll see how important fashion is to the modern world and to an individual." One thing about Rhonda, she doesn't give up easily.

"I still don't understand why you want to change me to something I don't want to be, Rhonda. Heck, I even don't understand why you still want to hangout with a geeky nature girl like me. I mean, don't you have your own cliques to hang around with, like the popular girls or something?"

"No Nadine, don't take it wrong. First and foremost, I'm already one of them, and they were like, told me that they already knew that you're so stubborn about your style. So like, I told them that I could change you one way or another since I consider it as a challenge and all, nothing else. Secondly, unlike them, I like to diversify my friends a little bit. And finally, you're like, my best friend since forever, Nadine. I'm not going to abandon you just because you're different from me."

And with that, Nadine smiled at her, and knew that she would never, ever ditch her for anything else in the world. "Well... if it means that much to you, I guess a little peek at it wouldn't hurt..." she said with a soft smile.

"Now that's the spirit, honey!" Rhonda exclaimed excitedly.

Indeed it truly was. Nothing had changed much since the fourth grade.


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