None of these characters are mine, but if they were, this is the sort of thing I'd do with them. Think Craig Bartlett will mind?
Rated T cause I felt like it, and some characters might just end up nude later. We'll see...
Almost as if it could feel the joy within Phoebe's apartment, the blizzard outside seemed to redouble it's efforts. Smiling to herself, Helga retrieved the wine bottles from the snow bank that once was her little friend's patio that Sid had stuffed them into. Taking a moment to look out at the frozen fury about her, she grinned and sang, "Oh, the weather outside is frightful..." and returned to the warmth of the company within.
Though never anticipating having six guests at any one time, Phoebe did remarkably well in setting the table in a manner befitting the spread Sid was preparing. With the addition of a card table, two folding chairs and her grandmother's antique tablecloth, she'd managed to set a fine table. Candles were brought out and lit with care, she urged all present to wash up for the meal that was to mark the end of some things, the beginning of others. Watching Phoebe with the eyes of a lover, Sid forelornly contemplated future meals, minus all but the two of them.
Returning from the bathroom, Arnold was immediately set upon by the smaller of the two loves in his life, who grabbed him like Beowulf in a amorous half nelson. As he hugged her, he happened to look up in time to catch sight of Helga, who just for a moment looked devastated. She had been deluding herself if she thought that she'd be able to stand the sight of her best friend in Arnold's arms for more than a day, he thought.
Forcing a little smile to her lips, she gave him a slight nod and retreated into the living room.
Disentangling himself from Sheena's attentions, Stinky sauntered over to the Arnold/Phoebe tangle of limbs and asked softly, "Miss Phoebe, Maht Ah bah-rrie Ahr-nol fer a min-ut? We gaht uh bit uh biz-ness ta tend to...".
After a moments thought she said, "Well, alright. But this is just a loan; I expect him back!"
Smiling, Hell's own said, "Ma'am, ah woodunt know whut ta doo wittim iffin Ah keptim." As Phoebe scurried off to flirt with Helga, Stinky's demeanor went stern as he motioned Arnold to join he and Sid in the kitchen.
Wiping his hands, Sid reached into his back pocket and drew out an envelope just as Stinky handed Arnold a check. "This is eight hundred bucks." said Sid motioning to the envelope as Arnold examined it's contents, "And the Stinkmeister added another grand. That should be enough to keep you afloat til you can get back on your feet."
Looking a tad peeved, Arnold made to return the gifts, but his erstwhile brothers were having none of it. "Dohn beh uh deng fool, Ahr-nol! Tehk the mun-ni!" said Stinky tersely.
"Yeah Bro. You got the shirt on your back and Phoebe, and that's it! Now's not the time for this. Besides, it's not like you haven't helps us out in the past. It's payback, pure and simple." smiled Sid, as Stinky nodded in agreement.
Fidgeting, Arnold finally slipped the money into his back pocket, "Okay, but I'm paying you guys back, just remember that!" They both just smiled and pretended not to hear.
Helga hoped she wasn't crying, but it was really hard to tell at the moment. Just the sight of Arnold and Phoebe had been like a blow to the head and she felt somewhat numb from the experience. Dear God in heaven, how could she have she thought she could blithely deal with several WEEKS of them together? Sheena could tell something was wrong as Helga settled onto the couch next to her, but seemed to be debating whether or not to say anything.
Before much could be said or asked, Phoebe trotted in and snuggled in next to Helga. Startled at first, she smiled and wrapped her arm around the little woman's shoulder. "I guess you feel pretty lucky to have both Arnold AND a girlfriend too, huh?" smiled Sheena.
Phoebe giggled, "I'd say my life was coming together nicely."
Helga just cast a thoughtful glance towards Sheena. "Which of us were you talking to, me or Phoebe?" she thought.
Clearing his throat, Stinky looked at Sid, "Ah need uh werhd with Ahr-nol. Whah don y'all go give Miss Phoebe uh nehk rub? Ah thank she rally nahd won." Looking confused by the suggestion, Sid none the less complied. Turning back to Arnold, Stinky's face was a mask of scrutiny. Finally, he leaned back against the counter edge and considered his brother in mischief.
"So, How y'all feelin'?"
Sighing loudly, Arnold said, "Better. It was a HUGE fuckup on my part to close myself off after the funeral, but... um, Helga brought me back from the brink."
Stinky nodded dispassionately, "An... Y'all red-dy tu git yer lahf behk on trek? Meh-be settle down sum?" Arnold had learned over the years to read Stinky's moods, and he quite obviously had something on his mind. A complete cipher to most, the big man was open and uncomplicated to he and Sid. Stinky had evidently made up his mind about this whole situation, and was merely fact checking with Arnold.
From within the living room, Phoebe let out a loud, sensual moan, followed by silence, then finally she called out, "Thank you Stinky!" with a musical lilt in her voice. Stinky smiled.
"Ahm geev'n tu beh-leev thet y'all two're a cup'l..." drawled the big man.
Looking downward, Arnold's mood went quiet, "Um, maybe. Well... no, not maybe. Not at all. I mean, I thought I was for a few hours, but right away it started feeling... odd. I love her, but... there's this whole weird thing with Helga. Phoebe really thinks she loves me, but I... I..." he faltered.
"Ahr sta'in troo ta Hahl-ga, raht?" said Stinky, finishing his thought. Arnold nodded. Pacing a little, he said softly, "Phoebe's just in love with the idea of being in love with me. At least, that's what Helga thinks at any rate."
Again, nothing but a nod from Stinky. "This is hardest on Helga. I mean, she dealing with it okay, but she doesn't want to hurt Phoebe, y'know? Neither of us do."
Motioning to the doorway, Arnold said, "I just wish there was some way to speed this up." And sighed as they headed out into the living room.
Grinning, Stinky whispered, "Ahm wurken ahn it."
All told, the meal surpassed all Sid's expectations. Phoebe sat herself at the head of the table, Arnold and Helga to her left and right. Sid next to Helga, with Stinky and Sheena at the far end completed the set. Glasses raised in toast to friendships eternal, to young love renewed and to the blizzard that postponed an especially difficult chemistry lab for Phoebe. Sid was praised to the heavens for a meal done to perfection, from salad to dessert, and for his steaks done exactly to everyone's liking.
Helga followed Arnold's suit with her steak rare and large, for after all, she was her father's daughter; the quintessential meat and potatoes girl. As they all enjoyed Sid's handy work, Phoebe was lost in her imaginary role of hostess, while Sid was lost in dreams of Phoebe in a thong. Helga and Arnold cast knowing, cautious looks at each other as they ate, and it seemed that only Stinky and Sheena were aware of what REALLY seemed to be going on at the table, and shot each other nervous glances every so often..
As if working from some predetermined script, Stinky kept up a steady flow of conversation at the table, few of the words spoken actually being his own. Sly and subtle, his seemingly innocent queries were designed to get the right people talking to each other. A request to Helga to recount an especially funny Arnold story from Middle School had both sparing and correcting each others versions of the tale, garnished with playful punches and laughter. A word to Phoebe, and a Homeric epic spilled forth about she and Sid lost at Dinoworld in their sophomore year, dredging up a few cherished almost were moments between the two, and a few deep looks between the two that more than made up for the chill outside. When the chemistry at the table had yielded the desired result, he merely sat back and enjoyed the proceedings, as Sheena favored him with a knowing smirk or two as she enjoyed her favorite sorcerer weave his little love spell.
Finally, the party began to breakup at around 8:30, all participants spent. "The city snowplow just passed so we gotta go while the gettins' good. You need a ride home Helga?" asked Sid, slipping into his coat. She shot a quick look over to Phoebe, who begged with her eyes.
Sighing, Helga said, "Um, yeah... lemme get my stuff together. You're all set on the plan for tomorrow morning, right?"
Buttoning his last button, Sid smiled, "I figured you might be having another slumber party, so I got these for you, football head." He said handing him the second shopping bag which containing toiletries and grinned, "Yeah, I got it, 9:30 sharp. We'll drop Phebes off at school if it's open, then we can run around. Where are we going anyway?"
Helga paused a minute to turn and look Arnold straight in the eye. "The boarding house..." she said, "We're headed back over to the Sunset Arms."
Arnold seemed to take a moment to register the words in his head, then just nodded knowingly to Helga. The proof. The demonstration that would lay to rest the mystery of Helga's behavior in regards to Arnold and Phoebe.
It was with no small amount of pride that Sid's car traversed the snow laden streets of Hillwood as if it was the middle of summer, for it's snow tires were rated for use in Antarctica. Helga in the passenger seat, he was glad that her mind seemed to be elsewhere, as he was too wrapped up in his own little drama to make pleasant conversation. All through dinner he thought he could see hints and traces of... something between him and Phoebe, but were they really there, or just wishful thinking on his part.
For her part, Helga was just as engrossed as Sid, but she found herself wrestling with an all together darker angel than her driver. Sighing inside, she was wracked with doubt. It was all coming together as she'd seem it, but yet somehow not entirely. At any other time she'd have thought that sleep would give her respite from this turmoil... but she knew better than that.
Eyes closed, Arnold lay on Phoebe's futon and listened to the sounds of her going through her usual evening rituals, though it suddenly occured to him that something was missing from the mix. She wasn't singing, as was her usual habit. In fact, the entire apartment seemed unnaturally quiet all of the sudden. Bolting out of the bedding, he looked around. You're here somewhere, he thought, I can feel you. Almost inpreceptively, he began to hear a distant clicking sound. Out into the hall, he strode forcefully into the living room and was greeted by something that he'd sadly come to expect.
Sitting casually at the dining room table sat the headless body of his grandfather, idly drumming his fingers on the polished wood surface, seemingly unconcerned by the loss of his hat holder. Sprawled in blood on the wall behind the 'Phil' thing were the words, "Innocence, Nobility, Righteousness, Investigative". Sighing, he turn to go back to the bedroom, running into Phoebe in the hall.
"Arnold, what are-" she began.
"Oh um, I... I just wanted to check on things before we called it a night. You, um... all set?" he asked quietly.
Not meeting his gaze, she nodded and slipped under the comforter on the futon. Killing the lights, he joined her, instantly feeling the tension between them.
Quietly, her voice drifted to him from the darkness around him.
"So... do you want to...?"
Sighing, he said softly, "Sweets, it's been kind of a busy day. Why don't we just catch up on some sleep?"
"Okay." she said, and he could almost feel the relief in her voice. Curling around the delicate beauty beside him, he thought, "Helga, you had better have some kind of show for me tomorrow."
To Be Continued