Author's notes:
Hello everyone. Wow…Hey Arnold. This is the show that first brought me to Fanfiction over 5 years ago. I've finally decided to attempt to write something for it. So…be gentle. I'm not sure if this is going to be just one chapter or a bunch of one-shots. I guess we'll just see how this one goes over --'

Dislaimer I don't own Hey Arnold. sadface

"Some people want it all, but I don't want nothing at all if it ain't you baby."- Alicia Keys

Always Be

You watch him from across the room with a look of disinterest on your face. He's conversing with a lovely auburn haired girl over glasses of punch. You scowl. You're sick of watching him fawn over a girl who's stayed the same since 4th grade. Not that you've changed.

Your own hypocrisy begins to nag at you.

You set your punch glass down on the table and stumble over to the sliding glass door that leads to the balcony. You move sluggishly and begin to doubt the innocence of the pink liquid you'd just been drinking. As you get to the door, you take one last look around the populated room.

Music is blaring from speakers that you can't see and people are dancing in time to it. There's a large table filled with chips, dip, 'punch,' and various other party foods. You snort as you see a broken vase on the floor. You're sure that later, a certain princess will blow her lid over it. Your gaze slowly crawls back to the tawny haired boy smiling at the girl's "ever so funny" story.

Your face twists into a scowl.

You decide that you're sick of wishing and hoping. You'd even acted once. That fateful day atop the FTI building. But he had simply, although nicely, brushed you off. So, you turn and walk out onto the porch, shutting the sliding glass door behind you. It's cold out, but you hardly notice. You think you would've noticed if you weren't so upset. But you are, so you don't.

You totter over to a gleaming white lawn chair and throw yourself into it. The beautiful pink dress you bought to impress him is ripped, but you're beyond caring now. It didn't fit you right anyways. Not in the literal sense. More in the sense of trying to make a rectangle fit into a square. Everything you'd done over the years had ultimately resulted in nothing. You're in high school now and nothing has really changed. He never looks your way. He never smiles for you. He never loves you.

You start to cry.

You blame it on the alcohol you are now certain was in the punch, but you secretly know better. You feel like you're crumbling in on yourself, and it's an alien feeling. Not a Pataki feeling. You're an expert at holding in emotions. You are shocked when the doors open. Shocked and startled and angry. Who would dare to interrupt your pity party?!... That thought sobers you quickly.


You look up and fix the intruder with the angriest scowl you can manage. You prepare to bite out a "What?!," but instantly shut your mouth when you notice who the intruder is.

It's him.

"Did you need something?" you say, with little venom. It's all you can summon up.

He looks at you with a confused expression. He sees the contradiction of your angry tone to the tears that have streaked down your face. His confusion turns to concern. Things really haven't changed.

"No…I was just…well…I saw you come out and you looked upset. I was just…"

"I'm fine," you say lamely, cutting him off. "You can go back inside. I just needed some fresh air." You berate yourself for turning him away, but why break tradition now? Being petty is what you excel at, you think bitterly.

"Actually, I wanted some air too. Is it me, or is that punch a little…off?" He laughs nervously. You know he really didn't want any fresh air. He's humoring you, and you hate it. You chuckle quietly back, and again, blame it on the alcohol. You're actually glad now for the excuse.

He pulls another lawn chair from around the table and sits down in it with his elbows on his knees. He's not the short little boy you pulverized constantly anymore. It makes you want to cry again. Where had all the time gone? He asks again, "Helga, are you sure you're alright?"

"I don't know," you breathe out. You're terrified of your weakness. You're sure he knows something is wrong now. For you to say anything other than something rude is an obvious sign of that.

You can't look into his eyes. You know if you do, you'll lose everything you've worked so hard for. All those years of keeping your secret, wasted. Even still, you can picture them. His eyes. They're beautiful and green and full of compassion. You love his eyes. You're envious of his beauty, both inner and outer. And of Hers.

He puts one hand gently over your own balled up ones. You hadn't realized you were shaking. You write it off to the cold that you can't really feel. He squeezes gently.

You look up and begin to cry. Again.

You can't see much with your face in your hands and your make up running into your eyes, but you know he's doing his best to comfort you. He hugs you, and you cry harder as you remember how great he is at giving out hugs and comfort. No one else had ever cared enough about you to do anything remotely similar. He doesn't interrupt you. He lets you cry, and you're thankful for it.

"Better?" He asks with a small grin.

You suddenly are laughing. Loudly. He joins you, probably just grateful for the ceasing of the tears.

"Yes," you laugh out.

You realize that he's not going to ask what prompted the outburst. You smile. He always knew what was right.

Suddenly, you are struck with a serious, weighty feeling. Your smile slowly fades. You want to kiss him and tell him everything. You want to bare your soul to this boy who's always cared for you. You want to explain all the incidents and make clear all of your actions over the past decade. You've decided not to break traditions. But, you also decide that maybe making some new ones couldn't hurt.

You smile again. Another alien feeling. He smiles back.

"Thank you," you say softly. "You…this meant a lot to me. I'm glad you decided to get some fresh air." You laugh slightly.

He laughs before saying, "Me too. You know, why don't I walk you home?"

"Home? Are you kidding me? I'm here to have a kickass senior party. Care to join me, Hairboy?" You feel light and airy. You worry slightly about the nickname, but quickly forget about it as you notice his hand still on your shoulder.

His look of astonishment vanishes as quickly as it came. He stands up and helps you out of the plastic lawn chair. Now, you can't stop smiling. Warmth seeps into your bones as you re-enter the house. You see Her talking to Stinky, and a pretty raven-haired girl screeching about a broken vase.

"Let's dance!" You scream happily over the music.

You want to. But only with him.

"Alright," he says. He smiles and you lose track of the hours.

You grab your coat and start to head for the door. Everyone is laughing and smiling and waving goodbye, and you're shocked to realize that you are included. But, you've saved the best for last.

"So…thanks again. For the err…dances and other stuff," you say awkwardly. You're not used to showing gratitude.

"Anytime, Helga. See you tomorrow in English?"

You pause. Things will be different tomorrow and you're scared. He sees you hesitate and smiles sweetly.

"Of course, Football-head," you say, mirroring the affection on his face.

You part ways, still smiling.

You walk down lighted streets and swing your arms uncharacteristically.

The night had turned in your favor and you want to shout it to the skies. You feel light and bubbly and incredible. This time you don't blame it on the alcohol. You reach your house and unlock the door. As you step inside, you don't feel as beaten as you usually do. Somebody cares. The only somebody in the world that matters to you. His opinion is law in your world. To quote the cliché, you really would jump off a bridge if he wished it.

You jump the stairs to your room, even in your dress. Nothing can slow you down at the moment. You change into your sleep attire and slip into your bed. You can see the stars through your window and you're awed at their beauty. But, you know they would dull in comparison to him. He's radiant. As you slip into sleep, you let a smile grace your face. All those years of wishing and hoping weren't wasted. Some things just take time.

You are willing to wait. You'd wait any amount of time for that sweet smile.

Tomorrow will come soon enough, you think. Not scared anymore.