Terrifying and Beautiful

A/N: My first Hey Arnold one-shot! I hope you like it! I have had this idea in my mind for a while and I'm just hoping that it turns out all right.

By the way, the title 'Terrifying and Beautiful' comes from one of my favorite quotes in the show:

(Grandpa is reading out of Arnold's father's journal, an entry describing a volcanic eruption):

"It was terrifying and beautiful all at the same time"

(to Grandma)

kind of like you, Pookie.

I thought that this quote pretty much explains both Grandma and Grandpa's relationship, but also Arnold and Helga's, hah! Anyways, enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold or any related characters!

It was about 3 o'clock in the afternoon when Arnold stepped off the bus and walked up to the boarding house. The familiar "No Kids, Pets OK" sign was hanging off its hinges, something that had happened just a few weeks ago, yet none of the boarders bothered to fix it. He pushed open the door, stepping out of the way so the numerous pigs, dogs, cats, rabbits, raccoons, lemurs or whatever animals they had lurking around the boarding house could run out, and then he stepped in.

Arnold sighed as he threw his backpack down and made his way towards the kitchen. That night was the first school dance of his fifth grade year, and he wasn't really too excited. But Gerald wanted him to go, for tonight was his first official 'date' with Phoebe. Also, Lila had promised him a dance, and he wouldn't pass that up for the world.

He opened the refrigerator and grabbed the carton of milk. He was almost startled when he heard Grandpa and Grandma chuckling behind him. Peering behind his shoulder, he saw the two looking at an old, dusty photo album.

"What's that?" He asked, sitting next to them with a glass of milk. They peered up from the photo album with big grins on their faces.

"Our old photo album from when we were young. Take a look, short man," Grandpa said, sliding the tattered book over to him. The picture of the first page was of Grandpa and Grandma as teenagers, sipping on a milkshake. The photo was old, black and white, and a little blurry, but the moment that it captured was very beautiful. Grandma had short, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and a red, flowing dress with a matching sun hat. She was smiling just barely.

Grandpa had black hair, not too long, not too short. He wore white pants (it was one of the first times Arnold saw him without the suspenders) with a white shirt tucked in. The both of them looked blissful.

Arnold turned a stiff page to a wedding photo. Grandma's dress was delicate and long, with little embellishment. It was simple, but it looked very nice. Her thin hands were holding Grandpa's, and they were, once again, looking into each other's eyes. Grandpa had a slick, black suit on and shiny shoes. Arnold grinned at the picture.

"Grandpa?" Arnold asked.

"Yeah?" Grandpa responded.

"Will you tell me a story of when you and Grandma were young?" Arnold requested, setting the book down on the table. The old couple smiled.

"Sure, short man." He replied, placing an arm around Grandma tentatively. "The one thing I liked about Pookie the most was how unpredictable she was. See, in grade school, she was the biggest bully! Throwin' rocks at my head, calling me rude nicknames, yelling at me, sticking 'Kick Me' signs on my back…"

Grandma smiled triumphantly.

"She was one of a kind, Arnold!"

"That's what made you like her?" Arnold asked in disbelief.

"No, silly! Like I said, Arnold, she was unpredictable. Different. Kind of nutty, but it was a challenge. So one night was our first school dance, and I arrived just as the jazz band started up. The kids at school were all gasping and looking a certain couple, swinging to the beat of the band. I inched closer to see who they were… and there she was. The meanest, most tomboyish girl in our class new how to swing!"

Again, Grandma grinned largely at Grandpa.

"And any girl who could swing like that was definitely a force to be reckoned with! Seeing my tormenter in the arms of another classmate, swaying across the dance floor like they were pros, I had to cut in."

"Oh, this is where it gets good!" Grandma shouted excitedly. Grandpa chuckled.

"Yes, Pookie. Anyways, so I strolled right up to them, tapped the buffoon on the shoulder, telling him to get lost. The best part was when she looked at me menacingly, raised one eyebrow judgmentally, and then smirked. Taking my hand, we danced for the next three songs. And boy, was she good!"

"What happened next?" Arnold asked frivolously, beaming at them.

"Well, Arnold, the dance ended, she insulted me, kicked dirt on my shiny shoes and we called it a night."

Arnold sat silent for a few moments.

"… What?"

"Well, what did you expect, short man? Nothing changed just like that! Over time, I grew to accept the fact that she was different, and she grew to stop insulting me. Although, she did keep throwing rocks at me." Grandpa told him, rubbing his head.

Arnold slumped in his chair, clearly confused.

"Look, Arnold, love isn't always encased in a heart-shaped box with frilly pink ribbons and bows. It's unique! Just like you, Pookie." Grandpa said sweetly, looking at her. She batted her eyelashes playfully.

Arnold half-smiled at the two, and then checked his watch.

"I should probably go get ready; thanks for the story Grandpa!" He called as he ran from the kitchen and up the stairs to his room.

After a few minutes of choosing out a tie, Arnold padded down the steps and grabbed his coat from the hanger.

"Have a good time tonight!" Grandpa called from the kitchen.

"Have fun at your fiesta!" Grandma yelled.

"Pookie, it's a school dance, not a fiesta…" Grandpa corrected her.

"Oh, is that what it was?…" That was all Arnold heard before he was out the door, heading in the school's direction. Wrapping his coat around him tighter, he felt the fall breeze pick up and blow dried leaves passed his feet.

He arrived at the school gymnasium just ten minutes later, greeted by Gerald at the double doors. They walked in hesitantly.

The gymnasium cleaned up nicely. Lights hung from the ceiling, the bleachers had decorative signs on them, and the dance floor was packed with kids. Arnold immediately went over to the punch bowl and poured himself a drink, sipping it quietly for a few moments. He scanned the room quickly for Lila before he spotted her, dancing with Stinky. He sighed.

"Dude, there's Phoebe," Gerald whispered, pointing into the crowd. Sure enough, Phoebe was on the outskirts of the large crowd of kids, looking uncomfortable.

"So, go up to her!" Arnold said, pushing his friend in her general direction. Gerald squirmed uneasily.

"I don't know!" He pleaded.

"You did ask her to this dance, right? Chances are, she's probably looking for you, too." Arnold convinced him. Gerald sighed.

"All right, all right." He moaned, dragging his feet towards her. When she saw him, her eyes lit up. Arnold smiled at the two.

But now, he was all alone. Taking the punch ladle, he poured himself some more and sipped. Before he knew it, three songs had passed and he was still staring into the crowd of his friends.

"Arnold! What have you been doing?" Gerald yelled to him as he ran up to the punch table. "Why aren't you out there?"

"I don't know, Gerald, I have no one to dance with."

"What about Lila? Didn't she promise you a dance?" Gerald asked.

"Well, yeah, but she's been dancing with Stinky for the past few songs! I don't know what to do."

"Arnold, Arnold. You give suggestions, but you don't follow your own! You just told me to go up and dance with Phoebe, and I did, and it was great. Now you're sitting here, not knowing what to do. I say you take your own advice and just dance with her, man!"

Arnold mulled this over for a few moments, and then nodded.

"You're right. I'll do it." He said triumphantly, heading in the direction of Lila. She was laughing with Stinky as they moved to the pop music that boomed from the speakers. Arnold gulped and advanced towards him.

"Hey Lila," He said nervously. She beamed at him excitedly.

"Oh, Arnold! Hello!" She replied.

"Um, well, I was wondering if you would dance with me? I mean, since you said you would and all…" Arnold said quietly, scratching the back of his head. She bit her lip.

"Gosh, well… I'm ever so certain that I'm dancing with Stinky at the moment. I'm so sorry." She answered apologetically.

"Oh, yeah. That's cool, I guess I'll just see you later, or something." Arnold muttered, turning around and walking in a separate direction. So much for that.

"All right all you cool cats, here's one from the forties!" The DJ said into the microphone. The kids in the gym all groaned. Soon a song that Arnold knew pretty well, due to his Grandpa's old jazz records, started to play from the speakers. He stopped in his path and noticed that all the kids were backing up from the middle of the dance floor, and creating a circle.

The kids were cheering and whooping at the couple in the middle. They were moving all around the floor, one hand clasped while the other hand flew in the air carelessly. Arnold pushed his way through the crowd so he could get a good look at the two.

He noticed a blonde blur being whipped across the floorboards, and a shorter boy with thick glasses. Could it be?

"Curly and… Helga?" Arnold whispered aloud. Sure enough, the dancers switched positions and he could see Helga's smirking face as she tapped along to the beat of the bass. Arnold blinked furiously and rubbed his eyes, but he wasn't dreaming.

The song came to a close, but the DJ played a second song, one that Arnold was also familiar with. He sucked in a large gulp of air and remembered Grandpa's story.

Mustering up some confidence, he stepped out into the center of the floor and his classmates watched him carefully. He came up behind Curly, tapped him on the shoulder, and motioned for him to beat it. Shrugging, he sauntered off in the opposite direction.

Helga looked him up and down, a scowl on her face. After a second or two, her expression softened (barely), and she let him take her hand in his and swing her around.

Thanking the heavens that Grandma taught him how to swing dance last year, he moved about expertly. This fact seemed to surprise Helga, for she didn't expect him to sway her vigorously to and fro. The two soon found their rhythm and moved to the beat of the music with ease.

Just minutes later, the song ended and all of his classmates cheered for the two, who took a small bow. The gymnasium lights turned on shortly afterwards, signaling that the dance was over. Arnold headed for the double doors, with Helga just a few steps in front of him.

"I didn't know you were such a good dancer, Helga." Arnold said when they were outside. Helga turned, looking at him with an odd expression on her face.

"Yeah, so? What's it to ya, football head?"

"Nothing, it's just something I wouldn't have expected you to be really good at," He answered her.

"Yeah well, there are a lot of things you don't know about me, Arnoldo." She replied scathingly before turning on one heel and heading in a separate direction.

But Arnold did not frown. He did not roll his eyes or think bad thoughts about her. Instead, he half-smiled, and headed home.

After all, love isn't always encased in a heart-shaped box with frilly pink ribbons and bows.

When he got back to the boarding house, he trotted up the stairs but stopped short when he heard scratchy, old time music coming from an opened room. Cautiously approaching the door, he peeked in.

There were his grandparents, hand in hand, swaying to the music. Dramatically, Grandpa swooped Grandma down, dipping her body just slightly, before bringing her back up and swaying some more. Their eyes closed, the smooth jazz floated through the room soothingly. Arnold smiled before walking away from the room.

And he did not neglect to notice that on his grandpa's back was a small 'Kick Me' sign, and that his grandma sported a silly grin on her face.

A/N: How did you like it? I haven't done a one-shot for Hey Arnold yet so I figured I'd give it a shot. I hope it was okay! Review and let me know!