note: If I'm not shipping A/R, then I'm loving an A/R-bromance. For those that don't know, Urban Dictionary defines "bromance" as a "close relationship between two bros to such a point where they start to seem like a couple." I love the idea of Arnold and Ralphie eventually having a strong bromance.
Don't own MSB.
by, the ultimateSora
Arnold remembered the first time he met Ralphie. They were in pre-K, and a group of first graders had taken Ralphie's tin box of baseball cards. Arnold walked over to the group of bigger boys, asking them to leave Ralphie alone. They laughed, calling him a "nerd", and one of them made the mistake of pushing him down. Ralphie was red in the face from having this skinny nerd-boy with big glasses try to stick up for him, but he was surprised when Arnold got to his feet, took a boxing stance, and punched one of the bigger boys in the crotch, an easy shot for him.
The bigger boy went down, crying, and Arnold looked at the other boys. "I got more where that came from."
The boys backed away, and Ralphie picked up his tin of cards. "That was cool!"
"My dad makes me learn boxing," Arnold said. "I'm Arnold."
The two shook hands, and they walked in the school together.
Arnold walked in his new third grade class, and he was glad to see that he knew everyone in there. Ralphie looked up when he saw a flash of orange in his peripheral, and he smiled.
"Beat up any fifth graders?"
"One tried to pick on me," Arnold said. He held up his "dukes". "But he was a new 'tough' kid who didn't know about Iron Chin Perlstein."
Wanda went over to them. "I hear this class is getting a new kid."
Ralphie smiled. "I'd love to see Arnold punch him into place."
"It's a girl," Dorothy Ann said.
"Yeah, named 'P-ho-ee-bee'," Wanda said. "I saw the Friz's roster."
D.A. rolled her eyes. "I keep telling you, it's pronounced 'fee-bee'."
Wanda snorted. "What kind of name is that?"
The girls walked off, arguing over how to pronounce the new kid's name, and Arnold took the desk beside Ralphie. "What're you doing after school?" Arnold asked him.
"Baseball tryouts. Why?"
"Grandpa got me a go-kart. Wanna take a spin after your tryout?"
Ralphie's face lit up. "Uh, yeah! I'll be over like right after!" He patted Arnold's shoulder. "And this is why we're friends...I appreciate the fun stuff you hate getting."
Arnold had never been in a Catholic church before, and it was making him nervous. He didn't like the giant crucifix behind the altar, but he tried not to be distracted by that. The wedding ceremony was taking a long time, but he was having fun watching Ralphie fidget with his tie.
Arnold was sitting with his parents in a pew at the Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, and he knew the only reason his mother, Jean, was there was so she could continue her quest to get Dr. Tennelli a member of the Walkerville Country Club. Jean Perlstein knew if she could get Suzette Tennelli to join (as she had for the past five years), she'd have one up on Dorothy Ann's mother, Sue Ellen.
At the end of the ceremony, everyone headed to the Walkerville Hotel for the reception. Arnold found Ralphie loosening his tie as he got some punch. "So how does it feel having a girl you had a small crush on be your sister?" Arnold asked.
Ralphie punched his arm. "Shut up."
"What was Carlos calling you guys? The Ternellis?"
"It's weird, so shut up."
"Ralphie Ternelli!" The boys turned to see Carlos and Tim walk up to them, Carlos the one who called out to Ralphie. "Where's the step-twin?"
"Dancing with her dad," Ralphie said.
Tim shook his head. "Not anymore. I saw her fall, and she ran off. I think D.A. went after her."
"Yeah, you would know," Carlos said. He nodded to Ralphie. "Tim likes your sister, man."
"Shut up!" both Ralphie and Tim snapped.
Arnold held his hands up. "Why don't--"
He was cut off by Wanda grabbing his arm. "Dance with me!"
The guys laughed as he was pulled away, and Ralphie shook his head. "Geez, talk about 'whipped'."
After Arnold danced with Wanda, he found Ralphie at the punch table. "So this has been quite the day."
Ralphie nodded. "I'm ready to leave."
"Well, I think my parents are getting ready to go if you want to sleepover at my house."
"Sleep over at that new mansion you live in the Vale with the pool and go kart and video games? Uh, yeah, I'll go!"
Arnold grinned. "Are you friends with me because of my cool things or because I'm a cool guy?"
Ralphie shrugged, thinking about it. "Whichever."
Ralphie and Arnold stood together as they looked around the high school athletic hall. Both hit their growth spurts that summer, so now, on their first day of high school, they were the two tallest in the gang, Ralphie taller by two inches. Despite both being among the few freshmen to be over six feet tall, they still felt intimidated among the Varsity athletes around them.
"Guess we should go find our lockers," Ralphie said.
"I'm in the locker room off from the pool room," Arnold said. "So I'll see you later."
"Are we still on for paintball this weekend?"
Arnold nodded. "And don't forget, we're meeting Carlos and Tim at the Starbucks in downtown after school."
The boys parted ways, and Ralphie almost ran into a fuming Dorothy Ann. "Whoa, why so angry, D.A.?"
She had her tennis bag on her shoulder, heading to her locker in the girls' locker room, and she relaxed some when she saw Ralphie in front of her. "Carlos is being a dick. What else is new?"
"We're starting high school. He has to overcompensate for being a freshman."
"Oh, don't make excuses for him," she snapped. She shook her head. "Sorry. I'm feeling really bitchy right now. I'll see you later."
Ralphie did not want to get involved in his friends' relationship drama, so he shrugged and went to the boys' locker room.
Arnold usually left his textbooks at Ralphie's, since he was there almost every afternoon anyway, but he realized he needed his physics book for a worksheet he forgot about. He knew the Ternellis left a key in the potted plant by the front door, and since no one answered when he rang the bell, he used the key to go in. The downstairs was quiet and empty, and he went upstairs towards Ralphie's room. Arnold stopped dead in his tracks when the bathroom door opened and Phoebe's naked front side was exposed to him.
Sixteen year old boy reaction to a naked girl was to stare, which he did, but when his mind came back to him, he covered his eyes and turned away. "Pheebs! I'm so sorry! I didn't know--"
She covered herself with her towel. "No! No, no, I didn't know you were...here."
They both hurried to the opposite ends of the hall, Arnold to Ralphie's room, Phoebe to hers, and they both shut the doors behind them. Arnold looked down, cursing to himself that he got excited. He closed his eyes, reciting different types of minerals to calm himself. It worked, and he grabbed his textbook. He slowly opened Ralphie's door, seeing the hall was empty, and he took a deep breath as he walked to her door.
"Phoebe, I'm sorry, again."
"It's...fine," she said from the other side. "It was an accident."
He didn't know why he said what he was about to, the words coming before he could react. "Your breasts are cute. You don't have to be ashamed."
Arnold was surprised to hear giggling. "What breasts? I'm flatter than a pancake."
He smiled. "You're not. They were nice." He cleared his throat. "I'm, uhm, just going to go."
Just as he turned, he heard her door open. He saw her step out, wearing her robe, and he didn't know if she was red from the shower or from what he said. "Thank you, Arnold."
Arnold was not lacking in the girl department, not remembering the last time he felt so awkward, and he noticed that lately, he had been growing more and more awkward around Phoebe whenever he came over to hang out with Ralphie. Phoebe! Of all the girls in Walkerville, Phoebe Terese made him feel awkward! He cleared his throat again, deciding to act on a sudden gut instinct.
"Phoebe, would you like to go to dinner with me this Friday?"
She blanched, and he swore she was going to faint. "R-r-really? You're asking me out?"
She looked down and smiled. "Yes! I mean...yes. I'd love to."
"Great, I'll pick you up at seven."
"How nice should I dress?"
He scratched his neck. "Well, I was thinking, if you wanted to, we could eat at the Boat House."
Her eyes widened. "That fancy seafood place you have to be a member of the Old Walker Vale Country Club just to eat at?"
"My parents are members, so that's not a problem."
She blushed and nodded. "Okay. I've never gone on a date before...let alone with a rich boy."
He smiled. "I'm not rich. My grandparents may have given me a Porsche, I live in the Vale, and my parents are members of the country club...but I'm not rich."
That made Phoebe smile, and after an awkward bye, Arnold left. Now, he had to figure out how he'd tell Ralphie. He didn't tell him until the next day when they went for their fourth period run around the campus. Arnold had been hesitating, but he decided to just say it when they stopped for a water break in the west courtyard in the back of the school.
"So anything new?" Arnold asked.
Ralphie stretched after getting some water. "Not since five minutes ago when you asked."
"I'm taking Phoebe out on a date, so you want to go to the weight room or keep running?"
Ralphie stood up, and the two inches he had on Arnold in height felt more like two feet to Arnold. "You what?"
"I asked Phoebe out on a date."
Ralphie shook his head. "Hell, I never thought the first time I had to play the 'protective step-brother' when Phoebe had a date would be now and with you."
Arnold tried to show him the upside. "Look at it this way...you've known me since preschool. I'm a nice guy...nerdy and preppy, but also really nice. I drive an awesome car, so your step-sister will go out in style. And...you know where I live."
Ralphie rubbed his chin. "I do know where you live. Well, I'm the least of your problems, bro. Just wait until Mark gets a hold of you. Phoebe's dad has yet to interview a guy taking Phoebe out, so I know it's been building in him since she hit puberty a year ago."
Arnold laughed, not sure if Ralphie was exaggerating about Phoebe hitting puberty at fifteen.
Everyone but Phoebe sat around the Ternelli breakfast table as they played poker. Carlos and Wanda snuck beer over since Mr. Terese and Dr. T were out on their weekly date. The gang liked to watch when Ralphie and Arnold would talk to one another, neither completing a sentence but knowing what the other meant.
Ralphie shook his head. "That place is good, but it's not as good the--"
"That place off of Walker Harbor--"
"Yeah, I know. Something about the way they--"
"Yeah, and is the guy still there?"
"Oh, the guy that..." Ralphie made his voice high and nasally, "Spoke like this?"
The two laughed, and Carlos leaned closer to Wanda. "I'm telling you, they're joined at the unhip."
Wanda smiled and patted his arm. "Oh, Poodle and your bad pun things."
Phoebe walked in the kitchen to get something to drink, and she walked over to the table, wrapping her arms around Arnold's neck from behind. They kissed, whispering to each other, and everyone threw chips and pretzels at them.
"No 'couple talk'!" Carlos shouted.
Arnold threw a poker chip at him, and he turned back to Phoebe. "I was thinking for you know who's birthday, we'd take him to that barbeque place he loves."
Ralphie raised his brows. "The place with the--"
"No, they closed down. I'm talking about the--"
Ralphie nodded. "I love that place."
"I swear, you two are more the couple than we are," Phoebe said, kissing Arnold's temple.
"Pheebs, you joining us?" Keesha asked, putting her cards down.
"No, I don't know how to play."
"Hey," D.A. said, "if I can teach Keesha and..." She grimaced at Wanda sticking pretzel sticks in her nose. "...Wanda, I can teach you."
Phoebe shook her head, and she looked at Arnold. "Is this a good hand?"
Arnold smiled. "Royal flush." He put his cards down to show everyone.
The rest of the gang groaned, and Carlos threw his cards down. "Dammit! Rich keep getting richer!"
"Looks like Pheebs will be getting the Hope Diamond for her birthday," Keesha grumbled.
Wanda put her cards down. "Fine by me. That bitch is cursed anyway."
Arnold scoot his chair back, and he pulled Phoebe onto his lap. Carlos pointed at them and said, "Hey, there will be no teaching her how to play, letting her in on your bet, or handjobs we can't see."
"Just pass the cards, asshole," Ralphie said. He patted Arnold's arm. "You talk to your grandparents about--"
"Already did. We'll be at the place--"
"The one the Vineyard?"
"Of course. Also, bring--"
"Way ahead of you."
Keesha grinned. "If Phoebe wasn't sitting on Arnold's lap, I'd swear Arnold and Ralphie would just be the cutest couple ever."
Wanda readied the poker chips and said, "Yeah, see, Phoebe is what you call 'the beard', the girl that gives the image of being the girlfriend when the two bros are really dating." She shrugged. "Though, Phoebe's a bad beard, considering she's built like a twelve year old boy."
Arnold, Ralphie, and Phoebe threw pretzels at her.
Ralphie shook his head. "You broke up with her because you feared you were moving too fast. You get back with her two years later because you missed her, and now you want to marry her?"
Arnold shrugged. "Why not? Pheebs and I have grown up, and I know now I want to marry her."
Ralphie clenched his jaw. "Fine...but I have just one condition." Arnold feared Ralphie was going to hit him, but instead, he smiled and said, "I call Best Man."
"'Ralph Carmine' is a great name!"
"Not for my kid, and it doesn't even go with 'Perlstein'!"
"Nothing goes with 'Perlstein'!"
"Yeah? Well, I think you just hate Italians!"
Phoebe held her hands up. "Stop! I am nine months pregnant with two babies ready to pop out at any moment! I don't need you two having a couple fight!"
Ralphie shook his head. "I couldn't live with this OCD pretty-boy douche. Did in college. Wanted to shank him a few times."
Dorothy Ann walked in the kitchen, and she put her arm around Ralphie's waist. "C'mon, let's get home before your nieces and/or nephews decide to come out now and start talking like their uncle Ralphie."
"Best thing for them." He leaned closer to her. "Look who they have for parents."
Phoebe threw a dish towel at him. Ralphie winked, and he and Dorothy Ann left. Arnold wrapped his arms around Phoebe and kissed her forehead. "And look who our kids have for an uncle."
Phoebe giggled. "You know, there's probably some alternate universe where your bromance with Ralphie is more than a bromance."
Arnold laughed. "Yeah, well, keep talking because in that same universe, you're Dorothy Ann's wife."
note: Ralphie and Arnold finishing each other's thoughts in "2005" was from Will & Grace.