Hello, all. :D Welcome back!
Today, we've got a little interesting fic where we have Arnold reflecting what had happened on the FTI rooftop, and what his own feelings are about it all. I also was inspired by Darth Roden a.k.a. Carl's fanfic "Arnold's Couch Confessions" (also see chapter 6 of my fic "Arnold's Leg", also inspired by the aforementioned fic) fanfic, where Arnold talks to Dr. Bliss about everything.
Here, it takes place as if he did have a brief session with her, but couldn't get everything out, so now he's taking time to think it over himself.
Life made no sense sometimes.
It always seemed basic, didn't it? You were born, with your set of eyes, hair, skin, genealogy, personality, family. You grew up and played with toys. You went to school and learned things, made some friends.
So then why did some things have to pop out and surprise you?
Arnold knew this especially. He'd gone through quite a lot of life-altering experiences. Most notably, when he and Gerald decided to risk everything in order to save their neighbourhood from being torn down. When all hope seemed lost, they were eventually guided by a mysterious character known as Deep Voice, who had led them to key elements that would help them save the neighbourhood. If not for Deep Voice, they would have failed, or worse, be sent to Juvenile Hall, all the while having to move because of the demolition of the neighborhood.
Opportunity struck to find out Deep Voice's identity, and Arnold took it, now with the intent to find out who had been helping him all this time. Little did he know how surprised he would be when he found out who it really was.
And that surprise came in the name of his personal tormentor, Helga Geraldine Pataki.
It wasn't just the fact that she'd been Deep Voice all this time that surprised him. Helga had gone out of her way to help him and Gerald save the neighbourhood all the while giving up getting rich off the deal. Even now, he was still stunned about it. How many nine year old girls actually did that? Not many, that was for sure.
Then again, Helga was undoubtedly one in a million.
This of course piqued his curiosity. How did she get the information? Probably through her dad, since he apparently worked close with that Nick guy, he figured. Why didn't she just tell him what she knew? Most of all...why did she do it at all?
It was definitely planned, he knew that much. There was no way she could have just used all that in the "heat of the moment".
She did give some lousy excuses that she could not have possibly expected him to buy. Of course, he could have just accepted the fact that she had even helped him at all and left it that. But no, oh no. He kept pressing on, demanding why. This was, after all, a very huge deal. She was going against her own father, giving up getting rich, all to help someone she claimed to hate. Of course, after a while, he eventually got his answer, which was also a huge surprise he did not, and yet should have, expected.
It came in the name of her being in love with him.
Helga Pataki, the very girl who tormented him with trivial teasing all these years, said over and over that she hated him for little to no reason, was actually in love with him. This of course freaked him out like he hadn't felt in a long time. Even more so than when she, Gerald and himself had gone to the old train station to find the supposedly haunted Train 25 that turned out not to even be haunted at all.
Of course, it DID make sense, however. Because you would never do that kind of thing for someone unless you really loved them. She did it because she wanted to help him save the neighborhood, to prove her love for him, and of course, the likely reason that she would never see him again if he had to move away. It was all done out of love.
It was still surprising, since no nine-year-old would ever do such a thing for a boy no matter how much she liked him. Then again, a nine-year-old also didn't often harbour a love for a boy as if she were older than her age.
For a minute, he didn't want to believe it. It was impossible! Helga hated him! She could not have possibly loved him, she just couldn't.
But oh, she did, and he knew she did. BIG TIME.
"Boy, I sure don't doubt that now." Arnold murmured to himself, laying back on his bed as he stared up at his skylight, watching the rain patter on the glass.
It came clear that she was telling the truth when she kissed him on the lips for the third time. Though they'd kissed twice before, both of which were scripted. This particular kiss was a real kiss. A real, unscripted, excuse-free kiss.
A kiss free of Shakespearean dialog and directors and cameras. But like the other two, it was a long kiss. Helga hadn't actually been subtle in prolonging their kisses for an extended period of time. This one was no different, and it had lasted nine seconds.
Though it felt like an eternity.
But it wasn't just her passionate, true kiss that convinced him she was telling the truth.
It was the sweet tone of voice she had for a couple of minutes as she was actually being romantic to him, in hopes of winning him over. Admittedly, it was flattering, but he hadn't had the time to think about it. It also was the look in her eyes, the moment she was holding him while he was trying to tell her "No! I mean...there's no time for that!" and for moments after, when he was trying to tell her they also had to save the neighbourhood.
Arnold also wondered what she could have possibly meant when he'd said he needed to lie down. Her exact words were as followed:
"Wonderful! I'll go with you!"
"Wonderful! I'll go with you!"?
Even now, he had no understanding of her words beyond what they truly meant. He would lie down, and she would go lie down with him. It made no sense. No logical sense, anyway.
It had now been two weeks since the incident, and he STILL couldn't stop thinking about it. Helga had of course gone back to her usual bullying ways, though she always seemed to cast him a secretive glance when she thought he wasn't looking. Her spitballing decreased, and her teasing was still in there, but there was an undertone within it. It was as if she was trying too hard and knew that her teasing didn't have the same effect on him now she knew that he knew she loved him.
Oh yes, Arnold knew she was lying when they had agreed it was just in the heat of the moment. Even she knew better, he was sure of it. But they just had a silent understanding with each other.
For now, at least.
Just a few days ago, he had spoken briefly with Dr. Bliss, the school's child psychologist, about Helga and the incident itself. It had indeed helped, and it gave him quite a bit to think about. But his biggest question, which sadly he didn't get to ask, was...what to do now?
Arnold sighed again, and sat up, unsure of what to think about that. Not only that, but a certain question Dr. Bliss had asked him, something he hadn't exactly taken the time to think of before was:
"Do you love Helga back?"
That was a good question. Love? Did he love her back?
He understood now, that Helga's greatest fear would be that he didn't love her back. Understandably so, he knew exactly how that felt.
Did he like her? Yes, he did. When she was herself, and actually showing how she really was behind the bully persona, he liked her. He liked her sarcastic humour, and yet still genuinely fun joking about. In all, he did like her.
Did he care about her? There was no question, he cared about her immensely. He wanted her to be happy, and hated seeing her so sad. Those times he did something nice for her, he always savoured the smile she held, whether in her eyes or on her face.
So, did he love her?
He wasn't sure. He liked her, probably more than as a friend, as Dr. Bliss had revealed as they spoke about it, and especially in relation to a couple of dreams he'd had about her. He cared about her deeply, no question. But love? Did he love her back?
Despite his uncertainty, he was almost scared not to feel the same way. He knew it would crush her, and the last thing he wanted to do was make her sad. She just wanted to be loved, specifically by him, and what if he couldn't do that?
It would crush him too, that's for sure.
Arnold sighed again, falling back on his bed. After everything he thought about and talked about when it came to her, either with Dr. Bliss or in his own mind, he feared the idea of not loving her back. Helga deserved to be loved. Of course, he knew he couldn't fake it, that would be wrong. He could never do that to her.
That was part of why he wanted to think about it.
"What can I do...." Arnold sighed. "I wish I could do something about all this, but what?"
"Knock knock, short man!" Grandpa Phil announced as he opened the door and came into the bedroom. "What's with you today, Arnold? You've been locked in your room all morning! Is something bothering you?"
Arnold sat up in his bed. "...Yeah, Grandpa. A lot's been bothering me lately."
"Ohhhh, this should be good!" Phil said, and sat down next to him on his bed. "What's the problem, short man? Trouble at school? With friends?...Girl trouble?"
"Girl trouble." Arnold nodded. "You remember Helga, right?"
"Helga? Oh yes, that girl with the bow, pigtails, pink dress and one eyebrow? The one that's always pickin' on you and jumping rope in front of the house?"
"Yeah, that's her." Arnold confirmed, laying his head on his hands, his elbows propped on his legs. "You remember how you said she's always picking on me because she really likes me?"
Phil laughed. "Course I do, short man! It's true you know, that girl definitely has it bad for you!"
Arnold gave a mirthless laugh. "Well, Grandpa, you were right. Just recently she told me that she was in love with me."
"Well I'll be darned!" Phil grinned. "It's about dang time she came out with it and you figured it out! Haha, I knew it! ...What's wrong, Arnold? You don't seem too happy about it."
"It's not that, Grandpa. I'm actually pretty flattered that someone actually likes me, given my bad luck with girls." Arnold said, and then he sighed. "It's just...I don't know how I feel about her. I know I do like her, and I care about her, but I don't know if I love her back."
"Ohhhh, I see your dilemma, Arnold." Phil said, nodding. "Say, you remember when I told you about that girl I went to school with back in the day?"
"Yeah, Gertie. She treated you just like Helga treats me. Actually Grandpa, I've been meaning to ask, what happened with her?"
Phil laughed a bit. "Well short man, it happened some time during the depression and I had to move away because our family was starving. In fact, a lot of kids in our town had to move away! Gertie was lucky, she didn't have to move, but I had to. Frankly, I was ready to say good riddance! But then, the strangest thing just happened!"
"She had this uncle, Trevor...well, by marriage, actually. Her aunt dumped the man later on in the forties! He was a business man from New York, and he opened up a shop in town, it was a hardware store. So before I left school, I told my best friend Jimmy Kofka that my family was moving, and everyone in class, including Gertie, all found out about it. So on the day of the move, Trevor came to my dad and offered him a job as night watchman at his hardware store! So we didn't have to move! As it turned out, short man, Gertie went to her uncle and managed to convince him to give my old man a job at his store!"
"Wow, really? She did that?" Arnold asked, surprised.
"You bet she did! When I found out she did, I went and asked her why she did it, but she kept giving me all these lame excuses, until she eventually caved in and said she didn't want me to move. Why? Simple! She liked me. Well, a lot!"
"Wow..." Arnold uttered, blinking. This was MAJOR deja-vu. "That's almost like what happened with Helga and I. ...Grandpa, what happened with you two after that? Did you like her too?"
Phil gave him a sly grin. "She's downstairs right now, short man. I married her!"
Phil laughed loudly at Arnold's surprised outburst, unable to contain himself. He'd been waiting for quite a while to see his grandson's reaction to the irony of the situation.
"Hard to believe, eh, Arnold? Your ol' Grandma and Grandpa together after all that torture!"
"I can't believe it...Gertie was Grandma..." Arnold said, still in shock. "You and Grandma had the exact same relationship Helga and I have right now...and now she helped you and your family to prevent you from moving away all out of love. I...I don't know what to say..."
"Well short man, I sure didn't know what to think at the time either!" Phil grinned. "I'd never thought of Pookie in that way, since she was always so mean, ya know. But believe me, short man, she was the perfect girl for me! Sure didn't take long for me to realize we were meant for each other!"
"I...I...that's so...I can't believe it." Arnold finally sat back up. "Even after all that Gertie...I mean, Grandma, did to you...more extreme that Helga, that's for sure... you still fell in love with her and now you're together several years."
"Don't think I wouldn't have thought people were crazy if they told me that back when I was your age, short man." Phil told him, and laughed some more. "So tell me, tell your old Grandpa, do you love this girl?"
"I...I...." Arnold wasn't sure how to respond to that now. If his own grandparents could overcome obstacles and find love each other and STILL be together even after their rocky start, then who's to say he and Helga wouldn't meet the same fate? "I don't know, Grandpa. I don't know how I feel about her, and I don't know what to do. If it turns into repeated history of you and Grandma, well, that really doesn't sound so bad at all. But what if it doesn't?"
"Ohhh...I see the problem." Phil said, and patted his back. "You're scared that you won't love that girl Helga in return, because of everything she's been through and how much she loves you."
"Yes." Arnold admitted, his eyes moistening. "I'd hate to crush her like that, Grandpa. And I know how it feels to really like someone and they don't like you back. It hurts. And I don't want to put her through that. I know she bullied me a lot, but...come on, Grandma bullied you like Helga does to me, and you still found love in her."
"Well Arnold, I couldn't say for sure how you feel, since you gotta figure it out yourself, short man." Phil patted his back. "But let me tell you something kiddo, you want to know what I did?"
"What, Grandpa?" Arnold looked up at him.
"I decided, since Pookie liked me so much, why not give her a chance? After what she did, helping my old man get a job and all, I knew she was actually a nice girl and just wanted me to like her. Well, I was sure nice to her after that, short man!"
"So, you're saying I should be nice to Helga?"
"That's right, short man! Be nice to her, show her some kindness, let her know you want to try to give her a chance!"
"But, what if I turn out not to like her in return?"
"Oh Arnold, don't worry about that now! Just follow your instincts, your good ones! And you know what else? Pookie and I had a good talk a couple years after I was out of school, since we didn't get to see each other much! We talked a lot that day, and let me tell you, short man, it helped!"
"Talk? What did you talk about?" Arnold asked, puzzled.
"About us!" Phil said. "We talked about us! You and one-eyebrow need to do the same."
"...So, I should be nice to Helga, and actually sit down and talk with her about all this? ...You know, Dr. Bliss said the same thing, although I didn't get a chance to ask her to elaborate on that."
"Well she's right, short man!" Phil grinned, patting his back again.
"...You know, thanks, Grandpa. I think I know what I have to do now." Arnold said, smiling a little.
"That's the spirit, short man!" Phil said, and got up. "Well, I've got some things to take care of. And remember Arnold, never eat raspberries!" He laughed again and left the room.
Smiling a bit to himself, Arnold lay back on his bed, staring up at the rain still pattering on his skylight. Yes, he knew exactly what he had to do now.
He went over to his phone, dialing a number he knew now by heart.
"Helga? Hey, it's Arnold. Listen, um, I was wondering if maybe you could meet me at Mighty Pete tomorrow afternoon at two?"
Coming up next, Arnold talks with Helga! :D
Also, expect to see some fanart for this soon. ;)