So, last time was short but this is a little longer.
Helga is going to visit Arnold and both of them are panicked over this reunion but it looks like they're not the only ones in a panic.
Arnold felt some-what restless while he waited for Helga to arrive at Sunset Arms. He climbed the stairs from the first floor to the second around six times by now and each time he was hardly aware he had even done so. Meeting the rest of his old friends hadn't brought on his nerves quite like this before. But was he really nervous? For all he knew, he could have just been excited that he was going to see her again. This is unknown, but he hoped that whatever he felt would not make him look entirely foolish once she finally arrived.
While Helga was guilty of loving Arnold all of their young lives, Arnold only knew of his affections for a short while. He called them love but the arguments and disagreements shattered the weak emotion and they ended it. So if he wasn't in love with her, why the panic? Sitting himself down on one of the stairs leading to the second floor after he realized he was going down them again, Arnold leaned against the railing and watched the front door. He was ashamed of himself for being so jittery at the concept of Helga coming over. And he had no idea why.
Taking the time to think, he wondered why it was so hard to imagine talking to Helga. Mainly it was because they never really just talked before. In the past, whenever they were around one another, there was always some kind of problem to face. He often found her when she was having a crisis of her own but she had also found him when he was struggling as well. All of their encounters were either her making fun of him, causing him some form of misery, or helping him in a new adventure that always seemed to fill his childhood.
Arnold often thought about how his parents had adventures together. Maybe he had his when he was a kid and these days would be his quiet ones. The ones spent back in his old home. What made those memories stand out more, however, was Helga being a part of several of them. The youngest Pataki had always been a major part of his life, even though he hadn't noticed it at the time. And maybe that was why he was nervous. There was no adventure, no crisis, and no troubles. Only him and Helga trying to talk about how they have been living their lives. And the fact that he had little to talk about was probably what had him on the fritz.
There was a knocking at the door, drawing Arnold from his thoughts. He rose from the stairs, much more at ease than he had been before but still a little tense when he approached the old door and opened it up to see who would be standing outside. Helga stood on his stoop, hardly changed from when he had seen her at the school. Now that she was standing closer he could see that their height was matched unlike how it had been before when she was always the taller of the two. This realization drew a smile across his face before he pulled the door open wider to invite her inside.
"Hey Arnold," she greeted with a casual wave of the hand before passing him to enter the building.
"Hey, Helga." He returned, closing the door after her and the two turned to face one another in the hallway. Helga stood with her hands in her pockets, glancing around the area, clearly waiting for him to say something first. "Um, you want to head up to my room?"
"I guess so." Helga shrugged her shoulders. He indicated the stairs and led the way up them and down the hallway to the stair access to his own room. "Still hiding in the old attic I see." She commented when he pulled it down and climbed upstairs.
"It's the best."
Arnold had always been in the attic room of the boarding house and he never had any complaints about it. A few things were outdated, sure, but that was because he wasn't around to constantly keep up with the flow of technology like most teenagers his age. And Arnold never felt dissatisfied because he was outdated. Old things were great. But he did have to replace the batteries in his remote in order to get it to work again after he had arrived. He plucked said remote out of his back pocket and flipped out his sofa and indicated Helga could have a seat.
It was still unusual to be entering Arnold's room from the traditional doorway entrance since she had her past experiences coming through his skylights in the past. She couldn't help it that he never really invited her over at the time. She had been a complete jerk to him when they were kids so why would he invite her over? He indicated the sofa and she gave the familiar red fabric a wry smile before sitting down on it and slouching against the back, ignoring the crack between the sofa and the wall. The time for peering out of cracks and hiding from him were behind her. It was time to be a big girl and handle things much more subtly than she had before.
Watching him with casual eyes as he moved over and sat down beside her, Helga smirked slightly to herself. Arnold was still a good kid. He always sat next to girls with a polite distance in between them. It felt impersonal but at least the fact he was thinking of her comfort was good and a little touching. In her mind she freely sighed in loving bliss but mentally slapped herself shortly afterward. "So, how long is this little visit of yours this time?"
Arnold shrugged his shoulders. "My parents said I could take my time. I guess I'll be here until I think it's time to head back." He leaned forward and braced his arms across his thighs and suspending his fingers in between the gap between his legs. Helga could see he was absolutely uncertain about the timeline. It helped her relax a little more into the couch.
"Sounds like you can take your sweet time. That'll make everyone just thrilled then." The sarcasm didn't seem to fit the words but she had to sound like this if she was going to maintain the conversation casually without bursting into some strange fit that would freak him out. "I'm sure Gerald filled you in on the major details about what's going on with the old gang, right? Bet you two were running out of ink in your pens from writing each other so much."
Arnold shrugged his shoulders up a little. "Gerald told me a few things about you guys, but I'd like you to fill me in if that's okay." He looked up at her with that familiar small smile she remembered and Helga scratched at her chest, swallowing and hoping he didn't hear her heart rate kick up a few beats at the sight of it. Thumping her hands upon the cushion on either side of herself, she averted her eyes and shrugged her own shoulders.
"Well, I don't know what ol' Gerald told ya but he and Phoebs are still together and going strong. It's kind of sickening when I think about it. I'm sure they're all lovey-dovey whenever I'm not around but even when I am it's still kind of irritating how perfect they seem to be together. She's already taking classes in college on top of going to our pathetic high school and then she spends time with him, me and has room for her advanced karate classes, homework, and who knows what else. She's been on honor roll my whole life and she still has energy to do everything else."
Helga smacked her forehead. "And Gerald might be no brainiac but he's been sporting it up since junior high. All those sports we did in grade school really got to his head or something. He's programmed to be awesome at any sport with "ball" in it but spends most of his time with the basketball team. I don't pay attention to whatever else he does unless he's hanging around Phoebe."
Arnold nodded his head, he had probably already heard about tall-hair boy's obsession with playing basketball already but he asked her to report and so she did. Helga was guilty of not really caring about what her fellow classmates were doing. She shifted a little on the cushions and looked at her meager audience, crossing her arms over her chest. "I guess you didn't hear about Lila."
He blank at her, appearing puzzled. "What about Lila?"
"Putting it delicately, football head, she's dating Stinky." Helga stated, raising her eyebrow slightly; waiting for his reaction.
The teen barely even missed a beat when he raised his hands questioningly before resting his hands upon his knees. "That's good isn't it? I think they would do great together. Why the look?"
"What look?" Helga stiffened.
"The one you were giving me just now when you mentioned Lila dating Stinky. It's like you were expecting me to do something." Arnold pointed out, frowning a little as Helga averted her eyes again; pushing herself to sit up straight and twiddling her thumbs.
"Okay, I assumed you would be devastated because little miss perfect was dating him and wasn't available anymore. Face it, Arnold; it wasn't exactly a secret that you were completely gaga over her when you were kids." Helga fessed up, throwing her hands in the air. It wasn't a crime to assume anything but she really did think there would be at least a little sadness in Arnold's face once she broke the news. Maybe someone already told him about it? "I mean, you don't feel the slightest bit distressed over it? Nothing, what-so-ever?"
He shook his head, shrugging his shoulders, "Not really. I haven't liked Lila for a long time, Helga." The lack of sadness in his expression was disturbing but not so much as the sudden smirk he started to give her. Such a look was not something Helga saw often in the past. Arnold was definitely not the scheming type but he did make that face whenever he knew something that she didn't. Oh crap. "Why does it matter to you?"
Helga jumped up from the couch, staring straight ahead as she spoke. Unfortunately she squeaked at the same time that she rose up to stand. "It doesn't." Catching the higher tone in her voice, she folded her arms across her chest and suppressed the nervous babble she knew would follow if she wasn't careful. "You know I like to see the suffering of others. It's disappointing to not see you torn up over it like the first time she dumped you. I just thought I'd get a little kick out of dumping the news on ya but that was a big let-down."
Bracing her hands on her hips, Helga looked around the room and walked over to the side of his bed; surveying the shelves lining the wall over the mattress. Surveying their contents briefly it was obvious he hadn't unpacked much to make this room resemble something more lived-in than before. "Looks like you've got a lot left over in the unpacking department." She mused. That made his expression settle into a more neutral expression.
"I didn't bring back much. I was thinking about just digging through my old stuff in the closet before you called me earlier." He indicated the closet and Helga turned to it, approaching the door and pulling it open. "I haven't had a chance to look around inside yet so I don't know how it looks." He admitted, rising from the couch and peering into the opening at the same time she leaned in for a look.
"Crimeny, kid, you ever heard of spring cleaning?" she asked, noticing the boxes and the pile of old clothing on the floor. She wanted to bask in the old shirts of yesteryears and savor that sweet boyhood aroma she used to know but held her ground. If things went well she could definitely get her hands on one of those items of clothing. Patience was a virtue after all.
A slight tinge of red came across his cheeks. "I haven't really gotten around to it yet. Do you want to help me out with that? We can catch up while we work."
Helga gave a slight shrug. "Yeah I guess so. Just promise me I won't find any old underwear in there, otherwise I'm out."
Helga's use of sarcasm hadn't changed at all over the years and he was pleased to see that she was not acting anything other than herself at this point. He had been nervous about seeing her before but managed to get over it aside from the slight awkwardness that had accompanied them upstairs since she arrived. But with that aside, Arnold was curious about Gerald and Phoebe's worries about Helga's rather bleak behavior recently. He knew he didn't see it. Then again, Helga wasn't very good at expressing her emotions. She never had been and especially in front of him.
Of course he didn't know at the time that she had been obsessively in love with him back then either. He knew that now, but she had outgrown that obsession by now. He grew relieved when she agreed to help him work on cleaning out his closet to see what he could salvage from his old life to restore his room to a more lived-in state. At least they could keep their hands busy and not worry too much about lags in conversation when they were focusing on other things.
"I'll start pulling out boxes," he stated, brushing past her and reaching inside to grab a box but a voice from below froze his hands; drawing him away from the task.
"Hey Arnold! You've got a phone call!" Grandpa called upstairs. "Sounds like some crazy person on the line!"
Arnold looked at Helga and she looked just as confused. "I'll be right back." He excused himself and headed for the door; descending downstairs to take the phone. By the time he reached the bottom step on the first floor he saw his grandfather holding the phone away from his ear, flinching away from the voice coming out of the other end before he spotted him approaching.
"Here you go, Short man, ehm…good luck." He handed it over all too eagerly before hurrying down the hallway.
Arnold sighed, holding the phone up to his ear cautiously. "Hello?
"ARNOLD! Arnold, you've gotta help me out here!" a panicked voice gasped through the phone but it was somewhat hushed and hurried like they didn't want to be overheard. "I'm freaking out!"
"Wait-Rhonda? Calm down. What's going on?"
"I'M IN HIS HOUSE, ARNOLD! HIS HOUSE!"
And once again, Arnold gets another random phone call.
But what's Rhonda doing at Harold's house when she barely even went into the meat shop to see him?
Let's see if we can find out.