The Elevator

Chapter 5: Up front

Azure 129: Oh man, the tension's rising and something's about to give-I can feel it! (Lol, it also probably helps that I'm one of the people writing this thing!) Anyway, Arnold and Helga are getting closer and closer to getting rescued which means they're also getting closer and closer to the climax of their time in this elevator so read on for even more romantic shenanigans!

NintendoGal55: Hey everyone, and welcome back! :D So now the thick plottens! ...I mean, the plot thickens! As our heroes still remain trapped in the elevator! How are they going to get out? We all know Gertie knows where they are, but will they make it out in time for the dance? Heck, even in time for breakfast? Find out more in this chapter! Hooray!

Disclaimer: You know what-yeah, sure, why not...I OWN THIS SHOW! So, before you read this, everyone PayPal me a dollar! And then fifty cents for each reread! (J/k, j/k this is the property of Viacom, Nick, CB etc. but is anyone else curious about what exactly the bigwigs would do if we just went around saying that we did own the show before every fanfic, lol...)/

Yeah...we just got off the phone with Craig, who was considering to give us the rights to the characters, since we had to blackmail-I mean, offer to Nickelodeon to take them off their hands! ...Yeah, we don't own the series. Get it through your skulls, doi!

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"As I said, we're not entirely sure where they are. All we know is that they're stuck." Phoebe explained once more to a hysterical Olga into the phone. "Please calm down, Olga. Everything will be fine."

"We...we must call the police! Or the National Guard! And the FBI, the CIA, the Secret Service, everyone! We need help!" Olga cried hysterically on the other line.

Again, Phoebe held the phone away from her ear, looking over at Gerald as helplessly as Phoebe Heyerdahl could look. Gerald just shook his head and patted her on the shoulder sympathetically. With a little smile of gratitude, Phoebe held the phone back to her ear and spoke into it to Olga.

"Listen Olga, it's very late, Gerald and I have to get home now. But I'll tell you what, his father is a police officer, so we'll ask him if he could keep an eye out for Helga and for Arnold. I'm very sure they're safe, and they both know martial arts, so they'll be able to defend themselves if they need to, and I know Arnold would never let anything happen to her. Just please calm down, get some sleep, and we'll resume this search in the morning. There isn't much we can do right now."

Olga let out a breathy sob, trying to calm down. "I-I'll try, Phoebe... I-I just hope we can get Helga home in time for breakfast... P-Please notify the police if you can, Daddy went out hours ago to try to find her and he has yet to return..."

"Mind if I talk to her, babe?" Gerald asked her then.

"Oh, sure, Gerald." Phoebe nodded and handed him the phone.

"Miss Pataki, this is Gerald Johanssen, I'm Phoebe's friend, Arnold's my best friend, and I'm Helga's classmate. Like Phoebe said just now, my dad's an officer of the Hillwood City Police, and he's off duty tonight, but I'll give him a call on my way home and ask him if he and his buddies can keep an eye out for Helga and for Arnold overnight, and then see if they find any leads by tomorrow morning. You get a good night's sleep and my dad will call you if anything comes up. You guys just sit tight over there, we'll handle this."

A loud sniffle came from Olga, and then she blew her nose before answering him. "O-Okay... Th-thank you, Gerald. Please find my baby sister and bring her back to me safe and sound..."

Gerald nodded, despite that she couldn't see it. "No problem, Miss Pataki. We'll do our best. Take care now." He then hung up the phone, and then looked sheepishly at Phoebe. "I'll call my dad and have mom come pick us up, okay?"

"All right, Gerald." Phoebe handed him another quarter. "Hopefully by tomorrow we'll get a clue as to where they could be."

"We'll find 'em, Pheebs, don't worry." Gerald assured her. "At least we know they're all right."

Phoebe nodded, holding Gerald's hand tightly as she patiently waited for him to finish talking to his mother on the phone, sometimes glancing up at the dark sky to the moon hanging overhead.

Don't worry Helga, wherever you guys are, we'll get you home soon...

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There had been an awkward silence for the past couple of minutes before the two trapped kids began to talk a bit. Making small talk, for that matter. As strange as it felt, it was actually not so bad. After all, they'd done it before on occasion. Memorably, back on Thanksgiving. Aside from the fact that it had been a pretty lousy Thanksgiving at first, it wasn't until they ran into each other that it had started to actually look up. They'd wandered around the pier and the city for a while, and it was just one of those strange times when they were more like friends than they were...well, bully and victim.

In fact, it was even brought up in their conversation. While at first it was mere small talk, trying to get things going, but now, it was slowly becoming easier to just talk about things together.

"You know, Helga...this kind of reminds me of that time we were spending some of Thanksgiving together." While Arnold's gaze was fixated on the ceiling, he glanced back at Helga to see her looking fairly surprised before she regained her usual composure.

"Can't believe you actually remember that." Helga remarked. "That was some Thanksgiving."

He gave a nod, a little smile coming to his features. "I remember it pretty well, and I guess I never did get to tell you...to be honest, it was the best Thanksgiving I'd ever had. I don't just mean 'normal', since we did have a normal Thanksgiving after I got home. It was great though, and we even threw in fireworks."

"I guess only your crazy ol' Grandma could think of that."

"Yep." Arnold gave a little laugh. "But as great as it was, even if it hadn't turned out that way, the real point of it was to be thankful with what you had, isn't it? No matter what it was."

"Well doi, that's what Mr. Simmons taught us." Helga said. "I mean, you remember his family and friends, not the best people around."

"I remember, and sometimes...well, like you said what Mr. Simmons taught us, the fact we love them and want to be with them is what really matters. So, it was a really good Thanksgiving, it really was. But what I remember most about it is..." He blushed a bit as he said this, looking away from her. "Well, when we were walking around together and actually getting along, like we were friends. I know it might sound weird of me to say, but it's true. It was great that we could spend time together and kind of bond."

Helga's eyebrow shot up to her hairline as he said this, a soft blush marring her cheeks. Did he even realize just what he was doing to her? Did he know how much she wanted to throw her arms around him and kiss him with all she had? To shower the boy with all the love and affection he deserved that she could muster? To show how much it meant to her to hear him say such a thing?

First asking her to the dance, and now this? Openly admitting he'd enjoyed them spending time together back on Thanksgiving? Granted, aside from the lousiness he was feeling about it all, he didn't once say anything about how he disliked having her around. He seemed to be comfortable, enjoying himself even, being around her. That of course, she realized, was because she wasn't treating him like dirt. She was being herself, and because of that, he felt comfortable around her and didn't fear she'd say or do something to bully him. Heck, even with her cynicism toward the holiday, she wasn't acting like her usual self toward him. It had been easy for some reason. Arguably, it was mostly because she didn't have much strength do so, she was too fed up about everything to care. She also had a distraction, the lousiness of the holiday.

But despite that, they really had bonded that day, hadn't they? Not just that, but had formulated a connection even she herself couldn't explain. They were having lousy Holidays, that was all she could use to explain it with.

"You really think that, Arnoldo?" Helga finally said, facing away from him again. "I mean sure we didn't exactly argue at the time, but seriously?"

"Well, yeah, Helga." Arnold replied, looking at her at the corner of his eye. "I really do like to spend time with you... I-I mean, you know, when we put our differences aside and everything." A blush came to his face. "I know that being yourself doesn't always come easy to you because you want to be on your guard and not take lip from anyone, but... well, you don't have to be afraid to be yourself with me, Helga. I'm not going to laugh at you or make you feel inadequate. Besides, you're a really interesting person, and you have a great sense of humour and such a...well, passion for things. Things you like, things you don't like, things you feel strongly about."

Again, her eyebrow shot to her hairline. Did he really think that about her? Well, it was nothing new, of course. Anytime he pointed something out about her, deny it as she would, he was always right on the money. It's like he didn't know her, and yet, in a lot of ways, he did. Helga sat stunned, unsure of how to respond to that. Normally she'd deny it and throw in some sarcastic remarks, but right now, she felt it to be pointless. The cat was out of the bag, and the past few minutes were proving to be a little less about keeping her guard up in front of him.

Taking her silence the wrong way, Arnold immediately rubbed the back of his neck nervously, looking away from her. "I mean...what I'm trying to say Helga, is that I think you're a great person, and it's really good that you can stand up to people and not take lip from them. You're assertive and aggressive about what you feel, liking it or not, and you make sure never to let people forget about it. To be honest, sometimes I...well, wish I had that kind of assertiveness. I'll admit that being forceful isn't what I tend to do, but what I mean is that being assertive enough to get a point across, you know? Frankly all I can do is sound ridiculous when I try. Remember Eugene's birthday, how every time I tried to throw him one and it ended up...well, failing?" He looked relieved as she looked at him and nodded, amused. "Well, I actually got a little aggressive and forceful toward him when I said I was determined to throw him the best birthday ever. And to be honest, looking back, I looked pretty silly. I just can't do it like you can. When you do it, you're intimidating and strong. When I try, I just stun people and look stupid."

Arnold winced a moment, expecting a lash out, or even just a slap on the arm. But it never came. Instead, he heard her starting to laugh a little. Looking back at her, she was stifling her laughter by covering her mouth with her hand. It was obvious she was trying not to burst out laughing. He blinked, unsure of what to make of her reaction. Was she laughing at him? At what he said? What was so funny?

Before he could ponder it further, she answered his question for him.

"Arnold...Arnold...you are one weirdo." Helga managed, taking a few breaths to calm herself. "I can see what you're saying, but frankly, you're off by a few notches. For starters, you're a lot more intimidating that you think! Hello? Are you blind? Okay, let me lay it out for you. You've got me, the angry school bully girl. Everyone's expecting me to get angry, they're all on guard and nervous about it, just waiting for it to happen. And when it does, WHAM!" She slapped her fist into her palm. "They react accordingly, whether or not they're used to it. And now, we have you. The nice guy, the sweetie, the neighbourhood peacemaker. You are the last person ANYONE would ever expect to get angry and aggressive. No one would see it coming. You're not a ticking time bomb. You're that sweet little song bird from a typical Disney movie. When YOU get angry or aggressive, no one sees it coming! You see what I'm saying? With me, they see it coming. Sure they still get intimidated and scared, but they still know to expect it from me! But you? No way! It's even more effective because no one expects it from the nice guy! Come on, remember when you were walking around in a karate gi and you fought off anyone who came near you? Come on, you scared me. Me! And I don't scare easily! You strike fear into people's hearts very unexpectedly. They say that the nicest people can also be the scariest. That's pretty much because no one sees it coming. So think about it, Arnoldo. Again, you have me, the ticking time bomb, and you, the Dinsey song bird. Who do you think is going to be scared of the most when one of us is angry? The one they expect it from? Or the one they don't expect it from? You're that jump-inducing, startling moment in a horror movie no one expects; unexpected and very effective, no one sees it coming. I'm the monster or serial killer in the movie; scary and chilling all the while, but expected."

Arnold blinked, taking in what she was saying. Not only was she proving a pretty valid point, now that he thought about it, but she was actually having fun with it. Freely talking about her point of view of the matter, without being insulting or demeaning, but actually talking about it like anyone would with a pal. It hit him then, they were interacting, talking to each other like they were friends. Actually having something to think about beyond their dilemma. And intellectually, no less. There was nothing forced or deceitful about Helga then. She was pretty much being as close to "being herself" as she could be.

He exhaled, watching her for a moment as she looked back at him expectantly, obviously waiting for him to say something about it.

Shifting a bit from where he sat, he cleared his throat to busy himself a moment as he turned toward her. "Yeah...I guess that makes sense, Helga. I never thought of it that way before."

"Didn't think so." Helga knocked on his head lightly with her fist. "Sometimes it's up to someone else to lay it on ya, let it sink into your little football head." Her hand lingered there a moment, her fingers uncurling and brushing against his hair.

"Whatever you say, Helga."

"Darn right. Whatever I say, and don't you forget it."

Their eyes met, blue meeting green. Arnold felt a strange shiver as her hand touched his hair, combing her fingers through the golden strands. He felt his breathing gradually slowing, his gaze fixated on the girl before him. A binding force seemed to be pulling him in, keeping him there. He couldn't speak, there was nothing coming out of his mouth. His legs were turning to jelly, he couldn't move. What was going on? Everything seemed to be raining down in realization. Helga loved him, a lot more than he could have ever imagined. They were going to the dance tomorrow night, together. They were trapped in an elevator, alone, with no kind of interruption or escape available.

Now his heart was pounding a million miles a minute, his cheeks were getting hot, and shivers were running up and down his pine, his insides warming up and freezing at the same time. What was happening...why was he feeling this way? How was she having an effect on him that he couldn't even come close to formulating an explanation for? Was it because of the situation at hand? Every thing else in between?

Her hand remained where it was, gently combing her fingers through his hair, and neither of them moved nor said a word. They just looked at each other, neither of them knowing how long it had been. A minute? Five minutes? ...An hour? Time itself seemed to have no effect on either of them.

Helga felt it too, and inwardly a part of her was screaming for her to snap out of it and get away, but for once, she ignored it. They were alone, no one to see or even hear them, trapped with no escape, and he didn't seem opposed to what she was doing. He only stared back at her in amazement, curiosity, and something else she couldn't comprehend. It took her a moment to realize they were getting a little closer to one another.

A little closer.

Arnold leaned a bit more toward her.

Helga leaned a bit more toward him.

He leaned closer.

She leaned closer.

Before either of them could think, realize what they were doing, stop themselves, or even blink...

Their lips slowly met.

Their lips touched like that, simply and faintly for a moment or two more…and then delicately released…

Blue still locked into green, just like before…

Neither one of them blinked.

"I love you…" It was out of Helga's mouth in a whisper before she could reconsider, her face still a palette of shock and her eyes still wide…her head barely able to process what had just happened.

"…I know…" came Arnold's barely whispered reply, and he was likewise still looking surprised and just a little terrified.

'He…knows…?'

Helga wasn't sure what to make of that reply…of that confirmation of the fact that he knew and by extension accepted that she loved him…and what it meant for what had just happened…

But on a side note…

Arnold had just kissed her.

She took in a very deep breath. 'Oh boy…' She awaited whatever he'd say next.

She was going to have to wait at least a few more seconds though as Arnold was still processing the fact that his heart was pounding like crazy, his insides were twisting and twirling in warmth, and his lips had an almost tingling, cool sensation upon them from having touched Helga's moist ones like that just now (a fact which was just plain making his head spin as he took it in). 'We…I…we kissed and I… Why do I feel like this…like I…I feel like if she ever touched me again it would make me just…explode or something! But…also…it would feel…I mean…'

He took a second to let how it would feel wash over him a little…and then felt himself blush brightly when it did!

The sight of Arnold blushing like that, meanwhile, made Helga blush brightly now as well…And in turn the sight of her doing that only made Arnold's heart pound all the more.

'If she touched me, I…' he hesitated for just a second in the thought…until he felt it progress in a strange way. 'Or if I…if I touched…'

Another moment of silence.

Then at the sight of her beloved suddenly, slowly, hesitantly lifting up one of his hands, Helga felt everything in her body lock up in a single instant. She didn't blink, didn't breathe, didn't move a single muscle…and slowly but surely (despite how certain she was that it just COULDN'T be happening) Arnold's hand reached up before her, paused once more for just a second, and then finally it shifted to the side just a little…and the next thing she knew her insides were on fire at the feeling of one of his fingers suddenly touching one of her pigtails…and gently almost entwining a thick piece or two of hair around it.

Meanwhile, feeling Helga's hair twist once around his finger, Arnold suddenly felt his breath catch in his throat and instantly pulled his arm back, almost like it had burned to touch her or something…which wasn't far from the truth…

He swallowed, and then had to admit to himself that, well…he hadn't been sure if it was going to work but…it had. The feeling of touching Helga had made him practically burn with heat inside just like the feeling of her touching him did…only, well…it was stronger if that was possible.

And now she was still just looking at him with those wide blue eyes…after he'd just touched her soft blond hair…and her face was about a million times brighter pink than that color she always wore. And all he could think was…if he kissed her again…feeling what he was sure he felt now…would it burn too?

A strong compulsion instantly came over him to find out…

And so Arnold shifted just a little closer to the girl before him, no longer trying to reason his way out of this whole thing. He was feeling something and he just…just wanted to see what it might…how it might…

He shut himself up and let himself finish moving just a little closer…

Helga instantly gave a small shift back as his advance processed with her, looking petrified… 'What is he…What the heck is he doing?'

The boy before her only shifted a little closer though, now upon his hands and knees, crawling toward her.

She fell backward a little only to feel, with a cool thud, her back hit the wall of the elevator behind her. She just plastered herself against it, still not blinking, still paralyzed in fear and uncertainty…

Arnold moved the last few inches toward her, then sat up on his knees…and then shifted his head forward, moving his lips within a lips distance of hers. "Helga…" he whispered, his eyes never leaving hers. He swallowed in absolute fear.

She didn't say anything back to him but the sudden addition of a glint of curiosity in her terrified gaze told him she had heard his address. He took a deep (slightly shaky) breath and continued. "I'm going to…" he began in explanation, "I'm going to try something, so that I can see something…if it's okay with you."

She still didn't say anything but she hadn't said no. And so…

Arnold picked up his arms and then rested them gently, warmly on Helga's shoulders, angled his head just slightly to the side, took in a deep breath, closed his eyes…and let himself move forward and kiss Helga again.

It…burned…like…crazy!

And he just let out a sigh through his nose as he let it go on…because it wasn't so bad, that burning feeling…in fact it was…well…

Well, he'd sort that out later. The bottom line was that (as he'd thought to himself before with that bright blush when all of those new feelings about being close to her had fully, actively washed over him for the first time) it was something GOOD…

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Helga was…at the moment…feeling a little, uh…

Well, there were these tremors going through her entire body, her shoulders underneath a certain person's hands were currently searing, and there was just plain something utterly paralyzing about how it felt to have Arnold's soft, ideal, one of a kind lips crushing against and melting into and shifting upon her own. Her heart beat like mad! Her thoughts weren't doing so well either—they were clouded and mixed, and nothing inside of her could move and nothing outside of her could move and yet she felt something that begged a struggle within herself…

But still, he was kissing her…maybe she should just enjoy it… Yeah, after all…she'd had to go through MONTHS of him faking like nothing had ever happened between them (except of course for that stupid April Fool's tango) so why not just enjoy him suddenly acting again lik—

And then she recalled the exact nature of that struggle she knew should be there and she finally let her reason break through her shock and love and emotion enough to do something about it…

*Smack!*

"OW!

And now both children were still upon the floor, still panting heavily, still blushing like crazy…but finally with several feet of distance between them… (oh and did we mention that Arnold had a pretty obvious red hue to it).

Helga, eyes wide and chest heaving, just took the next few seconds to do her best to find her way back to the land of coherent thought…and then suddenly she shook her head as though to clear it and instantly a dark scowl came to her eyes. "Who the HECK do you think you ARE, you…you….!" She glared right at Arnold, seething!

"Huh?" was all Arnold could come up with in his blinking, blushing confusion, continuing to rub the side of his face still.

"Who…how…What do you think you're…Grr!" She stumbled over her words, her indignation was so great (and it wasn't helping to frustrate her any less that despite her anger she was still blushing like crazy). "WHO said you could TOUCH me? WHO, huh?" she finally decided upon.

Arnold just continued to look at her in confusion, now sitting up a bit more and still fixated upon her angry, scowling form… (And…kind of sort of, well…wanting that moment she'd just interrupted back, let's say…) "Uh…?"

Helga rolled her eyes and growled once again at his continued confusion, and did her best to keep her anger going as fiercely as possible so that she wouldn't collapse like a total emotional wreck in front of him or something (which she was seriously on the edge of doing at this point, by the way). "HEL-LO!" She threw her arms up in the air. "What gives you the right to just up and do what you just did to me, Football Head? Tell me that!" She lowered her fists to her sides. "What, just because you decided NOW—NOW after months of just sweeping things under the rug—that YOU just get to up and kiss me because the 'poor, little, confused Football Head' needs to 'see something'?" She was breathing heavily as she finally concluded, "Just like with that stupid April Fools dance! You got to pretend like everything was just how it's always been for a week or two and then on a WHIM that night decided to just shift everything around ENTIRELY for your own stupid, selfish reasons!"

And now she stood, and she was still fuming of course… She approached Arnold as she continued speaking, and his reaction was to fall back a little on his elbows and proceed to back up from her in fear and confusion at wherever she was going with this. "Well guess what! Helga G. Pataki is NOT just going to sit here patiently 'on hold' waiting for the next time you'll 'do me the honor' of throwing me a bone just to 'see something'. I'm in love but I still have a spine you little jerk! And I don't let anybody use me, including you! You got that!"

And now Arnold's back was the one to hit a wall this time, causing him to sit up a little as he did so, still just watching her with wide eyes from the floor.

Helga just stood before him, towering over him…but though she was maintaining a scowl Arnold almost felt a sadness pierce through him as it couldn't help but also look like she was trying not to…not to cry or something. 'I…I really mean that much to her…?'

Helga interrupted his thought by scoffing and rolling her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest and continuing her rant. "Enough's enough, lover boy. I'm taking charge of this little situation we've got going on between us before you and your stupid inability to just GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FEELINGS ALREADY just plain kills me!"

And then suddenly (and to Arnold's continued heart pounding anxiety), she suddenly bent down, reached forward, grabbed him by the collar and stood him up, plastering his back against the wall. Before he could speak, or blink or even really breathe though…

She looked him right in the eye.

And then spoke.

"I love you, Arnold. You don't hate me because you could never hate anybody…but you don't love me back. You're just confused but I hope laying it out like that for you makes it all pretty clear. So…goodbye." And then she closed her eyes and swallowed and a genuine look of absolute sadness washed over her…before she summed up her courage to do the last thing she had to do… And then she went forward and planted a passionate kiss right upon his lips! (The last one she was ever planning to give to him ever, at this point, so she figured she might as well make it good.)

Meanwhile, good was, uh…well, it was a positive word and this was a positive experience so it could probably be used to acceptably describe how it was feeling for Arnold to have her do this to him…

But at the same time the word 'good' didn't really capture the atmosphere of the sudden electricity pumping through his body, the feeling like his knees were going to completely give out from under him at any second, or of course how crazily, insanely…undeniably pleasurable her mouth kissing him felt. Every sense in his body was at maximum and spiraling out of control, and…where the heck was he again? Her hands then suddenly moved up a bit and pulled through his hair for a moment and he…really it had just plain made him shiver…and he wished and hoped she'd do it again before—

The sound of lips smacking and the feeling of his lips having the cool, tingling, just-freshly-separated-from-another-person'-mouth sensation made a little disappointment come over him as he realized that the hair thing wouldn't be happening again… And then his eyes went wide as this desire of his fully processed with him now that the kiss was no longer consuming ever fiber of his being. 'I like this…I love this, I…I…I…'

Helga, meanwhile, was currently standing before him and just taking a deep breath or two (and blushing like crazy) to regain herself after all of that. And then before Arnold could speak and maybe talk her out of the decision she'd just made because she was such a sucker for him and his denseness and his reasoning, she stood up straight and crossed her arms over her chest and then announced very simply and finally, "And now we're not going to talk about this 'I love you' thing anymore ever. I won't bring it up and even if YOU do I just won't respond. That's the new plan—NOT just waiting for you to drop the bomb as it's convenient for you. Hmph!"

And then she turned on her heel, walked across to the opposite end of the elevator, and turned back around and sat herself upon the floor, looking in any direction but at the boy across from her.

A second or two of silence passed and Helga was seriously considering another nap after all of that…and how much it had taken out of her both physically…and emotionally…

"You're…wrong…"

She closed her eyes tight and took in a sharp breath and did her best not to let her anger take over again. 'Just ignore him…he'll shut up in a little while if you just ignore…'

"I don't…not…love you…"

Helga's eyes shot over to Arnold on instinct just as everything locked up and at the same time came undone in one perfect instant inside of her. She didn't move now, she didn't want to take any chances…And besides she had no idea how to respond to that…she wasn't even really sure what it meant anyway…

He was just sitting there, blushing furiously, and looking more distressed than she'd ever seen him look as he just sat there hugging his knees to his chest, his eyes cast downward and definitely not at her as his arms gripped each other.

Silence continued for several seconds.

Then…

"You have five seconds to explain to me what the heck that means before I go right back to my new plan of ignoring you, you little shrimp." Her voice was simple and level but firm. She meant business. "NOW!"

Arnold took in a sharp breath at the sound of that command, his eyes suddenly coming to hers again. He swallowed hard and did his best to speak honestly and without fear. "I…feel…funny when I'm…around you…A-and when we t-touch, it…it almost kind of b-b-burns a little and I…" He was consumed by blushing. "And I…want to…want to k-kiss you a-again…"He swallowed very hard and did his best to maintain enough courage for his conclusion, knowing full well she deserved a straight answer after all the unfair stuff he really had been putting her through. "So…I…" he let out a breath, "I think that means that I 'don't not love you…'"

Helga's jaw simply dropped.

Arnold waited…

And then his nerves got the better of him. "Helga?" he had to ask in a high pitched, anxious voice…on the edge of his seat for what she'd do or say next.

He was surprised to say the least when instead of saying anything she simply, slowly began to shift toward him…and then to crawl toward him.

He stiffened up and waited for whatever would happen…

Helga stopped within about a foot of him and sat upon her knees before him. She eyed him a little strangely…Then she slowly reached forward and brushed her hand against the back of his cheek. The sudden shock of her action (and of course the fact that it was her touch upon him) made heat quickly rush to his face and his breath noticeably catch in his throat.

At the feeling of Arnold's skin heating up instantly under the mere touch of her hand and hearing that strange way it made his breath stop, Helga pulled back her arm in a flash and felt her heart practically cease in shock. 'He…he's not kidding… He's…crimeny he's got feelings for me, hasn't he?' ''

Helga took in a very deep breath, and then let out a very deep breath.

She then shifted herself so that she was now sitting beside Arnold with her back against the same wall his back was against. He wasn't looking at her…hadn't even tried to ever since that touch of her hand to his face.

The kids just sat in silence for a few seconds, each lost in their own thoughts.

"Sorry if I hurt you when I hit you, Arnold…" Helga eventually said quietly.

"Sorry if I made you, um…uncomfortable by, um…kissing you like that…" Arnold replied back, even more quietly.

Helga finally cracked a smile and let out a chuckle for the first time in quite a few minutes. She then gave Arnold a small punch in the shoulder, all of which surprised him to say the least. "Hey, at least it proved my point…" she just shrugged, "Aggressive you is definitely a powerhouse of unexpectedness."

And now Arnold finally had to crack a smile too. (oh and did we mention that Arnold had a pretty obvious red handprint upon one of his cheeks).

"Okay, okay, all joking aside... Forget about it, I can't exactly hold a grudge against you for that, can I?"

"Well, um...in a way it was kind of out of-"

"Cool your jets, I get it." She held up a hand to silence the boy before her. "What we need to do is know where we're going with this.

"...Huh? What do you mean?" He asked, genuinely confused.

Again Helga knocked his head lightly with her fist. "Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Think Football Head, think! I'm talking about this! You obviously have feelings for me, and well, how I feel goes without saying. So here's what we're gonna do. It's late now, we're both tired and pretty drained from everything. We'll sleep on it, and see where the heck we're going with this tomorrow. We're still going to that dance, doi, but for now, let's sleep on it, they'll probably find us tomorrow morning when the place opens up, anyway. Then we'll go this dance like you earlier requested that we do so. Then maybe your little football head will process exactly what's going on and piece it all together, and know where to go from there. Is that clear?"

Gulping lightly, Arnold nodded. "O-Okay... I think that's a good idea, Helga."

"Good boy." Her hand dropped to her side. "...You know, um, thanks, Arnold."

"Um...you're welcome, but, what for?"

"Doi, for being straight with me for once. Jeez, it's about darn time!"

"Oh! Oh, yeah, sorry. I guess I...I...well, I was pretty confused about how I felt and I didn't want to give a clear answer until I knew for sure about how I felt. And you know, I'm sorry I was...always sending mixed signals, especially now. So thank you too, for you know, I guess motivating me to just come out with it and say something." The blonde boy looked away then, blushing a bit more, his hand falling to the floor, unwittingly landing on top of hers. "I know this might sound crazy, but...well, I'm glad we got stuck in this elevator."

"Huh? You're...glad?" Helga's jaw dropped, and not just over what he'd said, but also his hand coming to land on hers. And the fact he hadn't moved it away. "You're glad we're stuck in this elevator with no place to run or hide to, possibly stuck for days, with no food, no water, and no...well, anything sufficient that we need! We could die in here and you're glad we-"

"That's not it." Arnold said patiently. "I mean, if it were up to us, we'd have avoided being alone with each other until high school. But, well, I guess somehow this elevator was used to give us a push, a push to...talk about things between us, and have a place to do it uninterrupted and with no escape. I know it's crazy, and being trapped like this really is no picnic, but...well, in a way, it helped."

Needless to say, Helga was, once again, stunned. Not that him looking at the bright side of any situation was anything new, but the fact that he took this as something of a helping blessing instead of a nightmare of being forced to own up to every thing he was feeling inside. Heck, even every little thing SHE herself was feeling inside. It was as if they were on the Titanic! Something beautiful and wondrous, but coming with a price, the price of disaster.

She gulped silently, hoping that THIS wouldn't be met with disaster.

Then again, they were only trapped between the first and second floor, odds are, if the wires of the elevator snapped, they wouldn't have very far to go down, and would cause very little to no damage at all, thankfully.

And it wasn't 1912 with no proper, contemporary technology, either.

"So you're saying, this stupid disaster within a disaster is a blessing in disguise? Wow...you sure took looking on the bright side to a new level there, Football Head."

Arnold looked sheepish and looked away, rubbing his cheek with his other hand.

"But I guess I can't blame you for being you, and thinking about the big picture, I guess." Helga shrugged. "One of the things I love about you, so you-...oh, shut up."

Glancing at her at the corner of his eye, he cracked a smile once more. "Well Helga, that's one of the things I really like about you too."

"Huh? Um, yeah, Arnold...care to elaborate? You do seem to forget that I'm not a mind-reader. My eyes don't suddenly become magic mind-reading optics, so you might want to put those thoughts of yours into words."

"You being you. I mean...you know, really you. When you're being yourself. When you're just being you, well, it's great to see you being yourself, whatever it may be. Like I said before, the fact that you can be aggressive, yet in an assertive manner, and still be soft and warm at the same time. Most people are just one or the other, it's not often you find someone who's..." He paused, thinking of the right words. "Able to stand up for herself, and yet still have a big heart. And to know what you want. You know, when you stood up even to me like that earlier...okay, I won't lie, I was scared...but, it just proves that you know what you want and you're willing to stand up to anyone, even me, to get it. Even if it means to have to do something you know you won't like so much. I know it could've been hard to just push everything away. You were showing your true colours there in standing up to my stupid denseness like that. And I..." His gaze lowered. "I'm still sorry about that, I don't know what came over me."

"I forgave you for that, don't worry about it. Yeesh, you get a little too guilty for your own good, ya know. Come on, I'm not that heartless."

"I know, but... It still, like you said, made me come off as just throwing you a bone for my own stupid, selfish reasons. You were right, I was being an idiot. Like on April Fool's Day."

"Okay, okay, stop. Just stop. You like being stood up to? Fine, I'll do it again."

Before he could answer, she stood up, and jabbed her finger into his nose. Not hard, just applying enough pressure.

"Number one, I was a little angry and I wanted to make things perfectly clear with you, Arnoldo. So I knew I had to stand up to you because hey, I wasn't about to be pushed around or used as a throw pillow. And maybe I was a little too harsh, but-"

"No, you had all the right to be angry at-"

"Let me finish. What I meant was, I jumped to the conclusion of the situation a little too...literally, you'd say. Maybe you weren't being straight with me, but I was jumping the gun a bit too fast, too. Either way, it was a good thing I did that, though. You needed it, and heck, even I needed it! Number two, I meant what I said, and I know YOU did too, so you don't need to apologize for that. Number three, you are belittling yourself because of a mistake you made. Come on, you always say to everyone it's normal to make mistakes, and that all you can do is learn from them. You made a mistake, even without bad intentions, plain and simple. I'm not gonna go on and on and on about it and make you feel stupid, jeez. You made a mistake, I called you out on it, you apologized, and even learned from it too, so there you go, it's over. Done. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah! So quit moping about it, I forgive you, and we've got it all out on the table, just as I wanted and just as you needed. I was angry, yes, and you were guilty of something, yes, but it's not a freaking life sentence. So buck up and stop feeling sorry for yourself! Even someone like the President makes mistakes! You've made mistakes, and there hasn't been one mistake that I didn't see you learn from and try to work out for the better, even if not as you planned. Come on Arnold, not a lot of people would even come CLOSE to admitting they made a mistake! And that's my next point. You owned up to your mistake, apologized for it and learned from it, like I said. And doi, I love you for it. So again, quit moping and move on. It's over. You get it now? You gonna stop moping?"

Blinking as he let her words sink in, staring at her finger cross-eyed for a moment, and then looking up at her, he gave a nod.

"You needed a wake-up call, you need a push, so, that mistake served its purpose for you." She sat back down next to him.

"...Like you said, you're in love, but you have a spine. And, well, to be honest Helga, that's pretty admirable. Not a lot of people would stand up to someone they love like that." More blush. "I mean... People sometimes think that standing up to them makes themselves look bad somehow."

"Well doi, being in love is complicated! But whatever, you've made your point, I made my point, we're done here. We cool?"

"Of course, Helga."

They looked at each other a moment, and gave a smile, before looking away.

"So...guess this means we should go to sleep now, huh? It's late, who-knows-what time now. Morning should come faster if we go to sleep." Helga stretched her arms and moved to crawl away to give him space to nap, but Arnold took hold of her hand.

"Wait, Helga...before we go to sleep again, I just wanted you to know one thing."

"...What? What do you mean? What else could there possibly be for me to know by now?"

"Well," Arnold looked down again, blushing considerably. "What I said just now, about how I...well, don't not love you, it's not just that, I really...really really like you, a lot. ...A lot more than as a friend...but not just that either." He stood up then, and paced the elevator, slowly, concentrating. "Ever since you...well, confessed you loved me, on the rooftop of the FTi building, I've felt...different, around you. I know we established it was in the 'heat of the moment', but I know that wasn't the case. That's...well, love bordering on obsession. It's not that I didn't believe you, I did, to be honest. I knew you were telling the truth. I didn't for a split second, considering you always acted as if you hated me. But that's not what I mean, either. What I mean is, it was quite a big step for me to take. To go from just a simple crush to...well, love. Love really is something I try not to throw out lightly, and I'm not at all saying you do, no way. What I mean is, I wanted to be sure how I clearly felt about you, whether I...felt the same way or not, before I told you. Not just that, it all hit me like a ton of bricks, I couldn't think or process it at the time. I guess you noticed I didn't reject you, right?"

"Well yeah, you could've said 'I don't like you', or whatever." It was a miracle she could talk after what he was saying. It was...something.

"Right, well, I couldn't do that because that wasn't the truth." Arnold paced around again in a circle, his hands behind his back. "I also couldn't just say I...felt the same way, I didn't know if I did, out of nowhere without thinking about it first, that wouldn't have been like me. Everything about it shocked me, threw me for a loop, and so I wanted to give you time to regain yourself and for me to think about it. I'm just...sorry I wasn't straight with you about it, again. But now you know I have feelings for you now."

Helga said nothing, instead, she stood up, and walked over to where he was now standing, having stopped pacing just moments ago. They just stood there, looking at one another, in utter silence. Her head tilted slightly downward, his head titled slightly upward.

How long had it been? Was she letting his words sink in? Was she going to...dare he think it, do something rash?

"Love bordering on obsession, huh? Well you're half-right. It's not bordering, Football Head. It IS an obsession. I'm a basket case, okay? And if we're gonna be together like this, you'll have to get used to it."

A thought struck him then. "Wait, Helga...you said you wrote poems, right?"

"Well doi, I did. Why do you-"

"And shrines...? What did you mean by that?"

"Okay okay, one thing at a time here, hair boy!" Helga cut him off, turning bright red. "L-Let's take it slow...c-can't get every single thing out on the table in one night, heh heh...yeah..."

Helga stepped back, nervously tugging at her collar, and glanced up at Arnold hesitantly…and then to her surprise couldn't help but feel the tiniest bit of guilt come over her at the slight look of disappointment that suddenly befell his face at her refusal to elaborate.

"Oh…" Arnold said with more than a bit of dejection in his tone. "Of course… I mean…" He looked to her sincerely. "I don't want to make you do anything you're not ready to do Helga. If you don't want to talk about it all now then we don't have to." He smiled at her. "We can just go to sleep for now and then maybe sometime after we get out of here we can talk about it if you want to…" He swallowed as he sat back down upon the floor, and looked away shyly as he added, "You know just like we're giving it a little time before we talk about my, um…feelings…and, uh…us…"

Helga blinked…and then just sat down on the floor in front of him, a smile on her face. "Uh, thanks, Arnold…I mean…" She rolled her eyes and half grinned at him. "That's pretty decent of you for a football head." She let out a small chuckle that was actually closer to a giggle, Arnold couldn't help but notice with interest.

After absorbing that nice laugh he blinked once or twice and then finally just smiled at her, trying not to blush or anything. "You're welcome, Helga." And then, randomly enough, now that things really did seem to be winding down and the tension did seem to be easing up since he had finally just admitted to the girl in front of him that he was starting to have feelings for her, Arnold found himself yawning and then blinking a few times in sleepiness. After all it had been a pretty full day to say the least.

His eyes went wide though at the sudden presence of Helga by his side, smiling at him just a little more now that she had shifted over toward him like that. "Wow, you really are sleepy, aren't you, Arnold?" He couldn't help but feel his heart skip a beat or two at how kind and genuine her voice sounded right now in regards to him.

Arnold swallowed and did his best to reply as casually as possible. "Oh, um…yeah…I guess so…" He felt another yawn almost coming on but suppressed it…because something about that way she was looking at him right now and that near giggle she'd just given all because he seemed about to nod off was just too much to take in at the moment…Like she thought it was cute that he was tired or something… And the idea of her thinking he was cute in any way sent this weird shiver through him that he just couldn't really deal with while still involved in their current elevator predicament. 'But still…' he couldn't help adding as an afterthought, 'it's also kind of a…kind of a nice feeli—'

The sound of Helga letting a breath…and then swallowing and speaking up broke Arnold from his interesting thoughts. "Hey…Arnold?"

He blinked once and then glanced at her. "Yes, Helga?"

She was looking down shyly, nervously, clasping her hands together, and he became even more intrigued. "Um…could I…" she began, "Well I mean, since it's a little cold in here and since we, uh… 'made up' a little, and, um…since this place is so small we'd probably end up that way anyway…" 'Come on, Helga—he basically just admitted he's got a crush on you. Just ASK already!' She swallowed and finally went for it. "Could I, um…maybe…sleep on the same side of the elevator as you?" She continued to not look at him as she finished this request, (blushing completely by the way).

To his interest and surprise, Arnold felt something twist inside of him at the request… Something warm and spark-like that made his heart beat intensely for a second. With a swallow though (not wanting to get caught up in blushing and silence like he had before) he finally he got a bit of his nervousness under control and gave a small smile in her direction.

He watched as Helga just continued to sit there, staring down at her twiddling thumbs and awaiting whatever response he'd give to the potentially too intimate request. 'He's gonna be uncomfortable with this…I knew I should have just shifted closer to him after he fell asleep. I mean, so he has 'feelings' for me…doesn't mean he fantasizes about sleeping curled in each other's arms forever and ever like I do on a regular basis…'

Helga let out a small sigh at the very logical argument about why Arnold was probably about to politely tell her off, and continued to wait for him to do so.

Suddenly though she felt her heart stop as, instead, she felt Arnold clasp one of her hands.

Her eyes flew open and turned in his direction to see her beloved proceeding to lay down upon the elevator floor…and pulling her along with him with a smile.

Helga instantly slipped down a bit and was now upon the floor propped up on the elbow of the arm the hand of which Arnold was still holding (and she still looked confused and terrified, by the way, and was also blushing insanely at this point).

Arnold just smiled up at her with that perfect half lidded gaze. "Helga, just so you know…you can sleep anywhere you want to…any WAY you want to…okay?" He glanced away and a bit more of a blush came into his face. "Even…just like we were before…" And with his last bit of courage he gave her hand a small squeeze and then closed his eyes, smiling just a bit more. His wide head rested upon his free arm curled beneath it.

Helga felt everything inside of her just plain melt. 'He…it's okay if I…if I sleep right next to him like this…holding hands? Just like when we woke up before. He…he likes me enough that he's letting me do…Oh…Oh Arnold…' She closed her eyes and felt total joy wash over her. Still she had to keep up the game of sarcasm just a little and so she added with an obvious smile before succumbing to a yawn herself. "Whatever floats your boat, Football Head…and in that case, I GUESS I could just sleep right here near you…and you know, hold your hand or whatever if you're scared about being in here or something…" She laid down more fully, closing her eyes with a smile.

Arnold's only response was the release of a very content sigh from his nose as he began to let himself drift off as well. "Goodnight, Helga…"

She felt totally at peace, and smiled just a bit more to herself. "Goodnight, Arnold."

Soft silence.

"Arnold?"

"Mmm hmm…?"

"Sometimes…when I feel a lot of, uh… 'things' about…um…you…I sort of work them out by writing poems…That's what I meant about writing poems about you."

Another moment of silence during which Helga (still with her eyes closed) tensed up completely for whatever response he would gi—

"Thanks, Helga…"

Her eyes flew open in surprise, only to be met with Arnold's warm, open eyes looking at her thoughtfully. "Could I…" he blushed a little, "Could I read some, someday?"

Helga blinked, then blushed furiously once again. "Hey, uh…didn't I say something about not getting every single thing out on the table in one night, Football Head? Heh, heh…"

Arnold gave a small chuckle, then yawned and closed his eyes again. "Of course…Sorry, Helga…"

She smiled a little and felt her eyes droop shut once more. "Ah, don't mention it…And…you're welcome, Arnold."

The two kids each let out deep, content breaths, and began to finally drift off…

XXXX

"Well, I guess this is all we can do now that my Dad's on the case…" Gerald sighed as he and Phoebe got off the city bus in front of a familiar boarding house. "Let Arnold's Grandpa know what we've found out, and then head home and hope someone finds Arnold and Helga by morning…" He proceeded up Arnold's stoop, looking to his still troubled companion.

Phoebe nodded her head as she headed up just behind him. "Yes, I suppose that is indeed all we can do for now…I just wish Helga's pager hadn't died…" She let out a worried sigh, a small frown continuing to be present upon her face.

Gerald put a hand on her shoulder and did his best to smile to brighten her mood. "Hey, babe, don't worry—look, Helga said they were totally fine, just stuck somewhere. And it was probably really close to the mall too since they never made it back here after they left… And besides, at least they're not alone. I mean, even if it is Arnold and Helga and they don't exactly get along, at least they have each other. What could happen?"

Gerald had expected his little supportive speech to melt the frown from Phoebe's face…he hadn't expected it to suddenly bring a serious smirk to her lips, almost like she found something really, really funny in what he said.

He raised an eyebrow. "Phoebe?"

She blinked, seeming to come out of a thought, and looked to him with a slight blush. "Oh, um…Sorry, Gerald…" She cleared her throat, hoping he hadn't noticed too much her more than amused reaction to the idea of what Helga could POSSIBLY find to do alone with Arnold that had popped into her head courtesy of his last question. "I was just preoccupied for a moment. I think all of your points are indeed quite valid though." She smiled just a bit more shyly and glanced away. "Thank you for comforting me, Gerald."

Gerald blushed a little and pulled his hand away from her shoulder, rubbing the back of his neck. "Oh, uh…no problem, Babe."

The two kids stood in awkward, adorable silence for a second or two more until Gerald suddenly recalled why they were standing on the boarding house stoop in the first place. He turned to the door, cleared his throat and gave a knock or two.

The door was quickly answered by a familiar old man. "Oh Shortman, is that y—" Phil's face instantly fell a little at the sight of two of his grandson's friends instead of his grandson on the stoop before him. "Oh, hello kids—any luck finding young Arnold yet?" He stepped aside to allow the two children to enter.

Gerald and Phoebe quickly stepped inside and Gerald shook his head, shutting the door behind them. "No, sorry, Phil. I talked to my dad though and he's got the whole police force out looking for them. But we just wanted to stop by before heading home and let you know that we did get a message from Helga's pager a little while ago and it said her and Arnold were safe but just stuck somewhere, but it died before we could read where they are."

Phoebe nodded. "Yes, Mr. Arnold's Grandpa…It sounds like they're fine…they're just lost or something to that effect for now."

Phil's look of worry continued for another moment…but then to Gerald and Phoebe's surprise…a strange smile came to his face. "Now wait a minute…" he put his hands on his hips, "Is Helga the little blonde one with the pink bow and the one eyebrow?"

Gerald and Phoebe raised eyebrows, looked to each other, then looked back to Phil and gave a nod each.

Phil maintained for a second longer…and then suddenly burst into jovial laughter.

Now Gerald and Phoebe were REALLY confused…

Phil took a breath and wiped a tear from his eye. "You kids should have told me that in the first place! Heh, heh!" He straightened up a it. "Oh boy, and here I am thinking Shortman's really lost somewhere with just a regular one of your friends, but it's different if he's trapped with HER…Probably just the thing he needs, actually…" He added this last part as an afterthought, putting a hand to his chin….and then got this look on his face like he was reminiscing a little. "Yes sir, nothing out of the ordinary or too dangerous about being trapped for a while with a girl you—"

"General, I've returned from the reconnaissance mission!"

This sudden announcement from a fully dressed in black, cork-still-under-her-eyes Gertie as she stepped into the hall from the kitchen caused all eyes to turn to her. She was just standing there, smiling proudly, saluting.

Phil let out a sigh and rolled his eyes. "At ease for a minute, Pookie—just let me finish talking to the kids." He smiled and turned back to Gerald and Phoebe. "Now listen you two, I wouldn't worry too much about Arnold and Helga if they're with each other… Something tells me a little time trapped somewhere together won't exactly kill them. And you said they're safe, right? And that the police are searching for them? So I'm sure this'll all be better by the morning…" He turned back to his wife for support. "Right, Pookie?"

Gertie nodded, smiling brightly. "Right, General. They'll be more than fine in that mall elevator until daybreak! Checked the cables and wiring myself—nothing more than a ten minute repair and a five foot drop at most!" And with an enthusiastic nod she turned back in the direction of the kitchen. "I'm just going to make some sandwiches to bring to them since they missed dinner. Don't wait up! HA HA HA HA HA HA!"

And with that she was gone from the room, laughing crazily to herself.

Silence.

Dropped jaws.

Wide eyes.

Finally Phil just let out a very deep sigh, rubbing his temple. "Gerald, you call your Dad, Phoebe, you go keep an eye on Arnold's grandma and make sure she doesn't sneak out a window or something, and I'll get the keys and warm up the Packard…Let's meet outside in ten minutes, okay?"

Without hesitation, the two kids nodded and went to their respective tasks as Phil went to his.