A/N: Heylo. Welp, I haven't written much Arnold subconsciously being in love with Helga for a while now, so I decided to write up a quick One-Shot about it, for comedic purposes, and because it just came to me, begging to be written. So here it is.

Disclaimer: I don't own "Hey Arnold!"

Harder Than You Think


Being dense is hard work.

Arnold knows this better than anyone. He lives his carefree life day by day, struggling with keeping himself in the dark. But sometimes it's hard, and he feels like maybe he's not really dense anymore... just in denial. But he doesn't want that. He wants to keep himself oblivious; he wants to stay dense; he wants to stay in the dark... just a little longer...

But it's hard.

Whenever she walks into the room, his heart skips a beat, but he tries to ignore the reaction. Whenever HE walks into a room he knows she's in, he tries his hardest to keep his eyes from automatically snapping to her own crystal blue, because he knows she's watching him. He has to struggle against staring at her all through class, and it's hard to keep her out of his mind, and sometimes he might forget he's supposed to be dense about it and he leans over to maybe sniff her hair, or maybe even reach out a hand to touch her, just to see her reaction, and because maybe he might like to have her scent on him for a change.

It's hard to ignore all the spit balls, and it's hard to try and forget that he can feel her eyes burning into the back of his head all through class, and keeping that blank, oblivious look on his face when Mr. Simmons reads those love poems in class. It's hard to ignore all the dazed looks she gives him when he helps her up after crashing into her, and even more difficult to ignore the spark that he feels when her hand touches his. It's hard not to daydream about her, or doodle her name on his homework, and to not blush when Gerald accuses him of liking her, just because he insists so often that there's good in her. It's hard to ignore the fluttering in his chest when their eyes meet, or to resist taking her hand every time he offers to walk her home. It's hard not to smile when she tells him she hates him, since he knows that's not the case. It's hard to fall asleep at night, when his mind insists on thinking about her, and all the things they could do together if she weren't so afraid, and if he weren't so afraid. And it's hard not to kiss her when she gets her face real close to his in challenge.

It was hard to ignore how long she always kissed him, and how much his opinion of her obviously mattered so much to her, and how she had been so obviously flirting with him back when she'd invited him to that restaurant, and it was hard to ignore how good it felt to flirt back for once. It was hard to ignore how wonderful it was to hold her close during their tango, and focus on the task at hand. It's hard not to want to be able to openly flirt with her and hold her close. And he'd found himself slipping up every once in a while, and hugging her when she just made him so happy. And it's always been hard to ignore the fireworks when they did kiss, and how pretty her eyes were when he looked into them at that restaurant, and how warm she felt when he had been dancing so fiercely with her, and how hard it had become to stay angry at her, but remembering how she'd betrayed him had been enough to keep him focused (Though he knew it was April Fools Day, and she was guaranteed to do something crazy like that to him, but he felt she'd gone too far).

But he has to.

He can't admit to loving her, he never can, not yet. And she can't find out, just as he has to stay dense to her constant torture. He has to remain the victim of his bully, not the Romeo to her Juliet. He'd already lived that fantasy anyway.

But love is a serious thing to Arnold, and he does not take it lightly. He knows that once he gives in, there'll be no going back, but he's only nine. He's not ready for love, or marriage, or having a family. And that's what pops into his head every time the word love comes up. Love means marriage. But he's only nine. So he has to stay dense.

For a while he tried to distract himself away from her by becoming infatuated with other girls, girls he hardly knew. He knew it was wrong, and they were just going to end up in heart break, but he had no where else to turn. He needed a distraction. And they were just crushes, and in his mind, crushes always lead to breaking up eventually. Love meant 'forever', a crush meant 'for now'. And they did work. Whenever the subject of her came up, he'd just redirect it to talking about how she wasn't better than this other girl he liked, though he knew that was wrong, and he didn't actually believe that.

But he had to do it, because he's nine, and definitely not ready for love. Though, in a small part of his mind, he'll admit he's already admitted to himself that he loves her. Everything else around him is just a distraction from that, because he's not ready for love.

But he's afraid, though, that eventually he'll end up regretting never telling her.

But he always tells himself that he will, someday, when he's ready to get married, and start a family. But that won't come for years, and sometimes he's a little impatient, and he can see that she's becoming a bit annoyed by it too. He always tells her silently in his mind, "Just wait for me, I'll come to you soon", but he knows she can't hear him, and he's afraid she might give up.

But all that doesn't matter, because he knows nothing, hears nothing, and most definitely feels nothing.

...For now.

A/N: *Giggles* I was just thinking of what it might be like if maybe, Arnold wasn't quite as dense as he seemed... XD