**A/N: Start off with a quick disclaimer - I do not own Hey Arnold! or the characters. The Hey Arnold! franchise remains the property of Nickelodeon and the intellectual property of Craig Bartlett.
OK, now that that's out of the way, I wanted to state that I have been thinking a LOT lately about the "scripted but never produced" second Hey Arnold! movie "The Jungle Movie." And this story is the child of this obsession. In fact, I decided to write this after dreaming about this and not being able to get it out of my head. Basically, the story wrote itself. Anyway, I've been getting good reviews lately, and so I may go ahead and write a full novella interpretation of what I think TJM's plot would have been. This story may or may not end up as a chapter, depending on where the plot takes me. I may rework this whole scene!
Anyway, here is how I figured things all went down just before this story starts. Arnold wins the essay contest and gets a free trip for him and his class to all go to San Lorenzo. While there, Arnold becomes the first person to come face-to-face with The Green Eyed People - mainly because they worship him. He finds out from TGEP that Miles and Stella have been held captive by the river pirate La Sombra. The pirate's fortress is too high tech for TGEP to save Arnold's parents! Arnold somehow manages to get some equipment from Bridget (see Hey Arnold The Movie) - perhaps he gets it from her before leaving Hillwood... Anyway, Arnold then informs both Gerald and Helga that - after the FTi incident - he knows he can't save his parents without both of them. Uneasy truce between the boys and Helga, and they're off to the fortress. This story starts just as the trio make it to the fortress. I'm not sure if they are right outside the building, or if they are just inside the entrance, but there are guards patrolling that they need to avoid. OK, you're all caught up now! Enjoy!**
"Arnold, quick, this way," Helga pointed up to an air vent. "Help me up, Geraldo! Quickly!"
Gerald started to argue, "Why do I-"
"Gerald, please," Arnold pleaded.
"Oh, alright already." Gerald reluctantly hoisted Helga up so she could undo the vent panel. Meanwhile, Arnold kept watch. The guard was walking away from them currently, but he was bound to turn around any moment now.
"Helga, you need to hurry up," Arnold tensely whispered to her.
"I'm working as fast as I can, Football Head. You want to try doing this instead?" Arnold quietly let her finish. When she was done, instead of climbing in, she motioned to be put back down.
"I won't be able to lift you boys myself," she hated to admit that she was weaker than either of them, but this wasn't about pride now. She needed to get the three of them to safety, and fast.
Arnold and Gerald nodded to each other. Out of the two of them, Gerald was still taller, plus they could not afford Arnold getting caught, no matter what. So Arnold was the first helped into the vent while it was Helga's turn to keep watch. Arnold scrambled into the vent as fast as he could, grabbing on to anything he could to wiggle his way in.
"Get your butt in there, Arnold-o. The guard's starting to come back!" Helga ran back over to Gerald so he could help her up again. Arnold took Helga's hand to pull her into the vent. A tingle shot through him, but he shook it off and quickly pulled her inside.
He pulled a little too hard, and ended up not only pulling Helga into the vent, but right on top of him. The force knocked him backwards; Helga now laying above him. She caught herself with her arms straight out, preventing herself from laying right on top of Arnold. Their noses nearly touching, their eyes locked. That tingle shot through Arnold again as he swallowed a knot in his throat. Helga's heart raced as she attempted to catch her breath.
"Hey!" Gerald called up to them as loudly as he dared, "I still need help up, ya know." Arnold snapped out of his daze and quickly slid out from under Helga; getting back up on to his knees. Helga also awoke from her trance and turned to the vent opening.
They both reached down as far as they could. The guard's footsteps were now audible. They didn't have much time. Hopefully Gerald could reach on his own. With a running jump, Gerald reached up and just barely caught Arnold and Helga's hands. The three held on to each other tightly, but Gerald's dead weight nearly pulled them out of the vent. Arnold and Helga braced against each other to prevent themselves from falling, and she took a quick breath of his hair before snapping herself back.
The footsteps came closer. The guard was continuing his sweep of the area and they didn't have long before Gerald would be discovered hanging from the vent. With all of their strength, Arnold and Helga pulled Gerald into the air duct. Just as Gerald's feet disappeared into the vent, the guard rounded the corner. The trio all held their breaths as the muscular man walked past them, the top of his head just barely visible.
Shoving Gerald back off of her, Helga crawled over Arnold in order to take the lead. She lead them through the air duct labyrinth with unbelievable ease.
"Wow, Helga," Arnold praised, "you seem to really know how to navigate through here."
Helga thanked the lord that they were in single file, that way Arnold couldn't see her blush as she quietly recalled all the times she snuck in and out of the Sunset Arms boarding house. In fact, sneaking around like this was almost second nature to her by now.
After a few minutes, Helga abruptly stopped, forcing Arnold to run into her feet. "Ow, what did you stop for?"
Helga shushed him and placed her ear against the side of the air duct. She listened carefully for a moment before turning around and smiling at the boys - not that they could see her face. She motioned for them to follow her to the right and after a few feet she stopped in front of a vent panel. She shifted so that Arnold could look through the vent, relishing how close he needed to be to her in order to see.
Arnold was confused as to where she lead them, but he quickly noticed the wall of TV screens. "I present to you, the security room," Helga triumphantly motioned to the wall. "All we need to do is figure out how to get rid of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum."
Sitting in the middle of the room, carefully watching all of the cameras, were two guards.
"Any ideas?" Gerald whispered from behind them.
"No problem," Arnold smirked as he started to dig through the pack he got from Bridget. He pulled out a small pouch rolled into itself. When he unrolled the pouch it contained six straps that each held a tranquilizer dart.
"Ok, Arnold-o," Helga hissed, "but do we have anything to shoot those with, genius?"
Arnold's only response was to turn to Gerald. He was the best fifth-grader at darts. His aim was uncanny. Gerald started shuffling backwards, "No way, man! How am I supposed to hit them?"
"I believe in you, Gerald. Just think of their necks as the bulls-eye. If you throw hard enough the tranquilizer should inject into them." Arnold held the darts out to his best friend.
Helga quickly pushed Arnold's hands away from Gerald, "Yeah, and if it doesn't work they'll know we're here!"
Arnold looked at Helga with complete faith, "Gerald can do this."
"Alright, alright," Gerald snatched the pouch from Arnold. "But I want to go on record as saying that this is crazy."
Reluctantly, Helga quietly removed the vent panel and shifted out of the way so Gerald could get a clean shot. On top of being accurate, he needed to aim fast so one guard couldn't alert the other. With a deep breath he took aim on the first guard.
"Here goes everything," Gerald released the dart. It flew perfectly and hit the guard right in the base of the neck. The man grabbed for the dart, but was already too dazed to pull it back out. Instead he motioned to the second guard who turned towards the vent. Seeing Gerald, the second guard quickly jumped up to capture him. It was now or never. Gerald threw the second dart. Bulls-eye again; right above the collarbone.
The second guard choked a moment from the impact of something shooting into his neck. The guard didn't stop advancing, though. Afraid of getting captured, Gerald pushed himself backwards into the vent, but too abruptly for Helga or Arnold to move. The three were again in a jumbled pile, watching as the guard stumbled forward and finally collapsed against the wall just below the vent.
"Get off of me, Hair Boy!" Helga pushed and kicked until both boys were off of her again.
"Holy cow," Gerald looked at the two passed out guards, "I actually did it!"
They climbed out of the vent, Helga purposely dropping on to the unconscious guard on the floor.
"Now what do we do with them?" Gerald poked at the first guard slumped in his chair.
"Well," Arnold tucked the remaining tranquilizers back into his bag, "according to Bridget, the tranquilizers should hold for about thirty minutes. We should probably still find a way to tie them up so we have more than enough time to escape."
They all started searching the room for anything to bound the guards with when something caught Helga's eye. "Oh my gosh! Arnold, come here, quick!"
The boys sprinted over to Helga. She pointed to one of the security monitors. The screen showed a holding room where La Sombra kept all of his poachings. Multiple cages housed endangered animals from the jungle, but these poor creatures weren't what Helga was pointing at. Towards the back of the room were two full-blown prison cells, and each held a person inside.
Arnold raced to the control board and scanned for the buttons he needed. After a minute he found what he was looking for and zoomed in the camera for the prison room.
There, clear as day, were two people in the back cells. The cell on the left held a broken man with blond hair, his head hung as he sat defeated on his cot. The second cell, just out of arm's reach from the first one, contained a brunette woman with a slightly oblong head. She didn't seem as defeated, in fact she seemed determined to escape. She also appeared to be giving the man a pep talk. There was a fire inside her that could easily be seen through the cameras.
"It's them," Arnold's breath escaped him and his eyes started to well up with tears. He allowed them to fall, blinking the water away as he cried so the tears couldn't blur his vision. They looked so different, but there was still no doubt in Arnold's mind. His parents were alive, and captives of La Sombra!
Arnold reached up to the monitor and touched it, gasping for air between sobs. He had finally found them. They were alive. He was going to bring them home.
Helga and Gerald looked at each other before she finally placed a gentle hand on Arnold's shoulder. His head snapped around in response and saw Helga's soft, comforting face. After a too-brief moment, Arnold's head whipped back to the footage of his parents. He didn't want to loose sight of them again. He was too afraid that they would vanish again, that this wasn't truly real.
"Arnold," Gerald softly said, "we don't have much time. We have to go now if we're going to save them."
Not yet. Arnold didn't want to go yet. They were right there, he could see them, watch them. He ignored Gerald.
"Arnold," Gerald pleaded, "come on, man. We have to go now!" When Arnold refused to move away from the monitor again, Helga grabbed him by the shoulders and whipped him around, forcing him to face her instead.
"Arnold," she shook him a little, "you need to go to them!" Arnold kept trying to turn back to the monitors, but Helga held strong, keeping Arnold's back turned towards the screens. "You need to leave this room and actually rescue them. You don't have the time to stay here. You can watch them all you want once everyone is safely out of here!"
Finally snapped back to the time crunch they were facing, Arnold shook his head, clearing his thoughts. He quickly wiped away his tears with the heal of his hand and nodded to Helga. Knowing that he was now refocused, Helga softly smiled and let go of Arnold's shoulders.
"OK, so anyone know how to get to that room?" Gerald asked, motioning to the holding cell.
"There has to be a blueprint or a map or something around here." Arnold and Gerald again searched the room.
"They're six floors down," Helga almost immediately interrupted their search.
"What? How do you know that?" Gerald put his hands defiantly on his hips.
"The cameras are labeled. Each letter is the floor number, and then each individual camera is numbered."
"How do you know that?"
Helga sighed. She didn't have time to explain herself to Gerald. Couldn't he just trust her? Didn't she prove her worth to him last year when it came to FTi? "Because, Geraldo, these monitors are stacked A through H. Clearly in order of the floors. Then each floor has two rows of fifteen cameras. All of these cameras labeled F are showing the floor we're on now. Which also happens to be the ground floor. This place didn't look like it was more than three stories up, so that would be floors F, G, and H. Therefore, the room they are in, at camera A26, has to be the bottom floor, underground, six floors down. Doi!"
"Ok, Helga," Arnold nodded to her, fully convinced, "it looks like you know what you're talking about. I trust you." He turned towards the door, "Let's go."
Helga melted a little inside. Arnold trusted her. She blinked and shook her head. No time for this! They needed to get Arnold's parents out of here.
Reassured by Arnold's confidence, Gerald agreed that Helga must have been right and headed towards the door as well. Once all three were grouped by the entrance, they all turned back to the monitors and looked to see if the coast was clear. Once they were sure no guards were around, Gerald opened the door and headed down the hall. Arnold quickly followed out into the hallway, but Helga just stood in the doorway and called out, "Good luck, Arnold."
Arnold managed to turn and block the closing door with his foot at the last moment.
"Arnold," Helga tried to push him out of the door's way, "What are you doing? Go!"
"What are you doing, Helga?" Arnold pushed back, getting the door open a little more.
"Look," Helga's face softened again, "you need eyes in this place to make sure you and your folks get out of here alright." She looked through the cracked door, here eyes intense. "Like I said, the security room can help us, but it won't do us any good if no one is watching them. I'll stay here and direct you through the walkie-talkies. Now please go!"
"Arnold," Gerald, realizing that the others weren't following him, stopped at the end of the hall and called out to them. What was going on?
"I can't leave you here alone," Arnold pushed harder on the door, trying to open it enough to pull Helga out into the hallway.
"I have the cameras. I can see if anyone's coming. Plus, I've become sort of a master at escaping unnoticed." Shoot! Why did she say that? She's only gotten so good by stalking Arnold all those years. What was she going to say if he asked?
Thankfully, Arnold had more important things to worry about. "What if the guards in there wake up before you can get out? How will you get out anyway? I'm sorry, but I just can't let you do this, Helga!"
"Arnold," Gerald nervously looked over his shoulder and motioned for his friend to hurry up, "We don't have the time. Come on!"
"Tall Hair Boy there has a point," Helga got hard again. Apparently she needed to be tough to get Arnold to listen, "We don't have time to argue about this. Give me two more tranquilizers. I'll stab the guards again if they start to stir, and I'll lock this door so new ones can't come in. I'll be fine. Let me do this for you. For your parents."
"Helga, you just can't," Arnold was running out of arguments. He looked in Helga's blue eyes and slumped against the door. Why wouldn't she just come with them? Why did she have to be so stubborn?
Gerald starting moving back to the security room. He needed to break this up, and fast. They really didn't have the time for this. He anxiously darted his eyes all around, waiting for the guards to eventually find them.
"Arnold," Helga pressed her weight against the door, not allowing him to push it open any further. He needed to understand, "my parents weren't there for me, but your parents couldn't be there for you. They loved you, and I'm sure they still do. I know you know why I'm doing this. You're such a wonderful person who always gives for others. It's now my turn to give back. Your parents deserve to see how wonderful you turned out to be. So let me give this to you. Please."
Her eyes were so gentle, Arnold flashed back to the last crisis she helped him with. Helga made it seem like she owed him this favor, but she has always gone above and beyond to help him. He knew that now. He truly knew in his heart that he could always rely on Helga. At that very moment he also knew something else beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Mustering up all of his strength, Arnold shoved his weight against the door, knocking Helga back. Before she could fall backwards from being thrown off balance, Arnold caught her arm. Righted, she stared at him with pleading eyes, "Arnold, please-"
Arnold quieted her the only way he knew how. The only way that felt right. He pulled her in to him, his hand on her chin, directing her lips towards his.
Helga's eyes went wide. Was this truly happening? Was Arnold - her beloved for the past seven years - truly kissing her? Truly kissing Helga G. Pataki? After a brief moment, the shock left her and she allowed herself to kiss him back, completely feeling the soft brush of his lips on hers.
Gerald again glanced back at the door, hoping that Arnold was finally coming now that the arguing was done. He was surprised to see that instead Arnold had disappeared into the security room. He ran back to check on them, only to spot the couple liplocked. Arnold's left hand was on Helga's chin, and the right was delicately holding her just above the elbow. Helga's hands were lazily on Arnold's waist, her eyes closed tightly and tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Woah!" Gerald interrupted. The couple quickly separated, pushing away from each other. Gerald cocked an eyebrow at them, "uh, did I miss something here?"
"I, uh," Arnold blushed.
Helga looked away, "What he means is that it was-"
"Heat of the moment," Arnold quickly finished.
The phrase stung at Helga. Why is it that whenever one of them confessed liking the other it was explained away as 'heat of the moment'?
"Right," Helga found herself confirming, sheepishly looking back at Arnold. "From all the overwhelming emotion of finding his folks, plus all the danger and the time crunch."
"And Helga just being so brave and," Arnold paused as he turned to look at Helga, "amazing."
Helga looked away again and blushed. "Right. Just misplaced excitement or something," she told Gerald.
"Right," Gerald drew out the word, clearly not believing either one. He had a feeling something was going on with them, but there wasn't any time to continue discussing this now. "What ever you say, Arnold, what ever you say."
Gerald threw up his arms in defeat and walked back out the door, "But are we saving your parents any time today?"
Arnold quickly dug out two more tranquilizer darts and handed them to Helga, his hands lingering on hers. "Be careful, Helga," he softly instructed her.
"No need to worry about me, Football Head," Helga pulled her hands away. She hated doing so, but they already wasted too much time. "Crimeny! Go save your folks already!"
Arnold smiled and ran out the door, hearing Helga lock it behind them. "Stay safe," he quietly wished.
**A/N: OK, so there you have it. I know, I know. "The kiss is supposed to be at the end" So what :-P Anyway, based on what CB said, I think I have pretty much all of the other important elements included. Let's see. Craig?
Craig: Okay, yes, [Arnold] kisses [Helga] back. But Gerald interrupts. They make a lame excuse to Gerald and he says, "Whatever you say."... It was definitely a big scene. But he's not as "passionate" as Helga... [The kiss] was short and sweet — they were in a hurry, as usual.
Anyway, the only thing I'm having a major issue with is the part where I have Gerald throw the tranq darts. Personally, I think it would make more sense - and be more realistic - if Helga used a blow gun (after she blew so many spit-balls at Arnold), or even have her slingshot on her (do kids really still use these?). However, I felt like I was just dragging Gerald along for the ride and it would be too Helga-heavy if she was the "tranquilizer hero" as well. Any thoughts?
Please ConCrit! I'd love to find out how to make this more plausible so that I might use it in the aforementioned TJM novella. Thank you!
P.S. - If there is anyone interested, I'm better at scripts than I am at prose, and so I'd also love to make this in to a graphic novel for Deviant Art. Any artists out there want to collab?**