Author Note:

This was yet another attempt at the 100tri_drabble challenge which met with an exorbitant word count. In fact it is around the 1000 word mark, and so I gave up in trying to edit it to fit the prompt for that LiveJournal community. This inspiration for this was prompt #002 – 'pencil' and this was completed on 26th June 2010.

Thank you, pencil!

It started with a pencil.

'It' happened to be a rather embarrassing experience for Arnold Shortman, but given the overall result, he would not change it for the world.
It happened during 9th grade History class, which Arnold happened to share with former bully, Helga G Pataki. Since entering high school, Helga hadn't said a word to him, and it bothered him. It shouldn't have, as before all she tended to say were insults and mockery, but he had grown so used to them that having her practically ignore his existence left him missing the old days terribly.

He pondered why as he sat behind her in class. She now wore her long blonde hair in a ponytail and hid her bow under a grey hat. Arnold didn't quite know why, but he found himself paying more attention to her than to the class- her creamy neck, with wisps of blonde, untamed by the ponytail, strands of which she played with near her still sticky out ears. His gaze often dropped to admire her slim figure, though somewhat hidden by the back of the chair. Although Helga had reigned in her sarcasm and no longer shouted out in class, Arnold noticed her shaking her head at classmates disapprovingly and tutting or groaning at their answers. It was like she was struggling to keep herself in check. He marvelled at how well she answered the questions thrown in her direction, and he secretly hoped that there would soon be some sort of class project so he could have a chance to pair up with her and force her to talk to him again.

Helga had stopped wearing dresses in middle school. She began to wear jeans and t-shirts, often those shirts with amusing and sarcastic quotes on. She seemed more tomboyish than ever, and everyone had grown so used to her wearing jeans that on this particular day, everyone was amazed to see that she had come to school wearing a skirt. When Phoebe, her best friend, asked why, Helga shrugged.

"Miriam is a little slow on the laundry at the moment so I have no clean jeans. Had to borrow this from Ol-ga" She sneered as she pointed to the denim skirt. Eavesdropping Arnold couldn't help but follow where she pointed. The hem of her skirt hovered just above her knees, showing her long, toned legs. He gulped and looked away, a blush rising to his cheeks. The bell rang and they took their seats.

It was about halfway through the history class, as Arnold sat absent-mindedly rolling his pencil in his fingers whilst staring at the back of Helga's head, when a sudden movement of Helga's surprised Arnold enough to make him drop his pencil. It fell forward, rolling towards her desk. He slipped from his chair on auto-pilot, to retrieve it. It was only once he had picked it up from under Helga's desk that he realised what he had done and where he was.

His football-head was under Helga's desk, inches from her long slender legs. His eyes had a perfect view under her skirt and at her panties. His eyes widened as Helga grabbed him by the collar and yanked him from underneath the desk.

"What's the big idea, buddy?" she growled, bringing the entire class's attention to them.

Red faced and inarticulate, all Arnold could say was "pencil dropped" and held out the item as evidence. The teacher announced they should all get on with class, but some students had other ideas.

Girls whispered about Arnold being a bit of a 'Peeping Tom' and one boy even called out in a loud whisper, asking Arnold what colour Helga's panties were. Barely muffled snickering followed until Helga gave the class a death glare. Arnold ignored the comments as best he could, returning to his desk and dismayed by the annoyed grunt of the girl in front of him. He was unsure as to whether or not the redness of her ears was a sign of her anger or embarrassment, but he had the sinking feeling that his chances of renewing their friendship may have just taken a massive blow.

Class soon ended and Arnold felt himself get patted on the back by a few of his male classmates as they left. No matter how much his rep amongst the guys in school had gone up, he knew that he had to apologise to Helga.

As she gathered her books, he tapped her on the shoulder.

"What?" she snapped as she spun round, making Arnold flinch at her irritated tone. Her face softened slightly as her eyes met his, and she blushed. "A-Arnold!" she turned away to her books again. "W-what do you want, Football-Head?" Her harsh tone returned from the momentary lapse. He smiled at the old nickname, which he formally thought to be an insult.

"I just wanted to apologise for earlier, Helga. My pencil rolled under your desk and I went to get it without realising… I'm sorry. I should have left it until after class. At least that way you wouldn't have to deal with some of the insensitive people's comments."

Helga opened her mouth as if to say something but paused. She looked around and saw the class was almost empty.

"D-did you see anything?" She stuttered, avoiding his eyes. Her cheeks blazed red.

Arnold's eyes widened.

"Y-you mean, did I see your…" he gulped, "underwear?"

She nodded. He did too, and she collapsed at her desk.

"B-but I didn't see much!" He defended, "I was staring more at your nice legs..." he admitted sheepishly. Helga's head shot up from her slump of mortification, with surprise.

"You think my legs are nice?"

Arnold nodded with a shy smile.

"I think all of you is. You're very pretty, Helga."

Another rush of blood lit up her face. She gulped.

"You're not bad yourself, Arnold-o." she smiled, before standing up and grabbing her bag and books. "I'm going to be late for class," she announced, "but if you want to talk some more, I can meet you at the lockers later." He nodded back, his eyes half-lidded as he watched her leave the room.

He looked at his pencil and silently thanked it for giving him the chance to talk to her again.
The bell rang for next period and made him jump, before he too grabbed his bag and rushed away for his next class.

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this fanfic, I have a few more Hey Arnold! Stories which you can get to via my profile page. Feel free to leave a comment or review. Criticism is welcomed! Thank you once again for taking the time to read my attempt at fanfiction!