The Christmas plot bunnies rewarded me with another little story, so I thought I'd share. As usual, the characters belong to Mr. Craig B and Snee-oosh. And they are nice enough to let us play in their playground.
Senior year, fourteen days before Winter break, and somebody had the brilliant idea of peppering random parts of the school with small sprigs of mistletoe. Nobody was quite sure where it all was and without continually running into people from walking with eyes glues to the ceiling and door frames, the entire school body just sucked it up and were either very careful or wished they were one of the lucky ones.
As the squeals and the rumors of just where the hidden mistletoe was found, the offending sprigs of green and red were taken down giving some students a sigh of relief and the others an almost desperate mission to find the others.
"Did you hear Tad managed to get a kiss from Rhonda under the mistletoe?" Lila asked her friends as they were walking down the hall towards their final class that day.
"I thought they found it all?" Phoebe asked. There were only two days left before Winter break and the mistletoe fervor had died down as the sprigs of foliage were disappearing. Lila shook her head.
"There are still two days left before break. You really think we're off the hook?" she asked as they turned the corner to walk into their classes. In front of them stood Brainy, half in the classroom, trying to untangle his ear buds from his notebooks. Phoebe stopped suddenly, grabbing Lila's sleeve.
"Look!" she all but whispered. Above the doorframe was a small sprig of mistletoe. Lila grinned at her friend and stepped forward.
"Brainy." she said. The tall blond boy looked up at her voice and was rewarded with the redheads lips on his. Books dropped to the floor, startling kids walking around the hallways, as his hand reached up to touch her cheek, kissing her back.
A cheer of whistles and clapping broke out as the two teens parted, red faced and smiling. Phoebe grinned, patting her friend on the back.
"This stuff's a danger to society." an annoyed female said, brushing herself past the three teens in the doorway, careful to step around the mistletoe. Phoebe grinned at her friend, then stepped into the class walking towards the back of the class and sitting down next to the annoyed student pulling books out of a pink backpack.
"Let them have their fun." she admonished lightly. The blond student looked up at the two students who were now picking up scattered books and talking softly, then looked at her friend.
"You'll notice I didn't say anything to them." she told Phoebe. "That alone should be present enough."
Helga didn't hate Christmas, she just didn't like mistletoe. Made her remember she was one of the few kids in her group that didn't have someone to share the holiday with. Tad and Brainy were there with her, but this season, it looked like both boys had gotten their Christmas wish. And here she was...alone.
Snorting, she walked down the silent halls towards her locker. She didn't need anyone to make her happy, it didn't matter if her best friend was happily dating the boy of her dreams or that Tad, of all people, had gotten to prove to his dream girl just how well he could kiss or that the quiet, shy Brainy had gotten assaulted in the middle of a classroom by his crush.
"Criminy, who am I kidding?" she muttered, opening her locker. It mattered to her. It hurt that she would never have her Christmas...
"Talking to yourself Pataki?" the familiar voice asked behind her.
"Sneaking up on me again football head?" she retorted, not bothering to turn around, trying to control her now rapidly beating heart.
"You now, that's the first sign of insanity." he told her, ignoring her retort. She shut her locker and turned to face him.
"Insane people don't know their insane. Me, I know I'm plenty crazy." She gave him an easy grin. "Besides, it's only insanity if I answer myself."
He laughed. "You ready to meet up with Phoebe and Gerald?"
Helga's easy smile faltered. She wasn't sure if she could hang out with them after school. The way she was feeling, sitting with her best friend and her boyfriend making kissy faces and flirting wasn't something she was sure she could sit through without screaming today. She cleared her throat, looking down at her books.
"You know, I...I don't think so today. Bob's wanting me to come home to help him get ready for some big client dinner tonight." she rolled her eyes, continuing the lie. "Which means do everything and be nice."
The blond boy frowned. "Anything I can do to help?"
She shook her head, starting to move away from locker. "Nah. Usual crap, ya know. I'll see you tomorrow."
Why does he still torment my heart? Why can't I just forget him, move onto someone else? Oh Arnold why must you be my never ending Christmas wish?
The teen girl sighed, rolling over on her stomach on her bed, pulling the locket from her shirt and looking at the picture inside.
"Why can't I ever tell you how I feel?" she whispered to the picture in the locket. "Why can't I just move past the terror inflicted on my heart when I think someone will discover my secret? Am I so terrified that you'll reject me? That I will be content on what ifs if I can always have the fantasy that you might like me, just a little?"
The phone on her nightstand rang, pulling her from her lament to the locket. She reached over, picking up the phone.
"Faker." the voice of her best friend answered on the other line. "What's the real reason you skipped out on us today?"
"Sorry Phoebs, nothing against you guys, but I wasn't in the mood to be around happy couples."
Phoebe's voice turned sad. "Oh Helga, why didn't you tell me? I would've blown off Gerald and we could have done something."
"No. I promised you and myself that when you two started dating I wouldn't make you choose between us. I just..."
"Helga. This isn't choosing between the two of you. I know how you get this time of the year, I should've been paying attention."
"Knock it off Phoebe. It's my own stupid paranoia making me miserable, no one else's."
"Come on, meet me at Slaussen's." Phoebe said. "We'll eat ice cream and talk about it."
Helga laughed. "Okay. I'll see you in ten."
"Personally, I am glad this is the last day of school." Helga said, as the two girls walked into the cafeteria. "I am done with this mistletoe crap."
"I heard the last piece was found this morning." Phoebe said as they stepped in line to pick up some lunch. "So everything should be back to normal."
"Good." Helga muttered, putting her lunch tray on the ledge, digging into her pocket for money to give to the casher. She didn't notice Phoebe look over to their table, noticing her boyfriend nudging his best friend then look above her, stepping out of the way smiling happily. "Now I can spend the rest of this holiday munching on snacks and watching old movies."
She handed the grinning cashier her money. And then realized her tray was missing.
"Hey Phoebs, what's the big..." she looked at her best friend who was holding their tray, grinning widely. She turned her head to see Arnold standing in front of her.
"What's up foot..."
His lips crashed into hers and her body froze in shock. Around her she heard whistles and applauding, but right now all she could feel was soft lips and his hands on her shoulders and oh god he tasted like apples and yahoo soda. Suddenly she could breathe again and she gasped, her eyes opening to meet green eyes. Lips that had just been against hers curled into a slight smirk.
"Merry Christmas Helga." his soft voice told her. Her eyes glanced around the full cafeteria, her mind moving faster than it should. She could push him out of the way, stomp out of the cafeteria, save her reputation. But was that what she really wanted? Could she, just this once, have the Christmas wish the rest of her friends had been lucky enough to receive? Her eyes went back to the green eyes that were now hesitant.
"You okay?" he asked concerned. Her emotions overruled her fears and brain and leaned forward again, her lips lightly touching his. She felt his arms come around her, his lips pressing firmly against hers. This is what she wanted, just one Christmas wish. Something she'd wanted for years.
She pulled back watching him lick his lips and a blush rise against his cheeks. Behind her, she could hear the cheers and clapping, her best friend's voice the loudest of them all. Her eyes never left his as she smiled.
"Merry Christmas, Arnold." she whispered back.