A/N: I randomly got inspired to finally write the sequel to "Blue Eyes" I said I would, and so here it is. Actually, this is version 2 of the sequel. I tried writing it before but it wasn't coming out exactly how I wanted it to, so I finally just scrapped that and started over. And this time, I'm more than content... I think. XD Well, I had more ideas, but I couldn't manage to fit them all in here. Maybe I can just put them all in as another ArniexLila fic where they have their first date or something. ;) But in the meantime, here's the sequel... Now leave me alone, you buzzards.
Disclaimer: I own not anything by the name of "HEY ARNOLD!" Boo-freaking-hoo.
Nothing But Sunshine
"Come on, Helga, just one little kiss..."
"No, Football Head, you'll wrinkle the dress. Can't you just wait until we get back to the house so I can get out of this thing?"
"No," the persistent groom mumbled, chuckling and leaning closer to her once more.
The woman in white sighed. "Come on, we're only about thirty minutes away. Aren't you the one who's always talking about patience and morals and bla bla bla...?"
He merely shrugged, still grinning with that half-lidded look on his face. "Patience and morals don't come into play on your wedding day." He purred, reaching for her again.
Despite herself, she giggled intensely at the charmingly silly sound and shook her head at him, pressed up against the back of the limousine seat, her leg coming up to try and keep him at bay. "Back! Back, I say!"
He just glanced from her face to the shoeless foot attached to a very long leg pressed up against his chest... and he smirked slightly, unable to resist. "Do you really think this is going to make me want to stop?"
Helga blushed furiously and giggled once more, shaking her head. "Dang it, Football Head! For fifteen years I can hardly get you to so much as make out with me on your bed, and then as soon as our vows are exchanged I practically have to beat you off with a stick!" She laughed, continuing to keep him away from her with her leg. "You're crazy!"
"Crazy in love." He purred again, his arms reached out as far as they could go to try and reach her, playfully.
Helga squealed a little and laughed, her foot slipping eventually and him almost immediately flying forward to bring his arms around her, laughing deeply in her ear. "Gotcha," he whispered, still chuckling.
Helga sighed and rolled her eyes, her hands on his shoulders. "Yes, yes, I get it, Football Head. You have officially lost every last marble you had stored up in that gigantic head of yours and you decided that getting the three-thousand dollar dress my parents so graciously bought for me is worth the ten minutes worth of kissing time." She sighed again, bringing her arms around his neck and hugging him close as he did the same. She whispered in his ear musingly, "You know Big Bob is going to kill you..."
Arnold just laughed a little and shook his head, wrapping his arms tighter around her, further compressing her against him. "Eh, we'll just have Curly steam it down or something to get the few wrinkles out." He lowered his voice then, his breath hot in her pinkening ear, "It will be very much worth the trouble to get to hold you in my arms for a little while longer, Mrs. Shortman..."
"M-Mrs. Pataki-Shortman..." Helga corrected lightly as she usually did, her breath caught in her throat slightly.
Arnold just shrugged very slightly, but enough for her to feel, and gave her neck a small kiss. "Whatever you say, Helga..."
Helga gulped, feeling herself being gently lowered down onto the car seat.
A few minutes worth of heated making out later, Helga's cell phone rang... They both ignored it.
Several minutes later, it rang once more, and they both decided once more, with Arnold's lips firmly pressed to Helga's and soft, lovely moans escaping Helga without her permission... decided to ignore it.
Several, several minutes later, it rang once more, and Helga finally just sighed through her nose and pulled her lips away from Arnold's to reach for the phone. Arnold gently took hold of her wrist, though, looking at her with pouty eyes. Helga just giggled a little and patted his cheek, gently breaking from his hold to pick up the phone and sit up. "Just a minute, Arnold. If they're calling for a third time, whatever it is must be important." She answered the phone and put it up to her ear, trying to hold back a bout of giggles as Arnold buried his head into her neck and smothered her with kisses there. She answered stutteringly, in a bit of a daze still, understandably, "H-Hello?"
She recognized the voice immediately and smiled, relaxing a little and just enjoying Arnold's sweet kisses. "Oh, hey, Lila. What's going o-on?" She shivered a little at Arnold pulling her closer around the waist and put her hand up, trying to tell him to cool it since she was on the phone. Finally, he seemed to comply a little and just rested his head on her shoulder, waiting for her to be done as he savored her warmth.
Lila answered from the other side in her usual little voice, which Helga only barely listened to, too intent on feeling her heart go thump thump against Arnold's, "Well, I'm ever so sorry for bothering you but I'm afraid I have some bad news about my bridesmaid dress..."
Helga immediately perked up at this information and she blinked. Lila very rarely said 'ever so' anymore... it had become more of a nervous tick nowadays that she reverted back to when something out of the norm was going on. Like back when she first found out Stinky had gotten a new girlfriend only a week after their break up. It had been a bit of a rough patch for her, and 'ever so' had made it's presence known for nearly two weeks after. "I-I ever so don't care," "So what if he has a new girlfriend? I'm sure she's a lovely girl... but those shoes go ever so horrible with that skirt she's wearing!" and even "She's ever so stupid!" had come out of a slightly deranged Lila, stuffing her face with bonbons, on one very... disturbing girl's night out when they happened to come across the two kissing in the movie theater. And that was why Helga immediately knew that whatever Lila had to say... she wasn't going to like it. "What kind of bad news...?" Helga asked lowly in a suspicious tone, which made Arnold start rubbing her back in circles, trying to soothe her a little. It worked. She melted like chocolate on a hot day.
"Um..." came from Lila on the other end, who was just now glancing over at a sopping wet pink dress laid out in a chair to (hopefully) dry well enough that she could get it to the dry cleaners in the morning after the storm had cleared. "W-Well, you see, it started raining and I did use that umbrella you gave me, but the bus never came and the umbrella blew out of my arms and... Why, if Arnie hadn't been there to catch me before I fell down entirely the dress would have been much more than just wet-"
"Arnie?" Helga raised an eyebrow at that one. "What was he doing in town?"
Arnold instantly brought his head back up off her shoulder then and informed her, "Oh, I'm sorry, Helga. I forgot to tell you, I guess. I invited Arnie to our wedding."
"He was there the entire time?" Helga's eyes widened, staring at him.
Arnold chuckled a little and nodded.
"Well, criminy. I didn't even notice him." Helga scratched her head a little, a bit shocked. "I can't believe you invited him at all, though. The last time I saw him he was hitting on me... again." Her eyes narrowed slightly in disgust.
Arnold frowned slightly at the reminder. "Yeah..." And as quick as could be, his smile was back. "But I just figured the past is the past, and he is family. He deserved an invite to our wedding."
Helga, under normal circumstances, would disagree and point out all the reasons Arnie was a dirty little leech... but now, having just married the man of her dreams, his arms wrapped around her warmly and his green eyes focused intently on her as if she were the only woman in the world... she couldn't help but smile and nod with a bit of a silly smile. "Yeah... I guess you're right." Unable to resist herself, she leaned forward and gave him a small tender kiss on the lips, which he readily reciprocated with the corners of his mouth rising up at her unexpected (but very welcomed) kiss.
On the phone still, though, Lila finally spoke up in her soft little voice, "Yes, well, he was in town and I ran into him at the bus stop. Actually, he's here in my apartment right now."
And just like that, Helga's lips were separated from Arnold's increasingly more eager ones with her eyes wide and she questioned, a hand on Arnold's chest to keep his giant dazed head away from her a moment, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold up! ...He's WITH you... as in... right now?" Her jaw dropped a little.
Lila's voice actually sounded a bit shy, which only made the red light already over Helga's head burn a little brighter, "Yes... He's in my living room with some hot chocolate. The bus wasn't going to be coming for at least another hour and it's storming pretty hard outside right now... It seemed like the ever so right thing to do..." Her voice actually sounded a little dreamy, and Helga just KNEW she was doing that 'twirling her finger around the phone cord' thing she always did when she really, really liked a guy.
"Right thing to do? Oh, great, now you're quoting the Football Head." Helga rolled her eyes, still keeping Arnold at a distance with her hand on his chest... which he seemed to be enjoying entirely too much for her comfort at the moment, considering how half-lidded his eyes were. She gave him a little shake of her head, once again sending him a silent message to freaking COOL IT. She sighed, running a hand through her hair. "Lila, I don't know how I feel about this..."
"What do you mean?" Thankfully, her voice sounded a bit less dreamy that time, and the infamous 'ever so''s had ceased.
Helga sighed once again, resting her tired head on Arnold's shoulder, which he (of course) welcomed and held her a bit closer. Helga sought comfort in his warm embrace and snuggled a bit closer, her eyes closing as she replied a bit more calmly, "Well, it's just that Arnie doesn't exactly have the best track record, and no one's talked to him in a long time now. We don't know him anymore... Heck, we hardly knew him in the first place. He's not to be trusted, Lila. I really don't think you should be persisting a relationship here. And especially not from the same guy twice, AND especially when that guy is ARNIE. You're better than that. I just don't want to see you get hurt again..." She felt Arnold's arms tense a moment around her... and then he sighed deeply and tightened his grip on her, clearly very much liking how she'd put all that. She just smiled in his loving arms and snuggled her head a bit more into his shoulder.
There was a pause on the other side of the phone, and then Lila responded, "Just because Arnie is a little different doesn't mean he's not to be trusted. And don't worry, Helga, we're not doing anything... I mean, I got him out of the rain and might have... given him a little peck in gratitude for saving me from falling, but we're not starting a-a relationship..." She could have sworn she heard Lila mumble something very faintly to herself then before continuing, "So relax, Helga. I know I can be a little... thoughtless and eager when it comes to guys, but I'm going to be careful with this one. I haven't forgotten what happened the last time I saw him."
"Well, good." Helga sighed a little in relief and brought her head out of Arnold's shoulder to smile at Arnold, who smiled back. "I'm glad you're being more cautious with this one. And I know that just because he's different doesn't mean he's necessarily 'bad' but I still don't trust him... just be careful, like you said... very, very careful..."
"Of course, Helga," Lila replied with a warm tone in her voice, clearly very much appreciating her concern. "But Arnie wasn't why I called. I just wanted to tell you that my dress got a little wet. I'll take it to the dry-cleaners in the morning, though, I promise-"
"Lila," Helga interrupted, staring into Arnold's eyes, "it's fine. Just try to salvage the situation as best as possible, and we'll deal with this tomorrow or something... but for now, we've got a flight to Paris to get on that Arnold's been saving for since he was twelve years old, and the last thing I want to be thinking about is anything even slightly negative... Just be careful with Arnie, and best of luck... but even if things don't work out with him, I know you'll find someone wonderful one day, Lila..." Her and Arnold's eyes smoldered into each others. "Just like I have..."
Lila's response was quiet, "I know, Helga... Thank you..."
Helga just nodded slowly and said softly, "Goodnight, Lila."
And with that, Helga closed her phone and let it drop from her hand onto the plushy carpet of the long car and let Arnold's lips and her own finally crash into each others once more.
The phone went dead on the other end and Lila quietly hung it up, deep in quiet, solemn contemplation. Helga had been right. About everything. Arnie really wasn't any kind of Prince Charming like she'd always dreamed of, and in a way, he had blown his chance with her a long time ago... and he'd really hurt her... but still, Lila thought with some tears glistening in her eyes, she just couldn't let go of him...
She didn't know what it was about him, but there was always something about him that struck a nerve in her. Way back when they'd first met, it had been love at first sight, but Lila couldn't deny that she'd been very foolish with romantic relationships back then. She'd tossed around 'love' and 'like like' as if they were nothing. She really had given romance a bit of a cheap name back then.
But still, Arnie... She glanced around the corner to look at him, sitting on the couch with his legs far apart and his back arched down as he stared blankly into his cup of cocoa... There had just always been something different about him. She'd never used the word 'love' back then ever... not ever... but with Arnie, she had. He was the first boy to ever truly and completely win her heart... and he'd hardly even done anything but blink... one eye at a time... like putting on a pair of pants.
He was just so different from all the other boys she'd liked. She'd only ever liked Arnold because she thought he liked her, and admittedly she'd always had a thing for blondes, but Stinky... he'd been different. He was such a country hick, it was just so charming. He was sweet and a true gentleman to her, but still... he hadn't been nearly as dedicated a boyfriend as she'd always pictured herself with. She wanted someone who'd be at her side 24/7, ever faithful, someone who without a doubt truly loved her for her. But all Stinky ever seemed to want to do was goof off with his friends. He didn't appreciate going out on long, personal, deep dates like she'd always wanted. Carriage rides were odd in his eyes, he preferred walking... He wasn't much of a conversationalist. And they'd never even gotten past the 'I really care about you' stage (Lila had been much more cautious with the big 'L' word after Arnie)... But Arnie... He wasn't like any of them, really.
He was very quiet, brutally blunt, spacey... He never talked very much, rarely smiled, and could seem very distant... almost catatonic at times... His eyes were often blank, his face expressionless as could be... Granted, while they'd dated all those years back, he had talked a bit more... He'd still seemed spacey, especially right before he broke up with her, but he'd talked to her. He told her of his hobbies, likes, dislikes, he'd even complimented her on her dress, and she'd talked back. Conversations had been full of light chatter, though mostly all they'd done during their courtship was hang around each other, hold hands, and stare at each other with little smiles. She'd felt this natural attraction towards him that she couldn't quite explain. There was just something about him...
Perhaps it was how thoughtful he was about things, how cute he looked when he did smile, the interesting hobbies he had, how his jaw went up and down as he chewed on his gum, like he was a cow or something, how he blinked one eye at a time, how smart he was with how he could read all those big words on the backs of snacks and popcorn, his masculine charm, how critical he could be of people at times... Sure, he had his flaws, but who didn't?
And then, of course, there was his outer appearance, Lila thought with a blush tinting her lightly freckled cheeks... As a boy, most overlooked him for his plain and even strange looks, but he really was such a charming and attractive boy to her... With those soft, sun-bleached blonde locks and taco shaped head (much more attractive than Arnold's football shaped one), his tanned but not too tanned skin, those strong eyes (which she'd only recently discovered were a pale blue, not gray), jaw, slight sneer on his thin lips (he hadn't had the sneer when she'd last seen him as a child...), tall, muscular body... Yes, her eyes were already going more and more half-lidded as her thoughts progressed, her heart racing a little. He was definitely one hunky looking piece man... Well, in her eyes, anyway.
A more than suitable prince, she thought dreamily. Yes, he'd protect her from all the woes of the world and love her forever and ever... Her heart nearly shorted out on her, and she leaned against the doorway dazedly, the dry, green sun dress she'd put on falling against her legs... She was a very petite little thing, not quite as petite as Phoebe, but definitely smaller than Helga, who was a very tall, strong woman with the curves to match. Lila's curves were more subtle, her face softer, her medium-length hair pulled back in a French braid, about average height for a young woman. Her once flaming red hair had darkened considerably with age to a more dark, auburn-like red... more like her mothers, while she'd gotten her dark green eyes from her father.
She was attractive, but not quite the pretty princess her dad always called her, she thought. Perhaps that's where her love of fairy tales had stemmed from. On cold nights with her mother in the Hospital, fighting lung cancer, her father would try to cheer her up with bed time stories each night to help ward off the nightmares and unpleasant thoughts. Dreary thoughts of her dying mother and increasingly more poor life (considering her mother had been their main source of income) had been replaced with thoughts of princes, princesses, true love, and happily ever afters... and ever since, Lila had been very optimistic (perhaps a bit too much) and romantically-driven. The reason she'd jumped on Arnold as soon as she found out he may have feelings for her, the reason she'd dated SO much in middle and high school, the reason she'd gotten so jealous when Stinky had so easily moved on from her, the reason she'd been living such a quiet life ever since she'd graduated from high school... She'd always thought she'd find her one love when she was young, like all those little princesses in the fairy tales, like Arnold and Helga, Gerald and Phoebe... so once she'd been let out of high school after so many failed relationships, her dreams had dimmed considerably when it came to true love and happily ever afters... She could see clearly from her many happily married friends that it WAS possible for people to have true love, but it just didn't seem like she was ever going to get hers...
But Arnie had brought all that back as if it had never left. He brought back out the yearning and craving little hopeless romantic that had been so prominent in her personality as a kid. Immediately after seeing him again she'd felt all those memories come rushing back, all those dreams, fantasies... and she felt like her old self again. Not just optimistic, but utterly positive about every aspect of life. Not just a romance lover, but a romantic. Hopelessly so.
But still... Helga still had a point... Arnie could be just as much her prince as he could be her curse. That evil force keeping her from her true true love...
Or he could be neither and just be a misunderstood, lonely man sitting on her couch in her apartment as shelter from the rain.
Lila took a deep breath through her nose and stood up straighter, running her hands over her dress a little to try and get rid of some of those horrible wrinkles, and then, as gracefully as possible, walked back out into the living room. Arnie glanced up at her, his blue eyes already starting to gray a bit. This made Lila bite her lip nervously as she sat down on the couch just across from him, her hands laying on her lap as she glanced away.
"You're uncomfortable," Arnie observed bluntly, once again intently focusing on the lukewarm cocoa in his cup.
His (actually very accurate) statement startled Lila into looking back at him, her mouth forming a small 'o.' "Oh... Well... I suppose I am a little." Nervously, she fiddled with a small piece of hair that had managed to fall loose from her braid, her eyes going anywhere but at his face as she explained, "It's just that you're so quiet and I'm feeling a little nervous because we haven't seen each other in an ever so long time and I-"
"Lila," Arnie interrupted with his usual blank tone, looking back up at her.
Lila instantly stopped in her slight ramble and blushed, her eyes darting to his gray-blue ones. "Oh..." She forced her hand away from her hair and back down into her lap and looked down in slight embarrassment. "I'm sorry."
"No," Arnie said in his usual blunt manner, staring at her with his, for once, mostly open eyes. "Don't apologize. You're nervous and it's understandable." He seemed to find this a suitable enough response as he then looked back down into his cup, seeming to be done.
"Oh," Lila managed out in slight surprise at his understanding. She paused a moment. "Thank you, Arnie..." she said pleasantly, her confidence boosting a little once more. "That's very sweet of you to be so understanding." She batted her eyelashes purely on instinct. She could be such an unknowing flirt at times... or was it on purpose?
He merely snorted, still staring down into his cup as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.
There was a small silence then... before Lila suddenly found herself feeling a bit awkward again and she cleared her throat a bit before leaning over to look into his cup along with him as she asked, "What are you looking at exactly?"
"Huh?" Lila responded, blinking.
"Marshmallows," Arnie repeated, not taking his eyes off his hot chocolate. "There are little marshmallows in this cocoa. They're floating all around in the chocolate. I like marshmallows."
"Oh..." Lila responded, her eyes growing a bit wide in fondness towards how fascinated he could be with such a simple thing, often overlooked by so many people. "Yeah... they are ever so delicious..." Her tone was drawn-out and clearly quite dreamy.
Arnie seemed to notice this, too, as he glanced up at her, blinking one eye at a time. His face was so blank. He was so good at hiding his emotions. It was something she found both frustrating and admirable at the same time. Admirable for how he could make it look so easy to appear apathetic towards everything when he CLEARLY did have emotions while Lila herself couldn't deceive anyone to save her soul, and frustrating because she wanted so badly to know how he was feeling... She longed to know what was going on behind those blank, yet beautiful eyes. What went on in that oh too interesting mind of his.
She gulped at his searching gray-blue eyes, feeling like he could see straight into her soul. "Um..." she managed out uncomfortably, shifting in her seat. "I'll just... uh..."
He sensed her discomfort immediately and nodded, bringing his cup forward to show her his cocoa as he said, "Go get me the cocoa packet so I can read what's in this?"
"Yes!" She shot up out of her seat, smiling as pleasantly as she could (and praying her nervousness and relief wasn't showing through too much). "I'll do that. I nearly forgot about your fascination with the ingredients in food."
"Just want to know what it is I'm putting into my mouth," Arnie added, smiling up at her for the first time since she'd actually gotten him to laugh back at the bus stop.
Lila smiled back, her nervousness calming down considerably at seeing that nice smile on his face. "Yeah..." she said, unavoidably dreamily... She shook herself of it quick enough, though, and she shot out of that room and into the kitchen as fast as she could before she could make anymore of a fool of herself.
While she was fumblingly searching for where she'd placed the cocoa box in the kitchen, Arnie took a few moments to reflect a bit.
Lila seemed to like him... which was odd. Granted he knew that back at the bus stop it was more than obvious that she liked him, but now she was seeming to actually, really like him... That peck on the lips had frazzled his brain a bit back at the bus stop, and not to mention suddenly having a freaking laughing fit for the first time since he was a mere babe, but now since they'd gotten into the dry security of her apartment, he'd been feeling a lot more like himself. Dry, uninspired, secretly bitter... and yet Lila was only seeming to like him all the more. It didn't make sense to him in the least, but here it was, staring him in the face.
Lila actually still had romantic feelings for him.
What the heck was wrong with her?
She was so... pretty, feminine, lovely... with her modest, green sun dress and bare feet, she was an angel. The gentle curves, petite height... She would fit perfectly in his arms...
These thoughts startled him and he immediately shook himself of them, snorting a little to himself.
But really, she was obviously attractive, pleasant - still the same, sweet as pie Lila he'd known from so long ago... The high school diploma framed on her wall told him that she'd actually managed to finish school (unlike him), she was very hospitable, and that kiss from back at the bus stop had managed to send him into a very un-Arnie-like, smiling daze.
Once again, Arnie snorted and shook his head. Why did his mind keep coming back to that?
But the point was, what could she possibly see in him? He had no life, no goals, no friends. He lived alone on an old farm where he worked alone, his parents long dead. His life had been failure after failure, loss after loss, miss after miss... He had no purpose in life anymore... if he ever did, anyway. He lived a very quiet, lonely life...
Yet Lila was still clearly very interested in him as a mate. He didn't get it.
She was just so... so Lila. So sweet, kind, optimistic, feminine. But she was grounded also. She didn't want some big, loud life or to be part of any big news or change the world. She just wanted to focus on her own life and keep things simple, normal. She wanted the same things as he did. He stirred his cocoa a little with the spoon, taking a sip as he thought of these things. Just a... a normal life, with each other, nothing distracting them away from their lives, work, and each other... each other especially...
But Arnie himself... Nobody liked him, not even his own cousin really. He was so boring, bland. Lila was very bright and happy, but he was very gray and... and... nothing. He was nothing. He barely even existed. Nobody cared about him. Even he couldn't find it in himself to care about himself. What was there to care for? His odd hobbies and interests, strange tastes, weird tendencies, lack of looks. He sighed through his nose, staring back down into his cocoa, and his slowly dissolving marshmallows.
This was new territory for him. He hadn't seen Lila in years, and things were going way too fast for his liking. Already they'd kissed again, he'd held her in his arms, he'd actually laughed... and that was before they'd even gotten back to her apartment! No, no, this wasn't right, he thought decisively. He wasn't sure he had it in him to reject her, but if they did start a relationship, it would have to be taken very slowly. He never wanted to hurt her again... never...
His seemingly endless train of thought finally came to an end when Lila gracefully made her way back into the room and sat down back on the couch across from him, holding out a packet of cocoa to him. He took it and nodded his thanks, already reading through the ingredients to himself.
Arnie blinked, looking up at Lila sitting there with a small frown. His heart stung at the look on her face. "Huh?" he questioned.
Lila shook her head, leaning over towards him. "Read it aloud," she requested softly, having missed hearing him pronounce all those long words as he had so long ago.
"Um... okay..." Arnie blinked one eye at a time, feeling a bit puzzled, though it didn't show on his face. Why would she want to hear about the ingredients of cocoa? Sure, it was interesting to him, but he was a freak. Nonetheless, though, he looked back down at the packet and read aloud, "Sugar, corn syrup, modified whey, cocoa, hydrogenated coconut oil, marshmallows (sugar, corn syrup, modified corn starch, gelatin, artificial flavor), nonfat milk, calcium carbonate, less than two percent of: salt, dipotassium phosphate, mono-and diglycerides, artificial flavor, carrageenan." He listed off smoothly, pronouncing each word exactly.
Lila just sighed lightly to herself, her head perched up in her hand, and smiled a small smile. "It's very impressive how you can read all of those off like that..."
Arnie just shrugged a little and placed the packet down onto the coffee table. It was becoming abundantly clear to Arnie that Lila really wasn't setting her sights very high when it came to men. "Thanks..."
Lila just sighed again, her eyes a bit glassy.
Arnie just blinked at her.
After a few minutes of this continued cycle, Lila finally came out of her daze enough to realize there was a very awkward silence present between them and she blinked, blushing. "Oh, um... so anyway, Arnie, we should catch up. After all, we haven't seen each other in just oh too long." Her folded fingers came up to let her head rest on them as she looked at him, her lashes lowered halfway. "So how have you been...?"
Arnie pursed his lips a little at that question, contemplating how to answer... After a moment, he decided the truth was probably best when talking to someone who saw lying as some kind of horribly disappointing trait in a guy, and he wanted terribly to please her, no matter how much he wished he didn't. "Bad," he answered bluntly, his face blank, as per usual. He swallowed some spit and then continued, "My parents died a while back, I dropped out of High School in eleventh grade, I live alone my farm. My pet pig, Abigail died when I was fifteen." He snorted, struggling to try and seem uncaring. "Nothing new, really." He looked down.
There was a tense pause in the room that made Arnie cringe a bit mentally, but before he could gather up the courage to look up to see Lila's expression, he felt a small, delicate hand come down onto his shoulder. It made him twitch a bit, and he shut his eyes as he listened to Lila's comforting words, clearly very concerned and genuine, "I'm so, so sorry about all that, Arnie. I know what it's like to lose someone important to you, and despite that you dropped out of school, you are a very smart man. Only someone really smart could count all the cracks on a sidewalk, do a math equation to find how many there typically are each block, read all those difficult words on food that I couldn't ever dream of trying to read, and you have such an intelligent gleam in your eye... most people can't see it, but I can, Arnie. I can." Despite himself, he looked up at her to see the genuine, caring smile on her face, and it made his heart speed up and his shoulders relax. And despite the nagging voice in his head telling him that all of what she'd just said was completely false, he couldn't help but believe her every word. He gulped a little, his adam's apple bobbing slightly as he stared at her.
There was a long silence, though for the first time, it was not an awkward nor an uncomfortable one at all.
Finally, Arnie managed to speak, some actual emotion dripping into his tone, "Thank you... Lila..."
She smiled. "You're ever so welcome, Arnie." She didn't take her hand off his shoulder.
Her soft hand still on his shoulder empowered him a little, and he glanced away slightly. "Could I ask you a question, Lila...?"
"Of course," was her sweet response.
"Why do you always say 'ever so'?" he asked in his usual, no-nonsense tone, straight to the point. But for once, he felt the need to add to his question, not wanting her to misunderstand him, "I mean, there's nothing wrong with it. It's nice. But I was just wondering why you always say that."
"Oh..." Lila's light and compassionate tone dropped considerably, and Arnie found himself immediately regretting his question. Her hand loosened a bit on his shoulder and she bowed her head a little, a small frown on her face that made Arnie want to hug her. "Well, my... my mom used to say that a lot, actually. Not as much as me, but she always replaced 'very' in sentences with 'ever so' instead, just to be a little different, and my dad always thought it was cute... I guess I just kind of picked it up... but I didn't really start saying it until after she finally passed away when I turned eight. It just... makes me feel closer to her, is all..." She sniffled a little but then shook her head, smiling once more as she looked up at him. "But I have gotten better about it. I still miss my mom, but in a way, it's as if she never left. It's almost as if she's watching over me, in a way..." Her smile turned more genuine. "So I guess I just say 'ever so' because my mom did..."
Arnie stared at her a long moment, before looking down. "I know what you mean. I do the same."
Lila blinked at this information, scooting a bit closer to him. "You do?"
"Yeah..." he responded, and then after a short pause, elaborated, "My pa used to talk in a monotone all the time, and he never showed anyone his emotions. He said that showing emotion was weakness. He was always telling me, 'If you don't have a good poker face, you'll never make it out in the world.' So I learned to keep my emotions hidden from people. The dull voice runs in the family a little, but the talking this way is just a habit..." He glanced at her again, the blue poking through the gray clouds of his eyes as he looked at her. "I guess we have something in common."
Lila's eyes clearly expressed her surprise, and she was greatly pleased with how comfortable he seemed to be around her. "Yeah, I guess we do..." she responded softly, her eyelashes fluttering a little instinctively. It occurred to her that what he'd shared had been rather... sad, but she tried to ignore it since he didn't seem very sad about it... but then again, he had just informed her he was like some kind of expert of keeping his emotions hidden (not that she hadn't already known that, of course). She pondered a moment on how to respond further, and then stood up and walked over to sit down next to him on the cooshy, golden yellow couch, her hand still on his shoulder. "You really shouldn't hide yourself like that. That's a terribly sad way to go about life."
Arnie just focused his eyes back down on the rug, trying not to think too much about how she was like... right next to him. "I don't know how else to live."
"Let people in, Arnie. Let me in. I promise there's nothing you can say that will make me stop liking you," she promised, smiling sincerely.
Arnie flinched a second, before making an unconscious decision... and then he looked her dead in the eye, his eyes more serious than she'd ever seen them before, and he said, "I don't love Helga. I never did. I did all that because I'm jealous of Arnold, and I have been for years. He's ten times better than me, everyone likes him, and his life is perfect. I wanted what he had. I broke up with you because I wanted to sabotage his relationship."
Lila's eyes went huge at this information, and her mouth fell open.
Arnie just continued, though, "I'm mean and bitter. I hate my life. I've often considered suicide. I've tried to fit in with other people, but I can't. I'm a freak. I have no goals or life. My best friend is a big pile of dirt, and I often feel worthless."
Lila's eyes widened even more, and her jaw just completely dropped at this.
Arnie had one more thing to say, though, as he stared at her with more emotion than she'd thought was possible. "I've regretted having broken up with you for practically my entire life because you're the only good thing that ever happened to me. My entire life has been empty and gray and yet every time I thought of you things seemed a little brighter. I don't think I ever really got over you, and I spent a long time trying to block you out of my mind because you caused me too much pain. But now all I can think about is how my life actually doesn't feel like a bottomless pit for once. I'm sorry I broke your heart. I was being selfish and thoughtless, and I probably haven't changed, but I'd really appreciate it if you gave me a second ch-"
"Oh, yes, yes, yes, Arnie!"
And now he was on his back on the couch, with the pleasantly light weight of Lila on top of him with her lips pressed firmly to his.
Oh, geez, it was like the gates of Heaven had been opened up to him and all he could see was his entire life flashing before his eyes! His fickle blue-gray eyes instantly turned blue as the sky and he went limp on the couch, his eyes wide in shock. Where had THIS come from? One minute he's mentally preparing himself for utter rejection, listing off all his faults, and out of nowhere he has these lovely, thin, chocolate-flavored, soft lips pressed so enthusiastically on his own! They were like the perfect fit for his lips! Every bleak thought he'd ever experienced instantly felt miles away from reality, and rainbows were instead bursting from every depth of his mind.
The saint's lips pulled away after a few seconds, though, and she was grinning so happily, as if he'd just informed her she'd won the lottery. "Oh, Arnie, of course I forgive you. Just ever so much. And no, you're not worthless, you're wonderful! Just ever so wonderful! And so interesting and smart and sweet and I forgive you SO much! Completely!" She kissed him again, and Arnie's heart, stomach, and brain did a backflip all at once. It was almost enough to make him pass out or something. She pulled back again, though, unfortunately. "So what do you think of horror movies...?" she asked almost coyly, playing with the collar of his purple and yellow plaid shirt.
"Ah..." For once in Arnie's life, he was having trouble thinking... It felt wonderful! "I-I don't care about them..."
"Oh?" Lila asked in what seemed to be surprise, blinking those deep, green forests she had for eyes. "But what about when we were nine and you picked out that one dreadful horror film?" She didn't care to remember the name. She was still trying to block out the memory of that.
"I just wanted to hold you," Arnie confessed, his heart pounding hard. He'd never felt so alive before. "I was hoping you'd get scared and hug me, and you did. You spilled the popcorn, though. It was almost forty percent butter, though, so that really wasn't such a loss." He wasn't sure, but he was pretty sure he was rambling. He'd never done that before... It felt so invigorating!
His answer earned him a kiss, which he finally managed to return for once, though he felt a bit awkward. He'd never kissed anyone before, but he found that he really didn't care as long as his lips were pressing against her own. She pulled back entirely too soon, though. "What about fast, vigorous rides? You know, like at the Cheese Festival?"
"They make me sick." He grimaced. He really did prefer the more slow, calm rides. All that bumpety-bump just made him want to barf and just freaked him out in general. Arnie just wasn't the 'fast moving' type of guy.
Lila's eyes lit up and she kissed him even harder than before. His head spun, and he wondered briefly where in the world she'd learned how to kiss so passionately from. He refused to think of her with other men, though. He just couldn't handle the idea. At least, not now anyway. Not when he was feeling so perfect. Lila's voice brought him out of his near jealous thoughts, though, "They make me sick, too! Okay, so what would you think of a night out at the opera every once in a while...?"
"It would be nice to feel cultured for once," Arnie muttered, his eyes far away. "I don't know if I'd like it, though. I don't usually listen to music very much. Happy songs depress me."
"Ohhhh..." Lila frowned sympathetically, kissing his cheek. She smiled then, her usual positive way of thinking coming out once more, as always. "Well, I'll just have to take you out sometime then. But I'm ever so sure you'll just love it. Love it so much. It's very lively and fun. My mother used to take me there once a month as a 'surprise.' Maybe I should surprise you one day." She winked.
Arnie snorted. "I hate surprises."
Lila blinked at this information a second... but then she just smiled. "Now, that can't be true. Everyone loves surprises."
Arnie's eyes darkened just a little. "My parents dying was a surprise, my pig dying was a surprise, my-"
"Not that kind of surprise, Arnie," she interrupted, still keeping that pretty smile on her face. "A good surprise. Haven't you ever had any good surprises happen for you...?"
Arnie paused to think that over a few moments, seriously trying to recall if he ever had... and then he smiled, a small sincere one as he looked at her. "Yes. You."
Lila's entire face flushed at the compliment and she laughed, snuggling into him on the couch, just feeling so happy and flattered. His strong arms coming around her made her feel safe and warm, something she rarely ever felt anymore. It made her feel like she was home. "Oh, Arnie..." She giggled then and pulled back just a little to look down at him. "I care about you very-"
A hand was suddenly brought up against her mouth to silence her, and her eyes widened a little. "I love you, Lila..." Arnie told her bluntly, as he always did, a genuine look in his pale blue eyes. No deceit, no lying. Just pure honesty and emotion.
Lila blinked a couple times at that, feeling his large hand free her mouth slowly... Her eyes teared up a little, having waited a very long time to hear those words... Maybe they were going a little fast, but... it wasn't like he'd just asked her to marry him or anything (although if he had, she wasn't quite sure if she'd have it in her to refuse him). But Arnie was very straight-forward about how he felt about things, and so she knew he was telling the truth... and for once, he was letting his emotions come through his face without restraint of any kind. His eyes spoke volumes and volumes of untold pain and love and regret, and it made her feel so happy that he was finally sharing his emotions with her completely. It showed that he trusted her, and that made her feel like the luckiest little princess in all of Hillwood... She'd actually cracked the code that was Arnie. She smiled back shakily, her eyes sparkling. "I-I love you too, Arnie... Just-"
"-ever so much," Arnie finished, kissing her for the first time completely on his own, which Lila reciprocated immediately and emotionally, her arms coming around his neck.
And although it was still raining hard outside, and the normally blue skies were dark as night... Arnie's eyes were never bluer, and for once, the giant rain cloud that had haunted him in his thoughts ever since he was a young boy... was replaced with nothing but sunshine.
A/N: I can't believe I wrote so much for a pairing that isn't ArnoldxHelga. xD I've always liked this pairing but geez, I didn't know I liked it THIS much. XD Well, whatever. Hope you enjoyed! I've been really trying to get as much chemistry as possible between these two, and I REALLY had fun with this! :D I love having all these different pairings with different situations behind them to write for for HA! Arnold and Helga's intense romance has always been very interesting and just... AMAZING to write for and I'll never get enough of them, but I also have been really enjoying writing for stuff a little new and different. TPJ Arnold and TPJ Helga, Brainy and Astrid, Arnie and Lila... and don't think I'm done with any of these pairings. ;) I've also been inspired for a CurlyxRhonda fic for a pretty long time, Sheena and Eugene (lots of people ship them, but has anyone ever taken the time to freaking EXPLORE their romance?), Gerald and Phoebe (of course), and even Nadine and Peapod kid. XD There is CHEMISTRY here that NEEDS to be explored! 8D XD And I shall be the one to do it! WHOO!
And so, the moment I've been waiting for...