AN: Originally I wanted to get this up and posted by Valentine's Day, but I got a little carried away with school. Now as I procrastinate writing my paper for my plate tectonics class (absolutely ew), I've managed to finish it! Just a little one-shot dialogue-based Arnold/Helga store, set when they are 21 years old. Enjoy!
I'll Go With You
Helga Pataki looked around Arnold's childhood bedroom, an immense feeling of nostalgia coming over her. Nothing had changed. The same weird wallpaper, the same crazy couch, the same giant skylight. Just the way she'd left it.
The door creaked open behind her. Without turning, she smiled and said, "Thanks for volunteering to keep me company tonight, Arnold. I really appreciate it."
"Hey, don't worry about it," Arnold replied, closing the door behind him, "Everyone deserves a Valentine date. Here, I brought you a glass of wine."
She turned and accepted the glass, a mischievous smile on her face. "Are you trying to get me drunk, Football Head?"
He grinned at her. "You wish, Pataki. Just trying to be a gentleman."
She laughed and made her way to the couch, flopping down as inelegantly as possible. "Well, you know me, Arnold-o. I've never been much of a lady."
"Ain't that the truth," he replied, sitting down next to her. "How did we ever become friends?"
She pointed to the pink accessory she wore in her hair, a slightly smaller and toned down version of the one she wore when they were in elementary school. "You said you liked my bow."
"No, that's how we met," Arnold teased, "I mean, how did we become friends."
"You were charmed by my winning personality?" Helga suggested.
"No, that can't be it," he replied, making a face at her.
"Oh, you mean, how we went from me making your life miserable to me making your life infinitely better in every way possible?" She smiled and batted her eyes at him.
He laughed and leaned back on the couch. "Yeah, something like that. Or how you went from tormenting me since we were five to calling me up and asking me to be your impromptu 'just friends' Valentine's date now that we're twenty-one."
"Well," Helga began, pulling herself into a laying position, and throwing her feet into Arnold's lap, "Maybe I realized being mean wasn't going to get me anywhere. In life." She added quickly.
"That happened when? Like around fifth grade?" Helga nodded in answer. "And then…?"
"And then we worked on that one project together for history class and started spending more time together…and then Phoebe and Gerald got together and we had to spend even more time together."
"Oh yes, the great Phoebe-Gerald merger of eighth grade," Arnold quipped. "Jesus, have they really been together for seven years?"
"I know, and without a single breakup. Can you believe it? They make me sick." Helga rolled her eyes, playfully.
"That's an awfully long time to love somebody," Arnold mused, absent-mindedly playing with Helga's feet.
Helga smiled weakly at him, "Yeah, well, I've heard of longer."
"Hmm?" Arnold asked, turning to glance at her.
"Your grandparents," Helga said quickly, "God, it's been like a million years with those dinosaurs, huh?"
"Hey!" Arnold said, smacking her leg gently, "Don't tease them. They let me stay here and feed me when I come home from college."
"As opposed to Bob and Miriam," Helga added, "Who turned my room into yet another shrine to the Great Olga."
Arnold was quiet for a second, then lightly squeezed Helga's foot. "I didn't mean it like that," He said, a little awkwardly.
Helga flashed him a smile, "Eh, no big deal, Football Head." She sat up, removing her feet from his lap. "How's school going for you anyway? I barely get to see you now that you're in Boston and I'm off in New York."
Arnold looked a bit taken aback by her change in position and topic, but merely shook his head and answered, "Uh…alright, I guess. Nothing special. Just working on finishing my degree. How's your writing program going?"
"Really great!" She said, enthusiastically, "I think I might get this big internship at the New Yorker next semester."
"Journalism now, huh?" Arnold asked, "Whatever happened to your poetry?"
She shrugged, "Not as inspired, I guess."
Arnold laughed, "Ha…I remember your poetry from back in elementary school and high school...seemed pretty inspired back then."
Helga groaned, "I never should have shown you some of that stuff! You're never going to let it go…God, I was so cheesy back then. So cliché. Ugh, so glad I changed tracks – I never would have gotten anywhere with that."
"You're joking – you were amazing!" Arnold insisted, "Very…passionate." Helga snorted and shook her head. "No, really, my favorite was, um… All the days of the week I write the name I dare not speak. The boy with the cornflower hair – my beloved, my despair."
Helga's eyes widened. "I showed you that one?"
"No…I stumbled upon it once in your room." He said, smugly.
"Oh God…what else did you find?" Helga winced.
"Oh, nothing, after I read that I felt like I had invaded too much of your privacy so I stopped my snooping," He paused for a second. "You know cornflower's actually a shade of blue, right? Nobody has blue hair."
Helga, satisfied, leaned back into the couch again, "Maybe I was writing about that guy who worked in the liquor store on 15th street. He had blue hair."
"And a Mohawk and like twenty tattoos. Doesn't seem like your type." Arnold teased.
"Oh? And what's exactly my type, Arnold-o? In our sixteen years of acquaintanceship, how many boyfriends have you known me to have? What type are you sensing here?"
Arnold shrugged and leaned back on the opposite side of the couch, facing her. "I don't know. Just not like that. Maybe someone…I don't know, more like me."
Helga could feel herself turning bright red, but tried to play it off, nonchalantly, raising her eyebrow. "So I'm into Football Heads? What makes you think that?"
Arnold laughed, sitting forward and inching a bit closer to her. "I don't know, my cornflower hair?"
Helga flushed even further at Arnold's closeness. "Cornflower's blue, remember?"
"Yeah, but a little fourth grader wouldn't have known that. She might have thought it was some sort of yellow-ish color." Arnold came even closer, a grin upon her face.
Helga looked away nervously, laughing. "You're forgetting, I was really smart for a fourth grader. I would have known the difference."
"Yeah, sure," Arnold said. Helga could feel her breath on her neck, and it made her tense. "You okay there, Pataki?"
"Mmhmm…" Helga mumbled, not bringing herself to turn to face him.
"You haven't touched your wine," Arnold whispered.
Eager to distract herself, Helga raised the wine glass to her lips, but something caught her eye.
There was something glittering in the bottom of the glass.
All was silent for a minute. Neither of them moved. The room was still. Finally, Helga spoke.
"Arnold," She said, calmly, "What is this in my glass?"
"What does it look like, Helga?" Arnold said, just as calmly.
"Why," She replied, a tight smile on her face, "It looks like a ring, Arnold."
"Oh," Arnold glanced into the glass and nodded. "So it appears."
"Arnold," Helga began. She paused, and took a deep breath. "Why is there a ring in my glass?"
"Why do you think there's a ring in your glass?" Arnold asked, sweetly.
Helga stood up abruptly, pulling the ring out of the glass, shoving it into Arnold's face. The glass spilled silently on Arnold's carpet. Arnold glanced at the carpet, "Well, at least it was white wine instead of red."
"Arnold!" Helga shouted, snapping his attention back to her. "Does this mean what I think it means? Are you…are you…" She couldn't even finish the sentence before she started hyperventilating.
Arnold jumped up from the couch and grabbed her shoulders, "Oh, no, Helga, no, I didn't mean to freak you out! It's not an engagement ring or anything; I'm not proposing!"
"Then why…would you…" Helga struggled to speak in between breaths, "Put...a fucking ring…in myfucking glass?"
Arnold smiled at her, wearily. "I'm not proposing…but I am asking you to be my girlfriend."
Helga thought she would faint.
"Look," Arnold went on, quickly. "We've known each other since we were five, we've been practically best friends since middle school…and I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the way…I fell in love with you."
Oh, she was definitely going to faint. She grabbed onto Arnold's shoulder for support, and he squeezed her shoulder tightly.
"Once upon a time, you told me you loved me. I know that was forever ago, but I still think you feel it too. Helga…I love you. And I want to be with you."
She was lightheaded. She couldn't breathe. Was this real?
"I…I think I need to go lie down," She managed to squeak out.
Arnold laughed, and threw his arms around her, pulling her close. Resting his chin on her head, he replied, "I'll go with you."
Helga's heart stopped at the familiar dialogue. As she stood in Arnold's arms, breathing in his scent, her face buried in his shirt, she calmed herself, and accepted this reality. She leaned back from Arnold, a smirk upon her face.
"Yeah, you will," She said, devilishly.
Arnold grinned back at her, happy she wasn't running away, before he registered her words, "Wait, what?"
Suddenly, Helga was pushing him to the bed, roughly shoving him until he was lying down on the bed, a perplexed look on his face. She jumped on top of him, straddling him, her fingers working at the buttons on her shirt.
"H—Helga?" He asked, bewildered.
"Listen, Football Head," She said, stopping her work on his shirt, and staring into his eyes. "I've waited sixteen years for you to say those words. I'm not about to wait any longer to have my way with you. This has been building up for years."
"Don't you want to maybe take it slow?" He suggested.
"Definitely not," She responded, almost automatically.
"But you haven't even said you'd be my girlfriend yet." He pointed out, meekly.
"Oh," Helga cocked her head to the side. "Oh, yeah. Definitely yes." She grinned, nodding her head ferociously.
Arnold stared up at the girl on top of him and grinned dumbly. "Awesome," was all he managed to get out.
"Now, back to business," Helga said, leaning over and pressing her lips to his.
Awesome, Arnold thought, pulling her down on top of him. Awesome.