I know I'm a dork for recognizing the It's a Wonderful Life homage in "April Fool's Day," but I DON'T CARE! For those of you who've seen the movie, there's a brilliant and famous scene afterwards when George and Mary walk back to her house and chat. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, you should immediately and you can see the scene on Youtube; just search "George Lasso's the Moon" and it should be the first result. Anyway, the idea's been chewing on my brain for a while so I figured I'd get it out so I could concentrate on my French essay.
Secondly! I am a massive creeper for keeping their ages at nine, but... I didn't want to have the same thing happen at the dance for, like... seven years in a row. :T Don't hurt me, guys. It's pretty innocent!
Anyway uh! Enjoy! I tried to keep them IC but the scene is just so mushy that it was difficult sometimes.
I don't own any of these characters; there's this genius named Craig Bartlett who does, though…
Anyone walking the streets of Hillwood on the balmy April night would find their ears assaulted by the dissonant, off-key singing of two peculiarly-dressed nine-year-olds. It hadn't entirely been their idea (as anyone could tell by the partially disgruntled looks lurking under their sopping hair), walking home together and singing bad duets, but it wasn't a day for plans.
"Ohh, you beautiful doll, you great big beautiful doll! Let me throw my arms around you; I could never live without you! Oh, you beautiful doll, you great big beautiful doll! If you ever leave me, how my heart will ache! I wanna hug you, but I fear you'll break! Oh, oh, oh, oh… oh, you beautiful doooollll!"
Arnold was visibly cringing as he attempted to squawk out a harmony on the last line, giving a horrible grimace when his voice finally trailed out. Helga was cackling.
"Nice job, football-head. I think you mighta broken somebody's windows." She smirked, pulling the entirely too-big bathrobe from the locker rooms over her shoulders. The bottom of it was trailing along behind her, growing dirty and frayed. She didn't care; she wasn't the poor sap who owned it.
"Ah, c'mon; that was great. Just like an organ," Arnold protested as the two continued along. Helga snorted audibly and derisively.
"Yeah, if you like broken ones."
"I told Gerald I thought I'd be miserable tonight," Arnold said. "I was for a while, but you should've seen the commotion in the locker room; I had to knock down three sixth-graders to get this stuff we're wearing."
"Anything's better than my grandma's old trench coat," Helga grunted, wringing out her limp pigtails for the hundredth time since they'd left. She snickered at the football uniform on Arnold, which made him look even smaller than usual. He was holding the pants up in one hand, as they were wider than this head, and her wet clothes in the other. "Don't tell me I look as dumb as you do."
Arnold surveyed his costume and smiled ruefully. "Yeah… I guess I'm not really the football type."
"Matches your head, though," Helga jibed, and he grumbled.
"You look… nice," he offered earnestly. It was true – though the robe was obviously over Helga's usual size by about five, she looked almost ethereal in the whiteness of it, her hair straggling down the back and dampening it.
"Uh, thanks," Helga grunted, inwardly swooning.
"I mean…" Arnold's steps slowed and Helga turned to face him where he'd stopped on the sidewalk. He was staring at his shoes. "If it wasn't me talking, I'd say you were the… prettiest girl in town."
Helga could have fainted right then and there, but instead she put a fist into her hip and growled, "Don't get all mushy on me, Arnoldo. You must be blinder than I am if you think I'm prettier than Lila or Rhonda."
"You're not blind, though," Arnold elbowed her good-naturedly as they continued on their way, and she harrumphed in response, folding her arms and scowling away from him.
"Yeah, well I was at some point, Arnold, and don't think I've forgiven you for it, either!" she snapped. He shrugged neutrally.
"Whatever you say, Helga."
They walked in silence for a while, the night buzzing around them, occasionally being illuminated by a passing car. They came to a step leading to a higher part of the sidewalk and Helga took it first; Arnold was about to follow her, but he found himself stepping on the tie of her robe, which she'd been allowing to dangle along in her wake.
"Oh, whoops," he mumbled, hopping back as though he'd walked into a volcano.
"Nice job," Helga snarled. She inhaled in an attempt to cool her instinctual animosity. "Sir," she recovered, sticking her arm out dramatically. "My train, please!"
Arnold threw his hands in the air in self-deprecation. "A pox upon me for a clumsy lout! Your, uh," he bent down and retrieved the long ribbon of satin, handing it up to her. "Your caboose, milady."
(And just when Helga thought she couldn't love him more, he decided to go all Shakespearean on her! What a darling!)
She nodded gratefully.
"You may kiss my hand," she said haughtily, with every intention of it being a joke. Arnold let out a contemplative hmm, surveying her hand curiously. She grinned to herself, knowing that the chance of his pecking it was slim, but at least he hadn't recoiled in disgust.
It took her a moment to notice, but suddenly Arnold's eyes were not on her hand, but on her face, and they were enthralled. She involuntarily took a step back.
"Hey," he said softly, inching closer to her. "Hey, Helga—"
She whirled away and continued walking, her cheeks hot, and hastily sang, "Oh, you beautiful doll…"
Arnold watched her go, confused. He looked around desperately for some excuse to bring her back before noticing they'd stopped in front of one of the oldest houses in Hillwood, a towering, two-story Victorian haunt whose windows were practically nonexistent, their glass remnants stabbing up into the dark. There was a myth going around that anyone who broke one of the windows with a rock and made a wish would have their wish come true. Arnold had always adored the idea, but Helga found it a bit wishy-washy.
"Hey, wait a minute," he called to her. She turned curiously, one half of her unibrow cocked. "Come back; I'll throw a rock at the old Granville house."
"What? No!" She came running back, looking appalled. "I mean, that's a bit out of your goody-goody range, Hair Boy, but… I like that old dump."
"C'mon, haven't you heard the stories? You make a wish and try and break some glass. You've gotta be a pretty good shot, too, because all the windows on the lower floor are already broken—"
"Criminy, football-head; when did you turn into a total vagrant?" Helga demanded incredulously. "And don't! It's… it's full of… love and romance and…" She folded her arms defiantly. "Not that I'm into any of that gooey stuff."
Arnold gave her the half-lidded smile he was so known to her for and she wobbled a bit.
"I'd like to live in it one day, maybe." She sighed, letting out a shiver. Her hair was still sopping and it was stupidly uncomfortable.
Arnold's fond grin was replaced with a wide-eyed look of skepticism.
"In that old place?" he asked disbelievingly, one hand on his side as he frowned at the silhouette of the house. Helga nodded a bit dreamily, still gazing at it with an unusually genuine smile on her face. It looked nice. "I wouldn't live in it as a ghost. Now watch this."
He bent down and picked up a rock from the sidewalk, rolling it over in his palm a few times to get a feel for it. He lifted it to the sky, closing one eye and sticking his tongue out thoughtfully as he lined it up. Helga watched him, enthralled.
"I'm gonna go for that window right there on the second story," he said, pointing to a surprisingly undamaged one. Helga didn't have the chance to protest before he pulled back and tossed with his pitching arm. It smashed into the glass with a magnificent ruckus, and some of the shards tumbled to the ground like falling pieces of the sky.
Helga turned to him, unable to hide her mischievous smirk. "What'd you wish for, Hair Boy?"
Arnold faced her, his hands suddenly on her forearms, his eyes glittering with a passion she had never seen before.
"Not just one wish," he breathed fervently. "Helga, I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and next year, and years after that… I'm shaking the dust of this crummy old city off my face and I'm gonna see the world!" His hands were gone now, thrown in the air around him in excitement. "Italy, Greece, San Lorenzo, the Eiffel Tower, the Coliseum, Scotland, Brazil… and then maybe I'll come back here and go to college, y'know, see what they know; and then I'm gonna…" He turned to the moonlight, his hair aglow against its nacreous beams. "I'm gonna… build things."
Helga was silent.
"I'm gonna build bridges and archways and hospitals and skyscrapers… a hundred stories high!... And then I'll…"
His voice trailed off as he noticed, out of the corner of his eye, Helga swiping a rock from the ground and staring resolutely at the windows of the Granville house.
"Hey, what's wrong? Are you gonna throw a—"
He gulped down the end of the sentence as Helga threw back her arm and catapulted the pebble in her hand into the air. It sailed through the highest window like a bullet, hardly making any sound at all as the glass dissolved around it. Arnold gaped in awe at the trail of its trajectory.
"Wow," he murmured, and looked at her, beaming. "What'd you wish for, Helga?"
She sighed as though it weren't any matter of great importance before starting to pad down the remainder of the sidewalk, twirling the tie of the robe as she went, and singing, "Squeeze me dear, I don't care; hug me just as if you were a grizzly bear."
Arnold trotted along after her, joining in again.
"Oh, you beautiful doll, you great big beautiful doll! Let me put my arms about you; I could never live without you! Oh, you beautiful doll! You great big beautiful doll! If you ever leave me how my heart will ache; I want to hug you, but I fear you'll break… Oh, oh, oh, oh!"
The two stopped again and faced each other, with Arnold wincing at their discordance on the last line.
"Oh, you beautiful dooollll… what'd you wish when you threw that roooooock…?" he sang temptingly, leaning toward her in encouragement. She rolled her eyes.
"Nope, nope, nope!" she insisted with square shoulders. "If I tell you, it might not come true!"
"What is it you want, Helga?" Arnold asked, and Helga wanted to scream, you!, until the world went deaf. "What do you want? You want the moon?" He grabbed her arm and steered her around until she was gazing up at the full moon above them and pointed to it. "Just… Just say the word, and I'll – I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down!"
"Jeez, Arnold!" Helga cried, eternally grateful that the dusk was hiding her furiously red cheeks.
"Hey, that's not a bad idea," Arnold mused, putting a finger on his chin thoughtfully. "I'd give you the moon, Helga."
"I'll take it, then!" she replied, deciding to pity him and play along. "Then what?"
He froze, looking momentarily panicked at his lack of forethought, but then a grin of realization split across his face and he stared at her eagerly.
"Well, then… then you could swallow it! And it'd all dissolve! And the moonbeams would all shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair, and…" His voice trailed off, to Helga's dismay – she was inwardly begging, more, my love, more! "Am I talking too much?"
Before Helga could answer him, a voice burst out from behind the two of them, startling them to high heaven.
They both whirled around to see that Mr. Green had been watching them from his porch, and was now standing against the railing and scowling in annoyance at them.
"Why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?" he shouted. Helga could have had a stroke then and no one would have been the wiser.
Arnold stared at him, momentarily catatonic.
"I said, why don't you kiss her instead of talking her to death?" Mr. Green repeated in intense irritation.
Arnold shifted uncomfortably, eyes darting between the frozen Helga and the impatient butcher on the porch.
"You, uh… you want me to kiss her, eh?"
Helga couldn't believe he actually sounded as though this was a viable option.
Mr. Green, however, let out a loud bah of frustration before storming back inside with a growl of, "Oh, youth is wasted on the wrong people!"
"Hey!" Arnold called angrily, and the door slammed in reply. "Hey, hold on, Mr. Green!"
Helga began to panic, tugging on his sleeve in hopes of stopping him, not even considering the possibility of having to call on the help of trusty Old Betsy and the Five Avengers. Arnold ignored her.
"Hey, why don't you come on back out here and I'll show you some kissing that'd put hair back on your head!"
Helga ran, then, terrified at the prospect of being genuinely kissed by the boy she'd worshipped for years, and her escape would have been perfect, were it not for the fact that Arnold was standing on the bottom of her robe and it completely slipped off of her when she dashed.
She let out an involuntary shriek and leapt into the nearest bush.
Arnold turned, his head swiveling around in astonishment, before his stare fell on the crumpled robe at his feet. His eyes widened at the sight.
He crouched down, poking it cautiously. "Helga?" he whispered at it, wondering if she had suddenly disintegrated. He'd read about something called spontaneous combustion somewhere; maybe that was what had happened. He couldn't decide if he minded or not.
He picked the robe up, still glancing from side to side, letting out a whistle similar to the one he used to call Abner.
"Helga?" he called again, and when he was met with no reply, he threw his hands up and conceded. "Okay, I give up. Where are you?"
He leapt back a little as the bush in front of him suddenly began to shake. And quite excitedly, too.
"O-Over here," came a small voice that he wouldn't have classified as Helga's if it hadn't been for the trademark insult that followed it. "Football-head, I'm right in front of you! In the hydrangea bushes!"
The bush rustled again, and Arnold's heart rate slowed with relief. He laughed at her predicament.
"Here you go," he chuckled, preparing to toss the robe to her. Then he paused.
"Wait a minute."
He withdrew from the proximity of the hydrangea bush, conveniently out of her reach, and began to pace as though deep in rumination. He smacked a palm to his forehead as though he'd come across an obvious solution to a serious problem.
"What am I doing?" He reeled back toward the bush, still holding the robe high and away. "I still need to pay you back for tricking me all this time."
"You dropped me in the pool, Arnoldo! Wasn't that enough?" Helga snarled. The bush was shaking violently now, as though it were about to sprout legs and attack him. He shook his head, relishing the thought that came to him, and straightened, grinning stupidly out into the street.
"This is a very interesting situation!" he cried, and Helga growled throatily from the bush.
"Give it, you yellow-haired yutz!" she demanded viciously, and a hand popped out from the depths of the leaves, beckoning for the robe. Arnold disregarded it completely, beginning to stroll around the bush.
"Kid doesn't get into a situation like this very often!" he exclaimed, voice still wrought with pensiveness.
"I don't want to have to take it by force!"
"Not in Hillwood, anyway," he muttered, and Helga would have laughed were it not for the fact that she was, oh yes, naked in a bush.
"Arnold P. Whatever-Your-Last-Name-Is, give me my robe now or I'll bean you so hard you'll have to be spoon-fed for the rest of your miserable life!" This failed to deter him in the slightest.
"Hm, I've heard about things like this from Gerald, but I've never…" he mused. Helga gasped in disgust.
"I'm gonna tell your grandma!" she threatened.
"Well, I'd love to see you try; my grandma's a block down that way and she'd probably applaud me for it." Arnold shuddered at the thought.
"I'll call the cops!" Helga insisted desperately. Arnold nodded as though that was a possibility before waving a hand dismissively at her.
"Nah, they're all the way downtown. They'd be on my side, too."
"Well!" Helga barked, almost hysterical. "Then… then… I didn't want to have to do this, you schmuck, but I'll SCREAM!"
Her shriek nearly pierced his brain.
"Maybe I could sell tickets," he muttered, pacing more feverishly now. Then: "Nah, nah, then… Okay, I've got it."
He stopped, aggravatingly close to her, and she made a swipe for the robe but missed. She ground her teeth furiously.
"The point is," he said, abnormally loudly, as though she were in some deep cavern and he had to shout for her to hear him, "I'll make a deal with you, Helga. If you want this robe back, then you'll have to…"
His voice tapered off into silence and Helga nearly just pounced out of the bush and strangled him on the spot, but she heard a car pull up right beside them and, through the leaves, saw Arnold approach it. It was his grandpa in his Packard.
"Oh, there you are, short man!" she heard the muffled voice of Steely Phil penetrate the sound of the crickets. "Been lookin' all over for you! Turns out Pookie got locked up for disturbin' the peace singin' Christmas carols on Bedford Street, so we've gotta go bail the old bat out. Hop in!" A pause, then: "Ho, Arnold! What're you holdin' a girl's robe for?"
"Oh. Uh!" Something suddenly landed on top of Helga's peering space, blocking her view. It was the robe. She didn't take it, straining to hear, to see if Arnold would say good-bye to her. "I just, uh, found it. Somewhere. At school. Um, it's… somebody's. Anyway, yeah, let's go get Grandma out of jail."
A car door opened and then closed, and the next thing Helga knew, she was watching the Packard retreat into the darkness of the suburbs as she shouldered the robe on once more.
Her jaw tightened in rage and she shook her fist at the vanishing car.
"You'd better lasso the moon for me, geek-bait, after all this! I'M GONNA SQUASH THAT HEAD OF YOURS INTO A BALL ON MONDAY, YOU HEAR ME?"
Her tirade was met with only quiet, and she sighed, shoulders slackening, before picking her way out of the bush and walking the rest of the block home.
"Oh! Oh, Helga, how was… how was your… thing… that you were going to?" Miriam drawled absentmindedly when Helga walked in. "Did that… did Archie treat you to a good tiiiiime?"
"Yeah, sure, right as rain; I'm fallin' in love and all that jazz. G'night, Miriam," Helga grunted, charging up the stairs.
"I kneeewww iiiit," her mother sang as she stirred her smelly smoothie.
Helga never returned the robe.