A/N: For anyone who was wondering if I'd given up on this story not to worry for I am back. I started Uni again so moving house and beginning essays and a shit load of reading made me loose track of time. Does this make me a poor FF writer I'm afriad so, I apologise and we shall commense with the story.

Disclaimer: I don't own HA!

Chapter 6: Dark Escapes and Messy Pranks

Helga's already short temper was wearing thin as she was dragged backwards through the San Lorenzo jungle. Her feet kept tripping over the unstable ground of rocks and roots painfully jarring her ankles and causing her to stumble but he didn't notice too intent on getting as far away from the camp site as possible. She could see Phoebe and Gerald trotting along behind them, Phoebe was looking at Helga worriedly, probably able to see the anger building on her face. Gerald, however seemed to be close to laughter, and Helga had a feeling that if he hadn't been short of breath from running then he would have been in full blown hysterics.

She tried to yank her arm out of Arnold's grasp again, but his grip held on easily. She silently cursed his Grandma for giving him those karate lessons last year; the stupid shrimp was stronger than he looked. It wasn't until a tree branch slapped her sharply on the back of the head that she snapped.

'Arnold! Crimney slow down would ya Football Head!' Helga yelled angrily.

'Sorry Helga, I can't, we have to keep moving. I'll explain later,' Arnold babbled anxiously as he darted wildly through the trees dragging Helga with him.

'Well at least let go of me so I can turn around,' she huffed, finally managing to tug her arm out of his grasp, 'Do you want me to fall over Paste-For-Brains?'

She halted suddenly spinning around so that she could face Arnold and scowl angrily at him. But before she could so much as glare Gerald and Phoebe - who had been running just behind them - collided with her. All three of them tumbled to the ground in a tangle of limbs and bags. Turning around Arnold directed the flash light he'd rescued from his backpack earlier and shone it on his friends on the floor sighing loudly.


Lying on the floor, Helga could feel Phoebe's elbow digging into her side and Gerald's feet were worryingly close to her face. She winced as Phoebe tried to move jabbing her in the stomach accidently.

'Sorry Helga!'

Arnold helped to pull Phoebe off of the ground and as soon as the small girl had detangled herself from the pile Helga shoved Gerald away from her and sat up.

'What'd you stop for Pataki, are you trying to kill us?' Gerald snapped, giving her an annoyed glare before examining his t-shirt that now had a large smear of dirt across it and groaning, 'Aww man, I liked that shirt too.'

'I'm sure it'll wash out Gerald,' Phoebe said, helpfully offering the boy her hand to stand up. Smiling he took it.

Helga clambered to her feet batting Arnold's hand angrily away from her; she was in no mood for his stupid chivalry streak right now. As Phoebe and Gerald smiled sweetly at one another Helga rolled her eyes. Glancing down at her shorts she noticed that they too were now covered with dirt, and she tried to brush some of it off muttering angrily under her breath about tall hair boy and Phoebe making googly eyes at one another.

'Guys we need to move, we're still too close to the camp,' Arnold called anxiously. His eyes kept darting from the three people in front of him to the path they had just made in the undergrowth.

'Sorry Arnold, let's go' said Gerald, his attention snapping away from Phoebe guiltily, while she smiled shyly from behind him and nodded her head encouragingly.

They all looked at Helga who was fiddling with her hair attempting to see if the ends of her pigtails had gotten dirty by the extremely dim light of Arnold's torch. She looked up her eyes going wide as Arnold directed the torch to her and saw all three of them all staring at her. 'What?' she demanded, her face snapping back to a scowl.

'We were just saying that we should probably keep moving Helga, to put more space between us and the camp,' Phoebe piped up before her friend's bad mood caused another argument between her and the two boys.

Helga stood there quietly for another couple of seconds before smirking up at Arnold playfully, 'Lead the way Football Head,' she said sarcastically gesturing forward with her arms.

He rolled his eyes at her act but chose to ignore it at least she was agreeing however she chooses to go about it. He moved forward and following Arnold's lead the four of them began to once again race through the dense jungle in an attempt to put as much space between them and the camp as they could.

Back at the camp the screeching screams of girls had stopped and instead the yelling of the Principal had taken its place as he paced back and forth between the three young boys stood in front of him, Sid looked terrified, Stinky ashamed while Harold was merely looking bored. 'When we return to Hillwood you three will be serving detention until you graduate!' Principal Wartz threatened waving his finger angrily in their faces.

'Awww man,' Harold moaned loudly.

'Yes, Principal Wartz,' Stinky and Sid replied monotonously. Not daring to voice their opinions as much as their leader.

'Now you're all going to clean the mess you made in the girls tent until it's completely spotless and only then will you be allowed to sleep and no cutting corner's either I'll be watching you.' He ordered directing them off towards the tent where Mr Simmons handed them clothes and some water.

'Why does Wartz have to be so mean,' Harold whispered to the other two as they walked across the camp towards Mr Simmons.

'Yeah it was just a harmless prank, it's not as though anyone got hurt,' Sid agreed, glancing back nervously to make sure Wartz couldn't overhear them, 'Just a bit messy' he began to snicker stopping quickly as they approached Mr Simmons.

'Boys I want you all to know how incredibly disappointed I am in the three of you,' was all he said as he handed the boys their things. All three of them hung their heads feeling ashamed. The one thing they didn't want to hear from their favourite teacher was the disappointment speech.

'Man this really bites,' Stinky muttered sadly to himself as he entered the tent.

This was no fair, Harold thought to himself angrily. There he was in the middle of pulling the greatest prank of the year when Rhonda Wellington Lloyd had woken up and screamed down the camp site waking everyone else up as well. He would have gotten away with it if she hadn't woken up. Now the three of them had to have detentions and Simmons was upset with them. The tent was messy and he whined childishly as he began to clean up the mess they had made.

The girls were all across the other side of the camp attempting to clean themselves of the mess of food that they had been covered in. All of them were covered in whipped cream, peanut butter and baked beans and it stank.

'Ewww, this is so gross.'

'My hair is going to be ruined.'

'My Mom is going to kill me when she sees this.'

They had used their water supplies in an attempt to wash the worst of it off, but some were forced to change their clothes or were still brushing bits of food out of their hair. Occasionally one of them would shoot death glares at Harold's gang. Rhonda Wellington Lloyd had been the least affected out of all of them. Having been incredibly uncomfortable on the cold floor in her sleeping bag, a dramatic difference to her princess bed with its soft mattress and plush pillows and soft satin sheets meant that it had been next to impossible for her to sleep. She felt as though she could feel every tiny bump in the floor beneath the tent. Waking up for the second time she had heard a movement in her tent and seeing a large person stood above her she had screamed her head off causing all the other girls to wake up.

It was a whole hour later that until everyone was clean again and the tent had been scrubbed clean enough to satisfy Principal Wartz (although it still smelt of food). Finally everyone was allowed to go back to bed. After a day of travelling across the country and walking through the San Lorenzo jungle, everyone dropped off one by one into an exhausted sleep. All of them too tired and distracted by the excitement of the day to even notice that four of their party were missing.

Their sluggish feet skimmed the floor, as their heads grew heavy and thick with exhaustion. They strained to keep their eyes open against the ever growing darkness surrounding them as the density of the jungle increased with every step. The moon hung lazily in the sky above them slowly beginning to descend peering between the thick canopies of the trees. As tired as they were Arnold hadn't let them stop for a second, his body grew heavier and heavier, acting as a dead weight attempting to pull him to the ground, but he kept moving forward ambling slowly and on shaky legs. He didn't much further only making it into a small clearing before his vision blurred and he swayed on the spot, stumbling slightly. He felt a hand steady him, holding him still to stop him from falling to the floor. Gerald, Phoebe and Helga all stopped to make sure Arnold didn't fall over again, their shaky limbs stung with relief at being allowed to finally stop

'Arnold, let's stop here for the night,' Gerald said, putting a hand over his mouth to cover his yawning, 'if we don't sleep soon we're going to drop where we stand.'

He made to argue but another wave of dizziness over took him and the hand on his arm gripped tighter and pulled him upright.

He knew Gerald was right he was close to collapsing from exhaustion. Rubbing his sore eyes and yawning loudly he turned nodding silently in consent. Gerald sighed in relief and dumped his bag to the ground and flopping down after it. His head drooped and he blinked rapidly in an attempt to keep his eyes open. He knew he should have got more sleep last night, but he had been so excited about being able to finally go to San Lorenzo, to get the chance he'd been waiting for all his life that his body had kept him frustratingly awake and now he was paying for it.

He heard a sigh to the left of him and felt himself being gently tugged over to the tree that Gerald and Phoebe were now sat at. He followed the hand without question, it was gentle but firm with him and he followed it willingly as it forced him to sit down on his best friends other side. He slowly blinked up to see Helga crouched down next to him undoing the straps of his heavy backpack to free him from it. She underneath the glow of the moon and stars he could see her cheeks turn darker as he continued to stare at her.

'Geez Football Head talk about helpless,' she said, softly without any of her usual bite, 'you wouldn't last five minutes out here with me.'

He felt himself grin widely, his eyes drooping half lidded as she fiddled with the second strap and the heavy weight was released from his shoulders. She glanced at him and her big eyes went wide in shock before she stood up abruptly and quickly walked over to Phoebe sitting down and facing away from the rest of them. Arnold continued to watch her as she attempted to wrestle her sleeping bag from its holder.

In between them Gerald looked from Helga with her back to them to Arnold who watched her with a look that was disturbingly close to the ones he used to give Lila and Ruth McDougal. Shaking his head in pity at his best friends' hopelessness he looked to Phoebe who was grinning happily as she watched Arnold watch Helga. He opened his mouth to her to ask but she pushed her finger to her lips in a shushing movement and shook her head still smiling. Gerald felt as though he was missing something, something big, but too tired to think about it now clumsily climbed inside his own sleeping bag. Maybe if he remembered he'd ask Phoebe tomorrow, she always knew more than he did, heck she knew more than anyone did.

Helga silently cursed herself for her moment of weakness; she blamed the exhaustion for causing the drop in her usual iron defences. Arnold had noticed, how could he not have noticed, she was right in front of him and he had been grinning at her. The same smile flashed in her mind and she was tempted for a moment to turn her head to look at him again but resisted. Maybe she was just imagining it; he couldn't have been looking at her in that way, that was the look he gave girls he liked. She shook her head angrily for daring to believe it

Come on Helga, he was practically falling over, his eyes were half lidded like that because he could barely keep them open, not because he actually likes you, she thought. She flopped backwards angrily, lying down and staring up at the stars. There was no denying that he was smiling at you though? Her mind spoke up and she slapped a hand to her ears in order to block out the sound of her thoughts betraying her, causing her to hope.

For the longest time Arnold had felt so alone, ever since he had found the map he had felt this weight on his shoulders knowing that the hope of finding his parents rested on his small shoulders. But as he lay there beneath the waning moon watching the stars shine brightly twinkling against the inky depths of the night sky knowing that three of his friends were there beside him he suddenly felt happy. Tomorrow he would ask for Helga and Phoebe to help him and the four of them could find his parents together. Remembering the FTI incident for the millionth time something told him Helga would not refuse him and wherever Helga and Gerald went Phoebe would follow loyally. Yes for the first time in month Arnold didn't feel so alone.

'Night guys,' he said suddenly.

'Night, man,' Gerald yawned back.

'Goodnight Arnold, Gerald, Helga.'

He held his breath waiting for her response, nothing. Just as he began to wonder if she had fallen asleep he heard it. It was like a whisper carried in the wind but he heard it.

'Goodnight Arnold.'

Smiling to himself he turned over and closed his eyes.

As the four children slipped off into an undisturbed slumber they didn't realise that they were being watched. Nearby within the bushes a figure watched staring at the boy with the football shaped head. The man mumbled the word 'Arnold' before slinking off into the night back to his people.

If anyones confused about time span here then remember that these are ten year olds so therefore their ordinary bedtime would proabably be about 9pm. So by the time they are escaping here it would be about 10/11pm and by the time they stop for the night I'm gonna say its about 1 or 2 in the morning. Just in case anyone was thinking it was almost morning when they stopped to sleep.

Reviews are welcomed