A/N: Well, uh... this is awkward.

In case you were wondering, I'm not dead! Huzzah! And apparently neither is this story. After I haven't updated for... two... years...

I'm a slug.

I honestly do have another chapter coming up. This story has about two or three more chapters to go, and I'll try to get them out faster than this one!

The writer's block was ridiculously strong with this, but I finally decided "screw it" after my OCs ran rampant and wouldn't shut up. So... sorry if you hate OCs. Although I kind of love these characters. *shrugs*

Anyway, I love you all! Please don't hate me for taking so long with this. This chapter is a bit of a doozy: over 10,000 words in and of itself. That's got to count for something, right?


Disclaimer: I own nothing but the Stevenson family including, but not limited to: Parker, Cora, Nereus, Margie, Trix, and, of course, Lucky! Everything else belongs to other people. Idk who anymore.


Helga's head was still spinning from her talk with Arnold; after all it wasn't every day that she had a cordial conversation with him as herself. She was on cloud nine, reveling in the fact that she hadn't completely messed it up. It was an amazing first step in her book.

A thunderclap sounded from her pocket signaling that she had received a text message and jolting her out of her thoughts. She flipped open her phone to a text from Lucky.

Code Red. Need Cecile at Shortman's place ASAP. Not a drill.

Helga groaned. Of course that little freak would need her right now. She quickly typed back.

Fine, be there soon. Mood ruiner.

She began getting ready, pausing when her phone went off again. It was another text from Lucky.

Sorry.

That worried Helga Normally Lucky would shoot back with some retort like, "Suck it up, Pataki," or some other jesting comment. But "sorry"? That kind of treatment was usually reserved for Phoebe, not the harder, brasher Helga.

====HA!HA!HA!====

SOS Sunset Arms. Code Red. Please help.

Phoebe looked once again at the text on her phone wondering why Lucky had called her here. She knew that the redhead had a date with Sid that morning. Had something bad happened there? Did she mess something up on a college application? The same thing had happened a few weeks ago, and Phoebe had to talk Lucky into calming down and calling the college's admissions office to resolve it. Lucky might be intellectually gifted like Phoebe but wasn't nearly as sensible when it came to her own personal problems.

The partially Asian girl braced herself and raised her hand to knock on the door of the boarding house. Before it had a chance to connect, however, the door was opened and Phoebe was pulled inside as it shut behind her.

"Oh, this is bad. Bad, bad, bad!" It took Phoebe a moment to realize that it was Lucky pacing back and forth in front of her. "Oh, why now? Helga's going to kill me," the redhead continued.

"Lucky, I'm afraid that I can't help you if you don't calm down," Phoebe tried to reason with her, "Now what's going on?"

"I can't believe that they didn't tell me they were coming!" Lucky ranted, "Oh wait, yes I can! Why didn't I see this coming? Of all the things to go wrong!"

"What is wrong?" Phoebe tried again.

They were interrupted by a knock at the door. Lucky closed her eyes and hissed, as if in pain.

"Crap," she stated simply.

Seeing as her friend was going through some sort of mental breakdown again, Phoebe took it upon herself to open the door. Upon seeing Helga in her "Cecile" garb, her mouth formed a small o.

"Oh, um, Cecile," she greeted her friend, "What a surprise."

"Lucky invited me," "Cecile" explained. Both girls turned toward their ginger friend.

"Lucky," Phoebe said slowly, "Why are we here?"

Lucky took a deep breath in order to answer her, but before the redhead could speak, a girl who looked to be in her younger teens with brown, wavy hair stepped out of the kitchen. She was a little bit taller than Lucky and wore a yellow t-shirt with the phrase "Hi." written on it with plain blue jeans. On her face was a look of boredom mixed with a light twinge of annoyance.

"Margie's at it again," the girl told Lucky, her voice low and monotone.

"Margie," Phoebe repeated slowly, "Lucky, isn't that the name of one of your sisters?"

"Criminy, Clover Girl!" Helga exclaimed as she caught on, "You mean to tell me-"

Lucky cut her off with a nod.

"Doth my ears deceive me?" a feminine voice called from the kitchen as a head poked out of the door, "or did someone say my name?"

Phoebe and Helga turned to see a bright and beautiful freckled face framed by vibrant red hair.

"Yes, you were mentioned," the brunette confirmed in a disinterested manner.

"Oh, lovely!" the girl exclaimed as she clapped her hands and fully entered the entryway. She made her way to the center of the group of girls before striking a pose.

This girl was almost as tall as Helga, and her hair was neater and a deeper red than Lucky's. Freckles were scattered across her attractive features and a ruby red hue covered her lips, contrasting dramatically with the pale tone of her skin. The outfit she wore was interesting to say the least; she wore a short red-on-white polka-dot pencil skirt, a bright blue-and-black zig-zag patterned scoop-neck blouse, lacy rainbow-colored tights, and short black boots.

She continued holding her pose for a while before clearing her throat.

"You look like a flibberdeejibit. What in the name of blueberry toaster tarts are you doing?" Lucky asked.

"Waiting," the bored-looking girl answered in place of the loudly dressed, older looking teen.

"Really Trix? I had no idea," Lucky shot back sarcastically. The younger girl shrugged non-committedly.

Lucky looked to Helga and Phoebe for an answer. Upon seeing their confused looks, her eyes widened.

"Oh, right, introductions!" she cried as she rushed to correct her faux pas. She gestured to the brunette first. "This is Viatrix, but we all call her Trix. Trix, this is-"

"I know who they are," Trix interrupted, "Hi Phoebe. Hi Helga. I saw a picture of you two once." Her voice was very didactic, as if she were giving them a history lesson rather than carrying on a conversation.

"That's Helga?" the tall redhead questioned incredulously, "My oh my! You look like an absolute doll! Not that you don't Phoebe. After all, you are positively stunning yourself! I simply did not expect Helga to look like that based on her picture. Not that you looked bad in that picture, but now you're so, well, girly! Not that it would be bad if you weren't girly, mind you, but what I mean is that how you looked in the picture is so different from how you look now!"

"Margie, cool it," Lucky commanded as Helga shot her a death glare. "Uh, anyways," she continued, "Guys, this is Margaret."

"Margie will be fine; Margaret is much too formal. Really, it's a true pleasure meeting you two. I've heard so much!" Margie assured Phoebe and Helga. She took Phoebe's hand in hers and gave it a firm shake. Helga continued to glare at Lucky.

"It's not Helga," she stated as she gritted her teeth together, her eyes never straying from Lucky even as she addressed her sisters, "It's Cecile."

"My oh my! How embarrassing!" Margie exclaimed in horror. Trix's face remained blank.

"No it's not," she said in that tone she always used, "I have an eidetic memory."

"It's true. That's why she's so positively bored with everything except her little pranks, bless her poor soul," Margie explained as she gave her sister a pitying glance.

Lucky rolled her eyes and turned to Phoebe, who appeared to be the only sane person in the room.

"Margie wants to be an actress and suffers from an extreme case of sibling worship. She isn't usually quite so extravagant. Apparently our long lost older sister found her way home while I was gone and Margie's been touched in the head ever since," she explained, a bit of disgust evident in her voice.

"Do you have something against your older sister, Lucky?" Phoebe asked, "I must admit, I'm sensing a bit of hostility from you."

Lucky smirked with a slight chuckle. "That question's best left for another time, Pheebs. At the moment our dear friend 'Cecile' looks like she's about to have an aneurysm, and I have no idea when Arnold's due home."

"Quite the conundrum," Phoebe agreed.

Helga, however, was busy using her "powers of persuasion" to convince Trix that she was, indeed, Cecile.

"Listen here, you prepubescent know-it-all," she was saying.

"I'm fourteen," Trix told her.

"I don't care what age you are, geek-bait! What gives you the gall to call me a liar? My name is CECILE!"

The fourteen-year-old, however, was unfazed by Helga's fury.

"No it isn't," she repeated simply.

"CRIMINY KID! Do I need to introduce you to Ol' Betsy or something?"

"Helga, just calm down," Lucky tried.

"Lucky!" Helga yelled, angry that her friend had given her up.

Phoebe sighed. She loved her friends to be sure, but they did tend to get on her nerves sometimes, especially when they couldn't keep their heads in tricky situations. She turned to Lucky's sisters.

"Helga likes this boy who lives here, Arnold, but she's too she to talk to him without bullying him, so when Lucky move in here she dressed up as her more feminine alter-ego Cecile. Cecile and Arnold now go on dates ever so often, and we can't let Arnold know that he's actually dating Helga," she told them. Trix nodded at this news, as if that made all the sense in the world, but Margie let out a high-pitched squeal.

"That's so romantic!" she declared with a clap and some small hops, "A masquerade, just think! Oh, and not to mention a twist on the clichéd plotline where a boy picks on a girl because he likes her. Don't worry, lovely. You're secret is safe with me!"

Helga stared at the girl in quiet rage before turning her harsh gaze to Phoebe. "It's really comforting to know exactly what it takes for you to spill my most carefully kept secrets." The sarcasm in her voice was borderline acidic.

"Oh, you know I didn't mean any harm," Phoebe replied with a soft smile.

"Besides, Pataki, we need them on our side anyway," Lucky added. Helga rolled her eyes.

"You two are going to be the death of me."

======HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!=====

Arnold had taken the "scenic" route home in an attempt to get a firm grasp on his feelings before returning to the chaos that was bound to happen at the boarding house. He realized now that he had loved Helga for a rather long time, and that was hard for him to comprehend. More confusing than that, however, was the notion that he should do something about it. Do what? How? And how could he be sure that Helga wouldn't absolutely hate whatever it was that he did?

Lost in his thoughts, Arnold turned a corner tightly. He immediately regretted his carelessness as he hit a guy a little taller than himself, sending them both sprawling. The other boy managed to regain his footing, but Arnold wound up hitting the wall of the building next to him.

As he blinked away the sting of pain, he finally got a good look at the person he had run into. He had never seen this guy before, but for some reason he seemed a bit familiar. The stranger's most defining features were the freckles covering his nose and his shaggy light brown hair. Arnold also noted the look of annoyance on the other person's face and felt a small twinge of guilt.

"Sorry," he apologized.

"It's fine," the stranger replied whilst dusting himself off, "I have no idea where I'm going, so maybe you can help me out. After all, you apparently know this city so well you don't have to look where you're going."

"I-"

The guy cut Arnold off with his hand. "It's a joke. But really, you could help me out."

"Uh, sure," Arnold replied with a degree of uncertainty , "Where do you need to go? I'm Arnold, by the way."

He stuck out his hand, allowing the stranger to take it and give it a firm shake.

"Thanks. I'm Nereus. I've been trying to figure out where the Sunset Arms is for quite a while now, but I can't seem to make sense of this city. My sister lives there and my family decided to rent out a couple of rooms for the month to surprise her, you know, a little holiday family vacation thing, you know? Anyway, my parents wanted to do a bit of Christmas shopping and I went with them rather than sticking around to greet the little psycho, but they only wanted to go to lame stores, like antique furniture and crap like that. Even dealing with my sister is better than that torture."

"Wait a minute, you're Lucky's brother? Her family is in town?" Arnold questioned with surprise. Nereus seemed nice enough, but he didn't seem too fond of Lucky for some reason. Was it just him, or was her entire family like that?

"Unfortunately yes. You know her?"

"Yeah, my grandparents own the Sunset Arms. I live there."

Nereus laughed. "I am so sorry. Of course you'd be the poor guy that has to deal with Lucky. She's too nuts for even her own family to handle."

"What do you mean?" Arnold was concerned. He really cared about Lucky. Sure, she acted a bit off at times (okay, all the time), but she didn't seem dangerous if that's what Nereus was implying.

The brown-haired boy rolled his eyes. "Of course she didn't tell you. Crazy and deceitful; that's our little Luckster."

"Is there something I should know?"

"All in due time, Arnold, all in due time," Nereus assured him while gently placing one of his arms across Arnold's shoulders, "Let's just say that my little sis is definitely not as innocent as she pretends to be."

Arnold, luckily, didn't have to respond to Nereus's comment as the boarding house came into their line of sight. The two boys made their way to the building in silence, only pausing briefly when Arnold had to open the door. After entering, the two went into the living room to find a brunette with wavy hair sitting on the couch.

"Lucky, Margie, Phoebe, Cecile," she called in a bored tone, "A blond guy and the attitude problem are here."

Cecile? Arnold wondered if he heard correctly. He had almost forgotten about her, and he soon realized an entirely new problem in his plans to woo Helga. How was he supposed to break things off with Cecile? It's not like they were an official couple or anything. How could he just break up with someone that he's only dating without it sounding like he never wants to see her again?

"Very cute Trix," Nereus said with a roll of his eyes, completely oblivious to Arnold's inner turmoil, "I thought you didn't do sarcasm."

"I don't," she replied in her typical monotone. Nereus shot her a dirty look. His face quickly took on a much more pleasant expression as the girls entered the room.

"Oh, uh, hello ladies," he addressed Phoebe and "Cecile" with a nod and a kind smile before turning to his redheaded sisters. "Margie. Lucky." He spat out Lucky's name as if it left a bad taste in his mouth while she looked away in shame.

"Phoebe?" Arnold asked, "What are you doing here?"

Phoebe froze for a moment, unsure of what to say.

"Oh, it's nothing Arnold. Lucky just got us all together for some girl time. You know, after her big date and everything," "Cecile" quickly suggested to Phoebe, who nodded in affirmation.

"Oh that Curly!" An outraged voice from outside was heard, muffled by the walls of the boarding house. "I swear to God, I'll wring his scrawny little neck!"

"Oh no," Phoebe breathed.

"What is she doing here?" Helga groused under her breath. A loud knock resounded, and her eyes widened. Her disguise might be good enough to fool Arnold and some boys, but if the person outside was who she thought it was then "Cecile" might be found out. "I, uh, left something in Lucky's room!" she explained as she bolted up the stairs. There was no way she was going to let Rhonda Wellington-Lloyd, gossip queen, meet Cecile. No freaking way.

Lucky, being the closest to the door, was the one to let the mysterious voice in.

"Oh, it's you," Rhonda stated nonchalantly as she stepped inside, "Tell me, is Arnold home? I must speak with him at once. It's quite urgent."

"In the living room."

Rhonda handed Lucky her coat, a nice dark fur one with red lining, as she walked past. Her outfit was in her typical colors, black and red, with a long red shirt with a slanted hemline belted decoratively near her waist and some black skinny jeans partially covered up by her designer snow boots. Lucky looked quizzically at the coat in her hands before laying it across the seat of the nearest chair.

"Arnold, you have to help me!" Rhonda cried before realizing that there were others in the room. "Phoebe? What are you doing here? Arnold, are you having a party without me?" She turned to Lucky's siblings, a dazzling smile overtaking her face. "Hello everyone, I'm Rhonda Wellington-Lloyd! It is so nice to meet you all."

"Pleasure to meet you, Rhonda," Margie assured her. As she took in the fashionable girl's appearance, her eyes widened, "Oh my goodness! I absolutely adore your boots. I have a pair myself back home. My sister Theria wore them for a photo shoot and the wardrobe people just let her keep them. We wear the same size, so she just let me have them." The aspiring actress smiled with pride. "Don't you just love them?"

Rhonda stared at her slack-jawed for a moment. "Theria," she repeated, "As in Theria Stevenson. The model?!"

Lucky rolled her eyes. "Didn't you have something you wanted to discuss with Arnold?" she reminded Rhonda in an attempt to change the subject.

"Oh," Rhonda replied with a shake of her head in an attempt to focus on whatever social tragedy had befallen her, "Of course." She turned to the blond boy. "Arnold, you have got to help me. That twisted little freak is out to ruin my life!"

"Nah, your life is just collateral damage in one of her warped plans,' Nereus muttered with a pointed glare at Lucky.

"What are you talking about?" Rhonda demanded, "More importantly, who are you?"

"Name's Nereus. Nereus Stevenson," the boy introduced himself plainly, "And weren't you talking about her?" He pointed to Lucky.

"No." Rhonda gave him a look like he was nuts. She didn't even really know Lucky that well.

"Well, if you've got another twisted little freak in your life, I don't know how you survive."

Rhonda rolled her eyes. She'd admit that Nereus was cute, but his angsty schtick was getting really old really fast. She turned back to her football headed friend.

"Anyway, Curly is driving me insane!"

"Rhonda," Arnold finally said, "Calm down. What did Curly do?"

"Well, as you know, I always have my winter ball every year at my house and, this year being our senior year, I wanted it to be the best ever. I've been working on this party for months, and Curly really wanted to plan the decorations. In what I can only assume was a moment of utter insanity, I agreed to let him do it.

"So today, less than a month away from the party, I finally got to see his decorating scheme, and you know what the theme for the decorations is? Winter sports. The colors are green, white, and bright orange! Like a poorly made ski jacket or something! How can we have a ball with a sports theme?! He ordered a half-pipe for the backyard for snowboarding and skates for ice skating on my pool. What's worse is that my own father let him do it! Now we can't return the stuff, and there's not enough time to redo the decorating design. My winter wonderland is ruined!"

Nereus leaned over to Phoebe and whispered, "And she wants Arnold to do what about her stupid problem?" Phoebe just put a finger to her lips to signal him to be quiet and watch.

"Well, you could just do a winter bash Rhonda; sports and games outside with ballroom dancing inside. Couples could skate together even," Arnold suggested. Rhonda frowned thoughtfully.

"That would be kind of romantic," she admitted, "And it might be more fun to have more to do."

"See?" Arnold told her, "Curly's not such a bad guy."

"True," Rhonda allowed, "but he's still going to get an earful about that orange." She glanced at her watch. "Thank you for your help, Arnold, but I'm afraid I do have to get going. I'm supposed to meet with the caterer soon, but I couldn't continue with the preparations until I got this whole decorating thing resolved. As usual, you were magnificent help."

She shook his hand before turning and exiting the living room with Lucky close behind her to see her out. Upon seeing her coat on a chair she gave Lucky an exasperated look and gathered up the mistreated garment. She then turned to address the girl.

"That's your sister, right?" she asked with a nod in Margie's direction.

"Was the red hair that big of a giveaway?" Lucky joked. Upon seeing Rhonda's unamused expression, however, she continued, "Yeah, she, Nereus, and that bored looking girl are my siblings."

"And is Theria Stevenson another one of your siblings? Truly?"

Lucky grimaced at the mention of her older sister. "Why, are you a fan?" Rhonda gave her an appalled look.

"A mere fan? Lucky, do you have any idea who she is? She's Theria Stevenson, the icon of the fashion world. Every designer wants her to wear their clothes. She is the epitome of class and grace. Her daily outfits are positively inspired, and she's planning on releasing her own clothing and fragrance line next fall. Anyone with the slightest interest in fashion wants to be her. She's Theria Stevenson: model, icon, and my idol."

"All I know her as is Theria Stevenson, the one who hogs the bathroom whenever she's actually home," Lucky commented dryly.

"And you actually got to grow up with her?" Rhonda continued, "You're so lucky!"

"Yep, that's me," she joked in a bored mutter.

"So how long are the in town?" the fashionista asked anxiously, referring back to the Stevenson siblings in the next room.

"I don't know. They're here for Christmas, that's all I know."

"Fabulous!" Rhonda cried, "I figured Sid would probably bring you along to my winter ball, but you must bring your siblings."

"You do realize that the youngest one here is only fourteen, right?"

"Oh, she'll have fun. Besides, any sister of Theria Stevenson must be mature enough to handle a ball like this," Rhonda assured her, "There are more questionable people on the guest list anyway. You know, like Stinky, Helga, Harold-"

"Sid," Lucky offered with a raised eyebrow.

"Exact- oh. Right. Sorry," Rhonda tried to back track, "Well, my date isn't exactly high society either. Either way, I'll be sending you and your siblings invitations soon."

Lucky nodded, resigned to the fact that the wealthy girl was not going to change her mind. She moved to open the door for Rhonda who thanked her and then took her leave.

Back in the living room, things were taking a turn for the uncomfortable.

"So Arnold," Phoebe began, "Long time no, uh, talk."

"Yeah," Arnold answered, "How're, um, things with Gerald?"

"Good, good," Phoebe replied, looking away.

Margie couldn't take the awkwardness and kept opening and closing her mouth as if she wanted to add something to the conversation but couldn't figure out what to say. Trix simply sat by with her usual expression, not caring one way or the other about the conversation or lack thereof. Nereus looked on with a bemused expression adorning his face, as if entertained with how uncomfortable everyone was. Lucky stayed in the doorway for a moment watching the pitiful social sitation in front of her before she spoke up.

"I'm going to go upstairs with Cecile for a while," she announced, "Margie, Phoebe, Trix, why don't you all come with me. We can girl talk or paint our nails or plan a revolution or something."

The girls all followed Lucky up the stairs as Nereus called up after them, "Remember Lucky: nothing illegal!"

Trix, who was at the back of the group, turned around and gave him a look of death befitting her stoic and monotone personality.

"Nereus," she stated, "Shut up."

Arnold continued to watch with a puzzled expression as the girls all finally disappeared up the stairs and into Lucky's room.

=====HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!=====

The afternoon passed slowly in the boarding house. Phoebe and Helga decided to stay for dinner much to Margie's excitement, and the girls just spent the day talking and working on their charm business which also pleased Margie to no end. Helga suggested that they also invite Sid, which surprisingly seemed to interest Trix. Apparently Lucky had told her some story about some prank that Sid had pulled that she found brilliant but no one else remembered and she wanted to talk to him about it.

When the gir;s went downstairs to tell Pookie of the extra seats needed at dinner, they found her talking with the heads of the Stevenson household: Lucky's parents. Because of the extra mouths to feed, the Stevenson parents were insisting on making dinner for the residents of the Sunset Arms, and when they heard that even more people were joining them they became more adamant. Arnold had already invited Gerald to eat with them as well and now with nine more people than usual attending dinner they didn't want to cause the elderly woman any undue stress.

The number of guests attending dinner posed a problem for seating, so it was decided that the food would be laid out in the kitchen and everyone would eat in the living room on the couch, chairs, and floor. Not only would they not have to worry about seating, but it would also allow everyone to get to know one another in a more informal setting than around a dinner table.

While the adults were discussing the schematics of what would be their dinner scene, Phoebe did a silent appraisal of Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson seemed strong and respectable in his light blue button up shirt and dark gray pants. He wore thick, wire-rimmed glasses on his nose and had a classic-looking silver watch adorning his wrist. The man's dark brown hair was peppered with grey specks, including his bushy, partially ginger mustache and short beard. He was a rather tall man and towered over his much shorter wife.

Out of the two parents, Phoebe would have to admit that Lucky took after her mother in the looks department. The woman was small in almost every way yet still did not give off the appearance of being fragile. She had a sort of soft confidence and strength about her. Her partially white but generally red hair was pulled back into a bun. She wore a nice coral button down shirt and a simple pair of jeans.

After the logistics of dinner were figured out, the girls returned to Lucky's room to once again remind Lucky's sisters (really just Margie) of the importance o the Cecile masquerade and how they should not blow it. Trix just blinked at them before returning to reading the dictionary, which Helga took as a sign of passive compliance.

This could definitely work.

======HA!HA!HA!=====

"Mmm, mmm, mmmh! Is that your grandma's cooking?" were the first words out of Gerald's mouth after entering the Sunset Arms. Arnold chuckled.

"Actually that's Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson. Mr. Stevenson has a pot roast going, and his wife is making cherry cobbler for dessert."

"Well if it tastes as good as it smells, then we're getting pampered tonight!"

"Sure thing Gerald," Arnold replied as his face fell into a sad sort of smile.

"What's the matter Arnold?" Gerald wanted to know. The blond boy sighed.

"It's… complicated. I'll tell you once we get up to my room."

The two boys quickly made their way up the stairs, ignoring the shouting coming from Oscar and Suzie's room, as usual. Those two were always in some sort of argument. Oscar had gotten slightly better over the years, but by and by he was still a major mooch.

"So, what's up?" Gerald asked once they entered the sanctity of Arnold's room.

"Well, it's kind of hard to explain-"

"Oh, girl trouble," he deduced.

"How did you-"

"Arnold, it's always girl trouble with you. And I mean that in the best possible way. You just have bad luck when it comes to the ladies is all. I mean, take Helga. It's been over thirteen years, and she still torments you."

"She's not that bad," Arnold tried to remind him.

"And it took forever to find Cecile."

"Too long," Arnold agreed with some discomfort.

"And Lucky's cool and all, but you've got to admit something's a bit off there."

"True."

"It's not your fault. It's just the way things are," Gerald concluded.

"I guess you're right," Arnold admitted with a sigh.

"So what are the specifics of the girl trouble plaguing you right now?" the other boy pressed.

"Well, it's about Cecile."

"What about her? Trying to figure out how to ask her to be your official girlfriend?"

"No!" Arnold shouted. Gerald gave him a surprised look. The football headed boy blushed. "I, uh, I don't really want to date her anymore, I guess."

"Why not?"

"Well, I don't know. I mean, I feel really bad for the whole strawberry thing, but she didn't seem to be phased by it at all. I could've killer her, Gerald, and she wasn't even mad at me! I wanted to see her again so I could get to know her, but I haven't learned a thing about her in all these months, and that proved it. It's like she's not even real."

"So why now? That whole thing happened over a month ago."

Arnold looked away, unsure of what to say. A sly smile crept over his friend's face.

"Who is she?" Gerald asked.

"Huh? Who?"

"The other girl Arnold, the one who you want to date instead of Cecile. Who is she? Anyone I know?"

"Why do you think there's another girl?" Arnold wanted to know. What he that transparent?

"I know you, man. Don't think you can hide something like this from me, alright? It's insulting." Gerald crossed his arms for good measure. "So who is she? Sheena?"

"What? No!"

"Well it's gotta be a single girl, and knowing you it's someone from school. What about Gloria or Katrinka?"

"No. Listen Gerald I-"

Giggles cut off Arnold's sentence.

"Don't tell me it's Helga!" Gerald cried in between chuckles. While Phoebe might have insisted that there was good in Helga, he still couldn't fathom someone liking her in the romantic sense, especially Arnold. He wasn't even sure that Helga was capable of showing affections.

Instead of deny it, however, Arnold simply blushed. Gerald paled. This could not be real.

"Tell me you're joking," he pleaded. Arnold's continued silence caused him to panic. "Man oh man oh man! Geez, Arnold, are you incapable of liking a girl who could possibly like you back?"

"Hey!"

"Come on man, think about it. How many times have you had a crush on a girl and it didn't work out? And now there's this girl that does like you, but you're not interested. Now I've heard of a guy wanting something he can't have, but this is getting ridiculous. I mean, Helga? The one girl who has hated you since the day you met?"

"But does she really? I've always considered her a friend, and I think she's thought the same of me."

"Look, I'm not going to pretend I know a thing about what goes on in Pataki's mind, but even if you are 'friends' that doesn't mean that she wants to date you."

"I know, but it's still worth a shot."

Gerald sighed. "Why do you like her anyway?"

"I don't know," Arnold began with a blush, "She's just so full of emotion all the time. Sure she tries to hide what hurts her, but in her writing it all comes out. She's full of contradictions. She's brash and angry and abrasive but has the heart of a poet. As much as she likes to act like she doesn

T have a conscience, she usually does the right thing in the end. You cam

T predict anything she does. The way her eyes roll when she thinks I'm being stupid or the tone of her voice when she's issuing a challenge is hypnotizing. She's just… incredible."

Gerald shook his head.

"Mmm, mmm, mmh! Man Arnold, you've got it bad. But you know what you gotta do now, right?"

"Yeah, I know."

"So when are you gonna see Cecile next? You've gotta do it soon or you'll just be leading her on."

"I have no idea," Arnold confessed, "I think she might be staying for dinner, so maybe afterwards. I just don't feel right calling her up and inviting her out to break up with her, you know?"

"I fell you. Don't worry, you'll think of something like you always do," Gerald assured his friend.

"I sure hope so."

======HA!HA!HA!=====

Sid made it to the boarding house shortly before 7:30 and was immediately shuffled into the living room by Arnold's grandmother.

"You're one of them 'greasers,' aren't you?" she asked as she eyed him warily.

"Um, Lucky invited me for dinner," he told her, unsure of how to properly respond, "She, uh, said she had a surprise for me."

"Oh, you've got your eye on our little leprechaun, do ya? Well I won't let her get mixed up with the likes of you; she's a good girl, and you're a no good punk!"

"Oh man," a masculine voice interjected, "Lady does she have you buffaloed! Trust me, Lucky is not a 'good girl,' no matter what she has led you to believe."

Sid turned to find himself face to face with a boy who he had never met before.

"And you would be?" he challenged defensively as he stuck his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket. Whoever this guy was, Sid already didn't like him.

"Name's Nereus. Who are you?" the other guy asked. It was then that Sid saw it. That face, that nose, that smirk.

"You're Lucky's brother, aren't you?"

"Aw, Lucky isn't too embarrassed of her big bro to mention him?" Nereus questioned sarcastically, "Wish I could say the same of her."

A disgusted look overtook Sid's face. Brother of the girl he loved or no, Nereus didn't sit well with him.

Gertie frowned as she sensed something amiss in the room. After a few moments of uncertainty, she simply shook her head.

"Well, greaser or not I suppose you're hungry. Head into the kitchen where Ma and Pops can keep an eye on you while I go get the ladies." She stared down the two boys as they made their way into the kitchen before she turned to go upstairs.

"Yo Ma! Hey Pops! Wassup?" Nereus greeted as he and Sid entered the cooking area.

"Oh, good!" Mrs. Stevenson exclaimed, "There's some salad makings in the crisper in the fridge. Why don't you go ahead and mix it all together?"

Nereus groaned loudly, but a sharp look from his mother cut him off.

"Yes ma'am," he grumbled in a gruff tone. His father smiled.

"Atta boy. Next time how about you do it without the attitude, hmm?" Mr. Stevenson suggested to his son before turning to Sid, "Sorry about my son's manners. I'm Parker and that lovely woman over there is my wife, Cora." He extended a hand to the teenager, which Sid took and gave one firm shake.

"Uh, Sid," he responded. Nereus, who was getting the salad things out of the fridge promptly dropped a bag of carrots due to a sudden outburst of laughter.

"So wait," he began in between chuckles, "you're Sid? Like the Sid? Sid Gifaldi?"

"Nereus," his father warned. Sid glared at the other boy.

"So what if I am?" the cap wearing boy challenged, "You got a problem?"

At the moment he either didn't realize or just didn't care that this was the first impression his girlfriend's parents would have of him. All that he could think about was that he didn't like this guy and that this guy seemed to have a problem with Lucky. His Lucky. She may be high strung, impulsive, somewhat reckless, and quite possibly certifiably nuts, but he loved her and didn't want anyone talking poorly of her.

"Dude," Nereus said, sobering quickly, "I am so sorry."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Sid aggressively demanded.

"I think that before my son answers, he needs to decide whether or not he wants dinner," Parker interjected in a threatening tone. Nereus just frowned and rolled his eyes.

"Of course. I forgot. It's precious little Lucky," he groused sarcastically.

"I will not have you blackmailing your sister."

"Sure, Pops. Whatever you say."

As Parker and Nereus continues arguing, Cora addressed Sid.

"I'm sorry about this," she told him, "Nereus is a bit upset that Lucky is graduating this year even though he's two years older and won't graduate until next year. He's gotten held back a couple of times because of his own laziness. It really hasn't helped that his father was pretty sick this past year."

"Really? Lucky never mentioned that," Sid mused. Cora laughed.

"Good. One of the reasons wy we sent her here was so she could get out of that situation. It wasn't good for her."

"What do you mean?"

Cora smiled softly. "You've probably realized by now that Lucky doesn't do too well in stressful situations. She can usually play it off as if she's calm and just lets off a bit of steam every now and then. Unfortunately, things back home got a bit too stressful. Hillwood seems to have been good for her, and I hear her classes give her the kind of challenge she needs to be focusing on."

"Oh," Sid replied, "I didn't know."

"I'm sorry, I thought Lucky would have told you. Honestly, though, I'm kind of glad she didn't. It's a sign that she's been focusing on other things."

"Alright everyone, food's in the dining hall!" they heard Gertie crow.

"I guess that's our cue," Parker though aloud as he pulled away from scolding his son, "Sid, could you carry out the rice? Thank you. Alright, let's get this dinner on the table!"

====HA!HA!HA!=====

"And then Pookie here started doing the member on top of the water fountain! And that's wy you should never teach a mongoose how to read."

Everyone in the boarding house aside from Mr. Hyunh, who was visiting his daughter for the evening, was having a good time. The leisurely setup allowed them to converse more freely and Phil was currently regaling Gerald, Phoebe, and Trix with a few tales from his youth.

"But how did the cow get in the tree?" Gerald asked.

"You know, I'm not sure. I never asked him!"

Phoebe and Gerald laughed, and one might have seen one of the corners of Trix's mouth twitch upwards.

On the other side of the room stood Sid and Arnold, deep in conversation.

"I just don't know what to do," Arnold told his friend after expressing his desire to break up with Cecile. Sid shook his head.

"Look Arnold, I've dated a lot of girls, and I've broken up with a lot of girld. Heck, most of them were wicked awesome and I just got bored. I'll admit that I was a bit of what you mght call a player, and I liked it."

"I don't think your girlfriend would appreciate hearing that," Arnold interjected.

"That's the thing, Arnold. I'm not that person anymore. I guess, when you're with someone you really care about like I care about her, you don't get bored. It's not that those other girls weren't pretty or funny or anything; I just wasn't interested."

"And Lucky?" Arnold asked.

"There's no one else like her. I know everyone is different, but that's the only way I can describe it. Boy howdy, Arnold, she's really something." Sid got a far off look in his eyes. Arnold smiled alongside his friend as he thought of the one who had his heart.

"I think I know what you mean," the football head agreed. Sid, no longer lost in thought, snickered.

"Yeah, with Helga," he teased. Arnold's eyes widened.

"W-what?"

"Oh, come on, Arnold. It's so obvious you've got a thing for her," Sid continued with a sly smile.

"Do people actually know?" Arnold asked in slight horror, "Does she?"

Sid laughed. "Nah, only a couple people have noticed. Helga has no idea," he assured his friend, "But you have to break up with Cecile. Don't tell her there's someone else, because that just makes a girl feel like she's not good enough. Let her know that she deserves more out of a relationship than you can give her. I've got some other things you could say, but those are sometimes seen as technically lying, and let's face it, you're too much of a goody two shoes to use 'em."

"Gee, Sid. Thanks," Arnold replied flatly.

A loud laugh resounded from another part of the room, interrupting their conversation. The boys turned toward the sound to find Lucky. She looked uncomfortable standing next to her guffawing brother and an annoyed looking Ernie.

"Boy howdy, that guy is creepy," Sid muttered.

"Who, Nereus?" Arnold wanted to clarify. He wasn't too keen on the older boy himself, but knew better than to judge people based on a bad first impression.

"I don't know what his angle is, but it's really starting to tick me off," Sid stated as most of the eyes in the room were focused on the small group that Arnold and Sid were both currently staring at themselves.

"Nereus, could you please not?" Lucky whispered to her brother.

"Oh please," Nereus told her with a roll of his eyes, "How many times have I asked you to do that, huh? To not embarrass our whole family in public? To just cool it about the computer stuff? To stop doing your 'sociological experiments?' Geez, Lucky, do you seriously think your actions only affect you? No, you know what? How dare you? How dare you ask me to 'not?' Now what? Embarrass you? Finally, after all these years, you get it. You understand what your siblings have felt all along."

As he spoke his voice rose. "Every time someone brought up 'that one weird girl,' whenever the other kids came over to do school prohects when you were there, every time someone would point and giggle when we were all out in public, there is was. The humiliation. You may not have cared, but we did. It was shameful to be a Stevenson, Lucky. Because. Of. You."

It was clear by the wide eyes in the room that everyone was either too shocked or uncomfortable at Nereus's outburst to stop him, so he continued.

"So you finally care. Good for you! And to think you only had to be arrested to understand how I've felt for my whole life!"

Brows all around the room, excluding those of the Stevenson family, furrowed in confusion. Arrested? Lucky?

The redhead in question looked like she had been slapped in the face. She stood frozen, everyone's stares boring into her. She flushed and bolted from the room. Sid, too concerned about his girlfriend to be properly furious with Nereus, followed her.

Seeing his sister's reaction, Nereus realized too late that he had gone far too far.

"Lucky, wait!" he called, looking as if he might go after her as well. His father stopped him.

"You can properly apologize to her later, young man," Parker informed him, "But you and I need to talk. Now. Get your coat." For once Nereus didn't argue.

As the two Stevenson men left, the stunned silence permeating the air turned painfully awkward. While the permanent resident of Hillwood wore confused and bewildered expressions on their faces, Margie's held a murderous look. She looked to her horrified mother who was still too shocked to properly respond to the situation. While Cora knew that Nereus had some anger issues he needed to work out, she never suspected that he would turn on his sister like that. Trix, as usual, seemed passive.

Phoebe was perhaps the most perplexed out of everyone. While Lucky would usually go along with almost any scheme someone suggested if it caught her interest, she also had a history of being obsessive. She would make sure that they always had access to some sort of loophole to get out of trouble in order to make sure the plot succeeded. More than that, she really was a good person. She would never agree to assist in something that would hurt anyone's feelings, let alone break the law.

Phoebe turned to Helga, who looked concerned about their friend. She couldn't blame her. What just happened?

"Mrs. Stevenson," Suzie said in an attempt to diffuse the tension, "I just love this cobbler! Can you give me the recipe?"

Cora broke from her trance with a relieved look. "Oh, of course! Let me write it down for you and, please, call me Cora."

The conversation between the two women seemed to break the awkward tension in the room and everyone started talking, immersing themselves once again in their own conversations.

"Man, what was that all about?" Gerald asked as he approached Arnold. The remaining teenagers in the room were sort of drifting toward each other, forming a group all their own.

"I don't know Gerald," Arnold admitted.

"It's quite perplexing," Phoebe agreed as "Cecile," Margie, and Trix caught up with them.

"Look guys, Nereus is stupid," Margie told them all.

"So Lucky wasn't arrested?" Gerald wanted to clarify.

"No, she was," Trix confirmed her brother's claim.

"Trix!" Margie protested. The younger sister just gave an exasperated sigh.

"Well, what happened?" "Cecile" wanted to know. Margie and Trix shared a look before Margie finally relented.

"Alright, fine. Go ahead," she told her sister, who nodded. Those around Trix looked at her intently, eagerly awaiting the explanation she had in store for them.

"Well Dad was sick."

======HA!HA!HA!=====

"Lucky?" Sid asked as he opened the door to her room. He couldn't see her anywhere, but the chilling breeze drew his attention to an open window.

"Lucky!" he cried, rushing to the window. There she was jacketless in the winter air, leaning against the railing of the fire escape, and gazing at the city below. "Boy howdy, you must be freezing!"

"More like numb," she replied softly without looking at him.

"Come on, Lucky. Let's go inside," Sid suggested. Defiance flashed in Lucky's eyes.

"No," she stated firmly, "I can't face them. I can't even face you."

"Lucky, I-"

"I keep trying to make myself out to be a good guy in all this, you know? But the truth is I was just a scared kid wanting everything to go back to the way it was. I felt like I had to do something; he was dying. I couldn't let him die."

"What are you-"

"It was the medicine, you know? The stuff that was supposed to save him. He took it and it healed him/ he was healthy, or at least healthy-ish. Then he got hurt at work. A hernia. His guts were all displaced inside his body. Kid of gruesome, huh?" She laughed a hollow, twisted laugh. "They just sat there, threatening to rupture his abdominal organs. That would've killed him"

"Who is he?" Sid tried again. Lucky continued at if she hadn't heard.

"There was a surgery that could fix him, but he couldn't get it as long as he was on the medicine. He was okay, he didn't need the medicine anymore. The doctor said so. Dear old doc told him to keep taking it, though. It was for some 'results' they needed or something. Were the test results worth more than his life? No!" She turned and slid down to the ground, her face down and her back against the raining. "I'm so stupid."

"No you're not."

"Yes I am!" she finally responded to something he said, fire in her voice, "It was a simple enough idea. I'd hacked into databases before, and I knew how to change the information even though I hadn't done exactly that before. Just a few strokes of the keyboard and he wouldn't have to be on the medicine anymore. He could be fixed."

Sid looked at his girlfriend with wide eyes as the implications of her words sank in. He thought back to his conversation with her parents earlier as Lucky continued on with her story.

"I made a rookie mistake and left my digital fingerprints all over those files. The cops were able to track it back to me in only a few days. They took me to the station in the back of the squad car, lights on and everything."

She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment before facing Sid and smiling. "Actually it was kind of cool. I felt like a sort of spy or something." She wiggled her eyebrows for emphasis, causing Sid to laugh. He pulled her into a hug. They sat together smiling for a few moments before Sid spoke up.

"I gotta tell you, Lucky, I'm kind of relieved to hear about this," he told her.

"Oh?"

"Yep. Boy howdy, I was so afraid that you were too good for me."

"Me, too good for you?" Lucky asked incredulously, "Never. I'm afraid that out of the two of us, you're the better one."

"Well, I've had my own run in with the cops before," Sid assured her, "I blew up a building once."

Lucky smirked. "Is that so, Mr. Gifaldi?"

"I mean, I thought I did. Me, Harold, and Stinky were messing with some rockets in a parking lot and a building got destroyed while we were there. We thought it was our fault and started running from the cops. At one point we even had to tie Arnold to a chair and gag him for some reason, probably tried to ask him what to do or something, I can't remember. Anyways, we got these fake beards and were planning on riding the rails." He chuckled at the memory. "The cops eventually did come after us to tell us to go home because our parents were worried. Apparently the building had been scheduled for demolition and we had nothing to do with it."

"We make quite the pair, don't we?" Lucky thought aloud with a laugh, "The ex-con and the wanted outlaw. A regular Bonnie and Clyde."

It was Sid's turn to laugh.

"Next time I go on the lam, I'll make sure to take you with me. You can be my wicked awesome good luck charm," he told her with a wink. Lucky smiled and kissed his check.

"Mmm, mmm, mmm! What do we have here?"

The couple looked up to find Gerald, Phoebe, Margie, Trix, "Cecile," ad Arnold staring at them from Lucky's room through the window. Lucky shot a pointed look at her red haired sister who shrugged back in response, a sheepish smile plastered on her face.

"What? We were coming to comfort you," Margie explained, "We didn't think you two would be canoodling on the fire escape."

Lucky and Sid blushed and moved to crawl through the window again. Once they were inside, Margie, Phoebe, and "Cecile" quickly enveloped Lucky in a group hug.

"You okay?" Helga whispered in her ear.

"Yeah, I'm good."

"Do you guys want to go up to my room and play some board games or something?" Arnold suggested to the group since it looked like Sid had done a fine job of comforting Lucky all on his own.

"That sounds most enjoyable," Phoebe agreed.

====HA!HA!HA!=====

The kids, having no idea how much time the adults were going to spend downstairs, had begun playing a game of Own-It-All. Since a normal game usually took a severely long time to pay, Arnold had figured that everyone would have gotten bored before long, but such was not the case. They had decided early on to split into teams: Gerald and Phoebe, Lucky and Sid, Margie and Cecile, and Trix and Arnold. Arnold made a mental note to thank Margie later. If it wasn't for her insistence that she was not paired with either of her sister's, he would have been Cecile's partner, and he was not ready to deal with that considering what he was planning to do by night's end.

It was interesting to see the dynamic between each team. Gerald and Phoebe were level headed and bought whatever properties they landed on with the plan to either sell or trade them with other teams as the game progressed. Sid and Lucky were the insane ones. They bought only five properties: three of one color, the most expensive property on the board, and a railroad. They built hotels on each of the three properties of the same color. After that they were ecstatic to receive a go to jail card and, since they could still receive rent while in jail, remained there as long as possible and laughed maniacally whenever someone landed on one of their properties. Cecile seemed to be apathetic to whatever Margie did, while Margie seemed to only be interested in properties with "cool names."

Arnold had first thought that he and Trix were doing the same thing as Gerald and Phoebe up until the first time he and Trix sold a property. Trix, instead of simply stating a price, offered up a deal for the property that led to ongoing payment. Now they didn't own any properties, but were getting roughly $216 per team from the others.

"There's nothing in the rules against it," Trix informed Arnold when he asked.

As they played, Helga's mind was still on Arnold. She was currently more than a little ticked off at a certain football head. She had been trying to just talk to him all nit, but every time she tried to approach him he was either talking to someone else or busy with something. Helga wasn't stupid; she could tell that he was avoiding her. The reasoning behind his actions, however, was unknown. Why was he ignoring her? Did she do something wrong?

As worried as she felt, however, she was also a bit miffed. Cecile was, after all, pretty much he best thing that ever happened to that stupid football head, so why was he acting like such a moron? It just didn't make any sense.

The game continued for about an hour and a half or so before Gertie burst into the room.

"Aha!" she exclaimed, "I knew you no good greasers would try and corrupt these poor girls!" She pointed an accusing finger at Gerald and Sid, who were currently counting their respective team's money and thus had many fake bills in their hands. "Now you've got them dealing on the black market!"

"Grandma," Arnold said with a sigh, "That would make them gangsters, not greasers."

"No, Arnold!" the excited woman cried, "Not you, too! That settles it. Out with you two!"

"Grandma, you can't do that!" Arnold protested, but Gerald shook his head.

"Nah man," he told his blond friend, "I should probably get going anyway. Mom doesn't like it if I stay out too late. How about you, Phoebe? Want me to walk you home?" His girlfriend smiled.

"I find that arrangement most agreeable," she answered.

"Wait, what time is it?" "Cecile" wanted to know. Her parents might not realize if she wasn't there, but Olga certainly would. She looked at her phone. "Oh shoot! I really need to get going, too."

"I guess now would be a good time for me to head out, too, huh?" Sid joined in.

"Alright, I'll walk you guys out," Arnold conceded. The entire group of teenagers made their way down the stairs and to the front door, passing by the living room as they did so.

"Leaving so soon?" Parker called from said room.

"Uh, yeah Mr. Stevenson," Sid replied, "It was wicked awesome meeting you, sir."

"Hang on a moment," the older man stopped them, "I've got someone who has a message for you all."

The group paused and turned to see a sheepish and apologetic Nereus. Sid eyed Lucky carefully, who had visibly stiffened in the presence of her brother.

"What do you want?" the leather clad boy snarled in a way to let his girlfriend know he had her back. Nereus whinced.

"I, uh, want to apologize," he told them, "To all of you. I should've kept my fat trap shut. I'm sorry for ruining dinner and, well, everything else."

Sid narrowed his eyes as he closely examined Nereus, as if it would help him detect if the other boy was lying or not. Lucky looked back and forth from her brother to her boyfriend with a grin before erupting into giggles. Both boys turned to her.

"I'm sorry!" she said in between laughs, "It's just so funny! I mean, think about it: usually it's the brother who doesn't trust the boyfriend. Here it's my boyfriend who doesn't trust my brother!" She continued laughing in her insane manner as everyone just kind of stared at her.

"You know," Margie said after Lucky's laughing fit started to subside, "I'd almost forgotten how undeniably nuts you are."

Lucky smirked deviously, proving her sister's point further.

"Well, thanks for the apology, I guess," Gerald cut in, "Phebs and I should really get going, though."

"Yeah, and I've still got some chores to do at home," Sid explained.

"Alright. Well, thanks for having dinner with us," Arnold told them.

"And for dealing with my family," Lucky added jokingly. Phoebe giggled as she and Gerald departed and Lucky walked Sid to the door. He looked at her expectantly, but she cast a glance back at her siblings. Sid's face fell slightly as he understood what she was trying to silently tell him, but he understood her not wanting to show affection in front of her family. As she donned her classic smirk, however, his brow furrowed. What was she-

Swiftly, she pecked him on the lips. Unlike their kiss earlier, this one was short and sweet. It was a new feeling for Sid, who in his player days was used to heavy, but albeit meaningless, kissing. H found that he liked this kiss more than the longer ones from other girls. It was like a quick reminder that she loved him and didn't want him to forget it.

"I'll see you later," she told him with a smile.

"Yeah you will," Sid replied with a goofy grin plastered to his face.

It was Margie's and Nereus's laughing that brought the couple out of their little moment. Sid coughed as Lucky blushed.

"Uh, I guess I should go then," Sid suggested.

"R-right," Lucky stammered, "I'll see you tomorrow or something?"

"Sure."

Sid made a move to exit and Lucky gave him a small wave punctuated with a thumbs-up. After he was out of sight, she shut the door and turned to Margie and Nereus.

"On a scale from the invention of the wheel to blow-drying your hair while in the bath, how bad of an idea do you think that was? Remember, you're dealing with a hardened criminal here," she reminded them.

"Oh what, now it's okay to joke about that?" Nereus complained.

"To be fair, you weren't joking," Arnold told him. The blond boy had decided to give Nereus a second chance. Sure, the Stevenson boy didn't really strike him as trustworthy, but Arnold knew of the importance of not judging a book by its cover. Besides, Nereus had seemed pretty authentic with his apology.

The older boy rolled his eyes. "Fine, I'll give you that."

"I think it's really time for me to get going," "Cecile" suddenly piped up.

"Oh, of course!" Lucky exclaimed, "C'mon guys, let's allow these two lovely homo sapiens a smidgen of privacy, hmm?"

She corralled her siblings and led them upstairs, leaving Arnold and the girl he had been dating to talk alone.

"Crazy dinner, huh?" Arnold began nervously. How exactly does one start a break-up conversation?

"Yeah," "Cecile" responded awkwardly. "You know, I kind of got the feeling that you were trying to ignore me. Weird, huh?" She tried to play it off with a laugh, but it died quickly in her throat when she realized that Arnold wasn't laughing along.

"Listen, Cecile, I want you to know that I think you're really great," he began, "but the thing is-"

"You don't want to see me anymore, do you?" she interrupted, her expression blank and cold. Arnold was silent for a few moments, but she wasn't having it. "Do you?"

"I'm sorry," Arnold told her without meeting her eyes.

Helga refused to cry, no matter how much the repressed tears stung her eyes. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she chose to respond.

"Fine then," she stated simply, suppressing her desire to tear him a new one, "Then this will be the last time I will burden you with my presence. Goodbye, Arnold."

She turned to leave, but Arnold caught her arm.

"Wait, we can still be friends!" he insisted.

Helga pulled her arm away gruffly without turning to face him.

"No, Arnold. We can't."

With that, she walked out of the door and out of his life.


A/N: Yep, a 2 year hiatus and I give you a bucketful of angst. This story turned out to be a lot more dramatic than I originally planned, but hopefully the good-natured insanity makes up for it sometimes!

Also, for some reason I really like imagining Lucky and Sid as Bonnie and Clyde. They're too unconventional to actually rob banks and take other peoples money, though. They'd probably only pull something like that during a board game. Mreh.

It's kind of late here and I have a paper to write still, but I wanted to make sure that this actually got posted after all this time. I love you all! As usual, read and review! Your reviews help me to know how the heck I'm doing, because without you lot I have no clue.

I'll try to get the next chapter out soonish, but it won't be before the end of the school year, I think. I've got finals as well as a lot of family stress to deal with. This has just been written up since last semester and I'm loosening my typing fingers for all these essays I'm supposed to write. At least that's what I'm telling myself...

Anyways, you guys are wonderful and I hope you had a fun time reading this!

Until we meet again,

-NerdilyNi