AN (for entire series): Drabbles to keep my brain awake so I can finish this "epic" story I've been thinking about for months but have been to lazy to put to paper. Anything goes, folks.
AN (for this chapter): What if Helga's FTI confession went a bit differently? (AU)
"Maybe I don't hate you as much as I thought, okay? I guess maybe I even kinda like you a little. Heck, you might even kinda say that I like you a lot."
"You do? You did this for me?"
Helga turned around and faced Arnold, a frustrated look on her face. "That's right, hair-boy! I mean, criminey, what else are you supposed to do when someone you love is in trouble?"
Arnold stared at her, confused. "Love?"
Helga's heart filled with dread. Crap. She hadn't meant to go that far. She searched his eyes, desperately trying to think of a way to save this whole mess.
Arnold cleared his throat. "Helga," he said quietly, "Are you saving that you love—"
"GERALD!" she cried out. Arnold took a step back in surprise. Helga laughed nervously. "I love…Gerald."
Arnold didn't say anything. He looked like didn't believe her. He opened his mouth to reply, but Helga cut him off.
"I mean, yeah, I did this whole Deep Voice thing for you. But only because you're Gerald's best friend. I mean, I like you and all, Arnold-o, but it doesn't even come close to how much I care about…Gerald."
She couldn't believe what she was saying. Arnold seemed to share her disbelief.
"Wow." Arnold shook his head. "This is a lot to take in…I need to lie down."
Oh, how I long to go with you, Helga thought. She grabbed his hand. "No time for that now. You have to save the neighborhood!"
She knew her declaration of love for Gerald wasn't the best solution. But she'd deal with that later. At least, for now, her secret was safe.
Once Arnold had saved the day and the neighborhood was safe, he pulled her aside.
"Look, Helga, about what happened on the rooftop…"
"Heat of the moment!" She blurted out. Arnold tilted his head, confused. Oh crap, that made no sense at all.
"Uh, I mean…" She looked down at her scuffed shoes. "Look, Arnold…"
"I won't tell him."
She looked back up. "You won't?"
He smiled, kindly. "It's not my place."
She swooned inwardly as he walked back towards Gerald. Oh, Arnold, so noble, so kind so—
Gerald looked at her curiously from across the street.
-I'm so stupid.
Helga didn't think anything would change between her and Arnold post, uh, "confession". But when school started, he began talking to her more. Weekly conversations turned daily. She grew so fond of holding normal, insult free conversations with him that she eased up on the bullying. She realized she hadn't thrown a spitball at him in ages.
Eventually, Arnold broached the 'Helga loves Gerald' topic. She supposed that was his goal all along.
"You should just tell him," he said.
Helga shook her head. "You know I could never do that to Phoebe," she chided. "Besides, I kind of like loving him from afar. It's…I dunno, romantic."
Arnold rested his hand on top of hers. "I just want you to be happy, Helga."
Helga's heart thudded furiously. You have no idea how happy I am.
Arnold managed to convince her to reveal her "true feelings" at Rhonda's winter party bash. She'd agreed—but only because the Gerald charade had gone on long enough. Feelings were going to be revealed at Rhonda's party, that was certain, but they were going to be Helga's feelings about Arnold, not Gerald.
They walked to Rhonda's house together. When they reached her stoop, Arnold tugged on Helga's arm to stop her.
She looked at him, confused. "What?"
Arnold ran a hand through his hair nervously. "Helga, I know you love Gerald—" Helga cringed a little, but he didn't notice—"and I know I probably shouldn't say what I'm about to say, but…God, I hope you don't hate me for what I'm about to say..."
Panic crept its way up her body. "You told him, didn't you?"
"What? No! No, I promise I didn't do that."
Helga relaxed a little but tensed up again when he grabbed her hand.
"Helga…I love you."
She shrieked. Arnold cringed.
"I know! I just…we've been spending all this time together and…you're such an amazing person. Look, I know you can never love me. But I had to tell you, Helga. I'm sorry—"
She grabbed his face and kissed him. Kissed him the way she wanted to kiss him all those months ago, on top of the FTI building.
She pulled away, her eyes opening slowly. His eyes were wide with shock.
"It was never Gerald. It was always you," she said softly. "Uh, sorry for all the confusion," she added, her cheeks burning.
Arnold pulled her into a hug. "You're lucky I'm very forgiving."
She laughed into his shoulder. "I think that just means you love me."
"True." He pulled away. "Hey, say it back."
She smiled mischievously. "'It back'?"
"Okay, okay, jeez. I..I love you."
He smiled and kissed her.