Author's Note: It's been a very long time since I last wrote a Hey Arnold fic. It's been a long time since I felt inspired to write a fic, but I heard Adele's "Someone Like You" on the radio the other day and the story just unfolded in my head as I listened and sang along and I just had to sit and write. I've heard the song so many times before, but it wasn't until last week that this story idea came to me and only the song had an influence on the first half of the fic. The second half just came up as I wrote.
I also love the idea of Helga singing. This is the second fic I've written where she can sing. I think she'd be good at it, lol. Anyway, enjoy, guys :)
"Will You Have Me?"
Helga sat up on stage like she did every Friday night in this small, dark café. It was gaining more and more business and the owner often told her it was because of her voice. People wanted to hear more. Her voice was raw with emotion and the crowd was often left crying by the end of her set. She was just thankful that the owner still let her come by Friday nights for open mic, which was not really open mic night anymore.
It was Helga's night.
She even received payment for it now and the owner's wife was trying to get Helga back Saturday and Sunday nights also.
"People love your voice," she insisted. "They love you, Helga."
It sounded strange. People love me? Pssh. They did not know her. How was it even possible for them to love her? No one loved her. Not even her family.
No. That was not true. Phoebe was always there for her. Phoebe loved her. She was the only one.
Helga's eyes fluttered open as she sang, her heart heavy.
All the songs she wrote were for him; her admiration and devotion to him, her passion and longing for him. . .her love for him.
This new song she wrote after she heard from Phoebe who heard from Rhonda that Arnold and Lila were recently engaged.
They're probably already married, she told herself. Rhonda had heard that the two of them "disappeared" shortly after Arnold proposed.
. . .sometimes it hurts instead. . .
Helga sang with all she had. She gave it her all every Friday night in the hopes that singing it out would lessen the weight on her heart, but the sweet relief was short-lived and she struggled every day to keep her emotions in check. She wrote her poems, her songs, short stories, and she took up the piano, and she sang Friday nights, but none of that seemed to help at all.
The tears fell softly down her cheeks as she looked out into the crowd. The expressions of awe were clouded and smeared by her tears, but a single second of recognition hit her before she lost herself completely in her song.
*. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .*
"You were wonderful up there, Helga," Phoebe said, her voice as small and sweet as ever.
Helga smiled at her friend. "It's good to see you again, Phoebes."
Phoebe nodded. "School's been so hectic, but I cleared my schedule to hear you sing." She blushed.
Always so pleasant, Helga thought.
People were still calling out to Helga, praising her, offering her drinks as she and Phoebe made their way to a table. The owner and his wife stopped by and praised her as they set down a large plate of food and large pitcher and two glasses.
"It's on the house, sweet pea," the owner's wife said. She smiled brightly. "Such a beautiful voice to match that beautiful face." She winked and walked away, arm-in-arm with her husband.
Helga looked away.
Phoebe giggled. "They adore you, Helga," she said brightly.
Helga did not say anything. She picked at the food on the table and took a small bite of the spaghetti. "They don't know me," she said under her breath, but her voice was lost in the excitement around them.
Helga's eyes drifted away and for a moment she was lost in her thoughts of Arnold.
A gentle warmth blanketed her left hand and she looked up. Phoebe held her eyes, concern welled up like tears in her eyes.
"I'm sorry I haven't been more available to you, Helga," she said. The regret in her voice was overwhelming. "I knew med school was a lot of work, but I was not as prepared as I thought I was."
"Don't sweat it, Phoebes," Helga reassured. "Its demanding, I know. How is NYU, by the way? You enjoying it?"
Phoebe brightened. "I love it. The work is hard, but it's fun."
Helga chuckled with a nod.
"And you?" Phoebe countered. "How's Columbia? Do you like your English courses?"
"It's a lot of reading," Helga said with an exhausted sigh. "But I like it." She smiled.
They laughed together and then there was silence between them.
"Have you, um, bumped into Arnold?" Helga asked. Her heart started racing, Maybe she'd seen him on campus. If she had maybe what Rhonda said was a lie. Then again, Rhonda and Lila spoke on a weekly basis, but she hoped that maybe, just maybe. . . .
Phoebe shook her head solemnly. "Then again," she said with bright hopefulness, "I haven't run into him at all since I started there. We didn't even cross paths on orientation! And he's doing pediatrics, while I'm going for neurosurgery!"
"Don't most credits overlap?" Helga said.
Phoebe opened her mouth to speak, but Helga shook her head. "It doesn't matter. I shouldn't have asked. He's probably really happy. I should be happy. . . too. . ."
The tears were flowing before Helga could stop them.
*. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .*
Arnold jumped. Papers scattered as Gerald walked into the dorm. He laughed.
"You've been studying too hard lately," he said as he shook his head. He helped Arnold pick up his papers and placed them on the desk. "We should go out tonight for a bit. Rest your brain."
Arnold sighed. "I've got a test tomorrow morning. I can't go out."
"You've been studying for two hours!"
"Three," Arnold whispered.
Gerald shook his head. "You're done." He pulled Arnold by the arm. "Grab your coat and let's get out of here."
Arnold could not find the strength to fight him. He snatched the coat on his bed just before Gerald could pull him out the dorm. "Shouldn't you be studying?" Arnold asked as he tried to put on his coat one-handed. "I thought you had a test for your constitutional law class? Legal theory? Something? You should be at school studying."
"Fordham will be there in the morning," Gerald replied. "Besides, I traveled here just to hang out with my best friend because I knew he could use a break." Gerald pulled Arnold in an awkward headlock and then loosened his hold on him.
"You need to keep your mind free," Gerald insisted. "You've been trying to hide away in your studies, but I know you miss her. I still can't believe it, though."
Arnold sighed. "Gerald, don't."
"I'm not saying anything!" he said, putting his hands up as if surrendering. "I was just shocked." Gerald walked steady, allowing Arnold to find a steady pace of his own beside him. "It's ok, though. I support you, you know that."
Arnold nodded, though Gerald did not feel convinced.
After a short silence Gerald continued, "Phoebe told me about this place she likes to go to on Fridays." He paused for a brief moment. "It's a small café, but it's been getting some buzz."
Arnold barely looked up or made any kind of indication that he was even interested. "Oh, yeah?" His voice was flat and emotionless. His mind was elsewhere.
"A beautiful woman sings there on Fridays and people say her voice is unbelievable."
Arnold nodded. "It's Saturday night, though," he pointed out. "We're not going to catch her if she sings only Fridays."
"Still," Gerald said. "It'll be nice to check it out."
*. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .*
The place was crowded for such a small place. People were laughing and talking. It was suffocating and Arnold just wanted to leave. He put a hand on Gerald's shoulder and opened his mouth to speak, but a familiar voice rose above the sea of noise.
"Phoebe!" Gerald pushed through the crowd. He took Phoebe in his arms and lifted her up in a bear-hug. She squealed with glee and kissed his cheek. "I've missed you so much."
They shared a loving kiss before Gerald set her down on her feet. She definitely grew taller, but she could not surpass anyone height.
"Arnold," she said sweetly and embraced him in a warm hug. "It's really good to see you." She pulled away to look at him. "You look. . .well." Her cheeks turned pink. "We go to the same school yet I've seen Gerald more than I've seen you."
Arnold smiled. "Yeah," he replied. "Same here."
Phoebe studied him for a moment.
"What's the matter?"
The embarrassment at having been caught staring was plain on her face. "Well," she began, "for someone who just got engaged you look a little unhappy-"
"Engaged?" Arnold and Gerald both exclaimed. Phoebe winced and shrunk into herself a little bit. The lights dimmed and the piano began to play before either of the boys could ask her what that was about.
Arnold's eyes opened wide when he saw the familiar face on stage. "Helga," he whispered. He watched her as she sang and listened to her voice. It was beautifully haunting. The emotion she invoked was incredible and the silence that fell as soon as she opened her mouth was astonishing. The entire crowd was spellbound and completely moved by the sound of her voice and her words.
She seemed to be in a trance herself. She was completely focused on her song.
"Amazing," he said, his voice just barely a whisper.
The song ended and after a short silence, the crowd was roaring.
Helga wiped away her tears and bowed. She smiled at the crowd. A real smile. A bright smile.
A beautiful smile.
*. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .*
Helga's heart was ready to run away from her. It was beating so loud that it began to drown out the noise around them. Get it together, she told herself. Get it together.
She wanted to run. Her body was telling her to flee, but she fought to compose herself.
"This is a surprise," she said as cool and uninterested as ever. It was easy to fall into the same old pattern despite the fact that her body was telling her to just run away.
"A huge surprise," Gerald commented.
"Yeah," Arnold said. He looked at her.
Helga felt the heat on her cheeks rise. "What are you staring at?"
"You," Arnold replied. His response took everyone by surprise. "I've been looking forward to seeing you, Helga."
"Me?" her voice broke. She cleared her throat. "Why?" she asked, cool and composed again.
"Can we go outside and talk?" He took her hand and pulled her toward the door before she could answer. She looked helplessly at Phoebe even Gerald for an answer or help! But neither of them knew how to react or what to think.
A rush of cold air assaulted her as soon as she stepped out of the café. It was the wake-up call she needed. She tore away from Arnold and yelled, "Criminey, football head! What was that?"
She received no verbal response. Instead Arnold put his hands on either side of her face and pulled her close and within seconds his lips touched hers.
She was shocked and dizzy and she felt every cell in her body buzzing. She wanted to lose herself in the kiss, but she pulled away before she could.
They were both out of breath. "You're. . .engaged. . .to. . .Lila."
Arnold shook his head. "Who told you that?"
"Who told Phoebe that?"
"Who told Rhonda-?"
Helga raised her hand to stop him. "Probably your fiancé." She shook her head. "What the hells the matter with you?" She could still feel his lips on hers and it was killing her. Her heart throbbed and squeezed in her chest and she could feel the violent threat of tears in her eyes.
Arnold sighed. He straightened his back and Helga studied him more closely. When had he gotten so tall? The color in her cheeks rose and she was thankful for the cold.
"Lila and I are not together anymore," he said softly. He looked at her with soft eyes. "I broke it off months ago, so I have no idea why Rhonda would say that."
"Broke up?" She did not hide the curious confusion on her face.
Arnold nodded as he took her hand in his. "I've been thinking of you, Helga."
"Me?" she looked at him, trying to pull her hand away, but Arnold had a stronger hold on her than she had anticipated. She could not believe what he was saying right now. "Why?"
"The last time we saw each other-"
Arnold nodded. "You said something to me. Do you remember?"
Helga stopped to think, but it was hard to think with Arnold holding her hand. Despite the cold, his hands were warm and she was melting. She shook her head, in a daze.
"You said, 'Good luck, Arnold.'" He smiled wistfully as he looked at her hand in his. With his free hand he caressed her skin, sending shivers down her spine.
"It was the way you said it," he continued. "Your voice was uncharacteristically soft and there was a sorrowful undertone that reflected in your eyes. There was something else in your eyes that at the time that I could not put my finger on." He stared into her eyes and Helga found herself shivering.
"It sounds strange," he said, "but I could not get you out of my head. I wondered what kind of game you were playing, if you were playing one at all. After a while I decided that you were being nice given the occasion. We were graduating. Who knew if we'd be seeing each other again? But then that summer I heard Phoebe talking to Nadine about how you couldn't tell me how you felt and how broken up she was about it."
Helga looked at him in a panic, but she lost her train of thought when his eyes met hers again. She looked at him then, really looked at him. His eyes were warm and kind like they had always been, but this time all of his warmth and kindness was directed at her and it was unwavering. There was something else hidden in those beautiful and unbelievably kind eyes of his, an emotion she usually saw in herself when she thought of him and her heart skipped a beat.
No, she thought. It couldn't be. But she felt the panic in her rise. Her heart raced and she could feel the rapid thumpthumpthump in her chest.
"Apparently, you had been working up the courage, but when it came time to, you couldn't and-"
"I remember it well, football head!" she exclaimed. The memory of it was fresh. She was disappointed with herself that day. Never mind the fact that that she graduated high school. That meant nothing to her. She had failed to do what she had set out to and now she was embarrassed to know that he knew!
"I started thinking about it and it suddenly all made sense to me," he continued. She looked at him again as he spoke. "The way you always spoke to me, the way you treated me, the rare moments you showed me your soft side." He paused for just a moment. "I liked those moments best."
Helga looked the other way as a furious blush rose on her cheeks. Crap!
Arnold touched her chin and gently turned her face toward his. "I felt like I was looking at the real you in those brief moments and you were beautiful."
Oh, Arnold, she thought. Her heart ached. Beautiful? That could not be possible. She shifted her eyes.
"It all started making sense," he went on, "but by the time I came to understand it all, everyone had gone their own way and I didn't see you anymore." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly before he began again.
"For a while it didn't even matter because I was with Lila and you were away at school, so I tried putting it out of my mind, but every once in a while someone brought you up in conversation or I'd hear your name.
"Lila was going to school in California and I saw her when she came home for the holidays, but the distance put a strain on us. It wasn't until I got accepted to NYU last semester that I had the courage to break it off. And I knew you'd be close by."
"It's been almost three years," Helga said.
Arnold nodded. "I know," he said. "But somewhere along the line I found myself falling in love with you." He shook his head. "It's weird, isn't it?"
Helga looked at him without saying a word. Her heart swelled with joy and she could feel the tears in her eyes. Please, don't be a dream, she thought.
It was weird, but it was sweet. What she had said to him was nothing, but to him it had meant something and knowing that filled her heart with such glee. She felt like she was soaring and all she wanted to do was cry. These were words she thought she would never hear.
"Yeah, it's weird," he answered when she did not. "I'm-I'm really sorry-"
She shook her head. "It's fine." Tears rolled down her cheeks. "So then. . .does this mean you. . .?"
"I want to be with you," Arnold said softly.
"You want to be with. . .someone like me?" she asked.
Arnold laughed. "Yes," he replied as he reached out and touched her face with a tenderness that Helga never knew. "I want to be with someone like you, Helga."
He wiped away the fresh tears on her face. "Will you have me?"
Helga's heart was going to burst soon. She was sure of it. No person's heart could possibly take this much happiness. It seemed so unreal. If this was a cruel joke. . .hell, she did not know what she'd do. She just hoped this was not another dream. She could not bare it if it was another one of her dreams. Arnold squeezed her hand.
"Helga," he said sweetly as he brushed her hair behind her ear. His hand rested gently on her cheek and she could feel him pulling her close to him. His lips hovered above hers and she could feel his breath on her lips when he whispered her name again. "Will you have me?" he repeated.
Helga could not speak. She nodded in response and Arnold kissed her tenderly. His thumb caressed her cheek and Helga let herself fall into him and embrace him wholeheartedly.
. . .sometimes it lasts in love. . .