AN: Things you should know: This is my first ff. Anything in italics are thoughts.

Disclaimer: I don't own Hey Arnold

Chapter 1

This already feels like a bad idea.

Before she could change her mind, the front door of the mansion flew open.

"Well, well, well. Look who's decided to finally grace us with her presence."

"Shut it princess, before I impale you with your own Spumoni stilettos."

"Come now, is that really any way to speak to your temporary best friend?"

Helga rolled her eyes. It had been exactly 8 months since Phoebe had boarded a flight to Japan to embark on a year-long journey as an exchange student. And it had been exactly 8 months since Rhonda Wellington Lloyd declared it her civic duty to takeover the social needs of her favorite pink menace.

"Hey Pataki." Sid smiled, walking over to greet her with a hug. "Thought you were dead. Haven't seen you here in a while."

"That's because I'm a busy woman."

"Yeah I'm sure it's real time consuming keeping that caterpillar groomed," Harold shouted from the kitchen as he struggled to balance four Yahoo sodas in his enormous bear hands. He entered the parlor and tossed two of the drinks across the room to Sid and Helga, then plopped down on the couch to cozy up with Big Patty.

Helga caught the drink mid-air and suggestively wiggled her two, distinctly separate eyebrows at him. "I think you mean caterpillars-sss. Emphasis on the S. But I doubt it's as time consuming as-OW! WHAT THE F..." Her witty comeback was cut short by a headlock from behind.

"Fork over the goods Pataki," her attacker demanded.

"Let. Me. Go. GER-ALD!" She clawed at the muscular forearm playfully cutting off her air supply. No luck. Guess I'm going vampire on this idiot. As expected, he released her the moment he felt her teeth sinking in.

"I don't think Phoebe would appreciate you putting your mouth on her Dark Knight," he smirked as he rubbed at his fresh wound.

"I don't think she'd appreciate reading your obituary tomorrow either." Helga looked up at her best friend's boyfriend and gave him her signature scowl, but it quickly dissolved into a grin. All the years Helga and Gerald were forced to tolerate each other for Phoebe's sake had somehow transformed their animosity into friendship. Not a terribly surprising development, considering the entire PS 118 gang had become unconventionally tight-knit over the past 7 years.

She threw off her sandals and headed towards the couch to snag the other seat beside Patty. Before she sat down, she dug out an envelope from her back pocket and tossed it at Gerald's feet. "Here, fetch."

Gerald scuttled like Golem to snatch up the precious letter. Phoebe was studying with a family in an isolated village, completely cut off from technology. Her only way to communicate with the group was the good old postal service. And currently all her letters to Gerald were arriving through Helga. Phoebe would've sent them directly to his home had there not been an incident a few months back involving some rather intimate material falling into the hands of the merciless Jamie-O.

Gerald paused before tearing open his treasure, remembering why he had come into the room in the first place. "By the way Rhonda, I just saw Sheena and Nadine trying to pull Curly down from that fancy ass chandelier in the other room. You might want to check that out."

"WHAT? THAT IS AN IRREPLACEABLE 1941 GLASSMAN ORIGINAL FROM GREAT-GREAT GRANDFATHER REGINALD. SO HELP ME GOD, THADDEUS GAMMELTHORPE, YOU BETTER BE FU..." Her voice trailed off as she stormed towards the dining hall. The group in the parlor grew silent in order to get a better listen to the harpy-esque screams followed by a maniacal laughter and the inevitable shattering of a priceless heirloom into 9000 baby crystals.

Maybe it wasn't such a bad idea to come here after all. I've missed the weekly chaos ...

A couple years ago, when they were all freshmen, Rhonda had started throwing weekly parties and inviting the entire school. The parties always left her home a disaster - vomit-soaked carpets, used condoms in every room, and thousands of dollars lost in stolen jewelry. Eventually her friends grew concerned and began begging her to stop enabling the mayhem. But for whatever reason Rhonda continued to host the parties. At first it seemed like the reason had to do with some ridiculous ploy to remain at the top of the social ladder, but it slowly became obvious to her closest friends that Rhonda was simply the worst sort of lonely. Her parents ventured around the world for business 330 days a year, leaving her to wander a 9000 square ft, 32 room mansion alone.

Over time, Nadine quietly made the group aware of the depths of Rhonda's depression. None of them wanted Rhonda to fill her familial void with a moshpit of reckless strangers. So it was unanimously agreed upon that they would take care of Rhonda by turning her home into the unofficial group hangout. Nearly every day of the week you could find three or four of the PS 118 bunch there - studying, watching TV, napping, cooking, anything. They didn't need to ask her permission, they simply showed up, let themselves in, and did as they pleased. Under any other circumstances, this sort of behavior might be deemed rude. But it was exactly what Rhonda wanted. And needed. She may never have openly admitted she was lonely or that she was grateful for the company, but she immediately ceased hosting her weekly ragers. And they all knew that was her way of saying thanks.

Now, contrary to popular belief, Helga liked Rhonda. And Helga had been more than happy to contribute her fair share of time to Operation: Keep Rhonda Company during their entire sophomore year. But the last few months Helga hadn't been able to hang out at the Lloyd lounge because she had her own problems to tend to... problems that she didn't need anyone finding out about. And unlike Rhonda, Helga didn't want anyone butting into her life and imposing themselves on her with their good intentions.

Helga felt her stomach rumble. She turned to Patty. "Hey I'm gonna go raid the princess' pantry for some finger sandwiches, want anything?"

"Nah, I'm good, Harold and I went out to Slausen's for our anniversary before we got here. Thanks though."

Helga looked over at Harold. "You took her to Slausen's? For your anniversary? C'mon pink boy, we all know how much Mr. Green overpays you, stop being a cheap ass and treat your lady to a real dinner."

"But she loves Slausen's!"

Helga lifted a questioning eyebrow at Patty. Patty shrugged in response, as if to say boys are dense, what can you do about it? Helga sighed. Boys ARE dense. She knew that firsthand.

In the kitchen, Helga was humming the latest Ronnie Matthew's hit and searching the fridge when she heard someone walk in behind her. She froze.

"Hi Helga."

There it was, the angelic voice she had been hoping to avoid. She didn't need to turn around to know its source. God damnit, I thought he had date night. She slowly closed the refrigerator door and replied without turning around, "What are you doing here football head? I thought Thursdays were your night to serenade the petticoats off of Lila with your saxophone or something."

"Her dad wanted to take a long weekend to go visit the farm."

Don't turn around, don't turn around, don't do it...must... resist... She turned around.

He was leaning up against the door frame, brushing his disheveled cornflower hair out of his face, smiling with that intoxicating half-lidded gaze. It took every ounce of her willpower not to swoon. Why must you be so gorgeous. And smell so delicious and...No. Stop. Okay Helga, compose yourself. NOW. "That's rough buddy. Guess you'll have to wait a whole week to add another tally to the 'failed-attempts-to-get-laid' board." Nice recovery.

"I think I'll be waiting a lot longer than that. We just broke up."

Her jaw dropped.