Out of the deepest depths of Mr. Simmon's Fourth Grade class, wearing a grimace and an oh-so-stylishly matching pink dress/bow outfit, emerged every geek at P.S. 118 elementary school's worst nightmare..

"Out of my way, dork! Watch it, coming through!"

It was lunch period, and Helga G. Pataki made it clearly known that she wanted no one to stand in her way between herself and her cafeteria food. Oblivious to Helga's current rampage were Arnold and Gerald, already standing in the lunch line, chatting as always about the last baseball game at Gerald's Field. However, Helga gradually made her way to where they were at, grabbing cuts in lines when kids didn't get out of her way by choice, leaving her path of destruction of knocked over geeks and damaged prides visible behind her. Just as soon as the two boys paid for their lunches and were headed to their usual table, Helga met up with them.

"Move it, football-head!" Helga snarled, as usual, shoving Arnold and Gerald apart as she passed through. Gerald was able to keep his balance, but Arnold wasn't so lucky, tripping over his own feet and falling to the floor, while all of the contents of his tray did the same.

"Jeez..." Arnold muttered to himself, looking at the mess on the ground, a twinge of disgust in his voice. Gerald leaned over and helped his yellow-haired friend pick up his lunch.

"Man, Arnold, ya gotta do something! Ya payed good money for this lunch, at least get Helga ta refund you...!"

"Naw, Gerald, not this time. Helga must be in a bad mood or something today..." he said in his usual blasé tone, using the 5-second rule to give him an excuse to eat his BLT sandwich that was strewn across the floor in front of him.

"What're ya talkin' about?" Gerald asked, trying to bring his friend back to reality, "Helga's always in a bad mood."

All Arnold could do was sigh in reply as he got up and headed to the table, just as he was trying to do before he was...interrupted. Gerald got up and followed him there.

When Gerald sat down, Arnold was already taking depressed sips through the straw of his milk carton while resting his head on one hand. Gerald couldn't help but share in his best friend's gloominess. He took a bite out of his sandwich and decided not to say anything first, but after taking a second look at Arnold, he swallowed and resolved to break the silence.

"....Man, why do you put up with Helga?" he started, "Why don't ya just give her a piece of your mind one of these days, huh?"

Without looking at Gerald or even lifting his head, Arnold casually shrugged and took another sip of his milk.

Gerald was anything but satisfied with that answer. "Aww, c'mon, you've got to have a better reason than that!" I mean, Helga's been nothing but cruel to you for as long as you can remember. You've gotta do something to set her straight.."

Once again, Arnold didn't reply, and seeing that his friend probably didn't want to talk about the situation, Gerald went back to staying silent.

"....But that's where you're wrong, Gerald.." Gerald's face lit up with both shock and curiosity at Arnold's sudden change in character, and listened intently as he continued.

"I don't know but... I think that there's more to Helga. Sure she's constantly picking on me.. or shooting spitballs at me, or calling me 'football-head' and other things like that. But there are other times when she can be really nice to me and I think that maybe she even cares a bit..."

A short whiles across the school cafeteria, Helga sat next to Phoebe, Rhonda and Nadine, internally kicking herself.

'Oh Arnold, how could I?!' she thought, in her usual poetic, melodramatic way, 'Why must I constantly be Bunburying myself out of your affections?' She grudgingly looked at Arnold across the room, sitting there looking as downtrodden as ever. She then continued her stream of consciousness. 'Surely, I am the one who feels the most sympathy for you...yet, I am also the very person who threw you into your pit of hopelessness and despair! Oh, cruel irony! I love you, but still I am forced to--'

"Is something the matter Helga?"

Helga's thoughts were cut off by the ever observant, ever inquisitive Phoebe, who noticed that Helga had been making curious gestures to herself, though not saying a word. Helga realized this as well, seeing that she was caught in the famous "Romeo courting Juliet at the balcony" pose. She quickly snapped out of it.

"What? No! W-why would you think that Phoebe...??" She nervously took a huge bite out of her BLT sandwich and continued to speak with a full mouth.

"It'sh nah like ah'm thinkimf somf weird...poetig shtuff or anythinf..!" she then swallowed. "'I mean, why the heck would I...? It's not like I'm crazy or anything...!"

"Of course not, Helga.." Phoebe said politely, attempting to sound as if she wasn't trying to pry. She then took a dainty bite of her own out of her sandwich.

Gerald couldn't believe what he was hearing. Helga nice? Caring? Arnold had to be joking.

"Come on, Arnold, Helga Pataki is the meanest, nastiest fourth grader this side of the tri-state area! I bet she even has DREAMS about beating you to a pulp!"

Though something like that would make sense, Arnold still refused to believe it.

"But you don't know, Gerald... there are times when Helga like, ...I dunno... looks out for me or something.."

Memories of when she stood up against her own father to save the neighborhood tree, and when she saved him from being manipulated by that Summer girl that time at the beach came rushing back to Arnold. They even almost brought a smile to his face — almost.

Helga's ears twitched. She could've sworn she just heard someone say her name — and from the direction of Arnold's table. Her one big eyebrow arched up on one side, conveying her interest...

"So what you're saying," Gerald started, trying to grasp Arnold's point, "Is that the reason why you're OK with Helga picking on ya all the time is that once in a blue moon she may do something nice for ya? And you think she can get away with hasslin' ya because of that?!"

Arnold noticed that that did sound a little... silly, and tried to expand on what he just said. "No, no, that's not all, Gerald. It's just... I dunno... there's just something about Helga..."

Helga realized that she was right. They were talking about her! In fact, Arnold was looking at her right now! Helga quickly decided to make it look as if she didn't know she was being looked at, and innocently rested her head in her hands and placed her elbows on the table. However, her right elbow landed right on the plastic fork on her tray.

"Crimeney!" Helga yelled and she grabbed her elbow in pain, but the arm that reached down to grab her elbow knocked over her tray, and her carton of milk and the remnants of her lunch were all catapulted onto her dress.

"Oh, for crying out..." Helga said, exasperatedly, but was cut off when she heard an unacceptable amount of laughter after that incident, most of it coming from the table that Harold was sitting at. Without saying a word, she walked over to his table and pounded his face in, and then stormed out of the cafeteria while she still had her dignity.

"Don't tell me.." Gerald started to reply to Arnold, after seeing the odd chain of events, "It's gotta be her charm, right?"

Arnold sighed again, seeing as he was getting nowhere. No matter what he did, he couldn't exactly put a label on what he thought about Helga. And that made him realize then that even he didn't know for sure what he thought about Helga, which bothered him even more.

"I kinda think she's in a bad mood today," Arnold said at last, though repeating himself.

"Yeah, you mentioned that," said Gerald, "I don't know about you, but I think Helga IS a bad mood.."

"Well, for one thing, "Arnold stated, "She didn't spit as many spitballs at me today..."

Gerald stifled his laughter. "And that's how you can tell? You've got to be kiddin' me, man!"

"No, really Gerald. She's doing it for attention. She hardly gets any at home, you know. It's just something I've noticed." Arnold looked away and spoke a little more seriously.

"I just know there's more to Helga. It may be hard to swallow, but she's really a regular kid just like the rest of us, and she has her own worries and problems like everyone else as well. It's just that she hides them." He stopped for a moment. "...Just like me," Arnold said, saying that last part a little too low for Gerald to hear.

Gerald shook his head. There are some things you just can't understand about your friends. Even best ones.

"So despite everything...despite EVERYTHING," Gerald reiterated, "You're still going to stick up for Helga?"

Arnold nodded, while the thought 'He still doesn't get it..' went through his head.

Gerald stood up, grabbing his empty tray. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again — you're a bold kid Arnold. A bold kid."

"...Thanks.." Arnold said, as he looked up at Gerald and finally smiled, just as the class bell rang. He got up and started off to class next to his always dependable friend.

"Hey Arnold," Gerald started, "This may sound crazy, but d'ya think Helga maybe likes you?"

"C'mon Gerald," Arnold said, for once being the one to bring Gerald back to reality, "Now THAT wouldn't make any sense..."



Author's Notes: Ah!! Sorry if this was really bad. It's my first Hey Arnold fic. Helga just interests me so much! Oh, and by the way, I don't own these characters (duh). If I did, I would've gotten Arnold and Helga together a long time ago. =b

Oh well, if ya liked it, let me know, and I'll try and write more HA fics. Well, I don't think there's anything else to say but...did Arnold EVER eat his sandwich...?

Thanks for reading! ^^

-- serendipity do da