[A/N: Hey guys! I just wanted to say this story takes place in the sixth grade and assumes Helga never confessed her secret to Arnold on the FTi rooftop. So, basically just pretend the Hey Arnold movie never happened and then age them up a bit. Here ya go! Tell me what you think! I won't be able to update too often but I'm eager to write another story!
Oh, and I don't own anything having to do with Hey Arnold! :)]
"Move it, Football-head!"
Helga's caustic voice was no stranger to Arnold's ears as she stomped down the hallway of PS. 118, slamming his locker as she passed him.
Arnold narrowed his eyes at his classmate as she walked away, turning a corner and disappearing from sight.
"Man, she really hates you, Arnold," Gerald commented, shutting his own locker.
Arnold just answered with an irritated sigh, turning the knob on the combination lock to re-open his locker. "Uh-huh…"
"Seriously, though. She's always so nasty to you, out of everyone in our class. I just don't get it,"
Arnold pulled his textbook out of the locker and shut it once again. "I dunno, Gerald," Arnold's sighed again in resignation. "I just don't know."
. . . . . . . .
Arnold and his friends were in the sixth grade: their last year at PS. 118. It felt good to finally be on top but at the same time, everyone hadn't changed very much, especially when it came to Helga and her bullying. Arnold just couldn't figure out why after all these years, she still had to pick on him so much. She never tormented anyone else the way she did him and he just didn't get it. He knew that deep down she was a good person. He couldn't help but see the good in everyone and that included Helga G. Pataki. Sure, she was pretty rough around the edges but at the same time, he knew that there had been a few times she'd slipped up and let her guard down around him. Knowing that there was something more to her, even if he didn't know exactly what it was, gave him the strength to be patient with her.
On the other hand, Helga was in the same state of affairs she'd be in in the fourth grade. Her love for Arnold consumed a great deal of her thoughts, time, and energy. She'd finally admitted to Phoebe, in private, that she had feelings for Arnold. Of course, they'd always shared a certain unspoken understanding but Helga and Phoebe had talked a lot over the summer break before sixth grade, sharing very personal secrets with one another. It was then that Helga found out about Phoebe's feelings for Gerald. She'd always had a feeling that there was some sort of spark between the two but if Phoebe was willing to not press Helga about her love interest, Helga would do the same for her friend.
Phoebe and Gerald had coincidentally ended up at the same summer camp over break as assistant camp counselors to first and second graders. Seeing each other every day and working together to help organize activities for the little kids only fueled the spark between them. Initially, Gerald hadn't wanted to go to the summer camp but his mom had insisted on his participation since his little sister Timberly would be in attendance. She was going to be a first grader that fall, after all, and Gerald's mom thought it would be sweet if her big brother helped her transition. Phoebe had seen the opportunity to teach younger kids about field science as an invigorating challenge that had yet to be undertaken and so she volunteered willingly. When each of them realized the other was going to be an assistant camp counselor, it made the idea of spending half the summer in the woods a little more worthwhile.
. . . . . . . .
Why must I be so cruel? Why can't I show my softer, gentler side? Helga chided herself in her head as she sat in class, gazing dreamily at the back of Arnold's football-shaped head. Oh Arnold, if only you knew my true feelings for you. If only I wasn't such a gutless buffoon and could finally get up the nerve to tell you how I worship and adore you… if only…
All the while, Helga was rolling small pieces of paper in her hand, chewing them briefly and torpedoing them into Arnold's unruly blonde hair as spitballs.
With each impact, Arnold glared in Helga's direction, though he never turned around.
If I ignore her, maybe she'll stop.
He wasn't so lucky. By the end of class, Arnold stood up and shook his head, releasing at least a dozen spitballs. Looking at the dried spitballs on the floor, he rolled his eyes before grabbing his books and leaving the room.
Arnold waited outside the classroom for Gerald, who'd been caught up talking to Phoebe. He sighed impatiently at the clock. Come on, Gerald…
"Yeah, yeah!... I'll um… I'll talk to you later…" Gerald called back behind him as he came out of the classroom, a goofy grin on his face.
"So are we still going to Slausen's?" Arnold asked.
"Yeah, man. Free Friday ice cream and its Sid's birthday. How could we pass that up, I mean really, Arnold…" Gerald tilted his head down as he looked at Arnold, emphasizing how unnecessary the question had been.
"Alright, well then we need to hurry up and get there soon before Sid does. If he sees any of us heading over there, he's going to figure out what's going on!" Arnold hurried Gerald down the hall, passing by Helga and Phoebe at their lockers.
Helga scowled at the two as they came into view. "Well if it isn't Football-head and Tall-Hair Boy. Where are you two chuckleheads off to in such a hurry?"
Without pausing, Arnold called back to her, "No time, Helga. See ya!"
"Pfft," Helga rolled her eyes, turning to Phoebe and asking rhetorically, "Where's the fire?"
Phoebe's eyes glanced up and down the hallway before she leaned into Helga's ear, "It's Sid's birthday. Everyone's meeting up at Slausen's for his surprise birthday party," Leaning away from her again she added, "Didn't you know?"
Helga rolled her eyes again, a little annoyed that no one had invited her but it didn't bother her too much. It was a free country after all and she could go to Slausen's anytime she pleased. "No,"
"Well, I plan to go and I think you should come. The offer was extended to the entire class, even if you weren't specifically informed. I don't see any reason you couldn't accompany me, Helga," Phoebe smiled at her best friend who returned the expression.
"Yeah sure, Pheebs. I'll go," The two left their lockers and headed for the exit. "What could it hurt?"
. . . . . . . .
Sid's timeless exclamation indicated how successful the surprise party idea had been. The whole class had shown up and Sid never saw it coming. His birthday technically wasn't until Saturday but Slausen's had a special going on for the month of October called "Free Ice cream Fridays" for anyone 12 or younger and no kid in their right mind could pass up an opportunity like that.
The party continued without a hiccup as each kid ate their fill of ice cream, talking and laughing and having a good time. Of course, Helga was being her usual self: staring at Arnold from across the room as she pretended to be focused on the conversations people tried to have with her.
At one point, Arnold was passing by Helga's table, bowl in hand, to get another serving of ice cream. Helga, sitting on the end of the booth seat, casually stuck her leg out just as Arnold was passing by, sending him flying to the floor with a thud.
Laughter erupted from the nearby tables as Arnold stood up, wiping away melted ice cream from his bowl that had splashed up onto his shirt and face.
"Oooops," Helga mocked. "How clumsy of you!" More laughter.
Arnold glared at her and continued down the aisle to the counter for more ice cream.
On his way back, he leaned close to Helga so that the comment was only between the two of them.
"Ya know Helga," His voice was low as he tried to control his frustration. "After all these years, I would've liked to think that you'd stop being so mean but I guess I was wrong."
He turned away, heading back to his table and leaving Helga to sink down into her seat, feeling ashamed.
"What did he say?" Phoebe asked.
Helga straightened up, putting her front up once again. "Nothing important… I mean, what do I care what some stupid Football-head says anyway?" Helga's defense was weak and Phoebe knew it but didn't push any further. Helga turned her sad frown into a scowl and picked up her spoon, pouring melted ice cream back into the bowl over and over again.
. . . . . . . .
By seven, most of the kids had already left for home. Phoebe's mom had agreed to give Helga a ride back to her house but she wouldn't be there until eight. The only kids who were left in the ice cream parlor were Helga, Phoebe, Gerald, Arnold, and Sid. Arnold and Gerald were waiting for Jamie-O who had called fifteen minutes ago saying he'd be there in ten.
"Thanks so much you guys! I had a great time!" Sid said as he walked out of Slausen's. His dad had arrived to pick him up just as Jamie-O's car had come into view.
Arnold and Gerald followed after him, waiting outside the door as Jamie-O pulled up to the curb.
"What's up squirts?" Jamie-O laughed as Arnold and Gerald climbed into the backseat. A duffle bag with Jamie-O's wrestling gear had claimed the front seat.
Helga stared dreamily out the window as Arnold's car door closed.
"Why can't I just be nice to him, Phoebe?" Helga crossed her arms, laying her head down with her chin resting on her forearm.
"Helga, personally, I don't think that acting a little nicer would reveal your secret. Take into consideration all of the other girls in our class who don't love Arnold. They don't go out of their way to be mean to him and yet Arnold understands that their feelings are platonic," Helga's gaze remained fixed on the napkin dispenser on the table. "Do you understand what I mean, Helga?"
Helga gave Phoebe a sideways look. What she was saying made sense but Helga couldn't wrap her head around the idea of pretending she didn't like Arnold and being nice to him at the same time.
Easier said than done… she thought.
A sudden, cacophonic sound startled Helga upright. She and Phoebe jumped from their table and ran to the glass door to see what had happened. It was getting dark outside so the light from inside the shop reflected off the glass and they couldn't really see anything. They opened the door and stepped outside.
At the end of the street was an intersection and it appeared that's where the noise had come from. A crumpled brown truck was up on the sidewalk, its front bumper completely smashed. The other vehicle looked like it had sustained more damage. The blue car was on its side on the opposite side of the street and the back door was concave from the collision. Broken pieces of glass littered the road and a number of people had already stopped their cars and gotten out to call paramedics and find out what happened.
Curiosity overtook the girls and they walked down the street to get a closer look. Helga stopped short when something caught her eye. Her heart sank down into her stomach when she noticed the familiar tufts of cornflower yellow hair visible through the busted back window of the car.