Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold! The lyrics used are from 'To The Moon And Back' by Savage Garden.

She's taking her time making up the reasons

To justify all the hurt inside

Guess she knows from the smiles

and the look in their eyes

Everyone's got a theory about the bitter one

They're saying, "Mamma never loved her much"

And, "Daddy never keeps in touch

That's why she shies away from

human affection"

But somewhere in a private place

She packs her bags for outer space

And now she's waiting for the right kind of pilot to come...

Soft orange light filled a setting sky above the quiet town of Hillwood, casting long shadows behind the city houses.

A lone girl dressed in pink, carrying a school bag over her shoulder, walked silently along the quiet streets, blond pigtails and pink bow bobbing with her stride. She slowed her pace as she past a large old building with a bright green door and a sign that read "The Sunset Arms Boarding House". She smiled as she walked on. He was inside that house.

A few minutes later she stood on the steps of a tall blue-bricked building, rummaging around in her bag for the door key. She really didn't want to enter this place, not that anyone would notice when she did though. Oh well.

Unlocking the door, her ears were met with sounds from a loud TV in another room, closely followed by a man's deep, gravely voice. "Olga? That you? Fetch me another can of beer would ya?" The girl scowled, suppressing anger with a low, monotone reply through her teeth.

"My name is Helga, Bob"

"Yeah, sure, whatever... would you just get the beer" he said, distracted by the TV. She could see her mother asleep at the kitchen table through the open door at the end of the hall, smoothie in her hand.

"What was I thinking?" the girl said quietly to herself as she scooped her bag back up, turned around and went straight back out of the door, feeling the relief of the cool evening air. It was still pretty light out, so she figured she'd just go for a walk. Any excuse to get away from here.

Before she realised where she was headed, she found herself entering the city park. Well, it was nice there in the evenings. She'd come here a lot just recently. Walking up to the large pond, she found a bench and sat. Taking off her bag, she smiled as she watched the reflections in the water brake as a family of ducks glided across it. The trees rattled their leaves in the breeze, and birds still sang a sweet evening chorus. Peace. She sighed dreamily and thought of him, the boy she loved more than anything, but kept this secret to herself. He noticed her, he cared, and he had always been there for her, even though she pushed him away with insults. She was a bad-tempered bully in everyone's eyes, but would he ever take the time to see past that and into her good-natured, loving heart? More to the point, would she ever let him?

Unzipping her bag, she removed a small pink book and pen, opening it close to the back. The rest of the pages were already full. Resting it on her knees, she put the end of the pen to her lips as she thought, and then began to scribble words frantically onto the blank page. The poems flowed easily when she thought of him.

She was so deep in her own perfect world as she wrote, that she didn't notice the figure who walked towards her, and then sat down next to her on the wooden bench.

"Hey Helga!" he chirped, smiling.

"Arnold!" she jumped, slamming the pink book shut and stuffing it quickly into her bag, eyes wide. "I mean, quit sneaking up on me like that Football Head! You trying to give me a heart attack or something?! Crimity!" She scowled harshly at the yellow-haired boy. He didn't look too impressed by her little outburst.

"Hey, it's not my fault you were too busy to notice me sit down, so don't take it out on me Helga!"

"I wasn't taking it out on you Arnoldo, I just don't like people sneaking up on me like that! What are you doing out at this hour anyway?" She raised one half of her unibrow and glared at him.

"I'm taking Abner for a walk" he said, patting his pet pig lightly on the head as it sat obediently beside him. "Anything to get some peace and quiet away from the boarders. Suzie's threatening to leave Oscar again and now everyone else has managed to get involved" he sighed, shaking his football- shaped head at the thought. "Guess I just wanted to get away for a while. How about you? What are you doing out so late?"

"None of your bees-wax Arnoldo!" she snapped. Arnold frowned at her. "Well, if you must know, I spent the afternoon at Phoebe's and when I got home I didn't wanna face Bob and Miriam, so I just decided to take a walk and ended up here." She leaned back on the bench and stared at the water, trying her best to look miserable when really her heart was fluttering. I'm alone with Arnold! I'm alone with Arnold! Her mind screamed.

Arnold lent back as well. "Looks like we both just wanted some quiet then" he smiled.

"Guess so Football Head" She sighed.

The sun had disappeared behind the skyline, leaving a red streaked sky in the west. Some stars were already visible in the pale night. Helga and Arnold had sat there in silence for a few minutes.

Nice night" Arnold commented, lamely trying to make conversation.

"Don't you start getting all mushy on me bucko!" she growled.

"Sheesh Helga, I was just saying! Why do you have to keep snapping at me like that? I haven't done anything to you!" Arnold was annoyed at her attitude. Who was she performing for? Helga just ignored him. "Helga I'm serious! Why are you in such a bad mood all the time?!" Helga was pretty shocked at this question; she wasn't expecting it.

"Look Arnold, I came here for some peace okay?! Not to hear you fire stupid questions at me all evening! Shut up or leave." She folded her arms across her chest, still staring at the water. Arnold just sighed; he couldn't win this little battle.

Another few minutes of silence. It was getting really dark now. A warm orange glow radiated from the scattered streetlamps, holding back the night.

"It's getting pretty dark" Arnold began, looking up at the starry sky. "I'm gonna head home. You coming?" he asked, turning to Helga. She sighed.

"I guess so" Arnold could hear the sad tone of her voice. He felt sorry for her sometimes, knowing that her parents ignored her, but he didn't like it how she took it out on him. It wasn't his fault, but she seemed to blame him anyway. She'd always picked on him; as far back as he could remember she'd bullied him. But deep down, he knew she didn't mean it, not really.

Quietly they left the empty park, Arnold tugging Abner along by his leash.

"So..." Arnold began again, trying as carefully as possible not to say the wrong thing. "Things still tough at home then?"

"It's the worst! Bob lounges around on the couch all night, TV as loud as ever, ordering me around to fetch him stuff like I'm his personal slave or something. If he calls me Olga one more stinking time I swear I'll just... Grrr!" Arnold was a little shocked by this sudden outburst, but listened contently. It was better than insults. "And Miriam! Ugh! What the heck does she put in those smoothies of her's?! It's like she's been out cold for months! She practically lives on the kitchen table! A bomb could go off right next to her and she wouldn't notice!" Arnold chuckled to himself at that, Helga shot him a disapproving glance and he instantly went quiet. She continued. "At least the wonderful Ol-ga is still in Alaska. If she was home I know I'd just go nuts! I'm telling you Arnold, you don't know how lucky you are. At least your grandparents notice you exist!" Helga looked down at the ground, thinking about what she had just said. She felt really upset about it, she knew it was all true, and that was painful. Very painful. But she wasn't about to let Arnold see how it truly affected her. She held back her emotions, hiding them away with so many other feelings that no one else would see. But Arnold could still see the hurt on her face.

"You okay?" he said softly, expecting her to snap back at him.

"Yeah..." she sighed. Arnold didn't like seeing her upset, even though she was doing a pretty good job of covering it up.

"It gets pretty crazy at the boarding house too. They're always fighting with each other over the smallest things. And my grandparents aren't much better... I mean, I love them and all, and they are a lot of fun, but sometimes, I feel like I'm the only sane person there. I'm the one who has to sort out all the problems, and I'm only 9! Sometimes I just wish I didn't have to worry about things like that, y'know? And just be a regular kid." Helga listened quietly, she knew exactly what he meant, and she felt for him... not that she would let it show or anything.

"Looks like we have something in common then, Football Head. We've both had to raise ourselves." They had reached Helga's house and stopped just outside. Helga began to climb the steps.

"I guess your right Helga" Arnold smiled, pausing for a second. "You know I'm always here if you ever wanna talk..." he said cautiously, afraid of the reaction he might get if she took it the wrong way.

"I know" she smiled slightly, as he began to carry on walking. "And Arnold..." he looked back "er... thanks."

"Any time Helga" and with a little wave, he continued on walking down the street. When he was out of hearing distance she sighed dreamily and smiled before entering the house.

"And where the heck do you think you've been all evening missy?" Big Bob questioned as she closed the front door behind her.

"I went for a walk, Bob. Why, is that against the law or something?" she spoke sarcastically to her farther. Why did he care anyway?

"Don't you take that tone with me lil' lady!" he threatened. "Now get to bed!" He pointed to the stairs angrily.

"Fine" she growled back, grabbing her bag and stomping up the stairs, Bob's eyes following her. "Idiot" she muttered under her breath. Luckily, he didn't hear.

But nothing, not even Big Bob could dampen her mood now. For one brief instant, Helga was happy. Arnold cared! Entering her warm room, she closed the door and floated down onto her bed, grabbing the little pink book.

Arnold thought about their conversation as he walked back to the boarding house. Helga wasn't that bad really, she's got issues, family problems which she had to toughen up to face. Deep down, there was a hurt little girl who wants some kind of attention that she missed out on. Some affection and love. But she did a good job of hiding it. Years of practice he though. He still felt bad for her, knowing that she had been forced to build defences that pushed her true self away. She just didn't want to be hurt by anyone close to her. He still felt that there was something he was missing, something else she was hiding, but that thought only lingered on his mind briefly. Then the ever helpful Arnold persona and reputation kicked in... I'm gonna help her!