A/N: And thus the file-clearing continues. Started this... still don't know. But I was writing it for fun and having a freaking blast. I've always been a master at staying up all night, ever since I was four. Ah, the days of Zorro reruns on Disney Channel, raiding ice cream from the refrigerator, action figure/toy car adventures, spontaneous fashion shows, and then laying upside down on the couch throughout the afternoon trying not to die from sleep deprivation... How I miss thee.
And so I decided to try to write this. I went for a more simplistic writing style rather than my normal, trying-too-hard style. And characterization was key. I may still finish it someday if this gets a positive reaction. After all, it was fun. Currently got bigger fish to fry, though, I'm afraid. Enjoy what I got.
Disclaimer: WHY DO YOU KEEP FOLLOWING ME EVERYWHERE ASKING ME INCESSANTLY, OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN, IF I OWN A SHOW THAT STARTED BEFORE I WAS EVEN BORN?! WHY DO YOU TORMENT ME?! LEAVE ME BE TO WALLOW IN MY MISERY! *Weeps quietly in corner*
A Kids' Guide to Staying Up All Night
"Well… that was simply brilliant." The statement dripped with contempt. A slow, dry clap started from the girl, as she gave a flat look out over her team. "They creamed us. What the heck was that about? You all played like a bunch of grandmas! Dead grandmas! What do you do for an encore, huh?" She cast an angry eyebrow over the small crowd of fourth graders, her hands on her hips.
As if in response, Harold gave a loud snore and snapped awake. Blinking drearily, he wiped some drool from his mouth. Sid groaned a little in his sleep, but his eyes stayed shut regardless. The rest of the kids just continued to doze, though, undisturbed. Arnold was the only one actually awake. He looked around himself at his sleeping peers and blinked, clueless and befuddled.
Helga's eyelid twitched. "Rise and shine, you bunch of pantywaists!"
Everyone woke with a start. Curly flew instinctively over to grab onto Rhonda, who in turn shoved him violently off, causing him to tumble over several other kids positioned on the modestly built, wooden bleachers. Everyone yelled in protest and threw him off, until he just fell to the dirt with a thump and cloud of unsettled filth, his glasses askew and hair mussed.
Helga eyed them with scornful eyes, positively in awe of their stupidity. "Well, I have to admit. That was some encore." She snapped then, heaving her body forward with her fists at her sides. "What the heck is wrong with you chuckleheaded dingbats?" she shouted. "Did you wake up on the stupid side of the bed this morning?"
They all eyed each other with uncertainty, some still rubbing the sleep from their eyes. Seeing that they weren't answering, Arnold stood up in their defense. "Hey, I'm sure they have a perfectly logical explanation for everything, Helga. You don't have to yell."
"Oh, like you have room to talk, Arnoldo. You always play like a girl. Park it!" She extended her hand out and gave a firm point down, scowling.
Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, he just obeyed her demand and sat back down.
Gerald huffed at seeing his best friend treated like this. "Ah, nah, now that ain't right. Helga, Arnold is one of the best players on our team. If anyone plays like a girl, it's you." He glared at her.
Helga sneered at him. "I am a girl, you moron."
Gerald blinked, his face blanking. After a second, a small grin picked up on his face and he nudged Arnold with his elbow, snickering. "Whoops, my mistake. I always forget." He hid a laugh behind his hand. Arnold just looked away, not wanting to get in any more trouble with Helga.
Helga gave a short growl before rolling her eyes to the sky, her foot tapping impatiently. She muttered, "Idiots," under her breath before looking back into their exhausted faces and yelling, "I want to know what's wrong with you numbskulls, and I want to know it now. I'm going to give you until the count of ten, then I'm killing you!" She eyed them a moment before she began counting at a rapid pace, not slowing for a second, "One, two, three, four, five, six—"
A shaking Sid suddenly flew to his knees before her, grasping at her dress with tears in his eyes. "We're sorry! So, so, so, so sorry, sorry! We didn't want to do it, it just seemed like the only way!" He wept, speaking frantically. "We knew if we invited you you'd yell at us and be mean o-or something, and let's face it, Arnold couldn't have stayed up past nine to save his life! We didn't mean to exclude you guys but we didn't wanna ruin the party!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Helga yelled, her eyes wide. Kicking Sid off of her, she took a couple steps back and yelled at him, "What the heck are you talking about?"
Everyone else groaned. A chorus of "Nice going, Sid," "Great job," "Way to go, stupid," and "I knew he'd crack first," came from them all until Helga stomped her foot, successfully silencing everyone.
Rhonda was the one to explain, albeit begrudgingly and with her nose held importantly in the air, "Last night I hosted an all night long party at one of my many luxury vacation homes."
"A party?" Helga questioned, quirking up one side of her brow.
"A slumber party!" Harold burst excitedly out of the blue. "With snacks and movies and snacks and all sorts of dips and—OW!" He glared at Gerald for hitting him. Gerald matched his look reproachfully.
"Technically," Phoebe interjected matter-of-factly, "a party that goes on for the entirety of the night cannot be referred to as a 'slumber' party, since there is the absence of any actual slumber."
"Ohhh, there was plenty of slumber," Rhonda rolled her eyes to the side, her legs and arms crossed.
Arnold looked around at them all with surprise. "There was a party last night and you guys didn't invite me?"
Eugene looked at him guiltily. "Sorry, Arnold, but it was an all nighter, and come on, everyone knows how you are with bedtimes. You wouldn't have lasted an hour." He lowered his voice then to a near whisper, leveling with him, "Plus, you would've jinxed us."
"Uh, neither did anyone else," Rhonda stated loudly, with a distinct downturn of her mouth and brow.
"Oh, come on, Rhonda, not this again," Gerald whined, ducking his head down and putting his hands to his tired face.
"Well, excuse me. I just so happen to have a big pile of leftover hors d'oeuvres at home because some people couldn't make it past 1 AM." Rhonda humphed.
Harold's eyes shot to her, wide and suddenly alert. "Leftovers?"
"Let it go, Harold," she droned, exasperated.
Helga's jaw had dropped somewhere amidst this exchange. "Hey, hey, hey, hold on just a minute here! I wasn't invited? Me? I could stay up all night no sweat!"
A hush swept over her classmates. They stayed silent for a few more seconds until Helga lost her patience and boomed, "Well? Why didn't I get a stupid invitation?"
"Oh, gee, I wonder," Rhonda said sarcastically, looking at her from under her thick black bangs.
"And what's that supposed to mean, Princess?" Helga asked lowly, her eyes slits.
Rhonda just turned her head the other way, her eyes closed and lips puffed.
"Now hold on," Arnold cut in before a fight could break out, as he could tell from Helga's wide-eyed, stiff expression she wanted to start one, "this is just silly. So you guys stayed up late last night, what's the big deal? Why were you trying to stay up all night?"
"To prove that we could," Curly stated.
"We heard them there sixth graders talkin' 'bout how they stay up all night all the time," Stinky said with his dull, drawn out tone, perturbed. "Then they saw us and laughed."
"Yeah, they said we were too busy sucking our thumbs to make it an entire night without 'nap time,'" Sid added with a scowl.
"It was simply insulting and completely unnecessary," Rhonda stated with a small sneer, picking off a few specks of dirt from her designer label pants.
Arnold blinked at all this, inquiring, "So you guys just stayed up all night and failed?"
Curly burst up from his seat, his eyes wild. "How did you know?"
"Ahhh, get back in your seat, Curly," Harold bellered, pushing him back down.
"Don't you put your boorish hands on my person, you simplistic yeti!" Curly warned loudly in a clearly offended tone of voice, dusting off his shirt.
"Uh, huh?" Harold contorted his face in bafflement. "Did he just insult me?"
"Does it matter?" Rhonda huffed, getting back to the topic at hand, "Yes, Arnold, they did fail. Miserably."
"Yeah, well, maybe we'd have made it if you hadn't turned on that dumb French movie," Gerald shot back.
"Well, I never!" Rhonda raised her voice, stiffening in her seat. "For your information that movie rated cinq étoiles in France."
"What does that mean?" Harold asked, looking annoyed with all the confusing words everyone was using.
"Oh, oh, I know this one! It means five stars!" Curly burst again, grinning at Rhonda. He smirked then, getting in real close to her face. "I've been studying up for our honeymoon, baby cakes." He wiggled his eyebrows at her over his glasses. "Impressed?"
Rhonda made a disgusted face and squealed, "Ewww! No, I'm creeped out, you little freak!"
Gerald interjected his opinion pointedly then, unimpressed with Rhonda and Curly's romantic tension, "Well, that dumb movie should've stayed in France then, 'cause it rates Snooze Central here."
"Okay, okay, you guys," Arnold interrupted them again, his face a mixture of agitation and tiredness, "let's not fight, okay? I know you're all tired, but I have an idea."
"Ohhh, great, the football head has an idea!" Helga said excitedly, her expression overly pleasant as she clasped her hands together giddily. "Let's all gather around a camp fire and sing 'Hallelujah,' because, gosh, all our troubles are over with now! Football Head has an idea! Super!"
Everyone snickered and grumbled their agreements to her mockery, still feeling particularly cranky from not getting enough sleep.
"No, no, now hear me out, you guys," Arnold tried to gain control of the situation again, holding his arms out. "Rhonda said she still has a lot of leftover food at her house, so if you guys still want to do this, we could try again at my house this Saturday. We have plenty of spare rooms, and I'm sure my grandpa wouldn't mind one night. We could all meet up around eight."
"Oh, but that would make it rather difficult to get back on schedule before school started," Phoebe pointed out. "We'd run the risk of being very tired on Monday."
"Monday's are tiring anyway," Sid grumbled.
Helga stepped in then, pushing Arnold backward towards the bench again, so she could tower over him. "Okay, Football Head, you've got a deal. All night party on Saturday at your place. But let's say we make it a little more interesting, hm?"
Arnold raised an eyebrow, not the least bit intimidated. "What do you propose?"
Helga smirked. "Boys vs. Girls. I figure with a competition in place it might encourage these idiots to stay up longer. Last one still awake wins."
Arnold smiled. "Sure, sounds like fun."
Helga snorted. "You won't be saying that when we're kicking your scrawny, in-bed-by-nine butt."
Arnold's eyes narrowed and he crossed his arms, leaning in closer to her. "I'll have you know I've stayed up well past 1 AM many times before." Which, in truth, he had. Living in a house full of unruly boarders and crazy grandparents was often unpredictable. He'd been woken up in the middle of the night more times than he could count, by either Ernie noisily re-stacking his brick collection, or Mr. Hyunh yelling at Ernie for being too loud, or Oskar and Suzie having another one of their epic fights with pans bashing and teakettles crashing, or even just Grandpa bursting in with the announcement that, "Life is short, let's have a corn dog!" Over all the years of insanity he'd developed a great tolerance for exhaustion. Nobody ever realized that sometimes the reason he zoned out so much and his eyes were half-lidded was simply because he'd barely slept a wink.
Helga smirked into his annoyed face, delighting in his unwavering attention. "Oh, please, Hair Boy, spare me the dramatics. I bet you'll be sleeping like a baby before the clock hits twelve, snoring and all." Her grin grew as she pointed her thumb towards herself. "Now me? I've pulled all-nighters more times than you could count." What she failed to mention was the fact that a good portion of those 'all-nighters' involved her obsession with him. Whether it was watching him sleep, a desperate attempt at protecting her secret, or just spending the night writing poetry about him, Helga had more than enough experience.
Arnold quirked up half his mouth in a small, smug smile. "In your dreams, Helga. Literally."
"Oh, ha, ha, very witty, Shrimpy. But enough beating around the bush. I say if we win," her smirk turned downright devilish, nearly stretching clear across her head in a display most sinisterly smug, "we get your entire stash of candy."
Everyone gasped. The candy stash was never mentioned in broad daylight. Heck, speaking of it in general in a place without covered windows and locked doors was unheard of.
Gerald stood up in a flash, startling all the already on edge kids. He took a step up to stand on the first step of the bleachers, towering over them all and casting a long, dark shadow over them all that left some teeth chattering at the sudden breeze. "The candy stash has been handed down from generation to generation," he started, his rough, gravelly voice demanding attention. "Nobody's really sure who started it. Some say it was started by a lone group of fourth graders during the great depression, when a need for currency spread out over kids everywhere. Some say it dates back even further than that, and was started by Mr. Abraham Lincoln himself when he was young, in a time when—"
"Oh, put a sock in it, Tall Hair Boy!" Helga barked. She rolled her eyes as she stated in a 'duh' tone of voice, "Everyone knows it was started ten years ago by some dumb fourth grade losers that thought it'd be cool to start a candy bank. Face it, you've been sucked dry of 'Urban Legends.' Stop trying to make crud up."
Gerald sat back down in his seat, grumbling to himself.
"Don't do it, Arnold," Sid begged him, grabbing onto his shoulder. "You know the girls have a bigger stash than we do. If you give it all away to them, we'll never catch up."
"Yeah, and I reckon' you won't be able to buy anymore cookies from that Camp Fire Lass you like so darn much if we're plum broke," Stinky added, as if he needed reminding.
Sid sank down in his seat, embarrassed and blushing.
"Well, I for one think it's a great idea," Rhonda remarked, grinning.
"Of course it's a great idea," Helga said, clasping her hands together before herself with a grin of her own. "Possibly losing the boys' entire stash should light a fire under their keisters."
"Yeah," Arnold said, his eyes narrowing as he crossed his arms over his chest. "And if we win, we get your stash."
Helga stared at him a moment, before her smile creeped slowly back onto her face and she shook her head ruefully. "Ah, Football Head… you drive a hard bargain." She whipped her hand out in front of him. "Deal."
Arnold smirked confidently and grabbed her hand, their firm, final handshake putting all the once exhausted kids in one of the most awake states of their life.
The bolt of electricity that ran up both kid's spines upon contact only served to further seal their fate.
There was a loud banging on the door.
Arnold's head turned to the sound, before he looked back at his guy friends and told them to just get settled in. Then he wandered down the stairs, and was only halfway through the hallway before the loud banging started up again, even faster and harder than the last time. It made him break into a run, and he tripped his way down the stairs until he made it to the door. Throwing it open, his eyes widened.
The entire group of girls was standing on his stoop, adorned in nightgowns and pajamas with fat overnight bags under their arms. The expressions on their faces were deadly serious, albeit some more impatient than others, as in Helga's.
She pushed her way in past him and took a great inhale of the house, her eyes in thin slits. "Smells like war to me, ladies." She turned around then, just in time to whack Arnold over the head with her bag just as he was rubbing his arm. Her face got weird, not paying any mind to Arnold with his dizzy expression and conked head. "And some really funky tuna…"
Arnold snapped out of it then and shook his head, testily grabbing Helga's bag from her so she couldn't cause any more damage to him. "Yeah, Grandma made tuna and peanut butter casserole for dinner earlier."
Arnold couldn't help but agree and looked at her grimly, before turning back to face the rest of the group. "Well, come on in, you guys. There's a couple rooms right by my room you can set up in. You can come up to my room when you're done. We're all planning on watching some movies."
"Ohhhh, no, Geekbait, I don't think so," Helga growled, grabbing her bag back from him. "Movies are the easiest thing to fall asleep to."
"I know," Arnold said simply, his face flat. "That's why we're doing that first, while the night's still young. It's least likely anyone will fall asleep now than any other time of night. We can figure out some other activities for later while we watch."
Helga huffed. "Ugh… whatever." She cut past the girls already heading up the stairs, 'accidentally' giving Arnold one more whack with her bag as she passed. He glared after her. She just ignored him, smirking to herself.
A/N: And that's all I got. Reading it back, I was really disappointed, lol. It's too simply written for me to hate it or anything, so I'm just angry it's not done. xD But it could be, perhaps. *Evil finger plotting, evil finger plotting* I'm mainly posting it 'cause it's been in my files SOME TIME, and I keep forgetting it exists. xD At least now I can't ignore it anymore.
Peace out, homies. This has been a preview of things to come. Maybe.