"Short man, your friend is here." Grandpa's voice bellowed from the bottom level of the boarding house.
Arnold eagerly stood from his bed, racing down to meet Gerald who stood in the hallway waiting.
"What's that for?" Arnold asked as he eyed the surprisingly large briefcase Gerald held in his hand.
"We have some... things to discuss." Gerald informed him, promptly moving past Arnold and heading up the stairs toward his bedroom.
Arnold followed closely behind his best friend, questioning the possible subjects of discussion that could require such a large case.
"Sit down." Gerald instructed, directing Arnold's toward his bed whilst he laid the briefcase carefully on the sofa.
"What's going on Gerald?" Arnold inquired.
"Arnold it has been... a month now and even I'm starting to get impatient." Gerald declared, opening the tabs on the briefcase and pulling out a photograph.
Arnold stared back at him blankly, a month since what? Of course, it was about a month since they saved the neighbourhood and...
Gerald promptly shoved the photograph in his face, "Woah, how? How did you get this?" Arnold asked as he stared dumbfounded at the picture.
Gerald shrugged, "Do you know who that is, in the photograph? Besides you of course."
"Yes.. Cecile." Arnold responded dreamily, holding the picture close.
"Helga." Gerald stated bluntly.
"Helga?" Arnold practically screamed.
"Arnold, look at that girl – she has long blonde hair, blue eyes, a pink bow in her hair... and she's hiding half her face so you won't notice." Gerald explained, "I guess it worked too."
Arnold's dreamy stare turned to concern, as he scrunched his nose at the picture and placed it face-down beside him.
"Ugh." Gerald groaned, "You're impossible."
"What are you talking about Gerald?" Arnold responded tentatively.
Gerald quickly moved back to his large briefcase, sifting through the contents he pulled out... an egg.
"Arnold, make this egg hatch." Gerald demanded, placing the egg in Arnold's hand.
"I can't make this egg hatch Gerald." Arnold said raising his eyebrow.
"Oh." Gerald responded in mock disappointment, "Suppose you'd need Helga for that."
"Gerald what on ea-" Arnold began, but he was cut off when Gerald rifled through Arnold's closet and threw a sweater in his face.
Arnold picked up the green sweater, it had a large splodge of paint across the front, he grimaced a little knowing that Gerald had obviously known he'd kept it.
"Oh, I always meant to throw this out." Arnold laughed nervously.
"Why didn't you?" Gerald inquired
Arnold shrugged his shoulders unconvincingly, "Don't know."
Gerald shot him an unappreciative glare and walked back over to the large case on the sofa. Pulling out a three page document, he handed it to his friend.
"Helga's History project on Rome?" Arnold asked in confusion.
"Mhmmm.." Gerald began, as he reached for a small pink book on Arnold's book shelf, "Compare" he said.
Arnold flicked his eyes from the project to the poems, "Same... handwriting." he ultimately deduced.
Gerald nodded and looked at his friend expectantly for a moment, "Seriously?" he sighed. "Okay, hold this.." Gerald said as he grabbed a flower from the case.
"A flower?" Arnold asked.
"The very kind of flower you gave Helga after you hit her in the head with a baseball, and spent hours looking after her." Gerald pointed out, a tiny smile creeping to Arnold's face.
Arnold sighed, "Seriously Gerald what's with all the Helga memorabilia?" he asked.
Gerald slapped his hand to his head in frustration, "Okay, Phase Two!" he announced, pulling a large sheet of questions from the briefcase.
"Who did Helga recruit as Phoebe's replacement when Phoebe moved to the sixth grade?" Gerald asked, ticking question number one from the sheet.
"Nobody, nobody passed the test.." Arnold mumbled.
"How many steps, on average, does it take to get from your front door to Helga's?" Gerald asked expectantly.
"Gerald!" Arnold exclaimed in exasperation.
Gerald simply stared him down.
"About two hundred." Arnold mumbled.
"Yahoo Factory." Gerald stated.
"Helga got lost.." Arnold said, before quickly adding, "and Harold."
Gerald rolled his eyes, "What is Helga allergic to?"
"Strawberries." Arnold replied.
Gerald scrunched the completed list of questions up and tossed it over his shoulder, "Have you noticed anything?" he asked Arnold.
"Uh.. What do you mean?" Arnold responded.
"Oh man!" Gerald exclaimed, letting out a pained sigh he once again fished around in his briefcase, handing Arnold a small folded paper object.
"Rhonda's marriage predictor?" Arnold said as he flipped the cootie catcher around in his hand.
"Yes!" Gerald exclaimed, picking a shoebox from Arnold's closet and tossing one red pump on the ground in the middle of the room.
"Helga. Helga. Helga" Gerald repeated, as he tossed a large book beside the shoe, the title read Romeo and Juliet.
"Why do you keep saying her name?" Arnold frowned.
"Arnold, I spent an entire gruelling day with Helga Pataki asking her about her allergies, her favourite colours and just generally trying to have a decent conversation with her without raising suspicion or getting smacked in the jaw. I borrowed a library book, I sifted through photo albums at Chez Paris.. I even stole a History assignment from Mr Simmons desk! Ask me why... Go on, ask me." Gerald pushed.
"You spent an entire day with Helga?" Arnold asked, a hint of annoyance filling his eyes.
"Yeah, an entire day. Ask me why!" Gerald repeated.
"But why would you do that, you hate her!" Arnold said, his voice slightly raised.
Gerald rolled his eyes, "No Arnold, we're madly in love, I plan to marry her. I cannot stop thinking of her gorgeous blonde hair and her witty sarcasm." he said sarcastically.
"YOU WHAT?" Arnold stood from his bed, obviously missing the sarcastic tone in his friends voice.
"It was sarcasm. I don't love Helga." Gerald sighed, "But I do know somebody who does..."
"Who?" Arnold asked crankily.
"The same guy who knows how many steps it takes to get to her house, keeps a sweater she threw paint on and worries about her when she neglects to hit him with spitballs during class. He happens to be sitting in this room with me and he happens to be my best friend. Oh, and he's in complete denial!" Gerald exclaimed.
"Me?" Arnold's eyes grew wide.
"One month ago you showed up out of nowhere with her when we saved the neighbourhood, since then you've stared at her an average of a million times a day, you've rejected going to the movies with Lila and you're constantly trying to convince her to let you walk her home." Gerald began.
"I-I.." Arnold stuttered.
"It didn't start then though, oh no, I've been concerned this day would come for years. I hoped you'd get over it but it keeps getting worse." Gerald continued.
"Wh-Wha-" Arnold tried to speak.
"Now believe me I don't understand at all, I cannot stand the girl but... she's right for you man." Gerald finished.
"Years?" Arnold sighed nervously.
"Years." Gerald confirmed, taking the marriage predictor from the bed beside his friend and opening to the word 'Helga' and pointing with determination.
Arnold's face broke into a smile, "I love Helga." he confirmed softly.