Author's note:

This is the newer and hopefully improved version of "The Wrath Of Scheck!" My sincerest apologies to those of you who got headaches from TRYING to read my fanfic from the lack of paragraph structure. I HAD paragraphs in the word processor, but in the madness of uploading the stories to FF.net. well, they messed everything up.

Anyway, I've fixed a few things, including the lack of paragraphs problem. Here you go. Enjoy!

Arana







[b]"Helga Takes the Stage"[/b]



"So does P.S. 118 have any extracurricular activities?" Arnold's friend, Jackie, asked. They were on their way to school.

"Yeah, I guess so," Arnold said. "We had a school play a while ago." Arnold paused to recall the event. "It didn't turn out so good."

"What play was it?" Jackie inquired.

"Romeo and Juliet," Arnold replied. Jackie grinned.

"Who was the leading lady?" Her smile widened. "Eugene?"

"Worse," he said. "Helga."

"Ah," Jackie said. "I can see how her as the leading lady can be 'worse,'" She added sarcastically.

"Okay, well maybe it's not as bad, but you gotta admit, it's pretty bad."

"She's a pretty nice kid, behind all her antagonism."

Arnold sighed.

"How would [I]I[/I] ever find out?" He asked. "It seems like I'm always the one she centers all her 'antagonism' around."

"You are," Jackie pointed out.

"There has to be a reason," Arnold said.

"Low self-Esteem?" Jackie suggested. Arnold gave her a questioning look. She shrugged and said, "Most children with low self-esteem usually put down others in order to make themselves feel better."

"Where'd you pick [I]I[/I] up?"

"My Aunt is a psychiatrist."

"I see."

The school was just ahead.

"So do you think the school would take any suggestions?" Jackie asked. Arnold looked puzzled.

"What do you mean?"

"For some sort of after-school entertainment?" Jackie said. "I always thought it would be fun to start a Broadway Night. You know, where people come up and sing songs from musicals? I bet Eugene would love it." She grinned. Arnold chuckled.

"Maybe you shouldn't," Arnold said, returning the grin.

"Would [I]I[/I] be interested?" Jackie asked.

"Me?"

"Yeah!" Jackie said. "It would be loads of fun, and-" she grinned mischievously. "-Girls dig guys who sing!"

Arnold gagged in mock disgust. Jackie laughed and pushed him playfully. "I'll see you later in class!" She said, walking over to join Helga, who sat on one of the stairs.

Gerald stood next to him, shaking his head.

"I will never figure out why she likes Helga so much," Gerald said.

"I don't think we'll ever figure [I]girls[/I] out, Gerald," Arnold replied.

"Who cares?"

"Good point."

* * *

"All right, boys and girls," Mr. Simmons said, clapping his hands together to get everyone's attention. "We have received a very special request from Mr. Wartz today. He has asked that the school put on some sort of after- school activity, like a carnival or concert, next week. Do we have any suggestions?"

The class was quiet for a moment.

"How about a play?" Stinky asked.

"Man, we already did a play," Gerald said. "Romeo and Juliet, remember?"

"Yeah, and I had to kiss Arnold," Helga said.

"Hah, hah!" Harold laughed tauntingly. Helga turned to him.

"Hey, shut up, pigboy, or I'll-"

"Helga!" Mr. Simmons cut her off before she could say any more. "Any [I]other[/I] suggestions?"

"How about a Broadway Night?" Jackie said. Mr. Simmons nodded approvingly.

"That sounds like a very good idea," he said. "Very unique. Are there any others?"

No other replies came. Mr. Simmons shrugged.

"All right then," he said. "Looks like we'll be putting on a Broadway Night."

Mr. Simmons sat down at his desk.

"There will be a sign up paper on my desk for those of you who are interested. The rest of the time is yours."

A few cheers came from the class, and they all turned to their friends and began to socialize. Jackie went over and squatted down next to Helga.

"So, are you going to sign up?" Jackie asked hopefully. Helga snorted.

"Are you [I]crazy[/I]" she said. "I wouldn't be caught [I]dead[/I] in some stupid Broadway Night. Besides," she added. "I don't sing."

"Poppycock!" Jackie scolded. "Everybody has talent. They're all just in different areas. Now since yours definitely isn't in being [I]nice[/I]-" Helga shot her a dirty look. "-It [I]has[/I] to be somewhere else. Maybe you [I]can[/I] sing, and you just don't know."

Helga snorted. "That's a crock," she said. Jackie smiled.

"Maybe not," she replied. "Besides, maybe being in the show will do you some good."

Helga gave her a skeptical look.

Arnold went over to Gerald who was standing by one of the windows and getting ready to throw a paper airplane at Stinky.

"So Gerald-" he was cut off by a moan from his friend.

"No way, Arnold," Gerald said. "I know [I]exactly[I] what you're gonna say, and there's [I]no way[/I] I'm entering into some Broadway thing."

"Why not?" Arnold asked. "It'll be fun!"

"Maybe for [I]you[/I]," Gerald said. "But not for me." He tossed the airplane.

The bell rang, and all the kids flooded out the door. Arnold and Gerald waited for the crowds to go until they would leave.

To their surprise, they saw Helga go up to the sign-up sheet and scribble her name down.

"Helga?" Arnold said. "[I]You[/I] want to be in the Broadway Night?"

"Yeah, I do, [I]Football head[I]," She shot back. "You got a problem with that?"

"No," Arnold said. "I just didn't know you could sing."

"Yeah, neither did I," Helga snorted.

Arnold and Gerald exchanged glances.

"See you later," Arnold said as she left.

"Whatever, Headboy."

Helga sprinted around a corner and waited until Arnold and Gerald left the room and walked out the school's front doors. After she was certain they had left and no one was in her immediate surroundings, she leaned back against the wall and slowly lowered herself to the floor. She reached into a pocket she sewed into the front part of her dress and pulled out a gold, heart-shaped locket with a picture of Arnold in it.

"Oh Arnold," Helga heaved a great sigh. "Why must I continue to tease and torment you everyday? Why must I always cower behind a curtain of hatred when all I feel for you deep down inside is undying love? From the day I laid eyes on your wonderfully shaped head-" she stoked the picture. "-I have loved you. Why, oh why can't I tell you my feelings and not take them back or hide behind words of hate like a coward?"

Rasping breathing behind her stopped her from saying any more. She didn't have to turn to know it was Brainy. She quickly put her locket away, and, in one swift motion, swung her fist up and socked him right in the face. The rasping breathing softened, and she left the building without another word.

Helga knocked on the front door to Arnold's boarding house a few hours later.

"Coming!" came the muffled reply. Arnold himself opened the door a few moments later. He looked genuinely surprised to see her.

"Helga!" He said. "What are you doing here?"

"Definitely not to see you, Headboy," she snapped, though she was more than glad to see him.

"Who [I]are[/I] you here to see?" Arnold asked patiently. Helga had to admit, he was good at putting up with her.

"Jackie," she replied. "Is she here?"

"Yeah. I'll go get her," he said. "Come in."

Helga almost fainted. He had actually [I]invited[/I] her in. She could hardly believe her ears. She stepped into the main hallway.

"Wait here," he said. Helga nodded and stood where she was. A few moments later, Jackie came down the stairs with Arnold.

"Hi Helga," Jackie said. "Glad you could make it."

"It was either this or put up with Bob and Miriam," Helga said.

"They can't be [I]that[/I] bad," Jackie said.

"My dad calls me Olga and my mom is [I]so[/I] irresponsible it's a wonder she made it past thirty," Helga said. "They're both so obsessed with [I]Olga[/I]. It makes me wonder why they decided to have a second child."

"Who's Olga?" Jackie asked.

"My older sister."

Arnold felt a pang of sadness. Maybe [I]that's[/I] why she was always so angry.

"Don't you ever get lonely?" Arnold asked. Helga raised her eyebrow.

"I have ways of keeping myself busy," she replied. Arnold almost thought she glanced at him with a tender look in her eyes, but it immediately went back to her hostile stare.

"What do you do?" Jackie asked.

"I-I. Uh." Helga tried to think of something. "I write poetry."

"Oh really?" Jackie asked. "What type of poetry? Ballads? Sonnets? Narrative poetry? Do you write [I]love[/I] poems?" Helga shot her a warning glance and cleared her throat.

"I-I write. love poems," Helga stammered. "As in 'I would [I]love[/I] to go work on whatever you wanted me to come over and work on!'"

"Well [I]that's[/I] not very poetic at [I]all![/I]" Jackie said, grinning. "What kind of a poem is [I]that?[/I]"

Arnold chuckled and went into the next room. As soon as he was gone, Helga glared hatefully at Jackie.

"What was all [I]that[/I] about?" She snarled.

"Just trying to have some positive conversation between you and. what do you call him? Football-head?"

"Yeah, yeah," Helga said. "What did you want me to come over for?"

"Training," Jackie said. "You said yourself that you didn't know if you can sing. I'm here to help you."

"You sound like a shrink," Helga said. Jackie shrugged.

"But hey," Jackie replied. "What can you do?"

The two girls went up to Jackie's room. The room was decorated with all sorts of posters from different movies and musicals. A harp stood in the back corner. A flute case rested on her desk, next to her computer.

"Boy, your parents must be raking in the dough if you got one of these things," Helga said, indicating the harp. She plucked a string.

"We [I]did[/I] live in [I]Hollywood[/I], Helga," Jackie said. "Property out there doesn't come cheap, you know." She sat behind the instrument and raked her fingers gently across the strings. She started to play a song. "Besides, it used to be my grandmother's. She gave it to me before she died." Jackie had a sad, far-off look in her eyes.

"Wow, you're really good at that," Helga remarked, noticing Jackie's uncomfort. Jackie smiled.

"I've had lots of practice," She replied. She stood. "All right, Helga, it's time to get to work.

"There are two really important things you have to remember while singing: Posture and Ick-Face. Let's work on posture."

Jackie looked at Helga.

"Stand up strait, feet shoulder-width apart. Good. Shoulders back, and chin slightly lowered, head high... No, chin's too high. Good. Now if you can remember to stand like that whenever you sing, you'll sing stronger and have more support, so there's less of a chance you go flat."

"Okay," Helga said.

"Now, the Ick-Face," Jackie said. "It's like smiling from the cheeks up. Lift your upper lip a little, like you smelled something really nasty but you don't want to be rude and show your distaste."

Helga's lips twisted into a sneer.

"No no, Helga! That's a sneer."

"What's the difference?"

"With the Ick-Face, it's easier to project while you're singing, and, if it's done right, it keeps you from going sharp. With a sneer, you look like you're about ready to bite someone's head off."

"I have no idea what you just said, but the Ick-thing sounds better."

"Good! Now."

* * *

The days passed, and with the dawn of each day, Helga got better and better. She had gone through a list of songs and listened to all of them, and finally chose one. Helga was indeed a very fast learner. They had a rehearsal with all the performers the night before the Broadway night would be, just to work out organizational problems.

Finally, the night of the show arrived. Everyone who was in it was buzzing with excitement. Helga was just dead nervous. Jackie could tell from the way she acted.

The two girls stood backstage. Jackie was putting the final touches on Helga's hair. Helga was fiddling with a pencil.

Jackie had taken Helga's hair out of their normally messy pigtails and let it hang down naturally. It was slightly curly and fell around her shoulders.

"You should really wear your hair down like this more often, Helga," Jackie said for what was probably the billionth time. "You look so pretty."

"Yeah, yeah," Helga said. "I just feel so stupid when I'm all dressed up like this." "You call this dressed up?" Jackie looked at her dress. It was rather plain compared to Jackie's ball-type gown.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do," Helga said.

"Man are you nervous!" Jackie said.

"Hey Jackie," Arnold's voice startled the two girls.

"Arnold!" Jackie said. "How did you get backstage?"

"I have my ways," he smiled, and handed a single rose to Jackie. He glanced over to Helga. "Who's that with you?"

"What, you don't know?" Helga said, turning to face him. Arnold looked shocked to see her.

"Helga!" He said. "I couldn't even tell it was you!"

"Yeah, obviously," Helga snorted. "What do [I]you[/I] want?"

"I just wanted to say break a leg," Arnold said.

"Thanks, Arnold," Jackie said.

Arnold smiled and turned to leave, but before he did, he turned and said, "By the way: you guys look really nice. I like what you did with your hair, Helga." And with that, he left.

Jackie glanced at Helga, who had a lovesick look on her face. Jackie raised an eyebrow. Helga snapped out of it when a stagehand came in and yelled, "[I]One minute until curtain![/I]"

"See? What'd I tell you?" Jackie said. "You look better with your hair down. Even Arnold thinks so."

"Why do I care about what [I]football head[/I] thinks?" Helga snapped back.

Jackie rolled her eyes and hit Helga's arm.

"You need to loosen up."

There was a sigh from nearby.

"Looks like I'd better get onstage," Gerald said, mumbling to himself. Jackie had asked him personally to come and be announcer for the acts. He flicked a glance over at Jackie. "Thanks so much for agreeing to this, Gerald," Jackie said, walking up to him to fix his bow tie. "You're just so charismatic and fun to watch. I thought you'd be perfect to announce the acts.

"Yeah," he said. "No problem."

Gerald stood next to the stagehand and waited until he pulled the curtain. A single microphone was all that decorated the stage. Gerald walked out and pulled it off its stand.

"Good evening ladies and Gentlemen," he said. "We are glad you have joined us in a night that promises to be a truly entertaining one. We have."

The buzz backstage from the performers made Gerald's voice fade out of Helga's and Jackie's minds.

"Sure are a lot of people out there," one kid remarked.

"Yeah. I hope I don't throw up."

Everyone took a step away from the kid who said that. He blushed sheepishly and went over to a corner to practice by himself.

One by one, the performers all went up and did their acts. There were eight acts in all. Though the night didn't go off as smoothly as it was hoped, it was interesting and definitely entertaining. One kid fainted as soon as his cue to start singing arrived. One girl had the most. interesting choreography in her act and ended up tripping over herself and falling flat on her face. The best one was an act put on by Eugene from "Singing in the Rain," complete with tap dancing.

Finally, it was down to two acts: Jackie and Helga, in that order. Jackie drew in a deep breath and walked out onstage

She did her act beautifully. There wasn't a sour note in the entire song. The judges were certainly impressed that a fourth-grader could perform [I]Phantom of the Opera's[/I] "Music of the Night" perfectly.

"Thank you so much, Jackie," Gerald said. "It was a treat." He moved onto business.

"For the next and final act, we have. Helga Pataki." Gerald was surprised to see that name in the show. He walked up to Jackie after he had announced her. She was getting a harp she had borrowed from band to go onstage.

"I didn't see Helga backstage," he said.

"Sure you did," Jackie replied. "She was right with me."

Gerald raised his eyebrows and glanced at the blonde girl he had seen earlier.

"Wow. She looks good."

Jackie grinned and walked out onstage with her instrument. She sat near the back of the stage, so as not to draw attention to herself.

Helga was so nervous she had to clasp her hands together to keep them from shaking. She scanned the audience to look for familiar faces. There was Harold, and Sid, and Stinky, and.

[I]Arnold[/I].

He smiled at her and gave her a thumbs up. She was relieved of any nervousness right then and there. She gave him a faint smile in return and turned and nodded to Jackie. Jackie began to pluck the strings on her harp and Helga stepped forward. She drew in a deep breath and sang.

[I]"Sympathy, tenderness, Warm as the summer, Offered me their embrace. Friendliness, gentleness, Strangers to my life, They are there in his face. Goodness and sweetness and kindness abound in his face."[/I]

She looked directly at him.

[I]"I am in love with the things that I see in his face. It's a memory I know time will never realize."[/I]

Before she left the stage, she saw Arnold nodding his head in approval.

"Great job, Helga," Gerald said, patting her on the shoulder. She shrugged him off, not wanting to give up any more of her tough-girl image than she had to.

"And now, it's the time you've all been waiting for."

Gerald held up an envelope in his hand. He opened it up.

"This year's third place winner is. Eugene, with 'Singing in the Rain.'"

Eugene came onstage, waving and smiling, then tripping. He immediately got back up and resumed waving and smiling.

"This year's second place winner is. Helga Pataki with her song from 'Jekyll and Hyde!'"

Helga came onstage, wearing no grin or smile. She accepted her award and stood next to Eugene.

"This year's first place winner is Jackie Mark with 'Music of the Night'!"

She wore her winning smile and walked proudly to accept her award.

* * *

Helga and Jackie waited for all the crowds to die down before they started to leave. Arnold was sitting at the edge of the stage when they decided to emerge from the dressing rooms.

"Hey Arnold," Jackie said. "I thought you would've left already."

"I was waiting for you," he said. "I thought it would be nice to walk you and Helga home."

"Yeah, fo-"

"[I]Thank you,[/I]Arnold," Jackie said, loud enough to drown out Helga's potential insult. Helga glanced sourly at her, but said nothing. Arnold smiled, seeming to ignore Helga and her offensive antics.

"No problem," he said.

They started to walk out of the auditorium.

"You two did really well," Arnold said. "And first and second place! I'm really happy for you."

"Thanks, Arnold," Jackie said. She elbowed Helga.

"Thank you," Helga said, though it sounded forced.

"So Helga," Arnold asked, grinning mischievously. "Was there any particular person you were singing about?" Helga tensed up, not sure of what to answer.

"Of course not, [B][I]ARNOLDO[/I][/B]*" she said.

The front door to the auditorium opened, revealing Miriam, Helga's mother.

"Helga, honey," she said. "Sorry I'm late. I thought I'd give you a ride home."

Helga looked back at Arnold and Jackie, slightly sorrowful for only a moment before it turned into a neutral glance at her mother.

"Okay mom," she mumbled. "Thanks. Oh, and I got second place."

Her mom didn't seem to hear her.

"Uh huh, that's great dear."

Jackie and Arnold exchanged sad glances. Jackie went over and tapped her on the shoulder. When Helga turned around, Jackie hugged her.

"Great job," she said. "I'll see you at school."

Helga had the faintest of grateful smiles on her face as she nodded and went back home with her mother.

[B]THE END (again)

*Don't you just love my subliminal messages?

WHEEEEEE!!! I miss you cupcake.. I'M GONNA SING THE DOOM SONG NOW!!! DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM. [I]DOOM DOOM!![/I][/b]