"Please fasten your seatbelts and return all seats to the upright position. We will be descending into Hillwood International Airport in 15 minutes."
The flight attendant's shrill voice draws Arnold out of his reverie. He looks out the window and sees the skyline that was imprinted into his memory for thirteen years.
A hand squeezes his. He looks into the eyes of his mother who smiles and says "We're finally here. After four years, we're finally coming home."
Helga Pataki sits in her room, lost in her book of poems. It's the same story every year. She allows herself one day a year to remember when she lost what mere moments of happiness she could attain in her miserable life. Every other day, she's still the same Helga, less venom. Her threats of violence and maiming have transformed into sarcastic jokes and comic relief. She has friends, the ever loyal Phoebe and Gerald, Phoebe's boyfriend. She's accepted by her peers but stays to her circle. She immerses herself into her work and counts the days until she leaves Hillwood so she can finally stop being tormented by the ghosts of her memories with HIM.
But on this day, four years to the day that he walked out of her life, she allows herself to wallow in her misery. She writes sonnets and odes to their memories and to her pain. She sifts through her memory box and pulls out the mementos she couldn't bear to throw away: her pink ribbon that she weaves into her hair, the locket, a picture of them in the photo booth at Dino Land, and the letters. All the letters he persisted to write and all the letters she was too scared to return. She packs them in her bag and walks to the place of her dreams and nightmares: on their roof.
After they land and exit the plane, Arnold and his parents are greeted by the most wondrous sight: his grandparents.
"Shortman! Or should I say not-so-Shortman?" his grandfather laughs as he envelops him in a hug.
Arnold laughs at the truth in his statement. Last time he saw his grandfather, he was an awkward thirteen year old kid. But years in the jungles of San Lorenzo and puberty saw him skyrocket to a muscular and fit 6'5''. He grew into the football shaped head, no longer an awkward joke but a distinguishing characteristic. He no longer donned his token blue hat atop his head (too hot for San Lorenzo), instead opting to leave his blonde hair slicked back. He wore a fitted black t-shirt that outlined his physical form against jeans and brown Ralph Lauren loafers. Arnold's green eyes glisten as he sees his grandparents for the first time in four years.
"Kimba, we held down the home fort for you." His grandmother says with a salute.
"I missed you guys!" he says as he throws his arms around her.
"Enough of this jibber-jabber. I ate some raspberries on the way here and I'd like to handle my business of removing them in the comfort of my own home. Remember, Arnold-"
"Never eat raspberries, I know! At least that hasn't gotten old!" he says with a smile.
His father throws his arm around Arnold's shoulder and chuckles "Some things never change."
"Let's blow this Popsicle stand kiddies!" Phil yells as they grab the luggage and race to the miraculously still-functioning Packard.
"This bag of bolts is still alive?" Arnold asks incredulously.
"The good die young, but the great live forever Kimba. That's why me and the General are still manning our stations after all these years of war." his grandma says with a smile.
They drive to the Sunset Arms, catching up along the way. "Oh, Shortman, when we get home, grab the green box on the roof and bring it to me. Need some things inside." Phil asks.
"Sure no problem Grandpa."
They unpack the Packard and he drops the luggage in the living room. He runs up to the roof to grab the box from his grandpa and is startled by a collective and bellowing: SURPRISE!
He looks out in shock and turns to see his grandparents and parents smiling at him. He grins at them "You knew about this?" They haven't the chance to answer because he's dragged into the company of his longtime friends.
"Arnold!" he hears a deep, soulful voice call out to him.
He turns and sees his best friend, feet taller and hair shorter, with his arm wrapped around a petite Asian.
"Gerald!" he says as they do their handshake. He pulls his best friend in a firm hug, not allowing the "unmanly" tears to fall.
"Arnold, it's so great to see you!" Phoebe says as she wraps her arms around him.
He makes his rounds amongst his old friends, seeing how much they've changed and grown. Sid, the amphibian obsessed boy, grew into his nose and hair. Stinky got even taller. Harold went from chubby to bulging with muscles. Rhonda was in the corner, currently locking lips with Curly. Curly! He realized that he missed so much.
"Arnold!" a sugary sweet voice calls from behind him.
"It's ever so wonderful to see you. You look amazing. Almost delicious enough to eat."
He turns and sees Lila. LILA! The innocent farm girl morphed into a sultry temptress and from the way she was eyeing him now, she clearly retracted the "I don't like, like you" she bestowed upon him in fourth grade.
"Lila." He says with a warm smile. She wraps her arms around him, jumping and squirming in a presumably "seductive" manner. But he felt nothing. He didn't deny that she was beautiful, but he longed for blue eyes and a menacing scowl.
"It's so great that you're back. Maybe we can get together sometime." she says flirtatiously.
"It's going to be tough. New move and all. I'm not making any promises." She gets his underlying message: NO. She huffs and walks off to her other friends.
Arnold makes his way through his old friends, not neglecting to miss one. After he's sure he's seen them all, he scans his roof for blonde hair and a dash of pink, but there is none to be seen.
He steps into Phoebe and Gerald's conversation. "Thanks for planning this party guys. I'm so glad to see everyone. But, Phoebe, where's Helga?"
Phoebe and Gerald exchange a look and she replies defeated "She's not coming."
His face falls. "Does she know I'm back?"
"No. She never sticks around when your name comes up in conversation long enough to know." Gerald says.
Arnold's heart begins to ache. Gerald pulls him away and asks "You ok man?"
"No. How would you feel if the thing you wanted the most when you left has forgotten about you?" he says.
"Bullshit man! Pataki hasn't forgotten about you! Trust me I know. We're cool now."
"Then tell me why she doesn't even want to hear MY NAME anymore! What the HELL is that?"
"I'm not Pataki and I can't tell you. That's her job." Gerald pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. "Pataki's going to kill me but you're my boy, so I'm doing you a favor. Go to FTI. NOW."
Arnold looks at him confused. "FTI? Now?"
"Just trust me on this. GO!" Gerald says with force.
Arnold sees the intensity in his friend's eyes and starts off running out the house. He grabs the keys to the Packard, yells out to his parents and rushes out of the door.
Helga sits on a bench on the roof of the abandoned FTI building. She has a bag in her hand filled with the only indulgences she allows herself to keep of "HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED." She takes the locket and opens it: inside is a picture of him and her together, his arms wrapped around her front and his lips pressed upon her cheek. She was blushing and smiling in the picture. She was happy.
Helga places the locket around her neck for the first time in four years. Every year, on this day, she just glances at the picture. But, this year, as she clutches the locket to her heart, she's resolved to do something she never imagined she'd do: leave Arnold as a distant and happy memory. She grabs the only remaining poetry book and begins to write:
Alas, my love
Across seas and jungles you lie
A heart filled with joy in the arms of family once again
But for your joy comes my misfortune
This fragile heart, shattered by your absence
No one to repair or put together as the only one who could was you
Is this my penance for the sins I committed against you in my youth?
To know the love of he who I desired most, only to have it ripped from my grasp in a moment inopportune
Leaving my heart and world in a state of disrepair?
I have no malice in my heart for you, my blonde haired love god
Because the greatest privilege in my young life at least was the pleasure I had to love and be loved by you
She sets the notebook down as the tears pour out her eyes. She wraps her arms around herself, anyway to comfort herself. Suddenly, the sky opens and rain pours out of the sky.
"Criminy! This is great, just fucking great!" she hisses to herself. She rummages through her bag, hoping that an umbrella will suddenly materialize. Instead, she soaked through.
Unexpectedly, an umbrella covers her head. Heart racing, she turns and face the green eyes that haunted her nightly
"ARNOLD?" she says incredulously. Looking into those eyes, she can't help but remember what happened the last time they shared this roof.
Arnold grasped her hand firmly in his as they reach the bench on top of the FTI Building. They sat down and Helga wrapped her arms around his neck, drawing him in for a kiss.
"Helga, wait." Arnold says as their lips almost meet, the cool breeze of peppermint ghosting her lips.
"Criminy Arnoldo! I thought you brought me up here for some nostalgic make out time!" she smirks. Normally, Arnold would burst out laughing at her crude humor, but as she turns to look at him, she realized his eyes are burning with nervousness.
"Hey Arnold! Is everything ok, babe?" she says worriedly.
Arnold cups Helga's face in one hand and has a firm hold on the other. "Helga, I have to tell you something important."
"What is it?" she says meekly.
"My parents are moving back to San Lorenzo. The Green Eyes still really need their help out there a-and I-I'm going with them." Arnold stammers out.
"What?" she whispers.
"They're my parents Helga. Last time they left, I went without them for nine years and I'm not losing them again." He says with his eyes glistening.
"What about us?" she says weakly.
"I don't want you to be trapped, waiting for me, if I don't come back. I don't want some misguided loyalty to keep you rooted to me so I think we should break up." He says, tears running down his cheeks.
"TRAPPED TO YOU?! MISGUIDED FUCKING LOYALTY?! In case you don't get it, I love you. YOU AND ONLY YOU! Being with you is the only thing for me. I'll wait because you're IT for me." She screams.
"You say that now but what happens when you get to high school and I'm not back yet. When you meet some jock or some other hot guy! We're thirteen Helga! You can change your mind as quick as you change underwear. I don't want to be something you resent!" he says softly.
For the first time in her life, she slaps Arnold across the face. With tears running down her face, she screams "Fuck you Football Head! Don't presume to know how I'll feel years from now. I know I'm thirteen and I also know that this is how I've felt for ten years, since we were three years old! I confessed my feelings for you on this roof! I know how I feel about you and it's not some fucking pre-teen crush. I'd never resent you because I LOVE YOU! Don't undermine my feelings for you just because yours aren't the same! You're IT for me and if that's not enough to think I'll stay, then fine! You can be rid of me!"
She runs off the roof and out of FTI, leaving Arnold behind. The next day, remorseful, she calls Arnold's house, only to discover that he left that morning.
"Hey Helga." He says softly.
He looks at her for the first time in four years and is mesmerized. She stands tall, about 5'7", but shorter than him, which puffs him up with pride. Her unibrow is non-existent, carefully shaped into two thin eyebrows. Her skin is soft and creamy. Her eyes are still the brilliant blue that he's always got lost in and her full seductive lips form an 'O' in shock. Her body is lithe but sinfully curvy. Her blonde hair is no longer held in two pigtails, but in a fishtail braid running down her back, held together by the infamous pink bow. Even her style has changed. She dons a white, fitted sundress with a chambray shirt and a brown braided belt. It shows off her long, lean legs tucked into brown combat booties.
"This is a dream. This has to be a dream." she mutters to herself.
"Nope. It's really me." He says with a smile.
"Then what the fuck are YOU doing here, Football Head?" she scowls.
Arnold feels his anger rising. "What am I doing here? What about you? Why weren't you at my welcome home party? You didn't even know I was coming back! And what's this shit about you not wanting to hear my name come up?"
She snaps back "The world doesn't revolve around your ass, Football Head! I don't have to see you or know anything about your life. As a matter of fact, I don't have to answer to you. We're over, remember?"
No. Mine. His inner caveman grunts.
"I'm outta here, Football Head. See you around." She says nonchalantly.
He blocks her path. "Did you get any of my letters, Helga?"
She audibly gulps. "W-what?"
"I wrote you like every week. More than I wrote anyone! And I didn't get one back from you! But I still kept writing! All that bullshit and tears you said about loving me forever must've been crap for you not to write me back just once!" he shoots.
Rage blinds her and she slaps Arnold across the face. "FUCK YOU! It's the same shit as last time! Doubting how I feel about you! You think I didn't get your letters or write you?" She shuffles through her bag and pulls out two bundled stacks of envelopes and throws them in his face. "I read every single one of your fucking letters and wrote back too! I just couldn't send them to you!" she says, tears mingling with the rain.
"Why, Helga? Why?" he pleads.
"BECAUSE! Because I knew you hated me! Everything I said to you before you left! I would have hated me too. Those letters were only because you're such a nice guy and wanted to keep in contact with your friends! Seeing them there just made me remember that you were gone and probably never coming back! Writing back to you would just break my heart every time I got a reply! I couldn't do that myself!"
Arnold sees the anguish in her face and wants to run to her and hold her in his arms. But he forces himself to stay put. "Helga, why don't you want people to mention me to you anymore?"
She sobs. "B-b-because it just hurt too much! You were gone and didn't even believe in our love, in my love for you. You're Mr. Positivity, Arnold, and you couldn't even look on the bright side for us! That hurt more than anything! And hearing your name just made it harder to accept that we were over. Are over."
Emotion builds up in Arnold as he drops the umbrella, stomps forward to Helga, cups her face and roars "It wasn't over then and it sure as hell isn't over now!"
He brings her lips down to his and the mouths collided in a passionate embrace. Helga's arms snake around Arnold's neck and his hands tangle and undo her hair until it spills loose and free. The rain pounds harder now but the two are in their own little world.
Their lips move in tandem, trying to overpower one another. Arnold places his tongue at the seam of her lips, trying to gain entry but Helga's lips stay closed. Arnold runs one of his hand down the side of her body, thumb brushing against her puckered nipple. She gasps at the sensation and he uses the opportunity to slide his tongue alongside hers.
Their tongues battled for dominance, neither wanting the other to overpower them. Arnold wraps her arms around her waist, pulling her as close to his body as possible, as if to gain residence in her skin. He brings his arms underneath her thighs and lifts her up against his body. Instinctively, Helga's legs lock against his waist and without breaking the kiss, he leads her to the roof access door and presses her back against it.
His lips move off of hers and travel along her jaw and neck. He brings his lips to her ear, softly nipping at the lobe.
"Helga, do you still love me?" he whispers huskily into her ear.
She lets out a breathy moan and whispers "Yes. I still love you. I've never stopped."
He pulls back and looks at her flushed face, eyes darkened with lust and need. "Helga, I'm sorry I doubted you and us those years ago. I love you and only you. You're IT for me. If you'll have me back, I'll spend the rest of my life making it up to you."
Helga's eyes brimmed with tears and Arnold kissed them away. She said softly "I forgive you. I love you. Forgive me for all the hurtful things I said to you please?"
Arnold presses his lips tenderly against hers and whispers "Already forgiven angel."
Their lips met once again in a slow, tender kiss that still left them both breathless. And, on the rooftop of nightmares and dreams, eight years after saving the neighborhood and four years after their first end, Arnold and Helga find their way together and in the depths and pleasures of each other, they find their way back home.
A/N: Hey Arnold doesn't belong to me. It's the property of Craig Barlett and Nickelodeon.
Came to my head while dreaming. Hope you enjoy! Also, I'm thinking of writing a one shot about what happens on the roof after they forgive each other...hmmm it'll be naughty (but I'll need help, so PM if you're interested.)