Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters mentioned in this story.

They all belong to their rightful owner: Craig Bartlett.

Title: "A different kind of Cecile"

Summary: When rumors about Helga working at a strip club starts roaming around in their high school, Arnold makes it his personal mission to prove to everyone Helga does not work in a strip club, but will he like what he finds at "Tenderloins"?

Author's 1st note: So! This is my first ever Hey Arnold! One-shot fan fiction! xD My first fan fiction story is of course "Blackmail toy". Now, how did I get the idea to this story? Honestly, I'm not sure. This isn't based off on a dream like "Blackmail toy" is, I didn't watch a scene in a movie and was inspired to do this, nothing like that. Maybe it's because I got the idea such a long time ago, that I can't even remember where it came from? xD Who knows!

Firstly: This is rated M for obvious reasons: It revolves around a strip club, for heaven's sake! :P So of course some explicit language and sexual dancing will occur.

Secondly: "Tenderloins" is not a name I came up with, I got it from the show "Stripperella" where the club she works at is called "Tenderloins." The sign and the "bad puns" and such are from the show too.

Thirdly: I'm not 100 % how a strip club works, never been to one! I only know what I know from movies and such, and I haven't exactly seen a lot of those either :P But I hope I don't make any stupid mistakes about how it "goes down" in a strip club xD

FYI, this should be obvious, but it's written in Arnold's point of view ;)

And I recommend that when the title of a song is mentioned, that you'll listen to it while reading. It'll bring the text more to life and make you get sucked more into it ;) And there's a "hidden" song reference in this one-shot. An imaginary cookie for the one who can find it! xD

Revised in June 2018

It had seemed like a rather normal, December day in Hillwood, when I went to school that morning. I was shaking a bit from the freezing cold, as I looked up into the sky. Why hadn't it started snowing already? We were getting close to Christmas Eve and we hadn't seen a single snowflake yet. I rubbed my hands together quickly in an attempt to gain some heat.

"Hey, man!"

I turned around to see my best friend Gerald - whom I had known since I was in preschool - coming running towards me. I couldn't help but quirk an eyebrow at his very white coat and his very white pants and, of course, his very white beanie. All the white made it only more obvious that he was of African-American descent.

"Good morning, Gerald. What, you trying to compensate for the missing snow or something?" I asked sarcastically.

"Yeah, I guess I am. I don't know, man, I just felt like being white today." Gerald answered. I bit my lips together, trying not to point out the obvious bad joke. He saw right through me though and punched my upper arm playfully. "Oh, haw-haw."

"Sorry. That was inappropriate." I admitted, while I rubbed the slightly sore spot on my arm.

"Speaking of inappropriate things." Gerald said as we started walking.

"I don't want to know what kinda present you're giving Phoebe this year if it's gonna be filled with nightmare fuel like last year." I quickly said, as I remember his comment about 'wrapping himself in red and green ribbons and give her himself as a present'. I shivered, and not because of the cold.

"No! I'm talking about that rumor about Helga Pataki!" Gerald answered with a frown.

I felt my heart pop at the mere mentioning of her name. Helga was the girl whom I have known my entire life. Being around her was like being on a roller coaster ride, the kind where you never knew what to expect. She was the one to make me feel the lowest and the highest. Helga had been my personal bully all through my childhood and through my early teen years. It hadn't change much, despite me being 18 and her being 17 by now and almost graduating. She was cold, and she was cruel, but she knew what she was doing. She had this invisible magnet she always used to pull me towards her. As soon as I was sure that from now on I'd hate her, and never talk to her again, she would be the sweetest girl beyond imagination. To put things simple: Strange as it seemed, she was just the girl I was looking for.

A smack to the back of my head brought me back to reality. "Ow!" I exclaimed and started rubbing.

"Get out of your Helga-wonderland, would you? I'm trying to tell you something here." Gerald said, fully knowing where my thoughts had gone to; where they always went to at the mentioning of Helga actually.

"Sorry…" I muttered and shook my head little as we continued to walk. "Wait… Rumors? What do you mean 'rumors'? I haven't heard anything."

"How can you not have heard them? It's been buzzing around for the last week, dude."

"… What is the rumor?" I asked nervously.

Gerald moved his lips a little closer to my ear. "Apparently, she's been spotted walking out from 'Tenderloins'." He answered and pulled back.

I cocked an eyebrow at him. "Tenderloins, what's that?"

Gerald rolled his eyes. "I swear, you're the only guy in town not knowing that place. It's a strip club!" he answered.

I blinked once, then twice, then a couple of times right after each other, before my eyes went bigger than teacups and I jumped back, hitting the fence. "What?!"

"Calm down, Arnold." Gerald demanded and went to help me get out of the fence.

"But… B—But…" I muttered as I pulled at my coat to get it off the fence. When it was off, I started shouting. "Why would Helga go into a place like that?!"

"Well, why do girls usually walk into a strip club?" Gerald asked, winking.

I felt anger boil inside of me, and before I knew what I was doing, I grabbed Gerald's collar. "Helga would never work in a place like that! She's got way too much self-respect to ever do something like that!"

"Hey, hey! Don't kill the messenger." Gerald said and pulled my hands off him.


"Yeah, what gives?" Gerald asked and readjusted his coat.

"It's just…" I began to bite my lower lip. "Helga wouldn't do something like that. She's… Come on! She's the owner of Old Betsy and The Five Avengers! A girl who names her fists don't strip!"

"How do you know that? I mean, her dad could have told her to make her own money. Maybe she took the easy way?"

"How is stripping easy?"

"How is it not?"

"You know what I mean! Just… No! Helga wouldn't be a stripper. Who even told you that?" I asked, furrowing my eyebrows.

"I heard it from Sid." Gerald answered and that was all I needed to know.

Before Gerald could stop me, I was already heading inside the school. I could hear him following me, even calling my name a few times. He asked me what I was planning to do, as if he didn't know already. It didn't take long before I found Sid talking to Stinky and Harold. I went straight over to them.

"Oh, hey, Arnold." Sid greeted. "How's it—"

Before he could speak further, I grabbed his collar. "What the hell do you mean Helga works at a strip club?!"

"Arnold, calm down!" Gerald asked of me and grabbed my shoulder.

"Who told you Helga works at a strip club?" I asked more calmly, but didn't loosen my grip on Sid.

"I—I haven't seen it for myself, but I heard it from Curly!" he answered with fright in his eyes.

I couldn't blame Sid for telling on Curly so easily. He'd always been a true coward, and I could get scary when I was mad. Knowing that horrible rumors like Helga working at strip club were roaming around in school made me furious to the core. I let go off Sid and went to pursue my next victim.

"Man, this is why I didn't want Arnold to find out. He's been crazy with Helga since we were 13 years old. I told you hearing that she sells her body would make him freak." I heard Sid say to the other boys.

Starting to walk backwards, I yelled back at them. "She is not selling her body, and I'm gonna prove it!"

"Arnold!" Gerald called and ran after me. I didn't hesitate though, since I had a feeling where Curly would be. I went towards the locker of Rhonda Wellington Lloyd and, not to my surprise, there he was, sneaking in another obsessive love poem into her locker.

"Curly!" I shouted at him and walked towards him.

Curly looked up from the locker in slight panic, but when he saw me, he simply smiled. "Good morning, Arnold, what's gotten you so angry on this fine December morning?" he asked, before I grabbed his collar.

"Where did you hear that Helga works at a strip club?"

"Huh? Oh! Right! Yeah, I heard that from Wolfgang. He and some of the other held-back guys saw her walking out from that place." Curly simply answered, knowing far too well – like every other guy who had known me and Helga since preschool – why I was so flustered about it.

Wolfgang, also a tormenter of my childhood, was this typical, big, dumb bully, even at the age of 19 years. He was held back a year - to no one's surprise - and was therefore, to my luck, still attending the same high school as me.

"Thanks." I answered Curly, let go of him and went to run towards the stairs.

"Good luck on your quest, my good man!" Curly yelled back at me as he waved.

I smiled a bit, as I gave a halfheartedly wave back, knowing that Curly had always been cheering for Helga and me, though in vain for now. I heard Gerald call me again, but I still ran up the stairs. I knew Wolfgang and his gang would be somewhere upstairs, probably bullying some kid. I ran through a couple of hallways, before I saw him. He was standing, leaning up against a wall, as he was trying to smooth-talk some girls clearly too young for him.

"Wolfgang!" I yelled, before walking towards him.

Wolfgang and the two girls looked at me in surprise.

"What do you mean that you've seen…" I stopped talking, as the fact of the presence of two girls hit me. "Uh… girls, could I borrow Wolfgang for a second?" I asked, making sure to give that smile, I had through puberty realized could make girls melt. Why, I never knew, and I didn't care much for it, since it obviously didn't work on Helga. If it had, then she would have been kissing my feet at this point, because I recycled it enough around her to make me worthy of a freaking trophy or something.

As I had hoped, the girls giggled, nodded and walked away. "What the hell, football face, what's the big idea?" Wolfgang asked me, having obviously expected the girls to stick around.

"It'll only take two seconds, Wolfgang. Now, as I was about to say: Where have you heard that Helga Pataki works at a strip club?"

"I haven't heard it, I've seen it." Wolfgang answered, as he crossed his arms.

I felt my heart sting. "Uh… what do you mean 'seen' it?" I asked, gulping a bit.

He smirked. "Well, I saw her walking out of this strip club called 'Tenderloins'. The next night, me and some guys went to ask if she was dancing tonight, but the bodyguard told us, he couldn't give us that information, since they respect the girls' privacy. He wouldn't even confirm whether it was her or not, but it was her. I can recognize that tomboy anywhere."

"Then, technically, you haven't actually seen Helga strip?" I asked, wanting to make sure.

Wolfgang sighed a bit and nodded. "Unfortunately not, kiddo, though I wouldn't mind." He answered. I wrinkled my nose in disgust and turned around.

Almost instantly, I saw Gerald coming running towards me. "Hey, Gerald. You didn't have to chase me, you know." I pointed out.

"I… I know…! Old habit, I… guess…" he answered, obviously out of breath, and straightened his back to look at me. "So… is the rumor true?"

"I'm… not entirely sure, but… Wolfgang claims that he and some friends saw Helga walk out of the club, but the bodyguard wouldn't confirm her name."

"No, of course not. These girls don't use their real name."

"They don't?"

"No! Are you kidding? Most strippers don't want their friends or family to know about it. You think Helga would want people to know? No way. They use fake names. Usually pretty ones like Angelina, Roxanne or something like that."

"So… then what? If I want to know if the rumors are true or not, then I need to confront her?" I asked, seriously not wanting to anger Helga Pataki of all people.

"I guess so. Either that or… going to the strip club to see for yourself." Gerald answered.

My eyes bulged out of my eye sockets and my mouth dropped. "No!" I answered with obvious disgust and walked past him.

"I was only kidding! You, at a strip club? Yeah, that'd be the day. You'd look away politely as soon as a girl came near you." Gerald said, laughing at his own joke.

I rolled my eyes and gave a sarcastic laugh back, knowing all too well how true it was. My grandparents had raised me; of course, my thoughts on such matters were different. They were fun, but still old-fashioned people. It was a different childhood, but I still grew up a happy and healthy child. What else could I ask for?

"So, what is the plan? You gonna confront Helga?" Gerald asked, as we walked down the stairs.

"Well… I guess I don't have any other choice if I want to prove to people that she's not a… an erotic dancer." I answered, cringing on the inside at the mere thought.

"Oh, come on, you've been in love with the girl for years. Would you seriously mind if she gave you a lap dance?"

"M—Me being the only one would be something different!" I admitted with reddening cheeks, and it was different. It was the whole doing it public, for money and for dirty, old, sleazy men, who just looked at her for her young body. That was the part that disgusted me.

As soon as I Gerald and I rounded the corner down in the hallway, I bumped into something. Or rather someone. I fell right back on the floor, hitting the back of my head. I heard a female yelp, before I sat up. "Helga!"

"Ow!" Helga yelped again and sat up, rubbing her head. She opened her eyes, saw me and went bulge-eyed. "Arnold! What the hell? How come we're still bumping into each other at this age?" she asked with her signature scowl and swung her legs around to crouch.

"Uh, sorry, Helga." I answered, feeling my heart beat faster at her being right in front of me. When she started to collect some papers, which had been spread around after we bumped into each other, I started grabbing them too.

"You don't have to help me." Helga said with a cranky voice.

"I know," I handed her some papers. "but I want to." I answered with that charming smile, I always made sure to use around her. Mostly I did it automatically, since she just brought out that smile in me. She blinked for a few seconds, before she simply grabbed the paper and stuffed it into her folder.

"Thanks…" she muttered under her breath, which I obviously wasn't supposed to have heard, so I didn't answer. "Well, see you in class, you two." The blonde dimissed and walked right past me. I felt her blonde hair flutter against my neck when she did, and it sent a comfortable shiver through me. I turned around to keep looking at her, as she went to her locker.

"You are such a goner." Gerald mumbled teasingly and started laughing. I could only laugh back, since it was true. I was whipped down to my knees, and I wasn't even dating the girl.

"So, you gonna talk to her?" Gerald asked.

My eyes went wide. "Oh, right! N—Now…? Uh… yeah, I guess I might as well get it out of my system as quickly as possible. I won't see her until after the holidays are over after all. See you in class, Gerald." I answered swiftly and started running towards her. Was it just me, or was I running around a lot today?

Helga didn't notice me at first. At least it seemed that way, until her eyes obviously went in my direction. "What do you want, Football Head?" she asked indifferently. Her annoyed tone from before was gone. I had noticed during puberty that her voice often changed, depending on the person she was around.

When Helga and I were alone, she sounded casual. Not cold, nor angry, but when we were around other people, she was often rude and seething. In a way, it made me feel happy to know that she was that comfortable around me, but it also made me feel sad, since it meant she wasn't comfortable around others. Perhaps with the exception of Phoebe, her best friend.

"Well, uh, can I ask you something?" I asked casually and started leaning my back at the locker behind me.

"You technically just did, so I guess you want to ask me two questions?"

"Uh, yeah." I answered, having to smile a little at her sense of humor.

"Well, guess what, Arnoldo, you can ask all you want, but I might not answer. Depends on the question, I guess, so fire away." Helga answered and kept rummaging in her locker.

"Uh… could you look at me, while I ask?" I requested, hoping that having eye contact would make her feel obligated to tell the truth.

Helga glanced at me with a small frown. "That serious, huh?" she closed her locker and turned her body around, so she was facing me and crossed her arms beneath her chest. "All right, you have my full attention. What's up, paste for brains?"

"Uh… do you know about… the rumor about you at the moment?" I asked carefully, hoping not to step on a landmine.

Helga's eyebrow quirked. "Rumors? What rumors? Isn't there always rumors about everyone in high school?"

"Well, maybe, but yours is a bit… different."

"Oh, are people getting creative all of a sudden? Well, good for me. Anyways, I have no clue about what it is, so please enlighten me." Helga requested, looking honestly curious about whatever the rumor might be.

I leaned a little closer to her, noticing the faint smell of vanilla on her body. "The rumor says that you… work as a… stripper." I whispered into her ear and leaned back instantly, hoping I didn't have to start using self-defense.

I observed Helga for some seconds, as she simply blinked. She didn't seem to react to the rumor, and I had no clue about what to make of that. Was that a good or a bad sign? I was about to ask her, when she suddenly erupted into a hysterical laughter. I couldn't help but smile, since I loved Helga's laughter, and laughter couldn't possibly be a bad sign, right? I chuckled along with her, until she started panting, since she was trying to talk in-between her laughs.

"Oh, my God! What?! What the hell! Where did that come from? Where the fuck did you hear that?"

"Well, it all goes back to Wolfgang, who claims he saw you walking out of Tenderloins."

"What the holy fuck is Tenderloins? Isn't that some sort of beef?"

"I don't know. Apparently, it's some strip club. I haven't been there, so I have to take the guys' word for it."

"Yeah, I know you haven't been there." Helga answered with a big smile.

I frowned at that comment. "W—What do you mean?"

"Oh, come on. You, at a strip club? It would make more sense for Gerald to start dancing ballet." She answered and shook her head in amusement.

I couldn't argue with that, so I simply scratched the back of my head. "Well, that's the rumor. I just figured you should know."

"Yeah, thanks for telling me, it gave me a good laugh. Man, boys just can't get the mind out of the gutter, can they?" she asked and pulled her bag over her shoulder.

I smiled awkwardly and shrugged, since I was technically in the category formerly mentioned, though I would have loved to think I was just a little bit more decent than most high school boys.

"Good thing you're not like that." Helga then added and walked past me.

I felt my eyes go wide, my heart go warm and my head get fuzzy. It really didn't take much more than that from Helga Pataki to make me melt. I turned around with a goofy smile on my lips, and noticed that she was glancing at me over her shoulder as she was walking. "You joining me for English, Football Head?" she asked with a small smile.

I gave an even bigger smile and ran to catch up with her. Not too long after, Helga and I walked inside the classroom. I noted how quick the guys were to notice her walking in. I could practically see them undressing her with their eyes. I felt disgusted with them and wanted to say something so badly, but she beat me to it.

"Oh, here comes the stripper!" Helga said with an audible voice and shimmied her way through the classroom. The girls in the room laughed, while the boys went a bit bug-eyed. This rumor was obviously a boy thing.

Helga put her hands to her waist and slacked it to the right, making an obvious, subconscious sassy pose. "You gotta be kidding me. You really can't find enough pleasure in all the porn magazines you boys have lying around? Even the ones, which you even bring along to school? Yeah, Sid, I've seen them!" she said as she looked at him.

He leaned back in his chair in a pathetic attempt at trying to hide himself.

"No, of course not. You need to imagine the girls in your class being a fucking stripper to get off, Wolfgang?" Helga asked and walked to his desk. She put her palms on it and gave a seething smile. "Why did you tell people I was a stripper?"

Wolfgang smirked, as he put his hand behind Helga's neck and pulled her closer to him. "Because I saw you walk out of your workstation." He answered.

Helga growled at the back of her throat and lifted her hand to smack him. He saw it coming though and caught her wrist with ease. Wolfgang stood up from his chair, while she struggled to wriggle her hand out of his grasp. He took ahold of her waist, turned her around and pushed her back on his desk, pushing her down. She groaned in slight pain at feeling the hard wood slam against her back, but mostly she was gritting her teeth in rage.

"So, Helga, since there's a stripper hidden under all those clothes, how about you show me what you can do?" Wolfgang asked with a seething smile and bend down towards her, with his legs spread around her right one. "You feel that, baby?"

I could feel the fuse to my patience getting shorter and shorter and was ready to interfere, when I noticed the gleeful smile on Helga's face. "I feel shit, needle dick."

While Wolfgang gritted his teeth, the rest of the people in the class laughed.

"Maybe you can feel this?" Helga asked, before she whipped her knee up into Wolfgang's groin. He gave a painful grunt from his throat and let her go. "Never do that to me again, you fucking creep!" she said, while she swung herself up from the desk with ease and pushed him, so that he went stumbling back right into the teacher's desk.

"Ms. Pataki!" an angry, male voice yelled. Everyone turned to look at the vocal sound, belonging to our English teacher Mr. Jackson. I turned to look at Helga, who was currently stepping away from Wolfgang, licking her lips and looking only slightly nervous.

"Crap." I could see her mutter, as she crossed her arms.

"What do you think you're doing?" Mr. Jackson asked, as he walked over to Wolfgang.

"Well, you're obviously mad at me, so I'm guessing something that disapproves with the school rules?" Helga suggested, earning a laugh from some of our peers.

"Do you have anything to say in your defense, young lady?" Mr. Jackson asked while he pulled Wolfgang up from the desk.

Helga looked pensive for a second. "Yeah, I do. I usually wouldn't have done this, but I didn't expect you to actually be on time today." She answered, earning yet another laugh from our classmates, even from me.

Mr. Jackson turned around to scowl at me in particular, since I was usually polite even if the other students weren't. I tried looking casual, but when Helga and I made eye contact, I couldn't help the smile appearing on my face.

"Whoops. My bad." Helga added.

Mr. Jackson walked slowly towards her, while Wolfgang kept leaning against the desk, obviously wanting to cup his sore crotch. I couldn't feel the least bit sorry for him. He deserved it for making up a lie about Helga and even more for sexually harassing her.

"I'm sending you down to the principal's office, Ms. Pataki." Mr. Jackson said. Helga scowled deeply at him, obviously wanting to smack him, but simply held her head high and strutted out of the room.

"Excuse me, Mr. Jackson, but Wolfgang was the one to start it." Stinky said, making the others nod in agreement.

"Yeah, he started a rumor about Helga being a stripper and then went all pervert on her!" Harold added and crossed his arms with a sullen look.

Mr. Jackson cocked an eyebrow and turned to look at Wolfgang. "Is that true?" he asked.

Wolfgang didn't answer, but just kept whimpering in pain. I smirked; Helga must've really given it her all. I wasn't usually the gleeful type, but Wolfgang was a real jerk and Helga hadn't deserved what he'd done to her.

"Well, if everyone is saying so, then I guess I have to believe it. You go to the principal too, young man." Mr. Jackson said. Wolfgang looked like he wanted to talk back, but was in too much pain to do so; he simply limped out of the room.

As soon as the bell rang, signaling for the recess to start, it seemed like every boy in class huddled together. "So, you guys think that Wolfgang really did just start a rumor about Pataki?" Gerald asked. I rolled my eyes and walked over to join them, mostly to defend Helga.

"I'm not sure. I mean, it seems like something Wolfgang would do, but how could he come up with Helga working as an exotic dancer? It takes some serious creativity to come up with that, and Wolfgang ain't exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer." Harold answered.

"I'm not convinced. I still think Helga's working at Tenderloins." Sid chimed in with a pensive look.

"You really think so?" Harold asked with an equally thoughtful expression.

"We all know why you want Helga to work at Tenderloins, Sid." Curly said while wriggling his eyebrows.

"What's that supposed to mean?" I asked with my eyes narrowed. The boys turned to look at me. "Arnold! When did you get here?" Gerald asked.

"What? Am I not allowed into this little boys' meeting? So, tell me, Sid, why do you want Helga to work with something like so badly?" I asked and sat down with the boys. I usually wasn't this aggressive, but this whole Helga being a stripper thing was making me cringe to the very core.

"She's hot." Sid answered with a shrug, which made me frown a bit. "That's all it is, man. I don't have any feelings for her. She's all yours." He added with slight panic.

"She's not all mine. I don't own her, I'm not even dating her." I answered with a sullen look. The boys were looking at me with sympathy, until I shook my head to get myself out of my half-depressed state. "Anyways, I talked to Helga earlier. When I told her about the rumor, she laughed until my ears hurt. She hasn't even ever heard of the Tenderloins, only about the beef called Tenderloins."

"Huh, I guess Wolfgang did just create that rumor then." Harold said, but my eyes were on Sid, since he was still looking doubtful.

"I'm not sure, guys, Helga is a good actress. She could easily have pretended she didn't know. I mean, she probably wouldn't want anyone to know about her working at a place like that, right?"

"Oh, come on, Sid! This is ridiculous." I complained. "Why would Helga work as… an exotic dancer? It makes absolutely no sense. Whenever a guy dares to even look in her direction, she either glares at him or slaps him. Can you imagine that girl taking money from older, strange men by stripping? Are you kidding me?"

The boys looked at each other and then back at me. "Seems like the only way we'll ever find out is if one of us actually goes to Tenderloins." Sid stated.

My eyes went big. "What? No!"

"And since it's only you and Harold who are 18 years old, and Harold here is dating Patty – who'd kill him if she ever found out – then it's gotta be you, Arnold." Curly chimed in.

I stood up from seat. "No! I am not going into some sleazy place like that! Helga is not an exotic dancer, so it's gonna be a waste of time anyway." I answered, shaking to the very core of my body from the sheer thought.

"Well, then we're just gonna keep believing Helga's working there, right? Since there's no proof that she isn't." Sid observed with a shrug.

"There's no proof that she does work there either!" I corrected, having a bad feeling about where this conversation would lead.

"Yes, there is. Wolfgang's words about seeing her there." Curly altered.

I sat back down again with a huge sigh. "Going to a place like that… I—I don't know, you guys… It's not really my thing…"

"Well, sure, but you know what is your thing?" Gerald asked, and I looked up at him. "Helping Helga."

"Exactly." Sid answered with a big smile.

I turned to look at each of the boys in front of me, all of them obviously hoping for me to say yes to this crazy plan. "W—Well… I do want to prove that Helga's not working at a skeevy place like that, so…" I muttered and sighed in defeat. "Fine. I'll go to Tenderloins tonight."

The boys around me started cheering around me, as I simply put my hand to my chin. What in the world had I gotten myself into?

Several hours later, when the streetlights had been turned on for a while, only giving very little light to the streets of Hillwood, I had spent some time some time studying how strip clubs worked. Some things surprised, while others didn't. Most importantly, I was just happy that Tenderloins' age limit was 18 and not 21 years. I had dressed myself in a pair of black pants, black shoes and a white dress shirt with a black vest over it. I read that certain strip clubs had dress codes, so I had also put on a tie. I wasn't even sure if Tenderloins had a dress code to begin with, but I wasn't going to take the chance. Then I finally found the place. I took a deep breath and looked up at the huge neon sign saying: Tenderloins with a leg wearing a red stiletto and a red bow as a garter. Not daring to cross the street to walk over to the place just yet, I kept looked around it. I noticed several signs hanging around. The ones that caught my attention were mostly bad puns really.

The Best Cervix In Town, More Loin. Less Coin. and Start Spreading The Nudes.

I felt like laughing and wrinkling my nose at the same time. "Really…?" I mumbled in disbelief, feeling honestly less intimidated now. As I took the first couple of steps towards Tenderloins, I noticed yet another sign, this one closest to the front door:

Open 'till 2am. Never clothed.

Ok, that was a good one, I'll give them that.

"ID, please." The bouncer inquired and held out his hand.

I grabbed my ID card out of my pocket and handed it to him. He eyed it for a second, before cocking his head to the side towards the door and gave me my card back. I figured that meant I could go right in. I walked quickly past him and went inside. Almost as soon as I got inside, I felt the little boy inside me cringe. I furrowed my eyebrows as I for the first time saw a strip club. The place was dark, but lit with neon lights, giving a nightclub atmosphere. Except, in this club, the girls were standing around on tables, grinding up against poles or sitting on the laps of random guys. I gulped loudly, but took a deep breath and walked further inside. My eyes darted around, as I could smell this odd odor, which stank of baby powder and Windex. What the hell was that? I didn't wanna know, so I just continued to the bar. I had read that bartenders and DJ's were the people to talk to, if you were new to the whole experience, and I was a virgin to the boot.

"Hey, buddy, what can I get you?" the bartender asked me as he shook a bottle in his hand.

"Information." I answered.

He quirked an eyebrow at me and went closer to me. "I'm not allowed to tell much, but it depends on your question. What's up, kiddo?"

"… I'm looking for a girl."

"Now, that's a surprise."

"No, not… not like that. Uh… a specific girl."

"You picky about your type, kiddo?" the bartender asked.

I shook my head. This wasn't going so well. "No, it's more like… I'm looking for a girl I know." I finally admitted, hoping he wouldn't throw me out.

The bartender looked around before he bends over the desk, getting closer to me. "Look, kiddo, I'd like to help you, but I don't know these girls that well. I don't even know their real names. I probably can't help you, but, uh… since I'm in a good mood… could you describe her for me? I already have a clue who you might be looking for."

"R—Really?" I asked nervously. The bartender nodded, waiting for me to describe Helga. "Uh, all right… Uh, she's… she's got blonde hair, which goes almost all the way down to her waist. She's got big, blue eyes—"

"A big mouth to match?"


"Uses her fists, if anyone tries anything?"

"Yes! Does she… work here?" I asked, realizing that the bartender knew Helga.

He sighed a bit, obviously sorry on my behalf. "I'm sorry, kiddo, but she does. Hey, don't tell anyone I told you, all right? We're not supposed to be talking about the dancers like this, but it seems important to you."

"I won't tell anyone." I started to feel depressed. "Oh, man… she really works here? I can't believe it… What is she thinking?"

"Well, Jino might be able to answer that." the bartender answered me.

I looked up from the desk. "Jino?" I repeated.

"Yeah, the DJ. He knows the girls better than I do. Just tell him I send you then he'll probably spill the beans, but tip him good. He's a greedy son of a bitch." The bartender answered me with a wink.

"Thank you." I said to him and left some bucks for him, before I went towards the DJ. He had just switched the music, so he was sitting down, bouncing his head up and down to the beat. "Hey." I said, only loudly enough for him to hear. He looked towards me and removed the headphones from his head.

"Hey yourself."

"The bartender told me that I could get some information from you." I said and showed him some bucks in my hand.

Jino grabbed them instantly. "Typical of George to make me bend the rules. Oh, well, he wouldn't send you to me, if he didn't think this was important to you. So, what can I do for you?"

"I want you to tell me what you know about this certain dancer."

"What dancer? What's her stage name?"

"I… I don't know, but the bartender – George – knew her."

"Oh, yeah? What does she look like?"

"Blue eyes, long blonde hair, feisty attitude—"

"Calls her fists Old Betsy and The Five Avengers?" Jino asked with a smirk.

My eyes went wide. "Yeah… so she really does work here." I said with an displeased voice and banged my head up against the wall.

"She your girlfriend?"

"… No."

"But you wish she was?" Jino asked, obviously already knowing the answer. I smirked a bit as I nodded. "Well, I'm sorry to hear that. Anything else you wanna know? For a couple more bucks, of course."

I thought about it for a second, but then pulled some bucks out of my pocket. "Yeah, I wanna know everything you know about her." I answered.

"Well, here's all I know: She's 17 years old, practically begged for the job about two weeks ago and she's one hell of a dancer."

"She begged for this job?"

"Yeah, since she's not really 18 yet, but she said she really needed the money, and since she was a really good dancer, then they bended the rules a bit." Jino explained.

I frowned. A good dancer? Was that even a compliment in a place like this? Then again, I already knew Helga was a good dancer, I had known that since the fourth grade when we did the tango together. In addition, she was a strong, athletic girl, she could definitely make all those complicated moves on the poles.

"What's her stage name?" I asked, suddenly curious about what Helga would choose for a fake name. Jino held out his hand, signaling for him to want more money.

He started counting the bills the moment I gave them to him. "Cecile."

"Cecile?" I repeated in wonder.

Why Cecile? And why did that name sound familiar? I closed my eyes, trying to let my memory work it out on its own. In front of me, I saw a blonde girl, with soft, wavy hair, wearing a small pink bow at the back of her head and wearing a French looking, pink outfit to match. I remembered my first real Valentine's Day back in fourth grade with this girl, whom I had thought was my pen pal Cecile from France. Until the real Cecile had popped out of nowhere, and this mystery girl only left me with a very fond memory of her.

I gasped as the truth hit my like an anvil on my head. Helga was Cecile? No way! But… wait, she did kinda look like her. Except, I didn't recognize her with that fake, French accent and her hair down like that. She also didn't spit venom at my face at all through the night. If she had done that, I would've figured it out immediately. Why would she have pretended to be Cecile?

I started holding my head with my hand, which Jino noticed. "This name telling you anything?" he asked curiously.

"Yeah… I just don't know what. Never mind, I'll just have to confront her."

"Confront her? Dude, you can't start a scene here in this club, they'll kick your ass."

"N—No, I'll… I'll just talk with her. Is there any way I can talk with her in private?"

"Well… you can request a lap dance from her in one of the private rooms, but it'll cost you 400 dollars."

"400 dollars?!" I repeated and then heard myself groan. "Isn't there another way?"

"Nope, not unless you'd wait for her 'till 2am, when she's off the clock."

"No way. I want to talk with her as quickly as possible. Thank God my parents spoil me…" I muttered to myself, remembering how much my parents wanted to spoil me, ever since I found them in San Lorenzo at the age of 11 years. Ever since then, they practically threw expensive stuff at me. I was thankful, but it wasn't until now that I felt really thankful.

"Well, you can also watch her dance on the main stage in fifteen minutes, you know. Though, of course you can't talk to her while she dances." Jino pointed out.

"Main stage?" I repeated and looked through the room. There was one big stage, bigger than the rest of the small stages around, in the middle of the room with three poles connecting the floor to the ceiling.

"… Is there any way I can get closer?" I asked.

Jino smiled. "You're gonna have to talk to one of the bouncers to do that, but that'll cost you too." I shook my head in relinquishment and went towards a bouncer. "Hey, kid!" Jino called after me. I turned around. "I don't know exactly what you're trying to do even though I do have a clue, but… good luck. Cecile deserves something better than this." He answered with an earnest smile. I smiled back at him and nodded, before I turned towards the bouncer again.

I felt much more cheered up after hearing someone who knew this Helga saying she deserved better. It meant she at least had one proper friend around here. It didn't take me too long before the bouncer escorted me to one of the front seats around the main stage after I showed him a decent amount of cash. Sorry, mom. Sorry, dad, but if you knew it was for a good cause, then I know you wouldn't mind.

I kept sneaking my phone out of my pocket to look at the time. Only a few more minutes until it was time for Cecile's solo dance. I was nervous, without really knowing the reason why. I was nervous about a lot of things, I guess.

The girl currently up on stage was wearing only a red thong and red stilettos by now. She was smirking all the way through, as she twerked against the pole. I tried not to frown, but it was hard. I had never understood this whole twerking thing. To me, it made girls' backsides look like jelly during an earthquake. Now hips though… that was very different.

I couldn't help but remember our last graduation party at our junior year. That was the only time Helga would actually join in on parties. It was also the first time, she joined in on the drinking. Usually, she'd stay the hell away from stuff like that, like I personally also usually did, except on special occasions. I remember seeing her dancing with Phoebe to the famous song Hips Don't Lie by Shakira. Seeing her dance exactly like Shakira did in the music video had made my blood boil in an extremely comfortable way, and it also made me realize that I wasn't just in love with her, I also lusted for her. Not that it was something surprising, but it was the first time I had felt it. As the image of her slowly rocking her hips ran across my mind, I smiled. Yeah, that was definitely sexier.

"All right, gentlemen, let's hear it for Cat. Meow!" Jino announced over the speaker, while Cat strutted out in a cat like pose. "Now, prepare yourself for the benchmark of beauty, the goddess of glamour, idol of sexuality: Cecile!"

I quickly sat up in my seat, doing my best to look past the pole almost right in front me. The red, slightly pinkish curtains were pulled aside and some smoke started to spread around the stage. I could see a slim, black figure standing at the back of the stage, one arm in the air and the other place in front of her thigh.

A new song started, one I hadn't heard before. Many days later I'd find out, it was called Man In The Box by a band called "Alice in Chains". It was a rock song with a somehow slow beat to it. I didn't understand half of the lyrics, but I was also occupied with something else entirely.

The white spotlight came on and my eyes went wide. There she was: Helga as Cecile, standing with a sensual smirk on her lips and slowly moved her hands to her hips. She was dressed in something that looked like a long-sleeved, thin leather jacket, which had several strings in-between her breasts. Without them, the coat wouldn't be able to hide anything on her. The black coat was tight around her waistline, but then spread out down to the beginning of her thighs, not at all covering the pink panties. She was also wearing matching very high-heeled boots and her big, blonde hair was tied up in a wavy ponytail.

Helga started strutting down the stage, holding her hips in her hands and definitely making sure not to look at the men hollering at her. She was smiling, but I could see in her eyes that this wasn't the place she wanted to be. She stopped in front of the pole right in front of me. She grabbed it with her right arm, swung her left leg high up in the air, and then twisted herself around, so that she was now in a horizontal position, facing me with her head down. She put her foot back to the floor and started stretching her ankles, making her stomach and hips sway up and down.

I noticed Helga's eyes were closed and she therefore didn't notice me, despite having her face right in front of me. While keeping her right hand around the pole, she used her left hand to rub up and down on her throat and in-between her breasts. At some point through this, Helga decided to open her eyes. They looked dazed, almost hollow, but went wide when she saw me.

"Arnold!" she yelped, loud enough for me to hear, before accidentally letting go off the pole, falling down on her back.

Some men around her gasped, others started booing, I only stared at Helga in pure shock. Our eyes didn't leave each other's, and she looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Then, out of nowhere, she seemed to come to her sense, because she narrowed her eyes at me for a second, before she pulled her knees far up to her shoulders and then swung herself rapidly up, landing impressively on her feet. The men started hollering again, when Helga grabbed the pole, snuck her leg up on it and started twirling around it. Her movements were much more aggressive than before, and whenever I caught her eyes, I could see anger in them, perhaps even shame. It was as if she was using this performance to take out her frustrations. Like a boxer would use punching bag to do the same.

Helga lifted her other leg up, using her hands to hold herself up from the floor. She swung herself around the pole, both her legs lifted high up into the air, and the annoying thing was that she made it look so easy. She slowly put her legs down again and swayed her ass in my direction. She started to bend her legs to move her ass up and down, hitting it on her heels while matching the beat perfectly. I couldn't see Helga's face, but when she turned around again, her back against the pole, I could see the hollowness in her eyes. Yes, I had been right: She was ashamed that I was seeing her like this. I just kept looking at her, not showing any emotions as I did so.

Helga put her hands to her thighs, using the pole as leverage, while she swayed her hips until she was crouching with her legs spread in front of me. I don't know if any of the other men noticed that she was looking at me and only me, but they hollered at her nevertheless. She then put her hands down to the floor, putting all her weight down on them, while snaking her legs up high into the air. Some boys whistled, and I for once, had to show how impressed I was with that move. I knew she was strong, but not to this extend.

Using only the strength of her legs, Helga hoisted herself up far enough to grab the pole behind her. When she had a firm enough grip, she let go off the pole with her legs, stretching them out and then pulling them up again to snake them around the pool, thereby climbing all the way up to the ceiling. I felt like screaming at Helga to make her get down on the ground again. I was beyond any means scared for her life, seeing her all the way up there. She then snuck one of her hands below her bum, spread her legs on each side of the pole and arched her back, earning whistles from the men around us. I still felt like standing up to grab Helga if anything went wrong, but then she bend the leg above her to twist it securely around the pole and then swung down rapidly towards the floor. My eyes went wide, almost on the verge of holding out my hands to catch her, but then she stopped midway. She lifted her head, looked at me and smirked.

What was that all about? Was she doing this to tease me? It definitely felt like it, but she was supposed to have a certain routine, wasn't she? Not that I'd know. Nevertheless, I stood up at that point to get away from the main stage. I don't know how Helga felt about me leaving, but I simply went straight to the bar anyhow. The bartender, George, noticed me instantly, since there wasn't a lot of angry men around him.

"That girl your girlfriend or something?" he asked.

I shook my head, starting to grit my teeth. "I want a private dance with her. How do I get that?"

George's eyes went a little wide. "That's gonna cost you about—"

"400 dollars, yeah, I know. How do I get that?"

"You sure you wouldn't rather wait 'till—"

"She's off the clock at 2am? No, I don't think so. How do I get that?" I repeated, slowly growing impatient.

George saw that immediately and sighed. "You'll go talk to the bouncer, tell him you want the girl who's currently on the main stage. He'll ask you for the money, send you to the room and she'll come meet you when she's done dancing and he's told her to meet you."

About half an hour later, I had been sitting in that private room, waiting for Helga to come. I had observed the room for quite some time, but still didn't know what to think of it. It was red, pink, fluffy and smelled like cheap perfume. The couch I was sitting on was soft. Way too soft, and in front of me was a very small stage with a pole on it. I looked around and noticed a couple of mahogany chairs around me, probably used for a more hands-on lap dance.

I couldn't help but wonder if Helga had done this before. One thing was the public stripping, where I'm not even sure whether she removed her clothes or not, something else was this whole private thing. In this room, I had been told I was allowed to touch her. Only certain areas though, her breasts and her butt cheeks. When the bouncer had mentioned that I couldn't touch the vaginal area, I had a hard time not cringing. That should be a given! It was at least something I knew she hadn't done then.

I sighed a bit, starting to feel a little impatient, when I noticed a new melody beginning. There was a private stereo in this room, which had been quiet until now. I didn't know how or from where, but this song I knew. After Dark by Tito & Tarantula.

I could see the curtain behind the small stage in front of me and saw a familiar, cream-colored leg appear. This song was slow, sensual and so was Helga as she appeared. My eyes went wide at the look of her. Helga was dressed differently now: Her hair long, curly and cascading down her shoulders and in front of her chest. She was wearing a dark red corset with black strings sewn into it, a pair of matching red panties, some black stilettos, and a black choker was around her neck. There was something oddly sensual about this outfit. Much more than the one she was wearing earlier. Maybe it was because of the hair? She looked beautiful with it down and it made me realize even more that this Cecile was my Cecile.

"What the hell are you doing here, Football Head?" Helga asked in an angry tone of voice, contrary to her slow and sensual hips, which were moving around in a steady pace.

"Why do boys usually go to strip clubs?" I asked, not showing any emotion on my face.

"Oh, please." Helga answered, strutted towards the stage, stood up on it, grabbed the pole and bend backwards. "I've known you since preschool. You of all boys in the world wouldn't be caught dead in here. Unless, of course, this is part of your psychology lessons? Is this your attempt at understanding girls who do this?"

"I've known you since preschool too, and I would've said the same thing about you… until now that is."

"Fair enough." She stated and pulled herself up again. She started grinding slowly up against the pole, making heat rise in my abdomen.

"H—Helga, I didn't ask you in here to see you do this. I want to talk, so… could you not do that?" I asked, contrary to how pleasing the sight was.

"Sorry to burst your bubble, Arnoldo," Helga said, as she snuck her leg around the pole and leaned back with her arms hanging lazily down from her head. "but there's a security camera in here, and if the bouncers notice me stopping dancing, they'll get suspicious, you'll get kicked out and I will be fired."

"Fine with me, then at least you'd get out of this hell hole." I answered her.

Helga cocked an eyebrow at me, as she walked around the pole, swaying her hips. "What salty language coming from you. Who says I want to get fired?"

"I can see it in your eyes. You don't like doing this, so why are you?" I asked her.

I was about to cross my arms over my chest, but then remembered the security camera and decided to put them behind my head instead, pretending to be very comfortable with looking at her. All right, pretending might have been the wrong word. Now that Helga and I were alone, then I didn't truly mind what she was doing, which currently was to grind against the pole again.

"It's very simple, paste for brains," she said, walked down from the stage and put her hands on the armrests of my chair. "I need the money."

Despite Helga's face being the center of my attention, I could see her hips swaying, while she was bended frontwards before me. "You need the money for what? Your dad is loaded." I pointed out.

"Yeah, my dad is loaded. I'm not." She answered and turned her back at me.

Helga spread her legs a bit, while she kept swaying her hips and then slowly bend forwards to the pole. She grabbed it to keep her steady and she slowly shook her hips at me. "You out of everyone should know that my relationship with my parents are worth shit. The other day Bob told me: 'You're turning 18 soon, start acting like at and earn some money to get out of here.' Since no other job would provide me enough money for a proper apartment near school, I chose this one."

I was in shock. I knew Big Bob Pataki could be a cruel man, but throwing his own daughter out on the streets? It was downright horrible! "I… I had no idea, Helga." I said apologetically.

"Of course, you didn't. I didn't want you to know, I didn't want anyone to know, you stupid jerk." She answered back in a seething voice. Again, contrary to her enchanting moves. "But now that you do know, then are you gonna make me your charity case again?" Helga asked and went up on the stage again. Her steps seemed to become more aggressive again.

"What?" I asked in pure shock. "Charity case?"

"Yeah, your charity case, you big goof." Helga answered, grabbed the pole and swung around it in a pipette turn. "You've always been the good Samaritan, always helping everyone, always looking on the Brightside. That's no surprise, but what's always bumped me, is that you've continuously seemed extra gung-ho went it came to me. So, tell me, my knight in shining armor," she said, put her hands to the floor and swung her legs up to the pole, twirling her ankles around it, so that she was standing on her hands with her face towards me. "how are you gonna help me out of this predicament?"

My eyes were wide. I had been called a buttinski my whole life, been told that I meddle in other people's businesses, but they had always wanted my help anyhow since I was good at giving advice. Helga on the other hand had always disowned my help. Most of the time that was. There were a few times in the past, where she accepted my help reluctantly. This time was different. I could see the doubt in her eyes. She wanted my help, but she couldn't see how she could possibly get out of this. When I hesitated with my answer, she sighed and used her ankles to pull herself up to the pole. I already knew how much I was willing to give and do for this girl to get her out of this life. To make her feel secure, to be secure, to feel loved and cared for, which she didn't experienced a lot. I knew what I wanted to offer her, but I also knew she would be hesitant to accept it.

"I want you to move into the boarding house." I said as indifferently as I possibly could, even though I was shaking to the very core of my body.

Helga had just snaked her legs around the pole, as if she was sitting Indian style around it. She looked at me in shock as she let herself slide down, still in that position and holding the pole in her hands.

It felt like forever before she simply shook her head in obvious disapproval at my offer. "And then what? I can't afford to live in the boarding house. Not yet, at least." She answered, gripped the pole high above her head, arched her back and pulled herself up.

It was hard to think with Helga constantly moving like that, but I did my very best. "You won't need to pay. I'm… I'm offering you to move in." I corrected.

"Oh?" she mumbled, twisted her leg around the pole, grabbed the ankle of it and twirled around. "And what would that mean exactly?"

"We'd be roommates. You know, officially. In reality, you could live in that extra room we have. There's a bed, closet, all that."

"What do you mean we'd be officially roommates?"

"On the paper, I'd say we live together, but that doesn't mean we have to actually live together. That way you can live at the boarding house without paying." I explained, though I sort of hoped she'd rather live in my room with me.

Helga stopped twirling instantly and scowled at me. "You listen up, bucko, and you listen good; I am not a fragile, little girl, I am not a princess who needs to be rescued, and I'm not some poor slut living on the streets who wants your alms!"

"This is not alms! It's—" My rather angry voice was interrupted by the curtain being pulled aside, a bouncer standing there holding it.

"This guy giving you problems, Cecile?" he asked. Helga looked pensively at me for a second, but then shook her head. "In that case, can I talk to you?" he asked and pulled the curtain more to the side.

Helga turned to look at me with a seductive smirk. "I'll see you later, tiger." She said, winked at me and strutted out. I figured it was part of the act in front of the bouncer, but I still felt my insides crumble at the words.

I did my best to listen to their conversation, and I did catch some of it. I heard him talking about that this was her first private dance, but she needed to step it up, that I looked bored and something about only having fifteen minutes left. 'Her first private dance' was what caught my attention the most. Helga walked back through the curtains, obviously eyeing something in the corner. She was trying to tell me something by doing so. Knowing her for so many years, I had caught on to her little tricks. I made sure to move my eyes only to look in the same direction as her. A small, black ball hung in the corner and I figured that was the camera.

"I was told to step it up already, so I'm gonna have to get more hands-on with you." Helga warned me and strutted slowly towards me, swaying her hips. My eyes went a little wide. More hands-on? So… the private dance was turning into a lap dance?

"Uh… i—if that's the only way we can stay in here and talk, then… go for it." I answered lamely, almost wanting smack myself on the forehead for that kind of answer. Helga snickered for a second, moving her hands above her head, twirling her hips around in circles, using her foot to step herself around in a loop too.

"You think you can endure it?" Helga asked, stopped when she had her back turned to me and then bend forward.

I gulped a bit and shook my head. "No, uh, I can endure. That's fine." I answered, knowing far too well how shaken I must have sounded it, because when she turned around to face me, she smirked gleefully.

"Then let's change seats." Helga suggested and held her hand out to me.

"Change seats? Why?" I asked as I took her hand. She didn't answer at first, but simply escorted me to one of those mahogany chairs I had noticed earlier and sat me down roughly.

"Because, genius," she answered and put her hands on my shoulders. "this way your back will be turned to the camera and he won't see your scared face, while I give you your first lap dance."

My eyes went a little wide, while Helga kept one of her hands on me as she walked around the chair. I could feel her cool hand touch my throat and my neck, and I sighed a little in pleasure without noticing.

"Well, someone's not having such a bad time after all. If you still feel a little scared, then I can comfort you by telling you that I won't take off any more than this." Helga said, as she started pulling at one of the strings on her corset. My eyes went bulge-eyed and one part of me wanted to stop her, while the other one wanted her to take it off quicker. The latter one won.

I watched intensely as Helga slowly pulled off the corset, revealing… nothing. The part of the corset, which had been a bra, was not part of the corset at all. It was regular bra, somewhat hidden behind the corset. I snickered a bit, knowing Helga had yanked my chain yet again. I could hear an adorable giggle come from her pink mouth, as she straddled me, leaning her forehead down to my shoulder. When I felt her sit on my lap, my laughter stopped immediately.

"You mustn't make me laugh now, Arnoldo, they'll be suspicious." She whispered and started to roll on my lap. I involuntarily gasped into Helga's ear at the intense feeling, which I hadn't felt before. She stopped moving. "Uh, did I… hurt you?" she asked. I slowly shook my head, and she started grinding on me again. I felt the urge to gasp again, but I forced it to stay in, though it turned into a moan instead.

Helga put her hands on my shoulders again and leaned back, stopping the rolling. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?" she asked with a gleeful smile. I wasn't sure why she seemed so happy about that; If it was because of the ego boost it gave her or whatever, nevertheless I nodded and turned my face away in shame. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her gleeful smile turn into one of true happiness.

"B—By the way… I read that this was supposed to be a fully nude club… How come you're allowed to keep underwear on?" I asked, desperate to get the attention away from my growing member.

"Well, it's very simple, Football Head," Helga said and snaked her arms behind my neck. "the better the dancer, the less she's asked to take off."

"Huh?" I muttered and frowned in confusion.

"I made sure to be good enough to not have to take more than this off. I have my limits, you know. As you said yourself: I'm not the kinda girl who'd usually do this, so I made sure to be the best dancer around."

I couldn't help but smile at that. I already knew that Helga wouldn't be willing to take off her clothes in front of strange men like that, but having it confirmed was relieving. "Does anyone around here know your real name?" I asked, trying to have another suspicion of mine confirmed.

Helga stopped rolling on my lap, and I noticed her eyes going a little wide. It seemed like she hadn't realized that I knew of her stage name or whatever they'd call it. "No. Of course not. I don't have a contract, so they don't know my real name." she answered and seemed to start the rolling again, but more roughly.

I gasped a bit, but kept it back, knowing far too well, why she suddenly cared so much about my pleasure – She wanted to distract me. "I have to know… Why Cecile?" I asked and dared to look into her eyes. She kept on rolling, but I could see the discomfort in her eyes. I smirked. She had already busted herself. She looked away from me.

"Why not Cecile? It's pretty."

"Yes, it's pretty. It's also the name of my French pen pal back in fourth grade."

"Oh, what an odd coincidence."

"As if you didn't already know."

"Now, how would I know that?"

"… Because you once pretended to be Cecile on Valentine's Day." I answered on Helga's behalf. She didn't seem to have any intention of admitting it though.

"Listen up, Football Head," she said, stood up, turned around and sat on me with her back leaned against chest. "I chose the name Cecile because it's prettier than Helga."

I couldn't help but put my hands on Helga's thighs, as she continued that rolling movement on my lap.

"You're right, I knew your old pen pal's name was Cecile… wanna hear what I also know?" she asked, while she snuck her arms behind my neck, in a way luring me closer to her neck. "I know the name Cecile derived from the Roman clan name Caecilius, which is based on the Latin coccus meaning 'blind'… I simply like the name, nothing more to it."

"Now, that's ironic." I said with a husky voice into her ear.

I could hear Helga gasp a little. "Why is that?" she asked.

"You pretended to be blind when we were in fourth grade too, remember?"

"Yeah, I remember. I also remember that I actually did go blind."

"You did?"

"… For the first ten minutes." Helga added with only a little bit of shame in her voice.

"Helga!" I scolded with a happy voice.

I could hear Helga giggle and her giggling made her shake a little, which made me moan. She didn't talk again for the next couple of minutes, and I couldn't help myself but to let myself get lost in her dancing. Sometimes she was on my lap, sometimes she danced around me, in front of me. No matter what she did, I couldn't take my eyes off her. The air was getting thick with lust and if I didn't know any better, I'd say she felt the same.

Finally, I had the courage to ask Helga to move in with me again, when she was once again sitting on my lap with her breasts pressed against me. "Seriously, Helga… move into the boarding house." I begged her in a feathery voice.

I could hear Helga groan. "I thought we had settled this?" she asked in annoyance and pumped her lower abdomen against mine. I gasped and automatically grabbed her hips, as I had done countless times before through the last minutes.

I shook my head. "No. No, I came here tonight to get you out of this place, and I'm not leaving until you agree to come home with me."

"Oh, listen to yourself. 'Come home with me'? Tell me, Head Boy, what exactly is the catch? What do you gain from having me living with you? You still haven't answered my question." Helga said, put her hands on top of her thighs and bend far back, only having her ankles around mine holding her up. "Why do you want to help me so much?"

At that question I felt like something inside my heart exploded. It was now or never, and so I heard myself open my mouth to speak those words, I had longed to tell her for years, but never had the courage to actually say.

"Because I love you."

I felt Helga freeze beneath my hands. I took ahold of her hands and pulled her up slowly to face me. As I had expected, her eyes were wide, her pupils even dilated and her mouth was a little open in shock. I intertwined my fingers with hers, trying to sound as calm as possible, as I continued to speak.

"Helga, I've been in love with you, since we were 13 years old. I realized that when I saw you with my family. How happy and comfortable you looked around us. That sincere smile you gave me, when my mom complimented you. I knew at that moment, that I wanted you to always have wear smile. Hopefully mostly around me, since I'm way more possessive than I'd like to admit."

I chuckled a bit, trying to lighten the mood, but Helga was still just staring at me, not really reacting much to what I was saying.

"I know that you loved me once, because you told me, even if we did agree to take it back… I never quite told you, why I suggested it was in the heat of the moment, did I?" I asked her.

Helga slowly shook her head, making me smile, since it meant she was actually listening to me.

"I panicked, honestly. The girl who I had always thought hated me with every fiber in her being, turned out to be the girl who loved me the most, the girl who even went as far as risking everything just to help me save my home and my friends… It was such a shock, and then I looked at you, and I could see that you were panicking too, and that was when I decided that… none of us were ready for me to know about your feelings. Then years went by, while I still knew about your feelings for me, and then at some point I fell in love with you too. I'm not sure when, only when I realized it."

I could hear Helga's steady breath and could feel it against my lips. Her eyes weren't wide anymore, but almost half-lidded. I didn't know what to think of that look she gave me, I couldn't quite figure it out, and I knew I never would, because she wasn't the kind of girl you'd ever figure out. She'd be able to surprise me for the rest of my life, and that was one of the things I loved about her.

"Because of all that, I want you to move into the boarding house. I'm not only saying that, because I want you to be safe, though that is definitely my biggest priority… I'm also saying it, because I… I, uh…" I felt a tingling sensation in my stomach and felt my cheeks heat up a little. I suddenly felt shy, even after everything I had already said.

"What?" Helga asked in a small, shy and fragile voice. I looked up at her and looked into her hopeful and pleading eyes. They gave me the courage to continue talking.

"I want to… t—to be with you, you know… and I hope that… that even though I let you take those words back years ago, that… even though you took them back, then… it doesn't mean that you don't still mean them? I hope they're still true… and I hope that you… will give me another chance at giving you the happiness and love you deserve… if you still want me?"

Helga didn't answer, but just kept looking at me. I could see her beautiful, blue eyes start to sparkle with tears. As soon as she closed her eyes, a single tear from her right eye trickled down her cheek. I smiled at that, put my hand on her neck and pulled her a little closer to me. I didn't know if her happiness came from knowing that she was indeed loved, even by people who weren't obligated to love her, or if she still – through all these years – still loved me. I didn't know, and I didn't care: All I cared about was feeling her arms wrap around my waist, holding onto me for dear life as I heard her giggle and cry in my ear at the same time.

"Cecile." a gentle, yet very deep voice interrupted.

Helga turned her neck around to look at the source of the voice, while I leaned to the side to do the same. Another bouncer – different from before – was standing with the curtain in his hand, looking at us.

"What's going on? You've been sitting awfully still for some minutes."

Helga didn't answer and didn't look at neither of us. "Please, Helga…" I whispered into her ears. She turned her head a little more towards me, but still didn't quite look at me. "You don't have to love me to accept my help."

That made Helga look at me though, her eyes still brimming with tears. She gave a small smile to me, removed a lock of my hair from my face and sighed a bit. She then removed herself from me and walked over to the bouncer. My heart was beating 1.000 miles a minute, while I waited for her to do or say whatever she was planning.

"I quit."

My eyes went wide and so did my smile. I sighed in relief and even held a hand to my heart, afraid that my heart would escape from my ribcage at beating so fast. The bouncer quirked an eyebrow at Helga.

"You quit? Just like that?" he asked. She nodded and walked past him out of the room.

That action confused me and I stood up. "Hel—Uh, Cecile!" I called after her and was about to run after her, until the bouncer stood in front of the curtain and blocked my path.

"She's just changing, boy, she'll be back in a couple of minutes." He explained.

I tried straightening my back to feel bigger, but this bouncer was still a head taller than me. "So… there's not gonna be any problems with her quitting?" I asked.

The bouncer smiled and shook his head. "Since you convinced her to quit, then you probably know her well enough to know that she's not legally old enough to work here. We let her audition anyhow, since she's a good dancer, but that also means she doesn't have a contract and isn't bound to this place. She's free to go."

I gave a big, thankful smile and nodded in understanding. The bouncer smiled at me and clapped my shoulder.

"Thank you for saving her." He said.

I looked at him in surprise. "Uh… excuse me?"

"I remember when Cecile first got here. She was desperate for the money and was a great dancer. Strong legs and arms, beautiful features, so they hired her. I, on the other hand, didn't want her to work here. First of all, she was too young. Second of all, she seemed damaged. In true need of someone to stop her. She never really admitted it, but I knew there was someone she cared about. I'm glad that boy cares for her too." He explained and winked at me.

I felt my cheeks reddening and couldn't help but chuckle a little goofily. "So… you think she's still capable of loving me? Even if it took me forever to tell her those words myself?" I asked.

He shrugged. "As I said, she never confirmed my suspicions… but I'd say a pretty valid guess would be yes." He answered. We smiled at each other for a moment, before he lifted the curtain for me. "You wait for her outside. I'll make sure she makes it out without anyone noticing." He promised.

"Thank you." I answered and walked outside.

I only waited for a few minutes, before I heard Helga say my name behind me. I turned around and saw her there, still with her legs bare, but her whole body covered in a long, black coat. I shook my head at the naked legs.

"You'll catch a cold like that." I said and pulled my scarf away from my neck. I had expected her to fight against me, when I started to wrap it around her neck, but she just gave a dazed smile and let me do as I wished.

"You really are a worrywart, aren't you?" Helga asked with a crooked smile and walked a little closer to me.

I shrugged. "At least when it comes to you." I answered sincerely.

Helga gave me a big, almost shy smile in return. She kept looking me in the eyes and I could feel something coming, whatever that might have been. At least until I saw a little white something land on the tip of Helga's nose. She went cockeyed while she looked at it, but then just shook her head to make it fall off. She wriggled her nose a little, making her look like a baby rabbit, so I giggled a bit.

It was now my turn to feel something white and cold land on my cheek. I lifted my hand to wipe it away and when I did and tried to look at it, it disappeared. I could see Helga lift her head out of the corner of my eye. I did the same thing and we looked up at the sky in wonder.

"It's snowing!" Helga exclaimed cheerfully.

My smile was wide, until I let my head down again and saw Helga's almost childish happiness, as she looked at the snowflakes. My cheerful smiled turned into one of pure bliss.

"I think the snow is like the sky throwing confetti at you to congratulate you." I observed. She started giggling and nodded her head in agreement. "So… what have you decided to do? I mean, you've quit your job, so you must have some sort of plan?" I asked Helga. She looked at me for a second, before she started smiling at the ground, which was slowly turning white from the snow.

"Well… since you seem so goddamn stubborn about me moving in with you, I guess I'll have to comply." She answered and looked at me again.

Seeing Helga with such a happy smile, her blonde, curly hair slowly getting filled with snowflakes, I felt the urge to say those words again. "I love you." I told her with a smile, and knew far too well, that it wouldn't be the last time I'd tell her that.

Helga's smile turned wider, and she nodded. "I know… and I love you too, Arnold." She whispered, but I heard it nevertheless.

My smile went wider, hearing her say my name with that voice. She didn't say my name very often. At least not unless I surprised her. I liked the nicknames she gave me, but hearing her same my name with so much love, made me walk closer to her.

"Since it's Christmas and everything… could we pretend for a second that we're standing under a mistletoe?" I asked.

Helga giggled and shook her head in disbelief. "You don't need an excuse to kiss me." She answered, and that was enough for me.

I snaked my arms around her waist, as she snaked her arms over my shoulders and around my neck. We smiled at each other one last time, before we let our lips meet for the first out of the many times they would meet through the rest of our lives.

The end.