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Arnold: This is a long story. 21 chapters.

Helga: Let's dig in.


Helga's POV:

"Yeah yeah, I'll be there in a bit Phoebs… I just have something I need to do first." I forcefully shut my phone and put it back in my jeans pocket. Off in the distance towards the western sky, the sun was falling behind a curtain of darkness and the moon was slowly replacing it. Even though the harsh rays of the summer sun were dimming the blistering heat still remained, causing small beads of sweat to form on my brow. A few blocks later I found myself ringing an all too familiar doorbell and waiting nervously on the stoop.


Arnold: I didn't know Helga had a stoop. I thought that was just Stoop Kid.


Just as I was about to give up and continue on my way, the doorknob turned slightly to the right and the door slowly opened followed by a stampede of cats, dogs… and a familiar little pink pig.


Phoebe: Yes, why DOES that happen?

Arnold: No clue.


An elderly man stood in the doorway and gave me an awkward stare before cracking into a smile.

"Well if it isn't Arnolds little friend!" he mused. "Shortman was trying to get in touch with you. Where'd ya run off to?"

"Is he here or what?" I asked a little more harshly than I intended. I softened my expression a little "it's kind of important"

"He won't be home until later. Ya see, Shortman got himself-"

"Fabulous" I cut him off. "Just don't tell him I came by… I gotta go." I stomped away angrily.

I got my phone back out from my pocket and dialed Phoebe's number. On the third ring she answered "Are you here yet?" she practically whispered.

"Hmm… lets take a survey on that Phoebs. DOES IT LOOK LIKE I'M THERE!"

"Sorry" she squeaked. "Are you still on your way?"

I glanced up at a street sign before making a right at the corner. "Yeah… five minutes. See you in a few" I let out dramatically loud sigh of frustration, kicking a small pebble that lay in front of me. "Stupid football head" I grumbled. A string of incoherent obscenities continued to flow from my mouth as I walked with my head down, I nearly missed the house I was looking for. With another loud sigh I rang the doorbell. A tall raven haired girl answered the door with a bemused expression shadowing her face.

"…..Helga?" she gave me a once over before meeting my eyes again "You aren't the pizza boy" she shook her head a few times before it hit her. "Which means you're back!" she flung her arms around me before squeezing my midsection in a tight hug.

"You got that right princess" I smirked.

"Did you bring your stuff? Come inside! The girls are all here." Rhonda grabbed my arm and dragged me through the door. "Girls! I have a surprise!" she clapped her hands rhythmically before pulling me in to the living room with the rest of the girls.

"HELGA!" everyone except Phoebe had the same confused expression that Rhonda had just moments ago.

Before I could even blink Sheena, Nadine, Phoebe, Lila and Rhonda had me in a tightly knit group hug.

Ugh…

"Okay! ALRIGHT!" I pushed them back. "You act like I'm back from the dead" I sat down on the plush leather couch, quickly joined by the others who had gathered around me like I was the savior himself. "Why are you all looking at me like that?" I was suddenly feeling uneasy.

"Do you blame us for being a little intrigued by your presence?" Rhonda sat on the arm of the couch. "You disappeared for a whole summer!"

"We're ever so happy to see you" Lila gushed. "You've missed out on several of our oh so charming sleepovers"

"You simply must tell us about your summer!" Rhonda's arms flailed around dramatically.

"If we're here to have a sleepover, then lets just stick with sleepover activities." I grabbed my bag and headed for the bathroom. "Sleepovers normally don't focus on my summer vacation. Capiche?" I raised an eyebrow.

"Oh come on Helga!" Nadine grabbed my bag and tossed it on the floor. "You know were going to get it out of you one way or another" the other girls nodded in agreement.

"There's nothing to tell, really" I shrugged. "I went to California." I sat back on the couch and propped my feet up on the coffee table. "You know, the trip that Principal Reed talked about last spring?" I snuck that in before the girls could make any assumptions.

"The west coast college campus tour" Phoebe supplied. "It was only offered for future Juniors and Seniors." the girls did a collective 'ohhhh'.

"So why didn't you just tell us?" Sheena sat down next to Lila and began undoing her braids.

"Yeah.. Why the secrecy?" Rhonda frowned.

I tugged on the end of one of my pigtails before shrugging nonchalantly. "Because he went on the trip too.." all movement ceased in the room as everyone hung on my last words.

"You mean-"

"Yep" I bit my lip and nodded. I had gone on the trip with my boyfriend of nearly six months.

"Wow." Rhonda was actually left speechless.


Lila: I would just like to point out here that our principal's name is Mr. Wartz, not Mr. Reed.

Arnold: Maybe this takes place in the future when we're all in high school.

Gerald: Could be.


"That must have been ever so romantic!" Lila tilted her head as Sheena continued to braid her locks.

"I didn't know you two were that serious" Nadine still seemed bewildered.

"We just looked at college campuses.. Its not like we got hitched! Crimeny." I stood up. "I need to use the can" I announced. "Try and act a little less surprised when I get back" and with that, I walked towards the bathroom. When they thought I was far enough away, the whispers began..

"I just can't believe it!" Rhonda gasped. "I mean, I'm still getting used to them actually BEING together.."

"They make an ever so cute couple!" Lila defended.

"But really… Wolfgang and HELGA? It makes no sense!"


Arnold: Darn right it doesn't. Really. Him over ME?


I shook my head a laughed before closing the bathroom door behind me. I couldn't agree more with Rhonda… How DID I end up with someone like Wolfgang?

I guess it all started last Halloween..

  • Flashback*

"What do you think Helga?" Phoebe emerged from her bathroom in her costume.

"Well Phoebs, I will say you make one heck of a devil" I adjusted the halo on top of my head. "Gerald is gonna flip his lid!" Phoebe suddenly blushed a bright crimson. "Guys are totally into that whole 'good girl gone bad' thing." I tossed an arm over her shoulders. "Now you need the attitude to back it up. Satan doesn't have manners mind you."

"That goes both ways" she smirked. "Angels don't shove people into trashcans or threaten to shove their limbs up certain… places"

"No sweat Phoebs. I radiate sweetness!" we both paused before busting out in a fit of laughter. I glanced down at my watch and noticed that we were almost twenty minutes late. "Oh crap! We better get going… Arnold and Gerald are probably wondering where we are" Phoebes mom dropped us off in front of Wolfgang's house just a few minutes after nine. A few of our fellow classmates sat on the steps and greeted us as we walked past them.

"There they are" Phoebe pointed towards the back of the living room and waved towards the teenage boys. Gerald was dressed as Jimi Hendrix, and Arnold was dressed as Indiana Jones. As they got closer Phoebes blush turned a deeper shade of red.

We pushed our way through the crowd of teenagers so we could meet them halfway. In the blink of an eye, I suddenly collided with someone else and I was knocked to the floor.

"Watch it!" I growled. I looked up to find Wolfgang looking down at me curiously.

"Uh.." he began to reach down to help me up, but Arnold suddenly knelt down next to me and offered his hand.

"Watch where you're going Wolfgang!" Arnold glared at him before grabbing my arm and pulling me up. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine football head… Crimeny." I brushed myself off and took one last look at Wolfgang.

"Whatever losers." he pushed Arnold out of his way.

"He's so rude" Arnold looked slightly irritated. "He shouldn't treat a girl like that."

"Are you talking about me or yourself?" I smirked.

"Ha ha." he deadpanned. "Come on.. I think Gerald and Phoebe ditched us" he grabbed my wrist and pulled me through the crowd.

"You know Arnold" I still trailed a few steps behind him as he pulled me upstairs "People are going to wonder what we're doing upstairs at a house party" he promptly froze and turned his head until his gaze met mine.

"Let them keep guessing." he grinned.

He knocked on several doors before pulling us inside a bedroom. He turned to face me, a grin still plastered on his face. "You ready for this?" he took a step closer and tipped his Indiana Jones hat off his head, revealing his small blue hat underneath.

"I think the question is… are YOU ready football head?" I unclipped the halo from my hair which cause several strands of hair to fall loosely around my face.

He dug inside his pocket and produced a small box which he handed to me. "Your call.." he smirked through half lidded eyes.

"How does…" I held the box up "Slapjack sound?"

"Oh Helga, you know I ALWAYS beat you at this game… will you ever learn?"

I hopped on to the bed and patted the spot across from me. "There's a first time for everything" I opened the box of cards. "Are you going to stand there all night or are we going to play cards?"

Without another word, he joined me on the other side of the bed, crossing his legs in front of him. I dealt the cards and we began flipping them frantically.

"How long do you think it'll take Gerald and Phoebe to find us?" I continued to flip my cards.

"Depends. OUCH" Arnold shook his freshly slapped hand before continuing to flip his cards. "We might find them in another closet." he glanced up at me.

"Ew. Don't remind me- OUCH!" I growled. Arnold let out a victorious 'HA!'

"Don't look at me Arnoldo! It distracts me!- OUCH" I flicked a card at his forehead.

"Face it Helga, I'm better at slapjack"

"You are such a bonehead" I yelped one final time as he slapped my hand out of the way, and won… again. Grrrr…

"How about I get us some snacks?" Arnold swung his legs over the side of the bed. "I don't recommend the punch though… Ludwig came in with a bottle of Jack.." he cringed.

"Lets stick with popcorn balls" I wiggled my eyebrows. "Or lets get crazy… CANDY CORN!"

"Whatever you say Helga" he opened the door. "I'm gonna see if I can find Phoebe and Gerald while I'm down there. Be back in five"

I laid back into the mattress and sighed. On the ceiling was a poster of a swimsuit model with a sultry look on her face. I grimaced slightly before turning on to my side. On the nightstand was a picture of Wolfgang and his parents at one of his football games.

"Who's room IS this?" I sat up and finally noticed all the trophies displayed on the shelves. I stood up and studied some of the trophies.. Most were from football and wrestling. He also had a framed newspaper article hung on the wall next to his football photo. The doorknob began rattling and a dim light began bleeding inside.

"What are you doing in my room!" Wolfgang stood in the doorway with a bucket in his hand. "Did that fall make you deaf? I said: What are you doing in my room!" he closed the door behind him and set the bucket near his windowsill.

"I was just admiring your handiwork" I pointed to the pictures and trophies.

"Yeah, well get out." he growled. "I need this room. If you and your little football headed boyfriend want to fool around, do it in a closet like normal people."

"Okay, first of all… ew. And secondly, Arnold isn't my boyfriend." I crossed my arms hastily in front my chest. "and third, what are you doing with that bucket?"

"If you must know" he smirked. "This window gives me perfect access to the backyard. And this bucket is full of water balloons.. Minus the water."

I stepped a little closer and peeked inside the bucket. "What'd you put in them?" I picked one up and studied it.

"Pickle juice" he shrugged.

"Sick!….. I love it." I held the balloon to my chest. "I want a piece of this" I gazed out the window at the partygoers in the backyard. "Are you doing them one at a time, or rapid fire?" I began counting the number of people outside "You'd need to throw at least a balloon every three and a half seconds in order to nail everyone."

"Why Helga, where have you been all my life?" he joked. "I guess I'll let you help me out… this one time." he set the bucket between us and grabbed several balloons. "On my count, we start throwing" both of us held our arms up and aimed. "three… two… ONE!" we both started rapidly throwing the balloons on the innocent bystander's below. After about a minute of continuous pelting, we ran out of balloons.

We both sat on the floor, laughing like hyenas. "That was epic!" I rolled on the floor. "I got Harold in the face!"

"You have good aim!" he lightly slugged my shoulder. "Why haven't we teamed up before?" our laughter died down and we sat side by side underneath the window.

"Maybe because you used to bully me and my friends?" I kicked my leg out. "You even gave me a black eye once"

"I did?" he rubbed his chin in deep thought. "Well, I've moved on from physical torment… the mental game is where its at!" he nudged me with his shoulder.

"Is that supposed to put me at ease?" I scoffed. "I'd rather not hang out with someone who's going to berate me at all opportunities."

"I wouldn't do that to you… you're way too cute for that." Wolfgang's eyes widened when he realized what he just said. Both of us looked away and coughed awkwardly.

"wow.." I broke the silence. "I never thought in a million years I would hear you say that to me." I suddenly felt extremely bold and glanced over at him. His whole face had practically turned into a tomato. I grabbed his arm and shook him slightly. "You okay?"

"Y-yeah…" chuckled nervously. "I better get back downstairs.." he hopped up and darted towards the door.

"Wait!" I grabbed his arm and forced him to face me. "Next time you need a partner in crime… call me up" I patted the back of his hand and smiled. "See ya Wolfgang.."

He smiled nervously and waved before hurrying back downstairs. I found myself leaning against the door and let out a breath that I hadn't realized I was holding. "Wow.." I smirked.

Not even a moment later, Arnold opened the door while balancing two plates of food in his left hand. "Hey! Sorry it took me so long. Lila caught me at the snack table and started telling me some joke about a cow…yeah, I dunno." he chuckled. "Helga, are you okay?" I sat on the edge of Wolfgang's bed with a dazed expression.

"Arnold…" I let out a long sigh "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

  • Present Day*

I stared at my reflection in the mirror and felt a small smile creep on my face. I may have never imagined dating Wolfgang, but it had been some of the best months of my life. We hadn't officially started dating until February twenty fifth… The day of our first kiss. When we went public with out relationship, many people thought it was some sort of early April Fools joke. Arnold was one of the first people to ask me if I was pulling some major prank. When he realized it was no joke, he seemed to distance himself from me. Wolfgang knew about my past with Arnold… heck, everyone including Arnold knew about it. It had been years since I had felt that way about him. For the longest time Wolfgang assumed my heart still belonged to Arnold, which wasn't the case at all.

"Helga?" Phoebes voice called on the other side of the door. "Rhonda wanted to get ice cream at Slausens. Are you coming?"

I opened the door and leaned against the doorframe. "I could go for some ice cream"

As the group of us walked towards our favorite hangout, the questions continued to fly in my direction. Most of them I avoided by shrugging or pretending I didn't hear the question.

"Did you get any of my messages about Arnold?" Phoebe whispered.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

"What about Arnold?" I seethed.

"He was trying to contact you all summer" her gaze fell towards the sidewalk.

"I don't know why.." I scoffed. "He was the one who avoided me for the greater part of last year."

"But you told him you were going to help him with youth baseball camp this summer and-"

"I never promised him anything Phoebs!" I snapped. The others stared in confusion.

"How about we take it down a few decimals?" Rhonda opened the doors to Slausens.

We all took a seat in a booth and looked through our menus. The other girls kept exchanging glances every few moments before looking back at me.

"Do I have something on my face or what?" I dropped my menu on the table. "Care to share the wealth Phoebs?"

Rhonda sent her a 'don't you dare' look.

"Well.." she pulled nervously on her collar. "You see… we chose to come here for two reasons." she chuckled nervously. "We've been coming to Slaussens all summer because we always get served by-"

"Hey girls!" a friendly voice filled the room as a set of legs appeared next to the table. "What can I get for you? It must be your sleepover day." his eyes traveled from his pad of paper until they met mine.

Both of our jaws dropped slightly.

"Arnold?"


Rhonda: Whoa. Didn't see THAT coming.


"Helga? What are you doing here?" he scratched the side of his head with his pencil.

"The last time I checked it was a free country football head. I can get ice cream if I want to"

His expression suddenly turned bitter. "Whatever you say Helga." he looked at the other girls and smiled. "What can I get for you guys?"

Everyone ordered and Arnold left the table. My focus immediately fell upon Rhonda and Phoebe. "So… thanks for dropping a dirty bomb on me."

"I'm sorry Helga." Phoebe patted my shoulder. "I didn't realize things were bitter between you two"

"YA THINK!" I growled. "and you, Benedict Rhonda.." I rolled my eyes. "I'm not even going to try and figure out your logic behind all of this."

"That's easy!" Nadine smirked. "She has a huge crush on Arno-"

"That's quite enough Nadine!" she covered her best friends mouth before chuckling nervously. "The girl is delusional!"


Helga: Ooh. Little Ms. Princess has the hots for a certain football head.

Rhonda: Shut up, Helga. You're clearly delusional.


"Listen princess." I leaned across the table. "I don't care if you like him… there's no need to hold back on account of me." Just as I sat back in my seat, Arnold arrived with our order. He gave each of the girls their ice cream and smiled. When he got to me his smile faded and he loudly set the ice cream in front of me with a thud.

"Thank you Arnold doll." Rhonda winked at him, tossing her long black hair over her shoulder.

"You're welcome." he nodded. "Is there anything else I can get you?"

"Actually.." I tugged on his sleeve. "You forgot my-"

"That's nice" Arnold shook my hand off of him before abruptly turning away.

"Oh my.." Lila covered her mouth. "I've never seen Arnold like that before… It's ever so unsettling."

"You must have really upset him" Sheena gave me sympathetic eyes.

Arnold went behind the counter and took off his apron and tossed it underneath the counter. "David, I'm taking my break!" He called into the back room.

I pushed my ice cream away from me and stood up "Yeah.. Uhh.. Enjoy your ice cream. I'll be back." And without hesitation, I followed Arnold out the back door.


Arnold: What a nice way to start such an epic tale of love and loss.

Helga: Yep. And who knows? Maybe this IS our future. I mean, your childhood crush doesn't necessarily HAVE to end up as your high school boyfriend or girlfriend.

Arnold: And I think me and Rhonda WOULD be an--INTERESTING couple.

Rhonda: Don't get any funny ideas, mister. That's just this author's canon. O_o



Arnold: Another part from the "Supernova" fic. Let's see if the awesomeness increases.


Arnold's POV:

  • Flashback*

I was switching my books in between classes. It was an every day occurrence between fifth and sixth period. Me and Gerald would meet by our lockers before going to biology together. For some reason, today felt different. Gerald was running a few minutes late which was nothing out of the normal… it was everyone else that seemed different.

"Hey Arnold." Rhonda leaned up against Geralds locker.

"Hey" I smiled. "What's up?" I closed my locker and turned the knob a few times.

"I just wanted to return your notes." she reached inside her history book and pulled out a few sheets of paper. "Thanks again"

"No problem…"

Just as I was about to walk away, Rhonda leaned in closer. "Have you…. Heard?"


Arnold: (imitating the version of him in this story) Heard what sweetie? ;)


"Heard…what?" I shrugged.


Arnold: Meh. I was part right.

Sid: XD


"About Helga! It's all over school Arnold… She-"


Arnold: (imitatinng this version of him) Huh? Oh I'm sorry Rhonda. I zoned out thinking about your beauty.

Rhonda: (doing the same) Mmhm. (giggles and lightly kisses Arnold's cheek)


"ARNOLD!" Gerald came running around the corner. "DUDE!" he panted. "Helga…. Oh man. You have to SEE this!"

"Wha-? OOF" Gerald grabbed my wrist and dragged me around the corner where the Juniors usually congregated. We stopped abruptly in the middle of the crowded hallway. "What the heck is going on Gerald? We're going to be late for bio."

"My man, this is something that can't be explained." he grabbed my chin and turned my head forward.

It took a moment to register in my mind what my eyes were actually seeing… Helga was leaning against a row of lockers which by itself wouldn't surprise me. It was her lips attached to Wolfgangs that caused my mind to explode.


Helga: Wow. I know I'm unintentionally a (beep), and Wolfgang's an (beep)hole, but wow. Right in FRONT of not only Football Head but the whole SCHOOL.


"mmm mmm mmmm." Gerald shook his head. "Something about that picture aint right."

The two broke apart and stared at each other with big cheesy grins. He leaned casually on the locker by her head, his other hand resting on her hip. The visual was overwhelming to everyone watching. People all around were whispering their confusion. I stood there awkwardly with my mouth hung open.

"Helga?" I finally managed to speak. "A-and… WOLFGANG?" a few people turned to look at me. Most were nods of agreement…

Helga glanced over in our direction and her smile faded. She whispered something into Wolfgangs ear and began walking over to us. "Hey hair boy… football head." she smirked. "what's with the faces?"

"Wolfgang?" I scratched the side of my head. "Really?" With my peripheral vision, I could see Wolfgang watching us. "Is this some sort of early April Fools day prank?" Helga looked over her shoulder and waved at Wolfgang. "Helga!" I grabbed her shoulders. "Is this like.. For real?"

"First of all" her expression hardened. "DON'T touch me… EVER!" she slapped my hands harshly off her shoulders. "And second… it's not a joke football head. I'm dating Wolfgang"

Most of the students had began to clear the area and went to class. The only people left in the hallway were me, Gerald, Helga and Wolfgang. "Arnold, we're late.." Gerald tugged on my sleeve. "Come on."

"See you at lunch?" I said low enough for Wolfgang to miss.

"Can't… I have plans with Wolfgang" she shrugged. "Later football head."

Without another word, she walked back over to Wolfgang and handed him her book bag. He slung it over his shoulder and wrapped his arm around her. I could have sworn I saw him give me a death glare before he went around the corner.

By lunch time, everyone was buzzing about Wolfgang and Helga. Several people asked Phoebe if she knew anything was going on between them. She admitted she knew they connected at his Halloween party last year, but hadn't began a relationship until recently. Many people still remained unconvinced that it was serious. Wolfgang wasn't known for his long term relationships…

"Hey football face" Wolfgang approached me while I was waiting for the bus.

"Yes Wolfgang?" I sighed. Somehow I knew this conversation wasn't going to end well.

"Look, I know all about Helgas former little obsession with you." he pointed a finger at me. "and Helga is different from other girls I've dated…. I actually like her."


Arnold: Or do you just want her to get in your pants? ;)


"What does this have to do with ME?"

"I'm trying to say, if you do ANYTHING to screw this up" he grabbed me by my collar and lifted me off my feet. "I'll make sure you don't live long enough to regret it."

He set me back on the ground and released me with a light shove. "I had no intention of screwing anything up Wolfgang." I adjusted my collar. "if Helga is happy, then I'm happy for her… Even if it's with you." I grimaced.

"Just stay out of my way. Got it?" he advanced on me once again, pushing me against the bus stop with his forearm. "I waited MONTHS for her…"

"OKAY. Geez.." I struggled to get a full breath. "I won't bother you."

"Or her." he pressed a little harder.

"But Helga is my friend!- OUCH.. Would you stop crushing me?" I finally managed to push him back. "Fine! I will 'stay away' from Helga…. Ugh" I gingerly rubbed my chest.

  • Present Day*

I slumped against the wall behind Slausens and took a few deep breaths. Running into Helga was something I would have to face eventually, I know… but actually seeing her was totally different than I had imagined.

"You didn't have to hide in the alley football head." Helga peeked her head out the back door before coming outside.

"Go eat your ice cream, Helga.." I muttered.

"Wow, something must have crawled up your butt and died. Here's a tip: cut the attitude." she walked over and kicked my shoe. "Can you at least LOOK at me when I'm yelling at you?" her tone became harsher.

"Why do you care if I talk to you?" I rolled my eyes. "You had no problem avoiding me all summer."

"I was in California you yutz."

"You really let the kids down at the community center." I stood up and dusted myself off. "I ended up having to ask Gerald to take your co-coaching position.."

"Listen, and listen good bucko." I took another step closer. "I didn't swear my soul to the community center. I chose my future over community service, SUE ME"

"Whatever helps you sleep at night Helga.." I scoffed. "But we both know this is about more than community service."

Her eyes darted around nervously. I let out a long sigh and studied her.. "where's your bow?" I reached up and brushed my fingers against the grey beanie placed on her head. The moment my hand touched her, her eyes became enraged. She glared down at me and promptly removed my hand.

"I'm a little too old now for my bow Arnold." she took a step back. "And it's none of your business anyway."

"Look Helga.. I don't like fighting like this. We're too old to be carrying on like we did in the fourth grade." at the mention of fourth grade, her shoulders tensed.


Lila: That is ever-so correct.

Helga: Can it, sister!


"I'm really sorry about this whole fight between us…Why don't we… start with a clean slate. Start from the beginning?" I extended my hand. "Deal?"

After a moment of hesitation, her hand grabbed mine. "Fine… but don't think I'm going to stop calling you 'football head'." she shook my hand softly. "and I'm… ugh…. sorry too." she sighed "for bailing on you this summer."

"Apology accepted." I released her hand "Well, that was simple" I chuckled. "Why wasn't it this easy when we were younger?"

"Because I was young, headstrong and extremely lovesick." she struggled to hold back her laughter.

I glanced down at my watch and groaned "Sorry to break up this reunion, but I have to get back to work"

"Why are you working here football head?" I grabbed the door and held it open for her as she went back inside.

"I want a car, and grandpa and grandma want me to earn it on my own so I can 'learn the value of hard work!'…" I gave my best impression of my grandpa. "and besides, I could use the extra cash.."

I peered over at the girls, whom had already finished their ice cream and were currently waiting on Helga. Rhonda was tapping her fingers impatiently against the table and checking her watch every few seconds.

"You better get back in there" I motioned towards the girls. "I think Rhonda is getting angina."

She glanced over towards Rhonda and snickered. "either that or she's having an aneurism." she jabbed my shoulder with her elbow "you must be digging all the attention from little miss princess." I could sense a hint of sarcasm.

"I wouldn't use the word 'enjoy' exactly." I chuckled. "more like… I'm flattered by the attention."

"That's exactly what you told me..." both of our smiles slowly faded. "Uh.. Anyway, see you later football head" before I could oppose, Helga had already went back into the main dining area and sat next to Phoebe.

I retied my apron around my waist and went back to their table. "Here's your check" I set a small piece of paper in the middle of the table. "Pay up front when you're ready. See you girls at school on Monday?"

"Of course." Rhonda wiggled her fingers in a small wave. "See you Monday.." I made eye contact with her just for a split second, and she used the opportunity to wink at me seductively..

This was going to be a long school year..

I had finished working around ten and had to call Gerald to give me a ride home. About halfway to my house Gerald waved his hand in my face.

"You okay Arnold? You're kinda spacing out.."

"I saw Helga tonight.. Rhonda and the girls came in for their slumber party ritual, and Helga was with them."

"Helga? You mean Helga Pataki? The girl who disappeared for a whole summer without so much as a phone call? The one who-"

"Yes Gerald. That Helga." I turned my attention to the buildings we were passing by "we talked a little bit.. And we decided to start fresh this year. No drama."

"My man, when it comes to you and Helga G. Pataki, there's no such thing as 'no drama'. That girl is the permanent thorn in your side."

"She's not so bad Gerald… you have to admit that she's toned down her 'bully' image over the years." we took another right turn and pulled up in front of the boarding house.

"A tiger doesn't change it's stripes just because it's dating the alpha male tiger, Arnold.." He put his car into park and crossed his arms. "When they break up, it'll be back to business as usual, and she'll be right back where she started."


Arnold: If that's the case, then we have to keep them together at all costs. And knowing Wolfgang's history with women, he NEEDS help.


"If you're implying what I think you're implying.." I took a moment to glare at him ".. you're one hundred percent off base."

"I'm just sayin'.." he held his arms up defensively. "She loved you passionately for what? Nine years? That sort of love doesn't just go away.."

I pushed the door open and put my feet out. "Look Gerald, I asked Helga a few years ago if she still felt that way, and she told me that she was honestly over me… and I believe her. It's not me and her that have a problem… it's all of you guys at school. You won't let it go when clearly SHE has."

"Have you let it go?" I knew exactly what he was asking, which kind of irritated me. I had dealt with so many people asking me if I returned Helgas feelings. It was Gerald who knew the specifics of what happened between me and Helga all those years ago, all the things that were exchanged…

"Good night Gerald." I stood up and closed the car door. I didn't have to answer Geralds question… He knew the answer already anyway.

"Hey Shortman!" Grandpa came down the stairs with a newspaper in his hand. "How was work?"

"Eh.."

"That bad?" he patted my head. "Just stick in there Arnold. You'll be glad you stuck it out when you have your own car." As I headed up the stairs, grandpa shouted "oh yeah, that girl with the one eyebrow came by here this afternoon looking for you."

"I caught up with her at Slaussens, but thanks grandpa." I went up to my room and locked the door behind me. I grabbed my remote and turned on the lights and flipped my couch out of the wall. I hung my legs over the side and laid down.

'have you let it go?' Geralds voice kept repeating in my head. For me, there were no romantic feelings to 'let go' of… things between me and Helga were always strained because of her inability to accept her own feelings and to express them. But according to Gerald, that was my problem too which I highly disagree with. I never woke up one day and said to myself: 'gee, I think I have the hots for Helga'. Though the rest of Hillwood High would do a collective 'I TOLD YOU SO!' if such a revelation were to happen, they're going to have to just forget about it… it's not happening.

"Hey Shortman, I'm off to bed." grandpa called out from the other side of the door.

"Good night grandpa" I listened to his footsteps creak down the hall. When his bedroom door closed behind him, I got up off the couch and went into my closet to grab my pajamas. On the top shelf sat a large brown box with the letters 'B.I.F.' written in black ink. That box has haunted me over the years. Every time I get into my closet, its like a reminder of the haunting bedlams I faced in the past. It was an emotional battle scar that I just… couldn't part with. I grabbed the box and pulled it down to the ground and quietly opened it. Inside of it were several different trinkets and books… I cracked open the book on the top and read the inscription

'Dearest Arnold,

You're reading this most likely because temptation has overtaken you. I honestly don't blame you for being curious.. But in truth, you are reading this Because I Failed. I failed to be myself. I spent so long burying my heart and soul in a fantasy world. These words that I'm writing cannot begin to express the deep sorrow I feel for the way this ordeal has panned out. I put you in a position that you didn't deserve to be in. Your kind soul is unable to hate me for my actions… it was one of the things I loved about you. You have always been the one who showered me with kindness and understanding. But like all good things, they must come to an end… this is the final call. I cannot continue to live my life as a joke… You and I will never be, and I have come to accept this fate. Though my love for you must dissipate, remember that you're always in my heart.

Always,

Helga.'


Helga: I have a hard time believing /I/ wrote something like that.


I had read that note over a hundred times since the seventh grade. The ordeal that occurred between me and Helga that year was stressful in so many ways. I had gotten my first real girlfriend, and according to Phoebe… Helga finally snapped. Something inside her had clicked, and in some ways I guess it broke her spirit. She showed up on my doorstep one Saturday afternoon with a box in her arms, and tears streaming down her cheeks. I invited her inside and asked her what was wrong… her only response was 'Me.' and she thrust the box into my arms and ordered me to never look inside, and then to burn it. When I asked her why she leaned in and kissed me directly on the lips. With a box in my hands, I had no way of preventing it.. She leaned back out, her eyes were still coated with tears. The only other words she said were 'Because I failed', and she left. I was left with the aftertaste of Helgas lips on my own, and a mysterious box that I was supposed to burn. After a few days of contemplating and a discussion with Gerald, I decided to look inside the box. There were dozens of books… all filled with poems….about me. A chunk of my hair was even taped inside of one of the books. At the very bottom of the box were two little statues, both of which were of my likeness… and then a larger scale creation which looked exactly like my head. I felt as though I was supposed to be shocked or disgusted by the things I had seen at this point, but something inside me knew that this was just Helgas way of coping with emotions she couldn't express. The first time Gerald saw the contents of the box, he spent half and hour on the floor laughing like a hyena. After he calmed down, he asked if he could actually read the poems. I figured it would be betraying Helgas trust, so I opted against it. Even to this day, Gerald still laughs at the thought of my 'Arnold shrine'… ugh.

As for my relationship with Helga after receiving her box of 'memorabilia', she avoided me like the plague. All she had to do was look in my eyes one time, and she knew I had looked inside the box. My girlfriend at the time ended up breaking up with me two months later. She had found the box in my closet and demanded to know why I had it. When I didn't have an actual answer, she ended it right there. I found out later that she thought I was in to voodoo or freakish rituals. Why would I do voodoo on myself? I don't know. I thought maybe after my breakup, Helga might start coming around again. After three more months passed, and still no word from her I took it into my own hands to fix the situation. I had gone to her house and demanded she talk to me face to face. After some coaxing, she finally agreed to sit on the stoop and talk with me. I told her that I wasn't freaked out by her and that I accepted it because that's who she is, and how she expresses herself. I asked her if we could be friends again, and after some thinly veiled insults and a few 'football head!' comments later, she agreed. As for the kiss, neither of us mentioned it again. During our freshman year of high school, I decided to test the waters with Helga, and she her if she still had any feelings for me. She was quick to shoot down the idea, but later explained that though it wasn't easy for her, she was able to move on in a healthy way.

Now that Helga was finally dating someone… even though it is Wolfgang, I felt that her statement was true. She was finally over the last hump. Helga Pataki didn't love me anymore. I closed the book and packed it back into the box. I knew someday I would finally break down and throw the box out or fulfill Helgas wish and burn it, but for now it was my reminder. A reminder that Helga is a kind person, and is capable of so much more than being a bully. I stuffed the box back on to its shelf and finally changed into my pajamas and crawled into my bed. Dimming the lights in my room, I stared into the night sky above, taking a deep breath before exhaling. Thoughts of the box continued to flood my thoughts as I drifted off to sleep. The books, the shrines…. the kiss… it was all too much for one teenage boy to handle.

Why am I thinking about this anyway?


Arnold: What an excellent chapter.

Gerald: Yep, you said it, man.



Helgas POV:

They say that junior year can be one of the most influential years of your young life. With college looming in the horizon, our lives are supposed to become engulfed in college application pandemonium, PSATs, and raising our GPA to impress the snooty universities we can never afford to get in to.


Arnold: Yeah. All those dumb poinless stuck-up universities...Like the one Olga goes to.


As for myself? This year will be my year. No more spending Saturday nights at home with a tub of Ben and Jerry's and listening to Big Bob and Miriam coo over Olga,


Olga: Oh Helga...Do Mommy and Daddy really treat me better than you? You poor thing...


no more having to babysit Miriam after another one of her 'smoothie' binges. This year was going to be about making me happy for once.

"Yep" I confirmed to my reflection in the mirror. "No drama" I reached for my beanie on the counter, but my fingers rested on something else… I held my old pink bow in front of me and studied its warped edges and slightly faded coloring. For humility purposes, I tied the old bow on the top of my head.

'I like your bow…' my eyes clenched tightly at the memory.

I stopped wearing my bow over the summer, being with Wolfgang had made me realize how incredibly stupid it was. The bow symbolized my past.. I wasn't the same Helga Pataki anymore.

"I thought you stopped wearing that?" I jumped nearly half a foot in the air before I realized Wolfgang was standing in the doorway of my bathroom.

"Crimeny Wolfgang! Give me a heart attack why don't ya?" I pulled the ends of the bow and tossed it unceremoniously on the counter. "How'd you get past Big Bob?" I ran my fingers through my pigtails one more time before putting my beanie on.

"He invited me in" his arm snaked around my shoulders, turning me to face him. "Good morning by the way."

"Good morning." my index finger traced his sternum before punching him lightly on his chest. "That's for sneaking up on me!"


Helga: That's good. For a second there I thought I stopped being bad-(beep).


"Ow!" he loosened his grip to rub his chest, I took the opportunity to push past him and run back into my room. Before I could close the door a large foot blocked it. "The chase only makes the conquest that much sweeter." he poked his head inside my room, still sporting a devilish grin.

I placed a chaste kiss against his lips and grunted. "Satisfied?"

"For now." he chuckled and removed his foot before backing away. "Shall we?" he held out his hand.

Our fingers intertwined while my other hand grabbed my backpack. We walked down stairs in silence so Miriam wouldn't wake up from her smoothie induced coma. He opened the passenger door of his truck for me and I plopped down in the leather seat. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the actual school year, but I was definitely looking forward to the perks of having a social life. In the parking lot of Hillwood High, several familiar students exited their cars and began greeting each other. Wolfgang pulled in to his usual spot, parked next to him was a familiar red car… Geralds car.

"Hey tall hair boy" my feet planted on the asphalt.

Gerald studied me up and down before his eyes met mine. "Hey Helga.." we stood there awkwardly for a moment before Phoebe poked out of the other side of Geralds car.

"Phoebs!" I waved her over, which she obliged. "Ready for junior year?" I pointed towards the school.

"I'm terribly excited!" she held her backpack tightly to her chest.

"Eh.." Gerald shrugged. "another day, another school year"

"Gerald.." Phoebe began to protest. Their arguing was drowned out as my attention traveled to the other side of Geralds car. Arnold was exiting the from back seat.

"Hey Arnoldo." I smirked.

Just as Gerald had, his eyes raked over me suspiciously before meeting my gaze. "Hey Helga." he closed the back door and joined us in between the two cars. "How's it going?"

"It'd be perfect if I wasn't at this dump." I kicked the tire of Wolfgangs truck. "But other than that I'm just peachy"

Wolfgang appeared at my side, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. "Hey G." he nodded at Gerald, which he nodded back in return. "Phoebe." he waved.

"Hello Wolfgang" she smiled politely.

"Football face." he made no facial expressions or gestures whatsoever. I instantly jabbed him roughly in the ribs. "Oh geez." he groaned. "Hello Arnold." his name came out like he had just choked on a bug.

"Forgive Wolfgang." I flicked his forehead for good measure. "He forgot to pull his head out of his ass this morning" the group, minus Wolfgang snickered in response. "Come on, take a joke." I kissed his blushing cheek.

"And that's our cue. Come on Phoebe.." Gerald linked his arm with hers. "You coming Arnold?"

Our eyes met for just a moment, he smiled weakly before waving his goodbye. "See ya Helga.."

"Yeah." I waved. "later.." watching their fleeting figures disappear into the mass of students all heading in different directions.

"Helga.." Wolfgang groaned. "Why do I get this feeling that I need to be worried?"

"Worried?" I playfully tapped his head. "Did you hit your head this morning?"

"You can't blame me for being a little... Apprehensive considering the history."

"And that's what it is!… history. You have nothing to worry about. I honestly thought we were past this by now" I tugged him closer.

"I'm sorry" he rested his forehead against mine. "I mean: Caveman Wolfgang sorry" he grunted like a primate before capturing my lips with his.

"You're such a weirdo….. You're lucky I like weird." I pushed him slightly. "Come on, we need to pick up our schedules loverboy." he grabbed both of our backpacks from the back of the truck and we made the trek to the cafeteria to fight the mob of students. A flurry of rambunctious freshman ran past us, comparing schedules and chattering mindlessly about being "bad-ass" now that they're in high school. Those poor idiots.


Helga: I'M the bad-(beep) one.


Wolfgang and I separated once we reached the cafeteria, I headed over towards the sign labeled 'juniors' where many familiar faces were gathered.

"Why Helga, you look mighty different without your purty pink bow. I reckon I haven't seen you without it since preschool." I glared over my shoulder at Stinky who was currently behind me in line to get our class schedules.

"Does it look like I care what you think Stinky?" I hissed.

"I was just observin'.. no need to hoot and holler" he raised his hands protectively.


Helga: I hate country boys.


"Yeah Helga, calm down! Boy howdy you'd think he called you ugly or something" Sid stood next to his freakishly tall sidekick.

"I'm surrounded by morons." I muttered under my breath. "HEY! Can we get a move on here! Some of us would like our schedules by Christmas!" I glared at the office assistant who was passing out the juniors schedules.

"Pataki!" Principal Reed pointed an accusing finger in my direction. "Do you want to start off the school year with a detention?"

The crowd of students did a collective "Oooh!".

"Oh pipe down ya weasels!"

"Miss Pataki!"

"Kiss my a-"

"Helga, just be quiet!" Arnold grabbed my shoulder. "He's not kidding. He will give you detention."

I avoided the fact that Arnold had just manhandled my shoulder and focused my attention elsewhere. "How did you get your schedule so fast!" I grabbed the small paper from his hands.

"Brainy" he pointed to the other assistant behind the table. He stared over at us and waved… geez.. the damn boy was still wheezing after all these years.

"Ugh." I cringed. "I'd rather eat used cat litter than have to ask Brainy for anything." the moment I said that, Brainy held up what was to be my schedule and fanned the air with it.

"Oh come on Helga… go get it. Make his day."

"I stick by my last statement." my arms crossed instinctively in front of my chest.

"Whatever you say Helga." he grabbed his schedule and exited the cafeteria with Gerald and Phoebe.

"Arnold." I scoffed. "What a sap! What a buffoon! How I hate him… and yet.." I paused dramatically. "Eh.. nope, I just hate him." my days of 'monologue-ing' were long gone… I had no more hidden desires that necessitated a long drawn out proclamation of my supposed 'undying' affection for a certain football headed boy.


Phoebe: An obvious Take That at how you feel the need to monologue your feelings.

Helga: I see nothing wrong with that.


I glanced over towards Wolfgang who was surrounded by his fellow football brethren.

I must have a thing for footballs..

"Helga! The line is moving." Sid pointed at the large gap in front of me.

"Oh keep your panties on!" the length of the line was still too long for my liking, and Brainy was still keeping an eye on me. "I'm out of here." I proclaimed, relinquishing my spot in the line. "Brainy!" I hissed. "Schedule… NOW."

"Uh…" wheeze "hi." he waved each finger individually.

I placed my palms on the table and leaned against it "Does old Betsy need to come out of retirement Brainy?" and with that, Brainy quickly handed me my class schedule. "I'm glad we see eye to eye." I patted his head before placing a light slap across his cheek.

"So what'd you end up getting?" Wolfgang joined me on my journey to the junior lockers.

"Chemistry, Advanced French, Journalism, Calculus, Honors English, US History… and Health?" I read over the schedule again. "What the heck? Why do I have to take a health class? I didn't sign up for that!" I huffed.

"It's some new rule." he shrugged. "I guess there's too many pregnant girls and STD infected teens running around. I heard coach talking about it with Principal Reed. It's some sort of prevention thing.."

"I am neither of those things! It's the idiots who are knocked up and have herpes out the wazoo who need to take that class!" I could practically feel steam flowing out of my ears. Thanks to their stupid health class, I didn't get to take drama… the ONE class that was supposed to be fun.

"Calm down" his strong arms halted me. "I know you wanted to have drama class, but I hear that this health thing is only supposed to be a semester long.. So maybe there's still a chance?" he gently brushed some stray hair from my face. "Let's find your locker.. Then we can take it from there."

I don't know how, but Wolfgang always seemed to have the power to calm me down from my fits of rage. I took another look at my schedule and sighed, I knew he was right. There was nothing I would be able to do about it now. I checked my papers and found my locker number and combination. "look for 397..." I checked the numbers on the end of each row before finding the right one.

"Here it is!" he tapped it. "You going to open it up?"

"Depends, are you going to steal my combination?" I teased. "17-20-5" I spun the knob in the proper directions until I hear a soft click. It was just like the locker I had last year. "You know, every year I expect something amazing to happen when I open up a new locker… but every year I'm greatly disappointed." I closed the locker and spun the knob. A loud bell erupted through the halls causing all of the students to groan.

"Do you want me to walk you to class?" he offered.

"Nah.. I'm a big girl. I'll be okay." I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "See you at lunch?"

"I might have a football meeting today.." his bottom lip protruded. "But I'll try and get out early."

We went our separate ways to our first classes of the day. I had chemistry with Mr. Vargas on the second floor. When I found the classroom, some students had already filled some of the lab tables in the back, so I was forced to sit in one that was closer to the front. "Bastards.." I muttered.

"Good morning!" Mr. Vargas came out from behind his desk. "Welcome back! I assume you all had a nice summer vacation?" he earned a few 'eh' and 'yeahs' from a few students. "Wonderful!" his hands clasped together. "Today we'll be discussing the curriculum you will be learning, and filling out some paperwork-"


Phoebe: Oh look. A Hey Arnold OC that's a carbon copy of an existing character. Never seen THAT before.

Rhonda: There's Paula Lin, who loves Gerald like you do.

Phoebe: She's more of a Romantic Rival. Though that would essentially make her another Ruth or Lila.


My mind had already began to wander by the time he started flapping his overly happy yapper. As he passed out the class syllabus and other paperwork, I spent the majority of my time doodling in my new notebook. Before I knew it, the first class of the day was already over. Mr. Vargas said his goodbyes and vowed to see us tomorrow. Oh joy.

Second period was going to be one of my more difficult classes. Advanced French… ugh, I honestly don't even know how I got past basic French let alone rose up to the level of 'advanced.'

A petite woman greeted each of us as we entered into the classroom. Rhonda was already seated towards the middle of the class.

"Bonjour Manquer Lloyd. Comment êtes-vous?" I sat down in the seat next to hers.

(good morning Miss Lloyd. How are you?)

"Parfait, comme toujours!" she smirked.

(Perfect, as always!)

"Bonjour les élèves! Bienvenue au français avancé. Je suis votre professeur Madame Yorke"

(Hello students! Welcome to advanced French. I am your teacher Mrs. Yorke)

Oh geez, all this French was going to give me a headache. I leaned towards Rhonda and whispered. "Me tuer. S'IL VOUS PLAÎT."

(kill me. PLEASE.)

Our snickers were interrupted when Mrs. Yorke glared at us. "Oops" I started snickering again.

"ça suffit!" she warned.

(enough!)

"Désolé Madame." we replied robotically.

(Sorry Madame)

After giving us one last look of disapproval, she continued rambling in French for another 45 minutes. When the bell rang, all of us shot up from our seats and bolted for the door. My next class was probably going to be my only 'pleasurable' class. I had taken Journalism since 8th grade and found it to be the creative outlet I needed. Instead of writing stupid love poems, I got to write articles. But during my first year of high school, the Senior editor in charge made it a point to only let seniors do the big stories, and forced the underclassmen to stoop down to horoscopes and lunch menus. The tradition had kept on ever since. Rumor has it that this year the boundaries would finally be lifted for non-seniors.

Ms. Tyler was the faculty advisor in charge of the newspaper. She knew more than anyone that my ultimate goal was to become the editor and finally be able to make the newspaper fair for everyone, and to finally be able to write what I want to write. Every junior who intends on applying for the position of editor is required to write an article of their choice, and submit it to a panel of faculty members who read them 'blindly' as they call it. When they choose the article that wows them the most, the author behind it is revealed. Unfortunately this process won't start until mid May.. So until then, I'm stuck with..

"Horoscopes." Ms. Tyler handed me my 'guidelines' and smiled weakly. "I know you'll do wonderfully Helga. You always do."

"Oh yes, I always do." I rolled my eyes. "Getting horoscopes off the net is BACK BREAKING work.."

"Helga" she sighed, exasperated. "You need to look on the bright side."

Okay ARNOLD…geez

"I know, I know.." I crumpled the paper and tossed it into my backpack. "Now if you don't mind, I'm going to go flush my head down the toilet." I grabbed my backpack and exited as the bell excused us. My calculus class was just across the hall, the first person I saw go inside was none other than Phoebe herself. "PHOEBS!" I wrapped my arm around her shoulder. "Thank God you're in this class too. I'm definitely going to need a study partner this year."

"Oh well.. Um." she stuttered. "I'm sorry to disappoint you Helga, but I'm.. not exactly a student in this class. I'm Mr. Perkins teachers assistant."

"Crimeny! Why'd you have to be so smart Phoebe?" I said mainly to myself.

"I'm sorry Helga. I'll try and help you any way I can.."

"Nah.. I won't make you Phoebs. I guess I really should learn to hit the books on my own." I grabbed a seat towards the back and she took her seat behind the assistants desk in front.

"Helga?" a voice came from behind. There stood in the doorway was Lila Sawyer. "Why gosh Helga! This is ever so exciting, I'm ever so glad that we'll be in the same class." before I could object, she took the seat next to mine.

Oh God..

"Oh yes Lila.. ever so exciting." my voice dripped with sarcasm.

The rest of class was spent in the same fashion my other classes had been… syllabus, rules, paperwork… boring. When we were excused, an army of students ran through the halls towards the cafeteria. The other half of the student population went to their cars with their friends. Since Wolfgang was busy and I didn't have keys to his truck I was stuck on campus for lunch. Damn it.

I rounded the corner and almost instantly collided with someone. "Geez, watch it!" I scowled.

"Sorry Helga." Arnold fixed his collar. "I'm late meeting up with Gerald. We were going to Slausens for lunch.." he thought a moment before speaking again. "You and Wolfgang are more than welcome to join us.."

"Thanks, but Wolfgang is at a football meeting. I'm flying solo today."

"Uh… you know you're still more than welcome to come, right?" he fiddled with then ends of his plaid button up shirt. "If you want to that is."

"Sure football head." I bumped his shoulder. "As long as Gerald doesn't mind letting another girl in 'Thriller'..." we both instantly laughed at his cars nickname.

"It'll be fine.. Come on." he grabbed my wrist and pulled me through the endless sea of students.

"Hey Arnold… and Helga." Gerald raised a suspicious eyebrow.

"Wolfgang is busy." I threw out. "Mind if I tag along with you guys for today?"

"Oh, so now you have time for us?"

"Gerald!" Phoebe and Arnold both gasped.

"It's okay you guys." I shrugged. "He's right. No need to get all up in arms about it. All I can say is that I'm sorry. I was new to the whole 'relationship' thing, I made a mistake..."

The three of them stared at me like I had just grown three heads. "Wow Helga." Arnold admonished. "That was a pretty mature answer."

"Yeah yeah.. So are we having lunch together or what?" I gave Gerald a stern look.

"Sure.." he unlocked the doors and allowed me and Arnold to crawl into the backseat.

The four of us sat in a booth at Slausens munching on hamburgers and fries and shakes. The whole time I felt a pair of eyes watching me. When I looked up, it was the boy across the booth who was watching me so intently.

"Do I have something in my teeth Arnoldo?" I grabbed my chocolate shake and took a long slurp.

"No.." he paused. "I was just trying to find the right way to ask you about your summer vacation. We'd all like to hear about it."

I began choking mid-swallow.. "my vacation?" my voice came out hoarsely. I coughed a few times and cleared my throat. "There's nothing to tell, really." Phoebe continued to mindlessly poke at her plate of fries and ignore our conversation, but Gerald and Arnold both continued to stare at me with renewed interest.

"You spent all summer on the road.."

"With Wolfgang!" Gerald supplied. "You've got to have some stories for us!"

"Stories!" I snorted with laughter. "You two are worse than girls"

"I didn't say anything about Wolfgang, Gerald." he glared over at his best friend. "I wanted to hear about California.. And which colleges you went to... If you found one you liked."

"So you don't want to hear all the juicy details?" I raised an eyebrow.

"NO!"

"YES!"

"Gerald!" Arnold growled.

"Why do I feel like I've time traveled back to Grease? Are you two going to start singing 'Summer Nights' to me?"

Both boys stopped glaring at each other and put their glares on me. Phoebe couldn't contain her laughter anymore. The three of us stared at her as she laughed, which in turn caused us to join her in a fit of laughter.

Gerald opened his phone and shushed us. "I hate to break up this strange little lunch date, but we better get back. Lunch ends in 10"

Date?… ugh. Wolfgang would have a fit if he heard that.

"Yeah.. You ready Helga?" Arnold held out his hand to pull me from the booth.

"Yep." I slapped his hand out of the way and pushed myself out. "Let's blow this popsicle stand"

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