At the moment, Helga just couldn't concentrate. Even though she wasn't new to seeing a tape of Olga's award acceptance speech set to be aired during an award show, it still, left her the same feeling. Empty, angry, resentful, bored, and above all, jealous. Once again, her oh-so wonderful sister, the award-winning actress, was once again, unintentionally rubbing her fame and fortune in her face.
But now, she was NOT going to sit for an hour or two, watching the tape over and over again, listening to Bob and Miriam pouring all their love and how proud they were of Olga into her, while she would sit in the background like a statue. No. Instead, she abruptly stood, fixed her blue hat on her head more to hide what it was really being worn for, cast a scorned look to her family as they watched and laughed at the award show taping, and went outside.
It was a cool, but still warm late summer evening, with a light breeze, and storm clouds roaming overhead, promising rain.
Helga sighed as she sat against the stone landing of the front stoop, feeling once again, a wave of sadness wash over her. Even now at 16, Helga was still Helga. Sure she was now taller, thin, and had developed breasts over the past few years, that now were blossoming more and more, as well as her hips, and now wore a blue hat in place of her once omnipresent pink bow, which was actually hidden under the said hat. She thought a lot of the sentimental value behind her bow, which would of course, lead to the very thing that despite the hardships she faced, still to this day made her smile.
Obviously, he was still her true love. She'd gotten her wish years ago at the age of then, and they dated for a little while. Unfortunately, they hit some stormy times and decided it was best to break up. It was especially hard on her, but she did understand nor did she hold it against him. In fact, if anything, she blamed herself for what happened between them. Even now, over the course of her teen years, she still loved him.
She had a feeling, from his letters, that he still liked her too.
Before he left, they had remained friends, and he continuously wrote to her after he moved away to San Lorenzo with his parents. She however, wrote several letters, but never mailed them. She couldn't. If asked why, she wouldn't be able to explain it. But day after day, she wrote him a letter, sealed it with a kiss, and went to go mail it.
But moments later, she would remove the letter from the mailbox, go back to her room, place it in a binder where she kept all her unsent letters to him. And then would probably face an onslaught of tears, blaming herself for being so stupid.
There was that one time she tried to run away to find him, but it hadn't succeeded. She had wanted to see him so badly, and to this day, she regretted not trying again to find him.
Needless to say, Helga missed him. He was still, besides Phoebe, the slight improvement of her parents, and a few other select friends, the very reason she was even happy. Arnold still inspired her and made her smile, and her love for him only made her feel stronger. Her future wasn't looking bright, by the looks of things, and plus, with her grouchy attitude that still remained, but he still gave her hope. Hope that she could make her own life the way she wanted it. Hope that she could have a bright future.
Preferably, with him in it alongside her.
Helga sighed. It had been another tough year, facing it without him. Now in about three weeks, she was about to go back to school to face, yet another year without him. She always dreaded this time of year since he moved away. She wanted so much to see him again, to take him into her arms and kiss him with all she had, try to rekindle their childhood romance. She wanted him. No, she NEEDED him.
More than she ever cared to admit.
"...Arnold..." Helga looked up at the cloudy sky, as drops of rain slowly fell. "Listen, football head, wherever you are... I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry. And I miss you so much."
"I missed you too, Helga."
Helga gave a small smile, closing her eyes as her imagination narrated his sweet voice speaking to her, expressing that he missed her as well.
Snapped out of her trance, Helga suddenly realized that it wasn't her imagination. The voice was real. She turned around in surprise, unable to believe what she was seeing.
"Hey, Helga." Arnold greeted, a small smile on his face.
She couldn't believe it. It was him. In the flesh. Arnold. The football-headed boy, the neighbourhood peacemaker, the sweet and adorable boy...her beloved. He stood there on the sidewalk near her front stoop, hands in his pockets and looking to her.
Helga held back a breath, drinking in the sight of him. She had not seen him in a few years now, and she wanted to take him all in.
Arnold had not changed much in appearance, though he was taller, still very thin but with a bit more of a tone to his form, and he still had his football-shaped head along with the same style of unruly blonde hair. And of course, his little blue cap was sitting on its head where it always had been. He wore a red and yellow plaid shirt with the buttons undone, a green long-sleeved shirt underneath, and plain blue jeans.
"...Arnold..." Helga said, and stared at him hard. "What are you doing here, football head?"
"I wanted to see you. So I came over to see if you were around." Arnold said. "Aren't you happy to see me?"
Hell yes she was. She was more than happy. She wanted to dance around with joy and hug him with all her might! Helga was overjoyed to see him again, and really wanted to make it so. But, still, there was some doubt nagging at her mind.
"Before I answer that, why don't you tell me what's going on here." She said, descending down the steps and crossing her arms.
"Well," Arnold scratched the back of his head a little. "Mom and Dad and I just finished building a new hospital that's a lot closer to where the Green-Eyed people live, and we brought in some new resources for them, so that we wouldn't have to worry about them. And, well, I really wanted to come back, you know. Mom and Dad wanted me to finish my high school years in school, anyway, so we came back."
"What about San Lorenzo?" Helga wanted to know, wondering if this was too good to be true. "You practically begged your parents to live there with them. Were you THAT miserable, Arnoldo?"
A flash of hurt entered his eyes. "Helga, that's not true. I didn't leave Hillwood because I was miserable. I wasn't miserable in the least. What had happened between us had nothing to do with it. My parents wanted to move there to be close to the Green-Eyed people, and I wanted to be with them. I love them, Helga, and I owed them and the Green Eyes so much. I'm...I'm sorry if I ever made you think otherwise."
Helga softened, feeling stupid for having expressed such a stupid thought, that had lingered in her mind. She should have known him better than that. If he was really miserable, she would have known that. And even if he was, he would have tried to solve the problem source of his misery rather than run away from it.
"It's not your fault, Arnold. It's just been hard here without you. Everyone misses you, and it's just not the same." Helga said.
Arnold gave a sigh. "...I know, Helga. I missed you guys a lot too. Believe me, it wasn't easy for me having to adapt living down in San Lorenzo. Yeah, I love it there and I've met some great people. But, it just wasn't home. I definitely want to visit there from time to time, but I could never live down there for the rest of my life. My home is here in Hillwood City."
A wave of relief washed over her, and while she felt better, she still couldn't let herself fall into him yet. There was still so much uncertainty in the situation, she didn't know what to think. She looked down at her shoes, her hands in her pockets of her jacket, not even caring about the rain falling around them.
"Helga...why did you never write back?"
Her head snapped up as if a gun had just gone off, surprising her. "...Arnold, I..."
"When you didn't write back to me, I was pretty concerned." Arnold said with a sigh. "I figured...you wanted nothing to do with me. I can understand that this was hard for you, believe me. But, I want to know. Why didn't you answer my letters?"
She knew this would come up, and right now, there was no avoiding it. Especially when the very subject was right in front of her. The reason why. Even now, Helga still didn't know how to explain it.
"That's nothing you need to know, Arnold!" She nearly shouted. "It doesn't matter anymore!"
The boy sighed, shaking his head. "Maybe not, but, I still want to know, Helga. You can tell me."
"No, I can't!"
"Because I don't know! I-I just couldn't, okay?! Every time I tried, I just backed out! I'm not that heartless, football head! But I couldn't do it because...because I just couldn't do it! I can't explain it! I just couldn't send a stinking letter to you!" Helga cried, tears in her eyes as she turned to face him. "I wanted to, you know! But I can't do it!"
Arnold was taken aback by her outburst, and she could see he was taking it in, silent for a few moments. He straightened, and took a few steps toward her. He had grown a lot, and was now an inch or two taller than her. Or were they the same height? She couldn't quite tell.
"I understand, Helga." Arnold said softly. "I guess I should have expected it. Things were never easy for you, were they?"
"Ya think?" She muttered.
"So I can see why it was hard for you to write back. We did have some stormy times up to when we..." His voice trailed off for a moment and he looked away. "Broke up."
"...It was bound to happen." Helga said, her heart shattering inside, again. Just as it did when they broke up. "Look, I'm over it, okay?! So just...just forget it!"
"Helga." Arnold said in a firm, but gentle tone. "It wasn't easy for me, either."
"Please. You couldn't possibly have taken it THAT hard. Come on, you obviously had no trouble moving on and finding your next girl. I was just another one of them, and you knew it too." Helga said tonelessly. "Why I'll bet you have a gorgeous Green-Eyes girl waiting for you back in San Lorenzo. I don't need your pity, football head."
Hurt was evident in his eyes then. "So that's what you think our relationship was to me? Just a quick crush fling? Is that what you think you are to me? Just a heated crush? You think I didn't have a hard time after we broke up? Is that what you think? Do you think that you meant so little to me?"
Helga stared at him, saying nothing. She couldn't, not to those words. Had she really underestimated his feelings that much?
"Contrary to what you might believe, you're wrong." Arnold said, sounding a bit hurt, but determined. "Helga, do you remember when I said to you that we were meant for each other? Back in San Lorenzo when we were trying to find my parents?"
She was trapped again.
"....What's your point?" She wanted to know. "YES, I remember. So what?"
Arnold's eyes never left hers. "I meant it, Helga. I would never lie about that kind of thing. I thought long and hard about how I felt, after you told me that you loved me back on the FTi rooftop, when we were saving the neighbourhood. When I told you that I loved you too, I meant every word."
Helga was shocked, and yet, somehow, she should have known better than to think otherwise. His confession to her wasn't as passionate as hers had been, but, all of the love, truth, and promise was there. The look in his eyes, the tone of his voice, and his kiss, back then, at the age of ten, in the middle of the San Lorenzo jungle, just moments before they were leaving to go home, it was all true.
And it was all back. In his eyes, his tone, his expression. Those green eyes of his that she'd fallen in love with all those years ago, held the truth.
"I didn't, well, we didn't break up because I didn't love you." Arnold went on, looking her in the eye still. "It was because I loved you that we broke up."
She frowned. "That doesn't even make sense! You break up with someone because you don't love them anymore, football head!"
A sigh escaped him, but he went on. "Helga, that's not what I mean. We needed time away and apart from each other. We needed to grow up, to learn from our romance and our mistakes, and each other. It was rough at the time, and we needed to patch things up on our own, before we patched them up together. And just because we broke up doesn't mean I didn't love you. I didn't have an easy time after our break up." He paused, and looked at her again. "Do you have any idea how hard it was not telling you how much I love you in my letters?"
Helga's eyes widened at this, taking a step back. "No...no...what did you just say?"
Arnold took another step toward her, the rain coming down harder, but neither of them cared.
"I love you, Helga. I always have. Like I said, when I said back then that we were meant for each other, I meant it. And I still mean it to today. I love you. And I want to try again."
Tears pooled in her eyes, threatening to fall, but she fought them back. This was all too much. It was a dream come true, her heart leaped with joy. It was almost as if she were dreaming, and yet, it wasn't a dream. She knew this now. Her true love of all people had just come out and told her he still loved her.
"Helga." Arnold then said, interrupting her train of thought. "I want to know the truth. And whatever it is, I'll accept it." He was looking at his shoes, but then he met her gaze. "Helga...do you love me?"
Silence passed, and his green eyes never left her blue ones as he stood there, patiently waiting for her answer. He had asked, direct and straight out, if she loved him too. And she knew the answer.
The ball was in her court, and she knew she had to answer it. She knew the truth, and he deserved to know. After all they had been through, and she could see, that their time apart was hard on him too. Maybe not along the same vein as how it was for her, but it was just as hard for him, in his own way. She could see it in his eyes there. The passion, the longing, the need, the love...all of it.
Helga had to make a decision. Take it, or run away.
Running away, lying...that was always easier. She was about to say what her bullying, ego-centric mind would have, she was ready to just-
It was at that moment, looking into his eyes, that she decided she'd had enough of running. Arnold was her true love! What was she thinking?! He had just flat-out told her that he loved her, and wanted her back. There was no uncertainty. All she had to do was take it. They were older, they had time to grow up, had time apart to think of things, they tried once before and despite the stormy fighting, they did truly love each other and had a great time together.
Now it was time to bring that romance back, only more so.
Tears ran down her face, mixing with the rain, and she managed a small smile as she met his eyes again.
"Football head...of course I love you. I've always loved you."
A smile broke onto his face, and his eyes lit up with adoration, and took another step toward her. Helga found herself smiling too, for the first time in a long time, it was true, genuine, sweet smile full of all the love she had for him.
They grew closer, closer...
Suddenly, the front door flew open, and Olga leaned her body out, turning on the porch light, causing the two teens to step back from each other in shock.
"Helga, dear baby sister, what are you doing out here in the rain?! Come inside!" Olga called out to her. "...Oh! Arnold? What are you doing here?"
"Olga!" Helga snarled. "Not NOW!"
"H-Hello, Miss Pataki." Arnold greeted politely.
"Baby sister, it's raining!" Olga protested. "You'll get sick!"
"I don't care! Would you just go back inside?!" Helga said. "I'm in the middle of something! I'll be back later."
"Oh, well, all right then." Olga conceded. "I'll tell mummy and daddy then, baby sister." She went back inside and shut the door.
Helga sighed, and looked back at Arnold, the two regarding each other in silence for half a moment. In a rush, their lips met in their first kiss in years. Within a second it intensified and deepened with passion, hunger, need, longing.
His arms came around her waist, bringing her closer to his body, which was slowly getting soaked. Her arms immediately looped around his neck, pressing her entire body against his. All of what she felt to him went into this kiss, and she made sure he knew it.
They kissed, passionately and deeply in the rain, on the sidewalk, not even caring about the world around them. The darkened streets, the street lamps coming on, the rain continuing to fall. Nothing mattered.
Helga, for the first time in so long, was overjoyed. She had him back. Arnold, her true love, who loved her right back.
In these last minutes of the evening, it was the beginning of something new.