Well, this is it guys.

It's nearly two years to the day I published this story and though I frankly did not expect it to take this long to complete (hooray life) it has been completely worth the experience and effort to do so.

Believe it or not, this has been one of my most successful stories and I have every one of you to thank for it. To those who read, liked, followed, reviewed, etc. I give you my sincerest gratitude. It would not have been possible without you.

I hope I do the last scene justice. At the risk of making it seem ideal, this is exactly something of a prequel to the sequel haha. As some of you have guessed, I will be making a sequel to this current story and show how we got to this final point. I have an idea in mind and I will get to writing on it this summer. I do have numerous projects in mind, however so this prequel will not be for some time.

Nevertheless, I do hope my readers will bear with me for a time. Because when I do return it will be with renewed vigor.

This fandom means so much to me, this show means so much to me. Thank you to Craig Bartlett for creating such wonderful characters and memories we will always cherish forever.

Enough with the sappy stuff haha. Please enjoy this epilogue!

Epilogue. What's To Come

Three years later

Arnold's eyes snapped open as he sat up from his bed.

That dream….it wasn't real, was it? It was just a nightmare?

He knew deep down he was being irrational but that didn't stop him from worrying. Then something else occurred to him. Wasn't today the first day of school?

Oh shit

He had to check. Panic arose in the young blond as he threw off his covers and made a headway for the stairs. Anxiety spread like wildfire even if he knew there was no rational reason to give it life. There was one thing in particular he absolutely had to check.

"Whoa there, short man!" the familiar cheerful tone of his grandfather greeted him behind a newspaper. "Been a little while since ya came bursting down here in your pajamas. Everything, okay?"

Arnold didn't reply immediately, checking his surroundings. The other tenants had clearly gone to work but his grandmother and grandfather were sitting enjoying pancakes and coffee as though nothing were out of the ordinary. However, given that Gertie was not in a specific getup today, that meant something was out of the ordinary.

"Mr. President, you don't look well," his grandmother remarked. "Is something trouble you?"


He mentally slapped himself and spat out the words.

"Where's Mom and Dad?"

An immense happiness and calm washed over him as a lovely, feminine tone called out from the living room.

"Right here, sweetie!"

And there she was in the flesh. Stella Shortman, with a head so very like her son's, light brown hair, a kindly face mixed with motherly love and protection as she entered the kitchen wearing an apron and a midi green dress.

"Oh, Arnold. You look white as a ghost, are you feeling well?"

"He's received that question about three times now," laughed a deeper, masculine sounding voice. Miles Shortman entered now, blond hair as tufty and feathery as his sons, gray streaks aligning the sides but otherwise as yellow as a canary's. He was a good deal taller than his wife and bore emerald eyes similar to his son's. He wore a buttoned up white shirt tucked into a pair of jeans.

"Mom…Dad," Arnold managed to choke out. He rushed towards both of them and wrapped his arms around them. Despite being taller than his mother already, it didn't stop him from feeling the comfort of her embrace along with the strong hands of his father.

"Arnold at the risk of sounding redundant…" Miles joked.

"What your father means to say is that you seem off today," his mother corrected.

For a brief moment he was tempted to reveal to them of the dream he had not received in a good long while: the one where he never found them in the first place in the heart of the Central American jungle and they flew off again only to disappear into misty clouds of nothingness. But now was not that time. The dream, the reality of having no parents, was long since gone and there was no point in troubling them further. He had his paradise. He was content.

"Don't worry, I'm fine," he reassured them. "I just woke up feeling a bit disoriented is all."

Thankfully, his mother and father seemed to accept that explanation.

"Well you'd best eat something to fix that," his mother told him placing a soft on his cheek. "There are still pancakes left if you'd like some."

"Let him breathe a bit," his father chuckled. "He's probably just a bit nervous about it being the first day of high school. It's not an easy experience for anyone."

The realization hit Arnold like a brick wall.

High School?! Is that what I forgot?!

Eyes widening, he didn't even bother to censor his tongue.

"Oh, shit."

"You'd best run up, shower, and get dressed, hun," Stella told him. "You don't want to be late for your first day."

Arnold wasted no time in heeding her words as he dashed out of the room and back upstairs, completely unaware of Phil's chuckling.

"Hehehe, he's a funny kid, Arnold."

Miles and Stella embraced with a morning kiss but not before the younger Shortman inquired of his father.

"What do you mean, Dad?"

"Nothing I haven't seen before," Phil continued to cackle. "I just hope you'll remember that when he takes his girlfriend to prom."

"Really now Phil, don't rush him," Stella said. "He won't be taking her for at least another three years. Besides, he doesn't technically turn fifteen for another few months."

It was then that Gertie stepped in, pouring more syrup on the pancakes she had whipped up, whistling a delightful tune.

"I think no matter what happens, Arnold is going to be just fine. Now, who wants a second helping before that teenager comes down here and takes the whole plate?"

Miles and Stella could only smile affectionately.

Despite the wild beginning to the morning, Arnold was considerably more upbeat as he showered, brushed his teeth, and dressed himself for the day. He had long since stopped trying to tame his feathery, unruly hair. Besides, his girlfriend liked it a certain way and he wasn't about to complain.

Truly, however, the most amazing part of his day was that he woke up to something he never believed he'd have: two loving parents who wanted what was best for him. Only God knew getting used to that wasn't easy as dreams reminded him. But it was still real, it was all real.

They're here. They've been here and under no circumstance are they going anywhere

It was easy to think but another concept to embrace. For Arnold, becoming a ninth grader was far less frightening than other past offenses done to him. Even if high school was supposedly a laborious time for any young teenager. Then again, he knew he was not an average teenager in more ways than one.

A doorbell rang as if to compound the point. Grinning to himself, he had no doubts as to who it was.

"Arnold! Gerald's here!" his mom called upstairs.

Throwing on the flannel shirt that was finally big enough to surround his frame, his backpack, and donning his usual blue hat, he raced down the stairs to a familiar sight.

Gerald Johannsen was a classic example of someone who had changed a lot and yet not at all. He was a good deal taller (taller than himself), with a slightly shorter afro along with the makings of stubble on his chin. In terms of puberty, he was certainly ahead of many of his peers. And yet the best friend that had been by his side since preschool was still there. Though he scrapped his small Scottie Pippen jersey for the newfound number eight that belonged to Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers; that was the only serious attire change.

"I thought you weren't coming down," Gerald joked. "Usually you get to the door before your mom does."

The two boys gave each other their classic handshake.

"I had some stuff going on," Arnold shrugged, though he gave a sheepish grin.

"You ready to hit the ninth grade, aka high school?"

He was just about ready to jump off the stoop and into the Hillwood city streets until a random, affectionate urge overcame him. Before leaving the boarding house, he excused himself.

"One quick thing, Gerald."

He walked back towards the kitchen where his parents were making conversation with his grandparents and gave them both enormous hugs.

"Arnold?" his father said in pleasant surprise. "At the risk of being the fourth person to ask, are you alright?"

"You have been a bit off today, sweetie," Stella laughed. "I thought teenagers didn't usually hugs their parents."

But the blond teen was so far removed from conventionality he didn't care in the slightest. The entire world could see him showing affection to the two people he loved (and missed) most. What mattered was having them here in his home…the hole was finally mended.

Of course, there was only one exception to that rule.

"Never a bad time to give a hug and say 'I love you'" he told them both. "I'll tell you everything when I get home."

"And we look forward to it son," his dad replied with a hearty grin. "Have fun, don't do anything I wouldn't-ouch! Stella!"

Despite the elbow to the ribs, his mom also gave a wide smile.

"Best of luck, honey. We'll be here when you get back."

With a final wink and cackling laugh from his grandparents, Arnold knew that everything would be okay. It had been okay for awhile now, but more than ever he carried the sense that the best was yet to come.

"See you, guys."

"Good-bye, Arnold. We will see you at dinner."

He adjusted his backpack and headed out the door, closing it for good this time without any hesitation. Gerald eyed him curiously.

"What was that about?"

"Just needed to tell a couple important people in my life how I felt about them," Arnold said with a knowing gesture. "No biggie."

Gerald gave something between a compassionate smile and a heightened smirk.

"Well, I know someone with me definitely wants to let you know how she feels."

It didn't take long to figure out who that was. Behind Gerald was a blonde girl who he had known since preschool. She kept her hair in lower pigtails right at the base of her hair, alongside a pink shirt (the dress was ditched midway through seventh grade), skinny jeans, and converse shoes. Above all, the pink bow was still firmly attacked on top of her head.

"Hiya, football head," Helga Pataki greeted with her familiar nickname, love swimming through her bright, blue eyes.

"Hey, angel," came his response.

Stepping down from the stoop, he wasted no time in seizing her waist and kissing her softly on the lips, lovestruck expressions plastered on each of their faces.

"Man oh man, have you ever seen such a lovey-dovey couple?" came Gerald's teasing voice.

"I concur, they never cease to stop enjoying each other's presence," came another familiar tone.

Helga broke away from her boyfriend. "And you'll never cease to be an enormous dork, Pheebs."

"Besides," Arnold added. "I seem to recall it was you two who were caught last year in the eight grade janitor's closet."

"Only on your recommendation," Gerald shot back but he was grinning all the same. "Phoebe and I just needed some time for ourselves, you can understand."

"We can save this debate for later," Phoebe interjected, flushing bright pink. "For now, I think it best to walk to school. It would be unwise to be jeopardize our attendance records on the first day of high school."

"God forbid," Helga snarked, though a smile was playing on her lips. "Lead the way."

The Asian girl interlocked with Gerald's as they began making their way forward. Arnold, however, looked back at the boarding house one last time before doing the same. He gazed with fondness at the home that had given him so much, so many memories throughout his life. It wouldn't be long until many more were made. For a split second, he could see it all- his parents, his grandparents, the tenants, building a life after school, marrying his sweetheart, perhaps becoming a father to a child of his own….

"Uh, earth to Arnold, everything okay in there?"

It was the fifth time the question was posed to him that day and he could say with full confidence that he was. He was more than okay and there was no trouble in admitting that.

"Better than ever," he told his girlfriend, placing his hand in hers and drawing closer. "In fact, I think I might be the luckiest guy on earth."

He placed another kiss on her lips, this one much more tender and indicative of his love. The formerly unibrowed, adolescent girl was developing into a beautiful woman right before his eyes and there was no question as to how lucky he was. He wanted to show it, and when he did Helga still melted just like she always did.

"Not as lucky as me," she whispered back, reciprocating the gesture with a deeper kiss.

"I don't know about that," he said in a light hearted, yet mischievous tone.

"We haven't even entered high school and you're already trying to make this a competition, eh football head?"

"What kind of relationship would this be, if it wasn't?"

It was Helga's turn to give a laugh, even a slight giggle.

"Why don't we find out together then?"

Fingers completely intertwined, the two blondes followed suit down the street and into the new experience that was to come. The sun was shining in the early morning and the blue sky served as a backdrop for the bright city of Hillwood.

For Arnold, all was well.