A/N:

Alright, YAY, update :D Okay, prepare for a morning's worth of awkward conversation between Arnold and Helga! They came back to his place last night, made out a little, woke up in each other's arms, and now….O.O LOL I hope you guys like this ^_^ Review please!

APRIL 2ND

Chapter 2:

The Morning After (yet again)

(because I just realized today that the second chapter of "Perfect Ten" is called "The Morning After"...Weird O.O Enjoy! :D)


Arnold processed Helga's sudden reaction of screaming and flying away from him on the boarding house den couch…and his own eyes went wide as it washed over him as well finally that…he had just woken up with somebody in his arms…Helga G. Pataki…sleeping in his arms. 'She…that wasn't a dream…She's really here. We really…We must have fallen to sleep together or…or something…' He sat up a bit, his eyes still wide, and reached out a hand, making a move to crawl toward the girl he had just woken up with. "Helga…I—"

"AH!" Helga instantly squeaked again at him coming closer like that, spazzing back and actually falling back over the arm of the couch this time and onto the floor.

Arnold instantly stood up in concern. "Helga, are you okay?" He began to walk toward her.

Helga, currently seated upon the floor in fright, facing Arnold, just scrambled back away from him, looking scared beyond all reason as she did so. "NO! Just…Stop moving! Please!" She held up a hand and waved it defensively.

Arnold instantly stopped all forward motion at her pleas, raising an eyebrow. "Helga, what is it?" he asked with a serious amount of concern at this point. 'Did I do something…? I mean, I know it was a little…surprising waking up like that…especially after last night…' He felt warm blood beginning to heat his cheeks and his thoughts begin to wander but he stopped himself, coming back to the situation at hand. 'But…why is she this upset?' For a moment, it flashed into Arnold's mind that maybe she was regretting what they had done last night and he felt a sadness sting him. What if he had taken advantage of her feelings, what if she hadn't been ready for something like what they had done yet, what if she never wanted to see him again? Oh he was ready to get down on the floor and beg her to not hate him if that was the case! "What did I do?" he asked with so much confusion.

Helga, meanwhile, indeed still upon the den floor, just swallowed and did her best to take a few breaths before replying to Arnold's question in a calm voice, trying to keep her pounding heart under control, "No, nothing, you didn't do anything. It's…" She closed her eyes for a moment to focus. "Just….give me a minute!" she finally exclaimed! "I…This isn't happening and I just need a minute to make myself wake up!" 'Wake up, wake up, wake up, oh PLEASE wake up!'

The confused and worried look remained on Arnold's face for a few seconds more…but then melted into an understanding (and relieved) smile and he unconsciously took another step toward her. "Helga…" he began again, kindly.

Her eyes flew open and she scrambled away some more at the sound of his voice and movement forward, breathing heavily once again. "NO! Stop! Don't touch me, it…it's too much!" She closed her eyes tight once more and began to almost chant to herself desperately. "We didn't come back here last night, I didn't tell you I loved you again, you didn't make some stupid joke about how if this was another confession then where was the kiss, and you didn't kiss me this time because I was completely frozen at that question, and I didn't start kissing you back and we didn't end up like that together on that couch against each other all night after a date! It—it's impossible!" She opened her eyes, fully expecting to be back in her familiar pink room…only to swallow hard with unease at the sight of the boarding house den still around her. 'Oh my…how, how do I even begin to…Oh…' Her thoughts raced.

"Well…" The sound of Arnold's voice starting to speak again caused Helga's wide eyes to snap up to the sight of him now sitting back down on the couch, not coming near her again as per her request. He had a small grin on his face and his wide head rested in one of his hands as he went on, watching her warmly, "Well, if all that really was a dream, Helga, then we must have had the same one because that's pretty much how I remember last night after we came back here…" Helga felt heat flood her face at the sight of the warm blush that then crept into Arnold's features at this little attempt at a joke. He glanced away with a little shy smile.

Helga just watched him for several more seconds, allowing her breathing to calm once more, and then finally, shakily managed to stand up, eyeing him cautiously the whole time. "So…" she began hesitantly, taking a very small step back toward him and the couch, "So we really both, um…that all really happened? And this is real now too…Arnold?" She swallowed and then barely managed to sit on her end of the couch again, though she kept herself pressed against its arm in order to remain as far away from her beloved as possible: considering the situation, even the idea of she and Arnold touching or being close in any way seemed highly likely to make her explode with nervousness, and she didn't want to take any chances. 'I cannot believe I did that last night. I cannot believe I was that bold. I cannot believe I…I…Did I technically make out with Arnold? OH, I…How could I let myself get that carried away? He…I…Oh!'

Arnold glanced up at Helga's questions and their eyes met. He swallowed hard, unable to break away from her expectant gaze and yet at the same time now feeling as well, at her return closer to him, a touch of that panic she herself had been expressing at their proximity. "Well…um…yes…" he began in reply and felt himself blush furiously as he suddenly found himself adding in confirmation of her summary of the night before, "You confessed again and this time I…kissed you...and then I guess we both got a little carried away and then fell asleep…together…" He gulped and glanced away again.

Not hearing her say anything back to him for a few seconds, Arnold managed to glance over at Helga once more out of the corner of his eye…only to be met with a quite disappointed and sad look upon her face. He was about to question it, when suddenly she replied to him, obviously trying to sound casual, "Oh…kind of like a…a heat of the moment thing…?" Helga awaited an answer to the question with bated breath. 'Okay so my theory about all of last night just being a dream is out the window…But come on, even though it really did happen, I KNOW him—he's going to want to take it back. He was just loopy from the pool fumes and from me planting another epic one on him like that all of a sudden last night after he gave me that little peck on the lips…Yes, he'll say it was all heat of the moment and then I'll go home and we'll resume our normal lives. Plain and simple…Right?'

Arnold, however, luckily realized, thanks to Helga's very specific phrasing of her latest question, exactly what she was trying to ask and what she might be getting at…and so did his best to answer truthfully with a swallow…and a small shake of his head. "I don't…I don't think so…Not really, Helga…And even if it was all in the heat of the moment, I'd…I'd want to do it again…" And then he looked right into her eyes and stated plainly and simply, "I wanted to hear you say it again, Helga...that you love me…and I wanted kiss you…both of them for a while now actually…" The blushing returned and he glanced down shyly again. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable though…If you want I can see if my Grandpa's up and he can take you ho—" Arnold stopped and felt his breath catch in his throat at the feeling of Helga's lips suddenly upon his cheek.

They were removed in an instant, leaving a warm impression behind on his skin that made Arnold's heart flutter and a happiness well up inside of him. "Um…thanks…Helga…" was all he could reply with a goofy grin. 'She believes me…and she's next to me again…I made her feel better…' He was so grateful he could have laughed.

"Hey, I…" Helga started casually, now sitting next to him, obviously trying to sound sarcastic though her tone was sweeter than anything else, "I just wanted to shut you up with all the apologizing and junk. Crimeny, you're such a Football Head!" 'He…It wasn't…And he wanted…It's…a miracle.' She could have cried and now just hoped, hoped, hoped that no stupid ringing phone or stupid alarm clock or stupid call from downstairs from Bob or Miriam would wake her up, leaving her in the pink blankets of her bed alone…She hoped with all of her heart that being seated upon a cozy blanket on this couch with Arnold was really real instead…and in her heart she knew it was…and that fact filled her all the more with joy.

Arnold smiled at Helga and Helga smiled at Arnold…sitting next to one another together in happy quiet upon the boarding house couch in their suit and dress respectively…What a lovely way to end a date.

A second or two more passed and then suddenly both children couldn't help squinting as a little more morning sunlight filtered into the room through the window in front of them. Arnold instantly recalled how it had woken them up and Helga's complaint about it. "Oh, um…let me shut the blinds…" he offered politely and then stood and walked across the room to perform this task…more concerned though with using the chore to try and give himself a few seconds to think now that his trance of smiling and gazing into Helga's eyes had been broken for a moment. After all it had been a pretty full night…and this whole 'morning after' thing probably had to be handled delicately (if her nearly scrambling away in fear before had been any indication). 'So do I…' his innocent, panicked young thoughts began, 'Are we…boyfriend and girlfriend now or something? I-I mean...' he felt heat flood his face at the idea, 'She told me she loved me again and my first reaction was to kiss her! But…I don't…I mean…love? I…I don't even know what that is?' Needless to say, after a full night's sleep, Arnold was thinking a bit more with his head than his heart right now. And yet a slightly dreamy look couldn't help come to his face as he added to himself sincerely, 'But I do like her…a lot. And I like that she loves me…a lot. And I liked our date…A LOT.'

And then he had to try very hard not to chuckle as he added, finally reaching the window and offending blinds, 'And I even kind of like that I…got to figure out exactly what she was doing with that pillow in her bed last week when she was dreaming about me…It's even better kissing her when we hold each other like that….' He actually let out a sigh at the memory …her arms coming around him snugly and how nervous and scared and excited it had all made him… eventually hugging her close just as she hugged him…The warm blanket around them…Kissing her in the semi darkness of the room as the night had gone on…A mixture of smiling, laughing, sighing …their hearts beating against each other and feeling so…so perfectly right… And then at one point how it had made him feel…how it had made him almost…shiver, was the only word for it, really…when, lost in things after a while, Helga had suddenly pulled her lips back just a little and whispered his name softly and happily for no reason. And he'd been going to say hers back to her but her lips had descended to his suddenly once again and then the next thing he recalled was waking up now…

Arnold began to adjust the blinds almost automatically, his head was so bogged with memories of his night with Helga G. Pataki in his arms.

And along with these memories, it also interested Arnold how he hadn't fully realized and accepted it until then but being with her and really talking with her and kissing her was what he had been wanting to do this entire week when Helga had frustrated him so very much by going back to pretending to hate him following her birthday… It was like something had released when they had both just given in to it all last night…and for the first time in seven days Arnold could finally breathe. And also, well…he didn't exactly have any complaints about the simple fact that he had spent the hour or two before falling sleep yesterday evening locked in deep, tender kisses with Helga G. Pataki, in general. 'Last night was even better than that dream I had about her and the confession last weekend…and I didn't think anything could feel better than that…' He had to almost laugh at the fact that a week ago he had been all but terrified of liking kissing Helga in real life just as much as he liked kissing her in his dream…and now he liked the real life stuff even more! And it made him happy! Who could have guessed?

Without really thinking (and with a very dazed look on his face at this point) Arnold finished up the motions of adjusting the blinds and then turned back to the couch and was about to shuffle back over in his dreamy state…when he stopped and blinked at and unexpected sight suddenly before him. Helga was still sitting upon the couch but now she had head resting in one of her hands…and she looked like she was in serious, deep thought about something.

"Helga?" Arnold asked, an eyebrow raised.

She didn't make a motion of having heard him.

He approached, an arm outstretched. "Helga?" he tried again.

The motion forward combined with her name again from her beloved's lips caused Helga to finally look up and blush slightly as she realized she had obviously gotten a little lost in her thoughts. "Oh! Uh…sorry, Arnold…I was just…thinking about some things and I…" She swallowed and glanced down. "Well, I mean, I've never really considered… 'the morning after,' I guess you'd call it…I-I mean…I've imagined you reacting to all of this love stuff by, um…by kissing me among other things but…I never thought about what would happen later…" She actually smiled as she added, looking back up at him, "My dreams always end when we're kissing after the confession—it's like a curse or something." She shook her head at the irony. "A-anyway," she started hesitantly, "I was just trying to consider my options here…I think this might be the first time in my life when I haven't had a plan of action, you know? Helga G. Pataki at a crossroads…heh, heh…"

Arnold couldn't help but smile as he took one more small step towards her (recalling her panic at his approaching too quickly before). "Oh…well, do you…have any ideas since it's, um, 'later'?" he asked in a tone that was both playful and understanding. And in truth he was just a little curious about what she was thinking of doing next…both as her friend and…maybe as something else too…

"Actually," Helga began in a somewhat flat tone, rather unexpectedly, a small frown upon her face, "I think I should take a hint from my dreams and…leave…" She stood.

Arnold blinked, his eyes instantly going wide. "No!" Forgetting trying to give her some space, he instantly ran toward her and clasped one of Helga's hands in his own. "Please! Don't go!"

Helga's breath caught in her throat at the sudden action, her eyes going very wide and just staring into his own. For a moment Arnold thought she'd comply in an instant…but then she managed to get out in explanation (though it was obviously a struggle for her to maintain her resistance to his plea), "A-Arnold…l-listen, I…I know you…You can be even more of a hopeless romantic than me, and…and that's saying something…" She swallowed. "There's every chance in the world here that you're just caught up in the date and my confession and the kissing…just blinded by it all…Because no one could forget that quickly the seven years of torture I put them through…Even you. So…" She made a very weak attempt at moving her hand away from his, but it was so small that Arnold didn't even notice and so just kept holding it firmly with his own, "So I think I should leave before…" Helga went on, "Before I get my hopes up too much…before we both get too carried away with stuff…before we get hurt…" A touch of sadness came into those wide blue eyes as she finished. "Please, Arnold…I know you don't owe it to me after everything I've done to you over the years but PLEASE…let me go…"

In a second Arnold had released Helga's hand…but it was only to suddenly grab hold of her shoulders, looking at her desperately. "No, I…please, Helga, I don't want you to be unhappy but I…" He glanced around almost in fear, "How can I prove to you that…that the date and the confession and the kissing are nice but…" His face fell into that dreamy look again as he finished. "But the only reason they've all been so great is because…because they've all been with you." He swallowed and looked her right in the eye. "How can I show you that I care about you and not just those other things so that you'll stay? Please, Helga—I'll do anything! I just don't want this to be over—this whole past week it's been over, like nothing happened between us, and it was driving me crazy! I…" He was finally at a loss for words and blushing quite a bit as well now as he realized just how dramatic his little speech was starting to get. He removed his hands from her and put them behind himself, taking a small step back again, "Please Helga…" Arnold finished shyly, "Just…let me know what I need to do or say…to make you want to stay…okay?"

Helga just remained standing there in front of the couch, just as she had been the entire time Arnold had been speaking, looking at him fearfully and with confusion and with surprise, her eyes so very wide and her mouth slightly agape. Part of her couldn't help but wonder if this was how Arnold had felt when she had suddenly grabbed him on that roof last weekend and screamed the truth about her feelings in his face….

And then she got an idea.

The only idea Helga could come up with that would test how convinced Arnold really was that he actually cared about her and not just about having another romantic tryst in his life, another girl to give his affectionate little heart to, only this time one who would take it in an instant.

She swallowed, took a breath, gathered her courage…and hoped this wouldn't be as bad as it could be…and it could get pretty ugly, when you got right down to it.

"Okay…" she began.

Arnold's eyes lit up and he sprung forward and hugged her close for a second and then pulled back to look into her eyes once more, his own eyes brimming with hope and happiness. "Really? Oh thank you, Helga, I—"

Helga held up a hand, scowling now, and cut him off. "Not 'okay I'm staying'… 'Okay, I'll let you know what you need to do to convince me that it's me you like and not just what we've been through for the past week'…Understand, Arnold?" She swallowed, obviously a little nervous.

Arnold blinked and looked at her a little unsurely at this explanation. But then removed his hands from her shoulders once again (blushing a little at all this touching he couldn't help but find himself doing to her), and let out a breath. "Oh…" Finally he walked past her and sat next to her upon his end of the couch once more. He brought his eyes to hers with an understanding smile…and then nodded. "Okay…" 'Alright. This is all really important to her. It makes sense that she wants to make sure…' "Well, what…I mean…what do you need me to—"

Helga cut him off again, looking at him firmly…or at least trying to despite the touch of insecurity in her eyes. "Arnold…" she explained simply, "Last night we didn't really 'talk' like we said we were going to do….We just stalled by eating some ice cream and then I just couldn't think of a way to open up the conversation so I settled on 'I love you, Arnold' and then you made a joke and we kissed until we fell asleep. That was just more romance…no truth. Nothing real. So, you, Arnold…" she swallowed again, but tried to still seem strong, "You are going to listen to me tell you some of the truth…the real truth…about me and you, and then we'll see just how much you still want me to stick around."

Arnold couldn't help the curious and perplexed look now upon his face as Helga finished announcing this strange condition she had as part of not suddenly running away going back to hiding under the bully persona until who knew when. Still, though, now that she had finished, he had to let out a breath and cross his arms over his chest and give her a slight look, wanting to make at least one thing perfectly clear before she admitted whatever it was she seemed to believe she needed to admit right now. "Helga, there's nothing you could say that would make me hate you…there hasn't been for seven years…But if it's what you want then okay, you're right: we really didn't do much talking last night…" he couldn't help but blush, "But we can talk now…" He let out a breath and put his hands at his sides, and then just smiled at her, waiting for her to begin.

Helga's face softened just a tiny bit at his words…but then she quickly shook her head, the scowl resetting itself upon her face. She took a breath, shut her eyes tight…and began in a level voice with the first thing that popped into her head. "I sabotaged your dates with Lila and Ruth at the last two Cheese Festivals."

She opened her eyes fearfully and looked to Arnold.

He was just watching her, his eyes open but not unusually wide, a blank expression on his face.

She waited a few seconds, looking searchingly into his eyes, for a reaction. He still didn't say anything though…almost like he was actually waiting for her to go on…

'Fine, he wants more, I'll give him more…' She plowed on. "Those few days last year when you'd lost your hat…I had it most of that time. I found it and I would have kept it if you hadn't gone over the deep end with depression."

She waited again. He was still just looking at her though, still just watching her in that same way…waiting for her to go on…

'Why isn't he telling me off? Why is it like he wants me to go on humiliating myself!' She was getting more worked up! She leaned forward toward him, looking at him desperately, her voice rising in pitch. "I've snuck into this house…into your room before to keep my secret. Like when I lost one of my pink poetry books and you and stupid tall hair boy found it. Or when you found that parrot that had one of my poems memorized…Or when your pig took my…locket with your picture in it!"

He had leaned back a little at her leaning in, but otherwise Arnold just continued watching her with wide eyes and a blank look.

"Grrr!" Her scowl was back in full force. "I connived my way into getting the part of Juliet in the school play so that I could kiss you—I had to lie and sabotage four other girls!"

That admission managed to make a slight blush come to Arnold's face but otherwise still no blow-up…and it was driving Helga mad! 'Why is he just looking at me like that! I'm telling him I've lied, I've manipulated, I've broken in and he's just…sitting there!'

Starting to lose her judgment a little as she let her temper flair, Helga suddenly ripped the ribbon from her hair and ran her hands through her pigtails, flipping her hair forward and then back so that it was now down, a piece falling over one of her eyes. "I tricked you into going on a date with me last Valentine's Day disguised as your stupid French pen pal, Arnold! Crimeny, tell me I'm insane and kick me out like I deserve!" She grabbed him by the collar, desperately pulling him in…because there was just no way…just no way that there was a chance that he might actually…might actually love her back just a little too…and even despite everything she'd done to him over the years on top of it all! "Say SOMETHING, Football Head!" she yelled at last, tears nearly in her eyes!

"I…" he finally managed in sudden surprise at her exclamation and at her now holding him by the collar like this, "I'm sorry, Helga I…I was just…waiting for the bad thing…You know, whatever part of the truth you think would make me hate you…W-Was what you just said all, though?" He swallowed, his heart racing in confusion and surprise. 'So…she's liked me for a while and got jealous sometimes and tried very hard to keep her secret…and tricked me into another date once just like she did last night…and into a kiss once.' That part still couldn't help but make him blush of course, though it certainly wasn't making him feel anger or anything. 'Why would she think that any of that would make me hate her…?' At the back of his mind, Arnold couldn't help but be reminded of the moment back on the FTi building just after he had discovered Helga's identity as Deep Voice when she had seemed almost ashamed of getting caught helping him…like she'd thought he would be annoyed or angry with her or something for caring about him that much.

At his question, meanwhile, Arnold watched as Helga took another deep breath or so and her eyes went wide almost in confusion, it seemed. Instantly though, she shook her head and the scowl was back and she firmed up her grip on him a bit more. 'He…He doesn't even see anything wrong with all that stuff. I lied to him for years and he's just okay with it!' She looked him right in the eye, "Oh…Oh I hate you, you stupid Football Head!" And with these hysterical words suddenly Helga lunged forward and crushed her lips into Arnold's for several intense seconds, digging her fingers fervently into his collar as she did so! She pulled back breathing heavily, still scowling. "I hate how always have to be so kind and forgiving and how you never get angry at me! How you always think there's something good in me!" She lunged forward again, giving him yet another small but intense kiss, and breaking it after a few seconds, breathing heavily once more. "Any sane guy would be telling me to get the heck out of his house but you're just sitting there asking when I'm going to get to the 'bad part'…! You always have to see the good in everyone all the time don't you? Always!" She planted another quick, deep kiss upon his lips and then pulled back yet again. "And the worst part is…" her scowl was gone, pure desperation in its place, "The worst part is it makes me love you even more!" She kissed him passionately again, this time lingering just a bit, feeling her love overwhelm her. She pulled away when she was done and then started giving small kisses to his mouth as she added in a much softer voice, her arms wrapped around his head and neck now, "You stupid…do gooder…wonderful…crazy….you—" She was definitely getting close to returning them to their situation from last night…kiss after kiss after kiss together on Arnold's couch.

"Helga."

She was stopped and her eyes went wide as she suddenly felt Arnold's arms come around her as this time he was the one to lunge forward for a kiss before she could plant her next one on him. His action was gentle but firm and so warm and he moved forward gradually until she was laying back against the arm of the couch…and she felt that intense rush of passion she'd just had calming…a sigh escaped her nose. 'Mmm…' She had never felt anything calm her like that before in her entire life. Her emotions had been on fire and now…she felt like she was floating in cool water.

At the feeling of this sigh leaving the girl in his grasp, Arnold gently separated their lips and then released Helga, moving back on the couch to give her a little space. He watched as she just lay there, her head resting against the arm of the couch, her eyes closed, her breathing slowing…her blonde hair fanning behind her…Arnold gulped. He'd never noticed before but it looked so soft and beautiful, that hair…especially like that… He almost wanted to reach out and lightly touch just a piece of it, just to feel it for himself…

Arnold took a very deep breath and opened his mouth now to quickly and quietly explain his sudden kiss to her (all the while blushing considerably and just doing his best to ignore that strange compulsion he'd just felt to…to all but run his fingers through Helga's hair!) "Sorry, Helga…you, um…you were getting a little hysterical and…that was the only way I could think of to calm you down a little so we could talk more…" He looked to her very unsurely, hoping he hadn't done anything wrong with his action.

Helga's eyes slowly fluttered open at his words and she swallowed and then slowly managed to sit up a little. "Sorry, um…Arnold…I…" She closed her eyes for a second and let out another deep breath, then opened them once more and went on, "I have a tendency to get a little carried away about all of this…You remember my confession, heh, heh…" She half smiled and glanced down, and her eyes fell upon her ribbon. She picked it up and started redoing her hair. "It's just…I guess I'm just a little…scared…" She blushed a bit at the word, finishing up her second pigtail.

"Scared?" Arnold had to raise an eyebrow. He had never heard Helga G. Pataki admit to being scared in her entire life. Ever.

Helga swallowed and glanced at him hesitantly. "Uh…yeah… I…It's just, I never…Oh…" She scowled slightly again, crossing her arms over her chest. "Well, Crimeny, Football Head, you're sitting there more than okay with the fact that I love you and saying you don't mind that I'm the weirdest person on the planet and on top of it all you keep…you keep kissing me for Pete's sake!" She blushed a lot and looked down again. "The whole thing's so confusing it's practically terrifying!"

"But…I like kissing you, Helga…" Arnold couldn't help but assure from beside her with a small smile on his face and his eyes now a little half lidded…gazing at her just a little lovingly. "If last night didn't prove that to you then I don't know what could…"

Helga's eyes instantly flew open wide and whipped to face him as his words processed! Her heart pounded wildly! "Arnold! Stop it! Stop doing that to me!" She was breathing heavily and feeling in so much confusion! Arnold…saying he liked kissing her…making some cute little flirtatious joke about it all…How could this be reality?

"Doing what?" Arnold just asked sincerely and almost in amusement. 'I still don't understand why she keeps acting like that…She loves me and I…kind of like her…and I like kissing her…I really do…What's so wrong about that?'

"Grr!" Helga rolled her eyes and spread out her arms before her in an emphatic gesture. "Stop SAYING things like that randomly, paste for brains!" she explained! "It…" a touch of panic came into her eyes, "It makes me feel…" she swallowed and turned shyly away to face forward again, playing with her hands in her lap, "It's weird….Like I…Like I don't know how I'm supposed to feel when you act like you've been acting, but I'm feeling something anyway and…it…" a small smile came to her face, "It feels really really…really…good…" A small sigh escaped her and she was lost in bits of poetic, enamored thought for several seconds…Suddenly, though, she shook her head to clear it and looked back to Arnold once more. "I…I'm not used to it…" she finally finished shyly and unsurely. And she really was just so very confused about everything that had happened during this past week…Confessing to him so randomly, their kisses, their date last night…and the fact that it had seemed to continue on into this morning, which was just about the unbelievable 'icing' on the unbelievable 'cake'!

Arnold took a second or two to absorb the explanations and doubts of the unsure girl beside him… "Well…" he then began quietly and with a little shrug, still smiling next to her, "I'm not used to having someone 'not hate' me…but…" He looked into her eyes, "I've been getting used to it… So maybe you just need a little more time to get used to me…well…not hating you too…"

A second passed…

And then the eyes of both children instantly went wide simultaneously! Helga's jaw dropped in shock and Arnold just stared forward in surprise as the implication of his words sunk in. "I mean…" he quickly squeaked out, trying not to panic and trying to find the words to clarify things as quickly as possible, "I mean…I didn't mean me 'not hating you' in the same way that you 'don't hate' me, necessarily, but…I just meant me not …me actually kind of liking you…I mean, I've always liked you but, you know…a lot now…" He swallowed and tugged at his collar. Was it getting hot in here? "I mean, not that 'not hating' you the same way you 'don't hate' me would be a bad thing but…I, uh…" Finally he just let out a breath and collapsed backwards onto the couch, a hand coming to his forehead. "Oh boy…I…I'm sorry Helga, let me try that again, okay? I mean…"

He was stopped by the feeling of one of Helga's hands coming to rest upon his shoulder. She let out a sigh from beside him, and Arnold heard her begin in an understanding voice. "Arnold…It's okay…I get it. You're confused and a little nervous." His eyes turned to take in the unusual sight of her smiling warmly at him. "Relax, Football head…" she chuckled a little, "And anyway if you actually did say 'I love you' to me after only a week and a single date I really don't think I could handle it, to be honest…I mean, I can barely handle you not yelling at me and tossing me out of here, for crying out loud, right?"

Arnold had to smile and even chuckle a little at the joke despite his nerves and Helga joined him in the small laugh as well. And he felt a lot better. "Sorry, Helga…" he began again, though in a much calmer voice now, "But I just…I just wish you'd stop acting like it's impossible for someone to care about you…You're a really…" that dreamy look was coming back to his face, "A really wonderful person, Helga…A really wonderful girl…" He reached forward and gently picked up her hand and before he could stop himself he laid his lips upon the back of it in a kiss.

Not having expected this reaction to her comforting him at all, Helga blinked and blushed at the feeling of Arnold's lips on her skin again, and in such a romantic gesture as kissing the back of her hand once more in their lives. And then she just…smiled…and tried not to swoon in delight…any compulsion to pull away out of fear being completely overwhelmed by love. "A-Arnold…" she gave a small giggle, "I…I told you, nice and slow now…This is all a little much for me…" Despite the small plea for him to stop though, the tone of her voice was light and pleased…her eyes slowly closing.

Arnold gently separated his lips from the back of her hand and released it lightly, looking up with a chuckle at her face. "Sorry, Helga…" he said shyly, but still with a smile, obviously aware that even though she had to get used to it she was rather liking this new status quo between them. 'She's…shy about all of this…' It was the single most adorable and cute thing he'd ever come across in his entire life: a shy Helga G. Pataki.

At his cute little 'apology' Helga couldn't help giving in to a bunch of giggles this time around. "Arnold…" she cooed in the lightest voice imaginable, her eyes still closed…and then she sighed…or rather swooned…

"Helga?" Arnold had to raise an eyebrow, so very intrigued at the sudden change in the sound of her voice…a change that had made his heart skip a beat. Oh this was all so weird…but he didn't want to be afraid of it anymore. Being afraid of it…wouldn't get anything done about it. Besides, having these feelings around Helga wasn't so very bad or strange once you got used to it…It was starting to feel pretty natural as a matter of fact. And he wanted the chance to explore it all a bit while she was still here and willing. "Helga…" Arnold tried again, still smiling…hating to disturb her from her small, love induced trance but wanting to talk to her more just the same. He reached over and touched her hand again, allowing his palm to rest on it on the couch.

"Huh?" Helga opened her eyes and blinked a couple of times, finally coming back to reality (and out of the million beautiful images that had been going through her mind just now of each and all of the heavenly kisses she had received from her beloved over this last week right up until this very moment…and how she craved a lifetime more of them) at the return of Arnold's touch "Oh, uh…Heh, heh…" She gulped at these intimate thoughts and looked at Arnold sheepishly, doing her best to really stay focused on the here and now, "S-Sorry I zoned out there a little, Football Head… Told you…sometimes I can get a little carried away with all this stuff…" She shrugged.

Arnold just chuckled at her fluster and at the dreamy look that had just been on her face for so many seconds…and all because of him, of all things. "Don't be sorry, Helga…" he assured her, holding her hand a little more closely, "Besides, I…haven't really gotten the chance to hear that…that really nice way you have of speaking…ever since you confessed…You know…when your voice gets light and airy and…loving…" He closed his eyes for a second and took in a breath and released it in a shuddery sigh, letting that way she could speak work it's magic on him, once again without any fear. 'It's light and delicate and so sweet…like she's speaking right from her heart…Like bells…' "I…like how it sounds…a lot…" His eyes then opened and he blushed quite a bit, glancing down shyly as he realized how ridiculous that all probably was, "That sounds stupid, doesn't it? Sorry, Helga."

Helga, however, just giggled, and she held his hand a little closer too now. "Now who's apologizing unnecessarily, Football Head?" she merely asked coyly.

Arnold laughed as well and brought his eyes over to meet hers…and the two of them just kept gazing at each other and smiling…

And smiling…

And smiling…

And maybe leaning in a little…

"Hey, kids, good morning!"

"AH!" Helga's scream and her subsequent jump up and into her beloved's arms was the result of Phil suddenly entering the den with a smile on his face and carrying a large breakfast tray.

"Oh, sorry, didn't mean to scare you kids… Was I interrupting something?" the old man managed to ask with a sly grin and without bursting into too much laughter.

Arnold was just breathing quite a bit heavily not only at his grandfather's unexpected arrival (and at having just been interrupted from that whole 'leaning in a little' thing), but at the fact that Helga was now sitting on his lap in his arms, all but clinging to him. He looked up to his grandfather and after a second of catching his breath and managed to reply nervously, "Uh…no, Grandpa, we, uh…we were just talking and you surprised us…" He blushed a little and looked away shyly…and tried to ignore the feeling of Helga's arms around his neck…and the feeling of his own arms under her legs and around her waist and back.

"Ah, I see," Phil began, his grin only becoming wryer. He lowered the covered tray to the coffee table before the kids. "Well, I just thought you two might like some breakfast before the boarders get at it…"

Arnold swallowed and brought his eyes back to Phil. "Oh uh…thanks, Grandpa…"

Helga, swallowing as well, finally managed to nod and say weakly (also just barely bringing up her eyes to look at the old man), "Uh…yeah…thanks, Arnold's Grandpa…"

Phil just laughed warmly, straightening up and waving Helga off with a grin. "Oh call me Phil, Helga…Arnold's girlfriend is practically like family around here! Heh, heh…!"

Helga blushed very furiously and then instantly recalled that she was still in Arnold's arms and had basically spent the night in said arms after a date. She quickly released her grip on him and then stood and removed herself to the other end of the couch, sitting down shyly. "I…uh…I…" She wasn't even sure where to begin. She had never faced the situation of someone talking about her love for Arnold so bluntly. And being called Arnold's…girlfriend… 'N-No, I…' And yet…But… She wondered what Arnold would say.

The boy beside her, meanwhile, seeing her obvious embarrassment, cleared his throat and came to the rescue. "Grandpa, we're…Um…could we talk about this later?" He gestured with his eyes to the kitchen door, doing his best to silently ask his grandfather if he and Helga could be left alone for a bit…and hoping Grandpa wouldn't have even more fun teasing him about this obvious request.

Phil just suppressed a laugh at the back of his throat and then gave Arnold a big, obvious wink, milking this for all it was worth. "Oh, I suppose, Shortman…A little privacy, eh? Knew you had it in you to be a regular ladies man if only you really tried!" (Arnold, meanwhile, was just currently 'trying' not to die from embarrassment!) Phil crossed his arms over his chest, ignoring his grandson's furious blushing. "But anyway, I just wanted to help things along: after all, when the girl did you the honor of being your date and spending the whole night here, the least you could do is give her breakfast…Heh, heh!" Suddenly his eyes lit up. "Oh I almost forgot—the juice! Be right back kids!" And with that he was off like a shot back into the kitchen.

Arnold and Helga just glanced away from each other, blushing quite a bit. "Um…" Arnold started, clearing his throat and looking to her shyly, "Sorry about that, Helga. He, uh… likes teasing, so..."

Helga swallowed and brought her eyes back over to Arnold's as well, and reassured him shyly, "No, it…don't worry about it, Football Head. It's just…no one ever called me your girlfriend before…I actually never even thought about that word in the past—just that I loved you." She swallowed, gathered her courage…and then asked as casually as possible in a light little squeak, "Am I?"

Arnold blinked, dense little thing that he was. "Are you what, Helga?"

She almost had to laugh at his denseness. "Y-your, uh…your…gi-girlfr—"

"Here's the juice, kids!" Phil suddenly entered again, this time with a tall glass of orange juice, and placed it upon the coffee table between the two kids, and then (of course) leaned over and placed two bendy straws in the single glass. "There we go. Enjoy, you two! And just let me or Arnold's Grandma know if you need anything else!" He straightened up and gave another sly smile. "Oh and sorry about the pancakes…Arnold's Grandma tends to mix up Holidays—thinks it's Valentine's day, heh, heh! See you later, kids!" And with that and a wink he returned to the kitchen, leaving them alone again.

Arnold's eyes rested on the single glass with two straws, and then he just let out a deep sigh, rolling his eyes at his grandfather's efforts to further embarrass himself and Helga.

Arnold quickly forgot his embarrassment though as he recalled that before they had been interrupted yet again just now, Helga had had a question…and one that had seemed rather important to her from how much her voice had cracked when asking it. He turned back to the once again blushing girl beside him, her eyes just staring widely at the glass with two straws. "Um…sorry again, Helga… Did, um…Did you have something you wanted to ask me?"

Her eyes flew to him, and Helga almost automatically opened her mouth as though about to speak but then stopped herself and took a nervous breath. "Uh…" she swallowed, "Uh…why don't we eat some breakfast first…I'm starved!" She just…didn't have it in her right now to try bringing up the question again. Not just yet. Not after a night/morning like this one…and at least not on an empty stomach.

Arnold just looked at her curiously. "Oh…okay." And then something clicked and Arnold almost couldn't bear the heat that flooded his face…as he kind of got an idea about what Helga might have been about to ask, now that he really thought about it…But if she was willing to wait on a big question like that, he certainly wasn't about to push it himself. And it really was a big question. Maybe after they ate something or took the rest of the day to think a little bit, it would be easier to tackle. With a small nod to himself at this decision, the football headed young man turned back to the breakfast tray on the coffee table, reached forward and lifted up the lid…

…Only to be met with the sight of a plate containing two heart-shaped pancakes, with a line of syrup over them like a cupid arrow going through them, and a pat of butter right in the center of each.

Arnold let out another slightly frustrated sigh at his grandfather's continuing prank, and addressed Helga again. "Sorry, Helga…I can get us something else if you want…" His eyes turned to her…and he had to drop the tray lid to the floor with a clatter at the sight they fell upon.

Helga was just sitting there, now staring wide eyed at the pancakes, her jaw dropped…and she almost seemed to have tears in her eyes.

"Helga!" Arnold's heart…actually felt like it cracked a little, and he'd never felt such an intense feeling in his entire life! He instantly grabbed her shoulders and did his best to turn her face toward his. "Are you okay? What's wrong? Is it the breakfast?" He looked at her compassionately. "I'm sorry, Helga, I'll fix it I prom—" He was cut off by the feeling of Helga suddenly jerking forward and wrapping her arms around him in the tightest hug imaginable.

Arnold just took several deep breaths, not sure how to respond to this move or what had even brought it on in the first place! It felt like she was clinging to him for dear life, with all the strength and love she had!

"Oh Arnold!" she suddenly announced, "No, it…Don't touch it. It's perfect! I…I couldn't have made anything better myself! It's…" She pulled away again, looking at him with a smile and tears seriously in her eyes at this point. "I'm sorry, Football Head, I told you I can get a little emotional about this stuff…" She took a deep breath to calm herself and then released her grasp on him and shyly put her hands back in her lap. "But, please…don't feel bad about the breakfast, Arnold. At all! It's…it's really sweet of your Grandpa and Grandma…" She smiled warmly at him. "And also, well…I can't think of any better end to a date with you than a romantic breakfast together…" Her eyes went wide again and she blushed, glancing down. "If, um…if you're okay with it, of course…Arnold…"

Arnold just blinked at her explanation…and then smiled at her last point…smiled so very happily. A romantic breakfast together…Had any girl more sweet and caring and cute ever existed in the world? "I…wouldn't mind a nice breakfast together, Helga…" he assured her truthfully.

A truly grateful and happy look came to Helga's face at those words, and her eyes lit up like stars! 'He wouldn't mind a nice breakfast together…Oh be still, my beating heart!' "Well…okay, then… Let's eat up, Football Head!" A bit of her normal, confident tone was back, and it made Arnold happy to see her feeling a little more comfortable with him. "Besides, I am starving and this smells great!" She rubbed her hands together in anticipation, and then grabbed one of the forks and dug into one of the pancakes before them.

Arnold chuckled, picking up his own fork to join her. "Whatever you say, Helga…" He took a bite as well, swallowing.

A few seconds later, both of them were a little too distracted with their own thoughts and eating to realize as they reached for the single glass of juice between them on the table at the exact same time.

Arnold and Helga gasped at the feeling of their fingertips touching as their hands wrapped around opposite sides of the glass. Their eyes went wide as they pulled back and looked down at the glass and then to each other in surprise.

"Oh…" Arnold began with a swallow, "Sorry, Helga, I…"

"No, no…" she started herself, smiling nervously, "It was bound to happen since there's only one glass, heh, heh…"

Arnold cleared his throat and lifted up the glass and offered it to Helga. "Here…you drink first."

Helga was about to take the glass and thank him…when she couldn't help but feel a sudden, small compulsion to be a little bold…and so suggested, blushing like crazy, "O-Or…I mean, there's two straws so we could, um…drink at the same time…" She finished getting out the words with a cringe, expecting that this would be a little much for Arnold. 'But at least this'll help test the waters a bit…' She recalled the only other time they had shared a drink together like that: a chocolate milkshake in the cafeteria during those few, brief, glorious days when Arnold had pretended to be her boyfriend to make Lila jealous during his cousin Arnie's visit. 'If Arnold goes along with this now then he's got to at least maybe actually really 'like me' like me or something…' She tried not to let her heart explode at the unimaginable idea.

Helga watched as Arnold, still holding up the glass, blushed and blinked and swallowed…and then glanced down…and spoke…with a nod! "Oh, um…well…sure. We could…we could do that." 'You can handle drinking with Helga at the same time, you can handle drinking with Helga at the same time…' It probably seemed silly getting all worked up about something like this after having spent a night making out and sleeping cuddled with the girl in question but it was just…such a 'couples' thing to do, drinking out of the same glass. Being part of a 'couple' with Helga G. Pataki…. 'I can do this…'

"Really?" Helga squeaked out in disbelief, taking him out of his thoughts. "I mean, o-okay…" she went on, smiling nervously at him.

And then, doing her best to maintain, Helga slowly went forward to one of the straws and, likewise doing his best to maintain, Arnold slowly went forward to one of the straws…she closed her eyes and he closed his as their lips wrapped around their respective straws…and they took a sip simultaneously.

Finishing, Helga pulled away quickly and she looked to Arnold to see his reaction. She watched as, blushing considerably, Arnold slowly pulled back from the glass as well and then swallowed the juice in his mouth. He placed the glass down on the table…and looked at her with wide eyes. "Was…Was that okay, Helga?" His voice was so very quiet and unsure.

Helga had to raise part of her brow at the random question…but then felt herself starting to smile as she realized he was wondering if he had done something as simple as drinking from the same cup as her correctly. If she had liked it. She let out a relieved breath that he hadn't freaked out on her or anything and then reached over and gave him a light punch on the shoulder. "Yeah, you did it right, Head Boy! Meanwhile, sheesh, you'd think you'd have more confidence in yourself…" she blushed a bit, adding, "You picked up on the kissing thing quick enough, after all…Something like this should be much simpler by comparison."

Arnold blushed so very much at her bringing up the kissing almost casually like that! And so bluntly! "Oh, uh…thank you, Helga." He couldn't think of anything else to say (although…something popped into his mind to 'do'… Did he dare?)

And then Helga watched with interest as Arnold swallowed…seemed to consider something…and then glanced away began in a voice obviously trying to sound confident as he…scooched just a smidge closer to her, "Um…and speaking of that… you have a little, um…syrup on the corner of your mouth…" He absolutely couldn't believe himself…

Helga blinked at the random observation and put a hand to the edge of her lips. "Oh! Uh…where, Football Head?"

Arnold closed his eyes and took a very deep breath, and then opened them and looked at her with a touch of something new there now…and it took Helga a second to place it but suddenly she recalled it was similar to that glint his eyes had gotten last night when they had been dancing together and he'd dipped her back after figuring out her prank. "Um…right there…" And then to her total shock Arnold went forward and kissed her lips with more passion than it seemed his modest little self had the ability to contain! She felt her heart pounding in her chest, her eyes were dilating in surprise and confusion, and it didn't help that now along with pressing his lips to hers he'd suddenly wrapped his arms around her in a tight yet tender embrace, pressing his hands into back, holding against her dress, pulling her in until she and her love were warmly against one another! 'What the heck is he…' was as far as her thoughts got…until she lost herself to this moment and melted against him, allowing him to keep kissing her with no resistance… 'Aw who cares what he's doing…Oh Arnold, I…Oh Arnold' She moaned slightly, her happiness was so overwhelming.

Several seconds later (though who was counting at a time like this), Helga felt Arnold release her body and he gently pulled away. Helga's eyes (hazed with pleasure) fluttered open and fell to her beloved. "Uh…" she began in a dazed voice, "Wow…I was so tired last night I'd almost forgotten how good you really are getting at this, Football Head…" She giggled, and then her eyes lit up and she looked to him with part of her brow raised…an impossible idea occurring to her…but it seemed to be the only logical explanation for what he'd just done. "Arnold…was that whole syrup thing just now a line you came up with just so you could…steal a kiss?"

Arnold was just sitting there beside her right now in his little suit and tie, completely red in the face at his own actions, and looking about as nervous as she'd ever seen him look in their entire lives. He swallowed, refusing to make eye contact with her and wringing his hands. "I'm…I'm sorry, Helga. That was really stupid, wasn't it?" he explained quickly. "I don't even know where that came from, I…uh…I just…I almost wanted to do something like that last night when I went to leave you on your stoop…and almost kind of when we were dancing at the school…but I was so nervous that I couldn't and I just…Well, we're here and I remembered and you said I was picking up on the kissing thing and I wanted to try…And I never even thought of wanting to try something like that with a girl until I got to know you and…and…"

Helga cut him in all his panic off by moving herself right next to him on the couch and taking one of his hands securely in her own. "Hey, hey, take it easy there, Romeo. Did I sound like I was complaining?" she asked with a smile at how worked up he was getting about the very idea that he had 'done something to displease her' or something like that, and with a kiss no less! "It was kind of…cute, actually…" she assured him with a smile, "You stealing a kiss…Almost as unexpected as that…passionate tango last night…among other things last night…" She blushed at Arnold's increased blush and smiled just a bit more coyly. "Now…" she went on understandingly, "Why don't we finish our breakfast and then I'll go home and change out of this dress already, and then maybe we can…I don't know, grab a sundae at Slausens or something and talk a little more about these sudden new feelings of yours for me or whatever the heck's going on between us, because I'm still having a little trouble grasping just where it is you want to go from here, Arnoldo, okay?" 'Poor little guy…All in a fluster…And all about ME!' She inwardly squealed and thrilled!

Arnold had been rather caught up in surprise and worry at the kiss he had just given Helga, but at her soothing words and then especially at that last thing she'd just said he instantly came entirely back to the moment at hand and raised an eyebrow at her. "What…What do you mean, 'where I want things to go from here', Helga? I thought…I thought we'd already kind of gone over the fact that…" he blushed a little…and smiled a little…"That I don't just want us to pretend to be enemies anymore…that I want to spend time with you and get to know you and…"

Helga interrupted Arnold with a sigh and a smile, holding her free hand up in a pausing motion and knowing where he was going with this. "Yes, I know, Arnold…the bully/bullied thing has been driving you nuts for a week and you'd like the charade to ease up a bit. I get that…" She swallowed and added as casually as possible, glancing to the side shyly, "What I mean though is…" 'Now or never…Might as well just throw it out there and see what happens…' "I mean, you don't want me to be your bully…but you already kind of expressed that you aren't completely in love with me…So I mean…am I still just your date or have a graduated to your crush or…or your girlfriend or something…?" She was terrified about the next words that would come out of Arnold's mouth.

Arnold blushed…a lot…and in particular at that last word. 'Girlfriend…' She had brought it back up again…and of course he couldn't deny that the word had been stuck at the back of his head ever since a few minutes ago when his grandpa had first brought it up. "Well I…" he began, his thoughts racing, and he just said the words that came to his mind, trying to be as truthful as possible and to speak perfectly from his heart, "I don't…I don't know…I mean, I've never really had a…an official girlfriend before…a-and been her boyfriend before on top of it. I'm…not really sure what it would mean, exactly…" He swallowed. "I just…" he let out a breath, "Right now I just know that I like you, Helga…" He looked to her with little goofy smile. "A lot." He gave her hand a gentle squeeze, even caressing it a bit…It felt so good. "And I mean, I like YOU and not just the stuff we've been doing together. I've never met anyone else like you, Helga…I just wish it hadn't taken until almost the end of fourth grade to see how you really are…and to find out how you feel about me…" His smile grew. "I just need time to…think a little more. Is that okay?" he asked very sincerely, meaning it with all of his heart.

The words made the most content smile imaginable come to Helga's face, and she quickly scooched over and leaned her head on Arnold's shoulder, snuggling into him a little. She sighed happily. "Well, that's a start for figuring out where to go from here, at least…Thanks Arnold…" 'Better just let him ease on into his feelings…I'll ask more about them later… Besides, a week brought him from barely being able to stand me to this…Who knows what a little more time could lead to?' She let images of the wedding she had been planning for them since she had been three bubble up in her mind.

Arnold, meanwhile, felt his heartbeat quicken like crazy at the feeling of Helga against him like this, and a happy smile came to his face. He glanced down at her. "You're welcome, Helga…"

A second passed with the two of them in this cozy position together.

Helga giggled.

Arnold smiled. "Something funny, Helga?"

She cuddled just a little closer to him. "Sorry, Arnold…Just…savoring the fact that…that you kind of like me a little…" She giggled again. "Arnold…likes me…" Another little swoon on this morning.

Arnold had to blink in just a little surprise. "Helga, it's not…that surprising…that I like you. You're nice…" He hesitated…but then reached his arm over and placed it around her, pulling her in a little closer around her waist and back. He smiled. "I-I mean, I always knew that you were nice deep down but when you actually act nice like that, something about it's just really nice and…" Finally he just let out a sigh, giving up on trying to express himself on this subject without completely stumbling over his words. "Why don't we just say that you're a lot more 'likeable' than you give yourself credit for…"

Helga laughed a little again in response to his assurances and cuddled her cheek into his shoulder (and savored like crazy the feeling of him actually pulling her in now!)

Another couple seconds of content silence passed.

"You know that time you conked me on the head with that baseball and I had amnesia, Football Head? Well…I only had amnesia for the first day…the rest of the time I was faking it so you'd keep spending time with me and give me attention—walking me to school, feeding me at lunch, taking me everywhere you went… Sorry, Arnold."

"Is that another thing that's supposed to make me hate you? That you wanted to spend time with me?"

"Maybe…" Helga chuckled…and lightly trace a heart on Arnold's chest with one of her fingers.

Arnold sighed, and did his best not to melt at the feeling of her finger delicately and suddenly moving over him like that. "You know, you could have just asked me to spend time with you, Helga….to walk you to school and stuff…I wouldn't have said no…" He hesitated for just a second…and then let himself bring up the hand of the arm he had around her to touch her head…and that soft hair of hers…

"Really?" Helga asked hesitantly in pleasant surprise. And then she instantly felt her breath hitch in her throat at the feeling of Arnold actually TOUCHING HER HAIR! Those warm strong fingers in her hair…He might as well have placed his warm strong fingers right into her beating, love filled heart. Her insides quivered a little in bliss.

"Really, Helga," Arnold replied warmly…actually now twirling a piece of one of her pigtails in his fingers. 'I'm touching a girl's hair…and she's letting me. Wow…' "I told you last weekend that I consider you a really good friend. One of my best friends actually… And like I said you're a much better person than you always seem to give yourself credit for."

Helga scoffed but smiled nonetheless. "Yeah, okay, maybe I am, but even if I had asked you to spend time with me and you had said yes since I'm one of your best friends, you would still have had a million questions about why the person who hates you wanted to be with you all the time… Might have blown my secret just a little, you know…" She smirked, glancing up at him a little.

Arnold just sighed and rolled his eyes, glancing down at her. "Yeah…and who knows what the consequences of actually telling me the truth might have been." He tried his best not to laugh.

To his surprise and delight, the comment actually made Helga start laughing herself, warmly and happily in that nice way he'd come to like quite a bit.

Finally she sat up slowly (still keeping cozily in his grasp though, of course) and looked to him with a smile and a sigh. "Okay, okay…enough tender and humorous moments… I really am hungry you know, Football Head, and these pancakes are gonna get cold if we keep just sitting here confessing to and flirting with each other." She removed herself from him now, scooching back over to her own couch cushion, and grabbed the juice glass and took another sip and put it down, and was about to go for her fork when a very interesting sight suddenly met Helga G. Pataki's eyes…

A very shy looking and blushing Arnold was barely managing to maintain eye contact as he held out his own fork before her…with a small bit of pancake now on the end.

Helga just raised part of her brow. "Arnold…uh, what's up?"

Arnold swallowed….and tried not to lose courage. "W-well, um…you said before that you liked it so much when I fed you when you had amnesia that you pretended to keep being sick just so that I'd do it again…" he went on quickly, "So I just thought that, um…that maybe you'd like it if I…did it again…right now." He waited without breathing for her response.

A distinct blush crept into Helga's surprised face. "You—you're trying to feed me a bite of pancake…" 'I think I'm actually going to die right now. Oh…OH! He's so….Oh and look how shy and embarrassed he is…Oh Arnold, you are the most precious, adorable, wonderful little football head ever! You…' She gave a girlish internal sigh.

She was interrupted from her swoon-worthy thoughts by the sound of Arnold sighing and the bite of pancake lowering a little. "I'm sorry, Helga…" he began in that apologetic tone again, looking down in shame and embarrassment, "Asking that was…it was too much, wasn't it? It was just that you mentioned it and we're eating together and we already drank out of the glass together and I guess I'm still fully waking up and…" And then Arnold's eyes flew open at the feeling of a distinct pressure on the end of the fork he was still holding…and he turned to see Helga, her eyes closed in pure bliss, biting the end of the fork gently and then slowly pulling her lips down and off of its end, savoring the piece of food in her mouth for a moment before lightly swallowing.

Her eyes fluttered open after a few seconds and she looked to Arnold. "That was…That was the most perfect thing you could have suggested in the whole world. Thank you, my beloved…" She sighed. Arnold had just fed her. No tricks, no gags, no waking up because it had only been part of a perfect dream. What wonderful thing had she done in her life to deserve any of this?

Warm blood instantly flooded Arnold's face and his heart sparked and thundered uncontrollably! His fork dropped to the plate with a clatter. His hand shook a little.

Helga blinked at the sound, coming out of her daydream state, and then raised part of her brow in concern as she now took in the sight of how utterly…in shock Arnold suddenly looked. "Arnold, are you okay?" she asked sincerely, scrutinizing him a little.

She watched him take a few deep breaths like he was trying to get himself calm…and then he swallowed and replied quietly, "Um…yeah, I'm…I'm fine. It's just…" He couldn't bring his eyes to meet hers. "You called me…your…your beloved…And you've never…really…well you've always called me a lot of other names besides my real name to tease me but never…never one because you…love me…" 'Her…beloved.' What a…It was…And who nowadays even called someone something so old-fashioned and so quaint and so…poetic? 'Beloved…' And yet despite how she had always talked to him, it had flowed just as naturally off of her lips as any 'Football Head' or 'geekbait' or 'paste for brains' had ever done.

Helga blinked and blushed and glanced forward at his comment. She hadn't even realized she had said that! Calling him her beloved to his face! 'Crimeny, what's with me? Seven years of training myself to keep my love and affections thoroughly veiled and then I open my big mouth last weekend and suddenly I'm a romantic train wreck!' "Oh… Yeah, uh…sorry if that made you uncomfortable, Football Head…" She shrugged and did her best to smile at him. "It's just getting really easy to open up to you and be myself now that you know how I feel, I guess, heh, heh…"

She waited for his reaction with a gulp…and then watched as Arnold took another deep breath, his eyes closed. And then opened his eyes and sighed…and a small smile came to his face. "No, Helga, I'm…not uncomfortable. I just needed a second to get used to that…" He turned to her and added with a slight chuckle underlying his tone. "Okay so along with Football Head and Arnold I'm also your beloved. I can…I can live with that." He scooched just a bit more over to her once again.

Helga beamed…and of course did not scooch away. "You'll have to if you're determined to keep me around…" she replied coyly and with a blush. 'It's okay with him that he's my beloved…To heck with 'miracle'…This is fate, destiny…The cosmic meeting of a heretofore star-crossed love! Ah…'

Another moment of warm content quiet passed between them.

And then Helga closed her eyes and let out a sigh, and then opened them once more and looked to Arnold with a half grin. Because even though she really was in love with him…she also really was starving right now and she kind of wanted to get this show on the road. "Well…let's get the last awkward part of this breakfast over then, shall we…?" Arnold looked confused for a moment…until Helga picked up a fork and snagged a piece of pancake with it and then held them out before him, trying to seem confident but obviously feeling quite shy. "So, um…" she began, "You…fed me a bite…Could I, um…Could I feed you a bite too, Arnold…?"

Arnold blushed and felt his heart racing, his eyes fixed on the morsel of food. He swallowed and finally did his best to get out, "Of…Of course, Helga. I'd…I'd like to try that…" 'A girl wants to feed meHelga wants to feed me…Don't panic…' And then he went forward, his eyes closed, and removed the piece of food from the fork with his mouth and did his best to savor it just as she had before swallowing…And in truth he could now understand Helga's slight pause before when he'd done this to her: there was something incredibly…incredibly intimate and personal and wonderful about eating something from someone you loved…

Arnold's eyes instantly flew open and he swallowed the bite completely, doing his best not to choke. 'Love…I just thought I loved her…Okay, okay …REALLY don't panic. You were just caught up in the heat of the moment…You like her a lot… 'like' her like her definitely…' he blushed at finally just outright admitting that fact to himself…yes, he did indeed have romantic feelings about Helga G. Pataki and he could not deny it any longer. 'But…love…? I… I mean we're only kids and I…It looks like it's so extreme when she shows that side of herself. I'm not even sure I could handle it even if I was…in…in love with her.' And yet his heart still pounded. 'But…but I also…well…I…' It was very hard to not associate love with a girl who was so…lovely.

"You okay, Arnold?" the sound of Helga's voice touched with concern brought him out of his racing thoughts. She held up the juice glass to him. "Do you need a drink or something?"

Arnold swallowed once more and glanced away nervously. "Uh, no…I'm fine, Helga. I just…" he let out a breath, "Sorry…this whole thing's been a lot for me to…take in…" 'Yeah, I might be falling in love with the most unlikely girl on the planet…who secretly might be the most perfect person in the world for me. That's…That's a lot…'

Helga blinked at his words but then smiled and put the glass back down. "Yeah," she chuckled to herself, unable to help agreeing with his assessment that all of this really was a little much and happening pretty quickly on top of it all, "Speaking of that, honestly, if it's okay, can we just feed ourselves for the rest of this breakfast…? Not that feeding each other a whole pancake each wouldn't be heavenly in my book, but after everything we've been though during the past seven days both in public and in private I don't think my nerves could take that romantically stressful of a breakfast, you know?" She let out a breath and lay back against the couch, blushing a little. "I mean, Crimeny, you held that fork out to me before and I thought my heart was going to fly out of my chest, Arnoldo, heh…" 'Wow, it…feels really nice to just…admit that to him…No more secrets.' She smiled a little more.

Arnold, despite his nerves, couldn't help but chuckle a little as well at her observation and reply almost automatically as he looked to her again, the memory quickly resurfacing in his mind of how Helga holding out a fork to him had made him feel, "Yeah, I know what you mean…"

The comment made Helga blink once or twice and turn to Arnold in interest. He just looked back to her with an eyebrow raised. "What?" he asked curiously.

A half smile broke out onto her face at the question and it was followed quickly by a shake of her head. "Nothing, Football Head…It's just…I'm not the only one anymore when we're alone together practically having a heart attack. It's…interesting…" She shrugged a little.

Arnold just gave her a playful smirk in return, especially at that last word. "Interesting, huh? Now, Helga, how am I supposed to know what you mean if you throw around a word like that?"

Helga chuckled at his little joke and leaned in a little closer to him. "Well, I guess you don't, paste for brains…But I think it could be good…for both of us…" She winked, completing the ironic reversed exchange from the morning of her birthday when he'd come up to her room to retrieve her for her surprise party.

Arnold just sighed, unable to help smiling at the girl before him all the more. "Whatever you say, Helga…"

Helga finally just rolled her eyes and grinned and let out a big sigh herself. "Okay, okay, enough ironic references! Come on!" And that now familiar confident tone was back in her voice in full swing. "We've got almost a full pancake each here to chow down on and they're NOT getting any warmer…You ready for Arnold and Helga's eat off part two, Football Head? After all, we really didn't have a winner with the ice cream eating contest at my birthday party since someone went to get napkins and disappeared for an hour!" She smirked at him.

Arnold grinned right back at her and grabbed a fork. "You're on, Helga! Ready…"

She kept her amused blue eyes locked right onto his green ones as she picked up her own fork. "Set…"

"GO!" both kids yelled at the same time and instantly began eating like crazy, occasionally trying to playfully sabotage each other by pushing the other's pancake away or having a small fork fight, and laughing the whole entire time they shared their breakfast together on this wonderful Saturday morning.


Out in the kitchen, Phil (who had been kind of sort of spying on Arnold and Helga in bits and pieces this entire time ever since he had left them alone with their pancakes and juice) had been doing his best not to laugh at the two kids in the living room so that they wouldn't hear him in the kitchen. He finally had to let out a chuckle quietly, though, at the sight of Arnold and Helga actually getting into an eating contest of all things now, and laughing and teasing and flirting their way through it. ""Heh, heh! Oh that boy'll be just fine with her…" he whispered to himself with a smile, "…just had to get used to things!"

Gertie, who was currently doing some of the dishes from the bit of cooking she had done for the kids, just sighed and turned to her husband at the sound of him still obviously checking in on young Arnold's date. "Now remember, General, you already had your two jokes this morning—first with bringing them the food and then the drink. Now leave them alone to finish up their date together before you start teasing Kimba…And for land sakes, give them some privacy!"

Phil let out a sigh (though he did finally let the door leading to the living room shut, nonetheless). "Oh I know I know, Pookie. Just observing my handiwork and how the boy's handling things." He smiled proudly. "Looks like he's doing just fine though. A little nervous at first but getting much more comfy! Heh, heh…." He smirked a little at his wife. "Besides, I don't think I should be taking all the blame for those gags before when you're the one who went along with my little prank and made those heart-shaped pancakes for the kids in the first place."

Gertie cleared her throat and turned off the sink, grinning a little. "Oh I just wanted to be festive…" She shrugged innocently. "Happy Valentine's Day!" she then suddenly announced, turning around and gesturing up at a banner she'd actually hung across the kitchen a few minutes ago while her husband been focusing on spying on Arnold and Helga.

Phil just rolled his eyes at the sight of the big pink and red banner. "Cheese and Crackers, Pookie, you're at it again?" He shook his head in amusement but then smiled and rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "Oh well, at least this means chocolates for dessert tonight! Mmm!"

"Yup!" Gertie announced with a grin, suddenly grabbing a tray off of a cooling rack on top of the oven and displaying them to her husband. "Raspberry filled!"

"Oooo!" Phil yelled, his stomach suddenly rumbling, "Why do you do that to me, Pookie? Between the raspberry jam this morning and now those…" His stomach made a sick lurching sound again. "I'm gonna head to my private office! Don't let those kids leave until I get back and with a new roll of film for my camera!" And with that he ran out of the kitchen, Gertie just laughing behind him.

Now left alone in the boarding house kitchen, Gertie went over and finished up with the sink and breakfast dishes, and then placed her tray of homemade chocolates in the fridge…And then with a smile she walked over to the door to the den and couldn't resist peeking for just a moment herself at sight her grandson and his lady friend still sharing breakfast together and having a blast doing so.

"Hey when this eating contest is over and I take my victory, you wanna race and see who can finish the juice first too, Football Head?" Gertie watched Helga smirk at Arnold.

Arnold laughed in reply and gave her a bit of a look, swallowing the mouthful of pancake he was in the middle of working on. "Helga, first of all I'm winning the 'eating contest'…" and indeed, quite a bit more of Arnold's pancake was gone than Helga's, which explained Arnold's proud tone, "...and second of all if we're drinking out of the glass at the same time then how could we know who finishes it first?"

The young blonde girl just rolled her eyes up innocently. "Well, I don't know about you, paste for brains, but I'm more concerned with the idea of sharing a drink with you again than being able to suck down more orange juice than that scrawny football head stomach of yours…"

Arnold blinked and blushed and then glanced to the side. "Oh… Uh, sure then Helga…" A small little smile came to his lips. "I'd like that…"

Helga giggled. And then Arnold's eyes went wide at the feeling of her lips suddenly descending to his mouth for a kiss.

With a small chuckle Gertie pulled her head back inside the kitchen to give the kids some privacy again…though she couldn't resist at least listening in to whatever might be happening next.

Many, MANY seconds later a sigh sounded…and lips lightly separated.

"Helga…" Arnold sounded about as happy and dazed as possible as he said his date's name.

There was another small sound of lips kissing before she said anything. "Mmm hmm, Arnold?" Helga then cooed in reply

"Y-You remember last weekend when you caught me having that dream about you at Slausens?" He was obviously totally gone.

"Yes, my beloved, I remember…" She was obviously utterly blissful.

Arnold chuckled. "Well…in that dream, when you kissed me…you did a few of the things you did just now and also that you did last night, and…" He let out a sigh. "Helga…I don't know if I love you but I really really love being with you…You're kind of amazing. Did you know that?""

"Ah, so you like when I get a little lost in holding you and caressing you, Football Head? Good to know…" Her tone was playful once again. "And yes of course I know I'm amazing—Doi! I'm Helga G. Pataki!"

A few seconds more of 'silence' passed after which Arnold sighed through his nose again and Helga giggled once more.

"A-And also, um…" Arnold barely chuckled out at this point, "Helga, if you're trying to distract me from winning the pancake eating contest…Well, what you're doing is probably the best way to do it…"

Helga laughed warmly and then there was the sound of her shifting away on the couch a little. A smiling Gertie took that as a cue that it was okay to peek at the kids again. She opened the door just a crack and her eyes fell to Helga sitting on her end of the couch with a smug look on her face and her arms crossed over her chest. "Oh actually I was just trying to 'get a bit of syrup off of the corner of your mouth' or whatever lame excuse that was you gave me before so you could steal one of my kisses, but…I'll keep my incredible ability to 'distract' you in mind for any of our future contests, Football He—my beloved." She picked up her fork and went right back to eating bite after bite of her pancake. 'I'm eating breakfast and flirting with Arnold….Oh this is officially the best way to start the day!'

Arnold smiled very very goofily at Helga's joke and managed to put another forkful of pancake into his mouth, though he was a bit too distracted with other thoughts and feelings at the moment to really continue trying to keep up with Helga in this little contest of theirs. 'I'm Helga's beloved Arnold…and she's not running away or pretending there's nothing between us anymore…It's all perfect.'

Arnold and Helga's romantic breakfast continued.

And Gertie just did her best not to laugh out loud at the two kids and their exchanges. She just shook her head with a smile. 'Well it's about time that sweet little girl told Kimba she likes him…and about time Kimba brought her home for a date.'

"So, doing a little spying yourself I see, eh, Pookie…"

Gertie instantly blinked and allowed the door to shut as she turned around to see her husband grinning smugly behind her, having obviously returned to the kitchen for the newspaper he had just picked up from the kitchen table that was now in his hand.

Gertie glanced up innocently, putting her arms behind her back. "Oh I just wanted to make sure they didn't need anymore pancakes."

"Right…" Phil said in a way that said he did not buy it at all. The two of them just looked at each other with smiles…and then burst into laughter.

Phil let out a sigh, still smiling, and put down his newspaper and came forward, putting a hand on his wife's shoulder. He looked into her eyes. "It takes me back too, Pookie…" he assured her with a nod.

She smiled, looking into his eyes…and remembering…as well. "Yes…I was such a sweet girl back then. Just like that nice little lady in there…"

He chuckled. He swung a fist through the air. "And you still got it, Pookie…all the sweetness and all the spunk."

Phil then leaned in and gave Gertie a small kiss on the cheek and the two of them lingered happily in the kitchen for a moment while their grandson continued to finish up his first official date…and with a young lady he might end up marrying one of these days… Hey, it could happen. It had happened once before, after all.


A/N:

Alright, prepare for Arnold and Helga to meet up later on this day and finish talking (and maybe doing some other things ;) ), confrontations with certain other people, and more dates between them ^_^ I half know where this fic is going and I'm half just writing things on the spot so I'm excited to see how this'll all turn out ;) Please review and let me know what you guys think! Thanks!

Happy Reading!

AXH FOREVER!

~Azure129 aka Jenna