|Smichiko (smichiko) wrote in smichifics,|
@ 2008-03-04 01:35:00
|Entry tags:||arnold, arnold/helga, fandom: hey arnold, helga pataki, het, lila sawyer, rating: pg-13|
[Arnold/Helga] On the Outside Looking In
Title: On the Outside Looking In
Pairing(s): Arnold/Helga with some Arnold/Lila
Character(s): Helga, Lila, Arnold
Summary: At their Senior Prom, Helga is struck with a sense of déjà vu from the time she and Arnold first met. Only this time, Arnold’s not the only one with an umbrella to share...
Word Count: 2559
A/N: Again, one of my older fics. If I remember correctly, this was my first one shot. I'm not so proud of the way I treated Lila, and now I realize that Arnold/Lila dating in high school is like one of the biggest fic cliches EVER, so...yeah. :3
Helga G. Pataki pressed her hand against the glass as she leaned forward to rest her forehead on it. The steady rain that fell around her went unheeded as she allowed the wetness to consume her, not even bothering to shield herself. She stared dejectedly into the room in front of her, unable to tear her eyes away from its two occupants.
Anyone watching her would’ve though her oblivious to the rain. But she wasn’t. Not at all. She was aware of every gut-wrenching thing that was happening in this moment. Every raindrop that fell, every leaf that blew in the wind, every noise uttered by the night around her. A moment she knew she would never forget, as the pain of it would be etched onto her heart forever.
The elegant, sparkling pink gown she had worked so hard to purchase was now ruined. She had taken two part time jobs to pay for it, and now it clung to her wet body like a second skin, with a long tear up the side from where she had caught it on a branch. The part that trailed the ground was soaked in mud—she had been standing out here for nearly twenty minutes. The sophisticated hairstyle she had been sporting now fell about her face in disarray, matted to her head in many places, the bow lost in it somewhere. But she paid it no heed. She just couldn’t take her eyes off of the scene in front of her.
There he was. The object of her affection for so many long years. No matter how hard she tried to convince herself that he wasn’t right for her, that it would never work, she could never get away from it. She wished that she could forget, that the “out of love potion” she had once believed to take her obsession away had actually worked.
He made her hate herself. Hate that she couldn’t get over him, not even after all these years. Hate that, no matter how hard she might try, she knew that he would never look her way. And the worst part about it was that he was so kind to her. Because that was the kind of person Arnold was. Kind. But it drove her insane. It wasn’t a special kindness. It was the exact same kindness that he showed to everyone else.
She tried so hard to hate him. But she just couldn’t. His big blue eyes, his cornflower hair, his innocent smile…it all still made her sigh like it had all those years ago in elementary school. And he actually seemed to care. That was really what boiled her noodle. He cared about her, like he cared about everyone. But not the way she wished he would.
The scene before her played out almost exactly like it had in all her worst nightmares. There was Lila, Arnold’s girlfriend of three years. They had been going out ever since the end of freshman year, right after the basketball team won the state championship. Helga found this all rather convenient, since Lila had always shoved away his advances before that.
Helga’s fists automatically clenched at the thought of the red-haired girl. What has she got that I haven’t? she thought. Charm, beauty, popularity…, answered the voice in her head. She’s just so…so…superficial! she mentally shouted back, I can’t believe that Arnold doesn’t see it! Sure, she might act like that innocent country girl that she used to be, but on the inside, she’s just a...a...Helga, the most articulate person at her school, couldn’t find a fitting word to describe her.
It was not just jealousy that dictated Helga’s feelings towards Lila, though she knew everyone else thought it was. She had caught her, on more than one occasion, “having some fun” in the girls’ locker room during gym class. Fun that involved members of the opposite sex. And, in her opinion, Arnold deserved far better than that.
And the worst part was...that no one she told would believe her. Not even Phoebe. Phoebe, her only friend in the world. And that hurt her down to her soul. They all thought it was part of some pathetic attempt to take Arnold for her own. She wasn’t sure how, but her crush on Arnold had become common knowledge long ago. And ever since then, he avoided her like the plague. So she just stopped telling people about the awful things that Lila had done. And Lila got away with it.
The couple inside was sitting at a small, private table, far from the room that had been reserved for dancing. They were bathed in light from the glowing crystal chandelier that hung above their heads. They were sitting next to each other, the backs of their chairs facing the window, but they sat in their chairs sideways so that they were facing each other.
Arnold had his elbow propped on the table, chin resting on his palm, gazing at Lila. Helga didn’t need to see his eyes to know that they were shining with adoration. What she wouldn’t give to have him look at her like that. Hell, what she wouldn’t give to have him look at someone who deserved him like that, even if it were not herself.
It’s just not fair! She thought, slamming her high-heeled shoe down in the mud in her fury. He’s living in that dreamland of his, where Lila is a perfect angel. Her body shook with the pain that called for escape. But she would not let it escape. She would not cry. Not here. And no one’s ever going to bring him out of it...she thought with a wistful sigh.
She saw Lila smile and tilt back her head as Arnold advanced on her in a deep, passionate kiss. Helga wanted to turn away, but she found that she couldn’t. She stood in the mud, transfixed, watching the couple inside as they kissed.
The strange thing was, it was Arnold who did all the kissing. To Helga, it just seemed that Lila just let him kiss her. Criminy, she thought. She doesn’t even wrap her arms around his neck. Arnold however, was nearly falling out of his chair, he was leaning into Lila so much. It made her sick, but she just couldn’t turn away.
Suddenly, Arnold pulled back. She saw him reach down into the pocket of the tuxedo he was wearing, and pull something out. She strained to see what it was, but she couldn’t, because that side of him was blocked from her view.
Before long, he set it on the table. It was a small, black box. That looks like...Oh no, she thought, as realization hit her. He’s not going to...please say he’s not going to...God, no...it’s so unfair! What is he getting himself into?!
Arnold tilted back the lid of the box to reveal a beautiful sparkling diamond ring. Helga knew that it must have cost him a fortune. How many hours of drudge work had he had to work to buy it? And all for someone who was not even close to deserving it. It made her sick.
Lila gasped, and her hands moved up to cover her mouth. She noticed that Arnold’s complexion had turned to a deep red, and she noticed that his feet were shuffling under his chair nervously. He couldn’t even look Lila in the face. His eyes were fixed on his lap.
Helga saw his lips move, and she knew that he was asking her the question. The one most girls waited their whole life to hear. The one she would give her left arm to hear from Arnold one day.
For the longest time, neither of the pair said anything. Arnold merely sat there, watching as he twiddled his thumbs in his lap. Lila looked speechless. She kept glancing from the ring to Arnold, and back to the ring.
Then, Lila grabbed his chin and forced him to look at her. Helga felt her heart stop in her chest. He slowly brought his head up to gaze at Lila. They looked at each other for a long time, until finally...Lila shook her head. Then, she put down the lid of the box and pressed it in Arnold’s hand. She got up, kissed him on the cheek, and then left the room.
Helga felt herself die a little. Even though she despised Lila, she couldn’t help but wish that the girl would come back, so that Arnold would be happy again. She fleetingly thought of going in there and making Lila marry him. Helga knew that she could be rather persuasive, especially with ol’ Betsy.
Arnold sat for a long time, staring at the box in his hand. His head was hanging, and his other hand was in his hair. Helga bit her lip to stop herself from crying. She couldn’t stand it. In all her years knowing him, she had never seen Arnold look so…pathetic.
He finally got up and slowly strode out of the room. Helga let out the breath she had been holding. What she wouldn’t give to make his pain go away.
All of a sudden, she became acutely aware of the chill that was running through her, thanks to the fact that she was soaked to the bone on a cool spring night.
Some prom this turned out to be, she thought, as she strode towards the front of the building. What was I thinking? That he would actually spare me a glance, with Lila on his arm? She knew she had been foolish, but she hoped that somehow…tonight would be different. It hadn’t been. So much time and effort...wasted, she thought, as she brought her hand up to stroke the bow that had rested in what had been her expensive hair-do.
She glanced at her watch as she made her way to the front of the building. Eleven o’clock. Great, she thought. I have to wait another hour for Big Bob to come get me.
Pushing aside the idea of going back in, she dejectedly sank down on the bottom step, legs folded up against her. She rested her chin on her knees, staring out into the black night. She sighed loudly, and began fidgeting with the part of her dress that had torn.
All of a sudden, the rain ceased to fall. What the...? She looked up. It’s still raining over there...she thought with a frown.
That’s when a pair of black male dress shoes appeared next to her on the stairs. She looked up, gulping when she noticed who it was, standing next to her with an umbrella.
“This seat taken?” Arnold asked, his voice full of emotion. Surprisingly, Helga noted, he did not look like he had been crying.
“Um...no.” He plopped down next to her, placing his umbrella between them.
They sat in silence for what seemed like hours, Arnold staring straight ahead and Helga regarding him thoughtfully while she fidgeted with her dress.
“I like your bow,” he finally said, gesturing to her hair.
“T-t-thanks,” she managed.
“It matches your dress.” She blushed, remembering the first time they had met.
“I don’t remember seeing you in there,” he said, jerking his head towards the building.
“Yeah...well...I’m not too big on dancing. Besides, you...” wouldn’t have noticed me anyway, she mentally finished.
“You were with Lila.”
“Right,” he said, looking away. The quiet resumed, the only sound being the echoes of the blaring music from within.
“What happened to you?” he asked after a while, seeming to have just noticed her disheveled state.
“I...decided to go for a walk.”
“In the rain?”
“You got a problem with it, Football Head?”
“Not at all,” he said defensively. “I just thought you might want to enjoy our Senior Prom. At least someone would have,” he added with a scoff.
Helga gulped and fixed her eyes on her lap. “I saw what happened,” she admitted.
Arnold grew thoughtful. “How?”
“I was...walking by the window...and...I...saw the ring...”
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He pulled the box out of his pocket and opened the lid, shoving it in Helga’s face. “This thing cost me two hundred dollars!” he shouted angrily. “And I don’t even get a ‘No’! Just a shake of the head! No ‘I’m sorry, Arnold’! NOTHING!” His face was inches from hers. His bright blue eyes stared into hers, alight with rage and...something else. Helga identified it as hurt.
“I-I-I’m sorry, Arnold, for what it’s worth,” she said softly. His face relaxed at this, and he pulled away from her, again staring straight ahead.
“Yeah, well...I don’t guess I deserved her, anyhow. She’s probably going to marry some rich...”
“Don’t EVER say that!” Helga shouted passionately, cutting him off. “If anything, she didn’t deserve you!”
“Please. Thanks for trying to make me feel better, but...”
“I’m not saying this to make you feel better, Football Head! It’s the truth! If you knew all the things that that...that...girl was doing behind your back, I’m sure you’d consider yourself much better off!”
“Helga,” he began. “I know you like me, but this has gone far enough. Your spreading rumors about Lila has got to stop.”
Helga clenched her fists in rage. “They’re not rumors! And I have stopped! After no one would believe me, that is! You just don’t get it! No one does! She’s a vindictive, conniving little b—”
“Enough,” Arnold said firmly. “I can’t believe that you would make up, just to...”
“I’M NOT MAKING IT UP! WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET IT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL THAT LILA IS NOT THE SWEET LITTLE INNOCENT COUNTRY GIRL THAT SHE USED TO BE!” she shouted, her breath coming out in violent waves.
“Helga...” he began calmly.
“Just shut up. Don’t say anything. I know you’ll never believe me anyway. Fine, continue to live in that little dream world,” she said, pouring what she had been feeling for the last three years out. “You’re...you’re...right, about me liking you,” she said, face reddening. “But if you think I would do something like that, just to...get you away from her....then, you don’t know me very well.” She paused, beginning to feel braver. “I would...I would know.”
“That I had lied. And even if I did manage to ‘get you for myself,’ I would know that that’s not where you truly wanted to be.” There was a long pause. “I was just…trying to look out for you, Football Head,” she finished softly.
Arnold mulled over this for a long time. After what seemed like forever, he picked his arm up and rested it around her shoulders. He leaned in, giving her a kiss on the cheek. She stared back at him incredulously and raised her hand up to touch cheek the cheek in question.
“Thanks, Helga,” he whispered into her ear. With that, he got up and sauntered off, leaving Helga with the umbrella and her dismantled thoughts as she stared after him in disbelief.