Finding your Feet

BY : DancingBear
Category: +G through L > Hey, Arnold!
Dragon prints: 11070
Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold, nor any of the characters. I do not, and will not make any money from this story. (Original creator: Craig Bartlett)


"I got a surprise for you buddy, get your glad rags on, I'll be over in half an hour to pick you up."

"Listen, Gerald, I'm not really in the m…"

"Half an hour." Gerald barked, quickly hanging up the phone before Arnold could protest.

"Fuck." Arnold murmured forlornly, dropping his cellphone into his lap and staring at it's stupid, accusing little screen. "FUCK."

… … …

"Arnold!" Gerald beamed as he stepped into the apartment. "Lookin' good!" He clapped Arnold on the shoulder, grinning.

"Don't patronise me." Arnold scowled.

"Fuck man, sorry." Gerald sighed. "Seriously though, good choice using the leg. That chair's a pain in the ass."

"Literally. Though the leg's a pain in the stump." Arnold sighed.

Gerald chuckled. "I'm not taking you out dancing or anything man, although it's been a long while since we've been cheek to cheek."

Arnold couldn't help it, that one made him laugh. "We can go dancing if you want, sweetheart." He fluttered his eyelashes. "But you'll have to lead."

"I always do." Gerald winked at him. "You ready to go? Show starts in twenty."

"Show? Sounds intriguing."

"Arnold my man, I'm telling you, you have no idea."

… … … …

Arnold groaned. "You bring me to an indie bar?"

Gerald laughed. "Hey, at least they'll think the cane's ironic."

"Oh god." Arnold gasped, a horrid, sudden thought popping into his head. "You didn't happen to meet some chick on Craigslist that has an amputee fetish or anything, did you?"

Gerald just laughed.

"No, seriously, I'm not fucking kidding. Don't think I've forgotten that you offered to buy me a hooker for an hour." Arnold stared, terrified that in an attempt to be kind, Gerald had done something humiliating.

"You should see your face. Relax Shortman, trust me, OK?" He sighed at Arnold's dubious facial expression. "What do you want to drink?"

"Shit, I dunno. A beer? Uh…" He hadn't had a drink in so long, he didn't know what he felt like.

"Leave it to me." Gerald sauntered off, ever confident, eyes following him across the room.

Arnold sighed, Fiddled with his cane, tried to make sure it was somewhere he could get at it easily, but out of sight of the casual observer.

He looked around the bar, trying to force himself to relax, to assuage his paranoia that everyone was looking at him funny. It was a small place, with a small stage in one corner where the gear for a four-piece band was set out. The bulk of the custom was near the stage, lounging on chairs and tables, but people milled around the bar, and at a table crowded with hipster-types.

Gerald put a bottle of beer down in front of him. "It's Japanese, I really like it."

"Thanks man. Next round's on me." Arnold took a sip as Gerald sat down.

"Band's about to start." The hum of conversation in the room dropped as the lights dimmed.

Spotlights lit up the small stage. "Uh, Hey. We're The Unnamed." The frontman smiled weakly. "Welcome to the seventh weekly open mic night here at The Tar Whistle." There was a smattering of applause. "Thanks… so, uh, we'll open with a couple of numbers, hopefully fuck a few things up, so no one else feels self conscious about stepping on stage. If you wanna come up and do a song or three, talk to Aaryn there, that handsome silver stag over there in the Tom Waits T shirt… he'll sign you up, and sort you out something to play on if you didn't have the forethought to bring your own gear… Alright, let's get on with this shit show."

They weren't bad. The drummer was decent, and the chick on bass was good… cute, too. Something about her was really familiar. He eyed her for a second, but couldn't place her. They were just playing covers, as far as he could tell. The lead vocalist leaned into the mic, gruffly crooning Paul Simon's Graceland. It was strangely appealing.

His eyes kept coming back to that girl though. She really was cute, her head nodding in time to the music as she walked her fingers across the strings. Her hair was short, cropped close, a reddish colour. He frowned… he must have met her at a party or something.

"Notice the chick on bass?" Gerald asked, nudging him with his elbow.

"Do we know her?" Arnold asked. "She looks really familiar."

Gerald chuckled, shaking his head. "I swear…" he trailed off, obviously wanting Arnold to figure out the mystery himself.

They finished up with Graceland and moved on to David Bowie's Space Oddity. Also strangely good… well, not as bad as he would have guessed.

He was more cynical than he used to be.

The girl bassist stepped up to the mic, "Last song from us, your turn next!" She grinned before plucking out a few notes on her bass. Heknew that voice. He was sure of it.

The guitarist joined in softly, gently strumming, sweet, but sad notes, before the girl started singing.

Are they saying goodbye

Or is it just like before

Could it be that I

Made him love her more

He knew that voice… He knew he did. She sounded amazing, soft and vulnerable, filled with heartache. He knew the song, by Ane Brun, and this girl definitely did the artist justice. He closed his eyes… this was so annoying. He knew that as soon as he figured out who this girl was, he would be kicking himself for not recognising her straight away.

So I curse upon his face

He's a symbol of my own mistakes

Could it be that she

Makes me love him more***

He clapped along politely when the song finished and the girl thanked the audience. Her grin was wide, showing her teeth, her large eyes crinkled up in pleasure. He was driving himself crazy! The more he looked at her, the more he knew he knew her! And he had the feeling now that he really should have recognised her as soon as he had seen her, which was infuriating.

"You're not going to tell me who she is, are you?" He sighed, putting his empty down on the table and fishing in his pockets for his wallet, pulling out his card and ID and shoving them into his back pocket, not without difficulty.

"Honestly man, I am as-fucking-stounded you didn't pick her straight away."

"You're an ass. Same again?" Arnold struggled to his feet, using his hands to brace himself on his chair, stopping to check he had his balance before clutching at his cane and limping awkwardly over to the bar. The two empties in his free hand.

He kept an eye on the girl as he waited to be served, trying to figure out who she was. She really was cute. Her tight jeans clung to her curves when she bent over, her oversized top slipped down over her shoulder as she struggled with an amp. He averted his eyes, suddenly feeling like a bit of a perve.

By the time he got back to the table, she was drifting around the room, moving from group to group, probably trying to get people up on stage.

"I give up man, this is driving me nuts."

Gerald shook his head "It's not happening man, don't even try."

"Fuck." It was really starting to piss him off, not knowing who she was. Before, in an earlier life, he might have just walked over and asked her if he knew her. Sure, it sounded like a cheesy pick up line. "Excuse me, but, do I know you?" But was that a bad thing? He hadn't picked anyone up in ages, and this girl was definitely pleasing to the eye.

But that was then. He couldn't do that now, not now that he was a spaz. Not only would he be embarrassed as hell, he also ran the real physical risk of tripping over one of the chairs or something, and breaking a bone. Which could lead to being wheelchair bound. He didn't have the luxury of just milling about, or of even sitting up the front. That was the kind of shit no one told you when you lost a leg.

"Whoo, she's coming over!" Gerald crowed.

"Oh for fucks sake." Arnold murmured, his face hot. He just wanted to leave.

"Gerald!" He heard her call, but he was too nervous to look up at her. "You came! Are you going to have a go?"

"I've got nothing prepared sorry Doll, maybe next time." Arnold could hear the change of timbre in Gerald's voice as spoke to the girl. Suave bastard could switch it on and off at will.

"What about you?"

Well, he had no choice now, she was talking directly to him. He looked up, met her gaze. She was prettier up close, a wide smile on her lips. When was the last time he had spoken to a girl outside of a store, or the hospital?

"I… uh… not this time." He managed to stutter.

Her face froze, her mouth open slightly, teeth glistening beneath her lips. She blinked.


That voice. Football Head.

He studied her face. Large eyes, full lips, thick eyebrows that almost met in the middle. "Helga?"

… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …

So, that's the first chapter… ah!

Ok, for the songs they played, YouTube videos:

Graceland: watch?v=HvliMzAFWHM by Paul Simon

Space Oddity: watch?v=D67kmFzSh_o by David Bowie

***Are They Saying Goodbye: watch?v=KL5ImFThWZE by Ane Brun


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