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Title: Not Falling Apart
Fandom/Universe: Hey Arnold!
Character(s): Rhonda, Sid, Stinky, Wolfgang, Helga
Rating: Mature
Chapters: 1




They make it back to the base in one piece.

Sid collapses against the wall of the small entryway and shudders. One of those creatures had managed to get close enough to brush an impossibly cold hand across his shoulders two days ago and it’s still haunting him. If it hadn’t been for Stinky’s warning shout and some quick reflexes on Rhonda’s end, he’d be worse than dead by now.

“Damn.” He says and his voice cracks. He lets out a shaky laugh and digs around his pocket for a pack of cigarettes. He instinctively hands one off to Rhonda and makes a quick gesture towards Stinky who just shakes his head. Stinky hasn’t smoked once in two years - calls it a tribute.

“S’been two years now, huh?” Sid asks his team as he pulls a lighter out of his top pocket. He lights Rhonda’s before his own, ladies first and all that.

“I reckon so.” Stinky answers, but doesn’t look at him. Rhonda takes a long drag and says nothing at all. He probably shouldn’t bring it up, but it doesn’t seem right to just forget.

“I’m going to find Wolfgang.” She says suddenly, smashing the half-smoked cigarette against the stone walls. She’s halfway down the hall before Sid yells out.

“Gonna fuck him?”

Rhonda doesn’t stop. And Rhonda doesn’t answer.

“Sid.” Stinky chides. “Let her go. Y’know what this day does to her.” He holds out a hand to help lift his friend up from the floor. Sid takes it without hesitation and holds onto it a bit longer than he should, but Stinky doesn’t notice. He never will.

“She’s not the only one still grieving, Stinky. He was our teammate too.” Sid isn’t really surprised to find his eyes are beginning to sting. “But you’re right. It’s not like I could say or do anything that would stop her anyway. I just… I wish….” He sighs and hangs his head. Stinky puts a hand on his shoulder and squeezes, sending chills down the back of Sid’s spine. He turns his head to smile at his best friend in the whole world. “Let’s go get cleaned up, Stinky.”

They head down the hall together.

---

“Jesus Rhon, that was amazing.” Wolfgang tells her between gasping breaths.

“Don’t call me that.” She snaps. He looks down, but all he can see is the top of her head as it rests on his chest and she won’t look at him. He sighs.

“Sorry. I forgot. That’s what the big guy called you, right?”

There’s a flurry of movement and the next thing he knows she’s sitting on the edge of his bed and pulling her pants back on. He grunts and sits up, hovering next to her shoulder.

“Hey, don’t. You don’t have to go anywhere, Rhon. I didn’t mean - “

“Don’t call me that!” She yells, hands angrily tugging at her pant leg. “Just stop, Wolfgang. I’m going. Thanks for the lay.” She says shortly as she leans down to grab the rest of her scattered clothing. Her hands are flying every which way and her shoulders are shaking. Wolfgang watches her for a moment before reaching out to still her hands.

“Rhonda.” He says as he squeezes her fingers ever so slightly.

“I don’t want to be me today.” She whispers. “I hate him for that. I love being Rhonda Wellington-Lloyd. But today, I just can’t stand it.” She turns to look at him with her beautiful brown eyes and he knows that he’ll agree to anything she’ll ask of him. “So, I’m only going to stay here if we go again, because at least when I’m fucking you I can forget.”

He nods and pulls her closer to him.

“Okay.” He agrees. “I don’t mind if you pretend.” Wolfgang kisses her neck as soft as he can, tugs her into his lap and trails a hand down her spine. She shivers and leans into him, needing. “Let’s forget together, Rhon.” And he thinks for a second that the words coming out of his mouth are not his own, because Wolfgang knows better, but the only person who might have pushed it all this far is dead-dead-dead, and he’s not ever coming back from that.

She jerks in his arms and pushes him away. He doesn’t fight it, just falls back to the sheets and mentally curses himself for fucking up.

“I’m stupid.” He apologizes.

“Yeah.” She agrees as she goes back to not looking at him. She quickly tugs on a shirt and stands up. “Three strikes. I’ll see you later, Wolfgang.” Then she leaves him alone in his bed to feel guilty for upsetting her. He throws an arm over his eyes and lets out a long breath.

“Girls suck.” He says to no one at all and even the air can tell he doesn’t mean it.

“I hope she’s okay.” He whispers before rolling over and closing his eyes. It’s been a long week.

---

“Two years, huh?”

Rhonda scowls. Why can’t anyone just leave it alone? She knows it’s been two years. So why does everyone feel the need to fucking remind her?

“No shit, Sherlock.” She replies as she rolls her eyes at Helga.

“Real sweet, Rhonda. Good to see that you haven’t lost all your charm.” Helga taunts, her lips twisted into a smirk. She stands behind Rhonda with her arms crossed over her chest, small wisps of pale blond hair blowing softly in the night breeze. Rhonda glares at her and tries to focus on positive things - like how there are only about 5 more hours until this horrible day is through.

“Go to Hell, Pataki.” Is Rhonda’s super eloquent response. With that award-winning closing statement, Rhonda returns to doing what she does best these days - staring aimlessly into the ruins of Hillwood as she reflects on how much she hates everyone.

Helga, for her part, does not go to Hell. Instead, she moves towards Rhonda and rests her hands on the banister. They’re standing on the balcony of the old tree house. Mighty Pete still stands strong, even while a war for life rages on around him.

“You oughta come back to the base, Rhonda. It’s not safe for -” Hesitation. “- people to be out after dark.”

“I guess that explains why you can stay out here.” Rhonda says cruelly. She doesn’t have to look to know that Helga has clenched her fists into tight, angry balls. Rhonda can tell that Helga would like nothing more than to punch her in the face and maybe even rip out her heart just for the fucking fun of it, but that doesn’t stop Rhonda from taunting her comrade anyway. “You’re not a full person anymore, after all. Just a monster.”

Helga lunges for her and they both go tumbling to the ground. Rhonda’s back hits the floor hard and Helga wastes no time in slapping Rhonda right across the face. Rhonda gasps and snakes her hands up to wrap around Helga’s neck, but Helga catches her wrists before she can make contact. She pushes Rhonda’s arms down and pins her to the wooden floor, snarling in her face.

“I’m not taking it back.” Rhonda seethes as she struggles against Helga’s grip, but Helga holds tight.

“You ought to thank the stars that I’m not beating the shit out of you right now, you insufferable twit. If it was any other day, I’d-"

“You’d what?!” Rhonda yells, hot tears brimming in the corners of her eyes. “You’d kick my ass? Do it, Helga! I fucking dare you.” She glares up at the Helga with angry eyes, while Helga’s gaze goes somewhat soft. Her one good eye holds nothing but pity and all Rhonda can feel is hatred towards everything and everyone. She never asked for Helga’s concern. “If you aren’t going to beat the crap out of me, then get off. I don’t have time for this.”

Helga obliges and releases Rhonda’s wrists. For a fleeting moment, Rhonda thinks about throwing in a quick punch, but decides that it isn’t worth it. The rage has gone out of Helga and she’s too damn smart to let Rhonda get her angry again.

They take a moment to compose themselves. Helga helps Rhonda up off the ground and then heads towards the ladder. She throws a glance back to make sure Rhonda is following her. She is. Not because she wants to, but because she knows that she doesn’t have any room to argue. Helga has never lost a single teammate.

And Rhonda hates her for that.

They stop at the base of the tree and Rhonda waits while Helga focuses. A few seconds later, Helga’s head snaps to attention and she points to a small alley across the street.

“We’ll take that back alley for a little and then cut through an old movie theatre. Luckily, the streets are pretty empty tonight. There’s a big gathering of ‘em up on 49th Street, so we’ll have to avoid going near there at all costs.” She reaches up a hand to adjust the band covering her left eye. As she moves it around, Rhonda manages to catch just a small glimpse of the eerie yellow light of Helga’s Creecher eye. She manages to stop herself from shuddering, but the sight still leaves her feeling unbearably cold.

“W-whatever.” Rhonda fumbles a bit, “Just lead the way.”

Helga does.

They spend the next ten minutes walking along in silence.

They’re both kind of surprised when Helga speaks first.

“It’s been two years.”

Rhonda stops. Just stops. Helga turns back to her and watches as Rhonda just stands there. Head hung down. Hands clenching and unclenching. No tears.

“I wish everyone would stop saying that. I’m not stupid and I don’t need the reminder. I get it. It’s been two years. Thank you for letting me know. Now, can we move on?” She wishes this had all come out in a stern, final voice, but it didn’t. Her whole body is trembling and the words that fell out of her mouth sound more like a plea than anything else.

“Rhonda….” Helga steps towards her, but Rhonda backs away.

“Fuck it, Helga. I don’t want to do this right now!” She yells. “I don’t want to think about this day, okay? I don’t want to think about two years ago or love or Haro-!” She stops suddenly, eyes wide and her voice choked up, lodged in the back of her throat.

“Say it, Rhonda. I haven’t heard you say his name in two years.” Helga’s voice grows stronger, demanding, “Say it.”

Helga takes another step towards Rhonda and this time Rhonda doesn’t move away. She holds her ground and Rhonda Wellington-Lloyd stares Helga G. Pataki straight in the eye.

“You can’t make me.”

Rhonda’s right.

“Harold Berman.” Helga breathes.

Rhonda doesn’t move right away - just stands there, blinking. Her expression gives nothing away. It’s like looking at a blank slate.

“Oh.” She says softly as she exhales.

Something snaps inside of her and the next thing Rhonda knows, she’s running - sprinting away from Helga and the base and hope and making a beeline for the wonderful land of Anywhere But Here. A small voice in the back of her mind wonders how long she has until the Creechers find her, but an even bigger voice squashes that down with an -

I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care

She’s halfway to nowhere when she trips over a crack in the sidewalk and goes tumbling down.

The cement is not soft.

Her palms are bleeding from the impact.

And his name is still echoing in all the corners of her mind.

“You’re gonna get killed this way, Rhon.”

She lets out a sharp breath and flips onto her back, begging the stars that it could be… that it might be... that it’s….

Helga steps out of the darkness.

“It’s not fair.” Rhonda whispers.

“Will you say it?” Helga does not move any closer. She waits. Watches. Protects.

Helga has never let a teammate die.

And Rhonda will never be able to forgive herself for not being Helga.

“Harold. His name was Harold Berman. I loved him. He died. Two years ago.” Rhonda lets the name go, allows it to burrow itself once again into all the painful places in the back of her mind. She didn’t want to remember. Helga is too damn smart for her own good.

“Tell me.” Helga demands. Rhonda could refuse. She could.

Instead she sits up and drags herself to the nearest wall. She leans her head against it and stares up at the night sky. How many more hours ‘til this day is done? Too many, she decides. Too fucking many.

“Okay.” Rhonda whispers.

And everything begins.





a/n: Man, I suck. I was supposed to work on Trying, but I got um…. sidetracked? Whatever, I’ve been playing around with an idea like this for a while now. I was planning on making a one-shot Harold/Rhonda set in my Darkverse. Instead, I think this is going to be a 3-5 chapter fic that’s Harold/Rhonda in the Darkverse, but with an emphasis on Rhonda and love and death and love/life after death and teamwork and sex and distant hopes and just… whatever I think fits in, basically.

I will go back to Trying soon! Like, I’m not going to try and finish this first or anything silly like that.

Also, the timeline of this is gonna be weird. Next chapter is gonna be what was happening two years ago. And the one following that should be from the present. At least in theory.

I actually didn't plan for Harold to be dead when I started this. It just sort of happened that way. :(

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stillthekey: (Default)
Alyssa Marie

April 2012

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