Finding the Lost Journey

Composed By ~*Silver Kitten*~

A/N: Hello there *waves* It is I, Silver Kitten, bored and inspired once again to spin a tale and see who might just read and review it.  It's been a really long time since I last posted something…I almost thought about giving up on my story ideas for Hey Arnold (in fact I guess I did for a while…:-S) However, I just can't stray away from the entities of inspiration Hey Arnold leaves me with.  Therefore, I've decided to awake from my dormant authoring and just…well, post.  I've had this idea forever it seems like, and I must give warning that this story will probably end up someplace completely different than what this first chapter is encouraging.  We all know the story of where Helga leaves…then comes back, changed and stuff happens with Arnold.  I love that frankly overused plot, although I'm using it to another advantage.  One, that is, you won't see until later throughout the duration of this story—that is, if you'd be so kind as to give it a chance.   I no longer wish to bore you and perhaps turn you away so early on, especially after you took the time to click on the link to my story (I thank you!), so without further ado…okay, a little more ado, I give you the slightly dull but soon to get a lot more interesting first chapter of Finding the Lost Journey

Disclaimer: Alright, can't forget about this legal stuff can I?  I don't own Hey Arnold!  I never have, and probably never will unless my deal goes through with Craig…heehee

"Courage see me through,

Heart I'm trusting you,

On this journey to the past.

Somewhere down this road,

I know someone's waiting,

Years of dreams just can't be wrong."

Journey to the Past—Aaliyah

Foreword:

He was the boy next door.  She was the girl always hiding in his closet. 

Sometimes the most unexpected things happen in our lives, things we don't always understand, things we struggle to forget.  In this tale you'll see how the two separate roads of two young people grow and slowly merge into a path that together they'll travel to unknown worlds of adventure.  They will solve a reclusive mystery.  They will land in unforeseen territory and navigate it, finding a long awaited understanding.  They will avow a promise of love…that dare not be broken. 

Granted the necessary time, their paths will unravel before them when they're ready.  And the journey begins when they meet…half way there.

Finding the Lost Journey

Part One: Familiar Strangers

~*Arnold's Point of View*~

"Hey, guess who just came back in town," a mysteriously anxious Gerald asked me, raising his eyebrows. 

"I give up…who?"  I asked with a curious impatience. 

"Does the name Helga Pataki ring a bell?"  He went on, with a crooked smile. 

"Helga's back?  When did she get here?  When is she leaving?"

"Whoa, slow down," Gerald laughed.  "She got here yesterday.  She's here for Phoebe's bridal shower, of course.  And I'm not sure when she's leaving." He answered, still smiling. 

I could tell by the awkward expression on his face he expected my reaction and was mocking me with it.  I decided to divert his attention on something other than me and Helga. 

"Ah, yeah, so Phoebe must be pretty excited." I told him. 

"Well, that's the Gerald charm for you," he added, winking.  "Say, she's almost as excited as you were when I mentioned Helga." 

"Come on, Gerald, you need new material to tease me with.  What happened with Helga and me happened twelve years ago." I informed him for the millionth time. 

"You guys kissed!" he continued, nudging my arm. 

"She kissed me…on the cheek.  That was all!  It really didn't mean anything…I've practically forgotten all about it." I remarked with a heavy sigh. 

"Yeah, and that's why for the following couple of weeks after she left it was all you could talk about." He said amused by my irritation. 

"Gerald…" 

"Sorry, man," he chuckled.  "I'll let it be.  Either way, you're going to see her at the dinner party tomorrow." He explained, unable to hide another approaching outburst of laughter.  I could nearly laugh at his menacing nature.

"You know, I don't have to come to your little get-together tomorrow," I said to him sincerely. 

"I know.  But the thing is...you will come." And with that he stood up.  "I've got to get home now; I need to get some sleep so I can be all rested for tomorrow.  I suggest you do the same, buddy." He added, patting me on the back. 

"Yeah.  'Night then.  I'll see you tomorrow." I replied.  After he left, I locked the door and flopped back on my couch and let my thoughts drain back to memory…

--Flashback--

It was foggy, cold, and damp.  I was wondering why she called me here.  What could she have to say to me?  I don't even know why I came…

"Arnold?" I heard a whisper from the opaque surrounding.  I took a few steps forward, and a bench was nearly visible with a silhouette of a girl sitting on it. 

"Yeah, I'm here, Helga," I replied, taking a seat next to her.  I was pretty sure all we could see was each other.

"Sorry…I didn't think it'd get this foggy.  I'm surprised you came." She told me a little dejectedly. 

"I'm kind of surprised you called me here," I said laughing a little, trying to lighten the tension that seemed to be hovering around us much like the fog. 

"Um…I…I just wanted to say goodbye…" she continued, and then paused. 

"Goodbye?" I repeated.  "What do you mean?"  I questioned.  I knew what goodbye meant…but why was she saying it to me?

"I mean…I'm leaving…tonight."

Her words seem to cut through the fog and my body.  A quick chill throbbed inside of me. 

"What?  To where?" I inquired, not knowing what I should ask now. 

"Alaska," she began and then stopped.  It looked as though she could cry. 

"Alaska!  Why…?"  I wondered out loud, almost offended.  She must be playing some kind of a joke on me; she was known to play with my emotions. 

"I…It's complicated, Arnold.  But…don't worry.  This means no more Helga Pataki to annoy you, or insult you, or put you down…" she interjected, a hint of despair in her voice. 

"Helga," 

"Anyways, I just wanted to say goodbye.  And…well that I'm sorry for everything…for…what its worth."  She continued, standing up. 

"Wait," I stammered, standing up as well.  I could tell now that she was completely serious, and it was frankly scaring me.  But she wouldn't let me really say anything. 

"Oh," she turned around to face me, "I also wanted to…well…thank you." She told me.  She stood rather rigidly, deeply contemplating something.  Then she leaned in and kissed me softly on the cheek, and then quickly, as if she did something she shouldn't have, she reserved herself again.  She started off walking and I followed. 

"Please, tell me something.  It's the least you could do." I pleaded one final time.  A look of disapproval shot across her face. 

"Tell you something?" she began, "All right...okay Football head.  I…I…love…" there were fresh tears forming in her eyes, but she blinked them away in the middle of her statement and composed herself.  "I…I would have loved…to have been a better person towards you, or to anyone.  I have to go now, goodbye," she said.  She proceeded walking and I remained standing still for a moment. 

"Helga…will I ever see you again?" I asked.  I wasn't sure where the question came from, but I knew deep down…I wanted to know. 

"If we do meet again…I will, without a doubt, believe in fate." She answered.  And with that she walked away, disappearing into the fog like a ghost into the dark, just leaving its haunting memory with you like a melancholy picture in your head, slowly fading into a blank, void fog that will remain inside me…forever.    

--End of Flashback--

"Helga…" I said just above a breath.  I was startled by how the mere thought of her caught my attention so steadfastly. 

I have no idea how tomorrow will turn out…I can only hope for the best. 

~*The Following Day, Helga's Point of View*~

As I stepped off the bus, there was a misty coolness in the air, a kind of dry cold that attached to my body and strung chills with each pass of the wind.   I buttoned the last button on my lengthy brown trench coat and held the collar tightly shut, trying to navigate the once familiar streets that were holding a kind of physical manifestation aspect of what people call "memory lane". 

I finally found Chez Paris, where Phoebe informed me to meet her for the little get together.  I stood outside the oversized window and overlooked a buzzing commotion of recognizable faces, talking, laughing, and being simply happy.  I tightened the grip on my purse and suitcase, unsure if I should really go inside.  Would they recognize me?  Would they remember me as the hateful bully?  There were certain memories I didn't want to arise…

I saw Phoebe and Gerald then, holding hands, giving each other a small, but passionate kiss.  I knew then if I were to go in, it would be for Phoebe.  I owed it to her.  To have such a wonderful, forgiving and understanding friend as her was a precious element in my life.  I took a deep breath, and walked into Chez Paris, firstly greeted by a pair of jingling bells that did their job announcing another guest.  Suddenly, all eyes seemed to be on me. 

"Helga!" I heard Phoebe call to me excitedly.  She stood up, made her way through tables and extended chairs to me and we shared a long, overdue hug. 

"Oh, I've missed you," I exclaimed.  Everyone then seemed to be in awe and friendly cheer. 

"I've missed you too!" Phoebe said, wiping a tear from her eye. 

"Oh, don't cry, you'll get me started," I told her, and we laughed.  She led me to a table, and as we walked I heard many people exclaim "Welcome back, Helga", or "It's been a while—good to see you," and I'd smile and wave.  I sat at a little round table, Phoebe next to me who sat next to Gerald and there was one other empty seat, not to mention one face I wanted eagerly to see that I hadn't yet seen. 

"Hey guys, sorry I'm late," an immediately recognized voice came from behind me.  I turned around and sat, staring eye to eye with Arnold who now just realized I was here.  He had a look of astonishment on his face, but it looked as though he was trying to hide it.  I felt my face burn with embarrassment, and looked away back at the table. 

"It's okay, have a seat, Arnold," Gerald instructed Arnold.  I felt Arnold's arm brush past my back as he took the seat next to me. 

"Helga, this is Arnold…surely you remember him.  Arnold, of course you remember Helga," Phoebe reintroduced us, since neither of us seemed to be able to speak. 

"Hi, Arnold," I said, feeling a little bashful.  I wonder if he remembered the day I left…

"Hey…I um…wow, it's great seeing you again," he commented, and smiled widely. 

"Yeah, it's great seeing you too…" I told him.  No one at our table seemed to make eye contact for a moment. 

"So, how was the duration of your flight, Helga?" Phoebe asked, trying to break the immobile silence. 

"Oh, it was fine.  I still hate flying though," I said, laughing a little. 

"Glad you had a safe trip," Gerald inserted, "I don't think our wedding would be the same without you.  And I know Arnold here wouldn't be the same without you," he added, hitting Arnold on the back, who turned seven different hues of red.  Phoebe had picked up that I didn't know what to say, so she spoke for me. 

"Yes, you know Gerald and I are so contented you could make it." She smiled at me.  "So tell us, how is Alaska?"

"Alaska is…quite cold.  But the people there are pretty nice, especially the children." I answered, keeping my eyes locked with Phoebe's, once in a while glancing at Gerald.  I was afraid to look at Arnold, who wasn't saying anything. 

"Anyways, so the big day is in just three weeks?  I can't say I'm surprised you're marrying each other.  I think you two have been meant for each other since…at least preschool," I told them with a smile. 

"What can I say, Phoebe is an amazing girl…you know, I think there are two other people who have been meant for each other for a while now, like Arn"—

"Oh," Phoebe cut in on purpose, knowing what Gerald was going to say, "Everyone seems to be in attendance.  Gerald, why don't you call for a waiter," she suggested.  Gerald grinned and raised his hand in the hair, snapping his fingers.  While the waiter walked over, I cautiously looked towards Arnold.  When I did, our eyes met but he quickly turned away. 

After a few moments, everyone had ordered, and once again quiet was in the air around our table. 

"Hey Arnold, how's your new apartment?  Are you used to living…alone…yet?" Gerald inquired with a probing initiation in his tone.  

"Yeah, the apartment is really nice.  Has a great view," Arnold explained, and his eyes wandered towards me. 

"So you aren't living at the Sunset Arms?" I decided to ask, for conversation's sake.  Maybe Arnold wasn't humiliated by my presence after all, his eyes lit up when I asked. 

"No, my grandparents still run it, and they finally convinced me they didn't need my help." He said, grinning. 

"Wow, your grandparents are real survivors," I said in amazement.  He laughed. 

"Yeah, they really are."  He commented. 

The waiter had brought our food, and for the next hour everyone around us engaged in small talk, catching up on how everyone was doing.  It was around nine now and most everyone was getting ready to go home, but not before stopping by the bride and groom-to-be's table.  I shared quick hellos and goodbyes with old friends like Eugene and Sheena, who had been dating steadily for a year now, and Nadine and Rhonda, along with Sid, Stinky, Harold and Patty, and a few other familiar faces. 

"Well, I guess I should get going now, I need to get a hotel room," I said. 

"Hotel?  Why not stay with your parents?  Don't they want to see you, too?" Arnold asked.  I cringed. 

"Oh um…because…they're on vacation, and everything…so, I told them I'd just get a hotel." I explained.  Everyone nodded. 

"Do you want me to walk you to a hotel…or something?" offered Arnold, who stared up at me now as I stood. 

"No, that's fine, but thanks for offering.  I'll just catch a bus." I said.  "I had a great time, Phoebe, Gerald, and it was really nice to see you again, Arnold.  I'll um, see you all later," I said.  I gave Phoebe one last hug goodbye and told her I'd call her tomorrow, and then headed out into the nighttime streets of Hillwood.   

~*Arnold's Point of View*~

I watched her as she walked out, afraid to blink that I might not see her again…

"Well it certainly was superb to see Helga again.  Her character really appears to have altered for the better; don't you think so, Arnold?"  Phoebe asked. 

"Oh…yes…I mean…well,"

"What he means is he definitely agrees," Gerald decided to decipher from my stumbling over words.  "You couldn't keep your eyes of her, man," he continued.  I tried not to let the truth in his words verify itself through my blushing.

"Yeah, well it has been nearly twelve years since I've seen her," I elucidated.  I couldn't be so angry with Gerald for his sudden spark of humor in mocking my affairs.  I knew he was just giving me a taste of my own medicine.  I'd been tipping off taunts ever since he started dating Phoebe in high school, and being in love did seem to enlighten his knowledge of flirtatious devices. Still though…I couldn't pinpoint what was truly bothering me: Gerald's teasing remarks…or how Gerald voiced my inner thoughts even I didn't realize I was thinking…or did I? 

"Oh hey," Gerald said in a more serious tone than he'd used all night, "This hat, I think it belongs to Helga.  She must have left it here.  Maybe someone should try and catch up to her to return it," he recommended.

"Well, I should be heading home anyways.  I'll take it, I mean, since I'm going anyways…I can probably catch up to her," I responded.  Gerald handed me the hat. 

"Thanks, well then, have a good night bud; I'll see you around,"

"Yes, good night, Arnold, have a pleasant evening," Phoebe said alongside Gerald. 

"Same to the both of you, good night," I said, "Oh, and congratulations again," I added, and then grabbed my own jacket and left. 

Night was well settled in now as I walked the dimly lit streets to the nearest bus stop.  For an early summer night it was still a little chilly, I decided to hurry a little more in hopes of catching up to Helga faster, assuming she hasn't boarded a bus yet. 

Nearing the bus stop, I noticed there wasn't anyone there.  I sighed, slowing down a little, and wondered if I should track her down further by visiting every hotel in Hillwood.  I heard a muffled noise and discerned among the shadows that there was a dark, hidden alleyway up ahead.  There were scurrying noises at first I thought were from rats, but then I heard shoes scuffing the gravel and indistinct voices. 

"Help!" came a familiar female's struggling voice, followed by more shuffling noises and an older man's voice, I think calling "Get back here!" 

I sprinted up to the alleyway entrance and had my fears realized.  There was a woman being chased by two deranged men, who happened to catch her.  She tried to scream but they covered her mouth. 

"Give me your money!" one of them ordered in a hurried and tentative manner, as they held the woman.

"Yeah, and…and your purse," the other one said while in a state of obvious intoxication. 

"Hey!" I interrupted, "Leave her alone!"

I walked hastily towards them, not knowing what to expect.  The one holding the woman pushed her aside and she fell to the ground, and then he came after me.  He swung and I ducked just in time, grabbing a piece of wood to use, and smacked it on the guy's head, hard enough to knock him out. 

The other one, suddenly appearing more sober than I thought, looked at me and then at his partner and ran, but not before grabbing the lady's purse.  I didn't have enough time to run after him before it was too late.  I ran to the woman who lay on the ground crying, and suddenly became aware of who it was. 

"Helga!  Oh my God, are you all right?" I asked, taking her hands and helping her up.  She looked at me through distrustful eyes at first, not yet seeing who I was.

"Arnold?" she said in a low voice, trying to recognize me.  She then threw her arms around me and I held her tightly.  "I'm fine now, thanks to you," she said. 

"What happened?" I questioned, nearly ready to chase after the guy who ran away. 

"I…I was just walking, and out of no where those two guys started following me, but I didn't think anything of it at first.  They followed me straight to the bus stop…and…I was getting scared and didn't want to stop moving with them so close behind me.  I turned into this alleyway here…I know, not the brightest thing to do, but I just wanted to get away, hoping they'd leave.  The next thing I knew they were chasing me, and…" she paused, shivering, looking at the man lying on the ground.   

"Shh, it's alright now," I hushed her, wiping a few tears from her cheeks. 

"You always seem to come to my rescue…and…not that I'm not appreciative of you saving me…but…why were you…I mean,"

"Oh," I said, understanding she must wonder why I was perhaps following her, "You forgot your hat, so I was trying to catch up to you actually," I explained, picking the hat up off the ground.  She tilted her head and looked at it curiously.

"That was nice of you but…that hat doesn't belong to me," she told me, almost laughingly. 

"But Gerald said," I paused and clutched the hat in my hand, "Ugh…Gerald," I trailed off.  He must have set me up so I'd follow Helga…

"What is it?" she asked, looking at the hat again and then me.

"Oh, nothing, there was a…mistake, that's all," I lied.  "Anyways, that creep got away with your purse, didn't he?"

"Yeah, but thankfully I still have my suitcase but…I'm not sure what I'm going to do now…" she said sadly. 

"Well…first we'll report it to the police, and have that idiot over there arrested…and…well," I gulped, afraid to say what was on my mind, "If you want…you could stay with me, that is, um, if you…wanted to," I suggested, slightly looking away and feeling a little bashful. 

"You wouldn't mind?  I really wouldn't want to impose or anything," she said. 

"You wouldn't be imposing, trust me, I wouldn't mind." I clarified.  

"All right then," She smiled a half smile.  We then walked to my apartment that luckily wasn't too far away and notified the police of the criminal, reporting Helga's missing purse. 

~*Helga's Point of View*~

It was nearing eleven now and both Arnold and I got a bit more comfortable, but still feeling the effects of all that's happened this night.   

 "Can I get you anything?" Arnold inquired with a smile.

"I'm fine, thanks," I told him.  He then sat down in a chair opposite of the couch I was sitting on. 

I couldn't believe how handsome he looked.  Well, of course I could believe it, I just didn't think I'd ever see him again, let alone stay in his apartment.  It amazed me how my juvenile crush seemed to develop a more mature amorous nature, even though I haven't seen him in nearly twelve years…

"So, Helga, it's been so long.  How have you been?  How's your life going?" he asked, innocently enough.  I knew the answer all to well, but the tricky part was being able to say it.  I didn't want to dump all of my issues on him, so I tried to go around the question without getting into detail.

"I've been doing pretty well I'd suppose.  My life itself…still has a lot of kinks to work out, if you know what I mean," I said, and he nodded, looking at me in such a way as I believed he truly understood.  "How about you?"

 "Same here, pretty much.  I've just been working part time now at several different places.  I can't really seem to find a job I like, so I keep trying new things," he told me.  "So…in Alaska, what did you do there?"

"I um, I basically helped my sister, Olga, teach.  I was a kind of…teacher aid, I guess you could say.  During the summer, not that there was much of one," I added with a small laugh, "I worked at this ice cream store.  Yeah, fun, I know," I added with a hint of sarcasm.  Arnold laughed. 

"Sounds fun.  So…when are you going back?" he asked a bit hesitantly. 

"I'm not sure, really.  I…there's a lot of stuff I need to take care of.  See, I saved most of my money, that's in a bank account, and I was planning on just…maybe getting an apartment or something here, eventually.  I don't have a lot of personal possessions, I left most when…" I stopped, realizing where my statement was heading.

"When what?" he asked with inquisitiveness.  I swallowed hard. 

"Oh, I just mean when I left, I didn't take a lot of my stuff with me.  And in Alaska I lived with Olga.  I haven't bothered myself too much with material possessions." I explained. 

"I see, so…you could be here for a month…or a year even is that it?"  He wondered.   

"Hmm…yes, anything is possible at this point…" I said with hidden despair. 

There for a few moments we sat in quiet, while I stared admiringly at his apartment. 

"So…any love interests?" he asked, striking me, unprepared to answer. 

"No," I lied quickly, "Well, not yet anyways…how about you?"

"Me?  No, but I'm pretty sure the one for me is out there…somewhere…" he said, his voice ending with a twinge of hope.  I couldn't help but laugh a little at certain memories arising in my mind.

"What's so funny?" he asked, half amused himself. 

"Oh, I was just remembering when we were younger…you always seemed to be a fool in love, and unfortunately always in love with a fool," I said. 

"Well you know Helga, you always were the most foolish girl I knew," he remarked, flashing a perhaps irrepressible smile, one I had shyly returned.  Then the two of us began to laugh, maybe remembering other attributes of our childhood. 

Both of our laughter slowly subsided to a quiet, humbling state of thought and undisclosed reconciliation.  There was something dreadfully nostalgic about being here with him, and that nostalgia was only amplified by us being separated for so long.  It felt so ordinary to be with him, almost natural—and given our divided past and misbegotten history of events—it was miraculous. 

"Gosh…Phoebe and Gerald getting married…those two are so right for each other," I commented wistfully. 

"Yeah, they really are.  You know, Phoebe's always talked about you.  Hillwood really hasn't been the same since you've left, and she missed you a lot, and," Arnold halted mid-sentence, taking a deep breath.  "And…I…really missed you." He put in, then clearing his throat.  I wanted to smile, but I realized the reason I couldn't was because I already was. 

"I've really missed you, too, Arnold…" I told him.  He looked at me genially, contented, until there was a loud, crashing noise coming from the other room. 

"What was that?" I whispered with obtrusive fear.  Arnold instantly stood up, motioning me to stay quiet with his finger to his lips.  He carefully stalked the hall towards his bedroom.  It was dark, barely lit by the fading light of the living room as he went deeper and deeper towards the origin of the sound.  I twisted around on the couch, half taken by fear and half by curiosity.  Once his sight was completely obscure by the wall I panicked.  I got up to follow.  I heard a door burst open, slamming against a wall before I made it to the hallway. 

"Arnold?" I called into the dark, as a door in the end of the hall slowly creaked open.  A gust of cold wind brushed past me, with an agile blue glow emanating from the room, spreading throughout the edge of the hall.  It became too irrevocably quiet upon hearing the slam, and no response from Arnold.  I took a few steps, each step granting me a better view of the room.  First I saw a window where the blue glow came from, its white linen curtains swaying heavily back and forth from the cool wind.  Next I saw something shiny sprawled out on the hardwood floor; undoubtedly particles of glass. 

I made it to the doorway, opening the door its last bit of length before being completely open and saw Arnold standing, hovering attentively in one spot over something. 

"Arnold?" I said again, softer as to get his attention but not startle him.  He turned and looked at me with saddened, confused eyes, and looked back down.  He then bent down and picked something up.  I walked in, stood next to him and saw what he was staring so intently at. 

It was a picture of his parents, the frame greatly broken now.  Over to the other side of him, spread out were boxes, tattered and rummaged through in a hasty, unorganized fashion, with clothes all around. 

"Someone was in here," he said finally, haplessly, "Someone was looking for something…" 

"But…what could they want?" I asked the obvious question. 

Before he could answer, I grabbed his arm, grasping it tightly.  He looked at me in caution, and his eyes must have then followed my own—to a mirror on the wall in front of us, depicting what was at the back of us.  An ominous, shadowy figure was standing in the doorway behind us; his arm steadily coming into the muted light, revealing a gun in his hand.

I screamed but all too late—a shot had been fired…

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

There you have it people…so…what did you think?  Wait, do I want to know?  I don't like flames but I will accept them, as usual.  Any and all comments are welcome and highly, highly, highly appreciated.  How can I make it better?  Oh, and sorry for the cliffhanger.  Hahaha…well ok, I'm not really sorry…I like cliffhangers as much as I hate them.  Hopefully I did a decent job of a cliffhanger…not actually leaving you guys hanging off a cliff cuz…well that would be rude.  Anyways, please review in any way, shape, or form. 

Oh, and this will get more interesting (I hope), because…well, I'm not too good at writing beginnings.  In fact, I started over on the beginning of this story like five times, no kidding.  Well, in hopes of getting nice reviews, I promise to get the next parts out as soon as possible.  I already have part two nearly finished.  Oh and for those of you…if there are any, who have read my other stories…sometimes I have a tendency to start off a story line and then not complete it.  Well, this is my chance to change that little reputation.  Thanks!  Take care,

~*Silver Kitten*~

By the way (sorry, you just can't seem to get rid of me can ya?) I want to clarify ahead of time…if something or most things in this chapter aren't yet understandable (for instance, why Helga left so long ago, etc.) I promise that eventually everything will come to a conclusion.  Okay?  Okay!  Bye for now *waves*