Disclaimer: Hey Arnold! Does not belong to me.
Author's Note: It's been a while, but I'm back. This fic had originally been from Helga's POV, but I think this turned out just as good and I'd like to dedicate this fic to my grandfather, may he rest in peace and also to a dear friend, Falisha. You know who you are. This is my way of thanking you for always being there when I needed someone. You've helped me with so much and I can not thank you enough. So, please, do enjoy.
Arnold walked silently toward the cemetery gates. He had been coming ever since the funeral. It became a daily habit. At times he'd find himself drifting toward the cemetery. He did it subconsciously sometimes, never really realizing where he was actually going. But whether he knew about it or not, he liked it best there. Maybe it was because it was where his grandpa now stayed. He sighed deeply as he thought of him. He couldn't stand thinking about him. It hurt too much, but what else could he do? His mind was always thinking about his grandfather.
He made his way down the path and he soon came to the grave site. The dirt was still a little fresh.
"Hey, grandpa," he greeted as he kneeled beside him. A memory flashed before his eyes as he sat down. He had done this before when his grandfather lay sick in bed. He closed his eyes tight and shook his head, trying in vain to get rid of the haunting memory. He looked back at the tombstone with his grandfather's name etched in it. "I'm going back to school tomorrow," he said as he smiled weakly.
He had been out for two weeks. He had been at home, helping his grandparents around the house. His grandfather couldn't get up and his grandmother took care of him while the borders helped clean. Arnold helped with anything and everything that he could, although sometimes it felt as if it wasn't good enough. He felt useless. It was a joke. He wasn't really helping anything. He had only really helped his grandpa a few times. Feeding him and helping him walk around. It had been the only real thing he could do and he blamed himself for everything that went wrong. If he had only pushed himself to help more, than maybe his grandfather would still be alive. He hadn't tried hard enough to help and it always angered him. He was always angry, always depressed. It wasn't like him at all, but there was nothing he could do to change how he felt. He hated himself for not helping, for being do damn useless! His grandfather was right there! Right there! He was dying right before his eyes and he just sat back and watched! He sat back and watched! What kind of a person does that? What kind of person does nothing and just watches as someone they love dies before their eyes? He had waited for the man to die!
Hate is such a powerful word, so everyone said. But Arnold hated him self. Really hated himself. He believed he was the cause for the downfall of his grandfather. He did nothing to help. Nothing. He did nothing at all. He remembered how he sat by Phil on one occasion. Phil always made some type of noise while he slept and when he stopped, Arnold had become fearful. He sat in his chair watching him. When his grandfather's chest did not rise, he panicked. His heart raced a mile a minute as he watched him. A lump grew in the back of his throat as the tears came. "Grandpa?" he asked. No answer. A tear slid down his cheek as he continued to watched. He eased closer. "Grandpa?" he asked again, his voice louder. He shook his head, he couldn't believe it. This wasn't happening, this really wasn't-
He coughed and awoke as if nothing had happened and Arnold breathed a sigh of relief then. That moment seemed to define him. He sat and watched and did nothing. Even if it had only been a false alarm, Arnold had done nothing to save the man! He didn't even lean close to check for a pulse or anything. He did nothing! And when the day arrived where Phil would finally pass, it was too late to do anything. Arnold remembered it all too clearly. He had gone out for only 15 minutes at the most. He didn't want to be away when it happened, but there was nothing he could do. He walked home with a cousin of his and it had been one of the neighbors who had approached them. "He died," she said simply.
"Who?" Arnold had asked, though, he already knew who it was. His heart raced as he ran the rest of the way room, worrying every second, hoping that maybe just maybe the neighbor had been talking about someone.
When he entered the boarding house he looked around. There was not a smiling face in the house.
"Arnold," came a soft voice. Susie stood, tears in her eyes and that had been when the dread really began to take a hold of him. His tears were ready to burst free, but he held them back with everything he had.
No! Arnold thought as he ran to his grandfather's room. People flooded the room. Screams and tears were everywhere. But nothing hit him, really hit him until he was staring at his grandfather's lifeless body. He placed a hand over his mouth as his vision blurred. A pain so unexpected completely engulfed his heart as the dread became something far worse. He hadn't even noticed the tears until he was in his grandmother's arms and that was when he had fallen apart. He felt the world crumbling, just coming to an end. He couldn't believe how in one moment, one moment everything could change in a flash and then. . .
She held him, Arnold's grandmother. She soothed him as he cried. Tears in her own eyes for her husband. He couldn't believe the pain that had come so quickly, so swiftly like a sudden breeze. It was like someone slowly ripping your heart out. It all consumed him. The pain, the hurt, the sorrow until there was nothing but the agony of it all and as he sat there staring at his grandfather's name on the tombstone, every memory played back to him like a movie and there was no way for him to press "Pause" or "Stop." There was no "Rewind" or "Fast Forward." There was nothing but "Play." Scene after scene of unbearable pain and he was reliving every moment of it and it tore him apart. Nothing at all seemed to be right and nothing made sense. His grandmother wasn't herself. She was different. She was someone else. She was mourning like everyone else.
He forced the lump in his throat back. "It's different," he said, "without you." He sighed heavily and slowly. "Grandma misses you. I miss. Every misses you." He smiled weakly again as he looked at the tombstone and then his smile fell. He looked at his hands.
"Grandma isn't doing to well," he began again as he stared at his hands. "She says sometimes she can't breathe and she can't get any air. I have to rush her outside. She doesn't want to see a doctor."
The urge to cry began to take hold of him, but he couldn't. He didn't know why. He had cried so much that he remind dry of tears. The last time he cried had been exactly a week ago at the burial. He remembered how he had almost fainted in the church. He hadn't eaten at all that day or the day before. That had eventually caught up to him and the loss of his grandfather was really taking it's toll. After that, the tears stopped, his anger grew and he distanced himself from everyone. He slowly began to form a shell around himself, one that grew harder and harder with the more anger and hate he consumed.
The night's chilled air whirled around him. He wrapped his arms around himself to keep warm. He had on his old sweater. He didn't think it'd be very cold. He closed his eyes. "Grandpa," he whispered into the night's chilly breeze and suddenly, as if god had heard his silent prayer for warmth as he asked his grandpa, a warmth embraced him and he could feel it beside him. He turned. Helga sat beside him looking down. She said nothing as he stared at her. She had definitely grown mature over the years, thought it was strange. She had become so angry as time went by and yet her features seemed to become softer with time. It had probably been because of the beauty she now had.
"Helga?" he asked.
"Yeah?" she replied.
"What are you doing here?"
"I come here from time to time, you got a problem with that?" she asked a little defensively as she turned to look at him, frustrations in her eyes and voice.
"No," he said. "No problem."
She shivered from the cold. He removed the jacket and handed it back to her. "You keep it," she said. "I won't be here much longer. I saw you and thought that. . ." she seemed to be thinking of the right words to say. Her cheeks suddenly grew rosy. ". . .I thought that you could use some company."
"You were worried about me, Helga?" he asked.
"No!" she said quickly.
"Never mind!" she shouted as she stood. She began to walk away, but Arnold's hand shot up and he held her back. She turned, taken aback by his reaction.
He hadn't exactly realized he had done it, but it didn't matter. He wanted to be with someone. He didn't want to be alone anymore. He wanted the comfort he needed. "Please, stay." he pleaded. "I. . .I don't want to be alone anymore."
Helga's eyes grew soft and almost tender. With a defeated sigh she sat down beside him again. There was a long silence between them, but Arnold didn't mind this silence. It wasn't like the uncomfortable silence that he shared with his grandfather now. That silence he couldn't handle, but this he could. This was a comfort compared to the other. Though, it may sounded strange, it was true.
"I'm sorry about your grandpa. . .Arnold."
Arnold turned to Helga. He looked at her for a long time before he said anything. "It's. . .I. . ." He paused and then took a deep breath. "Thank you."
There was more silence and Helga shifted.
"I wasn't expecting him to get so sick," Arnold began. Helga turned to him. "I didn't think it would get so bad. He always looked so healthy, you know. I didn't think he could ever get sick, but when I heard that he was I thought it'd pass quickly. It didn't, though." He hid his eyes from her. "He steadily grew worse and worse each day and I never knew about it because he never mentioned it. I thought he had gotten better and then one day he couldn't get out of bed.
"I still wonder just how he got sick and why he never said anything. These past few years or so he had been having some kidney failure and he hadn't been getting any treatment. He refused it. He made every doctor check up seem fine when he came home and I was so clueless. I guess it was finally catching up to him." He shrugged as he looked down. Helga did not reply.
"I feel so betrayed," he continued after a short pause. "He left at the worst possible time. Sometimes I can't help but think that he just gave up. On grandma, the boarders. . . me. And then I get angry. I get angry at him for leaving all of us like this. Like it wasn't bad enough that he was putting this pain on us while he was alive-" His hands balled into fists "but now it's even worse that he's gone. He just couldn't hold out could he! He just had to leave because he wanted to! How selfish can a person be? Answer me that!"
He shook his head as his anger continued to grow. His fists clenched at his sides. He looked at his grandfather's gravestone. "God, I just hate him sometimes!" He punched the soft dirt where his grandfather now lay. Helga was momentarily frightened. She had never seen Arnold so angry. He was always so calm and together, but he was obviously going through some things that not even he could control. "It's not fair! Couldn't he have stayed for me? For grandma?!" His voice grew softer as he continued to speak, "She's so alone right now. She has no one in the world to talk to and. . .I can't help her. . .I can't help her."His voice had become a whisper and Helga thought he'd cry.
Arnold looked down as Helga opened her mouth to say something, but she thought better of it. There was nothing she could say to ease his pain anyway. There was no point and she didn't think he'd want to her thoughts on anything anyway.
"I can't even help myself, Helga," he said as he looked up at her. He had the urge to cry again. His heart hurt. It felt as if someone was twisting it, trying to tear it apart. He placed a hand above his heart and he squeezed his chest, trying to stop the pain. "It hurts so much. I don't know how to stop it. I feel so helpless. Really helpless and I don't like it at all. How am I suppose to help grandma if I can't help myself overcome this? I. . .it hurts me even more to think that I can't do anything for grandma. I mean, I wasn't able to help grandpa and now I can't help my grandma. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to get rid of the pain. I've cried so much when he passed that I can't even cry now. Sometimes I feel like he'll just come walking through the door like nothing ever happened and we'd go on. Even after a week it still feels so unreal, and yet I know the truth. It doesn't make any sense to me and sometimes I think and think so much that it all gets lumped up together and nothing makes any sense."
He leaned forward as he paused. "I'm lost, Helga," he whispered. "Please, please, help me." He looked up at her and for the first time in a weeks, he cried. "Don't leave me. Just. . .please, help me. It hurts. It hurts so much. Help me, please." His eyes begged her for something that he knew not even she could bring him: peace. But something happened that Arnold hadn't been expecting.
As Arnold looked at her, pleadingly, Helga looked back at him. Her eyes grew soft and tender with so much love that he had begun to think that he wasn't with Helga at all. At least not the one he had grown up with. Tears slid down her cheeks as she looked at him and Arnold was surprised and then without a warning, she placed her arms around him and took him into her warm embrace. Arnold was confused, but his tears continued.
"I'll help you as best as I can, Arnold," she whispered in his ear. "You don't have to be alone. I'll be here."
At that Arnold began to sob from both sorrow and gratitude. He wrapped his arms around her and leaned against her body for support. She had listened to him when he needed to be heard. She didn't preach about things that he didn't want to hear. She gave him no long speeches, she just listened. That would've been enough for him, but then she was able to give him something else that no one else could. Something that not even he could achieve for himself.
She rubbed his back to comfort him. "When you run, Arnold," she said softly. "Run to me. I'll be here. No matter what, I'll be here."
Arnold's sobs continued.
Helga Pataki, the person he had least expected, had given him what he had been looking for. Not only comfort, but hope. Hope in the future. Hope for help and a little taste of that peace he had wanted so much.
When you run, Arnold, came her voice again as he sobbed. Run to me. . .I'll be here. . .No matter what. . .I'll be here. . .