These characters are from the sweat-beetled brow of Craig Bartlett... lucky stiff. Rated T cause I felt like it, and some characters might end up nude later. We'll see... Once upon a time, I wrote a little story called "The Strangers In My House" which got me banned from FFN. Don't know why, and no real explanation was ever given other than some vague reference to "Posting Violation". Hmmm... Therefore, I now present this completely other story for your consideration which is in no way related to that other story.
Part One - No Place Like Home
By 6:09 PM, Arnold had finished all of his homework, updated his blog, downloaded some music off iTunes, and written e-mails to all three of his penpals. As the intercom in his room crackled to life, his mother Stella called him to dinner. Sighing, he realized that there was no need to put off dealing with them, better to just get it over with and get out into what adventures a Friday night might offer. Only seven months until he graduated, he thought. Seven months...
Rising to leave, he took one last look around the room to make sure everything was secure. Diary hidden, computer off (though it was password protected, he still took no chances), CD's organized and stored. He had no real evidence that they'd ever searched his room, but still the ritual gave him some small comfort. He was pretty sure that his parents would respect his privacy (pretty sure...), but his sister... His sister was a completely different matter. Furrowing his brow, he went about the room double checking everything.
His grandmother died a week after he turned sixteen, though no one was really surprised by this. Her health had been iffy for the previous year and Phil and Arnold did what they could to make her comfortable in her final months. She passed peacefully in her sleep and Arnold marveled over how placid his grandfather seemed in the aftermath, her funeral being a surprisingly upbeat affair. For whatever unconvincing reasons she gave, his aunt Mitzi moved in to help out with the upkeep and maintenance of the Sunset Arms, and all things considered, Arnold secretly wished that she'd have done this long before. It was a week before he turned seventeen that the telegram arrived, his missing parents following behind it, and at the time he could conceive of no greater birthday present.
Stopping on the second floor landing, once again looked down the hallway that had been so great a part of his life. Gone were all the borders that had made up his odd little pseudo family, as time's attrition took them one by one with none stepping forward to fill their place. They'd moved on or moved out and by the time of his parent's return, only he, his aunt Mitzi and his grandfather still lived there. Now this rooms housed the other people who dwelled in this place; his aunt's room, his parents room, each of their studies, his sisters room, the spa...
Sighing, he continued down to the joyless meal that awaited him. Their tale was as grand as any one that his grandfather might have woven to lull him to his rest, full of intrigue, danger and suspense, but did little to actually fill the fourteen year void in his life. They tried several times (unsuccessfully) to get word out of San Lorenzo to them, but between the civil war, the arms traffickers and the need to protect the green eyed people, there was just no way. At first, this mattered little to him, after all he finally had is parents back... and a sister.
As always, the meal began with a light jovial air, pleasantries all around and a quick round of Q&A about school and his friends. Polite, but vaguely disinterested on Arnold's part. Their time away had been kind to his parents all things considered, and they both always had a somewhat confident air to them and there was certainly no denying that his sister Carmelita was a real beauty, however... In much the same way that he had grown up without them, they too had grown without him, and after the initial adulation of the reunion was over, both parties found themselves in for a bit of a shock...
"So, after all that, Sid found it in his trunk. We ended up having to give back the deposit and everything." smiled Arnold as he helped himself to more cornbread. Even as his parents chuckled at his story, he could see his sister preparing to pounce.
"Honestly!" she said in an exasperated tone, "How could anyone be SO foolish? Do you have any friends at all who are not idiots?" Arnold mentally took a deep breath. Don't take the bait, remain calm.
"Young lady, that was uncalled for!" their mother scolded, "Now apologize to your brother."
"Apologize!" she raged, "And for what am I to apologize for? It is not my friends who are fools!"
Let it go, thought Arnold, she's just trying to get to you. Smiling weakly he said, "Hey, take it easy sis. It was a simple mistake. It could have happened to anyone."
"Anyone who is an idiot, perhaps." she sneered with a "yeah-that-includes-you" look.
"Carmella, that is enough!" fumed Stella even as Miles looked as though he wished he were anywhere else in the known universe. His sister was four years his junior, blonde and pretty with a strong, willful nature about her. Passionate, she was in the habit of speaking before thinking, but then stubbornly standing by her position to the last, and that's what he disliked the most about his estranged sibling; she was so much like him.
Rolling her eyes, Mitzi sighed, "Oh boy, here we go."
As always seemed to happen, Carmella launched a machine gun barrage of Spanish at her mother who responded in kind, Miles occasionally interjecting a point or two to bolster Stella's side of things. This would tend to go on for a good seven or eight minutes or so, and usually Arnold and Mitzi would exchange annoyed glances back and forth.
"Maybe we should just hire a translator to sit in on the meals. Y'know, like in the UN." smirked Mitzi, and brought a welcome little smile to Arnold's face.
The joke brought the argument to a screeching, uncomfortable halt. Somewhat shamefaced, Stella looked at Arnold and Mitzi, "Um, oh yeah. Sorry about that. Uh... old habits and all. Sorry..." and smiled weakly.
Arnold returned the little smile with interest and went back to his meal without further comment. You've been back a year and this still happens, almost daily he thought. In some ways it was understandable since they used English so seldomly in San Lorenzo, but by now it had become just another tool in his sisters kit to annoy him.
"You know, it would not be a bad idea if your were to learn Spanish." said Carmella with just a touch of venom in her voice.
"I'm taking French." he said, finishing the last of his dinner, then looking to Stella, "If you'll excuse me." Rising, he left the room without looking back.
After a small eternity of uncomfortable looks between Stella and Miles, Mitzi gave a small sigh and said, "Hey kid, why don't you head on up to your room, the grown ups need to have a little talk."
Apparently oblivious to the turmoil she'd just caused, she looked up at her aunt, shocked, "Me? Why must I leave the-" but a look from Mitzi had Stella in action.
"Carmelita! The adults need to speak to one another, now go to your room." and gave the blonde hellion a stern look. With a performance worthy of the Globe Theater, she rose and exited like a diva. Looking at them a moment, Mitzi got up a crept to the door, then stepped quickly into the hallway.
Miles and Stella look at each other puzzled as the heard Mitzi say, "To your room means all the way to your room, not just out of this one." followed by an exasperated grunt and the sound of footsteps stomping up the stairs. Returning, Mitzi took her seat and just looked at them.
Sighing Stella said, "We're sorry about all this, but... well you know how hard all this is in her. She had to leave a lot behind when we came home. I know it seems like we spoil her but America is just so alien to her. She needs time to adjust."
"Uh huh." smiled Mitzi as she gestured to have her coffee freshened, "I know. I figured that out the first week you three got here. Tell me something, what's Carmelita's favorite food?"
Miles looked baffled but said, "Um, barbecued chicken."
"Uh huh." smiled Mitzi, "And what's her favorite color?"
"Yellow." said Stella, wondering where this was going.
"Good, and what's her best friend's name?"
"Celeste Ancira. But what does-" began Stella, but Mitzi cut her off.
"And can you tell me the same three things about Arnold?" she asked raising an eyebrow.
Miles and Stella looked as though Mitzi had just shot them.
The bus was almost empty, and that suited Arnold just fine. Friday night should be a time for a seventeen year old to cut loose and unwind but tonight he just wanted to lose himself. Seven months. Maybe he could join the Navy. Get out, see the world. His grades were good enough, perhaps he could get a scholarship to a good school. Some school far away from Hillwood. Sighing, he realized the downside of fleeing Hillwood. It would indeed get him away from them, but it would also take him away from her.
Sitting bolt upright in his seat, he kept his eyes forward, a dull, disinterested expression on his face as he carefully unbent a large paper clip. Cautiously and with only short glances at his handiwork, he began to scribe words into the back of the seat in front of him, ever wary of attracting the driver's notice. In all times past, vandalism would have been against his nature, but lately he'd found himself thinking and doing many thing that would have been taboo to him in times past. Rebellion on a microscopic level, but rebellion none the less.
As his stop approached, he rose and cast a quick look down at the fruits of his labors.
"Whom Gods Exalt, They First Destroy" in neat block letters. Without a bit of remorse, he exited the bus.
Her townhouse was still four blocks away, but the walk afforded him little in the way of thought or stress relief, but instead served to bring all of his current troubles into sharp focus. Seven months. His destination reached, he was knocking on her front door even before he realized it.
Silence, then the muffled, staccato footsteps running to answer the door which flew open after only the most cursory check of the peephole.
"Arnold? What're you doing here?" asked Lila, not at all unhappy the see him.
"Hey Lila. I need to talk to you."
To Be Continued
Think you see where this is going? HA HA HA! Don't flatter yourself. Many twists and turns ahead! Stick with this, I think you'll be surprised.
Shipping and Handling - Phoebe Heyerdahl (revised)
Oft when putting pen to parchment in the noble endeavor of fanfic, one can tire after tale upon tale of the perfect Arnold and Helga romance and be tempted to tales of a few of the lesser stars of the show, and who better that Helga's best friend and accomplice to numerous count of breaking and entering, Phoebe Heyerdahl. Only daughter to Kiyo and Rheba Heyerdahl, she is a bright, studious, but socially awkward nine year old who until the introduction of Lila Sawyer, was the smartest forth grader of PS 118. For stories set contemporaneously with the show, Phoebe will no doubt be found aiding Helga in her latest scheme or prank. But if one were to spin the clock forward and set your stories in middle or high school, how might Phoebe turn out?
1) "Wonder Bras only work SO well"
Phoebe, meet puberty. Being a slim, petite young thing, it's easy to imagine her staying that way into her teens... or her thirties. This has lots of story potential both tragic and comic, from ugly duckling stories to Rhonda's nitwit attempts to "fix" her. The show as is shows Phoebe as somewhat insecure and that would go along way to explain her friendship with Helga. Meek, mousy Phoebe, secure in the personal safety zone of Helga, whom no other forth grader will cross. To add insult to injury, Helga would probably be drop dead gorgeous in high school. Poor Phoebe.
2) "I was a genius... in fifth grade"
I myself was a straight "A" student until sixth grade, when I hit the wall and began my academic career as a straight "C" student until graduation. And I wasn't the only one. So what if brilliant Phoebe finds that sometime around sixth or seventh grade that she's no longer having such an easy time of it, and adding to her compulsive need to excel, a tougher course load in high school could tip her over the edge. Goth Phoebe, anyone? Suddenly her world is SO unfair and no one understands what she's going through. Or you could have her trying to compensate through social connections (Rhonda's right-hand girl) or other outlets like sports(girl jock). Lots of pathos potential.
3) "You're my best friend... just not in public"
Relationship going into high school are a tricky thing even in the best of times, but for Phoebe I can see it being especially choppy. First off, I see NO future for Phoebe and Gerald, and evidently the shows writers agree. The fifth season of Hey Arnold show few instances of Phoebe and Gerald together (in contrast to the previous seasons), and Gerald is noticeably absent from a few episodes. Phoebe's Little Problem was rather startling in this regard in that not only was Gerald not making any effort to help Phoebe deal with her social stigma, Arnold WAS (Hmmmm, romance in the air?). And Helga will probably go from protector to buddy, or maybe not even that. So then, what new friendships and/or romances might she have in her future?
Outside of introducing new characters, it's fairly easy to see her hooking up with any of the current female cast, be it as Girl Friday or BFF. She'd share Nadine's inquisitive, natural scientific curiosity, or Sheena's social sensibilities, or Rhonda's gregarious social climbing mania, or oddly enough Lila's oh-so-sweet company (who is allegedly as good a student as Phoebe, so she might just enjoy having someone on her level). Helga may still be there, though it'd be easy to see the dynamic of their relationship changing (as I'll cover in "S&H -- Helga G. Pataki, I see Helga following the same academic scorched earth policy that Olga did before her, and as such will not being looking to Phoebe as an intellectual resource.
As for the guys, Park, Robert, and Joey are almost blank slates onto which you could create any sort of boyfriend for her that you like, and all three seem like decent enough fellows. Sid might clean up pretty good, and Phoebe might just be the thing in his life to calm him down a bit (look for A LOT of Sid/Phoebe pairings in upcoming stories). Curly might just turn out to be less of a loon in high school, evolving instead into class clown, but would definitely prove that opposites attract. Harlow used Lorenzo to good effect in the "What the Bungalow Brings" and Iggy as a heavy in "Punch Drunk Love" (a MUST READ people).
And then there's Arnold...
Word up, I like the Phoebe/Arnold thing, A LOT and I'll not apologize for it either. Rather than polar opposites, they're complimentary in their personality types and if not becoming an outright romantic couple, it's all too easy to see them becoming very close personal friends and confidants. The story possibilities for this are tantalizing to say the least, but how Helga might react to this pairing is half the fun. Now, I know you're initial reaction would be that Helga would plot and scheme to separate them just like Lila and Ruth, but an examination of her behavior in a few episodes might lead us to believe otherwise...
In "Phoebe Breaks A Leg" we learn some very interesting about Helga, namely that she loves Phoebe as much if not more than Arnold, and in the right circumstances is all too willing to show it. Phoebe is more that her sidekick, and just a little beyond a best friend, but is instead the perfect sister for Helga, and while she may lose sight of it sometime and neglect the feelings of this cherished sibling, when the chips are down, Helga gives 300 percent to make Phoebe happy.
That said, how would Helga react to Arnold/Phoebe?
I'd actually say that she'd swallow her gorge and give it her blessing. Remember also what a drama queen Helga can be, so expect the poetry to fly as she sings her own praises for the sacrifice she made for the two most important people in her life. Think about it...
So there you have it; a lot of good possibilities if you'd like to try something outside of the usual Arnold/Helga stories. Anyone have any other thoughts on this?