Author's Note: Hey there, hi there. Anyways, I'm a huge Hey Arnold! fan and I've been getting all nostalgic about it these days. So, here's a little one shot that has more than a little likely been done already. But I love little kids, I adored the "Helga On the Couch" episode and I'm still annoyed that the odds of getting the Jungle movie are so slim. Enjoy, constructive criticism is appreciated, flames don't really irk me if you think they're necessary and positive reviews are just dandy. Plus, hey, it's still not quite Valentine's day in my time zone, so technically it's in time for your Valentine's viewing pleasure…reading pleasure?
"You ready for your first day, Shortman?" Phil asked, casting a glance at the backseat to make sure his grandson was buckled into his car seat. Arnold nodded enthusiastically. "Got your jacket?" Arnold held it up. "Umbrella?" Arnold once more produced the item in question. "And remember, most important of all…never eat raspberries…whoa, kiddo, we got to get you there soon…" Phil clutched at his stomach momentarily. "No...wait...false alarm. I gotta tell Pookie to stop letting me eat those. Ah, here we are!"
"Grandpa…that girl…" Arnold gestured towards a small girl, walking alone in the rain. She had to have been around his own age. She was caked in mud, and trembling from the cold and rain, the look on her face a jumble of anger and sadness.
"Well that can't be right…where are her parents?" Phil glanced around. He parked his Packard and helped Arnold out of the car and into his rain coat, constantly glancing back at the girl to make sure no harm had come to her.
The moment Arnold had his rain coat on he grabbed the umbrella and sprinted for the little girl, opening it as he ran. Phil chuckled to himself, but opted not to tease Arnold about it tonight. He was tempted, but it looked like this little girl could use an act of kindness.
The girl didn't notice Arnold at first. Her realization that someone was there came when she noticed she could no longer feel the rain on her head. She glanced up and saw the umbrella covering her, and then to the side to see the short boy with a strangely shaped head and blonde hair. "Hi…nice bow."
"Huh?" the girl looked stunned, and it seemed for a moment that she didn't realize that Arnold was addressing her.
"I like your bow. Because it's pink like your pants."
Arnold lead the girl inside. Phil watched them a moment longer, proud of his grandson for his kind action, and knowing immediately what the look the girl had given Arnold meant… "Oof…stupid raspberries…" he muttered, snapping back from his thoughts and getting back into his car to drive home as fast as he could.
It wasn't that many years later when Arnold came home complaining that the same sweet little girl he'd helped out in the rain had started bullying him. It had started not long after they'd first met, but lately it had gotten worse. Phil listened to Arnold's complaints, but most of the time he opted for silence. Arnold simply wasn't ready to listen to the truth. At his age, it seemed too crazy.
But one day, Phil managed to overhear a conversation Arnold and Gerald were having one time when the latter was staying over the night.
Now of course he hadn't meant to eavesdrop. But the boys were being a little loud and Phil let his curiosity get the better of him, and the door was not closed all the way. He peered in to the room as he listened.
"…Are you kidding me, man?" Gerald asked.
"No. I kind of wish I were," Arnold sighed and fell back into his bed. "I try not to think about it, and I'm asking you not to laugh about it…"
"Helga G. Pataki likes you…like likes you…Not sure if that's funny or just plain scary," Gerald gave a shudder.
"It's more than that," Arnold flipped over so that he was still on the bed but could make eye contact with Gerald. "She said she loved me. And something about poetry and shrines and…I don't know, it all got jumbled. It just came out of nowhere and I was distracted with the whole neighborhood being in trouble…"
"So what did you tell her?"
"You know…you're a nice guy, so I'm just wondering how you put the 'you're crazy and I'm not interested' speech."
The conversation was making Arnold squirm. He moved back into a seated position, then laid down again, and then gave up on that and began to pace the length of his room.
It was enough for Gerald to figure it out. "You didn't tell her you weren't interested!" he accused. "Are you interested?"
"What? No! …I don't know. With everything going on I just couldn't stop to think and Helga's always acted like she hates me, so I never thought about her that way…I asked her if maybe she got caught up in the heat of the moment and the kiss was just you know…adrenaline…"
"She kissed you?" Gerald asked, bewildered. "Shouldn't that have been the first thing you mentioned?!"
"Didn't seem that important…"
"Not that important?" Gerald repeated. "This whole thing is like a trip to bizzaro land! Helga G. Pataki is in love with you. Are you just gonna pretend she never said anything and hope it goes away?"
"I thought about doing that," Arnold admitted. "But it just seemed…mean."
"Hold up…if she loves you and now you know that she loves you, why is she still calling you 'football head' and throwing spitballs at you and yelling at you?"
"I don't know," Arnold admitted. "Uhm…do you remember what she was like in preschool?"
"Yeah," Gerald snorted. "The exact same way she is now."
"No," Arnold insisted. "She wasn't. She was really nice, and kinda …quiet the first few days. Like she was shy, like she didn't know how to be around people."
"She still shouldn't be around people if you ask me," Gerald muttered.
"It's like something happened to make her mean. But…I think that nice side is still in her."
"You are one crazy kid, Arnold…"
"No, I'm not," Arnold pushed on, "she helped us save the neighborhood, even though her dad was supposed to get a lot of money off it being sold…"
"All right, that was a really great thing of her to do," Gerald conceded, "But she is still being mean to you, man. And now you're talking like you do have feelings for her or something."
"Well, I like her," Arnold started. "But like-like…or love…I don't know. I'm only nine. I just wish she'd show her nicer side more often. Then maybe I could tell for sure. All I really know right now is that she's not as horrible as she pretends to be."
Phil gave an awkward cough to announce his presence before pushing his way into the room. "Hey there, Shortman, you two all right?"
"Yeah, Grandpa, we're fine, thanks."
"I was just thinking…about that angry blonde friend of yours? Y'know, Valentine's is coming up, and I bet she'd like to get something…"
Arnold frowned. "Grandpa, were you listening in?"
"Well, not so much listening in as I was…uh…screening?" Arnold raised an eyebrow. "Oh, all right, I was eavesdropping. I'll leave you alone, but just so you know, I'm leaving some money on the downstairs table, beside the answering machine…in case you want to get her something. Make sure you get to it before Oskar does…" With that, Phil closed the door.
The next morning, sure enough, the money was missing from where he'd left it. "Oskar! You better not have taken Arnold's valentine money!" He yelled upstairs.
"Money? What money, I did not take any money," Oskar whined back. "But if you want to give me some, I could maybe pay you back…"
"Oh, shut up, you deadbeat!"
"I can not believe you are doing this…" Gerald muttered. "You don't even know if you like her!"
"I know, but…I guess I could just call it a thank you for helping save the neighborhood…"
"It's a Valentine's gift, Arnold. Nobody's going to see it as a thank you. Not Helga, not the class…heck, not even you or me! Especially when you got her a teddy bear and a rose."
"Maybe I should have gone for something more platonic seeming?" Arnold mused.
"You read too much," Gerald muttered.
The two boarded the bus moments later, Arnold shifting the gift to try to hide it behind his jacket. "Excuse me, Arnold…I'm gonna go sit with Phoebe…"
"Gerald! We always sit together…"
"Val-en-tine's Day," Gerald enunciated, taking his place beside the small Asian girl, who smiled at him and shyly took his hand.
When the bus reached Helga's stop, Arnold ducked down behind his seat, holding his breath. She scanned the bus, apparently looking for something or someone, but she gave up and took the seat in front of him, pulling a pink journal out of her backpack as she went. She plopped down and started writing.
Against his better judgment, Arnold leaned forward and watched her words fill the page, her writing hurried and frantic.
Oh, that this would have been the first day for us. That Cupid would have released his full quiver on you, So that you might feel as I do. I look 'round and do not see your form, Shall I not see you on this sainted day of lovers'? My heart is torn - Do you remember the words I spoke, The question lingers and hovers, Echoing through my mind
Oh, that this would have been the first day for us.
That Cupid would have released his full quiver on you,
So that you might feel as I do.
I look 'round and do not see your form,
Shall I not see you on this sainted day of lovers'?
My heart is torn -
Do you remember the words I spoke,
The question lingers and hovers,
Echoing through my mind
Whatever came next, Arnold didn't get to see it. Brainy had appeared seemingly out of nowhere, his loud breathing distracting Helga from finishing her poem. She grunted her exasperation before backhanding him in the face. Brainy fell to the bus floor momentarily, then got up, apparently unharmed, and went to take his seat.
Arnold was amazed at Helga's gift. The poetry sounded familiar, quite like the poems Mr. Simmons often read aloud to the class (always anonymously). Arnold found himself wondering if those poems were Helga's work as well. He felt guilty for reading over her shoulder, but he wondered if she would have ever shown him her work of her own volition.
"Football head!" He was snapped from his thoughts. "When did you get on the bus? I thought you were home sick…Not that I'd care. I mean, criminy, the day's all lovey-dovey enough without you and how mushy you are…"
"Whatever you say, Helga," Arnold said simply, making sure his book bag blocked her view of the Valentine's gift he'd bought. When the bus finally stopped at P.S. 118, he made a mad dash for the door, and beat Helga to Mr. Simmon's class. He laid her gift out carefully, then took his seat.
Helga came in just before the bell, and slid into her seat without noticing the teddy bear at first. She stared at it in shock when she finally did see it, and then gave an accusing glance at Brainy, who shook his head and muttered a quick "It wasn't me."
Helga found the card and tore it open eagerly.
Helga, Thanks. I hope you have a good Valentine's day. We'll talk about everything…later. I promise. I'm not ready just yet, though. I'm sorry. ~Arnold
Thanks. I hope you have a good Valentine's day. We'll talk about everything…later. I promise. I'm not ready just yet, though. I'm sorry.
Helga reread the note a few times, absorbing the message. Arnold still wasn't ready to talk about what she'd confessed. That was all right with her, she still couldn't believe she'd told him, and she wasn't sure she was ready to hear his response yet.
Just like Arnold…
Just like Arnold…she thought to herself. Even if I'm still being a jerk to him, he's still so kind she sighed dreamily.
"Who's that from?" Phoebe whispered as soon as Mr. Simmon's back was turned. "Not…" she glanced towards Arnold. Helga nodded. "So then, does he…?"
"I don't know," Helga admitted.
"But he got you something for Valentine's day. That must mean something…"
"He said he needs more time…" Helga examined the rose. "Do me a favor, Phoebe, just forget about this, okay? If anybody asks you…I don't know, say Miriam and Bob sent me this."
"Forgetting," Phoebe sighed.
"Hey, Hair Boy!" It was the end of the day, and Arnold just wanted to make it home. There had been a lot of guessing at who had gotten Helga her gift, and he had to admit he was kind of worried someone would figure out that he'd been behind it. Helga had kept her silence, only muttering something about parents when Rhonda had continued to push.
"Oh, hey, Helga…" Arnold glanced at the ground. He was starting to wish he hadn't signed the card.
"Criminy, Football Head," she fell to the ground and scattered her books all about her. Arnold watched bewildered, before realizing it was meant to trick anyone who saw them talking into thinking the two had merely run into each other and that Helga was (as was her typical fashion) yelling at him for it. When the last student had finally cleared the hallway, Helga started gathering her things together.
"Here, let me help…" Arnold leaned down and started picking up scraps of paper. He paused when he noticed that they were all poems. "You know…you really are a great writer…"
"I…oh. Thanks," Helga muttered. "Look, I just wanted to say thanks for the bear and the rose. It was nice of you," she caught sight of Harold coming down the hall. "You are so annoying, Arnold! I mean, really, just give me my stuff back and go away!" she snatched her papers out of Arnold's hands before turning around and marching off towards the exit. Right before she reached it, she glanced back, her look apologetic.
Arnold sighed, and glanced down at the floor. If this was how Helga was always going to act when others were around…maybe Arnold would never get to know that nicer side of her, that caused her to help save neighborhoods and wrote poetry…
But that's when he noticed it. Helga had accidentally (or possibly even intentionally) left a poem behind. He scanned it over quickly
Midnight brings disquieted sleep, I can not seem to banish you from my thoughts The thoughts are troubled, the fear runs deep Would you accept me as I truly am?
Midnight brings disquieted sleep,
I can not seem to banish you from my thoughts
The thoughts are troubled, the fear runs deep
Would you accept me as I truly am?
Arnold glanced around before folding the paper up and putting it in his pocket. "I guess we'll have to wait and see," he said, in answer to the poem's last question.
Author's note:…This was originally going to be a drabble. Then I just kept writing. The two poems are things I whipped up on the spot…I used to be gifted at poetry (or at least my English teachers always thought so) but I'm not sure these are up to par (…and all the harder, because as crazy as Helga could be her poetry was usually fantastic). Thank you very much for reading.