This is my attempt at a HelgaxArnold fluffy fanfiction. I'm not quite sure how fluffy it is, but I rather like how it turned out.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hey Arnold! or any of its characters. I am just a fan.
Helga looked at the steaming stack of pancakes and inhaled their heavenly aroma. She smiled when she thought of the care her husband had taken to make them just right: perfectly round, perfectly golden, and almost equally-sized. He'd put a garnish of whipped cream on top and, in a gesture that made her think he was beginning to just show off, placed a strawberry smack dab in the center of the cream. With the kind of satisfaction that comes from knowing a good meal is on the way, she cut a wedge and slowly lifted it to her mouth – then suddenly a wave of nausea washed over her, overpowering the pleasant anticipation she'd just been experiencing. She sighed and put her fork down. "Sorry, honey."
Her husband looked over at her from the oven, where he'd been flipping pancakes. "Those didn't work either?"
Helga shook her head apologetically. "I'm afraid no. And they smelled so good…"
Arnold turned off the oven, turned around to face his wife, and scratched the back of his neck. "I'm not sure what to try nect." Strewn about the kitchen were testimonies to Arnold's determination to fix Helga something that she could actually stomach. Bowls of cereal and milk were balanced on top of the refrigerator, and plates of bacon and sausage were emitting delicious, meaty smells from the counter. French toast was reposing beside the oven, and Belgian waffles were showing their dimples from the open windows.
"I don't mean to put you to all this trouble," Helga said. In spite of the embarrassment and nausea, she smiled at the sight of her husband, who was looking unbelievably cute with a smudge of flour on his cheek and a flowered apron around his waist. He'd started wearing the apron a month after they'd realized that she was pregnant, when the morning sickness had kicked in, in an effort to make her laugh. It did most of the time, but she was currently mortified to chuckle. "Look at all the food we're wasting."
"Oh, it won't go to waste. I was going to let Mr. Koukashka have what was left."
Helga and Arnold now lived in the boarding house, in the room where Arnold's grandparents used to sleep. They'd stayed in Hillwood after they'd gotten married but when Arnold's grandfather had died, they moved back to keep the boarding house running.
Grandpa Phil had died as irreverently as he had lived – he had indeed succumbed to the family "curse" at age 91, but he had lived two days past his birthday. Those entire two days had been spent by Grandpa cracking jokes and bragging to anyone who'd listen that he'd lived longer than any of his ancestors that came before him. He'd died peacefully, with his Pookie sitting beside him and holding his hand. Grandma had been very brave, but Arnold and Helga knew that she was heartbroken; the need they felt to be near her had sealed their decision to move into the boarding house.
Helga snorted derisively. "Oh, Oskar will eat it. He'll eat anything that doesn't eat him first – at least we'll be giving Suzie a break." Then she leaned back, clutching her stomach and groaning. "Oof. This kid is not giving me a break here – I'm starving. I'm sorry I'm being so difficult, Arnold."
He came over from behind her and hugged her shoulders. "You're not being difficult. You're being pregnant – and remember what I promised you when we found out you were going to have a baby? You just concentrate on being happy and healthy, and I'll take care of the rest. If that means wearing an apron and cooking enough to feed the Russian army," his eyes were twinkling, "then that's what I'm going to do."
She wrapped her arms around his and squeezed. "You are too sweet for words," she whispered, and then covered her mouth to fight back the nausea evoked by the word "sweet."
Arnold walked over to the chair across from hers and sat down. "I've run out of ideas. Can you think of anything you want to eat? It doesn't have to be breakfast food – we just need to get you to eat something."
"Well…there's this one idea that's been bouncing around in the back of my head…"
"Well, what is it?"
"It's kind of weird…I'd rather not say."
"Oh, go on – you said you were starving!"
She sighed," Fine. I've just been having this strong desire to have…dill pickles and ice cream."
"Dill pickles…and ice cream." Arnold raised an eyebrow slightly but that was the only reaction he had to the admittedly strange request, a fact for which his wife was very grateful. "What kind of ice cream? Or does it matter?"
"Um, vanilla, I think. But don't bother, Arnold. We'll find something else – oh!" She flung her hand over her mouth and jumped up from her chair. "Excuse me!" She ran to the bathroom and shut the door.
When she'd finished worshipping the porcelain god, she came out to see Arnold pulling on his coat. "Arnold, where are you going?"
"To the supermarket, of course, to get the ice cream and pickles."
"Arnold, you don't have to. Don't you have other things you need to do?"
He kissed her sweaty forehead. "Dear, there are days when it is obvious that you are a writer – and not someone who works a nine-to-five. It's Saturday, which means all I have to do today is collect the rent and make sure you eat." He smiled at her and grabbed one of the plates of pancakes. "I'm just going to drop this off by the Koukashkas' room and then I'm going to the store. I shouldn't be long."
"Better grab two plates, so that Suzie has a chance of getting some. Thanks, Football Head." She hugged him. "I love you."
Arnold smiled and grabbed another plate. Helga held the door open for him, and he walked out, nodding his head in a goodbye. He walked downstairs smiling at the spark that had re-entered her voice. This morning sickness has been really draining Helga – it's good to hear some of the energy coming back. And she hadn't called me Football Head in a while – I never thought I'd miss hearing it. He arrived at the Koukashkas' room and knocked against the door with his forehead. Suzie answered, grateful for the fragrant breakfast and, as always, curious about Helga's well-being. She took the plates from him, readjusted her glasses, and began gently laughing. He looked down at himself in the direction of her gaze, and blushed. Somehow in the process of putting on his coat, he'd forgotten to take off the apron, which was hanging flamboyantly and flowered around his stomach. At least I caught it before I left the house.
Helga watched her husband walk down the street from the upstairs window, a smile tugging at her lips. I sure do love my Football Head – so compassionate, so caring, so self-sacrificing. It didn't surprise her when he'd chosen to become a psychiatrist; he'd been practicing the trade long before he'd even entered college. Nor did it really surprise her when she'd decided to become a professional author. Despite that dream I had about becoming the President. Well, as long as I'm waiting for Arnold. I might as well get back to work on the last chapter – at least it'll distract me from being nauseous At the thought, nausea began rising up in her stomach. She rolled her eyes. Well, so much for that.
She began tapping the notepad in front of her with a pencil in an effort to knock the right words out of her brain. She'd been doing that for about five minutes when the phone rang. I wonder who that could be – Phoebe probably wouldn't be up this early. She picked up the phone. "Hello?"
"Hi, Mom." Helga shifted the phone so that her hands were free to keep writing. She then felt slightly ashamed for not giving her mother her full attention, and pushed the notepad away. It's not like I was getting anywhere with the plot anyway. "How are you doing?"
The situation with her parents had improved a good deal from her childhood, but there was still a little stiffness in their relationship. Helga had to admit to herself that most of that came from her end – she'd forgiven her parents for their often neglectful behavior, but couldn't quite bring herself to forget the sting of the neglect. Something about being around Arnold brought out the desire to compromise with her parents, although thankfully he hadn't brought his work home with him and started analyzing her. He seemed to understand that she wanted to work things out with her parents herself.
"Oh, I'm doing just fine. How's the baby?"
"The baby's fine, Mom. Although they're certainly giving me a run for my money this morning."
"Morning sickness has started?"
"For about a month now, Mom. Although this morning seems to be worse than most. Nothing is tasting good today. Well, except for this one thing – it's the only thing that doesn't make me sick just thinking about it." She laughed, "But it's so weird!"
"Let me guess, hon; pickles and vanilla ice cream?"
Helga could not have been more shocked. "How did you know?"
"Mother's intuition," her mother laughed, "or maybe just a lucky guess. After all, that's all I could eat for a while when I was carrying you."
"You…ate pickles and ice cream…when you were pregnant with me?"
"Uh-huh. It confused your father to no end. After all, when I was pregnant with Olga, I didn't need to change my eating habits at all – "
Helga grimaced and shut her eyes. Yes, Olga, the perfect child – never gave anyone any trouble – not like me. Stop it, Helga ol' girl, she doesn't mean it like that…you're way too sensitive where she is concerned.
Her mother hadn't noticed the silence and was prattling on. "But I have to run, hon. I just wanted to make sure I caught you before you got too busy. Goodbye. I love you."
"Bye, Mom. Love you too."
The phone clicked, and the dial tone buzzed in her eye. She put it down, crossed her arms on the table, and laid her head down on them.
I can't be becoming my mother. Can I?
Arnold returned triumphant about half an hour later. "I'm back!" He put the grocery sacks on the counter and began pulling the contents out. "While I was there, I decided to get some other kinds of ice cream – see if those will help you fight that nausea any. And after you get something to eat, we can go and get the rent. That usually makes you laugh, and besides, your presence helps the residents pay up faster." He laughed, "Who'd dare cross a take-no-prisoners, pregnant lady?"
He finally turned around and saw his wife resting her head on the table. His joking expression quickly changed to one of concern. "But you don't need to, honey. If you need to rest, rest." She didn't respond and his concern intensified into worry. He sat beside her. "Helga, is something wrong? What's the matter?"
She turned her head away so that he couldn't see her face. "Nothing's the matter." Her voice sounded strangely clogged.
"Helga, please give me more credit than that. I know you. What's wrong?"
Helga turned towards him, and his heart broke a little when he saw the tear tracks on her face. "Dill pickles and ice cream."
The way she said it would've been funny if she hadn't been so distressed. Hormones sure have a lot of fun with pregnant women's emotions, he thought. I guess this is like that one time that little baby wanted Mom to eat lots of garlic bread. Helga was convinced that I wouldn't kiss her and therefore couldn't stand her. He grinned in spite of the situation. Well, I cured her of that notion pretty quick. I hope it'll be as easy to bring her out of this funk.
"Helga, you know that I love you no matter what, right? Anything you're worried about, we can fix together." She reached over to her shoulder and gripped it reassuringly.
Helga's voice was muffled, yet perfectly clear. "Don't deserve you."
"That's silly, Helga."
"Is not. It's true. And I've made such a big mistake. A terrible mistake. How could I?"
"Mistake? Helga, what are you talking about?"
"I'm going to be a terrible mother!"
"What?" Arnold was confused; he was not expecting that. "What do you mean? We've both been so excited about raising our own child – you've never said you were worried about it. You're going to be a great mother!"
"I thought I could be, but – oh Arnold, what have I done to our baby?"
"Helga, please calm down. What happened to bring this on?"
"Pickles and ice cream."
Arnold still couldn't see the connection. Helga looked up tearfully at him and added, "And Mom called."
"Oh. Your parents called?" Helga watched Arnold stiffen slightly and the skin around his eyes tightened. She knew he wasn't fond of her parents, given what she'd told him about her childhood, but appreciated that he'd never obviously displayed it. "What did they say?"
"Just said hi. Then Mom asked about how the pregnancy was going, and I told her that morning sickness was alive and well, and that I'd been craving ice cream and pickles. I thought that would make her laugh, but then she said that was what she craved when she was pregnant with me – Arnold, I'm becoming my mother!"
Now it made more sense, although it was complete nonsense in Arnold's opinion. Helga was most certainly not her mother, she was herself. But Helga had begun talking.
"Half-conscious, asleep, or never around. A lot of the time, I spent more time caring for her than she cared for me. She was always so distracted, unless it had something to do with Olga, in which case she was front and center. She was never like that for me." She looked at him. "I know that she's worked hard recently to try and make up for it, but I do not want my child to grow up in that kind of environment. I don't want them to feel that way until it's almost too late to make amends. You're not like Big Bob, but you have a job and won't be home all the time. I work at home – and that baby's going to be stuck with me. What kind of a mother am I?"
At this point, Arnold could no longer stand sitting distanced from her – professional aloofness be dashed, this was his wife. He scooted his chair closer and gently guided her onto his lap and into his arms. She finally stopped fighting back the tears and began crying into his neck. He began rocking her gently and kissed her forehead.
"You are a sweet, wonderful mother who's already worried about her child's happiness before they're even born. You are a woman who is so worried of becoming like her mother that she is already trying to find ways to protect her child from the kind of loneliness she herself experienced. But was it all bad, Helga? Do you remember that Thanksgiving in fourth grade – the one where we were in Mr. Simmons' play?
She laughed, a laugh with some amusement but with a dash of bitterness in it, "Oh, yes. Wasn't that the one where my family drove me so crazy I left the house? I did enjoy the time with you, Arnold, but that's not exactly the highest part of my family's time together."
"Really?" Arnold's voice replied, "Because I remember walking you back to your house, and watching you go through the door. I could see all your family standing around you – and then your mom picked something up and put it in the center of the table – and your face just lit up. What about that?"
"The centerpiece…I'd almost forgotten that…" Mom had put away that beautiful ice sculpture and put my little pinecone in its place. She said we couldn't forget the "most important part."
Memories came back to Helga. The time when she'd taken over Big Bob's business and became so involved with Helga. She'd driven her to school, helped her with her homework, and they could just sit and talk. The panic in her voice when Helga came back that Thanksgiving as she was ordering the police to go and find "my little girl." Putting the little pinecone centerpiece on the table. Taking that long road trip together and watching her take on the mechanical bull. And all the work she'd done lately to make things right between them. "You'll always be my little girl."
She released Arnold and looked right into his eyes, wiping the tears away, and gave him a genuine smile. He smiled back, "You see?"
She didn't say anything, just beamed at him. How in the world can he do that? Make me feel so good without saying anything? She leaned back into his shoulders and they sat together like that for a long time in silence, just enjoying the feel of each other.
After a bit of this, Arnold pulled back and looked at his wife. "You know, Helga, I don't see how the same cravings makes mothers the same, anyway. It's not the mom who chooses the cravings, it's the baby. So, if anything, the baby is going to be a lot like you. Just think, another talented, creative, passionate person entering this world – and then there'll be two of them in my family! Am I a lucky guy or what?"
He was about to kiss her when she pushed him back teasingly and giggled. "Arnold, not in front of the baby!"
"Oops. My bad." He leaned towards her stomach. "Sorry, little one, but I can't kiss your mom if you're watching, apparently." He placed one hand over her stomach. "Now…" He kissed her, and then suddenly his eyes popped open. "The ice cream – I hope it hasn't melted!" He jumped up, walked over to the counter, and dug an ice cream scoop out of a drawer. "Pickles and ice cream…how should that be served? Separately, or mixed together?"
"I don't know. Let me call Mom."
A/N: I hope you liked it! This fanfic is dedicated to my mom and sister - my mom being the one who came up with the "porcelain god" reference, and my sister for reading this for editing purposes. What's funny is that I don't think she's ever seen Hey Arnold!, but she thought that the names of Arnold and Helga went perfectly together. Heck yes!
Please press that little button and review this! Reviews make me smile!