Author's Note: Yes, yes, I know I should be working on Missing Pieces, and don't worry, I am. Hopefully I'll have Chapter 6 up by tonight. But I'm sick, and delirious, and just generally feeling yucky, so bear with me. And this just popped into my head, and I had to write it. I should be back on track soon.

Disclaimer: I don't own HA!, unfortunately—Craigers does. And I also don't own the song "Thank Heaven for Little Girls," which was written by the fabulous team of Lerner and Loewe for the musical Gigi. (Lerner and Loewe also wrote the songs for My Fair Lady and The Little Prince.) I tried to take the song in a different context than it is in the movie, because in the movie (which is REALLY bad) it's an old French guy sitting in the park staring this little girl who can't be more than 5 and singing this, and it's really kind of creepy. If you're into weird movies that are so bad they're good, rent Gigi. And now, without further ado…

"Thank Heaven for Little Girls"

Thank heaven for little girls

For little girls get bigger every day

Thank heaven for little girls

They grow up in the most delightful way

Those little eyes so helpless and appealing

One day will flash and send you crashing through the ceiling

Thank heaven for little girls

Thank heaven for them all, no matter where, no matter who

Without them what would little boys do?

Thank heaven for little girls

For little girls get bigger every day…

At three…

He had not yet been taught that it was good to help others. He was far too small for moral lessons beyond sharing and saying "please" and "thank you." But when he saw her standing there in the rain, muddy and alone, the first thing he noticed was that she was just his size.

And so he felt that the camaraderie of being small was enough to bind them when he got out of the car and offered her his umbrella.

"Hi. Nice bow," he said by way of conversation.

"Huh?" she asked, looking shocked that anyone was speaking to her.

"I like your bow 'cause it's pink like your pants," he explained. He did like her bow. He liked pink—not for himself, because blue and red were his favorite colors. But there was something about pink on this girl that was very pretty.

Satisfied, he went in to preschool, not noticing her staring at him from the other side of the glass. He did wonder why she had looked so sad, though…

Thank heaven for little girls

They grow up in the most delightful way…

At nine…

He felt a small, damp missile hit the back of his head, just above his left ear. He clapped a hand to the spot and turned around to see her sitting back in her chair, twirling her thumbs innocently.

"What?" she hissed, seeing his eyes on her.

He sighed and turned around, trying to bring his mind back to the lesson. It was no good. From the first spitball of the day, his mind was always on her.

Why did she do this? She was a complete mystery. If she had always been overbearing and cruel, he could have written her off, as it were, as having deep-set insecurities that had nothing to do with him and compensating for them by picking an easy target to bully. He could have tolerated that, and ignored it as best he could.

But there was another side, a strange and wistful side that she never let show if she could help it. There was something so much older, so much more pained that anything he had known, that he couldn't help wondering about it. There was the secret, too, the one he knew she had. He didn't know what it was, but something in her eyes always seemed on the verge of revealing something fascinating.

His best friend wanted to know why he was so intrigued by her. He couldn't explain it. It had to do with how sad she had looked, six years ago, and how he was sure that there was something…something that he was meant to figure out about her…

Those little eyes so helpless and appealing…

At fifteen…

She walked by him in the hall, giving him a little smile and a wave as she walked by, but too caught up in conversation with friends to really talk to him. He stopped where he was and watched her go.

Once again, she was on his mind. She was much prettier now, much more self-assured, but still with a little of that endearing awkwardness carrying over from her more tomboyish days. She was still a great athlete, leading Gladhand High School to victory in girls' softball, basketball, and volleyball, but she no longer beat up his friends, or peppered him with spitballs from the back row.

He stared at her, fascinated by the way her pale golden hair, swishing back and forth as she walked, looked exactly like sunlight woven into strands. They had a certain friendship, forged from childhood together and summers at the beach—not to mention joined-at-the-lip best friends—but in school they ran in different circles. It was unfortunate, because he found himself wanting to get to know her better. She was such a loner sometimes, very artsy, surrounding herself with drama people and writers despite her own athletics. It was just another one of her strange contradictions, something he might never understand.

He had to admit to himself that sometimes he missed the occasional spitball from the back of the room…

One day will flash and send you crashing through the ceiling…

At twenty-one…

He wiped his sweaty palms on his pants, holding the roses tightly to himself as he scanned the tops of the heads of people pouring out of the gate. The airport was crowded, noisy, and smelly, and he wished that there was a more quiet place to do this. But it was now or never.

Suddenly he saw that pale yellow head in the throng. She made her way through the crowd, heading towards the exit. She hadn't seen him yet.

He felt weak. She was quite the college student now, with her beaten- up, duct-taped suitcases in hand, faded jeans and a vintage Madonna tank top. Her extraordinary hair was loose and flowing straight down her back, except for a small section braided around a pink ribbon.

He almost turned and ran away. But he had to tell her, had to explain to her that he had finally figured it out, finally realized why he had always been so drawn to her, so fascinated by everything about her. Why he had thought of her every day, all the four long years she had been at UCLA. Why he was standing here now, holding a dozen long stemmed red roses, with sweaty palms and a nervous stomach.

He loved her.

Thank heaven for little girls

Thank heaven for them all, no matter where, no matter who

Without them what would little boys do?

At twenty-seven…

She carefully tied their three-year-old daughter's golden hair into pigtails, topping it off with a big pink bow. "There," she said with a smile, kissing the girl on the nose. "Now you're all ready for preschool."

"Are you gonna take me?" the child asked, looking at her mother with big green eyes.

She shook her head. "No, Daddy's taking you."

"Daddy!" the child squealed with delight, running to him and hugging him around the legs. He smiled.

"Come on, sweetie. Time to go. Say good-bye to Mommy."

"Bye, Mommy!"

"Bye, angel. Have a good time at school. Be a good girl, okay?" The child nodded earnestly.

She kissed her husband, too. "And you be a good boy," she warned him.

He pulled her closer. "And what if I'm not?"

She laughed, pushing him away. "Impossible. Now go."

"Come on, Daddy!" his daughter squealed, pulling on his hand.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," he replied, letting her pull him out the door.

It was a rainy day, much like a day nearly a quarter century ago, a day when another little blond girl was starting preschool. This girl had someone taking her to school, though.

He stopped the car outside of the building. "Do you want me to come in, precious?"

She shook her head. "No thank you, Daddy. I'll be okay," she told him, and he was struck by her maturity.

"Okay, then. Good-bye, sweetie."

She hugged him briefly, her little arms going around his neck, her thin soft hair brushing his cheek. "Bye, Daddy." She turned to get out of the car, but he stopped her.

"I like your bow," he said, tweaking one of her pigtails.

She knew what it meant. "I love you too, Daddy."

He watched as she got out of the car, holding her umbrella above her head. Suddenly he noticed a small boy down the street a little ways, looking on the verge of tears, soaked through. He was about to get out of the car and go to the boy, when his daughter appeared, shielding the boy from the rain with her umbrella. The boy looked up gratefully, and they walked to school together.

In the car, Arnold smiled.

Thank heaven

Thank heaven

Thank heaven for little girls…

So what'd you think? Let me know! If any of you read this with the original ending, tell me which one you liked better. And yes, I will have the next chapter of Missing Pieces up ASAP!