Notes: Much like Miriam Pataki, I feel like there's more to Big Bob than what we saw on the show. Though… not much more. I'm not sympathetic toward him like I am with Miriam. I actually really hate him, but him and his relationships with the women in his family are interesting to me. So this oneshot is dedicated to his relationship with Helga as it develops over the years. It's not sunshine and rainbows. As with my other HA! fics, this was written two years ago and has gotten a small facelift as of December 2012. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Craig Bartlett.
"Children begin by loving their parents; after a time they judge them; rarely, if ever, do they forgive them."
- Oscar Wilde
When she was born, he was working at his brand new beeper store. He hadn't asked for another baby – and he sure as Hell made it clear to Miriam he didn't want it – but if he was supposed to support the kid, he wasn't about to shut down his store for even one day. When Miriam brought it home, all he could hear was crying. Olga never cried. At least, he didn't think so, but if she did, it was probably easier on the ears than the other kid's incessant wailing. If Miriam wasn't around, he'd put earplugs in – no use dealing with it when he had a perfectly good way to block out the noise. She later told him he should be ashamed of himself. He told her that you had to ignore them – kids, that is – otherwise they'd cry over every little thing for the rest of their lives.
When she was three, she had her first day of preschool. He forgot to drive her there. Or did he just not want to? He couldn't really remember. What he did remember was that Olga had been playing the piano and he couldn't just stop listening to drive The Girl somewhere. He would have done it, eventually, when Olga was finished – if she had just waited. Really, he would have driven her. But she just left. And she made it there alive, right? Of course, he did get a call from a concerned teacher over how she showed up alone, dirty, and without a lunch. Just useless crackpots trying to barge in on his business. Typical la-dee-da liberal bullshit. He told her to teach the damn kid and stop asking questions.
When she was six, she began to give him attitude. Fresh little brat, she was. Nothing like Olga. Sometimes, rarely, he was grateful that she had a mind of her own – meant he didn't have to drive her to school or help her with homework. But most of the time he wanted to tape her mouth shut and lock her in the attic (he came this close a few times, too). She always questioned his authority, always had some wise-ass remark to make – why couldn't she just shut up and follow orders, like Olga always did? What right did a six year old have to call him "Bob", anyway? Stupid brat. It was embarrassing, is what it was. Calling him out and trying to out-smart him in front of other people, other adults. She would be the death of him, he knew. He never had high blood pressure until she came along.
When she was nine, he realized how utterly disappointing she was. How was he supposed be proud of a kid who never won any trophies? It was easy to support Olga. It was easy to be proud of Olga. But what did The Girl have to offer? It was like she threw competitions just to spite him! What's more, she seemed determined to make him miserable, for cripes sake! Running away from home, getting into fights, playing baseball like some boy… the list went on. But the worst was the therapy. Not only was it embarrassing to have a member of the Pataki household in therapy, it was downright terrifying to think of the things she probably told that crackpot "therapist". Some things are best kept quiet, he thought. Swept under the rug. But then, maybe she did need it – she was a lunatic, after all. Always hiding in her closet and talking to herself. She disgusted him, mostly, though he figured she was alright that one time Miriam was out of town.
When she was twelve, she was dating that weird kid with the tiny hat. Alfred? Whatever his name was, the point is that he hated that kid, what with his morals and his do-gooder attitude. No one stands in the way of Big Bob Pataki. But that kid always stood in his way, whether it was over The Girl or some dumb tree. He knew she was only dating the kid to spite him (and she was too young to date, anyway). She seemed offended when he told her he was onto her, informing him that he didn't know anything about her. But he knew. He knew she was out to get him. He told her he didn't want her seeing some self-righteous orphan. She told him he wasn't an orphan – his parents were just lost in the jungle for nine years. Scoffing, he asked her if she planned on going on jungle adventures with little Tarzan junior's family. She said she did do that; she was there two years ago, helped him find his parents, etc. He asked if that trip cost him any money, and was promptly told to go suck a dick. Where in fucking hell did she get that mouth from?
When she was fifteen, he hit her for the first time. It had been a long time coming, really, and she was asking for it. She was literally daring him to do it, the words were coming right out of her smart mouth. So he did it. He regretted it after, a little bit. Or maybe he was just afraid she would tell that ridiculous therapist where her split lip came from (naturally he stopped paying for that crap right after - wouldn't want CPS at his door, after all). It felt good though, showing her who the real boss was. That sure shut her up. Nothing else worked, but that did. He'd never felt such power. He'd dealt with years of back-talking and opinions, years of her humiliating him in public… maybe now she'd act like a lady, like Olga. For all he knew, The Girl was smoking pot and experimenting with that boy, and robbing banks, and God only knew what else. He congratulated himself on knocking some sense into her. It was for her own good, when it came down to it. Getting her away from that nosy therapist was for her own good too, that woman was only putting ideas into her had. Everything he did was for her own good. At least, that's what he told himself.
When she was eighteen, he caught her in bed with that orphan kid (hadn't he left town?). He had never been so enraged. He punched the kid in the jaw and threw him out of the house, and then went back upstairs to give that whore a piece of his mind. How dare she sneak that piece of trash into his house, disrespect him like that under his own roof? The things he was going to do to her… but her door was locked. That only made him angrier. He was thinking about ways to murder her and hide the body when he finally got the door open. She was standing there, waiting for him, with a baseball bat at the ready. There was a suitcase on her bed. She told him if he hit her, she would be at the police station so fast it wouldn't even be funny. There was nothing he could do but glare and finally… retreat. He couldn't deny that she knew how to use an aluminum baseball bat, or that she was strong for a girl her size. He also knew she wouldn't hesitate to use the damn thing on him after the way he was yelling through the door. All he could do was go back downstairs. Then she left. It was the first time she ran away and failed to come back the next day. He suspected she was staying at that run-down boarding house, but he didn't go after her.
When she was twenty-one, he hadn't spoken to her for three years. After the incident, she never did come back home. At the end of that summer, she'd gone across the country for school. He wasn't sure where or for what, even though Miriam told him multiple times. All he knew is that she had scholarships and the rest of it was paid for with loans under her own name. No commitment necessary on his part. He didn't even have to mail her belongings to her. Miriam took care of that. Good riddance, he thought. Miriam mentioned that she was graduating at the end of the school year, and maybe they should go. He laughed. As far as he was concerned, he had one daughter, and she graduated from Bennington College twelve years previously.
When she was twenty-four, she moved back to Hillwood. He was not happy. It just meant that there would always be the possibility of bumping into her on the street. Or running into that husband of hers. The orphan kid, of course. He had gone to their wedding. After all, if he didn't show up, it would make him look bad. And of course, a father had certain duties to perform, right? But the little bitch refused his kind offer to walk her down the aisle. Said he wasn't her father and never had been. Said he didn't deserve the honor. That the only person she could ever depend on, other than the man waiting for her at the altar, was herself. So she would give herself away. It was so predictable that, after everything he'd done for her, she would publicly humiliate him on her own wedding day. She had always been into dramatics.
When she was twenty-seven, she had a baby. He never saw it, because he hadn't said a word to her since her wedding. He had been lucky enough to never cross paths with either of them since they moved. And really, he had no interest in seeing their kid. It was probably going to be a smart mouthed brat, like she was, and a self-righteous, morally superior fool like its father. Probably had a weird-shaped head, too. The last thing he needed was another screaming kid in his life. Olga's were bad enough. If she could give birth to such horrible beasts, he didn't want to know what sort of demon The Girl's kid was. He was getting old, and his blood pressure was high. It had been so long since they'd last spoken that it seemed pointless to start again. He had a long list of excuses, really. Mostly, though, he didn't want to have to apologize to her for… all that and, you know. Well, maybe deep down, he did want to. He just didn't know if he could. His pride was what held him back, over anything else. If Big Bob Pataki had a lot of anything, it was pride.
When she was thirty, he had a heart attack. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Anger issues. He was sixty-six and he was going to die. He'd been expecting it, really. What he didn't expect was The Girl visiting him at the hospital. Miriam must have called her and begged her to come, because he knew she'd have too much pride to come on her own accord. She was a lot like him in that way. But the last thing he wanted to do was have some kind of heart-to-heart on his death bed. Big Bob Pataki didn't do soft. So he told her that she did this to him. That things would have been so different, so easy, if she hadn't come along to ruin his life. That her smart mouth caused him to have a heart attack. She looked as if she was going to cry, and for a moment, just a brief moment, he wanted to take it back, take it all back, everything he'd ever said or done to her. An insane part of him wanted her to say that no, he wasn't the victim in their relationship, and he deserved to die this way, just so he wouldn't have to admit it himself. But then she just shook her head, looked at him with such disdain, and then, without even wasting the energy on talking back to him... she left. And that was the end of it.