Author's Note: First, a quick thank you to Lord Malachite. His mention of Helga in a recent kind review started the juices flowing for this story. This is meant to take place after Jimmy Neutron ended, but also after the end of Hey Arnold!, specifically after the movie. I know they ended in different years, but bear with me here. And yes, I also know that there were hints in Jimmy Neutron that showed that Retroville is in Texas, while Hillwood does not have a confirmed state, though was based on Oregon. So please no reviews just to say "this is geographically impossible!". As dearly as I love them, we must all remember that Hey Arnold and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius were cartoons, and a little rule bending is allowed.
Important Information: This is just dialogue. There's not much action going on, and it's just a one shot. I adore both Helga and Cindy, and that's mainly because they're strong girls that still have vulnerabilities. Helga comes from a confirmed bad house hold, and it seems Cindy may not have the best home life either (her mother is clearly the domineering type and her dad has never been given dialogue, and rarely showed up, leading many to believe their marriage was on the rocks). So I really wanted to see the pair interact.
"Get me another one, buck-o. Whipped cream and sprinkles this time," Helga G. Pataki slumped forward, crossing her arms on the table she occupied, then resting her head on top of her hands. The surface felt cool there, comforting her. It also helped her to ignore the other kids that were staring at her.
"You're hitting them pretty hard, yeah..." Sam pointed out as he took two empty glasses from in front of the new girl.
"And I'm paying for them, so shut it. Just bring me one of those curly straws with the next one," Helga lifted her head slightly and started tracing circles into the table top as Sam went to fetch her order. "Stupid jerk. He's still being so nice to me..." she muttered to herself.
"Wonder what that chick's story is," Libby gestured with her spoon in Helga's direction. "She's been here since before we got here. Just drowning chocolate shakes and muttering to herself."
"Looks like she's having a rough time," Cindy noted, taking a bite of her own ice cream. "Maybe we should go check in on her?" Libby shrugged, but hopped to her feet at the same moment Cindy did. Cindy cleared her throat to give the girl a warning of their arrival. "Excuse me?" she tried.
"What do you want?" Helga snapped, bolting up right.
"Well if you're going to be like that," Libby started, but Cindy shook her head.
"Look, I see that you're upset. We were just wondering if we could help. I'm Cindy Vortex, and this is Libby Folfax. Did you need to talk?"
Helga crossed her arms. "Vortex? Did I walk all the way to Weirdsville or something?" she looked around cautiously. "So when does the announcer from the Twilight Zone start the voice over to say how I met my unfortunate end by walking into a town full of cannibals?"
"Was there ever an episode like that of The Twilight Zone?" Libby pondered aloud. Cindy rolled her eyes, making a mental note to tell Libby she was clearly spending too much time with Sheen.
"Look," she said forcefully, "we are trying to help. We don't have to, and we don't have to stand around and be insulted. So back off."
"I don't need to back off," Helga leaned as far forward in her chair as she could without falling off of the edge, "I need losers like you and that big headed jerk to back off!"
"Big headed jerk?" Cindy repeated.
But Helga was off in her own little world, speaking softly to herself. Cindy practically strained to hear it, but she did manage to catch "Yes, how I love him and his oddly shaped head..."
Cindy was fuming now.
"I am going to kill him," Cindy clenched her fists so hard that her nails were starting to leave imprints in the palms of her hands. "I thought we were done with this mess...at least Betty and April were age appropriate and a little, I guess, attractive...but now Neutron's doing it again?" she pointed a finger at Helga but spoke the next part to Libby, "She's got to be at least a year younger than us, and I -"
"Neutron?" Helga's unibrow furrowed. "Who the heck is Neutron?"
Cindy seemed to deflate right in front of her. "But...you said...big head, and he's a jerk, and it's oddly shaped, I thought..."
"Down, girl," Libby said, giving her friend a pat on the back. "She thought you were talking about her boyfriend." Libby explained.
"He's not my-" Cindy started to argue, then stopped. "Oh. Right. I'm still not used to that. Look, I'm sorry. Can we start over?"
"No skin off my bones, sister," Helga shrugged. "I'm Helga."
"Yeah, you already mentioned that, Princess. Guess you lost your train of thought when your boyfriend was mentioned."
Libby looked at each blonde girl in turn, appraising the situation. After a moment's consideration, she decided the volatility of that particular scenario just wasn't worth it. She hopped up without excusing herself, knowing that Cindy could handle herself if trouble arose.
Cindy sniffed. "Yeah, well, you were mooning about some guy yourself. What's the story?"
"Don't want to talk about it."
"Why? What does it matter? I mean, your shoes are caked in mud, but it hasn't rained in Retroville or the immediately surrounding suburbs for the past two weeks. You've walked at least five miles by my estimation. I'm guessing to get away from the people you know, so that you could think something over."
Helga sighed. "That's actually pretty impressive. Do you know where Hillwood is?" Cindy shook her head. "Good. Don't go, it's full of a bunch of losers and jerks."
"So is this boy a loser or a jerk?" Cindy asked knowingly.
"You're the kind who keeps pressing even after people tell her to go away or slam a door in her face, aren't you?" Helga didn't wait for an answer. "Crap. You are. Just my luck...you'd probably follow me back to Hillwood if I don't tell you my little sob story."
"You could always chance it, but a last name like 'Pataki' can't be hard to track down."
"What are you, psychic as well as genius?" Helga groaned.
"No. You threatened Sam, the owner here, about twenty minutes ago and you called yourself Helga G Pataki. Doesn't sound like a pseudonym. But now you're stalling. What happened?"
Helga started drumming her fingers on the table top, before she sighed and dove in. "His name is Arnold. He's...he's so annoying. I hate him," she slammed her fist on the table. "Always has to save the day, always has to be Mr. Nice Guy. I torture him constantly and what does he do? He puts up with it! Rarely even retaliates! What a sap! What a maroon-"
"Ah," Cindy nodded, "I know this story. You love him, but he pays attention to other girls and you don't know how he feels, so it's harder to tell him. You try, but the timing's never right."
"You know a lot about this?"
"I've had similar experiences in the past."
"But I did tell him," Helga groaned and put her face in her hands, casting her eyes at the table. "I even kissed him. I couldn't hold it back any longer. The truth just came flooding out of me, and it was so wonderful for just that brief second...But now we've agreed it was just adrenaline, the heat of the moment."
"He can't believe that."
"He does," Helga insisted. "I need him to believe it," her voice got very soft. "Because I'm not ready yet. I won't be until..."
"Until?" Cindy asked, trying to press as gently as she could.
"Until he can return my feelings. And I don't think he ever will. So that's my story. What's yours?"
Cindy smiled. "Almost the same as yours. A goofy kid with an enormous head that always does the right thing...I watched him fall for other girls, even though I was always right there. We'd snark at each other, play pranks, try to outdo each other. I was convinced he would never realize how I felt, or that if he did he wouldn't want me," Cindy smiled when she glanced to see who had just come in the Candy Bar, "But there's just one difference in our stories."
"Oh?" Helga crossed her arms, wondering where Sam was with her shake.
"Hey, Cindy. Who's your friend?" Jimmy Neutron had taken the seat that Libby had vacated earlier and grabbed a hold of Cindy's hand as soon as he was seated.
"Just a kindred spirit," Cindy said, giving his hand a squeeze. "Helga, the difference is that my story has ended. But you're never going to reach the conclusion unless you go back and let him respond. Give him a chance to answer. Boys are stupid, they take a while."
"Hey!" Jimmy grumbled.
"But they get smarter with age, even about how to handle girls. Trust me." Helga shrugged as Cindy hopped up and pulled Jimmy up with her. "We've got plans for right now. Are you going to be all right?"
Helga nodded. "Yeah. I'll be fine," she bit her lip. "Umm...what if he says no? What if he doesn't feel the same way? I mean, maybe you got lucky."
Cindy considered it. "He might say no," she agreed, "But isn't the possibility of him saying yes worth that risk? Get back to Hillwood, Helga. But come back to Retroville any time you want. I'll be glad to talk to you. Try not to be so angry all the time-"
"You're giving advice to people on anger management?" Jimmy said with an air of amusement. Cindy elbowed him in the ribs.
"I am a perfectly nice person, Neutron!" she cleared her throat and returned her attention to Helga. "Good luck."
"Thanks," Helga responded, waving to Cindy as she and Jimmy went to get their own usual booth in the corner. She watched the couple for a few minutes, imagining herself and Arnold in their places. She went and paid off her tab before deciding to head back to Hillwood now. She still wasn't ready for Arnold's response, but she left Retroville with more hope than she'd come with.
That was enough for now.