Hey guys, Scruff here to give you another dose of FF goodness! Right now it doesn't seem like my first fan fiction "Sharing" has been receiving much attention. Seriously, I don't mean to be pushy or anything but just one review would be nice…and maybe world domination. But right now just one little review. Is that too much to ask? It would at least be nice to know if one person's read my story.
However, my little iffy with reviews isn't the only reason I'm doing this one-shot.
Since I haven't told anybody in last fanfic, allow me to share with you a little tidbit about me: Mr. Hyunh is my favorite boarder! Seriously, the accent, his design, his singing, his back story—to me, this guy is full of win! (No homographic pun intended) Plus, I'm kind of disappointed that there aren't many stories on him, or any of the boarders for that matter. Hopefully, though, this one-shot and the last one will.
I also like exploring relationships that aren't touched on, another reason I'm doing this.
P.S. I had no idea Microsoft Word let us do emoticons now (somewhat). That's…so awesome! :D
Disclaimer: I do NOT own Hey Arnold. That honor belongs to Craig Bartlett and Nickelodeon.
How many times could Helga G. Pataki truthfully say she had ever felt these states of mind in her eleven years of life?
…well, at least without a thought focused on Arnold of course?
The young girl lounged sideways on the medium-sized, green couch of the boardinghouse living room, all aglow with Christmas lights and tinsel, mistletoe hung up in the most strategic of locations.
Suddenly, a soft duet of voice and strumming reached Helga's ears, the country-style voice familiar enough to conjure a tender grin on her face.
Actually, Helga couldn't help but discreetly nod her head side to side in time with the music, especially when that music brought back memories of her and the voice's owner.
"Don't ever surprise me like that!"
'Criminy, he's not even holding that fond little hello of mine from back then down my throat. Color me shocked.'
Helga wasn't fibbing.
She still remembered the all-important "team meetings" she and her best friend Phoebe always had with Milo, a son of one the boarders—not to mention a sharp cookie—Helga had met some years ago. He had mentioned how Mr. Hyunh—his mom's past friend since way back then, boyfriend of ten months, and now husband—was always "full speed ahead" whenever he got the chance to meet new people. Milo said he admired that quality of his (at the time) soon-to-be daddy. Phoebe shared the sentiment that she "equally found Mr. Hyunh's steadfast friendly liking to form close associations most endearing."
Well, Hyunh, in her opinion, should have at least had a restraining order- against her that is.
She would have never expected this guy to take her in, let alone invite her in so she could spend time with his patchwork family.
Geez, it was a wonder this guy actually recognized her from last time anyway—and pretty quickly in fact—considering she had been bundled up like a mummy and the snow outside made everyone's eyesight to where you couldn't see two feet in front of you.
But he still remembered.
There went an eleven-year old Helga's boots as they crunched down on snow, the girl's footsteps sounding as if she were stepping—more like wading—through watery Styrofoam.
She had just begun her trek on another "lovely" trip to the supermarket—if you had the lack of brainpower to call this troublesome trial Helga had to suffer lovely.
After discovering the complete absence of food (aside from a bag of Craisins and one remaining bagel she had for breakfast) Helga had to brave the sub-zero temperatures and snow five feet deep just to get a Subway pastrami sandwich at the city food court at the mall—a solid 5 miles from the Pataki residence.
Apparently, Miriam forgot to buy groceries before stores closed for the holidays…again.
'Hmph! There goes her resolution of staying sober. Christmas hasn't even started yet and she's already screwing up!'
Of course, then again, our blond heroine shouldn't have been too surprised. The only day out of this month—scratch that—this year Miriam was sober period was on December 25…
'…Especially with O-lga here to visit. Criminy! Can today get any more aggravating?'
Before the blonde knew what hit her (quite literally), she found herself lying on her back on the sidewalk, her head dazed from the impact.
Yep, she spoke too soon.
"Oh goodness, I am so sorry! I didn't hurt you, little girl, did I?"
Whoever the accented voice belonged to (Helga knew she ran into a man without even needing to look), the owner sounded very concerned.
Helga, however, was stuck on what the guy had just called her.
'Little girl?' was the thought running through a taken back but now increasingly irked Pataki girl.
Even through the massive headache that was coming up, Helga couldn't resist snapping her eyes open and twisting her face into her usual scowl as she quickly sat up to give this bucko a piece of her mind, or better yet, acquaint him with some old "companions" of hers.
Unfortunately, she raised herself so abruptly that the headache came on the moment she returned to full height. With a hiss of pain that couldn't be helped, Helga raised a hand to her aching head to keep that hiss from becoming a whimper.
'What did I crash into- some guy or a telephone pole?'
Suddenly, Helga felt a larger presence hover right in front of her and opened her eyes right then and there.
Her fiery glare sizzled instantly at the face before her.
A tall, lean Vietnamese man in glasses and a dark blue overcoat was looking on level with her. He had bended his knees to be able to look the blonde in the eye.
"You alright?" repeated the middle-aged man, his brown eyes still showing strong concern for the girl he might have bruised.
…that's what the girl's reply was…
…at least until her brain, still recovering from the shock- or fear?- was able to catch back up with her and get her mouth working again.
Helga made only one blink before she numbly stammered out,
Well, no one said the mouth was fully working again.
'Oh gee, that's a perfect response, genius!' Helga's mind berated her sarcastically.
'Crud, crud, crud…think Helga, old girl, think! How are you gonna get past this guy without Arnold-?'
Just then, though, Helga shook her head vigorously, the headache from moments before already starting to wane.
'Wait a sec. What am I worried about? This isn't another one of my crazy schemes to hide my undying affection for Arnold. I just bumped into this guy, for cripes' sake! Heck, I doubt he even recognizes my face from the last time we met.'
With this thought restoring her self-confidence, Helga did away with the shocked expression and replaced it with a look her classmates (even a few adults) had come to well recognize as well as fear.
"Okay, buddy, listen up!" she barked out, a finger pointing out at the older Asian man, who smartly leaned slightly back to give said finger room.
"The name's Helga. That's right, bucko! Helga G. Pataki! So cut out the whole 'poor little girl' crapola and back out of my face! I already got enough on my plate as it is.'
Unbeknownst to her…Mr. Hyunh was feeling something quite differently from fear. In fact, his eyes widened significantly…almost as if in recognition.
Helga, on the other hand, misinterpreted his wide-eyed expression.
'Dead speechless—just the way I like it.'
As such, the iron-fisted queen of P.S. 118, feeling well satisfied, gave a final huff and stomped past Mr. Hyunh, only to be stopped by four unexpected words.
"Forgive me… little angel."
Helga froze…right then and there!
That last word…it brought a cascade of memories crashing down on her… memories of a Christmas that felt so long ago and yet still felt as if it had only occurred yesterday.
Arnold, Helga's quest for the perfect present for her beloved, watching him and Gerald fail in their saintly mission, the woe at realizing the futility of her own, the snow boots- all of this remembrance finally landed her mind in the last memory:
A younger her, looking more at peace with herself than any other time in her short life, standing right outside the boardinghouse, soothingly warm from the emotions running high from the tearful reunion taking place within…
…a reunion she helped make into a reality.
All of this flashed through the young female's mind, her own emotions too rocked by Hyunh's simple words to even express themselves properly.
He knew what she did.
'But…but how…and he…I never even told Arn-'
Hyunh seemed to sense her shock, but made no move to come closer.
He did something else instead.
With an expansive smile and a warm chuckle, the Vietnamese boarder turned his back on Helga, but not without passing along a few more words.
"If you want, there is much hot cocoa and cookies at the boardinghouse."
Alright, now he captured Helga's attention.
"Huh?" was once again her reply. She turned her head towards the man in total perplexity.
With another chuckle, Hyunh turned around to face the lone child once more.
"Simple-No one should be alone on Christmas. Why should a good kid like you not deserve the same?"
Helga—Helga was speechless to say the least.
'Is…is he serious? He's willing to invite some random kid into his own home…just like that?'
Actually, Helga was right—and also greatly mistaken.
Yes, there was no way Mr. Hyunh would invite just any kid into the boardinghouse, aside from Gerald of course…
…but Helga wasn't just any other kid either.
She was the kid that reunited a father and his estranged daughter.
She was the kid that ended more than 20 years of heartache.
She was the kid that gave up what she wanted just so this man would no longer have to bear the burden, the agony of wondering but never knowing.
She was THE kid…
…as well as the kid whose growling stomach wouldn't be able to survive the trip to the mall at the rate she was going.
'Oh, what the heck? I suppose I could chill there till the heat, I mean, cold settles down.'
Besides, she already told Miriam she'd be out for a while anyway (not that the intoxicated woman could hear her anyway), so nobody would miss her.
"You know what…"
The following words were forever lost as more memories drifted through Helga's head.
There were her memories of returning from San Lorenzo last year.
There was the memory of a smiling Arnold as he walked down the plane's steps and into Hillwood Airport, his parents finally by his side after all these years.
There was the memory of seeing the tearful reunion of Arnold's once separated family, Helga viewing from a dark alley just across the boardinghouse-her typical vantage point.
Helga swore to this day she still felt the stretch marks from the massive smile she had on that day.
She swore to this day her eyes still stung sometimes, too.
No later had Arnold rejoined with Miles and Stella, the wise, young football head had to return to San Lorenzo a week later.
There was no telling if he'd ever even return to Hillwood.
Helga had been devastated.
She had cursed herself again and again, silently but passionately, resisted the temptation to scream skyward so the whole world could hear her anguish, and even considered ridding herself of her various monuments to her beloved.
Everything hurt so much.
…that was what hurt the most, though.
No, that kiss they shared during their escape from the river pirate La Sombra – it was wonderful, spectacular, tantalizing, and blissful. It was also supposed to mean something too.
For once, the distraught blonde believed she finally achieved what her heart had yearned for so deeply.
She believed Arnold was finally hers.
She felt like a million people had slugged her in the gut… and maybe even heart.
For all Helga's fantasies, all that her emotions could chalk up to was a single thought:
'How could I have been so stupid?'
That lament could have remained in Helga's head to this day…
'…except it didn't have to.'
The corners of Helga's mouth upturned a bit as she tugged at the little blue hat on her head, the one Arnold gave to her the moment before he boarded the plane for the jungles.
'He said to keep it safe and use it to remember him by… well I stayed true to my word like a real Pataki should, Football Head…'
So wrapped was she in her reminiscence, she nearly jumped right out of her skin when Mr. Hyunh's voice brought her back.
Despite the soft tone he had used, Helga snapped her head right back to attention, only to return back to her thoughts with a sigh the moment her eyes landed on the foreign fellow.
Arnold also told her that she was welcome to stay at the boardinghouse whenever she felt like escaping the madness that was her own home.
"Heh," Helga laughed dryly to herself, "I haven't been taking up that offer yet."
Hyunh overheard her words, though, "I am so sorry. What did you say?"
"Hmm…oh, it's nothing, nothing," Helga answered dismissively with a wave of her hand.
Seriously, though, what was up with her and all the hesitation?
It wasn't like there was a law keeping Helga from joining Mr. Hyunh and rest of Arnold's "zany but oh so lovable family."
No, it was her feelings.
Our heroine easily recalled the mishaps that landed her into many unsavory (albeit cursory) encounters with Arnold's grandparents and the boarders.
That time she and the her classmates had to put up with a mob led by Mr. Hyunh thanks to a particular football-head's Halloween take on some lame, overused sci-fi film…
That time she became a "possessed zombie freak" (courtesy of Big Bob's pork rinds) and woke up one morning in Arnold's shower…
(She really had to fight back a shiver at that delightful, little memory.)
Most of all, that time she snapped at Mr. Hyunh during her escapade for the tape recorder that held a mortifying message about her darkest secrets…
'Oh brother, I am a basketcase!' thought the guilty tsundere. 'Sure I was a little tense at the time, but the poor guy was just trying to show me some courtesy for crying out loud!'
'And you know what else Helga? You never even thought once about apologizing to him.'
Why did this new voice in her head sound suspiciously like Arnold?
It really wasn't helping. Helga G. Pataki was not a gal who preferred being pushed around.
Unfortunately, she was also very emotional. Her shrines were testimony to that.
Man, oh, man… no wonder she was so nervous being even near the boardinghouse, regardless of whatever many times she'd try to cover her apprehension up with her blustery exterior.
'For crying out loud Helga, old girl, sure Phil and Gert are okay with you, but what about the boarders? What makes you think that these people really want to put up with a loon like—'
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Helga was torn away once again from her thoughts - this time by a cell phone.
She turned back her head to see a rather curious sight: Mr. Hyunh was punching numbers into a cell phone, the baby blue of which contrasted sharply with the pitch black night sky.
Helga couldn't resist against squinting her eyes in order to peer closer at the device Hyunh was now waiting on.
"Are those… rabbits or something?" she mumbled to herself, wondering if she was seeing the pink hued shapes right.
The blonde just had to raise half of her thick monobrow skeptically at that observation.
Mr. Hyunh apparently heard her, though, because he hurriedly turned his back to her with a sheepish grin and a bright scarlet blush on his cheeks to go along with it before returning to his oddly decorated phone, which didn't take too long to receive an answer.
All the while, Helga, due to her position relative to the older man as well as the howl of the snowy winds, couldn't clearly hear what Hyunh was saying to the person on the cell, whoever said person was.
Helga shook her head dismissively and shrugged.
It was time for her to get moving anyway. Time wasn't being very chummy with her.
'Hey, it's none of my business. Anyway, I better haul my butt over to that mall before closing—'
"What the—Mr. Hyunh?"
The preceding sound, followed by this sudden statement, was a result of the older man removing his overcoat and draping it over the young child's delicate shoulders. This deed left him in his brown, red-zigzag patterned sweater, brown pants, and hidden iconic blue shirt.
Yet, he didn't seem even remotely fazed by the cold…and if he was he sure was a skilled actor because his soft smile didn't waver one bit.
"Sorry, my dear lady was getting antsy as to why I did not show up yet."
He said this so casually.
Man, how many times was Helga going to have to be made speechless today?
'At the rate I'm going, I might end up starting a holiday of my own.'
Despite this unbelievable situation, Helga really had to smile -an actual, genuine smile…
…not at her own personal joke (even if it was pretty funny)…
… Mr. Hyunh.
No one aside from Arnold, Phoebe, and well (Helga had to admit) even Olga ever gave her the time of day the way this man had just done.
The fact that he was willing to face the cold for a child that wasn't even of his own flesh, blood, and soul truly warmed her deep down.
Suddenly, the world didn't feel so cold at all. It actually felt safer, too.
It felt even safer when Mr. Hyunh drew an arm around her as he led her down the streets, his own body serving to aid the lonely child in the preservation of heat.
All Helga wanted to do was lean against Mr. Hyunh's side like a daughter would her father.
All she wanted was to feel safe.
…but she was still Helga Pataki too…
…and if there was one thing the blonde heroine was against, it was being overly sentimental.
Looking up to Hyunh with a wry smirk, though not very forcefully, "Hey, the only reason I'm letting you do this is cuz I've been freezing my butt off, so don't any funny ideas about going mushy, gooey on me, 'kay pal?"
Helga's smirk grew into an even larger grin when she witnessed the Asian man rolling his eyes—that's right, rolling his eyes- at her half-hearted attempt to maintain her "tough girl" persona.
"If you insist…"
His mouth said these words, but what Helga saw in his eyes were more of his true words…
'Welcome home…Christmas Angel.'
With a slow intake of air, Helga groggily opened her eyes, her consciousness needing to right itself first.
The first recognizable object Helga's mind was able to register was the red, red blanket that shrouded her body.
Next she noticed the blue hat she had apparently left on the table before prior to her little nap.
Almost on instinct, Helga released a soft girlish swoon as she snuggled more into the fabric.
'Oh, my love…so tender…so thoughtful…so caring…you could not help but resist the opportunity to encompass me with your ever warm compa-.'
The very instant this weird sound came up, the lady poet's nostrils were assaulted by a smell that made the poor dear shoot right up with the blanket and gag as if she'd ingested the putrid odor.
"BLECK! Yuck, what the crud was that!"
"Oh, I am so sorry, Helga!"
Helga instantly looked behind as that direction was where the voice was coming from.
Sure enough, she saw Mr. Hyunh, standing in the living room entrance and wearing two things: a blue bathrobe that was undone at the front and an apologetic and embarrassed expression on his face.
"I should have remembered. Suzie had kicked Oskar out of their room for two weeks. Today was supposed to be the last."
As Mr. Hyunh explained all this to Helga, the girl, finally noticing the middle-aged man she had unfortunately been "downwind" of, watched as the Vietnamese boarder walked past her and towards Oskar's end of the sofa.
"Sheesh, not to shoot down Gertie and her cooking or anything, but what did that guy put in his stomach?"
Phew! Whatever that Oskar ate, it did not come out pretty.
Mr. Hyunh couldn't help but grin bemusedly as he picked up the red-headed man and tossed him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes. Then he turned around to face the hallway and began strolling over to the stairs.
Helga, her eyebrow raised, "Where are you taking him?"
She wasn't necessarily concerned with what was about to happen to the Eastern European immigrant. Actually, she couldn't care less if the guy was about to be shipped to planet Jupiter on a rocket-propelled go-kart.
It was just simple curiosity.
Pausing at the first step, Mr. Hyunh shifted his head to Helga's direction and assured,
"Oh don't worry; I am just going to leave him out in front of Suzie's door. I am most certain she will find the state he is in tomorrow most suitable enough for him."
With that said, Mr. Hyunh proceeded to carry the slumbering bum upstairs.
Now the only sign of life left downstairs was a stupefied Helga Pataki, silenced by the absurdity that had taken place… with her in the middle of it!
A corner of her mouth twitched.
Then it twitched again.
Before long, Helga's lips slowly but surely formed a lopsided smirk, a short, quiet chuckle escaping them.
'Oh yeah, Arnold,' thought a bemused Pataki, 'your family is definitely zany.'
Helga looked down at the blanket that still covered her shoulders.
'But they're still lovable, too,' she added, her smirk melting into a gentle beam.
With a reverberating yawn, the tuckered out Pataki laid back down on the sofa, thoughts about tomorrow swimming lazily through her head.
'Wait…tomorrow?' Helga's mind suddenly registered.
Helga's body was upright in seconds!
"Criminy! How long have I been here?" Helga whispered urgently to prevent becoming a wake-up call.
"I only planned to stop by for a couple of minutes, not have an overnighter in Arnold's house!"
Where was the phone? She had to call somebody at home before-
'Oh, right…home,' thought Helga sarcastically, even though there was also a trace of sadness in that thought.
With a glum sigh, the distraught girl landed her head back on the sofa cushion.
'On second thought, crashing here at Arnold's for the night is looking better and better…'
"What is wrong?"
Helga didn't even need to turn her head this time to see who just spoke. The bounce of the sofa a rather large weight had given gave the guy away anyway.
After a forlorn sigh, Helga, "Nothing's wrong, Mr. Hyunh."
She finally lifted her head, only to see the older man gazing at her with the same concerned look he had given her out in the snow.
In an attempt to drive him off without being threatening, Helga half-joked,
"Don't you have a 'lady' waiting upstairs by the way?"
To that witty quip, Mr. Hyunh merely smirked and replied,
"Ah, no, I only came down here to gargle."
Upon seeing Helga's perplexed countenance, Hyunh added,
"I gargle every night before I go to bed. You see, I have medical condition that makes my throat very icky, so I gargle to make sure I do not choke while I snore. But, sometimes I gargle a little too loud."
Okay… well, despite being thrown off by that enlightening tidbit of information, Helga couldn't help but feel he was down here for something else—something involving her.
There was that conscious that sounded like Arnold again.
'He's just worried about you. That's all. Just give him a chance to finish explaining himself.'
Helga looked down as she let those words sink in.
All the while, Mr. Hyunh looked on in worry.
'Oh, no, perhaps I was being too personal?'
Honestly, he just thought she wanted to know for the sake of knowing. He hadn't meant to make her uncomfortable.
Thankfully, Helga proved all his worry for naught when she looked back at him with a smile and a half-lidded gaze.
"Huh, I never would've guessed," Helga mused amusedly. "You probably drive this place bonkers with that racket."
A hearty chuckle bounced out of Mr. Hyunh's chest at Helga's words.
"Actually, my gargle can be very creepy. Arnold and Gerald thought there was ghost in the boardinghouse this one time. They, Ernie, and Oskar all thought I might have been the ghost because of my gargling."
The hearty chuckle soon evolved into full-speed laughter, soon joined in by a second, younger voice.
Helga just couldn't help herself.
'Arnold, Tall-Hair Boy, and two grown men getting scared just cuz' of somebody gargling- oh man, that is gold!'
"And that is not all," Mr. Hyunh continued with a wag of his finger, " I also have creepy laugh. Wait until Halloween comes again…."
He rasped his voice and posed his hands over Helga like a monster at this point, obviously for effect (even though he knew the tough-as-nails girl was anything but scared).
"…then I will really scare your shoes off."
Helga's laughter had died down to a few chuckles, even though her arms remained crossed… but the mirth was still there.
She was drop-dead impressed to say the least.
'And this guy sings his own country songs, too. Man, it's like this guy's voice is a Swiss Army knife.'
She would have never thought the man beside her was so vocally versatile.
Mr. Hyunh sure was an interesting character.
Speaking of Mr. Hyunh, the older man gave a yawn that was just as large as him and that also interrupted Helga's train of thought. Standing up from the sofa, the Vietnamese fellow did a lithe stretch and gave the endearing blonde an affectionate tousling of her hair.
Normally, Helga G. Pataki would have snapped at anybody who dared to touch her…
…but tonight receiving this gesture just felt…right.
Giving the girl one last warm smile, Mr. Hyunh proceeded to return upstairs and back to bed. He barely made it to the first step.
The addressed man froze, not at the sound of his name, but rather at the meek sounding voice that had carried it.
Was the owner of that voice really the same girl Arnold had had to cope with for most of his young life? This voice sounded more like it belonged to a scared, little girl, a little girl begging for her mommy or daddy not to leave her alone in the dark.
'She sound almost…nervous.'
Helga was frozen, too, only for a different reason.
'Wait…did that—did that really come out of me?'
There was no denying what had just taken place.
Helga, Helga Geraldine Pataki, the iron-fisted queen of P.S. 118, and the sole proprietor of Old Betsy and the Five Avengers...
…had just shown an iota of weakness- and now she wasn't sure what she was feeling at this point. She turned her eyes downward as if to sort her emotions.
Her emotions never had the chance before a gaping yawn escaped her mouth. Before she knew it, a strong pair of arms had scooped her up, blanket and all.
She didn't even resist. Between everything that had happened today, Helga's body had just suddenly shut down, leaving her mind and her heart barely conscious.
There was one little tidbit Helga was at least aware of, however— a gentle heartbeat, somehow managing to lull the tuckered out child into blissful slumber like a dreamy lullaby.
Out like a light in seconds—just like that.
A caring smile stretched across Mr. Hyunh's face when noticed his guest's conked out condition. He had to admit, though, he was rather surprised when she instinctively snuggled further into his arms, not at all unlike an infant would.
'Just like Mai when she was little…'
Honestly, Hyunh couldn't help but make such a comparison between the child in his arms and his daughter.
Speaking of whom…
Hyunh immediately froze on the top step as he hummed quietly to himself in thought.
'Hmm, I think I will let her sort out things with Mai tomorrow.'
With that plan set in his mind, the old man did not take long to reach the cord at the end of the hallway, pull it down, and make his way up the formed stairs, a slumbering Helga cradled carefully all the while.
In a matter of minutes, Helga was safe, warm, and snug in Arnold's old bed, the sheets tucked just right and the pillows fluffed perfectly.
In another moment of nostalgia, Mr. Hyunh couldn't resist crossing his arms in paternal satisfaction.
"Yes," he whispered serenely.
He turned on his heels and walked out the room.
"I think Mai can wait until tomorrow to meet her angel."
No door ever shut so quietly.
I hope Helga doesn't seem too out of character in this.
In my eyes, she and Mr. Hyunh should have at least had some sort of run-in after the Christmas episode. I've read stories of where Hyunh and the others put two and two together but I wanted to put him and Helga on a more personal level.
Anyways, I hope you all enjoyed. Remember to review!