I don't own Hey Arnold! Seriously, how many times do I have to say this?
Indeed, the diminutive, newly dubbed "fourth-grader" was deeply rubbing his forehead. Both eyes were squinted in discomfort as their owner nursed the aching bump on his tiny cranium.
"I'm sorry, Helga! I shouldn't have distracted him like that!" cried out the football headed boy in genuine concern. His golden-toned hand lay on Milo's shoulder as the two boys' friend, Gerald Johanssen, kneeled down to their level.
"Hey, Mi! You okay, man?" The African-American "Keeper of the Tales", too, sounded rather concerned for the younger child.
The sepia-toned boy simply turned to Gerald soundlessly and nodded.
"Good! Cause he won't be when I'm through with him!"
Several gasps popped out from the observers, filling in the hallway now that lunch had concluded, that surrounded Arnold, Gerald, Milo, and Helga. No one had expected for the little guy to invoke the iron-fisted queen's wrath already, at least not on his first day!
Instinctively, Arnold and Gerald positioned themselves in front of the smaller schoolboy. There was no way in Helen Keller they were going to let Helga, of all people, lay a finger on Arnold's younger brother!
Said blonde, however, finding Arnold and Gerald's actions almost laughable, merely rolled her eyes before narrowing their fiery focus on the youngster who stood behind the two older boys.
For some odd reason, though, he looked more curious and confused than apprehensive.
'Looks like what this shrimp needs then was a good ol' case of Pataki fury...' P.S. 118's iron-fisted queen mused. 'Man, I'm going to hate my guts after this!'
So without further ado, aiming a finger at Milo, Helga barked out,
"Alright, shrimp, listen up and listen well, cuz I'm only gonna say this once. Never—I repeat— never get in my way like that!" shouted the blonde, her mighty voice echoing off the walls of the halls like a shout in the Grand Canyon.
Hey, if Helga G. Pataki was going to make an impression on the newcomer of her class, she might as well make a strong one.
Arnold and Gerald, however, took great offense to Helga's words, but especially Arnold. Oh yeah, he could accept the daily bluster and rage he received from the girl himself. This time, however, all that bluster and rage was targeting Milo, and the last outcome Arnold preferred was his younger sibling getting terrified on his first day in the fourth grade.
Now standing up to Helga was no simple task—that much was certain—of course, standing up to difficult tasks was just another one of Arnold's specialties.
"Helga, Milo didn't mean to walk into you like that. It just was an accident," P.S. 118's peacemaker, palms up and feet taking a step forward, calmly explained to the irascible blonde in front of him, but to no avail.
"Oh, spare me, Arnoldo!" acidly scoffed the Pataki girl with an eye roll, "Heck, I oughta be slugging both of you right now! You're the one who's looking after the kid for cripes' sake!"
"Football Head," to Milo's credit, did not back down. In fact, his hands now akimbo to his waist, he stood boldly but righteously, a wall of unshakeable caring resolve against a raging tempest.
'Stubborn geekbait as usual, I see... Oh my beloved...If only you knew how much doing this pains me...'
Indeed, branding Milo with the same brutality as with Arnold practically tore up the girl's insides... very, very much. Unfortunately, the risks of being nice to the little guy imposed the same consequences as did showing affection towards the apple of her eye (or anyone for that matter, but especially her charming little apple).
"Helga...Listen. What I'm just trying to say is—"
"Huh?" the two blondes and Gerald, eyes wide, uttered confusingly and in unison, all three rather taken back by the words just spoken by this boy. Even the audience went dead silent at the boy's word.
To the surprise of the three older youths, there was no trace of emotion to the kid's countenance.
Milo wasn't even glaring at Helga. Even Arnold usually was more expressive than this boy.
'Man, the least this kid could is look sad,' mused the Pataki girl in perplexity.
The seven-year old simply shrugged his shoulders before saying "sorry" once more.
"Nobody actually got hurt, but I'm still apologizing. It's only right...right?"
Taken rather back by the boy's frank tone, Helga, shaking her head vigorously, effectively snapped herself out of her shock before, not wishing to lose face, fashioning a smug smirk at Arnold and Gerald and positioning her hands akimbo to her own hips.
"See, boys? Day's barely over and he knows the drill already. I suggest following his example, Arnoldo."
"Whatever you say, Helga." This time, Arnold was the one to do an eye roll. Immediately after his reply had been uttered, Arnold felt a finger jab his chest sharply.
"Exactly, bucko, whatever I say. Now move it already!"
Offering a half-lidded look but still stepping off to the side with Gerald and Milo, Arnold only crossed his arms, his face the epitome of calm.
Deep down, on the other hand, told a different story. His nerves still steamed a bit inside at Helga Pataki's treatment of the younger child.
'Milo deserves better than that and Helga knows it. She could at least lighten up on him.'
"You should try Cherry Monkey Bunch Cake," a familiar voice interrupted, cutting off Arnold's contemplation.
Arnold, Gerald, and Helga, the last of whom froze in mid-step, once again turned to the younger boy in absolute perplexity.
"Cherry Monkey Bunch Cake," the brown-toned boy repeated casually, a hand in his pocket and his sketchbook in the other,"...you should try it. I hear it's really good at lifting people's spirits up."
'…Uh?' became the sole occupant of both Arnold's and Gerald's thoughts at the moment.
Helga, 'Okay...that was random.'
Yet young Milo continued his words regardless of his peers' reactions. "My Mom even told me that if you share it with someone you care about, all the secrets in your life, even the deepest, darkest ones, come flying right off your chest."
Deepest, darkest secrets...like one girl's passion for a certain flaxen-haired angel...
Everyone else, aside from Arnold and Helga, only wondered if this boy had completely lost his mind.
A baffled Rhonda, 'What is he talking about?'
A stunned Stinky, 'I reckon Milo dun lost it.'
An exasperated Gerald, 'All right, that's it. This kid has got to lay off the anime.' (1)
Arnold wondered what his little brother was up to (if he was up to anything at all). Of course, being the dense fellow that he was, the optimist couldn't quite fathom what Milo could be up to that'd involve Helga Pataki of all people.
'I just hope he doesn't try to get back at her or anything. He's already on a bad start with her as it is.'
She wondered if her heart might explode!
'He—but how much...Oh criminy, who is this kid?'
Who in the world could already pick up so much about a person from just one chance meeting? Well yeah, Helga was worrying herself over somebody two years younger than her and less than half her height...
But what he just said...oh man, there's no way those words were said out of a whim!
Ironically enough, this same boy snapped the blonde girl out of her shocked state by pulling out something from his tiny azure backpack and modestly voicing,
"You dropped this on the bus earlier by the way."
Her science book...There it was, perched in Milo's pudgy fingers like a chocolate bar calling Helga's name.
Insecurity struck the blonde female in waves as memories of near humiliation and panic-struck apprehension threatened to drown her confidence.
She did not need a repeat of that "lost diary" episode.
Quickly reverting back to full-on rage before anyone could pick up on her strange change in demeanor, Helga snatched the book out of the boy's hand, snapping,
"Gimme that! Next time, keep that kid on a leash, Football Head, SHEESH!"
Arnold gave a half-lidded glare to the Pataki girl, who didn't even flinch a quarter of an inch. Gerald, on the other hand, gritted his teeth in a nearly vain effort to keep a low-sounding grumble from turning into a catty reply as his best friend's personal tormentor roughly pushed her way past the three boys.
Sure enough, Milo neither glared nor grumbled but rather raised an eyebrow at the blonde girl's display of aggression.
"Off day for her, you think?" he asked his brother and Gerald quietly yet curiously.
Gerald merely shook his head, deciding not to comment on the boy's apparent innocence. "Trust me...that girl's always on an off day."
Later at the end of the school day, on the far side of the school, away from wandering eyes...
The same frantic blonde paced endlessly, berating herself all the while, her defensive façade long gone.
"AHH! What is wrong with me? It's bad enough I gave the kid one of my patented death glares. Oh no, though, Helga G. Pataki! You didn't want to stop there, did you? You just had to treat the kid like crud!"
With those words spoken, she drew out her locket once more, half-expecting the Arnold in the picture to be frowning at her instead of beaming that usual laid-back smile.
Even though he didn't, the rotten feeling still persisted.
"Oh Arnold...Arnold! How could I have allowed my repression of my innermost feelings for you to warp my better judgment towards your dear sibling? How could I be so callous? How could I be so judgmental towards his good will and intentions? Forgive me not, my muse. Do not waste your mercy upon this wretched wench, this wench that dares to shatter not only your good, Samaritan beliefs, but as well as the oath she has so promptly desecrate—"
That sound came from the contact of Helga's own hand colliding with the side of her cheek...hard. Regardless, the action snapped the girl out of her soliloquy-style rant rather well.
"Whoa, whoa, get yourself together, Helga, old girl!" She drew a deep breath, willing her being to regain self-control—a successful effort, even though her internal tension still persisted.
"Alright, look, you said you'd only ease up the teasing on the kid. You never anything about being this kid's angel and showering affection on him like a doting mother would to her pride and joy."
Helga's eyelids suddenly flew open at the last couple of words.
'Although that's not a bad idea for a poem...' Helga, slightly impressed with herself, mused with a small grin.
Keeping up with that tiny bout of inspiration, Helga pulled out of one of her pockets a little blue notebook (same color as Arnold's shirt and hat of course) with a yellow pencil contained in the notebook's spiral spine. Flipping to an empty, white page, Helga took the pencil out of the spine and wrote down a few words to remember those last couple of words.
Hey, being a poet meant being prepared for unexpected ideas.
After finishing her jotting and placing the notebook and pencil back where they were previously, the tomboy stroked her chin and continued her pacing more slowly as she continued where she left off with her thoughts concerning Milo.
'Now then... there's got to be a way I can keep an eye on the squirt without blowing my cover. He's definitely the type who knows a lot more then he lets on, maybe even more than Football Head himself. Especially if he looked inside that book and can see past my charade now...'
And if that cake comment was any indication, well...Helga would just need to keep a close eye on that Mahana boy.
"The last thing I need is making an enemy out of that shrimp."
Easier said than done, though...
Coming up with the plan would be simple. The execution of said plan would be the difficult part.
"Just need a little ingenuity, Helga, old girl. And maybe some elbow grease while you're at it..."
At least if some stealth would be needed...
All of sudden, a distant sound abruptly snapped the blonde out of her contemplation, prompting her, to look around in confusion at her current environment and seek out the source of the indistinct noise.
A voice...accented too...
'Wait a sec, don't I recognize that accent?'
Then, after peeking out from behind the building, she saw him.
A tall Asian man with a thin moustache and wavy black hair was at the other end of the sidewalk. Dressed in a dark blue jacket, sky blue button up shirt, white shoes, and long khaki pants, he seemed a bit nervous, twiddling his thick thumbs as he kept these subtle glances towards the school entrance from which all the children scampered out to freedom. From the Pataki girl's vantage point, the man seemed to be mumbling something to no one in particular.
If Helga didn't know any better, she'd sworn he was waiting for somebody.
She was right on the money because Milo, Arnold, and Gerald stepped out of the school, strolled right across the street and came to a stop beside the lanky fellow. The man, whose frown had transformed into a smile the moment he saw the boys and had now kneeled down to be at eye level with the tiniest of the trio, and Milo performed a most peculiar greeting.
Both of them each brought their hands together in a fashion that could've easily have made cylinders. Then their fingers began moving vertically in rhythmic patterns .From an observer's perspective, the man and the boy would've looked like they were playing pretend mini-trumpets in their hands.
All of a sudden, the two males separated their hands and held them far out to the sides, almost if they were about to hug each other.
Actually, what they did instead was quickly clasp their hands together and then that corny hand wave Helga had seen on some of those tacky dance shows Olga forced her to watch sometimes.
What did they call those gestures? Jazz hands..?
Honestly, throughout her short life, Helga had seen people do some weird actions (even if she is one to talk), but those two seemed to just take the cake.
She could only shake her head in cynical disbelief as Arnold and Gerald, unlike their unseen observer, both chuckled at the man and Milo's antics.
'Man, is everybody in that boardinghouse a grade-A nutcase?'
Helga stepped inside through the front door, closing it shut with a noisy bang.
"I'm home!" she called out loudly, muttering shortly after, "Not that that amounts to a hill of beans..."
"Pipe down, Olga! I'm watching the Wheel!" shouted a boorish and baritone voice from the living room. "Ah mother humper, that ain't no prize, ya maroon. That's a god damn rip-off!"
Rolling her eyes, the pigtailed girl stomped upstairs to her room, her practical sanctuary, the door to where she was about to enter...at least until—
That chirpy (not to mention cringe worthy) voice could only belong to one person...and unfortunately that very person was skipping right down the hallway to her "baby sister" right this moment.
The thought of 'When the heck did she get here?' couldn't help running through the dumbstruck mind of the younger Pataki girl as the award-winning Olga enveloped her in a nearly bone-crushing hug.
Nobody ever told her Miss Perfect would be here today!
'Then again, surprise, surprise...I could write a book on the things Bob and Miriam never tell me,' Helga sarcastically had commented in her mind right before two shockingly strong arms constricted her.
"There you are, silly!" Releasing her grip on the struggling and increasingly oxygen deprived nine-year old, Olga held Helga at arm's length with a dazzling smile. "Oh, I've been looking all over for you, silly! I need somebody to help Mommy and I make dinner."
Helga, who had been a bit busy rubbing her arms in order to get the feeling back into them after managing to brush her overly mushy sister off her, raised an eyebrow at her in expectant annoyance.
'Oh brother,' no kidding...Helga G. Pataki had better things to do than run errands like a miniature housewife.
"Gee, really, sis? Well gosh, Olga, that's just swell!" Helga cheerfully faked with a smile and a swung fist. "Oh, but you know what? I've got, uh, a school project I need to get a head start on."
With those words said, the younger girl shrugged her shoulders in feigned disappointment and proceeded once more to walk into her room.
"Ah well, there's always next time, right?"
A dainty but shockingly firm finger planted itself upon Helga's cranium, grabbing the blonde's attention and halting her progress.
"Not so fast, young lady, I've made this dinner special just for you, and I, for one, do not intend to let my younger sibling miss out on this wonderful day!"
Was Helga hearing things...or did Olga sound more chipper than usual— if such a condition could even be possible?
"And why," Helga inquired cautiously and slowly as her one eyebrow raised up in suspicion," dare I ask, is this day so 'wonderful'?"
This young tomboy, much to her chagrin, only received for an answer a bubbly giggle from Olga, a light tap on the nose (at which point Helga had tried to swat away her elder sibling's hand), and the following answer:
"You'll see, baby sister."
Before Helga could even ask about the enigmatic significance of those words, Olga, in her typical sunshine girl fashion, merrily skipped away, humming a cheery tune. The older girl probably even thought she had just made her sibling very cheerful about the surprise.
Her baby sister felt anything but cheerful. Actually, she merely sighed forlornly as her eyes rolled in tired irritation. Knowing that sister of hers, Helga had a strong feeling she wasn't going to like what that woman had in store for her.
'Why do I feel like she should've just set me up for my own execution instead?'
"Oh hi, Helga, honey, back from school already?"
At hearing those words upon entering the kitchen, the Pataki girl could only give the woman in purple, seated in a chair right in front of her younger daughter, the usual half-lidded glare.
"I've been back since two hours ago, Miriam," replied Helga drolly.
"Oh, good!" exclaimed Miriam airily.
'Why do I even bother?' Helga sighed mentally with another eye roll.
A grinning Bob pointed a thick finger at the empty seat that had somehow ended up right next to Helga. "Ah, there she is! About time, girl! Now sit that keister of yours down. Your sister's got something big planned."
Hold on, Miriam actually looked... somber...and were she and Bob... smiling? Helga wouldn't admit this but...she kind of felt creeped out right now. Those grins on her parents' faces looked way too happy to be either comforting or normal.
'Something tells me I should just walk away right now. In fact...'
Too late for that decision...Before Helga could even blink, something knocked her right off her feet, only to have her land butt-first on it instead of the floor. Olga had just slipped a chair right under her sister, and was now scooting the chair up to the table.
All of this happened in only two seconds.
"Oh wait," the elder sibling exclaimed, clapping her hands daintily, "this occasion calls for something special. Wait right here, everyone!"
Everyone watched Olga as she pranced her way out of the kitchen like an overly perky fairy princess.
The youngest of the Patakis, slouched back in her chair and arms crossed, rolled her eyes once more at the absurdity of the people surrounding her.
'Special? Olga, everything you do is special. Heck, Miriam and Bob even consider the fact that you breathe special! How much more special could you possibly get anyway?'
Upon realizing the frequency of a particular 's' word in her mind, Helga quickly but vigorously shook her head to rid herself of the slightly stunned expression that came about at the end of her train of thought.
'I'd...better cut off that thought now. I'm starting to sound like Simmons.'
Still, what the heck was with this family all of a sudden? Unless there was some benefit guaranteed for them, these guys, at least Bob and Miriam (but especially Bob), never usually spent some much affection on their younger member unless...
An assumed epiphany made Helga scrunch her eyebrow in unspoken but defiant outrage.
'Hmph, well I know one thing. Helga G. Pataki is not going to be another pawn in the beeper king's self-glorification or Olga's mission to shower the planet with rainbows and unicorns, that's for sure.'
"Hey, hey, hey!" snapped the voice of Big Bob Pataki, the voice of whom snapped his daughter out of her sarcastic reverie and brought her scathing attention in his direction.
"Don't' go throwing that look around, little lady! Your sister's got something worthwhile planned for you, so I better start seeing some gratitude over there, capiche?"
"Yeah, yeah, don't get your arteries in a knot."
'Not that they already are...' the pigtailed rebel added internally to herself with a subtle smirk.
Before long, though, Olga returned to the kitchen, except this time she had a huge, silver stereo cradled in her arms. On top of the sound system was something that seemed to be a CD case.
Helga could not believe her widened eyes.
'You've got to be kidding me.'
Stereo seated neatly on the table, Olga, with her delicate fingers, removed the CD from its case, pressed a button on the stereo, and inserted the disc into the now open slot of the sound system.
Much to Helga's disbelief (and maybe even utter embarrassment), the cacophony of an orchestra filled the living room, the trumpets sounding off the climax with a deafening roar before let their voices descend into silence. From that point on, soft classical music dominated the room's atmosphere.
"Now then, I, Olga G. Pataki, have very exciting news! Do you all recall the 'Big Sis, Little Sis' program from last month?"
'How could I forget?' Helga groaned inwardly, facepalming as she scowled very darkly at the memory.
That problematic program had been a double curse in disguise! Oh yeah, it took Olga out of Helga's hair (or so the younger sibling had assumed at the time) but then it paired her up with Li-la, of all people!
Hang on! If that program and Helga were related, though, then—
'Oh no...,' thought a shocked Helga in desperation, '...For the love of Sigmund Freud, please no...'
Despite of her ever escalating terror, Helga still managed to ask her sister in a deceptively calm voice, "So...uh, you signed me up for it then, eh, Olga?"
On second thought, execution sounded better and better. A little brother or sister...? That idea meant all sorts of complications for the young blonde. First of all, dragging around some little squirt all day would not do wonders for Helga G. Pataki's reputation. Unless the kid was part wolverine, the iron-fisted queen of P.S. 118 was in for a planet-sized headache!
The last thing Helga needed was a mini-Lila following her around.
Second—and most vital of all—who knew how much of a nosy parker the kid that Helga would get stuck with was...especially if the brat came too close to a particular secret...one involving a certain closet and a certain football-head...
'What do I look like anyway—a piggyback ride? I've already got one little squirt to worry about. Helga Pataki doesn't need another brat on her back!'
"Actually, as wonderful as that idea sounds, Helga...," replied Olga, her usually perky voice soon adopting a saddened tone. "I'm afraid not. That program only accepts people 18 or older when choosing older siblings."
Oh, in that case, scratch the execution part...
'Ha! Thought she had me there, didn't she? So close, sis, but, hey, nice try anyway...'
Maintaining the same false air of sincerity, Helga gave her sister a convincing look of sympathy.
"Oh gee, that's too bad, sis! Oh well, guess I'll just have to stick with being a baby sister, huh?"
"But that's just fine!" Uh oh, Olga was back to smiling again!
"Uh...It ...is?" And Helga was back to being terrified again, very taken aback at the sudden comeback of Olga's joviality.
"Yep... because there's a program for people under age 18! It's called the Sunny Smiles Siblings program and it's open to both boys and girls!"
The current moment that followed that "reassurance", at least in Helga's perspective, would pretty much parallel the part where some medieval guy is already set in the guillotine, the blade all raised and ready to decapitate.
"And...why?" The blonde dynamo immediately wished she hadn't asked.
"Well, I've done some serious thinking lately..." Olga began thoughtfully as she tapped her fingers together.
The blade finally began its descension...
"...and decided it's time you gain experience in what life's like when you have someone to share it with!"
Still the blade fell.
'So, in other words, I'm...?' Helga shakily concluded with a gulp.
The blade sliced through the poor slob's throat—or rather Big Bob's words cut through Helga's sense of security.
"That's right, Olga! Your sister's just signed ya up to be a-"
Wow, I really dramatized Olga, didn't I? XD
(1) That reference was supposed to be a reference to to the anime Bobobo-Bo-Bobobo! (Purple Monkey Horseshoe!-I'm serious. That phrase is an actual line from the show!) Yeah, I have some serious problems with my obssession over that show! XP
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