This fic is set right before the Season 2 episode "Best Friends," where Arnold does a Uniquely You presentation with Rhonda and Nadine, and also plays the middle man in helping the two friends reconcile.

In the episode, there is a quick passing conversation between Arnold and Gerald that goes something like this:

Gerald: Glad my presentation is over. Being "Uniquely You" with Helga? Man, that was humiliating!

Arnold: Yeah, it was. I'm glad I got Rhonda and Nadine as partners. They always get along.

This fic is about Gerald and Helga's presentation. How does this glossed-over presentation fit into Day 5 topic of "Pinky Promise" in Shortaki Week 2020? Read on to find out!


The final bell rang, and it couldn't come soon enough. It was Friday afternoon, and Helga had had quite enough of P.S. 118's nonsense for the week. She couldn't wait to get home, throw off her shoes, prep for the Wrestlemania episode airing that night, and pig out on pizza and pork rinds.

"Hey Helga!" She heard a voice call out from behind her. Her signature stomp down the hall came to a stop, and she growled to herself in anger. She knew exactly who it was, and what that person wanted to discuss. She really didn't want to talk about it now, but knowing how stubborn he was, he was going to get what he wanted. Fine. But that doesn't mean she wasn't going to make it easy for him.

She turned around with a threatening, "What?!" to see a reluctant, and seemingly exhausted, Gerald walking toward her. As he got closer to her, he rolled his eyes and said, "Come on, Helga. You know what we have to do. Let's just get this over with." His eyes were slightly pleading for her compliance.

She outwardly scowled at him, but inwardly, she took a moment to observe the situation. He seemed just as miserable to be teamed up with her for this stupid Uniquely You project as she was with him. Okay, at least they had that in common. That, and they both had a deep place in their hearts for one utterly selfless, endearingly bold, loyally optimistic, compassionately warm football-headed love God. Not to mention their appreciation for sweet, rational, intelligent Phoebe.

Sheesh, she had more in common with Tall Hair Boy than she thought.

Maybe that's why it was so hard to be around him.

She rolled her eyes obnoxiously and sighed heavily, trying to display outright distaste of his presence. "FINE, Geraldo," she sneered.

Gerald looked like he was trying to keep his cool, but with Helga, civility was challenging. He crossed his arms defiantly and said, "So, do you want to meet at your house? Monday after school?"

Helga suddenly felt her breath hitch and heard her heartbeat in her ears. Her thoughts went to the shrine of her beloved in her closet. She could picture it now: Gerald in her room, excusing himself to go to the bathroom, opening the closet door before she could stop him, his body becoming frozen in his shock, jaw to the floor, him starting to say, "What the...?", the very fabric of her life quickly unraveling, the world exploding...

Come on, Helga ol' girl. Get it together. Come up with a quick excuse to avoid him coming over before he gets suspicious. "You can't!" she said abruptly. Well, THAT was smooth.

He didn't seem to notice her panic. "And why not? You don't have a little sister that derails everything." He put his hands on his hips.

"You can't because... because... our bathroom is being renovated!" she blurted out, relieved that she was able to come up with something believable on the spot. Feeling more comfortable, she started settling into the lie. "There's dust everywhere, noises going on until 8 in the evening, we'd have to share a bathroom with Big Bob... trust me. You don't want to do it at my house." She waited on bated breath, hoping he would buy it.

Gerald sighed, his eyes weary. "Alright Pataki. Fine. My house it is. Monday after school. You can come around 6:00, after my family eats dinner."

Helga inwardly high-fived herself. Her secret of loving his best friend would live to see another day.

Gerald continued, "But be warned. My sister is a pain. And my brother, well, he's a pain, too. Hopefully they won't distract us so we can get this all done in one evening."

Helga waved him off and said, "Yeah, yeah. Now, if you'll excuse me," she began as she started walking away, turning around and walking backwards, "I have a date with Phoebe, Wrestlemania, and pepperoni pizza." She turned back around and headed for the double doors that lead outside.

Gerald's demeanor lightened up immediately at the mention of Phoebe's name. "Tell her I said hi!" he shouted after her.

"Moron," Helga uttered under her breath and she slammed her hands into the metal bar door handle, opening the door with a loud crash.

Recalling the conversation, Gerald stood there, shaking his head with a small smile of disbelief. "Mmm mmm mmm! Doing a project with Helga Pataki. This is really going to suck," he said to himself.


Monday at 6:00pm, Helga was knocking at Gerald's door. She felt a little flit of excitement in her stomach, knowing that she was about to be in a space that Arnold often occupied when they weren't at school together. While in Gerald's home, she planned on taking some mental notes of how Arnold spent his time there. She would relive those memories in her mind in front of the shrine later, she then decided.

The door opened. Helga was expecting Gerald to open the door, so she was surprised that she had to look up higher to meet eyes with someone taller and older. Probably his older brother. "Yeah?" the teen answered.

"Um, is Gerald home?"

He grinned devilishly. "Yep. Hey, Gerald! Quit pooping and come to the door! Someone is here to see you!"

Helga chuckled as Gerald appeared at the door in haste, trying to push his brother out of the way. "Jamie-O!" he said in a whiny voice that Helga had never heard from him before. "Seriously? I wasn't pooping. I was helping Mom with the dishes."

"Sure, you were," Jamie-O said as he grabbed Gerald, putting a wrestling move on him that left Gerald with a twisted arm, yelping in pain.

Helga, thoroughly entertained by this exchange, couldn't believe how great her short time at the Johansson house was playing out already. Here she was, seeing Gerald get knocked down a few pegs, without having to put forth any effort whatsoever. She liked his other brother already. With a laugh, she said, "Seriously, Gerald? You don't know how to dodge an arm wrench to a vertical wrist lock? Man, what a wimp."

Jamie-O laughed at what Helga said, looking at her with an impressed expression. He let go of Gerald, with Gerald attempting to recover. Jamie-O said to her, "Hey, I like you! A friend that isn't afraid to tell it like it is. Nice to meet you..." motioning toward her with an outstretched hand, asking for her name.

She smiled proudly, accepted his outstretched hand with a firm handshake, and said, "Helga G. Pataki."

Gerald, still disgruntled and straightening out his shirt, butted in. "Ugh, of COURSE you two would get along." Staring daggers at Jamie-O, he added, "And we're NOT friends." Not even looking at Helga or formally inviting her into the house, he turned around, started stomping up the stairs, and said, "Come on, Helga. Let's start the stupid project." Deciding not to push Gerald further, Jamie-O and Helga shared a humored wide-eyed grimace at each other before she entered the house and followed Gerald up the stairs in silence. While climbing the stairs, Gerald shouted over the banister, "Mom, I'm gonna be in my room with Helga doing our project!" Helga heard a faint, "Okay, sweetheart!" come from downstairs somewhere.

As she ascended the staircase, she looked at the photos adorned on the adjacent wall. Photos of a happy family of five lined the wall, with a new photo to see every few steps. She would never admit it out loud, but she felt a pang of jealousy seeing Gerald in photos with his family. Despite Jamie-O being a jerk to Gerald, the home reeked of love and closeness, a stark and obvious difference from her own home.

She followed him into his room. As she walked in, she felt like she knew this place. She realized it felt so familiar because it very much reflected the personality of its occupant: bold colors and posters of celebrities, athletes, and characters she overheard him yammering on about when she was eavesdropping on his and Arnold's conversations were all over the walls.

Gerald threw himself on his bed face-up, clearly needing a moment to compose himself. With a sigh, he covered his eyes with his elbow and said, "Be glad you don't have an older sibling."

Helga gave a small, knowing laugh. Since Gerald was basically a dog with a tail between his legs at the moment, her guard was down. She didn't feel the need to give a retort or maintain her reputation, for the moment, anyway. She leveled with him instead. "I actually do have an older sibling, and she's the worst."

Keeping his elbow up, he suddenly lifted his head and peered at her with surprised eyes. "Really?" he asked. "Why did I think you were an only child?"

Helga shrugged her shoulders and started slowly pacing room, eyes on the many items on the walls. "She's ten years older than me. She doesn't even live at home anymore, but it's absolute torture when she visits." She stopped her pacing and returned eye contact with him. "Does your brother wrestle you like that often?"

Gerald sighed, threw his head back on the bed, and returned the elbow over his eyes. "All. The. Time. And I hate wrestling, so I don't know how to fight it. Man, I can't even walk down the hall without his stupid surprise attacks."

An idea began to brew in Helga's head. "I could teach you a few defensive moves to get him off your back," she said casually.

Gerald, surprised and eager, propped himself up with his elbows. "Really? You would do that?"

With an air of power, returning back to her slow pace around his room, she said over her shoulder, "For a price."

"Of COURSE," he spat, sitting up, with his legs dangling over the side of the bed. "And here I was, foolishly thinking that you were actually being nice for once."

Retort engaged. She spun around, pointing an accusatory finger at him. "Hey, I can be NICE." Realizing the irony of her stance, she put down her finger and relaxed her shoulders. "I'll teach you some moves, and in exchange, we do this project my way, on my terms," she said, pointing her thumb to her chest. "I choose the topic and how the presentation is going to go."

Gerald squinted his eyes with suspicion. "And what exactly would that look like?"

Helga tried her best to suppress her evil grin. "The topic is wrestling, with me demonstrating some wrestling moves on you. Me in the dominant position, of course."

Gerald groaned. "See, I knew you couldn't be nice. You're going to make me look like a fool." He attempted to reason with her. "Is there anything else you're interested in? Anything besides wrestling?"

Helga pondered that for a moment. What interests of hers would she feel comfortable putting on display for all her classmates to see? Ballet? No. Poetry? No. Her obsessive infatuation with Arnold? HECK NO.

She returned from her thoughts to respond to him in a mockingly lighthearted tone. "Nope. We're doing wrestling. Do we have a deal?"

Gerald mulled it over for a second. He sighed with his eyes closed, as if he was about to say something he might regret. He looked at her. "It's a deal as long as we do moves that keep me on my two feet. Nothing on the floor, and nothing in the air."

Helga nodded. "Fair enough. Deal." She extended her hand to make it official, and Gerald met her hand. It was a solid, one-shake handshake. In a serious tone with a touch of smugness, she said, "Okay, let's start with how pathetic it was that your brother got you in a wrist lock without even trying."

For the next 30 minutes, Helga showed Gerald some defensive moves. She asked Gerald which moves Jamie-O frequently put on him, and provided some ideas of how to break free from those holds. She even let Gerald practice the defensive moves on her, slowing down the pace step-by-step, allowing Gerald to get his feet wet with it. She took the lesson seriously, and felt that familiar passion she felt for her hobbies shine through. In fact, she realized that this was the first time she had ever practiced these moves on another human being, as no one in her social circle was into wrestling like she was. She was enjoying herself, with Gerald Johansson, of all people. He was listening fully and absorbing her lesson well.

When he managed to escape Helga's attempt to get him in a wrist lock, she looked at him with an impressed expression and said, "I think my work here is done."

Gerald smiled, obviously proud of himself. "Wow. That wasn't so hard!" He stopped, realizing the shift between them. "Uh, thanks, Helga. That was... really cool of you to show me that." He smiled to himself and said, "Now THERE'S something I never thought I'd say."

Helga confidently put her hands on her hips. "Like I said, I can be nice. For the right price."

"For the right price," he echoed with a smirk. He went over to his mirror, checking his high-top fade, making sure his hair still looked fly after practicing wrestling moves for a half hour. Still looking at himself, he said, "I wish you could be that nice to Arnold."

Helga's heart skipped a beat at the mention of Arnold's name. Recovering, she laughed and crossed her arms. "HA! Please. The ol' Football Head deserves it."

"What?" Gerald spun around, shocked that she was using those words to describe his true-blue best friend. "Arnold is the nicest person there is. What does he do to deserve anything but kindness?"

Helga froze. Her body felt the familiar sensations that always came with anyone going anywhere near her secret love for Arnold: tight throat, rapid heartbeat, stuttering, babbling, and shifty eyes. She tried to play it cool. "W-Well, y-you know, he's... always butting into people's business!" was the best thing she could come up with.

He gave her a deadpanned expression. "To help them."

"Well, it's annoying!"

Gerald shook his head at her childish response. But suddenly, his face lit up, as if a lightbulb went off in his head. "For the right price... you'll be nice..." he said quietly, half to himself, half to her.

Relieved that Gerald distracted himself from prodding Helga's intentions any further, she raised an eyebrow. "Yeah. What about it?"

Gerald gave her an intense stare. "What if I asked you to be nice to Arnold for a week? What would I have to pay to make that happen?"

Helga scoffed. "Why do you want me to be nice to a dopey little football head?"

Gerald broke eye contact and starting pacing back and forth. "His birthday is next Monday. I'm strapped for cash, and I've been going crazy trying to think of what I could do for him. But this," he said, as he slapped the back of his hand into his other palm, "THIS could really make his week." He stopped pacing and looked at her. "So, name your price."

Helga tapped her chin in thought. She had a reputation to protect, and being nice to Arnold for a whole week could compromise that. Jeopardizing her reputation carried a hefty price tag.

On the other hand, lending Arnold a kind hand for a week could benefit her, too. It could show Arnold that she's more than a tormentor. She's passionate, funny, witty, and intelligent. Who wouldn't want a girl like that? This could be push she needed to make Arnold finally see that Helga G. Pataki was the perfect girl for him.

She wouldn't show her cards, though. She decided to play hard to get. "I'll be nice to Arnold if you do my homework next week. That includes projects due next week, too." She crossed her arms triumphantly, smirked, and did a quick eyebrow raise, as if to say "take that."

Gerald deflated. "You mean, I'd have to do your History of Hillwood essay due next Friday, too?" It was a demanding project. It required you to find someone who has lived in Hillwood over 30 years, interview them, and write a 3-page paper about how much things have changed over the years.

"Yep," she said, emphasizing the p sound at the end of the word. There's no way he'll take the bait, she thought.

After a few moments, he relented. "You drive a hard bargain, Pataki, but I'll take it."

She uncrossed her arms and her jaw hung open, surprised that he didn't even try to negotiate terms with her. Wow, he must be desperate, she thought. What a sap!

"Wow, really?" She said immediately out of shock. "I mean, alright, Geraldo. But we gotta set some boundaries here. I don't want to be TOO nice. Can't have Hair Boy falling in love with me or anything." Reverse psychology. Can't have him suspect anything.

"Fat chance," he said with a laugh.

His response hurt, but there was no way in heck she'd ever let him see that. "For starters, I'm not going to go out of my way to be nice to him. If the opportunity presents itself, fine."

Gerald nodded. "Fine."

"And," Helga continued, "he CANNOT know that we have this agreement."

"Wait, what?" Gerald said loudly. "But how else will he know what I'm getting him for his birthday?"

"Ugh, do you need a pat on the back for your good deeds?" she asked in annoyance. She was no stranger to being charitable in the shadows, and it irked her that other people needed validation for their acts of kindness. "And do you know how mortifying it would be for the class to know that I was being nice to Arnold because you asked me to? NOBODY is going to know about this except you and me." She pointed to him and then thumbed her chest.

Gerald groaned. "Alright, alright."

Helga was insistent. "Promise me. No. PINKY SWEAR that this will never get out. If it does, Old Betsy will be paying you a visit, along with a surprise wrestling move that I KNOW you can't defend yourself against." She held out her pinky finger toward him.

Gerald shot her an irritated expression at her verbal jab before extending his pinky finger, locking with hers for a beat. "Fine, I pinky swear."

Helga did a single nod and said, "Okay. Starting tomorrow, I'm going to be nice to Arnold. My last day will be next Monday, his birthday. That's when you'll begin doing my homework."

Gerald nodded in confirmation. "Right."

Helga was on her way out the door when she turned around and said, "Oh, and I'll come up with the whole Uniquely You project. All you have to do is show up and be my warm body while I put you in a headlock in front of the whole class." She smirked, gave a two-finger salute, and walked out of his room.

Gerald sat with a deadpanned expression. "Mmm mmm mmm! How does Phoebe put UP with that chick?"


A/N: Phew. So, there's Chapter 1. Don't worry: Shortaki is coming in the next chapter. I kind of got carried away with the word count of this thing. That's always a problem of mine. Writing for Helga and Gerald was super fun. I love their distaste for one another, even though they have so much in common.

I wanted to put it out there that although the timeline for this show is super screwy, we can agree that: 1. Arnold's class hadn't met Olga yet since this episode aired early on in the series (hence, why Gerald didn't know about Olga yet), and 2. Arnold's birthday is on October 7, so I made this story set in October.

Also, I'm feeling super insecure about this. I don't know if this is interesting to anyone or not. Review and let me know what you think.