Tigger: So I'm a terrible terrible person who hasn't updated in a year. But look a Christmas present for all of you! Or a really late Hannukah present.
"Well it's not like I had anything better to do, so let's go," Riley agreed.
"Don't you think we should ask a few questions first?" Jack pointed out.
"He seems like a perfectly polite brought-to-life-for-no-discernible-reason nutcracker," Riley reasoned, "Besides you'll freeze stuff if it gets bad."
Jack rolled his eyes.
"Okay okay," Riley turned to the nutcracker, "Sorry Steven McAdams we're going to need a backstory first."
"I understand," Steven waved the Jack and Riley towards the couch, "But you may need to sit because it is a long story full of heartbreak and sorrow."
"But six hours," Riley began but Jack shushed her and the two sat down.
Steven McAdams clambered up the tree and sat on a branch so he was about eye-level. He took off his hat and sword and hung them on a nearby branch.
"Let's begin at the beginning shall we?" Steven asked rhetorically.
Riley almost asked him to begin at the end and opened her mouth to do just that but then closed it. Steven McAdams seemed like a perfectly nice nutcracker, no need to antagonize him.
"I was formed by Santa," Steven began.
"We know that part," Jack interrupted.
"How come I can't interrupt but you can?"
"I have a cute ass." Jack smirked.
"That can't be your excuse for everything!"
"The picture on your phone says otherwise."
Riley turned a brilliant new shade of red.
"You know about that?" she squeaked.
"Can we return to the story please?" Steven McAdams interjected.
"Yes, please," Riley eagerly agreed, "Shut up Jack and listen to the nice nutcracker."
Jack opened his mouth to retort but Riley covered his mouth with her hands, her face still red. It was interesting sight. Riley nodded at Steven McAdams to continue.
"Now where was I," Steven hummed, "Oh yes, I was created by Santa Claus in his fabulous workshop up at the North Pole."
This time Riley opened her mouth to interrupt but Jack covered her mouth with his hands. So she covered his mouth with her hands and licked his hands. Jack licked her hands. Riley glared at Jack. Clearly this was getting nowhere. Steven McAdams continued to prattle on.
"Santa created me with the purpose of creating Christmas spirit and by doing so instilled a bit of magic in me," Steven explained, "I awoke while hanging on a tree and immediately noticed a small portal in the base of the tree. Immediately I went to investigate. By chance I happened to stumble upon a magical land with a beautiful Candy Kingdom when I went to introduce myself to the king I met the princess of the land. The Sugar Plum Princess and we fell in love at first sight. We were to be wed in the morning when the jealous Mouse King attacked. The Mouse Prince had long lusted after the beautiful Princess but she had rejected him because he was evil, so the Mouse King came to steal a bride for his son."
"I bet being an ugly mouse didn't help," Jack grumbled, shaking Riley's hands from his mouth.
"No I'm thinking it didn't really improve his chances," Riley agreed prying Jack's hands off her mouth.
"The Princess values love above all else, it doesn't matter what shape or size the bearer comes in," Steven McAdams insisted, "After all she loves me and what am I but a wooden nutcracker."
"Don't say that Steven McAdams," Riley comforted, "You have a lot going for you. Especially the sword skills. Those are cool."
"I suppose you are right fair maiden," Steven McAdams perked up.
"I'm a fair maiden!" Riley whispered excitedly to Jack.
"He doesn't know you too well," Jack mocked.
Riley stuck her tongue out at him.
"Anyway," Steven McAdams continued his story, "The Mouse King had kidnapped my fiancée and I tried to save her, but when we were fighting his magic misfired and I ended up back here. What you encountered was the mouse king's lackeys coming to retrieve me so that I could be killed before I saved my fiancée."
"Stereotypical plot, I'm in," Riley said.
"I'm in as well," Jack agreed, "Can't leave Riley to save your fiancée. Who knows how that would end up?"
"You're mean! I was instrumental in saving the world just last month!"
"Splendid!" Steven McAdams cut in, "Let us gather the necessary supplies and be on our way."
Riley went to gather some snow globes and a few flamethrowers. Santa had originally attempted to ban her from them, but seeing as they helped her save the world Riley argued she needed them. Also she promised not to let the elves anywhere near them or to set any yetis on fire. She had been mostly successful so far. Mostly being the key word. Jack followed her seeing as he only needed his cane.
"Do you think I should bring anything else?" Riley asked, "I suppose food is a good option."
Riley began to head to the kitchen but was stopped by Jack's crook hooking around her waist.
"Some people use their words," Riley started but stopped when she turned and noticed Jack was very close.
He had his head down and his bangs were covering his eyes. Riley tried to peer under his bangs but Jack turned his head.
"Are you okay?" Riley asked.
Jack clenched and unclenched his fist a few times. Then he looked up.
"We need to be careful," Jack said, "You need to be careful."
"I'll try my best," Riley laughed a bit, "But as you see trouble has a way of finding me."
The look in Jack's eyes softened as he stroked her cheek. The sad smile appeared again.
"You do," Jack looked into her eyes, "But last time you tried to help you were thrown off a building."
Riley wasn't used to this. Jack was still a teenager at three hundred years old. He tended to be a bit stunted with emotions at times. This raw openness and caring. That was usually reserved for special tender moments like after saving the world. Not now when she was attempting to steal cookies from Santa's kitchen.
"I was, but you caught me," Riley pointed out, "And now it's time to repay the favor so go get thrown off a building so I can catch you."
Riley successfully ended the moment when Jack chuckled.
"I can fly," he pointed out.
"Fine I'll save you some other way," Riley acquiesced, "I'm not a damsel Jack. I appreciate you looking out for me and I want to return the favor. Just like I believe in you and your powers, you promised to believe in me and my powers. Whatever those powers may be, currently they include cursing like a sailor and melting nightmare ponies."
"Are you saying I need to work on my believing?" Jack pulled Riley closer.
"I'm saying I may need to smack some sense into you if you keep this dramatic shit up."
"I do so apologize my fair lady," Jack kissed Riley's hand, "Let me make it up to you."
Their lips met. Riley and Jack were not normal teenagers but they were teenagers. After the general awkwardness that comes at the beginning of every relationship subsided they took every free moment to make out. One would think those moments happened a lot more often than they did but the other guardians had really bad timing. So these moments were often short and interrupted or had to happen very far from everyone else, like Antarctica far.
"Ah-hem," a polite voice coughed.
"Shit," Riley cursed.
Riley turned to see Steven McAdams there.
"Are you ready to leave?" he asked, politely not looking at the two.
"Yeah," Riley attempted to straighten her appearance "Let's go."
Steven McAdams began to walk back to the tree. Riley sighed and shifted her bag on her shoulder. She jumped when Jack pinched her in the butt and casually walked by whistling a little tune. She was so going to get him for that.
Riley and Jack stood in front of the tree as Steven McAdams pointed towards the mousehole in the base.
"We just enter through here," Steven explained.
"In case you haven't noticed we're a bit too big for that hole," Riley pointed out.
"A lot too big," Jack added.
"Do not fear my brave company," Steven announced, "That small mousehole is actually a dimensional portal. One touch and you'll transform to the right size on the other side."
"Wait, we're going to be the same size as the mice?" Riley asked.
"Actually the mice will be a bit bigger than you," Steven corrected.
"Oh great, this whole thing seemed a lot easier when their weapons were the size of toothpicks."
"Not scared are you Riley?" Jack smirked.
"Never!" Riley proclaimed, "Let's do this thing!"
"If you would just grab my hand fair lady and the gentleman's hand as well," Steven McAdams instructed, "Follow me in."
Steven McAdams began to walk forward, Riley shuffled behind him while holding Jack's hand. Honestly it was a bit awkward to hold the hand of a tiny nutcracker. He could only grab one of her fingers and his little steps made slow progress. They got closer to the portal and Riley felt a bit nervous. The last time she went through a dimensional portal, there was no way back. Hopefully this time there would be. At least she wasn't going alone.
"Let us begin," Steven pressed his hand against the portal.
Magical purple sparkley dust came out of portal and began to wrap around Riley and Jack. Steven McAdams let go of Riley's hand and calmly stepped through the portal.
"Wait come back!" Riley yelped.
"I have a feeling we're going to regret this," Jack said.
All of the sudden the dust tightened its hold on Jack and Riley. They were jerked off the ground and spun in the air. Riley's hand had slipped out of Jack's.
"I'm going to be sick," Riley screeched as they were spun faster and faster.
There was a tug at Riley's navel and she was pulled towards the portal. She thought she was going to crash into the base of the tree and she closed her eyes and prepared for impact. Next thing Riley knew was that she was cold. Her eyes sprang open and she looked around. All around her was ice and snow.
"Really again?!" Riley shouted, "Seriously everytime I take an unknown magical portal somewhere. Why can I ever land somewhere tropical?"
Riley stood up and brushed the snow off. Then she noticed that she was completely alone.
"Steven McAdams?" Riley called, "Jack? Hello?"
The only response she got was the howling wind.
"Fuck," Riley cursed, "AGAIN?! I'm alone in an unknown place again! And it's flipping cold!"
Riley searched through her bag for something that would help. Flamethrowers? No, there was way too much snow. Plus she needed some sort of weapon. Snow globes? Did they work between worlds? Probably not and she had no idea where she needed to go in this dimension. Phone?
"Hey MiM. Can you hear me?" Riley asked her phone.
"Oh now he stops creeping on me. That's just freaking great," Riley muttered sarcastically.
Stuffing the phone back in her bag, Riley peered around. Behind her was a series of mountains. Perhaps she could climb them and see if she could spot anything? There was a forest somewhere to the left and endless snow in every other direction. Well actually the wind and snow prevented her from seeing that far but she assumed it was endless. The forest looked warm compared to everywhere else. There would also be shelter and possibly food.
"To the forest," Riley announced to no one, "The solo adventure begins."
*Some time being horribly lost in the woods later*
"Okay this solo adventure sucks," Riley announced to no one after another branch smacked her in the face.
She heard some rustling in the bushes.
"I'm sure it was nothing," Riley told herself ignoring her rapid heartbeat.
A branch snapped somewhere.
"Just a bunny." God her palms were sweaty.
Lots of branches snapping. The ground vibrated slightly.
"A fat bunny." Why wouldn't her legs cooperate?
The trees seemed to groan and Riley was having trouble keeping her balance with all the shaking.
"A really fat bunny," Riley squeaked.
Two trees were pushed apart by very large blue hands.
"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit," Riley repeated to herself.
The two trees were suddenly ripped up from the ground and fell on their sides. In front of Riley stood a twenty-foot blue humanoid creature. The creature was bulky with hands about the size of a car and legs as thick as the trees it had ripped up. It had silver hair and fairy wings. It was even wearing a blue tutu.
"Eat fire!" Riley shouted whipping out her flamethrower.
Tutu or not. Riley was not taking any chances. She was in another dimension (again) with little supplies (again) and no back-up (again). Her lack of magic powers also didn't help. The flame of fire from Riley's flamethrower was aimed right at the creature's face. Surprising for its size, the creature was very agile. It spun out of the way with all the grace of a ballerina.
"Alright, plan B," Riley began sprinting in the other direction.
The creature, whom seemed to have recovered, was running after her. While Riley had to duck under branches and leap over bushes, the creature simply brushed everything out of its way with a sweep of its hand. Its long legs enabled it to catch up with Riley rather quickly. Mentally Riley was cursing herself out for eating more cookies than exercising. Her bag painfully collided with her back as she pushed herself to run faster. Coming to a clearing and realizing that she couldn't possibly run anymore, Riley used her momentum to slide across the icy clearing and held up her flamethrower again. The creature stopped on the other side of the clearing, peering at her curiously.
Riley panted and attempted to speak. She felt sweaty and icky and her sides hurt. Her legs were trembling. Breathing in and out, Riley went to speak. Instead she ended up gasping for more air and made a motion for the creature to wait a moment. When she finally caught her breath, Riley tried again.
"Look I have a flamethrower and I'm not afraid to use it," Riley attempted to sound brave.
The creature blinked at her.
"Just please don't crush me," Riley asked.
The creature took a step forward. There was a horrible cracking noise and Riley glanced at the ice beneath her feet.
"This isn't a clearing is it?" Riley questioned.
The creature took another step forward and ice around Riley began to break into pieces. Water gushing through. Riley tried to stabilize herself on the slippery wobbling surface.
"Hey, hey wait! Don't do that," Riley told the creature, "I'll go under."
The creature stopped moving. The ice under Riley cracked anyway.
"Oh fucknuggets," Riley muttered before losing her balance and falling through the cracks into the freezing water below.
And I was cruel and left you with a cliffhanger. Sorry! Merry Christmas.