New Year's Child.

Ch. 12

A/N~ HAPPY NEW YEARS EVERYONE! 8D…yeah it's a day late, shut up. I WAS going to publish this yesterday, but I was feeling under the weather yesterday. QwQ

This chapter is dedicated and goes out to Xion5!

Now edited!

This is a fill from DreamWidth from the RotG KINKmeme. Please enjoy!

Pairing: N/A

Genre: Humor, fluff, family, angst (mild).

Rating: T (for swearing)

Enjoy!

~S~

~s~s~S~s~s~

"This is stupid…"

"Baby-Tooth, this is not stupid."

"This is stupid."

"Baby-Tooth…"

"It's STUPID!"

Tooth sighed in exasperation, trying to ignore the pouting Mini-Fairy perched on top of one of the numerous miniature Christmas trees in the Globe Room. Instead, she tried to focus on finding Gaia by checking under pieces of furniture, opening cabinets, drawers, and peering behind and under bookshelves and tables. So far, neither of them have found any sign of Gaia. They did, however, find a bit of couch change, a fancy pen, a mint, and a stale half-eaten cookie between the couch cushions. Tooth also found an earring, but could not recall any of her colleagues having pierced ears…

"Baby-Tooth," she started, checking the mantle of the oversized fireplace – no Gaia there either. "If you're going to complain, at least do it while looking for Gaia, please? The others will be back in two hours at best!"

Baby-Tooth sighed, but had to concede. She couldn't take after Bunny in this case and just accept her fate…

Tooth, meanwhile, found herself running out of places to look. So far, she and Baby-Tooth had checked the lounge where Gaia had disappeared from, her own and the other Guardians' rooms, the Elf Tunnels (mostly Baby-Tooth), the reindeer stables, even some of the Yeti's rooms! The Globe Room was only going to be added to the places they failed to find Gaia it seemed, and Tooth was finding herself at her wits end.

'Pitch is going to kill us! Not that I would blame him…' she thought in despair. Though if she were honest, she was more afraid for Gaia's safety than her own. She was only a baby, and North's Workshop wasn't exactly a child-friendly place (ironically). It was practically a magical version of a construction site, and no child is ever safe in those!

'Urgh! Damn it, THINK! Where would she go?!' Tooth paced in midair as she wracked her brain.

Both she and Baby-Tooth were too distracted to notice the small remote-controlled car passing by the Globe Room and heading to the kitchens…

~s~S~s~

Gaia and her new friends quietly and sneakily traversed the many halls of the Workshop. The Elves, experts in infiltration and the dark art of sneaking, easily evaded lumbering Yetis and frantic Guardians. Gaia was quite impressed with them, and they her; who knew such a small baby could cause so much chaos? She was now a proud and honorary member of their group, and had even given them names!

But before anything else could be accomplished (like escaping this dumb place and finding her papa), Gaia had asked her companions if they knew where she could get food. Her stomach was rumbly and uncomfortable, and she fought back the urge to cry and get the attention of someone bigger to feed her.

No, she was a big girl now and could feed herself! And besides, her new friends knew where to get food, and without any big dummies to bother them!

"We gotta be sneaky though!" the leading Elf, Bug, warned. "The large hairy ones run the kitchen, but they should be on break now."

Gaia wasn't too sure why a big hairy person would be on something broken, but so long as she got food, they could sit on all the broken stuff they wanted!

Their driver, an Elf Gaia dubbed Bah, steered their car past the large Globe Room and towards the kitchens. Neither the car, nor the tiny wagon they had attached to it for room made a single sound to alert anyone nearby. The third elf, Hum*, kept a sharp lookout for any pursuers.

None were seen so far thankfully, and with a rev of their tiny engine, Gaia and the Elves pushes through the kitchen doors and found themselves in a pristine, empty kitchen.

Gaia saw no food though – she could see some of her bottles up on the drying rack by the sink, but they were empty!

"This way!" Bug said, hopping out of the wagon and trotting to the fridge. His cohorts helped Gaia out of the wagon before following.

Bug tugged open the fridge, Hum and Buh grinning in excitement at all the goodies inside. Gaia, however, was not too enthusiastic. That wasn't milk!

She made her displeasure known, and the Elves, suddenly remembering that Gaia was a baby and, upon examination, had no teeth, realized they would have to get creative. They regarded the fridge's contents. Hm, that sandwich wouldn't do. There was a gallon of milk, but weren't babies supposed to have a certain kind? Eggnog? No, that's not right. Did North maybe have baby food?

"There!" Hum suddenly pointed to a large mixing bowl in the fridge. Bug and Bah followed his pointing finger, and grinned at the large bowl.

"Pudding!" they exclaimed.

All three got to work easing the bowl out of the fridge. Thankfully it was on the first shelf, and while it was a large and heavy bowl, the three Elves combined made little work of it. Now set on the floor, they offered the chilled chocolate to Gaia after tearing off the cellophane wrap over the top.

"Pudding is yummy!" Buh said, "Gaia will like!"

Gaia cocked her head as she watched the Elves dunk their hands in and swallow handfuls of the pudding. She had no idea what pudding was – it honestly looked gross. But it also looked like mud? She liked mud, so maybe it would taste okay…

Deciding to give it a try, Gaia stuck a finger in and, after giving it a small sniff, daintily licked the pudding off her finger.

Her eyes widened.

While it may look like mud, it tasted a million times better, and on this day, she swore she would eat nothing else but pudding for the rest of her life!

Squealing happily, Gaia dug both hands into the bowl before the others ate it all. Bug and Hum eventually broke off to go find other things to eat, easily scaling the counters and cabinets with practiced ease. Buh went back to the fridge for something else, and quickly found a whole gingerbread house near the back of the fridge, its icing setting.

Jackpot, Buh thought with a wide grin.

Bug and Hum were heard riffling through the cabinets and loading their looted spoils into the little wagon attached to the remote car. Gaia paid them no mind though, too enraptured by the wonderful food known as pudding. She did, however, watch out of the corner of her eye as Buh struggled to pull the gingerbread house out of the fridge. She contemplated helping him, licking the chocolatey goop from her hand, but startled at a loud garbling noise at the door.

Gaia and the Elves froze, turning to look at the door. The two kitchen Yetis gaped at the intruders, and the Elves and their cohort stared back. Hum dropped the jumbo-cookie he had in his arms, and the moment it hit the floor and shattered, all hell broke loose…

~s~S~s~

"Ugh, this is ridiculous…!" Tooth rasped, slamming a linen trunk shut and plopping down on it with an exhausted sigh.

Over by a Christmas tree, Baby-Tooth lay sprawled over a decorative cookie tin and warbled in agreement. How could a baby evade them so easily? The entire Workshop was full of Elves and Yetis, all of whom were looking for Gaia at North's behest. Yet not a single one had come to find her and tell her the little girl was found.

Come to think of it, Tooth hadn't heard from either North or Bunny in almost two hours. She was starting to get worried.

She sighed, standing and brushing her feathers flat. "Maybe we should find the others and regroup…"

Baby-Tooth chirped wearily, pushing herself up to kick her tired wings into gear and join her queen. But both she and Tooth startled, their crests flaring when a loud crash and a distinctly Yetish curse was heard a small distance away. Both blinked, looking to one another in surprise.

"Did you just hear that…?" Tooth inquired uncertainly.

Baby-Tooth nodded dazedly. Another crash was heard, and both pinpointed it to the kitchen. Suddenly reenergized, Tooth and her fairy bolted for the kitchen in a flurry. The noises, curses and yelps grew louder, followed by crashing cookware, breaking glass, and what sounded like…

"Gaia?!" Tooth called, shoving the kitchen doors open in a panic.

Her panic only increased when she took in the scene before her…

Two kitchen Yetis were trying, and rather spectacularly failing, to catch three mischievous Elves that had infiltrated the kitchen and were creating quite a raging mess. One Elf was valiantly, and loudly, swinging from the cookware rack above the center island, brandishing a spatula and wearing a small pot on its head. An unusually nimble Elf was giving the other kitchen Yeti a run for its money as it chased the cackling Elf over the counters and over appliances. Said Elf nearly threw the Yeti off its tail by throwing gobs of what looked to be cookie dough at the Yeti's feet and nearly tripping it up. The third Elf was, to Tooth's eternal shock and disbelief, seemingly reenacting Mad Max with nothing but a remote-control car towing a small wagon full of sweets. The kitchen was a right mess, food and sweets spilled all over the floor and plastered to the walls. A large mixing bowl lay broke and spilling what Tooth hoped was pudding on the floor. And just near the broken bowl was the remains of a decimated gingerbread house spilling out of the open fridge.

'What in the name of Manny…?!' Tooth thought dazedly.

Baby-Tooth was just as stunned. But from her slightly higher vantage point, her heterochromatic eyes caught movement atop the high cabinets circling the entire kitchen. She blinked, looking up at the green and brown blur she had seen. Her tiny face blanched of color, and she cried out to her queen and pointed up at the baby crawling atop the ten-foot-high cabinets.

Tooth looked up, and immediately felt her heart simultaneously leap into her throat and drop through her feet.

"GAIA?!" she screeched in worry.

The named baby paused and looked down. Her dark brows scrunched into a scowl as she took in the baffled fairy woman. Uh oh, the jig was up – again!

'Must escape!' she thought.

And like a pint-sized rocket, Gaia was off and crawling at full speed down the top of the cabinets to reach one of her companions so they could escape.

"Gaia!" Toot scolded, bolting up to reach the little girl. She yelped though when a pan was thrown at her, and she looked up to find the Elf hanging from the cookware rack scowling at her and armed with more projectiles. Below the Elf, the Yeti who had been trying to grab it was now franticly trying to escape the remote-control car now armed with a cheese-grater…

"What is going on in here?!" Tooth screeched – no sooner yelping and ducking when a frying pan was thrown her way.

The second Yeti trying to wrangle the counter-hopping Elf could only bark a garbled and confused reply. They had just gotten back from lunch and found their kitchen being raided by three Elf terrors and a baby!

Tooth was stunned, if not completely taken aback by this sudden turn of events. Her feathers suddenly flared, and her brows creased into a scowl. Said scowl was aimed at the monkey-like Elf in the cookware rack. It cackled and threw another pan at Tooth. But it suddenly blanched when, instead of ducking out of the way, the fairy queen shot a hand out and grabbed the heavy pan by its handle. The glare she levelled the Elf could have melted the frying pan.

And with a battle-cry worthy of a bat out of hell, Tooth charged into the fray, frying pan blazing…

~s~S~s~

Meanwhile, a certain Russian could be found stomping his way down the halls of his Workshop with a couple of his Yetis on his tail. Said Yetis were armed to the teeth with military-grade caviar vests, helmets, catch poles, and one held what appeared to be a net-gun. Both were looking a little conflicted, their gazes landing on anything else but their livid and frantic boss. North, carrying one of his sabers, kept muttering about 'naughty little girls' and something about asking the doll-making Yetis to fashion some kind of a beard-wig…

'Little Gaia is on naughty list FOREVER…!' he thought, peering into yet another empty room. So far, his search for the little girl was proving futile. And when confronted with yet another clock, he felt his confidence drop just a bit more as the inevitable became more and more apparent.

Pitch would be back within an hour – less if he was feeling antsy, which he likely was. They had promised to take care of Gaia, and yet they somehow managed to lose her not even five minutes after Pitch leaves!

'Is not too late to retire…' North thought weakly. 'Is not too late to pack up and move to Moon Temple in Himalayas…'

"Help!"

North and his Yetis paused, blinking dumbly at the strained call for help. They only registered the voice when it called for help again. Recognizing it, North bolted down the hall and took a purposeful turn into a small lobby. Stomping to the large set of double doors labeled 'wrapping room', he threw them open and stepped inside.

"Bunny?!" he called.

He reeled back, the Yetis behind him barking in shock and dismay at the mess they were confronted with. Wrapping paper was strewn everywhere, and one of the wrapping machines – which was to remain shut down till March – was still spewing wads of paper and fully wrapped but empty boxes.

"North?!" The trio startled as a pile of wrapping paper and empty gifts moved. A pair of familiar grey ears poked out of the pile, rotating to catch where they were.

"Bunny?!" North rasped. He quickly barked at his Yetis to turn the wrapping machine off before he waded through the papery mess and towards the buried Pooka. He quickly pushed away the mounds of paper and empty gifts, finding his friend tightly bound in candy-cane themed wrapping paper.

"What happened?!" North barked as the machine was finally turned off.

"What do you think happened?!" Bunny snapped, wriggling like an overturned caterpillar. "That little beast happened!"

North blinked dumbly. "Gaia did this?" he asked.

"Yes! I found the little brat in here after-!" Bunny paused, blinking up at North. "Did you shave?"

North felt his face flush red, and he resisted the urge to touch his once proud beard. It was mangled and lost more than half its former length, and a few of the ends were burnt and curled from his chainsaw's heat…

"Never mind!" North bellowed. He reached down and yanked Bunny up onto his bound feet. He cut the paper down the middle from Bunny's chin down to his feet with his sword, freeing the Pooka from his confines.

Bunny groaned in relief, rolling his shoulders and stretching his back. "Oh crikey, thank you…!"

"Where is Gaia?" North asked, "When did this happen?"

"I don't know where the brat is!" Bunny snapped, shaking his foot out to get the blood flow back in it. "I've been trapped in here for over an hour! I don't even know what time it is anymore!"

So Bunny saw Gaia before North did, the Russian thought. That means he has been in here since they split up – nearly three hours ago. North cursed internally, turning to his Yetis.

"Find Gaia! Get all Yetis out on patrol!" he ordered heatedly, "And find Toothy as well. She could be hurt or in situation like this!"

His Yetis were about to bark an affirmative, but both paused as the walkie-talkies on their vests crackled to life. They paused, listening to the message from one of their Yeti colleagues, and barked to North urgently.

"The kitchens?" North asked. The Yetis nodded.

"What about the kitchens? This is not the time for a snack!" Bunny snapped. North ignored the Pooka and marched out of the wrapping room towards the Globe Room.

"Yetis report disturbance in kitchens," North said as the others trailed behind him. "It might be Gaia. They also report she has recruited help from The Scrooges*."

"Wha- the what?" Bunny asked.

"Band of three Elves who enjoy making Christmas difficult. They are naughty," North said darkly.

Bunny decided not to comment, despite how many jabs he could make at both the irony and the sheer stupidity of it all.

"And Tooth?" he asked as they entered the Globe Room's lounge area.

"Yetis think they heard her and little fairy in kitchen where disturbance is," North said, his face darkening. "When I get hands on naughty girl, I will-"

"You will what?"

All four froze in their tracks, hackles rising and hearts plummeting to their feet. Slowly, all four heads turned to the lounge area. One of the windows was being closed by a worried looking Sandman, and Jack was looking at the four of them with wide, stunned eyes. But it was the tall, lean shadow standing with arms crossed and face set in a hellish scowl that had the Guardians and Yetis shrinking in on themselves.

It was the firelight behind Pitch, they told themselves. It was just the firelight; Pitch did not actually look like he had Hell itself behind him, it was just the firelight…

The four hairy (and one not-as-hairy) men swallowed thickly, sweat collecting along their necks.

Daddy was back…

~s~S~s~

Tooth yelped as she veered around a flying – and somehow running, how in Manny's name was it running?! – blender thrown her way. The two kitchen Yetis had long since abandoned the fight, supposedly to get help. She certainly hoped they were getting help, because despite the fact that her opponents weren't even two feet tall, she was having serious trouble defeating them.

Baby-Tooth was down – or rather, she had been downed by a flying ball of cookie dough, and was now plastered to the ceiling. One Elf was manning some sort of contraption it had fashioned with a high-power egg-beater, a rolling pin, a salad bowl, and somewhere in there it worked in an electric drill. Whatever it was, it was launching eggs and other food-products at Tooth faster than what should be possible. Another was helping load said contraption with projectiles, and the third was, for the moment, missing.

"You little-!" Tooth snarled, swinging her beaten and bent frying pan at the oncoming egg. "You stop that right now or I'm going to-AH!"

Tooth yelped and had the wind knocked out of her as a large flour sack was shoved off of the top cabinet she had been hovering by, and slammed brutally to the floor in a cloud of powdery white. Coughing, Tooth groaned as she weakly pushed herself up, her chest aching from the impact. She no sooner scowled hell and brimstone up at the giggling Elf who had shoved the flour sack on her and had turned her beautiful, iridescent feathers white.

"You…!" she snarled, teeth audibly grinding and fury rising. The Elves suddenly looked cowed as the fairy woman rose, feathers bristling like porcupine quills and frying pan handle bending under her death grip. "I am going to nail you to the counter and remove your eyes, teeth and tongue with a rusty…!"

Tooth's face turned red, and unable to finish her own threat, screeched like a harpy and rocketed at the Elf on the cabinet. It screamed in horror as she grabbed it by its hat-suit and lobbed it across the kitchen and nailed the two stupefied Elves and their contraption. Snarling, Tooth raced for the dazed and terrified imps. One yelped and grabbed a fork for defense, but the fairy queen snatched it up along with its fork and shoved it headfirst into the nearest toaster. Said toaster exploded in a frenzy of sparks and electricity as the fork-armed Elf was shoved inside and turned into toast itself.

Another Elf screamed in terror as Tooth grabbed it and, with a furious arm swing, slammed it like a ragdoll against the oven, knocking one of its knobs off and turning the burner on. She wasted no time in throwing it into the freezer afterwards.

And then there was one…

Tooth slowly and menacingly turned to look at the terrified, trembling Elf. It swallowed audibly, face pale and knees knocking. Tooth's crest flickered in warning. The Elf, eyeing the swinging doors of the kitchen just a few feet away from it, suddenly found courage and bolted. Tooth smirked. Her hands shot for the knife-block on the counter beside her, and with a practiced ease, she threw the knives at the fleeing Elf.

It was only a couple inches from the door before the knives hooked precisely into its hat-suit and pinned it to the wall. It hung there a few inches from the floor, shaking, eyes wide; unhurt, but certainly traumatized. A wet stain formed in the front of its suit.

Panting through her teeth, Tooth smirked in victory, arms falling to her sides in exhaustion. The kitchen was entirely quiet now aside from some still weakly running appliances. The Elf in the toaster was still sparking and smoking.

Tooth sighed in relief, her body aching and bruised from her spill on the floor.

"Manny's teeth…" she rasped.

She paused however when Baby-Tooth, still plastered to the ceiling, chirped shrilly and urgently at her queen.

"What?" Tooth asked, looking up at her Mini-Fairy. Baby-Tooth chirred and pointed her beak to the higher cabinet near the stove. Tooth looked over and felt her feathers rise.

Gaia, her battalion defeated, looked like the caught mouse in the trap. She swallowed as Tooth levelled a furious glare at the baby girl.

"You…" Tooth gritted out, wings kicking into gear to take her up and grab the naughty girl. "Are in so much trouble…"

Gaia yelped and made to crawl away on top of the smoke-stack of the oven. But she did not count on how much damage the kitchen had taken, or how weak the support was. The moment she crawled onto the steel platform, it buckled and tilted, dumping her over to one side with a shriek.

Tooth felt her heart drop into her stomach. Gaia was falling. A fall onto the stove could break fragile bones or worse. She suddenly took note of the stovetop and felt something akin to an internal scream loose in her chest when she caught sight of the lit burner on full heat.

And Gaia was falling right above it.

"GAIA!" Tooth was moving before the little girl's name could leave her mouth in a frantic scream of terror.

It felt like everything was moving in slow motion, but Tooth would later never recall a time she moved so fast in her life. Her wings screamed in protest as they were pushed to an extreme she did not know existed. Her arms shot out as the fiery maw opened up for Gaia. Tooth did not even register the burning blue flames against her forearms, nor the sudden bite of the fire as Gaia's weight pushed her arms down to make contact against the burner's iron coil.

She only had the sense of mind to catch Gaia and then immediately pulled her back and against her chest away from the burner. Her little body was tense, locked up in shock and fear from her fall and the momentary burst of heat against her back.

But the moment she was pulled away from the flash of heat, time seemed to catch up to them both in a bursting gasp of adrenaline-fueled relief from Tooth.

The fairy queen trembled, staring at the burner top like it was evil itself incarnate, clutching Gaia to her breast in what must have felt like a death grip to the little girl. Tooth was shaking profusely, completely oblivious to the burnt feathers, raw skin and spots of blood on the backs of her forearms. Instead, once she fully registered that all of Gaia was in her arms and not on the fire, she looked down and loosened her hold just enough to see her.

Gaia blinked, eyes opening from their closed position as she slowly uncurled and relaxed her body. She blinked dazedly down at herself, now realizing she was no longer falling. A burning smell caught her attention though, causing her nose to screw up and her eyes to water. She was safe; dazed but unhurt.

Tooth felt tears of relief and leftover terror sting her eyes. Trembling, she made the girl look up at her as she spoke.

"Are you okay?!" she rasped, looking Gaia over – lifting her little arms, turning her this way and that, checking her feet, legs and hair. "Are you hurt anywhere, Gaia?! What were you thinking?! How did you get up there?! Don't ever do that again, young lady! Do you understand me?! Do not ever endanger yourself like that ever again!"

Tooth sobbed, hugging Gaia tightly to her breast. Her feet touched the floor for only a second before she collapsed and folded onto he knees on the kitchen floor. Gaia blinked, stunned and briefly confused. She managed to get a brief look up at the cabinet she had been on top of, as well as the broken and tilted stack. Then she saw the lit burner. And as young as she was, she somehow knew fire was bad. Fire hurt and scarred and brought pain. And she somehow knew she would have landed right in it if she had not been caught by her babysitter.

The smell of burnt feathers and damaged skin caught her attention, and the baby girl felt horror and tears burn behind her eyes as she caught the tiniest glimpse of the damage to Tooth's arms.

That could have been her. Those burns could have been on not just her arms, but her entire body. That could have been her, bleeding and burnt, her papa helpless and likely oblivious to her injury…

Gaia started shaking, vision blurring. She could have been really hurt, and the bird-lady saved her and got hurt…

She didn't even have time to sniffle or even think to stop her tears. Gaia simply opened her mouth and cried, arms shakily coming up to wrap around the bird-lady – Tooth's – neck. She sobbed and wailed for the fairy queen, her infantile brain unable to express how sorry and scared she was. She only knew her babysitter was hurt, and it was somehow her fault.

Tooth sobbed along with the baby girl, but managed to get her own frantic emotions under control. She sniffled and forced herself to calm down for the baby girl in her arms – as scared as she had been, it was over now, and Gaia was safe. She had to calm down, find the others, and fix this whole mess before Pitch got back. She couldn't sit here and cry all night.

'Ow…!' she thought as the adrenaline left her and her arms started to register severe pain. She suddenly knew she had been burnt badly, but called up her warrior queen persona and had the pain shoved to the back of her mind.

Taking a deep breath though her nose, she held her arms as still and secure as possible around Gaia and regarded the sobbing girl.

"Gaia, sweetie…" She quickly cleared her throat so she didn't sound so broken. "Honey, look at me. Look at Toothy, sweetie…"

Gaia whimpered, face red and eyes puffy, but she made herself look at Tooth. The fairy queen smiled weakly, relief overriding her pain and all leftover panic.

"I need you to be a brave girl for me now, okay?" Tooth asked, "I need you to be a good girl for me so we can get you back to Pitch and sort all this out. Can you promise me not to run away now?"

Gaia sniffled, not fully understanding in her emotional state. But she somehow knew Tooth was asking her to be good and to comply with her. She nodded, little hands clutching at the feathers of Tooth's collar. She leaned down and buried her face in the soft feathers, tired and wanting to hide.

Tooth's smile widened slightly, a tiny bubble of bemusement percolating in her chest. Taking a deep breath again, she pushed herself to her feet, wincing at the stinging pull of her burnt arms. She regarded Baby-Tooth, who was looking at her queen worriedly.

"Baby-Tooth, I need to-"

The fairy queen startled when the kitchen doors flew open and the kitchen Yetis from before, plus Phil barged in. All three were armed with pool nets and…was that a tranquilizer gun?

Tooth blinked dumbly along with the Yetis, before Phil broke the staring contest with a demand to know what had happened. Tooth groaned.

"It's under control now…" she sighed, "Sort of…"

Phil barked and garbled a response, and Tooth's hackles rose.

"What?!" Tooth rasped, "He's back?! Already?!"

Phil grumbled an affirmative.

Tooth internally cursed. Manny damn it, Pitch was back, and both she, Gaia and no doubt half the Workshop was a mess right now. Not to mention her arms – Pitch was going to ask about the burns, if for no other reason than because Gaia may be injured as well.

'Not the time to panic!' she thought, reining in her resolve.

"Okay, okay…" She looked at the Yetis. "I need to care of Gaia and get her cleaned up. Phil, does North have any burn salve?"

The Yeti nodded, eyes wide as he just then seemed to take note of the fairy's burns.

"Okay, good. I need you to bring that to the bathroom next to Gaia's nursery," she said, then added as an afterthought, "And a sweater. And a change of clothes for Gaia. The rest of you try to clean up here as much as you can. If we can get away with her clean and uninjured, Pitch might not kill us, understand?"

The Yetis nodded in agreement, though the kitchen Yetis looked anything but enthusiastic. Tooth could not blame them.

"Okay, let's move!" she said, flitting for the door. She paused and looked back at Baby-Tooth, then the Yetis. "Please get Baby-Tooth down first…"

Baby-Tooth whistled in exasperation. Tossing one last apology to her fairy and the Yetis, Tooth flitted out to get Gaia cleaned up and her injuries tended to.

~s~S~s~

"Where is Gaia?" Pitch growled.

"Ahh…" North swallowed thickly, he, Bunny and his Yetis shuffling from foot to foot nervously. By the gods, what were they going to say?!

Behind the impatient Pitch, Jack and Sandy looked on in worry. They had taken note of the armed Yetis and the rather frazzled – and shaved – state of North and Bunny. Bunny also appeared to have a sticker-bow on his butt, and at any other time, Jack would have been laughing hysterically at him and the haphazardly shaved North. But he did not see Gaia or Tooth, and the other Guardians were nervous as hell. Jack and Sandy looked at one another nervously.

"Little girl is…" North cleared his throat, struggling to find words. "Ah…"

"Yes?" Pitch growled, hackles rising.

'Shit…' Jack thought. Something happened, he just knew it.

A tug at his pants caught his attention, and Jack looked down at Sandy, who was discreetly pointing to the door leading out to the dining and kitchen area. Jack looked up and felt relief settle over him. Tooth waved meekly at them, Gaia held tightly in her arms – which, from their distance, did not look right, but they could not make out what the dark coloring on her arms were.

Jack mouthed to her, "What happened?"

Tooth waved her hand in a 'later' motion, before gesturing to Pitch. He was standing at a vantage point relative to the door where he would see her if she flew past. She needed him to turn around if she wanted to get through the door, into the Globe Room, and to the door leading to the hall to Gaia's room. Jack and Sandy nodded.

Sandy waved to get North and Bunny's attention, forming various sand images over his head.

"Uh…" North's eyes flickered between Sandy and the looming Boogeyman. "Gaia is…Toothy is…"

Sandy formed a bathtub and an image of Tooth.

"Ah! Toothy is in shower!" North crowed. Jack and Sandy smacked their foreheads.

"I don't care where the bird is, I want to know where Gaia is," Pitch snarled.

North was starting to sweat, and Sandy changed his image to include a wrapped baby.

"Oh! Oh, uh, yes! What I meant to say was, Toothy is bathing Gaia now! Haha…" North swallowed thickly.

Pitch's eyes narrowed, and he loomed over Bunny and North suspiciously. Jack and Sandy were looking to him and Tooth frantically. Pitch was focusing too much on North and Bunny, Tooth would never get past him.

Jack groaned, shoulders slumping. Tooth owed him after this…

"Why are you two acting so-GAH!" Pitch reeled back, hands going to the back of his head. He snarled, veering around to glare at Jack, snow falling from his hair.

"What?!" he snapped.

Jack shrugged. "You had something in your hair…"

While Pitch's back was turned, Tooth rushed out of the door, past the Globe Room – shooting the stunned North and Bunny a meek smile – and vanished down the next hall on foot so as not to make any noise.

'Sorry guys…!' She made a mental note to do something nice for the boys if they survived Pitch's wrath. But now she had to get to the bathroom, quickly bathe Gaia, clean and dress her wounds…

Gaia whimpered in her arms, having seen Pitch and thankfully making no sounds. But she obviously missed him and wanted to see him, and looked on the verge of tears again.

"No, no, no! It's okay! We're just going to get you all clean first, then you can see Pitch, okay? Don't you want to be clean for him?" Tooth asked, nudging the bathroom door open with her hip.

Gaia whined, but conceded. She was tired, miserable and confused right now. Maybe a bath would help. And while she was being soaped up in the sink, a knock was heard at the door, followed by a Yeti grumble.

Tooth answered the door, relieved to find Phil there with bandages, burn salve, a clean night gown and booties for Gaia, and a sweater.

"Thank you so much, Phil!" she said, taking the items and shutting the door on the stunned Yeti. She quickly applied the burn salve, sighing in relief at the cooling sensation it brought, bandaged her arms, and unfolded the sweater.

"Really?" she groaned. Of course, what else could she expect from a Christmas Workshop but an ugly Christmas sweater?

'Oh whatever!' she thought. She quickly bathed and dried Gaia, dressing her in the new clothes Phil brought. Gaia put up very little fuss, seemingly too tired to do much anything but warble and let the fairy queen dress her.

"Yes! All done!" Tooth said in victory. She quickly threw on the sweater – it was oversized and hung over one shoulder and past her hands, but it would work – and picked Gaia up in her arms.

"Okay, let's go see Pitch, huh?" she said, turning and opening the door. Gaia gave a happy squeal, and Tooth felt her face blanch.

Pitch, arms crossed and looking like he was holding back every ounce of hell itself, scowled down at the fairy woman. The other Guardians and Yetis were huddled behind him warily.

Tooth blinked. "Uh…"

Pitch was not impressed, but looked down at the tiredly wiggling Gaia in Tooth's arms. His expression visibly softened, and everyone hoped he calmed down when he saw she was uninjured and clean. He seemed to inspect the baby girl in Tooth's oversized-sweater clad arms, before his shoulders relaxed and he held his hands out.

"Give her here," he said.

Tooth swallowed, apprehensive at first, and still riding a wave of protectiveness from the kitchen incident. Nevertheless, she relented and held Gaia out for Pitch to take. The Boogeyman gently scooped her up and brought her to his chest, where she happily babbled away and tugged at his cloak.

The last bit of tension in his body finally seemed to melt away, and the ominous cloud hanging over them all vanished.

"When did she last eat?" he asked.

"Uh, oh, I was going to feed her after I bathed her," Tooth said.

Pitch's eyes narrowed, but he did not question the vague dodge to his question. Gaia was happy, clean and did not seem distressed. She was tired, obviously, and may not have taken her nap out of stubbornness. He could let that slide, he supposed…

"Fine then," he said, turning to the other Guardians. He quirked a brow, seemingly just noticing their frazzled states.

"Love the new look, North," he deadpanned, eyes sliding over to Bunny. "And as charming as it looks, I do not believe that bow belongs on your behind, Pooka."

Both Guardians flushed, Bunny not-so-discreetly reaching down to tear the bow off his butt and crumple it up in his fist. Pitch regarded Tooth then, causing her crest to rise.

He looked her up and down, expression deadpan. "Why on earth are you wearing that garish thing?"

Tooth bit her lip, trying not to look down at the bright red, cotton ball-snow spattered, reindeer face felted monstrosity on her body.

"I was cold…" she said.

Pitch rolled his eyes. "Weirdos…" he muttered, silently dismissing them all as he finally marched down the hall to get Gaia's dinner – or was it breakfast?

The others slumped in relief. Bunny and North slid to the floor, while Jack leaned over his staff and Sandy thumped the back of his head against the hallway wall. The Yetis all deflated and Tooth could only slump in relief.

"Toothiana…"

They all straightened again, heads veering to look up at the Boogeyman who had paused in the hallway. Tooth blinked, face flushing as eclipse eyes regarded her.

"…you did well," he suddenly said.

Tooth blinked. "Huh?" she said dumbly. Pitch rolled his eyes.

"You bathed her and held her, and yet Gaia did not seem distressed or like she had been crying," he said in exasperation. And deciding no further explanation was in order, he left.

The others blinked, mentally counting down the years they shaved off of their life expectancies during the night. Bunny groaned, putting his face in his paws.

"I need a drink. I need ten strong drinks…" he rasped.

North mumbled an agreement, touching his beloved, mutilated beard. Tooth seemed like she was still too stunned by Pitch's parting words to really register anything else. The relief was palpable though, and the Guardians silently resolved to get the messes cleaned up as quickly and quietly as possible, and then sleep for a year.

"What the hell happened to the kitchen?!" Came Pitch's voice from the kitchen.

Or, they thought, they could all jump out the nearest window and hope the fall kills them quickly…

To be continued…

~s~s~S~s~s~

A/N~ YES! Hah! I got it done! It's a whole day late, as I was going to post this on the 1st of the New Year, but I was not feeling well at all yesterday and took a break. But it's UPDATED! And I think this is the longest chapter I've done for this story? I can't remember; I only read chapter 11 to see where I left off. Shrug.

Anyways, please enjoy, and Happy belated New Years to everyone!

1.) Hahah! Get it? 'Bah', 'Hum', and 'Bug'? I'm so original…

2.) Yes, Bug, Hum and Bah earned themselves a sort of gang name. You can't make this stuff up.

~S~