Bo knew she should be excited as she emerged from the box of packing peanuts with the others. They had finally arrived at the new house and, best of all, Woody and Buzz had returned. Both were safe, unharmed.
She glanced around. The room was big, larger than Andy's previous one but cluttered with boxes. A twinge of melancholy touched her as she realized that Molly would now have her own room and she, Bo, would be moved in there. Perhaps that's for the best, she thought, her sadness deepening into depression. She and the others had wronged Woody, accusing him of killing Buzz. How could they possibly face him?
Bo glanced at her companions who looked just as miserable as she felt. They huddled in a tight group, most of them shifting uncomfortably. Hamm was fidgeting so much that the coins in his belly made an awful racket. On a different occasion, she would have found this funny.
"Hey, guys," Woody exclaimed in his usual cheerful tone. "We finally made it. We're here. What do you think?"
Bo always felt happy hearing the sound of his voice but, at this moment, it just made her feel even worse. How could he be so nice to them after what they'd done? She leaned against her staff and stared at the hardwood floor.
"What's going on, guys?" Woody continued, sounding concerned. "Why the long faces?"
"Woody…" Rex squeaked. "We—ah—we…Oh, this is so hard!"
"What Lizard Brain is trying to say is…" Mr. Potato Head's voice faded. "We were a bit…err…"
"Woody, we're awful sorry for thinking you killed Buzz and for throwing you out of the van," said Slinky. "Can you forgive us?" Bo sighed, momentarily relieved. Thank goodness Slinky was able to say what she was sure they were all thinking! Still, she knew she had to face up to Woody on her own. It was partially her fault that he'd been so jealous of Buzz in the first place.
"Hey, it's okay." Woody's kindly voice filled her with warmth. That was one thing she loved about him, his ability to instantly see the good in everyone, no matter what they'd done. I hardly deserve him, she thought, shrinking back and gripping her staff tighter. She bumped against her sheep who bleated softly. She patted their heads. They always comforted her when she needed it but now was different. She had to approach Woody, get him alone. But, at the moment, he was surrounded by everyone. "Don't forget, you tried to save us there at the end. Besides, I really acted like a jerk toward Buzz. I admit I was jealous of all the attention you were giving him and, while I didn't want him hurt, I just wanted him out of the way for a while. But we're okay now." He looked at Buzz who gave him a thumbs-up.
"Then we're all friends again?" asked Rex in an eager voice.
"Of course. We're a family, aren't we? And getting a fresh start in this new house."
"The Sheriff's right," said Buzz, stepping closer to Woody. "We have new headquarters now so let's put all the bad stuff behind us." He placed a plastic gloved hand on Woody's.
"Here, here," said Slinky, adding his paw, followed by Rex, Potato Head, and Hamm.
Bo moved closer as the other toys cheered and applauded. She resisted the urge to pull Woody toward her with her crook. This wasn't the time for that. She had wronged him even worse than the others. Her face burned with shame as she remembered how impressed she'd been by Buzz's gadgets, a feeling that increased after she'd seen him fly. Her words, "I found my moving buddy," which she'd blurted without thought, now played through her mind in a disturbing echo, followed by the brief, hurt look Woody had given her. Hadn't she promised Woody that she'd be his moving buddy?
The toys were scattering around the room. Bo swallowed and willed herself to be strong as she approached the cowboy. Now was her chance to talk to him alone, ask him to forgive her. Would he? Usually she was the confident one. But now her insides tingled with nerves. She twisted her staff around in her hands.
"Woody." Her voice came out tiny and unsteady. Her sheep bleated and nudged her from behind. They had an uncanny ability to know what she was thinking and feeling. Her face burned even hotter as Woody turned toward her and smiled. She looked down, unable to meet his warm eyes. "I really need to talk to you. In private." She grabbed his arm and pulled him further from the others, toward the window. Sunlight spilled through it but Bo felt cold.
"Don't you like our new home?" Woody asked in a concerned tone. "I know Molly's getting her own room but I'll be just across the hall. We'll see each other at playtime and when Andy is out. Nothing can keep—"
"It's not that." Bo swallowed and forced herself to look at him. His round, brown eyes were gentle. "I just wanted to tell you that I'm so sorry. I—"
"Bo, you don't need to apologize." Woody smiled and clutched her hand. It felt large compared to hers, comforting. "You tried to defend me from the others, remember?"
Bo's guilt deepened. I also doubted you, she thought but couldn't release those words. The shock of seeing Woody holding Buzz's severed arm at Sid's window had sickened her. How could he have done such a thing? She thought she knew him. She had spent the rest of that miserable day huddled at the base of her lamp, tightly holding her sheep and struggling to make sense of this. A part of her suspected Woody was innocent, that he would never have intentionally hurt Buzz, that it had all been a terrible accident, as he'd claimed. But she still couldn't bring herself to convince the others.
And if I hadn't flirted with Buzz, then perhaps none of that would have happened… That thought burned. "Woody, it's not just that," she said, struggling to release those words. She looked down again. "I know you would never have purposely hurt Buzz but I feel responsible for what had happened."
"What on Earth are you talking about?" Woody said in a confused tone. "You knew I was jealous of Buzz at first because—"
"Partly because of me, I'm sure." She swallowed hard and forced herself to look directly at Woody. His expression was puzzled but kind, giving her the confidence to continue. "I acted badly when I first saw him. I know my flirting must have upset you. I don't really know why I did it. It was stupid. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I'm sorry."
A gentle grin spread across Woody's face. "Bo, forget about it. I have." His fingers gently brushed against her cheek. Warmth mixed with relief filled Bo. "Besides, you had every right to be impressed by Buzz. Heck, I even was but I was too petty to admit it."
Bo smiled, felt her confidence return. She looped her crook around Woody's neck. "I'm yours alone from now on, Sheriff," she said with a lilt in her voice as she pulled him close. She had an urge to kiss him. "That's a promise. Now why don't we—"
"Andy, if you unpack your things we'll go to Pizza Planet for dinner," called Andy's mom from downstairs.
"Pizza Planet twice in one week?" Andy shouted as he clattered up the stairs. "All right!"
Disappointment filled Bo as she and Woody sprung apart. Why were they so often interrupted?
"Back to your boxes, everyone!" Buzz shouted as the toys scurried about.
Bo grabbed her sheep and scrambled into her box. Things were going to be different here, that was certain. Still, she was determined to visit her friends in Andy's room as much as possible. And hopefully she and Woody would be able to find some alone time in this new house.
Author's Note: This is a retelling of my fic "New Home," this time told through Bo's POV. I hope you enjoyed it! –D. M. Robb