1: August 1996
Woody smiled to himself as he stood atop the desk, quietly taking everything in. Two days ago, he was sure he was never coming back. Last night, he feared it as he lay in the bottom of the green suitcase on his way to a future behind glass. Arguing with Prospector had done no good; the shouting and the darkness had sent Jessie into a panic attack, curled up with her face buried in Bullseye's side. But now they were home and everything was normal again. Well almost.
Nearby Jessie was clicking the TV remote. "There are so many channels now," she said. "How do ya keep track?"
Woody stuck his fingers in his belt loops as he joined her. "There's a guide channel." He pressed the button with the toe of his boot. "Channel 6."
She stared at the scrolling blue bars. "See? You've got so many channels you even got a channel for your channels."
"Well we don't get everything listed on here. Mom won't pay for some of the movie channels, and there's also the pay-per-view stuff…"
Jessie continued to stare. "I'm never gonna catch up."
Woody raised his eyebrows. "How do you mean?"
She turned. "I was in a box for ten years. Maybe this stuff is all old hat to you, but for me, 1986 might as well been yesterday! I don't know nothin' about guide channels or computers or why Seinfeld is funny…"
"The guy or the sitcom?"
Jessie paused. "You're kiddin.' They gave him a sitcom?" Woody just shrugged. She yanked on her hat in frustration. "You see? You see? I'm an absolute know-nuthin'!"
Woody held up his hands. "Calm down! I'll help you out!"
Jessie stared at him wide eyed, her hat brim still covering her ears. "You will?"
"Of course! We are friends aren't we?"
Slowly, Jessie released her grip on her hat. "Yeah…'Course we are." She smiled, her tense posture relaxing. "Huh. It's kinda funny once you think about it. Two days ago we were tusslin' and yellin' at each other and now we're goin' be family."
Woody suddenly looked uncomfortable. "Yeah…I guess I never apologized for blaming you for the TV thing."
"And I guess I never apologized for kickin' your butt."
He frowned. "You didn't really…"
Jessie grinned. "Yeah I did." Then her smile disappeared. "But I shouldn't have. So…I'm sorry."
"And I'm sorry too."
"Next time I kick your butt I'll make sure you really deserve it! Deal?"
Woody chuckled. "Deal." Laughing, Jessie punched him in the shoulder.
Across the room, Andy's toys were gathered around the Monopoly Junior board game. "'Loose change,'" said Buzz as he moved his blue car to the corner.
There was a loud collective groan. "Not again!"
"That's the third time you've landed there!"
"Sorry, Gang." As Buzz gathered the paper money from the square, tapping it into a neat pile in his hands, Jessie's laughter echoed across the bedroom.
On the desk, she could be seen standing with Woody. Neither of their voices could be heard but they were smiling and talking. A small smile played across Buzz's plastic face. "It's nice to see Miss Jessie so happy."
"What's with the 'Miss?'" said Potato Head as he grabbed the dice.
"I'm just being polite."
The Spud threw the dice across the board. "One, two, three, four, five…Aw, great! I gotta go to the Restroom!"
Hamm grinned and poked him. "That's three dollars for the tram please! Give the banker bank his bank!"
There was another explosive giggle from the desktop. Now the others were twisting around to look. Woody was smiling and nodding as Jessie prattled on about something excitedly, bouncing in place as she spoke.
Potato clucked in disgust. "Would ya look at those two?"
Buzz looked at him perplexed. "What?"
"Talking," said Hamm as he moved his red car.
"And laughing," added Mrs. Potato Head.
"And smiling," said her husband. "It's enough to make ya sick."
"Huh," Rex looked confused. "I think it's nice that Woody and Jessie are getting along. What's wrong with it?"
"He's got a girlfriend!" Hamm and both Potato Heads shouted. Rex looked shocked.
The Toys paused to take another look. Woody was apparently showing Jessie how to work something on the TV remote now and she was listening eagerly, though occasionally chiming in with her own comments.
Buzz frowned. "I don't understand. What does Woody having a girlfriend have to do with anything?"
Potato Head gave him an exasperated look. "Don't you get it? Boy…Girl…"
"I'd say 'Man and Woman' but go on…"
"Cowboy," Hamm added. "Cowgirl. Same toy line. Now they're up there being all palsy…"
Buzz stared blankly. "So? We're all friends here."
Potato Head chortled. "Come back down to Earth, Spaceman. Guys and girls can't be just friends."
"Why not?" asked Rex.
"They just can't. It gets too complicated. They start to like each other and before you know it…"
Slinky Dog growled down deep in his chest. "Yer outta line, Potato Head. Woody would never betray Miss Bo."
"Oh no?" Potato Head said. "Just wait and see. Mark my words, things will get messy tooty sweet."
"You mean Toute De Suite."