Woody, for once, was at a total loss for words as he followed Bo down a dusty hallway . She knew about Bonnie's room, about Andy going to college, what else could he say? He usually had no problem talking about himself, but it felt wrong now. He wanted to know about her, how she was, but at the same time he was afraid. Of what? He couldn't be sure. Was she better off now? Was she miserable? Neither answer would calm him. She missed him, yes, but was she happy to see him? Or was him being here a painful reminder of her past? What words could be significant enough to float over all the doubts he carried?
"How are your sheep?" he asked, noticing the signature animals were not with her.
"Oh, they're doing fine, I'm sure," she said with a small chuckle. "They can handle themselves."
"What? Are they lost again?" he teased.
"Stolen," she said, gently but clearly not matching his playful tone.
"Oh," he murmured, embarrassed. "I'm, I'm sorry to hear that."
"Yeah, it's been a rough few weeks," she admitted with a sigh as they entered another hallway, her eyes swept side to side with cautious routine. She seemed on edge but in an odd way she seemed used to it. "But now that you're here, getting them back should be no problem."
"You've got a plan?"
She turned coyly and gave him a soft smile. "You mean you don't?"
"Well I- ha," he chuckled, his heart racing in a familiar way. "I'm sure I could think of something."
"You always do, don't you?" her voice light and sweet again. They were becoming lost in their bubble again and Bo quickly snapped out of it. "Right. Hmm. And uh they don't know you're here. So we have the element of surprise."
"Yeah," he chuckled before he too snapped out of the bubble. "Who took your sheep, anyway?"
"Oh, where are you Bo?" whispered Jessie to herself, her eyes darting between the clock on the wall and her unfamiliar surroundings. She fiddled with her braid as she fought the urge to pace. She couldn't feel at ease. "What was that?" said Jessie for the forth time. She turned quickly but her answer was simply more darkness. "Calm down, Jessie. It's nothing. Just your imagination."
"No it's not!" came a tiny but shrill voice, appearing suddenly beside her.
"Woah!" exclaimed Jessie, nearly falling over. "Sera! What are you doing here?"
"What am I-? Grr!" she balled her tiny hands into tiny fists as she glared a Jessie who couldn't help but think how adorable she looked. "I tell you to stay away, I say this over and over again and yet you still keep showing up! Why does no one listen to me? Not you, not Bo, not your space man..."
"Buzz? Do you know where they're keeping him?"
"I'm not getting involved!" she exclaimed, her whisper high and airy as she sped away. Jessie followed her, assuming it was more of a lead than she had before. The tiny angel, darted in and out of the shadows, flailing her arms as she did. Jessie kept her in her sights, following her path exactly. Them when Sera was sure Jessie was no longer behind her, she opened a bottom drawer of a cabinet and hopped in. Jessie looked closer and saw a hole was carved into the drawers above it with a small rope through, making a secret pathway through the cabinet. Jessie waited a moment before following, certain Sera was heading back to the source.
She climbed the rope up, the walls closing in on her only for a moment as she made her way up. She saw the pathway connected a few cabinets, boxes, and knick knacks stacked on top of each other. She reached the top and found it became a maze-like tunnel. She crawled through, listening for any sign that she was going the right direction, until finally a faint glow signaled she was going the right way. She quickly made her way, eager to leave the dark but when she finally reached the end, she found herself falling to the ground. Not a big fall, but enough to catch her off guard. Before she could get herself up, she felt herself being held up, her arms seized and her legs useless as she was lifted above the ground.
"Hey, what!" she exclaimed, trying to kick herself free.
"Well well well, not one for grace are we?" a sickeningly sick voice chuckled, though the light in Jessie's eyes prevented her from seeing who. "And who are you?"
"None of your business!" spat Jessie, her eyes slowly adjusting. "I'm-."
"She's got a pull string!" Announced Diana and quickly gave it a tug.
Hi there, I'm Jessie! Her voice box rang out, betraying her.
"Jessie the cowgirl," murmured Cordelia. "Is this your little friend, Sera?"
From behind the china doll, the little angel appeared. Her face was drenched in guilt and confusion, but she nodded in confirmation. "Not bad," continued Cordelia, walking closer as her lackeys held the cowgirl. She circled her, taking in each detail of her design. "Hand stitched clothes, quality yarn, and your face is very well crafted," she added, placing her finger beneath Jessie's chin. "Not quite a lady, but not worthless either. Veronica, check her value."
"On it!" Said the doll from the computer, she quickly typed the words into the search bar and began to read what appeared. "'Jessie the yodeling cowgirl original character from the popular 1950's after school television show "Woody's Roundup""
"1950's?" Repeated Cordelia, slightly impressed. "Vintage. Cute. What's her worth?"
"Let's see… she's currently selling for.. woah!" Said Veronica in surprise. "We've got four figures there boss, high four figures."
"Hm, not fragile but still valuable? We may have a use for you dear," said Cordelia. "Play your cards right and you could even have a spot near me."
"What? No!" Yelled Jessie. This assignment of value and being on display was sounding far too familiar. "I'm here for my friend, I'm not here to be displayed and glued to a shelf."
"A friend? You mean that future landfill?" gasped Cordelia in shock when she realized she was talking about Buzz, but it dissolved into a cruel laugh. "You're far too valuable for that. Stay here with us and-."
"Wait for a kid to pick me? No thanks!" Jessie, was able to plant her feet on the ground. "Been there, done that. Besides, we already have a kid."
"Wait… for a child? Heavens no!" She laughed again. "You're second hand, so this may be hard for you to understand, but you're not a toy. Not anymore, at least. You've transcended, something few are able to do. No, we are far better. We are above children and their sticky fingers and juice stains. We are not toys, we are so much better."
"How is any of this better?" Asked Jessie. "Is this really what you want? To sit here collecting dust? Being on display? Never exploring?"
"We are dusted twice a day and kept in a comfortably and controlled climate that extends our warranty and value,"
"Well it's not what I want," said Jessie.
"Fine then, if you need that, that chunk of plastic," she gagged at the word. "to convince you to stay, then I can allow it for the time being. Even for a short while to help you see the error of your ways. I'm sure you'll come around soon enough, and if you don't... well, I've heard his batteries aren't the best. Soon you won;t have much of a choice." She snapped her fingers and the dolls dragged Jessie away. She protested and screamed the best she could but the dolls were too tall for her to find a way out. They threw her to the ground roughly and quickly locked the glass door behind her. She attempted to push the door open, but it was too thick.
"Halt! Who goes there?" came a wonderfully familiar voice behind her.
"Buzz!" she exclaimed as she turned, finding her laser at the ready, though his footing was still off and he was about to tip over.
"Hey! Admiral!" he exclaimed with a smile, dropping her laser and falling into a salute. Literally, falling into it. Jessie ran forward and caught him and lowered him slowly to the ground. "There's no need to worry, Admiral. I've already called Star Command for back up. They'll be sending reinforcements shortly."
"Good to know," she said with a smile, remembering that Bo would be looking for them and together they cold probably think of a solution.
"I can't believe they got you too!" he declared dramatically. "Though, I'm glad to know you're alive."
"Thanks Buzz, you too," she managed to chuckle in spite of herself, relieved to see him again and the dramatic tone of his voice made her feel at ease somehow. "I'm so-."
"Please, let me finish," he whispered, placing a finger to her lips. "I need to say this. I know it may be unprofessional, but in case... this is the end..."
Jessie fought the urge to roll her eyes (in my loving way possible) but allowed him to continue.
"... in case this is the end," he continued. "I can't imagine anyone I'd rather face it with. You're as brave as you are beautiful..."
"Buzz," she blushed, half of her did love the notion and half of her didn't want to embarrass Buzz when he came fully back. "You don't need to..."
"You really don't need to," chimed in a frilly, disgusted voice from outside the glass. Jessie turned and say the leader of the china dolls, staring at them in disdain, her minions at her side sharing the expression. "I'm so sorry, but I don't believe I properly introduced myself. I'm Lady Cordelia."
"I know who you are," said Jessie, getting up and gently letting go of Buzz. "You're bad news. some kind of pretentious, pompous-."
"Such a vulgar tone," scoffed the porcelain doll. "See now being exposed to this… simple way of life and being around these playthings has pained your mind. You clearly don't know your worth, entertaining this pitiful idea of romance? This might be what you think you want but it's certainly not what you need. You'll come around, and if you don't we'll do what we did with Bo Peep."
"Her sheep," Jessie whispered, realizing they'd do the same thing with Buzz. "You can't..."
"Oh, there's no limit to what I can do," said Cordelia. "After the little stunt your boyfriend pulled…"
"My boyfriend was just trying to help!" Exclaimed Jessie, clenching her fists and using all her strength to hold herself back. She continued to argue with the doll, while Buzz looked on his eyes fixated on Jessie. Maybe it was his battery or his regular weakness but the word 'boyfriend' played over and over in his ears like the world's sweetest symphony. His face softened as he watched her scream at the doll, her specific words were hazy to his ears but the world slowed down and seemed to frame her in a soft light, like a vision from a daydream. I'm her boyfriend, his inner voice chuckled. I'm her boyfriend.
"... like some kind of tea cup!" Jessie finished in a huff. Buzz stood close to her and sighed, still utterly mesmerize
"You're amazing," he mumbled dreamily. She glanced at him from the corner of her eye and gave him a quick, tiny smile before locking her eyes back on Cordelia.
"Clearly, this lesson will have to be taught the hard way," said Cordelia, her face sullen and utterly unnamed. She titled her head, and suddenly more dolls appeared behind her. They rushed to the door, half rushing to pin down Jessie and half swarming to Buzz to transfer him to a higher shelf.
"No!" protested Jessie, fighting as hard as she could to be free of their grip but there was just too many of them."Buzz!"
The space toy was dizzy and weak and the dolls were able to move him easily, but once he heard the distress in Jessie's voice something in him shifted and every part of him was filled with energy. He slipped through his captor's grip with ease, as though he was far too fast to be held. He twisted and flipped and the dolls backs way, aware of their fragility and knew to avoid such things. He sense their discomfort in his motion and continued to flail his limbs wildly, kicking and jumping and they backed away from him as he made his way to Jessie. He used his karate chop action to free one hand from their grip and once free she followed his lead and the dolls were now against the wall, not wanting to be cracked.
But, exerting any energy worsened his state, and soon Buzz found it hard to control his movements. His footing got away from him, and Jessie had to act quickly and pushed him passed Cordelia who stood in the doorway. The porcelain doll, quickly stepped aside, having no one to defend her. But Jessie didn't have a clear sense of direction and ended up flying off the shelf and onto the ground, several levels down. They hit the ground hard, and heard Cordelia demand from above. "After them!" as the army of dolls began climbing down from the shelf, carefully but quickly and Jessie tried to formulate a plan. She helped Buzz up and headed for a path she thought looked familiar.
They took a few steps before something pulled them into the shadows so quickly there was almost no time to fight back.
They watched from between two bookshelves as the army of dolls rushed by, heading down the hall they assumed the pair had went. Soon enough, the mob had gone by and Jessie could turn her attention to the latest ordeal.
"Having fun?" asked a voice that made Jessie's heart stop. She slowly turned and saw the cowboy leaning on the bookshelf, his arms crossed, eyebrows raised and classic smirk on his face that Jessie knew meant a lecture was coming her way.
"Hey Woody," she said quietly with a nervous grin. Beside him, Bo leaned against her staff, her face was more gentle and apologetic for the lecture she also knew was coming since Woody had probably rehearsed it with her.
Buzz sprung up excitedly, his balance still nowhere to be found. A large grin planted itself on his face when he saw his friend the secret agent. "Reinforcements!" he said victoriously, raising his hands in the air.