Over the course of the next few days, Jessie managed to make sure that Sandy always had company up on the dresser. The wolf was very shy at first, but slowly became more comfortable around Bonnie's toys. This morning, he was learning to play Go Fish with Jessie, Woody, and Chuckles, which was interesting in itself because Sandy's paws were unable to hold the cards. They managed by bringing a small book up to the dresser and having him balance the cards against it.
"Do you have any eights?" Woody asked Jessie, who frowned in pretend irritation as she handed over the pair of cards.
"It's your turn, Sandy," she said.
Sandy looked at his cards, and grinned.
"Do you have any eights, Woody?" he asked.
"You're kidding!" Woody cried, handing over the triple eights. Sandy nudged his own eight over the book.
"So, now I keep them, right?" he asked.
"Right," Jessie confirmed. "Nice job, Sandy!"
"I like this game," Sandy said.
"You would," said Chuckles. "That's the third time you've gotten all four!"
"If we were on the floor, we could play with a larger group," Woody pointed out. Sandy shook his head.
"Your turn, Chuckles," he said, quickly changing the subject.
"He has a point, Sandy," Jessie said. "Why don't we—"
"Could we just keep playing?" Sandy cut her off. Jessie looked a little surprised. True, Sandy had expressed no interest in leaving the dresser, but he wasn't usually so forceful about it. Shrugging it off for now, they went back to the card game.
"Hey, Buzz," Jessie said. "Do you want to come and hang out with Sandy and me?"
"No thanks," Buzz replied. "Maybe later, okay?"
The cowgirl walked off towards the dresser. Buzz watched her walk off, almost deciding to follow her anyways, but didn't, turning his back on the dresser.
"Why don't you join them?" Woody asked, walking up to him. "You've said no every time she's invited you."
Buzz shrugged. "I just don't feel like it, I guess."
Truthfully, he really wasn't sure why he didn't want to be with Sandy and Jessie. There wasn't anything not to like about the wolf, and he absolutely loved spending time with the cowgirl.
But when they were together… and Jessie had done almost nothing but hang out with Sandy since he'd first arrived…
"I think that Jessie's being really nice to Sandy," Woody said. "Making sure he feels welcome, and all that."
"Of course. Make sure that the new guy feels welcome. That's the right thing to do," Buzz said, sounding to Woody like he was trying to convince himself of the fact.
Buzz glanced up at the dresser, and his stomach clenched at the sight of Jessie sitting with her arm draped over Sandy's back.
"That feels good," Sandy said as Jessie stroked his fur. The cowgirl smiled mischievously and moved her fingers to his belly.
"No, wait, that tickles! Stop!" The wolf's protests were drowned out by both of their laughter.
Eventually, they settled down again.
"Do you ever get scared, Jessie?" Sandy asked suddenly.
"Sure, I do," Jessie replied. "Everyone gets scared sometimes."
Sandy looked up at her skeptically. "I don't think you're afraid of anything," he said. "You, and everyone else in this room."
"Why do you say that?"
The wolf shrugged.
"I'll tell you a secret," Jessie said, lowering her voice and leaning closer to his ear. "You want to know what I fear most of all?"
"Being stuck in the dark, with no way out," Jessie said. "Also, I'm afraid of being abandoned."
"Why would someone want to abandon you?"
Jessie shrugged. "Kids grow up," she said. "My first kid, Emily, donated me when she got older. Then, I was put into storage."
"I was sealed into a little box and left in a dark room for a very, very long time."
"That's terrible," Sandy said, placing his head on her lap. "And you didn't have anyone to talk to?"
"Not at first," said Jessie. "Eventually, Bullseye and I figured out that the other was there. He could hear me talking, and I could hear him tapping the side of his box. It wasn't quite as bad after that."
They sat in silence for a while.
"But you're not afraid of breaking," Sandy said softly.
"Breaking…?" Suddenly, the pieces of the problem fit together in Jessie's head. "Sandy, did you ever see someone fall off the shelf at the store?"
The wolf closed his eyes.
"Kids would come in to choose one of us to paint," he said. "They weren't always careful. If you were hit, you fell. If you fell, you broke. And if you broke, then you got thrown away…"
Jessie scratched Sandy behind the ears, which made him feel a little better.
That explained his reluctance to get off the dresser—he didn't think he'd land safely. Jessie had nothing to worry about, as she was made of cloth and plastic. But Sandy was clay…
I bet he can do it, Jessie thought. After all, he can move around now. It's the mental obstacle more than anything else. He has to face his fear, or else he'll always be paranoid.
"Sandy," she said determinedly. "We're getting you off this dresser."
A.N.: Many apologies for taking so long, and for putting up such a short chapter… I've been suffering writer's block and a bad habit of starting too many stories at once! But that's no excuse. I'll do the best I can, okay?