Disclaimer: I don't own the Toy Story movies or characters. WARNING: This story contains mature content and Toy Story 3 spoilers!
A Different Kind of Love
By Jennifer Collins
As soon as she saw Bonnie's mom's car pull out of the driveway, Dolly began to take inventory of the toys in the room. Slinky was right behind her, answering "check" every time she called a toy's name and they responded.
"Rex!" Dolly called.
"Here!" He replied, enthusiastically waving his tiny arms.
"Check!" Slinky Dog dutifully shouted.
Dolly checked Rex's name off her Doodle Pad list. "Jessie!" She frowned when the red-headed cowgirl doll didn't answer. "Jessie?" She turned to Slinky, who shrugged.
Woody scanned the room while Dolly and Slinky moved on. He looked up to find her sitting by the windowsill. "Buzz?" He asked. "What's the matter with Jessie?"
Buzz shook his head. "I'm not sure. Should I go find out?"
Woody pushed his hat back on his head. "Nah, I'll go first." He waved at Dolly, gesturing to the window, and she nodded. Woody climbed up on the bed and jumped to the desk. He stacked a pile of books to create a step up to the ledge.
"Hey howdy hey!" He said cheerfully.
Her eyes were wide and sad when she looked at him, and she hugged her knees to her chest without saying anything.
"Aw, Jess. What's wrong?" He took a seat next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Is it really July 21st?" Her voice was small. "I saw it on Bonnie's calendar."
Woody leaned closer. "Um, yeah," he answered, confused. "It is…."
"It's been twenty years," she whispered heavily before he could say anything else.
For a second, his mind tried to process what she was telling him. He heard her sniffle quietly, and then he wrapped her up in a fierce hug. "I'm so sorry, Jessie," he said soothingly as she leaned her head against his chest.
"It still feels like it was just yesterday that I was put on that truck," she cried.
"Sssh, sshh," he soothed, rubbing her back in small circles. "You're safe now."
"I remember it so clearly… like it was just yesterday that she left…."
"I know," Woody said softly. "But Jess… things are different now."
"She left me!" Jessie looked up at him. "She was my world, my whole universe. And she left me."
Woody sighed. The wound that had been left in his heart when he watched Andy drive off to college weeks ago was still fresh. And Andy had done everything he could to make sure his toys were taken care of. He couldn't even imagine the pain he would've felt had he and his friends been abandoned like Jessie had all those years before….
"Emily loved you, Jessie. Maybe it didn't last as long as it could have, but she loved you. Just like Andy still loves you, and now Bonnie loves you."
Jessie looked down at her lap, remembering the feeling of Bonnie's finger on her face as she'd touched the doll for the first time, almost as if she'd been wiping her unshed tears away… But how long would it last?
"I do love Bonnie," Jessie said. She looked into Woody's eyes, knowing that he would understand her question before she even asked it.
"I know things seem uncertain right now, but I think Bonnie is going to love us and play with us for a really, really long time," Woody told her.
Jessie nodded. "I guess you're right. But there's still so much that could happen…."
Woody gripped her shoulders firmly. "We can't be concerned with all the what ifs. Let's just enjoy our new life here and be thankful that we're all still together."
She looked away from him then, not wanting to see the flicker of pain in his eyes when he said the words "all still together." She knew he was right.
"You're a great friend, Woody. And I know you're right. But it still hurts," she said.
He gently patted her back. "That's why you have us. Your friends. And we will always love you, no matter what."
Jessie smiled. "I love you too."
"And you have Buzz," Woody reminded her. "Buzz loves you more than anything."
Her smile faded.
Woody's eyes narrowed in concern. "You do love Buzz, don't you? Aw, Jess, don't tell me you're getting cold feet now. You guys have been getting along so well, and he's finally admitted his feelings after all these years…."
Jessie laughed. "It's great how you're so protective of all of us."
Woody crossed his arms over his chest.
"Of course I love Buzz," she insisted. She lowered her eyes. "But Emily was the love of my life, and that didn't last."
Woody placed a hand under her chin and raised her face to look at him. "It's a different kind of love. Buzz loves you unconditionally. He won't grow up and abandon you, or throw you away, or lose you, or anything like that. None of us will."
"A different kind of love?" She pondered this for a moment. "Like you loved Bo?" She hated herself for saying the words out loud even before she spoke them.
Woody slid back on the window ledge. "Yes. Like I love Bo. And no matter what's happened, I wouldn't trade one second of the time we spent together for anything." He hopped back down onto the desk.
"Woody.. I'm sorry…"
He whirled around to face her. "I know today's a dark day for you, Jessie. But tomorrow's a new day, with new adventures. Think about that."