Oi vey. Yay for life starting again! X( Anyways, thank you all to everyone who read this story, favored, etc. I truly appreciate your feedback. I'm sure I'll be back, so don't ya worry. I love writing (a little too much, I might add). Enjoy!
DISCLAIMER/SPOILER: See Chap 1, 2, 3, 4.
EDIT: Keep forgetting to add the stupid line dividers...
For the third time that night, Buzz found himself in Sunnyside's makeshift library. He sat in the same Lego chair he woke up in when Lotso brought him out of hyper-sleep. Strange binding devices called pipe cleaners tied his wrists together behind his back and his ankles to the chair's front legs. A single light flared above his head as the rest of the room was shrouded in darkness. But he didn't struggle or yell, he merely sat there, waiting for whatever punishment his 'commanding officer' had in store for him.
He did not regret what he did. He did not care about what the pink fluff of stuffing planned to do to him for betrayal; he would not take back anything that happened that night. He dared to not return to their side, either. Whether they were Star Command associates or not, he would not degrade himself as he had before. They could torture him all they wanted; he refused to give in.
Throughout the entire time since his and Jessie's capture, Buzz willingly followed orders from the Sunnyside toys. Only once did he struggle against them. When they reentered the building, he aggressively wondered what Lotso planned to do with Jessie as they led her in a different direction.
"Oh, don't you worry 'bout her." Lotso had sneered in response. "I suggest you worry about yourself."
When they brought him into the library, he grew confused. But, as much as the room seemed unlikely to act as a place to torture victims, Buzz assumed it could very well store its own dangerous instruments.
He sat for several minutes, zoning as he stared blankly at the lamp's base. Soon enough, however, the ranger heard voices drift into the room. Refocusing his attention, he could see Lotso's large form and his second-in-command's short and small figure. They quietly strode into the light and stood over the action figure.
"Where is Jessie?" Buzz would not wait for them to speak first.
The bear huffed, frustration mixing with amusement. He shook his head slightly and leaned on his cane with two paws.
"Ya know, I'm disappointed in you Lightyear." Lotso began casually. "We give you everything you'll ever need and we make you a high ranking officer in this part of Star Command. Yet, you disobey our system and use our gifts to your advantage."
"I honestly don't believe you have any associations with Star Command." Buzz retorted. "Impersonating a military organization is an intergalactic offense."
"Wow, Ken." Another toy commented beyond Buzz's sight. "He's worse then you are about your clothes."
The said doll whipped around and readied to defend himself when Lotso grabbed him by the shoulder and harshly spun him back. Rubbing his arm, Ken hesitantly glanced up to his superior. All amusement had left the bear's face.
"You can spew regulations and laws to me all you want, but not one of them is gonna make a difference."
Buzz nearly choked from taking a huge waft of the bear's strong strawberry stench as Lotso placed his ominous expression mere inches away from the ranger's. The space toy stood his ground and glared just as fiercely. If only looks could kill.
"Where is she?" Buzz repeated through clenched teeth.
"What does it even matter to you?" Lotso chuckled humorlessly. "You don't even know the girl! She coulda been foolin' you the entire time, using you to escape! So careless!"
The ranger's gaze hardened, looking to the floor as if it would provide any reassurances. In his heart, the space ranger began to reengage combat with Andy's toy. He felt so confident and sure before, but a few words began to change his mind. Why did his emotions have to be so unstable?
His head nearly exploded again. Writhing against his bonds, the toy had no means to quell the sudden pain. It ignited with the same intensity as it had when he second-guessed himself before rescuing Jessie. He couldn't feel, couldn't think. And there she was again. The cowgirl's face lit up his entire mind, her wide smile, her dazzling eyes, her flushed cheeks… As he hoped, the throbs began to ebb and his mind cleared. Lord, he really needed to stop doubting himself.
"You know what, she could have." Buzz sarcastically agreed with Lotso's previous comment as he calmed his recuperating body. "But at least she doesn't need twenty henchmen to do her dirty work for her."
He could have sworn Lotso's eye twitched. Rigid with anger, the bear did not move an inch as he snarled to Ken.
"Get me that damn manual."
"Are you sure you're alright, dear?"
"Yes, Mrs. Potato Head. I'm fine." Jessie sighed, pulling her knees against her chest as she idly listened to the voices of the other toys call out to her from beyond her basket-cell.
She hadn't been in the Caterpillar Room for two seconds before the rest of Andy's toys began fretting over her condition. Barbie and Mrs. Potato Head asked dozens of questions Jessie did not want to answer. The men interjected some time or another, but otherwise kept their inquiries at a minimum. Yet, they cared about her well being and she did her best to acknowledge each of them.
"You don't need anything?" Mrs. Potato Head pressed on.
"No, but thank you."
That wasn't entirely true. The cowgirl did not need a physical object to calm her upset nerves. All she needed was to know what happened to Buzz. Lotso's lackeys simply brought her back to the Caterpillar Room and returned her to her cell, leaving Chunk to solely guard the room. Nearly a half hour passed since then.
"What happened to Buzz?"
Hamm must've read her mind.
"I don't know." Jessie admitted forlornly. "I really wish I knew."
"Did he escape?" Rex asked, slightly hopeful.
"No, they found us both…trying to get back inside." The cowgirl resolved to keep their kiss a secret. The time wasn't right.
"Oh dear…" Mrs. Potato Head gasped, pressing a shaking hand to her face. "What did I do?"
"Whaddya mean?" Jessie wondered nervously, surprised by the spud's uncharacteristically distressed attitude.
"Oh, this is all my fault." The elderly toy cried. "If only I hadn't convinced him to go against Lotso…but I was so afraid for you, honey."
The conflicted woman wailed again, leaning on her husband who cautiously rubbed her back.
"So, wait." Jessie called, pausing only for a moment. "He didn't come for me on his own?"
Only silence answered her question. She could see the others glancing at one another uncomfortably. The cowgirl stepped up to the cell bars and grasped them, furrowing her brows and glancing at each of them expectantly.
"In a way, he did." Slinky took the initiative to answer her. "We kinda just…pushed him along a bit. Needed to trust us guys and gals first."
"But rest assured," Barbie added sweetly, "He trusted us because of you."
Jessie's face fell again as her hands impulsively reached for the end of her braid. It was her fault, right from the beginning. When she chose Sunnyside as their future, she started a chain of events that slowly began to unravel what held her together. No, not the dyed cloth that shaped her figure, but the family that shaped her life. Yet, it hurt her worse when she realized she inadvertently caused Buzz's transformation. And she had hated him at one point.
A distressing cry slipped quietly from her lips before she covered her mouth quickly. She nearly tripped as she backed against the shelf's wall, tugging on her braid roughly. He might have sent her to The Box, but she had taken away everything from him, his beliefs, his memories, his feelings. She probably destroyed whatever relationship they could have had.
With her mind so focused on her thoughts, Jessie's body instinctively compensated for her dismay, causing her to hyperventilate. The other toys immediately recognized the sound.
"Jessie, honey, what happened?" Mrs. Potato Head called, alarmed. "Is the space too tight?"
The cowgirl didn't answer. Bullseye whimpered as he pressed his nose against his cage apprehensively, trying to get his friend to react.
"We'll get you a bigger space." The elderly spud proceeded to yell to Chunk. "Hey, rocky! She needs to be put in a bigger basket!"
"It's…it's m-my fault..." Jessie's voice was almost inaudible. "G-gone b-because of…of me…"
"What is she talkin' about?" Mr. Potato Head raised a brow.
His wife ignored him as she hastily pushed him out of her way, straining her body to see Jessie's cell. She knew.
"Jessie, it's not your fault. Not anyone's. And…I guess…not mine either. Dear, there was nothing wrong about your decision to come here. You did it because you cared for us. We sent Buzz out after you because we care for you, including him. I hoped he would return to his normal self if he did. I'm assuming it worked a little bit." Mrs. Potato Head paused for a moment, letting her words sink in. Jessie's hyperventilating stopped at least. "Honey, everything that's happened is Lotso's doing. Forget about what happened. Right now, you need to get Buzz back while there's time. Only you have the capability to bring him back."
"Why?" Jessie nearly choked on her words.
"Because he loves you, dear."
That's when it hit her. She realized the true monster behind their suffering was in the shape of a large, fluffy, pink dictator. Lotso's prison, Lotso's lackeys, Lotso's punishment; all of Sunnyside reeked with his name. Before, the cowgirl could not wrap her mind around the fact that the bear was the physical presence of their misery. But she could finally understand how he underlined his cruel influence through separate objects, especially The Box. The Box was used to break "misbehaving" toys in Lotso's prison. In a way, it nearly broke them all. It made them all believe they were to blame, that something they did caused the rest of them pain. It was their fault, but really, it was Lotso's. The bear could skillfully demoralize toys' minds.
And Buzz was still in the line of fire.
"We have to save him…" Jessie muttered to herself. "I need him back…"
The hallway door slammed open. Every toy in the room jumped in surprise, staring wide-eyed at the procession walking into the room. Lotso led his pack on his 'private' dump truck, his face littered with ominous eyes and a smug smile. Jessie cautiously made her way to the end of her cell and gazed at him with a hard glare. When the group reached the opening in front of the cells, the bear stepped off and casually placed both hands on his walking stick. The other Sunnyside toys filled in around him, offering an intimidating representation of his power. An unsettling silence filled the air, which quickly grew heavier as the bear smirked.
"How'r y'all doin'?" He asked amusedly. "Seems like the sun's about to pop up any moment now. The start to a new day."
Not one of Andy's toys spoke. They merely glared at him unanimously. Lotso decided to continue.
"Now, I have a proposition for all of y'all." He began heartily. "We all know what happened last night. I admit, it was clever. But it won't happen again." His expression hardened almost immediately. "If y'all can agree to follow our rules and pay your dues from now on, we can act like last night never happened. Completely and absolutely."
The bear turned to Jessie, staring her down with a daunting gaze. He was daring her to resist. Jessie would have none of it.
"Where is Buzz?" The cowgirl demanded, ignoring the offer completely.
At this, Lotso sneered once again. Without further comment, he tapped his cane onto the ground twice. Movement erupted in the back of the crowd as a toy ran and exquisitely flipped into the air before landing next to the bear. Suddenly staring at them with cold azure eyes was Buzz Lightyear.
Jessie gasped and placed a hand to her chest.
"No…" She groaned.
"Are these the prisoner's, Commander Lotso?" Buzz inquired in a formal tone.
"Yes they are, captain." Lotso answered, still grinning. "You will be guarding them later tonight."
"Yes, sir." The space toy saluted.
They had reset him again. Somehow, some way, they managed to turn him into a deluded drone once again. All the progress they made to bring him back did not matter anymore. Jessie felt numb as she watched Lotso triumphantly eye her with a mocking salute before climbing into the dump truck.
"Come on, Lightyear." He called to the ranger. "You're needed at Star Command."
As Buzz turned to join his commander, his eyes caught sight of intense emerald irises staring at him. He paused and glanced at Jessie miserably hanging onto the metal bars of her cell. Then she saw it. A flicker, a small, quick flicker shinned in his eyes as his face blanked. His reaction lasted no longer than a few seconds, but she had seen it. Recollection. He recognized her.
The moment passed and Buzz proceeded to give her a confused glare. Not wanting to keep his commanding officer waiting, however, he jumped onto the truck next to Lotso. The other Butterfly toys climbed on as well and soon enough, the bear addressed the prisoners one last time.
"Y'all better get ready." He advised. "You've got a play date with destiny!"
With that, the dump truck sped out of the room and into the bathroom, the door shutting swiftly behind them. Silence once again descended the room.
"So what do we do?" Hamm asked tiredly, stuck unwillingly in his basket.
"They reset Buzz again." Mr. Potato Head snapped. "There's nothing we can do."
Jessie suddenly hoisted herself into the air and kicked her cell open, climbed out, and landed perfectly onto the thin tile floor. She faced the bathroom door before turning to the others.
"We'll switch him back." She concluded simply.
"How?" Slinky questioned confusedly.
The cowgirl glanced into all of their eyes, noticing distress, annoyance, and hopelessness. Yet, she gave them a confident smile, a smile they had not seen for a while.
"Because he's still the same ol' Buzz." Jessie declared elatedly. "He'll remain absolute."
She brought him back once. She would do it again.
And that's where Toy Story 3 will pick up the rest of the story. I tried my best to get this "alternate time" to meet back up with the original plot. So, let me know what ya think. Thanks again! :)