Disclaimer: I do not own Pixar, Toy Story, or any of the awesome characters that inhabit that happy universe. I do happen to own a couple of Woody dolls though, who have been very patient with me while I have attempted to finish this. I also own Ellie and Zack, so if you feel inclined to use them for some bizarre reason, please ask first and give credit where credit is due. I slaved over them for hours. Really. ;) For a full list of things I don't own, please see the credits.
Holding out for a Hero
"Wayne, you shouldn't be doing that," Julie Davis chided her husband, taking his hand and helping him up onto their bed.
Wayne moaned and clutched his side. The pain was much worse now. "As if you should be climbing around in the attic in your condition," he said, trying to kid.
His 6-month pregnant wife sighed. "What were you getting, anyway?"
Wayne opened the cardboard box on the bedspread and began scooping out packing peanuts. The pain in his side was telling him this had to be done quickly. "I found an old friend of mine for Andy." Wayne pulled a tall, lanky cowboy doll from the box. "I've had Woody since I was ten. I want Andy to have him now."
Julie hitched herself onto the other side of the bed. "You always said you were going to wait until he was a little older to give him Woody. He's an antique," she said fondly, looking at the doll's large brown eyes.
Wayne nodded and gritted his teeth. "I think you should call your mom, Julie. I'm going to need to go to the hospital tonight."
The hospital runs had become more frequent as Wayne's cancer had spread. Julie knew that the malignant tumor was getting larger, but she had learned early on to detach herself from the emotions that came with Wayne's requests for additional pain killers or late night trips to the hospital. The little girl in her stomach didn't need her mom's heart rate elevated, and little Andy, nearly five, didn't need to see his mom's distress either. Julie nodded and got off the bed and headed for the phone in the hallway.
Wayne looked at Woody solemnly. "I've got a job for you, Sheriff Woody," he said quietly. "I'm not going to be around to take care of my boy, Andy. He's a good kid, and he needs a man to look after him; make sure he turns out, Woody. Can you do that for me? Can you help Julie look after Andy?"
The toy's eyes, grimy with dust, just stared back at the blond man. Suddenly Wayne gasped and rolled forward onto Woody, grasping at his side. "Julie?" He called, trying to keep the panic out of his voice. He didn't need Andy hearing him. Not tonight.
"I'm coming!" She appeared in the doorway and gasped to see her husband shivering in agony "I'm going to call the ambulance, Wayne. Hold on!" She fled the room. In his hand, Wayne suddenly felt a gentle and reassuring pressure, as if Woody had squeezed his finger.
Andy had heard the panic in his mom's voice and step.
"Daddy?" Andy's little voice came from just below the edge of the tall bed his dad was now lying on, moaning. "Daddy are you okay?"
How do you tell a four-year-old – your son - that in the morning he wasn't going to have a dad anymore? You didn't.
"Andy?" Wayne Davis summoned the last of his strength and sat up. He took Woody from the bed and held him out. "I want you to have Woody. He's going to help take care of you now, okay?"
Missing the obvious implications, he nodded. He pulled Woody from his father's hand and clutched him to his chest without looking at him. "Thank you, daddy."
There was the sound of car doors opening and closing outside, and Andy looked out the window to see a stretcher being rolled up the driveway. Wayne thanked his lucky stars that this wasn't the first time he'd been wheeled out on a stretcher. The less distress Andy was in, the better.
"Mom's going to take me to the hospital now, okay Andy? Grandma will be here in ten minutes; do you think you can wait in your room for her, or do you want to go downstairs and watch TV?" Even as he spoke fluidly, he clenched and unclenched his fists, fighting the pain. Tears formed at the corners of his eyes.
"I'll go to my room with Woody," Andy said as the EMT's entered the room and popped up the stretcher. "I hope you feel better, daddy," he said, sucking on his thumb.
"I will soon, Andy. I love you, remember?" he asked as the EMT's helped him off the bed and onto the stretcher.
Andy nodded and backed into the wall. His mother came and kissed his head. "Grandma's coming real soon. You'll be safe, okay?" she whispered quickly.
He scarcely had time to nod his head before both his parents were gone. He stood at the window and watched the ambulance drive away. The boy had seen the ambulance lots of times, and he knew his daddy was sick. He'd been left alone for a few minutes at night before, so he wasn't too scared.
Andy padded back to his bedroom and climbed up onto his bed, turning on both his red lamp and his baby sister's Bo Peep lamp in order to make lots of light. Then he pulled Woody under the blankets and sat up to make a tent.
He'd heard about Woody from daddy before. Woody had belong to his dad when he was a little older than him, and he'd had a TV show or something. "What do you do, Woody?" Andy asked curiously. He rotated the toy slowly and saw the pull string. Slipping a cautious finger through it, he pulled and turned the toy to face him.
"You're my favorite deputy," the doll said slowly.
Andy smiled. "A cowboy." He pulled the string again and again, listening to each of the doll's phrases. After he had listened to them all, he laughed and laid down, ready to sleep.
There was gentle tap at the door. "Andy? It's grandma." The door opened and a young grandmother stepped into the room, smiling sadly. "Were you scared?"
"No. I have Woody," Andy said firmly, holding up his new toy. "He was daddy's."
Grandma smiled fondly at Woody. "Goodness, what a handsome little cowboy!"
"He's not handsome, he's brave," Andy objected.
"I'll bet he is," grandma said. "Think you can go to sleep now?"
Grandma turned the lamps off, and five minutes later, Andy was sleeping peacefully, one arm loosely around Woody, the other under his cheek.
The breathing of a child, the quiet thump of their heart against a tiny body, those were things toys didn't forget. In the moonlit stillness of the room, for the first time in over ten years, Woody felt a child's embrace.
The box had been stuffy, claustrophobic at times, and terrifyingly taped shut and placed under something heavy. Woody had heard nothing and felt nothing, human or toy, for ages. He silently thanked Andy for pulling on his pullstring; it had felt like there were enormous knots in it, constricting his breathing. Woody felt more conscious than he ever had in his life. He could hear crickets outside the window and see the shadows of leaves on the blanket. The wallpaper in the bedroom was a deep blue in the moonlight, and it was covered in clouds. He also felt anxiety squirming around in his gut. Wayne?
He heard a rustle on the bedside table to his right.
"Are you all right down there?" A soft, sweet, husky voice called down to him. Woody turned to look up at the shadows on the bedside table. He'd almost forgotten that other toys could talk.
"Yeah," he called back softly. His voice seemed smaller outside of the confines of a cardboard box.
"He's a sound sleeper; you can move," the voice called again.
Woody swallowed and very gently extricated himself from underneath Andy's arm. He stood up on the pillow, readjusted his hat, and stretched hard. After what felt like decades of lying fairly inert in a box of packing peanuts, it felt like absolute bliss to be standing up.
"So you're Woody," the voice said. He turned and looked over, but he could still only see the shadows. "We've heard a lot about you."
Woody chuckled. "Careful, you might scare me away." He tiptoed toward the nightstand and clambered up. He glanced down to ensure that Andy was still asleep. The boy didn't move.
"I don't think you scare easily," came the voice, this time a little louder.
Woody turned and worked his way around the large lamp only to find himself looking at another lamp. And an absolutely stunning girl. He stopped short, his voice suddenly gone.
The girl, a shepherdess wearing a filmy full white dress with pink trimming, sauntered up to him. In the moonlight, he could just make out that her eyes were the most exquisite shade of blue he'd ever seen. Woody took a deep breath and summoned up his courage. "Howdy," he said softly, taking off his hat and holding it. "I'm Woody." His name sounded quite stupid to him at that moment.
The girl smiled broadly. "Bo," she told him. She pointed behind her at a row of three sheep glued together. "and sheep."
Woody nodded to the little sheep, who bleated softly at him. He looked back over at Andy; the boy could only be four or five. "I'm afraid I've been in the attic for a long time. Would you mind giving me the lay of the land?" He sounded more ridiculous with every sentence.
Bo stepped up and pointed her shepherd's crook down at the sleeping boy. "This is Andy. I guess you knew his dad?"
Woody nodded and rubbed the back of his head. "That was...quite a shock," he said slowly. "The last time I saw Wayne he was a young man getting ready to leave for college. Then he pulls me out of the box and gives me to his kid..." Woody shuddered. He looked helplessly at Bo. "What's happening to Wayne?"
Bo looked at him searchingly for a moment. When she finally answered, her voice was very hushed. "He has terminal cancer. I really can't tell you much more than that. He's been sick since Andy was a baby." She paused, judging his reaction. "Andy is going to turn five next week, and in about three months, his mother is going to have a baby girl."
Woody's chest tightened and he exhaled slowly. No wonder the handsome young face had been scarcely recognizable. "Cancer...terminal cancer..." He looked away, replacing his hat. "Wayne," he said slowly, "is wonderful. He kept me up on the bookshelf on a stand after he stopped playing with me. I was really his only toy...he had games and stuff, but only a couple of stuffed bears from when he was a kid." He smiled reminiscently.
"So you're an only child?" Bo asked with a grin, taking his cue for optimism and running with it.
He turned and looked at her lovely face. "I guess you could say that." He simply looked for a moment, then asked, "What about you? Where do you fit in to all the excitement?"
Bo shrugged. "Grandma bought me for the baby when she gets here. I just stand up here and watch everyone, mostly. There's not too many of us." She turned and pointed with her crook. "Hamm is the piggy bank, he's over there on the bookshelf. There's Mr. Potato Head and Slinky Dog, they're in the toy box. And then there's a Treasure Troll from some happy meal. I think she stays in the toy box too. And there's a stuffed bear who usually sits on the shelf clear over there."
Bo nodded. "Andy plays very nicely with us. Well – he doesn't touch me."
Woody grinned. He liked this girl. "Girl germs?"
She laughed ruefully and began sauntering back to the lamp. "Grandma won't let him touch me."
Woody followed her, watching the way her skirts swung when she moved. Wayne hadn't had any sisters with girl toys, and so he'd never really seen a doll before. "Maybe when he's older he will," he consoled.
He couldn't imagine not ever being talked to or held. Even when he was just sitting on his shelf in Wayne's room, Wayne would talk to him. Woody felt a chill wash over him that had nothing to do with Bo's presence. The last fifteen years in his storage box had not been pleasant; he impulsively wanted to jump back down into Andy's arms and stay there, just because the thought of feeling someone against him would help.
Bo brushed a porcelain hand over her sheep's heads. Woody felt awkward again. What was he supposed to do? Should he stay up here, talking with Bo all night? Wander around the room? Maybe he should curl back up with Andy.
"You've been in storage for about fifteen years, then?" Bo asked him.
He shrugged, grateful that she was doing the talking. "Probably about that long."
"You're not tired, then," she smiled.
"Heh...not really." He slouched awkwardly, trying to think of what to do.
"Any other night I'd offer to show you around," she said, smiling. In the pale light, Woody could just make out that the smile was slightly mischievous. He laughed somewhat nervously.
"It's all right. Rain check."
He cast around for something to say. "It's nice to have someone to talk to," he said finally. He mentally scorned himself for coming up with something that corny.
Bo carefully sat down on the edge of her lamp and looked up at him. "Why don't you sit down and keep talking?" she asked him naturally. Her voice was quite mesmerizing.
Feeling that he may have possibly bit off more than he could chew, yet also extremely grateful to Bo for the offer, Woody sat down on the lamp a safe distance from her.
"The sheep bite. I don't," she said, smirking.
Woody didn't say anything but obediently moved closer.
Bo changed the subject. "What did you do in your storage box?" she asked him idly, twirling her crook in front of her.
Woody shrugged and focused on the question. "There wasn't anything to do. I slept a lot...talked to myself."
"Was it hard?" she asked suddenly, looking at him hard. Woody felt like he was under a magnifying glass. "I wasn't in a box for very long, and mine had plastic so I could see out.'
He rubbed at the back of his neck. "It was terrible at first, I guess. I felt...abandoned." Deep-seated feelings rushed back to him. "I got lonely and upset and scared and angry and-" he stopped and blushed. "I guess you don't need to hear all that."
Bo was looking at him fondly. "I can't understand it; I've never been, well...really loved by an owner yet. I can't imagine how hard it was to suddenly be shut away and never held again, Woody."
The sound of his name on her lips nearly knocked him over. He knew he'd been in storage far too long, but the sudden ache in the pit of his stomach begging him to connect with Bo was overwhelming. He felt hungry for any kind of attention, and for a second he indulged in the idea of kissing her, even though he'd never kissed anyone before. He needed physical contact with someone – anyone.
"Woody?" she asked softly, leaning to look into his face.
When he found his voice again, what came out surprised him. "I think I know how you feel, Bo, not ever being loved or held. Just a bit, anyway."
Perhaps it suddenly struck Bo that she was rapidly developing a crush on Woody, or possibly that she really hadn't ever been touched by a human, or any other toy besides her sheep, but she reached out and brushed his cheek with her hand.
Both of them shivered at the contact. They sat in suspended air for long moments. Woody had nearly decided to just touch his mouth to her skin to see what would happen, when he heard creaking footsteps in the hallway.
Bo had practically stopped breathing "Go-" she gasped, getting up.
Feeling dazed and confused, Woody jumped up and hurtled himself back down onto the bed and fell lifeless. What was I doing - - He could scarcely answer himself.
Andy's grandmother re-entered the room and switched on the red lamp. "Andy? Sweetheart, wake up."
In the covers, Andy wormed for a moment before opening his eyes. Blearily, he sat up. "How's daddy feeling?" he asked, looking up at his grandma with huge brown eyes.
Grandma looked at the floor for a long time. "Daddy is…all better now. Daddy is in heaven, Andy."
He climbed into his grandmother's lap and cried, asking when his mom was coming home, when could he see his daddy, and if he should stay up all night to wait for her. His grandmother smoothed his hair, rubbed his back, and whispered reassurances to the boy.
Forty long, agonizing minutes later, his head sore with crying and cheeks stained red, Andy fell asleep. Grandma gently pressed Woody back into her grandson's arms, turned off the lamp, and left.
Woody was in shock. Wayne was...gone? No. No, no... Feeling a desperate need for air, Woody climbed out of Andy's arms and stood on the pillow, gasping. Not Wayne. Not his good little cowboy. Not Wayne, not Wayne-
There was a sudden pressure on his arm, and Woody turned to find Bo gazing at him, worried. "Woody? I'm so sorry..."
He didn't know what to do. For the first time in his life, Woody wished that he could cry. His eyes were burning, his ears ringing, his throat constricted. "I - I.. Wayne?"
He needed to move, to get some air... Leaving Bo standing there, he climbed around Andy, jumped up on the bookshelf and prized the window open. He was shaking so hard he couldn't keep upright, so he flung himself down on the sill. Really. Tears would be helpful now, he thought angrily. His hands clenched in and out of fists and his chest ached. He needed something to hold onto, just to hold something, to feel something solid in his arms.
Two cool hands slid themselves under his shoulders and pulled him into a kneeling position. As if she could read his thoughts, Bo silently wrapped her arms snuggly around him and kissed his cheek. Woody abandoned himself to his pain and threw his arms around her, holding on like there was no tomorrow. This was what he needed.
With the ease of a mother comforting a child, Bo pulled Woody to the side of the window and eased him into her shoulder. In later years it would be Bo who fell asleep on Woody's shoulder, but tonight Woody found a sweet peace and friendship in her arms that he'd never felt before. He slept more deeply and soundly held to her cool porcelain body that night than he had for years in a box of soft packing material.
She roused him just before sunrise the next morning with soft hand on his cheek and a gentle murmur in his ear. "Good morning."
Woody raised his head slowly, blinking at the purple horizon and silently settling his situation and emotions into their proper places. Of the myriad of emotions that were now reawakening inside of him, embarrassment was not one of them. He took a deep breath and sat up. "You didn't have to do that," he said to her quietly.
She smiled. "I wanted to."
He nodded gratefully and helped her to her feet.
"Besides," she said lightly, "you're much better company than my sheep."
"I don't know about that," he said quietly, smiling as they walked carefully around Andy's still form.
"You're a lot more comfortable than them," she matter-of-factly.
He turned looked at her squarely. "I'm not sure what to think about you," he said honestly.
Andy turned over in his sleep and the sunlight starting to creep in the window.
"Right now I don't care what you think about me, as long as you are thinking about me," Bo said slyly, letting go and using her crook to get back up on the nightstand. She looked back down at Woody, who was looking slightly abashed. He'd get used to it. "If last night was any indication," she nodded at Andy, "I don't think he's going to let you out of his sight for a while."
Woody looked behind him at the fair-headed boy. "Maybe," he agreed.
"So I'll see you later, cowboy," she said, vanishing behind the red lamp.
"Yes ma'am," he breathed. That girl sure knows how to make an exit, he thought as he climbed back into position in Andy's bed.