A/N: This is set very shortly after Toy Story 2. For some time, I didn't much care for Bo Peep either. But she's wiser than she lets on. I think she must've been pretty indispensable in the earlier days. Let's see Jessie squirm a little, shall we? It's a friendship fic, and I also hope it provides some plausible insight into why the heck Jessie and Buzz took their sweet time getting together...!
To Light Up A Room
In Andy's room, Jessie the Yodeling Cowgirl was pretty darn awesome.
"Yeek yipe yipe ohhh noooo, how will I ever get out of this pit full of flesh-eating piranhas?" wailed Andy in a falsetto.
Never mind that piranhas inhabited water, and this was supposed to be a pit in the middle of a blazing desert. Sheriff Woody, with a tip of his hat and a grip on his belt, was ready like always to rescue his Damsel in Distress, Ms. Little Bo Peep.
"Eeek! Hurry Woody! They're eating my curls off!"
Andy waved Woody about, making him give orders to his posse. "Buzz! You hafta take out Dr. Porkchop's Piranha Factory where the piranhas are all coming from! Jessie Jane! Take this" – Andy tossed a small laser gun between Woody and Jessie – "And shoot all the piranhas you can! I'm going in!"
Woody dove into the imaginary pit and "swam" through piranhas as he made his way to Bo Peep. Behind him, blam blam went the gun as sharpshooting Jessie hit target after target.
"Uhh guys, I got some trouble up here!" came Andy's Buzz voice from above. The Piranha Factory had apparently transformed itself into a large piranha-shooting canon brigade.
Andy scooped up the other three in one arm and brought them to join Buzz. Jessie's right side was smashed up against Bo Peep's front and she gave her a quick sheepish smile. But suddenly she was once again blasting piranhas to smithereens, guided by Andy's hand.
As Bo Peep stood by, Buzz got in a rocket ship and used its blasters to fire at the Piranha Factory, Jessie mounted the top of the rocket ship and fired her gun, and Sheriff Woody lassoed Pork Chop and tossed him into the piranha pit. Then, the factory fell on top of the pit, Pork Chop was trapped, and that was the end.
But, of course, Bo Peep offered Woody the customary reward for saving her life once again: A barrage of kisses and flattery. "Ohhh Woody, you're my heeero! Where would a little ol' girl like me be without you?"
"Piranha chow, that's where! Oh ho ho," Andy made Woody joke.
Andy had Woody, Buzz, and Jessie join in a three-way high five.
Just like one of the boys, Jessie thought.
Normally, this didn't bother her at all. She was a pretty good shot, if she might say so herself.
But shortly after the conclusion of this particular adventure, after Andy had gone outside to play baseball, Jessie witnessed a rather coy scene between Woody and the pretty porcelain shepherdess. She didn't mean to eavesdrop, but it wasn't exactly like they were hiding it either.
"Where would a girl like me be without you?" Bo batted her eyelashes rapidly next to the toy box.
"Gosh," Woody blushed. "Uh, probably fish food. See, I can write my own funny lines just like Andy. Huhuh," he nudged her coyly.
"Uh huh." Bo rolled her eyes, then brought a delicate hand to his cheek. "I was glad to see when I came over to Andy's room that you're still in the hero business, Hero."
"Weellll, of course. It's what I do best!" Woody straightened his hat smugly.
Bo Peep kissed him sweetly on the cheek. Jessie tried to sneak away unseen, but suddenly, Andy was approaching the room again and all of them went limp.
"Oops, Buster. Forgot my glove! Have you seen it, boy?" The dog came romping and sniffing, perhaps assisting Andy, or perhaps just having fun doing the sorts of things dogs do.
Andy spotted Bo Peep on the floor. "Oh, I'd better put you back in Molly's room. Mom doesn't like it when I leave fragile stuff lying around, isn't that right Buster? Yyyes it is! Good boy! See Buster, you can tell Mom that I did something responsible today. You'll tell her for me Buster, isn't that right..." Andy left the room with his glove in one hand and Bo Peep in the other, Buster bounding at his heels.
Woody sat up, dismayed at Bo Peep's premature departure.
Jessie snuck off to find Bulls-eye. As the other toys milled about, she noticed Woody slip out of the room rather daringly.
Jessie sighed and sat on the bed beside Bullseye. It wasn't a nice thing to think at all, but for some reason she didn't care much for that Bo Peep. It was just that Bo Peep was the kind of toy she really couldn't understand. A dainty female doll with an hourglass figure and frills, and a docile personality to match. In all honesty, rough-and-tumble Jessie had never encountered such a toy before and didn't know what to make of her.
"Is, uh – ahem – Is something bothering you, Miss?"
Jessie was startled. She turned around to see that Buzz Lightyear had approached her from behind.
She smiled a little, closed her eyes and shook her head. "Nah. Nothin' really at all. Why do you ask?"
Buzz looked unprepared to have been actually asked this question. "Er – Just noticed you sitting up here all by yourself –" Bullseye snuffed – "I mean, beside this fine equestrian companion – and wondered if I could help at all. Maybe lend a hand with some sort of problem?"
Jessie's sudden, strong internal reaction against this offer surprised her. "No. I'm fine, thank you," she stated rather blankly.
Buzz seemed disappointed. He continued to seek eye contact for a hopeful moment, but when she didn't recant, he became increasingly fidgety and awkward, and then decided to leap from the bed and try some other time.
Jessie felt rather bad about the way that encounter had gone. Buzz had only been trying to help. She almost started after him, but held back. Although she couldn't quite put it into words, her instinct not to be vulnerable was very powerful right now.
She drew her knees closer to her chest and furrowed her brow.
Whether she liked it or not, Jessie was one to dwell on her feelings. As with most things, when they didn't go in accordance with how she wished, the fiery cowgirl tended to get frustrated and angry.
It occurred to her that she had never even met another female toy, ever, except for a few assorted toy cat figurines that Emily had played with on occasion. They had mostly just licked themselves, and weren't a very friendly bunch on the whole.
What made a gal like Bo tick?
That night, Jessie decided that the only way she would resolve this issue would be to have a chat with Bo Peep herself. When everyone was sleeping, she slipped out of the room. In the moonlight, she dashed across the same hallway path that her twin Woody had taken earlier.
Jessie slipped into Molly's room lithely and crept around piles of T-shirts and socks (Molly was already a messy kid) toward the bedside table.
Bo Peep, seemingly interrupted from a moon-gazing reverie, noticed Jessie approaching and looked on, a little puzzled.
Jessie waved nervously.
Bo silently invited her up onto the table, extending a dainty porcelain hand to help her up.
Jessie took it, and couldn't help but blush slightly at its startling softness.
Once on the table, Jessie cast her eyes down and about for something to say.
But luckily, Bo spoke first. "Good evening, dear," she greeted calmly, and warmly. "Sit down," she urged.
Jessie fell into an indian-style position on the surface of the table.
Bo stepped down from the lamp base to join her, patting the sheep on her way, then folding her legs to the side and taking care not to ruffle her hoop dress. "What brings you to this side of the house?" Bo inquired calmly, curiously.
Jessie was already sort of regretting this decision, because she really didn't have much to say. "Guess I wanted to apologize for elbowing you earlier," she tried.
Bo laughed. "You mean when Andy was controlling all that we did?"
Jessie stuck her bottom lip out just a little. She suddenly felt self-conscious, like Bo was looking her over, surely formulating thoughts about her thoroughly un-feminine mannerisms.
"I know that you saw me and Woody earlier, dear."
Bo smiled sympathetically. "I'm more astute than many realize. Is this about that?"
"Well..." It dawned on Jessie that Bo might be insinuating something. "Noooo, nope, definitely not that," she clarified. "Me an' Woody might be part of a set, but it's nothin' like that, I swear." She laughed nervously.
Bo raised an eyebrow. "Oh no, I never worried for a second about that, dear. I happen to know that Sheriff Woody is loyal from the bottom of his heart. I'd know in a second if anything was amiss." She raised an eyebrow, then grinned blissfully.
Jessie gaped. It was a little more than she could stand. How on earth was this doll so calm, and so sure of everything?
"Okay, so...I guess I've been wonderin'," she began probing, boldly. "How come you act like Woody just saved yer life and all, when it was just part of Andy's game?"
"Well, why not?" Bo countered, lowering her eyelids ever so slightly, but remaining frustratingly calm. "It might be Andy's game, but it still happened."
Jessie considered this. "But, you didn't have any choice, and neither did Woody."
"Most things, we don't have a choice about, you know." Bo looked out the window wistfully.
Jessie's gaze followed Bo's, and upon taking in the wide expanse of the sky, she felt a slight pang. From her own experience, she might say Bo was right about that.
But that was beside the point. How could Bo come to this conclusion, but be seemingly totally fine with it all?
Jessie prided herself in having both feet on the ground, but more and more, she was slipping. She had to grasp for a line to hold onto. "Okay, so what's your story then?" she demanded of Bo Peep. She shut her mouth quickly. She'd perhaps been a little hasty, and harsh.
"My story?" Bo asked to clarify.
Bo paused and drew an airy breath. "The most interesting thing I've noticed about my life, dear, is that...I'm a lamp," she stated.
Jessie nodded, trying to follow.
"I never expected to be played with at all," Bo Peep continued. "It's an interesting feeling, a little different than my manufactured purpose, certainly."
"Which is..." Jessie started thinking about all the lamps she'd ever seen, but none of them had ever talked before.
"To be looked at, of course." Bo smiled placidly. "To be a decoration. To light up a room, and also bring beauty to it." Bo reached up to touch the sheep's muzzles, and they trilled quietly in affirmation.
Jessie pantomimed a smack to the forehead. A lot of her question had been answered right there. But she still had to know: "Doesn't it bother you that you can't ever save the day or nothin' in Andy's games? That you're always the one gettin' saved?"
Bo looked at Jessie squarely. "It's a small and surprising miracle that a kid like Andy took one look at me and saw a toy to play with in the first place." She turned to look at the moon again. "He's been playing with me less and less often these days..." she mused. "But when that's all over, I'll still make children happy by doing what I was born to do." She smiled.
To Jessie's surprise, she found herself somewhat moved. She bit her lip, then smiled to herself.
Bo brought one hand to the side of her mouth, as if conferring a secret. "Lamps save children from nightmares and ghouls, you know," she joked.
Jessie giggled openly, falling backward.
"So no, dear, in answer to your question, I'm not bothered at all," said Bo Peep. "Besides," she continued, "I know that Woody likes it this way, too, so look where it's gotten me." She winked.
Jessie snapped to attention and turned a pale pink, now that the subject of romance had been breached again. "Yeah yeah..." she mumbled, clearly uncomfortable with the topic. She happened to glance a poster of Mickey and Minnie Mouse on Molly's wall. "That's what the fellas like, innit?" she cast roughly. She began to stand up. "Well, you know, I'll just get going now, practice my gun shootin' some." To the careful listener, she sounded a tiny bit sore.
Bo was a careful listener. She let out a genuine giggle herself, grabbing Jessie's hand to sit her back down. "Miss Jessie –"
"Er, just Jessie, please."
"Jessie, I was right about why you came to speak to me this evening."
Jessie raised an eyebrow, still flustered. "An' why's that?"
"I'll bet you think that only girls like me get any sort of attention."
"Attention? What're you gettin' at?" Jessie squinted one eye, hands on her spread-apart crossed knees.
"Not all men have the same styles either, you must know of course."
Jessie grimaced. This gal sounded pretty worldly for a stationary lamp. She just about decided to stop feeling empathetic for her.
"If you haven't noticed, dear," – Bo tilted Jessie's chin upwards so she could make eye contact with her – "A certain man in Andy's room definitely thinks you're very special."
"Yeah, I think I already know..." Jessie wrenched her eyes away and looked off to the side again. "I mean," she clarified, determined not appear bested by Bo on levels of feminine intuition, "Of course."
Bo pressed on. "From the way Buzz looks at you, I can tell he finds you absolutely stunning."
Jessie looked a little disgruntled, trying to pretend that Bo hadn't accurately hit upon a sore spot. "Yeah, yeah..." she muttered, idly smoothing her braided hair.
"You light up the room, to him."
"So it's my turn to ask a question, honey: What in the name of the great wide sky is holding you back?" Bo Peep leaned in closer. "I'll tell you a secret. My heart skipped two beats the moment that space ranger landed in Andy's room a few years ago."
Jessie straightened up her posture, flushing lightly, indignant.
Bo Peep smiled knowingly.
Jessie knew she was cornered now into giving an explanation. "Y'know, I reckon it'd take an awful lot to convince a 'Space Ranger'" – she formed air quotes – "that he don't need to be the hero all the time," she declared abruptly.
Bo smiled and rolled her eyes, recalling a whole storyline's worth of events beyond this proud cowgirl's knowledge.
"He's real sweet an' all, but I just couldn't stand it if he tries to best me at runnin', at shootin', all those things. Or if he tries to rescue me from a pit of piranhas. If any one'a these fellas 'round here thinks someone like me needs savin', I'll show them a thing or two."
Bo's face turned serious. "You know, everyone needs saving...sometime."
Jessie considered this, and became a little more subdued herself. She didn't much like to admit that Woody's gallantry had recently gotten her this far. "Welp, maybe sometime." She suddenly stood up. "I'd best be off now," she said, with a tip of the hat. "But...thanks for takin' the time." After a moment's pause, she decided to extend her hand. "Let's be friends?"
Bo placed a delicate hand in Jessie's, which felt to her almost as large as Woody's hand, and with a grip just as strong.
They shook on it.
Bo returned to her spot on the base of the lamp, and stared into the moon once more, now with a small smile on her lips.
Jessie ran across the floor, a bit giddy with Bo's assessment of her situation, only slightly trying not to let it show now. She swept around a pile of clothes here and leapt over a sock there. Right upon coming to the doorframe, she was somehow staring too blithely ahead, instead of tracing her steps, and she tripped smack into a toy xylophone. She toppled over it, into the hallway, landing with a small "thunk" and a mild curse.
A figure padded up to her in a hurry and bent down to help her up. It was Buzz.
She allowed him to take her arm around his shoulder and assist her to her feet. She flashed a quick grin and dusted herself off.
"Are you all right, Miss?" Buzz inquired in a very serious whisper.
"Jessie. Just call me Jessie," she whispered back in a deep mock-serious tone, punching him on the shoulder for an affirmative answer.
Buzz looked at her, aghast, then smiled very, very widely.
In that moment, Jessie noticed that this seemingly stolid spaceman had actually looked pretty vulnerable himself.
So it goes both ways, she thought to herself. I can maybe live with that.
She suddenly grabbed ahold of the staircase bannister, shimmied up, and began strutting defyingly on the thin width of the railing in the light of the waxing moon. She shot the space toy a challenging smile, just daring him to follow.