Author's Note: After reading quite a few wonderful fics about the friendship between Jessie and Bo, I was inspired to try one myself. I hope you enjoy it!
Darkness surrounded Jessie. She was packed in a small, cramped space. She couldn't see, couldn't move. How long had she been trapped in here? Days? Weeks? Years? She was suffocating even though she knew that toys didn't need air to survive. How much longer-
She jerked awake and sighed deeply with relief as she scanned her surroundings. She was in Andy's bedroom, lying on the floor, curled up against Bullseye. The stuffed horse softly whinnied in his sleep and kicked one of his hooves.
Jessie smiled down at him with affection and stroked his soft, felt mane. Everything is okay, she told herself as she gulped deep breaths in an effort to expunge the memory of that nightmare. Would these dreams ever cease? She had a new home now and had made many friends. Why was she still haunted by those dreams of her memories of being in storage? It wasn't fair!
Moonlight spilled in through Andy's open window, illuminating a part of the room but leaving the rest washed in shadow. The boy was asleep in his bed, clutching both Buzz Lightyear and Woody. The other toys scattered the floor and shelves, sleeping where they had been dropped.
I need to get more air, Jessie thought as she pulled herself to her feet. She was tempted to wake Bullseye and go for a ride but resisted. The poor horse needed his rest. Andy had played with them for hours after his dinner until bedtime. Everyone was exhausted.
Everyone, except for Jessie, who didn't want to risk having another nightmare tonight.
She crept to the door, which stood ajar, her boots padding quietly against the floor. She noticed a light on in Molly's room down the hall and started toward it. The child had to be asleep at this time, Jessie thought. She could sense that none of the humans were awake. Even the dog Buster was sleeping, downstairs.
Jessie had never been in Molly's room and curiosity overtook the residue horrors of her latest dream. She poked her head in, taking note of the child's crib near the window, next to a nightstand upon which stood a lamp. A pastoral scene of fences and sheep decorated its shade. Pictures of Disney characters scattered the pink walls. The room was neat, much more so than Andy's, at any rate.
"Jessie, honey, is that you?" called a gentle voice from beneath the lamp.
Bo Peep? Jessie blinked and looked up. The beautiful porcelain shepherdess stood on the base of that lamp, her crook clutched in one hand and her three joined sheep snoozing at her feet. "Yup, it's me," Jessie whispered back as she fidgeted with her long yarn braid and adjusted her hat. Even though Jessie had been at Andy's for several days now, she had never really gotten to know Bo. The shepherdess lived in Molly's room, except when Andy occasionally borrowed her for his playtimes, but she did come by from time to time, mostly to visit with Woody. Jessie had to admire the way she handled that cowboy and was tempted to ask if she could borrow Bo's crook one day in an effort to snag Buzz. The space ranger was so sweet but, darn it all, he was just too shy, despite his confidence in everything else. Jessie longed to find a way to break him of that.
"Can't you sleep?"
Jessie shook her head and glanced nervously up at Molly's crib. What if they woke the toddler?
"Don't worry," Bo said, as if reading her mind. "Molly's a sound sleeper. Would you like to come up?"
The cowgirl shrugged. "Sure." She scrambled up the leg of a chair, climbed onto its back, and leaped onto the nightstand. She wobbled a bit at the edge, struggling to find her balance until Bo grabbed her hand and pulled her forward. Her hand was small in Jessie's and felt so cool and delicate. Jessie was almost afraid that if she squeezed too hard, she'd break it right off.
"So, what are you doing wandering around at this hour?" Bo leaned on her staff and stared up at Jessie.
Jessie shifted from foot to foot, feeling suddenly self-conscious. She was aware of how big and gawky she must look next to this petite, graceful shepherdess. "I…I was just out for a night stroll."
"Really?" Bo cocked an eyebrow. Jessie felt her face grow warm. "People don't usually wander around in the middle of the night unless something's troubling them. This isn't the first time you've done this since you've been here, is it?"
Jessie shook her head. Bo sure did notice more than she let on. There was no keeping a secret from her.
"Would you like to talk about it?" Bo's tone was soothing. She settled on her lamp's flower-sprinkled base, her lacy, polka-dot dress spreading out around her and motioned for Jessie to join her. The cowgirl shuffled forward and plopped down next to Bo.
"I…I have nightmares at times," Jessie admitted, drawing her knees to her chest and wrapping her arms around them. "But I haven't told anyone, not even Buzz."
"Nightmares?" Bo's blue eyes glinted.
"Yeah." Jessie swallowed. "I'd been in storage for a very long time, before Woody came along and brought us here, to Andy's. It sometimes seems like the harder I try to forget, the more I remember." Her eyes prickled with what must have been tears. Jessie blinked hard in an effort to force them back. Toys seldom cried but tears were possible if the emotions were strong enough. She really didn't want to break down in front of Bo, someone she hardly knew.
"It's all right." Bo placed a slender hand on Jessie's shoulder. "Andy's a good owner. He won't let that happen. He loves you as much as he does Woody and Buzz." She pointed to Jessie's boot.
Jessie lifted her foot and looked at Andy's name printed in ink on the rubber sole. Warmth and melancholy mixed incongruously in her chest.
"But Emily had loved me too."
"Emily?" Bo leaned forward.
"My previous owner." Jessie's eyes now felt heavy with tears she refused to release. Distant memories of being swung from Emily's hands, the fresh smell of summer fields, the sun's comforting warmth teased her mind. "But she outgrew me."
Bo sighed. "Children do grow up. That's something none of us can control." She jerked a thumb in Molly's direction. The child was smiling in her sleep. Her tight blonde curls scattered her pillow. "Someday she will be too old for me and not want me around. But, in the meantime, I am here, keeping her in the light so she can have pleasant dreams. Andy will also eventually grow up but, for now, he needs you. You are very lucky to have been loved by two children."
Jessie thought she detected a wistful catch in Bo's voice. The shepherdess had turned her head slightly. The lamp's light, mixed with that of the gibbous moon, shimmered against her porcelain skin and hair, giving her an almost otherworldly appearance.
A queer feeling stirred within Jessie as Bo's words "…loved by two children" throbbed through her mind. She swallowed and forced out a question she was suddenly dying to ask, yet reluctant to hear the answer to. "Don't Andy and Molly love you?"
Bo turned back to Jessie. Her lips curved into a sad smile. She shook her head slowly. "I wouldn't say that. I'm a lamp decoration, not a toy. My main purpose is to look pretty and provide light, not to be played with. Still, I have to admit that I experience the same joy you all must when Andy does play with me. It doesn't really matter that I never get to be the hero like you and Buzz and Woody. Even if I'm just a damsel in distress or an extra bystander, I'm still a part of Andy's stories, his imagination." She was staring up at Jessie, her eyes sparkling. "That's what's really important. Although," she added with a laugh, "I guess I really should count myself lucky that he hasn't broken me into a million pieces by now with all he's put me through."
A shiver passed through Jessie but she caught herself laughing along with Bo. "Don't say that!"
"But it's true. I am made of porcelain and if I'm ever dropped or knocked against a wall—"
"Don't even think that!" Jessie exclaimed, waking Bo's sheep. All three heads looked in her direction and bleated indignantly. "Oops!" Jessie giggled and pressed a hand to her lips. "Sorry about that."
"Not to worry." Bo pulled the sheep into her lap and patted their heads until they quieted. "See. They're really quite behaved.
"In all seriousness," Bo continued once her sheep had dozed off again, "you really shouldn't worry about Andy. He's a great kid and it will be a long time before he outgrows you. Enjoy this time and quit fretting about the past."
"Thanks, Bo," Jessie whispered around the lump that had suddenly formed in her throat. She glanced at the window. The moonlight had faded, replaced by the soft gray of predawn. "I'd better be getting back to Andy's room." She rose to her feet. Bo gingerly moved aside her sheep and did likewise. "I'm sorry I kept you up."
Bo smiled up at her. "Don't worry about it. I don't sleep much. Just remember that my light is always on whenever you have those pesky nightmares."
Jessie drew Bo into a tight embrace. Her slender body felt so fragile, so breakable that the cowgirl instantly pulled back. "I'm so sorry. I didn't hurt you, did I?"
Bo chuckled. "I'm a lot tougher than I look, Jessie dear."
"Well." Jessie felt momentarily awkward. She twisted the tip of her braid. "I reckon I'll see you again real soon." Her gaze drifted to Bo's blue crook that was lying beside the lamp's base. "Would you mind if I borrowed that? It seems to work so well on Woody that I thought I might try it out on Buzz."
Bo giggled as she grabbed her staff and handed it to Jessie. "Good luck."
"Thanks. I'll need it." She tipped her hat at Bo then, clutching the crook, turned and leaped off the nightstand.