Long time no see.

The sound of the door creak jolted the redhead into awareness. Slowly opening her hands on her midsection, she noted the beams through the blinds adjacent to her bed reflected on her palms. As she took a deep breath, she winced at the soreness of her injured body. She mumbled mindless phrases to herself, a daily routine she has developed since adolescence whenever she awoke from rest, and noticed a dim figure being outlined by the windows. Squinting to readjust her slumber vision, she caught eye contact and grunted. She grumbled another slew of words, this time in hopes for her visitor to hear.

"Tarnations, forgot where I was for a moment," she noted, stretching out her arm. "Go ahead, draw it out." The man grinned and reached for the stool that had been set under the bed.

"You're certainly getting use to this hospital thing fast now, aren't ya?" his warm voice questioned as he supported her arm with his grip.

"Well, I've had who knows how many blood tests done to me already in less than eighteen hours," she jested half-heartedly, turning her head away from the nurse. "Yet I still can't watch it," she added with a forced giggle, slightly shivering at the coolness of the alcohol swab rubbed on her skin. Rubbing her forehead with her index finger and thumb, she closed her eyes again as felt the prick of the needle.

"Your brother is downstairs in the cafeteria getting food for the both of you," he informed.

"Woody's here?" she asked, raising her eyebrows as she turned her head to look his direction. "For how long?" As the man ran his fingers through his curly, blonde hair, he held his wrist to his face, reading his watch.

"It's 11:03 in the morning now," he calculated, "So he arrived about two hours ago. He checked on your condition with the nurses and went straight to your room." A grin expanded across Jessie's expression as her thoughts brought her brother to her mind. "I take it that you two are close?"

"You bet," she gleefully answered, tilting her chin up slightly. Her eyebrows then furrowed, creasing her forehead in concern. "Mind if I call ya Buttercup?" The orderly gently pulled the medical instrument from her arm and quick exchanged the syringe with a cotton swab to press down against her forearm. A sense of minute shock rose to his face as he dismissed a chuckle.


"Yeah," her feeble voice murmured. "It'll make me feel better." Buttercup moved his head slightly to the left and pursed his lips, evaluating his new nickname.

"Alright, Buttercup it is Miss…?"

"Shouldn't my name be on the clipboard?" The blonde stick up his index finger and waved it in the air majestically.

"Uh-uh, I get to have the privilege of having an outrageous nickname and you don't? Now that's not fair."

"Call me Jessie. Or Jess if you really want to be out there." The man stared at her for a moment.

"I'll think of something for you," he promised, pushing his stool back away from her bed. "Jessie." The cowgirl's emerald orbs traced the ceiling tile, her lips parting slightly. Her breathing was slow and quiet, a contrast with the machines emitting beeping sounds surrounding her. Looking at Buttercup again, her relaxed jaw clenched. "What, do you rather me call you Jess?" he joked, leaning towards her. Opening her mouth again, her eyes searched the room frantically.

"H-how am I doin'? Am I getting' better?" Buttercup's face fell softly, but the warmness in his visage remained intact.

"Your condition is the same as when you first got in, Jessie. Are you feeling alright?" She shook her head once, biting her bottom lip.

"Have you ever seen a patient…die here before?" He place a bandage on her, choosing his words carefully. A long pause filled up the space between them.

"No hospital is perfect, Jessie," Buttercup responded openly, reaching for her pale hand. "But we are giving you the remedies and care you need. We are all rooting for you, just like we do with each and every individual we have and will treat." Their attention was brought towards the sound of the door handle being jiggled. A familiar slender frame stood in the doorway carefully balancing two trays of assorted dishes. Jessie lit up at the sight of her brother wearing his trademark cowboy hat. Boy, had she missed that hat.

"Hey howdy hey," Woody greeted, closing the door with his boot. It's about time that military character of his broke down, Jessie thought to herself noticing her brother bracing his country roots again. "Okey dokey," he murmured, setting down the trays on the table in front of him. Butter immediately jumps to catch the other tray that had almost slipped from Woody's grasp. "Boy that was a close one!" he exclaimed, then turning to his sister. He pulled off the tops of the food containers and kissed the air. "Wah-la! It may not be Momma's home cooking, but it certainly beats the military food we had to stuff down our throats." Buttercup excused himself out of the room and Woody listed the dishes he brought. "There's a nice ham sandwich, some peas, a peach and to top it all off, banana pudding." Come to think of it, Jessie had started to feel hunger pains

"I take it you haven't eaten since yesterday?" Woody kidded, witnessing his sister devouring her sandwich.

"I wahs savin' muh energy fuh thish moment," she admitted, trying not to spit the lettuce at Woody. A smirk came across his face as her watched his sister. Leisurely, he unzipped his coat and dug his hand into his pocket. Revealing a letter to Jessie, he held it out so that she can read the name. Buzz. As she swallowed her food, she snatched the envelope from his hand and unexpectedly held it up to the light.

"He told me that you're angry at him," Woody whispered. She tossed the letter onto the chair next to her bed, opening the packet of plastic utensils in front of her. "Gonna respond?" She glanced at him and poked at her peas.

"Funny," she said, pushing out a giggle, "Remember when I was little and I never wanted to eat peas because I thought that they were cut up caterpillars? Even growin' up, that image disturbed me. It wasn't until recently when I decided to give them a try. Can't say they're my favorite or anythin', but I can tolerate them. Interestin' that you would still give them to me, though." She looked up at Woody again, seeing that he still held the same expression. She fixated her glare on his plate, his food untouched. "Woody, you really should eat. You don't wanna get any thinner, now."

"Are you going to respond to him? Or to my previous question, if at all?" He knew how his sister was. She could hold the best grudges that he ever knew. Usually they were misunderstandings, too. She makes assumptions, interpreting how others felt and react in certain situations. Her imagination was creative and broad, but sometimes to her disadvantage. However, unexpectedly, seeing the brims of her eyes shine, he tensed up. Her vulnerability was nothing like he had ever seen. Her lips were striking, almost a shade of crimson, that stood out from her fragile cheeks.

"I…I don't want to talk about it," she squeaked. Gently pushing the rolling table from her lap, she declared that she had lost her appetite.

"Jess, I-"

"You didn't do anything wrong, Woody." She slipped her arms around his torso and rested her head on his shoulder. "Promise…promise you'll never leave me?" Woody pressed his lips in her hair.

"I won't leave you, Jessie. I never abandon the ones I love." Suddenly he felt her body form into his with a sigh of relief.

Just a filler chapter. I'm trying to get into the groove of things again :-)