The next morning came by quicker than Jessie hoped it would. For the first time since arriving at this Museum, she awoke with brighter hopes for the day ahead. Finally, she had a plan. All she needed now was Pete's pickaxe, and she could retrieve this easily enough whilst Pete was sleeping at night. Then, she would check that vent, get it open and, finally, catch a glimpse of what was on the other side. If she was lucky - and the chances were in her favour - then that was her ticket to escape.
She just needed this exact opportunity. That was all she needed, if she wanted to get Bullseye out of here. She didn't care about the personal cost, how severe or shocking they might happen to be, as long as she could go through with this for him.
"Another day," Pete articulated as the caretakers busied themselves with readying the Space to the Max display after their own curtains had been parted. "Just great."
Jessie couldn't resist the slightest smile. She had every chance of getting out of here, and Pete was miserable. What more could she ask for?
A few moments passed in silence, waiting for the next day to begin. Jessie heard a shuffling by her side from Woody uneasily shifting on the spot. She risked a small glance to her side, where she spotted him standing limp and idle against his support stand, smiling that same inanimate smile she'd expected to see from the very first day she'd heard of Woody's Roundup. Ever since she found out about Japan, she awaited a day just like this. Standing behind glass, next to Woody and Bullseye and Pete, just waiting. For what - or why - she didn't know. She believed admiration - or renown or ardour - were thrown about in there somewhere.
The museum doors opened to the public. Within minutes, persons from all walks of life came sauntering in. The previous days were retold. Everything felt the same to her, like someone had reiterated the first day over and over again.
But this has to be different.
It's going to be different. I just know it will be!
The flashing lights continued to snap and click, blinding the set with ensnaring white light. This was nothing like she had anticipated. Not at all.
"I never liked Western films."
Then, these exact words were said in a different language. By a child.
Just a few hours. That's all. Then you're free!
"Whoa! It's Space to the Max! I love this show!"
She could literally feel vibes of utter abhor emanate from Pete, but still he remained motionless in the spot.
The rest of the day proceeded as followed.
The office-room doors ahead of Konishi crashed open.
"What's this all about?" demanded a furious Al at ten o'clock on the dot that morning, heavy bags drooping underneath his eyes and his glower distasteful as he caught Konishi's eye. Konishi stood up from his desk, fixing the creases in his suit with the palm of his left hand seeming quite unfazed.
"Ah, Mister McWhiggan, you came," said Konishi courteously, offering his hand in kind gesture. Al blinked blankly at him and stopped in his tracks; he hadn't expected this kind of a reaction from him at all.
"Sure as heck I did!" Al marched right up to Konishi's desk, leaning forward quite considerably into the manager's personal space. "I had to miss my flight because of this! And I can't sleep on Japanese time, not with my body-clock. So you better have a good reason for dragging me all the way out here."
Waiting a minute to make sure Al's said the last of what he was going to say, Konishi composed himself quite formally, brushing down a small crease in his suit. Al scowled. These darn businessmen. They think they know everything! "My apologies for causing you any inconvenience, sir, but as you know, I invited-"
"More like blackmailed-"
Konishi smiled at him sincerely, "I invited you to come here today so we can sort the matter brought to my attention yesterday. I'm sure you remember what it is, Mister McWhiggan." Al folded his arms dejectedly, reluctant to talk. "We talked about it only last night."
A snobbish smirk stretched wickedly upon Al's face, "Well, unfortunately, I don't have much of a memory. So you better start reminding me, pal."
"Very well," Konishi said calmly, seeming to take the matter only lightly. "A woman from the United States contacted me yesterday-"
"You've already said this!"
"-claiming that one of the collectibles in your set was stolen."
"Lies! She has no evidence!" Al exclaimed, standing quite suddenly knocking Konishi's desk back slightly. The manager was taken aback by this, and almost fell backwards in his own seat until he regained some hold on his chair.
"Mister McWhiggan!" Konishi articulated. "What is the meaning of this? I do not understand-"
"That person was lying! I wouldn't do such a thing! I'll have you know I'm a very kind and respectable man!"
"Perhaps so," said Konishi, unfazed by Al's provocative demeanour. "But there's still the problem with that woman and her toy."
"What do I care? You brought me here for that?!" demanded Al, groaning and leaning dangerously back in his seat. "It's a stupid toy. She should learn to get over it."
The manager tilted his head to the side, "I fear she might sue my company."
"Not my problem."
"That would result me in suspending your collection immediately from display-"
Al cocked his head, "What? You can't do something like that!" he exclaimed, as though he'd just been stuck at the wrong end of the most personal insult. With widened and gorging eyes from Konishi's words, he touched the legs of the chair to the ground.
"I might have to resort to that-"
"You will not!" The manager blinked in response to the sudden outburst, for the first time quite unfazed by Al's doings. "Do you understand how much that set means? Do you understand how long I had to work to complete that collection?" Al breathed in and out deeply, like a ravenous predator recovering from chase. "Well? Do you? Decades worth of searching and looking! Back when I had hair and a permitted library membership!"
"I know you've had trouble, sir - all the collectors did."
"But that's not the point!" Al intercepted. "I worked my butt off for this set, and you are not getting rid of them that easily! No way!"
The smile on Konishi's face wavered slightly. "Well, you see, that's the problem we have, sir."
"My company have had numerous complaints from customers who think that - well - the collection is incomplete."
Al blinked. "What?"
"One customer told me personally that he thought a brand of merchandise was missing from the set."
"What are talking about?" questioned Al, disgruntled. "That makes no sense. Of course I have all the set! All the issues of the magazines, every single video, the music soundtrack records, the Woody's Roundup encyclopaedia's, the dolls, the comics and even a god-damn yoyo! You just name it."
His small smile as persistent as ever, Konishi reached down and pulled open one of his desk drawers. Al watched him sceptically, "What are you doing?" he asked, perplexedly.
"Just retrieving something you might find of interest."
Al raised a brow. "Like what?"
"Ah," muttered Konishi, successfully locating what he'd been looking for and pulling it free. Closing the drawer and looking back to Al, he passed a small parchment across the desk. "This."
"What is it?"
"A customer filled in a form at the exit yesterday," he said. "It asks our customers for their opinions on our displays."
The man seemed unfazed, "So?"
"Well, this man was the customer who thought your collection was incomplete."
"But it's not!" exclaimed Al.
"Just read this," Konishi said, promptly. Reluctantly, Al snatched the document off of the manager and levelled it underneath his eyes with his grubby fingers. His waterlogged eyes darted from side to side, his brows crunching together in disbelief.
After a moment, he said, "I can't read this! I don't read Japanese."
Konishi nodded and seized the paper from him with a small smile. "My mistake, mister. He said he thought there was a selection of merchandise missing from the set."
"It's not missing anything!"
"Products released after the show was cancelled."
"What products?" Al probed, lifting an eyebrow looking very confounded. Though he tried not to seem too insulted by the bizarre claims this man was making, he couldn't help but feel truly disgraced inside. He'd spent many years of his life on this project. How would he be missing - or, for the matter, not know what it was - something? I have everything there's there to get! Don't tell me I'm missing something!"
Konishi waited until after he was sure Al was finished with his rant before coughing lightly into his fist, "Apparently - now I don't know if this is true - the writers of the show admitted afterwards that they had plans to pair two of the main characters together from your collection." Al blinked incredulously. Konishi studied the document in his hands further. "1968 apparently."
"Pete and Bullseye?" probed Al, drawing back slightly. "That's sick! Who would pair them?"
"Not them - an apparent Woody and Jessie, according to this customer. I'd advise you take further caution into this matter, Mister McWhiggan. I wouldn't want to have to demand my money back."
The furious man shook his head, "Thanks a lot. I missed my plane and for what? Just to deal with this?" Al stood up, shifting the desk back towards Konishi by a couple of inches. The deliberated acrimony in his eyes was now perilously close to resentment as he stared the manager down. "I've had it. I'll go check the collection myself, shall I, and prove that everything is where it should be?"
"If you wish, sir, but I highly-"
"Then, good day!" Exclaimed Al, colliding his fist with the table. Before the manager could even think of a protest, Al was charging away from him towards the office door. And then, only after a split moment, the office door was slammed to a shut and Al was gone, out of sight.
Konishi shrugged, and then began to straighten the piles of paperwork on his desk with an habitual cheer.
"What was he talking about?" came an outburst from near the exhibit doors. Several people stepped back from the commotion, eyes puzzled and expressions slightly agape as a plump, raging, blundering man stormed through into the exhibit room, completely outraged with his hands folded across his chest. "What does he think? Damn it - I'll show him."
At the corner of Woody's eye, he caught the slightest glimpse of the last person he expected to see.
A mental cordon dropped completely inside him, flushing him with the urge to regenerate and blink cynically at the sight. It's Al… Exactly as Woody remembered him. In the same fifties-styled stain-dyed shirt and pants that were perhaps one size too small for the very stout businessman. The only detail that seemed any different from how Woody remembered him from a few nights before was the fact that Al was perhaps still shunning the shower he'd meant to get almost four nights before. Woody could practically smell him, even from within the display case.
"That's right. And he'll be sorry he ever crossed me," snorted Al, shunting his way through a group of small children. Many glowers were stolen in his direction, but he took little to no notice of this. It was time to get down to business. "I'll show him!"
Only after a split moment was he there, standing apoplectically before his very own set of collectibles. Woody felt nerves rise within him - this wasn't right. Al shouldn't be back. No - he should be thousands of miles away from here, covered in cheese puffs and passed out on the couch. Not here, especially, cross and serious and staring at the toys like he even he couldn't fathom what ludicrous acts he might do next.
Al was definitely up to something, and it was up to Woody to find out.
He shook his head, clenching his fists together tightly. "I'll show h-" Al went to say, but was stopped in his tracks when he was caught by his sleeves and hauled very unwillingly to the sides.
"What-?" It was a security guard, come to ward him away from the civilians. Al stared at him, bewildered. "What are you doing?"
The security guard started to usher him away towards the exit, yelling at him in a language Al clearly didn't understand. He persisted in throttling himself from side to side in attempt to release himself from this man's grip, but to no avail. The guard was too strong.
"What are you doing?!" Al demanded, now anxious to escape. The guard did nothing but retaliate him in Japanese. "Let me go! I don't speak Japanese!" Al cocked his head over his left shoulder, looking back at Woody's Roundup with a very vacuous lustre in his eyes. "I said let me go! Do you know who you're messing with?"
A couple turned their heads in the direction of Al and the security guard. Undoubtedly, they were rather perplexed by the situation seeming only to vaguely understand what was going on. Puzzled at the sight, they shrugged and stalked away in the opposite direction wanting little to do with the happenings. It turned out they weren't the only ones acting by that motion, for there were several flustered and busy parents now ushering their children away from the area to not be witness to such atrocious behaviour.
"I said let go of me!" Al retorted, finally weaselling his way free from the guard's grip. He gyrated around abruptly in disgust, a wicked scowl perched on his face frowning at the man across from him. Al balled his fists, about to retaliate under the guard stepped forward in warning. "Okay! Okay! I'm going! I'm going!" Exclaiming Al, groaning and turning away.
Konishi was standing right in front of him.
"Konishi?" Al muttered in surprise, balling his fists together even harder. "What are you doing here? I thought you were too busy dealing with customer complaints?"
"I just happened to walk by and heard all this commotion by this exhibit," said Konishi.
Al folded his arms, "Don't make an idiot about me. You know this is the only exhibit room on the floor!"
Konishi just smiled, shaking his head at the security guard when he tried to advance on Al. Speaking a few words to him in Japanese, the guard briskly nodded and stalked away.
"What seems to be the problem?" The Manager asked.
"I just came over here to see how you set all this stuff up," said Al distastefully. "Do you have a problem with that?"
"Not at all," Konishi said. "In fact, I'd be glad to let you come privately after hours to examine them for yourself."
Al grimaced, "Fine. That's what I'll do," he said, walking backwards towards the exit. "You see me? I'm leaving. Coming back later."
"See you then," said Konishi with a courteous smile.
He turned around, cursing under his breath as the Roundup Gang anxiously watched him walk away and out of their sights.
"Now, if you'll all look to your left, you'll spot the Kaiba Industrial Warehouse." Several oohs and ahs emanated from the impressed crowd as they all looked left out of the vehicle window and to a small squared section of land where a construction service was perched working hard around an even smaller boxed building. "This company was founded in the late nineteenth century by a one Konotao Kaiba with the initial intention to supply power and electricity all throughout Japan," continued the tour-guide, standing at the very front of the tour-bus in her black and white uniform.
As the bus came to a small stop in the road, she reiterated the entire saying again in a variety of other different languages. Meanwhile, Buzz was forced to brace himself very determinedly against the halting motion of the vehicle as he slid slightly across the floor, afraid he'd skid quite unwillingly right from his hiding place underneath the bus seats. In a frantic panic to regain stability, he clambered forward on his knees to the back leg of the bus seat, holding tight to keep steady.
"Unfortunately," the tour-guide went on to say. "Due to the introduction of frequent and more successful corporations in recent years, demand for this company's resources became limited to only upstate Tokyo. Currently, an extension of the building is under construction in order to replace their main power server in future times."
Then, she iterated herself in all the other languages. Meanwhile as the bus set back in motion, Buzz was forced to hold on even dearer to keep himself steady.
"Now, if you'll look ahead, you'll find Tokyo Football stadium…"
"Mommy?" A small girl asked. Buzz judged she must be only a few seats away from him. "When will we get to the Toy Museum? I want to see the toys!"
"Not until the end of the day, sweetie," replied the mother. Buzz strained to hear what they would say next, though took caution to keep himself steadily in place. "There's a lot left to see on this trip."
Buzz jerked forward slightly as the bus hit a bump in the road. A slight scampering and scurry of feet began to echo as the bus's halted motion continued to carry forward from underneath the seat right into the aisle.
His inner sense went berserk, flurrying madly when his cover was stripped from him. Only when the bus had come to a complete stop did he truly come to his senses, and realize the dreadful predicament he was a mere moment away from entering.
"Mommy! Mommy!" Exclaimed a child's voice. Only after a few moments, did Buzz catch sight of a small girl bending down to take him In her arms. "A Buzz Lightyear! You said these were all sold out!"
Buzz spotted the mother only a few moments later, slowly standing up from her seat paying little visual attention to the girl. "Yes, that's lovely, Keira. Just get ready to go," she said, watching the rest o the passengers make to their feet and step into the aisle to head down to the bus's exit. "We're getting off now."
"Okay, Mommy," said the girl with a small cheer. Buzz's panic senses were overloading, and soon were out of control by the time the girl unzipped a rucksack by her side. "I'm going to take you home with me," the girl whispered happily to the Space Ranger. "We're going to have so much fun! I have all the other Star Command toys!"
Then, before Buzz could even fully acknowledge what had just happened, the girl named Keira tossed him into her rucksack, and zipped her back up. Alongside her mother, she moved into the aisle to head down the bus, almost walking into several other children as she went along.
"Oh…don't you just feel a little bit bad for spying on them?" Rex asked timidly, dancing around anxiously on the spot.
Mrs. Potato-Head waved the notion off with a small shake of her head, "Nonsense, love. We're not spying on them, this is perfectly acceptable." She said, not averting her eyes from the duo as they played chess at the far end of the room by Andy's drawers.
"But they just want to play their game in peace!" he said in a frantic whisper. His pin-point eyes were fretful and worried, like he didn't agree with their practices one bit. "I feel like I'm intruding on their privacy!"
"Then just go and I'll look on my own," she said, nonchalantly. "I don't mind if you stay or not. I'm just wondering why they're playing their game alone."
"It's only a two-player game."
"But why are they playing it together?" asked Mrs. Potato-Head thoughtfully, rubbing her chin with her finger. "They could play the game with any of us."
"Aw, just forget it, will ya?" Mrs. Potato-Head and Rex turned towards the source of the new voice to spot Mr. Potato-Head joining their sides. "Besides, they're the only two in this room who know how to play that game. They're just passing the time."
"But together?" she questioned of the matter, frowning slightly. "I just don't get it. I know it's none of my business, but why is she moving on so quickly? Does she not think that Buzz will bring Woody back?"
Mr Potato-Head chortled, "You've got me. No one knows what on earth she's thinking half the time."
Regrettably, Mrs. Potato-Head sighed, slowly averting her eyes away from Hamm and Bo and turning towards her counterpart husband. "But she wouldn't think that would she? That Buzz isn't going to bring Woody back?" she sighed heavily, crossing her arms like she happened to know better of the situation. "Bo's out of her mind to think Woody isn't going to bring Woody back. Buzz always brings Woody back, doesn't he?"
"Yeah," satirized the spud. "From the dog in the yard, perhaps. Not from Japan. They've gotta be a hundred miles away from here at least!"
"Actually - the exact distance is more around six-thousand-five-hundred miles - depending on the route you take, of course," said Hamm, who suddenly appeared at Mr. Potato-Head's side. "Though, I'd have to say, you'd probably be travelling farther on a flight depending on the latitude of the wind."
The three of them were gaping at Hamm with open expressions, not having expected him to appear so suddenly in the slightest. "Hamm?" Probed Mrs. Potato-Head, blinking at who she was seeing.
"What are you doing here?" asked Rex very anxiously.
Hamm stared back mutually, puzzled. "What am I doing here?" he iterated as he blinked. "I don't get it."
"You weren't here just before!" Rex exclaimed, walking backwards slightly like he'd just seen a ghost. Fortunately, this wasn't the slightest bit new to Hamm. Rex can easily be scared of his own reflection. "You were playing checkers with Bo! You weren't here!"
Hamm arched an eyebrow. "Guys, were you spying on me?"
Mr. Potato-Head stepped in. "What?" he iterated, chortling with exaggeration. "That's absurd! We wouldn't spy on you! Never!" he proclaimed as he threw a very impetuous glare in his wife's direction. "That's just ludicrous."
"Yeah," Mrs. Potato-Head concurred. "We weren't spying on you. We were - uh…." -she caught sight of Andy's bookcase beyond the checkers board- "Trying to see what kinds of books Andy has! We're all in a reading mood at the moment."
Shifting his head slightly to wear Mrs. Potato-Head was pointing, Hamm frowned, "Then why didn't you just walk over there? The bookcase is only across the room. You can just walk over there, you know?"
Mrs. Potato-Head's oval-like eyes widened to their extent. Casting them to her husband, she abruptly took his hand and stuttered, "Can't talk now, Hamm, we have to see the children. Quick, quick, quick!" Mrs. Potato-Head had already made it her business to 'adopt' and mother the three new aliens toys in Andy's room. Ever since then (bar from obsessing about the interaction between Bo and Hamm), she hadn't been able to keep her eyes off of them. "They need parent-child bonding time!"
The two of them were off like a shot, an anxious Rex chasing off behind them. "Hey, guys, wait! Don't leave me behind!"
The piggy-bank stared off after them not too sure what to make of the previous occurrence. Eventually, after a few moments of hesitation, he decided to mentally resolve the matter and shook his head. Turning around, he headed in the opposite direction, almost walking straight into Bo.
"Bo?" Said Hamm, suddenly. She paused quickly in her tracks, having not been looking where she was heading. "I thought you were going to Molly's room?"
Bo blinked, shaking her head, "No - the door's closed, unfortunately." Bo muttered heavy-heartedly. She stilled her hands around her blue crook, planting it firmly in place, allowing Hamm the time to notice that she was no longer fiddling with the ends. She's finally starting to calm down? "I guess I'll just have to spend the rest of my time in here." She turned her head slightly in the direction of where Mr. and Mrs. Potato-Head had just left Hamm's presence. "Do they know? You know, of what we're doing?" she asked, perhaps afraid that Hamm had let something slip.
"What?" Hamm probed. "No. They don't know a word. At least, I don't think so - unless Slinky let something slip. Though…they have been acting very strange."
"Do you think they're coming onto us?"
"There's nothing to lead them on," said Hamm, sighing. "But I don't know. They've done stranger things. You should see how they play Cluedo. It's Professor Plum every time - because they don't like his bow-tie, I believe. Not to mention how they always seem to be comparing me up to Freddie the garden gnome."
Bo tilted her head, "Well, you've definitely got a point there."
"Tell me about-"
A piercing ringing echoed from downstairs, cutting through what Hamm had to say. With a very curious glint in his expression, he looked back to Bo who seemed to be questioning the same matter as he. "Is mom home?"
Hamm shrugged, "I don't think so. She should be shopping, I think."
A quiet moment passed between them. Then, just as Hamm was ready to walk away and challenge Slinky to a game of chess, Bo's cerulean eyes jolted to their extent. "Hamm, do you think it could be the museum manager?" she asked in a very careful whisper, in case anyone should be nearby to overhear them.
"It could be."
"Did he say he'd call back?" Bo asked hopefully.
"I have no idea," Hamm admitted, looking completely stumped. They both did remain stumped for a moment in contemplation, until the ringing eventually diminished.
"That could have been him…" Bo said insightfully. "I think one of us should wait by the house-phone - in case he should call us back."
"Okay. But what about the others?" Hamm questioned, raising a brow. "I think they're starting to get suspicious of us."
Bo frowned in her thought. Then, a few moments later in a sudden spark of rejuvenation, looked back to Hamm, "I'll go. You can tell them I'm looking for my sheep."
"But your sheep are with the aliens-"
"I don't know that," said Bo with a flattering wink, starting to walk away.
Hamm sighed dejectedly, and ambled off in the opposite direction.