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My Brave Cowgirl

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It took close to ten minutes to decide on finishing the movie and half as long to find where in it the toys had left off. While they gathered in front of the laptop eagerly, with Mr. Potato Head complaining loudly about Betsy only to be shushed by the others as they became glued to the screen, Buzz left them to their fun. He'd noticed Jessie had slipped quietly off to Bonnie's unzipped bag at the beginning of the argument; she hadn't returned. Now he made his way over to the bag and peeked inside.

The corners of his mouth softened into a tiny smile as he spotted Jessie curled up in a ball in a corner, knees against her chest, her arms cushioning her head, snoring quietly. His smile widening, Buzz shook his head and climbed inside the bag. They all had had a long, sleepless night – particularly Jessie. She deserved her rest.

Everything had happened so fast, one thing after another, that Buzz had hardly had time to take it all in. Except for Jessie. Aware of her presence, unease, and fear (it'd started with becoming stuck in the tool box), he'd reassured her everything would be okay.

He had been concerned about her and, yes, scared for her, too. When he'd been locked in the glass case with the other toys, cold dread had hung over Buzz for the immeasurable time Jessie was unaccounted for, wondering where she was, what was happening to her, whether she was safe. Mr. Pricklepants discussing possible hair-rising scenarios concerning their cowgirl (mine! he'd silently corrected) had not helped matters. And later when she'd become taped up inside the box while trying to save Woody, Buzz's heart had dropped. For an instant he feared he would never see her (and Woody) ever again.

She – both of them – came back. Her smile was wide and brilliant, head held high, eyes sparkling with pride and excitement. Never had she looked lovelier. She had done it. And in the end she had saved all of them in the nick of time.

Buzz sighed deeply, the lingering memories of his fear and worry sliding away into obliviousness. He approached the sleeping cowgirl and slowly sat down beside her. His ears caught a muffled whimper against her sleeve. Her head moved restlessly, a shiver running through her body.

Eyes darkening, Buzz swiftly, carefully, wrapped his arm around Jessie and drew her into his side. Brushing her bright red hair with his other hand, he made gentle shushing sounds in the back of his throat.

"Shhhh. It is okay, Jessie. Shhhh," he reassured in a low tone. "Everything is okay, thanks to you, my brave cowgirl. You are safe and sound." Tenderly he kissed the top of her head.

He missed the peaceful smile which touched Jessie's face. But he did note how her body relaxed and she snuggled into him.

A breathed sleepy whisper: "Always with you, Buzz."

Blushing, the space ranger simply hugged the cowgirl closer and kept watch as she slept.