It's a beautiful sunny day when we find Andy playing in his front yard with his two favourite toys, Woody and Buzz. His mother walks out of their house and gives him the news: He's going to have a play date!
Across town a collector of early 20th century dildos is also playing with his two favourite toys but he is already having a play date so we'll leave him to it. Hmm?
"I just want to play with Buzz and Woody," says Andy (footnote: The collector says this too.)
"Give him a chance, his parents say he's very imaginative," says Andy's Mom.
"Ah Mom, he talks to a stuffed tiger!"
"You talk to your toys too, don't you?"
"Aw, that's different."
"Well...just...ah, okay mom," Andy bows his head.
"I see him, Calvin! Over here," then she turns back to Andy to whisper "Try and play nice, okay sweetie?"
"I know Mom, you don't have to te--"
Calvin walks right up to Andy but then he spins around and hollers at the top of his lungs.
"SUZIE DERKINS IS A BOOGER! A BOOOGER! Right Hobbes?"
"Uh, Calvin? Hi, I'm Andy."
Calvin turns back to Andy and starts mock stage whispering in Hobbes's ear.
"Hobbes, you think we can trust him?"
"You see what I mean, mom?" says Andy. "Do I really have to take him to my room?"
"Why don't you play out here in the yard, okay?" says Andy's mom, but her eyes dart between the two boys and the front door as if it's the emergency hatch to an escape pod.
"Miss Rosalyn told you, didn't she?" says Andy to his Mom.
"Don't listen to her! It wasn't like that, right Hobbes?" says Calvin as he waves his free hand up and down energetically.
"Never mind Calvin, it's a pleasure to meet you and I'm sure the fire was an accident, you boys go have fun."
"But it's Saturday! My cartoons are about to start!" says Andy.
"Manners dear, you'll just have to stream them some other time."
"Okay Mrs. Davis."
Andy's mom goes back inside the house and the two boys and their toys are left alone. Calvin is no longer whispering to Hobbes and he has a big grin on his face.
"Hobbes says you're in!"
"Why G.R.O.S.S. of course, it stands for Get Rid Of Slimy girlS."
"Girls aren't slimy," says Andy
"Did you see that?" says Calvin.
"What? Why are you pointing at Buzz?"
"Have you been out all day already? Sun getting to you Calvin?"
"Hobbes saw it too!"
"Mom! Calvin's being weird!"
"Play on boys!" comes the voice of Andy's Mom from the depths of the house.
"No! I mean weird for Calvin! Weirder than normal I mean!"
"No need to shout, I was just in the kitchen, okay, what is it?" Andy's mom is smiling with her mouth but her brow is furrowed in well-tested patience.
"Andy's toy blinked at me and Hobbes! Well not at us exactly but he blinked!" says Calvin, pointing at Buzz.
"Fine, okay. The two of you, leave your toys on the porch and come inside for a 2 minute time out. Calvin, your father called just now and insisted I take the number of the local poison control center, any idea what that's about? I chenged my mind, I don't want to know. Just come inside and have a sit down in the kitchen with me, is that clear?"
"Aww Mom! Can't we sit in the living room?"
"So you can watch your cartoons? No, this is a time out."
"Aww Mrs. Davis!"
"No discussion! March!" says Mrs. Davis in a passable impression of a drill sergeant. Then her voice softens and she says "also, there's lemonade. Lemonade and a time out, come on."
"I can't leave Hobbes!" says Calvin.
"Buzz and Woody will watch him for you Calvin, no arguing or I'll call your Mother." says Andy
"Hobbes might eat them!"
"Then he'll get indigestion, they're pretty tough, right Andy?"
"Well, if there's lemonade," says Calvin, putting Hobbes down gently on the porch bench. Andy puts down Buzz and Woody next to Hobbes and everyone goes inside. The front screen door slams shut on a rusty spring hinge. There is a clap and clatter and the neighbourhood silence returns, broken only by the occasional songbird or passing car.
The toys lie as they were placed, in ragdoll postures as their articulation and relative softness allows.
"Psst, hey Buzz, are they inside?" says Woody, moving only his lips.
"All clear Woody," says Buzz who then leaps to plant himself in a defensive crouch between Woody and Hobbes.
"Identify yourself intruder!" says Buzz while aiming his toy laser at Hobbes.
"Relax, Buzz," says Woody as he rights himself and steps forward to put a hand on Buzz' shoulder. "I've heard of you, you're that tiger down the road, right? The renegade?"
Buzz drops his arm mounted laser and looks at Woody wide-eyed. When he speaks, his voice is filled with what can only be described as legendary awe.
"Woody! This is the one you were telling me about? The one that talks to his human?"
Hobbes bows while waving his paw in a theatrical loop as if there were a wide brimmed hat at the end of it.
"Hobbes at your service, surely you know I won't eat you, but a can of tuna is always appreciated, allow me to bow."
"Sir, you are--" begins Buzz but can't continue.
"--Just Hobbes, no formalities among us, we are all equally toys, different abilities, equal value, yes?"
"Hobbes, you are an inspiration to toys everywhere." says Woody.
"You can come out to him you know, Andy seems like a good boy," says Hobbes in warm friendly bundle-of-striped-orange-energy tones.
"He's wonderful sir, but how did you do it? The risk? Especially with that boy? We could see the flames from all the way over here." says Buzz.
"Ah yes, the fire. Just a little experiment in transmogrification, we found a new way that didn't work, not the point, the point is Calvin is my human and I love him. We do not choose to whom we are given but we can always choose how much we will love them."
Buzz and Woody stand side by side and take this in. Woody looks down and takes his hat off, then looks at Buzz. Buzz looks back as if to say coming out to Andy is what they want to do more than anything...but can't.
"My helmet is getting foggy, why is my helmet getting foggy?"
"Give us a hug you sentimental spaceman."
Andy flips up Buzz' visor for him.
"You know what happens when you cry in your helmet."
Hobbes reaches over with his long arms and gives them a firm, encouraging hug against his cheek then puts them down gently.
Buzz sniffles and Woody smiles sadly.
"Your hearts are in the right place but they're coming, remember you can tell Andy the truth at any time," says Hobbes.
"Oh, I don't know Mr. Hobbes." says Woody.
"Just Hobbes, Buzz, just Hobbes."
"Yeah, what if he freaks out?" says Buzz.
"The only true regret is indecision, indecision is the way to a meaningless life. Also remember I like tuna and Calvin expects toys to move so he'll catch you out, you'd better hurry up and get him on your side or he'll take action for you."
"He wouldn't dare!" says Buzz.
"Oh my dear Buzz, he would dare. He dares. He wins. One of the many reasons I love him. Also Calvinball."
"Places! They're back!" says Woody who goes limp and flops down onto the seat of the porch bench. Buzz freezes in place and Hobbes simply appears to be nothing more than a stuffed tiger. He hasn't changed but somehow he's different.
The boys come out of the house together. They are laughing and smiling.
The porch door creaks open.
"Your mom's lemonade is pretty good, after I added enough sugar. Come on Andy! Let's play Calvinball!" says Calvin.
"You dumped the whole sugar bowl in it." say Andy, smiling. "I never dared."
The porch door slams shut.
"Tasty?" says Calvin.
"In a rot your teeth kind of way? Uh, what's Calvinball?"
Calvin is about to answer but he turns and picks up Hobbes instead. Buzz falls over. Calvin frowns at Buzz but then he puts his ear to Hobbes' mouth and listens to something only he seems to be able to hear, then he nods and looks at Andy briefly before picking up Buzz and Woody as well.
"I promise." whispers Calvin, then he turns to Andy.
"Hey Andy, wanna play Calvinball? Let me tell you all about it. First off, Hobbes gets to be umpire because he's always umpire, Woody can be the wide receiver and Buzz can be the striker. I'll be Captain and you can be first at bat, how about it?"
"I don't get it," says Andy but his eyes sparkle as if he knowns that whatever happens next, it's going to be interesting. Maybe it's the sugar-bombed lemonade talking.
"Excellent! That means you already understand the rules!"
"Rules?" says Andy. But he's laughing as he runs to the garage to grab his bat, ball and glove.
"Exactly!" says Calvin, "Hey, is that a Lacrosse stick? Bring that too, we can use it."
It's a beautiful sunny day.
p.s. Suzie Derkins is not a booger and someday, if Calvin is quick enough, he's going to marry that girl. They'll name their daughter Rebecca (A.K.A. Bacon) and when she's old enough, she'll get a toy stuffed tiger to fight the monsters under her bed and one day, she'll be on a play date with a little girl who has two old toys, a sheriff and a spaceman, who've been through a lot together.
To all our last reunions. Once more upon a time.