"I just don't understand how you could lose a semi. He's huge, Doc."
"Cut me some slack, rookie. It's been a long few weeks."
"Yeah, you're tellin' me."
Lightning shifted uncomfortably as the events of the last four weeks played over in his head. Doc took notice of Lightning's change in position but paid no mind to it. He'd quickly gotten used to to race car's altered disposition. It was rather demoralizing, but Doc understood the territory that came with a crash. He had already experienced it one too many times in his own racing career. The Hornet assumed that Lightning would be back to his own self in time to were just a part of the sport. Lightning knew what he was signing up for, and he would often times mention it to Doc that he was surprised he hadn't had a serious accident yet. One can hope for safety, but more times than often, luck is in no one's favor on the race track.
"Did he at least tell you where he was parked?" Lightning questioned, starting to get impatient.
"Don't get your fenders in a twist, kid. I can't say that I remember what he told me, but Mack is obviously around here somewhere."
Lightning sunk to the ground, his undercarriage uncomfortable against the rough sidewalk. He decided to ignore it. He was starting to feel the effects of the warm, Los Angelos heat.
"You'd think a bright red, 40-ton semi truckwould be rather easy to spot." Lightning retorted while rolling his eyes.
Unfortunately, for the pair, Mack was nowhere in sight. The St. Vincent hospital parking lot was rather spacious. Doc was starting to think that Mack hadn't even shown up to the parking lot yet. He was starting to get impatient as well, for he wanted to get the kid home as soon as possible. He was recovering quickly, but as a doctor and his friend, Doc knew that Lightning would be more comfortable at home and might even make quicker progress.
The racer and mentor had been sitting for almost 20 minutes waiting for Mack. A tense mood had developed between the two but for no apparent reason, but neither had any motivation tobreak the uncomfortable silence.
Much to their relief, the bright red sight of Mack appeared minutes later. Mack's smile was refreshing and filled Doc with comfort. A small smile crept up on his face: he knew that his racer was always in good tires.
The semi slowed to a stop in front of the hospital, honking his horn in no particular rhythm. With a simple 'click', the back door of the trailer opened. Tiny sparks erupted as the metal edge of the door made contact with the concrete.
" 'Bout time Mack. We thought you were nev-"
"Let it go, rook. He's here and that's all that matters. Let's just get you home." Doc interrupted.
Doc gently shoved Lightning's rear toward the truck, not wanting to deal with his complaining.
Mack did a double take towards Lightning, hardly recognizing him in the drab, grey primer. "S-sorry, boss, had to get gas!" Mack boomed.
Lightning turned to the trailer opening and muttered angrily under his breath.
Doc leaned into Mack, "Kid's got an attitude today. Be wary of that."
"Don't worry 'bout it Doc, can't say I'm not used to it." Mack responded quickly.
Doc sniggered at Mack's comment and jokingly thumped his side with his tire. From the side of the trailer opening, Lightning cleared his throat, with a stern glare at both Mack and Doc.
"You know I can hear you guys, right?"
"Obviously...that's why we said it!"
Mack and Doc quickly erupted into a laughter that was not appreciated by the unhappy race car.
Doc's laughter started to diminish as a more genuine expression fell over his face."Just get settled in the trailer, kid. Try and take it easy."
Lightning shot Doc a small smile before backing into the trailer, appreciative of how much he cared. Doc had grown protective of Lightning over the past years, assuming he was the closest person the kid had to a father. McQueen never talked about his family, and Doc didn't press him to. He had heard rumors about a tough childhood and assumed it was a touchy subject for the young race car. He knew Lightning would talk when he was ready. During the crash recovery, Doc often wondered if Lightning's family was even aware of what had occurred. But, whether or not Lightning's family ever came around, Doc would always treat him as if he were his own.
"Give him an easy ride, Mack." Mack nodded in acknowledgement. "I'll see you both at home in a few days."
Lightning poked his hood out of the trailer. "Wait, Doc, are you not driving along with us?" Doc could see the worry in the kid's eyes. He'd gotten accustomed to always having the doctor by his side recently, in case of emergency.
"As your primary, I have to finalize some things here and at the track. I'll arrivehome shortly after you do. You'll be fine until I get there, I promise." Lightning still looked uneasy, but gave a small nod as Doc shot him a reassuring smile. "Drive is roughly eight hours - nothing you can't handle, rookie."
"Yeah, yeah, alright." Lightning responded, backing himself back into the trailer to get settled for the long ride ahead.
Doc backed away from Mack, allowing him enough room to leave. "Have a safe drive, you two."
Lightning closed the trailer door with the press of a button, watching Doc's figure gradually get smaller as Mack pulled away from the hospital entrance. It had just occurred to him that he was finally going home. For once he would be sleeping in his own bedroom, rather than the uncomfortably clinical-feeling hospital room.
The racer was eager to get back to the butte. He planned to begin training again as soon as his body permitted, unbeknownst to Doc. Lightning would not let a crash keep him from racing; although, he was nervous about what was to come with the new season.
Would he be ready in time? Would Storm still give him crap even after the crash? Would he be good enough? The same thoughts littered his brain constantly. It was inevitable that Lightning would eventually not be the fastest, but that didn't mean that it would be easy to handle when the time did come. The overthinking eventually started tohurt his head. Lightning let out a small sigh, let his body's exhaustion take over, and fell into a much-needed sleep.