Lightning was suspicious. It wasn't often it happened, but in this case, he knew something was wrong, and knew something was being kept from him. And he also knew it involved Doc, and wasn't good. Everybody was treating him like he pities him, and they were treating Doc different as well.
The town knew of the Rookie's feelings for the older racing legend, and he wasn't ashamed of them. He would scream it from some place very high if he had to. He didn't want to hide who he was from his family.
"Doc?" he asked softly
The older car turned around and smiled weakly at him
"Rookie" he greeted
"uhm... want to go on a drive?" he had to know what was wrong. Nobody wanted to tell him. And driving relaxed them both, so he figured he would bring it up then.
Doc was silent for a moment, then nodded.
They pulled out of the building and Ramone and Sheriff rolled up.
"where are you off to?" Ramone asked
"a drive with the Kid" Doc stated
"Doc that might not be the best idea in your conditio-" Doc furiously hushed them as fiercely as he could.
"Im going for a drive with the Kid" he repeated
The other two were silent as Lightning frowned at Doc, narrowing his eyes in confusion as he stared at the car.
"is everything okay old timer?"
"everything's fine Rookie" Doc said with an undertone of finality as he and Lightning turned and drove away.
When they were out of town Doc sighed
"I know you dragged me out here to talk, so might as well get it over with"
Lightning was silent for a moment. He wasn't going to try and lie, he knew Doc wouldn't believe it. They knew each other too well. Finally he sighed heavily.
"Doc whats going on?"
Lightning glared at him
"that's not what I meant, and you know it" he paused "I mean, what's going on with you? Nobody will tell me..."
"because they don't want you to hurt" Doc murmured
"Doc seriously, you're freaking me out. What's going on?"
"Listen.... Rookie...." Doc looked over at Lightning, his eyes shining with regret "I'm dying. Its a problem with one of my parts"
Lightning choked on his breath and skidded to a stop, still running into a cactus. However he didn't curse, instead whipped around and stared wide eyed at his mentor.
"d-dying?" he squeaked, terror in his tone and Doc winced "how-how can you be dying?!" Lightning noticed the guilt in the older car's eyes and before he could answer said "how long have you known?"
"don't play dumb. how long have you know you're dying?" his voice broke when he said 'dying'
Doc hesitated, then sighed
"around a month... give or take a few days" Lightning backed away from the older car, pain clear in his blue eyes "listen Rookie-" Lightning interrupted him
"you've known for a month?" he exclaimed "and you never told me? yet everybody else knew!" he stared at Doc in silence for a moment "why didn't you tell me?" he finally squeaked
"I didn't want you to hurt" Doc whispered
"what, and you think I'm not hurting now?!" Lightning snapped, and before Doc could reply the Rookie turned and sped away back into town, fighting tears the whole time.
Doc sighed, sinking low on his tires.
"I know you're there Sally"
Sally sighed and pulled up
"I saw Stickers leave" she stated "he was in tears" she paused "you finally told him... didn't you?"
"Kid probably hates me now"
Sally chuckled softly, leaning against the old car
"Doc he doesn't hate you. He loves you. That's why he reacted that way" Doc sighed "You would be just as hurt if he had told you that he was dying" Doc looked horrified and Sally realized her miswording "hes not!" she quickly said "just.... imagine if you were him. How would you feel if you were in love with him, and he told you that, especially a month after everybody else had already known?"
Doc was silent for a moment
"I am in love with the Rookie" Sally looked shocked "I just can't tell him"
"because I'm going to die. Think about it Sally. If he knew, that would make him happy, and it would be that much harder for him when I die..."
Sally nodded at his reasoning
"I guess. But Doc, I think you should tell him." she moved away "I have to get back to the cone. Talk to him" without waiting for an answer she drove away
He was dying. Lightning knew the day was inevitable, but he had hoped Doc would be able to just skip it over. Doc was tough, he always had been. Lightning knew that. The problem was, it wasn't old age, it was a problem with a part. After asking Ramone Lightning realized it was a part he, being a race car, happened to have two of. He gulped as he pushed his way into Docs quarters.
"Doc" he murmured
The older car opened his eyes and glanced over to Lightning, whom was shifting nervously on his tires.
"Kid" he greeted
"I.... I'm sorry. I took that bad..."
Doc chuckled softly
"I would have reacted the same way, if you had told me you were dying..."
Lightning shook his head
"no, I think you would have somehow handled it better than me"
Doc shrugged and Lightning drove over to him, turning around and settling next to the older car.
"you look tired"
"I'm always tired nowadays" Doc sighed
"sleep" Lightning murmured
Doc didn't need to be told twice and leaned gently against the Rookie as he closed his eyes. Lightning smiled softly and waited for Doc to fall asleep before closing his own eyes to sleep.
"Hey Doc" Lightning smiled weakly
"back already rookie?" the car rasped
"I wouldn't have left if you hadn't had Ramone and Red drag me out" Lightning stated, pressing gently against his beloved "I didn't want to leave" Doc was silent "hey Doc?"
"would you be able to transplant the part you need... If you could get one?"
"yes. But nobody has one to give up" he coughed tiredly, sinking low on his tires
"if you give it up you'll die"
"I have two" he stated fiercely "and I refuse to let you die. I... I can't" tears were brimming in Lightnings eyes.
Doc of course knew of the boys feelings towards him, however didn't want to act upon them, even though he felt the same, because he was dying. That would make his passing that much harder on the kid than he knew it already would be.
"hot shot did you even think this over?"
"yes" he answered determinedly "I've been thinking about it all week, and I'm not going to change my mind. I have a chance to save you Doc. I'm going to take it"
Doc was looking at him like he had a clown nose.
"Rookie..." he finally asked "are you sure? I'm old. I've lived my life"
"no you haven't" Lightning snapped "you raced, crashed, then sat here for fifty years. I dont call that 'living your life'." Doc winced and was silent "Doc I can't loose you. I need you"
Doc stared at the Rookie in silence, sighing heavily
"do you know the consequences of this?"
Lightning was silent briefly before finally whispering
"Ramone told me if I give up this part I would have to give up racing..."
"you don't want to do that, Rookie. You love racing"
"but I don't anymore Doc. Without you, whats the point?" he sighed "you're what motivates me. I don't want to race anymore. No matter how this ends, I won't race anymore"
Lightning was embarrassed that he had to talk about his feelings, with the one he loved to make matters worse, but he knew he had to in order to convince Doc.
"I don't know what to say to that..." Doc said truthfully
"Tell me you'll let me save you. Please. I can't loose you. Please, Doc"
Doc stared into the Rookie's eyes, and finally sighed
"thank you, Rookie" he whispered
Lightning's eyes lit up
"I'll get Ramone" he stated before speeding out of the garage
Lightning groaned, every part of him aching. He forced open his eyes and was met by the concerned gaze of Ramone.
"Ramone?" he groaned
"rise and shine" Ramone greeted
"is.... is Doc okay?" he rasped
"we were just in time. If we had waited any longer it would have been too late" Lightning sighed in relief "he's waiting to see you"
"yes. He's been up for three days"
Lightning looked alarmed
"how long have I been out?"
"five days" Ramone replied
"well, that explains why I hurt so much"
"Doc never left your side" Ramone whispered "I finally had Red and Mater drag him out today so I could look you over without him freaking on me"
"he freaked on you?"
"oh yes. See, you weren't breathing a lot, and we were all worried. He wouldn't let anyone near you" he paused "well, anyone but Flo"
Lightning nodded slightly and there was a shout outside
"Im older than you I'll do what I want!" Doc snapped irritatedly
"hi Doc" Lightning yelled
Everything went silent and Doc slowly peeked into the room. When he saw Lightning smiling at him he drove in and parked himself beside the Rookie.
"it's about time you woke up" he smiled "you had us worried"
Ramone left, sensing the need for privacy
"this is Lightning McQueen you're talking about. I can handle anything"
"oh ho ho?" Doc teased "how about racing me?"
Lightning glared at the older car
"Low blow, old timer"
"how are you feeling?"
"I hurt" Lightning groaned as he shifted on his aching tires "I've been immobile for too long"
"fancy a drive?"
"sound's like fun"
The duo sat up on the ledge in front of Wheel Well in perfect silence, content to just gaze out over the scenery. Lightning however, had a question
"Hey Doc?" he asked
He chickened out
"I know what you're going to ask" he stated
"yes. But you aren't getting your answer until you ask"
"oh come on Doc. Seriously?" Lightning whined. Doc chuckled and nodded
"I'm afraid so, hot shot"
"I was going to ask... Sally told me to by the way!" he quickly added "I was going to ask if you.... return my feelings" he mumbled
"what was that?" Doc teased
"Do you return my feelings?" the race car mumbled again
"hmm? Still can't hear you. Speak up hot shot"
"Do you return my feelings?!" Lightning finally exclaimed
Doc chuckled and moved closer to the red car, leaning against him gently
"yes" he murmured "I do"
Lightning grinned, and then lapsed back into a comfortable silence.