|When Life Gives You Lemons
Author: DodgeSuperBee PM
Pushed to the margins of vehicular society, barely getting by as a day laborer and living in a cheap apartment over a laundromat, Grem is drawn into Professor Zundapp's clandestine world of espionage.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Angst - Grem & Acer - Chapters: 19 - Words: 48,069 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 03-15-13 - Published: 02-23-11 - id: 6770265
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
When Life Gives You Lemons
Rating: T for violence, mild swearing, suggestive language, sensuality and bullying/emotional trauma.
Setting: Spanning a timeline from the 2005 racing season (shortly before the events of Cars) and running through 2011 (the events at the end of Cars 2)
Summary: Pushed to the margins of vehicular society, barely getting by as a day laborer and living in a cheap apartment over a laundromat, Grem is drawn into Professor Zundapp's clandestine world of espionage.
Author's Note: This fanfiction predates the release of Cars 2, and creative license was taken with the central character of this fanfiction since little was known about him at the time, aside from a brief character description and an appearance in the trailer.
Cars and all canon characters are the property of Disney-Pixar. Donna Pits is a minor canon character; she's one of the groupies in the Rust-Eze tent.
You are free to use any original characters from this fanfiction in your own work (fanfiction, art, etc.) if you'd like.
Grem thought he had heard it all, but cruelty knew no creative limits and every time he least expected it, someone would come up with a new insult to throw his way.
"Hey, I used to have a paint job just like that - until I got a job!"
"Tell me honestly, when was the last time you read the fine print on a tube of Rust-Eze?"
"A little fashion advice: pick one shade of primer and stick with it!"
And that was just during today's commute to work. It was nothing he wasn't used to, and depending on his mood at the time and the horsepower of the vehicle doing the taunting, he would either drive on in silence, roll his eyes or occasionally respond with an obscene gesture of his antenna. Today had definitely been a "drive on in silence" type of day, and when the Gremlin arrived at the day labor office, he was grateful when the heavy door slammed behind him, separating him from the grumpy and sleep-deprived morning commuters.
His eyes surveying the room as he wheeled over to his usual parking spot with a good view of the overhead television, the hatchback nodded silent greetings to several of his fellow laborers. Here were other vehicles he could respect; they were a hardworking lot who all shared the misfortune of being between permanent jobs, so the need for any income, no matter how far the work deviated from their usual routine, brought them here in the hopes of an honest day's labor and a daily paycheck.
This wasn't the life he'd had in mind when he'd graduated high school many years back, and Grem had always dreamed that he was destined for something far better than this, but as all his more powerful classmates had settled into the office and labor jobs of which they were so proud, the AMC's own work history had turned out as checkered as the average racing flag. For lack of any better options, he had followed his father into the family vending machine business, even reworking the machines to outsmart those who would steal by using coin slugs. There was only so much of a market to expand one's vending route, however, and the next few years had seen Grem, entirely self-taught, spattered with toner fluid and repairing copiers at local offices before that work, too, had dried up.
Now he'd been reduced to rousing himself at 5 a.m. to show up at the day labor office in the hopes of landing a job with a company that needed an extra set of tires to help out. Though he knew his ambitions soared far above reality, he still clung to hope that one of the company men would be so blown away by his performance that he'd hire him on the spot, and thus Grem was driven to outperform the regular employees he worked alongside on the conveyor belts at the auto parts factory, even skipping lunch on the sly to weigh and package more units. When he'd been called out to remediate a fire scene in a warehouse, he left his assigned area so pristine it was as though soot had never infiltrated that part of the building. And yet for all his efforts, he had only been rewarded with a thin paper check and a gruff "thank you," then the next day he would land somewhere new for an entirely different job.
His ruminations were interrupted by the dispatcher's nasally voice. "I need ten!" Gary called out, and the room fell silent. "Garbage duty with Western Sanitation, any takers?"
Grem instinctively put himself in reverse as the hefty pickups around him nearly drove over each other in an effort to reach the dispatch desk first. The workers took on a no-holds-barred attitude when it came to a call-out, even if it meant hefting putrefying bags of rubbish into the back of a garbage truck. He took a sip of the complimentary octane the office provided and bit into the foam cup anxiously before abandoning the overly strong and burnt-tasting beverage to join those campaigning for the job. It was at least worth a try, right?
Or it wasn't. The dispatcher gave him only the slightest apologetic nod before calling those on either side of him forward, leaving the Gremlin feeling as unwanted and awkward as he'd been back in high school gym class when he was chosen last for the team. Once the work crew had been sent out, Grem was compelled to take a more proactive approach.
"Hey, Gary," he greeted the Malibu behind the desk before dropping his voice to a barely audible tone. "I know it's been a slow couple of weeks here and you're just not getting the calls, but isn't there anything I can do? I've got to pay my rent by this Friday or I'm toast." He prodded a loose floor tile with one of his thin tires, awaiting an answer.
Gary frowned down at the list he'd been keeping, not wanting to look the hatchback in the eye. In truth, he admired his work ethic, but the employers had made very specific requests that he was obligated to follow if he wanted to keep on their good side. "Sorry, man, but it's the same thing every time." He dared to glance sympathetically at the small, dusty orange car before him. "They want trucks or at least muscle cars."
That was nothing new. "C'mon, isn't there anyone who can use an extra set of tires today? I'll make deliveries, I'll sweep floors, I'll-" The Gremlin was still enumerating the jobs he'd take on when the sedan put up a tire, silencing him as he answered the phone on his desk.
Muting the phone, Gary asked, "tree crew? They need two flaggers."
Grem's lips curled into a lopsided smile. "I'll take it," he said emphatically, noticing there were few workers left in the office.
"Two, you said? I can wave a mean flag!" cried out a familiar voice from behind him, one that made Grem break into a hesitant grin that revealed several missing teeth he had lost in scuffles with larger vehicles. Gary nodded at the white sedan behind the Gremlin and returned to his conversation with the tree crew manager.
Donna. Grem's engine threatened to skip a cycle just at the thought of her. Donna Pits had never treated him as anything less than an equal, nor did she have much leeway to do so considering her rusted and worn appearance, but to the Gremlin she was perfect, though also an enigma. He knew of no one else who worked day labor just enough days of the year to get by and devoted the rest of her time to volunteer work, and although she obviously had deep-seated convictions for doing so, Grem couldn't imagine how she could possibly be content. Donna spent most of her time back in the city welcoming imports who had just landed ashore and needed help finding their way around, and she protected them from those who might take advantage of someone not familiar with fast-paced urban living. This Grem could appreciate, as most of the time he felt like as much of an outsider as her immigrant friends, but he couldn't believe how she remained undeterred from her mission even as those around her put her down for her appearance. Not that she cared; Donna's unflagging self-esteem rivaled that of the mightiest monster truck, and it left him envious.
Beyond that, the AMC wasn't sure how he felt about her. It was undeniable that she made every effort to land jobs alongside him, and that his engine ran a little faster every time she crossed his path, but he didn't want to be another of her charity cases. She feels sorry for me, he'd decided some time back, and I don't need anyone's pity. Grem had long fantasized of breaking out of the rut he'd been interminably stuck in, getting his frame straightened and repainted and then showing up to truly impress Donna, but deep down he knew that was unlikely to happen anytime soon, and so he kept "plugging away at it," as his roommate was fond of saying. He could handle the daily grind only by convincing himself that someday, something incredible was going to happen, and although he couldn't see anything incredible going down during his service with the tree crew, one could never tell.