Two years later, Doc apologizes to Lightning.
Disclaimer: This story is based on Cars and its characters and situations, all created and owned by Disney and Pixar.
Notes: This is hardly a full-fledged story; I just wrote it because the lack of conclusiveness regarding this issue bothered me. Or maybe I just wanted an excuse to write about happy!Doc. :)
For the first time in many, many years, Doc was happy. He had a comfortable roof over his head, he had a successful job with many patients, he had friends who he trusted and who trusted him in return, he was far from penniless, he felt good about himself, and most importantly, he had found a best friend and (hopefully) lifetime partner in one Lightning McQueen.
But there was just one thing that constantly plagued his mind, now that a quaint sort of complacency had settled in.
He had never apologized to Lightning for calling the press and informing them of Lightning's whereabouts. Perhaps it wasn't such a big deal now, since Lightning had decided to settle down in Radiator Springs anyway, but Doc's selfish thinking that night still disturbed his guilty conscience.
Sighing, he turned off the light in his study and went to the living room to find Lightning.
He was exactly where Doc had predicted he would be: in front of the television set, lazily flipping through a magazine.
"Hey," Lightning greeted without looking up.
Doc parked next to him, amused.
"I didn't know you were a fan of The Titanic," he commented mildly.
"Huh!" Lightning looked at the screen, eyes wide. He cringed and shuddered, quickly flipping the television off. Doc chuckled.
"What are you looking at?"
Lightning showed him the magazine. It was one all about paintjobs that were in fashion nowadays, complete with an assortment of pictures of shiny models. Some fancy sports car was featured on the cover, under block letters spelling out "Auto Trend".
"I'm thinking of getting a new paintjob," he explained. "Ramone mentioned that it's been forever since I last got something done, and he said that he'd give me one for half-off." He sighed. "I have no idea what to get, though. Everything's either too fancy or too boring or too weird."
Doc shrugged. "I like the way you look now, hotrod. But I reckon you youngsters get tired of your paint pretty quickly. If you do decide to get something new, I have just one request: keep the red. I like the red," he admitted.
Lightning grinned. "You mean it? I'd probably have to keep the red anyway, because of Rust-eze, but that makes me feel good about it. Thanks, Doc!"
Doc smiled. "No problem, kiddo."
Lightning nodded and leaned into the other. Their tires gently touched, and he sighed in contentment before frowning.
"Doc, are you okay? You seem really stiff…"
A ghost of a smile appeared on Doc's face at Lightning's concern. He was still unaccustomed to having someone care so much about him.
"I'm fine, but… There's something I need to tell you."
Lightning pulled away, looking at him in interest and slight alarm. "What is it?"
Doc frowned, hesitating. "Lightning, do you remember your last day here before that big tie-breaker race?" At Lightning's nod, he continued. "Did you ever wonder how the press found you here?"
Lightning frowned too, thinking hard. "I was kind of too surprised to think about it. I guess I just assumed that someone found me on their GPS or something." He looked at Doc with narrowed eyes. "Wait a second… Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
Doc sighed. "If you think I'm saying that I was the one who called the press, then yes. I'm sorry," he said quietly.
There was a long silence.
"Did you really hate me that much?" Lightning asked. Doc could tell that he was trying to hide his hurt.
"Far from it. I wanted you so badly, but all you could see was Sally. You helped everyone in town…. Buying tires from Luigi, purchasing Fillmore's fuel, helping Red plant new flowers, fixing the town's neon for Sally… Everyone except for me. I watched you closely that day—waiting for my turn. Wondering how you would help me. But you did nothing. It angered me, and well. When I'm angry, I tend to be very irrational. So I asked the operator for the number of a RSN reporter, and I told the reporter where you had disappeared off to."
Lightning stared at him, windshield furrowed.
"You were…jealous?" he said uncertainly. "But Doc, you've never seemed like the type to…" he trailed off.
Doc nodded. "Even old cars like me are susceptible to jealousy." He didn't say anymore. There was a long, slightly uncomfortable silence.
"The whole thing was partly just to prove you wrong. And impress Sally," Lightning hesitantly began trying to explain. "I… Do you remember what you asked to me in the garage? I still remember it exactly—'When was the last time you cared about somethingexcept yourself, hotrod?' And so I finished paving the road that night, drove to Willy's Butte to perfect that turn—another effort to prove you wrong—and then came back to help everyone. The road was sort of a way of helping you, I guess? I worked hard on it," he added.
Doc nodded. "It is a fine road."
A stifling silence settled over the two cars again.
"Is that all that's bothering you?" Lightning asked. "It's no big deal, Doc. We're here together now, and that's all that matters, right?"
"You're not angry with me?" Doc inquired, just to make sure.
Lightning leaned against him. "Of course not. It was a long time ago. And besides, things are different now."
Doc smiled at him and nuzzled him back. He hadn't really expected Lightning to be enraged or anything, but his conscience felt lighter regardless. He closed his eyes and kissed Lightning's fender gently.
"You're welcome," Lightning replied. Doc smiled at him, amazed at how good he had gotten at reading his thoughts. One would never be able to tell by just looking at him that he was such a wonderful lover. He sighed in content.
Yes, he was happy.