A/N: Until now I have been writing only Lilo & Stitch fan fiction. The following is my first attempt at breaking into a new fandom. Specifically, Cars! Why, you ask? (as in "Why the heck should I care what this wacko is writing about now?" XP) Well, why not? There's just too much I love about Cars NOT to write a fanfic or two or three. For one thing, I have so many favorite characters in this movie it's not even funny. If I have to choose one ultimate fave, it's Mater (Big surprise! XP), then, in no particular order, Fillmore, Mack, Sheriff, Doc Hudson, Chick Hicks, Red, and all the rest are so-so.
My debut Cars fic focuses on Mack, with a healthy sprinkling of everyone else for that savory Radiator Springs flavor. I'm going to try not to make this story too Mary Sue-ish, even though I'm introducing an original female character and this story's got romance as a sub-category. Mostly I'm just winging this one, though I've got a few ideas and four chapters written already.
As I write this, I pray that it stays true to the personalities of the characters while at the same time expounding a little on each of them. Be prepared for possible OOC-ness anyway. Also keep in mind this may be a bumpy ride, so please be at least moderately gentle with your reviews. Constructive criticism and ideas are always welcome, but if there's something you don't like about my story, please explain why tactfully, or don't bother to review at all. Okay, shutting up now XP
Summary: Mack has settled into a quiet life in Radiator Springs, but when a car from his past runs into him - literally - everyone in town feels the impact. (MackxOC) Rated for mild language, violence, and sensuality.
I'LL MEET YOU ON ROUTE 62
"Dagnab it, Mater! If I see one more tractor cross this street I'm throwin' you in the impound lot!"
It was high noon of an autumn day when the town of Radiator Springs was shaken by a tractor stampede, followed by Sheriff's griping.
"Dude, what kinda threat is that?" asked Ramone, driving up behind the squad car. "He lives in the impound lot!" Sheriff was too busy wrangling a stray tractor to answer. Lights flashing, he chased the animal past Fillmore's Taste-In where two more tractors were idly grazing on the lawn.
"Hey man, these things are eating my grass!" Fillmore complained.
"You've got a horn! Use it!" Sheriff barked without slowing down.
"What're you complaining about, hippie?" growled Sarge from his side of the fence. "That overgrown jungle you call a lawn could use a good mowing!"
Doc Hudson followed shortly after Sheriff, counting the tractors along the way. He stopped to consider the two on Fillmore's lawn. "Don't chase them off just yet," he advised. "As long as they're not hurting anything, just let them be. It'll make it a lot easier to round them up later."
"But they're hurting my grass!" Fillmore whined. "It worked really hard to grow this tall, and they're totally invading on my lawn's right to live!"
"They're doing you a favor!" Sarge argued, clearly enjoying his neighbor's plight. "Your lawn looks ten times better already!" the jeep said, driving up to the nearest tractor and regarding it with a newfound respect. "It was worth the stampede," he added, smiling.
Moments later Red and Lightning came up the road, herding half a dozen tractors between them. Sheriff's charge changed course to join its fellows in grazing. Nine tractors now crowded the hippie's yard, devouring his precious grass. Sarge's elation at this was short-lived as a few of the animals wandered over to his own neatly trimmed lawn.
"Get out of here, you stupid beasts!" he yelled. "You're ruining my lawn!"
"Lighten up, man," Fillmore told him with a cool smile. "They're just mowin' it for you."
Out in the street, Sheriff, Doc, Red and Lightning stood counting the tractors.
"Okay," Doc said, "that's nine right there. Luigi's got three in his shop and I think Flo's got two down at the café. Plus Red tipped four over by the courthouse, so…"
"That's only eighteen," Sheriff remarked, turning to scan the rest of the town. "What about Mack?" he asked suddenly, turning back to Lightning. "I saw him herding a bunch out behind the Cozy Cone."
"I'll go check," said McQueen before speeding off toward the motel.
"Mind the speed limit!" Sheriff shouted in his wake. "Dang city boy."
McQueen swerved off the road and onto the patchy brown grass behind the motel. He found Mack with his back to him. He had five tractors cornered behind a cone.
"Great job, Mack!" Lightning said loudly, causing the big rig to jump.
"Jeez, Lightning! Don't sneak up on me like that!" Mack grumbled, turning to see the racer pull up beside him. "You know that if you can't see my rearview mirror, I can't see you! And trust me, you don't wanna get sideswiped by a semi that didn't see you!"
"Ah, I wouldn't worry," Lightning replied coolly. "You're the safest driver I know, Mack, and surprisingly nimble for a big rig."
Mack smirked. "Thanks. Now how 'bout helping me herd these tractors into your trailer?"
Lightning nodded, then did a double-take. "Wh — not my trailer!" he cried.
"Why not? It'll only be for a few minutes, and it'll make it a lot easier to get them back out to their pasture."
"Yeah but — I just restocked the mini bar, and the upholstery was cleaned a month ago…"
"Relax, buddy. The trailer's insured."
"No dice! Besides, we'd never be able to fit all these tractors into that little trailer. Two, maybe three, and there's about twenty more where these came from. C'mon, we can wrangle these beasts ourselves!"
"I already wrangled them," Mack said. "They've been wrangled for the last five minutes, and they're not gonna get any more wrangled than this! It's moving them out of here that's the tricky part."
"Oh come on," McQueen replied, "how hard can it be? You just need to be a little more persuasive. Like this." The racecar approached the nearest tractor and revved his engine up to an earsplitting decibel. The whole herd gave a single, frantic "MOO!" and scattered, bumping into each other and nearly running over Lightning in their haste to escape. Two tipped over while the other three took off in different directions.
When the dust settled, Mack and Lightning exchanged some awkward looks.
"While I'm not questioning the effectiveness of your technique," Mack said, "I'd be foolhardy not to suggest a smoother approach next time."
Lightning blushed, then covered it with a scowl. "Well then, how do you do it?" he demanded.
Mack shrugged. "Hey, just because I'm big doesn't mean I can't be gentle. You could always be a little less hasty, you know. Try slowing things down a bit and you'd be surprised with the results."
The racecar scoffed. "Lightning McQueen doesn't know the meaning of the word slow!"
"And Mack Trucker doesn't know the meaning of the word salubrious! Seriously, though, be a little more tactful next time, okay? Now let's go wrangle us up some tractors." Mack drove off with Lightning at his side.
"What do you mean, tactful?" McQueen muttered. "I thought that was very tactful."
"I suppose you would," Mack agreed, "livin' in the fast lane and all, but here in the mystical land of reality I'd have to call you on that one."
"Oh, shut up!" Lightning grumbled, driving past him. "You're just jealous because I was built for speed and you weren't!"
Mack chuckled. "You can keep the speed, me bucko. I was built for strength and, need I remind you, being nimble!"
This time Lightning laughed. "Right, I forgot! Look out, everyone! Make way for Mack Be Nimble!" They were back on the main street now. Lightning saw Sheriff, Doc and Red waiting for him and started to speed up, but a warning look from Sheriff nearly halted him in his tracks. He approached them slowly. Mack pulled up behind him.
"How many tractors did you get, Mack?" Doc asked.
"Maybe you should ask Speedy McQueenie here," Mack replied, giving the hotrod a scathing look.
Feeling both Mack's and the Hudson's eyes on him, Lightning answered. "Well, he started out with five, but — "
"But Dipstick here scared 'em off," Mack finished for him. Lightning smirked at him. "Of course, I'm just paraphrasing," Mack added, smirking back.
Sheriff growled. "Dagummit! Where in Ford's name is Mater? He should be the one cleaning up this mess! I'm supposed to be on patrol, not rounding up a bunch of brainless beasts!"
Doc opened his mouth to answer, but Lightning beat him to it. "Whoa! Hold on a sec! How do you know this was Mater's fault?"
"When is it ever NOT his fault?" Sheriff argued. McQueen frowned at him, then looked around questioningly.
"Well, I don't see him anywhere."
"No doubt hiding out somewhere," Sheriff grumbled. "But as soon as I find him I'm gonna — "
"No need, Sheriff," Doc cut in. "Because Mater had nothing to do with it. He was on the lift in my clinic when the stampede started."
Sheriff's mouth hung open, his last argument dying on his lips. Lightning gave him an "I told you so!" look.
"I'd better go get him down so he can set up the tractors that tipped over," Doc said as he turned and drove off toward the clinic, leaving Sheriff, Red, Mack and Lightning in the middle of the street. All four were silent for a moment until Red honked at a couple of tractors who were starting to wander away from Fillmore's yard. The sudden noise knocked Sheriff from his stupor. He observed the small herd with a puzzled expression.
"I don't get it," he murmured. "If Mater didn't do it, then who…?" he trailed off, looking to Lightning for an answer. The racecar had none. Sheriff sighed heavily. "Well, I guess I'd better go make my rounds. Maybe I'll find a clue as to what started the stampede," he added, rolling away. The doubt in his voice was obvious. Lighting watched him go, puzzling over the same thing. He turned to Red.
"Help Sarge and Fillmore keep an eye on these tractors," he told the fire truck. "I'm going to go look for the rest." He drove off quickly, keeping his speed in check this time. Mack drove off in the opposite direction to do the same.
As Lightning reached the Cozy Cone he heard Sally call out to him.
"Hey Stickers! Is this what you're looking for?" He turned to see his fiancee come out from behind a cone with a tractor in tow. When she stopped in front of Lightning, the animal caught up to her and started nibbling on her rearview mirror. She growled, looking at the racecar expectantly. "Well?"
"Well, aren't you going to do something about this?" Sally demanded. McQueen bit his lip to keep from laughing.
"Nah. I think I'll just leave you two alone to get better acquainted," he purred, turning to drive away. "After all, I wouldn't want to be a third wheel."
Sally growled. "You've been nothing BUT a third wheel ever since you arrived in this town! Now are you going to intervene or do I have to drive down the aisle with a tractor instead of you?"
Lightning stopped short and turned around to face her. "Seriously?"
Sally smirked. "Forget it, Hotrod. You know, getting married to a tractor is starting to sound more appealing by the second."
McQueen laughed at this and disengaged the tractor from Sally's mirror. "Well, that's nineteen down," he said, giving the animal a nudge toward Luigi's tire shop. "Four more to go." The tractor headed straight for the stack of tires outside the front door of the shop. Before it could even sink its teeth into one, Luigi came bursting out of his shop shouting Italian obscenities. Two of the three tractors he had detained inside now took the opportunity to escape, despite Guido's frantic efforts to restrain them.
"Hey! I said to keep those doors closed!" yelled Doc, coming back up the street. Luigi gave him a wounded look.
"But-a thees-a one ees-a eating my whitewalls!" he cried. "And-a you have not-a seen-a what they are-a doing to my Goodyears!"
Any argument Doc might have had was silenced by Guido's cry for help as he was dragged away by a tractor, a fork caught in the creature's grille.
Doc sighed wearily. "Here we go again." He turned to Lightning. "Go get 'im, Hotrod. I've got to go help Mater. He tried to get down from the lift by himself and now he's hanging upside down from it by his tow hook, with the cable wrapped around himself and the lift."
Lightning nodded, resisting the urge to go in and see Mater in said state for himself, and drove off after Guido. Hearing the tow truck calling him, Doc sighed again and returned to the clinic. Mater gave him a sloppy grin as he entered.
"Well shoot, Doc! You look downright happy from up here! Is you frownin' or is you smilin' all topsy-turvy?"
Doc stared at him, unfazed even as McQueen and Luigi zoomed by outside, yelling after a small herd of tractors bearing away an hysterical Guido. Mater watched them go by, then looked back at Doc. "Aw dang. Whud Ah miss?"
Half an hour later, all but one tractor had been found and rounded up.
"Stickers! Hey!" Sally shouted across the rumbling herd. Lightning was on the other side of it, trying to keep the animals in line.
"Hey! Hotrod!" Sally tried again, her call going unheard amid the droning moos of the tractors. She drove around the herd toward him.
"Hey." This time McQueen looked up. "Have you seen Lizzie?" Sally asked him. "I haven't seen her since before the stampede."
Lightning thought for a moment. "She's not in her store?"
Sally blushed. "I looked there already, but I forgot to check the back room," she admitted. "Will you go see if she's there? I need to find my rearview mirror. One of these overgrown lawnmowers chewed it off."
"I'm sure she's all right," the racer assured her. "She's a tough old gal."
"Check anyway!" Sally ordered, searching the herd for her mirror. "There's still one tractor missing," she added.
"Okay," McQueen gave in and drove over to Lizzie's souvenir stand. He found the door wide open but called her name a few times before entering. Inside, the floor was littered with bumper stickers and the debris of two or three shattered Radiator Springs snow globes.
Lightning found Lizzie in the back room — along with the missing tractor. The animal was licking her left front wheel well, to which the old Model T was responding with a girly giggle.
"Oh Stanley, you old roadster! You always know how to turn my crank!"
McQueen felt himself blush. It took him a moment to realize she was asleep. He revved his engine, hoping this would wake her. No luck. He revved louder, and succeeded in startling the tractor. The beast gave a panicked "Moo!" and bumped against Lizzie as it tipped over. This woke her up. The elderly car started, glancing about in bleary-eyed confusion before focusing on Lightning.
"Well, good morning, Hotrod!" she beamed, wobbling a little as she stood up. "What a crazy night that was, eh?"
McQueen blushed. The feeble cry of the overturned tractor caught Lizzie's attention and she turned to look at it. "Eh? How did I end up out here?"
A/N: More to come very soon. Please R&R (and I don't mean rest and relaxation)