Whew, it's finally finished! Not sure I like this chapter much, so I may end up having to rewrite it at some point. It took me 10 days to write the first version of this story - this version took me 4 months.
Disclaimer: Don't own Cars, do own Jason Brooke - ask me if you want to borrow him.
Making It Through
Doc sat by the window in the waiting room while Sheriff settled tensely in a corner, both waiting for Samuel and Lilia to return. Doc let his mind wander back over his crash in 1954 and his arrival in Radiator Springs. Family was important. Whatever happened, he hoped Lightning's parents would find some way of putting their arguments behind them in order to help their son. He knew Lightning was in for a long recovery, and would need all the help they could give him.
He realised he should phone the others in Radiator Springs, but something held him back – he didn't want to get their hopes up only for something to go wrong and hurt them all over again. He knew that feeling all too well.
His mind had flicked over to his long dead mother when Samuel and Lilia returned after fifteen minutes. He wasn't aware of Sheriff nudging him until the police cruiser called his name as well. He turned slowly, spotting the red and lilac cars nearby. With a silent nod to Sheriff he headed out into the corridor, Sheriff right behind him, the pair heading for Lightning's room.
Neither one said anything as they sat by Lightning for a while. For once Sheriff was at ease with the situation, a feat Doc wasn't sure would be possible for long. After ten minutes of uncomfortable silence, Doc got to his tyres.
"I'm going to find Jason. I'll see you back in the waiting room."
Sheriff gave a brief nod, his mind not entirely on the current events.
Doc wandered the halls for a few hours before going in search of his old doctor friend. Sheriff would probably be worried, though it wasn't that unusual for Doc to disappear for an hour or three.
Darkness had fallen by the time Doc returned. He found Samuel and Lilia in the waiting room, though Sheriff's whereabouts were a mystery to him. It seemed Lighting's parents were in deep conversation over something, so Doc left them to it, parking in the farthest corner and sinking to the cool floor. Their waiting game was continuing for a while longer yet, though there was more hope now.
"Sheriff's gone back to the hotel." Samuel's voice came from beside Doc an undetermined time later. "He said he'll be back in the morning."
Doc nodded, wondering if they should follow the police officer. It was several nights since he'd had somewhere comfortable to sleep, and he was tired, plus there wasn't any real reason for them to stay at the hospital now, what with Lightning on the mend, but still there was something holding him back.
"We're going to head off now, back to the hotel." Lilia appeared at Samuel's side, the two had apparently made up with each other.
Doc nodded again. As uncomfortable as the floor was, he didn't particularly want to leave, even if it was only for a few hours.
Hours turned into days, and days to weeks. Sheriff returned to Radiator Springs, after making Doc swear to call every day, even if there wasn't any news for them. Samuel and Lilia stayed in Phoenix, and eventually managed to persuade Doc to return to the hotel each night.
It wasn't until some four weeks after the race that Lightning began to show signs of waking. Doc, Lilia and Samuel took it in turns to sit with him, the doctors and nurses not appearing to mind, though they were there at all hours of the day and night.
Doc arrived towards the middle of that fourth week to find Samuel and Lilia sitting just outside the hospital, apparently waiting for him. There was an air of excitement about the pair, as though something new had occurred. He pulled up beside them and waited for them to speak.
"Lightning's out of danger!" Lilia was the first to say something, clearly overjoyed by the news she bore. "Doctor Brooke thinks he's going to make a full recovery!"
"He woke in the night. Doctor Brooke spent a few hours with him, running various tests. It's the best we could have hoped for." Samuel expanded on his ex-wife's comments.
Doc nodded, glad to finally have some good news. Sally would be relieved too, along with the rest of their friends waiting anxiously in Radiator Springs.
"I need to find a phone." He said.
"We're going to find a café in the city for some breakfast. Do you want us to wait for you?" Samuel asked.
"Don't bother. I had breakfast before I left the hotel, and there are some arrangements I need to discuss with Lightning's doctor." Doc paused momentarily on his way into the building.
There was a phone near the entrance which had proved useful on a number of occasions. Doc dialled the number for Flo's café and watched Samuel and Lilia drive off together while he waited for Flo to answer.
The phone call was quick, and that done, he headed for Jason's office, hoping his friend was there and not on his rounds. He hoped Jason would trust him enough to take over Lightning's care when the young racer was well enough. He had refreshed his training under Jason's watchful eye for a few years after arriving in Radiator Springs. With some luck it would be good news, and he would be able to return home. The hospital had been home for too long, and the regular phone calls weren't quite enough to stop him missing the little town.
His thoughts turned to Lightning's parents. They seemed to be getting on well enough now. He doubted they would actually move back in with each other, but they weren't arguing so much any more, and the silences in the waiting room weren't so uncomfortable. Lightning's accident seemed to have brought the pair to their senses. Doc hoped for Lightning' sake they had patched things up between them. The young car was going to need all the help they could give him during his recovery.
Author's Note: Well, I finished it...eventually, and added almost 4,000 words to the story! Because of how long it took me to write this one, don't expect the new version of Quest for the Cup to be appearing very soon - that one needs a lot of work. I should also point out that parts of the current Quest and Staying Strong won't actually add up. There is also the matter of writing another story before I actually get to work on Quest, as what happens in that one affects what happens in Quest and Staying Strong. It could be some time before you hear from me again.
Thanks to everyone that has taken the time to read and review this story - I really appreciate it.