~Disney-Pixar owns 'Cars'~

Mack's bright headlights pierced through the dark night as he trudged along, his engine being the only easily noticeable noise. The press had followed the bright red trailer for miles but the road was now deserted, also void of any streetlights, as he safely crossed over the railroad tracks.

Mack was relieved and worried at the same time; happy to have found Lightning alive but concerned for his boss. When arriving at the small town with the hordes of reporters, he expected the racecar to practically jump into his trailer with eagerness to leave. He was surprised to find that it seemed like, although happy to see Mack, Lightning didn't want to leave…at all. And he couldn't help himself overhearing Lightning's conversation with the blue Porsche. What had happened in the past few days? He had never heard Lightning speak to someone that way before and it almost hurt him to interrupt but Harv had put his job on the line.

After nearly half-an-hour of nothing but quiet, Mack dared to ask "Hey kid, you okay?". It was first responded with silence, then a drained sigh and a resounding click, indicating that Lightning had turned the radio off. Mack sighed, shaking his large hood. He figured it was best for him to let the rookie be and just focus on his job as he sped up pulling onto the onramp for the Interstate.

"We're going to contact every news media station, make sure they put out the right story. You don't want a whole bunch of lies coming up from this fiasco. I got calls from everyone, Oprah to Jay, all wanting an interview with you. You're-" Lightning sat in his trailer, low on his shocks and in spirit, hearing Harv talking to him. But he wasn't listening. He didn't care. Honestly, he was tired of hearing only about himself.

"….Oh, and make sure Mack steps on it. You got to get at least get some practice on the track before the big race. Everyone's going to be watching you, star. You got to-" Lightning was surprised at himself for the race had become completely forgotten to him. Not hearing Lightning answer didn't seem to stop Harv.

"….The important thing is that you're alive and we got you out of that hick town. This will all blow over and it'll be like it never happened…. McQueen?"

Lightning remained quiet, not finding the energy or the care to reply.

Harv sighed. "Listen, don't beat yourself up, kid. You don't have time to. Focus on that race, baby, and you got a blinding bright future ahead of you." Lightning heard Harv hang up then.

"And it'll be like it never happened…"

That's not what I want, Lightning thought. I don't know what I want. He thought he already had everything he wanted; the fame, the money, the trophies. But now he's learned that even with all of that, he really had nothing. Nothing until he detoured into town that hot, summer night that seemed so long ago already.

Being in the dark, quiet trailer, Lightning's thoughts wandered off to the town's residents; the first real friends he's had in too long, cars he felt like actually cared about him. And there was no better friend than Mater. McQueen never thought that he would ever call a rusty tow truck as a friend, especially because of the way he avoided his overzealous sponsor owners. Mater was loyal and adventurous and although slightly irritating and silly, he had to admit that he couldn't remember the last time he ad as much fun as he seemed to have with Mater, besides getting chased by a combine harvester and almost becoming scrap metal in a tractor field. He felt bad as he realized that he never even got to say bye to Mater. Then, he realized that it was probably for the best. Knowing Mater, he would of probably blubbed like a baby.

He never got to say bye to Doc either, which he was sure didn't matter. It's not like Doc cared whether he was gone or not. He hadn't seen the Hudson Hornet since the day before and Lightning knew all he wanted was him out of his town, anyway. Lightning's eyes squinted and his lip pouted as he thought of how unfair Doc was to him. But then he thought of how unfair he was to Doc and his face softened. Suddenly, he was back in that dusty, rundown garage surrounded by artifacts of Doc's secret and forgotten past.

"When's the last time you cared about someone except yourself, hotrod?"

It was such a complicated question with such a simple answer. Never. Or at least, not since "McQueen" became a household name. He only wished he had the chance to show Doc, that he was wrong, that he had changed, and that he did care about everyone in that town. It seemed like his engine skipped a cycle when he half-admitted that there was one he cared more deeply about.

Sally was just so… real. She was smart, kind, poised but if that tattoo proved anything, she also had a wild side. And Lightning could never forget beautiful. The way her turquoise eyes lit up and how wide she smiled when she saw the town aglow was permanently etched in his brain, just like the tears pooling in those same eyes and her final words would be too. And the way her fender felt against his! Like it belonged there, he could almost hear her engine purring. He's not sure how far that night would of gone with her but he knows he would have been happy just being with her.

Sally was right (which he's sure she almost always is). It was much more than just a road. And for the first couple days, he was too blind to see that. McQueen glanced up at all of his own memorabilia that did nothing but remind him of the car he… was. It actually made him angry and looking at all the shrines to himself with pointed eyes, he wished he had enough anger to throw all those stupid things away. But there was a good thing. If it wasn't for losing Mack on the Interstate that night, he would still be that car.

Lightning only felt worse as every mile took him farther and farther from the little town that started as 'hell' and ended as 'home'.

Hello! Sorry to everyone for the delayed update. This was just a look inside Lightning's mind initially after leaving R. Springs. Check out the new cover for this story! It's awesome, right? That's because it was made by no other than MissCarrera. Shout-out to her and her work, thank you!

Reviews and all are appreciated. :-)