Ill Meet You On Route 62
(A Disney/Pixar Cars fanfic)
A Helping Hook
Macks words were little more than a whisper on the icy air, so faint that at first Vee wasnt even sure she had heard them.
She forced her eyes open, the lashes sealed with frozen tears. What?
Macks body shook from a fit of coughing. Cold, he said again, slightly louder this time.
Vee sniffled and nuzzled the side of her hood against his. She shivered. He was as cold as ice. Turn your heater on, she told him. Her own voice was as frail as his from crying. Warm yourself up.
Mack squeezed his eyes shut and grimaced. He looked like he was in pain. When he opened them again, he looked even more miserable than ever. I cant, he moaned. C-cant turn it on. Cant s-s-start engine. Too c-cold.
Vee blinked back the threat of more tears and swallowed hard. Well, youve got all that snow on you. No wonder youre cold. Despite her words, there was no denying the thin layer of snow laying across her own hood and roof. Here, lemme brush it off. She stood up on her back tires and, using one front tire to balance herself against Macks hood, tried to reach up with her other front tire and clear away the snow that had fallen on him. There was little she could reach from her position, and after her second slip she decided it was pointless and gave up. Sniffling, she pressed herself close to him again, sheltered from the bitter wind in the space between his hood and the brim of his cap.
Im so sorry, she sobbed, tears brimming here eyes once more. I tried.
As miserable as he felt already, seeing his best friend so upset over him made Mack feel even worse. "P-please dont cry, Vee, he murmured. Ev-everythings g-gonna be okay. Youll see. This was followed by another coughing fit that only discouraged her even more.
she sobbed all the harder. Mack stopped coughing and frowned.
Stop it, he ordered. His voice carried an unexpected strength and resonance that effectively silenced his friend. Vee stared at him in shock. No more tears, he continued, gentler this time. I ca- I cant stand seeing you like this, V-vee. It hurts. Worse than f-falling off that m-m-mountain. His voice grew weaker by the word until he was whispering again. So please. P-please dont c-cry anym - anymore.
Vees lip trembled, and she bit it to keep it steady. She clenched her eyes shut and rubbed her left side against Macks hood. Whether that gesture was meant to comfort Mack or herself, she couldnt say. She held back the tears for his sake, but inside she was weeping openly, her mind screaming in panic. There was no telling how much time had passed in their frozen hell at the bottom of that ravine. An hour? Half an hour? Half a day, perhaps?
The snow had long since ceased and the wind had calmed considerably. Now and then a frail sunbeam would break through the dingy clouds. It was eerily quiet in the gorge. After a while Mack opened his eyes and looked at Vee.
Try again, he whispered.
Startled, Vee jumped and stared at him. Huh?
Storms over. T-try again.
Vee backed away from him slightly. Weve tried five times already! she replied. Either your CBs damaged or were out of range!
Mack drew in a deep breath. Weather m-makes a difference, too.
Vee sighed. All right. Ill try. She rolled closer to him. Hello? Is anyone out there? We need help! Weve fallen into a ravine and my hauler is hurt badly. Please! Its an emergency! We need help right away! There was a faint hiss that faded into silence, but no answer. Vee started sobbing.
Its no use! Theres no one out there whos gonna help us! she growled, kicking up a small flurry of snow.
Mack drew in another deep breath. Then you - youre gonna have to go, he wheezed.
Vee stopped kicking the snow and stared at him. What?
Im not - not gonna hold you b-back. Just go. Leave m-me here.
Vees eyes widened in shock. No! No, Mack. Im not leaving you! Ever!
F-forget me. Ill be -
NO! Vees shout echoed off the surrounding mountains. This is all MY fault, and Im not going to let you lie here and suffer because of me! Im going to get help, and I WILL be coming back for you! Thats a promise!
And without even giving him a chance to protest, Vee kissed him fervently on the lips, then turned and plowed her way through the snow. Too weak to call her back, Mack watched helplessly as she disappeared from sight around a boulder.
Vee didnt get very far before the snow grew too deep for her to drive through. When it started coming up over her hood, she stopped and tried to back out of it, only to find herself sinking even more. She managed a single, strangled cry for help before the snow poured into her mouth and silenced her. Vee gagged and spat it out. She tried to turn around, pulling herself up onto a nearby rock. Her tires started to slide so she tightened her grip, but it was no use.
Vee tipped back into the snow and was swallowed up by it, buried up to her roof. Her engine raced and she struggled with all her might, but to no avail. After several minutes, she gave up, exhausted. The icy walls of her prison seemed to close in around her.
Then suddenly, it happened. CLANK! Something small and hard landed on her trunk, causing her to yelp and start struggling again. The small something - a rock? an icicle? - slid off and slipped underneath her back bumper, where it seemed to attach itself to her. Vee let out a second, much louder yelp as she suddenly found herself being yanked backwards and out of the snow.
Whatever had seized hold of her was now dragging her, screaming, up the side of the mountain. As suddenly as it had happened, it was over with. Vee was dropped onto a flat, rocky surface, not far up from where she had been trapped. Panting heavily and trembling, she could only stare numbly down at her imprint in the snow for a moment before something touched her side and she jumped.
Shoot, Miss Vee! Ah didnt mean tuh scare ya none, but you was turnin into uh right perdy lil carsicle down there!
Mouth agape, Vee stared at her rescuer. Mater?
The rusty tow truck grinned proudly. Thats muh name! Behind him on the ledge stood Doc Hudson, Sheriff, and Lightning McQueen. Vee blinked several times and shook her hood, hardly daring to believe what she was seeing.
Oh my Dodge! she exclaimed, rushing forward to embrace each of them in turn, including Sheriff, who stared back at her as though shed just bitten him. What are you all doing here?
After I came back to town and heard what happened, I knew something smelled fishy, Doc explained. Especially after hearing these three tell their separate versions of the story. Something about it all just didnt add up, so we set out to find you and Mack and try to help you in any way we could.
Thats right, Lightning confirmed. Weve been on your trail for days. We wouldve caught up to you a lot sooner if someone hadnt been dragging his ass the whole time! He glared pointedly at Sheriff, who glared back and mumbled something about gal darn speeders.
How did you ever find us? Vee asked Doc.
It wasnt easy, I can tell you that much. If you want to thank anyone, thank Mater here for tracking you down to this gorge.
Vee turned to Mater, who blushed and scuffed the ground with a tire. Twerent nothing, really. Ah jist heard ya calling fer help on mah CB radio. Yall kept callin and callin, and Ah jist kept followin and followin and perdy soon Ah took a little trip down inta this here ravine and there you was in the snow right there.
Lightning snorted. Little trip, huh? More like a hundred-foot fall if you ask me.
Mater gave him a puzzled look. Sorry, but Ah dont recall askin ya.
Where is Mack, anyway? Doc asked. He glanced around the ravine.
And my trailer! Lightning demanded. Taking it to hide out in I can overlook, but if youve been fooling around with any of my stuff
* * * * *
Lightnings horrified cry went ignored by the others as they crowded around Mack. Doc immediately seized control of the situation.
Mater, unhitch that trailer. Sheriff, get the tool kit and the transmission fluid out of my trunk. Vee, Im going to need your help with this. Rookie, for crying out loud, forget about your damn trailer! Its replaceable. Mack isnt. Now get over here and help us!
No one wasted any time obeying Docs orders. Not wasting any time himself, the old Hudson promptly opened Macks hood and started to work on him. Time ticked by. After some (fairly) minor repairs, followed by infusions of oil, transmission fluid and antifreeze, Doc shut his hood again and moved back.
All right. Ive done all I can for now. He sighed, slightly out of breath. Now all weve got to do is get you back on your tires and out of this gorge. Mater?
Think youve got what it takes to tow a semi?
Maters smile faded as he looked from Doc to Mack. Uh well, Ah guess Ah kin try. Ah aint never towed no one biggern mahself before. That said, he rolled closer to Mack and let out several feet of his tow cable. Sheriff grabbed the hook and slipped it under Macks wheel well. Mater reeled the cable back in until the line was taut.
Ready? he yelled.
Mack murmured something and Vee patted his grille. Ready! she shouted back.
Okay! With a roar of his engine and a screeching of tires, Mater began to crawl forward. Snow flew up from behind him. Rrrrrrrrrrgh
He clenched his teeth and switched gears, towing harder than he had ever towed in his entire life.
Come on, Mater, you can do it! Vee cheered him on.
Yeah! Thats right! Lightning joined in. Its just like pulling Bessie, and I know how much you like her!
She were a breeze! Mater grunted. No offense, Mack - hhrrrnnn - but ya might wanna think about losin a ton or three. Just as he said this, Mater felt himself sliding backwards. Without snow chains, he had little traction in the snow.
Quick! Doc shouted. Sheriff, Lightning, get behind Mack and start pushing! They obeyed and were followed immediately by Doc, who aided them in their effort. Vee approached Mater and laid a reassuring tire on his.
I know you can do it, Mater, she told him. I just know it.
Mater looked at her guiltily. Ahm tryin hard as Ah can, Miss Vee. Honest to Dodge Ah am.
I know, but
try harder. Please?
The pleading look on her face was like a high-octane fuel injection. It empowered him. His engine roared to life again and he surged forward. Very slowly at first, Mater inched his way through the snow, lifting Mack up off his side. Behind him, Doc, Sheriff and Lightning pushed with all their might. Vee glanced back and forth between Mack and Mater, watching the progress with bated breath. The tow truck continued to claw his way forward, growling and grunting and panting heavily.
Suddenly, the line went slack. There was a muffled thud as Mack landed upright on his tires. A round of cheers went up from the group. Mater collapsed, breathless and trembling, in the snow. Vee drove up to him and hugged him.
Thank you, Mater, she whispered. Mater blushed.
Aw shucks, Miss Vee. Twerent nothin. Ahs jist doin what Ah was built fer, thats all.
Vee shook her hood. No. You did so much more than that. She gazed at him for a moment, then, to everyones surprise (including her own), she leaned forward and kissed him, long and hard, on the lips. When at last she pulled away, slightly breathless, her face was as rosy as the dawn. Mater blushed redder than Mack. His headlight to headlight grin was infectious. Vee smiled back.
Hey, what about me? Mack demanded. He drove over to Mater and Vee, slightly unsteady. Dont I get a kiss too?
Lightning parked beside him. Yeah, and what about me? I helped too!
Mack growled at him and Vee chuckled. Of course you do, she purred, wasting no time in capturing Macks lips with her own.
* * * * *
Are you sure you want to do this? I think it would be best if you allowed yourself to recover a little first. Vee pulled up beside Mack as he came to a stop, hauling the trailer behind him.
Ill be fine, he assured her. The storms over and the suns out. Plus it looks like a salt truck came by recently. He nodded at the iceless mountain road before them. Should be easy going from now on. Get in.
Vee shook her hood. Its Lightnings trailer. He should be the one riding in it, not me.
Go ahead, said McQueen. Ill drive.
Hesitantly, Vee drove up the ramp into the trailer. The interior was a mess. Vee swept all the Lightning merchandise into the back and settled down on the plush carpet, mulling over the days events.
Ford Almighty, what have I done? Mack could have gotten killed because of me! If he didnt have me to worry about, hed be safe at home back in Radiator Springs right now, without a scratch on him.
A single tear brimmed her eyes until she blinked it away. It slid down her hood. Oh Mack
Another tear fell and she heard it splash on something that was not the carpet. She turned a tire and heard something crinkle beneath her. Vee backed up a little and looked down. On the floor before her lay a signed Lightning McQueen poster, wrinkled and ripped. She stared down at it for a long time, then sniffled and turned the paper over.
Just as shed hoped, the backside was blank. She turned and searched the mess for one of those tacky pencils shed seen earlier. They had lightning bolts on a red solid background and a red eraser shaped like McQueen. After a minute or two, she found one. This pencil had lost its eraser, and the graphite point was dull but thankfully still intact. Blinking back a fresh wave of tears, Vee took the pencil and paper and began to write.
* * * * *
The sun was setting by the time Mack and the gang pulled up to a diner in a tiny town in the foothills. Mack unhitched the trailer with a sigh of relief, then knocked on the door.
The guys and I are gonna go drain the old oil pan, he announced. Be right back.
Vee peered out the cracked and tinted window, watching the five men drive around to the back of the diner. She stared after them for a moment, then took a deep, shuddering breath and let it out slowly. The ramp did not descend fast enough for her, having been damaged in the fall. Vee rammed it twice to get it to open. Once outside, she glanced around both sides of the trailer to see if the coast was clear. Tears splattered the broken asphalt, only to be replaced by black tire tracks and the stench of burnt rubber as she sped away.
A minute later Mack and the others returned. Hoo boy, what a relief that was! Mack sighed as he drove around to the back of the trailer. Hey Vee, are you hungry? Cuz theyve got a lot of - he trailed off, noticing that the ramp was down and the trailer empty. Sheriff pulled up beside him.
"Probably just went to the restroom.
Lightning drove up the ramp and groaned. I seriously doubt my insurance will cover this. He gasped. My stereo! Oh my Dodge! Another gasp. And the mini-bar!
Mack smirked and turned away.
Lightning spotted something on the floor. Hey, whats this? he murmured. Mack ignored him. In the center of the trailer floor, near the door, stood a Lightning bobble-head. Underneath it was a large piece of paper. Lightning pushed the bobble-head aside and started to read what was written on the paper.
Uh, Mack? I think youd better come take a look at this.
Mack turned around and was surprised to see the troubled look on his friends face. Lightning pushed the paper toward him. The note appeared rushed, but he recognized it immediately as Vees writing.
Words cant express how grateful I am for your friendship. Youve done so much for me, and all Ive done in return is cause trouble. Im so sorry for what happened today. I cant bear to see you get hurt again, which is why Im going away. I love you so much, and it hurts me to do this, but I know its for the best. Please do not come looking for me. The further I am from you, the better off you are.
Love you always
Chapter Thirty-One: [link]