Pairings: Francesco/OC, Some Mater/Holley + Lightning/Sally
Summary: Crime never leaves the world of racing alone, and the MI6 never leaves crime alone. But Francesco Bernoulli has bigger problems like finishing off another winning season, preparing his pit crew for the new World Grand Prix, and dealing with an extremely annoying critic.
"I know you've had some sleep, but try to rest on the plane, alright?"
"You got it!"
"And wait for your escort as soon as you land; don't wander about."
"I hear ya!"
"You remember the code phrase for escort identification?"
Holley sighed. She wished she could just see Mater home herself, but there was too much work to be done. She ran Mater through the escort process one more time before sending him off towards his gate. The two waved goodbye to one another with warm – sad – smiles and Holley sighed once Mater was safely on his flight home.
Finn didn't say anything. After being partners for so long, he didn't have to. The duo knew one another's insecurities and flaws quite well, and Holley would talk if she needed someone to talk to.
"Mater was in danger because of us, wasn't he?" she stated. She kept staring ahead at the terminal.
"…Perhaps," Finn admitted. "However, he has quite a few high-profile friends, not to mention a knack for getting himself into trouble. I have the feeling he'd wind up in dire straits eventually whether he knew us or not. Regardless," Finn turned to face Holley, "he's lucky to have someone who cares about his welfare so much and would protect him at all costs. If anything, I believe you being around makes him safer in the long run."
Holley didn't seem convinced. "…So, about our mission? We're back on the search for that lost politician, right?"
"Unfortunately, no. Agent… Agent 2nd Gear has taken over the manhunt, regardless of how horrible of an idea that is." Holley was surprised that Finn didn't even try to hide his disapproval. She hadn't met this agent herself, but she already didn't like him from the way he'd somehow managed to get on Finn's bad side, which was normally reserved for no holds barred villains. "We've been instructed to head back to base – HQ thinks the politician might just be the tip of the iceberg."
"Waiter, order this great pit crew another round, eh?!"
Fracesco's crew cheered and whooped with varying levels of intoxication. The Bumper Skirt Bar and Grille was all but rented out by the racer's extended team; they convened around several tables pushed together under the old yellow lights. All the garage doors and windows were open to let in the light summer breeze and extend the available seating space; sunlight enveloped them. Cars that weren't part of Francesco's party took bragging selfies from their outer tables, which only caused more cars to show up at the hole-in-the-wall. The television playing a news report about a missing smart car politician did nothing to dampen the jovial mood as Francesco celebrated with big drinks, large tips, and hearty laughter.
"…remains missing. Next up, we have a look back at this racing season and an analysis of the final…"
"Shh! Quiet!" one of the pit members shouted. "The news is talking about the race!"
"Ah yes!" Francesco smiled and hoped up and down in place, "It's time to hear more about how Francesco did fantastically and see how good he looked on the camera passing the finish line!" He turned to get a better view of the television hanging behind the bar.
But when Francesco noticed the logo of the television network, with the current time stamped under it, his smile disappeared. "…Wait. Waitwaitwaitwait. Please do not tell me it is 5:30."
"Is there somewhere you needed to be, Francesco?" Guiseppe asked.
"Nono, it's just… at 5:30 on this channel-"
The television continued into the next segment. "And now, we have this season's final racing commentary with our analyst, Ghita Aryanne."
A deep gold pickup truck with green eyes rolled up next to the regular news commentator and nodded acknowledgingly. Her expression remained neutral the entire time, as if she didn't even realize she was now on live television.
Francesco groaned. Loudly and dramatically. "Uuuuuuuuuugh! Waiter, I will buy everyone in this bar a drink if you'd change the channel to anything else, per favore!"
Guiseppe raised an eyebrow. "What has you so upset, amico?"
"This channel is not news or analysis! It's… it's blasphemy! This Ghita Aryanne; all she ever does is picks racers apart, especially me! No matter how great I do, she always has something to complain about! So picky about every! Pointless! Little! Thing!"
"Yes, Francesco ran a great race today," Ghita continued on the television, "…however," (Francesco mouthed said "however" mockingly as it came out of Ghita's mouth) "he has gotten a little too used to winning. Look at his turn into the last stretch." A clip of said turn played between the two hosts. "See? Sloppy. At that speed he could have careened and lost the match."
"But I didn't!" Francesco protested at the television. Several of Francesco's crew members backed away from the racer and glanced at each other warily. A few fans recorded the temper tantrum with their phones. Francesco turned back to Guiseppe and gestured to the television. "See? She acts as if I have no idea what I'm doing! Acts like she knows everything!"
"I told you the same thing about your turn," Guiseppe said.
"Yes, but that is your job! Ghita's job is to apparently be as annoying as possible and tell us all things we already know while acting smug about it. Waiter, I beg you again, change the channel! Anything will do! Check the American sports coverage – is Lightning McQueen back yet?"
"This Ghita," Guiseppe continued, not letting Francesco change the topic, "she must be doing her best, I'm sure. You should try to be a little nicer to your fans, my friend."
"Alright first off, Ghita Aryanne is the opposite of a fan. Second, you have a bleeding heart, Guiseppe. More often than not it is one of the things I love about you, but on occasion it can be annoying. Like, right now for instance, when you're trying to make me feel for that cold-as-ice woman who does nothing but belittle me for fun and profit. I mean, listen! She is still going on about that turn! Be done with it already!"
"… and that is all I have to say on the matter of Francesco's sloppy steering for the time being," Ghita said.
As if Ghita could hear Francesco's moaning and wanted to get the last word in, she added, "I can only hope Francesco takes the upcoming exhibition races and this Neo World Gran Prix a little more seriously than today's race."
Francesco opened his mouth to protest, finally started to realize how he looked shouting at a television set in front of several fans' cameras, and shut it. He decided instead to seethe quietly and go looking for the remote to change the channel himself.
"Thank you, Ghita," Ghita's co-host said. "Ghita Aryanne will be off until next racing season. In her place, we will bring you special guest commentators for exhibition matches. And now, in other sports news, this week's tireball games-"
Francesco finally got his wheels on the remote control, and decided to simply turn the television off for the remainder of the party.