Tripod by patricia51

(Takes place during RE:Extinction. On the trip to Las Vegas Alice begins to realize that everything she wants is already in the cab of the truck with her. But will she be able to keep it? Alice/Carlos romance leading to a family that includes Kmart. Alice's last name comes from the novelization of one of the movies. As for the meaning of the title, well, I'll explain it when the time is right.)

Alice Abernathy was doing something that under normal circumstances she would have considered a complete waste of time. True, the former head of security for the Umbrella Corporation's secret Raccoon City bio-research facility and now sworn foe of the mega-corporation really could not recall any time that could be considered "normal". But even by the standards of the life she had been living for the past few years, which was all the years she could remember, she was doing something out of character.

She wasn't making plans to stay clear of Umbrella's search for her or plotting ways to strike back at them. She wasn't searching for food or gas or water or ammo. She wasn't battling the hordes of the undead or the scavengers who preyed on other humans. In fact she wasn't even thinking about any of that.

Sitting with a notebook in her lap open to pictures and writings concerning Alaska, Alice was day-dreaming. Her mind had left the constant fight against Umbrella and the never-ending struggle to stay alive for one more day and was resting itself in the far North where the infection reportedly had never spread.

Her body swayed gently with the motion of the truck as the small convoy raced down the sandy road towards Las Vegas and hopefully resupply. For once she just let herself go, relax, and take in the moment. And it felt really good.

Maybe, just maybe there was more to life than her battle with Umbrella. She hadn't considered that in so long. Her gaze drifted from the open note-book to the other side of the cab and the two people there. She smiled.

Carlos Olivera was driving; his big hands steady on the wheel, his gaze straight ahead. Carlos was someone she had been down the road to Hell with and back out again. Like her he was a former Umbrella employee. In his case he had been a soldier on one of their security teams dispatched to help the police control the outbreak of the T-Virus in Raccoon City and then abandoned when the situation spiraled out of control.

They had met and together with Jill Valentine and LJ they had fought their way to the landing field and escaped. Then she had been retaken by Umbrella after the helicopter had crashed. But her friends had not left her; they had come after her. It had broken her heart to slip away from them but there had been no choice. Umbrella, particularly Dr. Isaacs, was after her and being with them endangered her friends.

Even with all that though the call had been too strong. And she had responded just in time as the out of control flame weapon had swung towards Carlos. It was typical of him, trying to shield a young girl with his own body from the flames.

Sometimes she had to remind herself that all men were not Spence or Dr. Isaacs or Major Cain. There were men like Matt and Carlos, men who were brave and full of compassion and heart at the same time. And even now she was seeing yet another side of Carlos, a side she hadn't glimpsed before.

Her eyes shifted from the man driving to the girl beside him. A girl she had just met and yet who already had moved something deep inside her. Like Carlos did but in a completely different way. Carlos was someone she could see herself standing back to back with in a fight against anything. He was the partner she had once thought Spence was. But the girl stirred something quite different.

Alice's eyes dropped to the bracelet around her wrist. She had woken in the back of one of the convoy's vehicles after collapsing from the mental strain of directing the firestorm . Lifting her hand to block the light filtering in from outside she had seen the bracelet on her arm. Even though she was groggy she had realized there was another person in the vehicle with her. She had also known that person was no threat to her. Then she had seen the long blonde hair and the hesitant smile as the young woman had quietly said hi.

Alice smiled again as she recalled the conversation.

"This belong to you?"

"I gave it to you last night. For luck."

"Thank you." She had paused. "What's your name?"

"Kmart."

The explanation and the answer she had got when she had asked about another name had touched Alice deeply. The young woman's final words of that first conversation still resonated in Alice's mind.

"Seemed like time for a change."

Alice smiled again as she looked at the blonde head pillowed on Carlos' shoulder. She wasn't the only one who trusted the big ex-Umbrella soldier completely. So did Kmart. And that said a lot.

Carlos glanced over at Alice. His eyes went back to the road for a moment and then returned to meet Alice's gaze. He knew why she was smiling at him and she could tell that he wasn't the least embarrassed about being found out for the softie he could be when he could afford it. He smiled back at her and then concentrated on driving.

No words had been exchanged. None needed to be. Alice relaxed and let herself go to the sway of the vehicle again. Somehow it just seemed right; the three of them together. A man she had shared so much with and a teen she had just met.

Maybe Kmart was right. Maybe it was time for a change.

(To Be Continued)