~ Trigon ~
by Red Hope

Disclaimer & Notices

Copyright: Capcom owns the Resident Evil franchise, not me.

Notices: This story contains violence and sexual content. Additionally, this story will contain grammatical or other errors. If you're feverish over the errors, feel free to privately message me about what you find and help me improve.

Summary: The Earth is flourishing, happily. But humans are endangered and on the verge of extinction after the greedy corporation Umbrella knowingly releases a viral plague. Small human civilizations survive including a moving convoy led by the strong Claire Redfield. Her solitary world turns upside down when she meets an infuriating yet mysterious woman named Alice. Claire soon learns about an underground survivor camp through Alice and heads there. However, Claire begins to secretly fear losing K-Mart, who has become her only source of strength over the years.

Feedback: redhope@redhope.net

Homepage: http://www.redhope.net

Write a Review: http://www.redhope.net/residentevil/review/oneshotform.html

List: http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/redhope/

Started: November 11, 2011

Series: One Shot

Disclaimer & Notices

Copyright: Capcom owns the Resident Evil franchise, not me.

Notices: This story contains violence and sexual content. Additionally, this story will contain grammatical or other errors. If you're feverish over the errors, feel free to privately message me about what you find and help me improve.

Summary: The Earth is flourishing, happily. But humans are endangered and on the verge of extinction after the greedy corporation Umbrella knowingly releases a viral plague. Small human civilizations survive including a moving convoy led by the strong Claire Redfield. Her solitary world turns upside down when she meets an infuriating yet mysterious woman named Alice. Claire soon learns about an underground survivor camp through Alice and heads there. However, Claire begins to secretly fear losing K-Mart, who has become her only source of strength over the years.

Feedback: redhope@redhope.net

Homepage: http://www.redhope.net

Write a Review: http://www.redhope.net/residentevil/review/oneshotform.html

List: http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/redhope/

Started: November 11, 2011

Series: One Shot


by Red Hope

Chapter 16

Carlos signaled for two team members to enter the next bedroom. He kept his rifle at the ready. A quick glance off to his right told him that Alice was still at his side. He noted her drawn kukris and no other weapon. He wondered how the Hell the woman could only fight with them.

Alice felt Carlos's eyes on her, but she didn't meet them. She instead continued down the hall until she came to a sealed door. She bent down and inhaled the musky odor that crept from under the door.

Carlos lifted his chin slightly when Alice nodded at the door. He flexed his grip on the gun. "What is it?"

"Undead," Alice whispered. She leaned closer to the door and breathed deeper. "Two or three." Her nostrils flared wider after the distinct scent excited her blood. "It's a basement."

"Fuckin' great," Carlos muttered. He doubted there was any light down there.

"I'll take care of it." Alice rose up and extracted her second kukris, metal scraped dangerously out of the sheath.

Carlos reached for his flashlight.

"I can see in the dark," Alice explained. She shifted away from the door. "Just open it." She felt like an animal about to be unleashed after Carlos grabbed the doorknob. Once it opened, she slipped in and disappeared into the darkness.

Carlos shut the door and flinched after he heard a heavy groan. A body dropped then metal sliced into more bone. He looked at Chase, who joined him after sweeping through the rest of the house.

Chase jumped from a soft boom under his feet. He questioningly looked at Carlos.

Carlos shrugged and just said, "Undead." A soft knock made him jerk the door open. He allowed Alice room to pass.

Chase raised an eyebrow at the blood dripping from Alice's blades.

"All clear," Alice remarked. She brushed past the men yet half turned towards them and mentioned, "I don't suggest going down there though." She grinned. "Unless you want to lose your lunches." She strolled off with droplets of blood in her wake.

"Shit," Chase murmured.

Carlos simply shut the basement door and was done with it. He warded off the stench that'd crept under his nose from having the door open too long. He hated the toe-curling smell.

Alice was wiping her blades off on an undead's shirt outside the house. She peered up at the sun, which hung low in the western sky. She wanted to get back to camp before long. Heavy boots steps made her look over at Carlos coming off the porch. From this distance, she could tell something was on his mind.

"Why did Claire team us up?" Carlos pressed after he was off the porch. He glanced down at the undead that Alice used for a rag.

Alice was blunt and stated, "So I can take up your slack."

Carlos slotted his eyes and eased closer to Alice because he didn't want others to hear them. "Are you planning to stay with the convoy?"

Alice canted her head and easily read what was worrying Carlos. That caused her trademark grin to surface. "You worried you'll be replaced, Carlos?"

Carlos glared at his former friend. Now the threat did feel quite real after Alice's tease. "Are you?"

Alice sheathed one kukris then the other casually rested against her left shoulder. "You'll have to take it up with Claire." She strolled off after she knew she'd pushed his limits. Humans were so easy to prod one way, or another. She recalled promising K-Mart that she would switch her target from Claire to Carlos. A devilish smile played on her lips because it was a good idea after all.

Carlos growled softly but barked orders at the team to finish with the other two houses. He noted Chase's curious glance, but Carlos just brushed it off. He didn't want to discuss it further.

The sun crept closer to the western horizon and warned the humans that night would be in three hours. The temperature would also dramatically drop tonight. Most likely there'd be plenty of wildlife migrating in the middle of the night. But long before that, the convoy had the camp setup and guarded. Their leader hadn't announced whether they were staying for more than one night.

K-Mart was helping Claire with a small issue with the quad. But Mikey's call on the radio made them stop for a minute.

"Is K-Mart with you by chance?" Mikey checked.

"Yes," Claire replied over the radio. She waited for Mikey's response.

"I need her help. One of the damn computers is having a problem," Mikey explained.

Claire sighed because she still needed K-Mart's help to get the job done faster. But Mikey's duties superseded hers right now. Those computers kept them steps ahead of the game often. "She's on her way."

K-Mart held out her hand for the rag that Claire had hooked to her hip. She received it and wiped the grease off her hands. "Think you can finish it on your own?"

Claire kicked the quad's side and replied, "Yeah." She was tired of the damn four-wheeler's problems, but they didn't have many options lately. "Just hand me that hose near you."

K-Mart twisted around and grabbed the quarter inch coiled oil hose that hung from the M35 cargo truck's gate. She handed it over along with the rag. "You have clamps?"

"Yeah." Claire squatted down beside the area of repair. "I got it, K." She didn't want her friend worrying. She instead grabbed her hat and flipped it around so it was reverse now.

K-Mart was stepping over the short gate. She softly grinned at Claire wearing the hat backwards, which usually only happened when Claire did mechanical work. She considered whether Claire use to do that all the time at the mechanic's shop.

"Stop staring and go, K," the leader ordered. But no threat was in her tone.

K-Mart had a soft blush. She hastily climbed off the cargo truck and rushed across the camp to Mikey's news van. She hopped into it and found Mikey had ripped out a desktop's box. "Mikey, seriously?"

"It's fucking whining really loud, K-Mart." Mikey had shut off the computer, unhooked it, and pulled it out. He was about to open it until K-Mart arrived in his van.

"It's probably the bearings in one of the fans going bad," K-Mart guessed. She came over and hastily helped her friend deal with the problem. Despite a fan didn't sound serious it could turn into a huge problem if the fan went dead then heat would rise in the computer. Mikey would have a serious issue once a computer was exposed to high heat.

In no time, K-Mart assessed the issue was two fans that were failing. She told him to get out the parts box so she could find the right size replacement fans. She scrounged around in the parts box until she found the right fans for the job.

"How you know this shit?" Mikey was standing there with his hands on his hips.

"Just like you know how to hack," K-Mart replied. She grinned at his doubtful look.

Mikey shook his head and argued, "I never got the hardware stuff." He also didn't plan on learning and always deferred to K-Mart's knowledge.

K-Mart grabbed the screwdriver off the long desk then knelt beside the overturned computer box. "It's really not hard."

Mikey rolled his eyes but knelt down on the other side. He watched his friend fix the computer. "So what's up with Alice?"

K-Mart paused but continued removing the nearly broken fan from the back of the box. "What you mean?"

"Is she staying or going or just gonna keep passing through?" Mikey curiously studied K-Mart, but he couldn't see much because her hat's brim hid almost all her face.

"I think she's staying... at least for awhile." K-Mart tossed the bad fan aside but reused the screws for the new one.

"That's amazing," Mikey stated in mild shock.

K-Mart paused and peered up at her friend. "Why?"

Mikey slightly widened his eyes. "Seriously?" He shook his head and explained, "Claire is going to let her stay... with the convoy?"

K-Mart was baffled by his thoughts and gave him a long, curious stare.

"Claire Redfield," Mikey emphasized to K-Mart.

"Yeah I got that, Mikey," K-Mart snapped. "What you talking about though?"

Mikey held out his hand at K-Mart, "Mate, don't you get it? Alice is obviously infected or some bullshit but Claire is letting her stay?" He shook his head and smacked the open box's frame. "Don't you get how huge that is?"

K-Mart frowned and decided to play dumb. "No, explain it to me." She went back to her work, knowing her brim would hide her face further.

Mikey sighed loudly and wondered why K-Mart didn't understand it. "You know how Claire is about protecting the convoy."

Protecting me, K-Mart mentally corrected. But she still listened to her friend while she swapped out the fans.

"But she's letting an infected person we know nothing about stay with us?" Mikey blew out a breath. "Either Claire has lost it or..."

"Or what?" K-Mart ventured. She looked at Mikey this time.

Mikey became shy, which was rather rare. He ran his fingers through his unruly hair. "Or... she likes Alice... really likes Alice." He hoped maybe K-Mart would fill him in since she was riding with them in the truck.

K-Mart realized Mikey's good point. Despite she knew this already, it was more the fact that Mikey picked up on it too. Just how many people in the convoy were figuring it out about Claire and Alice? And did they already know about her and Claire too? She decided to throw a wrench into Mikey's line of thought.

"I think Claire just wants to use Alice." K-Mart tossed the second broken fan out. "Alice's powers are useful."

Mikey developed a thin frown. "I don't know." His friend's shrug made him sigh. "The other idea is way more badass."

K-Mart shook her head and pointed the screwdriver at her friend. "And over thought too." Hopefully her words would deflate Mikey's ideas. She finished bolting down the last new fan.

"What if Claire really did like her?" Mikey countered, gently.

K-Mart sighed and joked, "Then I'd lose my ride."

"No worries, mate... nobody outranks you in Claire's book." Mikey enjoyed K-Mart's small grin. He went a bit more serious. "It's just a nice thought though."

K-Mart was hooking the molex connectors to the fans. "What's that?"

"Claire being happy." Mikey watched K-Mart pause then finished the job. "I mean L.J. has Betty. Charlie and Amanda. Katie and Tom," Mikey was checking off. "I have you. And Carlos has Chase."

"What?" K-Mart barked. "Carlos has Chase?"

"C&C, mate." Mikey smirked and insisted, "But I'm sure they're not... well you know."

K-Mart frantically shook her head at the idea. She put the cover back on the box and grabbed the thumbscrews.

"Save a horse... ride cowboy," Mikey muttered. "Totally Brokeback Mountain, ya know."

"Mikey," K-Mart hissed after more references about Chase and Carlos. She didn't want to hear it. His laughs made her sigh loudly.

Mikey placed his hands on his thighs. "There's somebody for everybody."

K-Mart turned the box upright then started rehooking the wires.

"And Claire deserves to be happy... out of all of us." Mikey helped his friend push the box into its home. "Give it a try?" he checked.

"Yup." K-Mart hit the power button and grinned at Mikey's happy smile.

"Thank, god." Mikey didn't have to cover his ears this time.

K-Mart rolled her eyes and countered, "I did the fix."

Mikey smirked and replied, "Yeah, you're alright, mate." He clapped K-Mart on the back for it. "Thanks."

"No worries," K-Mart fired off. She grinned at him then stood up to see the flatscreen monitor was alive again with the motherboard's boot process. "My job here is done." She wiped her dusty hands on her jeans.

Mikey was happy, but he faced his friend. "So, you think she likes Alice?"

K-Mart swallowed a slew of replies that popped into her mind. She instead shook her head and started to the rear of the van. "She's Claire Redfield, Mikey." Turning some, she held onto the left door.

"Untouchable," Mikey whispered.

K-Mart quirked a grin briefly. It wasn't that Claire was untouchable, she just wanted to be unreachable. K-Mart tugged on her hat's brim then hopped out of the van.

"Thanks again, K-Mart," Mikey called.

K-Mart waved off his praise and continued through the camp. She kept thinking about Mikey's words about Claire's happiness, and it was true. But the problem was that Claire Redfield didn't believe in that idea, at all. Then perhaps it was time that K-Mart and Alice talked Claire into a new direction. Well most likely it would be up to K-Mart to do all the talking while Alice did all the action. K-Mart was quickly learning that Alice spoke to Claire through actions while K-Mart knew how to pierce words through Claire's armor.

Sunset was still two hours away so K-Mart decided to retreat from the busy camp so she could have some time alone. She needed to think through how she could steer each of their future's correctly. It was a scary, nerve wracking situation in K-Mart's opinion. However, she figured out that she was temporarily joining Claire and Alice until they could do it on their own.

Just beside the camp, K-Mart entered the Carter Fold theater that'd once been a popular attraction for folk music. And it took a bit of searching until K-Mart found a seat that wasn't entirely gone or burrowed out by mice. Flopping into the cushy seat, K-Mart propped her boots up against the chair in front of her. She quietly studied the rundown stage down at the bottom that probably once hosted some wild mountain shows for out here. Some part of her wished she could see it instead of just imagining it.

After a grumble, K-Mart sunk deeper into the chair and considered her current situation after having a minor explosion this morning in the truck. She rubbed her brow, which caused her hat to wiggle up. She jerked the brim down and groused again. This morning could have gone worse but also a lot better. Alice was trusting K-Mart to navigate the relationship of all three of them through the foggy waters they rowed into recently. But what'd surprised K-Mart was Claire's confession about losing her and Alice to each other. That gave everything K-Mart needed to know about Claire's emotions and desires.

K-Mart drummed her left fingers over her belt buckle a few times as she considered the options. In an apocalyptic world, time was precise and right now time seemed far more precise since Umbrella appeared to be attacking them randomly. But the hardship of convincing Claire what K-Mart had in mind would be a greater challenge than taking on an Umbrella facility. There was some hope because if the Reston facility was captured then maybe she and Alice could capture Claire too. To Hell with timing, K-Mart declared, because right now only mattered to them. Tomorrow was a gift.

Set in her plan, K-Mart dropped her boots off the front chair and onto the concrete floor that was cracked and being taken back by the Earth through vegetation. She straightened up a little and considered how to initiate her plans. K-Mart puckered her lips then suddenly strong hands snared her shoulders from behind. A scream tore up from her chest and out her mouth as she sprung out of the chair. She swung around with her fisted hands at the ready until she took in Alice Abernathy's smirking face.

Alice had her open palms raised and prepared to catch any punch. She couldn't control her evil grin at seeing the teen's panicked reaction. "You always wonder off from the camp by yourself when Umbrella is targeting the convoy?"

K-Mart growled and wanted to really sock a punch at Alice for scaring the life out of her. "Yes," she snarled. Lowering her hands, she puffed once then shook her head. "You do like to push people's buttons."

Alice chuckled and explained, "It's my only enjoyment in life." She grabbed the chair's back then easily swung over and into the lower row next to K-Mart. Effortlessly, she flopped into the seat next to the one K-Mart had occupied earlier. She reached over and patted the dirty cushion of the chair in front of K-Mart.

Taking the hint, K-Mart dropped into the chair next to her lover and noticed that Alice was doing the same thing with propping her boots on the chairs in front of them. She curiously gazed over at the older woman. "Claire?"

Alice scratched her nose but continued studying the rundown stage down at the ground floor. "Yup."

K-Mart wasn't surprised that the leader sent Alice to find her. She shook her head and grinned at Claire's constant concern. But in reality it was extremely serious because they were having problems with Umbrella.

"So what were you thinking so hard about earlier?" Alice softly inquired.

K-Mart played with her hat's brim once she realized Alice probably had been watching her before sneaking up from behind. "A little of this... a little of that."

Alice nodded and concluded, "Claire and me." She finally looked at the teen. "You made a Hell of a mess earlier in the truck."

"Me?" K-Mart poked herself in the chest then pointed at Alice. She was annoyed and sputtered, "Y-y-you started that mess by telling Claire we had sex."

Alice tilted her head and teased, "I don't think you did a good job of cleaning it up."

"Oh I didn't see you doing much better," K-Mart prodded. She sighed when Alice smirked at her. "I can feel why Claire gets annoyed at you."

Alice chuckled and folded her hands over her stomach. "That's what attracts you two to me."

K-Mart laughed and twisted in the chair a little so she could see Alice better. "Are you finally getting cocky instead of idiotic?"

Alice's grin instantly returned at the teen's suddenly outspoken manners. "I can see how you and Claire probably didn't get along at the start."

K-Mart huffed and settled back into the seat. "I'm so glad we're all getting this comfortable with each other."

Alice chuckled. "One big happy family."

K-Mart rolled her eyes and slouched in the chair. But still a smile played on her lips at the thought of a family. Somehow it could work into that direction if certain issues were settled and decisions made between them. She felt her shoulder bumped by Alice.

"Where'd you go?" Alice murmured.

K-Mart sighed because she could tell Alice really was concerned and not teasing her. "I want to talk to you and Claire, together... the three of us."

Alice raised an eyebrow and seriously asked, "Is it going to be anything like earlier?" She saw how K-Mart glanced away. "I don't think Claire can handle much more, K-Mart."

K-Mart shook her head but still kept staring off to her left. "She's Claire Redfield," she softly argued.

Alice leaned to her right and studied the teen's profile more. She waited for an explanation to that statement that didn't make a whole lot of sense, to her.

K-Mart finally met the older woman's gaze and simply explained, "You'll get it... one day." She dropped her boots to the concrete floor. "You up for this talk?"

Alice raised her hands and replied, "It can't get any worse." But she received a glare for the remark. She went serious and straightened up. She hooked her lover's chin and honestly answered, "For you, yes." She ran her thumb along K-Mart's soft lips. She wanted to ask what it was about so she could gauge how it'll affect Claire. Despite she didn't say it out loud, she worried about Claire's emotional reserves. Alice understood the madness it brought to have a constant lockdown on emotions.

K-Mart bowed her head and murmured, "I'm just scared about Claire." Her words were so soft, and she wondered if Alice had heard her.

"I know." Alice had a thin frown, but she rid of it once she tilted K-Mart's head up and could see K-Mart's face again. "From what I can tell, I don't think she's going to walk away from us."

K-Mart bit her bottom lip because she compared Alice's words against her idea. "What if you're wrong?"

Alice shifted her hand over to her lover's cheek. "I think you already know the truth." She dipped her head closer and softly checked, "Do you think she'll walk away from this?"

"No," K-Mart whispered. She did know Claire better than anybody. It wasn't a guarantee yet it was some kind of assurance.

"We'll work it out," Alice promised.

K-Mart nodded and actually felt more confident about their pending talk. Her head was tilted up then Alice tenderly kissed her.

This time, it was Alice that gifted her lover with strength. She slowly withdrew and ruefully smiled at K-Mart's wistful features that seemed misplaced in this Hellish world. Alice thoroughly enjoyed that sweet innocence about K-Mart.

"Come on," Alice murmured. She stood up and was warmed when K-Mart reached behind for her hand. Alice was guided out of the facility into the late afternoon sun.

"Did Claire send out a hunting party?" K-Mart asked.

"Yes." Alice released her friend's hand once they started near the camp down at the bottom of the hill.

"Did Carlos go?" K-Mart glanced over her shoulder at the older woman. She was pleased when Alice nodded. Then another thought about Carlos came to mind. "Was he pissed you were in the recon team?"

"He wasn't happy," Alice replied. She shifted closer to K-Mart as they slipped between the box truck and a rundown museum for the Carter Family.

"Let me guess, you pushed his buttons too." K-Mart grinned after Alice gave her that trademark smirk. A laugh bubbled up from her stomach and shook her chest. She liked the fact that Alice was getting his goad. "He's always been after Claire... since the start."

Alice curiously studied the teen. "Has he been?"

K-Mart nodded and explained, "I feel for Claire. She has told him in so many ways but he's so..."

"Stupid," Alice finished. She grinned at K-Mart's weak glower. She shrugged and explained, "If he can't pick up on the fact that Claire is gay then it's his idiotic mistake."

K-Mart narrowed her eyes and quietly asked, "You can tell Claire is gay?" She only received a raised eyebrow in response. A soft hum escaped K-Mart then she looked over at Claire talking to Mikey next to the news van.

Claire rubbed her brow and bowed her head after Mikey's report. "You think you can get back in?"

Mikey held up his hands and replied, "I think so... but I can't promise anything." He dropped his hands and looked at K-Mart, who was approaching with Alice at her side.

Claire gazed over at the pair coming to them. She held K-Mart's eyes for a moment then cut her eyes to Alice.

K-Mart shoved her hands into her open leather jacket's pockets. She noted Mikey's concerned look first.

"What's up?" Alice worriedly checked. She looked from Mikey to the convoy leader.

Claire debated how to answer because Alice was still viewed as an outsider by many. However, Claire oddly trusted Alice in ways she normally wouldn't with newcomers. She could tell that Mikey was deferring to her choice to answer Alice, or not. After making her decision, she quietly explained, "Mikey has lost the GPS link."

Mikey realized the new bridge between Alice and Claire. He nearly grinned but hastily covered it. He still was cautious about going into great detail around Alice if Claire didn't approve first.

"Because we're in a valley... around mountains," K-Mart tried playing off. But even she knew better.

Mikey shook his head and blurted, "I'm blocked out."

"Blocked?" K-Mart echoed. A furrow creased her brow, and her stomach sunk lower. She peered up at Claire. "Umbrella blocked us."

Alice ran her fingers through her hair. "It's the only explanation."

"I mean I always get booted off at regular intervals," Mikey explained to the group. "But now I'm actually blocked from the satellites."

"Has this happened before?" Alice checked.

"No... never." Mikey was clearly unnerved by this part.

"But you can hack through it, right?" K-Mart was hopeful.

Mikey shrugged and replied, "Maybe." He shook his head and looked between the women. "Even if I do... how long before I'm just blocked again?"

K-Mart frowned and tugged on her hat much like Claire would do. She looked at the group. "Why would Umbrella want to block us now? " Her mind was running through the possibilities.

Several ideas jumped through Alice's mind about why Umbrella would deny the convoy any GPS navigation. But nothing was solid yet. "I'm not sure," Alice whispered.

Claire suspected why, but she didn't voice it and instead focused on Mikey. "See what you can do to hack into the satellites and reinstate the GPS link." She watched him nod. "Keep me posted too."

"Yeah... definitely," Mikey promised. He turned to the van and decided to get to work.

Claire shifted her attention to K-Mart and mentioned, "I thought you were still helping Mikey."

K-Mart folded her arms at the pending lecture because she left the camp without telling a soul.

Claire shifted closer and lowered her voice but there was warning in her eyes. "You don't have a gun or a radio."

K-Mart flushed from embarrassment especially because it was in front of Alice too. "I wasn't far," she argued.

Claire felt Alice's intense gaze on them both. She wouldn't drag Alice into this more than she already was now. "You know the drill, K." She shook her head and whispered, "If you don't keep your head clear then something is going to happen to you." She straightened up after making her point.

K-Mart looked away and couldn't argue that Claire was right. She had just left without taking any proper precautions that Claire had drilled into her head a million times. The need for alone time was greater than her common sense earlier.

Alice grasped the teen's shoulder and squeezed some. "You do need to be careful." She frowned and mentioned, "We did run into several undead during the recon sweep."

K-Mart gazed up at the pair and saw Alice was openly worried while Claire's own concerns were hidden in her body language. She nodded at the pair and the second squeeze to her shoulder helped settle her. Once Alice released her, she gathered herself and recalled why they'd sought out Claire.

Alice took the lead and regarded Claire. "K-Mart wanted to have a talk."

Claire glanced sidelong at the news van's open doors then nodded at the pair. She indicated for K-Mart to move away from the van. She wasn't sure she'd like this talk that her friend had in mind, but she was willing to try for K-Mart.

"Where should we go?" K-Mart asked. She fell into step between the older women. "The truck?"

Claire shook her head and replied, "No." She tugged her hat down. "We'll just be interrupted." Nor did she like survivors being able to see them in the truck despite it had tinted windows.

"I know a spot." Alice put her hands into her jacket's pockets. "There's a well house close by."

"Better get a flashlight," Claire muttered. She redirected them to the truck where they had their supplies in the truck bed. She dropped the tailgate and dug out the Maglite to use in the well house.

K-Mart flinched when the convoy leader slammed the tailgate. She followed Alice, who was leading them to the well house. The convoy leader stayed next to her, which made K-Mart a little more nervous. Doubts about her idea started surfacing as they grew closer to the well house. She wiped her sweaty palms on her jeaned legs and wished the cool afternoon air helped her flushed body.

Alice went to the pump house first then grasped the rusty doorhandle. "Give me a minute," she told the pair. She wanted to confirm it was safe from anything dangerous.

Claire held out the flashlight in offer but lowered it after Alice shook her head. She watched Alice slip inside the pitch black well house.

Alice descended the three cracked concrete steps then scanned the interior of the pump house. She sniffed twice but only inhaled the musty scent. She squatted down then slowly checked over the floor to make sure there weren't any of mother nature's hazardous creatures like snakes. Content that nothing was inside, she went back out and drew the pair into the well house.

Coming down the steps last among the three, Claire was reacheding to her hip and switched off the radio. It was a risky call, but for a few minutes she could dedicate her time to K-Mart and Alice. Next she screwed off the top of the Maglite and was able to use it as a makeshift torch that lit the entire pump house enough. She slid the end of the Maglite into the lense cap to hold it upright. She set the Maglite down on the ground near the steps so they all could see each other in the privacy of the well house. Shutting the single door, she faced the other two women.

K-Mart stood between the pair in their triangular stance around the small space. She nervously clenched her hands, especially when Claire folded her arms in a defensive manner.

"What's on your mind, K?" Claire struggle to be gentle after what'd happened this morning. She was still inwardly recovering from that experience.

Alice easily noticed how K-Mart was rather anxious. She wished to comfort her friend but knew to let K-Mart handle this on her own. A glance at Claire told Alice that a lot was on the line right now.

After a deep breath, K-Mart looked between the pair and gained her courage. "I know everything is really mixed up between us three." She half expected a smart joke from Alice, but she only earned silence and wary looks. "But I've been thinking it through."

Claire was growing tenser by the second because she wasn't sure could deal with K-Mart's pending idea. She shifted her weight to her left foot and continued acting calm on the outside.

"I think we can do..." K-Mart was rather flushed around her cheeks. Her heart boomed loudly in her ears and a slight buzz built up in her head. But she took a deep breath and finished, "We can do a tri and make it work."

"A tri?" Alice softly questioned. She could tell Claire was just as confused too.

K-Mart nodded and looked at Alice. "A tri-relationship." She bit her bottom lip then shifted her gaze to Claire. "It's where three consenting adults have a relationship."

Claire shut her eyes and bowed her head after her friend brought the idea to light.

Alice hadn't considered that angle because she'd never heard of three adults having a relationship. It sent her mind into a tailspin on how in the Hell such a thing was plausible. When she looked over at Claire, she could tell Claire was chasing the idea too.

The convoy leader shook her head several times then blurted out, "Is this about a threesome, K?" She instantly regretted her words after K-Mart's features went from hurt to anger in a matter of seconds.

"Seriously, Claire?" K-Mart was becoming offended once she thought more about it. "You know me... I'm a regular Carlos sleeping around the convoy."

"That's not what I meant," Claire fought. "I just... don't understand what you want, K-Mart." She was visibly frustrated.

"I just said-"

"I know," the leader cut off, "But have you honestly thought through all the difficulty of this?" She shook her head and explained her point of view. "You already know why I refuse to have a relationship with somebody. Do you think I'll even remotely attempt a tri-relationship if I won't..." She sighed and moved away because of K-Mart's upset. She rubbed her forehead, which was starting to ache.

"Why won't you have a relationship?" Alice finally spoke up. She felt K-Mart's eyes on her, but she was staring hard at Claire's back.

Claire faced the pair and honestly saw the curiosity in Alice's eyes. It wasn't often that Claire could see that in Alice. "I lead a convoy." She approached the pair but was fully focused on Alice. "I won't risk their lives by being distracted with a love interest."

Alice carefully considered the leader's words then she looked over at K-Mart before replying to Claire. She nodded at Claire and stated, "You won't risk K-Mart's life."

Claire set her jaw at Alice's easy perception and didn't like being seen through. "It's selfish." She cut her eyes to K-Mart. "You know not to ask this of me, K.... you know my answer."

"But it's alright that we keep having this one sided sex?" K-Mart fought. She was getting upset further.

Claire went red around the cheeks that K-Mart was bringing up the sex and with Alice here too. She quietly reminded, "You understand it."

And K-Mart did, from the start. She accepted it too. But that didn't mean she wouldn't challenge Claire's thinking. "How the Hell is any of this fair?" She shook her head then debated, "You're just going to sacrifice your chance at happiness because you think that the convoy deserves every piece of you?"

Claire clenched her jaw and studied K-Mart for a moment then noticed Alice's openly worried look. She shook her head and snapped, "I have nothing to offer, K-Mart."

K-Mart stared wide eye. "Because you won't even try!"

Alice moved and touched K-Mart's chest to get her to calm down. "Stop," she gently warned her lover.

K-Mart turned her head away so she couldn't see Claire.

The convoy leader shifted over to the steps, but she didn't leave. She faced the pair, who were calming down too. She then told, "If you two want to have a relationship then..." It took a lot for her to work the blessing up into her mouth and let it spill out. "Then I'm fine with that."

K-Mart slipped past Alice and stood between the older women but faced Claire. "I could be dead tomorrow, Claire." She saw how Claire went cold at that statement. "You going to pretend to be fine with that too?" She neared her friend, who was poised at the bottom of the steps. "This isn't about the convoy or being selfish, is it?" K-Mart started seeing what was holding Claire back.

Claire shook her head at K-Mart's attempt to get under her steely skin. She looked back at Alice, who remained in the shadows of the light and darkness. "Do you agree with this tri?"

K-Mart looked sidelong at Alice, who moved forward into the light.

Alice stood a few feet behind K-Mart's left shoulder. "It wouldn't be easy, but I would attempt it." She swallowed hard then softly added, "I'm drawn to you both the same way... just for different reasons." She hesitated for a second. "That's worth making it work."

K-Mart was relieved that at least Alice was open to it. She could only pray that Claire would open up to it too. But she wasn't sure how to convince Claire that it was possible to be a leader and have happiness.

Claire had half expected Alice's refusal, especially since Alice was older and may be more traditional.

"Claire, you know finding any happiness in this screwed up world is worth it," K-Mart murmured. "If it happens between us three then we shouldn't waste it."

"And where does that leave the convoy?" Claire reclaimed the convoy as her shield against K-Mart's idea.

K-Mart bowed her head and wiped the frustration from her face. She whispered, "You don't have to lead alone anymore."

Claire felt the soft words crack her shield in half. She reversed onto the first step and hoarsely fought, "I can only lead alone." She turned on her boots then disappeared out of the pump house.

K-Mart went up the first step but faltered from chasing after the convoy leader. She nearly swore a blue streak. She moved off the bottom step and removed her hat. She crumbled to her knees then clenched the hat's brim between her hands in a display of upset and anger.

Alice was quickly knelt beside her lover and touched K-Mart's back. "Take it easy," she gently advised.

K-Mart nodded and was pacing her breathes despite her heart ached so bad. She couldn't understand how to reach Claire. "She's not..." After a frantic headshake, she muttered, "She's just scared." She peered up at Alice. "She knows if she's with us then she'll have to show emotions."

"I know." Alice could relate to Claire's desire to hide. She had done it for a long time, but she also had walked the Earth long enough to learn not to let go of something good. Once K-Mart began to openly care about her and Claire showed it in her quiet ways then Alice made her choice not to leave again. "Just give her time, K."

"But how much before it's too late?" K-Mart rasped. She bowed her head after glancing up at Alice. She gripped the hat's brim tighter. "You're right... you can't make the horse drink the water."

Alice touched the teen's opposite cheek and drew K-Mart's head towards her. "Claire didn't say no," she reminded. "Give her some time... she'll get thirsty soon."

K-Mart lost any argument. For the first time there was hope shining in Alice's features. K-Mart let out a low breath, which freed all her distraught about how poorly their talk went this afternoon. She instead gathered her strength then nodded in agreement. She had pushed Claire a lot today and upon reflection, they had covered a lot of ground.

"Come on." Alice helped her friend stand again.

K-Mart put on her hat while Alice took care of the flashlight. She left the well house first with Alice on her heels. She waited for Alice to join her then they started back to camp. "Thank you," she offered.

Alice touched the teen's upper back and wished she could offer more to sooth K-Mart's emotions. But this was enough for now. "Anytime." She gave K-Mart a small smile.

K-Mart inhaled deeply and felt better. She looked ahead at the convoy, which was starting to glow from campfires. "Have you heard if we're staying an extra day?"

"Nothing yet," Alice admitted. She then casted a glance over her right shoulder after she heard Carlos's voice far in the distance. She narrowed her eyes after she barely made out his next question to Mikey.

Standing with his arms folded, Carlos continued watching Alice and K-Mart. "What you think that was all about?" he asked Mikey. They were in front of the diesel tanker.

Mikey shook his head and shoved his hands into his jean pockets. "I don't know." He looked up at Carlos. "I couldn't get a hold of Claire on the radio." Either the convoy leader had turned off the radio, which he doubted, or there wasn't any reception in the pump house. He suspected it was the latter of the two.

Carlos hooked his thumbs through his belt in usual habit.

Mikey shrugged at Carlos's curiosity then moved away. "I gotta catch Claire." He hurried off on his mission.

However, Carlos's eyes kept following Alice and K-Mart into the camp near by the bonfires. He'd saw Claire leave the pump house first and noted her unusually fast pace. There wasn't much he could discern on her face, but her body language had been filled with tension. Whatever had gone on in the well house had to be significant. Carlos set aside his thoughts and decided to get his duties done. But lingering thoughts about what was going on between the three most beautiful women in the convoy was nipping at the back of his mind.


Red Hope's Scrolls
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