Chapter 1: Her name is Alice
Snow began to fall as a young woman, wearing a school uniform with shoulder length dark brown hair and bright blue eyes ran to a bakery and candy shop, holding onto her small white purse. She took a deep breathe then sighed, smelling the wonderful aroma that filled the little shop. As she walked up to the counter, she noticed an old man in a suit talking to the owner.
"So, the usual order then?"
"Yes; all of your finest strawberry cakes, candies and chocolates as my tab will allow." She noticed several bags next to the man's feet filled with white boxes and what she thought was a toy robot. The owner looked over at the girl and smiled. "Oh, Alice! How are you?"
Alice smiled, "I'm fine, Blaine. Just got caught by the snow." She looked over at the old man and bowed in respect. "Hello, sir. My name is Alice. It's a pleasure to meet you." The elderly man turned to her and smiled.
"Why, hello, Alice. It's a pleasure meeting you as well."
"If you don't mind me asking, why do you have so many bags?" The old man laughed a little bit as the owner handed Alice a large bag filled with week-old baked goods.
"Well, you see I'm shopping for four children I watch over… well, three little boys and a teenager I should say; a 4-year old, 5-year old, a 6-year old and a 16-year old, if memory serves. What about you, Alice? That's a lot of sweets for one girl to eat by herself." Alice smiled and closed the bag. "Oh, these? These are for the children I often visit at the local orphanages around town."
"Sir, your order is ready." Blaine smiled and handed the old man three more bags. The man nodded and attempted to carry all of his bags at once, nearly dropping half of them. Alice quickly put her bag down and took some of the bags from him. "Please, sir. Let me help you with that." Alice said to him with a smile.
"Oh, are you sure, miss Alice? You really don't have to."
"I insist. Mr. Blaine, could you hold on to my bag for me while I help him with his?" Blaine nodded as Alice opened the door, letting the man out first.
"So," she said, "Where do these children live?"
"Just follow me, Miss Alice."
The man led Alice to a huge building behind a stone fence. "Welcome to Wammy's House, Miss Alice," he said with a smile as Alice smiled back and followed him up the stairs. "I believe the younger three are asleep right now, but I'll introduce you to the oldest one." The man opened the door, "I'm back." As Alice walked in, she saw a small boy, about 5 years old with fiery red hair, running around with his pants on his head yelling, "I'm a ninja! You can't see me!!" The old man looked aghast as a young man, about 16 wearing a long sleeve white shirt and baggy jeans, ran up to the child and picked him up. "Got you. You are not a ninja… who told you that?"
The old man coughed as the teen looked at him and Alice. "Oh, you're back," he said, putting the child down, "And who is that?" Before the man could answer, Alice placed the bags down, reached into her purse and pulled out a small napkin. Kneeling down, she began to wiped the child's face off. "Now, why would such a cute little boy run around with his pants on his head?" The child grinned.
"I'mma ninja! I was gonna attack the chocolate monster with my neat ninja skills!" Alice laughed and helped the child back into his pants. The teen sighed and started to walk away when the old man coughed again.
"How did this happened?" The youth faced the man with his hands in his pockets.
"I was reviewing the evidence from the case in the U.S. I told Mello to watch Matt for only five minutes."
"And in five minutes, Matt became a nudist. I instructed you not to review the case until after I returned, L." Alice looked up in surprise.
"You… are L? The famous detective?" The teen turned his attention to Alice as another child, about 6 years old with shiny blonde hair and a chocolate bar in his hand, ran up to L and grabbed his pants leg. L looked down and sighed, "Why did you tell Matt he was a ninja?" The child smiled as Alice stood up.
"He was getting on my nerves. 'Play with me, Mello… I'm bored, Mello…'" The old man shook his head in disbelief as Alice noticed something from the corner of her eyes.
"Regardless, Mello. I trusted you to look over Matt and you failed to do so. And another thing, I --" L stopped as Alice walked towards the living room, "Where is she going?" Alice stopped at the far corner and kneeled down. She smiled softly, "You don't have to be so shy. I'm a friend." Mello walked over to her and started laughing. He saw a small boy, dressed in white pajamas that looked a little too big for him, twirling his curly white hair sitting on the floor.
"That's Near. He doesn't talk much and he's very, very shy," Mello said as Alice walked over to the bags she set down and pulled out the robot. She walked back over to the shy child and held out the toy. She then whispered as soft as an angel, "Hi, Near. I'm Alice. This toy is for you." Near looked at the young woman for a moment then took the robot, with a smile finding its way on his face.
"Amazing," L said, looking over at Near as he hugged the toy, "Near never opens up to people he doesn't know… unless he feels that he can trust them. What did you say your name was?" Alice stood up, dusting off her uniform and smiled.
"My name is Alice Fairbrook and it's an honor to meet all of you."