IMPORTANT: If you're looking for the new chapter, it's the chapter before this one. Since this isn't part of the main story, I moved it to the last chapter posting.

Side Story

James and Alice, Part 1

It was about twenty-three years ago when the two first meant, James and Alice. Alice was only ten when she first encountered James, thirteen at time. On a small island, in one of it's many ports, the two meant.

Alice lived in a small town close to the coast until the age of eight. Orphan at the young age of six, having lost her family in a battle between the Noble's and pirates, Alice spent two years living on the streets, fighting to survive among the other orphan. When Alice was eight, a midwife from nearby port came by to visit an old friend. It was then that Alice's life took a turn when the two meant by chance.

The day was clear with a slight breeze coming from the sea, carrying the smell of slat water. It was a market day and venders had their stalls set up on the streets, ready to sell food and clothes to paying customers. Alice was wondering from one street to the next, checking out the stalls, looking for the one she could easy swipe goods from without being spotted by the vender. It was then that she spot another orphan caught stealing. The face of the man running the stall was bright red from rage.

"Damn brat," shouted the man, "You thought you could steal from me and get away with it!" Then he started to kick the orphan boy not much older then Alice.

"Please forgive me," sobbed the boy, "I won't do it again."

The man doesn't let up on the brutal kicking. Alice watched the man kick the boy over and over again. The boy continued to plea and cry for the man to forgive him and stop the attack, but the man doesn't say a word and only continues kicking until his rage is satisfied.

Alice watch as adults walk by, ignoring the scene, not even glancing over. She clinched her fists with anger, wishing there was something she could do stop the beating. Her eyes never left boy and she continued to watch until, at last, the man stopped the attack, spits on the boy, and walked away, leaving the beaten boy in the alley.

Alice rushed over to the boy as soon as the man was gone. She turned the boy over on his side. The boy is bleeding from his nose. Alice can see bruises already on the boy's face and arms. He is unconsciousness, but still breathing. Alice sighed, thankful that the boy was still alive. She left the boy on his side and felt his sides. Alice thanked the gods and goddesses that none of his ribs was broken or the bones in his arms or legs.

"What happen here, little girl." Alice looked up to see a woman looking down at her.

Alice glared at the woman. "What does it look like? He was beaten mercilessly. And for what? A little piece of food."

The woman smiled down at Alice. Her face has creases around the corners of her mouth and eyes as she smiled. "Let me have a look at him."

"Why should I? What can you do?"

The woman ignored Alice's glare and kneeled down next to the boy. "What can you do for him? You are orphan just like him and only a little girl." The woman carefully examined the boy under Alice's watchful eyes.

"More then anyone in this town would do for him," Alice mumbled.

"The boy is lucky, no broken bones."

Alice nodded her head in agreement. "Expect for his nose and his left arm was dislocated from his shoulder."

The woman looked over at Alice, "It seems like you did not need me to know what was wrong with him." Alice looked at the woman and said nothing. "But there's nothing more you can do. You cannot carelessly move him." Alice was about to snap back, saying she knew, but the woman was already up and calling someone over, "Bill!" A young man came rushing over. "I need you to move the boy there, over to the carriage. His left should is dislocated, so be careful."

"Yes, Madame." Bill walked over to the boy and picked him up.

Alice started to panic. "What are you doing with him?"

"We are taking him over to the place where I am staying to treat him. You welcome to join us," replied the woman. Alice doesn't hesitate and followed the two.

The carriage took them to a middle class neighborhood, not too far from where Alice use to live with her family. A woman walked out, who Alice recognized. "Welcome back Jane," greeted Mrs. Williams. Bill carried the boy towards the house under the Jane's watchful eyes.

"I brought guests, Susan," said Jane.

Susan looked over at Alice. "Hello, Alice! It's been a while since I last saw you. How have you been?"

Alice meekly smiled. "Sorry for the intrusion, Mrs. Williams."

"You know this little girl?" asked Jane as she follows Susan into the house, motioning Alice to follows the two inside.

"You could say I was an acquaintance with Alice's family before they passed away. Her mother was the local midwife."

Inside the house, the boy was already laying on a bed. Jane went straight to work as soon as she was inside, issuing commands the moment she stepped in. "Bill, hold the boy down while I relocate his shoulder," then follow by, "Girl, get a rag and clean water to clean his face with."

The conversation with Susan was on hold as Jane worked on healing the boy through out the day. Alice ran errands for Jane and assisted her when needed. By nightfall, the boy was sleeping peacefully with a full stomach. His arm was in a sling, his broken nose was straighten out, and he was all cleaned up. As soon as the boy was taken care of, Susan had supper ready on the table for everyone, and the four sat down to eat.

They ate in silence for a couple of minutes, enjoying Susan's wonderful cooking, until Jane broke the silence. "So this was the girl you wanted to introduce me to, Susan."

Alice looked up from her meal, surprised. Susan smiled as she spoke, "Yes, she is. She is everything I said she would be, is she not?"

"Yes, she is, and more," said Jane as if she hadn't expect any less.

"What is going?" asked Alice confused.

Susan turned her attention to Alice. "Jane came here to meet you. She has been looking for an apprentice and I told her you would be perfect."

"An apprentice? Why would you…"

Susan cuts Alice off, "I owe your mother and there is nothing I can do for you here. You have the innate ability and some experience from observing your mother."

Alice opened her mouth to say something when Jane lifted her hand to silence her. Alice shut her mouth instantly. "You have little choice in this matter, child. It would be foolish to stay here as an orphan because of pride and not become my apprentice." Jane paused for a spilt second and looked Alice straight in the eyes, "That is, if I will have you as an apprentice."

Alice doesn't look away from Jane's eyes as she spoke, "I would not dare decline such an offer from you, madam, not after what you just did. If you will have me as an apprentice, then I will accept with honor."

Jane laughed. "I like this girl! She has such a strong spirit for such a young one." She took a sip from her glass. "Then it is settled. You will become my apprentice and leave with me tomorrow to Port Charles to your new home."

And so, it was settle. Alice left with Jane and Bill the next day to Port Charles, where Jane lived. Two years went by and Alice turned ten. Everyday, Alice worked hard as Jane's apprentice learning new skills and improving the skills she knew. In her free time, she would take care of orphans on the street fighting to live, but never becoming too friendly with anyone outside of Jane and Bill.

Then that day came.

Alice was in the house with Jane mixing herbal medicine when the door swung open. Startled, Alice spilled the mixture. Alice looked up at the doorway. Standing in the doorway was a lad with a big grin on his face. Jane smiled back and Alice couldn't help but stare at the boy's green eyes. "I'm back, Aunt Jane." Alice snapped out of the daze with the word "aunt" and went straight to cleaning up her mess. It was only then did the boy noticed Alice. "Who is she? I only leave for two years and already you picked up another?"

Laughing, Jane got up and greeted the boy. "Welcome back, James. I am glad that you are still in good health and not missing any limbs."

James laughed. "I thought I would lose one a couple of times, but I manage to pull through."

"Alice, come greet our guest." Alice looked up from her spilled to catch Jane's stern look. With a sighed, Alice stopped and walked over to stand by Jane's side. "James, this is my apprentice, Alice. Alice, James."

Alice gave a small, polite curtsy. "It is a pleasure to meet you."

James starred at Alice for a couple of seconds, then looked back at Jane. "Your apprentice? How old she is? She does not look old enough to work under your strict teaching nor capable."

Alice felt insulted. "You think just because I am a child I am incapable of performing such simple tasks? At least I can do something! What can you do?"

"Alice, stay calm," warned Jane. "She is three years younger then you, James, and is very capable."

James stood there a few seconds starring at Alice and Alice stared back. "Simple tasks? I suppose she is capable," then he turned his attention to Jane. "I have a favor to ask. I need a place to stay for awhile, would you mind letting me stay under your care once more?"

Jane smiled. "You are always welcome to stay with me. How long do you plan to stay this time?"

"Until I can find a merchant ship to hire me for a decent amount. It is time for me to start making a name of myself." Jane nodded her head in agreement.

Alice couldn't help but ask, "What are you planning to sell your labor for?"

"A navigator." Before Alice could recovered from the shock and say something, James continued on, "That is I want to do, but no one is going to trust a lad with such an important task. For now, I will settle with what I get and prove my skills that way." James turned back to Jane. "Well, I'm off to see Bill. I have a couple of favors to ask of him." His hand goes to touch his cutlass at his hip that Alice just noticed. "I will see you tonight at supper," and off he went, leaving his bag of belongings in the doorway.

Jane went to pick up James' belongings as Alice went back to cleaning up her mess. "That is your nephew?"

Jane smiled fondly. "Not by blood, but I always did want a nephew like him."

Alice stopped shock. "Not by blood? But…"

Jane laughed. "He calls me aunt, because I told him to when I took him in a few years ago. It was a way to build some sort of relationship with him." Jane could predict Alice next following questions. "I do not know much of the details of his life before I took him in, I only know what I have been told."

"What happen to him?"

"That is a story for another day, right now I have much more important business to discuss with you." Jane took a seat on stool next to Alice's. "I have heard that you often visit the orphans down by the docks and assist them."

Alice nodded her head. "I know they are welcome to come here for help anytime, free of charge, but many do not take up the offer, and I can not walk down the streets each day ignoring them when I can help them."

"They know they are welcome here to get help anytime they need it. It is their choice to take us up on the offer or not."

"But, some of them looked so scare when I mention it and won't come."

"It is their choice and you cannot go to them when they do not seek help. You must stay away from there, it is dangerous." Alice opened her mouth to protest, but Jane cut her off. "It is forbidden for us help them there and no amount of protesting you do will change that. Now get back to work, you still have more herbs to mix." Alice went back to work, sulking. Even if it was forbidden, she could take care of herself.

A couple of weeks go by and Alice still doesn't take heed to Jane's warning. Alice went out even more now that James was staying with them. She kept her distance from him and was only in his company when she had no other choice, but Alice didn't have to try hard to avoid him. James wasn't around the house during the day when Alice and Jane were working, he was always out somewhere in town. It was only in the evenings that Alice had to force herself to be in his company during supper. Otherwise, she went out into town to the local bookstore or to visit the orphans. Her absences didn't go unnoticed.

"She does not like me, does she?" James asked Jane one evening after Alice had left. "Did I do anything for her not to like me?"

Jane closed the book she was reading. "Probably a little jealously on her part that she has not realize yet. But I do not think that is all there is to it."

James smiled with amusement. "Jealously? Well she is still a child, but what else do you think there is to it?"

Jane smiled, "That attitude right there. The fact that you treat her as a child is what she does not like the most."

"But she is still a child. Only one look tells me that."

"She does look it on the outside, but she lost that childness on the inside. After becoming an orphan and living on the streets for two years where she had to fight to survive, she started to despise the fact that she was a child. As a child, she was limited to what she could do and what she had to watched or go through because as a child there was nothing she could do. You also know that pain all to well." James face darkened at the past memories. "But that is my least concern about her. Right now I am very worried for her."

"About what?"

"If she is not here then that means that most likely she it out visiting the orphans. I know she wants to help them, but she draws too much attention and danger doing it there. She is too confident that she can protect herself and is unaware of the true dangers she faces by going there."

"You worry about her, but keep her in the dark about that part of town. I am surprise nothing has happen to her yet."

Jane sighed. "Telling her would not change anything in her mind, if anything it would put her in more danger and she might be reckless." Jane looked at James in the eyes. "I have a favor to ask of you." James had a feeling this would be coming. "I want you to keep an eye on Alice and make sure she is safe while you are here. I want you to be her bodyguard every time you are here."

James was a little shocked. "Her bodyguard? Why do you want me to do that? Once I leave I will not be back for a few years."

"I know, but right now she needs someone to keep an eye out for her and when you come back again she will be a beauty, and of need of one even more." Jane smirked at the thought.

"Is that what your fortune telling predicted?"

"Alice becoming a beauty? I do not need fortunate telling to tell me that when I can see it, but about the other, yes. I just know she will need you and I know you will not regret it."

James sighed. "She is not going to like it."

Jane's smile widened. "Then just be sure to keep out of her line of sight. That should not be too hard for you."

The next evening after supper, Alice left after cleaning up the table as usual. A minute after leaving, James left and followed her some distance behind. Alice first stopped was at a bakery where she purchased some bread before heading down to Low Town near the docks. Once there, James job became a little more difficult as there was less people leaving him no choice but to hide at times, plus avoid attracting attention and looking suspicious. James always kept his eyes on Alice, watching her feed the bread to children younger then her and talking with them. He also noticed what Alice didn't, older orphans watching her with greed in their eyes or a wicked grin. Alice stayed for a while and James kept a close eye on her until she was safely home. He waited outside in a nearby alley for a while before going in.

And so, their nights continued just like that for a week. Alice would leave after supper and James would follow her, always watching her. Alice never noticed James presence. When she left for home, sometimes James would take a short cut at the last minute and beat her home and other times he waited a while before following her in. Alice didn't pay him any attention when he came in after her or was there before her. To her, he was none of her concern. Then one night, the older orphans decided to act.

Alice was on her to see the young orphan to check on them, when some of the orphan boys older then her surrounded. The leader looked to be a lad around fourteen to fifteen in age, and the other four a little younger then him. "Good evening, little girl. We seen you coming around here very often lately."

Alice was force to have her back to the wall. She kept her calm as she spoke to them. "My coming here is should not be any of your concern."

The leader smiled. "Oh, but it is. Thanks to you, we will be getting enough coins to feed us for weeks."

Alice pulled out her dragger. "I have no coins on me. You waste your time trying to steal from me."

One boy laughed. "Look! She thinks having a dragger will stop us!"

Another boy said, "Yer what we want, brat!"

Alice was quickly overwhelmed and the dragger was easily knock out of her hand. Alice struggled as two of the lads grabbed her arms pinning them behind her back with ease. "Lets go sell her!" Tears began to swell in Alice's eyes.

"Who do you think you are selling?" comes a voice. Alice looked over to see James standing a couple of feet away. James had lost sight of Alice for a moment when he was following her and soon as he found her again she had been caught. Her cursed himself silently for his mistake.

The leader turned his attention to James. He noticed instantly that James was younger then him and he laughed. "Trying to be a hero boy? You better get lost before we hurt you."

The leader has a scar on his cheek, making it easy for James to identify him. "You dismiss me so easily, but who do you think gave you that scar," commented James as he mocking draws a scar on his own check with his index finger, smiling.

The leader stood frozen in fear staring at James. His group of boys starred at their leader wondering what was wrong with him. Noticing his group looking at him, he regained his composure. "I have gotten stronger since that incident two years ago." The lad held his dragger, ready to attack.

James smiled, "Same here. The past two years I have done nothing but improving my skills. Shall we test our training to see who has become the strongest?" James pulled a dragger out from behind his back. He held it, ready to throw it in an instant. "We can test how good my throwing skills are compare to your dodging skills."

The lad hesitated for a moment. Not because he thinks he has a chance, but how much his pride was worth. Then, he sheathed his dragger. "Let her go, boys."

"What?" said one of the boys holding Alice, "But…"

Their leader cuts him off. "She is not worth the risk. But if you want, you can test your skills against James, but you will have to do it without my help."

When James' name is mention, everyone looked at James, terrified. The ones holding Alice let go of her and she fell to her knees. These orphans knew James well. Thinking they could sell James for some gold, they tired to take him on one time, only to be beaten easily. After James left, they meant up with their current leader and soon forgot about James, until now.

James relaxed and let the five boys past him. As soon as they were gone, he went over to Alice. "Are you okay," he asked, concern.

Alice was still on her knees with tears running down her cheeks. She had been afraid for the first time since coming to Port Charles. Afraid of what the lads were planning to do with her. "I am fine," Alice said with as much pride as she could while wiping her tears away. "I did not need your help, I can protect myself."

James laughed in anger. "You did not need my help? Shall I call the boys back so you can take care of it yourself? Is your pride that important to you?" Alice said nothing. "Okay, I will get them for you." James stood up as if to go find them.

Alice panic thinking he would do it and shouted, "No!"

James kneeled back down, still angry. "Pride can only do so much for you. You do not even know the real danger you were in. Do you know what they were going to do with you?" Alice shook her head. "They were going to sell you to pirates as a slave. There are pirates in port right now that do some human trafficking." Alice shivered at the thought of what would have happened if James hadn't come. "This is why Aunt Jane warned you not to come here. The orphans were not your only threat, the pirates themselves, if they became aware of you, would have taken you. These parts are where the pirates hang around when they are in port."

Alice said nothing while James lectured her in anger. When he finished, Alice asked him, "Then why are you here?"

James is still angry with Alice and hadn't looked at her since he first asked her if she was okay. "I come here frequently during the day and unlike you, I can protect myself." James looked over at Alice and sees how scared she was. The fear was still written all over her face. James sighed as his anger dissipated. "Aunt Jane was worried about you and asked a favor of me. I have been following you ever night for about a week now."

"What! And I did not notice you this whole time?"

"You would of never notice me nor did you think much of me to notice me either." James got up. Grabbing Alice's hand, he helped her to her feet. He doesn't let go of her hand as he lead her home. Alice doesn't fight back and meekly followed. After a few minutes of walking in silence, James spoke, "If you really want to be able to protect yourself, ask Bill to teach you the basics."

"Bill? What could he teach me?" asked Alice, confused.

James laughed. "He can teach you much. I learned a lot from him." He led Alice by the hand into Jane's house.

When they walked in, Jane was at the door waiting for them. She smiled with relief when she saw Alice standing next to James, unharmed. Her smiled widen when she noticed that the two still held hands. Embarrassed, Alice snatched her hand away and went off her to room.

Over the next week, the relationship between James and Alice was friendlier. Alice no longer left at night and even talked with James for a bit. At her request, Bill started to teach Alice means of protecting herself and how to use weapons. Then, one night, James announced that he was leaving the next day. "With a little recommendation from Bill, I found a ship to work on with decent wage. They leave tomorrow before noon."

"Congratulations, James. Alice and I will come with you to the docks to see you off," replied Jane. Alice said nothing and continued to work on preserving some herbs.

The next day, Alice and Jane escorted James down to the docks. Alice looked up at the ships in awe. It was her first time being so close to one. The three stopped in front of one of the large merchant ships. James turned to Alice and Jane. "Thank you, Aunt Jane for allowing me to stay with you all this time. I might have to request it of you again in a few years again when I come to visit."

Jane laughed. "You better come back in a few years time. You still need to work off your stay this time. Now take care of yourself and stay out of too much trouble and do not be too reckless." Jane turned to Alice. "Do you have anything to say to James, Alice? This is your last chance."

Alice turned her attention from the ship in front of her to James. "I think I might understand a little why you are doing this."

"Well, if it does not go to well, I could always be a farmer. I would be an excellent farmer," James and Jane laughed together at this, leaving Alice clueless about the inside joke.

Then Alice walked up to James and placed a bag in his hands. "And I want to thank you for your help that night, I am in your debt, so you better come back so I can repay you back." Alice smiled up at James.

Jane and Alice watched James board the ship and set sail with its crew. As the ship sailed into the distance, James opened the bag that Alice had given him. In the bag was a necklace with the symbol of the Sea Goddess hanging on it. A good luck charm and token to wish sailors a safe voyage and the protection of the Goddess. James laughed as he puts the necklace around his neck. "The Sea Goddess blessed me once with a gift and now I have her protection. If I do no make a name for myself during my time on the sea, I will be insulting the Goddess herself."