Her marriage had been less successful. Her husband Max, a tax lawyer at a respected Washington firm, had never quite adjusted to her intense dedication to her career. When she became pregnant with their son David, he had simply assumed she would slow down, and take less demanding assignments to leave time and energy for her family. And she did, for a time, long enough to have their daughter Erica two years later. But not long after that, she found a dependable nanny and was back making the rounds, beating the bushes as hard as ever. She tried to make more time for her children, working at home when she could and keeping crazy hours, but she still felt Erica and David deserved more. When she asked Max for help, he was reluctant, and committed only half-heartedly. Arguments turned to heated fights, and until Max exclaimed, "It was YOUR decision to get pregnant!" That was the deathblow for their relationship. The pair filed for divorce a week later. Worse still, only months after the divorce was complete, Max re-married and moved to Boston, using his legal connections to get custody of their children. Alice was bitter, but accepted the alternate weekends she was offered and tried to make the best of it. But her normally intense dedication to work became almost obsessive, as she buried herself in it to try and compensate for what she had lost. And she began to drink.
Her problems might have gotten worse if not for the aid of Bob Johnson, a friend of hers from work. Bob was going through hard times himself, as he and his wife were feuding, and the two discovered they had a lot in common ("The same flavor of bitter," joked Alice). The two had a brief affair, sneaking off to Acapulco together for a weekend, but in the end agreed just to be friends. Bob managed to patch things up with his wife (who was unaware of their affair), and Alice managed to put more of the past behind her. She worked all the harder to be whatever kind of mother she could be to her children, and attacked her work with a more sane level of passion. She even learned to tolerate Max and his new wife, and while she had a few long-term relationships, never seriously considered remarrying.
Her life was moving smoothly along this track when she began taking an interest in Congressman . X seemed enmeshed in a fairly typical scandal involving campaign funds, a yacht, and an attractive young woman. Alice and the rest of the press corps were giving him the customary grilling when, suddenly, he disappeared. Consensus was that he had run off to avoid the scandal, but Alice was not convinced. X was unmarried, the woman was not underage, and the scandal had started to blow over as rumors of graft at the EPA began to draw the press corps away. X could weather the storm, and possibly get re-elected; no one walked away under conditions like that.
So while her colleagues began searching for toxic leaks at the EPA, Alice began asking the neighbors questions. By a fluke of luck, she discovered that a windowless van had been sighted leaving the area shortly before X was found missing. She even had the license number, a rental agency in Boston.
Ignoring her boss' innuendoes that this was motivated by instincts which were maternal rather than professional, she drove to Boston and began asking around. The van had been paid for with a credit card which she traced back to Cross Industries. At this point, Alice enlisted the help of a private detective by the name of Aaron Chu. Aaron obtained (illegally, Alice suspects) the names of people with access to that card, and the two discovered they reported directly to Pierce, only nominally employed by Cross.
Unfortunately, their inquiries drew Pierce's attention, and his cronies were sent to kidnap the pair. They were blindfolded and taken to be sacrificed in a bizarre ritual; it was there that Alice, bound and blindfolded, finally caught up with X, who was in a similar state. While Pierce never identified himself to them, or even spoke, all present knew who was responsible for their predicament.
She has a special place in her heart for Pierce: If she were granted one wish, it would be to be allowed to watch when the demon comes to collect Pierce's soul. In the meantime, letters have begun appearing in the mailboxes of Boston newspapers detailing shady dealings Pierce has been involved with (though nothing supernatural). While none of the papers have dared to take him on, he has gotten a good deal more scrutiny from the press. Which, Alice hopes, will help keep him out of trouble. Ultimately she hopes to take him down, but doesn't have enough to do it yet. But time is on her side: Sooner or later he has to move, and then she will stop him from hurting anyone and destroy him completely.
But she still doesn't know what to do about her children. Their house is within easy travel range for her, and some nights, when she can't handle the loneliness of her unlife, she flies to her house and slips in and just watches them sleep. Sometimes she will almost cry, wanting so badly touch them, but she is afraid of what it would do to them. Bill Cosby movies aside, she is afraid to drag her children into her after-life.
Money matters she handles through her attorney, Sandra McAnn. She doesn't need much to live, not eating or paying rent, but because she wants to preserve her anonymity her finances are handled through Sandra. She has a credit card issued under the name, "Shade," which the company allowed since McAnn agreed to co-sign. McAnn is friendly and sympathetic to Alice; Sandra works with a number of handicapped clients, and tries to give them as much dignity and independence as she can. And McAnn is well-paid for the services. Permanent insomnia has left Alice plenty of time to write, publishing fiction and non-fiction under pseudonyms, all funneled through her lawyer. McAnn does not, however, know Alice's true identity.
Alice also has become friendly with the other ghosts on the premises, and sometimes whiles away time talking to them.
Alice is reluctant to materialize in her demon form, as she has trouble controlling herself. Her concentration suffers as she chokes down bloodlust, and when she is in a serious fight she tends to use more force in combat than is strictly necessary. She often finds herself appalled at the devastation she leaves behind after a fight, but continues because she believes she is doing more good than harm.
She has occasionally used Bob Johnson to look up things for her in the Herald Post's records section. She is actually blackmailing, calling him up (using her mimicry skill) and sounding like a man; she has claimed she has pictures of him with Alice in Acapulco, and that she would hate to ruin his relationship. In fact, she has no pictures, but her knowledge of events has convinced Johnson. She tries not to take too much advantage of this, and sometimes considers letting Bob know the truth, but isn't ready to do that yet.
Overall, her afterlife is a desperate attempt to keep busy and not think too hard about the things she's lost: Career and family. She writes, spends time with Aaron and her other friends, and experiments with other hobbies her unique condition will allow her to pursue. And she mourns the loss of her children, and plots revenge against Pierce and the Enclave.
Her demon body carries with it a dramatic change in perceptions. She finds it hard to concentrate and remember more academic kinds of problems, and is constantly trying to keep a rein on her bloodlust. The body carries with it a number of instinctive skills, however, and she finds herself possessed of an intuitive understanding of combat. While not a sophisticated fighter, this body is indeed deadly.
But it never quite seemed to pan out; there was always an unexpected expense, be it car trouble or a law suit from an angry adulterer. When his father's health took a turn for the worse and he had to quit his job, Aaron began supporting them and abandoned any hope of further education. While his parents were disappointed, Aaron secretly thought it might be for the best; he was a competent PI, but, he had to admit to himself, just not that bright.
Aaron has always been rather bland in appearance, and has practiced blending in until it is a fine art. He is not intuitive, preferring simply to be meticulously thorough in his investigations; he regards it as part of the job to spend all night in a tree outside someone's bedroom window, and would never hesitate to do so. He has an excellent understanding of how to investigate typical PI cases such as divorces, process serving, and the like, but does not always adapt well to the unexpected.
The case he took with Alice, tracking the van back to the people who rented it, was a prime example: He spent six hours sifting through a dumpster until he found the credit card receipts he needed, then made inquiries about the names and numbers involved. When kidnapped, he attempted to resist, but was overwhealmed. And when he found himself in the middle of an arcane ritual, he froze, completely lost. He and Alice have since become friendly, and he sometimes drops in at the House for a drink. He feels he owes her and tries to help out when he can, but work and his obligations to his sick father keep him extremely short of time. Sometimes he has to call on her for help, but he understands she doesn't like using her spirit abilites to spy on adulterers. More often, he just wants to talk to her to find ``a new angle'' on the case. Alice's shrewd insight is often more useful to him than her ability to fade through walls. She has never seen him carry a gun, but suspects he may have started doing so since their kidnapping a year ago.
Stats: High CON, respectable STR/DEX, PS: Private Investigator, Shadowing, Conversation, Streetwise, Conv. Chinese, KS: Photography, PI License, Contacts in County Records, DMV, and Police Lt., either low-level martial arts or HTH combat levels.
Erica was only 6 years old when her mother was ``killed by doomsday cultists,'' as the story went. A year later, she still doesn't really understand what that means, or why Mommy is dead, but she's adjusted to her new Mommy and is getting by. She is a friendly, outgoing child, and very trusting of strangers. She loved Alice, and still misses her sometimes, but has gotten past it.
David, at 9 now, understands the situation better and is less certain about it. He could never quite accept Max's new wife, and while the two have managed to reach a friendly relationship it could not be called love. And at some unconscious level, David holds Max responsible for Alice leaving his life; first for moving away from Washington, and then for her being killed. His relationship with his father is therefore very tense. He works hard in school but spends as much time away from home as he can, avoiding his parents. Alice has spent many twighlit hours following him invisibly as he roams empty lots and playgrounds. She is aware of how troubled he is, but is afraid the consequences will be still worse if she appears. She has toyed with the idea of asking Aaron to spend some time with the boy, but the PI has his own problems and she doesn't know if he could help in any case. So, for the moment, she merely frets.