Hey everyone! This is my first fic here at fanfiction dot net, but I've been an ASoUE fan for quite a while. I'll try to update this story as often as I can, but it all depends on how many reviews I get and how much homework I have -grumble grumble- So anyway, thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: I don't really see why we have to put disclaimers on out fics because this is FANficton dot net after all, so wouldn't everyone know we don't own the characters and such? I dunno... But anyway, I don't own the characters and such as I said before, they were all created by Lemony Snicket.

Well, without further ado...

After All

By K. Baudelaire

Chapter 1: F o r g o t t e n

In a certain dirty, busy city, probably not too far away from where you live, there is a certain restaurant. It is called "The Valentino Family Diner", and it is owned by the last of the Valentino Family. There are, in fact, only four surviving Valentinos out there: Tony, his wife Angelina, and their two children, who are somewhere in another certain city, probably trying to find jobs or certain missing people. What has happened to the other Valentinos, I don't know. The only thing that I do know and that you should know is that The Valentino Family Diner happens to be the place where this certain story begins.

If you had been there, that certain cold and snowy night, you would have seen a certain young man of about 23 years of age, open the door of the diner and walk in, his head tilted down in a sorrowful way, as if every reason why he should be alive had just been blown away with the winter winds. His round glasses were sliding down his nose and behind them you would have been able to see his sad blue eyes gazing down at the floor. If you had seen this man several years before, while he was still a boy, his eyes would have been wide and alert and very interested in the world around him. But now every thing noticeable in his world was gone, and if you had been there that certain December night, and seen this certain young man, you probably would have guessed that he had a very sad story to tell.

And if you had guessed this, you would have guessed right.

But I am sure you were not there that night; because I was there, and I know that the restaurant was empty, except, of course, for Tony Valentino his wife, and a certain young waitress I know very well. Tony was accustomed to the man's visits. The young man would always come on Tuesdays and order a cup of coffee, but he never spoke to Tony, and only spoke to the certain young waitress, and she made sure she was always at the restaurant on Tuesday nights, just in case he wanted to talk.

Occasionally, he came on busier nights, when the tables and the bar were very crowded, and others would call him "Twitch". Twitch never said anything to them, no matter how much they harassed him and bothered him about it, but they did notice how he had an odd twitch under his left eye. He would just sit there in his usual spot at a small round table with two small chairs and drink his coffee, but nobody knew how he got that twitch, because he wouldn't tell. Only one certain person knew, and only one certain person could sit in that other chair and hear him speak and that certain person was the waitress.

Her name was Isadora, and the young man's name was Klaus.

That certain night, not too long ago, was the type of night you don't forget easily, especially if you were Klaus Baudelaire. He had an especially acute memory, but a memory full of many unpleasant and painful things he wished to forget. And on that certain evening, when the winds were blowing hard outside and snowflakes were being viciously dragged with it, Klaus was remembering those certain things that hurt to be remembered. Sometimes he would close his eyes and try not to think of them, but they would always come back and force their way into his mind as if to say, "See? These are all the things that have happened to you. And they were all your fault."

And Klaus's eye would twitch.

And on that particular night Klaus was again massaging his forehead with one weary hand, trying to rub the memories away. And when he looked down, there was a mug of hot chocolate sitting on the table, still steaming with a warm, sugary scent that is so comforting on a night such as this one, and sitting on it was a fluffy gob of whip cream. Klaus looked up. There was Isadora sitting across from him, and she was wearing a sympathetic smile she always wore when she could tell he was feeling especially cold and tired.

"Bad day?" she asked gently.

Klaus sighed.

"Nothing?"

"Nothing," he replied. "No leads, no reports, no sightings...Nothing."

They were both silent for a while until Isadora spoke again. "Absolutely nothing?"

"Yes, Isadora. Absolutely nothing," Klaus answered, a little annoyed.

"Uh-huh..."

Klaus looked up. There was a certain expression on Isadora's face that he had seen before, but he hadn't seen it in a long time. It was the look she wore when she knew something he didn't. It was the look she wore when she felt like teasing him or driving him crazy. It was the look that consisted of a grin, an arched eyebrow and a twinkle in her eye that told Klaus that there was a joke centering on him and that she was going to have the last laugh.

Klaus sighed again. "Alright, what is it?"

"I'm disappointed in you Klaus," she said, while shaking her head and spooning a scoop of whipped cream into her mouth. "Here you say you're supposed to be some expert researcher and investigator but you completely miss some of the most obvious clues out there."

"What in Melville's name are you talking about?" Klaus asked.

Isadora continued with her little game as if she hadn't heard him. "Ok, you have been in the detective business for a while, and I understand how you have to make the search process look so complicated and mysterious, but, Klaus, you gotta learn to accept something when it's right in front of your face!"

She reached forward to take another scoop of whipped cream but Klaus pulled the mug towards him so she couldn't reach it. "Isadora," he said, beginning to loose his patience. "What are you saying?"

Isadora stood up from her chair to pick up some glasses and plates from another table. "Klaus. It's been everywhere. I think everybody but you knows now." She stopped to pick up the latest issue of The Daily Punctilio from the counter and dropped it in front of Klaus. "You've searched everywhere for years and you don't even bother to glance at the front page of the newspaper."

And there it was, in bold black ink, shouting at Klaus as he read it.

Baudelaire Butchers

Gone Forever?

Evidence suggests that the infamous murderers could still be at large.

Under the headline was a photograph of a tall woman. Her back was turned and she was running through a crowd, away from the photographer. She was also clasping the hand of a young girl who was trying to keep up with the woman's fast pace as they ran. She was staring back at the camera, or more at Klaus, and she looked quite scared.

Klaus's eye twitched.

"Yeah, I know what you're thinking. 'This is The Daily Punctilio, it can't be true.' But take a look at who wrote the article," Isadora said with a grin, piling the dishes on a tray.

Klaus glanced at the byline. "Written by Duncan Quagmire," it read.

"He checked his facts and only took reports from reliable sources. Duncan says he wants to try and convince at least a few people with his articles that you guys are innocent. Don't worry, he won't say too much about you, considering how you've finally managed to throw the police off your tail. Just enough to get people thinking," Isadora assured him.

"But if you aren't gonna believe the facts, just take a look at that picture. That's them all right. They're alive." She let out a brief laugh, remembering old times. "You know, like Mr. Snicket used to say: Words are not proof; photographs are. Right Klaus?"

Silence.

"Klaus?"

Isadora turned back to where Klaus was sitting to find that he was no longer there. His chair was pushed back from the table on which the hot chocolate was still sitting, the paper was gone, and the door of the Valentino Family Diner was swinging shut. And into the cold, snowy night Klaus ventured once more, only now there was a fresh hope growing in Klaus's heart, a hope that said that he was going to find his sisters if it was the last thing he would do.