Well, ASOUE fans, it's that time of year again. Snow drifts from the sky, people are giving gifts, and there's just a general sense of harmony in the air. What better time is there to write a story about everyone's favorite unfortunate trio of orphans and Christmastime? Specifically, this story focuses on Klaus, who is feeling quite miserable indeed and wishes that he never existed so he'd never have to suffer. A la "It's A Wonderful Life", he gains new insight on life and learns to appreciate the little that he does have. Bear in mind that this tale occurs before book 13, so canon errors may be present.
Now, this story was originally meant to be an addendum to my Yuletide Events story collection, but I changed at the very last moment and decided to make it be its own tale instead. I intended to post it last year, but I didn't manage to make it before the deadline. I'm sure that you remember, especially if you're a Myst fan and you've been up-to-date on my fanfiction lately, the rough time I had trying to cram in updates for Know Your Myst Stars and starting Yuletide Events at the same time, and so I never made it to this one. I now feel that it's the right time to post it. Sadly, this will be my last ASOUE fanfic for a very, VERY long time, as I am focusing on other endeavors, such as more Myst fanfiction and some original fiction, not to mention artwork, fanvideos, and everything else besides. With that said, I hope that you enjoy this story. Stay safe and warm – and have a very happy holidays and bright new year.
To put it quite simply, Klaus Baudelaire was sick of living.
To him, life seemed as if it were an eternal struggle, an unceasing gauntlet that only provided more torment with every event that transpired in it. Time to rest and relax for him and his sisters was rare, perhaps a few days, but sure enough, some new misfortune would be launched their way, and they would yet again be forced to outrun yet another train of peril.
Klaus was sick of it. It needed to end, and soon, or else, he feared, he might take it into his own hands. Now, he was not about to overdose on painkillers or hang himself. No, he was far too logical to try a stunt like that – but a quick, painless death was most certainly not out of the question.
Of course, Klaus had been aware of his depression ever since the fire. He knew in his heart that it was not normal to feel so downtrodden all the time, even given his circumstances, and he had read compulsively on the subject – but secretly, so that Violet would not worry. But without psychiatric care, he had begun to spiral downwards, feeling less and less capable of doing much of anything.
He had never told his sisters. God only knew how they might react to his plan.
Then again, that didn't matter anymore. Not when it needed to end, no, had to end tonight.
And so, with all the urgent calm and stealth of a cat on the prowl, he slipped out of the small cot in the icy cavern that he and his siblings had called home for some weeks now, gently stepped over his sisters so that he would not wake them, and calmly walked outside.
The wind was fierce and the snow was blinding, but Klaus hardly felt it. He hardly felt anything anymore…
There it was. The edge of the cliff, so sudden and dangerous. Of how far down it went, Klaus had no idea, but he didn't care as long as the job was done.
Faintly, distantly through the howl of the wind, he thought he heard Violet's voice calling to him. She sounded so concerned…
Klaus smiled to himself sadly.
I'm sorry, Violet. I can't. Not this time or any other time…
He took a final deep breath and stepped from the ledge, feeling as gravity pulled him deeper into the swirling, black abyss of snow and fog below.
I'm sorry, Vi. I'm so sorry…
The last thing he heard was Violet calling his name.
When next he awoke, Klaus felt curiously light, as if there were no more substance left to him. It was a strange, somewhat comfortable feeling, almost as if he were floating on his back in the water. Almost relaxing…
He stood, groggily, and looked over to see that he had landed on a thick shelf of ice. And next to him was his lifeless body, not a single scratch noticeable.
"Klaus?" asked a voice, soft and reassuring. "Are you okay?"
Confused, Klaus glanced behind him, only to find himself face to face with some sort of bright, shimmering light. Squinting through his glasses, he could just make out the form of a person with a worried look on their face and – no, it couldn't be! – what appeared to be a pair of feathery wings on their back.
Klaus was shocked, to say the least. He had read about religious beliefs in an afterlife, and he had read about angels, but had never really believed it until…
Upon closer inspection of the angel, he realized that it looked almost – no, exactly like him!
"Oh, Klaus…" the angel sighed. "Why on Earth did you do that?"
Klaus shuffled awkwardly, still somewhat shocked.
"Well, I… I don't really… know," he said, glancing back at his immobile body. "I guess… I just couldn't take it anymore."
The angel looked downhearted. "I see," he said. "I am… well, I was your guardian angel. My name's Kyle." He held out his hand, and, not wanting to seem rude, Klaus shook it.
"Now, tell me, Klaus," Kyle said as he alighted on a snowdrift, "Why were you so sick of life that you felt that you had to end it?"
"Well," Klaus replied, thinking carefully on the answer. "I guess I felt like nobody wanted me alive. Like nobody needed me."
"But someone did and still does need you: your sisters. They love you, Klaus. You've saved them so very many times – and in return, they've saved you. Why, don't you remember when you were at that horrible mill? You were taken captive and held prisoner under the spell of hypnosis, and your sisters rescued you. Do you not remember anything at all about what has transpired?"
Klaus racked his brain for answers, but the memories would not come back. It was as if they had all been locked away in a mental vault of some sort in order to keep him functioning.
"I'm afraid not," he said, abandoning his futile search.
"Well, then I must remind you," Kyle said, standing. "Here. Take my hand."
"Wait a moment. If you're my guardian angel, then why didn't you protect me from all the bad stuff that has happened to me?"
Kyle smiled sadly.
"Unfortunately, Klaus, there are things that an angel can't fix. The powers that be have a plan for every person's life – and the misfortunes one encounters are only there to make that person stronger. Now," He extended his hand, smiling warmly. "Are you going to come with me, or must I force you? I really do believe that this will be beneficial to you…"
"Okay, okay," Klaus mumbled. "I'll go with you."
With that, he took Kyle's hand.
Suddenly, a flash of light engulfed them both, and within all of a few seconds, Klaus and Kyle were standing outside of a very large and very dirty mansion.
"Where are we, Kyle?" asked Klaus as he examined the grime on a nearby fencepost.
"You don't know?" the angel replied, astonished. "Why, this is Count Olaf's house!"
Klaus repressed a shudder. "Why are we here?"
"You must see the past as it would have been without you in it. Oh, the fire would still have happened, there is no doubt about that – you just died in it."
"Yes, Klaus. You are no more, and so you cannot aid your sisters with your research."
"But… but Olaf's dirt poor. There's no way he could have afforded such a house."
"You can think of no way that he could?"
Klaus thought about this a moment, Suddenly, a slow, dawning realization came to him, and, horrified, he realized what the answer was.
"Th-the fortune?" He stuttered.
Kyle nodded grimly and took Klaus by the hand once more. Another blinding flash surrounded them, and soon, they were inside of the house, which obviously had seen better days. Three disheveled maids were scrubbing feverishly, but scum was so caked onto the floors and upholstery that the poor things were getting nowhere.
"It's over, Klaus," Kyle somberly said. "Olaf has won. His horrid plan has worked, and all because you weren't there to stop him."
Olaf himself suddenly burst through the front door, seeming to ignore the angel and orphan standing just mere feet from him. Angrily, he glared at the maids.
"You!" he barked, pointing at the first of the three. "That loveseat is not nearly clean enough! And you –" here, he pointed to the second one "– I thought I told you to scrape every last wad of gum out from under the tables! And you…"
He glanced over at a small child, perhaps no more than seven or eight. She was extremely dirty, with long, dark, tangled hair, and she looked very, very frightened.
"You, you little street rat," Olaf spat, "Had better make sure that the floor is absolutely spotless, or there'll be Hell to pay!"
"But sir," the little girl said, her voice softer than a feather. "I can't get it off… it's like glue, and –"
The Count would hear none of it. He roughly grabbed her by the collar of her grungy work uniform and slapped her hard across the face.
"Get back to work!" Olaf yelled, flinging the child aside like an old banana peel. "All of you!"
He left the girl sobbing on the dirty floor, cowering and tear-stained.
Klaus was furious.
"You miserable cur!" he shouted in the loudest voice he possibly could. "You get back here and see if I let you do that again!"
"Save your anger, Klaus," Kyle said calmly, laying a hand on Klaus' shoulder. "He can't hear or see you. Nobody can. You don't exist anymore, remember?"
Klaus slowly let his anger melt, and finally he looked to his guardian angel, distressed.
"A-and… Violet? What of her? Is she alright?"
Kyle grimaced. "I'm afraid that she is no better off. The plan worked, you see. That means that Olaf has the fortune… and the rightful owner of said fortune."
Klaus winced. "Must I really see her in such a position?"
"I'm afraid that you must."
Once again, Kyle held out his hand for Klaus to take, which he did. Yet another blinding flash surrounded the two, and soon they were standing in Olaf's grimy kitchen. Kyle grimly pointed towards the weary, dirty, and haunted-looking shell of a woman, stirring a pot of something.
Klaus stepped closer to her, and with an expression of horrified shock, he realized that it was Violet.
"Oh, my God… Vi…"
Sadly, Violet sat the pot she had been stirring back on the stove, small tears streaking down her pale face. Klaus took a closer look in the pot, revealing what appeared to be puttanesca sauce. In the rusty sink, there were noodles steaming in a strainer, the leaky faucet dripping stagnant water onto the cooling pasta.
Olaf burst into the room at that moment, a bottle of champagne in one hand and a chipped plate in the other. He was obviously very drunk, judging by his erratic walking, and Klaus guessed that Olaf had consumed more than just the half-empty bottle he was carrying.
"Dinner?" he slurred, looking upon Violet with lusting eyes.
"It's almost done," Violet replied in a voice as broken as the plate Olaf carried. She took said plate from him and began to fill it with noodles. "Then again, I know how hungry you must be – you'll probably want it now. Busy day with the troupe again?"
It tore Klaus apart to see her like this. She looked so broken. So fragile. How could he ever have been so selfish as to take his own life?
"Yesh," Olaf slurred, obviously trying to sound smart – not a good idea when one was drunk. "But you and I will be busy tonight, eh?"
Klaus wanted to vomit.
"Come Klaus," Kyle said, "I must show you one last thing."
Klaus took Kyle's hand one more time, and the flash of light came again, but when he arrived, he was alone. He was now kneeling near a small gravestone in a cemetery, covered with snow and fresh enough to have been installed only a few years ago.
Cautiously, he brushed away the snow to reveal the epitaph, scribed in a spidery hand.
Rest in Peace
1998 – 1999
Her smile lit up the darkest place.
Her light shines down from Heaven now.
"No," Klaus muttered, horrified. "No! No! Sunny! Sunny…"
Tears slid down his cheeks as the icy wind blew all around him, numbing his bare skin.
"Oh, God… Not my little sister! Why?! Kyle, say that this isn't true! Say that I'm alive! Please, Kyle, I want to live! Please, please, I want to live…"
"I want to live, I want to live! I want to –"
"Klaus? Klaus, are you alright?"
Klaus opened his eyes suddenly to find himself staring up at the icy cavern ceiling and Violet's concerned and slightly angered face.
"Klaus, why did you do that? You scared Sunny and I senseless!"
"Unco!" Sunny cried. She of course meant to say, "We found you unconscious at the bottom of that ice ledge. We thought that we had lost you…"
"Why didn't you tell us that –"
To Violet's bewilderment, Klaus slowly reached up and touched her lightly on the shoulder. She was real. He was alive…
Oh, my God… I'm alive!
"I'm alive! Violet, I'm alive!"
Violet looked even more concerned.
"Klaus," she said awkwardly, "Exactly how hard of a fall did you take?"
"Violet!" He cried, sitting up to hug her. "You're not Olaf's wife! And Sunny, you're alive!!!"
Violet looked very confused.
"Well, of course she's alive, Klaus," she said, her voice a mixture of concern and confusion. "And why would I ever marry Count Olaf? That plan didn't work, remember? You helped us stop it."
"Yes," Klaus muttered. "I stopped it. I stopped it!" He scooped Sunny up and hugged Violet even tighter.
"Violet, Sunny… I love you."
Violet's concern melted, and she smiled. She never was able to stay angry at her siblings for very long.
"We love you too, Klaus," she said. "We love you, too."