Her mind did not stop to drift at all the things that have happened before she found herself sitting on the cold, metal floor of the jail cell. She thought about her father and how much shock had hung on her voice when Hangfire was unmasked. Armstrong Feint, her father, turned out to be the notorious villain who had been kidnapping children and stealing honeydew melons in the dying town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea, and Ellington watched as he was devoured by a giant myth that clawed its way towards the train compartment.
She hid her face on the crook of her elbows, but she can't do anything to hide the occasional sobs she'd make. In those moments she had stayed in Stain'd-by-the-Sea, she never really gave much thought about its people. All she cared about was her father, and how she would do anything just to have him back. She never expected to discover that his father was the one who's been forcing her to do terrible things for a hope that has pushed her to set foot on the town in the first place.
There was him too, a boy who had intrigued her ever since she saw him fall from a howser and into a tree. If she believes in things like fate, then perhaps she could say that it was that fate that has caused the collision which marked their identities in each other's minds. That fate is called the Bombinating Beast. She realized now that is was also that fate that had caused their great encounter to reduce into something as silly as a goodbye. She realized that beast of a fate was the start and end of everything she had. It was the start of a hope she'd acquainted with his father and the start of her awareness about a boy who has a knack of being present whenever trouble was around. And still it was that beast of a fate which brought an end to the things she believed. It destroyed the possibility of her supposed-to-be heartwarming reunion with her father, as it marked the end of the anticipated but surprising meetings she had with a boy named Lemony Snicket.
She was sure she had stared at Lemony with too much anger in her eyes. After all, he was the one who pushed his father into the mouth of the beast. He killed her father right in front of her eyes, when he had in fact promised her he'd help her in finding him. Lemony never did bring her any closer to finding her father, and that was why she trusted Hangfire more. But there was something that's been tugging at his guts. He knew that there was a possibility of Hangfire being her father. He said he didn't want to believe it, and whether or not that was truly the reason why he never told her about it, she wasn't sure if she should accept it right away.
She had been so angry at him despite the fact that she had always liked his company. She did. She liked his company very much even if he didn't drink coffee, even if he was shorter than her, and even if he didn't understand how much her father meant to her and that he was always convincing her to stop her loyalty to the only person who has the power to make her wish come true.
She sobbed more now, and she can see, without raising her head, that the other person was staring at her. She was not alone in this jail cell, after all. She was sharing it with another girl named Kit, and she could not easily look up at her because she possessed the same eyes as that boy. Kit Snicket held the same sense of smartness as his brother, and that was probably the reason why she didn't speak at all, but waited for Ellington until she was done crying before saying anything.
"You don't have to stop, you know." Even she sounded a bit like him. "We were taught not to let our emotions get in our way, but I don't think that applies all the time."
"You… and your brother and your unusual education," Ellington started. "Your brother most of all…" She wanted to finish talking, but she doesn't know how to.
"What's wrong with my brother?" Kit said, with a tone Ellington found hard to recognize whether it contained sympathy or pride or anything at all. "He really is a bit stubborn. I haven't talked to him comfortably ever since we've been trained. We were told not to recognize each other whenever we saw each other, but even so, even if it doesn't show much on his face, I know he cares about people a lot. I know he cared about you. He gets attached to people and I know how hard it must have been for him to say goodbye to the ones he left. I know, and I'm sure you have noticed, that he values nobility above all. Often times, it is often our values that keep us apart from society. I'm sure that you have seen that on the back of his hand, when he waved goodbye, that it's his notion of nobility that will mark his solitude."
Ellington looked outside. The night was dark and she had no idea where they were exactly at the moment. She thought about Lemony, and how a shame it was that their last time seeing each other was one that left her with an impression of him as a murderer.
"Even so…" Ellington said quietly. "He could've just let my father off. He didn't have to kill him." Ellington expected Kit to react violently, to lash at her, for calling his brother a monster, or something of equal weight. But Kit remained calm. Ellington could have even sworn she'd seen her lips curve to a subtle smile.
"What else could have happened, Ellington?" Kit said instead. "What could have happened if it wasn't your father who was fed to that beast? With all of you present in that situation, anything could have happened and anyone could have been dead, but my brother chose to pick the direction for his blame. Do you really think, Ellington, that if your father have not died, everything will still be the same? Do you think that his thirst for dominance over nature will lessen with every passing minute he stays handcuffed? Do you think he will stop trying to get in touch with his associates again? Do you think… that you'll be able to spend your life with him, trying to erase the knowledge of what he has truly become? If your father was alive, Ellington, then you are not supposed to be here. It is I, who will be sharing a cell with him, and not you."
"But they would have arrested me still. Like how they have arrested me now." Ellington replied, not backing down.
Kit looked at her intently. Ellington had the impression that she was being read. "Do you think that is the kind of life you want… to spend your future with him in a jail?" From the slight rays of moonlight making its way towards the darkness of their cell, Ellington was not sure if Kit was having fun talking to her like this, or if she is simply doing it because it's what's supposed to be done. It reminded her too much of how Lemony persuades her to join their side.
"You're just backing him up because he's your brother." Ellington said, with all the bits of bitterness from the last coffee she had stuck in her throat. She remembered it was Lemony she had last shared a coffee with. The thought annoyed her.
"He is my brother, yes." Kit replied, in which Ellington noticed a slight change of her tone. "But we've been taught not to recognize each other, as I have said before. There, having a brother is like having none. I do not support him because of blood, but because what he did was what I would have done too if I was in his position. Yes, the factor could have been our education. But the question is this: is it more beastly to become a murderer than to set one free?"
That question sounded like something Lemony would have asked her. She didn't know how to respond. So many thoughts were crashing into her mind, she didn't know how to organize them all.
"From what I've seen, Ellington, the people in that town needs saving. In that single event, the two types of people in my question was made. In that single event, my brother had become a murderer, and the people had become not more ghastly than he is. They have set a murderer free. They have set one free because of blood... because those who enforce peace and order is related to the one who disrupted it. And they have put you here, an innocent girl who was only doing terrible things for the person she loves, to be stripped off of her freedom." At this point, Kit stopped talking. Ellington wondered if she'd had trouble continuing her sentences too, but it seemed too far fetch. Kit and Lemony, and probably everyone from their organization seemed to have a string of words continuously flowing out of their mouths. She remembered not quite long ago, when she had sat along with Lemony's associates, that he spoke in front of them with so much conviction and knowledge. She'd known at that moment that Lemony wasn't any other boy she had met before and that he's probably the only one she will meet who carries the same sense of dignity.
"He tried to do one last thing, Ellington." Kit continued. "He tried to convince them to let you go and have the son of those officers take your place." At this point, Kit looked at her the same way Lemony would have had. "I think you have forgotten that last bit. Having someone else defend your reputation is not something a murderer who kills for the sake of their selfish purposes does."
"Stop talking…" Ellington said, and she couldn't help the tears now either. Yes, her father and Lemony may have been both murderers and that there's a fine line which separates both of their motives. Yes, her father has been terrible, but it wasn't her fault that she is his daughter and that she longs for his presence.
"Please…" She was wiping her eyes furiously.
"I apologize if I may have been interfering too much, Ellington. I really am." Kit said, and it was the first time Ellington have heard feelings in her voice. "I have said what I wanted to say, so I will stop now."
For a moment it stayed like that. For a long moment she cried, and the tears keep coming in. The sound of her sobs is what filled that cell with life. The thoughts of all her actions and all Lemony's actions and all his father's actions are what kept her going. The feeling of loneliness is what kept her going. Kit's quietness is what kept her going, and Ellington wasn't sure, for the tears were blocking her vision, but she might have seen Kit do the same, hiding her head in the crook of her elbows and holding back her emotions.
"He said…" Ellington said, when she thought she can speak properly. She was wrong. Her huffs of breath kept interrupting her. "He said… that if I'd… If I've had defeated Hangfire, then I am… I am already part of your side."
Kit took a while to answer, probably because she didn't know that Lemony has been gathering his own associates in his stay at the town.
"Then you probably deserve it." Kit finally said. "In the world today, it is hard to find beings who are well-read and are ready to uphold justice and nobility in the face of adversary. If he had chosen you, then he probably believed in you."
"He had chosen more. Those people have helped him. Not one of them betrayed him. I betrayed him from time to time!"
"And did he give up on you?" Ellington was taken aback. Kit's words were as sharp as the Bombinating Beast's claws.
"He picked blindly on me."
Kit nodded her head solemnly. "Justice may be blind, Ms. Feint, but my brother can see it perfectly well…" It was at that moment that Ellington was assured that Kit has had her own share of tears too. Her eyes, despite the lack of illumination from outside, were glinting. But she turned her head to the landscape before Ellington can speak. "I miss him so much."
"I… miss him too." Ellington said, so quietly she could have sworn she was the only one who heard it, but Kit shifted in her seat.
"It's not ridiculous to miss someone you have just seen. Look at me, I have seen him wave goodbye, but I want nothing more than to hold him now, so tightly. He is my brother, after all." Kit said, and stared at Ellington for as hard as she could. Ellington wasn't sure if she should stare back at her eyes and see Lemony in it. She wasn't sure if she could handle it. But before she could turn away, Kit continued to speak. "Do you… like my brother, Ellington?"
"I like his company." Ellington said, gripping the bars and staring at the moon outside. The world seemed so peaceful, so quiet, as if the night has not released a creature that bore its color moments ago. She cast a sideways glance at Kit who let out a little laugh.
"Those things are the same." Kit said.
Is it? Ellington thought. After all, Lemony had said the same to her. He had said he liked her company, right before he promised her places.
"It is tragic." Kit said, holding back what seemed to be another involuntary sob. "This could be the last, Ellington. Like you, this could have been the last time I saw the face of my brother."
Ellington didn't answer. She knew that, of course. She knew, even if her father had been alive. Even if she hadn't seen Lemony feed her father to the beast, she knew that the both of them would never be in the same place again. Look at what has happened in the town. Two strangers both came to the same place looking for the same thing. These appearances have caused all the town's mysteries to unravel and their legends to step out from fiction. They shouldn't be in the same place at the same time. There is only one point in this fragmented world where both of their presences are welcomed – Corner of Caravan and Parfait. She can't just believe she can easily find places like that. Not after everything that has happened.
"I guess some people are meant to meet only once, don't they?" Ellington said, surprised to see that there's still bit of coffee left in her throat.
She wasn't wrong, but for the first time since she found herself in Stain'd-by-the-Sea, the first time since she believed a statue of a beast was all it takes to bring her father back, she hoped she was.