Fandom: Professor Layton
Disclaimer: I don't own Professor Layton. Or his top-hat of awesome.
Teaser: Layton was working in his office one stormy night when he heard a crash from the floor above him...
On occasion, a problem would arise that would cause even the great Professor Layton to sit back and scratch his head. It was one of those joyful little puzzles that had him sitting up now, in the wee hours of the morning. It was a dark night, cold, and raining violently. His office was illuminated by a lone lamp sitting on the desk amidst the slew of papers strewn in front of him.
Coupled with the hour and the weather, the faint glow gave the room a rustic feel. Layton rather liked it.
In the corridor outside the room, the grandfather clock chimed three times. It actually surprised him when he heard it and realized exactly how late it had gotten. Time certainly did fly by when one had such an interesting problem in one’s hands.
But he was starting to feel the hour, and the words were starting to blur before his eyes. Maybe it was time to follow Luke’s example. His able apprentice had been helping him, but had given up the ghost and gone to bed some few hours earlier.
Layton rose. The puzzle at hand would still be there in the morning. It was time to get some rest.
As he moved to extinguish the lamp, a noisy crash echoed from the floor above him, accompanied by a loud cry that was unmistakably human.
In a heartbeat, Layton was tearing up the stairs. All sorts of dark possibilities were flashing through his well-trained mind in rapid succession, but one thing stood out above all others.
Luke was up there.
Luke’s door was slightly ajar, and he raced to the room when he saw it. “Luke!”
Standing in the doorway, Layton glanced around. Luke was sitting upright in bed, hands clutching tightly at the blankets, eyes wide and alarmed. A lamp, which until mere moments ago had resided on the bedside table, was in pieces on the floor. Outside, lightning flashed, illuminating the rain pattering noisily against the window.
“Luke?” Layton took a step into the room, trying valiantly to get his breathing back under control. His heart-rate was slowly returning to normal, though. It seemed there was no real emergency here. The crash was obviously just the lamp falling or being knocked over—
He was completely stunned when Luke vaulted off the bed, nearly falling when his legs became momentarily tangled in the blankets, threw himself across the room, and wrapped both arms around the professor’s waist, holding on for dear life.
Layton took an instinctive step back, not out of any revulsion at the gesture, but more because he was startled into it. “Luke, what’s wrong?” But the boy clung to his mentor with little more than a frightened whimper offered in response.
Now very much awake, Layton took quick stock of the situation. Something had the poor boy very scared, and as odds were that neither of them would be getting back to sleep any time soon, now would probably be the perfect time to find out what exactly had happened.
With one more glance around to make sure nothing else was out of place, he took Luke by the arm and led the boy back downstairs to the office, where the single lamp still burned.
It was remarkable what a warm fire and a cup of tea could do to calm one’s nerves. Layton already felt a great deal more relaxed about the whole thing. In the corridor, the clock had just chimed that it was a quarter after three in the morning.
Luke, on the other hand, seemed disoriented by the whole thing. Being torn from slumber while in the throes of a nightmare had left the poor boy exhausted and confused. He looked down into the teacup in his hands and sighed. Still clad in blue pajamas while displaying a shocking case of bedhead, he looked very young indeed.
Having made a quick check around the office to satisfy himself that all else was well in the place, Layton took a seat opposite his apprentice. “Are you all right?”
Luke nodded mutely. “M’sorry, Professor…was just a nightmare…”
“No need to apologize,” Layton assured him. He paused a moment to nurse his own tea. “Do you remember your nightmare? Anything at all?” For the boy to have been worked up enough to manage to knock the lamp over, it had to have been quite a dream.
After a moment, Luke replied. “It was…very strange,” he began slowly, then paused. “I think it was raining because it was hitting windows or glass around me. And I think I was moving somehow…”
He glanced up at the professor, as though seeking some sort of reassurance or validation that this all didn’t sound quite as crazy as he thought it did. Layton nodded, offering up a smile of encouragement. “Go on, it’s all right.”
“I just…heard a scream, and then everything went completely bonkers,” Luke went on at the professor’s words. “Like the whole world got turned upside down and shaken. Like we were inside one of those snow globes you see during the holidays! And there was glass and a lot of light, all different colors of light everywhere, and it was all very hazy…and then I woke up.” He paused against to sip his tea, then looked up again. “I’m sorry about the lamp…”
“It’s nothing to worry about,” Layton assured him, taking another sip. “You remember nothing else?”
Luke shook his head. “That’s all.”
“Do you feel any better?” the professor asked.
This time the boy nodded, punctuating the gesture with a yawn. One hand moved to absently rub at his eyes. “M’fine now. Just tired…”
So very young indeed.
Within the next few moments, goodnights were exchanged, and Luke retired again, seeming far more calm than he had been merely a short while ago. Layton stayed downstairs; his cheery smile did not fade until after he heard Luke’s door close. Only then did his expression grown pensive, and he retired again to his office, dropping into his desk chair.
One hand moved to a drawer in his desk, opening it and fishing into a file for a moment before withdrawing an envelope. The flap had already been torn open, and he regarded it for a moment before slipping the letter from inside it and unfolding it. He already knew what it said, but sometimes a person just needed the added confirmation of his own eyes.
When Luke had been brought to his attention as a potential apprentice, there had been an exchange of letters. Layton had made all the usual inquiries about the lad, and was assured of the boy’s good character and intelligence. There should be no problems with him, they promised him.
In his penultimate letter, he had inquired about Luke’s parents, both for his own curiosity and so as to avoid inadvertently saying something wrong once the boy had been delivered into his care. It wouldn’t do to upset anyone for no good reason. The letter he held now was the reply to that.
After several paragraphs explaining other things and answering other queries, there had been the answer to the pertinent question, and the accompanying explanation:
Regrettably, Luke’s parents were lost in a car accident when he was three. He was a passenger in the car, and the only survivor of the crash, by some miracle. It was a stormy night, and their car went off the road. Luke knows how his parents died, but he does not know that he was in the car with them when it happened. He does not remember the accident at all.
There was more to explain the reason why they had not told Luke the entire truth. He had missed his parents desperately, and he had been inconsolable over the loss, though he did not fully understand the concept of death. It had been quite some time before the weight began to lift. Survivor’s guilt could be a powerful emotion, and they could not bring themselves to risk inflicting more emotional damage on a child who was already so emotionally vulnerable.
Still, it seemed that they had been wrong about one thing: Luke did remember the accident that had left him orphaned, even if it was not a conscious memory. Perhaps it was the storm that set it off…
If the professor had to take an educated guess—something he was incredibly good at doing—he would say that Luke’s nightmare had been that hazy memory, replaying itself. He had been so young when it happened, which probably didn’t help with the clarity of those memories.
Layton sighed and returned the letter to the envelope, and the envelope to the drawer. Poor Luke…
…was this what it felt like to be a parent?
PS. This would be my mental canon for Luke. Because I am something of a whore for storylines like these. Though watch, game three will stomp my ideas into the mud, WOES. But yes, holding to my idea that Luke was an orphan, and also cheerfully enjoying what I perceive to be a father-son relationship between the two. Love it! L’anyhoodle, thanks for reading, all! Much love!