Fandom: Professor Layton
Word Count: 1602
Disclaimer: I don't own Professor Layton. Or his top-hat of awesome.
Teaser: Part II of Day by Day. Layton seeks some advice on his new role, and Luke makes a decision as to what he's going to do with this new information.
Layton stared at the door for a very long time before he finally knocked. It was early, to be sure, but he knew she would be up and about by now. He shifted the basket in his arms a bit for a firmer hold as he waited for what was undoubtedly going to be impending doom. Or at the very least a lecture on his marital status or lack thereof. Either way, he was not looking forward to this conversation, but…
Well, it was a necessary evil.
After a moment, the door opened and his landlady peered out at him. Her vision wasn’t what it had once been, and it took her a moment of squinting through her spectacles to recognize him, just as it always did. He would have thought that the hat would have been quite the distinguishing feature, even to her old eyes, but it seemed that was not the case.
When she finally realized who her visitor was, her face broke into a wide smile of delight. “Ah, Professor! Good to see you!” Agatha opened the door and gestured for him to come inside. “Please, come in, come in!” She closed the door after he had passed her to enter the room. “Two visits in two days. My lad, you’re far too kind to an old woman.”
It was comments like those that drove home a simple fact: nosy as she could be, the woman was lonely. He smiled and carefully set the basket down on the table, noticing movement beneath the blanket. It seemed that someone was waking up. “I hope I’m not intruding, Agatha, but I need some advice.”
“No intrusion!” she trilled. It was then that she seemed to finally notice the basket, and crossed the room to peer at it curiously. “What have we here? And…is it moving, Hershel?” Now her gaze turned a bit towards the suspicious. “What have you brought?”
“Last night…well,” he paused, then hesitantly reached down to pull the blanket back, revealing a very sleepy-looking infant in blue pajamas, “this young man appeared on my doorstep.”
Agatha gasped. “Hershel…!”
“I saw a person. It appeared to be a woman, so I make the guess that she was this boy’s mother,” he went on. “She fled when I tried to speak to her. I certainly couldn’t leave the poor boy out there in the cold, so…” He trailed off, watching as his landlady carefully picked up the infant.
“Good heavens…what kind of woman would abandon her child like that?” she said with all the scorn of one who is old and set in her ways, cradling the baby against her. “Especially a beautiful baby like this one.” She glanced at her tenant. “Did she leave anything with him?”
“A letter. His name is Luke,” he said, ignoring the question of what kind of woman the mother could be. The letter in question was in his office in the center of his desk. He had read it enough times during the night to have memorized it, word for word, line for line. And he had gleaned from it that the mother was doing what she thought was best for her child. The situation…well, if it was as it had been described to him on those two pages, then perhaps she was right.
Now Agatha’s measuring eye turned on him once again. “You aren’t thinking of keeping this child, are you, Hershel?” she said in that one certain voice of hers. It was hard to explain, but somehow whenever she used that particular tone (which thankfully wasn’t often with him), he found himself fighting to feel his normal height, rather than two inches tall.
That was the million picarat question, as it were, and one that Professor Layton had been pondering over since the previous evening. And he had come to the only answer he truly felt he could, given what he knew of the situation and his own sense of propriety and duty. “I am, Agatha.”
“Hershel, you are a single man—you wouldn’t—how could you—couldn’t possibly—you don’t know a thing about raising a child!” she sputtered before finally deciding on that last as a full statement. She seemed to hold the child in question a bit closer to her as she said that, as though to protect it.
He looked down for a moment to gather his thoughts. “…she left him on my doorstep for a reason, Agatha,” he said with a great deal more calm than he felt. “She told me all of this in the letter she left.” He decided to indulge his landlady a bit. “The poor woman did not feel she could care for her son, so she chose to give him up. And she left him with me because she thought I could give him what she could not. And that makes him…Luke…my responsibility.”
It was one of the very few times he had seen this woman falter. “But…”
“I know that I know nothing about children,” he said. “That is why I came here to see you.”
Agatha looked down at Luke, who had dozed off again and was merrily drooling on the bodice of her apron. Then she glanced back at her tenant. “You’re sure about this?”
“Not at all. But I want to try.”
Another look between the two of them before she sighed. “All right. But I warn you, this will not be easy. Furthermore, the child is the only one in this situation who can truly be called innocent, Hershel, and I will not tolerate anything that might put this poor boy at risk. But…” To his surprise, her expression softened. “…but I think you can do it. And I think you have the makings of a wonderful father.”
With those encouraging words hanging in the air around them and dissolving the tension over the child’s fate, she crossed the short distance between them and carefully placed the drowsy baby in his arms with a warning to mind his head.
It wasn’t going to be an easy road, but it would definitely be an exciting one.
Layton was startled to realize that he had been daydreaming. That was something that had been happening with unusually high frequency over the past two days. After all, that was how long it had been since Luke’s fateful query regarding his parents, and Layton’s truthful answer.
Since that evening, things had been very tense in the household. Luke had spent a great amount of time closed up in his own room, refusing to see or speak to anyone unless it was absolutely unavoidable. He did not even emerge for meals, prompting a worried Flora to bring a tray up to his room. There was no reply when she knocked on his door, but she was not to be so easily deterred (the girl had proven to have a bit of a stubborn streak in her), and she had told him she was leaving the tray outside in the hallway for him. She had returned some time later to find that while the tray did not appear to have been moved, the food had vanished.
This marked the first time that Luke had seen or spoken to him since that conversation. Layton stood. “Yes, my boy?” Are you all right? Is there anything I can do? Do you hate me? A million questions raced through his mind, but the only one that made it out was a simple, “How are you feeling?”
Luke didn’t reply. He crossed the room with slow, shuffling steps, keeping his eyes firmly on the floor, stopping in front of the desk. “Professor…I wanted to know if you knew anything else about my mother,” he said, shifting slightly. He looked nervous. “Anything at all.”
“I want to find her.”
Layton froze, particularly when Luke lifted his gaze and met Layton’s eyes squarely. “I just…I want to know what happened and why she left me!” he burst out. His hands clenched into fists at his sides. “If nothing else…I just want to know where she is. So if you know anything at all…” He looked down again, his momentary rush of bravado leaving him. “Please, Professor. Please.”
At that moment, he looked very, very young.
The Professor was still for a moment before he stooped to open a desk drawer. From this drawer, he withdrew an envelope. It was old, slightly yellowed from age, and showed the signs of having been handled with great frequency. “Luke,” he began slowly, “your mother left this letter with you. It told me your name, and why she left you.”
Luke looked up quickly at the word ‘letter.’ His eyes fixed on that yellowed envelope, never leaving it.
“I kept it because I expected you to ask someday, my boy,” Layton went on, moving to step around the desk to stand before his apprentice, the letter still held carefully in his hands. “In this letter, she asks me not to try and locate her. A gentleman honors the request of a lady and all. But…she made no such request of you, Luke. And I think she might have wanted you to find her some day.”
“Why do you think that?” Luke asked quietly.
“Because, my boy,” Layton held the letter out to Luke, “she signed her name.”
Luke stared at the envelope for a long moment. “Professor…do you…I mean, can you…”
Layton was a bit startled to feel himself smile. “I’ll help in any way I can, my boy.”
The grateful smile on Luke’s face nearly broke his heart.
PS. Okay. I decided to continue One Night. This was after a TON of deliberation…and also all these scenes in my head that refused to go away. My fear is that I won’t be able to live up to the original (which I admit to be very proud of), but…the plunnies won’t leave me alone. So I’ll do my best to make it stack up. There should be…probably two more parts after this. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!