Fandom: Professor Layton
Rating: PG (R in later chapters)
Word Count: 2831
Disclaimer: I don't own Professor Layton. Or his top-hat of awesome.
Teaser: The prompt was for a Luke/Layton reincarnation fic. A student who doesn't like history meets a teacher who might change his mind about some other things as well.
With a yawn that was only slightly exaggerated in length and volume, Lucas dropped his bag to the ground beside the chair he had decided was to be his for the duration of the class and then sank into the chair. Once situated, he folded his arms on the top of the desk and put his forehead on them. Why did the first day of classes have to be so confoundedly long and so confoundedly boring?
…all right, so it was not entirely the fault of his professors. The truth was that he had not slept well the night before. Another of those odd dreams, one of many that had been plaguing him with an alarming frequency as of late. Last night’s was one he had had before: he dreamed of being a child on a ship that was sinking. The last thing he had remembered before waking up was being in the cold water, not being able to breathe, and trying to call out to…
To someone. He did not know who. But he sensed that it was someone important.
And he had spent the rest of the night staring at the ceiling through the darkness of his dorm room, trying to figure out who in the world that someone could be. And for that matter, why he was on a ship like that. Lucas had never been on a boat in his life, period, let alone a massive ship like that. It reminded him of pictures he had seen of the Titanic, or that cheesy movie.
Something thwapped him on the back of the head, and he lifted his head. “What?”
“Better not be dozing off,” Clark said warningly, waving a folder which it could be assumed had just been used to bap his friend on the head. He dropped into the adjacent seat, his own bag thudding to the ground by his chair. “I’ve already heard about this prof. He’s supposed to be one of the best there is here. Like, you’ll actually enjoy history by the time he’s through with ya. So try to stay awake.”
“If he makes me like history, then he’s a freakin’ miracle worker,” Lucas shrugged. He propped his elbows on the desk and pressed his eyes to the heels of his hands. God, he was tired.
“You okay, man?”
Lucas managed a smile. “Wiped out. Didn’t get much sleep last night.” He chuckled. “Weird dream…”
Clark was silent a moment, then put on a weird accent. “Tell me about your childhood.”
“What’s your problem?”
One hand carded absently through brown hair. “I dunno…” Lucas sighed.
“…that dream really weirded you out, didn’t it?” Clark said after a moment.
It didn’t take Lucas terribly long to relate what he could remember of his nightmare. Some of the details were fuzzy, to be sure, but overall, he was almost startled at how well he remembered it. He usually was not one to remember his dreams like this.
When he was done, Clark let out a low whistle. “That’s…” he seemed to search for the right word before deciding on, “…really weird. You ever been on a boat?” When Lucas shook his head, Clark grinned. “Maybe you were on the Titanic in a past life?”
“Don’t be an ass.”
As they had been sitting there, bickering and discussing the odd dream that had left Lucas so exhausted, the rest of the class had been filing in. Many were opening laptops or pulling out their books, which reminded the two friends that they were, indeed, in a class and should probably at least put up some sort of impression of preparedness and interest. Both boys fished into their respective bags and dragged out computers, books, and a couple of writing utensils for safety’s sake.
And just in time.
The door opened, and a man walked in with several books under his arm. He set them on the table and seemed to arrange things for a moment before he regarded the class with a congenial smile. “Good afternoon,” he said as the clock tower on the campus chapel began to ring out the one o’clock hour. “My name is Hewitt Leighton. Welcome to the History of Western Civilization.”
The entire class was already engrossed. He was handsome, probably nearing middle age, and dressed neatly, mostly in brown. The stack of books beside him seemed a clear indicator of how much they were going to be expected to learn in this class, but at the same time he was giving off this air that he could be anyone’s best friend, the kind of person you could sit and talk with over lunch.
Suddenly, the man straightened and walked back over to the door and left the room. Everyone waited a moment, a bit confused, until he returned, this time holding a travel mug in his hand. “I apologize. I’m one of those people who can’t function without this.”
“Coffee?” another young man in the class asked.
He took a sip and smiled. “Not quite. But I can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about tea.”
A few people chuckled, and one person raised their hand. “What should we call you?” It was a reasonable question, to be sure. Some professors permitted their students to call them by their first name, whereas some preferred the respect of the last name and an honorific.
Leighton thought for a moment. “Most have taken to calling me the Professor. I rather like it. But now comes the difficult part,” he looked around. “You all just have one name to learn, whereas I have so many. So let’s see…” He flipped open a roster and began reading names, studying each face as they replied as though to memorize them. Occasionally he would make a comment, whether it was to inquire about the pronunciation of a name or to joke about the team logo on someone’s sweatshirt.
When Lucas heard his name, he obligingly raised his hand, and tried very hard not to look as bored as he felt (although he did have to admit that he already rather liked the professor for this class, so that was a plus). But he was surprised when the Professor smiled and said, “You’re not a fan of history, are you?”
No reason to lie. “Not really.”
“Graduation requirement, then?”
“More or less.”
“Fair enough,” the Professor said with a chuckle. “I get that a lot. History is not for everyone. But we’ll see what we can do for you, Lucas.” And he went on, continuing down the roster with the next name.
In spite of himself, Lucas felt himself smile at the short exchange. He really liked this professor.
The first day was much as to be expected. Introductions came first, and then the syllabus was passed out, and they went over it, discussing high points and important projects. As class was winding down, the Professor closed his syllabus and gestured for all of them to do the same before he asked, “Now, is there anything you would like to ask me before we dismiss?”
To his own surprise, Lucas felt himself raise his hand. “What do you do in your free time?”
He immediately wanted to smack himself in the face. What had prompted that?
Amazingly enough, the Professor did not seem at all fazed by the question. “Well, let’s see. I enjoy reading, of course. I’m afraid I would die without my tea. And I do enjoy puzzles. In fact, let’s see if any of you are still awake and thinking after having to listen to half a dozen identical syllabi today. I realize that such a lack of activity can turn one’s brain to pudding.”
As they all chuckled, he stood and walked around to the wipeboard, picked up a blue marker, and drew a series of lines that vaguely resembled a very boxy dog. He stepped back and gestured to it. “As you can see, there is a reason why I am not an art teacher. Now I can’t remember where I saw this one, but here you have a dog. Sort of. This dog is walking down the street, like you do. Now imagine it gets hit by a car and flattened.”
One girl gasped, and a few others rolled their eyes.
Professor Leighton held up the marker and offered it to the class. “Does anyone think that they can make this walking dog look like it would after being run over by moving two of the lines?”
There was a pause.
Lucas was not normally one had paid a great deal of attention to things like riddles or mindteasers. But when presented with this particular puzzle, he knew the answer almost immediately. If he had not known better, he would have almost thought that he already knew the answer somehow. And again he raised his hand. “I can do it.”
He got up and walked to the front of the room and took the offered marker. He erased one of the dog’s front legs and one of the back legs and redrew them on the other side. Instead of looking like a walking dog, it now looked like its legs were splayed on either side, as though it had been flatted.
“There,” he said when he was finished. He capped the marker and returned it to the holder at the bottom of the wipeboard before returning to his seat.
The Professor looked pleased. “Well done. Don’t forget the reading assignment for Wednesday. This completes your obligatory reminder. And with that, class is dismissed.” He waved them off.
Clark seemed amused as they began gathering their things. “What the hell was that?”
“I have no idea,” Lucas grumbled. “It wasn’t like it was hard or anything.”
“But you didn’t even think. You just jumped,” Clark said.
That night, Lucas had another of his odd dreams. This time, he dreamed of a Ferris Wheel, tall and decrepit amidst the remains of what looked like a very old theme park. It was perhaps the least threatening dream he had had in quite some time.
But for whatever reason, he woke up in a cold sweat.
Lucas had never liked Ferris Wheels.
“So what do you think?” Clark asked, laying his book on his comforter and promptly resting his head on the smooth pages. “I still think history is boring as hell, but the Professor seems kinda cool.”
Lucas didn’t answer right away. For whatever reason, when he kept trying to read the assignment they had been given for the history class, he would hear the words being read in the Professor’s voice inside his head, and it was disconcerting. He could not decide if it was a comfort, given that he liked the Professor, or incredibly creepy, given that he had known the man for all of about half an hour as of the previous afternoon.
Finally, he went with a noncommittal “I don’t know,” and turned the page.
“…Luke, you’ve been acting weird since class yesterday. What’s the problem?” Clark said after a brief pause. He shifted to look at his friend with an expression bordering on concern.
“It’s hard to explain. But have you ever had the feeling that you’ve met someone before, even though they’re a complete stranger? Or that you feel like you’ve known someone your whole life, but you just met them?” Lucas asked, then frowned. “And you know you’re the only one who calls me that?”
“Luke, Lucas, same diff,” the reply came with an airy wave of the hand, as though to just dismiss the concern as nothing. “But you think that about the Professor?”
“I dunno. I’ve never felt that, but I gotta admit, he’s got that vibe,” Clark rolled over onto his back. “Never met anyone with a tea addiction, though. Usually it’s coffee or Mountain Dew or something.” He paused, then sat up with a grin. He did his best impression of the Professor’s low tenor. “I’m the Professor. I drink the tea around here!”
“…you’re an idiot,” Lucas said in a deadpan. “Come on, let’s just get this reading done.” For some unknown reason, despite his overall distaste for history, he felt like somehow, he did not want to disappoint this particular teacher.
As far as Lucas was concerned, there were many things less interesting to discuss on the first real day of a class than Stonehenge. But as an introduction to ancient civilizations, that was what Professor Leighton had started them on. It was a very recognizable structure, and surrounded by mystery, and the discussion ended up being quite lively.
Lucas found himself paying close attention to the Professor, not entirely in the sense of listening to the lesson, but more trying to figure out what it was about the man that was so blasted familiar. But there were no answers to that pressing question.
Instead, he just found that the Professor was a very easy going, congenial man with a good sense of humor. Case in point: he seemed amused when he put up a picture of Stonehenge, and one of the boys starting singing the theme song from The X-Files. And then he allowed a brief discussion over the reality or lack thereof of aliens and UFOs before returning the class to the actual lesson.
It was odd, though. Lucas had always adopted a rather poor view of history. As far as he was concerned, someone somewhere a long time ago once did something and had fun. That was history. End of discussion. But listening to the Professor describe it? It almost because…
Lucas shuddered. Obviously, there had to mind altering drugs involved in this, because there was no other explanation. Perhaps something in that tea the Professor was always sipping from? But how would that work to affect him? Perhaps it was some sort of an experiment…
He got so wrapped up in his conspiracy theory that he barely even noticed that class was being dismissed. A tap on the shoulder jolted him out of it halfway through his developing mental rhetoric that there were actually cameras hidden behind the dry erase board at the front of the room. He looked up to see Clark standing next to him, looking embarrassed, and Professor Leighton standing in front of his desk, arms folded and eyebrow raised.
“Err, I was just…” Lucas stammered as he noticed that everyone else in the class had already left.
“What was going on inside your head that was so fascinating, my boy?” the Professor asked. Strangely enough, he did not sound terribly angry. More amused than anything else.
Luke, my boy.
…the words jumped into his mind, unbidden, but it sounded right. He nearly choked on his words, but managed to right himself quickly and admitted, “I was thinking about something only partially related to your class, Professor.”
“Partially related?” Leighton said. “That’s almost a breath of fresh air. Usually students who are staring off into space intently enough that they miss the end of class are thinking about something completely unrelated to the lesson.” A pause. “And frequently nothing to be repeated in polite company.”
Clark, meanwhile, had slipped out of the room, probably expecting that there was to be trouble.
“Well, I was thinking that there must be some sort of an experiment going on here or something,” Lucas said. “Like, I dunno…brainwashing or something like that. It’s the only explanation.”
“For me actually finding this stuff interesting.”
His blunt honesty was rewarded when the Professor laughed out loud. “I’m willing to let you off the hook for that excuse alone,” he chuckled, and Lucas was relieved. Again, that weird feeling that he did not want to disappoint this man.
He rose and tucked his book safely into his backpack before shouldering it. He nearly walked out of the room, then hesitated and turned back. “What would the penalty be if you weren’t letting me off the hook, Professor?” he asked.
After a moment of thought, Leighton replied, “Oh, I’d probably have you come to my office to help me with some research or some such thing. I’m a terrible ogre, aren’t I?”
Lucas swallowed hard. He didn’t know why he was doing this, but he was going to anyway. “What if I might like to do that anyway?” He was crazy, he was losing his mind, what the hell was in that tea??
The Professor actually looked startled. It seemed pretty obvious that although his classes were admittedly very popular, it wasn’t every day that a student who had professed to dislike history as much as Lucas had was offering to spend some of their free time assisting him with his research. But after a moment, Leighton nodded. “All right. When would you like to come up to the office?”
Once again, Lucas was surprised to feel himself grin. “When do you need help?”
PS. First things first: I believe I owe an apology to sometimesuhurt. Once upon a time, she suggested to me that I should write L/L. My response didn’t include these words exactly, but basically inferred “cold day” and “Hell.” I hope the imps are enjoying their snowball fight because here it is. This fic will probably be about ten chapters long, plus epilogue. I’m adding some stuff near the end, but for the most part it will be much as it was on the meme. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!