Fandom: Professor Layton
Rating: PG (R in later chapters)
Word Count: 2097
Disclaimer: I don't own Professor Layton. Or his top-hat of awesome.
Teaser: The first semester draws to a close. Meanwhile, Lucas realizes something interesting about his dreams as he keeps having them.
“Lucas, can I see you for a moment?”
He glanced up in the midst of trying to shove his book into an already overly full backpack that seemed to be no longer accepting submissions. “S-sure,” he said, more startled than he felt he should be at the request. It was not unusual for him to approach the Professor after class. But this was the first time the Professor had requested that he stay.
When he approached the table, Professor Leighton regarded him with a raised eyebrow and a look that was hard to place. “I received this from the registrar’s office this morning, my boy.” He held up a sheet of paper covered in typed words. “Regarding a new addition to our list of history majors?”
Ah, so that was it. Lucas should have figured that it would have gotten around to the Professor’s ears soon enough. Or eyes, as the case may be. He tried to look nonchalant. “Oh really?”
“Yes. And I seem to find your name as the new one on the list,” Leighton said; he set the paper back down and leaned his elbows against the table, weaving his fingers together and resting his chin against them. “I admit, it surprised me a great deal.”
“You were the one who declared on the very first day that you did not enjoy history. Now you have declared it as your major. I’m sure you can see where I was surprised to see this list.
For the first time since he had filled out that form, Lucas felt a twinge of uncertainty. He had been so sure when he had gone to do it, but now with the Professor’s almost disapproving eyes on him, he was having second thoughts. “Do you think I should do something else?” he asked solemnly, rather hoping that the man would read between the lines and get the question hidden there.
Do you not want me to be in your classes anymore?
Apparently, Hewitt Leighton was not a stupid man, and could indeed read between those narrow lines. And his eyes widened as he quickly shook his head. “It’s not that, my boy. Not at all. It’s wonderful to have you. I was just wondering what on earth inspired this change of heart.”
Lucas looked down. He couldn’t very well come right out and say you, but he could say, “Well, I think something opened my eyes, and now I can’t think about anything else.” That was the complete truth, an annoying fact when he was trying to do homework for other classes.
Leighton smiled, obviously pleased with the answer. “Well, welcome aboard, my boy.” He stood. “And it seems that I’m slated to be your advisor as of next semester.”
This was news to Lucas, and he couldn’t quite suppress the grin. “Awesome.” He hesitated, then said, “Hey, Professor? …got any research you need help with? Or broken jar jigsaw puzzles?”
The Professor chuckled. “I should refuse because I’m sure you have other classes to worry about, but at the same time, I must admit that I enjoy the company. All right, Lucas, you win. The usual time, if that’s all right? And here is your obligatory reminder to bring your homework and finish that first.”
“Crystal clear, sir,” Lucas said with a mock salute.
It was getting to be something that was happening almost weekly now. After classes and dinner, Lucas would gather his things and make his way to the office on the top floor. If he was doing some sort of homework, he would usually take his place on the worn brown couch. But on quite a few occasions, he found himself seated in the chair on the other side of the desk, looking over this or that or the other thing with the Professor.
Sometimes it was just a book or some article of interest. But other times, it was an actual artifact, something from an actual civilization. Some of them were ones that the Professor had in his office, most of which were replicas of things he had actually worked on. But now and again there was a genuine item, sent by a fellow archaeologist for study.
Those were Lucas’ favorite times spent in the office. The Professor always had tea, and was always quite willing to share both his beverage of choice and his company. The man had been all over the world, seen many interesting and exotic things, and seemed very pleased to share his experiences with his student. At one point, he had actually joked about making Lucas his apprentice; Lucas had said, also jokingly, that he would settle for work-study, as it paid better.
But unfortunately, tonight was a work night. Lucas had his nose buried in a math textbook (“For a long time, math was the only class I hated more than history. Just so you know,” he had said, ignoring the Professor’s dry chuckle and response of, “And yet whenever I hand you a number puzzle, you jump all over it.”), and the Professor was correcting some papers.
But there was a conversation, and in this case, it was quite an amusing one.
Leighton glanced up from the paper in his hand with a stunned look. “Middle aged?”
Lucas didn’t even bat an eye. “Yeah. That’s what I said.”
After a pause, the Professor quirked a brow. “My boy, how old do you think I am?”
“I dunno,” Lucas shrugged. “You’re kinda old-fashioned, so I figured maybe middle aged?”
Leighton started to laugh. “I certainly hope you never have to testify in a court case, my boy. You’d be a terrible witness.” He sat back in his chair and shook his head. “I’m twenty-eight years old, Lucas.”
That got Lucas’ attention. “What?”
“…you’re really that young?”
“Are you insinuating that I look old?”
“N-no! Not at all!”
“Good. Back to work with you, whippersnapper.”
Lucas grinned, recognizing the jibe as meaning that there were no hard feelings over the tragic misunderstanding, and returned his attention to his book with an overly loud mutter of “Geezer.”
“I’ll remember that when I’m grading your final exam.”
“…don’t remind me,” Lucas sighed. Finals were approaching far too fast for his taste. His first semester of college was almost over and done with. It was amazing. In the past few months, he had moved into his dorm, started classes, found a kindred spirit and mentor in the congenial History Professor, and declared a major in a subject that he had actually hated when starting school here.
Incredible how life could change so fast…
He heard the Professor let out a sound of alarm, and glanced up to see the infamous tea mug tip over the edge of the desk and start on a crash course with the floor. It was almost humorous, how it almost seemed to be moving in slow motion.
Without even thinking about it, Lucas jumped up and dove across the room, sliding to his knees on the carpet (an imitation of a Persian rug, he remembered the Professor saying as he pointed out the flaw in the pattern, as no true Persian rug was ever made completely perfect because it was believed to be an affront to the god Allah, who alone was worthy of perfection).
And the mug landed in his hands a few inches above the floor. A couple lukewarm drops of tea leaked out onto his hands, but otherwise, there was no mess, and nothing was broken.
Leighton was standing behind the desk; he smiled in relief. “Excellent save, my boy.”
It was strange, how the use of a simple phrase like ‘my boy’ could make Lucas feel so weird and happy. But as he stood up, still holding the mug, he felt an overwhelming urge to say something. So he did. He held the mug out with one hand, flashed a thumb-up with the other, grinned, and crowed, “Leighton’s apprentice saves the day!”
…why did such a stupid sentence feel so right on his lips?
Finals were over.
And the email was sitting on his computer, waiting to be read.
Lucas stared at it for a long moment. It seemed so innocent, marked as coming from Professor Hewitt Leighton, with a subject line of Final Exam Grade. All he had to do was open it and find out, once and for all, if he was making the right decision.
He had studied. Oh goodness, had he studied. He had wanted so desperately to be prepared for this test and do well to impress his teacher and again, to prove to himself that he had chosen the right major. And if he did well…well, he could stay near the Professor. Somehow, the idea of not being able to see the man every day and spend those comfortable nights sprawled on the sofa in his office was painful.
And when he had taken the final exam, the cumulative test over the entire semester, it was like someone else was moving his hand. He had known everything, and the answers had seemed to write themselves. It was like he had known all of this all along.
Clark had already opened his email, and was pumping his fist in the air and cheering over his ninety-one percent, narrowly above the A mark, earning himself an A in the class for the semester. He seemed very pleased with that, and rightfully so.
“Come on, Luke, just give it a look already,” Clark gave him a look from across the table.
Lucas swallowed hard, and pressed the Enter button on his laptop to open the email.
Your grade on the final exam was a 100%, giving you a final grade of 96.5% for the course. Well done, my boy! I look forward to seeing you next semester.
Lucas gaped at the email, his eyes twice their normal size.
Clark kicked him under the table. “Luke? What’dya get?”
“…I aced it,” Lucas said after a moment spent blinking to make sure he was not seeing things.
“What the crap??”
“A hundred percent. I got a ninety-six in the course.”
“…damn. Well, congrats!”
“Thanks…” he said genuinely. But the last sentence in the email had given him an odd fluttering feeling in his stomach. Next semester, he would be back in the Professor’s class. And maybe the Professor would let him come back up to the office more…
For the first time in his entire schooling career, he could hardly wait for the holiday vacation to be over.
The dream was intense tonight.
The boy in his dreams, the one who looked so much like him, was running down a flight of stairs. The building around him was shaking violently, and pieces of the walls and ceiling were crashing down like large boulders around him and the others he was with.
And then one piece hit the stairs in front of him, and for one horrific moment, he was certain that he was going to fall. A fall from this height would be fatal. But he jumped as hard as he could, and felt an immeasurable relief at the feeling of stairs beneath his shoes.
He turned back to the two people he had been running with. There was a girl (very pretty, and goodness, she looked familiar), and that man again. His face was still obscured, somehow. And he was yelling something, words that did not reach the boy’s ears.
It was bizarre. It was almost like Lucas was the boy in question. He was in tune with what the boy thought, felt, heard, saw, and did, as if they were one and the same. And right now, that odd sense told him that the boy had just been instructed to run and escape from the stairs. And he obeyed.
As they were running down the stairs, a name sprang, unbidden, into Lucas’ mind. At first, he wondered if it was the boy’s name, but he immediately discounted that idea, knowing it to be false. That was not the child’s name.
It was the man’s name. The boy was thinking it. He even knew, somehow, how it was spelled.
Lucas woke up as the boy in his dream reached the bottom of the staircase. His heart was hammering a rapid tattoo in his chest, and his mind was swimming with that name: Layton.
And he couldn’t help but realize that it was the same as his professor’s name.
…what in the world was going on?