Fandom: Professor Layton
Rating: PG (R in later chapters)
Word Count: 4609
Disclaimer: I don't own Professor Layton. Or his top-hat of awesome.
Teaser: The Professor has something he wants to discuss with Lucas. Something that could change everything.
“Tell me again why we have to write so many papers?”
“It builds character. Rather like being yelled at.”
“…I’ll write the paper.”
There was a triumphant chuckle from the Professor, seated comfortably at his desk. Lucas managed to scrape up something that he hoped looked like a scowl as he flipped open a book and began to read up on his chosen subject. For the duration of this paper, they were to choose an archaeological discovery and research and write an extensive paper on it. It was actually to be their final paper for the semester, but due to the magnitude, they already had the assignment.
“I will make you a deal, my boy,” Leighton said after a moment of silence. “If you keep working, I do have something I’d like to discuss with you. Do we have an agreement?”
“Yes, oh master of the world,” Lucas said with a dry grin.
“Very well, then.” The jibe rolled off the Professor’s back like water off a duck’s feathers.
Still rather pleased with himself, Lucas looked back down at his book. It seemed that everyone and their imaginary friend Jake had chosen either Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen in 1922, or Heinrich Schliemann’s initial excavation of the ruins of Troy in the 1870s. But Lucas was determined to do something different.
It was for this reason that the book he was reading was entitled Great Archaeological Finds of the Twentieth Century. A rather dry title, but the book itself was interesting, and provided no end of options for a topic for an expansive paper. The Professor had actually recommended the book in class for those who had not yet decided on a topic. The copy in Lucas’ hands was the Professor’s own personal copy, loaned to him for the purpose of finding his paper subject.
Right now, he was reading about the excavation of several tombs found near Stonehenge in the earlier parts of the twentieth century. It seemed that it had involved quite a good number of the scientists, historians, and archaeologists of the era, and had become very infamous when one of the scientists on the site had been found to be smuggling artifacts out of the site with the intention to sell them off to private collectors.
Lucas couldn’t understand why someone would steal something like that. But, he supposed, throughout time there have always been those for whom money spoke loudly and clearly.
He read down a section that detailed the names of various personnel involved in the excavation and their reactions to the news of the crime. When he first saw it, his eyes actually passed over it. It wasn’t until a few seconds later that his brain caught up, and he found himself scanning backwards to find it again. And there, there it was!
Professor Hershel Layton, a renowned archaeologist and detective of the time, was on the site to assist in the identification and cataloguing of the various items found on the scene…
Lucas just kept staring at that name: Professor Hershel Layton.
He knew that name.
…okay, this was just weird. He tried to tell himself that it was just a coincidence, that he was making a mountain out of a molehill, that it was just an odd coincidence because Layton wasn’t exactly an uncommon last name, so there were probably quite a few Laytons lurking around.
Even though his mind kept trying to point out that he already knew a Leighton.
Determined to forget about it, Lucas turned a page with the intention of skipping over the rest of this case and moving onto the next one. But that plan fell dead on the tracks when he saw the picture on the next page. It was an old photograph, black and white, but still quite clear. It showed two men studying some sort of document on a table. But Lucas’ entire attention was focused on only one of the men.
A tall man, square-faced, and wearing a suit and top hat.
This was the faceless man in his dreams. He was sure of it, absolutely sure of it. There was no way it could be anyone else. The resemblance was just too much for it to be chance. But there was something else that he was just now realizing, something that made ice claw at the pit of his stomach.
Lucas slowly turned his head to look at the Professor, sitting at the desk. He looked back down at the photo in the book. His gaze moved back and forth between the man in the room and the picture in the book a couple more times before he allowed himself to be convinced.
The man in the black and white photo looked exactly like the Professor. To the extent that Lucas could have believed that they were twins, were they not separated by decades.
His eyes now dropped to the caption beneath the photo. Somehow, he already knew what he was going to see. And sure enough, awfully enough, he was proven to be absolutely right.
Professor Hershel Layton (left) arrives on the scene and confers with…
Lucas didn’t even see the other man’s name. His suspicions had been confirmed.
So the man in his dreams, the man whose face he had yet to actually see, was Professor Hershel Layton, famed archaeologist of the early twentieth century. Even if he hadn’t heard the name in his dream, he just couldn’t imagine anyone else looking that much like the man. It just had to be him.
…and Professor Hershel Layton, famed archaeologist of the early twentieth century, bore an almost frightening resemblance to Lucas’ own Professor, Hewitt Leighton.
It took Lucas a few moments to remember that breathing was, in fact, a necessity of life, and thus he should probably try to take up the habit again. He had discovered something that, under normal circumstances, would have probably been written off as a happy coincidence. But given his dreams, he could not dismiss it as such. There were just too many points for him to forget the whole thing.
…he could not work on this project any further tonight. His head was just too messed up.
His abrupt leap to his feet must have startled the Professor. He heard the man made a surprised noise, but ignored it as he started shoving his things back into his bag as quickly as he could. “Lucas, my boy? Are you all right?” There was a creak that indicated that the Professor was on his feet.
Stop calling me that, Lucas thought, unsure as to why the words sent a chill down his spine. Just stop it… Suddenly he was not sure if he was actually referring to his common nickname of ‘my boy,’ or to the use of his proper name.
Or was it his name?
Little boy in the blue cap…
Man in the top hat…
Photo in the book…
…LUKE there was the name that was his name or was it really…
A hand touched his shoulder, and het let out a sound that could only be called a scream as he jumped back. His foot landed on a stack of magazines, and slid out from under him, sending him crashing to the office floor. He narrowly missed hitting the small coffee table on the way down, instead landing hard on the imitation Persian rug with the very solid tile floor beneath it.
His head smacked the floor, and stars danced merrily in front of his eyes.
“Lucas!” he vaguely heard the Professor’s voice saying his name sharply, the first time he had ever heard the Professor use any tone other than his usual calm, collected voice. Usually that tone was tempered with his trademark good humor. Now it was loud, alarmed, and frantic. “Lucas!”
Hands were at his shoulders, his neck, his face, lifting his head carefully to let gentle fingers run over the back of his head. “No blood…” he heard the man mutter. “I don’t think it’s serious…”
Through the haze dancing in front of his eyes, Lucas could see the Professor leaning over him; the man was close enough that Lucas could feel his breath on his forehead, and he could smell a strange mix of tea and mint and the faint scent of cologne…
He liked that smell.
And he liked the fact that the Professor was this close and touching him…
…god, what was wrong with him? How hard had he hit his head?
With a bit of effort, Lucas sat up, feeling the Professor’s hands again on his shoulders to help him sit up and support him while he tried to shake it off. And he suddenly realized how incredibly foolish he must have looked. He pressed one hand to his forehead in a vain attempt to stave off the headache that was already gnawing at the inside of his skull with its little jackhammers, and looked down at his feet. “I’m sorry…” he murmured. “That was a really dumbass thing to do.”
He brushed off the Professor’s questions as to whether or not he was okay, did he need anything, should they get a doctor, and with some effort Lucas got to his feet. His head was pounding, and he really just wanted to take a couple of aspirin and sleep for a few hours. But first he had to make it out of the office in one piece, and with Leighton worriedly hanging over him, that could be a challenge.
Lucas managed to put a good front on, though, and convinced the Professor that he was all right. He gathered his things and very quickly said his goodbyes and goodnights, and promised to bring the borrowed book back after he was done. He only wobbled a little bit as he made his way out of the office, down the stairs, and back to his own dorm room.
The room was, thankfully, empty. He figured that Clark was probably out chasing down that pretty sophomore girl, Daisy. They certainly seemed to be spending a lot of time together as of late. The idea would have made Lucas smile if there weren’t war-drums going inside his ears.
As he dropped his bag by his desk, the book fell out and onto the floor. The book he had borrowed from the Professor, the one that held that damnable black and white photograph…
Tomorrow, Lucas decided as he hauled himself up into his lofted bed. Tomorrow he would make a photocopy of that page to keep, just in case. Just in case of what, he wasn’t entirely sure, but somehow, he thought it might be important to have. And he had to assume that the Professor had read the book, since he owned it. How had he not noticed?
Too many questions, not enough answers, more than enough pain in his head.
…as he started drifting off to sleep, Lucas realized that he had never found out what it was that the Professor had wanted to ask him about, that had been offered as a deal in exchange for his work being done in the office. Oh well, he thought as he brushed the thought aside in favor of some quality snuggle time with his pillow. If it was that important, he would probably find out about it later…
He dreamt again that night, of a mansion and a cat.
And that man again…
“You did WHAT?” Clark asked the next morning as the two were preparing to leave for class.
Lucas swallowed the two aspirin (there was still a dull ache in his head, but overall he felt fine) and capped the bottle. “You heard me. Bam, right on my back.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just…embarrassed, really,” Lucas gave himself one last look in the mirror. Satisfied with his appearance, despite the fact that he still looked tired, he nodded and shouldered his bag.
Clark followed and waited while Lucas locked their door. As they started walking down towards the stairs at the other end of the hallway, Clark spoke up again. “Hey, Lucas? I’m kinda starting to worry.”
That statement genuinely surprised him, especially given that Clark was not one to voice such pesky thinks like feelings on a regular basis. “What do you mean? Why are you worried?”
“I dunno, it’s hard to explain, but ever since that first day in Western Civ, you’ve been acting really weird,” Clark said as they left the building and walked out into the crisp spring morning. The snows of winter were finally starting to melt. “It’s almost like you’re obsessed with the Prof.”
“I am not! I just study better in the office! Not so many damn distractions,” Lucas protested indignantly. But even as he squawked, he couldn’t help but realize that he had been thinking about the Professor a lot lately, and even moreso since he had plucked that name from his dream. And now that he had found that picture and had seen Layton…
He doubted that Professor Leighton would be getting out of his head anytime soon.
“Okay, okay,” Clark held up his hands in a gesture of defeat. “I’m just saying…” He ran a hand through his hair. “Let’s just get breakfast, okay?” They were nearing the building that housed the servery now.
Determined to change the subject very quickly, Lucas smirked. “Why don’t you ask Daisy to join us?” The sputter he got in response was priceless.
…so he was actually a bit surprised when Daisy Rainholt did, in fact, walk into the servery about five minutes after they’d take a seat, see them, and come over to ask if she could have a seat. And Lucas had to admit, not for the first time, that she was a very pretty girl. And Clark certainly seemed happy.
Except now that he was actually getting to have a conversation with his roommate’s girlfriend, he was finding her to be quite sweet, quiet, and very polite. Which left him wondering how in the world someone this quiet could possibly handle someone like Clark.
Needless to say, Lucas was a tiny bit concerned.
Then Clark made a joke, and Daisy pulled a folder from her bag and thwapped him soundly on the head with it. And Lucas was not concerned anymore. Although he was now quite certain that in thinking she was sweet, quiet, and shy, he had been conned.
When he walked into the Professor’s class the following day, he was unsurprised to find himself on the receiving end of a Look. It was a Teacher Look. Similar in many ways to a Mother Look, the Teacher Look had the capacity to make the student on the receiving end feel very, very small.
Feeling that Look on him, Lucas ducked his head and slid into his seat and immediately began digging through his bag for the necessary supplies for class, not daring to meet the man’s eyes.
At the end of class, as he had expected, he was summoned to the front of the room while everyone else filed out. Leighton regarded him with a concerned expression. “Are you all right, my boy?”
He ignored the churn of his stomach at those two blasted little words and nodded. “I’m fine. Slept it off, was good by morning,” he said cheerfully, waving a hand and deciding that he was not going to tell the Professor about the headache that had clung to him for the better part of the following day. “Oh, and here’s your book, Professor,” he pulled the borrowed tome out and handed it to the man. He had photocopied the page in question the previous day, and had it safely tucked away.
The Professor accepted the book with a smile. “Thank you, my boy.”
“Well, I’m gonna head off to lunch, so—“
“Lucas, there was something I wanted to discuss with you,” Leighton interrupted in a rare moment of rudeness. His smile had faded into something more serious. “Can you stop by the office tonight at the usual time? This is very important.”
Now Lucas felt nervous. “Am I in trouble?”
To his relief, Leighton’s expression lightened. “Oh, good heavens, no. But there is something of great importance that I must discuss with you, and it must happen soon. Can I expect you tonight, then?”
Lucas smiled. “Absolutely. And I promise this time I won’t try to kill myself.” He put one hand over his heart in an exaggerated gesture. “Cross my heart and hope to…well, hope to not die, but you know what I mean.” He was rewarded when Leighton chuckled and wished him a pleasant day.
The trip up the stairs was familiar by now. Lucas rounded the corner, made his way down the extremely narrow little tributary corridor, and through the open door to the Professor’s office. It had been ages since he knocked; when the door was open, that meant that he was welcome to walk in, especially if he was expected there.
“I’m here,” he announced, though it was quite unnecessary to do so.
“Good to see you,” Leighton replied, glancing up from some papers on his desk.
One of those papers caught Lucas’ eye. It almost looked like a travel brochure? Probably overstepping the boundaries of politeness, he reached over and picked the colorful pamphlet up. “Professor, what is all this? Are you going somewhere?” The thought made a cold jet of fear lance through his stomach.
“Patience, my boy,” the Professor said, reaching up to take the brochure back. “Please, sit. This has to do with what I wished to discuss with you.” As Lucas obediently dropped into the seat on the opposite side of the desk, Leighton continued. “I was speaking with a college of mine, a Professor Nazolene. She’s working a site down in South America.”
Mention of actual archaeological work made Lucas’ ears perk up. “What kind of site?”
Leighton seemed oddly pleased at his enthusiastic response. “It seems that they have stumbled across the remains of what appears to be a small Mayan village, in the area of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. Now, the village itself is not particularly large, but it seems that there is a wealth of artifacts pertaining to daily life in the Mayan time, and thus the site is potentially going to become very valuable from a historical viewpoint.”
Lucas actually felt rather happy to hear the news. “That sounds awesome!”
“It is,” the Professor chuckled. “Which leads me to the reason for all of this,” he gestured towards the papers scattered across his desk. “As I’m sure you are well aware, the semester will soon be drawing to a close, and then school will dismiss for the summer.”
“Oh, believe me I know!” Lucas said dramatically, earning a laugh.
“As there will be no classes here for the duration, I have been invited down to Mexico for the summer to assist in the excavation of the site,” Leighton said. “Hence, the travel information.”
“I can’t think of anything that I would miss this for. Not off the top of my head, anyway,” the Professor said, absently shuffling the papers into a neat stack on the corner of his desk. “These are the things that we live for as archaeologists and historians.”
“I can imagine,” Lucas said slowly. For some reason, the idea of the Professor going that far away…he did not like it. But there was no rationale for him thinking like that. After all, he was going to have to go home for the summer and not see the Professor for that long anyway. What difference did it make?
There was a pause before Leighton said, “You’re probably wondering what it was that I wanted to discuss with you that was so important. And yes, it is related to what I’ve just told you.”
To be honest, Lucas had momentarily forgotten about the reason he had come here. “Y-yes?”
Leighton leaned his elbows on the desk, his fingers entwined together, and regarded Lucas with a measuring look. “I was told that I could bring an assistant with me to the site.”
It took Lucas a moment to get it, and he felt his face redden. “Wh-what?” He gaped openly, not quite believing that he was hearing any of this correctly. “An assistant? And…are you asking…me?”
“I am,” the Professor said. “The fact is that I discussed you with Nazolene. And based on what I told her, she agrees with me. You have great promise, my boy, and despite your initial statements that you despise history, you have come to have a great deal of passion for the subject. I think you would do well on the site. So please consider this a formal invitation. Will you accompany me?”
After several seconds, Lucas remembered that his body required oxygen to function. “I—y-yes! Oh my god, yes! Absolutely!” he pressed one hand to his forehead, feeling a ridiculously huge smile break out on his face. “I’d love to go!” He felt like a child, giddy as could be.
Leighton smiled. “Very well. I’ll let Nazolene know, and we’ll make the preparations for the trip. We’ll leave the first week of June. In the meantime, make sure you focus on your final exams.”
Lucas’ exit from the office was stumbling, clumsy, and full of babbling thanks. It wasn’t until he reached the bottom of the stairs that he realized what he had just been offered. If he was serious about history, then this was truly the opportunity of a lifetime.
…and he would get to spend the entire summer with the Professor.
It really didn’t get much better than that.
Lucas practically floated through the rest of the semester and, coincidentally, the rest of the school year. He couldn’t stop thinking about what was going to come as soon as the year ended. Ever since the Professor told him about it, he couldn’t get it out of his head. An actual archaeological dig in another country. An excavation of a real site. And spending his summer hanging out with his favorite teacher.
…it was weird, but he really didn’t think so much of Leighton as a teacher anymore. More like a mentor. Almost a friend, but not quite. There was still a wall there, as there should be a wall between student and teacher. But Lucas couldn’t help but feeling like he was starting to poke holes in that wall. It would be very bizarre someday when he had graduated and became the Professor’s colleague, instead of his student. He was fairly sure he would never be able to alter his thinking like that.
Still, he walked on the clouds for the next two months, even going so far as to completely forget about his own birthday, much to Clark’s annoyance (“For god’s sake, you’re nineteen now. Go find a girl and get laid to celebrate. And—HEY, PUT THE CHAIR DOWN! I was just kidding…”) Not even having to go through a few god-awful immunizations (one of which actually landed him sick in bed for a day) could bring his mood down.
It was just after one of those immunizations that he found himself once again on the couch in the Professor’s office, working on a schedule for the first semester of the following school year. As Leighton was now Lucas’ advisor, it was one of those little pesky matters that had to be taken care of.
In spite of the warmer weather they’d been having, which was letting most people get away with jeans or shorts and T-shirts, Lucas was practically swimming in an enormous blue sweatshirt and light brown pajama pants. He looked ridiculous, unless one looked at his face and realized that he was not well.
“Are you sure you’re all right?” Leighton asked for the third time since they had started this meeting. It was taking a bit longer, since Lucas was now a semester behind on the major, and they were trying to figure out the best way to work everything in and have him finish up in the next three years. But it was more Leighton suggesting things and Lucas curling up on the couch and agreeing to everything the man said because thinking was just not worth the effort.
“F-fine…” Lucas mumbled. Why was it so blasted cold in here?
Uh-oh, that was the Teacher Voice. And it meant that Super Happy Fun Pretend Nothing Is Wrong Time was over. Leighton meant business now, and it was with some nervousness (and far more effort than it should have really taken) that Lucas raised his head and looked directly at his teacher. “Y-yes?”
“Get over here. Let’s finish this so you can go back to bed. I have been in your position before, and I know exactly how awful it feels,” he gestured towards the chair on the other side of the desk, giving the student a look that permitted no arguments. “So upon the conclusion of this meeting, you will return to your room and you will go to bed and you will sleep for a minimum of six hours. Are we clear on this matter, my boy?”
“…crystal clear, sir,” Lucas mumbled, hauling himself off the sofa and quickly plopping into the indicated chair before his knees could decide that keeping him upright was not on their list of things to do that day. He kept his hood up, and his hands pulled up into his sleeves; mentally, he found himself quoting a comic he had read somewhere. Nothing can penetrate the Hood of Solitude…
“All right, my boy. So these are the classes you’ll need to take…”
I am invincible…
Fortunately, the illness passed, and the Professor’s parting suggestion of sleeping until a week past Thursday proved to be remarkably helpful. And before he knew it, the end of the semester had arrived, bringing with it those glorious little things known as Final Exams.
In spite of his exhilaration at the prospect of what lay just beyond the Week from Hell, Lucas finally had to force himself to come back down to earth and focus on his studies. There had been no question about things: school was to be his priority, the Professor had said. So Lucas needed to make sure things stayed where they were academically, not just to keep himself on the roster for this trip or for other reasons that he had not yet disclosed to the Professor.
He really did not want to let the man down.
But finally, it was over. He had done well in all of his classes, through his Algebra grade left a teensy bit to be desired. But he managed a low A in that class, and nailed all of his other classes. In short, despite how exhausted he was right now, he had succeeded in having almost a model first year of college, which was a great relief in more ways than one.
And now he could finally turn his attention to what was up next!
Lucas packed carefully according to the Professor’s instructions, and got the rest of his things loaded up to send home with his parents, who were being surprisingly supportive about the whole thing. He wasn’t going home. Instead, they were simply going to leave from the campus and head straight to the airport from there.
When he finally heard those magic words, “Are you ready to go?” Lucas wanted to sing.