Fandom: Professor Layton
Word Count: 3,837
Disclaimer: I do not own Layton or his Top Hat of Awesome.
Summary: First chapter can be found here. The next morning, Layton calls for some help, and learns more about the mystery surrounding Luke's appearance.
Leaving a very confused Luke in the care of a very confused Flora, Professor Layton went to make a quick phone call to an old friend. All things considered, this was a proper course of action to take. Unfortunately, it was late, and judging by the man’s brusque, gravelly tone when he answered, the call had woken him up. “Chelmey here.”
“Inspector, I apologize for calling so late.”
He didn’t even need to identify himself. “Layton. Do you know what time it is?”
“I do, but there is something I must discuss with you,” Layton went on in a rush. Regardless of the situation or circumstances, the police should be informed. “You remember Luke, my apprentice?”
“The boy? Yes…” Chelmey’s last word broke off into a yawn. “He left, didn’t he? What of him?”
“Well, Inspector, he’s here right now.”
“…since you’re calling me, I’m betting this isn’t just a visit.”
“No,” Layton glanced back towards the door that led to the office, where Flora and Luke were. “It seems that he knocked on the door, and then lost consciousness. When Flora opened the door, he fell right past her. Gave her quite a scare.”
Chelmey seemed to be waking up a bit now. “At the risk of stating the obvious, that’s highly unusual.”
“There’s something even more unusual about it,” Layton went on. He pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger; he was getting a bit of a headache. “After Luke woke up, not only could he not tell us how he had gotten here, he couldn’t tell us his name.”
“…you cannot possibly be serious, Layton.”
“I am completely serious, sir,” Layton said. He glanced back towards the door again, then lowered his voice as he continued. “Whether or not that is true remains to be seen. I have not spoken with him much yet, and goodness knows I do not wish to accuse him of lying. But it is all very peculiar.”
“Do you want me to come by now?” Chelmey asked. The background noise seemed to be shifting, indicating that the man was moving around more now. “I’d need a few minutes.”
“I think it would be all right if you waited until tomorrow, Inspector,” Layton sighed. “But given the circumstances, I felt I should alert someone in law enforcement immediately, and after several cases, I just happen to know your phone number by heart.”
“I’ll be sure to have it changed, then,” Chelmey replied. He sounded both amused at the fact that the Professor knew his number, and slightly relieved that he wasn’t going to have to go traipsing out in the middle of the night in the rain. “I’ll come by in the morning after I check in at the office. Where was the boy living? I’ll put in a wire, see if I can get some information.”
“His parents relocated to New York City in America,” Layton said. He rattled off the address, and heard the faint scratching of a pen that indicated the necessary information was being taken down faithfully.
“Thank you,” the Inspector said. “If he’s been reported missing, there should have been some sort of investigation done. Might be the answers you’re looking for. As to whether or not he actually forgot anything, I’ll be the judge of that.” Chelmey was practically bristling over the phone.
“I do appreciate this.”
“It’s my job. Now if it’s fine by you, I’d like to go back to bed.”
“Thank you again, Inspector. We’ll expect you tomorrow.”
An exchange of goodnights, and the conversation came to an end. As Layton hung up the phone, he couldn’t help but breathe a small sigh of relief. At the very least, he had some help in the matter.
The rest of the night ended up passing in something of a fog for Layton, both because he was trying to figure out what in the world was going on, and because the more he tried to piece the odd puzzle together (though it had not taken him terribly long to realize that he was missing far too many pieces), the worse his headache became.
It also did not help matters that this came at the end of a long day, and he was already tired to begin with. It took him a bit of time to get Luke fixed up with some dry clothes; the perpetual bachelor, Layton was again thankful that he was no slouch at domestic tasks like, say, doing a very quick sewing job to adjust adult-sized pants for a fifteen-year-old.
By the time he got Luke settled into what had once been his bedroom and was now the guest room, and sent a worried Flora to bed in her own room, he was flat-out exhausted. And he had learned a few things that helped to keep sleep at bay for a while longer as he pondered over them.
Further conversation with Luke seemed to drive home the truth of Luke’s question: he truly did not seem to know who he was, what his name was, where he was, or more importantly, how he had come to land in a heap across their doorstep. And no amount of questioning, prodding, or cajoling could bring about any indication of anything different.
But one thing was for certain, as far as Layton was concerned: he did not believe the boy was lying.
Oh, the thought had crossed his mind. But he knew Luke very well. And while he was willing to accept that the young man here was not exactly the same young man he had watched get on that boat nearly so many months before, there were certain base facts and habits that he was quite sure would not have changed in that short of time.
For one, Luke was not that great of an actor. Realistically speaking, Layton couldn’t even think of any actors to his knowledge who could manage to fake that particular look. The hollow eyes that lacked any light or life, the blank expression, even the tone of voice…
Talking with the young man had left him convinced that Luke was telling the truth.
Which answered no questions, really, but brought up dozens more.
Still, he was awake and talking and even moving around a bit, so he did not seem to be in any ill health or suffering from any injuries, and that was a good sign. But Layton preferred to err towards the side of caution when the situation allowed for it, and so, first thing in the morning, he summoned the doctor to make sure. It would probably be a while before Chelmey got there; he had said he would go to his office before coming by.
Doctor Kelly was a man Layton had known for a good many years, as a friend and a physician. He was a friendly man, older and a bit on the rotund side, with white hair and spectacles that he had a habit of fidgeting with when he got nervous or excited. He was at the house promptly at half past eight, bag in hand and familiar smile in place. “Ah, Professor, good morning,” he said as Layton ushered him in. “I was a bit surprised to get your call this morning.”
“I appreciate you coming on such short notice,” Layton closed the door. “I know I didn’t go into too much detail over the phone, but here’s the long and short of it.” Very quickly, but without leaving out any of the important details, he filled the doctor in on the events of the previous evening, up to and including the fact that Luke seemed to remember nothing of himself.
“I see…” Doctor Kelly said as Layton’s narrative drew to a close. His smile had quickly faded into a more somber expression as the seriousness of the situation became clear to him. “Very peculiar.”
“As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m very concerned,” Layton said. “While Luke appears to be more or less healthy, I am certainly not a doctor, and would like an expert’s opinion.”
“Which is why you called me.”
“Exactly,” the Professor nodded. “Please, just make sure he really is all right, at least physically. And if there is anything that seems out of place, be it injuries or what have you, please make a note and let me know. Inspector Chelmey is going to be stopping by sometime this morning. Any information we can give him would surely be helpful.”
“I understand,” the doctor nodded. “Where is the young man?”
Layton led him to the study, where Luke was sitting on the couch with Flora beside him. For a lack of anything else to wear, he was back in the same clothes he had arrived in the night before; at least now they were dry. After he was done with the doctor and the inspector, the Professor had every intention of taking Luke out to find some proper clothes.
“Luke, this is Doctor Kelly,” Layton said.
Though he did not appear to remember anything of himself, the manners that Layton had worked to instill in Luke seemed to be perfectly intact. He quickly rose and offered a polite handshake to the doctor. “I’m pleased to meet you.”
“Likewise, my boy,” Kelly said cheerily, returning the handshake with gusto. “We’re just going to make sure that you’re in good health.” He glanced towards Flora and Layton.
Layton got it. “We’ll leave you to it, then.” He put a hand on Flora’s arm. “Come along.”
The doctor was still with Luke a short time later when there was another knock at the door. Flora had been pacing around and wringing her hands, and seemed to welcome the interruption. She jumped up and, in a complete abandonment of her usual ladylike behavior, all but sprinted out towards the front hall to answer the call.
Layton followed with a bit more decorum. He already knew who was out there, and was proven right when he arrived to see Flora ushering Inspector Chelmey inside and closing the door. He was carrying a leather-bound portfolio, which Layton took as an indication that the man had some sort of information on the case. Perhaps he had been able to get ahold of law enforcement overseas.
After greetings had been exchanged, he took a moment to ask Flora if she would go upstairs. She obeyed, though she admittedly did not look terribly happy about being left out of the proceedings, and Layton was quite sure that he was in for quite the grilling after the two men had taken their leave.
After she had gone, he led Chelmey to the kitchen, and when an offer of tea was politely refused, the two men took a seat at the table to discuss business. “I am under the impression that you have some information for me, Inspector.”
“I do,” Chelmey produced the portfolio and opened it as he continued. “I was able to get in contact with the police in New York, and I was right. They do have some information on your young man.”
Chelmey skimmed over the pad of paper inside, covered in handwritten notes, for a moment before he began. “Luke Triton, resident of New York City, disappeared a week after his fifteenth birthday. He’s been missing for three months.” He traced his pen down the page to mark his place as he went over everything he had. “He was reported missing by his mother. After he went to bed one night, she heard a noise in his room. She went in, and found his bed empty and the window open. Upon further inspection, she found a ransom note.”
Something inside Layton turned cold. “A ransom note?”
Chelmey nodded. “Handwriting comparisons were done, and it was concluded that the note could not have been written by Luke or either of his parents. Police arriving at the scene noted signs of a struggle, including a broken jar on the floor. At that point, it became a kidnapping case rather than a runaway.”
“Why would it have been thought a runaway?” Layton asked.
“The sergeant I spoke with didn’t elaborate on why he would say that,” Chelmey admitted. “But he’s going to get in touch with the parents and put them in contact with me tomorrow. Maybe they’ll be able to shed more light on the case. In the meantime, he’s also going to notify them that Luke’s been found alive and well, if quite a long way from home.”
“I’m sure they’ll be quite glad to hear it.”
He closed the portfolio. “But nothing here really suggests how a fifteen year old boy vanishes from his bedroom in New York and reappears three months later on a friend’s doorstep in London.”
“Hopefully the doctor’s report will shed some light on this.”
As if the statement itself had somehow summoned the man, they heard the sound of a door opening, and Kelly’s voice calling, “Professor? A word, if you please.”
In short order, the three men (Inspector, Doctor, and Professor) were congregated at the foot of the staircase. “What have you found, Doctor?” Layton asked.
Doctor Kelly looked particularly somber as he removed his spectacles and slowly began to speak. “He does not seem to be physically ill in any way. But he is almost shockingly thin, and I’d be willing to wager that it’s been quite some time since he had a proper meal. Why that is, I cannot say. But also of note is the fact that while he was quite pleasant and polite, he was quite resistant to the idea of being touched or removing his shirt.”
Chelmey made a small ‘hmm’ noise at that.
“Perhaps he was just shy, which is not out of the question given his age. But having met this boy before, it does not seem to square with the impressions I had when I met him,” Kelly went on.
“I would have to agree,” Layton nodded, remembering the time he had taken Luke to the beach for the day. Luke and shy were two words that did not belong anywhere near each other.
“Furthermore, I did as you asked, Professor, and looked for anything out of the ordinary. And there were visible injuries. Cuts, scrapes, bruises, small burns, nothing that would be at all fatal or even serious. But they would be painful. And two things in particular stood out.”
“What were they?” Layton pressed.
“A few of the bruises,” Kelly explained, turning his spectacles over in his fingers. “One on his back that was very large, and almost looked to be in the shape of a man’s boot.”
Chelmey blanched at that, and Layton let out a startled, “My word…”
“And the other bruises were the ones I found on his wrists and ankles,” the doctor continued. “You probably didn’t notice them, Professor, given the late hour and the fact that he was wearing long sleeves and pants, but they are really quite clear, and quite severe.”
Now Chelmey cleared his throat. “It’s probably obvious, but what is your diagnosis for those?”
“To me, it looks like he was bound somehow,” Kelly said. “I could not say if it was tape, rope, or whatever else, but I would say his hands and legs were tied, probably tightly. And for them to be that dark, I would also be willing to wager that he struggled at least somewhat.” Again, his spectacles turned over in his fingers, and he dropped his gaze to study them. “Given the sum of the superficial injuries, it is my opinion that this young man was held against his will, and probably beaten or otherwise harmed by whoever it was that was holding him.”
“…that sounds like torture,” Layton said as an involuntary shudder ran down his spine.
“That could very well be one way to put it, Professor,” the doctor said solemnly. “While I do not claim to be a doctor of the mind, I also tried to ascertain the extent of his memory loss. He could recall basic facts, such as the capital of England, the queen’s name, the capital of America. But he could not tell me his name, his age, any details about his family.”
“He could not, or he would not,” Chelmey interjected.
“Inspector, I understand your position, but I do sincerely believe that Luke is not misleading us,“ the Professor said anxiously. “He is not acting like himself at all. Look at his eyes—there’s nothing in there, not like there used to be. And furthermore, I said that I was contacting the police. The Luke I know would not have let a joke go that far. Never.”
Layton looked like he wanted to say more, but he fell silent when the Inspector waved a hand. “Layton, you know I trust you and your judgment. But you’re also quite close to the boy, which could very well be clouding your judgment,” Chelmey pointed out. “I’ll decide for myself, and I’ll report what I find to headquarters and to the boys in New York. So if it’s all right, I’d like to have a word with the boy.”
Professor and doctor stood by the stairs and watched helplessly as the stubborn Inspector headed into the room for what was sure to be tantamount to an outright interrogation.
Luke glanced up as another person entered. It appeared that he had spent the few minutes after the doctor’s exit getting himself redressed and resituation, and he was sitting back on the sofa as the gruff-looking man came into the room. He quickly stood and extended a hand with a polite smile. “Hello. I’m pleased to meet you.”
The gesture admittedly surprised Chelmey a bit, as he had met the young man before, but then he remembered that this boy was supposedly without any memory of such things, and so he accepted the handshake. “Likewise. I’m Inspector Chelmey, with the London police.”
The boy’s face actually lit up. “You’re with the police? That’s wonderful!” Luke said, unwittingly throwing the seasoned officer off-balance. “Maybe you can help me, then! You see,” he looked down, “I’m lost. I don’t know where I am, and I don’t know where I’m supposed to be. Miss Flora and Mister Layton were kind enough to let me sleep here last night. They’re very nice people. And they said that my name is Luke.”
Chelmey swallowed hard. “You don’t remember anything at all?”
Luke shook his head, and Chelmey saw what Layton had been referring to: the hollow look in the boy’s eyes was positively unnerving. “I’m sorry, sir. But I can’t remember anything at all. Although…”
“Although what?” Chelmey said, suddenly suspicious.
To his surprise, Luke actually chuckled and rubbed at the back of his head; he looked sheepish. “This will probably sound a bit crazy, but I have this strange urge to tug on your face. It’s the silliest thing.”
The Inspector stood there for a moment, then nodded. “Luke, we will do everything in our power to help you. In fact, I should be getting in touch with your parents tomorrow.”
Luke’s jaw dropped. “M-my parents?” Just as quickly, his smile faded. “I can’t remember them at all…”
“It’s all right. We’ll get it taken care of, one way or another.” Chelmey quickly cleared this throat and shoved his hands in his pockets. “That’s all for now. Thank you.” And he quickly turned on his heel and left the room, shoulders drawing up almost all the way to his ears.
Before either of them could say anything or ask a single question, Chelmey sighed. “I owe you an apology, Layton. You were right. He’s not in there.”
Layton paused. “What convinced you?”
“Aside from the eyes?” the Inspector shook his head and actually chuckled. “It’s the most ridiculous thing, but he spoke of you. Said you were nice enough to let him stay here last night. And he actually called you ‘Mister’ Layton. Not Professor.” He sighed. “That kid would never have called you that.”
“…I told him what he could call me last night,” Layton mused, almost to himself. “He asked.”
“Well,” Chelmey righted himself and coughed. “I’d best be getting back to headquarters. This is quite an odd case, to be sure. Should be interesting to see what comes of it. Layton,” he gave the Professor a measuring look, “I’m going to leave him in your custody for now. I trust you to keep an eye on him. And I’ll be in contact. We’ll expect your full cooperation and assistance while we piece this together.”
“Of course,” Layton nodded, and saw the Inspector out.
“I’ll be taking my leave as well,” Doctor Kelly said, replacing his spectacles on his nose. “Please keep me informed if there are any new developments.” He glanced back towards the door. “That poor boy…I’ll help in any way I can.”
“Thank you, Doctor.” For the second time in as many minutes, Layton saw his company out.
No sooner had he closed the door did Flora appear. Her arms were crossed, her foot was tapping, and her expression was one that indicated she would not take no for an answer. “Tell me what’s going on!”