Fandom: Professor Layton
Word Count: 1,869
Disclaimer: I do not own Layton or his Top Hat of Awesome.
Summary: First chapter can be found here. It's time to go track down the criminals and put an end to this.
Doctor Kelly stared at Layton in shock. His eyes kept swinging back and forth between the finger pointed at him, and the spectacles nestled within a white handkerchief, safely clutched in Layton's palm. "Hershel, surely you must be joking!" the doctor said with a nervous laugh. "I would never..."
"I know you wouldn't," Layton said solemnly, lowering his arm to his side. "Which is why I'm asking you to tell me what happened. They must have used some sort of extortion against you, Doctor. Threatened you, perhaps. I can't say for sure, unless you tell me the truth."
Kelly visibly hesitated, then dropped down to sit on the couch. "I didn't want...Hershel, I swear to you..."
"Tell us the truth," Layton said, his tone softening.
After a moment, the doctor spoke. "I was approached by some men. There were four of them. They said they needed my assistance in procuring a runaway boy. When they told me who they were after, I knew who they were immediately, and I refused. Told them I would call the police. And one of them asked me about my granddaughter..." He closed his eyes. "Anita...she'll be four this winter." His eyes snapped open again and he looked entreatingly at Layton. "They threatened my granddaughter, Hershel. What was I to do? They could tell me exactly where to find her."
Layton nodded. He was truthfully rather upset (to say the least), but he had known the good doctor for many years. He had never known the man to be malicious, or any sort of a liar. If this was what he said happened, then Layton believed him, and despite his own worry over his own children, he could not bring himself to find any sort of fault with Kelly's motives. Besides, ultimately the reason didn't matter. They could deal with all of this once the children were safe and the responsible parties were in custody. Until that happened, everything else was moot.
"They spoke in front of me. I suspect they didn't think I was listening," Kelly went on.
Now Chelmey spoke up, aggressive and aggravated. "What did they say? By god, you tell us everything you know or I'll have you down to the station in handcuffs, and good luck explaining that to your granddaughter!" He was waving a fist in the air by the time he had finished speaking, and Layton had to make a gesture to calm the inspector down.
"One of them asked about the girl. I presume that they meant Miss Flora. There was talk of ransom. Two children instead of one means two ransoms instead of one. More money. That's what they're after. Money. Exchanging children's lives for money..." Kelly shook his head. "One of them mentioned an abandoned building. Said something about the old district, and shoes."
"One of the empty shops in the old district used to be a cobbler's shop," Layton supplied. "I went there a few times in my youth, before the proprietor retired and closed the shop. That was around the time the whole district fell into disrepair, and it was never reopened. It would be an excellent place to hide out with two children. Not many people go there these days."
"Are you certain that this what they said?" Chelmey demanded.
The doctor looked outright miserable. "I swear to you. Their plan is brilliant, but they don't strike me as the brightest individuals on the planet." He glanced at Layton. "I don't think they have intention of harming the children, at least not yet. One of them mentioned possible proof of life. Again, Hershel. The plan itself was incredible, but I wonder how much of their success was just them getting extremely lucky as they stumbled along."
"Perhaps a case of one man as the brain, and the rest as the muscle?" Layton mused. His head was still pounding, but he was encouraged by the development. At the moment, at least, the children were conceivably still alive. That meant there was time.
By this point Chelmey was barking orders to some of the investigating officers to go rally back-up. "We're going now. They won't be expecting us. Hit 'em while they're not looking."
Layton immediately grabbed for his hat and coat. "I'll be accompanying you, Inspector."
Doctor Kelly was on his feet as well. "As will I."
Chelmey opened his mouth, probably to object, but closed it again. He knew well enough how stubborn Layton could be, particularly when those kids were involved. His activity regarding Luke's mysterious disappearance and reappearance had made that much clear. And having a doctor there could be extremely useful, although he would have to haul the man in for questioning as soon as it was over. He informed the doctor of such.
Kelly looked down. "I understand. I am sorry, Inspector. Hershel."
Layton nodded. "Let's go find the children."
As the door closed again, Luke squeezed his eyes shut and held his breath in an attempt to hold the tears back. It had the opposite effect, as it made his ribs flare up painfully, and he gasped and sputtered as the warm trails rain down his cheeks.
It hurt so damn much. His stomach and chest were searing with pain. He wondered if his ribs were broken. A swift kick with a heavy boot was definitely capable of such an injury, he was sure.
He didn't know who that man was. He just knew that it was someone who apparently knew him, and who was not pleased. He suspected that it was one of the men who had brought him here in the first place, if the vague comments he had made were any indication. If he could just remember something, anything...!
Luke turned his head. Flora was sitting on the floor, her back pressed against the wall, hands behind her; they hadn't touched her at all, a fact for which he was extremely grateful. Her eyes were wide and brimming with her own tears; she looked horribly pale, and absolutely terrified. She had been forced to watch as the man had attacked him.
Somehow, that made Luke more angry than anything else. Flora hadn't done anything wrong. She couldn't possibly have anything to do with this. Why had they dragged her along, forced her through this? Even Luke himself was startled at the depths of his protective instincts towards a girl he had only consciously known for a short time, but felt as though he had known for far longer.
Furious and in pain and at a loss, Luke tried to think. Finally, he managed to wriggle himself into a sitting position, an effort that cost him dearly. Were his ribs bruised or outright broken? It didn't matter. They had to do something. It took a bit of time, but he managed to scoot over next to Flora. "F-Flora, listen..." he gasped. "We need to get loose." That was as far as he got before the pain erupted again and his breath was lost to pained panting.
Flora glanced around, and he could almost hear the gears turning between her ears. She might have been scared, and she might have been crying, but she hadn't been living under the same roof as Professor Layton for all this time without learning a thing or six about critical thinking.
And finally, she managed a tremulous smile. "I have an idea," she whispered.
There was a surprisingly large number of police officers in attendance for this event. Still, it wasn't every day that there was a raid on an abandoned building to rescue two kidnapped children from the Bad Guys, and many of the officers were probably excited to be a part of it, even if the extent of being a part of it for some of them consisted of sitting outside looking menacing.
Provided all went well, of course. They had reason to suspect that the men involved were armed to some degree or another. The safety of Luke and Flora, the two victims, was the primary objective. Apprehending the suspects (safely or injured) was secondary. The rest consisted of details.
As they drew in, quietly and carefully, Layton stayed as close to the front as he could. Doctor Kelly had offered a painkiller, which was doing a splendid job of holding the headache at bay (although the doctor had warned that it would only help for a while, and the real treatment was to go home, sleep it off, and call him in the morning). He understood the need for stealth and taking the time for proper preparations, but even Layton's patience (which bordered on the legendary) was strained.
Finally, the signal was given, and the first wave, armed and clad in protective gear, because to creep into the building. They apprehended one man, presumably a lookout. He had fallen asleep in a chair just inside the store; the police were able to grab him and get him outside before he could raise any sort of alert to his fellow kidnappers.
They weren't so lucky with the second man they encountered. He came around a corner, saw the assembled officers, threw something at them, let out a yell, and turned tail and ran towards the back stairs. As stealth was now more or less shot to pieces, they charged and grabbed the man. Now to find the children...
That was when things went horribly, horribly wrong.
AN: Ahaha…short chapter is short? I debated over whether or not to end it there or to keep going, but I wanted to update the fic, and hey, EVERYBODY LOVES CLIFFHANGERS, AMIRITE? /shot
Anyway, next chapter shouldn't be too long in coming, since it was one of the two scenes that sparked this fic in the first place, and as such has been extremely clear in my head for an extremely long time. I hope you'll stick around, since it's the big climax and promises to be…well, I won't say anything more.
Thanks for reading, all! Much love!