Title: All So Much Together
Author's Note: I'm alive. And there was much rejoicing /bricked
Fandom: Layton Brothers: Mystery Room: Constable Lucy Baker has just started a new job in the Mystery Room at Scotland Yard, where the unsolvable crimes get solved via a glorified diorama program. Her new superior officer is Inspector Alfendi Layton, a man with a shady past and a severe personality disorder. And I do mean severe. Seriously. Run.
Taunt: My fandom doesn't actually feature any brothers. Go figure.
"We are all so much together, but we are all dying of loneliness."
- Albert Schweitzer
It wasn't supposed to go like this. It really wasn't.
Of course, there had been risks involved in the assignment from the very beginning, but that did not change Alfendi's feelings on the matter. Namely, that the whole thing was not supposed to turn out the way it had. And given his usual pragmatism, this was quite an unusual state of affairs, indeed.
Such were the thoughts chasing themselves in little tiny circles around his mind as he sat in the hospital waiting room, awaiting word. It was a horrible state of affairs, and it had all started a mere two weeks prior with a summons from the Commissioner.
"You wanted to see us, sir?" Alfendi led the way into the office, Lucy right on his heels.
The diminutive Commissioner waved them both into the office. "Yes, please, both of you have a seat." He waited as they obeyed, taking seats across the desk from their superior, and then regarded them with a somber expression. "I'm afraid this has more to do with you, Constable Baker, but I feel that as your immediate superior, Inspector Layton should be present for this conversation."
"Me? Wat?" Lucy looked startled.
Commissioner Barton glanced at Alfendi before focusing completely on Lucy. "Lucy, you keep up with the news and other departments in the Yard, correct?" She nodded. "Good. Then I'm sure you're aware of the recent series of attacks on young women in the city."
Lucy nodded again. There had been well over a dozen attacks and muggings of young women in public parks and similar areas in the last two months. The victims had ranged in age from late teens to mid-twenties, all very pretty, and the violence of the attacks had escalated with each subsequent incident. The earliest victims suffered little more than scrapes and bruises, while the most recent victim had landed in the hospital with a mild concussion and a cracked rib from the blows she had received. The escalation was only one reason why police and public were so frantic – at this rate, there was no doubt that sooner or later it would explode from assault and battery to murder.
Barton's expression was grim. "Evidence has been scarce in all the attacks, and the public is growing angry. We need to do something. And that's where you come in, Lucy. That's where I would like to ask you for your help, on behalf of the force."
In hindsight, it was ridiculous that Alfendi had even let the conversation continue after that. He had known what was coming – he had seen it coming. But no, he had just sat there like a fool and let Commissioner Barton make that stupid request of Lucy, painting it up for her like some kind of heroics. He should go find that old man and show him what was what—
Alfendi bit the inside of his cheek and forced his angry half – Potty Prof, Lucy called it – back down; for once, the other went…perhaps not willingly, but it went. It would do no good to go on a rampage in a hospital waiting room, nor would it help any to take his frustrations out on his boss. He knew perfectly well that the Commissioner would be beside himself over the way things had turned out.
Inside the back of his mind, his other half raged a bit, but did not attempt to retake control. Interpreting this as a sign of just how worried that side was about Lucy, he ignored the ranting and resumed his silent vigil of the doors leading into the treatment wards.
"The perpetrator of these attacks seems to favor attractive young women, primarily in their early twenties. This is a demographic we have a shortage of here at the Yard," Barton said. He favored her with a kindly smile. "Please do not take this the wrong way or think me inappropriate, but you are one of the few that fits that profile, Constable Baker."
In spite of the seriousness of the discussion, she blushed at the compliment. "Thank you, sir."
His smile quickly faded. "So what I am asking of you, Lucy, is if you would be willing to consider helping the yard with a sting operation. Call it undercover, if you like—"
"Absolutely not," Alfendi snarled.
"Prof—" Lucy said, but she was cut off.
"No. Absolutely not. Lucy, you will not put yourself in danger." There was no question to which side of Inspector Layton they were currently addressing. "I am your superior officer and I forbid it."
"That is why I requested your presence as well," Barton said calmly. "I wish to know your concerns on the matter so that we may hopefully put them to rest. Ultimately, however, the decision falls to Lucy, and not to either of us, as she is the one who could potentially have to face the assailant."
This time, Barton cut Alfendi off, returning his attention to Lucy. "I will be perfectly honest with you, Lucy. There is no guarantee that this endeavor will be successful. If the assailant does strike…while we will equip you with protective equipment, I cannot promise one hundred percent that you will not be hurt, though we will have officers nearby to jump in in the event of trouble." He clasped his hands on the desk in front of him. "I cannot force you to do this, nor will I. If you refuse, I will think no less of you. If you need to think on it, please do so and report back to me tomorrow."
"I'll do it."
Both the Commissioner and the Inspector stared at her, surprised.
Lucy looked back at them evenly. "I mean…I can't let 'im get away with it, can I?" She quickly turned her full attention to her mentor, whose surprise had already turned to fury. "Prof—"
Alfendi slammed one hand down on the desk hard enough that the pencil holder actually lifted off the desk ever so slightly from the force of it. "Lucy, I—" He met her gaze squarely for a moment. Something he saw there must have told him something, because he stood upright and chuckled before he growled at her, "Fine, then. Do as you like. But don't expect any help from me, Constable Baker."
With that, he turned and stormed out of the office in an angry swirl of white lab coat.
Well, Alfendi decided, that was quite possibly the stupidest thing he had ever done.
Potty Prof had held in control for quite some time, his rage burning hot and steady. By the time he had managed to wrest control back from his angry half and let reason reassert itself, Lucy had already been briefed on her new assignment, equipped, and sent out in search of the assailant that had already harmed eight other women.
Alone in the Mystery Room, Alfendi had tried to decide on the best course of action. Call the Commissioner and ask where Lucy was? He genuinely wasn't sure if the older man would tell him, given that Lucy was supposed to be on a sting. Go out looking for her? Same problem – what would he do if he found her, anyway? Just sit and wait? He would go mad.
It was while he was sitting there, debating the problem with himself that he had gotten the phone call.
Against all odds, and against all expectations (despite what popular fiction would have people believe, stings and stake-outs and undercover operations rarely yielded significant results, so to have this happen was almost beyond belief), Lucy had found the perpetrator after a mere two hours of wandering around outside in the park at night. Unfortunately, he had also found her, and it turned out that he was a great deal bigger than her.
He had gotten the story later from an officer who had been amongst those lying in wait for the man to strike, and who had come running when Lucy had found herself engaged in a struggle with the perp.
The man was easily six feet tall with broad shoulders, and towered over Lucy's tiny frame. Still, Lucy was no pushover, and she fought back with all her strength, screaming for help as she pushed back. Her fellow officers, loitering in the area for just this reason, heard the call and came running to her aide, with every intention of helping her and finally collaring the bad guy.
When the perp saw the police running towards him, he tried to shove Lucy aside and make good his escape. Lucy was forced to change tactics as well, and grab at him to try and hold him, to keep him from leaving before the others could get there. And that was when everything went pear-shaped. The others were close to her, but not close enough to stop what happened. And it happened very quickly.
Realizing that the tiny spitfire of a woman he had meant to attack was now going to be his downfall, the man snarled out a curse, whipped around, and hit Lucy in the stomach with one sharp, hard blow. As she rocked back, her eyes wide, he grabbed her by the neck…
And slammed her backwards, head first, to the paving stones at his feet with all of his considerable strength. He followed her to the ground, now with both hands wrapped tightly around her slender neck and squeezing tightly in his anger at having been bested by this petite woman, who should have been such an easy mark.
That was as far as he got before he was descended upon by a multitude of Scotland Yard officers, all furious at seeing what he had just done to one of their own. Others rushed to Lucy's side, checking her pulse and calling her name in terror.
Lucy did not move, and she did respond.
Now here he was, sitting in the waiting room, lingering for news that seemed to be taking its sweet time in coming. Lucy had been rushed here by ambulance from the scene when no one had been able to revive her, and with a potential head injury they had been afraid to move her.
The officer Alfendi had spoken to had offered up one further piece of information: the assailant was already safely cooling his heels in a cell at Scotland Yard, awaiting questioning and a nice list of charges. They were hoping that they would be able to get at least one of the other victims to identify him as the one who had attacked them.
Even if they couldn't, the attack on Lucy would do wonders for sending him down for a long time. Despite the man's (reportedly) loud, angry, and frequently colorful protests of innocence, no defense attorney was going to be able to argue against the fact that he had assaulted and attempted to strangle a police constable in full view of a whole platoon of other officers and detectives.
It was, at that moment, a cold comfort to that constable's superior officer. Alfendi felt that it was probably best they did not let him near the man, or else he might actually become the murderer everyone had so long believed he actually was.
The doors swung open, and a petite, dark-haired woman in slacks and a white lab coat stepped out, a clipboard in her hand. "Is there someone here for a Lucy Baker?"
Alfendi was on his feet immediately and holding out a hand. "Yes. Yes, I am. I'm her boss – her superior officer on the force. Inspector Layton." Technically not family, but doctors were usually willing to speak with one police officer regarding the condition of another police officer, especially if the waiting officer was a partner or a superior. And if a police officer was in the hospital to begin with, it was probably related to a case anyway.
Sure enough, she gave him a firm handshake in return. "Inspector, I'm Doctor Winston." She led him past the doors, back into the hallway where it was a bit quieter and felt more private. Few people – most of them either in scrubs or lab coats, all wearing name badges – passed them. "Lucy will be fine. None of her injuries are life threatening, and they'll all heal with time and rest."
Alfendi couldn't keep the sigh of relief from escaping him. "Can you tell me the nature of her injuries?"
She flipped a page on her clipboard. "She has one cracked rib. I was told that she was struck, and it is consistent with a blow to her side. That will be extremely painful, but it will heal with time and rest. Time and rest will also heal the significant bruising. The worst of the bruises are on her neck, but there are some colorful ones on her back as well. Our primary concern is the blow to the head. She has a concussion, though not as severe as it could have been. There's no cracking or fracturing of the skull. She was lucky, but luck doesn't negate recovery time."
In spite of everything else that was going on and his overwhelming concern for Lucy, Alfendi couldn't keep himself from greatly liking Doctor Winston and her no-nonsense attitude. "So she'll be fine eventually? No lasting damage?"
The doctor smiled. "There's always a chance. That having been said, complications are very unlikely, though not completely out of the question. We'll just want to keep an eye on things, especially when a head injury is involved. But barring anything along those lines, there's no reason for her not to make a full recovery with time." She tucked her clipboard back under her arm. "The concussion is just severe enough that we would prefer to keep her here overnight for observation. It's highly doubtful that anything will happen. It's more of a precaution than anything else."
Alfendi nodded. "Is it possible for me to see her?"
"You won't be able to stay for long, but it shouldn't hurt her to have a visitor for a little while. And I imagine it will put your mind at ease to see for yourself. I'll show you to her room," Doctor Winston said, gesturing for him to walk beside her.
As they walked – his longer, slower stride matching almost perfectly with her shorter, brisker pace – she outlined a few things for him. "I will warn you that she is not entirely coherent at the moment. The bulk of that is the concussion. We were unable to give her much for pain treatment for the ribs due to the head injury – the best we could really do was some local anesthesia to try and numb the area, but she is still in some pain. We would like to keep her as calm and still as possible. This is Lucy's room."
She stopped outside the indicated door and turned to face him. "Speak slowly. Use small words as much as you can. Don't get frustrated if she can't understand you or follow what you're saying on the first go. And again, try to keep her calm and still – don't get her excited or worked up if you can avoid it. If you need any assistance, press the red button beside the bed, and a nurse will come."
"Thank you again, Doctor," Alfendi said with all sincerity. Normally his Potty half would be bristling at being 'talked down to,' with all those instructions about how to talk to Lucy. But oddly enough, the angry side of his personality was merely a silent presence in his mind, saying nothing. He briefly wondered if his other self also liked the doctor, in spite of himself.
As the doctor took her leave, Alfendi slid the door open and slipped into the room. The lights inside were dim; it took just a moment for his eyes to adjust to the lower levels of light. He took a breath, and finally, he crossed the room to Lucy's bedside and took a good look at her.
It was so strange, to see the brash and seemingly indomitable Lucy Baker looking so small and quiet in the bed; her personality made her seem bigger than she really was, somehow. She was wearing pale blue hospital pajamas, and had a swath of white bedding wrapped around her. Her red hair was a stark contrast against the white pillow. And her eyes were wide and glazed, and looking at him in wonder. He was actually stunned at how her face lit up when he walked in.
"Prof…" she said softly, sounding far happier than anyone in a hospital bed with those injuries should ever sound, "…you're here…" She actually smiled at him. He had refused to be there at the moment when she needed him most, and here she was, looking like his stroll into her hospital room was the best thing she could have hoped for.
Alfendi chose not to examine that thought too closely. He suspected that if he did, it would hurt, and he was already exhausted. Instead, he pulled up a chair and sat down beside the bed. "How do you feel?"
"Not very good," she said, that goofy smile still on her face. Alfendi recalled what the doctor had said about not being able to give her much for medication, and found himself questioning it in light of that facial expression. Was 'local anesthesia' code for something else he wasn't aware of? "But I got 'im!"
He couldn't stop the chuckle that escaped him at that. "Yes, you certainly did."
Now she frowned. "I though' you wasn' comin'…" She looked so confused and lost.
He couldn't stop himself from reaching out and touching her hand. "I was wrong."
Lucy looked like she was going to say something to that, but a knock on the door interrupted her. A second later, the door slid open and a familiar blonde head popped in.
"Hilda?" Alfendi was genuinely surprised. "What are you doing here?"
The Interpol agent stepped into the room and guided the door closed behind her. "I was at the Yard, and Commissioner Barton told me that Lucy had been hurt. I came to see that she was all right."
"All right," Alfendi drawled after a moment, "but how did you find out which room?"
"I am an officer of the law and I am here to visit an injured colleague. And I may have intimidated one of the nurses into bringing me here. Never underestimate a woman on a mission," Hilda said breezily as she passed him. She went immediately to the other side of the bed and took Lucy's other hand carefully in her own. "Lucy, you reckless girl."
"I got the baddie," Lucy said proudly. It was like she didn't even realize she was repeating herself.
"You did," Hilda agreed. "The Commissioner told me everything he knew about it. Apparently you might be up for a commendation for your part in catching that bas—in catching him," she censored herself quickly. She patted Lucy's hand, and the constable's eyelids drooped closed as she smiled. "Also, Lucy, the Commissioner wanted me to ask you a question – it's the other reason I'm here, really. He pulled up your file looking for next of kin to notify, and you left it blank. Who should we contact for you?"
Hilda and Alfendi locked gazes over Lucy's bed. They both frowned. "No one?"
"There's nobody t'call. Jus' me," Lucy slurred.
Hilda's frown grew more pronounced. "What about your parents? Your mother? Father? Siblings?"
"Died," Lucy drawled. Her eyes were still closed. Something about the way she was speaking gave the indication that she did not really realize she was talking. Given the fact that she had a head injury, it was entirely possible that the filter between her brain and her mouth had been shattered into pieces. "Accident. I was 'leven. Only child."
"Grandparents?" Alfendi asked.
"Gramma took care o' me after th'accident," Lucy said. "But she died too. Was fourteen." She yawned then. "Stayed wit'a friend until we gradu…gru…" She frowned as she struggled to remember the word.
"Graduated?" Alfendi supplied.
"Yeah, that," Lucy beamed at finally having the right word. "Her parents le' me stay. They were really nice t'me. Took care o' me. After we graduated," she enunciated each syllable with exaggerated care, "I went to th'academy. Worked hard, paid m'way through. Got m'job in with th'Prof right aft'r."
To the absolute bewilderment of both Alfendi and Hilda, Lucy's face suddenly screwed up, and she started to cry. "A-am I gonna lose m'job over this? I won' get hurt again, I promise. I love my job, in the Myst'ry Room with th' Prof and ev'ryone. Please don' fire me…" She doubled over in her bed, clutching her side in pain; crying must have set off her injured ribs.
Hilda was carefully wrapped around Lucy in a heartbeat. "Oh, Lucy, of course not!" she shushed her. "Lose your job? There's already talk of giving you an award for what you did! The Commissioner is so worried about you, everyone was so frightened…" she kept talking, whispering reassurances for several minutes as Lucy calmed and settled, and Hilda straightened the bedding around her.
Alfendi watched it all, feeling completely useless. Angry suspects he could handle. Murderers? Fine. Blackmailers, thieves, robbers? Bring it on. His partner, hurt and crying in a hospital bed? He was utterly frozen. It was the first time in quite some time that he had been grateful for Hilda's presence. She seemed to have a better grasp on what to do to calm Lucy. But what Lucy had said before she had started to cry had struck him, and he kept thinking over it.
He was startled out of those thoughts by Hilda touching his shoulder. "She's asleep," the agent whispered. "We should let her rest. And I need to call the Commissioner…" She looked down, and he knew she was also remembering what Lucy had told them about her family. He followed her out the door, and they walked together in silence, down the hall and out of the hospital.
What a night.
Alfendi had every intention of being at the hospital the next day before Lucy was discharged, to make certain she got home safely, but a case landed on the Mystery Room's doorstep involving two missing children, and he could not (nor would he) leave something that important; a part of him was well aware that part of his rationale in his case was also that Lucy would be devastated if something happened to children on their watch. He flung himself into the case, telling himself he would check on Lucy later.
He solved the case in record time. A phone call to the hospital told him that Lucy had left quite some time ago. After she had been checked out and given instructions, a cab had come to take her home. He considered it for a while, then thought perhaps he should go check on her.
…and then he realized that he had no idea where she lived. Not a clue.
The more he thought about it, Alfendi was realizing that while he thought he knew Lucy well, and they had become surprisingly close over the course of their partnership in the Mystery Room, there was a lot about her that he knew nothing of. Her half-coherent admission of the previous evening that she was, for all intents and purposes, alone in the world had been a surprise. Somehow, someone of Lucy's warmth had always evoked images of a large, noisy family full of effusive hugs and love. To learn that the opposite was true was…
It was sad.
Telling himself that this was not a misuse of office files, as he was doing it out of concern for his injured partner, Alfendi looked up Lucy's address. He did recognize the street name. It was a decent enough area, relatively safe. That put his mind at ease somewhat. Braving the world outside his office, he hailed a cab and let himself wander in thought for the drive over.
The building that housed Lucy's flat was a modest one, two stories constructed from brown stones. The neighboring houses were similarly modest, all neat and well-kept. It all looked quite nice. Alfendi again felt reassured knowing that she lived in a decent area. It took him mere moments to find the door of Lucy's flat. He hesitated for a moment before he knocked, and then he waited.
There were some noises from inside the flat, a pause, and then the door opened a crack, just enough for one wide eye to peek out. "Prof?" Lucy sounded startled. She closed the door; there was the gentle clink of a chain lock being undone, and then she opened the door properly. She was holding herself carefully, clearly favoring her side where the assailant's blow had cracked one of her ribs. "Why're you here?"
"I just wanted to check on you," Alfendi said, feeling oddly embarrassed. But he was relieved to be able to see with his own eyes that Lucy was all right, if a bit battered. There were bruises on her neck, standing out a dark purple; he could make out the outlines of a few fingers, and the sight of it made his other self start to boil in the back of his mind. Her eyes were still a bit glazed. Most telling of all, it looked like she had just thrown an overcoat on over her sleepwear – somehow, he doubted she would have answered the door in such a state had she been her normal self.
She inched to the side to let him in. "Sorry the place's a mess," she said quietly after she closed the door behind him. "Hav't had much time for it." She limped carefully into the main room. With her back to him, Alfendi had a clear opportunity to glance around the room.
The floor plan was open, with the kitchen cordoned off by a small counter that separated it from the main room. A small dining table stood next to the kitchen, just off what seemed to be the main room. There were a couple of doors by the entrance – he assumed them to be closets or boiler rooms or the like – and two more off the far wall of the main room that were most likely a bathroom and bedroom.
It was, indeed, a bit cluttered, and nothing matched, and the furniture and fixtures looked a bit worn, but for the most part everything seemed clean and functional. There were little decorations here and there that made it more a home than simply a living space. He was not terribly surprised to notice that there was a lot of yellow in the place, adding cheer that seemed more to fit with Lucy's personality.
She had carefully eased herself down into an overstuffed brown chair. No sooner had she sat than she seemed to think of something. "Oh…d'ya want some tea or somethin'?" She pressed the hand to her side and moved like she was about to lever herself out of the chair again, no matter the cost.
Alfendi was at her side in an instant, stopping her movement with a hand on her shoulder. "Please, Lucy, you need to be resting. If anything, I should be asking you if you want something." He knelt so he was at her eye level. "I assure you, I won't think less of you as a hostess."
His reward was a smile that bordered on grateful. "If you want somethin', go 'head and help yourself."
Taking the invitation for what it was, he took a seat in the other chair in the room – this one blue, and a bit less on the stuffed side. Comfortable, though. "How are you feeling?"
Alfendi couldn't keep himself from laughing. Leave it to Lucy to be white-faced with pain, and still blunt as ever. "I can already tell that the ribs are miserable, but how's your head?" Given the severity of the blow to the head and subsequent concussion, the doctor had warned of possible dizzy spells and other symptoms rearing their heads possibly even days down the line.
"Not bad," Lucy said. "Makes me dizzy. Don' like it."
"There's a lot of people worried about you back at the office," he said. And it was true – person after person had stopped by the oft-ignored Mystery Room to ask Alfendi if he had heard anything, or if he had any word of Lucy's condition. Her desk in the office resembled a cross between a botanical garden, a toy store, and a stationary shop with all the flowers, plushies, and cards crowded on it. He had meant to bring some of them with him. "You're something of a hero."
"Not a hero. Did m'job."
"A hero. You led to the capture of a man who had put several young women in the hospital and terrorized many others," Alfendi reminded her gently. "He's denying everything, but somehow his word doesn't stand up too well against the word of two dozen Scotland Yard officers and their surveillance cameras. Rather shocking, really."
Lucy made a small sound that might have been amusement.
"Furthermore, two of the victims have identified him as the man who attacked them, and we expect that DNA testing could link him to at least two more." Two of the more seriously injured victims had been able to procure the necessary samples – one had scratched at him hard enough to ensure skin cells under her fingernails, and the other had managed to pull out of a few strands of his hair during the struggle. "You'll have to provide a statement as well."
"The one I gave at t'hospital not good enough for 'em?" Lucy said, but she was smiling. They had taken a cursory statement from her at the hospital, but she had been in the full grip of the pain and the concussion then and it was most likely that it hadn't been the most coherent of witness statements ever taken. The doctors and nurses flitting around hadn't helped much.
"Quite the contrary. It was so lovely that they want you to give them another one," he said, and her abortive laugh felt like a victory. Then his smile faded. "Depending on how things go before the trial and whether or not he gives up and confesses, you may have to testify against him in court."
"Hmm, never been in court," Lucy said. "I can do it."
"I have no doubt."
"…but I hope I don' have to." That last was said softly, almost like she was talking to herself.
There was a long moment of silence in the room as he digested that statement and the various meanings behind it. In the back of his mind, his other self remained suspiciously silent. After a pause, Alfendi asked, "Is there anything you need?"
He half expected her to say 'a new head' or something appropriately cheeky. Instead, she looked ready to cry. "No. Jus' don' like feelin' so miserable…" She hiccupped out a sob, and immediately doubled over at the pain in her ribs. "M'tired and feel useless and can' do anything, can' even think right…"
Something clicked in Alfendi's mind, then, and another piece of the puzzle that was Lucy Baker fell into place. Lucy, who had lost nearly everyone and been left alone so young. Lucy, who had been forced to learn independence and self-sufficiency far before anyone should really have to. Lucy, for whom tenacity was not merely just a character trait or even a professional asset, but a means to survival.
Lucy, who had no one to rely on and now could not really rely on herself.
Limitations were perhaps hardest to deal with when you had no one to help you fight past them.
Hard truths became even harder when you had no shoulder to cry on.
A decision unconsciously made itself in the back of his head as he rose and moved to her side. "Lucy," he said softly, putting a hand on her back and hating the fact that he could feel her trembling, "you don't have to do everything by yourself." He was well aware that this was akin to the pot and the kettle having a conversation about this season's most fashionable colors, but…
"Is there anything you need?" he asked again, a bit more firmly this time. Sometimes the best way to deal with Lucy's stubbornness was to reply with stubbornness in kind. "You have enough medication to get you through? You're fine for groceries?"
"You don' have t—"
"But I'm going to. I will take care of you until you stop being lazy and come back to work. That's that." Potty Prof chose that moment to pop in, take control, and declare his intentions to take care of her during her recovery in a tone that brooked no arguments. "And you'll accept it, and you'll like it. Now quit arguing and sit down before you fall over."
After a long moment, Lucy made a strange sound. It took him another moment to realize that the sound was laughter. Stifled laughter – breathing like that had to have been murder on her ribs – but laughter nonetheless. "Prof, you're th'only person I know who can make help soun' like a threat." But she was smiling, despite the fact that her eyes were still red rimmed and her face was flushed.
It was a surprisingly endearing picture, really.
Alfendi chose to ignore that thought.
The moment was interrupted when a yawn nearly cracked Lucy's face in two, immediately collapsing into a wince. If Alfendi never saw that much pain on her face again, it would probably still be too much, too soon. But now was the perfect time to prove his point. He rose and offered her a hand. "Perhaps a bit more rest is in order? Not in a chair – that won't do your injuries any favors." When she just stared at his hand, he wiggled his fingers at her. "I assure you I am a perfect gentleman, Lucy."
The doubtful look she gave him told him exactly what she thought about that (although he suspected it was more in reference to his other self), but she accepted the proffered hand and let him help her to her feet. "S'this way," she nodded towards one of the doors by the kitchen.
The bedroom was small but neat, and decorated in blue and yellow. Lucy refused to let him actually help her into the bed – goodness, how she blushed. Instead, she eased herself down and carefully pulled the blankets up around herself. The manner in which she did this suggested that she had spent a bit of time over the last couple of days figuring out how to maneuver with minimal pain.
For the first time since he had arrived at the flat, Alfendi felt a bit off kilter. Perhaps it was time to go – he could maybe take an inventory of the basics in the kitchen before he left, make sure that things were suitably stocked. Having a mission made him feel a bit better.
As usual, however, Lucy derailed his plans. "Prof?"
"…would you stay? At least 'til I fall asleep?" If the sound of her voice was any indication, sleep was not far off. But he had a feeling that it had cost her more than she would ever admit to even ask.
There was a small chair in the corner, next to the dresser. He took a seat there to wait.
Her breathing hadn't quite evened out yet when he asked her one more question. "Lucy, when you're feeling a bit better…would you tell me about your parents?"
She hummed a response that was vaguely affirmative, and from where he was sitting he could see her smile as she finally tumbled away into proper sleep. Still, he remained where he was for a while longer, thinking things over. When he finally slipped out of the room, he had a plan in mind. First, make sure Lucy had what she needed to ensure that her recovery was as easy as possible.
Secondly, he had something personal to take care of.
To say that Hershel Layton was surprised was an understatement. After all, how is one meant to react upon opening the door and finding one's estranged son standing on the doorstep?
Alfendi glanced to the side, visibly hesitated, and then sighed. "Mind if I come in? I think you and I have some things we need to talk about."
Hershel felt himself smile. A conversation with Barton the day before had updated him on things, and word of Lucy's injuries had left him concerned for both the young constable and his own son. Barton had let slip about Lucy's family, and it had gotten Hershel thinking. But it seemed that he wasn't the only one, and Alfendi had surprised him (as usual) and beaten him to the punch.
He nodded and stepped aside to let his son come in.