Many years ago, my mom bought me a copy of "Professor Layton and the Curious Village" for me to play. I got to the part where Claudia the cat got spooked off, and then stopped. I suppose it just felt too... silly, for lack of a better word. Too intent on making sure you knew it was a puzzle game. Gimmicky, odd, and also that dog matchstick puzzle was not fun. Not to my tastes at the time, unfortunately.
Recently, as in at least January of this year, my youngest sister became interested in the series and played the first game. And then the second. Then the third, fourth, fifth, and recently the sixth. She watched the movie at least five times as of now. She got the free parts of the mobile game. She tries to find whatever episode of the anime that has English subtitles she can. My mom is slightly regretting giving me the game in the first place after being shown some of the cut-scenes from later games.
I was in college for most of the time my sister was playing the original trilogy, but she's also an artist with a Tumblr, and after seeing some of the fan art she'd made, I figured this was something to look back into. I watched her play through the sequels, helping here and there with a puzzle, and joined her on the emotional roller coaster that starts with a guy in a top hat riding in a car with a little boy to a village of puzzle fanatics.
Long story short:
And then a few days ago I was in bed and I thought, "what if I wrote a fanfic?" And today I started it, but then it kind of spiraled away from the original topic, and now there are two fanfics! This is one, the other will follow when I feel like it.
I had my sister read this one for me. She came into my room and tried to punch me. I think I did good.
The sun was setting, but its rays still beat down on his exposed hand like fire. He would know what that felt like, given that his hand had almost caught fire in chemistry class once due to Randall being, well… Randall.
Hershel Layton contemplated his concluded adventure with the Mask of Chaos. Randall had come back, words were exchanged, a photograph or two were taken, and then… well, as Emmy put it, he bolted. Packed his trunk and companions into the Laytonmobile and took off from Monte D'or without much more than a "goodbye".
Emmy had chastised him for a good hour before giving up. Hershel hadn't responded to a word she said. There was nothing to say.
He couldn't really explain why he felt the need to leave after seeing his best friend alive again after nearly two decades. He simply had to. It was the only logical option, yet it was most definitely not logical. Looking back on it now, he supposed he had thought it the logical option because Randall seemed to silently agree…
"On the count of three, everyone say 'cheese'!" Emmy said, laughing from behind her camera but keeping it steady despite herself. Angela stood on Hershel's right, Luke stood in front of him next to Alphonse's dog, and Randall, Alphonse, and Henry were on his left, in that order. Hershel could feel someone's eyes on the back of his neck, and a slight tilt of his head told him that Randall was also standing a bit behind him, watching him. He didn't give it much thought; being reunited with a pair of glasses after twenty years must have been quite an, a-hem, "eye-opening" experience.
Emmy began to count: "One… two…" Hershel put his hand to his hat brim and smiled. He would not say "cheese". He never did. Emmy just went along with it.
Everyone around him took a breath in; the picture was about to be taken, when suddenly someone fell into his back and grabbed at his hat. "HERSHEL LET ME SEE YOUR HAIR!" Randall shouted.
"BAH?!" Hershel yelped in a rather undignified way, grabbing his hat brim with both hands.
Everyone burst into laughter, except Hershel, Randall and Luke, the latter just seeming surprised and perhaps a bit curious as to why the photograph had erupted into folly. At least, that's what Hershel would have thought in his shoes.
After a moment of wrestling for control of the hat, Randall gasped and pulled away. Hershel quickly refastened his hat and tried to look relatively neutral when facing him. He had a feeling he was not doing well. "Why-?" he began.
"Hershel…" Randall's voice was serious, so much so that everyone stopped laughing and looked on worriedly.
"…What is it?" He was thankful his voice had not risen much in pitch.
Randall stared at him for exactly three seconds. Then he threw his arms around his friend and cried, "You're BALD!"
"I… what?" Herhsel carefully put his hand under his hat without taking it off and felt around. As he had assumed, all of his hair was still there. The phrase "all of his hair" made something click in his mind. "Oh… no, Randall, I just got it cut—"
"BAAAAAALD!" Randall wailed.
Everyone laughed again, and Hershel found himself smiling and putting a hand on Randall's back. "You've hardly changed at all, old friend." The words left his mouth, and less then a second later the hot Monte D'or air went cold.
No one else seemed to notice. They were still laughing and talking about… something. Hershel couldn't really hear anything outside of his head, and apparently neither could Randall. The two stared at each other, Randall's arms wrapped around him and Hershel's hand on his back. Randall's wide eyes mirrored his own, and a complicated series of thoughts, memories, and emotions seemed to crowd their minds, circling and flowing between them.
There were a few happy memories, like the taste of the strawberry scones Randall had bought him as an apology for setting his arm on fire in chemistry class that day, the thrill of finding his first hint coin on their Azran expedition, the shade under a tree as Randall told him about different kinds of fossils he'd found, and isn't archaeology just wonderful, Hershel?
But the bitter memories were strong, like that over-steeped cup of kuding tea that he'd gotten from a well-meaning associate (and finished like any true gentleman should). Being sandwiched between gravity and the stone cliff, overlooking his best friend dangling by their clasped hands. The sudden release of that weight, immediately being replaced with a new, far worse weight as Randall's sweat slicked hand slid out of his grasp. Solving a puzzle all alone. Finding nothing but trinkets and trivial treasures on the other side. The long, agonizing walk back to Stansbury. Seeing the horror and realization in Angela's eyes as his silence spoke more than his words. The blame hidden behind every "kind" word the people of Stansbury said to him.
He could have prevented all of it.
Randall blinked, startling Hershel out of his well of bitterness. There was a look on his face, one that was both welcome and made Hershel want to crawl into his hat and never come out. The Professor was never very good at understanding emotions, not even his own. But he understood this. Despite not knowing what the other was thinking about, they knew exactly what the other was thinking (illogical as that sounded to him later). Simultaneously, they nodded, so subtly it was barely a twitch.
They patted each other on the back once, then stood apart at arm's length. "…Yeah," Randall said.
"Indeed," Hershel replied. "Well… goodbye." He picked up his trunk and sped-walked in the direction of his car.
"Bye," Randall called back, then turned around and practically ran towards the hotel.
Everyone sputtered for a few seconds before splitting up; Emmy and Luke running after the Professor, and Angela, Alphonse, and Henry hurrying after Randall.
…His hand was starting to itch. He should probably move it out of the sun's way.
Emmy sighed loudly, and Hershel flicked his gaze briefly into the rearview mirror. Luke seemed… well, he couldn't really tell. He wasn't smiling, but he was frowning, either. His thin little eyebrows were furrowed—contemplation, deep thinking—and he seemed curled in on himself—uncertainty, apprehension. Layton could understand those nonverbal ques; he had taken them on himself when solving difficult puzzles. But Luke wasn't solving a puzzle now… what was he thinking?
Out of the corner of his eye, Hershel could see Emmy open her mouth before closing it again. He could deduce a few possibilities of what she wanted to say: "I don't understand you." "We'll talk about this later." "…I'm sorry."
Each option made Hershel feel worse. So he stopped thinking about what had just happened, what Emmy wanted to say, what invisible puzzle Luke was trying to solve, and just focused on the road. Driving was like a puzzle, in a way. An answer to arrive at, a correct way to get there, and the occasional jump of adrenaline when a car sped by on a quieter road.
Getting back home was a puzzle he was comfortable finding the answer to.
My first contribution to the Professor Layton Fandom, and I do angst. Sounds about right.
This originally started as a different story, with what you see here being a short flashback before the real story took off. Fortunately (depending on who you ask), this spiraled into its own story, and I'm pretty pleased with it.
Oh, by the way, hi. I'm Yours The Author, or just The Author, if you please. I have other stories of all kinds: some comedic, some angsty, some fluffy, some containing all three. Give one a read if you're interested.
Also, if you'd please, leave a review and tell me what you thought of this? I don't get a lot of feedback on my stories, so I'll take whatever I can get at this point. Anyway, I'll see you around.