AN: I did a drabble request over on the Professor Layton LJ community, and this is a response to a request for the Professor being a bit under the weather. Hope you enjoy it! I don't own the game or any of the characters in it!

Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever

The sun rose that morning. Which was a good thing, really. It would have been really strange if it had not, and a lot of people probably would have panicked. So yay for the sun!

In the home-slash-office of the renowned archaeologist and puzzle master, Hershel Layton, the day was just getting underway. Luke and Flora, the professor's assistant and ward (respectively) were buzzing around the kitchen, preparing a breakfast of gourmet toast. Given Flora's previous displays of her rather interesting kitchen capabilities, it could be called a miracle that the toast was not sentient.

But the Professor himself seemed to be running a bit late this morning, a very unusual and very uncharacteristic happening. He was usually up and about well before the children. Today, however, his door remained closed well past sunrise. The office and study, his two regular haunts within the home, were both empty. The Laytonmobile was still in the driveway in front of the house, and his shoes and hat were still by the door, so it seemed rather unlikely that he had gone anywhere.

"What's keeping the Professor, do you think?" Flora asked in a whisper.

"I don't know," Luke replied in an equally soft voice, glancing towards the stairs. "Maybe he was up late on a puzzle again—he usually drags a bit after nights like that. Or maybe he finally decided that it's perfectly gentlemanly to be lazy once in a while?"

It didn't sound at all like the Professor, truth be told, but having seen an entire village of robot inhabitants built by an eccentric baron to protect his daughter from loneliness after his death? Luke had become a firm believer in the "anything can happen" school of thought.

Flora was opening her mouth to reply when there was a dull thud upstairs, a sound both immediately recognized as a door opening. There was a pause, then the sound of dragging footsteps moving slowly towards the stairs. And finally, Professor Layton appeared in the flesh, descending the staircase and clutching at the banister in white-knuckled fists. He made it to the table with those same inching steps, and more or less collapsed into his seat.

It was only after Layton had taken a seat that Luke realized something very odd: his mentor was currently rather Christmas colored.

White as a sheet.

Red in the cheeks.

Green around the gills.

It didn't take a genius, or even the apprentice of a genius, to add all of this up. "Professor?" Luke approached cautiously. "Are you feeling all right?"

"M'fine, Luke," he mumbled in response, his glazed eyes fixed on the tabletop. After a moment, that glassy gaze shifted to look woefully at Flora. "Could you do that a little more quietly, my dear? Please?"

Flora looked down at the knife in her hand, which she had been using to butter her toast. Then she gave Layton a curious look, as if to say What the hell are you talking about?

"Professor, you don't look well," Luke said in that same inquisitive voice.

"I said I'm fine, my boy."

"…would you like some breakfast?" Flora asked softly.

"No, my dear," the professor shook his head. Suddenly he looked even more exhausted, like moving his head back and forth had sapped all of his energy and he had nothing left now. "I am just…not awake yet. That's all. I'll be fine."

Now, Luke was perfectly aware that he was still a mere apprentice. He was not a professor, nor was he an archaeologist, and he certainly had not achieved Layton's status as a puzzle master. But he was still incredibly sharp for his age, and he knew when he was being had. And right now, the Professor was not being entirely up-front about his current state.

A glance at Flora proved that she was thinking the same thing: this was not right.

As if he sensed their thoughts and realized that he had to make an immediate getaway, Professor Layton rose to his feet, bracing his hands against the table to help him rise out of his chair. "Well, I think I should head to the office and see what work needs to be done today." Most of his words were slurred together, though he was still understandable. And he was still leaning on the table for support.

"Professor."

Layton looked down at his young apprentice, surprise written in his glazed eyes.

Luke had drawn himself up to the fullest extent of his four foot, six inch height, and was giving his beloved mentor the most scathing glare he could muster up. "Professor, you are sick!" he said imperiously, thrusting one pointed finger up towards Layton. "The clues are all there! It's not even that hard of a puzzle to put together!"

The professor made a sound that sounded suspiciously like, "Guh?"

"You can't fool the eyes of your own apprentice!" Luke went on. In spite of his concern, he was sort of starting to enjoy this. If the puzzle solving thing ever fell through for him, he could probably consider a relatively lucrative career on the stage. "You taught me yourself, you know."

"Luke—"

"Now you are going to go back to bed and stay there until you are well again!" Luke said in his sternest voice. He felt a presence behind him, and realized that Flora had moved up behind him. Somehow, he could picture her in his mind's eye: expression as stern as his own, arms folded, ready to do battle, if necessary, with the man who had taken her in after her father's death.

"But—"

"No buts!" Flora interjected, her tone of voice confirming Luke's mental picture. She was backing him up on this, and he was rather thankful for it. He wasn't sure if he would have been able to take on the Professor on his own if Layton really decided to fight them.

To Luke's open amazement, Layton slumped forward, his eyes going even more glassy; his arms hung limply at his sides, and he actually seemed to deflate, as though defeated. "All right. You win." Without another word or complaint, he allowed his apprentice and his ward to lead him back to his bedroom.

Where he promptly collapsed into bed, not even bothering to switch his slacks and shirt for pajamas. He was sound asleep before Luke and Flora had even made it out of the room. They tiptoed out and pulled the door closed behind them.

With the Professor safely in bed, they looked at each other. "What do we do?" Flora whispered.

"We'll take care of things for today," Luke whispered back. "We can manage. The Professor needs to rest." He glanced at the door. "It's just sort of hard to believe that he's actually sick, though."

"What do you mean?" Flora asked, cocking her head to one side.

Luke's responding grin was wry, and a little bit sheepish. "Well…sometimes it can be very easy to forget that he's human. Every now and then I need a reminder."

-o-

When Professor Layton next opened his eyes, it took him a moment to realize that he was still in bed, even though the clock told him that it was well past eleven. What had kept him abed so long? Had he just overslept? Maybe he had—

It took only one attempt at sitting up for him to remember why he was still in bed, and he fell back against the pillow with a groan as he recalled the events of earlier that morning. He had woken up and felt awful, but decided that he needed to go about his day as usual. It had taken a while to get dressed and make himself as presentable as he could (though he really didn't care overly much about how he looked at the moment) before he dragged himself downstairs to breakfast.

And there, his protégé and his adoptive daughter (of sorts) had ganged up on him, insisting that he was sick and needed to go back to bed. He had been too out of sorts to protest, and they had marched him right back up here and deposited him back in bed.

He must have gone back to sleep.

But even after this nap, he still couldn't move too well. His limbs felt like they had been weighed down by two of Crouton's big pitchers, and his mouth felt like he had swallowed one of Claudia's hairballs. And he couldn't breathe through his nose. No comparison there, but it did kind of stink.

No pun intended.

He was trying to decide what he should do (whether he should go back to sleep, or try to get out of bed, or perhaps count the cracks in the ceiling) when there was a timid knock at the door. He managed to croak out, "Come in," and the door opened.

Flora entered with a teacup in her hands, steam reaching from the liquid inside to arch and vanish in the air. "Oh, you are awake!" she said with a happy smile; she set the cup down on the table by the bed. "I brought you some tea. And, ah…y-you don't have to worry," she added quickly, looking down and toying with a stray thread on her skirt. "Luke made the tea. Not me."

…Layton couldn't help but feel a bit better about that, though he would never say it aloud. He took a long sip, relief flooding him along with warmth at the pleasing and familiar taste of tea on his tongue. Well, sort of familiar. His nose didn't seem to want to let anything taste the way it was supposed to either, but beggars could not be choosers. And his stomach was reminding him that he had not had breakfast that morning.

So he downed the cup of tea perhaps a bit more quickly and a bit less politely than he normally would have, but he was hungry and he felt awful and if anyone wanted to complain about his lack of manners, then he might have to cough on them. So there.

"Do you want more tea?" Flora asked.

"If you don't mind, my dear," he said. Or rather, he tried to say, but it didn't come out terribly well, and the look on Flora's face said that she did not quite understand. So he bobbed his head up and down to say yes, please. She smiled and bounced from the room, the teacup in her hand.

Layton slumped back against the pillows. Such a sweet girl. Shy, but gradually coming out of her shell.

A nice…girl…

When Flora came back again, the professor was once again sound asleep.

-o-

It was official.

He hated being sick.

It wasn't just that he felt awful, oh no. It meant that he couldn't do anything for himself. Luke and Flora had made it a personal mission to nurse him back to health, and as such, they were keeping a close eye on him. He was staying in bed, and they were bringing him tea and such.

He even had to ask Luke to bring him a book to read! And as if that wasn't sad enough, his eyes chose that moment to decide that, like his nose, they hated him and were going to rebel. They refused to focus in on the words and allow him to read on his own, so he had to ask Luke to read to him. The apprentice eagerly agreed, and pulled up a chair to read to his mentor like a parent reading to their child.

This would have been fine…except for the fact that Luke was reaching a certain point in his young life. And the poor boy's voice was developing the rather awkward tendency to jump octaves, sometimes multiple times in the space of a single sentence. As if his head didn't hurt enough…

And since Luke was preoccupied with reading, that left Flora to make the tea. How she managed to get cayenne pepper into the Earl Grey was a puzzle even Layton would be hard-pressed to piece together. But at least she was good enough to bring him two glasses: one of milk to douse his burning tongue, and one of water to put out the rest of the fire that had resulted from the flames shooting from his mouth.

Bless her little heart for that, at least.

Still, although he would not say it aloud to the children, for he knew they meant well…

They really need to switch jobs.

Really.

Desperately.

But alas, no luck. Luke continued to read, alternating squeaking and rumbling, and crashes from the kitchen proved that Flora was at it again. A question to Luke told him that the girl had commented about the possibility of making some soup for the poor, ill professor.

Layton hadn't thought it possible, but suddenly he felt even worse.

Dinner was, indeed, Flora's homemade soup. And Layton went from having a fever and possible cold to doing something extremely ungentlemanly. But he really was too far gone to care. After that, he banished the children from his room so he could just sleep for the rest of the night and hopefully sleep whatever this illness was away.

Still, when he awoke in the middle of the night with his throat on fire, a glass of water had mysteriously appeared on the bedside table. Or been left there. Ah, those children. He was fortunate that they knew exactly the right time to disobey.

-o-

The next morning brought another sunrise (yay for the sun!), and Professor Hershel Layton sat up in bed and stretched his arms over his head, groaning softly as a few muscles stretched in painless protest. He felt far better after a solid night's sleep, and he was ready to face this day.

Swinging his feet over the edge of the bed, he hurried cleaned himself up, washing away that awful feeling of sick. The water on his face chased away the last remnants of sleep from his eyes, and a change of clothes had him feeling completely human again. There. He was properly attired and fit for public consumption. Now it was time for breakfast.

But Layton was not prepared for what he found when he went down to the kitchen. It was…

Well, disaster was the first word that came to mind.

It was all the worse, somehow, because there was evidence of effort having been made to clean it up. The mess on the floor showed signs of sweeping and mopping, and there were streaks on the counter that suggested it had been wiped down (or rather, an attempt had been made to wipe it down), and the garbage can was full where it had been more or less empty the night before.

…what in blazes had the children done to the kitchen?

A groan behind him made him turn around, and he found the two objects of his momentary ire standing in the doorway, looking at him with blank, glassy eyes. Their faces were pale, and they both seemed to have a rather green tinge to their collective countenance…

"Professor?" Luke mumbled. He glanced at Flora, who nodded, and then he said, "…we don't feel good."