AN: This was actually one of those moments where I had two separate ideas, and they wound up converging into one story. Which is sort of nice because it saves me time— (CANDY IS SHOT DEAD) So I hope you enjoy it. I do not own Layton or anything related unto it. Thanks for reading! Much love!
Better with Age
It was at moments like these that Hershel Layton realized that he was getting old. Oh, not that this was a bad thing, per se. But he was not as young as he had been once upon a time, and certainly not as young as when he and Luke had gone on that little trip to St. Mystere and embarked on the hunt for the Golden Apple.
There were the little things that gave him this indication: aches where there had not been aches before, sudden and unusual failings of memory, and of course, that fateful morning when he had looked in the bathroom mirror and discovered a single hair shimmering silver-gray among all the dark brown.
After that small heart attack, he found himself with a new appreciation for his beloved top hat. It hid the evidence well. Ah, but for the most part he accepted his age gracefully. There was no shame in growing older; there was no disgrace in age.
Although there was a bit of a shock when the day came that he realized he could no longer match pace with Luke. It actually came to a point where he was letting his young apprentice do most of the footwork for them, simply because Luke was still blessed with the energy of youth.
Not that Layton was unable to function.
It just seemed that he was tiring more quickly than he had in years past.
But his mind was sharp as ever, and it did not escape him that when Luke went out on errands, he began taking Flora with him on a regular basis, citing that he enjoyed her company. Before long, Layton noticed that Luke was making those trips accompanied far more often than he made them alone.
And then there was the day that it occurred to Layton that he was no longer looking down at his apprentice. In fact, he was having to look up a bit to speak directly to Luke. Then the young man moved out on his own, saying he needed his own space. He was still a regular visitor, though, and he and Flora continued to spend a lot of time together.
Flora was growing as well. Taller, more graceful as she left the awkwardness of adolescence behind and adopted an adult form. She had become a lovely young woman, and the Professor was a bit surprised to realize that he was growing even more protective of his ward. He found himself growing increasingly suspicious of young men who gave her looks.
But for whatever reason, it didn't really hit him just how much Luke and Flora had both grown up until the day his apprentice appeared on his doorstep wearing a shy smile and wanting to speak to Flora for a moment.
A moment later, he heard Flora scream. Not one of horror or alarm, but one that ended in laughter. And he became the first to congratulate them both on their engagement.
Flora had been a beautiful bride. There was no question about that.
Luke's voice—no longer the thin soprano it had once been, but now a pleasant baritone—interrupted his thoughts, and Layton gave himself a mental shake. "Apologies, my boy," he said, privately wondering if that was still an appropriate way to address Luke. "I'm afraid I've been woolgathering again." He chuckled. "I think I may be growing old after all."
Luke grinned. "Don't be silly, Professor. You can still probably run rings around me."
"Physically? I am not sure that's a possibility."
Luke laughed outright at that. "So would you like to meet him now?"
Ah yes. The reason he had come over to visit them on this fine day. With a bit of effort, Layton stood and nodded. "Absolutely." He followed the young man into another room, where Flora was sitting and smiling up at them.
"It was good of you to come," she said happily.
He bent to kiss her cheek in a paternal gesture. "I would never have missed this." He glanced down at the little bundle cradled in her arms. "Is this him?"
The look on Flora's face could only be described as glowing. "This is him," she beamed. "Alexander. Would you like to hold him?"
Layton didn't need to be asked twice, and Flora shifted to support the baby's head as she carefully passed the infant into his waiting arms.
After a moment, Layton suddenly became aware of a hand resting on his shoulder. A glance to the side told him that it was Luke's hand, and the young man (and new father) was smiling. "Professor…we were wondering something."
Luke threw Flora a quick look; when she nodded, he went on, "Well…when Alexander is a bit older…" he tilted his head to one side, "how do you feel about being called Grandpa?"
It took the great puzzle master a moment to realize exactly what he was being asked. It made sense, he thought. Luke had no family left, and Flora's parents were both deceased, and he had more or less raised both of them for part of their lives. That was the purely intellectual level.
…but he held no actual biological relation to either of them. He had been a friend, a father figure, a confidante, and a teacher to both of the children, but there was no blood connection. And yet…
They were asking if it would be all right if they taught their newborn son to address him as a grandfather. And…well, wasn't it a grandfather's job to spoil and play and teach? And, he thought with an internal laugh, he certainly was old enough to play the part.
It did seem like such a beautiful title for a wonderful, rewarding job…
Layton smiled at them both, with all the pride and joy that any father has ever had in his children; they were feelings that, like almost everything else in his world, just seemed to get better with age. "It would be an honor, Luke, Flora. A true honor."