Tick, tock, tick... tick...

Time. Time passes so slowly. Slow like a pulse, slow like the glide of a lonely snail... Slow, slow like his heart.

One step. Two step. Stop. Breathe. Continue.

Tick... Tick... Stop.

Stop.

"Stop!" The young man sat up quickly, pushing the sound of the ticking clock away from his ears and out of his shaky dreams. Breathless he looked around, his heart racing. For a moment he forgot where he was, the despair rushing through his hears louder than his own heartbeat - stop, stop, stop! – but then everything rushed back... Tick, tick...

"Time... I-It's time..." He whispered, pushing the leaves off his body and rising to his feet. He had surpassed time, surpassed the logics and the silent mutterings as he had spent years preparing for this moment. The moment his life would change, but not his life. His life. Who had had been once, the carefree innocent child.

He moved, pressing his hands against the broken shadow that had once been his body and stepped slowly towards his past. Each step matched the rhythm of his heartbeat, his slow, steady heartbeat. Bump. Bump. Bum-

Stop.

Don't do this anymore.

Don't let the dark side win.

Stop.

Tick... Tick... Stop...

"It's too late. Time has stopped... His time. My time. Our... His. His time..." The figure was shadowed as he turned towards the window, his heart pulsing faster, faster, dangerously fast. One step too far and his time would run out again. How many times had he been close to this edge? Where admiration had become darkness and memories had become nightmares. Where platonic love became vengeful hate... stop.

Stop.

STOP.

The boy clutched at his head, shaking, the memories overloading him for a moment. He was back. Back in the past, back in their future and it was still so confusing. He was at the door, his hand was on the wood, he was here and yet he was there and it was so confusing... And then the door opened.

"... Hello!" A cheery voice greeted him, but he pushed passed it. He opened his eyes slowly to a mirror image, a mirror image of what he once was – who he could still be, if it wasn't for... If he hadn't...

"Who're you, then? Did you want the Professor?" The boy seemed to take his silence for a yes and ran back in, calling brightly for his mento- murderer. The man who had caused the destitute... And there he was. Delightfully curious about the caller, the Professor stepped out of the shadows as though he was stepping from a nightmare. Step, step... stop...

"Stop!" He cried, the elder boy shaking as he clenched his fists. "Stop. Sto- Let him go. Let us go. He is me-mine. He is mine and I will take him home." Home – not home. Not in the true sense, for what home does someone like him have? None. He is nothing but a shadow, a minority, a broken doll, an orphan. Layton looked mildly shocked.

"And who are you?" He questioned, his tone cold, clipped, but polite. Fake. Lies. Anger.

"I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?" The young man smirked to himself, lifting his hat, and he shrugged, darkness washing around him. "I am here to stop. To stop you. Us. Him. Me. Stop."

"Ah, that's the great puzzle." Layton said softly, his tone a little softer. "Why me? I believe I have done nothing to harm you, my bo-"

"Stop. Stop! I am nothing to you. Nothing. N-Never anythin-nothing." He held out his hand. "Come, Luke. Come. Follo- Stop. Stop letting him allow this to happen." The child looked scared and clung to the Professor's sleeve. Why, when I have come to save yo-

"Time is running out. Luke, make a choice." The boy shook his head fearfully and hid it in the elbow of the Once Great Professor. In the eyes of the elder he was nothing, nothing but a lie and a fake and danger and sickness and nightmare, unbearable nightmares...

"Not me. You. You, I need to save you..." But the boy shook and clung and refused and the man was cold and hard, anger radiating from him and the younger man was lost.

And he turned.

And he ran.

Tick... Tick... Tick... Stop –

End it. Break it. Kill it.

Finish what you started.

End my torture.

End yours.

Death.

Stop.