AN: This is officially the worst title I have ever given to anything -.- I don't own Professor Layton.

The Finger

Flora peered curiously at the small item in Luke's hands. "What is that, exactly?" she asked.

He passed the object, made of brightly colored paper, over to her for closer examination. "I think the Professor said that it was called a Chinese finger trap or something." He pointed to the open ends of the paper tube. "He said that you're supposed to stick your fingers in here, and then they'll get suck!"

…for something that would bind one's hands together in a very odd fashion, Luke seemed awfully excited about it. And it seemed a bit silly, to be honest, that what essentially amounted to a paper tube could do what he claimed. In short, Flora was skeptical that it was really all that amazing, and she said as much: "Luke, that seems a bit unrealistic."

"Here, I'll show you!" he said. He took the finger trap back and stick his index finger into one end, then started pulling at the body of the tube with his free hand. "See?" he grinned shamelessly. "It's stuck tight!"

If nothing else, she had to give him points for enthusiasm. "Very nice," she said.

"You should try!" Luke said.

Flora spared a thought to wonder what precisely he had eaten that day that would make him this energetic. It was bordering on the absurd, how he was so happy about something that really seemed like nothing at all. "That's all right, Luke. Really."

He got a speculative glimmer in his eyes, that look that meant nothing good was coming her way. "Oh, all right. You don't have to try it…" he raised an eyebrow. "It's fine if you're too scared to stick your finger in a silly little paper tube…"

…oh, now that just wasn't fair. No self-respecting person under the age of eighteen could have that taunt lobbed at them and not rise to the bait. Not taking the challenge, for whatever reason, meant that said self-respecting person under the age of eighteen was fair game for any number of taunts and jibes from the one who had thrown the gauntlet.

Luke was usually a fairly reasonable boy. But he certainly did have his moments.

And it was for that reason that Flora threw her hands in the air in exasperation and huffed, "Fine, I'll do it." To prove her point, she held out her own index finger and pushed it into the other end of the tube.

Luke grinned.

After a moment, Flora sighed. "There. Are you satisfied now? If you are, I'll just—" she made as though to draw her hand back, but stopped in surprise when she realized that she couldn't. The paper tube seemed to have suctioned itself around her finger; it actually stretched out, clinging to her hand as she tried to pull free.

Now alarmed, Flora glanced at Luke. "How do we get it off?"

To her amazement, he looked a bit sheepish. "I'm…not sure, actually. I haven't used one of these before." A nervous chuckle.

Flora gaped at him. "You…you don't know."

He shook his head.

As if it wasn't bad enough that she was now stuck to Luke, courtesy of their index fingers and a Chinese finger trap, Murphy's Law decided that now was a nice time to clock back in from its coffee break and get back to work.

The door opened.

Striking Luke in the back.

And sending him flying forward.

Into Flora.

Who was not prepared to catch the weight.

And the two toppled ungracefully to the floor in a heap of tangled limbs, Luke winding up sprawled across Flora's lap with his arm bent back over his head at a very odd angle. And the finger trap held on tight.

"Good heavens, are you two all right?" Layton asked, quickly stepping inside and closing the door before moving to their sides.

"…I feel like this happens a lot around here," Luke muttered into a fold of Flora's skirt on the ground. He had noticed it a lot. It was almost like someone was messing with them. Perhaps a higher being, or fate, or a deranged author of their destinies…

Wouldn't it be hilarious if they really were just characters in some bizarre story?

…and if they were, did that mean that if he did something wrong or stupid, he could simply blame it on the Great Author? That would be keen. Especially since he wasn't really very good with girls yet.

There was a tug on Luke's hand, interrupting his ludicrous thoughts, and he was forced to remember that he and Flora were currently stuck to each other via a silly tube of colorful paper that refused to loose its hold on their index fingers. "Ah, Professor?" Flora said softly. He could almost hear the blush in her voice. "Do you know how to, um, remove this?"

To Luke's amazement, there was a light chuckle above his head. "It's really quite simple. Sit up, Luke." After the boy had obeyed, Layton took careful hold of their wrists. "Now push your hands towards each other."

They did so, and Layton reached between them and tugged at the finger trap. To the amazement of both of those who had been held in its terrible hold, it fell loose and they found themselves free.

"There is a bit of a trick to it," Layton explained. "If you press in on it, you can see that it expands and loosens." He held it out and demonstrated this to them.

Both Luke and Flora stared at it. Then Luke straightened, folded his arms, and stuck his nose in the air, and huffed, "Pfft. I knew that."

His attitude turned into a squawk when an annoyed Flora grabbed a throw pillow from the nearby sofa and threw it at him, catching him squarely in the face and knocking him right on his back.

"…or maybe I didn't know that?" he admitted sheepishly.

Flora glowered at him. "Much better."