AN: And here we have the conclusion. Notes are at the end. I don't own Professor Layton.
Three years later…
He hadn't even bothered to change clothes. All he had done was to remove his tie, his robe, and the stupid-looking graduation hat (he knew it had an actual name, but to his mind it was still just a really stupid hat) and toss them in the backseat before he started driving. His prize, the most thing he had been waiting for, was on the passenger seat beside him.
His parents had been surprised when he told them where he was going; he had never really given them a solid reason for his change of education venue. But he told them that he wanted to show the Professor that he had done it. Their conversation on the plane on the way to Mexico flew back to him, where he had told the man that he was the first person in his family to go to college. Even if the door was slammed in his face, he wanted to show the Professor the diploma.
The drive took far longer than he thought it would, but finally he found the house. Clark (also a new college graduate with a degree in quantum physics under his belt) had been helpful in the endeavor, seeming to accept the explanations as Lucas gave them.
Although Lucas really had to wonder if Clark suspected anything. He certainly wasn't stupid, though he sometimes acted like it. But if he did suspect, he was keeping it to himself, something that Lucas was immeasurably grateful for.
After he parked the car and turned off the ignition, Lucas sat there for a moment, the all-important piece of paper in his hands. The Professor's car was parked in front (the Leightonmobile, he had jokingly called it), and there was a light on in the front window. All signs pointed to someone being home.
And of course he was picking now to have second thoughts. What if the Professor had found someone else? What if the door was, as previously thought, slammed in his face? What if Leighton didn't want to see him? What if his transfer was taken as running away and…
…at the same time, what if the Professor had missed him as much as he had missed the Professor?
He had to knock on that door.
Lucas got out of the car and walked stiffly up to the front door. He paused there for a moment to make sure he looked presentable, still in the khakis, white shirt, and blue blazer he had donned for his walk across the stage. Finally satisfied, he gripped the diploma…
And rang the doorbell.
Time stood still, and he nearly fled.
But before he could actually do it and let the moment become a silly practical joke, the door opened.
Leighton gaped at him for a long moment before finally managing, "…L-Lucas?"
He had rehearsed what he was going to say, practiced it in the car. Now his mind went blank. At a complete loss, he shoved the diploma at the man. "I did it," he said. "I did it."
The Professor took it, looked at it, looked back at Lucas, obviously unsure of what to make of it all.
"First person in my family to graduate from college," he said, not quite able to keep himself from smiling, even in the face of the Professor's shock. He felt like a moron, but he kept talking. "I'm twenty-two now, Professor. And I'm not a student anymore." His smile faded, and he swallowed hard, hands clenching into fists at his sides. "Not a student anymore. Yours or anyone else's."
Professor Leighton stared at him for a moment longer before it seemed to dawn. He slowly passed the diploma back to the new graduate, still visibly uncertain as to what in blazes he should do.
But there was something there, smothered in the man's eyes, that gave Lucas hope, and he swallowed hard and took the risk. "You know, Professor…" he cleared his throat in an attempt to remove the lump that had decided to lodge itself there, "…I really have missed your tea." Please understand, please understand, please please please…
…and just as Lucas was about to turn and run and try to make himself forget that any of this had ever happened (a hopeless endeavor, to be sure—there was no way he would ever forget that summer), Leighton spoke. "Lucas…my boy," he said slowly, and the familiar term of endearment made something inside him do a backflip, "…would you like to come in?"
The words were music to Lucas' ears. He smiled. "Yes, Professor. I'd like that."
Leighton stepped aside at the acceptance, and gestured for the young man to enter. Lucas stepped past, into the house, and Leighton closed the door behind them.
"Funny…" Lucas murmured happily, stretching his arms over his head before letting them fall back against the pillow. "I distinctly remember saying that I missed the tea."
The Professor, sprawled on his stomach beneath the comforter on the other side of the bed, mumbled something unintelligible into the pillow. Lucas chuckled and happy snuggled down under the brown and cream striped comforter, enjoying the fact that it had the man's scent.
When he had come here to show the Professor what he had accomplished, the idea that this could theoretically happen had crossed his mind, but he had dismissed it. After all this time, with no contact and no explanation as to why he had transferred and apparently run away, it seemed extremely unlikely that Leighton would want anything of the sort.
…apparently, Lucas had been a tiny bit mistaken on that count, considering that he had been in the house for all of about two minutes before they both kind of…lunged. Then he was kissing the Professor and the Professor was kissing him, and he was being pulled up the stairs. And the rest was, for lack of a better word, history. Still, it was really quite a pleasant surprise to find that Leighton had missed him that much, as much as he had missed Leighton. And so here they were.
"I missed this too, though, if it makes you feel better," Lucas added.
"Lucas…" Leighton said, having turned his head to look directly at his former student. "Hush."
In spite of the half-growled order, Lucas couldn't help but laugh and scoot over a little closer. "Aww, don't be sore." He flashed a shark-like grin. "I think that's my job, all things considered."
Leighton groaned and replanted his face in the pillow. "You will be the death of me, my boy."
"What a way to go."
There was a pause, long and comfortable, during which both just lay there in the afterglow (and was it ever nice to be able to actually enjoy the moment, rather than having to get back in a Jeep or rush to separate beds at separate ends of a camper to avoid discovery). This was nice. This was wonderful.
And then Leighton turned his head again. "Lucas, I do have a question."
Now it was Lucas' turn to be startled. "Hmm?"
"…you left," Leighton said simply. "Without a word. I was hoping there was a reason, and that you might explain it to me?" Was it just Lucas' imagination, or did the Professor actually sound a little bit…sad as he asked the question?
Honestly, Lucas had known that this was coming, and he had been waiting for it. He had just rather thought that it would come before anything else. Instead, a mutual glance and a mutual understanding had landed them in bed when they had barely gotten past the initial pleasantries.
He sat up in bed, absently tugging the blanket up around his waist. He could feel the Professor's eyes on his back, and the question still lingered in the air, expectant. And Lucas said quietly, "I actually knew I was going to transfer out before we even left the site." He leaned back against the headboard, tilting his head back against the wall to look up at the ceiling. "I was thinking about it on the way back. And when we got back, I went home and started getting stuff taken care of."
"For you," Lucas shrugged, knowing full well that he was about to sound like some lovesick schoolgirl. "I—what happened between us while we were at the dig…there was no way I was going to forget it. Especially a certain couple of nights." No elaboration needed there. "But you were right, no matter how much I hated it. If someone had found out, it would have ruined you. And I couldn't let that happen, no matter what. So I did what made sense to me at the time." He looked down at the Professor now, unsure of what he would see in the man's face. "I ran."
To his surprise, there was no anger there. Just a tinge of that same sadness, like what he had heard in the man's voice when he had asked that question, and almost a sort of relief at the answer. "Why didn't you say anything?" Leighton asked, then winced and murmured an unconscious echo of Lucas' earlier thoughts, "I sound like some sort of lovesick fool…"
Lucas grinned, although the word 'lovesick' did cause an odd little flutter. "Because I was afraid that you might try to stop me. And because I didn't think that I would be able to go through with it if you did try to stop me. So I went for the clean break, and just hoped that eventually you would understand." The grin softened to a softer smile. "I did miss you a lot, though. The other professors weren't as awesome as you, and they didn't have comfortable couches in their office. I couldn't find anywhere to study."
"I'm glad to see I have a niche to fill," Leighton murmured.
"…are you angry?" Lucas asked after a moment.
"…I was," Leighton admitted. "More upset, really." He sounded like he didn't want to really be discussing this, not that Lucas blamed him. And his next quick words confirmed it. "But might-have-been's don't mend the broken pot, as they say. No sense in lingering on it."
Lucas slid back down under the blankets and turned to lay on his stomach, pressing a kiss to the back of Leighton's bare shoulder before leaning his cheek there. One hand began tracing invisible patterns on warm skin. "I'm sorry. But I'm also not. Because I know I did the right thing."
A sigh, a murmur, and a long silence spent curled like that. Lucas closed his eyes and drifted a bit, simply enjoying the sound of the man's breathing. He had officially become one of those morons you always saw in trashy romance novels, people who threw away everything for love and refused to believe or acknowledge that something might not be possible.
…but he was also no longer bothered by the fact that he admitted to loving the man lying beside him.
"I was thinking about something." Leighton spoke up so suddenly that Lucas nearly jumped.
"What?" he asked, lifting his head.
"…about Professor Layton. Hershel Layton, I mean," the Professor said, shifting to fold his arms against the pillow and rest his chin on them. "And his apprentice, Luke. And the things you told me regarding the dreams you'd had about them."
Ah, yes, the dreams. The first step towards what now was. "What about them?"
"Well, if we are those two men," Leighton went on, "and mind you, I still think that is a bit hard to swallow, regardless of whether or not it explains everything. But if we are them, I can't help but wonder what they would think of things as they are now." There was no need to elaborate on what he meant by that; it was perfectly clear.
Lucas thought back to those dreams, to what he knew about Luke and what he felt from Luke and what he had gleaned from the boy's thoughts. And he closed his eyes and again let his cheek rest against the Professor's shoulder. "I think I told you this already, but Luke thought the world of Layton. He really loved the man."
"He was a child."
"Puppy love doesn't hurt any less than quote-unquote 'real' love, Professor," Lucas pointed out. "Just because it's not something adults take seriously doesn't mean that it's not a real feeling. It can still hurt a lot, sometimes even more."
"…is this the voice of experience?"
"I was in third grade, she was a fifth grader. Let's leave it at that."
"So in light of that," Lucas dragged the conversation back to the topic at hand, "I think Luke would be okay with all of this." That was an understatement, but Luke had also been probably thirteen years old when he had died, and so the chance of fantasy equaling reality was fairly well nigh. "I mean, he already lost the guy once. You know the saying about those who fail to learn from history, blah blah blah."
"You realize that that is an extremely misquoted line," Leighton said, for a moment slipping back into his Teacher Voice (which Lucas now found inexplicably hot). "What George Santayana actually wrote was 'Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.'"
"…at what head injury in my life did I decide that falling for a genius was a good idea?"
"I'm afraid I can't help you there."
"Anyway, what about Layton?"
"…I have no idea what Layton would have to say about it, to be frank," Leighton admitted after a long quiet moment. "I still don't believe this whole reincarnation nonsense—"
"—but for the sake of discussion, if you are the person that Luke would have grown up to become had he lived…" And it was there that the Professor trailed off, leaving the rest of the thought unvoiced. There was a moment of silence before he cleared his throat and shifted. "But again, a crush is merely that. A crush. An infatuation with someone he admired. Nothing more."
"You're going to tell me you have never had a crush on anyone ever, right?" Lucas teased, managing to roll Leighton onto his side so he could look at him properly.
"You talk too much, my boy."
It was then that Lucas decided he was feeling saucy again, and smirked. "I'm sorry. Is there something you'd rather I be doing with my mouth?" Oh, he was going straight to hell for this, he was sure he was.
Leighton's face went from normal to crimson in the time it took for Lucas to blink, his expression frozen. And there was another indication, also non-verbal, that this was not a bad idea at all. And for once, at long last, there really was no rush, no need to hurry.
Lucas smirked and pounced, rolling the man onto his back. "I see. Well, if you say so."
"I didn't say so."
"…just shut up, already."
No need to rush.
They had plenty of time.
PS. It's done it's done oh goodness it's done _ I really did have a good time with this story, and it's brought me over to Legal!Luke/Layton. Have mercy...oh! And I've been meaning to toss this out there, but I do have a mental theme song for this story. It's called "I've Been Here Before," and it's the second half of a two-song medley from the musical Closer Than Ever. You can give 'em both a listen on YouTube. I prefer the original cast recording :3
Thank you all for reading, and for your wonderful comments. Much love!