AN: I thought I should clear something up here, now that I think about it, since someone asked me when I was posting this on LiveJournal. The question was how I knew what drug addiction and withdrawal felt like. The short answer: I don't. The long answer: I chose a drug (opium), and I started doing research on it, and I wrote based on my research. That's all there is to it. So don't worry!
And this will conclude the story. I hope you enjoyed it, and thank you for taking the time to read. I don't own Layton. Much love, all!
Part III: Abstain
The next day brought more of the same, and the day after that.
The spasms, the twitching, the muscles that burned beneath the skin…
This will pass.
Luke vaguely remembered Layton telling him that he had notified Luke's school that he would not be attending his classes for at least a few days, citing illness. One of his classmates would bring his books and assignments by later, and they would be made up immediately, Layton said. He had a way of making the most unpleasant orders sound like cakewalks, when he so chose.
But schoolwork was the furthest thing from Luke's mind, pushed to the side by far more important things. Although it did make him wonder what would happen when he did go back and his friends were there. He couldn't go with them again, not after all this. And the Professor…
No. He was just going to have to find a way around it. He had already disappointed the Professor in a way he had never thought possible, and he never wanted to see that look directed his way again. Nor did he want to have to endure anything like what the last few days had brought down on him.
…no matter how much some small part of him still longed desperately for that warm, uncaring envelope of happiness that the drugs brought him.
The sky beyond his window was dark when Luke once again opened his eyes. How long had he been asleep? The last thing he could remember at all was feeling so exhausted that he could barely move, yet his body was still twitching and jerking; at that point, he just wanted to lose consciousness. If he didn't wake up again, that was fine with him.
But it seemed that he had. And some kind soul had been good enough to pull a blanket over him and turn the lights off and close the door to protect him from the rest of the world.
…had he really been bedridden like this for days? It seemed more like years.
He sat up and moved his legs over the edge of the bed; his movements were slow, as though he was moving through water. When he stood, he took a moment to steady himself, but was relieved to find that his feet stayed solidly beneath him. He took the blanket with him, holding it around his shoulders and gathering it up around his arms so it wouldn't drag quite so much on the ground behind him.
As he made his way out into the hallway, he heard the clock chime once. It was one o'clock in the morning already? The Professor probably wasn't still up, but still, there had been times when he had gotten wrapped up in this or that or the other thing, or he'd had something on his mind, and had spent many an early morning hour sitting at his desk.
If nothing else, Luke realized belatedly that he was hungry. He really hadn't eaten much in the last few days. The introduction of food sent his stomach into a downward drop, so he had been loathe to eat. But now his stomach was growling, and he felt steady enough to manage something small. Then back to bed. It was Sunday morning now, and he was to go back to school on Monday. Best to be well rested.
But to his surprise, there was a light flickering in the office. He hesitated, then walked to the door and peered in. Sure enough, Layton was sitting at his desk, bending over several pieces of paper. He looked tired, and kept rubbing at his eyes; his hat was absent. It made Luke wonder how much actual work Layton had put aside to keep an eye on him, and the thought sent a shiver of guilt through him. For a moment, he entertained the idea of turning around and going straight back to bed.
But it was no good. Layton must have sensed his presence or heard him breathing, and glanced up. He was startled when the Professor actually smiled at him. "Good morning," he said. "Welcome back to the waking world, my boy."
In spite of it all, Luke managed a tentative smile in return. "Still awake?"
"I'm just catching up on some work," Layton said, confirming Luke's suspicion. "How are you feeling?"
"Better…" he said honestly, moving into the office and sinking into the chair on the opposite side of the desk. A few days ago, he had been sitting here for a confrontation that had nearly cost him everything. Now he sat here, trying to figure out how to apologize. He'd had a strange, fever-induced dream a couple of nights ago in which he had said he was sorry, but dreams were a far cry from reality.
"There is something on your mind," Layton said. It was not a question.
Luke nodded. "Professor…" he hesitated, then decided it was best to just say it. "…I'm sorry."
"Accepted," Layton said. He set the papers aside and leaned his elbows on the desk, hands clasped in front of him. "I was intending to wait on this discussion until tomorrow, but now seems as good a time as any." He sighed, seemed to collect his thoughts, and then regarded Luke with a look that was more sad than anything else. "I think it goes without saying, Luke, that I am very disappointed in you."
"Yes, sir…" He rarely called the Professor by anything so formal, but now seemed appropriate.
"You did something that you had to know was not a good idea. You put your own health at risk, potentially your life. You yelled at me when I asked you if anything was wrong, and then lied to my face when I asked if there was anything going on," Layton tallied off the points one by one. "I do not appreciate being lied to, my boy. Nor do I enjoy worrying that someone important to me is going to succumb to something like that."
"I screwed up," Luke said as he looked down. He noticed absently that the mess had been cleaned up. The opium was gone, and so were the broken shards of the syringe he had used.
"That is one way to put it, Luke," the Professor said.
After a beat, Luke asked the question he was almost afraid to know the answer to. "Would you really have thrown me out, Professor?"
"…I don't know. I might have." Layton was quiet a moment, then asked, "Luke, do you know what they say about trust?"
Luke thought about it for only a second before he replied, already knowing that it was the right answer. "Yes, sir…it can take a very long time to build, but it can be destroyed in a minute. And rebuilding it can take even longer."
"Correct," Layton said. "And right now, Luke…I do not trust you. And I think it hurts you as much to hear that as it hurts me to say it." When Luke nodded, Layton went on, "However, as you said, it can be rebuilt. And since you are the perseverent type, it will be rebuilt. All of it."
It did hurt to hear it said like that, but at the same time, it gave Luke hope. "I will regain your trust, sir."
"Good to hear," Layton said approvingly. "I would like to start by issuing a small ultimatum. Given the circumstances and what little you were able to tell me during moments of coherency, I think it would be best if you started coming straight home from school. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir." If anything, Luke was actually grateful for that. It gave him an excuse to avoid certain people.
"Excellent. In the morning, I think we should get your schoolwork finished. No sense in falling any further behind than is absolutely necessary," Layton punctuated that last with a sizable yawn.
Luke actually smiled. "It's already morning, Professor. Maybe we should get some sleep?"
"That is a splendid idea," Layton said. While he shuffled a few things on the desk, Luke rose and headed for the door. He was nearly out of the room when he heard the Professor say, "Luke."
He stopped and turned. "Yes?"
Layton had an odd look on his face. He seemed to hesitate for a moment before he walked around the desk, up to his apprentice…and hugged him. Luke was startled, but did not resist. It was actually really nice, to be honest. "Professor?"
"…I don't hate you," Layton said.
Those four words were enough to silence that one little voice still niggling in the back of Luke's mind, a worry that felt like it had come from a dream (as odd as that seemed). He let himself relax completely into the hug. "Thank you, Professor."