AN: A really really long time ago, someone asked me for a fic. I finally finished it. It's long and Simon-centric and sort of angsty. I hope you enjoy it! I don't own Professor Layton. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!

Being

It had all started as an accident. A big unfortunate twist of fate that had changed everything.

Simon had been reading a book, one of his favorite ways to pass the time. But after a time, he had grown hungry and decided that he should go and find something to eat. He put the book back on the shelf and headed down to the pantry, intending to raid it for something simple, perhaps a sandwich.

He had picked up a knife with the intention of cutting some ham to make the aforementioned sandwich. But he glanced away for a split second, and that was all it took. He gasped as the knife slipped, and he winced as the blade slice right across the back of his hand. Instinct kicked in, and he grappled for a towel to put over the cut before he started bleeding everywhere—

Only to realize that there was no blood.

He stood there with the towel in his hand, staring at the gash on the back of his empty hand. He was not bleeding. Instead, there were actually sparks shooting out of his hand. The knife had been sharp, and the cut had gone deep. And instead of raw skin and blood, there appeared to be…

Wires.

Simon gaped at it, not exactly sure what to make of it. Why would there be wires under his skin? It was a puzzle unlike any he had ever encountered, even in a town that thrived as much on puzzles as St. Mystere did. And unlike the riddles and mind teasers that he and his fellow villagers tended to pass around, this one did not present a reasonable or clever answer.

He pondered over it for days, but the only answers he was coming up with were far fetched, not even remotely realistic. It was becoming an obsession. He needed an answer as to why the cut beneath the bandage on his hand seemed to indicate anything other than simple human injury.

His big break in the case came when he was out for a walk late one night. He could not sleep, due to the pressing need to find the answer to this riddle. It had been affecting him deeply, taking away his sleep and his appetite. So he left the manor and went down to the village, hoping that a walk in the night air would help him calm down and at least get some rest.

It was there that he spotted a man, a very suspicious looking man with a beard. This man seemed to be shoving Adrea (that was her name, wasn't it, the girl from the village who always stood and laughed at the man with the bad temper) into a large bag and slinging her over his shoulder. She was not moving.

Frowning, Simon followed quietly, taking great care not to be seen. What in the world was going on?

The man's trail led him to the tower in the middle of town. Simon paused, hesitated and shuddered as he looked up at the imposing structure. Everything in his body (whatever there was inside his body, at least) was telling him to flee from this place and not return. But, he realized, that probably meant that whatever it was that would explain the answer to his puzzle…

Was inside this tower.

Simon waited a few moments outside the tower's entrance. When he thought it might be safe, he cautiously crept inside, down a flight of stairs…and found himself in what appeared to be a workshop.

There were pictures of everyone in St. Mystere on one of the walls, and dozens of what looked like spare parts scattered around the room in the form of gears and rods and wires and other miscellaneous pieces that looked like machine parts. The man with the beard was nowhere in sight.

But most alarmingly, Adrea was slumped over a chair beside a table in the room. She was completely still, her eyes wide open and staring directly ahead. She looked dead, and it sent a chill through Simon.

Especially as he moved closer and realized that her back was open. It was like a panel, a door that someone had opened up, and inside were gears and rods and wires and machine parts, exactly like the ones thrown around the room.

Wires exactly like the ones he had seen inside himself when he had cut his hand several days prior.

It took a mere moment for everything to click into place, and with a strangled squawk, Simon fled the workshop. He did not stop running until he was safely back in the manor, up the stairs, and in his own room and his own bed with his head hidden under his blankets. But there was no sleep to be found for his walk in the town. He was wide awake now, and his mind was racing.

After a while, he felt himself calming down. And eventually, he was calm enough to get back out of bed and creep down the stairs to the kitchen once again. He had avoided this place ever since that fateful moment with the knife. Now he just sat on one of the stools and stared off into space and just tried to think about what he had discovered.

Simon, like everyone else here, loved riddles and puzzles. To solve riddles and puzzles, one must take the few clues given in the telling of the story, and put them together to reach an answer that did not always seem rational or realistic. In this case, the conclusion he had reached was neither of those things. But it was the only solution that fit with all the pieces of the puzzle that he had.

Adrea was a robot.

The wires he had seen inside her were identical to the ones he had found beneath his own skin when he had cut his hand. He had also not bled after cutting himself.

Which meant that he, Simon, was a robot as well.

And on the walls in that odd, awful little workshop were pictures, a photo of every person in the town, or so it appeared. What other reason would there be for those pictures to be there unless everyone in the town had a connection to that workshop? Like, say, perhaps…

Being built there?

There were all robots. Every single person in the village of St. Mystere was simply a creation, something not human, yet built by a human hand. Possibly by the bearded man he had seen.

Simon got up from his stool and started pacing back and forth around the kitchen, a nervous habit. But after a moment he stopped and thought about it. Why did he do that? How had he acquired that kind of habit? If he was a robot, then did it not stand to reason that more or less everything he did was simply part of his programming?

The realization was enough to make him drop back onto that stool, yet he kept thinking it over.

His love of reading. His poor eyesight. His personality. If he was a robot, then everything he was, all of his likes and dislikes and the way he was were all part of his creation. Someone had made him like that, shaping him to suit their ideas of what he should be…

A human someone.

Simon could not shake the thought. He thought about the tangerine he had eaten earlier that day. He had always had a fondness for the taste of them. But given what he now knew, his like for the fruit was not real, but programmed. And goodness, even the fact that he could taste the tangerine was fake. It was a falsehood. Merely circuitry, configured to tell whatever it was inside him that acted as his brain that the fruit tasted the way it did and that it was pleasing.

It made his head hurt.

Even something as simple as a headache served only to remind him that someone had gone to great lengths to ensure that he seemed human and thought of himself as such. He kept going in circles. Every thought that passed through his mind (or whatever it was that passed for a mind), every feeling that made its way through his fingertips, every sound that serenaded his ears…

It was all fake. Someone else's design and programming.

They were all the same in that respect.

Simon looked out the window and sighed. It would do no good to share his discovery with any of the others. Such knowledge would only cause panic and fear, and Simon liked to think that he was still, if nothing else, logical. There was no reason to cause any sort of mass hysteria like that.

Yet at the same time, he was not certain that he could really keep this to himself. It was too big and too much for one person to keep as a secret. To know that none of them were truly human was almost like a responsibility, one that weighed heavy on the shoulders of the one who had discovered it.

But what could he do?

It was a question that Simon pondered long into the night.

And it was only as the first faint light of dawn began to peek over the walls of St. Mystere that he decided on an answer. He had a course of action, one that would take care of the problem facing him.

As long as it worked.

-o-

Bruno couldn't believe his eyes or his ears as Simon stood before him, sullen and withdrawn.

He had programmed all of the robots with an innate fear of the tower to keep them away from his workshop as a means of protecting himself, Flora, and the village's great secret. In the end, though, he had been seen and discovered. If Simon broke the story and shared the secret of the villagers' true nature, then there would be precious little he could do to repair the damage.

"You are the one who made us?" Simon asked.

Bruno did not answer.

Simon sighed and seemed to square his shoulders before lifting his chin and speaking again, surprising his creator with a request framed as a statement, almost an order.

"Reprogram me. I don't want to know about it."

Ignorance is ultimately bliss, Simon had decided.

It was easier to just be.