Title: Competition
Author: Amm (SoulSeeker)
Fandom: Professor Layton: From the streets of St. Mystere to the luxury of the Molentary Express—just how far will Luke and Layton go to find puzzles? Follow their adventures, and try not to let the murder you're investigating distract you from solving the puzzles EVERYONE will throw at you.
Wordcount: 1,560
Taunt: My fandom is worth more Picarats than you will ever earn. Ever.

"It's rather embarrassing, isn't it, professor?" Luke asked, with a child-like innocence. "She's been staying in the room right next to ours, the whole time, and neither of us noticed!"

"Indeed, Luke," Layton replied, in an uncomfortable sigh. "But...perhaps we shouldn't dwell on it."

"I suppose not. I just find it hard to believe is all..."

Flora was giggling as she trailed behind the two, listening to them converse. She wasn't sure if she should feel guilty, for hiding the fact that she, too, was on the Molentary Express—or proud, that she had managed to elude the brilliant professor and his apprentice. Either way, though, she felt a certain relief, not having to hide from them anymore. In hindsight, she couldn't even remember why she felt the need to in the first place. Maybe she just didn't want to burden them. Maybe she didn't want to feel fragile, or too dependent on them to take care of her.

Whatever it was, though, she wasn't worried anymore. They were like family, and she really felt like she belonged, just as her father had hoped. Combine that with the fact that she was on the most luxurious, beautiful train she had ever seen? Well, she wouldn't hesitate to say she was the happiest girl on earth.

"Ah, here we are then," the professor announced, finally stopping. "This is us."

Strolling through the all the train cars, seeing the pretty paintings and lavish decorations really made the walk back to the room in Car 3 seem longer than it really was. But they had finally made it back for well deserved rest, after all the fuss Tom caused.

"Oh—I nearly walked past it!" Luke said jokingly, in a laugh. He turned around quickly, and his eyes wandered to the door next to theirs. "So that must be your room then, right, Flora?"

The young girl nodded, shyly smiling. It was the room they had passed not moments before, she realized.

"That's right. But...I'd love to see yours first."

"Oh, but of course, dear." Layton had unlocked the door by that point, and replied before Luke had even gotten a chance to. "I insist. Though I wouldn't think the room would be any different from your own. Do come in."

The professor walked in first, with Luke and Flora following closely behind him. She shut the door and immediately began to look around, examining the room—giggling, as she saw Luke's things scattered about, his trunk still open. Silently, she wondered when the professor would bother him about it. But she didn't say anything.

"So, what do you think?" Luke asked her with a grin. "The same as yours, I suppose, isn't it?"

"Similar," Flora replied curtly, smiling back. "In my room, the couch is actually...over there. My bed is over on the other side, and...my sheets are a little different, I think." She continued looking about, imagining her own room for the brief moment as she did so. "This room is certainly lovely, though. I especially love these roses here!"

Her attention had turned to the vase on the small coffee table at the center of the room, which was adorned with the beautiful flowers. They had caught Layton's attention as well: he looked at them with interest and thoughtfully put a hand on his chin, in his usual gentlemanly manner.

"Ah, yes. I'm quite fond of them myself," he commented with a nod. "They do smell nice, don't they?"

"They look nice, too," Flora added, stroking one of the buds gently. The petals were soft, and she could tell they must've been well taken care of.

"Indeed." The professor then cast a critical eye over to the couch, where Flora had just noticed Luke's trunk; his belongings, cluttered on the couch. "But it's a shame that a certain someone's mess in the room rather detracts from their beauty."

"H-huh?!" Luke's reaction was immediate—and so was Flora's giggling, when she saw that innocent look on his face. It was contagious, too: the professor was soon smiling, chuckling a little as well, and it didn't take Luke long to figure out what they were talking about. He scratched his head, looking quite embarrassed as he spoke: "Oh...er, yeah, I suppose I should put my stuff back in my trunk, huh..."

"That would be wise," Layton replied authoritatively. "A gentleman always keeps a tidy room, especially in the presence of a lady."

"Oh, all right, professor. I'll do it now," the young boy grumbled—and he looked at his belongings with dread.

A sigh escaped his lips as he began to gather his various things, tossing them hastily in his trunk. Flora watched him. In went his many, many books, his teddy bear, his harmonica; in went the camera, and the pan and the spatula, though she couldn't help but wonder why he would need them: the food on the Molentary Express was quite popular, and there was no need to cook for oneself. Luke, she could tell, was beginning to wonder the same thing. His trunk had simply refused to close.

First, it was the handle of the pan. It wasn't big deal: he just moved some things around and made it fit, albeit rather crudely. Then it was the arm of his teddy bear, which he didn't want to damage; so he shifted things around again. Then it was the spatula here, the strap of his camera there...

"Agh! I just don't get it. I don't know how I ever managed to fit everything in here in the first place. I remember it was tight fit, but gosh—" He pounded lightly on the lid in frustration, hoping that it might help. But it didn't seem to make a difference.

Layton was studying him, seeming amused at his efforts. They were both watching Luke now, in fact, as he rearranged the objects again and again, and trying each time in vain to close the lid. He groaned, and the professor seemed surprisingly reluctant to help him.

"Yes," he finally said, very matter-of-factly. "It would appear getting everything to fit in your trunk is a puzzle in itself."

"Oh, come now, it can't be all that bad." Flora tried to be positive, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder encouragingly as she looked at all the various items he had to deal with. "What have you got there?"

"I warned him to pack lightly," the professor chimed in, before he could answer.

Luke just scratched his head, murmuring: "I just...wasn't sure what we would need is all."


There was a moment of silence as Flora thoughtfully placed a hand over her chin, gently rubbing it. Her eyes narrowed, and her head tilted to the right and left as she began to pack in Luke's things one by one. The big things first—then the smaller things last to fill in the gaps. Just the way one ought to handle 3-D puzzles. Clearly, she was focused. Deep in thought, taking things in and out: not a single sound interrupted her as she worked, and Layton realized he knew that look all too well. He chuckled.

"Well, would you look at that! Luke," he said, placing a hand on his apprentice's head. "It would appear you've got some puzzle-solving competition on your hands."

"Competition?" he repeated, a tad bewildered. His attention suddenly turned to Flora, just in time to see her slam down the trunk's lid with a smile. "Ah—!"

"There! That ought to do it," she announced proudly and suddenly. She brushed what seemed to be imaginary dirt off her hands, and gave the trunk a firm pat, smiling at the two with a look of satisfying victory. It was closed at last. They could only stare at her, baffled, until Luke actually gave her a light applause.

"Marvelous!" he exclaimed, looking impressed as he examined the trunk. "Not a a single thing sticking out. You're good, Flora!"

"Quite impressive. And in record time, too," the professor added; and he continued jokingly: "I suppose I'll have to think of twice as many puzzles now, for the both of you."

"And I'll have to work twice as hard on them." Luke folded his arms and looked at Flora with a determined grin, as if to say 'I challenge you.'

"O-or half as hard," she corrected, a bit hesitantly, picking up on this vibe. "After all, this is more like a partnership than a competition, isn't it, Luke?"

The boy frowned, raising an eyebrow; he supposed she had a point there. He placed a hand on his chin as he pondered this. "But... but it's puzzle solving," he said finally, almost decisively. "It'll always feel like a competition to me. Right, professor?"

"I'm afraid that's just how he is, Flora," Layton nodded in agreement.

Men and their competitions, Flora laughed, shaking her head, and couldn't help but roll her eyes just a little bit. She supposed she didn't have a choice but to accept this 'challenge' of theirs, if she was going to continue travel with them. It was just like Luke to think that way, too, she realized; and just like the professor to encourage it, as his mentor. Competition was healthy after all, and it could bring out the best in people.

Maybe it could do the same for her.

A/N: Aagh, finally! My first fanfic for the Layton fandom. This one's actually been about 90 percent done for over a month now, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to end it properly _ I was pretty close to just putting "AND THEY ALL LIVED CANONICALLY EVER AFTER THE END" ...or something. Haha.

But anyway, I hope you enjoyed it. This makes fandom number 11 for my 100FandomHell challenge, in which I am crazy and attempt to write one hundred different drabbles/shorts for one hundred different fandoms. Thanks for reading XD;