Title: A Gift Worth Giving
Fandom: Professor Layton
Characters: Luke, Layton
Prompt: #91: birthday
Word Count: 781 words
Rating: PG
Author's Notes: I do not own Professor Layton or his Top Hat of Awesome.
Summary: Luke learns that there are very specific occasions when a gentleman may refuse the request of a lady. This is one of those times.

When Luke and Layton were shown to their table at the restaurant, they noticed that there were balloons adorning the table beside theirs. They had cause to ask about them when Luke's eighteen year old feet (which were finally leaving the awkwardness of adolescence) caught on the chair leg of the elderly woman seated there, nearly knocking her over. He caught the chair before she fell, righted her quickly and apologized profusely.

Thankfully, she smiled and seemed unfazed. "Wouldn't be the first time I've been knocked over, young man, and it certainly won't be the last. But I do appreciate your concern. It's so lovely to see such a polite young man as yourself."

"Thank you," Luke smiled, and decided to go ahead and ask since the door was open. "So what brings a young lady like yourself out tonight?" he asked cheerfully. His grin was impish to show he meant no disrespect to the very elderly woman at the table.

She giggled, bringing one wrinkled hand to her cheek and blushing like a schoolgirl. "It's my ninetieth birthday today, young man. My family here has brought me out to celebrate," she gestured towards the others at the table - two younger couples, whom Luke assumed were her children and/or in-laws.

Behind Luke, Layton tipped his hat in respect. "Well, a very happy birthday to you, my dear lady, and many more to come, I'm sure." Luke knew the professor well enough to know that tone - it meant the professor was in all probability smiling broadly with that kind twinkle in his eye. Sure enough, the elderly woman tittered again and offered her thanks. A few more pleasant words were exchanged, and both parties returned to their respective meals.

It was quite some time later, after the last morsel had been plucked from their plates and the check had been settled with the waiter, Luke and Professor Layton prepared to leave. It was just as he was about to stand up that the birthday girl at the next table over tapped Luke on the shoulder. "Excuse me, but I have a question."

"Yes, ma'am?" Luke said politely - after all, a gentleman is always polite to a lady.

"Well, you're a handsome young man."

"Thank you," he said, feeling a bit of heat rising in his cheeks.

"And I was wondering if you'd be willing to take off your shirt for me. You know, as a birthday gift."

…for a moment, Luke actually forgot what breathing was. And thinking. That's how long it took him to process what he had just heard. He blinked a couple of times, startled. None of the professor's lectures and lessons on gentlemanly behavior had covered a request such as this. And of course, Layton was perfectly silent behind him.

"I…ah," Luke began, then tried again, "I'm afraid I'll have to decline. But I'll take it as a compliment. Thank you." A glance over his shoulder proved that the professor appeared to be biting his lip, most likely to keep from laughing, if the merry expression in his eyes was any indication.

"Oh, all right. Thought I might as well ask," she said, not looking terribly disappointed or surprised at his refusal. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. You two gentlemen have a lovely evening." They bid her the same, and escaped the restaurant. Neither spoke on their way out to the Laytonmobile, and it wasn't until after Layton had started the car that a word was said.

"You were laughing at me in there!" Luke said accusingly, though without malice.

"I'm afraid it was too amusing not to, my boy," Layton replied affectionately. "But your answer was fine. A gentleman does not refuse the request of a lady…provided that her request is reasonable. And I don't think she really expected you to say yes or do it. You made her smile on her birthday. That is sufficient."

Luke nodded. "I am perfectly content with that." He leaned back in his seat to settle in for the ride home as they stopped at a red light.

Just before the light turned green, another car pulled up beside them at the light, and the ninety-year-old woman from the restaurant stuck her head out. She was grinning. "Are you sure, young man? It's not too late!"

Luke couldn't help it - he laughed out loud. "I'm quite sure, but thank you!" Feeling impish, he blew her a kiss.

She laughed, and the two cars pulled away from the parking lot, going in opposite directions.

For a moment, the car was silent. Then…

"Professor, you are forbidden from telling Flora about this!"

"I make no promises, Luke."

PS. Best part of this? It's based on a true story. Happened to my coworker and her son. It was just so funny that I filed it away as a possible plunnie, and here it is. Thanks for reading! Much love!