AN: LOOK, AN UPDATE. THIS IS THE AUTHOR'S NOTE. AND THIS IS A DISCLAIMER (I don't it). AND LOOK, A CHAPTER TITLE. AMAZINGNESS!
Delays and Decisions
In the days following the raid on the abandoned building, a great many facts came to light.
Once ensconced in police custody, the kidnappers were falling all over themselves to offer up information and make a deal and rat out their companions to save their own skins. Though everyone's stories were slightly different so as to be self-serving, the interviewing officers managed to piece the story together and gain the truth of what had happened to Luke in the intervening months.
The plan itself walked the knife-edge between being brilliant and being insane. The kidnappers had heard of Luke Triton via his association with his esteemed mentor, one Professor Hershel Layton. They knew that Layton himself was a man of means, and it only took a small amount of digging to learn that Luke himself came from a wealthy family. With this information in hand, they began to form a plan.
…and then Luke moved overseas. For a moment it seemed their plan was for nothing, until they realized that this could potentially work to their advantage. So they altered their plans, and set about putting that plan into motion, a plan that Chelmey actually stated was the most ludicrously genius thing he'd ever heard.
The motive, obviously, was money. After following Luke across the water, they waited for the right chance. On a night when Luke's father was not home, one of them snuck into Luke's room and waited for the young man to return. When he did, they made the grab. Luke was small and they had the element of surprise. It wasn't hard to overwhelm the boy, render him unconscious, and take him out the window to their waiting vehicle.
Having done this, they made the ransom demand and waited for payment. Sure enough, Luke's father coughed up the cash. As to how they picked it up without being seen, it was probably the most brilliant part of the plan - one of the men worked in the locker area where the money was dropped off. He had gone into the space behind the lockers and removed the ransom money through a false back in the locker. He left the message in its place, and they were off to the next phase of their plan - sneaking Luke out of the country and returning him to London.
Why so extreme? Simple, to their minds. Two ransoms instead of one. Obviously Luke's parents would pay for his safe return. Everything they knew of Professor Layton said that he would pay to ensure his former apprentice's safe return. They needed Luke with them in the probable case that Layton demanded some sort of evidence of their claims. They got a friend who captained a large fishing boat in on the plot, and used his vessel for the journey.
By the time Luke had been permitted to regain consciousness (having been kept heavily sedated for ease of holding and transport), he was on a boat bound for the country of his birth with no means of escape. He really had no option but to cooperate with his captors.
It was here, though, that Luke realized that his captors were actually not the brightest crayons in the tool shed. So he decided to see if he could use that fact to his advantage, and did something he had never done before in his life: he played dumb. He went along with everything, and acted as though he didn't have two brain cells to rub together.
At first, they harmed him. He was bound, restrained, and beaten more than once. Once they realized that he had no intention of fighting them, he became a sort of cabin boy - he did as he was told. Eventually, they came to the conclusion that his reputation as Layton's apprentice had been greatly exaggerated, that Luke was an idiot. That was how he wanted it. He couldn't do anything as the situation was now, but he could wait and bide his time and take the chance when it arose.
And it did arise, after they made landfall on English shores. They came up on the far side, getting as close to London as they could. He waited for a moment when their attention was elsewhere (not difficult, as they now believed him a fool), and he made a break for it. They were close enough to London by this point that he could head straight for the city. And if he made it into the city, then his chances were good. He could lose them in the crowd, and then make his way to Layton's home. Layton would help him, no question about it.
But it was on the outskirts of the city that disaster struck. It had started raining, and in his haste, Luke made what he would much later look back on as a very silly mistake. He slipped on some wet grass, and fell into a shallow ditch, striking his head hard enough to render him unconscious. The ditch was deep enough to hide him from his pursuers' eyes, so he lay there until he woke up again.
By the time he woke up, it was night. He was completely soaked. And he had no idea who or where he was. So he began to wander, and only stopped when he found a place that looked familiar - the brownstone building where Layton lived and kept office. The rest, as they say, is history.
Initially, the kidnappers were unaware that there was anything wrong with their young victim. They assumed that he had already told Layton everything. But when nothing happened, they began to conduct their own investigation, and through some legwork, they were able to discover the truth of the matter: Luke had no recollection whatsoever of his harrowing weeks spent on board a boat with no one but his kidnappers for company. Which meant that for the moment, they were safe from any accusation. The plan could still work. And if Layton was actually a witness to Luke's kidnapping, all the better - he would be much more likely to pay, they decided.
The difficulty was getting to Luke. For that, a bit more legwork gave them the good doctor and his beloved grandchild, an easy weakness to exploit. Upon entering the house and finding two children in residence, they took their plan to the next level and decided that two ransoms were better than one - or rather, three were better than two, if one counted the ransom paid by Luke's anxious parents back overseas.
Once they had collected the ransom, they had every intention of releasing Luke in London and making their escape on the boat, headed for parts unknown. All they wanted was the money, and once they had it, they had no further interest in the boy. Murder was not something they were eager to add to their resumes. At least, not until the tables turned, and one of them decided that a knife to Luke's throat was an acceptable threat to make in the face of police.
But the ploy had failed due to a few ill-timed comments reaching Doctor Kelly's ears and the quick actions of law enforcement. Now the kidnappers were cooling their heels in a jail cell, awaiting their fate on both sides of the ocean.
And as for their victims…
"You're sure you're all right?" Layton asked again.
Flora managed a ghost of a smile, the expression out of place on her pale face. "I'll be fine, Professor. They didn't harm me, so please don't worry." One hand moved to tug weakly at the blanket that the nurse had tucked around her in the bed. "I'm just tired. I'll feel much better when I can go home." That last was said with a slight wistfulness in her voice.
The Professor sighed. "The doctors want you to rest here tonight. I'll bring you home first thing in the morning." Though Flora was injured by her own account, by Luke's, and by the hospital's medical staff, they asked her to remain overnight for observation, assuring her that it was a formality and she would be released into her guardian's care come the dawn.
She nodded. "I understand." She shifted slightly under the blanket and swallowed hard. "Professor, how is Luke?" her voice shook ever so slightly. "He…they beat him. Badly. He was in a lot of pain."
Thinking of the abbreviated report the doctors had given him regarding Luke's condition made Layton's stomach do a very unpleasant backflip, but he kept himself in check. "His injuries are more severe than yours, but nothing life threatening. He will recover. More importantly, he seems to be well on the way to recovering the memories he lost."
Layton had stopped in to see his former apprentice. Considering the injured ribs and the multitude of other small but painful injuries (including some which had been inflicted long before he had even set foot onto English soil), it was no surprise that the color had drained from the young man's face. There was every indication that he had been beaten, and bruises on his wrists that were testaments to his bound state. There was one bruise that even seemed more like he had been hit with something long and thin, and two imprints in his back that bore the telltale sign of boot treads. The kidnappers, all grown men, had gone out of their way to harm and terrorize the bound, helpless child in their hands.
But more importantly (and perhaps more disturbingly), Luke's mind was attempting to assimilate its newly-recovered memories, and it was neither easy nor pleasant to watch. It was like watching someone in the throes of a violent nightmare, but his eyes were open and he was wide awake. He thrashed and moaned and said things that seemed nonsense to everyone but him…
But he had looked at Layton and called him Professor, and the light was back in his eyes. And the doctor's assured him that this phase would be short-lived and when it was over, he would be fine and in possession of his normal mind.
Thus reassured, he went to see Flora. He would go back to Luke's bedside later, when things had calmed down a bit. He sat with Flora as she gave her testimony to Inspector Chelmey, who actually seemed a bit tickled that she had clocked that kidnapper in the nose. He assured her that the man was nursing a very pretty bruise as a result of her handiwork, a complement that made her smile and blush.
Eventually, it was time to go back and see how Luke was getting along. Layton paused outside the door and took a deep breath before entering. The nurse had told him that Luke's "episodes" had more or less passed, but Layton was still a bit uncertain about what he would see when he walked in.
What he saw was Luke sitting up in the bed, leaning back heavily against two thick pillows. One arm was draped loosely, protectively across his torso where his injured ribs were bandaged. His eyes were glued to the sky beyond the open window. He looked pale, drawn, and exhausted; his expression was distant.
When Layton approached the bed, Luke turned and looked at him. "Professor…" he murmured. A strange look glimmered into his eyes, and he turned his head away again. "I…you should leave. Now."
Startled, Layton came closer. "Why do you want me to-" His voice trailed off as he realized what the look in Luke's eyes were: tears.
Tears that he was desperate to hide from his former mentor, so much so that he nearly caused himself further injury by burrowing under the blankets in a hurry with no thoughts for his injured ribs. He let out a hiss of pain, but he didn't stop until only the top of his head was visible under the sheets.
"Luke…" Layton stopped by the bed and reached out to put a hand on Luke's back over the blankets. "It's all right."
"A gentleman doesn't behave like this," came the muffled, hoarse reply. "You said so."
"There are exceptions to every rule, my boy," Layton said. "You've nothing to be ashamed of."
There was a moment where neither made a sound. Then a quiet sob came from under the blankets. It took surprisingly little effort to get Luke to emerge from his cocoon of bedding and let himself be carefully folded into the Professor's arms as weeks' worth of fear and pain and uncertainty came out all at once, inflaming Luke's ribs and soaking the shoulder of Layton's suit jacket.
Oddly enough, neither of them minded a whit.
True to their word, the doctors released Flora the morning after the incident. Luke was to remain for another four days for observation and further questioning. Eventually, with the blessing of Inspector Chelmey, the young man was also released from the hospital into Professor Layton's care. He said little, and spent a great deal of time sleeping. Flora fretted at how much weight he was losing (he was already so thin) and how little he spoke (he was saying less now than he had when he'd been without his memories).
Such was the state of affairs when a knock came on the front door of the Layton household one cloudy morning. It was Chelmey, accompanied by two familiar faces.
"Clark. Brenda," Layton said, greeting his old friends and quickly ushering his three visitors inside. "I wish we were meeting again under better circumstances. Luke is in the study."
He, Chelmey, and Flora made themselves scarce for the parent-child reunion, excusing themselves to the kitchen for a cup of tea and an update from Chelmey about the ongoing investigation into the kidnapping. There was no question of guilt, but two police forces on opposite sides of an ocean were communicating and making sure every possible duck was lined up in a neat row before they began their formal proceedings.
It was some time before they were summoned from the kitchen. They were staying at a hotel nearby, and wanted to take Luke with them, to catch up. Although Layton felt a bit uneasy about letting Luke out of his sight (an understandable feeling, he decided, given the circumstances), he really had no actual recourse for denying them. After all, they were his parents, and he was just as safe with them as he was here, if not moreso.
Still, it was not easy for him to watch Luke hobble carefully to the street and climb into the waiting car. Layton sighed and resigned himself to having to say goodbye to Luke again when he inevitably returned to his new home with his parents.
For a time, Luke felt like he was two people living inside one mind. There were two sets of memories, two sets of sensations, two sets of feelings and thoughts, and two almost entirely different personalities that were attempting to assimilate within his head. It was exhausting and frustrating and for a time, he was certain that he would go mad.
The hour or so he had spent curled up in the safety of Professor Layton's embrace while he cried out his fears and frustrations and all the pent-up emotions of this whole ordeal had done wonders for how he felt. When his parents had wanted to take him with them, his first instinct had been to protest. He did not want to leave the brownstone. Being here with Layton was safe, familiar, the place where he felt the most comfortable. But…well, they were his parents. So he stayed silent and went with them to the hotel.
All of their questions were more or less what he expect - how did he feel, what had happened, how badly had they hurt him, and the like. He bore it all, and eventually started to relax. These were his parents. They loved him, they had been worried sick about him, and now they had him back safely, having dropped everything to rush back to England for him. And he had missed them without even knowing who they were.
Luke's injuries were painful enough that Clark and Brenda decided not to attempt a return trip until he was in better shape. He spent most of his time with them, safe and comfortable, and actually dreading the day when he was deemed well enough to travel.
Shortly before the time the Triton family was scheduled to board the ship for home, Brenda appeared once more at the Layton household. She asked Layton if he might have a moment of time that he could spare to speak with her.
She had a favor to ask of him.
PS. This is what we in the biz call the penultimate chapter. There will be one more part to wrap this story up, and then it will finally be put to rest. I really wanted to give Brenda and Clark a bigger part in the story, but I haven't actually seen them in game, and so I do not know their characters. I hope you'll tune in for the final chapter. Thanks for reading, all! Much love!