Professor Layton and the Rewritten Return ~ Part 18

"I've finished."

Hershel looked up from his paper, the cup of tea still at his lips. The gently rising curls of steam obscured his vision but he broke into a smile nonetheless. "Indeed?"

"Yes," said Clive. "It's done." He was leaning on the doorframe looking rather worse for wear, but there was a faint ghost of a smile playing at his lips.

"Do we get to see the finished project?" Hershel asked. He was rather curious to see how the whole contraption worked, after so long a production process. It had always struck him as almost ridiculously intricate, complete with working parts down to the last miniature. He wasn't sure, but he had a feeling that even the tiny ovens could yield even tinier pastries if one wished.

Clive hesitated for a few moments, lingering at the door, before he nodded slightly and straightened up. "Yes. Yes, of course. Come with me, professor. I have quite the sight to show you."

Hershel was intrigued and so he was unable to completely hide his haste, spilling a few drops of his tea as he set the cup down on its saucer and discarding the paper, unfolded, on the kitchen table. He followed Clive's shuffling footsteps back upstairs to the workroom, where Clive stopped quite suddenly, blocking Hershel from entering.

"Ah," said Clive. "I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, professor, but I would be much more at ease if you promised not to touch anything."

Hershel's eyebrows rose in slight surprise, but he nodded. "Yes, of course. No fear, my boy. I shan't go disturbing your fine work."

"Thank you." Clive pulled his arm back and Hershel was allowed entrance as the light flicked on. They approached the massive spread, Clive surveying it with the eye of the devil's advocate, while Hershel expressed nothing but appreciation. Clive was a perfectionist, it seemed, and it didn't surprise the professor in the slightest.

"This is wonderful, Clive," Hershel said, eyes running over the detailed models. "Truly wonderful."

"Is that so? Then I think you will enjoy this, professor." Clive stepped forward and slid a hand under the table, dextrous fingers searching for something unseen. Click! With a flip of the switch, the whole scene fell into motion. Rides spun round, bathed in the light of a hundred tiny streetlamps.

"Wonderful," Hershel said again. He wondered if Clive would be up to building a train set with him before catching himself. He scolded himself for the notion and went back to appreciating the miniature park. It really was very impressive; it belonged in an art gallery.

"Oh, I'm afraid we're not finished there," Clive replied, a hint of amusement sparking behind his tired eyes.

"No?" Hershel tore his eyes from the park to look at the sly face of the young man.

"No, there is one last thing you ought to see before I begin preparations for construction." Clive slipped from the professor's side and went back to the room's entrance. His hand danced over the lightswitch and everything seemed to go dark, if only for a moment. Then, Hershel's attention was drawn back to the park. He let out a very soft, very small but still completely audible gasp.

"Clive..." But he trailed off, at an utter loss for words. Every ride in the park was lit up, glowing warmly in the darkness, transforming it into a city of solid gold. The light flickered, dancing with the shadows and pulling the professor in. He had so lost himself in the beautiful model that he hadn't realized his nose was inches away from the park entrance until Clive put a guiding hand on his shoulder and pulled him back.

"My apologies," Hershel said quickly.

Clive just shrugged. "Given the circumstance, I think it is understandable. Don't worry, professor-when the real park is built, I'm more than willing to let you run about sticking your nose in various places."

Hershel was sure that Clive was mocking him, but his tone was devoid of the cruelty that always gave his dark humour away. Perhaps he was just tired.

"This is wonderful, Clive."

"Yes, professor, you've said that."

Again, Hershel couldn't be sure if Clive was amused or had simply ceased to function properly on the amount of sleep he must be getting. "I think it bears repeating."

Clive chuckled quietly. "Then I must thank you, I suppose. However, it is getting late and I must begin my work on organizing construction."

Hershel knew he was being dismissed, but he lingered. "I think that can wait for the morning, my boy," he pressed. Clive didn't fight him. He just glanced at the models, gave a nigh imperceptible nod, and cut the power to his park.

"Good night, Clive," Hershel called to the dark.

There was no answer, save for the soft thud of a body hitting a bed. Hershel smiled and left.