"Thanks for meeting me here on such short notice, Hershel."

It was a lovely afternoon. The sun had reached its peak in the sky, the breeze carried the scent of fresh grass, and a lake bubbled in the distance. For once, I might have felt relieved to be outside- away from the dim lights of laboratories, struggling to perfect contraptions whose purpose I could never seem to determine. Away from on looking Professors, who surveyed my every move. Away from all the pressure.

But this- this I could not seem to get away from.

"No, it's my pleasure."

I remember seeing the look of glee on his face. The look of childish glee, outlined by his large complexion and chubby cheeks, complimented by a magenta that coated the outermost points. And yet, with this childish façade, he still managed to have an aura of ignorant confidence as his gaze was drawn into her eyes. I did catch a twiddle of his fingers at his sides, though, but I was in no position for grinning.

I kept my distance, not wanting to intervene. Out of trepidation or fear I was unsure, though with all my willpower I couldn't seem to move my feet. I was forced to stay put, as I became the audience to the scene that would inevitably ruin my life.

Claire…

I remembered seeing her face for the first time, years ago. When Gresshenheller University was merely a block of clay, begging to be molded by its newest set of attendees. I was only twenty-four then. We were attending a standard Quantum Mechanics class when I first saw her.

She introduced herself as Claire. And as soon as I saw her face I knew I was in love.

It had been years since then. And I had never acquired the guts to tell her how I felt. We had even barely spoken to each other, save the first day when the entire class greeted her. I was rather content, watching from the shadows, though. She was simply beautiful. An intelligent, beautiful woman. I hadn't known much about love or affection, but every time I saw her face I felt a warming sensation bubble from my stomach to my cheeks, and it made me smile.

And then he came along.

Hershel Layton had arrived only two years ago, but somehow had made his way to the top. He was studying Archeology, as opposed to Claire and I, though he still managed to wiggle his way into our lives. He aped the part of a "gentleman" to win the hearts of just about every person he met. I knew though, I knew nobody could be so kind. It was all a clever bluff to get farther on his job easier. I hadn't any proof, but I knew.

At first, I thought he was a nuisance. But as time passed I realized he was a greater threat than I initially assumed. A much, greater threat.

It was one afternoon several months after he'd arrived. I had mustered up the courage to talk with Claire, regarding spending the afternoon with her on perhaps today or a later date. English Class was just ending, and we all gathered our things. Swallowing deeply, I caught her just outside the door.

"C-claire!" I began, sheepishly. When she turned to look at me my male hormones enveloped me and took control.

"Hi Paul!" She said, smiling as her golden-brown hair bounced. I blinked.

"Hi-hi. Listen, I uh," I punched myself internally. Words were spewing out and my lips felt flustered and dry. When I looked into Claire's eyes, they seemed positively distant, as if she could have cared less about what I was saying.

"…would you, maybe-" And as soon as I could locate the words, I was cut off by Claire's sudden turn. Her right heel kicked up playfully, as she clutched onto none other than Hershel Layton's vest. He seemed surprised, just proceeding to exit the room. She giggled sweetly and then wrapped her arms around one of his. And all I could do was observe.

"Listen, Paul, I'll talk to you later, okay? I need to talk to Hershel. You should call me, okay?" And without another word her head whipped back around and she disappeared behind the door, accompanying her – and I hadn't realized until now – date.

"Ca… Call you?" I said, confusion invading my thoughts as my arm reached out feebly in her direction.

It was then that my suspicions began as Hershel being a threat. Now I hadn't had a chance to confront her without that miraculously tanned-skin "gentleman" tagging along. The sight of him almost began to disgust me.

But, this. I never had imagined it would come to this.

I had just been passing along absentmindedly, out for a walk in the fresh air. As soon as I had seen the two, out in the open, I tensed- then fled to the backside of a nearby tree, thankfully without suspicion. I then became the prime eyewitness to the terrible occurrence that was happening to Claire before me.

Claire was dressed in a rather tight and flattering white lab coat, just having come out of a more scientific-oriented class, I presumed. Her glasses slid clumsily to the end of her nose, one of the many cute traits that I came to appreciate about her. Hershel was wearing a suit that resembled that of a golfer, portraying a color scheme of red and white. They didn't even look similar, why they should have been together was bewildering.

Claire then pulled out a letter. Not an ordinary letter, but one dyed in a rosy pink and embedded with a bright red heart. The obviousness of what she was trying to do was almost devastating.

She brought it up to mid-waist, in front of Hershel.

"Here, this is for you."

My heart stopped. I was fixed in place behind this terribly small tree.

"What is it?"

Hershel's reply made the words WHAT A DIMWIT flash infinitely in my mind. Claire seemed to find it amusing though, giggling and cocking her head as her curls coiled.

"A letter, of course. Read it at home."

My hands began to creep up the tree, towards my face. I felt my jaw turn stiff, and my head shook back and forth, rejecting the situation as if she could change her mind now.

"Why don't you just tell me what it says?"

My teeth clenched and subconsciously my face fell against the tree and my knee around it. She was giving him a love letter and he had the audacity to make her read it now! I began uttering inhuman sounds, so flabbergasted real words skipped me.

Claire huffed, but still managed to smile. I could see her face, nearly flushed red.

"My, you're making this quite difficult."

I felt my face twitch numerous times.

"Well, what I want to say is…" Claire looked down at the ground beneath her, possibly studying the patterns in the grass, but I couldn't take my eyes off of her face.

"Well, in short-" She looked back up, and Hershel's eyes grew wide as she stepped closer and placed her hands on his shoulders. My mindless mumbling stopped for that instant.

"This."

And Claire Foley lips touched Hershel Layton's cheek.

An outburst arose from my throat. I was shocked, completely shocked, could not even believe what I had seen. My fists clenched together, almost to the point of numbness, and I wanted to look away but my gaze was plastered. I was too bothered to notice my hair, splaying in different directions above my head, too bothered to make sure I was still hidden from the two.

When Claire pulled away I half-expected Hershel to kiss her back. If it had come to this point it would be flat out ungentlemanly for him not too. However he just sported an awkward grin, wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her in close. And anger festered inside me.

He was distracting. He was idiotic. He was rude.

Yet Claire still found interest in this worthless man. She would never be the same, always consumed in Hershel's presence. With the year ending soon there wasn't time for me to confess, if I had ever brought myself to say the words. Hershel Layton had tainted my first love.

I could no longer feel my fists. My teeth grinding, letting out a wrenching noise, and grumbling was all that managed to escape my lips. As they chirped, leaning closer, I couldn't bring myself to stay any longer and I fled.

I didn't remember quite of what happened next, only that my breath was cut short by a shot of frigid water that engulfed me, as I flailed in the substance of my failure.

"You'll pay for this, Layton!"


AN; Woot! I left this alone for the longest time but I finally got it done. XD I don't think Don Paolo gets enough love, considering he's been through a lot, really. Well, maybe I exaggerated. Maybe. I hope I got most of this right, because I did like how it turned out. REVIEWS ARE LOVED 3

And for all of the people who are patiently waiting part 5 of LoL- It's getting done! School gets out tomorrow so I'll finally have time to type it up and edit it! :D