The Professor had always been quite fond of his young apprentice. He saw a great deal of promise in him, and perhaps a bit of himself at that age. But as the time had passed, he felt his fondness grow into something more: trust. No matter how difficult the puzzle or dangerous the adventure, Luke had unfailingly been at his side. Loyalty like that was beyond price. He was sure that Luke would grow to be not only a fine puzzle solver, but also a fine gentleman.
He could see the signs of it already at times, small mannerisms or gestures that showed the emerging gentleman in him as surely as the increasingly frequent grow spurts the boy was so proud of. It filled him with pride as well, knowing that he had a hand in Luke's transformation into a young man fit for society. To accelerate this, he'd recently begun to take Luke out to plays, operas, and other things that every young gentleman needed to familiarize himself with. And as Luke excelled in his training here as well, Layton allowed himself to be more familiar with him. He'd always held him at a proper distance for a teacher and student but now he treated him more like a companion, at least when they were out at the show.
Before he even noticed, he was spending virtually all his time with his protégé. It had been a long time since he'd last had such consistent company and it surprised him somewhat to note that Luke was currently the most important person in his life. Being with him companionably made him happy in a way he hadn't been since Claire…
He stopped himself there. Not only to spare himself more painful memories but because that was a troubling association indeed, between his former lover and apprentice. His pulse sped up, making him feel like he was on the edge of some high place and trying to decide whether or not to jump. His feelings for Luke were strictly professional, weren't they? There was no way that he could feel something like that for essentially a child. It would be not only fruitless but immoral in the worst ways.
He probed his feelings for a bit, then drew his hat low over his eyes as if it would block out the painful truth. As he'd noted before about the strange and often twisted world they lived in, nothing was impossible.
This revelation, as profoundly disturbing as it was, changed little on the surface. He was a gentleman, and that meant he had self-control. He knew he could never act on his feelings so he buried them away, never so much as glancing at Luke in a way that was any less than completely proper. The only thing that did change was that he slowly cut back on their evening outings. Simply because he could exercise restraint didn't mean that he was masochistic. Luke, being the sharp boy he was, of course noticed this decline but the Professor waved away his questions by claiming he had too much work to do at the moment to go to the city every night.
Everything continued to function as it always had, and that was the way it almost stayed.
It was a few nights after Luke's fourteenth birthday. There had been a pleasant party, and Layton had given him a new pocket watch. Now he was in bed, leafing through the latest Almanac. He heard a knock at the door which, given the late hour, surprised him somewhat. "Come in." he said, and the door opened to reveal Luke.
In a moment of weakness the Professor examined him. His pajamas were the same as ever, a small pair of shorts hidden under an overlarge shirt that went halfway down his thighs. He'd often offered to purchase for him a more fitting pair but he'd always declined. His shirt was crooked, exposing one shoulder. His hair was tousled, so he must have just woken. He fidgeted awkwardly, wouldn't meet his gaze, and his eyes were red as though he'd been crying.
"Luke. What is the matter? Are you alright?" He asked, setting aside his book.
"'M sorry to both you, Professor. It's just…" He trailed off and bit his lip.
"Go on." He prompted.
He bunched his hands in his shirt, making the hem rise higher. "I just had a nightmare. Can I…" he trailed again but this time continued on his own. "Can I sleep with you? Just for tonight?" He finally raised his eyes.
If he had hurled a javelin through Layton's chest, it couldn't have stunned him more. He'd sworn to himself that he would keep a proper distance from the boy, but what could say? Any choice would be the wrong one. He scooted over.
Luke smiled like the sun coming out from behind clouds and got into bed next to him.
He turned out the light and concentrated on lying still and as far from him as the narrow bed would allow. Every time he tried to move farther away, the boy moved closer, snuggling against him until the Professor was practically falling off the bed.
When he felt the boy trying to twin his arms around his own, that's when he gave up. He felt like he was being tested and perhaps he was failing but some things were too much. He rolled over on his side, facing Luke, and put one arm around him. It felt like a defeat but it was only for tonight, he promised himself. Besides, comforting a close student like this wasn't entirely improper, he assured himself, even as Luke came impossibly closer, his small hands on his chest.
He closed his eyes and some time passed. Sleep wouldn't come, not like this, so he allowed himself one more failing, to open his eyes and see Luke's sleeping face up close.
He opened his eyes, but Luke wasn't sleeping. His eyes were open as well, examining his face as closely as he'd planned on examining his. His cheeks were flushed, his mouth parted slightly. When he leaned forward, Layton didn't stop him. Their lips met for only a moment but it felt like an eternity, as if that instant had been plucked from the fabric of time and could last indefinitely.
It did end though, and Luke looked away. "I'm sorry, Professor, I-"
He cut him off by bringing their lips together again, this time for longer and more passionately. The flood gates had opened, and Layton felt the deep and aching need that he'd refused to acknowledge there stronger than ever. He shifted so he was on top of Luke as his arms wrapped around him, their kiss deepening. It was so wonderful, so perfect. He'd never wanted, never needed anything more than Luke here and now.
He broke their kiss only to trail new ones along his neck, nibbling at the spot where it met his shoulder. When he whispered his name in his ear, he was almost ashamed of how much raw need there was in it. Luke's breath hitched and it was the most amazing sound he'd ever heard.
He kissed him again, and this time his hand trailed up, running along his bare leg and underneath his shirt. Luke mumbled something he couldn't quite hear.
"Professor I-" He rolled one small, perfect nipple between his fingers.
"Just one sec-" His other hand came up, tugging lightly at the waistline of his shorts.
"I said WAIT!" The boy yelled, shoving him suddenly away.
The fog of lust cleared from his eyes and Layton saw his apprentice as he was. He was half hard, his face flushed and clothes askew, but he was trembling and there was fear in his eyes.
Fear. Of him.
He felt a wave of self-loathing stronger than he would have imagined possible hit him. He backed away off the bed, horrified by what he'd done, what he'd been about to do. It didn't matter how good it had felt, or that he wasn't the one who initiated it. Luke was barely more than a third of his age, and he had been planning to…the world seemed to spin around him. "Luke…I…I don't know what…I'm so sorry."
He turned to go then, but Luke's arms wrapped around his waist, stopping him more effectively than a brick wall. "No, don't go! It's alright, I was just a little surprised. Come back, we can keep going. I'm fine, really." His words were half-muffled but it didn't hide the note of desperation. "Please…"
There was nothing in all the world that he wanted more than that. Every part of him screamed to just turn around and take Luke in his arms. He'd gone too far before but now he knew. They could take it slow. They could be together.
He knew the truth though. He'd crossed a line and if he couldn't go back, he'd make sure it never happened again. He pried Luke's hands away and left, even though a piece of his heart stayed behind.
The next day he accepted a standing offer from a friend to teach full time in Glasgow. When asked why the sudden change of heart, he could only shake his head.