[[No, I'm not a hiatus; I've just been extremely busy lately.
I've finished the next Director's note for the next chapter in the Layton, the Witch the Top Hat but then I smacked straight into the old writer's block and I'm currently working my way around it. Do not fear dear readers!
So, for the meantime I've written this amusing little oneshot for you all to enjoy ^^ Don't forget to review!]]
Disclaimer: I do not own the Professor Layton series or any of the characters presented here... If I did you'd be able to tell, trust me.
Summary: Arianna and Tony are visiting London for the day and the professor proposes the group take a trip to the local cinema. Contains Luke/Arianna and some Layton/Emmy. (Set sometime between Diabolical Box and Unwound Future).
Let's Go To The Movies!
Of course it had to rain.
Luke gave a disgruntled sigh as he gazed out at the saturated streets of London from the professor's apartment window. Cars sleek with condensation spurted down the road, their wheels rising torrents of puddles onto the silver pavement and splashing unsuspecting pedestrians as they scrambled for shelter. Surrounding the asphalt were buildings and statues looking as if they had been painted in a layer of polish that was yet to dry.
The exuding grey blanket of clouds lingered above the fair city much like the foul mood hanging over Luke's head. He'd awoken in high spirits earlier this morning, delighted by the notion that in a couple of hours Arianna and her brother Tony would be arriving in London to spend the day with him, the professor and Flora. Then Luke heard the drumming of raindrops on the roof and he knew their original plans for strolling through the park had been well and truly scrapped.
Luke hadn't seen Arianna for several months but through his frequent letters he had informed her of his adventures with Professor Layton, the most recent being their phenomenal trip to the phantom town of Folsense. Arianna replied saying she would love to hear more about it from Luke in person, thereby expressing the desire to meet up with him soon.
The Barde siblings had driven up from Misthallery with Luke's parents a while ago. It had been an enjoyable reunion for them all; after the professor introduced Flora they had dug out a box of old photographs, reminiscing over tea and biscuits.
This time Arianna and Tony would be travelling to London by themselves on the bus. Luke couldn't wait for them to get here... but what fun was there to have if they were stuck indoors all day?
Per usual, Professor Layton held the answer to their predicament:
"Now now, Luke, don't look so desolate. Remember that a true gentleman always keeps an open mind." The professor unfurled his latest edition of the London Times and presented it to his apprentice. "We may find a fitting activity for a rainy day in the paper."
Luke hopped off the windowsill to glance over the professor's shoulder as his mentor reclined into the retro green settee. "Hmm..." Hershel Layton's keen eyes scanned through the broadsheet with more fervour than that of the young boy. Near the end of the paper, the professor noticed an advert for the new "Marijonette Cinema" that had recently opened in the city centre. He smiled. "Luke, I believe I have an idea."
"But why does Emmy have to come?" Luke groaned as the five of them waded through the car park, taking refuge under the professor's big black golfing umbrella. He, the professor and Flora had picked up the Barde children from the bus stop en route to the movie theatre. By the time they reached the cinema the parking lot was already packed with the cars of other Londoner families hoping to escape the boredom of a rainy day. Fortunate smiled when they found a free space, though to the professor's displeasure it meant his car was tightly wedged between two capacious vehicles. (It was quite possible he would resort to ungentlemanly measures if he discovered so much as a single scratch on his beloved Layton Mobile's exterior.)
Parking wasn't an issue for Emmy who easily dodged the congestion on her scooter. She had rung the professor requesting if she could join them this afternoon, having claimed she was eager to catch up with their companions from Misthallery. Luke knew better, of course. Emmy was always asking him how the "long distance relationship with Arianna was going". Today she would have the perfect opportunity to embarrass him in front of his "girlfriend".
"Don't be silly; Luke," Arianna admonished him "Tony and I haven't seen Emmy in years. Why shouldn't she be allowed to enjoy the day out with the rest of us?"
"Yeah, the more the merrier," her brother agreed as he stamped through the puddles at their feet, splashing Flora in the process. Tony muttered a hasty apology while Flora pawed at her drenched peach coloured dress.
They're completely clueless. Luke shook his head and managed a grin for Arianna.
There had been a time when he would be the one constantly trying to lighten her mood. Though Arianna was considerably more upbeat now than she was ensuing her father's and Loosha's deaths, there were still moments when she would abruptly slip into the despair of losing them both. The amount of pain she frequently endured (despite learning to live with it) must have been substantial. It made his complaints about Emmy's idle teasing and the hopeless British weather seem petty and selfish.
Nothing was going to spoil their day together, Luke decided. Don Paolo could even appear with some death impending machine— Luke vowed to keep smiling through it all.
The professor's former assistant was waiting for the group behind the building's revolving glass doors. Inside the Marijonette the air was warm, dry and thick with the enticing odour of popcorn. A red carpet covered the floor and the walls were plastered with posters and grinning cardboard cut outs for various films being shown.
Emmy greeted them avidly, remarked on how much Tony and Arianna had grown, and inquired if they had any good movies in mind. (No "couple" jokes for Luke, no sniggering or elbowing him; she didn't even crack a knowing smirk in his direction.)
Luke suddenly heard Flora let out squeal. He turned to find her inspecting a poster of a muscular man and an elegant woman gazing longingly into each other's eyes, the scene of a football field behind them. There was a title in swirling pink writing at the top of the notice that said 'Star Crossed Little Darlings'.
"Oh my gosh, I had no idea they were making this into a film!" Flora gushed excitedly.
"What is it?" Luke wondered.
Flora gaped at him as if he had just told her something absurd. "Haven't you heard of them? The Star Crossed Little Darlings?" When Luke's blank expression prevailed, she prattled "It's the tale of two lovers— a sport star and a young journalist who recently lost her job. One day the sport star becomes permanently injured in a tournament and immediately loses his title, his fame and his fortune. All of his fair weather friends abandon him; he is shunned by everyone in society... everyone except for the young journalist. She searches him out and teaches him that there is still hope, that there is more to life than winnings and fancy titles. It's a story of betrayal, broken dreams, passion, desire..." Flora sighed in enthrallment.
Arianna stood beside them and regarded the poster with interest. "I think I've read that book too."
Luke threw his friend a look of surprise. He was aware that Arianna loved to read; after all, it had helped keep her occupied back when she was stuck indoors due to her illness. However, he'd never have guessed that she was a fan of romance novels.
Flora gasped as she read the cast member's names. "'Starring Pierre Starbuck and Celia Raidley as the Little Darlings... Oh! Oh! Please, please can we see this film, Professor?" she begged.
The professor laughed as his adopted daughter fixed him with a pleading stare, her bottom lip quivering. "It certainly sounds like an entertaining option, Flora. But we must find out if everyone else is in agreement. We'll settle this with a vote: All those in favour?"
Flora's hand instantly shot into the air. To Luke's dismay this was followed by Arianna and Tony hesitantly raised his hand as well.
Luke's jaw dropped. "You too, Tony? Why would you want to see a film like that?"
"It was a good book!" Tony winced.
"Well, personally I'd prefer something with a bit more action in it..." Emmy shrugged "But it's really up to you guys."
"Star Crossed Little Darlings it is then," said the professor with a smile. Flora and Tony cheered. Luke groaned.
Luke was determined not to drag his feet as the professor headed towards the blue ticket counter and Emmy went off to find the confession stand. The movie only lasts for an hour and a half he told himself I can always think of some puzzles to pass the time...
Any sentimental story might have inspired Luke when he was younger– maybe even brought a tear to his eye— but after all the unimaginable things he had witnessed with the professor, the people they had met, the places they been ... It was unlikely a sappy romantic narrative would have the same impression on him.
"It's really not that bad, you know." As much as he attempted to hide it, Arianna had noticed Luke sulking and came to walk beside him "When I first saw the front of Star Crossed Little Darlings, I swore that I wouldn't read it if it was the last novel on Earth," she admitted "But then Tony insisted 'one should never judge a book by its cover' and I gave it a try." Arianna chuckled. "He had already read the book ten times over when I was finished."
"I'm not complaining, alright... I just don't think a love story like that sounds very exciting."
Arianna's cheeks instantly flamed at Luke's statement. "Fine then, if that's how you feel." She angrily stormed ahead, catching up with the others and refusing to look back at the boy.
Luke was shocked by her outburst. A true gentleman should never offend a lady, the professor would often tell him. But what had he said to upset Arianna so much?
"Good afternoon. Please can I have six tickets to see Star Crossed Little Darlings?" Professor Layton politely asked the orange afro haired man at desk.
"How many brats—, I mean, how many children's' tickets?" Came the familiar harsh reply.
"Six, please..." The professor wasn't usually one to judge fashion of others but even he had to admit that the fellow's choice in attire was quite peculiar. The man had combined his blue uniform with a yellow blazer jacket, a green bow tie and big purple spectacles on the end of his pointy nose...
"Don Paolo? Is that you?"
"Darn you, Layton. Blowing my cover... name's Daniel Radcliff," the man jabbed a finger at the crude fake I.D. badge pinned on his uniform.
Flora leapt back from the counter and squeaked "W-What is Don Paolo doing here?" She still hadn't completely recovered from the last time she crossed paths with the fiend in Dropstone...
"IT'S DANIEL RADCLIFF!"
"My apologises," said the professor deliberately "We mistook you for someone we know currently hiding from the authorities."
"Is that why he's wearing the fancy get-up?" Tony raised an eyebrow and studied the villain behind the desk.
"Criminal masterminds need to earn money too, you know!" 'Daniel' barked, making Tony flinch behind Flora "How else am I supposed to afford the mechanisms for my glorious inventions?" He produced six shiny orange tickets and thrust them into the professor's hand "Consider yourself lucky, Layton. If I wasn't getting paid to stand here all day you'd be in trouble right now."
"Thank you, Daniel. I'll keep that in mind," the professor accepted the tickets with a smile and ushered the children ahead of him.
Checking the ticket vendor was out of hearing distance, Layton located Emmy standing by the screening room, her arms overflowing with snacks and soft drinks.
While he relieved the young lady of her heavy burden, the professor leaned into her ear and whispered "How quickly can you contact Scotland Yard?" he indicated to the villain in disguise "Inspector Chelmey has been following Don Paolo's trail for quite some time."
"Shouldn't we apprehend him ourselves?" Emmy hissed.
"I believe the inspector would prefer if we didn't interfere with his duty." That should give our scientist friend a head start to escape the inspector's wrath ... The professor considered.
Luke shuffled along the isle of folded red seats, clutching an extra large box of toffee popcorn, a double Mars Bar and a bottle of Coco Cola.
Their group were the only ones watching Star Crossed Little Darlings; therefore they had the luxury of sitting in the very centre row without struggling to see over people's heads. (A problem little Luke encountered often).
Luke would have liked to go alongside Arianna but she was still irritated at him for reasons he couldn't fathom. Instead, he sat by his mentor. The order went Luke, the professor, Flora, Tony, Arianna...
"Luke, could you stand up?" he heard Emmy ask sweetly "I think I dropped my watch on your seat."
Luke easily obliged and jumped out of his chair for a moment. He turned around to find Emmy grinning smugly behind him. She'd nicked his spot next to the professor!
"Sorry, Assistant Number Two," Emmy winked and lounged back in his chair. "I think there's a spare space besides Arianna..."
"Never mind, Luke," the professor told him "The film is about to begin. Settle down now."
Sighing, Luke hustled past Flora and Tony— who both loudly protested for him to "Stop blocking the view!"— to the other end of the row and took the seat on Arianna's left.
She continued to ignore him; her vision locked dead ahead as the lights on the walls dimmed and the film started rolling.
Luke gritted his teeth as he heard the corny title screen music come on. He closed his eyes, zoning in and out of the dull clinched storyline.
While Luke munched on his Mars Bar in boredom, Tony and Flora simultaneously swooned at every little romantic gesture the Darling couple exchanged. Arianna simply watched with impassive interest. Emmy couldn't pay attention to the movie; she was far too busy devising ways to make the professor put his arm around her shoulders.
The slowest half hour of Luke's life crawled by. He had already gone over every puzzle he had ever solved in his mind... Now what?
Having finished his drink and chocolate ages ago, Luke abstractedly reached for more popcorn. He froze— his hand brushing his friend's palm as she did the same.
"S-Sorry..." Luke muttered, his cheeks growing warm in the darkness. But before he could pull away she was gripping his hand in place.
"Shhhh," Arianna hushed him. Then she returned her gaze to the screen, unperturbed that their fingers were linked for the entire remainder of the film.
In the end the lovers were married and their wedding service was held at the football stadium. How original.
Tony and Flora bawled their eyes out at the happy ending. The two of them skipped out of the Marijonette, babbling about how it was the best film they had ever seen and how they would definitely be watching the sequel.
The professor chuckled at their enthusiasm. It reminded him of a certain young woman who, despite her incredible bravery, would have been reduced to tears by such a tender (albeit) clinched love story.
As for Emmy, she had given up on her attempts to woo the professor for one day. Men Emmy thought, shaking her head as she unlocked her scooter they're completely clueless. She spied Arianna and Luke smiling and chatting to each other on their way to the car. At least she'd helped the two of them make up, in a way. Assistant Number Two would definitely be expecting more "couple" jokes in the future.
A mildly frustrated yell suddenly pierced the air. Emmy looked up to see the professor gripping the brim of his hat, just containing a lid on his anger.
Someone had scratched a message into the side of his beloved red car:
Take that, Layton!