Length: One Shot
Character(s): Hershel Layton, Randall Ascot, Roland & Lucille Layton
Pairing(s): Randall x Hershel
Summary: Just two boys enjoying their youth, thinking about the future, and of course, there are puzzles.
Author's Notes: I asked a friend to beta it for me but she never gave me back the editted version, so... here it is.
"What did you want to show me?"
Hershel asked as his friend carelessly hopped across the stepping stones in the river that ran through Stansbury. The youth normally wouldn't imagine spending time around these parts but being friends with Randall meant there was adventure anywhere. Hershel knew many places around town thanks to the Ascot boy.
"It's right around here somewhere... I swear there was some small treasure I saw on the way to school the other day."
Randall's definition of treasure was usually something of little monetary value but it made for interesting memories. The brunet could only wonder what it was that Randall would risk hanging by the river for. Perhaps it was a nest of frog eggs or an ancient rusty can. At age seventeen, such objects should be deemed juvenile to be picking up, but again, this was Randall and he made everything sound like tons of fun.
"Ah, here it is!"
Just as the spectacled boy bent over to pluck said object out of the water, the stepping stone tilted and sent Randall stumbling into the rushing river.
"Randall!" Hershel yelled and jumped from his spot on the riverbank.
It was lucky for them that the river was only knee-deep in this season that Randall hadn't been swept away by the currents. His glasses were dotted with water droplets and he was soaked to the bone but in his hand held a peculiarly bent spoon and Randall and the biggest smile on his face. Hershel let out a breath of relief. Not that he thought Randall would drown but at least he wasn't injured.
"Congratulations Mr. Ascot, now get out of there before you catch a cold."
Hershel held out his hand for Randall to pull himself up. Grateful, the red-head took it, his other hand still clutching the treasure.
"That was nothing at all! A little water won't stop me!" Randall spouted after removing his jacket and orange scarf to wring off.
Hershel held the treasured object, examining it but not finding anything that distinguished it from any other bent spoon. He wondered how Randall had even been able to spot something like this since its surface was mostly covered in muck, so it couldn't have been very luminous.
"Pretty cool isn't it Hershel? You know, this reminds me of a very clever puzzle..."
And then the brunet realized he had fallen into another of his friend's traps. The whole scenario was a ploy to ask him a puzzle. Hershel narrowed his eyes at Randall but the Ascot boy was either oblivious or he just didn't care.
"You are ridiculous Randall."
"I think you pronounced 'amazing' wrong Hershel."
The brunet shook his head and grabbed his friend's wet discarded clothing. He also handed the grimy bent spoon back to Randall.
"You can tell me the puzzle later, you should change into dry clothes first or you might become ill." Hershel lightly shoved the other youth forward so they could get moving. "My house is closer so you can borrow some of my shirts."
"You should have joined me Hershel. It actually wasn't too bad in the river." Randall laughed, waving the spoon around.
"Perhaps some other time. When I'm prepared for the occasion."
The two boys chatted about nonsense on the way to the Layton household. The sun was still hovering a little over the horizon but it would be dark soon.
Lucille Layton greeted the two boys and then chided Randall for such dangerous stunts after hearing about it from her son. Roland only chuckled and commended the Ascot boy on his triumph, to which his wife just hurmphed. Hershel was secretly pleased at how well accepted his friend was at their household, as if he were an addition to their family.
"Mum, I'm letting Randall borrow some of my clothes." Hershel called as he made his way to his room on the second story.
"Randall, will you stay for dinner? It is getting close to supper time."
"Sure thing. I suppose I'll have to call my house, just to tell them I'll be over. Hopefully it's Henry that picks up."
Hershel sat on his bed catching up on some reading for his class while waiting for Randall. His door opened and said friend emerged from the other side, hair still wet from his shower and dressed in a pair of pajamas that belonged to the Layton boy.
The brunet hadn't realized it until then but Randall was definitely smaller than him, even if only a bit. The shirt that fit him almost perfectly hung loosely for his friend and the hem of the pants dragged on the floor. He didn't know why but that alone made the Layton boy smile. They were still boys in their growing stages, despite how much Randall pretended that he was mature beyond his age. Hershel, amused by the revelation, hadn't noticed Randall had moved to sit next to him on his bed.
"What's so funny Hershel? If you're laughing at these pajamas, you do have to remember that these belong to you." Randall huffed while reaching over to Hershel's desk here his glasses laid.
"No, I wasn't laughing at you, honest." Though he didn't do much to hide the amusement in his voice.
"Well anyway, you promised to solve the puzzle, so here it is:
You have four spoons made of different metals and have different values. The gold spoon is worth 6 million, the silver 5 million, the bronze is 8 million. How much is the zirconium spoon worth?"
"2 million." Hershel answered after not too long.
"Wow Hershel, for someone who doesn't like puzzles, you're really good at them."
The brunet shrugged. Randall brought out the bent spoon from earlier but it seemed much cleaner than before. He probably polished it up during his bath.
"It wasn't a planted puzzle." Randall suddenly confessed. "Not intentionally anyway."
Hershel put down his book to face his friend, who was twirling the spoon between his fingers. He hadn't noticed it before since it was covered in grime but there were now very distinct engravings that marked the spoon's handle. Randall handed him the spoon and Hershel was able to read the writing carved on the metal.
"This was yours Randall. What was it doing in the river?"
"Being born into a rich family isn't all it's hyped up to be you know. Everyone sees you for your money and not for who you are or what you can do." Randall sighed. "I made a promise to myself not to let that happen. I'm going to make people see me for me; not the silver spoon I was born with but what I can achieve with my own knowledge."
Hershel rarely ever saw his friend so serious, and when he did, it usually had to do with archaeology. But now he could understand where Randall's excitement and need for adventure came from. Hershel was glad the other boy was able to share that part of him with him.
"Well, I always saw you as my friend before a millionaire, if that helps any."
"...Thanks Hershel," The red-head smiled softly, "for being my friend. And putting up with me."
"I would say it's no problem but you really are a handful sometimes. I think I deserve an award sometimes."
Randall laughed and hooked an arm behind Hershel's neck, bringing Layton down so he could mess up his hair. the brunet was able to break out of the headlock easily though he didn't seem at all peeved. He hadn't noticed that Randall's hand still remained on the back of his neck until he was pulled forward again. This time, Hershel landed on the space between his friend's shoulder and neck. Randall placed another hand on his mess of hair, resting his chin against him. They stayed in that position for a while.
"...Randall?" Hershel questioned softly, as not to ruin the moment, though he wondered why his friend had pulled him into such an intimate embrace.
"That was the first time I told anyone about that." Randall muttered into his hair. "And you're the only one, besides me, who knows about the spoon."
"Thank you, for trusting me." Hershel finally spoke; though he wasn't sure what to say. "I'm glad I'm important enough for you to confide in."
"What do you mean Hershel? You make it sound like I don't consider you an important person in my life."
The brunet leaned into Randall's warmth and he could feel movement above him. "Honestly, I feel left out when you're with Angela and Henry. Or even Alphonse. You guys were childhood friends and I don't even hold a candle to how well you guys know each other."
"That's not true Hershel, you're just as special to me as they are. The amount of time a person knows another doesn't measure how close they are."
"I understand that Randall. It's just my own insecurities, I don't expect you to fix it, so there's really no need to worry about it."
"Hershel..." The red-head whispered, "..I'm suddenly reminded of another puzzle."
Hershel wordlessly removed himself from Randall's space and punched his friend in the arm. The red-head flinched but he didn't say anything about the pain.
"A groom and his best friend are waiting at the altar. The bride never arrives but the wedding goes on happily. What's going on?"
Hershel went quiet, his mind working on the puzzle. Randall looked on expectantly.
"There was no bride but there's a groom. One would think the best friend is the best man but actually the wedding had two grooms. The man married his best friend."
There was a pause and Hershel waited for Randall to say something snarky, like he always did after Hershel answered correctly, but none came.
"...Randall, where did that one come from?"
Randall shrugged, not looking his friend in the eye. "Just another puzzle."
The Layton boy stared but Randall refused to give away anything.
"How often do you think about the future, Hershel?"
Don't change the topic, Hershel thought in disapproval. He played it off as if he wasn't annoyed. "We are nearing the final years of high school, I've been picking out colleges though I'm still not sure what I want to study."
"Go into archaeology with me." It wasn't a question, it wasn't a choice, Randall demanded it.
"You know how I feel about archaeological topics, I'm not as passionate about it as you are." Hershel sighed.
"Well, take a few classes with me then Hershel. I see a lot of potential in you in the archaeological field. I think we would make great partners." Randall leaned in, like he always did when he tried to convince Hershel into his ideas. "We can go away to college, and you can make up for time that we missed before we met. So you don't have to compare yourself to Henry or Angela."
"...You're incredible Randall." Hershel shook his head but there was a smile on his face. "But I suppose I wouldn't mind attending the same university as you. Taking a few classes isn't unheard of it they're electives."
"Great! I wouldn't have it any other way." Randall smiled as if he had discovered the greatest find in archaeology history.
Normally the red-head would pull back after getting Hershel's consent to go with him. Randall had not this time and instead, leaned in a bit more, placing a hand by the brunet's so that he was nearly on top of the other boy.
"Randall, you're doing it again..." Hershel swallowed, trying to back away from the other boy.
"Doing what?" he asked in an almost breathy tone.
"Intimidating me by invading my personal space." Hershel placed a hand on his friend's shoulder to prove his point and to further the their space but Randall didn't budge.
"Who said I was trying to intimidate you?"
"...then why else would you be this close?"
Hershel wasn't dumb and Randall knew that. The brunet had his theories but he would rather hear an answer from the Ascot boy.
As Randall moved a little closer, the two slowly closed their eyes in anticipation for what's to come next. Hershel could feel his friend's breath on him and their noses brushed.
And then a knock on the door followed by Lucille's voice informing the boys about dinner was heard from the other side.
The teens on the bed pulled apart. They sat not uttering a word until they were sure the Layton mother was not going to enter. Hershel glanced at the boy in his pajamas, not realizing Randall had done the same. The eye contact should have been awkward but it wasn't and the boys found it easier to smile. Randall was the first to break the silence but it wasn't too soon that Hershel joined in the laughter.
"Come now, we shouldn't keep my mum waiting or she would drag us to the dining room by our ears."
Hershel removed himself from the bed first and Randall followed after. As Layton went to open the door, a hand grabbed his wrist and swiveled him around.
The two boys exclaimed as their faces collided unpleasantly.
"Your aim was a little off." Hershel managed to mutter, rubbing his forehead.
"I figured." The red-head mumbled behind his hand that was currently massaging his sore nose.
It would have been funny but Randall wasn't a big fan of failure and he had just messed up two opportunities to kiss his best friend. He supposed it was a sign that it really wasn't meant to happen. Feeling disheartened wasn't typical of Randall's behavior but at the moment, that's kind of how he felt.
"Don't feel bad, Randall." Hershel spoke up, seeing his friend's countenance. "After all, every failure is just a doorway to success. That's what you told me."
"You're right Hershel. And, the third time's the charm, right?
Hershel nodded lightly, glad that his friend was in better spirits already. He tried to keep the smile on his lips but it was getting harder to since his heart was beating so fast and his palms had gotten sweaty. Randall had not acted, despite his confident tone. The brunet supposed it was up to him to make the move.
With shaky hands, Hershel gripped the other boy's shoulders and leaned in. When their noses touched, he had already shut his eyes and Hershel prayed that they would get it right this time. The moment was made real when his lips finally met Randall's and Hershel tensed at the thought. He willed himself to calm down and he found that the kiss was actually enjoyable when he relaxed.
Randall couldn't believe that he was actually kissing his best friend. He dared to put a hand on his friend's waist in hopes of pulling him closer. The other body jumped at the contact and the red-head found himself steered away from the soft lips. He blinked away the bleary feeling and Hershel's shy smile greeted him.
The red-head knew his face was flushed lightly like he could tell by Hershel's. There was a second of hesitation but Randall reached for his friend's hand, hoping what had transpired was not an accident or impulse. The fingers that intertwined with his reassured him greatly and the light squeeze he received as an unspoken promise for a next time had him beaming proudly.
Lucille's voice warned them that they had a five seconds to get to the first story and the two boys exchanged sheepish grins. Their hands were still linked as they headed to supper.
I'm too embarrssed to put this on FF.net because there's a lot of bad RanLay fics there and I really don't need to add to it and it's kind of embarrassing as a fan and I don't know...