"I can't believe it's finally over," Future Luke mused. He, with the help of Professor Layton, his younger self and Flora had succeeded in foiling the leader of the Family's infernal plans.
The four of them had entered China Town and breached the Towering Pagoda, working past every obstacle that stood in their way. Reaching the top floor, they had confronted the Devil in the Top Hat. The professor had beaten his corrupt future counterpart in an astonishing battle of wits. Defeated, Evil Layton had fled from his headquarters.
Future Luke knew the devil was somewhere out there now, hiding in the city, plotting his next move. But surely Evil Layton was aware that any scheming would be in vain at this point. Time had run out; there was nothing his twisted old mentor could do about it.
The group had also rescued the missing Prime Minister, Bill Hawks, from the Family's base. They'd lugged him back to Midland Road, rounding up the kidnapped scientists and a pair of bewildered police officers along the way. All of them were being safely returned to their own decade.
Spring exited the clock shop to find Future Luke leaning against a rusted pipe along the pavement. A lone architect had been trying to rejuvenate the unsightly street for about a year; Future Luke recalled, having spoken to him occasionally. What a shame the guy's hard labour would be for nothing.
"Your friends are ready to go, Dearie," Spring informed Future Luke, a smile lifting her features per usual. However, there was weariness and something wistful about her expression.
Future Luke closed his eyes, nodding solemnly. "Thank you, Spring... None of this would have been possible without you and Cogg." The elderly couple had maintained the time machine, playing a vital role in thwarting Evil Layton. When Future Luke came to them with the task of saving London, they had both agreed to help, fully acknowledging what would happen if they triumphed.
"Oh, I'm sure you would have managed," Spring dismissed. "You're the one who we all should be thanking for stopping that horrible Family lot."
"I doubt any of the innocent citizens will be thanking me," he muttered.
Spring patted his shoulder. "You did the right thing, Luke dear. We knew this was coming, and those who didn't won't even notice the last moments... Let's pop inside now, it's time to say goodbye."
Future Luke followed her into the clock shop with a heavy heart. Inspector Chelmey, Barton, Bill Hawks and the scientists had already gone. Cogg was firing up the time machine for one final journey.
The professor, Luke and Flora were waiting in the room at the front of the store. The trio appeared eager to be getting home, but disappointed to leave the companions they had met only yesterday.
"I guess this is it..." Little Luke began awkwardly, glancing at his older lookalike as he entered the room.
"Yes," Future Luke agreed. He turned to the professor, retaining his businesslike tone. (It was easier to bear this way.) "Professor, thanks to you Future London has been freed from the Family's influence. Parliament will be restored to order with the prime minister's safe return. However, Dimitri Allen is still in hiding. He must be found and brought to justice." Future Luke's eyes shone furiously, displaying the hurt created by his former mentor's betrayal. "Don't be swayed by Dimitri's ideology of time travel." As the professor inclined his head, Future Luke switched his attention to Little Luke. "And you need to keep an eye on him. Make sure he doesn't make the same mistake twice." Little Luke seemed shocked that it was he who would have to watch over the professor.
"After witnessing the grief caused by my future self, I wouldn't dream of doing such a thing," the professor promised.
"I know," Future Luke sighed, his anger leaving him. "I know you will never be anything like the Layton of this time. He's a monster..." He swallowed. "I always hoped that, buried deep down, my kind tea-loving best friend was still in there and one day he would come to his senses. I missed the old Professor Layton— the real you." He pointed at the professor. "Sharing this last adventure with you reminded me of the good old days. It made me proud to be your apprentice again."
"Don't worry, Big Luke. This might not be our last adventure," Flora piped up. "Maybe we can visit you again sometime!"
Future Luke smiled at her naivety, shaking his head fondly. It was one of the many things that he had loved about her... still loved. His Flora had moved back to St Mystere when their professor took control of London's underworld and started losing his mind. She was safer out of the city— knowing that had allowed him to focus on his mission— though, he hadn't heard from her in years. Now he would never have the chance to wish her farewell. But he would settle for saying goodbye to this younger version of Flora. That in itself was a blessing.
"No, that won't be possible I'm afraid. You see, now that we have altered the future, this timeline will cease to exist. The future London before you, the Family, and all of the citizens will likely disappear after you leave."
"W-what...?" Flora gasped. "B-but that means you... a-and Becky, and everyone else...!"
"That's right," Future Luke confirmed quietly. "My time ends here."
"Won't I grow up to be you?" Little Luke asked desperately.
"Don't you remember when I explained this earlier?" Future Luke clicked his tongue slightly. "I was you in the past, but you won't exactly be me in the future. Only the past is certain."
Ignoring the cryptic message, Little Luke whispered, "But I want to be like you. You're brave, smart, polite,—"
"Growing up in this atrocious place has also made me mistrusting, caustic and cold. You'll become a better Luke Triton then I ever was."
"No matter what, you have reached the standards of a true gentleman in my eyes."
At the professor's statement, Future Luke tore his gaze away from them, forcing back tears. "You should go now... Cogg can't wait much longer...Oof!" He let out a surprised sound when Flora rushed forward to embrace him.
"Goodbye, Big Luke!" she sobbed into his shirtfront. (She was so sensitive, that was another trait of hers he had missed dearly...)
Stroking her hair, the Future Luke murmured, "Little Luke will still be with you. In a way, part of me stays with you too."
There was a chance they would forget him; for if Layton had never turned evil, then Future Luke wouldn't have sent that letter through time requesting the younger professor's help. It was confusing and cruel how time travel worked like that.
"The old girl's all ready for one last trip," Cogg hollered from the back of the shop.
Future Luke gently pried Flora away from him. "It's up to you three now," he told them. "Change the past and make a brighter future."
With that, he strode out of the clock shop and down Midland Road, not looking back. After several moments, he heard the whirr of the huge clock which meant Professor Layton, Luke and Flora were going back to where they belonged.
Just in time too.
The surrounding shops, the polluted sky above, the cracked cobblestones beneath his feet... It was all beginning to fade. The man— he was not Future Luke, for Future Luke no longer existed— studied his palms as they glowed with an ethereal light.
There was a flutter of feathers and a green bird landed on his shoulder. (It too had been given a name once; forgotten now.)
"Are you lost?" the young fellow inquired to the creature.
"Lost, loooost," squawked the bird in reply.
The man smiled sadly, though he wasn't sure why. "I believe I am as well."