"Isn't it simply marvelous? To think this is where all of our collected research has ended up after all these years, she better work out!"
On and on, will that man ever keep quiet? A small sigh escaped the woman as she slipped off her lab coat, the white fabric reflecting brightly off the golden afternoon sun dripping through the window. Really now, why was she going through with this? The machine was still a prototype, there was no real certainty it would even work. Yet, here she was, the assistant to two rather ambitious scientists working to leap through time. A childish notion to most, but to think that the years of hard work might just be payed off…it was rather exciting.
"We'll make history with our invention, will we not, Claire? History—!"
The loud smack sounded through the air as Bill threw his rather thick pile of research material down on the desk. He always got like this when it came to the subject of their work—he was the man giving most of the funding for it, after all. The woman couldn't help but just shrug off his attitude—he was more concerned about it working than who was going to test it out. It was rather strange, that she was going to be the first person to test out this time machine. Oh, how excited she was, yet how nervous, her hands were shaking in the slightest with worry.
So many outtcomes to this whole experiment, Claire only knew too well of all of them. Death, being the worst. Now, that was an unsettling thought. Claire found her hand shoved into her pant pocket, the familiar touch of the pocket watch rubbing against her finger tips soothing her shaking hands. Hershel…he would have tried to talk her out of this by now, wouldn't he? He was persistent at times, quite the smart man….Hershel Layton, the man whom she loved with her life.
"Claire? Are you alright?"
A rough hand landed on her shoulder, a concerned flash of Bill's face appearing over in the corner of her eye as she sighed weakly. He was still wearing his lab coat, spectacles in place over his rather large face, blue eyes gleaming with concern for her. Blinking, she nodded, and removed his hand from her shoulder. The warmth of his hand seeped into her own, it felt rather nice to be perfectly honest. No, she couldn't back away now, not when Bill had promised this prototype was the best of the best. As long as this 'prototype' managed to work, they would start perfecting it, the three of them. For now, it was the real deal…this was it.
His eyes flickered in the slightest as he nodded his head to the side, a rather peculiar expression over his features. As if he was surprised she was asking of this, the look instantly made the woman feel uncomfortable. Thankfully, he answered her question, instead of leaving her hanging.
"Dimitri is on his way, don't worry. I told him we're going ahead with the experiment, don't worry about that. Are you ready?"
A deep breath, her hands dipping into her pockets as casually as possible. Claire took one step forward, two, three, advancing towards the large machine huddled near the front of the room, up against the outer wall of the building. What a work of art this prototype was, it was truly beautiful on the outside. A large, roman numeral clock hanging above the main entrance, with an almost sleek look to the outside. It was rather bulky overall, but a rather nice show piece for a history maker. At least, hopefully it was going to make history.
"Ready whenever you are, Bill."
She scaled up the steps, entering the rather hot confinements of the machine, and flipped around on one foot, smiling gently as always. No, she wasn't all that nervous, she was actually quite excited. Yet, no matter how many times she thought of Hershel…she seemed to get a tad scared of what was to come. Bill was trust worthy though, she had been both his and Dimitri's assistant for several years now, they were like family. Bill wouldn't let her be the first human test subject if he knew there was a high possibility of this prototype blowing up, right?
The door to the time machine began to raise up, ever so slowly as the golden world outside was swallowed up. Claire's smile faded as soon as the door was past her head, the familiar sounds of the door locking echoed within the chamber, vibrating through her chest. Now it was just the count down, that was how they rehearsed it, right? Count down from ten, let the energy build up and let the machine do the rest. The darkness encasing her was rather frightening, the only thing that seemed to be keeping her company was the familiar ticking of the pocket watch.
Tick, tick, tick, tick….
Claire gasped, the sound of Bill's voice calling to her making her jump, the watch almost falling out of her pocket. She pulled it out, fumbling with it as clicks resounded outside the machine, switches bringing life to the machine. Lights flickered on around her, illuminating her world as nervous finger tips clicked open the watch, time still flowing correctly within the chamber. She sighed in relief, slowly sinking to her knees to sit down. It probably wasn't the safest of moves, but who really knew what was safe and what wasn't at this point, working with time?
A loud, continuous hum resonated in the space, everything slowly starting to build up energy and rattle from a deep slumber. The watch kept ticking though, her hands slowly caressing the glass as more switches were pulled, the very familiar sounds of the equipment lurching to life filling her ears. Yet, that was the farthest thing from her mind now.
Deep breath in, deep breath out, keep calm and carry on. That seemed to be a very useful phrase right about now, trying not to lose her calm in a place like this. It wasn't like she could back away from this now, time was ever moving forward.
Another loud hum began to sound, a much higher pitch than the first one. Claire closed her eyes tightly, her mind escaping the noise of her prison and entering her own little time machine to the past—back to Hershel's side. The sight of his smiling face seemed to calm her down, her grip on the watch loosening.
"Oh, do you really like it?"
Back in that little restaurant again, back to that little day that felt oh-so long ago now. There he was again, nervously fingering his tea cup over and over again with anticipation as her own hands gripped cool metal, a golden pocket watch catching the light of day.
"I don't just like it, I love it!"
Her own voice replied this time, murmuring the lines as her past self chimed them merrily, a laugh escaping the memory's lips. The ticking matched perfectly with the watch at that second, the nostalgia almost too much for Claire to bare. She smiled softly, almost to herself as she rubbed the glass for the hundredth time, watching the little handle start to tick slower and slower
The watch stopped ticking now, it's inner gears suddenly rendered useless. One hit, two hits, three hard hits against her knee, and still, the watch wouldn't move. What a shame…she loved this watch so much, this little gift from Hershel. Now it was broken, at one of the worst times in doing so. Maybe it was the machine that caused it, timedidstop and shift within this chamber.
Gripping the watch, she crammed it back into her pocket, crossing her legs neatly under her. Only a few more seconds until he flicked the switch, throwing the trio's years of hard work into motion. To think so many years were poured into just a few seconds…
The name came out of her mouth quietly, her lover's name almost like a replacement to the steady ticking of the watch, the last thing that seemed to have been keeping her sane. Say it again, say it again, don't lose yourself, think of his face, his smile, his words.
"Take good care of that hat I gave you."
"I love you."