Layton dashed back towards his office, being sure to at least glance in every classroom that he went past, just in case.
It wasn’t like him to get panicked, at least not outwardly. He was known for being the level head in any situation. And yet, when those who were close to him were involved, he couldn’t stop himself from worrying.
Emmy hadn’t been in University all day. She hadn’t been in the study. She hadn’t been at home. She hadn’t been in the park. She hadn’t been anywhere he could think to check.
By this point, he had little choice but to retrace his steps around everywhere he could think of her being. Which had eventually brought him back to Gressenheller and in a few more steps would lead him to his office.
She sounded even more startled than he was, almost dropping her camera, but at the last minute managing to clutch onto its strap. If he hadn’t known how fond she was of it, then Layton would have questioned why she even had the camera with her in the first place, but right now he was too preoccupied with finding her safe and sound.
“I’m glad to see you! You’ve been gone so long that I was really starting to worry,” he babbled, between catching his breath.
“I had a few… errands to take care of,” she replied, sounding uncharacteristically dismissive.
“All right, but I wish that you’d told me you were going to be away this long. I know you’re free to go where you want whenever you want, but I do worry,” replied Layton.
“It was all sort of last minute,” Emmy admitted, “But I’m sorry. Next time I’ll leave a note so you don’t get yourself too worked up. It doesn’t suit you.”
But caring about your friends does, she added to herself. I should have taken that into account…
Seeming to have caught his breath now, Layton enquired, “What are you even doing here at this hour anyway? It’s too soon after half term for there to be much extra work to do and the rest of the staff left hours ago.”
“Can an assistant not check up on how her charge is getting on while she’s been away?” evaded Emmy, smirking at him.
He chuckled, but couldn’t help feeling slightly uneasy; “You talk as if I can’t handle myself.” Then, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed some papers that he’d not left out on his desk before; “Aren’t those my notes upon the Vault of Akbadain? They were tucked away in my drawer before…”
“Okay, you got me,” Emmy confessed, “I was reading up on them. You know that I’m a stickler when it comes to details and I wanted to make sure that I’d remembered everything that happened in Monte d’Or correctly.”
It was indeed true that she paid attention to the facts. Upon first meeting Layton, Emmy had reeled off a considerable amount of information about him and before they’d even travelled to Monte d’Or she recited facts from the work of Donald Rutledge that had surprised him to know that she knew. All the same, this seemed a little too sudden.
“If you say so,” he replied, though it was clear that his mind was still fixed on the point.
“Oh, would you stop worrying?” she sighed, walking over to him, “I just like to know all that I can so that I can help you when I need to. Who knows when this stuff will become important again? Learning about the Mask of Chaos certainly ended up being helpful, didn’t it?”
“Yes, it did,” agreed Layton, “But with any luck Monte d’Or won’t have any further drama fall upon it for a long time and Akbadain will become little more than an interesting talking point amongst archaeologists.”
“Such as yourself,” she teased.
“Quite right,” Layton answered.
“Well, maybe I just want to have more to talk about with you,” Emmy went on.
“I don’t want you to have to feel obliged to do that,” assured Layton, “Archaeology can seem rather dull to those who aren’t interested in it and we have plenty to talk of without you having to worry about reading up on old ruin site.”
“I don’t think you’re dull at all,” said Emmy, and suddenly it seemed that she was a little closer to him than Layton had noticed a moment ago. When had she moved in this close to him?
“Oh, um, well, I-I didn’t mean that I was dull personally, but I’m glad that… that you think I’m n-not,” he stammered.
“Is something wrong, Professor?” Emmy checked.
“Nothing at all!” he proclaimed.
Except that personal space mattered a lot to him and he suddenly felt that his was being invaded by someone who had never done anything of this nature before. Emmy was so close now that their noses were only centimetres apart. How had he not picked up on this sooner?
“You seem nervous,” she insisted, “Maybe we should get you a cup of tea before we head back home.”
“Tea? Yes. Tea would be nice,” he mumbled.
“Though I have to say, red suits you,” she added, poking her tongue out, before moving off to make the tea.
“Th-that was quite uncalled for!” gasped Layton, hoping that his face didn’t look as flushed as she said it did.
“Can’t blame me from wanting to have a little fun, can you? Honestly Professor, you get so easily flustered sometimes,” Emmy laughed, then she glanced over to see the look on his face, “Okay, I’m sorry. That was a bit mean. But I just couldn’t help myself.”
Layton replied, “I wouldn’t want you to think of me as not having a sense of humour. Forgive me; my nerves are a little out of sorts. I’ve spent most of the day worrying.”
“That’s… very sweet of you,” said Emmy, pouring out two cups of tea.
The worst part is, she actually meant it. She knew that he cared about her and she genuinely found it sweet that he did. Which was worrying, since the whole point of her being here was to make him trust her but not get emotionally involved herself.
The Commander would never accept weakness. But it wasn’t as if she had to tell him.
“Thank you,” hummed Layton, taking his cup of tea and sipping it politely.
“You’re welcome,” Emmy murmured.
“Is everything all right, my dear? You look like your mind is elsewhere,” he asked.
That’s because it is, she thought.
“Oh, I’m fine,” she said out loud, “It’s just been a busy day, that’s all.”
“Well, I’m always here if you need to talk,” he assured her.
“I know,” she whispered.
She’d always known that. And he was so… genuine. Half of the time Emmy worried that he suspected her, but even if that was the case it never stopped him from caring. Which would make it hurt all the more when he did find out about her ties elsewhere…
And that would be soon. Very soon. She knew it in herself.
But for just a little while longer, they were simply Layton and Emmy, the Professor and his assistant, drinking tea together in university and not thinking about tomorrow.