There is an instant of panic when he feels a hand on his shoulder. He's been found. They're going to hoist him to his feet hit him in the stomach empty his lungs bash his face until he drops so they can drag him to the room to the aviary to the field to be tied up on display a scarecrow—
He's on his feet, turning, staggering, supporting himself against his desk, reaching for canisters that aren't there, looking at Linda where she stands illuminated against the lamp. Like a ghost.
She draws back quickly.
"I'm sorry Professor Crane," and it's just above a whisper, the words a rush he almost can't catch, "You fell asleep and it didn't seem right to leave you there all night. I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have—"
"It's fine." The breath leaves him, he lets his head drop, runs a hand over his face. Stops, straightens his glasses. Looks up again. "It's fine. Stop apologizing."
"I'm sorry," she says, then quickly covers her mouth."Shit!"
Jonathan chuckles despite himself. The remaining tension drains. He leans back. "Waking up like that would have been inconvenient. You did the right thing."
"Thank you, sir." Her cheeks are scarlet. It isn't something she can hide. His mouth quirks, and this time he catches himself and looks away. It doesn't quite dissipate.
"Um." He turns. Linda is peering up at him, hands clasped at her waist. No makeup tonight. "Are…you should really go to bed."
He cocks an eyebrow. Waits.
She's practically wringing her hands, peeking at the floor and back, ponytail mussed and so white he almost can't believe she's real. "You've been working very hard these past few days and I know this is important to you but it's okay, we're already ahead of schedule and if you want I can finish in the meantime so there's nothing left to worry about—"
"It's not that important, actually." He hums once, amused. "Only a job when it all comes down to it. I do get wrapped up sometimes."
She hesitates. "So you're… You don't mind?"
He yawns, stretches, arms extending over his head absently. Grimaces and drops back down when his shirt rises, revealing a patch of skin.
Of course Linda giggles. Of course.
"Shit," he says wryly, which only makes it worse, she's covering her mouth with both hands as he straightens. "But no," she looks up as he says it, her eyes crinkling at the corners, "I don't mind."
He walks toward the door, arm flitting into a casual wave. "Goodnight, Linda."
"Goodnight," he hears behind him. A moment passes, he's almost out when she calls. "Jonathan?"
Naturally he pauses. She hurries to meet him, stops, hesitates again.
"Yes?" he prompts. Linda beckons. Jonathan sighs, leans forward.
The kiss lands on his forehead, so quick it could almost be imagined, warm and moist and a little too hard before she darts back.
"Happy Valentine's Day."