The moron in the next cubicle was driving her insane.
Donna stared at the computer screen in front of her, the headset speaking straight into her ear as her fingers transcribed the words without thinking.
How had it come to this?
She had thought she was past temp work. Beyond the slogging daily drive of normal life. As the sting of tears began to burn at the corners of her eyes, she glanced again at the imbecile on the next desk. His pure stupidity was a sufficient distraction for her mind as her fingers typed on with rote precision.
Snapping out the last period with a harsh jab and clicking off to save and submit, she ripped the micro Bluetooth nodule from her ear. Stark Industries had amazing technology, but apparently it was a little too amazing for some people.
“Bloody fucking hell, just hand it over.” Her words were redundant as she ripped the tiny device from the troglodyte’s hand. “Twenty minutes to do something and you waste the first fifteen.”
Donna’s fingers slid through the touch screen interface before adapting to the projected surface and keying in the code to her headset. There was no way this temp job was turning permanent… the whining little bastard was already running off to complain to their supervisor about her. Why was she the last person on this planet with a work ethic?
Already keying up a new file and letting her fingers fly as a smooth voice spoke rapid fire in her ear, Donna mentally cursed love, marriage, and all forms of emotional baggage. One more temp job down the drain. At this rate, she’d have to start calling up a few former associates for assistance… She didn’t really want to work for Unit or Torchwood, but bleeding Christ, at least it would be a job. At least it would pay the bills.
Even if it would be completely humiliating.
The yank in the overly pricey suit was strolling back down the hall towards their little nest of cubicles. She focused, whipping out the last few words on the recording, before hitting print and transmitting the file to the computer storage code associated with the recorder.
The confused executive stopped at the empty desk next to Donna and frowned. Turning, he raised an eyebrow at her as she slipped the node from her ear. “Where’s Mark?” he asked, slipping his sunglasses into the pocket of his suit.
Sunglasses inside a building, she thought, in perpetually cloudy London. What a tosser. “It’s Martin… and he’s probably crying in the loo over his own incompetence and sense of inadequacy.”
The man looked down at the printout she handed him and slipped the recorder into a pocket. “This is spelled correctly,” he pointed to a particular word on the page.
Donna restrained the first comment that sprang to her tongue. “And?”
“This word didn’t exist before I used it.”
Rolling her eyes, Donna summed up, “I extrapolated.”
“It’s all correct.” He looked up at her and narrowed his eyes. “Did Shield put you in here?”
Sighing, Donna reached down at grabbed her purse out of the desk. Here came Martin, following their supervisor with a smug little smirk on his weasel face. “Look, I don’t know who or what Shield is… Since I’m about to get fired anyway, of course it’s bleeding correct. I do have half a brain unlike some of the tits working in this department.”
His eyes narrowed further, a slight hint that he might sometime in the future be inclined to smile. It broke the serious look of his face and made him something that someone might consider handsome. Not Donna, of course, she was seriously thinking about becoming a lesbian.
“Mr. Stark,” her supervisor exclaimed in near horror before aiming a lethal glare at Donna. “I do hope that Ms. Noble hasn’t irretrievably damaged your file? I’ve already terminated her temporary contract.”
Donna sighed. Just great. She gets fired and mouths off to one of the richest businessmen on the planet all at the same time. It was a fantastic talent, apparently. She never thought she’d see a day where exploding volcanoes, killer aliens, and psychotic machines were easier to survive than it was to keep a steady income.
Of course she wouldn’t need it if… No, she corrected herself firmly. She would not go there.
Tony Stark, the owner of the British subsidiary of Stark Technologies that she’d been temporarily working for, surprisingly broke his façade of gloom to beam a wide smile at the obnoxious twerp that was in charge of the transcription pool. “Then since you no longer need her, she’s free for lunch.”
He turned, sliding his hand into the crook of Donna’s elbow, and ushered her towards the elevator. Glancing back once at the gaping fools, Donna kept a grip on her purse and allowed herself to be guided along until the doors slid shut behind them.
In the elevator, she turned with a temper and hit the stop button. “I’m not going to sleep with you.”
Tony slouched back against the mirrored wall and smirked. “Fine.”
Donna watched her infinite reflections narrow their eyes. She was being kidnapped by a suited, smirking, know it all that could have his own way whenever he wanted it.
“Are you an alien?”
The question had been instinct, the flinch was unexpected. Stark straightened up, becoming all business.
“I need an executive assistant,” he rattled out, naming an amount that would be ludicrous in either dollars or pounds sterling. “Do you want the job?”
“You don’t know anything about me!” she responded incredulously.
He held up his phone, her face looking back at her from it. “I have your personnel file. You’re qualified.”
Donna stepped backwards, leaning against the elevator wall. The intercom spoke before she could.
“Sir, the building security is inquiring as to the status of this car.”
“Jarvis!” Tony acknowledged with a smile. “Quickest linkup yet, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, sir. I am now fully integrated into all Stark properties.”
“Excellent, please tell security I’ll release it in a minute. I’m interviewing here.”
Silence fell and he turned that sharp-eyed gaze on Donna. She swallowed, straightening up and dropping her purse to the floor so she could cross her arms over her chest. Raising her chin, she decided that perhaps another crazy man in a suit was exactly what her life needed.
“I have terms.”
His eyebrow flickered up and down. “Negotiations always do.”
“Executive assistant, not personal assistant?”
“Jarvis is my personal assistant. I need someone at my office.”
“New York City headquarters.”
Donna took a deep breath. Total change of pace, that might be good. It wasn’t like she had much left… Grandfather passed away, mother married and moved to Australia of all places.
“Work is work, but I won’t be sending flowers to your girlfriends or dealing with angry exes.”
Tony smirked. “What makes you think any of them would be angry?”
Donna stared at him until he lost the smirk.
“No problem,” he finally said. “You’ll be strictly on the business end of things. I have Jarvis for the rest.”
“And you will treat me with respect at all times… None of that sweetie, darling, girlie misogynistic condescension.”
“Of course, Ms. Noble.”
Donna took a deep breath. The look on his face. She remembered that look on another face. A not quite a man standing at her door with the solution to all her money worries and a guaranteed easy life… Back before her thrice-damned husband gambled it all away and killed himself rather than admit it.
“When do I start?”
Stark hit a button to start the elevator moving again and leaned back into the mirrored wall with a blinding smile. Yes, that was the expression she’d seen on a few dozen magazine covers. Successful, self-assured, where was the wounded creature from earlier, she wondered.
The elevator came to a stop and he started walking, sliding his sunglasses back on his face.
Donna hesitated for a moment, wondering what exactly she had just done, before picking up her purse and striding after him. At least he was shorter than the last one she’d decided on a whim to follow around… easier to keep up with.
“Jarvis will put in the paperwork for employment, visas, all that,” Stark waved the thought away, speaking under the assumption that she was following closely. She was, after all. “It should be ready in time for my flight back on Friday. I have one of my latest tablets in the car. You can work off that until we get you a proper setup.”
He came to an abrupt stop next to a black town car. “Any questions, Ms. Noble?”
The eyebrow arching above his sunglasses mocked her. She ignored it, pointedly glancing up at the heavy layer of clouds blocking the sun.
“None, Mr. Stark,” she answered, sliding into the car when the chauffeur opened the door.