Fandom(s): Doctor Who (modern)
Characters: AU - Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble, Sylvia Noble, Wilfred Mott, Lance Bennett, Nerys
Pairing(s): Tenth Doctor/Donna Noble
Rating: R (well, probably more PG-13)
Genre: Sci-fi, adventure
Summary: Original AU. A normal human in a world in which a handful of individuals have suddenly developed superpowers, Donna lives her mundane life whilst always keeping one eye to the skies to catch a glimpse of the city's new heroes.
Word count (chapter): 5351
Donna anticipated being the focus of company gossip for a while and resolved to bear it with grace and as little malice as possible. When she arrived at work, she was amazed to find that the news of her breakup with Lance hadn’t yet hit the grapevine, but as she thought about it, it was only to be expected: she hadn’t yet told her family, and beyond them, she’d only told Nerys, who wasn’t one to gossip normally and, as a company manager, would be doubly discreet. Donna was certain that Lance would never mention it on his own, so the only clue that might tip anyone off was the large box waiting for her on her chair.
As soon as Donna entered the office, Veena informed her that Lance had dropped the box off without a word. Donna realised that she could prevent at least some of the churning of the rumour mill by telling her friend the facts right away and so she explained that she’d dumped Lance after finding him in bed with another woman and the box contained her things from his flat. It was easy enough to spin a believable story without mention of Lance’s alternate identity and the reason why he had been sleeping around. As she spoke, she was surprised to find that only one day later, she was not particularly regretful or angry, though she enjoyed Veena’s sympathy and solicitousness throughout the morning. By lunch, it was apparent that Veena had spread the news as Donna had expected she would and everyone was talking about her love life.
It was a mercy that she and Lance did not work together and didn’t see each other on a regular basis. He did come down to see her once, to ask for a second chance and then, when that idea was met with disdain, complain that she’d aired their dirty laundry to the company. When she countered that she’d given out a minimum of details to keep the gossipers happy and that she certainly could have told them a whole lot more, he pursed his lips angrily and, saying not another word, strode out of her life.
From there, it was a matter of dealing with her co-workers. Luckily, only her closer friends dared to bring up the subject directly with her, to comfort and support her and not for gossip. Anna and, surprisingly, Brian put the work on their important project on hold and insisted on taking her to the pub that evening, and the pints and the camaraderie did wonders for her spirit. She did notice that both of the engineers seemed rather exhausted and she looked forward to the project ending in ten days so that they could finally rest.
Recovery came much quicker than she thought it would as she fell back into her daily routine and realised that Lance hadn’t actually been an integral part of it. They had enjoyed spending time together, but unlike in other relationships she’d had in the past, she’d never moved in with him and had spent most of her nights at home, averaging only two or three nights at Lance’s flat per week. In hindsight, it was obvious that he’d arranged that carefully so that he had most evenings to be a hero. Now that he was gone, she found that his absence really didn’t make that much of an impact on her life. It was only the hole in her heart that she had to heal.
There was an addition to the family’s familiar weekly cadence that brought an unexpected source of comfort: Wilf’s new stargazing mate made it a point to accompany him up the hill twice a week, and, pleased for both him and Gramps that they’d become such friends, Donna smiled every time he arrived. Even as he got more comfortable with Wilf, Jon said very little to Donna, preferring to favour her with a quiet greeting and then stand in a corner until Wilf joined them. She did find, however, that with a little effort, she was starting to convince him that she didn’t bite and could coax a few more words out of him. It certainly wasn’t easy, as she forced herself to restrain her usual exuberant, overpowering attitude, but was worth it: on his current trajectory, in about half a year, he might actually say a hundred words to her in one night. And she was getting to know him a bit as well.
The one thing that Donna didn’t anticipate having to deal with was the frequent mentions of Silver Falcon on the television and the newspaper. The first occurrence had been the night of the riot, during the evening news, which reported on the conflict between Kathica and the Power Down movement and discussed the idea that perhaps the primes were out of control; they pointed out that whilst the riot had been instigated by Downers, Kathica had fueled it and kept it going. The announcer noted that Silver Falcon had arrived late to the scene but lauded him for finally breaking up the clash and preventing quite a bit of injury and property damage. Sylvia took the opportunity to re-express her suspicions about the primes, and Donna hadn’t the heart to argue. Her ardour for them had certainly cooled, and though she knew she needed to appear just as excited for Silver Falcon as she had always been to keep her mother from suspecting anything, she just couldn’t force herself to defend him. She found herself using the break-up as an excuse for her lack of interest in the subject; not even her mother would be so heartless as to provoke her grieving daughter.
A week turned into two, and work returned to normal. As the Keller project drew to a close, the engineers picked up new projects and Donna found herself happily busy serving them. By the end of Keller, her only task had been Tom’s old project, which Jon was finishing up, but since it was also in its final stages, there hadn’t been much for her to do, leaving her far too much idle time spent brooding on her problems. Two new projects, one assigned to Brian and the other to Tom and Anna meant plenty of work for both Donna and Veena, and that’s exactly how Donna liked it, not that that would stop her from complaining.
“It’s either no work or thirty tasks at once,” Donna whinged at Brian as she took the sheaf of notes he’d brought her to type up. “Ever thought about finding a happy medium?”
“Blame Nerys,” he responded as he sat on the edge of Donna’s desk. “She wants to hire another engineer and another mechanic but they won’t approve it, so she’s taking on more than we can handle so that we look short-handed. I expect we’ll get a third project in soon.”
“And we all drop dead of exhaustion. Well, it’s better than being idle.” She riffled through the papers to see if there were any glaring problems with the work.
“I suppose.” His voice dropped an octave and turned gentle. “Been a tough couple of weeks for you, hasn’t it?”
“Oh, it’s not so bad once you realise the universe has it in for you,” Donna joked as she dropped the folder onto the top of her inbox. “It’s been better than you’d expect after finding your long-time boyfriend cheating on you.”
“Now, that was a surprise,” Brian stated, pointing a finger at her. “I never expected Lance to be the type.”
“Well, you never know what someone might be hiding. Taught me to watch a bit closer, you know?” A bit of bitterness slipped out and she flashed a cheerful grin at Brian to let him know she appreciated his concern.
“I have to say, I was surprised you told people why you two broke up.”
Donna smiled to herself. She hadn’t revealed everything, of course. No one would believe her. She’d only said that Lance had cheated on her. “Oh, that was planned. I told Veena, and you know, once you tell her, everyone knows.” They both laughed at that. “I wanted to stop the rumour mill. I knew the HR girls were going to drag my name through the mud so I figured I’d put it all out there to see.”
Brian smirked. “That isn’t stopping them, you know. Especially Dawn and Lina. Those two harpies.”
“Yeah, but the people who matter know the truth.” She leant forward and squeezed his arm.
“Lance seems to be leaving you alone, at least.”
“Yeah, he is. Mostly, he doesn’t come down here anyway, but he’s smart. He wouldn’t dare provoke me.” Because I know too much, she thought to herself. I wouldn’t unmask him, because he’s right, there’s the greater good to consider, but he wouldn’t risk it. “It’s all water under the bridge now.” It really was. She’d moved on, faster and easier than she’d ever thought she could.
“It’s good to see you bouncing back so well.” He leaned back a bit, catching her gaze with his sparkling blue eyes. “Is it too soon to ask you to join me for dinner tonight? Marie’s, maybe? No pressure. I’d just like to get to know you better.”
Donna was stunned. She’d been seeing Lance for so long that she hadn’t even considered any of her coworkers to be anything more than just friends. Her thoughts flew to the Doctor… But no, he’d made it quite clear that he had no intention of sharing his personal life with her. Recovering quickly, she smiled. “Not too soon at all. I’d love to.”
His mischievous smile made Donna feel like she had just agreed to become his partner in crime rather than go on a date with him, and it felt wonderful. She could not let him get away with that. “Though, you should know that your suit would stand a better chance if you hadn’t just dumped a bunch of work on me,” she teased, tapping the folder he’d just left for her.
“Then why don’t I just do this?” Grabbing the folder from under Donna’s hand, Brian hopped over and dumped it into Veena’s inbox.
Laughing, Donna waved a hand at the work. “Give it back here, you wally! That’s for my project. Honestly, it’s nice to have something to do.”
“I guess you haven’t had much, have you?” he asked as he brought the folder back to her. “With Veena assigned to Keller, all you had was Tom’s project, which probably didn’t have much left for you to do.”
“I’m the new queen of solitaire,” she stage-whispered, then continued in a normal volume. “I have to say, I’m glad Keller’s over. You all worked too hard on that thing.”
Brian shrugged. “It’s not work when the project is interesting. Been a very busy month, but that was some innovative technology. Too bad we can’t get any white papers out of it.”
“Proprietary information,” he stated. “It’s part of the contract. Everything’s to stay locked up in the project files.”
“Well, you can experiment with it in your spare time, can’t you?” Donna suggested. “That’s what you did with those bits and bobs from that thing you built for that bossy professor woman from Birmingham.”
Brian rolled his eyes at the memory of the difficult academic. “Dr. Seavey, she was. Yeah, I could, but I don’t want to.”
“Just don’t, really.” Picking up Donna’s stapler, he began fiddling with the catch on the hinge. “Time to move on. Once they get that cock-up in the contract sorted out and Keller pays their bills, the machine will be out of Lab 8A and we can start work on the new project.”
The door flew open, slamming against the wall, and Veena swooped in. “Oi! Come on down to the lobby! You gotta see this!”
“See what?” asked Brian.
“Kathica and Crimson Angel. They’re down there, in full costume. Come on, shift!” she beckoned, then dashed out.
Donna and Brian jumped up to follow. “What do they want?” Donna asked.
“How should I know? Veena replied over her shoulder. “Iris just texted me that they’re there.”
The three sprinted down the hallway, picking up more people as Veena yelled the news as they ran, and, expecting the lift to be occupied with would-be gawkers, the mob piled down the stairs to the first floor to look out over the reception area from the balcony that ringed it. Veena’s report was accurate: Kathica, in her gold lamé leotard and bleach-blonde flowing hair, and Crimson Angel, in her much more sober deep red bodysuit and mask covering her nose and mouth, stood unmoving in front of Julie, the terrified receptionist, their stoic demeanour and palpable aura of command cowing the crowd gathering above. Between them stood a dark-haired man in a plain black business suit. A nervous murmur of whispers floated down but did not distract them from their purpose.
“What are they doing here? What do they want?” Brian wondered to Donna and Veena.
Donna scanned the lobby and the three figures in it for any clues, but came up empty. “I have no idea.” Glancing up at the spectators, she spotted Lance across the way and waited until she caught his eye. There was no mistaking her question, and he shook his head and shrugged.
After a minute of tension, Nerys emerged from the door behind the reception desk and approached. Greeting the two primes and the man between them with respect, she stepped close and conferred with them in voices too low to hear. Annoyance and indignation flitted across her face, replaced quickly by resignation, and nodding, she looked up at the gathered crowd. With a finger, she called down all of the members of her group except for Donna and jerked her head in the direction from which she’d come. She then pronounced in a very calm voice, “The rest of you, back to work,” and turned to the three visitors and gestured for them to precede her in. As soon as the door closed behind them, the audience burst into confused discussion. With wide eyes, Veena grasped Donna’s hand then scampered off with Brian.
“You’ll be fine!” Donna called as they retreated. Glancing around the balcony, she saw the executives and the legal team pushing their way through the crowd to get back into the main building quickly. She also noticed Lance making a special effort to get back inside. He must be going to find out what’s happening, she thought. Though as far as she knew, the primes worked independently, they relied on each other for support and Silver Falcon would want to know what his allies were up to.
“What’s going on, Donna?” Sharon, a secretary in Percy’s engineering group startled Donna out of her thoughts, and as they entered the hall, other people nearby were leaning in to get the scoop.
“First I’ve heard of any trouble, and Nerys called down everyone but me. I’ve no idea why. Anyone know who that bloke in the suit was?” No one knew, and Donna shook her head. “Then I really don’t know.”
“We’ll find out soon enough, I’m sure, whenever they’re done,” remarked someone Donna didn’t know on the other side of the Sharon.
“Yeah. Best we get back to our offices,” Donna murmured.
The wait for news was interminable. Having plenty of work to do, Donna kept herself busy, but she jumped at every little noise, as they all sounded like Veena returning. Thus, she startled out of her chair, sending her papers and pen flying, when someone actually did walk into the office.
With a quick hand, Jon caught the pen in midair before it clattered to the floor. “Oh, I… I’m sorry, Donna. I should’ve knocked.” He indicated the door, which Donna and Veena normally left open all day to encourage people to enter freely.
Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Donna began grabbing the papers scattered across her desk. “Don’t be daft, Jon. That’s just me being jumpy.” She sat back down. “So how did it go?”
“Oh.” He paused with a confused frown, his eyes darting back and forth, then began fiddling with the pen. “Well… I… Er, it went as well as can be expected, I suppose. I mean, I’m not much of an electrical engineer so I can’t really tell why it’s not working, but I thought maybe if I could see the original reason for rebuilding the circuit, I could trace the problem.”
It was Donna’s turn to be confused. “Wait, what are you talking about?”
Jon flinched slightly, as if he expected a slap in the face. “Tom’s old project, the custom high-vacuum spectrometer for the University of Glasgow. That’s what you asked, isn’t it?’
“No, I meant the thing the primes came for.”
An eyebrow shot up, and Jon dropped the pen on the desk. “Er, what?”
“In the lobby, an hour ago?” she prompted him. When that drew even deeper confusion, she clarified, “Kathica and Crimson Angel, and Nerys calling all of you down?”
“Me? No, I, er… I’ve been in Lab 2 all day.”
“Oh! I thought…” Reviewing the scene in the lobby, Donna pictured Nerys pointing at… Tom, Brian, Veena, Dave, Anna, Aaron… Jon wasn’t there. “Then it was just the others!” she exclaimed.
“What was?” Jon was thoroughly lost.
Donna quickly recounted the events of an hour ago, to the engineer’s amazement. “But I didn’t realise that you weren’t one of them. And that means -”
“That means she only called down people who worked on the Keller project.” Staring up at the ceiling as he thought, Jon scrubbed a hand down over his mouth. “I can’t recall any other time three engineers and both mechanics were all on one project.”
“Well, isn’t that special?” Donna murmured as she turned to her computer and began typing.
“Brian was just telling me that there was a problem with the contract and that the product wasn’t going to be delivered until it was all sorted. Hold on a tick.” She brought up a file and scanned through it. “Yup, as I thought. The thing was signed out twenty minutes ago.”
“So Keller brought in primes to sort a legal issue?” Jon’s voice squeaked in disbelief as he came up behind her to peer at the screen.
“Seems like it,” Donna mumbled, still studying the paperwork.
“What is the Keller project, anyway?” he mused.
“Don’t you know?” Donna squeaked. “I mean, you share your office with Brian.”
“Well, yes, but, er, we don’t talk much, really.” With an embarrassed shrug, he glanced at Donna’s screen again. “So what is it, do you know?”
Donna tried to remember what Anna had told her. “It’s a lens.”
“A lens?” Jon held his hands up in front of him with fingers in a circle to ask if it was exactly that, a polished disk of curved glass.
Having no real idea of how true that was, Donna threw her hands up and shrugged. “Well, that’s what I said and Anna said close enough. It’s for focusing energy, she said.”
Jon frowned for a moment as he thought about that idea, then shook his head. “Can you pull up the schematics?” he requested as he started to roll up the sleeves of his pale blue shirt.
“Should be able to,” Donna murmured as she searched the network for the project files. “I only have a read access license on this computer,” she said as double-clicked a file.
“That’s all we need. Mind if I...?” He choked on the end of his sentence and pointed at the computer and chair.
“Oh, please. I’m not half useless at this.” They quickly switched places and Jon began examining the schematics.
“A lens, a lens,” he murmured to himself as he read.
Donna pointed at a spot. “That’s the thing I saw Anna working on. She said it was for preventing feedback.”
“Okay. Hmm.” Crossing his arms over his chest, Jon tugged at an ear as he continued to examine the display. “I don’t really see how this would focus energy. I mean, first, what type of energy are we talking about? I think this could be input here,” and he tapped the screen, “but it would dissipate long before it came out, which would be over here if it ever got that far.” He scrolled over and tapped a different part of the design.
“But that’s what she said,” Donna insisted. “It focuses energy. I’m sure of it.”
“Wait.” He drew a hand down his jaw, then pointed at the feedback circuit. “Did she say this prevents feedback? Are you sure?”
“Because if it collects feedback instead and pipes it back into the system, and…” He popped himself on the forehead with the heel of his hand. “This over here is a converter, not a sink like I thought it was. So many of these systems are ingenious tweaks of common designs, I couldn’t tell... So put all together, what does it do?” He held up a finger as he worked out the last bit. “It’s not a lens. It doesn’t focus. It amplifies.” For a moment, he allowed himself a tiny proud smile, then frowned again. “But why? What is this thing supposed to fit into? Because it’s obvious it’s supposed to fit into something.”
Donna had already been lost back when Jon had mentioned types of inputs and outputs. Her job required being able to construct complete sentences out of the mess of technobabble the engineers scrawled down, but she normally didn’t need to understand any of it. Instead, she’d been watching his mobile face as he’d worked through the design, fascinated by how expressive and intelligent he was during unguarded moments. Caught off-guard by the question aimed at her, she shrugged. “I don’t know. Some new energy source, maybe?”
Jon frowned and stared at her. “Why would you think that?” he asked, his tone thoughtful, trying to figure out Donna’s reasoning rather than expressing disbelief. “Given its size and shape, this looks more like it’s meant to be portable.”
Donna shrugged. “Well, an energy source is more like what an environmental company would make, I’d think.”
“Keller is an environmental company?” he squeaked, astonished.
“It’s right in the name. Keller Environmentals.”
Jon opened a web browser and typed the name into the search bar. No exact matches were returned. “Did I spell that right?”
Donna leant over to peer at the screen to check what he had typed. “As far as I know.”
“A company with no webpage in this day and age? And not even a mention in any news media or industry blogs?” Frustrated by the nonsense he was reading, Jon slumped back in the chair and raked a hand through his hair.
“Could be new. Here, let me.” They switched places again and Donna brought up the client files. “Keller Environmentals. No street address, only a P.O. box. Company contact is a man named Harold Saxon.”
Jon frowned over her shoulder at the screen. “No listings for legal, accounting, or technical contacts. Did this Harold Saxon do everything?”
“That would explain the legal issues with the contract, wouldn’t it?” Donna flopped back in the chair. “Why does that name sound familiar?”
“Don’t know. Never heard of it before.”
“No, wait! I know where I’ve heard it.” Ducking down to slide open the bottom drawer of her desk, Donna pulled her handbag out and dug in it, pulling out a folded paper that had been crushed under the other items. Smoothing it out, she held it up for Jon to see. “I knew it! He’s running for mayor as an independent.” She pointed at the smiling face on the cover of the pamphlet. “That’s definitely the man from the lobby today.”
Jon stared at the paper like she’d just pulled an armadillo out of her purse. “Where did you get that from?”
“They were handing them out in a park in Chiswick, maybe three weeks ago?” Unfolding the paper, she glanced over the contents. “I meant to read it, but I forgot about it.”
“Hmm,” he murmured, his head bobbing in amazement at her discovery. “Considering an independent?”
“I try to look at everyone,” she shrugged as she skimmed. “You know, there’s never one that I like. And their wives tend to set the ‘never want to be caught dead in that’ fashion trend for the year.”
Jon grinned in spite of himself. “Ah. I’m strict Labour all the way. Well, I voted for Livingstone when he went independent, but, well, that was voting for Labour, really.” Realising he was talking politics, he coloured and looked anywhere except at her. His eyes alighted on the pamphlet. “May I?” he asked, gesturing at it.
Taking it, he scanned through it quickly. “Well, that’s political propaganda for you. It’s all tosh about how he’ll bring London to the fore again and uphold family values without a lick about his actual policies. What’s his website say?”
Donna turned back to the computer and searched. “Well, he has a website, at least.” She was about to click on the link when Jon stopped her with a hand on her shoulder, which he quickly snatched away.
“No, click the one below it,” he asked, pointing at the screen. “Please,” he mumbled as an afterthought.
The page bloomed into a news article about the up-and-coming candidate, detailing Saxon’s meteoric rise in popularity since his entry into the mayoral race six weeks previously. Describing him as a grass-roots candidate, the article detailed how he eschewed the media and preferred to speak directly to small live audiences and campaign door-to-door. He was known for refusing to allow news cameras at his rallies, claiming that the sound bites that get out to the public that way destroyed his message. The article noted that if he maintained his trajectory in the polls, he wouldn’t be able to defeat either of the two frontrunners, but he’d garner a large percentage of the votes and would be a power in the next election.
“What’s so fantastic about him then?” Donna murmured after they’d finished reading and she started exploring his campaign website.
“I’ve no idea,” Jon replied, at a loss for words. As Donna navigated the website, they skimmed it silently; and Jon spoke only to ask to see specific things. As with the pamphlet, they found little information about his platform, though they did find his history, as the proprietor of computer repair company. Saxon had been active in his community for years, but not to any remarkable extent, and there was no mention of any other attempts to run for public office. There was also no mention of his owning an environmental company.
“So,” Jon pronounced, ticking off what they knew on his fingers as Donna spun in her chair to face him, “this independent candidate for mayor of London is a nobody business owner who seems to be poised to be elected by landslide four years from now, despite the fact that no one knows what he stands for. He’s the only employee of a company that doesn’t exist and commissions a next-gen energy amplifier, then shows up with primes to pick it up after a legal cock-up.”
“Seems like,” she nodded. It was a succinct and accurate summation of everything they knew.
He caught her gaze, his eyes dark. “Which implies?”
Donna took a wild guess. “That he needs the device right now, probably for his campaign, and they came here to take the deliverables home, because why else would you need a superstrength and an energy blaster?”
Jon returned her nod. “One to carry the device and one to imply that they’ll blast their way in and out if someone tries to stop them. But why would his campaign need a specialised amplifier...”
“...and how did he convince Kathica and Crimson Angel to do this?” That was the thing that was bothering Donna. How does anyone go about getting superheroes to exercise their powers, or at least their reputation and intimidation, in a mundane situation? “Unless now they’re enforcing contract law.”
“And will you look at this?” Jon reached across her to tap on the screen. “A calendar of appearances. His last appearance was last week, but he’s got one on Sunday - look, a big one, his biggest yet - and then more frequently throughout the rest of the campaign season all across London, almost every day.” He paced away. “Just what is going on? Why does he need an energy amplifier at a campaign rally?” he murmured to himself, thinking.
Donna tapped her chin, then spun and picked up the phone. As she made her call and waited for an answer, Jon stopped and watched her. “Hey, Ron, it’s Donna… Yeah… That’s what I was calling about… Do you know where… Sure, I understand. Thanks.”
As she replaced the receiver in the cradle, Jon grinned at her. “If you need to know where something’s going, you ask shipping! That was a fantastic idea! Oh, Donna, you are brilliant!” Stunned by both his compliment and his phrasing, she whirled to face him, her ginger hair flipping over her shoulder, but he was gazing into space, his arms crossed and one finger tapping the tip of his nose. “Wish he could have told you where they were sending it.”
Donna stared at him. “How’d you hear that?”
Jon waved away her question. “Ron’s loud. Quite clear.” He strode away from the desk. “I just don’t see what there is to do. All we have is conjecture.”
Turning back to her desk, she found her notepad and began writing down everything they’d figured out. “We've quite a bit of evidence that something’s fishy.”
“Most of it is confidential by contract.” Jon began pacing nervously again, as if he’d had too much coffee and couldn’t keep himself still. “Really, we’ve no proof that anything is actually wrong, and even less facility to do anything about it.”
“Maybe if we can tell a prime like Silver Falcon…” Donna forced herself to sound like she’d lost hope and was throwing out a weak suggestion. Jon wouldn’t know that telling Silver Falcon was the easiest and best path.
The engineer didn’t even break his stride. “Is that even possible? Not by me, it isn’t.”
“Yeah. Not the best suggestion. Well, I'll ask Nerys about what’s going on.” Donna collapsed back in her chair as if defeated. It was time to rid herself of Jon and find Lance. He was the one who would sort this. “She'll know what to do.”
Jon stopped and eyed her closely. “Okay, but please let me know as soon as you see something suspicious. I don’t want you getting caught up in something dangerous.”
“Of course. I'll be careful.” Donna had no intention of getting Jon involved in anything, not when Lance was only a couple of levels above them. It was useful to personally know a powerful prime. “You said you came in for something?”
“What?” That eyebrow that shot up when Jon was confused nearly made Donna giggle.
“When you came in,” she reminded him. “You said you needed a circuit or something.”
“Oh! Oh! Yes!” he exclaimed before realising how familiar he was being with Donna and took a step back. “The pre-design work. For Tom’s project. Could you please send me those?” His request was much more sober and formal.
“Of course, Jon. I’ll email them right away.” She couldn’t help but grin fondly at him. He was both sharp and personable when he let himself be, and they’d worked together like a charm.
“Thank you, Donna.” She wasn’t quite sure how he did it, but his soft smile lit up the room. He loped toward the door, then, hesitating for a step, turned back. “Take care of yourself,” he urged.
“You, too, Jon,” she called as he headed back to his office.