At 10 PM, the Executive Office Lobby was quiet. Harmony sat behind the Reception Desk. She'd made a few calls, asking people to call back, if they had any word about the whereabouts of Dawn Summers.
Before they left Sunnydale, Harmony had remembered to put a copy of the Vampire's Handbook, in the dead girl's hand. She hoped that Dawn had taken it with her.
The door to Wesley's office opened, and Fred stepped out into the Lobby, shutting the door behind herself. She came over to the desk.
"Harmony." She said, "You're going to have to cancel all of Mr. Wyndham-Price's appointments, for the rest of tonight. Tomorrow night, things will be back to normal.
"No. As a matter of fact, everything's going to be better than ever around here."
Fred licked her lips. She looked at the engagement ring that remained on her finger, smiled pleasantly, and softly burped.
Harmony asked, "So tell me Fred, how you like being a vampire so far?"
"So far, I've never felt stronger or healthier than I am now. I've never felt more alive, than I have since I've been dead. On the other hand, I'll never have children; and today I'm back at work, doing the same job I did before I got vamped."
Harmony shrugged, "Aren't we all?"
"Harmony?" Fred asked, "Do you ever feel bad, knowing that you'll never have a child?"
"Yeah. Sometimes, but I don't dwell on it. Then all I need is to hear one of those brats screaming and squalling, and I feel good about it."
An elevator opened, and Xander stepped out into the Lobby. He came over to Harmony.
"Good evening Xander." She said, "You can tell Anya, that every Potential Slayer on Buffy's list is dead, and full colored glossy pictures of their naked corpses, will be featured in the next issue of 'Undead Living" Magazine', which she can purchase over the internet. They're also going to appear in our next Dead Nudies Calendar; one of them a month, for eight months. That can also be purchased over the internet; just in case you're interested."
Xander asked, "In case I'm interested, in looking at pictures of naked dead women?"
"Of course you are Xander." Harmony told him, "Necrophilia is part of being a vampire."
Then Fred asked Harmony, "Only eight dead nudie vampire victims, when it's a twelve month calendar?"
Harmony told her, "We can add the photos I took of you and Dawn, on our first night in Sunnydale. Then we'll only have to look for two more."
"But I wasn't a Potential Slayer. Dawn might have been, but I was on our side."
"You we're a dead nudie. For the calendar, that's all that matters."
Then the receptionist told Xander, "Tell Anya that Wolfram and Hart is already paying $10,000 a piece for each photo, but nothing more."
Now Xander spoke. "I got a call from Anya on my cell phone. She says that Dawn has run away from Sunnydale."
"We got a call from her too." Fred said, "I'm not surprised."
He told them, "Before we left Sunnydale, Anya told me, that she'd make sure, that Dawn would get to school on time."
"Get to school on time?" Harmony said, "Yeah-right. Since when do they have night classes at Sunnydale High, for vampires?"
Fred told her, "She can always get her G.E.D. diploma through the mail. A lot of our people here did. You did."
Xander told them, "Dawn's a smart girl. She wouldn't have just run off, without some kind of a plan."
Fred asked, "Do you think she could be with Willow? After I became undead, I was talking to some of the vamps in Sunnydale. One of them said that he saw Willow getting on a bus to here."
"Here?" Xander said, "In a City this size, it'll be easy for both of them to disappear."
Harmony said, "Well wherever Dawn is, we're supposed to find her. I know this sounds awful, but we're expected to kill her again, and make sure she stays dead, before she receives her empowerment as the next Slayer."
Xander repeated, "Make sure she stays dead? Dawn? I refused to kill her the other night and I'm not doing it now!"
"I hate the idea too," Harmony told him, "but you do know, that we vampires can't allow any new Slayer to live."
"I know," he told her, "But don't ask for my help in this."
An elevator's doors opened. Xander stepped inside and the doors shut behind him.
"He's right." Fred told Harmony, "Wolfram and Hart provides the goods and services that vampires need, to function in this world; not to put them out of this world permanently."
"I don't want to be doing this either." Harmony told her, "We'd be going back to the way things were three years ago, when Angel was running things here."
"Angel?" Fred asked, "'The Vampire with a Soul'?"
Harmony nodded. "About 100 years ago, a tribe of Gypsies cursed Angel with self loathing. He called that 'Having a soul.' Then he spent the next 100 years, trying to atone for his misdeeds, by destroying other vampires.
"About three years ago, there was a Board of Directors Meeting, going on in the Conference Room. Around 1 in the morning, I was seated right here at my desk, when all three elevator doors opened at the same time. Angel and three dozen of his people came running out armed.
"One of them pointed a gun at me, and he shot me in the heart, right between the boobs, and killed me totally brain dead.
"He'd put a lead slug in my heart, not a wooden stake, so I revived undead three nights later. Angel and his people were running the Company; and I came to wish that I had been staked."
Fred said, "I heard you had a fatally hostile work environment then."
"'Fatally hostile' is right! They instituted a destructive policy, against all the vampires who worked for them. In this Vampire Owned and Operated Corporation, they actually instituted a Policy of Zero Tolerance, against any and all killing, by all W & H employees, both on and off the job.
"We employees were only allowed to drink pigs' blood."
Fred told her, "Until tonight, that's all I've been drinking, since I became undead. It doesn't taste all that much different from human."
"That's not the point. There were daily random blood tests. Everyone who failed that test got a stake rammed through his or her heart, within the hour. All employees were required to witness every staking on closed circuit TV."
"Yeah. I've heard about that too."
"Everyone at Wolfram and Hart was under surveillance. Employees were informing on each other. Nobody could trust anybody. We were all getting paranoid. Employee morale was gone.
"That policy even extended off the job. There was a vampire I dated a few times, named Jake. Away from work, he was an Aztec Priest. That was before I received Christ as Savior. I attended his Sacrifices regularly, and I occasionally contributed the use of my fangs, to the worship.
"At every Sacrifice, he ripped the beating heart, out of at least one teenage Aztec girl. You'd think no vampire could possibly object to that; but one evening, when Jake came into work, he got staked for it."
Fred said, "But he was lawfully practicing his Religion."
"And the girls were devout Aztecs, who died willingly; but Angel was so politically correct, that he contributed to the American Civil Liberties Union, so he could get away with anything.
"That was when I decided, that I'd had enough! I just couldn't handle it any more!
"I went right down to the Staking Room. I walked in, with my boobs naked, while the broadcast was still going on.
"I yelled, 'I've killed people at the Aztec Sacrifices too! So go ahead! Stake me now! Make me brain dead forever!'
"There were three people there. They were all kind of startled.
"The stake they killed Jake with, was lying on the table, in a pile of dust, that was all that was left of him. I picked it up, and then I drove that stake through all three of their hearts.
"Then I stood in front of the closed circuit camera, and I started shouting,
"Being a vampire doesn't have to suck! Down with surveillance! Down with Zero Tolerance! We are Vampires! We want human blood!'
"Every vampire watching joined in; shouting, 'We are Vampires! We want human blood!'
"Before long, everyone in this building was shouting; 'We are Vampires! We want human blood!
"By the end of the night, not one human employee was still alive, inside Wolfram and Hart Headquarters. Believe me, if you'd been working here that night, you wouldn't have had to wait another three years, to become undead.
"Then we vampires went out on strike.
"We stood outside chanting, 'We are Vampires! We want human blood!'
"That led to another Board of Directors meeting. They actually asked me to speak to them.
"Yeah. That was a big mistake on their part. As soon as I entered the Conference Room, I walked right up to Angel, and I rammed a sharp wooden stake into his heart."
"Good for you Harmony. You're an actual Working Class Heroine."
"That was the end of the anti-vampire policies; but if we're gonna start making vampires permanently dead again, we'll just be going back to the bad old days."
Fred said, "Nobody here wants that."
"I killed Dawn Summers once," Harmony told her, "and that was enough. Xander's right. He's not going to help kill Dawn Summers permanently, and neither am I."