Chapter 4 - And There's Even a 401(k)
I don't know where this story would be without Joss Whedon's excellent plot device, the W&H Perpetuity Clause.
Chapter 4 – And There’s Even a 401(k)
Lilah was waiting for him just inside the lobby.
The Wolfram & Hart building was one of the newly constructed office towers that were rising up around Gotham City as part of the efforts to rebuild following the earthquake and No Man’s Land. It rose up 36 stories, all gleaming dark tinted glass with a granite plaque outside bearing the name of the firm. The interior smelled of new carpet and the new wood of the reception desk and paneling on the walls.
Although Harvey knew exactly how much time had passed since he’d set foot inside an office building for a purpose other than robbing or killing its occupants, it seemed like a lifetime ago. He felt completely out of place, especially with his four-man security detail. The lawyers passing through didn’t even spare him a glance, however. Maybe they had Gotham’s most wanted in their lobby every morning. Sure they did.
“Perhaps your men would like to meet with our Head of Security while we get you settled,” Lilah suggested. “You’ll find our security measures are more than adequate to protect you while you’re here.”
He rarely went anywhere without someone watching his back. On the other hand, this was supposed to be his office. Well aware that the eyes of his men and -- finally -- all the passing Wolfram & Hart employees were on him, Harvey got out his coin. Good heads. “That’ll be fine.”
His men knew better than to argue with the outcome of a coin toss but he could tell they were reluctant to leave him alone in this environment where clearly none of them belonged.
“Your office is on the 36th floor.” Lilah walked towards the elevators. Within a second, an elevator opened its doors for them, as if eager to take him to what Lilah insisted on referring to as ‘the next level of his career.’
The ride to the 36th floor was surprisingly quick and when the elevator doors opened this time, Harvey and Lilah were greeted by a smiling blonde holding out a mug of coffee to him and greeting him with a decidedly upbeat, “Hi, Boss!”
Lilah nodded in the blonde’s direction. “Harvey, this is Harmony Kendall: your assistant.”
Harmony was all soft, generous curves and perky cheerleader charm. Stupid, Harvey decided, but not a complete fool. And yet that smile stayed in place even as she got a close-up view of the face that terrified even the dumbest of Gotham’s citizens. He reached for the mug, ignoring Two-Face’s desire to stare down the front of her too-tight dress. Besides, there would be time for that later. “Thank you, Harmony.”
“Is there anything else I can get you, Boss? The cafeteria has some sinfully delicious scones.”
“Maybe later.” He followed Lilah as she led him past what was obviously Harmony’s desk to a large office. It was four times the size of his office when he’d been Gotham’s D.A. Brand new copies of American Jurisprudence 2d – AmJur, as it was known among lawyers – filled the bookshelves, along with copies of the state and city laws, regulations and codes. There was a flat screen television mounted to the wall over a mini bar. In short, his office was everything he’d imagined private practice looked like when he was an underpaid civil servant.
Lilah rested against the doorframe. “I’ll be back to check on you later. Harmony will help get you set up.”
On cue, Harmony appeared with a note pad and pen. “Special Projects should have your license sorted out by tomorrow or the day after at the latest and you’ve got a meeting with—“
“Special Projects?” The law firms he knew had departments such as litigation and commercial practice. Not one of them had a special projects division.
“I knew you were going to ask that, ” she mumbled with a slight frown. Harmony cleared her throat and read directly from her note pad. “Our Special Projects Team aims to provide a seamless integrated service to clients with out-of-the-ordinary situations.”
“Seamless integrated service,” he repeated.
Harmony nodded and then added brightly, “Out-of-the-ordinary situations.”
“Like getting my license reinstated.”
“Or human sacrifice.”
Did Harmony have a sense of humor somewhere in that empty head? Before he could try to find out, she wrapped her hand around his upper arm and was steering him further down the hall. She had a very strong grip, he noted. “Now what? The executive washroom?”
“Not yet.” She pushed him through the doorway of an office that was equal in size to his. Unlike his office, this one had a battered desk, a larger television and an even better-stocked mini-bar. “This is Two-Face’s office. You know, for when he needs it.”
Two-Face suggested he might need the black leather sofa and his secretary later that afternoon. Harvey told him in no uncertain terms to shut up.
One of the drawbacks of having two disagreeing personalities was that sometimes the disagreements were audible. “He gets out of his cage sometimes.”
Harmony emitted a little laugh. “It doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is being called a secretary. I’m an executive assistant. There’s a difference.”
He waited but an explanation of the difference didn’t seem to be forthcoming.
“Also, you’re really a hottie but I’m sorry; you’re not my type.”
“So your type would be what? Dogs?”
Harmony giggled. “That’s funny, Boss. They didn’t tell me you had a sense of humor. My last boss never cracked a joke. When he wasn’t all doom, gloom and apocalypse, he was lecturing me on how to be a better vampire. Don’t eat the humans. Drink bottled blood. And he never, ever had any confidence in me.”
“You’re a vampire?” Was Harmony believing that she was a vampire any worse than Catman, who thought he was a Rogue? And did she really wonder why her former boss had no confidence in her?
“You are aware that it’s daytime?”
“Uh-huh.” The smile on her face remained fixed and then all at once she jerked as understanding finally dawned. “The glass on the building is necro-tempered.”
“Necro-tempered. Of course.” Total. Whack. Job.
“Ohmigod! It’s almost ten! We’ve got to get you back in your office! Mr. Manners will be here any second.” She took off at a trot down the hall.
Mr. Manners? Harvey followed at a more leisurely pace. Were they sending someone to instruct him in etiquette? No. The man standing in his office was definitely not some etiquette expert. What he was, Harvey realized, was one of his bosses.
Everything about the man exuded power, from the precise cut and fit of his charcoal grey suit to the expression on his face. Look too quickly, Harvey thought, and it was possible to mistake that expression for somebody kind, somebody who cared about your well-being. Somebody who would tell you how disappointed they were in your performance as they put a bullet in your brain, Two-Face agreed.
“Harvey.” Manners greeted him with a warm smile. “I’m Holland Manners. I’ll be your liaison to the Senior Partners. On their behalf, I’d like to welcome you and Two-Face to Wolfram & Hart. As I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, we pride ourselves on providing seamless integrated service to our clients. More than likely, you’re wondering exactly what that means. Perhaps it’s the brainchild of some white shoe ad agency, a meaningless slogan. I’m here to tell you, Harvey, that it’s no mere slogan. We mean every word.”
Any suspicions that they were being played as some kind of marketing ploy were replaced by the sense that maybe, just maybe they were involved in something bigger than even Lex Luthor could have dreamed up.
“Wolfram & Hart has a long and celebrated history, gentlemen.” Manners started walking towards the elevator and it was assumed without question that they would follow. “We inspire confidence and success through the unique way in which we undertake business. Fearless and with a strong commercial stance, we’ve worked with an ever-expanding client base to take both them and the firm to the next stage. We’ve always got an eye on the future, and it’s fair to say, gentlemen, that we’ve always got an eye on you.” His smile was warm, almost fatherly as he stepped into the elevator.
They weren’t fooled for a second by that smile.
“Are you ready to meet your staff, gentlemen?” Manners asked. “They are most certainly eager to meet you.”
Definitely bigger than anything Luthor could dream up.
They got in the elevator.