Disclaimer: Wolfram and Hart and company belong to Joss, and the Master belongs to the BBC. The Deal
Wolfram & Hart, LA Branch: 1971
Holland Manners straightened his tie nervously, absently picking at non-existent lint. Today was a big day for him. Wolfram and Hart’s latest golden boy, he’d been on the fast track. The VP of Special Projects had taken him aside once and predicted that one day Holland would be running these offices. He had smiled modestly but his ambitions ran further, much further. Today was only the first step but an important one. The Senior Partners were especially interested in the success of this meeting. The conduit had made that abundantly clear. His future rested on this, one way or the other. Holland smiled almost fondly. Others found Mesektet creepy, but he liked her. She was evil down to her Mary Jane’s.
“Mr. Manners,” the intercom buzzed. “Your 2 O’clock is here.”
“Send him in,” Holland said. This was the moment of truth. The man was an enigma. He had assigned one of his better operatives to follow him, but Holland had lost contact almost immediately. Holland sighed. He had been told to treat the man respectfully. His race was said to be nearly as old as the Partners themselves, and when Mesektet had spoken of him, there had been a hint of admiration in her voice.
The door flung open and his 2 O’clock strode in. The man looked human, with a few hints of white in his goatee, but Holland knew better. The man’s stride was so confidant, so arrogant as to put any Demon Lord to shame.
“Welcome to Wolfram & Hart, Mr. Magister,” Holland said offering his hand. Magister studied him coldly for a long moment before accepting the hand. Holland expertly hid his grimace. The man was stronger than he looked.
“Thank you, Mr. Manners,” Magister smiled. Holland suppressed a shiver. He knew that smile; he practiced it in front of the mirror every day. “But I am usually referred to as the Master.”
“Certainly Mr. Master.” Holland met smile with smile. “Please have a seat. Can I offer you a drink?” The Master sat in on fluid motion and declined he drink. “To business then. Our contract department has been very studious in the preparation of this document,” Holland continued. He didn’t mention that they had been under threat of death at the time, but judging by the smirk on the Master’s face, he didn’t need to. “Please take your time and I’ll be happy to go over any questions you might have.” The Master picked up the thick contract and flipped through it quickly. He snorted and tossed it carelessly onto the desk.
“It’s almost as dry as a Gallifreyan marriage certificate.” He glanced up at Holland expectantly. It had been a subtle form of intimidation, one which Holland could not have missed. His face showed no surprise, not even a blink. The Master’s mouth twitched slightly into a smile of acknowledgement.
“Good for business,” Holland said. “The drier the document the less likely anyone is to read the fine print.”
“Speaking of fine print,” the Master said. “What does your firm want with a Tardis? I was under the impression that you had your own methods.”
“A collectors item. I believe Mr. Sidarta has always wanted one.”
“You don’t know, do you,” the Master asked smiling.
“I am not privy to all of the Senior Partner’s motivations.”
“Power,” the Master said. “Everything is about power. One must rule or serve that is the most basic law of life. Thy rule, and you Mr. Manners, you serve.” He smiled charmingly innocent, but his eyes were hard and challenging.
“I merely chose my side,” Holland met his gaze unflinchingly. “Just as you are now doing Mr. Master.”
“As my visits to this primitive planet are becoming more frequent, I thought it best that the Senior Partners and I came to an arrangement.”
“And we couldn’t be happier,” Holland said. “Although I must stress that here at Wolfram and Hart we have a strict time table, and we would appreciate it if you kept your apocalypses at a more…local scale. Any plans we may have for Tardis technology are insignificant in comparison.”
“I have no particular interest in this world,” the Master replied. “Your firm may do with it as you wish.” Somehow he made it seem like a personal favor.
“Then we are in agreement,” Holland said. “We will withdraw our request for a Tardis, with the understanding that you will not interfere in our in house Apocalypse.”
“Satisfactory,” the Master said. He rose swiftly and they shook.
“On behalf of the firm I thank you for choosing us. Be sure to let us know if we can be of any further assistance…perhaps with a certain unpaid scientific advisor?”
The Master’s eyes flashed briefly, the only true emotion he’d shown the entire time. “Thank you Mr. Manner, but I think I shall deal with that particular irritant on my own.” He turned to face Holland full on. ”Oh,” he said. “before I go, I brought you a little present, a token of my appreciation for all you’ve done.” He placed a small box on the desk carefully, and then after a brief nod he was gone. Holland sighed. That had gone surprisingly well, all things considered. He frowned at the package the Master had left. Cautiously he lifted the lid and peered inside. There lay his operative’s shriveled, shrunken corpse, the Master’s signature. Holland nodded in acknowledgement of the warning, and leaned back smiling his shark smile. Till we meet again…