By: Memory Dragon
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who or xxxHolic, nor do I make any claim to.
Characters: Delgado Master, Yuuko, Watanuki. Implied Delgado Master/Three
Warnings: Just a bit of me injuring the Master at the start. Nothing more than a few bruises, really.
Notes: Written for the best_enemies drabble challenge. They were doing crossovers and I got tired of waiting for one that was plausible for me to write. So I took matters into my own hands and wrote one for xxxHolic. A Tsubasa Chronicle crossover is probably going to be coming as well, since I never was able to resist balancing the equation. That one doesn't seem like it'll have anything to do with the Master though (Three's wish has more to do with getting out of exile than anything to do with the Master), so it probably won't be posted to b_e.
Also, according to Cy, you don't actually have to know xxxHolic to understand the fic.
Time line: It takes place sometime just before the Dreaming arc (after Himawari and Doumeki become Yuuko's customers, which is hopefully a non-spoiler-y way of putting that as possible) in xxxHolic and sometime after Colony in Space for the Master.
Thanks: Thanks to narwhale_callin and nemaline for the beta. Nar for her usual excellent suggestions and Cy for being my guinea pig to make sure it made sense to someone who's never heard of xxxHolic. I love you both.
The Master's TARDIS veered off course. He'd been heading towards a planet ravaged by civil war - as far from Earth and the Doctor as possible - when his type 80 TARDIS jerked violently. The Doctor might allow such behavior from his TARDIS to impress his human pets, but the Master didn't tolerate such theatrical antics. Not when he wasn't the one in charge of it, at any rate.
The Master was thrown against the wall and landed next to a roundel in an undignified heap. Using the wall to support himself, the Master stood and staggered towards the console. Rendered breathless by several levers asserting their right to exist against the Master's gut, he clung to the console as his vision swam.
Think. He had to think and stop this chaos from tearing his TARDIS apart. Gripping the panel with one hand, he started the landing sequence with the other as the TARDIS continued to rock perilously. He had just barely finished when the TARDIS hurled him across the room again, this time with an accompanying sharp pain to the back of his head. The Master slipped into unconsciousness as the familiar sounds of the TARDIS landing reached his ears.
He awoke twenty-eight minutes and seven seconds later, wanting nothing more than to go back to sleep to avoid his splitting headache. And the pain in his neck. And back. Sleeping on the floor did wonders for his morning personality.
It was that which made him get to his feet shakily, with an unsuppressed moan. If he was going to be bruised and beaten by his TARDIS, he was going to count his miseries from the comfort of his own bed, not the floor.
Wincing at the crack his neck made when he rolled it, the Master made his way over to the console. He'd materialized without any problems, at least. The TARDIS herself appeared to be as battered and dazed as he was, but still functioning, if a little slowly. It took a few minutes to bring up the scanner, but she was recovering.
Now, where was he? As long as he wasn't... He was. Earth. The Master had been deliberately avoiding Earth after the Doctor had turned down his offer on Uxarieus, nursing his wounded pride and putting aside the hurt he felt. At least he was outside the decade that the Doctor had been exiled to, sometime in the early twenty-first century. Nothing looked amiss on the scanners either. It was just a busy street in... Glancing through the information his TARDIS finally supplied, he came to the conclusion he was somewhere in southern Japan.
What in the name of Rassilon had drawn his TARDIS here?
Nothing was overtly threatening, at least, so the Master decided whatever it was could wait until he'd slept off his headache. He limped back to his bedroom and curled up around one of his pillows as he slipped into a light healing trance.
Several hours later, the Master was back in the console room with renewed vigor, checking over the TARDIS's instruments to trace the attack. Unfortunately, the TARDIS had just as much of an idea of what pulled them here as he did. It was something powerful and beyond the ability of the scanners to analyze.
He stood at the console, considering his options. He could attempt to dematerialize. If nothing held the TARDIS here, then he'd be free to continue with his original plan. However, to throw a TARDIS off course this badly, whatever it was had to be immensely powerful. If he could gain control of that power... The Master was more than ambitious enough to put such a power to good use.
He took a few more readings, all of which turned out to be inconclusive. He could locate the general area of the disturbance, but nothing beyond that - not even how powerful this device was. That in itself might have given a lesser man pause, but the Master was only more intrigued. Still, he preferred to know more about his query before setting out. It was hard to formulate a proper plan against an unknown force.
Bringing up the TARDIS databanks, the Master looked through the local history for any myths or legends. When that failed to produce anything of note, the Master checked the current news for odd occurrences. Again, nothing unusual for a city of this size. No meteors or potential alien activity either.
Lighting a cigar, the Master searched the databanks and his own memory for anything that might fit with what little he knew about the phenomena. He was more than a little disturbed by how little he could find out. For something that strong to remain completely unnoticed by humans, it would have to be both highly intelligent and powerful enough to hide its tracks. Such a being could be difficult to deal with. He had no desire to end up as he had with the Axos - a prisoner who was forced to do someone else's bidding.
On the other hand, the Master could hardly afford to waste this opportunity. If this power source could be used to capture TARDISes, he could bring the High Council of the Time Lords to their knees in a matter of weeks. He could even turn to pirating other time travel technology. Though he'd never admit it to anyone, the Master had always been taken with the whole notion of being a pirate.
Perhaps firsthand knowledge would gain him more insight. He could always come up with a plan once he knew what he was dealing with. Briefly, he considered a disguise, but decided against one for now. He didn't know what he was up against yet. Straightening his jacket as he finished his cigar, the Master left his TARDIS and started in the direction the disturbance had come from.
It turned out to be far easier to find than the Master would have thought, considering how well it was hidden. He felt the compulsion to move forward through the throngs of people to parts of the city that were less crowded. He recognized the compulsion easily enough. Whatever had drawn him here wanted to be found.
He paused, momentarily outraged that someone would dare attempt to control him. Once his temper had cooled, he realized it was still the best way to find what he was looking for. If it was a trap, he was more than capable of resisting the impulse.
So he went where his feet wanted him to go, ending up beside a strange wooden fence. Reaching out, he touched the wood and felt the grains under his bare hands. Just a normal fence, except... This time he reached out with his psychic senses, and the Master found that the fence was far more than what it seemed. It was a barrier, and a strong one, with one of the most powerful perception filters he had ever come across. If he hadn't been invited, the Master doubted he would ever have noticed it.
Moving along the fence to an opening, he could see the distortion properly. Half of his senses could tell that this place was nothing more than an empty lot. What he could see, however, was an odd Victorian building with strange circles over the windows and doors. No, not quite Victorian. It was a fantastic fusion of Western and Eastern architecture melded flawlessly together to form an elegant building - a building that wasn't actually there, but standing in another dimension. It reminded him of the inner dimensions of a TARDIS.
The building didn't appear to be bigger on the inside, but the principle was the same. He could see the house only because the door to this other dimension was open to him. The Master could feel the compulsion to go in, but he stopped at the gate, uneasy. This was looking more and more like a trap, finding the door open like this. Whatever this power source was, it might be best just to leave well enough alone after all.
"Are you looking for Yuuko-san?" a voice asked from within the lot.
The Master kept his surprise off his face as he looked the young man over. He was a teenager, still in what the Master recognized as a school uniform, though he wore an apron over it while he did the yard work. Short black hair, glasses, and peculiar eyes. The Master hadn't been aware that humans could have two different eye colors. The boy's right eye was a golden brown, while his left was a striking blue. It reminded the Master of a cat.
"I'm afraid I don't know who this 'Yuuko-san' is, but I appear to have been compelled to come here," the Master said, eying both the boy and the house warily.
The boy nodded, as if this were to be expected. "Don't worry about it. That's normal. If you'll come this way, I'll show you to the shop owner."
"And what if I don't want to see this person? I am not someone to be conducted lightly," the Master said, his voice vaguely threatening as he tested the waters.
The boy looked startled at the question, as if it never occurred to him someone would ask. "If you're here, you have a wish, right? This shop grants wishes."
"A shop that grants wishes," the Master repeated. "How intriguing." This was no ordinary 'shop,' whatever it sold. From the power of the perception filter around it and the fact that the building stood in its own dimension, the Master didn't doubt the owner could 'grant' the wishes of primitive humans. The shop's owner might even be willing to sell the Master what he wanted for the right price.
The compulsion must be how the shop chooses its customers, the Master decided. It still could be a trap, but if he could resist the compulsion, the Master was sure he could fight off the 'urge' to buy something unnecessary.
He stepped through the dimensional boundaries and felt the world solidify around him. Time wasn't affected, he noted with some relief. Nor were any of his other senses, now that he was fully inside the other world. He looked around keenly, unable to see the empty lot any longer. If he hadn't been aware of it, as he suspected most humans weren't, the Master doubted he would have noted any change at all.
"It's merely a coincidence that I'm here," the Master said, feeling the need to stress that he was the one in control of this encounter.
The paper doors slid open and revealed a tall woman. She was a stunning figure, wearing a corset with a red butterfly spread over her chest, not hiding her ample breasts. Her sleeves weren't attached to the corset, but held in place by a band on her upper arm, black and red fabric flowing down past her hands without covering them completely. The pants she wore flared and accented her curves, with more butterflies gracing her thighs and lower leg. It was all topped off by a butterfly clip that held up her long, black hair and brought out her red eyes. She was very beautiful - and very, very powerful.
He felt the power almost immediately. The Master wondered briefly if he hadn't gotten himself in over his head after all. Yet the waves of psychic power that rolled from her shapely figure were intoxicating.
"There is no such thing as coincidence in this world," she said as she descended from the patio. She studied the Master impassively. "There is only Hitsuzen."
Hitsuzen. The word wasn't translated by his TARDIS, but meanings drifted through his thoughts. Inevitable. Destiny. Fate. Fixed. Causalities that lead to only one conclusion. When the woman said that word, he could tell she was speaking about more than just the Web of Time and history's allotted course. She meant a far grander design, and for one fleeting moment he could almost see the ties that bound this world and his.
She turned to the boy, and the Master felt like he could breathe again. "Watanuki," she said, "Please make some tea for our guest."
"May I ask who I have the honor of addressing?" the Master asked as she lead him into the strange shop. He kept alert, though he forced his shoulders to relax. The part of him still considering controlling this power noted that despite this woman's promiscuous attire and body language, she was not one to be seduced. It was as much of an act as his polite friendliness in the lion's den was. He wasn't sure that he would be able to resist if she tried to seduce him, nor if he would mind being so used. Her power was addictive.
"Ichihara Yuuko. I'm also referred to as the Dimensional Witch," she said, leading him into a small, more Victorian themed room with a table and couch. The air was thick with incense, but the Master wasn't familiar with the scent. He didn't think it was dangerous.
"And you?" the witch said expectantly, as he thought over the meaning of 'Dimensional Witch'. He'd never heard the term before, but what he'd seen of her so far didn't leave much room for doubt. "It's impolite to leave a lady waiting. I expected you sometime this morning."
"So you admit to dragging my TARDIS off course?" the Master asked, letting a bit of anger slip into his voice.
"If you are able to enter my shop, then you are meant to be here," the woman said, lounging her body against the couch. She motioned for the Master to take a seat at the table opposite of her, but he didn't accept it. "I had nothing to do with your ship. And it's impolite not to introduce yourself."
"I assumed that since you knew I was coming, you knew who I was as well," the Master said, his eyes narrowing.
"I knew someone was coming," she said. "Someone who was late."
"I had a concussion, Ms. Yuuko, so you'll have to forgive my tardiness," he said, trying to read her intent. Finally, he took a seat in the high-backed chair and folded his hands neatly in his lap. "You can call me the Master."
"That isn't your true name," she said mockingly, as if she found his choice of title childish.
"Nor is Ms. Yuuko yours," the Master countered.
The witch nodded, but didn't comment. "Your translator is off," she said instead. "In Japan, we introduce ourselves with our family name first. '-san' is the proper suffix for someone you've just met."
"I apologize for the mistake, Ichihara-san. No offense was meant." Her name felt foreign on his tongue, but he enjoyed the sound. So, she knew he had advanced enough technology to use a telepathic translator. He needed to be careful around her, not to give away any more clues. With a light prod to his TARDIS, information on Japanese suffixes came to mind.
"No offense taken," she replied, watching him expectantly. "You have a wish you want granted."
"I have many wishes, Ichihara-san," the Master said. "This compulsion power of yours, for instance..."
"That is a price you won't be willing to pay."
The Master frowned. "If it's money you want-"
The witch raised her hand to halt him. "This shop doesn't deal with money. For a wish to be granted, an equal amount must be paid."
Reaching over a small counter that was at the end of the couch, she took out a silk red and black fan that matched her outfit, butterflies and all. She fanned herself languidly, never taking her red eyes off the Master. "For example, to give you the ability to use that level of compulsion, both of your eyes would be required."
The Master understood now what sort of shop this was. He didn't think he could bribe her, but he also didn't think she would deny him anything if he was willing to pay the price, ethical or not. Though he did get the feeling the price might be higher for anything of that nature.
"That is indeed a steep price," he said, considering the proposition. His eyes were not only necessary to see, but were the focal point of his hypnotism. It wasn't worth the trade off, he decided, even if it did indeed sound like an 'equal value.' "I presume that my being here means that there is at least one wish that I would be willing to pay for?" he asked. Sadly, he doubted the witch's power would be one of them. Pity.
"What is your wish?" she asked, not giving him any clues.
The Master had been about to ask about the witch's power, regardless of if he could pay it or not, but those weren't the words that came out of his mouth. "The Doctor," he said haltingly, testing the words as he thought out the rest of his phrasing. "I want the Doctor to agree to my terms and rule with me."
"Have you asked him before?"
"Many times, dear lady," the Master said, his fingers curling in anger. This wasn't the wish he wanted to talk about, but he could sense the pressure to continue talking. If this was the 'wish' he had been brought here for, then the Master was sure he would pay any price for it.
"Every time, he has scorned my offer or tricked me," the Master continued, barely aware of the boy who placed a tea cup in front of him on the table. All of his attention was on the Dimensional Witch. "I want him to submit to me, to be my equal as we rule the universe. I want him to respect me."
The witch stood up with a grace that put the acrobats of Ximon Alpha to shame and walked over to where the Master was sitting. Leaning down, she sensuously traced his beard. She was much taller than him, but she didn't look uncomfortable at all when she got eye level with him.
The Master didn't flinch away or show a reaction, but the level of power from the woman in front of him was enough to make him heady in close quarters. It was like his face offs with the Doctor and twice as addictive. To have the abilities this woman had... She was wasted here in this shop. How he could use power like hers.
"Your wish," she said seductively, running a finger down to his chest, "is to have that person rule by your side?"
"I want him to be mine," the Master said. He could have asked for immortality or godhood. This woman could grant those wishes, he was sure of it, and the price would be worth it. But not without the Doctor. The Doctor came before all of that and those wishes would be meaningless without him.
"Then I will grant your wish," the witch said, pulling away from him. She went to a cupboard of sorts and started to rummage through it.
"And the price, Ichihara-san?"
"Give that person this pill," she said, turning back to face him. She was holding a small red pill between her fingers. "If he eats it, your wish will be granted. He will be yours, body and soul, and will obey your will."
"The price!" he asked again, hungrily staring at the pill.
"Why do you admire this person?" the witch asked, rolling the pill between her fingers.
His hands fisted in anger, but he controlled his temper and returned to his earlier cheerful facade. "He is the closest I have to an equal in intelligence. The Doctor is a brilliant man, if a trifle too moralistic. We would be unstoppable if he were to join me, instead of being my enemy. He should be in control with me, not wasting away with those human pets of his."
"The price for him to be yours is in the pill as well," Yuuko said, finally explaining. "All of the things that make him who he is will be erased. He will still have his memories, but his spirit will be gone. That is the price for him to be yours."
She set the red pill on the table in front of him, accepting the cup of sake that the boy handed her. The Master stared down at the pill, realizing what the price meant. The Doctor would be his at last, but at a cost of all the reasons the Master admired him. The Doctor would be nothing more than a soulless puppet if he was allowed to have the pill.
It would be a pity to lose the Doctor's mind. The Master reluctantly reached towards the pill, wondering if it would be worth it. If the Doctor refused to join him, the Master would have to kill him one of these days. Faced with that decision, this pill was an elegant solution to the problem of the Doctor. But then he would lose one of the greatest stimulations he had.
"Thank you, Ichihara-san," the Master said, swallowing to wet his suddenly dry mouth. He took a drink of the tea, glad to have something else to concentrate on. "That is a most intriguing price. I shall have to consider this."
"The pill is yours to take. When you use it is up to you," she said, neither condemnation nor encouragement in her eyes.
When, not if, she said. For some reason, his stomach twisted into a knot at the thought. It was an appalling image, to reduce the Doctor to an empty husk, but the Doctor would be his at last...
Taking another long sip of the tea, the Master steeled his nerves. It was good tea, despite not having any milk in it, and the Master found it settled his stomach, if not his resolve.
The boy with cat-like eyes - Watanuki, the witch called him - was staring at him with an appalled expression, but the Master paid him no mind. He finished his tea and thanked the witch for her hospitality, bowing politely as he took his leave.
The pill was in his hands as he walked out the doors. He found he hadn't been able to set it down.
"Are you really going to use that?" the boy called out after him.
The Master paused, turning slowly to face the boy. He looked distressed under those oval glasses and the Master wondered why he was bothering. Surely the witch would employ servants who could understand a need to keep one's curiosity to one's self, without sprouting whatever ethical nonsense the child was no doubt about to tell him. Maybe it was his own unsettled feeling regarding the pill though, but the Master didn't just walk away.
"I'm sorry," the boy said when the Master didn't answer straight away. "I know it's none of my business, but..."
"I haven't decided yet," the Master said candidly, since Watanuki didn't start off with a lecture. He watched the boy thoughtfully. He was reminded of a younger version of himself, a quiet young man, probably very studious and solemn. He cast about for the proper suffix for someone younger than him. "Tell me - Watanuki-kun, was it?"
The young man nodded and the Master was glad his TARDIS was now translating the suffixes right. "Tell me, then, Watanuki-kun, do you have a rival?"
"I do, Sensei," Watanuki said, unconsciously substituting the Master's name. He waited for the Master's approval to continue and the Master decided to let it slide. Watanuki became much more animated as he went on, half dancing around as he flailed about in annoyance. "He's annoying, steals from my bentou, and is completely ungrateful when the great Watanuki-sama makes him a meal. He eats like a horse, is constantly coming up with random foods for me to make, and never uses my name to address me! Not to mention he always rubs in how much taller he is than me! He's even more popular than me and keeps getting in between me and Himawari-chan!"
Aside from whoever 'Himawari-chan' was and the weird dance Watanuki did as he recited his grievances and made incomprehensible noises, this child might as well have been talking about the Master's past with the Doctor. Ungrateful for all the Master was willing to give him, stealing his lunch, being taller, and never using the Master's name? If he hadn't known better, he'd have said Watanuki's rival was the Doctor in disguise. "And which would you choose in my position? Would you give him the pill?"
Watanuki stopped in his frantic movements of pulling out his hair, growing quiet under the Master's gaze. He looked down, and the Master waited for the inevitable moral lecture.
"He's an ungrateful jerk, but I couldn't give it to him," Watanuki said, confirming the Master's suspicions. "He's my... my..." Watanuki paused, pointing angrily at the Master for no apparent reason. "He's not my friend!" he decreed, as if the Master had accused him of it instead of himself being the one to dance around the word. Then the boy calmed down a little. "But he's not bad, as he is. He's even useful on occasion and he's saved me so many times. Please don't tell him I said that..."
It was almost comical, watching Watanuki try to defend himself. The Master was reminded very much of a cat with its fur standing up. He was half tempted to just leave the idiot and go back to his TARDIS. Unfortunately, his words - which weren't the moral lecture the Master had been expecting - were hitting deeper than the Master wanted to admit. "So you wouldn't give it to him, because he is your friend? Even though he does all those things to you?"
"He's not! I'd never be friends with that big oaf!" Watanuki said emphatically as he waved his hand in a dismissive motion. "But... Doumeki is fine the way Doumeki is now, even though he's a jerk. I wouldn't want him to become a husk like that, not even if it meant we would get along better or he'd be easier to deal with. I... respect him."
The Master looked at the red pill in his hand, the smooth capsule gleaming in the sunlight. It would be so easy to slip it into something the Doctor would eat. He could even grind it to a powder and put it in the Doctor's tea. But that sort of shallow victory over the Doctor, erasing all that the Master admired about him and leaving nothing but a malleable mind and body... They'd never have the conversations about fencing or temporal physics again. Nor would he be any use to the Master n his conquests. He'd also miss the Doctor's defiance, if he'd care to admit it. Could he really do such a thing to the Doctor?
Perhaps the price really was too high to pay.
"Thank you, Watanuki-kun. I shall consider your words." The Master closed his hand around the pill, wondering what he would do without it. The Doctor would undoubtedly continue to cause trouble for him, but he was too valuable a resource to waste needlessly.
Even if the Doctor never agreed to come with him..?
Putting the pill in his pocket, the Master walked out of the store's dimensional pocket and started back towards his TARDIS. A decision could wait... for now.
Quote of the Fic:
"There is no such thing as coincidence in this world. There is only Hitsuzen."