Copper

Disclaimer: No, seriously, I don't own Doctor Who...honest!

A/N: The fourth instalment of my Metals series (Gold, Silver and Tin can be found on my profile). This isn't as romantic as Silver or Tin were and it's certainly not as innocent. It's set just before they choose their Time Lord names and it's very Koschei-centric. I don't think they had to write an essay of any sort before they could choose their names, since I'm a bit hazy on the Classic Who, so all of that is artistic license! Ushas is the Rani for anyone who was confused. Enjoy!

A/N Take Two: Please remember that all reviews are greatly appreciated so once you've finished reading, have a go at pressing that purdy li'l button at the bottom of the page...Pretty please with and even prettier Time Lord on top?

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During the autumns of Gallifrey, the fields reflected the sky; that burnt orange copper that comes with fading daylight and shadowy trees. In the Prydonian Academy of the Time Lords, two boys grew together behind the high bronze walls and dreamt of the crimson fields of their friendship.

~*~

Koschei leaned back against the uncomfortable wooden headboard of Theta's Academy bed and sighed. His eyelids fluttered shut slowly and he listened to Theta's pen scribbling furiously, skittering across the paper with incredible fluidity.

"Are you ever going to stop writing that stupid thing, Thet?" he enquired without bothering to open his eyes. The boredom in his tone was seeping out despite himself; he tried to be different around Theta. For Theta. "I finished it weeks ago!" He stifled a yawn, whilst Theta finally turned and looked at him, pushing his glasses back up his nose as he did so. He left an inky smudge on the tip of his nose and Koschei hopped off the bed and kissed it. He just couldn't stop himself.

"It's got to be done, Kos…if I don't finish it, I can't choose my name…" Theta whined, sticking his bottom lip out slightly and chewing on it worriedly. The choice of a Time Lord name was a life-changing event and Theta didn't intend to miss out on it, no matter how many snide remarks Koschei made about it. The truth was, Koschei had chosen his name years ago and Theta was still deciding and it was causing more arguments than either of them wanted.

"Mmm…" Koschei muttered, leaning back onto the pillow and drifting back into sleep.

A sharp repetitive tapping roused Koschei from his sated reverie. At first, he thought it was the drums again. The never-ending drums. Until he realised that instead of four insistent knocks, there were five. One. Two. Three. Four…Five.

"Come in!" Theta called and the door opened slightly. Koschei sat upright and scrambled for his outer robes to make himself seem presentable. Theta's visitor was a girl who Koschei recognised from their History of Time lectures and vaguely remembered was called Ushas. She had a waterfall of coppery hair and warm liquid-amber eyes and if Koschei had been even remotely interested in anyone other than Theta, she would definitely have appealed to him.

"Are you ready to go, Thet?" she asked and Koschei's head snapped back as if she'd slapped him. No one but himself had ever used Theta's pet name before; it was their personal familiarity that this…intruder had no right to presume!

"Oh…um…I…uh…yes. Yeah…definitely…" Theta was stumbling over his words like an inexperienced little boy. Koschei would have laughed if the situation hadn't been so painful. He desperately tried to push away the memory of their first kiss in a frozen field when Theta's teeth had chattered as he tried to force flirtatious words through innocent lips, but it was impossible.

Only when he reached the door did Theta finally remember Koschei, still sat on his bed, still watching him go.

"Oh. You'll be alright without me for a few hours, won't you, Koschei?" A punch to the stomach this time; still, it would teach those stupid butterflies to know their place.

"Just go, Theta. You obviously want to." The words slithered through Koschei's gritted teeth and hung in the air between them. It was all he needed to say. The door closed.

Seconds became minutes. Minutes trailed into hours. Koschei had never felt time drag on for so long; it had always felt like such a rush, those days of sunlight and kisses and red grass stains. He'd almost wanted to slow them down so that he could savour every last millisecond of Theta's smiling company.

When Koschei finally heard Theta's warm laughter heading towards the blank wooden door, he almost thought that he might be dreaming it. He'd spent the afternoon recalling the last time he'd made Theta laugh like that; their last day by the river when he'd learnt that Theta's left knee was ticklish. He hadn't wanted to miss an inch of him. It wasn't a dream; the door swung open and Theta looked mildly surprised to see Koschei still sitting on his bed, staring at where the door had been.

"I'm sorry, Kos," he said quickly, anticipating an argument.

"What for?" Koschei replied, as if he was only mildly interested.

"For leaving you alone today. I shouldn't have done it but Ushas…" he trailed off into silence, blushing slightly.

"…is beautiful?" Koschei finished. "I noticed."

"Sorry…" Theta muttered again.

"Tell me, Thet," Koschei's voice was as smooth as silk but there was a hint of malice buried in it. "Does she kiss you like I do? Does she know exactly how you like to be touched? Does she make you scream like a girl?" Theta shook his head, shocked by Koschei's sudden outburst of anger. Koschei raised his head to look into Theta's eyes and a fleeting shadow of fear crossed his face.

"Do you love her?" he asked sadly.

"No." Theta said firmly. He had never been surer of anything in his entire life. There had never been anyone but Koschei. "I'm sorry, Kos. I really am."

"I know." Koschei enveloped Theta in his arms and held him there, willing him to try and escape again. When he didn't, Koschei relaxed and stroked Theta's hair lovingly. He wished time would slow down for them but instead, he felt it slipping through his fingers. He pulled back and studied Theta for a moment, noting every freckle on his face and every fleck of grey in his blue eyes before he finally spoke.

"I've changed my mind about my new name."

~*~

The twin suns set over the high towers of the Citadel, coating the Prydonian Academy with an inky shadow. The copper-coloured sky melts into the horizon as all things become dark and change falls over Gallifrey. A chilling breeze is stirring in the peaceful night air as two boys clutch at each other like drowning men and dream of the sunlit days by a silver-blue river, under a burnt orange sky.