These Childish Dreams
With a jolt, the scene shifts and everything goes dark; a blackness of nothingness that he wonders for a second if this is the Void, or maybe just the Darkness of death, but lightening crackles in his mind and suddenly he knows. He has been here before…
Dark overpowers light, or at least that's how it seems to Koschei. He knows that it can't be possible but somehow, he can't shake off the suffocating feeling that darkness is the most powerful force in that world.
Storms are infrequent on Gallifrey but when they come, the tranquil planet is bathed in a blanket of pure ebony darkness and the turbulent wind whips around the Citadel, seeping through tiny fissures in the great glass dome and whistling eerily as it caresses the towers of the Prydonian Academy.
When nights like these come, Koschei locks his door and stacks books against his window shutters, desperate to keep the monsters of the deep away from him. He curls up in his bed, covers pulled over his head, cocooning him in a warm bubble… but the darkness still exists.
Theta relishes the darkness; its silence is cool and calm, quietening the world so that he can find company in his chaotic thoughts. It soothes him in a way that light never does because he finds that he can't breathe in the heat and blinding sunlight of the day. But he knows. He just has that intricate instinct, a kind of sixth sense, that tells him when Koschei is afraid.
At the point in Time when the storm reaches the peak of its raging crescendo, Koschei just knows that there will be a quiet knock at his door; nothing ferocious, just a gentle tapping so as not to alarm him. Theta always knows what he needs to be reassured. When Koschei ventures through the cold, uninviting shadows that have fallen across the room and turns the key in the lock, Theta is revealed on the other side of the door.
No words are exchanged, just an outstretched hand and a pillow. Theta knows that Koschei sees fear as a weakness so they never talk about it; they just lie in each other's arms and wait for the storm to pass and the light to seep through the cracks in the wooden shutters. And that's how it is; silence and closeness, feeding off each other's warmth until sleep overcomes them and they drift away into dreams. Until the silence breaks…
"I'm always going to be here, you know…" The thought drifts lazily into Koschei's consciousness, swirling around in the sleepy fog of his mind. He realises that Theta's fingers are twirling into his hair, just brushing his temples lightly, feeding the thought into his mind.
"I wish you'd warn me before you do that, Thet…" Koschei mutters groggily, whilst pushing a thought back through Theta's fingers. "I know you'll always be with me. You don't have to be around for that. I carry you."
"You don't have to. You won't ever lose me." Theta was always more articulate through the medium of psychic contact; when it came to actual conversation, he stuttered and slipped over words as if they were black ice, designed only to trip him up. It tended to be Koschei's presence that had the most potent effect over him when it came to speech. Koschei didn't mind; any excuse to have Theta's cool hands dancing over his skin seemed perfect to him.
Theta's thoughts become blurry as he drifts into sleep, conversation forgotten as he slips into his dream world. Koschei watches tentatively, feeling like a trespasser on Theta's most private secrets but he just can't help himself; it's too tempting to close his mind. Colours distort, twisting into a haze of brightness and white puffy flakes of the first snowfall. The grass is green and cropped, unfamiliar to Koschei's eyes as he stands in the deserted field, peppered with patches of pristine snow. Yet somehow, he knows he has been here, not before but in the future. Finally he knows where Theta wants to explore. A name stands on the tip of his tongue but before he can utter it, the scene shifts, spinning rapidly into the more familiar crimson and gold. He can see them lying in the grass, hands clasped, limbs intertwined. It's a memory; it can't be more than a few years old.
Theta sighs in his sleep and turns over, his fingers slipping from Koschei's hair. Koschei feels empty with the loss of Theta's bright colourful dreams and drapes his arm over the other boy, desperate to regain some of their previous intimacy. Theta shuffles backwards across the bed, gently nudging Koschei into the wall as he nestles into the embrace. Koschei smiles and closes his eyes; the darkness and storm forgotten as he dreams about green fields and the child-like expression on Theta's face as he curls into the blanket and sticks his bottom lip out ever so slightly.
The morning comes quickly; they forget that most of the night was spent wide-eyed with drowsiness, revelling in each other's company. Theta picks up his pillow and wordlessly sneaks back to his own room and Koschei notices how cold it feels when the door closes and he hears Theta's footsteps retreating down the corridor.
The mood over breakfast is subdued, Koschei almost too ashamed of his late-night dream wanderings to look Theta in the eye. Suddenly Theta's head snaps up.
"You were in my dreams last night," he hisses, eyes flashing with anger as his cheeks redden with embarrassment.
"Was I?" Koschei asks, determined to play the innocent.
"You were watching them."
"What makes you think that?" The defensive strategy; admit nothing, let him feel like he's in the wrong.
"I dreamt about you." The statement is bland, quiet, accusatory.
"So?" The memory of their field drifts incriminatingly into Koschei's mind.
"I never dream about you."
"Thanks?" Koschei's tone has undercurrents of hurt cutting through it and he doesn't bother to hide them.
"Were you inside my head?" Theta asks patiently.
"Well it was your own fault!" Koschei bursts out. "You left you hand in my hair and it just…happened! Besides, I don't see what the problem is, anyway…you use our psychic connection to communicate with me all the time!"
"But that's when I say it's ok…When you just take over, I lose myself to you. I'm not exactly complaining, it's just that…I need to close doors sometimes…"
"I'm sorry, Thet…" mumbles Koschei quietly.
"I'm not hiding anything from you, you know…I just need my dreams to be private because dreaming about you ruins the perfection of reality…" The words are whispered but Koschei's hearts sing as if Theta is shouting from the highest tower of the Academy.
Even so, he shrugs them off lightly. "Don't be silly, Thet. Reality is never perfect."
He tears himself away, wondering if he can relive anymore of these shared memories, but curiosity and a sense of instilled love and duty overtake him and he leans his head forward again, rocking the Master's body slightly.
The view is colourful, soft and light; his room at the Academy. Koschei is sprawled across the bed, his arms and legs splayed out, spreading his robes across the covers. He is covered in papers, screwed up notes dotted with swirling drawings. Gallifreyan. The Doctor delves closer into the memory...