Author Note: This is an AU fic. I consulted with multiple other Whovians on their opinions of this idea to help me form it. So, big thanks goes out to Ace of Gallifrey and Aietradaea and anyone else I forgot who helped me.
Disclaimer: I do not own Doctor Who. If I did, The Master would currently be ravaging the stars.
"Theta! Theta, wake up!"
Theta Sigma groaned and pulled the blanket over his head; it was far too early to wake up. The oppressive light from the twin Suns was shining on his face, no thanks to the Time Lord child next to his bed who had unceremoniously pulled back the shade.
"Theta! You have to get up! We're already late!" Koschei grabbed the other boy's blanketed shoulder and shook it roughly.
Theta huffed and threw the blanket off, sitting up with messied hair and a glare for his best friend. "I don't want to go," he announced, slipping off the bed and onto the floor.
"Yes you do, everyone does! Come on, don't be like that! Theta!" Theta had trudged to the lavatory and promptly shut the door in his friend's face.
Koschei huffed quietly. He knew Theta was scared about today. Today was his- their day to stand in front of the Untempered Schism. They didn't have the same birthday; Koschei was exactly three days older. However, he had been ill three days ago, the first time he could ever remember being so, and could not attend the ceremony. The Elders had decided that both ceremonies on the same day would be prudent, since Koschei was already three days late on his own.
"Theta, hurry up! Ushas is going to laugh as us if she finds out we were late- Oh!"
Theta opened the door, already dressed in his school uniform. "Well?" he asked, mimicking his friend's earlier impatience. "Are we going or not?"
Koschei grinned and they ran out the front door of Theta's house, his mother yelling goodbye from the kitchen.
The Citadel of the Time Lords was a grand structure. It gleamed in the light of the twin Suns and spread its power over all of Gallifrey, covering the red grass and silver trees with the wisdom of the Time Lord race.
Koschei and Theta raced through the red grass toward school, feeling the wind toss the plants every which way. The Academy would be their place tomorrow, once they had been initiated into the ranks of the Time Lords of old, but for today they would be meeting their teachers in the Hall of Ascendancy for their ceremonies. Theta knew his father was already there, as was Koschei's, in preparation for the day. He was nervous down to his bones, but Koschei seemed to be as excited as he could be. They had been taught little about the Untempered Schism, only that it was the key to their future and they were now both eight years old; today was Theta's birthday.
"Oh, Theta!" Koschei suddenly stopped in his tracks, trampling over a particularly nice patch of flowers. "I forgot! It's your birthday, I have something for you!"
"For me?" Theta blinked. He wasn't expecting anything. Oh, he'd gotten Koschei something for his birthday, but he wasn't expecting anything in return.
"You don't turn eight every year you know!" Koschei replied, as if that was the most important thing in the world. He held out his hands with a grin and Theta smiled, the first smile that had graced his face that day. He put his hands in Koschei's and they stood in the red grass, foreheads pressed together.
Theta gasped aloud as the memory passed from one to the other and Koschei just grinned. "You broke into the archive!" Theta said in wonder.
"Father didn't see me, I promise," he said, both pairs of eyes closed. Koschei's father was Lord Oakdown, the head of a prominent Gallifreyan house. The young Time Lord knew his father didn't like that he was friends with Theta; there was something about Theta's house, Lungbarrow, that meant he was lower in stature than Koschei. The older child thought it was nonsense. Houses didn't matter; he was Koschei and Theta was Theta and that was that. That's how it would always be.
Theta fell silent in sheer wonder. Koschei had broken into his father's library, into the Archive, and watched images saved from his own father's TARDIS, images that he was not allowed to see. The scenes were beautiful; nebulae reaching light years across, bright bursts of light from suns and moons, supernovas shining like beacons to weary travelers. The memory lasted several moments and when it passed, Theta had the same grin on his face as Koschei. "I can't believe it! Thank you! This makes my present seem silly..."
"Nonsense!" Koschei declared. "I love it!" Theta's present had been a story, captured in a small wooden carving that his father had helped him make. It was an oak tree with its roots tangled in the wheels of a wheel barrow, a play on both of their house names. The carving sat wheel barrow upside down, so that the tree was standing upright correctly. Koschei had giggled and said he could never remember ever standing on the other boy's feet. Before leaving, he had set the carving on its side, that neither of the two parts was above the other.
"I'm glad," Theta said. "But are you sure your dad won't find out?"
"If he does, then he does," Koschei decided. "I don't care. It was worth it."
They grinned and ran off in the direction of the Hall.
In the Hall of Ascendancy, Borusa could feel time bending around him.
It was a feeling that he had only felt a handful of times. It was never good.
Waiting with the boys for the rest of the ceremony members was stifling. Koschei and Theta had burst in fifteen minutes ago, chatting excitedly, likely about something that they weren't supposed to know, but he couldn't pay attention. Something caught his eye out the nearby window. He turned to look and froze.
There was a man, a Time Lord, standing right outside. He wore a suit of a color that Borusa could not determine in the light from the suns. He could, however, discern that the trenchcoat the man had his hands in was brown. He had dark, spiky hair and a maniacal smile, one that unnerved the teacher greatly. His eyes were old, but nothing else gave away his age. The image briefly flickered and Borusa realized that it was a hologram or projection. But the man was staring right at him.
The smile faded from the hologram's face and, slowly, turned his head to look at the two boys chatting away. He watched them with a cold stare, then grinned and raised his eyes to meet Borusa's once more. With a nod of his head, he gestured to Koschei, the eldest of the two. "Him first." The malevolent grin stayed with Borusa long after the hologram had blinked out of existence.
The two boys were taken to the Untempered Schism a time later, after everyone had arrived. Borusa could feel the threads of time, stronger now than before. The malevolent hologram was vivid and frightening, though now just a memory. Perhaps he had imagined it.
All the same, when it was time for the first boy to stand in front of the Schism, he quietly spoke to the other adults around, suggesting that it was only fair for Theta to go first, since it was his birthday today.
Koschei could wait. The older boy nodded, saying as such, completely unfazed. He didn't mind; Theta was his best friend after all, and he had been scared. All the more reason to get it over with quickly.
Borusa gently guided Theta away, unaware of the threads of time that were now locked in place and the horrors he had unknowingly caused.
Woot! Hooray for the start of another story! This story is going to end up being very dark, so if you like darkness, stick around.
Also, if there's something in here about Theta/Koschei that is incorrect, please let me know. Thanks! Reviews are loved!