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Behind TARDIS Doors

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It had been too long. Really too long. But he was gone now. It was over. Death seemed... different to what he had expected. He had spent so long waiting for it that he had begun to fear it. It was nice not to have to worry, though. Not to have to race around, saving the world. He had been to a hell of a lot of places. From present day back to world war two and forward to the end of the universe itself. From Cardiff to New Earth. But now he, the Face of Boe, had passed away.

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He feels so alone, wandering the universe, drinking his sorrows away.

Oh, for sure, he has Alonso. But what is he, compared to his lost love? Just a body to share the bed. Just… physical, and nothing more.

He treks through space, searching, searching. He knows his love is gone, and he knows he should move on. He is immortal and everyone else will die.

But he is not used to it yet. Maybe he never will be. Maybe he will roam the universe forever, now that Torchwood has ended.

But sometimes he wishes the 456 had killed him too.

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In the office, puzzling over a particularly hard case. Not sure it whether it even involves Torchwood. Lost in the moment, pacing up and down. A headache building, strengthening.

A knock on the door and:

"Coffee, Sir?"

A grin; he always gets the timing spot on.

The coffee is spot on as well. Only Ianto makes it just how he likes it.

Because Ianto is more than just the coffee boy. Ianto is special.

Jack knows that Ianto means the most to him and, for once, Jack is afraid.

Jack is afraid for the day when he will lose him.

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What makes the TARDIS tick? What makes it work?

We know it's alive, but does it have a brain? Does it think?

Does it know that the man who controls it is Time lord?

Does it know that he changes?

Can it tell that each regeneration is still the same man, with the same memories?

Does it care?

He cares for his TARDIS. He loves it, because it is his entire life.

Does it know?

Does it care?

Does it matter?

Would it know, would it care, if its time lord owner died?

If its Doctor died?

Would it care?

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It should be a wonderful life, full of joy and adventure. He can go anywhere, do anything. He has the whole of time and space at his fingertips. A beautiful sunset on this planet, a volcanic eruption on another. A deep sea dive or an outer space flight. He has the universe at his doorstep, literally. And the people. Aliens of many races, many planets, many universes. He can meet them all, if he feels the need. Travelling around in his little blue box. But the one person he wants to share this with is missing. The Master hasn't returned.

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Crash! Bang! Disaster at every turn. This way and that way, always changing, never ending. Jack. He looks the same, with that same grin and a childlike approach to life that he'll never lose. But something inside of him loves it; the danger and excitement. That's such a change from his young self, before that eternity stuff.

Because he is Jack. Captain Jack. Captain jack Harkness who never settles down. Who would do anything, really, anything, if he had to. And he has proved that in the past and he will prove it in the future.
He is Captain Jack.

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"I'm going to talk to the 456," Jack said to the rest of his team.

"I'm coming too."

"You can't."

"I can, Jack. I'm a part of Torchwood too. I'm not just the coffee boy anymore."

"It might be dangerous."

"So you're allowed to throw yourself into danger but I'm not?"

"No. You're not."

"That, Jack, is so unjust-"

"I'll survive, Ianto. I will survive anything that alien throws at me. You won't."

"I don't care, Jack. I don't care because I love you."

"I can't lose you..."

"I promise it will be ok."

After that, he couldn't really refuse.

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Ok, so maybe I didn't hire him because I needed new staff. Maybe I didn't hire him for his coffee making skills (although they are excellent). Maybe I didn't hire him for any of the reasons I ever said or will say.

Maybe I hired him because I loved him.

I never used to believe in love at first sight. But then I saw Ianto, and, just like that, I fell in love.

I never thought something this amazing, something this good, could happen to me.

I thought that I was unlovable.

Luckily, Ianto didn't have quite the same view.

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A prisoner looks at his captor with a cross between contempt and lust.

A Doctor knows this is one patient he cannot fix.

A Master wants to control the one man he can never control.

A captor looks at his prisoner with a cross between pity and lust.

He thinks that the Master is the only broken one. He thinks that the Master is the only one needing to be fixed.

He cannot see that he, too, is broken.

He cannot see that neither of them can be fixed.

A captor and his prisoner look at each other with lust.

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I was still a time agent. I was still free to roam wherever I liked. I was a little bit like him.

World War Two, the middle of an air raid. The best time to make new friends.

Of course, I was in awe of him, with his leather jacket and pretty lady friend. He was ultimate cool.

Not that I was uncool. No siree. I was Captain Jack and right in my element. Aliens, zombies and bombs? Bring it on!

But if he'd looked at me in the same way he'd looked at Rose, I would have been happier.

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Ianto read the slip of paper which had been left with the coffee mugs. The note on it was written in Jack's scrawly handwriting.

The handwriting that made Ianto's heart beat just that little bit faster.

It was just a casual note. A 'would you come out for a pint' note.

But if it was just casual, wouldn't the whole team have been invited? And if it was just casual, wouldn't he have said it in person?

Because Jack wasn't shy. Jack was never shy.

So, he thought, it couldn't be just casual.

And Ianto's heart beat a little faster.

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He sat in the Torchwood cells. He felt alone and afraid.

He felt like the kid he had been once.

He was no prisoner. He had chosen this spot for his moping. He had chosen this spot because he knew it would make him feel alone.

He didn't know what he would do. He didn't know how he would cope. What he had done in the last five days was worse than anything he had done in his entire life.

He was a terrible grandfather and a terrible lover.

He was the cause of their deaths, and it haunted him.

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He entered cautiously.

This behaviour wasn't like him.

His eyes scanned the busy bar.

He was quiet, but not shy.

He spotted the man he was looking for in the corner, alone.

He was never shy.

He walked over, slowly, carefully.

Would he look up? Or would Ianto have to make his presence known?

The man was nursing a pint.

Why was Ianto scared?

He tapped the man on the shoulder, hoping, praying that his assumptions were correct.

He coughed.

The man turned around.

"Ianto," said Jack, his voice husky. "Glad you could make it."

Ianto smiled.

They were alone.

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He was walking along the streets of New York. It was nothing like Cardiff, but it was where he had set up Torchwood America. It was his new home, his old home. Jack Harkness the yank, back in the states.

He wasn't lost, exactly. He just wasn't quite sure of where he was, or quite how to get back.

He stopped to try and work out where he was, and that was when the man bumped into him.

The man hurried past him without saying a word, but Jack could not move. The man had looked so much like Ianto.

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"Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and this drabble's for you." Ianto looked down at the small, singing robot at his feet. It wasn't a great piece of technology. For one thing, it couldn't hold a tune.

"What?" he said, bemused. The lights on the robot's metal casing flickered. Ianto guessed that it was some form of alien technology, although he'd never seen it before. The lights flickered green and it had obviously found the program it had been looking for.

"Blame him," it said. Ianto looked up.

"I'm sick of these drabbles, aren't you?" Jack said.

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/Koschei…/

Tap tap tap tap.

/Koschei…/

Tap tap tap tap.

/Just ignore it, Koschei/

"The drums! Pounding through my head!"

/Shhh… Koschei…/

"Theta Sigma! Doctor!"

Tap tap tap tap.

/Listen, Koschei. Listen beyond the drums. Listen beyond the overpowering sound of your two hearts, to the essence that makes you time lord/

"I… can't."

/Look deeper. Beyond all this 'Master' rubbish. Beyond this nonsensical desire to destroy the universe. Further, and deeper. Find yourself, Koschei. Find the lonely little boy who stared into the time vortex/

"Theta… Doctor… Help me."

/I am/

Tap tap tap tap.

Tap tap tap tap.

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The thirteenth Doctor stood alone at the centre of the TARDIS. A tear rolled down his cheek. The Master had found a way to cheat death, but much as the Doctor had tried, he hadn't been able to figure out a way. He glanced down at his chest, at the life blood seeping out of him, pooling by his feet. His face was pale, damp with perspiration. He collapsed forwards, hands gripping at the controls. He could feel the raw energy pulsing through the TARDIS, and cried out one final time as the energy entered his body.

Two heartbeats ended.

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Different faces. Too many different faces. And so many different bodies.

The personalities were the worst. Having to get used to himself, watching everyone else learn to live with, learn to like, learn to love the new him.

It had been exciting for the first few times. The feeling of change, and then a whole new person came about.

And he liked guessing what he would be like next. Old or young, loud or quiet, and so on and so forth.

But this time, as the light filled his body he felt so different, and he hated this whole cycle.

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We were just talking, after that battle, when he fell to his knees.

"I'm sorry," he said. "So sorry." I didn't understand.

"What have you got to be sorry about?" I asked, and he pointed to the two wounds on his chest.

Two wounds for two hearts.

His shirt was stained red, and he looked like any other man who I had just seen on the battlefield.

But as I watched the change take place, as I watched the energy from the TARDIS fill him, and his features change before my eyes, I knew that I had lost my Doctor.

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It was the part where he got to change his look that he enjoyed the most.

He particularly enjoyed laughing at what his former incarnations had chosen.

"Huh, look at that coat," he'd say, tutting and shaking his head in disapproval. Or he'd trail the long, stripy scarf between his fingers and say "those were the days." He would find the leather jacket, and remember just how awesome he'd thought he was.

And then he'd choose some new clothes.

What would it be this time?

A bow tie?

Trousers with braces?

A fez?

But he'd have to wait and see.

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The energy filled his body, and the change took place.

He could feel his old life slipping away.

He could feel him losing himself.

And then he began to shrink.

"So I'm going to be small this time..."

But he didn't stop shrinking.

And his face and hands and legs grew chubbier.

And he just kept on shrinking.

"Ok, I'm going to be very small..."

And he ended up sitting down on the floor of the TARDIS, with fat thighs and tiny feet.

He felt his head: he was almost bald.

And he had no teeth.

"Oh heck," he thought.

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He had a theory.

He had an idea.

He had a plan.

He was dying.

Doctor number thirteen.

Nothing was happening. He wasn't regenerating.

So he carried out his plan.

The chameleon arc was ready. He was ready.

He was ready to become human.

And then he couldn't remember his time lord past.

He was human. Always had been.

There was a fob watch in his pocket.

He examined it. What strange markings. But he didn't try to open it.

He had cheated death, but his prize came with a price.

He wouldn't be time lord again.

A coward's death.

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The Doctor grinned.

"Ever seen snow like this, Amy?" he asked, kicking a great pile of the stuff up into the air.

"Can't say I have," said Amy, studying the ground beneath her. Her boots had sunk into the deep snow and she was buried up to her calves.

"I knew you wouldn't have," said the Doctor gleefully. "That's why I brought you here of course. To expand your mind."

"Whatever," said Amy, disdainfully. "Now let's make a snowman!" She heaved her boots out of the snow and began rolling a big snowball for her snowman's body. A pink snowball.

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"Now this is more like it," said Amy, peering around her. "Shopping!"

"Girls," said the Doctor, shaking his head. He glanced at Rory who shrugged.

"The quicker we start, the quicker it'll be over," he said.

Amy grabbed her husband's hand. "What are you waiting for then? I need new shoes!"

"I thought we came here to buy presents for other people... That's what you humans do at Christmas," puzzled the Doctor.

"Oh, the shoes will be from Rory, to me," said Amy happily, dragging a bemused Rory into the New New York shopping mall.

The Doctor smiled and followed.

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"What are you doing? Stop it! Stop it! This is my space. Stop it!"

The Doctor leapt around the control room, waving his arms around frantically.

"A little to the left," said Amy, directing the large, green and red alien closer to the control panel.

"No!" yelled the Doctor. "Get it out, I don't want it. Didn't ask for it. My space!"

"That'll be perfect," said Amy to the alien, who lowered the large pine tree to the floor. "I'll take a box of your decorations as well."

The Doctor sat down and rested his head on his hands, sighing.

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"They're fascinating, aren't they?" the Doctor said, holding up the bunch of holly berries. He pressed the tip of his finger against the green leaves. "Dangerous, though..." he said, pulling his hand back.

"They're just holly berries," said Amy, digging through the box of decorations the Doctor had dug out of some dusty TARDIS corner.

"They're my favourite part of Christmas," said the Doctor. "Well, aside from the snow and the presents and the food..." He grinned. "Human Christmas is so much fun! I should do this every year!"

Amy rolled her eyes and started searching through the decorations again.

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"What's that sound?" asked Amy, listening intently.

"Oh no," said the Doctor. "This could be quite bad."

"Wait," said Amy. She moved to stand up but the Doctor reached out and pulled her back down behind the rock they were crouched next to. "They're bells," she told him. "Sleigh bells."

"Now that's where you're wrong," said the Doctor gravely. "We need to get back to the TARDIS, now!"

"Scared of Santa Claus... You're a big baby," muttered Amy as the Doctor led her back to the TARDIS. She glanced behind her and gasped. "Ok, Santa isn't supposed to have horns..."

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"I hate them," said the Doctor, glaring at Amy. "Turn it off."

"Scrooge." She turned the volume up louder. Away in a Manger blasted louder through the speakers.

The TARDIS groaned and shook.

"See, she doesn't like it either," the Doctor snapped. "There, there, it's ok. The horrid girl will turn the music off," he said soothingly.

"I can't believe you hate Christmas carols," said Amy gleefully. She turned it off.

"Thank goodness!" exclaimed the Doctor.

"We three kings..." Amy began, singing as loud as she could.

"For crying out loud," muttered the Doctor, plugging his ears with his fingers.

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"Do you ever take a holiday?" Amy asked, following the Doctor as he stepped out of the TARDIS and into the middle of a standoff between two large, purple aliens holding dangerous weapons.

"Where would be the fun in that?" cried the Doctor, ducking as a laser fired over his head. "It would be so boring!"

"Hmm," said Amy. She ducked behind a snow covered rock. "You promised me somewhere nice for Christmas."

"Did I?" said the Doctor, grinning. "Oops."

"What's even going on here?" Amy yelled, backing away from the alien approaching her.

"No idea," said the Doctor gleefully.

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The Doctor shook the box.

"Nobody's ever given me a Christmas present before," he said, stroking the green wrapping paper.

"Never?" asked Amy, surprised.

"Nope," he said, tugging at the red ribbon. "It looks too good to open..."

"If he's not going to hurry up, can I have mine?" asked Rory, gazing at the pile of presents under the tree.

"Shhh," said Amy. "Let him open it."

"I am letting him!"

The Doctor ripped at a corner of the paper. A small tear appeared. He grinned and ripped off the rest.

"Ooh!" he exclaimed as he saw what was underneath.

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"Not another one," said Rory, reaching up and plucking down the mistletoe that was hanging from the TARDIS ceiling. He slipped it into his pocket and carried on down the corridor towards the control room.

The Doctor hung the mistletoe above the TARDIS door, humming to himself.

"He's not going to fall for it," Amy said, amused.

"Your husband is a spoilsport," muttered the Doctor. "It's just a kiss."

Rory entered the room and spotted the mistletoe.

"I'm not kissing my wife underneath that for your benefit!" he exclaimed.

"I feel quite offended by that," said Amy, making Rory blush.

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Amy picked up an interesting looking drink from the bar and gave it a sniff. It didn't smell poisonous, but that didn't make it safe.

"You can drink that, you know," said a blue person in a hula skirt, before dancing off into the party again.

"What the heck," she said, tipping it back and drinking it. It was definitely alcoholic.

She looked around, trying to spot the Doctor. He was doing the limbo under a large candy cane.

"Come and enjoy the party," said the blue person who had returned to the bar.

Amy smiled and went to dance.

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Amy stared at the plates set in front of her.

"When I agreed to come to Christmas dinner with the blue guy I didn't realise he'd be serving... well, whatever the hell this is," she hissed into the Doctor's ear.

The Doctor grinned.

"You need to broaden your tastes, Pond," he said, helping himself to a slice of green meat.

Amy lifted a couple of what looked like roast potatoes onto her plate.

"Have some sauce," said their host, handing her a ceramic jug.

"It's green!" she exclaimed as she poured it.

She took a mouthful.

"Not bad..." she said.

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"I wanted a turkey," she told him angrily. "And stuffing and roast potatoes and even brussel sprouts. A normal, non alien Christmas dinner!"

"I thought you'd like it," said the Doctor. "What's gotten into you, Pond?"

"I'm tired." She sat down. "I want to go home. I'm tired of fighting and of things being weird and different."

"I'll get you a turkey," said the Doctor, unsure of what else to say.

"This isn't about the turkey," she sighed.

"What?" asked the Doctor, confused.

"Oh, Doctor," said Amy. "Despite all the time you spend with us, you just don't understand humans."

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The Doctor and the Master, together at last. The Doctor and the Master... cooperating?

Is this a lie?

But who are they, those time lords who twist and bend time, one for good and one for evil, one for justice and one for glory?

Doctor, Master, Professor, Prime Minister. Saxon and Smith.

Ruler of the universe, destroyer of life.

Savior to all.

So different, yet so similar, they are fighting a common enemy. Someone who threatens their entire existence. This time they can't fight amongst themselves. They have to work together.

The Time lords have returned, and Rassilon wants revenge.

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We're closer than we have ever been before, but he is still so far away. His arms are around me, but I can tell that his heart isn't in it.

Huh, that fool. So sentimental. You want to dance? Fine, I'll dance. Thanks to this bond he's no choice except me.

Maybe I've been a fool, and this is just wishful thinking. He'll never love me.

I wonder who he'd have chosen if he did have a choice. Martha? No, he has no feelings for her.

What if one day he could love me?

What if he would choose me?

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When I had him captive, I felt like I was whole again. I didn't like keeping him against his will, but I'd rather have him prisoner than not at all.

I hadn't set about it that way. He hadn't been a part of my plan. Just an annoyance.

But something changed.

Something inside of me changed.

I saw him differently.

When I was with him, I felt whole. I hadn't noticed anything missing before, but now I feel it stronger than ever.

When I'd been with him, the drums had been almost imperceptible.

Now they are so strong.

Oh Doctor...

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"Take me shopping," the Master whined. "Take me out." The Doctor sighed.

"We only went last week..." But he was never going to win.

He didn't really mind shopping with the Master. Hell, he didn't mind doing anything with his fiancé.

It seemed strange to call him that, he thought, as they climbed the steps to the most expensive shopping centre in the universe (the Master's choice, of course).

Martha refused to come to the wedding, of course. And luckily Rose would never know.

He was dragged back to the present.

"Silk shirts? Or should I get another black hoody?"

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"A family?" The Master looked shocked. "What do you want a family for?"

The Doctor looked down at his feet, blushing.

"Well, we have a lot of space, and I just thought-"

"Space? It's a damn TARDIS. You want to fill this, you'd need an infinite number of children!"

"Well, I didn't wasn't to fill it, exactly..."

He only wanted one or two. He'd always thought he was pretty good with children.

The Master would take some persuading of course, but he would manage. He always did.

"No," said the Master. "Just no. Definitely not."

"We'll see," smiled the Doctor.

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"Doctor?"

"Yes?" He looked up from the TARDIS controls to see his prisoner sitting by the door.

"I'm sick of this."

The Doctor ignored him.

"I'm sick of us acting like enemies.”

This surprised the Doctor.

"Who are you and what have you done with the Master?" he joked, but really his heart was fluttering madly under his skin.

"I'm serious, Doctor. I'm serious."

The Doctor stared at him.

"Yeah, sure," he said eventually.

"I know this looks bad," began the newly reformed Master, "but please, please believe me."

"Do you... fancy me?"

The silence answered his question for him.

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He knew that there was something missing. He'd been looking, and searching, to no avail. All of those female companions, hell, even the male ones, meant next to nothing. However close he got to them, however much he loved them, they were never quite what he was looking for.

And then he visited New Earth again. Solved the problems of New New York with Martha's help. Helped Brannigan and his wife and tiny kitten children.

He met novice Hame again, watched his great friend, the face of Boe, die.

But those last words, 'You Are Not Alone', meant so much.

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Theta held his husband's hand tightly as they stepped over the threshold of the London orphanage.

"You want a human child," muttered Koschei.

"I like children," was Theta's reply.

They stood in a room full of children.

"Boy or girl?" asked Koschei.

"A girl," said Theta. "A tiny baby girl."

"I hate babies," said Koschei, gazing down at the tiny pink blob bundled up in a white shawl.

"Just look at her feet," said Theta, and Koschei looked.

"What?" he asked.

"Touch them," said Theta, and Koschei cautiously stretched out a finger.

Suddenly the pink blob meant more to him.

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Where are you going on such a fine day?

Oh so far away.

And when will you return, you Time Lord, you?

Oh, when my enemy returns.

Because without him I am nothing.

Just a man with a blue box that's too big for one soul.

Surfing the vortex for the rest of this long, dreary eternity, watching mortal human lives wither before my eyes.

I need you, my Time Lord, my Master, my former friend. You, with your crazy ways and twisted mind. A man who will live as long as I will.

My Master, my Koschei, my love.