Roxas had long since developed a routine that would horrify any dentist. As soon as evening neared (as much as it could with a static sun), Roxas bought ice cream. The seller already memorized his order.
"Four seasalts?" she asked before Roxas had the chance to speak.
He nodded and took out his purse. "You know it."
The seller smiled. It still amazed Roxas how she didn't question the (totally not cultish looking) cloak he wore for a year, his 'brothers' who looked exactly like him, or that time he yelled at nothing in public (sorry, Xion).
Perhaps it was fortunate how she loved to gossip with the uninvolved instead. "I forgot to tell him when he was here-," she handed him the coveted ice cream, "-but tell your brother congrats on his date!"
"What? Sora's not coming till next week!" Roxas furrowed his brows. Like Ventus could ever get a date. But there's no way Sora asked out his friends yet. None.
"Must've been another boy then," the saleslady said, "he was shorter than I remember..."
She shook her hand and handed Roxas his usual change. "Don't mind me, go have fun with your friends!"
"Thanks, goodbye." Roxas turned to leave.
Wait. Hadn't Zexion sent that message about..? And if there's someone looking like his 'brother'? Oh no. That's bad.
A Dark Corridor opened before Roxas. The others needed to hear about this.
Why are labs so cold? Riku asked himself. Did everyone forget heaters in the face of science, or did Even not know what cold felt like?
Meanwhile, said scientist gripped his coffee mug so tightly Ienzo eyed the towels again. This was emergency meeting number three, right?
"To summarize, two replicas woke up without any outside influnce, and then proceeded outside with no one stopping them."
At least Dilan had the decency to look a little guilty at Even's icy stare.
"There's no darkness here, at least." Riku said, sniffing the air. He did not mention the smell of darkness since Sora told him sniffing people is kinda weird once. He still felt awkward around Namine for that one.
The cold messed with his nose anyways and-
there's darkness here now.
He tensed. Everyone glanced toward the door with newfound apprehension. Thoughts raced through his head as he summoned Braveheart, Sora's Kingdom Key just a second behind. An enemy? Their enemy, coming back to finish their job?
Together with his shield, Even approached the door, when Roxas burst in, sweating lightly. Melting ice cream in hand.
"Drop your weapons, it's me!" Riku pretended he didn't notice Roxas turning his way with the statement. The past was the past-
"Guys, it's Sora." Roxas said, once he calmed.
Sora pointed to himself in confusion. "What's with me?"
"Not you you. The replicas. Another you. Or a Ventus. Maybe another Riku, by the sound of it."
The room broke out in chaos.
"Just wonderful," Even scoffed.
"How is this possible?" Ienzo wondered.
"I bet he's friendly," Sora stated.
"Another Repliku?" Riku sighed.
In the meantime, the threatening, vile, mysterious replicas spent their time sight-seeing across the universe. They freaked out over pirates in Port Royale ("You think they're cool, RIku! Don't deny it!"), frolicked through the woods, and met a whole bunch of people.
Said people taught them a whole bunch of things, namely that their flesh and blood counterparts did some pretty cool stuff. Like, y'know, save the universe thrice or something, or bend space-time through sheer force of will. Destroying bugs is nothing compared to that!
With that knowledge came a problem. This being...
"What'cha doing here, Sora?" asked Aladdin in Aggrabah. So Sora ran off before he stole a wedding invitation by accident.
Or maybe "Sora! Just in time for Halloween!"
and "Hey Sora! Wanna spar?"
At the end of it all, in a quiet corner of Atlantica, Sora pouted. Finding out his elder did all that cool stuff only bummed him out more.
So he said, "We need new names. Cool ones."
With new conviction (that good sidetracked five minutes later) Sora and Riku stumbled into the Antlantican Museum of Antrhopology and Human History. Most noteworthy for its heavy use of seashells and pearls in decorating, the collection of questionably named items, and the rumors surrounding its owner and head researcher.
Opening the yellow doors besides the sign proclaiming 'Free entry for minors!' and entering a lobby filled with paintings of coral, a red-haired woman busied herself inside.
The one and only Ariel, known as King Eric's wife, and rumored to be a mermaid.
Sora knew those rumors were true, obviously, but the sight of her still shocked him. Because for one, she was standing, and standing meant..
"Since when do you have legs?!"
Ariel swiveled around to face the new voice, and stood silent once realization of who was before her dawned. "I could ask you the same thing!" Her tone didn't hold accusation, no, rather it held the natural curiosity Ariel faced all things unusal and strange with.
"Um," Sora eloquently said. "I can explain. Which means, uh." He could feel a judgemental duck scream ' World Order!' in the distance. After an awkward silence ensued, an excuse made its way past Sora's lips accompanied by an appropiate amount of frantic hand gestures. "I'm his cousin!"
This, however, was also a terrible thing to say.
"How is a human related to a mermaid?" Ariel put a hand to her chin in thought.
Riku resisted the temptation to smack his forehead against a wall. So he sighed instead. "It's a long story, we'd rather not explain."
Ariel's gaze softened in understanding. "I'll stop asking, then," she said.
"Thanks," was Riku's curt answer.
Quickly, Ariel regained her enthusiasm and held out a hand toward the two boys. Both of them stared at the hand without moving. They looked at Ariel. She looked at them.
"Isn't it this what humans do meeting new people?"
"Ohhh...." Sora said, once again proving his way with words. Then, he stepped forward and took Ariel's hand.
"Nice to meet you, Ariel! I'm.. uhh..." Sora's grip on her hand slackened and she let go.
Sora sheepishly rubbed the back of his head. "That's kinda what we're trying to figure out right now."
"Dou you two have-," insert dramatic pause, "-"amnesia? Eric gave me this book on 'psychology'-" she put air-quotes around the word, "and I've only read about it in some human stories, but it seems common? Do a lot of humans have it? There's specialists for that, then, right? I can't remember what it does besides making you lose your memories somehow but if it's serious-"
Now Riku made a move to adress the 'situation', namely Sora's brain slowly overheating because he has no idea what she's talking about. "No, we have all our memories. We don't have names of our own."
Riku's awkward shuffling made all questions die in Ariel's throat. Who cares that it's strange? Weird things happened. Shadow monsters existed. Magic was real. These boys simply wanted her help, and Ariel never refused to aid all who asked her to. So a smile made its way onto her face and she carefully took Riku's arm, to stop him from looking at the floor.
"I've got just the thing to you," she said, softly, as she began to lead the two through all her shelves of curious collections.
Riku glanced back to Sora, who shrugged with a grin, following closely behind.
Besides properly labelled cutlery and tables filled with surrealist paintings, far in the back, stood a bookshelf filled to the brim with dictionaries. Because once, Ariel got it stuck in her head to learn every single human language in existence, until discovering there's way too many (she currently learned four).
Sora clapped his hands, eyes practically sparkling. Riku, on the other hand, eyed the books with apprehension.
"I.. don't know the exact process behind human names," Ariel admitted, "but Sora said people in his home named children after things they liked! So look through a few, if you like"
And with a quick "Tell me if you need me, I'll be at the front!" Ariel left the two to their task.
As she was still leaving, Sora already picked a random book of the shelf and flipped it open. Not one to be left behind, Riku flipped one open as well. Won't hurt, now will it?
Of course, as many things between them often did, picking names turned into a competition within five minutes.
"How about we call you Dora?" Riku said with a laugh, "Data-Sora, Dora? It's the only logical conclusion."
Sora showed his teeth in a grin. "You're on, dark and handsome!"
Riku raised his book to hide his oncoming blush. Once their banter quieted down, he focused back on his book, only for a word captured his attention.
"Taivas..," Riku whispered to himself. According to his book (Finnish for Beginners?), it meant..
"What was that?" Sora dug his own nose out of a book at the sound. (Ariel had a book on Uzbek?)
His hair covered his face as Riku held up the book for Sora to see. "It means.. sky."
'And it sounds cute' Riku prevented himself from saying in time.
Sora hummed in thought. He mumbled the name for a bit, when he snapped his fingers and proclaimed, "I like it!"
To add on, Sora (Taivas?) shoved his own book at Riku. "I've got something for you , too!"
Riku blinked. 'Himoyachi' is what Sora's finger pointed to. "Huh?"
"Well-" Taivas (That'll take time to get used to) scratched his cheek, "-it means protector." Taivas' ears ran red, yet he, as subtly as he could, let his hand inch closer to his boyfriend's.
And to confirm, Himoyachi took hold of Taivas' hand.