Sora really had no excuse to be late to Wednesday's clan quest since he usually worked from home. He had even become a bit of a homebody despite being an extrovert. Nonetheless, he burst through his shared home's front door, shopping bags in tow and ran past Riku's room. Luckily everything he bought from the 24-hour mart was non-perishable snacks and just general house things that needed replacing so it all could wait to be put away until he was done questing for the night.
He heard Riku in his bedroom next door yell something unintelligible through the wall so he quickly shed his blue hoodie and kicked off his torn sneakers before plopping down into the desk chair and double clicking on the sword icon on his desktop. Heart of Worlds' login screen popped up, ready for him to dive straight in and join Riku and Kairi for The Big Rescue quest that he had picked last night during their clan meeting.
Welcome to Heart of Worlds !
New Message from: Mika
Fainn, please message me when you get on.
Sora rolled his eyes. Mika was really getting on his nerves and he just didn't have time for whatever bullshit she had today. He knew she had a crush on him but she had to be a teenager with how immature she was being about it. Sora would rather ignore her until she went away than deal with the drama.
New Message from: Geir
Get your punk ass to the desert. Ari and I already got the stuff for the quest. This story looks long and stupid. Thanks a lot.
Joining Kingdom Hearts clan chat...
Geir and Ariae are talking in the clan chat.
[Fainn]: Hey guys. Everyone ready?
[Geir]: We've been ready jackass.
[Ariae]: We got almost everything. :) We are at the quest start point.
Casting: Teleport to Agrabah...
[Fainn]: Headed your way.
[Geir]: Hurry up. Me and Ari were on time. You need to start rolling your ass out of bed if you're going to be doing the clan's quest planning.
[Fainn]: Hey, I was out of bed on time. I had an errand to run. It just took a bit longer than I thought it would...
Fainn has joined the Kingdom Heart 's Questing Party.
Your clan has started The Big Rescue quest. Talk to the princess to begin.
Princess Jasmine: Oh! They have taken my husband! Prince Aladdin!
[Fainn]: Who has?
Princess Jasmine: Jafar. I think he means to hold him hostage.
[Fainn]: What can my clan do for you?
Princess Jasmine: Oh, please save him. Save Aladdin. I promise you rewards for your good deed.
[Fainn]: We accept, Princess.
Princess Jasmine: I can only help you a little.
[Geir]: Duh. Why would they make anything easy?
Princess Jasmine: I have a plan. You need disguises, and you must make an imprint of Aladdin's jail key.
[Fainn]: Thank you. Don't worry; We will save Prince Aladdin.
[Fainn]: Okay, disguises and imprint of the jail key.
[Ariae]: I already grabbed all the items for the disguises. I was up early so I decided to get a head start.
[Fainn]: Thanks Ari. :) You're the best! Feels like it won't take as long as we thought.
[Ariae]: It's nothing, really. :)
Sora's heartbeat began to race. Seeing Ariae so into the quest he picked out for the clan made him happy. Maybe he could muster up the courage to ask her her real name today. Yes, he decided. He would definitely ask her today.
[Geir]: Enough with the sappy crap. Let's rescue the prince.
You have received a Wig and Pink Skirt from Ariae.
[Fainn]: Woah now. Skirts and wigs? What is this?
[Geir]: What? Not comfortable enough in your sexuality to put it on?
[Ariae]: I already know where the prince is.
[Geir]: Damn, how early were you up?
[Ariae]: There is only one jail in all of Castlewind silly. :P
[Fainn]: Oh! The ship in Neverland!
Casting: Teleport clan to Neverland...
Your group has been stopped by Captain Hook.
Capt. Hook: What is it ye need here?
[Fainn]: Looking for Jafar. You seen him?
Capt. Hook: Ye speak boldly for a lowly knight.
Fainn draws his sword. Captain Hook takes a step back.
Capt. Hook: Ye may board the ship...
Your clan has boarded the ship.
[Fainn]: To the jail cells!
[Geir]: Bro, I know being locked up is your thing but keep it to yourself.
[Geir]: So is that a no to bondage Ari?
Sora grabbed a pillow from the edge of his bed and threw it at the wall he shared with Riku. He could hear a muffled "Hey!" from the other side. That silver-haired bastard had better chill out with all the sexual references he'd been dishing out lately. What are they? Horny teenagers? Well, once upon a time they were, but damn. Hadn't they matured a bit? Sora knew he had, but maybe Riku was just pressing his luck to see how far he could go before Sora lit into him in front of Ariae. He decided to continue on with the quest instead for now.
Your clan has reached the jail cells of the ship.
You cannot perform this action. Ariae has already engaged in conversation with Jafar.
Jafar: What do we have here?
[Ariae]: Aren't you Jafar?
Jafar: How do you know my name?
[Ariae]: I've heard of you. You're famous all over Castlewind!
Jafar: Well, I'm so flattered to be noticed by a beauty such as yourself.
[Fainn]: Nice going! Now we gotta find out how to get Aladdin...
[Ariae]: I'm on it! ;)
[Ariae]: Mind if I ask what your latest plan is?
Jafar: I captured Prince Aladdin. I will return him to the Princess once my demands are met.
[Ariae]: You must have been very skillful to take the Prince hostage.
Jafar: I am! Ha ha ha!
[Ariae]: Are you sure your guards won't let him go?
Jafar: They can't. I have the only key.
[Ariae]: Could I see the key?
Jafar holds up the key then slips it back into his pocket.
[Geir]: I have soft clay for the imprint when you're ready.
[Ariae]: Trade it to me. I am going to get him to hand me the key!
[Geir]: There ya go. Get it girl lol.
[Ariae]: Could I touch it?
Jafar shrugs and hands Ariae the key. Ariae has made an imprint of the key in the soft clay. Jafar snatches back the key.
Jafar: I think that's quite enough.
[Fainn]: Brilliant, Ari. :)
[Geir]: Nice. I also got the bronze bar to make the key.
[Ariae]: Thanks Fainn. We need to get to a furnace. Geir, I'm trading you the imprint.
[Geir]: I'm going to smelt this real fast then join you guys back here. I'll grab the rope and some beer while I'm out too. ;)
[Fainn]: Alright, we'll wait here. And that beer is for the guards... Not you.
[Geir]: What a party pooper... BRB.
[Ariae to You]: What was that about last night?
Fuck. Sora swallowed the lump forming in his throat. He wanted to put this off a little longer...
[You to Ariae]: Ah, nothing.
[Ariae to You]: Come on Fainn. Spill it.
Well, looks like it was now or never. Sora wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans, took a deep breath, and typed out his name. With a shaky finger, he pressed 'enter.'
[You to Ariae]: Sora.
[Ariae to You]: What?
[You to Ariae]: My real name is Sora... I would like for you to call me that if we PM each other.
[Ariae to You]: Okay, Sora. :) My name is Kairi.
Sora sat back in his chair, his cheeks flaming. He did it! He punched the air. "Yes!"
He wanted to know so much more about Ari... well, Kairi now. He wanted to know more than just her name, but he wouldn't pressure her. He didn't want to rush her or make things weird before he had a chance for her to also get to know the real him. And on top of that, he couldn't help but chastise himself a bit for falling for a game character even though Kairi was a real person on the other end.
Ariae, Kairi's character, was so pretty. She had lavender eyes with elfish ears that stuck out just slightly from her long blonde hair. Right now, she had on the unique armor she won from the three-headed dragon which was a little revealing on her curvy bodied character. She also had a high-level scimitar equipped which just made her look hot and bad ass at the same time. Even though they were just pixels, Ari was hot. Did she look anything like that in real life, he wondered? No matter; Sora quickly brushed the thought away.
He looked pretty similar to his avatar, Fainn. They both had brown hair and blue eyes and were tall and slim built with some muscle definition, but not much. Sora felt a sliver of insecurity enter his heart at that last part. Maybe he should hit the gym... Did Kairi like muscular men? Hopefully she liked him for himself and not his avatar. He berated himself internally since that's exactly what he was just doing to her. For shame...
A private message pinged from his headset, bringing him out of his train of thought.
[Ariae to You]: ...Sora?
Sora shook the intrusive thoughts from his mind and got back to Heart of Worlds, wanting to tell Kairi his actual first thoughts and not what rabbit hole he had just fallen down.
[You to Ariae]: You have a beautiful name.
[Ariae to You]: Thank you. :)
[Geir]: Back. Got the key, rope, and beer.
[You to Ariae]: You're welcome. :)
[Ariae]: Woot! We are almost done!
[Geir]: Hey, you!
[Geir]: Fancy a beer?
Guard: Well... Yeah. One couldn't hurt. Right?
Geir hands the guard a beer.
[Geir]: I have plenty here. Want another?
Guard: I really shouldn't...
[Geir]: What's the worst that could happen?
Guard: Ah, well... Alright!
Geir has given the guard 4 pints. The guard is drunk.
Guard: -hic-.. Thanks for the -hic- beer...
Your clan has grabbed Jafar and tied him up with rope. Fainn has unlocked the jail cell.
Prince Aladdin: Thank you! Thank you so much!
[Fainn]: You're free to go now.
Prince Aladdin: I can't walk out looking like this. They will see me and recapture me!
Fainn gives Prince Aladdin the disguise.
[Fainn]: Thank god I didn't have to wear it.
[Ariae]: Are you saying you wouldn't look good in a skirt? ;)
Sora's cheeks blossomed with heat at Kairi's comment. He cleared his throat and tried to shake the red from his cheeks. That was unexpected.
[Geir to You]: Was that Ari flirting with you? Or am I imagining it?
[You to Geir]: Shut it.
Prince Aladdin has taken the disguise and left the jail cell.
Casting: Teleport clan to Agrabah...
Princess Jasmine: For your good deeds, please accept these rewards.
Your clan has completed The Big Rescue quest.
Sora's character received experience points to his overall level and 10k gold. Not too bad, he figured. This was a pretty simple quest that was gearing them up for a bigger one. And it didn't take too long either! Sora patted himself on the back as a job well done.
[Ariae]: I gotta go guys.
[Fainn]: Bye Ari. See ya tomorrow. Same time?
[Ariae]: Sure. :)
Ariae has left the clan chat.
[Ariae to You]: Goodnight Sora.
[You to Ariae]: Goodnight Kairi. :)
Sora smiled as his heart did backflips in his chest at Kairi wishing him a goodnight. "She said my name..." he thought wistfully. Then he wondered what her voice would sound like saying his name. And then he wondered what it would sound like if she were in his bed- Stop! He shook the thought from his head. He had a crush, and he was going to do something about it, but what he was NOT going to do was... well, whatever that was. No dirty thoughts right now please, he begged his brain. "Please let me start with baby steps..."
To be perfectly honest, it had been awhile since Sora's last physical relationship. It was while Sora and Riku had been working on getting their game company off the ground. The hours were long and grueling, and all of it was unpaid work. His girlfriend of one year at the time couldn't handle it. They ended up breaking up fairly amicably as far as Sora was concerned.
It hurt at first, but Sora had Roxas and Riku to fall back on, and then, of course, their company took off. Once they could start paying the bills and work on games full time, Sora considered getting back in the dating scene. He tried a couple of dating apps and even went on a few dates, but nothing really panned out for him. Kairi was really the first person in a long time that caught his attention.
Sora finally logged off as well and looked over at his phone. Two new text messages, one of them was from Riku. While pulling off his jeans in place of some comfy sweats, Sora opened Riku's text and responded with an eye roll.
Sora heard a thump from Riku's room and took it as a "congrats" noise. He pulled his sheets back and climbed into bed. Reaching for his phone charger, he noticed he still had a second unread text message. Sora sighed and opened the second text message, but it wasn't from anyone he had in his contacts.
His brow furrowed, and he sent back a text asking the identity of the sender. He waited and, as he expected, he got no response. Just as he was about to turn out the bedside lamp, he heard a soft knock at his door. "Come in." He whispered loudly. He knew it was still too early for Roxas to be up; Sora recalled his classes would be starting at 8 this morning. When he saw a silver haired head peek in, his suspicions were confirmed. Riku shuffled in, smiling and still not dressed for bed.
"Wanna go to the bridge?" Riku asked quietly, still smirking. Sora looked at the time on his phone. It was just getting close to 5AM. His thoughts quickly flitted to his inner turmoil the night before. While he was tired and had really wanted to get up before noon one of these days, Sora decided today would not be that day. He nodded to Riku before slipping out of the bed and pulling on his favorite hoodie, phone in hand.
Riku and Sora left the house quietly and began walking towards the bridge. The bridge was a place where most of the teens and young adults around town hung out after school and during the summer. It was wooden and sturdy, but looked almost haunted. Sora could remember many summer days jumping off of it into the water below... but the water looked dark and eerie at 5 in the morning, Sora thought as he and Riku began walking across it.
"Hey, lover boy," Riku poked him in the side as they slowly walked to their "spot" which was really just a bit of railing towards the center of the bridge. Sora sighed but shot Riku a small smile as he followed him.
This was probably a good opportunity to get some things off his chest about Ariae, well, Kairi. Riku was his best friend and knew him better than anyone. Maybe he could help talk him around these negative thoughts. The two had been best friends since they were babies and had become inseparable ever since. One could read the other like a book, which was the case as soon as they were alone on the bridge and outside the world of HoW.
"Did you tell her already?" Riku punched Sora lightly in the arm as he stood next to him. Sora shook his head, a frown forming as his thoughts churned inside his head. "And why not?" Riku asked, stuffing his hands inside the pockets of his hoodie.
"Don't you think it's weird or just... crazy? I mean, I just found out her name today. And she is in a different time zone. This is sudden and..." Sora trailed off, his gaze dropping to the dark water that flowed beneath the bridge. Maybe all the answers were down there somewhere.
"So you're saying you need time to think about it?" Riku leaned against the railing of the bridge next to Sora, watching his best friend's face. He was reading him. Sora knew it so he tried his best to explain.
"There are just so many cons to this. I feel like I don't know Kairi well enough, and then there's the distance," Sora's head suddenly snapped up, and he looked at Riku like he had been struck by the worst thought ever. "What if she has a boyfriend already?"
Riku put his hands on Sora's shoulders and gave him a hard shake. "Dude, snap out of it. You are acting like it's the end of the world. Why not just get to know her? Ask Kairi if she has a boyfriend. You over complicate things. I know it's been awhile since your last girlfriend, but you're shooting this down before it even gets off the ground."
"I can't ask her things like that... I feel like our clan made this stupid pact without ever really saying it out loud." Sora hung his head, but Riku stared at him, his brows knitted together as he tried to decipher Sora's words.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I feel like our clan on Heart of Worlds basically made a pact not to talk about real life stuff. I mean, I felt so guilty asking Kairi what her name was today. We never talk about real life things on HoW. What if I ask too many questions and she gets freaked out?" Sora turned away from Riku and looked down into the water again, still looking for those answers in the darkness.
Riku's hands fell down to his sides as he sighed. "Sora, everything will work out how it is supposed to. You need to just chill out. Tell ya what; how about we do a quest together tomorrow and I'll help you out with Kairi. I'll coach you through it." Riku patted Sora on the back. "You can do this. Have some faith in yourself."
Sora looked up at him and gave him a big smile. "Thanks, Riku. You're the best." Riku shoved him playfully with one hand, and Sora laughed softly.
"It's no problem, man. Really. Besides, we're not getting any younger, and I wasn't kidding about marrying you off to get you outta my hair." He smirked at Sora jokingly.
Sora gently pushed Riku back. "Yeah, yeah." But then Sora's face turned more serious, and he took out his phone as if he had just remembered the unknown sender's text. "Actually, there's something else I wanted to show you. Do you know who this could be?" Sora handed Riku his phone so he could read the text from "unknown". Riku studied the text for a second or two then shook his head, handing Sora his phone back.
"I have no idea who that could be. Who professes their love over text anyway?" Riku was slyly hinting at Sora confessing to Kairi over Heart of Worlds. Sora pouted at Riku's question, but Riku just grinned at him.
"Very funny." Sora said, slipping his phone into his back pocket.
"I was kidding; but seriously, could it be anyone you met on one of those dating apps? Or anyone that has a media pass or is a beta tester for our Heartless game? They shouldn't have had access to your phone number, just our emails, but..." He trailed off, putting his knuckle to his lips as he thought of other ways someone could have gotten Sora's personal cell phone number.
Sora rocked back on his heels in thought then shook his dark brown hair. "Nope. Not that I know of anyway."
"Hmm..." Riku scratched the back of his head. "Well just let me know when it happens again. IF it happens again. Could have been a wrong number." Riku winked at him, trying to lighten the mood. Riku mentally reminded himself that he would have a look later at their media kit and website to see if there was anywhere a data leak could have happened. If for nothing but peace of mind.
Sora shrugged halfheartedly. If he was going to tell someone he liked them, he would make damn sure it was the right number. "I don't know, Riku." Sora sighed and put his hands in his hoodie pockets as the two men slowly walked back over the bridge towards their home where, undoubtedly, they would both fall into their beds and sleep past noon.