There Is a Destiny That Makes Us Brothers

Chapter 1: Shadows

Notes: Hello and welcome! This is my first multi-chapter endeavor in, well, a really long time. As in, years. As such, I'm equal parts excited and nervous about this story. So, I'd really love any feedback you guys have for me as I get back into the groove of writing fic!

This story is somewhat connected to a recent oneshot of mine, Through the Glass, which you don't necessarily need to read to understand this, but it does establish my starting point for Sora and Roxas' relationship in this story and might be interesting in that way.

Thanks to everybody who helped me with my anal-retentive and extensive outlining of this fic, including my little sister, my mother, and my good friend LuckyLadybug (since it was a story of hers that kinda gave me the original plunnie for this). Also, thanks to the lovely folks at the KH Wiki for providing a one-stop refresher course on KH canon. And thanks to Edwin Markham for writing the poem my title comes from. :P

Sora was really, really not looking to the math exam he had the next day. If only he'd known, as he buckled down to get a little more studying in before bed, that in a few hours algebra would be the least of his problems.

He was having a strange dream – he was running through town, being chased by a bunch of numbers and what could only be described as the quadratic formula with teeth. But the mathematical menaces were suddenly joined by creatures that slithered along the sidewalk, almost like Shadow Heartless, but with less of a definite form.

The numbers and the shadow creatures sprang towards Sora, who attempted to summon his Keyblade, but it wouldn't come. As his assailants leapt toward him, he felt a massive energy pass through his body, knocking the wind out of him. In his dream, he fell backwards and kept falling for a long, long time.

And Sora flung himself upright, breathing heavily in his dark room. His stiff neck shouted in protest, and the clock on his desk proclaimed it was nearly two in the morning. Sora groaned: he'd fallen asleep at his desk, studying for that stupid test. Okay, he'd just get in his pajamas and get into bed, it had only been a dream, and it was just one test –

There was a soft groan from behind him. Sora whirled around. Roxas was half-sprawled on Sora's bedroom floor.

Sora jumped up and crouched next to Roxas, his eyes wide. He had spoken to Roxas a few times in the months since his adventure had ended and he'd come home, but every time it had been in Sora's subconscious, in his dreams. "A-Am I still asleep?"

"I dunno, are you?" Roxas grumped, rubbing his head. It felt like he'd been dropped out of the sky into Sora's bedroom.

"I don't think so! But if I'm awake, and you're..." Sora experimentally poked Roxas in the shoulder. He was just as solid as anything else in the room. "H-How come you're me!?"

"Don't look at me," Roxas grumbled, sitting up. "I didn't do anything."

Before Sora could answer, there was a flash of light, and suddenly King Mickey was standing in Sora's bedroom as well.

"Oops," he said, as the two boys gaped at him in disbelief. "Guess I didn't make it in time to warn you."

"Warn us about what?! What is going on here?" Roxas burst out finally.

But before Mickey could answer, there was a knock at the door. "Sora?"

Sora gave the other two a panicked look. "It's my mom!" he hissed, scrambling to his feet. He ushered Mickey and Roxas into his closet, shutting them in before they could protest, and then dashed across the room and threw open his bedroom door.

His mother stood in the hallway in her nightgown, peering at him through sleepy eyes. "Sora?" she yawned. "I thought I heard voices. And what are you still doing in your clothes?"

"W-well, I guess I fell asleep studying for that math test, and I must have been yelling formulas in my sleep, or something. But everything's fine now!" Sora added in a rush. "You just go back to sleep, Mom. Sorry I woke you up, I'll make it up to you, promise!"

"Okay," she answered with a yawn and a shrug. She was much too tired to deal with whatever it was he was clearly hiding. She'd worry about it tomorrow.

As soon as his mother was safely back in her room, Sora shut his door and hurriedly tip-toed to his closet, opening the door.

"Sorry about that," he whispered in response to the withering look Roxas gave him upon being released. "But I really don't want to try and explain you guys to my parents."

"Oh, right!" Mickey said. Summoning his Keyblade, he pointed it at Sora's bedroom door. Something gel-like shot out the tip of it and attached itself to Sora's door, spreading out and forming a clear barrier of sorts. "There we go," Mickey said. "Soundproof."

"Then tell us what's going on," Roxas repeated, arms folded.

Mickey looked him up and down. He'd heard a lot about Sora's Nobody, of course, but he'd never seen him in person before. Roxas was watching him with distrust in his blue eyes, but then Mickey supposed if the things that had been done to Roxas had been done to him, he'd be a little wary of people he didn't know as well.

"Well, to be honest, I don't know all of what's happening, and it was hard enough to get this far. I don't think I've got much time," Mickey began urgently.

"There's this old prophecy at Disney Castle...Aw, shoot, how does it go...?" He scratched his chin. "Let's see, 'when darkness overtakes all shadows, yada yada, two of the light borne out of darkness join the three connected by one heart to restore the balance of light and dark to the world of shadows'. Or something like that. You fellas get the idea."

"Nice prophecy and all, but what's that have to do with us?" Sora asked.

"Aw, c'mon, it's not that hard."

Roxas frowned. "Two of the light borne out of darkness?" he repeated. "Wait, that can't be about – "

"You and Naminé? Bingo!"

Sora gaped. "Then does that mean Naminé's separated from Kairi, too? And the other three in this prophecy thing – is that me, Kairi, and Riku?"

"Yep, and yep."

"That is so cool!" Sora exclaimed. "We've got our own prophecy and everything!"

Roxas didn't share Sora's enthusiasm. "So...what, is it like before, where we're separate but not whole?"

"Hm...try summoning your Keyblade, Roxas," was the king's reply.

Roxas complied, and found he was holding a Keyblade he'd never seen before. It was slender, and felt light and responsive in his grip. The handle was round, and a pale blue color that was somehow familiar to Roxas, but he couldn't quite place where he'd seen it before.

The shaft was made of two branches of metallic silver, much like Oathkeeper, and as Roxas held it up, the soft glow of Sora's desk lamp illuminated the head, which, like Oathkeeper, was made of five points. The colors were quite different, though: a soft blend of purple, faded red, and burnt orange. Like a sunset, Roxas thought idly.

The chain was made up of a series of interlinked infinity symbols, culminating in a charm the Nobody symbol. So he wouldn't forget where he'd come from, Roxas guessed.

"Whoa," Sora said, ogling the new Keyblade. "Wasn't expecting that."

"Me either," Roxas said, releasing the Keyblade and watching it vanish in a small burst of light. "I thought it would be Oathkeeper or Oblivion."

"Ah, but that proves it, doesn't it?" Mickey said excitedly. "Those Keychains were formed from Sora's heart and his memories of his friends. That new Keychain you have is formed from your own heart and memories, I'm sure of it."

"My...heart?" Roxas repeated in disbelief. "I have a heart?"

"Yep!" Mickey answered. "Looks my suspicion was right. You're your own person now. With a heart and everything. It's the same with Naminé."

Roxas didn't answer, couldn't come up with one. He sunk onto Sora's bed. It suddenly hit him – the handle of that new Keyblade was the exact color of sea-salt ice cream.

"How!?" Sora exclaimed. "Did you do this?" he asked the King.

Mickey shook his head vehemently. "No way! I don't have the power to do that."

"Then, who does?" Sora asked.

"You guys know how there's a Realm of Darkness and a Realm of Light, right?" When Sora and Roxas both nodded, he went on. "In between the two, there's the Domain of Shadows. It's been ruled over by a powerful enchantress since, well, since the beginning of the worlds! She's the one who's separated you guys."

"That was awfully nice of her," Sora blinked.

"I wish it was that simple," Mickey frowned. "She's not allowed to use her power to do things like that. Remember, in the prophecy? 'When darkness overtakes all shadows'. I think something dark and evil – I don't know what yet – has taken over the Domain of Shadows and its enchantress, and that's bad news for all of us."

"Why's that?" Sora asked.

"A shadow's a pretty powerful thing. They can travel across any surface, even over water, and if you control a person's shadow, you can control them."

"So, let me get this straight," Sora began, folding his arms. "There's some bad guy who's controlling this shadow enchantress lady, and he, using her powers, went and separated Roxas and Naminé from me and Kairi according to some old prophecy."

"That's about right, yep."

"That doesn't make any sense," Roxas spoke up finally, from Sora's bed. "Doesn't the prophecy say we'll 'restore the balance' or whatever?"

"Yeah, but there's more to it than that: the prophecy also says something like, um, gosh..." Mickey looked skyward, trying to remember. "Something like, 'a star cannot shine without all five points. Should one point be lost, the star will destroy itself and all light in the world will go out.' So, in other words, the prophecy also says that if one of you is destroyed, the rest destroy each other and the world."

"Cheery," Roxas muttered.

"Hey, come on!" Sora exclaimed, rounding on him. "What's with you? This is awesome. We get to kick butt together, and Naminé, too..."

"But what about when this is all over?" Roxas asked, turning to Mickey. "Say we succeed and save the worlds. What happens to me and Naminé after that? Are they just done with us, and we'll fade again?"

Mickey sighed. "It's a good question, Roxas, and I'm sorry I don't know the answer."

"...Sorry I'm not jumping for joy," Roxas said to Sora.

Sora bit his lip. "W-well, we'll just worry about that when it comes. What do you need us to do now?" he asked, turning to Mickey.

"Glad you asked, Sora," Mickey began. "First thing in the morning, I need you too to go get Riku, Kairi, and Naminé. The five of you need to head to Yen Sid's tower. I'll set up a portal for you near Kairi's house. Hopefully I'll have more answers for you by then. But – and this is really important – if things get too crazy, then the two of you need to get out of Destiny Islands. Head to Yen Sid's on your own, and the others will meet you there. I'll be giving Riku the same instructions tonight. Got all that?"

The two nodded. "But, if it's gonna be so dangerous, why wait till morning? Why can't we just go now?" Sora asked.

"Good question," Mickey said, moving toward the window. He gestured Sora and Roxas over, and pulled back the curtain.

They peered out into the darkness. "Either I'm hallucinating, or the ground is...moving," Roxas said finally.

"Yep. Whoever's behind all this has sent out a bunch of shadow creatures to find you guys.

"No way," Sora gasped, staring at the street behind his house. He could see them now – shadow monsters like in his dream, slithering along the ground, crawling over each other and everything, sticking their heads into the air, sniffing. "All of those are after us?"

"Yep," Mickey said grimly. "They're mostly blind, in the daytime at least, but they've got a sharp sense of smell and they see pretty well in the dark. And we definitely don't need to go outside tonight and make things easier for them." He turned to Sora and Roxas, his expression serious. "Now, this is really, really important. I need you two to promise me that no matter what happens, you'll stick together, okay? Watch each other's backs."

Sora and Roxas looked at each other. They could do that, right? Even if they didn't know each other that well, they were at least okay with each other, and Sora could certainly understand Roxas' unease about whatever would happen after this was all over.

"We promise," Sora said.

"One more thing," Roxas began.

Mickey nodded for Roxas to continue, but before the blond could say anything, there was a popping sound, and in a flash of light, the king was gone.

"W-where'd he go!?" Sora exclaimed.

Roxas swallowed. "He said it was hard to get here... Maybe whatever was trying to keep him out, found him."

Sora looked over at Roxas, chewing his lip. "What were you gonna ask him, or do I not wanna know?"

Roxas rubbed the back of his neck. "I was gonna ask how we're supposed to get to Yen Sid if we can't get the others or make it to this portal thing."

"Oh man," Sora groaned. It was going to be a long few hours, until the sun came up.

But somehow the time did pass. Sora even managed to sleep a little bit, dozing in and out among his trepidation at what the morning might bring. He awoke a little past six in the morning to the sound of his parents downstairs making coffee. Sora sat bolt upright, ready to spring out the door right then. He hadn't bothered changing out of his clothes after Mickey was so abruptly booted from Sora's room.

Roxas was sitting at Sora's desk, resting his chin on his fist. "D'you feel that?" he asked, seeing that Sora was awake.

"Y-yeah. Feels like something's coming."

"Or like something's already here.

Sora was already throwing his shoes on. "Can you make it out the window?" he asked Roxas, nodding towards the tree outside his window.

Roxas gave a single nod, heading for the window. "Meet you outside."

Sora shouldered his backpack, which he'd packed in the middle of the night with a few potions and a few of his best and favorite Keychains. He hurried downstairs, both of his parents surprised to see him up so early.

And Sora was equally surprised to see his father there. "Dad," Sora blinked. "You're still here." His father was a fisherman who would often be gone for long stretches of time; he'd been set to sail early that morning.

His father nodded. "Looks like the weather report was all wrong. They called for clear skies today, but..." He nodded towards the kitchen window, and it was only then that Sora noticed the dark storm clouds brewing outside. He swallowed.

"Well, I'm off," he said, faking nonchalance.

"This early?" his mother asked, peering at him over her coffee mug.

"Yeah," Sora answered, shifting anxiously from one foot to the other. Roxas was probably waiting for him, and they more they dawdled here, the harder it might be to get to the others... "Riku and Kairi and I were gonna meet up and compare notes for that math test one more time."

"Alright," his mother said doubtfully. "Of course we want you to do well in school, is just one test. Don't worry about it too much. I'm sure you'll do fine, anyway."

Sora looked at the two of them, his father reading the newspaper, coffee cup in one hand. His mother was sipping her coffee, standing by the sink, looking out the kitchen window. Sora swallowed, his mouth suddenly dry. Mickey sure seemed to think he was in an awful lot of danger, but what about Destiny Islands itself? Would their families be alright?

Sora put his hand on the doorknob. "Be careful today," he said over his shoulder. "Y'know, 'cause it looks kind of bad out there."

"You too, son," he heard his father say.

Sora took a deep breath and opened the front door, unsure as to what was waiting for him on the other side.

Roxas had been waiting along the side of the house, beneath Sora's window. "What took you so long?" he asked, falling into stride alongside Sora.

"My parents," Sora mumbled. "I'm worried about them."

Roxas didn't answer. He'd never had parents to worry about, or to worry about him, except for the mother that DiZ had programmed into the virtual Twilight Town, and that didn't count. He could say something like, "Don't worry, they'll be fine," but he had never been one for those sorts of hollow words. So they continued on in silence.

They walked quickly through town, and they were halfway to Riku's house when Sora suddenly let out a panicked yell. "I-I can't move!" he yelled as Roxas turned to look.

Sora was frozen mid-stride, and Roxas only had to look at the ground to see why: there was Sora's shadow, as still as Sora himself, but there was a second shadow joined with Sora's, and this one was twitching and slithering on the ground.

Roxas summoned his Keyblade and blindly slashed at the air above the strange, moving shadow. With an inhuman cry, one of the shadow creatures materialized. Close up, they definitely looked like a cousin of the Shadow Heartless, but without the yellow eyes and somewhat smaller. The blow from Roxas' Keyblade was enough to destroy it, and disappeared into the air.

Sora stumbled out of his frozen position, summoning his own Keyblade as he righted himself. "So they can freeze you with your shadow!?"

"That's gonna be really annoying," Roxas muttered. And it was then that they realized the shadow of every building, tree, and lamppost was pointed directly at the two, and lengthening straight toward them. It was eerie, like being inside a series of time-lapse photographs.

"Now what?" Roxas asked. The clouds were getting darker, and the wind was blowing faster. What was it the king had said last night? These shadow monsters worked better in the dark?

"We make a run for it." But still, Sora was careful not to move right then. If they were going to make a break for it, they were going to have to time it just right if they had any chance of reaching Riku, Kairi, Naminé, and making it to this portal that was supposed to be by Kairi's house.

"Sounds like as good a plan as any," Roxas answered. They glanced at each other, blue meeting blue, and then they were off, tearing down the street.

If they had looked back, they would have seen every shadow seemingly explode and fracture into hundreds of pieces, gliding along the street, the sides of the buildings, and rustling through the trees. The shadows were fast, very fast, and Sora and Roxas' attempt to escape proved fruitless. They were forced to skid to a stop, as shadow creatures surrounded them on all sides, bobbing halfway concealed on the surface of the street and halfway above it, so that Sora and Roxas were surrounded by a dark mass of heads and tentacle-like fingers. It was like a group of sharks circling a meal.

Sora and Roxas stood back to back in the middle of it all, Keyblades both held at the ready. "Not good," Sora said, scanning the area for a weak spot, anything to help them get away.

"I don't think we're gonna make it to the others," Roxas began carefully.

"What!? But we've got to at least try!" Sora protested.

"We did try, and now we're surrounded!" Roxas shot back.

Sora didn't get a chance to answer, because just then the shadows surged towards them, and it was all they could do to keep the creatures at bay.

And as he slashed, dodged, and lunged, Roxas realized they had a strategy: they were trying to separate him and Sora. "We need to get out of here now!"

"Yeah? How!?" Sora shouted back, slashing at one creature, then whirling to take care of one reaching up to brush its long fingers on his legs.

Roxas didn't answer. He had one idea, one possible way he could get them out of there, but he was afraid to try. There were frightening implications, should the method actually work. But the shadows were getting bolder, as one sprang fully out of hiding on the street's surface and seized Roxas' arm. He flung it off with some difficulty and dispatched it quickly, and in the same motion reached out with his other hand. It'd been a while since he'd done this... Visualize where he wanted to go: Twilight Town, yes, that was easy enough to conjure up.

The sound of the power of darkness tunneling from one world to another was unmistakable. Roxas stared in shock for a moment as a Corridor of Darkness bubbled up from the ground in front of him, tendrils of darkness moving like smoke in the open air.

He'd been able to open a Corridor of Darkness, not as a Nobody, but as a regular human? What did that mean?

But there was no time to ponder that. "Sora, come on!" Roxas shouted, moving closer to the portal, still having to fight shadows left and right.

Sora, occupied in his own battles, spared a brief glance in Roxas' direction. "You want to go through that!?" he shouted, upon seeing the Corridor.

"Either that, or be eaten alive by these things!" Roxas shot back. "Sora, let's go!"

Sora didn't like the situation at all. Still fighting through shadows, he made his way toward the portal, where Roxas was waiting. Yet, Sora hesitated, fear seizing him. Were Riku, Kairi, and Naminé faring any better than he and Roxas were? Had the King been able to warn Riku, like he said he would? And what about their families?

But then Roxas grabbed his wrist, stepping into the portal and yanking Sora with him. And the last thing Sora saw of Destiny Islands, as the darkness closed in on him, were hundreds of shadow creatures, lurching toward him in one black mass, in one final attempt to reach their prey as the portal shut them out.