"It's really just in the wrist. See?" Lea demonstrated with a quick movement of his hand. His Keyblade materialized with a bit of flare. Isa rolled his eyes and tried again.
Nothing. He glared at Lea.
"Maybe your heart's just not in it?" Lea smiled smugly and leaned his back against the clock tower wall, the stone warm from the sun.
"Maybe it won't materialize when there's a jackass in the proximity. It's probably worried I might actually do some damage to you if it ever..." Focus. "Comes..." Isa shakes his wrist. "Out..." Nothing again.
After over an hour of the two of them attempting to lure out the mythical weapon soundtracked by Lea’s overbearing pep talks, Isa concedes. They spent a lot of afternoons like this after the Aftermath. Master Yen Sid had said they might need as many wielders as possible to find Sora and bring him back. Lea thought often of how the old Master had suggested that even Isa “try and find a light to guide him”. It was hard enough to remind Isa he still had any light left in him.
“This is ridiculous,” Isa muttered under his breath. He grabbed his coat and headed for the stairwell down, passing Roxas on his way out.
Roxas met Lea and they both took a seat at the ledge. "What? He can't get it up?"
Lea choked, "Har, har. Very funny."
"I HEARD THAT," Isa called back. They both ignored him.
"Maybe if you piss him off enough, we can just berserk it out of him?" Lea shrugged.
Roxas turned to his friend, his features on his face wide and gapping as he dramatically placed a hand to his chest. "You really want me to be the one to cause him to berserk? I thought you spent all that time trying to get me back and now you want to send me to my death? That easily?" Roxas' eyes fell into a narrow glare, cutting daggers into Lea.
"I didn't mean it like that! I just meant that there must be some way to get it out of him. Besides,” Lea waved his hand in the air. “I’ve seen you fight. He’s hardly a threat.”
Roxas seemed to ignore the compliment. "Maybe he's just not cut out to be a wielder. Not EVERYONE can have a Keyblade... right?"
"They gave me one. I'm not exactly what you'd call prime Keyblade Master material."
"I thought you were the one bragging about becoming the next hotshot." Roxas' face is wide with a grin as he jabs Lea in the ribs with his elbow and Lea can’t help but feel - a lot. Had he always felt this elated when spending his time with his friend? He certainly had missed this sort of time alone with Roxas, but ever since the big move to Twilight Town and trying to find their new normal, they had yet to spend some quality one-on-one together.
"Well, I mean. I'm already a hotshot. You know that." Lea cocked his head to Roxas and winked at him, paying no mind to the blush creeping up to Roxas' ears.
"I know you're a piece of shit. And you should be trying a bit harder to help your best friend get his Keyblade going." Roxas' mouth twitched and he looked out towards the city. The elation in Lea dissipated. He figured finding normal would come with some minor bumps along the way but talking about Isa with Roxas was a steep hill to climb.
Lea turned to say something to ease the tension, but their time alone was cut short as Isa made his way back up the final steps of the tower, ice cream in hand.
"Aw, how sweet. One for me, even?" Roxas humoured.
"And leave Lea with just one? Don't be absurd." Isa said, handing two of the popsicles to Lea.
"Don't be an ass, Isa." Lea sighed as he handed the second to Roxas.
Isa sat with them on the ledge and took a bite out of his ice cream before he turned to Lea and said, “you have your Keyblade already. If you're such a pro, tell me what it is that helps you achieve yours."
"Uh well..." Lea instinctively scratches the back of his head. "That's a trade secret, isn't it?"
"UhhhhHHHhhh..." Roxas mockingly mimicked, "No it's not. Dish, hotshot." A feverish smile crept up on Roxas' face and he exchanged glances between Isa and Lea before taking a bite down on his treat.
"Well,” Lea adjusted himself on the ledge. “ I guess it's my friends. I worked hard to get them back. And I just wanted to have everyone home again." Lea paused. "Everyone." He tips his ice cream at Isa in recognition. Isa nods and smiles softly.
"Laaaaaame." Roxas voiced his discontent loudly. "I materialize mine because I'm always ready to kick some ass." Finishing off his ice cream, he laid back and chewed on the stick.
Isa scoffed loudly. "Sounds more like a fall from grace rather than something someone worthy of the title Guardian of Light might say."
Roxas propped himself up and looked at Isa intensely. "Big talk coming from one of Xehanort’s clones." Lea held his breath. He knew that tone from Roxas. He was ready to fight.
"You don't know what it was like," Isa spoke with quiet intensity. Roxas laid back down with his hands behind his head and shut his eyes.
"What what was like?” He spoke playfully. “Stabbing your best friend in the back?" Roxas spat back.
"Hey, Rox," Lea warned.
Isa was up on his feet and fuming. Lea almost half expected him to berserk right there but, instead, Isa took one long look at Roxas as if to say something, turned on his heel, and left again.
Roxas looked up at his half-chewed stick, the WINNER on it almost completely worn off.
Lea stood up in shock. "Hey, Roxas? What the fuck?"
"Weren't you the one who wanted to get a rise out of him?" Roxas didn't raise his eyes to meet Lea's. "Whatever, I'm getting out of here.” Roxas sat up and kicked himself up. “See you back at the house."
Lea stood alone for a few minutes before uttering a quiet shit under his breath and went out to find Isa.
He found Isa sitting on a broken pillar outside of the mansion. He was clearly trying to materialize his Keyblade again, and seemingly more and more agitated with every failed attempt.
Isa stood up as if taken by surprise.
"What, no entourage of Masters to throw idle humor my way?"
Lea had known Isa to be formidable when aggravated, but pouting? Was that what he was doing?
"Isa, look. It can't be easy for everyone. And you know how Roxas is. He's not sunshine and happy-times like Sora is. Even Ansem the Wise could tell when Sora would bark, it was all Roxas's bite. I can't blame him either." Lea leaned up against a pillar in the courtyard with his hands behind his head. "I sure did a number on him when we were all in the Organization.” Isa didn't say anything, so Lea continued. "I know you're nothing like that anymore. I know the Isa I knew is the Isa I have here. One day, they'll see that too. Promise." Lea did his best to put on a brave face, but if the look plastered across Isa's was any indication, he wasn't going to enjoy this next bit very much.
"I'm moving to Radiant Garden."
"Even and Ienzo have invited me to assist in their research. If we're ever going to get any closer to finding who she is or where she went, then my efforts will be best suited serving them at the castle."
"But Isa..." Lea started.
"Let me finish." Lea held his words and waited for Isa to continue. "I know you have hopes that I'll find some sort of light here, but I'm no Guardian. I need to find out where I belong in this world, and the only familiar things I have now are you and that castle."
"Let me come with you." Lea blurted out. He hadn't quite thought about what that would mean for him, to move to Radiant Garden and leave Roxas and Xion here in Twilight Town. He just couldn't bear to think of Isa being alone again. It clouded his mind.
"Lea..." Isa said, softly. Isa was close to him now, a hand pressed against his chest. "Your light is here."
It was something unspoken between them.
Isa exhausted a breath, almost as if he had forgotten how to breathe. He removed himself from the closeness he had created.
"Besides," Isa continued, "You have a gummiship and that god awful phone. I'm only a short distance away." Isa chuckled.
"I'll make sure to visit."
"I hope you do. I won't be able to find her alone."
"You won't have to. I promise."A pause hung in the air as the wind swept through the trees around the vacant lot.
"You're not alone anymore, Isa. You'll always have us. Sora, Roxas... all of them. And you're always gonna have me."
Isa let out a jovial sigh and smiled. "I'm aware of that. I've tried time and time again to get rid of you and you just keep coming back."
Lea was happy to see him smile again. He wished he could fill his phone with pictures of that smile. Everyone better than the last. Lea returned the smile.
"I think you'd better talk to Roxas," Isa said.
"Yeah... I'm sorry about him. I think I know what's going on."
"Maybe if you stopped flirting with other guys, he wouldn't get so riled up." He said, flippantly.
"Hey! That has nothing to do with it!"
Isa shrugged his shoulders and began to walk towards the town again. Lea followed.
"Allow me to buy you some more sea salt ice cream to bring to him as an apology. It's the least I could do."
Lea found Roxas in his room, texting ferociously on his phone. I wonder what that's about. Lea thought.
"Knock, knock," Lea said as he rapped his knuckles on the door.
"You know, you don't have to say "knock knock" when you also, you know, knock." Roxas didn't look up from his phone, but his words were like venom.
"Right." Lea let himself in. "Uh."
Roxas sighed heavily.
"Look, Ax-" Roxas paused. "Lea." He said the name coolly, almost as if to mock. Lea had to laugh. Roxas looked at him quizzically, stopping his train of thought. "What?"
"You can call me Axel. If you want."
Roxas didn't miss a beat. "I do want."
"As you were saying."
"Right. Look, Axel." A small smile crept to the corner of Roxas' mouth as he said it. He tried quickly to suppress it, but it struck Lea in the heart far faster than it could dissipate. Lea tried to focus on what Roxas was trying to tell him. "I know Isa is the most important person to you. And I'm really happy for you both and whatever..."
Lea stopped him.
"I never said he was the most important."
Roxas looked as if he was trying to find the words to say.
"Isa is one of my closest and oldest friends and I am beyond happy to have him safe and sound, don't get me wrong. But..." Lea found his hand scratching the back of his head again. "You..." The felt the heat rise from the back of his neck to his cheeks. "And Xion! I- I mean..." He was stammering.
"Smooth, Axel. Real smooth."
Lea mustered the courage to look at Roxas to see him smiling again, the angry facade fading.
"Isa knows where we stand." Lea paused. "He's going back to Radiant Garden to work with Ienzo and Even." He didn't elaborate.
"Oh," was all Roxas could say.
"Please try not to give him such a hard time about," Lea gestured openly with his hands, "everything." He wasn't exactly sure where to start. "He's really trying. And he means well."
Roxas was up and standing by Lea."I'll take your word for it." Roxas looked at Lea's hands, seeing the ice cream melting in their package. "You forget about something?"
"Oh, shit! These were supposed to be for you. Here." He handed the half-melted ice cream over.
"Way to go." Roxas harps as he opens the packaging for them, offering Lea the other.
They sat on Roxas’ bed and ate their ice cream in silence, both of them closely eyeing the other.
"Are you sure it's okay that I call you Axel?"
Lea thinks for a moment before he responds.
"Yes," he says simply. "But it's a special privilege, so don't wear it out!"
"I just thought, y’know, you wanted it memorized?" A full smile breaks across Roxas' face.
"Isn’t anyone gonna let that go?"
Roxas rolled his eyes as hard as he could. "You only said it about a bajillion times, I think I'm allowed to throw it back once or twice."
"Fine, Lea for you it is."
"Nooooo, come on, Axel. Please."
"Sorry, who? I don't know anyone by that name." Roxas threw a punch at his shoulder.
The both of them laugh wholeheartedly. Lea can't help but take in every sound Roxas makes. If he wanted to save a picture of every smile Isa had, then he wanted a lifetime of being able to hear Roxas laugh.
He hadn't realized that Roxas was sitting quite close to him now. He looked down at him. In that moment, he looked smaller than usual.
"What helps you materialize your Keyblade really?" Roxas asked quietly and almost seemed to coil into Lea as he did.
"I think you know," Lea said. He bit the inside of his cheek, hoping he didn't have to say it.
"I want to hear you say it," Roxas said, almost as if he knew.
"Lea! Roxas! I’m home! I’ve got ice cream!" They both jumped as they heard the door slam shut. Xion’s voice rang throughout the house which had seemed unearthly silent just moments ago.
Lea and Roxas both sighed heavily - for more reasons than one.
“I will make you say it.”
Roxas had gotten up from the bed and stood at the door.
Lea had almost forgotten where he was altogether. He shook himself back to reality, got up, and said, “is that so?”
They met at the doorway.
“Axel,” he started and a smile curled onto his lips, “even if I have to drag it out of you.” Roxas went in close, blue eyes fixed on green. Lea felt his back press up against the door frame. “Kicking and screaming.”
Lea swallowed hard. His head felt hot and heavy. Roxas tugged playfully at Lea’s shirt before heading downstairs to meet Xion.
Lea stood dumbfounded in the doorway entirely sure of one thing. Something was certainly unspoken.
“You coming down, hotshot?” he heard Roxas call back.
But as he had learned, you didn’t need words to get you through the darkness.