Awright so. I'm behind. I know. But we're getting a lot of new information and I haven't figured out how to process it all just yet, to say nothing of how dead my muse has been lately, so I'm kinda working with whatever sparks I got to try to start a fire. Which is where the redhead comes in.

Spoiler Warning: Characters involved are not Saix and Axel but their actual others with their official names and one or two descriptions as they are actually depicted in the latest scans from BBS, so if you don't wanna know about that, it's GO time, and by that I mean GTFO time. Everything else is my approximation of their younger personalities, but intertwined as best friends because that's what the series is implying Lea and Isa were.


"Christmas sucks here."

That statement drew Isa's eyes, as Lea probably knew it would. The boy knew how to get his best friend's attention when he wanted it, but if the quick flicker of jade away from Isa's emerald was any indication, Lea was avoiding the subject as best he could. Certain things just had a tendency to come up whether he wanted them to or not.

So Isa considered the crumpled, lanky figure of his best friend against the railing, finger lazily balancing that battered old Frisbee, and knew not to be hurt. "Is that because you're at the age now where you get clothes instead of toys?"

A bitter chuckle, and Lea tugged lightly at the sinfully designed scarf tied around his neck like it was choking him. "Guess you noticed this."

"It looks like you threw up on a rag and it decided to hug you."

Lea's laugh wasn't real then either, and Isa's eyes returned searchingly to his. "Ma gave it to me. Can you believe that crap? After I blew my savings on that stupid jewelry box." His eyes grew sober and wandered to the scarf itself, soft yellow strands tickling numbly just under his ribcage. His gaze was still avoiding Isa's. "I know. It's ugly, right?"

"Why are you wearing it?"

Lea didn't answer that.

The taller of the two shifted his weight, content to let the silence stretch for a moment even though he wanted to switch gears. It was Christmas, and Isa knew about Lea's situation, which was exactly why he wanted to take him away from all that just for a day. Just for one day in the snow that Lea hated, with a pair of cold-reddened faces wet with ice and snowballs flying and breathless shouts and Isa, you cheater! when Isa knew that Lea was cheating too, and more.

"She's not getting any better."

Isa's heart sank.

Now the silence was a gaping hole between them that nothing would fill. Nothing Isa could say now would ease the pain there, and Lea was asking for just that—nothing. Except he was also, silently, begging for everything. Just not from Isa. But it still killed his best friend that Isa couldn't give it to him.

The blue-haired boy shifted. "I got you something."

For an instant the pain was still in Lea's eyes when he looked up, but then it drained away into deer-in-headlights surprise and finally a not-quite-pouty resistance. "Hey—no, c'mon. We talked about this. No presents."

Isa rolled his eyes and nodded. He knew Lea didn't like the idea of being indebted, so the agreement was that Christmastime rolled around and Lea concentrated on scraping together money for his family's gifts and Isa politely abstained, but Lea was sure to celebrate Isa's birthday with some sort of offering and Isa was free to observe Lea's. "I know. But I'm tired of seeing you with that old thing."

Lea had just enough time to frown before Isa was seizing his Frisbee out of his hand and throwing it with a powerful, if negligent, swing; this time not to make a return trip but to get clear out of Radiant Garden if it could. The redhead whirled with a shout of alarm as it whizzed out of sight and got thoroughly lost somewhere in the distance, seizing the railing and leaning half over it with his elbows up in the air like the forelegs of a cat. "Isa! What the hell, man—!"

"Here."

The minute Lea turned he found the replacement pressed almost against his chest. For a moment he paused, stiffening like he expected to be hit with it—which wasn't a bad assumption around Isa—and then his hands found it gingerly, practically catching it when the blue-haired boy let go. Fingers traced the black border, eyes memorized the whimsical fiery logo, and a lopsided grin tugged at Lea's lips. "Wh…you didn't…"

"Yeah I did. It was made for you."

The grin flickered, and maybe it was Isa's imagination or maybe a tremor went through Lea's skinny frame. "I dunno what to say."

It was too late for that. Isa would never admit it even under the worst torture imaginable, but seeing the slow, inevitable curl of his best friend's lips like that had struck up a warmth in his chest like a fire in the cold. "Then don't say anything," he said a little softer than he really meant to. Lea glanced up hastily to look for a sign of offense taken, but Isa knew he was smiling—a thin, pale smile on a thin, pale boy, but a smile nonetheless—and didn't mind that he was. "And don't hug me," he added, both because the words before had been so weak-sounding and because Lea was looking like he just might.

Jade eyes glittered mischievously at that, but Lea didn't follow through. Instead he turned and whipped the Frisbee through the air and caught it, making a slight hiss when one of the points nailed him in the hand the wrong way. "That's new…"

"I'm not helping you look for the old one."

"Me neither. It's beautiful." Lea's gaze raked over the surface again adoringly, but also analytically. "You know I like to play with fire. I don't mind getting burned." The wry smile he turned on Isa quickly grew heartfelt. "…Thanks, man."

"Now you owe me."

Lea's face fell.

Isa smirked like a demon.

"You gotta be kidding."

"Of course I'm kidding. But the look on your face was worth it."

"You're a dick, Isa."

Isa let that one go because he was watching Lea twirl the Frisbee, already adjusting to its unusual shape. "Does Christmas still suck?" he asked after a minute.

"Huh?"

"You said Christmas sucks here."

"Oh." Twirl twirl twirl. "Yeah. Christmas still sucks."

Isa rolled his eyes.

"Just not here."

"No?"

Lea smirked this time, eyes twinkling. "Nah. You're here."