No Need To Hide
A Kingdom Hearts fanfic by Raberba girl
Summary: Eight-year-old Isa has always hated Christmas Eve. Thanks to Lea, that's about to change.
A/N: I'm not sure how odd Isa's mother's nickname for him might sound to a native Japanese speaker... *wince*
"NO! Why did you do that? I don't want Lea to spend the night!"
His mother stared at him in astonishment. "Saa-chan, what in the world are you talking about? Lea is your best friend! You love having him come over."
"But it's Christmas Eve!" Isa yelled back.
She blinked. "Then this should be even more fun than usual, right?"
"No! No! He'll make fun of me! And I can't, anyway! Call his mom and tell him he can't come."
"Isa! I'm not going to do that," she exclaimed reproachfully.
He shifted restlessly in agitation. "I'm sick. If Lea comes over, he'll catch all my germs, so he can't come." Isa coughed violently for good measure.
His mother rolled her eyes. "Saa-chan, you're being ridiculous." Seeing how upset he looked, her face softened, and she crouched down to take his hands. "Sweetheart, you're going to have a wonderful time together like you always do. We're going to play games and make cookies and watch movies, and tomorrow morning you'll get to open all the presents that Santa will leave for yo-"
The doorbell rang.
"Oh! Look, that must be Lea."
"Tell him he has to go away!" Isa cried frantically.
"Isa! That's enough!"
He broke away from her and ran upstairs. Sighing, Mrs. Tsukino went to answer the door. "Lea! Hello, darling. Did your mother drop you off?"
"Nah," the red-haired boy said nonchalantly, sauntering into the house with his hands in his pockets. "I'm not a baby, I walked over by myself."
"I see. Well, come in, dear, and take off your coat and shoes. Saa-chan is...well, he's upstairs," she said, fumbling a little.
Lea gave her a curious look, then shrugged and headed for his friend's room.
The door was stuck. "Isa?" Lea called, yanking at the knob and then shoving hard at the door. It felt like there was something heavy blocking it.
"Go away!" came a muffled voice from inside.
Lea blinked. "What?" He kicked at the door. "Seriously, Isa, open up."
"No! I don't want you here! Go back home, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Isa, are you crazy? It's me! Lea! Remember, your best friend? I came over for Christmas."
There was a clattering sound. "You didn't come for CHRISTMAS," Isa's voice snarled through the door. "I wanted you for CHRISTMAS. Not Christmas EVE. Go a-way! I hate you!"
Lea gaped at the door for a minute. Then he kicked it again and yelled, "Fine! I hate you, too!" He stormed downstairs with the vague intention of stomping back home again, but Isa's mom quickly intercepted him.
"Lea, honey? Sweetheart, I'm so sorry, Saa-chan, ah, told me he was feeling sick earlier, I should have listened... Come on, sweetie, do you want to help me bake some cookies?"
"I'm not a girl! Girls bake cookies!"
"Hmmmm, well, what if I said that the only cookies you can eat are the cookies you actually make yourself?"
Lea paused. Well, it wasn't like Kadaj and the other guys from school could see. And if he stayed to make cookies, then he wouldn't have to walk back out into the cold and trudge home and deal with his mother's nosiness and his sisters' teasing or the fact that his best friend hated him... "You better have a LOT of cookie dough, then," he said. "'Cuz I'm gonna eat a ton."
It was a lot more fun than he expected, baking cookies with Isa's mom as Christmas music played in the background and they both got smeared with flour and icing. To his delight, she had watched enough Power Rangers episodes with Isa to be able to discuss the subject intelligently, which the two of them did with great enthusiasm for the next hour or two.
Lea, in a much better mood after putting the cookies in the oven, washed up and then went to see if Isa was still being dumb. "Isa?" No answer. "Hey...we made a bunch of cookies without you. You can only eat the ones you made, so OOPS, guess you don't get any, heh."
Still nothing. Lea tried the door again, but whatever Isa had pulled in front of it will still there. "Man, Isa! Stop being stupid! I didn't come all the way over here just to play with your mom!"
Unfortunately, that was exactly what he ended up doing. They played Disney Monopoly until it got too pointless to continue, then Scrabble until he declared it boring after realizing how much better at it she was than him. Then they put together a couple of puzzles, and by the time Lea went up to pound on Isa's door again and returned to the living room with unsatisfactory results, Isa's mom had started a Christmas movie which caught his interest.
Eleven o'clock in the evening, and both of them were yawning. Lea let himself be hugged by Isa's mom. "Sweetheart," she said sadly as she watched him put his shoes on, "you're still welcome to spend the night, if you like."
"Nah," he mumbled. "I'm fine. I didn't wanna spend the night, anyway."
"All right...well, it was wonderful to have you over. I hope we get to see you and your family tomorrow."
"Yeah, prob'ly." He stood up and rubbed the back of his head self-consciously. "Thanks for the cookies and everything, it was really fun."
"It was, wasn't it," she said with a smile, though she still looked sad.
Lea walked out into the chill night, hearing Isa's mom shut the door behind him. He wrapped his arms around himself, though not because of the weather. For a minute, he started down the sidewalk, heading for home - but then he paused, glancing up at Isa's bedroom window. A determined look came over his face.
Isa drew the blankets tighter around himself, feeling like he was drowning in misery. His mom could be so stupid sometimes. Lea had been here, he had listened to Lea and his mom moving around the house all evening, and now Lea hated him and even tomorrow when it was over, Lea would still be mad at him and then it would go back to like it was before, no friends and no one to eat with at lunch and people picking on him because-
There was a clatter at the window. Isa felt a surge of terror, and bit down hard on his own wrist to keep himself from crying out. He curled up as small as he could and wished he could disappear. It was happening...it was really happening...all the other years, nothing had actually happened, unless you counted the little bits of evidence he had found afterwards and, of course, the presents on Christmas morning. But now...there he was at the window, he was climbing inside, he wasn't satisfied anymore with just invading the house, now he was probably mad and coming after him instead of the house and he knew, he knew every single bad thing that Isa had ever done and he was gonna-
The closet door was flung open. This was it.
"...What the heck are you doing?"
The voice was so unexpected that it took a long moment for Isa to register whose it was. He peeked out from under the blankets. "L...Lea?"
"Why are you hiding in the closet?"
"Is Santa out there?" Isa whispered.
"What? No, you moron. Santa doesn't come 'til you're asleep."
Isa burrowed deep into the blankets again.
"Isa, why are you sleeping in your closet?" Lea asked in disbelief.
"I'm not sleeping!" Isa shouted. "If I don't fall asleep this time, then maybe he'll never come!"
"What are you talking about?"
Completely baffled, Lea crouched down and stared at the mound of blankets for a while. Then he poked at them. "Isa?"
Lea sat on the floor and crossed his legs comfortably. "Isa. Geez. You're actually afraid of Santa Claus, aren't you."
"...He sees you when you're sleeping," Isa's mumble came from within the blankets, barely distinguishable. "He knows when you're awake. He watches you all year long, he knows everything you do, and on Christmas Eve he comes and breaks into your house and...and..."
Lea raised an eyebrow, a trick he had recently mastered and was quite proud of. "And leaves presents for you?"
There was no answer. After a long time, Lea finally reached over and tugged the blankets away from Isa's face. "Are you crying?"
Isa yanked the blankets back down again, but not in time.
Lea burst into laughter. "Isa, you're such a moron."
"Shut up! I hate you!" Isa screamed. "I knew you were going to laugh at me, I knew you were going to laugh at me, I knew it I knew it I knew it and I hate you and I never want to see you and your stupid face again."
Lea felt a strange, squirmy feeling in his chest. "I...Isa," he said slowly. His face was hot, though he was not sure why. "Isa, I'm - sorry. Look, I'm not laughing anymore." He grinned a little. "You know what, you're right, Santa really is a creeper." Then he laughed. "Dude. I never thought of it like that. But you're totally right, Santa's like some sort of psychotic stalker!"
He laughed some more, then abruptly stopped. "Wait, no, I didn't mean it, seriously, I'm not laughing anymore." He was surprised to find that Isa was looking at him again, those liquid green eyes visible within the shadows of the blankets. "Hey...Isa? Kad- I mean, someone told me something the other day. I got mad and punched him in the face, but...you know what, he was right."
"Look, Isa. Santa's not real." It hurt to say it, but not nearly as much as he expected. If anything, he even felt a little happy that this might mean something good to his best friend.
Isa stared at him. "What?"
"Santa Claus is fake," Lea said confidently. "Grown-ups just made him up to scare us kids into being good the rest of the year. There's no fat jolly guy in a red coat gonna come down your chimney, ever."
There was a pause. Then Isa slowly sat up, shedding blankets like a bear coming out of hibernation. He stared at the floor, his eyes growing wide.
"Hey," Lea said, a little resentfully, "if you'd known there was no Santa, would you have played with me today when I came over?"
"Yeah," Isa whispered. His eyes slowly filled with tears again. "I missed you."
"Cut it out, you sound like a girl."
Isa rubbed hard at his eyes. "I want cookies," he said fiercely. "I'm gonna make cookies, because I want to eat them, with you."
Lea smiled. "Nah, don't bother. You can just have the leftover ones, I won't tell your mom."
At last, Isa looked directly at him, and managed a weak smile in return.
"C'mon. Let's go to the living room and get the Monopoly board out again, and we can sleep in there and prove there's no Santa Claus."
Isa shook his head, gritting his teeth. "No. I'm not gonna sleep in the living room, not on Christmas Eve."
"Isa, don't be a chicken, I told you there's no Santa. And besides, even if he does come bustin' in, I'll just hit him with my Frisbees and he'll have to leave."
Isa hesitated for a long time. "Okay," he finally said. Lea grinned at him, and they went downstairs together.
Seven years later:
Fresh from his first solo mission, Saïx came storming out of a dark corridor, into the Grey Area where Axel was lounging on one of the couches with a video game.
"Hey, Sai, you're back! How was Halloween Tow-?"
Saïx seized him by the neck and shook him with each word. "You - told - me - he - wasn't - real."
"Can't breathe," Axel managed.
Saïx hurled him back onto the couch. "Halloween Town was only where the portal led to. My actual mission was in Christmas Town. Which is inhabited by toy-making elves and a certain hulking, easily-amused, white-bearded elderly man with highly disturbing hobbies."
Axel's mouth dropped open. "Flaming pants, are you serious?"
"Just be glad I don't have a heart to have gotten freaked out with back there," Saïx hissed, "or you would be dead right now." He whirled and stalked away.
Axel lay there for a minute, frozen. Then he leaped to his feet. "Vexen!" he yelled delightedly, dashing off in search of the castle's main mission-organizer. "Vexen! He's real! I call dibs on the next Halloween Town mission!"
Author's Notes: Saïx gave me this tidbit of backstory during Roses & Kittens (the sequel to Raindrops & Whiskers), so of course I had to actually write it out.
In this fic, Santa Claus only visits houses in the Christmas Town universe (and I guess Destiny Islands, too).
Dang it, I've developed a bad habit of writing Saïx/Isa like a girl way too often. DX