You kidding? Do you know how popular I am? I got loads of people rootin' for me. Sorry, boss. No one axes Axel. Got it memorized?
Lea to Xemnas
Lea is the original persona of Axel and a close friend of Isa, Saïx's original persona. He appears in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix, as a teenager alongside Isa. After the destruction of Lea's Heartless and Axel, Lea was able to reform, having aged to appear nearly identical to his Nobody self. He would later train to become a Keyblade wielder alongside Kairi, and would become a member of the Seven Guardians of Light.
In Birth by Sleep, Lea is both childish and competitive, willing to disrupt Isa's schedule for his fight with Ventus. This is also evident during the ending credits when he is seen trying to escape from Dilan's grasp by flailing around his limbs, unlike Isa, who realized they couldn't escape and barely moved.
He wishes for everyone he ever meets to remember him, so he can live on forever through people's memories. Like his Nobody, he uses the phrase "Got it memorized?" on multiple occasions.
In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Lea retains his memories of his time as Axel and acts similarly to the way he did in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days and Kingdom Hearts II, being just as cocky and competitive as his Nobody. At the same time, he remains fundamentally loyal to his friends and any promise he makes to them, considering loyalty and his devotion as his highest priorities and is willing to boldly confront Xehanort in order to save Sora (and by extension, Roxas) from becoming one of Xehanort's vessels, stating that he had "promises to keep" and that he would always be there to get his friends back, the same speech that he had said to Xion in 358/2 Days. As a running gag, Lea gets slightly annoyed whenever he is referred to as "Axel" by those who are more familiar with his Nobody incarnation but over time he decides to accept being called Axel.
Having been best friends with Isa, even though such relationship was deeply strained after they became Nobodies due to Isa changing deeply, with the remnants of their old bond at the time terminated, albeit not without some conflict on Axel's part, by his friendship with Roxas and Xion, after being revived, Lea displays his capacity for kindness and empathy and good heart by forgiving their old grievances seemingly without problems, looking for him when he disappeared and looking unwilling to fight him after he is revealed to be a Seeker of Darkness. He appears to feel responsible and blames himself for how his former friend had fallen because of him abandoning him just for Roxas and Xion, displaying he does not believe in favoritism and felt sincere regret for not trying harder to reach out to what remained to Isa inside Saïx, and still considers him a dear friend to the end, vowing to bring him back to the light like with both Roxas and Xion, trying his best to reason with him when they finally fought and expressing nothing but sympathy for his old friend's plight as he died.
In Birth by Sleep, Lea looks about the same age as Ventus, with short spiked hair with the spikes styled upward. Lea has a slight widow's peak though more noticeable. Lea's eyes are also more of a turquoise color than Axel's striking green. He wears a sleeveless orange jacket with a white, sleeveless shirt underneath, and tan, baggy pants with red and white sneakers and black socks. The pockets of his jacket are a much darker shade of orange than the rest of it. He lacks Axel's purple, upside-down teardrop facial marks in the actual game, but curiously they are present in his official artwork.
He also wears a yellow and brown keffiyeh around his neck. The pattern of this keffiyeh changes abruptly near Lea's neck, from stripes to a very organized checkerboard pattern. Similar to Braig's scarf, the tip of Lea's keffiyeh is frayed slightly. He bears a curious resemblance to Hayner.
In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, other than missing the teardrop facial marks, Lea is identical to his Nobody, Axel, donning a Black Coat and wielding the Eternal Flames, and later, a Keyblade known as the Flame Liberator.
At the end of Kingdom Hearts III, Lea is seen wearing a black hooded vest with a dark grey short sleeved plaid shirt underneath. He also has black jeans and short boots that have two inch heels.
While Ventus is in the Radiant Garden, Lea walks by, picking up the Wooden Keyblade that Ventus had dropped on the ground. He asks Ventus if it's his. When Ventus responds that it is, Lea says it's cute how he still plays with wooden swords despite his age, and takes out his Frisbees. The two introduce themselves, and then Lea calls for a one-on-one fight, finally prompting a smile from Ventus.
After the battle, Lea calls Isa out for not trying to make up excuses for his loss and cheer him up, causing him, Ventus, and Isa to laugh. He then tells Ventus that they'll meet again someday since they are now friends. After that, Lea tells Isa of how he wants everyone he meets to remember him, that way, he'll become immortal through their memories, though Isa jokes that Lea will be immortal for being obnoxious. The two walk off and look up at the castle, apparently 'ready.' For what it is they are ready for is never actually specified.
Sometime after Terra-Xehanort is defeated, Lea and Isa's plan is revealed, as both were seen being thrown out of the castle by Dilan with Aeleus looking on nearby. In the next scene, Lea buys sea-salt ice cream from Scrooge McDuck and gives one to Isa as they stare up into the sky.
Lea's and Ventus's newfound friendship makes many possible references to the subsequent friendship between Axel and Roxas.
Between Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
At some point, Lea broke into Ansem the Wise's castle again with Isa, unfortunately making his way to the computer room, where the no-longer-amnesiac Xehanort was unlocking the hearts of others for his plan to gather twelve empty vessels to house fragments of his heart. Lea had his heart removed, leading to the creation of his Nobody, whom Xehanort's Nobody, Xemnas, named Axel. Axel joined the ranks of the Organization as Number VIII alongside Saïx, the two having formulated a plan to regain their lost hearts. But traces of Lea within Axel influenced him into befriending Roxas due to the youth's resemblance to Ventus. This resulted in a chain of events that ended Axel's friendship with Saïx as he eventually left the Organization and later sacrificed himself to protect Roxas after he had long merged back into Sora.
Sometime after Axel's sacrifice, with his Heartless counterpart defeated at an unknown time, Lea has a dream of Roxas reminding him that he promised to always bring them (himself and Xion) back before coming to in Ansem's computer room in Radiant Garden. Lea wonders what happened to him before noticing his reflection in the window facing the Heartless Manufactory and realizing he is a complete being again due to lacking the marks below his eyes he had as Axel. Also realizing that Dilan, Even, Aeleus, and Ienzo are also normal again, Lea notices that aside from Xehanort, both Braig and Isa are missing.
Later, Lea talks with Aeleus and Ienzo in Ansem's study after searching the castle for the other revived members of the Organization. Ienzo, who is surprisingly not angry with Lea for using the Riku Replica to kill him as Zexion, says that the others could have awakened in other worlds between the realms of light and darkness, like Traverse Town. Reading Ansem the Wise's notes about the Door to Darkness, Lea says he will go look for them, stating how he dislikes "always being stuck with the icky jobs."
From within a Corridor of Darkness, Lea saves Mickey and Minnie from Maleficent and Pete with his Chakrams in Disney Castle. After Pete and Maleficent leave, he proceeds to introduce himself, saying "My name is...Lea" along with his trademark "Got it Memorized?" In the Mysterious Tower, Lea meets with Yen Sid and asks to undergo the training to become a Keyblade Wielder, regardless of the latter warning him of the dangers that might befall him. In a special area where time flows differently, Lea undergoes hastened training with help from Merlin and the Three Good Fairies. Later in Where Nothing Gathers, though unable to utilize a Keyblade at the time, Lea shows up just in time to save a comatose Sora from Master Xehanort's attempt to convert the youth into his final vessel. After answering Braig that he made a promise to Roxas and "would always be there to bring him back," Lea finds himself in a brief confrontation with his ex-best friend, Isa, seeing he's been turned into one of the twelve vessels for Master Xehanort. Tired of having to constantly correct everyone who calls him Axel, Lea finally gives up when Riku calls him by the name of his Nobody, being fine with either name.
Back in the Mysterious Tower, Riku decides to go into Sora's heart to awaken him, and Lea says he will help Riku should he fall into the darkness again. After Yen Sid announces that Riku and the awakened Sora have respectively passed and failed the Mark of Mastery Exam, Lea claims that he will catch up to Riku soon while revealing to them his intent to use a Keyblade. Trying to manifest it once more, Lea is astonished when his Keyblade appears, shocking everyone else as well. Soon after, Lea departs to check on things at Radiant Garden.
Lea is continuing his training with Kairi in a place Merlin created, the Secret Forest. There, time doesn't exist so they can take as much time as they need for training. When Kairi is writing a letter to Sora (she explains it's more for herself), he surprises her with sea-salt ice cream to celebrate them summoning Keyblades. Kairi notices him staring at her and asks if he is still trying to remember something, which he admits. She tries to change the topic by expressing excitement for their duel in the ring, while telling Lea to not hold back he briefly remembers Xion. Overwhelmed by seeing Xion in front of him, he starts to grieve and Kairi attempts to comfort him. He tries to wipe away his tears and tell her it is nothing. Before leaving, Kairi asks him to stop apologizing for kidnapping her, which he agrees to on the condition that she calls him "Axel" for now on.
Later on, while Lea is watching the sunset, Kairi shows off her new haircut and dress. He got a new outfit as well, but isn't too interested. Then, Kairi explains the desire to free Naminé, a similar case he shares with Roxas. He mentions to her about meeting Ventus when he was a kid and how they became fast friends, but never saw him again. Over the years, he almost forgot Ventus until Roxas joined Organization XIII since the two were identical. Roxas was never told, because he didn't want Roxas to disappear as well. Lea is concerned that Ventus might not remember him, but Kairi gives reassurance as their training reaches an end.
At Yen Sid's Tower, all of the Seven Guardians of Light (Lea included) meet up as well as Donald and Goofy to catch up. It appears he wants to become a Keyblade Master since he tried to tell Yen Sid, but got interrupted. He attempts to receive attention from his allies, but gets ignored. Surrounding him are people discussing their connections and he claims "This is an insane amount to get memorized." Ventus apologized for the long story, surprising everyone of his and Lea's friendship. After one more surprise, meeting Jiminy Cricket for the first time, he devotes himself to rescue Roxas.
In Twilight Town, he is sitting on the clock tower eating sea-salt ice cream while holding two more (one for Roxas and one for Xion). He regrets being unable to bring Roxas back, but then Saïx appears through the darkness. Saïx invites himself saying he isn't there to fight and takes an ice cream. When being asked why he bought three Lea was unable to respond. Saïx starts reminiscing when they were apprentices under Ansem the Wise in Radiant Garden to rescue a girl. He blames Lea for giving up, though Lea argues against it, because he assisted Saïx in climbing up ranks to get closer to Xehanort to find out what happened to her. Even though Saïx believes that she and Roxas are gone forever, Lea promises he will get all his friends back, including him. Saïx notices Lea's upside-down tear markings are missing, which have stopped him from crying. Lea then scoffs and claims he doesn't need them anymore. Before Saïx disappears, Lea guarantees beating him the next day during the final battle.
The seven guardians of light as well as Donald and Goofy gathered at the Keyblade Graveyard to battle Xehanort and his thirteen vessels. After fighting thousands of Heartless, Dusks, and Unversed they were overpowered by Terra Xehanort. When Kairi was about to be attacked by Terra Xehanort, Lea threw himself between them and ended up unconscious then Kairi and Riku tended to him. However, a huge tide of Heartless swallows the group and a Heartless steal their hearts. Fortunately, Sora manages to rescue everyone's hearts with the Power of Waking and they soon return to the Keyblade Graveyard. But they are soon surrounded by a major swarm of Heartless again, which Master Yen Sid appears and opens up a path so they can finish off Xehanort.
Lea and Kairi fight together against Saïx and a hooded Keyblade wielder, with Lea personally fighting his former friend, intend on keeping his promise to beat him, but found himself only able to match him even when he wasn't using his Berserk Mode, and when Sora comes, Saïx responds by using his Berserk Mode to overpower them as Lea tries in vain to reach out to him. As Sora and Kairi are almost finished off by Saïx, Lea attempts to defend them, demanding Isa to stop fighting but is pushed back. Suddenly, Xemnas appears and condemns Lea for betraying them when he used to eliminate traitors. He almost finishes off Lea until the hooded Keyblade wielder stops him, claiming they need him alive. Xemnas clarifies saying they only need his heart, not his soul, and since they were former friends Xemnas passes on the task. Despite being beaten and injured, Lea wanted to know who the hooded figure is, who struggles to strike him down. Sora decides to calmly intervene, pleading and reassuring the figure whom he refers to as "Xion", who becomes overwhelmed. Unsatisfied, Xemnas kicks her, pulling back her hood revealing her face, causing Lea's memories of Xion to surface. As Xemnas attempts to kill Xion, Lea tries to stop him by hugging his leg, but is unable to stop him. A heart then escapes from Sora and Roxas suddenly reforms, much to Lea's joy.
However, Xemnas kidnaps Kairi and leaves the four to fight Saïx. Xion tells Lea to rest due to his injuries; Roxas and Xion fight along Sora's side. After defeating Saïx, Lea goes over to him and was asked why he appears sad and that he thought Lea didn't need the markings under his eyes as it looks like he needs them. Lea is disgusted at that Saïx let the Organization reduce him to this state and says he thought everything was for their missing friend. Saïx confirms that he did sacrifice everything to find her, but when Lea made other friends it angered Saïx and he as a result lost all sense of purpose. Lea reassures he didn't forget them and Saïx agreed Lea wouldn't be that type of person. Before fading in Lea's arms he admits of being jealous and they will meet again in life. After making amends with his friendship with Isa, Lea tells Sora to go find Kairi. Being finally reunited, Xion, Roxas, and Lea embrace each other and cry tears of joy.
When Sora prepares to go after Xehanort, Lea walks up with Roxas and Xion, apologizing for the delay in their arrival. He joins the other guardians in using his Keyblade on Xehanort and seal Kingdom Hearts . After Xehanort is finally defeated, Lea and everybody else rejoin Sora, Donald and Goofy in Scala ad Caelum. As Xehanort and Master Eraqus make amends fading into the light, all the guardians purify and close Kingdom Hearts then are transported back to the Keyblade Graveyard. Then Lea and the others watch Sora leave on a solo journey to find and bring back Kairi. Shortly after Kairi is saved, Lea, Roxas, Xion, and Isa make a trip to Twilight Town, to share sea salt ice cream in celebration. They are soon joined by Hayner, Pence, and Olette. Riku arrives to take the group of friends to another celebration at Destiny Islands where they hangout on the beach with the other former Guardians of Light. They all look on as Kairi makes a last contact with Sora's heart, before he fades away into the sunset.
Prior to becoming Axel, Lea originally used Frisbees as his weapons of choice in Birth by Sleep, although his skills with them aren't very good, as he was easily defeated by Ventus in their spar.
In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Lea retained use of the Eternal Flames chakrams and many of the abilities his Axel incarnation used and would also acquire the Keyblade Flame Liberator, that resembles a combination of the Frolic Flame and Bond of Flame Keyblades, with a handle similar to his chakrams and a flame-shaped blade. Proving to be a remarkably powerful fighter with his weapon, he displays superior fighting skills and might than Kairi, able to seemingly stalemate a non-berserk Saïx while holding back, and could push back Xion whereas Kairi had trouble doing so. He was also able to react to both Terra Xehanort's attack, which not even Ventus was able to, and the Berserk Saïx's attack, although he wasn't able to block them properly and was knocked down by the impact. Lea later proved able to fight against Saïx in his Berserk Mode long enough to be backed up by Roxas and Xion. His fighting style revolves around wielding his Keyblade in its guard hilt, skillfully spinning it with his hand to unleash swift combos, and he could willingly change his Keyblade into the Eternal Flames at will.
- In an issue of Famitsu PSP+PS3, Lea's name is misspelled "Lia". It was also once misspelled on the Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep official website, though it was later corrected.