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 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 Kingdom Hearts: 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 Saix, 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.
Lea carries around two red Frisbees with black edges, each adorned with a Bomb design, which later influence his choice of weapons when he becomes a Nobody: Chakrams.
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.
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 Saix 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 Saix's attack, although he wasn't able to block them properly and was knocked down by the impact. His fighting style revolves around wielding his Keyblade in it's 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.