Battle Stance, a Kingdom Hearts fanfic series by Raberba girl for RoseOfADifferentColor's Armory Challenge

Winner's Proof (theme 25) [rough draft]

DeviantArt 8,787 AkuSai kiriban for Lexalice

Summary: Isa wins both competitions. It's what happens afterward that's the problem.

o.o.o

It was a little like an adventure.

Isa and his mother stopped by early in the morning to pick up Lea, and they all dutifully went to the university for Isa's "Geek Contest," as Lea put it.

Honestly, Lea spent most of the time playing video games or dozing in his seat, jerking awake every time Mrs. Tsukino cheered. She did that whenever Isa's team scored a point, so Lea would whoop and cheer as loud as he could, then go back to sleep without bothering to figure out what Isa's team had done to score.

The final time he woke up, Isa's mother was on her feet and the entire audience wouldn't stop cheering, so Lea looked at the stage. Isa's team were going crazy yelling and hugging each other (not Isa, of course, but he was being enthusiastically glomped by several of the others), and the other team was all mopey, so Lea realized that his best friend's team had won. "GO ISAAAA!" Lea bellowed. "YOU'RE THE BEST! AWESOME! GOOD JOB, DUDE! ISA ROCKS! WHOO!"

When they finally made their way through the crowd down to where the contestants were milling around with their families, Mrs. Tsukino squealed and hugged Isa and told him how happy and proud she was of him. Isa, cool and calm as always, barely said anything in response, but Lea knew he was happy because of the smug little smile on his face and the way he held his head high.

Lea poked the gold medal hanging around Isa's neck. "I knew you'd win."

"Of course I was going to win."

"Think your dad will be happy?" Lea said knowingly.

Isa raised an eyebrow (Lea envied him the ability to do this at age twelve) and said, "He won't be angry, at any rate."

"Your father will be delighted," Mrs. Tsukino insisted, hugging him again. "All of us are so proud of you, Saa-chan."

"Mother, please...at least not in public..." Isa said in a pained voice.

"Come on, Saa-chan," Lea said, sticking his tongue out teasingly when Isa glared at him, "let's make tracks! We gotta get to your Tiny Bit Less Geeky Contest now."

"Oh, yes!" Mrs. Tsukino gasped. "Hurry, boys. I don't think we'll even have time for lunch, but I have some snacks in my purse. We can eat them on the way, and I promise we'll have a wonderful dinner afterward to celebrate!"

"With ice cream~" Lea declared, pumping his fist.

"I have to win the competition before we can celebrate," Isa said, and made a face when his mother hugged him yet again and kissed him.

"We're celebrating even if you place dead last," she said warmly. "Come along, love."

This was where the adventure part came in, because they technically weren't even supposed to be at the music competition, and Isa's father didn't know about it. It gave an exciting feel even to little things like Isa's number assignment being pinned to his shirt, and Lea and Mrs. Tsukino finding seats in the auditorium.

Lea video gamed his way through a lot of the competition again, but he kept getting distracted this time because some of the performances actually caught his interest. He was both shocked and delighted when one group of students played music from one of his favorite games.

Isa, competing as a solo vocalist, was recognizably the best of his age group. He even gave all the older contestants a run for their munny (in Mrs. Tsukino's opinion), or at least all the older contestants except the group who'd played the main theme of Professor Layton and the Curious Village (in Lea's opinion).

In the end, Isa came away with not just a second gold medal, but a brochure from the very interested choirmaster at the Academy. The head judge even declared, as he was awarding the prize, that Isa would have won first place overall if it hadn't been against the rules for a contestant to place outside their age group. Lea and Mrs. Tsukino cheered wildly, not noticing the jealousy-fueled expressions on the faces of many of the other parents and contestants, and they had a great time with Isa when they went out to eat afterward.

The next day at school, Isa was preoccupied and alone when he suddenly found a large, meaty hand gripping his shirt and shoving him against the wall. Startled, he registered the fact that a giant high schooler had cornered him, and that there was no one nearby to help. Hovering behind the guy was one of Isa's opponents from the previous morning's competition, who was glaring at Isa darkly.

"You the punk who cheated my brother out of a medal?" the thug demanded.

"No," Isa said coolly, partially because he hadn't cheated, and partially because he wasn't an idiot.

"It is him," the smaller boy snapped. "Make him give me my medal, Niisan. He got my medal and Irina's, it isn't fair!"

'How pathetic,' Isa thought in disgust.

"Fork them over," the older brother growled.

"...I don't bring my medals to school with me." 'Idiots.'

The older boy blinked, then looked at his younger brother. The boy snarled at Isa, "You bring them tomorrow, they're ours. If you don't bring them, my big brother will beat you to a pulp, you hear me?"

"I hear you."

"Give him a little taste of what'll happen if he doesn't do what we say, Niisan."

Isa weathered the blow without a sound and then watched, forcing his expression to stay impassive, as the younger boy dumped out all the contents of Isa's schoolbag and kicked them around.

"You don't deserve to have those medals," the boy said in a high voice. "You're a freak, and you cheated so they're not yours anyway, I should have won the Academic Decathlon and my brother's girlfriend should have won Young Melodies, not you!"

"I'm sorry that you're upset." 'Because it's really annoying to have to deal with.'

"Just- Just bring the medals tomorrow! Loser!"

When they were gone, Isa slowly climbed to his feet and started dragging his things together. He found himself shaking, partly from adrenaline and partly from outrage and partly from knowing that he was now late to class and his father would be angry when he found out about his son missing class.

When Isa had all his things together, he trudged to the nearest bathroom to try to straighten himself up, then finally made it to class but could barely concentrate on the lecture.

At lunch, Lea broke off in mid-greeting and yelled, "Whoa! What happened to you?!"

"I fell," Isa mumbled.

"You fell? That doesn't look like you fell, it looks like you got hit."

"I'm going to hit you if we keep talking about this."

"Hah, I'd like to see you try."

Isa was almost upset enough to attempt it, but he managed to hold onto his temper, and was eventually successful in distracting Lea onto a safer topic of conversation.

The next morning, Isa got up earlier than usual, readied himself for school, then picked up the Decathlon medal and gazed at it for a long time. 'It's just a piece of metal on a ribbon. There's nothing inherent about this object that makes it valuable. I know that I won that competition fairly, and the knowledge of that is enough reason for pride. I don't need this. It's worthless. And Father's probably not going to notice it's gone, so I won't even get in trouble for 'losing' it.' Still, his throat felt tight as he slipped the medal into his pocket.

Then he went to Lea's house early, greeted the surprised Mrs. Hayes, and went into his still-sleeping best friend's room. "Your room is disgusting, Lea. Do you ever clean?" Isa started rummaging through various piles.

"Mmmmmnnnnnffgggghhh...Izzz...Isaaa...?"

"Where's my medal?"

"Whaa?" Lea said sleepily.

"My medal, stupid. The one you were supposed to hold onto for safekeeping. Doesn't look like you can keep anything safe in here."

"Medal...lllll..." Lea yawned hugely.

When he had finally gotten out of bed, Lea dug a box out from the depths of his closet, picked the cheap lock on it because he couldn't find the key, then proudly removed the prize Isa had won at the music competition. "Ta daa!"

"Thank you." Isa took the medal and stuck it in his pocket along with the other one.

"You want it back?"

"It's my medal, I can do whatever I want with it." Isa didn't like how harsh his voice sounded, since it was not Lea he wanted to vent his resentment on.

"Yeah, duh. I just thought the whole point was that you didn't want to get in trouble if your dad found out you did the singing contest."

"My father is not going to find out. Get ready for school, we have to leave in fifteen minutes."

"Yeah, so I could have slept for ten more minutes! What is wrong with you?"

Isa rolled his eyes. "I'll be in the kitchen. If you're late, I'm leaving without you."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever."

At school, Isa stayed alert and tried to always be near large groups of people. Yet inevitably, he once more found himself cornered alone and pinned to the wall by somebody much stronger than him. His face remained expressionless, but his heart sank.

"You brought the medals?" the high school thug demanded.

"You better have them," his little brother said. "You'd better!"

"...They're in my pockets," Isa muttered. He kept his head held high as his medals were stolen from him, and nothing in his expression betrayed the venomous thoughts he was thinking as he watched the two brothers gleefully congratulate each other and stroll away with their loot. 'I hate you. Someday, I am going to make you pay.' Isa made his way to class, was not late, and took excellent notes, yet once more was unable to remember much from the lecture.

He met Lea for lunch as usual, and managed to banter enough to seem normal for a while. Then he blinked and abruptly realized that Lea was staring from him, and that he had been spacing out, because he couldn't remember what Lea had been talking about. "Sorry. What was the last thing you said?" He made himself take another bite of his meal.

"...Isa, what's wrong?"

"Nothing except your brain."

"You've been... Seriously, are you okay?"

"Yes, Lea, I'm just tired. What were you saying again, about the 'hottie' in your science class?"

Lea studied him for a while without speaking.

"Stop staring at me like that, you're giving the creeps."

"...What'd you need your medal for this morning?"

"Maybe I grew some balls and don't care anymore if my father finds out about the music competition," Isa mumbled.

"Do you still have it?"

"What?" Isa asked, playing dumb even as dread started to tighten his chest. Lea was the only one besides his mother who could see through him whenever he tried to put on an act.

"Your medal, dummy. I wanna look at it."

"You don't have to look at it. I won first place."

"I just wanna see it!"

"Well, maybe I don't want to show it to you! I'm allowed to keep my own belongings private, Lea!"

"Why wouldn't you show it to me?!"

"It's none of your business!"

A teacher on lunch duty paused by their table and said in a warning tone, "Boys, keep your voices down."

"I will when he shows me his medal."

"Just leave me alone!" Isa shouted. "You're so irritating!" He got up and tried to storm away, but the effect of his dramatic exit was rather hampered by the fact that it took longer than he expected to pack his barely-touched meal back into his lunch bag. He realized belatedly that he should have just left it behind.

Lea kept pestering him the entire time. "What's the matter with you? It's just a medal, Isa. I'm not gonna hurt it, I just want to look at it! Come on, Isa! Why the heck are you mad at me? Just tell me what-"

"Are you so stupid that you don't know what 'Leave me alone' means? It means get out of my way, I don't want to talk to you or look at you or listen to you, you annoying little person!" Lunch safely stowed, Isa was finally able to storm away properly.

Lea followed right on his heels, leaving his own half-finished lunch behind without a second glance. "I bet you don't even have the medal anymore. What happened? Did your dad find out and make you throw it away? Did-?"

They were behind the gym now, and Isa whirled around to yell at him, "Leave me ALONE, Lea!"

Lea hit him. Isa hit back. They fought, and Lea would have won - except that as he knelt there gripping the front of Isa's sweater with his other fist raised to punch Isa in the face, while Isa cringed away in anticipation of the blow, Lea suddenly remembered how much trouble Isa would be in at home if he was caught fighting at school. Lea lowered his fist. "...If you don't tell me what's wrong, I'll give you a black eye, right where your dad can see."

Defeated, Isa very grudgingly let Lea pry the truth out of him.

"They TOOK them?!"

"It doesn't matter, Lea," Isa muttered.

"They took your medals?!"

"They're just pieces of metal. I don't care. We both know I won fairly."

"Those PUNKS!" Lea sprang to his feet and marched away.

"Lea?!" Just then, the bell rang, and Isa was torn between going after his friend and making it to class so he wouldn't get in trouble. With a little cry of frustration, he rushed to his classroom, swearing to take a 'restroom break' as soon as possible.

Students were not allowed to leave their rooms during the first and last ten minutes of class. Even after ten minutes, the teacher was in the middle of an explanation, and Isa had to wait until she'd finished giving instructions for the assignment. By the time he finally had the chance to get out and look for Lea, Lea was getting his butt kicked, especially since he kept jumping up to keep swinging at his older and much bigger opponent rather than recognizing the undeniable fact that he was outmatched.

"Lea!" Isa rushed forward and seized his friend's arm.

"I'M NOT LETTING YOU GO 'TIL YOU GIVE ISA BACK HIS MEDALS!" Lea shouted, and swung at the older boy again. He was knocked to the ground in response.

"Try again, toothpick," the boy taunted. Then he looked at Isa and said contemptuously, "You're so lame." He raised his hand to hit Isa.

Isa burst into tears. "I know, I am," he sobbed, even as he gripped Lea's arms to keep the furious boy from retaliating. "Don't hit me, I'll leave you alone...!"

The older boy laughed and grabbed Isa's head to shove him away. Isa managed to regain his footing without falling over while still keeping hold of Lea.

"LET GO OF ME, ISA! STOP CRYING, YOU'RE NOT LAME!"

'Shut up, idiot.' "Let's just go, Lea," Isa said with a pathetic sniffle. It was hard work trying to force Lea away from the confrontation. "They can have the medals, it's okay, they deserved to win more than me, anyway."

"ISA WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"

As soon as Isa had managed to drag Lea far enough away, he stopped making sobbing noises and straightened the shoulders he'd been hunching and shoved Lea against the wall. Lea stared at him. "Are you stupid?" Isa hissed.

"Is-"

"That is not a fight you can win, Lea! What were you planning to do, keep swinging at him until he knocked you unconscious?!"

"You...?" Looking completely confused, Lea reached for the tear still glimmering on Isa's face.

Isa impatiently wiped it away. "You give them what they want so they'll stop hurting you. You figure out how to retaliate on your own level, not theirs."

"Were you- Were you faking it?!"

"I told you, I don't care about the medals," Isa said sulkily. 'Not as much as I care about you, anyway.' "Did it ever occur to you to try to get the older brother kicked off his team or break up with his girlfriend rather than just failing to punch him? Or to get to the younger brother through his teachers or even the Decathlon's judging panel?"

"Can we...even do that?"

Isa grinned. "Honestly, Lea, sometimes it seems like you have no faith in me."

Lea grinned back. "You do all the planning. I'll take care of the dirty work."

"Of course. Why else would I still keep you around?"

"Why else would I keep you around." Lea shoved him playfully.

Isa laughed and went along with the horseplay for a bit, then took hold of Lea's arm and steered him away. "Come on, let's clean you up, then we both need to get back to class."

"Aw, come on, who needs class? I like hanging out with you better, anyway..."

o.o.o

Author's Notes: Apparently the age range for when a boy's voice breaks is about 10-15 years old, so I think the timing is all right for Isa's puberty not affecting his performance in this fic.

I am not a gamer at all, so it was difficult trying to find a video game theme that would suit this story. X'D I finally decided on Professor Layton and the Curious Village, but I've never played it and only listened to the theme once. ^^;

I originally had a reason for Isa winning two competitions, but then as I was drafting, I realized it hadn't been necessary. Oh well. *sweatdrop*

Complete: 6/100