Chapter 1: Len is 6, then 9 (ch 11 of IIB)
Len doesn't have very good memories of being a kid...
This first chapter is a repetition of what happened in the eleventh chapter of "Ice Ice Baby". Please note that this chapter does include reference to the rape and abuse of a minor.
Len’s dad always had guests over. Len didn’t think they were friends, per se. They certainly weren’t always friendly. And some of them...they weren’t even nice .
Len had just come down for a glass of water when he heard the arguing downstairs in the basement. He couldn’t make out the words and wasn’t sure he would understand even if he could.
He held his teddy bear by its paw and walked quietly into the kitchen. Pushing his footstool against the cupboard, he stepped up to reach the sink and turn on the faucet. There was a noise behind him and he startled, water sloshing over the edge of his glass as he peeked over his shoulder. There was a man, a little older than his dad, standing in the doorway, wearing an indulgent smirk.
Len turned off the water and slowly turned around, the grooved step of the stool digging into his feet. He held his glass with both hands to keep them still, his bear pinched between his pinky and the glass. “I was just getting some water.”
The older man hummed, eyeing him, as he walked into the room. “Nice pjs, kid.”
Len glanced down at his dino pajamas with a small smile, blinking at the man shyly. “Thank you.”
The man’s smile widened and he went to the fridge, grabbing a beer. He glanced back at Len. “You ever tried beer?”
Len frowned, eyebrows pinching in confusion. “I’m only six.”
“That’s a no then,” the man smirked. He glanced down at the can in his hands and held it up. “Wanna try some?”
There were still voices coming from downstairs and Len’s eyes moved to the door, half-expecting his dad to come up. “No, that’s okay.” He glanced down at his feet. “Dad would be mad.”
He was surprised when the man touched his face, flinched as his long fingers brushed an old, yellowing bruise.
“Your dad get mad a lot?”
Len closed his eyes and shied away from the man’s hand, his bottom lip wobbling. He bit down on his lip to stop it from moving.
“You’re a good kid, Leo,” the man sighed, hand falling to Len’s shoulder. His thumb brushed along Len’s collarbone, fingers curling in a loose grip. “Do you want me to show you how to make the pain go away?”
Len looked into the man’s face, noticing the man’s wide eyes and kind smile. He nodded shyly, the man’s smile widening as his hand slid down to curl around Len’s.
“Good, good. It’ll be our little secret, okay? Your dad won’t have to know.”
Len had been so eager to numb his pain back then, so willing to trust anyone who wasn’t the man who raised his hand to him and called him a bastard. He should have known better. He should have known no hands would ever touch him with kindness — not without some ulterior motive. Not without wanting something from him in return.
The first time it happened wasn’t the last. The man kept coming back, kept hanging around whether his dad was home or not. Continued to stick around even after Len’s dad was put in prison for the first time.
“Ready for some fun?” he’d say, as if Len had a choice. As if Len actually found what the man did to him fun.
By the time his dad finally found out what was happening, Len was almost nine and had a half-sibling on the way. Out on bail, his father had barged into his room when the man was balls deep, his pudgy fingers digging into Len’s small hips. His father had been so enraged that he’d pulled the man off him, shoving him into the wall.
Len curled into a ball on his bed and buried his face in his hands, trying to ignore the sound of breaking bone. His father had been angrier ever since he got out of prison, less sympathetic, more violent.
“Keep your damn hands off my son, you piece of shit!” his dad screamed, slamming his boot into the man’s spleen. He tugged the man up off the floor and tossed him out of the room with his pants still around his ankles. “And don’t you dare show your ugly face in my house again or I’ll fucking kill ya!”
The man scrambled to his feet and stumbled toward the stairs, pulling up his pants as he went.
Lewis turned in a fury toward his son, stalking toward the bed and wrenching him off the mattress. Snatching his son’s pants off the floor, he shoved them into the boy’s chest. “Put your damn pants on.”
Len scrambled to obey, sore and uncomfortable. Embarrassed tears slid down his flushed cheeks, unbidden, and his bottom lip trembled.
Seeing this, Lewis grabbed his jaw. “You slut! You liked that, didn’t you?”
Len cowered away and shook his head. “N—n—”
A rough slap landed against Len’s cheek, the force of the blow knocking him back against the metal bedframe. But Lewis didn’t stop there. He kept going, landing his boot against Len’s ribs, against his arms, his head, until Len was a bruised and bleeding mess on the floor.
Len barely noticed when his father left the room. Len hated him, but he hated his mom more — not because she’d left a mere week after his dad got back, but because she was free.
Chapter 2: Lisa is 9, Len is 18
Chapter by hellosterek
After a rough evening with her dad, Lisa goes to visit her brother.
Lisa ran her hand over the damp mirror, wiping away the condensation to see herself through the fog. She pushed her hair to the side and tilted her head, surveying the latest damage. There was a deep gash next to her collarbone and there were cuts and bruises littering the side of her face. She sighed and began dotting her face with the cheap makeup she swiped from the convenient store down the street, slipping on a high-collared shirt to hide the gash. Her entire body ached, her skin feeling too tight for her body as the cuts stretched and pulled. She pulled on one of Len’s old jackets and a pair of boots, wincing at the uncomfortable ache.
The moment she stepped out of the bathroom, she tightened the muscles in her face like Len had taught her, hiding any signs of pain. She stepped carefully down the stairs, trying to make as little noise as possible. Her father was lying limply on the couch, face smushed into the cushions and mouth open in a snore. She eyed the bottle dangling from his fingers and quietly made her way out the front door, pulling the jacket closer to protect herself from the cold.
The homeless shelter Len was holing up at was only a few blocks away, but it took Lisa longer than usual to walk there. She had to stop just down the street from Safe Haven to lean against a cold brick building until her nausea passed, the pain making her feel queasy.
By the time she finally arrived at Safe Haven, it was past dinner time and the staff was cleaning up the scraps. One of the volunteers saw her stumble in and offered a small smile, getting a plate for her from the kitchen. Lisa forced a smile and collapsed into a chair, downing an entire cup of water instead of touching the food that was placed before her. She felt sick and her stomach hurt. There was no way she could manage to eat without throwing it all up.
Lenny came downstairs and sat across from her a few minutes later, glancing over her. She wanted to slap him, to punch him in his pretty little 18-year-old face, for looking at her the way he was, but she restrained herself. Safe Haven didn’t condone violence and it wasn’t Lenny’s fault their dad was a dick. It wasn’t his fault he had escaped. In her opinion, he was stupid for escaping, but not going far enough away.
“He hit you again,” Len stated evenly, ever the observant one.
“He got drunk,” Lisa supplied. Like he did every night.
Len’s eyes slid over her, pausing at the top of her shirt. Lisa glanced down and noticed the fabric was starting to darken with blood.
“Are you okay?” he asked finally, jaw tense.
Her throat pinched in a familiar way, the tears welling up in her eyes. She quickly blinked them away and nodded. “Just a scratch.”
It looked like he wanted to call her out on her bullshit, but he remained silent and nodded, getting to his feet. He held out a hand to her, which she gladly accepted. Len shared a significant look with one of the volunteers, who quickly went upstairs ahead of them to fetch a first aid kit.
Len helped Lisa to the room he shared with Charice, a short brunette that always pranced around in black. Lisa was fairly certain her and Lenny were screwing, but she never mentioned it. Whatever Lenny did to forget the shitshow that was their childhood, Lisa couldn’t blame him for. She’d probably do something similar if she was a little older.
At the moment, it looked like Charice was out, doing whatever-the-hell she did when she wasn’t bunkering down at the shelter. That was good, Lisa thought, the less eyes on her right now, the better.
The volunteer came into the room and offered Len the first aid kit. There was question in her eyes as she gazed down at Lisa, sitting on the edge of Len’s bed, but she never vocalized it. Instead, she left the room to give them some privacy. There was a certain solidarity at Safe Haven. The workers never asked questions, even when a kid showed up in the middle of the night, sporting black and blue bruises or broken ribs. Lisa was grateful because, more often than not, she was that kid.
Len sat down on the bed next to her, pulling open the curtain to let some light in through the window. It didn’t help much, the sun was already setting, but he could see Lisa’s bruises better this way. She looked like shit, she knew, and his frown only confirmed it.
She shrugged out of her jacket and pulled the collar of her shirt down so he could get to the bleeding and inflamed skin underneath. She rolled her eyes up to the ceiling as he began cleaning the wound, trying to hold back the tears that were threatening to roll down her cheeks. Len never minded her crying, actually encouraged it whenever she wasn’t home with dad, but she hated letting him see her like this. She wasn’t weak. She wasn’t strong either. She didn’t know what she was. All she knew was that she hurt and she wanted out of this life. She was only nine and she’d already become more aquatinted with pain than most of the kids that lived out on the streets. She’d rather be one of them, but her father would never allow it. He had too many connections. He’d find her again.
“What was it this time?” Len questioned quietly, working on stitching and sealing the wound.
She winced as he prodded at the sore flesh, blinked a few tears away. “Something about a job going south. Someone didn’t hold up on their end of the deal.”
He frowned, tying a knot to keep the wound closed. “Another one? You’d think he’d learn his lesson by now.”
“He’s losing his touch,” she muttered bitterly, her voice rough with tears.
He glanced up at her as he applied the bandage, frowning. He pushed some hair from her face and gently brushed his fingers across her bruised cheek. “They’ll catch him again, Lise, and when they do, things will be different.”
She flinched away from him and closed her eyes, her bottom lip trembling. “How? How will things be different? You have no money.”
“We’ll have a chance,” he insisted, hand falling. “I’ll be able to give you a better life.”
“What does that even mean?” she questioned in exasperation, tears finally falling. “How could you possibly give me a better life, Lenny?”
He sighed and sat back, running a hand over his face before sitting forward again and grabbing her hands. “Lisa, do you trust me?”
She looked at him, noting his desperation, and nodded. “Yeah, Lenny, I trust you.”
And she did. Lisa didn’t throw around that word too often, didn’t even throw it around at all. Every single person in her life that she’d trusted had turned their backs on her. Her mother had run off without her, her father was an abusive drunk and criminal, and the teachers at school did nothing to help her. The cops of Central City were useless and untrustworthy. The only person she could rely on was her brother — and, even then, her trust in him was limited. There was only so much he could do.
“Then believe me when I say I’m figuring things out,” he said, squeezing her hand. “I’m going to make sure he never touches you again.”
She wasn’t sure if she believed him, wasn’t sure if this was something he could promise, but she knew he’d at least try. And that was really all she could ask of him. So, she nodded and curled up into bed with him, letting him cradle her against his chest and run his fingers through her hair. He pulled the blanket over them and held her tightly, keeping her warm in the cold room.
She didn’t know what would happen the next day, didn’t know what would happen next week or next month or next year. All she knew is that she would always have Lenny. As long as she had him, she knew she could survive whatever Lewis Snart threw her way.