It was one of the first names anyone new to Carmichael Elementary School learned.
His was the name taunted in the halls, the one at the center of gossip in the cafeteria.
It used to be stupid things that got him noticed--kids knocking his books from his arms or him tripping in the halls. The way he'd just blush and look away when you stole his notes in class. His grades, always perfect; his geeky personality that drove everyone away from him alone on the playground most days.
After his mom, though, things were different. He wasn't just taunted or teased. The kids at school were just...cruel. They yelled at him, said some really nasty things. If they weren't being nasty, they were ignoring him. Honestly, he probably enjoyed the quiet more than the company of those mean kids.
It was only two weeks after Nora Allen's death that Leonard Snart arrived at Carmichael, a transfer from the shadier part of town.
Leo and Barry were technically the same age--eleven--when Leo first transferred schools, and he knew the kid's story almost immediately after stepping through the doors.
Leo already knew the basics of Nora Allen's murder. Man murders his wife, tries to kill his son, son runs away, comes back to see his dad dragged away and his mom's body covered with a tarp.
Everyone knew that, though. It was big news in Central--splashed across the front page of every newspaper in the Twin Cities the morning after it happened.
What he found out, what other kids didn't quite understand, was that people (including his own father) actually believed that Doc Allen had been beating his son and wife for several years.
There wasn't any evidence to "prove" that Henry beat Nora, but there was plenty of evidence on Barry--cuts, bruises, broken bones. Barry always told doctors that he fell or tripped or cut himself painting. He was always so cheerful and honest that nobody ever thought he was capable of keeping secrets. He was just honest like that--never cruel, but honest.
And then suddenly there were doubters. Outcries of domestic violence. Friends of Henry Allen were suddenly key witnesses in his trial--Lewis Snart himself testified at the trial, bringing up all sorts of claims against the man. Leo was in the back of the courtroom with Lisa, staying quiet as Lewis spewed lie after lie about the man who stitched all of Leo's cuts, who fixed every one of his broken bones.
He sat, and he listened, and he hated every second of it. He spent the majority of the trial talking in quiet tones to Lisa, contradicting every lie out of their father's mouth.
And then he got transferred to Barry's school, and he started paying attention to the other boy.
It wasn't like he knew it was Barry's school when his father first told him. He didn't know Carmichael from any other school in the county. Once he got to actually going to the new school, he figured out pretty quick that, even though Barry was a supposed victim of his father's anger, he didn't get any sympathy from his peers.
Even so, he still didn't have Barry's side of the story. All he knew was that it was, according to most, an extremely outlandish lie.
Leo, having told many extremely outlandish lies in his short life (and never getting caught), was curious.
Eventually, he got a little bit of an explanation.
After two weeks of observing his surroundings, Leo had gotten bored. He got so bored, in fact, that one day he was caught carving patterns into his desk with a pen. Mr. Thomas sent him to the office.
Leo sat patiently in the office, quietly casing the rooms around him. The secretaries were gossiping across the room.
They really needed to practice their observation skills--just by sitting quietly in one corner of the room for an hour, Leo had determined that not only was Barry in there twice a week, but he was a pretty hot topic of conversation. Understandable, considering the timing.
"Poor child," one of them said. "So confused. He keeps going on about tornadoes and men in lightning."
The other nodded grimly. "Too bad, really--he's such a smart boy. Won the science fair three years in a row."
And on, and on, and on. The kid had a real following, all the support he'd ever need.
Leo was not jealous. Not even a little. When you get that level of support twenty-four seven...Well, it probably hurts that much more when it all goes away over night.
Leo was, however, very interested. Barry's story--supposedly a lie--seemed a little far-fetched, even to Leo. A tornado? In his house? And what was that about men in lightning? Did someone get struck that night? Or was there lightning...in the tornado...in his house?
Leo wasn't really all that sure that Doc Allen actually beat his family--they'd met a few times, when Leo was kicked just a little too hard by his father, or when his little sister caught the pointed end of a broken beer bottle, and they had to take a trip to the hospital.
Henry seemed pretty decent--it didn't look like he had any deep dark secrets, and Leo was pretty good at judging people, he thought.
Eventually, the door to the counselor's office opened, and another kid stumbled out. He was mostly blocked from Leo's view by a couch.
"Thanks, Miss," the kid muttered dejectedly. "This helped a lot."
The counselor appeared behind him, smiling obliviously. "Of course, sweetheart. I'll see you on Friday."
And then he was gone. He didn't even notice Leo sitting in the corner. Before Leo could quite recognize the voice or the red backpack, the counselor honed in on him.
"Come in, dear. I heard there was trouble in your class today. Care to tell me?"
Leo had a feeling that he was going to be in here a lot, so he set about trying not to hate her as much as he wanted to.