A/N: I was hoping I didn't get sucked into this fandom but here I am...starting a fic because the inspiration is just flowing. Nothing from Season 18 has been injected into this just as an FYI. This is my first SVU fic so go easy on me. I'm not new to the game, just the fandom. Enjoy!

December 5th, 2016 – 11:26 p.m.

She was a sucker for the oldies.

Crooners, big band, anything before the 70's she most likely had in records she got from her grandfather on his death bed. She played them often when she was home alone on a busted, old record player she found thrifting. Those were her favorite times. When she was home alone and Sam Cooke sang to her through the hallways, it always brought a smile to her face and set the tone for the rest of her day.

And she needed a positive start with the shit storm of a life she had.

Seventeen year olds shouldn't be exposed to the things she was and they definitely weren't. Kids had drug addicted parents, this she knew, but not many kids lived in a full blown warehouse for a well-known street gang.

Seventeen years old and she knew what meth and heroine looked like. She knew what prostitutes did for clients and just how much dirty money can be hidden in a couch cushion and a car tire. Seventeen years old and she had seen dead bodies, heard people choke on their own blood and scream for mercy as they were raped to death.

Her blue eyes witnessed far more injustices and disgusting things than even the most seasoned FBI agents probably have and that was saying something. It spoke volumes about the environment her father allowed her to live in. But he was hooked on a high that threw common sense out the window.

Fortunately, he was clear headed enough to keep her at least somewhat safe. Between the hours of 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. she wasn't allowed out of her room, so that's when she got most of homework done. Advanced placement class homework took that long to do anyway. Dinner had to be taken care of after the house was cleared out and her dad was passed out in a heap wherever he decided to fall that night, so she didn't eat until midnight and showered shortly after that.

Sleep came easy but only if she didn't have to listen to death and fighting earlier on in the night. And surprisingly, other than that one incident a few days ago, the week had gone well.

Fucking BX-9.

But she would get a full eight hours tonight and then she was getting the hell out of the house for the weekend. Her grandmother (on her mom's side) was going to be in town and all but begged her to stay with her for some proper bonding time. Anything to get out of the projects and into a hotel and spending time with someone who actually cared for her wellbeing. It wasn't something she could pass up.

Looking at the clock on her bedside table, she closed her textbook, finally having finished the last question on her homework and turned up the music playing softly in her ears. She was in the clear now and nothing sounded better than a hot shower, some food and a smooth, honeyed voice singing her to sleep.

Just in case, she cracked her door and poked her head out, checking the darkened hallway before she walked towards the stairs to check out the living room. Trashed and smelled of liquor and smoke, but not a soul in the room. She took in the sight of her father, curled up on the couch with a belt wrapped loosely around his arm before removed it and covered him up with a blanket.

She pressed two fingers to his pulse point, reassuring herself. Sad as it was, she found it necessary to do so.

Mindful of the creaky floorboards, she moved to the kitchen and opened a cupboard where she kept her food hidden from the constant slew of gang bangers and drug addicts that were in and out all the time. It was damn near impossible to keep the place stocked with food, but bet your ass there was always beer and liquor there for you.

She unwrapped one of her protein bars and grabbed a glass of water, wanting to get upstairs and into the shower as fast as possible. Excitement began to fill her at the activities her grandma mentioned. Shopping (she had some money saved up from all those birthday cards her crazy Nana Betsy sent her every year), a fancy restaurant and maybe even a movie or a tour of the Museum of Natural History, which she was the most excited for.

She smiled to herself and turned on her heel, ready to head back up the stairs but stopped short when she heard over her blaring music, the sound of the front door crashing open. Panic struck her and she quickly placed the cup back on the counter, snatched her earbuds out of her ears and climbed into the empty cabinet underneath the sink. She winced as the splintered wood scraped her thigh, but she was lucky to still be small enough to fit in there.

Through the crack of the opening of the door, she could see two figures walk past the kitchen entry way, muttering and cursing in Spanish and holding what looked to be wooden bats. They paused at the old, cracked wood door next to the pantry and pushed it open, descending down into the vacant basement she was forbidden from going into.

Sliding her phone out of her pocket, she muted the music, not wanting to risk anyone hearing the music through the earbuds and giving away her location. It wasn't like no one knew of her existence, but they never came into contact with her, and if they did she knew it wouldn't end well for her. BX-9 didn't give a damn how old someone was. When they got the itch, they scratched it.

She sat in total silence for another minute before raised voices in a language she knew some of floated up the stairs. She jumped at the sound of bats colliding with a body. That sound was familiar and made her skin crawl. She hoped whoever was down there was blessed with a quick death.

God, she just wanted this to stop. On more than one occasion she thought about being strong enough to go to the police and giving them everything she knew. Her cooperation could bring a devastating blow to the nefarious gang and, while it might land her father in jail, he would get the help he needed and she could go a full week without having to witness something like this.

But in reality, it wasn't likely. Cops in this city were just as corrupt as politician's. Anything she could do or say would be written and filed away for years. BX-9 and similar gangs had authority in these parts. It was best she remembered that and let sleeping dogs lie.

The sounds didn't last long. A few minutes tops before heavy footsteps and laughing continued to get louder. She dared another peek out from behind the cabinet door, careful not to bump into anything or move too much so she could make sure these guys left the house.

"Fucker can take a hit," one of the deep, heavily accented voices said and she could hear the smile even if she couldn't see it.

"We'll see how well he does tomorrow," the other one said and they loudly made their exit, slamming the front door in the process, waking her father who fell on the floor with a loud groan. She still didn't move, not wanting to scare him when he was half asleep and probably still high.

She listened to his shuffling footsteps walk slowly across the living room and all the way up the stairs before she crawled out and double checked that no one was there she needed to worry about.

Sighing, she picked up the protein bar she dropped on the floor in her haste and threw it in the trash can, not feeling hungry anymore. However, she was feeling cautiously curious as her eyes scoured the darkened stairway that lead to the basement. The door stood open and she heard the sounds of groaning pain calling to her.


She walked to the edge of the stairs and looked down, seeing the glow of dimmed light further into the room, lighting up the concrete floor and shelves lined with boxes. Another pained moan made her jump and before she could stop herself, she was traveling down the stairs.

"You're a dumbass," her mind yelled, clearly on a different train of thought than her feet, which compelled her further into the unknown. It was dangerous and she was far out of her element, but this was probably the only time she would ever get be down in this space and come in contact with someone that was still alive.

When you were under the scope with this gang, you rarely stayed alive long enough to be in pain.

She got to the bottom and a chill ran up her spine when she felt the cold floor under her feet. The dim light was bright enough to illuminate the surrounding area and she saw even more shelves filled with boxes, all in order and labeled with numbers. Not hard to imagine what was in those.

Her eyes scanned each and every corner of the room and almost yelped when there was another groan and rustling of metal on the floor, louder and coming from her right. She hadn't even moved further into the room and she debated on high tailing it out of there, but the overwhelming need to see the sources of the sounds was keeping her from going back upstairs and acting like nothing happened.

She was too invested now.


Her voice sounded like an echo in the room and the rustling stopped. She stepped forward hesitantly, balling her hands into fists defensively. Futile, but she would put up a fight if the situation called for it.

"Are you ok?"

She could see an indent in the concrete wall under the stairs, further back towards the right corner of the room where a gathering of blankets sat. A few droplets of blood were smeared across the floor along with dried, bloody handprints.

"Help," a weak voice croaked out. She stopped completely, freezing at the man's voice, "Help me."

She straightened up and braced herself for what she was about to walk herself into. If she got involved, she wasn't going to be able to back out of this. She was going to be invested in this and she had to seriously consider the ramifications of that and what it meant for her father; what it meant for her future as well.

A few minutes ago she was so damn sure that she wouldn't ever get involved. Eighteen was a few months away and she had plans to leave that very day and never look back. But now that she was the closest she'd ever been to helping someone, she was imagining another outcome.

"Fuck," she whispered and walked with purpose, stopping in front of the beaten and bloodied figure hunched over and staring up at her. It made her stomach churn to see the gushing blood flowing from a cut on the man's forehead, trailing down his face and dripping onto the expensive looking suit he wore.

She watched as the man looked on, unsure of her and the fact that she stood staring at him. He looked like he'd been there for a while, dirt and old blood stains in splotches down his pants. Old bruises blackened his eyes and he was probably sporting some broken bones the way he was holding his left arm.

"Uh…are you ok?"

She mentally kicked herself for asking that and excused herself, her whole body and mind kicking into action. She needed napkins and water. She ascended the stairs quickly, doing her best to keep quiet and gather the supplies. She grabbed a fair amount of napkins from one of the cupboards and filled up a large, empty vase with water and, as after-thought, grabbed two protein bars from her hiding spot. He likely hadn't been fed the entire time he'd been down there.

She reappeared in front of him in no time flat, pressing one of the napkins to the cut, apologizing as he flinched. It didn't seem to be that deep and she hoped it would help stop the bleeding, but she wasn't sure.

"Are you hungry? Thirsty?"

The man hesitated but nodded, still weary of her presence and grabbed the bar she unwrapped and handed to him. He down the whole bar in two bites, clearly starving. He pointed at the vase of water and she passed it to him, watching him down half of that as well.

"Who are you," he asked, breathing heavily and setting the vase back down by his side.

"I'm Lexi…I live here," she said, moving the napkin away to check on the flow of blood, "My dad…he works for BX-9…kinda."

The man nodded, averting his eyes from her and down to his dirty suit.

"Why are you helping me?"

Lexi bit her lip, not knowing how to answer that question because she still wasn't 100% sure of the answer herself. Sighing, she pulled the napkin away from his cut to wet a clean one and hand it to him. He began to clean his face the best he could, avoiding his bruises and cuts.

"Because…you're still alive."

The air grew heavy and he shuddered, clearly shook by her answer but he didn't say anything. He continued to silently wipe away the blood. Lexi twisted her hands, thinking it was time to make her way back upstairs. She had so much on her mind now it wasn't even funny. Sleep wouldn't be coming to her tonight and it was her own damn fault.

"I have to get going. I don't want my dad waking me up and finding me down here."

He looked a bit struck at her words but he nodded. He understood. He had to know that she didn't normally do this. He had to know that this was something she really had to think about.

Lexi stood, grabbing the bloody napkins. She unwrapped the other protein bar and let him drink the rest of the water before she turned to clean up and go take that long awaited shower. But before she completely left him alone again, she decided to ask him one more question despite her better judgement.

"What's your name?"

He was silent again and she looked back over her shoulder. He was staring at the bar in his right hand, left still cradled against his body. A bitter smile curled his lips and he answered in a gravelly voice.

"Rafael Barba."