Blood for Blood

FanFanFic AU for Ghostina's "Short Change Hero"


Rating: Mature

Flavor: Drama

Language: some

Violence: a bit, some gore

Nudity: partial (m)

Sex: none

Other: torture, major character death

Author's Note:

This is based on Ghostina's "Short Change Hero." ( s/10426167/1/Short-Change-Hero) Posted with permission. This is an Alternate Ending to chapter 51.

League Hunters, led by the quite sadistic Talia Al-ghul, have been after Malcolm Merlyn, who's found refuge with Oliver and his group. The Hunters are also after Thea, for their rule of "Blood for Blood" allows them to kill her in retribution for her father's crimes, especially since it's so difficult to capture him.

Nevertheless, the Hunters managed to capture Malcolm, Oliver, Diggle, Sara, and Felicity in the club basement. Talia has sent two of her Hunters to retrieve Thea.

(PS: Oliver's girlfriend in this case refers to Felicity.)

Um, this one's not really for my fellow Malcolm Merlyn fans. Maybe for Oliver and his fans, after what happened in "Broken Arrow" ;X

This is also inspired by the Patrick Senecal film "7 Days." If you have a strong constitution and want to see the surgery/torture on someone under the effects of curare, check it out.

This work doesn't get particularly gory, in my opinion, but it is painful and I wrote it, so... if you're familiar with my "gut punch" style, you know what to expect. Be prepared.

Blood for Blood


"Let go of me!" Thea snapped at the two hauling her down the basement stairs of the club. One man, one woman - these assassins who had invaded the city, the ones threatening her, hunting her, all because of her damned father.

"Oh do let her go," a woman drawled. She had black hair and cold eyes, and wore fancier leather armor than her counterparts. "You act as if she's dangerous."

The two holding Thea shoved her forward, releasing her arms. She stumbled, but caught herself before falling. She drew back a fist and started to lunge - only to be seized by Viper's iron grip.

"You don't want to do that," the assassin told her quietly. "This is Talia Al-ghul, Heir to the Demon, leader of the Hunters. Do as she says, if you want to live."

Thea glared at Viper, the woman who had casually stabbed her, and just as casually taught her how to throw a punch. Thea had thought her a cold, callous bitch. But this Assassin Queen had her beat.

Thea looked around. "So, it's true." This place, hidden right under her feet, was clearly the lair of the Vigilante. Oliver. He was tied, right there, hand and foot, chest and neck, to a metal chair. Along with Sara Lance, Oliver's bodyguard, and that blonde Thea had seen around. Oliver looked ready to kill someone. The two silent assassins moved to his side, knives glinting in menace.

Thea looked the other way, and there was Malcolm Merlyn, hanging from his wrists, shirtless, bloody and bruised. She clenched her teeth. "What's going on?"

"Blood for Blood," the Ice Queen, Talia, said. "Your father has violated the code of honor of the League of Assassins. Because of the grievous nature of his crime and his... reticence to pay for it-" she turned a glance to the stone-faced Merlyn - "the life of his last living relative is now also forfeit."

"That's crap!" Thea spat. "I haven't done anything to your stupid league!"

Talia shrugged. "It's our way."

"And he is not my father! Not in any way that matters." She spared him a glance, but quickly lowered her eyes. "My father is dead."

"What you feel hardly matters. Unless..." Talia tilted her head as if contemplating Thea. "There are two ways this can go. One, I torture you to death, then torture him to death. Or-" a sly smile spread across her face - "one of you can agree to kill the other."

She moved two paces towards Merlyn. "What do you say, hm?"

He said nothing, only clenched his jaw tighter.

Looking amused, Talia came back to Thea. She withdrew a gun from her tunic and held it by the barrel. "And you? Will you see Justice done?"

Thea swallowed bile and backed away. "I am not a killer."


Malcolm's arms ached with the strain of being held overhead for so long. His whole body burned where Talia's ministrations had touched him. But his attention now was focused on the sadistic bitch. She wanted to reduce Thea to a broken, self-hating creature. She'd probably enjoy it more to twist one innocent girl to her perverted ways than to simply torture her with knives and whips. Nevertheless, it was Thea's one, slim chance to survive this night.

Malcolm had to die. He accepted that inevitability now, as he imagined Moira had done. She'd faced death so her children might live. How could he do less?

He knew how to make it easier for Thea. I'm so sorry, Moira. He gathered his strength and hardened his gaze at his estranged child. "You're a coward. You're nothing but a weakling and a whore, just like your mother!"

Thea's eyes flashed. She snatched the gun from Talia's hand, leveled it at him and pulled the trigger without thought or hesitation. Malcolm braced for the impact of the bullet, but felt nothing more than a sharp sting. He looked down to see a dart embedded in his chest. Poison, of course! Talia would never let him die so quickly.

The assassin's lips twisted with glee. "Unchain him." Reese leapt to obey.

Malcolm's mind raced. She expected the poison to debilitate him. He half-closed his eyes and slumped, secretly gathering his strength. He might have one chance to kill Talia the moment he was free, or at least force the assassins to kill him.

His wrists fell from the shackles; knives stabbed up and down his arms as circulation struggled to return. He let his knees buckle, then when he was crouched, he sprang at Talia.

Her teeth showed as she grinned at him. She blocked his strike, dodged back, then blocked and kicked him across the stomach. He doubled over with a whoof. He could feel his limbs weakening; he had to press the attack.

Talia danced around him, tantalizingly in reach. He had no time for finesse, for strategy. He lunged again desperately, and failed. She was toying with him!

Then his legs gave out and he found himself on his knees, gasping for breath, but unable to draw enough air. He tried to stand, to force his legs to obey, but they wouldn't. He realized he knew this poison. Curare. It would paralyze him completely in a matter of minutes.

Talia edged closer to him, smirking down at his growing helplessness. "Get him on the table."

Malcolm tried one last strike. There was no strength in it. Reese and Kali grabbed him by the arms before he keeled over, and he could not struggle. They hauled him up onto the surface of the worktable like a rag doll.

The damnable thing about curare was it did not cause unconsciousness. He could do nothing, but was completely aware of everything happening to him.

"Viper, intubate him."

Hands opened his mouth, and a flexible tube was shoved down his throat. He couldn't even gag. He was a prisoner, trapped within the cell of his own body.


Thea watched in horrified fascination. She'd been frozen during the fight, if it could even be called that. Talia had played with Merlyn like a cat with a mouse. "What are you doing?" she asked numbly.

"He can't breathe on his own," Talia explained. "And he can't be allowed to die, not just yet."

Viper had one of those emergency resuscitation bags. She squeezed and released it slowly, making Merlyn's chest rise and fall. The assassin didn't look up from her job.

Thea swallowed. Talia took the gun from her hand. "Killing him now falls to you."

"But- I..." She'd shot Malcolm Merlyn in a blind rage. She hadn't had time to think or to feel.

Talia put an arm around Thea's shoulders, her hand like an iron claw as she pushed the young woman over to the side of the table. "It will be easy," the assassin murmured to her.

Thea looked at the man on the table. They hadn't tied or strapped him down in any way, he was just lying there. The plastic airway hissed and sighed in a steady rhythm. Thea shivered. His eyes were open, staring at the ceiling.

Talia produced a narrow-bladed knife. "Look," she said. Her hand darted out and the blade sliced a cut across Merlyn's arm. Blood welled up. He didn't even flinch. "There, see?" The assassin pressed the knife into Thea's hand, curled her fingers around the hilt.

Thea stared, her mind sluggishly trying to work. This is what they wanted? For her to slice up Malcolm Merlyn, so he could wake up in agony? She swallowed bile. "I can't."

"Don't you want him to pay for his crimes?"

"I... Y-Yes, but..."

"You expect others to always do it for you?"

That was their job, wasn't it? Police, lawyers, judges, prison guards. "I-I'm not..." Not a killer, not a heartless bastard, not a murderer - not like him.

"Finish what you started, little girl." Talia's breath was cool across Thea's neck. "Just one cut, like I tell you. I will guide your hand, but you must do it. That's all. Then you can go."

Thea swallowed; this time, her throat was dry. She had to know, to see for herself, so she extended the knife. Her hand shook.

She placed the knife point against Merlyn's hand, and she... poked. She used barely any pressure, but a blood drop welled up at the tip of the blade. She pushed again, feeling no resistance, no tension; she watched his face; he didn't even blink.

She withdrew the knife with a gasp; she hadn't even realized she'd been holding her breath.

"You see how easy it is?" the assassin purred in her ear.


"Thea, don't!" Felicity called out in panic.

Oliver turned to her with a warning growl. "Felicity..." His wrists were bleeding, but the still couldn't slip from the ropes the assassins had tied with expert precision. He jerked his body in frustration, letting the pain in his wrists and neck punish him for being unable to free himself, unable to help his friends, his lover, his sister.

Kali came to his side and pressed a knife to his cheek. "Silence."

Oliver ignored her and the threat. "You've got what you wanted, Talia. Take Merlyn and go!"

This garnered her attention. "Alas, Mr. Queen; if you had only come to this decision when we first demanded the surrender of Malcolm Merlyn to us." She smiled, a cold, bloodthirsty smile. "Too late, now. If any of them speak again," she ordered her cohorts, "cut out all their tongues."


It was good to know who your allies were, and how far you could trust them, Malcolm thought bitterly. But he didn't blame Oliver for offering him up to save Thea's life. If he hadn't been such a coward and had turned himself over to the tender mercies of Viper... No, it was not in his nature to give up without a fight.

Talia returned her attention to Thea. "Just one cut. It's not so hard."

"I don't want to do this," Thea insisted stubbornly.

The assassin pulled Thea's hair back over her shoulder, baring her neck. "You do this, just the way I tell you," she said softly, "or I will put you in those chains and make the cut on you."

Thea swallowed.

Do it, Malcolm urged her. Forget about me. You hate me! He wished he could look into his daughter's eyes, to lend her strength, but he couldn't even do that. He stared at the ceiling, the air hissing in and out of the tube down his throat.

Talia closed her hand over Thea's, guided the blade. "Here," she said, bringing the point to a stop on Malcolm's belly. "Put it in."

Thea's mouth trembled. Her nostrils flared as she tried to fight her natural revulsion.

"Push," the sadistic bitch encouraged her. "Nice and slow, if you like."

Disgust twisted Thea's face, but it didn't overcome her reticence.

Malcolm cursed Talia - he knew what she had in mind. Please, Thea, he prayed, find the strength to do it quickly. Get it over with!

With a barely stifled whimper, Thea pressed on the blade, cutting skin and muscle.

"Deeper," Talia insisted. Thea complied. "Now twist it."

Thea glanced towards Malcolm's face. Seeing no sign that he felt any pain, she steeled her resolve and followed the assassin's instructions.

Inside the silence of his mind, Malcolm Merlyn started screaming.


Thea bit her lip and forced down tears. There was blood, so much blood, it was making her sick. Worse was the feel of the blade as it cut through flesh.

"Now across," the assassin was telling her. "In an arc. Down to here." She pointed near Merlyn's navel.

Thea tried, but it was so hard. The knife just wanted to stick.

"Cut," Talia insisted. "Saw if you have to."

Thea held the knife in a white-knuckled grip and tried to imagine she was in a home-ec class, cutting up a chicken or something. Eyes pinched nearly shut, she worked the knife, desperate for this to be over.

Blood smeared everywhere; she could smell its iron tang. Then the foul odor of bowel overrode it, and she recoiled.

"Excellent!" Talia breathed, in near ecstasy. "Perfect." She gripped Thea's shoulders more tightly. "Keep going. All the way across."

"I can't," Thea choked out.

"You must finish." The assassin leaned forward and dipped a fingertip in the blood. "Here," she said, drawing an X on Merlyn's skin. "Cut to here, and you will be done."

Thea took a shuddering breath, grabbed the hilt in both hands, and continued towards the goal in manic fervor.


Talia felt herself growing intoxicated by the blood. She hadn't thought this would excite her. Really, she preferred victims that screamed and writhed, instead of lying there passively. Ah, but she wasn't finished yet.

The girl hurried to complete the absolute botch job on the evisceration. Talia could have done it in one swift flick of her wrist, but it wouldn't hurt nearly so much. She felt a warm glow in her belly. The curare hadn't affected the function of the tear ducts. The traitor's eyes welled up and spilled over, tears running freely.

The blade hit the bloody X, and Thea yanked the knife out. She might have kept going, pulling away and fleeing, but Talia held her firmly in place.

"There," Talia said with mock soothingness. "That wasn't so hard now, was it?"

Thea sniffled and fought to keep her own tears in check. Her eyes were going glassy with shock.

Talia gestured to Reese. "Lift his head up, so he can see her."

The Hunter moved to do so, and Viper assisted by adjusting the breathing tube so it pulled at the side of Merlyn's slack mouth. Talia had to admit it was disconcerting to look at someone who appeared to be a corpse - completely limp, eyes fixed and unblinking - but who was still quite alive.

"Wh...?" Thea muttered in a daze. "He's crying."

"Yes, he is." The corner of Talia's lip curled up. "I'm sorry, did you think he was unconscious? No, the curare only paralyzes."

"What?" The girl teetered under Talia's hands.

"He's awake, and quite aware of what's going on." She leaned close and whispered, "He can feel everything."

This time, Talia loosened her grip as Thea recoiled. She expected quite a reaction, and wasn't disappointed.

"What!? Wait... Oh God!"

Talia did keep one hand fisted in the back of Thea's jacket as the girl bent and vomited. When the retching and coughing tapered off, Talia pulled her back upright to face her traitorous father.

Thea was sobbing. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."

Talia clasped her right hand over the girl's, which was still reflexively clutching the knife. "Do you want to cut him again?"


"No?" Talia smiled.

"I did what you wanted! You said you'd let me go!"

"Yes, you did very well. I wanted you to torture your father to death, and you have." Thea looked bewildered again, and Talia enjoyed twisting the verbal knives almost as much as the real ones. "Stomach wounds hurt the most, and take the longest to kill. You perforated the large intestine - beautiful job, by the way - and this will cause infection, which is going to hurt even worse." Thea sagged in her grip, but Talia held on. "A man of his size, his strength and training... It will take him days to die from this."

"No..." Thea moaned like a wounded animal. The inflicting of pain lit up Talia's senses.

She raised Thea's arm until the knife pointed at Merlyn's neck. "If you cut him again, here, across the throat, you can end him quickly."

Talia looked at Thea's wide eyes and followed their gaze to Merlyn's. There was no way this weak slip of a girl could ever kill someone while looking them in the eye. Hell, when she'd fired the gun, her eyes had squeezed shut.

Talia looked over her shoulder, giving Kali the nod to back off. "Mr. Queen, did you have any advice for your dear little sister?"

Oliver licked his lips. "Thea...," he said hesitantly. His girlfriend looked at him as if she had something to say, but one glare from Kali kept her mouth shut.

Oliver tried again. "Thea, don't think about it. Just... it's quicker."

The girl's hand shook, and Talia slowly released it, giving her free choice. Though she knew what the outcome would be. Thea and her father locked gazes. He would plead for death if he could, Talia knew. But only silent tears ran down his face.

"No!" Thea yelled. She tore herself backwards out of Talia's grip. She flung the knife to the floor and started screaming. She put her hands over her head, unable to deal with the situation the sadist had forced her into. Thea collapsed, screaming and crying.

Talia's lip twitched. "Well," she said to Merlyn, "I never could figure out what people see in mercy." She nodded to Reese to let him go. "Secure her," she ordered her subordinates, barely glancing at Thea. "Then get him back in cuffs." She leaned over her victim on the table. "As soon as he starts to recover, I want him hung back up."


There was no day inside the basement, no night. Malcolm hung in his chains, suffering, while time stood still. His daughter was strapped to a chair in front of him, sentenced to watch him die. The others, Oliver's loyal team, might have been able to escape by now, but Talia had Viper keep them sedated.

There was always an assassin watching. If anyone were to awaken from their drug-induced haze and make an attempt to get loose, the Hunters would appear from the shadows and put a stop to it.

Talia had estimated three days for Malcolm to die. She had also apparently reasoned that no one would die of starvation or thirst in so short a time, so there was no relief for anyone. No food, no water. The floor was stained and smelled like an abandoned latrine.

Malcolm could see his daughter's cracked lips, the pale crustiness at the corners of her mouth. He saw her suffering and prayed to die faster.

He was weakening - feverish, delirious - the end couldn't be long now.

He'd remained silent all this time. Let her hate him, prevent her from forming any emotional ties. Let her survive.

But over the endless hours, he could see the light go out of her eyes, her spirit fade. Her head lolled to the side, and her will to live bled out of her.

"Thea," he croaked. He worked his tongue in his mouth, trying to summon a drop of spit. He had to tell her the truth. "Thea." A little stronger, now.

Her eyelids fluttered. She didn't move her head, but her eyes opened and looked up at him. Pain filled them, but no tears. They were dried to dust. "S-Sorry," she managed.

"Don't." So much time had passed. He wished he could have made a better life for her. But this was all they'd ever have. "I lied." He flexed his tongue to get it to work better. He swallowed dryly. "Your mother was not a whore. And she was not weak. She was strong." Thea lifted her head, listening. "And you are strong, like her. You're going to live. You're going to go on. It's what... what she would have wanted."

Malcolm's voice ended in a harsh whisper. He hoped she heard; he hoped she took heart. Moira, he thought as he let his head loll back. So strong, She was the one who had set the League on him.

It was her strength that had killed him.