Notes: This is a fix it / AU for Bloodsong 13's story "Blood for Blood". You can read it here s/10642212/1/Blood-for-Blood-Execution but as the name says, it is quite bloody, so be warned! In short, Malcolm Merlyn was caught by Talia al Ghul and tortured (forcing Thea to do the actual knife-cutting in a twisted way to hurt both of them) and then left hung in chains to bleed out like a pig. Obviously, I couldn't let him die in that cruel way, so here is what happened next!
The first time he awoke it was like awakening from a nightmare, only the nightmare continued. He tried to sit up but couldn't as a weight was bearing down on him. He tried to take a deep breath but dirt was getting into his mouth and nose. He frantically spit it out, he thrashed, he choked, and soon lost conscious again.
The second time he awoke, he found that last time he had had the instinct to bring up his hands and cover his face with them, so at least this time he wouldn't choke to death again within seconds. Again? What the -? He pushed the thought away for now and tentatively tried to open his eyes. It did not make a difference, it was still pitch black and there was still dirt above him.
His heartbeat stopped for a second. He was buried alive. A deep fear he never before had known came over him. Of all the cruel ways to die, this must be the worst. But wait a minute – how was he even still alive? He clearly remembered his own death. The way the curare took over his body, unable for him to move a muscle. Unable to scream as well when Talia al Ghul forced Thea to use the knife on him. Just as well, he didn't want his daughter to suffer any more than necessary but it did not make any difference, in the end she had realized that paralyzation did not mean he was not able to feel every single cut she administered. He'd never forget the look of horror on her face as the knife fell from her hands and she stumbled away, retching. And it was all his fault that the girl had been put through all of this. Some father he was.
After they had put him into the chains again he had tried to give her strength, he wanted her to live on without an unbearable guilt. He had no idea whether it had worked or not but it had been all he could do before dying from blood loss.
And now here he was and he was still alive. How was that possible?
One thing was for sure, he needed to get out. He tried to think what he had read about people being caught in an avalanche, how you could dig yourself out of the snow. But snow would pack solid, you were able to make a cave for yourself to breathe. The dirt above him was loose, the more he dug at it, the more it fell down.
Still, lying back and waiting for death was no option, so he kept at it, as futile as it seemed, and he slowly made progress. He tried to shove the dirt from above him under himself, raising himself up that way. He had no idea how many more times he died and woke up again when he started to see some light. He finally had reached the surface of his want-to-be grave. He never before had been so relieved to see the sun.
He crawled away a few feet and then collapsed on his back. His lungs heaved for air, his heartbeat took a long time to slow down from the adrenalin, and he was just grateful to lie there, in the middle of nowhere apparently, with no immediate threat. Doing absolutely nothing than being happy to have survived. Again.
He could hear cars in the distance. There must be a road. But wait – the noise was getting louder. The car came straight towards him. He looked around, for a tree, a bush, anything to be able to hide, but there was nothing. And he had nothing to fight with. He was as helpless as a newborn baby. Oh how he longed for his bow in that minute! It was like a second limb for him and he felt crippled without it.
All he had left were his fists and legs, and he would make sure to use them properly in a fight. When the car stopped in front of him, he was standing tall and proud and ready for whatever would happen next.
Or so he thought.
A man in a business suit got out of the car, holding up his hands to show he had no weapons. Malcolm did not relax at all but the man kept his distance.
"Mr. Merlyn, I presume?" The man cleared his throat when he got no answer. "Ah, well, I'm sorry. You must be very confused, but I don't have any answers to your questions. I was only paid to bring the car here and then leave again. So, mission accomplished."
With that he threw the car key towards Malcolm, who caught it in a reflex. Still too stunned to say anything, he just watched as the man opened the trunk, got out a small bike, waved good-bye and left just like that.
Malcolm sat down on the driver seat and noticed a netbook on the passenger seat. He opened the lid but before he could push any buttons, a programme was opening by itself.
And then his own face stared at him from the screen. It was the most creepy thing he had ever experienced. The man wore his hair differently but other than that he could be his long lost twin.
Malcolm did not know anything about a twin. Rebecca and Tommy had been his small family, and both were dead now. Thea was the only one left, and he needed to go and make sure she was safe.
Strangely, the man on the screen just looked at him, as if waiting for him to stop thinking and actually pay attention.
"Who are you?" he finally asked.
The man on the screen chuckled. "As cliché as it may sound – I'm you, in a nutshell."
"But how is it possible to talk with myself in a live chat?"
"This isn't a live chat. It is a pre-recorded one sided conversation, put into a video. See, I have been in your shoes many many years ago. I remember every single question I asked – you will ask – and so I know which answers to give. It's a bit – complicated."
Malcolm was stunned to say the least.
"If you know everything that happened to me, then it would have been nice if you actually sent the man a bit earlier, to help with digging me out!"
The man on the screen who had not given a name yet went serious.
"I couldn't. Everything needs to happen exactly as it already has happened. If we change one single detail, who knows what it would do to the world as you know it, the universe even. The beat of the wings of a butterfly and all that. Trust me."
And Malcolm felt that he indeed could trust this strange man. There was something about him that said he was speaking the truth, as strange as it sounded. And if you couldn't trust yourself, who else could you ever trust?
"So, if you are me, and speaking from the future apparently, how come you're not looking older?"
"How come you are still alive, even though you already bled to death once and choked on dirt how many more times? And while we're at it – how come you were looking like an older brother to Tommy, but not like a father?"
Malcolm stayed silent as he had no answer. He always had put it down to his good genes. Or Nanda Parbat, that strange place. But clearly there must be more to this story.
"Okay, here's the deal. I – you – had a different life before. One in which you were a hero in fact, and helped people. Then things… happened… that brought you onto this dark path. I am not proud of what I have done but it did make sense in light of what happened. I needed to forget everything, just wanted to go away from it all, and so I retconned myself. Retcon is a drug that makes you forget. I had aimed to only forget a few years, but apparently the dose was too strong, so I forgot completely about this whole identity. My name's Jack Harkness by the way. Oh yeah, and you can't die. Or rather, you can die but you won't stay dead. No matter what."
"So how come you remember again now who you are? Were? Will be? My, this is complicated." Malcolm groaned and scrubbed his hands over his face.
"See the little pill box next to the netbook? It's a pill that can reverse the effects of the Retcon. Once you take it, you will remember everything. But be prepared, with all the good will also come all the bad, and there is no going back this time. So choose the right moment. But, obviously, one day you have to take the pill. If you don't, I won't be here, and I won't be able to send help, and it would take you days to get out of this desert by foot. Days Thea does not have to be honest. She needs you."
Thea. Right. Here he was chatting away and she might be still in danger.
"How many more years with her do you give me?"
"It's not about what I am willing to grant you. You'll know when the time comes. To be completely open to you, you won't see her grow old with grandchildren. You'll have to leave long before that. When she starts noticing that she is getting older but you are not. Do you understand?"
"I promise I'll take it. But now I really need to go."
The man that had called himself Jack Harkness smiled. "That's fine with me. She's a great girl. And with that I'm saying good-bye. Good luck!"
The screen went dark. Malcolm started the motor. He turned the car around and went back the direction the man had come from, figuring that he must hit a road there somewhere. And then his GPS signal hopefully would pick up and tell him where the heck he was.
They had gone out of their ways to make sure nobody would ever find him again. For Talia al Ghul and the others, Malcolm Merlyn was dead, and he intended to leave it that way. It would make it easier to protect Thea. She deserved a father that was truly there for her.
He'd keep the pill with him wherever he went, in that little pendant he wore around his neck.
And one day a new adventure would begin.