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Fanfic / The Black Hearts

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You know, my story isn’t that great. I could go on and on about how tragic my life was. Oh, please. Like I’m gonna be the kind of guy that’s giving a sob-story for sympathy. My life is what it is. There’s no real getting past that. I don’t need pity.

The Black Hearts is a RWBY Fan Fic by Snarky_SilverHaired_Sociopath. It tells of Mercury’s life living with his messed-up family. With a psychopathic drunkard assassin for a father and a mother who is a verbally abusive cheater that isn’t much better, it becomes increasingly apparent why Mercury is the way he is. Especially since both parents abuse him.

It is the third in the series The Makings of Team CRME after An Emerald Unearthed. The next story in the series is Roman's Empire.

This fic provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Marcus and Melanie are terrible parents. Marcus physically abuses Mercury, and Melanie does so verbally. Each of them saying that they never wanted him.
    • Cobalt notes that his father hates him for being gay.
  • The Alcoholic: Marcus is a heavy drinker, as was implied in canon.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Averted. While Melanie’s abuse is mostly verbal, it is no less damaging to Mercury.
  • Alliterative Family: Marcus, Melanie, and Mercury Black.
  • Awful Wedded Life: To say that Marcus and Melanie have a terrible marriage would be an understatement.
  • Ax-Crazy: Marcus is openly sadistic and will often have violent outbursts with little provocation. There’s also the fact that he joined the Atlas military just to kill people. And he certainly enjoys torturing targets when he’s paid to do so. This comes to the forefront when he tries to kill Mercury.
  • Blood Knight: Marcus enjoys fighting and killing.
    Something he always tells me is that there’s nothing like the thrill of killing. Well, that and “Don’t touch my whiskey or I’ll beat you to death.”
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite his rampant alcoholism, Marcus still manages to be a good assassin. Mercury says that his employers might just overlook his drinking problem because he gets results.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Mercury outright states that Marcus isn’t training him because he cares. He blatantly notes it’s because he’s just a sadist who wants an easy victim. He notes that Melanie never cared about him and that he was a disgraced soldier for his sadistic tendencies. It doesn’t exactly pan out for Mercury.
  • The Cameo: Cinder and Emerald show up in the end of the final chapter. It directly connects his story to the group story, CRME.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Marcus tells Mercury to always carry bandages just in case you get injured while on the job and your Aura can’t heal it. This is how he bandages his legs after the fight with Marcus.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A literal example in chapter five. The gun that Mercury takes with him is the one that helps him kill Marcus.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Mercury is getting physically abused by his assassin father and verbally abused by his mother. That is only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Darker and Edgier: If you thought Cinder’s home life was bad, just wait until you see Mercury’s. The writer says Mercury’s story is the darkest one so far.
  • Destructive Romance: A violent psychopath and a borderline sociopath get married. How else is it going to be? note 
  • The Dog Bites Back: Mercury ends up fighting and killing Marcus.
  • Domestic Abuse: Mercury suffers it from both his parents. Marcus also abuses Melanie.
  • Doomed by Canon: Marcus will be killed by Mercury. Mercury’s legs also apply.
  • Double-Meaning Title: “Black” in the title refers to the family’s surname, but “black hearts” also refers to how cruel Mercury’s parents are.
  • Downer Ending: The only thing stopping it from being this trope outright is the fact that Mercury will be found by Cinder and Emerald. By the end of his story, Mercury's badly injured and bleeding to death while unable to walk to safety. He would have ended up dead if Cinder didn't show up when she did.
  • Dysfunctional Family: When your dad as a physically abusive, alcoholic, psychopathic assassin and your mom is a verbally abusive, serial-cheating, homophobic sociopath (and you are bisexual), it’s a little difficult to have a normal family dynamic.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: At least before the abuse beat them out of him, Mercury had some moral scruples compared to his father. He didn’t think shooting a girl’s father in front of her would be a good thing. He also didn’t want that to be the last thing she ever witnessed.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Michaels family (Cobalt, Jaylin, and Azure) all have names that relate to the color blue.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Melanie is a technical example at best. Compared to Marcus (the heavy-drinking, physically abusive assassin), it’s not hard to look like a saint. She gets abused by Marcus as well. But she is still terrible. While Melanie doesn’t (usually) physically abuse him, she still verbally abuses Mercury. The author also noted that she has sociopathic tendencies.
  • For the Evulz: He likes getting paid for his job, but the main reason he does what he does it to commit violence as his career in the Atlas military shows. This is also why decides to fight Mercury. He just grows tired of his son insulting him and he decides to kill him “free of charge.”
  • Freudian Excuse: Looking at his home life, it’s surprising that Mercury didn’t come out more messed-up than he did.
  • Hate Sink: Mercury’s parents SUCK. Even one of the tags for the story says they're assholes, with no attempt to make them seem even remotely sympathetic. Marcus is a shameless abuser who treats his family like crap for the heck of it and seems to enjoy being a horrible person to people as shown when he gloats about being hired by Cobalt's father to torture his mother. Even Melanie, who is also being abused by Marcus, doesn't exactly get a lot of sympathy points. She passes the abuse along to Mercury and makes him feel horrible about it as well. Not to mention that she is a serial cheater and has no problem with her husband's profession. Being a raging homophobe also adds to this. In other words, everything about them (especially Marcus) is designed to draw ire from the readers, Making it even more of a relief when they get killed (Marcus by Mercury and Melanie by Cinder).
  • He Knows Too Much: Marcus will kill witnesses if they see him in the middle of a hit. The daughter of one of his marks learned this the hard way.
  • Hidden Depths: Melanie was a nurse and she is an excellent cook. Not that Marcus will take the time to appreciate it.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Those training sessions that Mercury complained that Marcus was going too hard on him for? That was him going easy on him! When Marcus and Mercury get to the final climactic fight, he admits this and does not hold back as he fights him in the next chapter.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The chapter titles are specific lines from “I’m the One” talking about Mercury’s past.
  • Irony: In Chapter 3, Mercury says, “I dare you to find a worse mom than [Melanie] because frankly, I can’t think of one.” He has yet to meet the daughter of Brigit Stark.
  • Jerkass: To quote one of the tags for the story, "Merc's parents are assholes." Just look at the rest of the page for evidence.
  • Kick the Dog: Marcus and Melanie both have moments of this.
    • Marcus has a lot of moments with his family (from pointlessly lashing out at Mel to beating up Mercury for minor things), but one moment comes on a hit. The target had his daughter with him and he planned on killing the daughter so that she wouldn’t be a witness. But before he does that, he makes Mercury kill the target right in front of her. Another moment is when he tells Cobalt that his father hired him to torture his mother to death just to cause him distress.
    • Melanie does so in Chapter 3 when she yells at Mercury for correctly asserting that she should just leave if she doesn’t like her family. In the bonus chapter, she yells at her son for being gay and throws many homophonic slurs at him. She even says Cobalt deserves to be in jail when he kills his homophobic father.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Marcus and Melanie count for The Makings of Team CRME. Even the similarly abusive parent Brigit at her worst did not make Cinder's story as dark as these two make Mercury's. And even when things got serious with Silva, he still had his sarcastic demeanor to lighten the mood slightly. The same thing applies to Kincaid despite being even more vicious than Silva. Also unlike the other three, the Blacks are not Faux Affably Evil in any way. To top it off, Marcus is the first major antagonist that can actually put up a fight.
  • Lack of Empathy: A Black-family trait apparently. All in varying degrees.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Mercury does take many chances to note all the problems with his parents’ marriage and wonders why they still stay together (and how they haven’t killed each other or him).
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: While Melanie absolutely is an awful parent, she is still technically better than Marcus.
  • Maternally Challenged: Melanie is less like Brigit (who was intentionally cruel). She just seems like she’s barely trying to be a good parent and predictably failing miserably. (Not that she cares.)
  • Missing Mom: The story explains that Melanie finally decided to leave her family when Marcus wanted to go up to the mountains.
  • Never Found the Body: Referenced by Marcus as something he taught Mercury. And he shows why Mercury should’ve made sure he died in the burning house.
    ”The target isn't dead… until you see the body.”
  • Never My Fault: Marcus and Melanie both deflect blame for why their marriage is so dysfunctional. Even in the little things. In all honesty, it’s both their faults.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Good on you for killing your homophobic father, Cobalt! He deserved it for abusing you and hiring Marcus to torture your mom! Too bad you're still getting arrested for murder since you didn't have proof of what Jaylin did. That kinda sucks, dude.
  • Obligatory Swearing: Subverted. Once Melanie is out of the story, profanity pretty much disappears. It’s mostly a personality trait of hers.
  • Odd Name Out: This is the only solo fic in The Makings of Team CRME that doesn’t have the main character’s first name the title. While his name is in the title (see Double-Meaning Title), it’s actually his surname which he obviously shares with the rest of his family. It’s hard to say that it’s his name specifically.note 
  • Offing the Offspring: Marcus tries and obviously fails.
  • Oh, Crap!: Marcus has a brief moment of this just before Mercury shoots him in the neck.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Mercury insulted Marcus’ ability to teach him how to fight. And he throws a bottle half filled with whiskey at his son for that insult. Mercury lampshades this by saying he’d never waste alcohol in such a way.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: A bonus chapter shows that Melanie is a huge homophobe. She throws many homophobic slurs to Mercury when he catches him kissing a guy. Cobalt's father, Jaylin, is also homophobic.
  • Precision F-Strike: One from Mercury.
    Marcus: You know why I’m so tough on you during the training?
    Mercury: Because you’re an asshole?
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: When you take away the borderline sociopathy, some of Melanie’s behavior would be more natural for someone who is half as old as Mercury. This often results in a lot of petty arguing and verbal abuse. The third chapter shows this in the most obvious light with her “don’t tell me what to do” attitude. Especially with her screaming at her son, “You’re not the boss of me!” in response to him noting that she shouldn’t put up with Marcus’ abuse and that he’ll end up killing her. And this is after threatening Marcus at gunpoint to come eat the food she worked so hard to make! About the spoiler… 
  • Sadist: Marcus joined the military to get a chance to kill people and became a professional killer to make money off it. He even tortures some of his targets. It starts to rub off on Mercury.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Melanie swears like a sailor and is responsible for all the profanity in the fic aside from only two words. Contrasting Marcus who, surprisingly, only swears once in the fic.
  • Skewed Priorities: If you need any evidence to Melanie’s possible sociopathy, just notice the fact that she complains about Marcus torturing people because the screaming is too loud for her to sleep. And in the third chapter, she shoots at Marcus when he and Mercury have a girl chained up and are preparing to torture her. The reason why? He won’t come upstairs to eat the dinner she cooked.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Marcus and Melanie could have a loud, violent argument one night and then have what is implied to be loud, rough sex the next night. Not that there’s any actual affection behind it.
  • Slasher Smile: Mercury describes Marcus as having a deranged smile when preparing to kill him.
  • Smug Smiler: Marcus does it while he’s fighting Mercury. Clearly, it’s one thing that shows the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: You would think that two parents as bad as the Blacks wouldn’t be allowed to keep Mercury.
  • The Sociopath: The Black family seems to have that as a recurring characteristic.
    • Marcus is confirmed to be this. Mercury literally calls his dad a psychopath, and there’s a lot of evidence for that claim. He worked in the Atlas military exclusively to kill people. This is also why he works as a Professional Killer. He fights with his wife constantly (to the point of beating her) and says that he hates her. He also takes this aggression out on Mercury. He’s very sadistic since he does torture some of the people he kills. He also kills potential witnesses (even children) to his assassinations. And his alcoholism is indicative of substance abuse issues that are common in cases of antisocial personality disorder.
    • Melanie is implied to have sociopathic tendencies. She hates Marcus equally and deflects some verbal abuse onto Mercury by saying that she never wanted him and he should die. She also cheats on Marcus and shamelessly lets him know that. When Marcus is torturing people at night, the only problem she has is that the screaming is too loud for her to sleep. She even threatens Marcus at gunpoint for the the pettiest reason: him not coming upstairs to eat the dinner she cooked because he’s busy torturing a girl. She threatens to kill her if he doesn’t come up because she knows he’s getting paid extra to torture her.
    • With parents like that, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Mercury ended up being one by the end of the fic. Both nature and nurture don’t work in his favor. He even starts showing many signs of it throughout the story. And we all know where that leads…
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Marcus Black used to work in the Atlas military. He only joined so he could kill some people.
  • Start of Darkness: Officially, the point than Mercury snaps is when he fights and kills Marcus.
  • Stepford Snarker: Mercury’s snarking seems to have started as his way of commenting on his terrible home-life. The first chapter especially shows this. He talks about it in his usual sarcastic demeanor, but it’s clear that he has been going through this so long that he has grown tired of angsting about it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mercury gives one to Marcus. See Calling the Old Man Out.
  • Torture Technician: Marcus even shows Mercury some of his techniques. Melanie, however, doesn’t like it… because he does it in the middle of the night when she’s trying to sleep. The screaming of his victims keeps her up.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Mercury asks this of his mother. Honestly, it’s anyone’s guess. Eventually, she does leave Marcus, but it took nearly seventeen years to finally do it.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Marcus regularly beats his wife and will take out female targets if he’s paid. He’ll also kill any potential witnesses whether they are male or female.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Aside from abusing his son, Marcus makes Mercury shoot a man in front of his daughter. Then, he kills her because she witnessed them attacking her father.