Title: The New Circle
Fandoms: Smallville/Secret Circle
Characters: Chloe Sullivan, Clark Kent, Pete Ross, Lana Lang, Whitney Fordman, Greg Arkin, Nell Potter, John Blackwell, Gabe Sullivan, Lex Luthor, Davis Bloome, Jason Teague, Tess Mercer, Oliver Queen, Patricia Swan...
Disclaimer: Don't own
Summary: Chloe Sullivan had a normal-ish life before the circle and John Blackwell turned her life upside down and gave new meaning to the unexplained weirdness that goes on in Smallville. Now life's a witch, she's a part of a circle she's not too sure she wants to be bound to, and not only do they have to worry about Witch-Hunters, but unknowingly to them another circle is on the hunt too.
Wanna thank tenshinrtaiga for betaing!
She couldn't understand why Lex hadn't asked her about Patricia and the group who'd kidnapped her. Greg and the others had informed her that Lex now knew that his girlfriend was actually still alive and if the blonde had been in his shoes, she wouldn't have been handling it as he was. She'd be a wreck. She'd be pissed. She'd be curious. She'd also ask him everything he knew if he'd seen her supposedly dead boyfriend. And the last couple of times she'd met with Lex, it had all been business, with him focusing on studying her ability to Enthrall others, bringing some nameless guys along for her to kiss and he'd gotten enough information to know that yes, her brain was basically talking to those of her victims' as they'd suspected.
Her victim's Amygdala was definitely much more affected than she'd expected. Still, the Amygdala was important for making associations across stimulus modalities (such as a certain scent bringing an associated visual image to one's mind) and seemed to be responsible for the influence of emotional states on sensory inputs.
The last couple of days had been without a Trial and without any word or movement from Lionel Luthor's camp, and while Chloe was glad that she had a little break, the blonde was ever on the alert, feeling that this was the calm before the storm.
"So the school's reopening in a couple of days?" Faye asked. "That sucks."
"Well, our education would suffer if we had to wait much longer." Chloe, new phone in hand, walked down the street to where the group had decided to meet at the Beanery to have lunch together. "Just thethought of all the catching up we'll have to do as it is – daunting."
"That's the price you pay for such a long vacation while the rest of us have to slave over text books." Faye had absolutely no pity. "Well, I gotta go. Talk to you later."
"You too." Chloe ended the conversation and threw her phone in her bag, looking through it to get something, when she noticed someone stop in front of her. The blonde paused for a second before raising her gaze, surprised at who it was. "Tina."
Tina Greer had never liked her. Then again, Tina Greer had never liked anyone who wasn't Lana Lang, but the dislike towards Chloe had become obvious ever since the blonde had started hanging around Lana and Nell had ordered the brunette not to hang around Tina anymore.
"Is Lana okay?" Tina finally spoke, looking very uncomfortable. "She left with Nell so abruptly and now Nell is here but she isn't and Nell won't tell me anything and, well, I'm worried."
Chloe eyed the brunette, licking her lips as she thought of exactly how to answer. "The last I heard from her, she was fine, but I haven't really heard from her in a little bit."
"What if she's hurt?" Tina asked softly.
Chloe eyed the girl thoughtfully. "You're a good friend."
The brunette's eyes widened in shock, obviously not having expected that.
"Despite the issues you two have been having, you're still so worried about her." Chloe reached out and placed her hand on the girl's shoulder. "Lana's got Pete to look after her. They're fine, don't worry about her. The two of them will return here and she'll have a lot to tell you." She stared into Tina's eyes. "Just know that the reason she wasn't able to hang with you before she left wasn't because she didn't want to. She missed you as a friend."
"Really?" Tina gulped.
Chloe nodded, smiling softly as she let her hand fall to her side. "Also, don't mind Nell, she's got a stick stuck up her-"
Tina laughed, nodding. "She does."
The two girls shared a smile for the first time ever.
"Well, I have some place to be." Chloe moved around Tina, looking back in her bag.
"Chloe?" Tina called from behind her.
Chloe turned once more to eye her. "Yeah?"
Tina seemed to be thinking of something before she took in a deep breath. "I'm dating Justin Gaines."
Chloe's eyes widened and she smiled in shock. "Really? That's awesome! I'm so glad for the both of you."
Tina blinked, completely shocked. "You don't mind?"
Chloe tilted her head to the side. "Why would I?"
Tina eyed her before slowly smiling, shaking her head. "Never mind. It doesn't matter. See you later, Chloe." And with that, Tina walked away.
The blonde watched her go, smiling at the fact that two of the loneliest students in Smallville High (she should really start thinking of it as Luthor Academy) had managed to find each other.
"So you have time to talk to the likes of Tina Greer, but you don't have the time to talk to me and catch me up on what's been happening to the Circle in my absence," a voice declared behind her.
Chloe closed her eyes, trying to tell herself not to groan as she turned to face Nell Potter. "Hello."
"Don't 'hello' me, young lady," Nell snapped, arms folded over her chest, face impassive. "Ever since I arrived in town, I've been knocked out, abandoned on my shop floor and then repeatedly kept out of the loop of things I should be on top of. Even Whitney hasn't returned my phone calls. I don't care if things got sloppy during my absence but I'm back in charge now and-"
Chloe couldn't stop the laughter.
Nell's eyes narrowed. "What's so funny?"
"You're not in charge of anything or anyone," Chloe replied. She had to put up with so much crap for too long to deal with Nell and her crap silently. "You never were and you're not going to be. Not of us at least. And considering that Lana ran away from you, she's sick and tired of your tyrannical behavior as well."
"Now listen here, the Thoreaux-"
"Only have two people in their Circle and both of them are under Lana's leadership," Chloe interrupted her. "You want a Circle to control so much, get your own."
"You little!" Nell grabbed Chloe's arm and yanked her off of the street into a darkened, secluded alleyway, a large garbage container the only thing there. "I don't know what's gotten into you but-"
Chloe jerked her arm out of Nell's grip. "Don't ever put your hands on me. Or your magic."
Nell shook her head at her. "You've gotten mouthier."
"I have less tolerance for crap now," Chloe responded easily. "Look. I took care of your shop, it's just as spick and span as when you left it, and if anything I got you more business. So let's just do this civilly and you repay my good work by never trying to talk to me again. How does that sound?"
"You don't seem to understand that even if you're a Balcoin, you're also a Hibbins, and as a Hibbins, you answer to my family. You answer to me." Nell raised her chin. "You are a part of my niece's Circle, and in her absence, I am in control. So you'd better lose your attitude and get in line, little girl."
Chloe was sick and tired of people telling her she was a part of their Circle whether she wanted to be or not. "No."
"No?" Nell sneered.
"No," she repeated.
"I would rethink my attitude if I were you before you get reminded of the fact that I am a direct descendant of Countess Marguerite Isobel Thoreaux and that in Lana's absence, I am your superior."
Chloe smiled ugly at her. If she could take on Lionel Luthor, who had a legitimate hold over her, there was no way she was going to be intimidated by this woman. "I'm a direct descendant of Francis Balcoin. Your ancestor used to grovel at my ancestor's feet." She could feel bits and piece of that other Chloe, the one from the fantasy, still under her skin. "In the eyes of my ancestors, yours were only superior, and not by very much, to a Dabbler."
Nell's eyes flashed in fury. "You little-!"
"You need to rethink what you're planning on doing next." Chloe took a menacing step towards Nell. "Last time you used your magic against me, I only threw you across the room." She channeled Faye's smirk as she leaned forwards, lowering her voice. "I've learnt a few new tricks since then."
Nell sneered but did nothing.
"Welcome back to Smallville." Chloe turned and began walking away before suddenly she heard whispered words and felt her chest starting to constrict. "You-" Chloe turned around to find Nell holding her hand out towards her, whispering. "Stupid-" The blonde flung her arm to the side and Nell's mouth opened in a mute cry as she was flung into the wall. And then, when Chloe swished her wrist in the opposite direction, the woman flew into the opposite wall, cry still inaudible. "Old hag." The lid of the large garbage container opened and Nell's body rose before being flung inside, the lid closing after the sound of her hitting garbage bags could be heard.
The blonde's magic wanted her to be more drastic, to at least seal the trashcan shut so the woman was trapped in there with very little to no oxygen, but Chloe put down the desire and walked away. More and more, she could feel her cool giving way, and it worried her because she didn't know how much more she could take before she seriously snapped.
Rubbing her arm, the feeling of angst growing inside of her, Chloe ignored those around her as she exited the alley and joined the pedestrians, losing herself in the crowd. She wanted to not think about her issues for a second, but her mind kept going to the binding ceremony that Lionel Luthor had tried on her body, and then on her soul in Faye's body. The blonde couldn't help but wonder if the reason it hadn't been successful was because her soul and body had been separated during the intended claiming. And if she was wondering this, she knew that Lionel and Lex must have both thought of it already, and so she was taking Julian's warning to heart and not even pretending to feel safe.
Up ahead of her she noticed Van, who she hadn't seen in quite a while, standing, staring into an alleyway with a blank expression on his face before he turned and stormed away.
Chloe's eyes narrowed in confusion as she pushed passed the crowd and reached the alleyway, staring in, eyes widening at what she saw within. Despite Dawn's reassurance that Van's jealousy had been without reason, the blonde was pressing Brent Greene against the alley wall and engaging in some serious face sucking. Chloe couldn't think of any word to describe the sloppy thing she was witnessing.
Disgust rolled in her stomach, Chloe turning to look in the direction Van had disappeared in before turning her attention back to the alley way and the couple in them, who'd just made a very disturbing groaning sound.
Eyeing around her to make sure no one was looking, Chloe slipped into the alleyway and held her hands up, palms facing each other before she separated them more and then brought them together in a loud clap. Dawn and Brent's heads yanked away from the other before slamming together, the teenagers cursing as they doubled over, holding their heads.
Chloe slipped back into the crowd, unseen, feeling slightly vindicated but really bad for Van. She'd been so busy with her own stuff, she'd let their friendship slip when he needed a friend the most and she was going to have to do better and work towards maintaining his friendship.
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"I can't explain it," Tess hugged the comforter around her tighter, her face and body sporting ugly bruises. "It's like we registered the pain, but it really wasn't pain, just discomfort." The redhead's gaze went to where Oliver sat silently in the corner, staring out of the window. He hadn't spoken much since they'd gotten back and she had a feeling she knew why that was. "Whatever it is that she slipped us, it protected us from the worst of it."
"You're not actually taking her side..." Davis frowned, leaning forward.
"No, what Patricia did was wrong and she'll never be accepted back into our Circle ever," Tess assured him, eyeing the line where her finger had been re-attached. The scar would forever betray what she'd gone through. "But, she did set us free when they would have killed us."
"I still can't believe she turned on us," Jason whispered, leaning against the wall. "Why would she do something like this?"
"For the Firstborn," Tess replied easily. "I-she said something that I don't know whether I should believe or not, but I feel she was telling the truth."
Lex was silent, sitting across from her, still like a stone.
"She said that the magical community depended on the Balcoins; that the Six Original Witch Families are, I guess you could say that they are similar to crystals of power. Like the different pieces of crystal had to come together to form the Balcoin crystal skull, the Six are a unit. If one falters then they all do. It's why the Balcoins have been protected all this time." She made a face, eyeing her brother. "Have you ever heard anything about this from father?"
Lex shook his head, expression pensive. "No."
"That doesn't make any sense considering that John Balcoin tried to kill us all. He would have destroyed the Six and magic at the same time." Davis pointed out.
"Not according to Patty." Tess shook her head. "She said that there were groups, large groups, within each of the Six clans, who had sided with John and were to be untouched. She said they were more than willing to work with him. The Six would still be intact, and yet a whole new rulership would be established."
There was silence as the young adults digested this news.
"Patty said that her father had trained her from birth so that she could do this; prepared her to defend the Balcoins because only if they grow strong again can we regain the strength of magic that we've lost ever since their near extinction as a clan," Tess continued. "Said that Chloe couldn't be bound to our family because it'd be the beginning of the end of our magic."
"That's stupid." Jason frowned. "She has five other siblings who could take over should she be taken."
"Patricia doesn't think so, neither do the psychopaths she's working with." Tess ran her fingers through her hair. "They believe that only with Chloe leading the Balcoin family can things – I don't know. But they're more than willing to kill every single one of us if it means she doesn't have a master left to threaten her taking over her own Circle." She paused. "Patricia helped us escape because, I believe, she was trying to convince us not to fight against their cause, to get us to see her reasons for the things she has done and will continue doing in the Balcoin name. But if we don't stop our mission to bind the Balcion Firstborn I know without a doubt that Patty won't be benevolent next time."
"You've seen this girl, spoken to her," Oliver finally spoke. "Is she really all that special or has Patty just gone insane?"
"She's special," Davis announced a little too quickly before clearing his throat. "I mightn't have ever seen her face, or been properly introduced, but the feeling of that Enthrallment – I can't describe it."
Jason sent him a little look before clearing his throat. "It's not just her Enthrallment, man. There's just something about her. She's smart and pretty and wickedly funny."
"Does Jace have a crush?" Tess raised an eyebrow.
"I'm just saying it as it is." He looked away, folding his arms over his chest.
Her lips curled in a smirk.
Oliver was far from amused, gaze going to Lex. "Lex?"
"That girl not only stopped my father while he was trying to bind her to him, but she knocked him out and would have brought father's Metropolis place down had Julian not stepped in..." Lex paused, thinking it over. "She possesses immense power within her that she's not even begun to understand, much less use. For a girl of her age, she's incredibly mature, collected, and her brain is fascinatingly sharp; it soaks in complex information like a sponge." His gaze went to Jason before turning to Oliver. "She's a puzzle I have yet to solve."
Oliver eyed him before looking away, returning to silence once more.
"Now I'd really like to meet this girl." Tess knew she was taking this whole thing much better than Oliver, but she was a Luthor, and Luthors didn't dwell. They pushed on. "My big brother never thinks anyone is special."
"What if Patricia's right?" Davis suddenly changed the subject, bringing everyone's attention to him. "What if the Six somehow are tied to magic and if one of the Six falls forever, magic will disappear?"
"It would make no sense if that were true." Jason frowned. "I mean, why would Lex's dad want to take her so badly if it could potentially mean that he lost his power? I don't see that happening."
"I agree." Tess nodded. "If that was so, I could see him instead bargaining for a younger sibling maybe."
"Not only that, but I doubt John would put his whole family at risk like that for no good reason other than passing his Trials." Lex frowned, deep in thought. "If that were true then father would have helped John just so that magic would still exist; there is no way that my father would ever risk living the life of a normal mortal."
"That's a valid point." Tess sighed, leaning harder back on the sofa. "So maybe Patricia's just been brainwashed."
"Or maybe there's more to the pact than we've been told." Lex eyed his Circle mates, Julian's words and the image of his father smiling haunting him. "Maybe we only know a part of the story, or a version of it."
"You think they're lying?" Jason pushed away from the wall. "But if so, why would they kidnap her to try and bind the Circle?"
"Something isn't right," Lex informed them, the feeling in his gut growing. "I think, to quote the Arkin boy, we're being played."
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After eating at the Beanery, the group had swung by the garbage dump because, according to Greg, people threw away priceless junk that was still usable and, considering they were broke, "beggars can't be choosers". Chloe and Diana stayed back, pinching their noses shut as a grumbling Whitney and amused Greg eyed the furniture that had been brought to the dump. Most of the pieces were broken or had something hopelessly wrong with them, but there were a couple of tables and seats that were actually salvageable – if they could get the stench out of them.
Finally, the back of Whitney's truck was loaded with a bookshelf that was actually in mint condition (if you didn't count the marks on the side that read: 'Dylan, Age 5, Dylan, Age 6', etc), two mismatched side tables, and a poster of a naked woman in a provocative position that Greg had decided to, by hook or crook, sneak into his bedroom.
The teens then piled into Whitney's truck and rode all the way to the Balcoin Caves, the girls leaving the boys to handle the overly large bookshelf while they took a side table each as they entered through one of the hidden veins. Lights were summoned, the girls giggling at the arguing boys as they slowly made their way to the main cavern and then took a left to a good sized cave adjacent to it. This cave was one of the least humid of the many different caverns, and offered a large open space coupled with a smooth floor.
In the middle of the cavern, resting on the floor, were some boxes they'd already brought over with their books and such.
Considering that the Talon was now being considered "Thoreaux Circle Territory", especially now that Nell was back, the group had decided that the best place to start up their own base was in the caves. Not only were they hidden and private, but they didn't seem to allow passage to anyone Chloe didn't want inside. That made it one of the safest places.
Greg and Whitney groaned as they finally were able to rest the overly large bookshelf on the floor, pressed up against the smooth wall.
Diana had already abandoned her side table and instead was sitting on the ground, browsing through one of the boxes of her things that the Circle from Chance Harbor had brought for her.
Already in the room was a table they'd managed to save from the dump two days earlier, and it was already covered with different magical tools.
What they really needed now were a couple of really comfortable places to sit. Greg had mentioned bean bags, and while they weren't exactly the comfiest in Chloe's mind, they seemed like the smartest option considering their budget and the fact that neither of the girls wanted to sit on something that'd been in the dump.
"She really is cheating on him?" Diana gasped, not having met Dawn or Van but up to date with the situation thanks to Chloe. "That's horrible! You were going crazy trying to think of an original way to get them back together."
"All that mental anguish for nothing," Chloe mourned, eyeing the book in her hand as she helped Diana begin to place them on the book shelf. She paused and flipped through the pages, and yet they were in old German and there were no pictures to give a hint as to what the writing was about. "Whitney, is this a bestiary or a herbology book?"
Whitney looked up from where he was bringing a box of books closer for them, eyeing the book in her hand which was one of the ones he'd contributed to their slowly growing collection. "Herbology."
"I'm going to try and put all of the herbology in this section here and the bestiaries in that one." She motioned to the parts she was referring to.
"Why don't I handle those since it'll take you longer to try and figure which is which?" Whitney offered. "More than a couple of them are in old German, and out of all of us I'm the only one who can read it." He snorted. "One good thing my father did for me I guess, making sure I could read and speak it since I was a kid."
"Thanks." She smiled as she handed him the books, giving his back a little pat before going to another box and pulling out a package, eyeing it as she took in a deep breath.
Greg raised an eyebrow, coming to stand next to her, eyeing the wrapped package. "What's all the sighing about?"
"I asked my mother about the Hibbins book of shadows," she admitted, everyone turning their gazes on her, in particular Whitney who'd spent much of his time with her searching for it. "She had it with her the whole time."
"Is that it?" Diana asked curiously, eyeing the package.
"No," Whitney answered, recognition on his features. "That's what John Balcoin sent her to Edge City for. He died before he could give her an address to send it to him."
Greg's eyes widened. "Have you opened it? Do you know what it is?"
"I don't need to. Somehow, somehow I know what this is." Chloe tightened her grip on the package. "Deep down inside, I've always known what it was."
"What is it?" Diana asked softly.
Chloe didn't answer, merely finally tore the package open and pulled the contents free, silence falling on the teens as they drew closer to get a better look.
Whitney's eyes widened.
Diana brought a hand to her mouth as she gasped.
Greg blinked. "Damn."
There, in Chloe's hands, was the Balcoin book of shadows.