Title: The New CircleFandoms: Smallville/Secret CircleCharacters: 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...Rating: TDisclaimer: Don't ownSummary: 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!
Diana had wanted to go with Chloe, but there was only a limited amount of space in that luxury car of Lex's and she knew that with Whitney and Gabe there, Chloe would be fine. Plus, the best way she could help was staying here with the others and helping, not having a nervous break down like she wanted to. Clark and Greg, the other two members of Chloe's unofficial Circle, were a little worryingly used to this. Then again, Diana could understand given the fact that, like her own Circle, they'd been attacked too many times and had to defend themselves. Still, Clark seemed the most affected by what was going on, the boy kept on shaking his head as he stared at the bodies.
She felt very much out of place amongst these people and wondered if this was what Cassie had felt at first when she'd arrived in Chance Harbor and had been dragged into their magical upheavals. Adam, Melissa, Nick, Faye and herself must have seemed just as weird and different and yet intriguing as Chloe's friends did, she supposed. And it made Diana miss her friends and feel guilty for just running away on them. Still, with everything that was going on, she couldn't go back, not now. Not while she still couldn't sleep without nightmares of killing her own father. She was terrified at what she was and who she could become given the fact that her biological father was a killer and so was the man who'd raised her as his own. She'd killed when she'd had to – and while she was sure that none of her spells had killed anyone tonight, they were all dead – and she felt horribly numb to it all.
Hadn't she always tried to talk to Cassie about this? Hadn't this always scared her about the blonde?
Hugging herself, Diana took in a deep breath, trying to calm herself…
…And that was when the bodies on the ground began to melt.
"What the-?" Greg stepped back and away from the body he'd been dragging towards Whitney's truck, eyes wide.
All around them, the skin melted off of their bodies, their bones glowing a ghoulish blue as they too began to disintegrate into nothingness.
"Who's doing this?" Clark wanted to know, looking around him.
"Don't look at me," Diana hissed when his blues rested on her.
"Someone's going to a lot of trouble to make sure there's no evidence that tonight ever happened," Moira declared, eyeing everything with way too much calmness.
Palm itching, Diana scratched it as she gazed down before her eyes widened in shock at the symbol that had tattooed itself there next to her Balcoin symbol. "What is going on?"
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"He's losing it," Tess declared as they lay in bed, bodies sweat covered, chests heaving as they both came down from what would be the first of many pleasurable moments they'd share that night. "None of the decisions he's made since Pat's death make any sense. We should all have gone to Smallville, sussed the Firstborn out, and taken her back by her hair if need be. Not this cloak and daggers shit he's doing instead."
Arms folded behind his head, Oliver stared at the ceiling. "I'm sure Baldy has something planned."
"I think losing Pat affected him far more than he's letting on," Tess replied.
Oliver narrowed his eyes slightly as he turned his head towards his long-time girlfriend. "What are you getting at?"
"Well, like you like to remind everyone, I'm half Luthor." Tess turned her head towards him, meeting his gaze head-on. "Means I have the bloodright to rule this Circle if the reigning Luthor proves himself unstable and unable to do what any leader must."
Oliver eyed his girlfriend in silence, not backing her up and yet not discarding the idea either.
Suddenly the door was kicked in and before either of them could turn to look towards it, twin bolts of magic shot into them, rendering the lovers unconscious.
The figure in the doorway chuckled, hands brushing against each other. "That was way too easy… Makes me think bringing down the rest of this Circle will be boring."
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Thankfully, while she'd needed some stitches, the doctor didn't think it'd scar. Chloe was relieved because she wouldn't want another physical reminder of what her life was like now. The scars on her hands were enough of that. Deputy Gary Watts was there to take her and her father's statements about the "mugging" that they'd been subjected to and she could see the fact that he believed this mugging and the attack she'd suffered in the Torch were related somehow. He wasn't saying anything, probably because he didn't want to worry her but Chloe could see the wheels turning behind his eyes and hoped that he didn't get too close. Especially since she had no idea what sort of explanation was going to be given for the bodies in Miller's Field. Sure, they'd set the place ablaze last time to conceal the bodies of the out-of-towners, but this time there was nothing to burn but the bodies and that would leave evidence. Also? These weren't out-of-towners. They were people from Smallville. This wasn't going to go away as quickly and quietly as it had last time.
"Are you sure you don't remember anything else?" Deputy Watts wanted to know, eyeing her steadily. "You seem like there's something on your mind that you're not sharing with me."
"She just got attacked and her throat was nearly sliced open by some maniac," Whitney butted into their conversation a little tersely as he arrived with a cup of coffee for Chloe, still shirtless given the fact that he'd used his to help stop her blood flow. "Give her a break. You're acting like she's the suspect and not the victim."
"Whitney…" Chloe sent him a little look before turning her greens on Deputy Watts. "I'm just worried about my father. He's been in with the doctor for longer than I would have expected."
Deputy Watts put away his notepad and gave her a little smile, completely ignoring Whitney and his comments since he'd already gotten the boy's witness statement. "I'm sure he'll be alright." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a card, handing it to her. "If anything else comes back to you about your attacker, no matter how unimportant it might seem, please give me a call."
"Of course." She nodded, eyeing the card before pocketing it.
"And take care." He eyed her oddly as he took a couple of steps backwards. "You seem to attract trouble." And with that he turned and left, nodding to his colleague who taking statements from Lex and Jason, who were playing the part of good Samaritans who'd stepped in and helped when they'd seen the mugging happening.
"You seem to attract trouble?" Whitney made a face, glaring at the deputy's back as he walked away. "Now we know why he's not the Sheriff."
Chloe leaned her head against Whitney's bare shoulder, ignoring the pain in the side of her neck as she did so, taking a sip of her coffee.
"Don't read anything into this," Whitney grumbled as he wrapped an arm around her shoulder.
"Wouldn't dare to," she promised, closing her eyes and just accepting the grudging comfort he was offering.
"What the hell are we gonna do about those two?" Whitney wanted to know, gaze on where Lex and Jason were talking to each other. "Because I'm figuring the cat is definitely out of the bag by now."
"Yep." Chloe nodded, letting out a deep sigh. "Where are the others?"
"Probably dealing with our little issue," Whitney declared easily, as if they weren't talking about numerous bodies. "This is becoming a routine." His gaze narrowed on Jason and Lex, who were nodding at each other. "They might have come to help you but I still don't trust them. It's in their best interest to keep you alive."
"Exactly," Chloe whispered, reaching out to wrap her arm around his waist as Jason and Lex turned towards them, the men making their way towards the teens. She waited for them to get close before announcing, "I know why you're in Smallville."
Jason looked away, eyes dark.
Lex kept his blues on her face. "I figured that you did the moment you introduced me to your sister."
"And why is that?" she asked softly.
His lips curled slightly. "Your eyes gave you away. They were defiant and calculating, not open and intrigued anymore."
"I was right, you are observant." Chloe pulled away from Whitney, standing as tall as she could while being loomed over by all these much taller men. "And while I'm grateful for you two coming to help me, I need you to know right now that no matter what John Balcoin did or promised – I belong to no one but myself."
Lex's smile was more amused. "It isn't the time to talk about this. We have more pressing things we need to talk about."
"Like what exactly?" Whitney wanted to know.
"Normally I'd tell you to butt out," Jason finally spoke, returning his dark gaze on Whitney. "But you bound yourself to her so if it relates to her, it relates to you."
"How did you-?" Whitney's eyes widened.
"You don't realize it." Lex was obviously fascinated as he stared between them. "Did you not sense the bloodlust?"
Whitney's face proved that he didn't.
Lex chuckled, shaking his head. "Fascinating. He has no recollection."
"No recollection of what?" Whitney turned to look at Chloe, eyes narrowed. "What's he talking about?"
"Your eyes – and our-" Her gaze went to his star-scarred palm before rising to his blues as she licked her lips nervously. "They were glowing red."
"What do you remember about the fight?" Jason wanted to know.
"That I was fighting." Whitney brought his hand to his head. "That's it. It's not like I blacked out or anything. I was just-"
"Stronger than you thought you were?" Lex guessed. "Faster? Angrier?"
Whitney's eyes narrowed as his hand dropped limply to his side. "What of it?"
"He's her Right Hand." Lex turned to Jason, lips curled in a fascinated smile. "I've only ever read about this – it's amazing to see it in person."
"Right Hand?" Chloe narrowed her eyes, just as confused as Whitney.
"We have a lot to talk about on our little date." Lex didn't answer her question, instead just smiled that smile of his. "You might think of us as the enemy, Chloe, but we're not."
"You need us," Jason replied ominously.
"I need the bathroom." Chloe knew she was running away from the issue (even if momentarily) but she didn't care, stalking towards the bathroom and slipping inside, locking the door behind her as she strode towards the sink. Turning on the faucet, she splashed water onto her face, concentrating on breathing in and out as her greens rose to her pale reflection. She looked like a terrified, half-drowned rat; all pale and wet and trying to regulate her erratic breathing. "'Mirror, mirror,' the Queen pled, 'Who's in way over her head?'" It was no surprise a half-hysterical giggle escaped her lips as she shook her head and lowered her gaze to the porcelain sink bowl.
"Oh, I don't know about that," a voice spoke causing her to freeze. "All things considered, you've been doing pretty well in my eyes."
Slowly Chloe raised her gaze to the mirror, finding her reflection eyeing her with some amusement.
The reflection flashed her a smile. "You're not screaming. I'm so relieved. Usually that's the first reaction."
Chloe fought that very instinct, gulping it down. "I'm guessing you're not really my reflection."
"Bingo!" Whatever the hell she… it… was seemed far too cheery. "I'm here to congratulate you on passing the Entrance Exam with flying colors. Your father didn't do half as well, especially considering his were all there because he'd paid them."
"What?" Chloe had a feeling that, with the way her life was going, she should get used to being continually confused.
"And you see, that makes it even better. You have no idea!" Her reflection giggled, eyes tinting crimson. "You're being Tried."
"Tried?" Chloe narrowed her greens, relieved for the crimson of the reflection's orbs if only because it helped distinguish them.
"You're the oldest living Balcoin, which has admittedly sped up the process, but you were going to have to go through this some time." The other her shrugged as if this really wasn't that big of a deal. "But it has been sped up and considering you passed the Entrance Exam so smashingly without even realizing you were having a test, well, I think you'll do your bloodline proud and probably won't die."
"Die?" Chloe's voice cracked at that word. "Probably?!"
"You don't think the Balcoins would allow someone weak to be the Matriarch of their bloodline, do you?" Her reflection scoffed. "The Trials were designed to make sure that only someone worthy would be the oldest, and thus the leader. If you fail, you die, and the next child closest to you in age will have to go through the Trials and so forth until someone wins. Why do you think John only had one symbol burnt on his palm? He wasn't the Firstborn, but he was the one who made it through the Trials."
"What if none of us win?" Chloe wanted to know.
"The Balcoins are a proud family. They would prefer for their bloodline to die rather than for it to be known for any sort of weakness."
Her grip tightened on the sink as she fought not to break down into hysteria as everything seemed to crash down all around her. "Every time I learn more about the Balcoins, I like them less and less."
"No one ever said the Balcoins were ever well liked," her reflection confided. "Feared and respected, yes, but well liked?"
This whole chirpiness thing was getting on Chloe's nerves as her greens rose to those crimson. "You mind changing back to whatever you really look like? You're freaking me out."
There was a pause as the bright smile and sunshine melted into a smirk and shadows, her features shifting and contorting, barely human anymore. And then it wasn't; a large serpent staring at her with crimson eyes, a forked tongue making an appearance as it hissed at her before springing forwards in attack.
A scream escaped her lips as Chloe threw herself backwards, back hitting the stall and the girl's foot slipping, ending with her falling hard on her ass on the tiled floor.
The door flew open despite it having been locked before, Jason and Whitney the first ones in.
"What happened?" Whitney went to her on bent knee.
Chloe stared up wide-eyed past him at the mirror.
Jason looked around, finding nothing; no reflection nor image on the mirror anymore.
Lex stood in the doorway and yet his gaze was on his palm, an unreadable expression on his face before he raised his blues to her face. "What did you see when you went to Marx?"
Jason turned to look at him with a curious expression.
Chloe continued staring up at the mirror, wide-eyed and terrified.
"Chloe," Lex hissed, causing the blonde to finally jerk her gaze to him. "What did you see when you were in Marx's vault?"
"How did you-?" She then shook her head. "You mean the avatar?"
"Yes." Lex stepped forward. "What was your avatar?"
"My avatar?" Chloe made a face, shaking her head. "There – The avatar in the room when I was there was a snake."
Jason turned towards Chloe. "A snake?"
"With wings." Lex wasn't asking her.
"It only had wings after I cut myself on its fangs. That's when the wings tore out of its sides and it started to fly," Chloe responded, confused. "Why-?"
Lex didn't answer, just merely raised his palm towards her, showing the girl the tattoo on the meaty bit under his palm. It was a tattoo of a winged snake.
"What-?" Chloe sat up straighter, looking at her own palms. Nothing.
Jason stared down at his palm before turning it to face her. It had the same symbol as Lex's.
"What the-?" Whitney hissed, showing her his, which was somewhat different, the star decorating it's chest area and bleeding into its wings.
"What happened in here?" Lex entered the bathroom and closed the door behind him, locking it. "Why were you screaming?"
"I-uh-my reflection-" To be truthful, she had no idea how to explain what had just happened without sounding as if the stress was getting to her and making her hallucinate. "My reflection told me I was being Tried because I'm the oldest living Balcoin and then it turned into a snake and attacked me – or I think it attacked me. It scared the crap out of me!"
"There's nothing there now." Whitney frowned, standing and going to knock on the mirror just to be sure, eyeing his own reflection warily.
Jason and Lex were sharing looks that revealed the fact that they not only knew what was going on here, but were conversing in a way the younger couldn't.
"What is it?" Chloe glared up at them.
Jason let out a little sigh, running his hand over his head. "You shouldn't be Tried this early in the game, but at least tonight's events make sense now."
"You're saying that that group attacked Chloe because of this Trial?" Whitney turned his back on the mirror and then reconsidered, moving away from it carefully. "What does one thing have to do with the other?"
"I have to admit that I'm somewhat ignorant of the Balcoin Trials, but I do know that the Firstborn has to go through certain Trials placed upon the Balcoin bloodline by Francis Balcoin to ensure that no weak person would rule the bloodline," Lex declared, eyeing Chloe with interest. "He's your ancestor, a man so evil he makes your father and mine look like kids playing with playdough. He was extremely powerful, the turning point for the Balcoin family. Much blood was shed by his hands, much of it innocent. Many Circles hated him as much as they feared and admired his power."
"Some say that Francis Balcoin was the first to use dark magic; that his evil created it and passed it down his bloodline," Jason murmured softly.
"He created these Trials so that no weak person would ever head the Balcoin family." Lex eyed Chloe as if she were some interesting new piece of scientific substance that needed to be analyzed. "I'm supposing that tonight was some sort of initiation to the Trials."
"The snake called it my Entrance Exam." Chloe slowly pushed herself up to her feet, hugging herself as she stared up at him, trying to digest all this information. "Said that I was doing better because "mine" weren't paid like my father's were."
Jason's gaze lowered to his palm. "I'm figuring Scales was talking about us."
"So what? Everyone that fought tonight is somehow a part of these Trials?" Whitney wanted to know. "And to prove it, we all have this winged snake on us? And why do we have that? What does whatever she saw in Marx's vault have to do with any of this?"
Whitney always asked good questions and Chloe needed the answers to them all.
Lex and Jason shared looks once more before Lex turned his blues on the younger two. "From what I know, I believe that somehow when we helped you tonight, we unintentionally bound ourselves to helping you through the Trials and these are our entrance passes."
"Think of the nightclubs where they stamp your hand when you go VIP." Jason shrugged. "Same concept applies."
Chloe and Whitney were the ones who exchanged looks this time before Chloe turned her greens on them. "What's the big deal with the feathered snake?"
"What did your father tell you about Marx when he sent you there?" Jason wanted to know.
"That Marx had a package for him and that I was the only who could retrieve it because of my blood," Chloe responded. "I don't understand what this has to do with the winged snake."
"Trust a Balcoin to forget to mention that Marx is the top supplier of Devils Root and safe-keeps unmentionable objects of power for people who pay him ridiculous prices to keep their things hidden – and they only do so because his security system is a Blood Sprite." Jason sneered, shaking his head.
"Blood Sprite?" Whitney prompted.
"It's a creature created by a highly powerful witch to safeguard important treasures. They're very rare because it takes immense power to create them and can go horribly wrong and kill the caster. But many have died trying because those things are highly effective at what they do," Lex offered. "They remember any blood they've ever tasted, no matter how many hundreds of years have gone by, and one of its unique quirks is that it takes on the resemblance of what it sees when it sees us and takes our blood."
"Wait what?" Chloe's eyes widened in horror. "It sees me as a winged snake?"
"When in this form they call the sprite an Avatar because it's a temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity." Jason folded his arms over his chest. "Many of the more powerful families pay to bring their children to a Blood Sprite to see their children's Avatars because they feel it will give them an idea of what those children will accomplish."
"So each form has a meaning?" the girl asked, wanting to know.
"Nothing written in a book." Lex chuckled darkly. "But when an Avatar takes on a similar shape to an Avatar of a past witch of great importance, it's taken to mean that that witch has a similar destiny to the one who shared its Avatar."
Things were slowly falling into place horribly all around her, a sinking feeling weighing the pit of her stomach. "Who's the last witch whose Avatar was a winged snake?"
"There's only ever been one other witch with that Avatar," Jason declared softly.
Whitney narrowed his blues at them. "Well? Who was it?"
Lex eyed the both of them before letting out a sigh. "Francis Balcoin."