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!
Everyone's eyes were on her.
It was late and everyone who wasn't staying over at the house had gone home and Chloe could feel everyone staring at her. The fact that apparently everyone had seen what had happened to her in the throne room threw her for a loop, especially since Scales had told her the complete opposite – that if she decided to exchange places with another Balcoin, no one would know what she'd done. They would have, and Chloe couldn't help the relief in her veins that she hadn't given into Scales' tempting offer. She'd never be able to look any of them in the face ever again if she'd done the trade and they'd see it in action.
After she'd gotten back, she'd been crowded by everyone and she'd found out that Diana's palm had the matching (yet larger) Eye of Ra on it, and had heard someone mention that it meant Diana was her Eye. Apparently that was why she could get through to Chloe in certain circumstances when others couldn't, like when Chloe (under Francis Balcoin's influence) had tried killing Diana and yet had stopped – and during the test with the, uh, Boogey Man.
It was probably also why they'd developed such a close relationship so quickly.
Her gaze kept to her palm, rubbing the Hamsa and Eye of Ra designs that now graced her heptagon star.
"So, since no one else seems like they want to ask this question..." Faye sat up straighter. "I think I speak for everyone when I ask what the heck are these Hands and Eyes and stuff? Because we don't have anything like that in our Circle." She paused for a second, almost as if second guessing herself, narrowing her eyes slightly as she leaned closer to Jake. "Do we?"
"Not that I know of." Jake wasn't even looking at her, instead eyeing Chloe as his orbs went to her hand and then to her face. "When I was working for the Witch-Hunters, I never heard about anything like that either."
"So what exactly does it all mean?" Melissa reached over and grabbed Diana's hand, eyeing the symbol on it. "Is it Trial related?"
"No." Gabe stood and went to sit on the ottoman at Chloe's feet, reaching his hand out and brushing some blonde hair from her face. "It's Matriarch related."
Chloe looked up at him, feeling so numb and confused and scared ever since the episode in the Balcoin Caves – something she had yet to tell anyone of.
"John, despite being the Patriarch of the Balcoin lineage, didn't have his Hands or Eye – to be accurate, it's actually Third Eye – or something like that. It was because he couldn't bring himself to trust anyone who wasn't blood. There was no way he could bond with someone in the way that's needed for the assignations to be granted. He always planned on his children taking those positions. It is only members the Circle of the Matriarch or Patriarch of the Balcoin family who have those designations." Gabe cleared his throat. "Cassie would have been one of his Hands, he said she had the potential to be a vicious, cunning soldier, perfect for a Hand. He said – there was a son he mentioned once – said he was sure he'd be the other Hand."
"Did he ever mention a name?" Diana asked softly, rubbing her Eye of Ra softly.
Gabe shook his head. "John was keeping his plans close to his chest." His smile was sad. "Even though he knew I'd die for him, he didn't trust me with them."
Chloe could see the pain in her father's face and it hurt her because she realized she was acting just like John. Gabe had given up his own life for the both of them, and neither of them had treated him with the respect or trust he deserved. She reached up and cupped his cheek, giving him a teary smile as she rubbed his cheek with her thumb.
He gave a watery smile, pressing his hand to hers and moving to press a kiss to her palm.
Chloe used her free hand to wipe at a rebellious tear that had escaped her eyes and raced down the side of her face.
"So, okay, we get it. They're positions that only certain Matriarchs or Patriarchs of the Balcoin family get due to some sort of mystical bond with the head of the family – or in this case Chloe." Cassie hugged a pillow to her chest as she eyed them all carefully. "Moira, you said something about warriors and advisors?"
"Yes..." Moira paused for a moment, eyeing Gabe and Chloe before clearing her throat and nodding, turning towards Cassie. "As I said, for the Balcoins everything is strength and power. It's about reigning; ruling. Everyone here saw that Francis Balcoin even had his own throne, and if you're ever able to read about the Balcoins, especially during his reign, you'll see how they were considered Magical Aristocracy."
Gabe cleared his throat and went to sit next to his daughter, an arm around her shoulder. "As were the other members of the six original Witch Families."
"Six original Witch Families?" Adam narrowed his eyes. "I've never heard about that."
"Lex mentioned it to me." Chloe leaned against her father, drawing some comfort from him for the first time since she'd found out the truth about him. "He said that the Balcoins and Luthors were two of the Six originals – and that's why we think we can't use our powers against each other."
Moira appeared quite displeased with this. "It could be."
"Who are the other four?" Diana asked a very good question, she always did.
"Many of their names have changed, like Balcoins to Blackwell, to protect their identities," Gabe admitted. "The Luthors were the only ones who were arrogant enough to keep their surnames." He raised an eyebrow. "The other four were Tentagels, the Sigans, the le Fays and Wyllts."
"Le Fay..." Melissa's eyes widened. "As in Morgan le Fay? From the Arthurian legends?"
Moira nodded. "She was one of the greatest witches of the le Fay bloodline."
"Oh wow." Faye blinked, leaning back. "I never read any of the old history books but Melissa and I watch Merlin faithfully – and Morgana is awesome. I can't believe that's actually based on reality! Means Merlin and Arthur were real too."
"Merthur for the win!" Melissa laughed as she and Faye knuckle-bumped.
Faye chuckled wickedly. "Two sides of the same coin, young warlock, destined!"
Jake and Adam sent each other uneasy looks, obviously understanding whatever weird language those two were speaking and not at all comfortable with whatever they were saying.
Diana's lips twitched as she watched the best friends, obviously not only understanding what they were talking about, but highly amused with it.
"Getting back to the point," Cassie sighed, shaking her head at those two before returning her gaze to Moira, "do the other Six operate in the same way then? With Hands and such?"
"While the Patriarch Circles do have certain assignments, they have different ways of classification and purposes." Gabe sighed, leaning forwards, elbows resting on his knees. "As far as I know, the Luthor Circle's resemble chessmen. A King or Queen (which, like Balcoins, are usually stronger than their male counterparts), a Rook, a Knight and a Bishop." He sent Chloe a little look before clearing his throat. "When Lionel killed his parents to assume leadership of the family and become the Patriarch Circle, he assumed the position of King, while Faora Bloome became the Rook, Edward Teague the Knight and Robert Queen, the Bishop."
"I managed to track down the descendants of the Sigans and from what I was able to observe in my travels, their categories are gemstones." Moira ran her fingers through her hair. "The leader is called the Clear, since Clear Quartz is a power and amplifying stone, and they also have the Amethyst, who is their seer/dreamer. The Bloodstone is the champion warrior, and the Hematite is their healer. I was told that these aren't fixed stones because in each new Patriarch/Matriarch Circle there mightn't be people with these specific abilities, but once they are discovered and chosen then they are given the name of whatever stone fits their ability."
"Is it always three?" Chloe asked, having noticed the pattern. "Other than the head of the Circle, there are always only three others."
"Three is a magical number, of beginning and end. It is why Circles are Six, since they are a beginning, middle, and end – which only begins the cycle over once more with a new beginning," Gabe responded.
"It's kind of mean, though. What about the other two who weren't chosen to be anyone special?" Faye made a face. "What are they? Chopped liver?"
"Everyone has their purpose in the Circle, just some aren't given names." Moira raised her chin.
"Well, they should." Faye, ever the one to argue, grumbled as she folded her arms over her chest.
"What I don't get is why this is happening." Chloe sat up, leaning forwards, uneasy. "I'm not building a Circle, I don't want one; that is something that John and I have in common. So why is it that Whitney and Diana are getting chosen and marked like this when it didn't happen to him?"
There was silence, Moira and Gabe unable to answer or look at her.
Jake cleared his throat, running his hand over his head. "Has anyone stopped and wondered whether this pact involving her is to blame?" He blinked when everyone turned to look at him. "I-uh-I'm probably completely off base here – but I try to think of this how it would be in the Witch-Hunters and I can't help but – uh..." He licked his lips, eyeing them all before turning his blues on Chloe as he scooted closer. "You're the Matriarch of the Balcoin lineage, right? That means that some day you're supposed to have a Circle of your own, even if you don't want that right now."
She nodded, scooting closer as well, interested in what he was thinking.
"But with that pact that your father made, he's tied you to a Circle that you wouldn't be the head of, it wouldn't be your Circle." Jake took in a deep breath. "Whitney only got the mark of the Hand after your Trials started, right?"
Chloe nodded once more.
"See? It makes sense!" Jake grinned brightly. "From what I'm understanding, the Trials are not only to prove that you're capable of being the new head or leader of the clan... They also show that you're worthy of it... And when you pass that means you will be ready for your own Circle – which would be impossible if you're bound to someone else's Circle. It's probably why you've been so against binding yourself to the Circle here, even though you never realized it. Subconsciously you knew you were the Firstborn – or at least your magic did – and knew that you couldn't be bound to a Circle that wasn't your own. So to prevent that from happening your magic made you feel uncomfortable and not want to bind the Circle."
This... It was making so much sense!
Hadn't John been adamant against her binding the Circle as well?
He'd known that if anything happened to him, she would be the next one in line...
"So, while you're in the middle of the Trials that are readying you to take over – your magic is working to try and correct things for when you finally pass the tests." Jake leaned back and chuckled in awe. "It's brilliant!"
Adam raised an eyebrow. "Share the revelation with the rest of the class."
"I might be wrong, this is all conjecture, but if I'm right it means that..." Jake turned his blues on Chloe. "You can't be forcefully bound to a Circle – if you're already a part of one."
Chloe eyes widened at the possibility.
"But there's a blood oath." Cassie frowned. "It can't be as easy as that. If it were, then she could have just bound herself to the Circle here and everything would be fine."
Jake's smile disappeared as he leaned back. "I did say it was a possibility."
"And one that shouldn't be discarded lightly." Moira stood and walked away, leaving everyone in the living room.
"So is this whole Firstborn business only really concerning the Firstborns of the Six original families?" Adam wanted to know. "Because other than Cassie I haven't heard of any more Blakes."
"There are other branches of the Blake family still out there." Gabe shook his head. "I know a family out in South Dakota, good people. She's not the last of her family. But to answer your question it's important in every family if you're the oldest living bloodkin, yet not as important – not to the same degree – as it is for the Six."
"This is all interesting – don't get me wrong – but no one's explained the whole Hands and Eye thing yet." Cassie raised an eyebrow.
"Right." Gabe nodded, eyeing the young blonde. "The Balcoin's system used body parts because they believed that every member of their family was a piece of the Balcoin body as a whole. It was also why the weak were cut down quickly. They were removed just as quickly and thoroughly as one would cancerous cells once they've been detected in one's body. They believed weakness was infectious and could destroy them." He cleared his throat. "They've also employed humans as protectors, unlike other witch families, due to the fact that there are some spells that affect those with magic, so those without would be immune and able to fight and defend."
It was why Gabe and his family had served the Balcoin family for generations.
"But getting back to what I was saying..." Gabe's gaze was serious. "Chloe's the Soul. Yes, she's the First or Firstborn – the First is what it's called when the Matriarch/Patriarch isn't exactly born first, like John – and if she passes the Trials and is accepted as the head of the Balcoin family, her position will officially be the Soul. It's why the Firstborn has to prove his or her strengths via the Trials, because only with a strong Soul (which is where it is believed your magic comes from) can the body flourish." He reached out for Chloe's hand and eyed the designs there. "The Hands are next. They're both warrior champions and yet in different ways. It's hard to explain. While one is the Right Hand and the other the Left Hand, they both will have different symbols to represent themselves and give us a better understanding of their purpose. Whitney's has manifested as the Hamsa, also known as the Hand of Fatima, the Hand of Mary, or the Hand of Miriam. It's an open right hand, immediately letting us know which hand he is. It's a recognized and well-used sign of protection, especially against the evil eye." He let go of Chloe's hand. "Has anyone realized that his symbol isn't identical to Chloe's?"
"Mine doesn't have the Balcoin symbol in it," Chloe pointed out.
"No, I wasn't referring to that, that's to be expected. He isn't a Balcoin but he's been bound to the budding Matriarch Balcoin Circle, so the symbol is to show that he isn't Blood but Claimed." Gabe didn't seem to think that this was a big deal. "What I meant was the fingers on his symbol are spread while the fingers on Chloe's are closed together, which shows that he is a ward against evil for her, a personal protector who brings her good luck. The five fingers represent a lot of things like the five senses, marriage, and the holy prayers, just to name a few"
"Marriage?" Chloe's eyes widened. "I'll never live it down if he finds out!"
"I don't know why this surprises you." Gabe eyed his daughter thoughtfully. "Marriage is all about claiming someone, about bringing them into the family. Balcoins usually only ever have other Balcoins in their Circle, unless the person is married to them, so I can understand your magic reacting to your bond with Whitney in the way it would a marriage. It makes perfect sense, you become one. It's why he feels your pain when others don't."
Chloe could feel herself going redder and redder. "Dear god."
Gabe chuckled in some amusement at that before turning his gaze on Diana, reaching out for her hand. "You are the Eye, which has manifested itself interestingly enough as the Eye of Ra."
Diana's eyes widened and she got up, coming towards him as she placed her hand in his, letting him observe her symbol.
"The Eye of Ra is the feminine counterpart to the sun god Ra and a violent force that subdues Ra's enemies. The Eye is an extension of Ra's power, equated with the disk of the sun, but it also behaves as an independent entity, which can be personified by a wide variety of Egyptian goddesses, including Hathor, Sekhmet and others. Applying this, for the Balcoins the Eye usually is always a sibling with a strong maternal instinct, and her violent aspect defends the Soul against the agents of disorder that threaten his or her rule. This dangerous aspect of the Eye goddess is often represented by a lioness or by the uraeus, or cobra, a symbol of protection and royal Eye of Ra was involved in many areas of ancient Egyptian religion, including in the cults of the many goddesses who are equated with it. Its life-giving power was celebrated in temple rituals, and its dangerous aspect was invoked in the protection of the pharaoh, of sacred places, and of ordinary people and their homes."
Diana's eyes widened. "So I'm not just an advisor, I'm a protector as well?"
"The Eye and Hands are three protectors, though in different ways and serve different functions as well," Gabe clarified. "It's interesting because the Eye of Ra is an aggressive and protective symbol, a dangerous power that protects Ra from evil. In the legends, Ra's enemies are the forces of chaos, which also includes human, but also extended to deities who mightn't even be considered evil, just a threat to Ra." He eyed the brunette, who appeared disturbed. "You feel it, don't you? The fierce protectiveness? It's why you're the Eye of Ra and not, let's say, the Eye of Horus, which is more healing in nature."
Diana narrowed her eyes. "As far as I can tell, the Eye of Ra and the Eye of Horus look exactly the same, so how can you tell I'm one and not the other?"
"Because what is depicted here is the right eye." Gabe eyed the tattoo. "From very early times in Egypt the sun and the moon were regarded as the eyes of the great falcon god Horus, though the two eyes eventually became differentiated, with the left eye (the "Eye of Horus") often being regarded as the symbol of the moon and the right eye (the "Eye of Ra") being that of the sun."
Cassie frowned as she leaned forwards, seeming to be mulling over something.
"The Eye of Ra is a reflection of you." Gabe continued to look at Diana. "But the Third Eye itself is a high position in the hierarchy of the Circle because of its connection to the power of the Soul. The Third Eye understands the Soul better than any of the others because it has direct connection to it. It's why you could get through to her when others can't. Whitney's ability to get through to Chloe relies on touch, on reminding her magic that it has Claimed him, but yours is spiritual and doesn't require that. I began to wonder if you weren't the Eye when you were able to get through to her when Francis Balcoin's magic was in control. She stopped trying to kill you while she continued with the rest." Gabe finally let go of Diana's hand, which the brunette drew to her heart. "It means that you're the best person to advise Chloe because even when she's overcome by the darkness, or whatever takes a hold of her, you'll be able to See the right way to help her."
The phone rang in the kitchen, Chloe rising from the sofa, feeling angsty and a little desperate to get some air. "I'll get it." She left the room and entered the kitchen, sitting down on a stool as she reached for the phone. "Sullivan Residence, Chloe speaking."
"You sound like Mr Luthor's secretary," a surprising voice declared in her ear.
Chloe's eyes widened, the girl straightening on the stool. "Jason?"
There was a pause and then he sighed and cleared his throat. "So... You were swallowed alive and then made a Manticore explode."
The randomness of that comment made her laugh in surprise, shaking her head. "Yeah. I'm sure that after a few days, once I've been able to get every trace of it from my hair, I'll revisit the whole memory and find it cool and less traumatizing."
"I guess we should be relieved that Manticores devour their prey whole."
"It really makes those three rows of teeth useless if you really think about it." Chloe was surprised that she could joke about the whole being eaten alive thing.
"You've got a point; huge design flaw there." He wasn't laughing though.
Chloe gazed towards the living room before going to the back door and slipping outside, closing the door and sitting down on the top step. "So, to what do I owe this phone call?"
"I couldn't sleep, was bored."
She snickered, shaking her head. "It's late. Didn't you think I might be sleeping?"
"You were swallowed alive and then made a Manticore explode."
Well, he did have a point there. That sort of thing didn't exactly promote rest-filled sleepy times.
"So, where are you now?"
"Bed, staring at my ceiling. You?"
"Outside, on the steps." She stared out at the darkness in the back yard.
"Everyone discussing ways to get you out of the blood pact now that Lex and I aren't around?" he asked with dark amusement.
She didn't see why deny it given the fact that they knew no one was happy with the situation. "Amongst other things."
"When are those kids leaving?"
"Tomorrow, I think." She wasn't really sure to be truthful.
"Is your sister staying?"
"Diana?" Chloe shrugged. "I think it's safer for her to go, but I have the feeling she's staying."
"I meant Cassie." Jason sounded slightly amused. "I didn't even know Diana leaving was being debated. She's very protective of you, gives Lex and I the 'stay away or I'll zap you' look whenever we get too close. I don't think she's going anywhere."
Chloe felt bad for not having even considered that he might be talking about Cassie. "I don't think Cassie would even want to stay. I'm not her favorite person."
"Siblings are always jealous of each other, so you're already acting like family."
Her lips twitched slightly. "Are we now?"
"Definitely. I'm an only child but you should see Tess and Lex, they're somewhat fond of each other (though they'd prefer to kill you than admit to it) but neither truly trusts the other and Lex knows to be wary of any attempt on his life by her hands."
Chloe's eyes widened. "What?"
"She's a Luthor, Chloe. If he died, she'd take over the Circle. The only reason he's the head is because he's Lionel's Firstborn so he outranks her."
"Sucks to be a Luthor."
"It's what any head – or heir to the head – has to worry about."
She narrowed her eyes. "Gessundheit?"
He laughed this time. "The little statue over your fireplace? It's a baku. Place it under your pillow, it'll eat any nightmare you have tonight."
Chloe gulped, surprised and touched by this. "Okay, thanks."
"Lex wants you now more than ever." Jason once again was changing the subject at random, seeming to just speak out what came to his mind the second it did. It made her feel like this was truly a genuine conversation and not something he was told to do to get close to her by Lex Luthor. "Your friends and family are not going to find a way to get you out of the pact even if there was some sort of loophole. Lex Luthor always gets what he wants."
And with that he hung up.
Chloe stayed there for a couple of minutes, tapping the cordless to her chin as she stared ahead of her and went over the odd conversation she'd had with Jason. He'd sounded like he was warning her. And he'd been worried. He mightn't have come out and said it but he'd obviously thought about her enough to tell her about the Baku so she wouldn't have nightmares fueled by the day's happening.
Standing, Chloe entered the kitchen and paused for a second when she found Faye seated on the counter drinking a canned Coke, eyeing her thoughtfully.
"So, I've been thinking..." Faye tilted her head to the side. "Since Cassie's coming back with us tomorrow, she obviously has no plans on joining this Circle of yours, so can I?"
Chloe closed the door behind her.
"I mean, sure, first you have to somehow get out of this pact with the Luthor Circle." Faye continued to eye her. "If you do, I want in on the Balcoin Circle."
Chloe just continued to eye her in disbelief.
"I know it'll probably have to wait until I graduate – or, who knows, your principle might drop dead and I can get mom transferred – but it won't be tomorrow. I know that." She rolled her eyes. "I'm impatient but I do get that point."
"Then I don't get-"
"Because – I'm RSVPing. Just in case." Faye finished the drink and slipped from the counter, flinging the can into the garbage can and smirking when it went in. "A Circle's Six... and how I see it, counting yourself three spots are already taken. That leaves three more, and considering Clark and Greg will probably get the other two (even though Clark still somehow thinks that you'll all end up in this Lana girl's Circle so that may clear an extra space if he sticks to that Circle), well, thus the RSVP. I want in on the Balcoin Circle and I want to make sure there's a spot open for me."
"Aren't you a part of Cassie's Circle?" Chloe wanted to know, still so horribly confused.
"A, not her Circle – we were all a part of it long before she came along." Faye made a face. "B, we've all decided we don't want to be bound right now. We're going to sow our wild oats and stuff before we actually settle into a Circle again."
"But you'd lose individual powers." Chloe wasn't getting this. Diana had told her how Faye had bitched for months about losing her individual magic.
"And yet I'll be a part of one of the most powerful Circles out there; channeling Circle Magic that's beyond crazy." Faye's single dimple was deep with her smirk. "I think I can live with the trade off." She made a face. "Plus Melissa traded phone numbers and emails with the Farmboy Mountain, so my bestie might just end up in love with him and moving to cornfield central and what sort of friend would I be if I didn't come along to keep her company and make sure she doesn't transform into some sort of country bumpkin?"
Chloe seriously had no idea what to say about all of this.
"Plus, you have a brother – three brothers." Faye's smile was devilish. "I wanna meet them."
"Aren't you and Jake Armstrong-?" Chloe had felt a vibe between them, plus Diana had mentioned something about them being together.
"We're on and off, at this moment off." Faye shrugged. "We'll probably get back on again and then off again over and over again over the course of the next couple of months – but who knows the future. You know? Despite all appearances, because it's so not cool, I believe in planning ahead."
Chloe was seeing that. She could also see that this girl was being serious. She wanted to… Uh… RSVP. "Why should I?"
Faye tilted her head to the side. "Accept me, you mean?"
"Yeah." Chloe folded her arms over her chest. "I'm not saying that I plan on actually forming a Circle, but if I do end up forming one like everyone's saying, why would I let you in it? I don't know you. I don't your skills, I don't know your weaknesses, I don't know if you'd be more trouble than you're worth." She didn't mean to offend but she'd be binding herself to this girl for their entire lives, so she needed to know this. "So far, all I know about you is that you have attitude and seem to have some sort of issue with Cassie. That's all."
Faye eyed her oddly before smirking, dimple deeper. "I wouldn't want this if it was easy, anyway." And with that, she sauntered away, completely confident.
Chloe watched her leave, shaking her head, a little amused with their exchange and still not sure what to make of it. She wasn't planning on making a Circle, but the thought of Faye Chamberlain in it was slightly frightening considering that according to Mrs Arkin, Greg had an eye on being a part of "her" Circle as well. Greg and Faye in the same Circle – that could be… interesting… to say the least!