BANNER BY THE TALENTED maple86Title: The New CircleFandoms: Smallville/Secret CircleCharacters: Chloe Sullivan, Whitney Fordman, Greg Arkin, Cassie Blake, Diana Meade, Mikhail Balcoin, Lucas Dunleavy, Faye Chamberlain, Byron Moore...Rating: TDisclaimer: Don't own any original material used in the television series or artwork, they belong to their respective creators. I have merely tweaked them for my story.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.
"You know, I don't think we've ever actually talked."
Chloe looked up from the bloodied handkerchief she'd used to wipe her hands clean, green eyes wide in surprise at her visitor as she stuffed the handkerchief into her pocket and turned to face him, a smile on her face. "Welcome back to Smallville, Mr Queen."
Oliver Queen stood backlit by the moon, face shadowed, expression completely hidden, hands shoved in his pants pocket as he stared at her. "Mr Queen was my father. Please call me Oliver."
She nodded as a small frown touched her lips, remembering that like Jason, he'd lost someone, but he'd actually lost both his parents. "I'm very sorry for your loss."
He let out a dark little sound, going to stand next to her, staring out at the lights of the houses in the darkness of the night. "You do not know me, nor did you meet my parents. The only times you ever interacted with either of us, it was in very conflictive situations and at your father's funeral, I was not the most comforting of persons. I do not think I even offered you my condolences." He took in a deep breath. "You have no reason to truly care, so please don't pretend to."
She frowned deeper as she sent him a sideways glance. "I'm not pretending to."
"Oh, really." He sent her an ugly little grin. "You care."
She had a feeling he'd come here with the desire to fight her for some reason, to pick an argument, and that intrigued her. "We're not friends, that's true, but I understand the feeling of losing a parent and I wouldn't wish it on anyone."
"You said you don't even remember him," Oliver snapped before clearing his throat and looking away. "How bad could it be?"
So, he'd been listening in on her and Lex's conversation.
Chloe took in a deep breath as she turned to face Oliver. "I have one memory of Gabe Sullivan, that's true, but that doesn't change the fact that, just because I can't remember losing him, I don't have this feeling of loss deep inside of my gut."
Oliver gulped, licking his lips as he stared in front of him.
"I don't remember growing up with him, I don't remember stories he'd tell me, or what we would fight about, or secrets only we knew about." Chloe could feel tears stinging at her eyes, her voice wavering as she cleared it and continued. "I don't remember what he ate for breakfast or if he had bad cholesterol and so I didn't let him eat it for breakfast."
Oliver let out a little chuckle at that one and sent her a small sideways glance before he returned his gaze in front of him.
"Did I have a heartbreak? Did he nurse it with wise words? What were they? Did they give me vast insight and help me grow as a person?" Chloe ran her fingers through her hair, a single tear managing to trail down her pale cheek. "My one memory lets me know that that man was the most incredible man I will ever know and that I was so damn lucky to have grown up with him as my father… and that makes losing him even worse because that means I won't be able to relearn anything he's taught me. It almost makes it seem as if I've never had him." She wiped at the tear angrily. "So, believe me when I say, I'm so sorryyou lost your parents."
Oliver was silent, not responding, before nodding with a gulp. "They – I have many good memories of them at least."
"That's good." She gave him a tremulous smile.
Oliver took in a stuttering breath, looking around him. "I'm an only child. They said there'd always been plans to have another kid but then they had me and decided that they couldn't handle another one of me running around."
Chloe laughed in surprise at that, rubbing at her eyes. "You couldn't have been that bad."
"I was a handful," he countered. "Always running after the others, wanting to prove I was as good as they were and getting into trouble while doing so. Being a good soldier, a core member of Lex's Circle was supposed to show that, but look how well that's gone for everyone who isn't a Luthor."
She narrowed her eyes at that. "What are you saying?"
"Nothing." He looked away, taking in a deep breath. "I don't know why I'm here, talking to you." He turned to face her. "For the longest time, I've hated you, wanted you dead, blamed you for everything bad that's happened."
She stared up into his eyes, only now remembering the fact that she was basically powerless thanks to her spectacular use of magic back then, and that she was basically a parasite living off of others' magic and life-force right now. "Do you blame me for your parents' deaths? Is that why you're here tonight?"
He towered over her, his expression mostly hidden from her in the shadows, although the moonlight lit parts of his face to her, betraying the fact that he was contemplating the answer. "No. That is not why I'm here tonight."
Chloe narrowed her greens slightly as she continued to stare up at him, head tilted back, back arched somewhat. "You need someone to talk to? Someone who isn't close enough to judge? Someone you can just say whatever you need to and just vent?"
He thought about that some more. "Maybe."
The girl relaxed. "Okay."
He gave a dark chuckle. "You'd let me vent at you? How is that okay?"
"Bottling all of this inside of you is not healthy." She reached out and grabbed his hand, giving it a squeeze like she would to one of her brothers or Circle mates when they needed advice or someone to just be there for them. "There are some things that you can't say to the people you love because you're afraid of how they'll start seeing you; that things will change, right?" The blonde eyed the much taller male. "I'm a busy girl, and I'll probably be incommunicado for a little while, but how about this? Tit for tat. You can come and vent all your frustrations with me and I'll listen to them without any complaint. Then when Iget frustrated with what's going on in my life I get to whine and complain and you have to put up with it. Sound healthy enough for you?"
Oliver's gaze went to their joined hands and raised an eyebrow at her. "I have a girlfriend."
She let his hand go with a blush, remembering that he was not her brother or Circle member and this could easily be taken the wrong way. "Sorry, I had no ulterior motive with that. Ask anyone in the house, I'm a hands-on kind of person."
He nodded in understanding, smirking. "Sure, you just couldn't keep your hands off me."
Her lips parted and she barked out laughter, somewhat embarrassed. "Keep telling yourself that, Queen."
"Keep denying it, Balcoin." Oliver winked as he shook his head with a chuckle, shoving his hands back into his pants pockets. He then frowned and seemed disturbed by the fact that he wasn't annoyed anymore, the male narrowing his eyes at her. "How do you do that?"
"Do what?" she asked in confusion.
"Was it when you touched me?" Oliver glared and took a menacing step towards her. "Did you Enthrall me to a small degree or something?"
"What?" She glared, unable to believe that she had actually been trying to extend an olive branch and lend comfort to someone who thought she was capable of Enthralling a grieving guy just for the hell of it! "Screw you!"
"You wish." He sneered down at her.
"You're not that cute," she snarled up at him.
He grabbed her by her shoulders. "I don't like you and I don't trust you, no matter what she says."
Chloe blinked at Oliver. "What are you talking about?" She cried out when his grip on her turned painful, the girl struggling against him but unable to get free. "Stop it! You're hurting me!"
"Then get free," he snapped at her. "It's as easy as one, two, three for someone like you."
She slapped at his chest, crying out as his grip intensified and so did the pain. "Stop it! Stop!"
Horror suddenly flashed through his features. "Why aren't you using your magic?"
Chloe continued fighting him. "Get off of me!"
Oliver shook her violently. "Force me to!"
Oliver then froze, letting her go, pale. "You don't have magic."
Chloe stumbled to her knees on the ground and rubbed her arms, knowing she was going to bruise horribly. "You asshole."
"Why don't you have magic?" He moved towards her, shock obvious on his face. "Do you realize how vulnerable you are right now? I wasn't even using magic and I hurt you!"
Chloe glared up at him from where she knelt on the cold ground, her knees scraped and arms bruising. "I'm about to vent at you majorly, Queen."
Queen bent on his knees in front of her. "I'm sorry, I was out of line."
"You think? Even if I had my magic, there is no excuse to put your hands on a girl like that." Chloe reached out and grabbed him by his shirt, yanking him so that he fell and landed hard on the ground as well.
Oliver didn't move except to clench his fists.
She sighed and took in a deep breath as she eyed the guy, who looked like he was mentally beating himself up as he sat next to her in the dirt. "So, what's it like working with the woman who had you tortured?"
Oliver's eyes widened as he turned to face her. "What are you-?"
"The others didn't notice it, but when we were in town, after the Golem attack, I noticed you and Patricia on one of the rooftops having a talk, and somehow I just knew." Chloe shrugged, his expression confirming her suspicions. "You two are working together without the others knowing, and I'm a little surprised that you'd do that considering the girlfriend you mentioned not two minutes ago. The girlfriend Patty had tortured. That means that whatever Patricia told you, she's managed to convince you that she's telling the truth, and it has something to do with me because that's why you're here tonight."
Oliver merely stared at her in silence.
"I doubt this plan puts Tess in danger or you wouldn't go along with it, but you should know that I've made an oath with Lex that, should any of his siblings go up against him, I'll side with him against them, so if she's in this with you against him, I'll have to side with him against her and you." Chloe eyed Oliver, seeing from his face that Tess was not a part of this, and that intrigued her. "I see, so Tess has no idea that you're working with Patty, it's just you and her."
Oliver looked away. "I should go."
Chloe reached out and grabbed his hand, stopping him. "You came here to see me for a reason, Oliver. What was it?"
The male witch stared at her in the darkness before he reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper. "I thought you should have this."
Chloe stared at the white paper curiously before taking it from him, unfolding it to find a picture of Gabriel Sullivan holding a newborn baby girl in a pink sheet and grinning proudly at the camera. A lump of emotion swelled in her throat as she looked up at him. "Where-?"
"I was going through Patty's things and found it. Read the back." Oliver then cleared his throat. "Right, your magic doesn't… Air around us, grant us light." An orb of light gathered at his palm, casting more light on the picture, enough so that when she turned it around, she could read writing on the back.
Chloe narrowed her eyes and read out loud: "I know you can't be here with her right now, that you have your mission, but know that I love her as if she were my own flesh and blood. I adore this child and will protect her with my very life if it comes to that. Take care and come back soon to us. I'll take care of her and Moira until you return for them. –Gabe." She gulped hard around the lump in her throat.
"I figured you deserved to have this more than Patricia did." Oliver shrugged. "You might not have many memories of him, but he loved you deeply."
Chloe turned her tear-filled eyes on Oliver and threw herself onto the shocked male as she hugged him tightly as she hid her face in his neck. "Thank you."
Oliver was stiff, obviously highly uncomfortable as his arms went around her and he patted her back awkwardly. "I still have a girlfriend."
"How were you going to explain having that picture without letting on about your alliance with Patricia?" She ignored his statement because she wasn't interested in him like that, so she really didn't carewhether he was with Tess or not.
Oliver paused, letting on to the fact that he hadn't thought that far. "Something would have come to me."
She gave a little choked laughter and hugged him tighter as she realized that, while Oliver Queen might be an ass, he might also be alright nonetheless.
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"Look, I know we're not Chloe and you don't like talking to someone who isn't Chloe, but you've got to help us here, we're doing this for her." Diana's eyes were narrowed on the eyes all around her. It had taken them a long time to actually get the pathway to light up to the Wisdom of Ages and even then it had been difficult. "We need to know if you know anything about the Stones of Power or who might have them. Did you take them, Francis?"
"Killer of Balcoins!" a voice snarled. "Murderer of your own kind!"
"You have some nerve!"
"How dare you step into this chamber like this!"
Diana flinched as she drew backwards as the angry voice screamed all around her.
"Remove yourself from our presence!"
"The Firstborn isn't here and so we don't have to force ourselves to be tainted with your filthiness!"
"We don't want your kind in our midst!"
"Enough already!" Greg narrowed his eyes, stepping in front of Diana protectively. "What happened with John Balcoin happened in the past and you know what? I'm glad she killed him. I would have died if she hadn't. Now get off your high horses because not a single one of you, especially you Francis Balcoin, have a clean record. At least Diana did what she did to save the lives of innocent people. None of you can say the same."
Diana sent Greg a little grateful look.
The boy looked around him. "What do you know about the Stones of Power?"
The noises stopped, the voices quieted, and then…
"What do you know about the Stones of Power?"
Greg and Diana shared a look before the boy cleared his throat. "They are an important part of a Dragon ritual that needs to be completed once the first half is started."
"Ritual?" the voice asked in confusion. "We know of no ritual."
"But you know of the Stones?" Diana asked, drawing closer to Greg.
"We have heard of them."
Diana's hand slipped into Greg's scarred one and squeezed it in excitement as her eyes went wide above them. "What do you know?"
The boy lowered his gaze to their joined hands before clearing his throat. "Y-yeah. Talk already. We don't have much time."
"We do not have much information to share, just that the name is one we have heard," the voice replied before there was a pause. "And through the connection that has been established, I can tell you that the Firstborn is not the first Balcoin to search for these Stones of Power."
Greg blinked. "Huh? What are you talking about? What connection are you-?"
"The connection with the Crystal Caves," Diana whispered as she turned to Greg. "The Echo. John." Her eyes widened. "He means John was looking for the Stones of Power."
"That is correct," the voice announced.
"Then say that!" Greg yelled into the air.
Diana rolled her eyes at him. "We have to get to Chloe and tell her she has to talk to the Echo in the Crystal Caves." She began dragging Greg out of the Chamber of the Wisdoms by their joined hands. "He could have the answers we need!"