Title: 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.A/N : NEVER been to Romania, so my information is from research. Sorry if I get anything wrong!
"So, why are we in this Braşov place if that's not where the entrance to the Genesis Caves is?" Lucas definitely asked a good question as they walked through the very crowded Council Square in the middle of the chilly night. It had taken them a little over two hours to make the drive from Bucharest to Braşov and no one could understand why they were here if this was not where the entrance was located, but so far Moira wasn't giving up any details, as usual.
"There are some who say, 'Why bother coming to Romania if you're not going to see Braşov?'" Moira hedged before trying a different route. "Braşov is a mountain resort city in Transylvania that is surrounded by the Carpathian Mountains."
"So, wait, Transylvania is real? It's not a made up place?" Cassie blinked in shock. "I thought it was an invented name, like a pseudonym, for Romania."
"No, it's a historical name for a section of Romania." Moira shook her head. "Though the vampires? They were invented."
"Clearly." Mikhail rolled his eyes as he hugged himself. "Count Dracula might have shared some historical points with Vlad Tepes, but the blood drinking? That was obviously concocted to scare the peasants of the time. Bram Stoker was a good storyteller, yes, but all he did was cause problems. The vampire stories did nothing but cause more fear and superstition in already ignorant minds and it was easy for the Witch Hunters to use fake fangs on the already dead bodies to convince locals that a vampire was around and the cause for the deaths of the local witches."
Adam raised an eyebrow. "You seem to be taking this personally."
"My mother's family came from the Balkans." Mikhail frowned as he eyed the people around him, his accent a little thicker tonight than usual. "Her family was massacred brutally. I have very few memories of Europe before John brought me back to America, but the memories I have are not the best."
Chloe moved from the back, frustrated with herself for not having considered this, the blonde placing her hand in Mikhail's and squeezing it tightly as she rested her head against his shoulder.
He rested his head against hers.
She wrapped her arms around him in a hug, hating the fact that each and every one of her siblings was broken somehow and she had no idea how to fix them, to help heal them and make them better. The girl turned her greens on her mother, eyes narrowed. "Enough with the games, Moira. You want to play a Lionel and keep all of the cards to your chest? Fine. You do that. But I'm not about to let you lead us blindly-"
Moira groaned and turned towards her daughter. "Can't you just trust me?"
"I might try to trust you if you started acting trustworthy," Chloe responded as she pulled away from Mikhail to stare at the older woman. "You act all cloak and dagger, not telling us anything, expecting us to follow you blindly in the dark and trust you?" She shook her head. "We need to talk." The blonde turned to the others. "Can we have a moment, please?"
There was obvious unease on everyone's face (except Zod, who just looked annoyed) but they did as told and dispersed into the crowded Council Square, leaving mother and daughter facing off.
"I'm trying to help you," Moira stressed.
"Are you?" Chloe narrowed her eyes. "Because the last time you did, dad died."
Moira flinched. "Do you even remember it?"
It was Chloe's turn to flinch, the blonde gazing away. "That doesn't change anything."
Moira's eyes widened and her lips parted. "You don't remember his death, do you?"
Chloe's gaze narrowed as it returned on her. "I remember the pain. That's all that matters."
Moira sighed as she stared at the child. "Martha told me what they did to you when you were with Darkseid, what they did to Clark." The woman took in a deep breath. "She says he wakes up screaming some nights, or will zone out and break out in cold sweats." She could see the flash of emotion on the girl's face and pressed on. "That he gets panic attacks sometimes, phantom feelings of fear, of pain or sadness that he can't associate anything with because of his shattered memories. He feels incomplete because of those missing pieces but that she's there for him."
Chloe's lips twisted. "Is that what you're doing now? Being here for me?"
Moira gulped. "I'm here, aren't I?"
"For how long this time?" The blonde sneered, tears sparkling in her angry eyes. She ran the back of her hand over her eyes in a violent move as she cleared her throat and took in a deep breath. "Look, the time for me needing a mother to hold my hand and tell me everything's going to be alright has long passed. What I need is for you to stop being so damned vague and to step up for once in your life and beuseful to me. Stop serving your own agenda. If we're going to work together, we're going to work together." The blonde stepped forwards, cold and hard like a diamond. "So why don't we start by you telling me why we're here in Braşov?"
It was there, in that very moment, as she stared into those cold eyes, that Moira realized without a sliver of a doubt that she would never be this girl's mother, and damn, it hurt more than she'd thought it would.
Taking in a deep breath, the woman pointed towards the southeast corner of the Council Square, which was dominated by the town's most famous landmark. "This is why we're here."
Chloe's gaze landed on the building before the blonde's green eyes went to those in the crowd and with a tilt of her head motioned them forwards as she fell into step with Moira, who began to walk towards it.
"It's called the Black Church." Moira gazed at the largest gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul, which boasted the largest church bell in Romania, weighing in at seven tons. "There was an earlier church that used to sit right above where this beauty looms but the Mongols destroyed in when they invaded in 1242. This church was built to replace it, the construction taking place between 1385 and 1477. It was known in German as the Marienkirche, or St. Mary's Church, and once more received extensive damage in 1421 by Turkish raids."
Lucas leaned into Mikhail and whispered, "What's with the history lesson?"
Mikhail shrugged, apathetic as usual.
"So how did it go from St. Mary's Church to the Black Church?" Jason asked from the back of the group, eyeing the gothic church that towered over the Council Square and the old town. "That sounds like a big leap."
"Well, in 1689, the Great Fire leveled most of the town and blackened the church walls." Moira sent him a look over her shoulder. "Restoration took almost 100 years and even so, they've only managed to finish one of the two towers. The original gothic interior got a makeover during restorations, and the lofty, light space you'll see is mostly baroque. The interior is beautiful, with balconies, stained glass windows, an enormous organ, stone columns and walls adorned with fabulous Turkish carpets. The church windows have recently been fitted out with special UV-filtering glass to protect the 119 Anatolian carpets. Thankful to have survived their trips into the "barbaric" lands south and east of the Carpathians, German merchants donated the carpets to the church in the 17th and 18th centuries. The collection is the largest of its kind in Europe."
"UV-filtering." Adam raised an eyebrow. "Probably doesn't help with the vampire legends, huh?"
"True." Moira nodded before clearing her throat. "Another beautiful view of Black Castle can be seen from the Black Tower, which was built in 1494, and stands atop a rock on Starja Hill near the Blacksmith's Bastion. It's called Black Tower because of another horrible fire in 1559 when it was struck by lightning. Recently renovated and boasting a pyramid-shaped glass roof, the Black Tower houses a small war-related artifacts museum. There are four floors inside, each reached by a narrow wooden ladder. If you climb all the way to the top, you'll find the most panoramic view of the Black Church."
"Look, this is all highly fascinating," Whitney took in a deep breath, "but I still don't get what this has to do with the Genesis Caves."
"I'm with Whitney on this, and it's killing me because a part of me is so fascinated by the amazing culture we've been dropped into, I just want to soak it all in like a sponge." Diana stared around her, obviously entranced. "But we're here for a reason and you seem to be stalling."
"I'm not stalling." Moira closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. "I am trying to teach you. You shouldn't rush things."
"Your daughter is dying," Zod reminded coldly from the back. "You would think that you would want to rush this."
Moira eyed him just as coldly. "I know why I do what I do." With that, she turned her gaze back on the Black Church as they drew nearer. "
Chloe pushed forwards, eyes narrowed as she moved towards the church that was a mixture of gothic and baroque. She could feel something but wasn't sure exactly what it was. The girl hurried her pace, drawn by this invisible force, towards a golden gate in the side of the church with a small portico placed somewhere between the buttresses. The portico was covered by a simple ogive and on the facade there was a semicircular arch. Right above, there were sculptured leaves, reminiscent of the Gothic style. She stopped by the fence in front of the gate, her fingers on the links as she stared at it, eyes narrowed before she turned and followed the invisible thread of power.
Moira reached her side. "You're staring in the exact direction of the Black Tower."
Chloe shifted her gaze onto her mother. "How are they connected to the Balcoin family?"
"Not sure on the details as yet, but I've traced heavy Balcoin activity in this city for centuries before your family's near extermination at the hands of the Witch Hunters." Moira raised an eyebrow. "I can also confirm that the nights of both fires, Balcoins were in Braşov, and were most probably involved somehow, maybe even the cause." She eyed the girl. "They aren't the entrance to the Genesis Caves, but they are a part of your family history, something I'm sure Gabe would have never forgiven me for not showing you while we were here."
Chloe flinched, her green gaze going to the woman.
Moira stared up at the doors of the Black Church. "We'll spend the night in Braşov and continue on to our true destination in the morning. This is all I wanted to show you." She turned and began walking back in the direction of the RVs.
Chloe hesitated, her gaze on the Black Church before she took in a deep breath and she turned to look at the woman's back. "What else do you know about this church? And town?"
Moira paused, a small smile on her face and a flutter in her stomach before she took in a deep breath and turned to face her daughter. "A lot, actually. I could tell you, if you'd like."
Chloe shucked her hands in her pockets, clearly highly uncomfortable. "Since we're stuck here tonight, I don't see why everyone has to stick around. As long as you keep your phones on and pair up into groups, you should be fine. You have your money and your phrase books with you, right?"
Cassie grinned. "There were some shops back there..." She grabbed Diana and Jason. "I have a shopping partner and a half decent translator, all I need to make this work." She then paused before turning to the others. "Not that you all aren't invited either."
Zod snorted in derision.
Whitney gave a little smile. "Thanks, but no."
Adam surprised them by actually giving a little nod. "I'll accept. I saw a shop back there I wanted to check as well."
Cassie grinned and winked at Chloe before her group broke off, the girl having obviously done what she had to help her older sister.
Moira wondered what exactly had happened to change the relationship between the two blondes so drastically since the last time she'd seen them.
"I guess it's just us then," Lucas announced as he eyed Mikhail, Whitney and Zod.
Zod rolled his eyes and moved off into the crowd by himself.
Lucas made a face. "I really don't like him."
The teenage boys moved on, leaving mother and daughter by themselves.
Chloe took in a deep breath as she gazed up at the church. "So, how many times have you been inside?"
"Many." Moira joined her as she gazed at the golden gate. "You should hear the organ when it's playing. It's beautiful."
Chloe gulped. "Did it ever bother you?"
Moira frowned. "Did what ever bother me?"
"Never mind, it was a stupid question." The teenager shrugged as she pulled a blonde strand of hair out of her face. "You must have really loved John to go to these sorts of lengths to uncover stuff like this about his family. I mean, this is some serious dedication. I'm reluctantly impressed."
Moira figured she should have felt a bit more pride at hearing that than she actually did. "I did love him, incredibly, once upon a long time ago. Your father, John, he..." Moira paused as she tried to find the right way to describe him. "He was incredibly charismatic. He had a way of drawing you in and making you want to believe him. He'd draw you into his web, make you want to sign your soul to his cause and believe a hundred percent in what he preached and believed in."
"So when you found out you were just being used as a vessel to have the child John had so desperately wanted, had done so much to have, you snapped. You couldn't stand realizing that anyone could have given him what you had, that you weren't as special as he'd made you feel. You were extremely young when you had me, I've been doing the math and I have a rough figure in my head. You were probably around Cassie's age when you got knocked up, and considering the age difference, that meant that while you were technically legal in the state of Kansas, he seduced you and used your childish idea of love against you. And I was the product of a teenaged romance and pregnancy that was manipulated from the beginning."
Moira gulped and stared at the girl in silence.
"Despite what you might think, you're not the big villain in my mind." Chloe scratched her arm. "I can see things from your point of view, I have tried to put myself in your shoes. When I was... When Jason and I... When I was thinking of..." She took in a deep breath. "I thought of what might happen if we did give in and there was an accident and I got pregnant; it made me think about your situation. It was similar, somewhat. Naive, small town girl faced with a handsome, worldly, older man who sent her heart a pitter-pattering and her libido soaring to all-new heights. I'll admit it, the only reason I'm still a virgin right now is because of his self-will because I used that pixie dust and everything." She paused. "And considering what we know right now, that's horribly ironic."
Moira raised an eyebrow in curiosity.
"I'm getting off-topic." The blonde cleared her throat. "What I'm trying to say is that..." She sighed. "I don't even know what I'm trying to say anymore. Maybe what I'm trying to say is that John made it impossible for us to ever really love each other when he knocked up a kid with promises of a family and forever, married her off to his best friend with promises that it was temporary and for her own protection, and them dumped her so he could go chasing some other tail so he could father more kids. He ensured that you'd eventually resent me for being the only reason he was with you in the first place, the reason you lost your innocence and your childhood – and I'd resent you for not even giving me a chance to make up for anything he'd done."
That was a crude way of putting it, but she figured it was quite accurate. "It was hard for me to accept that he wasn't going to come back for me. I knew he'd come back, but it took me a while to admit it wouldn't be for me. It'd be for you, and I'll admit that I resented you for it. I was young and I felt used."
"To be fair, you had been used." It surprised her to hear the girl admit that. "John used six women to give him children so he could have a Circle of his own to control. He used them all. I'm sure he believed he had his reasons for it, like he had his reasons for everything he did, but John Balcoin was very much a psychopath with a mission." Chloe gave a dark little laugh. "Both of my fathers are. That's what makes up my DNA. Two psychos."
Moira frowned, unable to really deny that.
"You think I don't know the way you used to look at me when you were at the house? I don't remember Gabe, but I remember you. I remember the way you looked at me as if I was a ticking bomb and you were the guy in the hazmat suit waiting to see whether you had to diffuse the bomb or get the civilians to safety before it exploded." Chloe's green eyes were piercing as they landed on Moira. "Rao probably had Granny Goodness leave those memories because of how much they stung."
The woman gulped. "Chloe, I-"
"You knew, from back then, about Darkseid and the fact that he was my father, didn't you?" Chloe eyed the woman. "You knew from all the way back then that I was half Dragon and that was why you always looked at me like I was some kind of monster." She cleared her throat when her voice cracked. "Because I am one."
"Chloe..." A part of Moira shattered as she took a step towards the girl, but she stopped when Chloe lifted her palm up to halt her movement. The woman licked her lips. "I don't know what to say."
Chloe turned to face the Black Church once more. "Can I ask you something and you answer me truthfully?"
Moira nodded and turned to face the church once more.
"Did you ever love me?" Chloe took in a deep breath as she licked her lips. "Even if it was for a split second the moment I was born?"
Moira bit down hard on her bottom lip, forced back the sting of tears as she clenched her fists and continued to stare ahead of her. "Cristabella Balcoin wasn't a Firstborn Balcoin, but she was an Eye, some say one of the most powerful Balcoin Eyes ever, and she died right where we're standing." The woman cleared her throat, unable to look in the girl's direction as she changed the subject abruptly. "It was the night of the Great Fire in 1689 that turned this church from St. Mary's Church to Black Church." Moira stepped back, gaze lowered and body tilted away from the blonde. "When she died, witnesses said Cristabella was kneeling on the ground, covered in her own blood. She was bleeding from her eyes. You see, it was something she did when she went into one of her many famous, very powerful trances." The woman had stood here many times, trying to envision the scene as it had played out that fateful night, and yet while she could usually envision it clearly in her mind, the woman was finding it harder to do so tonight, her daughter's presence silent and damning behind her. Still, she cleared her throat and pressed on. "As the fire consumed all around, destroying buildings and lives, Cristabella was blind to all the chaos and was instead drawing a symbol on the ground right where we're standing."
Chloe stared at Moira in silence for a moment, the blonde's face devoid of any sort of emotion, before she let out a stuttered breath and wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand, clearing her throat. The girl looked almost numb when she asked with a voice soft: "What symbol?"
"A winged serpent." Moira watched the girl go pale. "Cristabella then spoke some odd verse about an opening in the heavens and coldness coming down and..."
The numbness bled out of the girl's features immediately as Chloe's eyes widened and she stepped forwards. "And a door would open to the sky... Abominations created of cold intelligence would walk the planet, and the rebellion of evil would tear the world apart."
Moira felt her whole body go cold as the words she'd memorized were repeated word by word. "How do you know those words?"
"How did she?" Chloe whispered. "That's Rao's Prophecy, words written on secret and heavily guarded ancient Draconian scrolls. Only a select group of Dragons even knew these scrolls existed. There's no way this Cristabella Balcoin would have possibly known what was written on them..." The girl reached into her shirt and pulled out the Balcoin necklace, curling her fingers around it, in obvious need of comfort. "What happened after this? What else did she say?"
"Nothing." Moira hugged herself, suddenly very cold. "According to the witness, right after she uttered those words, Cristabella died."