Disclaimer: Sabrina refuses to be owned by anyone but herself.
Notes: This would be the point where my fic-verse officially splits from the canon of both manga and games, due to the fact that I stubbornly refuse to change the structure of my ideal Elite Four. As if it hadn't already split, seeing as I've been playing fast and loose with the timeline. The bird has to leave the nest sometime.
In any case, in here we start seeing (by popular request) more of the fic-verse in which these stories are set, something that does not involve Team Rocket, something that involves Sabrina's family, and (by my own request) something involving the Elite Four and the cast of characters surrounding them, because I love them too much.
Also, rating jumps straight up from K to T, because Karin does that just by walking into a room. Disclaimer from "Patchouli" about brief mentions of incest continues; Gravekeeper is about as inbred as the European monarch families.
It wasn't until she collected her mail outside of the Gym that Sabrina realized it was March. Not because of a postmark- at nine in the evening it was too dark to see one, anyway- but because of a heavy envelope with the softness of parchment and the faintly incised feeling of having been addressed by calligraphy pen.
The days had blurred together since she'd risen from her hospital bed, although it had been months since she'd been pulled out from under the marble statue of Moltres which had pinned her crumpled body to the floor. Although Giovanni wouldn't admit it in public, Sabrina could tell from the downward quirk of his mouth whenever he heard it mentioned that Team Rocket's defeat at the Silph Co. Headquarters had shaken him like no prior defeat had done. He had suspended Team activities for nearly a week for what he called "repair and renovation," but which, in practice, had amounted to him sitting with Sabrina at her bedside and discussing poetry, psychic theory, and occasionally Team Rocket's plans for the future. It was the only thing that had kept Sabrina in bed for six full days- although the doctors wanted her abed for far longer, given the complexity of her vertebral fractures and the trauma to her spinal discs.
Then she had had enough. She stood up, walked out of the hospital room to the great consternation of her doctors, and proclaimed that the only thing wrong with her was shortness of temper brought on by too much time spent in bed. Besides, she'd had the Global Conference to get to.
In the intervening time she had closed her gym to challengers, although not many people chose to travel the Gym circuit at this time of year given the snowy state of the mountain passes, and devoted her time to improving herself. Regaining the strength and reflexes in her spine had been a battle, though one aided greatly by the discipline of her mind, which allowed her to block out the pain of her self-directed physical therapy. Even so, she was just now able to complete her exercises with full range of motion.
Which is just as well, she thought, psychically unlocking the doors to the Gym, if I am to be in Indigo Plateau next week.
The letter in the heavy envelope was, exactly as she'd thought, an invitation. In fluid script, written in rich black ink on a silvery gray cardstock, it read:
You are cordially invited
to a celebration
in honor of the birthday of Miss Karin Eveleth
at Indigo Plateau
Nine o'clock in the evening
The favor of a reply is requested.
Sabrina, if you don't come, I'll pine for days, I swear.
Sabrina smirked- although the expression was so fleeting as to have been nearly non-existent- and drew a blank sheet of paper from her desk. "Karin," she wrote, her handwriting just as precise as that on the invitation, "I suppose that if I do not come, you will again drink yourself into such a state that you will not remember the events of your birthday, and our dear brothers will torment you for months inventing stories of your supposed escapades. Not that you do not deserve exactly that." She paused. "Though really, while I can quite easily picture you breaking into Undertow Stadium for a late-night swim sans clothing, somehow I do not think that you also spent the evening in the arms of five young women whom you had paid to dress as mermaids for the occasion. Regardless, I look forward to seeing you, although if you again respond requesting that I bring with me one of Mother's limbs, without Mother attached, I may be forced to look forward to the occasion somewhat less . – S"
She ignored the letter she received back which asked simply, "What about her head on a platter?" on the grounds that, with no foresight other than that granted to sisters, she had known it was coming.
On March 21st she arrived at the door of Indigo Plateau promptly at nine. It would have been easier to teleport straight into the Elite Four headquarters via Will's apartment, the shields of which would have let her in- but both she and her brother were equally fond of privacy, and besides which, the shields probably would have splintered the bottle of vodka she carried.
Karin had left the back door open, anyway, and though she'd have easily been able to find her sister in the building by sense alone, Sabrina followed the sound of voices until she reached a common area populated largely by an enormous punch bowl, couches, and the whirling dervish that was her sister when almost- but not quite- drunk.
"So then he looked at me with his hands straight up in the air like I'd walked into something illegal and he- Sabrina!" Karin leapt up from her armchair, nearly knocking over a glass in the process, and greeted her sister with a hug that nearly crushed her. "About time! I thought you weren't going to come after all!"
"The invitation said nine," Sabrina replied, returning her sister's hug.
"Did it? I don't remember. Bunch of us were in town already. Obvious reasons. You know everyone, I think- the usual crew, mostly, you know Aili? Lukio? No? I'll introduce you. Punch is there, yes it's spiked, it's a family tradition. No heads on platters for me? I'm wounded. Only thing I wanted and you couldn't manage to bring it. I think I'll perish."
"Service to humanity, that would be," Morty said, having come up unnoticed by Karin and giving his sister a cuff on the back of the head. "Hi Sab. You're not late, we're just early. I spent the day up here. How's the Gym? Heard you closed for the winter?"
"There was no sense paying for the electricity when no one was coming in," Sabrina made excuse, ignoring the brief scuffle resulting from Karin punching Morty. "Besides, my back. I expect I will re-open soon enough. How comes the research?"
"Slow. My associate keeps haring off after some Pokemon or other. To tell you the truth I think he's deranged."
"Takes one to know one," Karin said. "Where'd Will go?"
((Behind you)) Will replied, then teleported as Karin reached back to punch him. He continued privately to Sabrina. ((I heard you come in. Good to see you. How are you?))
((Well, and yourself?))
((I will be fine if someone can manage to keep Karin on this side of sobriety tonight. Clair isn't here yet))
((I know her, of course- I am simply uncertain of her role in Karin's sobriety))
((Karin gets drunk enough staring at her)) Will said.
((What is going on with her and the Dragon Clan?)) Sabrina asked wryly. ((First Lance, now Clair. Putting one in Mother's eye, do you think?))
((That may have something to do with it)) he agreed, and was about to say more when they were interrupted by Karin spotting the vodka.
"Ooh, you brought me a present?" she asked Sabrina, batting her lashes. "And such a nice present."
"I am informed that it is some seventy-five percent alcohol by volume," Sabrina said. "I thought you could find a use for it."
Morty wrinkled his nose as Karin uncapped the bottle. "You're just going to chug it like that? Vile. No standards. At least get a shot glass."
Sabrina and Will eyed each other and, as one, shrugged.
"Ahh," Karin said, setting the bottle down (considerably lighter.) "I will accept this in place of Mother's head. It is a worthy gift. Now! Introductions! Lance and Lorelei you know of course. Lance is a lightweight, Lorelei is trying to keep him sober, he has some kind of press conference tomorrow. Confidentially the more hung-over he is the funnier he is, so by all means, thwart her. Bruno will be here later, he's flying in. Aili and Lukio, they're there, they're both referees, Aili handles a lot of Indy's paperwork, invaluable really, if I can get them in bed together by the end of the night I will be so proud. I invited Falkner but I hear his mother's ill. And Clair-"
"Just walked in the door," Morty said, smirking. "Go on. Tell us about Clair."
Karin watched as Clair picked her way through the couches. She'd evidently just flown in; her hair was disheveled.
"Come on Karin," Morty said, trying to keep a straight face. "Tell us."
"Clair is… special," Karin finally replied. "And Morty wants to be punched in the jaw. I'd hate to bruise my knuckles on my birthday, can someone else do it for me?"
"You are together then," Sabrina surmised.
"You could say that. I guess. Maybe. What about you?"
"Still living alone in your gym with a pile of Abra and a couple of Meowth?"
"Hmph," Sabrina replied, as elegantly as she could manage.
"At least the Abra don't talk. How anyone puts up with you I'll never know. Come on Sab, let's let Karin swoon over Clair in peace, let's you and we catch up." Morty slung an arm around her shoulders and steered her to an unoccupied couch.
((I'm happy for her)) Will said, sitting down. ((It's about time she stopped moping))
"She was moping?" Sabrina asked.
"Oh yes. Clan this and clan that. Guess the girl just likes Dragons- who'd have known. I, however, do not like Dragons," Morty proclaimed grandly, swinging his legs up onto the arm of the couch and leaning against his brother.
Will rolled his eyes long-sufferingly. ((I will push you off))
"You'd never in a million years, you love me too much."
"You two are the despair of the entire Gravekeeper family- and I mean that as an utmost compliment," Sabrina said. "Keep at it, won't you?"
"Despair? I am the pride and joy of our entire lineage," said Morty. "Just look at me, living a life of great success, Gym Leader, ghost types, and oh, aren't I handsome too, I'm just the absolute pinnacle of Gravekeeper existence."
((Except for the reason you train ghosts, but we won't get into that, out of respect for your delicate feelings)) Will said. ((Oh, and the fact that I outrank you, Gym Leader. You might show some respect for your betters))
"I'll bow before you and kiss your feet if you like. Another time though? I'm really quite comfortable."
"You look comfortable," Sabrina commented. "What with your head on his elbow. Will, do you eat?"
((I keep myself bony so as to discourage the blonde limpet from using me as a pillow))
"Does it work?"
((About as well as you see it working now))
"You're such a lovely pillow though," said Morty, batting his lashes.
"The two of you are sickening," said Karin from in between sips. "I can't believe we're related."
"I find myself in agreement, but perhaps not for the reasons you are thinking," Sabrina said dryly.
"Well, let's face it, Sab, none of us are quite sure where you came from," Morty said. "Karin, don't you think she was probably adopted?"
"Can't be. She has brains, like two of us; note I don't say three."
"Yes, we understand that your own executive capacities are well below average."
Karin responded with an anatomically improbable suggestion.
((If anything, Sabrina is the perfect Gravekeeper)) Will commented. ((I mean that as a compliment, Sabrina, as we all know that our immediate ancestors are imperfect in quite a few important ways; I refer only to your demeanor and talent))
"Thank you," she said. "Although I am not certain you don't also share that distinction."
Will shrugged. ((I am outclassed in my field of specialization, which would be fine if it were Ghosts))
Sabrina again felt the flash of gratefulness, familiar to her from her childhood, that her youngest brother had never shown any resentment at being eclipsed by his sister. Even- perhaps especially- after what the family had begun to refer to simply as "the incident." "You make up for it with your logic and strategy."
((Well, one must, if one is going to attempt to keep one's spot in the Elite)) he replied, always philosophical. ((How long has it been since we have battled, Sabrina?))
"Several years now. It was a good fight. I have not had many that compared. We might try another, Will; facing someone with your skill keeps me sharp." Testing her powers against those of a fellow psychic honed them in ways that her training with Koga couldn't match. A mind to mind battle was a very different thing, after all. She spared a brief flash of regret that she'd never been able to battle the experiment, and was surprised to find also that she wished Will had been able to meet him as well.
Morty's voice recalled her to the conversation. "I'll fight you," he said lazily. "Show you the true meaning of Gravekeeper might, and all that."
"The scion speaks," Karin drawled- affectionately, as sarcasm would have put too fine a point on the power Morty had lost when he had switched to Ghosts. Sabrina admired the diplomacy of her tone. "And here I thought his tongue had gone begging, along with his wits."
"Shove off. Hardly my fault I'm the only one of the lot of us who actually managed to validate the breeding program."
Karin snorted. "Some validation you are. I'll be back, I'm getting another bottle of vodka. Will? Morty?"
"Bring a shot glass over with that bottle?"
((I am fine, thank you))
"Shot glass, duly noted, and Sabrina, you're drinking something, don't give me that nonsense about it dulls your mind blah blah blah, we all know you can rise above it. Red wine?" Karin took her lack of immediate refusal for enthusiastic acceptance and bounded off.
"Now, we all know she's just going to find Clair and get completely distracted," Morty said.
((Which, to be frank, isn't necessarily a bad thing))
"True. About time she found someone who keeps her in line. So how's life, Sab? And don't give me that old 'fine,' we've been through that, I get to see you maybe five times a year which is pitiful really."
"Fine," Sabrina deadpanned, just to see what kind of glare Morty could come up with while resting his head in his lover's lap. It was more impressive than she had expected. "Not as busy as I would like, but I suppose that is what I get for closing the gym over the winter. I have kept myself occupied as I can."
"Doing what? Anything interesting?"
She decided on the truth, or part of it. "Actually, I have found somewhat of a sparring partner. Koga of Fuchsia was also looking for someone against whom to test his skills. It has been nice to work against a human again, instead of sparring against Alakazam."
Will nodded agreement. ((There's nothing like it)) he said. ((Although I suppose you probably have a harder time of it than I do, finding a matched opponent))
"Sab, I'm going to be straight up, and Will, this is not an insult, you know it. Power like yours- I've never understood why you've never tried for Elite."
Sabrina paused before answering, formulating and discarding responses until she found one that fit. "Truly, I have never had any interest," she said. "I enjoy that working as a Gym Leader gives me enough time for my own pursuits. Moreover, Will is far superior to me in diplomatic matters, which is seeming to become more and more important in this new Elite that Lance seems to have formed."
((I never fancied myself a politician)) Will said, his mind-voice rueful. ((Fortunately, being limited to this sort of communication makes myjob somewhat easier))
"Good job you lot are doing what you're doing, anyway," Morty said. "What with all this Team Rocket whatever getting stronger and raising the hell it has been. People need some kind of figurehead that looks in charge, and frankly, I have no interest in the old system of everyone expecting protection from the local Gym Leader."
Sabrina had stiffened minutely at the mention of the Team, and it was too much to hope that her brother, of all people, wouldn't notice. "What's wrong, Sab? Team Rocket hit a nerve?"
"We've met," she said shortly. "More or less."
"Right, they're the bastards that brought Silph down. Well, bet you want one in their eye," he said, cheerfully enough. "Will, are you lot preparing to do something about them?"
Sabrina had dreaded this, from the moment she had thrown in with the Team- or rather, from the moment that Lance, Elite and Champion, had organized the Elite Four into as much of a regional government as could be managed. To fight for the Team was one thing; to fight against her own siblings was quite another. She was minutely relieved when Will said only ((We'll have to talk about that))
Karin flounced back, a half-empty bottle of vodka in one hand and the other splayed around a shot glass and a tumbler full of something that was most definitely not red wine. "Cheers," she said. "Clair has thrown her lot in with Lorelei and they are both prevailing in the matter of getting Lance drunk. Or not. You've met Clair, Sab?"
"Briefly, at the last Convention," Sabrina said. "Not that one speaks with Dragons."
"One does more than speak," Karin agreed happily. "Now, a toast! To…" She looked around at her siblings, each in a varying state of good humor; Sabrina was very nearly outright glowering. "Oh, come off it. To my birthday, to good fortune, to us as a whole, and to this very excellent vodka. Something in there for everyone!"
"To all that," Morty agreed. "And to family reunions. Why the hell don't we do this more often?"
"Because some of us are, you know, wossname, very busy people," Karin said. "And some of us think our lives are bettered by being apart from certain blond-haired ickle baby wee moppet-" Lazily, Morty reached out across Will's lap and cuffed her. Karin finished regardless. "Brothers!"
((Some of us are burdened daily by agents of darkness, and wish to see rather more of their sane sisters)) Will added, more or less seriously. ((We really should see each other more often, Sabrina, it's good to have all of us again. The company's rather better than the last time we were all together for any duration))
They all drank to that- even Sabrina.
Some time later, when Karin's second bottle of vodka was running low, Sabrina excused herself- nominally for the ladies', but more precisely, for the balcony outside, to re-ground and center herself after rather more alcohol than she'd been planning to consume. She'd left her siblings sprawled on couches and chairs in a much greater state of inebriation than her own, of course, but they were used to it and she was not. All her boasting aside, of how her power lent her superiority over poisons, of which alcohol was a variety- and excepting the ill-fated experiment on type specialties of which she and Giovanni had agreed, mutely and mutually, never to speak- the trouble with this particular variety was that it necessarily compromised executive functions before they could be used to expel the substance from her system in the first place.
She leaned over the railing, steadying her breathing, and let her muscles relax- top to bottom, from her forehead to her fingertips, the way her grandmother had taught her. It was good to be with her family again- no one else quite understood her the way Will did, and Karin and Morty, for all their by-this-point innate darkness, frothed humor like no one else she knew. Perhaps there had been something to Koga's insistence upon an occasional vacation from her training.
And besides, it was good to spend time with her siblings where they could each focus on something other than their childhoods and the twistedness that was Gravekeeper Tower- or rather its matriarch, maven, and coven-leader, Agatha.
She mulled it over, because it gave her something else to think about than the minor seed of panic that had sprouted when she realized she'd had too much to drink and couldn't quite quash the effects, and let her thoughts drift out on the cool air.
"Sabrina, your phone's ringing, you've got a message," Morty hollered.
((That was my ear, and she can't hear you from over there))
Karin plucked the phone out of Morty's hands and glanced at it. "The first three words in the message are 'Not an emergency,'" she said. "Stop being loud. Who's it from? Words all blurry."
"You all drunk," Morty said. He frowned. "Giovanni. Isn't that-"
"Viridian City. What's she-"
((I wouldn't do that))
"Read it anyway."
((I would really suggest-))
"You know why, Will. Read it Karin."
"'Not an emergency, but badly need you back at home base. Let me know when you'll arrive. Will leave the door open.'" Karin snickered. "Ooh, la la. So much for the gym full of Abra and Meowth. Hey, little sister. Not that he'd be my pick but-"
((I cannot believe you)) Will said. ((That was meant to be private))
"She shouldn't have left her phone here then."
"I can't believe her," Morty said, but Sabrina was back.
"Why are you looking at my phone?"
"Who's Giovanni?" Karin smirked, winking. "Look at you trying to be sly."
Sabrina stiffened fractionally, then forced each muscle to relax. "The Viridian Gym Leader. We've a project we're working on. Teleporter pads. Why do you ask?"
"He needs you at home base… badly. He'll leave the door open for you."
"You read my messages," Sabrina said flatly. "I cannot believe-"
((I did say-))
((Not you Will, I know that you unlike our siblings have some common decency)) she snapped, then continued aloud. "Give me my phone back. That was not acceptable, Karin."
"Jeez, touchy touchy. Sorry I asked. Just glad you've got some kind of love in your life. That's all. Really."
Sabrina clenched her hands behind her back and slowly counted to three, cursing siblings, cursing alcohol, cursing everything that chased away her grounding. I will remain calm. Anger serves no purpose to the disciplined mind. "I am so glad you're pleased."
She met Morty's gaze, about to castigate him, but stopped. He was looking at her levelly, the faint smolder of anger in his eyes. "Teleporter pads," he said quietly.
"Yes. The kind I use in my gym. He wishes to develop something similar for his own."
"I hear they had those at the Silph building in Saffron. Before it… fell down."
"Yes. Do you want some for your own gym? I would be happy to install them there as well."
Morty didn't answer for a moment. "How's your back, Sabrina?"
Sabrina froze, then forced her muscles to relax. "Healing."
"It's odd," Morty said, "how you were injured. Considering your gym is so far away. What brought you to Silph?"
"Gym business," she almost- but not quite- snapped. "Finances, if you must know. It is a pity I am less gifted with foresight than Will, or I would have attended to my business there the day before, and saved myself a good deal of nuisance. Why is this relevant, Morty?"
"And it's odd, too, that injured so badly, you- by all accounts- escaped on your own. The police didn't find you."
"Am I a psychic or am I not?"
"You are- and those powers make you extremely valuable to certain groups."
"Like my gym and the League," she said flatly. "I take offense to your implication, Morty."
He opened his mouth to speak, but Will cut him off. ((Enough!)) His mental voice was sharp. ((Morty. We all make our own choices. We all dealt))
"Leaguing up with them isn't dealing!"
"And what did you do," Karen jumped in, her voice bland. "How did you deal, Morty? Straight down a bottle and out of a needle."
Morty bristled, sitting up straight. "I deal in my own way. Why is it relevant? Anyway, I had the least to lose- I'm the closest she got to breeding a success."
"Next to Will, you lost the most. Need we remind you why you train ghosts?"
"How dare you," he hissed. Will laid a hand on his shoulder. "How dare-"
((It's true, though, Mor)) Will said softly. ((If she hadn't tried to turn me, and you hadn't reacted, you would still have the same psi powers as Sabrina and I. And the strength to go with it. I don't mean to wound, Mor, but it's not a family secret. They speak no more than the truth))
"The fact that our crazy old bat of a mother tried to drown you is completely irrelevant here, and you're all skirting the subject!" It was a testament to Will's discipline that he hardly flinched; his sisters both did.
"To call into question how any of us deals may be relevant to all of us, but to use it as an insult is something I find unacceptable," Sabrina said.
"We made our own choices," Karin echoed quietly.
"And I find the choice to turn to Team-flipping-Rocket to be unacceptable! What are you thinking, Sabrina, don't you know what they do?"
"So in one breath you think I am working for them, and in the next you think I do not know the first thing about them- are you even thinking, or are you just striking blind?"
"I am leaving," Karen announced as she rose wobbily to her feet, "and returning when I am either drunk enough to handle hearing you attack each other or when you stop picking at each other. Honestly!"
"Yeah, run away, that's new," Morty muttered, and Karin froze.
"Say it again," she hissed. "Say it again. To my face."
Mercifully, Morty was silent.
"We all dealt," Karin hissed. "We dealt. Good ways or bad, we got out of that tower, and we dealt. And we'll not have to go through it again. So we might as well not make each other relive what we went through in there, right? Because the more we think about it, the more we'll have to deal with it again, and I don't think I want to do that- do you?"
"If we don't deal with it all the way through, it ends up unresolved, and we keep 'dealing-'" –he bit off the word- "-in all the ways that fuck us up."
"Maybe not all of us are fucked up," Karin said flatly. "Sab, I'm leaving. Come get me when you've decked him, or before you leave, whichever comes first. I am going to finish the rest of the vodka and then I am going to wind myself around Clair, who is saner than he is tonight."
"I am coming with you," Sabrina said, rising. "I do not need to listen to Morty accuse me of anything and everything."
Morty seized her wrist. "This is something we need to talk about," he snapped. "My sister- in Team Rocket?"
"Your sister making a life choice that is none of your business."
"My sister not denying it," Morty said. "That's all I need to know."
((Will)) she reached out, desperately.
Morty kept on ranting, but she was focused on her quiet younger brother, who just looked levelly back at her.
((It's true, isn't it)) he said finally. ((You're working with them))
She lowered her head infinitesimally, recognizing the futility of protest. ((What you hear about them- it is not true)) she said, and shoved the experiment out of her mind as she continued. ((That the Team is abusing Pokemon. It is far more base than that. It is about money, Will. Pure and simple. Abuse- that is what the media use to differentiate us from every other business enterprise in the world. You know I would never get involved in-))
((I know)) he interrupted. ((As I said, Sabrina, we all deal. I know you. I know that if you are involved, if you have chosen this- well, it can't be all bad))
Relief flooded her. ((Thank you))
((You did choose it?))
She thought back: a snowy night, a bar, a widow's peak and a pair of dark eyes. A glass of wine levitating on the table in front of her. "I could use talents like yours," he'd said. "You'd be an asset to my organization." She'd left Gravekeeper Tower six months before and mindlessly defeating dunderheads in the gym was hardly touching her persistent sense of numb unreality.
The next day she'd had a quiet room in the Celadon headquarters and when she'd walked into the shared training grounds she'd met Koga, the Fuchsia gym leader, meditating in the center of the room. Her battle with him- her mind against his ninjitsu- and the tip of his hira-shuriken as it nicked her elbow were the first things that had pierced through her fog. The day after that, she'd teleported into Silph and back out with a CD of copied files, narrowly missing detection by security. It was the closest call she'd ever had and it was the closest she'd come to waking up until she battled Giovanni one-on-one the next week. In two weeks she'd been promoted to a Fleet Lieutenant and in a month she'd been made full Elite.
((It may have chosen me)) she finally answered.
She noticed that Morty had fallen mercifully silent, but his glare spoke volumes- accusation, remonstrance, and a deep childhood wound.
"It's not even the ethics," he finally said. "I could live with a plain and simple lack of morals. I could understand that, the way we grew up. It's- you waste yourself, Sab. You've got- powers the rest of us can only taste in dreams anymore. And you're spending it there. It's just a senseless- fucking- waste." Savagely he kicked at the arm of the sofa, then levered to his feet abruptly, making Will whoof. "I'll be out back. I never thought my sister would make me sick. I always thought that was the province of our mother."
She absorbed that punch in the gut, not even able to meet Will's eyes. Finally, when Morty had gone, she said, "I suppose he will find himself unable to forgive me."
((I probably should not tell you this)) Will said, his voice in her mind tinged with slight regret. ((It's not about Team Rocket for him, Sabrina; it's just the excuse he's using to admit his own jealousy. Karin blows up; the rest of us brood, and Morty most of all. He'd never have said it to you otherwise))
((It is not as though he's the only one who has lost anything)) she said bitterly.
((Some of us deal better than others))
((Is it just the withdrawal?))
((No, although some of it is that. He was finally able to admit that that was holding him back. He can hardly speak mind-to-mind anymore, his mind is that clouded. It was when he realized he might be losing his ability to hear tele-voices that it really hit home for him))
((We have never spoken of it, he and I- but I can only imagine. It must have hurt to fall from so high up))
((And he's never had the affinity with Ghosts that he had with Psychics))
((Except for Al)) Sabrina said, naming his Gengar.
((Except for Al, and we know why))
((Hard to lose your bond with your starter, even if both of you throw yourself beyond the Veil)) Will agreed.
((How do you do it?)) Sabrina asked suddenly. ((How do you look at him and know why he lost all he did, and not-)) She struggled for the word.
((Feel guilty?)) Will said. ((I don't. Five more minutes and I'd be the one training ghosts, not he. And I'd have been stronger than he by virtue of the reason why. It could have been different, Sabrina, so different… but he jumped in anyway and made that bargain. But I didn't ask it of him!)) His vehemence surprised both of them.
((That is what I meant)) Sabrina said gently. ((I was not about to say 'guilt.' I was going to say 'anger'))
((I try not to)) he said, sighing heavily, running a hand through his hair. ((What's done is done. It was twenty years ago. We can't change it now, either of us))
((But it could have been different))
((It could have been different)) he agreed.
They sat together in a silence too loud to be comfortable until the clock struck one.
((I had best go)) Sabrina said. ((That message I got…))
((You and Giovanni)) Will asked quietly.
((He is my Boss)) she said simply.
((That's not what I meant))
((That is… the only answer I can give))
((I admit it)) she said, finding to her surprise that she was, and she did.
Will stood up to embrace his sister. ((I have missed you. You are always welcome here))
((And I you. I do not know how often I can come))
((I'm not asking for promises. Simply do not hold yourself a stranger))
((I will not)) she agreed. ((Visit me in Saffron when you can. My door is open to you. I think I had better say goodbye to Karin and Morty))
((I think you'd better too))
((Take care, Will))
Karin was easy to find- she simply looked for Clair- and that goodbye easy, coming with its own invitation to Indigo.
Sabrina struck out for her brother. She suspected Morty would be on the balcony, and found her suspicions to be right. She stepped up beside him, saying nothing.
"I'm not sorry," he grated, breaking the silence.
"Neither am I."
"You should be."
"I should not," she said. "Morty, what do you have in your life that makes you feel alive?"
He paused, as she'd hoped he would. "Will," he said grudgingly. "I have Will."
"I have the Team."
This time his was less a pause and more a silence. She touched her brother's shoulder and turned to go.
"I'm still not sorry," he said as she reached the door.
She looked back, smiling a little. He still wouldn't look at her, but he was standing straight now, defused, rather than clenched and wound. "I know," she answered. "I am still not either."
He didn't invite her to his gym in Ecruteak. She didn't invite him to Saffron. They both had standing invitations to Indigo Plateau.
She teleported to Celadon, where she was needed.