Disclaimer: Pokemon is the property of Tajiri Satoshi and Sugimori Ken, who probably didn't intend for people like me to do things like this with their brain child.

Notes: Loosely inspired by the song "Walking With A Ghost" by Tegan and Sara, which you can't see at this point, but seven years ago, it used to be there…

Timeline: "Haunting" is in large sense the prequel to my "Patchouli" fic-verse. That said, if you're familiar with my work, suggested reading order is after "Fuse." In the continuity of the fic-verse, this piece starts out and finishes between "Lucky" and "Kindling," with some timeline jogging as noted.

Rating: "Haunting" is rated T for language, inclusion of the type of relationships that tend to merit a Thou Shalt Not and by which I don't mean same-sex ones, and content in general.

Haunting

Renn Ireigh

Chapter One: Invitation

"I'd like to make a formal request," Karin said, hand well up. Not that she'd needed to do so to attract attention. Her sheer force of personality made her hard to miss, especially in the small common room, even if she were sprawled on the floor atop nothing more than a (velvet-covered) beanbag chair.

"As opposed to an informal one?" Lance drawled, stretching his hands back behind his head. He, at least, had taken pride of place in a wide, deep armchair which had been greatly enhanced with the addition of several large pillows. "And when has anyone ever stopped you from talking?"

"Oh, shut up," she said, but not without affection. "No, this is a serious thing. Look, no one ever comes to the party anyway. I don't know why we bother all of this making Clair track down each leader and each person on the invitation list to make sure no one has some pressing obligation that would cause them to miss the party when they cut out anyway. First of all I'm still not sure why we care if people don't come, but more to the point, it's a waste of her time. The Global Conference is here this year anyway. Why don't we just tack the party onto the end of the Conference? People are going to be here anyway, so we just make the party bigger, invite everybody from Houen and Shinou and whatnot, very strongly suggest the Indigo League stick around up here, and basically make it an enormous shindig?"

"Well, you mean, aside from the fact that we're all going to be sick of having the Houen and Shinou people up here in the first place?" Lorelei asked wryly. "That's not a serious objection… at least I don't think so. I think it's a good idea."

"I think it's a terrible idea," Morty said. "Not because you were the one to suggest it, although that too, but because like Lorelei said, we're already going to have these people up here for a week, and if we liked them, we'd invite them up more than once a year."

"Fortunately, you don't actually have a voice in this," Karin said sweetly. "Because, dearest darlingest baby brother-kins, you got invited to this meeting out of courtesy since your rump was up here anyway, not because your opinion counts."

((This might not be the time or place)) Will suggested, although he didn't expect himself to be taken seriously.

"Anyone else have a serious objection to just taking the party onto the end of the Conference, gritting our teeth, and having Indigo crammed with people a few extra days?"

"Saves me time chasing people down, I'm all for it," Clair said. As a Leader, she would have been like Morty in the role of observer for this meeting of the Elite; but unlike him, she stood Elite Reserve, and as such she did have a voice.

"Do we think people will actually stick around for it?" Bruno asked. "I mean, seems to me, if you're not going to come to the party, you're not going to come to the party, you just end up scooting out a day early instead of leaving on time."

Karin shrugged. "Two words. Free alcohol."

"That works for you, not necessarily the rest of the world."

"I think it's a good enough suggestion," Lance said. "If people don't come they don't come. Let's just do it that way."

"One more suggestion," Karin and Morty said at the same time. They looked at each other and grinned, though there wasn't much humor in either; Will rolled his eyes. Morty made an expansive "Oh no, after you" gesture.

"Don't invite my mother," Karin said.

"You know I have to do that."

"She always comes, and she always ends up screaming bloody murder at one or the other of us. I don't care that she's a former Elite, seems to me that the fact she can't control herself in public is a good enough objection."

((Especially if we are going to have the representatives from the Houen and Shinou leagues here as well)) Will pointed out. ((It would be embarrassing to have to escort her out in front of them, but more embarrassing if she were to stay and do it anyway))

"And no one ever eggs her on. She always starts it. Face it, Lance, it's a scene every year."

Lance rubbed his temples. "You know I agree with you that she's a train wreck on two legs-"

"Good, then it's settled?"

"I wasn't finished. I can't not invite her. She's a former Elite but more to the point, she's the head of the Gravekeeper Clan. That's a hell of an insult, to leave her off the list."

"Invite the Clan scion in her stead," Morty suggested.

"You're already invited, Morty, and she'd still come up here screaming. Besides which, if she thinks it's coming from me, she's going to think that the Dragon Clan is snubbing her, which means she'll be coming up fit to be tied to yell at one of you, plus she'll probably start a Clan war in the middle of the party."

"There hasn't been a Clan war in two hundred years, Lance," Karin said.

"And that's all the more reason to not start one now. I don't know what your Clan leader is like, but I know what Draco will do if-"

"So have Lorelei sign the invites," Morty interrupted.

"Hell, I'll sign them," Karin snapped. "I can make it in very clear language that-"

"It doesn't matter who signs them if the point is that she's not getting one!" Lance said. "She's still going to think it comes from me, which means she is still going to think it comes from Dragon, which means she will still come up here to pick a fight with me, with Uncle Draco, and with you, possibly but not absolutely in that order, and if we really lock her out through shields and security, she'll just pick another time and place."

"Dammit," Morty said. "What do we have to do to convince you?"

"I don't think it's going to work," Lorelei attempted, but Morty's glare cut her off.

"Beyond being a twisted waste of carbon, she's also insane. Do we want her representing Indigo in public?"

"Whom can we invite from Gravekeeper that could be trusted to keep her sort of under wraps?" Lance asked. "Anyone?"

((There is not a soul in the Clan- pun intended- who could stand up to her that is not in this room, except our sister, who is likely to attempt to incinerate her, and that will not end any better)) Will said grimly. ((I am not sure how things work in Dragon, but one does not oppose the Clan Matriarch if one wants to live. That is not an exaggeration))

Lance sighed and ran a hand through his hair, making it stick up even more than usual. "Look, it's not that I like this any more than you do—"

"Trust me, you do," Karin interrupted.

"—but it's two kinds of hell if she's invited, and four if she isn't."

"Right," Karin said, standing up. "I'm going to see if I remember the name of the guy I met in a bar in Goldenrod last year who told me he was an assassin by trade. I think he was kidding, but it's possible he wasn't."

"I'm pretty sure that even though killing your mother would be ethically justified, it would still be illegal," Lance said.

"Who said I was taking a contract out on her? I'm taking it out on you. If I want my mother's head on a platter I'm doing it myself," Karin snapped, slamming the door.

Morty and Will got to their feet. ((I think we'd better…))

"She's kidding," Morty said as Clair slipped out the door behind them. "I'm pretty sure. But I think we'd ought to…"

"Yeah," Lance said. "Yeah. I think you'd ought to too."