Series: Tales of Vesperia
Story warnings: language and some blood
A/N: Written as a prequel for the Seaside set, this story ended up being WAY longer than originally anticipated. XD
As with the others from this set, this is a gift fic for Flynntervention on tumblr. <3
Disclaimer: The characters in this story are from Tales of Vesperia and do not belong to me.
Yuri woke the next morning out of an uneasy sleep plagued with nightmares that had kept her tossing and turning all night. Almost as frustrating was that she could remember no details from them, only that something had been chasing her through the empty streets of the city. She took offense to the fact that her dreams had been bad enough to disturb her sleep, yet hadn't left a lasting impression. Nightmares had no business being both exhausting and forgettable.
Lack of sleep made for a long day at the bakery. Familiarity with her routine kept Yuri moving, but a few too many close calls with customers that were too picky or too slow, in too much of a hurry, not polite enough, or even a bit too chipper got Yuri banished to the back of the shop while her manager took over counter duties. It suited her just fine. She preferred working dough and baking pastries to dealing with customers anyhow, even though her wrists complained after all their rough treatment only hours before. The business of the kitchen, the sweet, fresh scents, and pans full of perfectly-cooked treats slowly counteracted Yuri's exhaustion. She liked her job. She loved to bake. This was who she was, really. Just a baker. Magic kept life interesting, but it was too much trouble to make a living at it. Far simpler to be normal.
Fifteen minutes before Yuri's shift was set to end, as she was putting out a fresh tray of scones, Leblanc pulled into a parking space across the street, got out of his car and leaned against it. He was facing the bakery, not quite staring, but very obviously waiting. Yuri's mood soured instantly. He could only be there for her. Briefly, she considered ducking out the back and losing herself in the city for a few hours, but curiosity got the better of her. Leblanc was being, in his own way, subtle. If he'd actually had anything on her, he'd be in the bakery to drag her off for questioning, handcuffs at the ready. The fact that he was waiting patiently was odd. Yuri found that she was intrigued.
Still, a summons was a summons, and Yuri wasn't in any rush to comply. When it was time to clock out, she didn't bother to hurry as she washed up. Before leaving the shop, she even took her time looking at the pastries in their pristine cases before buying a few. When she couldn't really put off the meeting any longer, she left. The cheerful jingling of the bell above the door called out for Leblanc's attention, and he stood up straight, no longer leaning against his car, attention now focused on Yuri as she crossed the street. As she came within earshot, Yuri pulled a chocolate glazed out of her bag and held it up in front of the detective.
“Cop want a doughnut?”
“I'm watching my sugar intake.”
His response was so level that Yuri honestly couldn't tell whether he'd deliberately ignored the jibe or simply hadn't caught it. Either way, she didn't push the issue. Taking a bite out of the doughnut, she spoke around the mouthful. “Why the stakeout?”
“Get in the car.”
“Not really looking for a date tonight.”
“We can do this here or in an interrogation room. I'm only giving you a choice because here would be quicker.”
Interesting. “Well, when you put it so nicely....”
She gobbled down the rest of the doughnut as she circled the car and slipped into the passenger seat. Across from her, Leblanc dropped into his seat and slammed the door shut. His car wasn't as messy as some of the marked cars Yuri had been in, but it definitely boasted its share of signs that Leblanc spent a good deal of his work day in it. Paperwork, notes on suspects and leads, bulging files, and swarms of receipts competed with crumpled bags marked with fast food and take out logos. A few things were wedged on the dash, some in the door pockets, most on the floorboards or back seat.
A small notebook computer was sitting on the console. Leblanc opened it up and dug a flash drive out of his pocket to fiddle with as the computer booted up. Already growing impatient, and with nothing to say into the silence, Yuri pulled a bear claw, sticky with honey and sprinkled with slivered almonds, out of her bag. Crumbs and bits of nuts dusted her shirt as she took a bite, and she gained some petty satisfaction from swiping the mess off over the clutter of papers on the floor.
“Are you actually planning on telling me why I'm eating lunch in your car?”
“I have a clip from one of the surveillance cameras at the marina. I thought you might find it interesting.”
Yuri wondered how far she would be able to get if she hopped out and ran. Don't-see-me spells didn't work on cameras.
“You aren't protesting your innocence.”
“As if you'd listen.” She took an extra large bite out of her bear claw to keep her mouth busy.
Leblanc stuck the flash drive into the computer and scrolled through a hodgepodge of icons until he came to the one he wanted. He double clicked it, then turned the notebook to face Yuri as a video player woke and took a few seconds to process and start to play the clip.
The footage was a grainy, greeny-grayscale, slightly fishbowl view of the near end of one of the piers. The resolution wasn't the best. Shadows were opaque splashes of ink, and the halogen lamps in the corner were an overexposed glare of pure white. There was no movement except for the time stamp, and, as Yuri waited, she became aware of how closely Leblanc's attention was focused on her. Whatever was about to happen, he'd seen it already. It was only her reaction that interested him now. Taking another bite, she relaxed her expression into blankness.
Yuri had expected to see herself appear, bottle pendulum leading the way, spray paint peeking guiltily out of her bag. Instead, a shadow entered the camera's view. At the sight of it, a chill ran down Yuri's spine. This wasn't a person's shadow cast across the ground, but rather a dark form, person-shaped, though Yuri was willing to bet her last doughnut that it wasn't human. It disappeared, heading down toward the end of the pier, and Yuri's stomach sank as she was filled with the sudden certainty that this was the same pier where the boat she'd cursed was tied up. In less than a minute, the shadow-thing was back again. Its outline suggested that it held a hand up to its face. Yuri stared, unable to look away. Then, in the moment before it walked out of sight once more, it looked straight up at the camera. Was that a flare because of the angle, or two gray eyes? A spear of light from the halogen bulbs, or a flash of white teeth? The camera recorded in black and white, so Yuri couldn't have seen that flash of red near its mouth, couldn't possibly have, just like the creature couldn't have known that she would be able to see it smiling a promise at her out of a tiny computer screen.
The video cut off. Yuri felt cold all of a sudden. She couldn't look away from the screen, and realized that the figure had left in the direction of the marina's exit. Dread settled on her shoulders, making her shiver. There was only one entrance and exit from the marina. It shouldn't mean anything that she had let Leblanc usher her along the same way the shadow had gone. It shouldn't, but she shouldn't have been able to see the blood, either, and she was unable to shake the certainty that it had gone down the same pier, down to the same boat, down to where she had cast her spell and left no wards stronger than a suggestion to overlook a layer of paint that wasn't quite the right white. Had that happened before this shadow had appeared or after? She couldn't remember the time, hadn't been paying attention. Not good. Oh, definitely not good.
“Shit,” Yuri breathed. A chill ran up her spine as she recalled her encounter with Raven the night before.
“Look familiar?” Leblanc prompted. She'd almost forgotten he was there.
“It's a doppelganger.” She said it knowing that he wouldn't understand, that the uneasiness in the pit of her stomach wasn't something she'd be able to explain.
“Something like that,” she answered, distantly.
“Doesn't look much like you.” He turned the computer so that he could see the screen and fiddled with the video, frowning at it. Yuri wondered if he would be able to see the red.
Shit, shit, shit. She hadn't expected to ever have to deal with a doppelganger. How was she supposed to fight something that she couldn't touch?
“If you know who this is, then you need to tell me. The boat I caught you on was vandalized last night.”
Leblanc hesitated, then: “Sliced up. Someone hacked all though the body right around the motor. Must have been a damn strong knife to make cuts like the ones I saw.”
It wouldn't have been a knife. Trying not to think about the doppelganger's fangs slicing through the molded plastic of the boat as it lapped up traces of her blood, Yuri remembered the combat knife that she carried with her everywhere. Leblanc had seen it before. She eyed him suspiciously.
“I'm surprised you aren't blaming me.”
“I walked you out personally, remember? This happened seconds after we left. Besides, the image might be crap, but that obviously isn't you.”
Give it a few days, Yuri thought. Shit. She was going to need a plan. Plans weren't her strong suit.
“You need anything else from me, or am I free to go?”
“Whose boat was it? Why were you on it? Why might someone bear a grudge against the owner? I don't believe in coincidence. You know something about this.”
Leblanc needed a story, so Yuri gave him one, the truth stretched thin and dressed up in lies. A friend of hers had been hit by the boat because the driver hadn't been paying attention to swimmers.
“What friend? What hospital did she go to for her injuries?” Leblanc had pulled out his notepad and was writing as fast as Yuri talked.
“Ariel. No hospitals. She didn't want it on record. She called a family doctor.”
“Last name? Doctor's name?”
“She isn't that close a friend.”
Plenty of people in town knew about Yuri's reputation as a witch, though most didn't put any real stock in it. Yuri was betting that Leblanc was one of those. She told him that “Ariel” had asked her to curse the boat as a punishment.
“What do you mean by curse? What did you do?”
“Nothing! She just wanted me to go out there and chant a spell so that she could feel better about the whole thing. It's all a bunch of nonsense. I went out to the boat, sent her a photo to be sure it was the right one, and told her I'd cursed it. That was all.”
He paused in his writing and stared at her over his notepad. “You were out before dawn to pretend to curse a boat for a friend whose last name you don't know.”
“Now you know why I told you I dropped my water bottle,” Yuri snapped. Maybe sounding indignant over the ridiculousness of her own story would throw him off. She doubted it.
Yuri told him about the man Flynn had saved. She credited Ariel with trying to help him, but suggested that maybe he hadn't been too happy about nearly being run over and had come back to get even with his buddy. That at least sounded like a more promising lead. Yuri hoped Leblanc would run with it—or pass it on to whichever uniform got handed the case. She didn't think that detectives usually got stuck investigating petty vandalism, and wondered if he'd only bothered because she'd been on the scene right before it happened. Wrong place, wrong time.
Eventually, Leblanc ran out of questions. Or, more likely, he realized that Yuri honestly couldn't provide some answers and definitely wasn't going to provide others. He didn't bother to thank her for cooperating, but as she was getting out of his car, he did call out to her.
His mouth was twisted with dissatisfaction as Yuri leaned over to look back at him inside the car. She'd expected him to tell her that he knew she wasn't giving him the whole truth, or that she had better stay away from the marina and the vandalized boat. He surprised her.
“Eat something healthy for lunch. All that sugar isn't good for you.”
Stunned and not sure how to respond to that, Yuri nodded and slammed the door shut. She watched Leblanc pull away from the curb and drive off, wondering if that was really what he'd called her back for, or if he'd changed what he meant to say last minute. She shook her head, and turned toward home. She had enough to worry about without Leblanc suddenly showing concern for her.
“Almost as creepy as the doppelganger,” Yuri muttered.
Oh, yeah. Plenty to worry about.
As the water rocked Flynn gently, her tail moved almost reflexively with the slight current. She winced at the pain it caused her. Anger and determination had gotten her back to the cavern that now sheltered her from the stronger currents of the open ocean, but her entire back was one massive ache. It was almost beyond her strength to pull herself further up onto the lip of stone that jutted out into the water, but she clenched her jaw and managed, thinking only of the cessation of pain once she was able to lie still. Her effort let her shaking and gasping for breath. Darkness apart from that of the dim cavern pulsed at the edges of her vision. She was mostly out of the water. Only the end of her tail remained below the surface, fins swaying with the movement of the sea water that eddied in through submerged tunnels and fissures. She took deep breaths of the searing air of the cavern, wishing she could simply dive back beneath the waves and let the ocean cradle her as she healed. The pain was too much for that, however. Currents would mean she would be forced to move, and movement meant pain. It was a wonder she had made it to the marina and back, but necessity had demanded the trip.
Anger surged within her, but it was a receding tide. Exhaustion had eaten away at her reserves, and fury required far too much energy to sustain. When the sylphs had first found her down in this very same cave, they had revealed that Yuri had taken some of Flynn's spilled blood. The information had frozen Flynn's heart in her chest for a moment. That she had let a human gain such power over her had been inconceivable. As soon as the sylphs brought her word that Yuri was returning to the waterfront, Flynn had struck out after her in defiance of her injury. She had gone straight to the marina, as fast as she had been able. Once she had found Yuri, she had called out, putting every scrap of magic and will that she could manage into the witch's name, knowing it wouldn't be enough to bind her.
Flynn had felt something. There had been a fleeting moment of connection, a sense that she knew who Yuri really was at the core of her being. The sensation had faded as quickly as it had come, leaving her dizzy and confused. Intuition had told Flynn that Yuri would never have used her blood maliciously. Startled, exhausted, injured and wracked with pain, however, Flynn had set intuition aside and clung to the anger that had sustained her from the cavern to the marina. She'd gotten her blood back. More, she had exacted a promise sworn in blood that Yuri would come to her aid once again.
It was that thought that conspired with her pain to keep Flynn from sleep. Why had she been so insistent that Yuri return to see to her injury? There was no trust between them that hadn't been born of necessity. Even that should have been negated by Yuri's theft of the blood. Flynn considered her situation again as the water lapped low against her tail.
Her wound was bad. Before Yuri had found her, Flynn had feared that it might prove fatal. Now, so long as she rested, rather than swimming around and pulling the gashes open, it seemed that she would heal, in time. Still, while she knew that she would survive, she had never been hurt so badly before, and didn't know how well her wounds would heal or how long the process would take. She was too far from home to seek help from her own kind, and she lacked the knowledge of a healer. Accepting the witch's help was the only option.
To Yuri's credit, the salve she had used had numbed the pain, though it had all but worn off after only a few hours. The bandages she had tied remained secure. The more Flynn thought about it, the more she was certain she would not have made it to the marina without both of those things. In fact, without the bandage and Yuri's aid both in tending to her wound and in getting her back into the water, Flynn was uncomfortably certain that she would have died there on the dry, comfortless beach, laid out for all the human world to see. Until Yuri had come to her, she'd had very little strength left, hadn't even been conscious to use what remained. There was a debt owed, and that thought made her, perhaps, just a little bit ashamed of how she had acted when she had last seen Yuri. Then again, humans could be awfully tricky, and it was probably for the best that Flynn had established that she was not to be trifled with, even when badly injured.
...Except she didn't truly believe that Yuri was that type of human. That was the crux of Flynn's internal debate. It was that certainty, that doubt over what she had always been taught, that demanded her attention and held sleep at bay. It troubled her deeply, and Flynn found herself wishing to be overtaken by the exhaustion that had left her defenseless on the beach. At least in her cavern she would not have to worry about being discovered.
Too tired to even attempt to still her thoughts, Flynn did her best to pillow her head comfortably on her crossed arms and waited for sleep to take her.
The moment Yuri set foot in the ocean, Flynn knew she was there. She woke with a start, pushing herself up on her arms with a suddenness that woke the agony in her back and left her momentarily paralyzed, teeth bared in a silent scream. She sank back down onto the stone as the worst of the pain receded, and drew deep, steadying breaths as she mastered what remained. What little sleep she'd gotten hadn't been nearly enough, and being so long out of water was taking a toll as well. The ocean called to her—Sink into me. Relax.—but she dreaded the short swim out to the beach and the way the currents would force her to work her muscles. She felt about as capable of swimming as a frond of seaweed but knew that she had little choice. Slowly, she eased backward into the water.
Relief hit her nearly as strong as the pain had. The ocean was a balm against her dry skin, and for a minute she simply floated, moving only enough to be sure she stayed well below the surface. She longed to linger in the calm water and regain some of her strength, but she couldn't very well ignore Yuri after forcing that promise out of her. Carefully, reluctantly, she made her way down to the tunnel that would let her out into the open ocean.
The powerful movements of her tail that normally propelled her swiftly along her course now sent shock waves of pain running through her. Using her arms to drag herself through the water caused twinges of agony. She felt more slow and unwieldy than any human she'd ever seen try to swim. It was humiliating enough that she was almost glad to be so far from any others of her kind. Although she knew there were limits to what a witch's magic could do, she hoped that Yuri had come prepared with something more effective than the salve she'd had last time.
When Flynn surfaced, she did so a ways out from the shore. She wanted to be certain that Yuri was alone. Her tentative trust in the witch didn't yet extend to anyone Yuri might think to vouch for. Thankfully, she was alone, pacing in the weak waves that caressed the beach. Every now and again, she would lift her head to peer out over the ocean. It wasn't until Flynn lifted an arm to get her attention that Yuri left the shore behind.
They met in shallow water. It was difficult for Flynn to fight the current that one minute swelled to toss her toward the shore and the next to pull her out to sea. She tried to ride the shore-bound waves to save herself the hurt, and Yuri sloshed along gracelessly beside her.
“'Bout time, you watery harpy,” Yuri muttered.
“Harpy?” Flynn was so startled by the affront that she nearly let herself be dragged away from the shore.
“You didn't have to curse me.”
“It was not a curse.” As the water grew more shallow, it became harder to lift her head above the waves long enough to talk. “Merely an...incentive.”
Yuri snorted. She let Flynn struggle on in the increasingly shallow waves until, exhausted and too weak to claw her way up onto dry land, Flynn gave in.
“Help me.” She tried to make it a demand, but even she could hear the weariness in her voice.
“I dunno. You gonna bite me again? I'm not really inclined to let an angry mermaid lay another compulsion on me.”
“You swore in blood. I didn't compel you to come here.” Quietly, she admitted: “I don't have that kind of magic.” True, there would have been consequences if Yuri had broken her promise, but they would not have originated from Flynn. Magic had its own rules and laws and exacted its own punishments when those were broken.
There was obvious doubt in the sound Yuri made, but she stooped low in the waves and let Flynn climb onto her back in order to carry her to shore. The relief was immediate, and Flynn couldn't keep herself from sighing softly. She allowed herself to relax against Yuri, soaking in the warmth of her skin. As the waves surged and rushed around her legs, Yuri stumbled and swayed, but she held herself upright, bent half over to be sure Flynn didn't slip off. Just like the night before, she made no complaint about the effort involved, and Flynn thought again that, in her panic over the sylphs' news, she had misjudged Yuri. It had been an understandable mistake, but still....
Well. When this was all over she would apologize and offer her thanks as was proper. That would include, she thought with some unease, an admission of the debt between them. What might Yuri ask for in return for having saved her life?
When Yuri judged that they were high enough on the beach, she knelt on the sand and let Flynn ease down off her back. She had chosen to stop where the waves still raced over Flynn's tail and tickled low on her sides before receding. It was another small kindness that Flynn took note of. She made herself comfortable as Yuri brought over a bag she'd had sitting in the sand not too far away. She drew her gleaming knife once more, and Flynn held her breath as Yuri cut away the sodden bandages she'd made of her bag the other night.
“All right. Let's see how well this held up.”
The fabric she'd placed across Flynn's wounds did not lift away easily. Sticky with blood and imbued with magic, it clung to Flynn's skin. Yuri was forced to slide her fingers beneath it, working it carefully, painstakingly free while trying not to tug too hard at the healing flesh. Her fingers were gentle and as warm as sunlight. Still, pain was unavoidable, and Flynn gritted her teeth to bear it, drawing strength from Yuri's care. She would not show weakness when she was already being treated so delicately.
“I had to go get more of that salve from Estelle. You should have seen her face when I told her I'd used it all up already.” She paused a moment, then: “Actually, I think she was afraid someone was dying.”
“What did you tell her?” All Flynn could think of was the taboo against interacting with humans, and how she'd broken it twice over the span of a few tides. Would Yuri now go spreading stories about mermaids to those who hadn't seen?
“Just that I ran across someone before even making it into my apartment building. Hey, you should let me call Estelle down here.”
“No!” She flinched at her own ferocity, and subsided. “I don't want any other humans to know about me.”
“All right, but, like I said, I'm not great at healing.”
“Anything you can do is fine.”
Wind brushed across her exposed back, making her tense and shiver. She was cold everywhere except for where Yuri's fingers worked their way across her skin. Even that small bit of warmth would not last much longer. Flynn could feel that she was nearing the last of the cloth.
“Just a bit more.” Yuri's words echoed Flynn's thoughts so closely that she wondered for a moment if the witch had read her mind. But no. Yuri continued on, talking softly as she worked the cloth free. “Just this last corner and...there! That's got it. You all right?”
“Fine.” She craned her neck, trying to get a good look over her shoulder. Her back protested the movement, and she settled down. She hadn't been able to see much of the damage, anyway.
The heat of Yuri's fingers returned, prodding gently, examining. “Looks better than last night. I think. It's hard to tell.”
Reaching into her bag, she pulled out a small, black wand. There was a small click, and then light shone forth from one end. Yuri held it in her teeth, directing the light down over Flynn's back as she resumed checking over the wounds. She didn't stop talking as she went, but the thing in her mouth left her largely unintelligible.
“I can't understand you,” Flynn grumbled after a moment. She was beginning to think that Yuri wasn't actually speaking to her. It was strange to feel studied and ignored at the same time.
Yuri pulled the thing out of her mouth. “I concentrate better when I talk to myself. You do look better. These are healing much quicker than I would have expected.”
“I don't feel a great deal better,” she said, doubtfully. Holding still, Flynn tried to turn her awareness of the injury inwards, trying to gauge the extent of it and compare that to when she had first washed ashore. It was...different...but if she was so much better, then why did it hurt so much more?
“Doesn't surprise me. You've been swimming around and screwing up your muscles worse. You're probably gonna be achy for a while. The good news is that I brought more of Estelle's salve, which can help with that.” She pulled a small jar out of her bag with a grin. “I've got actual bandages this time, too, and some medical tape and gauze. We'll get you patched up right.”
Flynn shrank from her enthusiasm over the unfamiliar words. Tape? Gauze? “I think what you did last time was fairly effective.”
“Hang on.” She put the wand back into her mouth and studied the wounds a moment. “You aren't bleeding nearly as much this time. I can try that again, but I don't think it will work as well.”
“Do it, please. The sooner I am whole again, the better.”
“Hate to be a downer, but it's gonna be a while before you're a hundred percent.”
“Can't say for sure.”
“Will I need to meet you again?” As she asked the question, Flynn realized with some surprise that she hoped the answer would be yes. There was something about Yuri that made her...curious.
“It's up to you. Looking at this, though, I'd say you ought to stick around for at least another few nights. Then again, maybe your mermaid super healing powers will kick into overdrive and you won't need me anymore. Here's hoping, right?”
For a moment, Flynn was shocked. She watched Yuri's grin fade into a look of puzzlement and remembered herself. “Right. Yes.” Better to get it over with and part ways, although she knew that she wouldn't heal all that quickly on her own. “That would be for the best.”
It bothered her that the thought made her feel...lonely.
Although the mermaid was the least of her problems, Yuri found herself thinking of Flynn on her way home rather than focusing on her troubles. It was a hassle she hadn't expected to be dealing with, but it was her own fault for getting involved. If she hadn't been visiting Estelle and Rita, if she hadn't decided to detour for a walk along the beach on the way home, if she hadn't spotted that odd shape in the moonlight....
Nothing to be done about it. Once she'd seen the injured mermaid, walking away hadn't really been an option. Yuri had been on her knees in the sand before she'd had a chance to think, assessing the damage and racking her brain for the healing spells her mentor and Estelle had tried to teach her. She'd cleaned out Flynn's wounds, chanting spells to stop the bleeding, to ease pain, to rouse the body's natural healing processes. She hadn't really thought it would do much good at first. Flynn had been impossibly cold and pale when Yuri had found her, but she'd kept at it for an hour, doing the best she could and trying to trust in her own power to accomplish such a task.
To her own surprise, her persistence had paid off. Now, it seemed like Flynn had only needed a jump start to begin recovering on her own. She had made it out to the marina that night, after all, and Yuri wouldn't have believed it possible had she not seen it with her own eyes. Being fae probably made her far less delicate than a human would be, but that sort of strength was matched by Flynn's own determination. Yuri rubbed her bitten finger, still sore and a bit swollen, and felt a grudging respect for Flynn. Sure, at the time she'd been pissed, but when Yuri thought about it, she'd have been just as upset if she'd found out someone had taken some of her blood.
Which, of course, led her right back around to thoughts of the doppelganger.
Some days, it just did not pay to be a witch.
She was going to need to do some research. The old woman she'd learned her witchcraft from had only told her about doppelgangers once, and that story had been interrupted by a customer with an emergency. Yuri had forgotten all about it until she'd seen the shadowy thing on the security footage. If it hadn't been for Raven's chance comment, she might not even have made the connection then. She struggled to recall more of what she had been told.
Doppelgangers stalked their victims. They started out as shadowy creatures less substantial than the one on the security footage, but they gained substance as they got closer and closer. Consuming blood, hair, skin, sweat—anything—would add to their strength and start to give them shape. They could be fought, but Yuri wasn't sure how. The last thing she remembered was her teacher describing what had happened to a man that had tried to take on the doppelganger stalking him barehanded.
She cursed herself now for never having gotten the rest of the story. Back then, though, she hadn't even really believed in things like that. It wasn't something that was ever supposed to come out of the story to hunt her.
She would have to go back to Estelle and Rita's place to ask them. Estelle knew more stories than anyone else, and Rita thoroughly researched anything that caught her interest. One of them might know how to deal with doppelgangers. If not, then she would find out some other way. One thing was for sure: there was no way Yuri was going to let one of those things run amok in her town, wearing her face. She smiled grimly to herself as she walked home, thinking that she was going to make that doppelganger sorry it had ever crossed her path.