Part III A Simple Twist of Fate

The Real Rikako's Return

Rikako arrives ahead of her entourage and immediately asks for the Hokage at the adminstration building.

"Greetings, Hokage-sama," Rikako gives him a respectful bow.

"No need to be so formal now is there? You're still Rikako-chan to us you know. Or do you prefer to be called Raikage?"

"Well, since we're equals, you can still call me by my name. I'm afraid everyone else should address me appropriately."

Hokage laughs, "Well, then what brings you here to Konoha, Rikako-chan?"

"I'm not sure how serious this is, or whether it will involve Konoha, but my older sister is missing."

"Your sister?"

"Yes, she escape from an asylum a few days ago. We haven't been able to locate her. In the off chance that she made her way here, I thought you should be warned." Nice way to put it, I know she must be here.

"Is she strong?"

"I'm not sure how strong, but strong enough I imagine to cause trouble."

"I'll have the Anbu keep a lookout. What does she look like?"

"Like me, but thinner, hair is a bit shorter, they have to keep hair short at the asylum. I just hope no one gets us confused. That's why I'm wearing my Raikage robes."

Hokage sighs and thinks back to the time he considered her as a hokage candidate. He had rejected the idea since she was not native born to Konoha and there could be future problems. Plus she was not the type to be interested. It was just destiny's cruel trick that forced her into her current position. Naruto would be the obvious choice now because of his strength, but did he have the diplomacy, the political savvy that was also required?

As if reading his mind she asks him, "So have you chosen your successor yet?"

"Alas, there are candidates with the strength, but none have the temperament." He thinks of his past students, the legendary sannin, how disappointing to have one student turn out to be a psycho, another an irresponsible voyeur, and another a gambling addict with hemophobia.

"What about Naruto? I hear he's coming along now."

"Yes, well, could you imagine him at official functions? Trying to negotiate alliances? I'm afraid he's still needs time to mature, but he's improving every year. He nearly had an aneurysm when he found out you became Raikage first."

"Hah, yes I can well imagine…"

Flashback to her chuunin years:

Kakashi wants Rikako to teach Naruto a lesson and asks her, "Rikako-chan I'd like you to do me a favor."

"If I can, Kakashi-sensei," she says, warily.

"I'd like you to train with Naruto."

"I won't be able to defeat him," she says, thinking seriously, knowing what she knows from the thoughts of various adults.

"You don't need to defeat him. It's just a training session…"

Kakashi: "Naruto-kun, I would like you to train with Otori Rikako tomorrow."

"Rikako? Isn't she the one who defeated a cloud shinobi at the last chuunin exam?"

"Yes, that's her."

"All right! She's cute too isn't she? And strong? This will be interesting! She's not in love with Sasuke is she?"

"Hmm, I don't think she particularly likes him, no…"

"Even better! Wait, I've never fought a girl before…"

"That's why you need to train with her."

"I don't want to have to hurt her. I mean she's smaller and younger than me."

"Don't worry about it, she can take care of herself."

Rikako: "I'm very please to meet you Naruto-sempai." She gives him a polite bow. I've heard great things regarding your many accomplishments from Kakashi-sensei and others. It's a great honor for me to train with you."

Naruto thinks, "she sure is pretty, I like her, she's heard of me." Then says, "I don't know if I can hit a girl. I never had to, you know. This is going to be tough for me."

"If it helps, I'll fight you as your rival." She transforms to Sasuke.

"Why'd you have to pick him! Well, I guess that will help. Ok, let's get started." Naruto concentrates on thinking that who he sees before him is Sasuke and gets psyched up. He does his Kage Bunshin and attacks immediately.

Rikako quickly transforms to a beautiful statuesque naked Sakura! All the Naruto clones get nosebleeds! They disappear except the original. Naruto gets up, "Hey, that wasn't fair!"

Rikako, back to normal, "I was just trying out one of your techniques. It really does work! I heard of your Sexy no jutsu, and I wanted to see if it would work on its originator, quite a handy distraction technique. I'll have to add it my repertoire."

"This isn't over, go back to being Sasuke!"

"I would think that by now you would want to fight the real me."

But Naruto can't get the thought of naked Sakura out of his head. He thinks, "who is this kid? A chuunin at 12, but she acts older. I can't lose to a girl!"

Kakashi, surprised, thinks, "I've never seen her use that before. Not sure if I should encourage something like that. Bad enough Naruto uses it. The foreign shinobis would think Konoha raises nothing but perverts. Well, at least she understands Naruto's problem of being distracted, especially when it comes to girls. At fifteen, he's a typical teenage boy, at least in terms of his hormones. Her specialty is distraction and Naruto needs to learn to overcome that. If he were sent on a mission, against a seductive woman, he needs to keep focused. This should be interesting."

Naruto does his Kage Bunshin and attacks again. Rikako jumps adroitly out of the way, sends her senbon needles directly at one of the clones, hits pressure points and paralyzes him temporarily. It's the real Naruto and all the other clones disappear!

"How did you know that was the real me?"

"I simply kept an eye on the real you when you replicated."

"All right, let's try this again."

Rikako notes that despite hitting his pressure points, Naruto is barely affected because of his great stamina and chakra.

Naruto and his clones attack again but this time he adds a smoke bomb so she can not see which is the real him.

But as the smoke clears, Naruto gets a surprise…a harem no jutsu of naked Sakuras! The clones nosebleed again, and Naruto is down.

Kakashi thinks, "know thy enemy. No wonder she asked me if Naruto had someone he liked."

Naruto thinks, "this girl is too smart for me. Why do I always fall for the smart ones?"

The talk between the kages is interrupted by a stumbling and bleeding Kakashi. She immediately sees that Kakashi is seriously injured. A look of concern crosses her face as she rushes over to his side.

"What happened? You've lost quite a lot of blood," she frowns as she checks his pulse.

"Rikako? But how..." he manages to say before he loses consciousness.

Rikako quickly performs a stasis seal to stop the bleeding and then transfers some of her chakra to help him to consciousness. The Hokage has already sent for the shinobi medics.

"Kakashi-kun," she says, more gently than is normal for her, "who's done this to you?"

He opens his eye slightly, still confused he says, "I'm not sure, I thought it was you..."

"Where is she?"

"She attacked me at my place. I don't know if she's still there…" he passes out again.

"Please watch over him, Hokage-sama, this is my responsibility."

Mirror-Mirror

The doorbell rings again. Rika is about to go upstairs holding a tray with a cup of tea with milk and sugar, the way her daughter likes it, and some cookies, her favorites. She balances the tray on one hand and opens the door. She nearly drops the tray, but Rikako deftly catches it. Rika is shocked to silence at seeing her daughter again, this time in the official Raikage robes.

"Hi, mom, looks like you've already met my double…"

She feels the other's presence coming up the stairs. So this is it, fight or flight?

"I thought you'd be here."

"I knew you would find me. Took you long enough."

"I felt you needed a bit of freedom after what you've been through. But you shouldn't have attacked Kakashi like that."

"Oh? I didn't think you cared. You know, I made a better you than you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Your friends, your family, they prefer me to you."

"That's only because you became what they wanted. That's not the real you or me."

"Do you think you're better than me? You use your powers just as indiscriminately - extracting information at will, changing people's memories and feelings, what you did to Kakashi was worst than a couple of kunais to the chest. And let's see, I killed…umm…4 people, put one in a coma, and injured a few during my toddler years. What about you? How many deaths are you responsible for?"

"You're not my conscience!"

"No, but I know you better than yourself. I'm your dark side, the side you've denied existed."

"We may share similar DNA, but you're not me."

"No, I'm just who you could be. Not just similar DNA, the same DNA, we're both genetically engineered…"

"What are you saying?"

"You heard me. Don't believe me? Do a mind scan on our dear uncle."

"It doesn't matter. You have to go back now."

"Make me."

"If I have to, I will."

"You'll have to kill me you know."

"If it comes to that, yes."

"It won't be as easy as you think."

"Probably not…" Rikako says as she unleases a chakra rope hoping to bind Rei without hurting her. But she evades it easily and counters with a lightning bolt, but Rikako uses kawarimi and the chair is destroyed instead…

Flashback:

On her way to her parents' house, Rikako thinks "I don't know how strong her powers are. She was only a genin when she was institutionalized. She probably doesn't know that many jutsus and her chakra and stamina should be less than mine. She's been on the run for days and probably didn't have a decent meal until she got here. But insanity gives the victim boosts of unimaginable strength. She's smart, too." Rikako knows she has to be careful not to underestimate her. She cannot use the mindblast, that requires homing in on a brainwave frequency. Rei's mind was too erratic. Besides, that would be final, and she does not want to kill her if she can help it.

Rikako sends a funnel of wind toward her while adding in chakra ropes, hoping to entwine her. Rei sends a lightning blast to the window and jumps out, escaping to the roof. Rikako follows, but Rei is waiting and throws shurikens at her followed by another lightning bolt. Rikako blocks, but it looks like she takes the hit from the lightning bolt, but it's a clone. Then from behind Rei the roof explodes, blasting her back and injuring her with its debris. She nearly falls off the roof and hangs on with one hand. She's bleeding with lacerations and puncture wounds, a couple of broken ribs, and she's low on chakra, but her obstinacy would not let her give in. In the twelve years of confinement, with the chakra dampeners in place, she has taught herself to open five of the eight inner gates that regulate chakra. She opens the first two inner gates for a boost of chakra and to heal, and then the third. Rikako is shocked to see red chakra emanating from her body - she recognizes that her sister is opening the inner gates and she has to stop her before she opens any more.

Rikako thinks I can't hold back anymore as she sends a volley of fireballs and shurikens at her, but Rei releases her hand and falls to the garden below. The soft earth absorbs the impact plus she is able to land on her feet. But then the earth around her rises up and entombs her. Rei opens another gate and is able to break free of the earth tomb. She's opened four gates now, and she knows she has super speed and she's ready to attack as the earth tomb crumbles around her. All she needs to do is target her sister…but where is she?

Rei may be faster than Rikako now, but Rikako knows more techniques, has more chakra, and better defense. Rikako summons a field of darkness thinking Rei can't hit what she can't see, and puts up mind blocks so she can't locate her with brain waves.

Rei is furious! All this chakra to convert to speed, her taijutsu should be superior to her sister's but now she can't even see her. She tries to search for her mind, and to sense her chakra, but nothing. Where is she? If I can't see her, then the reverse is true as well. This darkness field can't extend too far. If I escape it, I might be able to see her from afar.

But suddenly there's a blinding light and Rei is disoriented for a second – all the time that Rikako needs to send chakra ropes to tie her down and senbon needles to immobilize her and an earth tomb just to be sure.

It was a decent attempt, but her sister is kage, to defeat her, she would have needed to open all eight gates. Her body damaged, her mind disrupted, yet she still refuses to give up.

"Don't struggle, I can help you."

"Like our uncle helped me? Like those doctors?"

"They don't have the advanced medical techniques developed by the legendary sannin Tsunade, and improved by me." (Thunder Country didn't have psychological diagnoses like autism or schizophrenia, you were either insane or not. Borderline personalities were generally ignored until they slipped over to the wrong side.)

Rikako has Rei immobile and reaches into her mind with her own, hoping to salvage her, hoping she would not get drawn into her insanity. She must seal off that part of her brain that caused the sudden rages. Systems in the limbic brain control attack behavior, violent rage. Those parts of her amygdala, which elicit attacks of rage have to be destroyed. Rikako places her hand on Rei's forehead. Her eyes widen and turn black. Her chakra tendrils emanating from her hand enter Rei's orifices. Rei closes her eyes and tries to resist, but she's now low on chakra. Rikako's chakra maps out Rei's brain. She can see the misfiring synapses, the over activity in the limbic system. She concentrates her chakra there to short out those cells. The attacks of rage should subsequently stop. How she would otherwise be affected is for the doctors at the hospital to determine.

As Rikako finishes the operation, the Anbu and her reinforcements from Thunder Country finally arrive to take the unconscious Rei back.

Alone in her old room, newly destroyed, Rikako takes some time to think. Rei is right - her family and friends, they deserve better.

Kakashi's Recovery

"How is he?" she asks, concerned.

"Well, we patched him up, but he's still unconscious. Physically he should be fine in a week, but neurologically..." the medic shrugs.

She scans his mind to see what damage her sister may have done. Feeling a bit guilty about invading his mind again, but it couldn't be helped, the faster she could repair it, the better, or the damage would be irreparable. Not too bad, his mind blocks had prevented any extensive long-term damage. But she sees that Rei had removed the last thought she implanted - the thought that set him free from her. She let that be, after this no more messing with his mind, she swears it this time. Probing gently, she encounters a memory that she was not aware of. His meeting with her father, just before she left for Thunder Country. He had planned to…but he didn't…if he had, what would her answer have been? She never thought he would be the type who… they never discussed their future. For him things were as they were and he seemed to care little for planning. She sighs, If…the most powerful and most useless word.

Kakashi wakes to find Rikako sitting by his bed holding his hand gently. He had forgotten how genuinely caring she could be. This girl who simply wanted to be a shinobi medic, to go on missions as a medical expert, to save lives. For some reason he recalls the time she spoke of starting a psychological counseling branch to help survivors and orphans deal with guilt and trauma. Was it so long ago? What happened to all those good intentions and dreams...

"You cut your hair..." he's confused again, she's always had long hair. Was this the real one?

"Yeah, well, being Raikage takes up so much time, I decided to go for less maintenance."

"Looks nice…you were always...practical..." he smiles and closes his eye again.

-------------

Rikako helps him back to his place and starts to tidy up the mess her sister made. Bloodstains are always a pain, in more ways than one.

"Will you be leaving now?" he asks.

"Well, I could use a vacation after all this."

"You're welcome to stay here, if you like, seeing that your parents' home was nearly destroyed."

"Yeah, I'll have to send some funds over to help them rebuild, " she frowns as she calculates the extent of the damage, the possible increase in homeowner's insurance, and how to write it off as a business expense. She should have found another way to surprise attack her sister. Her parents gave her that look again – the one that said not again!

She looks around and sees all her stuff exactly where it was nearly a year ago. "So lazy, you haven't even bothered to pack away my stuff. Since I'm here I mind as well do it." She starts to look for an empty box.

"Well, it's not like I need the room. I don't have much stuff. If you take everything, this place would be seriously bare. Besides, should you ever visit again…"

"Even after this? It seems being associated with me is dangerous to your health."

"Well, life was getting too boring anyway. I don't get the tough missions anymore. That's for the younger generation. I could use some excitement once in a while."

"Would a few weeks a year be enough excitement?"

He laughs, "It's more than enough. I'm not as young as I used to be. Any more excitement and they'll be carving my name on a tombstone." A few weeks, isn't that bad really, a few days every couple of months. A couple of years till retirement and she won't be Raikage forever. But that's something to discuss later.

He grows serious, "So what happened to your sister?"

"I think I was able to help her. She's stable for now. My reinforcements finally arrived. She's on her way back to the hospital. I hope it's not too late for her to have a normal life."

"It's never too late for a fresh start," he says pointedly.

She frowns as if she didn't hear his words, "That could be me except for a simple twist of fate, a simple allele programmed to be on or off, or perhaps a missing or addition allele. A trillion and one things can go wrong in the human body, and half of them in the mind. If that happens to me…I want you to promise me…promise me that you'll kill me."

"What?! I can't do that!"

"Would it be better for someone else to do it? I'd prefer yours to be the last face I see, someone familiar, if I haven't lost all my faculties."

"It won't come to that."

"You never know. Just promise me. Euthanasia is merciful…better than being insane, not knowing yourself, or others. You know, I'd do the same for you…"

"Uh, thanks, I think…" What kinds of crazy thoughts does she have? Kakashi says nothing for a while. Even if he promised her, how would he be able to kill her? Not just because of his feelings for her, but her power was beyond his. He could make the promise, but he doubts if he would be able to keep it.

She looks at him, knows what he's thinking even without reading his mind. "You don't think you can do it? Think I'm too powerful? Let me give you a tip. Poison works great. I've got to eat, drink, breathe. Any of those methods would work. Just don't be around when you administer it or I can read your mind. Maybe you can get someone else to do it. Hmm…I guess it would be difficult if I can read someone's murderous intent. If you get someone innocent who doesn't know it's poison…"

"You've given this an awful lot of thought haven't you?" What dark thoughts continually race through that mind of hers? Paranoia, vengeance, fear…

"You've seen the havoc my sister wreaked. If I weren't here, how would you have stopped her?"

Shrugs, "Maybe seduction, that usually works well with women, as well as men."

"Hah, yes, I forgot about that option. Sure, whatever works...so do you promise me?"

"I promise," he says hugging her tightly, but thinks I promise that if that happens to you, I'll find a way to help you, no matter what it takes.

"So what was she like?" she asks curiously. He's still holding her tightly.

"Well, if you ignore the part where she tried to kill me, she was very nice."

"Nice?"

"A very sweet girl, polite, quiet, sensitive, reminds me of someone I used to know."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Shrugs.

"Idiot!" But she doesn't push him away.

It's nice to hear her use her pet name for him…and it's nice to have someone who had the power to protect him.

END OF BOOK IV

Stay tuned for Kakashi and the Kidnapped Kunoichi - Kakashi assembles Neji, Naruto, Shikamaru and Ino for a S-class rescue mission.