Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Never Again

Swirly patterns and cosmic bodies; that's all I saw as I stared up at the ceiling, too restless to sleep. Apparently, absence doesn't just make the heart grow fonder; it makes your stomach hungry, too.

I turn on my side, peering at the clock. It was nearly midnight. A sigh escaped my lips as my stomach audibly growled for food. I was too hungry to sleep; too sleepy to get out of bed.

This sucks.

So I just lay in bed for a good ten minutes, before my stomach began to growl in hunger again. I sat straight up, groaning. Ever so quietly, I slip my feet into black flip-flops and got out of bed, mentally planning out what I'd eat when I got to the kitchen.

The kitchen in the manor was usually inaccessible to Sakura, Aunt Chizu and I— which is really stupid—since we had fixed meals at fixed times. Nothing else, even though the pantry is full of food. And, come to think of it, it wasn't that it was really inaccessible, it's just that Aunt Chizu and Sakura could easily order someone to bring them something from the kitchen.

But as a kid, I've been there several times before. The leftover desserts are a dream.

I slowly open the bedroom door, mentally freaking out because of this loud, ominous creak the door omitted. Ah, sh*t.

Gathering up all of my stealth, I crept out of the door and gently closed it behind me and crept down the hall, bracing myself to come in contact with another person, lest I actually do and lose my sh*t.

And in a record time of three minutes, I finally make it to the kitchen. The kitchen adjoined the dining room, but with a door between the two rooms. I pushed the door open, flipping open one of the lights.

By the prep tables? Good enough. I make my way to the pantry and gawk at all the snacks inside. I bet the staff eats these. I pull out a pack of gummy bears and toss it on one of the counters before opening the fridge. It was beautiful. Other than 90% of the fridge which consisted of vegetables, lean meats, gluten-free organic tofu, and more vegetables, the other 10% had these leftover desserts, imported chocolates and frozen foods.

I pull out a box of frozen pizza rolls and contemplate on whether or not to eat it. To eat or not to eat? I repeated over and over in my mind until 'to eat' became the only reasonable decision. Never mind the fact that I just ate pizza, I'm too hungry to reason with my stomach.

I pop them in the microwave and scour the drink fridge for something nice to drink. Chocolate milk sounds good. I grab a mug and pour it in, hurriedly chugging it down not two seconds after.

A door creaks open, prompting me to abruptly halt, mid-gulp.

Ah, sh*t.

Just as I mentally b*tch-slap myself for not taking how noisy the microwave (and I) would be into precaution, I turn to see a maid, staring at me in mild amusement.

"Hey, Airi," I greet. She's in her blue pajamas, shaking her head at me.

"I assume Miss Hayashi is hungry?"

"You know it," I say, setting the mug down. "Was I that noisy?"

She slowly shook her head. "I think not. My room is right beside the kitchen, so I guess that's why I woke up."

"Care to keep me company?"

She knits her eyebrows together in worry and contemplation. I clasp my hands together and pout at her, "Please?"

Airi smiles at me sheepishly. "Alright, Miss Hayashi; if you insist,"

I grin at her, smelling the air. "Ugh, the pizza rolls smell amazing. Grab a glass! Grab a glass!" I urge, pouring myself another mug full of chocolate milk. When Airi brought me a glass, I filled it up for her too.

"Ne, what dessert do we have?" I ask, pulling out the pizza rolls from the microwave.

"Since neither you nor Miss Haruno were going to have dinner, Haruno-sama requested that there be no dessert for that night."

"Tch, I'm the only one who eats sweets in the family, anyway," I say, harrumphing.

She slowly shook her head. "You'd be surprised, Miss Hayashi. Miss Haruno tends to frequent these parts when Haruno-sama isn't at home. The canned fruit is a favorite of hers, I think."

I raise an eyebrow, "Really? Whoa; guilty pleasure much? Then again, I'm in no place to talk. Say, why do you call Aunt Chizu-sama only Haruno-sama and not 'Miss' like what you do with Sakura and I? Is that confusing? Am I confusing you?"

She giggles, "Not at all! Haruno-sama specifically requested that we call her that in order to avoid confusion between her and Miss Haruno."

"Oh. Well, here," I give her one pizza roll. She and I snack on it and on the trail mix of chips we found in the pantry. By the time my midnight snacking (feasting) came to an end, I was really, really full.

She and I expertly cleared any evidence that there were any intrusions amongst the fridge and pantry and we bade each other goodnights before we went to our respective bedrooms. I flopped on my bed, burping before I snuggled underneath the duvet. Eventually, I fell asleep.

"Ah, Tomomi, glad to see you here," Tsunade-sama says, sitting up from her chair, crossing her arms over the desk.

I step inside the Hokage's office, closing the door behind me. I courteously bow as I stood before her. Airi was present in the room as she stood beside me.

"We've gotten a distress call from Ishigakure. Though we aren't allied with them, we've received word that the other surrounding nations had gotten a distress call from Ishigakure as well. So we're sending you and Airi on a C-rank mission to Ishigakure to unearth the cause for the distress call and to report back to me as soon as possible."

"When shall we leave?" I ask.

"In an hour," Airi automatically answers for me, pulling her long waist-length brown hair into a high pony-tail.

"Then we've better get going."

"Hai. Good luck, girls," Tsunade-sama stated before we rush out of the Hokage's tower and dispersed to get ready for our mission.

I jumped from rooftop to rooftop and hopped down to the balcony of my apartment's bedroom. I slid it open and immediately prepared my pack and my rations, stuffing a small tube of soldier pills into a pocket hidden inside it.

I put on my standard ANBU uniform consisting of a black turtleneck, a grey protective vest, grey arm guards, long black gloves with cloth bandages to keep them in place, and black nin-pants. I pull the ceramic bird mask over my face and put my pack on, walking out of the bedroom. I bump into my cousin, Sakura— who's wearing a red top, a tan skirt with black shorts underneath, and ankle-high sandals—as she's in the midst of sneaking a can of candied fruit into her bedroom.

"Ohayo," I greet, half-heartedly waving an arm at her. "You don't need to sneak around like that. Chizu-san usually goes to the marketplace at this time,"

I take long strides over to the living room to grab the katana I had sharpened yesterday and examined the blade before putting it back into its holster and wearing it around my waist.

She pouts at me, "Ne, but if mom catches me eating again, she's going to be like, 'Oh, Sakura! You never stop eating! When will you grow up?'" She flops down on one of the wooden chairs in the dining area of the apartment we live in along with her parents. "So I might as well just eat it in my room, where she won't have to butt in as much!"

She tilts her head to the side. "You're going on a mission again?"

I nod, walking over to the shoe rack by the front door in order to wear my knee-high sandals. "Hai. It appears to be urgent, and I think I'm already late."

"D-Demo, you just got back from one yesterday! …When will you be back, then?" Sakura asks, popping up behind me. She's opened the can of mixed fruit and she's already readily wielding a spoon.

"Whenever," I say, standing up.

"Ne, but you're always so busy! You rarely get to sit and have dinner with us anymore."

"…I'm sorry." I say, swallowing a lump that had formed in the back of my throat. "I'll see you later, Sakura,"

"Good luck, Tomomi. You stay safe,"

I run out of the apartment, body flickering to the rooftop of the building and making my way to the gates of Konoha.

When I get there, Airi is already waiting for me, arms crossed over her chest. "Well it's about damn time you got here," her voice screams 'pissed', but her expression says 'amused'.

"Sorry I don't live near the gates like you do," I retort in a sarcastic— almost mocking tone.

She slowly shook her head, the wide smirk on her face eventually hidden by her pulling her dog mask over her face. "Let's just go,"

We both jump up on two separate trees and leap from tree to tree, as I kept a small amount of chakra flowing to my feet.

By afternoon, we'd reached Ishigakure… or what was left of it, rather.

The village was engulfed in flames. The structures of the buildings were practically unrecognizable as they started to give in. Were we too late?

"What in Kami's name…" Airi whispered, her voice trailing off before she performed several handseals and yelled out, "Water Release: Wall of water!"

She doused the flames of the building nearest her, leaving charred remains of what seemed to be an inn.

I'll admit, though I don't exactly memorize the layout of this place like the back of my hand, Ishigakure definitely didn't look like this before it was victim of arson. It looked so much different from when I'd stay in inns overnight here with my team during missions.

We quickly dispersed and searched for survivors. I felt frantic, like someone was watching me. Fear crept up my being, as I sensed a foreign chakra—no, two chakra signatures behind me. They were powerful ones, at that. Why hadn't I picked up on this earlier?!

I turned around to see two people in black cloaks patterned with red clouds. They stood atop a white bird that hovered a few feet above the ground. One appeared to be a hunchback, or was just hunching back on the bird; the other was standing atop the bird's head.

"Who are you?! Why have you done this to this village?" I yell out, anger taking over my being.

The bastard on the bird's head took his hat off, sending tendrils of blond hair over one eye. My emerald eyes narrowed at his icy blue one. (Deidara?!) The blond jumped off the bird and smirked arrogantly at me.

"Because I wanted to, hmm! These people are lucky they got to see the beauty of my art before they died, because art…"

He threw a small clay spider at me. "…is an explosion!"

The sound of an explosion going off nearly deafened my ears as I was thrown back from the impact of the explosive, my arms taking most of the damage. It completely burnt off most of my arm guards and singed the exposed part of my gloves.

"Sh*t," I hiss, focusing chakra onto my fist before I slammed it down onto the ground, sending earth to rise up towards the blond. He merely jumped back onto his bird before sending an array of spiders towards me, "Katsu!"

I body flicker onto the roof of a crumbling house, feeling the roof give way before I fell in. This was bad… very, very bad. My only affinities were with earth and fire. I obviously can't use fire against him since I'm already dealing with someone who can create explosions using chakra! But judging from the handseals he's used to detonate his bombs, as well as the material he's used to create them, he's an earth-style jutsu user.

First, I have to get out of this house before it crumbles on top of me!

Pieces of debris already began to fall on top of my head as smoke filled my lungs. I focus more chakra onto my fist before punching a hole through the stone wall, flinging myself through it and landing back on the ground.

I cough and gasp for air, looking at the area surrounding me. There were corpses strewn about. This should suffice, I think to myself, performing an array of handseals before slamming my palm against the earth.

"Earth Release Resurrection Technique: Corpse Soil!" I yell out. Immediately, the corpses arise and, shinobi or not, do what they can to attack the enemy. It won't last long since I know that the blond will just blow them up, but it's a solid diversion.

I wonder how Airi is holding up, I thought, doubting that she'd been discovered… yet.

I eye the bird they're flying on and wonder if that's explosive too. Since he's probably infused it with his chakra, right..?

It's a hypothesis; one that I'll need to test. I do another few handseals before yelling, "Earth Release: Shadow Clone!"

Several copies of me arise from the ground as I duck into an alleyway with the other clones, leaving only one in the enemy's line of sight.

I watched as the clone performed a fireball jutsu aimed at the bird. The bird averted the attack, but the bottom part of it was singed from the attack. It's not explosive.

Immediately, I have the clone perform another fireball jutsu aimed at the bird, which was rising further up.

I performed the henge jutsu, disguising myself as that fireball. Almost a second before the attack missed the swiftly flying bird, I dispelled the jutsu and pulled my katana out, skewering the bird's underside as I plunged as much of my blade in as I could.

I promptly grabbed hold of the bird from underneath by focusing my chakra on my hands and feet. Let's see how blondie's going to do when I'm in close range! If I'm close to him, he can either use taijutsu, bukijutsu or use his explosives, which will inevitably hurt him and his partner too.

Focusing chakra onto my straightened palm, I pushed myself through the clay bird and onto the other side, grabbing onto the blonde's ankle, pulling him down into the clay, at the same time, pulling myself up from it.

A tail from the hunchback lashed out at me, which I quickly deflected with the exposed blade of my protruding katana. A surge of chakra onto the soles of my feet gave me the boost I needed in order to clamber onto the bird's surface.

Blondie tried kicking me in order to keep me down, but I managed to roll out of the way and into the vicinity of his partner, where the scorpion-like tail lashed out at me, stabbing the clay each time it missed.

I reached into my weapons pouch and pulled out a kunai, only to have the blond effectively step on my forearm to keep me from doing that.

The scorpion tail was pointed directly in my face, mere centimeters away, spinning dangerously like a predator closing onto its prey. I squirm, trying to free myself, though it's already futile. I'm going to die at the hands of the enemy, without a fight I can't even put up.

"Aww, look danna! She's trying to escape, un! How cute," the blonde sarcastically cooed, grinding the heel of his foot further into my arm. He reached down and pulled my mask off, smirking.

I defiantly glared into the icy blue eyes of my would-be executioner. "Why won't you let me fight you fairly when you've already got me outnumbered? Scared that a girl might have some tricks up her sleeve?" I spat out, hate lacing my tone.

His amused smirk widens, "No, hmm," to my utmost surprise, he let my foot go. "But I'd like to see you try, yeah."

"Deidara," the hunchback impatiently snarled. The former rolled his eyes as he opened up his palm and a small clay bird flew out of it, which expanded into a much larger bird. His mysterious partner jumped on it, flying away from us.

I sit up, glaring at him as my right arm throbbed with pain from the blast earlier and from being stepped on. It's insult to injury.

"You're lucky, hmm! Not many people get to experience the fleeting beauty of my art…" he kneels before me, raising his palm up before me. I stare at it, mortified; it had a mouth on it, along with a long tongue and teeth. "But you? You get the experience of a lifetime, un! You get to turn into art itself,"

He stands back up, laughing maniacally. This guy is insane! I conclude, mentally taking a moment to pat myself on the back. I used his distraction to my advantage, grabbing my katana from the clay surface and plunging it into his abdomen.

His jaw drops open as a trail of blood ran down one side and trickled down his chin. He stares at the blade, which had protruded through his back, before staring at me. I smirk triumphantly before the blond slowly saturated into clay.

Sh*t.

I've been had.

"Are you done yet?" He whispers from behind me, bemusement lacing his tone.

The blond lifts me up onto my feet using the back of my ANBU vest. I turn to face him, jumping back onto the bird's head. "I'm not going down without a fight!" I yell out, performing a handseal before yelling out, "Fire Release: Fire Senbon!"

Fire escapes my lips in the form of hundreds of senbon needles as he immediately tried to avert my attack by jumping onto his partner's bird. The scorpion-tail came out of hiding and deflected all of the senbon with terrifying accuracy. I reach in my weapons pouch for paper explosives, narrowing my eyes at them.

We all have to die altogether, or they won't die at all.

I body flicker to their bird, right behind them, slamming my palm onto Deidara's back. The paper explosives automatically slithered out of my weapons pouch and covered the blonde's torso, as it did mine during the midst of the paper explosives transfer. Just as a clay spider jumped onto my face from Deidara's palm, I wrapped my arms around the blonde just as the word "Katsu!" escaped his lips.

There wasn't enough time for me to finish my technique, but if I'm going to die like this, I'm taking somebody out with me.

I could feel the explosions from the paper explosives rupturing my stomach, my insides and the clay bomb exploding into my face. All I heard was this deafening ringing sound in my ears. The pain was intense as I felt the vibrations from his chest echoing into mine as he yelled out in surprise and, hopefully, pain.

The waves of complete agony washed over me as blood ran down my body. The last thing I saw was the burnt Akatsuki cloak floating before me as the blond and the hunchback managed to escape critical damage as they perched on the bird. They flew away from the remains of Ishigakure village and into the distance, towards Sunagakure.

Me?

I was free-falling.

I died in vain, albeit in the honor of my village, Konohagakure.

All eventually faded to black.

Beep. Beep. Bee—

I sat up, my palm on my alarm clock. "What the f*ck," I whisper, running a hand through my scarlet hair. That was such a weird ass dream, I concluded, mentally patting myself on the back. Those episodes of that ninja show I used to watch as a kid came to bite me back in the ass.

...What was it called again?

Oh, yeah.

Menma.

Apparently, my midnight feasting had bitten me back in the ass, too.

I am never pigging out like that ever again.

Well, not during the middle of the night, I'm not. But still—never again.

What's the one thing better than a filler except for an important chapter? A long filler! :D I like how this story is already AU, but Tomomi's AU is the general non-AU type of thing, which is already Naruto's non-AU version of AU (Road to Ninja anyone?). So I got to exercise dem non-AU muscles for a bit. Please, please review? Was Tomomi sue-ish in this one? Was Deidara OOC? Also; I may or may not have possibly created a huge plothole for myself by having Tomomi paired up with Gaara. Lol, this'll be quite a challenge.

~jellydonut16~

P.S. *whispers* …review *wink, wink* *nudge, nudge* I wish to know what you think of the story so far!

P.P.S. Check out my other stories? Drop a review on multi-chaptered ones I may have stopped writing on and give me the heads up if you still want me to continue it! IT SHALL BE SUMMER SOON

P.P.P.S. This chapter may or may not have significant relevance with future chapters.