Chapter 7 is up, and yes, this is the last chapter. So, enjoy it to the fullest!
Chapter 7 - Surprise!
The girls' conversation was interrupted by the vibrant "ding-dong" of the doorbell. Temari looked at Hinata, Hinata looked to Tenten, Tenten looked at Sakura, and Sakura looked at Ino, but none of them found any enlightenment on each others' faces.
"Who is it?" Sakura asked.
"I have no idea," Ino replied, and had barely finished her answer before Mrs. Yamanaka called down to her, "Ino, honey, could you please get the door?"
"No problem, Mom!" Ino shouted back. Turning to her friends, she shrugged and said, "Guess we're about to find out." The five filed down the stairs, stopping by the front door. They exchanged curious glances, then Ino put her hand on the doorknob and threw open the door.
First the girls were blinded by a bright flash of light accompanied by a clicking noise, and only regained their sight in time to spot a multicoloured shower of confetti raining down on them. Then their eardrums were almost busted by the loud, brassy tone of party horns being blown. When all their senses, and their nerves, had recovered from the shock, the five figures standing on the doorstep became clear to their eyes.
The one they recognized first was Naruto, as he stood in the very front with his trademark face-splitting smile. He was beaming even more brightly than usual, and he held a camera - that explained the bright flash and the clicking. To his right stood Sasuke, a slightly amused smirk on his incredibly handsome face, hands in his pockets as if to prove that he'd had nothing to do with the confetti-throwing or horn-blowing. To Naruto's left was Chouji, his party horn still between his teeth and traces of confetti on his stubby fingers, grinning sheepishly. In the back were Neji and Shikamaru, the former as impassive as ever, although a twinkle of humour in his eye betrayed him, and the latter looking as if he thought the whole matter was troublesome and wondered how he'd been dragged into it.
The two groups simply stared at each other for a moment, then the boys at the door chorused, "SURPRISE!" Chouji and Naruto's voices were the loudest and most enthusiastic, but underneath them you could make out Sasuke's soft grunt, Shikamaru's lazy murmur and Neji's even tone.
Naruto skipped inside and twirled Hinata around before pulling her into an affectionate hug. She blushed but returned the embrace with evident pleasure. Sasuke, less up-front, walked over to Sakura and ran his fingers gently through her hair, combing out the confetti that had landed in her bubble-gum pink locks. Most of the shock in her eyes was replaced by adoration and gentle happiness as she moved almost imperceptibly so as to be closer to him. Chouji released his mouth-hold on the party horn and went to Ino, face becoming redder and redder as he got closer to her, then leaned over and pecked her quickly on the cheek. She let out a slight gasp at his boldness, then threw discretion to the wind, grabbing his shoulders and kissing him full on the lips. Neji moved to stand beside Tenten, looking a trifle uncomfortable and stiff, but she loosened him up effectively by resting her head on his shoulder. As for Shikamaru, well, he caught Temari's eye rather tentatively before approaching, and didn't quite manage to duck her blow. He came up rubbing his head and muttering something about troublesome women while passing his arm around her waist.
When she and Chouji had pulled apart, Ino suddenly drew herself up to her full height and assumed her most stern, punishing expression. "What do you men think you're doing??" she demanded aggressively. All of the couples broke apart, surprised. There was silence until Ino continued. "What d'you think gives you the right to barge in and crash our party, huh? This is called a girls' night for a reason, you know." Everyone, including the female members of the group, gaped at Ino. Ruthlessly, she ordered, "Well, what are you waiting for? Out. Out! Next time, ask for an invitation!"
The boys wordlessly shuffled toward the door. Ino felt a laugh bubbling inside her at their wide-eyed obedience, but she held it back. Naruto, the look of a wounded puppy in his big, childlike blue eyes, whined, "Aww...but, Ino..."
She couldn't hold it in any longer. Ino burst out laughing. "Oh my gosh, you should have seen your faces!" she giggled uncontrollably. "Like a bunch of little kids caught making trouble by the big, scary teacher! Priceless!" She calmed down enough to tell them, "I was just kidding, guys. Feel free to crash the party. But next time, be a little more original than confetti and party horns, huh? Those are so ancient history."
Shaking their heads and laughing ruefully, the five boys made their way back to their prospective ladies. Shikamaru muttered to Chouji in passing, "How do you put up with a girl like Ino, anyway?"
Chouji grinned as Shikamaru dodged another swat from Temari. "Probably the same way you deal with her." Shikamaru sighed and looked up at the ceiling through half-closed eyes. "You mean, by getting used to the constant pain?"
"Let me show you true pain," Temari said evilly, pulling Shikamaru close so that her lips could touch his. Although they did a little more than just touch.
For the rest of the night, the young ninja of both sexes mingled, enjoying each others' company. Very few of them got any sleep to speak of, but they were all happy to remain awake and laugh the night away. Temari discovered that guys can "spill" at least as well as girls, much to her amusement. Naruto had some particularly entertaining stories to tell, most of them pertaining to his adventures with the famous pervert Jiraiya. After hearing of his exploits, Temari was just glad he had a tough woman like Tsunade to slap him into shape. A man like that, no matter how great a ninja he was, definitely needed supervision.
The next morning, it was time for Temari and her brothers to depart from Konoha and return to their native land of Suna, and the Konoha Genin gathered to see her off. Despite being bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, Temari smiled into the horizon. The lush greens and rich browns of the forest before her looked beautiful in the morning's mellow sunlight, and she knew that her beloved Suna lay beyond. She exchanged a parting kiss with Shikamaru, under the attentive eyes of Kankurou and Gaara, her brothers, and said her goodbyes to all the girls.
When she reached Ino, the fashion-obsessed Yamanaka was distracted, trying to pat the frizz out of her pale blond hair. "Why did you have to leave so early, Temari?" Ino demanded, exasperated. "I didn't have time to brush my hair properly! And why didn't I bring my handheld mirror?" Temari rolled her eyes. Was this what you called mature? She smiled anyway, having developed a liking for the feisty, gossip-loving kunoichi. "See you, Ino."
"Bye, Temari!" Ino said, pulling Temari into a bone-crushing hug. "I'll miss you!"
"Uh, yeah," Temari said, disengaging herself from Ino's surprisingly strong grip. "So will I."
"You'll have to let me know when your next visit to Konoha will be," Ino said eagerly. "Then I can plan another Girls' Night while you're here! They're so much fun!"
Temari paused. Another Girls' Night? she thought. Can I possibly survive another ordeal like that one? Then she remembered lying on the soft carpet of Ino's room, curled up with Shikamaru's arms holding her and his hair brushing her cheek. Then again, it wasn't so bad. She shifted her backpack on her shoulders and grinned roguishly.
"Sure thing, Ino."
Well, there's A Konoha Girls' Night, complete at last. I hope everyone liked the story, and I really want to thank everyone who stuck with it to the end and supplied me with those life-giving reviews - thank you so much, you guys all rock! I hope there was something in here for all of you Naruto romantics out there (that's me, too!) And remember, even though this story has come to an end, Naruto and all its characters haven't, so let your imagination run as far and as fast as it wants to!