A Party for a Lonely Heart

Chapter 10

(A/N: Well my friends, this is it, the final chapter in this story. Fair warning, this is also going to be the longest chapter. I was happily surprised that my last chapter got so many new readers in addition to my usual ones. I'd like to take this moment to thank everyone who's read this story and encouraged me and also offered little tips or hints at what they'd like to see. I dedicate this one to all the lovers out there reading this, especially my special someone, you know who you are.)

(Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or its characters, but I love writing about them as you can tell.)

As the song was about halfway over, Shino went to cut in on Kiba and Ino's dance, but he caught a glance of Lee walking inside. TenTen noticed as well while she was dancing with Neji. She looked around and saw that Sakura had not yet noticed his arrival as she was facing away from her back door as she danced with Naruto. Giving Shino a don't-worry-I'll-take-care-of-it look, she smiled at her own date, "Hey Neji-kun, could you do me a favor?"

"Sure TenTen, what is it?" he asked.

"Lee-kun just walked in and I need to talk to him for a minute. Do you mind if I skip out on the next song with you."

Glancing over TenTen's shoulder he saw Lee and the look of depression on his face. "Ok, no problem," Neji replied.

"Thanks a lot. You can dance with Sakura-chan while I'm away if you'd like," TenTen smiled, then kissed Neji on the cheek quickly before rushing into the house, leaving Neji with a blush on his face and his hand touching the spot where TenTen left her kiss.

Lee walked by Choji, who just finished the chips, "Hey Choji-kun, mind if I join you?" he asked.

"Sure buddy," Choji offered a seat next to him, then passed the plate of brownies over to him. Lee took one and Choji put the plate back after grabbing one himself. "So what seems to be the problem?" he asked while munching on his snack.

"It's Sakura-chan. We made a date to dance together tonight and I arrived to find her in Naruto-kun's arms. I don't understand. The other day she asked me out after I told her how much she really means to me, and here she is, dancing with someone else. I don't want to be the jealous type, I just wish I hadn't gotten my hopes up."

"Well, if you must know…" Choji began.

"Lee-kun you baka!" TenTen interrupted after closing the door behind her. She walked over to the snack area quickly, trying not to get anyone else's attention.

XXX

As the song ended and another one started, "Life is like a boat," by Rie Fu. The various couples on the dance floor began to switch around. Naruto went back to dance with Hinata as she handed Akamaru back to Kiba. "May I have this dance, Hinata-chan?" Nartuto asked formally, offering his arm.

"Why of course you can, Naruto-kun," Hinata smiled and giggled a bit before taking his arm and letting him lead her as the music played.

Sakura turned around and noticed that Lee was inside, sitting with Choji and looking a little sad. She was about to rush in when a gentle yet firm hand landed on her shoulder.

"Don't worry about it, Sakura-chan," Neji said, "Let TenTen straighten him out, he'll be back to his usual self in no time. I'm sure that whatever is on his mind, she can help him."

"B…but I want to help him," Sakura replied, "I don't know why but I feel like I'm responsible for this."

"It's all a misunderstanding, trust me. And showing up now could make things harder. TenTen is his best friend and she told me personally that she's rooting for the two of you. Once she's through with him, you won't be able to keep him from being with you tonight, trust me."

"If you say so, Neji-kun…" Sakura said, still a little unsure.

"Don't worry, he'll be back out here in time for the next song. In the meantime, I'd like a dance, if that's ok."

"Umm…ok," Sakura replied, taking Neji's arm.

"Oh and Sakura-chan," Neji said as they began to dance.

"Yes Neji-kun?"

"I can tell you really care about Lee-kun a lot," he smiled, "he's one lucky guy."

"Not as lucky as you are, is that lipstick I see on your cheek?" Sakura smirked.

"Umm…yeah…canwejustdanceplease?" Neji said quickly. Laughing a bit, Sakura nodded, her mood lifted just a tiny bit, and they began to enjoy the song.

XXX

"TenTen, what's wrong?" Lee asked, a little afraid of his friend's temper as he saw the look in her eye. TenTen didn't say a word but sat right next to Lee, then slapped him on the cheek, "OW, what was that for?"

"That, Lee-kun, was for keeping Sakura-chan waiting so long!" She shouted, then slapped him again, this time upside the head.

"OW!"

"And that is for being a baka! Why are you in here, depressed, when your date has been waiting for you for over an hour!?"

"It looks to me that Naruto-kun is her date tonight. I guess that's what I get for being late…" Lee said looking down, but another slap from TenTen made him look up again.

"Did you honestly think it would be right for Sakura-chan not to dance at her own party because her date is late? That's unusually selfish of you, Lee-kun and I have to say I'm very disappointed in you. How do you think she would've felt seeing everyone else having fun and her not being able to join in because a certain Bushy Brows can't check the time?"

"But I have a good reason for being late…"

"I don't care! It's not good enough reason to be acting like this. Did you forget the reason Sakura-chan hosted this party in the first place? She wanted to rebuild the friendships she formed with all of us that she believes she almost ruined with her isolation," TenTen pointed out. Lee looked at her and nodded.

"Look, Lee-kun, there is nothing wrong with dancing with someone who is just a friend, understand. That's the reason why Naruto-kun was dancing with Sakura-chan. If you don't believe me, come and see for yourself," TenTen said. She led Lee to the glass door and they saw that Naruto was dancing with Hinata and Sakura with Neji. Shino had just spun Ino and Kiba caught her as the song reached its half-way point. Meanwhile, Naruto had dipped Hinata and from the angle they were observing, both Lee and TenTen could see the smiles and slight blushes on their faces.

"See? Naruto-kun's date is Hinata-chan, not Sakura-chan. And look over there. Sakura-chan is dancing with Neji-kun, who happens to be my date for the evening, but you don't see me getting all depressed over it. You know why? Because I know that I'm closer to Neji-kun than Sakura-chan is, because we're becoming more than friends. So I won't make a big deal if he decides to share one dance with someone who's just a friend," TenTen said.

"I…guess that's reasonable…" Lee replied, "You have a point, TenTen."

"Yes I do, Lee-kun. And just to prove it once and for all, you're going to dance with me until the song is over."

"TenTen?"

"Come on, I already have a date, but he's busy right now as you can see. And you're like a brother to me, so Sakura-chan has nothing to worry about." She grabbed Lee's hand and led him back outside.

"Hey everyone, guess who finally decided to join us?" TenTen smiled as she led Lee on the dance floor, making sure they were right next to Sakura and Neji. A chorus of hellos came from the others.

"Lee-kun!" Sakura waved to him, smiling and blushing slightly, "I'm glad you could finally make it, I was really worried about you when you didn't show…"

"I'm truly sorry Sakura-chan, but I have a reason why I was so late. I'd like to explain it a little later though," Lee replied.

"Well you can explain when the next song starts. I'm sure Neji-kun's very eager to have TenTen back in his arms," she winked at TenTen, then Neji, causing both of them to look at each other smiling softly. After about another 2 minutes, the song had ended.

"There Lee, now did you enjoy that?" TenTen asked.

"Yes I did, I see your point. It was fun, but not as fun as it would've been with Sakura-chan. I'm sure that you feel the same way towards Neji-kun."

"So let's switch dance partners and be with the ones we're really here to date," TenTen smiled and placed a hand on Lee's shoulder before walking back towards Neji.

The back door just opened again and another newcomer interrupted, "Sorry I'm late everyone, arranging a date with someone from another country is so troublesome…" Shikamaru said as he and Temari entered. Everyone decided to take a break from dancing and see what was up with their friends.

"No one heard the door, so I thought I'd answer it for you," Choji said showing up on the dance area for the first time, "by the way, Shikamaru-kun, your date looks great you lucky dog!" Temari blushed at the comment. She wore her hair in its normal style, however she wore a black dress that ended just above the knee. She wore matching high heels as well. Her dress was held up by twin spaghetti straps, but it was a lower cut than the rest of the ladies present.

"Well mine does too," Temari replied. Shikamaru wore a light grey button-down silk shirt and darker grey dress pants with black shoes. He blushed at Temari's compliment.

"So what kept you guys? You had all day to bring Temari-san back from the Sand Village," Sakura asked.

"Yeah we were wondering if you'd ever show up," Ino picked.

"Well, I had to inform Hokage-sama that I'd be leaving the country for the day to go pick up Temari-san…"

"It's Temari-chan now, Shikamaru-kun," Temari interrupted, smiling at her date, "We're off duty and on a date, we can be less formal now."

"Anyways," Shikamaru continued, "After explaining to Hokage-sama that I wanted to ask Temari-chan on a date and that we'd have to come here for it, she was all for the idea and made me wait to get me a new passport and other travel papers. Then she wanted me to make sure that I had proper clothes for a date with someone of Temari-chan's…high class. I swear that woman is such a drag. After finally convincing her that I was taking Temari-chan to a dance that was only a semi-formal party with friends, she finally let me wear what I wanted. Then it took several hours to reach the Sand Village. Once I was there, I wanted to ask Temari-chan out, but she insisted that I get the permission of her brothers first, even though she is the eldest sibling. So you can imagine what I had to go through with those two. And after that, Temari-chan spent hours preparing, finding the right dress, getting her hair done right, which doesn't look different from normal by the way, and the tiny amount of makeup. I think she did all of that in 10 minutes and had fun making me wait, didn't you Temari-chan?"

"Now why would I ever do that to you, Shikamaru-kun? Besides isn't a date with me worth the wait?" she bent down and kissed him on the cheek.

"Y…yeah, it is,"

"Good, glad you agree, and also I insisted that we walk back here. I didn't want to do our ninja leaps all the way here and risk ruining my dress. So for that, I apologize for making Shikamaru-kun late. So what's the next song?" Just then, "GO!" by Flow started to play. Before anyone could reach the dance floor however, Choji's eyes lit up like fire.

"I LOVE THIS SONG!" Choji shouted and ran to the center of the dance floor. As the upbeat and fast pace song started to pick up, Choji was performing incredible Taijutsu-style dance moves. He did moonwalks, break dancing, standing on his head then spinning, punching imaginary enemies in style, doing midair summersaults. Rather than join in the dancing, everyone else just formed a circle around him and just watched, completely amazed that someone that…big could be that…agile and impressive on the dance floor.

Shikamaru smirked, "That's my buddy out there, don't ever underestimate him!" he told the others while placing his arm around Temari.

"No…I don't think I'll ever underestimate him again," Ino said, more entranced than the others by Choji's display. When the song ended, everyone burst out into applause and cheers.

"Thank you!" Choji said, bowing, "I'm here all night!" As he walked back towards the inside of the house to go to the snack area, Ino grabbed his arm, "Ino-chan?" he looked at his teammate.

"Choji-kun. You don't have to isolate yourself, understand. This is a party. Have some fun with the rest of us!"

"Well I didn't want to ruin everyone else's fun by…pigging out in front of everyone who wants to dance," Choji replied looking down.

"Then don't pig out for the rest of the night…Just dance. If you're really that good solo, you deserve a chance to show how good you can be with a dance partner," she winked.

"And just who am I supposed to dance with. You've said it yourself; no girl would go for a guy...like me…"

"You know what, Choji-kun?" Ino said, looking down at her feet, "I'm sorry I said that. It must've hurt you a lot. You're my friend and I shouldn't've done that to you."

"Eh no biggie," Choji said waving his hand in a dismissive gesture.

"Yes it is a biggie, and I want to make it up to you. Choji-kun, would you like to be my date for the rest of the night?" Ino asked.

"Really? Ok I think I could do that since you asked so nicely," Choji smiled and took Ino's arm and led her to the dance floor. "Hajimete Kimi to Shabetta," by GagagaSP was playing next, it was a medium paced song that got all of the couples to show off their skills.

"Well Shino-kun, I think we won't have a dance with the ladies for a while, let's hit the snacks and see what Choji left us," Kiba said. Shino nodded and joined his friend inside and then they came back out with snacks, watching their friends having the time of their lives.

Meanwhile, as everyone else was dancing, they also paid attention to the lyrics. They all smiled at the appropriateness of it as it was everyone's first dates together. They all laughed and smiled as the guys used their various dancing skills to impress the girls. When the song was over, everyone applauded. Then a new slow song played, "Every Heart," by Watanabe Natsume. The couples on the dance floor slowed down and began to dance closer together.

Naruto smiled as he held Hinata close to him, then grinned boyishly at the thought of how much fun they had the past two days, "We tried to learn to dance on our own…and failed horribly at it! Then we asked Kurenai-sensei to teach us and after she was done teaching us, we realized how much fun it was. I didn't want it to end so I kinda asked her out and she agreed! And now that we're here together, it's even more fun. Every dance we've had together, we both ended up smiling or laughing…and blushing," he blushed at..well the recollection of blushing, "She is so cute and we've really been having fun together…"

"Naruto-kun? Is everything ok?" Hinata asked, looking up into the eyes of the one she admired most when she saw him space out, even though they were still keeping up with the song.

"Yes Hinata-chan, everything's wonderful," Naruto replied smiling at his date, "You know what, I've been a bad date."

"N…no Naruto-kun, that's ridiculous, we've had a lot of fun haven't we? You've been the perfect gentleman tonight too, so don't think you're a bad date."

"But there's one important thing I forgot and I'm really sorry," Naruto said, "I haven't told you how beautiful you are tonight, even though I know you chose to dress up like this just for me…I guess I'm not used to this dating thing yet. Forgive me?" Naruto replied.

"Of…of course Naruto-kun. I forgot to tell you how handsome you are tonight too, so I guess that makes us even," Hinata smiled at him.

"Hey Hinata-chan?"

"Yes Naruto-kun?"

"You look very beautiful tonight," Naruto smiled, then he blushed as Hinata smiled her soft and gentle smile, "I'm really enjoying our date tonight too."

"So am I, and you're very handsome too."

"Thank you Hinata-chan…umm…since we're having so much fun tonight, I was wondering…if I could ask you out again sometime?"

Hinata's eyes widened at Naruto's request, then she hugged him tightly, "I'd like that a lot, Naruto-kun," she said quickly

"Then…can we be…boyfriend and girlfriend?" Naruto asked.

"You…really want me to be your girlfriend?" Hinata couldn't believe the words coming out of Naruto's mouth. She thought she was dreaming for a second, but then Naruto closed his eyes and bent down to give Hinata a soft kiss. A wave of electricity passed through them both as Naruto's lips made contact with hers. "This isn't a dream! This is much better!" Hinata thought, then she closed her own eyes and just enjoyed the closeness they were having. When they broke apart Naruto grinned in his usual boyish fashion that she loved so much.

"Did that answer your question, Hinata-chan?" he asked. Hinata's reply was another bright smile and a hug.

XXX

At the same time, Lee and Sakura were enjoying their first slow dance of the night. As they swayed to the music, Sakura allowed herself to move in closer to Lee and rest her head against his chest for a moment.

"Something wrong, Sakura-chan?" Lee asked, blushing a bit at the close contact.

"I'm just glad you're finally here, Lee-kun. I've waited all night for this."

"Then I'll try not to disappoint you, Sakura-chan." Lee replied, continuing to lead her in the dance as they talked, "But I must apologize."

"What for being late? You said you had an explanation and I believe you."

"It's not that. It's that…when I first showed up, I saw you dancing with Naruto-kun and I felt that you didn't want me to be your date anymore. I should've known better. The Sakura-chan I know and love would never break a date…without good reason."

"Well, you were late, and there were so many of the others asking for a dance here and there," Sakura teased, "Who was I to deny them? But you know what. They're all my good friends, but you, Lee-kun, I think you're an even better one. All is forgiven and I still want to be your date tonight."

"Thank you Sakura-chan," Lee smiled, "That means a lot to me. Now as to the reason I was late…it took forever to pick out a present for you."

"Present? I told everyone I didn't want a present, I just wanted everyone to show. That goes for you too, Lee."

"Well a true gentleman gives his date a gift for the honor of escorting her," Lee replied, "It was hard to find something worthy of you, and once I found a few items, it took forever to find the one most appropriate," he reached into his back pocket and produced a rectangular box, about a foot wide by an inch thick and long. It was wrapped in pink wrapping paper with a green bow.

"What is it Lee-kun?" Sakura asked. She stopped dancing and stood there smiling at the gift.

"Open it up and see," Lee smiled back. Sakura felt butterflies of anticipation in her stomach as she tore the wrapping off. The wrapping covered a black jewelry box. Looking inquisitively at Lee, she opened it up and found a silver necklace with a heart shaped silver charm at the end of it. At the center of the charm was a round pink gem.

"A month ago when Sasuke left…your heart broke," Lee began looking sad at the thought, "So I thought I'd try to give you a new one," he smiled, but looked a little nervous, "…that is, if you'll accept this gift, please consider it my own heart, which I freely give to you, Sakura-chan. I now renew my promise to protect you with my life. In addition, I promise to always be there for you whenever you need me whether it be for something big or small. Whether you're fighting enemies, or in need a shoulder to cry on, or need someone to laugh and smile and enjoy life with, or even small favors, I'll be there for you for all of that and more…I love you Sakura-chan!"

Sakura closed her eyes and began to tear up at Lee's new declaration of love, "He's definitely not being the goofy Bushy Brows this time. And his declaration of love is much more serious than the one when we first met. He sounds so genuine," she thought to herself. She looked at Lee's eyes, filled with affection and anticipation of her response and Sakura was once again filled with butterflies at the thought that there was someone that cared about her that much. Thinking back on everything they've been through together only reinforced Sakura's thoughts on Lee, "At first he seemed so…weird, but now I see that he is the most caring, sincere, and loyal person I've ever known…plus he's so cute!" "Thank you Lee-kun, it's beautiful," Sakura replied, her eyes open but with tears of joy.

"Anything for you, Sakura-chan," Lee replied, smiling more now than ever in his life. He took the precious necklace and undid the clasp that held it together. Then he took it and placed it around Sakura's neck. As he closed the clasp again, he planted a tender kiss on her forehead.

"And I love you too, Lee-kun," Sakura said as he pulled away to see how the necklace looked on her.

"Really, Sakura-chan?" Lee asked, he closed his eyes because of the tears that were coming to his own eyes.

"Yes, Lee-kun, really. I truly love you," Sakura replied, realizing this to be the truth herself as she said it. She moved in close and gave Lee a soft kiss from her lips to his. As they broke away the music ended and they saw their friends surrounding them.

"Great job Bushy Brows!" Naruto said pumping his free fist into the air, his other arm was wrapped around Hinata.

"I'm very happy for you both," Hinata added.

"Glad you didn't mess that up," Neji smirked at his teammate.

"I knew you had it in you, Lee-kun," TenTen smiled.

"Now if a certain lazy butt of a shinobi could do something romantic like that, a certain kunoichi from the Sand Village wouldn't object," Temari winked.

"Oh come on, Temari-chan, If I wanted to be that elaborate, I'd have to get past your brothers and you do you have any idea how troublesome that would be?" Shikamaru replied.

"Well if you do something like that, it may be worth it in the long run," Temari replied.

"Hey if you two end up married, I get to be a bridesmaid!" Ino teased causing Lee and Sakura to blush heavily.

"Hey do you have any idea how much guts it took for Lee-kun to do that, give him a break," Choji poked at Ino.

"Well all of you guys getting together is fun to watch, but where does that leave Shino and I?" Kiba asked, "We need to find ourselves some nice girls like them don't we, buddy."

"That will be a problem, the population of Konoha has a 2:1 ratio of guys to girls. I think we'll have to look elsewhere, because there aren't any good girls left," Shino replied. Just then there was a knock at the door. Choji sniffed the air a bit.

"Great more food's here!" He announced. They all ran towards the door and Sakura opened it to find Teuchi and Ayame from Ichiraku Ramen there.

"Delivery for a Haruno Sakura!" they announced. They were followed by a delivery boy from Korean Barbeque.

"Great the rest of the food is here!" Sakura said, "Let's take this party inside and eat dinner together." As they all sat down to eat there was one last knock at the door.

"It's for me," Shino said and he opened the door, paid whoever was there, thanked him and let him leave. He returned to the room with a bundle of white roses, "This is for you Sakura-chan, 13 white roses, a dozen of them to represent each of us here and the last one in the center of the bouquet meant to represent the bonds that we all share. I hope you like it."

"Wow, Shino-kun, that's very thoughtful of you. This means a lot to me. All of you do," Sakura replied looking around the table at her friends, then her eyes fell on Lee, "Especially you, Lee-kun," she smiled. After they all ate and laughed and told stories about each other, the party had to break up for the evening. Naruto and Hinata smiled, arm and arm as they said good night to Sakura, and they left first already planning their next date. Temari and Shikamaru were the next to leave, looking happy with each other, but Shikamaru complained as to how long it would take to walk his date home. Kiba and Shino left next, each giving Sakura a small hug and a thank-you-for-an-awesome-party. Finally Choji was next and still surprised to have Ino on his arm, but definitely not complaining. Lee and Sakura overheard something about Ino actually treating Choji on their next date.

"Well, Sakura-chan, its time for me to go too. Thank you for the best evening in my life," Lee said, taking Sakura's hand and giving it a kiss.

"No Lee, thank you for giving me hope again. That and your love are the best gifts I ever received," Sakura replied smiling at him. Lee let go of her hand and gave her his trademark Nice Guy Pose before walking off into the night. Watching him leave, Sakura noted that the party was a huge success because not only had she found someone to love, but several of the others did as well and the bonds of friendship that held their entire group together were even stronger when everyone left than when they came.

THE END

(A/N: Well that's it everyone. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to leave me your reviews and as always, I really appreciated everyone's support in this writing venture. Until my next story, see ya!)