(Readies flame wall) Hello people, it's been…what…almost 2 and a half years now? I honestly don't have an excuse for this one. Real life got in the way, as did the fact that my idea journal I use when coming up with fics went missing for a while. I finally found it, and I'm very happy about that.

I've also been trying to write my own book. This humongous story has been in my mind for so long, brewing and I think I'm going to try and get it published. How cool would that be to walk into a book store and see your own book being enjoyed by people?

Anyways, I've kept you good people waiting long enough. Here's the next chapter of Konoha Dance.

Disclaimer: Riyuto-san does not own Naruto. No, he's not dead, and no, this story was never abandoned…. Just temporarily forgotten.

Chapter 4. Rival

Hinata took a deep breath as she attempted to calm her nerves. She could feel her body tensing up, and her voice catching in her throat. Why was this so difficult? She knew the answer immediately, though. The voice in her head was pleading with her to gather up the courage to ask, and even though she knew the voice was right, it was still the hardest thing she had ever done.

Hinata opened her lavender eyes and tried her best to give a gaze of determination. She looked forward at her target. She could do this. She could do this. She took in another deep breath, and spoke. "N-N-Naruto-kun…would y-y-you like to go to the K-Ko…to the…umm…." She could feel her confidence slipping. She had to recover quickly.

"Naruto-kun, will you go to the dance with me?" She said quickly, her cheeks flushed enough to rival even the ripest tomato. Her eyes were glued to the figure before her.

Her reflection stared back at her, same features as her. Hinata held her gaze with her mirror counterpart, before drooping her shoulders and sighing. Even though she had managed to finally get the question to leave her lips (albeit with extreme difficulty), it didn't really count. No matter how long she spent in front of her mirror practicing, it didn't mean a thing if she didn't ask the object of her affections himself.

"What are you doing?" Came a familiar voice from Hinata's open doorway. Hinata's gaze snapped over to see Hanabi, standing in her door frame with a raised brow.

"Hanabi!" Squeaked Hinata, embarrassed from getting caught. Her cheeks were even more flushed than before. "H-How long have you been standing there?"

Hanabi folded her arms across her chest. "Long enough to know that you still don't have a date for the dance. Do you plan on asking Uzumaki Naruto?"

Hinata nodded shyly. Hanabi let out a sigh of what Hinata thought might have been…sympathy? "You know there's only about four more days until the dance, right?" Asked Hanabi. Hinata nodded again. "Then you had better hurry up and ask him, before someone else does."

Hinata's eyes widened. Why hadn't she thought about that before? It was entirely possible for someone else to approach Naruto and ask him to the dance. Sakura had told her that he would say yes to the first girl to ask, and that she should hurry up and catch him before someone else took him away from her. What if someone already had taken him? What if she was too late because she was afraid of actually asking him?

"You do realize that practicing in front of the mirror won't make it any easier?" Asked Hanabi as she turned to leave. "You'll just get even more flustered when it comes around time to ask him." And with that, Hanabi left Hinata alone, with just her reflection in her mirror to keep her company.

Hinata thought about Hanabi's words. She was right, of course. All this practice was pointless. She had to ask Naruto to the dance, and soon. She didn't know what she would do if Naruto turned her down, and that was what worried her the most.

The next day, Hinata roamed the streets of Konoha. It seemed as if everyone in the village was excited about the dance festival. Many villagers were busy preparing for event. The bakers and other restaurants were rushing to prepare enough food to cater the event, and other villagers were busy hanging decorations throughout the village. Thousands of paper lanterns of various color were being strung up high. Various Kimono dress booths were on every corner, and never too far away from one another.

People would bow to Hinata and greet her as she walked by, and she returned the kind gesture every time. Eventually, Hinata came to the center of the village, where the large area that the village would gather to hear the Hokage's speeches was being turned into the dance floor. Many wooden posts had already been hoisted up in the vast area, but it was quite clear that it would take another day or two until it was fully completed. The construction crews were working around the clock to ensure this dance hall went up without a hitch.

Hinata admired their determination, and wished she could muster up the same determination to ask Naruto to the dance. What would she do if she ran into him while she was walking around? Would she be able to call out to him to speak with him? Could she ask him to the dance? What if she was rejected? How would she react to the rejection?

She was so focused on these negative questions; she wasn't paying attention to where she was going. She bumped into the back of a girl who had stopped to admire the decorations. The girl nearly fell forward, but she managed to catch herself. Hinata snapped to attention early and took a step back.

The girl spun around, and Hinata's first thought was that this girl was pretty. She had golden eyes, with dark brown hair that fell to her shoulders. Her nose was petite, and she was about the same height as Hinata. She wore a lavender skinny jacket, and lavender skirt to go with it.

Hinata bowed in embaressment. "I'm so sorry. I wasn't watching where I was going."

The girl let out a chuckle. "It's okay, it was my fault for stopping. I guess it's hard to ignore all of these pretty decorations being hung all over the place, though. Can't blame you for getting distracted as you were walking."

Hinata rose from her bow and met the girl's gaze. Hinata was caught off guard by just how much confidence she could see in her golden eyes. It was nearly overwhelming.

The girl looked Hinata over a few times, and then smiled. She bowed to Hinata. "I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Haruto Mizuki."

Hinata smiled politely and bowed. "And I am Hyuuga Hinata. It is a pleasure to meet you."

Mizuki blinked a few times. "Hyuuga? You're one of them?" She asked with great interest, as if seeing Hinata in a new light.

Hinata didn't know what to say, so she just nodded shyly.

"That's so cool. The first person I actually meet around my age is from the Hyuuga clan." She paused when she noticed Hinata's confused gaze. "Sorry. You see, my family and I just moved to Konoha a few days ago from a small village about three days walk from here. I've been so busy unpacking, I haven't had time to make any friends yet."

Hinata smiled in understanding. She knew what it was like to feel alone in a large place full of people. "Then may I have the honor of being your first friend in Konoha?" She asked.

Mizuki smiled back and nodded. "I'd love to be your friend, Hinata." She paused for a moment longer, and Hinata could see Mizuki had a question on her mind. But it also seemed as if she were too shy to ask the question by the way she was biting her lip.

Hinata waited patiently for Mizuki to ask her question. After a few moments, it seemed Mizuki's mind lost to her tongue, as she asked her question. "Hinata, can I ask you a question?" Hinata nodded. "Well, it's about this Konoha Dance thing…do you think you could help me find a date for it?"

Hinata's brows rose in surprise. "Help…find you a date to the dance?" She asked.

Mizuki nodded. "Yeah, I don't really know anyone here besides you, and I can't ask you to the dance, you know? I don't know any guys here, but you must since you're a Hyuuga. I bet you know everyone in the village." Hinata could feel her cheeks redden. "If you could help me, I'd be grateful for, like, ever!"

Flattered as she was, she didn't really know if she could muster the confidence to showboat her new friend to a bunch of guys she knew. What if this favor led her to Naruto? She wasn't ready to ask, she was still too nervous. However, she didn't want to let down her new friend. She was counting on her to help her out. Hinata's conscience won out, and she nodded. "Of course I'll help you, Mizuki-san."

Mizuki squealed in glee and hugged Hinata, which surprised the young heiress. "Thanks Hinata, you're the best!"

It wasn't the fact that sorting all of these letters out and ensuring they reach their destination that irked Shikamaru. It wasn't the fact that there were several large stacks, and that they all smelled of various colognes and perfumes. Hell, it didn't even have anything to do with the ridiculous hours Tsunade had placed upon him that left him hardly any time to eat or sleep. No, the one thing that made the Chuunin's eye twitch at the moment was the letter he was holding.

He recognized the handwriting immediately since he had seen it many times before. The name was all too familiar as well, and what was troublesome was the fact that the letter was addressed to him.

Shikamaru forgot that all of those other letters had to be sorted and delivered by the end of the day, or Tsunade would have his head. Nothing else could have ruined his day quite like getting a letter from the most troublesome person he had ever known. Shikamaru's eyes lingered on the front of the surprisingly pink envelope, reading To Shikamaru, from Temari.

He could all ready tell what the annoying blond woman wanted, just from the facts that the dance was nearing, and the women had to ask the men. A ridiculous tradition, but one Tsunade seemed intent on following through with. With a heavy sigh, Shikamaru opened the flap and pulled out a letter. His eyes quickly scanned the words upon the paper.

Hello, Shikamaru,

If you still haven't figured it out, I am telling you right now that you are going to the Konoha Dance with me. Don't misunderstand me, it's not because I like you and want to date you. My brother insisted that I choose a date as to not offend anybody at the party, like I care. And seeing as you are the only Konoha shinobi that doesn't piss me off, you have been awarded the honor of escorting me to the dance. You don't have a choice, because even if you try to hide from me when I arrive in two days, I will hunt you down and drag you to the dance. I'll make you regret disregarding my letter by force.

Sincerely, Temari

Shikamaru blinked a few times. He sighed, and leaned back in his chair. His brow was narrowed in annoyance. He had not planned on anyone asking him to the dance, but even if someone did, he would have turned them down regardless. He wasn't heartless, dances just weren't his thing. All of that public display of affection and dressing up didn't sit well with the Nara. But this letter changed his plans entirely.

He had no problem believing Temari's threats. She would carry them out if in a heartbeat, for sure. He heaved a heavy sigh and lowered his head.

"This is going to be far more troublesome than it's worth."

The young kunoichi felt like beating her two good friends for even putting this stupid idea in her head.

Tenten knew three things. One, she was a very confident young kunoichi weapons master, and two, she was panicking because she was about to ask Neji to the dance. After much encouragement from Sakura and Ino, Tenten had finally decided to ask her long time crush to the dance. Besides, what was the worst that could happen?

He could say no, she noted mentally as she sat beside the object of her affection. She had met up with him earlier, just as Sakura had instructed her to, and casually asked him if he would like to grab a bite to eat with her. He agreed, and Tenten figured he would since they were used to eating together, being on the same squad for so long and all.

They had settled on a sushi place. It wasn't Tenten's favorite food, but Neji liked it, and that was good enough for her. They sat and ate in what had to be the most awkward silence of Tenten's life. She was mentally debating whether or not asking Neji was a good idea or not. On the bright side, if he were to say yes, they would enjoy a good time at the dance. But what if he were just being polite? What if he just thought they were going to the dance because they were good friends?

Also, what if he said no? She knew that wasn't like Neji at all to just flat out decline her unless he had a good reason to, but she couldn't help but feel this way. She was a young maiden in love, after all.

Tenten glanced over at Neji, and could feel her voice catching in her throat. Why was this so hard? They had talked many times over the past few years, so why was this so difficult? It was obvious; she was afraid of making things awkward if he didn't feel the same. She suddenly became aware that she was in the same boat as Hinata, and felt great sympathy towards her friend. If she had to feel like this all the time, Tenten knew her heart would explode.

She knew she had to ask him, here and now. She had to summon all of her courage, but she was able to take a brave step forward.

"Hey, Neji…." She started, trailing off.

Neji stopped eating and turned to her, genuine curiosity etched into his features. "Yes?"

Tenten took a nervous gulp, and pictured herself about to throw herself into a volcano. "I was wondering…you know, if you don't have…well, anything else better to do…then…" She knew it would be hard, but not this hard. And what was worse, Neji looked like he was growing more confused with each word she said.

"What is it, Tenten? Is something wrong?" He asked.

Tenten shook her head. "No, nothing's wrong. I just…well…" It was now or never. Despite the voice in her head yelling at her that she was making a mistake,"Neji, will you go to the Konoha Dance with me?" The words came rushing out of her mouth faster than she could think.

Tenten shut her eyes in anticipation, awaiting the answer she would either love to hear, or make her feel stupid for even asking.

After a moment, Tenten heard Neji speak. "Yes, of course I will go with you, Tenten." He said.

Tenten's eyes lit up as she glanced up at Neji, a smile of pure elation upon her face. "You will?" She asked.

Neji nodded, and then grinned knowingly. "I thought there was something off about you lately. Is this what you've been worrying about all week?" He asked.

Embarrassment rushed over the kunoichi features. She ducked her head and nodded. "I didn't want things to be awkward if you said no. And I also…didn't want it to be a pity date."

Neji raised a brow. "Pity date?" He repeated.

Tenten nodded. "You know, that you feel obligated to accept because you were asked."

Neji's eyes told her that he understood what she meant. "Yes, I can see that being a scenario, but truth be told, I've already turned down twelve girls before you asked me."

Tenten's gaze met Neji's, her eyes wide. "Twelve? Why did you turn them down and not me?" She asked.

There was a hint of…shyness on Neji's face. "Well, because going with someone I wasn't interested in would be rude to that person."

It took Tenten a moment to fully realize what Neji had said meant. A blush tickled her cheeks as she smiled warmly up at Neji.

She had to remember to thank Sakura and Ino.

"I swear, this stupid dance is so much more trouble than it's worth!" Complained the blond shinobi. He and Rock Lee were currently walking through one of the training fields after a good day of sparring. Even though Tsunade had warned them that if they were to engage in any form of training she would punish them, it went against their nature to not get stronger. Besides, it wasn't like it was hurting anyone.

Lee nodded sympathetically. "I understand where you are coming from, Naruto-kun. I too wish to go to the dance, but no female has asked me yet. I am beginning to lose hope, my friend."

Naruto sighed in frustration. "Why? I don't get it? Why can't either of us get asked to this stupid dance? I mean, my friends, if I can even call them that, keep telling me that the girl that likes me is going to ask me to the dance, to wait patiently and not scare her away. I've been waiting patiently, and no one, not one single girl, has come up to me and asked me." Naruto folded his arms across his chest and grunted.

Lee felt for Naruto. The only reason he didn't tell Naruto it was Hinata that was planning to ask him was because Sakura asked, if not threatened, him to not tell Naruto. He bit his tongue as Naruto continued to pout. However, there was still something that Lee was curious about. "Are you still going to say yes to any girl that asked you?" He asked.

Naruto blinked at Lee in confusion. "What brought this up?" He asked.

"Nothing, I'm just curious if you still think that way." Lee replied.

Naruto's brow narrowed in confusion. "You make it sound like a bad thing. What's wrong with just saying yes to the first girl to ask me?"

Lee shook his head and waved a finger at his friend's foolishness. "Naruto-kun, that would not make the woman happy for her to hear that you just said yes because you were desperate."

"How come? She's getting what she wanted." Replied the blond.

Lee nodded. "Yes, but for this dance, it's supposed to be special. The girl that usually asks you is the girl that has a crush on you. Do you have any idea how devastating it would be for Hi-"He caught himself before the name slipped. "How devastating it would be for that girl when, after having the guy she likes accept the invitation, but for him not to like her back?"

His talk seemed to be working, because Naruto lowered his head in thought as Lee spoke. It seemed to be sinking in. "I think I get it, Lee. So basically, I'm not supposed to say yes unless I like her back?"

Lee nodded. "Exactly. Can you think of anyone you would say yes to?" He asked.

Naruto thought for a moment. However, he didn't have long to ponder Lee's question, as a familiar voice caught both of their attentions.

Walking in their direction was Hinata and a girl neither boy had ever seen before. For Lee, it was love at first sight. His eyes went wide at the sight of the golden eyed girl, and Naruto could have sworn that if his jaw had dropped any further, it would have dug into the ground and strike oil.

Lee's legs carried him unconsciously forward at great speed to meet up with the girls.

"Bushy Brows!" Hollered Naruto, sprinting after his friend.

Hinata and Mizuki's conversation was cut short as Lee came at them. Mizuki gasped and took a step back. Hinata saw Naruto chasing after Lee, and her heart skipped a beat. Lee stopped a few feet before the women, his eyes locked on Mizuki's nervous expression.

"There is no need to be afraid, Angel-san." Said Lee, in what he thought was a dreamy voice. "I am known as the Green Beast of Konoha, Rock Lee. I have come to give you my greetings, as this is our first meeting."

Mizuki sweat dropped. She leaned in to whisper to Hinata. "Hey, are all of the guys in Konoha like this?" She asked.

Hinata smiled shyly. She shook her head. "No, Lee-kun here is just…very energetic about a lot of things."

Mizuki blinked. "You're friends with him?" She asked.

Hinata nodded. "He's harmless, I promise you."

Mizuki looked Lee over, as if she really didn't know whether to believe Hinata or not.

"Man, Bushy Brows. What's up with you just taking off like that?" Said Naruto as he came to a halt by Lee's side.

"I am sorry, Naruto-kun. The passion of youth just possessed my body, and I had no choice but to obey." Replied the green shinobi.

Mizuki's eyes widened as she looked Naruto over. Her large orbs clung to every feature of the blond, and she felt her cheeks heat up. She let out a squeal and took Hinata's hand. "Come with me, Hinata-chan. You guys wait right there." She said quickly, yanking Hinata a safe distance away.

"Mizuki-san? What's going on?" Asked Hinata.

Mizuki stole a glance over Hinata at Naruto, who seemed just as confused as Lee. She met Hinata's gaze, smiling. "Who is that?"


"The gorgeous blond guy!" Mizuki exclaimed.

Hinata's eyes widened upon realizing what Mizuki was talking about. "You mean Naruto-kun?"

"That's his name? Naruto?" She asked. When Hinata nodded, she took another look over at Naruto, and felt her cheeks flush again. There was no doubt about it. "Is he single?" She asked.

Hinata felt blindsided. She let out a gasp of surprise as she blinked, realizing something important about her new friend. Mizuki had fallen for Naruto, the very person she was in love with. Her gut told her to inform Mizuki that she had strong feelings for Naruto, and planned to ask him to the dance, but the look of infatuation in Mizuki's eyes, and the fact that she was her newest friend, made it difficult for Hinata to tell her.

Biting back a sigh, Hinata shook her head. "No, Naruto-kun is single."

Mizuki squealed in delight, and bounced in place. Hinata noticed it was a little habit of hers whenever she got excited. "Great. If he doesn't have a girlfriend, then I'm going to ask him if he wants to go to the Konoha Dance with me."

"What?" Asked Hinata, nearly yelling it for the whole village to hear.

Mizuki nodded. "Yep. It'll be perfect. I'll ask him to the dance, he'll say yes, and then on the night of the dance, we'll dance together all night long, and we'll both fall head over heels for each other, and it won't be long before he asks me to be his girlfriend."

Hinata blinked at Mizuki a few times. It hadn't really crossed her mind until just now. Not only had she made a new friend, but she was now a love rival as well.

Mizuki gave Hinata a quick hug. "Thanks for introducing us, Hinata. You're the best." Before Hinata could try to talk her out of this, she released Hinata and ran over towards Rock Lee and Naruto.

Mizuki locked eyes with Naruto and bowed. "Hello, Naruto-kun. My name is Haruto Mizuki, and I have something I wanted to ask you."

To be continued…

(Author Notes)

Again, sorry for the long wait. The other chapters will be up soon (I mean it this time). Let's just say I'm not giving up until it's over. Same with Fusion. I still get threats to finish it.

I hope that you people enjoyed it, after a long wait. I hope no one was put off by the change in the style of my writing. I don't really know when it began to change, but I hope it was for the better.

How will Naruto answer Mizuki's question? Find out next time.

This is the un-beta version. My patient beta, obloquious, will send me back the proofread version soon. This message won't appear when I get the proof read one.

Please review. I know it's been a long time, but I wanna find out if you guys are still interested.