Dancing Dawn

Chapter 11

A gentle piano played through the air, inspiring and yet slightly crestfallen, like the bittersweet memory of going to a home that hadn't been so for a long time. Slowly, I unfolded myself from the ball I had made of myself, exaggeratedly stretching my arms as they, on by one, let go of my tucked legs and reached up, to the side, and around. My neck slowly straightened, bringing up my head as if from a dream. Then my legs, slowly, out and back; it was as if I was for the first time in my life feeling my limbs as if I had never had any before; as if I had been adrift but how now returned to my body… returned home.

When my body was no longer tucked around itself, I stood up, slowly and with outmost care, testing my body's strength like a toddler taking her first steps.

I heard… that you've settled down, that you

Found a girl, and you're married now

I heard… that your dreams came true

Guess she gave you things… I didn't give to you

Walking on my toes, I glided around, my closed eyes opening tenderly, looking around as if searching for…something. Someone.

I froze mid-step, looking over my shoulder as I gave a wide, sad smile before turning around and curtsying low to the space behind me, my back leg stretching far behind me and my support leg bending low; my hands picking up the hems of an invisible ball gown. I was a lady, and I'd just been asked to dance by the love who broke my heart, once upon a time, and whom I loved to this day despite it.

Old friend, why are you so shy?

Ain't like you to hold back… or to hide from the light

I lifted myself from the courtesy, and looked up at the eyes of my partner. He had the same expression as me, yet different. He knew he broke my heart… but maybe it was because I broke his first. Yet, neither of us blamed the other. Neither of us could let go of the feelings we once shared.

I stepped into his inviting arms, my right hand being held up by his own as his other arm wrapped around my waist and my left hand rested on his shoulder. A beat went by, a beat of tentative, contemplative silence. Were we ready to dance, for the first time, after so long, after that awkward drifting apart brought by sadness?

The answer came when the bridge of the song came up, and we stepped back into a slow waltz.

I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited

But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it,

I had hoped you'd see my face, and that you'd be reminded

That for me… it isn't over

Me and my partner glided across the room, a slow, gentle waltz as if we were dancing on clouds and if we were not careful, they would give out from between us. My left hand left his shoulder, and he allowed me to spin out from his embrace, his left hand still holding on to mine and preventing me from going too far. He came up behind me, swiftly and gently, as he took my other hand and placed it on my waist so my back was to his front and we both had one arm up and one arm wrapped around my middle.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you

I wish nothing but the best for you, too

Together, as one, we took quick steps for some momentum, and I jumped into a mid-air split, his hand on my waist holding me up and guiding my back to the floor, which upon touching he spun me slowly again like a music box ballerina: on my toes, one leg high behind me, and he being my support which spun me.

Don't forget me, I begged, I remember you said

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

He continued to spin me as my body straightened up, my back leg lowering to came tightly beside my other, and I only stopped twirling when he held on to my shoulders, facing him. I looked up, pain and love, regret and happiness fighting in my chest; seeing the same in his eyes, before looking down. Then I stepped back – what was I doing? – turned around – I wouldn't leave him, would I? – and fled, my body stumbling as I did so.

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

I had done it again.

You know… how the time flies

Only… yesterday was the time of our lives

We were born and raised… in a summer haze

Bound by the surprise of our glory days

I was consumed by despair, not for the first time. My arms reached everywhere – back, side, front, up, down – and I pulled them back, running my hands over my face as my back curled, threatening to turn me back into a little ball; into a shell. No! I snapped back up, my arms no longer cradling my face but out wide as I ran back the way I came – the place where I left him – and closing in together into a strong jackknife, pirouetting faster and faster. I was stronger than this. It was painful, but I was stronger than the pain.

The damage I had done to him, to myself, was done, but I still had a life to live. I jumped, climbing higher and higher as I spun, landing on my feet, pausing as I threw my head back, and collapsed to my knees only to push the floor back with my hands and pushing myself into a back flip. It wasn't over.

I hate to turn up out of the blue, uninvited

But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it

I hugged myself then. I knew I shouldn't do this; I shouldn't be yearning for this. I had my chance, and let it go. A hand reached out for another that wasn't there, and upon realizing that, my weak hand formed into a fist, violently pulling back into my body and throwing it back into motion.

I had hoped you'd see my face, and that you'd be reminded

That for me… it isn't over

I slowed down, and took one final stumble; I was too tired from fighting to not take a small rest and as a result my body rolled across the floor; just to snap up as I lay on my side, my legs suddenly useless as one arm propped up my upper body and the other reached back for him, far away from me as he was.

But he was gone. It was his turn to leave me.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you

I wish nothing but the best for you, too

My supporting arm slowly slid out from under me, and I was suddenly lying on the floor, on my side. What had happened to us?

I rolled onto my back and brought my arms over my face to cover the tears that wouldn't come, for I had shed them already. But still, my forearms wiped away the tears that should have been, and I rolled my head to the other side, the one where he had not been left standing. I had to look at my future, not my past. It was the best thing I could do for both of us.

It was the only thing I could do.

Don't forget me, I begged, I remember you said

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

I took a deep breath and flipped onto my knees, my shoulders hunched and my upper arms stuck to my sides as if I had suddenly been chained up from my shoulders to my elbows. I threw my head back – it couldn't be! – and in a heartbeat I was on my feet, my arms lifting up as I spun out into a wide stance; only to spin back in with one arm circling over my head and the other across my torso.

If I had chained myself with my mistakes, then I could also break free of them. Pain had touched my life; not taken it over. I went on my tippy toes on one foot as the other leg kicked up at my side and forcing my body to lean the other way so I ended up doing a side split standing up. My leg went down and launched it up again, higher than my last kick, and my body twisted as I did, turning into an acrobatic mid-air spin, my arms curling around but not touching my body.

Nothing compares, no worries or cares

Mistakes and regrets they're memories made

Who would have known how… bittersweet this would taste?

My hands drifted closer once I landed, until they were cradling my heart, and I stood there, feeling my own heartbeat which beat stronger after surviving heartbreak.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you

My eyes drifted closed, and my hands slowly parted, pulled with heartbreaking gentleness to rest on my shoulders, the only hint that it had been someone else's hands that had guided them from my heart to there were my palms facing the ceiling and my fingers slightly curled in, holding on to another's fingers.

I wish nothing but the best for you

I slowly turned, my arms rising once more over my head before coming down in front of me, my hands tucked in my partner's own; our hands interlocked together between our bodies.

I opened my eyes, looked up, and smiled. He came back.

I curtsied, one last time, as he bowed; one of his hands holding on to one of mine before we once again stepped into position and waltzed, the memory of pain not forgotten, but gone; the feelings of regret disintegrating with each step we took and leaving space for hope to blossom.

Don't forget me, I begged, I remember you said

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

Unlike last time, this time our waltz was more lively. We were no longer dancing on egg shells that could break if we didn't dance with the outmost painstakingly care possible, nor was our dance floor a cloud that would give way underneath our feet if we didn't keep our emotions in check. This dance was one of forgiveness, of a friendship; if one that had become somewhat distant over time, that had withstood despite the harshest of punishments.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you

He twirled me around as I bent back, my dress skirt puffing around me, and when he pulled me back my body became super energized; dancing with more strength, more than I knew I had.

I wish nothing but the best for you, too

We jumped, and spun, gliding and flowing faster and faster, never letting go of each other.

Don't forget me, I begged, I remember you said

Then came the time to slow down. The dance was over; it was time to go. But this time, it wouldn't be a bitter, or even a bittersweet parting once we bowed our good-byes.

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead

His hand wrapped around my waist slid off, as did my hand on his shoulder. He bowed, low and reverently, his arm sweeping across his hips; I curtsied for the last time as my free hand pulled up the tip of my dress's hem. Then, the hands that were still holding on to each other opened, and slowly slid out of each other. I looked up, and for the first time, the sight of my partner didn't break my heart, not did my sight break his.

With a smile that was not sad, I nodded my head at him before I turned and walked away.

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead, yeah

I looked back over my shoulder, once, and saw him giving me the softest of smiles as another figure entered my field of vision and smiled lovingly up to him. He glanced down with the same adoration at the woman, his eyes rising to meet mine and silently communicating to me that he had found happiness, and so would I.

Then, offering his arm to the lady, he nodded at me and walked away, their image disappearing into stardust along with my ballroom dress as the piano ended the song in a note of acceptance and contentment. I knew, after all, that he was right.

Silence took over after the melody of Adele's song finished; though the resounding feeling of it remained. I didn't move a muscle for several seconds after the song ended, and when I did it was to turn towards my audience, and bow.

When I looked up at the guys, they all had their jaws dropping – of course, some had their mouths open wide like a fish while other had a thin black line of open space between their lips. They still said nothing and simply continued to stare at me as if seeing a female for the first time.

The silence was broken by a slow, congratulatory solo clap of hands coming from the door. Everyone in the studio, minus me and Kakashi who was right beside the door, jumped and turned to look at who was clapping. Clap…clap…clap…clap…

"Well done, Miss Haruno," a familiar red-headed youth drawled in English with the tiniest of smirks. "I see you've improved, not that you were any less talented two years ago."

"Gaara!" I beamed at the young red head with startlingly pale aquamarine eyes surrounded by black before breaking into a run and tackling him with a hug which he returned with a slightly awkward one-armed one. However, he was far less awkward than when we met two years ago. Back then he didn't like others touching him. At all. Even with his own siblings he kept a distance. By the time he allowed me to hug him, he was the most awkward little thing ever. Not that he was all that little any more, I absently noticed. He was taller than me by a full head.

Tsk. Teenage boys. They grow like weeds!

"How've you been, Gaara? It's been forever since we last talked!" I babbled in English as I let go of him, leaving my hand resting on his arm which in return held on to elbow.

He shrugged. "I've been alright. I suppose I don't need to ask you how you've been. You look well, Sakura."

"Ne, Sakura-chan, who's this guy?"

Both Gaara and I turned to see Naruto, who had stood up and stood stiffly beside me, giving Gaara a neutral look; the Akatsuki and the others leaning to see him and shooting him looks between curious and hostile (unsurprisingly) with the exception of Hinata, who just looked a little nervous and curious. Gaara's ever-so-small smirk vanished as he glanced at my blonde friend, dismissing the others after giving them a quick glance, leaving him as unreadable as Neji or Itachi; if not more. His face was completely blank.

"This," I said, switching back to Japanese as I gestured to the newcomer, "is my old friend Gaara no Sabaku. We met a couple years back in Spain. Gaara," I turned to him as I let go of his arm and stood closer beside the blonde and wrapping one arm around his shoulders, "this is my childhood friend Naruto Uzumaki. We've known each other pretty much since we were in diapers."

The two levelled each other with hard looks before briefly shaking hands, silently. I blinked, confused. I kind of expected this from Gaara, who's very antisocial, but not from my loudmouthed friend who can make friend with the crabbiest, meanest and most unfriendly cat in the city.

Deciding that it must be some male thing brought up by their testosterone, because Kami knows I've been in the middle of all this chauvinistic male dominance crap the minute I met the Akatsuki, who are all alpha males (except maybe Tobi), and therefore know what this is about by default, I rolled my eyes and switched topics; more for a distraction than for actual real want of the new topic.

"So, what did you guys think of my routine?" I asked everyone in general. Immediately, everyone with a functioning voice box had jumped up, surrounding us, and was voicing his opinion.

"You were like, totally out of this world, Sakura-chan! Those fancy Russian prima ballerinas or whatever it is they are would be green with jealousy! Believe it!"

"You were wonderful, my love! Marvellous! Unparalleled!"

"Angel-chan is so talented! Tobi felt so sad at the beginning, but then at the end he felt so much better like when a mommy kisses an owie bye-bye!"

"Bitch is beyond fucking gifted, seriously! Shit, I never imagined there'd bloody be so much fucking emotion in a fucking dance!"

"Yeah, Pinky, what the bastard said! Minus the swears."

"After seeing your talent for the art, I no longer doubt the quantity of money you made at the park. I take back what I said; you're not just a dancer. So far."

"Not even a doll could compare to your entrancing beauty out there – I still see you with your grace when I close my eyes. I can never forget it. Your art is truly immortal."

"Hn. You could easily upstage a professional dancer with your capabilities."

"I agree with my brother, Sakura; if that isn't talent I don't know what is."

"It was a bang, yeah! The emotions changing, the pace changing and telling a story with every shift, it's – it's phenomenal, yeah! True art in all its glory, yeah!"

"Y-you were a-amazing, S-Sakura-san…"

"Well done, Sakura. I don't have the words to express how floored I am."

"I'm not all that familiar with the emotions in the song, but seeing you made me fell sad and happy and the same time. It's strange, isn't it?"

"I can honestly say that I've never been more pleasantly surprised, Sakura-san. You are truly gifted in the art of dance."

"Indeed, you were a treat for the eyes."

Without meaning to, I blushed in praise at all the praise being heaped upon me. Gosh, it wasn't really anything that difficult! But my mother's words echoed in my mind as she explained that a dance was just as much as communicating a message as a song; the mediums were the only difference between the two arts. A dance could be as complex and perfectly executed, but if there is no emotion then that dance could easily be overlooked by a much simpler routine that had so much more to give – because truth be told, art in all it's forms, therefore including dancing, was all about giving, not taking. I was so happy I had been able to get the emotions across, it was almost embarrassing.

After thanking everyone, my eyes slid to the only one who had yet to comment: Neji. He stood regally behind the cluster of people, silently appraising us with his silvery-pearl eyes with a calm expression, giving nothing away.

Without a word, I broke away from the group, who immediately hushed as everyone watched me make my way to the elder Hyuga and the one who decided how worthy I was in the end. I stood just a couple feet from him, craning my head slightly to meet his eyes. Our gazes locked with each other, and for a long moment we said nothing, only contemplating and waiting.

Finally, he closed his eyes and nodded slightly, pleased, and I let out a breath I didn't know I'd been holding. "Very well done indeed, Sakura-san," he said. "You are truly gifted in the art of dancing. And if I'm not wrong, that was a fairly simple routine for you, was it not?"

"EH!?" the others gasped (minus the select few like Gaara, Itachi, Pein, and the other "silent types"), but I just smiled at Neji.

"It wasn't complex, no, but it wasn't exactly beginner level either. I guess you could describe it as comfortable." He nodded again.

"Hey, hey! I wanna know how that was not complex!" Naruto exclaimed as he wormed his way through the group to hug me from behind and rest his chin on my shoulder, much to the others' annoyance if the growls coming from them were anything to go by. I chuckled and patted his golden locks.

"Naruto, if you think that was complex you really need to go to more dance recitals," I said. "At least start watching some shows with dancing in them. Some of those guys pull off some neat tricks."

"No, no," Naruto protested as he shook his head. "I know what some of those fancy smanchy pros can do. But your? Wow! What I meant is how is it not complex after all the emotion that you gave off? How'd you do that? I mean seriously, I've seen clips from some so-called 'professionals' and they don't hold a candle compared to you in terms of emotion." At this I blushed as I let out a joyous laugh and turned around to hug him. He sure knew how to make a girl feel special!

As I opened my mouth to tell him that it was all due to body language, Neji beat me to it by giving a critical explanation from a master's point of view.

"The concept is quite simple, really," he said, giving Naruto a distasteful look although his voice remained polite. "I believe the first thing you should ask is what kind of dance she was performing."

"Wasn't it waltz?" Sai offered. "I believe I've seen similar steps before, but I can't be sure."

"There was absolutely some waltz in that," Zetsu said. When we all shot him quizzical looks, he shrugged and explained, "I know because when I was younger my little next-door neighbour took waltz classes and often practiced in the yard. I was bound to recognize at least the basics after seeing her waltzing around for months."

There was a pause as everyone processed this new and completely unexpected discovery before Neji continued his explanation with a quiet cough. "Yes, you are right. The dance was spread into different parts of the routine, though not all of it was waltz. Now, what do you know about waltz?"

"Hm. It's a couples' dance, is it not?" Itachi asked.


"I still don't get it, yeah. How is doing a bit of waltz invoking emotion, yeah?" Deidara asked, puzzled as he scratched the back of his head and looked bewilderedly at Neji and me.

"Think, you dolt," Sasori cut in, back to looking his usual bored/ sleepy self. "If waltz is a dance for couples, and she was dancing alone, doesn't that immediately give off the feeling of being a bit lonely, and sad?"

"Sasori-sempai's so smart!" Tobi chirped, jumping excitedly. "Tobi remembers now! When Angel-chan did the little steps as she twirled, her hands were up in the air, yes? That was wa- wal- wacks! And she was dancing with an invisible man!"

I smiled at him and reached past Naruto to ruffle his hair. "Tobi's so smart!" I congratulated him. He grinned in response.

"Now that he mentions it, it did look like Pinky was dancing with someone – yet we all knew there was no one there," Kisame added thoughtfully, rubbing his strong chin. "Like when she bowed, or spun out of the waltz stance. The hand that was being 'held' by the partner never moved an inch; like someone really was holding on to it." He looked at me then, looking like an epiphany just struck him. "That was the entire point, wasn't it?" I smiled at him and nodded. Kisame might not look like a big thinker since he's such a big joker, but when he put his mind to it he really was brilliant.

"Point? What fucking point? Shit, nothing of this makes any shitting sense! Fuck!" Hidan complained as he ran frustrated hands over his slicked back silver hair. That's when Kakuzu smacked him on the back of the head.

"You're an idiot, Hidan, that's why you'll never get the point even if it bit you in the ass with a big sign in lights proclaiming it to the world. Pathetic." Hidan growled menacingly and launched himself at Kakuzu, roughly grabbing him by the collar.

"Oh yeah? Well fuck you, Stitch-face! I bet you don't fucking get it either, do you, ass-wipe? You just take to shittin' me because you don't get it either, so you fucking use me as your fucking excuse to ask the fucking question you're too goddamn proud to ask!" Kakuzu's normally impassive eyes widened a fraction, and Hidan gave him a sadistic smirk. "That's right, fucker, I'm onto your pathetic little game."

"Enough." Pein stepped between them then, calmly placing his hands over Hidan's and shooting the albino a warning look. If you don't release him, it seemed to say, there will be dire consequences. Hidan "tch'd" but released Kakuzu nonetheless, crossing his arms as he walked away to the other side of the group, fuming.

Wow. Talk about intense. Or awkward.

"So… it was like dancing with a memory?" Naruto dared to venture, and while the tension in the room didn't completely leave, it lessened considerably as everyone's attention was returned to the original conversation. Not for the first time, I thanked the heavens for Naruto and his goofiness.

"Yes, that's a way of putting it," I said. "I mean, that's sad, isn't it? To have a wonderful memory, wanting nothing more than to do it again but knowing that it's impossible; leaving you only your memory to relieve it. But even then, it isn't enough, because our memories wither away with time no matter how much we wish them not to. So in a way, your happiness withers away too, day by day."

"On top of that, sometimes even the best of memories are poisoned by regrets," Gaara quietly added. I nodded and without anyone noticing, hooked our pinkie fingers together. I knew Gaara was not only speaking about the dance.

A loud sob made me snap my head up, and I sweat dropped at seeing nearly everyone in the room sniffling as they battled back fat tears from their eyes. Even Pein, Itachi, Neji and some of the other stoic-ish ones looked away, though I could see their jaws clenching as they strained to contain their cool, while the rest was openly bawling around me. Hinata, bless her gentle soul, quietly wiped away her tears with a tissue.

"Saaaaakuuurraaaaa-chaaaaaaan!" Deidara bawled as he fell to his knees before me and wrapped his arms around my legs as waterfall tears sprouted from his eyes. "W-why does it s-s-seem like y-you know such sadness, y-yeah?!"

Tobi was right beside him, and since my legs were already taken, he attached himself to my waist once again. "Poor, poor Angel-chaaaaan!"

Pein quietly came up beside me and patted my head, meeting my gaze in a reassuring way though he couldn't hold it for long – he turned his head abruptly in 1.5 seconds flat, though not before I saw the tears swell in his eyes. Kisame was sniffing quite loudly beside Itachi, who took out a tissue and dabbed the corner of his eye like a gentleman. Zetsu covered his eyes with his hand, Hidan leaned against the wall facing the other way, Kakuzu nearly looked completely unaffected if it wasn't for his trembling lower lip as he glared at the cailing, Sasori just stood as he allowed his tears to fall, Kakashi had his nose buried in a little orange book though I could tell he wasn't reading it because he hadn't turned the page, and Sai stood there supporting a bawling Naruto and a stubborn Sasuke who looked like if he tried to hold back his emotions any longer he would burst while offering them each a tissue to blow their runny noses on. Neji nodded sagely, a single glistening tear making its way down his pale cheek before he wiped it away with a tissue (seriously, where are all these tissues coming from?).

Madara, not about to be left out, wormed his way between the two at my feet (meaning he kicked them off and took their place) before kneeling down on one knee and holding my hands (upon which Gaara growled menacingly since I had been holding his) and, with eyes that held an impossible amount of stars like some sort of cheesy shoujo manga, declared, "My poor, poor darling; to have had to endure such pain! You are indeed strong, to have come out from such despair! Oh, my lo –"

He didn't get to finish his dramatic rant as Gaara, having gotten fed up with these loons, finally snapped and kicked the eldest Uchiha none too gently on the head, sending him flying across the room.

"Now, now, Gaara, calm down," I cooed carefully, inwardly sweat-dropping. I was aware that I was the only one in the room who knew that Gaara was not only severely anti-social, he also has a slightly violent streak when he snapped. Such as now. Oh, goody; my life simply rocked right now. "It's okay, they were just deeply touched by your words."

The moody red head glared at the pervert, letting out a quiet huff before turning to me. "Our words." He corrected. Deciding that there was way too much drama and weirdness going on, I decided to change the topic.

"Hey Gaara, if you are here doesn't that mean that Temari and Kankuro are too?"

He nodded, and right on cue, two heads poked in through the door, looking mildly out of breath.

"Gaara!" they simultaneously called out in relief as they stepped into the studio. I vaguely thought that, as spacious as this studio was, there were way too many people in here. "We've been looking all over for you!"

Gaara's expression went back to neutral, though to the untrained eye it looked like it had barely changed. I had spent so much time with him that I had learned how to read the smallest of facial changes to discern his mood. I guess that would explain why I could kind of tell what some of the more expressionless Akatsuki members were thinking. I'd had previous practice.

The two people who stepped in were two young adults, a boy and a girl. The girl, Temari, had sandy-blonde spiky hair which she tied in four ponytails at the back of her head. Unlike my other blue-eyed blonde friend Ino, Temari was tall and athletic and not quite a princess, though she had her girlish moments. The boy, Kankuro, was only an inch or so shorter than Temari, and he had messy short brown hair and eyes. He wasn't trim like Neji or the idols in the room, but don't let his baggy clothes fool you. Hiding behind a little bit of extra flab was muscle; something his forearms were a testament to. Kankuro and Temari were Gaaraq's siblings, with Temari being the oldest, followed by Kankuro, and finally Gaara being the youngest.

"Well, if it isn't Sakura!" Kankuro grinned as he spotted me, opening his arms wide. "Come to papa!"

"Don't be an idiot for once in your life, Kankuro," Temari grumbled at him as she brought down her elbow on his head. "Honestly, when you do that I question if we're related at all." She turned to me then, a wide smirk taking place. "Well, how are ya, Rosita?"

"Temari, it's been so long!" I laughed as we embraced. Seriously, Temari was like the older sister I never had. We'd last seen each other years ago in Spain, when the siblings and I parted ways. I'd kept in touch with her for as long as we could, but their family traveled a lot and they had little time to keep up with email, so our contact diminished to a postcard or quick email twice every month or so.

"Temari, you didn't have to hit me so hard," Kankuro groaned. "I think you made me bite my tongue."

"Aw, you poor baby," Temari cooed in a babyish voice as we released each other. "So, Rosita, this is your dream, huh? You made it – congratulations." I beamed at her. She was one of the select few who knew of my lifelong dream to come to Japan.

"Thanks, Temari."

"Woah, woah, woah there!" Naruto interjected, jumping up between us and giving Temari a suspicious look, crossing his arms. "What did you just call Sakura-chan?" The other in the room seemed genuinely curious as well.

Temari narrowed her eyes at the idiot, and I mentally sighed. While I loved Naruto, sometimes he really didn't know when to keep quiet. Or maybe he just ignored that little survival instinct. I say this because Temari disn't get that athletic body from just going to the gym. Let's just say that, like Gaara, she is just a smidge prone to a little violence. Just a little.

Before she could do Kami-knows what to the blonde fool, I took hold of his ear and pulled with bored face. "Ow! Owowowow! That hurts, Sakura-chan!"

"Naruto, please stop being such a pest," I said. "Temari is a friend of mine, she isn't calling me any weird names."

"B-but how do you know?"

"By the way she rolled the R, I'd say that it was Spanish, or another language of the like," Sasuke said.

"That's right, Uchiha Sasuke," Kankuro piped up. I raised an eyebrow at him, wondering how he knew Sasuke's without introductions. Then I remembered they were idols. Man, it was so easy to forget that at times. "Spanish it is."

"Well, what's it mean?" Kisame asked, a large blue hand rubbing away the last of his tears.

"It means 'little pink' or 'little rose,' though it refers mostly to the latter." I answered. "It's a nickname they gave me when we were in Spain."

"You were in fucking Spain?" Hidan exclaimed, and immediately the three Sabakus threw him displeased looks. Uh-oh. It might be a little late to mention that the Sabakus were from Spain, and at such probably didn't appreciate their beloved country being uttered in the same sentence as a swear.

"Oooh, Tobi remembers Spain!"

"Tobi, hush," Zetsu said.

"Tobi hushing."

I shook my head, amused. I honestly didn't know what to make of this group. They were annoying as hell, and I had an inkling they were not above stalking, but I had to admit: they were an amusing bunch. Just then, Temari sighed, forgetting about Sailor Narcissus and grinning at me.

"Say, Sak, do you still remember the Cha Cha dance you learned in Spain?"

"Kind of," I said, surprised. "I remember the music and steps, but the routine itself is a little foggy. Why?"

She gestured at the Akatsuki with her thumb over her shoulder, her hip cocking to the side with confident attitude. "I was only thinking that those bastards could do with seeing that Spain isn't just some country." Ah. It seems I was wrong; she hadn't yet let go of Hidan's foul vocabulary. I sighed.

"Temari, please pardon that idiot," I said as I tried to relax so another headache didn't engulf me. Seriously, how many headaches could one get in a day? "He swears like a sailor, but that's just his speech pattern. He didn't mean to insult your country."

Temari crossed her arms as she regarded the Akatsuki, but mainly Hidan, with a cold stare. Neji, who'd been silent since the other two Sabakus appeared, spoke up. "She is right, Sabaku-san. Hisaki-san does, unfortunately, have the rather distasteful habit of cussing when he speaks." Hidan flushed and grumbled sullenly, refusing to look at anyone. Some of the other members gave him apologetic, sympathetic looks that no one else seemed to notice, but otherwise said nothing.

Temari didn't look fully convinced, but her cold stare seemed less hostile. "Whatever," she finally grumbled out, waving her hand in dismissal.

Kankuro folded his hands behind his head in a laid-back pose. "But you know," he said to no one in particular, "I wouldn't mind seeing our Rosita dance the Cha Cha with Gaara again. I'd say that after two years, both their skills should have improved, no? Especially Rosita's. Besides, it's not every day we can get Mr. I'm-Too-Cool-For-This to do anything, much less dance."

"HE DANCES?" Naruto, along with the other energetic members of Akstuki, including Madara who had regained consciousness and snapped into a sitting position like a mummy on the other side of the room, screeched, their voices laced with blatant disbelief as their bulging eyes zeroed on the Spanish red-head who glared back at them.

"Hm," he hummed nonchalantly, crossing his arms. Everyone froze for a split second before Naruto collapsed to his knees and began pounding the wooden floor with his fist; instantly becoming the image of despair. Deidara, Tobi, and Kisame were right beside him as they comforted one another.

"No! Not another one!" Naruto wailed. "Those stupid Uchiha brothers are more than enough, then he had to appear with that damnable 'hn' thing! No! No! No! Why? The teme is bad enough! No! Why another one?! NOOOOOOO!"

I face palmed. Much as I loved Naruto, I was beginning to question just how healthy our relationship was for my dancing career. Probably not very.

Gaara regarded the wailing bunch coolly, but a slight twitch of his eye gave away his annoyance. And if his trembling fists, glenched so tightly his knuckles were turning white, were anything to go by, he was fighting really hard to restrain himself from giving the bunch of idiots their just ass kicking.

Not knowing what else to do to avoid the eminent massacre, I grabbed his hand and pulled him to dance floor, yelling at Temari above the ruckus and pointing at my i-Pod, which was still connected to the sound system. Temari didn't hesitate as she immediately caught my message and rushed towards my i-Pod, sidestepping the idiots in the room with impressive agility. As Temari fiddled with my i-Pod, searching for the song I hadn't needed to name, Kankuro made himself useful by nudging the others with his foot and giving them a warning before stepping back to sit against the mirrored wall on one of the forgotten mats. Meanwhile, I had Gaara's angry face cradled in my hands, forcing him to look at me.

"Gaara," I urgently whispered to him. "Gaara. Calm down. Take a deep breath. In. Out. In. Out. Good. Relax... In. Out. That's right, relax. It's alright." Gaara's eyes, which were hazed over with anger, slowly started to lose their venom and focus on me. Slowly, he closed his eyes, blinking away the last remnants of ire from his being, though I could still detect some tension in his shoulders.

Once I was sure that Gaara wasn't going to kill anyone, I chanced a look at Temari, who gave me a thumbs up. I nodded before returning my attention to Gaara, feeling the curious and somewhat jealous stares of the idols on us. "Gaara," I whispered calmly at him. His eyes bore into mine, silently telling me that he was listening. "Do you remember our dance?" He gave a tiny, imperceptible nod that I could detect only because my hands were holding his face close to mine. "Would you dance with me?"

Gaara said nothing for a heartbeat, then in response his hands carefully took hold of mine and placed them in the starting dance position; which was a copy of my previous dance – my left hand on his shoulder, his right hand around my waist, and our free hands joined high by our heads. The only difference thus far was that, this time, I did very much have a partner. I glanced at our audience from the corner of my eye, and their stares had morphed into excited, curious ones though a little voice in the back of my head told me that none were all too pleased to see me in such close proximity with another male. I rolled my eyes.

I nodded at Temari, signalling her to start the music. She complied, and quickly made her way to the mirrored wall along with the others. There was a moment of silence as I quickly conjured up my memories of the dance I'd learned in Spain two years ago. I'd been telling the truth earlier; I remembered the steps more than the actually routine. I was counting on my body's memory to save face. Gaara gave a knowing glance, and the music started, beginning with a flirtatious, dangerously smooth violin.

The violin played a middle note, then a high one, before repeating and adding a low note in a way that reminded me of a Casanova approaching.

Drums and trumpets joined in a slow, seductive rhythm, and Gaara and I moved back, taking mirror strides – I stepped back with my right, and he stepped forward with his left, our coordination being the only thing preventing us from stepping on each other as we strode back and forward, chest to chest, gazes locked.

They say around the way you ask for me

There's even talk about you wanting me

I must admit that's what I wanna hear

But that's just talk until you take me down

Gaara released my waist and spun me, his hand holding mine above my head as I twirled with ease to stand on his other side, our hands interlocking as he pushed me back; my feet raising to their toes as if I was in heels and giving my hips that Latin sway with every step. Drums rose, and I ducked under Gaara's arm and strode away a few steps with my hands on my hips before turning around and beckoning him to me, all the while still moving backwards.

If it's true don't leave me all alone down here

Wondering if you're ever going to take me there

Tell me what you're feeling `cause I need to know

Girl you got to let me know which way to go

`Cause I need to know

Gaara followed me, taking longer strides and he, too, moving his hips. I could've jived away, but I didn't. I wanted him to catch me. His hands found mine on my hips, and together we moved backwards in a cha-cha step, our hips moving in synch as mirrors of each other.

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

I need to know

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

He spun me around, my back flush against his chest, his arms caging me as we cha-cha'd in the other direction. In a flash, I was out of his arms and was at his side, and we were moving sideways – I took an exaggerated step to the side, a single leg holding my body at and angle as I swung my hip to the side, crossing my feet thrice on the floor before doing the same on the other side; all the while Gaara holding on to my hands from behind me.

My every thought is of this being true

It's getting harder not to think of you

Girl I'm exactly where I want to be

The only thing I need is you here with me

Gaara spun me again, one way then the other, faster and faster, my feet effortlessly gliding around each other as I circled him before ending into our original position, with a pair of hands locked in the air and his other hand around my waist, never losing the beat with our feet.

If it's true don't leave me all alone down here

Wondering if you're ever going to take me there

Tell me what you're feeling `cause I need to know

Girl you got to let me know which way to go

We cha-cha back and forth again, but at the end of it Gaara took one long stride, almost a lunge, his leg brushing the outside of mine and leaving my abandoned leg to slide between his as he bent me back; his strong hand holding up my upper body just a couple feet from falling to the floor as my other leg rose so my knee was resting on his other leg.

`Cause I need to know

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

I need to know

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

Gaara stepped back, pulling me with him, and I spun under his arm once again before both of his arms snaked around my waist, holding me to him, and I let my body bend back and sway from one side to other, my hands holding on to his powerful upper arms.

`Cause I need to know

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

I need to know

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

I rose so were chest to chest once again, and I snaked one leg around his hip as my arms circled his neck, our breath mingling from the close proximity. Gaara stepped back, using his arms to hold my weight as he carried me with him; my free leg allowed to trail behind us, brushing the floor in silence.

If it's true don't leave me all alone down here

Wondering if you're ever going to take me there

Tell me what you're feeling `cause I need to know

Girl you got to let me know which way to go

`Cause I need to know

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

I need to know

The leg that was around him uncurled back into place, and we spun together before we once again cha-cha'd back and forth; our hips swivelling and dangerously close like the rest of our bodies.

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

Gaara opened his stance and our interlocked hands, who hadn't let go since the beginning safe for one moment, melted together as he twirled me again, moving me from his front to his back.

If it's true don't leave me all alone down here

Wondering if you're ever going to take me there

Tell me what you're feeling `cause I need to know

Girl you got to let me know which way to go

This was the tricky part. I placed my hands on Gaara's shoulders, his hands on top of mine, and our knees folded and unfolded in the cha-cha step, giving our hips their swivelling rhythm.

`Cause I need to know

I need to know

When the beat came, Gaara kneeled and I jumped, tucking in my legs and using my momentum to direct my body in an arc over Gaara's body; completely trusting him to do the finale and ensure my safety.

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

I need to know

I need to know

Tell me baby girl, `cause I need to know

Gaara's arm shot out to catch my upper body and slow it down from gravity's grasp. We finished with me sitting on Gaara's knee, his arm around my waist as I leaned back and he leaned forward so our faces were inches from each other, one of my arms fastened securely around his neck with his other hand holding it there.

The voices faded, the music having done so a few beats ago, leaving me and Gaara slightly panting. Yet, I couldn't hold back my grin. We'd done it! And boy, did it feel great to dance that routine again, with none other than Gaara no less. I missed my dance partner.

Gaara slowly pulled us back up so we weren't leaning any more, and after flashing him a grin, I stood up from his knee and released his neck before holding out my hand to him. He took it and stood up, giving me the tiniest of smug smirks before we turned towards our audience, hands linked, and bowed.

Like last time, there was shocked silence, but unlike last time, this one didn't last long. After a second, the studio boomed with loud clapping and whistling, and my heart swelled with pride. Immediately, the others stood up and flooded around us, words of congratulations and admiration coming from every direction. I even saw Naruto and some of the guys give Gaara a clap on the back, and I immediately worried since Gaara wasn't much for touch. His personal space, which he also value highly, was already being breached. My fears were laid to rest when he did nothing but nod his acceptance at the congratulatory and appreciative words. His smirk was gone and he was back to his blank self, though I could tell by the way his eyes shined and his mouth twitched at the corners that he was beyond pleased with the reaction.

"That was amazing, Sakura-chan!" Naruto gushed. "You were so graceful, and that hip thing?" He made a poor imitation of swivelling his hips like we did, looking more like a broken robot than anything. "So cool!"

"Yes indeed, very cool…" Madara drooled, his eyes gazing up but hazed over as his mind drifted off to dreamland.

"Agreed… that was so sexy, yeah…" Oh, not you too, Deidara! You actually seemed like a nice guy.

"I will forever hold on to this beautiful memory; I'll never let it fade…" Sasori sighed dreamily before pulling out a video camera out of nowhere, grinning slightly like a maniac. "This baby will make sure of that."

"You mean you taped her?" Itachi asked his fellow band member. I felt Gaara, his siblings, and Naruto stiffen along with the other members of Team 7 as they slowly narrowed their gazes on him. He shrugged, giving a tiny smug, victorious smirk as he played with the recording device.

"Every second."

"Then we can probably ask Konan if we can get some of the tech guys to edit out some stuff for us, right?" Kakuzu asked in his rough way, one eyebrow raised expectantly. Sasori scoffed.

"We? I don't recall ever saying this was for us."

"Sasori…" Pein warned, but his cautioning tone was drowned out as every male in the vicinity, including Gaara, Kankuro and Kakashi but with the exception of Neji, pounced on the unsuspecting red head and wrestled for the camera; every man for himself. Growls and snarls snapped around, filled with "whatcha doing filming her, you stalker?!" and "it's mine!" and "get your ass out of my face!" and several colourful insults. The remaining people – meaning Hinata, Temari, Neji and me – looked on with horrified, somewhat amused, annoyed, and shocked expressions respectively at the dog pile before us as each idol squirmed and jabbed his way through the others to get to the prized camera, which had been lost somewhere among the bodies. I noticed that Kisame, despite being the one with the obvious advantage due to his sheer size and musculature, was in trouble because the others seemed to think he was too likely to win and so ganged up on him.

"Well," Temari said after a few seconds of watching the boys beat the crap out of each other, finding the camera no longer the only thing in their minds as too many jabs, kicks, bites and hair pulling had taken their toll on every participant's patience. "I don't know about you, but I'm ready for some lunch. My treat."

"S-shouldn't we s-stop them?" poor Hinata ventured nervously, her hands fumbling and shaking as she struggled to find something to help with but not quite knowing how. I don't think anyone would, much less shy little Hinata. This was the renowned Hyuga Studios; something as preposterous as fighting, much less the two most successful bands and two diplomat's kids fighting, over a camera, was akin to blasphemy. It was evident by Neji's scowl that he shared the thought.

"Temari, I'll take you up on your offer," I groaned, rubbing my forehead with one hand. These fools were going to make me end up in the hospital, I swear. "I just don't think I have the energy to deal with these imbeciles any more." As if to prove my point, Kakashi body slammed Itachi and pulled his pony tail, only to have Madara and Tobi double tag team and tackle him off the other Uchiha, just to find Sasuke lunge at Madara with Sai backing him up as they defended their manager; meanwhile Naruto had Gaara in a headlock as he screeched "Sasori, you bastard, I'll teach you to secretly film my Sakura-chan!" while Kankuro gnawed at the blonde's leg (?!) in a sad attempt to help his younger sibling. Meanwhile Zetsu had jumped onto Kisame's back while Deidara tripped them both, and so on and so forth. I was beyond shocked and amazed at seeing cool and collected Pein wrestling with Sasori and Hidan over top poor Kakuzu who struggled to get their combined weight off his back.

I glanced at Temari with wide, puppy-dog eyes and a pouting lip. "Please, take me with you."

Temari laughed and hooked her arm through mine, turning to call to the two Hyugas, "You two are invited as well, if you want."

Hinata nervously glanced between us and the brawl, not knowing what to do. On the one hand, it was her duty as a Hyuga to help break up the fight, but on the other hand, she had no clue how and would probably end up getting in the way more than helping. Neji let her out of her misery when he placed a hand on her shoulder and said, "You can go, Hinata. You've earned a break. Don't worry, I can take it from here."

"A-are you s-sure, Neji-nii-san?" He nodded.

"It's alright, go on. You've been working hard; just make sure to be no more than two hours. And Sakura-san, you've earned your freedom. I'm afraid this has taken longer than planned, so feel free to get your things and leave. I'll expect you back here tomorrow at eight sharp. Nice meeting you, thought not in reality, Sabaku-san."

Temari smirked. "Same here." Then, to Hinata. "Well, let's go, girl. There's no point in sticking around. We got some lunch to find!" Hinata gave her a small, but oh-so sincere smile as she stepped beside me. Deciding that it was not good to leave her out, I hooked my free arm around hers, and we left the room without any of the brawling idols noticing.

As we stepped out of the room, I turned my head and called back, "Say, Neji-san, do you think you could look after my i-Pod for me? I don't think it's safe to cross that dance floor right now."

Neji, who followed us to the door, nodded. "Of course. Just ask me for it tomorrow. Until then, Sakura-san." I gave him a grateful smile and he bowed his head again in acknowledgement and good-bye, before slowly turning his head, his eyes dangerously narrowed in untold anger, towards the chaos in the room. Quietly, he shut the door behind him and I swear I kid you not when I say I felt killing intent emitting from the other side of that door. I idly wondered what he could do to get sixteen rowdy men and youth under control when I suddenly remembered that he practiced martial arts as well. And I imagined that to be a teacher, he had to be quite advanced.

I snickered. Boy where those guys going to be surprised!

The girls walked with me to the change room where I changed back into my casual clothes, stuffing my dancing attire in my bag. As I did so, I grumbled about stupid boys and their stupid little gadgets. Temari smirked smugly at me before she pulled out a small flat square of plastic from her pocket in response. Hinata and I looked bewildered at each other.

"W-what's that, Sabaku-san?"

"Oh please, just call me Temari, alright Hinata? I can call you that, right?" Then without waiting for an answer, she tossed me the little square disk, upon which Hinata and I inspected.

"It's a memory card," I said. I looked up at her, about to ask her why she was randomly carrying a memory card without a camera, when the answer hit me. A sly smile slowly unfolded on my face. "Ah, Temari. You sneaky little Spaniard. When did you take this?"

"Ah-ah, Sakura. Magicians never reveal their secrets."

Hinata, having caught on and smiling softly though slightly deviously, looked over at the studio door as we passed it where the fighting noises had intensified, though while before there were random war cries and insults, now there were sounds of bodies being hit head-on and crashing against the walls and the floor, girlish screams of panic filled the air as well as "looks out!" and "behind you!" and "He's got me! He's got me! Help!" and "Shit, save yourself!"

"S-should we tell them?" she asked.

Temari and I looked at each other before we grinned and simultaneously said, "Nah!" Hinata looked very amused and giggled quietly as we all once again hooked arms and left the boys on their own. They would figure it out soon enough. Right now, we had a more pressing matter: what we were going to get for lunch.

Man, I did so love my girlfriends.

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