An Old Friend [Niall Horan/Ariana Grande fanfiction]

Long ago, before the fame, Ariana Grande was just a normal girl from Boca Raton, Florida. And becoming a member of the most popular boy band in the world was just a twinkle in Niall Horan's eye. What everyone didn't know was . . . they were best friends. And maybe something more. But they lost touch over the years. Now, Ariana's devastating cancer is back. And this time Niall's never letting her go.

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5. Catching Up

Niall's POV

The look on Ariana's face was priceless. It was a mixture of complete shock, mortification, and ultimate amusement.  I couldn't stop smiling as we sped down the road, in case the paps were still following us. I looked beside me to see Ariana shaking her head and silently laughing, her head in her hands. She gazed up at me and then burst into laughter again.

"You know I have no words, right?" she asked incredulously. I smirked at her, still amused, then adverting my gaze back to the road. God, she was so beautiful when she laughed.

"That's kind of why I did it," I replied, looking over at her again. We locked eyes for a second, and she blushed and looked down, giggling slightly. I smiled. Yes!! We'd had a moment!! This was the best day of my life. You have no idea how much I've missed my Ariana.

"It's exactly what you would have done in elementary school, too." Ariana told me. I laughed and turned onto the street where Nandos was. We parked in the parking lot and then got out. This was a fairly busy street, but it wasn't as busy as the street Ariana was on, so hopefully there would be no paparazzi around to bug us. As much as I wished Ariana and I were dating, I knew I had to take my time. We'd only just reunited.

"Um, Niall? You gonna ditch the excellent disguise?" Ariana asked.

I studied myself in the car mirror, running a hand through my purple afro wig. "Nah, I think this suits me," I teased, winking at her. She blushed a little and giggled again. God, I was on a roll. She knew I was teasing, though, so I quickly took my disguise items off and threw the costume in the back of the trunk. If there were any paps around here, we'd just have to deal with it. It's part of our job description, after all.

I walked around to the other side of the car and opened the door for Ari, taking her hand and helping her out of the car. She smiled gratefully, and I could have sworn there were sparks flying when we touched. As she got out of the car, she tripped, and I quickly positioned myself so she'd fall in my arms.

When she did, I felt like I was in heaven. There were fireworks going off in my heart, and I know she could feel it too. After she'd caught her breath, she smiled at me as I held her in my arms.

"I've missed you, Niall," she told me softly as she looked into my eyes. I could see the honestly and sweetness in her beautiful brown ones. We were so close, I could feel her breath in my face. It smelled sweet, like bubblegum.

"I've missed you too," I said slowly. I leaned in, thinking for sure I was going to kiss her. But at the last minute, she pulled away and straightened out her skirt.

What just happened? I really thought we were about to kiss. "You okay?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

She nodded, but I saw something in her eyes that I couldn't exactly place. "We should go in," she suggested. "Want to sit outside?" she pointed to the tables in front of Nandos.

"Uh, sure," I said, a little confused. I knew we had just met up again. and Ariana probably wanted to take it slow. I didn't even really know if we were friends, or something more...? I knew that we both felt something just then, that was for sure. I really wanted Ariana to be my girlfriend, but if not, I was happy and would respect her decision because when Ari's happy, I'm happy. I'd just have to talk with her about it and clarify. Over food, of course. "After you," I said, opening the doors for her. She smiled at me and we both went inside.

 

Ariana's POV

There are so many little things about Niall that I haven't really forgotten about but just let them drift to the back of my mind. After being away from him so long, I forgot how funny he was, how outgoing, how he wasn't afraid to do something a little outrageous. Like his whole "excellent disguise" bit today, which was extremely funny. I was still not over that, by the way.

But he had a sensitive side to him too, like he was a little shy around me, like he didn't exactly know what to say. He opened doors for me and all that stuff, and it was really very sweet. And when I tripped getting out of the car and he quickly let me fall into his arms, my heart started beating like a drum and this feeling I've never felt before spread through me. He had such kind eyes, and an attractive smile... it was obvious to me how much I'd missed this. It just felt right, being in his arms. And it suddenly occurred to me how close our faces were together, and I knew that we were about to kiss...

And for some reason, I had to pull away. I had to distance myself. I knew I couldn't let it be like last time. What if Niall abandoned me again? I know he hadn't meant to... but he didn't even say goodbye. I couldn't afford another heartbreak. I tried to smile, like everything was fine, but we both knew it wasn't. I knew I needed to build up my trust. This friendship thing - or whatever it was - was going way too fast.

"After you," Niall said, opening the door for me. I walked inside and he followed. Even as I was turned around, I could feel his eyes roaming all over me as he checked my booty out. I whirled around and glared at him, slapping him upside the head playfully. "Stop staring," I scolded. He blushed and looked at the ground. "I can't help it," he whined, looking like a guilty little boy who'd just stolen cookies from his mom's cookie jar. I snickered and rolled my eyes, making my way to the counter to get our food. Niall rushed to catch up with me and then slipped his hand in mine. I glanced up at him, eyes wide, and he smiled. What was this supposed to mean? Was this just a friendly, warm gesture? Or was it something more? My heart fluttered a little bit faster. I looked away from his gaze, hoping he didn't notice. I focused on something else, like the menu. "Oh! Niall! They have spaghetti." Spaghetti was one of my favorite foods, because Niall and I had a pastime with it. We'd take a long noodle in both our mouths and do the thing from Lady And The Tramp. Only at the last minute, we'd make a face and pull away so our lips didn't touch. Now that we were older, and it was obvious we had sparks flying between us, I wondered if it would be the same kind of deal.

"Yeah, they added that to the menu recently," Niall told me. "Their chicken is the best, so we'll get that, and a large fries too...," he listed what else he planned to get, counting off his fingers.

My eyes widened. Niall had always been a big eater, but it seemed like his appetite had grown A LOT over the years! I shoved him playfully. "Woah there, big boy," I joked. Niall laughed. "Please Ari you know how much I LOVE FOOD." As the line inched closer, some fans approached us.

"Wow, my two favorite celebs in one place?! TOGETHER?!" a girl with curly red hair exclaimed. The girl next to her with green braces nodded enthusiastically like a bobblehead. "Can we get your picture?"

"Sure, sweetie," I told her. "Of course love," Niall said with a smile. I held their camera at an angle so we could all fit in. I took one for the second girl, too. "Thank you," they said, waving as they walked away. We waved back. A second later, we saw them giggling. The girl with braces pushed the redheaded girl back in our direction. Blushing, she came back up to us.

"Are you guys... like... dating?" she asked.

There was a long pause as Niall and I stared at each other. It was so awkward you could feel it in the air. Niall's eyes seemed bluer, more intense.

"No," I said finally. "We're not. We're just friends."

The girl smiled, nodded, and left. The air was thick with silence between us two after that. I swallowed as we made our way to the counter, and Niall took our order.

"I'll get it," I told him. "You don't have to pay."

"No, I insist," Niall said. Then he smiled at me, his eyes lighting up again. I breathed a sigh of relief. Good, I thought he was mad at me!

Niall's POV

I had to adimt, I was a little hurt when Ariana told those fans we were just friends. I mean, it might be true, but their was more to our relationship than that. There was no denying the fireworks between us when I held her in my arms and we almost kissed in the parking lot. But it was understandable that she wanted to take it slow, I mean like I said I respected her desicions and if she was happy I was happy. Plus, publicity's a total (excuse my French) bitch. As we waited for our number to be called, I decided to talk to her.

"Ari," I said, taking her hand and looking into her eyes, "Did you mean what you said? About us being just friends?"

Ariana sighed. She looked down at her hands and then bit her lip. "Yes, Niall, I did. I really like you, but we've just reunited. I know you'll never leave me like you did last time - at least, I hope not - but I just need things to be taken a little slower than they are in this moment. But one day, I promise, I want to start a relationship with you." She squeezed my hand and smiled, her brown eyes sparkling.

I nodded slowly. God, she was so beautiful. "Is there anything I can do to help you see that I'll never abandon you, and let you know how much I truly care for you?" I asked hopefully, wishing she'd realize how much she meant to me. She looked down at the ground, blushing as her long eyelashes rested against her flushed cheeks.

"I believe that, Niall, I do. And I care for you too, so much that words can't express. But I've just gotten out of a really bad relationship, and...,"

"What?!" My ears pricked up. This was news to me. Immediately a wave of feelings overwhelmed me. But mostly, overall, it was surprise. Why hadn't she told me this earlier? "What did he do to you?" I asked immediately, tensing a little. She smiled and took my hand.

"It's nothing bad, okay? He just didn't treat me like you did. It wasn't the best thing for me. And when I finally broke up with him, he got mad," explained Ari. I studied her face. Something changed when she started talking about this guy, whoever he was. Her shoulders drooped and her smile seemed forced. I suddenly had the urge to wrap my arms around her and never let go. I never wanted anyone to hurt her ever again. It was obvious that he had broken her heart, whether she was truly in love with him or not. And since she was the one that had broken off the relationship, I was guessing probably not.

"Who was he?" I asked, feeling a flash of anger. This gorgeous girl didn't deserve to be treated badly. Maybe I could teach him a lesson.

Ariana laughed, her eyes twinkling. My eyes narrowed. What was funny about this? "Niall, it doesn't matter. I'm not ready to talk about it yet. When I am, I'll tell you, okay?" she nudged me playfully. I smiled, relaxing a little. "Okay, if you say so, Ari-bear," I teased. I know she hated that nickname, so I was expecting the joking shove that she gave me afterwards. Suddenly the lady behind the counter called out our order, so Ariana and I walked hand in hand to get our food. I smiled and squeezed her hand, loving the feel of it in mine.

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