Always and Never

Ariel Tanner believed that love was nothing but an illusion, a sick prank your brain pulls on you. But when she meets Harry Styles she begins to question everything she has put together about love. This frustrating boy was the only truly genuine person she'd ever met. How someone like him could even exist blew her mind. Harry, on the other hand, was amazed at how closed off Ariel acted. He made it his mission to knock down the walls she'd built around herself, because behind the flirting and the sarcasm, he got a glimpse of a girl that he wanted to become as close as humanly possible to. But did he really want to know everything behind those walls?

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31. Awkward (long)

"God dammit Ariel...." Kate sighed into the phone.

"I feel bad enough Kate!" I groaned quietly, the tears were still fresh on my cheeks. 

"I know, I know, but I wouldn't really be your friend if I lied to you." She replied. 

"Well what do I do now??" I cried, my voice climbing a few octaves.

"Before you do anything you have to calm down." She said gently. I tried to take deep breaths. In, out. In, out. 

"After that?" I asked between breaths.

"You call him. Either you can admit how you actually feel, or you can continue with the relationship like it was before your argument." She answered slowly. I guess I knew that...

"Alright, I'll give it some thought." I sighed heavily.

"Don't wait too long, the poor guy is gonna be a mess until he hears from you, and you're gonna be a mess until you call him." She instructed.

"Okay, okay." I nodded, beginning to plan out what I was going to say.

 “Do you want to do something tomorrow before or after work?” She asked suddenly, changing the subject completely.

“Why?” I replied, though I knew exactly why. Kate had a very good memory...

“For your birthday dummy.” She explained, I could almost hear her eyes rolling.

“Do you really want to make a big deal out of it?” I whined.

“Going out to brunch is not making a big deal out of it.” She replied. I sighed.

“Yes, I suppose that'd be fun...” I agreed.

“Great! I'll pick you up a little before 11, food is on me.” She huffed out a small laugh.

“I'll see you tomorrow Kate. Bye.” I said.

“Goodbye almost-birthday girl.” She teased, then hung up. She was a good friend, I thanked the universe for her every day. I mulled over our conversation for the next few hours. People at work got irritated with me because I was distracted, but I really didn't care. 

I should call Harry... Tonight, it would be good for both of us. It's my birthday tomorrow, I shouldn't be distracted and worried on my birthday. And I really didn't want Harry to suffer any longer. His broken eyes were still vivid in my mind, it caused a fresh pang of guilt and pain whenever I thought about it; which was a lot...

I dialed Harry's number as I sat on my bed in my pajamas. 

"Ariel?" He breathed, his voice was both surprised and relieved.

"Hi, uh, Harry. I just wanted to call... just 'cause..." I muttered awkwardly. 

"I'm okay Ariel." He said, his words were heavy. They pulled at my heart.

"That's good... So, er, are we still on for that movie Friday?" I asked, quiet, shy... Weird...

"Definitely." He said kindly, dare I say, lovingly... 

"Great, I'll see you then." I smiled, relieved. 

"Bye Ariel." He replied. 

"Bye." I answered, and then I heard him hang up. That could have gone worse...

I fell asleep that night a lot easier than I expected I would, slipping into an exhausted, dreamless sleep. Instead of my alarm waking me up in the morning it was my ringtone that did.

 “Hello?” I answered, not remembering to check the caller ID.

“Good morning sleepy head.” My favorite raspy voice chuckled. He sounded happy

“Hey curly what's up?” I asked.

“I just wanted to call and wish you a very happy 19th birthday.” He replied. He'd be correct, today was the big day... But the question was, how did Harry find out?! 

“How do you know?” I groaned.

“Kate told me, what's the matter with me knowing when your birthday is?” He asked.

“I just don't like to make a big deal about things like this... Don't you dare get me a present.” I warned.

“Alright, whatever you say birthday girl.” He joked.

“Thank you.” I sighed in relief. He wasn't going to get me anything, my worries were gone.

“Kate and I agreed that she got you before your shift, I was wondering if you'd like me to pick you up afterward?” He suggested.

“I'd like that very much, now I need to get ready for brunch and you need to record some songs.” I chuckled.

“That is correct, speaking of the lads they all wish you a very happy birthday as well.” He said.

“Tell them I say thanks. I'll see you later.” I sighed.

“Bye sweetie.” He said, and I hung up. I hummed as I got ready, and while I waited for Kate. She came at around 11, like she said.

“You seem alright.” She commented as we pulled into the parking lot of a nice little place. Pasta and Pizza. Yum.

“Why wouldn't I be?” I asked.

“You were just kinda... off yesterday, I'm glad you're happy again.” She shrugged, turning off her car and getting out. I followed her into the cute little restaurant.

“Reservation for Ariel.” Kate said to the man up front.

“Right this way ladies.” He smiled, his eyes lingering on Kate. He was probably in his early 20's... And really cute. Kate winked at me as he led us to our table. I muffled a laugh.

“I'm Mark, and I'll be your waiter on this fine day. I'll be back to take your orders in a minute.” He said kindly, then left Kate and I to ourselves. The restaurant was nearly empty.

“You gonna slip him your number?” I muttered.

“Hell yes.” Kate grinned. I laughed, not surprised.

“You wanna be the maid of honor at our wedding?” She joked.

“I'd be honored- pun intended.” I did a little bow in my seat, laughing. Kate giggled along as Mark returned.

“Can I start you two lovely ladies out with something to drink?” He questioned.

“Coke.” I ordered.

“Same.” Kate smiled warmly, maybe too warmly...

“Two cokes, coming up. Do you need another minute to decide on food?” Mark asked.

“Yes, please.” I answered.

“Okay, I'll be back.” He grinned, then left once again.

“He's Australian.” Kate commented.

“I noticed that, sexy.” I laughed. Australian accents were nice, really nice...

“Very... So what are you thinking about for food?” She asked.

“The chicken alfredo looks good.... But so does the mushroom ravioli...” I mused, “How about you?” 

“I think I'm gonna get a personal pizza. Hawaiian style.” Kate answered.

“I've never understood people who put fruit on their pizzas.” I said, scrunching up my nose.

“Me neither.” She laughed. I chuckled. Mark then returned with our drinks.

“Are my two beautiful girls ready to order?” He asked. Ha! I know his tricks, trying to get a big tip, huh buddy? I'll definitely tip well, I know what the job's like. The tips make all the difference.

“Yes, I believe we are.” Kate answered, snapping her menu shut and smirking up at Mark. I rolled my eyes as she held his gaze. When he finally snapped out of it he shook his head as he got out his pen and notepad. His eyes found me, waiting for my order.

“The mushroom ravioli.” I said. He scribbled it down quickly, then turned to Kate.

“The Hawaiian style personal pizza.” Kate smiled. We each handed him our menus.

“Thank you, I'll be out with that soon.” He smiled, disappearing.

“I'm in love.” Kate sighed. I laughed. Me too, I almost said, but I stopped myself. I sighed absentmindedly, stirring my straw around in my cup and propping my head up with my elbow on the table.

“Wow. You're in deep aren't you?” Kate teased.

“I think I should just start letting myself enjoy the fall...” I mumbled. Then it will be your own fault when you get hurt, won't it? I was such a fucking idiot...

“I think you should tell Harry.” She smiled kindly.

“Tonight?" My entire body tensed at her words.

"Yeah." She nodded.

"I'll think about it." I sighed once again. The more I thought about it the more it sounded like a good idea...

 We chatted until our food came, laughing and joking. Jumping from topic to topic. When Mark arrived with our food, my hand flew to my mouth to muffle my hysterical laughter. 'Call Me' was written in pineapple on Kate's pizza, while Mark's number was written on a napkin he gave her. Kate looked delighted.

“Do you have some coins?” She asked when we were done eating and had paid.

“I have a little pouch of Euros...” I answered, grabbing it from my purse and giving it to her. She spelled out 'I will' across the table in 1 Euro coins. That was quite the tip... Almost more than the bill. He'd have to spend it in Germany or something though, haha. I shook my head as we left, laughing at her genius.

“That was fun Kate. Thank you.” I smiled.

“My pleasure. Happy birthday.” She grinned. She drove me to work, a little early so that I could change into my uniform.

“Before you leave, here.” She smirked, handing me a small box.

“Dammit Kate this better not be a fucking present.” I narrowed my eyes at her.

“Get out of my car.” She grinned, knowing she was in trouble. I groaned.

“I hope you like it, have fun with Harry tonight.” She called before I shut the passenger side door.

“Thank you Kate, truly.” I said softly, bending down to look into her car.

“No problem. You're my friend. I care about you.” She replied.

“I'm gonna go into work before I cry.” I laughed quietly, closing her car door then jogging into the restaurant. I changed quickly in the bathroom, running late. I didn't open my gift, but I put it in my purse and didn't let it leave my side all night. I had my purse strapped across my body. I was distracted during my shift, not taking the time to flirt with my male customers. Except, of course, my last table of the day, where Harry sat.

My heart almost jumped out of my chest when I saw him sitting there, and talking to him again, even just to take his order made me tense and guilty all over again. He didn't look sad. He grinned at me like normal, and there were no longer dark circles under his eyes; so he was sleeping well... I tried so hard to read the emotions in his expressions, and I only saw the smallest flash of strain when we first made eye contact. But then that went away, and stayed away for the rest of the time I was with him...

After I brought him his two cups of tea he invited me to sit down. I did so, taking a deep breath because I was already tired. He pushed a cup toward me.

“How'd you know?” I asked. He'd ordered me my favorite.

“I have my resources.” He smirked.

“Kate...” I grinned.

“So how's the recording coming?” I asked, truly curious. His job was pretty amazing. I wished I could sing...

“Really good. The lads and I have worked on writing a little bit, but mostly recording. We wrote most of the songs that were picked for the album earlier in the year. We're really proud so far, I think it will even be better than the first two.” He smiled. I could tell, by the look on his face that he adored what he did. And from what I've heard he's good at it too.

“I'll have to go out and buy those...” I mused. I wanted to listen to them, be a part of this incredible thing that he enjoyed so much.

“You don't have to do that....” He insisted, but there was a hopeful glint in his eye.

“I know. But I want to.” I replied, taking a drink of my delicious tea.

“Okay, that's good- Uh... Is that your boss?” He asked, pointing to behind me. I turned around only to see the short, plump, bearded man- who was in fact my boss- walk out to the counter. I jumped out of the chair I was in, then proceeded to smile at Harry like he was nothing more than a customer.

“Thank you sir. Enjoy.” I said loud enough so that Mr. Levi could hear. Then in a hushed tone I added; “I'll be right back out my shift is over now.” Harry nodded, laughing at my silliness. I hurried behind the counter and to the employees room to get my clothes and change back into them. I carried my uniform over my arm on my way back to Harry. He checked his watch as I sat down. He looked nervous for a second, but then recovered. Shit, he wasn't nervous because of me was he?? Maybe seeing me again was making him sad. Maybe he was just really good at hiding it...

“I liked being called 'sir'.” He teased, distracting me from my panic.

“I wouldn't get used to it.” I snickered. He laughed, I was off work, no need to be polite. We each finished our tea, making small talk.

“Your tip.” He grinned, laying a 50 pound note on the table as he stood up.

“I don't think so, pretty boy.” I shook my head, holding the bill out to him. He didn't take it, he just ran away, out of the building. Like an actual, super-dorky get-away. 

I laughed, weirdo... I jogged after him, not giving up on getting his bill back but also deciding to wait it out. I stuck the note in my pocket, getting into the passenger seat of his car when he opened the door for me.

I opened Kate's present quickly as we drove, chuckling down at it. A cute pair of fake diamond studs, and a Harry Styles bobble head. I put the items back in the box and then put that into my purse again. Harry was going to eat that up...

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