XXVI. Nonna

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"We'll miss you," Niall says, sitting across from me at the burger joint we were all at earlier this summer. I send him a sad smile, remaining quiet in my seat between Harry and Myra. My head leans against Harry's shoulder, my body fatigued in a way. His strong shoulder isn't a good place to rest my head, but just the fact it's him is fine with me.

"Yeah. I mean, who the fuck are we going to tease about being soft? Liam?" Louis scoffs, shaking his head. "No way. That's too easy." My grin widens in amusement as the table noticeably agrees.

In return, Liam sighs and rolls his eyes when he focused his glance in Louis's direction. He then turns to me, soft, calm, and kind voice insisting, "We will miss you, Alexis. You were great to be around."

"You, too, Liam. I'll miss all of you guys, really," I assure, certain that nothing will be truer than that statement. Of course, other than the fact that I will miss someone else at this table a lot more than the rest. But, I choose not to think about it right now.

"You know, this might've been one of the best summers I've had. Not just because of Alexis, but because it genuinely was pretty amazing," Liam says, voice mindful and thoughtful.

Zayn, who hadn't been saying much, interjects, "There are only so many summers that will be like this one. Soon enough, we'll be senior citizens with countless hip replacements."

"Jesus, don't talk about aging. It's terrible for my stress," Myra exasperates amusingly.

"Doesn't stress cause fast aging?" Zayn asks, thick, dark eyebrows furrowing in deep thought, hazel eyes focused on the fizzling of his beverage. He sips on his straw, seeming concentrated on his cup than anything else.

"I don't fucking know," Myra remarks with a shrug, reaching over to the middle of the table where we have fries and wings arranged from barbecue to buffalo to sweet. She grabs a seasoned fry, quickly smacking away Niall's intrusive hand with a warning glance before he can take any from her plate.

My hand reaches onto Harry's lap, where his hands rest folded together. He hasn't said much at all, but I'm sure it deals with the reality of my departure. What it really means. And I've been avoiding it. However, my small hand, in comparison to his, slips between his joined hands, and I grab one to hold. I feel him lean back into his seat on the booth, hearing him sigh to himself.

Nobody says anything else for a while.

"We should do something...one last time. Before Alexis has to go," Louis suggests.

"Like what? Wanna...steal a car? Try some drugs? Sacrifice our most treasured belongings so we can sell our souls to the Devil for money and fame in return?" Myra surveys us, glancing across the now silenced, and slightly confused table.

"Uh..no?" Louis isn't even sure of himself, but he stares at her for a couple of seconds before we move on from her odd suggestions. "Let's put her name on the tree by the woods."

"A tree? Sounds like this is an initiation to a cult. Sounds fun," I joke.

Louis is stolid, unfazed, and not amused whatsoever. "Who told her about the cult, guys?!" He suddenly plays along, rolling his eyes. "But honestly, can I be taken seriously right now? Or is that too hard?"

"We're sorry," Niall laughs. "Your seriousness and actual sense of maturity only comes up on rare occasions. So it's hard to differentiate."

"Why did you sound like your vocabulary is actually quite astonishingly large for the brain of a Niall?" Liam asks him. "You usually sound like you're an uneducated twat."

"Shut up, I'm educated!"

"Nah, you're pretty stupid," Liam continues, the table watching their back and forth.

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