They all smell rank after football practice, sitting in the grass with the sun beating down on them, but somehow Niall always manages to reek the worst.
"Christ," Zayn mutters, laid out beside Niall with her eyes shut, covering her nose from the stench with the back of her hand. She has her sleeves rolled up her shoulders and her shorts tugged all the way to the top of her thighs, clearly hoping for a bit of a tan. "Ever heard of deodorant, Niall?"
Niall shrugs, unfazed by the comment as she lifts her arm and sniffs underneath her pit. "I reckon it's not too bad. The scent of victory and all that."
Harry scoffs and runs a hand through her wavy hair, pulled back by a white hairband that matches her kit. She squints at Niall in the sun. "That is the scent of dead rats lying in the gutter after a monsoon, more like."
"Oof," Niall says, amazed at the level of detail within the insult, adjusting her baseball cap. "Dead wet rats? You've been thinking of that one a while, haven't you?"
"Genuine, though," Liam cuts in, sitting on a bench across from them, tweeting on her phone. She meets Niall's eyes, a glint of sincerity in her own. "I've heard you can get some sort of surgery for that, to completely cut off your sweat glands or something of the sort."
"And then you start to sweat profusely from other odd areas, like your face," Louis offers dryly, her tone laced with annoyance, possibly because she's the only one who'd wanted to go to the pub and have a massively greasy meal instead of sit out here in the sun, 'enjoying the outdoors'. The least the useless lot of them could've done was join her for a Starbucks run.
(She sits on top of Harry's bag beneath the flimsy shade of a tree -- she'd refused to sit on her own bag, claiming the grass beneath was wet and the fabric would be dirtied. Harry had shrugged and passed off her bag to Louis, never one to make a fuss.)
"Oy, you idiots can stop sorting out my options, thanks very much. I'm not going to have surgery and I'm quite familiar with deodorant," Niall says absentmindedly, grabbing her shoulder bag and rifling through it, pulling out a container of spicy chicken and rice. "I'll just have a shower when I'm home."
"We've all heard that one before," Zayn says, and she sounds half-asleep now, the sun toasting her skin. If history tells them anything, she will be conked out in no time.
"Aw, you're still awake," Niall says around a mouthful of food. "New record for you. I was blown away you didn't fall asleep mid-play."
"Zayn, is it really necessary for you to tan after every practice?" Louis asks, throwing an empty water bottle at her.
Zayn opens her eyes just in time to shield herself from the flying object, blocking it with her arm. "Don't be a miserable twat just 'cause you haven't eaten. Or been eaten."
Niall snorts at that and Harry smirks in amusement, glancing over at Louis. Louis looks appalled, her lips parted in an overly dramatic display of shock at the accusation.
"She's right, though," Harry says. "You do get quite snappy when you haven't gotten off."
"Well, whose fault is that?" retorts Louis, giving Harry a glare.
"I'm sorry I was too busy smashing it on the field to respond to your every demand," Harry says, voice lazy and thick with a promise of impending sexual gratification. "I'll take care of you in the shower, promise."
"For God's sake," Liam interrupts swiftly, cheeks pink and not just from the sun. "Must you speak so loudly about your -- your -- "
"Sex life?" Harry asks, raising her eyebrow. She seamlessly taps into the part of her that's been absorbed in questionable American pop culture -- and an abundance of sociology textbooks she'd ordered online -- and says, "Liam, you can't stifle our expressions of sexuality; you've got to work on your internalized shame around sex. We're here and, quite frankly, we're very queer, so you'll just have to get used to it."
Niall and Zayn emit matching groans of dissatisfaction, knowing well the familiar direction the conversation is going in. Liam rolls her eyes. "We all know that much, it's just that the details of your... bedroom happenings could be kept a tad more private, is all."
"Who said anything about the bedroom?" Harry teases now, suddenly enjoying the way Liam is tripping over her words, her cheeks rosy and eyes big.
Louis chimes in with, "More so the kitchen counter... stairwell... toilet..."
"...and don't forget the change room yesterday," Harry adds. Liam gasps audibly.
"You didn't," Niall says with a face-splitting grin, highly amused by the prospect of it being true.
"What about security footage? They must have caught it!" Liam says in a panic, and of course that would be her first thought. "They'll kick you off the team, Hazza! Or even worse. They'll arrest you for --"
"Oh, for Christ's sake, Li," Harry interrupts, but it's more fond than anything. She pushes to her feet and walks over, sitting next to Liam on the bench and wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "Why must you get so wound up about everything? No one's going to get jailed for a little bit of change room sex."
Liam sighs, giving up entirely on trying to contain this conversation or shorten it; she's pretty sure she'd only made it worse by drawing attention to it, just like always.
And that's when Niall burps, the sound of it loud and drawn-out, seeming to last for an inhumane period of time. The smell of curried chicken wafts through the air and Zayn groans loudly, rolling away from Niall before pushing to her feet, huffing out a resigned sigh.
"Alright, then, let's go Lou," Zayn says, dusting the grass from the back of her shorts, watching the blades fall to the ground.
"To the pub?" Louis asks, eyes lighting up when Zayn nods. "Sick. I've been dying for a meal."
"Pints and grub," Niall says. "Sounds like good craic."
"You've just eaten," Zayn says, astounded.
"Just a snack," Niall says dismissively, having gone through the entire meal within a few minutes, tucking the container back into her bag and pushing to her feet. She pulls the bag over her shoulder and flips her cap so it sits backwards on her head. "Shall we?"
"We shall," says Harry. She gets to her feet with the rest of them and interlaces her hand with Liam's when she stands, keeping her close as they all start walking to the nearest road.
"Pub bathroom," Louis says out of nowhere, suddenly remembering the time she and Harry got irrevocably pissed and lost a pair of knickers in there without ever thinking to lock the door. "That was a good one."
Liam groans in despair and mutters, "I hate you all." Harry laughs heartily in response, pulling her in closer with a smile.