Marzipan hadn't slept well. They weren't actually sure if they'd slept at all. Their mind had been an anxious mess of jumbled thoughts, which they couldn't seem to settle down no matter how long they'd laid in bed. So when their phone rang at sometime in the very early morning, Marzipan was less than pleased.
"Ehhhh?" they grumbled incoherently into the phone.
"Get the fuck up, loser." A voice yelled from the other end. Marzipan quickly pulled the phone away from their ear at the sudden increase in volume. They took a moment to check the caller ID, since they were still too groggy to discern the voice on the other end of the line properly.
"What the hell, Nico?" Marzipan flopped onto their back, still exhausted. Now that they were awake, their mind was abuzz, and they knew they wouldn't easily get back to sleep again.
"I'm outside. Get your ass out here." Marzipan heard the distinct honking of a car horn, and knew it was Nico confirming that she spoke the truth.
"ARGH!" Marzipan groaned, hanging up the phone and rolling off of their bed onto the floor. They laid there for a minute, debating whether they should actually get up or just spend the day face down on the carpet. Nico honked again, this time a long, drawn out sound. Marzipan really didn't want to piss off their neighbors, mainly because they didn't want a confrontation with them at – what time even was it?
They glanced at the phone lying on the floor as they slipped on pants. It was barely 6am. What the fuck was Nico even doing up at this hour?
Marzipan briefly considered brushing their teeth, but they didn't want to keep Nico waiting any longer, fearful that she'd lay into the horn again and actually wake a neighbor up. When they walked outside, Nico was leaning against her car, her signature 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback. She'd gotten bored of waiting inside, and was smoking a cigarette. She flicked it to the ground and crushed it under her heel when she saw Marzipan.
They flung open the car door and flumped down on the passenger seat. "Fuck you." Marzipan grumply put their feet up on the dashboard. "What are you doing here?" they sighed as Nico started the engine.
"Wanted to see if you made it through another day." she had one hand on the steering wheel and one hanging out the window, her usual driving position.
At her answer, Marzipan looked over in surprise. They knew Nico cared, a bit. But they hadn't pegged her as caring enough to come check on them right after the previous morning's confession. They'd pegged her as the type to hear it through the grape vine and then get on with her life. Like it'd be no big deal to Nico if they just disappeared. While they were thinking, Nico lit another cancer stick.
"What if I hadn't?" Marzipan pretended to look out the front window, but was side-eyeing Nico for an emotional response.
Nico took a long drag off of her cigarette. The car paused at a stop light, and she blew the smoke out her window. It didn't really help, her car still always faintly smelled of tobacco and whatever other chemical mixture manufacturers stuffed into those things.
"Then you wouldn't have picked up your phone." she said, stoic as always, staring out at the road ahead and the still red traffic light.
Marzipan turned again to Nico, squinting their eyes, trying to get an idea of what Nico was thinking. Her eyes were focused on the road, and she blinked slowly, ever an unreadable book. Took a hit of her cigarette as she pressed the gas pedal to move through the intersection. What the fuck was going on inside her head?
Marzipan sighed, resting their chin on their hand and staring out their own window. Silence permeated the car as the pair drove. Marzipan considered switching on the radio, since Nico never minded. But they were hoping that Nico would give more insight into their train of thought, and exactly why she felt like showing up ass early in the morning.
"When did you sleep?" They asked, trying to break the silence. Trying to get Nico to open up. She always seemed to have some kind of advice applicable to whatever Marzipan was struggling with at the time, but at the moment she was tight lipped and silent.
"I didn't." Nico replied swiftly, her gaze not leaving the road ahead.
Marzipan had always known Nico to do as she pleased. Her life seemed so carefree. She could smoke, and drink and party and drive anywhere. Her personality was magnetic, she'd always appeared to be good at making new friends and fitting in. And yet, with all the possibilities of her life laid out before her, she chose to spend time with Marzipan. They could never understand that. They were just some loser nerd and Nico, Nico was charismatic, likeable, free spirited. Nico could have chosen to be anyone. She had it all figured out. And apparently didn't need to sleep for more than 24 hours.
"Where are we going?" The question finally occurred to Marzipan. Usually they didn't care, but Nico had to have some semblance of a plan if it meant picking them up at the ungodly hour of six in the morning, just 24 hours after their talk.
"Denny's." she flicked her finished cigarette out her window.
"I'm not even hungry." Marzipan replied flatly, their eyes not leaving the many buildings and palm trees they passed, backlit by a multi-colored sunrise. Arizona had a sunrise that could inspire a person every single day. One that was always different, always changing, always beautiful. But one also had to be awake to appreciate it. Which Marzipan usually wasn't. And today they weren't feeling very inspired.
"Everybody is always hungry for Denny's, whether they know it or not." Nico finally cracked a smile as she pulled into the parking lot of the intended destination. She exited the vehicle, but Marzipan took a few extra minutes to pout in the passenger's seat, refusing to look at Nico while she waited outside the vehicle for them.
Finally they got out with a huff, shouting over the top of the car. "You know not sleeping is bad for you."
Nico waited for Marzipan to catch up to her side before she replied, "So is dying." She walked off, leaving Marzipan to try to think of a comeback. Nico's statement was an obvious reference to the previous morning's confession.
Upon reaching the entrance, Nico held the door open for her friend, attempting to hurry them along. Marzipan sighed and walked after, trying not to be completely rude by making Nico wait. "You're the one who's going to kill yourself with all that smoking!" they spluttered, unable to think of anything better to retort.
"Wow, somebody's grumpy." Nico grinned, merely amused by Marzipan's weak counter.
"Yeah, it's like someone woke me up at 6am and dragged me out of my house." They punctuated the statement with the childish gesture of sticking out their tongue. Nico pretended not to notice.
"I did not drag you." she replied as they were seated. "You came outside and got in my car all on your own." she flipped open a menu and acted as if there wasn't palpable tension between the two of them.
Marzipan paused as they tried to think of something spiteful to say, but decided they were too tired to continue being mock angry with Nico. Mostly they were curious about her unannounced appearance at their house, her lack of sleep, and her choice of Denny's. "So what is this about?" They finally asked, when it seemed that Nico was done studying her menu.
"Just checking in on you, like I said." Nico looked in the direction of the waitress, hoping to get her attention so they could order.
"And checking in required driving to my house and waking up my neighbors so we could go to Denny's?" Marzipan replied, her words dripping with sarcasm.
"Yep." Nico said, smug as ever. Marzipan didn't have the opportunity to respond as the waitress appeared.
Once food was ordered, Marzipan tapped their fingers subconsciously on the table.
Nico, after watching the waitress leave, turned back to Marzipan. "What would you rate her?" she jerked a thumb in the direction the employee had gone.
"I don't- I don't know!" They stammered. "I wasn't really looking? Because I'm not interested?" But they turned to look in the direction Nico had indicated, anyway, hoping to catch a glimpse of the woman Nico seemed to be interested in.
"I'd say a solid 7.5." Nico glossed over her friend's noncommittal response.
"So you brought me here so you could check our chicks?" Marzipan's grumpiness from lack of sleep was manifesting itself in her very snide sarcastic tone. Plus, the fact that Nico hadn't really explained why the two of them being here in the first place was necessary at all.
"Well, this is the Gay Denny's, is it not?" Nico simply shrugged.
But the statement was true. Down in Phoenix, Arizona, on 7th street, a single palm tree grows outside a Denny's that's been around for more than 50 years. Somewhere along the line it had gotten the nickname of "Gay Denny's", and it was a favorite hangout spot for Nico and Marzipan.
"Alright, so I didn't bring you here just for the food." Nico finally relented. Marzipan crossed their arms and leaned back in the booth, hoping they'd be satisfied with the answer. "I was worried about you." Nico rolled her eyes, crossing her own arms and looking away, as if she hated to admit that fact.
Marzipan stared at their friend, confused and surprised by the real reason they were here. Nico didn't care about anything, she was always so nonchalant and 'go with the flow'. Nothing in life had ever bothered her that Marzipan had seen, and yet here she was displaying some semblance of an emotion.
"I thought you said you wouldn't care if I-" Marzipan knew they both knew the end of their statement, so they let the sentence hang in the air, unfinished.
Nico placed both hands on the table and let out a sigh. "I never said that. I have never said that I did not care about you. What I did say is that I wouldn't blame you. I did not say I wouldn't care."
Marzipan took time to process this information. They couldn't recall a time Nico had ever specifically expressed any sort of concern for their well-being. Sure, it was probably a given that Nico cared and actually gave a shit about them, but it was another thing to actually hear it said. She wasn't one for showing off feelings, so she must have felt really strongly.
Silence lingered between them, until Nico decided to continue. "In fact, I was worried about you all day. I couldn't even sleep last night because I was scared. I was afraid of losing my friend."
Though Nico had said she cared, Marzipan still had trouble really believing it. Not because this was outside of Nico's regularly behaviour, but simply because in general they had a hard time believing anything good or nice about themselves. "You can make new frien-"
"I can't make friends with anybody that is YOU." Nico interrupted. "YOU are the only YOU there is, Marz. I can make more friends, sure. I can make hundreds of friends. But I can't make another Marzipan. And maybe it's selfish of me, but, I don't want to lose you. Especially not to something as stupid as you hurting yourself." Nico cleared her throat. Took a sip of water.
Marzipan didn't know what to say. They hadn't really thought about how they felt about Nico. Sure, they were friends, but… what did Nico really, truly mean to them? Deep down, what did they feel about her? Here Nico was, pouring her heart out about how much she cared, and they couldn't be sure if they could even return the feeling.
Nico sighed again, swallowing a lump in her throat before she continued. "Maybe I don't say it enough, Marz. Shit, I know I don't. I know I'm supposed to be this rock solid person, some pillar of strength. I know I'm good at that. What I'm not good at is expressing how I feel about you. And maybe I haven't said it enough, hell, maybe I've never said it. But I care about you. I thought you knew. Maybe you didn't before. And that's my fault. For never saying it."
They thought about everything Nico had said, trying to piece together an equally emotional response. "That's some real mushy stuff, Nico." Was the only reply that Marzipan could form.
But Nico grinned, all the same, despite Marzipan seeming to brush off her heartfelt confession. She grabbed their hand from across the table, sandwiching it between both of hers and looking Marzipan dead in the eyes. "I know life is tough. It might not ever get easier, for either of us. But I know that I always want to be there for you. And no matter if our paths split, I'll still always care for and worry about you. I need you to know that I'll always be here for you. I know there are so many things I should say. I've said a lot today that I should have told you before. I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't told you how much you mean to me. I'm sorry you thought I didn't care." She intertwined her and Marzipan's fingers, holding their hand across the table.
"Yeah well..." They stared down at the meshed hands on the table. "Thanks."
Nico wasn't disappointed with their response, or lack thereof. It was pretty much as she had expected.
The food came and they ate in silence. Nico, basking in the relief of finally getting the words off her chest that had been churning inside her all day and night. Marzipan, still pondering everything that they'd been told. It was hard for them to believe, even coming from Nico, that anybody would miss them. And yet, hearing it seemed to mean more than simply knowing it. Although now they could say that nobody cared because someone had actually explicitly said that they did. That thought would stick around for awhile.
Maybe it'd be worth it to stick things out. At least for now.