Benny watches Kevin's expression go from attentive to regretful to understanding, but when benny tells him he's what makes his life so great, Kevin's face rearranges itself into a portrait of happiness and confusion.
To be frank, Benny doesn't quite understand why this is. After all, Kevin is amazing, and for as long as Benny has known him, Kevin has seemed to know it.
Shaking his head as though to clear the confusion from his face, Benny asks bluntly, "What?"
Kevin shoots a surprised look at the cup in front of him but when he replies, he meets Benny's eyes briefly. "I don't deserve that."
Benny's eyebrows draw together and Kevin raises an eyebrow as though expecting Benny to realize he's being ridiculous. "What have I given you other than a crappy job?"
Benny squashes the exasperation that's probably written as clearly on his face as fresh ink. "Oh my god- OK, so first of all, that job was not crappy. It was fun and it gave me a sense of… uh, family?" Benny rushes on before Kevin can object, shoot him down, again, already regretting saying it. "And second of all, hope. You gave me hope. Inspired me. You are prosperous and good and live that way."
Kevin just blinks. Not because he's crying. Not at all. Then he wipes his eyes. Not because he's crying.
Benny clears his throat. "You're crying."
Kevin shakes his head vigorously, feeling tears slide down his face softly. "You're amazing too, I hope you know that Benny…"
Benny doesn't blink or cry. He just stares. "I…" he looks utterly lost and the revelation is like lightning- he's never heard this from his father. He actually doesn't know that.
A pang flashes through his body. It hurts to know that Benny has never know how much he means, how much he is. For Benny to never even be told that he was worth something…
Well. Kevin is going to change that.
Benny doesn't know what to say. He's never heard someone tell him this and he doesn't really know how to respond.
He responds to Nina by kissing her, saying what he doesn't have words for with his lips, with his hands, with his eyes.
Kevin doesn't wait for a response, though he gives a pause. Instead, he extends his arms and Benny gratefully accepts the hug, though more than surprised that it's been offered.
"I guess I don't tell you enough. Or ever." Kevin admits, his voice ridden with guilt
It's true, but Benny doesn't want to be salty about it, so he only replies honestly, "Well, I know now."
Kevin's relieved chuckle seems to lighten the lamp lit room. He steps back and seems to weigh his words. "Do you consider him a father?"
Benny looks quickly at Kevin only to catch a carefully crafted emotionless mask. Kevin stares at the flickering flame of the lamp as though it is the greasy gears of a car in action. It doesn't matter though. Benny knows who Kevin's talking about. Anyone would.
What he doesn't know is the answer to his question. He lets the silence sit in the room like a heavy, thick cloud because silence is the best way to represent how he feels. He doesn't know and it doesn't matter because he can't choose anyway so he sits and accepts that like it or not, this is his father.
Kevin draws a breath, an action that is like holding a glass ball over a high height, and Benny waits for it to fall.
"He's not." Kevin declares decisively, punctuated by a loud exhalation. "He's a bitch and you deserve better. You shouldn't. Consider him a father, I mean."
Benny shrugs. Talking about family with the man he so desperately wishes is his father is confusing. "It's not like I can change him."
"You can change… who you honor with the title father. Someone who deserves it. Not like that asshole."
"You." Benny blurts out, the words tripping over his tongue and out of his mouth before he can rein them in and chastise them for being nothing but dreams.
He's been staring the flame too, and the flickering shadows and spots that move through the room. Now he ducks his head and stares at the floor. A speedy apology and a disclaimer are centimeters from flying off his suddenly dry tongue when Kevin speaks up.
"Me?" It's a murmur. A whisper. Utterly a question. But instead of mocking or confused, it's simply unmasked yearning. Or, at least, that's what Benny hears. He prays that his mind isn't softening Kevin's tone because Benny wants it to be soft. It probably is though.
Eventually, he musters the courage, feeding his flame of bravery with memories of Kevin's rare smile, his hugs and kindness today, his proud and earnest words.
Two words for two years of wishing. "Would you?"
They hang in the air for seconds before Kevin responds.
"I would be honored."
To say that Benny never imagined this would be a lie of horrific proportions, but it's safe to say that he never thought it would happen.
He never accounted for how he would feel either, and he can't tell past the euphoria of happiness until Kevin's warm fingers are brushing away his tears and Benny's arms find their way around Kevin, pulling him into a bone crushing hug.
"Father," he tries out, the words feeling like a new one in his mouth. In a way it is, because it means so much more than a genetic formality. It means love and hope and solidarity.
"Son," Kevin sounds like he's new to the word too, because it is probably new for him too. Not it means care and worth and strength.
But most importantly to both of them, it means family.