Benny still remembers The Day.
The Day he decided to leave.
The Day he knew that a future without a higher education and without his father was better than a life with both of them.
The Day when he understood the package wasn't worth it.
The Day he started himself over. Built himself again. He told himself it was a New Day, a New Life. And a New Him. And it is. Mostly. He decided he'd never go back and he hasn't.
His mind doesn't either, mostly. Mostly hye keeps himself in life two. He rarely thinks of his past life anymore.
But he still remembers The Day.
He is still afraid. What if he grows up to be like his father? It scares him a lot now, it had ever since that night at the club. The similarities were horrifying.
He got so drunk, he almost slurred his words.
He started a goddamn fistfight!
He let his hurt out by drinking and by verbally wounding people who didn't deserve it.
He smiles now, thinking of Nina. Sweet, beautiful, proud, kind, and so, so smart. He knows how lucky he is that Nina likes him back. He knows he doesn't deserve her. He knows her happiness is literally the most important thing in the universe.
She understood. That he was sorry, that he didn't mean it. She understood that he understood that he made a mistake.
Nobody thought much of him, really. They thought he was just this black guy in the Latin neighborhood. Who hung out with Usnavi. When he got drunk, insulted his girl and got into a fight no one blinked an eye except the few who knew him. He flips through his newspaper, reading another shooting. Another unarmed black man shot. They probably shrugged and said it's what black people do.
Which really isn't true. But at least no one blamed it on his father. No one needs to know about his father.
He hasn't even told Nina. Even though she wouldn't care. Even though she would understand that a person shouldn't be judged by their parents, but by themselves. Even though she wouldn't tell Kevin unless
Benny okayed it.
He was a whole other thing. Benny has tried his whole second life to impress Kevin. To get approval from kevin. To be accepted by kevin. He just wants to be told he's worth something.
He knows he is, he just needs to hear it. Hey, benny, you're not a waste of space. Really, was it so hard to say? He smiles as he reads about the protest the killing sparked.
Benny figured, no, it wasn't, especially when Kevin made his day- no year- well, his whole life, first and second by telling him he was family.
To finally be part of a family. It was heaven for the approximately 24 hours… until he found out it was a fucking lie. His smile fades remembering this. He can't stop thinking about it!
Kevin didn't value him more than is job, more than is shitty attempts at Spanish.
Without Camila, Benny wouldn't even be allowed to keep seeing Nina, to even smile at the love of his life.
At this point, Benny figures Kevin's family is very different from Kevin.
Kevin's standards are higher. His principles are set in stone. For a smile, you have to earn it, unless you're Nina.
Nina still feels his pressure to be perfect, but Benny thinks that's so much better than for Kevin to not even expect you to exceed, to do well.
At this point, Benny knows that Kevin doesn't put expectation on his shoulders because kevin doesn't expect him to succeed. He doesn't think Benny can.
Benny's response to this is a fire of determination, to prove him wrong, to earn Nina, to deserve her, show his father, to earn
Kevin's approval. To deserve his approval.
But at this point, Benny also has a tiny voice of doubt that agrees with kevin.
He may be successful, and independant and run his own business. Benny pulls out his wallet and marvels at its thickness as he mindlessly teases Usnavi about that second date as he counts out change for the newspaper.
He may be richer. But at this point, Benny thinks maybe he'll never be enough.
At this point, deep down, Benny has given up.
Kevin blinks his eyes. Why do they keep closing? Why is he so tired at this time of day? He feels likes something is missing but why would that make him tired?
"Aye, you look terrible!" his wife exclaims. "Where's your coffee?"
Ah, that's it. His coffee. He hasn't gotten his coffee yet. Benny hasn't- well, Benny doesn't work for him anymore. That's what's missing.
"I haven't gone to get it yet." kevin mumbles, reluctant to admit how used to being catered to he's become.
Camila reads right through him. "Ha, you've forgotten. Serves you right. Never know you love him 'till you let him go, si?" She shakes a finger at household as he looks back at his work.
"Camila," he says warningly.
She nudges his shoulder. "You never knew how good he was for you, mmm? He thought you were the best."
"He had terrible Spanish." Kevin knows how good Benny was to him. He loved Benny like a son. He still does. But he can't tell anyone that.
What if he told Benny? Benny might take advantage of that. Get money out of Kevin, or people could see Kevin had a soft spot and weasel money out of him. Kevin likes his money. He keeps a gruff exterior so people can't persuade him to give them more than they deserve. Kevin has to pay for Nina's college.
He will not fail to be a father, not like his father. He'll do whatever it takes he'll make a million mistakes, he'll make the world safe and sound for her.
Which means he absolutely cannot go up to Benny and tell him how great he is and that he misses him and that he's such a good worker. He can't tell him that deep down, he's glad Camila forced him to give Nina up because if he didn't have to be uptight he would have given his blessing in an instant.
"But he tried so hard to learn!" Camila refutes, echoing exactly what Kevin already tries to forget.
Maybe, if he forgets Benny, he will stop feeling guilty about he treated him. Maybe if they both forget, those will be no need to forgive.