In the Heights is arguably the best musical ever. The only problem? It has next to no fanfiction! So I'm here to remedy that. BennyxNina fluff ahoy!
Disclaimer: I am not a self-proclaimed 'ugly songwriter who can't get girls to notice him.'
She tripped, landing ungracefully on the concrete and feeling the skin on her exposed knee tear. Resisting the urge to cry out, Nina felt tears well up in her eyes. She closed them for a moment, willing the tears to seep back from where they came. She couldn't start crying now, she just couldn't.
Someone stood on her hand as she tried to pick herself up, and she winced. Biting her tongue to stop the groan that was clawing at her throat, she stood, testing her knee to see if the wound would allow it to bend. Unable to examine it in the darkness, Nina bend over to feel the skin with her undamaged hand.
Her knee cried out in protest as gentle fingers brushed against it, and Nina recoiled from her own hand. She could feel the sticky liquid on her fingertips and impatiently wiped it on the hem of this ridiculous dress she never wore. Unfortunately, the darkness did not aid her in this endeavor either, and she missed the hem by a good three inches as she was accustomed to dresses that covered much more of her legs.
Nina was beginning to regret coming here in the first place.
As the colored lights from the fireworks began illuminating frightened faces to match her own, Nina felt the tears start coming. It had been one emotional blow after another today, and she had foolishly thought to try and make things better by coming to find Benny. She had thought that he would understand, that they could plead their case to her father together, but Benny had obviously had a little too much to drink tonight and had dismissed her rather rudely.
Nina could still smell the alcohol and the sweat from the club as she dwelled on this painful memory and forced her face to turn upwards to watch the next colorful explosion.
But her knee was not about to be ignored. As her leg straightened, the skin began screaming for attention once more. Nina allowed the grunt of pain to come from between teeth that were practically grinding together, bending down once more to try and figure out a way to tend to her scrape while being practically blind.
Her lips parted and Benny's name escaped her mouth in a desperate whisper before she was consciously aware of her sudden desire to find the man. She closed her eyes to the new tears that were coming, pinching her leg right above the scrape in an attempt to dull the pain.
"I can't do this alone," her voice was lost amidst all the terrified shouts still ringing through the air. Had Nina bellowed this to the sky, she was sure her voice would not have been heard. Deciding she had done all she could for her knee, Nina straightened up, biting her bottom lip as she felt her knee protest again.
She was completely disoriented by this time, not knowing left from right or east from west. Nothing was visible in this blackout, save for when the occasional firework would illuminate the street in a freakish-colored light. Even then Nina could not get her bearings. She was helplessly lost on her own street.
She doubted anyone had the faintest clue as to where they were going. The unfamiliar faces all looked confused as she caught quick glances of them before the light accompanying an explosion both died away. Her eyes wide and tear trails down her cheeks, Nina looked around blindly for someone – anyone – familiar. Benny, Usnavi, Vanessa, Carla… anyone.
Nina started as someone grabbed her right arm from behind and turned her around, sufficiently aggravating her knee further. Ignoring it, Nina raised her hands defensively, not about to get mugged or God-knows-what-else-ed by anyone. She let out a squeak as someone else bumped into her back and made her lose the unsteady stance she had, falling into the person that still held her arm. Praying that it was a friend, Nina almost melted when Benny's voice said into her hair, "Nina, there you are."
His breath was hot in her ear and Nina caught the faintest, lingering whiff of alcohol on it. Her nose wrinkled and a frown creased her brow; she was suddenly seized with anger at Benny for reasons she wasn't quite sure of, and Nina tugged her arm from his grip after righting herself.
"I've gotta go," she said coldly, turning from Benny with misplaced self-confidence in her own sense of direction. Her common sense was screaming at her to turn back and accept whatever help Benny was willing to offer, but Nina was listening to her pride now.
"I'll get you out of here tonight," Benny offered, and Nina felt his hand reaching out to search for her again. She turned slightly back to face him. She knew that Benny could not see what he was doing, but she still flinched as she felt his hand come perilously close to her chest.
"I don't need anything tonight," she argued back. "I can find my way home…"
She could hear Benny echoing her words, sarcasm laced in the syllables, "Then find your way home!"
"…without you," she finished, turning away from him and hating the way her voice was so pathetically weak and yet hoping Benny would notice too. "Without you…"
"Without you…" Benny repeated with her, his voice holding traces of the same despair. Nina turned back towards him, hope rising in her chest, only to find him gone when the next blast of fireworks illuminated the street.
Nina could feel this emotional blow hitting the bruise already paining her conscience, making the scrape to her knee look like a needle prick. She raised her face to the sky once more, trying to lose herself in the dazzling lights above.
Nina slowed her breathing, trying to calm herself. Her heart was thudding against her ribcage so hard she felt there must be a permanent imprint of it against her bones. Clenching and unclenching her fists, Nina realized that her palms had grown sweaty. She wiped them on the hem of her skirt, this time correctly reaching it before raising a hand to her now watery eyes.
Blurred vision just won't do, Nina tried to reason with herself. Just because the lights are out and nobody can see doesn't mean my eyes are useless.
But as the fireworks began to die down and darkness began creeping upon the street again, Nina knew that had she closed her eyes and walked around with her hands stretched in front of her, it would have made no difference. She simply could not see a thing.
"Benny," she whispered for the second time that evening. She swallowed the lump that had resided in her throat, a sob going down with it.
And suddenly, Benny was there.
Nina did not need any lights to tell her who the man now holding both her arms was. She could tell by the way his hands carefully guided her closer to him, never forcing her and never grabbing her. She knew it was him by his smell, by the heavy breaths that were all too familiar.
Look at the fireworks fly! Light up the night sky…
Nina did not obey the crowd's request and instead found her eyes closing as she felt Benny tentatively kiss the side of her mouth, just missing his target. She could have laughed at how blind and uncoordinated the darkness had made both of them, but Nina felt that now would not be an appropriate time for a laugh. Instead, she turned her face ever so slightly to aid Benny in his search.
Benny released both of Nina's arms, though his lips never released hers, and she soon found herself with his arms around her, pulling her closer. Nina mimicked his actions, her arms snaking around his neck. The two were completely lost in themselves, not hearing the crowd around them or the last of the fireworks' explosions as the finale began.
They were a tad too preoccupied by their own private show of fireworks to notice such distractions.