Chapter 1: It's always Zoe
Evan Hansen stood trembling and staring at the boy in front of him. Conner Murphy had his therapy letter. Panic was beginning to set in, he was past the point of deep breaths. Only one thought was going through his mind.
I need that letter back
I need that letter back
I need that letter back
But for all the panic and dread about Connor reading his letter, Evan couldn’t will himself to just walk up and snatch it out of the taller boy’s hands. Instead, he stood, frozen, watching as Connor’s bright blue eyes flitted across the page. Evan expected some angry outburst, he did talk about Zoe in the letter and Connor seemed like the type that would be protective of his sister. Sure enough, Connor stopped half way through. Evan pressed his eyes shut and pulled his arms up to his chest, trying to shield himself in some way. But no attack came.
Slowly, Evan opened his eyes. He was more than shocked to see that Connor wasn’t angry at all, he was crying.
“Wa-what’s wrong, “ Connor turned to him, Evan had been terribly mistaken, he was definitely angry.
“It’s always Zoe isn’t it?” Connor’s aggressive tone made Evan flinch away slightly.
“What d-do y-you mean?” Evan inquired. Connor’s statement made no sense. What was alway Zoe? Why was he so personally offended at Evan’s crush on his sister?
“You know Hansen. Everyone knows, why do you think they hate me?” The answer to that was obvious in Evan’s mind. Connor was known for being aggressive and even violent. People were afraid of him, but that didn’t answer any of Evan’s questions.
“I still don’t get it. What do you mean?” Evan was slightly relaxed now. It was clear Connor wasn’t going to hurt him. Either way, Connor didn’t really make Evan all that nervous. Sure Connor had shoved him down just this morning. But there was something about him that Evan related to, something he couldn’t see, just feel.
“Of course you don’t know,” Connor threw his hands up in frustration then ran his fingers through his hair. He started to pace and ramble, “The only person I actually wouldn’t mind knowing doesn’t know. Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe you don’t need to know. This is a sign that I should just get over it. It’s stupid anyway. I can’t believe you don’t know,”
Evan didn’t know what was going on but he knew he had to get Connor to stop pacing. So he reached out and grabbed ahold of Connor’s arm. Evan felt a strange sort of spark and warmth creep up his arm from the point where they were connected. It forced Evan to pull his hand back then look at it slightly confused, but still it got Connor to stop pacing. Connor turned to Evan slowly and Evan became less sure that Connor wouldn’t hit him.
“What the hell do you want kid?” This sudden outburst of aggression confused Evan, especially since it seemed like Connor had been addressing him the whole time. Evan took a step back and Connor’s expression softened slightly.
“I’m sorry Hansen, there’s just a lot going on in my head right now and I can’t make sense of any of it.”
Now that was a feeling Evan could understand all too well. He was suddenly gripped by an overwhelming urge to help the boy in front of him, to do something, anything to ease the pain, “What can I do to help?”
Connor laughed, it was sort of a bitter but hollow laugh. A laugh that resonated with Evan, he could feel Connor’s hate for the world, a world that had always hated him. Evan thought Connor needed a hug. “You can’t do a single f-ing thing Hansen. But you’re also the only person that could do anything.” Connor’s voice had turned sad and desperate, “Evan, please?”
Evan walked a little closer to the taller teen, “What, what do you need me to do Connor?” When Evan said Connor’s name, he saw Connor shudder almost undetectably.
“Please just give me the time of day, or something. I don’t f-ing know,”
“Do you want to go out hiking this weekend?” Evan blurted this out before thinking about it. The only place he felt comfortable was with the trees, so he just invited Connor Murphy to go hiking with him. He didn’t know what else to do so he just panicked. But his poorly thought out invitation seemed to be exactly what Connor needed. He turned to Evan with what looked like a smile or at least as close to a smile that Connor Murphy got.
“When do you want me to come by?” Wow, straight to details. Connor didn’t even say he wanted to go but Evan was forced to assume that his response was a yes.
“Um I guess that like maybe eight or something will work, it’s best to hike in the morning. B-but if t-that’s too early for you we could do another time maybe or something- sorry”
Connor actually smiled at this point, “That’s too early for most people,” Evan began to bring his hands up and started to apologize before Connor moved on, “But for you, it’s just the right time,”
And with that, the infamous Connor Murphy turned on his heels and left the library with what looked to be a smile on his face. Evan was left gasping slightly and trying to process what happened.
Chapter 2: When he smiles
Let the children climb trees
Connor began to pace back and forth at the mouth of the path. He was exactly where he and Evan had agreed to meet up, but Evan wasn’t. Why on earth had he thought that Evan would, could ever actually care about him. Yesterday the anxious boy had probably just wanted Connor to stop crying, and now he was too scared to even show up. Just as angry doubts began to pound all sense of reason from Connor’s mind, he heard a slight crunching of dirt and gravel. Connor swiveled and almost came face to face with a very very anxious looking Evan Hansen.
“I-I’m so sorry. I just slept in and then my mom started talking to me and she didn’t believe that I was meeting a friend and she doesn’t want me going to the woods by myself after what happened and I’m sorry,” Evan began to pant slightly. It was clear he had run from wherever he had come from. Now that Connor thought about it, he had never seen Evan drive a car.
“Hansen,” Connor flinched slightly at the harshness of his own tone, Evan looked like he was about to cry, “Did you run here from your house?” Connor put in extra effort to make this softer and more gentle.
Evan took a big gulp of air, still trying to catch his breath, and nodded. Suddenly Connor felt anger bubble up in his chest. Not at Evan but at himself. He should have remembered that Evan couldn’t drive, he should have offered to take him. Evan evidently noticed Connor’s sudden flare in temper as he immediately began to apologize again.
“Calm down Hansen, I was just thinking maybe next time I’ll drive you.” Evan slowly began to calm down. He looked around at the trees and a small smile spread across his lips. Connor felt blood rush to his cheeks at the sight of Evan beaming in the green light of the forest.
Evan looked adorable. He was wearing a light blue polo made of a thin breathable fabric. For a second it made Connor regret his own heavy black attire. Evan’s hair was tousled and part of it was sticking to his forehead. There was a natural blush in Evan’s cheeks from the running, and it made him look even more innocent than he already did. Part of Connor thought that he was the luckiest person on earth. Then he remembered that he basically blackmailed Evan into spending time with him. Evan’s dark brown eyes flitted away from the trees to meet Connor’s for a split second, then he looked back at the ground.
“Umm… We should probably get started, it’s better to hike in the mornings because then the sun isn’t as bad and also it’s like cooler and the air is still kind of moist from morning dew and there’s a nice breeze. But the trees should keep us cool no matter what. The sun doesn’t shine through the leaves as well and it um it’s not as...sorry,”
“God Hansen, you apologize a lot,”
Evan opened his mouth, most likely to say sorry then seemed to think better of it. Connor internally smirked. How had he fallen so hard for this rambling mess?
It took almost an hour of hiking before Evan was comfortable enough to put together full sentences without too much rambling or stuttering. To Connor the heat and physical exertion and constant stumbling was completely worth it. Evan turned to smile at Connor slightly and Connor felt his knees grow weak.
“So this is, this is the same type of tree that I fell out of when I umm…” Evan lifted his cast slightly and Connor nodded. It still made his heart skip beats when he saw his name scrawled across Evan’s cast. In his mind that was his way of marking Evan as his. Which was slightly creepy and Connor immediately began to beat those thoughts back with a large stick.
“Do you wanna climb it?” Evan’s question was so childish it made Connor laugh, “I’m sorry, that’s a stupid question. I’m stupid. You can just go home if you want. You don’t have to stay with me anymore.”
Connor’s laugh stopped as quickly as it had begun. Evan had just voiced all of Connor’s fears. It was supposed to be Evan, not Connor that way pitying the other. Evan was supposed to be the sait putting up with “School Shooter Connor” not Connor putting up with adorable little Evan.
“I want to be here. I want to climb the tree with you, you just surprised me that’s all.” Evan looked up at Connor hopefully and Connor nodded encouragingly.
“You might want to leave that jacket down here or tie it to your waist. I don’t want you to overheat.” It made Connor’s heart race to here the Evan Hansen worrying about him. He smiled and obliged, first pulling off the jacket then tying it around his waist. He pulled a hair tie from one of his pockets and tied his hair behind his head. When he looked back down at Evan, he was surprised to see that Evan was staring at him with a mix of pity and understanding. Then Connor remembered his scars. With all that had been happening Connor had let himself forget about all of the bad stuff.
“Evan they’re-” Connor began to explain but Evan just waved his hand as if to say ‘it’s ok, you don’t need to tell me’. This was a great relief to Connor.
To Connor’s great disappointment the tree was very difficult to climb which meant that he couldn’t focus any of his attention on Evan. Every once-in-awhile Connor would stop and look up at Evan, who was alway several branches above him. Evan scrambled up the tree like a squirrel, even with the cast. Evan would stop and wait for Connor to catch up every so often, but mostly he just climbed. Eventually they got to a point where they were about at the same level. Close enough that Connor could hear what Evan was murmuring to himself as he climbed.
“One step after the other,” a slight pause as he looked for the next branch, “One branch then there’s another,” Evan’s energy was building and they were almost up as far as they could go, “I climb higher and higher,” Evan turned to sit on a branch, “I climb until the entire sun-” Evan leaned down to help Connor up then he whispered a finish to the odd but endearing poem, “Until the entire sun, shines on my face,”
Evan looked out over the forest and smiled brightly, but there was a hint of something sad behind his eyes. Connor would look out, but Evan was so much better to look at. Though Evan was consumed by the view it didn’t take him long to realize that Connor was staring.
“Umm…” Evan began awkwardly fiddling with the hem of his shirt, “Is there something wrong with my um… my face, sorry” Conner blushed scarlet at being caught but quickly jumped in to try and stop Evan’s insecurities before they spiraled out of control. Evan had already brought his good hand up to his face, feeling for some imperfection Conner knew wasn’t there.
“No, your face is fine. Just you look really happy when you’re up here. You don’t ever look happy at school,” Evan chuckled nervously.
“You’re one to talk-” Evan looked up at Connor with fear written on his face, “Not that, I mean you’re, you, you just, umm, you don’t seem happy at school either. That’s all I meant. I don’t mean that you look angry all the time or that you have a bad reputation or anything I mean…”Evan trailed of them mumbled sorry, he looked back down at his lap, breaking the eye contact Connor so craved.
“It’s ok Evan. It’s not like I don’t know what people say about me. Hell, you’re terrified of me!” Evan shook his head vigorously, looking back up at Connor.
“No I-I’m not. See I’m talking to you. I can’t even talk to most people. Really just Jared, but he doesn’t even like me so I don’t think he counts really. But you don’t scare me. You’re not like everyone says. Sure sometime you yell or get angry all of a sudden but you’re actually pretty nice. I mean no one else would be nice enough to give up free time to spend time with me climbing trees like a little kid,” The more Connor talked to Evan, the more he saw himself. Only Evan expressed his insecurities and issues through fear and sadness, while Connor used anger.
Every single part of Connor wanted to pull Evan into a hug, but there were several things wrong with that idea. Evan probably didn’t like touching, especially from him, and they might fall out of the tree.
“Did you really fall out of the tree,” Connor said this quietly, looking away from Evan for the first time. Evan looked startled and Connor was afraid that he might fall off the tree.
“Of course I feel. What else could have happened. No one else was there so it’s not like I was pushed, not that anyone would care enough to push me. And it’s not like I jumped,” as Evan said his voice cracked. Connor looked back up at him, and he saw the sadness back in his eyes. Connor had put it there. Evan was so happy until Connor had reminded him about the tree. Connor growled lowly and pounded his fist on his knee.
“I’m sorry!” Evan sad instantly.
“What on earth would make you think I’m upset with you,” Connor looked at Evan with exasperation and slight fondness.
“Why wouldn’t you be? I don’t know, I’m sorry…” Connor started to laugh again, and Evan joined him. At first his laugh was nervous and quiet but after a little bit both boys were dying of laughter, and neither of them knew why.
Chapter 3: Car Ride
Evan walked alongside Connor down the trail. Evan looked up at the taller boy and found himself thinking that Connor was actually very attractive when he was smiling, which he alway seemed to be doing today.
“Why have you been so happy today,” Evan blurted it out before he had time to process it. Connor gave him an odd look and he started to ramble an apology, “I mean it’s just you don’t really smile ever at school or anything and you’ve been smiling almost all day and I was just wondering what that meant, I’m sorry…” Evan trailed off, sure he had just upset his new friend.
Connor wrapt his arm around his new friend's shoulder and pulled him close, “It’s all you Hansen, ya bring out the best in me,”
Evan smiled and felt his heart flutter slightly, a lovely warmth began to fill his chest. He thought this must be what friendship felt like and smiled to himself.
“We should do this again,” Connor murmured beside Evan. Evan looked up at him, and thought Connor’s cheeks were slightly pink, he ignored this.
“Yes! I really like spending time with you. But I mean if you don’t actually want to you don’t have to. You don’t have to hang out with me just because you feel bad for me, sorry” Connor stepped out in front of Evan and grabbed both of Evan’s shoulders. Evan felt the flutter and warmth again.
“I’m the one who asked you. Seriously dude, you gotta stop apoligizing for everything,” Evan’s face fell. He’d disappointed his friend, and it only made him feel worse that the first thing that came to his mind to say was sorry. He hung his head and stepped back from Connor. He clutched his side with his good hand and began to kick at the dirt. “No! sh*it, Evan I didn’t mean it like that! You can apologize all you want, please don’t be upset!”
Evan tried to compose himself as he looked up at Connor. He normally wouldn’t get this emotional over comments like that, he heard it from Jared all the time. But it was different with Connor. He really wanted Connor to like him. Connor smiled at him and grabbed his arm to pull him the rest of the way to the entryway of the trail.
“Want me to give you a ride home Hansen,” Evan wondered why Connor always called him Hansen, and even more why Connor said his name every time he talked. But he kept all this to himself, he filed in under “things to ask Connor later”.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to be an inconvenience. I can just walk, it’s only like five miles from here so I can just walk, sorry” Evan flinched when he said sorry but Connor didn’t comment on it.
“F*ing! One, my house is only a mile away and I drove. Two, Evan, your name and ‘inconvenience’ will never belong in the same sentence unless separated by ‘is not a’” Evan thought about that for a second then realized what Connor was saying.
“Oh, ok then,”
The car ride was uncomfortably silent. Evan sat fidgeting with with the hem of his shirt. Connor tapped on the steering wheel. After several more moments of silence Connor finally broke the silence.
“So Evan, where do you live again?”
Evan jumped a little in his seat and looked up at Connor for a second, then back down at his lap. “I’m sorry I should have told you that already. You just take a left up here.” Evan continued to give directions until they arrived at the Hansen residence.
They stopped in the driveway. Connor put the car in park and looked over at Evan. A big part of Evan didn’t want to get out of the car. He glanced up at Connor, who was now staring at him with a slight smile.
“We’re here,” Connor said softly, trying not to scare Evan away.
“I- no, I know, I was just,” Evan fidgeted with his shirt and tried to think of a reason Connor would stay. “D-do you want to come in and like have dinner or something…”
Connor beamed at Evan, “I’d love to Evan, but my parents are totally controlling. I don’t think they’d let me,”
Evan’s face fell again and he stuttered out a goodbye as he struggled with car door. Evan lost his balance and half stepped half tumbled out. He looked back at Connor who was snickering at him slightly. A deep red blush covered Evan’s face and he next to ran back into his house.
Chapter 4: I Care
Forgive me children
Connor was at a loss at how to act when he saw Evan on monday. He hadn’t contacted Evan at all after their whatever it was(in his mind it was a date). So when he turned the corner and almost ran into Evan he had no clue what to do. He stopped and nervously rubbed his hand on the back of his neck. When he looked down at Evan he was surprised to see that Evan’s eyes were bright and puffy. Evan had just been crying.
“What’s wron-” Evan pushed past Connor and started walking away.
“Not right now Connor,”
Connor felt his body tense up. He knew he had to follow Evan but the anger that was building in his chest would render him unable to help in any way. He had to calm down. He ran to the nearest bathroom and locked himself in a stall.
Thoughts started racing through Connor’s mind. At first he blamed someone else for Evan’s mood. Someone must have said something to him, probably that prick Jared. Connor growled at the thought of Jared saying something horrible, like he always did, and causing Evan to cry. Connor whispered to himself that he would kill Jared when he got his hands on him.
Suddenly a horrible thought bubbled up in Connor’s mind, what if it was his fault? What if Evan was upset that Connor hadn’t texted or called him? What if Evan just didn’t want to be seen with him? What if Evan was afraid of him?
Connor couldn’t control it anymore. He growled under his breath and punched the wall, hard. Probably too hard as now his hand was aching. But it was good, the pain distracted him from the guilt. Not only had he probably been the cause of Evan’s distress but he didn’t even go and comfort him, he was too selfish. Connor tried to calm himself. He tried to take deep breaths. He had to calm down, for Evan. Connor filled his mind with images of Evan. Evan smiling, Evan climbing the tree, Evan blushing, Evan, just Evan. The thought was something he could hold on to. Something to ground him and pull him back to the world.
It wasn’t too long before Connor was calm again and the only thought on his mind was finding Evan.
Connor all but ran through the halls, trrying to find Evan. Where would an anxious boy having what looked like a breakdown go? It was obvious. The same place an angry teen having a breakdown would go. Connor went to the other school bathroom, the one that was in the direction he had seen Evan going. His suspicions were confirmed when he stepped into the bathroom and heard soft weeping.
“Evan, are you alright?” Connor said softly, knocking on the only locked stall.
“I don’t need your help Connor. It’s not like you care anyways,” Connor was at a loss for words. He would have laughed if not for the circumstances. How on earth could Evan think that he didn’t care. Connor cared so much, so much more than Evan even knew.
“Of course I care. Why would you think I wouldn’t?” Connor heard Evan sniffle slightly then he heard shuffling of feet and the lock on the bathroom stall. The door swung open and revealed Evan, eyes puffy and nose red. Evan was an ugly crier but Connor didn’t care.
“It’s just Jared-” Connor hissed and cut him off.
“I knew it was that dick, I’ll f***ing kill him,” Evan looked up in surprise.
“Please don’t do that. He just said that you probably didn’t actually care and that you were really just playing a prank on me. Who would ever care about me, I’m a pathetic mess. I can never get anything right and I don’t even know how to be friends with people,”
Connor couldn’t take it anymore. He hated hearing Evan put himself down, he had to get Evan to stop. Connor took Evan’s face and roughly pressed his lips against Evans. Evan’s arms which had been gesturing wildly went limp, his wet eyes went wide with shock.
Connor pulled away, “I care Evan,”