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Damage Control

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Falling out of a tree doesn't sound very fun. Truthfully, it's not.

He had hit the ground hard, blood alive with adrenaline, his elbow and the palm of his hand scraping against the dirt and gravel. He had fallen on his other arm and it had felt strangely numb until he caught his breath and tried to get up. Instantaneous pain flashed through him, and his arm felt like it was a cross between splintering and blistering. Evan had to lean against the very tree he had fallen out of to steady himself, and as he let himself sink down and sit against the trunk, he realized his cheeks were wet with tears. That made him feel a little pathetic.

His ears had buzzed and his entire body felt weak. It was probably shock, or something like that. He scrubbed the tears off his face, looking up at the tree with the sky filtering through. With its huge trunk and limbs and countless leaves, it had been thrilling to climb– the only time he ever wanted to take a risk was when he was climbing. He had always wondered how the world might look from up so high, and today he got the courage to do it, and he felt so alive, he really did– because if he climbed higher and higher, so that the only thing he could see was the sun shining bright and the leaves, he could escape.

He slowly got his phone out of his pocket, relieved that the screen wasn't cracked. It was a generic brand, the kind Jared always teased him about. Of course, it's not like his heart didn't sink a little when he saw that he had no missed calls or unread texts. That made sense, he told himself, because his phone said it was only 3:37 and he didn't get home until almost 5– if anyone was going to text him, they'd do it when he was off work. Not that Jared texted him much.

Evan didn't know how long he had been sitting there, trying to breathe through his pain, but by now, someone had to be coming, right? Wrong.

He eventually got up, feeling a little wobbly at the thought that he didn't seem to matter, because no one had gone looking for him. His phone hadn't buzzed. He hadn't heard any calls or footsteps of one of the workers or someone he knew to help him. Or maybe he was just feeling wobbly because of his arm. Evan told himself that it was his arm, because the other option was one he didn't want to face.

Not today, and if he could help it, not ever.

Evan straightened the collar of his shirt, tried to brush off his knees, and loosened some of the pebbles out of his palm. Then he walked back, feeling terribly alone with just him, his phone with no messages, and his injured arm.

---

It was still bright when Evan made it back to the main building of the park. He felt like it had taken him hours to walk back. Apparently not.

The park where he worked– well he didn't really work there, he was an apprentice–it was a large park, and the main building was large, too. Not ridiculously large, but made out of modest materials with a sign that declared "ELLISON STATE PARK" with a logo of a pine tree next to it. It almost felt like home sometimes, it was like a sign of comfort–he didn't like to go inside the building that much, he would just check in with the manager and sometimes go out with a ranger– but every time he saw that building, afterwards he could relax and walk in the woods.

The parking lot was mostly empty, and he figured it was maybe about 4:15. Honestly, he didn't really want to check his phone because it would jostle his arm more than it had already been when he had walked the trail back. Only a few cars were there, because the park closed around five. Well, actually six, but most of the employees were rushing to get out by at least 5:30, and the park encouraged visitors to leave by five. Evan knew if he couldn't catch a ride from one of the employees, he'd have to call his mom, and he really didn't want to do that.

He inconvenienced his mom a lot. If he wasn't so afraid of everything, she wouldn't insist on paying for therapy and medication that sometimes made him feel worse– she already was in graduate school and she already worked almost nonstop– it made Evan feel guilty beyond belief. Maybe he would just try to call Jared, even though Jared drove like a lunatic.

As he made his way down to the pot-hole filled parking lot, he saw a car that didn’t look as familiar as the others. He saw someone laying on the hood of it, the back of their head against the windshield, and it looked like they were on their phone. Alright, well that was a little strange. He began to walk to the main building on the sidewalk, hoping that the manager wouldn’t think he was ridiculous or stupid.

“Hey, Hansen, is that you?”

Evan turned nervously, albeit slowly because of the way his arm throbbed. Oh no. Nononono. Someone from school had seen him. He was screwed. There’d be rumors, or he’d have to see them in the hallways.

The figure, not too far off, slid off the hood of the car, slipped their phone in their pocket, and walked right up to him. He had dark hair down to his shoulders and wore a jacket even though it was a little warm out, and had that sharp look to his nose and cheeks and even his eyes that was kind of intimidating. Someone he had seen at his school for, well... Years. As long as he can remember.

“....Oh, uh, hey Connor.”

Connor’s eyes searched him, and the look he gave him seemed almost disgusted, and Evan wished he could just sink into the dirt. Evan didn't see Connor as much as he saw his more popular sibling, Zoe. Zoe was pretty, funny and she played in the jazz band. Not that Evan knew anything about that, or had tried to talk to her but didn't because he had felt sweaty. Jared had a field day with that one.

"What happened?" he said simply, instead of greeting Evan back, face seemingly blank instead of that look he had given him just a second ago.

"What?"

"To your arm." Connor said, looking to where Evan was cradling his arm against his chest.

"Um.. Well, I- I fell out of a tree, actually."

"Fell out of a tree." Connor stared for a moment and then snickered with a very small twist of his mouth, saying, "Well, that is just the saddest fucking thing I've ever heard."

Evan flushed in shame, because he knew it was true, but he still mumbled an, "I know." He knew it was kind of pitiful, it was just definitely real now that someone had said something. He shifted his arm again.

“Wow." Connor said.

“Sorry, I know that’s kind of–that’s a little weird, I was just clim-”

"Calm down," Connor said sharply, now looking kind of irritated, and Evan looked back up at him, feeling embarrassed.

"I'm sorry, I jus-"

"I said. Calm. Down.” Connor growled, instantly losing his chill, and Evan shut his mouth. There was the Connor he normally saw at school. Connor scared him most of the time, but at least this was familiar, this was something he could deal with. Connor was already walking away, apparently done with this conversation. Evan felt that pulse of panic as he saw Connor walk away. Connor was the only person here that he could probably hitch a ride from, and he didn't want to call his mom right now because she was at work–

"Hey–" Evan sucked in a breath, stepping forwards and tugged the sleeve of Connor's jacket with his good arm. He turned with a sigh, brushing some hair out of his face, and looked Evan right in the face.

"What?"

"Can– can I get a ride to the ER? My mom–she– My mom normally drops me off, I can't– I don't have– Um.." Evan took another breath and tried again, finally getting out a coherent sentence. "Can I just get a ride to the ER?"

"Don't you have that Jared asshole to pick you up?"

Evan blanched, feeling his palms get sweaty. Riding with Jared as the driver was almost as bad as driving with a near stranger. "...Um, well, he's probably busy."

Connor looked like he was stuck between pity and wanting to laugh at him (again), but he looked down at Evan's arm and seemed to realize he was actually still hurt and said with a sort of strange, slightly unsure and half suspicious look, "Alright."

He walked slowly when Evan followed him across the parking lot and to his car, but Evan figured that was just because Connor was sort of a relaxed guy. Sometimes.

"That's my car," Connor said flatly as they approached, like Evan was the stupidest human alive. Evan looked at him, in a sort of confused way, and Connor looked back, and Evan swore he saw a smirk on Connor's face, like Evan was very amusing.

Evan was grateful Connor's doors were already unlocked, because he just wanted to sit down and he didn't want to have to feel the embarrassment of pulling on a car door just to see it still locked. He sat down stiffly, the way you sit down when you’re not sure if you’re allowed to relax, because that might be a little weird if you relax too soon. Connor started the car and Evan buckled. Connor didn’t.

He wondered why Connor was at the park. He didn’t seem like the outdoors type. Evan glanced at him and opened his mouth, but Connor must have seen it on his face, because he said, "My mom makes me go out to ‘nature’ and do stuff like hiking."

Evan sat wordlessly, trying to find the right words to say he didn't think that was really that weird or embarrassing, but Connor huffed, turned the radio on to a generic radio station, and placed his hands on the steering wheel. He found himself wondering how Connor felt about the weird rambling kid from school sitting in his car. Evan tried to cushion his arm a little. He also tried to get over how useless he felt. That wasn't quite a new feeling.

Chapter Text

——

The car ride hadn’t been that bad. It smelled kind of like cigarettes and weed, but Connor was an alright driver, even though he purposely ran over a curb when he saw the look on Evan’s face after he had to stop suddenly. That was definitely the Connor that Evan saw at school. He had seen Connor laugh at people sometimes or do things to make them mad, although it got less and less common as time went on. Last year, he barely noticed Connor because he brooded. Connor let himself be unnoticeable.

Evan had seen him get pushed in the parking lot, seen people take his parking spot, seen people refuse to give him a pencil to write with, he’s seen him called slurs in the hallway. He had seen a lot of it, but he was too afraid to help Connor.

His school was large, at least 800 students. That meant there were plenty of rumors, and plenty of sporty, popular, pretty people to overshadow losers or quiet people like Evan and Connor. And sometimes, Evan saw the other quiet people, too. He didn’t know if they felt sweaty and felt their chest tighten when more than one person talked to them, but he noticed them. Maybe they noticed him too, as he tried his hardest to fly under the radar.

There was always parties, too. He never got invited, and he always felt his heart sink a little when he overheard people talking about the awesome party they went to last night, or how bad their hangover was, but they still had fun, and friends to complain about it with. Evan would just clutch his textbooks and binders a little closer as he carried them on his arm and pushed it out of his mind.

They walked up the ER section of the hospital, and Evan swallowed nervously when a guy with a huge gash above his eye stared at him as they entered the waiting room. He was holding a towel to stop the bleeding, and a woman that was probably his wife sat next to him. A few other people looked up and Evan legitimately thought he felt himself get a little sweatier.

Connor plopped down and Evan stood, not sure if he should sit next to Connor or leave a seat of space between them, or if he should just sit across the room and pretend they don’t know each other, because Connor was just trying to be a good person, or something like that.

“Um…”

Connor looked at him balefully, like he couldn’t believe Evan was getting worked up over which seat to sit in. Without a word, he patted the seat next to him. Evan sat down stiffly. Again. At least now he had a reason for it, because the chairs were sort of cheap and actually uncomfortable, unlike the well-worn seats of Connor’s car. Wow, that’s weird, he shouldn’t be thinking about Connor’s car.

Connor whipped out his phone and Evan had a striking image of the figure sitting on the hood of their car with their phone out, from just an hour ago. He discreetly watched Connor play some weird puzzle game with dots on it, and he held back a small laugh when a “You lost!” screen popped up and Connor actually rolled his eyes to himself.

Evan stopped looking at Connor and focused on the waiting room so he didn’t seem like a creep. The walls were white and had “motivational” posters, although most of them were for emergencies, like using the Heimlich maneuver or signs that someone is having a heart attack. There was also a bright, neon colored one with gross pictures of skin conditions and what to do about them. Evan decided to go back to looking at the poster about the Heimlich maneuver. It smelled sterile and musty at the same time, the ‘hospital smell’ that his mom occasionally had when she came home.

Evan decided to pull out his own phone so he could call his mom, and prayed Connor didn’t judge him for his phone brand, even though that was something weird to pray about. Evan shifted so his damaged arm was more comfortable as he dialed the contact. Connor didn’t even look up as Evan held his phone to his ear, listening to the rings. His mom answered almost immediately, because Evan never called, his mom did. Phones weren’t really his thing. Talking to people wasn’t, either.

“Evan?” Her voice sounded worried.

“Hey, um, I’m at the ER–”

“What? Evan, are you okay? Who are you with?”

“I’m fine, my boss– My boss, well, the manager, the boss is in charge of other– Nevermind, my manager took me,” he said, and cursed himself in his head. So much for being smooth so his mom didn’t worry as much. Connor raised an eyebrow when he heard the ‘boss’ part of his lie.

“Do you need me to come get you?”

“Um, yeah. I didn’t want to call you but Jared’s probably busy and I told my manager I could get a ride home so he could just leave and I’d see him sooner or later, so it’s okay if you take your time, I know you’re at work.” He swore he felt eyes on him, but he focused on the floor. His mom’s line was quiet for a second, only the chatter of background voices audible. Well, she was a nurse aide, after all.

“Mom?”

“Sorry, sweetie, I was talking– someone’s going to cover my shift so I can come get you.”

“Alright, uh, bye.”

“I love you, I’ll see you soon!” said the line, and then he heard that cutoff of noise as his mom hung up.

“Your boss, huh?” Connor said with a weird little quirk of his mouth, and Evan flushed in what was probably embarrassment.

“Sorry about the ‘boss’ thing, it’s just that if my mom– um, if she thinks I have a friend, she’ll freak out andshe’llbothermealotandIdon’treallywantthatevenifweareactuallyfriends–”

“Slow down.”

“...Sorry.”

“Do you need me to leave?” Connor looked expectantly at him, with a sort of neutral expression, like he took people to the ER every day.

“Yeah– I mean, I’m sorry, I know I’m kind of brushing you off and I don’t really have any money to pay you for taking me or something, so, um….”

“You don’t have to give me money, dumbass,” Connor said, giving him an angry look that was now very familiar, even after hanging out with Connor for less than a few hours.

“Oh.”

Connor left soon after that, with a very awkward and sort of cold goodbye. Evan couldn’t blame him. He felt like he was using someone for his own exploits, even though he’s been told he was a very nice person. Soon a nurse called him in and asked him a bunch of questions, like his name and his birthday and if he had a guardian with him and how he fell. Evan nervously answered all of them, afraid that somehow they would say, “Aha! We’ve caught a criminal, and we’re going to put you in jail! We’ve been looking for a guy with a broken arm that fell out of tree that did some absolutely terrible things!”

Yeah, Evan was ridiculous. They didn’t do that. He didn’t get an x-ray because it was a simple break, or at least that’s what the nurse said. They wrapped up his arm after a doctor came in, and Evan tried not to flinch when the nurse made him hold his arm still.

He told the nurse (her name tag said “Hannah”) that he got dropped off but his mom was coming through. He was proud, because he didn’t stutter. He just looked like a shy but nice guy. Hannah the nurse sent him back into the waiting room with one of those manufactured smiles. She looked kind of tired, and Evan tried to be understanding. He always tried to be understanding, because he didn’t want to be “THAT guy”.

He sat down to wait until his mom came and pretended his arm didn’t hurt anymore. Suddenly, it hit him as he was mindlessly staring at a magazine with a model on the cover that he sort of had intentions. Maybe he let go, he thought as he stared at the white walls of the waiting room, feeling his hands grow clammy. He was alone now, the seats near him empty.

He started to think about Connor again. Nice, now he owed him something, because that’s how those “I did a favor for you” things went, right?

He let himself get lost in his thoughts, staring at a wall like a robot until he heard the door to the waiting room open and his mother rushed in.

"Evan!" All he felt was arms wrapping around him and then they released him. There was his mom, checking him over like he wasn’t currently in a hospital waiting room with his arm in a cast. Then he found himself glancing at his cast, painfully blank and his elbows and palms still red with recently cleaned scrapes.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine,” Evan reassured her, giving her a nervous smile. He hoped she would never find out the reason that he fell. She never would, he told himself, because he’d never tell her. He wouldn’t ever tell anyone.

“Oh, honey, I’ll take you home, I just need to go up and pay.”

“...Okay.” Right then and there, he realized that he had cost his mom money. At least a hundred dollars, with a high chance that it was over that. He knew they had medical insurance, but that didn’t pay for everything. He felt guilt rise in his throat like bile. Or maybe it was just heartburn.

That night, his mom cooked a dinner and they ate together at the kitchen table for the first time in months. Evan knew it was because he had somehow managed to screw something up again.

Chapter Text

Connor woke up face down in bed with his clothes on, shoes off, and his room dark and quiet.

He pushed himself up, and looked around, squinting in the dark. It was still and the silence was the kind where everything seemed muted. He turned his phone to the lock screen and immediately puts it face down because the brightness is on the highest setting. He had no alarm clock (or regular clock) in his room, so he sat up, sighing and wondering what time it really was.

He got up, running his fingers through his hair and thinking about going for a drive like he did all the time as he shoved his phone in his pocket. Then again, he was hungry. Maybe that was why he kind of had a headache. Connor remembered that he skipped dinner last night because he was home late from driving and didn’t want to sit tensely while his father was the only one who got second servings and Zoe was first to leave if Connor didn't.

Oh, yeah. Driving. He remembered Evan Hansen. He saw Evan Hansen that afternoon at the nature park, looking like he wanted to faint, especially when he saw Connor. Not a great self-esteem booster, but he was bored and he started probing Evan. Evan was someone he knew. He was wearing the same clothes as last year, and he looked a little awkward, like he had for the last four or five years.

Connor was actually in a good mood that night, at least until he got back home. He wasn’t happy about being forced to do something, but at least it was going to a park unsupervised, not doing yoga. Fuck yoga.

In fact, he just let himself drift. He lay on the hood of his car, silent and staring at the sky as it hit him that the world was insane and crazy and he could do whatever he wanted. He had the urge to go to a big city and look at the skyline, or sit on a roof alone while a party raged below him in someone’s house, the beat pulsing the shingles. Just to get that feeling that made him feel like he could do anything.

It sounded like it was all crazy bullshit, but it was like the benefits of being high, except he's sober. Sometimes, it was surreal experiences like that that kept Connor going. He’d probably never be happy, but how he yearned for a feeling of something other than anger and regret.

It was also why he had headphones. Sometimes it was like being in a separate universe altogether, listening to the music play as he stared into space and wondering what it’s like to perform in front of a crowd, run down a street with friends, swim in a lake or the ocean, or just see something extraordinary that would take his breath away or make him laugh. Something incredible, where everything he’s done his whole life were disregarded.

The only thing that took his breath away was when he got so furious that he felt like he would explode, or how he used to find himself gasping for breath and crying late at night. That was years ago, because Connor hasn’t cried in a long time. Connor hated crying.

Connor pulled his hair back in a ponytail, then pulled his boots back on and re-tied them. Sure, skipping a meal all the time wasn’t that great, but Connor did it during the school year, too. He always discovered as soon as he got home around dinner time, suddenly any appetite he had was gone. Dinner was always around the same time, because his mom liked to plan things a lot.

He’d just eat leftovers or go up to those 24 hour stores when the rest of his family was in bed and buy himself some food.

Quietly opening and stepping out of his bedroom door, he walked downstairs. Every door was shut except for Zoe’s, and her room was as dark as the rest of the house when he glimpsed it. His boots made small scuffing sounds on the tile floor of his kitchen as he approached the fridge, glancing at the microwave. 4:30am. Well, alright.

It was still dark out, but it was one of those peaceful times of the day where the entire world felt like it was hushed and the moon cast some light in through the kitchen window. He opened the fridge, digging around until he found a container with the previous night’s date on it. August 2nd. He was going back to school on the 15th and every year he tried to avoid it like the plague.

He started thinking about Evan again. That was probably the most exciting thing that happened to him this summer, except for when Zoe came home from a party that accidentally got out of hand, started dancing in the living room by herself, and then threw up. It was kind of disgusting, but Connor supposed it was a weird bonding moment when he helped Zoe up the stairs and decided not to tell his parents.

He didn’t really mean to laugh and make that comment when Evan told him that he fell out of a tree, but it slipped out. He accepted Evan’s request to go the to the ER, because he saw the look on his face when Connor laughed. It was hurt and ashamed.

In Connor’s mind, helping Evan sort of made up for that, even though the entire time Evan looked like he was going to pass out because he was sitting in the passenger seat. Or maybe it was because he broke his arm, one or the other. Honestly, he felt too much sympathy not to help Evan, because Evan was sort of a nice guy and people who didn’t antagonize Connor all the time were alright to help sometimes.

He shared a little bit of kindness with him, but at the same time, though, Evan kinda pissed him off. Connor knew he had a reputation of being crazy and violent, but his classmate was a little ridiculous. In fact, Evan had always been the jumpy kid, ever since sixth or seventh grade. Connor never knew what happened, but Evan was never as bold or funny with his classmates as he used to be, and now that they had two weeks before senior year, Evan was obviously a nervous wreck.

Connor shut the fridge, found a fork, and ate the small amount of what tasted like chicken. Thank god his mom was off her vegan diet for now. He didn't bother to heat it up. The microwave would probably wake someone up, even if he got to it early and opened it before it gave out it's trademark and annoying as hell beep.

That night after he left the ER, he didn’t turn on the radio. He didn’t turn on any music. He just listened to his car rumble over the road and thought about his encounter earlier that day and had an indescribable urge to talk to someone for once. He hadn’t had a talk that wasn’t filled with hatred or disgust in a long time. Sure, Evan seemed afraid of him and didn’t talk that much and when he did he apologized and rambled, but he didn’t think Evan hated him. Sometimes there was a little streak of genuine emotion that he could see in other people, and that's what made it ache in his chest when he was alone.

But Evan even had trouble sitting next to him, which made Connor feel slightly bad for him (and offended at the same time), but apparently the way he patted the seat to invite him over looked wrong, because Evan’s back looked like a board when he sat down next to Connor. He knew Evan was watching him on his phone, but he seemed okay with his arm and Connor, so he didn’t care to look up.

Hell, he even kept looking at the floor when he called his mom, too, like Connor and the people in the waiting room were going to jump him later. The little lie Evan made up on the spot made him wonder why Evan was lying in the first place, but it made him smile a little and he said something to Evan.

Then Evan had started pouring out something along the lines of “his mom freaking out” and he was looking embarrassed and Connor found himself irrationally ticked off when Evan kept talking and talking like that, and he told him to slow down. Then Evan sort of looked him in the face with an unintentionally weird, sad expression. The image was complete with his broken arm, because he hadn’t been called in yet, and Connor felt that teensy twang of guilt all over again.

Damn, this guy had been putting him on an emotional rollercoaster. Not a particularly scary or intense rollercoaster, but still a rollercoaster. Connor had asked him if he needed to leave now, and hoped Evan didn’t notice how he felt strangely rejected, like it was kindergarten and he didn’t get invited to a sleepover.

It was a bizarre, unfamiliar feeling, and he had realized that he didn’t really like it. Connor had found himself wondering if it was especially him and his personality– everything about him that made Evan so nervous, and then he started regretting having a conscience that made him feel bad enough to help this loser. What the fuck.

Evan seemed remorseful when he said yes and then started talking about giving Connor money, then looked worried when he said that he didn’t have money.

Connor was trying to be nice when he said Evan didn’t have to pay for Connor Murphy trying to be a good human being, but it came out all wrong. He ended up swearing and his tone of voice sounded like he was going to punch Evan, and Evan had just made a scared, unsure little “Oh.”

Somehow his goodbye came out indifferent, too. Connor hated how he seemed mean, no matter what he did. The last he saw of Evan was his blue shirt, broken arm, and a very disgruntled, discouraged look on his face.

He sat quietly at the kitchen table as he ate cold leftovers, wondering if he could function like an asshole zombie with insomnia his entire life. Maybe he’d try to forget about Evan Hansen, because, honestly, he didn't think he liked how Evan seemed afraid of him.

Chapter Text

Evan sat in the front seat of the car, fiddling with the seatbelt.

His mom was playing the Beatles and Evan found himself kind of enjoying just sitting in the car and watching the bushes and trees and signs go by on the highway. The yellow lines on the road flashed and he watched as other cars drove past them, the afternoon sun glinting off of their windows.

They were going to see Dr. Sherman, his therapist. Evan hadn’t seen her in a while because therapy was expensive, even though Dr. Sherman tried her hardest to help Evan’s mother with payment and let her pay late if needed. She was a nice and understanding person. It was probably part of being a therapist, though.

Or, maybe it was because Evan was 17, and he had been seeing her since he was about 11. After he almost cried on his birthday at school because he had to stand up in front of the class while they sang the birthday song, his mom decided to try and book a therapy session. That was not one of Evan’s proudest moments. Evan was a wimp, but 11 year old Evan was way wimpier.

The whole ‘spending money on Evan’ part of going to therapy was not his favorite part, and neither was the talking about his life and problems, and sometimes the drive there or the waiting room made him anxious, so he didn’t really like that, either– Okay, so therapy wasn’t really his favorite thing in general. He didn’t want to burden anyone, even though the point of therapy was to feel better so then he didn’t feel like a burden. Dr. Sherman had told him that.

He was pretty sure therapy didn’t help him that much, because he still got worse over the years. However, he tried to keep his hopes up, because his mom thought he could get better. Evan didn’t really think he could.

It was about 2:05pm. That’s what the clock in the car’s dashboard said. That made Evan a little anxious, because they were late. Dr. Sherman was nice, though, and wasn’t always busy, so their appointment wouldn’t get cancelled and his mom wouldn’t have driven him all this way for nothing.

Evan breathed in and tried to relax, using that calming down technique he had been taught. It sort of worked. He was going to a therapy session, and therapy sessions are supposed to show improvement, and Evan couldn’t show improvement if he never used any of the things he had been taught, so he was using them now.

When they got to the therapist’s office, a girl near his age with blonde hair and a dark-skinned boy that looked about ten sat in the waiting room, too. Dr. Sherman always small talked, which Evan tried to recuperate and always failed miserably. She said she worked with other therapists, too– It wasn’t just her office.
––

"So." Dr. Sherman clapped her hands together like she was a boss at a meeting, then clasped them together and put the in her lap.

Evan sort of stared at her, predicting that she was going to tell him he was going to tell him he needed to go to a mental institute after he told her a few things, like about his arm. She had asked him what happened, and he told her a vague recount.

Good thing Evan wasn't a fortune teller.

He kept his lips sealed, even when she asked Evan if he ever had thoughts of hurting or killing himself. The answer was yes to both of those, at least at times, but he deflected and said it was an accident and he'd be more careful next time.

She nodded and let him talk on, so he just talked uncomfortably about his mom, school, and how he was trying to overcome his fear of answering the door to people. He said it was going well, but it wasn't, because there were a lot of nights he went hungry because he was too afraid to call or even order because he'd have to count change or talk to the delivery guy. At least it saved money.

He didn't mention Connor at all. For some reason, that felt forbidden. He ignored the urge to tell her about other things, like how he was afraid he was going to have a panic attack at school again, the way he got pushed around last year and how he thought it would happen again, or how he sometimes felt so trapped and sick of living that he felt like he would burst.

"I have a new idea for you to try out."

"What... What is it?"

"I think you should write letters to yourself." She raised a hand to stop him as soon as Evan felt his expression change to something that was probably confused and he opened his mouth to say something.

"Don't think I'm crazy. It's to give yourself a pep talk, like "Dear Myself, I'm going to have a great time today, and here's why!"

"Okay." Evan said blankly, hoping he didn't have to show her anything he wrote. His mouth felt a little dry.

"You don't have to do it, but I think it would help you. It’ll help your confidence. I've had other clients call them little stress managers, if you want to think of it like that," she offered, looking at him hopefully.

"So, Evan, do you think that's a good idea?"

Evan forced a smile on his face, nodded, and realized he hadn't done a lot of talking after she suggested the letters. "Yeah."

He felt dread settle in the pit of his stomach, because Dr. Sherman was nice and he didn't want to disappoint her, or his mom. Sometimes his mom was told about "assignments" he got, like the scribbling on paper or the body relaxation thing. He didn't like the word assignment or homework to be used for these, because that stressed him out even more.

She offered him an encouraging smile and while it didn't make him feel much better, he appreciated it.

––

Dear Evan, he started off, because if he started off with the words 'Dear Me', it would definitely look like a loser's journal entry. Well, it kind of was, but it didn’t need to sound like it was.

Today was an okay day, He typed, then thought about how he should be writing this in the morning so he could say why it was going to be an okay day, not how had already been an okay day.

He started typing again.

but not really, because now I have to write letters. I actually don’t have to, but it would disappoint mom and my therapist because they’re expecting me to try to get better. I have to go back to school in a few days and we didn’t go school shopping because I told mom I didn’t need anything. I didn’t want her spending money on me.

Sincerely, Evan

Evan wrote ‘my therapist’ instead of her name because he wanted this to seem anonymous as possible. He knew he’d probably have to print these out at school, because the printer that sat on a table in the hallway was broken right now.

His mom went to the nearby library to print her papers, and during the school year Evan printed at school. He tried not to print anything in the summer, because he didn’t like the exposed feeling he always had when he trudged up to the public library a few blocks from his street.

He still didn't mention Connor, the reason why he fell, or even the fact that his cast was painfully blank because he didn't really have friends during the summer. Or during the school year. He had Jared, but he wasn’t sure if they were actually friends or not, because Jared talked about video games and his car insurance a lot.

Evan took a break to change into some more comfortable clothes so he could go to bed after he finished typing. When he put on some sweatpants and a faded shirt with a very faded logo on, he avoided looking at his arms, legs, and stomach. For some reason, his mind kept wandering to the times last year and the previous years when he got teased for being a little chubby. He wasn’t really chubby, he just wasn’t built like a twig or some body builder, he supposed. That was a tactic Dr. Sherman taught him it’s not your fault how you look, and remember that. She told him that after he accidentally mentioned that he felt weird in 6th grade because he was short, even though he caught up with the rest of his classmates after a year or two.

Evan shuddered away embarrassing 6th grade memories and went back to his computer.

He sighed and looked at the list of prompts, skimming until he found a prompt that could maybe work for him. ‘Important Civil Rights Leaders in American History’, it read, and Evan decided to give it a try. He didn’t know why he was writing from the college prompts, because sometimes he didn’t know if he wanted to live long enough to go to college.

Chapter Text

Shampoo got in Evan's eyes, and this was just the first thing today that stressed him out, because what if his eyes were pink and it made him look like he was high?

He dressed, putting on a shirt that was a little less-worn than his others, because he once accidentally left it at the bottom of his drawer and didn’t find the shirt until a few months later. So yeah, he hadn’t worn that shirt as much. He hoped it didn't look too new, because then people might think he's an overachiever or excited, but if it looks too old or ratty, he'll either look as poor as he is or just kind of gross.

He messed with his hair in the mirror for 10 minutes, worrying that if he changed it's style more than a little bit, it would be noticeable and attract attention. He settled for just combing it and letting it dry and then fall back into place like it always wanted to.

He had gotten up an hour early, because he knew he would do this. Today was the first day of senior year, and Evan was dreading it like he did every single year. Summer vacation always ended too fast, even though sometimes it seemed slow because Evan checked his calendar every day.

He stepped out into the kitchen. He knew he couldn’t eat, he was too nervous, but he had left his bag out on the counter last night. Evan started wondering if his mom was there or not and if he could make a clean escape without any conversation for him to think about later. No such luck, because his mom was right there in the kitchen.

“Have you been writing those letters to yourself, Evan?” She asked, back turned to him as she made herself lunch. That wasn’t something she did all the time, but yesterday his mom went grocery shopping. Evan had sat in the car with his phone and ducked down whenever someone he knew passed by the car in the parking lot.

“Y’know, ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, this is going to be a good day, and here’s why!” She mused.

“...I started one.” That was a lie. Good thing Evan was good at lying sometimes, because he didn’t want to hear his mom’s disappointment if he said the only letter he wrote to himself was the obligatory one written the same night he went to his therapy session.

“They’re important, honey. You need to build your confidence, and they’ll help you with that.” His mom sounded, well, confident in that theory. Evan stayed silent for a second, wanting to slither out of the room and back into bed.
“...I guess.”

He was already scared of going to school and he didn’t want to talk that much. It could be because he was tired and had to get up a few hours earlier than he personally preferred, or it was because his mom was very… Passionate about things. That could probably be a word to describe it.

“I have idea! You can ask the other kids to sign your cast. How about that? I have a sharpie.” His mom picked the marker off of the counter, and it made Evan wonder if it wasn’t there by coincidence and she really wanted him to socialize. He took it anyways and put it in his pocket.

“Perfect.” He said, hoping he sounded enthusiastic enough for his mother.

“I’m proud of you already,” his mom said, looking up from her sandwich-making to give Evan a smile. The hopeful, “try to do something” kind of smile. He smiled back, even though it felt like it took too much effort. He immediately retreated before this conversation could continue any further.

––

Okay, Jared was an asshole. Evan knew that, it was just that Jared’s asshole-ness was currently not helping him, because Jared was running late and Evan felt that worry in the back of his mind while they drove there. Jared was also not a careful driver, so Evan also clutched his seatbelt like a lifeline and worried that Jared was going to actually hit a pedestrian this time. At least with his mom, Connor, or just about anyone else, general traffic laws were followed.

Evan stared rather tensely out the window while Jared talked for a minute straight about the game he got last month and ran some red lights, but then Jared said something that sounded directed at him and he looked over.

“–van. Are you deaf now?”

“What?”

“I’m not repeating myself.” Jared said, rolling his eyes.

“Sorry, I didn’t hear you.”

“Well, apparently now you do. Anyways, I’m done talking about my game. What’d you do?” It was an open question, but he looked pointedly at Evan’s cast (instead of at the road), so Evan just got it over with.

“I… I fell out of a tree.”

Jared’s immediate reaction was a snort.

“What are you? An acorn..?” He said, and Evan found himself staring in a mixture exasperation and bewilderment. Jared was one of the only people that had the talent of getting on Evan’s nerves and still being likeable enough, but being called an acorn was not on his list of priorities today.

“No.”

Jared made one of those “psh” noises, and sounded like he was about to start talking about Evan’s cast or that one time he caught Evan browsing Zoe Murphy’s Instagram (“I knew you were a stalker, Evan!”), but he started talking again. Evan stared out the window again. Jared could probably tell that he wasn’t listening. Maybe he just wanted someone to talk to, even if they weren’t actually listening. Evan could relate.

“–So, I got to second base with this girl’s– Oh hey, we’re here.” Jared braked suddenly into the parking lot and Evan would have went flying if he hadn’t had his seatbelt on.

“Wow, really?” Evan muttered sarcastically under his breath as he grabbed his bag out of the space near his feet and stepped out. The Klei-Mobile was now parked, and Jared was getting out with his own bag.

Evan didn’t know why he referred to it in his mind like that. It was probably because there were multiple times where Jared tried to nickname his car, because it made his car more impressive instead of just saying “the car”. None of the names stuck, except that one, and he honestly didn’t have a better one.

“C’mon, acorn, let’s go.”

“Don’t– you– Jared, that nickname doesn’t work.”

“Um, yeah, it does.”

––

Connor tucked his hair behind his ear, already regretting showing up for the first day. He was also regretting not bringing a hair tie, because somehow his hair was only bothersome when other people were around to see him try to get it out of his face. Surprisingly, he wasn’t high.

His mother had practically begged him to not get high, because it was the first day of school and she didn’t want him going to school high, but she still wanted him to go to school. Connor had wanted to throw a fit or do something petty, but between the look on his mom’s face, Zoe’s disdain, and his dad’s annoyance, he couldn’t find it in himself to do anything else but mutter and then leave without Zoe. It was all his fault his family was basically falling apart at the seams.

He checked his phone, because school clocks could tell Africa’s time for how much they were off from the actual time. 7:45am. Did he actually get there on time? That was not something Connor did on purpose. He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jacket, bag on his shoulder and secured. Feeling like he was sealing his doom, he took one last glance at the pot-hole filled school parking lot with his car in it and stepped in through the school’s back doors.

The backdoors were more like emergency drill doors, but they were unlocked all the time, so Connor always went in through there to avoid the crowds.

They opened up right next to the computer lab. Connor always stayed near the computer lab. A lot of people didn’t actually use it, because the printers at the school were notorious for being the shittiest printers on earth, unless new ones were suddenly bought over the summer. He doubted that. It was normally quiet, and there were no smells or explosions, unlike the science lab or the bathrooms. (Connor had learned the best spots to cut class over the years)

He walked through the hallway, the sound of his boots on tile masked by the chatter of far-off students. He was heading towards the locker room. His school was built weirdly and didn’t have lockers in the hallways, so they had one giant-ass room with lockers on the walls and columns in the middle. It was hell during lunch and the end of the day, so Connor carried most of his stuff with him in his bag. It was a great way to avoid people.

The locker room had doors, but they were always open and he just walked in, glad to see that most people were already gone except for some here and there, and… Ugh. Jared and Evan. Jared Kleiman was the one he didn’t want to see. On a scale of “How Much Does Connor Murphy Hate Jared Kleiman?”, it would probably be ranking at at least a ten. Or a twelve.

He felt that familiar scowl on his face, because he always got in fights with Jared, even if it was for something little, like that time in 5th grade they got partnered together and Jared wouldn't share the supplies, so Connor got mad and ended up getting smacked. That didn't end up well for either of them, especially Jared, and that was both Connor and Jared's first in-school-suspension. He didn’t know what it was about Jared, but just the way he existed grated on Connor’s nerves. He had been surprised, and then less and less surprised as the years went on to see Evan and Jared hang out together.

They seemed to barely have anything in common and Connor had no clue as to how they were connected in any way. Maybe their stronger friendship from elementary school was left, binding them together with memories because their friendship had deteriorated over the years. That’s what happened to Connor, except all of his old friends were never sort of bound to him by the awkward, mandatory “we used to be friends” thing anymore. They let go and Connor did, too.

He was alright with being lonely, most of the time.

It was a little surreal to see Evan now. He looked different with a cast on, perhaps a little bored and uncomfortable with Jared talking animatedly next to him. There was a split second where Connor saw Evan have a flicker of fondness across his face when Jared laughed, and then Connor started wondering why he was watching the two of them. It was a little creepy. Good thing he was far enough away, and this was one of those times where instead of people giving him negative attention, they didn’t give him any at all.

Jared had gotten distracted by this point, busy on his phone while a few other students milled around, too. They all gave Connor a wide berth, but by now he was used to it and pushed it out of his mind. Evan had that slightly self-conscious look on his face that people only got when they knew a conversation was over, but they didn’t have anywhere else to go. Connor checked the time again. 7:52.

He watched as Evan left Jared and decided to stand tensely near the doors. Connor got bored and mimicked other people by also getting on his phone, even though he didn’t really get on social media. He was used to getting ignored online, so he just detached and let all of his accounts get deleted because it wasn’t really worth it anymore. No one ever liked or friended or added him back, so he just let it go.

“Uh, Connor?”

Connor jerked his head up and Evan immediately took a full step back.

“Oh. Hi.” Connor said, briefly looking Evan up and down, from his striped shirt to his shoes that looked a little off-brand but not quite.

“Hey– hi… Oh– um, Connor, hey.” Evan parroted, awkwardly waving his hand and giving him a nervous but sort of genuine looking smile. Connor waved back at him, and it was also a very bad wave. If they had anything in common, it was their shitty waving skills and the fact that they were both waving while standing a few feet apart.

Evan looked nervous when he saw Connor’s eyes scan him and then focus on his arm as Connor recalled the day at the ER. It had given them some sort of weird bond, or maybe it was just because Evan sort of owed him even though Connor had (aggressively) told him he didn’t need any repayment. That was absolutely true. Connor's family was not poor.

Evan was still standing there in front of him, looking a little lost, so Connor decided to take initiative.

"No one's signed."

Evan looked blankly at him, then followed Connor's eyes again and looked at his very blank cast.

"Oh, you– you meant no one's–"

"Signed your cast."

Evan awkwardly clutched his book bag straps. "Yeah. I know, I didn’t really want anyone to...”

"Can I sign it?"

"Yeah, um, sure," he said, pulling a sharpie out of his pocket and offering it to Connor. He could tell someone probably put him up to it, because he looked jumpy as hell and even said a small ‘ow’ when Connor grabbed his arm. He signed his name obnoxiously huge, because he knew not a lot of other people would sign it, anyways. If any at all.

Connor hummed an affirmative like he was critiquing artwork when he was done signing.

“Oh, thanks…” Evan muttered.

"Oh hey, Connor! Lookin' good. Nice hair length.”

Evan quickly grabbed the marker out of Connor’s hand and Connor had to choose between looking at Evan and looking at Jared. That feeling of a bad mood immediately settled over him Connor. He glared at Jared and his stupid glasses, because Jared would never compliment him. It sounded sarcastic, like it had a punch line he hadn’t heard yet. Evan stepped back a little towards the door, looking like he wanted to leave now.

"Very school-shooter chic." Ah, there it was. Jared looked almost proud of himself, and Evan had a weird, uneasy look on his face and Connor wasn’t sure if it was because of him or Jared. He felt his face fall into a defensive expression, but then he tried to clear it off and be more chill. It was incredibly silent for a few seconds, and then Jared said, “I was just kidding.”

Connor still didn’t say anything.

"It was just a joke." he clarified, looking a lot more judgmental. Connor found himself focusing on Jared, because Jared pissed him off to almost no extent. It seemed like almost nothing else seemed to exist right now, and he tried to breathe so he wouldn’t punch Jared, get in trouble, and have to face a lecture or his family’s general discomfort and disappointment. Or Zoe’s occasional scowls in the hallway, because she was related to someone who got in trouble for hitting people.

"Yeah, no, it was funny. Funniest thing I’ve ever heard. I'm laughing. Can't you tell?" He said, mocking Jared's sarcasm from earlier, except it was strained and his voice was quick. Damn it.

Jared didn't say anything, so Connor stepped forwards, his heart pounding in his ears.

"Am I not laughing hard enough for you?”

Jared stared, and a nearby student paused and kept on walking. Like they saw how Connor’s shoulders hunched a little, how he had strode up to Jared with a combative look to him. Like they saw– No, they knew that he was going to explode soon.

"You're such a freak," Jared scoffed, looking slightly unnerved as he gestured towards Connor with his entire arm. Anger boiled in his throat, and he probably would've lunged if Jared hadn't immediately left after that.

He heard a little sound, almost like a laugh, and he instantly remembered that he wasn't alone. It was just past 8 o’clock and he was at his wits end already. He looked to see Evan, staring at him with a hand up near his face, as if he was going to cover his mouth. Like little kids did when they cursed.

“What the fuck are you laughing at?” He said indignantly, glaring at Evan and now having the sudden nasty thought that he shouldn’t have helped him that day. He didn’t know where it even came from. Evan gave another nervous sort of noise, maybe trying to say something, but it sounded like another laugh and Connor was finished. He was done.

“Stop fucking laughing at me!” He snapped, voice rising as he moved towards Evan. He felt like he couldn't control that feeling of rage, because he hated being laughed at.

“I’m n–”

“You think I’m a freak?” Connor interrupted, demanding an answer. He was pissed now, because he thought Evan was an alright person, he thought that he would have one less enemy, one less person he wanted to avoid because he hated their entire existence-

“No no, I don’t–” Evan stumbled as he talked, apparently surprised at the turn of events. He unconsciously fiddled with the marker in his hands, looking like he was ready to flee out of any nearby exit. It filled Connor with near outrage but also satisfaction that someone was afraid of him, even if it was someone who was afraid of just about anyone. He hated himself for that smug, gratifying feeling he got at moments like this, but he couldn’t stop now that this had started.

“I’m not the freak!”

“But I wasn’t laughing!” Evan objected in vain, because Connor was getting too close now.

“Yes, you were!” Connor furiously grabbed his good arm, feeling his blood pump with the familiar rush of anger, even though there was some sense of wrongness to this entire situation. Evan opened his mouth to give another protest, but this time, Connor didn't give him a chance to say anything.

You’re the fucking freak!”

He shoved Evan and let go of his arm, so that Evan fell hard onto the tiled floor. Connor took one look at Evan flat on the ground with his signed cast and the marker clattering on the floor and stormed out.

––

As soon as he got into the hallway, Connor bit back an angry yell and clenched his fists at his sides. He wasn’t about to throw a fucking hissy fit in the hallway at school. No way. His hands tightened around his bag, he tried to take some deep breaths as he looked at the schedule, but he couldn’t concentrate on the text that would tell him where his next class was supposed to be.

It was like trying to see a mile away as a nearsighted person, because no matter how much effort he put in, it still looked sort of blurry because Connor was having trouble calming himself down. His breath was in his throat and he felt like he was going to do something terrible if he couldn’t fucking relax.

He didn’t have that sick feeling of satisfaction anymore. He just felt incredibly guilty, because he realized he had turned into the type of person he never wanted to be– a bully, simple. No bullshit about him being misunderstood, because he was just a bad person trying to be nice, but now he had truly realized it.

Chapter Text

Evan was thinking. Evan knew he didn’t think too little, which was good, but as of the last few years, he had the polar opposite as his problem. He had always thought too much. He had been thinking all morning. Evan was a nervous wreck, and right now, he knew why.

He fidgeted in his seat, pulling at the hem of his shirt with nails that he kept trimmed so he couldn’t bite them all the time. Then he stopped doing that, because he knew it would ruin his shirt. He couldn't quite calm himself, because Connor was in his class. Jared was, too. Connor sat at least three rows away, all the way in the back, and probably would have forgotten that Evan existed if he hadn’t pushed him earlier.

Evan was afraid that if Connor somehow saw him, it’d be an identical situation to earlier, except in front of a huge class full of people that showed nothing other than judgement. Plus, Jared sat in the seat directly behind him, and he would definitely see that situation go down.

He wasn't afraid of Connor, per say, just his reputation and the fact that he didn't seem to like Evan.

Evan had seen that little glimmer of goodness in him during his summer ER trip. It was more like Connor's tough attitude set him on edge, although anxiety wasn't a particularly strange reaction on Evan's part.

His fingers found the side of the ugly, plastic blue chair he was sitting in and softly tapped on the side, over and over.

Everything was a little overwhelming- the sound of disobedient students talking, the sound of Jared scribbling dicks on a notebook behind him, his teacher’s raised voice as she went over expectations and rules. He coped the best he could- by trying to focus on the relief he’ll feel later when he can hide in the bathroom at lunch, or when he finally would get home from school.

He hoped that the random boy that sat right next to him wouldn’t notice anything. After a few minutes, he did.

“Will you quit that?” He hissed, moving his face so his chin was off his palm and he was facing Evan.

“I just- Sorry.” Evan said passively. His classmate turned his back on Evan and watched the teacher lecture. He felt that rush of embarrassment he got so often, and focused on not pulling lint out of his pockets or picking at threads and seams in his clothes or other small, annoying things he did.

He held on.

It was enough, and Evan met up with Jared in art class later on. Neither of them were particularly good at art, but it was easier than AP World History.

“Oh hey, acorn! Nice to see you,” Jared said, giving him a purposely obnoxious grin.

“My name isn’t- That name doesn't fit,” Evan said in exasperation, repeating what he had said just a few hours ago.

“Oh, sure, acorn. Would you rather me call you stupid?" Jared said, giving him a slightly more genuine-looking smile this time. He sat down at one of the tables set up in the art classroom.

Evan wanted to retort again, but for some reason, his mind went scratchy and chaotic like tv static and he couldn’t think of something to say that would sound reasonable to a normal person. So he said nothing, like always.

Evan sat down uncomfortably at the table, across from Jared. The table was wooden and had scratches, marker, and dried paint on the surface. Other students milled around, but one student caught his eye.

Zoe. Murphy, his mind filled in for him. He wasn't sure if he was giddy with joy or worried he would freak out in front of her, or worrying because she was related to Connor. He ended up staring for much longer than socially acceptable, then Jared followed his eyes and let out a rather condescending laugh. Evan immediately looked away, then at Jared, then at the wall and back to Jared. Jared returned his gaze with a knowing smirk.

"You oughta go say hi to her," Jared said, and it may have sounded encouraging if Evan concentrated enough. He took a huge breath, wiped his hands on his pants, and got up.

Jared did not seem perturbed by Evan's nervousness, because he relaxed in his seat and looked towards the front of the room where the teacher was checking her list. Evan hoped she wasn't watching, it'd be worse doing something wrong with not only his classmates watching, but the teacher too.

He didn't know why he was listening to Jared's "advice", much less following it. Maybe it was because he actually liked Zoe. If he had to write a description, maybe he'd use a word like charming. Or likeable.

Zoe was alone at a table on her phone, probably because her friends hadn't arrived yet. She was very popular, and was probably scrolling through some app that he didn't have because he was a loser. Evan cleared his throat, feeling Jared's eyes like lasers on his back. Zoe looked up expectantly.

"Um- Hi, I just wanted to say hi." Evan said, and Zoe smiled. It was a nice smile, perfect in that subtle but real way. She wasn't stereotypically hot, but it seemed like her personality shined onto her entire being, and that was why Evan had been on-and-off lovesick for the past few years. She just had the sort of look to her, the sort of aura that made people want to be her friend. Or kiss her. Evan knew he wasn't the only person who liked her.

"Hi. You're Evan, right?"

"Evan- Um, yes." He mentally slapped himself because it sounded like he wasn't even sure what his name was. Zoe had a look of recognition on her face when she looked him over, and then her eyes quickly locked on his cast. There was a pause.

"I'm so sorry about my brother, I heard he pushed you?" Zoe said suddenly, raising her eyes to his face and looking genuinely concerned while the mood of the conversation changed entirely. Evan didn't have that nervous-but-sort-of-happy feeling anymore. He just felt nervous now.

“What? No- I mean, yes, he did, but it’s alright,” Evan said hurriedly, not wanting either of the Murphys to dislike him, even though one of them already did. He didn't even know how Zoe knew this. Did her friends tell her? Did Zoe see it herself? He hoped not.

Zoe's face darkened, brow furrowing, and she firmly said, "It's not. He doesn't even make sense, he signed your cast and shoved you?"

Evan was reeling, because this was not what he had planned. Zoe seemed upset now, maybe tired of fixing things after Connor had whirled through like some tornado- He didn't want that because she seemed so nice, and Evan had been trying for a while to actually work up the courage to talk to her.

He realized his mouth was running a mile ahead of his mind and he had barely known it as he stumbled his way through the conversation.

"Well, it was... sort of my fault. I insulted- my fr- I didn't stop my- I didn't stop someone from insulting him, so he.. Yeah." Evan was suddenly hyper aware of how Zoe looked at him and how he knew Jared was watching. He knew he was starting to mess up.

Evan saw Zoe mask the look of anger on her face. Evan wasn't sure who it was directed at, but he knew it was selfish for him to want the anger to be directed at Connor. The classroom was getting steadily louder, and Evan realized Zoe's friends had begun to arrive in one big group at Zoe's table.

"That's not your fault, Evan. I'll ask him to say sorry."

It seemed final, and she was starting to turn away to talk to her group, so Evan blurted something out in a desperate attempt to socialize some more.

“Hey, uh- I’m- Do you want to- Wanna sign my cast?” Evan forced out, and felt immediate regret about trying to step out of his comfort zone like his mom wanted him to. He nearly felt himself cringe in embarrassment.

"Did you say something?" Zoe asked, turning back.

"No way... Jose.." Evan said, now certain that improv was his worst enemy. Oh god, why would he say that?

"Well, alright, Jose." Zoe smiled a little bit, but looked like she was going to go back to minding her own business as her group got settled and began to chat. Evan worked up his courage. It'd be weird to back out now.

"Do you want to- want- Do you- Um, do you wanna sign my cast?" Evan repeated, and swore he heard either Jared or one of Zoe's friends snicker.

“If Connor hasn’t taken up all the space,” Zoe replied, and Evan found himself nodding dumbly and then watching as Zoe wrote her name in a pink sharpie right under Connor’s outrageously large signature.

She finished, let go of his arm, and capped the marker as she glanced at him.

"Evan, I'm going to make Connor apologize to you."

"You don't-"

"I'm going to. I'm sorry about him," she repeated, looking sincere, and Evan felt bad for how he couldn't manage to keep her out of... Whatever he and Connor had between them.

"Okay- I- Thanks- um, bye!" Evan said with a breathy, nervous laugh, deciding to not protest anymore. Zoe managed another one of her bright smiles and his heart did a tiny little flutter. It almost felt nice, even though he felt dread at the prospect of Zoe getting involved. What if Connor shoved him again? What if he shoved Zoe? He didn't want to see anyone get hurt, period. Except maybe Jared, he almost deserved it for just leaving Evan alone.

"Smooth." Jared said to him as Evan sat back down. He had been feeling bolder, but now that feeling had deflated a little. Connor hadn't been too scary until the chances of him beating Evan up skyrocketed.
--

Evan was relieved that neither Connor nor Jared were in his math class before lunch, because right now, he just wanted to be alone. It was the only class where he knew absolutely no one. Classmates were in groups and chattering while Evan sat, alone and in that awkward hunched pose. Their teacher was trying to usher students into a seat.

She went over attendance, and Evan was fine until he realized he would have to speak out, even if it was just a simple “Here.” He felt his hands get clammy, and now for some reason he was wishing Jared or someone he actually knew was here. They went through last names like Baker, Ford, Guthman, Hale, and then-

“Evan Hansen.”

“Uh- um, here.”

Evan breathed a sigh of relief, even though that little twinge of shame surfaced because he knew that at least one classmate was watching. He just wanted to go home.
--
Evan didn't skip lunch.

He walked into the stream of students heading into the cafeteria, uncomfortable and squished. He could make out Jared's form through the pairs of shoulders and arms.

Evan made it through the crowd and nervously wiped his hands on his pants before sitting down. Jared was on his new-looking phone and did not look up as he said, "We should get in line."

Evan stood, and Jared started walking to the line, so Evan followed behind with the self conscious feeling of eyes on him. It was like the entire lunch room, with its hundreds of students, had their eyes trained on him.

“You go first,” Evan said unnecessarily as they neared the end of the line, preferring to follow Jared’s lead so he wouldn’t mess up in the lunch line. Maybe he should start bringing his lunch. He got his food and awkwardly waited while Jared paid, hoping people wouldn’t judge him for not paying.

Evan got free lunches, because he and over half of his school qualified for them. He didn't really live in a rich neighborhood. Sometimes he got worried about accidentally starving, because eating in public made him nervous, so he ate slow or not at all.

Jared nodded at him, so they both walked back to their table. It was a small table towards a wall, and the kind that a lot of people didn’t sit at, so it was the perfect place for Evan to not get himself entirely worked up at and the perfect place for Jared to ramble.

"Hey, look, it's our local school shooter!" Jared jabbed a thumb at Connor, who was sitting down alone all the way across the cafeteria. The rest of the students gave him his space, and from here, it still looked like Connor was about to kill someone.

Evan didn't say anything, wondering why the sight of someone that wasn't him that was sitting alone made him feel pity.

"C'mon, you know he'll probably pull a gun on someone," Jared continued.

“...You- you shouldn’t have messed with him like that,” Evan said, beginning to feel confused as to why he even wanted to try and defend Connor when he was nowhere near them.

"What, did big ol' Connie Wonnie beat up itsy bitsy Evan?" Jared mocked, and Evan felt his cheeks flush in a mixture of anger and embarrassment. He felt terrible for not defending Connor, and he didn't know why. He didn't dare mention anything else to Jared.

"He didn't do anything. He's not that-"

“He's still a freak and a jerk,” Jared proclaimed, like he was not currently being a hypocrite. "Are you sure he didn't infect you or something?"

"It's- I'm fine. I'm fine. Every- Everything's fine," said Evan, and he noticed he had the tiniest note of hysteria in his voice. Was he already losing his mind in this place?

Jared looked skeptical, but he didn't pressure that particular topic again.

"...Alright, then. Next time you see Connie Wonnie, tell him the awesome, fantastical, wonderfully amazing Jared said hi."

Evan just dropped his eyes and they ate in silence for the rest of the meal. Evan began to consider skipping lunch like he did all of freshman year.

Chapter Text

Connor went home that day without so much as giving a glance at his sister or any of the other students. He got home first, anyways. So when Zoe suddenly confronted him after she got home, Connor was not particularly pleased.

"Connor, did you seriously push Evan?" Zoe asked, setting her bag down on the kitchen table. There was no greeting from her as Connor browsed the fridge, just an argument already bubbling to the top. He'd probably eat on his own today, then, because he despised family dinners after a fight.

"Him? Well, even if I did, that's none of your business," Connor said dismissively, shutting the refrigerator door without looking at her, just like Zoe didn't look at him during school. He didn't really want to start thinking about the Evan incident.

"I know you pushed him, I asked him. Can't you just say sorry or something?"

"Why?" Connor couldn't help but ask, and Zoe's face went from nearly hopeful, as if she were wishing for peace, to annoyed.

"Oh my god," His sister said in utter exasperation, now looking like she wanted to pull out her hair. "You can't just push people. Didn't you learn that in first grade?"

This time, Connor didn't say anything, and began to consider walking out of the room or even the house. Zoe's eyes were like microscopes, scrutinizing him with anger.

"I'm already getting looks in the halls because of you, and half of the school doesn't even know that you probably threw a tantrum today. Can't you just relax?"

"Well, I could relax if you could relax," Connor retorted childishly. He could sense Zoe was about to go on one of her rants, even though he knew they were a little justified.

"Why do you have to be like this?" Zoe hissed. Connor tried to relax, kind of like how she just suggested, even though he felt his hands close in loose fists. Okay, fine, he could calm down. Whatever.

"You're already beginning to mess up my reputation just by being related to me. Maybe if you actually say sorry for some of the bullshit you do, you can start acting normal!" Zoe spoke scathingly. For once, Connor couldn't find it in him to honestly, truly start to argue back.

He was just beginning to feel truly irritated, even though he was trying to be indifferent. He knew that it was his fault, but he definitely didn't need her mentioning it. Connor took a deep breath and put his fists in his pockets so Zoe couldn't see them clench harder.

"Fine, fine. Will you leave me alone if I apologize?" He said, hoping his voice didn't sound too pissy, hoping he could leave before he snapped, hoping it would appease her. He hated arguing with Zoe, because occasionally, he felt shame. Plus, she doesn't give in when they fight, as opposed to a few years ago. They were siblings and he was supposed to have her back, but he was the absolute opposite of supportive.

Zoe glared at him with something very close to hate in her eyes.

"Sure," she answered, and there was that split second where Connor knew he definitely hated how they acted around each other. He didn't know if Zoe really hated him, but it seemed so close it that it didn't make a difference if she actually did or not.

"Are you actually going to do it?" She said after a moment, looking understandably suspicious.

"Yeah." Connor lied with barely any hesitation, because he knew he probably wouldn't. Evan hadn't wanted to talk to him previously, and he probably didn't want to this time, either.

Maybe apologizing more would heal one of the many rifts in his and Zoe's relationship, but honestly, it seemed like nothing would really fix it. Evan seemed like such a nervous person, anyways, that he would probably pass out if Connor walked up to him too fast. That wouldn't be considered much of an apology, especially in Zoe's book.

It was silent for a second. Zoe didn't say anything else and the tension was thick. Connor found himself looking at the cabinets and the walls instead of her face.

Zoe almost looked like she wanted to say something else, but Connor decided to take initiative and get out.

"I have stuff to do," Connor said, and ducked out of the kitchen before he could somehow fuck up even more. He made sure not to look at his sister, and he bet she was doing the same. He realized he was tired already, after just one full day of school.

He wasn't sure how he could apologize, because it would probably be hard to pin Evan down and actually talk to him at this point. Plus, the only class he knew he had Evan in was English, and he didn't know where his locker was. He didn't even know if they had the same lunch hour, because if there was one thing Connor did well, it was not giving a single shit about everything around him.

---

Evan woke up trying to be positive. Hopefully, that fake positivity would reflect in his letter. He accidentally woke up a few minutes before his alarm rang and gave up on going back to sleep, then dragged himself out of bed. He had been staring up at his ceiling because he had read somewhere that sleeping on your stomach was bad, so Evan tried sleeping in his back instead. It felt the same.

Unplugging his phone from it's charger, he turned off his alarm. 5:56am on Tuesday, August 15th. Sometimes it was comforting to know the exact date and time. The rest of the time it was not, probably because he had a deadline of some sort.

His mom had left a text.


I had to leave early and cover for someone, but I'll still be back at regular time! :)


10:30pm, he reminded himself. His mom took online classes, but sometimes she had to physically go to her school, so she would take a shift off for that. Otherwise, Evan would see her in the kitchen late at night, on her computer with notes out and a tired look on her face. He wasn't sure how his mom pulled it all off.

He pulled his computer off of his small, cramped desk and opened it up. It asked for his password, and he typed it in slower than usual because of his cast. Normally, Evan could pride himself on being a strangely fast typist.

He opened up the document and started typing.

"Okay.. Dear. Evan. Hansen," he muttered to himself, then felt weird because saying his own name also felt weird.


Today is going to be an amazing day, and here’s why!! Because today all you have to do is just be yourself but also confident, that’s important, like easy to talk to, approachable, but mostly be yourself, like that’s number one, be yourself. Just be true to yourself. This doesn't have to be like yesterday.

Also though, don’t worry about whether your hands are going to get extremely sweaty. You can’t make it stop, no matter what you do, even though they're not gonna get sweaty. Not today. So I don’t even know why I'm bringing it up, because it’s not going to happen because all you have to do is be yourself.


He almost had the urge to type in his extremely humiliating story about going to see Zoe in jazz band but then getting really sweaty hands (the kind of sweaty hands he said he was not going to get today). He could also mention the chickening out part, but Evan decided not to include that at all. Dr. Sherman might be reading these, he can't share too many embarrassing problems.

Evan took 30 minutes getting dressed, even though for the most part all of his clothes looked the same. He had always thought of changing how he dressed, but he was afraid people would notice him trying to be "cool", and Evan didn't want attention for something like that. His mom had convinced him well enough that polos and khakis were a nice look on him (Evan's self esteem begged to differ).

Evan now had too much free time because he showered last night. After getting shampoo in his eyes the previous day, he decided showering in the morning was too stressful. Well, everything was stressful for Evan, but maybe it would help.

He spent the other 30 minutes brushing his teeth, pacing, getting his book bag ready, doing various other things, and nervously looking in the mirror. The cast on his arm and his blue shirt looked back at him.

He made sure his laptop was in his bag and put his phone in his pocket. Then he checked again to make sure, because he still had a few minutes.

---

"So, do you share any classes with your new boyfriend?" Jared asked as they trekked up to English. He had been on time and had slowed down after he nearly hit a squirrel (and after Evan threatened to throw away his pack of gum because of it).

Evan glared at Jared, but he still shrugged and mumbled an "I dunno", because he honestly didn't really know. He tried to mind his own business. Or maybe it was because he was too busy worrying about himself than to worry about exactly who was in his classes. He'd pay better attention today.

"I think he's in my math," Jared informed him.

"Um... I don't know what classes I share with him," Evan admitted.

"Hey, if you're lucky, maybe you only have English with him and that's it."

Evan rolled his eyes again, even though he was alright with not sharing his entire schedule with either of them. None of his classes after lunch had Jared in them, and Evan wasn't sure if he was relieved or a little concerned, because Jared probably would've accidentally killed himself by now without Evan around to at least try to stop him from doing stupid things.

Some of those stupid things included eating variations of soap as well as bathbombs from a Lush store on a dare, that one time he tried to do a handstand in the middle of a road in 8th grade, and trying to trip a classmate because they wouldn't give him his favorite pen back.

They entered the classroom and sat down. Thankfully their English teacher let them sit where they wanted, even though Jared had said earlier, "She's probably going to pull a dumb 'sit where you want, but we have a seating chart next week!' things."

Evan glanced around to the row where he thought Connor sat at, but he looked like he was sleeping. The bell rang, and even though teachers said there wasn't supposed to be talking after the bell, everyone did anyways.

"Hey, Evan, who do you have for study hall?"

"Uh... Ms. Fleming. Wait-wait, no that's art. I have Miss Rodriguez."

Jared gasped in offense. "Lucky! I got Mr. Mellsborne. I've got Zoe there, though!" He added, doing a lame wink that scrunched the entire right side of his face.

"Jared, I swear if you do anything-"

"Relax, Evan," Jared said, starting to smile. Evan groaned and turned around so he faced the board and not Jared, who was currently trying to force the grin off of his face.

---


Dear Evan Hansen,

Okay, turns out this wasn’t an amazing day after all. This isn’t going to be an amazing week or an amazing year, because why would it be? That's not how things work for me, ever.

I know because there’s Zoe, and all my hope is pinned on Zoe, who I don’t even know, and doesn’t know me. Maybe if I could just talk to her more. Better than I did yesterday things would be different. Maybe nothing would be different at all. I wish everything was different.


Evan finished typing his letter, filling in the last few sentences that made him feel kind of alone because they were absolutely true.


I wish I was part of something. I wish that anything I said mattered to anyone. I mean face it, would anyone notice if I just disappeared tomorrow?

Sincerely,

Your most best and dearest friend,

Me

 

The printer clunked to life and started printing his paper. Evan would've gone to the library's printer, but there was a librarian there and he wanted some notion of privacy. No one supervised the computer lab full time.

Evan clicked around and checked over his documents, even though most, if not all, were from old assignments and projects. He just had that little itch in his mind that made him want to check, just in case. It was weird, but it never hurt to check things.

"Hey, is this yours?"

Evan shrieked and spun around, shutting his laptop and then nearly dropping it. Connor Murphy cleared his throat, giving him a strange, possibly understanding look, one of the most expressive faces he had seen on him other than anger. He must have zoned out so bad he didn't even notice someone else was in the room.

"What?"

"Is this yours?" Connor repeated, obviously trying to ignore the fact that Evan was so startled his hands were starting to get a little sweaty and he was looking nervous again. This is exactly what he told himself he would not be doing today. Yuck, he was going to have prints on his laptop.

Connor looked the same as he always did with his darker clothes and long hair, but he seemed like he had a different air to him today. In fact, he sort of looked out of place. Like he was unsure of how to go about things.

"Um, I think so, it might-"

"I'm pretty sure it's yours."

Evan felt embarrassed. He knew that was his paper, why did he second guess? He set down his laptop on the table behind him so he could take the paper and hopefully not drop it.

The page was face up as Connor waited and then held it to him, and then something clicked and suddenly dawned on Evan.

"Hey, I-"

"Wait, did- Did you read that?!" Evan's voice rose in panic. Connor had the same look on his face, and now Evan recognized it as either guilt or disgust.

Connor answered slowly. "...No."

Evan felt his face start to get hot and that sense of terror started to make his stomach twist and his mouth get dry. Oh god, he was screwed.

He stood, feeling like his organs were pushing up his throat because he couldn't quite breathe. He didn't know why he was shocked, he was printing at school and had probably been staring at the screen and blanking out for a full 10 minutes.

"Um, are you alright?" Connor asked, approaching him a little.

"No, you're going to tell other- Don't tell- people, please don't tell other people!" Evan nearly begged, unable to keep himself from freaking out.

"I-"

He hurriedly snatched the letter from Connor, hoping Connor wouldn't shove him again, or do something worse. Evan ardently avoided looking at Connor's face and ducked away, scrunching his shoulders up uncomfortably and moving past him. He knew Connor was saying something, but his brain was having trouble unscrambling and translating it to something he could understand.

He was glad that at least Connor didn't try to stop him.

"I'm sorry- I'm- I have to go," Evan mumbled as an excuse, even though both of them knew he didn't have to. Last hour was only beginning. Turning tail and darting out of the open door, his panic nearly lighting his feet on fire, Evan escaped into the nearest bathroom.

When he got into the bathroom, looking down at the ugly tiles, he clenched his fists so he could focus on that instead of wanting to cry. God, he's such a loser.

He was so pathetic. It was the second day of school and he was already on the verge of an attack. Alright, alright, maybe he could do this. He'd stay here until the end of the day and then just get a ride with Jared like he did yesterday.

The paper was now crumpled into his hand, and Evan stared at it, wondering why he actually thought printing at school or writing himself a letter was a good idea. Oh yeah. It wasn't his idea in the first place.

He felt frustrated and afraid. Frustrated because he couldn't handle himself, frustrated because things were already going wrong and he felt stuck, but afraid because Connor had read it. He saw everything.

The infamous Connor Murphy, the Connor that could tell Zoe and ruin any chance he had, or somehow spread a rumor to other people. The Connor that could see into his thoughts and know that he was as pitiful as he looked and felt, because he had seen a whiney journal entry.

He unclenched his fist and looked at the creases of the page and the generic font of his own words. Then he noticed that the text printed was strangely spaced, and various parts were missing. The printer malfunctioned, or maybe a glitch happened. Something like relief washed over him, even though it disappeared soon after. Connor hadn't read the part about Zoe or some other sentences because the printer skipped over it.

It read,


Dear Evan Hansen,

Okay, turns out this wasn’t an amazing day after all. This isn’t going


because why would it be? That's not how things work, ever.


who I don’t even know, and doesn’t know me. Maybe if I could just talk


nothing would be different at all. I wish everything was different.


I wish I was part of something. I wish that anything I said mattered to


anyone notice if I just disappeared tomorrow?


Sincerely,

Your most best and dearest friend,


Embarrassment and worry still rose in his throat like bile as he looked at the piece of proof that showed how stupid and messed up he was, even if it was missing sentences.

Evan tore the paper up, ensuring all of the scraps went into the garbage can. He didn't want to see it ever again after this.

---

Connor ended up not apologizing in English, and even though he noticed Evan in his science class (directly after First Hour & Naptime™), he was too far away to actually say anything. Plus, his science teacher was kind of an asshole, even if he was rumored to give out extra credit.

Connor had just been skipping his last two periods of the day, because even if it was only the second day, he didn't care that much at this point. Last hour social studies was not normally a particularity fun class, and his study hall hour had little to no consequences if he wasn't there. He hadn't been paying much attention, but then he noticed the printer and picked up the only page on the machine.

Connor had expected to see some essay or lesson plan, not some weird diary-like paper. It started out with a simple Dear Evan Hansen, and for some reason he just kept reading, even though he was pretty certain he knew who the paper belonged to, or at least addressed to. Maybe it was just some assignment, given to some poor soul on only the second day.

Its words something about it that stuck to him, so he read on.

The paper had blank sections, but he doubted someone would make their page like that on purpose. He wondered why this paper existed in the first place, but for some reason, a few of the parts struck a chord, even if they were close to incoherent.

The page went on before it blanked and ended. Something about how the emotions were expressed stuck with him a little, in a way that wasn't quite good or bad. He shook it off and glanced around to see if it's owner was around. He was.

Connor remembered very vividly the look of absolute horror and shame on Evan’s face, and then him realizing that he probably- Well, definitely- shouldn't have read it, even if he wasn't particularity judgemental about... Whatever it was.

He had tried to apologize and maybe even tell him that the printer probably fucked up, but soon the other boy started talking over him and working himself up. Evan had grabbed the paper and fled.

He had pushed past Connor and disappeared so fast out of the room that the only way Connor knew he had been there was his laptop, left on the table behind him.

Well, shit.

He hadn’t known how to react. Evan had slipped through his fingers, because somehow, Connor couldn’t try to apologize for something he did without fucking it up. Christ, he should've just left that paper on the printer. He also probably should have tried to say something earlier in the day, too. Now he stood alone in the lab.

Zoe would probably get mad, or worse, rat him out if she found out. His mother would give him a concerned but stern lecture, but Larry would just shout at him or try not to act as disappointed as he actually was to his face.

He didn't know why he was hoping and trying to be nice and a good person at this point.

Okay, fine. Maybe he could try again tomorrow to redeem himself. If Evan even went within 30 feet of him. The guy would need his laptop back, anyways, and someone would probably steal it if Connor didn't take it himself.

He ignored that nagging little thought that told him that that reading the letter wasn't right, even though it was kind of true.