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Two Broken Boys

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“You just want me to freak out! That’s it, isn’t it? So you can tell everyone that’s what I am. Well, fuck off!” Connor yelled in Evan’s face as the shorter guy stuttered his excuses. He put the letter in his pocket and stormed off, not wanting anyone to see the tears in his eyes. He had had enough. School and life currently was like a poison, slowly killing him. It made him furious. In his worst moments, like now, it made him want to beat the poison to the punch.
What was the fucking point?

He ran all the way to the school roof to think about things and wonder whether to throw himself over. He wished his doctor was better help, he wished anyone would take him seriously, he wished his parents wouldn’t care so much about the consequences of admitting their boy was broken, he wished he could apologise to Zoe for all that he’d done, he wished someone would care if he did throw himself off of the roof right now.

..He regretted signing Evan’s cast. The one good thing he had done in time immemorial. It was the world telling him that his anger meant he deserved every bad thing that was said to him. He had tried. Oh, he had tried. He hated who this anger made him but weed only helped so much and tablets weren’t available to him. It was the world laughing at him, he must be broken. No one should need pills from stopping their anger bursting at the seams and hurting everyone he knew, including himself. It was a test and he was failing. If he only dropped he wouldn’t have to worry anymore. He’d be rid of it all.

..He hadn’t beat Evan up. He didn’t regret that. It was a baby step, he had pushed him but had he lost his wits he knew he would have slung a right hook straight in that poor kid’s face. He was capable of getting better. He could hang on, find a different doctor soon, no matter what people said.

He stood up and walked away from the roof.

Evan’s tears fell as Connor had left. He couldn’t do anything right. He knew Connor must have taken it the wrong way and was upset. But when he figured it out what was to stop Connor from showing the whole school making the entire place more of a acid pool than it already was. He was so smart but what the hell did that seem to matter in school. His life wasn’t going to go anywhere. Neither he or his mom could afford it. He hated being a burden to her. She did so much and he was just this kid who couldn’t do anything. He wished he wasn’t smart enough to know it. But the reality stared him in the face like a vengeful animal. Maybe, somehow in his life, he deserved this. Maybe he was the reason his dad left his mum and this was his comeuppance.

He decided to do at least one good thing.

He went back to the computer, wrote another letter and printed it off.

 

A while later, Connor had contacted a dealer - got some weed and had hid in a bathroom to smoke. He had flew off the handle with Evan, he knew it. If Evan ever wanted to see his face again he’d apologise. He doubted it though. If he could ever try find the words he’d apologise to Zoe too. When he got himself better, that's when he'd say sorry. So that if he swore he’d never do anything like that again, he’d know it to be true. While his pessimism doubted it of him, he wished it so much.

He was strolling back to his locker to get his bag when he noticed someone had placed something in his locker.

Hesitantly, he opened it and found a letter in an envelope.

“Dear Connor Murphy”.

He felt his heart skip. It could be anything, It didn’t feel like anticipation or excitement. It felt like fear. What was he scared of?
It was only a letter.

In the envelope was a short letter. He knew it was by Evan, despite it being typed.

 

“Dear Connor Murphy,

I’m sorry. It was a mistake. I hope you’ll forgive me.
But I won’t expect it.
I wouldn’t think that of you, you know? I’d hope you wouldn’t think it of you but there’s a reason you said it.

But until the end of this letter, my last letter, can we pretend we have friends?”

 

This letter, unlike the one in Connor’s pocket, neglected to have a “Sincerely, me” on it. Connor noticed. It was like it never ended, the request meaning a lot more to him for this reason alone. Evan’s name was there in the corner in pen writing though. Unmissable. He didn’t need it, he knew that it was Evan's.

He put the letter back in the envelope and into his bag, carefully. He tried to find Evan for the rest of the day but it was like he disappeared.

 

A mile or so away, Evan had been walking for a couple of hours. Not knowing where he was going, what he was doing, if he was in danger or even where he was. He found what he hadn’t been looking for but his mind knew was the place. He looked from the bridge overlooking the town. What a wonderful place it looked. How he hated it and hated himself for hating it. He took off his bag and climbed onto the wall. He expected second thoughts but they never came. He didn’t look down.

He simply, for the second time in a year, let himself fall as he walked off the edge.

Chapter Text

So much spun around Connor’s mind for the rest of that day and night.

What did the letter mean? It must have been a mistake, Evan said so - but how?
How did this kid he’d shouted at for a letter not think him a freak? Why was it his last letter and why in the world was he writing letters anyway?

It occurred to him at 2 am that without the letter Evan had given him; the reassurance and confusion it had caused, Connor could well have killed himself that night. He knew he had been spiralling earlier and somehow this kid he barely knew had saved him by asking his forgiveness. The least he could do was oblige him.

4 am brought nightmares, when he woke up he had tremors but he didn’t feel awake. It took an hour to feel like himself and he cursed the lack of sleep. Knowing at 5:30am he wasn’t going to sleep again without missing school, he crept downstairs and got a can of Redbull and opened both notes again. He read over them carefully and couldn’t decipher what it meant.

Apparently he was too caught up in it as he didn’t even spot his mother coming downstairs as the clock tolled 6am.

“Honey, I wish you wouldn’t drink that. You’re shaking.” She tutted gently.

He had tried to tell her before that the lack of sleep and the shaking was why he drank it but she would never believe him. So in defiance, he took another gulp of it before raking through the cupboards for breakfast. Finally getting some Pop-Tarts he went to go get his stuff.

“Sweetie, are you okay?” She asked softly.

“Yeah, just getting my stuff together for school.” He said, avoiding her eyes. He hadn’t responded ‘are you okay?’ with the truth in a long time. No one would want to hear it. So he kept it to himself.

“Really? You’re off to school? No arguments about it?”

“...Yeah.” He nodded and she started to say something when he interrupted, “Mum, don’t. The more you say, the less I want to go. I don’t need a lift - I’m gonna walk.”

She watched a moment, in need of saying many things. She didn’t say any of them, she just nodded. He was thankful of that.

His dad was getting changed and Zoe in the bathroom when he waved to his mum and set off. The gentle chill in the air grounded him as he walked outside. It was quite the walk to school and he would likely get there just before Zoe parked her car but that was fine. He wasn’t very capable of lies today so what he needed was a lack of questions. The one good thing about seeming so naturally terrifying was no one asked you questions.

He ran his hand through his hair and debated putting it up but it was the only thing saving him from a chill on his neck, he thought to himself as he walked in through the school doors.

As fate would have it the first person he saw around break time was Jared, a kid who had taken the piss out of him yesterday and any other day would willingly fight. However, Evan knew Jared. Having not seen Evan yesterday, Connor decided to ask Jared first.

“Hi, Jared, is it?” Connor asked with an unintended sharpness to it.

Jared could have jumped a mile, “Connor.”

He ignored him and continued, “Question, have you seen that kid today. Evan?”

Jared had the front to look angry. What was so wrong with asking this kid where his friend was? Finally Jared calmed enough to say, “I wouldn’t call me and Evan close but dammit, Connor, that’s just fucking cruel.”

Connor tried to hold his anger and confusion back, “What’s wrong with asking about him? He gave me a letter, I want to talk to him.”

Jared was about to scoff at what he thought was Connor lying when Connor held up the envelope. In an instant, Jared turned white as a sheet. Finally, after a long while, Jared barely uttered, “Evan’s in the ICU of Hanhall Hospital. He jumped off of Tipton bridge yesterday.”

Connor couldn’t manage words. This kid, who seemed to have saved him from himself last night, had tried to commit suicide. This kid with an already broken arm.. from falling off a tree in the summer... Falling off. It didn’t seem right. Something clicked that hadn’t before. Seen as Jared was currently rambling about nothing like this had ever happened with Evan before, he knew Jared hadn’t placed the pieces together.

“Is he stable?”

“No, his injuries are severe, he was without a pulse a few times in the ambulance and since then too. A guy pulled him from the line. Said he was lucky, a train usually went past there not long after Evan jumped but had been cancelled that day due to a fallen tree on the line. Doesn’t seem to have made that much of a difference , Evan may not make it through the day.” Jared rambled, his talk revealing how worried he was for his ‘not close’ friend.

“Why don’t you go see him?”

Jared paused.

“Well?” Connor asked.

“..I’m scared. I’m scared of seeing him beat to smithereens like that.”

He was about to shout at this kid and then imagined if it was Zoe, he’d be scared of seeing her like that for thinking that it may never be washed away from his mind.

“I’ll go with you.”

“Why would you go?” Now Jared’s tone was unintentionally sharp.

“To thank him when he does wake up. What made sense helped a lot. And to ask some questions.”

A thought occurred to Jared, “What time did he write that letter?”

“Around 1:30pm why?”

Jared went silent a long time before saying, “Besides the solitary ‘I’m sorry’ to his mother that’s the last thing he wrote. That’s his goodbye.”

‘My last letter’ ran through his head and made him nauseous. How had he read it and not realised?

“I think you’re right.”

This boy could die this very day and Connor could have saved him, if only he knew. With that he began walking to the hospital. If Jared would join him, he would follow but realising his mistake in no action he decided to rectify it immediately. Evan had saved him so he was going to make damn sure that he would do everything in his power to do the same.

 

-

Maybe Connor shouldn't have brought Jared. There were things he couldn't say, someone else to be and to top it off Evan looked like the stuff of horrors. He barely knew him and yet every batter and bruise and scar would etch its way into his mind for the rest of his life. He honestly wanted to be sick. Evan's left side of his face had swollen and despite being unconscious, he looked in constant pain.

A part of him wondered if he had gone through with his own thoughts yesterday would he be looking like that.

Despite Evan being a closed book this time, this place, this look truly showed Evan for what he had been feeling for far too long.
Evan had felt beaten by life and now, in a medically induced coma, it showed - not just in his injuries but on his skin and face.

Connor was furious with the feeling of hopelessness.

Maybe it wasn't a good idea they came.

Then he realised the one thing Evan also looked now. And something Evan looked most of the time.
Lonely.

The fury started to simmer as he realised that that lonliness would do the most damage to Evan. Continuous loneliness had been destroying this kid and although he might not consciously know it, that was what Connor could help with.

Evan was wheeled into his intensive care shared room and Connor and Jared went in and sat by him, hoping he'd live, hoping he'd wake but fearing the worst, Connor's signature ripped and damaged and obnoxiously bright amongst all else, still he couldn't regret signing it. His one good deed.

Chapter Text

“How did I not notice this kid was so near the end of his tether?”

“Connor, that’s pretty shitty phrasing considering Evan right now.”

His eyes widened as he realised what Jared meant. 

“Oh shit. No. Sorry.” Connor’s nerves at it caused him to almost stutter. Something he hadn’t done since childhood and was not about to get into old habits now. Connor instead continued, “I mean how did I not know he was going to do something drastic?”

Jared paused a moment before responding, “I don’t know… honestly, I was gonna ask you. But.. you weren’t to know. You barely know him and he gave you a letter - even if he explicitly said ‘I will jump from the bridge tonight’ you don’t know Evan enough to not know it wasn’t a trap. Especially after primary.”

Primary was not something Connor dwelled on if he could help it.

“I would. I don’t know Evan much. But I know him a little and he’s not that type of person.” Connor responded. 

He wondered where Evan’s mum was but saw a coat by his bed that belonged to a mature woman and realised that family would likely be able to sleep near. He didn’t know what age they stopped that kind of thing but Jared had mentioned on the way over Evan’s mum was a nurse.

Jared wanted to let Connor have his space, considering his angry tendencies but he was more full of questions than he had ever been, “So the letter doesn’t say it?”

“No, it says it’s his last letter but he’d only written one before. It was kinda confusing actually. I was going to ask but…” His eyes lingered on Evan’s swollen jaw. He could practically feel the pain and ache through it just looking at it. As he looked over Evan he knew it could have just as easily been him there. Instinctively he rubbed his own jaw.

“There’s something you’re not saying Connor.”

The anger burst through Connor as he hissed, “How about you mind your own goddamn business, Jared?”

Jared let his habit of saying anything he thought win over, “Minding my own damn business is part of why Evan’s here, Connor.”

Anyone else would have calmed and soothed Jared realising his thoughts, Connor simply replied, “Don’t be so stupid, Jared.”

Weirdly enough, this reassured Jared. 

A silence brimmed with tension filled the room until Jared finally said, “I have questions. A lot. But you need to say something. I think I shouldn’t be here to hear it. Just one question.”

“Yeah?”

“Are you two dating?”

“No.”

Jared looked like he was gonna debate the answer then thought the better of it, “I mean, okay.”

With that Jared walked off somewhere, Connor didn’t really care where.

“Evan, you’ll wake up, right? You have to. I have so many questions and.. and a lot to say. I won’t forgive you. Not unless you wake up.” Connor felt like a six year old kid saying something so childishly mean. He wouldn’t be able to forgive anyone if Evan didn’t wake up though, least of all himself. He realised that he was being hypocritical wanting answers from Evan while keeping answers from Jared but he had to try and figure out what Evan would like him to keep private. He wanted to touch him, make sure he was there, still alive under all his injuries but thought of the idea. Evan moved his body slightly in his sleep and Connor felt his heart rise in relief.

He looked at the cast, battered and bruised and his name written and half rubbed off. It looked like a visual representation of Connor saying ‘no, he wouldn’t be his friend’. He couldn’t and wouldn’t allow that. Taking the same pen from his hoodie, he went over his own large handwriting. Then a thought came to him. Gently he turned the cast to some free space and began slowly drawing. Delicately he made a tree that started the palm of his hand and ended on the inner section of his elbow and in much smaller lettering wrote, ‘I promise trees will mean life to you again’.

Trees never meant much to Connor, ever. They did to Evan though. Evan loved them and chose them as his first grave. He hadn’t gone back to his job after ‘his arm broke’ and Connor thought back as he realised he hadn’t seen Evan outside since. It was like he had ruined his own happy place. He knew that, he felt the exact same thing about his own bedroom. It echoed every unhappiness and he found himself staring at the corner where he tried to overdose. He’d see himself there and feel it happen and feel sick to his stomach. But he wouldn’t turn away, wouldn’t stop staring, he’d barely even breathe. He’d just watch the corner as he remembered it all then after hitting reality damn that he no longer had a lock on his door. If he could fix one happy place, maybe that could be a place for him now. He finished the drawing and let Evan’s arm roll back down naturally.

Not much longer, Jared came back tentatively.

“Come in. I’ve said what I need to.” Connor said as Jared looked uncertain. Jared nodded and sat.

“Are you sure you guys aren’t secretly together?” Jared probed.

“I’m sure. You’d think I’d know.” Connor replied casually. Then he asked, “Why do you ask?”

“You went over your name. Pretty symbolic thing. And how much you need to say to a kid who you don’t really know. There’s showing you care late. This isn’t that. Your reaction, it may as well have been Zoe laid there.” Jared replied. Connor didn’t look him in the eyes, he’d been close but no cigar.

“I… I’m going to answer questions Jared. But there are things I want to keep to myself and others that aren’t mine to tell. The best I can tell you right now is he saved my life.”

“When?”

“That’s private, Jared.” Connor answered, the most calm Jared had ever seen or heard him.

Jared was getting ready to ask another question when Evan’s mum made her way down the hall and to her son’s bed. She sat on the edge and patted his purple bruised hand with a softness that seemed unreal.

“Hi Jared. Thank you for being here. And you are?”

Connor was silent a moment before almost sheepishly answering, “I’m Connor.”

The young mother who looked like she’d never sleep again looked him dead in the eye, “The Connor who signed my boy’s cast?”

He nodded, ready to say something. He wasn’t sure what. A loud buzz in the pocket of his hoodie stopped any other thought. He looked at his phone, his mother was calling him and apparently had been off the hook. He wasn’t sure how he hadn’t noticed. He excused himself into the hall and answered the call.

“Connor, where are you?!” His own mother shouted down the phone at him. She didn’t sound angry. She sounded how Evan’s mother looked; devastated and terrified.

Unable to find any other words, he quietly and audibly upset replied, "Hi, mum."

Chapter Text

“Where are you?!” His mum exclaimed down the phone adding, “They said you disappeared at break.”

Connor flinched inside at the word disappear. It seemed wrong at a time like this. On the outside he didn’t react but he thought quietly to himself. What was he even supposed to say.

“The hospital. My.. My friend is seriously hurt.” He managed to say.

Shock was evident as she immediately started saying, “You…”

She stopped. He knew she was going to say ‘you have a friend?’ and suddenly the initial reaction sparked Connor’s fury. He was so angry at his mum. This was not the place for it, though, and his mum immediately stopped what she was asking as she realised her words. So he controlled himself.

Eventually, she began talking again, “I.. I heard a kid had thrown themselves off of the bridge in the last 24 hours but no one would specify when. I was so scared. I’m so sorry about your friend, Con, I really am. Do you need me to bring anything?”

His fury melted. She thought it had been him. Her tears were evident in her speech. She was so hurt and upset and so worried. What was worse is had yesterday gone different her initial assumption would have been correct. Guilt felt like crude oil around his heart. He felt a little sick. 

He looked over at Evan’s broken breath through the window in the door, the struggle of his chest and shuts down any thought of leaving.

A thought occurs to him and he finally replies, “Yeah, could you bring my pad and my art bag.”

That request seems to catch his mum off guard but he doesn’t add anything onto the request so finally she replies, “Yeah, of course I can. Which hospital are you at?”

“I’m in Hanhall in the ICU.” He tells her.

“Okay, I’ll be there soon. Bye. I love you, Connor.”

“See you soon, love you too mum.” 

He hangs up and looks at the phone a moment. That hadn’t been said by either of them in a long time and he didn’t realise how he’d missed it. He shakes his thoughts and looks over at Evan. It was such a surprise to him that someone who was essentially a stranger could mean this much to him but this little, weak guy with a ripped cast and more bruises than to speak of was holding him to this world without doing a god damned thing. 

He’s about to come in when Jared walks out, worry is fraught on his face but he spots Connor and tries to gain some semblance of calm.

“You’re going.”

“Yeah, my mum is a bit cukoo about hospitals - thinks I’ll get illnesses. So she wants me home.”

“You don’t have to if you’re scared about leaving him you know.”

“I know. I.. I feel a bit useless sat beside him though. It feels weird.”

Connor pauses and takes a moment to think over Jared’s words. He doesn’t feel it himself but in a time like this he should at least try and put himself in someone’s shoes. Finally he nods and realises he’s in Jared’s way, moving to the side. Jared looks like he’s about to ask Connor something as he passes, he seems to think better of it. He gets two steps away when Jared thinks better once more and turns, asking, “You’ll be here when I get back, won’t you?”

Connor knows the weight of what Jared’s asking. He’s asking whether Connor will actually leave. He won’t. So Connor replies, “Yeah, I’ll be here. More stoic than statues, I am.”

Jared nods, “Good. Evan needs and deserves someone to keep by him. Heidi’s going to have to work soon, and she knows it. You’re a good man, Connor Murphy.”

That was something Connor didn’t think he ever heard. He wasn’t. He hurt a lot of people and, and… “No, I’m not. I’m complex, Jared. We all are. Maybe I’m just not… all bad.”

“You’re not high.” 

It wasn’t a question but a statement - still he replied, “Sober as a tack. But Evan needs to know he’s not alone. That he matters. Letting that knowledge go is what left Evan here.”

Jared’s eyes widened and he took a double-take at what Connor had said. Letting go seemed too familiar but he couldn’t place why. With a quick nod he headed home trying to figure out why it seemed familiar.

Connor walked inside and sat on the spare seat.

“So you’re Connor..”

Oh boy, a lot of talking today.

“Yeah.”

“Did my boy say anything to you before he..?.” Evan’s mum asked, trailing off, looking back at her son, “I didn’t know things were so bad.”

He thought a moment of what was the appropriate thing to tell her.

“Well, Evan’s mum..”

“Heidi.”

“Well, Heidi, Evan and I..” Connor’s throat closed up. He looked at Evan, how was he ever supposed to say what happened? Such an argument over a letter. Evan was such a nervous wreck, when he woke the last thing he would want was that anyone would know about it. How was he supposed to say in the space of a couple of hours that he’d changed from barely more than strangers to being his hero?

“Please, Connor. My boy, did this - I need to know why. Anything would help.”

“He… um.” His face felt hot from the upset but he didn’t look anywhere besides Evan’s face, “We argued. I thought he was painting me out as a.. a freak. But he wasn’t. He … He said he was sorry and that he forgave me… I never knew I needed that… Honestly? .. I don’t know why Evan tried to… But for what he did before that, that day, he’s my hero.”

Finally, against all of Connor’s usual instincts, he let the tears fall. Connor for all his anger let out a tear or two every so often, learning to fight off angry tears as a child. Right now he may be a little angry at the situation but they weren’t angry tears nor any other time than the crying of a broken-down kid.

Heidi took a double take. This young man sat beside her had started sobbing and ducked his head, covering most of his face with his hair. She almost expected him to hide the rest of his face behind his hands but he didn’t. He held his own hand and silently cried.

She sighed and rubbed his arm. At this moment she had ran out of tears but while being scared for his life she couldn’t be more proud of her boy. Evan had helped someone, he was someone’s hero besides hers, he found a social situation where he had done the right thing. It had to make this Connor very special indeed. But whatever had gone downhill in Evan’s mind to drive him to… she didn’t want to think on it. But whatever had been it - she could tell in her heart that it couldn’t have been to do with this young man or their fallout. It seems to her that had he been there he would have moved heaven and earth to stop that happening. But no amount of guilt was going to have allowed them to go back and be there. She knew that as the guilt wrecked her too. Her mind questioned if there was something her son hadn’t told her not only by these feelings but others too. But shushed it as she awaited the nurse. 

A nurse arrived not long later and told them Evan would be stable soon and all things going well he’d come out of this with a few healing bones and a few scars, the deepest of which was one on his leg and another above his ear, following his hairline. She nodded and admitted she couldn’t imagine her son with scars. It seemed Connor couldn’t either because it was the first times he’d looked up from Evan.He apparently could imagine it or had finally zoned in because it actually made him softly smile.

He heard the door again and turned to see his mother standing at the door.

He excused himself and walked him and his mum out into the hall.

“Connor, you’ve been crying.” She sounded shocked. 

She didn’t know Evan but she was shocked he’d cried at all. But, had he been told he’d ever cry over stuttering, shy Evan Hansen he’d have been shocked too. As it was, he knew what lead him here so he simply give a short laugh, “Yeah, I know.”

As he stood out in the hall he angled that he could keep an eye out on Evan as if he could see him, he could keep him safe. He wondered if his mum noticed.

Chapter Text

Of course his mother noticed. But despite this, a word never passed their lips about it.

“Here’s your stuff. But I have to tell you visiting hours are over soon Connor.”

A pit of dread dropped his stomach. If it was non-visiting hours when Evan woke there’d be no way to let Evan know he’s there. He’d never know. He thought on persuading people to letting him stay. Heidi would help... But that only happened in straight-to-TV films his mum frequently watched. It didn’t happen in real life. It definitely didn't happen with someone who wasn’t your family.

--

Cynthia awaited her son’s response. She knew this. He would be wide-eyed like a deer then work himself into a frenzy. It was like a tornado when it happened. Destroying all in its path. Until recently, she would call it a child’s temper tantrum but after she saw her daughter shaking through tears she knew while he hadn’t done physical damage, it wasn’t for lack of trying.
She realised something that day.

Zoe was scared of Connor.

And more that.
She wasn’t the only one.
Connor was scared of Connor.

That one had took a much longer time to understand. A couple of months in fact. They’d all had photo-shoots, earlier in the year not long after his .. attempt... and as soon as they had a framed photo of him did he steal it from the room and watch it burn in his bin. She had told him off thoroughly for that but spent the rest of the night thinking how her son looked so angry with the photo and sighed in relief as he watched it burn. It had become clear in that moment that Connor didn't like himself much. The fire was the spark that began to open her eyes to her son not just being a little boy with an explosive fuse but long patience. He was a young man with a very serious temper problem and no friends.

Something was wrong with her boy and she, even now, was having hard time not taking it personally.

--

Connor nodded after a few moments and said, “I’m just going to have to do something else then... Can you pick me up after? I want to talk.”

She had looked shocked at the question. It made Connor feel a little sick that it was that different and unproductively made him want to not talk.

Cynthia was shocked. She had a lot to do right now, she had to run about for her daughter’s coat and pick up her husbands suit and shop for groceries... But Connor hadn’t ‘wanted to talk’ for years. He cut himself off in a way unrivalled during his mid-teens.

Before he could say anything, she gathered her wits, “Oh, yeah. Of course sweetie. I’ll wait downstairs in the coffee shop across.”

He watched his mum walk to the stairs and go and suddenly he realised what Jared had been feeling sitting by Evan. Caring.. wanting to do or say something, but nothing feeling right. He looked at Evan. Facing Evan wasn’t as scary as facing his mother, which was saying something considering the current condition of Evan’s face. It made Connor smile, maybe he’d tell that to him when he woke up.

Walking in, he seemed to trade places with Heidi who excused herself to get home so she could get ready for work. His temper boiled as he knew she had no choice. She wouldn’t sleep, she didn’t have the money to take off time to stay by her son. She had to work overtime to keep them above water. She saw his anger with nowhere to go and patted his arm as she passed.

He knew she wasn’t to blame. It was a faulty system that was making her jump through hoops to stay afloat. But he was so angry, why should she have no choice? He wanted to jump about and break everything. She was far gone by the time he found a pencil. His mind thought over her having to manage with no time or sleep while worrying about her son as he broke his pencil in half with a loud snap. It wasn’t enough to truly make him calm but it was soothing. He ripped the parts off of it. He wanted to let off so much more but reckoned this would be enough until the half hour ended.

Then he remembered what he wanted to do. He ripped half a page out and began to write. That hurt the artist in him, he had asked for his art stuff to make art for Evan not to rip up his blank pages. He paused. In that moment a nurse came in to tell him he had 10 minutes left. Connor resolved to do the new plan as quick as possible. So, with messy handwriting and a new drive he wrote, “Hi, Evan. If you’re waking alone, know we aren’t far. You are not alone, I promise. I promise I know what it’s like and I won’t let you be alone again. Please hold on. Sincerely, Connor Murphy.”

Signing off felt like signing off his own death warrant, it was admitting everything he needed to in a few simple words and when Evan was okay again he could destroy him with it. He looked into his bag and saw Evan’s letters. He knew then that this gut-wrenching feeling is exactly what he felt- when Connor had walked away with the letter. He felt he deserved this for making Evan feel like that.

He put the letter down on Evan’s table with only the words, “to Evan” to ward off unwanted eyes. It felt dumb, of course someone would look and make Connor pay and he would deserve it. Connor only hoped that whoever did had the decency to know Evan needed this letter and to at least let him read it too.

Feeling nauseous from what he had done and what was yet to do he walked away.

The lift doors closed before Connor let any emotion out. But as soon as they did he threw his hardest punch to the closest wall, yelling. He attacked it with everything he had; screaming, punching, kicking, clawing, yelling. He kept attacking every wall, ignoring the pain hitting an immovable object was causing him. It was red and a blur and all he would remember was knowing he was bleeding and that that didn't matter. There was just so much wrong, why did he even bother? If Evan died in the next couple of hours what would he have done besides hurt himself. He walked from one wall then with a fury unknown turned and kicked the wall so hard the lift stopped. Everything finally gained colour and he calmed and for a moment he wondered if he broke the lift. A small ding indicated the door opening however and he walked out. Letting the emotion out he couldn’t tell if he felt better or felt numb. But for now, that didn’t matter either, he had something to say.

He found his mum sat with a latte in the coffee shop close-by, he ordered a hot chocolate and sat across from his mum cradling it.

“So, you have a friend.”

“Mum, please don’t. I...” He paused, recomposing, “..I want to get help. I want a new doctor who will take my issues seriously and I want to see what anti-psychotics I could take.”

“Anti-psychotics?” His mum replied. She had intended to be helpful but her defences came running up at his request, “Connor there’s nothing...”

“Yes mum, there is. There is definitely something wrong with me. This isn’t some "keep calm and carry on" shit. I’m a danger to everyone continuing this. I’m a danger to me!” He explained angrily. He knew something had got through cos she didn’t get flustered about him making a scene.

“I wish I hadn’t have failed you, Connor. I’m sorry that your anger is...” She tailed off, feeling ashamed.

“What? Mum. It’s not your fault.” Connor replied, he couldn’t understand why she’d possibly be ashamed. She didn’t say anything so he continued, “There’s something wrong with the wiring of my brain. Whether this is while I grow or for a certain amount of time or for life the simple fact is that this anger problem is here; and only getting worse. It’s nothing you have done, ever. Nor dad. Nor Zoe. Nor even the doctor who won’t fucking listen to me. But it needs to change, so I’m going to change it.”

Cynthia considered it a moment and spotted his knuckles bleeding. Something about seeing it made her realise that it shouldn’t be common for her to see that.

“Okay, Connor. You’re right.” She didn’t elaborate further or even mention changing anything ,she simply nodded. She didn’t need to though. He realised this meant she was on board with change. He sighed in relief, he thought he’d go insane before he’d get them to consider taking his anger as a serious problem with professional help to change. Feeling just a little bit lighter, he took a sip of his hot chocolate.

Chapter Text

Home was like a dollhouse; perfect and pristine and oh so breakable.

Even just trying to be calm he could feel the place put him on edge. Something had been discussed about him without him there. He could feel it. Everything was a little more shiny, happy people than normal. Normal was still far too much.

He wanted to do this right though so he made his way to the kitchen and cleaned his bleeding hand. He almost asked his mum to wrap it and then realised he didn’t want it wrapped. Didn’t want it hidden. He did that enough and he was tired of it.

He sat down at the table and the world seemed to rush around him, moment after moment, time passed by.

Zoe sat as far away from him as she could. He tried to push the nausea about that down. His dad didn’t care where he sat, his mum brought in a lasagna that she had managed to perfect over the years. He referred to it as the ‘bad conversation lasagna’. Zoe looked up straight at Connor in questioning. She must not have been part of the conversation she quickly looked over everyone in a ‘well, who’s got something to say’ look. Connor’s fingers played with his sleeve and she knew it was him. She wasn’t sure what to say to push it so, for a moment, no one said anything.

“You weren’t at school today.” Larry said, cutting up some of the lasagna to portion.

“Shocker.” Zoe grumbled and Connor actually snorted. As any brother and sister while everything else could be wrecked sometimes a united front against non-siblings brought them close.

“Would you care to explain why?” Larry’s voice gave an edge, like someone who was tired of being concerned.

“Yeah, sure. I was at the hospital.” He replied, so matter-of-fact, that it shocked them.

“What?” Both Larry and Zoe said. Connor took a breath and tried to stay calm. It made him want to get defensive but he scratched the inside of his palm bloody under the table instead.

“A kid.. That I know. Threw himself off of a bridge yesterday.” He managed to reply.

His dad seemed concerned about this kid. Did he act like this last time? When it was him? Or did he act as he seemed to when he got back? Angry at Connor’s failure.

In fact, everyone’s reaction made him want to throw the table.

“Evan.. Evan Hansen?” Zoe asked slowly, “What does Evan Hansen to do with you?”

The slight accusation behind her voice boiled his blood and the rage that grew made him throw any and every thought of making it up to her. He wanted to fight and he wanted to fight now. How dare she? Like it was his fault. Like he didn’t worry about that himself. Then he thought about Evan laying there and Evan’s letter to him. Remembered he wasn’t but that Evan needed him to be more than him, right now. If it cost him the rest of his control, he’d do it. One good deed earned another after all.

“Because I was the last person to see him alive... I signed his cast, it was just empty y’know. So, I signed his cast." He murmured. He wasn’t sure what else to say. What else was there to say? He argued with him? He shouted at him? That he had a letter that talked about Zoe? Evan wouldn’t want people knowing and Zoe wouldn’t be the better for knowing.

Even telling Zoe just that much though, seemed to affect her. She looked down and the table might as well have been Evan’s cast. He could see her remembering it on her face. How he had nearly asked and she had walked away. She had to get to class and she had rushed but she knew he was about to say something. Evan nearly said things a lot. People were used to leaving before he was done because sometimes he just wouldn’t manage it and life must continue moving. It was so regular she barely thought of it. But then he had... Zoe looked at Connor. Connor had given Evan the time of day. Connor had signed his cast and she had walked away. Why would that be?

“Why?” She asked quietly.

“What?”

“Why did you, when no one else had?”

“Cos it says something.” He almost gritted his teeth, “He needed a friend. Even if it was just pretend. Even if it was just a word. Someone needs to care when you hurt yourself. On purpose or not.”

Larry nearly choked on his glass of water. His mum looked at Connor almost upset. There was no almost on Zoe though. He didn’t want to look at the rest of his family and she had asked. For the first moment in a very long time it seemed that they truly saw one another. Finally Connor let a tear drop and simply looked down. He didn’t have the courage to look at his sister. He tried to be good but he could be a monster to her.

“It’s such a shame the poor kid felt he had no way out. Like he’s broken.” Larry said.

Connor didn’t know if Larry meant that as a reach out to him or was blatantly ignoring Connor had felt this 6 months ago. The latter was enough to grip his glass with the intent of throwing it across the room.

A smaller, confident, healthy voice spoke inside of him, sounding like a brave Evan, “Tell him then.”

Throwing his caution to the wind, he looked to his father and smiled calmly, “Yeah, awful. So I have decided to make sure he doesn’t feel like that again. His mum works a lot, I’m going to make sure I’m there. And I’ve also decided to get my own help, there is group therapy on Thursdays. Don’t expect me here at 7... And I want to change my doctor to someone who takes me seriously.”

“Yeah, of course.” Larry replied. That was easier than thought. Larry then added, “Cynthia, we need to go through Connor’s room when we’re done. He’s obviously high and must be on something strong if he thinks I’m gonna let him out drug taking under the guise of group therapy. You do not get to cash in on another kid’s pain, that’s horrible.”

Larry believed that’s what he was going to do. He almost couldn’t blame his dad.

His fury had been really tried at that dinner though and finally, without so much as another word he threw the glass to his left, where it hit counter and shattered. The sound alone was music to his ears.

Larry looked at Connor in the eyes now.

There was an honesty that had surprised Larry but Connor was too far gone, “You want it, fine. I nearly threw myself off the school, dad. I nearly looked for a gun in these four walls last night. Helping Evan kept me alive last night and I wouldn’t have made the same mistake as 6 months. I wanted help. I didn’t want help yesterday. Now I will get help. I don’t care if you never get promoted because you have a broken son.”

“You’re not broken, Connor.” Larry replied, he had been horrified up until then but of course the magic words made the defence come up, “You’re going through a hard time right now. You’re very angry because you’re growing. You’re calling out for attention because you don’t think you get it. You get more attention than anyone. Everyone has a hard time and grows out of it. You’ve lost control and need a little back.”

Zoe spoke up then, “No, dad. No. I know you don’t want to hear it but there is a problem with Connor.”

Cynthia nearly spoke up.

“Yes. There is.” Connor agreed.

“But,” Zoe added, “I didn’t know that Connor recognised it. I didn’t know why I wouldn’t. He tried to kill himself. He’s just told us he was about to try again. He scares me. He obviously scares himself. He damages stuff and himself. He lashes out. People usually get help for this, dad. And it starts with trusting him. Right or wrong, that’s where we start.”

Larry looked over them all, his eyes finally drew to Connor’s knuckles on the hand on the table, bloody from earlier. Behind them, his hoodie had moved up slightly and he could see the scars on Connor’s wrists. His stomach turned. It was surprising just how much the sight made everything fresh.

“Okay. Okay, fine. Connor. You have to understand you have never made it easy for us to trust or believe you. You lied about the drugs and the grades and where you were. You lied about it all. You flew off the handle. But, I should have recognised that you aren’t okay. There’s a reason you needed that attention but nearly losing my job and keeping this house came first ...and it shouldn’t have.”

Now it felt like unneccessary guilt, “Of course the house should come first, I just...”

“No, it shouldn’t Connor. There are other houses and other jobs and other ways of living. You’re not blameless but neither am I. We’re not alike or maybe we’re too alike.. But just because I don’t see eye to eye with you shouldn’t mean I stop you from it. I think of it as my money... and it is. But it’s your life. I had to bury my little brother. I never understood. I can’t say I do now. But you and Zoe do. But I will learn. I will not be burying you.” Larry replied. There was a silence, he was trying to say something else but unsure how and Connor could see that. Larry finally added, “You’ve lost control, we don’t take the wheel and drive your route, we let you drive and learn again.”

There’s a silence that takes over the room. Larry rests his hand on Connor’s and pats. Usually someone would move away but no one does so he simply pats and continues eating.

“Dad, that’s a really weird analogy.” Zoe says after a few bites.

Larry smiles, “Yeah, I wondered if it made sense. But we’ll go with it all the same.”

Connor smiled and continued eating. It felt horrible but he was glad to have done it.

-

The next morning he was up with everyone else. Zoe tapped him on the shoulder and indicated to the car. He wasn’t going to school but he got in all the same.

“I’m not..”

“I know. You’re ill and I’ll pick up your work.” She replied. God, his sister could be a saint sometimes. When she wasn’t being a git, of course, but what else were sisters for?

“So where are we going?”

“Shop. We’ll pick up a get well soon card and I will have anyone in a mile radius sign it.”

“Yeah. I’ll get flowers too. You get flowers for people who are poorly don’t you?” Had Connor been a more shy person he’d have played with his sleeve, he didn’t though.

Zoe looked at him in the corner of her eye, “He means a lot to you, huh? I didn’t think you got on.”

“No one gets on with me. He usually would just keep in the background. He took my backpack by accident once and I yelled. And then, the day before yesterday, you were there for a bit... He does mean a lot to me. I wish I was” He paused, “Better.”

She gasped instinctively, “Wow.”

“I’ve been shit to you. I wanted to promise you I’d never be that person. To apologise when I know I can’t anymore. I ruined that.”

“I’m glad. You can’t promise that so I’d never hear it, Connor. It’s a stupid promise,” She laughed and he was hurt until she added, “You can only promise to try... We’ve got a lot to learn about each other for a pair who’ve lived with each other for our lives haven’t we?”

“Yeah. We didn’t make it easy for each other though did we? Heightened sibling rivalry, a superiority complex and serious temper issues. That’s a constant ticking time bomb.”

“Who’s the superiority complex?” She asked, gasping.

“You, gods, you.” He laughed heartily, he didn’t even realise he hadn’t done that in a while.

They looked through the store and picked sweets and a card and looked through flowers. There was ones of sunflowers and lillies but they reminded him of death. He thinks his mum told him that once. Finally he saw a pick your own. He picked up a few, a couple of white flowers.

“Are those roses?”

“No,” He read it slowly, “Gardenias, apparently.”

Then picked a couple of taller flowers to go with it, they had a few on, heather, and some leaf-looking ones - Evan liked trees and the florist pointed at leaves that went with most bouquets - and Zoe said you always had baby’s breath. It looked like a mess. But each flower looked happy and lovely and didn’t remind him of funerals and hoped Evan would think they looked lively too.

The florist looked at him with an ‘are you sure’ and when he nodded only smiled sweetly and made quick work of tying it up.

Zoe noticing the time, zoomed off to the hospital.

“Do you want to give him the card from you? He’d like it.”

“He’d like it from you too. You get on more.” He smiled.

“ Barely,” She smiled, “But me and everyone in a mile radius.”

“I think it’ll mean the world to him to know he’s not forgotten.”

A seriousness crossed Zoe’s face and then she smiled and nodded. Connor got his stuff and got out the car.

“The flowers will mean the world to him too. You don’t need to mean a lot to the world when you mean the world to someone else.” She winked and without hearing anything else drove off. Connor cursed her ability to have the last word. Then he walked into the hospital entrance and asked for Evan instructing he was in the ICU.

“Oh no, he’s not in there now.” The receptionist said and paused for what Connor would call far too long, “He’s stable with lack of risk into needing resuscitation so he’s been moved over to Anaesthetics Ward until they have further investigations of his pain and decide the next place.”

Gathering his courage he found his way and found his room. He didn’t know why he felt like this. Like he could be sick. Evan looked way better. Not recovered but the swelling had gone down and his face looked more like him. Maybe that’s why. He threw the thought away and walked in and sat beside him. His letter was there. Someone had moved it for him. Evan’s mum, a nurse, a cleaner, he wasn’t sure but he was definitely thankful. He smiled as he thought of Evan reading it. Knowing someone cared. He placed the flowers down and no sooner had he Evan’s eyes opened. He wasn’t sure what to say.

“Morning.” Evan’s voice was gruff but his actual voice hid underneath.

“Hi.”

“Thanks for the letter. I asked if I could keep it with me.” It pained Evan to smile, Connor could tell. But he smiled nonetheless. As the words sunk in Connor could have been ill with nerves. For once Connor knew what it felt like to be Evan, lost for words and ready to run instead of doing anything. He didn’t though. He wouldn’t. He smiled back.

“Have you seen your arm?” He replied.

“Yeah, doubt it can get more broken than last time.” He said and Connor couldn’t help but laugh. Leaning over he tapped on the inside where he had drawn and waited while Evan looked.

This was going to be a long day... But he could do a long day. Evan was stable; He could take a day that lasted for forever.

Chapter Text

Evan’s eyes scanned over the cast and he pursed his lips to stop them from quivering. He nodded quickly and tried to pretend he didn’t notice the tears escaping his eyes.

“I… Thank you, Connor.” He spoke softly, his voice broken but the smile was undeniable. He kept his eyes on the message, “Connor?”

“Yeah?”

“The… um… message. Do… you…?”

“Do I know?” He finished for Evan. Evan slowly nodded. Connor took a moment to find the right words, nodding as he replied, “Yes Evan. Someone mentioned you falling again and I just knew. It, it reminded me of around 6 months where I ‘collapsed in the bath’.”

His eyes widened as Evan thought back to when he had heard that. The jigsaw pieces fit into place and he knew too. Takes one to know one. He looked Connor dead in the eyes and tried to bring himself to ask the question. He opened his mouth to ask the question but didn’t get that far as saying a letter before Connor confirmed.

“Yeah, Evan. But less of that now. I brought you something.” He replied and took out the flowers of a bag and handed them over to him. The tears fell freely then. The questioning showed on his face, so Connor answered, “They’re from me. I picked them out. They’re… not any type of design or style… but they’re all what I thought you would like.”

“Wow, Connor. You didn’t need to.”

“I know. I just wanted to.”

He seemed to examine every single one, after realising Evan would be a while Connor took out his drawing notepad and started outlining the main features of Evan’s face onto the paper.

Evan laughed to himself a moment and Connor hummed back encouragingly without looking up. Evan muttered, “Two bros chilling in a hospital, 5 feet apart cos they’re not gay.”

Connor had to bite his tongue to not laugh at the aged meme and instead replied, “Don’t call me that again.”

He said it a lot more curtly than he had meant to but before he began to explain himself Evan asked, confused, “What? ‘Bros’? I know we’re not close but it is just a term of endearment but if you want.”

“Not that. Not gay.” He answered back.

At first Evan seemed confused, “What? You’re not gay or you’re not, not gay? Which is to say you are gay?”

Connor was almost disappointed the joke hadn’t landed until he heard Evan’s last sentence and looked up to see his coy smile. Connor rolled his eyes and tried to bite down his smile, “The last one.”

“You have a great smile.” Evan said and then almost like he’d only just noticed he said it out loud he quickly averted his gaze to the flowers. Connor laughed in response and spared a glance at Evan before continuing with his sketch.

“So do you.” Connor mumbled and continued drawing. It was comfortably quiet and soon enough a nurse brought Evan some food which kept him from starting to become conscious of the quiet and talk his own ears off. It gave Connor the right time to draw too, he’d barely glance up for a second when he thought he wouldn’t be noticed.

Around an hour later, Connor was finished and Evan was playing with the stuff on his tray and laughing to himself. He nearly resolved to leave him to his own devices but Evan noticed him finally looking up properly and gave Connor a nervous smile. Connor nearly choked on air at the smile and found he didn’t know what to say for a few seconds.

“I.. uh, I finished.” Connor felt ridiculous, he didn’t usually stutter, Evan did. Evan didn’t seem to notice though as he instantly lit up.

“May I see?” He asked, a little louder than intended. He was so excited however that he didn’t seem to notice. Without really thinking about it, he handed it over to him and as he looked down at his pencil it occurred to him he hadn’t been this calm in a while. It was as if Evan brought a safer nervousness to his life. The type where he’d lose his words instead of his temper. Part of Connor knew however that this wasn’t so. Maybe it was part of it but he also knew he was in a calmer situation than usual - that required him to keep his head. Had the situation and the surroundings not exuded their own calm Connor would have doubted his ability to do it. But all were players in the calmness of Connor. His focus left from himself to Evan who was taking in every detail of his quick sketch with darting eyes and a soft smile.

“What do you think?”

“I love it. It… It reminds me that someone knows I’m here. Like it matters that I’m here, y’know?” Evan murmured.

Connor couldn’t help the tears that came to his eyes. He should have expected it really, he felt it often enough – that it didn’t matter that he was here and that no one really knew he was there if he wasn’t enraged and no one wanted him here. To hear someone else say those feelings out loud though, he bundled his ribbed section of his hoodie close to the hands and wiped his eyes with them. Finally he found the words, “Of course it matters you’re here Evan. Those letters have changed my life. Have saved my life. But even before then. It mattered you were here, alive and safe and I’m sorry the world has made us feel this way and I’m sorry any time I have made you feel this way. You matter when you’re out there too. Hell, they’re filling in a card for you right now with the people who miss you. Even Jared feels awful you felt like this and he never knew.”

“What?”

“Yeah.” Connor didn’t really know what to add.

“Jared was here? In a hospital?” Evan exclaimed, by the surprise in his voice apparently Jared coming to a hospital had been a bigger thing than he had thought. He had looked dreadfully nerved the entire time but it was hard to tell if it was because Evan’s face looked like he’d been laying underneath a lorry.

“Yeah, man. I told him to go home. He seemed real on edge.”

Evan couldn’t help but laugh despite knowing how easily Connor could take offence – but the irony of a guy with anger management issues saying rile-up nothings-serious-besides-phobias Jared looked ‘on edge’. It just tickled him in exactly the right place. With laughing, he found, came pain and a serious slightly annoyed look from Connor that essentially translated to ‘that’s your own comeuppance’. Evan shrugged sheepishly and changing the topic asked, “Who’s signing the card? Barely anyone in school knows I exist.”

“You’re not as invisible as you think, Evan. Plus you’re wild news since extreme measures aren’t really an every day occurrence. But Zoey’s making sure everyone who signs it knows you properly. I’m sure.” He answered, almost reluctant to say Zoey’s name.

“Zoey?” He asked, lighting up. There was why. Connor wasn’t sure what he felt for Evan. He was sure Evan felt something for Zoey though. The schoolboy crush had been clear for a while. It was part of why he was so mad that he got mad at the letter. It was mostly harmless, Evan’s like was infatuation and Zoey seemed to like him but she didn’t seem interested in anyone. For someone who was so interested in love it surprised him that she didn’t really crush on anyone. So why did it feel like he was gut punched with how Evan said her name?

The bubble of calm shattered silently and he tried to hide his balling fists out of Evan’s line of sight. He would never do anything after all, he knew that even as the illusion shattered. It was a new surprise. For such a hurricane knowing for a certainty he wouldn’t hit something specific was a step in the right direction. Yet he wanted to leave. So much for saying he could take a long day.

As he nodded the door opened and both boys looked towards it.

Chapter Text

Zoey and Jared walked in looking abit nervous and trying not to stare at his injuries. Connor quickly did his best to uncurl his fists and smile at them both. Even to him it felt unnatural so he let it drop into a neutral but calm expression as they sat around him. He was scared of looking at Evan a moment, expecting that he was making doe-eyes at Zoe.

However, he wasn’t. Evan gave her a smile then looked questioningly at Connor. Despite knowing he couldn’t see his fists he felt a little embarrassed. For a moment he couldn’t make eye contact with him and he looked at his hands as Zoe and Jared sat down. When Connor looked back up again Evan had gone back to taking his time to appreciate Connor’s drawing of him. Lightly, barely brushing, his finger traced just off the edge of his face on the drawing then looked at Connor who finally caught his eye and gave a smile, feeling a little calmer.

Evan was surprised, not long ago he felt so much for Zoe, his first school boy crush. He had a few but he couldn’t shake the crush on Zoe… so why was she not the one who’s smile he was addicted to?

Connor really was a talented artist, he hoped to have that picture at some point; although maybe not in front of other visitors. He gave them both a nod although it hurt to do so then turned his head as much as he could, to Jared.

“Hey, Jared. Are you gonna be okay here?”

“Yeah man. It freaks me out but like not knowing what’s going on is just weird.”

“Alright, long as you’re sure.”

“Yeah, it’s cool. You want a sweet?” He said reaching into his bag. Both Zoe and Connor shared a glance of confusion as to why both Jared and Evan were so relaxed and so calm when Evan had never have been either of those ever and Jared had been very afraid of hospitals for a while now. Even as someone who would try and take permitted time off at any given possibility he had never dared to risk a hospital visit and not just because of the bills.

Evan took a few sweets and sneaked eating them unsure he was allowed.

They seemed to all talk for a while but Connor preferred to observe them. Evan loved the card and he tried not to look over it again and again. Connor was trying to shake off Evan’s reaction – it made him feel weird. He felt ecstatic and then disappointed that he had felt ecstatic because why would he possibly. As he made his way to the toilet he took a nurse to the side and asked her to contact Evan’s mum. Maybe he would be mad or upset but whether or not he had her details he couldn’t do that to her. He knew how much it killed her he was here in the first place. The nurse made quick work of it and by the time he was going back they had said they left a message. He thanked them for the kindness and headed back in.

Evan was watching him, he hoped beside not helping his own cause today that soon Evan may simply trust him. He felt odd that he felt torn. Did he deserve to be trusted if he did what he knew would scare and upset him? He couldn’t help it though, he’d never forgive himself to not tell Heidi. Heidi wouldn’t not tell him.

Another 10 minutes passed and Connor almost forgot. Then the door opened and Evan suddenly choked on his breath.

How would his mum act? What was he supposed to say or do?

If he could have got up and walked away until he could figure out what to say. There was no use for it now though.

Now he would just have to deal with the blows as they came.

Chapter Text

All 4 sat there still as a rush of silence settled over. For once, Evan wasn’t sure what to say. He saw his mum take long hours, bad hours, barely be home – but he had never seen her like this.

No one had ever seen Heidi as worn down as this before and Connor got up to offer his seat upon seeing her face.

The others didn’t know to expect her so the whole scene shrouded in silence as she walked in. Connor guiltily looked at Evan but Evan’s eyes wouldn’t leave his mother – honestly the shock didn’t allow reason to remember that someone would have had to tell her he was awake.

Evan’s face was a picture in itself – such an open book in that moment and the concern, guilt and fear was so evident that Connor almost regretted calling. Then Heidi grabbed Evan’s hand and all of a sudden he didn’t regret it at all. She looked so relieved that he was in one piece. The questions stuck in her throat and no one knew what to say.

So quiet it was nearly unheard, Heidi murmured in a broken voice, “I’m sorry.”

Shock rattled them all. Why was she apologising? Evan did a double-take, “What?”

“I’m sorry I’ve been so busy. I haven’t… been there, Evan. I…” She slowly spoke through tears. By the reactions Evan hadn’t even slightly expected that to be in the realm of what was said and he would have preferred if she’d have shouted at him about worrying her.

“No. Mum. I never said. I’d said I’d say and I didn’t. This was never in any way your fault. I wish you were home more, of course, but you’re my hero. I wouldn’t keep you from your dream.” He placed his other hand on top of hers.

It apparently became a switch for Heidi who responded, “Yes, you said you’d say. How come you didn’t? I told you to keep me up to date!”

Evan’s face flooded with relief as his mum became back to normal. He didn’t know how to answer though. His mouth opened and closed a lot and he seemed to be getting more confused.

Finally, Connor decided to tell the truth, “It’s my fault.”

All 4 sets of eyes looked up at him and in unison Evan and Heidi replied, “Don’t be so silly.”

“But I was angry, we argued, I made it worse.” Connor explained.

Evan tilted his head as he looked up at him, “You really think that?”

What Connor was going to say was ‘well, duh’ but frankly Evan’s eyes on him made him speechless. So he simply nodded.

“No. I… I’m sorry, Connor. Don’t blame yourself like that. I didn’t say because it was only when I got to school did I know it was too much. I knew I could have gone home but I spiralled. All of a sudden it felt like I had no safety net and that I would fuck up my future and I saw my life spanned out with unfortunate circumstances, being nothing but a hindrance and squandering away my chance to help you get your dream and when I stopped thinking about that I was on the bridge and it just… it felt like a sign. A glowing exit above the door, a quick death to stop a slow one so to speak.”

For a solid minute no one spoke. Unable to think of what to say when Zoey finally said, “Fuck signs. They’re shit. We’re glad you’re still here.”

Heidi finally nodded. She understood, she always understood her son. She knew it had been hard on him with his arm and had begun to doubt it being just a fall, she knew as a training nurse that it felt like failing one thing was failing everything. She began wondering if it was a family thing when Jared talked.

“Yeah, Evan. We’re glad you’re here. Your dumbass should know you have friends.” Jared tried to smile lightly, Evan’s snort of laughter made it worth it.

“I do… now.” He replied after his laugh subsided. He paused for a moment, then looked pointedly at his mother, “Mum. I have something to tell you.”

Connor felt his insides go cold. What would he tell her? That Connor had shouted at him? That he was intimidating and had an anger problem and he wanted him to leave? That he was into Zoe? That he was dating Zoe? That Jared had been arsey to him? That this hadn’t been the first time he’d tried? What had happened with the tree?

It seemed his mum was unaffected by any of these thoughts confidently nodding her son to go on as if she knew what he was going to say. He felt a little sick at the thought of her reaction once he told her, his mind spiralled as to which it would be.

All the while, Evan stuttered.

“I… I, I, Mum, I…”

“Yes, Evan. Tell me.” She whispered encouragingly with a smile.

He pressed his lips together. It was now or never.

“Mum, I’m… into a lot of people. Regardless of… well, everything really.” He explained as best he could. He wasn’t sure how else to phrase it. He barely realised he’d closed his eyes as he said it and when he opened them the smile he saw on his mum’s face told him she knew, she’d been waiting for him. He was glad of that, of all the things she usually forced out of him, she hadn’t pressured that – she’d allowed that to be his thing.

He was glad that the others didn't tell her, conveniently forgetting that neither Zoe nor Connor knew, who quite frankly were sat there in shock. They thought on their own impending talks with family members, caught each others eye and let realisation dawn with a silent 'oh'. They'd have to talk about this later. Their focus went back to Evan who didn't seem to notice anything and Heidi even less so. She had been waiting to let him explain but when he didn't she nodded once more, happily.

“Thank you for telling me baby.” She replied quietly and gave him a hug. “So, anyone here?”

All eyes widened immediately and set on Heidi, being it the wrong question to ask. With the stares on her she got the wrong side of the stick too.

“All of them? Evan, no. They’re siblings, that’s gross.”

That seemed to crack the ice sufficiently and all of them burst into laughter.

“Thank you, mum. I should have told you a while ago.”

“All in due time, dear.” She patted his hand.

Chapter Text

Connor wasn’t sure what to say. Did this mean he had a chance? He shook off the thought, now wasn’t the time to be thinking of that. Now was a time to be happy for Evan.

Part of him, while he wouldn’t admit it out loud, was a little sad that he hadn’t told him when Connor had came out to him but as could be seen on Evan’s now relieved face – it was incredibly important he told his mother first. His happiness was infectious to Connor.

How could he ever be mad, sad or anything other than delighted in the presence of that smile?

Suddenly, the door opened and everybody jumped out of their skin. A tall woman - who looking extremely uncomfortable but also concerned for Evan - made her way over to them.

“Mum?!” Jared exclaimed, very surprised she was here.

“Andrea! Hi. Are you okay?” Heidi stood and allowed Andrea to sit down. Andrea hesitated and so instead Heidi pulled him forward. It was evident that she was even more uncomfortable with the hospital than her son but she attempted to put on a brave face while she checked up on Evan.

“How is the pain, Evan?” She asked and Connor made a decision to not look anywhere beside his sister – the lady likely knew that was an odd question and would be feeling the pressure.

A choked, funny-sounding laugh came from Evan, “Pretty bad but there’s a lot of medication.”

She nodded stiffly, “Good, good.”

“Andrea, are you okay?”

“I, um. Have something to tell you.” She looked around the rest of them and it became clear they were overstaying their welcome. Evan’s eyes first dashed to Connor and he could feel that Evan didn’t want him… didn’t want them to leave. Connor gave a half smile.

“We’ll go to the café downstairs.” Connor looked back over the few of them, “We’ll be 10 minutes.”

Evan’s smile warmed his heart and as he felt his face warm up, he turned and walked out the door, hiding his blush. Jared and Zoe followed not long after and headed to the stairs.

“Why didn’t you stay with your mum?” Zoe asked Jared.

“It was a ‘them’ thing. It was obvious to me at least.”

“She hates hospitals more than you, doesn’t she?”

“Personal.” Jared answered back calmly and Connor informally saluted as he turned to go down another flight.

Sensing Jared’s unease about it all they all begin talking about school, quickly dissolving into rating and slating different subjects. They all grabbed a bit of lunch and headed back up to where Evan was alone and looking furious.

“…Evan?” Connor quietly asked.

“Did you lot know?” He responds, sulking.

“Know what?” They all seem to reply together. He looks down at the bed and doesn’t respond but begins to play with his cast.

“Where is your mum?”

“With Andrea in the waiting room.” His response is short but his glistening eyes give way to the clue that he was on the verge of crying. Connor excused himself and immediately headed in the direction where Evan had told him, ready to confront and argue with whatever was upsetting him.

As he got closer to the waiting room the raised voices became clear.

“How dare you?!”

“He deserved to know!”

“Oh yeah! And if I told Graham where you live now?”

“If someone was in danger of dying, yes!”

There was a pause, “I know, I know. But Evan doesn’t want to see him.”

“He’s his dad.”

“Really? That’s what you’re gonna go with? You willing to go see your dad?”

“Graham is nothing to do with this!”

“No but neither was he until you stuck your nose in. He left, he didn’t come back or even talk to Evan! He doesn’t get a choice.”

He stood just far away enough that he wasn’t seen and wondered what he should do before deciding to go back to Evan. He didn’t know enough about the family to put his two cents in and while that usually wouldn’t stop him he thought of Evan sulking in his bed he wanted nothing more than to be with him, helping him. He considered it for a moment more and turned back to the room.

His eyes met Evan’s the moment walked back in and he hesitated at the door.

“We’re expecting company.” Evan laughed bitterly then eyes widened as he seemed to realise he was sounding nasty, “Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t mean it to you. I…I…I. No, you, you’re wonderful… amazing… Great. I… Um, could we forget all this? Because I can’t physically walk away right now.”

Connor turned red and he debated walking away himself but Evan’s deep coloured blush kept him planted where he was. Until Zoe coughed. He instantly remembered he was stood in a doorway and he rushed to the seat.

Thick, heavy silence poisoned the air until Jared said, “Want a private room?”

This was the first time in forever that Jared sounded his usual self and almost instinctively Evan responded, “Can’t afford it.”

That broke the ice immediately and they broke into giggles.

When that died down Connor found the words to ask, “Do you want me to stop him from coming in? I will do if you want. You don’t have to see anyone you don’t.”

“Apart from the doctors.” Jared added and once again they begin laughing.

It doesn’t last half as long though, “No, don’t stop him. I want to see him… I’ve got some things to say. That’s if he turns up.”

So like that, it was decided without anymore words that Evan’s father would be allowed in but they would be a united front would be against him, even if it was only in silent support.

Chapter Text

It seemed that the insane tension in the room very slowly dissipated as they all talk, trying to catch up, discuss recovery needs and types of therapy. As the subject of recovery comes along he sees Evan tense and without thinking reaches out a hand to pat Evan’s. The smile that is sent back doesn’t reach Evan’s eyes but Connor doesn’t expect it. He tries to keep his mind away from wondering just how close to the edge Evan is still feeling, at least until they’re alone. Instead he wonders if this is how normal people feel, he hadn’t felt angry most of this time and he sure as hell wasn’t used to that. It felt nice though.

As if some ironic force was against him everyone else gradually made their way out but just before Evan and Connor had alone time a nurse replaced Heidi and the moment the nurse left the door opened once more.

A tall, mousey haired man walked in with the room, greys in his hair and his eyes. He didn’t have much of a presence but Connor felt Evan still. He wanted to either beat this man up or hold Evan’s hand but then he thought how he would feel if anyone overstepped if he was in the same situation and decided to let Evan take the lead on this.

“Take a seat, why don’t you?” Evan’s voice sounded so different than usual. Pleasant tone but almost as if he was on a professional phone call. Connor had never heard him sound so stone cold before.

It became abundantly clear just how long his dad hadn’t been around Evan simply by the fact that he didn’t notice the tone as he casually made his way and sat down. Evan’s hand instinctively went to the drawing of the tree on the inside of his cast and Connor knew that they wanted to hold each other’s hand and the shocking jolt of that knowledge threw him off his temptation to already call this guy a dipshit.

“Evan…” He looked like a bad salesman being thrown in at the deep end.

“Mark.” Evan responded, his thumb following a tree branch but his face stone.

“What happened?”

“I should ask you the same thing.”

“Evan…” He shrugged off the phrase like a tantrum.

“No, I want to know why you’re here, Mark.” His voice staying steady. Connor knew he was doing right not interrupting now, this was Evan’s ball game.

“So did you fall?” The man, the stranger replied, totally glazing over what Evan had just said and a little bit of Connor’s control slipped away as he crossed his arms.

Evan couldn’t help a sharp shard of laughter slipping out though, “What?”

“Andrea told me you were in hospital, son, nearly died. I want to know what happened.” He explained. His face was gaunt and he had an ordinary dishevelment that only surprised Connor and likely even Evan. This was the man who made him believe he wasn’t worth staying for? He was boring and frankly, disappointing, with the same self-righteousness that every human that walked away from their family had when they walked back in and it was odd how even just between the two teenagers it didn’t stick. It wasn’t impressive and as they glanced at one another it became debatable whether The Disappointment deserved to know. Their eyes glanced to the lift Heidi had taken and Evan knew it would be him telling The Disappointment, not his mum, she didn’t deserve that.

However… That would come soon. Evan had a bone to pick.

“Don’t call me that, Mark.” He responded. Both boys saw Ian’s face tweak a little in anger and Connor held back laughter. Mark couldn’t pretend to ignore it this time.

“Now, son…”

“I said don’t.” There was a no-argument tone to his voice that seemed to shut Ian down and Evan took the opportunity to say, “You lost that right a long time ago, Mark. If it was up to me you would not have been contacted. But here you are. 11 years late.”

He nodded and said nothing and sensing he’d lost that battle found another thing to try take control of; Connor.

“Hey, kid, this is a private conversation with my son. Come back later. Go on now, get gone.” He was giving attitude of a pre-teen and the stink eye to match that Connor was willing to put aside spare anger and laugh until Ian added, “Shoo.”

Evan’s jaw dropped, a patient’s fork dropped and Connor almost got up off his seat. His fury had shot from 0 to 100 in the space of a four letter word. By the reactions of the rest of the room they didn’t seem to blame him - and while he would feel like punching walls later for speaking instead of ploughing The Disappointment’s face into the ground; he only replied through clenched teeth, “Did you just shoo me away like a bad dog? I dare you; Do. That. Again.”

At this point Connor didn’t realise he’d put his hand on the bed until Evan’s reached for his. It was only a double-pat on the hand but it seemed to jar Connor into halting what he was doing and feeling but when Connor looked up Evan was looking at Ian, not him.

“Mark. Let me clarify, Connor will not be leaving. He promised to stay and I won’t stop him.”

“Mark…” Mark replied, imploring, which confused Connor for a moment. That was it for Evan though, his patience was tested and broken and he was trying to sit up real quick. That time nothing would stop Connor getting up, to steady Evan.

“Never. Never ever call me that again, am I clear?!” Evan yelled and looking around him noticed the presence of others watching him and paled, feeling sickly. Connor’s arm was on his back rubbing it though, there was something so slightly soothing that he wished he could tell him but he thought better.

“Am I here just to be yelled at then, Evan? Cos I’ll leave.”

“That is what you do Mark. But my godmother wants you to know the truth and as much as I don’t agree with what she did she shouldn’t have to tell you and no force on heaven and earth would possess me to let you to ask mum. So…” He paled, looking at Connor for help who could only shrug. He could tell that Evan had immediately started panicking but there was nothing else Connor could do, want as he did to help. Evan stammered, “I…I tried… I attempted to take my own life. A couple of days ago.”

Mark had never more looked like Evan than when he was at a loss for words. He gawped, uselessly, unsure of what to do or say until he asked, “Why, Evan?”

Evan calmed down considerably and Connor now felt awkward so he took his seat back. Evan answered, “With the greatest due respect Mark, that isn’t your business. This isn’t to be contrived, it’s to save you. When you’re gone again it won’t be relevant to you anymore. You haven’t been here and won’t be here so what would be the use in telling you. Not when I haven’t told anyone else. I’ll tell someone else when I’m ready but that isn’t for you to worry about. You should go home.”

Mark was still speechless and honestly so was Connor, that had been the most clear and concise statement had ever said and he barely stuttered. He couldn’t be more proud and as Evan’s eyes naturally fell back to his he knew that Evan knew it.

Now though, Connor wanted to talk to him alone but as Mark finally got his things to leave a nurse told them it was half 8 and visiting times were over.

“And no debates here Connor, he’s had a busy day not even Heidi’s good opinion will allow me to burnout him by letting you stay a while longer.” It annoyed him she spoke as if Evan was there but she made a point.

“Be back tomorrow?” He asked to Evan and the nurse who both nodded.

Tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, Evan would open up a bit more. If Connor could only keep his cool maybe Evan could put this friend thing he wrote about in his letter into practice. Connor, having known disappointment too long, did not pin all his hopes on this… or at least he tried not to.

Chapter Text

Connor wasn’t sure of the last time he felt restless without feeling angry, it was pleasantly jarring to remember it could be done. He walked home and he really must have been taking a while because half way through Zoe came by to pick him up.

 

“Making sure I’m not up to no good?” He teased, wondering if that was a bit of a loaded question.

 

Didn’t seem to be though cos she laughed, “You’re trying to win over a nerd, why would you?”

 

He choked on air and she pointed at a bottle of water in the car door.

 

“What?”

 

“You heard me!”

 

“What? How? Are you nuts?”

 

“No but god do you have bad game. I’m not trying to wind you up but that is the most obvious crush ever. You make googly eyes at him while everyone else is, no offence, having trouble looking at his face. Don’t give me that look, the entire face injury looks like it stings.”

 

“It looks better than the first day.” Connor defended.

 

“I’m sure it does and yet, you look at him like you’re heading off to prom with him and he’s just come out in a suit.”

 

He didn’t know what to say to that. He didn’t realise he’d been so obvious but he’d made no move to hide it at all. Now that he knew he did it he didn’t really want to stop if Evan didn’t mind.

 

But was that why Mark had shoo’d him? Or was it that he’d been unable to control Evan? Why did Mark call Evan ‘Mark’? How was he supposed to know how Evan felt about Connor looking at him that way besides asking him? What if his suspicions were right and Evan’s crush was on Zoe?

 

Zoe on the other hand was laughing to herself, he was so calmly in his own world that he hadn’t noticed they’d been home for minutes now. She didn’t talk to Jared much and couldn’t quite recall how she got his number but seemed a shame to keep it all to herself so she snapped a picture and sent it to him.

 

‘Tell him thinking that hard is dangerous’

 

‘And take him out of his trance? You’re jokin, this is the closest I’ve seen him to calm in over 10 years.’

 

“How long have we been home?” He asked suddenly out of trance and shortly after, out the car.

 

“Long enough.” Was all she replied. Then she broke into laughter and started getting out the car. He felt the corners of his mouth tug but he wasn’t about to let on that he re-obtained his sense of humour. Especially not now that he had been caught being smitten.

 

There was a tingling in Connor’s legs telling him to walk and just keep walking until his brain could figure out what to do with this information but he assumed if he kept going in a straight line continuously walking he’d make it to the North Pole before he had even a semblance of a clue of what to do. He thought it would make do to think in the garden.

 

He looked up and gazed at the stars. It wasn’t like this was the first time he’d had a crush on a guy or the first time it was likely to go wrong. But he’d felt drawn to Evan even before the crush, they had always been sceptical of one another but drawn nonetheless. Time slipped through his fingers endlessly and the stars began to illuminate the night sky but he’d gotten no closer to any sort of solution that didn’t involve him putting himself down on the chopping block. His stomach twisted in knots over and over and he felt like he ached everywhere at the thought of putting himself out there.

 

It led him to do something he never thought he’d do.

 

“…Mom?”

 

She stood in the kitchen alone as it was ‘Dad’s Night Out’, hers was tomorrow and he was glad that it was timed well. His dad may know of his sexual orientation but he was notoriously horrible at advice; not that he didn’t try. His dad just wasn’t a people person if it wasn’t related to sales.

 

“Yeah?” She replied, her energy screaming that of a deer ready to bolt, but that was his mum all over.

 

“There… I need your …advice. There’s a boy I like but I don’t know how to approach him or if I have a chance or if he’s into Zoe or if I should even go for it cos he’s in a bad place right now… I just… I don’t know what to do mum.” He stumbled over his words, trying to hold his nerve.

 

For some reason that calmed Cynthia quickly, who heard him out as he explained everything then questioned it. Time flew by well into the night and neither Cynthia nor Connor could remember a time they had got along so well.

 

At some point he made his way up to bed and for long into the early hours of the morning he thought over what had gone on over the last few days. How things would have been different if he had been the one to …take action.

 

Would he have in worse shape than Evan? Would he have not made it?

 

It had been such a short amount of time but he couldn’t imagine not knowing Evan this way, not feeling this way about him. His stomach clenched tightly and he felt a hollow aching in his chest, his once heavy eyes felt like they couldn’t close for longer than a second. He'd felt so dead inside for so long now there was far too much, not just with Evan but being open with himself and his family. It had been so hard and it was hard but it was easier and the key was just so easy. Yet so hard, his emotions were hard to keep in check with family but it worked to keep it balanced. He was going to have died back then to try not rock the boat when he already was rocking the boat. It seemed so silly now. Then all at once, sleep caught up with him. When he woke up the next day and he could feel it in the air that he wouldn’t get away long with continuously missing school. It was different now that everyone knew he was missing it. Before he just skipped it whenever the mood took him and at least attempted to be secretive about it. Now there was an order about it, which left an itch unscratched, but it was better this than trying to bide his time and losing precious hours with him.

 

He was glad he felt well rested and decided to walk to the hospital. The open air helped and he made his way up to Evan. He was fast asleep but looking better – fairly swollen at his wounds and looking exhausted but much more of his own skin tone. Heidi sat in a chair by the bed and motioned him over.

 

“You’re looking healthier today. Do take care of yourself, he cares about you y’know.”

 

“We don’t know each other too well but thanks.”

 

“Hmm… but I know the way my boy looks. I am right about this.” She said with a soft hint of a smirk.

 

She wouldn’t elaborate any further no matter how he pressed so he decided to ask the one other question that had been plaguing his mind.

 

“Why did Mark call Evan Mark?” He asked, feeling a little sheepish about prying with an unconscious Evan in front of him.

 

Heidi groaned like Connor had told her a bad joke, “Ugh, of course he’d do that… He has the right but it always confused me. Mark is Evan’s name.”

 

“What?”

 

“Yes. Mark Jr. But he doesn’t like going by it. He liked the name Evan since he could talk. I think it annoyed Evan to be an attachment instead of a person and it annoyed Mark to have that distanced by Evan. Maybe I should have talked him out of it but before the end of,” she paused, “us, I loved the name. Even before I met him.”

 

“Now?” He couldn’t help but pry.

 

“Now, it’s a name of a million memories. Not all of them good. Not all of them bad either.” Her answer came with a long silence after. Connor was not skilled at these types of moments but she seemed to want silence and that he could provide in abundance.

 

There were a lot of feelings, a lot of worries, a lot of thoughts about all of this.

 

Most of high school anxiety didn’t stop him from doing anything – but asking Evan if he liked him or Zoe? It made him almost wanna dart out of the chair and not look back. There was that call back though. That thought of never seeing Evan Hansen’s face was enough to hold him still-ish. He’d deal with any answer, all he needed was one.

 

Evan’s eyes opened.

Chapter Text

Any words Connor could have possibly thought to say caught in his throat and instead did something extremely rare, he blushed.

“Hey Connor!” Evan said, obviously excited to see him.

Everything from putting how he felt about Evan suavely to talking to him about anything was lost in a moment.

What was he supposed to do?

“H-hey.” He replied, sincerely mirroring Evan’s smile but failing to start up a conversation.

Both boys seems to fiddle with just about anything than focus on each other - Connor couldn’t help but overthink it. Was Evan nervous cos he was saying nothing? Or he knew he liked him? Or that something was up? Had he missed his chance? Was everyone else wrong?

It didn’t do him well to think too long on those and saving Connor from his thoughts, Evan put his hand on Connor’s. It took a little while after that for him to remember how to breathe. Evan on the other hand was having trouble not laughing at The Connor Murphy blushing beetroot seemingly because he’d held his hand. Plus he hadn’t knocked him out for assuming he could touch him. Not that Connor had ever been like that, Connor was very clear about what made him angry before breaking noses.

Evan is calm but only because he’s spent the last night (after visiting time was over) trying to think over how to ever possibly explain himself to the one man who knew it all sitting in front of him. The hardest part was the part of the letter that had made Connor blow up in his face. A good deal of sleep and self reflection was what made Evan see that his main interests in Zoe had been two things that both correlated with jealousy. She seemed to have everything in her life in order and was unabashedly herself.

Self reflection…and the man who’d been let out this morning who had been in the bed next to him. He saw how this young man was living his life, enjoying life and loving those who loved him without any restraint.

As they’d gone to sleep he’d said to him, “Kid? Evan, isn’t it?”

“It is. And Inigo?”

“Yep, like the Spaniard. Now kid this sounds dumb but hear me out. Whatever it is you’re thinking, go for it. Life won’t get better if you don’t let it. I don’t mean that harsh, this isn’t my first crash. Last time I was here I was in your shoes and I can guarantee you every heartbreak, every thing I’ve done and failed has been much more worth it this time around.”

Evan felt like a child for asking this later but he replied, “But what if it hurts too much?”

“More than bleeding out from a wound no one can see? It stings, it doesn’t ache. Aching is worse. It sucks cos building yourself at school is one of the hardest things to do, there is no escape - it’s painting live in front of critics. But art makes the world beautiful.”

He slept on that and Inigo said as he left, “Remember kid, the worst is over. All that’s left is to rebuild. Go take that other kid out, have fun, make fools of yourself.”

He hadn’t even specified the boy never mind Connor and he didn’t notice until an hour later.

As Connor sat before him now he’d laugh but he knew Connor wouldn’t be happy about it. Only now that he’s calm does he realise he never ached for anyone like this. He knows beyond all doubt that this is love and that should make it so much scarier right now - but after all he’d done this was like cliff-jumping into the sea, about as scary as it was fun. Of course there was a chance this could go wrong but this was worth it. Then a thought occured to him.

“Hey, Connor, are you still in school?”

Oh…shit. Nope, scary. The shocked look from Connor gave him such a fright he immediately wanted to take back this plan and make someone bury him in the boiler room.

“I mean, I’m not sure. I haven’t been back since all this. I’ve got a test tomorrow but …nah, can’t be bothered.”

“I’d prefer if you did.”

“No time for judging here, I’ve got better grades than you Hansen.” Connor smirks, feeling more like himself.

“Yeah, but attendance is important for being allowed into prom.” Evan blurted out. Connor looked like he’d been stunned to the spot.

“I …I didn’t know I was going. Not a keen one on dancing alone.”

“Neither am I.”

Connor wasn’t allowing an half assed attempt, “So what do you mean?”

Evan almost started shaking, “Umm, uh, okay. So I mean, I mean, if you could attend?”

“Yeah?”

“If you’d do me the honour of going with me?”

Connor lit up, “Really? Like you’d wa…”

He didn’t realise Evan hadn’t finished so nearly crushed his hand as he heard him ask, “If you’d go as my date?”

Connor wasn’t sure if it was the whole past with Zoe, if it was the past with him or if his own relationship with himself but he definitely hadn’t expected it and didn’t really feel he deserved it.

“Why me? Why not…?”

“Cos I admire your sister and I’ll admit I thought for a time - but it’s more I wanted to be like her. Why not anyone else? The answer is the same, they’re not you. Even before you found me and stood by me, you made me nervous -cos you made me feel seen. I felt electric with you and when we didn’t have the two fights you’d be different with me than most and I didn’t know how I felt about that. If it’s too weird with everything just say and I’ll never…”

“It is weird. Ask me again.”

“Would… would you be my date to prom?”

“I’d be delighted, Evan.” He nodded. “But…”

Evan’s heart dropped.

“I wanna lay my cards out. I really like you. But I need help. And so do you.”

Evan could feel his stomach follow suit, “Right… yeah?”

“So, we take this slow. Slower than slow. We don’t get caught up like we have. We have to be okay for ourselves not for each other.”

All at once Evan wasn’t just feeling better but he could fly. Connor liked him and he was obviously working on himself and Evan had decided to too. They would support one another. Evan nodded enthusiastically.

“Okay, that means I have to go. I got to do school and try secure our date.”

A little while ago Evan would have felt abandoned and he knew it was a shame Connor likely wouldn’t see him out of hospital or for a day or two. However, now he knew he could work broken to fix himself and that’s what Connor was trying to do and he was bursting with pride.

This taking it slow thing would be one of the hardest things but as they looked at one another dazed by each other, flaws and all, there wasn’t another option. They’d do this right.

With a small exception.

Connor beamed, leaned over and kissed Evan’s cheek before grabbing his bag and leaving the hospital room, waving as he went.

How could Evan feel alone with that kiss to keep him company?

Chapter Text

Evan couldn’t stop smiling after his peck on the cheek. All of that worry about Connor, it had been worth every moment for now he was on top of the world.

Days passed and Evan was allowed to go home and despite Heidi’s extra hours and her in-work insurance they were in a bad place financially and while what Evan would take on in the next couple of weeks was intense amount of work he took it like Superman – applying for scholarships, tutoring others, doing his school work, helping his mum around the house.

All of it was possible because of the night he went home. The night he went home he told her everything – how his therapist wasn’t a good fit, how school had spiralled, how he and Connor got to know one another, how he thought he had a crush on Connor’s sister and how worried it would make it weird, the tree incident and the day of the jump all at once. He was scared he’d hurt her that she’d think she hadn’t done enough… and he was right. But it was something she already knew about and had come to terms as much as Evan didn’t want to hear her thinking so low of herself. Before taking a moment to reflect on the irony of that. Then she told him of the night Mark had left and how scared he’d been that Mum would go too.

She’d called in a friend to cover her shift as a favour she would later repay and that night they talked about anything and everything – there was a moment that each realised how hard the other was trying and they came to the conclusion this wouldn’t happen again.

So between the days they’d make time for one another and talk honestly about what was on their minds no matter how hard. And some of the nights were terribly hard.

Connor and Evan were so busy that they barely got time to see each other in school but every couple of days Evan would find a drawing in his locker and Connor a photo of a landscape so beautiful it could be painted, with a notable amount focusing on trees. They’d text where they could and would sit together at lunch sometimes – enough to be noticeable – but for a few weeks they took it slower than slow.

By next term though, it was certain that Connor and Evan were officially an item.

They even ended up with acceptance letters to the same university – the University of Delaware – by happy accident. Not many would believe that both had agreed to not talk about it and just commit to taking one day at a time and attempting travel if they needed to. One person who definitely did see it coming was Jared, who had made a bet with his girlfriend Lila against Alana and Zoe. This was because Jared knew that it had the trifecta of being close without too close, great wildlife conservation and art programmes and that neither thought that the other would tell Jared. That night he and his girlfriend celebrated out with their winnings and the next day all 4 were reprimanded by Connor and Evan. Which just made Alana and Zoe gag. Those disasters giving the moral lecture, it made them feel ill.

Senior year is as it always is, calmer socially but timeline terrible and stress inducing but everyone made it through to the end of the year in one piece, if barely.

Evan and Connor attended and it had been the greatest test of both their therapies with all eyes on them. But the evening went off with only the smallest of hitches and a minorly avoided fight. It couldn’t have been more fun.

A couple of weeks later, Evan packed his rickety, cheap but adored car with the last of he and Connor’s stuff and said bye to families as they set off to Delaware.

Had it been the start of the year Evan would have never believed he’d have gotten here. On his way to university for a course he knew he wanted to do with the guy he loved.

Earlier this year they had only been two broken boys teetering on the edge of an abyss attempting to swallow them down and of course they weren’t completely fixed but they had embraced that this was a work in progress - that they wanted to do their best at getting right. It would always be hard, like asking the stars to align, but they weren’t there for easy – they were there to grow together – like trees in Ellison Park.

A park where - they would years, years later use as their wedding venue - but that’s not something they’ve talked about quite yet, as they make their way to Newark in a small, shambly car.