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Counting The Seconds

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For the second time that day, Evan Hansen found himself on the ground cradling his broken arm. He watched as the figure of Connor Murphy slowly blurred, his eyesight blackening around the edges as his breath hitched. He looked down to his feet as the room began to spin, his grip tightening as he tried to ground himself back to reality. In for seven, hold for four, out for eight. Repeat. In, hold-

He felt a hand on his shoulder, shaking him roughly to try and grab his attention. His breathing quickened, tears forming in the corners of his eyes as his mind raced in circles. In, hold, out, repeat. In, hold, out. In, out- wrong!

“Holy shit. Are you like- freaking out? Okay, look, I’m sorry, I just... fuck, let go of your arm and stop biting your lip. Jesus Christ! Are you bleeding? Are you even listening?! Hansen!” He shut his eyes tight, letting out a quiet whine at the unwelcome increase in volume.

The grip on his arm loosened slightly, his choked sobs racking through his body as he tried to remember what to do during an attack. Then, it settled on him. The figure above him was Connor Murphy. His breath hitched, his eyes flying wide open as he looked at the brunette. It felt as if an elephant had sat on top of him, cutting off all access for air into his lungs.

“Evan, right?” He stared quietly, trying not to let any noises escape his lips.

“Alright, fine! Hansen, you’re going to breathe with me now, okay?” He coughed, trying to slowly sync his breathing to the others. He gripped his arm, noting Connor flinching at the increased pressure and stumbling to apologize.

“It’s okay,” Connor answered, mumbling out a quiet, “you push a kid twice...” He scrunched his nose at his own words, shaking his head and squeezing Evan’s good hand back gently.

They both kept at steadying the smaller boys breathing for a couple more minutes before finally finishing. Connor sat next to Evan, who was now pulling his knees up to his chest, and let out a deep sigh as he handed him a tissue.

The spinning slowed shortly after, allowing Evan to finally reach into his bag and pull out his emergency Zoloft with his water bottle. He sipped the water, downing the pill and trying to ignore the eyes burning holes into the side of his head as he put the items back away after finishing.

“You could’ve told me you do... that,” Connor mumbled.

“Y- You see, you didn’t actually really g- give me the chance? Be- Because like- you were kinda leaving? S- So I couldn’t actually tell you... sorry?”

Connor shrugged, picking at his chipping nail polish as a tense silence settled between the two boys. Evan began dabbing at the almost dry blood on his lip, staring at the stained material. They both sat, staying in their own worlds until the bell finally rang, signaling the end of lunch. Evan jumped in his spot, quickly turning to look at Connor as he stood and stretched. The two stared awkwardly, not knowing what to do, until Connor held out his hand.

“You can’t sit in here all day. Trust me, if we were allowed to, I would never leave.”

Evan stared at the outstretched hand, quietly debating his decision before slowly reaching out. With a yank and a small grunt, both boys were up and making their way to their last periods. They walked through the hallways together, letting the noise of the other students make up for their lack of speaking. It wasn’t until they both went to turn into the same room that they realized they had the same last period. They looked at one another, Evan’s face paling as he tried to figure out the look on Connors face.

He flinched when the taller of the two let out a dry laugh, the corners of his mouth turning up into a smirk. He let out a small, shy laugh of his own, entering the room and scanning around for where to sit. Normally, Evan would be distraught over picking a seat, but when a gentle hand took a hold of his wrist and dragged him to the back where there was a small cluster of desks grouped together, he supposed he didn’t have to worry about making the decision himself. After placing his bag down on the floor, he smiled at Connor gratefully.

Seconds before the bell rings, a firm hand slaps him on the shoulder, causing a small squeak to escape out of Evan’s lips as he turns to see who it is.

“So we have the anxiety ridden acorn and depressed emo kid hanging out together now? Any room for the insanely cool Jared Kleinman to join in on this funky group?”

“W- Well, counting that there’s uh... no other open seats? Y- You don’t really have a choice? And! I’m— I’m not an acorn? Stop calling m- me that?” Evan stuttered out, catching a glimpse of Connor rolling his eyes in the corner of his vision.

“Hey, Evan. Move over to the seat next to me? I don’t want to catch whatever made Kleinman such a dumbass.”

“Takes one to know one, Murphy.”

Despite Jared’s careless grin, Evan still felt his heart rate increasing as he moved from across to next to Connor. It’s not that he exactly wanted to be scared of Connor, in fact, he wasn’t entirely. But, as they say, anxiety’s a bitch, right? So, Evan sat and bounced his leg, staring ahead at the whiteboard as the teacher began the beginning of the year lecture, which he really wasn’t listening to. As it turns out, Connor wasn’t really either, because he felt a small nudge and turned to see Connor glaring at his legs as if to say, ‘quit being annoying for one goddamn second and stop with the leg, would you?’

And so he did. Up until the teacher wanted them to do small introductions, as if they weren’t all seventeen and eighteen year olds, in their senior year of high school. Although the introduction was only stating their name and a fun fact, it was safe to say that Evan basically forgot how to breathe from the anxiety settling back in.

“Jared Kleinman. Water is wet, convince me otherwise”, which seemed to earn a couple collective groans throughout the room.

“Connor. Basically only in this class because I needed the credits to graduate,” earned a couple snickers. Then, the room was silent and Evan’s breath got caught in his throat. He looked around helplessly, catching a concerned look from both Connor and Jared. His hands trembled and began to sweat, a pounding headache starting to take over his head.

“Um... H- Hansen? Evan! Hansen Evan-? I mean, Evan Hansen! I-I’m Evan Hansen...” he trailed off, shaking his head and trying to ignore the quiet laughs from some of the students as the teacher cleared her throat and tried to continue on with the introductions. Suddenly, the loose string on the hem of his polo seemed very interesting. It wasn’t until about five minutes later that Evan looked up to find a ripped piece of paper with messy handwriting sitting on his desk.

‘Are you okay?’

He squinted, looking closely at the handwriting. Knowing his fri- family friend Jared for almost eighteen years, it was safe to assume it wasn’t him who had written the note. A not so subtle cough from his left gave away the mystery note sender though, because right as he turned none other than Connor Murphy was looking at the paper almost... anxiously?

Evan smiled timidly, scribbling down a small, ‘better now’ before sliding it back over to the other boy. He pretended not to notice how Connor’s lips went from their usual straight line to a small smile of his own. So, they found themselves continuing on like that. Since only about half an hour remained of class, it wasn’t as though it really mattered that they were passing notes to each other. That didn’t stop the small annoyed glares from Jared every time Evan laughed at one of Connor’s awful jokes.

‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’

‘I don’t know, why?’

‘To visit the village idiot.’

A small snort from Evan and a small kick from Jared.

‘Knock knock.’

‘Who’s there?’

‘The chicken.’

And that’s when all hell reigned loose. Evan covered his mouth, trying not to let the laughter through as Connor looked to the side with a satisfied smirk.

“Alright, I’m literally right here. Can you two assholes show me what’s so funny?” Jared asked, his fists clenching and unclenching on top of his desk.

Evan glanced to Connor, raising an eyebrow curiously. When Connor nodded, Evan slid the paper over to Jared and waited eagerly as his eyes scanned over the sheet.

“‘Gay dudes are basically male lesbians’? What the fuck Murphy, these are horrible!”

“Your mom sure didn’t think so.”

Jared stared at Connor blankly for a couple of seconds, opening and closing his mouth as if debating whether or not he should speak. Evans breath caught in his throat, panic beginning to settle in until Jared eventually broke out into a grin, shaking his head and pushing the paper back.

“Alright, alright. Not too bad after all.”

Letting out a breath of relief, Evan smiled gratefully at Jared who only shrugged in response. He watched the other two chat idly, only commenting and laughing when necessary. By the end of the period, both Jared and Evan had gained Connors number, and all three made a group chat to which Jared sent a picture of both Evan and Connor laughing at the small sheet of paper.

And you know what? Maybe Evan did save it and set it as Connors contact photo, why does it matter anyways? And maybe when he received a text saying, ‘guess we don’t have to pretend to be friends now’ from Connor, he only felt his face heat up a little bit.

I mean, it’s not like he liked him or anything.

Right?