He was nearing eighteen and still didn’t know how to drive. Evan probably knew that better than anyone else, and yet, his best friend always seemed inclined to remind him.
For example, a few Saturdays back, Jared, Evan’s best friend, had a date at the movies. He was supposed to pick up said date. However, he had let another friend of his take his car because his friend let their friend use their car and all that. So Jared called up Evan for a ride and Evan, for the fourth time in the span of two weeks, anxiously reminded Jared he didn’t have his license, and his mom was out anyway, so it’s not like they could take her car. Jared ended up missing thirty minutes of the movie, had to walk his date there, and his date ceased contact with him afterwards. Evan did not hear the end of it.
So he decided, well, I should probably learn. Evan asked his mom to teach him, but she refused, saying he would always be her baby and she’d be happy to take him anywhere and that he shouldn’t be so eager to grow up and adult.
Evan, realizing his mom would never cave, brought his quest to his new step brother, Jeremy. Jeremy, unfortunately didn’t know how to drive, either, and just got rides from his best friend, Michael, who was more than happy to provide for Jeremy.
Evan just called Jared up afterwards. Jared tried his best to give Evan the lessons.
“Okay, now turn the key,” Jared said slowly. Evan nodded, face flushed, palms sweaty, knees weak, arms heavy. He barely touched the key and slammed the brakes immediately. Jared sighed loudly and covered his face, shaking his head.
“Evan, you didn’t even start the car,” he mumbled through his hands. Evan wrung his hands and nodded shamefully.
“I know, I know,” he said. Jared groaned.
“I can’t help you anymore,” he muttered. “We’ve been at this for nearly three days straight. You need a new teacher.”
But to no avail.
Evan, growing more and more desperate, asked Jeremy for help once more. Maybe his friend Michael could teach Evan to drive?
Okay, it turned out Michael was a ton of fun. Evan never really had the chance to talk to him before, as he would only occasionally pop in and out of Jeremy’s room and Evan’s basement and say ‘hi’ when he passed Evan. When you actually talked to him, though, Michael was insanely cool. He seemed more confident and wiser than Evan, though Evan was two years older.
Michael was so cool and chill, in fact, that Evan’s sessions were never really about cars. It was more about Michael giving Evan tips for his anxiety and sharing his own experiences, or Michael sharing some of Jeremy’s secrets while they both laughed. It was even the two swapping stories about Jeremy, about the funny or weird things he’d do when he was only with one of them. Evan liked that their relationship was built off Jeremy because, for one, it helped Evan to learn more about his step brother and two, they both had a common topic to joke about.
Michael asked to sign Evan’s cast. Evan declined, for some reason.
One day Michael confessed that he had feelings for Jeremy and asked Evan’s opinion. Evan was so shocked that he didn’t talk for a while. Of course, he absolutely adored Michael, and was happy at the thought of Michael as another sort of brother, and he eventually told him this. Michael gave a thoughtful ‘hmm’ and they both went for slushies.
Michael was cool, but Evan would never learn to drive with him. So he sought out more help. He frantically asked everyone he knew for help, and Jeremy finally came back with news: he’d found a few friends to help out.
Chloe, Brooke and Jenna were distracting. Chloe always seemed to want one-on-one time with Evan, always gave him compliments, asked for his number and such. Jenna always told him personal things about people that she somehow figured out. Brooke tried to help him out, but she always drifted and Evan still always slammed on the brakes before he even turned the key.
A few practices in, Chloe asked him out, claiming it’d be cool to date a senior. Evan declined, and Chloe exploded. She turned into a shouting, angry mess that made Evan shrink backwards, until Jeremy burst outside and led him inside by the shoulders. The last thing Evan heard Chloe say was, “I never actually liked your polo! Stripes are so out of season! ”
Evan took some time to recover. He had horrible social anxiety, and the Chloe incident frightened and drained him. He ignored calls and texts, didn’t talk when Jeremy, his mom, or even Michael came to visit, and hardly ate. He felt awful.
Then one day, Jared Kleinman waltzed in, bouncing as he practically dragged Evan up.
He claimed that he had somehow got Zoe Murphy to agree to give driving lessons to Evan. This caught Evan’s interest.
Evan was dressed in only the finest polo and khakis for his driving lesson with Zoe. Evan had had a crush on her since freshman year. (He had once let this slip during a conversation with Jared, and Zoe became a subject of jokes, including the ones about his broken arm. Everytime Jared, Zoe and Evan shared a class, Jared would always look at Zoe then Evan, wiggle his eyebrows and make a fish face at Evan. Torture.)
Things took a horrible turn when not just Zoe, but her friend Alana started to teach him. (Apparently, Zoe herself didn’t know how to drive, so it was actually Alana who’d be teaching him and Zoe was just along for the ride. No pun intended.)
When Evan started, he glanced at Zoe, who was smiling encouragingly. His heart pounding, he turned the key.
And then he slammed on the breaks.
Zoe looked disappointed.
Evan smashed the gas pedal.
Zoe was frightened.
Alana waved her hands and pleaded for Evan to slow down, so he stopped. But not before scraping her car on the side of a tree. The three of them jerked forward. Evan apologized profusely.
The lesson was horrible. Even more so when Evan’s apologies were ignored. He now sat on the Murphy’s porch, more discouraged than ever.
Zoe’s brother kicked the door open, huffing and puffing and groaning with he dragged a bag of garbage outside to the trash cans. He barely gave Evan a glance as he took care of the trash.
Evan hung his head.
Connor, Zoe’s brother, had a pretty bad reputation. Though Evan had hardly interacted with him, Connor still intimidated him.
“Hey, Polo,” Connor said. Evan looked up quickly. Connor’s hands were shoved deep into his hoodie pockets, and his long hair poked out of his beanie. “Why’re you moping on my porch?”
Evan’s heart sped up. His face flushed. His breathing became ragged. Why was Connor even talking to him? Was he angry? Was Evan about to get punched or something? Maybe… Evan had seven dollars. Maybe he could bribe Connor not to beat him up. Maybe Connor wanted more than seven dollars--
“Calm down; I’m not gonna beat you up,” Connor huffed, rolling his eyes. He sat next to Evan. They were silent. Evan turned away, Connor shifted.
“Dude, life is bullshit,” Connor said loudly, breaking the silence. He gave Evan a good, long look. His eyes rested on Evan’s cast. “How come nobody’s signed your cast?”
“Uh,” Evan answered smartly. He checked out his cast, as if examining it for the first time. “I wanted to keep it clean.”
“Bullshit,” Connor declared. Evan gulped and crossed his arms protectively around himself. After a minute, Connor said, “I’ll sign it.”
Evan shook his head fervently.
“No, no, that’s fine. I was just leaving anyways. Plus, like I, uh, said, I wanna keep it clean.”
Connor ignored him and fished in his pocket for something. He came up with a sharpie. Evan continued to shake his head.
“Hey,” Connor murmured. “What’s your name?”
“Evan. H-Hansen. Evan Hansen. It might be Evan Hansen-Heere, ‘cause my… my, uh, mom just got married, but--”
Connor uncapped his sharpie and wrote in large, deliberate letters on Evan’s cast. Evan’s chest heaved; he felt like he couldn’t breathe. He tried to remember a technique Michael told him; something, something, four something eight, a breathing thing--
“Hansen. Deep breath, four seconds. Hold it for seven. Let it out for eight.” Connor chided. Evan obeyed. His breathing became normal. It was fine. He was fine.
“Hey, Connor,” Evan almost whispered. He repeated himself louder.
“Do you know how to drive?”
Connor stood up proudly, hands back on his hips. Evan noticed he had black nail polish. Connor beamed at Evan, one eye obscured by his bangs, the other glinting mischievously. His voice was low and husky as he confidently stated,
“Hansen, you bet your ass I can drive.”
The first few lessons were a disaster, but Connor didn’t give up on him like Jared did. He persisted, even though Evan told him that he learned to slam on the brakes before he even turned the key.
Evan had to admit, Connor was a fantastic teacher. He was funny, his humor mainly consisting of dark jokes, and he implemented his humor into his lessons. He was very self-assured, and for good reason: he drove splendidly and fluidly. (Actually, he was just putting on extra effort for Evan. He usually drove like shit, all jerky and whatnot. But Evan did not need to know that.)
Evan eventually took a drivers test.
He failed four more times.
One time after that.
Connor and Evan’s lessons got intense, with timers and punishments and rewards and shouting and sweating.
Evan got his license next time. Connor felt proud. Evan felt accomplished. Plus hey, what the hell, they became good friends.
Connor actually drove like shit. He and Evan were driving to the park together, Connor at the wheel, and he almost crashed his car into a tree, like, three times. They did have a good time, though.
Evan and Michael both made an effort to teach Jeremy to drive. Michael worked up the courage to ask Jeremy out… and was met with an unclear response of “uh, um..” Evan was rooting for those two, and it seemed like something was slowly building up.
Chloe came by to apologize for her outburst. Evan forgave her. Connor, who was also there, eating an apple in the kitchen, glared at her while taking a loud crunch from the apple.
Jared got back into contact with his date from before, who, funnily enough, turned out to be one of Jeremy’s friends, Rich. Evan was like their personal chauffeur. But this time, they only drove around as friends, as Rich had a boyfriend now that wasn’t Jared, and Jared tried his best to respect this and made as little flirty jokes as possible.
And finally, Zoe and Alana revealed themselves to be dating. Connor let out an unenthusiastic “I knew it,” while pouring himself a glass of milk. Evan was a stammering mess. Then they celebrated by going on a sort of quintuple date, Alana and Zoe, Rich and his boyfriend, Jake, Chloe and Brooke, who got together, Michael and Jeremy as the awkward sorta couple, and Evan and Connor, but Evan didn’t really consider them “dating.” But okay, yeah, when Connor and Evan brushed hands, Evan blushed, but so?
Oh, Jared was there too. In the corner. Watching. Eating a bath bomb.