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Things to Ruin

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Evan is not lost, and that is a fact.

Ok, maybe he is a little lost.

A lot lost.

Really fucking lost. He sort of feels like a stubborn dad refusing to ask for directions despite his wife's protests that they are most definitely lost.

The thing is, Evan is not a stubborn dad. Just a very anxious fifteen year old. A very anxious fifteen year old who is hopelessly lost.

He was trying to find the apple orchard, but he gave up on that dream a little while ago.

Evan wishes he could fly. If he could fly, he’d probably find it. He’d go up, up, up into the atmosphere and look down at the world from up high. It’d be the perfect vantage point for spotting the orchard,

And then he’d go up, up, up into the stratosphere and ‘oh God nope, this was a bad idea, put me down.’ So just like that, he’d float down, down, down and back to the ground. Back to where he started.

Scratch that. Evan doesn’t want to fly, he thinks as he mentally adds heights onto his List of Things That Make Evan Anxious.

Maybe not all heights though. He’s more afraid of the feeling. The feeling of floating, untethered, able to just drift up and away into the sky, never to be seen again. He crosses out heights and replaces it with disappearing. That’s better, more fitting.

And maybe what happens next is pure coincidence, but as he continues on, he sees a bent and broken sign, paint chipping from the faded lettering. Autumn Smiles Apple Orchard.

He feels like he’s in a movie. In movies, it’s only once the main character admits to being hopelessly lost that they find where they’re supposed to be going. Maybe he’s in a movie. Would that make him the main character? He wouldn’t make a good main character. He’d probably mess everything up and wreck someone's life. He doesn’t want to wreck someone's life. He doesn’t want to be in a movie.

Or maybe this is like that one film, ‘The Truman Show’ . That whole movie was messed up in so many ways. Isn’t it kind of illegal to broadcast someones life without telling them? Yeah that is definitely a breach of privacy. Maybe that’s happening to him. Maybe he’s on ‘The Evan Show,’ and secret cameras are watching his every move right now. That’s unnerving, and Evan can’t help but add that onto the List of Things That Make Evan Anxious.

His life’s too boring to be in a movie anyway. It’s probably fine. Just a coincidence.

***

The orchard is not what Evan was expecting.

He expected open fields framed with trees, thick, luscious grass, and apples hanging precariously from the branches.

Instead, he gets rotting fruit and bark mulch.

Ok. This is fine. Totally fine. It’s not like Evan just spent two hours trekking in the summer heat to be met with this. Goddammit.

“What the fuck.” A voice sounds from behind him, and he lets out a squeak as he startles. “Holy shit you sound like a mouse.”

Evan spun around to meet the voice, and felt himself disintegrate, deteriorate, become one with the ground, because this boy must be the prettiest thing since Jeremy Sumpter in 'Peter Pan.'

The boy is leaning up against a rotting tree, eyes bright with amusement and a small smirk quirking up the corners of his lips. His hair- which is the perfect shade of brown Evan notes- comes down above his neck, but below his ears, as if he’d been neglecting cutting it for a while. It looks a bit awkward, which is fine since the rest of him is fucking perfect. He seemed like the kind of guy people would write poetry about.

Yeah, he'd write poetry about him. He's gonna do that later.

“Um, Earth to Squeak.”

And just like that their moment was over. Or, his moment was over. God, he must have looked like a creep. “Sorry, what?”

“Jus’ trying to get your attention.”

“No, I meant- you called me Squeak?” His face warms uncomfortable and- he's blushing isn't he? Evan’s sure he's blushing. Damn.

His eyes go wide, as if he's just realizing what he said, but it’s replaced with a cool, nonchalant look. “Oh, since you squeaked when I- nevermind it’s stupid.” He shrugs, running a hand through his hair, seemingly unbothered, even though he's pretty sure he's embarrassed. Evan is an expert on embarrassment.

And now he is realizing his mistake. His very grave mistake.

“Wait no, it’s fine you can- you can call me Squeak,” and Evan is left pretending that he will not literally die if the nickname is bagged. “What- what should I call you?” Was that smooth? He thinks it was smooth.

He takes a few steps forward, holding out a hand to shake. “Connor.”

It’s not what he expected, and he can’t help but feel a little disappointed. Conner was the name of that kid in fourth grade who stuck a glue stick up his nose, and Evan really doesn't want to associate this Connor with glue stick Conner. Maybe it’s spelt differently, although he supposes that’d be a weird thing to ask.

“I’m- I’m Evan. Hansen. Evan Hansen, sorry.” He looks down, wiping a sweaty hand on his jeans and gripping his hand. It’s cold, which is weird since they’re in 80 degree heat. Although Connor is wearing a hoodie so maybe he’s just really cold. Or maybe Evan has warm hands. Warm, sweaty, weird hands.

“Why? Are you sorry?”

“Well just because- I said my name? But then I repeated it which is so- it’s just so annoying when people do that.”

Connor looks at him oddly and Evan think’s he’d rather fly then be here in this moment because now he probably hates him, and he’ll go tell all his stupidly beautiful friends how dumb and awkward Evan Hansen is and-

“Hey relax, it’s fine. I’m not bothered by it.”

Evan doesn't know what sways him to believe him. He thinks he’d believe Connor if he told him that 'The Fault in Our Stars' should be considered a classic.

“So what brings you here?”

Evan flashes a goofy smile, scanning the field. “I… Like trees.” He hears a breathy chuckle and turns to see Connor shaking his head in amusement.

“Oh my God. You ‘like trees.’ You’re just adorable, aren’t you?”

Evan explodes.

Not really. In reality, his face flushes, and his legs feel a little wobbly, but it feels like he explodes.

Connor continues, apparently oblivious to Evan’s mini breakdown. “I don’t think you’ll find much here. It’s… Not been looking too good.” He gestures to the rotting remnants. “As you can see.”

“Then why are you here?” He scrunches up his face, and Evan immediately regrets asking. “Oh- that’s- you so don’t have to tell me that I'm sorry I-”

“Squeak?”

“What?”

“Shut up.”

At the blonds flinch, he curses. “I mean- sorry, fuck. I’m an ass.” He runs a hand through his hair. “It's. Yeah... My family used to come here when I was little, so. It holds some... Happy nostalgia I guess.” He pauses before adding, “plus, nobody’s here to yell at me for getting high, so there’s that too.”

That. Actually makes sense. It sure explains why he's even talking to him, and now that he’s closer, he can definitely smell something on him. He thinks he’s smelt it on Jared a couple times. His eyes look a little red as well, and now he’s staring into his eyes because whoa.

They’re blue with a spot of brown in the corner. Heterochromia, he thinks it’s called. Evan’s starting to get a bit frustrated with how pretty they are. His are just brown. Plain, boring brown. Everybody has brown eyes. Well, everyone except Connor apparently.

What were they talking about?

Oh, right. Orchard, Young Connor, drugs.

He laughs, because he really doesn't know what to say to that. Connor seems to appreciate it though. Mental high five for Evan.

“So um, what year are you in?”

“Ah, Junior. I’m going into Junior year.”

Evan has to hold back a bounce of excitement. “Oh, me too. Um, maybe we’ll be in the same class or something.”

“Doubt it.” And just like that Evan is stomped into the ground like a bug. “I go to the boarding school up state.” he nods, pretending as if his entire life has not just been ruined. “Larry said it’d be good for me, keep me outta trouble but. Here I am.”

Evan wants to ask who Larry is. He doesn’t, mainly because Connor looks like he’s about to cut a bitch at the mere mention of his name. “You don- don’t seem like much trouble.”

“Yeah, and you don’t know me.” His words come out harsher than Evan had expected, and he flinches back. That’s on him he supposes. Making assumptions.  'Stupidstupidstupid.'

“Um, maybe I want to?” It comes out as a question, although he really didn’t mean it as such. “We could… Do this again. Sometime. I mean, only if you want to, I’m not gonna force you or anything-” he cuts himself off when he realizes he's rambling. Connor looks a bit bewildered. Is that a good thing? 

He's saved from overthinking it when a phone is placed in the palm of his hand. 

“For your number. Just- type it in. We can text sometime.” When he looks up, Connor’s eyes are elsewhere, anywhere but Evan or the phone, and it doesn't take much to realize he’s embarrassed.

He types in his number, saving it in his phone as ‘Evan.’ He tuts when he’s handed the phone back, and when Evan looks at the screen, he sees the name change from ‘Evan’ to ‘Squeak.’

“I should go. But uh, I guess I’ll text you.” Evan nods back, maybe a little too enthusiastically.

As he turns to leave, he scrunches his eyes shut, calling out to Connor. “Wait.”

“Yeah?”

“Um. Can you show me how to get back to town?”