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i just wish we could have given that to him

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Evan picked at his cast, trying to ignore his racing heart and thoughts. Deep breath in, deep breath out. He tried to focus on his breathing, like his therapist taught him, to calm himself down.

It almost worked, until Jared Kleinman came up behind him and threw an arm around his shoulders.

“So, you finally get expelled?”

Evan jumped. Jared laughed, but dropped his arm to give Evan space. “Relax, I’m joking,” he said. “But what was that all about, anyway? Getting called to the principal’s office? You look scared shitless.”

Evan tugged at his ear, wondering how much he should tell Jared. It wasn’t like Jared considered him a friend or actually cared about him. But he was all Evan really had, and, well… Evan had already told him about the letter.

He glanced around to make sure no one was listening, then, just to be safe, dropped his voice almost to a whisper. “Connor Murphy?” He didn’t mean to make it a question.

Jared raised one eyebrow, something Evan had never been able to do. He looked like he was about to make some biting remark, but instead he said, “What about him?”

Evan bit his lip. “A-apparently he- he tried to- to kill himself yesterday.”

Jared looked stunned. “Holy shit,” he whispered.

“He didn’t,” Evan started, “he, he didn’t succeed. He’s um, in the hospital? His mom, um, his mom w-wanted to talk to me, and uh…”

“Wait,” Jared interrupted. “Why would his mom want to talk to you? He doesn’t even know you.”

Evan flinched. “Th-that-that’s true,” he said lamely. “B-but, uh, he h-had my letter? Th-the letter that I wrote to myself, he, he had it in his pocket, and they thought, his family thought that he wrote it, that it was h-his um, his suicide note? So they thought that he… that he wrote his suicide note to me, so they thought… they think we’re, um, friends or something?”

“Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Evan fidgeted, trying to resist the urge to chew on his nails. “I- I tried to- I w-wanted to tell her the, the truth, th-that I don’t kn-know him, but I couldn’t, I couldn’t figure out how to, what to say, and she just kept talking and then she said she, that I should, um, that I should v-visit Connor in the hospital…”

Jared groaned. “Please tell me you’re not going to.”

“Um. I think I may have kind of told her that I would?”

“Oh my god. You are so screwed.”

“Wh-what?”

Jared scoffed. “You go in there and tell Connor fucking Murphy that his parents think you’re friends? He’s gonna laugh in your face. Listen, he’s made it perfectly fucking clear he doesn’t give a fuck about what happens to him. You keep this up, and he’s going to bring you down with him.”

Then, Evan did bite his nails. He thought of everything he’d heard about Connor Murphy. He wasn’t one for gossip, but he’d heard the rumors. Connor Murphy, who threw a printer at Mrs. G in the second grade. Connor Murphy, who came to school high half the time and didn’t show up at all the other half. Connor Murphy, who shoved him in the hallway. Connor Murphy, whose own sister called a psychopath.

Connor Murphy, who signed Evan Hansen’s cast.

Evan pulled his hand away from his mouth. “I-I don’t know, I… when we talked before, when he signed my cast, he seemed…”

Like me, Evan didn’t say.

Scared, he didn’t say.

Lonely.

“N-not that bad,” Evan said.

“‘Not that bad’, he says. Jesus fucking Christ.” Jared dropped a hand onto Evan’s shoulder. “Listen, Evan, I’m trying to help you out here. You wanna get your life ruined by the biggest dick in the school? Be my fucking guest. I won’t say I told you so.”

_____

Connor didn’t actually expect visitors. His parents, sure, but no one else. He didn’t even think Zoe would care that much. Sure, she’d come, but only because she was forced to.

So all in all, Connor was less surprised that the boy in the door frame was Evan Hansen than he was that anyone was there at all.

“What are you doing here?” he snapped. He hadn’t intended to snap.

“Um, I…”  Evan’s eyes searched Connor, and flicked to the door, as if he was still contemplating quitting while he was ahead. Connor wouldn’t blame him if he bolted, either. It’s not like he had a reason to be there anyway.

“I heard you could use a friend.”

Connor closed his eyes, tension manifesting itself in the wrinkles along his face. He leaned his head on the wall behind him and let the breath he’d been holding escape out of his nose. “Sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled at you, I’m sorry.”

“It’s… fine.”

He opened his eyes to look at Evan, who was silently fidgeting. This kid didn’t deserve the shit that Connor put him through. “Literally it’s not, but okay. I don’t even know why you would give a fuck about me. I’ve been nothing but a jerk to you.”

“Not a total jerk.” Evan raised his cast up for display. Connor couldn’t help but smile a bit.

“That lone moment of kindness was a statistical outlier and should not have been counted.”

Evan’s lips widened to mirror Connor’s. “Too bad. I’m counting it.”

Connor let out a half hearted chuckle and dramatically pointed to a chair near his bed. “There, if you’re gonna be here you should sit your bottom in the bottom holder thing.”

“A chair?” Evan asked as he obeyed Connor’s command.

“I know what it’s called.”

There was a moment of awkward silence before Connor couldn’t stand it and spoke up again.

“Uh, thank you for coming, by the way. Sorry I’m not a good host. Is this even what you’re supposed to do in these kinds of situations?”

Evan reached up and tugged on his earlobe. Connor had never noticed it before, but Evan was cute. Shit. The slightest amount of human attention and Connor was already falling head over heels. He really needed to stop doing that.

“Uh I don’t really know either, I’ve never been in this kind of situation before.” Evan stopped fidgeting and broke eye contact with Connor, opting instead to look down at his lap.

Connor chuckled bitterly. “Well that’s a good thing, I suppose.”

“I… yeah… I guess.” Evan looked back up at Connor, and his eyes made him look like a sad puppy. A puppy in a puppy mill that had just watched another puppy get beaten with a stick and knew he could be next. Or, maybe not that extreme. But when Evan first came in, Connor thought it was because of some shallow semblance of pity, yet now the look of devastation Evan had plastered onto his face made Connor think there must be something deeper there. An understanding, a kinship, something.

“What’s your story, Evan?”

“Um, what?” Evan looked genuinely surprised at the question, even though in Connor’s mind he thought it followed naturally in the conversation. Not that he usually had many of those.

“You know, your story. What makes you interesting.”

“I’m not that interesting, I guess.”

“Well isn’t that the saddest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.” Connor meant it as a joke, but the way Evan winced showed he clearly didn’t take it as such.

“Shit. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.”

Evan shifted in his seat. “No, you don’t have to apologize, it’s true.”

“I doubt it,” Connor said, having no clue how to get the conversation back on track. It took him all of five minutes to make the only person in school who bothered to visit him feel like absolute shit. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. “Besides, being interesting isn’t necessarily a good thing. I think I’d rather be boring than everyone’s favorite piece of gossip.”

“Oh, I never - I never believed any of that,” Evan stuttered, and Connor couldn’t decide if he was telling the truth or not.

“But you’re scared of me?” That much was obvious.

“I, um, no - well yes - but I - it’s just - it’s just, this is how I’m like? I’m scared of people. Not just you. Just, people in general?”

If that was true, then Connor had to hand it to him, it must have taken real courage for him to even show up. He didn’t mean for any of that sentiment to come out of his mouth, but somehow some did.

“If that’s so, what made you come here, Evan?”

“Well, um, your parents, actually.”

Of fucking course. It always had to come down to them, didn’t it.

“My parents?”

“I mean, they didn’t make me - I wanted to come - actually my friend Jared told me I shouldn’t come - but they - I didn’t - I didn’t know - I only knew because they told me and -”

“But it’s not because of you actually wanting to be my friend, then.” How could Connor have ever been naive enough to think otherwise?

“See, um, about that...” Evan started, and Connor braced himself for a whole plethora of rejections. He braced himself for Evan saying he had wanted to be friends but changed his mind when he realized what a screw up Connor was, that he didn’t actually forgive him for pushing him and yelling at him in the computer lab, or that he lied and never wanted to be friends in the first place, that he could never be friends with someone like Connor, that he was just visiting him because it was the thing you do when someone attempts suicide, that he was just trying to be nice, that he didn’t actually give a fuck about him in the first place and it was all some sick act.

The one thing that he didn’t brace himself for was what Evan actually said:

“Your parents kind of think we’re already friends.”

Connor laughed in disbelief, wondering what kind of joke the kid thought he was playing. But all it took was one look at him for Connor to realize that Evan was serious.

“Why?”

“Do you - do you remember that letter I wrote that you, um, took?”

Connor nodded numbly. How could he forget? Sure, he saw the memory through the window of a drug haze, but it was still there.

“Um, well you - you had it in your pocket when you...” Perhaps for the first time in their conversation, Evan’s hesitation didn’t seem to have anything to do with his stutter. “And when they found you, your parents thought you wrote it.”

Connor’s face scrunched up at the boy. He had no idea where this was supposed to be going. “Why would my parents think I wrote your letter?”

“Well see, they thought, you know...”

“No, no I don’t know. Spit it out, Hansen.”

Connor immediately regretted it, but he didn’t know how else to keep Evan’s ramblings on track.

“They thought it was your suicide note. And I tried to tell them it wasn’t, tried to explain that I wrote it, but they didn’t listen, or didn’t understand, or were too focused on you or something, and they just seemed so insistent that I should visit you, so happy that you had someone you cared about, I didn’t know how to tell them I didn’t actually know you. And I’d totally understand if you were mad at me for doing that, I get it, you don’t have to pretend to be my friend or anything, I just thought I should tell you, and now that I have I should probably just go...”

Connor had been staring at Evan, unable to process the barrage of information, but as soon as he saw Evan getting up to leave, Connor’s brain leapt into action again and he reached out a hand to stop him.

“Evan, calm down.”

Evan flinched away at the touch. “Sorry. I’m really sorry.”

“Evan...” Connor said again, softer. He observed that he liked the way the name sounded on his lips, then mentally kicked himself. Not the time for your gay, Connor. “Evan, slow down, from the beginning. Why did my parents think your letter was my suicide note in the first place? It had your name on it.”

“Okay, so um, it had my name because I addressed it to myself, but they thought, they thought you addressed it to me. They thought it was your suicide note and you addressed it to me. So they think we’re friends.”

“Okay,” Connor said, letting his brain catch up to what Evan had been trying to tell him. Ignoring the question of why Evan had addressed a letter to himself, he still wasn’t actually sure why his parents could have confused it for something Connor had wrote. Though to be fair, his parents didn’t actually know him that well, so it was possible they could have assumed wildly untrue things about him. He tried to remember what was in the letter, but all he could remember was something creepy about Zoe, which yeah, he could see why his parents might think he’d write something creepy about Zoe. But the rest of it, Connor had no idea.

“Could I read the letter? Do you have it?”

Evan winced again, but he nodded and pulled out a folded up piece of paper. “The thing is, I didn’t, I didn’t write it for you to see it and get mad. I didn’t mean to make you mad, it just happened.” The boy was holding the paper in such a death grip his knuckles were turning white, and he didn’t seem about to let go anytime soon.

“Evan, if you let me read it, I promise you I won’t blow up at you again.” Connor wasn’t so sure he would actually be able to keep that promise, but he was still morbidly curious enough to want to read it anyway.

Hesitantly, Evan handed him the letter.

Connor tried to read the letter impartially, objectively, but he quickly realized it was impossible. How the fuck did Evan fucking Hansen have the ability to read his fucking mind? Not only did Connor fully understand how this could be misconstrued as his suicide note, everything in the letter was spot on. If Connor had written a note, it would have probably looked a lot like this. Though, if he had written a note, he probably would have talked himself out of it. It had been kind of an impulse decision, just like most of his decisions.

Connor reread the letter and reread the letter, each time imagining what a different person in his family would think when they read it (as he assumed they all had), and each time he found that he didn’t mind the impression any one of them would have gotten. His mom, his father, Zoe - especially Zoe. He only realized now, reading the letter with fresh eyes, that the things in it about Zoe weren’t creepy, but caring. The one thing Connor never could fucking manage to be to Zoe. So if Zoe read this and from it got the idea that Connor actually did care (which he did, he just sucked at showing it), then that wouldn’t be so bad at all. Even if it wasn’t actually Connor who wrote it, but Evan.

Shit. Evan wrote this. Evan Hansen, the cute kid with a stutter and a broken arm, had written a letter so self loathing it had been misconstrued for a suicide note. And that broke Connor’s fucking heart.

“Shit, man,” Connor finally said, “You’re as fucked up as me.”

Eval laughed and shook his head. “Yeah. I know.”

Chapter Text

As a student aide, Alana heard a lot of things she wasn’t supposed to. It wasn’t like she tried to eavesdrop - she couldn’t help it if people tended to talk like she wasn’t in the room. Like she was invisible. Maybe people just trusted that she wouldn’t tell anyone… or didn’t have anyone to tell. Whichever. In any case, the fact of the matter was, it was hard not to hear those kinds of things, especially if those kinds of things were about someone she knew. But she wasn’t getting the full story, so she shouldn’t jump to conclusions when she didn’t have all the facts. Only, it was really hard not to, what with how she over thought everything and always assumed the worst. She really hoped she was wrong, though.

She really hoped Connor Murphy wasn’t dead.

The thought consumed her for most of her BC Calculus class, so much so that once, when the teacher, Mr. Miller, called on her, she hadn’t been paying attention and didn’t know what the question even was. That never happened. Or, well, it happened to other people, but not to her. She couldn’t exactly help it; Alana didn’t have a lot of real friends. She tried to befriend everyone, but as a result befriended basically no one. Her mom liked to say that she cared about everyone, but the truth was, she cared about some people more than others. Connor was one of those people. She didn’t think he cared about her much, but whenever he was in one of her classes, her days grew a little bit brighter.

Connor Murphy, dead. Her classmate, dead. Her lab partner, dead.

Her friend, dead.

Only, they weren’t close enough to be friends. Alana excused herself from the class, only letting the tears fall once she was safely hidden from view in the girls’ bathroom.

Alana might not have been Connor’s friend, but Connor was hers.

And what a spectacularly shitty almost-friend she was. Alana had known Connor had been struggling. Of course she had. You couldn’t sit next to someone every day for a year - every day they were there, at least - and not notice the scars, not notice how often their seat was empty. But Alana didn’t say anything. Didn’t do anything. What was she supposed to do? She figured Connor was allowed to make his own choices in life, even if she didn’t always agree with them, but she realized now that she should have done something to help. She helped him catch up on his school work, sure, but there was more to helping Connor than that. Maybe if she had been there for him, actually there for him, he wouldn’t have felt so hopeless, and he would still be here. Alana felt sick.

After about ten minutes or so of crying, Alana was able to calm down and make herself presentable enough to go back to the classroom, but by then the period was already almost over. When the bell rang, Mr. Miller pulled Alana aside before she had a chance to escape.

“Alana, is something wrong? You’ve never been this inattentive in one of my classes before.”

“It’s just uh, I have this friend, or not really a friend, an acquaintance really, and I’m a bit worried about him. He’s not in school today.”

“Who is this friend?” asked Mr. Miller in a tone that was probably intended to be non-threatening, but which Alana found incredibly invasive. She wasn’t even supposed to know about Connor being out of school in the first place.

“Um, his name is Connor.”

Mr. Miller sighed. He obviously knew exactly who Alana was talking about. “Connor Murphy, he skips school a lot. It’s probably nothing to worry about.” The look on his face told a decidedly different story.

Alana felt the tears threatening to form again. “Mr. Miller, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t treat me like I’m some naive, breakable child!” she snapped, and immediately regretted it. She wasn’t the kind of person to talk back to her teachers, but she didn’t want to be protected from the truth, either.

“Alright Alana, I’ll tell you, but you’re not to go spreading this information around, you hear me?”

Alana nodded, biting her lip for fear of breaking down again.

“Connor Murphy is in the hospital after attempting to commit suicide.”

Alana felt a tsunami-sized wave of relief crash over her. “So he’s alive?” she choked out.

Mr. Miller nodded. “Yes, but he’s under observation, and might be for a while.”

Alana barely restrained herself from jumping for joy, as she figured it wouldn’t be appropriate given the situation. It was still bad news, after all. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Mr. Miller placed a hand on her shoulder. “Alana, you’re a good kid, but sometimes, people are beyond our help, and there’s nothing you can do.”

Alana shook her head vehemently. “I’m sorry sir, but that can’t be true. There’s got to be something. Maybe I could visit him? Bring him his school work he’s missing, make sure he doesn’t fall too far behind?”

Mr. Miller seemed hesitant, but patted Alana on the shoulder encouragingly. “It’s a start.”

_____

Alana didn’t know what to expect when she saw Connor. She had braced herself for a boy in the worst condition possible, barely clinging onto life, but what she got wasn’t that at all. Although Connor was still hooked up to a monitor, he actually somehow looked better than he had for most of junior year, which stood as evidence to how bad a state he had been in before. Now, ironically, Alana might have said that Connor had more life in him.

When Alana opened the door, Connor looked up at her and ran his fingers through his hair.

“Alana. Hi. What brings you to a dump like this?” Was that a smile? Yes, yes it was. Connor Murphy, king of mope, was smiling at Alana Beck.

“Hi Connor. I asked your mom if I could come, and she thought it was a good idea.”

Connor nodded. “She told me you were coming. Come to torture me with school work, I hear?”

Alana pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “Well, I suppose school isn’t the first thing on your mind right now, but I kinda, I kinda assigned myself to be your tutor.”

Connor groaned, but it was playful. “Of course you did. Well come on then, take a seat.”

Alana didn’t move. She knew it was silly, but she thought if she got closer to Connor, somehow she might break the perfect picture that she saw before her. Connor Murphy in such a good mood didn’t seem like it could possibly be real; she didn’t want to do anything to prove that it wasn’t.

“I’d also, um, I’d like to apologize. For uh, not being a good friend.”

And just like that, the perfect picture shattered. Connor’s uncharacteristically relaxed facial expression morphed and became pained.  

“Alana, you don’t have anything to be sorry for. You’re not the reason I’m here. You’re one of the only not totally fucked things about my life.”

“It’s just, um, it’s just I knew you were in a bad place and I didn’t, I didn’t...”

“Shit. Alana, don’t cry, okay? I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. There’s practically a whole army working to make sure of that. Okay? Everything’s okay.”

Alana tried to wipe the tears from her face, but as she was still crying, she failed miserably. “You shouldn’t have to be here in the first place Connor. You shouldn’t feel…”

“Alright, alright. Alana, come here. I can’t come to you so you have to come to me.”

As soon as Alana had managed to figure out how to get her legs to work and got close enough to the bed, Connor wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his chest.

“Thank you, Alana, for giving a fuck. You don’t know how much it means.”

Alana sniffled. “Connor, I’ll give you as many fucks as you want if it gives you a reason to stay.”

Slowly, Connor pulled away from the hug, looked Alana dead in the eye, and, with a completely straight face, told her, “I hate to break this to you Alana, but you’re not exactly my type. I’m about as straight as a circle.”

Alana giggled through her tears and climbed up onto the chair next to Connor’s bed. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, you’re not my type either.”

Connor raised an eyebrow. “Oh really? I’m learning so much about you, Alana. How did I not know this about you?”

Alana buried her face in her hands in embarrassment. “Actually, nobody knows. You’re the first person I’ve told.” Alana peeked up at Connor through her fingertips and let out a small squeak.

“Oh, well then I have to live, don’t I, if only because I want to see this lesbian flower in full bloom.” Connor smirked and Alana giggled again.

At just that moment, the door to the room opened. In came a girl about their age, wearing a plaid shirt. Alana’s heart fluttered.

“Connor, Dad wanted to know if - oh, hi.”

Connor looked from Zoe, to Alana, and back to Zoe, while the two girls just stared at each other. “Alana, this is my sister Zoe. Zoe, this is Alana. You kind of...caught her at a bad time?”

From Zoe’s perspective, it would have appeared as if Connor was referring to the tears still on Alana’s cheeks, but Alana suspected that Connor also wanted to grill her more about the revelation she’d just made 20 seconds ago, and she didn’t know if she was prepared for that.

“Oh, um, I could leave? And come back later?” Zoe said, unsure.

“No, no, it’s fine, you can stay,” Alana said, and felt herself blush slightly. Connor was still watching Alana with intent.

Zoe sat on the edge of Connor’s bed, and he turned to look at her.

“So, what does Dad want?”

“He wants to know if there’s anything he should bring you from the house.”

“Well, they’re not going to let me have my phone, so the next best thing is maybe music, but I don’t think they’ll let me have earbuds, either.”

Alana gave Connor a questioning look, and he answered with a gesture suggestive of wrapping a cord around his neck and pulling it tight.

“Oh,” Alana said simply. She glanced over to Zoe, who looked visibly uncomfortable.

“I guess you’ll have to bring your guitar and play something for me if I want to hear music, huh sis?”

“I, um, sure, I guess,” Zoe mumbled. She was still looking at Connor like he wasn’t quite real.

“Oh, you play guitar?” Alana asked, trying to break Zoe out of her funk.

“Yeah. I’m in jazz band. You ever been to one of our concerts?”

Alana shook her head. “No, but I’ll be sure to come to the next one.”

Zoe blushed. “Oh, okay. You don’t have to.”

“It’s okay, I want to.”

Connor rolled his eyes and coughed. Alana and Zoe broke eye contact and Alana smiled at her lap.

Zoe pushed her hair behind her ear. “So, um, anything else you need Dad to bring?”

Connor shrugged.

“You’re going to have to talk to him eventually, you know.”

Connor scoffed.

Alana looked back up at him. “You mean to tell me you’re not talking to your dad?”

Connor shrugged again. “It’s not like he’s going to listen to me anyway. He still just wants to blame me.”

“That’s not true,” Zoe choked.

“Really? Cuz he was up here all day while I was getting poked and prodded with needles and getting a million and fifty two tests done and not once did I hear him say, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘what can I do to help’ or ‘I’m glad you’re okay.’ No, do you want to know what the first thing I heard when I woke up was? The first thing? It was Dad, talking to a doctor or nurse or some shit, saying ‘I just don’t know what to do with him.’ In Dad’s eyes, all I’ll ever be is a fucking problem.”

“He’s trying,” Zoe whispered, her voice quickly shrinking to take up less and less space. If she got any quieter, no one would have been able to hear her at all.

“Ha. Is he now? Well, congratu-fucking-lations to him.”

“Maybe, from his perspective, you aren’t trying very hard either.”

Alana fully expected Connor to bite back at Zoe, to shout at her, to yell and scream, but in that instant he somehow managed to shrink just as much as Zoe had. It was as if Connor’s mask had finally been taken off, and underneath all the dirty jokes and dirtier glares, Connor was just a scared, lost little boy. As soon as the tears started spilling over, Alana grabbed Connor’s hand, and he took it and pulled her into their second hug that day. When they broke the embrace, Connor looked over at Zoe again, who was now crying too, but frozen in place.

“Zoe, what I did… that’s not called trying. That’s called giving up.”

And with that, Zoe leapt forward onto her brother, wrapping her hands around his neck. Connor placed a hand on his sister’s back and closed his eyes.

“Connor promise me, you won’t ever fucking do that again.”

Connor didn’t answer his sister’s plea for a promise; instead he rubbed gentle circles on her back and whispered, “Fucking. Goddammit. I love you, Zoe.”

Chapter Text

After they had all managed to stop being emotional wrecks, the next hour or so actually seemed pretty good to Connor. Sitting there with Zoe and Alana, talking about Alana’s overachieving and Zoe’s music and Connor’s woeful lack of nail polish, Connor felt almost like this was how normal teens were. Granted, normal teens probably didn’t hang out with their classmate and sister in a hospital room, but he’d take what normalcy he could get.

At the same time, he couldn’t help but notice how much of a third wheel he was being. Connor had never thought he’d see the day when Alana Beck was speechless, but he had lost count of the amount of times Alana had trailed off mid sentence, staring at Zoe, only to get flustered and pretend like it hadn’t happened. Connor had no intention of outing either one to the other, but he couldn’t help but think that they’d make a good couple. Zoe deserved someone like Alana. Zoe deserved to be happy. It was nice to see her that way, for once.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long. There was no better way to break the tentative peace between Connor and Zoe than to throw their parents into the mix.

“Ah, so is this another friend you were keeping secret from us?”

“Larry,” Cynthia hissed. “This is Alana. I’ve met her before at PTSA events. She’s a good influence.”

“Yeah,” Connor muttered. “Just because you’re out of the loop, doesn’t mean everyone is.”

“Well, how can I be in the loop when you don’t trust us enough to talk to us!”

“Gee, I wonder why I don’t trust you?”

Simultaneously, Alana was leaning over to whisper to Zoe, “What are they talking about, secret friend?”

“They’re talking about Evan. He visited Connor earlier today.”

“Evan Hansen? I know him!” Alana said, a bit too loudly, and everyone’s attention turned to her.

Larry raised an eyebrow. “You do?”

“Dad...” Zoe said, warningly.

Alana leaned back away from Zoe, embarrassed. “Um, yeah. I do. We’re… acquaintances.”

“And did you, uh, know that Connor and Evan were… friends?”

Alana furrowed her brow. “No I didn’t. Actually, I’ve never seen Evan talking to anyone besides Jared. And I’ve never seen Connor talking to… well anyone, really.”

Connor knew Alana didn’t mean to hurt him, but that stung. “Yeah, well, I guess that just shows how good we were at hiding our friendship.”

“But why would you want to hide the fact that you were friends?” Alana asked, clearly oblivious to the way his father was dancing around the word “friend.”

Connor shrugged.

Larry touched his fingers to the bridge of his nose and then used them to rub his eyes. “Alana, I think you should go.”

Connor shook his head and grabbed Alana’s wrist. “No. Alana stays.”

“Connor...” Cynthia said, practically begging.

Connor looked to Alana for support but what he found in her eyes wasn’t that. It was fear.

Connor let go, ashamed. “I’m sorry, Alana. You can go.”

“No, I’ll stay if you want me to.”

Connor shook his head, less forcefully this time. “I don’t think you’d have much fun.”

“Okay...” Alana looked as deflated as Connor felt. “If you’re sure.”

Connor nodded, even though he wasn’t sure at all.

Hesitantly, Alana got up, and crossed the room to the door, then looked back. “I’ll see you again soon, okay Connor?”

Connor gave one more nod, and Alana left, taking what was left of Connor’s good mood with her.

“Well that’s just fucking great,” Connor huffed, crossing his arms. “What, am I not allowed to have friends now? I thought you wanted me to have friends.” Though Alana probably didn’t want to be his friend anymore, not after this. He’d just gotten her to trust him enough to come out to him, and now he’d ruined it. She was scared of him again, just like everyone else.

Cynthia sighed. “We want you to have friends, Connor, but we also need to know what’s going on in your life. You know you can tell us anything, right?”

“You know goddamned well that’s a lie,” Connor snapped.

Cynthia started crying. Connor regretted yelling at her a little, but she was naive. They’d never be the perfect family she wanted.

“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Larry said. He seemed to not want to look Connor in the eye.

“You’re sorry I feel that way? Gee, thanks, Dad, for the world’s biggest non-apology apology. You’re sorry I feel that way? Dad, you’re sorry I feel. You’re sorry I don’t do everything you want me to do, exactly how you want me to do it.”

“Connor, I’m trying to do the right thing for you, I just don’t know what that is.”

Connor was taken aback. That was the closest his dad had ever come to admitting he was wrong. He uncrossed his arms and relaxed a bit. “Well, I don’t know what the right thing is, either.”

Larry chuckled. “Well, that’s one thing we can agree on, at least.” Larry walked closer towards Connor’s bed, and Zoe made room for him by moving to a doctor’s stool while her mother collapsed into the chair that Alana had vacated.

“So uh, this… Evan boy. How long have you two been… um… friends?” Larry asked, decidedly not taking the seat that Zoe had just given him.

Connor shrugged for the umpteemth time that day. “I don’t know. We’ve known each other since elementary school.”

Larry raised a hand as if to start a new sentence, but then seemed to second guess himself and lowered it. “Alright then.”

Cynthia cleared her throat. “Evan, seems like a nice boy. A little shy but… nice. I don’t think your father or I would mind if you brought him over for dinner sometime.”

“Yeah or, maybe I could take you and Evan out to a… baseball game. Or something.”

It was obvious to Connor by this point that his parents thought Connor was secretly dating Evan. While they were wrong in technicality, they were a bit to close to the truth for Connor’s comfort. At this point, it was like they were practically pressuring him to come out. Connor didn’t like that at all.

It seemed like someone else didn’t like it either, because Zoe chose that moment to loudly groan. “Are you kidding me? Maybe don’t talk to Connor like he’s a fucking toddler.”

Cynthia gasped. “Zoe! Language.”

Zoe winked at Connor and said, “Learned from the best.”

Cynthia reached out and touched Connor on the arm. “All we’re trying to say, is you don’t have to hide Evan from us anymore. You don’t have to hide anything.”

Zoe huffed. “Yeah, he doesn’t have to hide anything. We’re such an open and caring family now that we can’t even say what he’s hiding. We have to skirt around the issue. You wonder why he doesn’t talk to you? You wonder why he’s so ashamed? Maybe it’s because you guys treat ‘gay’ like it’s a fucking dirty word!”

Fuck that. Connor knew he’d done a lot of shitty things to Zoe over the years, and he more than deserved a couple shots back, but Zoe outing him like that? Fuck that. That was low.

“Well I’m no more gay than you are,” Connor mumbled.

Zoe’s face, that had previously been tense from shouting, dropped completely slack.

“What?”

“Did you just insult your sister?” Larry asked, but Connor’s attention was completely on Zoe.

“Yeah, you heard me. Oh, have you seen me in jazz band? Oh, you’ll come to jazz band? I’d love it if you’d come to jazz band. I’m sooo gay for jazz band!”

Larry glanced over at Zoe. “Are you dating a girl in jazz band?”

Zoe, too, ignored her father.

“What. The fuck. Is wrong with you? We were getting along just fine half an hour ago. What, do you completely and totally lack any ability to be nice to me unless someone who doesn’t know you’re a complete shit head is in the room?”

“You just outed me. That’s a fucking bitch move, Zoe.”

“I didn’t out you. Your letter outed you.They already knew. I was defending you.You had no right.”

“Well you know what, I’m sorry, Zoe. Sorry mom, sorry dad, but fuck it - I am a raging homosexual. And fucking hell - this isn’t about Evan. This is about me. Evan or no Evan, it doesn’t change who I am. And who I am is a gay ass motherfucker and a huuuuge disappointment. So yeah. Sorry for not being the perfect son or the perfect brother. Sorry for being such a screw up.”

“Yeah,” Zoe said, hoarse. “You’re one to talk about non-apologies.” When Connor didn’t say anything in reply, she got up and left the room in tears.

Connor tried to get up from the bed, but he was pulled back by the monitor that was attached to him. He frustratedly tried to get the monitor off himself, but his fingers didn’t want to obey him.

“Hey, hey. Connor, stop, stop, stop.” Cynthia said, but in an attempt to comfort Connor as opposed to trying to scold him. She reached out and touched both of his arms gently.

“I can’t even go after her,” Connor admitted in defeat. “It’s like I’m chained up.”

“Shh. Connor. It’s okay. Listen to me. You’re not a disappointment. You’re our son. And we love you no matter what. And that’s why we want to help you in whatever way we can. This - all of this - isn’t sustainable. We’ve got to find ways for you to cope, together. But we can’t do that if you don’t talk to us.”

“But look where talking gets me, huh? Every time I open my mouth, I hurt someone. Zoe, Alana, Evan. You and Dad. You’re all in the line of fire and I don’t know how to keep myself from hurting people.”

“Sometimes, you can’t. If you’re hurting, the people around you are going to hurt too. Sometimes, all you can do is try and do damage control and make the hurt a little less. I can go talk to Zoe, try to get her to come back, if you want.”

Larry cleared his throat. Connor startled slightly, because he had almost forgotten his father was there. “You know, I think I’ll go talk to her, actually.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea, Larry?” Cynthia asked.

Larry gave an affirmative grunt and left the room in search of Zoe, leaving Connor to let his mother rock him back and forth in her arms as he listened to her heartbeat, wishing he didn’t destroy every good thing he touched.

_____

“Hi, honey.”

“Leave me alone, Dad.”

“Okay, if that’s what you want,” Larry said, and turned to go back inside the hospital.

“Wait, no, Dad. Why would you - come back,” Zoe whined, and Larry obliged with a sly smile.

“Huh, it’s almost like what you say affects people. Like your brother, maybe?”

“Are you seriously going to turn this into a lecture for me?”

“No, of course not. Not yet, anyway.”

Somehow, Zoe didn’t really believe that. She leaned back on the brick wall behind her and closed her eyes. “I’m listening.”

“I see now that maybe Connor isn’t the only one that doesn’t trust us. Doesn’t trust me.”

Zoe opened one eye to look at her dad. “You think?”

“What can I do about it?”

Zoe opened her eyes fully and slid herself further down the wall. “I don’t know. It’s not like I want to not trust you. I just don’t.”

“Zoe, please don’t stand like that, you’re going to fall.”

“What if I want to fall?” Zoe asked defiantly, but took her father’s outstretched hand anyway. “I’m not a little kid anymore.”

“I know,” Larry said, stabilizing Zoe.

“Sometimes, if I fall, I fall. You can’t protect me from the world forever.”

“Sure, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to.”

“Well sometimes, there might be things you want to protect me from that I don’t need protection from.”

“Like jazz band?” Larry asked, settling into a place parallel to Zoe and leaning on the wall with her.

Zoe smiled sheepishly and shook her head. “Dad, I’m not dating anyone in jazz band. I’m not dating anyone, period.”

“Oh, okay.” He seemed unconvinced.

Zoe raised an eyebrow. “You don’t believe me, do you?”

“Well you don’t trust me, how can I?”

Zoe stood her ground. “I’m telling the truth. For real.”

Larry searched his daughter’s face. “Okay. I believe you.”

Zoe turned away from the intense scrutiny and looked down at her shoes.

“Thanks.”

“But you like girls?”

Zoe sighed. This isn’t exactly how she imagined her coming out, but then, when did things ever go the way she planned?

“Well, Connor wasn’t totally right about me. I do like girls. But I like boys too. Bit of both, really.”

There was a pregnant pause as Larry took this in. “So you’re not gay, you’re bi?”

Zoe nodded. “That doesn’t mean it’s like, a choice or anything, though.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you thought it?”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

Zoe shoved him teasingly. “You’re ridiculous.”

Larry put his arm around Zoe’s shoulder. “Look, it may not have happened the way you wanted, but I’m glad we had this talk.”

Zoe almost couldn’t believe her father was taking it this well. With her family, she assumed it would have been a disaster, just like everything else.

“So you think it’s fine if I have crushes on girls?”

“Fine? Sure. You go after whatever and whoever you want. Anyone would be lucky to have you. I know I am.” He gave her hair a small ruffle.

“Hey, um, Dad?” Zoe looked up at him, his hand still on her head.

“Yeah, sweetie?”

“Maybe, be a little more like this with Connor? Cuz it seems a little weird that you’re my parent and Mom is Connor’s parent. Like, it’s not going to happen overnight, but maybe a little less ‘bad cop’ and a little more ‘daddy’s little girl,’ just, not a girl? I mean, just because he’s a guy doesn’t mean he doesn’t need affection from his dad.”

Larry stood up off of the wall and took Zoe’s hand in his. “I’ll try, Zoe. I’ll try.”

Chapter Text

“Hey dude. How was your date?”

Evan flinched. Why did Jared have to keep sneaking up behind him like that?

“W-what are you talking about?”

“You know, your date with Connor. Hey, who’da thunk that you’d end up with the wrong Murphy, huh?” Jared poked Evan in the side with his elbow repeatedly to emphasize his point.

Evan shifted away from Jared, crossing his arms over his chest uncomfortably. “It wasn’t a date.”

“Riiiiiiight. Sure it wasn’t.”

Evan felt his face grow hot. “It wasn’t! Zoe wasn’t even there! It was just Connor and me. We just, talked.”

“Dude, his parents totally think you’re lovers, you realize that right?”

“What? Why would they think that?”

“He wrote his suicide note to you, but they’ve never even heard of you, and no one at school has seen you talk to him, and the one time you did he kicked your ass? That’s like the exact formula for secret gay high school lovers.”

“Oh my god.”

“See, this is what I told you, what did I tell you? You shouldn’t have gone.”

“Yeah, but I just th-thought...” Only, he couldn’t tell Jared what he thought. He couldn’t say that Connor understood things about Evan that Jared didn’t, things that Evan couldn’t even begin to articulate himself. He couldn’t say that he was pretty sure he knew exactly how Connor felt, and that he didn’t want anyone else to go through that alone.

“‘You just thought.’ Evan, you didn’t think. That’s the whole problem.”

“Look, they don’t think we’re gay. I told them we’re friends, that’s it.”

“If you say so. But everyone at the school definitely thinks you’re gay.”

Evan was fumbling for a response when his train of thought got interrupted.

“Hey, Evan.”

“Oh, um. H-hi, Alana.”

Uncharacteristically for Alana, she seemed hesitant to talk, and managed to use her inside voice. “Zoe told me you visited Connor yesterday.”

“The gossip is already spreading,” Jared quipped, but Evan ignored him.

“Y-you know Zoe?”

“I didn’t, but I met her when I visited Connor last night. She seems nice.”

“You uh, you visited Connor? How’s he doing?”

“He seemed to be doing well, at least at first. I think you must have put him in a good mood.”

“I-I did?”

“Connor Murphy, in a good mood?” Jared whistled. “I didn’t even think that was possible.”

“I know, right?” Alana said. “But he actually seemed happy for a while there, until...”

“What, did he blow up at you?” Jared seemed to be enjoying this.

“He didn’t blow up at me, exactly. If anything I think he wanted to use me as a shield, because as soon as his parents came in, they started fighting.”

“Oh, boy. What were they fighting about?” Jared asked, a bit too much joy in his voice.

“Well mostly, they were fighting about Evan.”

Jared turned to face Evan and tilted his head. “Of course. They were fighting about our dear, dear Evan Hansen.”

Evan felt sick. “What did they - what did they say about me?”

“Well I don’t know really, they kicked me out as soon as the fighting started, but I’m not sure if it got better after I left. His dad seemed pretty upset, and Connor too.”

Jared mouthed “gay” at Evan, unseen by Alana.

“Oh, um. That’s. Um.”

Alana nodded. “Yeah. I think you should try and visit him today, see if you can smooth things over.”

Evan thought back to Jared’s warning. Not to the warning about people thinking he was gay, that was ridiculous. He thought back to the last time they talked about this, when Jared had said that Connor was going to bring Evan down with him. Was he right? Was getting involved with Connor Murphy really just a bad idea at its core? Evan really wanted the answer to that to be no. But Connor was one thing, his family was a whole different story. Evan could handle Connor, but could he handle being caught between yet another fucked up father-son relationship? Evan didn’t know, and uncertainty was pretty much the ultimate anxiety fuel.

“Speak of the devil, and the devil’s sister appears,” said Jared, and Evan was jolted out of his anxiety loop to see none other than Zoe Murphy standing a few feet away from him.

Zoe took one look at the three of them, and bolted in the opposite direction.

“That was mean, Jared,” Alana said, and ran off to follow Zoe.

Evan tried to glare daggers at Jared, but he was pretty sure they might as well have been plastic forks.

“What? It was a joke,” Jared insisted, and Evan couldn’t help but think back to the last time he’d heard that excuse from him.

“It’s not a joke if no one thinks it’s funny, Jared.”

“Oh, so Connor has rubbed off on you, then. You can’t seriously be thinking about going back there, can you?”

“So what if I am? Would that be so bad?”

“Yes!” Jared shouted.

People were staring, but Evan wasn’t self conscious. He was angry.

“Why’s that, then?”

“Because! Connor Murphy isn’t good for you! He doesn’t have your best interest at heart!”

“Oh, and you do?”

“Yes! Because I care about you! Connor Murphy doesn’t care about anyone, not even himself.”

“Oh, you care about me, do you? I thought you only cared about your car insurance.”

“Dude, you know that’s not what I meant.”

“That’s not what you meant? Or did you mean we’re just friends because you don’t have any better options?”

“Oh, good to know where we stand. Fuck you too, Evan.” And with that, Jared stormed off in anger, leaving Evan to fume by himself. Maybe on another day, Evan wouldn’t have pushed back against Jared so much. But he was sick of the way Jared treated him. Sick of feeling like Jared was doing him a favor by talking to him, sick of feeling like Jared had just settled for him.

Maybe Connor didn’t care about him. That was possible. In fact, given Evan’s track record with people, it was probably the case. But maybe, Evan thought bitterly, having a pretend friend was better than having a fake one.

_____

Zoe had already wanted to avoid Evan and Alana - that other boy making fun of her was just the icing on the cake. She had spent the whole morning having people whisper behind her back about Connor; she had no interest in hanging out with her brother’s boyfriend. She just wanted to get away from it all, so naturally she found a girl’s bathroom to hide in.

Unfortunately, one of the people she was hiding from was apparently familiar with that strategy.

“Zoe, I know you’re in here,” Alana said.

“No I’m not,” Zoe replied from inside her stall.

“Look, Jared’s an asshole. I’m sorry he said that.”

Zoe didn’t reply, hoping Alana would take the hint. She didn’t.

“Well, I’ll be here, whenever you’re ready to talk.”

“Don’t you have class?”

“Sure, but I think I have a valid reason to skip a class for the first time.”

Zoe opened the stall door and looked up at Alana standing there with a soft smile on her face. How could she manage to be so poised and elegant even when everything was falling apart? “Are you telling me you’ve never skipped a class?”

“No. I usually like class.” Alana reached out her hand, and Zoe took it and stood up.

“Honestly, how are you and my brother even friends?”

“I don’t know, opposites attract, I suppose.”

“Maybe. Not always,” Zoe said, hating how Connor always knew how to strike just the right nerve when he was trying to hurt her. As much as she wanted Connor to have been blowing smoke (the metaphorical kind), she knew deep down that he had been right about a lot of things.

“So, did it get any better after I left last night? Sorry I had to leave on such a sour note.”

Zoe found the least dirty spot on the floor along the bathroom wall to sit at, and Alana followed suit and knelt nearby, facing Zoe.

“No, it got so much worse.”

“So your parents and Connor fought?”

“No. It wasn’t my parents. It was all Connor and me.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah. Just when I think he’s getting better, he lashes out and takes his anger out on me. I got so mad I left the room. I went back in eventually, but it wasn’t the same as when you were there. We were in the same room, but we weren’t on the same page. We didn’t talk much. I was just kinda there. And he never apologized, not for real anyway.”

“Did you?”

Zoe shook her head. “I was too mad.”

“Well someone has always gotta make the first move, and sometimes it has to be you, even if you don’t want it to be.”

Zoe hated that Alana was right. But she didn’t want to explain to Alana why she was so mad at Connor, because that would require coming out to Alana and she was already too emotionally exhausted to even entertain that idea. So, she changed the subject.

“So, how is Evan taking all of this? I haven’t actually talked to him yet.”

Alana furrowed her brow. “I’m… actually not sure. I didn’t really ask him, I just told him about last night and said he should visit Connor again today.”

Zoe leaned forward, wrapping her hands around her shins. “Yeah, he should. But this all has to be really hard on him.”

If Zoe had to put a word to the way Alana’s body shifted, she would have said that Alana wilted. “Do you think boys go to the bathroom to cry like girls do?”

Zoe snorted. “I don’t know. If Connor is any indication, then boys don’t cry enough.”

Alana smoothed out the ruffles on her skirt. “Yeah. Somehow it doesn’t seem like it would be the same.”

Chapter Text

Evan hovered in the doorway. Connor hadn’t noticed him yet, staring out the window as he was. Evan got the sense that Connor wasn’t fully there in the hospital room with him, like some fundamental part of him had stepped out for some air and hadn’t yet decided if it wanted to come back.

“H-hi,” Evan stammered.

Connor’s eyes landed on him. The crease in his brow softened, but didn’t go away completely.

“Hey,” he said softly.

Evan took a hesitant step into the room, feeling so out of place. Connor didn’t say anything, just watched him. Alana had said that Connor had been in a good mood after he visited, hadn’t she? He wanted to know how he could bring that good mood back.

“H-how are you?” Evan winced as soon as the words left his mouth. “S-sorry that was a dumb question I wasn’t thinking I’m sorry I should just-“

“My parents don’t think we’re friends,” Connor said.

Evan’s mouth snapped shut.

The wave of anxious rambling faded into numbness. Of course. He’d been wrong to think that Connor actually was interested in being his friend, wrong to think that Connor saw him as anything more than a loser and a freak. He’d told his parents the truth, that it had all been a big misunderstanding – no, that Evan had lied and now they all knew how pathetic he really was, and Connor would rather be alone than even pretend to be friends with someone like him -

“They think we’re dating.”

- wait, what?

Evan blinked. Connor was looking at him intently, the crease in his brow back in full force, almost as if he was... worried?

“I don’t understand,” Evan said.

Connor shrugged, dragging his gaze away from Evan to stare out the window. “I guess the whole, writing your suicide note to someone your family’s never heard of before, comes off as pretty gay,” he said.

Evan was trying, he really was, but his brain flat out refused to process this information. “I think I need to sit down,” he mumbled.

Connor gestured at the chair next to the bed without looking at him.

Evan sat.

“I mean, they probably had their suspicions about me already,” Connor went on. “Not that I would have ever willingly come out to them on my own, but it’s too late to take any of it back now.”

For some reason, the first piece of information Evan manages to focus on is, “You’re gay?”

Connor snorted. “Yep,” he said. “Is that a problem?”

Evan shook his head, then, realizing that Connor still wasn’t looking at him, said, “No, of course not.”

Connor glanced back at him. For a moment, Evan thought he saw the barest ghost of a smile, but it was gone so fast, he wasn’t sure he didn’t imagine it.

“Fuck,” Connor muttered. He ran his fingers through his hair; for the first time Evan noticed how Connor’s hands were shaking.

“Um,” Evan started.

Connor laughed. There was no humor in the sound. “Sorry,” he said. “This is just all… bullshit.” He dropped his hands to his lap and glared at them. “Sorry I dragged you into this.”

Evan would’ve mistaken the bitterness in Connor’s voice for anger at him, if he didn’t recognize the look in his eyes. He’d seen that glare in his mirror a thousand times.

“I bet it’s worse for you,” Evan said.

Connor looked pained. “You don’t… have to be here, you know,” he said. “Not that I don’t want you here, I do, but… you shouldn’t have to deal with me or my family’s bullshit.”

Evan fidgeted, uncertain of how to respond. Connor was offering him an out. Evan didn’t have to be a part of this. They could tell the truth, clear up this misunderstanding, and he could go back to his normal life. His normal, friendless life.

Except… he couldn’t.

Because normal for Evan meant crushing on Zoe Murphy from afar. Normal meant that Zoe Murphy had no idea he even existed. Normal was Jared Kleinman making fun of him relentlessly, was ducking his head when Alana Beck smiled at him in the hallway, was fading into the background and going unnoticed.

Normal was decidedly not Zoe looking at him, then at Alana, then bolting in the opposite direction. Normal was not shouting at Jared in the middle of a crowded school hallway. Normal was not Connor Murphy, sitting in a hospital bed, saying he wanted Evan to be there with him.

Normal, for Evan Hansen, felt like falling in a forest, and not being found.

He wondered if that was what normal felt like for Connor Murphy, too. Wondered if, maybe, if they had been friends sooner, if he wouldn’t be sitting here with a broken arm, if Connor wouldn’t be sitting there in that hospital bed.

“You don’t have to go through this alone,” Evan said.

Connor raised both eyebrows. “You do realize my family thinks we’re dating, right?”

Evan nodded. “Y-yeah. You said that.”

“You do realize that Zoe thinks we’re dating.”

Evan knew he had the exact same chance with Zoe now as he did before, which was zero.

Evan shrugged. “What would they think if we tried to tell them the truth?”

Connor tilted his head and twisted his hands together. Evan half-registered the thought that his thinking pose was cute.

Then Connor snorted. He covered his mouth with one hand. His shoulders shook with laughter. “They’d think we were making shit up,” he said, “to try to keep our ‘relationship’ a secret.”

Evan wasn’t sure what the joke was, but seeing Connor laughing filled him with warmth, and he found himself laughing a little too.

Connor looked back at him. He was still covering his mouth, but his eyes were sparkling. “Oh my god,” he said, then immediately cracked up again.

That set Evan off, and the loop lasted for a few minutes, of them just laughing together, like they really were friends.

“So,” Connor said, once they had calmed down, “the truth clearly isn’t an option.”

“So what,” Evan said, “are we dating now? I mean, pretending to date,” he clarified, seeing the mildly panicked look on Connor’s face.

“Right,” Connor said, very decidedly not making eye contact. “Shit. I mean, are you even gay?”

“Um,” Evan said eloquently. Then, “I don’t… think so?”

“We could stage a breakup,” Connor said, staring at his hands. “I mean, since we’re not telling the truth, and you don’t have to be a part of this, really,” he rambled. Funny, Evan thought that was his thing.

“Br-breaking up right after you… I mean… that’s, that would be terrible.” Evan knew these were not the words he wanted, the words he needed to say. But his thoughts tangled up and got lost somewhere en route to his mouth, and the wrong words were the ones that he ended up saying.

Connor shrugged. “So we say I dumped you,” he said. “Doesn’t reflect badly on you, and you have an excuse to never talk to me again.”

“N-no,” Evan said. “Wait. That’s not – I’m sorry, I-I’m not explaining this right.” He leaned forward, trying to catch Connor’s eye; he needed Connor to see how sincere he was, as if he could tell him everything he wanted to say through eye contact alone, as uncomfortable as it was. “I m-mean it, you – you don’t have to be alone. I can, I w-want to be here for you… whatever, whatever that means. If… if you’re okay with that.”

Connor looked up at him, tears and disbelief shining in his eyes.

“You mean it?” he asked softly.

Evan nodded vigorously, not trusting his voice.

Then, something amazing happened.

Connor smiled.

Chapter Text

Saturday was not fun for Connor. It wasn’t like the first two days of withdrawal had been great, either, but Saturday was a special kind of awful. Connor had spent the whole night shivering, and even though he knew it wouldn’t help, he really wished someone would just turn the heat on. His mother had slept on the chair next to him the whole night, which he thought couldn’t possibly be comfortable, but he wasn’t exactly comfortable sleeping on the bed, either. He didn’t think he had slept very well. He remembered waking up cold and alone in a pitch black room multiple times in the night. At some point someone, probably his mom, had turned on a small night light of some sort. Connor wasn’t sure why it helped, but it did.

When he properly woke up, Alana was there along with his mom, and it seemed like the room had gained a chair, though the one Alana was sitting on was a dinky plastic fold up one. She had a small table in front of her and appeared to be preoccupied with the papers strewn across it.

“Shit, Alana. When did you get here?”

“Around eight thirty.”

“What time is it now?”

“Almost eleven.”

Fuck.

“And you were just waiting for me to wake up the whole time? Don’t you have school?”

“Connor, it’s Saturday. There’s no school today.” Cynthia reminded him gently.

“Oh.” Connor lifted himself out of bed slightly, but he was still mostly lying down.

“Why did you get here so early? Waiting for someone to wake up must be boring.”

“I’ve been doing homework.”

“It’s the first week of school, how much homework do you even have?”

“Enough.” Was it’s just Connor’s imagination or did Alana’s voice sound… flat? Like all the emotion had been sucked out of it?

Despite how weak he felt, Connor tried to sit up. The moment he did, he felt his stomach lurch.

“Connor, are you feeling okay?” Alana asked, abandoning her notes.

In response, Connor promptly threw up on the floor beside his bed.

There was a collage of motion around him, but Connor didn’t pay much attention to it. At some point, someone gave him an empty trash can to hold, and he moved to the foot of the bed as nurses cleaned the mess he had made and probably checked his vitals or whatever. He threw up twice in the next half hour, but it took him nearly a whole hour to be convinced he wasn’t going to throw up again. Once he was, he climbed back onto the bed and curled into a ball, moaning softly until Alana came over and knelt near to where his face was.

“Alana, I’m dying,” he whined.

“You’re not dying, you’re experiencing withdrawal.”

“I know what withdrawal feels like. I’ve done it before. Doesn’t mean I don’t feel like I’m dying.”

“Connor. You’re not dying.”

“Okay, then I want to die.” Connor really hoped his mom wasn’t around to hear that.

Alana was trying to hide how much that blow stung, but she wasn’t doing too well with it.

“Do you?”

Connor thought about it, then shook his head a fraction of an inch. “No, I just want the pain to stop.”

“It will, Connor. Like you said, you’ve experienced withdrawal before, and you got through it then.”

“That’s not what I mean,” Connor mumbled. “I mean all of it.”

“Connor… I’m so sorry,” Alana breathed.

Clumsily, Connor took Alana’s hands in his and leaned forward, as if he was about to tell a secret. “It’s not just the drugs, Alana. There’s something fundamentally wrong with me. Something that can’t be fixed.” Then, exhausted from having made this declaration, let go of Alana and collapsed back onto the bed.

“Connor, just because it hasn’t been fixed doesn’t mean it can’t be.”

Connor tried to shrug but his shoulders moved so little he was unsure as to whether Alana could distinguish it from a shiver.

Connor heard the door open behind him, and for a second he assumed it was a nurse.

“C-Connor? What, uh. What happened to him?” Evan stammered.

Well, that was just great.

“He’s been throwing up, so he’s not feeling too good.” Alana explained.

Connor turned his body just enough to see Evan standing near the foot of his bed, worry written on his face.

“Yeah, you probably shouldn’t kiss me right now, I don’t think I’d taste very good.”

Evan looked paralyzed, and Connor wondered why in the hell he had just said that. Evan said he wanted to be there for him, but Connor was pretty sure he had just crossed some sort of line.

“Sorry. Bad joke. I’m delirious, don’t listen to me.” Connor turned back to Alana, ashamed. He couldn’t see what his mother’s reaction was, but he hoped it wasn’t as disgusted as Evan’s was. Meanwhile, Alana gave practically no indication that she had heard the exchange at all. Connor figured Alana had better things to think about than his (perceived) love life. Really, she had better things to think about than Connor, period.

“Um. Alana, what can I do to help?” Connor heard Evan’s voice say.

“Hmm. Why don’t you switch places with me, Evan?” Alana replied.

Connor reached out for Alana, silently pleading with her not to go.

“It’s okay Connor, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll still be in the room. Evan’s just going to come sit next to you, okay?”

And then a little bit of shuffling later, Evan’s face was next to his.

Fuck. Connor did actually want to kiss him.

He wasn’t going to, but he wanted to.

“Hi,” Evan whispered, the corners of his eyes crinkling.

“Hi,” Connor murmured back, in awe.

“Did you know the oldest tree in the world is a bristlecone pine in California?”

Connor let out a weak snort. “What?”

“Yeah. Well, actually it’s kind of hard to tell what the oldest tree in the world is, because to know a tree’s exact age using dendrochronology you’d have to cut it down, but if it’s the oldest tree in the world then you don’t want to cut it down, because what if you cut it down too soon and it really could have gotten even older? If you cut it down, then it will never reach its full potential.”

“Evan, did you just use a goddamned tree metaphor?”

“What if I did?”

“Oh my god. You are such a dork. Not only did you use a tree metaphor, you basically used the same tree metaphor from ‘The Colors of The Wind.’”

“I… what?”

Connor rolled his eyes. “How high does the sycamore grow, if you cut it down then you’ll never know?”

“Um. One hundred feet.”

“What now?”

“A sycamore. It can grow up to one hundred feet.”

Connor chuckled. Then he groaned. “Oh god. Don’t make me laugh when I’m in pain.”

“S-sorry.”

“You don’t have to be sorry,” Connor said, and Evan relaxed a bit.

“Okay. Sorry.”

God, why did he have to be so adorable?

“You really are something else, Evan Hansen.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“Don’t worry, it’s a good thing.”

“Well then uh, you’re something else too, Connor Murphy.”

Connor smiled half-heartedly. “Thanks, Evan.”

They sat silently in each other’s company for a moment, and Connor found his eyes wandering lazily around Evan. His neck, his hands. His eyes. Damn, he had pretty eyes.

“I don’t get it, Hansen. Why do you put up with me?”

Evan considered this. “Because… because you put up with me. And because I like you.”

“Why do you like me?” Connor asked softer, almost inaudibly.

“Because I just do. You don’t have to question it. I just do.”

Wordlessly, Connor reached for his hand, and this time, Evan didn’t flinch away at the touch.

“Thanks,” Connor muttered, content to stay like that, just the two of them, for forever.

Unfortunately, forever lasted for all of maybe two minutes before his mother decided to interrupt them.

“Honey, can you try to sit up and drink this?” Cynthia asked softly.

“Do I look like I can sit up?” Connor moaned.

“Can you sit up if Evan and I help?”

“Um,” Evan said.

“Whatever,” Connor mumbled.

“Evan sweetie, can you push him towards me?”

“I - I don’t want to hurt him,” Evan admitted.

“Don’t worry, you won’t hurt me anymore than I already am,” Connor assured, “just, uh, get up a little higher and let me put my hand on your shoulder.”

Evan did what he was told and slowly, he and Cynthia moved Connor to an upright position against the wall. Connor felt oddly comforted by the touch.

“So, Evan, how did you and Connor start dating?” Cynthia asked.

If Connor thought throwing up was bad, he had woefully underestimated how painful parental embarrassment truly could be.

Mooom ,” he complained.

“What, can’t I get to know my son’s boyfriend?”

Mom ,” Connor repeated.

Evan looked like a deer in headlights. “Well, see, um, I uh...” Evan fumbled, “it was last year and he was. He came up to me in the computer lab? And started talking to me. And uh. Not a lot of people do that kind of thing, with me you, know? And I don’t know, somehow it kinda… all grew from there.”

Connor didn’t know whether to be impressed at the lie or touched by how close to the truth it really was.

“You guys make a cute couple,” Alana said. Connor was almost surprised to hear her voice. Alana could be quiet when she wanted to be. Or maybe she hadn’t been, and Connor had been too preoccupied with Evan to notice.

“Really?” Evan asked. He looked to Connor like he’d rather be literally anywhere else.

“Yeah. You’re good for each other.”

“Uh, thanks, I guess.” said Connor.

Cynthia was smiling so much that Connor thought her face might crack.

“And how did you get that cast?” Cynthia asked.

“I fell out of a tree,” Evan said.

“He fell out of a tree,” Connor and Alana said in unison with Evan.

Some of the tension in the room was released as everyone laughed at the unintentional chorus.

“Oh no! I hope it wasn’t too bad,” Cynthia said empathetically.

“Yeah, it was okay. Connor was there, actually?” Connor heard the unspoken question in the upspeak, the one that asked if that lie was okay.

“Yeah, yeah I was. We were… you know, together.” Connor looked at his mom to see her reaction.

“What, really? Where did this happen?” She asked.

Shit. Somewhere that had trees… “You know that apple orchard?”

“Oh, my. We used to go there all the time. He took you there?” She asked Evan.

Evan nodded. Connor figured Evan didn’t want to say anything to indicate that he didn’t know what they were talking about.

But then, something amazing happened. Connor and Evan’s lying fell into lockstep with each other, and they wove a story out of thin air that was so believable, it just almost convinced them, too.

Connor:

End of May or early June

This picture-perfect afternoon we shared

Drive the winding country road

Grab a scoop at À La Mode

And then we're there

An open field that's framed with trees

We pick a spot and shoot the breeze

Like buddies do

Evan:

Quoting songs by our favorite bands

Telling jokes no one understands

Except us two

And we talk and take in the view

Connor:

All we see is sky for forever

We let the world pass by for forever

Feels like we could go on for forever this way

Two friends on a perfect day

Evan:

We walk a while and talk about

The things we'll do when we get out of school

Bike the Appalachian trail or

Write a book or learn to sail

Wouldn't that be cool?

Connor:

There's nothing that we can't discuss

Like people we should tell about ‘us’ but never do

Evan:

He looks around and says to me

"There's nowhere else I'd rather be"

And I say, "me too"

And we talk and take in the view

We just talk and take in the view

Connor and Evan:

All we see is sky for forever

We let the world pass by for forever

Feels like we could go on for forever this way, this way

All we see is light for forever

'Cause the sun shines bright for forever

Like we'll be alright for forever this way

Two friends on a perfect day

Evan:

And there he goes

Racing toward the tallest tree

From far across the yellow field I hear him calling, "follow me"

There we go

Wondering how the world might look from up so high

One foot after the other

One branch then to another

I climb higher and higher

I climb 'til the entire

Sun shines on my face

And I suddenly feel the branch give way

I'm on the ground

My arm goes numb

I look around

And I see him come to get me

He's come to get me

And everything's okay

Connor:

All we see is sky for forever

We let the world pass by for forever

Connor and Evan:

Buddy, you and I for forever this way, this way

All we see is light

'Cause the sun burns bright

We could be alright for forever this way

Evan:

Two friends

Connor:

True friends

Connor and Evan:

On a perfect day