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Lost In The Middle Of Nowhere

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Whoever said honesty was the best policy was dead wrong.

Especially in Evan's case.

Honesty never really benefited Evan in any shape, way, or form. Really, all the truth did was hurt people, and lying seemed to be the best course of action in his mind. It kept people safe, it hid things he never wanted people to see, it made him less of a burden, but most of all, it kept people from getting hurt. Hell, even Heidi lies about the costs for therapy and his medications.

It was just easier. Safer. Safer than telling the truth.

Mark lied about cheating on Heidi, because he didn't want to admit what he and Heidi had died out and he wasn't feeling anything of it anymore. He saw his dad come home one night late, mainly because he couldn't sleep and was thirsty. While his own mother was asleep in bed, Mark had just lied and said "I was out seeing a friend. Don't worry, you don't have to tell mommy anything.".

Of course Heidi found out about it and was so angry, so hurt. She was done trying for a man who couldn't be honest with her, and demanded a divorce. After Mark had left, Heidi assured Evan that she did what was best, and that she'd always be there for him.

Yeah, that was a fucking lie too. Heidi had to go into nursing with crazy hours with the degree Mark persuaded to get her while they were in college together, and when he was ten, she started working for her dream job, which was to be a paralegal, or lawyer. With the combination of college and nursing piled onto his mother, it didn't leave a lot of time for him to tell her about increasingly difficulties in social situations.

Evan hid this as best as he could, but his lies only went so far, and when he was of twelve, his school counselor called him and his mom down for a meeting.

"Look, Evan's a good kid, you definitely know that. There isn't anything on his record that says otherwise," that was the first thing Heidi told the counselor, because of course she assumed he got into a fight.

The counselor let out a sigh, and adjusted her glasses. "Evan didn't get into a fight. In fact, he's been avoiding social situations in class, stuttering more and more often, and most importantly, needing to have headed down to the nurses office daily, because he'd been crying and breathing rapidly."

"What?" Heidi looked at Evan with shock and surprise. "Evan, why didn't you tell me?"

Evan ducked his head down and simply shrugged, not wanting to say why. He didn't want Heidi to know, but he couldn't really hide it anymore.

"I'd recommend that Evan sees a specialist, but from my own research, I'd look into social anxiety, as Evan's behaviors seem to match up with a lot of symptoms," the counselor pulled out a sticky note and wrote down an address. "This is a great place to find a therapist. I recommend it."

So naturally, Heidi began the journey to help 'fix' Evan (that's how he saw it, at least). It was hard to open up, especially when therapists could usually see right through his blatant lies. It was unnerving, and sometimes only made his anxiety worse when he snuck a peak at the bill his mother paid.

Middle school was kind of a blur for him, because he was being put on and off medications. He tried to suppress memories of then, but he couldn't, because he had a yearbook from his eighth grade class, which was hidden somewhere in the piles of his rooms. It wasn't a pleasant year, as Jared decided he had to try and be popular just like every other teen in their class.

That isn't to say he doesn't regret lying. He just wanted his mother to stop worrying about him or money, or the fact he didn't eat a lot (eating was hard because he usually felt nauseous from his anxiety, and when he didn't, he just couldn't stomach the idea of having left overs. He was a slow eater and eventually they'd go bad. It'd just be a waste of money). Jared didn't have to deal with him for car insurance anymore because he'd told his mother they had a falling out and he wanted space, not specifying when it'd be resolved (prerably never).

With the Murphy's however, there wasn't an excuse. Evan wouldn't let himself have one.

It was selfish to say he and Connor were friends, that he kept things from his family, gave them a false sense of hope that at one point he was getting better, and that he used a dead kid to get a new family, one that treated him normally. Not like a parasite that needed to be cleansed, but a regular kid. He even got together with Zoe Murphy.

Zoe, who was just as alone as he was, who was arguably the most hurt out of the Murphy's in Evan's eyes, and who needed the closure the most.

He remembers that Zoe told him she felt like he was idolizing her, and he tried, he tried so hard not to because he didn't want to make her feel crappy just because of his own, stupid feelings. It was nice while it lasted, but he decided he was done hurting her, and was going to avoid her as much as he could.

He mainly wishes Connor actually got help. He feels stupidly lucky that Heidi saw the note online (even if he never wanted her to see it in the first place), and realized he needed help before it got too bad. He wishes he had a chance to actually get to know Connor, to know who he actually is.

But second chances don't exactly exist, no mater how much he wants it not to be. He needs to stop living in the past and to to just let Connor go.

It was about two weeks after he'd told the Murphy's the truth about Connor, where Evan was laying on his bed, working on the Algebra II homework he'd gotten that day, while rain hammered against the windows. It was a moment of piece before the storm, when things were decent, not ideal, just decent.

Ghosts were complicated in Evan's mind. He supposed he believed in them, but thought they just wandered around with unfinished business. It didn't make him anxious, it seemed logical in his mind, and in general, it was just a cool thought. He'd never want to see one, however, since they were always persuaded as the 'bad guy' in horror movies. That stereotype never seemed fair to Evan.

Well, in this instance, it kinda was.

Because Connor Murphy's Soul has just knocked his Algebra II homework out of his hands and viscously said, "You fucked everything up."

"Wh-what- you-" Evan scrambled to back up, to get away, because no one had ever, completely proven, had seen a ghost before, and he didn't know what they could do.

"What's the matter?" Connor Murphy's Soul mused innocently, stepping closer to him. "Don't you wanna see an old 'friend'?"

"You're- you're not r-real! You're just My I-imagination!" He covered his ears and shut his eyes tight. "I- I can get rid of you- whenever I want. You're not real!"

"Funny," Connor Murphy's Soul grabbed his wrist, which sent goosebumps crawling all the way down his forearm as he was yanked forward by a force that should've just passed through him, "But I'm not your imaginary friend everyone thinks I am."

"This is insane. You— what even are you?!" This was all too much for Evan, who was just trying to recover, to let go of his lies and everything, but no, apparently some ghost had to come in and torment him.

"I'm the guy you said you were friends with. The guy you used to get popular. But that might be a handful to remember. You can call me... CMS," the soul decided, crossing his arms.

"CMS?" Evan glanced at him.

"Connor Murphy's Soul," CMS said slowly, like it was a difficult concept to wrap his head around. "But we're getting ahead of ourselves. You need to fix this."

"I'm sorry but-" he tried to ignore the fierce gaze of CMS, as it felt like he was trying to burn a hole through his head. "Fix what?"

"You're fucking kidding me," CMS laughed harshly, his features scrunching up in anger rather than delight or being humored. "The lies. All that shit you made up- yeah, people still think it's true."

"I told your family the truth," Evan rasped, fingers clutching at his sides. He was freaking out, because he couldn't go through that again. "They know I lied. Everyone knows!"

"If everyone knew, wouldn't people be bombarding you with notifications, threatening you, asking if 'Oh Evan, is it true? Did you really lie and fuck up the memory of Connor Murphy?'," CMS heightened the tone of his voice, clearly mimicking a stereotypical teenage girl.

That sort of made sense to Evan, because as much as he hated to admit it, CMS had a point. It would've been a big deal, even if for a few days at best. "I... all Alana said was that I-I'm not apart of the project anymore. That blew up. They kept- sending questions, pleading for answers- but it e-eventually died down."

He remembered that day vividly. It'd happened the day after he confessed to the Murphy's, despite Alana cutting him out of the project, he still told her what he did. It really pissed her off, but she didn't yell. She just calmly told him to never talk to her again, which well, was reasonable. It was quite literally the least he could do, after accusing her of using The Connor Project for something to put on her resume, and being oblivious to the fact that she was just as alone as he and Connor were.

But when she posted 'Evan Hansen has sadly resigned from The Connor Project. Although he may be missed, we're thankful we got the funds for the orchard to reopen!', that sent people right to Evan's dm's, asking what happened with the project, why he was suddenly leaving, how awful of a friend he was to Connor for abandoning his part of the project, and he even received death threats, saying that he didn't deserve to be apart of the community because he didn't do a lot for The Connor Project anyway, but Evan immediately erased those and tried not to dwell on the sudden attention he'd received.

"Nothing about being a dirty fucking liar?" CMS rubbed his chin, pretending to think. "You sure got off lucky."

"I... guess they didn't s-say anything..." Evan could only shrug. Really, he was expecting them to reveal the bombshell he'd hid. He deserved it. He let Alana post his letter and let people harp on the Murphy's, even go as far as to threatening them. People knew where Zoe's room was, how to sneak in, and kept sharing irrelevant information about them.

CMS shook his head, "You aren't getting it, are you?" He curled his fingers into fists, clutching tightly. He looked beyond pissed off, and Evan didn't know why.

"I'm sorry, I—" he swallowed a nonexistent lump in his throat, which really was it just closing up. "I don't a-anything about you or- this."

"You know that shit people say? About how you should remember people?" CMS paced around the room, stopping at his laptop.

Somehow, as if on it's own, the top snapped open, and the website to 'The Connor Project' automatically loaded onto his browser. All he could guess was that CMS has something to do with it, despite the spirit not evening moving his hands throughout all of that.

Everything was just so fucked, and Evan didn't know what to believe anymore.

"You said this was to keep memories of me alive," CMS pointed at the screen to emphasize this. "But you posted videos and that fucking letter right for the whole world to see!"

"It was— people needed s-something to believe in!" Evan argued.

He shook his head, willing the laptop to the email section. Right to the fake emails he and Jared made.

It was ironic to say the least. While they were making the fake emails, Jared actually seemed to like his presence, for once maybe. He kept making jokes, quips at him, and trying to persuade Evan that the way he had everything set up was like a gay love story, but he didn't listen because it was Jared, who made everything sexual and... weird. Extremely weird. Even to an uncomfortable extent. But despite that, he tried to force his way into their story, and Evan was having none of that. He remembers how unpleasant it soon became, mainly because Evan was so stressed about keeping all the details straight and Jared was messing around.

To be blunt, Jared made the right call, deciding not to help him make anymore emails. Evan was a dick, and he deserved it.

"My family saw these," the spirit growled, snapping Evan out of his thoughts. "This is all bullshit. 'Dear Connor Murphy, all it takes is reinvention. You can change if you want to, as long as you give it your attention. Just believe you can be who you want.' What the fuck were you on when you wrote these?"

Evan wanted to argue that he didn't know that that was the attitude many therapists had, but he kept his mouth shut as he blushed in embarrassment. He really didn't know what Connor suffered from, and just assumed it was depression, which well, in hindsight, wasn't one of his best choices, especially when his family saw things weren't matching up.

"They actually thought I was a good person," he laughed. "The second I died, they should've been celebrating!"

"You- you shouldn't say that," Evan feebly argued, because what did he know about him? Absolutely nothing. He couldn't justify him, defend him, he couldn't do anything.

The look on CMS' face morphed into absolute rage. "Shut it."

Evan tried to backtrack, "I'm—I'm sorry, I—"

"No, you don't get to say that!" Once again, his hand was balled up. "Not when you don't even know what you did!!!" The light in Evan's room was flickering rapidly, sort of like how Evan was breathing in that moment.

"I—"

"You wanna know what you did?! Because of you and your fucking lies, people have forgotten who I am, and so have I!!!" CMS practically screamed, and the power suddenly shut off, the light from the computer fading away.

Silence filled the house, aside from Evan's rapid breathing and gasping. The lights flickered back on, and CMS stared ahead blankly, processing the whole ordeal.

"I'm... sorry," CMS shook his head, cursing. "This is the problem. My mind is fucking everywhere. I don't know who I even am anymore."

"I'm sorry," he heaved, as that was really all he could say,

"If you're so 'sorry', then prove it," the latter narrowed his eyes at him.

Evan gasped at him, "But- that's impossible!"

CMS shook his head, grinning deviously. "I've seen different paths in this timeline, and I can visit them willfully. As for my influence... is none, since I'm dead."

Evan had managed to just start breathing right, but now they had to be talking about time travel? Something scientists only speculated to be true. "This is— no, that's impossible."

That only made the spirit snort. "You say to the ghost?"

Again, CMS had a point Evan couldn't really argue against. Ghosts were supposedly mythological and fake, yet there he was, one right in his face. But time travel didn't feel obtainable to Evan, and he didn't feel like he deserved it, given what he'd done.

While he had a moment to think, he let himself take a good look at the soul. CMS looked a lot similar to the Fake Connor he made up in his head, dressed in a black hoodie and ripped jeans, but the bags under his eyes were more apparent, as well as the jagged scars lining down from his wrist and up, leading elsewhere under the hoodie.

"I know you almost got run over by a car when you left my family's house," CMS stated, breaking the silence. "And I know you were going to kill yourself afterwards, but your mom was there to stop you."

Evan paled at all of this. Easily the spirit could've just been following him around, but he took direct thoughts out of his mind and conveyed them into words he never wished he'd heard.

Considering the look he was giving him, Evan assumed his expression was blank.

"Look, I'll give it to you straight. You fucked up, and you need to go back, meet alive me, and get to know me so I finally know who I am," CMS folded his arms over one another.

Evan hesitated, "How are you— able to even do that?"

He laughed, "I don't fucking know, I just can! You do realize you're only seeing me is because you talked to me, right?"

Evan looked away from him, "That didn't end well, though."

"Still, I acted different around you, rather than our classmates," the spirit said sternly. "I was decent at best."

The blonde haired teen grimaced in response, because once again, he didn't really have an argument to that.

"And if you don't accept, I can easily kill you," CMS added on.

Evan looked mortified just at what he said. "What?!"

The spirit laughed. "I'm getting back at you one way or another. I'm still absolutely, one hundred percent pissed at you and what you did. And don't try the whole 'you need me!!!' Speech. Zoe's my second choice to you."

That phrase made Evan's blood run cold. He knows that she and Connor had an extremely unstable relationship back when he was alive, and because of Evan and his fucking lies, she was most likely struggling with actual closure. Her entire family, most likely. Evan doesn't think he'll ever forget how broken and defeated she sounded when he admitted the supposed suicide letter Connor wrote was actually his. And he most definitely will never forgive himself after seeing her cry when all was said and done, feeling from the Murphy's kitchen and up into her room.

"Please no— d-don't drag her into this," Evan hates that he's begging, but he just can't put Zoe through that if he refused. A small part of him wants to actually get to know The Real Connor, and to possibly stop him from taking his life like last time. "I'll— I'll do it. Just—please don't hurt her."

"I would never hurt her, unlike you," CMS took a moment to glare daggers at the other. "I never did."

Which that was different from what Zoe told him, that Connor would scream at him and pound on her bedroom door, but he put it aside as his apparent memory loss. Evan just nodded, choosing to accept this rather than start a fight and piss off CMS.

The spirit held his hand out to him. "Just take my hand. That's all it'll take." 

Briefly, Evan wondered if his hand would just pass right through CMS’, but then remember what he did with the computer and the lights, and figured he had some control over that. He felt like time was slowing down as he reached out to his outstretched hand, nerves spiking as he clasped his slightly sweaty hands with CMS’ bone chilling one.

“Um, now what?” Evan asked, because they were just standing there (well, floating in CMS’ case).

CMS ignored what he said. He had a plan. “I know where to go.”

Then, in an instance, the world went white around them.

 

Chapter Text

Evan was blinded the second he could see again. He felt like he was about to fall over just from what happened.

Oh wait.

He was falling.

He hit his forehead against the frame of his bed, making him curse under his breath as he regained a sense of balance, and rubbed it.

Maybe it'd all been a dream. He probably just fell out of bed, yeah, that seemed logical. Because he was still guilty about lying to the Murphy's, imagining time travel was just a really bad coping mechanism.

"Maybe I shouldn't have let you go so soon."

Evan whipped around, face to face with Connor Murphy's Soul.

Oh right.

He brought him here.

"What day is it?" He asked weakly, looking around the room. It looked the same as they left it.

"The last day I'm alive," CMS replied grimly. "The first day of our senior year."

Evan shifted his gaze to his laptop, that sat neatly on his bed. He could see the cursor blinking in and out, the words "Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be an amazing day and here's why" reflecting from the screen. The date above it proves CMS' point. They were back to the first day.

"Wait... if we're back here, then—then how are y-you here?" Evan raised an eyebrow, looking at him.

CMS crossed his arms, "With original timelines, you can't actually go back in time. This is just... a copy. Still transparent to the original."

"And... when it starts to change?" Evan isn't sure if he wants to know.

He took moment to think about that. "Not sure. I'll get back to you on that."

Slowly, taking his time, Evan sat on his bed. The covers were completely straightened, only a few crinkles waving throughout the blankets, and his sheets were tightly tucked under the mattress to ensure they don't move while he sleeps. He used to do that all the time, but the more he got stressed out with the lying, the less he took care of his bed and sheets (and himself, for that matter). Evan took his time folding his legs so he could steadily rest his laptop on, realizing how familiar everything feels, but at the same time not because he'd already gone through this day, he knew how it ended. With Connor Murphy taking his therapy letter after the small margin he left about Zoe.

Before he knew it, his door was opening, and Heidi stepped inside, holding a twenty dollar bill. "So, you decided not to eat last night?"

Evan knew how this conversation went. If he said 'I wasn't hungry', she'd be disappointed, but he had a different response in his head.

"I um, wasn't feeling that well, last night," sometimes his anxiety made food sound nauseating and he just couldn't eat when that happened. Heidi didn't know about that, though.

Heidi frowned, looking worried. She went and felt his forehead. "Sweetheart, are you okay now?"

"It was— it was j-just nerves. Didn't feel like eating," he defended weakly.

Heidi looked at him sympathetically, "I know the first day is rough, honey, but that's what you've been working on with Doctor Sherman, right?"

Evan nodded. It was all they ever really talked about, really. He was sick of hearing the same thing over and over again.

"Come on honey, seize the day! I don't want any lonely Friday nights with you complaining you have no one to hang out with," Heidi was half joking, half serious. "Which is why I booked you a therapy appointment for this afternoon."

He'd forgotten she did this. He knew therapy was expensive. "Didn't I have one for next week?"

"Yes, but it's probably good to talk about your first day right off the bat," she insisted, and looked at a sharpie on the table. "Hey, you should ask the other kids to sign your cast! Perfect ice breaker!" She held it out to him.

Evan suddenly became aware of the weight on his left arm and looked down, where the blank, white cast whirled around his forearm. It'd been taken off a while after Connor died, but it remained under his bed as he couldn't find the willpower to throw it out (not that he'd admit to it, at least).

All he could say was, "Perfect." And took the sharpie.

"Great," Heidi turned to exit the room, and looked back at him, "Are you okay on refills?"

"Y-Yeah," It was as good as any time to get off the bed. And he added, "And I— I s-started a therapy letter." It was the least he could say, so she wouldn't worry as much about him.

"Oh," Evan hated that she looked surprised, "That's great! See? It'll be a good year! I'll even pick you up after school for your appointment, okay?"

"Yup. Got it," Evan smiled weakly, not wanting to disappoint her. He didn't know what he was doing. Everything he did would be a roll of a dice and he hated that.

He quickly took his medication with a cup of water and double checked to make sure he had everything inside his bag. It wasn't like that really mattered, though, because Evan knew for a fact that they just introduced the course and let people do whatever afterwards.

The sound of a garage door shutting rang throughout the empty house, and CMS looked at him. "She cares about you. A lot."

"We had that talk before..." Evan shook his head, going to grab a granola bar.

CMS whistled, "Being self aware of others? That's a first for you."

Evan tried not to let that comment hurt, but it did. CMS didn't seem to care, though. He grabbed his backpack, and began the walk to school.

All he had to do was keep Connor Murphy alive. He had a feeling that'd be easier said than done. He knew nothing about him, except for the fact that he had an explosive temper, based off of his previous encounter with him, and from what Zoe had told him.

On the plus side, he knew what not to do. He knew not to laugh at Connor. Or write about Zoe. On the negative side, so many things could go wrong, just from the lack of knowledge he had about him. There was still so much he didn't know about Connor, and it's really just crashed down on him a couple of moments ago.

He had to know who Connor Murphy was. Is. He isn't dead, yet.

Evan just has to try and keep him like that. Maybe persuade his family to put him on medication, find a therapist, and bam, things should work out. Right?

No. Depression didn't work like that, and Evan knew this all too well. Despite his heart pounding out of his chest, the dampness growing onto his palms and fingers, and already tear-filled eyes, he was determined to be there, even if it was just to find Connor a support system.

He'd be there for Connor, like no one was for him.

"Evan! How was your summer?" When Alana had approached him the first time in The Original Timeline, Evan first thought it was out of pity, or just pure desperation to talk to someone. But now he knew she was just as alone as he was. Even if they only did a couple of projects together in the past, or if she tried to talked to everyone, it was a small sense of solidarity, that Evan wasn't the only outcast in the school.

"Um— okay. I b-broke my arm," he weakly gestured to his arm, raising it slightly.

"Oh my gosh, what happened?!" Alana gaped at it in concern.

"I er— fell. Out of a tree," Evan sort of didn't want to ask her about signing his cast. It'd be weird, having another name with Connor's (if he agreed to sign it, that was).

"That's awful! My grandmother broke her hip falling onto her bathtub!" Alana recalled, "They said it was the beginning of the end, because she died after."

Evan was still surprised with how Alana was coping. Maybe it was because she busied herself with volunteer work, or had an entire summer vacation to cope. He'd never asked her. Perhaps it was just a facade. He should ask her. "Oh I'm sorry— for your loss. Are you d-doing okay..?"

"I'm okay, thank you for asking!" Alana didn't look 'okay', though, but there wasn't any time to press her on the matter, because she was turning around, and wishing Evan a good first day as she walked off.

"I like Alana," CMS told Evan after she was done. "I know she treated me decently. Not like a freak."

Evan didn't respond, because if he did, he'd just seem insane to anyone passing in the hallway, so he settled for fiddling with his locker door until it popped open. He put his bag inside, mainly because the school stopped letting them carry their bags around. It was kind of a hassle now, but deep down, Evan knew where they were coming from.

CMS turned his head, and narrowed his eyes. "Fucking Kleinman."

Even without knowing Connor, it was obvious he held disdain towards him, most likely because Jared targeted him a lot. Evan wasn't around when he did, but Jared talked about it whenever possible. "Hey, listen to this. I told Murphy he'd totally suck dick for weed," which was just awful as it was, making stoner jokes about him, but gay jokes? Evan never found those funny.

Jared strolled over confidently like he just won the lottery, which well, that was how he usually walked. Evan knew he feigned confidence, but Jared made it seem really believable, maybe even to himself. Even if it was just an act, fake it until it's real, right?

"How does it feel to be the first person in history to break your arm by jacking off so much?" Jared was smirking, crossing his arms across his chest. "Or do you hold that as a personal privilege?"

Evan knew the joke was coming, but that didn't change the fact that it was disgusting, and kind of creepy, in Evan's mind. "I fell out of a tree, actually."

Suddenly, Jared bursted our laughing. It wouldn't have been so bad if he didn't make people turn their heads in their direction. "You— fell out of a tree?! What are you?! An acorn?!"

And well, at least Evan knew the nickname wouldn't last. He just laughed feebly, "I guess..."

"You're so fucking weird," Jared shook his head, snickering. "Hey, tell your mom I was nice to you so I'll get my car insurance, okay?"

"Got it," Evan didn't bother asking Jared to sign the cast, because he'd just get the whole family friends speech again, and he didn't want to listen to that more than he had to.

He decided to just leave after that, not really wanting to put up with Jared and his crap. As he'd predicted, the teachers just gave them handouts and expectations sheets, along with a free period for them to do whatever they wanted. It wasn't long before lunch came around, and Evan was moving to sit next to Jared, lunch in his hands.

Suddenly, an all too familiar figure weaved through the waves of the crowd, the distinct smell of weed trailing behind him as his combat boots hit and squealed against the concrete of the school, horribly ripped jeans met with a loose brown trench coat, that hid a faded black hoodie with a few long strands of brown hair that was from the long swirls that rested on his shoulders, which hid part of his nose and his eye, but only brought out the guarded look he held.

Connor Murphy was walking down the lunch hall, very much so alive.

"You're staring," CMS stated, making Evan jump and realize that he had been. He tore his eyes away and glanced at Jared, knowing exactly he was about to go down.

"Hey Connor," Jared called out to him, "Loving the new hair length. Very school shooter-chic." He even made finger guns to empathize the supposed 'joke'.

Connor stopped right in the middle of the cafeteria, his hand clutching his satchel. No one dared to move around him. He just stared at Jared.

And Evan couldn't just stand by and do nothing. Not again, not after what he'd seen. He elbowed Jared in the ribs and muttered, "Shut up."

Jared looked at him, and seemed to force out a laugh. "It was a joke." He emphasized this, his expression hardening.

"It— it wasn't funny!" Evan insisted. He hardly ever stood up for himself, especially to Jared, but this was important. Connor was important. "You shouldn't— s-say stuff like that!"

Jared seemed surprised at first, but he regained his composure quickly. "Why do you care so much about him, anyways?"

There was a number of reasons why he cared. He didn't want Connor to die again, they were both equally alone, but aside from that... he couldn't really explain it. He wanted to argue, but fell silent.

"You're such a freak," it was different when those words were directed at him, and they hurt because he knew it was true. There wasn't any point in denying it. Evan was different than anyone else, and it was painfully obvious. Still, he just watched Jared walk away from their table, and most likely to his other friends (if he had any others, that was).

If Evan was being one hundred percent honest, he'd expected Connor to already had left. Really, there wasn't any reason he should've stuck around for, since he did have an opportunity to just leave.

But Connor was still there, confusion written all over his face. "What the fuck?" If he hadn't been a bit louder, Evan would've thought he imagined he said that.

He still didn't have a reason, so he decided to pretend he didn't hear him. "Um— I'm sorry, a-about him..."

Surprise washed over Connor, but his expression quickly changed back into neutral. "It wasn't you," he muttered, shifting his weight.

And despite somehow managing to lie and convince Connor's family they were secret-best- friends, he still wasn't a great conversationalist. So, he just offered a friendly, kind-of forced smile.

Connor turned on his foot, waved, and continued his stride down the lunch hall.

"So Kleinman hates you now," CMS seemed optimistic about that fact. "But at least you're on my good side."

Evan decided to abandon his previous claimed table, to avoid the stares of his classmates. It was as overwhelming as the first time, despite not getting shoved to the ground,

"You really need better friends, though," CMS stated, following behind him.

It wasn't like Evan needed to be told that. He was painfully aware of that fact. It was just easier said than done.

The rest of the classes Evan was in mainly just involved handouts and sometimes the "get to know you" sheets the teachers handed out. It was just for teachers to learn student's names quicker, he supposed. It depended on the teacher. Some teachers genuinely seemed to care about their students, while others just seemed to hate their job. Either way, it was heartbreaking to see his classmates just turning a blind eye to them.

Evan was aware he didn't have any deep connections with any teachers. It wasn't personal. It was just anxiety.

Finally, he had his open eighth hour, and found himself back in the computer lab like before. He felt his phone ringing, but he knew who it was without needing to look, and what they were going to say.

"I'm so sorry, Evan. I know I was supposed to pick you up, but Erica called in with the flu, and I'm the only other nurse's aid on today, so I volunteered to pick up her shift," Heidi seemed like she didn't have a lot of time to talk.

Evan was used to it, even if he still hurt. "It's fine. I'll take the bus."

"Perfect. Oh, and I'm going to class right after work, so I won't be home until late, but there's some Trader Joe's dumplings in the freezer..." it was obvious that Heidi wanted him to eat something.

He wasn't sure he'd have an appetite. But he didn't want to let her down. "Okay."

"Did you finish your letter from this morning? The one you started?" Clearly, Heidi remembered his lie.

"Um— yeah. It's printing right now," another blatant lie, as his computer screen was one hundred percent blank.

He could practically hear her smiling on the other line. "Was it a good day?"

"Yeah. Yeah it was," it was better than the last first day, that was for sure.

"That's great, honey," Evan can distinctly hear yelling on the other line. "Shit, I've gotta go. Bye, I love you."

He's unable to reply as she hangs up. In the back of his mind, he knows he should probably be looking for Connor, but wouldn't that be downright creepy? Would Connor think he's a stalker? And how would he find him, anyways? He didn't know what classes he had, or if he decided to skip.

"I think I might still come here..." CMS looked around the room, crossing his arms.

Evan glanced at him, raising an eyebrow before muttering, "Why'd you think that?"

"Haven't you noticed this timeline is still holding into pieces from the original? Jared calling you a freak, your mom saying she can't pick you up. You haven't drastically changed things, aside from our conversation," CMS said thoughtfully.

Evan doubted Connor would come in, but he nodded all the with what he said, pretending to take this into consideration. He began to type out a letter, as he'd still have to go to therapy, and didn't want to disappoint Dr. Sherman again.

"Dear Evan Hansen,

Turns out today wasn't a good day. I know I need to strive for optimism, but it's almost impossible. I'm just lying to myself to make myself feel better.

Why do people get second chances? Bad people I mean. Why did I get a second chance? I've done nothing to deserve it. I'm a bad person. Everything I've done speaks clearly about that.

You should probably stop typing this out before the inevitable happens.

Sincerely, your best and most dearest friend,

Me."

The new letter served as venting, Evan thought, because he just wasn't okay at the moment. He'd been faced with time travel just several hours ago, practically erased all of his mistakes with no consequences (that, he didn't trust), and now he had to save the dead kid he used.

So excuse him if he was a bit freaked out.

Evan subconsciously hit print, before deleting the document all together. He figured he could just shove it under his bed and forget about it momentarily when he got home. But as he stood and was about to go retrieve it, he stopped dead in his tracks.

Connor Murphy was at the printer. Again. Holding his letter.

"Well that's just your luck," CMS snickered.

"So, how'd you break your arm?" Of course it had to start with that.

Evan picked at the plaster nervously. This was as terrifying as the first time. "I er— I fell. Out of a tree."

Connor seemed to be pleasantly surprised. He let out a laugh, "You fell? Out of a tree?" At Evan's nod, he laughed a bit harder. "That's the saddest thing I've ever heard, oh my god."

"I um, I know," Evan forced himself to laugh.

Then, Connor stopped. He looked at the cast thoughtfully, and said softly, "You should say a racist guy broke it."

Evan didn't remember him saying that before. "What?"

"In 'To Kill A Mockingbird', when that racist dude broke Jem's arm. It'd be a better story," he explained sheepishly.

"Oh. Maybe," Evan had completely forgotten Connor brought up the book, and immediately hated himself for it. It was one of the few genuine things he'd said to him, and was overlooked instantly (although, a lot had happened, so it wasn't exactly at the top of his priority list).

"No ones signed your cast," this was one of the few things Evan was looking forward to.

"Um— did you w-want to?" It was a bold approach, but he'd already assumed he wanted to already.

"Do you have a sharpie?" He held his hand out expectantly.

Evan silently handed him the black sharpie. When Connor grabbed his cast, he tried to hide his wince, as the other boy wasn't exactly gentle with it. Still, Connor noticed, and muttered an apology, before starting to sign it in those all too familiar big, blotchy letters that formed his name.

Things felt right. Just a little, but it was enough.

After Connor recapped the sharpie and handed it back, Evan gazed downwards at the new-but-not-really signature on his cast. He smiled slightly, and traced a finger over the letters. "Um— thanks."

"Now we can pretend we both have friends," Connor offered a hesitant smile.

Evan shrugged sheepishly. He wasn't bold enough to offer up an actual friendship. "Guess so."

"And er— thanks, for at lunch, with standing up to Kleinman and all. I really appreciate it," Connor flashed a small, brief smile at him.

"Oh it— it wasn't a problem. Just with all the— the school s-shootings going on, it really just—" Evan paused, taking a shaky breath in. "Just really fucked up."

Connor shrugged his shoulders. "It's easy to say I'm used to fucked up shit like that."

That... didn't set well with Evan. "I'm sorry," he said, mainly out of sympathy.

There was something crumpled in Connor's fist, something important he was forgetting about, but the latter slipped it into his satchel. "You have nothing to apologize for," he looked just a little bit amused.

"Sorry," Evan said instinctively, because what was he supposed to say to that? "Wait, no, hold on—"

"You want to say it again, don't you?" That reminded him of Zoe, and how she'd said that same thing to him.

"Yeah," he replied feebly. "I should l-let you go. You— you probably have stuff to do, and... yeah."

"Yeah," Connor nodded, turning around. "Thanks again, Evan," that was the last thing he said, before walking out of the computer lab.

Evan was just starting to feel good about that whole ordeal, but of course something went wrong, because his letter was missing from the printer. Someone had taken it.

"Oh yeah," CMS spoke up at last. "Connor slipped it into his satchel. He still took it."

That alone was enough to send Evan running out of the computer lab in seconds, fearing the inevitable fate of Connor Murphy.

 

Chapter Text

They had to find Connor, which would be easier said than done.

"Do you— do you know when it happened?" Evan asked, facing the inside of his locker. It was the only way he could talk to CMS without looking crazy or high, and he had to mutter.

"Like, near sunset, but that's it," even the spirit seemed on edge. "Fuck, I don't know!"

Evan wanted to assure him that'd it'd be okay, that everything would be fine, but he couldn't, because he didn't know what would happen to Connor, how to find him, or anything. He didn't know anything to help Connor. He didn't have enough time to figure any of this stuff out.

All he knew was that he was skipping his therapy appointment. If he went, he'd loose valuable time trying to find Connor. The bus took a ridiculous amount of time to get to certain areas and it was very inconvenient, but it was his only way of getting around.

So, he stopped at the bus stop, and waited.

"Do you even know where the hell you're going?"CMS snarled at him, before starting to 'pace', or just drift from place to place.

Evan slipped his phone out, and held it up to his ear, so it seemed like he was talkin on the phone. "I— Cynthia said there were some p-pills that went missing. Like Aspirin, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen— she said a ton of that was g-gone, and that they found you in, in a p-park."

"Okay, but which park?" CMS raised an eyebrow at him.

"She— didn't say," thankfully, the bus finally arrived, and Evan stepped on as the doors opened.

There was a fair amount of people on the bus, but it wasn't full enough to force Evan into asking some random stranger if he could sit with them. It was just awkward and weird, and Evan hated it, because he always, without fail, managed to make it weird. Parents were tiredly sitting in their chairs, with children that were talking away or playing with a toy they brought along. The elderly were slowly texting, while teenagers had earbuds in, drowning out the rest of the world.

Evan took a seat around the mid section of the bus. The way he saw it, if he sat in the back, he'd be taking too long to get off, which would piss everyone off including the bus driver, and he'd be kicked off with no way home. But if he sat in the front, it'd seem like he was in a rush to get off, which well, he was in a rush (because Connor could be dying and he needed to find him), but it'd look like he hated the bus and he didn't want to be associated one of those assholes who don't give a shit for anyone except themselves and everyone on the bus would be pissed at him, the bus driver would pass along that he was a dick and that they shouldn't let him on.

It was too far fetched, and Evan was aware, but that didn't soothe his anxiety.

"We're gonna— try E-Ellison State Park, cause it's— it's close to your house? So maybe you didn't go far?" Evan kept the phone pressed against his ear.

CMS scoffed, "That's a stupid place to start but... it's the only lead we've got."

Evan was tempted to snip 'You got any better ideas?' at him, but chose the wiser option. "I'll try to t-think of some other parks."

"Pretty sure there isn't a lot of those around," he taunted, leaning against the outer seat.

Evan bit his lip but lowered the phone, silently saying he was done talking to him. He really didn't want to think about Connor dying, because if he did, it'd be his fault. He was supposed to be saving him, but instead history was repeating itself, and he didn't know where the hell to go. Evan was scared, damn it, and not for himself, but for Connor as well. He couldn't lie to the Murphy's again, he just couldn't, and he wouldn't, because despite his good intentions in The Original Timeline, they became more centered around himself, whether he liked it or not, and he still hurt them in the end. He had to make things right.

While on the painfully slow bus, Evan decided to look up basic information on an overdose. Really, he only had ten minutes, maybe a couple more, before a body would shut down. The person experiencing this would gag and throw up, to try and expel the substances inside their body. They'd be really out of it and loopy, too, the predictability of what they'd talk about could either be them being lucid, or something entirely different.

Most importantly though, he needed to be prepared to perform CPR, and to call an ambulance. Thankfully he'd gotten CPR certified through a class his school offered, but he still dreaded just the thought of talking to an operator on the phone. Evan was aware it was their job to help people and save lives, but his mind was wracking up ideas as to how he'd embarrass himself (even though he shouldn't be worrying about that).

It took forever, but the bus stopped at Elision State Park at last, and Evan tried to act casual as he walked off. Ellison felt too familiar, and he swore his arm buzzed just from being there.

Evan frantically began to look for Connor, searching for benches or figures under trees, but the park seemed entirely abandoned. There wasn't a trace that proved that anyone had been there at all that day.

It was... really depressing, if Evan was being honest.

"This must bring back fun memories, huh?" CMS taunted him, looking around.

Evan shivered, just from that small mention. "Please don't."

"You know you did that to yourself," he stated. "The whole 'did you fall or let go', thing. Sadly I can't take credit for it."

He chose to ignore him, as he looked around. He bit his lip hard and brushed a hangnail. "He's... he's not here."

CMS curled his first, growling lowly. "I fucking knew this was a stupid place to start! I told you, but no, you didn't listen! You don't fucking listen!"

Instinctively, Evan took a step away from the spirit. Yelling at him would cause two different reactions; he'd either get defensive, or he'd fall silent and take it. He wrapped his arms around his shaking torso and shut his eyes.

Something must've changed in CMS, because suddenly the screaming ceased. The world around them went too quiet, and the only sound Evan could register was the wind blowing, and CMS breathing softly.

The latter inhaled deeply, exhaled sharply, and grumbled, "Let's get the hell out of here..."

All that went down had changed. Just like that, and just that quickly. Despite his confusion, he obliged, making his way back to the bus stop.

Surprisingly, CMS didn't say anything for once, as he avoided looking at Evan all together. It made him feel unsettled, and the atmosphere around them felt awkward, to Evan at least. By the time the bus had arrived, the sun was just starting to set.

"I um, thought we could go to a park? Well, a, a d-different one, obviously," Evan was using the fake phone call act again. "It's kinda one of those s-smaller parks? That, that no one goes to? It's called Wilson Park. I u-used to go there a lot. When I was young, a-at least."

CMS seemed unsettled just by the name of the park. "I don't like the sound of that place."

"Maybe that's a, a sign?" Evan suggested feebly. He just received a shrug from the latter.

"You better be right about that place, because we don't have all night to go on a wild goose chase," the spirit warned, rolling up the sleeves of his trench coat and hoodie. "And I'm not too sure I'd be willing to give you a third chance."

Evan's stomach did a backflip at that last part. He lowered his phone slowly, and opted to wrap his arms around his torso as he stared out the window. He distinctly remembered the threat CMS made when he first saw him. "And if you don't accept, I can easily kill you," Evan remembers how that made his skin crawl and go impossibly dry, "I'm getting back at you one way or another. I'm still absolutely, one hundred percent pissed at you and what you did. And don't try the whole 'you need me!!!' Speech. Zoe's my second choice to you.". He doubted that it was an empty threat at this point.

It was another long bus ride, and by the time they made it to Wilson Park, the sun was almost completely set. However, as Evan and CMS stepped off the bus, it was apparent that the park was very small, and a lot of it was open, aside from a small wooded area.

Evan walked past the sign that welcomed visitors, but heard a sharp inhale, and when he turned his head, he saw that CMS was just outside the park.

"I don't like this place," he whispered, hugging his arms. "Don't wanna be here."

That's when he realized he found the right spot. "This is it. Come on, w-we gotta find you."

"Fuck," CMS didn't seem comfortable with that at all. "Why do I have to go with?"

"I think you'll know— w-where er... it happened," he was discreet, but only because he couldn't bring himself to actually say it.

Despite his hesitation, CMS slowly made his way into the park, and started to lead the way. They passed a small playground, a couple of benches, and even a swing set that swung in the gentle breeze. The aurora the park led was eery and somehow even more unsettling than Ellison. It felt like someone was watching him and his every move, judging every step and action straight up to the book, with how his hands were trembling, and lower lip being ripped at by his teeth rolling them.

The next thing Evan knew, CMS had stopped abruptly, and was staring ahead in front of them. There was a singular tree on the left hand side, and a final bench of the right. Under the tree was a figure that was cloaked by the darkness, and they were still standing.

They'd found him in time. Or, at least he wasn't dead.

"We found you," Evan was immensely relieved, but kept his voice down, not wanting Connor to see him so soon. "We're— we're not too late."

CMS kept staring at Connor, like he was trying to figure something out. "I'm not doing anything. Why am I just... standing there? Fuck, why can't I...remember?!"

"I'm— I'm going to t-talk to him," that thought made Evan's stomach fill with dread, but that was the only thing he could actually do. He hoped he'd be able to talk Connor down, maybe offer to be an actual friend, and walk him home. After all, if he showed he cared, that'd be enough, right? If Evan was in Connor's position, he'd say yes, but only because he's used to being forgettable.

But before he could even make the first step, he saw Connor sway, and collapse.

In an instant, Evan was off, running to Connor, because he hadn't saved him, not yet, and if he didn't hurry, he wouldn't.

He knelt down next to Connor, who was on his back, muttering to himself, his eyes dazed as he looked Evan up and down. Evan quickly pulled out his phone and dialed nine one one, and sputtered out what was happening to the receptionist.

CMS was shaking, his eyes glued to Connor. He was obviously uncomfortable, but wouldn't move away. "Save him, Evan. Save him, god damn it!"

Connor weakly turned his head to the spirit, and squinted. "Is... is that... m-me?"

Evan was glad he was off the phone by then, because he probably would've gone dead silent. How could Connor see CMS? No one else had been able to, and he doubted CMS knew why.

"Connor— Connor, l-look at me," he got in the way of the spirit, hoping to get his attention. "You need to s-sit up!" He tried to sit him up.

Connor's body resisted, as he leaned to the side and began to throw up. If he wasn't sitting up, there was a chance he could choke on his vomit. He had to sit up.

Evan pushed him up against the tree so he could sit against it. Connor lulls his head sideways as he heaves in deep breaths, before he puked again, mainly getting vomit on his trench coat.

"I'm sorry Z-Zoe," Connor sounded so exhausted. "I'm— sorry, mon and d-dad." His voice was getting low and gravely, and he sounded close to crying. It pained Evan, because he knew there was a major wedge between him and his family, and Connor probably thought he wouldn't see them again.

Sirens wailed in the nearby distance, but it'd still be a minute until the paramedics found them. He had to keep Connor conscious for as long as he could.

"S—stay with me. You c-care," it was a weak plea, as Connor grabbed onto his forearm and held it loosely.

Evan shook his head. He understood not wanting to be alone in the hospital, but that was too soon, and too invasive. "No, you need y-your family."

"They d-don't care," Connor was fighting to stay awake at this point. "Please."

"I—" Evan's voice shook, and he stopped himself, before saying softly, "I'll visit, o-okay?"

"Okay," the paramedics were nearly there, and Evan stepped out of their way. Two of them carried a stretcher, and hoisted Connor onto it and into the ambulance in a matter of minutes.

"Excuse me," one of the paramedics pulled him aside. "Can you tell us what what happened here?"

Evan swallowed so harshly his Adam's apple bobbed. "I— I was out running, and I saw him fall d-down. He s-swallowed stuff like uh— Aspirin, T-Tylenol, and Ibuprofen."

The paramedic nodded, taking note of all of this. "Would you like to give us your name? You can claim to be anonymous, though, for privacy reasons."

"A-anonymous would be nice," the last thing Evan wanted was attention for this. He assumed Connor would probably be pissed, anyways.

"You do realize you could've, um hello, talked to him if he knew you saved him!" CMS told him off once they arrived back at his house.

"He'd hate me," Evan felt numb and heavy. He hadn't stopped shaking. "He hates me."

"Probably could've made things easier for you, but whatever," CMS wandered off to another section of the house, still fuming.

That night, Evan didn't find sleep as easily as he would've liked.