After Evan “falls” from the tree he is found by two boys, one who’s obsessed with everything 90s and one who’s plan to be popular nearly caused a computer based apocalypse. They kind of freak out at first, I mean who wouldn’t they just saw a kid fall out of a tree and probably die right in front of them, but end up calling an ambulance to take Evan to the hospital (Michael nearly gets into a fist fight with one of the paramedics in order to allow both him and Jeremy to ride with them to the hospital). Evan ends up with a concussion, some serious bruising, and a broken arm.
The boys don’t leave his side except to get some snacks, and even then only one of them would leave the room at a time. They insist on chatting with Evan, who’s a bit overwhelmed honestly, but they don’t seem to mind his one word answers or even his slightly longer stuttered responses so he goes along with it. Long after Evan is officially released the boys are still sitting together and talking about anything from video games to books to school to parents, as they wait for Evan’s mom and Jeremy’s dad to show up. Once both parents arrive (and they do wait for both to make an appearance because none of them wanted to leave each other so quickly) Michael and Jeremy insist on not only giving Evan both their phone numbers but also on signing his cast. They sign the inside portion of his cast, Michael in big swoopy letters and Jeremy with his chicken scratch hand writing, because Michael states (in an over exaggerated tone) that the inner portion is obviously the best place to sign because it’s closer to the heart. Jeremy tells him that’s really gay but he signs the cast with a smile on his face.
About two days after Evan gets home he finally pushes down his anxiety enough to shoot off a simple ‘hi’ to one of the boys. Almost immediately afterwards they set up a group chat and start blowing up Evan’s phone with corny jokes and puns, and Evan can’t stop smiling. Even though Evan usually doesn’t participate much in the group chat, Michael and Jeremy don’t care, they relish in every small sentence (“HE’S ACTUALLY SAYING MORE THAN TWO WORDS JEREMY!”) that they receive from Evan. They become the best of friends over the rest of the summer and even meet up once or twice at at a little park almost right between their two towns. Michael starts talking about his insecurities, Jeremy opens up about what had happened his previous year (changing up the story a bit to exclude the SQUIP), and Evan even tells them about the letters he’s supposed to be writing for his therapist (they had found out about Evan’s severe anxiety after they had to coach him through a panic attack during one of their visits to the park).
And then school comes around, but Evan’s a little less stressed because now he has Michael and Jeremy, and everything is set in motion. Even still gets teased by Jared (“What are you, an acorn?”), and still gets pushed by Connor (“What are you laughing at?!”), and still talks with Zoe (“You apologize a lot.”), and still gets his letter stolen (“Is this yours?”). But this time he doesn’t call Jared. Instead he calls Michael or Jeremy or maybe both because they’re always together nowadays. And Evan is freaking out because Connor has taken his letter, his letter that’s for his appointment, his letter that’s full of material for Connor (though he doesn’t think Connor would, he’s not sure why he just doesn’t) or someone else to make fun of him with. He had talked about that morning, about Connor (vaguely of course but it was still there). And he had written about, not Zoe, but Michael and Jeremy and how they were his only real friends. And isn’t that just pathetic. And he’s spilling all of this to these boys he just met a month or so ago. And he thinks he might be crying he’s not sure. But he’s definitely having trouble breathing and Michael and Jeremy are doing their best to calm him down (“Evan, just breathe, you’re gonna be fine.” “Take it slow, just take your time.”) but it’s kind of difficult to do over the phone. Eventually they calm him down and are able to get the full story out of him, or the important bits anyway because Evan is speaking so fast they’re wondering if he’s even breathing at all. They all brainstorm ideas on how to get the letter back (“Maybe you can seduce him with your tree knowledge.” “MICHAEL NO.”) and eventually they come with what they think is a full proof plan.
1. Maybe they tell Evan to go to the Murphy’s and talk to Connor. So he goes and he’s honestly terrified, not entirely because of Connor but also because Zoe is going to be there and also their parents and what if they think he’s weird or crazy and they don’t let him in and he can’t get the letter and he can’t take it to his appointment and he can’t he can’t he can’t- But he goes anyway. And stands out on the sidewalk for a solid ten minutes. He finally builds up the courage to knock on the door and someone answers (maybe Zoe or Mrs.Murphy) but they let him inside and tell him where Connor’s room is and then there’s another door he has to knock on. So he does and Connor opens it with the scariest (or maybe the saddest) look that Evan has ever seen. But he’s on a mission so he stutters out his request which might sound like gibberish but Connor seems to get the gist of it because he’s glaring at Evan like he was in the library, and Evan’s kind of scared again. Connor only speaks one word (“Why?!”) but it has Evan flinching all the same and stuttering even more, but he manages to get his answer out. But once he starts, he can’t stop and suddenly he’s spilling out everything; how bad his anxiety is, how nerve wracking his appointments are, how horrible school is, and how absolutely terrible his life is. And by the time he’s realized what he’s saying, Connor’s glare has lessened and he’s got this strange look on his face (pity?). But he doesn’t say anything, he just sighs and goes to get Evan’s letter. He expects Evan to just leave afterwards and honestly so does Evan. But he doesn’t. Instead he stays, standing in the doorway for a moment, before cautiously walking inside. He manages to push out a question (“Are you okay?”), his voice quiet but steady for once in his life. He’s not really sure why, though. Maybe he had seen something in the dark, blank room that resonated with him. Or maybe it was that look on Connor’s face, the look that, for once, wasn’t an angry one. But it didn’t matter. Because the look vanished in an instant, morphing into something even more vulnerable the second the question was asked. And maybe Connor saw something in Evan as well, something that made him trust the anxious boy, because then he was just talking. They talked for what seemed like hours but was probably only thirty minutes, before Evan had to go home. Connor scribbles down his phone number on a post-it note, or maybe Evan’s cast, and they part ways. Evan sees Connor at school the next day, and even the next, and they keep talking. And maybe he introduces him to Jeremy and Michael, and now Connor has a total of three (THREE?!) friends. They add Connor to the group chat, and sometimes they’ll even drag him to the park(or the apple orchard that he talked about sometimes). The more they hang out the more they start to trust each other and start opening up. Connor tells them about how he sometimes wants to die, Evan tells them the truth about the tree, and Michael and Jeremy even talk about the SQUIP. And they’re happy. But of course it doesn’t cure Connor’s depression or anything else. It doesn’t cure Evan’s anxiety, or Michael’s insecurity, or Jeremy’s nightmares. But it’s nice. Nice to actually be able to speak about their problems. Nice to have somebody to confide in. Nice to just…talk. And that’s what they do. They just talk…..and maybe even take in the view.
2. Or maybe they tell Evan to just wait. To wait until the next day. To wait to talk to Connor. So he does. But Connor doesn’t show. So Evan waits again till the next day, but Connor’s still not there. By the third day Evan’s a bit concerned, even more so when he’s called down to office. He meets Connor’s parents and they tell him that’s Connor killed himself and he’s….numb. He’s not sure what to think, but he keeps listening. They (mostly Mrs.Murphy) talk about Connor and the “incident” (they say it like Connor’s death was some sort of an accident), and Evan wonders why he’s even there. Why they chose to talk to him about this. And then they bring up the note. A note which is apparently addressed to him. A note which looks familiar to him. And then the numbness is gone. Replaced by the usual anxiety. Because they think that that letter, his letter, is Connor’s suicide note. And he wants to explain. Wants to say something. Wants to tell them the truth. But he can’t. He can’t speak, he can’t get the words out. So when they ask him to join them for dinner he just nods. And they leave, satisfied. And he leaves, shaking. He waits till school ends (because he may have skipped the rest of the day but that doesn’t mean he wants Jeremy and Michael to), and he called them. He’s a bit more calm this time, but maybe that’s just the lingering numbness. He tells them about Connor, about Connor’s parents, about his note. There’s silence for a moment, and then Jeremy and Michael are asking question and bouncing ideas off each other so fluently that Evan is suddenly reminded how long they’ve known each other. Eventually they stop and they’ve both agreed that Evan must tell the truth. But Evan’s not sure how he can do that, he couldn’t even say one word to them the first time so how is he supposed to do that. So maybe they decide one of them will go with Evan to the Murphy’s (and of course they choose Michael because, “I’m obviously the better talker between the three of us, JEREMY.”) to help explain the situation. So they do and it goes pretty smoothly, and they’re honestly a bit surprised by how easy it was. But Evan still feels like shit because these people had thought they had a final connection to they’re son/brother (though he can tell Zoe’s not as heartbroken) and it turned out it was just some other depressed kid with some serious issues. And he tells this to Michael and Jeremy and they think maybe they can put together something for Connor? Something for people to remember him. But they’re not really sure what, so Evan suggests they ask someone, maybe Jared and Alana, or Christine (♪Christine Canigula♪). And Jeremy and Michael agree so they call them up. And suddenly they’re all working on this thing (they think they should probably give it a name) for Connor, to remember him and to reach out to others who feel alone. And Evan still does his speech, and Michael and Jeremy are so proud. And suddenly they’re helping so many people. They’re sending emails and texts and calling and video chatting to all these kids, and adults, who feel like Connor did, who feel like Evan still does sometimes. And it’s great. Because people are being found just like Evan was found and he’s so happy that he could help do this for people.