Once again, to no-one’s surprise, something is on fire. Actually, most of the set is on fire. That’s definitely a new record, Trevor thinks, watching idly from his booth as another wall collapses in a burst of sparks.
He thinks he should probably help.
With a long-suffering sigh, he walks down the stairs toward the stage. Halfway down and his eyes are already burning with the smoke. It’s absolutely acrid. He’s not sure what’s burning to make such pungent fumes; someone’s wig, maybe?
Trevor turns the corner to the stage, fire extinguisher already in hand. He can see the audience being hurriedly escorted out, with no-one paying a second mind as to whether the actors are okay. He can’t see anyone, but he figures they’re all helping each other through the emergency escape backstage. At least, he hopes so.
He wanders on stage, fairly nonchalant. When you’ve seen as many Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society Fires as he has, even the rush of roaring flames in your face starts bothering you less. He aims the nozzle and sprays, a rush of foam smothering the fire on the wall closest to him. It’s a shame. Chris spent so long painting the shelf onto that one.
He keeps going, putting out a sagging, smoky sofa, a false lamp that’s been painted yellow to represent light, a real shrubbery, and Chris’ nicest rug. Not so nice anymore.
Trevor wonders if anyone’s called the fire department yet. He’s sure they’ll arrive quickly, since they never have anything else to do in Cornley but stand by and wait for the Society to put on another show.
He realises he’s not even sure how the fire began. Last he'd been paying attention, Chris was reciting Shakespeare, as he’d insisted that having his character be the only one speaking in old Shakespearean while everyone else recited the translated versions really added something to the production. Unfortunately, everyone had translated their own scripts, and the result was like a seven person play with seven different scripts. Trevor had given up trying to follow it ten minutes into Act One, and had been absentmindedly making a remix of Girls on Film on his phone when he glanced up to see Jonathan screaming hysterically and attempting to heroically carry Sandra off the stage as the flames licked up the walls behind him.
He keeps spraying the flames. He’s amazed at how much these little canisters can hold in them. Just as that thought crosses his mind, he feels the trigger jam.
“Oh, bugger.” Trevor says, trying in vain to unjam it as the fire creeps closer. The theatre is nearly empty now, and he thinks he can hear a fire truck approaching somewhere outside. He turns the thing upside down and is about to look down the nozzle when he sees something under one of the chairs. A teddy bear. A battered, pink (somewhat) teddy bear with a single button eye. A teddy bear with MAX’S TEDDY BEAR written on the back in sharpie. A teddy bear that currently has one leg on fire.
Trevor’s mind flicks to his phone wallpaper, a candid photo of Max showing the cast his bear and insisting that ‘Mr Cuddles’ have a part in the show. Trevor only has to think about his smile for a second before the fire extinguisher hits the floor and he’s diving for the chair to save Mr Cuddles.
He grabs one arm and yanks the bear out, but he realises that fire spreads surprisingly quickly on a stuffed toy. He watches the fire creep up the bear towards its face. Towards his hand. Like a child holding a sparkler too close to the end, he drops it with a yelp. The bear bounces off his leg and across the stage, leaving a trail of fiery doom in its wake.
Trevor breathes a sigh of relief. He remembers how unpleasant being alight is.
Then he realises his pant leg is on fire.
“I can’t believe you stayed behind to rescue Mr Cuddles,” says Max, as he finishes reapplying the bandage to Trevor’s leg. Trevor shrugs, not really sure how to correct him. He opts to lean back against the cushions instead of replying. Max’s couch is very comfortable.
“I mean, you didn’t really rescue him. But I know he appreciates the thought.”
Trevor grunts. His leg hurts, but Max’s hands feel very nice as they carefully finish tying off the bandage. He can feel the grogginess from the pain meds kicking in, and he lets his eyes close.
The couch dips as a weight settles beside him, and he feels something soft brush against his forehead as some part of him registers the gentle scent of Max’s shampoo right in front of him.
Max pulls back from the kiss.
“I know I appreciate it, anyway.”