Samuel was well aware of Davis getting cast. He knew because of the posting, because of the gossip, because of Ashley, but mostly because he wanted to know and so he paid attention to the previously mentioned things. He let out a sigh, surprised it was a relieved one, and then he promptly stopped paying attention.
That is, he stopped paying attention until he was forced to. This happened at two very separate times. The first time, he had been working inside of the costume shop, having somehow managed to snag the job for a few hours a week. The room was probably too small for the number of tables inside and Samuel had to quickly get over his dislike of accidental physical contact, but the people were nice enough and they enjoyed the gossip of those outside the shop more than anyone in the shop, which was even better. It was a normal, hectic day. Samuel had already fixed one of the sewing machines, converted a dress to a skirt, resized a pair of pants, and was currently taking apart a large patterned shirt they’d grabbed from Goodwill.
Davis stumbled in.
“Steven ripped his pants again,” Davis said casually, as if he had not just tripped on his own feet. He was in a toga, which didn’t make any sense for the play he was in, but no one was going to question it when he was nearly shirtless. His hair was even more unruly than normal, waves ruffled in a way that somehow always stayed aesthetically pleasing, which was just unfair when Samuel had to constantly hide his mess of stringy hair under a hat. Davis was looking around and caught Samuel’s location. His face brightened. “Hi, Samuel.”
Ashley looked at Samuel. Samuel saw her look, squinted as if to ask what she was looking at, and went back to work. Ashley sighed.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get it,” she said to Davis. “Just tell him to leave it. I’ll fix it for rehearsal tomorrow.” Which most likely meant Samuel was going to be the one fixing them. On the bright side, at least he would get paid to do it.
There was more casual chatter that Samuel tried very hard to ignore, but the fact was he was still extremely curious, now more than ever. Davis seemed happy. He seemed perfectly in control, and that made Samuel’s stomach feel tight. What use would he be? He remembered Davis saying he surrounded himself by good people, that he wanted Samuel to be one of those people, but what else could Samuel offer him? Nothing, yet again. He had nothing to offer anyone.
He was the one who fixed Steven’s pants.
The second time Samuel was forced to pay attention was the day before opening night. Samuel made his normal, mentally necessary rounds, which included walking around the building, checking that all fire hydrants were still accessible, the stray cat was fed, the name of the building hadn’t changed, and there was no paint splatter on the ground from set construction. It was tedious, like a list of chores, but he wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else, let alone sleep, if he didn’t do them.
He did not expect to find Davis there, in the dark, sitting crouched against the side of the building, clutching his head.
Samuel stepped closer and was about to call out when he noticed Davis was actually crying. Shaking. Muttering under his breath, “Stop, stop, please…”
It was clear Davis was having some sort of crisis or panic attack and Samuel was the least equipped person to be able to handle these sorts of things. He turned to leave, to avoid what he couldn’t handle, but then he remembered the gossip. He remembered the two people who dropped out, the wary glances and hushed whispers of concern. He remembered that Davis was vulnerable and wanted Samuel around. He would have felt unbearably guilty if he left Davis, just as so many others probably had. He took a deep breath and turned back around, approaching Davis cautiously.
“Hey…” Samuel started, feeling awkward and completely unprepared. “Are you okay?”
Davis’s head shot up and he stared at Samuel as if him being there was the worst possible thing that could have happened in that moment.
Samuel held up his hands, eyes wide, and said, “I won’t hurt you. I can leave, if you want me to. I just…”
“I’m not worried about you hurting me,” Davis said, his voice strained. His eyes tried to focus as he blinked rapidly. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
Samuel froze at the words, realizing Davis’s vulnerability went past social issues. He had been possessed and he could be possessed again at any time—and it was looking very likely at that exact moment. Samuel considered running. He even took a step back to consider letting someone else deal with this so he could be safe. But looking at Davis, even through the spike of fear, Samuel knew there was no demon in control. Davis was fighting it off, struggling to keep more than just himself safe.
Samuel wanted to help. He wanted to be useful. He wanted to be given his own chance.
“What can I do?” Samuel asked earnestly, kneeling in front of Davis, placing a hand on his knee delicately.
Davis looked at Samuel, his eyes dark, his hair matted to his forehead. “Don’t let me hurt you,” he said, his voice labored. “If I—if I can’t stop.” He winced and ducked his head, hiding it with his arms and knees. “Don’t let me hurt anyone. Not again.”