Everyone quietly stared at the intruder with wide eyes.
It had been just another one of their regular briefings - the whole staff of the local pest control team gathering in their break / conference room in full gear, before heading out for the day.
And then someone had kicked in the door with a thunderous grunt, making everybody jump.
Someone invisible, it seemed at first, for the doorframe appeared to be empty. But being trained exterminators, the team knew that things are not always what they seem. So they collectively lowered their eyes, and discovered the little cockroach, somehow standing upright on its little hind legs.
“PEYTON!”, the cockroach cried, aggressively pointing with one of its front legs.
Everyone at the table turned to Peyton, the youngest of the bunch, who blushed rather furiously and desperately tried to curl up into a little ball.
The bossman groaned. “What did you do THIS time, kid…”
The middle-aged man considered himself to be mighty tolerant, all things considered, he was especially proud and self-congratulatory about using Peyton’s correct pronouns without a fuzz, but sometimes his employees were really testing his patience.
“Uh, I… I can explain?”, Peyton stammered.
“I WILL TELL YOU WHAT PEYTON DID, FOUL OVER-BEAST!”, the little roach cried, “THEY STOLE MY HEART!”
One of Peyton’s colleagues facepalmed. “What did I say? What DID I say about testing those new pheromones?”
Peyton didn’t know where to look.
“PEYTON!”, the roach continued, “I LOVE YOU! IT DOESN’T MATTER IF OUR FIRST ENCOUNTER WAS BASED ON LIES! I DON’T CARE IF IT WAS
ALL JUST A DISGUISE! I ACCEPT YOU FOR WHAT YOU REALLY ARE… EVEN IF I BARELY UNDERSTAND IT! I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, WARTS AND ALL! IT IS FOR YOU THAT I HAVE TRAVELLED DEEP INTO THE LAIR OF THE UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS… TO SAVE YOU!”
The roach awkwardly got into a sort of kneeling position.
“PEYTON, PLEASE COME WITH ME! LET’S LEAVE THIS WRETCHED PLACE BEHIND! I MAY JUST BE A LOWLY MORTAL, BUT I BELIEVE THAT OUR LOVE CAN CONQUER ALL… IF ONLY YOU ARE WILLING TO TAKE A CHANCE ON ME…”
Peyton mumbled something to themselves, and before anyone could say anything else, they leaped out of their seat, a deep shade of red, and jumped into the cockroach’s extended front limbs with an undignified squeak. By all laws of nature, the little insect should have been crushed, but no, a miracle - it appeared Peyton was awkwardly hovering a few inches above the ground as their tiny lover held them up, slowly turning around as it prepared to carry them outside.
“Peyton…”, the boss said angrily, “Peyton, you can’t be serious. If you don’t come back here, right this instant…”
“Sorry, boss!”, Peyton laughed, throwing away their official company cap, “I’m out of here!”
And so they walked off into the sunset. Very slowly, because even an extremely dedicated little cockroach is still a cockroach.