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Nobody really pays attention to the people at the bottom of the card. You slip in, act like you're absorbed in your phone, wear headphones that aren't playing any music, and the others let you listen. Who's tweaked their hamstring, who got stood up at their date last night, the manager's latest pick for a title shot: you hear it all. Some of it you use, some of it you don't. All that matters is that Cockroach listens when you tell him the plan for the night, gives that tiny nod and wide smile, because he trusts you totally. You've never led him astray, not since he came to you that first time. You, the nuisance, the fly on the wall one second from being squashed the moment your buzzing goes from annoying to intolerable. He chose you to be his savior. And maybe it's because all the other heels' evil was too real for him, and yours was such a punchline that he didn't feel threatened by it. Cockroach sure doesn't think like that anymore, but maybe he did then, when he still had some of his babyface sparkle. When he hadn't seen you poison a woman just to keep the two of you on a tour and charmed her so well she didn't notice a thing. When he hadn't taken your bloodstained clothes to be washed by his wife after you stabbed some bastard who wouldn't take your no for an answer.

The two of you make a great team in life, and maybe a decent one in the ring. All that really matters to you is that you're still wrestling together. It's one of the few direct moments of power you still experience in your life. Not working from the shadows, but hearing every held breath in the world just from tightening your arm around someone's neck. One of you draws all the attention with the surprise tool of the day, and the other sneaks behind and strangles them. One of you forgets to pack enough water and the other pretends not to be thirsty and hands their bottle over. He takes you home when you're too drunk to drive and includes you in videocalls with his American friends. Long mornings on the bus become your operating table: the maggots in your soothing words consume all the dead parts of him he hasn't learned to let go of, and that keeps the deeper Cockroach inside of him alive and healing.

It was so cute, the way Cockroach had said he just wanted to try it out. He would take his time healing and then return to being a babyface. As long as his fans didn't forget about him, as long as he didn't return before he was ready and make them want to forget, all could be forgiven. It's been almost a decade now, and losing him is something you only believe in your most panicked insomniac moments. Flip through all the bad things that could happen in your mind first, and then it might hurt a little less if they come true. Somehow you failed to imagine that it could end with him ripping off his mask in front of you. You liked to tell yourself that you gave him everything: the mask, the plans, the steel to carry them out. Really he could have anything and any person in the world that he wanted, because he's Omura Takashi. Just his dimples run away with hearts.

So much of you had become the man that stands behind Cockroach Mask, the man that loves Takashi, that starting back from where you were is impossible. Once the anger has cleared you realize you can't keep lashing out at him. That takes away your chance at staying who you are. You know this man better than almost anyone, and you know that he doesn't want to be a face, no matter how he acted that night. He wants to be a star, and he can be one. If you're honest with yourself, half the reason he isn't one right now is you. You know you can't be at the top, so you settle for living long and having a good time doing it. That attitude must have dragged him down. So against the worries and doubts in the back of your mind, the ones that say that any good heel would get him back for this, forgiveness makes you the same as civilians, he doesn't want your forgiveness in the first place-- you wait for him.