Almost Human

Date: Dec. 2002 - Feb. 2002
Warning: Spoilers for various parts of the show. Maybe OOC. (I hope it's not too bad, I tried my best to keep the individuals in character.)
Author's Notes: This takes place 5 years after the end of the series. It is my first and probably last attempt at a "ZAGR" fic. "ZAGR" means Zim and Gaz Romance for all those newbies, (like I was a month and a half ago), who don't know. The themes in this fic are very common ones... I started writing this before I read anyone else's fanfiction, and have come to realize that some things in here have been done all ready. Several times. *sighs* I hope you enjoy it anyway.
This fic is finished. :)
Disclaimer: Invader Zim was created by Jhonen Vasquez and belongs to Nickelodeon, not me, and I am not making any profit off of the following work of fiction.


Part 1 - Changes

Gaz sighed as she rolled over and burrowed deeper into her silken quilt. She didn't want to go to skool. Of course she never wanted to go to skool, because doing so meant that she would have to associate with the other stupid members of her race. But this morning she especially didn't want to. It had to do with the weather no doubt.

It was raining. Heavily. Unlike most teenagers her age who really liked the rain, Gaz hated it. That probably had something to do with the fact that it seemed that every time she went out in a rainstorm, she would get wet, no matter how many precautions she took. She tried everything from wearing several layers of raincoats to using the largest, sturdiest umbrella in the world, all to no avail. Of course, her getting wet was usually directly related to her brother, Dib and the alien, Zim. She usually went where ever her brother went, and her brother usually went where ever Zim went, and whenever it rained her brother always tried his best to get Zim wet. And it almost always backfired onto her.

So she was seriously considering staying in bed today. She half shut her eyes and had almost dozed off again when her brother screeched at her from down in the living room.

"GAZ!" Dib shouted. "Are you coming to skool?" and then a minute or so later: "If you don't come to skool Gaz, I'll tell Dad!!"

Sighing, and muttering about how much she would like to kill her brother, Gaz slowly crawled out of bed.

Gaz took the necessary precautions that day, packing an umbrella AND three layers of raincoats, even though she was fairly certain that she would get very wet anyway. She wondered why she bothered.

She watched her brother out of the corner of her eye as they made their way through the puddles towards the skool, knowing *exactly* why his eyes darted about eagerly with that particular gleam in them. She sighed more than once to herself and hung back. Far back.

However no little alien disguised as a human made his appearance on the way to skool. Dib was more than a little disappointed, she could tell by the look on his face as they neared the run down high skool building.

They separated once they reached the grounds and she went to walk over to where the people in her grade usually hung out, but not before she caught the confused look on her brother's face. She followed his gaze. She found what he was looking at, and stared herself.

It was Zim. Standing huddled beneath an over hang of the roof, he had his arms wrapped around himself as if to ward off the cold. His eyes were cast downward and he looked...

Well he looked absolutely miserable.

Despite any apparent miserableness on Zim's behalf, Dib still took the opportunity to rile the green skinned alien at any chance he got that day. It disgusted Gaz. She knew that, despite the fact that they were in high skool now and all such pettiness on the behalf of students where usually left behind, her brother was still one of the loser kids in the skool. Of course she was pretty low on the social latter herself, but that still didn't mean that she made anyone else suffer because of it. Not her brother however. Oh no. Zim was probably the only one lower than her brother, if life must be judged according to popularity, but at least Zim was basically ignored by the rest of the students. The only person dedicated to making his life miserable was her own miserable brother.

If she were asked, she would say that her brother had it good. No one ever picked on him anymore, unless of course he chose to open his stupid mouth and begin prattling about the paranormal. Or blabbing about certain members of the student body being aliens. Zim wasn't nearly as lucky. She watched as her brother tripped the little alien before classes that day then laughed uproariously. All of the students around Dib either ignored him, like she did, or glared and muttered under their breath as they moved off to their classes.

"What's the matter ZIM?" She listened to her brother taunt as she began walking away. "Weren't you watching where you were going?"

She paused, listening without turning back around, for Zim's response. Even after "knowing" each other for five years, Zim usually came up with the same kind of responses to any of Dib's attacks. They usually included insults like "Stupid human" or "filthy stink-beast" and were often followed up with egotistical ranting. ("I am ZIM!") If she were asked, she'd even insinuate that the two enjoyed it. They probably did.

Today she heard nothing. Hmm... She thought to herself, that's odd. Turning, she took in the scene behind her.

She was met with a surprise. She watched Zim pick himself off of the ground. The small alien brushed off his pants once, twice, then seemed to give up. His shoulders slumped forwards and he walked away quietly, his head still down.

That... now that wasn't normal.

Her eyes met Dib's for a fleeting instant. Her brother wore an incredulous look on his face and his jaw hung open in disbelief.

She joined Dib in the cafeteria later that day. She settled down next to him and opened her game pack like she always did between classes. The years had done little or nothing to wean her from her most addicting habit. She just had a newer system now. The Game Slave 6.

She became aware of the fact that her brother was being oddly quiet and still (for him) half way into the second level of her game. She frowned and paused her game, raising her head. She wasn't used to her brother being quiet. She looked up at him. He was staring off at another part of the cafeteria, a deep thinking frown on his face. She followed his gaze, and then frowned herself.

It was Zim. The little alien sat perched on a chair across the room, at the end of a long table occupied by other people. That was strange in of its self... Zim ALWAYS sat alone. People had become quite used to him being alone, and unlike elementary skool, nobody really cared whether you had friends or not here in high skool. The skool was much too large. That wasn't what made her frown though, it was the fact that Zim would often glance at the people he sat with, then flinch and look back down at his food again. Then he would look up and the process repeated. The people he sat beside, for their part, ignored him.

She suddenly felt an unexpected flash of pity for Zim. It looked like he actually wanted to make a serious effort at being social, and it looked like that attempt was failing miserably. She doubted that the people Zim sat next to even knew he was there.

Apparently they were about to find out.

She glared at her brother's back as he got up from the table and slowly made his swaggering way over to the new table. She knew what he was going to do even before he reached Zim and smirked down at him. Muttering under her breath, Gaz got up from the table as well.

Dib's words rang in her ears as she approached. "Hey ZIM," He taunted. "Trying to make friends with HUMANS are we?"

Gaz fully expected Zim to retort in the way he hadn't that morning in the hall. This was a little much, and a lecture on the greatness of Zim was bound to begin. Instead Zim surprised both of them further by opening his mouth, then shutting it again. Gaz watched as his cheeks flushed a deeper green then usual and he glanced at the people he shared a table with. They all stared back, uncertain as to what to make of these people who had disturbed their conversations. Zim looked away again, flushing deeper, then got up from the table with a quiet "excuse me". Gripping his tray, he turned and marched off through the cafeteria.

She casually walked up and stood next to her brother, watching his face as confusion ran across it again. He opened his mouth anyway though, to yell after the retreating alien, only to receive an elbow in his ribs. Hard. Gasping he turned. "Gaz?" He questioned.

"Leave him alone." Gaz said. It was one thing to let her brother pick on Zim when it was obvious that both her brother and the little alien got some sort of twisted joy out of their stupid little battles... it was another when the battles where decidedly one sided.

Zim wasn't in skool the next day, which wasn't entirely unusual for the green skinned alien. It also meant that she didn't have to listen or see her brother pick on him, which was a welcome relief.

Zim made an appearance the day after that, but only for a little while. For what little Gaz saw of the alien, she honestly had to say he looked awful. His hair, which her brother and her both knew was a wig, was slightly askew and his eyes looked like they had huge circles under them. He didn't look up at any one, not once, and instead slouched through the halls, dejected and alone. Before lunch he had disappeared again, much to her brother's immense disappointment.

The next day there was no sign of Zim again, and her brother began to rant.

She personally hated it when her brother ranted. She tuned him out, knowing that it was the same old gibberish as all the many many times before. Blah blah, Zim is up to something, blah, blah, must save the world, blah blah. She had no idea why Dib wanted to save the world anyway, it was a stupid pathetic place, undeserving of saving. She had said so often enough herself. Not only that, if Zim hadn't managed to destroy the world in the space of five years, she hardly doubted that he was going to do it now. She knew that her brother, deep down knew that as well. Sometimes she thought he ranted just to hear himself speak. That was annoying too. No one ever cared what she thought though.

She deliberately ignored her brother when he said that he was going to go over there and demand that Zim tell him what he was up to. She ignored him when he came back an hour or so later, steaming. Literally. He hadn't been able to break into Zim's base. Again. The little alien must have updated his defenses. Also again.

That made up the day's entertainment for the next week or so. Every evening, Dib would do everything in his power to try to break into Zim's base. Every evening Dib would return, burnt, slightly smoking and very unsuccessful. It was enough to drive her brother crazy, the fact that he couldn't get near his mortal enemy and only source of entertainment any longer. And Zim wasn't coming to skool...

It took about a week, but Gaz finally began to become concerned with Zim's prolonged absence from skool. That day Dib had insisted that they take the long way to skool, which included walking past Zim's "house". As they stopped in front of the house, Gaz looked up from the novel she was reading long enough to get a good look at it. What she saw startled her. She hadn't expected it to look so... vacant. The lights were off in the house that usually let off an eerie green glow, and the curtains were all drawn. The lawn had grown high and unkempt, nourished by recent rainfall. The lawn gnomes glared at them with their reddened eyes and...

"Get down!" Gaz snapped at her brother, shoving them both out of the way and into the street. At the same time several laser zaps hit the ground where they had been standing.

Her brother was back on his feet and ranting in an instant. "Damn you Zim!" He was saying, shaking a fist at the house. "I'll get in there, just you wait and see!"

Gaz rolled her eyes. "Leave him alone." She growled. She was already walking down the street away from the house, her nose back in her book again. "It's obvious that he just wants to be left alone."

"Yeah but..." Her brother had to jog to keep up with her. "What about the world??" He asked. "He could be planning the end of the world!"

Gaz turned on her brother, her eyes blazing. "Or maybe he got sick and tired of you being an ass to him and decided that he just wanted to be left alone!!" She snapped. "Five years is kinda a long time. I told you Dib," She continued, even as when to turn her attention back to her book. "If the world hasn't ended by now, it's not going to. Now shut the hell up before I hurt you."

Dib didn't reply, but right before Gaz turned back around she caught the slightly stung look on her brother's face. She ignored it. One of these days her brother was going to have to learn that he couldn't make friends by picking on them. If Zim was done playing around, then so be it.


It was in the middle of class that day when Gaz decided to do something about Zim herself. She wasn't usually one to be too concerned with either her brother or her brother's best enemy and only friend. But Zim's recent behavior struck her as very... different. It was different in a way that caused her to be concerned not for the end of the world or anything stupid like that, but in a way that made her concerned for *him*. She knew about as much as her brother did about Zim, as she made it her job to know about everything around her. She just appeared not to care about things she knew about and usually she didn't.

However in this case... in this case she did care.

Maybe just a little bit. But it was enough. She knew Zim well enough to know that the little ego-maniac put up a huge front the vast majority of the time. Sure, he probably didn't at first... as much of his ego stemmed from the fact that he was sure he was better than any of the rest of them. But she had a feeling that over the years he had perhaps become a little more human than he had ever expected. Though they rarely, if at all, got to see what was really underneath that front Gaz knew that a little more of the real Zim had been shown to them last week when her brother picked on him.

Either that or something horrible had happened to the little invader.

She frowned as she thought, considering. She had half a mind to trek over there and find out what it was that was bothering Zim. Maybe if she found out it would stop her brother from trying to find out...

But then why did she care anyway?

She grumbled to herself and told herself that she didn't care. In actuality she did though, no matter how much she tried to convince herself otherwise. It was a VERY well hidden fact that NO one would ever know... she sorta liked her brother's sworn enemy. How could she not? They were so much alike, both of them hated the vast majority of the human race... Zim was just stupider. And naive. And louder. Very loud. Prone to rants... She winced.

Okay, that didn't help her any. She shook her head slightly, then considered. How or when would she go and check on him then?

The answer came in to her the middle of Gym class. It was when she found out that they had to do forty laps around the skool's field, to be precise. When she discovered that she wasn't allowed to skip out of the class due to feminine problems, which was her favorite excuse, she merely grabbed her bag and half jogged to the end of the skool field. There she slowed to a walk... and kept right on walking.

Zim's house greeted her exactly the same way as it had that morning on the way to skool. Frowning, Gaz put down her book bag on the sidewalk in front of the house and stepped cautiously back into the street. She waited. A couple of the lawn gnomes swung their heads towards the sidewalk but none of them shot at her or her bag.

"Hmm." Gaz moved back to the sidewalk. She shouldered her bag. The lawn gnomes watched her. She watched them back. Finally judging that a safe amount of time had gone by without them shooting at her, she shrugged and walked up the sidewalk of Zim's base. The gnomes let her go by without even charging up.

She gave the gnomes one last suspicious glance over her shoulder, then knocked on the door. "Hello?" She grunted. When no one answered it, she shrugged and tried the handle. It opened with ease.

"Oookay." Gaz muttered as she pushed inside. Usually if she wanted to get inside something she had to pick the lock. Or short it, depending on what kind of lock it was. "That was almost too easy," She muttered to herself.

The inside of Zim's house was deadly quiet and dark as she walked inside. "Hello?" She called out. There was no answer.

Frowning, Gaz reached over to one of the windows, carefully pulling the blind back. Instant sunlight flooded the vacant room. Gaz blinked, then waved the dust away from her nose. The living room area of the creepy house was just the same way as she remembered it. A distorted picture of a monkey's head hung above the now battered and worn couch. Opposite it sat Zim's freaky robot's huge entertainment center. It was also turned off.

Gaz looked about the room, puzzled. Then she moved towards the kitchen. Flicking on a light switch, she called out again. "Hello?"

For some reason her voice echoed back at her.

That was... odd.

A short inspection of the room revealed that a clothing chute of some sort sat beside the counter, it's lid open. Gaz walked over to it and peered down it. All she could see was darkness. For a moment she considered, then decided against it. She wasn't stupid enough to go wandering down a chute she wasn't all that sure she could get up again, even if she knew it would get her inside Zim's base. Instead she walked to the living room and purposely moved one of the end tables aside. She smiled as she found what she wanted. Instantly a glowing panel slid open on the floor. Gaz readjusted her bag on her back and stepped on it. She clutched her stomach as the elevator began it's lurching decent into the bowels of the earth.

The elevator deposited Gaz several layers down, the transparent door swinging open to reveal a room full of computer equipment and machinery. Narrowing her eyes, Gaz hesitantly stepped into the room, only to be knocked off of her feet as the elevator decided to re-accend quickly. She shook her fist at it, before returning her attention to the room she was now in.

"Hello?" She questioned again. She didn't know why she bothered. There was nobody here.

Which was why she was so surprised when someone did answer her. "Yes?" Rumbled the computer.

Gaz nearly jumped out of her skin. She recovered quickly, remembering that the computer knew her from a couple of years previous. She believed she had asked it if it had any video games. No matter. She walked over to the control panel. "Computer, where's Zim?" She demanded to know.

The computer rumbled for a bit, then a detailed schematic appeared on it's giant screen. Gaz blinked at it. It had several rounded layers with floors in them, and many winding tunnels connecting the floors. It took the teenaged girl about a half a second to realize that she was more than likely looking at the plans for the base. Her thoughts were confirmed when the computer spoke again. "He's two levels down and to your right." it replied. At the same time a giant arrow flashed on the screen, pointing to that part of the map.

"Thanks computer." Gaz said. She turned, her eyes quickly scanning the room for any doors or exits which would lead down to Zim.

"Before you go..." the computer continued, unexpected. Gaz turned back to it.

"Would you give this to him?" the computer asked. At the same time a piece of the floor burst out of place, right beside Gaz, and carried up a tray towards her hand level. In the tray lay a device that looked like a large syringe, complete with a pale blue liquid splashing about inside of the canister.

Gaz took it hesitantly. "What is it?" She asked, mildly curious.

The computer made a sound that came across suspiciously like a snort. "It's his vaccine. He can't really get better if he doesn't take it now can he?" The low voice seemed to grumble. "Oh yes, and the door is that way." At that moment a door across the room slid open, even though Gaz could have sworn that there had been no door there a moment before. It revealed a dimly lit hall behind it.

"Thanks computer." Gaz mumbled. With that she leapt off the platform and made her way towards it.

After several minutes of wandering around in the dark, getting lost, and then reorienting herself, Gaz was beginning to wish she was in Gym class still. The whole entire base reeked of dust and disuse, and there where more than enough random pieces of machinery sticking all about that if she tripped on them she could seriously injure herself. When she decided to check and see if Zim was okay, she hadn't expected the whole procedure to take up her entire afternoon. Of course she never expected to discover that Zim was injured or sick somehow, as the vaccine obviously indicated. Worried, she glanced back at her bag where she had placed the syringe, then continued to stomp down the dim corridors.

Several minutes later, she had started yelling. "ZIM!" She shouted as she came to yet another dead end. "Damn it, where are you?!" She turned about and went back to the main corridor, walked down it a bit farther and tried another hall.

This hall was different than the rest. It wasn't lit at all, making the machinery that lined it stand out in sharp shadows. Gaz hesitated for a long moment, her normally squinted eyes widening. After a moment she steeled herself. "It's just like a video game, Gaz," She muttered at herself, stepping into the corridor. Almost instantly she tripped over something and fell over on her hands and knees.

"What the f---?" She muttered, turning about to peer behind her. Perplexed she picked up the egg shaped object she had tripped over. She very nearly dropped it again, her breath catching in her throat. It was a robot's head. Zim's robot. Dulled blue eyes stared back at her as she held it.

His name was GIR or something like that, she thought, remembering the name that both Dib and Zim had called the little 'bot. "GIR?" She questioned out loud.

The robot didn't answer her of course, as it was detached from it's body and more than likely not operational presently. Sucking in a breath through her teeth, she tucked the robot's head under her arm and continued down the hall, muttering darkly about Zim and what she'd do with him once she found him.

At the end of the hall she came to a door. It was completely dark except for a small glowing panel with several symbols on it. After narrowing her eyes at it for several seconds, she tapped on a couple of them. Amazingly enough the door slid open on the second try.

That was easy, Gaz thought to herself. Shrugging, she stepped inside. There she stopped, squinting. There were no lights on inside. There were no light and she couldn't see a thing, except for a single beam of red laser which sliced through the air, made it's way down her face, and finally came to rest on the center of her chest. She stared.

"Well, well," A snide but very familiar voice cackled at her. "I see you've found a way into my base, DIB. Congratulations. Too bad for you that you'll never be leaving here... alive that is!"