Foreboding silence lingered around him as he walked mechanically down the vacant streets. The sky rumbled and swirled with black. It was something that usually elected such terror in the Irken but now...he simply felt nothing. If anything, it was almost a relief to know what loomed above, and that he wouldn't have to worry soon. Pain didn't scare him; he was desensitized to it at this point.

His feet dragged heavily over the cold concrete as his arms wrapped around himself in an attempt to comfort, something that up until now he was sure Invaders didn't need. Invader. He once reveled in pride at his title and now it just filled him with such a bleak and hollow despair.

A chill rippled through his uniform and made him grip himself tighter. A torrential downpour was perhaps moments away, and undisguised, his skin was even more vulnerable now. His vermilion eyes glowed in the dark and Zim was sure they probably attracted the attention of someone by now. It wouldn't be long before he'd be whisked away, to be poked and probed like a filthy earth rodent.

His minions were none the wiser, and barely acknowledged that he had left his base. How Zim envied them and simultaneously hated them for their carefree nature: the ability to live in a constant oblivious state, and never be fazed by what came their way. They probably wouldn't notice if he did disappear, just as he now painfully realized his own planet wouldn't. In fact, that's what they wanted.

The sky rumbled more. It was a ticking pendulum and time was running out. The thought brought Zim a feeling of tranquillity.

Some bushes rustled, something that would normally have the Irken on high alert, with his fazers out ready to pulverize the culprit. Now his eyes barely flickered to his enemy's gaze, that quickly flashed from angry to confused.

"Dib." There was no animated reaction or obnoxious shrieking from him. Zim didn't even raise his head. His voice had this ominous, uncharacteristic monotone."What are you doing here?"

This response (or, more fittingly, a lack thereof) was enough to stun Dib into silence before he could launch into a heroic tirade about stopping whatever evil he planned. He'd...never been within ten feet of Zim without hearing some loud and suspicious proclamation of a passion to take over the world, but there was none of it. As much as Dib hated to admit it, it was...almost concerning. At least, it was unnerving. He knew the Invader wasn't good enough at acting to pull off faking this...pain.

Beyond that though, the street light caught something that shocked Dib into almost stumbling. Light reflected over Zim's empty, crimson eyes. His antennae, always poised in excitement, had fallen back limply against the sides of his head. He was out at night, undisguised. Surely he realized that...he could still be seen in the dark, couldn't he?

"...Zim? What's wrong?"

It was common knowledge that a person could uphold the facade of being mentally stable until someone probed, and it all came crashing down. For Zim, that was almost the case but he upheld his mask of indifference as much as he could after a brief tremor passed him. His own facade was slowly cracking.

He turned away from Dib. His voice was absolutely lifeless and devoid of his shrill squawking. He didn't go off on a tangent or even show a glimmer of expression. "What does it matter to you, Dib?" No 'pig smelly', no 'Dib human' even.

That was the question of the year. What did it matter to him? It shouldn't. Zim was his enemy—Earth's enemy. A viable threat that needed to be purged, and he should leap at this opportunity while he was clearly vulnerable. At the very least, he should snap a photo. ...but he couldn't.

"I mean...I'm not just gonna let like this." Hurt, was the unspoken word. Sure he had caused him pain, but this was different. Was he supposed to derive some twisted satisfaction out of this? It was sick and crossed a thin line even he wouldn't cross.

Finally, Zim's face shifted to anger. "I don't need your pity!" he snarled, and the vicious shriek was almost comforting to Dib, since it sounded more like him. The streetlight caught a wet glint in his eyes and Zim furiously rubbed it away.

"I'm fine." Fine. Who was he kidding? He wasn't fine. He'd never be fine again—not until the rain finally fell and released him from this prison of heartbreak and betrayal.

Dib felt a flicker of hope as his enemy glared at him, but it died as Zim's expression faded back into silent indifference. Tears. Did he really just see tears? In all his years of knowing the Invader, sorrow was never something he saw. Disappointment when a plan failed perhaps, but nothing ever invoked a pain this...deep. Something about this behavior resonated strongly with the boy. How often did he feel listless when depression bit hard enough?

"You aren't fine. Just..." The sky was louder now and Dib's hands folded into anxious fists. He didn't want to get caught in the rain but he knew the repercussions if Zim did. "What happened?"

Zim wanted to just scream at the human. He wanted to leap at him and tear every piece of flesh from his face. He wanted someone to deal with at least a fraction of the pain he was going through, but he couldn't lift a finger. He didn't have the energy or motivation to muster up even a venomous word. He was just a shell of his former self. Comfort was being offered and for once, Zim couldn't ignore it, even by a mortal enemy. He needed someone now, even if he refused to admit it.

"You can keep your pitiful planet."

"Keep it." Dib couldn't help but sound incredulous. Either Zim was a damn good liar or he was doing far worse than he thought prior. For the sake of Earth he should prefer the latter, but he couldn't. After all this, he didn't want this to be the way it ended. Was that selfish? Was he just thinking of himself and not the human race? He pushed back the thoughts and tried to deal with the present time.

"Keep it?" he repeated again. "You're giving up? Now? You've been at this so long, Zim! Sure your plans always get ruined, but you never gave up!" There was a core question he was asking here. He needed to know what caused an alien as dedicated as Zim to just...up and quit.

"Stupid human! " Zim snarled at the child. "Zim does not QUIT! I should rip off your eyes for even suggesting such a thing! "

But the venom was short lived. He didn't know why he couldn't stay angry. It had never been an issue before. Hatred practically fueled an invader and why it faded Zim couldn't comprehend. He fell back into a quiet state of numbness, listless eyes gazing up to the dark sky as it lit with heat and threatened to bring rain. He should be frightened and run for coverage. He didn't know why he didn't care.

It wasn't like his species had any knowledge on what depression was; a killer among humans but Invaders didn't let themselves feel.

"I'm re purposing my mission." Even at his lowest hour he refused to verbally admit defeat when he had been ready to drop himself off at a lab."Off of your planet. It's not worth Zim's time. "

Finally the rain started to fall. It misted innocently over Dib but Zim's skin quickly began to smoke. He didn't even seem to feel it as the rain set to slowly liquefying him.

"Zim!" Dib yelled out in alarm as he watched his enemy smoulder. The air stank of rain and scorched flesh as the water started to fall harder. It pelted into his enemy. Skin started to peel off the Irken's face. It looked like a horror movie. "Zim, you're going to die!"

Like a limp doll, Zim suddenly collapsed to his knees. Dib didn't know if that was the Irken's strength finally giving out on him, or if he was deliberately making it difficult for Dib to move him.

The human hefted him up into his arms and Zim made no show of resistance. Sticky green matter stuck to Dib but he persevered anyway until he was at the Irken's base. He slammed open the base's door, rousing the robots in front of the tv. They stared over for a moment but quickly turned back to their entertainment. Dib assumed they stupidly thought Zim was sleeping.

"Computer!" he shouted to the unseen AI that was always in the base. "Get me...uh...I don't know, what do Irkens use for first-aid?!"

"Not usually needed," the computer droned. "An Irken's PAK is equipped with everything needed to heal minor wounds such as burns, lesions, and small bone fractures."

"Fine, fine..." Dib made a face at the green...goop covering his pants. It was thicker than blood, similar to that slime Gaz sometimes bought at the Dollar Mart. "But I think he could use something to at least clean all of this up. And what's the harm in bandages, right?" He shrugged.

A compartment in the wall opened up and mechanical hands extracted from it, holding a small square case that Dib supposed was for medical supplies. Upon opening the case however it was vastly different from a human's first aid kit. There weren't really bandages, but there was some sewing material. Not just a needle and thread, but the kind of equipment you'd use to patch up a stuffed animal. "This is...for the moose, I guess." He rummaged further until he finally found a string of cloth at the bottom of the kit next to spare scraps he imagined were for GIR.

"Would a normal medical salve help Zim?" Dib wondered.

"Master Zim should recover within the next half hour-no medical intervention needed."

Dib suddenly was more aware of the sticky, warm substance coating himself and oozing out of the alien's raw burns. It stained into the love seat and Dib rubbed it. It even felt even stickier than human blood, akin to craft glue. "Yeah well this couch will need some intervening."

He glanced back down at the Irken. Curled up in a stubborn fetal position, Zim had his back turned to the human. His antennae flattened against his skull, quivering slightly; the only sign he was even aware of the pain.

Dib made a face of disgust intermixed with concern at the sticky puddle pooling slowly underneath the Irken's head. At least the bandage would prevent more spillage until the wounds healed naturally. He tried to angle himself with the Irken so he could wrap him up. The moment the linen touched Zim's skull Dib braced for attack. Alarmingly enough, Zim didn't even flinch at the contact. He laid there, utterly compliant as the boy firmly wound his head in bandages. He didn't uncurl however, and that made trying to bind his lower body even harder for Dib.

"Zim!" Dib grunted, trying to push the Irken's legs down. It was like trying to dress an uncooperative infant. Somehow he managed to flatten the stubborn alien enough to apply the rest of the bandages. Zim's shivering wasn't as bad now. Perhaps the healing was taking an effect, or maybe the gauze in the bandages helped with the pain.

"So...he's fine now, right?" Dib wondered aloud. He knew it couldn't be further from the truth. His nemesis, one that would have annihilated him for even setting foot on the property, was curled up in the loveseat with no interest in the fact that he was there. "...Physically, anyway?"

The computer almost sounded like it shrugged. "Nothing you can do until his PAK takes effect."

Dib shot a helpless glance to the alien and then turned his attention to the small, oblivious robots parked in front of the television, watching a program about nonsensical beavers. Minimoose moved to tap the volume button but GIR snatched it away.

"Shhh! Not so loud! Master still sleepin'!" The young little robot glanced back at the clearly wounded alien and then turned back to the screen. Dib stared incredulously at the back of the android as he glanced back down to the very evident puddle of blood. He shook his head. Sleeping, right. Ignorance was bliss, he surmised.

Suddenly Dib's body snapped forward as he felt a surprisingly powerful force against his back. It sent him sprawling hard onto the tile. He whipped around just in time to see Zim retract his foot back under the covers, sending him a reproachful glare before he turned back to nestle into the cushion.

Although he scowled hard, Dib was admittedly relieved to see a glimmer of his enemy's insufferable attitude. At least he wasn't totally dead inside. He straightened himself and brushed off his trench coat. "You're welcome, by the way." The alien wouldn't even spare him another look. Dib cleared his throat loudly. "I said you're welcome, by the way."

He waited a moment, but the lump of green stayed entirely unresponsive. Dib sighed as he moved reluctantly to the door. He realized he didn't want to leave. It wasn't for his usual reasons of hiding behind furniture to snap quality pictures for his crop circle magazines; he was just...worried. He knew there was nothing he could do right now, especially if Zim wouldn't talk to him. Approaching the door, Dib's hand tightened over the knob in distress.

What's going on, Zim? What's gotten the obnoxious-never-shuts-up alien I know so quiet...and broken? He gazed back at the forlorn form, as if expecting a response. When none came Dib sighed and quietly, resolutely, shut the door behind him.

AN: Well it's certainly been a while since I've written one of these, let alone for an Invader Zim fanfic! So this is an idea I've been bouncing for a while. I've written some things about it with friends but I decided to expand and show more of the world!

the whole 'Zim finds out his mission is a lie' is pretty overdone and there's not many ways to write the confrontation and be original at the same time so I'm not really writing that part. There might be flashbacks and mentions of what conspired but for the most part we're just driving straight into the fanfiction.

A quick note that I will be unable to update very often I imagine. Due to medical conditions it's usually hard to type so I just kind of type when I can, but I have a lot planned for this fanfic so I definitely plan on writing it. Even though pairings won't be the main focus on the fanfiction there might be one but I'm not saying what yet. Anyway I hope you all enjoyed the first chapter! And will enjoy what's to come in store!