Disclaimer: No, I don't own Invader Zim. I never get what I want for Christmas, still haven't got that pony……

Authors notes: Well, here's my first offering in the whole Invader Zim genre! Wahoo! Unfortunately Nickelodeon here in Ireland has stopped showing Invader Zim so all my information may not be entirely correct. Also this is going to eventually be a slash fic, so if you don't like that I'd hit the olde back button in the top left hand corner of you screen. If you read this story only to flame me because it's slash....well, seriously, get a life.

Anyway...here's the fic........

"I've foiled every one of your ridiculous plots, Zim. This one won't be any different!" Dib glared at the much shorter "boy".

"Haha, so you think, foolish stink beast. But I have a plan so fiendish that you cannot hope to comprehend, let alone foil it. Soon I will have this petty planet in the palm of my hand and you will bow before me!" Zim raged back.

For the most part the other students ignored their constant bickering. They were used to it by now. Dib and Zim had been at loggerheads since middle school and now, years later, their rivalry showed little hope of easing. Not that anyone cared. They were both out casts, loners, and their antics, while occasionally amusing, generally went below the radar of the average high skooler.

"How many times have I heard that, Zim. You're starting to sound like a broken record. Why don't you go hassle some other planet and leave us alone?" Dib glowered down at Zim. Puberty had seen Dib gain well over a foot and a half and his 6'2 frame, while still skinny, towered over Zim.

Zim however had enough ego for someone ten times his height and never once was intimidated by the human's superior height. It infuriated him that Dib of all people had grown so very tall but he decided long ago to use this anger in a more positive fashion, by devoting his extra energy into more ingenious plots for world domination. All of which had some how been foiled by Dib. Stupid stink beast. "Yeah? Well at least I can keep my bodily fluids under control, unlike you, you filthy human!"

"What?!" Dib's face contoured in confusion until he felt a bead of moisture run down his lip and land on his shirt. Absent-mindedly Dib wiped his lip with the back of his hand and was in the process of retorting when a splash of colour drew his attention. Quizzically he brought his hand up to his face and examined the fluid smeared across the back of it. Blood, bright red and copper smelling was drying on his skin. He drew in a shaky breath at the sight of it. All thoughts of Zim abandoned, he once more brought his hand to his face and felt across his top lip. Sure enough blood was trickling slowly from his nose. He gaped at the sight of his own blood adorning his hand before the flow began to increase in pressure and he was forced to bring his hand to his nose to staunch the flow. Metallic tasting blood moistened his lips as he began to make his way to the rest rooms, muttering something about tissue to himself. Before he made it five paces, however, he began to feel weak. His legs could no longer support his weight and he felt himself tumbling towards the ground. He tried to put out his arms to protect himself but he couldn't move his limbs at all. His eyelids became heavy and suddenly his world turned black.


"Yeah? Well at least I can keep my bodily fluids under control, unlike you, you filthy human!" Zim contorted his face in disgust as a trickle of red fluid, human blood, ran down Dib's nostril. Eugh, humans got worse every day!

"What?" He smirked at Dib's confusion as awareness slowly dawned on the other boy. Zim watched perplexed as Dib observed his blood stained hand, a look of terror such as Zim had never been able to evoke washed over Dib's face. Blood then began leaking from Dib's other nostril and he was forced to cover his nose with his bloody hand. Zim tried to rip his eyes away in pure disgust as blood began dripping off Dib's chin and splattering his T-shirt. Dib shakily turned towards the skool building but his steps became increasingly clumsy and almost instantly he collapsed on the hard tarmac of the yard. His head made a sickening crack of the gravel ground bringing the scene to the attention of almost everyone present.

The student body stood motionless before a short, plump girl with curly hair and glasses rushed to Dib's side. She began to examine him while barking orders to a near by student to get help. In almost no time at all a large crowd gathered around the unconscious boy. Zim had to push his way to the front but he was definitely not going to miss this. He'd never seen anything of this kind happen to Dib before. He almost laughed out loud at such a pathetic sign of weakness. He made his way to the front row with more ease than he originally presumed. Some people were still weary of his "skin condition" even after these many years. Smirking widely, he gazed down at his archenemy. The self-satisfied smirk fell from his face though when he took in Dib's stature. He had regained consciousness at this stage. The girl by his side, Melissa, a voice in Zim's head informed him, was talking to him in a soft, pleasant voice, reassuring him everything would be all right. Dib remained in the position he took when he fell, either because he couldn't get up or Melissa insisted he stay that way, Zim couldn't be sure. From Dib's appearance though Zim doubted he would have been able to stand. Melissa had removed his glasses and Dib was squinting greatly in an effort to focus his imperfect eyes. Zim swallowed with difficulty as he observed the amount of blood surrounding Dib. Blood still flowed readily from his nose, however quite a large amount was oozing from his temple, from where Zim assumed he cracked his skull on the pavement. His skin was pale, an almost grey colour and he mumbled incoherent nonsense to himself.

Zim suddenly got shoved forward from behind as Gaz came bursting through the crowd. She knelt by her fallen brother, looking uncharacteristically caring. "Hey Dib, what did you do?" Tears began to well up in her eyes when he failed to acknowledge her presence. "Don't worry, you'll be ok. I won't let anything happen to you, I promise." She took his hand and began to smooth his wild hair back off his face.

"Ok, ok, everyone inside. Let's leave Dib alone, ok?" The principal and a few teachers descended upon the crowd of teenagers and immediately began to disperse them. Zim watched the skool nurse kneel by Dib's side and begin examining him as he was lead away to class.

Fifteen minutes later he watched from an upstairs class room as Dib was loaded onto a stretcher and into an ambulance, Gaz never letting go of his hand. The class was momentarily startled by the wail of the siren as Dib was rushed to hospital. Immediately after the siren faded their attention reverted to what ever they had been doing before the distraction. Zim began to make a report for himself on what had just happened. It proved very unusual and most likely would be very beneficial to his plan.


Zim whistled on his way to school the next day. Things were going better than he'd originally planned. He gained much headway with his new plan for world domination and he had yet to see hide nor hair of Dib. What ever was wrong with him Zim prayed it lasted just a little longer. Once he got the ball rolling on his latest scheme nothing would stop him. He was startled out of his good mood as he observed Gaz enter the school. Her head was bowed and her shoulders slumped. Most startling of all was the fact that her Game Slave was now where in sight. Dib wasn't with her? Interesting. He must have been sicker than Zim originally thought. All the better for his plans. He smirked evilly to himself and resumed whistling, almost skipping in through the gates.

He retrieved his books for the next few classes from his locker before heading into homeroom. Immediately taking his seat, Zim failed to notice the worried looks and whispers of his fellow students. Little they did ever attracted his attention. He took a jotter from his bag and began going over his notes on his latest scheme. Chewing on a pencil, Zim struggled to contain his mirth with his this plan and with Dib MIA he was sure to take over the Earth. He began thinking up his speech for when he informed the Tallest of his triumph. Soon the people of this dingy planet would be grovelling at his feet, Dib would be defeated and the Tallest would be singing his praises.

Zim was so lost in his thoughts that he almost failed to notice the principal and an unfamiliar figure enter. He narrowed his eyes as he tried to place her. The school counsellor, if memory served him right. They both looked grim and nervous.

"Class, attention please." The principal, Mr. Mahfood, stood at the top of the class. He waited for everyone to take their seats before going on. "I'm sure you all know, Ms. Summers," he indicated the young woman behind him. "Well, she's going to take you for the next two periods. I, uh" he paused and shook his head before turning to the petite blonde behind him. He inclined his head slightly before exiting the classroom.

Ms. Summers smiled warmly at the class but even Zim, with his limited experience of human emotion, could tell she was very nervous. She moved around to the front of the desk and sat on top of it, ignoring the chair behind her. Summers was young, just out of college and still wet behind the ears. She view her youth as an advantage, she could 'relate' to the students, or so she told herself. Unfortunately the only students who had visited her office so far had been sent there as a last ditch effort by their teachers to try and get some measure of control on them. She sighed wearily before she began. "Well, as some of you might not be aware, I'm Ms. Summers and I'm the skool counsellor. I know I haven't been with you very long so we don't really know each other but I want you all to know, my door is always open. If you have something on your mind, anything, hell if you just want a chat, my door is always open. Ok?" She looked around the classroom, maybe hoping for some kind of response but found only blank stares. She took a deep breath again before beginning. "As all of you are aware by now Dib Membrane collapsed in the skool yard yesterday......"she sighed again. Zim focused intently on her, his Earth conquering speech immediately forgotten. "Well........" she continued "we received a phone call from Dib's father early today and I'm so very sorry to tell you, but.......I'm afraid Dib has cancer."

The silence the class had descended into was shattered as Zim jerked up right and knocked his desk on the floor. "WHAT?!" The entire class turned to him in shock. The small alien dropped his eyes to the ground self consciously before righting his desk and taking his seat again.

Ms. Summers smiled sadly at Zim as she continued. "I'm so sorry, I realise Dib was your class mate and we, the faculty, are here for you all during this hard time." Zim felt his face heat up. Why was she directing this speech at him? He didn't care, he could proceed with his plans unhindered now. She continued. "There will be support-"

"What kind of cancer?" Zim asked loudly. Why did he ask that? Zim shook his head in an attempt to organise his thoughts. He did not know much about the disease, he had researched it a little once but rejected it once he saw it had no real practical uses when it came to world domination.

Summers looked slightly aggravated at the interruption but disguised it quickly. "It's a form of cancer of the blood. It's very rare." She explained to Zim before turning her attention back on the entire class.

"So is Dib going to die?" The attention of the room once again focused on Zim. The counsellor scolded at his apparent lack of sensitivity and tact.

"His parents, I mean his father hasn't decided on what course of action to take but I think it may be best if you all prepare yourselves for the worst."

The class once more gasped collectively. Zim looked around in confusion to see some of the students in tears. Why were they crying? They didn't care about Dib. No one acknowledged his existence let alone knew him enough to like him. The counsellor had left her perch on the teacher's desk and was comforting one apparently very upset girl at the front of the class.

Zim didn't understand, none of this made sense. "But how can he be dying, he's only seventeen." No one heard this comment though as the class had begun to talk amongst themselves and he was once more ignored. He couldn't think and the other students were driving him crazy. Swiftly he gathered his belongings and exited the room. Ms. Summers watched him go but was not fast enough to catch him leave.

He leaned against the walls of the deserted hall. He needed more information. Quickly, so as not to be found absent from class without a pass, Zim ducked into the library. He scanned the shelves until he came to the biology section. Taking the largest anatomy book he could find he settled himself in the furthest corner and began to read. Zim scanned the index until he found information on cancer. When he originally heard of the deadly condition he had begun research in earnest but that plan had soon been dropped. Surely the Tallest would want subjects to rule and giving them all cancer probably wouldn't have been viewed favourably. Cancer of the blood, that's what the Summers woman had said. Leukaemia, most probably. Zim read the information displayed to him; an acute or chronic disease characterised by extreme over production of white blood cells. Dib's own body was killing him. But why did he care? Dib had been the thorn in his side ever since he landed on this planet. Now he was finally going to be out of his way and Zim didn't even need to get his hands dirty. It was more than he could hope for. Then why did he feel such a coward? He wanted Dib to see him triumph, to see Dib humbled and finally made to accept that, he, Invader Zim was the better. This way out was just wrong. He was startled from his thoughts by the shrill cry of the bell. Depositing the book on a near by table he exited the library, intent on leaving skool in the confusion as students strolled to their next class.

He ducked out the skool gates with relative ease and began walking in the direction of home. Before he had gone far though he stopped and changed direction heading for the hospital. He had to see this for himself, to see if Dib was really dying.


Zim nervously entered the hospital and looked around. He hated these places. They reminded him too much of human science labs and dissection tables. He walked up to the reception desk and attempted to get the attention the young woman on the phone. She quickly finished her call and turned to him, eyeing his olive green skin wearily. "Can I help you young man?"

"Eh," Zim cleared his throat. "I'm looking for Dib Membrane. He was brought in an ambulance yesterday."

"Ok," She began working on her computer. "M-E-M-B-R-A-N-E, D-I-B, correct?"

"Yes." Zim watched her intently.

She continued to type, looking through files and ward allocations. "He's your friend, is he?" She glanced at Zim before returning her gaze to the computer.

Zim faltered and didn't reply. Presently she frowned slightly. "Found him" She informed Zim, her voice grim. "He's on the fifth floor, room 501." She smiled sadly at him. Zim nodded his head and turned in the direction of the elevators. He pressed the button for the desired floor and boarded it with a few other people. They didn't appear to be in good spirits but for his part Zim mostly ignored them. As the chiming bell informed them they had reached the fifth floor, Zim took a deep breath and exited the elevator. He wandered the halls until he came to room 501, Dib's room. He stalled before it, hand on the door handle. What was he going to say? He stood there for many minutes his mind a storm of muddled thoughts before he finally went in, still not knowing how to react.

He inhaled sharply at the sight before him. Dib lay in a large bed looking pale and sickly. Dib had always been thin but something about his physical appearance greatly disturbed Zim now. Maybe it was because of the trench coat he always wore. It hid his skinny features, without it Dib looked very small and child like. His skin was a ghostly grey and looked stretched over his bony form. Tubes were inserted in his arms at the inside of his elbow and liquid dripped into them. He had some kind of tube going around his face and resting inside his nostrils. Wires disappeared inside the hospital gown he wore and ran to a machine that displayed what Zim took to be his heart rate. Dib's face was slightly moist with sweat and his breathing was rapid and shallow. A bandage was secured to his left temple. He appeared to asleep and Zim noted that his glasses had been removed.

Quietly Zim moved closer to the bed intent on reading the information on the heart monitor. Maybe he could get all the information he wanted and Dib would stay asleep. He began examining the machine when Dib began to stir. Silently Zim contemplated running but dismissed the idea. If Dib caught a glimpse of him fleeing then what would he think. And when Dib wakes up to find you next to his bed what will he think? Zim tried to ignore the logical part of his brain and hoped Dib would return to his former state. All his hopes were dashed however when Dib slowly opened his eyes. He lazily looked around the room before he focused on Zim. They both observed each other silently for a moment. Dib then squeezed his eyes shut and opened them again, squinting slightly in an attempt to focus. "Zim?" He voice sounded small ad slightly hoarse.

"Dib." Zim replied not once breaking eye contact.

Dib suddenly became fully awake. He sat up straight and made a grab for the bedside table. Zim watched with interest as Dib began fumbling around searching for his glasses, he presumed. He also snapped to attention when he viewed Dib's hand close over a security alarm. He shot forward and grabbed Dib's wrist just as he was about to close his fingers on the alarm. He expected Dib to fight back but the bed-ridden boy only struggled weakly. Zim, who was much stronger anyway, had little trouble restraining him. Dib was so weak, Zim could see the efforts he was putting into the fight. Sweat beaded on his brow and he was breathing very rapidly. A new emotion, one he would later label as pity, over came him and he dropped Dib's wrist as if it burned. As an after thought he picked up the panic alarm and removed it from Dib's reach.

Dib fell back against the many pillows of his hospital bed. He covered his eyes with his hand and attempted to steady his breathing. Inwardly he chastised himself for showing such weakness before his enemy but he was too tired and weak to care. "Why are....you here?" He asked, pausing to take a breath. He didn't bother to move his hand so he could look at Zim.

Zim paused, why was here there? "They told us you have cancer." Zim replied. That wasn't a reason in the strictest sense but it would have to satisfy Dib.

"I'm sure.....you were....doing....a happy dance." He removed his hand finally and attempted to stare Zim down. That was made slightly more difficult as Zim appeared to him as a short, green blob. He wanted to get his glasses but just felt to weak to try.

Zim didn't answer. Swallowing nervously he stepped forward and took Dib's glasses from the table and left them next to his hand. Dib eyed him wearily before slowly taking them and putting them on. Neither of them talked and Zim almost had the urge to fidget as he grew more and more uncomfortable. "You don't suspect I did this to you?" He asked. He voice was ambiguous, no hint of malice or sorrow.

"No." Dib's response was immediate and certain.

"Why?" Zim's curiosity got the better of him.

"I have....my reasons." Dib's eyelids drooped.

Zim observed the effort Dib was putting into staying conscious. How could he not suspect him? Dib suddenly fell terminally ill, of course he was a suspect. It was illogical for Dib not to think so. "What treatments are you undergoing?"

"None." Dib dead panned.

Zim inhaled sharply. He wasn't undergoing treatment? "But then you'll die." Zim felt like smacking himself in the head. The part of his brain that processed thought had obliviously going on holidays and so he was just blurting out everything that came to mind.

"I know." Dib opened his eyes and stared Zim down. "I guess....you.....got your wish." He paused before taking a deep, shaky breath. "You win, Zim"

Zim couldn't hold Dib's stare. This wasn't like Dib at all! Dib was stubborn and head strong, he never gave up, never accepted defeat. This didn't feel like winning. This was wrong. He was supposed to fight Dib to the end, to defeat him and take the planet as his trophy. Dib wasn't meant to die slowly in a hospital bed. "No. This-" he indicated to the room " is wrong. You're still a child, you can't be dying. Its wrong." He felt his cheeks burn with the outburst and turned to look out the window. He just couldn't keep what he was feeling bottled up any more. He couldn't comprehend the situation before him.

"That's life, Zim." Dib appeared almost calm at Zim's outburst. He seemed at peace.

"No. This planet is..is stupid. You can't die at seventeen." Zim turned around furiously and glared at Dib. He attitude was enraging the invader. How dare Dib lie down and take this, how dare he!

"Kids die.....all the time. Are you....saying no-one....young dies...where you...come from?" Dib wondered to himself what was happening. This situation was getting more and more bizarre. First he wakes up to find Zim in his room. Then Zim starts acting almost nice to him by giving him his glasses. And then he starts ranting and raving about death. Dib briefly wondered why he was even bothering with Zim, but the paranormal investigator inside him was intrigued with this change in his nemesis.

"Embryos are screened for genetic abnormalities before being transported to incubating tubes. Anyone with a genetic disposition towards disease is immediately aborted. We don't allow children to be born if they are not genetically pure." Zim questioned whether or not he should be disclosing this information to Dib but as he was terminally ill he supposed it didn't really matter if he left some useless information slip.

"How compassionate....of you." He remarked sarcastically. Zim regarded him quizzically, he was still mastering sarcasm. "I don't....see why...you care, Zim. You...keep telling.....me you're....going to...kill me...how is....this....any different?" Dib closed his eyes and began breathing deeply. Long sentences were definitely a bad idea.

"That's the point, Dib-human. I'm going to kill you, not yourself." Zim stepped closer. Reverting to their usual arguing was making him more comfortable.

Dib sat up straight and glared at him. "I'm not....killing myself!" He attempted to retain his current position but hadn't the strength and slowly sank against the pillows.

"You are not taking treatment. You are as good as committing suicide." Zim remarked.

"You don't.....know anything, alien scum!" Dib sat up straighter against the pillows, the familiar, slightly insane glint returning to his eyes.

"Ha! Then prove me wrong, stinkbeast." Zim smirked down at him, the first time he had been able to look down at Dib since the raven-haired boy began his growth spurts.

"I told you....you don't...understand." Dib said through gritted teeth. How dare Zim lecture him like this?!

"Ha." Zim scoffed at him. "You are scared, meat bag."

"Yeah? Well,....for once...you're right, Zim." Dib felt tears pricking his eyes but he ignored them. The smirk fell from Zim's face as he watched Dib. "I am scared." He continued. "I've seen this....The cure is....worse than the disease. I saw-" He paused as a tear ran down his cheek "I saw my mother....getting treatment....for years....and she still....died in the end. Chemo is hell.....I'm not...going through.....that....and I'm not....putting Gaz and.....my father....through it again." He fell back against the pillows and squeezed his eyes shut, his head bowed low.

Zim observed him quietly. He wanted to say something, anything but came up blank. Why did he come here? His chest tightened as he watched Dib struggle not to cry. He couldn't watch the once proud, strong willed boy like this. Everything about today was wrong. But he couldn't move, he felt rooted to the spot.

Suddenly they were each shaken out of their respective reveries by the door opening. Gaz and Prof. Membrane slowly walked into the room. Gaz was apparently trying to appear up beat. They both stopped abruptly when they observed the scene before them. Zim, however, seized his chance and made a break for the door. Pushing past Dib's father he ran, and didn't stop until he reached his own house.

Well, so ends the first chapter. That was cheery, wasn't it?! If you have time I'd really appreciate a review, and constructive criticism is always welcome!