Hey you guys.
To a certain few people- I was too amused by that argument to feel offended by it. I did take a side on that whole thing, though, looking back on it. But I don't believe I shall disclose it here, on the terms that I may be whacked over the head with a large and blunt object by a side who doesn't agree. Don't worry, though- I still love you all the same.
Sorry this was so long in the waiting. I had a lot of end of the year school stuff to take care of. ;; The plus side of that is that I've now got tons of time to write! And I've got a lovely Harry Potter idea rattling around now that I've seen Prisoner of Azkaban. I love Remus and Sirius to death. Now, the FINAL CHAPTER OF AMONG THE STARS!
Dib barely noticed the ground that pounded under the soles of his boots. All that he knew was that he had to run a hell of a lot faster then he was if anything was to be done. Zim was unstable mentally. If he was left alone for to long, thoughts would begin to foster. And given the information Dib had received, he doubted the plans would be for the good of mankind.
His feet slowed, and he looked up, confused. Zim's house loomed above him. Dib stepped back instinctively. He must've been running faster then he had thought. Laying a hand over his heart, he could feel it thumping wildly.
He peered through the windows from the street. They were dark, and the television was not turned on, shock of all shockers. He frowned. Zim and Gir were obviously elsewhere. That was not good.
Spinning on his heel, he started an easier trot back home, his hopes diminishing with the setting sun. It would be hard to track down the couple, but not impossible , he knew this much. Still, his chances of finding them were very slim.
Wait... why do I care?
That thought made him pause a second before he shoved it aside and plowed on. Suddenly, a voice rose up on the wind.
"C'mon, master! Play with me!"
Dib whipped his head toward the voice to his left. Several dark trees marked the base of a hill that separated the city from the rural suburbs that Dib lived. Dib squinted at the hill, before bouncing back again.
Yes, even with the night soon approaching and his bad eyesight, Dib could still make out the fuzzy, gleaming, hyperactive robot tearing its way around in circles on the hill, and the slightly darker shape sitting a ways apart, looking skyward, as if anticipating something, up the hill a little and to the left of the trees. Dib moved for the shadowed woods. They would give him cover that he might need.
Abruptly he paused. What the hell was he doing? He knew why Zim was out of it, he knew that Zim was not a threat. He knew that the Earth was safe.
So way did this seem so important?
There's something I'm missing... some sort of connection that I'm looking past...
He froze in the middle of pushing back a branch as Gir unexpectedly stop rolling in the grass itself, and instead stared into the brush. Dib stared into the robot's face as its eyes passed over him, not sure if his trenchcoat and the darkness combined would keep him hidden.
A second's rest.
"ARGH! FLESH-EATING LEPRECHAUNS!" Gir ran howling over to the oblivious Zim and tackled him. "THEY'E A-GONNA EAT ME, MASTER!"
"Gir!" snarled Zim with a trace of his old vigor. "You're made of metal."
Gir stared doubtfully back out at the forest and into Dib's eyes. "Oh yeah..." He pulled at Zim's hand, all thoughts of leprechauns forgotten. "C'mon, master! Play!"
Zim winced noticeably and drew his hand away. "No, Gir."
"No. Tomorrow. I promise." Zim's gaze shifted away from Gir to look again to the sky. "Why don't you go home now, Gir," he said very softly. "You can watch that movie you wanted."
Dib inched forward. He had never heard Zim's voice sound so close to caring.
"YAY!" screeched Gir, running down the hill in graceful bouncing arcs. "ME AND PIGGY ARE A-GONNA WATCH 'WHEN POODLES ATTACK'!"
Zim and Dib both watched him run screaming down the hill and out of sight.
"Now..." said Zim softly, more to himself then anyone else. He stood up and moved to the top of the hill, while a creeping shadow followed behind amidst the trees.
The city provided a beautiful, sparkling backdrop to the tiny Irken's shadowed form as he gazed down upon it, and for a long while he stood there, motionless. Dib, after realizing after a moment that Zim wasn't going to move again, looked down himself.
The city was beautiful, if you didn't look at it to closely, Dib supposed. Then all you would see would be smog, and stupid people about. If you looked at it from the surface- saw the forest instead of the individual tree- then it was beautiful.
Dib jerked back and tripped over his own feet, landing gracefully on his butt. Zim's voice had come completely unexpectedly, shattering the night's silence, and Dib froze instinctively, straining his ears to be sure Zim hadn't heard him stumble.
If he did, he didn't show it, but continued to stare at the city. "How something can be so ugly, yet... beautiful. How something can be so horrendously weak and frail can yet be something so..."
Zim paused. Dib held his breath.
"Powerful..." he hissed, turning the word into a whisper as he breathed out. He drummed his claw-like fingers gently against his right arm, then sighed, as if resigning himself.
He held a hand up that was holding a thick, dark object. Where the heck did that come from? Dib frowned, puzzled. Light from the city caught the metal, and Dib felt his blood suddenly run cold. A gun? Where did Zim get a gun? More importantly...
What was Zim going to use it on?
It looked like an old six-shot revolver, from what Dib could see of it. Which wasn't much, as Zim kept running a hand maniacally over the nose and barrel of the gun. He spun the barrel with his thumb, his eyes watching the movement like a cat watched its prey.
Zim stared at the gun again, then slowly returned his gaze to the city. Then his arm jerked, and he brought the gun up to his head with surprising speed and pulled the trigger.
Both Zim and Dib jumped.
The alien's pale face crumpled for a second before hardening. He spun the barrel a second time, pointed the gun purposefully at his head, and pulled the trigger.
Dib jumped again, more out of nervousness then the sudden noise. He noticed that Zim jerked, mostly out of reflex, away from the gun too.
I should be happy about this. Zim's finally lost it. The world is never going to be hurt again under alien power, I'm sure of that. So why does it feel like I can't even move? Am I afraid? For what? He does have a gun, but...
Am I afraid for Zim?
Dib did not have time to answer his own mental question.
After a second, Zim brought the gun down again and brushed some nonexistent dirt off the end of the nose. He suddenly let loose a shrill, panic-stricken sort of giggle, that instead of easing his (and Dib's) tension, it seemed to make it worse.
"C-can't even shoot m-myself right..." he murmured to the city, his voice catching and hanging in a funny way in the thin air. "Gotta find s-some way to l-leave with honor..."
Removing his gloves, and tossing them away on the ground behind him, Zim looked up again. "Leave and go b-back home. Back among the stars..." Zim sighed again, and reached into a pocket. He pulled out a box and slid it open, emptying its content of a single bullet into his hand.
ET, phone home.
Dib's eyebrows snapped up and his eyes unglazed, suddenly very aware of his position in this whole thing.
Let Zim kill himself take credit as genius stop Zim maybe get killed let Zim kill himself feel guilty end up dying a sad and guilty person-
Zim slowly brought up the gun for the last time, the bullet now loaded-
GOD DAMN IT! Why does this always-
Zim pressed the nozzle to his head-
Oh shit oh shit no time to think no time to THINK-
Zim shut his eyes tightly and muttered what seemed to be a prayer under his breath as his fingers readily gripped the trigger-
With all the strength, speed, and agility of two hundred alien-obsessed kids Dib shot out of the bushes. Which, of course, wasn't much strength, speed, or agility, but it was enough. Dib slammed into Zim with amazing force and accuracy and, overbalanced, knocked him to the ground and the gun out of his arms. It sailed, askew, through the air and landed harmlessly ten feet away.
Dib, obviously nervous for good reason, carefully picked it up, undid the safety and removed the bullet before throwing it as hard as he could away from him. Then he rounded on Zim, who seemed stunned into silence.
"What the hell is wrong with you?!"
"Me? Me?! What is wrong with you, Earth-stink?" Zim seemed to recover quickly. He waved the hand that would have held the gun for emphasis. "I'm doing you and your stupid, pitiful planet a favor!"
Dib grabbed Zim's wrist and yanked him down, forcing him to sit on the grassy slope. To his surprise, Zim didn't put up a struggle, or move to get out of Dib's grasp. On the contrary, Zim almost seemed to collapse, as if something had been holding him up in the first place. He glared up at Dib quite coldly, though, and as if to remind him that he was in perfect control of his actions, and that he was only talking to Dib strictly for his own benefit.
"If I had wanted your death, I would've let you die when you collapsed on my doorstep," said Dib in a suddenly clipped, sharp manner to Zim. "You might notice that I didn't."
"Why did you do that." After a moment of old energy and rebellion, the 'Invader' voice faded away to a monotone quiet, and Zim's eyes broke away from Dib's to stare into the ground. "I could never figure that out. It isn't that you were afraid to get blood on your hands."
"Because..." Dib trailed away, hesitant. He hadn't talked about his odd obsession with sickness to anyone before, and his old feelings toward Zim were reawakening now that the shock was disappearing. He didn't have to give Zim a reason, he could just as easily walk away right now, taking the gun with him.
But that wouldn't and couldn't solve anything.
Giving up in his mental struggle, he slid down sit down on the grassy slope across from Zim, far enough from the alien to grant him space, but close enough to tackle him if he were to suddenly try to run. "Because someone I knew once died from being sick. And I didn't want to see it happen again."
Despite Dib's indifferent tone and his own traumatized state of mind, Zim looked at Dib with slight interest. "Just once?"
"My mother." Dib chewed the inside of his cheek, bracing himself for the sure barrage that Zim was certain to unleash.
Instead, Zim turned his head away, seemingly interested more at a patch of grass. "I see." His face was unreadable, but his voice betrayed a hint of embarrassment.
Zim had to know what he was doing. Nobody could be so out of character so suddenly. He had to know that he was confusing and scaring Dib. This had to be a plot. An evil plot. An Invader's plot. So a soft voice spoke in Dib's subconsciousness. Dib was silent a while, trying to wave off the voice, but not quite sure why he was doing it.
I guess I really am hoping for him to change.
"What I guess I wanna say, Zim..." Dib thought for a second before plowing on, "Is that... I... I don't mind if you stick around. I mean, as long as you don't blow up the world, anyway. Having you around has sure made things around here a bit more interesting... I mean..."
Zim slowly shook his head. "Even if I wanted to, I don't deserve a second chance at anything."
"Are you that selfish?!" Dib hissed, angry very suddenly. "Can't you think of anyone but yourself?! What do you think will happen to Gir if you kill yourself? That little robot loves you, Zim. Do you want to hurt him like that that harshly?"
Although the face remained in the shadows, the knuckles of Zim's hand twitched. He hadn't thought of that.
"Hell, I won't... even mind," said the boy, softly again. "Besides..." he hesitated. This could either make or break the argument. "You're the closest thing that I've ever had to a friend."
Zim sat in silence for a very long time, staring at the ground. Then he looked up at the stars again, as if it would help brace him, and he turned back to Dib, confusion written neatly all over his face.
"I need to get back to Gir," he said very slowly and deliberately, as if hearing each syllable for the first time. "He will be worried." He stood up very carefully, and Dib clambered up after him. He looked Dib dead in the eyes and said resolutely, "I will see you at school, Dib."
He turned and walked down the hill so slowly it was as if Zim was in a daze that he was trying his hardest to control. Dib watched him until he hit the street and turned the corner, out of sight.
He called me 'Dib'. That's something that I never thought would happen. Shrugging to himself, he pulled his trenchcoat tighter towards his body as he started down the hill himself, wind racking his body. He had already started piecing together what he would say to Gaz when she asked where he had gone.
Overhead, the stars glittered darkly. And unknowingly to Dib, a woman gave a small smile proudly to her son.
That's my boy.
Hope that is a satisfactory ending to this story. Leave a review, an idea, a flame, whatever. And if you like Jhonen V. stuff, please check out my one-shot that I wrote a little while ago called Black and White. I'm proud of it, so go read and review.
Love you all!