Dib Said "Mm."
an Invader Zim ficlet
by J. Random Lurker

Dib had to admit, Zim had gotten him pretty good this time. The situation he was currently stuck in was so diabolically simple, yet so totally evil!

They had been fighting- of course they were fighting, they were ALWAYS fighting! and he'd chased the alien back into the back of the skool, onto the running track, toward the athletic field.

In retrospect, he REALLY should have seen it coming. When Zim slipped toward the bleachers, ducking quickly under the array of metal and wood, that should have tipped Dib off. He had felt a very faint tinge of something then, something trying to warn him, but he'd stupidly ignored the feeling.

When am I gonna learn to start LISTENING when I get those nagging doubts?

He'd caught the alien, tackled him to the ground. The alien menace had hit his head on one of the pipes on the way down and had been dazed for a second. Dib hurried to take advantage, whipping out handcuffs.

And somehow, not fifteen seconds later, he found himself yelping in protest as Zim wrenched his arms around- the alien chained him to part of the iron underbelly of the bleacher!

Zim had smirked at him then, a big bright malevolent grin. "BYE, DIB!" The horrible green monster had waved cheerfully and then run off cackling...

What was even worse (and Dib was sure Zim -knew- this which was what made the whole mess so hideous) was that he had the key to the cuffs just inside his coat pocket.

That wasn't much a comfort as night began to fall over the cold field. The young paranormalist huddled deeper into his black coat, frowning and shivering, occasionally jerking on the cuffs in a vain hope of knocking something loose.

He'd tried to reach the key with a series of contortions that would have made Houdini proud, jerking his shoulders, grabbing the edge of his coat with his teeth- but no matter how he fidgeted or fussed, his hands were still locked behind his back to an unyielding iron pole and there was no way he could get at that stupid key.

He just needed someone to reach in and pull it out- it'd only take a couple of SECONDS!- but who was there to ask? Nobody. No WAY could he possibly be caught like this; things were bad enough, there was NO WAY he was willing to shame himself and draw attention to his situation.

I hate this. Why does Zim ALWAYS win?

It began to rain, a slow gray drizzle sinking down over the earth, pushing the boy deeper into his coat. There was some small protection from the rain under the slatted seats of the bleachers, but the downpour quickly became ferocious, and there was no escaping the torrential downpour. In no time at all the boy was utterly soaked, hair collapsed wetly into his eyes, clothes heavy and dripping, the wood chips below him slickening, smelling of cedar.

Great, this is just great.

On top of it all, he was getting hungry and his fingers were starting to tingle.

He was going to have to start yelling; he knew it. He hated it, but he knew it. However, there was another problem- the grounds staff wouldn't be back until tomorrow, thanks to funding cutbacks.

He had to face facts; there was a very real chance he was going to be stuck here at least for the rest of the night. Zim would probably come and taunt him in the morning and would let him go then, after first making him endure a thirty minute speech about how Dib should have learned 'a valuable lesson in the futility of resistance' or something.

But what if he DOESN'T?

Counting on Zim to help him was clearly insane. He obviously wasn't thinking rationally.

Well... sooner or later SOMEBODY'S gotta find me...

And he cringed at the thought. He had plenty of enemies apart from Zim; jocks and malevolent bullies who would tear him apart like piranhas if they found him first. A teacher would ask all kinds of questions about the situation he couldn't possibly BEGIN to answer. No, it couldn't be any of THEM who found him!

Rain flicked fingers over the backs of his ears and dripped down his neck and poured into his eyes, splattering his glasses. Heavy and wet, Dib was already tired of standing. With an effort and some discomfort to his shoulders and wrists, he was able to kneel in the wet sawdust.

And wait.

"Stupid alien..."

---

Sunlight peeked through the slats of the bleachers as night and the storm gave way. Bluebirds cheerfully sang in the distance.

Dib had fallen asleep: boredom, cold and hunger all taking their toll on his small frame.

"Hey... uh... Dib? 'Re you okay?" a raspy girl's voice called.

He jerked awake suddenly at the sound of the voice and wrestled unsteadily to his feet in a flutter of coat and cedar chips. Nervous, his head turned quickly from side to side, eyes searching for the owner of the voice. Was he about to get his butt kicked? His gaze locked on a shadowy form lingering just at the edge of the bleacher set.

The owner of the voice giggled faintly, and peeked her head under the slats to look in. Dressed ackwardly in a badly tailored blue dress with a kangaroo pocket and wearing black and white striped stockings, the girl had a huge mouth full of braces. Her purple hair was pulled back into three ragged short ponytails that stuck out at odd angles, pinned together close to the curve of her skull. A bag was slung over her shoulder.

"Wha're you doin' under the bleachers?" She asked, voice thick like day old oatmeal.

"Gretchen!" YES! "Gretchen, you gotta help me! C'mere! Please! It's Zim! He ..." Dib hesitated then, still not wanting to admit his dilemma. "I just need your help! Just for a second!"

Cautiously ducking under the metal structure Gretchen adjusted her school bag and gingerly approached the boy. "Never thought I'd see YOU under here...!"

Dib was puzzled. "What do you mean?"

She leaned closer and smiled her ackward brace-flecked smile, large front teeth gleaming. "See, it's my secret place... I come here all'a time."

Dib suddenly gulped. Something about her eyes. When she looked at him. Her small, beady...

... hopeful kind sad...

... eyes ...

He shook his head frantically, fidgeted again, suddenly more nervous. "Look, you gotta help me! I can't let anybody find me like this...!"

"Like what?" Gretchen asked, peering at him oddly.

In answer, Dib sighed, and squeezed his eyes shut and shuffled to the side, rattled the cuffs a bit against the metal crossbar to make his helpless situation clear.

Gretchen's eyes widened as she took in the sight. "Ooooo. How'd -that- happen?"

He sighed again; a whole paragraph of anger and humiliation in a single word. "Zim."

The girl leaned back, tapping the side of her face. "Got a key?"

Dib nodded too quickly. "In my coat, in my pocket, it's right there...!" He nodded his head toward the right side of his trenchcoat, damp with old rain. He looked up hopeful and gave Gretchen a weary smile. "If you could... I'd -really- appreciate it."

She stepped closer to him, her feet soundless over the damp cedar chips. Her eyes fixed on the bland grey face on his blue t-shirt.

Then she looked up, and Dib didn't understand why, but he suddenly felt intimidated. He subconsciously shrank back from the look Gretchen was giving him, pressed himself back against the cold metal bars behind him.

It wasn't that it was an angry look, or a hateful look. He knew what those looked like and he knew how to prepare himself for them. This was something else entirely. A strange look that he couldn't categorize, and because he couldn't understand it, it frightened him.

Then he suddenly remembered. Valentine's Day. The meat. The big slices of meat, and her shy little smile and oh, MAN...!

It came back vividly, sharp and cutting. The crisp schoolyard air and him sitting on the wall next to the leafless bushes and looking at the new girl (who'd turned out to be another stinking Irken- how totally STUPID) and I gave the meat she gave ME to TAK and she was sitting RIGHT THERE...!

Gretchen gingerly put her small hand out, pressing her thin fingers flat against the grey face. Full of wonderment she felt him shiver at her touch, his small stomach tightening to stone.

Dib exhaled sharply as Gretchen's fingers pushed the damp fabric of the shirt into his chest. It was cold, and he was afraid for no good reason. He swallowed hard. He wanted to say 'Wait' or 'Stop' but his voice seemed to have run away and taken his clarity of mind with it.

She moved one step closer, keeping her hand on his chest. Only inches between them.

The air smelled of rain and cedar.

She looked at him sadly and lifted the heavy lock of wet black hair from the center of his face, sweeping it back over his skull. She didn't say anything. The hurt sad look in her eyes was accusation enough.

Dib blushed- guilty, uncertain. He wanted to say he was sorry. He hadn't really MEANT to be so totally thoughtless, he was just.. caught up in the moment... "I..."

Her arms slipped around his waist, under the dampness of his coat.

"... uhm, the key's not..."

He shut up when she shuffled up close and kissed him.

It wasn't an adult kiss. It wasn't a grown-up full-contact tongues-and-moaning fighting to outdo each other kind of kiss. It was shy and feathery and lips daring to taste lips and just enough pressure to feel each other but ready to fly away home at the faintest excuse. It was alien and warm and dry and sort of...

...nice...

Dib said "Mm."

His eyes dropped closed as Gretchen tightened her thin arms around his waist, pulling him closer.

Ten seconds lasted a thousand years.

They exhaled together when she pulled her lips away and the corner of her mouth tilted into a self-conscious smile, her eyebrows going wide. "... sorry," she muttered. Her eyes darted to the side, her brow furrowing.

Dib opened his eyes and looked at her. Sure, she wasn't spectacular or anything, but he wasn't all that hot either when he -really- admitted it. Glasses that were way too big for his face and goofy spikey hair and the same stupid blue t-shirt all the time, always shouting himself hoarse about stuff nobody cared about.

And she seemed to like him anyway. He never had anyone LIKE him before. It was dizzying. His head spun.

"Don't be sorry," he breathed. That was great. Can we do that again?

Don't push it, Dib, he told himself.

Gretchen pulled her arms away and stared at her feet, twiddling her fingers together. Her face was still crimson. "Uhm... I'm gonna let y' go now." She picked at the edge of his coat, turned it away from his chest, and hunted about in the inner pockets until she found the keys, joined on their tiny string.

He sidestepped to give her access and she fumbled with the unfamiliar devices; it took her a few moments to work out where to put the key and how to open the latch. Finally there were two soft clicks and the pressure against Dib's wrists fell free. He sighed and drew his hands in front of him, slowly massaging the angry red marks left in his skin. "Thanks!"

Gretchen straightened and giggled nervously, picking apart the string keeping the keys together with her fingernails. She abruptly grabbed Dib's hand and pushed one of the keys into his palm, but she kept the other, holding it up so he could see.

She thrust the second key down into her dress pocket and covered her mouth with her fists, peeking over her hands at his eyes, dancing back from him.

The morning bell for skool rang out in the distance.

"Uh, I gotta go." She ran away, darting out into the field and toward the skool.

Dib blinked after her. "Gretchen...?"

He watched her retreat, her shoulderbag bouncing against her side.

He slowly touched his fingers along his lips.

Then he grinned, and started to make his way out from below the bleachers.

---

How about a little sugar for Gretchen, huh? I always felt SO bad for her after that bit in Tak. And it surprises me that I continue to see her almost NEVER get used in Zimfic despite the fact that I think she and Dib would be SO cute together.

This one's for you, kiddo.

jrandomlurker(at)yahoo.com