Denouement
a rather morbid fanfic
co-authored by J. Random Lurker and Taquito of Doom

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He didn't even understand why they took him alive.

Dib had told himself, struggling in his chains all the way to the Irken capital ship, that he wouldn't break no matter what they did. No matter what happened he was going to resist. His body was stone, his soul was fire - they could burn or beat him or cut him apart, but he would never bow down. His worst nightmare were coming true, but he didn't cry.

All that failed when they made him -watch-.

He was paraded to the central deck of the Massive by a sadistically smirking Zim, and thrown down near the hoverskirts of the Tallest.

On the Massive's central viewscreen, hellish fires swept Dib's home into ashes. Thousands on thousands of demolition beams a hundred miles wide leveled the cities, sawed through thousand-year-old monuments, burned the forests and boiled the oceans. Then they shifted to automated cameras, and they showed him the surface. Humans melted away like soft wax when the beams swept over them.

Dib's resolve collapsed. He wept. He pleaded. He sank to his knees in a flutter of chain and BEGGED the monsters to stop.

The Irkens laughed at him. A whole command deck giggling and guffawing, collapsing over their consoles in hilarity at the little boy's cries. Dib couldn't look any more. He squeezed his eyes shut and twisted away in grief. The smug alien leaders stuffed their mouths full of snack foods and laughed.

And Zim laughed longest and hardest, excited by the fact that there were so MANY others laughing WITH him! Victory, GLORY, was finally HIS! Zim continued cackling long after the broken Dib-thing was dragged away, oblivious to the fact that every gleefully luminescent eye had turned onto HIM. "I win! Be proud of ZIM!"

The Tallest smiled coldly, shoving Zim aside as they swept forward. Another, taller Irken was picked out of the crowd and pushed to the fore. Tallest Red held up this other Irken's claw. "Hooray for ZIM! CONQUEROR OF EARTH!"

Zim stared dumbfounded, the burning Earth reflected in his huge red eyes. Crowds cheered the new 'Zim', while the real Zim was hastily yanked up and carried down. Down into the depths of the Massive. "WAIT! NO! You can't do this! HE didn't conquer Earth, I DID! ME! ZIM! Where are you taking me? Why--THIS IS RIDICULOUS! There must have been some mistake...my Tallest...MY TALLEST!"

And that was the end of the world.

---

Dib was sealed in a tiny dark cell not much bigger than a COFFIN. The last living human being waited now for the end, lying on his back staring into the unyielding darkness, destruction playing in a tapeloop of misery behind his eyes. His tears had dried- he had shed them all. Now he was just waiting. When where they going to finish him? He counted the footsteps that moved up and down the hall: 27... 28... and then suddenly a familiar VOICE he heard, loud enough even to penetrate the four inch-thick black metal of the cell walls... SCREECHING in outrage. "My TALLEST! NOOOOOO!"

Oh, of COURSE Dib recognized the voice, and what dying embers of rage still lived in his heart flared at the sound of his enemy's cries. He rolled over with a painful effort onto his stomach, ears quirking to try and hear more.

Zim writhed in the grip of two tall Irken soldiers. Their faces remained placid, claws clamped painfully into Zim's flesh, carrying out their duty with professional stoicism.

"I'll have your PAKS for this; you don't know who you're DEALING WITH! I am ZIM! INVADER ZIM! You can't--" They were taking him to the holding cells...Zim's chest heaved, heart pounding in his chest. "No...NO...this isn't right, this isn't--"

A tiny door hissed open near the floor, the soldiers jostling Zim in preparation of loading him in, "Irken ZIM: your EXISTENCE EVALUATION is pending. You will await trial here until further notice."

Zim gasped, bucking as he was thrust feetfirst into the tiny, dark hole. "WHAT?! But...I CONQUERED EARTH! I am a SUCCESSFUL INVADER! This is IMPOSSIBLE!--" The door seals shut behind him, plunging the little Irken into shadow. Zim continued to scream and wail, pounding the chill sides of the tiny enclosure. "MY TALLEST! MY TALLEST! NOOOOO!!!"

"Shut up. SHUT UP!"

Zim froze, muscles going incredibly taut at the sound of the second voice sharing the tiny, impossibly cramped cell. His body rose and fell ever so slightly as the warm FLOOR of the cell MOVED. BREATHING... No. No, he didn't want to believe it. It couldn't BE.

"DIB." Zim gritted his teeth, dug his claws into the boy, and SHOOK Dib, slamming his own pak against the ceiling of the prison. "YOU. This is all YOUR FAULT!" There was simply no other explanation for it in Zim's mind. He'd finally done something RIGHT, and somehow it had all gone terribly WRONG anyhow. "HOW did you--?"

Dib grunted low in protest; he twisted his arm up backward, a weakened, angry slap landing on Zim's thigh. "I didn't do SHIT. In case you FORGOT, I'm just waiting here to DIE. Thanks to YOU. So just.. SHUT UP."

"YOU LIE! The Tallest had to have let you live this long for a REASON." Zim scowled, breathing in the Dib-stinking air as shallowly as possible. He relaxed his grip on Dib, squirmed while trying to cover his mouth with his hand. Not possible. Zim gave up, letting out an exasperated sigh. "Why? WHY are you HERE?" Zim wriggled uncomfortably.

They fidgeted closely against each other, breathing hard and angry. The little cell rapidly began to heat, filling with an uncomfortable pungent warmth.

"I don't know," Dib retorted bitterly, "I guess they haven't had time for my VIVISECTION yet, ZIM... and stop SQUIRMING. GOD! I have to die with YOU riding my back... I don't even get to rot in peace!"

"I -hate- you," Zim breathed, shoving Dib into the floor for emphasis. Maybe if I lay perfectly still, Zim thought, I can pretend I'm ALONE.

Dib's breathing was slow and labored, but loud in the lightless gloom, and between the heat and the SMELL there was no way Zim could pretend the human wasn't there. Not when he could feel the boy moving. The alien wondered how long he would have to stay TRAPPED! "I hope your vivisection occurs SOON. Or that the Tallest realize their mistake and let me OUT of this FILTHY HOLE!" The Irken panted angrily, his heart still beating too fast. A mistake...all a mistake...!

Forced into uncomfortable closeness, Dib could feel Zim's blasting, terrified pulse and the Irken's chin dug into his shoulderblade and their body heat was locked between them, with nowhere to go. It burned, even through their clothes. The cell was rapidly turning into a pressure cooker between them and there was no escape. The only relief from the resonating breathless heat was a tiny circular vent above them that allowed some coolness into the little cell and kept the air from going completely stale.

For several minutes, they lay as still as they could, leaden, sullen, silent. The silence grated on Zim's nerves worse than the bickering; in the silence his mind was forced to contemplate things he'd rather not EVER have had to think about.

"WHY is it so HOT in here?!" Zim blurted. Anything to avoid THINKING.

"Because there's two of us trying to breathe the same air." Dib responded irritably, voice thick. He had just started to forget and drift away when Zim made NOISE... the warmth had been playing tricks on him. It was almost starting to feel NICE... "Go ahead and strangle me, it'll get a lot cooler when you do. 'course then you'll be stuck with my rotting corpse until they come to get you."

Zim grimaces, hissed low to Dib's ear, "HURTING you would be NICE." Leather-clad claws dug sharply into Dib's shoulders again, then slowly dragged down his sides as far as Zim could reach.

Dib startled, twisting under the Invader's chest, hissing between his teeth at Zim's aggression. "...don't TOUCH me!" But part of him wondered why he was even PROTESTING. Let it happen... Who cares anyway? Maybe if I can aggravate Zim enough he'll kill me and let me out of this a little early ... then I can be with Gaz and Dad again...

Heh. Not that they'd probably treat me any better in Heaven, Dib reflected bitterly. But still, it HAD to be a better place than THIS...

Zim growled, collapsing onto Dib again. It was getting too HOT and disgusting to MOVE anymore. Silence fell again and Zim couldn't think of anything to break it.

Horrible -thoughts- wormed their way into his consciousness. An existence evaluation? WHY? He'd fulfilled his duty as an Invader; the Earth was now in the hands of the Empire. What had had he done wrong? Where was his victory? ...What had it all been for, if not for that? Here he was, being shunted to the side yet again; FARTHER from the side: out of existence altogether! What had it all been for--? And being sealed in his own mind was the worst torture of all...

Before he could stop them, hot tears slipped from his eyes. Zim bared his teeth in a nasty snarl, enraged at his betraying meat-body.

Dib had always had a morbid fascination with death ... his own death, particularly. For as long as he could remember, he'd wondered what was waiting on the other side. That curiosity had led him to the paranormal. He wanted to see behind the veil, get a sneak preview of what was at the end... and now that his hope was gone, HE wanted to be gone too- as quickly as possible.

It was over. Dib was just enough of a realist to accept the inevitable. He was lost, now he just wanted OUT. No tortures, experiments, probes, screaming under harsh lights and uncaring eyes... No. Not for Dib. He wouldn't give them that. And when Zim had threatened, that morbid side WOKE UP, took notice, and got EXCITED. YES! NOW! His life was his own, and his death would be his own too!

But then he felt Zim crying...

plip! plip! Zim's sobs fell on Dib's neck, tears sliding down to pool under the human's throat. And with it, Dib's last and darkest hope.

He acted quickly, pitched his voice to a sly, almost seductive purr. They'd always thought so alike... he knew what he had to say now. "It doesn't have to be a total loss, Zim. There's still a way to win this. If you take me out yourself before they can do it... then you have the satisfaction and you can take that with you no matter what else happens..."

Zim shook with rage, overcome by the human's words. He hated Dib, HATED him. WHY did the filthy meatchild have to make so much SENSE? He grabbed the back of Dib's neck, lifted it back as far as he could, raising the boy's cheek against his. "DON'T tempt me, HUMAN," he murmured thickly. Good. This was good. His fist clenched, the grinding of Dib's vertebrae a delicious sensation. THIS was power. This was what he wanted, what he CRAVED. I won't kill you Dib, no...not yet. Not while you provide such a wonderful distraction...

Dib's neck was so DELICATE, narrow and smooth... taut... a little damp from Zim's own fallen tears. The bones grit and ground under the pressure... pain spiraled HARD up into the human's skull, audible in his agonized grunts and short hard breaths. "... don't know how long...! Before they come... ghhhnn... don't waste it...!"

Zim let go abruptly, letting Dib's head smack into the heated metal floor. "What does it matter to YOU whether I do it now or later, DIB?" Blood pounding in his head, every muscle singing, Zim panted. "Why do you even CARE?"

"ngGGh..! Because...!" A sharp bruise throbbed in the center of Dib's brow, now... "We don't have TIME for this...!" He twists his head to his shoulder and shouts over his back. "Who CARES why? Do you want this or NOT?! This is about US... it's always BEEN about us.. so COME ON, Zim, have the GUTS to finish it RIGHT! Otherwise you're a stinking COWARD, and I can take myself out and YOU LOSE!"

"SILENCE!" Twisting his fist around Dib's slick throat, Zim yanked up and then SLAMMED Dib's neck to the floor with brutal FORCE, the dull thud of bone snapping inside Dib's skin seeming to echo in his mind.

There was a tiny moan, and a shiver.

And then the silence became absolute.

Dib's body was limp below him. Zim pressed himself closer to Dib's ear, whispered, "I win. I win."

He grasped Dib's cooling shoulders and swayed and rocked weakly, repeating it over and over.

"I win. I win, I always win, this isn't over, it can't be over, I WIN. I win..."

Eventually the cell was opened, and the two prisoners seperated. Zim was taken away for trial. Nobody understood why he kept muttering to himself, but then again, Zim was insane.

Everyone knew that.

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Coda:

On a dirty bus stop bench in the espresso-cup littered streets of Hell, Dib sat quietly, leafing through an old magazine he'd found lying on the ground.

A figure leaned over the back of the bench and tapped the little boy gently on the shoulder. "Excuse me, Dib. The one you were waiting for has arrived."

Dib looked up, blinking in the too-bright sun. "Oh, hey, thanks."

"My pleasure." The gauntly robed, horned figure nodded pleasantly.

Dib slid off the bench, neatly putting the tattered magazine back where he found it, and let the Senor lead him to Zim.

The little alien's confusion was apparent when he materialized on a curb that looked, to his eye, EXACTLY like the human stink-child's world. The same filthy mass of PEOPLE- so MANY people!- and shops and DIRT and THINGS...

Then he saw Dib approaching, and his antennae drooped.

There was an ackward, shuffling silence as the two enemies approached each other to the sound of passing traffic. The Devil watched them, damned souls fidgeting in the pause.

Zim hated silence. "... They erased my brain. Then they shot me."

"Uhm. That sucks."

"Yeah."

They couldn't quite look each other in the eye. Zim looked at a crack in the ground. Dib read an advertisement on a passing bus.

More silence.

"I won, you know."

Dib flared. "Did NOT!"

"Did TOO!.. ehh.. Wait, why are you in hell anyway?"

Dib looked up at the Senor and grimaced. "They said tricking you into killing me was suicide! And that's a sin!"

The alien cackled softly. "See. I win."

Dib shoved Zim. "Jerk."

Zim shoved back. "Stinkmonkey."

"Oh, this is gonna just go on ALL DAY, isn't it?" Dib rolled his eyes, and let out a long-suffering breath, then nodded his head to a dingy shop near by. "C'mon, I'll buy you a waffle."

Zim gave a tiny shrug. "Yeah... Sure. Why not? Got nothing BETTER to do..."

As they walked away, the Senor smiled.

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jrandomlurker(at)yahoo.com and Taquito of Doom