Metanoia
a transformative Invader Zim fanfic
by J. Random Lurker

Zim kept his nemesis in a tight grip until they were safely inside Zim's base, behind locked doors and beneath the couch in one of Zim's experiment halls. Having no better ideas, and with the smell of Dib's blood choking his senses, Zim let go of Dib all at once and gave the boy a sharp shove to the base of the spine.

"Get on the table."

Dib stumbled, caught himself with a small cry, and pressed his hand against his red-soaked bandages. He was barely able to stand, breathing harshly. But his eyes swung toward the gleaming silver platform, the coiled instruments waiting underneath... "I don't want to!"

Zim growled but checked himself with an effort. "Fine," he mocked, lifting his hand and frowning at the traces of wetness on his gloves, "Let's just stand around and wait until all of what's LEFT of your stupid blood pools in your stupid FEET and you go crashing to the floor." He leaned forward, dropped his voice in a parody of intimacy. "Once you're unconscious, that'll make things MUCH easier for me..."

He chuckled at Dib's startled hiss. "Y..You're going to put a squirrel in my head or something! Forget it!" Despite the heat of his words, though, Dib remained still; even small movements were making his vision swim.

"Funny, up until a minute ago I didn't think you particularly CARED what happened to you. Given that you all but HANDED yourself to me back there..." He pressed closer, eyes narrowed, his voice strangely intense. "Have you changed your mind, DIB?"

The Earthling bit down hard on his lower lip, an expression of conflicted anxiety Zim was all too familiar with. If he had a favorite expression of Dib's that wasn't the one where Dib was screaming in tortured anguish, this would probably be it. He could see that the human was assessing his chances and finding no particular avenue of escape. Stay conscious and face the unknown, the possibility of even more suffering, or give in and surrender ALL hope of control over his fate... Oh, how fun it was to make Dib squirm!

The Irken leaned closer still. "I'm WAITING..."

It was too many seconds before Dib snarled, "Alright, fine, I'm GOING!" Or, he tried to anyway; he didn't get very far before the dizziness and the sick broken feeling in his chest overwhelmed him. Cold metal hands gripped him under the armpits and carried him up the rest of the way, setting him flat on his back along the length of the worktable.

Zim cackled. "GOOD! Now, prepare yourself, Dib-thing!" He flipped up on his spiderlegs once more, clickclicking his way over the red metal flooring to loom over Dib's left side. His eyes were bright with malice, his teeth glinting bone-white in the blue and red glow from the ceiling.

"Prepare myself for what?" Dib's breathing was growing increasingly shallow.

Zim paused from toying with a few random pointed instruments that he'd activated at the side of the table. His antennae shot up as he made a loud noise of pondering. "Eh, I dunno... whatcha think, should I just scoop out your whole brain, or ...how about this?" He held up a whining gerbil. "I think I could just about fit this in your wretched intestines..."

Dib shut his eyes tightly. "Can we PLEASE not go there with the implanting live animals this time? PLEASE?"

The Irken's eyes widened; he tossed the gerbil away and it squealed as it fell into a shadow out of sight. "Wait, wait. Say that again..." His grin widened as he once more leaned close.

Sweat rose up on Dib's brow. "... please?"

"Ohh, I LIKE the sound of that. Once more, now..." Zim's smile was positively manic, ".. with FEELING."

And there was that conflicted face again, the certain restrained panic behind struggling brown eyes. Zim's claws dug into the side of the table, his arms akimbo and tense; he craned his neck forward until his face was almost level with Dib's, smelling the boy's sour human breath.

Dib had gone splotchy; a curious blend of red and white dots peppering the pale skin of his cheeks. "-Please-," he repeated, the word curiously thick and dark. His chest was throbbing with pain. Fresh blood poured into the bandage; he was gasping.

Zim cackled softly, staring into Dib's eyes without blinking. "Well, well, well. It seems the little wormbaby actually DOES want to live after all...? 'Cause, y'know, I was kinda sure you were ready to die. When I brought you here. Were you ready to die, Dib?"

Dib ran his tongue over his mouth. That dark -resonance- went off inside him again, a bomb inside his soul, and he realized... he -had been- ready. He had been more than ready, had even -wanted- it... A momentary lapse: he was so tired, so weary of everything- and he thought, just for a moment back there in his bedroom, he'd thought he'd seen a kind of desperation in Zim as well. Fear of what would happen if they stopped. But there was no trace of that now, only the familiar glimmer of Zim's vibrant hatred.

Dib wondered what would happen if he told the truth. He shouted the truth from the rooftops to a world that never listened... but somehow he'd never tried doing that with Zim before. Zim, the only one who paid unwavering attention to every word he ever said.

It was curiously easy to look Zim in the eyes and whisper "Yes."

Zim's face did an interesting thing, just then. It fell. His antennae flattened. And then his features reshaped themselves into a cold, cold glower. "You WISH," Zim snapped, no longer enjoying his game. He drove his fist deep into Dib's wounded side.

Dib blacked out instantly, and Zim drew himself upright. Fury curled the Irken's lipless mouth as he eyed Dib's tiny, bloodstained body.

"Simple-minded little -smeet-. If it were that easy, I would have ended it for both of us months ago."

He snapped his fingers to the air and barked a few words in Irken. Tools and mechanical arms extended, closing in on Dib's unconscious body.

Zim didn't bother to stay and watch.

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A/N: Hey, whatta ya know, an update. :)

jrandomlurker (at) yahoo (dot) com