my fallen idol and false friend.
We had such hopes, and now those hopes are shattered!"
—"Down Once More/Track Down this Murderer," The Phantom of the Opera
Author's Note: Apparently killing Tak makes me a horrible person. I ask for your forgiveness, and I hope this chapter makes up for it.
Counting by hits, since this is over 500, I consider this my most popular story. With 13 favorites (third highest) and 29 reviews (fourth highest) for the first four chapters, I consider it to be my second most successful. I'm pretty stunned, since I actually think Day of Reckoning is better written, but I suppose it's more so because of the relationship than anything. Anyways, here is the final chapter.
Disclaimer: Do I even need to say it? Really, these things make me depressed.
The scalpel hovered over the lifeless body.
For years he had dreamed of this: the chance to dissect an alien!
At last, everything he needed to know about Irk was at his fingertips.
His hand quaked.
This was because of him.
If not for him, she would still be alive.
She had been his enemy during her life, but in death…
He would hardly wish for his body to be sliced apart by an alien on his death.
He fought back tears as the scalpel clattered to the floor.
In death, all is forgiven.
Chapitre Cinq: La Restauration
At last the raging blizzard had ended, leaving a thick frozen blanket over the ground. He gently laid the deceased alien beneath the tree in his backyard, picking up the shovel as he began to dig. The thought that she was dead—a corpse!—brought a queasiness up into his throat, but after a few minutes of the steady rhythm of the shovel against earth the feeling subsided.
This was not the first time he had seen death, but Tak's death was hardly comparable to any of them. He couldn't simply flush her like his goldfish when he was seven; no, this was different even from the death of his mother. Legally, Tak did not exist. She couldn't even be given a proper funeral. He assumed that the least he could do was perform a makeshift burial and service.
It had taken several hours, and his hands were blistered and calloused from the nonstop work, but at last he had dug a grave a few feet deep. It was sufficient, at least. He had nothing to serve as a coffin, but he spread a seldom used sheet over the hole. He turned back to Tak, kneeling beside her. He was surprised at how easily the inactive pak detached from its host. He set it on an area where the grass was exposed so as not to damage it any further.
He gently lifted her. He could someone so small and fragile be so powerful?
As he tenderly placed her in her crude grave, he noticed that his coat still encased her. He felt the chilly wind bite at his ears, reminding him how much warmer it would be within the confines of the faux leather.
But then, he could always buy a new one.
He stood up straight, head bowed and eyes set on the Irken. He knew very little about Tak's life, but he silently recalled as much as he could. How much of her friendship was truly false?
Had she been born human, the two likely could have become good friends—possibly even more… He squeezed his eyes closed tightly, feeling the moisture build up behind them.
It was getting late, he realized, pulling the sheet over her face so that she was completely covered. Picking up the shovel, he began to cover her with the mound of dirt and snow. Fortunately for him, this was much quicker than the initial digging, as the dirt was already loose.
He wasn't sure whether or not it counted as a last request or not, but her last words were, nonetheless, "find Mimi." He couldn't think of a single movie in which the final request of a dying man (or in this case, female alien) was refused. Of course, as he traversed the icy park alone, he couldn't help but wish that he had taken back his coat.
It seemed like such a simple task, but finding a tiny robot with expert camouflage ability in the midst of over a foot of snow was hardly a trivial achievement. The only real clue she had given him was that Mimi was beneath a tree, and there were dozens of them in the park. After over twenty minutes of digging barehanded through the snow in the dead of night in only jeans and a sweater he had worn in hopes of a little added warmth, he was ready to give up.
Mimi likely would have been abandoned completely had he not decided to take a shortcut through the center of the park, but as he plodded through the snow, he felt his foot hit something, a metallic sound reverberating against his boot. He furrowed his eyebrows, kicking aside the snowy covering to reveal Tak's SIR-unit.
Its eyes were dark and its body dented. Tak had likely left it in the park because, like her ship, it was dysfunctional. It was broken, but salvageable. He leaned over, brushing the snow off of Mimi and cradling her in his arms. If she was anything like Tak's ship, he might be able to reprogram her to respond to him.
Maybe… Just maybe…
He rushed home, the cold forgotten as he dashed through the front door, tracking in a mix of melted snow and dirt over the floor and not even bothering to shut the door.
"Hey! Do you mind?" Gaz snapped at him, not so much as turning her head. She hardly had the chance to continue before he had vanished into his father's lab. He heard her growl, slamming the door closed with a force that resonated through the entire house. He could deal with his sister later—right now, he had work to do.
He set the robot down on the table, opening up its head to reveal the system of wires. It reminded him somewhat of his earlier task of deactivating Tak. This time, however, he was restoring, not destroying.
Getting Mimi to run was time-consuming, but not particularly hard. The most difficult part had been finding an alternative to its missing memory disk. He had worked well into the night and most of the next morning. At last, two correct wires connected and the two circular red eyes illuminated. If he had succeeded in reprogramming it, Mimi would respond to a voice command from him. A simple request would be best to start.
"Mimi, stand up."
The robot jumped to its feet, saluting obediently. Dib smiled, standing up and walking toward the door. "Come."
He had been deprived of his room for the past twenty-four hours, it seemed. Most of the previous night was spent fixing Mimi rather than sleeping. A glance at his watch told him that it was already nearly midnight. He rubbed his eyes, yawning as he reentered his room after what felt like years. Mimi tagged close behind him, letting the cat-like holographic projection fade into her normal robotic form.
Dib sat on his bed, pulling off his boots and kicking them aside. He pulled back the blankets, sliding into his bed, but his eyes fell on the wastebasket across the room. He sighed, putting his bare feet onto the chilly floor and creeping to the trash bin. The faint edge of a Polaroid picture was visible in the dark. Dib bent over, reaching into the trash and retrieving the snapshot.
It was slightly crinkled, but otherwise undamaged. He smoothed it out between his hands, setting it gently on his nightstand next to Tak's pak. He smiled sadly, climbing back into his bed.
The very next Valentine's Day, he stood in front of the very place in which she has been buried.
It was cold, but not so much as the last year.
The grass had grown over the turned up earth, leaving no evidence that anything lay beneath the surface.
No evidence, that is, except a square of metal.
He read the engraved words for neither the first nor the last time in his life.
False friend and
Author's Note: First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who has read this, everyone who has reviewed this, and everyone who has encouraged me to update. It's the first multi-chapter story I've actually finished in a long time, and I'm rather proud of this. Unsatisfied, as I assume all authors usually are, but relatively proud. Granted it hasn't had as much publicity as, say, Betryal's Xenophilia, and at this point and the length of my story, I wouldn't expect for it to, but considering it is my first attempt at romance (if you can so call it) for the Zim fandom I believe that the turnout was quite stunning. I'll be working on more Dib and Tak things in the future, both as a couple romantically, as enemies, as teammates, and separately. I hope you'll all continue to read and review the things I put out in the future.