Summary: Zim catches an Earth cold and concludes that he is dying. One-shot.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of this. I just got a funny image in my head one day in the shower and decided to turn it into a piece of writing.

It started with a few sniffles here and there that Zim attributed to the stench of Earth. ("My nasal cavities are becoming clogged... it must be the horrible smell of this spinning ball of filth!") But after only a few days of escalating symptoms, the Irken was feeling more ill than he'd felt in at least a hundred years. On the third day he decided to stay home from Skool in order to run a diagnosis on his illness and find a cure.

"This is getting out of hand," Zim growled to himself as he stomped crossly from the door of the control room to the center and threw himself in his chair. "A mere sickness causing me so much trouble! This must be stopped!" With only a few taps on his keyboard, Zim caused a scanning device to come out of the depths of his base and hover over him. "Begin scan," he commanded. The device passed over and around his small body for a few seconds, then retreated back where it had come from. The computer's automated reply came within moments.

Scan complete. Infection detected.

"AND?!"

Insufficient data to produce a cure.

"Insufficient data?!" howled Zim in wild rage, the action scratching his already sore throat. It wasn't the first time he'd heard that particular phrase, so it irked him even more than usual to hear it again. It also didn't help his temper that he was miserable. He was about to shout a few choice Irken expletives, but was hindered by a bout of harsh coughing. "ARGH!" he tried to screech in frustration, but it came out as more of a rough, rather high-pitched growl. Red eyes bugged out in alarm as the Irken realized he was losing his voice. "Oh, so now my vocal chords are malfunctioning?" he squeaked irately, leaping from his control chair and beginning to pace. "The computer does not know what is wrong with me... not even the amazing Zim knows what is wrong. My nasal cavities, vocals, throat seem to be violently affected by the mysterious infection. Even the rest of my body is beginning to ache. This can only lead to one conclusion..." Zim's squeak faded away before he whispered, "Zim is dying."

The Irken rode his elevator to the top floor with a heavy heart, rising out of the toilet in the kitchen with as much dignity as he could muster. "GIR," he tried to shout, but his voice cracked from the strain on his throat. The insane little SIR still heard, though, and looked over from his upside-down position on the couch.

"You sound like a froggy!" giggled the robot, who was dressed in his green dog suit.

"Not now, GIR," growled Zim, sneezing twice before continuing. "I need you to do something for me. Come here at once!"

Obediently, GIR flipped over and skipped to Zim with a grin. The green-skinned alien sighed. "I think you should know that your master is going to stop being alive soon, and that you, along with the base, are set to self-destruct the moment I deactivate. So if you've got anything you'd like to do beforehand, like go eat more filthy Earth tacos, I suggest you go do it now before I change my mind."

"REEEEEEALLY?!" shrieked GIR ecstatically.

"Yes, yes, now GO, your moment has arrived!"

GIR shot off at a speed Zim had previously thought was unattainable by any sort of machinery. Distant whoops of "WHOOHOO!" echoed through the neighborhood. Despite himself, Zim smirked. He supposed now that he was going to die, he could safely admit to himself that he had a soft spot for his crazy little minion.

Zim's military instincts bred of intense training forced him not to linger on the thought, but to move on to the next step he'd already formulated in his mind; calling his Tallest. "I'm sure they'll take the news hard," Zim said as he pressed a button on his living room wall, causing a panel to slide back, revealing a transmission screen. "Computer, call the Tallest!"

A moment later, the two aforementioned rulers showed up on the screen. "What is it, Zim?" Purple groaned as the short Irken wiggled his antennae reverently.

"My Tallest, I have dire news to report-"

"Are you dying?" interrupted Red idly, a wistful look crossing his face. "'Cause if you were... Say, why is your voice all squeaky like that?"

"Why yes..." said Zim, clearly shocked. "The hideous squeakiness is part of it. But how did you know?"

"Oh, uh, we Tallest know everything!" Red improvised.

"Yeah, it's part of the job," added Purple. "So what's wrong with you?"

"It would seem I have contracted some sort of fatal Earth disease. I would guess I have only a few days left to live." As if his body was in agreement with his statement, he gave a tremendous sneeze, sniffling miserably.

"Oh, really? That's too bad," Purple said a little too cheerfully.

"Yes, yes it is," agreed Zim, who appeared too absorbed in his sickly gloom to have noticed. "I was just calling in to let you know so that you can choose another invader to take my place. Not that they'll be nearly as good as Zim, but SOMEONE has to carry out this special secret mission!"

"Yeah, we'll be sure to find someone as, um, talented as you," Red assured Zim, unable to hold back a grin. "Well, we won't keep you- you'd better start wrapping things up for that glorious... I mean, horrible day."

"Good advice, my Tallest," squeaked Zim. "I shall see you in the next life, then."

"I certainly hope not," Purple mumbled.

Zim, completely missing the last comment, ended his transmission and began to walk around his base, the silence punctuated with a few coughing fits. What would I like to do before I stop living, he wondered between coughs. Probably do something horrible to the Dib.

And why not? some inner voice of his commented. You've got nothing to lose!

Feeling oddly content, Zim found himself walking undisguised to the Membrane house. Without bothering to knock or ring the doorbell, he barged right through the door, looking around. Other than Gaz, who sat on the couch, absorbed in her Game Slave 2, the living room was empty. She happened to look up, and upon seeing Zim in her house, she growled threw a bowl full of popcorn at his head. Afterwards, she returned to her game as though nothing had happened.

Shaking popcorn from his antennae, Zim walked casually to Dib's room, where he found the boy in question bent over his laptop, talking to someone on the phone.

"-and he's got green skin. No, seriously! Didn't you look at the pictures I sent you? What Earth kid has green... Wait, you didn't even look at the pictures? Why not? ...You've heard I'm crazy? From who?! ...Ah, whatever. You stupid people are all the same- what? What did you just call me?! FINE, WHEN THE EARTH IS A SMOLDERING RUIN AND YOU DON'T HAVE ANYWHERE ELSE TO LIVE, DON'T COME CRYING TO ME!"

With that, Dib slammed the phone down, sinking back into his computer chair irately. "How is it that people in Antarctica have heard that I'm crazy? ANARCTICA, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!"

"It's a small planet, Dib-monkey," cackled Zim, making his presence known and watching as Dib whirled around, surprised to see Zim standing there, and without his disguise.

"What are YOU doing here? And why weren't you at Skool?"

"Oh, I was just in the area and thought I'd drop in and, you know, bother you and foil all your plans to expose me, which aren't even necessary since I'm going to die in a few days anyway. And I wasn't at the filthy Earth education center because I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE GOING!" Zim's voice squeaked, and Dib gave him a weird look.

"Die, what the...? And what's wrong with your voice?"

"Nothing, foolish Earth-child," said the Irken, his voice coming out in a croak.

"Y'know," said Dib with a thoughtful expression, "you sound like you have a cold. Do aliens get colds...?"

Zim looked offended. "Irkens are never cold- we do not have such inferior skin as you stink-humans do!"

"No, not cold, Zim," said Dib impatiently, waving a hand, "a cold. It's a sickness humans get a lot. Lemme guess; you're nose is stopped up, your throat is sore, you get fits of coughing, and you just feel generally rotten, right?"

"Why yes," growled Zim suspiciously. He gasped dramatically, pointing a finger at his enemy and screeching, "So it was YOU who gave me this horrible Earth disease! I KNEW IT!"

"No, stupid!" yelled Dib. "And it's not a disease!"

"Is too!"

"Is not!"

"YOUR STUPID VOICES ARE FILLING ME WITH A HORRIBLE RAGE!" came Gaz's voice from the living room.

The two exchanged glances, then launched right back into their argument.

"Fix it now, human filth, or I'll bring you down with me!"

Dib rolled his eyes at the threat. "There is no cure, Zim! You just have to wait a week or so, and then it'll go away. So go back to your base and quit bugging me already."

"I will go back to my base, Dib, and I'll wait one week. If this terrible 'cold' is not gone, be prepared to suffer DOOM LIKE NONE OTHER OF YOUR SPECIES HAS EVER KNOWN!"

"Yeah, yeah, just go!"

"Fine!"

"Fine!"

"I'm going now!"

"Then go!"

"SHUT UP!" yelled Gaz, throwing more popcorn in their general direction.

Zim spent the next week at his base, tinkering with inventions and just waiting, like Dib had said. Gradually, he felt himself beginning to return to normal. GIR came back after a day or two and insisted that Zim watch old science fiction movies with him. Grudgingly, the Irken obliged. Every now and then, Dib would try to get past the security gnomes, and Zim would enjoy electrocuting him, but mostly the boy stayed away. And so the time passed, until Zim felt perfectly back to normal.

Upon his return to Skool, exactly one week since he'd gone to the Membrane house, Dib snickered triumphantly. "SEE! I TOLD you that it was just a cold!"

"LIES!" shrieked Zim in return.

The two enemies began to bicker as they usually did, and the day passed as any other normal day on Earth did. Zim returned home that afternoon, feeling very much like his old self. He had but one thing to do before he could forget about his awful illness and return to plotting to conquer Earth.

"My Tallest?"

"Zim?" said Red disappointedly. "I thought you were supposed to be dead a few days ago?"

"I had presumed as much, but it turned out to be just a small Earth sickness. So you don't have to worry about choosing another invader to conquer this planet. EARTH IS STILL MINE!"

"That's great, Zim," said Purple. "Hey listen, we've got a request for you."

"What's that, my Tallest?"

"Next time you get some foreign disease, make sure it's really fatal before you call us!"