Note: I don't like having so many unfinished fics up at once, but the ideas for this one would not leave me alone. So here's the relevant information. This is a sequel to Maneem. I restate, the only romance in this story will be between Della and Tom. Do NOT read between the lines ANYwhere else. Also, new cover art, by the lovely Kassyaa! Look this artist up on Deviantart, thank you!


"Hurry up, we're gonna be late."

"Coming." The slender figure adjusted her sweater and wound a colorful scarf around her neck. Shaking her black hair free, she pulled on a cap and hurried out the door, grasping the outstretched hand of her impatient little sister.

"Don't want you getting in trouble wiv Ms. Bitters again, just cause you got dention last week, I had to wait too."

"Detention," The older girl corrected. "We won't be late."

"You said that last week," The younger sang.

Mikko did not answer. She felt no need to waste words on what would become a pointless argument. Allowing herself a smile, she tweaked her sister's pigtail.

"Hey!" Tiana complained. "I brushded it myself!"

Still, Mikko only grinned.

"You're too quiet," Tiana whined, keeping pace as Mikko led her to the bus stop.

"And you talk too much."

"Ha! Gotcha to talk."

Rolling her eyes, Mikko tugged her other pigtail. "Go brag to Mr. Elliot then. I'm finished for now."

Impishly, Tiana saluted her older sister, and boarded the waiting bus. Mikko climbed in after her, sitting a few seats away.

Quiet and brooding, Mikko had made very few friends in her time at Skool, but she didn't care. Most of the girls thought of nothing but how to get a boy, and most of the boys thought of nothing but how to score a girl. She, being interested in neither, was shunned by both. Her silence was taken as snottiness, and her reclusive nature as a sign of being anti-social. Few, if any, knew that the brief conversations she held with her sister and teachers were the result of two years spent overcoming a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Distracted, her mind drifted back. She'd worked hard to improve for when he came back. He promised, and she wanted to show him she was doing better, just like he was. His friend came over to visit a lot. She and her sister loved hearing stories about the battles they used to fight, and how crazy they'd been. It showed just how far he had come.

Air brakes hissed as the bus slid to a stop. Checking her watch, Mikko frowned. She'd barely have enough time to make it to her locker and then class. She hurried to get off, but paused on the steps of the Skool. Gazing at the overcast sky, she allowed a sigh to escape.

You will come back, won't you, Zim?

Thin, spindly claws scooped up a pile of dust, and blood-red eyes watched it trickle from his grasp. It fell slowly, but that was no surprise. Everything fell slowly here. With no atmosphere and inhospitable temperatures, the Moon made a perfect, if lonely, hiding place. From his underground dwelling, he could monitor all Earth broadcasts and information networks, and from the surface he could see the watery planet. He'd learned to dodge NASA probes and did his best to keep GIR from eating them. No sense giving them a reason to send more cameras.

For two Earth years he'd survived in isolation, waiting for the furor over his disappearance to die down. Occasionally he would contact the Dib through the internets, always under a different pseudonym, but somehow the hyuman could always tell who he really was chatting with. He made a mental note to learn more of the hyumans' peculiar expressions to minimize suspicions in the future.

According to Dib and the broadcasts, Earth had mostly forgotten about him. As long as he found himself a decent disguise and kept away from the Swollen Eyeball, he'd been told, it should be safe for him to return.

"Here's hoping," Zim muttered.

"All-ready!" Giggled a childish voice from behind. "All packed an' stuffs, do I get a new doggie suit?"

Zim glanced down, amused. "No, GIR. We go in with much, much better disguises this time. I'll show you on the way down."