Zim sat on the floor, despondently. Across from him stood a pink door, and behind the door huddled the closest thing he could call a sister. The second Zim had set foot in the house, Mikko had leaped out of Della's arms, bolted up the stairs, and locked her door.
"But it wasn't me," he protested, bewildered. Della had taken his claws in her hand, and Tom patted his head roughly.
"Zim," Della hedged, "Whatever happened to Mikko… well, it set her back a lot. She hasn't said a word since she's been back, and anytime she sees you on the news, she runs out of the room." As gently as she could, she'd explained, "I think, right now, just seeing you reminds her too much of the other… aliens."
Wordlessly, Zim had posted himself outside Mikko's door. He'd taken a break only to swoop Tiana into a hug when she'd returned and explain why Mikko wouldn't come out.
He sighed. The Earth government had forgiven him a week ago. Why couldn't Mikko? At least, he consoled himself, the evidence in his PAK had earned him amnesty, and a permanent place on Earth if he wanted. He was to be treated as an honored guest on the planet, and anyone harming him would be severely punished. He doubted this would stop the Swollen Eyeball, which had gone underground, but it would deter them for a while. And with Dib designated as Zim's official monitor and Earth guide, he suspected any mysterious absence of his would raise alerts immediately.
A sniff sounded from the other side of the door. Zim's antennae drooped further, and he crawled to the door. "Mikko. Please. It's Zim. Don't you remember Zim?" He put a hand on the door. "Remember Zim. Remember when you came in my room, and I was having a nightmare? Remember, you told me you had them too. That was the first time you spoke to Zim. And when I had to leave, you didn't want me to go? Did you know I didn't want to? That you and Tiana made me feel like I wanted to stay? I had burny liquids in my eyes, and my spooch felt like it got tied in knots. That's because you're special to Zim. You. Tiana. Manee—I mean Della. Tom. Even the Dib-stink."
The sniffling behind the door had stopped. Zim continued. "I didn't have family before, and I didn't have friends. Everybody else wanted me to die. But you all… you made me want to stay alive and not self-destruct. You saved my life. Did you know that?"
The door cracked open. Pale fingers curled around the edge of the door. Zim restrained himself from touching them. "Please. Smeet. I miss you."
The door opened further, revealing Mikko's tear-swollen face. Hesitantly, she held out her hand. He took it, with utmost care. She opened her mouth, and a spasm passed up from her stomach to her head.
"Shhh, smeet. I know it's hard to talk right now. You don't have to." He smiled. "We'll work on talking again, slowly. Right?"
She closed her mouth. Dropping her eyes to their hands, she traced a scar line along his claws. She glanced up again, studying his eyes.
We both have scars, he mused. I just can't see hers.
Tom called up the stairs. "Zim! Dib called for you."
Reluctantly, Zim turned to leave. Mikko remained where she was, staring at the carpet where he'd been. He took the phone from Tom and barked, "What is it, Earth-smell?"
A shriek and a horrible crash greeted his antennae, as Dib yelped, "Would you get over here and take your crazy robot? Tallest Purple personally dumped him on my lawn before flying away!"
Zim blinked. "Why would he do that?"
"Maybe," Dib shouted, "Because he was causing as much damage to Purple's ship as he's causing to my house! WOULD YOU GET OVER HERE???"
Chuckling, Zim hung up the phone. "Hey, parental units. Assume that Zim shall return soon. GIR is back, I have to get him."
Della laughed. "Okay, but get back here before your food is cold. Don't worry, no meat or water."
"It comes to this," Zim grumbled, "I am ordered around by inferior smellies." But a small grin twitched at his mouth. Della threw a towel at him, which he dodged on his way out the door. Closing it, he allowed the grin to conquer his face. "Family." He muttered. "Who would have thought?"