A/N: This one's a little short, too. Sorry about that, but I wanted to get both Zim and Dib's grown-up lives in their own chapters. I, of course, use the term "grown-up" in the loosest possible sense, considering the subjects. I'm working on chapter 4 now, so it might take longer than usual. Please have patience...is a stupid thing to ask, but I do anyways.
Also, I apologize if Gaz seems...very out of character. I always figured that if she grew up, she'd be really...blunt. And upfront about what she wanted (and wanted done), while still being overtly threatening. Let me know if you think this Gaz is a little too off base.
Thanks to everyone for their kind reviews!! You guys rock!
BarkingPup – Yes! There's a story behind that, and I know what it is! As for it being 'true' or not... No, if you're talking about in the actual series. Don't worry if you're confused. I think everyone is right now. Heh. Errm…sorry about that. But yes, I will explain Zim's missing years. Eventually. ...Somehow.
TheOptimisticPessimist - Lol! Ah, my dear! Your post does make me grin. ...And gets random Black Eyed Peas songs stuck in my head for days! I would curse you, but I had too much fun with writing to that music. Thanks for the encouragement!
Sighani – Okay, I want to make sure you understand this clearly before I go any further. You left a long, detailed review that critiqued my work, pointed out errors, and asked me pointed, intelligent questions. Yep. It's official, I'm afraid. No helping it. I LOVE you!! Mwahahaha! :D Thanks for the IC compliments, and I hope this chapter isn't too terrible for you. Now, onto my excuses—er, explanations, I mean! Too much dialogue, not enough description. That's a very good catch, you're absolutely right, and I'll tell you why... I suck at it. I'm sorry, but I really do! I'm trying to get better, though, so please bear with it. As to the Tallests swapping attitudes...you're not crazy. I did switch them up a little. Why? Well, partly because I hadn't watched the series in a while when I dusted this little ditty off, but mostly because I seem to naturally gravitate towards certain behavioral types with certain colors. (I blame the Ninja Turtles for this. It cemented the 'reds are hot-heads, and purples are mommies' mentality, I think.) Don't worry, I'll...make it right, uh...somehow, when I do Zim's backstory. ;) Which, by the way, I'm pleased you have faith in. My muse officially loves you for that, too, since I haven't had anything even remotely approaching faith in that little gap for months. And lastly... Don't ever worry about being too mean with me! I am a big, strong, thick-skinned idiot. If that doesn't convince you, I'll say this: I've worked retail for five years! Ha! I am impervious to insults! Behold my awesome shield of verbal scarring! So, I welcome any other comments you might have in the future. Ciao, sweetheart!
A Most Worthy Enemy
Meanwhile, Back On Earth…
"DIB! I swear to god, DIB! If you make us LATE for Hoggy's 351ST Anniversary Party because of some STUPID EXPERIMENT, I will make you wish you were back in that alternate dimension SCRUBBING TOILETS AGAIN!"
Dib sighed, shaking his head. His sister never changes, he thought, hunching over his keyboard and typing faster. Even when she became President of the United States, she still insisted on never missing a Hoggy's Pizza Heaven new pizza premiere.
And she could still terrify a grown man into silence with a single look.
"Coming, Gaz!" Dib called over his shoulder, standing as he typed the last of the e-mail and sent it off. He had to hurry, or she'd really come in and destroy everything he had spent the last eleven years of his life building up from almost nothing.
"We won't be late," Dib added evenly, stepping out of his office as he shrugged into his comfortably-worn black coat. "We have the hover car, remember?"
Really, it was Tak's ship from years ago, which Dib had decided to convert into a car after wiping out its AI system. For real this time. It'd been a pain, and he'd accidentally destroyed a small suburb, but it made traffic a thing of the past. And that had saved Dib from the wrath of Gaz too many times to remember.
"Whatever. Just. Get. Me. There. ON. TIME!" Gaz snarled.
Dib scanned the hall as they hurried towards the roof and noticed that Gaz's appointed Secret Service men were keeping their distance, curled in a corner and watching him with wide, pleading eyes. Dib sighed. He'd have to remember to have them replaced again with men who weren't terrified of their president.
The only problem was that Dib didn't think there were any left.
After becoming not only the world's youngest president, but also the first female president at age twenty-one, Gaz had, in just one short year, brought world peace and a unity to the United States the likes of which everyone was too terrified to break apart. When Dib mentioned that ruling with fear maybe wasn't the best idea, Gaz had given him a dark look over the trembling bodies of the freshly-subdued Senators.
"Don't be more stupid than necessary, DIB. If I do it this way, the smart ones will learn to respect me, eventually, AND I'll be able to weed out the idiots. You have a better idea, smartass?"
As it turned out, he hadn't. And it seemed that Gaz's plan worked out with only a few minor wars. Dib never asked what happened to the opposing armies. It was enough that the threats vanished, bodies and all.
For Dib, life had picked up just as quickly as his sister's had.
Only a year after Zim had left, he'd caught a lucky break and ended up saving the Chief of the Secret Service from a wild man-eating wombat. The man had taken Dib under his wing, showing him the secrets of the FBI and CIA. Secrets Dib didn't feel the need to tell the man he'd known since Elementary skool.
After being hired into the Secret Service, Dib had risen through the ranks quickly. And when the Chief took an assassin's bullet for the former president and died, Dib took his place at the tender age of twenty.
Since assuming the role as Chief of the Secret Service, Dib had devoted his time to joining both the Secret Service and the Swollen Eyeball, which had surprisingly gained popularity and credentials over the years. He took over as leader for the Swollen Eyeball when their old leader decided to view the galaxy with a visiting group of aliens.
Now, years later, Dib's official and unofficial title was 'Dib, Commander and Chief of the Secret Service/Swollen Eyeball collaboration and Head of Presidential Security'.
He'd been forced to add the last part after Gaz's third month in office. When the last group of presidential guards had run screaming from the White House, crying for a priest and their mothers. And not always in that order.
"Dan is going to be there," Gaz was saying, jerking Dib from his thoughts. She shot him a warning look. "So you better not do anything to make him UNCOMFORTABLE. Got it?!"
"Dan?" Dib repeated, glancing at Gaz in confusion. "I thought you were dating Dirk? Or was it Sam? And…uh, what happened to Len?"
Gaz glared harder at Dib. "Dirk was stupid, so I fed him to my room. Sam was annoying, so I fed him to the Senators. And Len was just a jerk, so I sent him to Antarctica." She smiled sharply. "I think the penguins ate him." Dib shuddered. "But I like this one, Dib. If you chase him off…"
"Toilets, yes, I know," Dib replied quickly. "I won't do more than take his fingerprints, I swear!"
Storm clouds rolled after the speeding aircraft, making the tiny hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Gaz's glare was one breath away from killing something. "…DIB…"
Dib gulped. "Or…not… Just some friendly conversation instead. How about that?"
Seeing their landing spot ahead, Dib gratefully landed the aircraft outside the roped-off pizza place. It was always kind of sentimental, being back in their old neighborhood, he thought with a fond glance around. Because not just any branch of Piggy's Pizza would do for Gaz. Oh no, it had to be the exact same one.
"Not. One. Word. Dib," Gaz warned him as they got out. "Or ELSE!"
"Shnookums!" A man cried, hurrying over to them.
Dib gaped at the man, horrified for this stranger's terrible fate after calling his sister like that. He turned slowly to his sister, fully expecting to see the wrath of Hell loosening, and wondered if he could talk her into just killing to poor idiot quickly. Probably not, but he had to try!
Dib stumbled back involuntarily when met with the doe-eyed expression his sister had. No. It couldn't be! The Demonic President that even Hell wouldn't claim? Completely…besotted?!
God help them all, Dib thought fearfully, a shiver of cold premonition running down his spine.
Gaz was IN LOVE!
"Danny-pie," Gaz cooed, hugging him as Dib choked. "You know my brother Dib. Dib, this is Dan."
Dib nodded, sweating under the glare Gaz shot him, and shook the man's hand without saying a word.
He was…southern, Dib decided, still numb. Very, very southern.
"How ya'll doin', sweet?" Dan asked, pulling Gaz towards the restaurant. "Pizza's lookin' mighty fine today."
"Great. I'm starved," Gaz sighed, beaming. She shot a sharp look over their shoulders and hissed at Dib. "Don't make us late, BROTHER."
Dib raced ahead of them nervously and opened the door for his sister politely. He entered in after them and took a seat opposite Dan in the booth. The waxy, greasy surface of the table had been polished slick, and he could even see his reflection in it. It reminded him to change the shading on his glasses from opaque to clear.
He leaned back in his booth and propped his chin on his hands, his head tilted just right so the overhead fluorescent lights caught the reflection on his glasses and hid his eyes. It was the only way he could study Gaz's infatuation with this…DAN person without her noticing for a few minutes.
The man sat doting on his sister, looking just as infatuated as she was. Perhaps it really was true love. To Gaz. Regardless, he'd have his units sweep the table and chairs for prints after Gaz left. One could never be too careful, after all. Even if Gaz was a devil incarnate, she was still the President. Oh, and his sister.
"DIB!" Gaz snarled. "What are you doing?"
Dib jerked, straightening up. Damn, caught already. He tried for an awkward laugh. "Sorry, Gaz. I must have been working too hard on our latest project. I was just drifting off a little."
Gaz's narrowed, suspicious eyes told him she didn't buy it for an instant, but Dan laughed, accepting the lie, and she let it drop. Until they were alone again.
"What is it that you're workin' on there?" Dan asked good-naturedly. "Gazzy here tells me you're with the Secret Service."
Dib scowled. "I AM the Secret Service. Commander and Chief Dib." He grinned at Dan then, just as good naturedly. "If I told you what I did, though, I'd be forced to have you killed."
"Dib!" Gaz hissed, but was once again silenced by Dan's easy laughter.
"That's what they all say, buddy! But good luck with it nonetheless, now," Dan said cheerfully.
"I…thanks," Dib said, surprised. Maybe he really was a nice guy after all…
"Here's your pizza, Madam President," a young woman said, setting a large pizza before them. She flicked a glance to Dib, who sat still within his own thoughts. She blushed and added a bit breathlessly, "Commander and Chief…Dib."
Dib glanced at her shortly, palming a small communications device from his jacket pocket. "Thank you. And can I get a refill of coke?" he muttered distractedly, sending short orders to the agents on stand-by outside.
The woman looked delighted. "Yes! Yes, right away!"
"She wants you," Gaz observed as the woman flustered away. She turned a hard look on her brother. "She looks clean enough. Date her."
Dib looked up, surprised at the abrupt order, and pocketed the comm-device. "What? Who?"
Gaz snarled, "Our waitress."
"We had a waitress?" Dib asked skeptically.
"Yes! She's right there!"
Dib followed Gaz's direction, blinking when he found a young woman blushing and blinking at him quickly. "Her?! No way, not going to happen. Besides, I'm way too busy right now for a relationship."
"You've been 'way too busy' ever since Zim left," Gaz drawled. "You're twenty-three. You need to get laid."
Dib blushed furiously. "GAZ! This isn't about ZIM, and I don't want—"
He broke off awkwardly as the woman in question returned, setting down a perfectly filled coke. With a piece of paper under it. Dib watched her as she blushed hotly and hurried back to the back kitchen. He picked the slip of paper up, examined the number, and sighed, slipping it into his coat pocket. He hated it when Gaz was right.
He didn't even understand why women kept coming up to him.
Okay, sure, he'd maybe grown into his large head. And okay, so maybe he had a nice body kept finely toned. But, that was just so he could run after rouge mutants better! If he was out of shape, those monsters would catch him and eat him without a thought!
And he guessed he looked alright in the face. No obvious deformities. Strong jaw, firm skin, hard eyes with his hair grown out just until it was a little shaggy, but that was only through neglect! He didn't have time to cut his hair. He had to save the entire world from the monsters that attacked from outer space!
It might be the clothes, Dib thought absently. He had heard somewhere that women were into the tall, dark, and mysterious. He was all three. Dark-haired by birth, mysterious by profession, and he dressed in black dress pants, black shirts, and a black trench coat. But, again, all for very practical reasons! Blending in with the dark was key to capturing the monsters.
And his long black trench coat was really an experimental version of reinforced steel bended with cotton. It was a design he'd helped his father start a year or two ago. So far it worked exceptionally well against fire, disease, bullets, lasers, and knives.
"I mean it, Dib," Gaz said, giving him a hard look over her pizza slice.
"Yeah, yeah. Okay, whatever," Dib muttered, taking a slice of pizza despondently. He didn't want to date around. Why couldn't Gaz understand that? He just wasn't—
An alarm went off in Dib's left coat pocket, making his heart leap into his throat.
That alarm! The sharp, piercing whistles! He dove for it quickly and pulled out a small, ancient hand-held device. Yes! It was! He couldn't believe it!
"Tell me that isn't…" Gaz trailed off, looking irate.
Dib leapt up without answering, nearly shaking with anticipation. He couldn't believe it! After so long of waiting!
"GAZ! I have to go! He's CLOSE, Gaz! Our atmosphere close!" He touched the ear-piece in his right ear. "Agents James and Bradford, I need you to take over watch on Madam President. Immediately!"
Twin howls of despair assaulted his ear, and Dib shut the device off, knowing they'd be there. They wouldn't dare disobey him. He beamed at his sister. "I'll see you later, Gaz! I've got to go! He's coming!"
"Yeah, well…he's late," Gaz grumbled with a dark scowl, sitting back with her pizza again.
"Ah…w-wait, sir!" the waitress from before cried. "Would you like a to-go box?!"
Dib paused at the door, spinning on his heel to face the woman. "Are you deaf, woman?!" he demanded, his heart pounding so hard he was amazed it didn't leap out of his chest. "There's no time! He's coming!"
Unable to help himself, Dib grinned widely, jittery and as excited as his first monster hunt. "ZIM is coming back!"
There were several abrupt thumps—the most prominent of them being the waitress at Gaz's table—as the waitresses swooned under the radiant smile. Not that Dib had noticed, already rushing out the door, hot on the trail of his long-lost childhood nemesis.
Thanks for reading! You'll feed the author on the way out...right?