(A/N) I've had the idea for this one for a long time, but this is perhaps the best time to post it.
Though most of the fandom believes he is completely without friends, Dib does have a friend, Darkbootie. Unfortunately, Darkbootie doesn't get written about nearly often enough. Must be because he doesn't offer enough potential for slash and/or Dib abuse.
Disclaimer: I don't own Invader Zim and this story is 100% Gaz free.
This one is brought to you by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
As the heavily trodden snow crunched beneath his feet, Dib searched for some cover before his enemy spotted him too.
Too much of the skoolyard was open ground; the bike racks, swings and jungle gym would offer no defense whatsoever. The best post by far would be behind the skool dumpster; he moved quickly to occupy it and prepared to defend his position. The winter cold was keeping the stench down somewhat but it did nothing for the mess. Never mind that now.
Moments earlier, the last day of skool had just concluded. Dib knew this would be his last chance for a raid on Zim on skool territory for a week, so he wanted this surprise attack to really count.
Keeping one eye on Zim advancing through the skool playground, Dib hastily bent down, scooped up a handful of snow, shaped it into a firm, round snowball, and prepared to fire. As he waited for Zim to get close enough to assure a hit, Dib narrowed his eyes. The rest of the world didn't even know it, but make no mistake, it was at war.
"They'd always said war was hell, but when the First World War broke out they found out what hell really was.
"Just imagine, Mothman," Darkbootie described the scene to Dib. "They thought the war would be over and done with in six weeks, but nearly five months later they were still at it."
"Who was winning?" Dib wanted to know. He greatly enjoyed times like these, when Darkbootie settled in for a long conversation. Even when they weren't talking about aliens, it sure was good just to have someone to talk with. Dib didn't get to have an intelligent conversation often enough; at best most people ignored him and at worst they drove him away.
"Nobody. The British and the French had stopped the Germans from getting any further into France, but they couldn't get them to leave. So both armies dug in, literally, in long trenches. In some places they were only a couple of hundred yards apart.
"When winter arrived it began to rain, and the rain turned those trenches into endless pits of mud. On Christmas Eve 1914, that's where they were. Instead of being home and sharing the holiday with family, they were soaked with mud, eating the same rations every single day, freezing and being shot at."
"What sort of guns were they using?" Dib asked.
"All countries were using machine guns in war by then, and at that time they were also still using poison gas."
Finally Zim had advanced past the rows of teachers's cars; finally he was out in the open. As he lay in wait, Dib continued to pack his icy missile still harder. Too bad he didn't have a machine gun or poison gas like the soldiers did. Well, maybe not poison gas. That might not have any effect on Zim, or even drift away to end up killing half the kids on the playground. A machine gun would most likely do the job, but until he could get his hands on the real thing, snowballs and other such juvenile weapons would have to do.
His eyes narrowed against the glare of the snow, Dib watched closely, waiting for the alien to get close enough that Dib knew he could not miss.
"So the soldiers could do nothing but wait. They waited for their orders, whether to attack or retreat didn't even matter any more, anything just to end the boredom. They were all there together, sort of, in the same horrible conditions, and when that happens, things change."
"Why should anything change just because of that?"
"You know, Mothman, grownups are funny sometimes. It's easy to hate someone who's far away. It's a lot harder to hate somebody when they're nearby, and the closer you're close to him, the faster you get tired of hating him. In fact, they used to have a brief ceasefire every morning."
"So both sides could eat breakfast. As soon as they finished eating, though, out came the guns once again. It sounds like something you'd see in a comedy, but it really happened.
"Sometimes, in the evenings I guess, the men would sing sentimental or patriotic songs to pass the time, try to forget where they were. The funny part is, sometimes the other side would join in the applause and even call for an encore."
"No way," scoffed Dib. That part sounded fake. It was war, after all.
"That's what they say happened," Darkbootie insisted. "And on Christmas Eve, the Germans put up Christmas trees beside their trenches, and even decorated them with candles."
"They were copying us?"
"No, we copied them!" The red eyes on the screen seemed to twinkle. "We got the Christmas tree tradition from Germany, you know. At first, the Allies were trying to figure out what these new objects were, but then they heard the Germans singing Christmas carols, quite a few of which we know too. 'Silent Night' and 'O Christmas Tree' originally came from Germany. 'O Come All Ye Faithful,' was another. Back then, they still sang that one in Latin.
"Then some Germans began shouting "Merry Christmas!" towards the Allied trenches."
"How'd they know English?"
"Oh, some of the German soldiers had worked in Britain before the war, so they knew a little of it. Then the German soldiers began calling the Allies to come over to visit them."
"Was it a trick?" Dib blurted. "Please don't say it was an ambush!"
"It was no trick, but the Allied soldiers were still cautious, understandably so. They'd feel more comfortable if the Germans came over to visit THEM. The only trouble was, the Germans weren't willing to enter their territory either, and for the same reason.
"In one place someone threw a cake to the other side. Of course there was a mad scramble, as you can imagine," Darkbootie chuckled, "but when it didn't explode, that's when they realized it was a cake.
"No one will ever know who finally made the first move, but in various places here and there all along the front, soldiers from both sides came out of their trenches and met each other, right in the middle of No Man's Land."
Dib's heart thudded in his ears. He had to know what happened next. "What did they do?"
"They began by shaking hands and wishing each other a Merry Christmas."
"No way." Dib was halfway between skepticism and wonder. He wasn't sure if he believed this, but he was sure that he had goose pimples.
"Oh, it must have been pretty tense at first. The Allies knew they were right out in the open facing the 'enemy,' and no doubt the same thing was also on the minds of the Germans. They began talking, and if they couldn't understand the other's language and couldn't find someone who could translate, they made signs with their hands. That night, nobody tried to shoot anybody, and before they knew it, it was like they had known each other for years.
"It was truly extraordinary when you think about it, Mothman. In the middle of the worst war the world had known up to that time, soldiers from opposing nations got together and sang Christmas carols."
A little shiver ran up Dib's back. It would be fun to think this really happened, but even if this was just a story, it was still the most wonderful Christmas story he had ever heard.
"Really? You're not kidding me?"
"It really happened, Mothman. I wouldn't tell you this as true if it wasn't. When they saw it was safe, more and more soldiers began to reach out, until all along the front, little groups of Germans and Allies were greeting each other, singing, laughing, showing each other pictures of their families back home, sharing cigarettes, and even exchanging little gifts."
"Where'd they get all the stuff?" Dib wondered. "They had nothing to eat but rations!"
"Oh, when the soldiers's families and friends realized they wouldn't be home for Christmas, they began sending packages of warm clothing, cigarettes, and treats. So there they were, visiting, even partying with men they'd been trying to kill only hours earlier."
"So all of a sudden... peace broke out!" Dib had always wanted to say that, and practically jumped out of his chair. "So we CAN have peace, but war gets in the way!" He often heard people say humans were worthless, but this incident was definitely a good argument that the human race had much good in it after all. Even in the middle of a war, they could take the time out to celebrate Christmas with each other. Surely this meant that the whole world could put aside its differences and unite if it had to!
"They say that right in the middle of No Man's Land, there was even a Britain - Germany soccer game that Christmas."
"Who won?" Dib couldn't resist asking.
"Again, nobody. They probably would have played together for quite a while, but the game suddenly ended when the ball got punctured on some barbed wire."
That paused the conversation, but only briefly. "So after that, the war must have ended faster then, huh?" Dib asked eagerly.
Darkbootie shook his head sadly.
"Military officials were not impressed, Mothman, they were not impressed at all. The soldiers had been acting against their orders; none of that had been officially organized. After all that, the soldiers just could not bring themselves to shoot at each other, and to the officers that was the worst thing of all. Every commanding officer from the General on down ordered his subordinates to stay on the offensive at all times. Any and all sort of friendly meetings with the enemy, for any reason whatsoever, were absolutely forbidden. The record of these orders is how we can be sure it really happened.
"That terrible war would drag on for another four years, but this Christmas truce was never again repeated, and the incident at Christmas 1914 at the front became a legend."
"So then it really is true," said Dib. He had begun to wonder if the incident had really happened exactly as Darkbootie had said, or if it had been exaggerated from one tiny isolated incident. The proof that it was the former had come from an unlikely and unfortunate source.
Dib now took his eyes off Zim long enough to glance down at the icy snowball in his mitten, but this time it was a lot harder to look away from it. The Christmas holidays had just begun, and today was Christmas Eve; in less than twelve hours it would be Christmas Day. Dib frowned at the snowball, then looked back at Zim, walking away from him across the skoolyard, completely unsuspecting what had almost happened to him. In another moment Zim would be out of range.
Dib looked up, scanning the sky for an alien armada. None was visible. He could let up for just one day without the world being invaded. If he allowed Zim to harden him again so that he lost sight of finer things, then what had he won? What had he allowed Zim to make him into?
Dib brought his hand down, and as he did so, let the snowball fall to the ground. In the next moment he dodged behind the dumpster as a snowball from Zim exploded against it.
"HA! Pitiful Hu-MAN! You never thought you could make a weapon out of SNOW! Ha ha! Score one for the superior intelligence of ZI-II-IIIM!"
From the looks of it, Irkens had never even heard of holiday truces. Dib didn't run after him the snowball, but as Zim walked away laughing loudly, Dib picked up his snowball and hid it behind the dumpster.
He began making more to store with it. Dib already had his New Year's resolution, to be ready when skool opened again on the second of January.
"Forgive your enemies, but don't forget their names." JFK
(A/N) Yes, it actually did happen.
Merry Christmas... or Bah Humbug if that's your thing.