Author's Notes: Invader Zim is the property of Jhonen Vasquez and his tribe of winged monkeys at Nickelodeon. I own nothing but the Wevers. And yes, just for the record, this is slash. If the thought of alien species in m/m relationships leaves you feeling queasy, then you might want to find something else to read. And if you want to see a piccy of Neese, head to http://www.angelfire.com/tv2/dals/neese.jpg And a big thanks go out to Bast-chan for beta-reading this and coming up with the name "Wever."

Marriage of Convenience

From his seat, Purple studied Tilith Va-Surese, the chief elder of the Va-Surese Wever tribe. As a whole, Purple found Wevers to be a hideous species, with their bluish skin and silvery hair. Tilith was more stomach-churning than most of his kind, his body gnarled and face lined with age. As disgusting as the Wevers were to look upon, Purple had to admit to himself that they were at least polite, which made dealing with them much easier.

Tilith bowed as low as his body would allow, and Purple nodded in response to the gesture. "So good to see you again," the Tallest murmured, remembering his own manners. "I trust we will be able to finish the negotiations today." Normally, the Irkens would have just over-run the Wevers' home planet and negotiations would have been quite unnecessary. Unfortunately, the various Wever tribes were scattered across the galaxy and Irken resources would have been strained to try and conquer all of the planets at once. Red, who was busy sampling the various snacks, still tried to persuade Purple to try attacking anyway.

"I believe that today we shall indeed finish." Tilith's voice was faint, mere sound upon a breeze. Leaning against a knotted wooden walking staff, Tilith stepped out of the doorway. A slim form filled the vacated space, obsidian eyes glittering as a younger Wever stared at the Irkens. "My youngest, Neese," Tilith introduced. "He will be observing today." Red grumbled under his breath and motioned for the Wevers to sit, already bored with the proceedings.

Wicker creaked as Tilith eased himself into a chair. He passed his staff to Neese, who set it against the wall, then turned to Purple. Purple leaned forward, steepling his fingers. "My partner and I have had a chance to look over your demands." Two pairs of jet-black eyes glanced in Red's direction. Tilith's face betrayed none of his thoughts, but Neese let out a soft snort, obviously not believing that Red had helped with anything. Red rumbled a low growl at the sound and Tilith turned to his son and shook his head. The message was quite clear. These were not creatures to be insulted.

When he fixed his gaze back on Purple, Tilith permitted himself a small smile. "Please, forgive the impudence of the young one. He has much to learn, Tallest. Now, let us get back to the business at hand." Purple nodded, as under the table and out of sight he placed a calming hand on Red's knee.

"We find your requests most reasonable," Purple concluded. "Oddly phrased in places, yes, but still quite reasonable." He still wasn't quite sure why the Wever's requests referred to the tentative peace as "a union between the two species," but figured that it was probably a language nuance.

"Excellent!" Tilith exclaimed, his long ears perking up. Neese, on the other hand, froze, fixing his gaze on Purple. His lips pursed into a thin, tight line, like a knife had slid across his face to form his mouth. Purple slid the final draft of the treaty across the table to Tilith. Before signing, Tilith studied the Irken insignia at the top of the page, as if committing it to memory. At last, he signed the page. "Please," Tilith continued, "to celebrate this new union, won't you stay and sample the hospitality of my home?"

Purple started to decline, but Red broke in. "We'd love to!" Only then did he swallow his mouthful of trillops, before picking up another of the wiggly shellfish. Purple shuddered, not knowing how Red could eat something that was still alive. Neese also seemed a bit pale as he watched Red feast. Obviously he didn't care for trillops either.

"Excellent, excellent," Tilith continued to murmur as he rose. "Then we are done here. My home is your's, mighty Tallest." He held out his hand and Neese promptly laid the staff in Tilith's waiting palm. Neese cast withering glances back at Purple as he followed his father out of the room.

The moment the door shut behind the Wevers, Red pushed aside the bowl of trillops. "Well, that wasn't so bad. I figured you two would spend all day arguing like yesterday." Purple said nothing as he began reading again over the treaty. Even though it was now too late to change anything, he wanted to be certain he understood all the terms. "And," Red chirruped, "We're going to get quite a feast tonight! I just know it!"

"Don't you ever think of anything but your stomach?" Purple asked, not looking up from the document.

Red hooked his fingers around Purple's waist, drawing his partner towards him. "But of course, Ptor. There are always other things." With his other hand, Red tugged lightly on Purple's antennae, trying to draw Purple's attention away from the treaty.

Purple laughed and stood, sliding out of Red's grip. "Not here, Tallest," he said, using the title as a mild form of mocking. "When we get back to the Massive, then we can do those other things." Purple brushed his fingers against Red's cheek lightly, enjoying the sound of Red's purring.

As he stroked Red, Purple's gaze strayed to the windows. Purple had to admit that even though he didn't care for the Wevers, they had a knack for architecture. Their buildings were light and airy, a sharp contrast to the pure functionality of Irken architecture. Instead of eradicating the natural landscape, the Wevers worked with the land to create beautiful cities. Giving his partner one last pat, Purple floated to the doorway. Red's eyes flew open, surprised that Purple had stopped. "Where are you going?" he demanded like a petulant child.

"I'm going to go contact the Massive," Purple responded, lips quirking into a smile. "We don't want them strafing the planet now that there's peace. And then I'm going to find someplace quiet to get some work done." He didn't mention that he was going to hide out in Tilith's gardens. He rarely had the chance to get some time alone, and he was going to take advantage of it while he could.

Leaving Red alone, Purple found a comm panel and made contact with the Massive. Once everything was settled, and a stack of paperwork was printed out, he slid outside. "Beautiful," he murmured to himself, admiring the lavish growth. He paused by a vine in bloom with large scarlet flowers, breathing in the perfumed scent. Purple made a note to bring Red by later. Spotting a sheltered alcove, Purple settled down and got to work, detaching his backpod so that he could feel the warm sun on his back.

The golden silence that Purple was basking in was punctured by voices. "Father, you can't seriously be considering this! We don't even know if those monsters can be trusted!" The speaker, even in anger, had a soft voice that stroked the ear like velvet - not too deep, not too high; a voice that would have been pleasant if the speaker hadn't been speaking harshly. Curious, Purple crept forward, peering out from between the vines. Neese and Tilith had entered the garden. The younger Wever paced back and forth with the restlessness of a caged animal, while Tilith rested on a rock.

"Peace, Neese." Purple had to strain his hearing to catch Tilith's words. "I have spoken with the Tallest about his culture, and though they are a warrior race, they are honorable. They will abide by the union."

"But... But," Neese sputtered. "How can you know, Father? The Tall Ones could be lying just to get what they want! Or they may reject the union! Then it will all be for naught!"

Tilith's head cocked to the side as he listened to Neese's tirade. As usual, the elder Wever remained completely nonplussed. "Sometimes one must rely on instinct, Neese, and my instinct tells me that Tallest Purple will honor the treaty. If I were dealing with his brutish partner, I would be more wary. And the union will not be rejected. The Tall One told me that among his kind, such distinctions as male and female are irrelevant. Now, let us go back inside. This light is hurting my eyes."

And then the two Wevers were gone, leaving Purple to puzzle over their dialogue. He'd originally assumed that when the Wevers spoke of a "union" they were speaking of peace between their kind and the Irkens. Now, though, he was starting to think that "union" meant something else entirely, though he had no clue what. Frowning, Purple pulled out a copy of the treaty and began puzzling over its words yet again, determined to figure out what this "union" was.

Dusk spilled over the gardens, and still Purple was no closer to finding the answer he sought. Bells rang out their silvery song and Purple at last put away the treaty. The time had come to head inside. Purple figured that if he missed supper, he would offend Tilith. And besides, for all his jokes about Red's constant eating, Purple found himself hungry. Before heading inside, Purple paused by the vine with the scarlet flowers. He slid a hand among the blooms, wispy tendrils of vine curling about his fingers. 'Beautiful,' he thought. He would have to get some cuttings and see if such vines would thrive in the Massive's hydroponics bay. For the moment, though, Purple satisfied himself with plucking one of the flowers. He figured that Red would like it, at least for the color if nothing else.

When Purple arrived at Tilith's dining hall, he found Red waiting for him. "Where have you been, Pur?" the scarlet-clad Tallest began, not even bothering with a greeting. "Their up to something! I've tried asking some of the servants, but all they say is that their preparing for a ceremony. What kind of ceremony is it?"

Purple shrugged. In the bit of research he did on Weavers, Purple couldn't remember reading about any ceremonies that would coincide with the negotiations, though Wevers had many strange ceremonies. "Maybe they're just preparing for the peace," he guessed. "Or they could be celebrating the date that one of their kind was born on. It's a strange custom, but I remember reading that they do that." With his educated guess finished, Purple held the flower out to his partner.

Red laughed as he scooped up the bright bloom. "Pur, you sentimental fool! What am I going to do with this?" As he saw Purple's antennae slump, Red smiled and slid the flower's stem under one of his armor's shoulder latches. "Well, how do I look?"

"Beautiful," Purple murmured, not entirely referring to the addition of the flower. Red merely laughed again, and, clapping his partner on the shoulder, entered the dining hall. With no other options, Purple followed.

Bright buntings hung from the ceiling, ivy-like vines curling along the ropes that held the buntings. Chains of flowers encircled the dishes. Purple licked his lips as he stared at the food, the sight of the meal stirring his hunger. "They've been setting this up all day," Red whispered. Purple stifled a chuckle at his partner's worries. No doubt the Wevers were just trying to impress the two Tallests. The Irkens took their seats on Tilith's right; Purple smiling and relaxed, Red watching for the trap he knew must be hidden amongst all the pretty flowers.

Course followed delicious course - a citrus-flavored soup, fresh salad, dark bread, some sort of fish seasoned with spicy herbs, and a creamy fruit dessert. Purple devoured everything that was placed in front of him while Tilith looked on with a smile. When at last the meal was done, Tilith rose, banging the butt of his staff on the floor to get the hall's attention. "My people," the Wever elder began. "Today is a great day, a day of peace! On this day, the Va-Surese have made new allies for all of Wever-kind, and now we shall cement this union!"

Purple froze, antennae leaping up. There was that word again. Tilith made a sweeping gesture, and the Wever to his left, his eldest son, pulled a metal rod out from under the table and placed it in front of Purple. "Examine it," Tilith ordered, his gentle smile contradicted by the icy tone of command in his voice. "Is it the symbol of your kind?" Purple picked up the rod, finding it not at all heavy. He studied the end where the slim rod expanded. Wrought in the dark metal was the familiar triangle broken by a circle that was the Irken insignia. When Purple nodded, Tilith took the rod and laid the end with the insignia in one of the braziers that kept the chill of night from filling the dining hall. "Please stand, Tallest Purple. We must complete the ceremony if you wish for union."

Purple turned a helpless gaze to Red, wishing he understood what was happening. But all he found in Red's eyes was the same confusion that he was feeling. All eyes were on the Irkens, but no one volunteered any answers. Slowly Purple rose, towering over Tilith. The elder pointed with his staff to a garland-festooned altar where a Wever priest in dark robes waited. Some of the tension left Purple as he decided that the Wevers were asking their god to bless the peace - a primitive superstition, but one that he could play along with. Purple hovered to the altar, feeling certain that he could handle this.

The moment Purple came to a stop, as if on cue, a door behind the altar swung open and a new figure was escorted into the dining hall. Definitely a Wever, Purple decided, though he could make out little else. This new Wever wore robes of scarlet, a veil obscured the face so that all that showed was a forehead and a cascade of silver hair woven with flowers. Two guards marched on each side of the Wever, as if making sure it wouldn't run away.

"In the name of Zadray, kneel," the priest commanded, his booming voice echoing through the hall. Both Purple and the veiled Wever knelt. Zadray, Purple remembered, was the Wever's god. The priest, like priests all over the universe, began a sermon, describing the wonders of peace and love to the assembled. Purple tuned it out after the first few minutes. By the time the sermon was over, Purple hoped he would be allowed to stand soon because his legs were beginning to cramp.

Suddenly the priest came out from behind the altar, a wooden bowl in his hands. He stopped first in front of Purple and dipped a finger into the bowl. Yellow goo clung to that slim finger. With practiced ease, the priest made a mark on Purple's forehead, then did the same with the mysterious Wever. "I now pronounce two are one in union," the priest declared. Purple's squeedily spooch turned to ice as he began to realize what was happening. The kneeling Wever's escort pulled down the back of the scarlet robes. "Stand, Tallest Purple, and mark what is now your property," the priest murmured.

Tilith appeared at Purple's side, holding the branding iron with the Irken insignia. Now Purple understood what the elder meant when he'd said during the negotiations that the two species would be one in union. Gingerly Purple took the rod, wishing fervently that he could get out of this marriage. But if he stopped now, then the peace was over and he'd probably be ripped to shreds by the Wevers, though he was sure they'd be quite polite about it. With no other choice, Purple pressed the brand into the back of the kneeling Wever.

Whoever was beneath that veil had a will of titanium, for the Wever didn't squirm or scream. All Purple heard was a sharp intake of breath. When the hot iron was pulled away, the Irken insignia stood out painfully against the blue skin. The escort lifted the Wever up, and Purple reached out to remove the veil. Neese glared at Purple with a fierce hatred, tears streaming from his dark eyes and staining the collar of his scarlet robes.