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Those contacts were his least favorite thing about the alien.

The sharpness, the shininess, the unnatural periwinkle color... that word in itself annoyed him. What kind of moron says 'periwinkle'?

Oh, they were so fake, so ugly to him. Ironic, actually, because to the rest of the Earth's population, they were gorgeous-his most redeeming feature. People would say, "oh, that Zim kid. Ugly green skin, but pretty eyes, don't you think?"

But to Dib, they were the worst part.

They were just too perfect. Like a china doll silently tracking your movements across the room. Unnatural. He had no right to imitate humanity-the human epitome of beauty, for crying out loud! It was wrong, and they were so fake. Every morning he saw them, and he never failed to scowl at the sight. When they fought, Dib's first offensive move was always to rip them out, regardless of the tender eyes behind.

As they stood face to face, this time, the boy breathed a silent sigh of relief that his adversary had forgone the offending contacts. His natural features were so much better—dare he say it?

Beautiful.

It was an odd thing to think, but it was true. He didn't have to like the extraterrestrial, it was just his eyes.

Like jewels, almost. Dazzling, but a reminder of everything Dib hated. The way that vegetarians love the smell of bacon, or a comedian keeps a shelf of Shakespeare's tragedies in the furthest reaches of his locked closet, he'd never admit how much those eyes entranced him.

It was beautiful, but the opposite of everything he held dear.

And the incongruity said everything about Zim. He was, like his stunning orbs, a walking contradiction.

A paradox.

-0-

Those eyes were so strange. Like the eyes of all earthenoids, they were polychromatic, ringed like a target. And sometimes the Irken felt an insane urge to sink his claws into those perfect, inferior eyes and pull them out—rip them from their sockets like they so mockingly urged him to. But he held back.

The colors… they stirred strange thoughts in his mind. If there was one thing Irk and Earth had in common, it was an interest in good-looks. And both planets a constant was held: brown eyes are not attractive.

Of course, on his world they were rare, but rarity was not a desired trait in a society like Irk's. You don't want to stand out among Irkens, excepting height. And even that could be a dangerous advantage, sometimes-ask Sizlorr, who found himself exiled to Foodcourtia when the Tallests grew nervous or jealous, one. No, rarity was nothing to flaunt among his people. And here… here they count common things as ugly.

Coffee-colored irises are indeed commonplace.

But they were captivating none-the-less, and it wasn't about the color. It was about the set, the glitter of determination that shone through.

The eyes of a soldier.

If there was anything Zim admired, it was the military spirit, the determination of a warrior. Among these people, it was believed that the eyes are the window to the soul. And through those taupe portals, any fool could see that Dib's soul was strong as adamantium, forged in Vortian plasma furnaces and sharp as a bug-fighter bayonet. He stood against trial after trial, fought in the sun or rain or night or day, and offered his life for his cause on more than one occasion. What more admirable soldier ever served? Sometimes Zim wished that his enemy had been born an Irken, instead of an inferior human, because then they could serve together-there weren't many beings that Zim would trust at his back, but if the Dib...

...But of course, that was blasphemy.

So despite his dislike of all the things Dib stood for, despite his dislike of impediment, he couldn't help but feel a fondness for the eyes now level with his own.

They defied him, and for some reason, he admired that.

-0-

They stood eye to eye in silence for a long moment. One held a rifle, the other a pistol.

Human vs Irken, enemy to enemy.

One was green, a little shorter, and his inhuman face was contorted with stubborness. The other was a pale tan, a little taller, and his jaw was set in sheer determination. Zim looks at Dib and sees a soldier. He opens his mouth to bite out an insult, and falls mute as his eyes catch on coffee-colored irises.

Dib looks at Zim and sees a familiar stranger. He lifts his gun to shoot, and his fingers stop short as he catches sight of brilliant pink orbs.

They both know how strange the universe can be. You can serve with your whole heart and soul and be exiled. You can turn to your own people for compassion and recieve nothing. If you devote yourself to a cause, soon you will have nothing else in your life. If you stare into a stranger's eyes for too long, you may begin to see yourself in them. And if you are enemies for long enough, you are friends.

Two soldiers on the battle field, singing sad love songs. Who knows how far it goes? Who knows where it ends? Maybe the chambers have no bullets, and maybe wishes can come true.

Perhaps they were nothing alike-after all, they belonged to different species, different races, different worlds. They were different, from the shade of their eyes down to the organs pumping blood-type substances through their veins.

But see, they hold their shoulders at the same angle. See how their eyes are lit with the same fire, and their bones are forged with the same steel? See how their fingers, each twitching on the triggers, move in unconcious time, see the twin flares of determination in their eyes?

Pink and brown, it makes no difference. In the darkest, truest depths of themselves, they both know:

There is no Zim without Dib, nor Dib without Zim.