Legal jargon:

Invader Zim and all related characters and titles are the creative property of Viacom/Nickelodeon and/or Jhonen Vasquez. All use of these characters, settings, and titles are intended for non-profit fan-work and not intended to infringe upon the rights of said owners/creators

Author's note:

This fan fiction is ZADR-oriented. If you are in the Invader Zim fandom, you likely understand that ZADR stands for Zim and Dib romance. I respect all fan-pairings in the show, whether I support them or not. I would hope you, the reader, would have that same respect and either enjoy the story or, if you find ZADR offensive, then to not read or comment negatively.

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Consumed: Always

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Prologue:

A pale hand touched lightly to the bulbous semi-circular head-set over his ears. Listening through the tearing static, voices could be heard and so he pressed harder, squeezing the phones tight against his head, blocking out all extraneous noise. He was certain he heard a comment about serving curly-fries, but what jumped out at him, what really caught his attention, was the unmistakable reference to taking over the universe.

Dib's pulse quickened. The realization that his tireless research, his un-ending monitoring, had come to fruition was both exciting and terrifying to the 11 year old boy. After all these years, aliens!

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Shooting through the cold depths of space with no more than a singing robot for company, a green-skinned invader sojourned through the black to his destination and glory. He passed as much time as he could going through his databases for information on the unknown planet to which he had been assigned, but as it was a secret planet and a secret mission, no information was available at all. So he sat in his Voot-Cruiser listening to what certainly must have been the last few stanzas of an already 6 month-long song consisting of only one word repeated tirelessly from the mouth of the alien's information-retrieval unit. The tiny robot floated weightlessly in the cockpit of the space-vessel.

"Doomy doom doom! Doomy doom doom! Doomy doomy doom doom…"

Six months of deafening silence would have been preferable. The invader was certain part of his brain had melted away and he just knew he would never be able to perceive the sound "Doom" as a recognizable word any more.

At the breaking point when he was just about to throttle his side-kick, notification came from his computer. The planet was in sight.

"…Planet Earth. This must be the place." Zim's elation was masked by a hard, professional attitude. Quieting his spastic robot, GIR, he set about phase one on every invader's planet-conquering-check-list. He had never conquered a planet before but he did not see his lack of experience as a handicap in any way. In fact, he considered himself to be quite powerful and adept. Spouting off the step-by-step as he had learned it in the academy, he tried to enlighten his less-than on-the-ball companion in "invading 101."

"You have to observe what these… 'Earthenoids' consider to be normal. Then, based on your observations, we make our disguises and our home."

He rubbed his gloved hands menacingly. Oh yes. Planet Earth was doomed.

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Chapter 1:

Dib sat on the edge of his bed. He was making notes in a very worn-looking notebook, gently touching the sides of a small pair of headphones. He paused in his writing to look up and away, focusing on the sounds. He pressed the ear-bud harder.

No light was turned on in his room but the evening sun warmed even the dim corners. A divided rectangular swatch of brilliant light slowly crept across the floor, lengthening Dib's already tall shadow. He was no longer a child. Eleven years had passed. He was lanky and tall but slightly muscular. His black hair looked purposefully unkempt, having gotten much thicker than he wore it as a boy. He kept the sides and back cropped very short, the top, though thick and shaggy, still maintained the scythe-like sprig of hair that never would lay down. It was like a cow-lick - super-sized! He didn't mind it, though. It's part of what made him, him. And even if nobody else in the world liked him, he still liked himself, and that's what counted.

He idly plucked a white piece of lint from his black pants and flicked it away from himself. He twiddled his fingers until it floated away. Dib went back to decoding.

His life, to this point, had been centered around exposing Zim, the alien who had come to invade all those years before. Anyone on the outside looking in - Dib's sister, Gaz, for instance - would have been able to see that the alien had never even come close to conquering earth and likely never would.

But Dib's life had been paranormal investigating and what's more paranormal to investigate than a legitimate extra terrestrial residing on earth with plans on readying the planet for global conquest by an expansive armada of fellow aliens?! If the prospect wasn't so macabre, Dib would have acknowledged to himself that he was in hog-heaven.

And so since the green-skinned Irken planted himself on Earth 11 years ago, Dib's sole reason for existing had been Zim.

He scrawled some symbols in an alien language on the paper. He wrote small, clutching the pencil near the tip, applying a lot of pressure. Dib was an intense person and he carried that intensity into everything he did. He took everything seriously. As he continued to write, the pencil lead dulling much too quickly, the words really seemed to come clear to him. His focus was so complete and his understanding of the language so much better now, he felt as if he were reading English. Zim's voice came through crackled and broken over the poor communication system. Dib was using an old spy-probe that had been damaged years before. It still continued to work, but just barely.

"Who are you talking to?" Dib murmured under his breath to the disembodied voice.

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Zim's lab was darkened. Red lights highlighted the tops of wires and tubes. Everything was very practical. In the underground portion of his base nothing was built for aesthetics. Everything had a purpose. Efficient. That's how Zim liked things. Since his time on Earth, he had never known complete efficiency. It grated on his high, Irken sensibilities. But he had learned to take it all in stride. When his incompetent robot, GIR, destroyed something, he would scream, all sound and fury, signifying nothing. In the end, he would sigh and let it go at that.

Like Dib, Zim was incredibly intense. He over-focused on everything he did. It wasn't for lack of focus that he failed so much. He couldn't help it, he was just incredibly disorganized and inept. However, he was much too full of himself to realize.

He brushed a tear of boredom from his bulbous, red, pupil-less eye. He pushed his fingers together into the spaces between them to make his black gloves fit more snugly. A small, horned alien was displayed on a flat monitor on a huge wall of tubes, cords, and wires.

Zim spoke in his native tongue to the other alien.

"I told you I don't need anymore of the fizzy compound! I have a lot of the fizzy compound!"

The Vortian tried to interject over the fuming Irken. "Well so do we, Zim! We have a lot of the fizzy compound too!"

"Not my problem! Not my problem! I want you to stop sending me the fizzy stuff!"

"We're not sending you more! We're sending back what you sent us! We don't want it! It's already out of our inventory! It'll mess up our audit if we have stuff in stock that we we're not supposed to have."

"Hey! You listen here! I didn't ask for 500 cases of the fizzy compound! I wanted 5 cases of the fizzy and I wanted 10 cases of the goopy stuff! The goopy blue stuff! You got the numbers wrong, you got the delivery wrong. I want to send the fizzy stuff back and I want you to send me the goopy blue stuff!"

The gray, horned Vortian held up his hands in defeat. He closed his eyes and turned his head. "You're right. We messed up the order. I'll fix it."

Zim smiled at this. Finally, he was making some progress. He had only been on this call for the last hour!

"What I need you to do," the Vortian continued, "is fill out this form I'm about to send to you. I'm gonna circle the boxes you need to check and then, if you don't mind, I need you to fill out the questionnaire on the back. Then in 4 to 5 weeks…"

Zim cut the petite bureaucrat off before he went any further with his talk of red-tape.

"Zim will not stand for this kind of customer service!! Get your manager on the vid NOW!" He seethed. The alien supplier dead-panned a moment as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing. With a bit of confidence back, now having his proverbial legs put back under him, he responded.

"Zim, you know as well as I do that you aren't technically allowed to order anything. Your ordering rights were revoked by the Tallest. So all of this ordering stuff is under-the-table anyway. You want to talk to my supervisors? You want me to get my manager? Fine, Zim. You be the one to explain why you have 500 cases of a fizzy compound you aren't technically allowed to have."

Zim stopped short, his expression never changing from one of barely-contained displeasure. Both stared hard at one another through the video link for a long time. Zim spoke up, practically peeling his lips open, speaking through clenched teeth. "Fine." His voice was low. "I'll keep the fizzy compound. Just you send me the goopy blue stuff - soon."

"But what about the questionnaire…" The Vortian was cut off as Zim clicked a button on his keyboard. He sat in his seat, his long, slender arms crossed over his chest. He slumped with an angry pout on his lips and a deeply furrowed brow.

A tiny robot ran by screaming in what one could only assume was intense elation. Zim sighed.

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