If Only Tears Could Bring You Back

A tiny android lay sprawled across the couch, gently pressing his face to his master's chest and weeping silent tears. Normally, when this little robot cried, there was blood-curdling screeching involved that would put any siren to total shame. But not this time; these were tears of genuine sorrow, which seemed incredibly out of character for a creature of such low intelligence and who seemed to maintain affinities for nothing but edible things. And yet, here was GIR, sobbing over Zim.

Zim, who was always full of energy and ambition, was no longer the bright-eyed invader he used to be. In fact, he was hardly clinging to life at all at this point. Something, somewhere, had gone horribly awry…and Zim was left sick. Sick, in fact, was an understatement – the young alien was dying at a rapid pace and his robot servant, as much as it wanted to help, was too stupid to know what exactly to do to save its master.

There is an explanation for Zim's sudden deterioration, and it has to do with Irken genetics. For you see, each Irken is born with a latent illness that a vaccine can prevent from becoming active…unfortunately for Zim, he had left to take over the earth before he could get vaccinated. And this disease was not something to be toyed with; if untreated, it would quickly shut down and destroy the body's major systems and inevitably kill the victim. And once it manifested, there was nothing that could be done. For quite a while, Zim felt fine…or at least normal. But his sickness began to show a couple of years after he'd landed here, and it made him so gravely ill that he couldn't even manage to get to school. He could not comprehend his computer's diagnosis because the illness was already attacking his brain. It was a brief forty-eight hours later that Zim was collapsed in the middle of his living room, too weak to move.

Being the obsessive creature that he is, Dib took notice immediately that Zim was not in class, and snuck to Zim's base to snoop around. He was surprised, yet suspicious, that the base's defenses did not threaten him, and the front door was open. He was confused and actually worried when he saw his enemy on the floor with the idiot robot crying over him. Zim was in horrible condition; he could not move, and he could hardly breathe or speak. And for the very first time, he had a look in his eyes that Dib had never seen…he looked completely defeated. The dying alien knew he was done for, and he'd given up trying to even contend his fate. That determined glow he always had in his eyes was gone, like a candle flame that had been blown out.

Dib could have made the situation work to his advantage…he could have called the authorities and had Zim turned over to the FBI and claimed his glory while proving the existence of alien life. And he was indeed tempted, especially since his enemy was completely helpless…but even Dib could not stoop so low as to attack when Zim was so vulnerable. Instead, he gently lifted Zim onto the couch and took a closer look at him…the alien's breathing was incredibly shallow, his antennae were fallen over his head like wilted flowers, and his skin was terribly whitish, as if he'd been drained of his blood. Dib snuck into the lower part of the base to try and get information out of the computer; he was quite determined to help his enemy, which was quite unlike Dib.

And then he discovered…Zim was facing an unstoppable death. Dib was completely powerless; he could certainly not take his adversary to a human facility for treatment because it would be obvious he was not human. For the first time, Dib wanted Zim to live…he wasn't entirely sure why since he'd been trying to get Zim killed and autopsied for so long, but he just felt like he had to do something. Regardless of his intent, Zim had given Dib's life greater meaning, and Dib cherished that relationship, crazy as it was.

So, that was it – Dib could do nothing but stand by and watch as his opponent faded away. He knew he was helpless, but he refused to leave Zim's side…not when he needed someone to be there. Dib missed class, but no one really noticed his absence; he continuously got up to see if Zim was still breathing, and would gently (albeit reluctantly) place a hand on the alien's chest to see if there were still signs of breathing or warmth…or life at all. The entire time, GIR sat curled up with tears in his large blue eyes and never said a word beyond some broken sobs.

On the fourth day of Zim's illness, he was clinging to his last threads of life; GIR had crawled up and wedged itself between the back of the couch and its master's body. It got quite obvious that he hadn't very much time left, and Dib panicked, but kept it to himself so as not to make his foe uncomfortable. Yes, Dib was concerned for his enemy's comfort, strange as it sounds. And then he heard some gentle, hoarse mumbles coming from Zim…the first sounds he'd made in days. As if propelled by the speed of light itself, Dib knelt beside Zim and held on to a sliver of hope that maybe he was improving.

"Zim? Are you awake?", he asked nervously.

The alien said nothing at first, but managed to open his burgundy eyes slightly and looked right at Dib with a rather nondescript expression.

"Thank you…for everything", Zim whispered. He managed to give a very weak smile. "Please…take care of GIR…"

Dib nodded while a single tear ran down his face, clouding his glasses; he did his best to hold back his emotions because he did not want to have to admit to himself or to anyone that he was actually mourning the eventual loss of his foe Was he upset because he himself did not get the chance to be responsible for Zim's demise, or was he upset because when Zim is gone, he would have nothing to really strive for in terms of paranormal missions? Zim closed his eyes and took a couple more short breaths before he simply stopped moving altogether. In just that brief moment, the invader's body had finally lost its battle with his terminal illness, and Zim quietly died in the company of his greatest enemy and his dim-witted robot servant…the only ones in his life who cared at all about him.

How will I start
Tomorrow without you here
Who's heart will guide me
When all the answers disappear

Is it too late
Are you too far gone to stay
This one's forever
Should never have to go away

What will I do
You know I'm only half without you
How will I make it through

If only tears could bring you back to me
If only love could find a way
What I would do, what I would give
If you returned to me someday
Somehow, someway
If my tears could bring you back to me

I'd cry you an ocean
If you'd sail on home again
Waves of emotion
Will carry you, I know they can

Just love will guide you
And your heart will chart the course
Soon you'll be drifting
Into the arms of your true north

Look in my eyes
And you will see a million tears have gone by
And still they're not dry


I hold you close
And shout the words I only whispered before
For one more chance, for one last dance
There's not a thing I would not endure


The End
Song credits: "If Only Tears Could Bring You Back" by the Midnight Sons.
Original story published: 2-22-02
Updated story published: 7-07-09