'By: Emo Fox'
Zim stood in the center of a large, circular room. Lining the walls were wide glass tubes that stretched towards the high ceiling, bubbling liquids of blue and green gurgled idly within the clear confines of the cylinders. Zim's red eyes were narrow as he surveyed his reflection in the glass, his lips pulled into a tight frown, his antennae quivering as they drew back against his skull.
Six Irken scientists were busy running here and there across the vast space, nervous under the watchful eyes of their Tallest; knowing one wrong move could get one of them—if not all of them killed.
Zim was cycling through scientists at an alarming rate; having to contact Irk and other nearby vessels for their crewman when the Massive seemed to run dry of competent drones.
The head scientist, a green-eyed Irken of decent height, approached the imposing figure of Zim with a slender glass tube clutched nervously in his lengthy claws. He swallowed the lump in his throat as he offered up the cylinder, the neon-blue gel bubbling inside casting an ethereal glow up Zim's gloved arm, "My Tallest, here is what you requested."
Zim's antennae twitched, signaling he had heard the scientist, "Is he still refusing?" He asked his tone hard despite the lofty question.
They all knew who 'he' was. Dib, Tallest Zim's mate, was reaching the end of his life span. Zim was trying to counter-act the process, forcing them to work all hours, forcing them to find a cure that wasn't available.
The recent collective of scientists had came up with a plan, the only one they could even think of to appease their Tallest; but unfortunately Dib was refusing it, and there was nothing else they could do until the human conceded.
The green-eyed drone wilted, clutching the tube closer as his bright eyes darted to the other drones around him – as if seeking support. All other Irkens in the room quickly busied themselves with other tasks, none looking directly at their superior in hopes of not incurring Zim's wrath once the head scientist answered his question.
"Well?" Zim growled, impatient, though the silence seemed to speak for itself – he knew the answer, he just wanted a different one.
"Adamantly, sir." He squeaked, his antennae perked forward submissively.
Zim clenched his jaw, talons flexing angrily before he glanced towards the drone and made a quick swipe for the tube he held so firmly between his claws. Zim fingered the blue tube, glaring hard at the three Irken characters imprinted on the front of it. Dib's DNA was pointless if the stubborn human wouldn't let him finish the process. Zim turned from his reflection, taking a few stomping steps towards the door when he hesitated, glancing behind at the group of nervous drones, "Where is he?"
"I-in his chambers, sir, he retired just a few hours ago."
It didn't take him long to get across the Massive, entering the room that they both shared Zim blinked his eyes, adjusting to the dim lighting as he crept across the space. He carefully set the glass cylinder on the table next to the bed before he sunk down on the end of the mattress, careful not to upset the other occupant currently sleeping. His claret eyes narrowed as he surveyed the lump on the bed, watching the even rise and fall that accompanied Dib's breathing before he stalked his way up the bed.
He nestled himself up along Dib's back, claws gently pulling down the covers to reveal naked alabaster skin. Zim rested his lips against the curve of the human's shoulder, closing his eyes as he inhaled the man's unique scent.
"Mmm…" Dib groaned unconsciously, shifting himself back into Zim before he settled back down again.
Zim smirked against Dib's shoulder, placing his palms flat against the human's spine; roaming his hands up along the contours of his back. Age had stolen Dib's taut flesh and replaced it with wrinkled silk; the texture so soft it was almost foreign. He ghosted his claws over Dib's jutting ribs, down the curve of his side to across his sharp hip.
It was strange the differences in human and Irken aging processes. Where as an Irken's skin grew tighter over the added years, pulling hard across bones and muscles, accenting every inner fiber and giving the Irken a more imposing strengthened look; Zim's skin now appearing as polished jade, smooth and void of any cosmetic blemishes. Antennae increased their length as the years passed, a tell-tale sign of an Irken's years; Zim's antennae were reaching the middle of his back when laid flat, but they were just as straight and narrow as ever.
Despite his added years an Irken's mind never dulled, their eyes retained their vivid clarity and their strength never wavered – in all respects an Irken was bred eternal thanks to their Pak, dying prematurely only in battle, by accident, or very rarely, old age. Their Paks kept them youthful, cycling their wasted cells and creating anew, an actual age-cycle couldn't be determined, as only the Irkens of ancient times had ever lived to the end of their natural life.
Humans withered so fast.
Their skin lost its natural texture, losing elasticity and becoming so very thin and weak. Even amidst the gentlest of touches his claws could puncture Dib's skin, and the human seemed to no longer be able to deal with even the lightest of pain. Dib's bones creaked and groaned whenever he moved, and Zim was often fearful they may break just under the human's weight. His once inky black hair was now streaked with ivory and steel, only a few strands still held the dark pigmentation that once dominated the boy's skull.
Despite Dib's weakened body, and how inevitable his death seemed to be – his eyes had never lost that brilliant sheen they always had. Those strange amber eyes that had snared Zim's very soul still shone bright, so expressive, a clear window to Dib's inner thoughts.
When he looked into those eyes Zim still saw youth, saw the defiant young man that always stood in his way; the man that eventually turned his loyalties to him, the man that Zim had so easily declared his mate.
Dib was his and his alone, forever.
It wasn't fair that forever was ending so soon.
It felt like only a blink of an eye to Zim. Sixty years felt like nothing, feeling like just yesterday he had pulled Dib into his craft and retreated into space; Earth a forgotten conquest in favor of becoming Tallest with Dib faithfully by his side.
Zim's eyes opened just enough, surveying the human's profile, noticing how his brow furrowed in distress – as if struggling with either staying asleep or waking up. He decided to make the decision for him, lifting himself up to nip gently at Dib's ear, "Dib, wake up." He purred, nuzzling along his jaw.
Dib moaned tiredly as sleep retreated from his brain, the waking world laying a heavy weight on his worn body, pulling him from the timelessness of dreams. "…what?" He murmured, his voice rough with the added years, "I was sleeping."
"You're always sleeping." Zim murmured, his tone hard to hide the underlying melancholy that laced it, "I want you awake."
Dib blinked his eyes open, the dull amber winking in the dim light as he fixed his gaze on the blurry shape of his mate, "For what?"
Zim shifted, laying himself carefully on the human's side, reaching out to trace a talon gently down the curve of his jaw. How many more days would he have to hear Dib's voice? To have those eyes turn to him? To simply hear the heavy sound of his heart, or breathe in that sweet musky scent of his? "Why do you keep refusing the Pak?" He asked, his tone unguarded as his brow furrowed, unwanted emotion surging through his body.
Dib winced, physically pained by Zim's question as he turned his eyes away, though didn't pull his face away from Zim's touch, "I can't."
The scientists had found one solution, and one solution only for Zim to keep his mate as his until the end of days. Dib needed to be fastened with a Pak so his memories could be accurately stored; his personality, his nervous tics, his everything would be downloaded into the Pak and Dib in essence would be ultimately preserved.
Having already pilfered the human's DNA, once he acquired Dib's Pak Zim could successfully clone his human, and he would be just that. A perfect replica of the original, remembering this life, and all the lives that would come after it.
Zim would make Dib immortal.
But, Dib kept rejecting the idea of a Pak.
A Pak wasn't something that could be fastened to an unwilling host. Dib's psyche would reject the flood of data, and the Pak would either take control of Dib and force him into submission(therefore losing Dib in the process), or it would simply be rejected and fail to integrate, therefore fail to preserve anything of Dib and thus be useless to Zim's cause.
Zim had very little time to persuade Dib to see his way but the human was defiant to his core; such a trait Zim had found appealing in his youth, but now it was just frustrating. "Why?" Zim all but snapped, regretting the harsh click of his tongue at the sight of Dib's dejected expression. His antennae wilted and he cupped the side of Dib's face, he leaned up to nip apologetically at his chin.
Dib seemed placated by the contact, lifting his arms to rest around the alien's shoulders as he turned his eyes to his Tallest, "I don't want to live forever."
Zim frowned, that answer wasn't good enough, "You don't want to live with me?" He murmured, trying to hide the hurt as he fixed Dib with a hard stare.
"I am living with you," Dib said easily, "I have lived with you. But, now…" He trailed, turning his face into Zim's palm, closing his eyes as he planted a kiss on the Irken's curled claw-like fingers, "But now, that time is coming to an end."
Zim's heart quivered, a fresh pain blossoming in his chest, choking his words, his brow furrowed hard an attempt at keeping composure. He didn't want Dib to be satisfied with his looming death, he wanted the human to be scared, he wanted him to be begging for a way out of it – if Dib was of such weak will Zim could have what he wanted, he could win this verbal battle.
But, Dib's will was that of iron, and Zim couldn't bend it. To bend it now would only cause a wall to be erected between them, and if these were indeed his last few days with his mate, he'd be damned if he ruined the human's memory with misguided frustration.
"I don't want it to end." Zim said, his tone wavering. He clenched his jaw tight as he set his cheek against Dib's bare chest, listening to the fluttering heart beat, savoring the rhythmic sound.
"Humans are mortal," Dib murmured, attempting to explain himself, reaching up to gently caress the curve of one of Zim's antennae; smiling to the purr it induced, "We're not meant to live forever. I want to die as a human," He said gently, peering down to Zim.
Zim nuzzled himself closer, inhaling heavy breaths, "You won't do it for me?"
"Don't ask me to do that." Dib said, his tone chastising, though he wasn't surprised by Zim's selfish question. If he were on the Irken's side, he was sure he'd be wanting the same way. But, this was his choice, and he'd rather finish this wonderful life he had than live on forever and come to resent or regret what had become then. Maybe that was selfish too.
The Irken opened his eyes, peering up at Dib with anguish so clearly shining in his sharp ruby eyes. "Please?" He croaked – Zim was no fan of begging, having never knelt before another, or ever asked for mercy or kinship from anyone, let alone begged. Against all things the Irken was steadfast and unrelenting, but he found that against the inevitable ending of his mate, even the Tallest could be brought to his knees if it meant saving what he held most dear, "Please Dib…" He said, exposing himself in the worst way before his mate in a way he had never before.
Dib's expression broke, his bright eyes sparkling with tears as he frowned, his lips quivering as he tried to hold onto his foolish resolve. He shook his head, inhaling sharp breaths, "I-I'm sorry." He managed, his throat tight as the first tears ran down his cheeks.
Zim lowered his head in defeat, clenching his eyes tight as he listened to the silent sobs of Dib and wished for the mortality Dib so desperately clung to; fearing the desolate years that stretched before him without the warmth of the human's embrace.
Fate was a cruel, cruel thing.
I enjoy sad stories, so I do hope this struck some emotion home. Thank you for reading, and I'd be most grateful if you left a review.