Alright everyone! For those of you familiar with me you will recognize this as the rewrite of one of my stories (cowritten with a friend of mine), Tying the Grudge Knot. That story was written years ago, and though one of my favorites, needed some fine tuning. I am rewriting this story on my own, so any changes made are entirely on me and I hope I don't change too many of the things that you all really liked. I'm trying to keep most of the dialogue the way it was because that was one of my favorite things about the story in the first place, but I needed to go through and fill in some plot holes, remove things that were bothering me (like real world brands that had Vasquez-universe counterparts) and make the characters, especially Zim, closer to their original character (was anyone else BOTHERED by how girly I made him!) My friend did an amazing job with Dib though, I thought, so he will remain largely world will be expanded upon a lot more as well, filling up space where needed and painting a much more detailed picture for you, the readers.

Under My Skin may follow in the line of rewriting, and MAYBE Sri, but GAWD that story is so long and detailed already! The only thing I'd be changing in that one would be, again, how out of character Zim became. If you think it needs it let me know, and if enough people want to see me rewrite it then I will, but if no one is really that interested then I see no reason to do so.

They struggled and thrashed against each other, claws digging into human flesh while knuckles met with alien cheeks. Mechanical limbs sprouted from the Irken's pak and stabbed at the human, but he was quick to dodge.

"You're getting slow, Zim." Dib teased, panting slightly before wiping the blood off that was dripping down his cheek. "And it's about to rain, how much longer do you think you can last?"

Zim pulled himself up from the dirty concrete, one hand braced on the brick wall of the building next to him, the other holding his stomach tenderly. Blue blood soaked through the front of his shirt from a stab wound he'd acquired earlier in his fight against the human. He was quick to dispose of that knife, and was pretty sure it ended up in the dumpster closer to the front of the alley.

"You can't beat me, human!" Zim yelled, eyes narrowing. "You never have and you never will!"

Dib pulled out a small but clunky looking gun from the inside pocket of his coat, aiming it at Zim. "I wouldn't use the word 'never', space-boy. It always comes too soon." The gun gave three beeps and Dib pulled the trigger.

Zim gasped and dodged the small blast that erupted from the device in Dib's hand, tripping over his own mechanical spider leg, hearing the ping of something in it breaking.

He was panting and could hear his own heart beat in his head. This wasn't good; he was already so worn out!

The alien picked himself up, antennae quivering under his wig at the sound of thunder and the little pitter patter of rain on the ground.

Dib grinned cheekily at Zim, the stun-gun in his hand recharging. He pulled in closer to the Irken. "It hurts, doesn't it, Zim? The rain? Eating at your flesh like acid splashed in your eyes..." He continued walking closer to Zim, confident in his victory this time, and raising the gun to point at him. "One shot from this and you'll be immobile for at least thirty minutes. My own invention."

The comment Zim wanted to make caught in his throat as he tried not to let out a pained noise when the rain picked up, the drizzle becoming a downpour. He had to find shelter, quick!

He quickly tried to run when he heard the little three beeps from the gun once more, barely having time to register what that meant before he was hit dead on with a stunning blast.

Dib grinned and, not bothering to waste time gloating to the all but unconscious alien, picked him up and started heading toward his car.

Zim groaned, it was the only thing he could do at the moment. Well, he could think. Could think about how it was he lost.

Ever since Dib had become a famous paranormal investigator he'd been getting better and better and Zim couldn't seem to walk away from any fight between them anymore without gushing blood from somewhere! It was all that funding he was getting, Zim was sure. He was famous, so various TV channels and restaurants were lining up to give him money to fund his monster hunting inventions.

The car ride wasn't very long, as Dib hadn't moved very far from Zim when he left his father's house. In fact he'd moved closer, hoping to keep an eye on the alien.

Once there Dib hulled Zim up out of the car and into his home, right up to his room. Scattered about were various pieces of technology, both irken and human.

The human tossed the alien onto the bed, uncaring of how he landed.

Zim squeezed his eyes shut before he wrenched them open once more when Dib grabbed a device from the table near-by and rolled him over onto stomach. Dib sat himself down on the small of Zim's back, humming slightly as he pulled open the three panels on the alien pak.

"Nnn…stop," Zim was able to groan out, trying desperately to move his body.

"Not unless you make a deal with me." Dib said as he began picking at the inside of Zim's PAK, knowing exactly what to do from the hours he spent studying the blueprints.

"What… are you doing?" Zim gasped, hearing a few snaps, followed by the sound of his mechanical legs being thrown to the floor.

"Here's the deal." -Snap!- "I won't deactivate your PAK- if, and ONLY if you do me this favor. You have to agree to it first, though." He snapped off any other weapons that were inside the pak, feeling proud of himself now.

Zim was shaking. His pride was telling him to tell Dib where to put his deal, his rational mind telling him to just let Dib kill him, after all what Dib had planned couldn't be good for him or the empire, while his fear was telling him he didn't want to die, that at least while he was alive there was still a chance of conquering Earth. Finally his fear won out and he said, "Alright, alright, I'll-I'll do you this 'favor'."

"Wonderful!" Dib sung merrily, pulling over a small device from the table and now installing it into the PAK. "You see, I know we don't like each other, but I have this problem that I know you, with your infinite alien wisdom and your mastery of disguises…" the sarcasm was not lost on Zim. "Can help me with. I need you to pretend you're a chick so we can get married."

Zim could feel his antennae twitching in aggravation. Just what had he agreed to!

"We can work out what happens after that after we make a convincing couple." Dib continued. "In exchange- I won't try to expose you, and you'll get to keep your life." He patted the pak victoriously once the device was installed. "If you try to back out of this at anytime, or try to even access your pak without the right code, this bomb I placed in there will kill you."

Zim's fingers twitched as feeling began to return to him and he struggled to push himself up. "Marriage? Why would you want to enter into a life time of commitment with Zim? There are plenty of women, I'm sure," He rolled his eyes. "That would cut off fingers and toes to be your life partner. At least for monies."

"Are you backing out? Should I kill you now, then?" Dib asked, pulling off of the alien to let the other sit up, knowing the irken could do nothing now with his pak inaccessible. He scowled slightly as he thought about all of the women who DID want to marry him for the money.

Zim genuinely seemed to be considering it, his false eyes looking almost real as he stared at the floor in thought. Was being so close to the human, pretending to feel petty human emotions for the human, and putting up with the human, really worth his life?

Yes, he decided finally. Yes it was, if only for the mission, so as to not let his Tallests down!

He shook his head in response to Dib question, pouting angrily.

"Good!" Dib said mockingly. "Now let's tend to your wounds quickly before the mall closes. We'll need to take you shopping to make sure you at least look the part."

Zim scowled, not trusting himself to say anything to that. On Irk males and females basically wore the same thing, but here on Earth the gender roles were so different that everything about them had to be different! The clothes they wore, the food they ate, and the COLORS they painted their room! If any human male other than Dib had seen inside his base with all the pink and purple they might have assumed Zim was female, just by the stereotypes they put themselves in!

Dib began treating Zim's wounds with a grin, helping the alien with his shirt off to get at the cuts and bruises with a disinfectant spray. He dabbed the more bloody ones with a cloth, being careful not to touch them so as not to get blood on himself or freak Zim out about germs or some stupid thing like that.

Zim hissed and flinched at his wounds were cleaned. Dib didn't seem to be going out of his way to be too gentle, not that Zim cared, it just hurt!

Finally the alien found his voice as he glared at Dib. "Why do you need to pretend to marry someone anyway? This is stupid." He asked.

Dib let out a lazy sigh, obviously distressed about the question.

"Despite how hard I try, and how famous I become for what I am, Dad won't accept me until I'm studying REAL SCIENCE and settle down with a nice girl." He said bitterly, wiping up some blood off of Zim's chest.

"Oh I see now." Zim said in a condescending tone, unable to help himself. "Poor littler Dibbers, neglected as a smeet he longs for the attention he never got. Now as an adult he has the ability to please his father by taking on his legacy and establishing a family to provide for like a REAL man."

Dib glared ferociously at the Irken, grabbing the alien's arm and sticking his nail in one of the scratches there to show HIM who's a real man.

Zim let out a surprised scream, squirming away from the feeling of pain and the human's filthy hands before glaring angrily at both the once more bleeding scratch and the human.

Dib wiped the blood from his finger, glaring at the cloth he used, unable to look the alien in the eye after what had been said.

Zim could only scowl more. He was right, he KNEW he was right.

Dib glanced up at the irken, eyes catching on the glare before asking, "What the FUCK is your problem!" And throwing the cloth he'd been using to the side. He then grabbed another one and angrily put this oily substance on it, going back over the alien's wounds with it.

"What's my PROBLEM!" Zim yelled, looking genuinely shocked and outraged. "You knocked me out, you put a bomb in my PAK, and now I have to play your stupid lover just so you can impress your male genetic donor!"

Dib's facial expression didn't change except for maybe a roll of the eyes.

"So?" He asked. "We've been doing shit like this to each other for years. Besides, I think I set up a pretty good deal. You play pretend and I don't expose you as the alien scum you are." He then threw that cloth to the side, admiring his job of cleaning and sealing Zim's wounds. "And I'm not trying to impress my Dad. This is just something that's expected of me to do, as his son, you know?"

Zim gave Dib an unimpressed look. No, he really didn't know. "The only people us Irkens have to impress is our Tallest. No one cares about what anyone else thinks. Our leader's opinion is the only one that matters."

"Whatever," Dib said, rolling his eyes once more. He picked up the Irken's shirt and looked at it with disgust. "Well, you can't wear this out to go shopping. I'll see if I have anything that might fit you."

Zim himself looked disgusted. "I'm NOT wearing your filthy human clothes!" He shouted.

"You haven't got much of a choice, now have you?" Dib smirked, rummaging through his closet a little before throwing a thin sweater at the alien. "Here, put this on quick. And don't worry about the germs; I haven't worn that thing in years."

Zim scowled once again, looking at the plain blue sweater as though it would eat him. But, at the risk of being blown up for not wearing what he was told he pulled the sweater on over his head, pouting fiercely. Next he put his gloves on, not even wanting to consider leaving the house without then.

"Perfect," Dib said, looking to be very much enjoying this. He then turned his head up slightly, addressing the computer in his house, "Computer, hide all medical, offensive and defensives technologies."

The computer gave a groan before saying, "Fine," and the tray that Dib had been working from disappeared into the wall, along with the work table on the other side of the room.

"Now then," He said, grinning at Zim. "Let's get going before the mall closes."

"I hate you," Zim said as he followed Dib down the stairs, adjusting his wig.

"You say that like I should care." Dib said, turning back to Zim when he was on the bottom step. "Now, what kind of clothes would you like me to get you, hunny?"

Zim scowled. "I wouldn't."

"Right, let me rephrase." Dib said, raising an eyebrow. "What kind of clothes am I going to get you while I'm still giving you a choice in the matter?"

Zim growled before saying, "I don't care, I just don't want to stray too far from what I usually wear."

Dib rolled his eyes. "We'll see if we can manage that." With that the human turned to head back outside.

Zim crossed his arms over his chest in a defensive fashion. Despite their deal he couldn't shake the feeling like Dib WAS exposing him and his organs for the world to see. Like, being a slave to the human was almost as bad as being cut open and revealed.

"By the way," Dib said, once they were outside, which was only now slightly damp from the short rain they had, and he turned to lock the door. "I wouldn't even think about escaping if I was you, because you see, if you DO run and I decide not to kill you, the device in your pak can also be used to stun you."

Zim's eyes widened a fraction. Dib had thought of everything! That thought kept him rooted to his spot in the entranceway, even as Dib kept walking.

"You know," the human said, "This could be a learning experience for the both of us."

"Oh? And how's that?" Zim asked, glaring at Dib.

Dib stopped and turned back to the irken. "This could, and I know how this sounds, help us to understand each other better, you know? And maybe we'll be able to make peace."

"Right, because being a slave makes a person REAL receptive to another person's feelings." Zim spat.

Dib rolled his eyes, responding with the same harsh tone. "Like your race cares when they enslave another race."

Zim glared, unable to think of anything to say to that. Dib was right, of course, but Zim didn't care about those other races, he only cared about himself and his current problems.

"Just get in the car, Zim." Dib said, waving over at the passenger's side door as he walked over to the driver's side.

Zim took a step toward the car, but made no other move than that, saying, "Go rot on Blorch!"

"If I do, will you please kindly JOIN me?"

"Not KINDLY..." Zim said, calming down once he realized he really had nothing to add to that.

Dib gave him a dull expression, leaning on the door of the car slightly. "Then please get in?"

Zim stomped his foot on the ground, deciding to act like a smeet. "Your head is full of smell!"

"I have so many things I want to say to that- but can't find a way to say 'm all at once." Dib let a half smile grace his face, looking in front of him. "I want to hurt you- but not right after I cleaned you up, so won't you PLEASE get in so I don't have to shock you?"

Zim tensed but got into the car, crossing his arms once more and pouting like an angry child.

Dib also got in the car, starting it up and driving off down the road toward the mall.

Review please! Constructive criticism appreciated, love is loved!

Dib was originally played by my friend Kriss.

Zim played by me.