A/n: Another long update. I'm sorry! :( I'm going to get back into this now, and hopefully get it finished in the next few weeks, or sooner. :)


Chapter 28

Dib's P.O.V

It had been hard to get even just a few words out of Zim during that afternoon. He sat on our family couch, legs pulled right up against his chest, looking almost petite in appearance. Zim was naturally small, but he reminded me of an upset child after being scolded. The little alien hardly lifted his head.

He hadn't even bothered to remove his disguise.

The roboparents had been turned off for the time being. I drew the line when they'd started trying to use our washing detergent to make sundaes. Now, they lay side by side against the wall by the front entrance. I think Zim had had enough of them as well, considering they hadn't been the slightest bit of help to him just before. I was worried about his situation.

Elliott... that asshole.

I made my way over the couch with a small glass of lemonade. Zim still had his head buried into his knees. When I reached out and placed my hand onto his back, just below his PAK, and rubbed there in a circular motion, he looked up at me slightly. I was just barely able to make out a purple lens focused up at me. He seemed to have a thing for me rubbing that particular area of his back, and usually it calmed him.

I must have been calming him in a good way then, because he drew in a sigh, and rested against my chest. I wrapped an arm around him.

"Try not to worry about it too much..."

He remained quiet for a while, before finally answering me, after taking a drink of lemonade.

"He knows. What am I going to do?"

"You know I'll be there to protect you."

I swallowed after I said that. I hoped I could keep true to my word. The thought of my evidence of Zim stashed away down in dad's lab crossed my mind, as well as my current situation with the Swollen Eyeball's. I'd been keeping tabs on my email, but there hadn't been anything. I knew how the Eyeball's worked though – silence was never a good thing, especially from an organization such as theirs.

And why the hell was Elliott like this all of a sudden? Both Zim and I had gone through the entire of elementary skool with him in our presence and not once had he questioned Zim in such a manner. It was unusual. Zim had said to me when we'd got back to my house about how Elliott was more cunning than he looked. I had to agree there. I'd underestimated him in the past because of his stupidly sugary personality. There actually was more to Elliott than picnics in the park surrounded by flowers and bees. I wondered just how much more.

Right now, the only thing I was worried about was taking Zim's mind off the situation. I knew it would be hard, but I smirked a little as a few devious thoughts crossed my mind. I stood up, facing the Irken, and reaching under his arms. That illicited response, and he looked up at me. I lifted him up into my arms.

"Where are we going?" he asked me once his feet lifted from the ground. Zim barely came up to my shoulder, but he was as light as a toothpick to pick up. I felt him wrap two small arms around my neck.

"To make you feel better." I responded, carrying him out of the living room and towards the stairs. I jumped about a foot the moment I stepped onto the bottom stair, when the front door slammed shut. I turned to find Gaz standing in the entrance, Zim also peering to look from my shoulder.

She was giving us a queer look.

"What the hell are you doing with Zim?" she asked, not even bothering to look at us as she threw down her bookbag.

"Carrying him, obviously." I responded.

"I can see that. I want to know why." She paused. "On second thought, no, I don't want to know why. Just stay out of my way."

I rolled my eyes. "Like I planned on getting in your way in the first place."

I was still angry with her from last week, even if she was my sister. For years I'd put up with her slander and abuse towards me, so now I didn't really care how she reacted to me giving her retaliation. Turning my back to her, I carried the little alien upstairs. He was silent, looking in the direction I was carrying him. We went into my bedroom, and I set him down on the edge of my bed. He returned to his crouched up position almost instantly and I felt a little disheartened.

Sitting down beside him, after locking my bedroom door, I set my hand on his thigh and rubbed gently. He closed his eyes, and I noticed him place a hand on his belly. The other hand, he slipped into my free one.

"What happened to all your hatred, Zim?" I asked after a few moments of silence. I had been curious about that for a long time.

He looked at me intently. "I don't know." he replied, the honesty all too apparent in his voice.

"We used to loathe each other. Then you hit your head, I help you, and now here we are."

"I know," he nodded. "Zim still finds it hard to comprehend."

I nodded. "I wouldn't change it, for anything."

"Neither would I, Dib-pet. I am glad we see eye to eye."

"What about your mission? Your life's worth? It's all gone… are you really just okay with that?"

He gave me a slight glare. "Of course not. My leaders hated me all along and I never knew it. Perhaps I was just too blind to notice."

"No." I shook my head. "Your leaders are selfish, ignorant fucks that only care about food and getting their own way. You thought too much of them, Zim."

He growled. "They were my leaders, Dib. I respected them. I had to. The Empire was I all know. It still is all I know. All Irken's need somebody, or something, to look up to."

I gave him a gentle smile. "But as I said before, that's gone now Zim. You are here now, and you have to realise that you're never going to go back to the life you had once before. I think the reason your hatred seems to have died off is because you are beginning to accept it. No matter how much you tell me otherwise, I know that you have no desire for revenge against your leaders. I've seen the real you over the past few days, Zim. The one buried away for so many years."

He stared at me. "...And?"

"And it's just made me love you even more." I shrugged. "You're incredible. You always told me that, but now I see it for myself."

He looked down towards my carpet, but I saw the subtle change in his expression. What I had just told him was getting through to him. He didn't need such a huge ego to be respected. Well, by me at least. I remembered back to what he had told me before.

If I was perfect, Dib, I wouldn't be Zim.

There was more silence between us. I could just make out the sounds of the television downstairs, but paid no real attention to it. I could hear Zim breathe in and out gently as he sat beside me; the unusual rhythm of his breathing prompting me to think for a moment about how different we truly were. His eyes were still downcast. I could have sworn he looked tired. Perhaps he was.

I continued to caress his back gently. I was greeted with a tiny purr a few minutes later. I wondered what caused an Irken to purr. Zim's species reminded me of cats. It was odd that he was purring, considering I wasn't stroking his antennae. Perhaps rubbing has back had the same sort of effect.

It was cute, none-the-less.

He stopped a little while later, and I stopped rubbing his back. He turned to look at me through dull purple lenses. I stared back at him.

"I used to know who I was. Now, I'm not so sure anymore."

I raised an eyebrow at that unusual statement. "What?"

"You heard me."

I sat myself up a little, and faced him directly, reaching out to place both hands on his shoulders.

"You are Zim. You always have been."

"But who am I Zim to, Dib?"

"Yourself," I paused for a moment. "I know the banishment is still on your mind. As I said, the Empire doesn't know what it's missing, but if you were still a part of them, I would also be missing something myself. "

"What? Victory?"

I shook my head. "No. You."

His eyes flickered downwards for a moment. He didn't say anything, but instead reached out and touched my face with his two fingers. I reached up and placed my palm on top of his hand.

"Why are you so soft?" he asked me quietly. "I always envisioned you to be hard and cold. Like you once were."

I shrugged. "Why are you?"

"..."

I gave him a small smile. He couldn't answer me. I could almost see his mind trying to work out a response to that. Finally, I got one.

"Your arms are stupid!"

I snorted. Loudly. Alien logic. Gotta love it.

He gave me his infamous 'Zim glare' but I just continued to smirk at him. He was about to go off at me, when I leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead. That shut him up.

I shut up myself a moment or so after when he licked me. That, I had not been expecting.

I felt that serpentine tongue slide up my cheek gently. I could feel the ridges of it. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling, but it wasn't exactly pleasant either. Just strange.

Alien...

Zim smirked at my reaction. I hit him gently in response. The little twat had done it on purpose. A moment or so later I had him pinned down beneath me on the bed. He tried trashing against me, but he was too small. Eventually he gave up, and just flopped down, looking up at me like a dog that had lost its bone. Our lips met a moment or so later, and he sighed against me. I settled down beside him, enclosing him into my arms as we both lay and stared up at the ceiling.

He broke the silence a little while later.

"I should head back tonight. Who knows what GIR and Minimoose have done to my beloved base?"

"Nothing too devastating, I assume."

He gave me a queer look. "Dib-pet, this is GIR and Minimoose we are talking about. Remember with all your brains?"

I smirked. "I can go with you, if you like."

He nodded. I tilted my head at him a little, causing him to give me another odd look.

"What?"

Instead of answering him, I reached to his head and removed his wig. He looked bald for a moment when I realised that he had his antennae pressed flat against the surface of his head. Huh.

"What's wrong?" I asked him, observing the unusual position. Usually he had them in the 45 degree angle and they bounced back smoothly into place once the wig was removed. Now they were rigid and barely noticeable unless you looked closely at his head.

"Eh?"

"What's wrong?" I repeated, gesturing to his skull. "Your antennae. Why are they like that?"

At that, they slinked back up slowly. Zim didn't make eye contact with me. "I was... anxious."

"About what?"

He looked directly at me. "The Elliott creature discovered my hair is a head covery. He was going to remove it. He nearly saw them."

"Oh," I said gently, realising why he had them so stiff against his head. "Well, you can relax now Zim. You're safe now."

He gave me a small nod, and the appendages settled back into place. I reached up and stroked a finger along one, causing him to emit a moan. It was hard for me not to wonder what he was feeling. Ever since we were kids, I'd been a little envious of the alien's features. One reason I'd tried to expose him so much in the past was not only just to expose him, but just to see those bizarre feelers.

Zim was watching me curiously. Probably wondering what was going through my mind. He sat up on my bed.

"I need to do something."

"Alright."

I helped him up and he jumped down from my bed. I watched him as he left the room, wondering where he was going. A moment or so later, I heard our bathroom door shut, and frowned a little. Was he going to the toilet? I remembered him telling me he did need to use the bathroom. Irken's ate and drank, just like we did, so they must have a digestive process similar to ours. I smiled.

Incredible. Zim came from light years away, and despite we were different species, there were so many aspects that made us similar. I wondered if it was the same for other alien races, like the Greys.

Zim took his time. It was almost twelve minutes when he returned. He looked a little distant as he walked in, and I reached down to pick him up and place him back on the bed beside me. I didn't have to, but he was looking so small and petite today. Something was very clearly bothering him.

"Zim, are you sure you're alright?"

He shrugged. I noticed him hold his belly again. I reached over and felt his forehead. He felt warm.

"Do you have a pain in your stomach?"

He nodded.

Resting him against me, I lifted up his tunic and massaged his belly. He hardly moved, but I saw his fists clench my bed covers.

"What do you think is causing it? Did you eat something you weren't supposed to today?"

He shook his head. "I don't know what it is. The pain…"

"Hopefully it will pass."

I continued to massage him. Gaz looked in about an hour or so later and told me that she was getting pizza for dinner again. She gave me a disgusted look at what I was doing to Zim, but didn't question it.
"Does he want some pizza as well?"

Zim didn't answer her. I peered over to look at the alien, when I realised he'd fallen into some sort of nap.

"I'm sure it will make him sick Gaz."

"What are you doing to him?" she responded, opening my door a little further. I could see the phone in her hand. So she was curious after all. Pfft.

I glared at her. "He has a pain in his stomach. I'm trying to make him feel better."

She raised an eyebrow. "Just come down and get your pizza when it gets here."

I rolled my eyes. She shut the door and left. Zim was still in his nap beneath me. I picked up a small arm into my hand. He was so skinny and frail. I felt like I could snap his arm in half without effort. Not that I wanted to do that, of course. I picked up his glove and pulled it off gently to expose his three claws. While he napped, I inspected them gently. It was odd to see just smooth green skin and no nails. I rubbed the appendages gently, feeling the bones inside. Just like a human, save the talons on the ends. Zim made a grunt beneath me, and I enclosed his bare hand into my own.

"I love you..." I murmured into an antenna, before settling myself down against my pillow. I was unsure if he'd heard me or not.

I was conscious just long enough to pick up a soft response, before sleep over clouded my mind and I descended into darkness.

"I love you too."