(I sure hope that title's not going to get me the boot.)
Disclaimer: I do not own Invader ZIM. I think I'm okay with that.
Summary: It was going to happen, and that was fine, but not like this. Not with his sister.
Note: I'm really sorry about the sloppy editing in this. My printer is out, and it is harder for me to catch problems on a soft copy. So, just point them out and I'll fix them as I can.
- upload document, and all the quotations were replaced by O's with symbols above them. So I had to fix them... aaaall of them.
Chapter one: Drawing out your DOOM.
Zim was absentmindedly testing his right arm. If Dib recalled correctly, he had damaged it playing basketball the other day. He had claimed it was merely a sprain, and had kept it in a brace for two days. Dib knew that it had healed in a few hours, because Zim acted like nothing had happened, and had sketched through three pages in his notebook, with a delighted grin on his face, as if he had just discovered he had this talent.
He was not good a faking injuries.
Dib, insanely curious, had tried to look over his shoulder. Zim had hidden the notebook against his chest and the legs in his PAK had protruded menacingly, but subtly. They had only retreated when Dib was across the room.
Zim now picked up a pen and twirled it between his fingers, testing their reaction time and coordination. He then slouched in his seat, looked out the window, and began to sketch, his eyes aglow with discovery, and his tongue between his teeth in concentration. He was not paying attention to their math lesson.
Neither was Dib, really. He was too busy watching Zim. The alien was probably drawing up plans for world domination. Dib grinned. Despite the height, Zim had not actually changed much.
From what Dib had gleaned of the Irkens, they were a primarily short race. Tall Irkens were rare and shown the highest respect. And, in truth, they were physically stronger, simply because of their height. Most Irkens were of average intelligence, and so this was the rare case in which might justifiably took priority over merit. Zim was an exception. For an Irken, he was foolish, even if he considered himself brilliant.
Or perhaps he was brilliant.
Still, the height confused him. Dib had never learned why he had gotten so tall. He was certain it was not a robotic suit of any kind. He had never seen it short circuit or spark. It was either very convincing and completely water tight, or he was really starring at Zim, slouched over and drawing like a child.
What was he drawing? Dib leaned a little to try to get a better look, but Zim immediately straitened and turned warily, slightly, towards him. He frowned a little and narrowed his eyes before quickly turning the page.
Dib resolved to ask about the height when class was over, and passed another thirty minutes watching Zim sketch the squirrel outside. When the bell rang, Zim was one of the first students up. Dib only just managed to catch him outside the door.
"Yes, smelly earthmonkey?"
It was funny. When he had been twelve, such phrases did not bother him. Now that he cared actively about impressing girls as much as he did protecting the Earth, being called a "smelly earthmonkey" kind of made him self-conscious. Did he smell presentable? Look alright? How was his hair? Dib sniffed his collar, "I like this after shave... You need to stop saying things like that, Zim."
But Zim had started to walk away.
"Wait!" Dib called, trotting after him, "I want to ask you something."
"Do you want to ask me why I have not yet dominated your pathetic planet?"
He waited for the Irken to interrupt with something, but he kept his thin green lips shut. So Dib continued, "I was wondering... The Irken are short, right? Have you given any thought to the fact that you're... not?"
Zim looked down at himself and frowned.
"I mean, is it a suit? Did you alter your own DNA, because that's pretty sweet if you—"
"I think it is the food." he said quickly.
"Yes!" Zim declared loudly, "Eat your disgusting vegetables, little earthmonkeys! You will be tall! And completely normal!"
Then he scurried away. Dib wondered if that had been a lie, the truth, or sarcasm.
This was the nature of their awkward friendship. Dib sighed and shook his head. Well, now that the cause of his height had been solved, Dib could move onto more important things. Like the drawing.
Now, he knew Zim had been getting involved more in Skool activities. One of them had been art classes. He had heard Zim had joined the robotics club a few days ago, which would be interesting, considering Dib was already in that club, and the next meeting was tomorrow.
But that was not all. He had seen him outside the music room after classes had ended, his sketch book out. Dib had gone there to check up on Gaz because she was practicing with a few others, he had been wasting time in the library. Zim had looked entranced by something. So entranced his sketch remained incomplete. When he had seen Dib, he had abruptly walked off.
He had also seen Zim standing in front of the bulletin board and writing things down. Because Zim was long over due to attempt to take over the Earth, Dib had assumed all of this was simply studying to bring doom through the arts. He did not know how Irkens felt about the arts, but he was fairly certain they were either looked down upon or neglected completely.
Zim had never shown any interest in them before now.
May be he should ask sometime.
But now it was lunch time. Gaz would be sitting in the cafeteria, and she would not bothered to have waited for him. Sometimes, she was gone by the time he got there, and he wondered if she ate at all on those days.
He knew she wanted to avoid him, because he was 'Stupid, obnoxious, and made her sick' but she was his little sister. There were bullies that roamed the lunchroom for defenseless underclassmen like Gaz, and upperclassmen that stalked the edges for tasty morsels impressed by pocket change and free rides. Gaz was, in his eyes, a tasty little defenseless morsel. He had to watch out for her. What good was a savior of Earth that could not watch his younger sibling's back?
Sometimes, he even contemplated getting a SIR unit from the Irken Black Market to watch her more effectively.
Dib found Gaz sitting down, looking over some sheet music and playing an air violin.
He wanted to ask what she was pretending to play, but he did not. He knew not to mess with her when she was practicing. She huffed and mumbled a few notes aloud, slowly, pausing only to push a hair behind her ear. It was quite long now, his sister's dark hair, with a deep purple cast.
She flipped through the sheet music and starred at it for a long while, then sighed angrily and put it away.
"I know you'll get it soon."
She did not respond, just took her sandwich from her lunch bag and scarfed it down in frustration. She ate when she was angry and upset. Dib was fine with that. He would rather have a slightly chubby sister than one that cut herself or did one of the numerous drugs that were easily available on street corners around Skools.
She looked up at him as if she had sensed the word 'chubby.'
She was not chubby. Not unless your definition of chubby was size four jeans and an B-cup bra.
Her light brown eyes narrowed.
Not like he knew her cup size.
"What are you staring at?"
"Why?" she asked sharply, "Are you sculpting me?"
He looked down at the brown bag he had brought his lunch to school in. He could suddenly feel he was being watched, and he looked up. It was not Gaz, she had gone back to eating. He looked around.
And he was sketching.
So, why did Dib feel like he was the one that was in the wrong? He had just spied his former nemesis sketching what might be him, and he felt like he had just done something wrong. He grumbled a little and tried to eat while ignoring the not so subtle scratching of a pen. He felt terribly self aware now that he knew he was being watched.
But who was to say Zim was sketching him for a bad reason? He might just be addicted to drawing. It happened to a lot of good art students.
Was he good?
Dib suddenly had the burning desire to know. Or, rather, he had the burning desire for it to be right. He wanted Zim to be good at something. If it was drawing, it was drawing, and so long as Zim did not attempt to send subliminal messages to all of mankind in his art, Dib was happy.
He did not hate Zim. He had at one point, and he would never deny that. Zim had been a heartless Invader, until it had finally been driven into his obstinate green head that he was not. Zim had remained on Earth in exile, rather than return to Foodcortia. Dib did not hate him any more. The two of them had been through so much together. Another scuffle with the Planet Jackers, a few run ins with Invader Tak, the Noodle incident.
That thing with the Doughnut-dog. [1.]
Dib shuddered with the memory.
Zim did not seem to notice.
He continued his lunch, wandering down memory lane. Zim had changed. He had changed about as much as he and Gaz. The siblings had gone through regular Earthling puberty, and by strange coincidence, that had been when Zim shot up like a rocket as well. Dib had not noticed it a first, because he had always gauged his height by Zim, but the Irken came to school out of his Invader's uniform one day, and it had hit Dib like a ton of bricks. He had sported the look of a chilly academic for years now [2.]. All black jeans, colorful sweater vests and polo shirts. He had recently taken up collecting ties, as well. Expensive ones. Every second Monday he sported a new one, just as sharp as the last.
But Dib was certain the ties were just Zim... being Zim... and had nothing to do with his height.
So it was the food? What was the diet of the average Irken? Was it all snacks? What were Irken snacks made of? Something that stunted growth, maybe? The Tallest were gluttons, did gluttony make an Irken taller?
The little conspiracy theorist in him was jumping about frantically. So many questions raised by the simple fact that Zim had gotten two and a half feet taller. He wanted to ask him, surely he had the answers? He was the resident expert on Irkens by default. He had to know.
Zim was sketching away, a brilliant grin on his face, hunched over to hide his work from others passing by. But he paid them no heed.
Irken diet and the sketching.
Dib had to know. He had to ask. But if he asked Zim, the Irken would give him a quick, witty answer, and Dib would learn nothing. But he had to ask. He had to.
So he blurted out, "Hey, Gaz?"
He could not let her be suspicious of him. She would call him an idiot and would walk away if he pressed the topic of 'Zim' too much or two specifically. So he asked the next best thing, "You think Zim's turning over a new leaf?"
"I'm pretty sure he did that several years go. Ya know, when you stopped trying to kill him and just opted to ruin the Irken Empire."
Oh, yes. He had done that. Dib looked up, as if memories were contained in the air and felt himself smiling.
He had spared most people. He had spared the Tallest. He had not destroyed the planet. He had barely done anything. He could have forced the Irkens into complete submission. He could have obliterated them, but he had let them live. This was mainly because Gaz had threatened to bash his kneecaps. And he knew she was fully capable of it. Even if she had only been ten at the time.
He was a regular Angel of Mercy!
A little anger flared inside him. He felt so unfulfilled now.
But she was probably right. Dib had probably scared the fight out of him. He had probably scared the fight of the entire Irken race, and had saved the universe with just scare tactics.
So, why did he feel so terrible about it?
She stood up and left, throwing her lunch away and taking her violin case with her. That, Zim seemed to notice. He pouted slightly, as if she had ruined his drawing. Dib smirked as he watched Zim sigh and turn the page. So he had been sketching both of them? Not only was he taking an interest in the arts, but he was beginning to comprehend familial bonds.
That was great! Sure, Dib had heard Zim refer to Gaz as 'The Dib-sibling' but he had never thought Zim knew what sibling meant. All he had known before was the individual in relation to the whole. He had known there was a special connection between him and Gaz, a kind not found in the Irken race.
He really was turning over a new leaf.
Perhaps it was time to take their awkward friendship away from awkward and more towards friendship. The two of them could do great things for mankind together. Besides, with Gaz gone, Dib was free to be as stupid as he pleased. He swallowed the last corner of his sandwich, took a swig of soda and got to his feet.
Zim was glumly sketching now that Gaz was gone.
Dib had barely made it half way before he sighed and walked away from the lunchroom. With a little swear he followed him. "Zim!" he shouted, "Hey, Zim!"
The former Invader turned around, his false blue eyes turning suspiciously to him.
"Zim, can I ask you up front what you are drawing?" Dib said, trying a little flattery, "Because I can't snoop, you're just too good and hiding things."
Zim looked at him with an expression of shock, as if he had been succeeding at hiding the fact that he had been joyfully doodling in plain sight. He looked down at his notebook, then down the hallway were Gaz had once walked, then back to the little smile on Dib's face. He said cooly, "I am just drawing your obnoxiously big Dibhead."
Even today, that pushed the wrong button. His head was not big. He even checked his measurements with the average. And Zim knew Dib was anatomically proportionate. The sparkle in his blue eyes told Dib that.
"My head. Is not. Big." he said evenly.
Zim looked from his sketch book, hidden against his chest, to the angry glimmer in Dib's eyes. A wicked grin spread across his face, "Yes, earthmonkey. You just have very little hair for your age, and so your shiny baldness makes your head look bigger."
Then he scurried away to the art room.
"Ouch." he heard someone mumble.
"Well at least I have ears." Dib hissed and turned on his heel, "And my nose is not just a minuscule stub with two slits... and I'm not completely bald. And I can swim, too, with out steaming."
And on he went, down the hallway, muttering and cursing to his next class, which was with out Zim. It was a shame, too. Zim was endlessly amusing in science classes, because he acted as if he knew everything. The scary thing was, though, that he did. Dib did too, to a certain extent, but unlike Zim, he kept his mouth shut about it.
He found he was staring out the window, wishing he could sketch as freely as Zim.
He had english on his own, too. But that was okay. Zim was a terrible English classmate. Particularly when Greek tragedies were concerned. Partly because Greek tragedies involved the death of family members, and Zim's only family had been a cold, unfeeling robot arm as a smeet, and maybe GIR.
And robots did not die.
So the beauty of Oedipus Rex and Antigone were lost on him.
So were a lot of other things, and most things just seemed to make him sick. Dib found himself snickering. The Awakening was not meant to be read by a alien that came from a tank. Neither was The Bluest Eye. Or... yeah, everything.
When he had to compare Romeo and Juliet to Invader Tenn conducting a series of 'invasive experiments' with a Meekrob just to understand the basic premise, he had split Dib's sides.
They were together for history, which was Zim was normally enthralled in, because he loved to learn the history of his enemies. (At least, that was what he said.) But instead of paying rapt attention, Zim just sketched. Dib snuck a peek with the subtly of a giant ant when he was walking over to sharpen his pencil.
A schematic of a laser gun.
Was that what he was working on all day?
No. Zim's hand paused and twitched. He knew Dib was watching. He had anticipated it. He turned around and looked at Dib, as if he was cutting in on the most important thing Zim had ever done.
"So, planning to take over the Earth again, Zim?"
His fake blue eyes narrowed.
"For old time's sake?" his human adversary offered.
But Dib knew that look. It was that old Irkens have no need for your earthy nonsense. It was getting more use lately. Dib remembered Zim using it in regards to a great many things, and so the abstract concept of 'nostalgia' was just another tally mark in a long list of things labeled 'Zim does not know or care.'
"Say, Zim, I was wondering if you could clear something up for me?"
"What do Irkens normally eat?"
Zim frowned at him.
"You know, you said it was the food making you taller, so I was wondering if it really was a dietary thing..."
"The eating habits of my homeland are no concerns of yours, Earthmonkey."
Then he sharply turned away, and Dib knew better than to continue questioning. He flipped a page in his notebook and his hand shook over the page in anger, or maybe it was just that he was nervous that Dib was watching. Sensing this was a bit like Gaz and her video games, he returned to his seat to await his impending doom.
But Zim seemed to calm down enough to speak civilly to him by the time class ended. Dib expected him to answer in his usual frank, hammy manner either what Irkens regularly ate, or where Dib could shove his curiosity.
Instead he just took something from his pocket and held it out to him.
"Dibhuman," he told him flatly, probably still annoyed with his questioning, "Your sister asked me to give you this." Then he handed Dib a half sheet of folded notebook paper with the name Gaz written across it in dark purple pen.
"So you're a courier now?" Dib teased against his better judgment, "Should I write a reply?"
The Irken glared at him. The light was just perfect, and so Dib could see the red behind Zim's contacts. It was quite a perfect picture of doom. He swallowed a scream of terror and said calmly, "Okay, okay, sorry." While unfolding the note. In the same purple pen and aloof scrawl was his sister's handwriting.
I'm staying late today. None of your business. I just am. Don't wait for me. Don't bother me.
He looked back to the bearer of the news, "Zim, why is she staying late?"
"How should I know, Earth-Dib? Is she my responsibility?"
Zim was right about that. Dib shrugged, "She's not going to do anything bad is she?"
Zim audibly sighed, as if Dib's brotherly concern was irrational and bothersome. "I believe there are theater tryouts this afternoon. She might be attending those."
"You want to check up on her with me?"
Zim stepped back and frowned, "Where did this we start, earthmonkey?"
"I dunno... Shouldn't it have been a 'we' thing for at least five years."
"It is my opinion, Dib-creature, that the only thing we do is fight."
Then he walked away with a curt nod and a little frown.
Dib sighed. About once a month, he attempted to get into Zim's social bubble. Zim's bubble was not only solid steel, it had the ability to suddenly become molten hot. Dib, in his many attempts to strike up a less awkward friendship, would get burned, until three weeks time, when the burns healed.
It was thanks to his efforts, though, that he could call what they had an 'awkward friendship.' Zim would come to his aid when he needed it, Dib was there for him. And that was it. That had been it for five years.
And Dib wanted so much more. Like Kirk had Spock, Dib needed Zim. But at the rate things were progressing, he was getting nothing. He sighed and rubbed the back of his head.
Did his haircut really make it look bigger?
Was it a turn off?
If he asked Gaz, would she think he was crazy?
Yes. Yes she would. He was already on thin ice with her anyway. If he was going to confront her about her plans after Skool, he was going to be on thinner ice. He shouldered his backpack and headed down to the theater room, where he assumed tryouts were being held.
There she was, talking to some theater-types, which Dib tended to dislike because they were not science-types, and therefor not his crowd. They also seemed to be under the impression that all nerds were inherently friends.
But if Gaz wanted to hang out with them, Dib supposed he would learn to like them. He strode up to them and pushed his glasses up his nose. He recognized Gretchen, freed from her braces for several years now. She was taller now (they all were, with the exception of Mrs. Bitters, who was just scarier.) long-limbed and long faced, with wide, staring eyes.
"Hey Dib. Are you here to try out?"
"No." Gaz said sharply, "It's not The Life and Times of Dorkface."
Gretchen frowned at her, "I think Dib would have made an excellent Hamlet. [3.]"
"Gaz, you want me to wait for you?" Dib said, "About how long will you—"
"I'll take as long as I want!" she said sharply.
"Okay, just give me a text and I'll come pick you—"
"I have two legs that aren't broken."
"Okay, okay." he said quickly, "But please, call me if it's dark out?"
She gave him that I am at my strongest in the Night look of hers and Dib was forced to step back. Even Gretchen looked scared.
"I think you should go now, Dib."
"Okay. See you at home, Gaz."
She glared at him, arms crossed, while he slowly backed off.
Dib turned around again, this time to head to the nearest exit so he could start the drive home. He pushed his glasses up his nose again and stuck his hands in his pockets, just like he always did when Gaz scared him into submission. He continued on like a dog with its tail between its legs.
Until he saw Zim's head poking around the corner.
He saw the expression of shock and fear on the Irken's face at his discovery, and he quickly disappeared. Dib could not begin to guess where he had gone until he rounded the corner and saw nothing.
He checked the classrooms on either side of the hallway, finding that Zim was in none of them, Dib looked towards the door and could not see where the imposter-human had gotten to. He heard a little tap of metal spider-legs thumping against the brick ceiling. Of course. Of course. If Dib had spider's legs, he would do the exact same thing.
He knew where the former Invader was. He was right above him, using the legs of his PAK to press himself against the ceiling. Dib could not hear him any more. Not after than one little tap, but he knew that was the only possibility. Rather than look up and scare him out of what ever his plan was, Dib just said quietly, "Huh, must have gotten scared off. I... I guess that's another victory for Dib."
[1.] References to two unfinished episodes. 'It Feeds on Noodles,' and 'GIR's Big Day." Tak was going to return in "Top of the Line." however these 'run ins' are other events entirely. The Planet Jackers never returned in cannon, I just sort of made that up.
Do research on your own time!
[2.] Because emo Zim is just silly, and pales in comparison to bookworm Zim.
What? I've seen a lot of emo Zim, and I do love me some sweatervests...
[3.] Because he always wears black. I believe in the script is specifically states Hamlet wears black.
Well it looks like Zim... is pretty irked.
*Ahem.* I'm dumb.