"Are you quite sure about this?"

"Zim, I come here nearly all the time getting myself the best of the best. The owners love me; their best customer."

"But, Gaz, I have perfectly good gloves and boots. I don't need any more of them." Zim shifted his weight from foot to foot while waiting for the owners of the building to appear.

Gaz rolled her amber eyes. "I heard tell that your gloves don't match your new clothes like the ones you have on at the moment, so this is my gift to you. I would have gotten them by myself, but I don't know what your new clothes look like." Gaz set herself in a chair in the lobby, watching the alien look nervous. "Just relax. Just tell them that with your skin condition, you were born missing a few digits on your hands and feet. They'll understand cause they've seen it before. They even made gloves for those who only have a single finger."

Zim released a breath he didn't know that he was holding. "You know me too well to have figured that out, human."

Gaz scoffed. "You're not that hard to read, Zim. Sorry."

"Very well, then." He sat in a chair next to her. "Tell me, dear Gaz, what exactly can you 'read' about me." His contact covered eyes set themselves on her own eyes.

Gaz's thoughts came to a sudden stop. If she were to tell him what she could read about him, she could end up saying how alike they both were and that was something she couldn't risk. She didn't want her new friend to disappear like everyone else that she loved in her young life. Not that she loved him at the moment, but who knew what could happen what with Gaz being in a certain stage where other girls are already having their first real boyfriends. She couldn't risk Zim to suffer a fate that Fate seemed to make a joke out of.

"I'm not going to tell you, Zim." She flatly stated.

"And why ever not?"

"Because... this isn't the place for information like that. People might take something the wrong way and end up being plain rude to you until you -or they- die."

Zim sighed. "Fair enough, but you will tell me, yes?"

"Sure." Gaz threw out to him.

Silence followed the conversation until two sets of footsteps echoed through the building. Across from the lobby, a beaded curtain separated the store from the back rooms which led to the owner's home. Stepping through the curtain was an elderly man with an aura of power despite his small form and head of receding brown hair. Behind him was a woman around the same age as the man, but her hair was fully starlight white. She, too, had a powerful aura.

"Oh," the woman breathed. "I was wondering when you'd come back. And look, darling! She's brought a friend."

The man acknowledged their customers. "Nice to see you again, miss. How goes your brother?"

Gaz shrugged as she stood up. "He's been dumb as usual and dad is gone everyday like always." She sighed. Zim took notice of her emotions toward her father unit and only felt sorry that he couldn't help her with that problem.

The woman spoke. "Aw, hun. They won't always be like that. Something'll happen and they'll finally spend time with you ever since... well, you know. Just don't give up just yet." The woman gave the young girl a smile.

"Thanks. Anyway, this," Gaz pointed to Zim. "This is Zim. He's one of the few friends I have and I brought him here to get him new gloves. His current ones are a bit outdated." She winked at the alien who in turn huffed something under his breath. It wasn't English, she could tell. "Zim, this is Mr. and Mrs. Brahm. They used to be in the military. Now they spend their retirement creating wonderful accessories."

Zim's eyes lit up. "Military, you say? Which branch did you serve?"

"All of them." The couple said together.

"How so?" Zim asked.

"Both of our families, much like some others in our time, made us go to these camps for weeks upon weeks. Each camp had it's own month." The man informed. "None of us went to school because they were unavailable. War plagued the world for the fourth time in it's history. All we learned were in those camps. After a few decades of going to each camp, my generation became skilled in all forms of the military branches."

The woman took up from there. "Of course, the rest of our families were busy trying to stop the war, so many children basically lived in the camps, always moving every month. David, here, was lucky that he had a large family to go home to during the holidays."

"Yes, but I invited you many times to come over, my dear sweet Lidia. Each time, you refused."

"I did and for good reason." David gave his wife a puzzled look. "I refused each time to get you drawn to me even more. It worked out in the end of course."

"Perhaps." David answered, the turned back to the young people. "If you are ready, Zim, we'll get you started on what you need. If you'll come with us, please."

Zim glanced at Gaz. "Just go, Zim. They are another example of smart sane humans. I'll meet you at Bloaty's when they're done with you." Zim sighed and followed the elderly couple through the beaded curtain and into the workshop.

.*.*.

"I have to say that your hands are one of the most interesting we've ever seen." David announced, leading Zim back to the lobby.

"But, we enjoyed fitting them for your order. Your taste is exquisite and unique, just like Gaz's." Lidia added. "I can see why you two get along so well. How long has it been?"

Zim paused in his step. "Pardon?"

"How long have you two been..." The elderly woman stopped when she saw the questioning gaze from her customer. "N... never mind. I suppose that I'm just tired."

Zim's forehead creased where his eyebrows would be if he had any. "Well, I must say good-night and see if Gaz is still at the greasy food building. I'll come back in four days time for my order."

"Of course, Zim." David stated. "We'll bill you when we're done. Until next time, son." The man loosely saluted to the young man and waved goodbye as Zim turned to leave. He turned to his wife once the lobby was empty again. "You thought that they were courting, didn't you?"

Lidia sighed. "I did. She reminds me so much of her mother, Gaz does. Her mother always went for those who were the oddballs of humanity. The way that they acted around each other... I just assumed. They're in for it deep, but they don't see it. Probably because of something in their childhood that has them think that they aren't meant to even try dating."

"That," David said. "Or it's her brother. You remember how Dib is, right?" His wife silently nodded. "Or both, but we shouldn't pry anymore." He sighed. "Come on, dear. Let's close up shop."

.*.*.

The heavy rain finally liftsed to a light drizzle, but Zim was thankful none-the-less for a quick glue shower that Gaz let him have before leaving his base. He even had on one of his new outfits made up of a blood red poet's shirt, charcoal black vest, ebony black tights, and a midnight purple trench coat. When he came back to the living room after getting ready, he enjoyed seeing a slight red flush appear on her cheeks when she could see his change of clothes in better lighting.

Yet, here he was, trudging through the damned weather, hoping that the infernal female was where as she said she would be. Suddenly, he heard a faint sound off in the distance. His form froze, his breath silent, as he tried to make sense of the noise. Nothing, but the rain made a sound. In this part of town at this time of night, there were no vehicles or other forms of life. Zim wouldn't meet another living thing until he reached the highway separating the shopping district from the rest of the city. The humans who built the city must have been using some type of illegal drug when they came up with the blueprints.

After standing still and quiet for a few minutes, Zim cautiously continued on his way. That is... until he noticed another pair of footsteps. He paused mid-step, turned around, and listened to the growing sound of another coming his way. Zim could hear the other being breath despite Zim's wig obstructing his hearing. The footsteps sounded even closer until suddenly, when Zim could just see the shadowy figure of the other, the footsteps stopped and the figure vanishes. Mildly shocked, Zim stepped backwards and was about to face the direction he was going in until a disfigured voice spoke from behind him.

"Are you the one they call the Defect? The voice said.

Zim spun on his heel and aimed his mechanical legs at the shadowy figure. "Who wants to know?" He growled.

The voice chuckled. "No one you should care about." The figure pulled up a gun that humans could only dream of creating. "It's not like the dead should know their killer."

Zim's eyes widened as the barrel of the gun charged. "Who are you?"

Gold speckled emerald eyes glowed in front of Zim as an ivory grin grimly smiled. "I am death."

.*.*.

Gaz had been waiting longer than she felt that she should have. She had paid for her food and sat at a table for nearly an hour and half, so she stood up and started her way back to the store where she left Zim. She frowned at the light rainfall as she walked down the road, all the while thinking about how he looked thankful that she had done something for him without a condition. A small almost unnoticeable smile graced her face. She caught herself, though. She couldn't show too much affection toward Zim in fear that her powers might end up killing him as it did with her mother. Suddenly nervous, Gaz picked up her pace only to halt, silently gasping at the sight before her.

A shadow covered being hunched over a downed Zim, muttering to itself. A sleek gun flashed in the dull streetlights as did the being's odd eyes. Gaz quietly inched toward the being, noticing more details that were cloaked by the night's darkness. The being is obviously another alien, but looks more human than Zim does. By the gently roll of the alien's voice, Gaz knew that it was a female... whatever she was.

"I'll be rewarded so for your death, Defect." The alien murmured. "All I've to do is send a transmission to my sender and you won't be anything but a bad memory." A mephistophelean chuckle sounded.

Gaz was fuming while the female spoke, but at the sound of the evil laugh, enough was enough. "You've got nerve coming here!"

The being abruptly stood, facing the human. "You've no business here!"

"Oh?" Gaz braced herself for a possible attack from the alien. "Then why is my friend at your feet?"

The being chuckled again. "'Friend'?" She pointed to Zim with her gun. "This is not a reliable friend to keep. This is..."

"An Irken Defect. I know. I also know that you don't belong here, alien, so I suggest that you go back from where you came from and stay there."

The she-alien hissed. "I will not be simply ordered around by an earthling." She raised the gun at Gaz. "My task doesn't involve you, but if you force me, I might just have to kill you." She lowered the gun. "Consider yourself lucky." At that, the alien disappeared in a flash of sudden light, leaving Gaz alone with a dying Zim.

She rushed forward, landing hard on her knees, and laying her warm hands on his cold face. "Zim? Can you hear me?"

His eyes slid open enough to see the human. "Where..." His face pinched in pain.

"Whiner." She said automatically as she pressed her hands against his wound in his upper chest. "Whatever she was, she's gone. From what I could guess, she was a hired assassin sent by someone who knew that you were a Defect."

His mouth tried to form words, but his mouth was going slack. Only certain sounds slipped from him. "I'll be fine, hu... huma... Gaz."

She scoffed and slapped him. "Of course you will be otherwise I'll make sure you die in true pain." She pulled her watch out from under her long stone gray sleeve and pressed a certain button in it.

"Gaz?" The filtered voice of her brother spiked through to her ears.

"Get me, Dib."

"Where are you? Are you alright? Did-"

"Dib!" She yelled.

"What?"

"Your voice is annoying. I'm in the shopping district near Michelle's place."

"Got it. I'll be there soon."

Gaz put her watch away and turned back to Zim. She watched his closed eyes shift with the motion of his eyes and his chest shallowly rise and fall. His wound laid before her, beckoning her to do something to help. Had she hated the alien, she would have done what she could to place him in greater pain. Instead she lov... no, likes him. She could never love. Not with her powers always killing those she loves.

"Gaz?" A weak voice called. Her eyes focused on the alien again. "What do you read about me?"

A small grin appeared on her face. "I see a grand being, Zim." She pet his face, smoothing away his pains. "You are you and that is a great gift." She half-expected him to smile, but he frowned instead.

"Who am I? I'm naught, but a Defect." He paused in thought. "Not even that anymore. I'm simply nothing. That is all I am and all I will be."

"Zim..." Gaz bit her lip to keep from saying that he's not made of nothing, but that would lead to her admitting that she was feeling something for him. Last night, though, milled about her mind. The warmth they shared, the silent words they spoke. Her cold heart shivered with unfamiliar heat.

"Gaz?"

She silenced him with a gentle kiss. She did all she could to avoid the laser wound while leaning over Zim's body. She dully noted that his antenna slightly twitched as his left hand buried itself in her hair. In response, she lightly slid her hand along his black wig wanting to feel his antenna, but couldn't risk unexpected humans seeing who he really was.

When Gaz pulled away, Zim slightly whimpered. "I... If I... don't live, Gaz... keep my base safe."

"Zim, you're not going to..."

"Please?" His eyes stared into hers. "Please, it's... all I ask." Gaz could only nodded as they both fell silent, both hoping that tonight would end soon until his eyes drooped closed, leaving Gaz to her thoughts.

"I know that I can't tell you what you mean to me, now." She scoffed at herself. "I've turned into a freaking sap. You had to go and save me. I just had to fall for you." Her amber eyes suddenly widened. "Oh, no! What have I said!" A single tear escaped as the sleek black car zoomed up the street and slid to a stop where Gaz and Zim laid. The window idled down, revealing Dib.

"Dib? Is your head too big for your sense of all things? Where did you get that car?" Gaz hissed.

"I'll explain later when I get you home!" Her brother snipped.

"What about Zim? He's been attacked!"

Dib scoffed. "My only concern is you. You would have never gone to his base on your own accord. The farther from him the better you'll feel. I'm sure of it."

Summoning her demonic reserves, Gaz threw out a ribbon of purple magic around her brother's neck, successfully choking him. "I will not leave without Zim. You are going to help me get him in the car and you will take him to his base so that he can get better. Am I clear?" Dib's light brown eyes flickered in obedience. "Good, now help me." Gaz said as she slightly loosened the hold on her brother. This was going to be a long night.

.*.*.

"What do you think you are doing?" The melodic voice of the woman whispered.

"I was trying to go about my life when I happened to see her falling into the street. I wasn't even thinking about my first meeting with you when I saved her. I just happened to see her. That's all!" Zim paced around in the white expanse.

"But you were trying to involve her into your life when you confronted her brother." She stated calmly.

"I..." Zim paused in his step. "I don't know why I did that." His uncovered eyes shifted about the dream world. "Well... I think I know, but I can't seem to understand why it had to be that reason. It was back in my base when she came unannounced. Seeing her there was like a dream for myself. Even if she was glistening with that dreaded rain, it was that reason that made me want to dare to even hold her.

"And the reason is...?" The woman asked knowingly.

"The reason..." He violently shook his head and resumed pacing. "No, I can't believe it. I didn't even start it and yet I want to finish it. Her soul calls to me yet I can't bring myself to do what I ache to do."

"What's holding you back?"

"There's something that she's not telling me. She told me that she couldn't be close to me. There's something that seems to preventing her from being a regular human. That something has grown and she has become the dark foreboding creature that I can't seem to forget about. I want to help her, I want to..." The alien jerked to a stop. He stared at the seated woman, her golden eyes held an unspoken question. "My reason..."

Zim's own eyes screwed shut as he tried to control his sudden epiphany and the emotions that came with it. He had never felt such strong feelings and it was causing him to feel lightheaded, dizzy even. His hands shook as his antenna quivered. He risked opening his eyes to see that woman once more.

"I want to love her."