"Cooties"

'Chapter One'

By: Emo Fox

Zim had been studying the planets for far too many years now; but one thing had started to peak his interest and what was the sickening holiday of Valentine's.

He had witnessed it a few times over the course of the years he had been on the planet but nothing to the extravagance he had seen in High School now. There was heart-shaped confetti sprinkled in the halls, red and white streamers along every wall, and even heart-shaped balloons floating along the ceiling.

It was suffocating almost and Zim was feeling more and more threatened by this horrible Earth holiday.

What was the point of it anyway?

Passing out candies and paper hearts; what was its meaning?

He had looked up all information he could on the subject and came to the conclusion that it had to do with something akin to mating rituals. It was confusing in itself that there was a hideous dance this Friday to honor such a thing.

Zim started to wonder if it was common to find a mate at this dance or not, if that might be its point.

Hm.

Zim chanced a glance at Dib who was sitting oblivious on the other side of class, scribbling something or other in his notebook. It only took a minute for the paranoia to kick in and he locked his eyes with narrowed amber.

Zim held the glare longer than necessary before he turned his eyes back to the front; letting his mind start to wander again.

Would Dib be attending this dance?

Beyond that – would Dib be finding a human to be his love-pig?

Zim didn't know why that made his insides twist but it did. He didn't like the idea of his rival finding someone else to focus all his attentions on. The battle of Earth was far more important than stupid human mating things.

No, Zim didn't think Dib would be infested by all this speak of love and happiness.

His Dib was far more concentrated than that – too single-minded to really look at the world around him.

No, no, Zim was sure Dib would keep on track with their battles. Surely he had nothing to worry about.

But the seed of doubt had already been planted and it began to fester and Zim's false eyes kept sneaking glances at his unsuspecting rival, unsure why he felt anxious all of a sudden but he did.

Finally the bell sounded for the end of class; the happy yips of the students ignored as they filed down the aisles and out the door. Zim waited in his seat for Dib to pass by, ignoring the questioning look from the human as he sprang up from his seat in a fluid movement and followed Dib out of the classroom.

"Why did you keep looking at me?" Dib asked as they stepped out into the hall, a frown tugging his lips.

"I was merely observing," Zim said easily, his hands tucked behind his back, "I have to keep an eye on you."

Dib grinned slightly to that, "Yeah. I was thinking of more plans to destroy you."

Zim's eyes narrowed slightly, "So that's what you were writing in your book?"

Dib hugged the notebook to his chest, eyeing the Irken suspiciously, "Maybe."

Zim was about to make a grab for the book when someone hit him right out of the way, he stumbled half a step to the right, a new body in his previous place. Confused, Zim hadn't the time to retaliate, his false contacts falling on the girl now standing before Dib.

The attack seemed to have been unintentional, she didn't even seem to notice Zim, her hair was curled around her face, blocking the view of Zim, her eyes downcast to the floor, intently staring at Dib's boots, "Uh, Dib—"

Dib was just as dumbfounded by the change of events, unused to interacting with other students aside from Zim, stunned this girl had made the approach as well as how shy she was acting in his presence. The entire ordeal was making him feel awkward and he unconsciously looked over to Zim as if seeking support before he caught himself, "Yeah, Gretchen, what is it?" He asked, clearing his throat.

Zim balked—Dib knew this Earth-beast's name. Zim scrutinized Dib's stupid expression that seemed to match the female's; both faces flushed, both stupid looks of uncertainty—

Zim's hands balled into fists at his side, about ready to punch the girl right away from Dib.

"Wouldyougotothedancewithme?" She exhaled, words cemented together.

It took a moment for Dib to process, then to actually recount the question. Seriously, a girl was asking him to a dance? A Valentine's dance? Hell, a girl was just talking to him in general?

He knew he should feel excited, or happy, or something to that extent. After all, this was high-school and he'd never had a girlfriend thus far—then again, he had never had the time to even contemplate relationships chasing Zim around and all.

Zim.

Dib swallowed thickly, unsure why the realization of Zim engulfing his life somehow made him feel guilty. Stupid. This was just a dance, and it would be his one night away from saving the planet, maybe he needed it, to put things in perspective.

"Sure, I'd love to go." He said, his smile a little fake, but she accepted all the same.

Gretchen grinned from ear to ear, her brace-free teeth shining as she hugged her books in a suffocating hold to her chest to resist the urge to hug onto Dib. "Great!" She yipped, the sound almost not a word as she darted from the classroom, nearly tripping down the hall.

Zim watched the entire exchange with a mute fascination one might have when watching a car crash as well as viewing all the people inside turn to red paste. Sickening, yet he was unable to react, and Dib's answer somehow drained the emotion out of him.

Zim lifted his chin arrogantly, but something cold had settled and he couldn't shrug it off; it hung on him like a second skin and it was pissing him off.

Dib had chosen so easily his mate had agreed to this mating dance without a second thought.

Humans were so frivolous and apparently his Dib was no different.

His.

"What?" Dib finally asked, not trying to sound defensive but it came out that way—unsure what he was defending. It was a dance, he got invited, why should he feel guilty? "Jealous you don't have a date?" He jeered, hoping to put Zim back in his usual crazy mood.

But, it didn't work.

The prod felt like a nail in Zim's side but he wasn't goaded, "See you tomorrow Earth-smell." He sniffed, turning from Dib and stepping from the classroom with uncharacteristic care.

His civil comment and casual exit unsettled Dib.

Obviously this all could mean only one thing.

Zim was up to something, and Dib needed to figure out what it was.

Just like that Gretchen, the dance, love—

It was all purged from his mind as he stalked after the Irken.

/

A/N:

Blugh.

This is something. The first chapter is a bit choppy, but it gets better. It's going to be pretty short so hopefully it will actually be finished sometime soon. I'm trying to get my writing groove back so expect a lot of one-shots on my page and a few chapter updates in the next few months.

Thanks for reading.