Chapter 22 - not for Irkens

The rest of the afternoon went by without much trouble, and by the time evening rolled around, the twins were bushed. Relieved, Zim and Zia carried the girls to the sleep chamber they'd had prepared. Zia tucked them into their crib lovingly. Ziam curled up with the stuffed puppy she'd had before, and Maiz just kicked off the blankets and sprawled out on the mattress.

Zim leaned on the railing of the crib, watching them, and let out a contented sigh. Zim put a hand on her shoulder, and she glanced over at him. "They look so innocent when they're sleeping," he said.

She smiled, "I don't know about you, but I'm gonna sleep really well tonight."

Zim nodded, "Most definitely." He yawned, " time like the present." He took Zia's hand in his and they walked off together.

* * * At about 3 o'clock, the door to Zim & Zia's room slid open, and in walked the twins. Both were fully awake and looking as energized as ever. Maiz was leading, with Ziam close behind, dragging her toy along with her. They both used their metallic legs to climb up on their parent's bed.

Maiz crawled on top of her sleeping father, and giggling, turned to her sister. She put a finger to her lips, "Shh." Ziam nodded, crawling across the bed in between her parents. Maiz, still trying to suppress her own giggles, lifted a fist and brought it down quickly, bopping Zim where his nose should be.

Zim awoke, disoriented. "What the -" He sighed and propped himself up on his elbows. "Honey.we have company."

"Mmm?" Zia stirred, and looked over at him, "Oh.girls, what are you doing in here?"

"Up!" Ziam said cheerfully.

"Hungry!" Maiz added, putting her hands down on Zim's chest as forcefully as a one-day-old could.

Zim rolled his eyes, "What do you mean you're hungry? You only ate nine hours ago," he said, glancing at the digital clock on the wall.

"Hungry!!" Maiz said again.

Zim groaned. Zia shook her head. "I'll go get them something. You just keep them here." She climbed out of bed and left the room.

Zim sat up, and Maiz slid off of his chest and into his lap. "You're really enjoying this, aren't you?" he asked her, to which she smiled angelically and hugged him around the middle.

At that same moment, GIR, who had been asleep at the edge of the bed, woke up! "BABIES!! Morning!!"

"No, GIR," Zim said, annoyed, "No it's not."

"Aww." GIR said. Then he picked up Ziam and hugged her, "Hi baby!!"

"Hi, GIR!" Ziam said.

Leaning against the far wall, APU sighed and shook his head at the idiocy. "Your disciplinary skills leave something to be desired, Zim," he said curtly.

Zim pretended he didn't hear. He looked down at Maiz, who was now sucking her thumb boredly. He sighed again and put a hand on the top of her head. She looked up at him, shrugged and turned back to stare at her sister and GIR.

The door slid open again, and Zia returned, with a baby bottle in each hand. She sat back on the bed, handing one to Maiz, and then taking Ziam from GIR. Ziam took the bottle gratefully, as did Maiz.

Zia gently rocked Ziam in her arms, trying to coax her to sleep as she drank. It seemed to be working, as the little Irken's eyes began drooping. Maiz drained her bottle and tossed it on the floor, and then she yawned. Zim grinned. His will could outlast hers. He was sure of it.

Three hours later, the girls finally nodded off. Their parents had been sleeping for an hour already. Only GIR and APU remained awake.

APU shook his head, "This is kind of pathetic."

"Huh?" GIR said, looking over at him.

"They have no control over the girls," APU said, "How can they expect to earn their respect if they let them get away with anything they want?"

GIR thought for a moment. You could hear the gears in his head spin. Then they overheated his head and he zonked out, falling face-down on the mattress.

APU groaned and left to make his rounds.

* * *

Elsewhere, that same night, the disguised Tallest and their SIR-children were all stuck at the Air Port in between NYC and NWV (Nowhere'sVille). The plane had run into bad weather and was forced to stop for the night. The place was deserted except for the aliens in disguise, as all the other passengers checked into hotels for the night.

Purple leaned his head on Red's shoulder and moaned, "I hate this planet."

"What's not to hate?" Red asked wearily, "I just decided - I really want Zim to conquer this place so we can wipe out all these idiots."

"Yeah, that'd be nice," Purple said, and the yawned, "Maybe we should send him those battle tanks after all."

"Let's not go too far, now," Red said, "I'm too tired and miserable to make good decisions."

"I'm too tired to think," Purple said, "And these contacts are driving me nuts." He rubbed his eyes tenderly.

"Hey - just be thankful you don't have to wear these shoes," Red said, kicking off his high heels, "My feet are killing me..."

"How long should this take," Purple asked, "once we get to Zim's base?"

"Not long, I hope," Red said brushing a strand of hair out of his eyes, "Once we get those documents, the death threats should stop. Then we can go back home."

"I'm homesick already," Purple said, pulling his knees up to his chest and hugging them.

Red chuckled and put an arm around his fellow Tallest. "You always were the sensitive one, Pur," he said. [A/N: They're just best friends!! That's all!!]

Purple grinned, "And you were always the insensitive one." Then he yawned again and dozed off.

Red shook his head, smiling in spite of himself. Then he turned to the Sir- children. "Sleep-mode, guys. At ease." The SIR-children all sat down simultaneously and switched to stand-by, leaving only the emergency sensors on. Red watched them and then fell asleep as well.

* * *

"GAK!!! We're going to be late for skool!!" Zim cried. He had just woken up and realized that it was almost 8 o' clock! Zia bolted upright, startled awake by his yelling. Maiz and Ziam were also both rudely awakened, and neither of them was happy about it.

Maiz looked about to cry, but she realized no one was paying attention to her, so she decided against it, and just sat, pouting, on the bed as her parents rushed around trying to get ready for skool.

Zim and Zia made record time and were up in the living room with the girls in ten minutes. Zia put the kids on the couch and kissed them both on the head. Then she turned to APU and GIR who were standing off to one side, awaiting instructions. "Just try and keep the base in one piece, ok?" she said, "We'll be back around 3:30."

Both robots saluted, and the adult Irkens hurried out the door.

* * *

"You look a little tired, Zim," Dib said, at the beginning of class, before the bell rang, "The little ones giving you trouble?" Zim said nothing, so Dib continued, "Where are they, anyway? Don't tell me you left them at home with the robots!"

Zim was about to reply when Ms. Bitters' shadow appeared in the room, with the actual teacher following soon after [A/N: It's creepy how she does that, no? ^_^]. "Take your seats, children," she barked, and Dib went grudgingly back to his desk along with the rest of the class.

* * *

Class seemed to drag on forever, and everyone was glad when the final bell rang. There was a stampede of children heading for the door, and no one was surprised when a few of them got trampled underfoot. Once the crowd was gone, Zim and Zia stepped from the building.

"The humans never cease to surprise me," Zia said, wide-eyed as the headed down the front steps of the Skool.

Zim shrugged, "I would have thought you'd have gotten used to them by now," he said, "I long have you been here?"

Zia stopped walking, "I'm not sure.Maybe six months?"

"That long?" Zim asked, shocked.

Zia grinned at his expression, "I know, doesn't seem possible, does it?"

Zim nodded, "It's certainly been six months."

"Yeah." she agreed, "But we'd better get home now."

* * *

"Well.the house is in one piece," Zia said, as she and Zim walked up the front walk of the base.

"That's a good sign," Zim said.

When he swung the front door open, however, their hopes were quickly extinguished. The inside of the house was a total wreck. Food was splattered on the walls, the couch was over-turned, the TV was on its side, and there was no sign of anyone.

Zim's jaw hit the floor in disbelief. "How could two infants and two robots make such a mess in seven hours?!?!?"

"Girls!!" Zia called out, looking panicked, "Where are you?!?"

In seconds, Maiz and Ziam emerged from the elevator in the floor and ran to their mother. Zia dropped to her knees and gathered them in her arms. "Don't scare me like that," she told them, hugging them tight, "Did you make all this mess?"

"Maybe," Maiz said, and both girls giggled.

Zim looked around, "Hey.where are GIR and APU?"

As if on cue, the elevator in the floor opened up again and the robots emerged, weary and bedraggled. APU looked around angrily, as if he'd been chasing the girls, and GIR sunk to the floor, exhausted. APU spotted the twins, safely in the arms of their mother, and his eyes narrowed.

"I hope you've realized how much trouble those two have caused today," he said indignantly, marching over to Zia, "It's a miracle the neighbors are so ignorant that they don't notice."

"We had fun!" GIR said, and then fell over on his side, asleep.

Zim rolled his eyes, "Something tells me we weren't cut out for this parenting thing."

APU snorted, "Tell me something I don't know."

"And just what is that supposed to mean??" Zim demanded.

Before APU could answer, Zia cut in, "What do you mean, APU?"

"I'm sorry, Mistress," APU said, letting his hands drop to his sides, "And it's not really your fault - I blame him mostly -," he jerked a thumb at Zim, "But your lack of parental experiences is well.hindering your ability to raise the Schmeets properly."

"It's only been one day," Zia said, standing up, "Give us a break."

APU scowled, "Ziam hacked into the security system and made the alarms go off this morning. While I went rushing off, thinking we were in danger, Maiz raided the fridge."

"I can't believe this!" Zim said and APU looked relieved, "Hacking at only two days old!! That's my girl!!" Zim picked up Ziam and held her up above his head proudly.

APU smacked himself in the forehead, and then rallied again, "The hatchlings need discipline, Mistress. You have to start the early, or they'll never respect you."

"Is respect really what we're aiming for?" Zia asked, looking down at Maiz, "I thought parenting had some sort of love-bond involved."

"Well.maybe." APU said, "But you won't get them to behave that way."

"Hmmm." Zim said, holding Ziam at eye level, "You have a point.but the only discipline I know of is from training in the Irken Army. Hmmm."

"Don't get any ideas," Zia said, her eyes narrowing like an anime character.