Edit!; This chapter has been edited several times, and this entire story is subject to possibly getting a much more thorough rewrite soon.

Well, I've been writting for about five years, and now I'm finally putting something up for Internet review. This isn't the first fanfiction I've ever written, but it's the first one up on my account here; Swordmouse. I hope you enjoy!

Rated T to be safe, for languedge, romance, blood/bruises/cuts/general injury, highly possible violence, slightly possible blood/gore.

For those who dislike ZADR, this is a warning that this will contain it. It will be more of a close to cuddly friendship until about chapter six, after that, it turns more towards romance or whatever. :P

Any of my own opinions on Irken culture, languedge, paks, etc, is completely free for you to use in your own stuff, just don't copy my exact words or anything. :)

If you like it review! Reviews encourage me to work faster for you. I hope you enjoy!

~~~•~~~

"ZIM!? ANSWER ME YOU SPACE MONSTER!"

Smoke and ash got past oversized glasses into amber brown eyes and made them water and blink like their owner was going to cry.

Frantic, the tall, thin, raven-haired boy called again and again, varying the wording but always the same concept. He was digging through powdery ash, and jagged, greyed chunks of what had once been a disproportional greenish-blue house. Blackened bits and pieces still tossing up smoke trails, could hardly be considered a building of any kind any longer.

Within the earlier hours, while Dib had been in school, such a short span of time; within mere hours the entirety of the building Dib had stalked around and occasionally stolen inside, spent so much time around, his entire childhood...

It was gone.

Like so many things did in life, it was no longer what it looked like in the hundreds of photos Dib had taken.

Grey, black, red sparks from where tiny flames still licked anything they found edible.

Dib's eyes watered, and not from ash getting in them.

It wasn't supposed to end like this.

He'd gotten hints,

But this wasn't supposed to actually happen!

It was surreal; Dib had been here so many times before. Now, what made the whole cul-de-sac so memorable and important, the emotion inspiring landmark, the base of the enemy where so many battles had been lost and won, it was burned to the ground, soon to simply blow away. Erased.

Just gone. Like it had never been.

And the human couldn't handle that thought without a tremor running through him.

Dib dug through the remains until his hands were cut and starting to bleed from shards of metal and glass. He was panting, sweaty, and his eyes shimmered with the intensity of his confusion and... hurt. It was only the mild beginning of his reaction. He still couldn't believe. He didn't want to believe. Dib was in utter shock, a dream-like aura had flowed around his less then stable mind from the moment he'd learned what had happened that morning.

After almost six long years, Dib could never have seen this coming. It gave a cold, numb, 'betrayed trust in all that he held as truth' sort of feeling, beyond words, when the boy had sat down at his laptop that morning, expecting a normal day of spying on his nemesis via spy cams, and what Dib saw left him with the sickest, emptiest sensation. Everything that'd happened since Zim came to earth, the alien's LIFE, their war...

Was it really ending like THIS?

It felt like painful, slow hours before the far beyond distressed human uncovered something helpful. With a shockwave of relief and of victory, that made him throw back his head, he shook with an unsteady laugh as he knelt down amongst the rubble and looked through a hole, blackened around rough edges, bombed into the former 'floor' that could take him underground to the now-dark base.

Looking through the opening, straining his eyes, he could see almost nothing.

Didn't matter. Darkness had never stopped Dib before. It certainly wouldn't now.

Still shaky, the human did his best to slide down in through the hole, legs first, his sides and arms scratched and cut by the jagged metal rim of the opening, slipping his lower half down and hanging by his strong arms for a moment, before reaching out one hand, grabbing around blindly, straining to hang by only one limb. He felt a twisting in his midsection, a wretched realization of how stupid he was being, as his fingers started to slip. Then at last his searching hand found what he wanted and grabbed on hard enough to turn his knuckles white. Oh good. At least all those cords that made up the ceiling were still there. Holding his breath, Dib swung out his legs, hooking them around the mechanical tentacle, then let go with his last hand and wrapped both arms around his lifeline.

The cord was enormous, thick as a young tree. Oh, the devices Zim had powered using these enormous wires...

The earthling slid down towards the floor using the yet intact, dangling, enormous, broken cords that hung from walls and ceilings in a tangled mess that was both chaotic but orderly in an odd way. The 'design' had come to seem natural to Dib. After so many days, weeks, months, years, Dib was an expert at this; creeping around in Zim's base using ventilation shafts or other obscure means. He'd done this so many times.

This absolutely would not, COULD NOT be the last time.

As he descended into the near darkness, Dib breathed a sigh of relief to see it illuminated here and there by a few, foreign lights. Blinks and flickers and glows bathed the air with the resident alien's childish, favorite hues of pink and purple, making Dib's chest ache with a nostalgic sensation. The conqueror's love of such vibrant, yet soft, 'loving' sorts of colors had at first seemed hilarious, years ago, but had started to be... pathetically cute. It was almost like there was a softer side to the Irken himself. Dib was sure he'd caught fleeing glimpses of it now and then- that gentler, young, innocent part of the alien. The knowledge of it's existence, that Zim could FEEL, had slowly changed their fights a bit. Honestly, Dib didn't really didn't think he fought to kill anymore.

In fact he knew he hadn't.

Especially over the course of their past year.

THEIR past year. Dib included Zim in everything, it was always 'them' 'we' 'us' 'ours', because without Zim, it was just him. Alone.

But the last twelve months, give or take a few, he'd seen Zim wither, as a sad fear became a constant shadow in those red eyes. Dib knew what it was. Zim had taken too long. It was past the point where he could redeem himself. Earth wasn't conquered.

Apparently, the tallest had finally had this brought to their attention, and hadn't been pleased.

When he jumped to the metal floor, Dib's combat boots hit the surface with a 'crack' that echoed hauntingly through the space now quiet as death.

Dark and quiet. Empty. Unanswering.

Dib's heart began to hammer.

The depths of Zim's lab had never been a friendly place. Now it was pitch black and enslaved into silence.

If not for his determination, the human would have paused to consider if maybe this was such a good idea after all.

Ever the obsessive compulsive little boy he ever was.

In a fumbling second, Dib's flashlight was pulled out of his trenchcoat pocket and flicked on, providing a bit of comfort. Yet in different ways, it caused even more fearful suspense for its holder. There was something about the kind of light that came from a flashlight, and it's limited reach, that could easily make anything look horrifying.

Dib ran the beam of light around him in a slow circle, hand trembling.

The place's destruction was obvious, with many random things- most noticeably large alien 'furniture'- flipped over, smashed into pieces, or burned, but the paranormal investigator, for once in his life, was not here to observe and spy, dissect and grow in his knowledge of his enemy.

"Z-Zim?"

The metallic boot-falls sounded off loud snaps as they hit the floor, as Dib took off running as fast as he could, starting to call the former invader's name urgently. His ears strained for an answer beyond his own voice echoing back to him, empty and reflecting his pain and fear, treacherous.

~•~

Human beings need social interaction. Friends, family, lovers, even enemies, they all fill a bit of the needs people have.

Some people don't have a lot. Their families may be abusive or neglectful, and they may have no true friends or lovers.

No matter how one considers them; friend, family, lover, enemy; the fewer one has, the more one admires them.

Bonds are formed slowly, over time.

Categorization- freind, family, lover, enemy; that's easily bent and twisted.

When anything is 'all one has', it becomes precious, and stretches until in one's mind, it covers all categories.

Dib didn't have much.

"ZIIIIIIMMMM!"

Could an Irken forge an understanding of such things; An alien conqueror, with preditorial ancestry?

Killing, enslaving, conquering, dominating.

Could he form a bond, and maybe recognize when 'enmity' was slipping? Even if he did seem to have moments where he struggled with the forbidden 'emotions' that didn't instantly make it possible for an alien species to possess that level of 'humanity' in emotions.

"ZIM ANSWER ME!"

Just look at what his own kind did to the little invader! Could Zim, one of THEM, an irken, even understand any feeling towards another accept hatred, at all, ever?

Just look, think, of what they did to him.

Dib's own face was taunt with an unwanted share in the other's agony as he called, eyes watering from emotion and everything that had gotten in to irritate them.

Dib had seen it all on his computer, through the lens of a spy-cam. At first it was astonishing. It had been a long time since Dib had managed to catch anything worth-while on tape.

Zim had been hiding a lot, in deeper parts of his lab, where Dib had no way to watch him.

Zim had gotten a transmission from his tallest. That spy footage had been dated for the middle of last night.

The camera's distance, and the fact that they were speaking in irken, had made it impossible to understand at first.

As the ordeal progressed, Dib lost his happy excitement for an opposite feeling, as desperate pleas, what sounded like begging, overpowered Zim's voice when he tried to answer to his far away masters.

Zim's leaders decided they'd had enough, so on a whim, for their own sick amusement it seemed to Dib, they disowned, banished, and insulted their loyal soldier. They made him a target to all his own kind, and to get their point across they sent other Irken elite to his base, to have 'fun' with Zim.

Irkens were so disgustingly violent. Preditorial. Dib was reminded of the coliseums of ancient Rome. Their entertainment meant screaming, blood, guts, pain.

"ZIM, ANSWER ME NOW!"

They tortured Zim. Tore him up, then forced him to walk, run, crawl, stretch, whatever would cause the most pain with his newest injuries. They went on, doing any and every cruelty they could. For hours. The camera footage had showed it all.

And Zim OBEYED.

He had always obeyed. All the little alien had ever done was to beak his back for some scrap of acceptance and approval, he put his every ounce of strength into being a good little Irken, slaveing away for his leaders.

It was almost like he still thought he had a chance, almost like he thought if he could pass this horrible, twisted 'test' he'd be accepted and his value proven. This was how he was re-paid for all his unfathomable loyalty all his life. His adored leaders sent other irkens to beat him, probably beyond limits most of Dib's race could suffer without dying. They near shredded him.

Then they abandoned him.

They left him to die.

"ZIM WHERE ARE YOU?"

So altogether, it shouldn't have been particularly surprising, especially with the added verbal abuse and his almost completely shot emotions filter, that Zim had finally begun to crack under the pressure.

After so many hints, such a long time, Zim began to see that he really was unwanted, he stood no chance, held no value in his praised, glorified, 'holy' leaders eyes. Any chance he'd ever been given he had failed. And he had started to cry.

After long enough the pain was just too much, even for him.

Zim had started to cry.

And it had only encouraged his aggressors to do even worse.

"ZIM, PLEASE ANSWER!"

Dib had never seen Zim cry before and even just viewing it through the camera, a recording taken automatically via computer hours before the boy got home to watch it; it had shocked Dib to the core. He didn't stay to watch the whole recording. The things they did to his 'enemy' made his stomach clench and twist.

"ZIM PLEASE! IF YOU'RE ALIVE ANSWER ME NOW! LET ME KNOW WHERE YOU ARE!

ANSWER ME!

IM NOT HERE TO HURT YOU!

P-PLEASE..."

He got no answer.

Dib was frightened. He really was. He was frightened, shocked, and... In pain. He felt pain, for Zim. Without thinking he found himself mourning the little green being that had put so much light and meaning into his life.

~•~

It took a while to find the broken body. Zim hadn't wanted to be found.

Eventually, after trekking through many dead, soul-less halls, and the feeling that he'd come too late had gotten too strong for a few gasping sobs and many more tears to be stopped, and the boy couldn't keep from shaking violently, no matter how much he concentrated, Dib's ears had caught the quietest little sound.

"ZIM?!"

Turning and bolting as if running from his own death, Dib ran hard in the direction he thought it'd come from.

The earthling found what he was looking for curled up in a pool of its own blood, inside an emptied storage closet of some sort. Dib felt everything inside him drop for a second at the first shock. His shoulders sagged and all the air went out of his lungs with a horrified, heart-stabbed whimpering sound.

His first reaction, Dib's first conclusive assessment, was that Zim was dead.

That meant...

So much...

No.

That meant...

Never again.

Never again would he see that triumphant grin, hear the teasing, egotistical voice that had kept him going for so long, that had... never again would he... Zim... It was all gone. Taken away from his life. Over. The very thought was preparing to shove him over the edge of his sanity. Dib couldn't move, he stood fixed to the spot, staring. He didn't believe it. He didn't want to believe it.

Never again... It was over... It was all over.

Wait...

Gir, no Gir's head, was being hugged to the little alien's chest with every last ounce, every tiny scrap of Zim's strength that was left.

And apparently, there was some strength left.

The movement was so slight and soundless but his chest still rose and fell. Gir's head was dented and broken, and the body was nowhere to be seen. Zim's attackers made sure not to leave anything for the Irken to live for. The idea that they would even take away Gir from the little green warrior; GIR! Who had done nothing wrong in his life; that had Dib clenching his fists. The blue eyes of the robot had dimmed to black. Gir was gone. But from slight movements and other things, Dib could see he wasn't too late for the one he came for. Zim was still save-able.

Thank god.

Dib's brown eyes automatically took in Zim's every feature as he shown his flash-lights beam on the alien.

Zim's eyes almost mirrored Gir's. They looked like dying holiday lights, faded black, with hardly the slightest hint of red lighting their centers. The optic orbs still dripped bright tears, and one was twitching, and dripping some other, more dark fluid as well, the eyelid half closed, the area swelled and bruised.

The other eye was still functioning. It narrowed, pained by the sudden light, then formed a wide, horrified oval when it recognized Dib kneeling down next to him. A whimper escaped the cut up, bloodied green throat. Zim tried to squirm further into the corner, even though his face scruntched up in horrible pain at the effort.

Dib felt as if something metal had hooked into his chest and begun to tear its way out.

"Zim..."

Dib didn't know what to say. What he was looking at seemed to define agony and hopelessness and it left him feeling almost dizzy, weak and empty but clenched in his midsection. He could never have imagined seeing Zim in a state like this. This wasn't the Zim he'd known. Dib's amber eyes were wide, confused, and trying to hide his fear.

He didn't really think he even knew why he'd come. He'd just felt so consumed with emotions, desperate feelings of pain and horror, controlled by the look on Zim's face he'd seen through the camera, the look of mind-blowing trauma.

Any detailed plan for what Dib had intended to do once he'd found Zim however, was buried in Dib's subconscious.

As a human, he felt pity for other's suffering. Maybe he just felt some perverse need to comfort the tormented extra-terrestrial.

Zim was his enemy. The human could drag him out by the foot and expose him, get what he always thought he wanted.

But...

He would be a sick beast, a monster, if he could possibly look at this broken victim and even think of that now.

All it took was one glance, and the alien practically pulled Dib's heart-strings out. Signs of inflicted injury covered every inch of his small, thin, fragile looking body. Deep cuts and horribly large, dark bruises spared no part of that vibrantly green skin. Zim's clothes were torn up, boots gone, one foot looking crushed, very simply the wrong shape, and twitching. Small hands, one still gloved, one not, clutched to what was left of the closest thing the Irken ever had to a family or friend; his broken, dead robot's HEAD. Zim's facial expression was the climax of it all; beyond horror. He looked beyond terrified, shocked, as eyes that refused to focus settled on Dib.

Dib? Here? No! That couldn't happen! He'd suffered enough!

Oh please let it be that he was just seeing things, hallucinating.

PLEASE!

He just wanted to die...

He wanted to die...

He had nothing left...

He had nothing.

He'd failed. No one wanted him.

There was no more point or reason for anything for him.

He wasnt worth anything and HE JUST. WANTED. TO DIE.

And the realization of the things that boy could do to him now, now that he was too weak to fight, made him wish he was dead more then ever.

Dib would torture him even more. He'd be vivisected.

All he wanted now was for the pain to end. It was beyond everything he'd ever felt, because the worst damage wasn't physical.

Dib just sat and stared, looking half as shocked as the being before him. He just didn't know what to do. He had to pause, he had to think.

Zim watched him through eyes and a mind, both clouded from abuse, fearful, suspenseful, like a cornered animal.

Why was Dib there?

At last, the human carefully reached out a hand. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do exactly, but he'd made up his mind that somehow, someway, he had to help Zim. He couldn't call himself anything about a revolting sadist if he didn't help his enemy now.

The extra-terrestrial had suffered beyond what Dib felt almost anyone could deserve.

And now whether the alien liked it or not, Dib intended to fix the broken little creature. He'd made up his mind on that.

At the mere sight of the outstretched hand, the former conqueror yelped, mustering his fading strength and courage to ignore his pain and try desperately to push away. "Nakchz! D-Di-, hrk!" Zim couldn't talk. He'd either broken his translator in his pak and was babbling Irken, or his vocal cords had received their share of torment too. The voice was raspy, with a gurgle of blood or saliva or both. Zim's pine-green, bruised and cut lips twitched, a bit of pinkish blood dripping out of his mouth, and he choked, whole body wincing pitifully at how much such little things could sting and burn and tear. The pain from just coughing, just trying to move, raged in his body like fire and he could hardly even stiffen against it without more horror.

"I won't... I won't hurt you... I promise."

Dib barely realized what he was saying, and the words tasted so foreign in his mouth. He'd never had something or someone to be gentle with.

Why was he being gentle now? It confused a small part of him, made him frustrated. Zim was his enemy! He could drag Zim out for all to see, rub his victory into the invader's face, experiment and run tests on the little... Fragile... Broken...nearly crying... Nearly dead... Zim.

He could never do such a thing. He just wasn't that cruel. The sight of Zim like this made him feel ill as it should. Human nature and morals were like two people holding an anvil over his head, ready to crush him with it if he went against them.

"I-I won't hurt you. Really. Hold still. Just... Just do what I say."

Zim didn't hear or understand the boy unfortunately, so the words were for nothing. Dib just kept moving his palm forward, slowly and carefully. He was trying not to startle the little alien, who he had grown much larger then by now and was thus very intimidating in his very appearance.

His attempts to look any less threatening weren't working. Zim was terrified.

The irken squirmed, writhing in an attempt to pull away from the hand that, withought a doubt, could only hold more pain for him. Crushing, scratching, punching. His short, whimpery, gasping/panting sounds and jerky movements to escape grew more desperate every second. Zim's back was arching, legs kicking out, hands still clinging to his dead, robotic servant. The irken opened his mouth wide to show sharp teeth and gave an animalistic hiss.

Dib had never heard him make a sound like that before.

Still ever so slowly, the human was closing the distance, his palm now clearly aiming for Zim's head. The hiss had startled Dib enough to make him pause, the Irken had made a point to show his pronounced fangs, but the hiss ended in a whimper and a weak cough, rendering it less then worrisome.

Dib had drawn back, but then reached forward again, unfettered, hesitant but quicker then before.

Zim's eyes couldn't get any wider.

No! No please! Just let him die! Just let him die! Zim just wanted to die! No more pain!... Please!... He couldn't even speak, couldn't even voice his thoughts- his pleas for mercy. If only Dib would just kill him, end it, quickly. He had enough kindness in his heart to at least KILL him, didn't he?

All he asked for was death. Perhaps it was too haughty a want for one so low as him; assuming his worth from what the tallest had said. But surely Dib, as the hero, would be gracious and end him.

No more pain. Oh please...

His eyes unfocused in a dizzy spell, falling half unconscious before swinging back into his previous state of mind only to see the moment Dib finally touched him.

Zim yelped the moment warm skin pressed against his own cold forehead. His body tensed, despite how much it killed him to do so.

No horrible, new pain followed. Dib's hand was just sitting on top of his head, pressing ever so lightly against him. Zim didn't dare look up. He just lay frozen, curled into a ball, clinging to Gir's remain's harder then ever, face to his knees which were pulled up to him, sheltering his vital organs and the metal memorial of his loyal pet and servant. Zim was shaking, trembling badly, his breathing was fast and raspy, laced with whimpering.

The idea he would let himself fall so low was unfathomable to anyone who knew what he was normally like.

Dib was shocked seeing Zim like this, yet... On some almost sick level, mildly, morbidly, fascinated.

Dib had never gotten to touch the little alien before, other then a brief shove, a punch, a kick. Zim was so... Even the feel of his skin was different, foreign, fascinating. Completely hairless yet rather... soft. Perhaps more firm then human skin? Not scaly, he didn't think.

Even now his curiosity with how very unearthly Zim was, made itself heard. It was something that could rarely be held down, like a wild horse. His brain never stopped questioning. It was part of his personality.

And he suddenly realized... He had so much power over the alien now. It gave him a sweet rush and the corners of his lips tweaked upwards, just slightly, for a moment.

Ever so carefully, Zim finally turned his head to look up, also trying to pull away, his antenna flinched flat back against his skull. He was begging Dib with his eyes, that in some way, the boy would end this; one eye dying and unmoving and black, the other wide as it could get and teary, his mouth trying to remain a strait line, but edging towards a look like he might cry again, quivering helplessly. Traumatized.

Dib found an idea hiding on the edge of his mind, that maybe, if Zim's own kind didn't want him... Maybe... He did. And he knew he did. He felt so strongly about it. It was like some protective instinct, he didn't know how to explain it to his more logical, rational side. He had no idea how to justify it; except maybe... At least, perhaps, it might benefit him in some way? To save and fix Zim, the irken would be in his dept. To have Zim... On his side in some way, under his control, to count on Zim to do something for him...

He had always thought of Zim as his nemesis. It seemed only logical that he rationalize his deep need to help, and the pain he felt from seeing Zim in pain.

Then an idea came to him, so revolutionary to his Zim-related-thought-process, that he outwardly grinned to himself.

Going with this plan... He'd won.

He'd won, not like he'd planned to win... All these years of battles against Zim... But perhaps this was even better.

Irkens were a hive species. They served their leaders like ants or Beas with their queens. Zim had been willing to go through torture for acceptance from his previous tallest, and now that he was abandoned, he would be desperate, Dib assumed, to bond to the first suitable person he saw, like a baby bird imprinting on a parent.

"I'm your leader now Zim."

His tone was a mixture of suggestion, and you-have-no-say-in-this, and Zim stared, going blank, still terrified and horribly pained, now perhaps... confused. He could barely hear Dib with his damaged antenna, and wondered if he'd understood correctly. He barely had enough sense to bother with words anymore, but something about that statement broke through his agony-clouded conscious.

What on earth did Dib mean?

It sounded somewhat terrifying.

Irkens needed tallests, it was both programmed into their paks, and a natural instinct. It overrode everything else.

Dib knew this.

If he could just find out how to have Zim's pak imprint on him...

After losing his original leaders, it shouldn't be too hard, Zim needed a tallest for a purpose to live after all, and if Dib gave him any hint that he could offer a life worth living, he was sure the alien would be worshipping him in no time.

This idea almost completely overshadowed being famous. Dib couldn't believe he'd never thought of this before. As a kid, fame and fortune as a paranormal investigator to go down in history, had seemed an appropriate dream, if mildly cliche.

As a teen with more insight, he knew what he really needed was attention, and... Some real friends... He really needed some healthy social interaction. Very, very badly. Even just one person to interact with in a slightly more personal way. Someone who'd bother to, maybe even care about him. To even DO things for him... To care about his opinions and thoughts. To be on his side.

Zim, on HIS side, always AT his side. Following, helping, talking, listening. To have someone whom he could count on in any level... That's what being Zim's tallest would mean, and far more then that. Dib's wish would be Zim's command, and Dib could always have company.

And he could make Zim do ANYTHING.

Honestly, it would work out great even for Zim! Zim would not just be VALUABLE to Dib, Zim would be treasured and protected by Dib. Dib needed Zim, needed the attention he could get from him. Zim would get to be NEEDED by his tallest. From what Dib had guessed, based off what he'd hacked Zim's computers to read of the alien's culture, there was nothing that would make Zim feel so good, so happy as for his leaders to really NEED him.

Rationalize, rationalize, rationalize.

Think. Think. Think.

What Dib was Dib for.

So maybe... Things might... turn up from now forward- for both of them. Dib never thought one of his wants would be Zim's happiness, but, it... Seemed to be. After seeing Zim like this, he couldn't help but desire to brush a smile onto the other. Both had simmiliar wants and desires, they longed for acceptance and attention... It just made sense to go together in a more healthy, amiable, productive relationship.

Also, through the years, Dib had gained a great enjoyment for getting control over the dominating alien.

He so often had so little control. He wanted control. Even if he didn't realize it, his helplessness against the cruel hand of fate in his life, had made him crave power. As Zim's tallest, Zim would have to obey the human cheerfully. Dib could get Zim to do ANYTHING really. Anything he wanted.

Dib looked down, coming back out of his thoughts, seeing Zim still looking up pleadingly, trying to writhe away like a half-crushed bug on the blood-covered, cold, unforgiving metal floor.

Why had Dib just been sitting there, not hurting him, staring into space? It didn't make sense. It worried Zim.

Dib just reached out again, now with both arms, almost eagerly, trying not to grin. The sight of him grinning would probably terrify the Irken. He was just so thrilled with this idea! Zim had no say in this. Zim was his now, and Dib would have total control.

The boy slipped one arm under Zim's bony shoulders, around his pak, and the other under Zim's knees, his expression firm and determined, fascinated by his new charge, and zealous.

The forced movement hurt, and Zim bit back a cry, but he still hugged what was left of his robot, never letting go of what had been taken from him, as Dib began to lift him. His head spun, and his squiddily spooch lurched. He lost even the ability to squirm to attempt to get away, tensing before going limp.

Powerless in Dib's hands.

"I-I'm gunna patch you up Zim."

The alien tried to look up, confused, thoughts still clouded by pain and terror. Dib had complete control over him and it was clear that he knew this.

Dib stood, holding Zim, trying to hold his flashlight as well so he could find the alien's medical bay. He knew it was around here somewhere.

"Things should get quite interesting now for us..." Dib was talking half to Zim, half to himself, with a smirk at the idea of all the possibilities open to them now.

Zim gave no answer. He was out of his mind with pain.

Dib glanced down, and felt a moment of pity wash over him. That need to comfort began pulling and shoving at him. He have in to it.

"Everything should be okay, Zim."

His voice was soft. He wasn't used to trying to reassure.

Everything would be all right?

After everything he'd been through, this wasn't easy for Zim to believe, but of course he really hoped that could possibly be true. He was still sane at the moment; and no right-minded creature would want to stay in his current state. So of course he hoped against reason it would be true; though it was a horribly suspicious thing to hear, coming from his enemy.

Zim wasn't sure what was happening. He felt pain at Dib moving him, and the human's arms pressing up against his bruised back and legs hurt against his injuries, but he felt oddly... Just a tiny bit... Safer, just a tiny bit, peaceful even, at least compared to before. It made no sense, it was practically mystifying. Something about the presence and touch, the warmth in being held, held protectively against the boy's chest, and Dib trying to be GENTLE, not TRYING to hurt him, was like a lullaby to the half-conscious former invader. Never in his over 150 years of life, had he been touched in a non-painful manner, except maybe mild, accidental brushes and bumps. Zim didn't understand it at all, and in a way it worried him. But at least the soft gentleness, the pull for him to fall asleep, dulled the pain.

Oh sweet relief.

All Zim really wanted at this particular point was a purpose, and something to null the pain.

Death had seemed like a good option... But if there was even the slightest bit of hope to cling to...

When Dib said he'd be his taller, to Zim's sheer horror, now that he, on a dazed whim, thought about it, he found his pak had leapt at the offer. Nothing Zim could have done could have stopped it. He was imprinted now, or at least in the process of becoming so. He was as vulnerable as he could possibly be to his worst enemy... But he could sense no immediate, clear hostility in Dib's obvious happiness at his victory. And it was victory for Dib. He won.

He seemed gleeful at his gained control over Zim, but other then that, the human's intentions were hard to determine.

He... wanted Zim, in some way, liked Zim, didn't he?

Maybe Dib even needed Zim?

Maybe... Just maybe...

Somehow...

The very thought flared up the irken's desperate hope and he shifted in the human's warm, warm, soft, sweet arms.

Was it possible; Dib needed Zim? Human's WERE notoriously needy as far as social stuffs.

Then Zim needed Dib. He just needed to be needed. That was all. Was it so much to ask? The tallest made it sound like death was too good for him, but if there was even the slightest chance, one tiny chance. Just one. Just a tiny little chance.

That he could so much as hope.

For something better...

Zim fidgeted in his new tallest's arms again, still injured and still shaking with nervousness, and weakened muscles. Dib had to at least WANT him to assist with things, have things for him to do for him. Dib HAD to have a purpose for him.

Just a purpose to live. Oh how he'd welcome it.

There was so much to trouble Zim. He'd thought his life was over. Any good, not-defective Irken would have self-destructed.

But... He didn't want to die. He still... Had hope. Even then, alone, dying, utterly lost in his own home. He still had had just the weakest drip of hope. Maybe, just maybe...

He'd thought of Dib, more then once then. Something about the human had caused him to come to mind. Maybe it was a premonition to this. Could he have seen this coming in some ridiculous way?

Dib was giving him another chance! This was just what he wanted- wasn't it?

But what if Dib abused him constantly? Like he'd been abused today. Dib hated him, didn't he? Why would he help him? The fear of the unknown was the worst kind, but this was a two-sided coin, and from what Zim could see of the possible good side, and his other choices, risking it all ...looked worth it.

... Maybe ...