Starships and Spitwads
Pairing: Zim & Dib Friendship (ZaDF)
Disclaimer: Jhonen Vasquez gets all the glory for these two.
Warnings: Not many…Perhaps a little OOC-ness, and slight language.
Author's note: Well this is a…surprising return. How long has it been since I posted any fanfiction?
I couldn't help but want to write a story about these two. Apparently I live under a rock, because at the ripe old age of 19 I've only now discovered Invader Zim. And what a great discovery that was.
This really isn't supposed to be ZaDR-y, but going in with preconceived notions takes out all the fun, so please, I encourage you to interpret it as you wish.
My overall goal in writing this was to stay as in-character as possible. I love these guys, so I wanted to capture them as best I could. I hope that you can give me some feedback on how you think I did.
The newly green light stung Dib's eyes in the sweetest way possible. Alien still in his arms, Dib sat up and looked down, slowly putting an arm around Zim before the other made its way around as well. He hugged him softly, surprised to find his 'nemesis' not quite budging, before he scooted a bit and shifted, wanting to go over and make sure he wasn't imagining what had just happened.
"Zim…" He inched over again and found his cheeks getting a little hot, even as he smiled. Zim didn't even seem to be moving. How had all of this changed between them in such a short time? Wait…it hadn't been that short a time, had it?
Finding he couldn't push Zim off him no matter how curious he was, the boy sighed and reciprocated awkwardly, still having trouble showing this kind of affection towards someone he had always tried to hate so much. Did Zim even know what that green light meant? He couldn't suspect he did. So what was this even about?
"Look…nyah!…" Gently dislodging Zim and standing up, taking Zim by the arm, he pulled him up alongside and looked down into the big red eyes unsurely. He had no idea why Zim was acting this way towards him, but there was something even more shocking going on.
Dib all but dragged the Irken over to the corner where the Voot carrier sat, a bit dented, somewhat dull in its luster but quite well reformed and reshaped from the hours of hard work, with its pink-purple hatch glowing a sort of mossy purple in the bright green light that emanated out from the laptop screen nearby. With a shaky and startled smile, he pointed to the big letters that beamed out and lit up the rest of the room.
"I did it!" he said emphatically and hopped a little bit in his shock and enthusiasm, turning to stare into Zim's equally startled eyes.
"I fixed it! I know you…You kind of didn't give it to me, but…" He smiled guiltily and shrugged, arms up and waving around emphatically. "I really…I took it after you left and I've been working on it ever since. I know I kind…owe you…I guess." Dib was surprised. That wasn't as hard to say as he thought it would be.
"I dunno if it's totally right…" The whole fixing-the-PAK thing hadn't gone over too well, but he had done his best. The thing had charged up. That meant his wiring had to have gone at least semi-properly.
Looking down, surprised to hear the other speak, Dib watched the Irken as he gazed right up at him with his little arms outstretched. He watched the small hands grip at the air and smiled slowly, shrugging a bit as the confusion set in. Had he really only done this for Zim? He supposed he had done it to keep himself busy, to keep his mind off of his own guilt about forcing Zim to a life on Earth, but now that it was really fixed…
"Maybe you don't have a PAK! But you can…go back to Irk, right?!" Dib reasoned and stared at the little Irken, smiling a sad smile. He felt less guilty now, true. He had actually done something that might help Zim. He could go back to his home planet, get his PAK fixed, maybe even go back to taking over planets, different planets…
Planets that weren't Earth.
Before he could have another thought, Dib had to reach up and wipe his eyes. Why hadn't he realized it before? He had gone to Rot to bring Zim BACK to Earth, yes, but now he had given him a way to leave it again, to leave Earth for good. To leave HIM for good. Dib was tired of running, running after nothing. Maybe he really was that selfish.
Looking over, he watched Zim step over towards the Voot and inspect it, probably suspicious.
No, Dib thought, biting his lip. He couldn't keep him there. He had tried before and he couldn't force Zim to do that. People had been forcing Dib all his life, to go to a school where everyone hated him, to be a 'real' scientist like his dad, to act 'normal' like everybody else. Dib didn't like it. It hurt.
Zim was hurting too, and he could tell. He had to give Zim a chance to get away from it all, even if Dib didn't have one himself.
Hearing beeping, the human glanced over and watched in slight surprise as the little Irken pushed open the glass hatch, climbing into his ship and plopping himself on the single driver's seat. Supposing he shouldn't be too startled that Zim wanted to check it out, Dib walked over and looked down at him awkwardly, somehow worrying that he might not find it satisfactory. He didn't really consider how strange it was to care what Zim thought about anything. He couldn't see Zim as an enemy anymore, or a nemesis, or even someone he just plain didn't like. Dib got Zim. At least, he felt like he did. And if Dib knew Zim, he knew what was going to happen next.
"Let me out, Dib-thing…!"
Dib looked down to find Zim, a startlingly unfamiliar and yet likely Zim, staring up at him with narrowed eyes and a demanding pose, feet folded beneath him as he sat in the chair and put one hand on the steering stick. The Irken flicked one red button with his middle finger and pointed demandingly up at the roof, leaving Dib to marvel at the oddness of his expression. In one way, he looked and acted JUST like he had when they met! It almost crept Dib out. That glare was directed right at him, and the loudness was just like Zim. Just like how Zim had been, anyway.
Something was different, though. Zim was yelling and demanding, and pointing, sure, but he was a bit…jerky, or something, maybe stiff. He almost looked like he was twitching. It was almost like he didn't seem sure of himself, or that he was trying too hard to be what he had been before so effortlessly.
Dib sighed and pushed the button to open the hatch on the top of their garage. It was a feature he had installed long ago after he had made the room his own personal lab, but he had never anticipated he would be using it for this particular purpose. The whirring buzzed in his ears as he watched Zim fidget strangely, taking a deep breath and trying to drown out the ringing in his ears. He had to be imagining it. Zim was back to normal. He had given the Zim a way to be just like his old self, and Zim was taking it.
The rush cold air that floated over Dib made him shiver as the hatch finished its automated sliding, leaving a big night sky filled with small stars directly in view. He looked over at Zim who had moved a hand to what Dib had learned (mostly due to all the rewiring he had done) was the ON switch for the engine and waited, holding his breath. Maybe it wouldn't work. Maybe Zim really WOULD be stuck here…Maybe…
A whirring thrum brought his attention to the engine barrels at the back, which were now vibrating slightly and letting from each opening a distorting stream of heat that blurred the toolboxes and pipes that were against the garage wall. Dib's heart leapt and dropped simultaneously and he stood back, trying to catch another look at Zim, whose face was disappearing behind the pink shield of glass now descending over the hatch. The painful sense of déjà vu was creeping up on him
Zim belongs to nothing…
Oh…he was…really going…! Dib reached out with both arms before he could stop himself, mind a total mess.
Where would Zim go? Maybe he wouldn't go back to Irk, after all? Maybe he'd go back to Rot. That was where Dib had taken him from. The boy felt his nose wrinkle and his lungs burn as the smell of rocket fuel began to waft out from the new hot spot within the garage, and watched the Voot begin to rise up from the floor, Zim now totally encased.
Was that really where Zim wanted to be? Starved on some alien planet with no technology but the Voot? Maybe. Dib thought he knew Zim, but maybe he was wrong. He didn't know anything anymore. He just wanted to reach out and grab one of those familiar feelers and tug it. Not enough to hurt, but enough to make Zim glare and give Dib something to stick his tongue out about. The hurt in Dib's chest was sudden and sharp. He wanted those bumps and bruises and the late nights where he still got some sleep, and the wrestling around in the bushes, and the water balloons, and the sitting on tacks and-
Dib was on the cement of the garage floor, staring at the bright beam of neon pink and purple that was shooting off into the distance so many miles away. It was so clear and yet he felt like he had to have dreamt the past few years up. Maybe that was why his chest felt so empty, and he felt like he could float up. Maybe it was all just a figment of his imagination. He was 'crazy', after all. Or maybe he had just woken up; maybe Zim hadn't ever even been there in the first place, and he had wanted something to chase that might chase him back every once in awhile.
Alone, he managed to dredge himself up from the floor and made his way over to the ladder that rested against the edge of the garage, hoisting himself up each rung and staring with tired, tired eyes at the sky, not looking where he put his hands. He just…couldn't bring himself to care now. He was pretty sure ghosts existed; he felt enough like one. Bigfoot was real, too, still, right? He didn't feel like hunting to find out. He knew his treks would lead him back to aliens, always aliens, and one alien in particular. He didn't think he'd ever be able to find out if that alien were real or not. Maybe it was all just a waste of his time. Maybe he should go back to school and let the paper airplanes pummel him in the head day in, day out, without the hope that one of them might have flown with a weird, malformed wing from a three-fingered hand.
He hoisted himself onto the edge of the roof and sat down over it, staring up at the sky without his usual satellite briefcase or telescope. He knew Zim had been real, flesh and blood, and all, and it hurt. It hurt badly to know that, and not because Dib hadn't been able to prove his existence to everyone else before he had left. It hurt because he KNEW Zim had been real, and he KNEW what he was, and what he liked, and how he would react. Dib might have even ventured to say he knew how Zim felt sometimes, and not only when he was shouting about something or other. He had seen the way Zim looked when he was hungry and tired and stuff, and Dib had felt that, too.
He couldn't help but think that if they had met without the whole world-domination thing on the table, they might have been…friends, or something like that. Or acquaintances? Dib shook his head at himself immediately, eyes watery. He felt too much about Zim to be only acquaintances.
Sighing, feeling like he had completed his transformation from human to transient ghost thing, Dib turned and hoisted his leg down over the edge, the ringing in his ears hollow but loud. He let his weight fall off downwards and stepped onto the top rung of the ladder, head swimming strangely as if something loud was creeping up behind him, and paused when he felt a warm rush of air against the hand that was at the top of the ladder, turning wearily to the side and glancing over his shoulders.
Two big pink-red eyes looked right back at him, and he almost toppled over.
"…!" Vocal chords on hiatus, Dib scrambled to grab ahold of the edge of the garage hatch and stepped down one rung. He blinked wildly and stared at the vibrating dome of purple metal that had landed itself within feet of him, looking at the two extensions on the back that were balanced against the side of the roof and the all-too-familiar face that looked down from under the open hatch.
Dib just stared up in disbelief. He couldn't be imagining it. Zim had just…he was back? Really? Why?!
"Uh…" Really poetic, Dib thought. It was hard to make any sense when your heart was pulsing so hard it felt like it was going to burst.
"Yeah," he replied absently and reached up to put his hand shakily on the edge of the Voot, as if trying to make sure it really was there. Zim, standing up on the driver's seat and peering down with a wide-eyed look, caught Dib further off guard with his expression. He looked so much more…Like Zim. More sure of himself.
"…" A gloved hand was reached out in Dib's direction.
"Get in, stink-beast."
Dib's heart leapt into his mouth immediately, beating on the back of his tongue. Staring from Zim, to his hand, to Zim again, he could only say quietly the remaining thing that was still confusing his brain.
"…No Irk?" he fumbled. Zim hadn't gone back? He was really here?
Suddenly, Dib had the feeling that two of his questions had been answered at once. Looking down into the dreary garage, at the laptop monitor that lay on the floor beaming a purple NO CONNECTION, at the bench covered in wrenches and diagrams and crumpled paper, Dib felt something happening to his head. He was hearing something weird, something he hadn't really felt in a long time. Not since the last time he had lost his glasses, he thought, although he wasn't really sure why that came to mind.
When he took a moment to breathe, he realized that the sound was laughing. It was also coming from him. The buzzing was gone.
"…ZIM!" All of the physical strength left in his body was used to hoist himself back up to the rooftop and to clamber over the edge of the Voot cruiser. All but falling in beside Zim and turning around, he lunged and caught the alien in the most bruising grip he could muster, feeling the seat vibrate against his body as the hatch shut with a click.
"We…I'll have to…" Even through his excitement, Dib knew he couldn't live out in space. Not unless Zim took him to some wonderful place, which, compared to Earth, Dib could only imagine a lot of places were. He didn't care right now, though. It didn't matter. They wouldn't be running. They'd fly.
Zim muttered something and Dib grinned against his skinny arm, gazing at the stars that shot past through the glass of the hatch. Dib had no idea where they'd go or how long they'd be there. He vaguely knew he had to return to Earth some time, to see his sister, mostly, if nothing else, but everything Earthly just seemed so dark and cold and unforgiving in comparison to the bright flashes of starlight that flickered past them as they rose into the cosmos. He had been right. He understood all he needed to. And he was sure, by the time they got anywhere, they probably would have smacked each other around to the point of black eyes.
Dib grinned broadly.
His head was spinning.
And that's all, folks.
Please tell me what you thought.