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And now, the final chapter. I hope I met all expectations. Enjoy :)
For Zim, a multitude of images from his Pak's memory bank were thrust upon him at lightning speed in the space of that one terrible second.
Images from years ago when he'd first arrived of a younger, shorter Dib pointing out his false nature the second they locked eyes. Of Dib and Zim working together when Tak endangered the Earth. Of Dib a few years later throwing a paper ball at his head that read "You smell."Dib having one of their typical screaming contests with him in the courtyard. Dib with the bruise painted on his face that filled the Irken with an incomprehensible anger for some reason.
And most recently, Dib's expression in the living room when he agreed to help Zim in order to save him.
Through the haze of red that misted the corners of his vision, Zim could only see the pile of black clothing on the ground in an unmoving heap, and the slightly smoking end of the gun as Mr. Ernhart lowered it and stared at the downed teen with an amazed expression.
A growl ripped through the room loud enough to cause the man to actually flinch, and he looked up from where his gaze was regretfully traveling over Dib to see an elite Irken Invader giving him a glare so full of hatred and wrath that he felt something deep within him shrink up in a cold wash of pure fear.
In the half a second it took Ernhart to even process the fact that he should shoot the alien next, the Zim was bounding forward. Ernhart pulled the gun up to take aim, but it was smacked out of his hand with enough force to break two of his fingers as Zim...flew past him?
Turning a 180, Mr. Ernhart came face to face with an unbelievably pissed off alien gripping a sparking tazer so hard shavings of plastic fell to the floor from where his claws left deadly scores in the grip. Gulping, the teacher took a few paces back.
"Click click. Click click." The sound of Zim's spider legs rhythmically striking the cold metal floor resounded dolefully throughout the room, and Mr. Ernhart stopped retreating only when he felt a wall at his back halt his progress. Two fiery orbs of red narrowed into enraged slits, and before the teacher could so much as open his mouth to plead for anything, the tazer was jabbed harshly into his side.
Zim stood up slowly from the barely conscious form, and flicked the tazer off and placed it in a pocket. Odd that his computer hadn't provided him with technology of Irken make, but Zim wasn't complaining; these human "tazers" were more than adequate for his needs. Kicking the twitching form at his feet, he heard a muffled groan eke forth. Making a disgusted and loathful expression, Zim hoisted the human up by the back of his corduroy jacket and dragged him over to the restraint table off to the side. Tossing the man onto it haphazardly and clapping the irons shut around his ankles and wrists, Zim finally turned back to what really mattered- the Dib.
The Dib who had dragged himself into a slumping position reminiscent of actual sitting, and was somehow managing to bear a countenance of both incredible pain...and...amusement!
"Wow Zim, I didn't know you cared so much. How sweet." The human bit out sarcastically, wincing as he moved his left arm.
"But you...not moving...Z-Zim thought..." Zim stuttered in pieces between the thoughts crashing in his head at a million miles an hour.
"Yeah, I wasn't moving because I freaking got shot." Dib snorted, ceasing the action after it made him grimace. "You didn't seriously expect me to get shot and pop right back up with a cheery greeting card, did you? By the time you'd downed him I'd only just processed that I'd been shot at all." Dib remarked, looking over at the mostly still form on the table.
"So, Dib is alright?" Zim questioned stupidly, still unable to comprehend the human wasn't lying dead in a puddle of his own blood on the floor.
"Are you high? " Dib asked incredulously, eyebrows raising. "I just got shot by a gun, and you're asking if I'm alright?"
"Eh...Zim meant..." The Irken tried to amend, but was cut off by a wave of Dib's right hand.
"Its fine, I know what you meant. He got me in the arm, obviously. And, not to sound like a total wimp to the almighty Invader Zim, but it kind of hurts like hell." Dib admitted, and Zim noticed for the first time that the boy's pallor complexion was even whiter than it normally was. Sliding his eyes down a little, he frowned at the red spots on the floor and the wet looking patch on Dib's trench coat sleeve that he knew was blood seeping through.
Heh. And Dib really liked that coat, too.
Retracting his spider legs and walking over to Dib, Zim bent down and tried to assess the damage. Shaking his head after a moment, Zim reported "Dib, I can't see anything. You're going to have to get your coat off if I'm to judge whether I can help you here or if I should ship you to a hospital."
"Aw no, anything but a hospital!" Dib groaned, but acquiesced to Zim's demand when he was met with only a hard and silent stare from his counterpart.
Peeling off the coat with a great deal of cringing and hissing in agony, Dib rolled up his sleeve to let Zim get the best view of the wound possible in the faint greenish light. The Irken frowned at the bullet hole in Dib's pathetic excuse for a bicep which still bled stubbornly, and weighed his options.
"Computer! Bring to Zim the sleepy mask thingy." Zim commanded, and within seconds a clear face shield-looking contraption fell through the ceiling and into his waiting hand. Tugging at some of the lines leading to a small canister fussily, he knelt beside Dib who was giving the device a distrustful look.
"This will knock you out long enough for my computer to remove the bullet without you screaming your foolish head off like a poop monkey." Zim explained and Dib nodded, still looking unhappy. "In the meantime, I'll take care of this one." Zim hissed, clearly insinuating the teacher. Pressing the mask over Dib's face hurriedly when he noticed his shirt sleeve and arm turning a brilliant crimson color without the trench coat to soak it up, Zim broke his gaze with the dark red blood when Dib poked an antenna imploringly. Twitching it out of the human's reach, Zim watched Dib attempt to form a coherent sentence as he drew in a breath of the sleep inducing fumes.
"Don't kill him. Or maim him. Or anything else particularly evil. Just wipe his memory, and have Gir fly him home or something." Dib instructed firmly despite the gas's effects, watching the Irken grit his teeth in disappointment before grumbling a reluctant "Very well, human."
Dib nodded at the alien's forced sounding agreement, and within a few more breaths, was out stone cold on the floor.
Zim waved vaguely in the air, and muttered "Computer, deal with Dib. You know what to do." and received an uncharacteristically cooperative response of "Ok." Dib was carefully carried up into the ceiling by a few claws, where he would doubtlessly be taken to a more well lit and sterile area for the computer to pull the bullet out.
Striding tensely up to Mr. Ernhart who was beginning to recover from his shock induced stupor, Zim typed a few things into a panel on the wall. A prehensile tube with a rather large suction cup on the end slid out of a hole in the floor, and Zim grabbed it and slammed it onto the man's cranium none too gently. Turning his back to the teacher- who's mere image made him quiver with rage and the desire to avenge- Zim began keying in erase commands to the system.
"Tell Dib I'm sorry."
The unexpected request had Zim spinning around in surprise and vexation, and examining the remorseful sounding teacher. Zim turned the request over in his mind, and narrowed his ruby colored eyes and flattened his antennae.
"Perhaps." he answered at last, and hit a button on the console decisively. A buzzing noise was heard, and Mr. Ernhart was quickly reduced to a temporary drooling moron.
Staring hostilely down at his opponent, Zim had to hold himself back from tearing out the man's throat with his bare claws. How dare this human injure his Dib-friend, even if it was accidental? He was hardly worth sparing. Placing a claw point at the man's throat, Zim halted, remembering Dib's insistent request.
"Rrrgh, stupid dirt child and his stupid sentiment... hmph. Whatever. This teacher will be a bother no further regardless." Zim thought, taking his deadly natural weapon away from the instructor's pulse point. Not wishing to disturb the computer, Zim pulled his communicator out of his Pak. A few seconds of status ensued, until Gir picked up the line with a high-pitched "Weeeee!"
How very long ago it seemed that he was stuck in the middle of nowhere atop a tree, trying to get in touch with this same insane robot minion.
"Gir. This is important- come down to the Earth Smell Creature Brain Scan Room. Immediately." Zim tacked on, hoping Gir was heading the right way when the screen went fuzzy after he heard the sound of rocket boosters being activated.
A few minutes passed with Ernhart mumbling incoherent things that only increased Zim's ire, until the door behind him blew open and Gir tumbled in head over feet screaming and on fire.
Ignoring the typical occurrence, Zim crossed his arms. "Gir, I need you to fly this human to his home. The address is in his wallet, I'm sure." The android threw his arms up into the air with a shriek of excitement and danced in a giddy circle, taking no notice of the flames still licking around him. Zim raised a nonexistent eyebrow at the conflagration, but continued. "Make sure you invent a TRULY INGENIOUS story on your way there so his suspicions about me are not raised again. Mention nothing of aliens."
Gir froze for a moment and stared into nothingness with his bright cyan gaze, before abruptly flying at his master and sucking on a corner of his head while kicking his feet around. Zim's claws twitched in annoyance. "NOW, GIR!" he yelled, and the robot obediently dropped off his head and saluted, toddling over to the table. Fire finally dying out, Gir pressed the button to open the restraints with his head and giggled as he made a "boooop" noise. The irons clicked open, and the android picked the man up by one of his arms and blasted off through the base with him, a sandwich and piece of half eaten toast falling to the ground in his wake from some compartment who-knew-where.
Zim looked around the room, surveying the damage. Scratches from both his real and fake pairs of feet adorned the floor, and scuffs from Dib's boots and Ernhart's shoes had left black marks here and there. A bullet hole punched through the wall where Dib's head had almost been, and another through the floor when the teacher had shot off the rope ensnaring his feet. That same stupid feeble rope lay discarded a distance from the fight area where the teacher had tossed it, and Zim huffed. At least repairs would be minimal. And miraculously enough none of his testing tubes had been shattered, and its animal tenants slept on peacefully, blissfully unaware of the struggle for life that had taken place mere feet from them. And then of course, there was the most unsightly puddle of the Dib stink's blood...
Clicking over to it, Zim stopped just before his toes could touch the edge of the pool. The Irken frowned while looking at the reflective red surface, deep in thought; he'd never drawn the Dib's blood before. Well, not intentionally and with incredible malice, anyway. Any scrapes either of them had ever obtained had been during typical battles for Earth, and were thought little of and vanished within days. This was different however, and the sight of his human friend's blood on the floor set Zim on edge.
Assuming his computer had finished with Dib by now, Zim directed his gaze from the puddle to the ceiling. "Computer? Status."
"6:28 PM, mildly sunny out. Temperature is a balmy 88 degrees Fahrenheit, only a 13% chance of afternoon showers, and-"
"Not that, you fool! The Dib." Zim interrupted, tapping his two toes impatiently.
"Ohhh. He's asleep." The computer supplied unhelpfully.
"And...?" Zim prodded, annoyed that the system's temporary obedience had flown out the window in the span of a few minutes.
"Bullet removal successful. Wound sterilized and opening cauterized to prevent infection. Wound dressed. Pain medication administered via IV. Vitals normal, disregarding the obvious low blood levels."
"Thank you, computer. And would you mind removing this...this... eyesore? I will attend to the rest later personally. I need to check that dog's brain scans anyway." Zim directed while gesturing to the red mess, and turned an about face and began marching to the only room it would make sense for the computer to have stored Dib in; the house level.
Rising up on the elevator, Zim felt an uncomfortable sensation in his squeedly spooch as it drew closer to the ground floor. Pushing it aside for the time being, Zim stepped out of the open trashcan and onto the linoleum with a loud clack of pointy claws. Irritated at the noise, Zim tucked them under a little and walked on the joint just before his claws so his steps were more of a muffled padding. Moving a little more quietly now into the living room, he leaned against the doorframe and watched the scene before him for a moment.
Dib sat on the couch in a hunched over manner with his chin in his hand contemplatively, blue and slightly bloody shirt draped over his shoulder, making the white bandage around his limp arm stand out all the more against his bare skin. The position allowed his good arm to reach down and move a checker piece while Gir sat across from him on the floor, actually seeming to think before also moving a piece, jumping two of Dib's in a row in the process. Hm, that had been an awfully fast trip, the Irken noted. Hopefully Gir had found the right place.
"Hey, no fair! You're like a small computer. Man, I never even had a chance." Dib complained indignantly as the robot giggled and ate his captured checkers. Dib huffed in response, but leaned back over the board and pushed his glasses farther up the bridge of his nose as he studied the layout. The setting sunlight from the now unshuttered windows washed over the boy and the robot, painting the room in a not unwholesome looking gold. Zim would have preferred red, but eh; the nice burnt gold color would do.
Deciding then would be a perfectly rude instant to interrupt, Zim untucked his toes again as he clicked into the room, breaking Dib's concentration.
A vague "Hey." was all the alien received in the form of a greeting as Dib immediately looked back down at the board with a crease in his forehead as he thought. Zim lowered his antennae in annoyance; he despised being ignored, and Dib knew it.
"One second your mightiness, I just need to...AHA!" Dib interrupted himself with an exclamation of triumph as he hopped one of Gir's pieces and landed himself in a safe spot. His proud expression drooped a second later when Gir returned the favor, and the robot smiled inanely.
"Big head's turn." He said, and Dib spluttered a little.
"My head is NOT big! And my name is Dib. D-I-B. Dib. Even Zim gets it right once and a while."
Zim spluttered a little at this in return, crossing his arms. "Insolent mud child." the Irken snapped, and Dib made a "see what I mean?" sort of gesture at him.
Gir seemed to be thinking quite hard about the name change for a moment, before one of his eyes popped out a little more than the other and he declared happily "Big-head Dib."
Dib facepalmed with a ragged sigh, but shook his head and shrugged it off. Good enough. Moving another piece, Dib scooted over some and patted the space on the sofa beside him, never taking his eyes off the board as Gir also moved a checker into a seemingly useless place. Zim stalked over and sat down stiffly, and now that he was in a closer proximity to the Earthling, something that demanded his attention simply needed to be said.
"Human. Your overwhelming whiteness is blinding my superior sight."
Dib rolled his eyes and pulled the shirt off his shoulder and fwapped it around in Zim's face. "See this?"
Zim nodded, ducking away from the blood-smelling shirt.
"See how it's all bloody?"
"Yes, Dib beast, Zim has eyes. He can see this."
Dib snorted, but slung the shirt back over his shoulder. "No way am I putting it back on."
"Ugh. You picky smell worm. Computer?" Zim called reluctantly, knowing the AI system would likely put up a fight.
Silence greeted him, and just before he could make his request again a blue rolled up T shirt was shot out of a hole in the wall and smacked Zim in the face. Grumbling, the alien in turn tossed it at Dib who accepted it and unrolled it.
"Zim...it says "I love Earth." Why do you even have this?" Dib asked, looking askance at the shirt.
"Stop complaining. It certainly suits you more than I anyway, you pathetic Earth lover." Zim shot back, watching as Dib gave it a final once-over before shrugging and carefully pulling it on.
Now that his eye sockets weren't bleeding from the Dib's awful pastiness, Zim began to watch the game progress with only mild interest. The Irken's thoughts were elsewhere; namely on the memory of Dib being shot. His Pak seemed insistent on replaying the event over and over in his head, and Zim felt something tug a little harder at his squeedly spooch each time. "Why couldn't I have disarmed the human sooner?" Zim berated himself as he watched Gir hop another two of Dib's checkers due to the move he'd made several turns ago, and the Irken tuned out Dib's complaints. "I am a mighty Irken Invader. I should have been able to stop that from even happening...perhaps Zim is losing his touch..." The alien went on pensively in his mind, and the memory re-ran itself for what must have been the eightieth time. Holding back a growl, Zim pinpointed what the feeling was: guilt.
"Hey, Zim. It wasn't your fault you know."
Zim jerked his head towards the human, but Dib still had his attention glued to the game. Had Dib developed psychic powers?
"I know you feel responsible; its written all over your face. That, and your antennae are kinded at a funny angle. So I'm telling you- it's not your fault. There's nothing you could have done differently to have changed anything." Dib added, finally cutting a glance at Zim from the corner of his eye.
"But... if I had simply not involved you, then surely-"
"Then surely you'd be in a bunch of little pieces, floating separately in some nice labeled jars in a chilled storage room somewhere." Dib intoned flatly, and Zim closed his mouth to cut off the retort forming on the tip of his segmented tongue. The human was right. Mr. Ernhart would surely have gotten to the Irken eventually had they not nipped the problem in the bud together like they had.
"I...suppose. But Zim's squeedly spooch is still making him feel odd." The Irken conceded, nudging Dib and pointing out a good move against his own minion.
Dib scoffed and took the move Zim had given him, and Gir pouted and stamped his little metal feet a bit before hugging his rubber piggy tightly and refocusing on the game. "Heh, that lovely sensation is guilt. It'll go away soon, if you just keep telling yourself it wasn't your fault. Because it really wasn't, you know." Dib advised, and Zim nodded slowly.
"Although, if you really feel that badly about it, want to know how to make it up to me?" The human asked deviously, and Zim leaned away a little with a suspicious expression.
"Oh man, this is awesome!"
Dib's voice reverberated within the cockpit of Zim's Voot Cruiser as the Irken piloted it nonchalantly past Saturn. Pressing his face against the glass so hard Zim was surprised it didn't permanently become flat, Dib openly gawked at the planets they passed at a speed so uncomprehendable Dib's mind boggled. "Zim, this is the coolest thing ever!"
"Eh, it is a sight I am much accustomed to. But yes, space can be pretty neat sometimes." Zim affirmed, glad the knot in his organs had gone away the minute Dib's face lit up with excitement at seeing Zim's cruiser resting in the fake attic.
"Hey Zim, can I fly this?"
The question was posed innocently enough, but Zim still had to hold back a cackle. "Human, piloting a cruiser takes more than moving a joystick around. Haven't you ever noticed I can direct the ship without needing to touch it most times?"
Dib looked a little crestfallen but nodded, bearing with Zim's explanation.
"An Irken ship is attuned to its owner's brainwaves, in a way. It knows what I want without me having to physically tell it."
"Oh." Dib said, but then something occurred to him. "Hey, but you've got to have a manual flight mode, right? Can I try that?"
Zim opened his mouth to interject a firm "No.", but upon thinking the request over, decided harm couldn't come from it as long as he kept the speed capped.
So, mumbling to himself in irritated Irken, Zim tapped a few buttons and a control post shot out of the space ship's equivalent of a dashboard. Pointing to each of the buttons individually, Zim listed them off as if to a mentally incompetent person. "Go. Stop. Up. Down. Left. Right. And that's really all you need to know. The Voot is capable of much more complicated maneuvers, but for now this is all you get."
Dib practically hummed with anticipation as he took Zim's place and gingerly pressed the go button. The cruiser sped forward towards Jupiter at a manageable speed, and Dib whooped and tested out some of the other buttons. The result was the craft doing an odd jerky dance in the emptiness of space with a bunch of "Whoo!"s and "Yeah!"s echoing forth, but Zim cracked a secret smile; the human was having a blast.
Eventually Zim directed Dib back to Earth, stating that he needed time before the next skool day to clean up the mess downstairs. Upon mentioning the dog, he received a hard look from Dib and before the Irken knew it, a promise had been extracted from him to not harm any of the animals and to release them as soon as possible. Shoving Dib off the controls once they neared Earth's atmosphere, Zim overtook personal piloting mode and smoothly brought the ship down, activating the cloaking device when they were low enough to be seen.
Landing in Dib's backyard, Zim opened the windshield and Dib hopped out. The human turned around and tried to cover up his wince of pain, but Zim caught it and fished around in his pocket.
"Catch." The Irken warned, and Dib reached up and caught the bottle of pain pills Zim tossed at him.
Turning the bottle over and inspecting it, Dib stuffed it in his own pocket. "Thanks, Zim. For everything." He said sincerely, still grinning from his unexpected trip into outer space.
Zim waved a hand dismissively. "Mention this not, filthy human. For I, Zim, expect to be moderately impressed with your Irken speaking skills TOMORROW. Do not disappoint me, friend worm." With that the alien waved a brief goodbye and took off again into the starry night sky, leaving Dib staring up after him.
"Heh, "friend worm"? Man he's got issues. And I'm going to make him eat those words at lunch!" Dib declared to himself, darting into his house to brush up on Irken.
A couple miles away in an oddly colored house a robot celebrated its victory in Checkers over Big-head Dib with a pig tea party, and the resident alien landed his craft in the roof and stepped out.
"We'll see, Dib. We shall see." Zim said with a smile as the roof closed above him, stars and moon glowing endlessly into the night.
Ok, its done! C: I hope everybody liked it. I wasn't really sure where or how to end it, so I hope the ending isn't too badly hobbled in there. And now, some shoutouts to some of the AMAZING reviewers I've had the pleasure of being reviewed by:
HyperSpooches58: As with ADFT, you're an excellent reviewer who is full of amazing goo. Thanks for your support, HyperSpooches :D Ashspark: Same as on ADFT, you're a faithful repeat reviewer and reading your reviews makes me happy c: Tinowenn: A loyal fan indeed, comrade! *salutes* You review almost every chapter every time, and that means a lot :D I love seeing your little pensive Zim icon pop up and reading what you have to say about my chapters :) SlavetoMyself55: Another penname I recognize each time you review! :D Thanks for your continued attention :3 Kazehana23: At one point you said you liked the story even though you had no idea where it was going. That's reassuring to hear, because I had no damn clue either xD Thanks! Alicia: Thanks for giving me upbeat comments in all of your reviews! The pick-me-ups are great :) InsomniaticFrenchToast: Your review about the Irken fist to the face made me laugh xD Thanks for your always funny and encouraging reviews :D BizarroVeR: I agree completely about the random chaos. If I had a dollar for every fanfic on this site that is just a Gir crackfic or something similar, I'd have...an awful lot of dollars. Thanks for your detailed opinion! :3 Lostseason: You followed my other story, ADFT, as well, and I enjoy hearing from you when you do chime in every now and then. Gracias :D ImmolationPiggieOfDoom: Oh, stop it you~ *bushes and waves away* xD I'm sure it could be improved in some areas, but for a story with literally no plot pre-planned, I think I did alright. Your lengthy review was mucho appreciated, and I hope you'll point out anything else you notice on this or any of my other fics should you choose to read them :) Thanks oodles! SongAlchemist11: My gosh you sound excited xD I'm glad you like the story so much, and I hope the ending pleases you c: And as for Zadr...hm. Maybe someday in the near future. Stay tuned ;)
And all the others who pitched in: Kurakun1019, cheesybeans, coco, and all the guest reviewers! You guys rock :)
Aaaaand it looks like I got everyone :) I'm glad people have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it, and if you guys liked this one, check my author page on occasion or put me on alert- I'm far from done writing, and I'm going to love seeing those familiar faces from this story and ADFT reviewing my new ones too. :D THANK YOU SO MUCH EVERYBODY! :D