The hard thing about writing a fic this long is forgetting to take notes on small things like what labs I introduced the first time they went to Membrane Labs… and then having to Ctrl+F a number of word combos just to find the rights pages faster to re-read my own story to get stuff right lmao. And I probably still missed stuff but OH WELL

Membrane may have bitten off more than he could chew! But, I doubt he's ever going to go back on his word or back down. Doesn't seem the type of guy. As a reminder, there is a tumblr centered mostly around Invader Zim where you can get updates on chapters and see some good 'ol fanart at:

Enjoy!

Part 65: Toeing the Laboratory Lines

Zim sighed, adjusting his collar. He had ditched the tie after his first attempt at tying a knot. It felt like he was choking when he had tightened it. No wonder they'd always had slacker collars on their uniforms. The sensation almost had Zim clawing at his neck to get the tie off. He couldn't do it fast enough. He had thrown the offending slip of fabric on his bed. Dib came in, finishing off his tie, and spotted Zim's on the bed.

Dib sighed, picking it up. "Zim, you should wear this."

"Absolutely not. It tries to strangle me."

"That means it's too tight," Dib says, straightening it out. Zim glared at the tie before turning back around.

"No. I hate it. Your Father unit will just have to accept that I am not wearing it," Zim says with a finality. Dib blinked at him slowly before briefly considering wrestling him to the ground to get it on. But Zim would probably tear his shirt if he did that and Dib didn't have another on hand. He threw the tie back on the bed.

"Fine, but if he lectures you, you're on your own."

"It is a risk I will take," Zim said, popping his collar. Dib snorted, readjusting it flat again.

"Dork."

Dib left with Zim giving him an overly animated, offended gasp. Zim followed him out to the living room. Gir was preoccupied with a toy Dib had found at the store—something for a human child and it entertained Gir just as well—but looked up to wave briefly.

"This is the most silent that he's ever been when he's not off," Zim says. He fell back on the couch, picking at his pants and dress shirt. He sat up suddenly. "Why must we wear these?!"

"Because we're getting a tour, and that never happens, and there's a dress code so suck it up." Dib threw the dress shoes at Zim's face. Zim caught them by the strings, but the shoes themselves still followed the same momentum and smacked him upside the head.

"Gah!"

Zim threw the shoes down with a huff. Dib had already slipped his on and sat beside him, handing over the odd wooden device he'd used to get his own shoes on. Zim took it, scrutinizing it.

"… Do you know how to use—"

"I do not need it."

Zim tossed it away. Dib watched it arc through the air towards Gir. Gir's antenna twitched and he shot up, catching it in his mouth. Dib felt a little piece of himself scream into the void as he watched Gir swallow it and resigned that he would not be getting that back. He doubted he'd want it. He returned his attention to Zim to find he was slipping the shoes on rather easily—after removing his gloves. Once Zim had gotten one shoe on and was reaching for the other, Dib grabbed his wrist and twisted his palm up to examine his claws. Zim paused. He sat up, shoe in his other hand, watching Dib turn his hand over and over again with eyes of wonder. It was, in a word, cute.

Dib started to massage the palm and Zim's entire body began to relax. Dib heard a purr start up beside him and smirked. Gir skipped over to them and sat on the coffee table.

"Mastah is happy!" he says. Dib gave a laugh, careful not to go too closely to Zim's claws as he massaged his palm, feeling the scaly skin.

"He's relaxed, that's for sure," Dib says. Zim hummed, pulling his hand back. "Aw."

"You can mess with my palms later."

"That a promise?"

"Sure."

Zim stood and stretched. His PAK held the pair of gloves out to him. Dib grabbed his jacket, checking the time as he slipped it on. He tossed Zim his jacket. He slipped it over his shoulders first, pulling down the back of the jacket to slip the hole over his PAK.

"Gir, keep the house safe, we'll be back in a few hours," Dib calls after him.

"Yessir!" Gir shouted out the door, hopping off the table to salute. Zim flicked on the hologram before he left the door, wrapping the jacket around himself further. Dib locked the door, double checking through the small window on the door that Gir wasn't already crashing into anything, before stepping off the porch.

"Okay, off we go."

Gaz hopped her heel on the dashboard with a pout. Dib had given up trying to ask her to stop after her third time ignoring him. Zim sat in the back, pouting, arms crossed and leaning against the car door. Both had been in bitter moods since the drive began.

"I called shotgun," Zim muttered.

"I'm the sister, I overrule you," Gaz says.

"I live with him!"

"Even if you're dating, I win," Gaz snaps back. Zim sat up with a scowl and a light blush. Gaz glanced back at him through the rearview mirror. "Challenge me, I dare you. I have my steel-toed boots on me."

Zim contemplated his impending death a moment. He kicked the back of her seat. Gaz whirled around and Dib slammed on the breaks. Her seatbelt caught her, knocking the wind from her body. Zim launched forward, hitting the back of her chair with a grunt. He sat back, rubbing at his face. Gaz slowly turned to glare at Dib.

"AND WE'RE HERE!" Dib announced loudly, cutting the engine. "Don't kill each other. And don't fight. I know neither of you have any replacement clothes. I'm pretty sure that's the only dress shirt you own. And that's the only dress Dad would let you wear for a tour."

"I hate this," Gaz mumbled. She smoothed out her dress regardless. "But fine."

"We all hate this, just behave for a couple of hours and I'll buys us all milk shakes," Dib says.

"Adequate bribe," Zim says, slipping out of the car. "Accepted."

Gaz sighed heavily, kicking her door open into the car next to them. The alarm started to blare and Zim held at his scalp where Dib knew his antennae were flattening. Gaz kicked the car door shut and started stomping up to the lab. Zim stuck next to Dib, several steps behind her.

"She's going to murder someone," Dib groaned.

"We're both murdering someone," Zim snapped. He shook out his antenna and sighed, rubbing at his temples. "Your infernal machines are too loud."

"It's… never mind. It is pretty loud…" Dib says, reaching Gaz at the door. She had paused, looking over the parking lot. "What?"

"I thought you left Gir at home," she says.

"What?" Dib looked where she was, catching sight of Zim staring in the same direction with a tired expression plain on his face. "Zim?"

"I could hear him; but I was hoping it was one of your species' infernal cars squealing," he groaned. He could see the smoke trail of Gir's rockets from where they stood as he flew between the buildings. Zim side stepped the robot when he reached them. Gir smashed into the windows of the front lobby and fell into the bushes.

"Wow. Those windows are no joke," Gaz mumbled. She walked up to Gir, digging through the bushes and fishing him out by his feet. She held him up. "How fast were you flying?"

"Like a torpedo!" Gir says. He swung his arms around until she turned him over and dumped him onto the sidewalk. Gir hopped up the stairs to Zim. "Mastah!"

"…Gir, you're supposed to watch the house," Zim ground out. Gir hugged his leg.

"But I miiiiissed youuuu!"

Zim sighed, pinching his brow. He picked Gir up, cradling him. "DO NOT make a mess on me, Gir, or I'm shutting off the TV for a week."

Gir gasped in horror. Dib couldn't tell if it was theatrics or genuine horror. Either way, it would keep Gir behaved enough not to get anything on Zim's shirt. Instead, Gir hugged him around his neck. Zim left him like that, following the siblings into the lobby. Gaz flashed a badge to the receptionist without stopping to lead them all through the same door they'd entered last time. On the other side, Gir changed to sitting on Zim's shoulders, draping his small arms over Zim's head.

A woman turned to greet them.

"Hello! You must be Professor Membrane's children."

"Uh—"

"Yep, that's us, let's do this," Gaz says, grabbing both boys' wrists and dragging them forward. The woman fell into step seamlessly.

"Excellent! I hear you're all starting internships here this summer. That's quite exciting!"

"During school, but yeah, sure. Uh-huh."

Zim leaned towards Dib, wrenching his hand free of Gaz's grip. "I'm not his child."

"You basically are," Dib whispered back. Gaz released his hand once they'd entered the main lab. Zim toyed with the ID card in his pocket. He wondered just how much access it truly granted him to the labs. The woman stopped in the midst of the main lab and spread her arms.

"I'm your guide today! Simply tell me what lab you wish to intern, and I can show you it in far more detail than before. I understand that you've all been here before, yes?"

"He's the only one who isn't familiar," Gaz says, pointing back at Zim. The woman looked at him patiently.

"…Astrophysics."

"Excellent! That's on level 3. If you wish, you can leave your things here in the lockers in the hall. Any bags or extra electronics are not permitted in the lab," the woman says, leading them to guest lockers. Zim watched Gaz show her ID, barcode forward, on a scanner at the front of one set of lockers. Dib did the same, depositing his phone at the top shelf.

"Want to share?" he asks. Zim stared at him a moment, waiting. Dib's face went pale. "Oh. Um… Ms….?"

"Yes?"

"We can meet you up there. Gaz and I know the way. We just want to run by a few things first with Zim."

The woman waited a moment before smiling. "Of course! Right up the elevators!"

The siblings watched her go, waiting until she'd entered the elevator to speak. Dib turned to Zim, leaning around to look at his back. "The PAK?"

"Yes. I have to change the hologram," Zim grumbled. He looked around, spotting a security camera just behind a row of lockers in the corner. He stood under it, scanning the room for any that could catch him and seeing none that could spy him from behind the lockers where he was positioned, before letting the PAK deposit the tablet into his hand. He swiped through the settings, grumbling. "Should have known… could've done this at home…"

"Sorry, I kinda forgot about that," Dib admitted.

"Better have a holo-setting for it when we get those things on our backs," Gaz says, leaning on the locker. "Just be happy it doesn't set off the metal detectors."

"Why doesn't it?" Dib asks, turning back to Zim.

"It's not technically made of metal. It's a metal-like substance, but most of it is not metals found on this planet. What you consider a metal and what Irkens consider metal isn't always the same," Zim explains. He looked up at them, setting the new disguise in. The ripple effect washed over his body and he stowed the tablet away again. "I wonder if the Voot would set them off, though."

"Probably, if it's mostly anything found here," Dib says. "We'll try it later. For now, we can keep Gir in here if you want."

"But I wanna seeeeee."

"Not yet," Zim says sternly. He lifted Gir off, flipping him off before the robot could protest for much longer. Gir went slack in his lands, his eyes shutting down to a dull grey. Gaz grimaced at the sight.

"That's just wrong looking."

"You're hardly disturbed by anything I do, but this crosses the line?" Zim questioned, sitting Gir down in the locker. He shut the door on him with a relieved sigh.

"It looks like you killed him. He just… ragdolls, it's weird seeing him so still," Gaz admits. Zim had to agree with her on that, at least. It was a strong contrast to Gir's usual energy. He sauntered over into the elevator without another word on the subject.

The elevator itself was lit a little too brightly for his liking. A lot of the smaller details of the lab reminded him of his days as an Inventor for the Empire. He wasn't entirely opposed to the memories—he was almost excited to have a secondary lab to work in—the similarities weren't all that surprising. Once they'd come up the elevator, the woman greeted them again, starting off down the hall.

"Here at Membrane Labs, we're not just the average set of Astrophysicists. Astrophysicists here do still study the physics of astronomy, yes, but at Membrane Labs we go beyond looking at the surface of planets and stars. We dive into the very cores of them!"

Zim's antennae perked up at the prospect. Drilling into planets they'd spotted with their satellites? It couldn't have been a very fast process. From what he recalled the machinery that they used wasn't light speed. The idea was still tempting, however.

"Taking longer trips than any other facility on the planet, Membrane Labs has unlocked countless mysteries surrounding the physics of other planets in and out of our own solar systems."

"Such as?" Zim asks. Their guide paused in front of a window where Zim could see a collider. He could hear the machinery whirring behind the glass.

"Well, we're currently researching black holes as a possible transportation option for deep space travel, if we can successfully convert them into worm holes, that is."

"….That… is not possible," Zim says slowly. Dib elbowed him in the arm. Zim elbowed him right back and Dib doubled over, close enough to hear Zim whisper. "Irkens already disproved that!"

"So re-disprove it yourself," Dib whispered hastily. He straightened up again, coughing into his hand. "Sorry, go on."

"No, no, it's fine! We welcome any and all ideas or opinions here. He'll be able to help with this research when you all start interning here. You and Ms. Gazlene can even work together. I understand you want to work on physics?"

Gaz's hands clenched into fists behind her back. "Mhm.."

"Excellent! Let's continue. Here, you'll see Professor Marcus…"

"The name?" Zim whispered in her ear. Gaz shot him a glare. Zim back pedaled instantly. "Right. Got it."

Zim flicked his gaze through the windows, his PAK taking in the information the guide was presenting with each stop, to study each room. The technology wasn't exactly archaic—he had to give humans some benefit to how far they'd managed to come within a hundred years of their sciences. Atomic Colliders weren't anything to brush off. If they kept it up, he could reasonably "discover" everything needed to shoot them into space past their own galaxy within another hundred years.

He had no doubt their colonizing ability would make them somewhat formidable. Any species that had the determination to try and colonize the hottest and coldest areas of their planets—and die trying multiple times—was something to ally with. It was a shame their typical life span was so short.

His PAK beeped an alert at him and Zim halted, letting the three step ahead of him.

Membrane flipped through the paperwork three times before giving up. His ability to focus was not on his side this day. He sighed, stepping off the elevator and discarding the clipboard into a chute leading straight to his office's mail pile. He looked around, finding the locker hall empty. He was sure the kids should have been there by now.

He started down the hall, pausing. One of the lockers wasn't shut completely. Membrane turned to it, opening the door. Gir sat at the bottom, powered down just as he had been when he'd found the little bot in the basement. Membrane picked him up, shutting the locker and carrying Gir with him as he walked back towards the elevator. He rode it to the second floor, stepping out onto the floor.

"Professor Membrane! I had a question about… what's that?"

"Ah, Giselle, good to see you! My son's little foreign friend made this little robot. It's quite fascinating."

"He made it all on his own?"

"I believe so. It's a very intelligent robot." Membrane set Gir down on the table.

How had he flipped him on the last time? Giselle was asking him something, but his attention was focused on Gir. He opened Gir's head, lifting the top like a lid, and spotted the switch inside. He flipped it and set Gir back against the wall. Gir's eyes lit up, flickering a moment before he straightened up again. Giselle gave a small sound of awe when Gir hopped up onto his feet.

"Hello, again! Remember me?"

Gir tilted his head at him. Recognition seemed to dawn on his face. "Oh! Mister Mary!"

"I—no."

"Mister Mary!" Gir repeated, throwing his arms up. He hopped off the table, skipping around the floor.

"Professor Membrane, actually," Membrane said. He watched Gir as he neared some machinery. "Ah… perhaps don't touch anything, little robot. This is sensitive equipment. Not like at the home lab."

"Thiiiiiis?" Gir asked, tipping over a large tube. It shattered onto the floor and Gir squealed.

"…Ah."

"Uh, sir?"

Gir hopped onto the shelves, running along the wall.

"Oh. Oh dear. Get the nets."

The guide stopped at the last room. "Is there anywhere else you'd like to—"

The building shook, the sound of a loud boom moving in time with the rocking of the floor. Zim balanced himself well, catching Gaz and Dib by their waists when they fell backward and pushing them back into standing positions once the motions had stopped. The guide had braced against the wall. She pushed herself off, smoothing out her blouse. The intercom crackled to life above them.

"No need to be alarmed."

"Dad?" Dib looked up at the intercom.

"The situation is under control. You may return to work—"

"Wheeeeeee!"

Zim gaped at the intercom, his brow furrowing in agitation. "Gir!"

"Professor! He's on the—no! Stop touching that!"

Another explosion over the intercom and the floor beneath their feet rocked again. They could hear Membrane's laugh over the intercom.

"Quite a feisty one! I'm coming. Return to your stations."

The intercom cut out. Gaz slammed her finger on the button of the elevator. Zim shot up next to her, ready to pry the doors open. Gaz wrapped her arm around his waist, holding him away from successfully getting any leverage to do so.

"It's already coming up," she says.

"That bastard turned him on! I TOLD HIM TO STOP MESSING WITH GIR!" Zim roared. Dib shot the guide an apologetic look and laughed nervously.

"Aha… uh… sorry. We left the robot downstairs."

"I was wondering why he didn't want to do robotics…" she says quietly. The elevator dinged and Zim dragged Gaz in with him by her heels.

"Hey!"

"Sorry! Uh, thanks for the tour!" Dib says hastily, backing into the elevator and rapidly hitting the second floor's button. "I can't believe him. I really can't believe him."

"I'm taking his legs," Zim says. Gaz still had a firm hold on his waist, leaning against his back.

"Just one leg," she says.

"No!" Dib shouts. "What is with you both and the legs?!"

"Makes it harder to run," both said. Dib gaped at them in horror.

"You're psychopaths."

"We're sociopaths," Gaz teased. Dib banged his forehead on the elevator wall. The door dinged. Gaz turned her attention to Zim. "You let me hold you back, didn't you?"

"Absolutely."

The door opened and Gaz's feet left the floor. She was pulled two steps out of the door before falling on her stomach as Zim wrenched himself from her grasp. She set herself up on her elbows, Dib rushing up beside her, and looked up to see Gir swinging from one of the many lights like it was a swing. Screaming the entire time. Zim ran up under him, shoving a scientist to the floor to get under the light directly.

"Gir!"

"Mastah! I'm flying!"

"Gir, you can literally fly—get down from there right now! Why are you on?!" Zim screamed.

"You have to catch me!" Gir called back, falling backward off the light and rocketing across the room.

Dib watched Zim sprint after him—trying very hard to keep at a believable speed as he did. He lifted Gaz up, looking around the room and spotting Membrane at the opposite end, scratching his head. Dib stomped up to him. Membrane looked down at him and Dib could see the crows' feet of his father's smile behind the outrageous collar of his lab coat.

"Hello, son! I knew you were here somewhere."

"Dad. What did we say about touching Zim's things?"

"Ah… well, I didn't think it would react the same if none of Zim's other inventions were present."

Dib rubbed his face with his hands. He heard Gir knock something over—something that sounded expensive—behind him. He breathed through his teeth.

"You can't just mess with things, okay? Gir is… important to Zim. You might break him. What would you do then, huh?" Dib asked.

"Why, fix him, of course!"

"Dad that is not the point."

"You're gonna make him hate being here," Gaz cut in. Membrane looked down at her, taking his attention off Gir for the first time since Dib had walked up. "And he's never gonna work here."

"Ah…"

"Just keep your hands to yourself. He'll show you how to build his stuff eventually," Gaz said.

She picked up a wrench and started twirling it. Dib shot her a warning glare and she slowly turned away from Membrane. Gir screeched in glee as he dodged Zim's tackle. Zim swore something in Irken, throwing a tool at Gir. It hit the wall instead.

"I don't believe I've ever heard that language in my travels before," Membrane commented.

"It's from a really far away country. Uh… small," Dib said. Gaz shot him an unimpressed side-ways glance. She tossed the wrench back onto the table. It clattered around, toppling various things to the floor. "Must you?"

"Absolutely."

"Dear, you'll be able to do whatever you want to your own work station when you intern here next year!" Membrane said proudly, pulling her into a side-hug. He did the same to Dib. "And you'll have your own station in no time, son!"

Dib sighed, watching Gir ride one of the scientists like a bull, pulling at the poor man's hair. Zim managed to grab him by his feet. One triumphant 'AHA!' was all Zim could say before Gir activated his rockets. Both flew up to the ceiling. Gir hit the top first, crumpling up against the ceiling. His rockets cut out. Zim seemed to take a moment to register their height. Both paused at the top for a second before falling back down.

"GIRRRR!"

Zim fell right on top of the same scientist that had been a bull. Gir landed next to them, right on his head, spinning slowly on the flat top until he was facing Zim. Zim glared up at him.

"I'm dismantling you," he threatened. Gir stuck his tongue out, squinting his eyes. Zim's glare intensified.

"Still haven't caught me!" Gir screamed shrilly. He flipped onto his feet and started prancing away. The scientist below Zim groaned when Zim scrambled off him.

"Gir—get back here! Stupid waste of metal!"

Gir laughed gleefully, running right to a mailing chute in the wall. He hopped up, hitting the button and landing inside the chute in one fluid motion. Zim dove for the chute, reaching his hand in. The pull of air took Gir up the chute before he could grasp his foot, leaving Zim flailing inside the chute and swearing up a storm.

Gaz glanced at Dib first. His face red and in his palm. Must have been quite the sailor talk he was hearing. She looked at her father next. Membrane was standing, still as a statue, staring at the elevator. He was a statue for about a second before he bolted for the elevator and started rapidly hitting the button. Zim marched up to him.

"I WARNED YOU NOT TO MESS WITH HIM!" Zim shouted. "You owe me a leg!"

"NO!" Dib screamed.

"You owe me something!"

"We'll discuss it after I ensure your invention doesn't destroy my office," Membrane says hastily. He stepped into the elevator before the doors had fully opened and hit the top floor's button. Zim's hand slammed on the elevator doors, preventing them from closing. "Zim—"

Dib and Gaz slipped in. Zim held the door a moment more, leveling his gaze at Membrane. "I do believe this will satisfy my rage. A minute or two in your office will suffice."

"…I would prefer if he wasn't," Membrane said.

"I'm sure you would. I would prefer that you not touch Gir again," Zim says smoothly.

Dib could just see the razor teeth in his smirk. Gaz stifled a laugh beside him. If the hologram hadn't been on, he would have recognized that shit-eating grin from the numerous times Zim had shot it his way in the past. The hologram's mouth just didn't stretch far enough to really resemble it, but the energy was there. Dib caught sight of sweat starting to bead on his father's forehead.

"I will not touch him again without your express permission."

Zim hummed, dragging the moment out intentionally. He finally stepped into the elevator, letting the doors close. "Agreed. If you go against your word, I'll release him upon the lab again. And I will not be the one catching him."

Gaz snorted, turning away to cover her mouth. It took half the ride up for her to compose herself enough to stare forward again.

"I apologize," Membrane says. Zim crossed his arms, looking up at him.

"You said you were sorry last time as well. Three strikes. That is all you get. You're at two," Zim says, turning forward again. The door slid open. A paperweight flew over Zim's head, denting the back wall of the elevator. Zim stepped out, unperturbed by the near miss to his skull.

"Mastah's on the page! Mastah's on the page!"

Gir was sprinting around the desk. Papers and various office trinkets were strewn across the entire room. One filing cabinet was toppled over. Gir held a clipboard steadfast in his hand. Zim waited until Gir had made another lap around the desk to snatch him up. He sat on the floor, prying the clipboard out of Gir's hands.

"Nooooooo! Mastah!"

"Give it up! I already caught you!" Zim ordered. He wrenched the clipboard free. He got a second's glance at it before Membrane snatched it out of his hand.

"Ah! Thank you!" he said loudly.

Zim watched him as he moved around the desk, tidying up as he went. Zim stood, cradling Gir in his arms. Dib lifted the filing cabinet back into place. Gaz kicked some papers towards the wall of windows as she made her way up to Zim. He slid Gir into her grasp without even looking in her direction, crossing his arms as he stared Membrane down.

"Why is my name on that?" he asked.

Membrane looked at him silently for a long moment. Dib came up, taking the clipboard off the desk to look over it.

"Are these…. Where did you get adoption papers?" Dib asked.

"What?!" Gaz snatched the clipboard, laughing as she looked it over. "Damn, you're still legally 17?"

"What does it matter?" Zim hissed. Gaz leaned away, cocking a brow at him.

"Well, it means you're legally adoptable… bro."

"Do not call me that. Never." Zim turned back to Membrane. He tore the sheets off the clipboard, tearing them down the center. "I refuse."

Membrane watched the papers flutter to the floor. He looked… genuinely disappointed. Zim sighed, pinching his brow. Dib shuffled on his feet behind him.

"Aha…. Told you he'd try," Dib says. Zim turned to him, already looking like he wanted a nap. "…Or pretend. You know, whichever one. We said both. I know we said both."

"Pretend," Zim snapped. "Zim is not—I am not some child you can keep."

"I see that my actions may have been… brash," Membrane says slowly. Zim shot him a glare. "But you're brilliant! Worthy of the Membrane name!"

"I'll get it another way," Zim says flatly. Dib took a moment and blinked, turning to him.

"What?"

"I'm taking Gir home," Zim announced.

He grabbed Gir from Gaz's hands, turning on his heel. Gaz smirked at Dib before following him. Dib turned to Membrane, leaning over the desk and setting down the papers he'd picked up from the cabinet. He dropped his voice to a whisper.

"Don't try again. I'm begging you."

"Bu—"

"Dad, it would be really, really weird. No. Just no. Pretend. I am begging you," Dib whispered.

He heard Zim snicker behind him. He fought himself not to turn around and flip him off. There was no way to explain how Zim would have heard him when he was at the elevator already without making Membrane suspicious—better that he just assumed Gaz had made a joke. Dib waited until he saw his father nod before he sighed and nodded himself. He almost ran to the elevator to hit the button. The doors closed and Zim started laughing.

"Begging. Of course you beg to your father, but never to me! How ungrateful!"

"Oh, shut it. I am never begging you for anything."

"Except for a space trip," Gaz cuts in. Dib shot her a glare.

"Ah, he does get quite desperate for those," Zim teased. Dib groaned, banging his head on the elevator doors. Kill him now. Zim leaned on him, swinging his arm over Dib's shoulders. "Do not worry, Dib, we'll go on another trip soon."

Dib perked up immediately. He ignored the snort Gaz gave. "Can we go to the Space Market again?"

"Wait, I second that. I want to buy a plasma gun," Gaz cut in, sandwiching Zim between them.

"You're not getting one," Zim said.

"A sword, then."

"….Maybe."

"Wh—no! No, she is not getting a sword!"

"Hey, you're not the buyer," Gaz shot back. Zim snickered, letting the two sway him on his feet when they bickered.

"I have to have the knowledge you're home with a sword."

"It's a better weapon than my bat."

"The bat you put nails in?!"

"Okay, that is a pretty good one," Gaz said proudly.

"…I want to see that," Zim says. Dib slapped his forehead.

"Let's just get the damn milkshakes, already."

"Strawberry!" Zim cheered. "I'm getting five."

"You're getting one."