Ok, I've never done a songfic before. I offered a faithful reader (Kazehana23) a story request, and when the crossover they wanted couldn't work (I wasn't familiar with the series they wanted- sorry D:) they asked for a songfic. So I figured "Yeah, what the hell. I've never done one- it'll be an opportunity to practice." And they gave me an enormous list of songs to choose from xD I finally picked one I liked and felt I could work with, and thus this was born. I hope it flows somewhat smoothly- I tried to integrate the lyric meanings to the story, but man, its harder than it sounds. Hope you like it, Kaze :D Enjooooy~

*Also, if you don't like songfics, just skip the italicized centered chunks. It reads mostly like a regular story, otherwise.*

Pairing: Tak/Zim

Song: Shadows by Red.


"Master? Do you want some cookies? I… I added asparagus this time! Your favorite!"

The shrill, hopeful question bounced off the despondently quiet walls of the house and easily reached the Irken curled on the faded couch in a mixture of anger, sadness, and betrayal.

Sunset, I close my eyes

I pretend everything's alright.

Drowning in anger from all these lies

I can't pretend everything's alright.

Please don't let me fall forever

Can you tell me it's over?

"No, Gir. I'm busy wallowing- leave me alone." The answer drifted from the Irken slowly, the only discernible inflection giving a distinct air of uncaring to the voice. Immediately an afterthought was added to the statement, mumbled and rambling. "And I hate asparagus. Stupid green Earth plant with its stupid tufty things at the top and stupid…uh…legs."

The android's hopeful grin wilted, and the glowing blue eyes sadly looked over the batch of questionable confections it held in its pincer hands. During their baking, it had vaguely occurred to him that asparagus was in fact not an ingredient that generally went into cookies, but the dinging of the oven timer had swiftly distracted the robot- and so, in the vegetable went.

But at least his master's refusals were becoming slightly more normal. When he had gotten the call from the two big tall angry broccoli people a few weeks ago, his master had sagged like an old baloney and gone all quivery. However, Gir had scrambled away and hid the instant the Irken had gone rigid and begun screaming at the blank screen.

Old machine parts had been thrown, Pak leg lasers had scorched nearly every smooth surface, claw marks rent thinner metal plates asunder, and screams of rage and denial had filled the entire lower level for hours on end. An infiltrating Dib had crouched motionlessly in a storage closet for the duration, heart hammering in fear of being discovered as he listened to the Irken's part lament, part wrath.

Never before had he heard Zim sound so angry. Never before had he heard the "unfeeling" alien sound so torn, so broken, so betrayed.

"They lied to me! All this time! Lies, all of it!"

The young paranormal investigator had hightailed it out of the base as soon as the opportunity presented itself; he hadn't stuck around for photos, videos, or to hook his laptop up with the main computer to steal Zim's files. He hadn't tried to confront the alien, nor spy on him- all that seemed to matter was escaping before his life was mercilessly ended by the brunt of Zim's anger. And escape he had, walking home at the blindingly fast speed of a snail. He had a lot to consider now, now that he could no longer mark Zim as either a threat or an emotionless drone of a hive-minded race.

But the Dib and his revelations were as far from the alien's battered mind as possible. The day after the first had been the worst, actually- because while the first day had been spent in a fit of senseless rage and destruction, the second had been spent jammed in a corner of his lab and thinking. Thinking, wondering, grieving. Time seemed to have stretched on endlessly. Only when his computer dared to hesitantly inform him that skool began in a few hours did the alien move, slowly scraping himself off the floor and dragging himself to the exit. Nearly leaving without his wig and contacts, the Irken was largely avoided at skool on account of his scarily deathlike appearance and sluggish persona.

Even Dib had left him be. Only once had the human approached him, and got only so far as opening his mouth and letting the alien's name eke out and trail off uncertainly, before reluctantly locking eyes with the ex-invader.

The look that passed between them was all they ever needed. It spoke volumes, and Dib let out a sigh before nodding slowly in return to Zim's gaze and plodding back to his lunch table with Gaz.

There had been centuries of depth in those eyes, visible in the shining red behind the false plastic lenses. The extent of the betrayal had compromised a large part of what made the alien who he was. Without anyone to work for, to live for, what did the alien have now?

Life. Scoffing inwardly at the irony of the world, Zim twirled the spoon stuck in the mashed potatoes he never ate. What was life without purpose? Why bother? Certainly there was no reason to end it- suicide was cowardly among the proud Irkens- but there was also no reason to continue it.

But perhaps, if he tried hard enough, he could learn to tolerate at best this place of banishment. The sky might be tinged with pollution, the humans may smell awfully, and the city may be crowded and unsanitary, but there were worse places. He could have been sent to planet Dirt, after all…

~..~..~..~..~

She had hated him. His voice, his face, his attitude, everything. She had hated him so much that even after several months of drifting through space until finally making it to a planet advanced enough to acquire a new ship at, the only thought branded into her mind was revenge. (…again.)

She hated him so much that even Mimi began to tread carefully around her when she was in one of her moods on the trip back to Earth. Flying into the occasional rage and stamping the few paces the small "borrowed" Hail Cruiser would allow, she took to furious muttering and cursing and plotting to fill the silent void. Swears and oaths in languages from across the universe were a near constant accompaniment to the humming and electrical buzzing of the ship's white noise workings.

The obedient SIR unit kept its distance despite knowing its master would never have such a leave of sense that she would attack her own assistant. Staying away simply seemed the polite thing to do- in the robot's smoothly functioning thought process, the more anger her master built up over the long trip back to Earth, the better.

Because after all, anger begot hate. And hate begot ideas. Those ideas begot plans, and those plans begot action.

And oh, such action she would have. Action that involved screaming, and ripping, and stabbing, and shooting, and maiming and killing and smashing and-

In. Out. In. Out.

Breathing slowly, Tak harnessed every bit of resolve within her to resist punching the console. She would get him. She would finally get him, and when she did, he would wish he had never been hatched.

~..~..~..~..~

So… why had it ended up like this, pointing an Irken laser pistol at her enemy's head as he regarded her with a mixture of dolefulness and defiance? Part of him- the angry, screamy part- was silently demanding to know why she had the figurative balls to bash down his door undisguised in the middle of the afternoon, tear the head off his innocent robot (all he'd done was ask if the scary lady had wanted tomato flavored cookies), and stalk across the room to place him at gunpoint without hesitation.

This anger at her blatant intrusion was apparent in his sharp, narrowed eyes.

But when Tak snarled and ground the end of the gun farther against his forehead, she paused at the hidden complacency she discerned behind the characteristic anger. Zim was by no means a whimpering little smeet, but the look he shot her belied his chaotic and distressed state of mind.

It was a dare.

"Go on, shoot me. I dare you. What have I to lose?"

The challenge was so obvious it was as though Zim had spoken the words himself, rather than continued to silently glare at her from around the barrel of the pistol.

Tak's arm shuddered in uncertainty. Killing him here, now, like this… that wasn't a victory. It was no more a victory than a cruel earth child killing a passing cat with a bb gun. The gun shook against Zim's skin.

To kill, or not to kill?

Removing the pistol at last, Tak practically spat at the ex-invader in disgust. "I assume you've been told the truth, then?"

Zim's eyes flicked down to the gun still cocked and ready at her side, before resettling on her uniquely shaped purple eyes. "…Hmph." Was all he deigned to offer her, crossing his arms and looking past her at his decapitated robot.

Tak was clearly dissatisfied with this answer, and she poked the Irken's thin chest with her gun to get her point across. "Finally accepted that a defective has no place among us?" She taunted quietly, observing Zim's fists clench furiously.

"Us? You're no different than me! You escaped your banishment as well, failed in your initial plan to destroy me, and instead of running back to the Tallest with your tail between your legs, you return here yet again. I can't see how I'm the only one with the faulty Pak." Zim retorted instantly, knowing he'd hit a tender nerve when Tak's eyes widened a fraction.

Had she seriously not considered that her own behavior was treasonous? That now she too would be killed if she entered Irken airspace again?

For that comment Zim earned himself a thwack to the side of the head with the butt of the gun, and he winced and rubbed the spot as Tak fluctuated between looking bewildered and murderous.

"The Tallest… The Tallest will surely grant me amnesty if I bring them photos of your entrails decorating your own base!" She hastily reasoned, pushing Zim back against the couch with the laser gun grinding into his squeedilyspooch.

Zim spared the gun a flat glance, and again met her eyes. "You know they won't. Face it, Tak- I'm the only Irken you can ever hope to see for the rest of your life." Here Zim cracked a sardonic grin. "Might as well get used to me, unless you want to kill off the only other member of your race in this entire quadrant of space."

One crushing punch to the abdomen and howl of rage later, Zim watched from his place doubled over on the floor as Tak donned her holographic disguise and fled the base to allow her ire to run itself out in the nearby woods.

Picking himself up off the floor with a pained grunt, Zim dragged himself over to the two pieces of Gir. The body had already proceeded to run into the closest wall repeatedly in an effort to find the head, and Zim sighed and kicked it over so Gir could reattach it.

Well. That encounter had gone surprisingly smoothly.

~..~..~..~..~

At first, things were so tense between the two aliens that sparks almost literally ignited the air between them. Forced social situations in skool gave the two ample opportunity to throw venomous glares one another's way, and rarely a day passed that Dib didn't chuckle to himself at Zim's new thorn in the side.

But between the curses and glowers, it didn't escape Dib that despite his now occasional civil interaction with the male Irken- not friendly, but it was better than nothing- the two often looked so horribly lonely. If they would swallow their bloody pride for even a single day, perhaps they could manage to get along enough to…what? What would two exiled Irkens even talk about? Training? Irk? Snacks?

Either way, that sort of disconnection with one's own species was a planet-sized hole Dib couldn't foresee Zim filling on his own, nor with his own sparse help. Watching the two on opposite ends of the cafeteria pick at their respective foods, Dib couldn't help but run a hand through his hair at the grim despair settled across both countenances.

Moron aliens. One of them would have to break eventually; they couldn't keep living in the darkness forever, after all.

~..~..~..~..~

There's a hate inside of me like some kind of master

I tried to save you, but I can't find the answer

I'm holding onto you, I'll never let go

I need you with me as I enter the shadows

"I really, really hate you."

"Mmh. Good morning to you too, Tak." Zim groused as he reluctantly scooted over to make room for her on the bus. It appeared as though nobody was absent today, and the few other seats she could have occupied were rudely filled by bags or legs. Filthy humans, taking up entire bus seats for themselves and forcing her to sit here

"Since when do you ride the bus?"

Zim gave up trying to ignore the female Irken (she was only a few inches away) and slid his false lavender irises over to her. "Since I deemed it better than walking to skool in the cold. The heater is broken anyway, but it's not as windy."

The shiver that passed through her frame caught his eye, and he fought to keep the smirk off his face and out of his voice. "You weren't aware of the cold front coming in today, I assume?"

Tak rolled her eyes, making an obvious effort to avoid shivering. It was entirely likely she wasn't even aware Earth could get much colder than this- the last time she'd been here had been in the middle of summer time.

"So, how's Mimi? Last I remember, she had a…uh… problem." Zim tried sheepishly, all the while asking himself why he was even bothering to make conversation with Tak of all people.

This got him an irritated glare, and Tak ran her hands up and down her arms in an effort to generate warmth briefly before answering. "That problem was caused by your dysfunctional robot. But she's fine now, thank you."

The words were hissed contemptuously, and Zim let out a puff of air and leaned back against the seat and window. She needed to get over the past already- was hating him this much really worth all the effort? They were stuck on this rock together; why couldn't they make the most of it and be civil, like he and the Dib slime were becoming? Granted, he hadn't completely destroyed Dib's life twice in a row… but still!

Speaking of destroyed lives, Zim's expression soured as he remembered his morning. He had come across one of his old plans for taking over the Earth while rooting around in a closet in the house level of his base, and reading it over had made him realize both how ridiculously impossible it would have been to pull off, and how empty he still felt with no real purpose.

Was he always going to feel this crappy about his lot in life? Irkens lived a long time. Maybe he should just toss his Pak in the trash and expire, honor be dammed. It's not like any Irkens other than Tak would know anyway.

"Somebody looks brooding and morbid." Tak commented from his right, peering over at him with mild interest.

"No! Just… eh… thinking about Irk is all." Zim immediately lied, holding Tak's piercing gaze steadily.

"Irk, huh…" She finally trailed off, and broke the stare to look out the window at the scenery scrolling by instead.

"Y-yeah." Zim affirmed, fidgeting with his gloves. "Just, you know, remembering the Great Snack Hall. Oh, and the Neverending Popcorn Bowl Café."

Tak was silent for a while, and just as Zim decided he wasn't going to receive a reply, her voice drifted over in a low tone. "Heh. And Schloogorgh's wasn't too far, huh Zim?"

"Not funny." He grumbled, crossing his arms with a huff. "Although, if memory serves, Dirt wasn't all that far from Irk either."

Tak scowled, gritting her teeth. Bug eyed, stupid little…

At least the bus had finally arrived at the skool. As students began filing off and pushing for a space in line, Tak neatly slid in between two people and left Zim to fend for himself among the rest of the throng of smelly grease children. Shoving his way between Morla and M, the Irken stepped off the bus and noticed Tak sitting on one of the faded green benches to wait until the bell rang to allow the children inside.

He also noted that she still let a shiver slip through her stoic exterior now and again, and Zim debated heavily with himself before swearing and stomping over to her.

Before Tak could protest Zim coming within five feet of her willingly, a red jacket had been unceremoniously dumped on her head. Angrily tugging it off, she glared at Zim's back as he about-faced and began to march off pointedly.

Only a short sentence was tossed over his shoulder at her: "Don't lose that. Gir ate my last one, so that's all I've got."

Watching the Irken trudge up to Dib on the opposite side of the courtyard and strike up an awkward conversation with the sort-of-but-not-really friend, Tak turned her eyes down to the fabric. It was clearly of human make, but it was an expensive purchase- far be it from the almighty Zim to buy cheaply- and still held the lingering warmth from the last body that had worn it. Biting her lip, Tak caught Zim's eye from across the large space and was clearly able to see the stutter in his conversation as he looked anywhere but at her, instead turning away just as she caught the darker green color dusting his face.

It had been an unexpectedly nice gesture, and Tak slowly pulled the jacket around her. The fabric kept out the chill and the previous ambient heat warmed her up, and she half smiled as her previously terrible mood evaporated. Perhaps, if given enough time, they could both come around. With their worlds destroyed and fallen apart around them, they could both use someone to lean on. Letting go of her hate wouldn't be easy, but so long as Zim didn't blow up her SIR unit or make any more rude remarks about her time on Dirt, they just might be able to brave the shadows together.

~..~..~..~..~

Caught in the darkness, I go blind

But can you help me find my way out?

Nobody hears me, I suffer the silence

Can you tell me it's over now?

It had been months. Several rough, bitter months. But steadily the ice began to thaw, and conversation came more easily. Reminiscing about the past and their respective failures no longer had the mocking sting it once did, and being within a few feet of one another ceased to make the two want to puke out the contents of their squeedilyspooches. Punches went from angry to playful, and laughs ceased being spiteful and taunting.

Afternoons were occasionally spent at each other's houses, either helping Tak to expand her underground base or developing various (and sometimes stupid) weapons at Zim's. It was during one such time-killing endeavor that Tak happened to snag Gir as he was walking by with Mimi and idly unscrewed his head on the workbench while swatting at him to keep still. She had honestly always wondered what made the little android tick- or rather, tick very improperly- and decided a quick peek at his internal workings wouldn't do much harm.

"Disassembling my robot? I'm sure whatever he tried to bake for you wasn't all that bad."

Zim's curious voice from over her shoulder made Tak jump, and she let out a relieved breath- luckily enough, he didn't seem angry at all for her uninvited inspection of his faulty minion. So, proceeding to unscrew the robot's head as he sucked contentedly on one of his pincer hands, Tak began to feel around inside as she explained herself.

"No, no. I could have put him through a wall yesterday- he tried to get me to eat broccoli flavored pudding- but he hasn't done anything today. I'm just curious…" Her sentence was left hanging as she frowned and gave the robot her full attention. Why was his head empty?

Squinting into the hollow head, Tak furrowed her brow as she dug out a few items that clinked and clicked against each other in her claws. Wordlessly presenting them to Zim as Gir silently switched off behind them, Zim's mouth hung slightly open as he accepted the items from her.

What… what was all this… this junk!? A screw? A paperclip? Coins?

"This is garbage!" Zim snarled, clenching a fist around the useless objects and tossing them back in Gir's head. As the android merrily powered back up and skipped off to find Mimi again, Zim stalked out of the workroom and made a beeline for the lab he had personally trashed not so long ago. "They told me it was "advanced"! I should have known they had some reason for digging through the trash can before giving me Gir!" Zim ranted furiously, pacing among the wreckage of the room.

Tak slowly followed, and her purple eyes widened at the sight of the main computer room. Repairing it had not been essential- Computer could be operated via voice or through other smaller terminals- but it had no doubt once been an impressive sight. Dust and claw marks marred nearly every surface now, and a grating noise indicated a few more scratches in the metal had just been added. Tracking Zim as he stiffly walked back and forth across the room angrily grinding his jaw and keeping his antennae pinned back, Tak sadly watched him take out his frustrations on the surrounding machinery. Having had a fit of rage of her own but a few days ago, the female Irken could relate.

Despite having each other and their memories, being banished from everything you knew and loved was still a hard thing to accept and sometimes those tensions bubbled to the surface. And when they did, there was no stopping them; one could only weather the storm.

After a few more minutes of yelling and thrashing, Zim calmed down enough to lean against a destroyed console and rub the space between his eyes in aggravation. That habit was, Tak off-handedly noticed, adopted from Dib. However, lacking a nose and therefore a nose bridge to rub, the alien soon took to massaging his temples instead.

Deeming it safe to approach, Tak leaned her weight against the same console as Zim and crossed her arms, allowing the barest brush of shoulders.

"You know… for what it's worth, I like Gir."

Zim gave a combination snort and laugh, letting out a pent up breath and craning his neck to observe the ceiling. (The only surface in the entire room that remained smooth and unmarred.)

"Yeah. I like him too. When he's not trying to feed me his disgusting culinary creations."

This elicited an unexpected laugh from Tak. The seldom heard sound filled the demolished computer room and made the shadows seem to seep away from the corners, and Zim's gaze immediately switched from the boring and plain ceiling to Tak's far more interesting and (he'd be lying if he didn't admit it) elegantly shaped face. The last time he'd succeeded in making her laugh had been two weeks ago when he'd made the mistake of leaving the Kerplar Drill running unattended, and returned to find the tool thrashing around the workroom like an incensed snake. He had been forced to idiotically dance his way around it to avoid being skewered and punched full of tiny painful holes, and his screams and frantic attempts to grasp the handle of the corded drill without losing a finger had gotten Tak to crack up as she observed the battle from the doorway.

She had captured his attention then, and just the same as before, he found himself unable to take his eyes off her now. Only when laughing did she seem so relaxed, so… at peace. Would she tolerate it if he…?

Tak's laugh cut short when she felt Zim's claws gently wind through her own, and her Pak supplied the memory of the two removing their gloves earlier to do delicate circuitry work before she had snagged Gir.

Clearly they had never thought to put them back on, and the skin on skin sensation was unnerving. Not unsettling, as she felt it should have been, but still a foreign experience nonetheless.

What did one even do in this situation? Tak wasn't a fool, but she also wasn't in familiar territory. However, as one of Zim's claws carefully ran over the back of her thumb, an unbidden gut feeling told her to return the grip and she did so hesitantly.

The small reaction did not go unnoticed by Zim, who couldn't stop a hint of a smile from passing over his face. He'd expected to at least get shooed away; this was quite the pleasant surprise.

The two remained with hands interlocked and sides lightly pressing for a few minutes, letting the silence drift by. On Zim's end, a battle was raging. Why Tak? Sure, they'd been getting along very well the past few months and had reconciled with each other (sort of- if being beaten in an arm wrestling match counted as being forgiven), but she was so often cold and aloof. If he pushed his luck, would she let him in? Or shove him away due to her instincts of self-preservation?

And on Tak's end, a similar battle was being fought. Irkens didn't need each other. They were a solitary species, relying only on destruction and war to get by. So why did the feel of another hand in hers seem so right instead of feeling like an abomination? Granted, the rare relationship between Irkens did occur once in a blue moon, but they were still discouraged. A distracted soldier was a burden; partnerships were often broken up by assignings, missions, or deaths.

And yet… there was nothing to bother them here. Lightyears away from Irk, forgotten and ignored by the empire… who or what was there to possibly interfere with them now?

They had been pondering far too long. Zim swiftly came to the conclusion that he would eventually need to move; but that didn't mean he needed to move away.

There's a hate inside of me like some kind of master

I tried to save you, but I can't find the answer.

I'm holding onto you, I'll never let go

I need you with me as I enter the shadows.

A muffled rustle of fabric later and Zim was holding his breath in anticipation and bracing for retaliation. His move had been bold- would he lose one arm for this, or both?

I'm holding onto you

But for now, he would enjoy it. Resting his forehead against her shoulder as his claws rested on her hips, he breathed in the scent he had unknowingly come to recognize as Tak.

I'm holding onto you

Bodies politely not touching- he would have been killed on the spot if he had dared- Zim still felt that inch of space between them like a canyon.

Mmn. Well. He'd be getting pummeled shortly, so there was no point in crying over spilled milk.

There's a hate inside of me like some kind of master

But the pummeling never came. Instead, the tense set of Tak's shoulders loosened bit by bit. Her arms still hung at her sides uselessly, but the occasional finger twitch betrayed the desire to do something- anything- with them rather than let them hang idly. Shouldn't she have gouged out his eyes by now? Wasn't she supposed to despise this Irken? Wasn't she supposed to hate his very existence? Working together had initially only been for the purpose of analyzing each other's Paks in an attempt to fix whatever defect caused them to be so radically different from the rest of their race.

I tried to save you, but I can't find the answer

When had it turned into this? What was "this"? Zim seemed to have a fair idea of what he wanted "this" to be. And, for once in his failure-filled life, was he right about something?

At that point, with the air thick between them, all Tak could coherently think was whatever. If the Tallest wanted them banished, so be it. Because the threat of their rage at two miniscule, defective "invaders" seemed so pale and fake in comparison to the warmth just centimeters away.

Stepping forward, Tak's arms awkwardly pulled Zim closer. Hiding her smirk in the crook of his neck when she heard the smothered "eep" at what he likely assumed was a murder attempt, she let out a breath that she felt she'd been holding since she first landed here. Zim was nice to hold- certainly far better than nothing. She could easily see herself making a habit of it.

Because, when the world consisted of only them, their shadows melted away.

I'm holding onto you, I'll never let go

I need you with me as I enter the shadows.


Yaaaaay. So yeah, I hope I did okay. C: And I hope you liked it, Kaze! :D Reviews would mucho appreciated- I'm curious as to what people think of my songfic-writing ability, haha. (Or if I should just stick to regular stories, let me know xD ) Oh, and let it be known that I do usually take requests. If you've had a plotbunny or particular story you've been itching to see written or something, just shoot me a PM or mention it in a review. I'll more than likely go with it, and if I do, it'll probably end up as a chapter in this collective. Requests would help give me more material to put here, actually. So don't be shy c:

~.~.~

(Vampsmoonangel, I saw your review. Never fear. More antenna-centric stuff will probably (soon) be here xD But just for clarification, was there a particular pairing you had in mind? Feel free to PM me or answer in a review, either works since I always read both.)