Gaz has turned Zim's house into her gaming haven and Dib is both worried and perplexed. ZimxGaz

Undefined

It was a phase; it had to be, even if she was a hard core gamer it didn't mean she didn't go through the phases a girl her age would be going through, or at least some of them. Gaz Membrane was now sixteen years of age and her brother didn't know if he should be relieved or worried. She was never bothered by the absence of a mother, or by anything at all for that matter, as long as she had her games. Lack of video games was the only thing that seemed to trouble her. She never had an interest in makeup and the like and she still didn't even now. She could pull off the goth look without black makeup remarkably well. Yet at some point she had to decide that she had enough of spending all her time in a house with two males that were both her close relatives and both always caught up in their own business. Dib didn't question Gaz's escapes at first, but when they became frequent, he asked her where she was going. He didn't know for how long she had been going off every after noon after school until the evening, but after not hearing from Zim in that particular time period for several days, Dib's mind finally picked up on the detail.

With a very natural and uninterested tone, Gaz had informed her brother that she was going to play video games at a friend's house. That was the end of the short conversation right there. With a small nod, Dib dismissed his sister, satisfied for the time being with her reply. Eventually, his freed up period of time every afternoon after school until dinner in the evening, gave Dib the time to form a bubble of curiosity in his head. He inquired of his sister again, about her gamer friend. Then it happened.

"He's just a friend," there was a carefree shrug accompanying Gaz's expression as she went out the door. She didn't stay to wait for her brother to dismiss her with a nod that indicated his curiosity was satisfied, nor did she show any emotion in her action. But there was that little shrug that bought her a second's time as if she needed it to consider her answer.

Dib was a very perceptive young man. At the age of seventeen he would have been considered a genius if his constant pursuit of Zim hadn't already convinced most of the student body and faculty of his school that he was insane. But it was okay, he didn't want to graduate early and go to college, mostly because he wouldn't be going to his choice of university. Not that he couldn't get in, but rather, it was not in his home town and he couldn't leave with Zim there. He would attend a local community college and maybe take a few extra classes online. Then maybe he could devote himself fully to his scientific career after planet Earth was safe. After all, what good would a PHD do him if the human race was enslaved or exterminated?

Yet his own future wasn't what concerned Dib at that moment, it was his sister's. With the hidden gene of a protective brother suddenly awakening and becoming active, he felt a wave of anxiety wash over him. Gaz's friend was male, she had confirmed as much by calling that person a he. Furthermore, their status as just friends was not as clearly established as she might have consciously thought, or perhaps wanted to make it appear. They were borderline something more... 'Stop!' Dib mentally told himself. He was jumping to conclusions and he shouldn't do that. Gaz didn't care about boys, she didn't care about humans in general, he thought at times. She just wanted that guy's games, it was innocent, it was pure, it wasn't a threat.

Dib crossed his arms in thought as he stared at the door his sister had exited through. He considered leaving the house and looking for Gaz out of curiosity, or at least he wanted to convince himself it was curiosity and nothing more. He would find her, never mind how, he was a genius, he would think of a way, and he would take a peek through the window. Then he would see Gaz focused on a game, winning obviously, while the boy in question lost to her. But he wouldn't lose too miserably, she played with him regularly after all, yet that sport-like rivalry would be all there was between them, that and nothing more.

xoxox xox xoxox

It was a very strange day when Zim returned to his house that time. The two robots that always greeted him did so with their now worn "welcome home, son." He paid them no mind and walked past them, followed by Gir. The robot said something incoherent about tacos and bounced off towards the kitchen. Zim walked across the living room, intent on heading to the lab to plot against Dib, but something made him pause. He froze, then retraced his steps walking backwards until he was staring at the source of the soft tapping sounds. The human female who was Dib's sister was sitting on his couch, a hand held game in her hands and headphones connected to it on her ears. He presumed that the noises the device usually made were audible only to her now and that perhaps she had not notice his arrival.

Zim took a step forward as indignation built up inside him. How dare she, the sister of the enemy, invade his base? Yet Gaz's almost imperceptible, "hey," made him stop silent and held back the insults in his throat. "Dib's latest project caused a short circuit in my house," she informed.

Zim blinked, about to tell her it wasn't his problem, but then something snapped and he actually took a moment to muse on her words. She had mentioned Dib's project and the project in question caused a short circuit, meaning that it must require more power than the meager electrical structure of the outdated neighborhood could provide. Obviously, the enigmatic project had to be something that the Dib human would use against Zim, the irken was sure of it. "Oh?" He prompted, trying to think of ways to make the girl before him speak.

"Yeah," not once did Gaz look up from her game. "The power fluctuations are annoying," she vented. She didn't usually speak so openly, but she needed to let this out. "My consoles might get damaged, so I'm hanging out here."

Zim interpreted her statement as a surrender, "yes, come here, come to Zim!"

"I am here, stupid," Gaz snapped.

"Yes... Well... What I mean is..."

"If Dib tries to take my consoles apart to build his stupid inventions..." The rapid motion of Gaz's fingers over the control never ceased as she momentarily lifted her gaze to look into Zim's eyes with piercing ferocity. "I'll kill him."

The certainty behind the statement made Zim shudder. As convenient as it would be for Dib to be murdered by his sister, the invader had his Irken pride to uphold and wanted to finish off his rival on his own. He wasn't sure what to say to her. Perhaps he should assert authority or something, except the only part of her moving were her fingers so he couldn't exactly count that as resistance. None the less he should state his authority as the master of this prisoner of war anyway. "You are now-"

"Hey," Gaz looked up for a little longer now, her trained fingers hitting pause as she focused her attention on contemplating the idea. Zim frowned, but curiously let her speak, saying she was his prisoner was redundant anyway, surely she knew, she had surrendered after all. "Do you mind if I keep my consoles here?"

Zim blinked, taken aback. "Eh?"

"For safe keeping I mean," Gaz continued. "If you touch them, I'll kill you."

A cold chill ran down Zim's spine and he wondered if his pak had a malfunction because he couldn't seriously be reacting to this human's threats. He didn't consider the possibility of her being a spy; even Zim knew that Gaz held no interest in exposing him. "Your recreational devices will be safe here." He paused; realizing he was being too merciful, prisoners shouldn't have access to recreation after all. Yet there was no hard labor he could think of assigning to her, not without revealing the more private areas of his base at least, and he couldn't do that.

Gaz pulled the plug from the wall where her game had been charging. She wrapped it up carefully and got up from the couch. "Thanks," she murmured before walking past Zim and out the door.

Zim blinked, he didn't know what just happened, but somehow his prisoner had escaped from right under his fist, metaphorically speaking.

Yet she did return on the next day with several consoles that her brother didn't see her remove from the house. She set them up at Zim's living room and played. Zim let her, thinking that an entertained prisoner, albeit improper, was better than no prisoner at all. He did assign Gir to guard her and the robot happily joined her in playing, sharing his tacos. Zim was surprised that Gaz actually took the time to teach Gir to play and that the robot was good at it. In fact, Gir had been far less clumsy and much more agile since his guard duty.

One day Zim had mentioned it, praising his little minion, mostly to praise himself, and Gir let it slip that, "Gaz made me better."

Zim was outraged and demanded to know what that meant, interrogating Gaz immediately. She shrugged and explained, "I have experience from refurbishing consoles and handhelds at the shop." She referred to her job which she attended on the weekends to earn money that could finance her electronic recreational activities.

Zim had thought long and hard about Gaz's short reply, which was all she said before going back to ignoring him and focusing on her games. Gir was better off that way and had managed to get Zim out of a few close calls, heeding his commands with more precision than ever, probably having gotten used to following orders from when he played in a team game with Gaz. The invader reasoned that this was a sign that Gaz, though she came and went from his house as she pleased, was indeed his prisoner, as she had found a way to serve him despite his goal to annihilate her race. Maybe he could keep her as a pet after it was all said and done.

Yet the day came when Zim had to be disappointed and find that though Gir had the opportunity to kill Dib, he did not. The robot claimed that Gaz had requested that he did not harm her brother. Though the stakes were in his favor, in a betrayed rage, Zim had retreated. It was a weekend, Gaz was at work. She would get out in the late afternoon and go play at his house. He would reproach her for her disloyalty then.

It was on that same day that Gaz went to her house after work. There was no need for her to walk there with her brother, as she always did in her own quiet way of caring for him and she had no books to drop off. She went by herself, changed out of the shirt she had accidentally spilled ketchup on during lunch and left. It was on that day that her brother asked her a question that made her want to laugh. She could smell the suspicion in his voice before he became aware of it; he wanted to ask her if she had found a boyfriend. Saying Zim was just a friend felt odd. He guarded his consoles, true to his word never to touch anything without permission, but he had that delusion of holding her hostage. She wasn't even sure what to call their relationship. He wasn't her enemy, yet he wasn't exactly her friend, he was more useful than that. Her ally? Dib wouldn't understand and either way he wouldn't like it. So she just called him a friend.

xoxox xox xoxox

Dib was determined to find out just who his sister's friend was, but he couldn't locate her. Passing by the house of his enemy, the secret alien base, Dib felt the tickle of curiosity and dashed passed the guard garden gnomes that had long since ceased to function. The seventeen year old looked through the window, wondering why Zim didn't pick a fight with him during that time period anymore. He didn't expect to see anything useful, but what he saw shocked him. There was Gaz apparently engaged in an argument with Zim. The base had been sound proof after the neighbors called the police on Zim complaining about some noisy wild party that was actually the construction of a doomed to failure doomsday device. It was like watching a muted movie, the expressions, the hand gestures, they had no voices, yet both Zim and Gaz conveyed so much in their faces that the anger was palpable.

When Gaz arrived earlier, Zim wasn't minding his own business as he usually was. He had taken to remaining at the house when she was around lately. If it was part of his routine that he established independently of her presence or if it was because any missions he undertook would have to be without Gir, as he always stayed with her when she was around, Gaz didn't know. Either way, the Irken was quiet enough and he didn't bother her. He'd wear his disguise at first, but then started taking it off as soon as he went through the door. He would go to his underground lab and return to the house level occasionally. Then he started bringing things to work with and would sit sketching blueprints or tinkering with small machines on the couch next to her, giving her suspicious glances now and then, as if expecting her to do something offensive. When she didn't do anything except play, with herself and Gir wearing headphones, thus leaving Zim's focus undisturbed, the Irken began to relax.

Thus many days passed in such a fashion. Zim would work on something or other, occasionally becoming entranced by the mute images on the screen. On one occasion, he leaned close to Gaz's headphones trying to hear any filtering sounds from them. He didn't hear any; these were high tech expensive headphones after all, though he did remain like a statue, his head on her shoulder, straining to hear something to satisfy his curiosity without lowering himself to asking for the headphones. She had gotten an extra pair the next day, which she placed on Zim's spot of the couch so he could listen when he felt like it and remove them when he wanted silence. Wordlessly, he had put them on as if they had always been his. He would still draw blueprints or tinker with something or other, his head moving to the rhythm of the game's music, occasionally looking up when something sounded peculiar to him.

Gaz had gotten Gir his own memory cards; she had looked through them and learned from Gir that Zim did play when she was away. Judging by his achievements, he was decent and getting better, but certainly not as good as her. He was probably too embarrassed to lose to a human and feigned disinterest beyond mild curiosity when she was around. That's how it was, they had settled into a comfortable routine in which each other's presence was part of an undisturbed background. Yet not today; today Zim was pacing around when Gaz arrived, he was looking angry.

Attributing it to another foiled plan by the hands of her brother, Gaz went to cross the length of the living room towards her usual spot on the couch, but Zim blocked her path with an angry scowl. "Traitor," he hissed.

"Pardon?" Gaz raised an eyebrow in confusion.

"You betrayed Zim!" The irked shouted angrily.

"What?" Gaz snapped. Never had Zim subjected her to the dramatics that he reserved for his speeches of rivalry with her brother. He was suspicious yet calm and confident in her presence, and as of late, as he got accustomed to her, he was even relaxed.

The glare Zim gave her was fierce, but Gaz didn't finch. "You betrayed me."

"How?" Gaz demanded, instantly having enough of this.

"You were supposed to be my loyal prisoner. You surrendered to me and I mercifully allowed you to keep your recreational devices here, plus I even allowed you to visit your family every day. I don't even know why I trusted your loyalty..." The acid feeling of broken trust crept over Zim's whole body. "I was too merciful, that was my mistake," he painstakingly admitted. "You shall pay for your betrayal, Dib's sister!"

"Gaz," she corrected. "My name is Gaz."

"Dib's sister!" Zim insisted with venom. "You are not my Gaz, you are not my human prisoner of war, you are not my loyal servant, you are the ally of my enemy," he growled. "You brainwashed my robot!"

"Gir doesn't have a brain," Gaz pointed out as a matter of fact, "and his hard drive isn't all that big either. I didn't damage his AI, I didn't touch it."

"You did something to him," Zim insisted.

"Yes, I corrected a few bugs, but his AI's core programming is intact, he is the same." She wanted to be a video game designer, thus she had some experience in programming through self teaching, she did come from a high IQ family after all. "I fixed up his circuitry and joints a bit. I didn't damage him."

"You told him not to kill the Dib human," Zim accused.

"I didn't put that into his head, not into his programming," Gaz revealed. "I only asked him not to let you two kill each other and he willingly agreed to comply."

Zim went to open his mouth in an accusation, but paused. "Each other? As if the Dib human could ever defeat me! But there is one thing the great Zim does not understand. Why ensure both our lives? You are still loyal to your brother aren't you?"

Gaz shrugged, "he's my brother and you..." her friend? The keeper of her safe haven? She didn't know what to say that Zim would understand, so she didn't finish, instead confessing something else. "I would prefer if you both lived."

Zim opened and closed his mouth like a fish. "You cannot be loyal to your master and his enemy at the same time. It is a contradiction!"

"Zim..." Gaz narrowed her eyes dangerously and stepped forward. "You're not my master, I never surrendered to you. I only wanted a safe place for my consoles with a steady supply of electricity to power them."

The revelation hit Zim like a ton of bricks. "You lied... You deceived Zim..."

'Not intentionally,' Gaz was tempted to say, but she didn't, because she knew of his delusions and she let him be.

Meeting her silence with a frown, Zim took it as admittance to her crime. He started pacing again, muttering to himself. "I had heard rumors, rumors that the females of the human race were exceptionally deceiving creatures. I never thought one could deceive a proud member of the superior Irken race."

"Zim," Gaz tried to reason with him.

The alien stopped his pacing and glared at the human angrily. "You must be punished!" He growled. "Maybe I'll disintegrate you or maybe..." He looked at the consoles in his living room. "Or maybe I'll take apart your precious treasures and-" A hard pressure in his throat prevented him from continuing.

Gaz's face was so close to Zim's that if he had a nose, it would be touching hers. "Touch my consoles and I'll kill you." She assured in a dark and serious voice, her hands grasping his throat so tightly that Zim thought she would rip his head off there and then. After a solemn tense minute, she released him.

Zim fell to the floor, gasping. What was it about this human was so deadly, so dangerous so peculiarly... attractive? Attractive to curiosity that is, attractive to the studious eye, to the curious mind and to a conqueror that needed to understand the creatures he was destined to conquer for the sake of his mission. That was what Zim usually thought, but right then, there was little more on his mind than betrayal. "Get out," he growled, eyes still locked on the floor. Then he lifted his head slowly and glared as maliciously as he could. "Take your recreational devices and leave! I never want to see your traitorous face at my base again!" With those words, spoken in fury, Zim retreated to his underground laboratory.

"Fine!" Gaz shouted after him, as the hidden elevator went down. She began to pack up her things.

"Doop dee doop dee doo," Gir danced over to her. "I made cupcakes!" The little robot held out a tray with three chocolate covered cupcakes.

Gaz reached out for one, but stopped, shaking her head. "Give them to Zim, he needs them more than me."

"Why is Gaz packing her games?" Gir inquired with a less cheery tone than usual.

"I'm leaving, Zim doesn't want me here anymore and it may endanger my consoles if I leave them here, then I'll have to kill him." She sounded as if she was sure that in her rage she would, though in her conscious mind she didn't want to.

Gir frowned. "Gir doesn't want Gaz to leave. Let's all be friends forever and play games together!"

Gaz patted the little robot on the head. "I'm sorry, Gir, you can come over to play with me, but I don't think I'll be seeing Zim for a while. Now go, take those cupcakes to Zim, he needs them."

Not fully understanding, Gir nodded and left. As soon as the little robot was gone, Gaz looked right out the window, causing Dib to instantly put on a deer caught in the headlights expression. She motioned with her hand for him to come inside. Quietly, he did. Dib wisely decided not to breathe a word while Gaz handed him boxes filled with her gaming supplies. She warned him with silent deadly eyes not to drop anything and the Membrane siblings carried the boxes back to their house.

xoxox xox xoxox

Dib wasn't sure what had taken place and truth be told, he was afraid to ask Gaz for the details. Her deadly eyes had given him enough of a warning not to. She had also cautioned him not to try to use her consoles for spare parts, even if he was convinced that the face of the Earth depended on it. She was so firm on the statement that Dib couldn't help it but only nod quietly. The next day at school the boy with the large head approached Zim during lunch and sat down next to the green alien.

Zim seemed occupied in staring at, while not eating, a cupcake. Though he seemed to be disconnected from the world around him, he did notice the arrival of his rival and grounded out a hostile, "what do you want, brother of the betrayer?"

Dib gritted his teeth in anger. He wasn't sure if his sister had been dating Zim or what, but he was sure she wasn't a traitor. That was surely the cause of his frustrations, Gaz wouldn't betray her race and hand the humans into the Irken's rule. Surely he wanted her to be the betrayer, but she didn't live up to his expectations. Dib's big head was filled with all sorts of crazy theories. "She's not a traitor," was the first thing he hissed at his enemy. "My sister is very loyal."

"Very loyal?" Zim laughed bitterly, then he gave the words some thought. She was very loyal, loyal enough to maintain her old loyalties to her family while establishing new flawed loyalties to him. She didn't sever her ties and thus never surrendered herself truly to Zim. "Yes, she's very loyal, but her loyalties conflict, she had more loyalties than can be maintained, that is the problem. That is why she never surrendered to me," the alien mused.

Dib gasped, wanting to punch Zim for the mere thought that was not really being properly interpreted. His face went red, "well of course she didn't! How could she? You're an alien! A human could never love an evil alien!"

Confused, Zim looked at Dib with sudden curiosity. "Love?" He questioned. He had remained on Earth long enough to have a vague idea of what love meant on that strange backwards planet. It was the formal alliance of a male and female, at times followed by the request of a cloning process. It was primitive, the way that humans allied and furthered their race, rather than having a human production facility with paks ready for installation containing basic knowledge. No, they didn't have that; the newly produced humans were handed over to other humans to train and then sent to educational facilities where their learning process would span over a decade.

"Yes, love, it would be impossible," Dib growled.

What did love have to do with anything? Zim didn't get it. Did Dib suspect the existence of a clone of himself and Gaz? Preposterous! He would never mix his proud Irken genes with those of a human, besides, he didn't even have the facilities and he would not entrust his genetic code to whatever primitive facility they had on Earth. He knew they kept it in the place called hospital, but had never actually seen the mysterious machine. Though Gaz's killer instinct, Zim had to admit, was rather intriguing and her reflexes superb, though he would never say that to her. The way she conquered fictional worlds for fun on the TV screen, the way she won every simulated fight. It was recreation for her, but if properly used, it could be training. Yet humans were too stupid to be planet conquerors, but Gaz, if Gaz was an Irken, if only she... Zim shook his head. So that was it, Dib feared the existence of a clone that would have the brains and prowess of an Irken and the killer instinct of Gaz Membrane. Such a soldier would certainly be useful, but Zim, even if he had free access to Gaz's DNA and a cloning device, could not bring himself to create it. His proud genetics were his and his alone, he would not share them with her, especially not after she betrayed him.

"Do you understand?" Dib insisted, vexed by Zim's sudden thoughtful silence.

Zim mused on the subject some more. Irkens were adaptable creatures and given the number of strange humans he had encountered during his stay on Earth, plus the many more he had heard of and had not seen, mutations were not all that rare among them. Such mutations were a testament to their genetic adaptability and thus the creation of such a clone that was both human and Irken, Zim was sure, would not be as impossible as Dib wanted him to think. Still, the idea was repulsive, as repulsive as the vile betrayal itself. Perhaps even his enemy knew this. Maybe in the depth of his human inferiority, Dib had a sense of pride that dictated that certain lines, however tempting the power beyond them may be, should not be crossed. "I will not cross that line," Zim assured.

A sense of relief washed over Dib as he let out a breath. Zim actually sounded sincere. Maybe now that he had somewhat calmed down, he could approach this professionally and diplomatically, showing Zim that the humans were the better race, the more reasonable. "Good..." Dib considered talking some more, but thought they had talked enough. Gaz and Zim broke up and Zim seemed to understand that things could never work between them anyway, so there was really no imperative need for further conversation. Dib got up from Zim's lunch table with the intension of leaving the alien alone to stare at his cupcake some more.

"Rival," Dib stopped upon hearing Zim's voice and turned. There was a peculiar tone to the way he spoke that word. That name was reserved for only certain occasions, mostly the few times when they were forced to join forces to defend Dib's home, Zim's would be conquest, from a greater evil that wanted the planet destroyed. It was Zim's way to assert that the alliance was temporary and that they were still enemies.

Yet Dib saw no reason for the name now. Tilting his head to the side and adjusting his glasses on the bridge of his nose, Dib spoke a curious, "yes?" There was a long silent moment and Zim didn't speak, thus Dib impatiently prompted him to. "What is it, Zim?"

"You are my rival," the Irken stated.

"Yes," Dib nodded. 'But why do you feel the need to make such a statement now?' His eyes silently inquired.

"You are," Zim emphasized. "Not the deceiving Gaz human, you are my rival, not her. I will think of her as nonexistent." He could go after her for her betrayal, he could seek revenge, but he just didn't feel like it. She was a strange kind of enemy that he didn't understand and he was better off getting rid of Dib first anyway. He had experience fighting him at least.

Dib wasn't sure how to respond. He mused on Zim's words and most of all his tone. He wasn't belittling Gaz, it was as if he was just weary of her. As if he simply did not have the energy or will to deal with her. It made dib all the more curious about what kind of relationship they had shared. Surely Zim was trying to get her on his side, had Gaz noticed and turned the game against him? Dib stood there wondering about such things that he knew he couldn't possibly ask his sister about. She would never tell him and she might throw a blunt object at him for asking. Yet he couldn't ask Zim either. The ease of a man to man talk was lost on the fact that Dib was closely related to the girl that would be in the center of the conversation; a conversation that, if not for that fact, would have no reason to take place anyway. But it's not like he wanted all the details, just a hint. "Zim..."

"What is it, Dib human?" Zim inquired, picking up his cupcake and looking at it tentatively.

Dib tried to find a way to innocently word his curiosity. Something simple and casual, yet nothing about the controversy that almost happened, the mere thought of which made his blood boil all over again. At least Zim looked somewhat repentant, though it was most likely only frustration at his own inability to manipulate Gaz. "Who started it? You or her?" Dib fully expected Zim to say he did and to say it with pride at his ingenious idea, even if it failed. Then maybe he'd drop a few hints from there.

"Her," Zim revealed with a strange sort of melancholy annoyance. "She was the one who came to me looking for a place to store her games where you couldn't use her consoles for spare parts."

Dib gasped, feeling a sudden rush of guilt thinking that he drove his sister to the Irken's arms. "She said that..." He made a mental note to apologize to his sister later and assure her that he wouldn't touch her property even if the fate of the Earth depended on it. If it came to that, he would somehow find another way to save their planet.

"Yes," Zim nodded with a frown. He looked at the cupcake in his hand. "Gir made cupcakes yesterday, he ate one and I ate one, but he made three. Since she came, he always makes three of everything, Three tacos, three burgers, three hotdogs, three sundaes, three cupcakes, three of everything." He glared at the cupcake as if it had personally offended him. "I told him to stop, I told him to only make two." The existence of the third cupcake stung of betrayal and Zim didn't want it. He held it out to Dib. "This is her last cupcake; it's hers, so I don't want it."

Dib took the cupcake, wondering if it was poisoned. "If you don't want it, you should throw it out."

"It's hers, let her throw it out," Zim grumbled.

"Alright, I'll give it to her then," thus Dib left, with no intentions of giving Gaz the cupcake. Instead he skipped his afternoon classes and rushed home to his lab to experiment on the pastry, trying to figure out what kind of poison it contained.

xoxox xox xoxox

There was no poison, Dib concluded later that afternoon after many tests. By then it was past the time when school ended for the day. The cupcake was in fact so innocent that Dib was tempted to eat what was left of it himself. Gaz interrupted his thoughts, appearing suddenly at the door to his lab. She eyed the cupcake wearily, reminded of the cupcakes and other such treats she used to eat at Zim's house; then she looked at Dib. "Gir is coming over to play video games. Don't bother us."

Dib dropped the cupcake in shock. "Gir? But he's with the enemy, how could you let him into our house?"

Gaz looked into her brother's eyes, emphasizing each word with a deadly warning. "Don't bother us."

"Do you mind if I sit and watch?" Dib bargained, worried.

"Fine, but you have to be quiet," Gaz agreed. 'As quiet as Zim,' she mused almost unconsciously.

xoxox xox xoxox

Gir did arrive and he did go to Gaz's room to play video games. Dib watched and found that there was nothing particularly alarming about their activities. Then Zim arrived. By then Dr. Membrane was home, as it was almost time for dinner. He allowed Zim in and directed him to Gaz's room where his son and daughter were playing with a puppy. "Oh, that's my puppy," Zim smiled innocently.

"Ah, that's nice of you to lend it to them. Maybe I should get them a pet, though neither of them has really asked for one," Dr. Membrane mused.

Zim made it up the stairs and to Gaz's room. He crossed the border of the door and closed it behind him, it was best not to get the father involved too. This family was particularly troublesome after all. "I'm here for Gir," Zim stated in response to Dib's disbelieving, then enraged, glare.

"Gir, Zim is here for you," Dib stated.

"But I want to stay and play longer!" Gir complained.

Gaz noticed the tension in the air and the glaring contest between her brother and Zim. She didn't want them to get into a fight in her room. "Gir, please go now, we can play again tomorrow."

"No, you can't, Gir is mine and he's not going near you, nonexistent traitor," Zim growled.

"Nonexistent?" Gaz raised a curious eyebrow.

"You are dead to me," Zim huffed.

"Gir misses Gaz," the little robot confessed. "Zim misses Gaz too."

"No I don't!" Zim immediately denied it.

Gaz sighed. "Okay, how's this, I'll be your part time prisoner of war," she offered for the sake of calming the tensions before a fight broke lose dangerously close to her precious electronics.

"Part time..." Zim mused on it. "And your loyalties?"

"I will not harm neither my brother nor you," Gaz declared.

"Neutrality," Zim interpreted.

"You've got to be kidding me!" Dib stuttered in disbelief.

"The agreement is accepted," Zim nodded. "I have purchased consoles of my own, so you need not move these back. You shall be my prisoner of war every afternoon until the evening, just as before. And I will observe your behavior in the virtual worlds for the purpose of studying your race, just as before." The Irken decided, taking Gaz' offer as an apology and indirect begging for forgiveness. Zim felt a strange mixture of pride and relief bubble up inside him upon the assurance of her return.

"What?" Dib gasped.

"Very well..." Gaz agreed.

"Should I make three tacos tomorrow?" Gir quietly inquired.

"Yes, Gir, make three tacos and three cupcakes too." Zim instructed, with a smile the Irken himself couldn't explain. He headed for the door, followed by Gir.

"Yay!" Gir bounced out, waving goodbye to Gaz, who lifted her hand slightly, palm towards Gir. The little robot in the dog costume responded by waving more frantically in a cheerful hyper manner until he followed Zim down the stairs and the sound of the front door of the Membrane residence opening and closing was heard.

Dib turned to look at his sister, his mouth opened in shock. Before he could speak, she did. "Relax," she practically ordered. "This isn't as dangerous as you think. I'm just going over to play video games. Zim is harmless in his... observations. If you have any doubts, you can volunteer too."

Dib considered it, but he didn't want to feel like a third wheel, a forth if robots counted. "Is... Is that really all there is? Playing games? I mean... I thought... You don't have to tell me the details," he distinctly sounded like he really didn't want to know. "But I would like to hear it, without details."

"Hear what?" Gaz gave her brother a suspicious look. She had a sinking feeling that he was going to say something particularly stupid.

"Just what is your relationship with Zim?" Dib dared to ask.

Gaz rolled her eyes, "he's my boyfriend," and Dib almost had a heart attack. She had the audacity to smile, a gesture that looked alien on her constantly serious face, "kidding."

Dib let out a tense breath. His sister knew how to take care of herself, maybe even better than he did. "Please don't joke like that." He sighed. "Can I trust you to be safe without needing me to guard you?"

Gaz was compelled to roll her eyes again, but she didn't. "I've never needed a bodyguard before."

"Alright..." Dib breathe. Talk about a major headache, and yet he felt a sense of normalcy wash over him after the agreement had been set. Somehow, he knew that Gaz would be alright, though his big brother instinct still alerted him to the possibility of something developing between his sister and his rival. Yet Zim himself had said nothing would happen and he sounded truthful. Yet he could change his mind... Dib shook his head and left his sister's room. Zim was a stubborn creature set on an equally stubborn mind frame that indicated humans were an inferior species. Not even Gaz could prove it to be otherwise... could she?

xoxox xox xoxox

As Zim entered his house, ignoring the old tired greeting of the robots at the door, he observed the big screen TV in the living room and the devices next to it. He missed the games, and secretly the gamer, thus he had purchased a nice selection of consoles. Gaz would be using them soon, then he could once again bask in her reassuring strong presence and watch her with curious eyes, feeling like the most powerful invader in the galaxy because such a strong and fascinating creature chose to be his. He could dive into her universe of fantasy and observe as she conquered the worlds in her games. He could marvel at her audacity, virtual and real, and be intrigued by her deadly aura. She was still an unruly rebellious human, but deep down, he wouldn't want it any other way.

End

Disclaimer, I don't own Invader Zim. It's nice not having anything to write, no unfinished stories begging for completion and no multitude of plot twists to remember. Yet The plot bunnies never leave and each tale can be a long one, but I rather enjoy all the free time for games and pixels, so I don't see myself diving into yet another long story any time soon, it's too time consuming. None the less, I hope you enjoyed this one-shot.

xoxox xoxo xoxox

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