A/N: O My Goodness! 61 Followers to this story! I love you guys! All the comments I get make me so happy. I'm sorry that my chapters have been coming out so slowly over the past school semester. I've been drawing a lot and my art/writers block seem to come depending on which one I work at more, then I can't do the other.

Anyway I'm so sorry chapters are slow! Once again the more reviews I get the more motivation I have to work. So leave a comment. Things are getting intense and I don't currently know where things are going. I'll try to keep going. Wish me luck!


Chapter 17 – Tell Me What You Know

Lightning flashed across the sky and the rain poured down on him like buckets as M dashed out of the gas station. It was impossible to shield the pizza boxes completely from the rain, and he was certain the doughnuts were getting squished where they were tucked inside his coat. Even though the motel was just across the street, he was still drenched by the time he reached the door. He knocked twice then three times on the door, purely for the sake of Dib's paranoia, and the door opened for as he stepped inside, Gaz snatched the pizza boxes away from him and sat on the bed to start eating. Zita brought him a towel to dry off.

"Dib not back yet?" he asked, looking around the room. His sopping wet shirt dripped on the ground; pulling it off he accidently splattered water on Gaz and the pizza, earning a growl from the girl. Zita took the shirt from him.

"He's in the bathroom talking with Zim."

"They're talking in the bathroom?"

Zita looked toward the window when a crash of thunder shook the walls. "Zim's afraid of the storm," she explained.

An alien bent to conquer the world is afraid of a little lightning? That struck M as a bit odd. He brushed off the thought, reminding himself that this alien had to be pretty good at acting innocent for it to ever have chance of fooling Dib. "Get some food. I'll be right back."

M went to the bathroom door and rapped on it lightly. "Yo Membrane, mind if I take a shower? That rain was like ice."

The door opened slowly. Dib's face held a sad smile. "Gimme a minute, I'll try and coax him out of here."

"Fine by me if the alien stays in there," it would be the perfect chance to get that machine off its back. Of course M didn't say that last part, but when Dib looked hesitant he added, "The shower would cover up the sounds of the storm."

Dib gave him a disapproving look, "Call him Zim would ya? And it's not the sounds that he's afraid of." Dib glanced back at the spot where Zim sat, wrapped in a blanket, shaking, then stepped out of the bathroom and closed the door, "for some reason, water burns him. It was raining when I first found him, and when I finally got him home… most of his body was covered with what looked like a typical acid burn."

No way… M stared at the bathroom door. Every new thing he learned about this alien …

"Well… I'll see if I can get him out of there."

"No worries. I'll just dry off and borrow a change of clothes from your stuff."

"Alright. Sorry about this."

M waved a hand over his shoulder as if saying 'yeah sure whatever' and walked around the corner to watch Gaz tearing at the pizza. Some water dripped from his hair and ran down his back, the chill causing goosebumps to crawl over his skin. "Don't forget. This alien is a master of acting. Its job is to seem innocent so we don't suspect anything." Bills words ran through his mind. M shook his head and grabbed a shirt from the suitcase on the chair next to him.

"How's he doing?" Zita asked from a chair across the room.

"He's fine. A little worried but with the situation we're in, who wouldn't be?"

"I meant Zim."

"Huh? Oh…" How can she look so concerned about a thing that's trying to kill all life on the planet… It really has them completely fooled. M threw the towel over his head and ruffled his hair. The dark curls hardly moved, but the fabric hid his face. If I even touch that thing… they'll… Somehow I've got to show them what it really is!

But how…

"So what happened to you guys after those guys grabbed me? How'd you get out of the hospital room?"

It didn't escape Zita the way M avoided talking about Zim but she figured he was still getting used to the idea that Dib had been right all those years. "Zim carried us out. He's got all this machinery built into that metal dome on his back." She went on to fill in all the gaps of what had happened over the past few days. M's face grew darker with each sentence. Things were bigger than any of them could understand.

XXX

People stopped to stare as a tiny green dog moonwalked down the sidewalk, its giant head tilted back as it sucked on a bottle of mustard. The dog had been hanging out all over the city. He'd even made some new friends over the past few days. His bright blue eyes stared at a squirrel as it ran past, having the strangest feeling it had forgotten something.

Suddenly a small antennae popped out the zipper with a red light blinking on and off. The dog reached its nub hands up and poked at the light till it stopped then continued on its walk toward home.

XXX

"An Irken shouldn't be afraid of pain." How many times had the instructor said that today? 5? 6? It was getting on Zim's nerves. He couldn't help it if he was afraid. He didn't like to hurt. Even though he so desperately wanted to let his mind wander, the 3-year-old smeet Zim stared forward. He knew Red kept glancing in his direction.

He has to learn he can't always treat me like a baby. I am an Irken!

Even as he thought this, he sighed when the teacher said to split up into pairs for combat. Once again, he'd either have to pair up with his friends or probably end up in more pain.

"Zim? You coming?"

Zim flattened his antennae and turned away from Red and Purple. The two watched after him as he walked right up to Krunk, the best fighter in their class, who was, of course, more than willing to have a chance to show off his skills against a weaker opponent. Zim ended up leaving class with a whole bunch of new bruises.

Red and Purple caught up too him in the hallway.

"How come you didn't join us like usual?" Red asked.

Zim shrugged. "I thought it might be good to get practice against someone else today."

"Some practice," Purple grumbled when Red punched him in the arm, "Oww! What?! It's not practice if he doesn't get any better. You saw Krunk beating the snot out of him." Zim hunched his shoulders. They were right. He hadn't made one successful attack or defense the whole two hours.

"It's just because he hesitates too much."

"Which is completely stupid, since he knows his opponent won't hesitate AT ALL!"

"Why do we even have to fight…"

Red and Purple looked in at Zim. He had stopped walking and just stood there with his arms hugged tightly around himself. Purple sighed and stuck his arm behind Zim's head, pulling him along as they continued walking. "We fight because that's what they tell us to do. Once we're bigger there will be a day when we don't have to fight." Zim's head was pushed forward so he was barely able to look up enough to see a slight blush on Purple's face. "You'll see," he said. "All these rules they have about emotions and fighting are going to be stupid and pointless, and if they aren't then We'll make it that way."

"If I make it that long…"

The two froze to stare at him. They knew the problems that he was having with his roommate. Zim noticed them exchange a worried glance before Red spoke.

"Uh.. Zim…? Pur and I… We're working on something to try and help you."

"Something?"

Purple elbowed Red, glaring at him. Sighing, he looked sadly at Zim, "We don't know if it will work yet, so we weren't SUPPOSED," he snapped at Red, "to tell you yet." Zim looked between the two of them, confused. "Just make sure you don't get deactivated before we finish it." Still confused, he nodded. Purple laughed pulling him into a headlock. "Everything's going to be okay. You'll see!" In the end Red had to wrestle Purple off, and then Zim ended up having to separate the two of them. By the time the trio made it to lunch, their squeedlyspooches were sore from laughter.

I guess it doesn't matter if I get hurt once in a while. As long as I've always got my friends, everything will be okay.

"Zim? You awake?" Zim looked up as Dib came back into the bathroom, he had been dozing off. The sounds of the rain covered up by Gaz's headphones which were wrapped around his antenna and plugged into her GameSlave, playing the music of the Vampire Piggies opening screen.

He pulled the blanket tighter around himself and nodded slightly as the human came and sat down beside him. Some thunder rumbled through the walls, but the splattering of the water was covered by the weird speaker things around his antennae.

"M said the storm was slowing down soon. Think you're ready to come out of here? I promise the rain won't come through the ceiling." Zim nodded but made no attempt to stand. Dib rested his hand on the Irken's head. "Everything's going to be okay. You'll see." Zim said nothing, as the words echoed from the past. He leaned on Dib's side and closed his eyes. Twenty minutes passed before Dib carried the sleeping child out of the bathroom.

XXX

"My contact lives nearby so hopefully I won't be gone too long, though that also depends on what I find out. … Are you sure you're okay watching Zim for the afternoon?" Dib hesitated at the door. Zim didn't know M very well and Zita and Gaz still hadn't come back from their shopping trip to get new cloths and supplies; Dib felt nervous leaving the two alone together.

"Quit worrying. I got the list of words and topics to avoid and we've got enough food here. If anything goes wrong we'll find you."

Dib sighed and glanced at the child sized hat sitting on the bed. With Zim's wig long since gone, and the strong winds predicted on the weather report, the thought of Zim needing to go out in public, for any reason, was making him sick to his stomach. One screw up and we all could be… "Alright… I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Take your time. I've got things covered here."

XXX

KNOCK KNOCK Dib pulled his coat up around him. The wind blew hard against the side of the restaurant. The old rusted door swung open and an angry looking Hispanic man stepped out.

"I already told jou WE DON'T SELL FROM DE BAC…" the man stared at Dib for a moment before rubbing his eyes. A wide smile broke out on his face when he realized it wasn't his imagination "… Well Well if it isn't old Dib Membrane. 'Aven't seen jou for a while."

"Hey Chewy. It's good to see you to."

Chewy Rodríguez nodded. "Boy have ju grown in zese years. What 'are ju now 6 foot?"

"5'10" but who's counting."

"And it still didn't help make jour head look smaller."

"Chewy this is serious."

"Okay okay just pushin jour buttons. What can I do for jou?"

Dib glanced up and down the alley. "You still keeping tabs on the network?"

Chewy leaned back against the doorframe. "Jou know I am. Ever since you helped lift that chicken curse off me, I 'ave been keeping an eye out for jour group. Something specific jou're looking for?"

"I was wondering if you had heard anything about that alien ship that crashed in the city park."

Chewy's face grew dark and he shrugged. "Maybe I do. Maybe I don't. I like jou Dib but das some juicy information." Dib pulled a $20 bill out of his pocket and rolled his eyes as he handed it over. Chewy held the bill up to the light before pocketing it. "Oh jah now I remember. Zat female ajent, Kelpie, was in 'ere with a younger boy, probably a recruit, talking about zeh alien. Zinking about it, I remember jour name came up a few times. So did zeh name of zat phony dat jou hate. Waz 'iz name? Bill?"

"What?! What'd they say about him!?"

"Not much. Juz a bit about him breaking into zeh base where zey were keeping someone jou knew. Said ze two of zem got away. Or somezing."

The color drained from Dib's face. Bill broke M out?! But that would mean…

Dib took off at a sprint. Chewy yelled after him, "where's ze fire?"

"Thanks for the info Chewy! Don't tell anyone I came by Thanks!" Dib yelled over his shoulder, not even stopping to make sure that Chew had heard.

Bill, the only agent ever ousted from the network for being
too paranoid, had gotten some unknown amount of time alone to talk with M. Bill's ideas were stupid but ,no matter who you are, if you listened to them long enough he could convince you they were true. That was why they'd let him join the network. He could get anyone to believe anything… and who knows what he thought of Zim's presence on earth.

"…I have to hurry"

XXX

Zim cracked his eyes open to a doughnut and a soda can on the bedside table in front of him. He sat up and took a long drink from the can before noticing M sitting on the chair by the opposite wall; staring at him. Zim ducked his antenna and scarfed down the doughnut. When he finished, M was still staring at him.

"So… uhh Where's Dib?"

M sat forward, folding his hands in front of his face. "He went out for a bit."

"And Miss Zita and Gaz?"

"Same."

Zim hunched his shoulders looking for something else to talk about. He ended up not needing to.

"So I'm curious," M said, leaning back in the chair. "What's your planet like?"

"Umm… Well I haven't seen most of it. I was still in school when I uhh… got stuck on the ship that crashed here." What was the human thinking? Zim couldn't figure it out. Didn't Dib explain everything to him just last night?

"Does your planet have a military?"

"Yeah. Of course we do. Doesn't yours?"

M shrugged his shoulders, "The difference is that ours can't cross light years to invade other planets."

"Huh?" Zim tried to jump up, but sudden dizziness caused him to fall back down on the bed. "What the…" He shook his head. His body felt increasingly heavy; like gravity was weighing down on it extra hard.

"Wow that stuff really is fast acting."

Zim stared at M confused. His eyes went wide and he looked at the drink standing on the table. "What's…"

"Just a small paralysis drug, specific for your species. I got it from another person who also doesn't want to see this planet overrun by tiny green freaks."

"What are you talking about!?" Zim could feel the panic rising. His limbs were getting heavier by the second. PAK? He closed his eyes and focused on hum and electrical currents coming from the computer on his back. It was so faint that he almost couldn't even feel it.

"Don't bother using that thing on your back. The drug blocks the electrical signals passing through your body."

"What do you want with me!?" Zim tried desperately to skoot himself back across the bed, as M stood and walked towards him. M sat on the edge of the bed; a cold smirk crossed his face.

"I've got a few questions about what your kind has planned for this planet, and you're going to tell me everything." Zim could feel the hand pressing down on his PAK. "Or I'm going to see if you really only live 10 minutes without this hunk of hardware."