The metal door was stopped by a hastily placed black combat boot, and then the same boot kicked it open. Dib scowled and darted inside, hands out in front of him, acting as both a shield and a sign of peace.
The alien currently standing behind his couch thought the gesture absolutely ridiculous. He was not hiding. Of course not. No Irken hid, especially not elites. Zim didn't really stop to consider the fact that he'd barely passed the academy and that was only because he'd blown up his instructor.
"Zim, I know you're behind the sofa. Get out here and face me, you…you coward." The teen's voice really shouldn't be so annoying, Zim thought, antenna twitching under the fake wig. Time and time again the irken took the bait.
Zim popped his head out from behind the couch with an indignant sniff. "How did you know?"
"Because you always hide there, now come out from behind there." Dib gestured to himself. "We have to talk."
"Because. It's important that we get this out in the open."
"So, it doesn't make me explode."
"Wh-I-I don't know. Tension I guess." Dib took a precious second to muse over this before he shook it off. "Look Zim! Just get your green ass over here." The oh-so-prudish alien invader lifted his chin and discreetly covered his bum.
"Do not talk about Zim's, eh parts."
"Uh. Fine. Whatever. If I promise not to talk about your butt will you pleeeease talk to me?" Zim nodded slowly, climbing out from behind the couch and standing before the Dib stiffly, chin lifted and hidden magenta eyes filled with suspicion and hostility.
"Say your piece, Stink brain."
Zim watched as Dib finally realized he was going to be allowed to speak, and then all the blood and enthusiasm drained from his face. It was rather amusing.
"Well, uh I was just gonna say that, well you," Dib cleared his throat and seemed to draw on some hidden reserve of stupid. "You are exiled by your piss poor Tallest, on my barren rock and well, I have no desire to split you open anymore. And well, these past few weeks we've been kind of, well we've sort of been, I mean not rea—"
"Spit it out! You're giving Zim the ache in the brain!"
"We've been almost friends. There I said it."
Zim started, mentally flashing back over the last few days. But since Zim's memory was quite faulty he failed to categorize many things properly. Things that had happened yesterday felt like forever ago already. "Uhhhhhhhhh. Eh?"
Dib had looked hopeful for a few minutes. Now however it was gone. Deep down Zim felt a teeny tiny bit bad for that. Maybe. Or perhaps it was just those French-ie fries the Dib-Beast had forced him to nibble on at lunch.
"Look, Zim. I just feel like…we've been getting along really well lately. I mean I haven't splashed you with any liquids and you haven't blown up anything recently." Zim made a face at being reminded. It brought back that little tingle of need. Like a smoker wanted a cigarette. " Put that face away, dummy. We're gonna go to the ridge tomorrow remember?"
At this he nodded, gleefully with hardly any hint of evil in his expression. They planned to go to the old ridge on the outside of town tomorrow evening and blow up anything they found using bottle rockets. Primitive but effective.
"I fail to see where this conversation is going, Monkey for Brains." The human rolled his odd golden eyes.
"Because you keep distracting me, you lizard. Lemme finish and you'll see."
"Fine, fine. Continue babbling."
"Thank you. I will."
Zim grunted. Dib flipped him off and then continued. "We've been getting along really good as friends. Or at least however close to friends as either of us is capable of being and uh, well I wonder…how well we would be together as…more?"
It came out in a tiny, squeaky voice. Akin to the one the Dib had spoken with as a child. Zim tilted his head in confusion. Did humans get to keep their voices as they grew up and change them at will?
"What stupidity do you speak of now?"
"The stupid I speak of is us. Me and you."
Zim was silent. "Yeeesss?"
"What about us?"
"Zim! Have you not been paying attention this whole time?"
Zim scoffed. "Of course I have. Doesn't mean I understand or care about any of it."
Dib smacked his palm to his forehead a quickly becoming common fashion. "Ugh. Well, you and me…as a couple. Like together. Boyfriends."
Zim stared at Dib for all of a minute. If anyone had been counting it would be exactly one minute and 2.889 seconds. In which you could see the gears turning ever so slowly in the Irken's head while Dib shrunk back, expecting the worse.
Finally….the explosion. "WHAT?! Y-you!" Zim pointed at the only other person in the room. "Want to be..W-Wha-with…ME!? ZIM?! Well, of course you do, everyone does BUT STILL! T-That's Disgusting! No-no-no!"
Zim shook his head vigorously, flinging the wig off in some random direction. "No…Y-You Dib-Monkey-Stink-Child-Breath-Worm and I-I the almighty ZIM! We're…we're not meant to be. Stop this…Now. Stop."
Dib flinched quite a bit but was not surprised. This was what he had expected. In fact, been prepared for. He lifted his chin and smirked into the Irken's obvious panic attack. "Oh shut up. Take deep breaths, Irken Scum."
Zim took deep breaths. In and out. In and out. Sideways. In and out. "Do…not…tell…ZIM…to…shut…up."
"Shut up, Zim. So how about this. We make good compromises right?" He waited until it at least appeared that he had the alien's attention. "You decided not to destroy the planet if I didn't turn you into the authorities. We will watch one black and white horror if we get to watch one old classic Disney film. I don't say anything about your butt if you come out and talk to me. See good compromise."
Zim nodded in approval. "Yes, Yes. I suppose so. They are rather good."
"Yes. So how about…you give me your number…and I don't bother you about all this…nonsense anymore?" Dib held his hand up before Zim could speak up. "Nonsense meaning I won't attack you during our outings or talk to you about us being more than friends anymore….deal?"
Zim's brow furrowed, of course he had no eyebrows so it was more of skin wrinkling, and Dib still knew when the alien was giving something serious thought. That also meant his poor brain must be breaking, Dib had to hide a snicker at his own stupid joke.
"Fine." Zim withdrew a pak leg and held out the lighted end towards Dib. The human backed up a few steps.
"Um, Zim…what the hell are you doing?"
"Giving you my number."
"With the pak leg?" Dib asked, sounding squeaky again. He'd always had a fear of those things.
"Yes. I will mark the number in your skin so you do not forget."
Dib pulled out a pen. "OR we can write it down."
Zim sighed and put the metal leg away. "Yes, I suppose." He grabbed the pen to write the number down. "Not as much fun though."
So, Dib had Zim's number safe and secure in his trench coat pocket. He carried it around with him just in case and had several copies at home and at skool. Better safe than sorry. Although in his case it was better insane than sorry.
The day went normally with usual name calling at 7:15 am. They had a small scuffle in the middle of the hallway, effectively eliminating any students nearby who wanted to pass which gave them the hallway all alone to talk and exchange other banter until 8:00 in which the bell rang for 1st period.
They had math class together. Dib thought this was great. Zim didn't mind because he got to cheat off of Dib. Everyone else thought it was a pretty horrid idea. The two boys talked very, very loud and very, very often and about things way too insane that everyone, including the teacher had finally given up on telling them to be quiet.
The next class, Art class they also had together. Zim sat on the opposite side of the room away from all the water colors. Dib sat near the wood blocks. The teacher was smart and had kept them separated. They still passed rude notes though and often whispered too loudly.
Then the bell rang for them to go their separate ways to Gym (Dib) and Zim (History). Dib ran and complained and was silent for most the period, silently seething since everyone else in the class tended to ignore him or pick on him. Zim doodled most of the period, answering the occasional question with something completely absurd.
4th period they met up for English. Zim thought the entire thing was complete dookie so he hardly paid any attention and unless the class talked about anything involving the paranormal Dib was right with him. They snickered in the back of the classroom, giving each other new bruises and making fun of everyone in sight.
Then it was lunch where they sat together. It had been this way for over two months now. At first it had been awkward and hostile. After the initial confrontation, it had been companionable silence. Dib had begun to ask questions and Zim had answered hesitantly.
Before long it was almost easy to speak. Like it had been so easy to insult each other it was just as easy to compliment. Today was corn and mayonnaise day. Neither ate and instead flicked the food as far as they could with their sporks to see who won and got Zita or Sarah.
The last three periods of the day seemed to fly in rapid succession since they only spent one of them apart. After skool they walked home slowly. Dib was reluctant to go home to his family where his father would not be and where his sister would surely be. Zim just hated Gir and the mess and his failure.
It was the night when they would blow things up and Zim was bouncing with excitement. He hadn't made anything break into a billion pieces since….since…a month ago. And that had been an accident. They didn't have the same feeling.
Throwing left over's at Gir, he flew his Voot cruiser to the edge of town. Dib was already there waiting, leaning against a tree with singed bark and initials carved in it. His black hair blew lightly in a fall breeze. Zim could smell burning wood on the wind.
The alien hopped out of his vehicle completely out of disguise. "Hello, Meat-Head. You are looking especially tall and gangly with noodles for arms today." Dib raised an eyebrow, the tiny piercing glittered in the sundown.
"Why thank you, Alien Monster. I could say the same thing about you except your short and annoying." Zim stuck his tongue out and then seemed to realize what they were here for. He held his arms out and waggled his six fingers.
"GIMME. Where are they? Where are the pretty 'splosions?!" Dib rolled his eyes and pulled out a huge pack of bottle rockets from his trench coat, ripping half of it off and handing it to Zim.
"Here you go, you freak." Zim frowned at his half, wanting all of it. "No. Only this first. I don't want you to waste all of it on one go. It needs to last."
Sniffing arrogantly, Zim turned on his heel and stalked over to the edge of the ridge, looking around for stuff to blow up. Finally he settled on some sticks, a few pop cans, a frog and a picture of Dib he'd found in their yearbook he kept in his Voot.
Gleefully, he sent them up one by one, squealing happily every time they exploded into oblivion. It was like a high. A severe chemical rush of greatness. A feeling of control and excitement. The best feeling in the world.
Zim ran back to Dib and held out his hands. "More! Give!" Dib had been watching from the sidelines, almost like a parent watched after their kids on Fourth of July to make sure they didn't hurt themselves. Only in this case they weren't father and son, more like enemies or rather frienemies and Dib wasn't worries about Zim hurting himself but worried about him starting a fire or something and killing both of them.
"Wha-oh. Um…Sure." He dug into his coat and handed the Irken the last 8 bottle rockets. "Go nuts." He had a surprise waiting when the irken finally got bored. Which he would. Even blowing stuff up lost its luster after a while.
Sure enough after the last one went off, Zim flopped to the ground, his high running low. "Bored. Entertain me, Dib-Creature."
Dib smirked and walked over from under his tree to the alien on the dusty ground.
" Alright. I have a surprise for you."
Zim quirked an antenna, oddly surprised and yet suspicious as always. It would probably never go away fully. "What is it?" Still surprises were fun and the Dib somehow gave the best surprises whether they are good or bad.
"This!" He pulled out a big, red tube that read, SUPER!BLAM 9000.2 all over it with pictures of explosions and many caution signs. Zim's attention was immediately snagged as he jumped up and snatched the firework away to 'ooh' and 'ahh' over it. "Yes.Yes.Yes. Dib! Let's do it!"
He set it down and shook the human's shoulders in excitement. "COME ON! Blow it up! Blow it up!" Dib chuckled and smacked the alien's hands away, pulling out a lighter and handing it to Zim.
"Here you do it." Zim bit his bottom lip with glee and lit the fuse. Dib curled his fingers around the irken's wrists and yanked him back towards the tree a safe distance away from the imminent smorgasbord of pretty colors and very loud explosions.
Sure enough, not a second after they had taken cover the first loud 'POP' went off, igniting the sky with brilliant hues. Then the second and the third. In succession they went off, burning the world, burning the very existence of clouds. Dib never watched the sky but rather kept his focus on Zim and his expression and his eyes which reflected everything perfectly.
It was like seeing a kid at Christmas. Only full of doom and explosions. Dib bit down on his bottom lip and grabbed Zim's hand feeling pretty god damn cheesy. So, maybe he'd planned this whole thing for this moment. So what?
Zim blinked for the first time since the first firework had flashed across the azure sky. His hand felt warm, and there was pressure there that normally wouldn't be. He glanced down and saw Dib had grabbed his gloved appendage with his own. An antenna perked in confusion. This was significant somehow.
Somehow…Only he didn't know why. So he left it.
Zim didn't make a move to pull away nor did he attempt to return the gesture.
Dib was in heaven.
"YOU BROKE IT!" Zim shouted with all the fury of a cat thrown into a bathtub and the frequency of a teenage girl whose hair had just been messed up.
"I-I'm sorry? Broke what exactly?"Dib asked, pushing the door open from where Zim had attempted to slam it in his face a second ago. He strode in as casual as he could, knowing there was an alien in the room who wanted to maim him.
"Our compromise! You said no funny business in exchange for my number!" Zim crossed his arms and growled, sitting down on the couch way too femininely.
"Um. How did I break it?" Dib asked, confused.
"Oh don't play stupid! Or at least don't pretend to be more so than you are! Today! At lunch! You said, 'this would be so much easier if you would give in and…' other stuff that I tuned out because it's stupid and a LIE!"
Dib ran a hand down his face, feeling suddenly ten years older than he actually was. "Okay. Okay. Yes. Yes, I said that. But, do you blame me?" He took a step towards the couch, completely aware of the glower being sent his way. That was a warning. Dib didn't care. "I've been courting you for the past month and y—"
"WHOA! Courting?! COURTING?! Yo-You!" Zim pointed at Dib, mouth working in a way that let the human know that Zim didn't even have a word for how angry he was at the moment. "You annoying worm weasel rat pig faced morsel of slime and—and puke!" Dib rolled his eyes, even though he did feel a bit closer to anger after the onslaught of insults.
"Shut up, Zim! Yes, courting! And you haven't moved one muscle! Jeeze, Zim…don't you get it? Don't you see?!" He took way too many steps towards Zim for the irken's comfort. "We could be great together. I mean look at us now. Only friends…acquaintance thingies and already we've done bigger and better things, been happier and more powerful than ever." A hand flailed about in an effort to prove his point.
'I mean just last week we created that time machine thing! Wednesday we caught that footage of Bigfoot! Then yesterday there was that perfect mutated salamander! I mean come on, Zim! We're awesome. Perfect. I love being around you even though you're the stupidest, most annoying alien to ever be! And well, you obviously don't mind being with me. We spend most of our time together…You can't tell me we wouldn't be amazing."
Zim's eye twitched. Deeeeeep inside his gut there was something screaming at him and that something was begging him to run away , to hide behind that sofa again. Close up and forget all of the words this stupid, pitiful, mindless human-thing was saying to him.
This primate was no better than the monkies they held behind cages at the zoo. No better than dirt beneath his boot. The very idea of them being…anything other than enemies should disquiet him. And it did. It did.
His very being was disgusted but there was also something else something with a voice, a tiny voice and it whispered the words that were every irken's downfall, 'I feel a weakness coming on.'
A weakness that would destroy and corrupt. Any weakness could take a sane irken and break them down to a microscopic level. They have something to lose. Something to hide and cherish and long for. That…that was unacceptable.
The stupidity they were doing now…being 'friends' of sorts. That was a weakness in and of itself. But to even consider being….more, was pure idiocy.
"No. NO! Dib-brain! Stop. I-I…Zim doesn't want to…feel, like this…." He pulled lightly on his left antenna. "This isn't part of the plan! Le-Let's be friends. Just…the gross, annoying friend thingies. Just stop asking me and talking to me about the 'more'. Yes? Yes? Okay."
Dib scowled and stalked forward, till they were only a few feet away. "No, Zim. I won't stop. I'm determined. You should know that by now, idiot. I want you." A step closer. "And I want us…"
"No. No." A weakness…His mind whispered. His pak buzzed angrily. Zim took a step backwards, then stopped himself.
"Zim. I need to be more with you. I want to try…I know you do too. I can see it. I can feel it…you want me."
"No. Dib…Stop this…now." Dib didn't stop. They stood close. Just close enough to where they weren't touching. But every part of Zim tingled horribly. This was so wrong. So wrong. How had things gotten so out of hand? Not part of the plan…
"Zim…" A weakness…Dib was a weakness.
"No…"He whispered, meaning to have shouted it. Dib's warm hand lifted his chin higher so their eyes…magenta and gold met and mixed and connected. The first alarm went off in Zim's mind. Trouble. Losing control.
Dib's swirling amber eyes, with their specks of brown and hints of purple underneath it all moved down to the almost nonexistent lips on the alien. "Mine."
"No." Weakness. Primary resistance at a critical low. On the double…gotta get a hold.
The human took one step closer, leaning so Zim could look up and see up close the depth of those eyes. "Dib…" Why wasn't he moving?
Point of no return…One second to go. No response on any level, red alert this vessels under siege. The pak buzzed angrily, whirling to a raged stop.
Total overload, systems down, they've got control…Dib had control. And he was so close. And Zim hated it. Hated the breaths washing over his lips, knew they came from the human's disgusting lungs. And yet he closed his eyes and took in the heady scent that it brought him.
There's no way out, we are surrounded…Zim knew how close the human was, could feel his heat that had become so achingly familiar. Dib sighed and closed that last bit of space between them, lightly biting the irken's bottom lip.
Give in, give in and relish every minute of it…
Weakness….Zim thought. He now had a weakness.
The irken gave in and let his arms crawl slowly up the flat chest of the human to wrap around his neck like a vise and pull him closer. Reel him in to the prison he had unknowingly signed up for.