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Normal Human Behavior

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Years had passed since Zim took up his disguise as a school child to infiltrate Miss Bitter’s class. An embarrassing amount of time. The rest of the invaders assigned missions in Operation Impending Doom II had long since accomplished their goals or died horribly. Luckily Zim was very good at subconsciously doing mental gymnastics in order to cushion himself from certain truths about his miserable existence. Like that he was a reject who’d been banished and marked as defective, that he was someone the Tallest had been attempting to rid themselves of for decades, or that he was perhaps NOT the most amazing creature to ever grace all of existence’s presence.

It was admittedly starting to worry him that the Tallest kept attempting to block his calls. Of course, he was able to -with the help of his contact prisoner 777, and of course his own genius brain- hack into their system easily and resume communication as normal anyway. But this strange test of his skills was getting old. His leaders shouldn’t need such petty reminders of his greatness! Zim had to face the fact that he had wasted too much time on this filth pile and it was affecting his standing in The Empire. It was time to get the invasion on a roll so that he could be showered with the praise and glory he rightfully deserved.

He had a plan to turn the tides of his ongoing battle against the Earth Smellies. Mostly it was just Dib and the occasional insidious bee-creature that got in his way. The bees were too mighty a race for him to take down single handedly, but Dib- Dib he could do something about. Unfortunately, destroying the human was out of the question. He’d been without his looming presence before, and it did nothing but crush his motivation. It didn’t matter that the thought of killing his rival twisted his superior organs though, since Zim had concocted a much better plan.

The day started normal enough. Dib had snuck passed Zim’s nigh-impenetrable gnome defense system, maximizing his coolness levels -which were already off the charts thanks to his tinted prescription glasses and popped jacket collar- by doing a somersault on his way up the path. When he got to the door he gave a confident knock, and was greeted by GIR who let him in with a smile after Dib offered him a greasy, dripping bag of tacos.

It had been a little while (almost an entire week) since their last amazing battle over the fate of the Earth. Dib was becoming restless. There was no way that Zim’s absence could mean anything other than an especially big and hair-brained plot was being hatched right under the unknowing nose of the human race.

It was up to Dib to stop him from... doing whatever evil stuff he was probably doing.

After all his years stalking Zim he knew the first level of the alien’s base better than that questionable 30 second footage of a wolfman eating a burger in the middle of a busy park that he’d written a 20 page thesis on. It was the underground layers that were still weighted with some amount of mystery, but that was just more reason to get down there. Maybe snap some photos to add to the growing pile of evidence he’d amassed that should have been able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt at this point that aliens were in fact real and that he was definitely not crazy.

But it wasn’t long after he started wandering around the base -being as surreptitious as a man talking to himself while snapping photos with an unnecessarily loud and bright flash could be- that he was caught. Mechanical arms came down from the ceiling to grab him up by the ankles. In the process of being flipped upside down, Dib’s giant head slammed into the floor with an audible clang! His camera and glasses skittered across the tiles, landing right in front of a pair of boots that were barely visible through the singular dome of light that illuminated the hallway.

“Zim!” he’d cried as his mortal enemy stepped forward.

“Bravo, Dib!” Zim crooned, smashing Dib’s glasses underfoot. His voice dipped dramatically, “I am saying SARCASTICALLY. Did you really think you could have made it this far if the GREAT AND POWERFUL ZI-I-IM did not allow it? Foolish Earth boy. FOOLISH! I knew that after a period of inactivity you’d try sticking your FILTHY nostrils where they don’t belong. Now we will commence with a new round of experimentation on your abnormally large human head!”

“Ha! I knew that you knew that I knew you were up to something, and Gaz is under strict instructions to call for help if I’m not back in time for dinner,” Dib smiled with all the self assuredness in the world, and crossed his arms over his chest. Which looked ridiculous hanging upside-down in the house’s claws.

“Pfeh! Zim does not fear such threats. The Dib-Sister has proven not to care about your PITIFUL suffering.” the grin that split Zim’s face managed to crack Dib’s confidence in his backup. Spider legs erupted out of his PAK, bringing him up to the human’s face. “No one cares enough to help you, haven’t you figured that out by now? ...Stupid.”

That’s how he ended up strapped down to what could have been mistaken for a dentist’s chair if it weren’t for all the frightening alien torture implements hanging around it. This was standard fare though, Dib had been restrained in horrific mock-medical settings more times than he cared to count. It didn’t really shake him anymore. He’d be out of here soon enough. Even if Gaz didn’t call the Swollen Eye. Worst case scenario he’d just have to wait for Zim’s incompetence to sabotage his own plan. When all else was lost, he could usually count on that.

Zim brought a pair of scissors forward and none too carefully made incisions right up the front of Dib’s shirt and down the sides of his jacket sleeves. “Hey!” Dib complained. That was his favorite jacket! He only had a few more exactly like it left. Once the remaining scraps of cloth were removed and thrown into a waiting incinerator, a bunch of robotic appendages descended on him. An IV that’s tubes stretched back further than was shoved under his skin. Another arm worked to put a series of sticky electrode pads all over his chest, and two on each of his temples. A third arm brought a high tech looking collar to his neck that beeped to life, and sunk something sharp into the back of his neck. Dib held back a scream, his worries about the situation quickly growing.

Zim tilted his head to the side as he peered down at the human from his chicken like perch on the armrest of the chair. “ZIM! is feeling particularly magnanimous, and in acknowledging how entertaining our little rivalry has been will allow the Dib-Thing to express its final free thoughts.”

“What are you going to do to me?” Dib asked frantically, searching Zim’s shiny red eyes for SOMETHING. Any kind of indication that this was some kind of sick joke, or another plan obviously set to fail from the get-go. He pulled at the straps keeping him down, but found no give. This was the first time in long awhile that he found himself actually afraid of Zim.

“Since you have proven yourself a worthy opponent instead of simply disposing of you, I am going to turn you into a servant of Zim. Your ridiculous resilience and powerful familial connections may be useful in conquering this disgusting dirt ball... not to mention the MIGHTY satisfaction I will get out of seeing you reduced to an obedient drone.”

Dib puffed out his chest indignantly, “I will NEVER serve you! No matter what you do to me, I’ll always fight to protect the Earth!” His legs lightly rattled the chair as he attempted to kick them to accentuate his point.

“Hm... The process will only be more painful if you fight, so... I suppose I wish you luck in holding out for as long as you can,” Zim laughed cruelly, grabbing onto the chair so he could really get up in the human’s face, “I’ll see you on the other side, DI-I-IB.” With that, his PAK legs sprouted backwards and lowered him into the darkness.

There was no way that this was going to work. No matter what he was put through, there was no changing Dib’s self so drastically. Right? He swallowed, ready for this test of resolve.

Gaz eyed her brother from across the lunchroom. She really, really didn’t care what kind of nonsense the turd got up to. Most of it was incredibly pointless and boring. Who cared if people were too stupid to notice the “paranormal” stuff happening around them? All the monsters she had met were innocuous enough- either due to being more or less okay guys or too idiotic to be actually dangerous. She preferred to spend her time gorging herself on escapism via video games. The real world was too annoying to bother with.

After spending her entire life thus far masterfully dodging involvement in Dib’s hobbies it was only natural for her to ignore his plea for assistance. She’d never contacted his weird eyeball gang and she was never going to. But this time around she was starting to regret ignoring him. He was acting even weirder than usual. Which was seriously saying something. Not to mention he had gone missing for an entire week after his last “mission” “infiltrating” Zim’s "lair" (i.e.: running off to play at Zim's house). Luckily dad checked in on them even less than when they were little, and she’d told the school that he was projectile vomiting blood, so there wasn’t any big to-do about his disappearance.

Despite Gaz not caring about his whereabouts or interests or basic health and safety, Dib was still her brother. It bothered her a little that Zim had obviously done something to him. And not in the run of the mill “now his kidneys are in his feet and they make a horrible squelching sound with each step” way either. Whatever had occurred changed Dib on a fundamental level. Normally, he would be sitting next to her in relative seclusion while she ignored him and played her games. But since he’d returned to school, he always sat right next to Zim. Which could have been written off if they were arguing or something, but it was mostly Zim tinkering with his dumb little alien devices while droning on and on about his stupid plans to conquer Earth or whatever while Dib stared at him with this big dopey smile.

She probably shouldn’t let anyone mess with her own flesh and blood that badly (when it didn't benefit her), and get away scot-free. So Gaz broke her self-imposed rule against interfering with her annoying older brother’s stupid life, and walked across the lunchroom. When they noticed her coming over, Zim quickly shut up and poorly hid the clunky purple screen under the table.

She crossed her arms over her chest and glared down at the ridiculous duo, “What did you do to him?”

“I’m fine Gaz, really!” Dib assured, giving her a reassuring smile and a thumbs-up.

One of Gaz’s eyes opened wide towards him, her face twisted in disgust, “Shut up, DIB, I’m not talking to you.”

“Zim has done nothing,” Zim repeated loudly, fists in the air and head pointed towards the ceiling, “NOTHING! To your brother-unit,” he calmly sat down and flicked his wrist at her to go away, “Run along now, Gaz-ling, with your worries extinguished.”

“You’re asking for it,” Gaz growled, “Tell me what’s wrong with him.” Her fists slammed into the table, and Zim let out a little yelp of fear.

“Don’t talk to him like that,” Dib glowered, “Since when do you care so much anyway? Just go sit down, Gaz.” He heaved a heavy sigh at the violent look she gave him, and continued, “You know, this is the happiest I’ve been maybe... no, definitely ever. I get that things changed quickly, and that that seems suspicious. But I really do feel a lot better. That has to count for something.”

Gaz sized them up, and than stated in a bored tone, “You two finally banged, didn’t you?”

Zim “hmmmed” at Dib in confusion, who leaned in toward the side of his earless head to whisper-explain the terminology. Slowly, his false blue eyes widened in horrified understanding.

“It’s either that, or you brainwashed him,” Gaz lifted a eyebrow.

At that, Zim hopped up on his chair, screaming loud enough for the entire Hi-Skool to hear, “Yes! You have CAUGHT us! CURSE your overly OBSERVANT eyeballs! The Dib and I have been -as you claimed- physically INTIMATE. Oh how GLORIOUSLY intertwined in revolting human copulation WE HAVE BEEN. That is the reason for your brother’s oddness. I assure you that no washing of his weak brains has been done.”

“Disgusting...” Gaz muttered, walking back to her seat. She obviously wasn’t convinced by that over the top outburst, but suddenly -with all the eyes in the lunchroom on them- she found herself not caring enough to pry any further.

Someone threw a balled up paper at Zim’s head, and yelled, “Gay!”

“Hey,” a girl spoke up, “I thought that was very brave of the green kid!”

“Yeah! Queer visibility!” A few kids clapped while others booed and hurled some more insults.

The argument over whether Zim’s loud coming out was courageous or unwarranted devolved into a lunchroom wide rumble that had to be broken up by the Skool’s cyborg security officers armed to the teeth with military-grade weaponry. In the mess of the fight, Zim and Dib were escorted to the guidance counselor under the looming threat of a taser on a stick.

The counselor was a skinny man with a sweat drenched shirt and glasses that were too big for his gaunt face. Even though he looked over heated dabbing at his dripping face with a dirty napkin, he shook like a frightened chihuahua as he peered down at the pair that had been shoved in front of him.

“Now boys,” he chided, “You are free to express yourselves here. Heck we.... we encourage it! We uh. This school loves diversity. And any intolerance is not uh... tolerated.” He threw his dirty napkin towards the trash, but it hit the wall and stuck in place. “But uh. You gotta keep it PG here, you know? You just can’t just go. Yelling about your sex lives like that. Okay?” He eyed them up and down. “And you two are... you’re staying safe, right? Here wait,” the counselor rummaged around in his desk for a moment, and then threw a line of condoms at Zim who was in too much of a state of shock to catch them. The metallic squares separated by perforated edges flopped against his face and fell to the floor.

“Even if you’re not in danger of having an unwanted pregnancy, STDs are no joke!”

After an overly detailed lecture on the horrors of sexually transmitted disease, they were eventually sent back to class. About halfway down the hall, Zim sighed, “While it might have been better not to draw that much attention to ourselves. Perhaps this ‘relationship’ will work to further cement the believability of my BRILLIANT disguise as a normal teeee-NAGE squishy... And! no one will question why you are at my constant beck and call... Since, if I am to understand from your media, human couplings often involve slavish devotion, yes?”

Dib thought for a moment, than made a so-so gesture, “Kinda? Sometimes?”

They stopped momentarily in front of the door to their classroom. Zim reached out and grabbed at Dib. It was customary for the romantically inclined to join hands, after all, and it lended Zim the option to physically drag his newly acquired slave around in a way that appeared socially acceptable.

“Excellent!” Zim tugged at Dib hard enough that he almost fell over, “Come along, my BOY-friend. Let us show everyone how very ‘in love’ and NORMAL we are!”