The problem came swiftly on the heels of a failed plot. Panting and scratched up and uniform shredded, Zim crashed into the lawn and tumbled to a stop amid the grass, facing the sky. The sentient doomsday machine hit the ground somewhere a few miles away and lit up the sky in orange smoke as it imploded. He had a thought at that moment that he had perhaps miscalculated the necessary amount of free will blockers for an automaton that size.
When Dib tackled him, jammed a knee down into the crux of Zim’s pelvis, and used the leverage to hold him there against the lawn, it shouldn’t have done anything more than bruise his nether regions. Sure he was tired, a little concussed, but that shouldn’t have made a difference under normal circumstances. Dib had pinned him to the ground countless times over the last six years with no meaningful consequences.
Although he didn’t know it at the time, there were three factors contributing to the Problem:
- Dib Membrane had quite recently finished his final growth spurt and was now three inches taller than he had been six months ago
- During his PAK’s recent software updates, his paradigm algorithm had assigned Dib the identity slot reserved for a Nemesis, incidentally tagging him as Irken kin
- There was actually so little left of Zim’s uniform leggings at this point that the whole pelvis section had torn open as he hit the ground
In reaction to being pinned underneath the full weight of Dib in the smoke and the smell of burning fuel, blood and adrenals pumping, something clunked into place like a metaphorical key in a latch. Zim stiffened, overtaken by autonomous arousal, and heat suffused his body.
“What-” Dib said. Something had moved against his leg, just the smallest twitch. He pulled back, switching to the flat of his forearm to pin Zim by the chest, and brushed away the shredded remains of black leggings. He was thinking of hidden weapons and bizarre alien parasites, and not at all of the situation actually unfolding beneath his fingers.
The alien flesh there, which he had always taken to be as flat and featureless as the rest of Zim’s insectoid body, was moving. In fits and starts, first the twitching tips and then the plump insides, four delicate petals of flesh began to fold back. Zim hissed, recoiling. The petals folded back until they revealed a lazily pulsing entrance, which gaped wide enough to easily admit two or three fingers.
Dib’s eyes were as wide as the rims of his glasses. “Zim,” he said, “what am I looking at-?”
“Pitiful dirt child,” Zim snarled, “not even advanced enough to recognize a breeding channel when you see one. I can’t believe I let you get taller than me, I should have cut you off at the kneecaps when you were still a smeet.”
Dib swallowed. “So that’s analogous-” he snatched his hand back from the petal that he had been hesitantly stroking the tip of. “Wow. Bipedal specieses, huh?” he said, nervously. “I guess we’re all kinda just... like that.”
Zim grudgingly relaxed back on the ground. He would have preferred not to do this again, but he was willing to put up with it given that it was only Dib here and not someone who might tell someone who might tell someone who might tell the Tallests that he had let an alien get this close in the first place. He didn’t mind Dib as much as he might have minded other interested parties under the same circumstances. In truth, it did not matter whether he minded or not, and he was also well aware of this fact. It would happen either way; better to get it done with.
He steeled himself. And yet, for several grinding seconds, absolutely nothing happened.
“Well?” he said, impatient despite the fact that his body was only growing looser and warmer the longer he lay pinned. There was a persistent distracting feeling of slick beading inside himself.
“Oh!” Dib said, jolting. “Sorry I, uh, I’ll just get off you if you’ll promise not to take my head off once you’re loose…”
“Eeeuh?” Zim said. He squinted one eye at the admittedly arresting specimen of primitive physiology above him. “What are you blabbering about? Get on with it. I have a very busy schedule full of schemes to plot, I don’t have time to lay around all day waiting to get bred.”
Dib experienced for the first time in his life the completely simultaneity of visceral horror and raging arousal. His skin flushed; his brain filled with improbable abominations of biological science.
In fact, Dib need not have worried. There had not been an Irken capable of organic breeding in nearly six thousand years, although the mechanisms, such as they were, remained. The verb itself was at best a holdout from a less mechanical era, as Zim’s english translation program struggled to find a verb which was neither a flagged for vulgarity nor a euphemism.
“Well?” Zim said. “Get your breeding spike out.”
“I’m not,” Dib said, “I, we’re on your front lawn?”
“And?” said Zim, who had on previous occasions been taken in front of his squad at boot camp, the prior Tallest, and more than once an entire restaurant full of dinner patrons.
It might be useful at this time to explain one of the more practical aspects of Irken social hierarchy. Zim would have had trouble articulating this in the same way that a fish would have trouble articulating the concept of water, but there were certain acts of deference owed to Taller Irkens by Lesser Irkens which were taken for granted by either class. These courtesies became more strict as the difference in height between any two individuals increased. Another invader such as Tak, who was only a few inches taller than Zim, would not have expected as much deference as a general or a cook, such as Sizz Lorr.
Sizz Lorr in particular, with his callous and demanding temperament, had very much liked to throw his weight around with Zim.
What Zim would be having trouble articulating, because it had never needed to be articulated to him as such, was that any Irken as tall as Dib was would be well within his rights to demand Zim’s assets at any time, in any place. Sizz Lorr in particular had enjoyed exercising his rights at least once a day, sometimes in front of an audience and sometimes in his office, privately, where he could fully indulge himself. It had been his preferred form of reprimand when Zim was mouthy, which had been all of the time. Hard thrusts and the insulting weight of a hand on Zim’s back or abdomen, as if he expected Zim to try and wriggle free, were the pointed reminders of their disparate ranks. His fat breeding spike left Zim in a permanent state of dull discomfort, the ceiling of the smaller Irken’s channel bruised from the constant pounding.
Although Zim had not liked Sizz Lorr at all, and had certainly not enjoyed being bred by him, he had accepted it as part of the job in the same way that a mascot suit full of hot oil was part of the job. That is to say, it was an indignity he couldn’t do much about short of wholesale escape. Which he had eventually managed. Twice.
He was dimly aware that there was a difference between being used by someone he reviled and by someone he wanted to impress. Dib, although Zim would have denied this, fell much more in the second category than the first.
When he had been a scientist in the energy labs, Tallest Miyuki had asked for him once. That had been a proud day. She could have had anyone in the lab, and she asked for him. It wasn’t a disrespect to be asked for by a Tallest, not for a proud Irken patriot. Although neither Purple nor Red had ever asked for Zim, which was - fine, good - great, even. They clearly recognized his worthiness of character in spite of his biological height, so - so really it was a sign of respect. But he would rather have been used by them than by Sizz Lorr. Sizz Lorr had only ever made him feel sore and miserable and infuriatingly degraded.
Dib made a distressed face. “Why would you even want me to--”
“You’re the one who pinned me!” Zim shouted, slapping his palms against the ground in irritation. “You obviously want Zim, and who wouldn’t, Zim is a fine invader far superior to your own drooling idiot species, so let’s go!”
“There’s been a misunderstanding,” Dib said, struggling to take his eyes off the slowly curling and uncurling petals, each of them plumping with blood until they had become the delicate color and firmness of a succulent.
Zim could not and would not conceptualize of being unwanted by a Taller, even if that Taller was also his infuriating human nemesis. Even Sizz Lorr had wanted to use him, blunt and loathsome and nasty as he had been. All grease and goading smug insults and oooh Zim could just launch him into an acid pit for daring to imply that the entire empire wasn’t in absolute mourning waiting for him to return from exile. He had done his best to forget the things his former boss had told him while he was bent over the counter in the back of the kitchen, cleaning rag squeezed in hand, teeth gritted. Like most things that didn’t support Zim’s extremely specific understanding of reality, those had been discarded as irrelevant, deceitful, and unimportant.
Likewise, Zim discarded the suggestion that Dib might not want him in favor of the assumption that Dib was just too stupid to know how to work a breeding spike.
“Here,” he said, and grabbed for the fastening of Dib’s black jeans. “Idiot worm baby - I’ll do it myself -”
Dib jolted when the heel of Zim’s palm ground past his growing hardness. He stared, slack jawed, at the events unfolding underneath him. In no way had he anticipated this ending to his day when he got out of bed that morning.
Zim fished out the rapidly swelling cock with a critical eye. It was certainly alien to him, although the smaller size would be a relief after such extensive familiarity with Sizz Lorr’s disgusting knob. It had a pleasing amount of give to it, a velvety soft dermal lining. Yes, he could deal with this.
And then Dib slapped his hand away.
“Hey!” Dib said, “You could at least ask me first!”
Zim bristled, metaphorically. “You want me to beg to be bred by your inferior flesh spike? Zim would never!”
“What? No, I mean,” Dib said, hastily shoving himself back into his jeans, “you ought to ask me if I want to or not, instead of just grabbing me.”
Zim glared at him, and then rolled his hand in the direction of Dib’s hips. “Your spike is distending, of course you want to. Why would I waste time asking?”
Dib grimaced. “Okay, I don’t know how your alien junk works, but for humans it’s not something that only happens on call. I don’t get a say in when it does that. It’s just a weird biological…thingy, it doesn’t automatically mean I’m okay with whatever you want to do to me.”
Zim’s left eye twitched. “You will not even let Zim touch your inferior body? Is Zim to merely lie still and be disgraced?”
“No! No-” Dib raised his palms, making a face. “Why do you want to touch me, anyway! You hate me!”
“You are Tall. You are on top of me. You want for satisfaction. Zim will not be known as-” he scowled, searching his language banks for the right word, “-frigid. I am an elite invader! I do not need to be held down for breeding!”
“I’m not gonna hold you down for anything, especially that!” Dib snapped, recoiling physically from Zim. “Except, um,” he amended, “world saving stuff, I guess.”
“I am not resisting,” Zim pointed out, saying it slowly, like he would have for GIR. A thought occurred to him, then, as a blurry memory of a drill sergeant who had liked to pinch and twist even the most obedient soldiers’ petals until they were squirming and kicking to break free. He frowned. “Unless you desire resistance…?”
Zim was, at this point, feeling very annoyed. Here he was, open and warm and ready, and all his idiot nemesis would do about it was shout nonsense at him.
“I mean jeeze,” Dib said, deflating. “I know we’re enemies and all, but I’m not a rapist. I’m the good guy!”
Zim scanned his banks for rapist. “One who engages in sexual contact with an unwilling victim,” he said, prodding at the concept with his tongue. Was he the unwilling victim in this scenario? But he was a good Irken! The pride of his species! He would never deny a Taller the use of his channel, not even Sizz Lorr, whom he would happily have murdered given the chance. Although - well it hadn’t been denying so much as avoiding, but surely that was within acceptable parameters. He had other work to do in the restaurant. Schemes to scheme. It wasn’t as if he had resisted. He just… had taken pains not to be available.
Was he not being accommodating enough? As squishy and brown as Dib was, he was at least a counteragent worthy of the enmity of an Irken invader, a considerable thwarter of wiles, and a passable intellectual rival. To be recognized by Dib would be… acceptable. Zim could live with this, as long as word didn’t get around that he’d let an alien wiggle into his kinship chart. Anyway, he was maddenly curious about that soft little spike analogue Dib had.
Zim let out a long suffering sigh. “I don’t see why it matters whether I’m willing or not, you’re entitled and you initiated. You must want this - who wouldn’t, Zim is a magnificent specimen sure to please even the most superior tastes, let alone a gawky dirt monkey like you.”
“So you don’t want me to… do you.”
“Fshh, of course not, puh-lease.” Zim wiggled his exposed antennae through the rent wig. “Zim? Desire the carnal attentions of some barely evolved rodent? As IF!”
“O...kay,” Dib said. He reached forward, and for a moment Zim brightened with anticipation, but then his hands only brushed the ragged remains of leggings back into a more modest alignment. He pulled Zim’s shirt down a little bit, covering the worst of the delicate channel that rippled for more of his attention.
Zim drew back warily from the fussing. “What are you doing?” he demanded. The fabric felt strange against his tender exposed insides. And Dib’s hand had departed much too quickly.
“I don’t really understand what’s happening, but I’m sure not gonna have sex with you in public, on your front lawn, in the dirt,” Dib said, sitting back. “Especially if you just think you - have to? For some reason? Like I said, I don’t really get any of this. It’s been a confusing few minutes.”
Zim looked from Dib down to his resettled uniform and back again. “But,” he said. “But you - do not want Zim?”
Dib rubbed at the back of his neck, looking anywhere else. “Let’s just focus on the part where I made your doomsday machine blow up and forget about whether I hypothetically want to investigate your extremely weird alien insides with my mouth, okay?”
Zim twitched an antenna.
Dib got up, brushing off his knees and hunching into himself. “Sorry I touched your… um. Those things. I didn’t know what they were. I wasn’t trying to feel you up. I can just… uh… I’ll send you some of those stupid community health flyers about consent and then we can try and have this conversation again. You want a hand up?”
Zim eyed the hand that Dib extended between them. “...Yes.”
Once they were both on their feet, tugging uncomfortably on their clothes and scraping at the grass with the tips of their shoes, Dib coughed awkwardly into his fist.
“That is,” he said, “I mean, if you wanna do something some time when we’re not trying to kill each other, we could go get a milkshake or… do whatever it is you guys do on dates. You have my number.”
Zim blinked at him several times in rapid succession.
“....Okay,” he said.
Dib brightened a little bit. “Okay?”
“Okay,” Zim said, a little more firmly. “I, uh. I think GIR has a coupon book.”
“Neat,” Dib said.
Zim nodded vaguely, but he was already several steps deep into the beginning of a thought. His brain skipped ahead like a bored reader paging through a 700 page novel, skimming forward to the Good Part.
He would also like to investigate, he thought, the effect of a Dib-mouth on his superior Irken insides.