Now, it wasn’t that the thought hadn’t crossed his mind. They’d talked about this plenty of times enough. He just hadn’t expected, he would… Dib hadn’t expected Zim to be the one to suggest it first. So he had to be sure. He needed to be sure he’d heard the alien right. Zim hated to repeat himself, he was aware, but this was important.
“What did you say?” Dib requested.
Zim glared at him with his magenta eyes, as Dib had expected him to, but he relents and repeats himself.
“You could just leave. The Earth. With me.” As he clarified himself, he began to fold inward, and Dib could tell he was serious then.
Ever since they were juniors in high school the two had talked about it. They’d spent that whole summer building a ship, just to have it get destroyed in a freak piggie accident. One last reminder of their former rivalry. Dib remembered when Zim had found the pig responsible. He laughed like he’d lost his mind all over again and when Dib had asked what was so funny Zim just showed him the piggie signed to Zim love Zim.
Apparently, when Zim had managed to re-transplant his brain that brain had thought it a brilliant idea to hurl the toy into the future in a fit of rage. The piggie was bound to catch up to him eventually, and how strange it was that when it finally happened he could laugh about it instead.
“Then you fixed it,”
“Complete and total obliteration could hardly impede the aptitude of such a brilliant solider, er well, advanced mind. So yes Dib, don’t be shy. Praise me.”
“That’s amazing Zim! I can’t believe you built a ship from scratch in seven months! We hadn’t even found a proper motherboard for the cockpit last time. I can’t believe you finished an entire ship on your own.” Dib happily praised.
The purple flush of alien skin hadn’t been unnoticed on Dibs part. Strange that even now Zim had such a hard time accepting genuine praise and compliments. Then again, who else but Dib and his sister could the Irken be honest around? So he wasn’t surprised.
“Yes well,” Zim continued, while awkwardly clearing his throat, “we could have finished our project much faster if it weren’t for your insistence of this “collash” of yours.”
“It’s pronounced college, Zim.” The para-scientist corrected, “How have you been on Earth for the past twelve years and you’re still mispronouncing basic words?”
“No one noticed me out of place when I called you Dib-Stink.” The alien casually pointed out.
“Or when you used to call me, Dib-Worm.”
“Dib-Monkey,” Zim offered.
“Stink-Beast,” Dib helpfuly added.
“Earth-Stink,” Zim generously supplied.
“You always tried to find as many ways as possible to call me stink. Why so much focus on the smell?” Dib questioned indirectly, laughing as he asked.
“Insulting a creatures smell is the strongest attack of character you can achieve.” The Irken explained, “Sure, they could change their clothing, lose their weight, or cut their hair. They could even shrink their bulbous head,”
“I’ve grown into it,” Dib remarked defensively, cradling the head in question.
“But,” Zim continued,” no amount of soap can save someone from the inevitable fact that they will stink again. And they will continue to stink for THE REST OF ETERNITY!!!”
At this Zim burst into an evil cackle standing up as high as his five feet of height could from the roof of Dibs house. Dib couldn’t help the smile that warmed his face, even if he wanted to shrink away from the various lights flickering on across his neighborhood.
“Zim keep it down!” Dib insisted, tugging at the aliens’ shirt, “Or do you want the neighborhood to see you out of your disguise?”
Zim smirks down at him, as if to say he was prepared to do it again.
“Poor delusional Dib. The only thing I have to do to cover myself is to say that I have pink eye. Works every time.” He replied while innocently clasping his hands together.
The autumn winds picked up leaving a chill in the air. Dib tucked his knees in as he wrapped his arms around them.
“Humans are stupid,” Dib grumbled, though not as bitterly as he once would have.
“Most of them, yes.” The other replied.
Zim sat back beside him, leaning over the human lazily. Dib often liked to imagine the day he’d leave the planet. Recently his imagination had it happening during his college lectures. There would be fiery explosions as all hell broke loose. The planet had doomed itself and chaos was rampant complete with rioting in the streets. Then, as the Earth began to split apart and swallow all the jerks that had ever teased and hassled Dib there Zim would be, hovering in a space ship as he stretched out his hand.
“Lets leave this filthy planet!” He imagined Zim to say, “We’ll travel the stars, exploring the universe; together!”
Dib would take his hand and they'd fly so far away from the planet he once swore to protect. Never looking back. It was funny, because in a realistic scenario Dib knew he would never leave the Earth like that. No, in reality, he’d do everything he could to save humanity. Zim would say he did too much for Earth. Dib would turn it back on him and say he did too much for Irk.
A rarely spoken of bond between two outcasts. Dib didn’t question Zim once he began venting his frustrations with his former Tallest. They’d been in sophomore year then. That’s just what hormonal teens did, complain. Dib did the same. The professor was far from an evil overlord but he sure did act like one.
Zim leaned himself comfortably against Dibs side and the para-scientist smiled fondly at his company. He knew what Zim was asking. This wasn’t a quick visit. The two had been planning this for years and Dib knew full well that once they left, they wouldn’t be coming back. In a move that was uncharacteristic of him, the Irken seemed to be taking his time, patiently sitting next to Dib as he used the humans coat as a barrier from the cold. Having Zim with him here felt like a moment that would never happen again and it had college, humanity and his very planet feeling like a hazy fever dream.
Could he leave it all behind? Was he ready? The other sighed and Dib looked down at him then. He was smiling. A smile so genuine and warm. It splayed across his face so naturally and drew Dibs attention.
Didn’t that use to be rare? Years ago, yes. As his thoughts drifted lazily about, and his arm draped over Zims shoulders he could hear his sister shuffling about from inside. She was the only other person home. He turned his head to glance back at his bedroom. There was just one last thing he needed to take care of first. Dib stood up, causing the other to look up at him with curious eyes.
“I have to get ready.”
A surge of confidence sparked in the Irkens’ smile.
“Gir and I will be waiting at the base.” Zim declared as he stood and dusted himself off, “Gather whatever preparations you need and… say your good-byes.”
It seemed like Zim had the same idea and Dib was already following the direction of his gaze. Hearing the shink of Zims’ mechanical spider legs had Dib turn back, giving the alien the tiniest of waves. Zim returned it with a wave just as nervous and small, before resuming his climb down the house. He entered his cloaked voot cruiser and zipped out of the neighborhood. Dib raced inside only to find Gaz already waiting for him.
“Gaz?” Dib spoke, surprised to see her standing there.
“Dad’s gonna be pissed when he finds out you ditched college.” She remarks simply enough.
Her tone is as gruff as usual. Anyone else would think she was angry, but Dib knew better. After all, she wouldn’t be grabbing his favorite notebooks and paranormal research notes and packing them up as neatly as she was if she was upset. Dib laughed as he stuffed his favorite Sasquatch plushie into his suitcase.
“It wasn’t exactly like he was happy before,” Dib reminded her, “You remember how he flipped when I said I was going into journalism and criminal investigation.”
“Instead of science.” She added, because of course she remembered.
“Yeah and when I told him that forensics was science he tried to say he meant real science.”
“Face it Dib,” Gaz remarked as she stuffed Dibs notes and old posters into his suitcase, “You’re his clone, so that means you have to be just like him. While for me, the gross squishy birth baby, it doesn’t matter what I do. You know, just to mess with him once I told him I was gonna be a prostitute. Wanna know what he said?”
“Let me guess,” Dib began.
The two said it at the same time,
“That’s great honey.” They said, in that deep emotionless voice of their Dads’.
The Membrane siblings laughed. Sure, it wasn’t funny in hindsight, but they were use to it. It was just nice to have someone understand.
“Yeah, ‘cause of course that’s what he said. It wasn’t even a recording that time so what was even the excuse, right?”
“I know! It’s like he wastes all of his time bothering me and he can’t even bother to listen to you. Dad sucks.”
“He does.” His sister agreed.
Dib let his hands linger on top of the suitcase. He… was finished packing. Just needed to zip it. Then he’d say good-bye. Of course he couldn’t say his farewells until his suitcase was zipped. That would be irresponsible.
Because he’d say good-bye and try to leave and all of the things they’d worked so hard to pack would spill all over the floor. Gaz would call him a moron and then he’d have to stay even longer just to repack all of his stuff. Because of course more time spent with Gaz, his sister and closest friend in the world, would be awful. Honestly just the worst.
“I’m moving out this summer.” Gaz informed him suddenly.
“Wow, at sixteen?” He questioned, his older brother instincts kicking in as he folded his arms.
“Hey you were seventeen!” She reminded him.
“And I had Zims’ house to stay at.” He reminded her, “Where are you going to live?”
Gaz grunted, “I’ll figure it out.” As she turned to leave her brothers’ room.
Dib took a hold of his sisters arm as softly as he could, stopping her where she stood. Her head hung low and Dib frowned. Until suddenly his eyes lit up. He dug for his phone and shot Zim a quick text. Dib didn’t wait for the reply as he walked past his sister, still holding onto her arm as he guided her to her room.
“What are you doing?” She asked, trying as hard as she could to not sound choked up.
She always tried to be strong. That was just Gazs’ way.
“Do you really expect me to believe you’d go to space without your Game Slave 3D? Come on Gaz, I’m your brother. I know you’d kill Zim and me if we didn’t bring at least some of your games with you.”
She faltered in her steps, slagging behind her brother for a moment as she took in what he had said. Then suddenly, as he’d managed to find her handheld sitting on her desk, he could feel arms wrapping around him. He froze in place. Gaz had only hugged Dib a handful of times. In fact he could count the times on half a hand. He felt her there, longer than she’d ever hugged him, and before she could change her mind Dib grabbed her up and held on tight.
Even then she didn’t let go. He’d hold onto this fleeting moment and her, as long as he could.
“I love you. I love you. I love you.” The voice of their father called from below.
Grimacing, Gaz pushed Dib away rolling her eyes.
“Right. Dinner.” She remembered.
A screen featuring their fathers face in a recording made years ago floated in the room shoving its Y/N key toward her. She promptly pressed the N key and the screen began to spark and fizzle.
“Error,” The screen proclaimed, “input not probable. Input not probable. Input not probable.”
Dibs eyes widened as he was quickly made aware of what was about to happen.
“I always wanted to see what it would do if you pressed no.” She remarked.
“Gaz get down!” Dib declared, dragging his sister under her bed.
The screen exploded suddenly. As the smoke cleared he was sure there was shrapnel littering the room. Once they were out from under the bed, Dib could see that he was right. Shreds of metal were stabbing about Gazs' walls, door, and some had even pierced through her mattress. Now Dib was pissed. He had his doubts before about bringing his sister with them before. He sure as hell didn’t now.
“Come on Gaz. Let’s get out of here.”
She was still in shock, but quickly recovered. They packed her things, grabbed their belongings and tossed them into the back of Dibs' car. He checked his phone just before they drove away.
“I wanted to ask if she could come.”- IZ_overlord01
“She is human friend number two.”- IZ_overlord01
“Do not tell her this.”- IZ_overlord01
“This phrasing displeases her.”- IZ_overlord01
Dib snickered at his phone.
“Friend number two,” He muttered.
“That better not be me he’s talking about.” Gaz remarked with a frown.
Dib laughed as he peeled out of the Membrane driveway like a bat out of hell. The drive soon fell into a comfortable silence as possibilities littered Dibs' brain. The drive took them closer and closer to Zims' base and the closer they got the more Dib began to take in just how little they had prepared for this. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest and he gripped the steering wheel tighter. The para-scientist grinned from ear to ear in that way that always use to scare his dim-witted classmates, but he couldn’t find it in him to care. They were leaving, for good this time.
It was utterly terrifying, and that was what made it so exciting.
“Oh god,” Gaz cut in suddenly, “you should see yourself. You look so crazy right now.”
“Gaz, were about to go into a spaceship and leave Earth. Forever. Tell me that’s not a little crazy.” The older brother dared.
“It is.” She admitted, a faint smile on her lips. “It fucking is and I love it.”
Then they were there and Zim was already waiting for them standing out on the street, he and Gir both out of their costumes where anyone could see them. Some of the more nosy neighbors already had and began to gather at their front steps.
Dib brought his car to a screeching halt swerving slightly as he turned the wheel. Dib ran out of the car with his and his sisters things.
“Zim you’re- out! What about the neighbors?”
“What are these morons going to do about it?” The Irken replied, sounding just as jittery as Dib was. “I wanted to see their stupid faces once they realized an alien was living among them! Though, I think some of them have already dialed for the police.”
“Uh,” Dib turned his head to the sound of sirens.
“Suppose that means we should go.” Zim quickly remarked, before scooping Gir up into his arms.
Zim darted towards the ship as he disarmed the cloak, reviling a massive purple ship, streaked with darts of Dibs favorite shade of blue. Dib wasted no time grappling his and Gazs’ things as he headed toward the ship, his sister following quickly behind him. The ship sealed itself off once they were aboard and Zim began preparations for take off.
“We’re gonna launch piggie into space! Yay!” Gir happily cried, bouncing up and down in the co-pilot's seat with said piggie plushie in his arms.
“Soon Gir,” Zim replied as he flipped various switches and made proper adjustments to the ship, preparing it for space travel, “But first, I think it’s time we said good-bye to the base.”
“Aw, okay.” He replied sadly at first, until bursting with, “Bye bye base! I’m gonna miss you!”
Dib and Gaz flooded to the front of the ship.
“This is it.” Dib remarked.
“No going back now.” Gaz reminded.
“I wasn’t planning on it.” Zim said, pulling out a remote with a single button on it.
One press and the base was gone. The house began to explode until the explosion pulled inward and vanished leaving nothing behind. Aside from the ground being disturbed there wasn’t a single trace that anyone had lived in the empty space, and Zim knew the same was true for the underground section as well. It was as if he was never there. All that remained was the four of them. Suddenly, there was a pinging sound coming from below that was dinging against the ships shields.
“That would be the police.” Dib commented, with a smirk.
He knew the shields were more than enough for such simple metal based bullets.
“Ugh,” Gaz groaned,“let's get out of here.”
“Agreed. Lets. Move along Gir, I need my co-pilot.” Zim instructed shooing the tiny robot away, despite his protests.
Dib quickly took the other seat and made his adjustments accordingly.
“Everything clear on your end?” The alien questioned, his hands at the ready on his steering wheel.
“Ready when you are,” The human replied, steadying his grip on his own wheel.
The ship hummed as it began to shake and in no time at all, they’d cleared Earths' atmosphere. The four sat among the stars now and it made Earths' night sky look like a joke in comparison. The ship was quiet as everyone held their breaths, wrapping their heads around the overwhelming freedom. What happened now? There was a whirring noise followed by a loud bursting pop. Everyone turned their heads to find Gir holding the stuffed remains of his piggie.
He quickly shoved the destroyed toy behind his back and tried to pretend nothing was there.
“Piggie didn’t go in the microwave.” The robot poorly lied.
There was silence still, until Zim broke it with a laugh. Small and even strained at first until suddenly he was throwing his head back, howling something ugly. Yet it was the happiest Dib had heard him laugh since he’d left for college and Dib couldn’t help himself from following along. Even Gaz who tried to hide it was snickering into her hand before a snort left her. It went quiet again but they couldn’t hold it long and soon everyone was laughing. Zim ran the auto pilot for the ship and set a course for the nearest inhabited planet.
Gir almost looked like he could cry as he waited for his punishment to come. It never did, instead replaced with a new piggie as the Irken handed the robot one of many spares he had stashed away.
“Let’s make sure this piggie doesn’t end up in the microwave, okay?” Zim requested as he handed the toy over.
“Okay!” Gir loudly replied, hugging his new beloved old friend.
“He’s gonna be a brat if you keep spoiling him Zim.” Gaz argued, booting up her game.
“Unfortunately for me he already is.” Zim relented, patting the robot on the head.
From behind, Zim had been grabbed up and swung around and who else could it have been but Dib. The Irken would pretend to hate it but honestly, tonight was just too much to worry about appearing respectable and collected. So he let himself enjoy being held by someone so unbearably tall. Even if he would just deny it later. He didn’t have to deny it right now. After all, this ship was only occupied by everyone who mattered, and no one else.
It was better than he’d imagined it would be, and for the first time in his life, Zim felt complete.