One step closer…Colors (golden irises, ivory skin, plain blue shirts) and promises that mean nothing. Or they should mean nothing. Might've meant nothing a few years ago.
He was an Invader. A solider. The kind that are trained in the ways of cruelty and are prepared to die for the Empire. The kind that went to battle, prepared to never come back and were honored to spill their own blood for their world. The kind that went to war and destroyed entire planets and felt nothing. No spark of guilt or fear. Irkens didn't know the meaning of either word.
'Come on, Zim.' Pale lips curled into that smile. The lifting of the sly corners. The one that was pure evil. The one he'd seen so many times he could mark the way the creases would deepen, so many times Zim could draw it on that face in the dark.
The one that used to mean pain and devious intentions and now meant long days hidden under blankets, warm, lazy afternoons while eating too many sugary confections, rainy mornings, new discoveries and disgusting kisses and teasing touches and so many other human clichés that used to make him sick. Still do on occasions. 'Hurry up. I didn't take you for a slow poke. A moron, but not a slow poke.'
Zim glares. Well, Attempts to glare. It falls flat but, it's the thought that counts.
His spooch beats so hard, it's too loud in his antenna.It beats like it wants out of his chest. It's overwhelming and every step he takes the doubt seems to increase. Dib's waiting, that human is standing in the shadows of this hill. Their hill.
Memories of wrestling, rolling down the steep incline and sledding in the horrid winter season. The entire world zooming by like they were in hyper drive. So swift. So quick. But, it made a tingly delicious sensation take over his entire body.
Zim's mouth curves down into a frown.
So uncertain. Was this the right choice? Giving in. Letting everything go. Was it like surrender? He hated that word. Hated how it tasted in his mouth. Hated how the syllables ran together. Hated the meaning behind it.
But, following all of that…something sour…something very unpleasant. He'd only felt it once in his life. When he'd been on trial. When they'd been about to destroy him, take away his very existence by ripping it out through his back.
'Hey…' Warm tawny eyes grown softer, too soft. Too Gentle. 'It's okay, Space Monster.' Dib's being stupid and human again. 'I'm scared too.' He makes it sound like a big secret. Like Zim isn't all alone in being weak.
The guilt eases and Zim doesn't need such stupid words and tender eyes but, all the same the fearless alien invader kicks a rock out of his way (it shoots way beyond them and down into the valley to rejoin its companions) and marches up the hill, all hesitation gone, and into the boy's disgustingly warm arms, as he had many times before. But this time it’s so different.
'Zim isn't scared. You're big head makes you think you know everything.' The alien pokes at the human's sternum. 'You don't, Pig-Brain.'
'Uh-huh. I'll remember that, Space-Boy.' Dib's laughter echoes, bouncing off the not too far away mountains, buildings, the sunset and back to them. Zim says nothing back but, smirks and lets himself be enveloped in the too familiar embrace of the human. Everything smells sweetly; like sunshine and antiseptic and Dib. Everything is bleary. It feels like a dream.
And Zim is content.
Three sharp claws press up against the tinted glass with something akin to reverence.
There's the constant buzzing, beeping of machinery. This assures him somehow.
The noises become almost like a prayer. Although he doesn't know who he'd be praying to, if anything since he believes in no deity. All he knows is that his wishes feel palatable and are on a continuous loop. Had he really thought that leaving the human here would be an option?
Inside the case of glass, dark hair floats absently in the re-vitalizing chamber. And the human's face is gaunt, pale. So unlike him. Usually so full of life.
Zim bites down on his tongue angrily. Pathetic human.
His claws make a horrible scratching noise against the glass. The human's eyes are closed, lids a sickly lavender color. His lips are slightly parted and the little bubbles that escape are just another assurance that this hasn't been for naught.
The irken steps back a bit away from the machine, his antenna perked for any outside movement from the hallway. Anyone who might come in and disrupt them. Not that it really mattered. Zim's lip curl at the primitive machinery that surround them. A sea of wires and tubes.
He cracked his knuckles, the gloves lightly squeaking in the silence.
"You're more trouble than you're worth, Stink-Brain." Zim hisses before using the combined force of his PAK and his fists to break the revitalizing chamber. The glass shatters and as he'd predicted the alarms start going off immediately.
Cursing in a mixture of Irken and english, Zim hefts the unconscious human into his arms and makes a break for it. The Voot cruiser isn't far from here. But, he hadn't thought he'd be leaving with the boy. Now it was a mad dash. What had he been thinking, leaving Gir at home?
A flood of angry scientists are the least of his worries, Zim thinks, trying not to notice how limp and pale the Dib is as they escape, away from the place where this whole thing had started, away from cold science and even colder aged machinery.
'Zim!' Dib's voice rings in his antenna, frightened but not for himself. But, for him. Zim sees the hazel eyes widen and the gold specks darken with the emotion. There's the loud rumble, and he can feel it in his bones as it shakes the floor.
Then the explosion. The one that makes him wish he'd never been able to hear because now he barely can. The one that destroyed the entire left wing in Membrane Enterprises. The one that was so blinding, so searing in its intensity that it stole away the Dib-Human's consciousness and had yet to give it back.
The last thing he sees is Dib's eyes before the world goes white and then black.
"DIB!" Zim is thrown from his sleep cycle from the memory, screaming as it replays itself over and over again. The explosion had damaged him too. Melted PAK metal. His left antenna damaged beyond repair. But, it had captured those last few moments perfectly.
A hand, covered in a new rubber glove, falls against the barrier that separates them. It's weak, flimsy. But, there's a bigger, invisible wall between them now.
The Irken curses himself for feeling so weak. He'd fallen asleep, in front of the tube, as he'd done for the last few weeks. The glass was clear, clear enough to see every tiny flaw on the Earth-stink's body. All the old scars; the ones he'd memorized the stories to. And all the new ones. The still healing skin, raw and red. But, this was good. This was progress. Better than being split open, blood gushing, where Zim could see his bones…when he could hear the boy's slowly fading cries of agony.
He growls, and his throat feels raw.
The machines that surround them beep tellingly; he's alive. Thanks to him. A few more days in that retched place, with all its limited technology and the human would've been dead. The morons on this planet didn't have what it took to keep the boy alive.
Zim lets his hand drop from the tube, eyes fighting not to linger as he turns away to work, fingers twining themselves behind his back. On what…he has no idea. There's nothing to conquer. Nothing that matters.
'Are you positive that we won't be torn to a billion pieces and be left as foodening for those creatures you call "wildlife"?' Zim asks, obviously hesitant. The slope looks deadly, all white and icy. The snow had fallen here the night before, covering the hill with the icky condensed version of rain. To make his point, he kicks a bunch of it out of his way and in the general direction of the human he was speaking to.
Dib was setting up the sled, pink tongue sticking out from between slightly chapped lips. His ears are covered with the fuzzy muffs. 'Oh, quit being a baby. We won't be torn into two pieces, let alone a billion.' He stood up at last, brushing his gloveless hands off on his pants.
'Ready?' The teen seems way too enthusiastic for Zim's liking. But, he'd been too much of everything since that day. The day when he'd walked into the stupid stink-head's arms.Too happy, too excited, too loud. As if that had gave Dib a gigantic boost of energy and life when he'd been lacking in it. Now Dib came to Zim's house and dragged him out to go 'sledding' and for dinners and sometimes they stayed in and just watched X-Files or messed around with deadly chemicals. Or if Zim felt like it they would wrestle, talk, fly into space.
The irken shook his head, trying to send this particular stream of thought to the mental dumpster where it belonged. The Dib took this as Zim not being ready. He frowned. "Come on Zim. It'll be fun." Then the frown was gone much quicker than it would ever have been two years ago.
And then the boy's cold fingers had wrapped themselves around Zim's wrist and yanked. "Arragh! I refuse to ride this pathetic 'sled'!"
Dib stared down at him, lips quirking into that devious smirk of his. Zim regarded it wearily, wondering what the human had planned now. "You look like a wrapped up cucumber." He informed his alien counterpart.
The irken snatched his wrist away, from where it had been hanging in the other grip limply. "I DO NOT! I look FABULOUS!" He self-consciously patted down his fuzzy hat, two warm jackets (of which there were three sweaters underneath that) and his new pink scarf.
Dib crossed his arms and leaned against a nearby tree. "You're right. You do. Zim looks prepared to face the elements and any foreign threats that might try to take him down." The irken sniffed and nodded, holding his chin high.
"That I am, Dib-Pig. That I am."
"So, do you think that the Almighty Zim and his fabulous outfit could withstand a teeny, tiny ride down the hill? After, all you'll in perfectly capable hands." If Zim had paid attention, he would've noticed the light gold eyes dancing with amusement. Dib had achieved the art of manipulating his alien quite a long time ago. Fortunately, for all involved (except Zim) he was a moron and didn't pay any attention.
"I do not need your hands!" Zim stomped over to the sled and flopped down on top of it, carefully taking position. "I will ride the sled myself!" Sniffing in distain, he looked down over the edge of the hill and his spooch fell. It was high…really, really high. It was like…a billion feet or something.
Dib was still leaning against the tree, eyebrow raised.
"Actually,um, Zim wishes for your company so uh, if we crash you can take the worst of it."
The human snickered and strode over, the snow crunching under his feet, before he sat down behind the irken, and wrapped his long limbs around Zim's small waist. "Sure, sure. I'll protect your giant ego. It's a trying task, but I'm up for it."
The irken felt like he was being made fun of, but was unsure of how so, just settled on glaring evilly over his shoulder at the much too tall teen. "Just hurry and force this primitive machine to move." He didn't expect buttons or wheels or anything fancy (especially not from the human race) but, when Dib began shoving them towards the edge with his feet, Zim grimaced.
"Ready, Zim?" Dib asked, obviously excited. The irken's antenna twitched as the boy's hot breath swept against the exposed skin of his cheek. His mind kind of blanked for a few seconds as it tended to do around the stupid meat-head.
"Eh?" His automatic response was all that Dib needed. With a final great push of his feet, he shoved them over the edge of the hill. "Dib-STTiiiiiiiinnk!" Zim shrieked as they went barreling over.
It only lasted for a few seconds; the cold air as it whipped past them. The pure whiteness all around, except for the bright yellow sled and black boots of the Dib from behind him. The force had him leaning backwards into the male's body. It was warm and stupidly comforting in the whirlwind. Dib's laughter should've hurt his antenna. It didn't.
They skidded to a rather even stop. Zim's eyes were wide with shock and exhilaration. Dib giggled a bit and hopped off the sled. "You get to carry it back to the top again, slow-poke!" Then he watched as the teen scrambled back to the top, standing out so magnificently against the pure white.
Zim grinned devilishly, feeling blooms of excitement in his blood. His claws wrapped around the sled and began to run. "I'll bet I can catch air with this stupid device!"
"We'll see about that, Space-Boy!"
The last words echoed in his mind. The last time he'd heard that name. The last hour of joy they'd spent together…
"Dib…" Zim found himself curled up in a ball again. It was becoming common place now to awaken from a memory, aching in front of the glass tube where he'd been keeping the boy.
From his position on the floor(he was cold), his antenna could pick up on the radio frequency. Membrane was still looking for Dib, for his son. The missing subject who'd been stolen in the middle of the night.
Talk of rewards and offers of glory, anything you want. Just give back my son.
Zim scoffed, pupiless eyes flittered to the chamber, taking in the pale naked form. If it hadn't been for him, Dib would surely be dead already. He shuddered (from cold, he told himself) and stood. Another day. Another hour. And nothing seemed to matter. Zim couldn't force himself to care.
Membrane's son is still on the loose. They say that someone stole him. Right from under their noses…
Did the kid escape? Or was he stolen? Hell, does anyone even know why he was in there in the first place?
Some accident, the papers said. Membrane refuses to disclose that information. All we have to go on is that the person who stole little boy blue, was wearing pink and flew off in some sort of air cr--
There is a 2.5 million dollar reward for anyone who can find Dib, Membrane's kidnapped so—
--freak kid of Membrane's got kidnapped. Who's to say it isn't like the last couple times? Well, this time it isn't for a ransom. As far as they know. Anyway, the story goes is that the kid was in his father's lab when it went boo--
-CRASHbzzt- The radio said as it was smashed into the nearest wall.