Saying Zim faltered or braced himself for oncoming death would be a lie. Maybe in some cliché'd alternate dimension he did cower and prepare for the end when thrust into this predicament. But in reality he's too stubborn and vain to fear the Dib; Although the fact remained in his mind that his mission was in jeopardy and he had a very short time window in which to fix this. The logical solution was to wait for an interruption or distraction. He'd always been incredibly lucky in life-or-death situations when younger; why would this time be any different?
The front door slammed open, and in walked an apparent human female. She did not look amused. Dib turned his head to ogle at her, breaking the intense glare between him and Zim.
"Really, Dib? You met him yesterday. Wait until you can at least spell someone's name properly before bringing them home and trying to get in their pants."
The irken blushed violently, red clouding every inch of his false milky skin. This was exactly the break Zim was looking for, but he decided to wait just a little bit for the perfect moment.
"Gaz! What are you doing home? It's-" A gloved fist connecting with his face shut Dib up effectively, soon followed by a knee to the family jewels. He flinched, gave a small squeak and collapsed on the floor.
"BAHAHAHAHAAA! VICTORY FOR ZIM!"
To everyone's surprise, Gaz chuckled. A little.
"I guess he wasn't expecting that. Funny how years of training and being the top in every area didn't help at all in the real world."
"I am Zim and Zim fights dirty. Nothing more than that. I hope to fuck it was just him caught unaware, because if that's the pinnacle of your species' combat skills then that is truly pathetic." He waltzed to the front door and picked up his bag, in good humour all of a sudden. "Goodbye Dib! See you at schooool!" He sang out teasingly as he skipped out the door.
"Wait! Come back here, human scum! Don't just run away from a fight, have you no honour?" Dib attempted to yell. He turned and looked angrily at his sister. "Gaz, why on Irk didn't you stop him? I almost had him! We could've-"
"There's no we in this, Dib, I don't give two shits about your messed up creepy interspecies relations. I am not getting in the middle of your weird business with him; you can deal with it yourself."
And deal with it he did, Zim noted. For several weeks the Dib was punctual in his pestering, making a point to irritate Zim at least three times a day. Their fights were daily and their bruises many. Zim was always content to keep a low profile at school but Dib was always content to interrupt his thoughts with arrogant threats and accusations. Wake up, go to skool, argue. Lunch, fistfight, bicker. Leave skool, chase, go to bed. It had become as integral as clockwork and as involuntary as respiration. After the first month Zim had finally recognized it for what it was.
Jeez. The dirt-monkey has been a huge annoyance. One might almost say he's sending mixed signals. Zim put down the flask of ethanol he'd been handling and pushed his goggles onto his forehead. Nevertheless, an interesting distraction is still a distraction. He WILL not interfere with the mission.
Everyone in his grade was on a trip to a nearby university, poking around their expensive medical labs. The whole place reeked of formeldehyde and money. He looked over to the other side of the room, unsettled. There was a crowd of his peers inspecting the medical cadavers and disembodied organs, but only one person among them was of any importance. Dib.
Honestly, what does he find so fascinating about those bones? A corpse is a corpse no matter how much it's been fucking cut open. The irken was holding a smooth white tibia up to the light, looking upon the ridges and cracks with wonder in his eyes. Now Zim was irritated.
"Space freak." He turned away and tried distracting himself with the dangerous chemicals laid out in front of him, and couldn't help but crack a toothy smile. "Let's see, what do we have... arsenic, lithium hydroxide, heavy water, hydrochloric acid. Oh yes, Zim can do plenty damage with this." Snapping on a thicker pair of latex gloves, he reached out for a beaker only to have it snatched away a hair's breadth before him.
"Sorry, I'll just take some of that."
Snarling, he turned around to face the dirty thief. "Go get your own, Dib-shit. I was here first."
"Come on Zim, we're in public. Don't you think a few manners are in order? Or were you raised in a cattle shack like the rest of your people?"
Dammit, the little bitch is taller than me! It's been only a few weeks, how has he grown that much? "The word, you worthless cunt, is barn. It's what you're all going to go to when I take over this greasy obscene land. Clipped, tagged, and slaughtered, just like how these 'Muricans treat their livestock."
"No. Zim has no appetite for meat. It is disgusting beyond compare. There's no difference from a human corpse, and the thought of eating that germ-infested, oozing, torn up sack of organs brings forth nothing but vomit. A fallen enemy belongs at my feet, not in my mouth."
"So all chicken nuggets are your 'fallen enemies.'"
An annoyingly loud bell rang, signaling lunch time for the high-schoolers. Zim had ripped off his goggles and gloves in record time and was out the door promptly. Footsteps behind him made him sigh in irritation.
"Hey, don't just ignore me like that. Your listening skills could use some improvement."
"God, you're annoying. Your stupid huge head isn't making things any easier for me."
"My head's not big!"
"Leave Zim alone."
Zim turned around, snarling. "Do you want to see your organs on the fl-" He stopped when he saw the look on Dib's face. Being the dense fuck that he is, having big brown eyes and a tiny pout thrust in his face doesn't affect Zim. Just confuses him. He gave a loud sigh but kept walking down the stairs.
"What do you want."
"....I need help."
"No shit, Sherlock. With what? Your malfunctioning brain cells or your inconcievable idiocy?"
They had reached the bottom of the winding staircase and before them lay the enormous pulsing hub that was the university cafeteria. Mounds upon mounds of people bustled about, either deciding which ridiculously long line to get into or searching for an empty seat among the tables, holding overflowing trays and supersized cans of pop. Zim smiled with realization.
"Oh, I get it now, Irk boy. You need to purchase food in order to appear normal."
"Yeah, I've never needed to actually eat it before. I don't know if any of it is gonna kill me or not."
"Well, good luck with that." A thin arm grabbed his own before he could walk away.
"Come on. I'll get you whatever you want in exchange. Just this once, please."
"You're awfully desperate."
"It's not like I can ask anyone else. You knowing is bad enough, I don't need any other humans on my case."
"I suppose you have a point. Fine. Zim will assist you today, in exchange for..." He trailed off, searching the cafeteria, not quite knowing what he was looking for. He could hear Dib talking to him but didn't register the alien's words. Then he spotted an asian cuisine booth and got an idea.
"There!" he shouted, pointing. "Hurry up, worm child, get in line while it's still short!"
"Alright, geez. Don't be so loud, you're hurting my antennae."
"Who cares, get your monies out."
They walked up to the line and Dib reached behind him into his bag, rummaging around awkwardly.
"Just take it off so you can see inside."
"I can't. It's attached to my spine."
Zim gave him an incredulous look. "That's the stupidest thing I've heard you say, and that's saying something. Why would you do that? Is it like that for everyone in your homeland?"
"Yes, everyone has one. It's not a bag, it's more like a computer or a second brain. One of its functions happens to be storage. Remember the lasers?"
"Ah, yes. Lasers." He chuckled awkwardly.
"Got it." Zim looked over and took the cash from the other, holding the bills up to the light. To his surprise, it was real.
"May I take your order?"
He jolted. The line had moved quicker than he expected. "Oh, yeah, give me some...habañero ramen and a thing of veggie souvlaki. Extra wasabi on the ramen."
"That'll be twelve ninety eight. For here?"
"Yes." He handed the cashier the money and dragged a dazed Dib over to the pickup counter. He noticed the other looking nervously at the flaming woks before him and chuckled.
"Having regrets, Dib?"
"...A little, yeah..."