A/n: This was a one shot I wrote many years ago, around 2012 or so I believe.
It was inspired by another story, which has since seemed to vanish, called 'Final Days' by Untitled Dragon.
The beautiful cover picture was drawn for me by Artamid and she captured exactly how I envisioned that particular scene.
Anyway, enjoy this older piece of mine.
Taken For Granted
Dib rolled his eyes. Of course Zim would be going off again. This time was no different to the last, except instead of rambling on about the cafeteria food giving him blisters, he was directly addressing the cafeteria drone herself. She ignored him of course, barely casting an eye towards the green 'child' directly in front of her, let alone every other student in the cafeteria for that matter.
How could they not see? Even after a two years of the same nonsense. Dib had at least expected something to change. But no. He was still picked on. Still known as the crazy kid with no friends. The paranormal freak.
Putting his hand to his chin, Dib slowly ate his cafeteria food, trying to blot out the noise of Zim's raspy voice, but it was no good. He could still hear it ringing throughout his head. He almost envied how the other students could block Zim out so easily. He just wouldn't shut up.
The pounding sensation emerging on the right side of his temple didn't help either. The more Zim ranted, the worse it got. Dib gritted his teeth; even the music from his brand new mp3 player not enough to shut out that voice.
"Shut up Zim."
It had come seemingly out of nowhere. Dib, the ghost-freak bent on tormenting and exposing the green kid, had spoken against him. The cafeteria went quiet. Zim himself went quiet, looking towards Dib wide-eyed.
And then everything returned back to how it was before. Dib rolled his eyes again.
Zim on the other hand, made his way over to the others table, slapping both hands against the wooden surface and eyeing Dib almost suspiciously, before breaking out into yet another rant.
"You dare tell me, your GREATEST, most AMAZING future slave-master, to shut up? HAVE YOU THE BRAIN WORMS…?"
"No. Go away." Dib muttered.
"Do I need to repeat myself, Dib-stink? Did you DID, or DID NOT, just my amazing form to shut up?"
Dib wanted to hit him. What an idiot. "YES, Zim. I TOLD you to SHUT UP. Now, GO AWAY."
"What if I don't want to?"
"What if I want you to?"
"But I don't want to."
"Well, I want you to! Get lost!"
"Fool! You think you can order around a superior, Irken elite like myself? I don't think so, DEEB."
"Superior? That's garbage. You haven't even destroyed one building, yet you supposedly have all this 'amazing' Irken technology at your disposal."
Zim sneered at him. "YOU'LL SEE. One day, I'm going to destroy you all, Dib. And soon!"
Dib just picked up his tray and stormed from the cafeteria. Behind him, Zim cackled in glee, oblivious to the weird stares he was getting from the students around him.
The words taunted him, and had taunted him for the longest time. All too often Dib had cast them aside, but now he stared at them, gears ticking over in his brain.
Time and time again his father had tried to persuade him to study 'Real Science.' To follow in his footsteps, and uphold the family honour of becoming a well known scientist. Dib couldn't have cared less about being his father's heir in the past. In fact, any other day he would have just looked at the picture above his head, and then elsewhere, before focusing on a new way to spy on, or expose, Zim.
Today was different. Today, he didn't look away.
Was it worth it? Dib thought about it.
His life wasn't any different. Nobody ever believed anything he said, even though the proof was right in front of them. He was tired of being ridiculed for what he believed in. Tired of being the outcast and the freak. Dib wanted something new.
He got up and made his way down to his father's lab.
A week ago, Dib had felt despaired, unwelcomed and alone in a world that shunned him. That had changed from the moment he'd explained to his father that he was interested in studying real science, and not going to bother with his paranormal studies anymore.
Skool was different as well. Slowly, he'd started to become accepted by his peers when they'd realised he no longer shouted out accusations towards the strange kid with the 'skin condition.' Zim, being Zim, hadn't noticed anything different about the boy until they'd crashed into each other in the corridor outside their homeroom one morning.
"Watch where you're going!" Dib snapped forcefully, angrily picking back up his skool books.
"It's not my fault your head is so gargantuan, I couldn't see over it stink-beast! At least my head is perfectly normal and hyyyoooman."
The alien pointed to his head, a smirk of success on his features a few students behind them started to laugh at Dib. The boy gritted his teeth, fist clenching. Enough was enough.
"At least I'm not a mental, nut-job. All you do is scream and shout about being a human. You really don't need to remind us every day, weirdo."
Some of the students sniggered. Dib smirked.
Zim looked dumbfounded for a moment or so, eyes widening as the same group of students started to jeer him and call him names. He frowned, before turning silently and going to class.
The more Dib continued to cast insults towards the alien, and retaliate to his stupid rants and accusations, the less bullied he was. Now, instead of him, Zim was the outcast. Dib just laughed to himself when Zim sat in complete confusion as to why the other students had turned on him all of a sudden. At the end of the day, it became too much for the Irken, and he approached the boy, pointing an accusing finger.
"What did you do?!"
Dib rolled his eyes. He'd been doing that a lot lately.
"I didn't do anything, moron."
"LIES! What are you planning?"
"I told you. NOTHING! ZILCH! NADA!" Dib swiped his arms across each other in front of him to emphasize what he was saying. Zim was pretty thick skulled at times.
"I don't believe you!" Zim cried out. "Why are you no longer the 'attention middle' thingy?"
"Center of attention, dumbass. Perhaps because I got sick of doing something nobody gave a crap about. I'm over it, space-dick. I don't believe in the paranormal stuff anymore. So, you don't really exist to me anymore, okay? Now, get lost. Go back to that stupid 'base' of yours or whatever you call it. I really couldn't care less anymore."
Zim went quiet. Dib just scowled at him and shoved past him, leaving the alien alone in the classroom. Other students shoved him aside as they also past, and the little alien was knocked about, being considerably shorter than his peers at 4'8."
"Foolish hyooman… I'll show you…" Zim muttered, Dib barely catching that sentence on his way out.
The boy just shook his head, and headed home, wanting to forget about the annoying alien and focus on his newfound studies with his father.
Another week had passed. Zim's attitude had changed. There were no more rants, or accusations. He just sat at his desk, looking almost despaired. The other students continued to pick on him, but gave up when he didn't react back to them.
Dib had noticed this. He hadn't said anything to the alien, not really worrying about it. He was expecting Zim to go back to his old ways at anytime now.
Only the alien never did.
Zim didn't confront him at all. He hardly even looked at the boy, let alone anybody else. Dib watched as the days passed and Zim seemed to get more and more slouched over in his seat. He started to wonder if he was depressed, because he certainly seemed to be getting that way. Nobody spoke to him. Nobody looked at him.
The only one that did was Dib. After a while, he stopped looking as well. He just ignored Zim.
He'd started reminding himself that he'd given up on all that paranormal bullcrap and was much happier now without an annoying little green moron to pester him and scream at him. His father accepted him now, possibly loved him. Even Gaz had started to change her attitude towards him. His peers spoke to him and actually acknowledged his existence. Dib was included in group work, and even invited to a party at one point.
Soon, the little alien soon stopped showing up for class.
Wound up in his newfound lifestyle, Dib hadn't noticed until a few days later. He was a little surprised at the sudden realization of the empty desk and absence of raspy voice one cold Tuesday morning, but held back from concerning himself with the situation further. It wasn't important. He didn't care about Zim – the one that made his life hell for the past two years and prevented him from gaining what he now had.
Somewhere in the back of his conscience, Dib was curious and wondered on whether or not just to check up on the alien, but that was lost when his new friends distracted him, and soon, Zim was forgotten to gossip and laughter.
It had been almost one and a half months now. One and a half months since the little alien had last been seen in the classroom. Only when Zim was mentioned at a skool assembly, Dib started to wonder.
He hadn't seen Zim for a long time. He'd forgotten all about him.
Perhaps I'll check in on the little worm. Dib thought, as the assembly drew to a close, and he headed home, only to be swayed into going to see a movie with two of his friends.
Eh, oh well. I'm sure he's fine.
Inevitably, Dib's decision that night would be the one to forever haunt him.
A few nights later, Dib was walking home from skool when he spotted a familiar figure coming towards him. A tiny robot, squeaking as it walked.
Dib paused, frowning and struggling to remember where he'd seen that thing before. And then it hit him. GIR.
Usually GIR was spontaneous and happy, from what Dib had observed in the past. A pang of concern hit him when GIR stood before him, looking up at him dully – cyan eyes once filled with joy, hollow.
"GIR? What's wrong?" Dib asked. The robot sat down in front of him, seemingly unknowing and uncaring that he was undisguised as that strange green dog.
"Mastah got a call from the big leaders last week. They tell him, he no good. To stay here on Earth forever and leave them alone. That he's really stupid and annoying and they hate his guts."
Dib felt himself start to worry. He couldn't help it. "What?"
"They tell him he was not supposed to find this planet. Mastah grew sadder every day. I tried to cheer him up, but he no care. He just get sadder and sadder. He lock himself away from me, and I don't think he eat the waffles I make him because they are cold now. I went to visit him, but he is sleeping and I can't wake him up. Usually he tells me to go away, but this time he didn't respond. I'm scared Mary…"
Dib dropped the bag he was holding, before picking up GIR and making a mad dash to Zim's base. He hardly noticed the gnomes didn't fire lasers at him.
Dib barged though the door, finding it opened with ease. The room inside looked untouched. Making his way down the elevator shaft to the base, Dib put the robot down.
"GIR, where abouts is Zim?"
GIR pointed to a door to the right of them, and Dib noticed tears welling in his eyes. He held onto Dib's pant leg as they headed into the room. There wasn't much in it, save for a computer and what looked like futon chair. He could make out a lithe form in the dull lighting.
Silence. Dib went over to the chair slowly, reaching out to place a hand on the Irken's shoulder. There was no response. No shouts. No, 'GET OUT OF MY BASE.' Only silence.
Dib swallowed, not wanting to fathom the sight before him. He shook his head in denial.
"No… Zim please, get up! Stop fooling around!"
Nothing. Zim didn't move. Hand still gripping the small shoulder, he started to realise how cold it was.
"When…" Dib croaked.
"Two nights ago. He stopped moving. I tried but…" A metallic voice informed him a moment or so later.
The same night he'd decided to go to the movies.
"Why won't mastah move, Mary?" GIR asked sadly.
Dib could only turn away.
Dib sat underneath a tree, in a field a block over from his home, a small, wooden box in his enclosed arms. The sun had started to set not long ago, the boy now bathed in a soft orange glow. He looked up to the one lonesome star visible among the vast shades of pink and orange, a small smile on his face. Every night that one star would appear first, brighter than the rest. It would still shine brightly when other stars filled the darkened skies; Dib liked to think of it as a beacon to guide the way.
It had been two months now since Zim had passed away.
A gentle wind stirred about the leaves beside him, and cherry blossoms drifted up into the air.
Dib watched them, memories surfacing in his mind. He'd held onto the good things, and let go of the bad. The name calling was the worst. It ripped at him. How selfish he'd been. It hadn't been him – it couldn't have been! Dib was a stranger to himself during those times. There was no other explanation for it. He was ashamed. Deeply ashamed.
It had been very hard to accept that Zim would never be coming back, and Dib had months of sleepless nights, thinking about what was and how things could have been different. Those memories were now bittersweet.
He was coping. Not the best, but enough to get by. He had to. Life went on.
Honey brown eyes watched as the blossoms stirred about a pair of booted feet and gather into a pile.
He'd live with the regret of the one decision he'd made that night for the rest of his life. All too often, he'd taken things for granted. Zim was no exception, and now that he was gone, the boy finally realised just how important the alien had been to him. How much he'd inspired him to pursue his dreams no matter what he was shunned for.
Dib had returned to his paranormal studies. He owed him that much.
Dib clutched the box tighter to his chest, as if it were the most precious thing in the world. As a matter of fact, to him it was. For in it, was the one thing left he had to remind him of the alien. The one thing that made the alien who he was. Unique.
The one thing that had brought Dib life. Happiness. A reason to get through the taunts and bullying.
The one thing that had accepted him more so than any of them would, no matter how many parties he was invited to.
The winds continued to stir about; a soft breeze ruffling his scythe-like cowlick. It was getting late.
GIR joined him a short while later, and Dib put his arm around the tiny robot. A few feet in front of them, a bare patch of dirt had started to shoot up tiny flowers. Time went on.
Life is a precious thing, and once lost it can never be replaced.
They both looked up to the sole star that stood out from the rest.
"Keep him safe, Mom…"
In case you're wondering what is in the box Dib is holding - it is Zim's PAK.