Part 3 of my "What is Normal Anyway" series

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He wasn't sure how long he'd been laying in bed, but he couldn't really muster up the energy to care. Both his dad and Gaz had come up to check on him, but he'd chased them off with promises that he was just tired.

That. . . Was probably it. He just needed to sleep a little longer. He'd slept fine last night but it probably just wasn't restful.

Yeah. That sounded plausible.

He huffed when he felt his bed dip again. "Listen. I'm fine, ok? I just want to lay here for awhile."

A snort. "Unacceptable Dib-Stink." A claw poked hard into his head.

Dib gasped and sat up quickly, backing away from the invasion (heh, invasion) of his personal space, glaring at the alien on his bed. "What are you doing here, scum?"

Zim grinned triumphantly and stood up, hand on his hips. "I am here, stink baby, to enact my most brilliant plan yet!" He walked forward and put his finger in front of Dibs face. Dib resisted the urge to bite at it, the last time he did that he'd almost lost his tongue (those claws were sharp!)

Zim's shit eating grin turned into a smirk. "And you can't do anything to stop ZIM!"

Dib continued to glare at the Irken, a familiar emotion that he wasn't sure he could even actively name anymore bubbling up from the apathy induced haze that had settled over him, before dissipating again unceremoniously.

He sighed and laid back down. "Whatever Zim." He knew he should care more but he just. . .didn't. It wasn't like Zim had even been trying very hard since the whole Florpus debacle. . .almost a year ago? Had it really only been a year? He'd be fourteen in a couple months, so he'd only known Zim for about two years now. Had all that really happened in such a short amount of time?

He was ripped out of his musings by a green hand coming into his vision and swiping his glasses. "Wha-!" he yelped, sitting up and squinting at Zim.

"HAHA! Victory for ZIM!" Zim's smile stretched his face unnaturally even in his blurry vision. "What'cha gon' do about it? Pig-baby."

He glared at the alien, that familiar feeling bubbling up again. "Give them back Zim." he growled.

"Come and get them, stink-beast! I'll even stay in here, since you obviously need the handicap!" Zim retorted, swinging the glasses in his fingers.

Dib smirked, adrenaline curling up his spine. "Don't limit yourself on my account. Not that I won't take advantage of it!" at the last word he lunged for the glasses from his place kneeling on the bed. He knew his perception was a little off, so he aimed for the middle of the Irken's chest to compensate.

Zim stepped to the side quickly, causing Dib to launch himself into his desk; scattering parephanila everywhere. Whatever, he had stopped keeping breakable stuff there years ago.

He stood up, one hand on the desk, breathing heavily, landing stomach first on the edge of the desk hurt more than he expected. He smiled and laughed. "That the best you got Zim!" he taunted.

Zim scoffed. "HA! This is like your Earth game of tag Dib-stink! All that is required of Zim is to keep my prize!"

Dib lunged at him again, using his larger bulk to back Zim into a corner and threw a punch at the alien.

Zim ducked the blow and used his unsteadiness afterwards to punch him on the cheek.

He rolled his head with the blow and used the opportunity to grab Zim's antennae and YANK. (Jeeze, he was getting sloppy, he hadn't even noticed Zim wasn't wearing his stupid disguise.) Zim shrieked and dropped the glasses, which Dib swiped up triumphantly.

Dib backed off a few steps and put his glasses back on, breathing heavily and smiling.

He laughed a little, looking at Zim.

Zim smirked and suddenly they were BOTH laughing, adrenaline fading away into a giddy lightness.

Dib shook his head, ridiculous. He was ridiculous.

Honestly he wasn't sure if he was thinking of himself or Zim with that thought.

Zim smiled at him, and wasn't THAT a change, it had come on so subtly that he wasn't even sure when Zim smiling with him instead of laughing AT him had become a normal occurrence instead of an oddity. It made no sense, but then nothing ever made sense with the alien.

Zim's smile softened, small on his face instead of splitting his cheeks. "Well, Dib-stink? Will you come with Zim now?"

Dib ran a hand through his hair, he knew that the apathy would come back, it always did. But he figured he might as well enjoy his emotions while he could. "Sure, why not. Where are we going?" 50/50 chance between errands or doomsday device, but he'd take those odds.

Zim smirked. "Just come!" he said, marching out his door and down the stairs.

Dib followed him into his own kitchen. He raised an eyebrow. "So, what are we doing here, bug?"

The Irken waved an arm in the direction of the cabinets, "You will proceed with the making of salted fluffy corn! We will need it!"

He furrowed his brow and snorted. "It's called popcorn and you know that." he said, heading to the counter and grabbing the bag of kernals(he knew Zim couldn't eat butter, so fresh popcorn it was.) This wasn't exactly what he'd expected, but he couldn't say he was disappointed.

Zim hummed, apparently satisfied that Dib was doing what he wanted and walked over to the fridge. He opened it and started pulling out popcorn supplies.

Dib vaguely wondered if Zim had been sneaking food into his house, he didn't recognize half the stuff he was unearthing.

Eventually the popcorn was done, and they both covered it with topping to their liking in silence before Zim shooed him over to the couch.

Zim picked up the remote and navigated to one of the alien streaming services that he'd installed on this tv for. . . some reason(maybe for this reason?)

This was weird, wasn't it? This was something friends did. REAL friends.

Wait. WERE they friends?

No. That was ridiculous, he would know if they were friends. Plus, Zim might have been being nicer to him, but that didn't mean anything! And it's not like he was CONSISTENTLY nice to him. It was weird. He wasn't consistently nice to the alien either.

He didn't even know if Irkens HAD friends! They were, like, a militaristic bug society or whatever! It would be extremely irresponsible of him as a paranormal investigator to apply human terms to. . . Whatever had been happening lately.

But yet, here they were, sitting next to each other on his couch, watching a movie and eating popcorn. Zim's popcorn was basically smothered in chocolate and candy, he noted absently.(He had a theory about Irken's sugar consumption, but hadn't had the chance to test it. Mostly because it'd be extremely unethical, and possibly deadly, to test, but whatever.)

Dib shook his head and looked back down at his own bowl of popcorn. WAS this friendship? It's not like he has much to compare it to.

He touched the still healing bruise on his cheek. He KNEW that wasn't normal for friendships but. . .well, it's not like their little scuffles hadn't become the highlight of his day.

He hummed and leaned back on the couch.

Zim started at his sudden movement, looking at him with a squinted eye. "What is it Dib?"

That was another weird thing. Zim calling him by his name, it wasn't ALL the time but it was more often than he used to. That was a friend thing wasn't it? Of course sometimes friends insulted each other jokingly or affectionately or whatever. He wasn't sure how to tell the difference between joke insults and real ones.

"Dib-Stink!" Zim's voice came again as if hearing his thoughts. "Why are you clutching your squishy human face! ZIM demands you answer!"

Dib blinked and took his hand off his cheek. Whoops. "Uh," he stammered, he really didn't want to admit to what he had been thinking. "It still hurts a little, that's all." Actually now that he thought about it it DID hurt more than it had, probably because he had been poking at it.

Zim huffed. "You human smellies are too squishy!" He said, standing up and walking around the couch.

What? Had he pissed him off somehow? Dib turned around on the couch to watch him as he walked into the kitchen and opened the freezer door.

Oh. Dib thought as Zim grabbed an ice pack and wrapped it in a cloth. Huh.

Zim marched triumphantly back over to Dib and handed him the ice pack. "Use this for your stupid big head."

Dib rolled his eyes, but took the ice pack and pressed it to his cheek. "It's not that that big." He griped, smiling slightly.

Zim laughed breathily "Oh but it IS. So, so big." He said, using his pak legs to vault over the couch into a lounging position. "But that is ok, it is very DIB!"

Dib laughed, that was nearly the exact same tone the Irken sometimes said his OWN name in(and, on at least one memorable occasion, Gir's) it was. . .weird. but kinda nice? Like he had been let in on some inside joke that he didn't quite know the origin for.

He shook his head. "We really ARE friends, aren't we?" he whispered. Whoops. He hadn't meant to say that out loud.

Zim squawked and flailed "I-! It! YOOU!" He huffed and crossed his arms, looking away, his face turning a darker green. "Irkens don't have friends!"

Dib deflated. Maybe he was wrong? "Oh. S-"

"But!" Zim said, still not looking at him. "Robots have friends, according to Gir." Uh, ok? If Zim was about to tell him he was a robot this whole time he was gonna flip. "So he has declared himself my friend, despite my original objections. So."

He paused, as if unsure of his next words or. . .something. Dib had never been good at reading people.

Zim looked back over at him, then quickly looked away. "If YOU wanted to be MY friend. Even though Irkens don't have friends! That would be. Acceptable."

Dib blinked. Oh. He smiled. "Yeah. That'd be cool."

"YES!" Zim launched himself into a standing position on the couch, then he seemed to realize what he'd just done, got greener in the face again(was that a blush? He didn't think he'd ever actually seen one.) And sat back down. "I mean! YES! Of course it is 'kewl' it was my plan! THEY ARE ALL COOL!" He shoved a giant fistful of chocolate syrup covered popcorn into his mouth and hunched over his bowl.

Dib laughed again and shook his head. He felt. . .good. He could get used to having a friend.

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