Part 3 of my "What is Normal Anyway" series

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Dib groaned as he walked home from school. Whelp. There was no denying it. He was bored. He didn't really want to go home yet(re: Boredom) But what else could he do. Hmm. . .

Zim hadn't been at school today.

The thought stopped him in his tracks. That wasn't exactly unusual for the alien, but it certainly explained why the day had dragged on so much. He was probably up to something.

Dib grinned predatorily. He supposed he could go pay his friend a visit. He immediately sped up, spurred on by his thoughts.

When he arrived the door was opened by Gir, who tackled him in a hug, and was still calling him 'Mary' for some obtuse reason. (honestly, it'd be kind of insulting if he didn't know that the robot thought Mary was a guy's name)

Dib chuckled and rubbed the robot's head, he didn't really understand him, but he'd liked the robot long before Zim and him had become friends, so it was always nice to see him. "Hey Gir, where's your master?"

Gir backed off him and gave him a worried expression. "Oooh, are you here to plaaaay? I don' know if he feeeels like it." He paused for a moment, rocking on his heels, then screamed, "HE'S DOWNSTAIRS! OKAY BYE!" and ran off to another part of the house to do. . .something.

Dib frowned. Well that was. Weirder than usual. What did he mean by may not feel like it? Was Zim sick? He looked at the trash-elevator to the inner parts of the base, debating whether checking on his friend was worth the chance of getting some incurable alien disease.

In the end his concern won out. He was probably already infected if it was contagious anyway.

"Zim?" He called out, squinting into the dim base. He didn't really mind the dim lighting(preferred it even.) But it did take awhile to adjust to.

He gasped as he spotted the alien curled up on the floor in front of his giant computers. "ZIM!" he yelled, running over and kneeling beside him. "Are you ok?!" he shook his shoulder. "Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh!" What happened!? Was he dead?! Just passed out!?

Zim hissed at his touch and waved his arm weakly. "Knock it off, pig smelly."

Dib breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness. He smiled slightly, "You scared the heck out of me, you know that?" This wasn't good. "What's wrong with you?"

Zim huffed and gestured to the big screen, antenna flat on his head.

He looked up at the screen, he hadn't really been paying attention to it before. It was mostly black with big red letters proclaiming "CONNECTION LOST." He frowned, what could-Oh. Of course.

He felt his nose wrinkle in a sneer. THEM again. "The Tallest." he said icily. They had done something, or, more likely, NOT done something, and Zim was upset about it. Again. He rubbed his friend's shoulder, feeling protective of the little alien. "Hey, forget about them. They're not important."

"Of course they're important!" Zim hissed. "They are my Tallest!"

Dib winced. That might not have been the best way to phrase that. "I just mean-" he sighed, not sure where he was going with that sentence.

It was probably a good thing, because Zim spoke up again. "They called Zim defective."

Dib's breath caught. He knew enough about Irken's to know that an official designation like that was a death sentence. "Officially or. . ." he prompted.

Zim sighed. "NO. Just. They THINK I am. It doesn't matter, if the Tallest think so then. . ." he trailed off, voice lowering.

Dib growled under his breath, all at once relieved and enraged. "Yeah, well, you're more than what THEY think of you!"

"Silence!" Zim hissed dangerously, turning slightly out of his ball to face him.

Dib glared, not ready to give up and let his friend sit here and wallow in his misery. "They've never listened to you!"

"NO!" The alien screeched, swiping at him.

Dib backed away from the swipe and stood up. What he was doing was cataclysmically stupid, but he wasn't really thinking beyond the need to get the Invader off the floor. "And they're STUPID!" he yelled.


"They're stupid Zim!" He threw his arms in the air "They only fly in a straight line! Not even animals are that stupid!"

Zim hissed at him and stood up. "Silence Dib-stink!" He slammed a button on the console next to him, causing a mechanical whirring to come from the ceiling.

Oh crap. Mission accomplished, he got Zim up. He turned and tried to run, but it was too late.

He yelped as the weird wire things that made up Zim's base grabbed him and lifted him off the floor, immobilizing him, but leaving his arms free.

He struggled against the arms (he REFUSED to call them tentacles) holding him, desperately trying to get his fingers in between himself and them to loosen them. This could end badly! But really, that had never stopped him before.

He huffed and glared at Zim, who was shaking with what was most likely rage, his lips curled in a snarl.

"You're better than them Zim!" He yelled. He knew that if he pissed the alien off enough he might be able to get free. Plus, he still had things to say! "You're smarter and stronger and just BETTER than them!" He felt his own face contorting, dammit why didn't he get it "and the only reason you think differently is because you've been BRAINWASHED!" he swallowed, breathing heavily. Everything he had ever thought about the alien and his mental state coming to the forefront of his mind in a desperate gamble to find SOMETHING the alien would(could?) listen to.

He suddenly remembered something Zim had said to him when this whole friendship thing started.

He took a deep breath, desperately hoping that this would reach past that block his friend had in his brain "If you weren't the best Irken, why would you be my nemesis huh?"

Zim froze and stared at him, as if he'd been struck, mouth hanging open loosely.

Dib continued hurriedly, trying to get his thoughts together before Zim snapped out of it. "Why wouldn't one of the other Irkens I've met be my nemesis?" He said. "Why not Tak? Or Skoodge? Heck why not the Tallest THEMSELVES!" He gripped the wires still holding him tightly, cold metal digging into his fingers. He kicked his legs slightly, not really trying to get free, anymore, just needing to move them. "If one of them showed up to fight me I'd HATE it! Unless you were fighting them WITH me!" He reached a hand down to the alien, not quite able to reach his antenna.

"I-" he struggled for words, trying to parse his own feelings "The Earth is OURS Zim!" He wasn't even sure what he was saying anymore, but it felt right. "And not in the we took it over way! In the-like-" he waved his arms erratically, struggling to find a way to explain feelings he only kind of understood.

"It's OURS! It's OURS to fight on, and live on, and-and-" he gripped his hair and tugged lightly."And be FRIENDS on!" He rubbed his forehead, trying to calm his racing thoughts. "I. . .I was going somewhere with-Oh! Right, the point is! You're the best Irken! You're my nemesis! You're my friend! You're better than them!" He said, glaring down at Zim defiantly.

Zim stared at him, antenna flat on his head, eyes wide and mouth still slightly open. If Dib didn't know any better, he would have said the alien was in pain.

Zim's antenna slowly raised, and his mouth closed. "Do you. . .really mean that?" Zim's voice was uncharacteristically small, matching the unsure cadence of the question.

Dib smiled slightly at him, not used to this kind of Zim, but knowing that at least some of what he'd said had to have gotten through to him. "Yeah. I do, trust me. We're friends, aren't we?"

Zim perked up, antenna and head high. "Zim is your nemesis." He said, smirking. He seemed to have ignored everything else he'd said, but whatever, he counted it as a win.

Dib smiled full on this time. "Yeah!" He looked down at his hands and ran the back of a fingernail over the wires holding him. "I mean. I don't really know what that means for Irkens, but I'm not exactly using how humans use it either so." He looked back up. "It just. Kinda is?"

Zim smirked at him and put his hands on his hips. "Excellent." He said, pressing the button to let him down.

Dib wobbled on his feet a little, not used to being on the ground anymore, and smiled at Zim again.

Zim clapped his hands once. "Well, that's enough of that." He said, turning around and walking toward the elevator. "Come Dib-Stink! We will procure some filthy Earth pizza and then I will enact my latest plan!"

Dib laughed at the sudden tone change. Jeez. This guy would never change.

He pushed down the tiny voice in his head that said it was literally impossible for him to change, that his body and mind were stuck in some sort of messed up limbo-No! He didn't want to think about it. So he wouldn't. He was going to eat pizza and stop Zim and NOT think about how different his friend would be without a literal mind control device strapped to his back.

It was good pizza.

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Hope you enjoyed! The next one might take a little while, but we'll see ;)

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