Author's note: I don't own any of these characters. They all belong to Disney, and god forbid I try to make any money off of them for fear of their megalossal corporate power.
Thanks very muchly to my betareader, Weydrchic (And to Yvonne, the pinch-hitter).
This fic contains Jumba/Pleakley slash, for all of you who are interested to know.
"Bye! Bye! G'bye!" Lilo waved through the window at the departing Pleakley family. Beside her, Pleakley waved until their ship just out of sight, and then collapsed onto the couch with a gigantic sigh of relief.
"I am so glad that they're gone!"
Fibber, perched on a shelf nearby, kept his peace.
"They're not so bad," Lilo said. "They do love you, and they didn't actually make you get married – "
"Hmmph," Jumba interrupted from where he sat nearby, rubbing a cold compress on his poor swollen finger, that had been so recently damaged by Pleakley's tiny wedding ring. "I think is good idea. One-eye should be getting married soon. Maybe not to ugly girl chosen by mother, but at least to be marrying someone of same species."
"Why?" asked Lilo, defensive of Pleakley's rights. "Nani said I can get married whenever I want to, to whoever I want to, and…and even if I don't want to that's okay."
"You are being human. Your one-eyed aunt here is being Plorginarian." Jumba cupped his mouth and leaned in to whisper to Lilo conspiratorially, "He has to be worrying about plorg-morphosis." Chuckling, he returned to his ministrations, as Pleakley frowned indignantly.
"What's –"Lilo started.
"Plorg-morphosis is just a stupid myth!" Pleakley said testily.
"There have been scientifically documented cases, that are even still being studied in basic xenobiology classes," Jumba stated smugly.
"Well – it hasn't happened on Ploozork or any of the colonies in at least five centuries," Pleakley countered.
"Welll – that's because most Plorginarians have been having the brains to be married by the time they reach your age, if they are being in your situation – "
"WHAT IS plorg-morphisis?!"
Pleakley looked at Lilo and quickly switched emotional gears. Waving his hand dismissively, he chortled as though she'd asked a very silly question like Do dinosaurs' livers have scales? "Oh that! Hahahaha," he began airily. "That's just an old story that Plorginarian mothers tell their kids so that they can scare them into marrying whoever they want."
Jumba shook his head and chuckled again at Pleakley's expense.
"You see, little girl…well, it is going like this: your big sister, has, I believe, already been telling you about the birds and the little buzz buzz insects, no?"
Lilo wrinkled her nose. "Yeaah. . ."
Pleakley stamped his foot petulantly, unsure of whether to remain angry at Jumba or try to keep up his façade of being blasé about the topic. Retreat was clearly the only option. "I'm not liiiistening!!" he shouted as he fled to his bedroom.
Jumba smiled. "Well, it is sort of being connected. A long time ago, did you know that Plorginarians were being one of the very first races in the Galactic Empire to explore space?"
Stitch, who had just returned from the kitchen with a snack to sit down beside Lilo, shook his head. "Ich."
"Well, they were, and long before the human race was even sitting in caves with big clubs and such, too. The Plorginarians made colonies on other planets, other planets where there were being also other aliens to, ah, be interacting with. And sometimes not so many Plorginarians around. And they…" Jumba gestured with his hand to help the words flow. "Began to be evolving a most curious trait. They could, ah…" Scratching the back of his head, Jumba considered how to explain. "Big sister has told how there needs to be one girl human and one boy human to be making little baby human, yes?"
"And also there needs to be girl chicken and boy chicken to be making eggs, and girl and boy dogs to be making puppies, and so on. . .just like if I want to find wife for to marry I would have to be going back to Kweltikwaan or one of the colonies, well. . ." Jumba chuckled merrily.
"Imagine if there was one little chicken, that if that chicken was to be left all alone on a planet full of doggies, then could be changing, could be adapting, to be able to be marrying any little doggy it wants, and be making little puppies with wings and beaks." Jumba slapped his knee and roared with laughter.
"Cool!" said Lilo. "So you could make chicken-fish mutants, or horrible chicken-bear monsters!?"
"There you are having it! Except in this case it would be little half-Plorginarian hybrids that would be resulting. He –" Jumba sniggered as he gestured towards the bedroom. "He could be marrying a pineapple tree if he was left along with long enough, and be sprouting little pine-Pleakley seeds in no time. Is very adaptive form of reproduction."
Stitch barked with laughter while Jumba checked on his still-swollen finger.
"That is why Mommy Pleakley wants him to getting married in such big hurry, when older siblings can do what they like. They live on Plorginarian colonies. But for our one-eyed friend, time is running away. He has been working for the Galactic Empire for many cycles, away in those big ships full of aliens of all types, and now here surrounded by, geh, humans and animals and experiments and not a Plorginarian in sight. Could be bad for him. Could begin plorg-morphosis soon."ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
Slowly, Jumba opened the door to their bedroom and peeked inside. Pleakley was lying in bed, curled up with his back to the door. A rustle of covers indicated that he was still awake, pulling the blankets tighter around himself with what sounded suspiciously like a sniffle. With a sigh, Jumba edged inside and closed the door softly behind him. Stepping over to the wardrobe, he felt around for his pajamas with one hand while the other fiddled with the ridiculously tiny buttons on his shirt. He hoped he could get to bed without a big fuss, but it was probably unlikely.
Oh, here it is coming. "Yes, Pleakley?" Jumba replied.
"I thought. . .I thought you wanted to help me."
Jumba sighed and turned around, trying his best to sound gentle. "I do want to be helping you. You are knowing this."
"Well, you know how much I don't want to be pushed into anything I don't want to do. I. . ." Pleakley's voice cracked a little at the end – it sounded like he really was hurt. Jumba's fists balled for a second involuntarily, in annoyance both at himself for being so insensitive earlier and at Pleakley for being so touchy. He really had meant what he'd said, and he thought it was time for Pleakley to start thinking about his concerns. But still, he supposed he could have broached the topic more diplomatically than dragging out Plorginarian physiology as a joke for their entire 'ohana. He turned back around and continued to change for bed. "That is not my intentions, my friend. I am only saying that it should be time for you to be pushing yourself into finding something that you do want."
"But I know!" Pleakley half-turned to look at Jumba, defiant hope flickering across his face, only to falter when he saw Jumba's back turned to him, his head shaking already.
"How could you say those things when you know. . .how I feel about you?" Pleakley finished what he had started saying, then turned back around sadly.
Jumba sighed again. "I am saying these things because I am concerned you should be doing what is best for yourself. And you are knowing that what you want right now is not. . .is not for best. Is not good - "
"I don't care about plorg-morphosis!!" Pleakley burst out angrily. "And my mother doesn't care either! Of course we know that it's happened before, and that it might even happen again, but there's such a low chance that it doesn't even matter!" He sat up. Fully pajama clad, Jumba had turned to listen to his friend rant – Pleakley stared him in the eye. "I don't think a petty concern like that even warrants mentioning! It would be. . .this would be worth the risk."
Jumba crossed his arms. It was remarkable how listening to Pleakley's outbursts had the effect of keeping him calm. "My friend, you are underestimating all the risks of having what you want. Drastic changes in physiology can be very dangerous and painful, even to those who are physiologically adapted to –"
"I don't care!"
"Not to be mentioning all of the messiness that can come along with having relationship –"
"I don't care!"
"Also. . ." Jumba began self-assuredly, but checked himself. "Also, there is fact that. . .what you want, I do not want. Not like that," he stated gently. He didn't like to say it – he knew it hurt Pleakley very much, but if he wasn't going to accept any other hint then there was no other way. Jumba approached the bed and sat down beside Pleakley, who was looking down at his feet with an unreadable expression. "I am being very sorry."
"But. . .you love me. I know that you do – this whole thing wouldn't have started if I wasn't sure. . ." said Pleakley, spending the last of his desperation and sinking back into blank despair.
Jumba put one hand on Pleakley's shoulders.
"I do love you, my little one-eyed one. You are best friend I have ever had. . you are 'ohana. But. . ." Jumba shook his head.
Pleakley closed his eye. Shrugging off Jumba's hand, he pulled the covers over himself, turned over, and curled up back into bed.
Jumba stayed for a few quiet moments, then resignedly got up to go to his own bunk.
"I wrote another letter for you." Pleakley said softly, just as Jumba was about to climb the ladder up to his bunk. "It's over on the dresser."
With a sad smile Jumba turned and picked up the envelope on the dresser that he hadn't since noticed at all – marked 'to Jumba' in Pleakley's best script. He opened it, read it, then carefully folded it back up and put it in the drawer where he kept all the rest of Pleakley's love letters.
"It's very nice, Pleakley," sighed Jumba. And it was. Florid in some parts and written with that foolish enthusiasm that Jumba found so endearing, the letter was nonetheless very tender and heartfelt. Jumba had never had anything so beautiful written to him.
Pleakley was crying. His thin shoulders wrapped in blankets shook with sobs. Jumba sat back down on the bed and gently stroked his arm, trying his best to console his friend.
"Why do you love me like this? I would make very bad mate for you. I don't. . .I. . ." Jumba ran one hand over his head. "I tell you what – I give you number for ex-wife – you call her and she will give you list long as your arm why I am rottenest husband in galaxy." Jumba smiled, trying to lighten the mood. "List long as your arm with little wee tiny script, eh?"
Pleakley was inconsolable, but Jumba was determined to stay and keep him company until his pain subsided. When he began to feel the exhaustion of the long day and Pleakley was still crying, Jumba nudged him over and settled into sleep beside him, still ignorant of the customs on Earth and in many parts of the galaxy that deemed sleeping with someone as meaningful of more. On Kweltikwaan it was only a means of conserving heat energy, but here. . .well, here Pleakley was only grateful for the momentary excuse to pretend.
Pleakley curled up into the warm security of Jumba's arms and fell asleep to the sound of his breathing.