Dawn had just broke a few hours earlier. A buggy drove down the street at the edge of Kokaua. Jumba drove the buggy with only his left hand, and held a twenty-four ounce coffee in his right, with only twelve ounces left. The spaghettified pleakly was curled up into a spiral in the passenger seat. In the back seat, Lilo and Finder leaned against each other fast asleep and snoring, Lilo with a paw shaped bruise on her check, and Finder with a black eye.
The buggy turned up a dirt path and parked next to a jeep in front of a stilted house. Lilo and Finder opened heir eyes at the sudden haulting of the engine. They looked at each other in confusion, and then looked toward Jumba in he front seat once they remembered where they were.
Jumba reached over Pleakly to open the passenger side door. He carefully unbuckled Pleakly from his seat, and then shoved him out of the car onto the ground.
Pleakly hit the ground and woke up screaming in fright. "Ahhh! I've been dropped into the bottomless bleeding walled dungeons of Ty-Fira!"
"Actually," Jumba interrupted, "You have been dropped into dirt ground of sub-home parking edifice."
Jumba giggled at his own remark, ignoring the glare of contempt Pleakly gave him, but then turned around to look at Lilo and Finder, and noticed their looks of tedium and fatigue. Jumba thought of what the two of them had just been through, and it was easy to put two and two together.
Jumba stared at them a little bit longer before giving in to their expressions and saying, "Errr… Is not being very funny."
Lilo looked out at the jeep next to the buggy, and at the peeling wall next to the jeep, and then turned back toward Jumba.
"We can't stop now." Lilo told Jumba. "We have to go back and find him again! We've gotta get through to him somehow."
Finder turned toward Lilo, who turned toward him, and shook his head at her.
Pleakly got back up to his feet and spoke to Lilo. "If the little monster doesn't want us anymore than I say leave him be. There's no sense in trying to force something like that to do anything anyway."
Finder turned toward Pleakly and nodded at him, and was met with a scolding grimace when he turned back toward Lilo. Finder drooped his ears.
"But he does want us!" Lilo lundged forward and grabbed Pleakly by the collar. Finder shoved himself into the corner of the buggy in reaction.
Lilo continued while crying, "He's just scared that's all!"
Pleakly scrambled his arms about trying to pry Lilo loose of his collar, and when he finally succeeded, he responded, "And what exactly does he of all things have to be afraid of?"
"I don't know…" Lilo said, sitting back down and burying her face in her arms. "But he's afraid of something."
Jumba butted in. "Is best now to be going inside and getting sleep. We can be continuing debate later in day with fresh minds. Not even evil genius can be solving such mystery while sleep deprived."
"But!" Lilo pleaded.
Jumba wouldn't have it. "There will be no butting the issue. There is no more we can be doing at moment."
Lilo lowered her head, closed her eyes and hugged her knees. Finder waddled over to her and put his arm around her shoulder.
Before too long, Lilo found herself lifted up into the massive rubbery arms of Jumba and carried off toward the house. She didn't react until heard Jumba utter the words, "What the…"
Lilo looked up. The whole left third of her house was in pieces all with burnt tips. All the major kitchen appliances, the sink, the stove, were all on the ground and half melted. The roof had collapsed in on the middle of the house, and the impact had dislodged half the floorboards. Only the right side of the house, where all the bedrooms were located was intact.
Lilo immediately jumped out of Jumba's arms and ran into the wreckage of her house screaming, "Nani!"
Jumba, Pleakly, and Finder hurriedly followed.
Nani sat cross-legged in the middle of the rubble sobbing into her arms. Her clothes were almost shredded, and she was covered in scrapes and caked with dried mud.
Lilo ran to Nani and jumped into her lap.
Nani looked up to see Lilo, and Juma, Pleakly, and Finder all staring at her in shock and disbelief.
"What happened?" Lilo asked.
It took Nani some time to answer. "It was Stitch. He did this."
"626 must be reverting back to original destructive programming." Jumba interrupted.
Lilo turned back toward Jumba and shouted at him. "No he's not! I already told you, he's scared! That's why he's doing these things!"
Nani looked back down at Lilo, and with her head turned, saw the paw shapd bruise on her cheek.
Nani grabbed hold of Lilo and pressed her against her chest.
"Lilo! Honey! What did he do to you?" She said.
Lilo struggled to pull away from Nani. When Nani let go, she retorted, "I saw him with Gantu, I ran after him but he slapped me. But it's nothing, we gotta go try and help him again!"
"Again!" Nani shouted as she grabbed Lilo's shoulders. "What do you mean again?"
Lilo again tried to break free of Nani's grasp as she said, "We got Finder to find him, but he said he didn't want us anymore and then he hit Finder and ran away!"
"No Lilo!" Nani shouted back as she tried to restrain her sister against her struggling. "Let him go! He's too dangerous now!"
"But he might try to hurt himself!" Lilo shouted back.
"At least then he won't hurt us anymore!"
Lilo went limp at Nani's words, and turned toward her.
Nani's face was filled with a great sadness and fatigue. But what there was a distinct lack of fear. Nani tried to hide these feelings, but Lilo saw right through her.
"You know he's just scared too, don't you?" Lilo said to Nani. "What did he tell you? Spit it out!"
Nani lowered her head. There was no use trying to hide it anymore.
Nani didn't lift her head as she spoke. "He said, he wanted me to be mean to him, that he wanted me to make him hate me. When I told him no, he did this to the kitchen."
Lilo, Pleakly, and Jumba turned to look at the empty space where the kitchen used to be.
Nani continued, "He's afraid of being loved. Don't ask me why 'cause I don't know."
Lilo looked up at the sky. "But what would make anyone be afraid of being loved?"
Pleakly walked up to Lilo and put his hand on her head. Lilo looked up at Pleakly in response.
"The only thing I can think of…" Pleakly said, "is that he's afraid of losing his love."
Lilo's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. It was as if she was just struck by lightning.
"That's it!" Lilo tried to shout, but all that came out was a whisper. "He doesn't want to be near us because he's afraid of losing us!"
"What?" Pleakly, Jumba, and Nani all said in unison, and Finder cocked his head as if wanting to say the same.
Lilo pushed herself off of Nani's lap and turned around to face Jumba and Pleakly. "Highlander. It all started with Highlander."
Jumba, Pleakly and Nani just looked at Lilo confused.
Lilo continued. "After watching that movie, I told Stitch what dad used to say about dying. He said that the only thing worse than dying was living forever, because you'll outlive everyone you know, an you'll miss them for all eternity."
Jumba's face went blank, mimicking the face Lilo made just moments earlier when she finally realized what was going on.
Jumba interrupted Lilo's speech. "Now it is making sense. Just day after little girl and 626 watched inappropriate movie, 626 came to me and asked what I designed for to be his lifespan!"
"What was it?" Lilo asked.
"I was not remembering. I wrote those lifespan genes twenty seven Earth years ago and since had only copy and pasted them onto later experiments."
"Well what did you tell him?" Lilo asked again.
"I told 626 that I would most likely be making experiments living as long as possible. And that as long as possible would be… … just… over… one hundred thousand Earth years."
Nani looked up at Jumba confused. "Stitch is gonna live a hundred thousand years?"
"I am not knowing!" Jumba shouted with his hands in the air. "It was wild guess! I was trying to be getting 626 to be leaving me alone!"
Lilo lowered her head and slowly shook it. "How could anyone cope with living a hundred thousand years?" She whispered to herself. Then with eyes wide and her teeth clenched, Lilo swung her head back up to Jumba and Pleakly and said, "Oh my god! Stitch is gonna kill himself!"
"How could a monster like that possibly kill himself?" Pleakly asked no one in particular.
Though Jumba responded, "Either by swallowing and remote detonating high yield explosive, or a far easier way would be being to..."
"He's gonna drown himself!" Lilo shouted, interrupting Jumba.
"Jumba!" Lilo continued. "Grab your computer and figure out how long Stitch is gonna live! I gotta know before we find him!"
In a snap, they were off, all toward the jeep beneath the ruined house, except Jumba, who was off to his room in search of his computer.
Soon Lilo, Jumba, Pleakly and finder were all in the jeep, with Nani on the ground outside holding onto the driver's side door.
"Don't do this!" Nani cried out to the carpool. "It's better this way! It's better for us, and it's better for Stitch!"
But they would respond to none of her pleas.
"At least take me with you!" was the last thing Nani got out before the jeep's ignition was started.
On a tall, rocky ledge overlooking the churning ocean at the end of Kauai, the wind howled and rustled the fur of Stitch standing just at the cliff's edge.
Stitch gazed as if mesmerized at a photograph taken just a year earlier. The photo showed his family at Christmas. He and Lilo sat next to each other beneath a fake plastic tree, each of them with a present in hand. Nani and Pleakly stood side by side in the doorway to the kitchen, and Jumba had just walked in the front door dressed as Santa Claus. Everyone in the photograph had the most delightful smile on their face.
Stitch slid his hand down the surface of the photograph, finally resting it on Lilo's image.
Stitch began to talk, pausing between words and being careful to pronounce everything correctly as he always did when he spoke in pure English.
"Goodbye Ohana." He said. "It has been good… yeah. It was very, very good. But it cannot be anymore."
Stitch let the photograph go and watched it drift into the horizon as far as his heightened vision could track.
Then with a great sigh, Stitch closed his eyes and whispered, "The only thing worse than dying, is living forever."
Stitch then threw up his hands, and leapt into the air off the cliff.
As the wind pressed against his face, all the burdens Stitch had ever felt suddenly melted away, and he found himself lost in a world perfect bliss. He was finally free. He was finally free from the grief of a hundred thousand years of being alone. He was finally free from the cruel responsibility of murdering his feelings, and never letting anyone or anything threaten to resurrect them. He was finally free to die.
But just as Stitch had began to plummet toward his watery release, something had grabbed him by the ears and yanked him back to the hard rocky ledge he had just been standing on.
Stitch heaved himself off of his back and turned around. It was Lilo, she had stopped him from committing suicide.
Behind Lilo was her backpack, Jumba, Pleakly, Nani, and Finder, who was hiding behind Nani's leg.
Stitch's eyes began to water uncontrollably. He Shoved Lilo to the ground. Nani tried to run to Lilo's side, but Jumba restrained her and covered her mouth.
"Miga naga wanna live hundred thousand years!" Stitch bawled out at Lilo. "Miga wanna die! Miga nagga wanna get left behind!"
"But you're not going to be left behind!" Lilo told him. "Jumba remembered how long you're gonna live. It's not a hundred thousand years!"
Lilo got back up. Stitch stared at her with a blank face for what seemed to be hours. Stitch began shivering, his teeth chattering, and his fists clenched in anger.
"Naga!" He screamed at Lilo, making her fall over again. "Is trick! Lilo lies!"
"It's not a trick! I'll show you!"
Lilo turned around and took Jumba's laptop out of her backpack. She opened it, pressed one button, and tuned back around to show Stitch what was on the monitor.
Jumba stood in an unfamiliar lab wearing unfamiliar clothes, with unfamiliar black hair streaming down his neck and shoulders.
The image began to move.
"Video diary of Dr. Jumba Jookiba. I have just completed construction on genetic experiment zero zero eight. I am now confident enough in my skills to be creating experiments with actual purposes now. Soon, I will create and control the ultimate weapon! HA!HA!HAA!
But… one can never forget the unfortunate side of supposed ultimate weapons. You can never keep other people from getting their greedy little appendages on them. This is why my new weapons must be unique, and only to be controlled by me. The only way of ensuring this, is for to be creating experiments that can never outlive myself."
Lilo closed Jumba's laptop and walked toward Stitch. She stopped when Stitch began inching his way back toward the cliff edge.
Jumba, still restraining a now relaxed Nani, spoke up. "Factoring in average lifespan of Kwelta-Kwanians, as well as my own age when I first designed experiment zero zero nine, later experiment lifespans would logically be ninety-five to one hundred and five Earth years."
Stitch continued to stare at the group without any kind of expression.
"I conformed this by reanalyzing later experiment lifespan gene sequences." Jumba continued. "You 626, will only be living ninety-five to one hundred and five Earth years."
Lilo bent down and began to crawl up to Stitch. This time, Stitch didn't move.
"That's only a little bit longer than most people live." Lilo reassured him. "And I bet it won't be too long before most people will live that long to."
"If was not true." Jumba said. "I would be telling you to go ahead and jump. You are knowing me better than I am knowing myself 626. You are knowing I am telling truth. Is being quite ironic yes? That something good has been coming from my period of evil wickedness."
Just like last time, Stitch began shivering, his teeth chattering. Unlike last time, his arms and legs became weak and felt like they were going to collapse beneath him, and his eyes began to pour down tears. Stitch threw himself at Lilo, knocking her over a third time, wrapping his arms around her as he bawled away into her chest.
Jumba released his grip on Nani, and they, Pleakly, and Finder slowly walked up to Lilo and Stitch and surrounded them.
"Miga soka!" Was all Stitch could say through his crying. Over and over again.
That night, Stitch lay in his bed, still afraid, afraid of being alone. Despite what he had learned that day he was still so afraid. He lay in that bed for hours staring into space with a look of despair on his face, and his ears drooped down. Stitch was limp; he was empty.
Though he was told he would never be left behind, Stitch was still full of doubt and confusion, and empty of anything else.
Stitch simply lay in his bed, not paying attention to anything. Not to Lilo sleeping at the opposite end of the room, not to the various smells that always permeated the dome, not to the sounds of Nani mumbling in her sleep in her room downstairs, not to the darkness of the night, not to the wind howling outside, not to the soft humming of alien power tools as Jumba stayed up late rebuilding the kitchen that Stitch had destroyed the day before in a desperate attempt to get his own Ohana to loath him. Stitch simply lay limp in his bed, staring into space, full of doubt and confusion, and empty of anything else.
Stitch couldn't hold out forever, his exhaustion from running away, from so many intense emotions in such a short time, from the relief of finding out the truth, and now from his lingering doubts, finally got to him, and he closed his eyes and drifted into sleep.
Stitch had one last dream that night.
He was laying on his back on Lilo's lap. Lilo was rubbing his belly bringing out a purr from deep in his chest. All seemed right with the world, until he opened his eyes to look at her.
Lilo was no longer a child, she was as tall as Nani, but far, far older. Her hair had turned gray, and her face was a fine tapestry of wrinkles. Lilo's squinting eyes could barely be seen through her thick glasses. Stitch suddenly had a feeling of horror like a bone-dry ball of lead in his throat.
Stitch heaved himself off of Lilo, plopped to the floor, and looked at her once again. She was indeed as tall as Nani. She was sitting in a creaky old whicker rocking chair looking back at him
Stitch looked around, this was his home, but it too had withered with age. The paint was now peeling off the walls. The bamboo floors were almost unrecognizable with the amount of scratching and tarnishing they had received. The whole house seemed to creak and groan when Stitch took a few steps.
Stitch tried to look away from Lilo, but his eyes fixed on an equally horrible sight. Nani was sitting upright on the couch, asleep. She had a blanket covering her to her neck. But her face told all. Nani's face was even more withered than Lilo's. Instead of a fine tapestry, Nani's wrinkles looked like a tattered cobweb. Nani's hair, instead of gray, was ghostly white, and dangerously thinning. Her cheeks drooped down like hanging sacks. Nani now spent most of her time sleeping.
Stitch tried to look away from Nani, only to find Pleakly and Jumba right next to her on the couch watching some unknowable TV show.
Pleakly's skin had turned bright orange. His eye had shrunk down to only half its original size. His once long and dangly antenna had now shrunk into a hardened nub, and his fingers had become stiff, turned black, and hardened on the outside, as if they had grown a thick black shell.
Jumba looked no better. His once deep purple skin had turned a dark, dull olive. His second pair of eyes had closed permanently, sealed shut as the muscles that controlled them stopped functioning. Though still obese by any human standards, he was so much thinner than he once was. His skin no longer clung elastically to his body, but hung off of it like an oversized garment.
Stitch could only close his eyes to keep from seeing the horrible images, but they were forced open again by a voice calling out to him.
Stitch turned around and saw Lilo looking at him peculiarly. Her voice sounded like Nani's, only the slightest bit raspy, but still full of love.
Stitch tried to look away from Lilo's caring and worried expression, so painful, but he couldn't. He could only stare as Lilo talked more in that raspy voice.
What's wrong? Stitches whole world was growing old around him. Everything was becoming warped and decrepit, and he was being left behind.
… … … Or was he?
"Meega gotta' look in mirror." Was all Stitch could say, and with that he turned away and walked up to the bathroom.
Stitch slowly turned the tarnished brass knob to the bathroom and opened the door. He walked inside and put his hands to the walls.
One slow step after another, Stitch climbed the bathroom wall toward the sink counter, toward the bathroom mirror, praying to whatever the hell kind of god these humans believed in that what he would see wouldn't be himself.
As Stitch finally sat down on the counter, his eyes shut tight, he took one huge breath, and mustered enough courage to look at his reflection.
What he saw was indeed Stitch, but was not the painful, lonely image that he had anticipated. Instead, the image of himself finally brought him the peace and comfort he so desperately sought.
The once baby blue rings around his eyes had now turned gray, as had the stripes on his back. The fur was gray halfway down his now frayed ears, as was the fur on his fingertips. His once navy muzzle had now changed to a drab tan. But the most striking thing about the image were his eyes. Once they had been solid black, glistening like diamonds, now they had fogged over into dull blue patches.
Stitch's whole world had indeed grown old around him. But there was no need to be frightened or lonely, because he had grown old with it.
A sudden crashing sound from the kitchen downstairs jolted Stitch awake. Jumba's repairs seemed to not have been going so smoothly. Stitch looked over at Lilo who was still asleep.
Lilo was just a child again. Stitch was a vibrant juvenile experiment again. Everyone and everything was back to their original selves. And he and Lilo could now look forward to growing old... together.
Stitch whispered to himself, "Ohana means family. Family means, nobody gets left behind."
Stitch knew for sure now that he would never be left behind.
Stitch finally felt safe enough to extend his hidden arms, climb up the wall, across the ceiling, over to Lilo's bed, and lay down, pressing his body against hers.
Still asleep, Lilo flung her arm over Stitch's waist and sighed.
At last, Stitch closed his eyes and whispered once more, "Nobody gets left behind."
And he never was.
To my Reviewers
To A. Nonymous:
I actually didn't use your suggestion in my story. I had this entire
fic planned out in my head before I even began writing. That's what I
do with all of my stories. Writing to me is little more than filling in
all the missing details.
In fact, Stitch wasn't really trying to hurt himself with that wakizashi. He knew it wouldn't do anything to him. He was just trying to put his feelings into actions.
To Ri2: You seemed the most concerned about what was going to happen to Stitch in the end. I assured you there was going to be a happy ending and there was.
To Isumo1489: Same thing.
To Michelle/Spiritofdawolf: Thank you for your greatful review. I live off reviews and without them I would probably starve to death. I think what you said can keep me going another week or so.
To anonames: Here's the happy ending you wanted. Now go take a goddamn grammar lesson!
To all my readers and reviewers: This is the first of what I hope will be many Lilo and Stitch fanfics. Keep on the lookout for my next one, which will be titled "Empire of the Pacific." It won't be quite as much of a tearjerker as this one. But it will be much larger, much more epic, and will have a liberal injection of great action sequences and fight scenes.