For the rest of the day, I kept mostly to myself.
A lot had happened in the space of a few hours, and it was still a lot for me to process. Lilo had thankfully stopped talking to 621. The guy was a sick freak and I couldn't ever see her getting through to him how she did me, but then again... I changed because of her.
But that could be entirely to do with the fact I had a human heart. I had to consider that.
That's what had allowed me to change.
The guests eventually started to depart by seven o'clock. Among those leaving first was Mr Kuakini and Alanna. They bid Nani and David congratulations and I saw Mr Kuakini hand his wife their car keys before making eye contact with me. He walked over to me and bent down beside the chair I was sitting on.
"I have a favour to ask."
"I... would like to spend a day with you. Even if it's just one, for now."
I was bewildered. He addressed my astonishment.
"There was a lot of places Mitch wanted to see when he was alive, but due to the disease he couldn't. Being confined to a wheelchair made it hard to go where he wanted to, since some of those places didn't have wheelchair access. But now that I know you are back, I would like to make that happen. For some of them, at least. Start to. Have him experience the things again he couldn't when he was human."
I stared at him before looking towards the ground in deep thought.
I knew that there was a lot of things my former self had wanted to do and had been limited. I felt that inside, and the journal had confirmed it. However now that I was Stitch, I still had to consider that there were things I had to worry about myself. Like the cell for starters. Demon 626 inside of me. It was just a matter of time now how dormant that beast would remain.
I stared at Mr Kuakini after that. I knew that connection was there now. The man was no longer my father, but he had been in the past. The Mitch part of me was in turmoil inside; A bubbling, overflowing nagging feeling at the back of my mind – like a silent scream. I knew the feeling wasn't going to go away. He wanted to be with his father and I was a vessel for that.
Whenever I'd been around Mr Kuakini in the past, working at his shop I'd always felt a weird sense of comfort I couldn't explain. The shop had felt very homely to me, and despite we'd had a rocky streak before with me not showing up for work on time and those obnoxious tourists insulting me, he'd looked out for me. When he'd picked me up in the past I hadn't felt frightened, or threatened in anyway. I didn't know how to describe it. It just felt right.
Of course there had been that time when I'd been furious at him for hurting Lilo, but he'd quickly realised how wrong he'd been at that time.
"Okay," I said softly. "I'll do it."
He looked delighted. He took my paws into his hands.
"How about tomorrow? Some renovations are being done in the shop so I have some time off."
I hesitated. What if I changed? I felt alright at the moment but it was only temporary. Mr Kuakini looked different. It was like years worth of stress had been lifted from him, and it was the brightest I'd ever seen him look.
I knew I couldn't deny him another chance with his son.
"Ih. Tomorrow okay."
He gave me a huge smile. "Come around in the morning."
He looked a little hesitant but then he hugged me. He stared into my eyes, putting his hands onto my shoulders.
"It's good to have you back."
Standing up, he gave me one last smile before leaving.
Jumba picked me up as the last of the guests departed. He looked very blank.
My father didn't say anything, he just held me tightly over his shoulder and I snuggled against him. Nani and David walked over to us with Pleakley, and Nani was holding Lilo's hand.
"Well, ready to go home?"
Jumba grunted, but Lilo's yawn spoke for itself.
Some of the staff helped Nani and David gather up their gifts and the leftover cake. Jumba carried me out to the car and he got inside before the others did.
"626. Time is approaching to tell truth to family. From body language, I don't think will be happening tonight as has been big day, but tomorrow, we will have to."
"No matter what happens to us, I will be there for you every step of the way. Have been thinking a lot during wedding, and while I cannot be stopping cell, I may be able to prolong activation for at least another one or two days."
"Manipulating frequency. It will take a bit of testing, but I could alter wavelength enough to block reactors of cell."
"Then go for it," I told him. "Do your best, papa."
He looked at me sadly. The others were still chatting away outside the car.
"What is it?"
I sighed. "Mr Kuakini learn about me today. What I said before. Turns out was right, pa. I was human. In past. Knew things only he know about."
Jumba just stared at me for the longest time. "Well, would explain lot of things, like freckles and your defiance of my programming. It is in your biology to destroy and obey my orders, but you rebelled. And was not just because you have my DNA. Can tell right from wrong, not just mindless machine. There was always something different about you, 626, even with you being my son."
"How do you feel about it?"
He gave me a smile. "How do you feel?"
"...Naga nota... Stitch guess, make him feel... happy?"
"Because makes you relate to little girl on level even I could not understand, correct?"
"You often told me you wanted badly to feel as though you belonged, yes?"
"Well, perhaps this is first step for such a thing."
"But... how do you feel?" I repeated. "Knowing in past, he was my biological father."
"Cannot change the past, 626," he responded. "I am your biological father now. He is having to accept that."
"He does," I responded. "But he misses son."
"I can imagine."
"Wants to spend day with me. Tomorrow."
"I see. Well... do what you think is best, 626. Not sure how long I can hold off cell for, of if is even possible, but have to try."
I nodded. My father scruffed my head gently as the others climbed into the car and we started to head home.
Lilo snuggled against me that night. Everybody had decided to go to bed early considering it was a big day. It was unusual even for me to hear the house so quiet down below at this time.
"Yes Stitch?" My angel turned to face me, gripping my paw.
"Atama Lilo achi-baba 621?"
She looked away from me at that question. "I don't know. He still creeps me out. But somehow I think he won't do anything to hurt me."
I thought about the chip at that. I wondered how she was going to react tomorrow when Jumba and I revealed the truth. That included him being the cause of my cell initiating and Metamorphosis programming reactivating. I hated him. I would gladly end his life if I could, but I wondered how she would react. If she would be just as angry.
Chopsuey had no regard to life. He wasn't like me – he was just a pure monster.
I knew Lilo would never stop trying to get through to him, as she had done so with me. That was just in her nature. I hoped to God it wouldn't backfire on her.
"I know you're not happy about me talking to him. Are you?"
"Of course not," I responded. "But cannot stop you, Lilo."
"I'll be careful. I know what I'm getting myself into."
I looked at her. "I don't trust him. Never will."
"I understand. I hope he doesn't betray me."
I sighed at that. I had a feeling he would, eventually, and poor Lilo would learn the hard way. I didn't want that to happen to her, but for now, I couldn't worry about Chopsuey – I had to worry about myself and what was going to happen to me.
I snuggled Lilo tightly and kissed her gently as she fell asleep. She was exhausted and she could barely keep her eyes open looking at me.
"Lilo, I'm not gonna be here tomorrow. Spending day with Kuakini."
That made her wake up slightly. "Huh? Why?"
"Asked Stitch to."
"Oh. Well, okay. Sounds nice of him. Is it a reward for working so hard?"
I smiled slightly. "Think so."
"I hope you have fun..." she muttered before she drifted off again.
I stroked her hair out of her face as I gazed at her beneath me. I wondered how she would take learning that I was formerly human in the past. I had already felt closer to her due to it, and she had accepted it when I told her about Mitch, but this would also help her accept me even more. I was different now, but perhaps now that I knew for sure I was Mitch in the past, I could unlock more memories and experiences of what being a human was like and learn from them.
Before I drifted off beside Lilo, Jumba called me to his bedroom. I followed him quietly.
"Have been working on finding way to alter frequency since got back, but think I have it," he held up a small metallic contraption. "Was nearly about to give up, but found one access path. Is only hope. I need to insert into hard drive port, so you'll need to open up your mouth again."
I sighed, but did as he asked. He inserted the contraption as gently as he could, knowing how uncomfortable this made me.
"Don't worry this time, 626. Components are legitimate, not sourced from unknown supplier," he told me, helping me shut my mouth again once the procedure was done. "Now, I will monitor. I also want you to wear this."
He pulled out a wrist band, slipping it over my right wrist. "Will monitor status of cell and report back to me brainwaves, so I can keep eye on you without having to send B.U.G."
He stared at me for a moment before hugging me tightly. I closed my eyes.
"Love you, son."
The last time I recalled Jumba actually kissing me was when I was a baby. He leaned down and kissed me on the head. I looked up at him in disbelief, before hugging him again tightly.
He smiled at me, before I turned and headed back up to the dome, yawning.
Don't forget about me! I'll be nice and let you have a bit more time, but as I said, you don't have long so make the most of it!
I grit my teeth, climbing back into bed beside Lilo and wrapping myself around her.
The next morning, I stood in front of the mirror staring at myself. I'd put back on my bounty suit. Lilo was still asleep. Not wanting to wake her, I left her a note and tucked it beside her on the pillow before kissing her on the cheek and heading downstairs. It was approaching nine by that point.
"Stitch?" Nani addressed me. It felt nice to finally not be ignored by her.
"Ahua shalom bye."
She eyed my outfit. "Are you going somewhere?"
"Ih. Spending day with Mr Kuakini."
She looked surprised. "I see. Uh... have fun I guess. Did you... want any breakfast?"
I could tell she was a little apprehensive then about talking to me, considering it had been so bad between us for quite sometime. I just shook my head at her, before leaving.
As I walked away from my home and up the street, I couldn't help but feel a bit nervous. I knew now that those feelings of nervousness and anxiety I'd been getting where not my own, but Mitch's. I couldn't actually get nervous or be anxious with my biology, but because I had the soul of that human it enabled me to experience those feelings. I could see why Jumba wouldn't have programmed me with them; they were a hindrance and would have prevented me from carrying out my tasks efficiently.
I did wonder what Mr Kuakini thought of me now, knowing who I really was. It was going to be awkward for me, as for him. But I knew this would make him happy. Quietly I approached his front porch, reaching up to knock on the door. It was opened almost instantly by Kalia, who looked shocked at seeing me.
"Stitch! Oh my gosh, it's you!" she grinned, bending down beside me. "What're you doing here?"
"Mr Kuakini..." I said. "Want to see me."
"Hold on, I'll get him!" She told me, turning to head back into the house. "Dad! DAD!"
"Yes love?" I heard him answer as he came forth and he grinned when he saw me there. "Morning Stitch."
I acknowledged him with a nod.
"Have a good day," he said to Kalia, who pet me on the head before running off. There was a honk of a car horn and I saw a car pull up as she climbed into it.
"School," Mr Kuakini addressed my wonder. "Those are her friends. They have a late start on Thursdays."
I watched the car drive off before looking back up at him.
"Alanna had a morning shift, so she's gone. Come in."
I followed him inside quietly, rubbing my arm. He led me to the kitchen. "Have you had breakfast yet?"
"Good. Because..." he turned around from the counter and placed a plate down in front of me, full of blueberry pancakes. "Remember these?"
He grinned before squirting some whipped cream onto them. When I realised what he was doing, I snorted.
"How about now?"
I actually did remember this. Very distant, as were my other memories, but actions like this were helping to unlock them. My grin confirmed to him that I did remember. That smiley face always made me laugh.
"Your favourite. Dig in."
That, I did. The pancakes were delicious. Nothing like I'd ever had back home. He watched me as I sat there eating quietly. I think there were some things he wanted to say, but he kept quiet. Once I finished, he took the plate away and cleared up the table a little before having me follow him to Mitch's bedroom.
It looked much cleaner. The layers of dust had gone, and the window was open. I was glad to see that he was finally able to face his past. He brought me over to the bed and sat me down on it before sitting beside me, a photo album in hand.
"I know this might seem a bit weird, but I want you to tell me what you do and don't remember from these photos – if there is anything you remember at all. I know you're in there, but the more we can prove it, then..."
I nodded in understanding.
For the next hour we sifted through the photos. Many of them I had no memory of, but some I actually did. Of times and places I knew I had been without having been there. I pointed those ones out to him as he handed them to me.
"Ih! This was Kalia recital. Not long after, fire alarm went off by accident."
Mr Kuakini's eyes went really wide, but he nodded. "Yes...? And...?"
"Everybody run, big panic. I retcha... trip? And fall?" The vision played like a movie in my head.
"That's right. I had to run back and get you. It was one of the first signs that your legs were going."
He put that photo aside and handed me another one. In the picture was Mitch standing beside a boy with blonde hair. A name played on my mind.
"Chris Brown," I said instantly, and again his eye's widened in amazement. "Friend, ih?"
He put his hand to his head in astonishment and laughed airily. "It's almost like you are a psychic. You'd put those frauds out of business, that's for sure."
I laughed. "Nah. I'm not."
"Do you remember who Chris was?"
I nodded again. "Neighbour. Two houses down," I spoke as a vision of a house appeared in my mind I'd seen a few times on the way here. "He met me at school. Same grade."
Mr Kuakini stared. I realised what I'd just said. "I mean, met Mitch at school."
He just put his hand against my head. "Mitch..."
I looked through some more photos. A few more I was able to recall but it was such a bizarre experience. Once finished, he put the album away and looked at me sitting there on the bed. I stared back at him.
"I... just can't believe it," he said quietly, holding up a picture of Mitch on his desk and gazing at it. "It's not possible, yet here you are reliving these memories as though you were there."
"I was," I told him. "Only when happen, I was a human."
"And look at you now..." he responded, walking over and bending down in front of me to gaze at me. "I never even believed in aliens, until that day you spoke to me."
I just looked at him. He took up my arm, inspecting my paw.
"Mitch would always tell me he thought aliens existed. I bought him a telescope for his birthday one year. Before being confined to the chair, he would go out every night and look up at the stars with it. Sometimes he'd be out there for hours."
Mr Kuakini ran his hand along the fur of my arm. "Is up there, ih?" I pointed up to a high cupboard.
Again, he looked amazed. "It is, yes. How did you...?"
I shrugged. "I was Mitch in past. Remember you put up there."
"I did, yes..." he sighed. "When thing's got out of hand with the disease, a lot of stuff had to be packed away. You were mostly in hospital."
I looked away. "Can I see it?"
"Telescope. I'd like to see it again."
"Well, sure. Let me get the lad–"
"Naga, I can get it."
He watched me as I jumped down from the bed and easily scaled up the wall, making his jaw drop in disbelief, before opening up the cupboard and leaning into it. The telescope was in a box at the back. I tugged at it until it came forth but also ended up knocking out a bag in the process which made me lose my grip as it fell and bounced off my head. Mr Kuakini ran forward and caught me before I hit the ground.
"Are you okay?" he asked me.
"I'm fine," I told him, jumping from his arms and climbing back up again. "Woulda bounced. Hey!"
"What is it?"
"Retcha igi tagi igaba paka."
"Soka. I remember this stuff," I repeated in English, pulling out some more of Mitch's old belongings. Mr Kuakini was about to reach up to grab them from me but let out a startled noise when I extended my extra arms and held the belongings in those. As I climbed down with the telescope as well, he just stared.
He sat down on the bed, looking a little dazed.
"Are you okay?" I asked him.
"Yeah... just a shock, you know."
Oh. I gave him a sheepish grin. "I am an alien."
"I know. It's just hard to grasp the concept that you were my son. Now you're not even human."
I felt a bit awkward at that. "Does... bother you?"
"Meega," I pointed to myself. "Being like this."
"It's just different for me. But... I will get used to it. I mean, I have you back now, right? I am thankful for that, and that's the main thing. I can look past you being a different species."
"..." I rubbed my arm again. He seemed to pick up on how I felt.
"Sorry. Well... I hope you don't mind if I call you Mitch?"
I stared at him at that. "Naga. I am Mitch. As long as remember I am Stitch."
He smiled at that, and I was glad to see it assured him a little. I didn't mind if he called me who I was once, it made sense for him to after all. As long as he respected and remembered that I was Jumba's now, and was Stitch.
Mr Kuakini sat down on the floor beside me as I looked through the stuff I'd pulled down. I saw him smile heartedly when he pulled out an old jacket from the bag that had bounced off my head. It looked small enough to fit me.
"Remember this? Your favourite from when you were young. I must have kept it."
I stared at the jacket. "Sorta."
"Stand up. It'll fit you again now."
I stood up and I felt him tug gently on my vest. I looked at him for a moment, but I allowed him to continue and he pulled my vest off, before putting the jacket on me and zipping up the front. He sat back and stared for a little while, keeping quiet, though I did see him tear up a little.
"You look exactly the same."
"How?" I asked.
"I think it's the fur on your head. He had a cow lick, and his hair sat the exact same way."
I nodded, turning to look in the mirror. The jacket suited me. Behind me, he smiled, putting his hand on my shoulder again.
"Want to go play some golf?"
"Golf?" I asked. I had no memory of playing golf. He left the room for a moment or so before returning holding a golf club. As he put it into my paws, it started to become vaguely familiar.
"Wait... I... used to play this," I said quietly and he nodded. "And tennis! But when got ill, couldn't anymore."
"That's right! You loved those sports. And mini-golf as well. Golf was your talent though."
I looked up when he sat a hat onto my head. I pulled it off and looked at it. It was a golf cap, blue in colour with a gold metallic stripe down the front. I stared at it for a moment before it finally registered; like everything else, my scent was all over it as well.
"Mom got me this!"
His arm slumped and his eyes widened. Mine did too.
Did I really just say mom? "I-I mean..." I looked away in embarrassment.
"No... it just proves it's you. It's really you," he said quietly, picking me up into a hug. I just hugged him in return and I felt him stroke his hand down my back.
"I'm so glad you've come back to me, Mitch."
"I'm glad too."
He pulled back to look at me, before pulling out a tissue and blowing his nose. "Anyway. Let's go then."
I looked at the cap in my paws before following Mr Kuakini out of the room.
Half an hour later, we were driving along Kauai's looping roads. Some of the areas felt familiar though I knew I'd never been in them before. I guessed that the more time I was spending with my original father, the more Mitch's memories were unlocking inside of me.
I did remember flying over this area on my way to Earth years back. It looked a little different to how I remembered it back then, but entirely different to how Mitch remembered it.
Mr Kuakini put on a CD as he drove and soon enough music poured out of the speakers.
I kept looking up at him. To me he was just another human, but to another part of me I felt a sense of longing. I had started seeing him in another light. The Mitch part of me felt instantly at ease. But considering Jumba was my father, it was still weird for me. It didn't feel right to call him 'pa'.
"What should call you?" I eventually asked.
He seemed perplexed. "Whatever you feel comfortable calling me," he responded, lowering the volume slightly. "Do... do you see me as your father any more?"
I gave a sad sigh. "As much as like to... I cannot. Sorry."
"I understand," he responded, sounding a little flat. "Believe me, I do. And I respect that." He reached over and put his hand on my head. "I cannot force you to call me dad when I'm no longer your dad. Jumba created you and raised you. You just ended up with my son inside of you."
"Hurts you," I responded quietly, holding his hand with my paw. "Doesn't it?"
"Of course it does," he told me. "It's like I have my son back, but I can't have him. It's heartbreaking for me. But, I can deal with it."
I sat and thought at that. "What should I call you then?"
"Whatever you wish to."
"Hmm..." I lowered my ears as I thought. "Well... what if you, like step-dad?"
"Ih. Or, second dad."
He was quiet.
"Kuakini second dad."
He laughed. "Trust you to come up with something like that, Mitch."
"That," he repeated. "It's something he would do, Stitch. Mitch came up with all sorts of nonsensical terms. Do you really want to call me K2D?"
The more I thought about it, the sillier it sounded. "Mr K."
"That's good. Call me that."
I nodded, looking out of the window.
We arrived at the range another twenty minutes after that. The rest of the trip had been quiet and I could tell there was a lot of deep emotional turmoil going on inside of Mr K's head.
I jumped out of the car behind him. A few people stared at us, but I paid them no mind, as did he. I was surprised for a moment when he reached down with an open hand, but I let him hold my paw as we walked.
"How does it feel to walk again?"
"Great," I told him once we were out of earshot of other passing humans. "This body is amazing."
"I can tell," he responded. "Just the fact you can pick up my forklift with one hand still does my head in."
I laughed. "Ih. I can lift up to 3000 times own body weight."
"I guess you got your wish, huh?"
I tilted my head. He elaborated. "Your last journal entry."
"Ih... guess so." I responded, rubbing my arm again. I wasn't too happy he read it, but I couldn't stop him. He reached over to stop me walking, bending down in front of me. I stared at him.
"I know now why you didn't want me to read it," he told me and I nodded. "Look. Alien or not, I love you. As I said, it's different for me that you're like this now, but I can adapt and get used to it. I'd rather see you be healthy with four arms and blue fur than be unhealthy, dying, miserable and confined to a chair."
I smiled at that.
"Now, let's go."
He held my paw again as we walked down to pay for a few games.
"Whoa! What a shot!" Mr K yelled in excitement as I swung my golf club hard. The golf ball sailed over the field and landed right beside the hole, toppling and then falling in. He couldn't see it, but with my vision I could.
"Yep," I grinned, flinging the club over my shoulder.
"Well done!" he cheered, holding up his fist and bumping it against mine.
I smiled. It had been two hours since we'd arrived and this was the final shot of our second game. He'd been right in that Mitch had been talented at golf, considering how many hole-in-ones I'd got. I knew being what I was contributed, since I had super-strength and a super-computer mind, helping me with precision and the angle of trajectory, but seeing his reactions made me feel good. The more I had played, the more I felt myself mellowing out as Mitch's personality started coming through.
I was really enjoying myself.
I thought about my father. I hoped he would be okay with me spending time with Mr K like this. Mr K wasn't my biological dad anymore, but he had been in the past and the more time I spent with him, the more I remembered.
The more Mitch remembered.
I was interrupted from my thoughts as Mr K finished off the score card. As I had guessed, I'd won by a long shot.
He packed up the golf clubs and we headed back to the main lodge. I sat down at a cafe table outside while he went in to get us some food. A few other patrons stared at me, but they were just curious. I was wearing clothes and playing golf, after all, so it was to be expected. But right now, it didn't bother me.
Mr K returned ten minutes later, offering me a sandwich and lemonade.
He watched me quietly as I ate. I could see him studying me, but he didn't say anything. Once finished, we had a third round of golf before heading back to the car. I did well, but not as well as the previous two times.
He looked at his watch. "Still got a while. I was thinking of taking you up to Mt Waialeale, considering how much you loved that place. When you were chair-bound we could no longer go."
Smiling, Mr K started up the car and we drove away from the golf range. I stuck my head out of the window, letting my ears blow in the wind and he laughed.
"You do remind me of a dog, doing that."
I pulled back inside, looking at him sheepishly. "Feels nice."
"The wind blowing in your face? Yes, it does."
I rubbed at my eyes and he put up the window. "So tell me."
"What is it like for you now?"
"Uh..." I rubbed my arm again and he looked a little dismayed.
"Am I getting too personal?"
"Naga. Used to it."
"What do you mean?"
I explained to him about Nani and my family being curious about me.
"Well, can you blame them? Look at you. Surely you must have some secret powers."
I chuckled slightly. I began to tell him about my abilities. He was most amazed by my eyes.
"Wait, you have x-ray vision?"
"Ih, I do."
"That's incredible!" he said, pulling up at a stop sign. "Can you see inside of me?"
"I can, yes. I can see bones."
"So what colours can you see that you couldn't before?"
"Uh... hard to describe. Can see colours kinda like... blue yellow, but at same time."
He went quiet for a moment or so, before speaking. "What, you mean like impossible colours?"
"Colours that the human eye cannot pick up."
"Ih, I can see colours humans cannot normally."
"Fascinating. And those ears..." he reached over to stroke my right ear. "Is your hearing good?"
"What can you hear?"
"I can hear your heartbeat."
He was awestruck. "You're amazing! You have so many abilities now, Mitch! Just imagine it! You could help top researchers discover new work... new knowledge! Provide answers to questions that have remained unanswered for years! Alien life does exist, imagine the knowledge that could be obtained! You could become rich and famous! You're living proof life exists after de–"
"ENOUGH!" I screeched, pulling at my ears. This was NOT a path I wanted to go down.
He stopped and it was quiet between us for the remainder of the trip. Eventually he pulled up in a small parking lot and we'd arrived at the entrance to Mt Waialeale. I looked away from him, feeling angry and hurt. I couldn't believe it.
"I'm sorry," Mr Kuakini spoke softly. "I guess I really don't know or understand what it's like for you now. I was just thinking of all the good that could come from this."
"Good?!" I cried. "Mitch is son, I'm not science experiment! See me as freak!"
"Mitch came back because YOU wanted it! Now I'm back, you... think of me as easy money?"
"No!" he sighed. "That's not what I was thinking at all!"
"You're lying!" I cried.
He looked devastated. "It's been hard, okay? After you died, I had a lot of debt I went into. Hospital bills. We actually nearly lost the house and there was a period that I couldn't even keep the shop afloat. I had to sell it just to pay off your treatment."
I paused at that. "W-what?"
He nodded. "Had it not been for your grandmother, I wouldn't have got that shop back. She used her life savings to help me and I've been trying to pay her back since then. I know I lashed out at Lilo that time... but that was because I was dealing with this on top of that happening and the storm made things even harder. I cannot borrow more money from my mother with so much to pay back already."
I looked down. I understood where he was coming from, getting carried away like that at the idea of money. But still.. it wasn't right. I'd endured enough in my life being what I was, I didn't need it from my own past family. Since Jumba was rich, I'd never really understood the struggles of money until living with Lilo. It had really opened my eyes.
My ears flipped up and I was startled when he started crying. I sat there, speechless.
"I'm sorry, Mitch," he gasped. "After you left everything fell apart."
I closed my eyes. I realised then he'd made an honest mistake. Jumba had made mistakes. Even worse than this.
Sometimes the thought of something was so alluring it blind-sided you to everything else. To Jumba that had been revenge, but to Mr K it was probably a chance for things to get better. He was right in that I would be famous – but I was also an alien. It would be for the wrong reasons. They would perform tests on me. Not to mention, if this government found out about us, and word spread back to the council...
No, that couldn't ever happen.
Before he could say anything else, I crawled over and hugged him. "It's okay. Mistake, ih?"
He tensed up slightly before hugging me close. "I would never do that to you."
"I wouldn't allow it," I told him. "Been through too much. If you're my father, like Jumba, would not want that. Money not everything."
He went quiet. "You're right," he hung his head. "You always have been. I've never had a lot of money. Just enough to get by and make sure your sister gets an education.
My sister. Geeze that felt weird to hear. I had to keep reminding myself I didn't have a sister, but Mitch did.
"No worry. You can have some of Naanee money."
"Pa make machine," I explained. "Makes money."
He looked shocked. "What, it actually does that?"
"Ih. You can get money, pay off debts."
He looked elated. "Wow... I have no idea what to say."
"Don't say anything," I told him, putting a claw to his mouth. "But don't say stuff like that to Stitch. Again. Understand?"
"I'm sorry... I'm truly sorry."
"Isa okay," I told him. "I forgive you."
"I'm just glad to have you back. In my arms," he ran his hand down my back and I remained there for as long as he wanted me to. "I've longed for this for so many years." Eventually he pushed me back slightly. "Well, let's get going."
He opened up the door, and I followed him out of the car.
As we walked up Mt Waialeale, Mr K was quiet. I could tell he felt bad from before simply from his body language and I had to reassure him that I wasn't angry. After that he seemed to bounce back a bit.
It was much easier for me to walk up the hill on all fours, since I was small. He stared at me as I did this and I felt a little embarrassed, so I stood up again, except I struggled. I could barely get over steps enough as it was, this was almost the same. My legs were too short.
"No, it's alright!" he said, seeing me do that. "If that feels better for you, then do it. You're not a human anymore. I have to remember that."
I was glad I had fur because I knew my face was red. I must have just looked like such a dog to him. Before it wouldn't have bothered me, but now knowing I was formerly his human son it felt a bit more personal.
Eventually after nearly fourty minutes of hiking, we reached an area that looked familiar to me. I'd been up here once or twice with Lilo before, but not this particular area; I knew I remembered it because Mitch had been here before his disease had really kicked in.
Mr K sat down on a ledge, overlooking a lake. I could hear his heart racing from the exertion and he took a swing of water. I sat down beside him, but I wasn't as tired.
It was a beautiful sight. The hike had been worth it.
I could see Mr K looking at me thanks to my peripheral vision. He was doing it out of the corner of his eye. Of course, I was used to being stared at, but as I'd realised before, it felt more personal now that I knew he'd been my father a lifetime ago. I felt like I was being judged.
"Do you think I'm dog?"
He looked startled. His head turned and he looked away from me. "...I know you're not. But it's hard not to see it when I look at you now, knowing who you are. You had your head out of the window in the car... and now, walking on all fours."
I curled up beside him. Now I just felt self-conscious.
He put his arm around my back. "Mitch, I don't care what you look like now. My duty has always been to be there for you, as your father. I did that right up until the day you died. And now that you're back, it will be the same. If I only judged you just because of how you look now, I wouldn't have the right to call you my son."
I felt a little better hearing that. I felt him stroke my ears in the position I had them in down across my back. I peeked up at him. Picking me up slightly, he turned me around to face him.
"You have other features, don't you? I remember seeing them, back when you showed me who you were."
"Ih," I nodded.
"Show me. I want to see you as you are."
I nodded. I stood up, unzipping the jacket and pulling it off. Since the bounty outfit was designed for my body, I had no reason to remove the tank top. I unfurled my extra features, and he let in a slight gasp. Gently, he put his hand to my head and ran a finger up my left antenna.
He was about to do the same to my spines, but I flexed them away from him in fear he'd accidentally scratch himself.
"Ih. Toxic. If even tiny scratch, you die."
He looked startled. I retracted them back into my back. He bore an odd expression on his face for a moment before I felt him pick up my lower right arm.
I was quiet. Eventually he stopped and I retracted my alien features.
"Never thought my own kid would be toxic," he laughed. "You're a real powerhouse now, aren't you? Wasn't that what you wished for?"
I remained quiet at that. He didn't know how powerful I really was and I didn't have the heart to tell him.
"Thank you God, for bringing Mitch back to me," I heard him say quietly. I looked over at him, but he wasn't looking at me – he was looking down at a flower.
Damn it. How could I tell him the truth? That he'd lose me again shortly only after just getting Mitch back. It would utterly destroy him!
Quietly I crawled over and lay across his lap. All I could do was comfort him right now. Let him have what he wanted – his son back in his arms. Or lap, in this case. He was surprised but he started to stroke me gently; a little apprehensively at first before I felt him relax and warm up to me. He started running his hand down my back and I felt him linger on my tail momentarily before resuming his pattern. I could tell it was weird for him.
"I can't believe it's you..." he muttered, and my ears perked slightly. He was musing to himself, I realised when I looked up to see him looking over the lake again. He continued his stroking and before I could stop myself I let out a purr. And it was LOUD.
THAT made him jump. Not in fright, but complete shock.
I pulled away and curled up, putting my ears and arms over my eyes. God. How embarrassing. I was enough like a dog as it was already, now I probably just seemed like nothing more than an animal. I couldn't blame his reaction – imagine hearing your own son purr after being told that your son can smell scents.
He was quiet beside me. I think it had really shocked him.
Man, why did I have to do that? I cringed. But before I could visualise all the mental punishments I could dish myself, he started laughing. Hard.
"Oh man!" he laughed, wiping at his eyes after catching his breath. "You can actually do that?"
He took note of how ashamed I must have looked. He just smiled and gestured for me to sit in his lap again, but when I didn't move, he reached over and pulled me across himself.
"Don't be embarrassed. I thought it was quite cute."
I gave him an odd look at that. Cute?
"Come on. You know humans don't purr like a cat. Of course I'm going to laugh, it was so unexpected!"
I managed a tiny smile, and he returned it. "Like I said, you're incredible. Don't be ashamed about who you are."
That made me feel a lot better. He stroked my head before looking back out over the lake.
We spent a few hours up there, just looking out into the distance and talking. I didn't tell him about my past, but he did ask me what it was like coming 'back'. Since I had no idea about him or Earth back then, I had nothing to relate or compare to, so I told him that I couldn't explain it to him because I believed that was normal.
It was only after I'd met him things had started getting unusual for me. Especially when he'd first made the first few connections between me and his son.
"Are you going to tell?" I asked him. I knew he'd already said no, but I wanted him to explain more to me. "Mom, Kalia? About me?"
"I honestly don't know. As I told you before, this was something I wished for personally. I have no idea how they'd react to knowing who you are. They'd probably think I'm crazy for even believing such a thing. But you and I both know, that you are Mitch. There is utterly no doubt about that in my mind now; you are him."
I nodded. "I think, should not tell. Not yet, anyway."
"If I can ever bring myself to do so," Mr K responded. "How does Jumba feel about all this, by the way?"
"Pa? Is supportive."
"That's good. I'd hate him to think that I'm trying to take you away. That's the very least of my intentions, and you know I respect you have a new life now. Being an alien."
I looked down. "Mitch does miss being with you," I put my paw to my chest. "I feel it. Wants to go back."
I nodded. "I cannot. This is me now, Stitch. I'll always be here."
"I'm just glad you're here. That I have another chance with you. It's truly a miracle."
I smiled at him. He put his hand to my cheek before he stood up and I followed him as he headed back down the hill.
Mr K took me to a lookout point after that. I realised why Mitch hadn't been able to get up here – it was up a steep set of steps. I walked up on all fours again and could see Mr K watching me out the corner of his eye.
I still had no idea what he made of me doing that. Whether or not he found it odd, or it didn't bother him – it wasn't clear. Either way, it made it much easier for me to get up there.
At the top, there was a metal guard rail. I walked over to it and climbed up, leaning over it.
"Careful..." I turned to see Mr K come up right behind me, putting his arms around me to support me. Even if I fell, I knew I'd be fine.
"I'm indestructible," I told him. "Well, almost."
He looked confused. "Oh, yes. I do remember now, that time you got electrocuted. Indestructible?"
"If I fell over, I wouldn't die."
He looked alarmed. "Gosh. Still though, it's a long way down. I can't imagine anybody surviving such a plummet."
I grinned at him. "Anyone human," I responded. "Look."
Before he could react, I flipped myself over the railing in a handstand and let myself fall over the edge. He screamed bloody murder.
I laughed. I had clung onto the cliff and dug my claws into the dirt. It was impossible for me to fall. I climbed back up and sat on the railing.
He was shaking and his heart was racing hard inside of him. "DON'T EVER DO THAT AGAIN!" he roared, pulling me from the railing into his arms. "I cannot lose you again! I can't! I couldn't handle it!"
My ears lowered. "Soka... but I'm fine, honest!"
I showed him my claws and extended them to their full length. "Can break through concrete. Cliff edge, nothing."
He ran his finger up along one of them. "They're as long as garden shears!"
"Jumba equipped me. I can survive in space."
He looked astounded. He refused to let me go, however and just held me tightly as we looked over the edge.
"Mitch, I don't care if you're the most supreme being on the planet now, I will not lose you again."
I closed my eyes. This was why I couldn't tell him about the cell or my Metamorphosis programming.
We stayed up there for a while. By the time we left, the sky was starting to get dark and Mr. K. didn't seem to realise he'd gone over how long he actually wanted to spend with me. I didn't mind, though. Going home meant...
I sighed. It meant finally coming clean. To Nani. To the family. And I sure as hell wasn't looking forward to that.
By the time we reached the car, it was dark.
"Wow... I didn't realise it was this late already..." he told me. "I'm sorry. I guess I got a bit lost in my thoughts."
"Is fine..." I told him. "You needed this."
"I did," he smiled at me, starting up the engine. "I'll... drop you home."
I nodded. He was quiet again as he drove and I could tell he was bottling something. I just looked out of the window. When he arrived at the entrance to our driveway, he parked the car and sat with his hands on the steering wheel.
"I-I don't want you to go," he admitted after a long silent pause. "I miss you too much."
"I know," I responded quietly. "But... like said, this is Mitch life now. As Stitch. Not far away..."
His eyes glistened. "It's just not going to be the same. I know, I cannot take you from Jumba. Your family. But... it's going to be hard for me. I've tried to be strong, but knowing that you're here it just makes it all the more harder."
"Will be hard, ih. Is hard for me too 'cuz Mitch want to be with you. I feel it, strongly. In here," I put my paw to my chest again. "Misses you so much. But Jumba is pa." My ears perked at that and I saw my father coming down the driveway. Speak of the devil.
I smiled. Jumba came over and Mr K rolled down his window.
"626! Am glad you're back, was starting to worry."
I could tell that hit Mr K a little hard, but he hid it well. "He is fine. We had a good day, didn't we?"
Jumba looked me over before looking at the man. "626 has been telling me. He was your child, in past. Has soul of your son inside."
"That's right. He does. And he's proved it more than enough to me."
Jumba nodded. "Yes well. Sadly, that life has passed. 626 is my boy now, you are aware?"
"Of course. I wouldn't do anything to jeopardise that. Believe me... I know how important he is to you."
"Good," my father responded. "Of course, I will allow him to visit and still work for you with larger girl. I cannot stop him. But as long as you are remembering first and foremost, Stitch belongs to me. He is my son."
Mr K closed his eyes at that. I saw him grip the steering wheel a little tighter. "Yes. I know."
"Come on, 626. Need to check your stats and dinner is ready."
Mr K turned to face me at that. It did hurt me to see the pain in his eyes, knowing I had to go. I really understood how he felt, because I felt the same kind of reaction in my heart through Mitch, who didn't want to leave his dad again.
Things were going to be very different between us now and both of us would have to learn to adapt to this. I'd given my job to Nani, but still, working for him was going to be a new experience; he wasn't just my boss anymore. He was once my father.
He held my paw tightly before leaning over to hug me tightly as well. "I will see you soon."
"Ih..." I told him, smiling. "Goodbye Mr K."
I knew he wasn't ever going to address me as Stitch again, even if he respected I was Stitch, but I couldn't blame him for that – it didn't feel right to do so. Jumba heard it and put his finger to his mouth looking thoughtful, but he didn't say anything. I got out of the car and he picked me up, putting me over his shoulder.
I watched Mr K over his shoulder as my father carried me away and eventually, he disappeared behind the trees and out of sight.