Distorted voices woke me up the following morning. I sat up groggily, flipping up my ears only to open my eyes in surprise when nothing happened. I whipped my paw up to my head only to feel nothing there again and quickly drew it back to look at it.
Five human fingers and flesh was the sight that greeted me. I yelped.
Frantically I jumped out of my makeshift bed and rushed over to Jumba and Pleakley's bedroom mirror in fright. Staring back at me was a pale boy with ginger hair and freckled skin.
No, this couldn't be happening! I slapped my face, but nothing happened. Panicking, I turned and rushed up to Jumba in his top bunk, crawling over him before shaking him.
No response. It was the same for Pleakley when I tried to wake up him up as well.
This can't be happening.
I ran from the room, tripping down the stairs when my legs gave out. "LILO!" I screamed. "LEELO!"
The dome door burst open and she rushed out, her eyes widening in horror before she flinched back upon seeing me. "W-who're you?" she stuttered.
"It's me, Lilo! I'm Stitch!"
"You're not Stitch! Why are you in our house?"
"It's meega! Stitch!" I cried, reaching out to hold onto her arm but she jerked away. "Please! Don't you recognise me?"
"Get away from me! Why are you talking like that?!" she shrieked at me before screaming out for her sister. A few moments later both Nani and David were by my side, and David pulled Lilo back and away from me.
"Who are you?!" he yelled. "What are you doing in here?"
"IT"S ME! IT'S STITCH!" I cried, bursting into tears.
"Lilo, where is Stitch?" Nani asked at that and Lilo just shook her head. "I don't know, I came in and saw him in our house."
"Jumba!" I cried, turning to go back up the stairs. "Pa, help me!"
The door remained shut. I felt David grab my arm and pull me back. "You need to leave. How did you even get in here? Where are your parents?"
"You don't understand, it's Stitch! Jumba is my pa!"
David just ignored me, pulling me back towards the front door. "Lilo!" I screamed. "No! Please, help me!"
"Get out and go back home!"
David pushed me outside before shutting the door in my face. I tried to open it but it wouldn't budge.
"I am home!" I pleaded, pounding my fists against the door. "This is my home!"
I was really panicking now. I looked up at the dome and tried to climb up the wall only for nothing to happen. I slipped and fell down onto the porch. This body was utterly useless; I couldn't do anything.
I sobbed. "Pleechi-ba let me in!" I wailed against the door of my home. "It's Stitch!"
In the window I could see Nani on the phone, looking out at me worriedly. Lilo was beside her, looking scared.
"Mitch! What are you doing here?" I suddenly heard a voice behind me and whipped around to find Mr Kuakini heading up the stairs. He reached for my arm and began to pull me away. "Come on, you must be hallucinating again. You cannot just run off up strangers driveways like that."
"No this is my home!"
He looked at me weird. "Did you take your medication this morning? Come on."
"No!" I screamed. "NO!"
"HUSH! What's got into you boy?" Mr Kuakini yelped, putting a hand to my mouth. He picked me up and I struggled to get back down. I was too weak. "Let's get you back home."
"PUT ME DOWN!" I screamed. "JUMBA! HELP ME!"
This couldn't be happening. I started to hit my face repeatedly before Mr Kuakini began to laugh loudly, sounding almost demonic.
"626 WAKE UP!"
I screamed. Mr Kuakini disappeared and I found myself standing beside the wall in Jumba's room. He was pulling me back and to my shock there was a hole in the wall in front of me where my head must have been. My father was breathing heavily, restraining my paws in his hand.
"You were banging head against wall, woke us up!"
I looked back at the hole, eyes widening in horror at the thought of what I'd been doing while I was completely unaware. Pleakley was sitting up in his bed, looking mortified.
I shook, hard. I looked down at my hands, panting slightly, to be greeted with paws again, not fleshy white human hands. Turning, I buried myself into my father's nightshirt, crying. He hugged me close. "You were having hallucination again, weren't you?"
I didn't answer him, but I didn't have to because he already knew. I wondered whether or not by this point to tell him about Demon 626 and how badly my sense of reality was starting to be warped. It had to come out sooner or later and after what I'd just done, now seemed a better time than ever. Shuddering, I pulled back to look at him.
I tapped my head. "Something, in here. With me."
"What do you mean?" My father responded.
I sat down next to Pleakley on the side of his bed and started to explain about the black 'demon' I'd been seeing for the past few weeks inside of my head. Starting back from when I'd heard it laughing at me in the ship during Jumba's global orbit. I told him about how it had been making me have nightmare hallucinations and that recurring vision of the pile of dead bodies. The desolate and decrepit hellish landscape of Turo that existed in my mind.
Jumba was shocked. "Why did you not tell me before?"
I looked away. "Did. About laughter. But, heart bad. Dealing with enough as is, did not want to make worse."
"626, my health is least of concerns here. You are main priority. You should have told me, no matter how bad."
I couldn't answer him. He sighed, running his hand over my head. "Well, what do you think it is?"
"Isa me, I saw it," I told him. "But not me. A demon me." I muttered, rubbing my head. "Evil me."
Jumba raised an eyebrow. "Like a second conscience?"
"I see..." Jumba responded to that, taking me over to his desk and sitting me down. He put a device on my head and pressed a few buttons on the scanner. The scan itself took about five minutes but once done, he removed the device and looked at the results on his computer.
"Hm. Brainwaves showing interesting pattern. B.U.G did not pick up with limited depth of scan from in air, but deep scan has. Look."
He turned the monitor towards me, and pointed to a particular section on the scan.
"Where it come from?" I asked.
He didn't exactly answer me I noticed. "Perhaps GPS frequency was cause of release... but..."
"Neesa?" I asked.
"Does not add up that second brainwave would generate as result of that exactly, considering was meant to be wiped. At least, in this particular section of brain."
I stared at my father at that. "Can get rid of it?"
He looked at me and then sighed before looking away. Something was making him apprehensive; I could tell from his body language. Finally he spoke again.
"I think your back up programming might have initiated."
"Gaba?" I tilted my head, confused. This was the first I'd heard of a 'back up' program. "What talking about?"
"Well as you are knowing, when I created you, I wanted you to be a monster yes?"
I frowned. I didn't like where this was going. "Ih...?"
"I will be in honest with you, 626," my father ran his hand over his head again. "I built a back up program. If the Metamorphosis system did not activate for any unknown or unexplainable reason, the back up was designed to do so in it's place, but other than that never activate at all. Since the Metamorphosis activation did go as according to plan because I forced it too, albeit worse than intended, it remained dormant and ultimately I wiped it when I encrypted you. You wouldn't have been as strong as with actual Metamorphosis with this programming; that being, you could not change as drastically, but would still grow and have potential to wipe out city. Remember I explained that you defied me and I could never explain how? This program initially would have been your 'true' personality but I opted to make it a back up instead out of fear you would turn against me. You are 626. The program would have been you as I intended you to be and as you know, I gave you my DNA to maintain control over you without you killing me. For the longest time I'd thought it was because of my DNA that you acted the way you were, but now telling me about soul inside of you, I do not think was the case. The back up should have been erased entirely."
I stared at him, feeling a bit sick. "You created two versions of Metamorphosis?"
He gave a nod. "Sort of. One was just a back up to ensure you were still monster."
I couldn't face my father at hearing that. "Isa anything else you've kept from me?"
"No, of course not! I assure you!"
"So why isa still there?"
"I blacked out when I encrypted you. You almost killed me with your power. I must have blacked out as that part was encrypting, which means one of two things – it never actually wiped the program when encrypting for some reason I had just missed as went unconscious, or something disrupted the process and it didn't start at all. Back up remained untouched all of this time."
"Pa never once picked up on this? At all?" I questioned.
He clenched his fists. "626, I was busy dealing with YOU and this blasted Metamorphosis system! I had hard enough time as it was trying to figure out how that possibly had activated despite multiple layers of strongest encryptions possible! I was not thinking of every single little detail right off bat!"
"What about the scans?" I cried. "How miss this?"
"Scans are thorough but not perfect! Remember, power-cell had a blanket effect thus making undetectable! Like invisible veil! Had you not questioned where I sourced GPS from, would never have put two and two together! Jumba is smart yes, but not perfect 626! Cannot be getting everything right!"
Pleakley was flinching back by this point as our discussion grew heated.
It was like my father made every thing impossible for me; I couldn't ever escape from myself, even if I wanted to. First because I disobeyed him, he had shot me in the head and actually killed me. When I was revived, I was a clumsy idiot because that section of my brain had been damaged beyond repair. I could hardly walk long distances without tripping over my own feet most of the time. Then forcing me to endure that horrible programming which had utterly destroyed me and ruined my life. He had turned me into a terrorist against my will. And if that wasn't enough, now I had this god-forsaken demon version of myself in my own head because of ANOTHER program I had no idea about.
No wonder I'd felt suicidal before. Looking back on all of this it made even me question how I remained so strong and hadn't given up because it was just one blow after the other. Because of my father making me WHO I was and there was no escaping that; eventually one way or the other, I'd just lose everything. He'd taken away my only chance of preventing the programming from initiating by dehydrating myself. He wouldn't let me go over the cliff, even if I didn't want to myself because it meant leaving Lilo behind. But how was I supposed to avoid this now?
What the hell was I supposed to do? Just accept this was okay?
I was well aware my father had screwed up. He had made a lot of horrible mistakes and I had forgiven him. But how much was I supposed to forgive?
My father sensed how I felt. "I've done you bad, 626. I acknowledge this, which is why I never understood why you forgave me. Heck, Jumba never expected it. I know I am not evil, deep inside, but my actions only seem to make that untrue and hard to believe. I truly cannot blame you if you turn on me and you are finally realising is best to."
I closed my eyes.
I'd watched my father collapse from stressing himself out trying to help me. I'd seen his heart stop from overexertion and stress and I knew that if I did turn my back on him, right now, that would likely happen again and there was the possibility that this time, he may not wake from it. If he was gone then I'd be alone, forever.
If I broke or glitched again, there'd be nobody to fix me.
I didn't want my father to die. Even after all he'd done to me, I still loved him. I did truly feel like it was hard to forgive him now, after keeping the back up a secret from me. But then again, he didn't know it hadn't been wiped as he'd intended because he'd blacked out. Could I hold that against him? Was it fair to?
I didn't think so. I looked at him. He was quietly staring back at me.
My father had restored the ship, as promised. I could only imagine how much more stress that would have added to his workload, but he did it for one reason and one reason only – to see me happy. He had always put my happiness first.
I hesitated for a moment before walking over to his desk and picking up the spidget spinner. He watched me, as did Pleakley. Walking over to my father, I held it up to him.
"You kept this because you were remorseful."
He looked away.
"Pa had no reason to keep it. Yet, did."
"..." He looked away from me again and sighed. Pleakley looked between us sadly.
"Same for Gamada jewellery. Did not want to let go of good memories."
"I know pa not evil," I told him, putting the spidget spinner into his hand. "I know, made mistakes. Lots of them. Spend all this time, trying to make right."
He nodded, but remained quiet.
"Naga sure, what to think. Of back up. Of everything, really," I muttered. "Too late to worry 'bout it now. Only worry about what going to happen."
He stared at me at that. "What do you mean 626?"
"I'm not going to turn now. Too late for that but not happy. With pa."
"I know," he responded. "I cannot expect you to be. I never have expected you to be, just made the most of it."
I looked away from him.
"Do you still love me, 626? As father?"
I closed my eyes at hearing that. "Ih. I do."
"Will you forgive me this time?"
I couldn't answer him because I didn't know any more. He sensed this, and I saw his body shudder in a heaved sigh before he looked away. I could tell he was hurt. But so was I.
I was about to speak, when he spoke up first. "I am well aware I ruined your life. Is why I have spent entire lifetime trying to make it up to you and give you best life as possible here on Earth. I know it's not the same as being on Kweltikwan and never will be. You had a right to see your own home planet, which was stripped away from you because of me. And because of what I put you through, you cannot ever return there without being executed. My punishment is that I am banished from my own kind but you 626, you don't even have that. A race. You are Kweltikwanian like myself yes, but you acknowledge that you are different due to how I created you. Alone. We look nothing alike, even if have similar traits and same blood."
I looked at him again, rubbing my arm.
"Perhaps now that you know you are having soul of human will be helpful to you in belonging, but even so, will never make up for the damage and pain I caused you. I never gave you a chance for anything because of my selfishness and it was wrong. Wrong of Jumba to take out life of abuse and pain on you," he looked away from me. "I created something even I cannot stop and now must live with the consequence. Whether or not we survive this is one thing, but even so and if 626 truly has nothing left inside and refuses to forgive or love Jumba any more depending on outcome, I know will be time to end life. You keep me going 626. You always have."
He faced me. "Jumba only here because of you. If that not good enough reason for you to believe I have done everything in possible power to make life easier and better for you, then I have nothing more to say because... well there is nothing more I can say. Whole time have only stuck around to ensure your happiness because Jumba has absolutely nothing left to live for 626. Only you."
I felt my heart sink; his words cut through me like a knife.
"Family?" I rasped. "Acha booka?"
"No," he looked at Pleakley sadly. "Will be honest. I'm sorry 626. Pleakley."
Pleakley looked very sad at hearing that. But I knew he understood how Jumba felt, knowing him better than anybody.
I knew my father had suffered terribly. But I didn't actually know he only remained alive for my sake and it hurt like hell for me to hear that. Worse than anything Demon 626 could do to me.
"Well... what happen when I die before?"
"In regards to Jumba being alive?"
"Had you not come back, yes, I would have done something. You know how badly that affected me 626. Still does."
I did. I recalled how he'd locked himself away from the family. I had been the only one able to hear the extent of damage it had caused him.
"Then when nearly lost you in ocean because of 621 almost had big heart attack in panic. Had to inject myself with clot-buster to get to you otherwise wouldn't have been able to. Is why couldn't get there sooner."
"Didn't tell you that. I know. But only kept that to self for sake of not making you upset."
"P-pa..." I stuttered. He looked at me for a moment before looking away.
I ran over to him and climbed up into his arms, throwing my arms around his neck.
"Don't die pa! Please!" I cried into him. "Please, don't die!"
He was quiet and I felt him just hug me tightly.
"Love you. Naga want you to die."
"I've put you through hell, 626. All that matters to me now is your happiness. My own has never mattered compared to yours and it never will."
"Matters to me!" I cried at him. "What 'bout what I think!"
He couldn't answer me.
"I need you."
My father closed his eyes at hearing that. I pushed my head against his and felt him put his hand over the back of my head.
"I can forgive you..." I told him quietly. "I'm hurt, but..."
I trailed off.
"Don't let my reason of only living for you be reason why you forgive me, 626. I know is unforgivable."
"Naga!" I cried. "Is because of how good father you've been to me! You did bad, ih? Put me through lot... but work so hard too! To make up to me. Never stopped. Never will..."
I gripped his shirt tightly. "Proved more than enough. It's okay."
He just held me tightly. "I am sorry, 626."
"Chi-chabada, papa no die... okeytaka?"
"I promise 626."
I pulled back slightly to look into his eyes. He looked very empty. I pushed my nose against his and it took him a moment or so but eventually I felt him push back.
"You are pure 626. You deserve much better."
"Don't want better," I told him. "Want Jumba."
He sighed. "Why?"
"Why not want better than Jumba?"
"Wouldn't be same," I told him. "Only one Jumba. Is best Jumba."
He laughed slightly. "Same being for you 626. We are both alone."
I smiled slightly at that. He ruffled my head before putting me back down and I latched onto his leg.
"I won't, 626. I cannot change my reasoning for remaining here and I hope you understand that I never will be able to. But I will never leave you."
I remained latched onto him like that for a while. Pleakley stared between us.
"Jumba, Stitch means a lot to you. More so that even we cannot compare, I know that. But if Stitch died, would you really leave us too?" he asked. "You'd just go?"
"Yes." Was all my father responded.
"Do I matter?"
"Of course. You are being best friend. 626 is first and foremost in life, however. If he was gone then yes, would have no reason to remain. You do not understand how much strength 626 gives me each day in spite of everything that happened. The fact he forgave me for putting him through what I did, gives Jumba incentive to get up each day. A purpose."
He looked at me. "If he was not here, than I would have no purpose."
I lowered my ears. It was just like how Lilo gave me purpose to not go over that cliff ledge. I gripped onto him harder.
"He is my son. My own flesh and blood. Nothing else compares to that Pleakley. And if you had your own, you would understand."
"I see," Pleakley responded.
Jumba scuffed the top of my head again. He lingered for a moment or so however and I noticed him staring at something.
"Gaba eiek?" I addressed him quietly.
"Hold on 626."
He left me and opened up his desk drawer, digging around for something. When he turned back around he had his microscopic glasses on him and he pushed my head down as he inspected something there again.
I heard him make a grunt before he chuckled slightly. He looked at me and laughed.
"Well, there you have it 626."
My father picked me up and carried me over to his mirror, holding me up to it. He reached over for a magnifying glass, holding it up against the tuft of fur on the top of my head.
I peered closely. I couldn't see anything. "Dagaba eiek."
I really had no idea what he was seeing. I looked harder, before eventually I saw what he'd been looking at. I reached up to the tuft of fur, eyes wide, and held it in my claws, peering harder.
"Yes way!" My father laughed. "You were right!"
I laughed happily.
There, growing out of my head wasn't my usual blue fur. It was a single strand – hard to make out, but it was there and it was longer than the rest of my fur.
And it was black.
I was starting to grow my father's hair.
"Eegalagoo!" I breathed, unable to take my eyes of it. "Stitch hair!"
"Yes! You are my son, after all and you are having my genes."
I smiled, looking at his hair for a moment or so. "How long will take to grow?"
"Have no idea. Did not think would happen until you reached puberty stage, honestly. Perhaps I was wrong. Let's keep eye on it 626."
Pleakley looked intrigued. Jumba however, looked proud. I could tell this had lifted his spirits as much as it had mine.
Finally something good had come out of all this mess.
After that, I spent the majority of the morning in Jumba's bedroom, staring at myself in the mirror. I'd been a little apprehensive about going out to face Lilo after what had happened last night and I figured that giving her space was the best solution for the time being, however I was starting to ache for her. In the past she had been clinging to me, now I needed her more than ever.
I was scared how things would be between us. Not just between myself and Lilo, but between Nani and David as well now that they knew everything about our past. Well, almost. I wasn't sure if they would learn the truth about Chopsuey and what he'd done. Let alone they hadn't been told that the Metamorphosis system was initiating just yet.
Would they see us differently now? After knowing what we did? And once they learned what was actually happening to me, would they turn on me?
I didn't want to think about it.
It was getting on towards afternoon when I finally built up enough courage to head downstairs. I needed to use the bathroom anyhow, so I had no choice but to leave.
Lilo didn't seem to be in the house. It didn't take me long to realise that Nani and David weren't there either. I flipped up my ears and listened, eventually making out two voices outside. I went up to the dome and peered out of the window. I could see them. Nani and Lilo.
They were sitting in the hammock and Lilo had her arms around her sister. My ears lowered.
She had fainted upon hearing that I'd wiped out Turo. This was obviously really taking a toll on her, but there was nothing I could do or say that would change what I'd done. I could reason with her for months on end that I wasn't evil, but that would always be on the back of her mind now. I knew it hit hard for her because she loved me.
And I loved her.
I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, of course, but would she want the same now? Would she even be able to tolerate being NEAR me knowing what I'd done? I had no idea how things were supposed to move forward from here. If she was reacting this badly to the news about me destroying Turo, how would she cope learning that I was about to do it all over again – and this time to the very place she called home?
I sat there, at the window. Just looking out at them. It was all I could do. It wasn't until an hour later that Nani finally pushed up from the hammock and starting to walk back down the stairs. Lilo remained where she was though, looking out idly at something in the distance.
I couldn't take it any more. I pushed open the window and crawled down the side of the dome, running around to the back to head up the stairs to the hammock.
She froze up slightly. I heard her heart pound slightly, but she looked up at me solemnly.
Slowly, I climbed up beside her. I kept my distance, but I needed to know.
"Do you still love me?"
No answer. She closed her eyes.
"I need to know, Lilo. Please tell me."
She was quiet for a few moments before finally looking directly at me. "Did you really wipe out an entire planet?"
I swallowed. "Yes."
"And you nearly wiped out a population because of it?"
"Did anybody survive?"
"I don't know. Maybe few 'cuz Turo was rebuilt."
She went quiet again, sniffling. "Jumba forced you to do it, didn't he."
I remained quiet. She looked at me when I didn't answer her straight away. "Well?"
"Ih..." I muttered. "Forced me to."
"Did you know what you were doing?"
"Of course not. Electrocuted me. Forced program to initiate."
"You had no control at all?"
"I don't even remember what I did."
It went quiet between us again. Her hair blew gently in the breeze and my ears also did the same.
"You killed all those people... aliens. But that's not counting the others too, is it? The ones that you killed on your missions."
I looked at her.
"Were you in control then?"
"I was," I admitted. "But they attacked me. Try to kill me. I had to do it."
I felt tears build at that. "LILO! I'm NOT proud of what I did, okay?!" She slinked back from me into the corner of the hammock at hearing me raise my voice.
"Stitch... wanted to make Jumba happy. He made me do it... I didn't like it, but he is my pa." I paused. "He lied to me. Told me, was for good cause. I never once opened fire unless was attacked first."
"And you were always attacked first?"
"I... blew up a lot of things. Very destructive. To find DNA I had to destroy stuff. In different areas, cities," I explained quietly. "Not like destruction so police try stop me. I ruined places. And yes, I enjoyed it. Creato da beeka na cucha dofaba. To destroy. Lilo nota. But just 'cuz Stitch created that way does not mean I like it. And you... you did not believe Stitch. You thought being that way on purpose, ih? To ruin dance?"
She went to say something but she looked crushed and remained quiet. She closed her eyes.
"But naga liked killing. Not at all. Chi chabada. Cuz of how I was... only see me as bad when destroy. I'm not bad. Not believe me then, so why now? Isa going to be same?"
"What do you mean?"
"Stitch going to be bad again. Soon... will Lilo only see Stitch as bad again? Stitch naga want to, but is having no choice..."
"What?!" She scooted forward a little towards me at that. "What are you talking about?"
I decided to just put it to her straight. "I'm changing again. Like on Turo."
"I will likely do to Earth what I did to Turo."
The colour drained from her face. "W-w... what are you saying?"
I looked at her. "All tests Jumba has been doing is because Metamorphosis programming came back. My father – he's been trying to stop it. Very program that made Stitch grow into big monster and destroy planet. Once cell in me switches to green, I will start changing into that. I cannot stop it."
She was very quiet. "But... but h-how?"
She looked shocked. "Chopsuey?!"
I nodded. "Remember chip in head? 621 tampered with to track me. Jumba not know. And when Stitch fall in hole and get electrocuted, it messed up chip. Chip interfered with cell, made it switch. 621 is responsible for what been happening to Stitch."
Lilo looked like she was about to be sick.
"Others naga know this. But I promised you I would tell everything. So here I am."
Lilo was quiet for a long time after that. "So... why has Nani been so mean to you then? I know she is stressed, but why? What's the real reason Stitch?"
"Nani saw meega change. It's happened few times now. My body changes and cannot control when happens. I scare her, badly. I snap at her, in anger. I scare agents. As result, she turned on me. Wanted me away from you. Retcha when pa yell at me? Very early in morning?"
"Had gone to try go over cliff. Into ocean, but Nani stop and save me. 'Cuz back then I knew, Lilo. Knew nothing could be done about program. Stitch much rather die than ruin Lilo life. Hurt you. Wipe out Kauai and Earth."
"But what about when you were going to step into that... machine?"
"Dehydrator," I told her. "Was going to dehydrate myself. Stop programming, save you. Jumba not allow me because... meant you losing me again. Meant him losing me."
Her eyes widened.
"Is why he destroyed machine."
Lilo went quiet again. I could tell she was trying to process everything and it was hard for her to do so. I saw her quivering; not from the cold, but from the reality of what I'd just told her.
"Only reason, Stitch didn't go over cliff... or go through with dehydrating... or even, try drown himself again... is because of you."
"Y-you tried to drown yourself?"
"Ih. When Nani made me leave wedding. At home... I change again. Nani stopped me. Saw me, not as myself, but as starting to turn into kaphong."
"What happens to you?"
"Stitch grow taller, like 621. Look horrible – really evil and scary. Red eyes. Never want you to see. When Nani saw, she try push me away. Mean to me and stop you being near me. Not my fault, I naga want to change."
"Just need to know one thing, Lilo."
She eyed me.
"Do you still love me?"
No answer. I turned away, feeling my heart break.
"Lilo. Only reason I stayed was for you. 'Cuz I want to die, to save everybody. 'Cuz if that happen, I not grow into monster. Take your home from you, hurt you. Destroy family and kill everyone. Like Turo," I muttered. "You give me purpose. Always have. Without you, for me, is no purpose. You are angel to me and make me Stitch, made me very happy and gave me chance at life when everyone see me as monster. And I will always love you for that 'cuz you're my saviour."
I pushed myself out of the hammock and sadly started to go back down the stairs. Without Lilo there really was nothing left for me. But I couldn't force her to love me after what I'd done and who I really was. She was only nine and had already suffered enough trauma and I was sure that her knowing the full truth now was only going to contribute more to her suffering the longer she was around me.
I truly didn't deserve her, I realised. I was nothing but an alien terrorist and criminal and I'd done unspeakable and unforgivable acts. And despite I hadn't wanted to because I had been forced against my will, I had to live with the consequences for it. Losing everybody in my life at some point was my reality and I had to accept that. Even if it wasn't now, it would eventually come about in the future when Lilo, Jumba and my family would die and I'd live on far longer due to my DNA.
I had no idea what to do with myself now – I really didn't. The only option left was to pack up my favourite belongings and stay in the ship with Jumba until the programming took hold. Lilo didn't want me anymore and I couldn't blame her.
It was just me and my father now, as it had been right from the beginning. Or so I thought.
As I was about to open the door to head back inside, my ears shot up as I heard a loud wail. It made every hair of my being stand on end and my muscles clench up from the sound of it; pure utter heartbreak, anguish and pain all mixed into one. It was like nothing I'd ever heard before. Even my most painful howls couldn't reach the level of heartbreak I was hearing.
Lilo had made that wail. And it had sounded far worse than anything I'd ever heard before from a human being. Pudge's death didn't begin to come close.
It was enough to shake me to the core.
I turned around slowly and before I knew what was happening, Lilo had torn down the stairs and threw her arms around me, so forcefully that we both fell over.
She continued that wail as she buried herself into me. I held her tightly. Finally she drew back. Her face was red and she was covered in mucus and tears from crying so hard but I barely noticed.
She sniffled. "I do still love you. I do, Stitch! That's never changed, and it never will change!" she cried.
"Neesa– " I started, but she put up a hand.
"It's just been a lot to deal with. I'm not sure how to handle dealing with it. But no matter how bad or horrible you've been in the past, you're not that alien anymore Stitch! I can't turn my back on you for it no matter how much it bothers me, because I KNOW you. I know you better than anybody, and I know you're not evil and that you've just had a lot of misfortune and bad stuff happen to you!"
I was quiet.
"I know you well enough to know that you wouldn't have wanted to hurt anybody, and as you said, those police and other aliens fired at you first, you had to defend yourself! Things being destroyed can be repaired but taking away a life can't, and you know that! Don't you!"
"That's why you didn't shoot first."
"And you only did it to make Jumba happy because you knew he wanted it."
Lilo hugged me again. "You were forced to do those horrible things. I still heard what Jumba said when I fainted. I was still aware. I heard everything, Stitch! Jumba was bad and he made you be bad too, but he also had a horrible life!"
"I should have listened to you. You were right all along about 621. I shouldn't have given him a chance..." She paused for a moment. "I forgive you. And I forgive Jumba."
My throat went tight. I couldn't stop myself from crying. "Lilo..."
"I love you. You're my angel too, Stitch. You always have been."
I held her close. We remained like that together. Lilo eventually stopped crying and she began stroking my head. She sat cuddled right up against me and held my paw firmly, her fingers interlaced with my claws. It was quiet between us for a while as we both just calmed down and dealt with what had just happened. I stroked her back gently with my lower left arm.
"I've never cared about you being different to me," she said quietly after a long quiet while had passed. "Because I don't see you as a dog. To me you're just like another person."
My ears pivoted. I was intrigued. "Huh?"
"You, Stitch," she continued. "You can talk and you can reason with me. You are smarter than me. I know you're more of an adult than I am despite being younger than me because of your intelligence too. And for that, I just can't see you as a dog at all. You just happen to look like one. But honestly? You're just like a furry human to me."
I laughed slightly. "Lilo see me as furry human?"
"Isn't that kid inside of you? Mitch?"
"Yes," I told her. "But I am still Stitch. Mitch is just a part of me because he ended up in me." I blew out of my mouth slightly, perplexed. "How am I like furry human, Lilo? I am an alien."
"Because you walk on two feet and you wear clothes."
"And the way you talk and reason is more human than alien. It's because of Mitch, right? If he wasn't in there do you think you'd be the same?"
I pondered on that. Jumba had made it very clear that I wasn't supposed to be able to defy him or rebel against his orders due to my biology.
"No. I think, I'd be 626. Very evil, very bad. I think... just very lucky."
"I think that too," Lilo told me, kissing the side of my head. "You're perfect. Even if you do have obnoxiously big ears that get in my face all the time and make it hard to see the TV."
"Rude!" I cried at her, but I laughed.
"But it's true!" she laughed too, gently tugging at my left ear. "They're huge!"
"Oh come on, they are not."
"Yes they are."
I would have rolled my eyes, but I just stuck my tongue out at her. She giggled. I slapped my ear against her face and she cried out in shock.
I gave her a massive lick across the face. "EW!" she shrieked. "There's snot all over me and you just ate it!"
"But I'm made of snot."
"Oh GROSS!" she cried, pushing me away. I snorted.
"Let me lick you! Isa tasty!"
"No that's so disgusting!"
She tried to get away from me but I just tackled her back onto the grass. "Stitch! No! NO!" she cried out between fits of laughter. I went to lick her and she cringed away from me but instead I just kissed her gently as she had done so to me back in the cruiser.
She went red. She closed her eyes and returned it gently.
She smiled up at me, putting her hands against my cheeks. "I love you."
My heart soared.
"I love you too."
I asked Jumba for some money shortly after that. He asked me what for, and I explained there was something special I wanted to do for my angel while I still had a chance to. Upon hearing what it was, he seemed reluctant for a moment but then he smiled at me.
"Remember when was saying you are pure, 626? This is good example. Expensive, yes, but I'm not going to deny it due to that when... well, money is not such big issue with money maker. And as you know, Jumba is being rich. Go for it."
He handed me a fair amount. The money maker was off limits until it was needed for important things like bills, but the family each had a small allowance from it for necessities and other things. Jumba had implemented this rule shortly after telling Nani about the machine. It was a safeguard for the family not becoming too carried away with spending and I knew why he'd done it – he didn't want a situation where unlimited money started to control the family, but also because each of the bills created were converted from his own savings. He'd explained this to Nani who had been reluctant to agree at first, but then she realised he was right when he told her it was his money initially. I knew it probably wouldn't ever come to such a thing, but humans were also unpredictable.
There was also the risk that somebody could catch on to vast amounts of money coming out of our home from seemingly nowhere and that would draw suspicion considering Nani, even with working for Mr Kuakini now, wouldn't make near as much as what the machine could provide. Nani had a lot of friends that visited, and they would pick up on things fast if Nani was suddenly buying expensive things. As good as having unlimited money sounded, it did have downsides and could very easily get out of control. Iwalani had also promised to keep it secret.
Jumba didn't want Nani to have to rely on the machine for everything because he knew there was a chance she'd become complacent and Nani had agreed it wasn't right for her to just stop working and make money by doing nothing, especially considering Jumba was giving her his money in a way. He'd built the machine solely for emergencies or debts.
He'd given this to me because he felt I deserved something, and I'd never asked him for anything like this before.
My father was limited on what he could and couldn't create under stipulation from the council so some of the devices he had were kept secret, like the mind eraser. The money maker was also one of them because if Cobra found out about it, it would be destroyed and my father would get into trouble with the council again.
After getting Jumba's approval for my plan, shortly after that I took Lilo by the hand. "Come. I want to go to mall."
"Oh. Okay then. Let me clean myself up."
I nodded. Lilo put her hand to my cheek, her warm brown eyes sparkling before she left me alone in the dome. I heard her have a quick shower before she eventually returned to me, dressed back in her purple mumu she'd worn that day we'd gone on a 'date'.
I looped my arm around hers. "Where are we going exactly?" she asked curiously.
I just smiled at her as we walked away from our home. As we walked up a street that was a shortcut to the mall, we paused for a moment as there was a massive hole in the middle of the road that I doubted had been there before. I frowned, pushing Lilo back slightly before going over to inspect. The hole was cornered off by construction tape to stop people from going near it but it was a poorly done job.
Was the concrete here really that weak? I analysed it, realising that it must have spread out from a manhole. I could see a ladder leading down into the darkness. The floods from the storms much have caused a lot more underlying damage than originally thought.
Lilo tried to peer over but I firmly held her back. "Naga. Don't want to fall again." As I said that, I felt a few bits of concrete crumble away underneath my foot and I instantly grabbed her, jumping back.
"How scary..." Lilo said upon seeing that. "Let's... let's get out of here Stitch..."
I just took her hand tightly and led her away from there.
In the mall, I led Lilo over to a jewellery store after a small walk through the food area. She looked surprised as she looked up at the entrance. "Here?" she asked me, and I nodded, holding open the door for her.
It was a small store and the owner did a double take at us, especially me. I just ignored him and looked around for what I had in mind, eventually spotting what I'd brought her there for in some glass casings near where the owner was standing. Lilo followed me and I pointed at what I was looking at.
She looked at them before looking at me. "What, these?"
I gave her a brief nod. I couldn't talk with the owner focusing on us, but then he got a phone call and was distracted.
"Pick one, Lilo. I want to buy one for you."
Her eyes widened. "What?! But they're so expensive!"
"No matter. Talked to Jumba about it."
"Stitch, no... really?"
I nodded. "Really."
Her eyes lit up. "Oh my gosh... they are so beautiful! Oh WOW! Look at that one!"
She pointed to a beautiful gold locket with a creamy-white casing. On the front of it was a blue diamond crested hibiscus.
"Want that one?" I asked her and she looked at me airly. "I... I could get it?"
The locket was fairly expensive. But I wanted this gift to be worthwhile. My father knew how I felt about Lilo. The owner finished on the phone and Lilo got his attention.
"I'd like to try that one on!" she told him, and he opened up he casing to pull out the locket. Lilo picked it up and gazed at it. I helped her put it around her neck (the owner stared at me in disbelief) and she walked over to a mirror to have a look.
"Wow..." she breathed. "It's so beautiful..."
I smiled at her. She took it off and stared at it in her hands.
"Sure that one? Want to look more?" I asked her quietly and she shook her head quickly.
"No. This one. Just this one."
We headed back over to the owner and he began to process the sale. When he mentioned the price Lilo's jaw dropped.
"It's four hundred and twenty five. Are your parents here?"
Lilo just stared at me. "No... they are dead," she muttered but I think she was too shocked at the price to realise what she had actually said and how it must've sounded.
"Oh gosh, I'm sorry..." the owner said, looking awkward. "Well, do you have a guardian?"
Lilo barely acknowledged him. I just put up my paw and pulled out the money, giving him what he needed. He went to question me but I gave him a 'look' and he didn't choose to question it further. Once the locket was inside of a protective case he handed it to me in a small bag.
"Thanks..." he muttered. I nodded in thanks back at him and led Lilo out of there, who was still dazed.
I could see the owner quickly pick up the phone as we left and I hurried away from there with my angel. I knew he was probably going to tell somebody else about me and what had just happened. My angel eventually started to come out of her shock when we reached the entrance to the mall.
"Wait, Stitch! That was so much money! Are you sure it's okay?"
"Lilo, relax..." I soothed her, rubbing her arms. "I talked to Jumba. He fine with it. Wanted me to do this."
"But Nani doesn't have much money, when she hears about this she'll–"
"Lucha, Lilo," I told my angel, taking her hands into my paws. "You've done so much for me in my life, ih? You've given me a home and loved me. Changed me. And, give me this," I pulled out the medal-of-honour around my neck. "-And this..." I also pulled out Ku-Tiki from my pocket. "So, isa right for Stitch to give back. Jumba not allow big purchases unless is really important, ih? He consider this important."
"He will talk to her about it, no worry. I did this for you and pa not question it, money not issue to him Lilo, he rich. Pleechi-ba turn around."
"But Stit– "
She gave up, but sighed happily. I took out the locket and clasped it around her neck. A few tears fell from her eyes and she held it in her fingers, watching the blue hibiscus's diamonds reflect in the afternoon sun.
"Just promise meega, take good care of it. Cost not matter so much as seeing you happy does."
"I will. I promise," she breathed out slowly and flicked it open, staring into it. "I'm putting a picture of you in there and I'll keep it with me always."
The locket only had room for one picture inside of it and I was honoured she wanted to use one of me. It touched me deeply and I smiled happily at her, putting my paw to her cheek.
"That way, you'll be with me no matter how far apart we may be." She returned my smile.
I hugged her tightly. As we left the mall, I plucked a hibiscus from a nearby bush and put it behind her ear.
When we arrived home, Nani and David were in the living area. Lilo and I had been holding hands. Normally she would let go as soon as she was aware of others about, but this time I noticed she didn't. Nani noticed it as well. I was afraid she was going to say something upon seeing our hands locked tightly but she didn't.
She didn't speak for a few moments and my ears perked when she did.
"Sit down, you two."
Lilo and I sat down on the couch. Lilo refused to let go of my paw.
"Jumba had a talk to me just before. Is that the locket you bought her?"
I nodded. She walked over to Lilo and looked at it. "This is beautiful. What made you buy it though, Stitch?"
I bit my lip at hearing that. Nani had no idea of the extent that I liked Lilo. Jumba knew, of course, but I'd been afraid of Nani finding out and how she would react, considering I wasn't human.
"Special to me," I simply responded. It was the truth, after all. "Make me Stitch."
Nani nodded before sitting down again. "How much was it?"
"Four hundred twenty five."
I looked away. "Soka. But wanted to do this, Jumba okay with it."
"I see," she responded. "Normally I would disagree with how much you spent but it's also not my decision to make, considering the machine is Jumba's."
"Nani married." I pointed out.
"Spent lot of money on that, ih? Jumba made machine to help with debts and bills. Stitch never asked ever for anything, only this."
She looked confused. I elaborated.
"Stitch want to get Lilo special gift for all times Lilo give gift to Stitch." I showed her the medal-of-honour and her expression softened. "Special ring to Lilo, parents. Wanted me to have. So I do same for her."
"I see. Well, Lilo. You better take care of it, you hear?"
"Of course I will Nani. This means the world to me, just like Stitch does."
Nani stared at me at that before sighing. "You know we need to talk, right? So, let's talk."
I knew what this was about. I looked away for a moment before looking back to her.
"Lilo spoke to me before. A lot of things. She was really scared from what she heard last night. I had no idea the extent of what your father suffered through was that bad, Stitch, and Jumba was right in that nothing could ever compare. Nothing on this planet, at least as far as humans go. We have war and terrorism but only a nuclear bomb would be capable of wiping out an entire city. It's still hard to imagine you did such a thing, Stitch. Just you and the fact that you were capable of it. But seeing you change, and how you appeared... I have no reason to doubt both of you are lying."
"Naga..." I said quietly.
Nani put her hand to her head. "What Jumba did to you was terrible and abusive. I'm sure you're smart enough to know that. He killed you, Stitch. And you also killed innocent... people? Aliens? But you were forced to. I am aware of that."
"Over the past three years that you've lived with us, I have seen you for who you are, Stitch and I truly meant what I said about how I felt when you stayed home with me. Had you two never come clean I would never have imagined in a million years that was the past you had. You were rightfully banished. But I can also see how hard Jumba has tried to improve and be better; he's done so much to this place and helped me out so much after all. Without him here, I don't think anything would be able to get done. He repaired the roof after the storm because he wanted to. He's fixed the kitchen up numerous times in the same way. He did all the maintenance in the garden and never expected any compensation for it from me or David."
David nodded in agreement.
"So, it would be wrong to kick you out. And we both agreed on that. I know how much Lilo needs you and I just want my little sister to be happy, because if you weren't here she would go right back to how she was before, and I don't think any of us would be able to reach her. Also, knowing Lilo she would ultimately find a way to get to you again by running away when I'm not aware of it."
"So my decision is that I will allow you both to remain here as family for as long as you wish to. But on one condition."
"What is that?" I asked quietly.
"No more secrets. And I mean it. So if there is anything left that you haven't told us about Stitch, now is the time to do it."
I sighed. "Ih. There is..." I said, looking away from her.
"Go on then."
I drew in a breath to answer her and start to explain what I'd told Lilo before, but the phone rang and interrupted us. Nani looked a little annoyed at that but went to answer it.
David looked at me. "Nani has been able to put everything behind, Stitch. I had a very long chat with her about everything that happened. She knows it's best if we want to move forth as a family. We just need you and your father to respect us too by being open and honest. Money was the prime factor in making her behave how she did, and stress, as you know... but now that things are looking up, she has been able to relax more and I hope you understand what she did ultimately wasn't because she was angry at you Stitch."
I sighed. "I know, she mad from stress. But, she mad at me for scaring her, and how I act. I can tell."
David sighed. "Well, yes, indeed. The stress made it worse of course but I assure you, she is trying her best to put it behind now. She knows how she was to you and is very remorseful and wants to make it up to you. And hopefully you will see that. Both you and your father."
Lilo squeezed my paw.
"Ih... is okay," I told David. "Stitch glad things looking up."
"We are too."
Nani appeared back in the doorway at that moment, looking frantic. I could hear her heart racing.
"What's wrong?" David asked. I perked up my ears, feeling a bit worried seeing her reaction.
"That was Mr. Kuakini. I couldn't make out much, but I think something collapsed in the store. He called us because he knows Stitch would be the only one strong enough to help. I'm not sure if he's okay, but I think we should get over there. Lilo, stay here with Jumba and Pleakley."
"I'll start the car," David said, grabbing the keys and heading out.
"Stitch!" Lilo cried after me. Making sure Nani was out of the door, I turned and pulled her in for a quick kiss. "Nani right, stay here. I'll be back soon, I promise. Love you, boochibu."
"Wait! What does that mean?" Lilo called after me, but I'd already gone out of the door.