Softly As I Leave You

"Stitch … sorry."Those words echoed in the mind of Experiment 626 as his fingers fell from the glass, as he breathed his last.

Here it would come … oblivion. At least now Lilo wouldn't be hurt anymore. He wouldn't be there to make any mistakes, to break her life with his inescapable bad. He'd just … fade away …

So … why wasn't he fading away?

Stitch's eyes fluttered open as coolness fluttered over his being. His weakness was gone, replaced by … stillness. He wasn't hyper, he wasn't tired. He just … was. With no discomfort or difficulty, he sat up and looked around.

He was surrounded by … clouds? A quick look down showed what looked like simple brown stone, all surrounded by softly-glowing white clouds. Was he on a mountain? Stitch stood up, not shaky and not quick. Just … stood up. What was happening here?

Stitch had heard of the Earth belief in a place that came after death. They called it "heaven." Jumba had always laughed it off as unprovable, and thus not worth his time. Pleakley had loved the idea in an afterlife, even if he doubted it was all clouds and rainbows. Lilo believed in it … and Stitch had never really thought about it beyond that.

Was he in heaven? No, that didn't make sense! He was bad, he'd broken things and ruined family night and scratched Lilo. But … the clouds made it look an awful lot like heaven.

"He-hello?" Sitch asked. No answer.

Stitch swallowed thickly, lacing his fingers as he usually did when upset. He wasn't angry — some part of him doubted it was possible to be angry here. He just … was. Was this a punishment for his badness. To spend eternity here alone?

Before Stitch could dwell on that possibility, the sound of falling gravel caught his ears. "Hello?" Stitch asked.

There was no more noise, but two shadows appeared in the mist, slowly drawing closer. Stitch took a step back, suddenly uneasy. The shadows drew silently closer, gaining more and more definition. Finally, two figures emerged … and Stitch gasped.

The figures were a man and a woman. And though he had never met them, Stitch knew who they were. The man had a close-cropped hair and an easy-going grin, while the woman's hair fell in soft waves that framed a soft, motherly smile. They were dressed in white, a button up and pants for the man and a sundress for the woman. The man favored Lilo, while the woman was all but identical to Nani.

These were … Lilo and Nani's parents.

"Hello, Stitch," Mrs. Pelekai said, kneeling down to his level.

"It's good to finally meet you, little guy," Mr. Pelekai greeted, lowering himself to one knee.

Stitch clasped his hands tighter and took another step back, head bowed in shame. "Stitch sorry," he whispered. "Stitch … bad."

Stitch started at the feeling of faint pressure under his chin, guiding his gaze back up to the Pelekais. "It wasn't your fault, Stitch," Mrs. Pelekai said softly. And somehow, he knew without a doubt that she was right. "You were only sick. But that sickness has passed. You'll be alright."

"Alright?" Stitch asked. But … he was dead, right?

"Nah, this isn't the end, Bud," Mr. Pelekai chuckled. "Just a little taste of the afterlife. You'll be going back soon enough."

Stitch thought it over for a moment, and decided he was happy. If he wasn't bad, like the Pelekais said, then he was happy to return home to Lilo and the rest. They were his ohana. "Ohana means family," Stitch said slowly, just as he had to Nani after Lilo had been taken, before they had gotten her back. "Family means …"

"No one gets left behind …" Mr. Pelekai finished proudly, "... or forgotten." He chuckled and tousled Stitch's head. "Glad to see I did something right with the girls."

Mrs. Pelekai snorted at her husband's antics and looked Stitch in the eyes. "You'll be going back to them soon, Stitch. Thank you."

Stitch titled his head in confusion. "For what?"

"For looking out for our girls," she answered. Mrs. Pelekai stood and scooped Stitch up in her arms, Mr. Pelekai crowding in to complete a group hug. "No matter what happens, you are ohana to us as well." A tear traced down her cheek. "You're our son."

Stitch felt his eyes water as he held tight to both of them.

"And tell the girls," Mr. Pelekai said, "we're so proud of them, too."

Stitch watched as the two slowly faded into the clouds. The surroundings drew closer, inexorably but not threateningly. Stitch felt his eyes droop, like he was sleepy. He slowly descended back into nothingness …

Stitch's awareness slowly crawled back. The first thing he heard was … crying. Familiar crying — Lilo crying. He felt her arms around him, the cold point of her tear on his chest.

With his little strength , he moved his hand over hers. Her crying stopped.

"Stitch, not bad," Stitch said, eyes fluttering open. "Stitch … fluffy!"

"Stitch!" Lilo cried, joy in her voice.

Before he knew it, Stitch was wrapped up in a hug by his ohana. And some part of him, a part that remembered his little "trip" felt two extra pairs of arms around him. "Thank you … son."

A single tear fell from Stitch's eye as his heart felt warmer than ever before. Because in that moment, he knew Lilo had been right. Love was more powerful than death.

And not just his own ...

After watching "Stitch Has A Glitch", I wondered what would have happened if Stitch had had a near-death experience. This is the result of that line of thought. Leave a review if you like it!