PART 1. Bittersweet goodbyes

There they were. The red spaceship rose higher into the sky, sweeping through the clouds. The farther it got, the tinier the planet Earth started to look. Jumba was steering, Pleakley was sitting next to him, holding the rock Lilo gave tightly in his hand and Stitch was looking from the window with thoughtful eyes. So these were the goodbyes. Goodbyes to Earth, to that lovely little house in Kauai, to those two sisters living there, to each other. Oh the bittersweet goodbyes.

"Stitch... sad", Stitch said quietly without turning to look two other aliens. Pleakley nodded in agreement and Jumba closed his rearmost eyes. "Yes. Very sad, leaving everything behind. But think positive, look what is being in future." he said, not only to Stitch and Pleakley, but to himself too. Pleakley smiled at this, his companion made everything better, including this difficult moment. Yes, that's what they got to do. Think about all the good things ahead, without forgetting good things in the past. After all, all of their dreams would now come true! "Okay dokey, one last glance" Jumba said and everyone turned to stare at its blue beauty for a passing moment. The spaceship started hyperspeed and the Earth disappeared from view in a blink of an eye.

"Approaching the first stop now," Jumba declared as the first stop, B.R.B, appeared in the window, "626, this is your stop". Stitch ran to the front window of their ship, waving his tail like a dog (old habits die hard) and as he saw his new "Big Red Battleship", his face lifted up. It was already waiting for Her new captain. He looked at Pleakley and Jumba, who smiled gently at him. "Oh, Little monster, you're not that bad.", Pleakley said and patted Stitch on his head, and as the little guy jumped to hug him his smile grew and he continued: "I'm going to miss you, but remember to behave! Don't drive too fast with that ship of yours..." Then he gave Stitch to Jumba, who fatherly took him in his arms and closed him in an embrace. "My little creation, Jumba is being very proud of you. You are going to be great captain to B.R.B., now go and start making everyone else proud too... And don't you listen to Pleakley, drive as fast as you can!"

"Ih! Jumba and Pleakley always 'ohana!"

Pleakley couldn't help but get a bit teary eyed at their little conversation, he knew that Jumba was basically a father to Stitch, maybe not completely, and maybe not always admitting it, but still was.

The two aliens watched as their blue friend walked away and waved his paw one last time. "There he goes", Pleakley noted, "Is... my planet next?" His voice was much more quiet this time, like he was scared of asking it. Jumba suddenly felt a pain in his heart, like it was breaking just hearing those words. But he tried to hide it. This was important to Pleakley, he had always dreamed of being professor in G.A.C.C. "Yes, is being next stop. But still some time to go there, why don't you relax and eat something, must be hungry, no? I can hear your little tummy growling." Pleakley tilted his head. "But I don't have any food left."

"Jumba... um, made something for you. Is on my bag." There was a bit embarrassed tone in his voice. Pleakley's eye widened. He put a hand over his mouth, hiding behind it with a very touched look in his face. "You made food... for me?" He walked over to Jumba's bag and found a lunchbox. Inside was a toast with honey marmalade on it and some fresh berries on side.

"Aww... Thank you Jumba. I love it." he said and took a bite from it. Crispy and yummy, indeed. Slowly he lifted his head up to face Jumba, who was silently driving the ship. Pleakley's voice turned to whisper when he added: "I love you."

But Jumba heard it, of course. And of course he knew it. And oh, of course he loved him back. It's not like it was the first time those words were exchanged. "I love you too, Pleakley." he responded, not so quietly as the Plorgonarian.

"Is this all going to end? Will I... will that be the last time I hear you say those words?" Pleakley asked with tears falling from his eye as he chewed the bread and held it with both hands. Little one is always so emotional... Jumba thought to himself, but of course he was worried too.

Now Jumba had to stop the ship and leave it floating for a moment. His dearest was crying for the second time now... Well actually quite an achievement. He immediately walked next to Pleakley and embraced him comfortingly. "No, little one, no."

Pleakley looked up to Jumba and he had this innocent, confused look in his eye. "Then why are we leaving each other?"

Jumba didn't have an answer to that at first. He was silent for a moment and just caressed Pleakleys' antennae because he knew it made him feel good. And it did, Pleakley sighed in pleasure. Then Jumba started to talk with that soft voice only Pleakley had heard: "Because we love each other. Love is holding on, but also letting go, no? Jumba never knew it, never understood love, but then you taught me that as its best, love can be worth all the confusion. And it stays in heart forever, even when we are being apart, understand?"

That didn't stop Pleakley's crying. It made his tears fall even quicker and he started to sob as well. But they were now bittersweet tears, he understood what Jumba meant. "Y-You're right. You'll... you'll always remember me, right? And we can always v-visit each other?"

Jumba smiled, lifted Pleakley's head with his hand and softly kissed him on his forehead. "Always." When the smaller alien heard that meaningful word, his breath became steadier and he closed his eye, nestling against his beloved one.

For a moment they just stayed like that. Then Jumba cleared his throat, making sure he was able to speak properly. "Must be heading back to steer," he declared. It happened much sooner than Pleakley would have hoped. As the bigger one let go of him and made his way back to drivers place, the Plorgonarian watched every move the Kweltikwanian made, like taking mental pictures to keep in his memories. Jumba was absolutely right: love is letting each other follow their own path. But Pleakley was so happy that for many wonderful years their paths had been collided. About half an hour went before Pleakleys' new home planet came to sight. Pleakley grinned beautifully as he saw it. Oh, what amazing things about Earth he would share with his students! Suddenly he felt a gentle hand reaching to hold his hand. "When Jumba thought he knew almost everything, certain one-eyed wonder came to my life. You have taught so many things to this evil genius: about life, about place I first called 'a poor pitiful planet'. I know you are going to surprise everyone." Pleakley leaned on Jumba, he felt so touched by his lovers words that his worries seemed to vanish, at least for now. "Aww, thank you darling! Hehe, I'm glad that a certain four-eyed wonder came to my life, too, and helped me to find myself and accepted me, all of me. You're the best friend I could ever have..."

"Same goes to you, my little one." Jumba felt Pleakley's heartbeats fastening, he knew that nickname made his two hearts melt like an ice cream in the heat of the summer sun. "Guess you are supposed to be going now?" Jumba asked.

"Y-yeah... right. Of course", Pleakley said quickly and let go of Jumbas' hand. Everything was letting go at the moment -letting go of Jumba, the sound of his voice, the feel of his skin, that devious smile... "Goodbye, Jumba", Pleakley said and felt drowned in his lovers four eyes.

Jumba realized it all too well now. What could a simple 'good bye' do to poor scientists' heart! "Good bye, Pleakley. I'll call-" Before he could finish, Pleakleys' lips were on his, kissing him passionately. Not for the first time -hopefully not for the last either. Jumba responded the kiss and closed all his eyes. For a moment there was just the two of them, the wide galaxy, stars and comets soaring upon, and no bittersweet goodbyes. As they once again let go of something -each others' lips, Pleakley added a little reminder: "Try not to blow up your lab all the time."

Then he walked off with a look in his eye that said 'I can do this'.