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Jhua Tehrqua

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Stitch sits on her bed. He's done that a lot in the years he's known her. Earth years. It's only been about a year and a half on the planet he came from, but measuring time in twelve months and a steady progression of holidays is normal to him now.

He sits on her bed and he waits.

The door slides back and she punches the holographic buttons to have it slide back and lock behind her.

Stitch's ears flatten back a little against his head at the sound and he inclines his head forward. He breathes in deeply just once and he doesn't smell anything particularly strange on her. When she smiles at him he's finally a little relieved.

He worries sometimes. Even thinking about that worry makes him press his middle-two limbs together, wringing together his hands or his paws or whatever they are. He thinks they're hands but some people he knows call them paws. He doesn't know, really.

For his near-boundless capacity to learn, there are a lot of things he just doesn't know.

“How...” he begins a question. He drags out the English word, searching through his programmed vocabulary and the language he had picked up upon coming to Earth. He doesn't know what he's going to ask, just that it's better than some of the alternatives that make Lilo angry. Some other questions like: Where were you? or What were you doing? or, worst of all, Who were you with?

Lilo looks at him as she takes off an identification badge and sets it down on her desk/vanity's surface with a little metallic click. She reaches up and lets down a part of her hair that had been pushed back, this time with a fake flower instead of the real ones that her sister had sometimes used, back on Earth.

“—How is the ship?” Stitch finishes. He makes a happy little face, patient and quiet as he nods preemptively, trying to welcome her response.

Lilo blinks at him and he's pretty sure she's a little bit surprised. It makes him sad, a little, in a way he can't explain. But he can't really expect anything else. They've had hard times a lot lately.

“It's good,” she promises him. “Why, are you worried about something?” she asks, and he can tell he's engaged her interest.

He throws up his hands to demonstrate open little palms with the splaying out of his claws. He's letting go of any notion he has as much as telling her he doesn't know. The truth is, things like spaceships are the only things that come easy to him since he's not actually particularly interested in destroying anything. They have clear blueprints, clear manuals, and only so many ways of working. They were built—just like him.

But he doesn't have a job on a spaceship. No one thinks he needs a job, an assignment, a station. He's a pet. And worse, in the eyes of a lot of people out here who don't know anything about a pet registration form in the state of Hawaii, he's a monster.

“Okay,” Lilo says, and he hates the way she's doubting him with her tone, but he smooths out the covers anyway on her side of the bed. He's glad she came home—back to her room—tonight. There have been a few times lately when she hasn't. When he sees her again she smells differently. She hasn't told him yet about the person from Sector L. She hasn't told him and he won't ask. Not directly. It makes her hurt or angry and he doesn't want that. “How was your day?”

“It was... good,” Stitch allows. There was nothing bad about it. He sits down deliberately and waits, tilted forward with two of his front limbs touching down between the ones on which he usually stands—sitting like an actual dog white he waits.

Lilo is brushing her hair when she sits down on the foot of the bed.

“You seem sad,” she points out.

It's strange, how Lilo mentioning that he seems sad actually sends a flood of warmth through his body, lifting his body temperature happily a few degrees. He forgets how they measure it here, so he doesn't try to quantify exactly how much. The pitch of his voice lifts ever so slightly when he responds.

“No,” he tells her gently. One hand sweeps in a gentle, slow arc parallel with the bed's surface. He scrapes one claw along the blanket, just feeling the texture's feedback a little without causing a tear. “Stitch not sad.”

“Yes you are,” Lilo argues, cooing over him a little as she sets her hairbrush aside. She turns to face him, sitting at the end of the bed still but up on her knees. She's much taller than him this way—and in every way these days.

“Stitch just... bored,” he explains, nodding vehemently.

“How can I help?” Lilo asks, earnest.

Stitch shakes his head.

“No. No help.”

“Stitch,” Lilo complains.

He looks down as he sits up, elongating his spine so all four of his upper limbs are free. He clasps both sets of hands together.

“No help. Just... stay.”


“Stay... with me. It's lonely... at nights.”

“Oh,” Lilo says and then she looks away, off to the side. She kneads her lower lip with her teeth. “Well, I'm right here, Stitch,” she says.

He thinks he's embarrassed her.

“Stitch ask a question,” he says, requests, only as Lilo gets up to finish her human rituals involved with getting ready for bed. She slips away around a corner to brush her teeth. She doesn't really slip around a corner to change her clothes. Stitch hasn't really ever understood why some humans do that since he doesn't really wear clothes very often. He knows he's got more hair than they do. There are a lot of things he still doesn't know about humans, but he'd seen Lilo change clothes for years. When she got a little bit older she'd just made him promise to always look at a corner or the ceiling. He's never broken his promise.

“Go ahead,” Lilo says softly.

“Lilo going to leave me for person from Sector L?” he asks.

“What?” Lilo asks and she comes to stand right beside him, looking down. She's glaring a little and he leans back against the bed, making himself a little small. His ears are tucked back again and he lifts one palm to wave at her submissively.

“No, no. Lilo misunderstand. Stitch want to know if... if... Lilo gets... married. If Lilo meets person. Like Nani and David on Earth... Is Stitch wrong? Being here? Is... Stitch in the way?”

He is almost curled into a ball by the time he finishes asking. He doesn't know how to fill in the gaps, doesn't know the right questions to ask. It's why he'd promised himself he'd never do it, but he can't keep all is promises. He squints his big black eyes at her, just keeping them cracked open. There's a sudden movement and he shuts them tight even though she's never, ever hurt him on purpose. He's so afraid. He doesn't want to leave again, and space is a lot colder than Hawaii at night.

“What? No. Xinga is just... somebody I'm seeing,” Lilo insists, and he thinks she's moving her arms but he doesn't see it. Then he's being lifted up and he opens his eyes wide. She's cradling him. Like a baby. He knows that. He's seen it. She used to be just his size. He squirms around a little bit to adjust and looks up into her eyes.

“But Lilo see Stitch, too.”

Lilo frowns at him. But then she starts to smile.

“No. No. Not like that.”

“Okay,” Stitch allows. He trusts her. He still doesn't know the right questions to ask. “Lilo stay?”

“Tonight. And even if I'm not here... you can always find me. I'm never going to leave you all alone. You're my family.”

“Okay,” Stitch agrees, nodding quickly.

“Okay,” Lilo says back to him. She moves him in her arms and then he's set free on his side of the bed. “You ready to go to sleep?”

“Yeah,” Stitch gurgles softly as he flops himself underneath the covers.

When Lilo's in bed too, she tugs him a little closer until his forehead touches her chin. He growls softly but it's not an angry sound. It's more a purr and it lasts for a long, long time in his throat.

“Jhua Tehrqua,” he says eventually, and then he falls asleep.