[AN: Ask, and you shall receive. Eventually]
Things were... okay. Sure, having a bigger family helped in certain areas. There were more hands to pay for everything, but there were also more mouths to feed. They struggled, here and there, but in the end, it was... okay. They managed.
And then it was time for Lilo to go to college. She applied for every scholarship fund that could plausibly fit. Applied to every college that might allow her to work on a shoestring budget.
And one after the other, they all said 'no'. Even with Cobra Bubbles pulling a few strings. Lilo was rejected. It didn't matter that she was smart. It didn't matter that she was determined. All that mattered was that they said 'no'.
And then Pleakley pulled a string. It went all the way up. Past the moon and the planets, past some stars. All the way to the High Chancellor of the Galactic Union. She arrived in her personal yacht and gave Lilo a crash course on Galactic ways, some student uniforms, and a free pass to the Galactic Armada Community College. And she gave one to Stitch, since he had reformed and learned along with Lilo.
There were a lot of catch-up courses in her first semester. Designed for the more... remedial areas of the Union to make sure that everyone was on the same page.
Lilo took to galactic tech like a duck to water, and spent most of her trip back to the fleet with her nose pressed close to a reader screen, absorbing everything she could about her new world. It might have been more exciting to be the first native Hawaiian in space if it was actually on the records as such.
And her first day was no picnic.
Lilo was used to people murmuring about her. People like Myrtle never really stopped. They just got more subtle about their basic hatred. The only difference was what they were murmuring.
Stitch had all his arms and his antennae out. He no longer had to look like some kind of dog. But he also liked to ride piggyback so Lilo had him up on her shoulders as a matter of course.
The aliens - the Galactics - all knew Stitch on sight as 626. She'd have to work on that at a later date. But when they were talking about her...
They called her names, of course. Nothing new. "Mosquito fodder" and "hairless ape" were the most common ones. "Ooka ook" popped up a lot, too. Lilo pretended she didn't hear them.
She took her notes in her own alphabet. Translating things to and from Galactic Script and language was a task that took most of her time, still. And she took her notes by hand. On paper. Some were laughing, but it was the method she was most used to. She knew she would ease into the new ways over time.
But not fast enough for some.
"Hey, blood-bag," said a shiny-looking cadet in the Advanced Program. "What's with the cellulose? Bringing me a snack?"
Lilo quickly shoved her notes into her pack. "If I brought you a snack, that'd mean I liked you. And we'd have to kiss," she chirped. "Sure you want to date an ape?"
His friends laughed at him. Lilo used the confusion to make good her escape.
Galactic food was... interesting. Lilo picked the things that looked and smelled most edible, and gathered a sample of things that at least looked tempting.
And once again the shiny cadet had to invade her space. "So, ah... which one of you is the pet?"
Some people, Lilo knew, were determined to be assholes. She dug the tasty innards out of a cooked bug-thing in a meaningful way. "I could put a collar and leash on you," she offered. "Are you sure you don't find me irresistible?"
And on it went. Lilo blew through her catch-up courses in record time. Then the basic training. Then the advanced training.
Humans were not as delicate as Pleakley had assumed. In fact, compared to a large number of alien species... Humans were space orcs. It was only a matter of months before Lilo was up against the shiny carapace of Cadet K'Tzz. Who tried everything to sabotage her, but kept failing. Intensely.
But it was when a nearby star went nova, during a training course, that Lilo truly shone. She took the helm whilst everyone was panicking and rode a wave of expelled stellar debris out of the danger zone. Saving hundreds of lives. Including K'Tzz's.
"You're a backworlder," K'Tzz howled. "How could you know such an advanced navigation tactic?"
Lilo shrugged. "It's just like surfing at home. My sister's way better at it. She's a gold medalist."
K'Tzz, for a change, was struck dumb. Looking back at the dying star and over to Lilo in oscillating confusion. He finally turned to Stitch. "Humans practice that?"
"Yah," said Stitch, who was never one for words. "One person scale. Every day."
"That wasn't even a big wave," scoffed Lilo. "Baby stuff."
K'Tzz... stopped bothering Lilo after that day.