Bridget works every spare second she has to finish the honeycomb throw in time for Kiza and sneaks in just under the wire.
Talking Stinger into helping arrange the party is the tough part. He and Kiza have never been into tersie festivities. But what father can resist a celebration of his beloved daughter?
Opting to keep it a simple affair, they invite Tsing (who was unable to make it), Gage and family, and Jupiter and Caine.
As Stinger and Bridget put up decorations, the bees are unsure what to think of the strange paper streamers in the house. All very curious and excited, massive amounts of them are buzzing about and tasting the pretty colored papers. A few leaf cutter bees even take samples. Stinger huffs and collects representatives of each hive to have a chat with them about keeping it toned down for the party. The bees may play with the ornaments afterward. If they promise to behave, he’ll leave a bit of ice cream outside for them too. And Bridget volunteers to make a few streamer paper flowers for them to have outdoors. Putting a hand on her shoulder he grumbles before grabbing a balloon to blow up, “You spoil them.”
“All work and no play you know…” she compares the bees to kids, “But I do have to ask, who was it that volunteered to give them ice cream?”
Mid balloon inflation, he pinches the end closed and counters, “Who’s part bee, here?”
Seeing her stick her tongue out in his direction, he lets the balloon go and she ducks. The loud puttering noise scares the bees and many hide while a few go on the offensive and that balloon will never hold air again. He shushes the would be attackers, scoops up the dying who attacked - giving them a little regenex for healing (now that he has plenty again), then sends them all outside with a warning there may be other loud noises. The bees have met all the visitors that are coming so there’s no need to be such nosey little things.
“It always amazes me how such a gruff old soldier can care so much for his bees,” she remarks fondly.
“They’re kin,” He shrugs it off as if that explains it all. Bridget’s become fond of the bees and they seem to accept her, but she doesn’t understand them like Stinger.
After Bridget’s help getting ready for the party, Kiza makes her entrance a bit shyly down the staircase. She’s wearing a pastel sundress, a lace shawl just covering her shoulders and her hair up - cascading curls framing her face with little blue and yellow flowers interwoven in it. The combo really shows off her light skin, elegant neckline, and perfect features. Gage gapes, Caine and Gage’s dad whistle, and Stinger swallows - still wondering when his baby girl turned into such a beautiful woman.
Sitting between Gage and Stinger, she takes her fiance’s offered hand and nudges her dad affectionately.
Jupiter is given photographer duties and Bridget brings out the gifts. Dismissing Kiza’s, “You shouldn’t have,” Briget places a gift in front of her. It’s from Stinger. When she opens it and finds a deed emblazoned with a little crowned bee on it, she looks to him a rather puzzled.
“It was your mother’s. She said to give it to you when you came into your own,” he explains. “I’ll tell you more about the chateau on Orus later.”
Running her fingers over the delicate design, she closes her eyes and thinks of her splicer that she’s not seen in over 30 years. Then she kisses his cheek. “Thanks Da.”
Gage’s present is next. As she opens it, he comments, “Your father told me about your custom for the man to give a representation of his family and his heart.” Her eyes sparkle and she wonders if her father told Gage the whole meaning behind it. He helps her put on the gold necklace with a bee on a hazel leaf. “It represents us - my family and yours together.”
“Nice touch,” Stinger gives his approval and winks to Bridget who’s wearing the bee necklace from him. He doesn’t remember giving it to her since it happened before the memory wipe, but likes to see her wearing it none the less.
Gage’s parents give her depression glass pieces in her favorite pattern from his mom’s own collection. From Jupiter and Caine she receives the concealable off world Roulan Z238 pistol with shoulder holster. Gleefully, she disassembles and reassembles it expertly right there in front of everyone and Gage is speechless with admiration. He knows she is familiar with firearms, but his level of respect for his fiance just went up several notches. And besides - the gun’s ammo glows.
She mentions to Stinger, “Mum wouldn’t have approved of me learning to shoot, would she?”
Sticking out his bottom lip a bit, he shakes his head. “ Why do ye think I taught ye? Knew ye’d be a natural.”
Playfully she shoves him, “Da… ”
Finally, Bridget sets the completed honeycomb and bee afghan in her lap tied with a ribbon. “For welcoming me so warmly into this house.”
Kiza undoes the bundle and nuzzles the blanket that has so much love and work put into it, then hugs Bridget. “ You’re the sister I always wished I had.”
Next Bridget brings in the cake and everyone but Caine and Stinger (who don’t know the song) sing Happy Birthday. Jupiter tells Kiza to make a wish.
“I wish Mum could be here too,” she whispers - not knowing that the wish should be kept secret.
Sighing, Stinger puts a hand on her shoulder.