Nova is rambling, a desperate bid for more time with Mercury. Her parents have secluded themselves to the bedroom, and Solaris and Luna have escorted Elysia home, promising Polaris that they would make sure she rested. Elysia, on the other hand, grabbed a spare notebook and pen before leaving so she could jot down some notes on the car ride home. She’s already constructing a prize-winning article in her mind; she has no time for rest.
“I have many other fine qualities,” Mercury says, “if you can get past my social ineptitude.” He delivers those words with the cadence of a joke, so Nova laughs a forced laugh. Mercury, on the other hand, looks confused. They stand awkwardly for a moment staring at each other before Zenith clears his throat.
“It’s late,” Zenith has decided that sticking to the facts is the best way to make his point.
“Oh. Yeah, I guess it is,” Mercury blinks, “that’s a cue for me to leave, isn’t it?”
“Maybe,” Zenith can’t commit fully to a tough persona. He’d like to get along with everyone, and he knows Mercury has helped his family, but he still doesn’t trust him. Mercury could have gotten his sister killed—in Zenith’s opinion that cancels out his heroics.
“I’ll see you around,” Mercury promises. He looks at her momentarily and hesitates as if he’s thinking of saying something else. Ultimately, he gives an uncomfortable wave and jogs down the front steps and to his truck. Nova watches as he leaves.
“That guy seems like a real douche,” Zenith remarks once Mercury is out of earshot.
“Yeah,” Nova says absently, “what a douche.”
The twins quietly sneak back into the house and up the stairs to their respective rooms. They don’t want to disturb their parents, who have been locked in the master bedroom for almost an hour at this point. But Polaris and Crux are fast asleep. She hasn’t slept this easily in years. Even with Crux’s straggly hair tickling her nose, she doesn’t stir.
It’s strange how life can return to normal so quickly. The twins continue their education, and Nova soon picks up a new hobby after a food activist comes to speak to her class. She takes over the family’s garden, enforcing a strict organic code.
“Commercial produce is contaminated with pesticides and toxins,” she informs her brother as she weeds the garden, “this is a lot healthier.”
“Is that so?” Zenith can’t really be bothered to engage. He has too much homework to do, and it always takes him so long to finish it.
Nova silently yanks at weeds, enjoying the crunching sound as she rips them out of the ground. After a moment, she turns and looks at her brother.
“Do you think I’m pretty?”
Zenith rolls his eyes, “you’re my sister.”
“I know, dummy. But am I pretty?”
“Yeah, I guess you’re cute,” he shrugs.
But cute isn’t good enough for Nova. That evening, she examines herself in the mirror. She cringes as she looks at her reflection. Why didn’t anyone tell her that her hair buns make her looks so immature? And what made her think she could wear pink lip gloss? It doesn’t match her complexion at all. She angrily rips out her hairpins and shakes her head, then wipes her lip gloss off on the collar of her dress. Rummaging through the dresser drawers, she finds a dress she feels is more mature. There. She’s better than cute now.
Mercury hasn’t contacted her since that night--she’s texted him a few times, but he hasn’t replied. No big deal, she tells herself, you have no reason to want to talk to him. She runs her fingers through her hair and purses her lips. If they do ever meet again, she’ll be ready.
Crux, meanwhile, has found an interesting niche in Sunset Valley. It’s been impossible for officials to deny the existence of supernaturals since that fateful night; there were too many eyewitness reports of werewolves running through the streets and fairies dropping body parts from the sky. After The Sunset Valley Times publishes a tell-all piece by Elysia, the Simnation government begins to investigate the operatives known only as “the Men in Black.”
When Elysia names him as an “innocent citizen unfairly imprisoned due to prejudice,” Crux is called to city hall by local representatives so he can give his testimony. Upon investigation, an exploratory committee finds rampant over-spending and mismanagement. The Men in Black were overpaid, especially considering they failed to advance any research on supernatural sims. Furthermore, their methods are found to be inhumane and illegal. Bowing to public outcry, Lawrence Parker is fired and the program is shut down. The government begins reevaluating every third-party contract. Some particularly vocal representatives advocate for harsher government regulation and oversight, while others argue in favor of higher ethical codes for private businesses. Crux is proud of his part in advancing the level of discourse Simnation.
He’s even prouder of his children. Crux is amazed by Zenith’s talent on the guitar. He’d never been very musically inclined himself, so it’s impressive that his son taught himself to play. Zenith, although modest, is happy to show off his skills. To the delight of his parents, he plays a couple of new songs he learned recently.
Nova, however, is quite distraught by the attention her brother is receiving. She hasn’t had an opportunity really to interact with her father one-on-one. Well, other than that brief moment where they reunited, but that doesn’t count in her opinion.
“Look, dad! Look what I can do!” Nova calls out as she does a pretty remarkable handstand. She manages to keep herself balanced despite the heft of her boots. She’s not used to doing this in anything except a leotard.
Crux looks over briefly. “Very nice, Nova.”
“Dad! It’s more than nice. Look look look!” Nova holds the pose as long as possible. Crux glances over and then back to Zenith.
“It is truly impressive; I promise will observe your antics with more devotion once Zenith has finished his performance.”
“This is bologna,” Nova mumbles as she rests her body on her forearms and shifts her legs forward, resting her thigh on the crown of her head. Any normal person would be totally blown away but her parents are uninterested. This is what happens when one has an abnormal family.
“What did you think, Kiki?” Nova asks her furry friend.
Kiki grunts and rolls on her back, attempting her own gymnastics pose. Unfortunately, her chubby little body won’t conform.
Crux recognizes his daughter’s desire to spend time alone, so he the next day he offers to let her choose an activity for the two of them. Nova decides that they will play basketball at the new courts in the center of town.
Crux stares up at the hoop, wide-eyed, “And how does one play this game?”
“Get ball. Dribble ball. Maneuver ball from hand to hoop. Score!”
“But I think it’s best if we have a dunking competition,” Nova grins. She isn’t interested in teaching her father how to play. She wants to win, to completely obliterate him in a one-on-one competition. It’s nothing personal—she just likes winning.
Crux stares at her.
“I’ll go first so you can see how it’s done,” Nova dribbles the ball a few steps, then leaps up to the hoop, palming the ball with her outstretched hand. She makes her prettiest face as she dunks the ball.
Crux, ever the good sport, tries to mimic his daughter’s movements. He successfully leaps into the air, but miscalculates the distance between himself and the hoop. The error is painful. He grunts as he falls on the ground. Nova helps him up, then hands him a basketball.
“We ain’t done, old man.”
“Please, Nova,” Crux begs, “I forgive the ageist remark, but do make sure to employ proper grammar.”
Nova easily dunks each ball. Crux manages to only get one, and he’s met with sarcastic clapping from his daughter when he finally succeeds.
Despite her bratty behavior, Crux has a good time. He’s beginning to see the differences between his two children: Zenith is more laid back and shy while Nova craves attention and reassurance. Zenith is creative, and he seems absent-minded but he’s also able to quickly grasp complicated musical concepts and techniques. Nova, on the other hand, is determined. She works hard for what she wants, but she’s selective with what she devotes her pursuits to. He had expected that his children would be miniature versions of himself and Polaris. He is glad to find that they aren’t.
Time passes quickly as life settles down. Crux becomes somewhat famous in the small town, largely due to Elysia’s sympathetic portrayal of him in her articles. Although the citizens of Sunset Valley have come to recognize supernatural sims, they still believe that Crux and his family are simply strangely colored humans. Who knew sims were so stupid. And so the Bees become a normal family, more or less.
“I don’t know why you brought that home,” Polaris complains as she chops up a fish for dinner. Every night is sushi night in the Bee household.
“Well,” Crux answers, “I have noticed how much the children adore Kiki—“
“The children? Cruxie, they’ll be graduating soon. They’re not children anymore.”
“I did not know them as children, so to me they will always be young. As I was saying, our offspring—is that better?—they adore Kiki. So, I decided to procure a partner for her.”
“We don’t need another dog.”
“Need? No, of course not. But look! I managed to find one of a similar shape and size. I even found a male, so Kiki will have a mate,” Crux smiles as he holds the new dog, “and I have given him an appropriate name: Argus.”
“A mate? I am NOT dealing with puppies.”
“Oh, hush, my dear. You are usually so whimsical. Do not fail me now,” Crux puts Argus down on the floor and whistles, “Kiki! Come!” Polaris tries not to laugh. Everything Crux does is so awkward.
Kiki trots into the room. Her tail lowers when she spots the new dog. Who is this intruder who dares to encroach on her territory? Argus, on the other hand, is excited. He sniffs Kiki and starts wagging.
Love is in the air.
So, despite her romantic cynicism, she helps plan a wedding for the happy couple.
On the day of the wedding, Nova is the first to arrive at the venue. It’s purely by accident—she had planned to be fashionably late, but she was misinformed about the time. She is unsure of what is supposed to be where, so she tries her best to look confident as she surveys the surroundings. Finally, her eyes lock with the slovenly bartender.
“Stand up straight,” she orders the bartender, “and straighten that tie!”
“Yes’m,” the bartender is ashamed that he let a teenage girl school him.
Elysia arrives soon after. Nova’s jaw drops as she watches her sister waddle over.
“Sorry I’m late,” Elysia notices her sister’s shock, “oh, yeah. I’m also super pregnant.” Because of her busy schedule, Elysia has only communicated with her family by phone. She apparently forgot to mention her incoming bundle of joy.
“Since when?” Nova resists the urge to angrily shake her sister. Sisters aren’t supposed to keep secrets.
“Since around the time I was abducted.”
“Who’s the father? Do I know him?”
“Doesn’t really matter,” Elysia shrugs, “we’re off and on. I’m not really interested in anything long term.”
Nova raises an eyebrow. She knows for a fact that their mom explained sex in graphic detail to Elysia. She should have known better. At least Luna is in a committed relationship with Quentin.
Guests begin trickling in, cutting the conversation short. Solaris waves to his sisters as he traipses by.
“January sends her apologies,” he says, “she’s feeling sick and so she couldn’t make it.” But no one really cares the he left his cougar at home. Once it seems like everyone is present, Nova and Elysia herd the guests towards the ceremony site.
Polaris has waited for this moment for what feels like forever. Everything is perfect: rustic lights twinkle around them, illumining the beautiful garden. Crux looks handsome in his tuxedo, and she knows she looks stunning. In the distance, she can hear waves crashing against the cliffs. Most importantly, her family surrounds her.
She takes a deep breath before she speaks: “Our courtship hasn’t been perfect. I was a bitch when we first met, and you were an insufferable know-it-all,” Polaris pauses for laughter, but the audience doesn’t oblige, “and I know you’re too logical to believe in fate. I’m not that naïve, either. But, if I were to ascribe to that notion, I’d say that fate has been in our favor. We’ve traveled light-years and yet despite all odds and all distances all obstacles, we ended up together. That’s a testament to our good fortune, and I’m grateful for it. Crux, I vow to honor, love, and protect you. I won’t obey, though. I’m not a dog.”
Emotional sniffles emanate from the audience, but Mia—a typical drama queen—howls as she cries. Polaris resists the urge to turn around and smack the lipstick off Mia’s stupid face. She doesn’t even know why she’s there. Brat.
“I am not a gifted orator,” Crux smiles shyly, “So I will keep it simple. You have kept me afloat when I was adrift and you served as my guide in this strange new world. I vow to honor, love, and protect you until death do us part.”
As the audience watches in wonder, or at least out of social obligation, Nova notices one guest weeping a little too loudly and with too much sincerity. Luke is crying faster than he can wipe away tears. Nova rolls her eyes and leans forward.
“Stop your blubbering, pussy,” she whispers angrily in his ear. Luke nods with a sniffle. He thought he’d come to terms with this years ago, but old feelings are resurfacing. He tries to push them back down. He has a wife, and with her he has a son. He doesn’t have enough room for old flames.
Zenith claps his hands together and sighs as his parents recite their vows. He’d like a storybook relationship just like this someday. Except he doesn’t want to get shot. And he doesn’t want five kids. And he’d like to marry a woman who is really different from his mom. Okay, maybe he wants a boring everyday relationship. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Crux fumbles as he tries to slip the ring on to Polaris’ finger.
“You can do it,” Polaris murmurs so the audience can’t hear her, “it’s just like foreplay. You just have to line up the finger and the hole.”
“Hush! You are distracting me,” Crux stifles a laugh, “this is supposed to be a dignified event.”
“Really? Then I think I’m in the wrong place.”
The couple kisses as the audience throws confetti. The kiss is longer than is appropriate for a wedding, and deeper. The couple probably presses too close together, and Polaris in particular may have been a little too invested in the kiss. But no one in the audience is surprised.
“We should have done this years ago,” Polaris breaths as she withdraws from the kiss.
“We have kissed before, Polaris.”
“I mean we should have gotten married years ago. Stop being obtuse!”
“I though it was acute joke,” he grins.
The newlyweds go all out with the reception dinner. They serve a whole turkey as well as two cakes: one for viewing and one for eating. A little plastic couple sits atop the decorative cake. To Crux’s dismay, they were unable to find a couple that matched their skin tones, so they settled for the default, a plain, white bride and groom.
Polaris cuts the cake ceremoniously and generously, carving a thick slice for each guest. Crux is the first to take a piece. He wanders off with cake, leaving his new bride to serve all the guests by herself. Finally, she manages to pry herself away from cake duty.
“Don’t get too full,” Polaris smiles as she sets her plate on the table, “you’re going to eat out later.”
Crux inhales, choking on a piece of cake. “Polaris! I cannot believe you would make such a lewd remark in public.”
“Cruxie, it’s our wedding night. Everyone knows we’re going to go home and have sex.”
“I understand that, but you need not declare it so loudly,” Crux blushes.
“Naw, I think I do. People find my crass behavior delightful.”
“I believe you are overestimating your charm.”
Polaris winks and chomps a mouthful of cake in response. Crux is indeed quite charmed by her inappropriate behavior, but he won’t admit it.
A table away, Nova and Luna try to ignore their mother. If they didn’t look just like her, they would probably try to deny any sort of relation.
“So how’s school?” Luna asks.
“Boring. Almost over, thank the maker.”
“…do you have a crush on anyone?”
“Are you sure?”
“So how are your grades?”
“I’m going to go dance,” Nova drops her fork on her plate and saunters over to the impromptu dance floor.
“I’ll join you,” Luna says, oblivious to her younger sister’s desire to escape her awkward line of questioning.
Nova ropes Mia in to dancing as well, though that’s not much of a feat. Nova tries to look nonchalant as she sways to the music. She glances around the venue, inspecting the guests. She doesn’t know why, but she thought he might show up tonight. She shakes off her disappointment.
Crux invites Polaris share their first dance as a married couple. Polaris is unsure of herself as she takes her husband’s hands. She’s only used to dancing quickly; it’s easier to hide awkwardness that way. He wraps an arm around her waist, steadying her.
“I will not let you stumble,” he promises.
“Thank—OW. Could you also not step on my feet?!”
Elysia looks on the scene with great annoyance. Her feet ache and her ankles are far too swollen to dance. She curses herself for wearing heels. And this ridiculous dress—she looks like a white pumpkin with a bow on it. She’s tired of being puffy and pregnant.
“Come join us,” Luna calls over her should. Up yours, Elysia thinks.
“No thank you,” she says sweetly, “I think I’m going to head home.” As Elysia waddles to the exit, she feels droplets of water hit her. She holds her hand out, feeling for rain.
“Hey, it’s sprinkling,” she calls to the others, “mom, your dress is going to get ruined!” Mother Nature has decided that the wedding is over. The guests begin to trickle out the exit towards the dry safety of their cars.
“Since you’re leaving, can I get a ride with you?” Elysia asks Solaris as they make their way out of the venue.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll just have to text January and tell her I’ll be late.”
Elysia suddenly stops in her tracks. She grabs her abdomen and begins to wail.
“The baby’s coming,” she pants, “right now.”
The remaining guests—all Bees at this point—erupt into panic. Nova and Zenith in particular are especially frightened.
“How are we going to cut the umbilical cord?” Nova wonders.
“First, how are we going to get the baby out?” Zenith adds to the confusion.
“Polaris, should we cancel our flight to Champs Les Sims?” Crux is worried about his stepdaughter.
“Solaris,” Polaris’ voice is commanding, “go get your car. Bring it around and take your sister to the hospital.”
“The hospital?” Solaris’ genius temporarily escapes him.
“Yes, the hospital,” Elysia says through a forced smile, “you know, the place where you work?”
“Yes! Where babies are delivered.”
“I’ve worked in the maternity ward,” he says suddenly, “holy cow, I know how to deliver babies! Let me get my car.”
“Go on, mom,” Elysia tries to pace her breathing, “I’ll soldier on with my dimwitted brother. Get some rest before your flight.”
“Are you sure, Elly?” Polaris cares about her daughter, but she’s been looking forward to the honeymoon more than the wedding.
“Yes,” Elysia tries to smile but grimaces instead, “have fun!” Polaris and Crux bid farewell, wise enough to know that they should obey the orders of a pregnant woman.
There are so many things for them to celebrate: the birth of Polaris’ second grandchild; Solaris’ engagement to January; Luna’s recent announcement that she is pregnant again; Zenith and Nova’s upcoming graduation. Crux’s life. Their marriage.
They begin with the last one.
Author’s Note: And so ends generation one.
I know I glossed over a lot of issues that arose in recent chapters, but I wanted a happy ending for Crux and Polly (even though I am a really cynical person who is skeptical of happy endings). Nova will be taking over as heir and I hope to further develop her character and the haphazard plot.
The title of this chapter comes from one of my favorite poems by John Keats, "Bright Star." I think it's a really beautiful sonnet, and that's saying a lot since I think most poetry is for the birds. You can hear
Luna and Quentin have two children now: Esperanza (who was briefly in one chapter) and a newborn named Johnathon. Luna is also pregnant with her third baby. Solaris and January are married, and January recently had a baby girl named Hollie (who looks A LOT like Elysia, except with black hair and a butt chin). Elysia gave birth to a son named Dustin. Ethan Bunch is the father, and luckily I had fixed his horrible face in CAS before they hooked up so Dustin is actually okay looking. However, I might have to start moving spares out of the neighborhood.