"...we mizz you, zzizzter..."

The voices come to me every so often, even as I try to ignore the figures in the shadows.

"...come back to uzz..."

I walk briskly past the alleyway, turning into the nearby shop; the voices are not as loud when I am around other people.

The store is just a basic small town store; few aisles with assorted goods, a single counter with a clerk reading one of the magazines sold in the store itself.

Just my luck; it is deserted.

"...why do you ignore uzz..?"

I wince at the pain in the voice. I have to ignore them... I simply have to. It does not mean I like it, but I have to...

"...we mizz your voizze..."

I grab a bag of chips and toss it on the counter, reaching for my wallet. "Just this, please," I offer to the clerk, who puts her magazine away and scans the item.

I quickly pay for the chips, open the bag, and put some in my mouth to crunch on. The crunching should help fight off the voices as I make my way home.

I quickly turn back to the streets and head for my apartment again, putting another chip in my mouth every time the voices start and breaking them between my molars with a defiant glare to the shadows.

It does the trick; the voices pull away.

Once I am inside my apartment I am safe; I can put on some music to drown them out. They won't get to me there.

The elevator is the tricky part; it is one of those with a mirror in the back of it. I have to stare at my own appearance in it to keep it from changing into... something other than human.

I stare it down as the box moves up to my floor, noting the tired rings under its eyes. How long has it been now? A month? Two? I can barely get sleep in due to the dreams...

The doors open and I turn from the mirror to almost collide with a woman stepping into the elevator just as I planned on leaving it.

I apologize, squeeze past her, but a whiff of her perfume still makes it to my nose...

Shocked, I turn to face her as the elevator doors close; She dressed in a long coat, high fur collar, barely visible to anyone... but there's a bulge down the back of the coat, and her eyes are...

"Wait," I hear myself say, clamp a hand over my mouth, and back away. But she has already put her finger to the button that opens the doors again.

I quickly shake my head at her and run off down the apartment building's open gallery, towards where my apartment is located, my free hand reaching into my pocket to find the keys for the door.

I reach out with the key, but stop as my eyes spot something strange with the door; a dollop of yellow on the handle, slowly drooping down due to gravity; honey.

I stare at it until I hear footsteps come from the direction of the elevators. I do not look that way, I know it is the woman I had bumped into.

I force my hand to inject the key into the lock, turn it while ignoring the honey dripping onto my hand, and quickly push the door open, run in, close it again, and reach for the locks.

As the first lock clicks closed, the woman makes it to my door and stares at me through the window. She does not have to speak; I hear her thoughts.

"Why do you run from uzz, zzizzter?", her voice comes to me as if it was one of my own thoughts.

I shake my head at her and reach for the next lock, turning it closed.

She, in turn, reaches for the honey on the door knob, a black finger tracing up through it. She brings the honey-covered finger to her lips and sticks it in her mouth in full view of me.

"You know you belong with uzz," she 'thinks' my way again, and again I shake my head. "Mother izz zzo zzad you left, why won't you come back?"

"She's not my mother!" I decry, pounding my honey-covered hand on the window and leaving a stain on the glass. I stare defiantly into the other's black eyes, but she stares back without flinching.

"You will come to zzee the error of that zztatement, zzizzter," she returns, and I flip her the proverbial bird.

"Never," I tell her slowly, through the glass, then turn away from her and walk into my house, closing the door to the hallway as I step into my livingroom, and collapsing onto the couch.

I reach for the radio's remote control and wrap my sticky hand around it, then tap the buttons to load up my mp3 playlist of metal songs. Somewhere in the distance I can hear the woman at the door trying to wurm her way back into my head again, but the songs quickly drown her out.

I try to put the remote back down, but it sticks to my hand and I have to pull it free with my other. I stare at the honey still covering my hand and find myself licking my lips... It is too tempting to simply lick it off.

"Too tempting," I repeat out loud, then quickly push off the couch and walk over to the bathroom where I scrub my hand clean with soap until my skin looks red.

"...can't ignore uzz..." I hear in the distance, and walk back into the living room to turn the volume up a little.

"Damn sticky goop," I mutter, bringing the sticky remote with me into the bathroom and giving it a quick cleaning as well.

I toss it at the couch after, walk into the kitchen, and stare at the woman looking in through the window.

"Go away," I mouth to her, but she slowly shakes her head at me. With a sigh, I draw the blinds and turn to my fridge for some food.

"...come back...", "...you need uzz...", and "...we mizz you..." come drifting past through my mind as I cook up something simple, then return to the living room with my dish and settle in front of the television.

With the music still playing loudly, I need closed captions, but not every program has support for it yet, and the captioning gets some words so incredibly wrong it is amusing in and of itself.

I flip through the channels, find nothing of value, and just turn it to a music channel to add to the cacophony of sound blasting into my ears in the hopes of drowning out the voices.

Nightfall should be soon, and they return to the hive before sundown, so I should have some respite after that.

I eat in silence, my own thoughts rare and focused mainly on escaping theirs and trying to get back to a normal life again. I do not dare think back to my time with them..; it invokes the desire to return.

My neighbours stopped talking to me since I turned my sound up like this, and I already had a note in my mailbox about it, but what else can I do? I almost have enough money to get a wireless headset. It is not the best solution, but it should keep the voices at bay.

I do not honestly know how long they will keep this up... how long I will keep hearing their voices for... how long I will keep both craving and loathing their presence... but I need to fight them for as long as it takes if I am to live my life independent of them.


I turn my sound down a bit, listening for their voices.

When nothing hits my mind, I turn the sound down fully and let my feelings hit me as they do every night; my tears coming uncalled for when I realize my thoughts are my own again until sunrise.

My silent wallowing is disrupted by a sound of something heavy hitting my balcony window, then dropping to the balcony proper a moment after, and I look up in sudden fear at it to find a bee girl trying to push herself up from the ground.

"No! Leave me alone!" I scream in terror and anger both, pushing up from the couch and running to the balcony door to check the locks.

The other girl pushes up to a standing position, folds her wings on her back, and shakes her head at me.

"Zzizzter, I have nowhere elzze to go, pleazze, don't let me freezze here?" she invades my mind with her pleading voice.

"It's SUMMER!" I call out, "Just fly off and join the rest! I won't come back! You can't make me!"

She stumbles back a bit from my screaming at her, then glances out in the distance and sighs out. "I... can't."

I stare at her through the window, as she turns back to look at me, her antennae and shoulders drooping as she sees the hostility on my face.

"I would lozze my mind again," she continues, then drops to her knees and holds out her hands to me. "Pleazze give me zzanctuary, zzizzter? You're the only one I can turn to!"

I look her over, some doubt slipping into my mind. The girl before me has lost all her humanity; the only thing remaining being a monstrous humanized version of a bee. Complete with yellow and black stripes, antennae, bug eyes, and a stinger set at the end of a bulbous backside protruding from the end of her spine, resting over her buttocks and twitching a bit as she sits there on her knees.

She's not wearing clothes; none of them are... none of them feel the need to. Except for when they need to hide themselves, as the woman from the elevator. They mostly just flit about in an almost obsessive need to find others to share the bed with. It is their nectar. Male, female, something in between, it does not matter to them. They carry it all back to the hive inside of themselves and deposit it for the queen to distribute.

Some get pregnant from it, it is a risk they take willingly as they birth more workers for the hive. Workers who have never been human before. Workers like this one on my balcony.

"You were never human," I tell her. It's not a question, I recognize it in her. For one; she has no nipples. Her breasts are just there for show. She can't lactate. Another is the insanely thin waistline she sports. Human organs prevent ours from shrinking to that size even through the transformation process.

The girl shakes her head at me, and lowers her gaze. "I wazz born in the hive, that'zz true."

"Then what are you expecting to find here? I can't do anything for you," I explain. "There's no magical cure for you. There's nothing for you to return to."

"Kinzzhip?" the other asked, shivering a bit and starting to buzz her wings to keep warm as the air started to cool down.

I looked back to the hallway on the other side of the house, beyond which the other woman had been before. They were gone now. They would not allow themselves to be found out at night. She could survive the cold a bit better with the clothes she had on, but would not dare to risk it.

"The hive is an hour's flight from here, isn't it?" I realized, looking back at the girl on the balcony.

"Yezz, I could not reach it if I tried," she responded factually.

"I can't, don't you see? I can't let you in!" I cried out, sinking to my own knees and staring at the other - now on eye level.

"I know," she offered with a sigh, her own eyes not breaking from me. "I know, zzizzter. I knew before I came here. Before I azzked you for zzanctuary."

"I haven't been your sister for months now," I spoke softly, leaning my forehead against the window in front of me.

The other girl scooted forward, putting her own forehead against the glass. "I have to..."

"I know," I cut in. "I know how it works. I know how close-minded the hive is. Once you join, you join forever. You have no words for someone who left."

"And there'zz no differenzze between a zzizzter and a zzizzter who birthed you," the other offered. "That word izz rezzerved."

I narrowed my eyes at her.

"But there'zz a know. A know in your inzzidezz," she continued.

I looked her over again, trying to recall and shuddering when I remembered the mindset of the hive again, as the intoxication of the honey and pheromones tried to grasp a hold of me again. How many had I given birth to? How likely would it be for one of mine to find me here?

"Zzizzter, don't," the other warned me, breaking my thoughts.

I shook my head, backing away from the window a bit and reaching up to rub at my forehead. "Don't what?"

"Don't think of it, don't let it grab you, pleazze... you would drag uzz both back if you did." she pleaded, herself breaking away from the window as well in a copy of my own moves - leaving two stains of antennae dust on it.

Her wings were still buzzing away as she tried to keep herself warm, and I found a tear leaking down my cheek again. "I can't let you die there," I whispered to myself as I realized I simply could not... no matter if she was my daughter or not, she was a living being. And acted as if she was free from the intoxication to some extent.

I pushed up from the floor, walked over to the door, and unlocked two of the three locks. "I can't... I can't let you in, but I can't let you die there either," I sniffed, now fully crying.

The bee girl on the balcony pushed up to a standing position, looked out in the distance from the balcony, and then back at me. "Tell me to go, zzizzter, and I will fly far from here, and will let myzzelf die elzzewhere. You won't have to zzee it."

I closed my eyes and unlocked the last lock, pushing the door open and taking a step aside. "Come in."

I half expected to be bowled over, pinned to the floor, immediately being forced to drink her nectar, but she ran past me with buzzing wings, and dove behind the couch as if it would shield her from the cool air drifting in from the balcony.

I opened my eyes again as her smell drifted past, glanced in the direction of where I still heard her buzzing, then reached for the door and closed it again, making sure the locks were back in place so others could not follow her.

"Thank you, zzizzter!" she thought to me with a great sense of relief, and I turned to lean my back in against the door, just looking at where she was hiding.

"Why didn't you take advantage of me?" I asked, out loud, and her face appeared above the couch's back rest, looking my way.

"I did not come here for that purpozze, zzizzter. I thought I made that clear?" she returned - again in thought alone.

"Can you even speak? Or is that something only the ex-humans can? I never actually asked while I was in the hive myself," I wondered.

"I would not know how," she revealed, looking around herself a bit. "Human houzzezz are zzo different from the hive, aren't they?"

"More comfortable, I would say," I chuckled lightly. "That thing you're hiding behind is for sitting on. You may want to sit on it sideways because of your wings and stinger."

I watched as the girl tentatively moved around the couch, then climbed on it over the armrest and kneeled down on it, looking at me for confirmation.

I shook my head and walked on over to the other couch, and sat myself down on it at a slight sideways angle. "May be more comfortable like this."

The girl followed my example, her stinger bumping into the backrest a bit, forcing her to turn a little more than I had. She was effectively sitting on the edge of it.

"Maybe I need to find you a seat without a back rest," I mused.

"It izz zzoft enough, zzizzter, don't worry," she returned.

I shook my head at her. "So, can you start at the beginning please? Why did you seek me out again?"

The girl picked at the couch a bit uneasily. "I... woke up, zzizzter. I don't know why exzactly, but one day I wazz happily doing the tazzkzz I wazz azzigned to by mother, the nexzt I wazz quezztioning everything. It juzzt didn't feel right anymore. Zzomething about it made me wonder if there wazz not zzomething elzze I could be doing inzztead."

I looked out towards the window and the hive a few miles out, hidden away from human society. "I had a similar experience," I mused. "Although with me it was the question of how I could have let myself get corrupted by them..."

"I don't know that word, zzizzter," the bee girl on the couch offered to my mind. "What doezz it mean?"

"Transformed, recruited, the act of turning a human into a bee," I tried. "Humans might call it a corruption. I lost my mind, was physically transformed... I still have not got rid of everything yet. There are still traces..."

There was an uncomfortable silence from the other, then she leaned forward a bit. "Can I zzee?"

I swallowed strongly, before reaching down to pull my shirt up a bit and my pants down a little. There was a clear yellow/black striped fuzz still growing over my human skin. It had been falling out and retreating downwards to my usual genital hairs, but it was a slow process and I had not dared shave them away just so I could observe them retreat.

"And you have been away from uzz for monthzz now, zzizzter?" the other girl asked, to which I nodded.

"If I have the date right," I started, "I've been home again now for just over three months."

"It takezz far zzhorter to tranzzform a human into a zzizzter," she realized, and I nodded.

"Within a week I was indistinguishable from the rest of you," I recalled. "I welcomed it, then."

"Becauzze of the corruption you zzaid?" the beegirl asked.

"Yes," I agreed. "I stopped caring about anything other than doing whatever "mother" asked of me. And I sought to be transformed fully so I could do all she asked of me. I could not fly until the last day; when my wings grew out fully."

A short buzzing from the other made me look up at her, finding her look back at her wings.

"You never thought of it like that, did you?" I asked.

"No, zzizzter," she answered truthfully, casting her insectoid eyes upon me again. "It wazz never important enough for me to think of."

"You were born into that induction," I realized. "You never knew what it was like to have a mind of your own. To have thoughts which were beyond the ones you were expected to have."

"Or whizzh came from the otherzz," she returned mentally.

"They're still hunting me. Even today there was this woman who smeared honey on my door to tempt me," I revealed.

"I zzaw her. I don't know if I managed to keep her from zzpotting me," the beegirl offered.

"It's okay. You're safely in my house now," I reassured her. "I have no defense against you if you try to do anything to me; I know that. But I don't feel like you are a danger to me. We're talking, aren't we? You're not throwing nectar my way, forcing me to eat it, bombarding my mind with statements of how badly I need to get back to the hive, are you?"

She shook her head. "I don't want you to return to the hive, zzizzter... I want your help to zztay away from it myzzelf."

I smiled up weakly. "You're going to have to fight off the others... Once they realize you're not here to help them get me back, they will come hunt for you as well."

"I'm not a zzoldier," she protested.

"Mentally. Fight them off mentally. They will tempt you to come back by talking to you, as you are talking to me now," I explained. "I have come to play music to fight off their words."

"I heard that muzzic outzzide while I wazz waiting for the other zzizzter to leave," she told me with a nod.

"Where?" I asked.

"On the balcony above," she pointed out. "The zzun zzhone on it earlier today. It wazz nizze and warm."

"Human residences have something else you may like," I offered, standing up and walking over to the thermostat to turn the heating up a little, then walking over to the radiator and motioning for my... supposed daughter... to follow me. "It's called central heating. Don't get too close to it, but if you want to get warm, quick, and don't want your wings to stick from a shower, just turn the heat up a little and sit around this thing."

"Zzentral heating," she repeated, moving to stand next to me near the radiator and twitching her antennae at the warm air starting to flow up from it.

Soon enough she was positively swooning at it, kneeling down near it and letting herself lean in towards it as close as she dared while keeping my warning in mind.

"Okay, you'll... warm up a bit," I offered, starting to walk away from her. "I'm going to get you some sugarwater, cause you're going to get withdrawal from the honey soon..."

I don't think she heard me, so I just went into the kitchen, filled two glasses with warm water, mixed caster sugar through them, and returned with them to the living room. The girl was laying on her belly on the floor with her stinger sticking up in the air - her abdomen twitching rhythmically in turn with her breathing.

I decided to sit down on the floor next to her, and placed the glass in front of her. "Here's a drink if you need one. It will taste a bit different from what you're used to, but it's a stopgap solution. It's... still all I can drink without feeling like I want to puke afterwards. I'm sure my innards aren't back to full human mode yet. I'm not sure yours ever will."

She turned her head to look up at me, giving a weak smile, and I found myself smiling back.

"I will do azz you want me to, zzizzter," she spoke mentally. "You know better than anyone what may work for uzz."

I took a sip from my own drink and sighed. "It's going to be difficult. I'm not sure if it's possible at all for you to break from the hive as you seem intent on doing. You may need to return there if I can't keep you alive otherwise."

"Yezz, but I want to take the zzhanzze that it could work," she decided, reaching for the glass and mimicking the way I held it and put it to my own lips, taking a careful sip of it. She immediately made a face of disgust, and I giggled softly.

"It's nothing like the honey you get in the hive, I know," I told her, "but it's going to keep you from dehydrating. We'll see what you can hold down in terms of food tomorrow. I found a few things I could eat myself, both warm and cold foods, so we'll do a bit of a taste test for breakfast. I was surprised when I found out I could eat potato chips, actually. As long as they didn't overdo it on the spices."

The girl just looked up at me with little emotion on her face, and I reached out to rest my hand on her soft yellow-fuzzed shoulder. "I will teach you what it all means, eventually."

"I'll look forward to that, zzizzter," she returned, trying the drink again. "It mizzezz zzomething..."

"I know... but I haven't dared to go for actual honey yet," I explained. "Maybe in a year from now... or if I can get far enough away from the hive so I won't run towards it if it ends up being too potent."

"You are very cautiouzz, zzizzter. That izz good," my daughter offered up, smiling again. "I am feeling zzafe here."

I moved my hand up a bit from her shoulder, tentatively running my fingers through her black hair. "That's good... and I think you're right about being mine. You feel that way to me, too."

Her eyes closed at my stroking hand, giving a soft nod. "Yezz."

I took another sip from my drink, giving a glance to my bedroom. "We're going to have to find you a place to sleep..."

"Izz thizz not a good plazze to rezzt?" the beegirl wondered, and I shook my head.

"It's going to get a lot colder here during the night," I explained. "I only turned the heater up a moment so you could warm back up again."

"I am feeling a lot better, zzizzter, thank you for your care," she told me while leaning her head in against my hand.

"Yeah, but you're going to hate me tonight," I warned. "The bedsheets will keep you from moving your wings, your stinger will pierce through the fabric, and you're generally going to feel coccooned... I had the worst time the first nights I was back home. Tore a few sheets apart before I started to turn back to a more human body shape."

She stared up at me without a hint of understanding, and I shook my head at myself. "You'll see. Finish your drink. You're going to need the sugar."

"Yezz, zzizzter," she answered to me, and we both downed the last of our drinks in silence.

I gathered our glasses afterwards, set them on the coffeetable, and helped my daughter to her feet. She helped along by buzzing her wings, sending the curtains in motion from the wind displacement, and I felt an odd twinge of envy at the sight.

"Okay, let's see if I can get you comfortable on my bed. I guess I'll... have to sleep in the same bed as you," I realized, "considering you're used to a hundred sisters half-clinging to you in the night... you're going to have it rough trying to get used to sleeping alone."

She tilted her head to me a bit at that. "Do humanzz not zzleep with one another?"

"Not usually, unless they have a relationship with each other," I explained. "They're more focused on their privacy. Well, we are, I should say."

"I can zzee it in your mind when you think back to uzz," my daughter revealed, looking difficult. "It openzz your mind up to me."

"Yeah, I know," I sighed, taking her chitin-covered hand in mine and starting to lead her to my bedroom door. "I figured that out in the first week, while being bombarded by the voices of my... sisters."

"I will try not to pry, zzizzter," the girl told me, and I looked back at her in surprise. "I zzee in your mind how it botherzz you. I don't want to make you azz angry with me azz you were when you firzzt zzaw me on your balcony."

"I was not upset with you, per se," I mumbled, looking away from her. "I... I really don't want to go back there."

The bee girl moved forward to lean in against me, nodding softly. "Nor I."

"I hope you're honest about that," I voiced my concern. "I really don't... I... don't want to be betrayed..."

I felt a tear leak down my cheek again, then another, and I moved to wrap my arms around the bee girl as I felt myself lose it, my tears running free as I hugged myself to her.

The bee girl herself stood silent, shocked, unsure what to do, her wings now trapped by my arms surrounding her. I felt her abdomen twitch nervously, her body trembling a little as she mentally digested what was going on. There was not a lot of hugging in the hive... The internal relations were entirely different; everyone just did as "mother" told them. The few hugs that were given were from "sisters" crawling up over you to a higher ground while you held yourself firmly against a wall...

"It'zz okay, zzizzter," the bee girl cooed to me, her own arms starting to wrap around me. "I'm zzorry for reading your mind, again..."

I smiled up through my tears. "I don't mind that as much as you trying to insert other things..."

She nodded down, giving me a soft squeeze. "I zzaw that in your thoughtzz azz well."

I brought my arms back from around the other girl, wiping my eyes. "Is it strange that I both hate and love that my thoughts are an open book to you?"

"You try to zztay away from the hive and everything azzozziated with it, zzizzter... the hivemind being one of thozze thingzz," she mused. "I can zzee why you feel conzzerned about it. In the zzame way I can zzenzze your conzzern about how quickly you're feeling more comfortable around me."

I looked down at the floor between us. "I have been too lonely... but I can't return there. I can't be myself there. I would... I would die..."

The bee girl nodded at that, reaching her own hand up to stroke it through my hair as I had done to her. "I can read that in your thoughtzz, azz well. I don't zzee why it izz zzo important to be a zzingle being, zzizzter. I don't get it. It'zz a zztrange thought to me to not be part of the hive. But I can't agree with the hive anymore. Zzomewhere inzzide it doezzn't feel right. It feelzz like you have the anzzwerzz I zzeek."

"I do?" I wondered, looking up at her eyes and wondering if I ever could get used to mine no longer looking like hers. "I wish I could tell you I had those answers."

"Your thoughtzz already taught me a lot of thingzz, zzizzter," the other revealed, staring at me for a moment. "I think your eyezz look alien, but nizze. They look good on your human fazze."

I flushed a moment, trying to turn for the bedroom. "We were going to find you a spot to sleep."

I was held in place by my daughter's hands seeking my shoulders and turning me back to face her. "I can't call you the term I zzee in your thoughtzz, zzizzter," she spoke, "zzinzze it izz rezzerved in my mind for mother in the hive."

I tried to gauge where she was going with this, looking at the odd thoughtful expression on the bee girl's face.

"Can you tell me a different name to call you, pleazze?" she asked.

"Well, my name is Deborah," I told her flatly.

"Would you like it if I called you Deborah, zzizzter?" she asked.

"Well, yeah, that works, I guess?" I returned.

"Then I will try not to call you zzizzter, but Deborah inzztead," she decided.

"What prompted this?" I wondered, as she let go of my shoulders.

"You feel uncomfortable with me calling you zzizzter, Deborah," the bee offered.

"Maybe a little," I agreed, fidgeting a bit.

"You think it pullzz you clozzer to the hive when it izz uzzed, and you want me to call you zzomething you know I can't zzay," she continued. "And you wonder if you can call me 'daughter', which I have no izzue with, Deborah. Pleazze do."

I looked up at her trying to place my feelings. She had invaded my home, invaded my mind, had made me think of the hive again which I had tried to banish from my thoughts, yet I could not find fault in her actions... and I kind of needed her... I felt I needed her. Her presence was soothing to me. And that was a scary thing in and of itself.

"Don't feel like you are lezz than me, Deborah; thizz izz your houzze, and I am your daughter," the other girl offered. "You make the rulezz. I am uzzed to following orderzz."

I straightened my back a bit at that, nodding to her. "Yes, you're right... It's just..."

"In your mind we are the perfect form?" she wondered, motioning to herself.

"I wouldn't say perfect," I threw back hesitantly, "but definitely something to be admired. It's one of the more insidious parts of the indoctrination which I just can't seem to get rid of."

"And it makezz you think you are lezzer than me azz a rezzult," my daughter realized. "How can I help you fight that, Deborah?"

"I don't know," I replied honestly. "Can I sleep on that?"

"Yezz, of courzze," she agreed. "You were going to make me hate you?"

I blinked, realized I did say she would hate me overnight due to the issue with the bedsheets, and chuckled softly. "Well, maybe not hate me so much... as hating how silly human beds are when it concerns your anatomy."

I turned for the door, opened it, and stepped into the darkness of my bedroom. There was a light, but it had broken several weeks ago and I had not found a way to replace it yet. The headset had been my first goal with the money I made with my dayjob. I knew where everything was, just about, so I guided my daughter through the darkness to my bed, and sat myself down on it.

"It'zz dark in here," the girl commented, and I gently guided her down to sit on the bed beside me.

"The light is broken. I'll fix it some time... when I have money to," I explained. "The bed is a rectangle. We're at the foot end. There's pillows at the opposite end. It's covered by a cotton sheet which we can lift up over us. You're going to find it tugs at your body a bit. Especially your chitin legs and your stinger if it wraps around that. Don't worry if you poke holes through it. I have another few sheets."

"Yezz, Deborah," she returned obediently.

"Okay, I'm going to crawl up to the bed, and lay myself down on the left side," I told her. "You take your time to follow me, okay? I'll pull the sheet down a little so you can more easily find it."

I did not wait for her answer, working my way onto the bed and pulling my clothes off until I just wore my undershirt and underpants, then pulling the sheet down a bit and working my legs under it. I felt the movement of my daughter feeling her way around the bed as well, then her falling on her side beside me and a hand reaching out until it bumped into my shoulder.

"Okay, so now try to reach down, find the fold of the sheet, and we'll both pull it over us," I told her, and the hand moved down until I felt it tugging on the bedsheet I was still holding onto. Some more movement indicated her legs moving about until I heard a sharp rip, and she went completely motionless.

"A toe?" I asked.

"...yezz Deborah, zzorry," she answered.

"Try curling them a bit, then move them under the sheet again. Should allow you to stretch your legs fully," I suggested.

The motion returned, and I heard her sigh out as it stopped again, then the sheet being pulled up a little. I followed the motion of her hand pulling the sheet up over us.

"Your abdomen is sticking out of the bed, isn't it?" I asked. "Move a bit closer to me until it rests on the bed as well, okay?"

The girl shuffled forward in an awkward manner until she bumped into my body, and I gently reached an arm over her to help with getting the sheet over her abdomen. She mimicked my motion, her own arm draping over me, and I let myself lean into her form, breathing in her sweet aroma.

"I can zzee your thoughtzz again, Deborah," she told me, and I closed my eyes as I let my mind wander.

"That's okay. If it's just you, that's okay," I mumbled to her, feeling my eyes leak again. "Don't mind me crying either..."

"You mizzed uzz, but you fear uzz azz well," the girl offered softly, using the arm she had around me to gently squeeze me to her. "I won't betray you, Deborah. I won't betray you. If you keep me zzafe, I will keep you zzafe. I won't betray you."

I leaned in closer, needing her to be there for me like nothing before that moment.

"I won't betray the zzizzter who gave life to me," my daughter whispered to my mind, and I could only cry in response, until I fell asleep against her.

Dawn came in the form of a faint light penetrating the curtains of my bedroom, and I opened my eyes to the fuzzy bosom of my daughter, my chin resting in the crevace between the soft orbs.

I stared at her fuzzy neckline a moment, then let my head lean in against it until my forehead was resting against her collarbone, and let out a sigh.

"Are you comfortable, Deborah?" my daughter's voice reached my mind, and I smiled weakly to myself.

"Mrn... not awake yet... ask later," I mumbled to her.

"You are enjoying our clozzenezz, I feel," she returned, gently squeezing her arm around me again. "It hazz been a rough night for me, azz you had zzuggezzted it would be."

"Did you sleep at all?" I wondered, really not wanting to move yet.

"Zzhort napzz," she answered softly, "filled with dreamzz I can bezzt not tell you about."

"The pull of the hive," I realized. "You're feeling homesick, right?"

"In a way, yezz," she agreed. "Although thezze dreamzz painted the hive in a muzzh better light than I can remember it ever wazz."

"I know those dreams," I revealed to her, finally moving my head to look up at her bug eyes looking back down at me in wonder. "I've been fighting them since I left. I haven't slept as well as I have tonight for a long while now."

"Your mind kept opening and clozzing itzzelf to me throughout the night, Deborah," my daughter revealed. "Zzometimezz it wazz hard to follow what you were thinking of."

"Humans are finnicky things; we think too much. We don't have a queen's pheromones around us to guide our thoughts," I explained.

"Yezz, I realizzed that azz well," the bee girl offered back. "I have done a lot of thinking tonight. I think I did the right thing. I am pretty zzure I did. I don't think I could have zztayed in the hive for muzzh longer before the otherzz would have become aware of my errant thoughtzz."

"...and then they would have brought you before "mother"... and have her decide what to do with you," I grumbled. "Yes, I know the drill."

"I want to live on," she sighed, a painful expression on her face.

I smiled up weakly to her, reaching my hand up to gently cup her cheek with. "As I told you yesterday; as long as you don't try to pull me back to the hive, I'll do my best to keep you safe."

"Yezz, Deborah. And I told you; I will not betray the zzizzter who gave me life," she returned with a smile.

"I'm going to need you to wear some clothes around the house, and stay out of sight, but you should be used to the latter," I told her, moving my arm around to her back again and letting it slowly trace along her wings. "I'll cut up a T-shirt so you can still move your wings."

"Becauzze humanzz wear clothezz azz well, yezz," she agreed.

"Well, mostly that... it's just a bit... er..." I started, then did not know how to continue.

"You feel zzelf-conzziouzz when I walk around naked," my daughter realized.

"Maybe," I mumbled.

"I want you to feel comfortable around me, Deborah," the girl decided. "I will follow your lead."

I breathed in her scent again, then pulled my arm back from around her and moved to roll out of the bed, the other girl pulling her own arm back when she read in my mind what I was doing. I found my clothes on the floor beside the bed and quickly slipped into them, then checked the clock.

"We have about half an hour before your sisters will come to bother me again," I realized. "They eat breakfast too before coming my way."

"Yezz, I have zzeen them in the hive," the girl spoke mentally, sitting up herself in the bed and trying to get the sheet off of herself. There were a few more tears into the material, but I took it in stride. Between her sharp chitin toe- and finger-nails, and the stinger on her abdomen, I really had not expected the thing to survive the night.

"How do you know it was the ones who have bothered me?" I asked, stretching my muscles a bit.

"Becauzze I followed them here for the pazzt week, before I dezzided I zzhould contact you properly," she told me, trying to stand up from the bed with some buzzing of her wings. I closed my eyes as the wind from her wings hit me, and smiled weakly.

"Then you know how insistent their messages have been," I chuckled lightly. "It's like they really can't do without me."

"They can't," my daughter repeated.

"Yeah, I know. The idea of someone leaving the hive does not exist," I nodded, opening my eyes to find her standing a pace in front of me, looking me over.

"Is something wrong with the way I look?" I asked, feeling like I should strike a pose just for shits 'n giggles.

"I zzaw you before you put thozze pantzz on," she revealed. "It'zz the lazzt to zzhange then?"

I felt my cheeks flush deeply as I knew exactly what she hinted at, and nodded to her. "Please don't remind me..."

"I wazz juzzt curiouzz, zzorry," my daughter sighed, looking away.

"You know how you gather nectar, hun," I told her, reaching up to stroke a few errant hairs of hers back out of her face. "It has not seen use since I came back. If I think about it too much it... becomes all I can think of."

"Yezz," the other swallowed. "I have not gathered nectar in dayzz myzzelf. It izz zztarting to burn."

"Oh, don't worry; it will get worse," I groaned. "Let's get some food to get our minds off of it."

"Yezz pleazze," the bee girl agreed, taking a step to the side so I could pass by her.

"Now, the big issue is going to be to find something you can keep down," I offered, walking out of the bedroom and turning for the kitchen. "It may taste better or worse than the honey we ate in the hive, but your stomach is going to be the ultimate judge... and it's not going to be pretty."

"Yay..." my daughter offered sarcastically.

"You still have the option of returning to the hive, my daughter," I told her, glancing back to see her wince.

"No, thank you," she decided.

"In that case we need to find a honey replacement that will keep you alive," I returned with a shrug. "Now, if you'll get the glasses from the table in the living room I can make us some sugarwater to drink alongside it, while I dig up some stuff from the fridge."

"Yes, Deborah," my child spoke obediently, taking one step to the living room and then freezing in place.

"Oh, great," I grumbled, hearing it too.

"...can't zztay away from uzz..." came drifting in to both our minds from a source in the distance.

"It'zz just one of them," my daughter realized.

"The scout, my dear... You know there will be more before we're done eating," I snorted.

My daughter's wings started to buzz in anger, and she shouted a mental expletive back towards the source of the invading thoughts.

"Hey now!" I called out to her. "Keep an eye on the language you use, will you? Where did you pick up that word anyway?"

The girl turned around with a look of confusion on her face. "You zzaid that many timezz in your dreamzz, Deborah."

"...little tip; don't mimic everything I say or do... I'm not flawless," I chuckled.

"It zztopped the zzcout?" she threw back carefully.

"It did?" I wondered, then stood silently with her for a moment while we listened for the scout's thoughts trying to invade our minds again. It remained quiet, and I raised an eyebrow. "Think they returned home to report?"

The bee girl nodded slowly. "I would report on thizz zzort of thing myzzelf. Mother would want to know."

"The sooner I can get you to stop calling her mother, the better," I huffed. "She does not deserve that title. I birthed you."

"Yezz, Deborah," the other responded, a smile forming on her face.

"Can I get you to get those glasses now?" I wondered, "We need to keep moving if I am to get to my job in time."

"Yezz, Deborah," she returned, eagerly moving into the living room to get the glasses and leaving me to dig up some food.

Considering the liquid diet my daughter had been raised on, I decided to put down a bowl of yogurt, a glass of OJ, and a sliced cucumber on the kitchen table, then got myself a simple cheese sandwich on the side. As a precaution I also put a bucket on the floor next to the table.

I made the both of us some sugarwater again once my daughter returned with the glasses, and then sat down on a chair, with her having to turn the chair sideways due to her rear end sticking out.

"Okay, so this is yogurt," I pointed out, "this OJ, and this is a cucumber. The cucumber is the softest of the three, but it's more solid. The OJ is a bit stingy on your stomach. It actually gives me an acid stomach after drinking it. The yogurt has a bit of a sour taste, but it helps me get rid of the acidity of the OJ. It's what I started with myself. Well, this, and crackers, but I don't have any of those in the house at the moment."

My daughter nodded a bit, looking the items over. "Zzo I zzhould zztart with the cucumber, Deborah?"

"If you think you can handle it, sure!" I told her. "Just make sure to chew on it. You have molars, just as me, so just chew on it until it's a bit of a pulp in your mouth. You don't want to swallow blocks of it. They can get stuck in your throat. Just take small bites and chew it up to pulp before swallowing, and you should be fine. I'm honestly not sure what the Heimlich maneuver would do to your physique..."

The girl stared at me a moment from across the table, then reached tentatively out to the cucumber slices and brought one to her mouth, taking a carefully small bite of it and then chewing slowly while her facial expression changed from worry to surprise, to disgust.

"Don't like the taste, sweety?" I wondered, and she shook her head. "Yeah, it's nothing like the honey, I know..."

She swallowed the bit she had in her mouth down, making a face at me. "I'm zztarting to doubt thizz wazz a good idea," she coughed uneasily, taking the glass of sugarwater and taking a gulp from it to wash the taste of cucumber away.

"Don't worry, there are millions of recipes in the human world. We'll find you something you like and can hold down," I laughed softly, taking my own drink and lifting it to her in a silent toast before putting it to my lips.

"...are our zzizzter..." I heard in the distance, and my daughter froze again.

"Don't you dare utter that word again," I spoke into my glass, taking another sip from my drink and putting it down on the table again.

"It would not help anyway, Deborah; there are more of them now," the bee girl sighed.

"I can hear that as well, yes," I agreed.

"...we mizz you, come back to uzz..." the voices called out, drawing steadily nearer.

"Do you think you can handle my music, hun?" I wondered, pushing up from my chair.

"Yezz, Deborah," my daughter nodded, "but then you won't hear me either."

I hesitated for a moment, then let myself sink to my chair again and stared at the bee girl opposite from me.

"Can you do me a favor, sweety?" I asked softly, feeling very tired all of a sudden.

"Yezz, Deborah?" my daughter asked, her face quickly showing her growing concern for me.

"Tell them to fuck off for me?" I grumbled, reaching for my sandwich. "Make it nice and loud."

"In thozze wordzz, Deborah?" she queried, but then focused at my nod and I winced as she shouted the words at the top of her mental abilities, her voice filling my mind and pushing out everything else that had been in there a moment before.

As her voice rang through my mind, I felt dizzy and nauseous, and specks of light made it to my vision. I had to grab a hold of the table to keep from fainting, focusing strongly on the items on it. There was a mental ringing that replaced my daughter's voice which I could not place entirely, but it felt horrible.

"I think I zzcreamed one to unconzziouzznezz..." my daughter breathed out in surprise at her own abilities. "Their thoughtzz are in dizzarray."

Her focus returned to me, and she quickly pushed up from her chair, walked around the table, and held on to me. "Deborah, focuzz on my thoughtzz. Let me help you zztabilizze yourzz. Juzzt focuzz on my wordzz, let them pull your thoughtzz back from the darknezz. Here, take a zzip azz well."

I felt my glass getting pushed to my lips, and just did as told, drinking down the sugarwater as it was offered, and leaning into my daughter as she pulled me into an upright position. Slowly but surely my mind became clearer again and my own thoughts returned to the surface, and I turned my head away from the glass to look up at my daughter standing over me.

"...wow..." I breathed out in adoration at how strong her mental abilities were.

"They are returning home, mom," she trusted to me. "I made one of them faint, and two more lozzt their balanzze and almozzt crazzhed."

My heart melted as I heard her words, and tears welled up in my eyes again. "You did it..."

Confusion swept over her face again as she looked at me starting to cry anew, and one of her fingers gently wiped my tears from my cheeks. "Did what, Deborah?"

"You just called me mom," I told her. "Don't slip back now..."

The girl made a face of disbelief and shook her head. "I can't have, I'm not allowed to."

"You weren't thinking, you just did. You were too worried about me, probably. And you were listening in to the voices of your former sisters, that could have played a role?" I offered.

She looked like she still could not believe it, but put the half-empty glass back down on the table and gave a thoughtful nod. "Maybe?"

"Just try it, now," I suggested. "Just try calling me "mom". Not "mother", but "mom"."

"Yezz mo..." she tried, then made a face and took a step back, shaking her head. "I can't! Only mother... not another."

I slipped out of my chair, the world started to turn, and I collapsed on my hands and knees before her, shaking my head. "Eeugh... okay, that was not smart."

My daughter was on her knees and trying to help me up in a seating position before I finished that sentence, and I looked at her worried face. "Your mind izz zztill weakened from my zzhouting, Deborah," she told me. "Don't puzzh yourzzelf too hard, pleazze."

"Excuse me for wanting to come to you when you're letting your indoctrination get the better of you, my daughter," I mumbled, reaching for her neck and wrapping my arms around it, pulling myself closer to her and leaning my head against hers. "Your shout was awesome, by the way. Do it again if they return."

"They would zzend zzoldierzz nexzt if I do that again," she mused. "Mother will not take zzecond zzhanzzezz."

"If she won't send soldiers at us now for making a worker faint, then yeah," I chuckled softly.

"I can't fight againzzt zzoldierzz, Deborah," my child warned. "I am juzzt a worker."

"No, you're not "just a worker"; you are my daughter," I decided, pulling back a bit to look at her, and putting my hands on her shoulders. "There is no class system among humans. You're allowed to grow beyond what you were assigned to be at birth. You're allowed to take a name, to be an individual, to better yourself through study or training."

She stared back at me with a blank look, and I squeezed her shoulders softly. "You wanted me to give you sanctuary here. I'll do that, but you have to shirk off the hive's influence over you. Small steps; I know how difficult it's going to be."

Her gaze lowered, her antennae bumping against the top of my head. I knew how sensitive those things could be, and for her to bump them against me meant she had entirely lost sight of them. Her mind must be in deep turmoil from her lack of reaction to it.

I took a chance, and leaned in to press a kiss to my daughter's forehead. As I pulled back again, I saw water welling up in her eyes, and the girl just fell apart as I looked at her, throwing herself in my arms and bawling her eyes out against me as we sat on the kitchen floor together.

I just moved my arms around her, held her close, gently stroking her side. "Let it all out, my daughter. I am here for you," I cooed to her.

I was glad for my kitchen blinds to still be drawn closed from the evening before; what would my neighbours have thought had they passed by and peered inside? A human girl sitting on the ground with an utterly alien-looking bee girl in her arms, the latter crying like a newborn baby?

To me, she looked more familiar with every passing second. I had been as her - to some extent. I had given birth to her, and others like her, and had had no emotional attachment to the eggs I had lain at the time. But with her in my arms like this, I definitely felt a bond with her. I saw her as my daughter, as if I had properly given birth to her and not just put an egg in a hole in the hive's chambers and left it to others to tend to.

And my daughter, as she was, needed to let it all out. Every last sob was needed. I had all the time in the world to spend with her until she would calm down again. My job could wait. Everything else could wait. If those sisters of hers made their way back here to harrass us, they could full well wait as well! My daughter was more important than any of them.

Eventually she did calm down, rubbing her chitin-covered hands at her eyes in an effort to dry them, and blinking up at me still holding her.

"You need to drink after that," I warned her. "Without the honey sustaining you, you need to drink more than before. Especially after a crying fit like this."

"I don't know what happened," she returned meekly, trying to wriggle out of my grasp and sit up on her own again. I let her, helping her back in an upright position, and she placed her hands in her lap, fidgeting a bit with the fur coming out from under the chitin covering her legs.

"You needed to let your emotions run free. There's no room for such in the hive," I explained. "You have been keeping it all in, as I had while I was as you. It's unhealthy. Now you're in a safe place, you had to let it all out."

She nodded slowly at that. "It wazz zzo muzzh prezzure," she mumbled quietly to my mind.

"You shouted as loudly as you could, stumbled over calling me mom, ran yourself into a panic... I can imagine that took some toll on your mind," I chuckled, leaning in again to kiss her forehead.

She shivered a bit on the spot as I pulled back, looking at me with some confusion.

"Your "mother" would never treat you like this," I offered. "She only used you to keep her hive running. There are too many of your sisters there for her to keep track of. That's why we have to take care of the newborn ones for her."

She gave a slow nod at that.

"Humans are different; they only have one or two children at once," I continued. "They spend much more time with their own children. They listen to them, teach them, play games with them. I will teach you what I know, and you'll let me know if you have any questions. As long as you're with me, we will be a hive onto our own."

I moved to push up from the ground, and heard the buzzing of my daughter lifting herself up as well, then found a hand offered as she stood before I had managed to. I took her hand with a grin, pulling myself up properly with it and grinning up at her. "Thank you."

"My pleazzure, mom," she returned, still having an odd thoughtful look on her face.

"You haven't puked out the cucumber yet, I notice," I mentioned, grabbing hold of my half-empty glass of sugarwater and drinking it down quickly.

"My inzzidezz are zzhurning," my daughter told me while she emptied her own glass, and I motioned for her to look at how I made the sugarwater.

"You take some warm water, not hot. See how I turn the knobs? Then you put two spoonfulls in it. No more. If you put less in it you won't get as much satisfaction from it. Any more and it gets too potent. It tastes surprisingly nasty when it does." I explained as I stirred the sugar into the water to watch it dissolve. "You'll also want to make sure the chunks are all gone. So just keep stirring until they are all gone."

She tried to follow along with my instructions with her own glass, stirring the water a bit awkwardly, but I gave her a thumbs-up and a smile and she continued with it with renewed vigor.

Once our drinks were both finished, I took a sip of mine and turned my back to the counter, leaning against it with a sigh. "You have hunted before. You know how to hide in the shadows. I need to go to work, I'm late already. But if you want to come along..."

The bee girl pondered the offer for a moment, sipping thoughtfully at her drink. "Mom," she started. "Mom..." I saw tears welling up in her eyes again and I reached out to take her free hand in mine, smiling up at her.

"Yeah, you broke that part of the indoctrination. I'm proud of you," I trusted to her. "Now focus on what you were going to say beside that?"

The girl nodded slowly, blinking her eyes rapidly a bit and pulling her hand back from mine to wipe the tears from her cheeks. "Mom, I followed you for zzeveral dayzz. I know where you work. I can follow if you want me to."

"It would be nice to know at least one of the people hiding in the shadows is on my side, yeah," I chuckled darkly.

"Then I will come along," my daughter decided.

"We'll need to finish breakfast before we go. You did well on the cucumber. Could you try the yogurt next, you think?" I wondered, moving to the table, reaching out for my sandwich, and starting to bite down on it.

"Yezz, mom," the girl offered in all her obedience, slipping back on her chair and replacing the glass in her hand with the bowl of yogurt. I chuckled as she started to drink from the bowl, and reached out for the spoon I had placed on the table near it, holding it up in front of her.

"I usually use a spoon, but it's fine if you want to drink from it," I told her with a wink. "We'll go over etiquette if we find out whether you will transform to a more human look over time. Won't be relevant unless you have to mingle."

She brought the bowl down, her mouth painted with a layer of yogurt which slowly started to drip down her chin, and I laughed heartily at the face she made when it dripped down in the layer of fur around her neck. She tried to wipe it clean, resulting in her having to lick it off of her black chitin hands, and I reached for a napkin to hand her to get it out of her furry neckline with.

"Here, use this for wiping," I offered, reaching for another when I noticed the yogurt stuck in the joints of her fingers. "If you can't get it out with this, wash your hands at the faucet."

My daughter nodded slowly, fidgeting with the piece of paper and just making more faces at it.

"So, what did you think of the taste? I told you it was going to be a bit sour, didn't I?" I probed.

"Yezz mom. A little bit zzour, but the tazzte wazz better than that of the cucumber, if you azzk me," she agreed.

"I am asking you, dear, yes," I offered merrily, finishing off my sandwich. "Now we just need to hope your stomach will find it as agreeable."

"It izz zztill zzhurning, mom," the girl revealed.

"Churning is fine. As long as it doesn't start to hurt and push the food back up your esophagus. That's what the bucket's for," I pointed out. "Now I'm going to run off to get a quick shower in and get dressed in something I have not been wearing for three days straight. Will you be fine here?"

"Yezz mom, I will try the other foodzz on the table and zzee how it tazztezz," the bee girl decided, pointing at the OJ still remaining.

"And make yourself another drink when you finish this one," I warned her. "You cried a lot, and you're not at all used to that. You're going to need to extra water intake."

"Yezz mom," my daughter agreed, and I walked around the table to give her a kiss on top of her head.

"I'll be back in a few minutes. If those sisters of you return, just give me a moment of warning before you blast them as you did before," I chuckled. "That was awesome. And I'm a little envious because I can't do that anymore. And of your wings. I miss those..."

"Don't let it trap you again, mom," the girl warned, but there was a light blush on her cheeks.

"Trust me; the last thing I want is falling for it again. But I can still adore my child, can't I?" I threw back, stuck out my tongue, and walked over to the bathroom before she could say more. Ah, but telepaths and their range...

"Yezz mom," my child told me as I made my way through the house, "but you yourzzelf are worried about it."

I called back out to her; "No fair using my thoughts against me, you know?" plucking some clothes from my dresser.

"But you make it zzo eazzy for me to read them, mom?" the girl returned casually.

"Just because you gained my trust overnight does not mean you can just snoop about at will, dear," I shouted back again, making my way to the bathroom and undressing.

"Your belly doezz not look pudgy," the bee girl reflected. "Alzzo, thizz drink zzmellzz and tazztezz nazzt..."

"Dear?" I called out as it sounded like her sentence was broken in half, but the sounds of puking coming from the kitchen told me enough. "Okay, I'm hitting the shower now. Give your stomach a moment to calm down and pour yourself some more yogurt. The carton is in the fridge."

I stepped in the shower, lathered up, and heard occasional mental snippets of "...awful...", "...why would humanzz drink thizz?", and "...oh, there it izz." as my child muttered to herself.

"I can hear you!" I called out, washing the soap out of my hair and reaching for the conditioner.

"You were zzuppozzed to," my child called back mentally. "I'm trying to ezztablizzh a link with you zzo we can alwayzz talk with one another, no matter how far away we are."

"What, like a private hivemind?" I wondered, expressly only thinking it.

"Yezz." came the reply. "And that could have failed."

"I have full confidence in your abilities, my daughter," I thought back.

"You're putting me on the zzpot here, mom," she returned with a whimper. "I wazz honezzt when I zzaid I can't protect uzz againzzt zzoldierzz. Other workerzz, zzure... but zzoldierzz are a wholly different thing."

"You're not a worker anymore," I trusted back to her, rinsing off properly and reaching for the towel... which was not where I thought it should be... "...if I tell you where it is, could you find me a towel please?"

"I already zzaw the picture you were thinking of, mom," the girl chuckled. "I am on my way."

I held my hand out for the towel, hearing her chitin feet tapping on the stone floor of the bathroom after a short wait. "Thanks," I said out loud, closing my hand around the towel as she pressed it in mine, and using it to wipe my face so I could look her way. Her eyes were focused on my lower region and I looked down at my labia, as black as hers, surrounded by yellow/black striped peach fuzz.

"Three monthzz?" she asked, and I nodded.

"Still counting," I spoke out loud again. "It stopped leaking nectar after two."

She looked down at her own crotch, and I could almost sense her thoughts. They were so close that I could almost hear them, but far from my ability to grasp at them. It was a bit like trying to remember a fleeting dream.

"I don't smell your nectar," I told her.

"I've been keeping it in," she revealed, then let the muscles in her lower body relax and I quickly saw the golden liquid start to leak past her labia until it started to droop down between her legs as a long strand with a bulb at the end of it. It took a moment for the viscuous liquid to get to the point where the bulb let go from the rest of the strand, but then it collapsed on the floor between her feet and was quickly followed by a second drop, and a third...

I watched with a little too much interest, but it took a breath or two before the smell hit me; the soft sweet smell of pure honey; fresh from a beehive. Warmed by her body, the smell was ever so potent, and made my head spin. I felt like I needed to take a step forward, put my mouth to that snatch of hers, and drink from her until she had nothing left to...

"Mom!" my daughter decried, and I watched as she tightened her muscles again, then used a hand to wipe her crotch dry and washed her hand clean at the faucet beside her.

"I can't help it," I started, watching with a deep sense of loss at the honey being washed away like that.

"I zzhould not have done that," the bee girl realized, leaning down to wipe up the honey from the floor and wash it off of her hands in a similar fashion. "I know the effect it hazz on humanzz... I zzhould not have done that."

I realized I was still holding the towel she had given me, and had basically not moved from my spot since she had, and quickly unfolded it to start wiping myself dry with it. It gave me something other than that sweet honey to think of.

"No, it's okay," I thought to myself, hoping my child was listening in. "I asked after it. You did nothing wrong."

"I read your thoughtzz, mom," she returned, finishing up her cleaning. "You were zzorely tempted."

"I was, but I did not do anything, did I?" I commented out loud, twitching a bit as I found my crotch to have become more sensitive through the ordeal. I was definitely affected by the smell alone.

"You would have if I had not zztopped my flow," the bee girl decided.

"Well, fine, if you insist," I grumbled. "I guess I was on the verge of losing myself. I've had an interesting day so far, and I've only been asleep for an hour or two now?"

"You mean awake, mom?" my daughter corrected, and I threw my towel at her.

"There you go, see? I'm not even awake enough to get that right!" I snorted, walking up to within a few inches of the bee girl since she was standing right next to my pile of clothes, and starting to dress myself while she pulled the towel from her face.

"You know how a toilet works, hun?" I asked her, motioning to the toilet in the same room.

"I can zzee that in your mind, yezz," she told me, moving to it and sitting on it sideways.

"Just let your nectar droop in that, clean yourself, and flush it. Should help you get rid of it, and keep me from getting affected by it," I decided, and was immediately hit by her smell again. I grabbed the rest of my clothes, bowled out of the bathroom, and made my way to the bedroom before I could get funny ideas again, with my darling daughter repeating the word "zzorry" to my mind over and over again.

"Stop that," I thought back to her, falling backwards on the bed and staring at the ceiling while trying to get my thoughts back under my own control. "You did as you were told. I can't fault you for that."

"If you zzay zzo, mom," she muttered back, obviously embarrassed.

"You've come from a hive where you did everything you were told; I can't fault you for mindlessly following my suggestions," I repeated. "You'll do fine, my daughter. I'll help you become a true individual yet."

"It'zz not wazzhing away," I heard her mumble to my mind, and I expressly focused on the idea of flushing a toilet. "Ah, like zzo..." I heard her comment, followed by the sound of the toilet flushing.

I pushed back up from the bed, changed my soaked panties for a new pair... and got dressed properly. I also put on some more perfume than I would usually wear, hoping it would mask my dear daughter's smell from me.

I walked out into the living room while the toilet flushed again, but then the bee girl walked out of the bathroom still looking embarrassed.

"It's okay, dear. I won't judge you," I told her. "No matter what happens, I won't judge you. You're doing your best to fit in here, you've been trying so hard to keep me from falling back to the intoxication, and you're even opening your thoughts to me. How can I fault you? If you have problems understanding something, I will do my best to explain it to you. You shouldn't feel bad about not getting it on the first try. Humans spend the first twenty of their years trying to come to terms with how the world works, after all, and you're only... er..."

"Zzixzteen monthzz now, mom?" she returned.

"Okay, in case any other human asks; you're sixteen years old..." I coughed, realizing the speed at which these bee girls grew to maturity was vastly different from that of humans. "No human would accept you are sixteen months old."

"Yezz mom," the bee girl nodded.

"...dizzent cannot be tolerated..." I heard a more masculine voice cut in, the voice still far away, and both our heads turned for the direction of the hive.

"Zzoldierzz," my daughter realized before me.

"Yes dear. Time for us to head for my workplace. They should not touch us in public," I decided. "That visit yesterday gave me an idea, though... although you're going to have to play along with me for this."

I quickly turned back for the bedroom, retrieved a long coat from the dresser, and a hat which should hide both my girl's antennae and cast a shadow over her facial features. As I returned to my daughter with the items, I suddenly realized the fur lining I had witnessed on the other woman had not been part of her coat, but was her body's neckfur...

"Okay, if you fold your wings up on your back and put this over it, keep your abdomen as low as you can and try to keep it from twitching, you should be mostly hidden from the humans," I explained. "They would think your hands are stuck in gloves if they show, but try to keep your feet from being seen. Also, wear this hat. It will be uncomfortable on your antennae, and I am really sorry for that, but it's better than having the humans call you out and forcing you to flee..."

The girl tucked her abdomen in as much as she could, and I helped her in the long coat. The fabric helped her with keeping her abdomen low, her stinger barely sticking out from under it. She would have to keep her back facing a wall or such to keep from exposing herself. I made a mental note to let her walk on ahead while out on the streets so I could block the view of it with my own body.

She hesitated with putting on the hat, very carefully letting it sink down over her antennae and realizing it was going to squish them down a bit. "I'm not zzure about thizz one, mom. Izz there no other way?"

"Unless you can think of a way to explain your bug eyes, yellow face, and big yellow antennae to people, I don't think there is, hun," I sighed. "I wish it was different, but humans are still among the more xenophobic of species around. They've bombed or entirely reasoned away so many of the mutated species who appeared in the past hundred years that I'm surprised the hive survived to this day..."

My dear girl squirmed uneasily before she just pulled the hat down on her head, wincing from the way her antennae got squished down between her hair and the hat. "Well, thizz izz uncomfortable," she muttered, and I reached out to help her straighten the hat a bit, making sure the shadow it cast over her did what it was supposed to.

"It's better than waiting here until those soldiers storm into the place," I suggested, putting my own coat on, grabbing hold of my keys... and holding my hand up between us to stare at the honey-coated keys now stuck to my palm. "Right... I forgot about this."

My daughter reached out to take the keys from my hand, turned back for the bathroom, and cleaned them under the faucet while I walked over to the kitchen to do the same to my hand. We both reached the hallway at the same time, and I smiled in her direction as she handed me the clean keys.

I chose one from the set, held it up between us, and pointed at it with my other hand. "This one opens the front door. The one directly next to it opens the apartment building's door. Remember these two and you'll be able to get into the apartment even without me," I explained, then gave her the keys back.

She stared at the keys in her own hand, then gave a questioning look up at me. "Why did you give them to me, mom?"

"Because I don't intend to get home without you today, dear," I told her. "Keep them safe for me."

Having said that, I walked into the hallway, undid the locks on the front door for which I did not need keys, and pulled the door open to step out onto the gallery. I waited for my daughter to overcome her shock and follow me out, noticing how she put the keys in the left pocket of her coat, and motioned for her to go ahead towards the elevators while I drew the door closed behind her.

I followed behind, watching her as she walked, and especially the way the barbs on her stinger pulled on the coat's fabric. It was barely noticeable unless you knew where to look, silencing some of my more direct worries about this plan. Her abdomen was just a bulb on her back, but it could have been anything, really. Someone with a rather voluptuous rear end would have had a similar protrusion on the back, even if they were fully human. The fabric did a good job of making it look neutral.

"It'zz a good thing, too," my daughter commented to my findings, clearly having listened in to my thoughts. "We don't have the time to go back to find a different zzet of clothezz for me."

"How close are they?" I wondered, and a picture of the nearby freeway as seen from overhead popped in front of my mind's eye, making me stumble on my next step a moment. "Ah, that's about five minutes away, isn't it?"

"I don't know how fazzt the zzoldierzz can fly, mom," she returned, having made it to the elevators and staring at the metal doors.

I joined her at her side and pressed the call button. "If they fly as fast as me, it would be five minutes. We'll be just out the door and among humans if we're lucky," I told her. "They don't say much, do they?"

"They think mozztly tactical thoughtzz to one another, like formation flight patternzz," the bee girl revealed. "And it'zz all in code. I can't make zzenzze of half of it."

"You're hearing them, then?" I wondered, and she gave a quick nod.

"Azz zzoon azz they are within range, I hear their thoughtzz conzztantly," she sighed. "It izz another reazzon why I need to be away from the hive, mom... it'zz too much noizze."

"And range, for you, is?" I prodded, stepping into the elevator as the doors opened and waiting for her to join me before I pressed the button for the lobby.

"I don't know for zzertain, mom," she answered as the lift set itself in motion. "It izz a combination of my own abilitiezz and that of theirzz. I can hear zzome zzooner than otherzz, even if they fly right nexzt to one another."

I nodded slowly to that. "It's worth testing between the two of us, if we have the chance. I don't have telepathic abilities of my own anymore, so I can't influence your range."

"I think our telepathy goezz via our antennae, mom," my daughter offered, tapping her hat with a single finger.

"Probably?" I returned, not being too sure of it myself. "I don't really know for sure. I've been more interested in drowning out the sounds of the others than in testing if I could send them messages since I left the hive. So I don't know if I lost my abilities when I lost my antennae or not."

"Did they zzhrink into your head or fall off, mom?" my daughter wondered.

"They shrunk. Basically everything shrunk back into my body," I explained, then pointed behind me. "The wings too. They sort of shrivelled up into the wingbases and then the muscles disappeared overnight. Left me with an odd empty feeling where they used to be."

The bee girl looked behind herself, found the mirror on the wall, and turned to look at herself a bit, turning this way and that. "I hope thizz workzz, mom."

"So do I, dear," I sighed, looking over at the mirror and spotting the differences between the other girl and me.

With the hat on her head, she was slightly taller with me. Without it, she was just about the same size. I was a little wider than her, her alienesque anatomy having helped to keep her upper torso nice and thin. Her lower torso was a different matter; her hips were considerably wider than mine. It was all moot while she wore the overcoat, though; it just sort of hung down from her shoulders, and only barely showed where her hips flared out.

She looked like a regular human when seen from the front, albeit dressed a bit warmly for the summer weather. The hat's wide brim further helped to hide her face, and her yellow skin looked more like an olive skintone as a result. The only one thing that could lead to issues was her inability to speak.

The doors behind us opened, and we both turned to face a duo of police officers, who stepped aside to let us out of the elevators. "Morning, ladies," one of them greeted, and we nodded our heads to them in silence. I quickly took pace behind my daughter, and we walked out of the building in single file while I heard the elevator doors close behind me. I dared not look back out of fear of the policemen still standing there watching us go out.

There were enough people on the street to make a direct assault on us undesirable for the soldiers on their way to intercept us. I knew they had more than just their stingers and attached venom sacs to make my life an unpleasant one; (No bee in their right mind would sting a person unless they absolutely had to; it would mean their untimely death.) they were built a lot stronger than the workers, with a tougher exoskeleton that was at least several inches thicker than that of the worker bees. They were also more androgynous, having more masculine features or being actual males. It was often difficult to tell with them without staring them in the crotch. I'm sure some of the more dominant human girls made it to the soldier class upon being transformed...

"The zzpearzz are the biggezzt problem with them," my daughter cut through my thoughts, weaving her way through the crowd as good as she could.

"The spears and the few with bow and arrows, yes," I sighed mentally to her. "I doubt they're going to use them on us in this crowd, but I could see them toss a spear or arrow at us out of frustration if they catch us off guard."

"I will keep monitoring their thoughtzz, mom," she returned. "Wazz it a left here?"

"A right, and a left at the intersection following that," I corrected her. "And that would be a good idea in any case. If you can decypher their code it could help us in the long run. I doubt "mother" would stop sending workers and soldiers both at us for a long while. She hasn't let up in three months for me, personally, and now you're here as well..."

"I will try to make zzenzze of it," the undercover bee girl agreed. "They are right above uzz. Don't look."

"The less I see of the hive, the better. You're a welcome exception to them," I chuckled. "I won't look at them unless they are as insistent as that woman from yesterday."

"About her," my daughter started, motioning with her left hand to the walkway opposite the street from us. I followed her hand gesture to spot the woman walking at the same pace as us on the other side of the road. Same coat, same hat, and definitely showing a telltale bulge in the back.

"How long has she been following us?" I asked of the girl in front of me, our entire conversation so far having been purely in thought.

"Zzinzze we left the apartment, mom," the girl revealed.

"I haven't heard her trying to insert her thoughts in my mind yet, though?" I started. "I wonder what is up with her. She confuses me. I had not seen one of the hive wearing clothes before she popped up yet, and she smeared her honey on my doorknob for some reason as well."

"Zzhe izz not part of the hive, mom," my daughter mumbled. "I don't recognize her, and can't read her thoughtzz."

"She told me "mother" was sad I left and that I should return to them," I protested. "She has to have come from there."

"Weird," the bee girl muttered back, clearly confused by this discrepancy in the facts. "I'll have to keep an eye on her, mom. I can't read her thoughtzz, zzo I can't keep track of her without actually zzeeing her."

"When we get to the store, take up position near the entrance," I suggested. "Keep your back to a wall, or in-between some of the displays if you have a chance to. No use showing your back to the humans. Some are too inquisitive for their own good."

"Yezz mom," came the reply as we turned for the left at the intersection. I checked for the woman again and realized she was waiting a little away from the intersection, but on the same pavement we would end up on when we crossed the road.

"Keep a mental eye on me once we cross the street, dear," I urged my daughter. "We're going to be within arm's reach of her."

As if the woman had heard my thoughts, she brought a hand up out of the pocket of her coat, and held it up so we could see she was holding a piece of paper in it. My dear daughter glanced back at me a moment, then held up her own empty hand to mimic the woman's motion, and the woman nodded once, then brought her hand down again, leaving it outside of her coat pocket.

"Thizz izz zztrange?" the bee girl mumbled to me, and I could only agree.

"I can't remember having ever seen one of us use paper for anything other than hive insulation," I muttered, shaking my head in disbelief. "The light's green."

"Yezz," my daughter returned, setting in motion with the rest of the crowd.

I followed behind, watching the woman draw nearer to where we would arrive at the other side of the road, her hand with the piece of paper coming up and that of my daughter's moving to meet her. As soon as the piece of paper switched hands, the woman turned for the crosswalk and she went in the opposite direction we had come from.

I could just see her bug eyes in the shadow of her hat as she passed me, the yellow tone to her skin, her black hair, and then she was behind me and out of sight. We stopped on the street corner, just off to the side of the path most people took, and both turned to look in the direction the woman had headed for, but could not find her in the crowd.

The bee girl to my side, her back turned to the wall of the building we were near, offered the piece of paper she held to me, smirking from under the shadow of her hat. "I can't read, mom."

"I imagine you can't, no," I sighed mentally, taking the paper and unfolding it to find a clear English text, written in slight cursive. The writing style was obviously feminine and spoke of an intelligence I did not realize existed in the bee girl hive; excepting my dear daughter who had shown herself to match most humans in level of intelligence, if not more so.

The girl in question leaned in to look at the paper as well. "What doezz it zzay, mom?"

"She wants to meet us. Alone," I revealed. "I know the place she mentions in the letter; it is directly opposite from the apartment building I live in. It's a small park, some trees, a fountain... Ample room for others to hide, but she wants to meet after sundown."

"Mozzt of uzz would return to the hive before that time," my daughter realized.

"She must live in town," I mused, folding the paper up again and tucking it in my pocket. "Where are the soldiers, dear?"

"They flew on ahead to zzcope out your workplazze, mom," she revealed.

"They didn't see our little exchange then?" I wondered.

"Not azz far azz I can tell, no," the girl answered.

"Good. Make sure they don't know of it. Don't let our thoughts betray us on this. As far as we are concerned; this never happened. If you find either of us thinking of it, just try to remind us of dinner," I suggested. "Just say "dinner" when you catch me thinking of it. If she's not part of the hive the soldiers are a part of, they don't need to know about her."

"Know about who, mom?" my daughter wondered, straightening her back again and turning for my workplace.

"Exactly," I chuckled, following behind her as she set in motion again. "Now let's pick up the pace a little; I'm already an hour late for work... my manager will have my hide for this. By the way, you're my cousin or something. My mute cousin. From out of town. And you have a cold. So you need to dress warm. Something like that. Just nod and shake your head depending on what you're asked."

"I'm uzzed to following orderzz, mom," the girl returned, walking a little faster. "We're going to be in vizzual range to the zzoldierzz when we round the nexzt corner."

"I know. You can see the store's neon sign over the heads of the crowd from miles away," I laughed. "I swear the owner never left the 1980s."

"I'm offizzially confuzzed," my daughter mumbled. "Thozze picturezz in your mind make no zzenzze to me."

"We'll do an '80s movie marathon some day, if we ever get the hive off our back," I suggested, following my daughter into the store proper and mentally preparing myself to face the music once my manager would spot me.

The day was, as usually the case, mostly without incidents. With my daughter's help we managed to catch a shoplifter, which made my manager a bit more lenient towards my late arrival, but overall there were just the long line of regular customers, foul mouthed customers, customers who were in a rush, customers who were trying to get discounts while having "forgotten their coupons at home", and the odd one who counted out the money she gave me until she was ensured she would get a fiver back in change.

"I hate humans," I mentally trusted to my daughter, who had taken to lazily roaming the aisles to observe human behaviour and especially to see if she could find another shoplifter. It actually worked as a deterrent since she looked like an undercover police officer...

"They do appear to want to make thingzz azz difficult azz pozzible, yezz," she mused. "How many different foodzz are there in thizz zztore?"

"So many different ones that I am personally glad we have a computerized scanner for them. I would have hated to type every article code in by hand," I thought back. "Are you having fun out there?"

"There izz a human larvae in a boxz on wheelzz here. It izz reaching up at me," she revealed.

"Best to give it a friendly wave and then walk on, dear. Human parents tend to be hostile to strangers interacting with their kids more often than not," I suggested.

"Yezz mom," she returned, while I continued scanning my customer's items and went through the spiel of asking for what payment option they wanted to use and if they needed a bag or not.

The day went by like that quicker than it usually did, my daughter's mental comments helping me to stifle the usual urges to kill the people who came by my register, and I even stayed a bit longer to make up for my late arrival. My manager appreciated it since it meant he could keep an extra register open during rush hour, and I got a bar of chocolate which was past its sell-by date from him "for your cousin" when I clocked out.

I trailed behind my daughter again on the way home, and she reported on the location of the soldiers following us until we got near to the apartment building. She only had to call out "dinner" to me four times on the way back, when my thoughts drifted to the park nearby and the meeting we would have later that evening.

With the soldiers having landed on the rooftop of the apartment building, I decided to steer the bee girl past the apartment building's entrance and on towards a nearby fast food restaurant where I ordered some fries - specifically without salt on them, and a couple of chicken-based snacks with as few spices as the clerk would allow me to get.

I emptied the fries bag into one of the snack boxes, handing the bag to my daughter to use as a puke bag if needed, then had her try the fries one at a time, while I ate more quickly from the snacks I knew I could keep in myself. I left some of the snacks and half of the fries for my daughter, who slowly made her way through them, making faces at me from the different tastes.

The result was that the fries were okay, but gave her a dry throat. I apologized for that. She at least kept them down. The nuggets were fairly okay as well, but she didn't like the skin on them and picked that off of the pieces she did eat. No puke reflex yet, so we went on to the next one. Small chicken drumsticks which were mainly meat with a light spice covering, but I had to warn her of the bones and cartilage on them. She didn't like those at all, going so far as to spit the parts she had taken in her mouth into the puke bag without swallowing any of it.

I kept checking the light outside while we ate, until my daughter commented the soldiers were on their way home. "Nightfall in half an hour, mom," she suggested.

"Well, if they left that means we can leave this place as well. Are you finished taste testing?" I suggested, and she quickly shoved the food on the table my way.

"Yezz... I can't believe humanzz eat thizz on a regular bazzizz," she groaned.

"Truth be told; most humans can't either cause it's supposedly very unhealthy," I chuckled. "Yet most of them eat it even if it's considered unhealthy and they really don't think anyone should. Really, humans are weird."

"I get that," she returned, following me out the door until I reminded her that she had to take point for a reason.

We walked silently towards the park, with me guiding her with mental instructions, and sat ourselves down on a park bench near the fountain. The letter had specified the specific bench, and a specific time; some ten minutes away.

"So, considering, how did you like today so far, dear?" I asked of my daughter, leaning into her side a bit. "There's every chance this is a trap and we're going to be dragged back to the hive after this, so it may be the last time we talk."

"Humanzz are weird creaturezz, but you exzzeeded my exzpectationzz. You treat me like an equal, and taught me zzo muzzh more than I conzzidered wazz outzzide of the zzcope of the hive," she mused. "I wazz zzurprizzed how thankful your manager wazz when I pointed out the zzhoplifter to him."

"Oh, about that, this is yours," I offered, producing the bar of chocolate from my coat pocket and handing it over to her. "It's called chocolate and it's a fairly strong taste, but it's one of the better things about human food. Chocolate is sought after by a lot of people when they're feeling sad because it boosts their spirits. If you choose to want to taste it, try a little bit of it. Cause if you can't stomach it, it will wreck havoc on you... Dogs can die from it, for instance. I have no idea what it'd do to a bee girl."

"Zzmall bitezz," my daughter repeated. "Thank you, mom."

I smiled up at her, but then nodded in the direction of a lone figure coming towards us from some distance away. "Think that's her?"

"If it izz, I zztill can't read her thoughtzz," the bee girl returned.

We both watched as the lone figure became more defined as she walked up to us, her gait definitely feminine, and soon enough noticed the black chitin legs and shadow of a stinger between them sticking out underneath the long coat she wore. Her head was hidden in the shadow of a large brimmed hat, and a black chitin-covered hand reached up from a coat pocket to give a wave as she saw us looking in her direction.

My daughter waved back almost on automatic, and I decided to join the two, standing up as the woman drew near enough to be within conversation range.

"I read your note," I spoke out loud, but my mind was immediately invaded by her voice.

"Pleazze don't zzpeak; I can read your thoughtzz," she told me, and I glanced in my daughter's direction. At her nod, I realized she had heard her as well.

"Okay," I continued in thought, helping my daughter push up from the bench so the three of us were all standing. "As I said; I read your note."

The woman nodded slowly, then motioned to the sky above. "I could not zzhanzze meeting you until after nightfall. You know how the hive workzz; they all return there before the zzun goezz down."

My daughter tilted her head a little. "Why didn't you?"

"I'm not part of the hive anymore," the woman spoke mentally, and I could sense a tinge of sadness to her voice.

"But you told me to return to the hive," I stated. "You stood in front of my door and told me to return to the hive. You smeared honey on my doorknob..."

"Did you tazzte it?" the woman asked, to which I shook my head. "If you had tazzted it, you would have realizzed it wazz different from the hive'zz honey. Your daughter'zz izz different from mine azz well. I am a mutation."

"A mutation?" the both of us asked, and the woman glanced around for a moment before taking her hat off and unzipping her coat, tossing both on the bench behind us.

For a moment I thought I was looking at just another bee girl, albeit a bit taller, slender, and mature-looking, but then she turned a little and raised her abdomen and my eyes widened. "You're a wasp!"

"Yezz," she returned.

"What'zz a wazzp?" my daughter asked, and I pointed at the woman in front of us.

"Well, she is. Other than that, a wasp differs from a bee in that they... basically don't die when they sting someone," I revealed a pretty big difference between the two. "And their honey is generally not consumed by humans."

"There are more differenzzezz between our zzpezziezz, but you are right," the wasp lady agreed. "We alzzo are more independent than beezz generally are. Which izz why I wazz ejected from the hive. Wazzpzz zzometimezz attack beehivezz..."

My daughter pulled her own hat off, then her coat, and dropped them on the other outfit already on the bench behind her, stretching her wings and abdomen a moment, then glanced between herself and the wasp. "You alzzo don't have azz muzzh hair on your body," she commented, "and your patternzz are different."

"That izz true azz well, yezz," the wasp responded, as I started to feel overdressed.

"So, again; why did you try to get me to go back to the hive?" I asked, getting a bit tired from the distractions away from my question.

"In zzhort; to tezzt your rezzolve. Had you given in to my puzzhing, I would not have revealed myzzelf to you," she finally revealed. "But you drew my attention when your daughter came to zzearzzh for you. Do you have any idea how rare that izz?"

I shook my head. "She claims she woke up one day to the realization her life in the hive was not what she wanted it to be."

"That wazz three monthzz ago, about when mom left the hive," my daughter added.

"You call her mom?" the wasp wondered.

"Yezz. I can't call her "mother" azz mother izz in the hive. I cannot give her that title, but I can call her mom," the bee girl explained. "I don't have the zzame reaction to calling her that. I phyzzically can't call her "mother"."

"That izz normal," the wasp suggested. "You zzhould not feel bad about that. It izz part of our zzpezziezz, whether we are wazzp or bee or other hive-animal."

I reached up to rub a finger at the side of my head, trying to grasp it all. "Okay, so I get you wanted to test me, I guess. Bit of a jerky thing to do; gave me a headache, but I get it. You needed to be sure. But why did we have to meet here in the open, and why are you two naked now?"

"The park izz dezzerted. Nobody will come here until morning," the wasp explained. "I did not want to reveal my houzze to you in cazze you were zztill under the hive'zz influenzze."

"That izz zzmart thinking," my daughter mused.

"I thought zzo," the wasp chuckled. "And your houzze izz being monitored, but thizz park izz not."

"Monitored?" I asked.

"Camerazz in the hallway," the woman revealed. "Your landlord hazz hizz zzyzztemzz linked with the polizze zzyzztem. If there'zz zzuzzpizziouzz activitiezz he zzendzz them over to do a zzheck."

"Oh, yes, we came across two officers on our way down this morning," I realized.

"Probably becauzze I had been hanging around your houzze yezzterday," the woman pondered. "I lingered longer than I had initially thought I would. I had wanted to be away before you came home, but then we... bumped... in the elevator."

"I got half of a heart attack from that bump," I grumbled. "Especially when you started following me."

"I could not zzpeak to your mind azz the otherzz from the hive were lizztening in at the time," the wasp smirked, then moved to stretch her wings out a bit behind her. "It getzz colder again every night; we're getting clozzer to autumn."

"I notizzed that too," my daughter interjected. "It wazz colder than I thought it would be yezzterday."

"You guys do remember you have coats on the bench here, right?" I suggested, motioning towards them.

"They're zztifling. I only wear it to blend in with the humanzz," the woman coughed uneasily. "If it wazz not for them bludgeoning me to death or worzze if they realizzed what I am, I would not wear them at all."

"I only wore them becauzze mom zzaid I needed to," my daughter added.

"Fine, fine, I get that part. But I have one pretty big question for you, miss wasp;" I started. "Were you originally human, or were you born as this?"

"I wazz originally human, yezz," she answered. "Why do you azzk?"

"I was originally human as well. I still have not fully turned back yet, even after three months of having been away from the hive," I revealed. "My daughter was born in the hive."

"Ah, you are wondering why I am zztill fully wazzp?" she wondered with a light smile and a chuckle.

"Kind of, yes. As well as whether my daughter could ever become a human," I explained.

"I do not have thozze anzzwerzz," the wasp woman returned. "I have not been near a hive for yearzz now, and have found a way to live a life among the humanzz azz I am now."

"Would you want to be a human if given the zzhoizze?" my daughter wondered.

"Not really, no," the wasp answered with a shrug. "Why would I give up the ability to fly, or to zzpeak telepathically? There'zz zzo muzzh about thizz life that I would mizz if I were human again..."

"Maybe that'zz why you are zztill a wazzp? Mom hazz been craving to become human again," the bee girl pointed out.

"Well, craving... I really just want them to stop bothering me," I sighed. "I thought it would work if I was a human..."

"They will never give up unless you make a zztatement," the wasp sighed, shaking her head. "If you're fully human again, they will zzimply kidnap you and forzzefeed you their honey until you are indoctrinated again."

I found myself stagger back, bump into the bench, and fall down on it, realizing the truth in the wasp's words. "...but... I don't want to be among them anymore... Why don't they simply accept that?"

My daughter smiled weakly in my direction. "You know why we can't azzept that, mom. You know why we can't let a zzizzter ezzcape."

I looked up at her in confusion. "But you want to be away from them as well, you said."

"I do, yezz," the bee girl nodded. "And at the zzame time I can't reconzzile that idea with wanting to keep the hive zzafe and do what mother exzpectzz of me."

"I know thozze feelingzz well," the wasp murmured. "Although the hive hazz been nothing but hozztile to me until they lozzt my zzent."

"Could you teazzh uzz how to lozze them, zzizzter?" my daughter wondered of the other one, and I saw the wasp take a surprised step back.

"It'zz been a long time zzinzze anyone called me zzizzter..." she stammered.

"Well, why not?" the other girl wondered. "You and I, we are both inzzectkin, are we not? Bee, or wazzp, it doezz not matter to me in the zzlightezzt."

"Don't dizzcount your mom yet," the wasp motioned. "Zzhe zztill zzmellzz like uzz."

"My genitals don't want to give in yet," I mumbled, shaking my head at myself. "I can't go back to the hive. It would be the death of me. How can I defend myself and my daughter against that?"

The woman took a few paces towards me, knelt down on her hunches, and placed a chitin-covered hand on my knee. "Can I give you zzome advizze?"

I nodded at her, swallowing strongly. "Anything, please. I am running out of ideas. I've been fighting them off for three months now, and since my daughter joined me they've started to send soldiers our way."

"Give up the idea of wanting to be human again," the wasp told me flatly. "You will never be fully human anymore. The honey zzhangezz you inzzide and out, deeper than you want to know. I went to doctorzz to get zzhecked up. My DNA hazz zzhanged fundamentally. I am more wazzp than human. There izz no going back for me either. Come to termzz with that, embrazze that, and try to find a plazze for yourzzelf in the human zzozziety azz an... inzzectkin, azz your daughter put it."

"But I'm almos there, aren't I?" I suggested, not wanting to think of her suggestion and its implications. "Look at me; I am human!"

The wasp shook her head. "You don't zzmell the zzame. Otherzz will find you. And, azz you are now, any of uzz can eazzily overpower you. If you embrazze the bee inzzide of you, you can learn to hone the abilitiezz that come with our formzz. You can better protect yourzzelf that way."

The bee girl behind her fidgeted a moment, then moved to sit on the bench beside me, and reached over to take my left hand in both of hers. "There izz truth in what zzhe zzayzz, mom. Remember how you almozzt collapzzed when I zzcreamed at the workerzz? The thoughtzz you had when you zzmelled my nectar? We beezz don't have thozze zzame rezzponzzezz among eazzh other. You know thizz. You've been around magnitudezz more nectar in the hive. And few in the hive jump on another."

I looked between the two of them, starting to feel like I was moved into a corner and had no way out of it anymore. "But... but I don't... I..." I stammered, and my daughter leaned in to gently kiss my forehead.

"I won't leave you, I won't let you return to the hive, and I will alwayzz protect you, zzizzter who gave life to me," she stated. "I will keep you zzafe. Can you truzzt me in that, even if we only met yezzterday?"

I stared at her and realized she had bared her thoughts to me. All of her thoughts. I could read her like an open book, see into her past, and I felt tears well up in my eyes. "My manager's going to hate me for this... How would I do this?"

My daughter smiled to me, then beckoned me closer. "Juzzt zzhoozze it."

I felt the wasp detach from me and take a step back, while my daughter pulled me closer and pressed her lips to mine, suddenly releasing a cloud of pheromones around herself. My brain was awash with sensation again, drifting on the smells she had assaulted my nose with, and I could only follow her motions as she started to help me get undressed.

Slowly but surely we peeled my clothes off of me, with me drifting in an odd state of trance, until I was bared fully before the both of them, the cool night air drifting past me.

My daughter brought my hand down between my legs, making it touch the outer lips of my vulva, and I felt their wetness on my fingers.

"You don't need me, mom," my daughter's voice came drifting into my mind as if through an echo machine. "You're zztill a bee inzzide. You only need your own nectar to make you whole again."

She guided my hand back up, and I stared at my fingers and the golden nectar coating them. Honey, nectar, or whatever you may call it. The substance that could turn a human into a bee if they wanted it badly enough. I knew what it would do to me if I tasted it...

My daughter took a step back from me, smiling weakly. "It izz your dezzizzion, mom," she told me, taking position next to the wasp woman.

I looked them over; both yellow and black, stripes, fuzzy fur in various places on their body, chitin-covered limbs, abdomen with stingers, and wings... I really missed having wings. I really, really did.

I sniffed as my mind cleared from the initial blast of my daughter's pheromones, and looked from the two insectwomen in front of me to my sticky hand, tears welling up in my eyes again.

"I... I would lose my humanity again," I spoke to them with my thoughts.

"You never regained it," the wasp returned calmly. "It izz juzzt a fazzade. You are zztill a bee inzzide."

I swallowed at that realization, looked over to my daughter to lock eyes with hers, and brought my hand to my lips.

The taste of my nectar was like a return to paradise; there was nothing like it. It was the ambrosia of the gods; it made my head spin simply from the first drip I licked off of my hand.

I felt a tingle run down my spine, followed by a sting of pain, and stumbled on my feet.

My daughter tried to rush towards me, but the wasp lady held her back.

I brought my hand down between my legs again, wiping another dollop of nectar onto my hand and brought it up to lick it off again. The second tasting sent a fire down through my limbs, and I cried out in pain, falling to my knees. Hard chitin burst from my kneecaps, and it formed fully before I hit the pavement. More chitin broke out of my skin, as if it had just been hiding underneath for me to make the choice to become myself again. My arms underwent a similar change; chitin breaking out like hives across my skin, then merging together until my arms were coated up to close to my shoulders, fuzz and cartilage sprouting forth from the expected spots.

I whined in pain as my toes merged again, my feet forming into claw-like ones with two toes with sharp chitin nails in front and one in back, just like the ones my daughter had, and I panted heavily while resting on one hand and both knees. I brought my hand down a third time, more nectar leaking from my body and getting moved up to my mouth again. It was enough to fill my hand fully, and I pushed it through my lips until my mouth was filled with it, swallowing it down eagerly. I knew what was to come next, and it was going to hurt so wonderfully... it was going to re-establish that I was a bee for real.

Even knowing it would come did not prepare me for the pain, and I shot forward on the pavement, coming to a rest flat on my chest with my head almost on my daughter's feet, as my abdomen started to grow out of my back. The large extension to my body grew out as if it was a balloon getting inflated with compressed air, the stinger pointing upwards to the stars coming out before my abdomen's muscles formed properly and it started to twitch in turn with my panting.

I cried so much I could barely see around me, but I felt a pair of hands gently help turn me on my left side and I curled up a little, moving my right hand down between my thighs for another helping but finding another's hand keep me from reaching my crotch.

"Let me help, mom," my daughter's voice pushed through the pain, and I felt her push my legs apart and her mouth press itself against my crotch and start to suckle on it. It gave its nectar eagerly now it was allowed once more to do what the bee in me needed it to, and she filled her mouth fully before withdrawing and turning to kiss me on the lips, parting her and my lips with her tongue and letting my nectar flow from her mouth into my own.

I drank from her as eagerly as I had licked it from my hand, the larger volume expediting the weaving of muscles in my back, the painful escape of my wings, and the rush of air past them as the sensitive limbs grew to their full size. Before they were fully grown, I felt two points of pain on my head and the sudden rush of extrasensory perception which came with my antennae growing out.

My daughter pulled back from me, and let me calm down from the changes, and I blinked heavily as my eyes changed to the bug eyes the other two insectkin sported as well, giving me a slightly wider point of view and peripheral vision. I knew somewhere in all of this my skin would have changed as well, although it was one of the least invasive of changes and easily overlooked when you're writhing in pain on the ground. I reached up with my still wet hands and felt along my smooth face, down to the fur growing around my neck, and further to my waistline which had shrunk a few inches during my transformation as well.

I tentatively unfolded my wings, stretching them behind me, then folded them back again, revelling in the sensation. The pumping of my abdominal muscles was too familiar to me and I traced a finger along the appendage, sighing out in great enjoyment at being reunited with it.

"Can you zztand?" the wasp's voice came to me, and I looked up with a growing grin.

"I could fly," I whispered back mentally - inaudible to the world but very much perceptible to the other's mind.

"Let me help," my daughter offered, already on her feet, and reached a hand down for me to grab hold of.

I reached up to take a hold of it and pulled myself up to a standing position, then let myself fall forward against her and pressed my lips to her, still tasting my nectar on hers. I wrapped my arms around her and pressed my body as close to that of my daughter as possible, my wings sort of automatically coming out to buzz merrily behind me. Our antennae were close enough to touch, and I turned my head a little until they did, feeling an almost electric spark from them making contact.

"Thank you, my daughter, for helping me realizze what I had been hiding from myzzelf for zzo long," I breathed out to her in great adoration for her keen mind.

"Well, I did have help?" she coughed uneasily, kissing me back with some eagerness, but mostly being caught offguard by my sudden affection.

I read her mind, pulled back a little, and felt my cheeks flush. "Oh, zzorry for that," I coughed, then turned to face the wasp and felt my grin return, widening until it almost broke my face in half.

"Feeling good, I zzee," the wasp offered with a light smile of her own.

I fluttered my wings enough that I was lifted a little off the ground and moved my arms to give myself a quick hug, buzzing with joy. "I forgot how good it feelzz to be myzzelf," I answered, letting myself sink down to the ground again and turning my hips a bit left and right, feeling my abdomen swaying through the air behind me.

"Yourzzelf, huh?" the woman wondered, and I decided to stick my tongue out at her.

"I zztill don't want to go back to the hive, but yezz, I do feel more like myzzelf now," I giggled merrily. "Thizz izz who I am. I mizzed my wingzz azz zzoon azz they were gone. I felt deaf and blind without my antennae. My zztinger izz an integral part of me. I mizzed it azz well, even if it izz pretty uzzelezz compared to yourzz."

"You can alwayzz file off the barbzz?" the wasp opted, but immediately got two huffing bees in her face. "Forget I zzuggezzted that," she chuckled, while my daughter and I fell into a fit of laughter at having both been offended by the idea to have reacted at the same time.

I calmed down pretty quickly from my laughing, and moved to stretch myself a bit, especially those muscles I did not have as a human, my daughter looking on with great amusement.

"Careful with thozze thoughtzz, hun," I grinned to her. "You're an open book now to me."

She flushed and I moved to her side, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and looking over to the taller wasp lady. "Okay, zzo now what do we do?"

"Honezztly?" she started, "I have no idea. I found myzzelf a job where I don't have to appear in perzzon that muzzh, and I drezz covertly in the few cazzezz where I do. I alzzo have a tranzzlator zzo our buzzing doezz not give me away."

"I work azz a cazzhier in a zzhop," I explained. "I barely had the meanzz to keep myzzelf alive azz a human-not-human. I need to find myzzelf a better job."

The wasp offered me her right hand, and I reached out with my own to shake hers.

"I'm Lady Contezza of Del Manzzhe. I own pretty much the whole valley to the Eazzt of thizz zzity," she introduced herself, finally. "How about I offer you and your daughter a job with my company?"

My jaw dropped.

"Well, I wazz Lady Contezza of Del Manzzhe," the wasp corrected herself. "I am inzzectkin now, and have been for a few yearzz already. You being inzzectkin azz well pretty muzzh makezz uzz equalzz. Pleazze don't think of my title azz zzomething that could get in the way of a pozzible friendzzhip..."

"Would humanzz do that?" my daughter asked in all her innocence, and I could not help but giggle.

"Okay, azz long azz you don't let my pizz-poor garbage-can zztatuzz get in the way either," I offered to the lady wasp. "I have no family to zzpeak of, let alone a family tree."

"Well, you have your daughter now," the wasp smiled. "That'zz azz good a zztart azz any to build an inzzectkin family from."

"Touzzhé," I returned, hugging my bee daughter to myself again.

"If you're up to flying," the wasp started, "I can lead the way over to my ezztate and have my lawyer draw up the nezzezzary contractzz, unlezz you have zzomething in your apartment whizzh you can't part with?"

I looked at my daughter, then at the clothes on the bench behind us, and further back to the apartment building I had lived in before I had become a bee, during my indoctrination by one of the hive sisters, and for the past three months now as I had made myself believe I was a human again.

"Only bad memoriezz," I mumbled as a reply to the wasp's query, turning my attention back to her with a little smile.

She unfolded her wings and fluttered them until her feet left the ground, motioning off towards the East. "Zzhall we, then?"

I let go of my daughter and set my own wings in motion, my daughter doing the same a moment after, and soon the three of us were all hovering inches above the ground.

"Let'zz buzz away," I offered, and we took flight for the wasp's estate - off towards a new life.