Chapter 1

I stare into the mirror. Eyes raking over the satin lapels, the crisp bow tie. The whiteness of my shirt is so monochromatic against the black tuxedo. My eyes look haunted. Unbelieving. I check my cuff links and sunlight glances off the silver, reflecting into the mirror.

"Are you ready?"

The words are hesitant, muttered from the open doorway.

I stare at myself, unsure.

"Is she?" I ask.

"Angela said she is dressed and ready to go."

I close my eyes; rake my fingertips over my cheeks, the dark circles under my eyes like bruises.

"Agent Booth?"

I look at Sweets in the mirror. I see the concern on his face. Unlike her I am adept at reading people.

"No. I don't think I can do this."

Sweets steps into the room. He doesn't try to get close to me. Which is good, because right now I'm not myself. I am a parody. A seething mass of emotions, directionless. Conflicted. It wasn't supposed to be this hard. It's a job right? Just a job? So why will the sight of her break my heart?

"I need to see her."


"Don't psychoanalyse me right now - I don't know if I am together enough to do this Sweets and you know why."

He stares at the ghosts in my eyes and nods.

"I'll go with you."

I walk out of the door following my shrink, legs rubbery, palms sweating. Sweets knocks the door and her voice is husky when she answers.

I press my hand lightly on Sweets chest and shake my head. Convincingly. He watches me walk through the door, probably presses his ear up against it as it closes in his face.

She is standing in the arched window like an ethereal princess. Sunlight bathes her luminous skin and sparkles off the tiara atop her head. Her hair is in a chignon, displaying the porcelain skin of her swan neck. She takes my breath away. I can't speak. Instead I rake my eyes over every inch of her body enclosed in ivory silk. The niptuck waist. Flare of her hips. The creamy skin of her back where it is bare. She is staring at the flowers in her hand. Ruby roses. Their fragrance scents the air and I will never be able to smell them again without thinking about how beautiful she looks. She turns to me and I am frozen in place. Her voice is barely above a whisper "I knew you would find this hard."

I nod. It is all I can do. Like Medusa she has stunned me.

"Are you ready?" She asks tentatively, crossing the room regally until she is standing before me.

"I don't know."

She leans towards me, grazes her lips against the angle of my jaw and clasps my hand. I take in a deep, shuddery breath. Nod once. Grip her fingers, hard.

"You look beautiful."

Even more so than in my dreams. Why can't this be real?

She smiles. I turn to grasp the door handle, but she stops me. She presses herself against my back and whispers in my ear, "If I ever were to marry for real, it would be you."

She wrenches the door open and yanks me down the corridor and I wonder if her words were real or just my dreams whispering on the wind.

"Bones?" I try to ascertain, but she shakes her head.

"We're not Booth and Bones anymore. I am Ava Granger and you are Daniel Smith."

Yes. And we are about to go undercover for the mob. I walk down the aisle towards my fake best man as my fake friends sit in the congregation and I feel the deepest unease at the mission ahead. But as she walks towards me looking like she is floating, I am filled with a comfort, that she will be with me. And I let myself pretend. That she really is marrying me.