Niles picked her up just in time. Actually he'd been even 10 minutes too soon, figuring she'd like her drinks rather sooner than later. When she opened the door to her appartment she was putting small pearl earrings through her ears as a final touch. "You're early" she stated with a look on the clock at her wall. Niles shrugged, but otherwise ignored her. "Do you have any particular bar in mind?" "No, not a bar. We'll be at a wedding all night. I'm not in the mood for meeting any other strangers. We'll be drinking here." He raised an eyebrow at this but didn't question her decision.
With every glass of whiskey their conversation seemed to get better. Their typical benter became less and less and they started talking more seriously and more honest than they ever had without alcohol. As Niles' look wandered to the clock at the wall which showed that it was almost time to leave to the wedding he sighed deeply. "You know… It really sucks to be the last one in your circle of friends not to be married." "Whom are you telling" C.C. responded, taking another sip of her seventh glass of whiskey. Niles laughed cheerlessly. Actually it sounded more like a snort. "And all the questions they'll ask. You know, what you said earlier was not that far fetched. They can be really insufferable at that matter." "Like parents?" C.C. asked. Given the expresion in her eyes she seemed to be somewhere, somewhen else. None the less he answered her question. "Yes. In their own way maybe even worse because it's not been that long since they have been asked the same things over and over again." C.C. hummed absently.
Suddenly an idea popped through Niles' head. It was a good way to avoid any of the dreaded questions that evening. For both of them. But then again, it would require something he wasn't sure Ms. Babcock would agree to. As he thought about whether or not to share his idea he examined her face. Her beautiful icy-blue eyes were still starring into the distance. Her full lips were colored with bright red lipstick and he suddenly felt a strong urge to kiss her. As not to give into his wish he quickly continued to let his gaze wander down her nightblue dress. It didn't help much. Actually, it made things even worse, so it didn't take long for him to look back into her face. Only now, she returned his gaze.
He felt his cheeks heating up. He swallowed. "Have I… Have I told you how incredibly sexy you look tonight?" Now it was her turn to turn red. He quickly changed the subject. "You know I had an idea. So we won't get any of these stupid questions. I mean, you don't have to if you don't want…" "Just spit it out." Her sharp words were relativised by her soft tone. He took a deep breath "You know they won't ask why we're not married if… if they think we are." "I'm not sure I understand…" "What if… what if we pretend we're married? To each other?" As soon as the words were out he wanted to take them back. But to his big surprise Ms. Babcock did not seem to want his head for even suggesting such a thing. Quite the contrary; she seemed to think about his offer.
"Are you sure this will work?" she asked. They were already halfway at the wedding. "As long as we don't fall out of our roles, I don't see why it shouldn't. Remember, we –" "Yeah, yeah we got married secretly and not even our families were invited, I know. I'm still not convinced it'll work though." Niles sighed and started to search through his pockets. "What are you doing?" "Just a moment." As he finally found what he had been looking for he smiled. C.C. on the other hand raised an eyebrow as he pulled his wallet out of his pocket. "What –" "Shhh. My mother gave this to me so I could give it to my wife, should I ever have one. I suppose it'll make the act complete." He pulled a small golden ring out of his purse. It had a small diamond on its top and as C.C. inspected it closer, she found that there was something ingraved on the inside. "Amor vincit omnia… Love conquers all" she mumbled. "Oh Niles, it's beautiful, but I can't -" "Take it. This way noone will suspect anything. You can give it back to me after the reception, if you want." She nodded and put the ring on her right ring finger. It fit perfectly.
Several hours later they found themselves dancing closely, back at her appartment. Just like a few months ago, after the Guild Awards ceremony, they did not yet want the evening to come to an end. "You know, this was actually more fun than I thought. And your plan worked. No stupid questions." "Yes. Although it wasn't quite what I'd had in mind. I just didn't want to justify all evening why I'm still single. I did not expect that they'd all be so angry at me for not inviting them to my wedding that they wouldn't want to talk to me at all." He shook his head, smiling. "I have to keep that in mind, should I ever actually get married." At these words, the soft bubble of happiness she had been in all evening popped. "Yeah. Talking about that, I should probably give you your ring back." She made an effort to sepperate their entangled bodies, but he kept her close to him. "Don't. It fits you perfectly and you said you liked it. You can keep it. Besides, at my age it's unlikely I'll ever get married, so at least this way it won't rust away in my purse." She didn't know how to respond to that. Even after a few more rounds of dancing she simply whispered: "Thank you."