Good evening, Everyone:)



Well, this one's for you.



This is the final installment for book five, Time and I do hope you like it.

I felt it only just to reward you thusly:) I think this will be worth you read.



I wanted to tell you all that I am grateful for you. Every day I thank my

lucky stars that I have such a wonderful audience. When I say in every post

that this book would not exist without you, I mean it. I would never have

written it had you all not been there telling me you wanted more. My little

dragon of fear would have made me stop and told me that I sucked and I would

have kept the story in the back of my mind for eternity. But you brought it

out and I am glad that you did.



So thanks.



A lot of you have asked me for a book six. I say after everyone that that

is it, and it never is, so I won't bother saying it now. What I will say is

please bare with me. As a few of you know, I am involved in the NaNoWriMo

challenge. Basically, to write an original novel in a month. So, since

November 1, I have been writing a novel from scratch with my own cast of

characters. My time has been zapped. But this is my chance and I needed to

take it.



That being said, I just crossed the threshold for that challenge. 50,000

words since November 1st. That makes me so happy I could do the Happy Sock

Dance! YAY!



But it has taken away my time from fanfiction. Book Six, if you all want

it, I can do. In fact, I would be honoured to write it for you. What I

ask, however, is to give me a chance to finish the novel and breathe a

moment. In other words, would you still love me if I don't start book six

until December?



Anyway, I have rambled long enough. I just wanted to tell you that I am

grateful to have such wonderful readers. I am thankful for every ounce of

feedback both short and long that I receive and will always endeavor to

write you back. You all are wonderful and make me proud to be a BtVS fan

and a shipper every day. (Always:)).



Special thanks to my awesome support system. Alane and Laurie who put up

with Nim's epic fanfiction and pervy thoughts (Thy Rod and Thy Sock shall

comfort me). My feedback queens, Bittn (you rock so much), J, LML, Kay,

Karen (my spirit), Cindy (the closet perv and best pep squad in town), T,

Crystal, Misa and about a zillion other people I don't mean to miss. I can

barely think straight between Time, the novel and my regular life (what's

that?).



Huge and gigantic and ENDLESS thank yous to my betas. I adopted a second to

give my one and only Eliz a break and she has been wonderful. Brat, you are

a great proofreader and a fun kinda girl! Thanks for keeping me on the

straight and narrow and making sure that what I send out doesn't suck and my

typos get fixed. Otherwise, people would be looking at a completely

different story.



Eliz, thanks for putting up with me as a beta and a friend for this darned

long. I don't know how you made it this far:) Thanks. I wish you enough.



Well, I have babbled on quite long enough. But thanks. And enjoy. And

PLEASE let me know how you feel. If you like this chapter. I'm on pins and

needles;)



*Cheery Vibes*

Nimue

Title: Something Sacred (Time - Epilogue) Director's Cut

Author: Nimue

Rating: PG-13

Pairing Buffy/Spike. Most major characters included.

Feedback: Yes, please

For instant notification of fic releases, straight to your mailbox, please visit Always_Everyday@yahoogroups.com

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, UPN, Fox... Just Borrowing. (with, of course, the exception of Emma and William, who belong to Buffy and Spike)



Summary: Set three months after Innocence Found and the end of Book Five. Spike is forced to leave Buffy temporarily, but why? Draconius meets with an old enemy of the One. And something sacred happens, bringing the group closer than they had ever been.



Something Sacred

"It's hard to believe, isn't it?" Buffy said quietly as she walked into the

room. He stood, barefoot and shirtless, his hands wrapped around the railing of the wooden crib. "Time flies."

"It does, Pet," Spike answered, not taking his eyes off the sleeping little boy. "Where's Emma?"

"Giles and Cyrus took her to get some ice cream. You know she ..." Buffy's words were cut off as she stopped next to Spike. His eyes were soft and teary. " You alright?"

"She doesn't like when we're not together," Spike completed. "Nor do I, Love." He turned to face her.

Buffy raised her hand to cup his cheek. "It's not forever, Spike. Well, it

is, but not apart forever."

He smiled weakly. "You don't have to do this." His words were quiet, frightened.

"I know I don't." Her arms wrapped around his waist. "But I want to."

Spike nodded, kissing her forehead. "Just don't see why I have to leave..."

"Because that's the way," Buffy answered. "And it's a lot easier for you to go then for me to pack up two kids and find a place to stay. Besides, Xander and Takina promised me they'd take care of you."

"Can't believe you're sending me off to Harris," Spike grumbled, turning me back to the boy. He was perfect. At three months old, he was nearly on par for a full term child now. When he was awake, he had eyes that could melt glaciers and a smile that made your heart warm. Buffy told the baby he looked like his dad. Spike couldn't imagine ever being that perfect.

Except around Buffy.

"I know," Buffy agreed. "But you have to go. And I feel better with you going there."

Spike nodded, turning back to her. "Don't want to leave you, Love." His hands rose to her face, her palms pressed to her cheeks. She looked at him with dancing, green eyes.

"This was your idea, you know," she retorted, smiling.

"No," Spike smirked. "My idea didn't include spending time *apart*."

"It does now," Buffy answered smiling. She spun, patting his behind. "Now, go get dressed. You need to go. It's getting late and I think Xander had some plans for the evening."

Spike shivered. "I shudder to think."

"Go," Buffy said, patting him again, and watching him saunter out the door.

*****

His bags were packed and he stood at the open front door, dressed in jeans and a black button down. He kind of looks like his old self, Buffy mused as she went through his things to make sure he'd packed everything. Giles stood on the porch with Cyrus, waiting. "Looks like you got everything," Buffy said, softly. Emma clung to her mother's leg, staring at the suitcase and the hanging bag and her father waiting to leave.

Spike crouched down to Emma's eye level. "You be alright, Mite?"

The little girl looked at him with eyes the colour of the summer sky and nodded. "Right, Mite," she answered.

Spike smiled at her. "You take care of your mum, alright? "

The little girl nodded again, biting her lip and holding her arms out. Spike slid underneath of them, letting her little embrace tighten around his neck. He could feel her tears on his cheek. "S'alright. Only for a little while."

The baby nodded, letting go. He kissed her nose, as she pulled back. She ran, teary, and clutched Dawn's leg. Niblet would be leaving for school in a few weeks. Would be strange without her. "You going to be alright?" Buffy asked, wrapping her arms where Emma's had been.

Spike nodded. "Don't like it, Pet," he whispered. "But if it's what you want."

Buffy pulled her face away, catching his gaze. "It's not what I want. Not the sleeping alone part at least, but this is just ... it has to go this way."

"We don't do anything else the way we're s'posed to..." Spike retorted.

"This *isn't* everything else," she shot back. "This is important."

He nodded, brushing his lips against hers. "Right then. As you wish."

Buffy turned to Giles. "Keep an eye on him?"

Giles nodded, a half smile on his face. "Quite the dramatic one," he quipped. Spike turned around, glaring at the Watcher.

"You get to go home to your warm little demon this evening," the Vampire shot back.

"If it'll make you feel better, I'll stay at Xander's with you," Giles answered.

'"You need to be here first thing in the morning," Buffy responded, her eyes wide.

"And I will," Giles commented, studying her glowing face. "Spike?"

"I love you," Spike whispered, kissing her nose.

"Always?"

"Everyday."

******

Buffy sat on her bed, Emma curled in her lap, staring aimlessly at the open closet. There was a knock at her door. "Buffy?"

"Yeah," Buffy called back. The door opened quietly and Dawn walked in, sitting down next to her sister. "Do you think it's enough?" She asked, nodding at the closet.

"I think it's perfect," Dawn said, wrapping an arm around her sister's shoulder.

Buffy smiled. "It is."

"You going to be OK?" The teenager asked.

Buffy turned towards her, her eyes soft and peaceful. "I just haven't... it

sounds stupid..."

"No, no," Dawn whispered, stroking Buffy's back.

"I just haven't slept without him in years," Buffy finished. She shrugged. "Feels...weird."

"It is weird," Dawn joked. "I mean, not having to deal with the horrors of Spike running around the house in just his jeans and being all... manly and obnoxious and... disgustingly good to you."

"You aren't supposed to notice the running around the house shirtless part," Buffy commented, smiling softly.

"I have *eyes* with which to see," Dawn giggled. "He's pretty well kept for like... a thousand."

"He's only a hundred and something," Buffy responded, giggling.

"Much better," the teen replied. "Tara, Willow and Anya are downstairs. Wanna come down and have some cocoa and watch a movie? Keep your mind off things."

"Yeah," Buffy answered, standing, scooping Emma against her chest. "OK for Emma to come? Not anything..."

"No porn," Dawn nodded, smiling. "Bring the kiddies. I think I heard Will anyway, so I'll bring him down and he can nap in the playpen."

Buffy nodded. "Thanks. I mean... you know."

Dawn sighed. "I know. I will expect the sister of the year trophy in the morning."

Buffy started out the door, Dawn behind her. "Need I remind you of the whole kleptomania, whining stage. Oh, and the staring at Spike and the..."

"Enough," Dawn laughed. "Just... get downstairs."

*****

"Well, you're as much fun as a wet rag," Giles commented, throwing back a slug of his pint. Spike rolled the glass back and forth in his palm, occasionally sipping. Xander sucked on a coke from his spot next to Giles in the booth. Cyrus was at the bar, getting another round.

"Sorry, Mate," Spike answered, cordially taking another draw from the frosty glass.

"This is happy time," Xander said. "Out with the guys. Good stuff coming. All that."

Giles shot him a look, shaking his head.

"Rather be with her," Spike answered. "Not that you blokes aren't barrels of fun."

"Well, can't be," Giles responded. "So, may as well drink up. Enjoy your time of exile."

"Don't like being exiled," Spike pouted.

"You're pathetic," Xander commented. "Come on. As much as I hate to admit this, we've been out a bunch of times together and you seem to be just fine."

"'Coz I get to go home and explain myself to Buffy and get reprimanded and then have to work my way out of the dog house and ... make up," Spike grumbled. "I like the challenge."

"Well, " Xander sighed. "Why don't you do something to have to make up over when you see her again..."

Giles' head spun, shooting a horrified look at the boy.

"Oh, relax, Giles. I don't mean like that. Get all liquored up and dance," Xander answered, pushing his palms towards the ceiling and wiggling in his seat.

"Not a bad idea, Spike," Cyrus commented, returning to the table with three shots of bourbon, three more beers and a cola.

"Rather go home," Spike growled, staring at the amber liquid in his glass.

"OK, that's enough!" Giles snapped, slamming the shot down in front of him. "If an old, stodgy, British conservative, an immortal and an irretrievable *git* can have a good time this evening, so can you. You're beginning to act a bit like Angel."

Spike's eyes shot up, glaring at Giles. He didn't answer, merely picked up the bourbon, tipping it back in one smooth pull. "Right then, Watcher. Let's see what you got."

The Vampire stood, turning on a booted heel and headed indignantly towards the writhing crowd on the dance floor. "After you," Xander snarked, holding his hand out for Giles to follow. "Think you done pissed off fang-boy."

"Anything was better than that incessant brooding," Giles responded, following Spike towards the dance floor. "Besides, I've still some moves for a more seasoned man."

"Sure you do," Xander replied. "Just following the bouncing Vampire." They stopped, eyeing the peroxide head in the middle of the crowd. Xander shook his head. Dammit, he was good at that too. Not to mention surrounded by a gaggle of girls that Xander was sure Spike didn't even notice.

"I hate Vampires," Xander mumbled under his breath.

"This one has his moments," Giles commented, heading off into the fray.

*****

"Well, it seems we have a common enemy," the man said, leaning up against one red wall in the decadent mansion.

"That we do," Luke commented, lighting a cigarette and sitting in an overstuffed, red velvet chair. "As well as a common problem."

Draconius sighed. "Pesky goodness. They just don't seem to understand..."

"What?" Luke answered, slyly smiling. "That they just set the worst of their nightmares into action all on their lonesomes?"

Draconius grinned, his fangs hanging well below his lip. "That they have." He was quiet a moment. "Unfortunately, it will be years before we've gathered enough strength and procured the Key."

"The Key is not necessary," Luke exhaled, blowing smoke rings into the air. "Although it might make life a tad easier. What really bothers me is that they go untormented for all those years."

The Evil chuckled. "I have... followers. As do you."

"But can any of them really bring on the pain?" Luke asked, crossing his legs and grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

"Oh, I think I may have an answer or two for you there," Draconius smiled. "But all in good time, my friend."

Luke stood, patting Draconius on the shoulder. "It's just not polite to hide things from your host."

"Well," Draconius smiled, clapping his hands. Two small red suited men came in, dragging the limp form of a woman and dropping her at Luke's feet. The woman looked up, wide-eyed and terrified, mumbling against her gag.

"Well, done!" Luke cheered. "But how in the world did you get her out of Heaven?"

Draconius grinned again. "Even angelic wheels can be greased."

*****

They stood in a semi circle on the beach. It was a waxing moon, growing in fullness, in beauty, in light. For whatever reason, they knew it was right this way. Both of them were creatures of the night. In their own ways.

Spike stood barefoot on the beach, watching the sea. Waiting. He had on black dress pants and a white silk button down. No tie. He wasn't really the tie type. And this was about who they were. But he looked incredible standing there under the growing moonlight, thinking.

Willow walked to him, laying a hand on his shoulder. "She's here." The Redhead said, smiling softly at him. He returned it, warmly. Calm. Knowing that this was just the last piece the enormous puzzle that had been them.

Spike turned and saw her walking towards the little crescent on the beach. Giles was next to her, beaming in his suit pants and a blue button down. Nothing fancy. Just Giles the person. Giles the one that had taken over for Buffy's parents when they'd left. Not the Watcher.

And her. She was... glorious. Perfect. Breathtaking. The white shell of a dress hung to her curves, the back of it trailing behind her in the sand. The spaghetti straps nearly glowed in contrast to her golden skin. She looked like part of heaven herself, with flowers weaved in golden ringlets of hair, hanging down her back in waves. He loved her hair long. He loved her anyway.

Emma clung to her mother's hand in nearly the exact same dress, just cut a bit shorter. Same ringlets. Same flowers. Same little white straps grazing little tan shoulders. They were perfect. The same and wholly different. But both of them were his. Always.

He glanced over. Takina held William, her arm looped through Xander's. She was practicing, she joked to Spike earlier. Xander had managed to do something right and she was expecting herself. Yet another to add to the fold. There'd always be another. William was snuggled against her happily, napping. Xander grinned like an idiot. Not much new there.

Giles and Buffy stopped in the opening to the half circle and Spike walked toward them, standing on the opposite side of the Watcher. Emma, let go of her mother's hand and took Dawn's. Willow moved so she faced the circle, standing before them in the moonlight, finally looking strong and proud again. Tara had been teaching her to use her power and Willow had found her peace.

Giles spoke. "There are those in our midst who seek the bond of Handfasting."

Willow answered, dressed in the robes of a priestess. Buffy had decided on this. Being that crosses and holy water didn't really mix well with their current scheme of existence. "Let them be named and brought forward."

"William is the Man, and Buffy is the Woman," Giles responded, grabbing both of their hands and pulling them forward. Giles stepped back into the semi circle, leaving the two of them in front of Willow under the moonlight.

Willow smiled, watching them. They looked so serious and adult. It had been a long road to now.

"Are you William?" Willow asked

"I am."

"What is your desire?" Her voice was strong, as if the Powers were with her.

""To be made one with Buffy," Spike answered, his voice sure and rich.

Willow's head turned to Buffy. "Are you Buffy?"

Buffy smiled, looking at her best friend. "I am."

"And what is your desire?"

"To be made one with Spike... uh, William," she said, chuckling. Spike squeezed her hand, shaking his head and smiling at her.

Willow took a wand from the makeshift altar in front of her, laying it across Buffy and Spike's palms, and then closing their fingers over it. She then took a sword, raising it high above them.

"Lord and Lady, here before you stand two of your warriors. Witness now, that which they have to declare." Slowly, she touched both of them with the sword, lowering it back to the altar, then picked up an athame, a dagger, holding the point to Spike's chest. "Repeat after me. I, William, do come here of my own free will, to seek the partnership of Buffy. I come with all love, honour and sincerity, wishing only to become one with her whom I love. Always I will strive for Buffy's happiness and welfare. Her life will I defend before my very own. May the athame be plunged into my heart should I not be sincere in all that I declare. All this I swear in the name of the Powers. May they give me the strength to keep my vows."

Spike repeated her solemnly, his eyes caught in Buffy's. He meant it. He always had. But the fact that she had chosen this had meant more to him than any words they could ever say. Willow smiled as he finished, turning towards Buffy and holding the dagger to her chest, saying the same words. Buffy repeated them, reverently, her eyes never leaving Spike's. She knew what this meant to him. What it had come to mean to her. They had been joined years ago, but sometimes hearing it, having a *day* to go with all of the feelings, made it easier to quantify. Special. Sacred.

Willow lowered the athame when Buffy had finished and took the rings, sprinkling them both with water and incense. Buffy and Spike had both told Giles what they wanted, independently, and Giles had produced them for them. Made by a friend in the Council. On hers, Spike had had written in runes on silver the word "Always". On his, "Everyday."

Willow handed Spike's ring to Buffy and Buffy's to Spike, still holding the wand in their left hands, and spoke. "As the grass of the fields and the trees of the woods bend together under the pressures of the storm, so too must you both bend when the wind blows strong. But know that as quickly as the storm comes, so equally may it leave. Yet will you both stand, strong in each other's strength. As you give love; so will you receive love. As you give strength; so will you receive strength. Together you are one. Apart you are nothing.

Know that no two people can be exactly alike. No more can any two people fit together, perfect in every way. There will be times when it will seem hard to give and to love. But see then your reflections a woodland pool: when the image you see looks sad and angered, then is the time for you to smile and to love, for it is not fire that puts out fire. In return will the image in the pool smile and love you. So change your anger for love and tears for joy. It is no weakness to admit a wrong; more is it strength and a sign of learning.

Ever love, help and respect each other. And then know truly that you are One."

Willow leaned forward, taking the wand from their hands, and replacing it on the altar. Carefully, Buffy lifted Spike's hand, sliding the silver over his pale skin, watching his eyes change. Soften as she moved. She didn't say anything. Not in words. But he could hear her in his head. Calm. At peace. He took her hand, sliding the ring over her finger, stopping at the moonstone he'd given her the night Emma had been born. She smiled, lifting her hand to his cheek. Touching him. Closing her eyes and feeling him.

"Thank you," Spike said softly, his hand pressing to her face, feeling her tears. "For this."

"I wanted to," Buffy answered, her face moving closer to his. "I just was scared."

"Are you now?" He asked her, the moonlight bathing her in an ethereal glow.

"No," she answered, shaking her head. "I'm less scared now than ever."

"I love you, Buffy," he whispered, pulling her face to his, brushing his lips against the softness of hers.

"Always," Buffy repeated. "I love you always."

"Every day."



The end.



*** Handfasting Ritual adapted from Ray Buckland's Seax-Wicca Rite of Handfasting