A/N: This is in response to Kantayra's "Practically Perfect In Every Way" challenge, which I was first exposed to by Speaker-To-Customer's brilliant fic "It's Got To Be Perfect". Which you should read, here: (http:www.speaker-to-customers.me.uk/buffyverse/fiction.htm).

Anyway, it looked like so much fun, I wanted to play. Challenge rules appear at bottom.

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Sunnydale, California
In The Time Once Known As Season Six

A perfectly timed punch of stunning strength shot out into the darkness, and yet another alarm clock belonging to Buffy Summers met its final rest.

Buffy rolled into a sitting position with a low moan, not sure which protesting body part to clutch first. Her head was pounding, her mouth had never felt so fuzzy and foul, her legs ached, her side seemed split in two...

And with a sudden flash, she remembered who was to blame.

Spike.

And, to some extent, Willow.

But mostly Spike.

Memories careened through her already throbbing head. That idiotic shark-headed demon. Saving Spike's worthless unlife, yet again. Giles' horrifying announcement. And then that stupid spell that had made them all forget that they were being attacked because of... what a shock, Spike's stupidity. And greed! Don't forget the greed!

Stupid kitten greed.

Thinking she was Joan, getting thrashed by a pack of vampires she could have taken out easily normally... one of them had kicked her in the ribs, which explained at least one of the sources of pain.

And then, the Bronze, trying to drink herself into numbness vis-a-vis Giles The Great Abandoner, Spike coming up to her with the gall to look all wounded and big-blue-eyed, pouting off when she'd turned her back on him, like he didn't eat babies and he had a soul to be struck in...

Oh. And then. Oh.

That damnable speech he'd given her, when he'd caught up with her next to the stairs. That out-of-nowhere, stupid, cheesy speech about Giles and the situation and coming back from the dead and how she should take it as a compliment, how Giles obviously thought she was so strong, blah blah blah...

... And how incredibly drunk had she already been to have been unable to look at anything but the oh-so-fake-cause-he's-a-vampire-hello sincerity in his eyes, the tenderness with which he'd touched her face...

And the moment he touched her, she'd suddenly remembered how he'd acted under the spell... assuming he was human, then assuming he must have a soul. Angel had always told her that 'game face' was a vampire's true face, that the other one was a mask...

So why had Spike woken up in his human one? Why hadn't he immediately known he was a demon? Why had he been as scared of vampires as the rest of them? Why had he had no desire to do evil other than to taunt his "dad" about his penismobile?

Alcohol was of the bad, obviously, leading to Deep Philosophical Thoughts of the Way Lame.

Which totally explained why she'd suddenly kissed him, even though that was so not the plan, totally explained why she'd ended up clutching that stupid smelly I-wish-I-was-Neo-from-the-Matrix leather coat in both fists like she'd die if he moved back from her an inch, totally explained why he'd had to hold her up because her knees had turned to jelly and where did he learn to kiss like that, anyway?

Not that it mattered, because she was never never ever kissing his stupid smirky obnoxious evil self ever again, unless she had to for some really good reason, like making him shut up or, y'know, averting an apocalypse.

Fortunately, after a short time -- the band had played a few songs, taken a break and come back and played some more, yeah, but they were really short songs -- she'd come to her senses, kneed him in the groin, and let fly a few of her wittier insults, whereupon he'd stalked away all blah-blah-blah with insults that were much less witty. So there.

And then she'd gotten even more drunk, which explained the headache and the fuzzies, sitting next to that nice brunette lady with the pretty necklace who'd been so willing to listen to her pour it all out, all her frustrations about everything.

Such a good listener. Like Spike had been, before that stupid dancy Sweet demon had choreographed her into his arms and given stupid obsessive Spike a bone to sink his stalkery, fangy teeth into.

Buffy let out a full-body shudder at the memory.

Well, she couldn't just sit here being disgusted; there was a reason her alarm had gone off so early. Today was hunt-a-real-job-be-a-grownup day, and oh boy, wasn't she excited about that.

Please, let there not be any mummy hands.

"Honey! You're going to be late if you don't hurry up!"

Buffy had reflexed halfway into the lean-head-back-and-whine-out-a-denial maneuver before her eyes bugged out of her head.

"Mom?" she whispered.

"Honey, you're going to miss breakfast... Dawn, put that down, I made real food with protein, you are not eating dry Froot Loops... did you even wash your hands before you stuck them in that box?"

Buffy's heard Dawn's whine of protest, the sound of a door slamming, her mother's patented snort of annoyance...

... and an answering low murmur she'd know anywhere.

Giles.

She was still asleep. Had to be. She'd gone to bed missing Giles and had a dream where all the people she missed were in the kitchen...

So what was she doing wasting a dream this good?

Buffy threw on clothing haphazardly and galloped down the stairs, throwing her arms around her mother's waist.

"Well, good morning, honey," Joyce laughed in surprise, patting Buffy's head. "I see someone's feeling better."

Giles polished his glasses. "She certainly does seem to have made a full recovery."

"Huh?"

"Well, to be quite frank, as bad off as you've been, we weren't expecting such speedy progress. I must say, Willow's antidote has exceeded expectations."

"Antidote? Huh?"

"You had a nasty run-in with a Glarghk Guhl Kashma'nik, dear. You've been hallucinating for several days."

"I have?"

Giles smiled reassuringly at Joyce. "Some amnesia is probably to be expected. Buffy, what is the last thing you remember?"

"I, uh..." She really didn't want to share the drunkenness and Spike-kissage. "Well, Willow did that spell on us, made us all forget who we were."

Joyce's eyes widened and she shot a glance at Giles, who shook his head.

"Buffy, the venom you were exposed to creates hallucinations, constructs a sort of... internal alternate universe. Because this universe is constructed of your own memories and fears, it seems very familiar and real. It's very likely that your mind, struggling to understand what was happening to it, created a story where your memory loss was one of Willow's spells gone wrong." Giles let out a little chuckle. "You would certainly have many memories to support that conclusion."

"So... that didn't happen? The spell?"

"I assure you it did not."

"What about... what about the singy demon?"

Joyce choked on her coffee. "Singy demon?"

"The... singing and dancing demon, who made us all be in a musical..."

Joyce and Giles were sharing rather wicked grins.

"I must say, Buffy, it certainly sounds like your alternate universe was an interesting one."

Well. So she'd only kissed Spike in an alternate universe made up of her worst fears; that made sense, but...

Wait a minute.

Buffy shook her head. "No. No. I'm dreaming. Mom, you're... you're not here."

"I beg to differ," Joyce laughed.

"No, Mom... you're dead. I'm asleep."

"Dead?"

"The alternate universe is made up of memories and fears, darling," Giles pointed out. "I think Buffy may have..."

"Whoa-whoa. Did you just call Mom darling?"

"Well, yes..."

"Wanna explain why?"

"Well, ah... I've been calling her that for a long time, Buffy..."

"A long time?" Buffy crossed her arms and glared. "How long is a long time?"

"Well... since well before we were married, I suppose..."

"Married?"

Giles sighed. "Buffy, perhaps we ought to get you to a doctor. I expected temporary amnesia for the events surrounding your attack, but amnesia on this level..."

"No... no! No doctors. Look, I'm sorry I brought any of this up, I just want to enjoy my dream, okay? Having you both here... even married, which is way-mondo-freaky... is really great. You don't know how great. I just wanna bask, okay? I'm shutting up and basking now."

She heard the front door bang, footsteps in the hallway... and a very familiar British accent.

"Sorry I'm late... Nibblet ready?"

Buffy whirled.

It was Spike... and so totally not Spike.

His hair was longer than she'd ever seen it, a riot of two-toned curls. His duster was gone, his jeans were blue, and his t-shirt, while properly black, showed off not only the incredibly well-defined arms she'd never admit to lusting over...

It also showed off his healthy summer tan.

The hell?

"Hey, Slayer, nice to see you're up n' about," Spike said casually, tossing a suede backpack onto the couch. "Where's her Nibs? She's gonna be late."

"Dawn's having a teenage moment," Joyce grinned. "You want breakfast while you wait? It could be awhile."

"Have I ever turned down your cooking?" Spike grinned, giving Joyce a kiss on the cheek and looking at Giles' mug with a raised eyebrow. "Any more of that coffee, Dad?"

"What kind of dream is this?" Buffy shrieked.

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Challenge Rules

"Practically Perfect In Every Way" by Kantayra

Requirements:

Setting: Any time post-Crush.
Pairing: B/S...although they need not end up together. You can tack on a potential S/Other pairing to increase the drama if you want, but the focus should be primarily B/S.
Length: Whatever you want, but it'll probably have to be a longer fic to get in all the story requirements.

Basic Plot Elements:

1. Buffy's been annoyed by Spike's advances lately and comments off-handedly something along the lines of "Everything would just be so much easier if he didn't love me."
2. The person she makes this statement to is willing to grant her a romantic wish. (This person could be a vengeance demon or something else.)
3. Buffy's wish is to make Spike the perfect man for her to love. She has to list off a whole bunch of things that she doesn't like about him (smoking, leather, bleach, sarcasm, vampireness, the crypt (if it's S5 or S6) - whatever; let her go crazy about things she'd change about him). She makes her wish, conveniently forgetting about the earlier I-don't-want-him-to-love-me part.
4. Spike's changed! Everything that Buffy complained about has been fixed. One thing in particular - he has to be a really big hit with her friends now: Xander's best buddy, helping Willow with the magic, Giles with the research. Everyone loves him; he's one of the gang.
5. Buffy falls in love with him. Only, when she tries to kiss him - whoops! - it turns out that he-doesn't-love-her part has come true as well. I want to see Spike give Buffy the "let's be friends" speech. Make it good.
6. Now rejected, Buffy slowly comes to realize that, hey, she doesn't like a lot of other things she changed about him quite so much, either. In fact, she misses the real Spike. The message here: don't try to change the person you love.
7. The ending's entirely up to you. Does Buffy get to take her wish back and get a happy ending? Or is she stuck with what she's got and it becomes major angst? Or something completely different altogether?

Extras:

1. Give New!And!Improved!Spike an ultra-posh apartment complete with one of those huge, round beds. Buffy should be damn awed by the apartment.
2. New!And!Improved!Spike criticizing Buffy for doing something that used to be one of the 'bad' habits of his that she removed.
3. A game of pool. Preferrably with Xander involved.
4. Buffy gets jealous of the fact that New!And!Improved!Spike is a better friend to the Scoobies than she is.
5. Giles in neon-colored socks. There must be a reasonable explanation for this one.
6. As much humor as you can manage - especially in showing how Spike's changed.