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Author's note: No references or dialogue borrowed from Something Blue, and I have extended this episode, so it differs very little from my first draft; just the occasional extra scene, here or there. Enjoy.


"It was a day like any other. Students attend classes, lectures dole out or request assignments, parents work and try not to worry about their kids. But while this student could see these normal everyday occurrences, she felt cut off from them. As they would continue, with or without her presence. She knew that something was wrong. What, she did not know.

" It did not reveal itself until the last class of the day. She's sitting in class, when suddenly the change occurs. The other students, she can see them, but they can't see her. Time slows as her panic rises. She wonders what is happening to her, why today and what she did or did not do to cause this to occur. If it is happening to anyone else. She tries to attract their attention, even shouting, but no one, not even the professor, responds.

"She touches the desk, and then her books, and to her relief, they are still solid. She reaches into her bag and gets out a compact to see herself in a mirror. The clear piece of mirror stares back at her, a blank void of nothingness.

"A sense of despair comes over her, as she realises that no one else has noticed, no one else is experiencing this. She looks up at the clock above the blackboard, out a vain sense of trying to capture the last minute of her fading existence,... and that's when the vision ends."

Some moments of silence met the conclusion of Doyle's narration, as the rest of those present digested the information just received. The slayerettes had convened at Giles and Jenny's apartment after school, having received a message from Cordelia that Doyle had received a vision from the Powers that Be. After they all arrived at the apartment, the half-Bracken was asked to recall the vision as much as he possibly could, despite the pain his human half endured as a after-effect of the vision. For the first time since Doyle's arrival in Sunnydale, he had received a vision which was unrelated to anything else they were investigating. A cry for help on behalf of a stranger.

"Could you describe her?" Angel asked then, a sketchbook resting upon his lap, a pencil in his hand, poised for drawing.

Doyle nodded. "She has dark blond hair, brown eyes. A freshman I believe, the books she has are all titled Introduction to, etc."

"Did you see the time or the date?" Questioned the slayer.

"Saw the date and time. That was weird. When she looks up at the clock, it changes to one of those which say the date as well." Doyle paused and closed his eyes, calling back the vision in his mind, focusing on the last few seconds, concentrating on the clock, attempting to length the glimpse he received so he could define the numbers. "About thirty-seven hours from now," he recalled, opening his eyes in shock as he realised.

"You can see her books, so can you get her name?" Willow asked from her place by the laptop, which she had opened up the moment she and Oz arrived, so if there was website which could prove useful to providing a key to the vision, it would be immediately available.

Doyle closed his eyes again, his mind focusing this time on the personal belongings of the girl, searching for the registration card which every pupil was required to carry. "Its Tara; T A R A..... McClaye. Clay with an e. Scottish prefix."

"Thanks," Oz acknowledged for his girlfriend who accessed the database of Sunnydale UCA, searching for the personnel files belonging to that name.

Giles and Jenny's apartment settled into silence for a while, broken only by the clicking of mouse buttons and keyboard, and the scratching of pencil on paper, as Angel composed the sketch of the girl, to Doyle's description. His talent for art, usually something which his demon used to torment his victims, was now used a resource for his soul as well, a force for good, suitable revenge on the demon which his soul contained within his body.
After ten minutes Angel turned round his sketchbook and showed it to Doyle.

The Irish Lit Professor nodded. "Yeah, that's her."

Angel turned the pad back around so he could stare at the finished article without the critical artist.

"She looks familiar," he remarked thoughtfully.

"Well, we have thirty-seven hours to save a girl from turning invisible," Buffy grimly announced, startling those who were unfamiliar with the first case of invisibility which came to Sunnydale, four years ago.

"Invisible?" Doyle queried.

"About four years ago we had to stop an invisible girl from terrorising the High school," Buffy began." "Marcie Ross was her name. She wanted to be popular, one of the Cordettes, but she was frozen out for trying to hard, and the loneliness turned upon her, using the hellmouth to make her invisible. She decided to go after Cordelia in revenge, and anyone else who stood in her way."

"When was that?" Angel asked her, puzzled at never having heard this story, despite knowing Buffy, her watcher and her friends back then.

"When you pulled myself, Xander and Willow out of the High school basement before we succumbed to the effects of suffocation," Giles reminded him.

"Marcie lured us down there with her music," Xander replied. "She was a flautist, and she recorded a sample of her playing and hid it in the basement. When we went down there to find her, she locked the door and sabotaged the gas pipes."

"How do you stop a girl from becoming invisible?" Inquired Doyle.

"By becoming her friend," Buffy answered. "The feeling of Invisibility is caused by loneliness. The hellmouth uses the suffering the victim endures as a weapon to turn her into a human ghost demon, essentially erasing them from the plane of existence. By becoming her friend, the loneliness should disappear, preventing the victim from turning invisible."

"What happened to that girl who was already invisible, Marcie Ross?" Doyle asked.

"Buffy found Marcie's yearbook, in which she had vandalised my picture," Cordelia said. " She had also took a baseball bat to my boyfriend, and killed a teacher I asked for help from, making it look like a suicide. When Buffy let me know what happening and protected me, she kidnapped the two us and threatened to kill me. We talked her down a little, but then these two guys claiming to be from the FBI, took her away."

"We later discovered that they weren't Federal agents," Willow added from her spot by the laptop. "There was no record of them on the FBI database. We never heard from Marcie or those guys who took her away again."

"And considering what we've found out about the Initiative so far," Buffy remarked, "I dread to think what they have Marcie doing. I'd rather not lose another person to them. Not on my watch."

"Found her," Oz announced at that moment as he leaned over Willow to click the mouse and bring up the entry. "Tara McClaye. Born in....."

"We don't need to know personal," Buffy interrupted him. "Only her classes and clubs. We only come to know about her fully from her, as she becomes our friend."

"Good point," Oz agreed as he scrolled down to that part of the page. "Right, she has," he paused as he read the first subject. "Art History 106,"

Angel gasped in shock, then Oz continued. "And your English Lit class, Buffy and Cordy."

"Oh god," Buffy murmured, as her soulmate reached into his bag, checked his class roster and confirmed his own part guilt.

"And she's a member of the wiccan club," Oz added.

Guilty silence followed, as she each member of the scooby gang mentioned dwelt on their memories, searching for anything that would lessen the regret of not noticing the innocent sooner, in vain. Hindsight and excuses were useless to the situation, as well as of purely selfish origin. Inwardly all of them resolved to never be so self-involved again.

"Is there a photo, Oz?" Jenny asked, breaking the silence.

"Yeah," Oz answered, clicking the zoom link. The scooby gang clustered around the laptop, the guilt each party was feeling the most prominent, as they tried to see if the photo helped jog their memories.

As their surrogate father realised, however, the photo did nothing. Taking off his glasses for a clean, he spoke. "It is in the past, there is nothing you can do to change that. You can help her in the present. Who will cross with her first?"

"Will," Oz answered. "This afternoon."

"Then, Willow, you can make the first move," Giles continued, "followed by Angel in his class tomorrow, then Buffy and Cordelia in English Literature after recess. Sooner if you meet Angel after class as usual. We reconvene back here tomorrow evening for a progress report. Remember, we have to act fast, before this girl is lost forever."

After they returned to the mansion, Angel took out and set up his own laptop, and began scanning for the innocent amongst his files, where he had kept records of every student he taught, their grades and progress in Art History. After a few moments, he found her.

Buffy leaned over his shoulder from behind his seat as together they read her current grade predictions and assignment marks.

"Wow, these are good," she commented.

"I know," Angel uttered softly. "Why can't I remember her?"

Buffy bent her neck a little and kissed his cheek. "Angel, you teach freshman, sophomore, seniors and grad students. You cannot be expected to remember everyone you teach, no matter how intelligent they are." she paused to wrap her arms around his neck, her fingers caressing the upper plane of his chest through his clothes, soothing away his brooding concern over his neglect of a pupil. "Even being a chosen warrior. We hold ourselves to a higher standard, but we're not prophetic or perfect."

He closed the laptop down, pushed it away across the table, then pulled at her arms until she came to stand beside him, whereupon he pulled her down into his lap. "You are."

"You're biased," was all she could say before he kissed her.

The union rapidly turned into a fully fledged makeout session as the chosen warriors surrendered to their passionate desire for each other. The slayer wrapped her arms around his neck once more, arching her back as their tongues duelled.

In barely a moment, the makeout turned into something deeper, as Angel's lips slipped to her neck, briefly worshipping the small scar she still carried from his fangs when she offered her blood to save his life last summer, before moving down to small expanse of soft flesh which lay before her rib cage. His hands wondered down the limits of her clothes, pressing the material against her skin, the friction of smooth cotton mesh slowly waking her arousal. He gently lifted her up on the table, his body following her movements to loom above her, not separating from her for a second. Together they laid down, Buffy's hands moving underneath his shirt at the small of his back, while his lips continued to seek out and worship what patches of bare skin he could find.

The buttons of her blouse were almost all undone when the moment was ruined, as their vampire and slayer danger senses came alive and told them that they were no longer alone in the dining room. In unison they looked away from each other in the direction of the source, who was casually leaning against the wall which marked the threshold of the room from the double height living and hall area of mansion, his eyes watching them avidly.

"Please, continue," Spike requested with a leering grin barely hidden upon his face.

Neither of the couple obeyed, rapidly making themselves decent instead, pulling down clothes, fastening buttons, adjusting their postures to upright, looking outraged and annoyed with their house guest.

"Willow called," Spike continued, walking further into the room, ignoring the glares he was receiving from the slayer and his grandsire. "She said that her and Tara established first names basis and their mutual distaste of the other members of the wiccan club, on account of them only being interested in making cakes and asserting their independence. She said and I quote that the next move is Angel's." He paused, then asked, "who's Tara?"

"Just an innocent we have to save," Buffy replied, hoping from her tone of affected indifference that Spike would see no further interest in it.

She was wrong. "What if she doesn't want to be saved?" He asked.

"From becoming invisible?" Buffy countered.

"How do you do that?" Spike asked, before answering the question himself. "No, wait, let me guess. You become her friend." He laughed. Loudly.

Usually, she would make a point of never rising to any baited comment from Spike, who seemed to be intent on causing as much annoyance as possible while he was a guest of their protection from the Initiative, but frustration from having their privacy disturbed was at present overwhelming that good sense. "What's so amusing about that?"

"First; you lot are the most dysfunctional group I have ever known," Spike replied. "Second; that's the most selfish act I've ever heard."

Now Buffy was truly mystified. "Selfish?" She echoed. "How is becoming someone's friend selfish?"

"Because you're doing it only because she appeared in a vision as an innocent to save. Not because of who she is." Spike paused to let that point register home, then added, "you're not bothered about her at all. She's like one of those people who you rescue from us, only you can't let her disappear into the night nursing nothing more than a fang scar. If you succeed, she'll be part of your group forever. And when she finds out why you became her friends, she'll be incredibly hurt."

When Buffy and Angel first heard Spike's words, they brushed them aside, as their distrust of him made them so inclined. But as the hours passed by, the words began to haunt them, causing them to think, and to doubt. A night of sleep furthered this, leaving Angel very thoughtful during what happened to be his first class of the day; Art History; Freshman.

He had watched his students enter the room, casting his eyes over each one of them, trying to see how long it took for his mind and memory to recall their name, their aptitude for the subject, whether or not they had chosen the course to fulfil a requirement or out of a general interest in the subject matter, and their general character during class. To his relief, most of the names came easily enough, along with a few of their grades.

But the last two caused more thought than the first. And though he had only been teaching them for a few months and he remembered Buffy's words the night before, guilt rose up inside him for not putting enough of himself into the job of college professor. Of not giving the students his all, as he had promised Sunnydale's UCA board during his interview when they offered him the post. Until last night he had considered himself to be one of the more caring professors, whom was well liked and respected by his students, who despite his semi-scandalous relationship with a student, was someone that those who he taught could confide in, and were not afraid of. Now he felt that he had betrayed that trust.

Then she entered, and he was forced to push the emotion to the back of his mind, and focus on the mission.

He watched her follow the other students in, noticing that she walked alone and talked to no one, taking her seat in a manner which was suggestive of someone who was scared of being noticed, and had endured several bad experiences when she was, or when she tried to draw attention to herself. Angel could not help but feel an empathy with her, as he remembered a time when he had felt just such an outsider, though for very different reasons entirely of his own making. He remembered the fierce desire he felt to belong, and the pain which the loneliness caused, as he believed every time that no one would accept him, not when they saw the demonic face his soul tried so hard to hide. How long it had taken him to trust his soulmate and her friends with himself, for fear that they would reject him whenever he revealed a part of his demonic past.

The lecture hall settled into silence as everyone took their seats and got out their notepads and source books. Angel gathered himself and turned to place a picture on the white board behind him, before beginning the lesson.

"Good morning," he uttered, turning to face them. "What, on first glance, without attention to the style or artist, can you tell me about this painting?" He asked, indicating the picture on the board with his hand.

He waited for the raised hands, and noticed that Tara's came up with them. Not wishing to appear obvious, he prompted someone else first. "Hyatt."
"Its of two women?"

All right, that one had clearly chosen the subject to fulfil a course requirement. Angel waited for the few bursts of laughter to die down, then prompted the next student. "Tara."

She seemed surprised to be noticed, which instantly caused another layer of guilt in Angel's mind, and when she spoke, it was with a nervous stammer. "F-f-from their positions; grief."

Angel flashed his smile and nodded in appreciation. "Yes, well noted," he remarked. A lot of hands dropped and he knew it was time for another prompt. "Okay, any studying historians here?" A few hands were raised, including Tara's. "Who can tell me which era their costumes are?" One or two hands dropped, but not Tara's. Still he had to pick someone else. "Anne."

"They're Tudor."

"Precisely. Now, note the rich colours, the use of gold. Putting these points together, the grief, the costumes, the richness, can any of you identify the main woman?"

There was a long pause, which he had expected, for the subject was not American. A few hands then cautiously came up, Tara's among them. Angel knew he had to chose someone else though. "Chris."

"Anne Boleyn?"

"Yes, Anne Boleyn in the Tower, is the title of the this painting," Angel confirmed. "She was a lady in waiting at Henry VIII's court, until she caught the king's eye. She was the woman he made the break with Rome for, in order to divorce his first wife. However, though giving birth to the future Elizabeth I, she could not provide Henry with a son and heir, and she was accused of multiple accounts of adultery, including incest with her brother, and executed in 1536."

He paused, before reverting back to his subject. "Now, let us consider logic here. Anne Boleyn was sent to the Tower of London before her execution, with only a few trusted female attendants allowed to wait on her at the end, the others before them being spies for the king, as his ministers assembled the evidence which was to condemn her to death.

"Paintings required official court permission, and a long series of sittings by the subject, as the artist was required to convey not just the features of the person they were painting, but any symbolism which would tell others who that person was, their beliefs and their position of importance to history. Do you think Henry VIII would have allowed such a picture to be painted, while he was destroying all displays of her badge and devices? No. So, now returning to style, when do you think this portrait was accomplished?"

Some hands were raised. Angel picked her out again. "Tara."

"In the Romanticism, by the style," she answered, with a little less nerves.

"Yes; 1835, to be exact. Which brings us to the main object of this lesson. Perception. Clearly, by the date of this painting, you can tell that the painter was not alive when this event occurred." Unless he was a vampire, which Angel highly doubted. "This is further proved by the subject and the setting. The artist has relied on his imagination, your imagination, and your knowledge of who Anne Boleyn is, and her fate. History has taught us her legend well, and the debate over her innocence or guilt still resides today. Perception is a very powerful but also very vulnerable concept. It can be manipulated and used to someone's own advantage. But if one applies logic and knowledge, it can also be overcome, though its impressions may stay imprinted on your mind. Edouard Gibot knew all of this when he did the painting.

"As did Paul Delaroche," he added, sticking another picture up, "when he did this; The Execution of Lady Jane Grey. As you can see the background show them to be inside, when the actual event took place on Tower Green, outside the Tower of London. The artist has focused on the romance surrounding the girl's story, presuming her innocence through her youth. She was only nineteen when she was executed, a fate her cousin, Mary I was forced to use, after the girl's father tried to raise a rebellion in her name.

"Historians know now that Jane was a devoutly religious Protestant, determined to save England from a return to the church of Rome. Even when she was condemned to death, her relatives and friends ensured that her letters describing her beliefs were published, so those who shared her faith viewed her as a martyr. Yet, the image of this young girl, struggling to find the block, remains a strong impression. Victorians focused on the romantic tragedy of the girl, even ignoring the records of letters written by her which did not tally with their impression of the nine days queen. Perception, in the end, is always our first memory."

Perfectly timed, the bell rang at the end of this moment. Angel placed the pile of assignments at the end of his desk. "You can collect your last assignments on your way out," he remarked.

The first students came up, and Angel having remembered some of them, quietly congratulated them on their work, or advised some to try harder. He glanced up as the doors of the lecture room swung open, and saw Buffy, Willow and Cordelia step into the room. English Lit was after the short morning recess which followed this class.

Angel turned back to the room and relocated Tara. She had hung towards the back once more, not wanting to draw negative attention to herself by appearing too eager, and he waited patiently for her to reach the desk and collect her paper before talking to her.

"Good work, Tara," he said, just as Buffy, Willow and Cordelia moved through the students towards the desk. "You made some very salient points," he added truthfully, for she was a very good student, someone who had a real talent for the subject as he had only just discovered.

"Hey Angel," a voice spoke at that moment, causing an instant smile to his face, despite him knowing that this time she had not just come to see him.

"Hey," he replied, before leaning across the desk to kiss her.

Curiosity. It was one of the things they could count on. From the moment it had become known that the new professor of Art History was dating a student, the relationship had been a source of great curiosity to the rest of the university populous.

And Tara was no exception. She was prepared to go as soon as Professor O'Connor had looked up to the source of the new voice, but witnessing him answer to a different name and then the kiss, she realised that she was watching the most gossiped about couple on campus, and stayed to see if what she had heard was true.

Due to time, and their own scruples to be discreet on campus, the kiss was short, but no less as intense. Their lips touched in an experienced way, conveying to witnesses how well, how intimately, they knew each other. And as they parted, their eyes held each other's gaze for a long time.

"Hey Tara," Willow then uttered, and the spell was broken.

"This feels wrong now."

The scooby gang all turned to look upon the slayer, the author of those words, but none made any objection. All had met Tara now, for after the English Lit class spent with Buffy and Cordelia, she had accompanied them back to Giles and Jenny's apartment, where the rest of them by degrees had gathered, thus meeting the innocent they had to save. As they involved her in their conversations, inquired gently after her thoughts, feelings and opinions, they realised what a sweet, kind girl she was, just terribly shy.

"I told ya," Spike said, breaking the silence, having also met her, when he came over to watch Passions, because Buffy had yet to persuade Angel of the merits of getting a TV.

"You did," Buffy agreed, much to his surprise, "and you were right. Tara's a sweet person. Its wrong to become her friend just because we have to save her. It should be on her own merits."

"What do we do then?" Anya asked. "Disregard her? After going to all the trouble of seeking her out?"

"No," Willow answered, "that would hurt her just as easily. It could even accelerate the invisibility. Whatever our motives were we're committed now. And its not as if she won't be a gain. She has a knowledge, possibly some experience in magic, judging by the reaction she had to the wiccan books."

"Somehow," Buffy uttered, "that doesn't seem right either. Our motives for keeping her as a friend should not be because she has, or seems to have a knowledge of magic. Supernatural aptitude should not be a requirement to join our group." She paused to emphasise her point. "It should be because of her character, nothing more."

"Then we just make that our motive from now on," Anya decided. "As Willow said, we're committed now. There's no point in quibbling over the details."

"We see your point," Xander said from his seat next to her, "but that doesn't atone the first ones for us."

Anya glanced at the clock on the desk, which had been set on a countdown since the vision ended. "You have time, not much but some, to make amends."

"Make amends for what?" A strange but familiar voice asked.

The scooby gang looked up from the meeting to the front door, now open, and stared in surprise at their visitor.

"Mr Giles, you should really lock your door," Wesley Wyndam-Pryce added as he now entered the apartment.

"Wesley," Buffy remarked. "Where did you spring from?"

"Alabama," Wesley replied, before taking a photo out of his pocket. He held it up for them all to see. "Any of you seen this girl?"

The scooby gang stared at the photograph, noted that it was Tara, and chose to play dumb, saying "no," variously after one another.

"Really?" Wesley queried, sceptical. "Because this shot is on a page at the University of Sunnydale database of students. A page which the telephone line of this apartment clicked on to. I know because I set up a trace so I could track down anyone who looked up the name of Tara McClaye."

"Why?" Buffy had to ask.

"Because she has been missing from her home for over four months."

That was one thing none of them were expecting.

"And why should that concern you?" Jenny asked. "I thought, we all thought, you had returned to the Watcher's Council."

"The Council were not pleased with my actions concerning Faith," Wesley replied shortly, "and requested that I leave their service. So I set up as a sort of rogue demon hunter."

There was a short, rapidly muffled burst of laughter at that moment, as the gang recalled his ability, or rather lack there of, at killing demons. Then the slayer took charge.

"I'm sorry, Wes, but none of us have ever seen that picture before. Are you sure you traced it right?"

"Very sure," Wesley answered. "Because I checked the database afterwards and found out that she is in a number of your classes. Now, will you all stop evading me and tell me how I can find her."

"Why should we?" Cordelia asked.

"Because her family miss her very much and want her back."

"I highly doubt that," a voice said behind him, making them all jump, "as they won't pick up the phone and talk when I call them."

Wesley stepped back from in front of the door, and Tara walked inside, up to the group. "What is going on?" She asked.

There was a nervous moment of silence as the gang tried to decide how to answer, attempting to think of the most tactful words with which to reply, ones which might not hurt Tara's feelings and somehow justify their actions. Then Spike saved them the trouble.

"Its like this, luv," he began. "Doyle here had a vision of you turning invisible. Being a group who are charged with saving the world and slaying the dragon so to speak, they had to try and stop it by becoming your friend. So they played dumb in front of this guy who's trying to trace ya."

Tara brought her hands to her face, her fingers brushing away the tears which slid down her cheeks, her eyes blinking in an effort to control the grief she felt. When she spoke, it was with a half sorrowful voice. "You all b-b-became my friend just to s-s-stop me from t-t-turning invisible?"

Buffy stood up and faced her. "In the beginning, yes," she answered honestly. "And it seemed a good intention, at the time. But then we got to know you and we realised what a great person you are, and we began to feel guilty." She paused to meet Tara's eyes. "We know its terrible, but we're asking for a second chance."

There was a long pause, as Tara looked at every one of them. She returned to Buffy, still in thought, when the silence was broken by a loud buzzing noise. They all turned, to see that the alarm clock was ringing.

"Time's up," said Tara, before glancing at herself. "I guess I'm not invisible." She looked up at Buffy.

The slayer held out her hand. "My name is Buffy Summers. And I'm the vampire slayer," she began. "Can we start afresh?"

Tara looked from the outstretched hand, to her face, then placed her hand in the former, and shook it. "And I'm Tara McClaye. Nice to meet you."

"Same here. Welcome to the scooby gang."

Night came on and found slayerettes at the Bronze, explaining to Tara what a slayer was, vampires, demons and the hellmouth, and what being a member of the scooby gang meant, among other things.

"So," Willow remarked to Wes, who had joined them and was sitting next to her, "what are going to do now?"

"That's up to Tara," Wesley said, meeting her eyes. "Do you want me to tell your family I've found you?"

"No," Tara replied. "I'll tell them myself. I meant to tell them I changed university choices ages ago."

"Why did you run from them in the first place?" Buffy asked.

"They didn't like me having independence from them," Tara replied. "They tried to control my friends, every aspect of my life. They couldn't understand that I needed to find my own path. I thought the distance would allow me space to grown, while letting them realise that this would help me."

"So, you're a rogue demon hunter now," Xander said to Wes.

"Yes," Wesley replied.

"How come you were looking for Tara then?" Cordelia asked.

"Rogue demon hunter is mostly freelance, and pays very little. I did detective work on the side in order to make ends meet," Wes replied after a while. "I think I might set up a base here now. Help you guys out."

"You could offer Spike a job," Buffy suggested. "Keep him occupied."

"Rogue demon hunter and demon," Wesley mused, with a significant look at Tara, unnoticed by all save her. "That sounds worth investigating."

Note: The paintings of Anne Boleyn in the Tower, by Edouard Gibot (c.1835) and The Execution of Lady Jane Grey, by Paul Delaroche (c. 1834) (1797-1856), can be viewed by clicking here.

The End.
To Be Continued In....