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You've Got To Have A Little Faith

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The Plague. Capital “t”, capital “p”. The Plague. In these days. And sent by mail.  It was… how do you even prepare for something like that? You don’t. Which is why Tony was now in a lovely plastic quarantine hut hooked up to all kinds of machines watching his vitals while his team tried to find out who had caused the situation in the first place.  He didn’t even have a tv.

“Hey, Tony, how are you doing?” 

Kate’s voice dragged him out of his thoughts and he offered her a lopsided smile. “I feel alright so far, but…” Tony shrugged. “You know, in case the docs can’t…”

“You’re going to be fine, Tony.  We’ll catch the person that did this and we have the best medical help on hand to get you better.” Kate rested her hand against the clear wall, her eyes fierce in with her determination.

“I know, Kate, but just in case , I need to make a phone call.  There’s some people I need to let know what’s going on.  Besides, they might be able to help.”

“Are they doctors? Detectives?”

Tony laughed, a cough sneaking up on him out of nowhere and bringing a concerned look to Kate’s features. “Nah, well, sometimes detectives in a way I guess. But you know, I think some faith and willow cookies will help more than the doctors can in this case.”

Kate narrowed her eyes, “I didn’t take you for the faith healing type, Tony.”

Tony just grinned.

~~

Kate lingered when Tony was brought a cordless phone to make his call, wondering who it was he was reaching out to since he didn’t really have any close relatives.  His side of the phone call didn’t help clear up matters any, in fact it just left her with more questions.

“Hey, how’s my favorite girl?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry it’s been so long. I’ve missed you too.”

“Yeah, so, uh, I’m actually calling for a reason.”

“Umm, I seem to have caught The Plague.” Tony winced and held the phone out from his face for a minute.

“Yeah, yeah, I know, that’s more up Xan’s alley than mine, but what can you do.”

“No, it’s an open investigation, my team’s looking for the culprit while I’m in quarantine.”

“Oh, I’m hooked up to all kinds of equipment and docs in space suits are coming in to play vampire and take blood samples on the regular.  It’s all very E.T.”  A round of coughing interrupted his answer. 

“You’ll call them? Thank you, babe. I don’t think I’d like to try to explain an international phone call to the government right now, you know.”

Tony settled back against the pillows, his head falling back tiredly even though a soft smile tilted his lips. “Love you too. Now tell me about the girls. How are they doing?”

~~

Kate had told McGee and Gibbs about the phone call, all of them confused as to who he could have been calling since he’d never mentioned anyone except “Xan” by name.  McGee offered to trace the call, but they decided to let Tony have whatever privacy he could manage for the moment and only if it became necessary would they go that route.  They still had their culprit to find after all.

It was only two days later when the team heard a commotion from the doorway and the oddest group of people any of them had seen together entered, and McGee had been to ComicCon. The group, one man and three women, all looked to be in their 20s but after that, there was no discernable tell that they were together other than their easy familiarity with each other. At the head of the group was a blonde woman, hair in a ponytail and a stylish skirt and blouse with heels. Just behind her were a red haired woman in a slouchy, oversized sweater and jeans, while next to her was a brunette woman in leather pants and vest. Behind the two of them was the man, dark hair with an eye patch wearing cargo pants and a tshirt covered by a Hawaiian shirt looking around suspiciously. 

Before Gibbs could say anything, they heard the man mutter, “Why’d it have to be a military facility?”

The red head gave him a fond smile and suggested perkily, “Well, at least they’re Navy and Army.”

“Great, just means secret underwater bases instead of underground.”

The blonde responded with a wrinkled nose, “I hope not, you know what the humidity does to my hair.”

Gibbs already felt a headache coming on. Who were these people? Conspiracy theorists? Tourists? How’d they even get in?  “Excuse me, I’m Special Agent Gibbs, is there something I can help you with?”

The blonde lit up and extended her hand. “Special Agent Gibbs! Just the man we were looking for. Buffy Summers and associates, we’re here for Tony.”

Kate stood from her desk and walked towards the group, eyebrows raised in surprise, wondering if one of these ladies was the woman Tony had called. “I’m sorry, Tony is under quarantine, he can’t receive any visitors.” 

The brunette rolled her eyes, “Oh, I’m sure we can go visit him even if we can’t go in his bubble.  Besides, diplomatic immunity.” The smile she offered the team was not exactly friendly.

The redhead piped up, trying to diffuse the situation. “Sorry, we’re not explaining things very well. We’re...specialists. Tony called us for help, so we’re here to help.  So, you know, we have to be able to see him.”

Gibbs just gave the group a disbelieving look. “Right. Specialists. The ones that are going to heal him with faith and...willow cookies?”

The team had no idea why the group started laughing at that until the man threw his arm around the brunette’s shoulders. “I didn’t know you picked up a new talent, Faith.  Though, to be fair, Willow’s cookies are pretty amazing.”

Gibbs just raised an eyebrow at the younger man’s words.

The man stood up straighter and sighed, “Alright, let’s do this all official like then since I’m usually the one having to do the meet and greets. Xander Harris, Faith Lehane, Willow Rosenburg, Buffy Summers.” He said as he pointed to each of them in turn. “We’re with the Watcher Foundation based out of England with branches throughout the States.  Tony is a friend of ours and asked for our help, so here we are. Given our diplomatic immunity we don’t technically have to supply you with a whole lot of information, especially considering our past experiences with the military left a lot to be desired, but he’s your agent and it’s an open case and we don’t want to leave any possible loopholes or suggestions of interference.”

McGee finally piped up, “But you’re all American.”

Faith just grinned toothily, “Yup” popping the “p” at the end.

Buffy just shrugged, “You can check all our paperwork and stuff, it’s all here.” She handed over a file folder of severely redacted documents. “Giles takes care of all that stuff, paperwork is so not my thing.”

“And who is this ‘Giles’?” Gibbs was seriously wishing they had made it out in the field before these people showed up, but everything in the file seemed to be in order, even if it was suspicious as hell.

“Former librarian.” Xander let out an “oomph” as Faith elbowed him in the stomach. “What, he was.”

Willow shook her head at her friend, “He’s a Watcher, also the Director of the Foundation.”  Noticing Mcgee typing away at his computer, she leaned over to look at him, “Oh, you won’t find much on us, but you’re welcome to try.”

Gibbs handed back the file, still not trusting the group but having very little reason as to why, “And what exactly are you people watching?”

Every last one of the group took on a completely innocent look.

“Oh, you know, things.” Started Buffy.

“People.”

“Events.”

“Patterns.”

“That’s incredibly...vague and disturbing.” Kate shared a look with Gibbs. Who were these people and how did Tony know them?

Xander clapped his hands suddenly, making everyone jump. “Alright, now that formalities are out of the way, why don’t you take us to see Tony?”

Gibbs drew himself up straight in front of the group, “I’m going to make this very clear, I don’t know you people and, despite those completely unhelpful documents, I don’t trust you.  We have surveillance in place anyway, but my team will be there through your entire visit to ensure nothing happens.”  Turning in place he stalked off towards the elevators, leaving the others to follow behind.

Xander rolled his eyes and muttered, “Begone with you, or we’ll drop a house on you too.”

Willow hit him that time. “Xander!”

“What, Tony would’ve gotten it.” He sulked.  Besides, even though he could tell Tony’s team cared, his boss was kind of an ass.

~~

The Scoobies all rushed toward the plastic tent housing Tony and his medical equipment, completely forgetting any semblance of propriety.

After they’d all gotten to say hello to their very pale and weak looking friend, Faith put her hand on the wall, “Hey, boytoy, how ya feeling?”

Tony gave her a sad smile, “Not so good, babe.” A round of coughing left him wheezing while the group and his team looked on concerned. “Wish you guys didn’t have to see me like this.”

Willow frowned at him, “None of that, mister, we’re right where we need to be.  Sorry I didn’t bring cookies though.”

“S’alright, Wills, you can make them for me when I’m all better.”

Willow sniffled a little but straightened her shoulders. “Right. Which means it’s time for me to get to work.” Looking back at his team who were watching them suspiciously, she turned back to face him. “Do you trust them with this?”

“Do I trust them with you guys, you mean?” Tony looked from his long time friends to his team, his new friends and confidants. Nodding, he offered Gibbs a smile. “You’re going to hate this, boss, but it’s all real.  Need to get rid of the docs though.” When his team and the doctors started protesting he raised a hand weakly, “Just for a few minutes, promise.”

Gibbs stared at Tony for a long moment, saw the conviction on his face, saw the serious expressions and concern on the faces of his friends, friends he had known nothing about with redacted files and immunity. Reluctantly, he nodded, waving for the doctors to leave.  As soon as they left, he nodded. “You’re all clear.  Don’t make me regret this.”

Tony just wound up coughing again, all of them flinching at the harsh, unforgiving sound.

Willow frowned, “Tony, I’m going to need a little blood, freely given.”

While Gibbs and his team started arguing, Tony held up the hand he had coughed into with a sad smile, quieting all of them. “Not so much a problem, Wills.” Blood droplets had spattered his hand as he coughed.

“Oh, boytoy.” Faith pressed against the flimsy barrier, Xander’s arm settling around her waist as he hugged her against him, Buffy curled against his other side, sniffling.

“It’s okay, babe, Wills will fix me. I’ll be fine. It’ll be okay.”

“Think I’m supposed to be the one telling you that.”

“Frankly, my dear…” Faith’s watery laughter and Xander’s surprised chuckle cut him off and the group shared a soft smile.

The team would never be able to explain what happened next, and the surveillance video suddenly went to static as soon as Tony finished speaking. They watched though, fearfully and in awe, as Willow’s hair and eyes suddenly went white, her hair floating up around her as she started chanting. Suddenly the droplets of blood shot across the contamination tent to splatter on the wall in front of her, her hand splayed out on top of them as her chanting grew more intense.  

As the three agents crowded together, witness to something none of them had ever seen before, they watched as a black smoke began to pour from Tony’s mouth and nose and then seemed to seep from his very pores, the specialized exhaust fans drawing it away from him as he hugged himself tightly.

Just as Willow finished chanting, collapsing back into Buffy’s waiting arms, the blood on the wall sizzled and sparked before disappearing entirely and Tony collapsed back on the bed unconscious, several people yelling out “Tony!” in response.

Willow’s voice was slurred as she spoke, her hair and eyes gradually returning to their natural colors. “He’s fine. Jus’ sleepin’.” She waved towards the heart monitor which was pulsing evenly. 

“Are you...is she okay?” Kate looked at the group and the woman who had just done...something beyond understanding. 

Xander nodded, “She’ll be alright. Big mojo like that takes a lot out of her is all. A little food and a nap and she'll be back to new.”

Gibbs wasn’t sure what to think, but it was hard to dispute what he’d seen.  Whether it actually did anything or not… “And Tony’s cured now? How’s that going to work?” He gestured vaguely towards the desks and lab setups the doctors had been using.

“Yeah, so, I was told to talk to a Dr. Mallard? Apparently our old English guy knows your old English guy and they’ll figure something out. Ow! Buffy!” Xander rubbed his stomach as she just stuck her tongue out at him.

“I’m telling him you said that.”

“Yeah, yeah, what’s G-man going to do? Send me to Siberia? Oh wait…” He stuck his tongue back out at her.

“Hey, you totally found Natalia there!”

Kate and McGee just looked at each other, because, seriously, what the hell?

“So anyway,” Xander continued, facing Gibbs, “Faith is going to stay for a while, make sure nothing else happens to our boy here. We’ll be heading back out as soon as he wakes up.  Evil and teenage girls wait for no one, and all that.”

Gibbs just looked between the four of them and gave it up as a lost cause. “Right. McGee will take you to see Ducky, then.  And the canteen is on the ground floor if you need to stop for something to eat.”

They nodded and started to follow the young agent towards the elevators when Gibbs reached out, touching Willow’s arm. “I’m not sure I get what happened here, but it’s hard to argue with what I just saw.  If what you did worked...well, I owe you. Thank you.”

Willow just smiled and covered his hand with hers. “Nothin’ to owe. He’s a friend. And it’s our job to help. You jus’ catch the bad lady, ‘kay.”

The three agents shared a look at the unintentional lead they may have given them and McGee nodded as he led them away, Gibbs following.

Kate walked over to the remaining woman who looked so rough but was staring at Tony hunched in on herself. “Are you two…?”

Faith smiled softly and shrugged, “When we can be. My job means I travel a lot so I visit when I can, but I’m needed elsewhere and he’s needed here.”

“That must be rough.”

“It can be. But, my job, Buffy’s job, has a high mortality rate, you could say.  In fact the two of us are the longest serving ones, Buffy the first. And Willow and Xander have been right there next to her the entire time. With stats like that, you learn to treasure the relationships you have, you know?”

Of course her answer left Kate with way more questions than before, but she could appreciate what she said too.  Pulling a couple of chairs over, the two sat down to wait for Tony to wake up.

~~

It took a day for Tony to wake up, his color returned and his breathing clear, the only doctor to return to check on him and take samples was Ducky and he and Faith and Kate were regaled with tales of youthful adventures with a young man named Ripper, which had Faith giggling. As soon as all the tests came back clear, Faith was allowed to enter the tent, curling up on the bed next to Tony as they held each other tight.  For appearances sake, they were going to keep Tony for a few more days before reporting that he responded well to treatment and would then be put on medical leave for another week just in case.

The rest of the Scoobies did indeed fly out after he woke up, after promising to visit during his leave when they could all spend some time relaxing together. Tony’s team wasn’t quite sure what to think about the whole situation, but after the Director called them in and had them sign a couple NDAs from the Watcher Foundation, decided they had other things to worry about.  The fact that they caught the culprit the day before Tony was scheduled to leave was just icing on the cake. They never saw the whole group together again, but occasionally one or the other would pop in and take Tony to lunch. And if, when Faith showed up, drawing attention from the whole room as only she could, the two of them disappeared for the rest of the day, case willing, the rest of the team just smiled and told them to enjoy their time, watching as the two became softer, gentler with each other unlike they were with everyone else.

A batch of Willow’s homemade cookies sent every month or so definitely helped too.