Xander, Willow and Giles crowded together, looking at the page of the book that Giles had eventually located. Giles removed his glasses and polished them as he read and reread the spell. Willow and Xander looked from the page in the books to each other and then to Giles.
“Is there a problem, G-man?” Xander asked.
“No, the spell seems very straightforward and please don’t call me that horrid name, Xander.”
“Sorry, Giles,” Xander apologized, not looking the least bit remorseful.
“It says here that we need something of your father’s in order to conduct the spell,” Giles commented, reading from the thick book, “as well as something of each of yours and a couple of other ingredients.”
Willow and Xander nodded. Xander pulled off the jacket he was wearing and put it on Giles’ desk.
“John lent me that. I was only wearing a t-shirt last night, and when I left this morning it was too cold to go without,” he explained.
“I wondered about that… it looked too big to be Adam’s.” Willow commented before she paused thoughtfully, trying to consider what object she should use. In the end, she took off her wrist watch and put it on top of John’s jacket. Xander went back to the cage in the main library, returning with the pocket knife that Giles had given him as a birthday present. Giles looked quite touched that Xander had chosen the knife and cleared his throat, giving his glasses another (unneeded) polish.
“Very well, then. I will collect the other ingredients from my stores,” he said before he went to a storage cabinet, unlocking the doors before removing several little bundles of a couple of grainy powders and a few small vials of varying-colored liquids and a small pewter bowl to mix everything up in.
“Now,” he said, returning to the desk with the ingredients, “what I need to do is to add the ingredients one at a time before chanting the spell. The ingredients will form a powder, which we then sprinkle on the possessions. If you and, er, John, are all related, then it will become apparent, as will it be if only one of you is related to him.”
Willow and Xander nodded in understanding and Giles set to work, carefully measuring out the required amount of each ingredient. Willow helped, passing him the ingredients when they were needed, while Xander took them from Giles, reattached the lids and put them in a stack on the other side of the bowl. Once the ingredients were all added Giles began to chant.“Reveal to us, oh Spirits, the bonds of blood running deep,
Of brothers, sisters, long since lost and secrets buried deep,
We hunt the truth, oh Spirits, and ask that you provide the answers we seek,
So mote it be.”
Giles spoke the chant three times before he raised the bowl and poured the contents over the jacket, the watch and the knife. Then, the three leaned forward, watching in anticipation for what was to happen next.
John stayed thoughtfully quiet as he watched Sam and Adam bicker about… of all things… what was better out of Star Wars and Star Trek. Sam was on the side of Star Trek, while Adam was a Star Wars fan. John knew that Adam liked those movies… he’d taken Adam to see a couple of them at the movie theater when the boy was younger. It had all gone over John’s head but Adam had obviously enjoyed it, so he wasn’t going to complain.
Dean was watching the pair, shaking his head sadly at the pure geekiness of his two older younger brothers. He’d originally hoped that Xander would turn out to take after him and be at least moderately cool, but then Dean had seen the brightly-colored monstrosity that Xander called a shirt and all hope had left him. Dean was doomed to being the solitary cool one out of John Winchester’s numerous progeny.
The thoughts of the two men turned to Xander, both of them subconsciously knowing that the sixteen-year-old was the object of the other’s thoughts. Xander had been quiet the previous night… understandably when they considered that the poor kid had just found out that his best friend of eleven or so years was actually his half-sister. Even considering all of the things that Dean had seen and experienced throughout his life, it was weird and Dean couldn’t even begin to understand how his younger brother must be feeling… not to mention how Willow was feeling.
From what his father had said, it sounded, to Dean anyway, that Willow hadn’t even known that the man she lived with… the man her mother was married to, hadn’t actually been her biological father. Xander and Adam had both always known about John or in Xander’s case, that his mother’s husband was not his father but Willow had, for the last fifteen years, been unaware that her whole life had been a lie.
As much as he didn’t know how to cope with crying girls and how much he hated chick flick moments, he really hoped that she would be okay. Having a sister wouldn’t be too bad. He had Sammy, which was close enough, so Dean figured he could cope with a little sister. Thinking back, he reflected on the girl who had sat supportively beside Xander while they’d met with him the previous afternoon before her world had been flung upside down.
She’d been quiet, perhaps knowing that she wasn’t really wanted at the discussion, but had remained beside her best friend loyally despite how uncomfortable she would have felt. Dean could see that the loyalty between Xander and Willow ran both ways, considering how early Xander had gotten up, dressed in a pair of pants that belonged to Adam as well as one of the other teenager’s shirts and John’s jacket to ward off the morning chill, before he’d apologetically made his excuses to leave, saying that he had to go and talk to Willow about things, how she was going to need him to cope. John had let him go wordlessly. Dean figured that John knew that it would be futile to try and keep Xander away from Willow. The relationship between the two echoed the bond between Dean and Sam. Sure, they were much closer in age than Dean and Sam were, meaning that Xander would probably not have brought Willow up like Dean had to Sam, but on the same note, they were close in a way that Dean and Sam had never been, having spent their school years in the same class.
Adam, it appeared, was going to end up as the middle child in every way possible, stranded between the two groups. Dean couldn’t help but wonder if either John would make a special effort to bond with Adam because of his lonely position in the family, or if Adam would be included in Xander and Willow’s little partnership, considering he was only about four months older than Xander and just over a year older than Willow.
Dean watched as John huffed a little before getting out his phone and stalking towards the door.
“I’ll be back in a minute,” he told Dean before walking out of the motel room. Dean nodded, guessing that the phone call was going to relate somehow to something supernatural, and therefore had to be done away from Adam’s hearing.
Dean sat quietly until his phone beeped, indicating he had a new message.
‘Come outside and bring something of Xander’s.’
Dean sighed and got up, crossing over to the bed that Adam and Xander had shared the previous night. It had been a bit squishy but they’d managed. The two younger boys had shared a double bed while Dean and Sam shared the other. John had slept on the couch. Dean would offer to sleep on the couch next time. He’d forgotten how uncomfortable it was to share a bed with Sammy the Sasquatch.
He eventually located Xander’s shirt from the previous night and, trying to hide it from Adam’s view, he slipped out of the motel room. Sam had caught his eye and had upped the stakes a bit in their argument in order to keep Adam engrossed in the argument and ignorant of what Dean was doing.
John was leaning against his truck, looking at a slip of paper which was covered in his familiar writing.
“I just called Bobby and he told me a ritual that would indicate if Willow… and Xander are related to us.”
“I thought we were sure about Xander,” Dean asked, handing over the teen’s shirt.
“I am, you were the one asking questions last night,” John argued. Dean shrugged, deciding it was best to go along.
“How are we going to do this?” Dean asked.
“We’re going to need to gain access to Willow’s house. We need something of hers,” John replied. Dean nodded in understanding.
“I’m going to go and talk to Sheila. While I have her distracted, you sneak into Willow’s room and take something, not something that she’ll miss. Even a couple of hairs out of her hair brush will work.”
“Great.” Dean nodded.
“Right, you go tell Sam and Adam that we’re going out. We’ll pick up some lunch on the way back.”
Dean nodded, heading back to the motel room and passing on the message. Sam shot Dean a pointed look, knowing that he and John were up to something but at the same time, he looked quite happy to stay behind and spend some one-on-one time with Adam.
Satisfied that his two younger brothers… or at least two of them were happy and safe, Dean got up into the truck beside John and rode alongside into the Rosenberg’s house. Dena got out and wandered down the street inconspicuously while John walked straight up to the front door. He knocked a few times and waited. Eventually, he heard the lock click and the door opened, revealing a small, mousy-looking man with a balding head and a full beard. Sheila stood behind him.
“I’m John Winchester,” John introduced himself.
“Ira Rosenberg, Sheila’s husband. I think you better come inside,” Ira replied, taking John’s offered hand and shaking it before standing aside. John crossed over the threshold, getting a second look at the house his daughter lived in… potential daughter anyway.
“Have you seen Willow this morning?” Ira asked as John was led into a living room and seated on an uncomfortable couch. John was taken by the neatness of the room and the lack of personal belongings and decorations. It felt cold and unwelcoming.
“No, Xander was going to meet up with her somewhere. Why?”
“She was grounded and yet she snuck out this morning. It’s not like her to act like this. It must be that Harris boy’s influence and that friend of hers… Bunny.” Sheila scowled.
“You said that you saw Xander this morning?” Ira asked.
“Yes, he stayed with me and my boys last night. I’m actually Xander’s biological father. I had a car accident recently and it made me realize how important it was for me to connect with my children, because life is so fragile,” John said. Ira smiled while Sheila choked.
“You mean, you’d slept with Jessica Harris… oh God, it was before me too since he’s older than Willow. It’s a wonder I didn’t catch anything off you.”
“I value your opinion of life, John” Ira said, ignoring his wife’s tirade, “death is all around us and unfortunately, we never know who the next may be to fall. I often tell people through my work- I am a rabbi, you see – that it is important to always treat each day as your last, because you never know when God might call you into his arms. God works in ways that we cannot even begin to understand, after all,” he counseled wisely
John nodded, finding Ira to be the humble sort of man who valued peace and was used to playing the peacekeeper, which would explain why he wasn’t responding to Sheila’s mutterings and expressions of disgust at having shared John with Jess Harris, even though it was at completely different times.
“You are exactly right.” John nodded.
Dean snuck around the Rosenberg's’ house until he found a trellis that he could climb up in order to get onto a balcony that looked like it would lead to a bedroom. He looked around to make sure nobody from the neighboring buildings were watching, although it was a weekday and most of the inhabitants were probably at work.
The coast looked clear, so Dean began to climb, easily scaling the lattice and dropping onto the balcony. Now was the next job, picking the lock on the French doors that opened out onto the balcony.
He couldn’t help but notice, however, that the room on the other side of the door looked quite feminine and girly. Perhaps it was Willow’s room. There was no evidence of another kid living at the house, Xander had never mentioned Willow having a sibling and if what his father had told him about what Sheila Rosenberg had said about her husband was accurate then the chances were probably very slim. Letting out a sigh, Dean got his lock-picking tools out of his pocket and set to work.
It didn’t take long until the lock gave a satisfying click and Dean cautiously touched the door handle, twisting and pushing as the door moved inwards. Dean packed up his kit and crossed the threshold into the room. He looked around, smirking at the large amount of computer-related paraphernalia that was on and around her computer and the large supply of textbooks that she had stacked on her desk beside the computer. Obviously Willow was like Sam, into reading books… and computers.
“Obviously, I am the coolest Winchester,” Dean smiled to himself before he began to look around the room. He found Willow’s hairbrush and pulled some hairs loose, sliding them into a bag, which he sealed and put in his pocket.
Dean’s gaze fell on some photographs Willow had on display. Xander was in all of them and Willow herself was in most. In some of them, she and Xander were joined by another dark-haired boy and in others, a blonde-haired girl. Dean figured that they were friends of Willow’s. He couldn’t help but notice the prominence of the pictures in the room, as if Willow spent a lot of time looking at them, and he smiled sadly, realizing that perhaps Willow knew that her parents… her mother especially, didn’t give a damn… that they weren’t her real family and that she had built up her own family with her friends from school. Dean had never really been in that position, with Sammy being all the family he really needed, especially when John was away, but he could see where the loneliness came from.
Assuming that the spell gave the result that it should, confirming that both Xander and Willow were John Winchester’s children and therefore Dean, Sam, and Adam’s half-siblings, Dean was going to make sure that Willow never again felt like she would have to rely on her friends to be her family… she would have all the family she ever needed with John and Dean and Sam and Adam and, of course, in Xander.
Dean owed his youngest two siblings that much.
John and Dean met up again in the truck, John in a very dark mood for some reason. Dean held his breath, waiting for the explosion.
“She’s a bitch,” John eventually said as he drove. “She doesn’t give a damn about anyone other than herself and her damn career.”
“Sheila?” Dean asked.
“Of course. She spends almost the entire year away from her home, giving lectures on how parents should raise their children, while she’s abandoning her own daughter.”
Dean shook his head. What John had done to him and Sam wasn’t considered great parenting practice but he and Sam had NEVER been left alone for longer than two weeks. Any longer and they simply went with John, or they went and spent the time with either Bobby or Pastor Jim. Even John had never even suggested leaving him and Sam alone for that long, even when Sam was in his late teens and Dean was legally an adult.
“That’s not right,” he agreed. John shook his head.
“No wonder the kid has confidence issues. The way Sheila was talking to her last night. I’ve never seen a kid look so… shattered, like Willow did. It reminded me of Sammy’s kicked puppy look.”
Neither man said anything for a little while until John stopped on the side of the road. They’d driven out of town a bit and trees surrounded the road. They walked into the woods a little before they set up the ritual. John had brought the things needed from the back of the truck. He also had, rather thoughtfully, added something of Adam’s to the mix, just to be sure.
John added the necessary parts of the ritual to the small cauldron in the correct order with Dean passing the ingredients that needed to be measured out. Then John began to chant.“Reveal to us, oh Spirits, the bonds of blood running deep,
Of brothers, sisters, long since lost and secrets buried deep,
We hunt the truth, oh Spirits, and ask that you provide the answers we seek,
So mote it be.”
He spoke the chant three times before he raised the bowl and poured the contents over the belongings of himself, Adam, Xander and Willow. Then John and Dean leaned forward, watching in anticipation for what was to happen next.