I know, I have another fic to finish, but I get so side-tracked! This is also a work in progress, multi short-chapter fic, AU Pilot. Sam whumpage and limp Sam (but of course ;p)

Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Spoilers for parts of the pilot.


CHAPTER ONE

Dean snapped his cell shut and tossed it onto the empty passenger seat. It bounced off and landed on the floor with a clunk. He didn't pick it up, just leaned forward with his arms folded against the wheel. His heart hammered against his ribs, his stomach turning in sickening cartwheels and knots.

A truck roared by, its tyres hissing on the wet road.

The Impala shuddered, and Dean shuddered with it. The late morning sun glared through the thinning clouds, throwing light against puddles and blinding him with its brilliance. He pressed fingers into his eyes and rubbed at the ache within them. His thoughts were whirling, tumbling over one another.

It had been three days since he'd heard from his father. John had gone out on a hunt and hadn't returned. Dean had tried calling him countless times but kept getting his voice mail. Something had happened. Dean could feel it. The butterflies in his stomach were churning up his insides and with each passing moment the dread within him grew. John wouldn't have left without telling him. Dean shook his head, trying to jerk some sense into his mind. John wouldn't have just left.

Ten forty-five. Two more hours and he'd be in San Francisco. A little further and he'd be in Palo Alto.

Sam was in Palo Alto.

Sammy.

Dean swallowed roughly. It had been two years since he'd seen his younger brother. In that whole time they hadn't spoken once. Their father had had a lot to do with Sam leaving, and Dean hadn't dared bring it up with John since the day Sam had walked out the door. Sam may have walked away, and John may have disowned his youngest son, but Dean had never forgotten his brother. Not a day had gone by when Dean hadn't wondered how Sam was. God knew, not a day had gone by when Dean hadn't missed his best friend.

Dean shot a sideways glance at his phone. He'd dialled Sam's number many times, but had never managed to go through with the call. Such a huge part of him had wanted to speak to his brother on so many occasions, but always something had stopped him. Now he was on his way to Sam's apartment, and he still hadn't found the courage to talk to Sam. What if Sam didn't want to see him? The butterflies in his stomach grew more frantic.

He slammed his palm against the wheel. Life had driven him into a corner and for the first time ever he was completely alone; and mildly scared. His lip twitched. Scared? He never felt scared. Fear was such a foreign concept to him. Dean Winchester didn't get scared. He caught his eyes in the rear view mirror and noticed how red and tired they were. His reflection looked like it should belong to someone else. He hadn't slept properly since he'd realized John was missing. Quickly he tore his gaze away, clearing his throat and forcing himself calm.

He'd go to Palo Alto and find Sam. He'd ask for Sam's help. He'd be prepared for Sam to push him away, to refuse to see him. He'd be prepared to argue with his little brother for the sake of their family. For over twenty years he'd been fighting to keep their dysfunctional family unit together. His first failure had come when Sam had left for college, and his second had come more recently when John had disappeared. He wasn't ready to wave the white flag yet. He just hoped that if Sam couldn't bring himself to help for the sake of their father, he'd do it for Dean's sake instead.

Dean reached down and fished his cell phone off the floor. His fingers shook as he gripped it and flipped it open. What if Sam didn't pick up? What if he saw Dean's number and refused to answer? Or worse still, what if he'd deleted Dean's number entirely and had no idea who was calling? What if's ran rampant around Dean's troubled mind for the better half of a minute. He chewed his lip. He jiggled the phone in his palm. He threw his gaze out the window and focused on the golden leaves coming off the trees beside his car.

Sam may have written him off. It was a painful truth Dean might have to face. For the past two years he'd refrained from contacting his brother even though it had felt like such a huge part of him was missing along with Sam. He'd given his brother space because he'd clung to the hope that Sam was better off without him, without their father, and without any reminders of the life that had been forced upon him, even though it had killed Dean to do so.

Leaves fell. Clouds rolled. Dean pulled in a deep breath and decided that it was time to make the call, whatever Sam's response might be. Another wave of anxiety barrelled through him. He batted it away. He found Sam's number. He moved his finger to press the button that would connect him to his brother.

His phone burst to life, throwing music through the Impala's otherwise silent cabin.

Dean's heart thundered in his chest. His stomach threatened to leap into his throat. He held the phone away from him and blinked at the screen with disbelieving eyes.

Sam.

For the first time in two years, and when Dean needed him the most, Sam was calling him. It was uncanny. An impossible coincidence. Dean almost laughed aloud.

He punched the button to take the call, unable to will his voice over his lips for a moment. "Sammy?"

There was silence from the other end.

Dean's heart skipped a few beats. He swallowed hard. He was about to say Sam's name again when a foreign voice met his ear.

"Dean?"

It was female. She sounded young, but not a child. There was a slight tremor to her tone that gave Dean the impression that she was upset or scared. His trained ears picked her apart before she even said anything else.

"Why do you have my brother's phone?" Dean wasn't going to be pleasant until he knew why some stranger was calling from Sam's cell.

She hesitated a moment longer, seeming to search for words. "I…," she started, but her voice trailed off. She managed to pick it up again. "I'm sorry," she corrected, seeming to draw strength from somewhere. "I'm Jessica. I'm Sam's girlfriend. Are you Dean?"

Dean's mind was still snagged on the fact that his baby brother had a girlfriend. And here he was worrying that Sam was all alone, struggling to fit into the 'normal' world.

She didn't wait for him to reply. "Dean, I need your help," her voice began to waver again. "Something's happened."

Dean's mind cleared in an instant. Her tone sent unwelcome chills into his gut.

"Sam's missing," she continued, her voice cracking into a barely controlled sob. "He never came home last night, and I just have this terrible feeling. I've tried to report it but he hasn't been gone long enough for anyone to take me seriously."

Dean was struggling to keep up with her words.

No.

A thousand possibilities began to spin through his mind. His plan of action to find their father suddenly shattered. Sam was missing too? Dean didn't want to believe what this girl was saying, but her tone was too convincing to doubt.

The day became frighteningly dark.

Jessica must have continued speaking, but Dean didn't hear a word she said. His thoughts snapped back to attention when she stopped and said his name, troubled by his silence.

"Dean?" Her voice was shaking. "Dean, are you there? Please…"

"Yeah." Dean's voice was a rock, wedged somewhere below his ribs. He couldn't pull it out. He couldn't find his words. He wanted to ask whether she was sure Sam hadn't just wandered off somewhere, got lost on the way home; but he knew his brother too well and Sam would never make someone worry like this. Sam never got lost, and he never lost track of time.

"I don't know where you are," she said. "Sam said you move around quite a bit. I only have your number because he left his cell here by mistake. I…" She cleared her throat, but it didn't steady her voice much. "I don't really know what to do. I'm worried..."

Silence stretched between them. Dean didn't let it linger long. "I'm coming to you," he stated. Then, as if trying to quell his own fear, added, "I'm sure there's an explanation. I can be there in two hours but he might be back before then." But it was so unlike Sam to disappear without saying anything. And judging from Jessica's concern, she knew this as well. Dean tried to ignore the way his body shifted from hot to cold, and how clammy his palm was against the phone.

He didn't let her say anything else. "I'll be there as quickly as I can," he mumbled, and ended the call. Once again he snapped his phone shut and hurled it across the seat. It hit the passenger door and clattered to the floor as the Impala roared to life.

"Damn it!" He cursed, throwing the vehicle into gear and churning up mud and grass as he screamed out onto the road.

He'd barely been holding himself together since his father had disappeared. Now if Sam was missing too, his entire world would possibly come apart completely.


tbc