New Orleans, October 2005

Dean swallowed around a gigantic lump in his throat as he cleaned the barrel of his favorite shotgun, occasionally glancing at his cell phone sitting on the nightstand. John should have called him weeks ago, if only to let Dean know he was alive, but Dean's phone had remained silent. When Sammy had left, Dean knew things would be different, but he hadn't realized they'd be this different. John had only stuck around for a few weeks before sending Dean out on a hunt. By himself. Alone. And while Dean would never classify himself as needy, he hated being alone.

But he went anyway, expecting solo hunts to be a rarity. He was wrong. Dean could count on one hand the number of hunts he and John had gone on together over the past four years. It had hurt like hell when Sam had left, but it almost hurt more to know that John had only stuck around because of Sam. Sam had left, John had left, at this point Dean half expected the Impala to just drive away by herself.

Part of Dean knew he was being whiny, but it'd been three weeks since he'd heard from John and his patience was wearing thin. But the phone didn't ring and Dean finally turned on the TV, succumbing to sleep while watching reruns of MacGyver.

Dean woke up the following morning, immediately reaching for his phone and checking his messages, not really surprised to find that John hadn't called overnight. Dean felt a surge of anger flow through him followed shortly by panic. What if John had a good reason for not calling? What if he was hurt? What if he was…Dean didn't allow himself to finish that thought. Instead he stood up and began haphazardly shoving clothes into his duffel bag.

Throwing everything into the Impala, Dean immediately headed for the highway, not even bothering to grab breakfast first. He knew where John's last hunt had been: Jericho, California. He pointed the car west and floored it, silently reassuring himself that John was fine.

Dean had intended to drive straight to Jericho. But his stomach eventually let him know that a nonstop trip wouldn't be possible. Dean had pulled over at a bar, it being the only place he had seen for hours. The inside was dark, smoky, and the music was deafening. Dean ate his burger as fast as possible, rushing back out to the car without so much as a glance at the curvy blonde who'd been flirting with him.

He checked his phone and let out a sigh of relief when he saw that John had called him. He played the voicemail and frowned. This wasn't exactly the kind of message he'd been hoping for. Even though hearing that John was alive and well reassured him, Dean still felt uneasy about the content of the message. Danger was nothing new for the Winchesters, so it must have been something bad for John to feel like he had to warn Dean about it. Did that mean John was in danger? Dean didn't know, but as soon as he had unscrambled the EVP, he'd hit the highway again.

Palo Alto

Dean took another look at the darkened apartment building across the street from where he'd parked the Impala. He had no idea what the hell he was doing there. When he drove out of that bar parking lot, his destination had been Jericho. Somewhere along the way, though, he'd started veering towards Palo Alto until he found himself in his current position, hovering outside Sam's apartment.

It wasn't like this was the first time Dean had been here. He'd come by with John and by himself regularly over the years to make sure Sam was healthy and happy. And every time he saw Sam again he felt the familiar pang in his chest that came from his brother's absence.

Dean had been sitting out in the car for a good half hour, trying to work up the courage to knock on Sam's front door. He felt like an idiot for being this apprehensive, but he really didn't know how Sammy'd react to seeing him at his apartment. Sam would want to know why he was there, but John pulling a disappearing act wouldn't be anything new. Dean could probably find John himself, so even he didn't know why he was here. Except maybe that ever since Sam had walked out, Dean had been looking for an excuse to bring him back.

He finally pulled himself out of the car and made his way across the street. He started to move towards the front door, then decided against it. After all, Sam couldn't slam the door in his face if Dean didn't come to the door. Walking to a window, Dean undid the latch with his knife. The window opened noiselessly and Dean pulled himself into the apartment.

A/N: I originally intended this to be a single chapter, but I kept writing so this is just the beginning. I'm thinking of expanding on the theme for other scenes in the Pilot. Also, my Beta is unreachable now and will be for some time, so please take all mistakes with a grain of salt and let me know what you think in a review.