E/O Challenge Word:

eighteen /āˈtēn/ number – Equivalent to the product of two and nine; one more than seventeen, or eight more than ten; 18. Related: eighteen years old.

Spoilers/Warnings: spoilers for the pilot

Disclaimer: Not mine

Word Count: 251...a double-and-a-half drabble

It's been a long time since I came around. Been a long time, but I'm back in town. And this time, I'm not leaving without you. ~ Lady Gaga

Dean's fingers drummed rhythmically on the Impala's steering wheel though the radio was turned off; his nerves too much on edge to tolerate extra noise right now.

Because this was it.

He had driven all day and most of the evening to reach Palo Alto; had seen Sam and some blond-haired girl return to the apartment about an hour ago; had second-guessed this decision at least a hundred times since then.

Because this visit was different from his previous trips to California.

Dean wasn't here this time just to check on Sam from afar like he had so many times since the kid had left; wasn't here just to make sure his little brother was alive and safe, was healthy and happy.

Dean was here to deliver potentially bad news – Dad was missing, which implied that Dad might need them...which would undoubtedly be met with suspicion and hesitation from Sam.

It's not like father and youngest son had parted amicably.

Dean sighed, still vividly remembering that night; well aware that Sam was no longer the 18-year old kid he had been when he had left them; Sam had grown up.

Dean quirked a smile at the realization – strangely proud and sad at the same time – and opened the driver's side door, preparing to cross the street; hoping Sam would be happy to see him; hoping the kid hadn't grown up so much that he no longer needed his big brother; hoping Sam would recognize that his big brother still needed him.