Sam was gone.
John was hunting some spirit, meanwhile Dean and Sam were saying in a motel in Flagstaff.
Except Sam was gone.
Sam, at 11, was becoming quite a handful. He was arguing more and more, and not just with John anymore. He hated hunting, and he hated what he was missing because of it. Dean couldn't help but agree with Sam, but at the same time, he knew that their mission was important. They had to find it, and they had to kill it. They owed it to Mary.
Sam was also starting to demand his own space, and his own privacy. He never used to mind moving around, and sharing rooms and beds with Dean. Now, Dean spent most nights on the couch just to appease him.
Dean knew that Sam was only being moody because he was growing up. He was almost a teenager, and that's just how kids act. That's how they're supposed to act.
He knew how Sam felt about hunting and about this life, but he never actually thought that he would just pack up and leave.
The night before Sam was acting strangely calm. In fact, now that he thought about it, Sam had been surprisingly quiet lately. He hadn't argued with Dad before he left on the hunt, almost like he wanted him to go. And he hadn't been any trouble to Dean for the week before he disappeared.
He had been planning this.
Dean woke up to an empty apartment. At first he thought maybe Sam had just gone on a walk. He was that kind of kid. The kind that went on walks first thing in the morning. But then he realized all his stuff was gone. All his clothes (and some of Dean's. They shared a lot, and sometimes it was hard to tell whose was whose) were taken out of the drawers, and his laptop, which he got for his 11th birthday was gone as well. No, it was very clear what had happened. Sam had run away.
Dean looked everywhere. He took the car all over town, anywhere he thought Sam might have gone. He tracked down all of Sam's friends, to see if he went to stay with them. But Sam was no where to be found, and Dean knew he was fucked.
He knew what he had to do. He had to call his dad. But before he could bring himself to do that, there was one more person he could try.
"Dean? Hey there, kid. What's wrong? Are you okay?"
Dean swallowed hard. "No, Bobby, I'm not. It's Sammy, he... he's gone."
Bobby was silent on the other line for a moment, and Dean thought maybe he hung up. "He's gone? Like, gone gone?"
"Like, he packed up all his stuff and left in the middle of the night!" Dean's whole body was shaking with worry. Maybe the kid had taken off on his own, but who knows what may have happened to him once he left.
"It's okay, Dean. The important thing is to stay calm. This isn't your fault. Now, where's John?"
"I don't know. He's on a hunt. I... I haven't told him yet." Dean answered. "I was h-hoping maybe he called you or something. Maybe he needed your help or something?"
Bobby sighed. "No, I'm sorry, Dean. You know I would've called you right away if I heard something like that from Sam. Now, you need to go call John, and tell him what happened. You be honest with him, now. He needs all the information he can get to find him." Dean nodded, not remembering that Bobby couldn't see him. "It's okay, Dean. Like I said, this isn't your fault. You'll find him. Now, I'll do what I can from here. I'll call some other hunters and see if they know anything, or if they've seen him. Okay?"
"Okay. Thank you, Bobby. I appreciate it."
"Anytime, Dean. You can always call me."
After his call with Bobby, Dean knew it was inevitable. His dad was going to be pissed, but he needed his help to find him.
"This is John."
Dean's heart skipped a beat, and he had to take a deep breath before answering. "Dad? It's Dean."
"Dean, what the hell are you calling me for? You know I'm on a hunt right now." John's voice was already aggravated. From what Dean could tell, the hunt wasn't going well. But it was about to get a lot worse.
"Dad, it's Sam. He... he's gone, sir."
"What the hell do you mean, gone?"
"He, uh... I don't know, he's just... gone. He was here last night and then this morning-"
"I'm coming home. I'll be there in two hours." John hung up. Dean slammed the phone down on the receiver. He had two hours to figure out what to say.
In an hour and a half, he heard his dad's truck pull up to the room. Dean's heart sank at the sound.
As soon as he opened the door, John was already saying, "Where the hell is Sam, Dean?"
Dean stood from the table he had been sitting at. He didn't really manage to think of anything more to say in the time since the phone call. "He took off, Dad. He packed up his bags and left. I looked everywhere for him! All over town, and all his friends houses, and-"
In just two long strides John was right in front of him. His hand raised and came down hard on his face. "What the fuck is the matter with you, Dean? How could you let him do that?" There was no time to answer before John had him by the collar of his jacket. "He's only eleven! He's just a kid! How is he supposed to fend for himself out there, huh?" Another hit.
"I'm sorry, sir! I had no idea-"
Dean felt himself being shoved into the wall. He felt the back of his head hit the wall, hard, and John's hands still wrapped around his jacket. "You're sorry? That's all you ever are, Dean! You're sorry! When are you ever going to learn?" John spat, tightening his grip on Dean. "Sorry isn't gonna do shit for Sam when he's dead!" A punch landed in his gut, and he tried to double over but couldn't. "Now I had to drag my ass home from a hunt to find the damn kid! Who knows how many more innocent people are going to be hurt or killed by that spirit, because I had to run home to clean up your mess!"
John threw him backwards, and Dean collided with the table. He fell down onto the cold tile, and stayed down. He could feel the blood on his face, and he hurt all over. He heard his dad walk over to him. He felt a kick to his side, followed by John's voice saying, "Get up, Dean. We're going to find your brother."
Dean struggled to stand up, and when he did, his dad was already at the door. "You take the Impala, I'm taking the truck. Now hurry up, and let's find this kid before he goes and get himself killed."
It took two whole weeks to find Sam, and they were torture. John barely spoke to him, and when he did it usually involved more yelling and violence. When they finally found Sam, Dean was relieved for all sorts of reasons.
Apparently, Sam had hitchhiked his way two towns over, and was squatting in an abandoned house.
The drive back home was... awkward, to say the least.
"You know what's out there, Sam! How could you be stupid enough to think you could make it out there all alone?"
"I know what I was doing, Dad! I can take care of myself!"
"You're eleven years old, Sam! Your brother's done everything for you since you were six months! What the hell were you thinking?"
They yelled back and forth for the whole drive, and Dean just sat quietly in the backseat.
When they finally got back, Sam was grounded "forever", to which he replied, "Fine! I don't fucking care anymore!"
"It's about damn time we find the kid," John growled, packing up his weapons. "I have a hunt to finish. I'll be back in a day or two." And then he was gone.
After John left, Dean went to check on Sam. He was so happy to see the kid alive, even if Sam was less than happy about seeing the two of them.
Sam was curled up on the bed farthest from the door. As soon as his Dad had left he tucked his chin down and started to cry.
Dean sat down on the bed beside him and stroked his back. "It's okay, Sammy. Don't cry."
Sam shook him off. "It's Sam." Sam had recently shed his old nickname, and only wanted to be called Sam for now on. Dean, of course, had ignored this.
"Oh, right, sorry, Sam." Dean smiled. "I forgot. You're too cool for Sammy, now." Sam rolled his eyes, sitting up next to him. "I know this isn't the life you wanted Sammy- Sam. I know you just want to be normal, but sometimes you just have to play with the cards you're dealt, you know?"
Sam sighed, leaning his head on Dean. "I know. I just hate it here. And I hate Dad for making me go bow hunting instead of playing soccer, and for moving us around all the time." Sam scoffed, "You're the only good thing about all of this, and even you're annoying as hell." Sam laughed and Dean grinned.
"Pssh, whatever, bitch." Dean went to mess up Sam's floppy hair, making Sam jump backwards and swat at his hand.
"Jerk!" Sam laughed again, and then suddenly stopped. "Dean, what happened to your face?" He scooted closer to Dean and brushed his fingers gently over a bruise forming on his jaw.
Dean swatted him away. "Ow, stop it, Sammy. It's nothing. What happened to your face?" Sam raised his eyebrows and Dean grinned. "Oh, right, I forgot. It's always looked that way."
"Oh my God, Dean. Shut up!"
Dean was so glad Sam was back home and safe. His little stunt caused him the worst two weeks of his life, but Dean couldn't really blame him.
He wished he could run away, too.