Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural.

A/N: Since I can't seem to have only one story in progress, here's the start to another new story. Sam runs to Flagstaff, and keeps running. I hope you enjoy it! Since this is more of a prologue, future chapters will likely be longer.

When Dean goes out to hustle the locals at whatever sleazy bar he finds, Sam puts his plan into motion. For the first time in a long time, he hopes that Dean finds a girl at the bar with too-bright lipstick and overpowering perfume to occupy him for the night. It'd give Sam more time.

He hauls his duffel bag out from its place under his bed and pulls its strap over his shoulder. He barely unpacked. He didn't want to waste his time packing back up.

Every second counts.

This is it. This is the moment for which he's spent a year planning. The moment he finally escapes a lifestyle that's held him captive for sixteen years.

He pauses at the door. All of his belongings fit in a bag and he has the only pair of sneakers he owns on his feet, beat up and ready to fall apart at any step. He has the only jacket he owns on, the worn down fabric not doing much to protect him from the cold anymore.

Should he leave a note?

He looks at the rickety table in the kitchen. It feels strange to have a real kitchen, but his dad thought that the hunt was going to be a long one and found a cheap apartment with a landlord who let them lease it month to month.

The fact that the hunt is a long one works in his favor as well. The farther out his dad is, the longer it will take him to get back when Dean inevitably calls about Sam's absence.

A note won't do anything, he decides. No matter what he writes, it won't stop Dean from trying to track him. It won't offer any semblance of closure.

He opens the door, steps outside, and shuts it behind him. He shuts it on the life he used to have and steps forward in search of a new future. There's a Greyhound station not far from where he is, and he starts his journey by heading in its direction.

He has enough money for the Greyhound ticket, and enough to survive for a few weeks after he arrives at his destination. It won't be ideal and he won't be living in luxury, but he's been saving from tutoring and odd jobs that he played off as study groups and meetings for group projects.

There's a moment when he's waiting for his bus that he reconsiders his decision. He questions what the hell he's thinking and why he's running away in the first place. When he thinks about returning and having to face his father and wait for another argument to break out, he realizes that he's more afraid of that future than a future full of unknowns on his own.

He steels himself, and when his bus starts boarding, he gets on without thinking about the things he's leaving behind. He thinks about the future. He thinks about a life where he gets to choose the direction he goes. He thinks about a life with a white picket fence, a college degree, and a wife with whom he can see himself growing old.

He sits next to an older man with grey hair and a kindly face. He wears a sweater and round glasses, and Sam imagines that he's what a grandfather would look like if he ever had one.

The man gives him a pleasant smile, then turns and spends his time watching the landscape pass by through the window.

Sam settles in his seat for a long ride.

First stop: Flagstaff.

Dean kills the Impala's engine, gets out, and stretches his arms over his head. There's a nice wad of cash in his pocket, and he thinks that he might be able to spare enough to take Sam out to eat something that doesn't come in a grease stained paper bag.

It's a good day. The best part was the frisky blonde who loved a man in a leather jacket, and he's sure that his smile and natural charm sealed the deal. Now, he's ready to go out and have a late supper with Sam.

He opens the door to their current temporary home, and calls Sam's name.

"Sammy! You hungry?"

Silence is his only answer, and he moves farther into the apartment. "Sammy? You here?"

And again, there's no answer. No hint of Sam's presence.

That's when Dean's mind starts going through worst case scenarios. What if something got Sam while he was gone? What if something happened and Sam has been taken by surprise or overpowered? He's still small for his age, and scrawny. And, yeah, he can hold his own for the most part, but he's more vulnerable at the same time.

"Sam, answer me if you're here. This isn't funny," Dean says.

Sam isn't the type to hide for no reason, and the bedroom is empty, so it isn't like he's sulking in there. Dean doesn't remember Sam saying anything about a group project or hanging out with friends. He doesn't remember Sam having any reason not to be there.

There's no note saying that he's gone out, and Dean is left to scour the apartment for any hints as to what happened to Sam.

It wasn't a break-in, the door was locked and intact when Dean arrived. The windows are all closed and locked as well, not a scratch or a crack on them.

There's no blood or sulfur. No hint that anything supernatural has set foot in that apartment.

Dean is seconds away from hyperventilating, trying to find what he's overlooked. Trying to find anything. Sam might need him at that very second. Sam might be dying.

He could already be dead.

No, no, no, no, no. Sam can't be dead. He can't die on Dean's watch. His dad would never forgive him.

He would never forgive himself.

He checks the bedroom again, tearing the blankets and sheets from Sam's bed, then drops to the ground to look beneath it.

He finds nothing.

He finds nothing.

Sam's stuff is gone. He wasn't taken. He's left of his own accord.

Dean flips onto his back and stares up at the ceiling, unable to comprehend the situation. Sam left. Sam ran away. Sam made a decision and knowingly left his own family.

Why? Are things that bad that he feels like he has to escape? Does he hate hunting that much? Does he hate them that much?

How could Dean have missed him getting ready to leave? This can't be a spontaneous decision, Sam's too smart for that. He's too careful.

Sam planned on leaving right under their noses, and Dean never noticed. Then again, it dawns on Dean that he hasn't really paid much attention to Sam recently. He's old enough to survive on his own, and Dean takes advantage of that to go to bars and hook up with women.

He should've spent more time with Sam, tried to figure out why he's so sullen all the time. He should've figured out how to make Sam's life a little easier. A little better.

This failure is on him.

He digs his phone out of his pocket, the wad of cash he earned from hustling more of a painful reminder of his negligence than it is a prize. While he waits for his dad to pick up, he holds his breath.

"What is it, Dean?"

"Sam's gone, Dad," Dean says. "He left."

"So, go get him."

"No, Dad. He's gone. His stuff is gone. He ran away."

"So, go get him," John repeats.

John hangs up on him, and Dean doesn't know where he's supposed to even start searching for Sam. How long has he been gone? Which way did he go? How is he getting to his destination?

Where is his destination?

He pulls himself to his feet and makes his way back to the Impala, readying for a long night of searching for anything.

Sam knows where he's going.

It's Dean who's lost.

A/N: Please leave a review and let me know if this is worth continuing!