December 17, 1987, Flagstaff, Arizona
It all started one evening late at night when John came home bleeding from a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
"Dean! Grab the first aid kit!" John yelled as he stepped in the front door of the usual crappy motel they were staying in.
Meanwhile, 4-year-old Sam Winchester was wrapped in his big brother's arms, asleep. The second John stormed in the house, Sam startled awake and ventured into the kitchen to see what was going on, right on 8-year-old Dean's tail. When they stepped into the kitchen, Dean suddenly took off, on his way to the first aid kit.
As Dean came racing back, he immediately went to work on digging the bullet out and stitching it up.
"Okay, all done," says Dean, handing over the bottle of ibuprofen to his father.
"Thanks Dean," replies John, popping four pills into his mouth.
The next morning
When Sam woke up, the first thing he heard was the sound of Dean arguing with his father. As he thought about how rare that was, he quietly made his way into the living room, his tiny feet padding across the floor.
"It's not fair!" yelled Dean.
"Life isn't fair son!" yelled John, right back.
"Why can't I go? It's just one birthday party!" Dean questions, defeated.
"We have a responsibility, Ace. Saving people, hunting things, the family business," John tells Dean, calming down considerably.
"Dad?" Sam whispers in his still squeaky voice.
"Yes, Sam?" John asks, slightly irritated, being done with this conversation a long time ago.
"What if I don't want to be a part of the family business?" asks Sam, hesitantly.
"Sam, you don't have a choice. This is what you are meant to do, accept it," says John, as he gets up to research any other hunts in the area.
Later that afternoon
"Okay boys, I'm heading out, I'll be back in about 2 weeks, remember to salt the doors and windows, lock everything up, and don't leave the room unless it is an emergency, got it," John demanded.
"Yes, dad, we understand," replies Dean, still bummed about the birthday party.
As John left, Dean followed all his instructions as usual, and then let Sammy eat the last of the Lucky Charms before putting him to bed, then as he got ready for bed, he put the TV on, and within minutes, he was sound asleep alongside his baby brother.
In the morning
Dean slowly opened his eyes and stretched, just beginning to wake up, and with a quick glance over at the clock on the nightstand, he realized it was still only 4:30 in the morning. Turning back over again, he went to pull Sammy in closer to him when he realized that Sam was no longer in the bed with him. As his heart starting beating faster, he jumped out of bed and began searching the entire motel room for any sign of Sammy, but not finding anything, he threw on his shoes and ran outside, calling Sam's name. Three hours later, when he finally came to the realization that Sam was gone, he called his father, crying hysterically.
"Hello," John gruff voice came through.
"Dad! Sammy's missing! He was right there next to me, then I woke up, and he was just gone, and I searched everywhere Dad I swear, but he's gone and Dad I'm freaking out you need to come home now!" yelled Dean into the phone, all his words slurring together, making it impossible for John to understand him.
"Woah, Dean! Calm down, son," John replies, soothingly.
"Tell me what happened," he says again, softly.
"I was putting Sammy to bed, and when he was finally asleep, I put my pajamas on, I went and brushed my teeth, and I laid down right beside him and that's how I fell asleep. But then I woke up at 4:30 and that's when I realized he was gone, so I started searching everywhere, but Dad, he's gone," cries Dean, sobbing at this point.
"Okay, Dean, I need you to listen very carefully and do exactly what I say, okay, Ace," asks John, already getting back in the Impala to race back to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he left his boys.
"Yeah, okay Dad, what do you need?" Dean replies obediently, eager to help find Sam.
"Okay, I need you to check the salt lines, see if they are broken anywhere, then you need to lock all the doors, sit on the bed, and watch TV until I get home, then we will look around town, see if Sammy didn't just wander off scared, okay Dean?" John orders.
"Yes sir," replies Dean.
"Okay, I'll be home in about 2 hours, and Dean, I promise we will find Sam," John says, right before hanging up the phone.
Sighing, Dean follows his father's orders and sits on the bed, waiting, and then starts sobbing all over again, just at the thought of his little brother being somewhere out there, scared, alone, and maybe even hurt.
"I will find you Sammy, I promise, even if it's the last thing I do," Dean whispered to himself, just as he drifted off to sleep again.
The next day
John walked into the motel room as quietly as possible as to not wake Dean up. He saw him asleep on the bed and smiled as he put his bags down. He saw the tear tracks on Dean's face and went to wake him up.
"Dean, son, wake up," he whispered.
As Dean shifted in his sleep, John shook him a little more, and he finally woke up.
"Dad?" Dean asked, his voice still thick with sleep.
"Yeah bud, it's me. Listen, we'll find Sammy, okay?" John tells him, putting his hands on Dean's shoulders and looking him in the eye.
Dean nodded. "But Dad, he was lying right next to me, how did I not notice someone take him? Oh god, it's all my fault," Dean mumbled.
"No, Dean, this is not your fault, okay. There was nothing you could have done," John reassures him before telling him to get dressed so they could go out and look for him.
Once they were in the Impala, they drove around for hours, and, after 5 hours had passed and they had searched the entire city, they headed back to the motel in defeat.
By the time they reached the motel, they were both exhausted and extremely worried. They both came to the same conclusion.
Sammy was gone.