Title: Drifting Without an Anchor

Author: MacGateFan

Rating: R (language)

Disclaimer: Standard one applies. Not mine except Sarah.

Summary: This fic takes place during season 2's In My Time of Dying (with some quotes from that) and branches off from there.


Prologue

Sarah woke up suddenly. Something wasn't right. She quickly got dressed and ran downstairs nearly knocking Pastor Jim Murphy over. "Easy there," he said, steadying the young woman. "What's the matter?"

"Something isn't right!" Sarah exclaimed, getting her things together. "I gotta go!"

Jim was confused. "What do you mean? Have you heard from your brothers?"

She shook her head. "Not for the last few days. I'm starting to get worried. Dean calls to check on me at least once a day."

"All right," Jim said, placing his hand on hers. Sarah stopped and looked up at him. He knew that if there was anyone she trusted as much as her family it was him and Caleb. "Have you tried calling him?"

"Not really..."

"Call first."

Sarah did so but only got their voicemail. As a last resort, she called John's cell, but again it was only voicemail. "Pastor Jim, please!" She pleaded.

Jim could never refuse Sarah. "All right, go ahead. I'll keep trying to call them while you head to their last known location. When I hear something I'll let you know!"

"Same here," she responded, giving him a kiss as he handed her his car keys.

Sarah had been driving almost 18 hours straight when her cell phone rang. i"Sarah."/i

"Sammy?" she asked. "Thank God! Where the hell have you guys been!"

"You need to get out to Sioux City now. It's bad, Sarah. Really bad."

Tears were in Sarah's eyes as she attempted to drive. Taking a deep breath she pulled over to contain her emotions. "Sammy, tell me what's going on, please!"

"The Demon found us and right now we're at the Sioux City General Hospital. Dean is still unconscious. We need you here!"

"I'm on my way, Sammy," she replied. She knew there was more to the story but for the moment, she was just going to sit and breath.

***********

Sarah arrived in record time and headed up to the floor John and Dean were on. Sam was sitting in the waiting room. He stood when he saw her and wrapped her in the biggest bear hug. "Whoa, take it easy there," Sarah choked out. "Need to breath."

"Sorry," he muttered.

"Sammy what happened?"

He took her by the hand and led her towards John's room as he explained the situation with Yellow Eyes. Sarah stopped and turned to face him, eyes blazing. "Are you fucking telling me that you three went after the demon without me? You couldn't even call me to tell me that Dad had been taken by his daughter! God damn it, Sam!"

"Hey, keep your voice down," Sam replied, pulling Sarah into an unoccupied room. "There was no time to wait for you! I can't help it if you wanted to take a few weeks off because of how tired you've been feeling lately. What do you want me to say?"

Sarah nodded, looking at the floor, as all fight dissipated. "I'm sorry. I guess I'm just worried. Are they going to be all right?"

"Dad should be waking up soon, but Dean... Sarah they said they're not sure he will."

"I wanna see them."

Sam gave her a gentle hug. "Lets go."

"Wait! Shit! Pastor Jim! I'd better tell him I got in touch with you. He didn't answer when I called him earlier so..." Sarah trailed off, noticing the look in Sam's eyes. "What?"

"Pastor Jim and Caleb are dead, Sarah. Meg killed them both."

***********

Sarah fell asleep next to Dean's bedside. When she woke up she saw Sam on the floor with an Oujia board. Rubbing her eyes, she got up and sat next to him. "What are you doing, Sammy?"

"Talking to Dean."

Her face paled. "Talking to... He's not..." she trailed off, glancing up at the machines and relieved to see them still registering his heartbeat.

"Of course not," Sam replied. "Dean is sitting across from us and he said a reaper's after him."

Sarah looked at the empty space where her brother should be. "If it's a reaper then there isn't much we can do is there?"

"We'll figure something out. Dad will know what to do about it."

***********

Sarah was grinning from ear to ear as she sat on the bed next to Dean and held his hand. "I still can't believe it, Dean," she exclaimed.

"He's done it again, hasn't he?" John asked, stepping into the room and a moment later he and Sam begin to fight. Sarah closed her eyes and felt Dean squeeze her hand in understanding. When she opened them John is more vulnerable than she's ever seen him. "Sammy, can we not do this?"

Sam is about to say something else, but Sarah fixed him with a glare. "Come on," she said, jumping off the bed. "Lets go get some caffeine for Dad."

John smiled gratefully at his daughter. She knew he wanted a moment alone with Dean. "You know, when you were a kid, I'd come home from a hunt, and after what I'd seen, I'd be, I'd be wrecked. And you, you'd come up to me and you, you'd put your hand on my shoulder and you'd look me in the eye and you'd... You'd say, 'It's okay, Dad', but I should have been saying that to you! Just make sure you look after Sammy and Sarah, all right?"

"You know I will, Dad. You're scaring me, what's going on?"

Suddenly John leaned over and whispered something in his ear. He stood tall as he left the room. As he passed Sarah in the hall, he smiled, giving her a kiss on the cheek and went to the room next door. With a shrug, Sarah went into Dean's room. "What was that all about?" she asked.

"Not a clue," Dean replied. He was not going to tell her what their Dad whispered to him. Not until he knew how to tell Sam about it.

Sam rushed into the room not even five minutes later looking extremely panicked as he disconnected Dean from all the machines. "Dude, what are you doing?" Dean asked.

"Dad," He gasped out and that's all the urging Dean and Sarah needed.

The three stood silently in the doorway of the room as they watched the doctors and nurses work furiously to save their dad. Dean's heart dropped into his stomach at the final words, "Time of death, 10:41 am."

End Prologue

************

The man sighed as he adjusted his ball cap. This had to be the most stressful week he ever had. He glanced over at Sam and Sarah Winchester. They had been working non-stop to locate their older brother with no luck. Bobby watched as Sarah frowned, a lone tear escaping. The death of John Winchester still weighed heavily on them after a month and the one person who kept them all together went AWOL.

"Bobby, he couldn't have gone that far off the grid," Sarah said, rubbing her temples.

Sam shook his head sadly. "This is Dean we re talking about and Dad taught him everything he knows about going into hiding."

Sam's worried voice broke Bobby from his thoughts. "Sarah, are you all right?"

"No," she gasped out. "My head is killing me!"

"Sam!"

The youngest Winchester caught Sarah before she dropped to the floor. He easily swept her into his arms and nodded to Bobby, who grabbed his car keys. After a few minutes they were all piled into the car. Bobby glanced at them through the rear view mirror as he started the car. He could hear Sarah saying something about Dean. As much as he hated what was going on, he couldn't help but be thankful that it might get Dean out of hiding.

Bobby arrived at the hospital in record time. He rushed inside to call for help and once Sam followed the doctors and nurses explaining to them Sarah's illness, he whipped the car around to find a parking spot and call Dean. Just as Bobby was about the slam the phone down, Dean picked up after the third ring.

"'lo?" A sleepy voice said.

That can't be good, Bobby thought. Dean had never been the type to sleep normal hours. "You need to get your ass back here, son, and do it fast."

"What? Bobby?"Dean asked, voice filled with worry. "It's Sarah isn't it?"

"Yeah. I don't know what's going on with you but she needs you here now so stop acting like an idjit and get to Harrison Memorial now!"

Bobby could hear rustling on the other end of the phone as Dean got his things together. "Be there in an hour," Dean replied.


When Sarah woke up she was very confused. Oh sure she was in a motel room and she'd been in many but the last thing she remembered was lying across the backseat of Bobby's car. Besides, before that she was at his house. Now she was in... Sarah's thoughts trailed off when she noticed the matches on the dresser. The Cally Motel. She remembered that motel like she was there yesterday. Her head snapped up at hearing an argument just outside the door. It sounded very much like Sam and John. But John was... dead.

Sarah moved to open the door but her hand past through the knob and she lost her balance, causing her to go through the door. She surprisingly didn't fall through the ground, but saw that Sam and John were indeed fighting and that she wasn't only next to them, but Dean as well, who was looking decidedly green as he listened to the two arguing. Sarah knew what day this was. This was the day Sam left for Stanford.

"You leave and you will never be welcomed back, Sam, do you understand?" John said angrily.

"I understand perfectly!" Sam replied, picking up his backpack and duffel bag. He moved away from John as the older man shook his head and jumped into his truck, driving away. Sam stopped directly in front of Dean, trying to gage whether or not his brother was going to be all right.

"Dean?"

Sarah remembered how pissed Dean had been despite the fact that he looked ready to puke all over Sam's shoes, but she never knew how he really felt. Not until that moment. All the confusion, anger, hurt. It was rushing through her and it was starting to scare her. She just knew they were Dean's emotions. How the hell were they transferring to her though? This made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Before Sarah could even contemplate what was happening, she heard her name being called and a familiar hand was holding hers. When she blinked her eyes open, she saw Sam staring at her, concern in his eyes. "I... What happened?" she asked.

"You passed out," Sam replied. He paused to take a deep breath. Sarah had been diagnosed with cancer a few years back and while it had been in remission, there was always the possibility it could crop up again. "The doctors are saying it was caused by the tumor."

Sarah blinked. "Are you saying...?"

He shook his head. "No. I mean, they haven't said anything like that."

"K."

"Are you all right, Sarah?" Sam asked. "You seem distracted. Bad dream maybe?"

Tears filled Sarah's eyes. "Horrible. It was a memory, actually. One I try not to remember too much. Have you heard from Dean?"

Sam knew when someone was changing the subject. He'd have to ask her about that later. "He's on his way. I think he was in Versailles, Indiana."

Instead of responding, Sarah's heart skipped a beat and she was feeling scared and confused. She didn't understand where the feelings were coming from because she was fine a moment earlier. "Sam, something isn't right," Sarah told him, clenching her eyes shut.

"Sarah?" he said as she cried out in pain. Sam hit the call button as Bobby came into the room with Dean. The two were politely, but firmly moved to the side by one of the nurses. Sam went over to them. "What's going on?" Bobby asked.

"I don't know. She was asking about Dean and then said something wasn't right," Sam replied, shaking his head. "I just don't know."


"You know, you fight and you fight for this family, but the truth is they don t need you. Not like you need them. Sam he s clearly John s favorite. Even when they fight, it s more concern than he s ever shown you. And Sarah! She's his little Princess, the one he dotes on and loves move than he ever loved you!"

Sarah could feel the pain and anguish Dean was feeling as the demon spoke those words through John's mouth. Tears poured down her cheeks as she begged her brother not to believe that bastard. He couldn't hear her, though. God, was this how Dean really felt? She just couldn't... no she didn't want to believe it.

The scene changed and she was back in Dean's hospital room after the crash...

"You know, when you were a kid, I'd come home from a hunt, and after what I'd seen, I'd be, I'd be wrecked. And you, you'd come up to me and you, you'd put your hand on my shoulder and you'd look me in the eye and you'd... You'd say "It's okay, Dad". Dean, I'm sorry."

"What?"

"You shouldn't have had to say that to me, I should have been saying that to you. You know, I put, I put too much on your shoulders, I made you grow up too fast. You took care of Sammy, Sarah, you took care of me. You did that, and you didn't complain, not once. I just want you to know that I am so proud of you."

"This really you talking?"

"Yeah. Yeah, it's really me."

"Why are you saying this stuff?"

"I want you to watch out for Sammy and Sarah, okay?"

"Yeah, dad, you know I will. You're scaring me."

"Don't be scared, Dean."

Sarah watched as John leaned over and whispered something into Dean's ear. That was about when Sarah arrived and John kissed her on the cheek. She could feel the relief, the confusion, the shock, every emotion pouring from her brother. It was almost overwhelming. What had John said to Dean to cause him to feel this way?

Instead of getting her answer, Sarah was regaining consciousness and she found herself back in the hospital room. Sam and Dean were on chairs on either side of the bed, both sleeping. Bobby was in another chair in the far corner reading a book. "Bobby?"

"Hey Sunshine," he said, with a smile. "It's good to see you awake."

Sarah accepted the cup of ice chips he handed her. "How long have I been out of it?"

"I'd say almost 35 hours."

"What?" she nearly screeched. Dean stirred and she lowered her voice. "What the hell is wrong with me?"

Bobby shrugged. "The Docs don't know. They thought it was the tumor but it's not affecting you in anyway as far as they can tell from your scans. You feeling any different?"

"Not really, I've just been having these odd dreams."

"About?"

"Well, they're more like memories really, but I'm just a bystander watching everything unfold and Dean's emotions are... Well, I'm feeling everything he did during those moments. I mean, I guess that's what I was feeling, it's not like he's an open book, ya know?"

Bobby chuckled. "Don't I know it!"

"Some people are trying to sleep here!" Dean said, sitting up. "Heya, Sar! Great job on scaring the shit out of me!"

"Someone had to," she replied, feeling relieved and as happy as... Dean? She glanced over at Bobby, who seemed to notice it too.

Bobby stepped over next to Dean and, without warning, stomped on his foot. "Ow!" Dean exclaimed, shoving him away. "What the hell was that for?"

Sarah felt the annoyance and anger one felt when getting their foot stepped on. "Calm down a minute, Dean!" she said.

"What? He stepped on my foot. On purpose I might add!"

"Because I told him to!"

Dean shared a confused look with Sam, who just woke because of all the commotion. "Okay, so why would you tell him to do that?"

"It was an experiment." Sarah paused a moment as if considering her next words carefully. "Dean, what did Dad say to you before he died?"

Dean said nothing but for Sarah, he didn't have to. She could feel how scared, confused, and uncertain he was. Whatever John Winchester said to him, it couldn't have been good. "He didn't say anything to me," Dean replied. "I need some caffeine."

"That didn't go over well," Sarah muttered as Dean left the room.

"What the hell was that all about?" Sam wanted to know.

Sarah bit her lip and looked over at Bobby, then back at Sam. "I think I'm starting to feel empathetic towards people. I mean for you I have to really concentrate, but for Dean... I don't know I guess he has so much emotion bottled up that it's spilling into me. I just dreamed memories where I could feel everything he was feeling at those times in his life."

"We think that's what's causing the headaches," Bobby added. "Most likely that's why the Doc's here can't figure out what's going on. They don't understand that it can't be the tumor."

Sam shook his head. "This is crazy."

"And what we do for a living isn't?" Sarah asked. "I have no other reason for these emotions to be in me right now. Dean is feeling very vulnerable, probably because of what Dad did for him. I just can't ignore that especially since I understand now."

"What are you planning on doing then?" Sam wanted to know, almost afraid of her answer.

Sarah pressed the call button as she replied, "I'm checking out of this joint! There's no point in me staying here if nothing physically is wrong with me."

"You're gonna have to control what's happening to you, Sarah," Bobby said. "We can't have you passing out every two minutes when Dean decides to bottle up emotions. You wouldn't be conscious for very long!"

"I know that, Bobby, but what choice do we have here?"

Before he could answer a nurse entered the room. "Did you need something, honey?" she asked.

"I'd like to talk to the doctor about leaving."

"You are far too sick to do that," she replied.

Sarah crossed her arms. "I think I can be the judge of that."

The nurse glanced over at Bobby and Sam and went out the door to find the doctor, muttering about patients who suddenly seem to have obtained a doctorate overnight.

**********

Dean stood outside completely confused. How the hell was Sarah able to tell what he was feeling? Most of the time, he didn't know what he was feeling! Dean wasn't ready to tell her what their dad told him because he was still trying to process it. That was a helluva bombshell to drop on someone before dying.

He looked up when he saw Bobby and Sam coming towards him, Sarah following behind them. What the hell was she doing outside? He saw Sarah's own expression change and then she reached up to grab her head. "Sam!" Dean exclaimed, rushing past his brother.

"Dean," Sarah gasped out as he went over to hold her steady. "I'm all right, I just gotta learn how to control this."

"Control it? Sar, we can't control when we get sick, it just happens. We just can't let it the best of us."

She shook her head, attempting to navigate the worry, confusion, and anger (towards Sam and Bobby for allowing her to check out of the hospital, no doubt). "No, you don't get it. I'm... I'm empathetic at the moment. To you anyway cause you really don't know how to channel your feelings unless you're hunting something."

"What?" he asked as Sam came up behind him. Dean stood up, backing away from her. Excellent, he couldn't be around his sister because his emotions were causing her pain. "I'm sorry..."

Sarah winced when Dean's fears hit her like a Mack truck. "You're not going to be alone, Dean," she said, eyes heavy lidded. "We'll figure this out, I promise. Just like everything else, okay?"

Bobby and Sam helped Sarah to her feet, but Dean remained where he was. He couldn't be around her, not until either he figured out a way to control his feelings or she figured out how to block them. "Sammy," he said, running after them. "Give me a few days, huh?"

"Dean..."

"Sam, please! I gotta..." Dean had never felt so helpless as he stared at Sarah. "Please."

Exchanging a glance with the older hunter, Sam finally nodded. "Three days Dean, tops, or I'm sending Sarah after you to kick your ass."

"I'll be there!"

***********

Dean was pacing in his motel room. He decided to stay the next town over because he wasn't sure on the range of his emotions. He guessed everything was all right because it had been 15 hours and he hadn't heard anything from Sam saying there was a problem. With a sigh, Dean yawned, throwing back the covers on his bed.

Maybe he should try to get some sleep. That would probably help him clear his head, if that was even possible. Dean laid down and was asleep just as his head hit the pillow. In his dream, Dean met the one person he least expected. Mary Winchester stood before him looking very much alive. At first Dean thought maybe he was dead too, but that couldn't be. The last thing he remembered was falling asleep.

"Dean," Mary said, in that voice he remembered so well, but yet almost forgot. The tenderness in which she said his name, the love. Dean missed it tremendously.

He wasn't sure what to do or say for that matter. "I..." Mary held out her arms so Dean rushed into them, savoring her touch. "Mom... you feel so real. What's..."

"You're not dead, Dean," She replied, kissing his cheek. "Honey, you're just dreaming and I've come here to tell you how much I love you. How much your father loved you."

Dean looked down at the ground, not so certain. "Mom, he's dead because of me."

"I know, but listen to me. John Winchester would not do that for just anyone. The person he would die for would have be worthy, would have to be his flesh and blood. He loved you, Dean, he still does. All of us do and that includes everyone still with you physically."

Dean finally lifted his head to look at her. "But he's in Hell, Mom."

"That doesn't make his sacrifice more or less important. He did this for his children. You're the one who has always held our family together. You, Dean and your father knew that despite how much he wanted to believe it was him."

He nodded. "And Sammy? Dad told me I might have to kill him."

"As much as I hate that, you do remember what else your father said, don't you? He said only if you couldn't save him! I believe in you, Dean. I know you'll save him. Sam couldn't be any safer than he is when he's with you. With his family."

Mary gave Dean another hug and kiss, then placed a hand on his face. "Baby, know that I love you and always will. Sammy and Sarah too. You need to go back to them now. Help Sarah to control her empathy. Without you to learn from one another, it could cause her to go insane."

"What?" Dean asked, eyes wide. "I didn't..."

Mary smiled. "Just go, Dean. They're waiting for you."

"I love you, mom!"

Dean woke up with a start and feeling decidedly cold in the dreary motel room all alone. It was time to go home to his family.

**********

"You suck!"

"May I remind you, dear brother, that you wanted to play Scrabble," Sarah replied as she counted her points. "I can't help that that word was worth 25 points!"

Sam glared at her. "You cheated! That isn't even a real word!"

"Just because you went to college doesn't make you smart, Sammy."

"She's right about that."

The pair turned to see Dean standing the doorway, grinning. He seemed pretty content for the most part. Sarah studied him for a moment, but then realized that unless she concentrated, she couldn't feel his emotions. With a squee, Sarah jumped from the chair and rushed over to Dean, nearly barreling him over.

"Damn, Sar!" he replied with a laugh, returning her hug. "Good to see you too!"

"What's go you so damn chipper?" Bobby asked coming into room with bottles of beer for everyone.

Dean accepted it and took a good drink of it before answering. "Lets just say I got some good advice from one of the best women in my life."

Sam and Sarah exchanged glances. "Well, I know it wasn't me, and the only other woman..."

"Real woman, Sarah," Sam added, earning the finger from Dean.

"Real woman," Sarah repeated, "is mom."

He nodded, smiling. "I dreamed her last night. She made me realize that I'm not alone here and that maybe, just maybe, I might be worthy enough to be saved."

Sarah gave Dean a hug. "No maybes about it, Dean!

"Yeah," Sam replied. "We think you're pretty worth it, but if you tell anyone we said so, we'll probably just deny it."