Disclaimer: I do not yet own these perfect specimins of Hottie McHothood...yet...

Sorry it's been so unbearably long since last chapter! I swear, school just gets harder and harder... Maybe I'll run away and become a hermit in the woods...that way I can have all the free time I want in order to stalk Jensen and Jared...YES! And PS...this is the last chappie... SOB SOB SOB CRY CRY It's ok, you'll get over it : ) ENJOY!

Chapter Eight: Letting Someone In

Everything around him was growing darker and less clear. The glass walls of the small cubicle made the rest of the warehouse look even less welcoming. He wished he were able to make out Dean in the shadows somewhere outside his small prison, but his thoughts were now too muddled for him to gather any solid ideas. He leaned his head back against the cold glass and drew in a long, unsteady breath that seemed extremely reluctant to enter his lungs.

Sam felt a chilly bead of sweat roll down his temple. He wanted to reach up and wipe it away, but he suddenly found—with a wave of nausea—that his arms were far too weighted for him to lift them from his sides. His leg muscles began to tremble, even though he wasn't using them in any way. He felt the alarmingly slow pulse in his chest.

Dean, he thought blearily. We always knew it was dangerous.

His heart thudded. Breath entered his lungs like heavy, molten liquid. His fingers curled into fists and the nails bit the hardened skin of his palms.

I never meant to get sick like this, Dean. Ha ha ha, that's sure as Hell. Of course I didn't. Maybe if I was crazy… or diseased, or something… Sam felt a pang of amusement, despite his condition, at the random wandering of his mind. That's right, Sam, you just keep on thinking. Keep on thinking. I wonder why that girl is here, anyway? If I was her, I'd do anything to stay away from people that have angry spirits living in their bodies as parasites. That's right, buddy—Sam groggily addressed the parasite itself—all you are is any angry spirit. Hell, I'd be mad, too, if some mad scientist made me into a flaming parasite…

The strangest sensation Sam had ever experienced suddenly gripped his body. It was as though his back muscles were rippling… waves of movement were coursing down his spine of their own accord. Sam tried to gasp, overwhelmed with surprised fear, but at that point, the sleeping chemical fully overtook his brain. He was vaguely aware of sliding sideways, eyes closed… His bare shoulders slumped… He was unconscious before his body hit the cement floor.

From where Dean sat in the darkness of the warehouse corner, his heart was beating at least three hundred times more quickly than his brother's. His eyes were wide, unblinking—he stared across the room at the glass cubicle. He had tried to put his brain on auto drive for a few moments, so he wouldn't have to think at all, but it was impossible. He couldn't stop thinking.

This is all my fault. Is it? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't—we were both nervous—but why did it have to be Sammy? I would gladly have been the one to get this shit. I can't choose, though, that's not for us to decide, but even so, it should have been me, not Sam, I'm the one that brought him into this job in the first place, I'M the one that deserves this—he's so—honest, and I'm just a… Dean involuntarily expelled a huge breath of air as he buried his face in his hands. He could handle burning the bodies of so many angry spirits… He could handle dealing with perilous entities when there was almost no hope… He could handle anything. But not this.

A hand touched his shoulder. Dean flinched and looked up into the face of Roger Gavin, whom he hadn't seen throughout this entire ordeal.

Roger looked worn and haggard. "Don't lose hope, Dean."

Dean didn't answer. He glanced back at the cubicle and Sam, who was now lying sprawled across the cement floor. His eyes were closed and his lips moved aimlessly as he muttered from his subconscious.

Roger tried again. "I want you to know that my brother is doing what he thinks will work the best."

Dean snorted. "Yeah, and I'm sure that's exactly what he was doing when he decided to make this goddamn bastard."

"I know he was wrong. He knows he was wrong, too. But you, of all people, should know you can't turn back time. If you keep focusing on what's already happened, instead of what's happening right now and who's on your side, you can't really be here for Sam."

Dean got to his feet. "Don't patronize me, Gavin. Do not patronize me. I've seen things you would never believe. I've been through things you can't even imagine. If anyone knows what to focus on in a position like this, it's me."

Gavin wasn't put off. "Since I met you… You've had this tough, outer shell, Dean. You don't want to let anybody in to see who you really are. You care so much about maintaining this image of hard ass—of 'I-know-everything-you-know-nothing-so-get-the-fuck-off-my-ass'. Can't you see who's on your side? Don't you know we're trying to help you?"

"Are you a psychiatrist? Thank you, doctor, but I think I'm the only one who can analyze what's happening in my head."

"It'll stay that way until you let somebody else in."

Dean paused. He looked back at Sam and felt hotness in the back of his eyes. He swallowed around a painful lump in his throat. "I have let someone in. He just doesn't know it yet."

"I think he knows," Gavin said softly.

Dean met the older man's eyes, and for the first time in his life, felt grateful for having someone older and more experienced at his side. He didn't understand it—and he would never admit it—but he knew Gavin had risked a lot in order to get them to the safest place he knew. Dean was in debt to this man.

Hanson's echoing footsteps resounded ominously as he returned from the lab table once more. "It's beginning."

"What?" Dean demanded.

"The process. Our parasite is starting to make an exit."

It didn't take three seconds for Dean, Gavin, and even Ashley to scramble across the floor and seat themselves in front of the cubicle. Dean settled down onto his knees, both hands stuffed roughly into the pockets of his jacket. "Is this normal?"

"There is nothing normal about this, Mr. Winchester. But yes, this is what I expected as the first stage."

Sam was inside the compartment lying on his stomach, both arms at his sides. His head was resting against the cement with his face toward them so they could see his mouth forming incomprehensible words. His bare skin was completely drenched in sweat.

Dean frowned. "If his brain is shut down, why is he talking?"

"He's not, really. He's just making sounds. His body is reacting with spasms to the unusual activity in his brainstem. It doesn't require an amount of energy that would interfere with this process."

As Hanson spoke, Dean saw Sam's arm give a small twitch. On closer look it seemed that all the muscles in Sam's body were undergoing the same phenomenon, moving shakily and then stilling again.

Dean waited. Nothing changed. A minute passed, maybe two. The minutes seemed to each hold an entire eternity. He didn't know how much longer he could wait with nothing happening. Was Sammy not going to be alright?

"Here we go," Hanson said in a gravelly voice.

Dean's heart stopped in his chest and sank a good few feet. He pressed his hands up against the cubicle and fixed his eyes on his brother.

Sam's body convulsed. His back arched, pulling his torso away from the floor, but after a moment he fell back again. Sam's arm and leg muscles were limp, but the ones in his back along his spine were straining and knotted. His back arched upward again.

"Is this supposed to happen?"

Hanson didn't even bother to answer. He was watching Sam just as carefully as Dean was.

Something was happening inside the compartment. The air on Sam's side of the glass had started to faintly shimmer with a reddish glow, sending waves of faded color bouncing off all four sides of the cubicle. Sam's mouth was open and it looked as though he was yelling, but the glass was sound proofed. No matter how badly Dean wanted to hear Sam's voice, there was nothing he could do—he couldn't even get inside the cubicle without Hanson's key.

((Inside Sam's Mind))

There was nothing but gray emptiness for miles and miles around. Sam was sitting on the ground…At least, he thought it was the ground—there was really no definition between the earth and sky. Just gray.

He brushed his fingers back and forth across the solid nothingness below him. The grayness rippled wherever his body moved, giving him the phantasmagoric impression that he was underwater. He couldn't feel anything except for a warm pulse on his back that was growing unnoticeably stronger.

Sam suddenly remembered that he had the ability to speak. He opened his mouth. "I am Sam Winchester." Nothing came out. Instead, the grayness around his body shuddered and shook, as though fearful that he had attempted speech. "I'm not dead, you know." The grayness trembled again. Somewhere, riding the elusive crests of Sam's thoughts, he could feel the edge of what seemed to be a circular area. In his mind's eye he could detect the unyielding barrier that held him inside this gray jail, refusing to let him return to his body. His poked at it experimentally with his thoughts—a sharp jolt of pain ripped across his forehead and he quickly withdrew his mind from the barrier. The pain faded.

I want to find Dean, Sam thought firmly. This place can't keep me. I control my mind, not whatever this thing is. He frowned. Or is this where I'm supposed to be right now? Is this where I am because my brain's been shut down? Do I have to be here in order for the parasite to die?

Sam had never wanted to speak with Dean so badly. He felt like his entire being rested on one goal, and it was a goal he couldn't reach. Dean couldn't be in the dreamscape with him. It was a fact that bit into Sam's chest like cold barbed-wire.

I want to find Dean. Sam reached out once more with his mind, probing the solid edge of the dreamscape again. The pain shot through his head but he didn't retreat. There had to be some way to break down the defense and reach out to Dean… The barrier had to have some weakness… Sam ignored the searing pain and combed the barrier, searching desperately for a hole or crack—anything to allow him outside for a moment.

((Outside Sam's Mind))

Dean, now sitting back on his heels, had not removed his eyes from Sam's body. The convulsions were getting worse, and the scarlet air was twinkling menacingly. Dean didn't even notice that inside his mouth, both of his cheeks were bleeding from the grinding of his teeth.

Another minute dragged by.

Dean's eyes had drifted to Sam's left hand, which was clenched at his side, when something happened. Sam stopped moving. The air grew still.

"What is it—?"

"Shh!"

The muscles along Sam's spine were changing colors rapidly, flashing from red to blue to black to red. Something was materializing in the air above him, draining slowly out of Sam's very skin. He convulsed for a moment. The entity hovered while the last of the mist was pulled from Sam's spinal chord. It formed itself into a denser, more solid looking cloud.

The scene seemed almost peaceful for a moment. The parasite was a scarlet area hanging in the air above Sam's lifeless body. Not a muscle was moving, and Dean found himself holding his breath. He released it slowly. He drew another one in.

Movement exploded so quickly that Dean yelled and flung an arm up in front of his face, forgetting momentarily that there was a glass wall between the parasite and he. It had shot at the glass and collided with it, only to repeat the exact same thing inside of one second. It darted to the other wall and crashed again it, causing the entire compartment to shudder darkly.

"Can it get out!" Dean was scrabbling to his feet, his eyes wide.

"No. These walls can withstand a carthorse."

"Are you sure?"

"I made them myself. I'm sure."

The parasite was obviously frantic. It threw itself several times against each side of the cubicle. After about a minute, its lunges weakened slightly. The color in the room was lessening, fading from a scarlet red to a transparent pink color. Even the parasite itself was becoming faint. It moved to the center of the room, once more directly above Sam's body.

"Is it going to try and attack him again?"

"I think it's too weak."

The parasite lingered tremulously. It rotated in place.

Suddenly it burst into flames.

Dean shouted and ran toward the door, grabbing the handle and pulling it frantically.

Hanson grabbed him by the arms. "WINCHESTER! Stop being an idiot!"

"That thing just almost fried Sammy! Look at it, it's still burning! What the Hell is it doing!"

"It's dying, Dean."

Dean looked again. The ball of fire that no longer even slightly resembled a misty cloud had tendrils of flame that licked upward toward the ceiling. It was suspended halfway between the ceiling and floor, not touching Sam where he lay.

"Dying—? But, it's—are you sure?"

"The property of flame would never have shown itself in open air unless the other symbiotic element was failing fatally. Yes, I'm sure."

As Hanson finished speaking, the flames shortened and the fingers of fire withdrew into themselves until all that was left was a ball of burning embers. It stayed for a moment, and then fell to the floor a few feet from Sam's left elbow.

((Inside Sam's Mind))

As Sam groped against the barrier, his mind stumbled across a small crack. He explored it hopefully. He fastened his thoughts firmly around it.

To his surprise, the crack began expanding. He withdrew hastily, shocked and confused, but the crack had engulfed more than half of the barrier by now. It was moving extremely quickly. Sam felt a pull on his mind, a strange pressure calling him out of the grayness and into the widening, dark crack. The urge became insistent. He couldn't ignore it.

He felt himself falling upside down, twisting and turning, stretching until he was 100 feet long, shrinking until he was smaller than a cell, somersaulting down a corridor, cart wheeling across a galaxy…

His mind came to rest. He was staring into an oddly lit blackness. He was aware of odd sensations running up and down his body… what were those?

Realization dawned on him. It was feeling. He was no longer inside the dreamscape, and he could feel his body again. He was looking at the backs of his eyelids. He was hearing the incomprehensible voices of several people, but he couldn't open his eyes to see who was there.

"Sam? Say something. Are you awake? Sammy?"

Hey, Dean.

"Sammy, come on, open your eyes! It's gone! The parasite is gone! You're ok!"

I know, I can tell it's not inside me anymore.

"Sam, please wake up, I need to see you're ok."

I'm fine. Can't you tell?

Sam felt something sharp collide with his cheek, and his eyelids slowly flickered open. They were extremely heavy and it took a huge amount of effort to open them, but the dim, glass cubicle slowly came into focus. Sam found Dean's face looming inside his field of vision, overcome with anxiety. "Sammy?"

"Dean?" Sam felt as though he'd been put through a giant meat grinder.

Dean let out a yell and punched the air with his fist. "We did it! We've beat it! It's gone!"

"I know," Sam croaked. His heartbeat had returned to normal. "I can't feel it anymore. It's gone."

"It's gone!"

"It's gone."

Dean laughed wildly, falling back onto the floor and clapping a hand to his forehead. "I knew you would be alright, Sammy!"

A smile traced its way onto Sam's lips as he watched his brother's pure joy. He wanted to preserve this moment for all of eternity. "We're alright."

"We are. We sure are. Let me help you up."

Sam struggled into a sitting position, not even aware that there were several people outside the cubicle watching. He leaned back against the wall. "I'm ok."

Dean grinned again. After a moment, he stopped and quieted, meeting Sam's eyes as they sat on the cement floor in silence. The brothers stared at each other for a long minute, the sounds of their breathing lost in the stillness. Both of them wanted to reach out and touch the shoulder of the other, but they didn't move. They sat there, without speaking, simply staring at each other.

A welcomed calm descended on the little glass cubicle, and Dean sighed softly. "I'm glad you're back, bro."

"So am I."

The two of them smiled in silent closure. Another minute or two passed. Dean finally got to his feet with a groan, and held out his hand. "Come on, Sammy. Let's get us back to the damn hotel."

Sam took Dean's hand and allowed himself to be pulled stiffly to his feet. "It's Sam."

REVIEW, CHUMBERLANS! I know, I know, you don't really see the point 'cause this was the last chapter... But do you want to make my day? Are you sure? That's what I thought : ) In that case, REVIEW! Luv you. Muah!