Two and a half hours later, Sam had had enough. He was aching and itching and wanted nothing more than a damned shower and a bed. Dean had said nothing for the entire ride and kept glancing back at Frigg at regular intervals. And Frigg? Well, she just sat there and watched the landscape drift by while Sam kept flashing back to the brief encounter with her alter-ego, Alicia, and how dirty this whole thing made him feel. He had been able to disregard it while Dean had been feeling crappy, but since the concussion was gone, Dean had been uncommonly alert and Sam did sense his eyes on him occasionally.

"I need to stop," Sam finally said. "I need to sleep."

"Let's find a motel," Dean countered. "I could do with a few hours myself."

"There's a motel coming up," Sam said and didn't wait for confirmation before pulling off toward the motel in question.

Fifteen minutes later, he had parked the Impala and got out to get them a room. But then he stopped short. They couldn't share a room with Frigg. With a sigh, he headed toward the office and got two rooms next to each other. Then he got back in the car and drove around to the parking lot and parked as close to the stairs as he could get.

Dean got out at the same time as Sam did and it took a second for both of them to realize that Frigg remained in the car. Dean opened the door for her. "Time to get out," he said.

She did and eyed him for a moment. "You are doing better?"

"Yeah, I am," he agreed. "Although I'm still cold and tired and achy," he added. "Wacky followers you've got there."

"They are not my followers," she said, her tone lightly disgusted.

"I beg to differ," Dean growled and stepped around to the trunk, which Sam had just opened, to grab his duffle.

Frigg followed him and eyed the contents of the trunk briefly, then looked up to meet his eyes. Dean eyed her back for a moment, then hauled his duffle out of the trunk and groaned under his breath. "Man, I'm getting too old for this crap," he muttered and held out a hand to Sam. "Keys," he said.

Sam handed him the keys, then pulled his own duffle out of the trunk and slammed the lid. Frigg eyed them both and Sam had the distinct impression that she was curious about them. "I got you your own room," he said.

Frigg just looked at him.

"What room are we in?" Dean asked and glanced up the stairs to the first floor balcony.

"Uh ... 210," Sam said and handed him the key for that as well. "Frigg's in 211."

"Wonderful," Dean muttered, stepped around Frigg and headed for the stairs. It didn't escape Sam that he was limping lightly.

"Come on," he said and nodded toward the stairs. Frigg followed him and he couldn't help wondering what was going through her mind. She had more or less revealed that she could read minds and he wondered if she did it all the time or just when she wanted to.

"Just when I want to," she said from behind him.

Sam's step hitched a little. "Would you please not do it?" he asked and glanced back at her when he reached the balcony. "It's not polite."

She arched both brows, but said nothing. It was neither commitment nor refusal, but he realized he was too tired to get into that right now. He needed to sleep so badly, it was almost a physical ache.

He unlocked the door to 211 and ushered her inside. A brief glance inside confirmed what the receptionist had said. There was a connecting door between the rooms. "Okay, maybe you should just lie down and rest for a bit. Dean and I need to sleep. But if there's anything you need, anything you're ... in doubt about, just knock on that door," he said and unlocked it from her side.

Frigg eyed the door for a second, then looked up at him. "Thank you," she said.

Unsure of what else to say, Sam decided to leave her to it and hoped that she wouldn't freak someone out with her odd mannerisms while they got some well-deserved rest. "See you later then," he said and backed out of the room, then closed the door behind him.

With a sigh, he stepped into 210, closed that door behind him as well, and automatically headed for the bed furthest from the door. Any previous attempts at grabbing the bed closest to the door had always been thwarted. First by dad and then by Dean. And he didn't really think that either of them had ever been aware of doing it. He dumped his duffle on the bed, opened it and dug out some clean clothes, then turned to face Dean, who was sitting on the foot end of his bed, elbows on knees, his hands covering his face. "Are you okay?"

"Just bushed," Dean replied into his palms.

"I'm gonna grab a shower," Sam said, but hesitated. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked after a moment.

Dean dropped his hands, but didn't change his stance much. "Yeah," he said, but he didn't sound sincere. "The concussion may be gone, but the rest isn't," he added and smirked halfheartedly. "You gotta teach your little girlfriend to heal people properly, dude," he added and glanced up at Sam.

The reference coupled with that smirk made Sam uncomfortable and he grimaced, then beat a hasty retreat into the bathroom when he felt the heat creeping back into his cheeks. Dean would know by now that something had happened and it wouldn't be long before he picked up on what it had been. Sam just hoped he got some sleep before he had to face the ridicule this was bound to spawn.

A long, hot shower later and Sam felt more human, although no less achy. And the carving on his chest stung like hell. He inspected the cuts in the mirror and made a face and figured he needed to put something on it before he ran out of clean t-shirts. Wearing nothing but his loose-fitting sweats, he returned to the room to find the first aid kit and was a little surprised to realize that Dean was still awake.

"That looks painful," he commented.

"It stings," Sam amended. "I need to put something on it. It keeps bleeding," he added.

"Dude, you need to do more than put something on it," Dean stated, took the first aid kit away from him and shoved him toward his bed. "Sit down. Let me have a look at it."

Sam made a face. "Dean, your bedside manner sucks. I'd rather do this myself," he said.

"Don't be such girl," Dean countered and eyed his chest for a moment. "That bastard. I should have kicked his damned head in," he added angrily.

Sam shied back when Dean brought out the bottle of peroxide. "See, that's why I don't like your bedside manner. You're always pissed off when you do this and I'm the one to suffer the consequences."

"Wimp," Dean said. "Just ... hold still."

With a sigh, Sam leaned back a little and braced himself with his hands on the bed and tried his best not to sneer at the sting from the peroxide. Eventually, Dean slapped a few bandages on the worst of it, then took a step back to admire his handiwork. "I have awesome bedside manners, dude," he claimed. "Let me see your wrists."

"They're just chafed," Sam countered. "Unlike yours. What'd you try to do? Gnaw through them?"

Dean eyed his swollen, discolored wrists for a moment and sighed. "It'll be a while before I can wear my watch again," he said.

Sam took the first aid kit away from him and gave him a halfhearted smile. "Payback's a bitch," he stated.

"If I get even a vague idea that you're overdoing this, Sam, I'm gonna kick your ass," Dean warned.

"You and what army?" Sam countered and shooed his brother into the bathroom. "Those cuts need to be cleaned out properly or you'll get a major infection," he added.

"Do your worst," Dean said and held out both hands.

One thing Sam had noticed about Dean very early on was his resistence to pain. It was something that Sam admired. Even when Dean was coming apart at the seams with fatigue and pain, he always cracked jokes about it and made it look a lot less painful than it was. It had actually led Sam to believe that deep gashes didn't hurt very much and he had been a tad shocked when he'd gotten his first one at the tender age of twelve.

He remembered the incident clearly. He had bawled his eyes out all the way back to the motel and dad had repeatedly told him to get his act together, but the one who's opinion had really mattered to him had been Dean and he had consoled him and tried to make a joke of it rather than dad's approach, which had been bossy and lacking pity. Sam had later learned that his father dealt with things differently and that when he got bossy, it was because he was really scared and worried. At least that had always been Dean's take on it. But, then again, Dean had also spent at lot of time trying to convince Sam that their father was a superhero.

"What are you grinning at?" Dean demanded through clenched teeth.

"Nothing," Sam countered and wrapped bandages around Dean's wrists. "I just remembered something."

"Yeah? Like what?" Dean asked and carefully flexed his right wrist.

"Like when you tried to convince me that dad was a superhero," he said and couldn't help smiling at the memory. It was really a bitter-sweet memory and he sometimes wondered if mom had seen dad that way.

Dean smirked. "Yeah, that didn't go over too well, did it?" He shook his head lightly. "Then again, considering what the guy went up against on his own ... that pretty much makes him a superhero in my book."

Sam nodded, but kept any further thoughts to himself. For one because Dean would make fun of what was going through his head right now. In his opinion – and this was on good days – his father had been more of a tragic figure like the heros in ancient Greek tales, bound for disaster without a living chance of getting out alive. It wasn't really a view he wanted to share with his brother, mainly because Dean would probably take offence at the comparison.

"Let's get some sleep," Dean said and headed back into the room, still limping.

"Not until I've taken a look at your knee, you twit," Sam countered, lashed out and grabbed a handful of Dean's shirt, stopping him dead in his tracks.

"Twit?" Dean blurted out and turned back to face him. "Dude ..."

Sam gave him a look that shut him up. He knew what came next and he really wasn't in the mood to listen to any more indications of how gay he sounded sometimes. "Drop'em," he said instead and nodded toward Dean's jeans, well aware of the irony of the demand coupled with those thoughts.

Under protest, Dean obeyed and Sam almost cursed out loud when he saw Dean's by now bloated and severely discolored knee. "Man, you are one walking disaster area," he exclaimed instead. "Go sit down," he added.

"Why don't we ask the next door goddess to fix all this?" Dean asked, his tone dripping with sarcasm as he settled down on the edge of his bed.

Sam refrained from answering that. It wasn't like Dean would actually accept the help if it was offered. It was obvious that he had reservations toward Frigg. Instead Sam cleaned out the gash in Dean's knee, which drew a restrained hiss from him, before slapping a pressure bandage on it to keep the swelling down. "You should put some ice on it," he eventually said.

"Later. Right now I need some sleep," Dean countered.

Sam eyed Dean as he dropped onto his bed and draped an arm over his face. With a sigh, he grabbed a clean t-shirt and pulled it on, then grabbed the complimentary ice bucket and went out in search of the ice machine that was bound to be there somewhere. He found it, filled the bucket and upon returning to the room filled a plastic bag with ice, wrapped it in a towel and placed it on Dean's knee.

"Ow," Dean snapped and pulled his arm away from his face. "Be careful, man."

"Wimp," Sam countered good-naturedly and sank down on his bed. "I could sleep for a year," he admitted.

Dean readjusted the bag of ice, then stretched out on the bed again and yawned heartily. "Yeah, me too," he admitted sleepily.

For some reason Sam didn't believe he could sleep, but moments later after he had stretched out on his own bed, the world just faded away.

***

Dean woke up with the distinct impression that he had missed something important. He pushed himself up on his elbows and scowled at his knee and the now soggy bag covering it. The ice had long since melted away and the plastic bag was leaking. "Great," he muttered and sat up. This he almost accomplished without groaning. He generally felt like he'd gone a few rounds with a block of cement.

Then he glanced over at his brother, who was out cold and sleeping like the dead. He watched him for a moment, then glanced at his watch, observed that it was 11.30 p.m. and figured he might as well go back to sleep. He pushed the soggy bag off his leg and onto the floor, then flopped back down on the bed and draped an arm over his face.

And it was at this point that he realized what exactly it was that had woken him up in the first place. With a frown, he pulled his arm away from his face again and listened intently. The TV was on next door and from what he could hear, Frigg was channel hopping big time.

Why this bothered him he didn't know, but it did. For a moment, he considered ignoring it, but something kept tugging at him and he sat up again, pulled his legs over the edge of the bed and got up. His knee felt stiff and sore, but it didn't hurt when he put weight on it. It was only when he bent it that he could feel that gash covering his kneecap. Taking it slow, he made it over to the connecting door, then sent a quick glance back at Sam, who was still out like a light. Then he pulled the door open and stepped through to the other room.

Frigg didn't look at him when he stepped in and closed the door behind him. She was staring at the TV with a slight frown furrowing her brow. "No offense, but that's a bit loud," Dean said, having to raise his voice over the blare of the set.

The sound muted immediately before she turned her head and eyed him. "You are still ... achy," she stated. Her tone of voice had become a little more melodic and he wondered if she was picking up speech patterns from what she was watching on the tube.

He arched an eyebrow. "Yeah, I am. It doesn't go away that quickly," he countered. "What are you watching?"

"Everything," she said and returned her attention to the screen.

"Why are you watching?" he asked and took a cautious step closer. He wasn't entirely sure where he had her. She could heal with the touch of a hand, but she could also lay a whole room flat just by wanting it and that was what bothered him. He still wasn't convinced that she hadn't killed all those people.

"I have never been among mortals before," she confessed and pulled her knees up. The flimsy dress she was wearing shifted, exposing her thigh and revealing to him that she wore nothing underneath.

It struck Dean as strange that seeing her nakedness like that did nothing for him, but he figured that it was the fact of what she was that made him view her as anything other than a human female. She was still wearing Sam's jacket and as such she looked like something taken out of context. She didn't fit in. "So, you thought you'd learn by watching television?" he asked and couldn't help a vague smile. "That's rich."

She shifted a little to face him. "Why are you like this?" she asked and eyed him almost curiously.

"Like what?" he asked, not really sure he cared.

"You do not say what you mean," she said and got off the bed. "You twist everything before you say it. Is it a defense?"

"What?" He eyed her closely. She was a bit shorter than him, but not by much, which struck him as odd because his initial opinion of Alicia had been that she was almost petit.

She took a step forward, her eyes never leaving him, and she didn't blink even once. "You are not being truthful. Not with me or with your brother."

"Don't you mind how I am with my brother," he said. "That's none of your concern."

"You were not in favor of taking me along. You wanted to leave me behind," she said. Her tone was even and he couldn't help wondering if she really minded that or if she was just stating the facts.

"Look, no offence here, but for all I know you could be a demon and we've had bad experiences with demons," he said and raised both hands in a deprecating gesture.

"Demons are creatures of darkness," she countered. "Demons cannot heal. I can." As if to prove a point, she lashed out and grabbed his right wrist with her right hand.

Dean jerked; not because her touch hurt, but because of the speed with which she moved. He almost hadn't seen her hand move, it had been that fast. She only held on for a few seconds before she released his wrist again and the heavy feeling of his marred wrist had disappeared along with her touch. He glanced down at it and noted that the bandage, which had previously been tight, now hung limply around his wrist. For a moment, all he could do was stare at it. Then he looked up to meet her eyes and reluctantly held out his left hand to her.

She wrapped her left hand around it and this time she didn't let go immediately. The energy it obviously demanded of her to heal him was a warmth that started in his wrist and then spread up his arm to his shoulder and then radiated throughout his body. It was the strangest sensation he'd ever tried and it made him forget to draw breath for a moment. Then she let go and he took a hesitant step back.

"Now do you believe that I am not a demon?" she asked.

He considered it, mulled it over in his head, and nodded once. So, maybe she wasn't a demon. Maybe she was a goddess. But what exactly did that mean? In Dean's opinion there was no truly benevolent creature out there. In his life he had met very few people who did anything for others without expecting something in return and he couldn't shake the feeling that this one was no different, no matter what she was.

"Uh ... what exactly is it you want from us?" he finally asked.

"Nothing. I just want to take a closer look at what the hype is all about," she countered.

"The ... hype?" He frowned at her usage of that word. A moment ago he wouldn't have thought she would know what hype was.

"Humans. Mortals," she clarified. "I have not been among mortals before. You are a puzzling bunch."

Unsure of how to respond to her, he blinked. She had just healed every damned injury he'd received and he had no doubts that she could and would do the same for Sam, but there was still something about her that creeped him out big time. "Right," he muttered and took another hesitant step back. "Well ... it's late. And I'm still tired. So ... I'll see you in the morning ... if you're still around."

She watched him while he backed up to the door and he had the feeling like being a mouse under the watchful eye of a cat, that was still deciding on whether it had room for one more bite or not. Essentially, he considered her a predator and a very dangerous one at that. He just couldn't really decide whether she was on their side or not.

***

The following morning

Sam shifted and flinched when the movement pulled on the cuts on his chest. His wrists ached, his chest hurt and generally he felt pretty crappy. He turned his head a little and glanced over at Dean, who was still asleep. Then he glanced at the alarmclock and sighed. It was half past eight in the morning. He had been asleep for close to twenty hours, a record for him.

For some reason he felt bothered by something and glanced over at Dean again when his brother turned over and his left arm slid off the bed and dangled over the edge. The bandage around his wrist was gone and there was no sign of any injury. With a frown, Sam sat up slowly while trying to keep a groan under wraps. It would seem that Dean had had another little close encounter with their resident goddess and Sam couldn't help a vague smile at the inconsistency that was his brother. He talked big most of the time, but when it came down to it, he was just as fickle as the rest of them.

But the sense that something wasn't the way it was supposed to be kept intruding and a brief visual sweep of their room disclosed the nature of that sense. Frigg was standing just inside the connecting door and she was watching him intently.

"Hey," he said and pulled his legs over the edge of the bed. "Sorry, I didn't see you standing there."

With an effort, he got off the bed and arched his back a bit. Dean grumbled something in his sleep, turned over on his stomach and buried his face in the pillow. Frigg glanced at him, then tilted her head to the left and eyed Sam closely. "You are in pain," she stated quietly.

"Nah, just a bit achy," Sam countered, although she was right.

"No, you are in pain," she said firmly and stepped closer. "Why do neither of you say what you mean?" she asked.

"What do you mean?" Sam eyed her for a moment.

"Could you take this outside?" Dean growled and shifted a little to squint up at Sam for a second before dropping his head back onto the pillow.

Sam pursed his lips, then nodded. "Let's go next door," he said.

Frigg turned and disappeared through the door and Sam followed her, closing it behind him. She stopped just inside the door and turned around to face him without observing any sort of personal space.

Without hesitation she placed both hands on his chest and hit him with the most intense feeling of warmth he'd ever tried. It took his breath away and removed every single ache in his body in one go. The close encounter only lasted about a minute and then she stepped back and let her hands drop.

Stumped, Sam just stood there for a moment, then he pulled his t-shirt up and peeled the bandage away from his chest to find unmarked skin underneath. He peeled off the rest of the bandages, then looked up to meet her eyes. "We could have used your help a long time ago," he said.

Frigg eyed him closely, then the corners of her lips twitched and she smiled vaguely. "Why do you never say what you really mean?" she asked.

"I just did," he countered. "And it's not good form to just blurt out what's on your mind. We try to be considerate towards each other."

"Is it not better to speak the truth and avoid confusion?" Frigg asked, trailed over to the bed and dropped down on it. "It seems to me that it causes a great deal of confusion and misunderstandings when nobody says what they really mean."

"Yeah, well, we're a complicated bunch," he said and settled down on one of the chairs facing her. "You're right, of course. It would be better if we said what we thought, but human society just doesn't work that way."

She pursed her lips in contemplation and Sam briefly reflected on the fact that she was becoming more expressive. In other words, she was learning fast. "Your relationship with your brother strikes me as ... odd," she suddenly said and focused her unblinking gaze on him.

"Odd?" he asked, a little confused by her choice of words. "What do you mean, odd?"

"It is clear that your bond is strong, but you are not being truthful with each other," she said. "With that close a relationship, it just strikes me as odd that you are not truthful."

Sam sighed. How the hell did he explain his complex relationship with Dean to her without sounding like a complete moron?

"You are hardly a moron," she said.

Sam focused on her. "Frigg ... no offence, but you have got to stop reading my mind. It's not ..."

"... polite?" she cut him off. "How else will I know what you really mean? You do not tell me the truth either."

"I'm trying to, okay? But I don't want to have to censure my mind all the time. So, please, don't read my mind. It makes me very uncomfortable," he said, not sure he was able to stress enough how disconcerting it was.

Before Frigg could come up with a reply to that one, the connecting door opened and Dean stepped through. "Hope I'm not interrupting anything," he said and smirked.

Sam rolled his eyes. "No, you're not," he said.

Frigg eyed Dean for a moment, then smiled, which seemed to stump his brother for some reason. He just stared at her for a second, then turned his attention to Sam. "Dude, do you know what time it is?"

Sam frowned. "Uh ... there's an alarmclock on the night stand," he said.

"I know that," Dean said, glanced at Frigg and then looked back at Sam. "We're supposed to take it easy today, Sam."

"I am taking it easy," Sam claimed.

"The hell you are," Dean countered. "What did you mean when you said that you understood the sex?" he asked and turned his attention fully to Frigg.

Sam could actually feel himself pale. This was not something he wanted to get into right now.

Frigg tilted her head to one side and eyed Dean intently for a moment. "Apparently, the ritual these ... followers of mine used, calls for the willing sacrifice of virginity," she said and shifted her gaze to Sam. "Alicia was a virgin."

Dean just stared at her for a moment longer. "Are you telling me that ... you and ..." He glanced at Sam, who shifted uncomfortably and didn't meet his eyes.

"Not me. Alicia," Frigg corrected him. "And yes," she added.

"Sammy, you dog," Dean exclaimed.

Utterly embarrassed and more than a little sickened by the fact that Dean would actually think he had done it out of his own free will, Sam glared at him. "You actually think that I would do that?" he asked, unable to hide his immediate anger. "It wasn't exactly voluntary, you know."

Dean arched his eyebrows. "What? You're telling me you were ..." He stopped short and frowned. "Dude, that's not even possible."

"No? Why don't you ask her?" Sam countered angrily and made a sweeping gesture toward Frigg.

"Chill, man. It's not exactly the worst thing that could happen to you, you know," Dean said, obviously not grasping the idea of what Sam had gone through.

"Really? And what the hell would you know about that? You weren't there," Sam snapped.

"It was not voluntary on his part," Frigg inserted. "He was forced into it."

"That's not possible," Dean claimed. "Unless he was drugged," he added while staring intently at Sam, who still avoided looking him directly in the eyes.

"He was not. And it is quite possible," Frigg countered. "Would you like me to show you?"

Dean's response would probably have been funny under other circumstances, but Sam was just too upset about this right now to see the funny side to it. When Dean took a step back and raised both hands, all Sam could think was that he was furious. "No thanks," Dean said. "Okay, let's say it's possible ... what the hell is the purpose? I thought virgin sacrifices were much more effective."

"Sexual energy is much stronger than virginity," Frigg said matter-of-fact-like. "But these people have misunderstood its purpose completely. Forced intercourse in any manner or fashion weakens the ritual considerably."

"But it worked," Dean argued.

"My appearance had nothing to do with the preparations for this ... ritual," she countered and managed to sound almost indifferent. "I do not respond to blood sacrifices or forced sex."

Sam's anger abated a little at her words. "Then why ..." he started, but stopped short.

"I have had enough of the misuse of my name," she said.

"But how are you going to make a difference in how these people behave if you just knock them out and then leave?" Dean wanted to know.

Frigg's eyes darkened a little. "They will have a different view on things now," she said.

For some reason, Dean didn't have a comeback for that one. Instead he turned back to Sam. "We need to talk," he said and nodded toward the door.

Sam grimaced, but rose and followed Dean back into their room. Dean shut the door behind him and eyed him for a moment. "Are you shitting me?"

With a roll of the eyes, Sam turned his back on his brother. "I don't want to talk about it, okay?"

"No, not okay. Are you kidding me? Sam, you're talking rape here." He grabbed Sam's arm and turned him back to face him. "This is some kind of warped joke, right?"

Sam pulled his arm out of Dean's grip. "No, it's not a joke, dammit," he snapped, then sighed and pulled back a step. "I get that you don't see it that way, Dean, but I do, okay? I'm not comfortable with crap like that. At all."

It was obvious to him that Dean didn't get how this made him feel. "You can't rape a guy," Dean said, then made a face. "Well ... women can't rape men. It just doesn't ... it makes no sense, man."

"Just ... drop it, okay? I don't want to talk about it," Sam tried, well aware that Dean wouldn't leave it be.

"If it was so horrible, why the hell did you insist on dragging her along then?" Dean asked and waved a hand toward the connecting door.

"It's not her any more," Sam countered and even he could hear how lame that sounded. "I ... just didn't want to leave her behind. I mean ... she's like a kid. She has to learn how to handle the world. I don't really think that those idiots back on that island would have made a very good job of teaching her basic values."

Dean frowned. "Good point," he said. "But ... jeez, man. I ..." He shrugged helplessly. "I just don't get it, Sam. I mean ... if you didn't want to, then how the hell ..."

"Dean, would you just please leave it be? I'm not in the mood for this. I'd rather forget it happened," Sam tried. He could feel his temper flaring, could sense the impending explosion if Dean didn't back off.

Dean considered his request for a moment, then sent a thoughtful look toward the connecting door. "Well ... she's pretty. I get that," he said and looked back over at Sam. "Was it ... good?"

It happened rarely. He had to admit that. But right now he felt like slugging his brother. He even got as far as balling both hands into fists. Without a word, he grabbed some clean clothes and disappeared into the bathroom to get dressed. When he reemerged, Dean still stood where he had left him. Sam shook his head, grabbed a jacket and strode over to the door.

"Where the hell are you going?" Dean asked.

"Out," Sam growled and left the room. He needed to cool off, to get some perspective on this whole thing, and that was downright impossible while Dean was in this mood.

***