He walked away from the motel with long strides, hands buried deeply in his pockets, his shoulders raised slightly, while the anger and embarrassment burned inside him like a slow, smoldering flame. In part he truly couldn't blame his brother, but a part of him did. Dean was just being Dean. There was nothing new under the sun when it came to that. But it hurt that Dean didn't believe him and it hurt even more that he would think, even for a second, that Sam would choose to participate in that insanity out of his own free will.

He veered off the road and wandered in among the trees of the forest past the factory across from the motel, and continued onward until the sound of traffic had disappeared and all he could hear was the light breeze rustling the leaves up above. He had no idea how to handle the situation, how to rise up and beyond this and he knew he needed time to cool down, to turn things over in his head until he gained a new perspective that would allow him to forgive Dean for being a jerk.

With a tired sigh, he sank down on a fallen tree trunk and just sat and stared at the ground for a moment. It was at times like these, when his mind was in turmoil and he couldn't make heads or tails of anything, that he missed Jess the most. He missed the way she could console him even without knowing what was going on. He missed the way she had never pushed to learn more and had accepted it when he had asked her not to dig. Dean didn't leave him alone when he needed it the most and it burned him inside. It was almost a physical ache that he had no one to lean on right now.

"Sam."

A little stunned, he looked up and stared at Frigg. She had obviously followed him, but he hadn't noticed and that wasn't good news. If he was so far out that he couldn't pay attention, things could get nasty really fast.

She was still wearing that damned dress, but was at least somewhat covered by his jacket, which she was still wearing too. His gaze dropped to her bare feet and he wondered if she wasn't ripping her feet to shreds, walking around without any shoes on. "We should get you some clothes," he said a little absentmindedly. It was first and foremost on his mind right now because that dress made him think of her alter-ego and that again made him very uncomfortable.

Frigg glanced around this patch of forest. "Why are you here?" she asked.

"Because I needed some air and I can't breathe around Dean when he's like that," he countered, his tone bitter.

"He is very insensitive," Frigg said and settled down next to him. "I am sorry. I should not have told him."

Sam shrugged lightly and eyed his shoes. "Yeah ... well," he muttered. What could he really say, after all? She was right. "He would have figured it out eventually," he added.

"Why does he find it necessary to make fun of this? He should be able to understand that something like this is not ... fun." Frigg sounded thoughtful, like the idea that Dean could get any enjoyment out of that puzzled her.

"He sees things differently," Sam said. "Dean's ... promiscuous to a certain extent. He doesn't need much incentive to be attracted to a woman."

"But you do," Frigg said. It wasn't a question. It was a statement.

"Generally yeah," he agreed with another shrug. "Look ... can we talk about something else here? I really don't want to get into this topic again."

"Of course," Frigg said. "Where would I get clothes?"

Sam glanced at her. "Uh ... there are bound to be some shops around. But you need money. You can't just go in and take what you want," he said.

"I realize that," she countered. "Can you help me?"

It was an odd thing, really. Even though this was the same girl, the consciousness possessing this body now was vastly different from that of Alicia, and it showed in her eyes and to a certain extent in her features as well. Alicia he would have judged to be around sixteen no matter what she had said. Frigg in her body he would judge to be at least twenty-five and if she really was a goddess, chances were that she was a hell of a lot older than that.

"Sure," he said.

"Thank you," she countered and rose.

"Uh ... hang on a second," he said and rose too. She turned around to face him. "That ... dress is pretty much see-through," he continued. "You should ... zip the jacket."

She glance down herself with a slight frown furrowing her brow. "Is nakedness something mortals disapprove of?" she asked and looked up to meet his eyes again.

"That's one way of putting it, yeah," Sam agreed.

She again glance down herself, then took a hold of the lower edges of the jacket and eyed them for a moment.

"Here, let me help you," he said and did it for her. He pulled the zipper up far enough to cover her properly. "That's better," he said, although he didn't really think it was. He briefly checked his pockets to make sure he had his wallet, then nodded toward the road. "Let's go get you something decent to wear."

"Alright," she agreed and they started walking. "I feel ... empty," she suddenly said and looked up at him.

"That's probably because you're hungry," Sam said and realized he was too. "We can get something to eat once you're dressed."

"Alright," she said and continued walking.

***

When it came down to it, Frigg was amazingly easy to dress. She didn't seem to care one way or another what she wore and Sam used the lie that she had amnesia to explain why she was dressed the way she was. The girl in the store was happy to help out and within an hour, Frigg was dressed in decent clothes and looked a hell of a lot different to Sam. The shop assistant had also put Frigg's hair in a scrunchy, which yet again made her look like a completely different girl.

Satisfied that she was no longer running around in next to nothing and wouldn't wear her feet to the bone by walking barefoot, he took her to the nearest diner and ordered for both of them. She eyed the plate when the breakfast special was placed in front of her, then watched Sam for a moment before she picked up her own fork and scooped some of the scrambled egg up on it.

"You learn quickly," Sam said after a moment of watching her eat.

She glanced at him, then put the fork down while a frown furrowed her brow. "I wish to know more about your life, about how mortals live."

Sam couldn't help a smirk. "I'm not the right person to ask, Frigg," he said. "My life isn't exactly normal."

"Then what is normal?" she asked and eyed him curiously.

"I don't know. A job from nine to five, a family, a house. Some think it's boring, I guess," he said and grimaced.

"But it is all you want," she added quietly.

Sam met her eyes and couldn't stop feeling that she understood him like no one else ever had. Of course, she could read his mind, but that didn't necessarily mean that she understood him. But he felt she did. "It's a dream," he said. "With the life we're living ... that's all it'll ever be."

"Why?" Frigg asked and glanced down at her plate. She eyed the sausage for a moment, then picked it up and sniffed it. Her expression changed vaguely and she took a bite of it.

Sam couldn't help smiling at that. But then he shrugged in reply to her question. "It's not possible for us to live like ... normal people do," he tried to explain, "because we know what's out there. It wouldn't be normal. It would be ... strained. And any potential partner wouldn't understand."

"Did your girlfriend understand?" Frigg asked. "You have been thinking about her."

Sam swallowed. "Yeah, I have," he agreed and figured it would be impossible to make her stop reading his mind. "And I don't know if she would have understood. I didn't tell her what I did before I went to Stanford." He rested his elbows on the tabletop and picked idly at the label of the hot sauce bottle.

"She might have understood," Frigg suggested.

"Yeah, she might have," he agreed. "But ..."

"You were afraid to test her?" she asked.

Sam considered it and figured that somehow, Jess would have understood, but he hadn't told her because of that margin that suggested she wouldn't have understood and that if he had proven it to her, she would have withdrawn from him. It was difficult to think of it that way. "I guess," he muttered.

Frigg reached out and placed a hand on top of his. "I believe she would have understood," she said.

He managed a tight little smile, then looked up to meet her eyes. "Why are you here, Frigg?"

She curled her fingers around his hand. "I'm curious," she admitted. "About this ... life. About being mortal. And I believe you and your brother might be better teachers than these ... followers of mine." She pursed her lips and frowned lightly.

"Don't you have somewhere you need to be? Prayers you need to answer?" Sam asked. He didn't really have any idea how godhood really worked.

Frigg smiled. "To be honest, Sam, being an old deity like I am ... I have very few followers left. Not many believe in me any more. And it's ... sad. Once thousands believed in me and worshiped me. I was very busy then."

It was surreal, discussing the work schedule of a goddess.

"This little enclave of lunatics is among the last of my followers. There are some on the northern hemisphere that still believe and pay tribute, but they are few and far between. When they called upon me ... I could either choose to ignore them and go about my business or answer their prayers and manifest. I decided on the latter to teach them a lesson. I have never been in favor of sacrifices of any kind," she continued.

Sam considered her words for a moment while eying the contents of her plate without really seeing it. "So ... being a goddess ... you have special powers?" he asked and looked up again to meet her eyes. Her incredibly blue eyes. They almost seemed to be alight, they were that blue.

"I assume so," she said. "I can definitely do more than a mere mortal," she added and smiled vaguely.

Sam became aware that she was still holding onto his hand and glanced at her hand for a moment. When push came to shove, he had to admit that he was attracted to her, to the way she looked. Alicia he would have mostly viewed as a kid, but now that she was Frigg, she was different, older, more mature. "I don't ... remember too much about you. I mean ... the mythology surrounding you. All I generally remember is that you're the topmost goddess of Norse mythology and the wife of Odin. Is that right?"

Frigg glanced at her hand on top of his and gently caressed the side of his hand with her thumb for a moment. "In as far as stereotypical relationships can exist among my kind, I suppose so," she said. "Odin is a bit of a recluse, actually," she added and smiled, then looked up again to meet his eyes.

"So ... he's ... okay with you going off like this?" Sam asked. He had no idea why he was so interested in what Odin might think of this and his question made her smile.

"He has no say in what I do," she said. "Ours is not a ... stereotypical relationship. I do as I please and so does he. We do not ... own each other."

Sam couldn't help a smirk. "So you're free to see other people?" he asked.

Frigg's reply was a smile. "Tell me more about your life," she said.

***

At first he did nothing. He got dressed, then found a place to get some breakfast to go and returned to the motel to eat it in peace. Then he switched on the tv and spent an hour channel hopping without finding anything worth while watching, and finally he began to worry.

By the time Sam had been gone for three hours, Dean started pacing. He called Sam twice within ten minutes, then got angry and threw himself onto his bed to stare darkly up at the ceiling.

An hour after that, he was on the laptop, researching Frigg. There wasn't that much information out there on her, but in his opinion that didn't mean much. It just meant that those in the know didn't post on the web.

He frowned lightly, trying to remember something he had heard in regards to Frigg. He scrolled through a few of the websites and stopped when the term three-faced goddess caught his attention. "Maiden, mother and crone," he muttered. "Three in one." He rubbed the back of his neck for a moment, then shrugged and googled the term. Again there wasn't much, but some of it did seem to fit on Frigg, even though he couldn't shake the feeling that there was more to her than her being a Norse goddess.

"I don't get it," he muttered and glanced at his watch. Five hours and counting. "Dammit," he growled, picked up his phone and dialed Sam's number again. And again it rang twice, then switched to voice mail. Dean hung up without leaving a message. Okay, so the kid was pissed off at him. He had every right to be. But, in Dean's opinion, that didn't give him the right to worry his brother half to death.

Another hour passed before Dean reached the end of his rope. Sam, and for that matter Frigg as well, had been gone for six hours without a word and Dean just couldn't stand sitting around any more. He grabbed his jacket, but before he could shrug into it, the door opened.

Sam stopped short when he saw Dean, then made a face and stepped inside.

Dean was ready to give him hell when he caught sight of the girl behind Sam. Seeing Frigg like that stumped him for a moment and any and all words got stuck in his throat. He barely recognized her. But Dean wasn't one to be mum for long. Ignoring the fact that Frigg now looked like an ordinary girl, he turned his attention to Sam. "Where the hell were you?" he demanded angrily and threw his jacket back onto his bed. "Do you have any idea how worried I was?"

Sam stared at him for a moment. "Who are you? My father?" he countered, obviously still ticked off.

For a moment all Dean did was just stand there, then his gaze shifted to Frigg again. "Could I talk to my brother alone for a moment?" he asked.

Frigg shrugged and disappeared into the next room and closed the door behind her.

Sam pushed the front door shut, shrugged out of his jacket and dropped it and the bag he was carrying on a chair.

"You bought her clothes?" Dean asked.

"You suggest she should run around in that flimsy dress and on bare feet for the duration?" Sam shot back.

"No," Dean countered. "Check the attitude, man," he added angrily.

Sam snorted, decidedly annoyed. "Look who's talking," he growled.

Dean chomped down on the need to chew Sam out verbally and held his tongue for a moment. "Okay, fine, I had that one coming," he admitted. "I'm sorry about what I said, okay? I just ... it completely threw me when she ..." Annoyed that he couldn't find the right words, Dean stopped trying.

"It's not what you said," Sam countered, his tone a little more mellow. "It's the fact that you can't leave well enough alone. It's an incident I'm not happy with and I really don't want to talk about it. I know you have a hard time seeing this as something bad, but it is for me. And it's not the sex either. It's the manipulation. It's the fact of being forced into something I didn't want to do."

That one he hadn't seen coming at all. He hadn't thought of it that way, had only been able to reflect on the sex part. But now he understood Sam's reaction far better. "I didn't ..." He stopped and cleared his throat. "Okay, I'm sorry. I didn't see it that way. I ... I should have kept my trap shut."

Sam shuffled his feet for a moment, then dropped down on the second chair, his gaze on the floor.

Dean waited for him to acknowledge the apology, to let him know they were okay, but Sam said nothing. After a moment, Dean settled down on the edge of his bed and eyed his brother. "What? You're gonna hold this against me forever?" he asked.

Sam looked up to face him. "No, of course not," he finally said. "I just wish you'd take me seriously sometimes."

"What? I take you seriously all the time, dude," Dean countered, a little stumped by that claim.

"No, you don't," Sam disagreed, his tone tense again. "You always treat me like a little kid and I'm, quite frankly, getting a little tired of it."

"I do so not treat you like a little kid," Dean said, a bit annoyed now. But he fought to keep it under wraps. He most certainly didn't want to alienate his brother any further right now.

"Yes, you do," Sam stated sternly.

Dean stared at him for a moment, then flicked a glance toward the connecting door. "She's putting strange ideas in your head, isn't she?" he asked. "Sam, we need to talk about her. I don't think she is who she claims to be."

Sam sighed and shook his head. "I'm not getting into that with you," he said and rose. "I've just spent the entire day with her. I think I know her a little better than you do. And she's the real deal. She's here because she's curious and, apparently, she has nothing better to do right now."

"Bullshit," Dean snapped and rose too. "She's playing you, man. I don't know what she is yet, but I aim to find out. And I want you to stay the hell away from her until then."

Sam glared at him and Dean realized he was losing this fight very quickly. "You can't tell me what to do," Sam said, his tone cold.

"You better believe I can," Dean countered. "And you're not spending any more time with her alone. You got that?"

"Screw you," Sam snarled, strode over to the connecting door and disappeared into the next room while slamming the door hard behind him.

Dean stared at the door for a moment and figured he would have to do something radical to convince Sam he was right. Something told him that Frigg had either done something to Sam, or was still doing something to him, that was impairing his judgement. Although Sam had never been one to be paranoid, he was usually fairly good at seeing through a ruse. And this thing had ruse written all over it. "Shit," he growled. Well, at least Sam was back. That he was pissed off right now was something Dean hoped would pass quickly, but if Frigg was putting ideas in his head, that spelled trouble. Dean needed to keep an eye on things and he needed to find out more about Frigg, no matter how.

***

A part of Sam didn't like where this was going. He didn't like being angry with Dean, but Dean's attitude right now ticked him off. He was convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that Frigg meant them no harm. She spoke openly about her background, made no secret of it that she was a supernatural being, and that was enough for Sam. She had also proven herself to be benevolent by not killing those people in that cavern and by healing both of them of their injuries, which would undoubtably have set them back by at least a week.

"Are you alright?" Frigg asked and eyed him with slight concern.

"Yeah, it's just ..." He sighed and dropped down on a chair, not sure he could make her understand what was going through his head right now.

Frigg pulled a chair over and sat down across from him, her knees almost touching his. "I realize that Dean does not like me," she said. "I can not quite get a grasp on why, though."

"He's paranoid," Sam growled, then chomped down on his lower lip and sighed. "No, that's not fair. But he gets very single-minded sometimes and it's hard to change his mind once he gets an idea in his head."

Frigg placed her hands on his knees. "I do not want to be the one to drive you two apart, Sam. If you think it is a bad idea for me to stay, I will leave. I can do this on my own," she said quietly.

Sam looked up to meet her eyes. "No, I think you should stay. He'll just have to get used to it," he countered and tried a smile.

"I am sure he means well. He is just worried about you," she said.

"And that's just the problem, isn't it?" Sam said and sighed again, this time deeply. "He treats me like a little kid. I'm tired of it. I can look after myself."

"Of course you can," she agreed.

"And ... I just wish he would back off when I ask him to. I mean, this whole thing ... it's not about the ... sex." He dropped his gaze to her hands on his knees. "It's about being manipulated, you know? About being forced into doing something I don't want to do. And he doesn't seem to get that. He's so ... fixated sometimes." With a groan, he leaned back on his chair and scrubbed both hands over his face, then ran his fingers through his hair. "All I want is for him to treat me like a damned adult. Like he has faith in that I can actually do stuff without getting in over my head," he added tiredly, then smiled cynically. "If he ever heard me say this, he would never let me live it down. He already thinks I'm a girl."

Frigg frowned lightly. "Nothing is further from the truth," she said and shifted forward a little, her hands sliding a little further up on his thighs. And her touch distracted him away from the anger he felt at his brother. Something stirred in him and to avoid getting in a situation she might misunderstand, he grabbed her hands and leaned forward a bit, pushing her back a little.

"How can you understand me so much better than he does?" he asked quietly. "You don't even know me." Just looking at her made him want her. She was pretty with her red hair and electric blue eyes. And he could sense the old soul that she was, the centuries of experience, the knowledge buried deeply inside her, and it turned him on.

She pulled her right hand out of his left and stroked her fingertips over his cheek while her gaze roamed over his face as if she was committing it to memory. "You have an old soul," she said just as quietly. "We are connected. I understand you."

The day they had just spent together invoked feelings in him he couldn't subdue and her touch felt almost electric against his skin. The barriers were breaking down little by little, taking his fear and shame with it. He was in two minds about this, about how she made him feel, and couldn't help wondering where this would end. He couldn't very well put the moves on her. She was a goddess in the body of a sixteen year old girl.

That thought sounded so cliche in his mind that he couldn't help a smile. He could not deny how he felt and if she read his mind like he thought she did, then she would know how he felt right now.

The rational part of his mind suddenly backpedaled and he pulled back, away from her touch. "This isn't a good idea," he said and dropped his gaze, not sure he wanted to face her.

"I may not have been present the first time, but a body has a memory of its own," she said quietly. "And this body remembers you vividly."

Her words made him look up again to face her. He didn't know what to say, didn't know how to respond. Frigg rose, still holding onto his right hand.

"Tell me honestly that this is something you do not want and I will not ask again," she added.

How could he say that he didn't want this when he so evidently did? Even now he was consciously trying to suppress the effect she had on him, but nothing short of a cold shower would be able to stop the rising tide.

He fretted for a second, weighing the pros and cons, trying to decide which way to go, but then she tugged at his hand and he rose without thought and wrapped his hands around her face. "Are you sure?" he nearly whispered.

She slipped her hands onto his chest, trailed her fingers over it, then carefully, gently pulled his t-shirt out of his jeans. "Ask me that again," she suggested with a smile on her lips.

The second time around nearly blew his mind. She was most definitely not Alicia, and she had cards up her sleeves he hadn't even dreamt of. She was all hands, soft, warm and pliable and she left him in complete control all the time. She made no noise, but her reactions were very human and her response to him gave him everything he had ever needed. Her skin was honey sweet and hot as a furnace and he felt himself falling for her in more ways than one. His rational mind shut down at some point and he forgot himself in her embrace, forgot his past and his present, forgot his anger and disappointment, the fear of his would-be fate, the annoyance with his brother. It all swam away on a tidal wave of blistering desire, and when it was over, he was spent, body and mind alike.

He fell asleep and for the first time in a long time, he slept without dreams, without nightmares.

***