this story continues from http://pheebs1. with permission

Dean gets rid of the spider and shoves the laptop toward Sam. He grabs the journal and flips it open, trying to figure out what the hell to look for - not like Dad had step-by-step instructions for what to do when Princess Sam started living his gender studies dream - and notices, belatedly, the complete silence from Sam's side of the table. No fingers tapping impatiently on the keyboard or the table, no absent-minded humming. Sam hasn't even turned the damn thing on.

"Sam?" he asks, keeping his voice as gruff as possible; he's not in the mood for any more caring and sharing.

Sam wraps his arms around himself and rocks a little in his seat. "Cramps," he whispers, sounding exhausted. Dean slouches in his chair, hoping that whatever did this to Sam can feel pain.

Twenty minutes later, he's got some mocha-whipped cream concoction in one hand and a bottle of Motrin in the other, and Sam's curled up in a ball on one of the beds. Sam doesn't even open his eyes before accusing, "You forgot the heating pad."

Dean heroically refrains from delivering the Motrin to an address where the sun never shines.

Sam, it turns out, is as bad a singer as a soprano as he is as a tenor. It makes Dean's throat hurt to hear Sam forcing his voice to that high register, and, incidentally, his ears bleed as well.

Sam's lousy enough that it takes Dean ten whole minutes to realize that Sam's singing one of his insane medleys, lyrics from a million different songs all jumbled together, regardless of the songs' keys. When Britney Spears fades into Belinda Carlisle, he leaves the motel room and pees into the gutter outside in protest. At least one part of him is happy now.

Sam refuses to leave the room, protesting that he doesn't want anyone to see him "like this." Fine. Dean can be the errand boy if Sam will be research girl. But every time he comes back to the room with food or clothes or newspapers, Sam's still on the same page of his book but there are several more tiny braids in his hair.

Dean sharpens his favorite knife and tests the blade with a hair plucked from his own head. He thinks that's pretty clear.

They haven't made any progress by nightfall, but when Dean comes out of the shower, desperately ready for sleep, Sam kisses his cheek good-night and Dean knows he can put up with this for as long as it lasts.