When she awoke the next morning, it was to a strange feeling. She felt happier and more settled than she’d felt in a very long time. Not only did she feel like herself physically for the first time in several days, but she was next to a man she loved who loved her. When was the last time she could have said that?
She knew it like she had always known it. That somehow they connected in a way she didn’t connect with Dean or Sam or anyone else she knew. It was more than that, and she knew it wasn’t the delusion of someone love-struck into blindness. She saw things so much clearer now than she had when they had come, and she was well aware that everything had led them to this moment.
At some point Nick had rolled over onto his back, his body still close to hers. She knew it was a habit of someone used to sleeping alone – she was sleeping with her back to him for the same reason - so she rolled over onto her other side and slid an arm across his chest. He stirred a little and put his hand over hers before settling into sleep again.
Making love to him had been an entirely new experience. She’d been sleeping with Dean all week, sure, but when he kissed her it was always full of anger or heat, or both. When Nick kissed her, it could be anything - passionate or sweet or gentle. And with Nick she felt it all the way to her toes. With Dean – she grinned to herself – the feeling was focused in one very specific part of her body.
Oh, no question, she’d enjoyed what they’d done. She would remember for a long time, with great clarity, the feeling of his hands grasping her hips and his tongue on her throat while she buried one hand in his hair, and used the other to grip the edge of the kitchen counter. And the tangle in the back of the car-! She couldn’t remember the last time she’d been driven over the edge repeatedly like that. She blushed. And with such force. Good god.
But it was sex, and just sex. Last night, however, had been incredible in ways she hadn’t expected. There was a connection there she didn’t have with anybody else.
She dozed off snuggled next to Nick, and when he started to awaken, he slid an arm around her and pulled her close.
“This ranks up there with the strangest cases we’ve ever tackled,” Sam said, packing up his clothes.
“Yeah, you got that right,” Dean agreed, picking up his bag and walking out into the hallway. “On SO many levels.”
Sam chuckled. He’d be glad to get back on the road. This whole thing had been strange and a little unsettling, but at least it felt like it had reached the proper resolution.
In Alex’s room, she and Nick were sitting on her bed, which was made, playing what appeared to be Peanut with two decks of cards. Both were fully dressed and the door was wide open, and the two were laughing over how badly the game was going.
Alex looked up when she saw Dean out of the corner of her eye.
“Are you leaving?” she asked.
“And miss one of Sunny’s breakfasts?” Dean said. “Oh no. Not yet. You?”
“Later this morning,” Alex said, slapping Nick’s hand as he tried to hand her some cards she didn’t want. “Knock it off, you tool.” He laughed.
“Um, sorry about that,” Alex said to Dean, meaning the interruption. “A couple of Doug’s owners want his opinions on the horseflesh at the sale. So we’re going over later this morning to help.”
“He let us off work to help with this case,” Nick said, successfully adding some cards to Alex’s pile and earning her mock scowl for it.
“I wouldn’t say this was much of a vacation,” Alex amended wryly.
“So it’s back to horses after this, huh?” Sam asked, appearing in the doorway as well.
“Safer,” Nick said. “She keeps hitting me with that brace. It’s got a metal rod in it, did you know that? It leaves a bruise.”
“I didn’t hit you on purpose,” Alex protested. “He sneaks up on people, he shouldn’t complain about getting whacked. Anyway, it helped me with that nasty dog, so I’m not gonna complain. And neither should you.”
Nick put both hands up in surrender.
“Not complaining,” he said. “And I didn’t mean to sneak, I was aiming for a hug, not a black eye.” But he grinned at her and she patted his cheek in mock-pity.
“So how are you feeling this morning?” Sam asked Alex.
“Like myself again, 100 percent, finally,” Alex said.
“Crap, Sammy, move, she’s gonna eat us both alive,” Dean said, and bolted. Alex laughed as Sam followed, giving Alex a look as he departed that said, ‘he’s really not related to me.’
Nick looked warily over at Alex.
“You aren’t going to, are you?” he said, mostly kidding.
For his answer, Alex pounced, scattering cards everywhere.
Breakfast was a noisy affair, full of pancake flour and fresh blueberries from Sunny’s garden. Nick and Alex flicked flour at each other until Sunny intervened. Dean tried to toss blueberries in the air and catch them in his mouth, and was doing well until Sam started snatching them out of mid-air and eating them himself. Sam and Nick helped with the cooking, while Alex and Dean volunteered to help with cleanup, and Sunny seemed to enjoy the noise and chaos now that the problem had been resolved.
Once the meal was gone, they sat around the table and talked for a while about day-to-day things – recipes for good pasta, of which Sunny had a ton; why demons always showed up in slinky dresses, which no one could answer; and whether Sunny wanted help with cleanup, which she did. Nick offered his assistance with all the laundry they’d left, and Sam followed them upstairs to strip the beds and remake them, while Dean put away the extra food and Alex finished the dishes carefully, keeping her brace out of the water.
“Change your mind about this hunting thing?” he asked, trying to get a Gladware lid to fit on its base.
Alex leaned over and snapped it closed with her good hand.
“No,” she said. “You’d think so, but no. Anyway, it’s not like this is a full-time thing. We just help out when the situation arises.”
“You say that now, but you’ll have trouble letting it go after a while,” Dean said.
“That may be,” Alex acknowledged. “But for now, I’m going to keep riding and let the rest of it figure itself out. That seems to work for me.”
“As long as you don’t end up hellhound food, I guess I can handle it,” Dean said.
Alex flicked soapy water at him.
“Thanks for your permission, Uncle Dean,” she said, teasingly.
Nick came downstairs with a handful of sheets and towels and began to sort them in the laundry room. Alex dried off her hands and went over to help him sort, and in a few minutes they were busy talking horses like nothing unusual had ever happened.