AN: Hi everyone! I'm back! I bet you thought this story was abandoned, but nope. I don't know if anyone is still reading this, but I have so much fun writing Nicole and Dean that I had to come back to them. This is a big chapter for their relationship so let me know what you think!

Dean woke first the next morning. The angle of the sun coming in through the ratty curtains in their room told him it was much later than he usually slept. He could hear Sam snoring on the other side of the room and blinking his eyes open, he realized that the weight pinning his shoulder to the mattress was Nicole curled up along his side. The clock next to their bed read 10am. He and Nicole had been asleep for about 6 hours, but Sammy probably only got about 3 or 4 so Dean would definitely be driving today. He didn't know how hot their trail was following Nicole's destruction of that animal hospital, but the smartest thing would be to get out of dodge as fast as possible. They had been continuing south for the last week, following Cas's news that the alpha was likely hiding out in New Orleans, but Dean wasn't so sure continuing on that path was the best idea right now. All someone would have to do to catch up with them was follow the trajectory over the last few stops. As much as he knew Nicole was going to hate it, they needed to swerve.

Nicole felt her head jostling, waking her from the first restful sleep she'd had in weeks. Groaning, she blinked her eyes open to see Dean awkwardly stretched out beneath her trying to reach his cell phone on the night table without moving her too much.

"Too late Dean-o. I'm awake."

He looked sheepishly at her. "Sorry, sweetheart." Instead of a snarky remark or being punched in the ribs for calling her sweetheart like Dean expected, Nicole surprised him by wrapping her arms tighter around him and pulling him closer. It was hard to believe that not too long ago, Nicole couldn't stand cuddling.

"It's okay." She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, the scent of Dean overwhelming her. Last night was one of the first nights she hadn't had a nightmare about draining and killing her friends since they had left Bobby's and she suspected it was because she finally opened up to the brothers about her struggle and get that stress off her shoulders… and the weight of Dean's arm across her and his warm body next to hers permeated her dreams and grounded her enough to keep the nightmares at bay. Her peaceful bubble was soon interrupted as her stomach growled loudly and her throat began to burn with hunger.

"Ugh!" Nicole rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling. "It didn't use to be this bad. I don't get it," She said, mostly to herself. Getting out of bed, she tried to walk as quietly as possible to the mini fridge in the room to get some of the blood that Sam had so kindly gone out to get for her in the early hours of the morning. Draining an entire bottle in less than a minute, Nicole sighed. With the rate she was going through blood, she might as well move into an animal hospital. Looking down at her phone, Nicole checked her messages from her sister, and looks at the picture that Allison sent her of her cat and catches sight of the date. While on the road all the time, it's easy to lose track of the days and even forget what day of the week it is, but it's nearly July and she's been on the road with the Wichester's for nearly a month and a half and it feels like they are barely closer to finding the cure than they were back in May when she first got turned.

Nicole felt a prickle of anxiety creeping up her spine. She had to be back at school in a little under two months. She needed this cure and she needed it soon. Shivering at the thought of being stuck like this forever, Nicole looked outside. The sun was shining and she didn't think that she could stand to be stuck in this quiet hotel room for a second longer. Grabbing a hooded jacket and her sunglasses, she headed outside to enjoy as much of the sun as she could stand. A few minutes later, Dean came out to join her. He hopped up on the trunk of the impala next to her and squeezed her leg reassuringly.

Shivering from his touch, Nicole pulled the sleeves of her jacket down pretending she was cold.

"So where do we go from here?"

"For starters," Dean sighed, "we should alter our path to avoid being tracked."

Nicole groaned and dropped her head towards the ground.

"I know you want to get south as quickly as possible so we can get to this Alpha, but if anyone has been following us or backtracks our movements, it would be pretty easy to guess what direction we would be heading in." Dean turned to take in the woman next to him. The dark circles under her eyes looked just as bad today as they had been the last few weeks. The 6 hours they had managed last night clearly weren't enough to chip away at her exhaustion. Before he could stop himself, Dean reached out and cupped her cheek, his thumb rubbing along the soft purple skin under her eye. He wanted nothing more than to lean in and kiss the worried lines off her face, but her words in Bobby's kitchen rang through his head and he pulled away again.

Nicole let out the breath she had been holding and swallowed down the disappointment she hated herself for feeling. "Should I go wake Sam so we can get on the road?" She asked and Dean nodded.

20 minutes later they were piled back into the car. Nicole gave Sam the back seat and her noise cancelling headphones so he could get a few more hours of sleep, so she sat in the front with Dean, covered from the sun as much as possible. They had decided to head west, despite the fact that they were one state away from Louisiana. Dean insisted that they had to "swerve" for safety. By the time they crossed over into Texas, Dean had found a case in El Paso for them to work in the meantime. They'd been driving for a few hours already, but decided to continue to Dallas before stopping for the night.

After the rough few days they'd had, they decided to treat themselves to a nice hotel again and Nicole couldn't help the smile that broke across her face as they walked into the bright lobby. She squeezed Sam's arm in excitement seeing an outdoor pool of the lobby and practically ran up into the room as soon they were given their keys. Without feeling the slightest bit uncomfortable about it after last night, Nicole put her bags right on the bed by the door, Dean's bed, and threw herself onto the soft mattress. As Dean followed her in, he caught her eye, noticed where she had made herself comfortable and let a small smile spread across his face.

As soon as the sun went down, Nicole ended her video chat with Allison, during it over to Sam, and rushed down to the pool in the one bathing suit she had packed. When Dean said that he would come and join her, she wished she had packed a cuter one, but this would have to do.

Everyone else had cleared out from the pool when they walked in so they had the whole thing to themselves. The palm trees around the pool and the underwater lights flickering beneath the surface made their little corner of Dallas feel like a tropical paradise. Nicole wasted no time in jumping right in.

Dean settled himself on the edge, content to watch Nicole pop in and out of the water. He wasn't much of a swimmer, but didn't want Nicole to be out here alone when they still didn't know who had faked demonic signs in Arkansas or why.

"Are you really going to sit on the edge and let me swim by myself all night?" Nicole cocked her head at Dean and stood fully out of the water.

"You seem to be having fun all on your own, sweetheart." He smirked at her and splashed her with his foot. Surprisingly no rebuke came for his use of his favorite pet name for her. Instead, Nicole splashed him back and came to lean on the pool wall next to where he was sitting.

"You wouldn't think so being that I live in Phoenix, but I love being in the water. Can we go somewhere near the ocean next?"

Dean looked straight ahead to avoid glancing down at Nicole's exposed chest. "You know what's on the water? New Orleans. You find us a beach near there after we find the alpha, and we can go."

Leaning her shoulder into Dean's side, she smiled up at him. "Thank you!"

Before Dean could blink, the sweet moment was over as Nicole suddenly grabbed him around the waist and yanked him into the water with a splash.

Dean resurfaced and the look on his face made heat flash across her body. "You're going to pay for that," he vowed as he lunged at her.

With a shriek, Nicole dove away from him. She was a much better swimmer than Dean, but the pool was only so big and he had long arms. There was a lot of screaming and splashing involved, but it was only a matter of time before Dean had trapped her. The moment his arms wrapped around her, Nicole stopped fighting. She was gasping for air from their game of chase and the feeling of his skin against her back did nothing to help her regain control of it. Her mind was on a loop telling her not to do what her body was screaming at her to do, but she could barely hear her own thoughts over the sound of her heart pounding in her ears.

Dean's one arm tightened around her waist and the other went to her shoulder, slowly stroking down her arm to grab her hand. What was he doing?

Nicole's mind was chanting "bad idea, bad idea, bad idea," on a loop, but the moment Dean's hand slid across her stomach, she stopped listening to it. Turning in his arms, he was immediately on her. There was no hesitation or easing into this kiss. Nicole grabbed the back of Dean's head and pulled him hard against her as his grip on her hips tightened almost painfully.

"Dean," she whispered against his lips. "We can't" His face turned white and he backed away from her immediately.

"I thought... " he started then swallowed the rest of the words. "Okay."

Smiling, Nicole reached for him again. "No, I mean not here. Not in a public pool." As realization dawned on him, Dean gave her a wicked grin and murmured follow me. He quickly scoped out the small locker room off the side of the pool deck as the most private place around and pulled her towards it.

As soon as they entered the locker room, Dean pulled one of the benches in front of the door to hold it shut and hoisted Nicole on to the counter. She immediately flashed back to their last night in Phoenix at her old bar when Dean kissed her on a different bathroom counter.

"Dean," she pulled away to look at him, "You're not going to freak out again are you?"

He looked skyward and sighed. "You're never going to let me live that down, are you? But no I'm not."

"Even if I do this?" Nicole leaned forward and nipped him playfully on the neck, which caused Dean to press into her even harder. Before things got too far, Nicole hopped off the counter and led Dean into one of the shower stalls. If they couldn't go back to the room, at least a shower was a step up from a sink counter. As Dean pushed her against the cool wall, she wouldn't help but laugh to herself at the fact that they kept ending up here despite both hers and Dean's best efforts to avoid each other since Bobby's house.

Thoughts of Dean flirting hard with other women in front of her over the last few weeks flew from her mind as Dean slid down her bathing suit bottoms and kissed his way down her leg. As he stood back up, he hooked his arms under her legs and hoisted her up. Nicole couldn't get her top off fast enough and dumped it on to the shower floor next to their bottoms. Dean's lips mixed in with the warm water running over her chest and Nicole arched her back to get closer to him.

Dean pulled back to stare into her green eyes. "Are you sure?" He asked.

"Absolutely." Nicole grinned as she pulled him towards her.

When the pair finally made their way back to the hotel room, they crept quietly in the door to not wake Sam who was snoring loudly in the other bed, trying to make up for the rocky nights sleep he had had recently. They slipped quietly into bed, but neither could find sleep.

"Dean," Nicole whispered into the darkness. He grunted in acknowledgement. "We can't keep doing this and then pretending it never happened."

He was silent for a long moment. "I know," he whispered back. "I just don't know where we go from here."

Nicole rolled towards him. She couldn't see him in the dark so she reached up to put a hand on his face. "I can't think about anything right now except getting this cure, but we don't have to have all the answers now." She felt Dean nod under her hand.

"I'm done staying away from you though," he whispered. Nicole smiled and leaned in to kiss him softly. "Me too, Dean. Me too."

AN: Anyone still here? Let me know what you think! Please review!