Sam had come to accept a certain level of weirdness in his life, and to a great degree it didn't really faze him...though being crammed next to his zombie father on the literal kidde ride from hell hit new levels of awkward, if nothing else.
His father, on the other hand, cheerfully plowed forward, oblivious to Sam's discomfort. It was just like being in high school all over again.
"So...how's your mother?"
"Uh, fine? I guess." Sam fidgeted for a second, but cramped quarters forced him to stop.
"Good, good. So tell me, how are things with Andi?"
"Look, Dad...no offense, but isn't this kind of a bad time for a father-son chat?"
His dad looked around thoughtfully, taking in the landscapes of the damned, the stupid little train, and Sam, still dressed in his Work Bench best and looking green around the gills. He shrugged.
"I just wanted to spend some real quality time with you. All these months in hell, I've missed our, you know. I've missed my family."
Sam slumped back in his seat and blew out a breath. Not that he wished his dad was dead and gone in the normal sense or anything, but it seemed cosmically unfair that his father was still around to lay down guilt trips about dying.
"Sorry. I'm just, you know. Hell. It's very stressful," he said with some heat.
"I understand. Why are you doing here in hell, anyway? Not that I'm not glad to see you, Sam, but uh, Hell is not exactly Cancun."
"So I've heard," Sam remarked wryly.
"Nothing. Inside joke." Sam explained. "Nah, I don't know. Devil business or something."
"Ah. Gotcha. You watch out while you're down here."
"It's Hell. I sort of guessed," Sam said drily, eyebrows arching in amusement.
"No, I mean it. There are some bad crowds that run around here, and you need to steer clear of them, and that's that."
Sam was unable to escape the feeling he'd just been forbidden from hanging out with the creepy kid down the street.
"Fine, Dad. It's not like I was going to run off and join like...a hell gang or anything."
"Sam-!" His father bit off whatever he was going to say, pursed his lips, and glanced heavenward, as if praying for guidance, which should have been funnier than it actually was.
"Sorry! I just don't know what you want me to do!" Sam said, exasperation getting the better of him. "I didn't want to be here, and it's not like I've got a lot of choice about any of this."
His dad nodded gamely, but he frowned, looking both concerned and parental. Sam was reminded of that time he'd confessed to failing biology.
"I want you to be safe. I swear to God, I just want you to be safe, and that's it."
"Ok, Dad. Sure." He rolled his eyes. Why does he have to always go so weird at such awkward moments, Sam bitched to he reconsidered. That was weird? Compared to zombie-dad and , you know, hell? Maybe Andi was right. They were getting too used to this.
"So!" his father said brightly, "How's Andi?"
Sam felt his shoulders slump. Fantastic. Just as he resigned himself to another eternity of awkward conversation, a sly thought presented itself: maybe brutal honesty would head it off at the pass.
"She sold her soul to the devil so I could challenge him to a game of quarters," he said all in one breath.
"You know, the whole getting out of my deal thing."
His father looked flabbergasted.
"You challenged him to quarters?" his father blurted, unable to contain himself, too shocked to even begin to process that.
Hah! Sam thought, proud for half a second before he remember how not good it all was.
"It's what I'm good at," Sam said, stubbornness creeping into his tone.
"You lost, then?" His father asked sharply. "Dammit."
"I wouldn't have if Steve hadn't broken my hand," Sam said, suddenly feeling more than a little defensive.
"Steve...? Demon security system designer, Steve?"
"You knew Steve?" Sam gaped at his father. Point to his dad: apparently shock could be a two way street.
"Of course, who do you think designed the system for the house?"
Sam shook himself and tried to stop gaping like a fish. "He isn't a demon any more. He's an angel but he totally sold us out."
"An angel?! But- " His father cut himself off, and then pulled himself together "Right. Hmm." He looked pensive.
"So, uh, why didn't you leave with Nina?" Sam asked, eager to hit the ball of awkward conversational topics back into his father's court. He wasn't sure when it had turned into a contest.
His father hesitated. "I still have things to do. And you still need to get out of your contract," he said heartily.
The train lurched its way up another hill, and Sam found himself lurching to the next incredibly awkward conversation topic.
'So, you're looking less...dead."
"I am, I am. Hell has been good for me. Well, you know, not...but still. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to not worry about body parts falling off."
"Rigght." Damn. Point to his dad again.
"I'm halfway to figuring a way to keep it like this," his dad said with some confidence, "and then it'll be just like old times." He smiled a nostalgic little smile.
"O-kay then," Sam said, surrendering. There were no winners in the game of "Awkward Conversations with Your Dad," even in circumstances as strange as these.
The train chugged its way up and over a bridge.
"Oh, look at that," his dad said, looking down at the murky waters below. Guess this is my stop."
Sam gave him a bewildered look. The train was still in motion and gave no sign of stopping.
"It was good to see you Sam. Hopefully next time it'll be up top," his Dad said, standing as best he could in the little cabin. He began clambering out the side.
"Wait! What are you doing?" Sam demanded, leaping forward and grabbing at his father.
"Take care!" His dad shouted back at him, before leaping off the train and plunging into the swamp below with remarkable aplomb...and good form, too. Nary a ripple could be seen on the surface.
Sam stared aghast at the waters below until it pulled out of sight. He collapsed back down into the uncomfortable little bench feeling just a little shell shocked over the whole thing. He almost didn't notice as the train finally chugged its way to a stop outside some great stone walls.
"Ah, there you are," the Devil said brightly, appearing out of nowhere for all Sam knew. "Good. Let's go, Sammy-boy, get a move on already."
Dazed, Sam let the Devil drag him off the train. He trailed after him somewhat reluctantly, honestly too overwhelmed to put up much of a fight. His life was weird.