They had been driving for half an hour, and the scenery hadn't changed an ounce. Just trees, trees, and more trees. They really were in the back end of nowhere.
The conversation was pretty stilted, bouncing between random topics and silence. They had covered basic hunting technique, how Garth had come into the business, and how he'd met his Guru (on a hunt, apparently). Mainly Garth prattled on, talking about anything that floated into his mind, which seemed to be a broad range of subjects. Sam spent a lot of the journey thinking about Dean back at the hut, and Cas. He didn't worry too much; Cas had been asleep for days, and the situation seemed unlikely to change, but still the thought of Dean alone plagued him. As he felt the guilt crawl across him, he shook himself.
"You sure you know where we're going, Garth?" Sam asked, peering out of the window.
"Relax, Sam; it's definitely around here somewhere. Just gotta find the carpark."
"Their nest is near a car park?" Sam repeated incredulously, looking back at the man.
"Makes sense, doesn't it?" The smaller hunter smiled, sending Sam a wink. "Easy pickings on hikers, plus they totally rig the parking meter over here."
"Mmhmm." He confirmed. "It was my first lead, too; people complaining about the sky high price of parking for the woods, yet apparently there's no formal group running parking schemes in the area." Garth explained, sounding fairly smug at himself, as he, as Sam suspected, repeated what he'd been told.
"What?" Sam asked in disbelief.
"Yuhuh. And you know what? I heard about this one guy, over in En-ger-land," he drawled. "Set up a parking meter in a zoo. Ran it for fifteen years, then one day, bam, didn't come into work. Turned out wasn't hired by the zoo, or the council or whatever."
"Vamp?" Sam scoffed, and Garth side-eyed him.
"Nah, man. Barbados, or something."
"Right." Sam shook his head. "How do you know that the guy running this one isn't just in it for the money?"
"Because it'd be downright stupid to set one up over here. Barely any commuters."
Sam stared at him in disbelief for a minute. "Do you realise how you sound right now?"
Garth glanced back. "Well, there's all that, and the missing persons, neck contusions on corpses, and the rumours of nocturnal folk round here."
Sam held his position for a few more seconds, before starting to laugh. "If this ends up being nothing, I am going to be so pissed."
"I dragged you away from something, didn't I?" Garth asked, shucking his head sympathetically. "I could sense it when I walked in."
"Uh, yeah," Sam shrugged. "Kinda."
"Wanna talk about it?" He nodded over his shoulder. "I could even get Mister Fizzles out; might help?"
"Uh, no. Thanks." Sam said, looking straight out at the road. He didn't know what Mister Fizzles might be, but figured he probably didn't want to know.
"You sure?" Garth checked. "Sometimes I find all you need is a fresh ear in the sitch. Could do a world of good."
"Yeah, that's not gonna work this time." He sighed.
The smaller man shrugged. "Doesn't have to work all the way." He stopped talking and dropped it, leaving them to drive in silence. It was a few minutes before Sam responded.
"A friend of ours came back recently, and he's really sick. Like, don't know if he's gonna make it, sick." He summed up, not looking at Garth, but feeling his stare on him.
"Rough break." Was the answer, and Sam's mouth twitched at the corner. "Guy have a name?"
"Uh, Cas." Sam breathed out. He wasn't sure how Dean would react to him telling Garth, though he could guess it wouldn't be particularly well, but there was something about the tiny man that just made Sam feel comfortable. Dean was right when he said that he grew on you.
"Cas?" Garth repeated. "No, that rings a bell. Bobby mentioned him, said he was..." He looked back up.
"He was." Sam agreed. "Or, we thought he was. We're not too sure about what happened there, to be honest. But he's back."
"And he's sick."
"Yeah." Sam looked down, voice gruff. "There was a fight, and he uh..." Sam looked back at Garth. "Saved Dean. But got himself like this."
"I can see why you wanna keep him around." Garth smiled. "And Dean's beating himself up over it?"
"Well, yeah." Sam agreed, a hidden 'obviously' in his tone. "But it's more than that. Before he went in the first place, things weren't great. Cas went dark-side."
Garth didn't say anything, just continued listening.
"And just as Dean was getting past it, this happens."
Garth whistled. "Man, you're right. Talking ain't gonna fix that one."
Sam chuckled softly. "Right?"
"It's like this hunter I knew, Tamara. One of the best, once she got into it. She hunted with her husband, but he died."
"Tamara?" Sam squinted in thought, and his face fell slightly, remembering. "Yeah, I remember her." He didn't mention his involvement in the story.
"She always said, never hunt as a couple." Garth nodded. "After he died, anyhow. Hurts too much when Death gets ya." Garth glanced over. "'Sides you and Dean, anyway; that death thing never seemed to get between you two."
"How long were Dean and Cas together, anyhow?"
"Uh," Sam did the math in his head. "Three, four years?" He blinked as he digested what Garth had asked. "Dean and Cas weren't together."
Garth raised his eyebrows. "Man, oops." He giggled. "Bobby always made 'em sound like they were. 'If those idjits would stop with the damn bedroom eyes, we coulda stopped three apocalypses by now.'" He imitated, in what, Sam had to admit, was actually quite close.
Sam just laughed again, smiling at the smaller hunter. "I dunno, sometimes I think there's something more there, but..."
Garth shrugged. "When my cousin came out, we had to act like it was this huge surprise. Like we hadn't seen he was dating the lifeguard down the road for the last three years."
"The interior decorator?" Sam inquired, remembering their earlier conversation. Garth frowned at him, shaking his head.
"No, man. Paul's as straight as they come. Stu's the one with the boyfriend. He works in a bank." His face broke into a smile, looking out of the widow a he pulled over the car. "We're here!"
Sam looked out at the countryside around them, seeing that there was, indeed, a small parking lot. He even saw the meter, which Garth headed straight for as soon as he stepped out. Sam glanced around, noticing one other car parked near them. He checked out the ticket on the dash, seeing that it was six days old, but it didn't have any accompanying fines. Perhaps Garth was right.
"Ah, man." He heard Garth sigh, and he looked round. "You got a buck I can borrow?"