A/N: Sometimes it's fun to write silly things. Hope you enjoy.

Shiny Stores and Zombies

By Deanie McQueen


Dean did not approve.

He did not approve of the shiny plants, the shiny floors, or the kiosk salesman with the flat irons. His hair was fine and stylish just like it was, thank you, and he warned off their eager hands and instruments with narrowed eyes.

There were more things, of course. Dean did not approve of the crowds, the bright lights, or the happy way the lady at the information booth smiled. He did not approve of the pizza in the food court (not enough grease), the toilets next to the Build-a-Bear (not enough paper towels), or the mattresses in the Serta store (not enough privacy).

He'd told some of these things to Sam when they'd first arrived, and Sam had waved it off with a shake of his prissy little hand. "Calm down," he'd said, as Dean navigated the parking garage with clenched fists. "We go in, we find Harold and ask a few questions, and we're out. Okay? And do we really have to park so far away?"

"Yes," Dean gritted out, and parked the farthest away he possibly could. There was no telling how terrible these mall-goers could drive; he seriously mistrusted the skill of anyone who deliberately drove a mini-van. Such things were trashy and unclean.

In any case, they eventually wandered into the mall, intent on finding their next witness to the ghostly activity on Hudson Street. Mrs. Jackie, the kindergarten teacher with the bright yellow overalls, had heard from Penelope who'd heard from her gardener Percy that Harold had actually seen one of the ghosts firsthand. It was vital that Sam and Dean questioned this Harold character in order to discover what they were dealing with. They needed a clue as to who the ghost might be before they could finish the job.

Harold was eventually found working in a store with an absurd amount of red tags and signs marked with bold reduction sales. Dean wasn't quite sure what the store sold, only that every able-bodied female was hurriedly snatching up things and waiting in incredibly long lines.

They spied Harold working a register, scanning item after item with a glazed expression. Dean groaned; this was going to take forever.

As the bigger and obviously more generous brother, Dean offered to wait until Harold's break and question him alone. He really couldn't think of much else he wanted to see in the mall, but he should have known something was amiss when Sam nearly buzzed with glee at the opportunity to escape.

"I'll be back soon!" Sam called, weaving his way around hoards of ladies pouncing on discounted goods. "Promise!"

That was two hours ago.

In what Dean considered a happy turn of events, Harold was quickly relieved by a bouncy teenager with curls. Dean wandered over and took advantage, introducing himself as the nephew of Great Uncle Clancy's kid and questioning Harold about what he'd seen on Hudson Street.

Harold told him what he'd seen ("A little girl in a poodle skirt and wooden clogs, how uncomfortable, eh?") and offered to show Dean to the food court when they'd finished, as he was on his lunch break.

Walking, Harold kept up a steady stream of chatter. "You'll love the Chinese place. If you love Chinese, that is. If you don't, then that's a bit of a problem but there are always other places to love. Like Keith's! Keith makes amazing roast beef sandwiches. Well. I'm not he makes them personally, you know, but maybe you know something I don't, eh? But you've never been here before, so that's quite impossible. Or is it? Do ghosts tell you these types of things? I wouldn't think ghosts would care one way or another about roast beef. But they should. Do you like chicken? My grandmother Edna, well. That's what my father called her. Anyway. Nana Eddy made the best chicken pot pie in the world, and—"

Dean did his very, very best to tune Harold out, already wishing he was zooming away in the Impala. Harold struck Dean as the type of man that should be hit repeatedly with a pint glass. Fortunately for Harold, Keith sold his drinks in cans.

Harold disappeared when Dean asked in a rather rude way, and Dean was left with the task of finding his brother. Sam did pick up his phone when he called, but Dean couldn't hear anything over a loud roar of talkative people. Wherever Sammy was, it was crowded.

The list of Things Dean Does Not Approve Of grew as he looked for his brother, dodging baby-strollers and gift bags of all shapes and sizes. His feet ached and his ears were tired of the crappy mall music. He just wanted to go back to the motel.

The longer it took, the more worried he got. Where the hell could Sam possibly be? Tendrils of worry latched onto Dean's nerves, squeezing them and making his heart beat faster. What if what he thought was loud conversation on the phone was really something else? What if it was something dangerous? It was unlike Sam to be gone for so long without checking in. Sammy wasn't allowed to be irresponsible.

All of these thoughts were racing through Dean's mind as he passed the front of a very shiny, gray and white store. He nearly had to narrow his eyes at the brightness of the lights and the absolutely overwhelming number of people in the small space, all of them talking.

Talking.

Dean slowed down and spotted Sam in an instant. He was talking animatedly with what had to be a sales rep, who was wearing a shirt with a half-bitten fruit on it.

Dean frowned. This? This is where his brother had been? Dean had walked through this dismal mall for hours just to find Sam happily surrounded by lots of shiny things. The injustice of it all made him want to growl.

Steeling himself, Dean walked into the store and nearly ran into a cheerful hipster in skinny jeans and another silly fruit shirt.

"Hi!" the kid said brightly, and brushed the bangs out of his face. "Would you like to try out the iPhone, iTouch, or iPad today?"

"I don't need a pad," Dean said stiffly, and left the kid to attack another new customer. The place was packed, stuffy and smelling faintly of sweat and the bloodlust of the geeks that roamed around. "Sam!" Not caring that Sam was in the middle of a conversation, Dean pulled his brother back by his shoulder. "Where the hell have you been? I finished up with Harold hours ago, man."

"Uh," Sam did look mildly embarrassed, but he stood his ground. He set down some kind of rectangular screen and gestured to the person on his right. "I was talking to Sally."

"Sally," Dean repeated.

"Hi!" Sally said.

Dean glared.

Sam cleared his throat. "Look, I'm sorry. I just lost track of time, alright? I didn't even know they had an Apple Store until we walked in, so it's not like I planned it. You said you'd question Harold and I really only meant to stay for a little bit but Dean," Sam paused dramatically, and Dean could see Sam's inner geek nearly glow, "You should see the stuff they have here! Look at this," Sam picked up whatever it was he was holding before, while Sally shifted on the balls of her feet. "It's called an iPad. This one gets 3G and you have to pay extra for that, of course, but you'd have Internet access anywhere you went. And! And look at the screen! I didn't even know they had an app for calorie counting, but they do. There are games, too. I was playing this one earlier with these plants and zombies and—"

Sam's geek talk washed in one ear and out the other, but Dean perked up near the end. "Zombies?" he asked.

Knowing he'd struck gold, Sam grinned harder. "Yeah, man. Zombies. You kill them with plants."

"Plants?" Dean frowned.

Sam nodded enthusiastically. "Plants and mushrooms and the occasional chili pepper. It's really neat."

"Would you like to try it?" Sally decided this was the perfect time to butt in. She was a small little thing, but her voice was strong and clear. "It's a fun little game, if you're interested. Your brother's really good." She said this last bit with a hint of a blush, eyes downcast.

Dean opened his mouth, ready to agree because he was always willing to kick zombie ass, when he remembered his place. Dean Winchester did not approve of overly shiny technology, either. It disturbed him that he couldn't touch and feel the music in his hands, that Cherry Pie was just a few pixels on a screen instead of a song on a cassette he'd had for ages. He liked going to libraries sometimes, damn it, and anything sold in a store so white and clean couldn't be trustworthy. Sam drooled over the shit because he'd clearly been corrupted one way or another, not because these fruit machines were worthwhile.

"Dean?" Sam nudged Dean's shoulder, that awful puppy-dog expression softening his eyes and puffing out his lips. "Don't you want to try?"

Dean looked at the shiny screen in Sam's hands and heard the tell-tale signs of zombie growls. His fingers itched for a gun or a sharp gardening tool, but he had to remain steadfast. Winchesters did not need such things for entertainment.

"You probably wouldn't be able to beat it anyway," Sam sighed too dramatically, taking back the screen and tapping out a few commands.

Oh, please. Dean knew exactly what Sam was trying to do, as he'd been doing it since before he'd graduated from velcro sneakers. Dean sighed back, casting his eyes out towards the mall and the hope of an exit beyond. "You know I could," he said, just because.

"Maybe, maybe not." With a pitiful expression of longing, Sam turned the thing off and set it back down on the table. "Guess we'll never know."

Goddamnit all.

"Sally?" Dean turned toward their ever-present guest, smiling sweetly. "I'd like to see an eye-touchy. Could you go grab one? Thanks," he said, and grabbed roughly at Sam's sleeve as soon as she'd bounced away. "How many things have you bought with Giles Anderson's card?" he growled.

A small, hesitant smile bloomed on Sam's face. "Just the snacks at the last Moto-Mart. Why?"

This was dangerous. This was dangerous and stupid and Dean shouldn't be rewarding his brother with ridiculous technology every time he wandered off. They didn't need this thing, but Dean was willing to sacrifice quite a bit of pride if it meant he could see his brother smile. Also, he was desperate to leave the shiny store.

"Fine," he bit out. "Buy it. But I want the zombies."

He could have sworn Sam squeed. "You can have the zombies," he said happily, "You can have all the zombies you want, Dean. Wave after wave of them. And some of them have road cone hats and there are football ones and crotchety old newspaper-reading ones and you can build wall nuts and plant sunflowers and there's this really crazy guy with a pot for a hat and—"

Dean tuned the rest out, already walking out of the store. He didn't care what the zombies wore or looked like. He'd kill them, even if it meant sacrificing a bit of his pride.

He turned around in time to see Sam clutching a white box with uncontrolled glee. Sam looked up at him at the same time and mouthed something that could have been thank you, and Dean felt just the smallest bit mollified.

Smiles were always a good thing to see on a brother's face.

~fin~