Summary: It's 2012—the world's in the toilet. Dean is tired and ready to throw in the towel, to stop fighting to stay alive. So Sam does it for him.

Disclaimer: SPN is definitely not mine. Got this idea after watching the Walking Dead, but I don't own that, either.

2012

If he'd thought the world would end, Dean Winchester hadn't pictured it quite like this.

They'd practically been everywhere in the last few weeks, speeding from state to state, never staying in one place long enough to become familiar with the surroundings of each town and city. And, no matter how long or far they went, did Sam or Dean ever not see the walking dead.

Mindless creatures, stumbling blindly through the streets in search of brains, for the scent of the living. The worst part about the whole disaster was, Dean had joked with Sam for months, saying the world had already "ended" several times—what could one more time hurt? And so, about two weeks ago, all hell had broken loose, and zombies dragged themselves straight out of the movies—a living nightmare that had yet to end. Since then, the dead had nearly made a feast out of their flesh numerous times.

Sometimes, it took everything Dean had just to find the will to get up in the morning. Or save himself the trouble and put a bullet through both their brains.

It wasn't like they could just keep going on forever, Dean told himself. Sam suggested waiting as long as possible before making a suicidal run into the nearest grocery store or mall for food and supplies. They no longer had the luxury of rolling up to drive-thru windows or taking rest stops whenever they felt the need. Their main focus now was to stay alive.

Dean tried to ignore the press of bodies against the Impala as he drove slowly through the herd of the dead congregated in the middle of the road, blocking his path. His jaw was clenched so tight he thought if he let it go slack, he'd discover a few broken teeth. Hands, arms, and heads made contact with his baby, smearing blood and God knew what else all over the glass and body of the car.

"We're gonna have to stop soon, Dean."

The sound of Sam's voice made him jump. He'd become so used to the silence between them when they were on the road it surprised Dean that Sam would state the obvious. After all, they were down to the last water bottle and box of crackers. "I know." Dean reached into the backseat to grab a map, Sam taking hold of the wheel until his older brother had turned back around and studied the route long enough to memorize it. "There's a mall half a mile from here." Better take what we can get, Sammy.

Sam looked out at the mass of dead people, watching all of them desperately trying to break the windows, rip his throat out, and munch on his intestines. "Sure there ain't a store?" he asked, trying to hold down the crackers he'd had for lunch.

Dean checked again. "Not for another three miles."

Sam sighed in defeat as Dean took the wheel again. How were they supposed to get rid of the zombies? Without them gone, they'd have one hell of a time getting into that mall. And if they managed to make it inside, there was a good chance they'd run into more brain–eating monsters. Sure, they had enough weapons, enough ammo, but even that wouldn't last forever. And the little pipe dream Sam and Dean shared—finding a cure and saving the infected—seemed impossible. Neither of them had seen a living soul amongst the death and destruction, let alone a doctor. But Sam silently hoped someone was hiding out somewhere with the cure or the knowledge to make one.

Dean stomped the gas pedal to the floor suddenly, seeing a small opening in the crowd of walking dead. The car lurched forward, slamming into zombie after zombie, more blood coating the Impala, limbs flying every which way. Dean flipped on the wipers, clearing the windshield enough to see more than two feet in front of them. A sickly green–colored hand attached to a forearm gripped the antennae, flapping in the wind, repeatedly hitting Sam's side of the car with a sloshing sound. Disgusted, Sam hurriedly rolled down the window, pulled out his gun, and shot the dead limb. It immediately released the antennae and flew past the window. Sam—who gave an involuntary shiver—closed the window, wiping red spray from his face with his sleeve.

Dean swallowed hard, and looked back at the road, trying not to be sick. "Mall's on your side," he told Sam.

His little brother didn't respond, just watched as the buildings flashed past, the dead thinning out. "There," Sam said, pointing to a building up ahead.

Dean stopped and parked the car right outside the main entrance. Loading a full clip into his gun, he looked over at his brother, who was already locked and loaded. "Make 'em count."

The brothers jumped from the car, Dean, who was closest, headed right for the door, taking out a few zombies on the way. Sam covered his brother, slowly making his way around to meet up with Dean.

"Dammit," Dean growled. "Cover me." He pulled his lock pick out of his pocket, hurriedly trying to open the locked door.

Sam heard the jiggling of the lock as Dean struggled to gain access to the mall. Sam took out the nearest of the dead, but every time he took one out, another seemed to take its place. "Hurry, Dean," he mumbled, taking another shot. It hit one right between the eyes, and the zombie sank to the ground, finally dead. "There's more of them!"

"I'm trying, Sam!" Dean shouted, trying not to let his panic overwhelm him.

Sam picked up Dean's gun from where he'd dropped it and started shooting again, this time with both weapons. "Well, anytime now would be great!" Sam watched as zombie after zombie slumped to the ground. Many of them had taken the liberty of climbing up and onto the hood and trunk of the Impala. The car groaned under all the weight, which caught Dean's attention.

"Dean!" Sam yelled. The dead were nearly upon them now, their breath rattling in unison, flaky skin hanging off them, snarling, limping, crawling, jaws open—

With a loud click, Dean unlocked the door. He grabbed a fistful of Sam's shirt and pulled him into the mall, both of them holding the door closed until Dean locked it back. A whole army of the dead banged against the door, craving fresh meat. Dean took his gun back from Sam, but stuffed it into his jeans when he saw an axe hanging on the wall for emergencies. Tearing off a piece of his own shirt, Dean wrapped it around one hand and smashed the glass, taking the sharp weapon. This was an emergency.

"Let's roll."

Sam kept his gun trained in front of him, ready and willing to shoot the next zombie that appeared; Dean gripped the axe so tight his knuckles had gone white. They passed through several hallways without meeting anyone at all.

Dean stopped and threw out his right arm, preventing Sam from taking another step forward. "Wait," he said, glancing at the floor. An unmoving figure was sprawled in front of them, eyes closed, white shirt stained red. Dean moved to crouch down beside the unconscious man, nudging him with the axe just to make sure he wouldn't be moving anytime soon. There was no response.

"Who is he?" Sam asked, fully entering the room.

Dean shrugged. "No idea." He dug around in the man's pocket, searching for some form of identification. Dean found the man's wallet, and held up the driver's license. "Robert Gold."

"Any weapons on him?"

Dean shook his head. "None that I can find." He smiled, despite everything. "You wanna take a look, Sammy?"

Sam rolled his eyes. He was thorough, but not that thorough. "No, thanks. I'll pass on this one."

Sam checked the adjacent hallways, searching for a sign someone (preferably alive) had recently been here. A lot of random objects littered the floor—toys, shoes, buckets that had been knocked over—but he met no one.

"All clear that way," Sam reported. He looked down at the man, who was still not moving. "You find anything?"

Dean shook his head. "A whole lot of nada." He sighed. "Let's keep moving, I guess."

They didn't get far—a gate stood in their way, locked. "Dammit," Dean said again, shaking the gate with one hand. It remained in place. Dean stepped back to chop away at the barrier with the axe, but Sam grabbed fast to the handle.

"Dude, mauling the gate won't keep those things out. If they get past the doors and this thing's open, we're zombie food."

Knowing his brother was right, Dean set the axe down and put his hands up. "All right, fair point." He crouched down to pick yet another lock, while Sam kept watch in case any crawlers or walkers or limpers decided to show up. "You know," Dean said, finally lifting the gate after several silent moments of work, "I'm gonna need a cane after this."

Sam ducked under the gate after Dean, pulling it shut behind him. "Don't bend over so much, then, Grandpa."

That got another little smirk out of Dean. Sam wished he would smile more often—God only knew the things Sam would be willing to do to make that happen, if He was still out there somewhere. But with the world ending, and the walking dead roaming the earth, Sam didn't think that would be happening again anytime soon.

"Oh, man," Dean said after a minute of walking. "Good thing we found this."

Sam lifted one eyebrow. "The men's room?" I didn't think a guy could get excited about taking a leak.

"Hey." Dean pointed a finger at Sam, almost accusingly. "Times have changed. We've been living off crackers and water, chopping people's heads off. . . . Excuse me for being a little grateful for indoor plumbing."

"All right, whatever," Sam said, waving Dean away. "Go. I'll keep watch out here." He checked to make sure he had sufficient ammo, then peered into nearby windows of different stores.

Dean hesitated for a second, about to tell Sam not to go anywhere. But he turned back to the men's room, knowing it would sound stupid. Where could Sam really go? The mall had been corpse–free so far, besides the guy on the other side of the gate, and the dead surrounding the place. Maybe this was the one part of the town that hadn't been infested with zombies.

Our lives are so messed up, he thought for the millionth time.

As he was washing his hands, Dean looked in the mirror. He had a cut above his left eyebrow that was in the process of healing, a few other scrapes and bruises on his arms. His face looked fine except for a little dried blood on one cheek. He scooped up some water from the tap, rubbing it over the spot, and finally over the rest of his face, wiping away a thin layer of grime.

That's when he saw the feet under the stall behind him.

He whipped around, hand twitching towards the axe he'd let rest against the wall. Lifting it, he stepped slowly to the door. "Hello?" he called, feeling insane. Could he hallucinating? But, no. The feet were still there. "Anyone in there?"

No answer.

Picking one foot off the ground, Dean pushed the door open, axe at the ready.

A man sat on the lid of the toilet, dressed in torn clothes, his skin paler than snow. He leaned back against the wall, looking to be asleep. A nasty–looking wound was on the inside of his forearm, a trail of dry blood travelling down his arm, where it ended at the man's wrist. Dean's lowered his gaze to the floor, eyes finding the pool of blood at the side of the toilet. Dean reached out to shake the man awake when the stranger groaned and opened his eyes.

Dean instinctively stepped back, not wanting to scare the pants off the guy. But when the head swiveled to look directly at him, Dean saw the pale yellow eyes, the hunger in their depths. Without hesitation, the creature screeched and lunged for his throat, but the axe caught the dead man in the head before he could make a meal out of Dean. He watched as the zombie went still on the ground, more blood coating the floor. Dean yanked the axe out, looking anywhere but at the infected. The stench was nauseating.

"Dean?" Sam rushed into the bathroom, still holding the gun. He froze when he saw the dead guy on the floor, took a few steps back, the wall finally stopping him. He looked back up at his brother, horrified. "What happened?"

Dean, breathing through his mouth, nodded at the stall. "Guy was in there. Thought he was asleep. Woke up and attacked me." He side–stepped the zombie, heading for the exit, bloody axe in hand. "Any more questions?"

Sam shook his head and followed, trying to recover. "You okay?"

"Yeah, Sam, I'm fine," Dean snapped, a hint of sarcasm in his words. "Nearly got bit and turned, but I'm fine. Thanks for asking."

Sam, on the defensive, said, "Hey, I was just—"

"Can it, Sam," Dean interrupted. He disappeared into the nearest store, and about ten minutes later, came back with a candy bar and a full bag of food. He held it out to his brother. "Want some?" he asked around a mouthful.

Sam stared at Dean. What had happened to him? What was with the bipolar attitude—on again, off again? Finally, he shook his head. "No," he said. Dean shrugged. "Not until you tell me what's wrong with you."

Dean stuffed the remaining half of the chocolate bar into his mouth. "Nothing. I'm fine, Sam. Just dandy."

"No, you're not."

"Oh, and what are you, the chick flick police? Know just how I'm feelin', huh, handsome?" Dean chucked the bag unexpectedly across the open space. Oreos, chips, candy—all of it spilled. Dean glared at his brother, pointing a finger in his face. "You don't know anything, Sam. As much as you think you do, you don't. Not a damn thing." He turned away then, to go sulk all alone, as Sam knew he would.

"Like I don't know you're still grieving?" Sam shot at his brother. Dean stopped, but didn't turn around. "Like I don't know you miss Bobby? And Ellen and Jo and Cas?"

Dean didn't say anything for such a long time that Sam thought he never would. But then— "Don't you get it, Sam?" he asked, turning around and throwing his hands up in the air. "It was my fault, all of it. Ellen and Jo got blown up because of me, Bobby got bit and turned into one of those monsters out there because of me, and Cas—" His voice broke then. Only after he swallowed a few times did he speak again. "I don't get a second chance to change everything, Sam. The world's over, done. And we can't fix it this time. Hell, we didn't even see it coming. Our chances of staying alive are thin, real thin. And I'm so—tired of fighting."

Sam released a frustrated sigh, thrusting both arms out. "So you're just gonna give up, then? Lay down and die?"

Dean shrugged again, defeated. "Whatever comes first."

And he was gone.