The Body in the Library by Youthere.

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All the usual disclaimers apply.

Set just after Phantom Traveler. Spoilers that far.

This doesn't get all that violent or gory, but there is a definite gross-out factor. You've been warned.

Great thanks to Adara Chan for lending me a hand (or a brain). Of course I did my usual compulsive post-beta rewriting, so for any mistakes, blame me.

AN I did say about the gross out factor. This is rather short, but I felt it was all tat was needed, one scene to wrap things up...

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FOUR

Dean leaned his back against the sun-baked wall and swirled his coffee lazily.

The Impala was packed and ready to go, last night's guns resting safely in it's trunk again, along with all the rest of their worldly possessions. All that remained was Sam, who was still inside the antiquities shop talking with Mrs. Sharp.

Grateful for their help, the Sharps had insisted the brothers accept some books from the Stark library as a gift. Dean shuddered at the thought. If a guy had bound one of his books in human skin, he figured, you really didn't want to take chances with the rest of his library. Sam, on the other hand, had lit up like a kid on Christmas morning at the offer. Apparently, a book was a book to him regardless of all creepiness.

He'd even taken that creed so far as to refuse to burn Stark's journal the night before. He'd simply sliced the cover neatly off the book with his hunting knife and then proceeded to burn that, scooping some of Sharp's supposed salt off the floor to add to the mix.

It had been a little anticlimactic, watching the tiny bonfire of one book cover smolder away into nothing, but Dean had to admit he was a little glad of Sam's anal retentiveness this time. Not that he worshipped at the Altar of Dull and Annoying, like his little brother, but salting and burning the entire book still wouldn't have seemed quite right. Galloping into town on their noble steed, swooping in at the nick of time to... burn a book? It just didn't seem like the kind of thing the good guys did.

He sighed, gave his coffee another swirl and glanced up at the shop door. Boy scout that Sam was, he would probably only feel comfortable taking one book from the collection and Dean could just see him spending the rest of the day trying to decide which one. Full on Sophie's Choice.

"You know, I have decaf inside. It's much better for you."

Dean glanced up to find Sharp looking down at him with a quirked eyebrow. He raised his Styrofoam cup in a salute. "No thanks, I'm good."

Sharp sat down on the curb next to him. "To each his own ulcer, I guess."

Dean smirked but didn't answer, and they sat in silence for a while.

"So, I guess the sergeant believed in keeping his friends close." Sharp said after a while.

Dean snorted. "Hate to think where we'd find his enemies' skins, then. That dude was crazy long before he was dead."

"Yeah..." Sharp sighed. "Dead. I never would have believed this in a million years."

"You and most people on the planet." Dean answered lightly. "Ghosts are nobody's first guess."

"Except yours" the older man said quietly. "I owe you and your partner my life. My wife's life too, probably. Thank you."

Dean just made a noncommittal shrug and mumbled something along the lines of "No problem." This kind of conversation always made him a little awkward. Well, unless it was with a hot chick.

Sensing the younger man's discomfort, Sharp changed the subject.

"Anthropodermic bibliopegi." He chuckled. "I didn't know that was even a word."

Dean grinned. "Yeah, me neither. Figures Sam would."

"Pretty smart guy, your partner."

Dean nodded. "Yeah. Ivy League education and everything. Really smart." He couldn't help the strange note that crept into his voice, an equal mixture of resentment and pride.

The antiquities dealer eyed him quizzically. "You seem pretty close. Been working together long?"

"Yes and no."

The silence returned. Sharp stared into the middle distance and Dean swirled his coffee uneasily.

"Hey," the hunter finally offered, clearing his throat and nailing his eyes to the pavement in front of him. "I'm sorry about your dad."

"Thank you." There was a long pause. "You know, I never had any family other than him and then my wife, later. They were the... the fixtures of my life, the two of them. And now, half my family is just... gone, just like that. It's...I don't know."

Dean nodded, but kept his eyes on the ground. "Must be hard."

"I just...I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do, now. When he's... not... around. What am I supposed to do?"

They looked up as Sam came out of the shop, carrying a parcel and looking for all the world like he'd just won the national sweepstakes. Or nailed Carmen Electra.

Dean stood up, fishing the car keys out of his pocket and shooting the younger man an impatient scowl for good measure.

It was good to see his brother momentarily content, though, even if it was for a crappy reason. Maybe there were more crappy reasons he could find and who knew, maybe eventually, they'd be able to find a good one.

Dean turned back to Sharp, who still sat on the curb looking up at him. He cleared his throat and gave the older man a small, crooked grin.

"I guess you just try to take care of the people that are around."

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AN Okey dokey, that's it for another one. Thanks for reading and as always, reviews make my day :)