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Kansas City Shuffle

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The gallery is dimly lit, spotlights glinting off the exhibits in the walls and the cases in the center of the room. Light colored placards stand out against the gray stone statues and dark walls. Looking around, it’s much like any other art museum Sam’s been to. It’s more professional than some, less fancy than others. Much like everything else in Kansas City.

On a sunny Tuesday morning, this exhibit is almost dead. The few other patrons are focusing on the new sculpture out in the sculpture garden. Almost no one is inside, certainly no one in little attended galleries upstairs. Even the guards and docents are ignoring this gallery in favor of the more valuable and rare works in the others. There’s a bored art student in the corner, sketching a broken bowl, but that’s the only other person he’s seen since they got up here.

“I can’t believe--” Sam gets cut off when Dean covers his mouth with his hand.

“Shhh,” Dean whispers harshly. “We need the damn thing for the stupid ritual right? And it can’t be one we make ourselves.”

The worked deer skull nearly glows under the spotlights of the exhibit. There’s nothing else in the case, nothing that will cause the police to think there was something else they were after. Looking at it, Sam can see where ties would attach so Dean can tie it to his head. This is so stupid.

“Are you sure--”

“Yes,” Dean says flatly. “I’m sure. I’ve searched, ok? This is the only one that we can get that doesn’t also involve flying to fucking London.”

Sam sighs and nods. “Alright. Give me a few minutes.”

The gallery is almost frighteningly under-secured. It doesn’t take very long to find the cameras in the corners of the room. The glass itself doesn’t look like it’s wired, so it’s literally only social convention keeping it in place. Sam blows out a breath and nods.

One by one, he reaches up and nudges a few of the cameras out of alignment, clearing their way out of the gallery. The student glances up without interest before returning to his sketchbook, filling in the design work on the bowl.

“Well?” Dean asks impatiently.

“This is a bad idea.” It’s been a couple minutes and no alarm has sounded and no guard has come rushing in. They’re clear.

“I heard you the first six times.” Dean looks pleadingly at Sam. “Sam, I wouldn’t--”

“I know.” Sam sighs. “God knows I’d put you through worse.”

“Shit, dude. Your’s just involves some fucking shopping. This is… yeah.”

“Don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet now,” Sam says quietly. “Shift change is in about ten minutes? Let’s go.”

Dean nods, pulling a couple pairs of food service gloves from his pocket and passing Sam two. He drops the backpack onto the floor next to the case’s pedestal, unzipping it and pulling it open so it’s easy to drop the piece into it in a hurry.

Sam nods towards a nearby bench and silently counts down once Dean indicates he’s ready. When his silent countdown hits zero, he and Dean lift the glass case and move it smoothly over to the bench. Once it’s down, Dean hurries back to the pedestal.

It only takes him a couple of seconds to locate and remove the sensors attached to the underside of the skull, tossing them back onto the display base and, carefully, wrapping the still attached antlers in a henley and stashing it in the bag. It’s much smaller, somehow, than Sam expected, dwarfed in Dean’s hands, smaller than a shoebox.

Sam picks the glass back up and carries back over to the case, quickly dropping it back into the slots and smudging any fingerprints away with his gloves. He’s not sure if they’re his or not, but better safe than sorry.

Dean has the piece stowed away by the time he’s done, stripping his gloves off and shoving them deep into his pocket. “Let’s go.”

They make it out without any problems, detouring through the less popular exhibits on their way out the door before bolding strolling out the same door they came in through. The majority of the crowds are still wandering around the sculpture garden, the security guards wandering around the edges and more focused on the the line wandering through the glass labyrinth.

The Impala is about a block away, parked on a side street behind the museum. Dean gets progressively more jubilant the further away they get, blasting Styx as he pulls out of the parking lot and onto the streets that lead to the interstate.

“I can’t believe that worked,” Dean grins. “Hell, I can’t believe I’m actually going to do this!”

Sam rolls his eyes, watching the side mirror for any cops that decided they need to be picked up. The further away they get, the more he relaxes, slumping with a sigh into the passenger seat. “I don’t see why we had to do it this way. You could have just asked like a normal person.”

“Look, this is the only time I’m doing this. Hell, this is the only time I’ve thought about doing this. If doing it right means silly costumes, then silly costumes we shall have. Or do you really think this isn’t worth it?” Dean suddenly looks terribly unsure.

“Dude, I’m still not over you actually doing the research.” Sam grins. “Does this mean if I can get Cas to ask you, you’ll actually help with research for a change?”

Dean frowns, chewing on his lip. “What if--”

“Are you kidding me?” Sam asks exasperated. “He’s going to go for it. Jesus. He’d go for it if you asked the human way too, you know.”

“Cas already gave up everything for me,” Dean says, quiet enough that Sam can barely hear him over the radio and road noise. “The least I can do is follow his home’s rules for engagements.”

“Even if it means tying a five-thousand year old deer skull to your head and prancing around like a maniac?”

Especially then.” Dean shrugs, focusing on the road with far more concentration than it calls for. “If it’s been that long since someone asked, since someone earned the love of an angel… You’re the one always going on about cultural preservation!”

Sam reaches across the seat, squeezes Dean’s shoulder. “He’s gonna say yes. You’re fine.”

Dean’s smile is near blinding as he presses a little harder on the gas pedal.