A slow drizzle had started while Dean was sitting in the woods, contemplating how to deal with this situation. They'd encountered people who wanted to get turned before, but never a teenager, never someone so young and full of life. Usually these people were desperate, clinging to the hope that the wolf would make them better. Seemed to show that desperation wasn't bound to age, just to how much life had dealt you.
Dean walked to their car, climbing in. They had half a mind to leave this mess to someone else to solve, but already knew they wouldn't do that. This case was more bizarre than usual, but maybe that could help Dean somehow. They saw the sheriff's cruiser ride by which gave them an idea. They started their car and followed.
When Tasha parked about a block later and got out, Dean gave a short honk of their horn to get her attention. They lowered the passenger side window as she turned and came over. She leaned inside the window.
“Do you have a minute?” Dean asked.
“Sure.” Tasha got in.
Dean made a U-turn at the next opportunity and drove down Main Street toward the town limit.
“Where are you going?”
“I just don't want anyone to overhear us,” Dean said. They rode the car to where they'd parked the day before. When they got out and started walking deeper into the woods, however, Tasha called them paranoid. Dean contented to talk by the car, leaning against the hood beside her.
“You seem... sad?” Tasha noticed.
“I talked to Desmond.”
“I thought you wanted to talk to all of them.”
“Yeah, but they weren't all together and since she's their leader of sorts...” Dean stopped talking and shook their head. They were still shaken by what they'd found out.
“C'mon, just tell me. I'll have to get back sometime today. My neighbors, as you call them, tend to become a little twitchy this close to the full moon.”
Dean nodded, bracing themself. Then they started telling Tasha about what they'd found out. She seemed a little twitchy herself, but her impatience soon made way to disbelief, then outrage. She was more than a little angry when Dean finished their story.
“The little bitch!”
“I'm not sure she's that. I think she must have been through some shit to arrive at a point where she wants to be turned,” Dean said.
“I don't care how much she's been through. She's willing to offer a busload of kids to werewolves for the slim chance to become one. Who does that?”
“A desperate child, obviously.”
Tasha huffed indignantly.
“You said, the town was safe. Is it even possible to get things this far?”
Tasha shook her head. “No, not normally. We all stuff ourselves before the moon rises so that we won't be hungry. I mentioned that not all of us are happy with everything that's been going on in the town. There might be some who won't do it and then go hunting animals in the woods, but it's a small number of people, most of them quite old. We can always hold them in check if things go bad.”
Dean nodded but remained thoughtful. There was something nagging at the back of their mind. “Desmond said something. She knows that Courage is different from other places. Is there a way she could get that off the internet?”
Tasha frowned. “I don't think so. Sure, there's always been rumors about Courage, some myths, stories of disappearances over the last hundred years or so. But none of those are about Courage being different among the wolf communities. The rumors are there to frighten people, to make them wonder about supernatural creatures, not to pick their next vacation spot.”
“So, how does she know?” Dean wondered aloud.
“She couldn't unless...”
They looked at each other.
“Unless she had contact with someone from Courage. Someone who might want her to come here, bring her friends and...what?”
Tasha took a deep breath. “You're not thinking that someone lured them here, do you?”
“Tell me you're not thinking the same thing,” Dean challenged.
Tasha pushed off the hood of Dean's car and started pacing. Dean didn't say anything, they just watched her. After about ten minutes of this, Tasha stopped and looked at Dean, her eyes were darker now, almost black.
Dean swallowed and braced themself against their car.
“I can't believe one of us would do such a thing! It's insane!” she growled.
Dean nodded, but then had another thought. “Maybe not insane at all,” they said.
Tasha looked at them, her brows furrowed.
“Think about it. What if this happens? A bus full of high school students disappears, everybody knows where they went.”
“There'd be an investigation,” Tasha said.
“Sure, but you would probably all say they never reached Courage, nothing could be proven. Even if you bring the ones responsible to justice, it'll always be about Courage, making it impossible for you to come out as werewolves in the future. You want to change the image the world has of you, but what if there are people here who want to hold onto the way it always was?”
“The story would always cling to Courage, just as older stories have. But the most recent disappearances in these woods were more than thirty years ago. A new incidence like that, and something of this magnitude, it would stick.”
“I can't believe anyone would go to such lengths.”
“You have no idea who might be behind it?”
Tasha turned away from Dean, looking into the woods.
“I have an idea. You met his grandson yesterday. Old Colton is the most vocal adversary of the mayor and our new law. If he could get his family and friends mobilized, we'd look at maybe fifteen wolves.”
“All eager for teenage flesh,” Dean said.
Tasha glared at them. “This is not about that, it's about politics. It's about our future in the human society. They're about to ruin everything, because they're scared of change.”
“What can we do to stop them?”
“We fight,” Tasha said. She came back to the car and got in the passenger seat.
Dean followed her example, got into the car and drove them back to Courage.