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Dean took their car out. They felt they needed to clear their head and maybe get in touch with their employees. They steered the car back to the fork where they'd took the turn to Courage and then drove beyond that point.

Twenty minutes later, Dean found an unpaved path between trees and stopped their car far into that isolated road. They pulled a duffel bag from the trunk and went further into the woods, their need to be alone and away from Courage was overwhelming.

Dean found a fallen tree to sit on and pulled their phone out.

“Sutter Investigations,” a bored voice came back to them when they'd dialed the familiar number.

“Jace? Is Terri there, too?”

“Oh, hey, boss. Terri's gone get us lunch. What's up?” Jace sounded more awake now that she knew who was on the line. Dean wondered if they should talk to her about her attitude, but decided it was too much effort that probably wouldn't get any results.

“Listen, you know about Courage?”

“Town full of werewolves sharpening their knives for a midnight snack of high school students? Yep.”

Dean rolled their eyes. “Can you look up that teacher, see if he's got some secret he might want to keep hidden. He wasn't very cooperative when I suggested they leave. Maybe I can blackmail him into loading the kids up again.”

“Sure, I'll have a look. So, how is that place? Do they have human heads up on their walls, y' know, like hunters? Is it really dark?”

“Actually, it's creepy. The people are friendly, smile a lot and wish you a nice day. I feel like I've fallen into a Burton movie before all the weird stuff happens,” Dean said.

“You have a strange definition of creepy, man. Are we sure, the town's a werewolf town? Maybe you had your wires crossed, or maybe they moved away,” Jace suggested.

“I've been hunting werewolves for close to seven years now. I know one when I see one and the whole town's crawling with them. That's not the problem.”

“What is the problem?”

Dean grumbled under their breath, not answering the question. Maybe Jace was right and Dean was freaking out over nothing, but Courage had the tiny hairs at their neck stand on end. They expected clowns and murderous dolls coming around a bent at any moment.

“Look into that teacher. Also, see if you can get some info on the people who live here. I know, werewolves are secretive, but maybe since this place is so different, they're all on Facebook. I need info on the main players, mayor, sheriff, if there is one, and who owns the most profitable businesses. I need that info ASAP, you hear?”

“I'm already on it, boss,” Jace said.

Dean could hear the rapid typing over the phone. “Get back to me when you have something, bye.” They didn't wait for an answer, before disconnecting. They put the phone away and took a couple of deep breaths. The air smelled of wood and sunshine and Dean smiled. It was wonderfully quiet here, compared to spaces inhabited by people. Birds sang, the leaves were rustling in the breeze. Those were good noises to Dean.

They opened their bag and took out their shotgun, inspecting it. They made sure it was functional, loaded, clean. Dean repeated this exercise with several more weapons, finishing with the one they'd been carrying. Then they started polishing their machete, knives, silver cross.

As was their custom, Dean smiled as they held the cross. People who believed the mystical tales about werewolves would probably think it was useful in the fight, but it actually only held sentimental, maybe even superstitious value for Dean. They weren't religious, but the cross had belonged to Dean's mother. She gave it to them before she died. Of course, she'd wanted them to find God, behave as a woman, find a man to marry, all these things were implied in the gift. But Dean had taken it as a token of a woman who'd given them something she'd valued, probably more than anything else. The cross was Dean's reminder that they'd been loved.

Dean sighed and repacked their bag. They stood and walked around a bit, hoping that Jace would call back soon. And she did. Her findings, however, weren't all that useful.

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