Courage

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5

It was early evening when Dean entered the local bar. On their trip back into town, they'd seen a group of teens enter the place. They'd looked like the kind of kids that could get others into trouble, and Dean wondered if they might be the ones who'd led their classmates here.

“I'll make my rounds. See you later, Cord.” The woman raised a hand to wave at the barkeeper, looking over her shoulder.

Dean stepped aside to let her through, holding the door for her, but they still almost collided.

She touched Dean's arm to steady herself, grinning at them. “Sorry, dude. And thanks.” She went through the open door and Dean couldn't help but look after her. She was tall, long black hair fell onto her back and then she turned, walking backward. “It's rude to stare at a woman's ass, you know!” she called to them but was still grinning.

Dean felt the heat crawl up their color and rubbed at their face. She seemed to be the first real person they'd met in this town. But she, like all the others, was a werewolf, Dean reminded themself. A gorgeous specimen of one, but still one.

Dean let the door fall closed behind them and surveyed the place, noticing that they were also watched in turn. A couple old-timers crouching over a table, speaking in low tones were looking at them. As was the barkeep. Dean walked over to him.

“A beer,” they ordered and the big man behind the bar nodded. Like most men in Courage, he was tall and bearded, broad-shouldered. But he wasn't giving Dean that fake smile, he just did his job. Dean was thankful. They already felt more relaxed in this place than they had at every other place in town.

“Want something to eat, too?” The bartender asked as he placed the beer in front of Dean.

“Maybe later.”

“Kitchen stays open until 9.”

Dean nodded and took the first sip of their drink. They smacked their lips, thankful to whoever had invented this beverage. They turned on their stool, beer in hand, and looked at the table where the teens were talking, drinking what looked like coke. They weren't the only young people in the place, a couple of kids were running around their parents' table, chasing each other. Laws in small towns were often more lenient about who could enter a bar, that wasn't Dean's concern. The teens were.

After another long sip of their beer, Dean sauntered over to their table. “Evening,” they said and the adolescents looked up.

“You the queer guy our teacher told us about? He said not to talk to you,” a young man with wavy, sandy hair said, grinning.

Dean wondered if their teacher had actually used the term queer. “I guess, I am. I'm Dean Sutter and as this is a public place and I'm not likely to do anything to you here, I wondered if we could have a chat?”

The sandy-haired guy looked at his friends. The girl across from him, a pretty red-head, shook her head. His buddy to his right, shrugged his shoulders as did the girl to his left, a blonde with stunning blue eyes. While sandy-haired guy was the most forthcoming, Dean pitched her for the ring-leader. There was something in the way she looked at them.

“Sure,” the boy said.

Dean pulled a chair from the next empty table and sat down between the two boys. “To make this conversation easier, would you mind giving me your names?”

Another look around the table and the sandy-haired boy said: “I'm Luke, that's Greer, Red...” At that, the red-haired girl threw some peanuts at him. “Alright, she's Corinne, and she's Desmond.”

“Desmond is an unusual name for a girl,” Dean said, looking at the blonde.

“It's my family name. Nobody calls me by my first name,” she informed them.

Dean would bet that there were plenty of people who called her by her first name and that she hated it. Adults could always be counted on to call you by the name you hate, Dean knew well.

“Alright. Has your teacher told you why you shouldn't talk to me?”

“He said you were strange. By the look of you, I'd say he isn't wrong about that,” Greer offered with a insolent grin.

Dean smiled back pleasantly. “I'm even stranger than I look, actually. To be blunt, this place, Courage, it's dangerous. Especially since the full moon is coming up. I take it, you guys know about the werewolves?”

At this, the teens glanced furtively at each other. Dean had been right, these kids surely knew about the werewolves, though he doubted that they knew what they'd gotten themselves into. Dean was looking forward to enlightening them.

“Werewolves?” Luke finally said.

“Don't even try, okay? We all know they exist and that an unusual number of them lives in this town. Which brings me to my next question: why are you here?”

“Mr. Lockhart was wrong, you're not strange. You're downright crazy,” Desmond said, but neither she or her friends made to leave.

“I was hoping you would be a little more honest, but I guess I wasn't expecting that, really. Let me be honest, though.” Dean cast a glance around, making sure nobody was paying attention to them. “Werewolves are dangerous. Forget that fluffy dog you saw on Twilight, these creatures aren't lapdogs, they're not even wolves, technically. They're half wolf, half man. They're faster than any human. They got sharp teeth and can open their jaws so wide, they could rip you throat out completely. Come tomorrow night, they'll probably be around 250 of these beasts roaming the woods behind your cabins and if they're hungry, well, you and your classmates will only provide them with a snack.”

Dean looked around at each of them. Corinne looked like she was going to throw up, Luke looked at Desmond and Greer picked up his coke to cover the fact that he was shaking. Only Desmond met Dean's eyes.

“And how is that for a bedtime story?” she asked, smiling.

“I don't know what you're trying to accomplish here, but by Sunday morning most of you will be dead, possibly all of you. Unless...”

“Unless?” Greer asked.

“Unless you're getting back on that bus and leave, preferably tonight.”

“And if we don't?” Desmond asked.

“Then I'll be your best chance to survive. But I was hoping to avoid a confrontation with 250 plus hungry werewolves.”

Desmond was laughing at him. Her friends seemed to gain some kind of confidence out of it and started smiling, too. Corinne still seemed uncomfortable, though, but tried to hide it.

“You don't look like Buffy Summers to me,” Desmond said.

“Buffy killed anything dangerous, specializing on vampires. I only hunt werewolves, and only if they attack humans.”

“So, if any of them tries to eat us, you'll be there with a colt filled with silver bullets?”

Dean took a deep breath. “I wish, the mainstream media would stop filling everybody's heads with nonsense like silver kills werewolves. It doesn't. But everything that kills a human being can kill a werewolf. Of course, it's still more difficult, because of the faster, stronger, bigger issue. You get my drift?”

Desmond looked at him as if she was bored now. “Well, I'm sure some of us will have nightmares from your gruesome tale. Other than that, you should probably get your head examined, or better yet, get your one-way-ticket to Looneyville. Werewolves. Don't. Exist.” She got up and her friends followed her example.

Dean shook their head, taking a sip of their beer. The teens walked out of the bar, Desmond leading them. Corinne was the only one looking back at Dean, fearful.


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