As the sheriff had predicted, Cord set Dean up for the night. They were grateful and took to their room immediately. Every thought of sleep, however, was immediately chased away by the memory of what had happened earlier, by anger, by fear. After half an hour of restless pacing, Dean left their room again to see if their host was still awake and about.
He was, and so was the sheriff. They were in the bar, talking. Dean didn't mean to eavesdrop, but they didn't mean to interrupt either when they heard what they were talking about:
“...would do that.”
“So, who do you think made him do it?” the sheriff asked.
“His grandpop was here earlier, probably overheard that Sutter was a hunter.”
“Old Colton, typical. You know what Sutter's doing here?”
“Hmmm, I guess I'll have to find out tomorrow then. Sutter could just be...”
Dean cleared their throat. “You could just ask me, you know?” They walked into the room.
“Didn't your mother teach you not to eavesdrop?” the sheriff asked.
“My mother taught me a lot of things that I've since forgotten. Not her fault.”
A small smile edged onto the sheriff's beautiful face.
“I was wondering, could I ask a question?”
“Go ahead,” Cord told them.
“What is wrong with this place?”
For a moment, they looked at Dean who thought that maybe they shouldn't have asked after all. But then the two started laughing.
“Come on, sit,” Cord asked Dean. “I get you a beer. Or would you rather have a real drink?”
“Beer is fine.” Dean pulled a chair from the table and sat down next to the sheriff. She smiled at them bemusedly.
“Name's Tasha, by the way. Tasha Hawkeye,” she said.
They nodded at each other while Cord drew Dean a beer. He returned with it to the table and placed it before Dean.
“Thanks. So, my question...”
“Sorry, it's just...I mean, you already know we're all werewolves here. Well, technically that's not true anymore, but you know, right?” Tasha asked.
“So, what you're referring to is why everyone's so Stepford-nice?”
“That's a good comparison, Stepford,” Dean said, nodding.
“It's like this,” Cord took over from Tasha. “This town has always been a little progressive if you will. There were always some among us who thought it wrong to kill people, to exhaust the natural animal population and then move on. Courage is the oldest werewolf community on the continent, and we're mighty proud of that.”
“Our ancestors were the first of our kind to settle down, to find ways to breed the animals that ensured their survival, to even try and find a cure... an antidote against the wolf. That last one never worked, but we can honestly say that today very few inhabitants of Courage have ever eaten human flesh.”
“That's...commendable, I guess,” Dean said.
“But it doesn't answer your question. Well, despite the progress the town's been making, we've always allowed that we were animals, that under certain circumstances we would probably kill a person. But that's what keeps us hidden, you know? And we figured it's time we...came out, or at least, don't hide anymore.” Cord was looking at Dean earnestly.
“I'm not sure--”
“I'm explaining it wrong. Help me out, Tasha,” Cord asked.
“The progressive thinkers of the town thought it was time to put our way of life to the test. We don't have to eat human flesh, we don't have to attack and maul humans. It's basically what every werewolf knows, but is scared to admit. In our day and age, with the way meat is produced, with the way we help nature along by ensuring the animal population remains constant, we don't need to be feared. Let me say, not everybody agrees with this, but we recently elected our first progressive mayor. That's not the biggest change, though. The biggest change is a new law which makes killing a human being illegal.”
“That wasn't the law before?”
“It's the law of the country, of course, but... well, no sheriff here has ever enforced that law. Not if the killing occurred during the full moon.”
Dean nodded. “I understand, but why is everyone acting so weird.”
“With the new law, we can now actually start to be open to outsiders. Tourists, but also people who wanna live here, you see. So, everybody's especially friendly to the people from outside, because...”
“They don't really know how to act,” Tasha said. “They're awkward with humans, because they never had prolonged contact. They also don't wanna drive anyone away. We're all trying to get used to the new situations. We're the first werewolf community to open our doors. And we want to be friendly so that when we finally come out nobody can say: they're monsters, we gotta kill 'em all, you know?”
Dean sighed. “Yeah, that makes sense. Though the awkwardness obviously doesn't extent to hunters.”
“Well, you've known that we exist for some time and as far as we're concerned, you've already made up your mind that we're monsters and need to be killed.”
Dean understood that there was a challenge in Tasha's words and they felt up to it. “I don't think that. But I think that nobody, not even a werewolf should be above the law and just be free to kill people. I guess neither do you guys, or you wouldn't have changed the law. I'm not here to kill anyone.”
“Which brings us to the question why you're here,” Tasha said. She leaned forward onto the table, looking intently at Dean.
“I'm here to safe someone, several someones that is.”
“And do you think these someones still need saving now that you know what's going on here?” Cord asked.
“I do, though I think that it might not be from you. Maybe they need saving from themselves.”