"I think—they drugged him," Derek said, in the van. "Or—"
"What?" Scott said, taking the corner sharply, not daring to look over his shoulder. Derek had been gone for a while, too long, only the thought of Derek getting back with Stiles and finding the van empty keeping Scott from bolting out of it, up the lawn after him.
"I just—hey—” Derek said. There was a sharp thunk, Derek exhaling raggedly.
"Is he okay?" Scott said desperately. They were flying down the long, narrow rutted road, a thicketed black forest on either side. He and Derek hadn’t talked, after the turn-off, driving up here under the crescent moon, Derek’s face locking in on itself as they approached the darkened house where Stiles had been for two days, three maybe. It had taken them a day to figure out he was gone.
"I’m fine," Stiles said, voice scratchy. Then, softly—but not softly enough—said, "sorry, man, I thought we were doing it."
"We’re—not," Derek said, after what Scott assumed was a horrified pause.
"Yeah, well, you know," Stiles said nonsensically. Derek reached past Scott into the front seat where they’d stashed the first aid kid. He was blushing deeply, throat to hairline.
"Look, I—" Scott heard Stiles say.
"We’re not," Derek said again. "Let me clean up your hands."
"Thanks," Stiles said. "Thanks for coming."
"It’s fine," Derek said. "It’s not like—I didn’t have plans or anything."
Stiles laughed, soft and warm. Derek said something that sounded like “Hush.”
"What’s going on back there," Scott said, trying to get a look in the rearview mirror. It was dark, so all he could really see was the edge of Derek’s chin, tilted town towards Stiles’ hands.
It had been good since Derek came back to town. Weird, but good. Derek deferred to him, but it didn’t make him cringe the way he thought it might. Derek waited for Scott to outline the plan and then said, yeah, okay, or folded his arms and frowned at things until Scott told him to just explain what was wrong. Derek didn’t have any objections to the get-Stiles-back plan.
"Hold still," Derek said, in the back of the van.
"Okay, okay," Stiles said. His breathing was easy, a little amused, the dank wet wool smell of fear dissipating already. "Okay."
"You’re okay," Derek said, voice soft.
"Yeah, you too," Stiles said.
"I won’t—I don’t want to interfere," Derek had said, early on. "With your pack. Get, um, involved. There are a lot of rules about—that, actually."
"I don’t care about that stuff," Scott had said.
"I do," Derek had said.