The last thing Stiles expected when he walked into the back of the café at 5 a.m. was to see someone else already there.
He frowned at the coat already hanging on the rack by the back door and startled at the noise of someone moving around in his pantry. Okay, so maybe it wasn't his pantry—both Danny and Isaac used it as well—but before 10 a.m., the café was his domain. And Stiles was just a wee bit possessive.
He stomped over to the pantry and opened his mouth to let the trespasser have a piece of his mind, when he caught an actual look at the trespasser and promptly swallowed his tongue.
Standing in the pantry with a yellow notepad in one hand and a pencil in the other was the hottest man Stiles had ever seen in his life. He was roughly Stiles's height, with dark hair and a beard and black-framed glasses, his maroon sweater stretched over broad shoulders and mouthwatering biceps. And dark jeans covered an ass that should have been illegal, holy shit.
Stiles gaped. He thought he could be forgiven; nobody should be forced to confront such hotness before their first cup of coffee.
Pantry God finally seemed to realize he wasn't alone, and looked over to Stiles, pale eyes widening behind his glasses. "Can I help you?"
The words jerked Stiles out of his stupor, reminding him that Pantry God was actually Pantry Trespasser. "Who are you and what the hell are you doing in my pantry?"
The guy's frankly impressive eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "Your pantry? Are you the owner of this establishment?"
Stiles narrowed his eyes at the man's sarcastic tone. Attractive or not, he didn't need to take this. "No, but I'm the head chef. Well, one of the head chefs. Well, the pastry chef. The point is, I'm responsible for making sure we have all the delicious baked goods and so the pantry is my domain. Ergo, my pantry. What are you doing in it?"
The guy continued to look at Stiles as though he'd lost his mind. Which, unfair, although Stiles was used to it at this point. Scott and Allison gave him that look often.
Pantry Trespasser waved his notepad at the shelves. "So you're the one responsible for organizing this place?"
He made a face. "This is a mess! Nothing's labeled—"
Stiles balked. "Excuse you!"
"—you have your dry goods mixed with your canned goods, lunch items mixed with breakfast items, I have no idea when this produce was purchased—"
"It was just two days ago!" Stiles argued. Probably, anyway. It wasn't like Danny and Isaac sent him their shopping schedules.
Pantry Trespasser grabbed a potato out of a tub under the shelves and held it out. "Look at this. It's going soft. How long has it been here?"
That potato was looking pretty gnarly, and he was infuriated that Pantry Trespasser had a point. Stiles stammered. "I don't...I'm the baker. I buy the flour, not the fucking potatoes!"
"I thought this was your pantry," Pantry Trespasser said mockingly.
"That I share with two other people," Stiles reminded him. "And you still haven't answered my question. Who the hell are you?"
Pantry Trespasser dug a business card out of his pocket and handed it over. "Derek Hale. Peter's my uncle."
Stiles took the card, feeling suddenly very off-balance. The card read Derek S. Hale, Owner, Hale's Steakhouse in a very professional-looking typeface. The logo alone probably cost as much as Stiles's college education.
Then he registered the address. "New York? What the hell are you doing here?"
Pantry Trespasser—Derek—rolled his eyes. "Like I said, Peter's my uncle. He asked me to come out and take a look at the café, make some recommendations—"
"Oh my God, are you like an efficiency expert?" Stiles blurted out. "Are we doing that badly?" He didn't think they were; the café was always full for breakfast and lunch and everybody liked their food, but Stiles wasn't in charge of the budget. He didn't actually know. "Or are you like Gordon Ramsay? Is there someone filming this? Are you hosting a new season of Kitchen Nightmares? Oh my God, are we just a week away from shutting down?"
Derek stared at him, the exasperation on his face fading to confusion and a bit of disbelief. "For God's sake, breathe."
Stiles dragged in a breath; he sounded more panicked than he probably should have. He raked his hands through his hair. It wasn't even five-thirty in the morning; it was too early to process this shit. "Coffee. I need coffee."
"Yeah, I'm not entirely sure coffee is what you need." Derek tucked his notepad into his back pocket. "The café's doing fine. It's not going to go under and I'm not Gordon Ramsay."
Stiles made a face and stalked to the front of the store. That was one of the bigger bonuses of working at the café: the freshest, most delicious coffee whenever you wanted it. "The last time I heard someone rant about the state of a pantry, it was Gordon Ramsay."
Derek followed him through the darkened café. "Do you see any cameras?"
Stiles jabbed the bag of coffee at him. "No, but that doesn't mean they're not there."
"You are, without a doubt, the most paranoid person I've ever met."
"If you showed up to work at five in the morning and some...efficiency expert was in your pantry, what would your reaction be?" Stiles shot back.
"I own a restaurant in New York! Peter thinks the café could be doing better, and frankly, so do I. I'm just here to help make things more..."
He trailed off, and Stiles spun around, unable to keep the glee out of his voice. "Efficient?"
Derek glared at him so hard it was a wonder lasers didn't come out of his eyes. "I can't help it if it's the right word."
Stiles went back to making his coffee. "And skulking around the pantry at the crack of dawn is going to make us more efficient?"
"No, reviewing the pantry at the crack of dawn was supposed to show me the lay of the land before anyone else got here." Derek crossed his arms over his—frankly impressive—chest. "I didn't expect you."
"Yeah, because why would the baker be here two hours early? It's not like they need that long to get muffins and soufflés and shit out." Stiles checked his watch and cursed. "And now I've got less than an hour and a half."
He put the coffee aside for the time being—he'd pour it later—and bustled past Derek to get started on the muffins. If he hurried, he could have the first two batches out by the time Isaac and Allison got here at six-thirty to open up.
He grabbed flour, sugar, and baking powder out of the pantry and nearly bowled into Derek on his way back out. Stiles scowled. "Look, it's going to be very inefficient if you keep blocking my path while I'm trying to cook."
Derek held up his phone. "I'm timing you."
Stiles nearly dropped his armload. "What?"
"I want to see how long it takes you to collect your ingredients and how much time you waste poking around that pantry."
The ass. Stiles dumped his ingredients on the counter and grabbed out his weight and bowls. "I'm not wasting any time. I know that pantry like the back of my hand."
Derek smirked. "Sure you do."
Stiles counted it as a mark of his restraint that he managed to dump his flour in the bowl instead of flinging it at Derek's perfect, smug face. "Anybody ever tell you you're an asshole?"
"My sisters, and often." Derek held up his phone. "Tick tock."
Stiles grabbed a sandwich and a glass of water for his lunch and slid into the empty seat across from Lydia. "I'm going to kill him."
Lydia didn't even look up from her phone. "You're never going to kill Isaac. You'd have to take over the lunch shift until we hired someone else and you wouldn't last a week."
It was accurate, but Stiles still resented it. "One of these days we'll find another chef and I'll never have to deal with that scarf-wearing asshole again—"
"—but I wasn't talking about Isaac," he finished. "I was talking about His Majesty the efficiency expert who was in my pantry at five this morning!"
At that, Lydia did look up. "Efficiency expert?"
Allison dropped into the chair next to Lydia and dug into her spinach salad. "Peter hired an efficiency expert? Seriously?"
"Apparently his nephew is a bigshot restaurant owner from New York." Stiles took a bite of his sandwich and chewed angrily. "Derek Hale. I found him skulking in the pantry this morning."
Lydia's red eyebrows shot up. "Derek Hale?" She nodded at the cafe entrance. "You mean Tall, Dark, and Grumpy who's been up front all morning?"
Stiles spun around so fast he almost fell out of his chair. Sure enough, Derek was sitting up at the front of the café, notepad on the table. With the black glasses and the sweater, he fit right in with most of their clientele. Nobody knew an efficiency expert was in their midst.
Derek raised his head to look around the room, and Stiles whirled back around to face Lydia and Allison. "Shit. Do you think he heard me planning his imminent demise?"
Lydia rolled her eyes and took a bite of her own sandwich. "Unless he has super hearing, which I highly doubt."
"He timed me while I was making muffins this morning," Stiles grumbled into his lunch. "He said I wasted five minutes searching for ingredients in the pantry. First Peter denies me when I ask for a raise, now he's hired his nephew to harass me in my own pantry!"
"Technically it's the café's pantry," Lydia pointed out.
"But we see your point," Allison hurriedly cut in. "He may not be paying Derek, though. Or at least, not paying him much."
Stiles snorted. "Right, like a New York restaurateur is going to come out here for free."
"They are family." Allison shrugged and poured some vinaigrette on her salad. "Maybe Derek's just doing Peter a favor."
Lydia shook her head. "No, I'm with Stiles. There's no way Derek's doing this for free."
Stiles continued eating his sandwich, his stomach churning unhappily the entire time. No matter what Derek had said about the café not being in danger, all the evidence was pointing elsewhere. Stiles had been here for three years, and he loved his job, but it didn't speak to stability when Peter rejected his first-ever request for a raise and then hired someone to help the café do "better."
He really didn't want to start looking for a new job. It would probably mean moving away from Beacon Hills, and Stiles desperately didn't want to do that.
"You just wait," he said. "We're going to get called into Peter's office for a 'meeting' after we shut down this afternoon."
Allison and Lydia shared a look. "Well, at the very least, he'll tell us what Derek's doing here," Allison said. "It's probably not as bad as you're thinking."
Stiles pointed his bottle of water at her. "Your relentless optimism is adorable, Ally."
Sure enough, Peter called the café staff in for a meeting after they closed down at three and officially introduced Derek to everyone. Stiles heard "suggestions" and "efficiency" and immediately tuned out. He couldn't stop himself from looking at Derek, who stood next to Peter with his arms crossed, the maroon sweater stretching over his biceps.
He was the enemy, but that didn't mean Stiles couldn't fantasize a little bit about those arms.
The end result of the meeting was that Derek wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, and everybody should expect some changes to the way the café worked.
Stiles went home and jerked off angrily in the shower, fantasizing about Derek holding him up and fucking him against a wall.
He set his alarm for 4:30 and made a mental note to look at updating his resume.
When he got to work the next morning, there was a map tacked on the pantry door. Stiles blinked at it blearily, trying to decipher it.
He blamed the fact that he hadn't had any coffee for why it took him thirty seconds to see the giant "ORGANIZATIONAL MAP" headline.
The map showed the new layout for the pantry, along with new rules, such as "all items must be clearly labeled" and "use produce calendar to note date of purchase."
Grumbling, Stiles shoved the note aside and grabbed his ingredients for bagels and bread. He didn't need to reorganize the pantry. It was just fine the way it was.
He reorganized the pantry.
To be more specific, Isaac grabbed him by his coat as Stiles tried to slip out the back after his shift and dragged him to the pantry, despite Stiles's protests.
Which was how he ended up restacking his plastic flour bins in a Derek Approved (TM) location and writing FLOUR on all four sides in with a Derek Approved (TM) marker.
"This sucks," he muttered emphatically.
"I know," Isaac said. "That's the third time you've said as much in the past thirty minutes."
"That's because it sucks."
"Quit bitching and label your sugar."
"Oh, I'll give him labels," Stiles said darkly, eyeing the stack of sticky notes lying on the floor. "I'll give him all the labels."
"I want no part of this," Isaac said. "I saw nothing."
It might have taken Stiles an extra hour in the pantry, but it was going to be worth it.
Stiles spent most of the next day watching the pantry without looking like he was watching the pantry, waiting with bated breath for Derek to go inside. He cackled evilly to himself as he baked scones, which probably accounted for why Danny walked in, took one look at him, and went immediately up to the front without so much as a "good morning."
Stiles ignored him. Danny was sick yesterday, Danny didn't have to reorganize the entire damn pantry; ergo, Danny could deal with it.
Of course, because Stiles wanted him to go inside the pantry meant Derek didn't. He was out front talking to customers, he was helping with the registers and carrying food, he was meeting Peter in his office, he was checking in on the kitchen, but he was not going into the pantry.
Stiles made way more bread than usual, partly because he was distracted and just needed something to knead.
His shift ended without Derek ever walking into the pantry. Although Stiles made his lunch break last as long as he could, he had to give up and head home without seeing Derek's reaction.
And that was the biggest tragedy.
The next morning, Stiles stumbled into the kitchen, hung up his hoodie, opened the pantry, and blinked.
The sticky notes were still there. Every single one of them, labeling everything from the boxed stuff (cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder) to the canned stuff (black beans, corn, peas) to the things that didn't even need to be labeled (the floor, the shelves, the wall, the door). It looked like a sticky note bomb had exploded in the pantry.
Hey, when Stiles pulled a prank, he was thorough.
He'd thought for sure Derek would go through and throw them all away, or maybe leave a snarky passive-aggressive note on the door like he had with the new organizational chart, but no.
Stiles rubbed his eyes. Well, maybe Derek hadn't come in here yesterday. Which meant he could watch the reaction today. Which would totally be worth the annoyance of dealing with the sticky notes.
Yeah, he probably hadn't thought this one all the way through.
Stiles bent down and grabbed the tub of flour from under the bottom shelf, pulling it out to see two sticky notes on the lid. His caffeine-deprived brain took a moment to register that they were written in blue pen, not black marker, and it wasn't his handwriting.
Thank you for labeling everything so thoroughly. You missed this one, though.
The second sticky note just said FLOUR.
Stiles did not laugh. He did not. Derek was not funny, and he was absolutely not reluctantly amused that Derek played along instead of getting pissed off.
His lips twitched involuntarily. Probably something in the air.
Stiles grabbed his ingredients and stalked out of the pantry, fighting a smile the entire time.
"We need to talk."
Stiles flailed in surprise at Derek's voice right over his shoulder. He banged his elbow against the pantry door and swore. "Holy shit, could you be more creepy?"
Derek's thick eyebrows went up, and okay, with the glasses and the sweater (green today) he didn't look creepy. In fact, he looked soft and kind of cuddly. But Stiles thought the point stood, especially since the words "we need to talk" never, ever meant something good for the person to whom they were uttered.
Oh shit, was he about to get fired?
His heart pounded harder. "Oh God, is this about the sticky notes? Are you going to fire me over sticky notes?" Stiles asked, his voice jumping way higher than normal. "Technically, you never said I couldn't use sticky notes to label stuff in the pantry and your rules were pretty vague about what needed to be labeled, and—"
"Oh my God, do you ever shut up?" Derek muttered, stepping into the pantry and closing the door behind him. "You're not getting fired. And I don't even have the power to fire you, good God."
Stiles snapped his mouth shut, which lasted all of two seconds before he said, "You're really not firing me?"
Derek took off his glasses and wiped his hand over his face. "No. You've got a good work ethic, you're punctual, and you're a great baker. Yes, you're a little shit, but you work for Peter. You have to be a little shit to survive working for Peter."
His brain had screeched to a halt somewhere around "good work ethic," and all Stiles could say was, "Oh."
Derek sighed. "I wanted to talk to you about Peter, actually. You asked for a raise a few weeks ago, right? He turned it down?"
Stiles nodded dumbly.
Derek nodded once in return, like he'd just been looking for confirmation. "Well, you deserve one. Just about everybody here deserves one, honestly."
Stiles couldn't believe his ears. "We do?"
"You do," Derek said. "And I've talked Peter into giving you all one. It's not as much as you asked for—we don't have the budget for that just yet—but it's something. And with some of the other changes we're making, I hope we'll get to that point soon."
"All," Stiles repeated. He was still half-convinced he was hearing things. "You...you're not firing any of us."
"You're giving us all raises."
"You don't have the power to fire us, but you have the power to give us raises?"
Derek rolled his eyes. "I have the power to convince my uncle he's got something good here, and if he gets his head out of his ass, he'll be able to keep it, along with all the people who make it good."
Stiles barked a laugh of both amusement and relief before he remembered he was laughing about his boss, and he clapped a hand over his mouth.
Derek's lips twitched up into a smile, softening his whole face. "Anyway. That's all I wanted to tell you." He backed away and opened the pantry door. "See you tomorrow."
"See you!" Stiles called back, once he'd shaken himself out of his shock, but the pantry door had already closed.
Sure enough, that Friday, Stiles's paycheck had an extra two hundred dollars on it. He gaped at his bank account for about ten minutes before fumbling out his phone and calling Allison.
"Did you get a raise this week?" he blurted as soon as she answered the phone.
"Hello to you, too," Allison said. "And yes, I did. Lydia did, too, and she said Danny did as well. I haven't talked to Isaac yet. Didn't you?"
"Yeah." He sat back in his desk chair, still waiting for the dollar amount in his bank account to readjust itself. "Yeah, I did, and Derek told me about it, but..."
"But you didn't think he was telling the truth?" Allison sounded amused.
Stiles stuck his tongue out at her, even though she couldn't see him. "Well, you never know! He could have been stringing us along."
"Well, now you know he wasn't."
"Yeah." He dragged his hand through his hair. "Now I feel kind of like an ass."
Allison snorted. "This is what it takes for you to feel kind of like an ass?"
"Quiet, you. You're supposed to be my supportive friend!"
"I'm the honest friend. Scott is the supportive friend," Allison said. "Speaking of, I needed to leave five minutes ago to meet him. Did you need anything else, or have you finished your crisis for the evening?"
Stiles sighed. "I should probably apologize for yelling at him."
"You probably should, yes." Allison sounded like she was grinning. "Apologizing is good for the soul."
"Shut up," Stiles said, though he couldn't put any heat into it.
He hung up with Allison and sat in his living room, trying to think of the best way to apologize to Derek that maybe wouldn't require actually apologizing.
His eyes fell on the overripe bananas he had sitting on his counter.
Now that was an idea.
The next day, Stiles knocked on the door to Derek's office—well, it was Peter's office, but Peter seemed to think having another family member within 50 miles of the café meant he could just dick off whenever he wanted. So, effectively, that made it Derek's office for the time being.
Stiles needed to quit thinking about it.
Derek opened the door, looking adorably confused. "Stiles? I thought you went home."
Stiles shoved the gift bag into Derek's arms. "Here. This is for you."
Derek took it slowly and gingerly, like one might take an unexploded landmine. "What is it?" he asked warily.
"Apology bread," Stiles said. "Well, specifically, butterscotch banana bread, but in this particular instance it is doubling as apology bread."
"Apology bread," Derek repeated, dark eyebrows rising. "And why are you giving me apology bread?"
"Because I'm apologizing, of course."
Derek pulled the bread out of the bag and held it up. "What are you apologizing for?"
Dammit. He wasn't letting Stiles off easy. "For yelling at you in my pantry. For making dumb assumptions as to your reasons for being here. I'm not apologizing for calling you an asshole, because the fact that you're making me spell all this out tells me you are an asshole."
Derek's face split into a grin, revealing—oh God—the most adorable bunny teeth Stiles had ever seen in his life. "Takes one to know one."
Stiles jabbed his finger at Derek's chest. "Exactly."
"Well. In that case, apology bread accepted." Derek peeled the plastic wrap off the bread and popped a piece into his mouth. His eyes widened behind his glasses and he moaned around the bite. "Wow. That's amazing."
Stiles was used to people complimenting his baking, but he wasn't quite used to, well, to Derek making any noise that could be described as pornographic. And that was definitely what that moan had been.
"I, uh, glad you like it." Stiles coughed and turned away and hoped Derek didn't notice that his face was flaming.
"Seriously, this is fantastic," Derek said around another mouthful of bread. "Can we put this on the menu?"
"No!" Stiles said, maybe too quickly because Derek jerked like he'd been slapped. "No," he repeated, more quietly. "It's my mom's recipe, and I just...you know, it's kind of..."
"Personal?" Derek supplied.
Derek looked back down at the bread, his expression unreadable. "Did she teach you to bake?"
"Yeah." Stiles shrugged, trying to project not a big deal, but he had a feeling it wasn't working. "My granddad taught her, so she was teaching me right up until she got too sick to be in the kitchen anymore. I couldn't bake for about a year after she died, but then it got to be too hard not to bake. I missed her more and less when I was." He scratched the back of his head. "Sorry. That doesn't make any sense."
"No, it does." Derek regarded him evenly. "You feel closer to her when you bake, which makes you miss her less, but it reminds you she's not here, which makes you miss her more."
Stiles nodded. "Sorry. Didn't mean to get so deep. Just...wanted to bring you the bread."
He turned to run out the door when Derek cleared his throat and said, "I never really learned how to bake."
Stiles stopped in his tracks and turned back around. Derek was nibbling on a small piece of the bread, and unless Stiles was mistaken, that was a blush under that beard.
His brain crashed and had to reboot at the sight of Derek blushing, and it took Stiles a minute to replay the conversation in his head. "Do you want to learn?"
Derek nodded. "I've always wanted to. Just, with the restaurant and menus and running a business, I've never had time."
"Well." Stiles cracked his knuckles. "It just so happens you're looking at the best baker in Beacon Hills. I'd be happy to give you some lessons before you head back to New York."
Derek shifted his weight against the desk. "Um, I don't think I am. Going back to New York, that is."
Stiles hadn't expected that. "Wait, what?"
"That's a big part of the reason I came here." Derek gestured to the café. "Peter needed help, and I was looking for an excuse to come back to Beacon Hills, since most of my family's here. New York's been great, but I've missed this place."
Stiles tamped down on the spark of hope that flared in his chest. "That's great! So you're going to be sticking around the café?"
Derek shook his head. "I was thinking of opening my own restaurant. Maybe a Beacon Hills branch of the steakhouse."
"We could use a good steakhouse," Stiles agreed. "Although if you do, I'm going to give you my dad's picture and you are not allowed to let him eat there. And if he does, you have to ensure that he has chicken. Or fish. Or salad. Or something not red meat."
Derek threw back his head and laughed, and Stiles felt tingly all over.
"I'll keep that in mind," Derek said. "So, baking?"
"Baking!" Stiles clapped his hands together and thought fast. "Well, the best place would probably be here, because we have way more equipment than I do at my apartment. And since the café closes at two tomorrow, we could just come in after and do something easy. Like bread."
Derek's eyebrows shot up. "Bread is easy?"
"Bread is super easy. Yeast, water, something sweet, flour, butter, knead, rise, punch, put in loaf pan, rise again, bake for 30 minutes to an hour." He shrugged. "The total time you're doing something is like forty-five minutes, if that. Mostly it's waiting for the dough to rise. It's relaxing."
"Relaxing." Derek sounded skeptical.
"Now that is the sound of a doubter, my friend." Stiles crossed the room and poked Derek's chest. "I will prove to you that baking bread can be very relaxing."
Derek raised an eyebrow. "More relaxing than other activities?"
The suggestive tone went straight to Stiles's dick, scattering his thoughts. But oh, two could play at this game and he was not going to let Derek one-up him here. "Oh, I don't know." Stiles smirked in challenge. "Maybe we should compare. Try out some of those other activities along with making bread. See which one's more...relaxing."
Derek's lips twisted, like he was fighting a smile. "Well, I'd say it's a date, then."
Stiles somehow kept himself from doing a victory dance and just winked instead. "It's a date."
Before today, Stiles would have said it was impossible to be bad at baking. All you had to do was follow a recipe. Seriously, even kids could do it.
Derek apparently lived to prove him wrong.
"Dude, I said knead the bread, not glare at the bread."
Derek's response was a deeper glower, and he poked the dough with two fingers. His shirt was rolled up past his elbows and his hands and forearms were covered with flour, and Stiles found it way more attractive than any normal person should. "I am kneading it."
Stiles rolled his eyes. "Kneading needs to be a little harder than that."
Derek punched the dough with a frustrated grunt.
"No, punching doesn't happen until later." Stiles scooted over, elbowing Derek gently. "Here, stand behind me and put your hands on mine. Feel what I'm doing."
And, okay, maybe this wasn't the best idea Stiles had ever had, because as soon as he was in place, Derek stepped right up behind him. His chest pressed in a hot line along Stiles's back and his floured hands dragged slowly down Stiles's forearms until they were in place.
"Ready," Derek murmured, low and sultry, right into his ear.
That fucker knew exactly what he was doing. Stiles kind of loved it.
He started kneading the bread, pushing into the dough and pulling it back toward him, massaging it as it started to come together. Derek's hands moved with his, and with every push forward, his nose brushed right along the shell of Stiles's ear.
It was maddening.
"There, see?" Stiles said, hoping he didn't sound as breathless as he felt. "Nothing to it. Just get a rhythm going."
"Mm-hmm." Derek hummed, warm breath ghosting across Stiles's ear and down his neck. "I like watching you work with your hands."
Stiles could feel Derek's smirk against his skin. "That all you like?"
"I can think of a few other things."
"Damn, you're smooth," Stiles said. "I'm pretty sure that line would never work for me."
Derek laughed. "Is it working for me?"
"A little," Stiles admitted. "There, dough's ready. Can you go grab that bowl?"
Derek kissed the back of his neck and moved away, and Stiles silently mourned the loss of the heat. He busied himself shaping the dough into a ball until Derek set the oiled bowl next to him. Stiles dropped the dough in, coating it with some of the oil, and then he draped a towel over the bowl and put in the pre-warmed oven to rise.
"And we're done with the first part." He straightened and wiped his floury, oily hands on a dish towel. "Now the dough has to rise for an hour."
Derek nodded, already wiping his own hands clean with a wet paper towel. "And then we punch it down, make a loaf, and let it rise again before baking it?"
"Yup!" Stiles grinned. "See? It's easy!"
"I'll believe it when the bread comes out edible," Derek said. "So what do we do with an hour of free time?"
"Well," Stiles drew the word out, "I seem to remember you making some comments about activities other than baking being relaxing. And, I mean, obviously I'm biased toward baking, but I've always been a huge fan of researching things very thoroughly."
"An excellent quality." Derek smirked. "I take it to mean you'd like to do one of those other activities now? For comparison purposes?"
Stiles shrugged, trying to look unaffected despite how fast his heart hammered in his chest. From Derek's continuing smirk, it wasn't working. "Well, you know. If you know of any activities we can do in an hour or less."
Derek's smile was positively wolfish. "Yeah. I can think of a few."
"Well then." Stiles held up his phone, with the timer counting down, and grinned. "Tick tock."