It wasn’t at all uncommon for Stiles to hear the steady, sure sounds of the piano that the person under him played. It started usually later in the evening, always around 8 or so at night. When he had first moved into the building - an old mill of some sort that had been renovated into an apartment building that was cheap and had a lot of space- it seemed like a slow and quiet place. There weren’t a lot of people who lived in the building so most everyone could have an apartment without anyone in the surrounding ones so you wouldn’t have to worry about making too much noise or having someone do the same. Though Stiles didn’t care about that and had insisted that he got the apartment on the third floor because it had the best view and the layout was perfect for him. The first night he slept in his apartment he was not expecting to hear the soft sounds of a piano coming from the apartment below.
For the first week Stiles was a little irritated that every night the same piano would be played around the same time for who knows how long, but he could never stay that way. He always found himself enjoying the disturbance to the silence it offered, and whoever played it played it well. He even found himself humming along to some of the songs he recognized. Stiles also found that he could fall asleep very easy when the piano was played. Some nights whoever played it was either trying to learn how to play a new song or they were making their own. He never minded listening to the pauses in between verses or one verse being repeated over and over. He didn’t mind the slip ups either. They made it more human or something. More real and less like a CD playing songs.
It was three weeks in to living in the old mill when he found out the name of who lived below him. He was checking his mail one day and, yes, he decided to snoop at the other names. Derek Hale was the person who lived in apartment no. 9; the apartment right under Stiles. Then after that it was a little over a month until he could apply the name to a face. Stiles wasn’t sure exactly what he was expecting Derek to look like, but he wasn’t complaining to what he did look like. Six feet of tall, dark, and handsome greeted Stiles after he came back from having lunch with Scott, Allison, and Lydia. He was dressed in comfortable looking, form fitting jeans and a white Henley shirt. He was in the process of putting a black leather jacket on and walking out of apartment no. 9. Stiles had paused and blinked at the hotter-than-Michelangelo's-David that had to most beautiful eyes he’s ever seen. Realizing he was staring, Stiles blushed and gave a quick hello. After that Stiles saw Derek everywhere. Getting in/out of his car, in fast food places late at night, checking his mail early every other morning. If they both saw each other they would say hi.
The piano never stopped playing every night, and Stiles never brought it up in the passing conversations. With the songs he recognized, it went from humming to actually singing along. At first he would only do it under his breath but one night when Derek was playing a song he knew well and liked a lot he ended up singing louder than he had meant to. The music had faltered for a moment before picking back up, and it sounded like Derek was making an effort to play a little louder. When one song would end Derek would play another tune, and if Stiles didn't sing along because he didn’t know the words he would just stay quiet until the tune changed to something else. The music lasted until much later in the evening than usual and the whole time Stiles had a smile on his face.
Even though this happened roughly every night, he and Derek never talked about it. Sure their conversations had started to get a little longer, and Stiles possibly exaggerated the weight of all the groceries he was trying to carry up to his apartment in one go when Derek had noticed and offered to help him with some of them, but they didn't bring it up. It almost felt like if they did then that...intimacy or whatever would be gone. Stiles didn’t know exactly what it was but he didn’t want it to go away.
One night after a long day at work when he was walking up the many stairs he had to go up (the bad part of living on the third floor) he paused when he passed Derek’s door. Stiles had no clue whether or not he was home but that didn't matter. At the last second Stiles decided fuck it and went to his apartment. He grabbed a colorful sticky note from the many that he had to have and scribbled down “Rather Be by Clean Bandit.” He went back to Derek’s door and stuck it on there, and just because he could he knocked on the door in case Derek was home so he would see it and quickly escaped back to his apartment. The whole evening Stiles couldn’t stop fidgeting. What if he overstepped some kind of line? He definitely didn't have any kind of go ahead to make fucking suggestions for Derek to play. And around the time the piano usually started up and it didn't, Stiles was sure he had messed everything up. Effectively sulking, he started making himself something to eat that didn’t take a lot of effort for him to make, which was basically cereal. It had been over an hour when Derek would've started playing and the stillness that was always filled with the sound of his piano and Stiles singing was gone. He turned on the tv without really paying attention to what was on.
That’s when he heard it. The piano wasn't that loud and Stiles turned the tv off just so he could listen. There were a lot of trip ups that Derek didn’t normally have, but Stiles instantly recognized the song he was playing and absolutely beamed.
“We’re a thousand miles from comfort, we have traveled land and sea, but as long as you are with me, there’s no place I’d rather be,” Stiles sang confidently. As he sang the volume of the piano beneath him picked up and Stiles didn’t care when it sounded like a finger slipped up on the keys. None of it mattered because Derek was playing a song he asked for and that made his ridiculously happy.
“If you gave me a chance I would take it, it's a shot in the dark but I'll make it, know with all of your heart, you can't shake me, when I am with you there's no place I'd rather be!” Stiles continued, getting up off of his old couch and if he ended up dancing a little but then that was his business and his business only. Once the song ended he just settled with listening to Derek playing the tune in certain parts, obviously trying to get it to where he didn’t mess up. It made Stiles feel a little fuzzy and blush when he thought that maybe Derek had tried to learn the notes of the song before he played in for him.
At this realization he sent a quick group chat to Scott and Lydia since he knew Scott would keep Allison updated. He had long since told them about hunky Derek who played the piano and while at first they just humored him they quickly came to encourage him to do something about his “little crush”. Stile wanted to, holy shit did he want to, but he just couldn’t figure out on how someone like him would ask out someone like Derek. During their quick late night chat -with them still telling him to ask Derek out- Stiles brought up that he didn’t even know if Derek was gay or liked guys in general. Lydia was quick to reply with, “No man learns how to play a song on the piano for someone and then works on perfecting it if they didn’t like said person.” She was right of course, but that didn’t erase all of the doubt and nervousness that Stiles had. After saying goodnight to everyone, he fell asleep to the familiar sound of Derek’s piano.
The next morning Stiles was in a rush to get to work and was ready and out the door quicker than he probably ever has. Fumbling with his keys to lock the door, he paused when he saw a plain yellow sticky note right above his lock. He peeled it off, looking at the somehow messy yet still neat handwriting on it. “Lose It by Oh Wonder” it said. A slow smile took over his face. When he got in his jeep and drove to work he looked up the song and downloaded it, listening to it on repeat and memorizing the words as he soon began to sing along.
Stiles found himself really, really looking forward to tonight.