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.
Thank you so much for all of the sweet comments and I hope you guys like this chapter. It is so sweet and I love it. I recommend for the end you listen to Sam Tsui's cover of Try by Pink because you just need to. I hope you enjoy
The suggestions went on for the next few days that then turned into weeks. It went back and forth between Stiles and Derek, whether Stiles wanted him to learn to play a song or if Derek wanted to play one and wanted Stiles to know the lyrics. It was a learning experience because if one of them would mess up they would start over until they could get through the whole song. This could go on for sometimes hours at a time and it was always the highlight to Stiles day and it became something he looked forward to.
While that alone made him happy, it also brought a new level to their relationship, you could say. Now if they ran into each other they would talk about all kinds of things. In the mornings Stiles found himself more often than not almost being late to work because he would rush out of his apartment and would spend all the time he could chatting with Derek in the hallway before he really had to go. Derek would also find some kind of excuse to talk to Stiles and it made his chest feel all warm. They talked about a whole range of stuff from things that were said just to pass the time or things about themselves. Like for instance, Stiles found out that Derek was only a few years older than him and had a degree in Literary Arts. He also found out that Derek is slightly freaked out about pineapples from some kind of traumatic experience he went through as a child with his older sister Laura. Stiles had tried so hard to find out the story behind that but Derek refused to share, which wasn’t fair because if you mention something that interesting it wasn’t kind to leave a person hanging.
Likewise, Derek found out a lot about Stiles. He had shared about his ADD and how that was a blessing and a curse in its respective ways. How he was always fidgeting around and hoarded sticky notes with little reminders for him since he forgot things easily, but also if he found something interesting or worthy of his time he could be incredibly focused and driven. Stiles had even shared a little insight about his mother and how she used to cook amazing food every night and when she had died Stiles did his best to carry that tradition on when he still lived with his dad. Many people say that you usually have to go on a date with someone you like if you want to know more about them, but that logic had completely overlooked Stiles.
And of course there was flirting in their conversations. It wasn’t anything outrageous but more like they were both testing the waters. It was little things like complimenting each others appearance (i.e Stiles blurting out that Derek looked good clean shaven but looked hot when he wasn’t, and that lead to Derek growing a borderline beard that he possibly had one too many fantasies about tickling many places on his body) to half way pick up lines and comments. Stiles felt like he was a teenager again trying to be subtle with his crush. It was both thrilling and obnoxious and he absolutely loved it. All of his friends and even his dad kept telling him to grow some balls and ask him out but he never did. Stiles always made excuses saying things like “I’m too nervous to. Yeah, shocking I know,” or “Derek is probably just being nice and I’m reading too much into it.” In reality, he knew Derek was giving him signals and he really wasn’t that nervous, but Stiles just didn’t feel like the time was right to act on their mutual attraction. He didn’t want to disturb their little bubble that they had all to themselves.
Stiles held no illusions to the fact that one way or another they would have to leave their bubble and do something about everything, so maybe that’s why when he saw a sticky note on his door he wasn’t all too surprised about what it said. “Come to my apartment tonight at 7 for dinner. My treat.” Stiles could feel himself blushing as he smiled and went inside. Since he just got off of work he had about an hour and a half until he was going to go down to Derek’s apartment. His hands and feet tingled in excitement and he couldn’t tell if it was either going to feel like an eternity or like five seconds until it was 7. Stiles opened his door and walked into his apartment. He put his work bag down and dug out his phone to call Scott and tell him the news. The phone rang only twice before Scott answered.
“He wants to have me over at his place for dinner.” Stiles said instantly, not bothering to explain much.
“Well hello to you too.” Scott said.
“Did you not hear what I said? Derek is asking me to go to his apartment for dinner! As your best friend I demand that I at least have some form of congratulations.” Stiles deadpanned.
“Okay, fine. Stiles that really is great, I’m glad the two of you are putting on your big boy pants and are having a date. I know you really like the guy.” Stiles beamed at his phone.
“Thank you dear Scotty.” He said, pausing as his happy face transformed into one of horror. “Oh my god, what am I going to wear?” He asked, half to himself. Stiles heard some shifting from the other line and a new voice greeted him from over the phone.
“Hello Stiles.” Allison’s voice never ceased to sound so confident and assured and it helped him calm his theatrics down. “Now, you are going to do everything I tell you so you can be your best for this date, okay?”
After his conversation with Allison, Stiles put everything into action. He took a shower, brushed his teeth, and made sure his hair wasn’t a complete mess. He went to his closet and as Allison instructed pulled out a grey button up shirt with a pair of nice worn jeans of his. He wasn’t going too fancy since it wasn’t like he was going out somewhere but was still going to avoid looking too casual since it was a date after all. Deciding to be a little adventurous he left the first few buttons undone and sprayed on some really expensive cologne that his dad got him one Christmas that he only wore on special occasions. By now the news had been spread to Lydia and when he got out of the shower he discovered a snapchat she had sent him with her winking at him and giving him a thumbs up with the caption reading go get ‘em you man eater ;))). Stiles sent her back a video saying that was the most pathetic thing he had ever seen her say.
Stiles was blessed with 7 o’clock coming quickly so he didn’t have to nervously wait around. He walked down the stairs and knocked on Derek’s door. They had never been inside each others apartment and Stiles was eager to see the space Derek lived in, to see the little things that made him him. Not to mention he would finally be able to see the piano that Derek played so wonderfully. Only a few seconds later the door opened and Stiles had to keep from drooling at the sight of the man in front of him. Derek wore jeans like him but the ones that fit him in such a way that Stiles had more than once wanted to bounce a quarter off of what looked like the most perfect bubble butt he had ever seen. He had on a threadbare dark blue Henley that made his eyes seem a much brighter blue-green than normal. Stiles would swear up and down that Derek’s eyes changed colors all the time depending on his surroundings. And dear god, those arms. Stiles could write sonnets about those arms.
“Hi.” Stiles said, grinning back at Derek.
“Hi.” He replied, opening the door further for Stiles to walk in, which he happily did. He didn’t bother hiding the fact that he was looking around. Derek’s apartment was the perfect mix of secluded and open. There were bookcases everywhere filled with books that looked like they’ve been worn from being read more than once. The large windows had dark curtains that were pulled to the side to let some of the natural light in. The overhead lights were apparently adjustable because everything was lit in a warm, intimate glow. By the windows where what looked to the the living room stood Derek’s infamous piano. It was a grand thing, made out of solid dark wood. While it looked well used and older it was still polished and Derek obviously took pride in it. Stiles wasn’t a music expert but he guessed with the age and style of the piano along with all of the rock and wood of the apartment made for great acoustics that made the piano sound as good as it did.
“You have a really nice place here.” Stiles commented, turning around to find Derek watching him.
“Thank you. It’s kind of my place to get away to after the day. It’s a still place.” Derek said. Stiles agreed on that. It was always nice to have a place you can go to to recharge your battery. “And dinner is ready if you want to go ahead and eat. If you don’t we don’t have to right now.” He added. Stiles smiled at the faint flush on Derek’s cheeks and it made a blush of his own show up at the thought that Derek was getting nervous over him.
“I’d love to eat now.” He said. Following Derek into the kitchen, Stiles smiled as he saw the food he had made.
“I remembered that you liked Italian so I did my best with making spaghetti and meatballs.” Derek said. He made their plates and set them out on the small dining room table. Derek even brought out a bottle of wine that they had no problem going through. Over dinner the conversation flowed much easier, the awkward tension from earlier disappearing, though that probably had something to do with the wine too.
“Okay, seriously, where did you learn to cook so well?” Stiles asked, giggling slightly. They had just finished eating and were nursing the last little bit of wine they had. “Because that really too good to just have been something to make on the spot.” Derek just shrugged, having some decency to look somewhat modest at the praises.
“My family was big on doing, well, family things. My mom made sure that it was enforced that we spent all the time we could together and that we stuck to activities and things. All of us had nights where we were assigned that a certain night we would make dinner. Of course, everyone would help but you would get to pick what was going to be for dinner and you had the chance to boss everyone around. And being the youngest that was the absolutely the best thing to do when I knew my other siblings couldn't go against me.” Derek’s smile came easily now as he talked about his family. It was obvious that he was a big family person. “And I just liked cooking so I picked up more than a few tricks from my mom.”
“That sounds really nice.” Stiles said, maybe a little wistfully. “Before my mom passed it was just the three of us and she’d always make sure that we had good healthy meals. They stopped for awhile until I could learn to make them, but the whole family dinner thing became more permanent when all of my friends would come over. They’re all my family even if we aren’t related by blood.” Sometime while he talked Derek reached over and held his free hand on the table. They played with each others fingers and it was just overall sweet and relaxed. Derek downed the last of his wine and stood up, not letting go of Stiles’ hand and pulling him up with him.
“Want to hear me play?” Derek asked, motioning over to the piano with his head.
“Please.” Stiles said immediately. He wanted nothing more than to see Derek play the piano while hearing it at the same time. He was sure that Derek was going to look like something out of a fantasy. Derek lead Stiles over to the grand piano and sat down on the bench. Stiles sat right next to him, their sides pressed together since the seat wasn’t wide enough for two people. He watched as Derek’s steady fingers brushed over the keys before he started playing. The quick movements of his fingers were so fluid and it was just mesmerizing to watch. Skill like that came from years of hard work and dedication. Stiles closed his eyes and leaned his head on Derek’s shoulder while he enjoyed the wonderful sounds that the other man was making from just a few movements from his hands. Eventually though the mindless tune turned into a very familiar one and he lifted his head to sing along.
“Ever wonder ‘bout what he’s doing, how it’s all turned to lies. Sometimes I think that it’s better to never ask why.” Stiles took a deep breath for the chorus and could feel Derek’s eyes on him even though he was still easily playing the piano.
“Where there is desire there is gonna be a flame, and where there is a flame someone’s bound to get burned, but just because it burns doesn’t mean you’re gonna die, you gotta get up and try, try, try.” Stiles put all he had into singing, listening the way his voice and the piano blended together as they reverberated off of the walls and the floors. Stiles was right about the acoustics being really amazing. When the song was coming to an end, Stiles let the volume of his singing drift off slowly all the while looking at Deker. He played the last few notes until the last one slowly died down until it was completely silent. Derek lifted a hand from the piano and cupped Stiles’ jaw before he leaned in for a kiss. His lips were the slightest bit chapped but they moved confidently against his own. The scruff was rubbing against his mouth in the loveliest of ways and now the only reason why he felt all warm inside was because of the kiss and not the wine. Stiles kissed back and wound his arms around Derek, pressing them more firmly together.
In the dim light in silence, Stiles knew he was falling in love.