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Lock All The Doors Behind You

PDF Andre wrote: "I really have to ask this:
What is the appeal of Sterek?"


Why I read Sterek.

Actually, it’s Stiles. It’s all about the Stiles.

Firstly, I have never seen an episode of Teen Wolf. My love for Stiles is based purely on fanfics. I actually prefer Steter (Peter/Stiles) over Sterek, because Peter brings a nice edge of sociopathy and non-con to the storyworld. But I guess the question is why Teen Wolf fanfics at all?

I’m speaking only for myself. Other people may have a completely different reason for liking the fics.

1) Stiles as my ideal self
Stiles is socially awkward; he has ADHD, but in an amusing and offbeat way. He speaks before thinking, but he’s wryly witty, full of deft observations of his world, like a kind of teenage 21st century Seinfeld. Stiles is funny. Now I’ve got the daily medication and the speaking before thinking thing down pat, but I’ve never been funny in my life. Stiles is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy – not one that I wish would come into my life and make it magical, but one whom I wish I could be.

2) Stiles as a pack member
Stiles is actually a very lonely individual. In the AU fics where he there is no pack, or in the fics where the pack has cast him out (like the wonderful Happier by Grimm) Stiles is utterly alone except for a single family member, who is notable bybeing absent 99% of the time. Well, this is me.The only reason I won’t end up as the woman eaten by cats on her kitchen floor is that my apartment building doesn’t allow pets. But Stiles fics hold out this shining treasure – friendship. Stiles has Scott. Stiles has the pack. Teen Wolf fics offer me this glimpse into a life where an alternate version of me could have people to play board games with, go the movies with, even do this weird and unknown thing called “hanging out”. It’s total fantasy land. God, do you know what I would have given, ever, to have the kind of friendships that Stiles has in these stories? But alas, I am an unlikeable person, who never had the knack of being someone other people want to be around. Because romance novels usually focus on the primary pairing they seldom include deep friendships as part of the plot. In TW fics sometimes the friendships are often only a minor part of the story, but they’re almost always there, and they’re a glimpse of iridescence on the inside of the abalone shell of the story. Stiles is often written as the glue that binds the disparate pieces of the pack together. Total. Fantasy. Land. If I’m on holiday from work I can easily go a week without speaking to anyone other than the barista at the coffee shop.

3) Stiles as treasured and special
Both Steter and Sterek fics revolve around the fact that a (literal) Alpha male sees the real value of Stiles – that someone strong and powerful sees the value in Stiles that the regular world overlooks; the hidden worth that is true worth – rather than the surface qualities that others receive their social value through. Stiles’s school represents our everyday world, but outside of this is the powerful figure who knows better, who sees things how they ‘really’ are, without the veil of superficiality. A recurring theme in Sterek stories is Stiles as ‘anchor’ – as the one that bonds with Derek and provides him an ability to find his calmness, to deal with others, who can reason with him when the animal instincts take over. This absolutely isn’t a basis for a solid relationship – in fact IRL this spells disaster - but hell, see point 2 above. No-one has ever seen me as special, although many people saw me as a hot piece of ass when I was younger. Speaking as someone who feels like a disassociated human mind stuck inside a meat body, this is actually worse than not being desired at all.Someone is sexually attracted to this meat body? But that’s not me at all. The meat body will fail, grow old, become flawed and then you’ll be attracted to someone younger with newer meat. The actual me inside will only become richer in experience, and failing dementia (and on the diagnosis of which I am choosing suicide), will improve with age. And the kicker is that only Stiles will do. There is no other option. To be seen, claimed, as irreplaceable and unique - on the value of who he is, and what he can do, in spite of his (theoretically, in fic land, anyway) unprepossessing exterior - is a perfect fantasy.

4) The world as more than base reality
I have no belief in any supernatural entity, including any form of higher power. But how I do wish that there was more to our existence than meets the eye. I like that Sterek fics present a world in which there is a whole squirming ecosystem under the leaf litter of the everyday world (the Nematon, anyone?) (Quantum physics does this for me too, but there are fewer m/m fics about quantum physics).

You can see that Derek, as a character, is unimportant to me. It's not about the Sterek at all. That particular ship is a mere placeholder for the qualities of imagining myself as intellectually appreciated, special, cared about, and existing as an integral part of a broader community. Sounds like a perfect antidote to current neoliberal individualism.

So, yeah, in Sterek we have a perfect storm of stories addressing my every shortcoming, lack, and general failing. What’s not to love?

ETA: I missed one out. 5) The Sheriff. Stiles's reverse-parenting does not eclipse the unconditional protective love Stiles's dad has for him. And that's probably all I should articulate about that.

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