See, the thing is, Stiles brings out the best in Derek. With everyone else, Derek is invariably this swaggering, brutalizing werewolf, but with Stiles, he has these moments of startling vulnerability that he doesn’t have with anyone else. ANYONE ELSE.
GIFs courtesy of -beaconhills:
Yes, those are all expressions Derek has when he looks at Stiles. I challenge you - nay, I dare you - to find a single other character on the entire show that gets those looks from Derek. That often.
You will find none.
Because Stiles disarms Derek. Somehow, he effortlessly gets Derek to drop his armor, that iron-wrought aggression Derek uses to keep the world at bay. Stiles just - takes him apart, lays him bare, in ways that no one else does. That no one else can.
And Derek is a better person with Stiles than he is with anyone else. His most selfless moments are invariably moments in which he’s saving Stiles, for no other reason than, well, saving Stiles.
Derek’s motivations aren’t pure when it comes to Isaac and Boyd and Erica. Not even Scott. Derek’s always trying to manipulate them or train them for the good of the pack, even if he has to pulverize them to do it. He’s never like that with Stiles. Never. He has never manipulated Stiles or lied to him or forced him or beaten him. Ever. (The door-slamming is just posturing; it doesn't even leave a bruise.) Sending Erica to keep Stiles away from danger by hitting Stiles over the head was the one time Derek hurt Stiles (albeit indirectly), but - again - it was to keep Stiles away from danger.
And I hear you (er, hypothetical people?) say, “Ah, but that’s just because Stiles is a human. Derek’s not that sadistic; he won’t hurt humans the way he can allow himself to hurt werewolves (that can heal). Derek’s just protective of humans because they’re fragile.”
I call bullshit. Because Lydia’s human, but Derek doesn’t give a shit about her. (OH LYDIA BB COME TO ME, I’LL TAKE CARE OF YOU.) He doesn’t go out of his way to protect her, even when he knows she’s in trouble. He certainly doesn’t race to her rescue like a freaking lunatic, the way he does when Stiles is being cornered by Peter in a hospital, or when Stiles is being cornered by Isaac at the police station, or when Stiles is being cornered by the kanima at the swimming pool. Derek doesn’t protect Lydia, at all. In fact, he tries to kill her when he thinks she’s the kanima. Can anyone really imagine he’d be so relaxed about killing Stiles, even if Stiles were somehow implicated in bad things? I think not. Derek would try to find out who was really responsible for the bad things. Because he wouldn’t believe Stiles was responsible for them, in the first place. He’d find a way to protect Stiles, no matter what.
And then, I hear hypothetical people say: “Okay, fine, but Stiles is friends with Scott, and Scott’s a member of Derek’s pack (even though he’s denying it), so. It makes sense that Derek protects Stiles.”
And, again, bullshit. Jackson’s also a member of Derek’s pack (even though he’s denying it), and Lydia’s still in love with Jackson and is in possession of crucial intel about Jackson that might come in use, given the whole kanima situation, and she has mad Latin skillz that the pack desperately needs. But does Derek ever approach Lydia in the same way? No. Does Derek creep outside her window and sneak into her bedroom and get her to do research for the pack, trusting immediately that she’ll do it all just because she cares about Jackson? No. Does Derek call her whenever he needs help, or the pack does? No. Does Derek go absolutely batshit if someone threatens her? No. Not only that, but he threatens her himself. (Bad Derek.)
Anyway, my point is, Derek’s kind of a bastard to everyone else. EVERYONE ELSE. Uniformly. For no one else does Derek stick his neck out and risk his life on instinct, the way he does for Stiles. Even when Scott was in danger with Peter, back in season 1, Derek just played it cool and pretended to be on Peter’s side. He was capable of planning. Of thinking.
Has Derek shown any sign of being capable of ‘planning’ or ‘thinking’ in situations where Stiles might come to harm?
The answer is no.
Hell, Derek leaps in front of the freaking kanima and gets paralyzed, all to protect Stiles, even though Derek knows, rationally, that the kanima’s claws contain a paralytic toxin. But Derek doesn’t think rationally when it comes to Stiles, does he? He trusts the instinct.
Uh-huh. Think about that for a second.
He TRUSTS. The INSTINCT.
Pretty much the show’s motto, here.
Yeah. That instinct. The protect-your-mate-at-all-costs instinct.
The fact that it’s exactly the same instinct Scott trusts when he saves Allison?
Is no coincidence, either.
Sterek is being built up to be canon. Deal.
There is literally no other reason to show, in two successive and overlapping scenes, Scott saving Allison by wolfing out and Derek saving Stiles by wolfing out. (God bless episode 2x02.)
So even though I concur that Sterek needs a slow build before it becomes ‘canon’, I’d like to argue that we have already been getting a slow build.
Don’t believe me?
Listen to Jack Nicholson.
Because he always tells the truth.
Even when you can’t handle it.
THAT, RIGHT THERE, IS THE ENTIRE STEREK RELATIONSHIP. IN A NUTSHELL.
DEREK HAS THIS “AILMENT”. ALSO, HE’S AN ASSHOLE. THAT HATES PEOPLE. BUT STILES? MAKES HIM WANT TO BE A BETTER MAN. WOLF. WOLF-MAN.
HELL, STILES ALREADY MAKES HIM A BETTER MAN.
JUST BY BEING AROUND. JUST BY BEING HIMSELF.
And that? Is how I envision the Sterek ship taking form in canon. That’s how I envision Jeff Davis doing it, because that’s how he has been doing it. So far. All the little touches, the life-saving, the startlingly selfless sacrifices, sacrifices that Derek has shown no sign of making for anyone else. All those moments when Stiles makes Derek a better man. Just. All of them.
This? Is our slow build, people. We’re getting it.
Jeff is just going to keep building them up like this, drawing them closer and closer, until - BAM! They’re together. Officially. But it’ll be such a smooth transition that everyone will already know about them getting together, anyway. The rest of the pack probably already has a betting pool. It’s ridiculous. But also true.
(Also, if anyone wants to write an As Good as it Gets fusion with Nicholson!Derek and Hunt!Stiles - and Kennear!Danny - then please, do go ahead. Heh.)
In conclusion: Sterek is canon because Stiles makes Derek want to be a better man.
And that’s the gospel truth.