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Ready to Fall

Chapter Text

"I can't come to the wedding, Laura," Derek said into the phone as he balanced it while trying to dig in the cupboard to find the twins something for dinner. "I need someone to help out with the girls and I've got to stay here so I can do the interviews."

"Der, you're my baby brother," Laura whined - actually fucking whined - into the phone. "I can't get married without you there! I need you to give me away!"

"Laura, we were born and raised in Beacon Hills, but you're insistent on getting married at Disneyland," Derek groaned. "Why does it have to be there?"

"You know I want to get married there," Laura said. "Hell, you've been telling everyone you meet since you were able to talk."

"You were five when you said you were getting married at Disneyland, Lo," Derek said, sighing.

Laura sighed, "Look, Derek. I want to get married at Disneyland, all the preparations are made, and I need you to give me away. You know it's what Mom and Dad would have wanted."

Derek sighed again, but Laura knew it to be his angry sigh. "Don't do that to me, Laura," he said, an angry edge to his voice. "Don't pull this Mom and Dad bullshit on me. You know damn well that Cora and I miss them just as much as you do."

"Okay, so how about this, Der? You pack up the girls, come to Anaheim this weekend, stay a week and we'll have the wedding next Saturday. I know you already got the approved time off, and not coming would just be a waste. While you're here, I'm going to introduce you to a girl I know. You know Stiles, right?"

"Yeah," Derek wondered where this was going. "He's only been with Malia forever. I hope he's not the one you want to introduce me to. Guy's a pain in the ass."

Laura laughed, "No. His step-sister, Lydia Martin. I don't know if you remember her or not. They were three years behind you in school, and as soon as she turned eighteen, she moved to New York City to be with her boyfriend and went to NYU. She started out a mathematics major but worked at a daycare during freshman year, and loved it. So she changed her major over to early childhood education. She doesn't teach though, she was never interested in it, so she's just been a nanny. She broke up with her boyfriend a few months back and she's coming back home to live, and I know she'd jump at the chance to be your nanny."

"I don't know, Lo," Derek said, hesitation clear in his voice.

"Well, I do. I mean, who wouldn't want to spend time with Lex and Tal? They're angels."

Derek rolled his eyes, "Laura, the only reason you think that is because you're not around them 24/7. Lex is a lot like Cora and Tal reminds me so much of you. They're troublemakers."

"Just do this for me, okay, Der? Pretty please? You're gonna love Lydia, I promise."

-x-

"C'mon, Stiles, I don't wanna go," Lydia said, watching her brother carefully. She was lying on the bed of the guest room of the Stilinski-Martin home and she was getting sick and tired of Stiles trying to tell her that she needed to move on.

She had been broken up with Jackson for almost six months, but she had only been back home in Beacon Hills for about six weeks. She was avidly looking for a job, but the right opportunity just hadn't presented itself yet. She had been staying with her mother and John until she could find the right job, but it just hadn't happened yet. She had spent a few weeks moping around, trying to find the motivation to get out there, because the breakup with Jackson hadn't just been bad - it'd been terrible and he was the reason she had moved back to California to begin with.

David Whittemore, who was Jackson's father, had been a very prominent lawyer in the city, and everybody knew of him - he was practically a celebrity. And Jackson loved playing up the whole celebrity angle, and spent every second he had relaying to the press how Lydia was nothing but trash. He made it impossible for her to get another job out there, so she packed up what little she possessed and moved back in with her parents.

Natalie had been married to John Stilinski since Lydia and Stiles were in the seventh grade. Stiles had been Lydia's friend for a really long time, and she knew that he would've let her stay if she asked, but she didn't want to ask him of that. So Natalie and John took her in and she moped around for a few weeks before starting to look for the job she so desperately needed.

And now Stiles was standing here, in the doorway to the guest room, trying to talk Lydia into going to Laura Hale's wedding. She was marrying Jordan Parrish, who worked for Stiles' dad at the sheriff's station, and Stiles was a good friend of both Jordan and Laura, and it had all started when Scott had been bitten by a rogue alpha werewolf when they were sixteen. They had been welcomed into the local pack, the Hale pack, with open arms and Lydia had torn herself away from everything when she moved to New York to be with Jackson.

"I can't, Stiles," Lydia said. "I don't know the Hales, not anymore."

"Laura invited you, too," Stiles said. "Besides that, I know you know Jordan and like him. I want you to come with me. Be my plus one."

"What about Malia?"

"What about her?" Stiles asked.

"Well, you're engaged to her, aren't you?" Lydia asked. When Stiles nodded, she said, "A plus one is usually the person you're dating, or otherwise attached to. Ergo, Malia."

"Oh," Stiles said, like something just clicked for him. "Malia's gonna be one of Laura's bridesmaids. They're cousins, you know. The family has been really tight ever since the death of Talia and William Hale a few years back."

Lydia sighed - she'd heard of the death of Talia Hale. Talia had been an incredibly prominent alpha, and she was someone that not a lot of people would have messed with, but when hunters had gunned down not only Talia, but her human husband as well, everybody heard about it. Everyone was just grateful that the kids were out of the house. Peter, Talia's brother, had talked them all into going to the park to run off some of the excess energy caused by the full moon that night, so Talia and William were the only ones home.

"I figured since Malia's already gonna be there, you and I could go together. You are my sister, after all."

Lydia sighed. "I know you, Stiles," she said, after a few moments had passed, "and I know you're not gonna let this go. And because of that, I'm gonna go. But I'm not happy about it."

Stiles grinned brightly, "Thanks, Lyds. Let's get ready to go to a wedding."

Chapter Text

The wedding was really beautiful. Laura and Jordan got married in front of Cinderella's castle (how cliché, was Derek's opinion, although he wasn't brave enough to voice it), and the reception was really nice as well. Laura's wedding was really extravagant, but it was everything she had ever wanted, so Derek decided to just let it go.

When they were at the reception, which was in the ballroom of an equally extravagant hotel, that's when Derek noticed her. She was a beautiful girl with strawberry blonde hair and a great figure. She was sitting down, talking to Scott, Stiles and Allison, but Derek was sure that he'd never seen her before.

He leaned over to Malia, who was sitting next to him, and said, "Who's the redhead?"

"Technically, she's strawberry blonde," Malia said, like she'd heard it a hundred times. "But that's Lydia Martin. Stiles' step-sister."

"That's Lydia Martin?" Derek asked incredulously. "She could be a supermodel."

Malia laughed, "Tell her that sometime - I dare you. She'll tell you that she's way too short to be a supermodel. Besides that, she thinks they're all airheads with absolutely no brains at all. Did Laura tell you about her?"

Derek nodded, "Yeah. I think I'm gonna go over and say hello."

When he got there, Stiles was up dancing with Malia and Scott was up dancing with Allison. Derek looked over and saw Jordan dancing with Lex and Laura dancing with Tal.

"Hi," he said, approaching Lydia. "How are you?"

"Not interested," Lydia said, flipping her strawberry blonde hair over her shoulder. "So whatever speech you've got cooked up, go bug someone else with it."

"I don't think we've been introduced," Derek said. "I'm Derek Hale."

"Oh," Lydia said, looking a slight bit embarrassed. "Sorry. It's just that I've been hit on already and I'm not interested in dating, or even just a hookup. Not yet."

Derek chuckled, "I understand. After my breakup, I had everyone and their sister trying to hook up with me. But I've got two daughters, so I can't just hook up."

Lydia nodded, "I can see how that would be a complication. And that's very good of you. I'm a nanny, and I've been a nanny to too many kids whose parents just came and went and didn't give a goddamn about them. It breaks my heart."

Derek nodded, "Yeah, I get that. I mean, I work a lot, but I'm always there for my girls."

"Which ones are yours?" She asked. There were quite a few kids around, since a lot of Laura's friends had children, including Allison and Scott having a daughter, Isaac and Cora having a son, and Malia and Stiles also having a son.

Derek pointed to the dance floor, "The ones dancing with Laura and Jordan."

"Oh wow," she said. "Are they twins?"

"Yep," Derek said, feeling proud. Whenever he was talking about his girls, he always felt proud of them. "That's Lex and Tal." When Lydia gave him a curious look, he said, "Alexandria and Talia. Alexandria prefers to be called Lex, mostly because she's such a tomboy and thinks that Alexandria sounds too girly for her." Lydia chuckled and then Derek said, "And Tal's named after my mom, Talia. When she was born, my mom was still alive, so we took to calling her Tal to avoid confusion."

Lydia nodded, "I get that. I heard about your parents. I'm really sorry."

Derek nodded, "Thanks. Uncle Peter flipped out when it happened, but he's gotten a little saner sine killing those hunters. I know it's frowned upon, but as far as I'm concerned, they had it coming. My dad was human."

Lydia nodded, "I know. My ex, Jackson, he was a were. He belonged to a pack in New York, and he got custody of them after the breakup."

"Wait. Jackson? Jackson Whittemore?" Derek asked, as if it was just clicking for him. Lydia sighed and nodded.

"Unfortunately."

"He grew up here in Beacon Hills, right? His dad got a job offer to join a firm full of entertainment lawyers in his senior year, right? Same guy?"

"One and the same."

"He was such a jackass."

Lydia let out a noise, "I totally agree with you. But I was in love with him, so after graduation, I followed him out there and went to NYU. We broke up about six months ago, and the breakup was really bad for me. It went great for him; he got all the sympathy and all the girls to push around that his little heart desired by playing me up to be the bad guy. I'm not the bad guy here, Derek, I'm really not. But because of him, I couldn't even get a job in a fucking daycare in New York. That's why I'm back in Beacon Hills."

"Actually, I'm looking for a nanny," Derek said after a few moments had passed. "I've been looking for one for a while. My old one, Rosa, she got married a few months ago and so my sisters and cousin have been taking turns watching the girls, but it's too hard on all of them. It's just that I haven't found the right person yet."

Lydia nodded, "Sure, I get it."

"After the wedding, how would you like to come over for a job interview? Say around four o'clock next Monday?"

"That sounds terrific," Lydia said.

"Great," Derek said, a big smile on his face. "I'm looking forward to seeing you then."

-x-

It was three-thirty that Monday when Lydia rang Derek's doorbell. She knew he said four, but she figured she could be a little early. It'd give her time to at least meet the girls.

When the door opened, both of the girls were standing there, and Lydia was amazed by how different but similar they looked. One of them had jet black hair and bright green eyes, she was tall and thin, wearing a bright pink dress and her nails were painted the same sparkly pink. The other was a brunette, with deep brown eyes that were so dark they almost looked black, and was wearing regular blue jeans and a Mets jersey.

"Hi," Lydia told the girls. "My name's Lydia Martin, and I've got an appointment to see your dad."

The girl with brown hair watched her for a good moment before saying, "Pancakes or oatmeal?"

"If I had to choose, I'd pick pancakes," Lydia said. "Especially with blueberries in them."

"That's the right answer," she said. "I'm Lex and this is my sister, Tal."

"Hi," Lydia said. "Can I come in?"

The girls shrugged in unison and started walking into the house. Lydia followed Lex and Tal into the house, noticing how nice it was. She knew that when his parents died, Derek had inherited the Hale mansion because Laura hadn't wanted it, and it was gorgeous. It had open hallways, big rooms that were painted light colors, and man, was it ever huge. Lydia had never been in an actual mansion before. Sure, her parents had money, but they didn't live in anything half as nice as this.

Malia came over to greet her, and they hugged. "Is Stiles here?" Lydia asked her.

"Nope," she said. "He's on night shift this week, so he's at home, resting. Natalie has Caleb."

Even though Lydia and Stiles weren't biologically brother and sister, they felt close enough to be, and when Stiles and Malia's son Caleb was born, Natalie was ecstatic to be a grandmother. Lydia was actually pretty grateful that stiles looked at her like a mother.

"Did they introduce themselves?" Malia asked. Lydia nodded, but Malia looked like she couldn't believe it.

"Seriously?" she asked. "It took them forever to open up to Rosa."

"Lex asked me a question. She said I had the right answer."

"What'd she ask you?"

"Pancakes or oatmeal," Lydia said.

After a moment, Malia nodded, "Makes sense. Lex is on a this or that kick. She's always asking those questions. Which one did you pick?"

"Pancakes."

Malia laughed, "Yep, now I know why she introduced herself to you so quickly. Pancakes are her favorite food."

Lydia just shrugged.

"You know that Derek's still at work, right?" Malia said after a moment. "He's not gonna be back for at least half an hour."

"That's fine," Lydia said. "I wanted to acquaint myself with the girls."

"Okay..." Malia said slowly. "Why?"

"Because," Lydia said, slightly irritated, "if I want to become their nanny, I've gotta know them, right? I need to know at least a little bit about them. I don't know anything besides their names."

"Well, Lex is a tomboy," Malia said. "She hates everything girly. She plays basketball and softball at the rec center, and loves them both. Tal is the girly one. She only wears dresses and skirts, and studies ballet at the dance studio downtown. She's also in gymnastics and loves it."

"And how old are they?"

"10," Malia said. "They turned 10 last June."

"Okay," Lydia said, trying to commit all this to memory. It was now late October, so she knew their birthday wouldn't be for a little while yet. "Just tell me where I can find them."

Malia pointed, "Their room is the next one over. Lex has been bugging Derek for her own room like crazy, but I don't think he wants to separate them - at least, not yet. Go on, go and see them, and maybe you can get them to open up faster than Rosa ever did."

Lydia went to their room, where the radio was on a Top 40's station and Tal was dancing. Lex was scribbling in a notebook at the desk that was against one wall. Even though their door was open, Lydia knocked.

"Hi guys," she said, and both Lex and Tal looked at her. "Can I come in?"

"You're not just gonna barge in?" Tal asked, confused. "Rosa always just barged in."

Lydia shrugged, "Having your own space is important."

The girls looked at one another before Lex said, "Sure, Lydia. Come in."

"Great," Lydia said. She sat down on what she assumed was Tal's bed, judging by the Disney princess bedspread. The other bedspread had the Ninja Turtles on it, and Lydia guessed that one belonged to Lex. "I thought the three of us could get acquainted."

"What do you care?" Lex asked after a skeptical look from her sister, and judging by the looks that Lex and Tal were shooting back and forth, decided to rephrase her question. "I mean, Rosa never cared. She just took care of us."

"Well, yeah, I wanna take care of you, but I'm gonna need to know more about you to do that accurately, don't you think?" Lydia asked. She was starting to hate this Rosa chick more and more because it was like she just did the minimum of the work she needed to do. Instead, Lydia just shook it off. "I want to be your friend, girls. I want to know you guys. I'm not applying for this job because I have to - I'm applying for this job because I want to. I want to get to know you guys."

Both Lex and Tal looked shocked, like they couldn't believe that just came out of Lydia's mouth. Finally, Lex spoke, "Okay, sure. We can talk."

In the end, the girls were sitting on Tal's bed, talking to Lydia. She felt like she was just getting to know them when Malia popped her head in the doorway. "Derek just called, Lyds," she said. "He says he's really sorry but he needs to stay late. He wanted to know if you could do the interview tomorrow."

Lydia shrugged, "Yeah, sure. I mean, that's fine."

"Great. I'll give you his number in case you need to get ahold of him for whatever reason." Lydia handed over her phone and Malia keyed in Derek's cell phone number, which she knew by heart. She also gave Lydia his work number. "Just in case," she said. "Sometimes it's easier to reach him at work than it is at home." She watched Lydia for a moment before saying, "I've gotta go. I've gotta pick Caleb up from John and Natalie's. I told Natalie I'd pick him up before six. Is there any way you can stay and take care of the girls until Derek gets here?"

Lydia nodded, "Sure. Do I need to cook? What kinds of foods does Derek make them?"

"I want tuna noodle casserole," Tal spoke up. Lex nodded eagerly in agreement.

"Apparently tuna noodle casserole," Malia laughed. "And plan to stay the night. He could be at the office for a long time."

"Why?" Lydia asked. "What does he even do?"

"He's the District Attorney. One of the youngest in quite a while, as a matter of fact. He's elbows deep in a case right now that goes on trial in three days."

Lydia shrugged, "Sure, I guess. Go home to your fiancé and son."

Malia grinned, "Thanks, Lyds. I appreciate it, and I'll make sure that Derek pays you for this."

"Sure," Lydia said. Both Lex and Tal gave Malia a hug before she said, "See you guys later!" Lex and Tal said their goodbyes and then Lydia glanced at her phone. She noticed it was almost five-thirty. She'd been here for almost two hours, even though it hadn't felt like it at all. She looked at the girls and then said, "You guys hungry?"

"Starving," Lex said. Tal nodded in agreement. Lydia got up off the bed and went into the kitchen. Derek had such a nice kitchen; Lydia was totally envious of it. Lydia didn't cook for herself a lot, but when she was taking care of kids, she did know how to cook for them, but she had another habit. When Lydia was stressed or upset, she liked to bake. It calmed her down. So she hated cooking regular food, but was excellent at baking things, and did that often.

She put together the casserole and put it in the oven and set the timer. She went into the living room and saw Tal coloring in a coloring book and Lex was playing her Nintendo Wii. Lydia recognized the game as a soccer game that Stiles played all the time but didn't know the name of it.

"It's FIFA," Lex said. "Stiles taught me how to play it."

Lydia nodded, "Sure. Do you like it?"

"Are you kidding? I love it."

After the timer went off, Lydia pulled the casserole out of the oven and told the girls to set the table. Lydia dished up their dinners and took them over to the table.

They ate in silence, and Lydia felt a bit awkward, but after a few moments, Lydia said, "Do you guys wanna watch a movie or something after dinner?"

"Yes," Tal said immediately. Lex watched the two of them before shrugging and saying, "Sure."

The girls argued a little over what movie to watch before Lydia suggested The Princess and the Frog. It was tomboyish enough for Lex, but at the same time, it was girly enough for Tal. By the time the movie was over, Lydia noticed that the girls were asleep. It was eight-thirty, anyway, and Lydia knew their bedtime was nine o'clock. She covered them both with the afghan that was over the back of the couch after straightening them out, deciding that she didn't want to wake them to get them back into their beds, and knowing they'd be too heavy for her to lift, so she kissed them both on the top of their heads and said softly, "Sleep well, girls."

It was eleven-thirty when Derek came home from the office. Lydia had been vegetating for a while in the recliner, flipping through channels. She had the TV down really low so she wouldn't wake the girls.

"Be quiet," she said softly when she saw Derek. "The girls are sleeping."

Derek nodded. He lifted Lex and then took her to the girls' room, and then did the same with Tal. After they were both put to bed, Derek came out and looked at Lydia. "Where's Mia?"

"She had to pick up Caleb from Mom's house," Lydia said.

Derek nodded, "So she asked you to stay with the girls." When Lydia nodded, Derek pulled out his wallet and got out fifty dollars.

"I wasn't with them for that long," Lydia protested. "I don't deserve that much money."

"Yeah, you do," Derek said. "You took care of my daughters on such short notice while I had to work. I appreciate it. So I'm paying you for that."

"Okay," Lydia said, nodding. "You must really work hard."

Derek let out a yawn, "Yeah, I do. But it's for the greater good."

Lydia nodded, "There's a dish of tuna noodle casserole in the refrigerator if you're hungry. Tal insisted on saving you some."

"She knows it's one of my favorite dishes. Did you make dinner?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah. It was no hassle, I promise you that."

"You took excellent care of the girls, and even made them dinner, and I appreciate that, Lydia. Thank you."

"It was no problem. I like your daughters, and I liked spending time with them. I really enjoyed their company."

Derek nodded, handing Lydia the fifty dollars that was still in his hand. Lydia took it and said, "I'm only taking this because it might offend you if I didn't."

"Damn straight," Derek said. Lydia sighed but nodded.

"By the way, Lydia?" Derek asked. Lydia watched him while he said, "If you want this job, it's yours. You've proven that you can definitely do it."

Lydia smiled, "Thank you, Mr. Hale."

"Call me Derek," he said. Lydia shook her head.

"I can't do that, Mr. Hale. It would make this feel more like a friendship instead of an employer/employee relationship."

Derek nodded, "If that's what you want, then sure." Lydia smiled and shook his hand before leaving the mansion.

Chapter Text

It was agreed upon that Lydia would move in that Saturday. She didn't have a whole lot of things since she wasn't the materialistic type and had moved out of Jackson's when they had broken up and he had kept most of the stuff they had gotten together. It didn't bother Lydia, because she didn't want the memories attached. But Derek had showed up early to help Lydia move out of her parents' house.

"I have a bed for you there," Derek said, "so you can just bring your other things."

She held up the two suitcases that were in her hands. "These are all I have," she said. "I left a lot of things in New York."

"If you need anything replaced, I'd be happy to help," Derek said.

"I'm fine, thank you," Lydia said. "Besides, I can replace everything on my own. He didn't get anything too important, anyway. Mostly the furniture we had bought together."

Derek nodded.

"I'm sorry you drove over here for nothing," Lydia said. Derek just shrugged.

"It's fine," he said. "I left Tal and Lex with my sisters. Laura came home from her honeymoon yesterday and she and Jordan wanted to spend some time with the girls. When Laura and Cora come over, the girls tend to ignore me, anyway. It's fine that I'm doing this for you."

Lydia smiled politely, and then Derek said, "Have you had breakfast yet? There's a diner down the street with the world's best blueberry pancakes."

Lydia grinned, "Been talking to your girls, huh?"

Derek chuckled, "Lex told me that was the only way she was going to let you in the house. It's a good thing you said pancakes, anyway, because she would've told you to get lost otherwise. She hates oatmeal - any kind of hot cereal, she hates. Tal is the total opposite. She loves hot cereal, won't eat cold for anything, but also likes eggs a lot."

Lydia smiled, "Sure, Mr. Hale. I'd love to get breakfast with you."

When they got to the diner, the girl at the counter must've known Derek, because she said, "Hey, Derek. Back again? You were just here yesterday."

Derek laughed, "That was for lunch. It's breakfast this time. Do you know Lydia Martin?"

The girl was beautiful. She had blonde curls down her shoulders, deep brown eyes, and had a mischievous look in her eye. Lydia decided right away that she liked her.

The girl held out her hand. "Erica Reyes," she said, shaking Lydia's hand. "I remember you, but I doubt you remember me. I was the girl always in the back. I had really bad epilepsy and was ignored most of the time."

"I used to be a bitch," Lydia replied honestly, and it took both Derek and Erica kind of aback. "Reputation was everything if I wanted to stay with Jackson, and I had to be a cold-hearted airhead. I'm nothing like her, not anymore. Not since my freshman year of college."

"What happened then?"

Lydia shrugged, "I was mugged. It was pretty bad. I was stabbed while waiting for the train in the middle of the night. Craig, the father of the girl I was babysitting for at the time, offered to drive me home, but I took my chances with the train. I ended up in the hospital for a month."

"Oh, yeah," Erica said, like something just clicked for her. "Stiles told me about that. That his sister was in the hospital and he and your parents flew out there to see you."

Lydia nodded, "Yeah. You know Stiles?"

"He's pack, isn't he?" Erica asked. When Lydia looked confused, Erica said, "I got the bite our freshman year of college. I was sick of the epilepsy, but Talia wouldn't bite me until I turned eighteen. She doesn't usually turn minors. And everything changed that night, and I have the Hales to thank for that. Derek, Laura and Cora are practically my siblings. Isaac's too."

"Isaac?"

"Isaac Lahey. You'll meet him eventually, but he went to BHHS with us. His dad used to beat him senseless, and he took the bite when he was eighteen, too. It made him stronger and faster, and he takes solace in knowing that nobody can ever beat him down like that again."

"What happened to Mr. Lahey?" Lydia asked.

"He was killed the same year," Derek answered. "John had arrested Isaac for Lahey's death, because everyone said it was Isaac that most likely did it, but it tuned out to be a shape shifting creature called a kanima. We found the creature eventually, but after that, Isaac became part of my family as well."

Lydia nodded, "So you guys are like one big happy family, then?"

Derek and Erica nodded. After a moment, Erica looked behind the counter and then said, "I've gotta go. I'll get in trouble if I just stand here and chat, but go ahead and pick a place to sit. Derek knows the drill."

Derek chose a booth, and they sat down across from one another. When the waitress came and took their drink orders, Derek ordered a coffee, black, and Lydia ordered a caramel cappuccino.

"Those things are stocked full of calories," Derek said. "They're bad for you."

"I know you're a health food nut," Lydia said. "I noticed a lot of that in your cupboards."

"I like to be healthy," Derek said. "At least it's not that organic garbage."

"You don't believe in organic?"

"Sure, it might be better for you, but the price is insane," Derek said. "It may be a little bit better, but if you eat right and exercise, you have nothing to worry about. I'm good - I go to the gym at least three times a week."

"It really shows," Lydia said. "Your body is insane." She looked embarrassed after she realized what she just said and then amended, "Not that I was checking you out. 'Cause I wasn't - not at all. I just happened to notice."

Derek chuckled, "It's fine, Lydia. Thank you for the compliment - I'm pretty sure that was what that was supposed to be. It was, right?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah. I don't usually put my foot in my mouth like that, but by God it happened. Stiles is never gonna believe that."

"How different are you and Stiles?" Derek asked curiously. "I mean, I've met Stiles, but you seem so different."

"We are," Lydia said. "It's like night and day. I mean, Stiles is bubbly and talkative, and I don't really talk unless I've got something to say. He's also incredibly impulsive, while I do things after thinking and analyzing them. I'm also a lot more logical than he is."

Derek nodded.

"You find him annoying, don't you?" Lydia asked. Derek was silent for a moment, so Lydia continued, "Because it's okay if you do. Hell, sometimes I think Stiles is annoying. But he's also honest, trustworthy, loyal and the best damn friend you could ever ask for. He's always been there for me whenever I've needed him, and when I was in the hospital after getting stabbed and left for dead in New York City, he showed up at the hospital and wouldn't leave until he knew that I was okay. I love him like he's my brother and he's proven to me that he loves me, too."

Derek nodded, "Yeah. Stiles is an okay guy, but it's just...he never closes his mouth."

Lydia laughed, "That's part of his charm. I really do love him, though."

A waitress came back with their drinks and took their orders. Derek ordered the steak and eggs while Lydia got the blueberry pancakes with a side of bacon. As they were waiting for their breakfasts, Derek looked at Lydia, "Did you like New York?"

Lydia shrugged, "I dunno. I mean, it was good, I guess, but I was only there because Jackson wanted me to be there. After Jackson and I broke up, I felt myself really wanting to be near my family."

Derek nodded. "Laura, Cora and I took the girls after our parents were killed. Laura called it taking a break from life. Cora was dating Isaac, and Laura and Jordan were together, so we all just went to see the sights. We went there, we mourned our parents, and the girls were six at the time, so they understood what was going on, but it was just something that we all needed."

Lydia nodded, "I get that. My dad died when I was little, and even though it happened all those years ago, I can remember it like it was yesterday. I remember how hard it was for me, finding out that my daddy was never coming home. It was really difficult for me and it took me a long time to work through it."

"If you don't mind me asking, what'd he die of?"

Lydia shrugged, "It's fine. I can talk about it, it happened so very long ago. Dad had cancer. He had Hodgkins, which is a type of lymphoma, which is also cancer of the lymph nodes. Hodgkins is actually easier to treat than regular lymphoma, but it was way too far advanced. Chemotherapy wasn't going to do a damn thing for him, so he denied treatment and his death was slow and painful. Sometimes I really do miss him."

"But you've got John," Derek pointed out as their food came. After the waitress had gone, Lydia nodded.

"Yeah, I do," Lydia said. "And he's the best I could ever ask for. He treats me like his own daughter, and it really makes me feel loved. But he will never replace my biological dad."

"Biological?" Derek said. "That sounds a little too textbook for what we're talking about."

"I learned a long time ago that blood doesn't always equal family, Mr. Hale. John and Stiles Stilinski are my family, even though they're not blood. And I love them just like family."

Derek nodded. They started to eat their breakfasts in silence, and then Derek looked at her. "I'm not home very often," he said. "I spend a hell of a lot of time at work, doing my job. I wish I could do more for my daughters, but I think they understand."

"Maybe," Lydia said. She took a drink of her coffee and then said, "I can't really tell you. But I am pretty happy that I get to spend time with your daughters. They're wonderful girls." A moment passed before Lydia said, "If you don't mind my asking, what happened to their mom?"

"She left," Derek said, his tone cold. "About a week after they were born, she left in the middle of the night and never came back. I don't know what happened to her, but I knew she didn't want to be a mom, so it didn't surprise me in the least when I woke up and found her gone."

"So you've taken care of them by yourself?" Lydia asked.

"I've had help from my family," Derek said. "Laura, Jordan, Cora, Isaac, Erica, Malia..." his voice trailed off. "They've all been really good about helping me when I need it."

"You're lucky to have that," Lydia said. Derek nodded and they finished eating their breakfast in silence.

-x-

When Derek and Lydia walked through the Hale mansion, they noticed the girls sitting on the couch, listening to one of Cora's stories. When they saw their dad and Lydia walk into the room, they jumped up and rushed towards them. They hugged Lydia, and she hugged them back.

"I'm so glad you're here," Lex said. "It's been boring without you."

Lydia smiled, "Thanks."

"Are you gonna make dinner every night, Lydia?" Tal asked. "I really liked your cooking."

"Your dad's gonna be here some of the time," Lydia said, glancing at Derek for some help. He just shrugged, and the smile was apparent on his face. He was enjoying this, the bastard.

"Tal, Lex, you wanna show Lydia to her room?" Derek asked. Lydia picked up her bags and Tal picked up Lydia's pillow.

"I didn't notice you had a pillow," Derek said. "You didn't need to bring it. I've got pillows."

"I can't sleep without my pillow," Lydia said. "Everyone says it's something that Stiles rubbed off on me, but really, I think I'm the one who started it."

Lex and Tal were walking in front of Lydia, showing her to her room, which happened to be the one next to theirs. It was a fairly big room, with a sliding glass door and a balcony with a bench on it. The room was painted a light lavender color as well and the comforter on the queen sized bed had butterflies on it.

“Rosa liked butterflies,” Lex said, as if she was answering Lydia’s unasked question. “They were her very favorite thing. Rosa clicked more with Tal than she did with me.”

Lydia nodded, “Well, I hope I can be better than Rosa was.”

“You already are,” Lex said. “You talk to us like normal human beings. Rosa treated us like we were freaks.”

“I have to ask,” Lydia said, “so don’t take offense, okay? But I need to know, are you guys wolves?”

“Do you know about werewolves?” Tal asked.

“Yeah. You know Stiles, right?” When the girls nodded, Lydia said, “Well, he’s my brother. I’ve known about werewolves for a long time. So are you?”

“I am,” Lex said. “Tal’s not. Our mom was human – or, that’s what I’ve been told. We’ve never actually met her.”

“It takes a cold-hearted person to walk away from her children,” Lydia said, sitting down on the bed and then looking at the girls. Tal put Lydia’s pillow on her bed and the girls watched Lydia carefully. “I’m sorry that you guys have to go through that, but if your mom left you guys, you’re better off without her. You need someone who loves you guys just the way you are.”

Lex shot an appreciative smile at Lydia. “Thanks, Lydia,” she said. Lydia nodded.

A few moments later, Lydia told them she wanted to take a nap, because she didn’t technically start her nanny job until Monday, unless Derek had to work before that. He wasn’t sure if he’d be called in or not, so it was really up in the air.

While Lydia was sleeping, Lex and Tal went into their room to play and Cora and Isaac watched Derek closely.

“You think she’s hot, don’t you?” Cora asked Derek as she sat on the loveseat. He was across from her, sitting in his recliner, but he just shook his head. “Oh, come on, Der, you can’t lie to us,” Cora said. “We have super senses, remember? I can smell you, and quite frankly, it’s pretty disgusting.”

Isaac shrugged, “I think she’s hot.”

Cora looked shocked, but Isaac said, “C’mon, Cor, I have a baby with you. I’m never leaving you, you know that. But I’m just saying – she’s pretty attractive. She always has been.”

“Yeah, and she’s always been a bitch, too,” Cora snapped. “She treated us badly in high school, and you know that, Isaac. She treated us like we were nothing. We wouldn’t even know her at all if Scott had never been bitten.”

Derek sighed, “Look, Cor, I know you’re upset, okay, but she’s changed. She’s not the superficial girl she used to be. She’s changed a hell of a lot.”

“How?” Cora demanded. “She doesn’t seem so different to me.”

“Just give her a chance before you decide you don’t like her, okay?” Derek said, exasperated. “Give her a chance. Your nieces like her a lot.”

“They don’t know any better,” Cora said. Isaac sighed.

“Once more, give her a chance, Cora. In fact, stay for dinner and we can all talk.”

“I have to pick up Cole,” Cora said. “Allison and Scott are watching him, and I know they need to be relieved before the day is over.”

“Fine,” Derek said. “Go pick up Cole and then come over for dinner. We’d love to have you, and I know Tal and Lex would love to see their little cousin.”

Cora sighed, “Fine, Derek. I’ll do it. But I don’t think she’s gonna change my mind.”

-x-

After Cora had gone, Isaac sat on the loveseat across from Derek, in Cora’s place, and said, “Tell me the truth, Derek. Do you like Lydia?”

“I don’t really know her,” Derek answered honestly. “I mean, we’ve talked somewhat, but there’s probably a lot more to her that I don’t know. Is she aesthetically pleasing? Yes. Hell yes, she’s attractive. But when it comes to attraction to a person, there’s more than just looks.”

Isaac nodded, “Sure. But I hear she’s done a complete 180 since high school. That motherfucker Jackson Whittemore really tore her apart.”

“You’re friends with Scott,” Derek said to Isaac, the thought just occurring to him, “and Scott and Stiles are attached at the hip. Do you know what happened between Whittemore and Lydia?”

Isaac shrugged, “Sure. Jackson cheated on her. He was sleeping with practically a different girl every night. Lydia and Jackson lived together, so he never took them home with him. Lydia was pretty much a laughing stock – everyone knew about Jackson’s pathetic trusting girlfriend who had no clue he was fucking around with other girls. One night, though, Lydia was working late, babysitting a girl all the way across town, and she got home and found Jackson fucking a girl in their bed. She moved out the next day, and then found out about all the shit he did to her. Their breakup was public, and loud, and everyone thought that Lydia was the one to blame. They had fucked up reasons, too, like if Lydia had put out more, Jackson wouldn’t have cheated on her in the first place. Because of David Whittemore’s place as an entertainment lawyer, the Whittemores are in the spotlight just as much as the celebrities are. Jackson fucking Whittemore has got everyone eating out of the palm of his hand.”

“That’s bullshit,” Derek said. “No wonder she came back to Beacon Hills.”

“She didn’t want to,” Isaac said, “but Stiles said that Jackson totally blacklisted her. She had worked as a nanny for David Whittemore’s newly adopted twin boys, but after the breakup, Jackson spread around that Lydia was a terrible nanny and even told people that she abused the children. It was bad, Der. No daycare center would even hire her, so she felt like the only thing she could do was move here and start over. You know, get a fresh start.”

Derek rolled his eyes, “That’s just pure bullshit. Jackson Whittemore is nothing but a self-entitled jackass and I hate that he would put anyone through that.”

“What Cora doesn’t understand is that everything about Lydia from when we were in high school is in the past. Lydia hasn’t been that person in a really long time.”

Derek nodded, “Sure, I get it, but will Cora ever?”

Chapter Text

Dinner that night was interesting, to say the least. After Derek was finished fixing dinner, which was homemade chicken noodle soup, Lydia sat at the table, across from Cora, and you could practically feel the tension. Cole was in the high chair that Derek kept at his house for whenever Malia or Cora dropped over with their sons, and he looked pretty happy for a 19-month-old.

"So, Lydia," Cora said, after everyone had sat down to eat. "What happened to you in New York?"

Lydia froze, "What do you mean?"

"I mean, Derek seems to think that you're different now. Can you prove it?"

"I sure can," Lydia said. She stood up and turned around, lifting her shirt up a little bit. They all gasped when they saw the scars. She had several on her lower back and when she turned around, they saw them on her lower stomach as well. She pulled her shirt back down, sitting down and then said, "When I was a freshman in college, I was babysitting this girl. It was a job where I wasn't the nanny, but her parents were pretty wealthy and they knew the Whittemores, so they'd go out drinking every weekend and even on some weeknights. The father, Craig, offered to drive me home but I felt uncomfortable around him when we were alone, so I told him I'd take my chances with the train. While I was waiting for it, a guy came up and mugged me. He took my money and all my valuables - which wasn't much, to be honest - and then stabbed me seven times. He left me there to bleed out, but I was found by a good Samaritan, who took me to the hospital. I was saved, but some major damage was done to my...my uterus," she said, shooting a look of apology to Derek for saying it in front of the girls. "I'll never be able to have kids of my own."

"So that's why you're a nanny," Cora said slowly, like she had finally found the last piece to the puzzle.

"Absolutely. I love kids, and maybe someday I'll adopt one or two, but I can't get pregnant, and I wouldn't be able to carry a child to term if I did. I had my tubes tied when I was twenty because if by some miracle I did get pregnant, I'd never be able to carry the child to term. They said it would kill either the child or myself."

"Does it ever bother you?" Cora asked. "Knowing that?"

Lydia shook her head, "No. Well, it really depends. Some days it bugs the crap out of me, but other days, I'm fine with it. And it really wouldn't be a problem with me just adopting a kid or two, but I don't know if I'll ever find the guy I want to adopt them with."

Cora nodded and then grew silent. After the dinner had been finished, and the twins were clearing the table, Cora came up to Lydia. "I'm sorry," she said, "and trust me, that's really hard for me to say. But I didn't realize what had happened to you. When Stiles told me that you had been attacked, I didn't know that irreparable damage had been done."

Lydia shrugged, "It took a long time to get used to. And some days, I get really depressed about it. But that's why I became a nanny to begin with. It kind of helps that longing I feel about having kids. I have a bad reputation around New York City about even turning bad parents into Protective Services."

"Seriously?" Cora asked, looking a little surprised. "You'd do that?"

"If the child isn't being taken care of? Absolutely. I'm not able to have children and it pisses me off to no end when I see people who are lucky enough to have kids and are mistreating them. I hate it and it infuriates me, so I do something about it."

Cora nodded and then smiled, "You're a good person, Lydia. And you're gonna be good for us."

-x-

Around one o'clock the next morning, Derek was sitting at his desk in the den, going over some legal papers, when he heard a rustling in the kitchen. He went out there and saw Lydia heating some water.

"What are you doing up?" Derek asked her.

"I had a nightmare," Lydia said matter-of-factly. "I get them sometimes. They're always about the mugging. I have a lot to live with with that, and nobody really knows I get them, but if I'm going to be living here, you're going to find out eventually."

Derek nodded, "So what are you doing?"

"Making tea," she said, setting the tea bag in the water before heating it up in the microwave. "Normally, I'd use the tea kettle, but it whistles and I didn't want to wake anybody up."

Derek nodded, "Sure."

Once her tea was heated up, Lydia sat at the kitchen table and took a small sip. Derek sat down next to her.

"I didn't mean to interrupt whatever it is that you were doing," Lydia said to him. "I mean, if it was important."

"It is," Derek said, "but it can wait a few hours."

"God, your job must drive you insane," Lydia said after a few moments had gone by. "You're barely ever home, and it's a pretty hard job at that. I don't know how you do it."

"Being the DA was a big deal in my family. My uncle Peter is a defense attorney - or, at least, he was before my parents got killed. He went a little crazy afterwards, and even though he hooked up with Melissa, he's still a little mad about their deaths. And I don't mean mad angry, I mean mad crazy. He avenged them, and John didn't even arrest him because both of my parents were a big deal in the community. Everyone pretty much knows that Peter killed both Kate and Gerard, and let me tell ya, it makes me sleep a little better at night."

"Kate? As in Kate Argent, Allison's aunt?"

Derek nodded, "Yep, and her grandfather, too. I know they were shooting for a time when the rest of us would be in the house, but they didn't know that Peter had taken us to the park to run off our excess energy. I owe my life, and the lives of my daughters for that matter, to my uncle."

"I'm sorry they're dead," Lydia said sincerely. "I remember Talia and William. They were really good people and your mom was one badass alpha. I've been in New York, with the Williams pack, and your mom is practically a legend there."

Derek smiled, "Thanks, Lydia. Thanks for listening and not judging. You're the first person that I have actually been able to talk to sincerely about my parents' deaths that isn't family. I really do appreciate that."

Lydia smiled, "Anytime, Mr. Hale. You can talk to me about them any time you feel like you need to."

-x-

Lydia managed to pull herself out of bed at five-thirty on Monday morning, just an hour and a half before she needed to wake the twins. She slipped into the shower silently and then did her hair and makeup after throwing on a black flowy skirt and a pale pink sweater. It was the end of October, so it was getting colder, but it wasn't freezing quite yet. She decided to wait to cook breakfast - she wanted to make sure she gave the girls enough time to eat. Instead, she sat down with her laptop and surfed the web for a while.

At ten to six, Derek got up and came out into the living room. He wasn't dressed yet, wearing a pair of black sweatpants slung low on his hips. God, did he ever look good. Lydia was going to have to remember to keep the relationship between the two of them professional - yes, Derek was a beautiful man in every aspect of the word, but getting involved with your boss, or even having fantasies about him, was a bad idea.

"Good morning, Mr. Hale," Lydia said from her spot on the couch. Derek looked a little surprised when he turned around.

"Sorry for being dressed like this," Derek said, watching Lydia closely. "Rosa was fifty years old and not interested in guys my age. I didn't even think about it."

Lydia shrugged, "It's fine. This is your house, after all. It's not a big deal, anyway. I was just killing some time before starting breakfast."

"You know you're not required to cook for us, right? I can do that just fine."

"Does it offend you that I want to?" Lydia asked. Derek shook his head, so Lydia continued, "Good, because I want to. Cooking food with sustenance isn't my favorite thing to do, but I'm good at it. Besides, it's not that difficult to make a plate of pancakes."

"Are you trying to earn brownie points with my daughters?" Derek asked, a smile on his face. "Because you're going about it the right way."

"Nope," Lydia said. "I just want pancakes. Do you happen to have fresh blueberries in the house?"

"Fresh fruits and vegetable are always in the house. I grew up a little spoiled - my mom never used canned anything. Everything was always fresh. The blueberries are probably in the freezer, though."

Lydia shrugged, "Not a problem."

At six-thirty, Lydia woke the girls, and while Tal got up right away, Lex pulled the covers over her head and groaned. It reminded Lydia a lot of Stiles. So Lydia pulled the blankets off of Lex and said, "C'mon, rise and shine. I'm making pancakes."

That got Lex out of bed in a flash. "Pancakes?" she asked excitedly.

"Yes," Lydia said. "Get up, get dressed and around. I'm going to start them right now."

After making the pancakes, she set them on the table and the girls sat down to eat. Derek, the freaking health nut, ate his pancakes without syrup, and Lydia wasn't even sure how he did that. He gave Lydia instructions on the girls' care for the day.

"Tal's got dance rehearsal at three, and Lex has basketball practice at four. I'm well aware that you can't be at two places at once, but maybe you can sit in on one of them. Tal's practice should be over at five, and Lex's will be over at six. You can make them dinner if you want. We've got a good stock of whatever in the cupboards and freezer. Try to make it healthy, okay?"

Lydia nodded, "Seriously, Mr. Hale, what do you take me for? I'm going to take really good care of your daughters."

-x-

While Derek was at work that day, he worried a lot about Lydia and the girls. He knew that Lydia was experienced, and she was good at her job, but it was a father's prerogative to worry about his kids. Derek had a good feeling about Lydia - she was amazing with the girls, and both Lex and Tal had already started opening up to her. It had taken them weeks to open up to Rosa, and even though they eventually liked her, Rosa wasn't exactly the best nanny ever.

When Jennifer had left, Derek knew he couldn't do it all. He was a young father - twenty years old - and he and Jennifer had been dating since their junior year of high school. She had made it crystal clear that she never wanted kids, but then it happened. Her pregnancy had been an accident, but when it happened, Derek felt blessed. The minute he learned about Jen's pregnancy, he knew that he already loved their child. Of course, when it turned out to be two, Derek felt even more grateful. He loved his daughters and would do absolutely anything to make sure they were safe and happy.

"Little brother?" Derek blinked a couple of times before realizing that Laura was standing in front of him and just watching him. There was amusement sparkling in her green eyes, and Derek just sighed.

"What do you want, Laura?" Derek asked, annoyed.

"I came to take my little brother to lunch," she said, pointing to the clock. It was then that Derek realized it was almost one-thirty. He usually ate lunch around twelve.

"Sorry," Derek said. "I'd love to go to lunch with you."

"Great," Laura said. "And maybe on the way out, you can tell me what you were thinking about."

It wasn't long before Derek found himself sitting at a booth in Minnie's Diner, which was a favorite of Laura's. It was a cheap place, but Laura knew Minnie. She was a sweet woman in her sixties, who'd run this restaurant since she was in her thirties. It'd been around for a long time. Laura and Minnie were good friends, and Laura loved hanging around with the older woman.

"Let me guess," Laura said after they had ordered, "You were thinking about a beautiful redhead."

"She's technically strawberry blonde," Derek answered automatically, but could tell by Laura's smirk that he'd said something wrong. "Goddamn it," he muttered, but then said, "Actually, I was thinking about a lot of things. I was thinking about how good Lydia is with the girls, yes, but I was also thinking about their mother."

Laura's expression turned to anger, "Why are you still subjecting yourself to that bitch?"

"Look, Laura, whether we like it or not, Jen was a part of my life, and the girls are half her. Hell, Tal's human, just like Jen was. And have you not noticed Lex is the spitting image of her?"

"I've noticed," Laura said, "but I don't like to think about it. Your daughters are going to be so much better than their mother, you'll see."

"I'm not comparing Jen to them," Derek said. "I was just thinking about how I got here."

"Well, you could be other places with Lydia," Laura waggled her eyebrows before saying, "She's a looker, huh? Quite a catch."

"It doesn't matter," Derek said, almost glumly. "She's made it crystal clear that she is not interested in a friendship. She wants things to be cordial and professional between the two of us."

"Oh," Laura's face fell. Finally, she said, "Well, opinions can change. I think she likes you."

"As a boss," Derek said.

"No," Laura said. "As a guy. I've seen the way she looks at you. Don't tell me you haven't noticed it."

"Yeah, I've noticed it," Derek said, "but I'm trying to ignore it. She can do so much better than me."

"Don't sell yourself short, Der," Laura said as the waitress brought their food. "You're quite a catch, too."

"Let it go, Laura," Derek said. "You have to say shit like that. You're my big sister."

"Damn straight I am," Laura said, "but I meant it. You put so much pressure on yourself because Kate seduced you. Well, get over it. I mean, yeah, Mom and Dad are gone, but it isn't your fault, okay? I almost wonder sometimes if Peter had a feeling that something bad was going to happen, because why else would he have suggested we all go to the park that day?"

Derek just shrugged.

"Look, Kate was a psychotic bitch and Gerard wasn't any better. When Peter killed them, it was a relief to us all. They deserved to die."

"You're not really talking like the lawyer you're supposed to be, Laura," Derek said. Laura just shrugged, snagging a few French fries off of Derek's plate.

"Everyone knows how I feel about the Argents," Laura said. When Derek opened his mouth to say something, Laura held up a hand. "Okay, so I'm okay with Chris and Allison, but they're nothing like their psychotic relatives. Chris is so far apart from Gerard it's even amazing they're related, and Allison was pissed when she learned about what Kate tried to do. Allison thought she was close to her, but there was so much she didn't know. I would never hold anything that Kate and Gerard did against Chris and Allison, when you and I both know damn well that it went against their code."

"I know, Laur," Derek said.

"But I've got a good feeling about Lydia, baby brother," Laura said, taking a drink of her water. "Things are definitely going to get better."

Chapter Text

Lydia was used to taking care of little ones during the day, so after she realized she had several hours to kill while the girls were at school and Derek was at work, she decided she wanted to bake them a treat. She mostly did her baking when she was upset or stressed, but she also did it whenever she was bored or had time to kill.

Deciding Derek wouldn't be able to argue the health and sweetness of oatmeal raisin cookies, she went to the store to buy raisins because she knew she didn't see any in Derek's cupboard that morning. That's when she ran into Erica.

"Hey, you," Erica said, shifting her shopping basket from one arm to the other, stopping to chat with Lydia for just a moment. "What are you doing here?"

"Picking up a few things," Lydia said. "Hey, you know Mr. Hale, right?"

Erica laughed, "Yeah, you could say that."

"What is his policy on oatmeal raisin cookies?"

Erica laughed again, "He likes them. That's practically the only junk food that he likes raisins in. He says that raisins don't belong in sweets, but he has a weakness for those."

"Great," Lydia said. "I'm going to make some."

"Sounds good," Erica said. "I heard you made breakfast this morning."

Lydia nodded, "Yeah, but it was for purely selfish reasons, I assure you. I just really wanted some blueberry pancakes."

Erica laughed, "Yeah, the girls are totally going to get spoiled with you living there."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, Derek loves the girls. He does, okay? But his job takes up a lot of his time, so he can't spend a lot of time with the girls like he wants to. And so it's usually a bowl of cereal for them in the mornings."

"I understand," Lydia said. "I get that he has to earn a living, and I get that his job is important."

"It's just that Cora told me about how you've called CPS on bad parents -"

"And you think I'm going to do that to Mr. Hale," Lydia said. When Erica nodded, Lydia shook her head. "Don't worry about that. I only call CPS on bad parents. He's in no way a bad parent. Mr. Hale loves the girls, you can tell that, and they're very well taken care of. CPS has no reason to even get involved here."

Erica nodded, "Good. I'm gonna talk Boyd into coming over for dinner at your place, so we can get to know you. Tonight okay?"

"Who's Boyd?"

"My husband," Erica said. "He also went to BHHS with us, but he was a loner, a lot like Isaac and myself. We've been together for a while."

"Oh, okay," Lydia said. "It sounds good to me. Come over whenever, and I'll make dinner."

Erica laughed before patting Lydia on the shoulder, "Yeah, the girls are definitely going to get spoiled with you living there. But you're gonna be good for them."

Lydia smiled as Erica walked away.

-x-

Erica showed up at the Hale estate around seven with a dark skinned guy who Lydia assumed was Boyd. Her assumptions were confirmed when Tal ran up to them and hugged them both in turn. "Aunt Eri and Uncle Boyd!" she squealed. "What are you doing here?"

"Lydia invited us over for dinner," Erica said, hugging the little girl. "Is your dad home?"

"No," Tal said. "He's working late."

Erica nodded. She then came into the kitchen and introduced Boyd to Lydia. He shook her hand.

"It's really great to meet you," Boyd told her. "I've heard a ton of stuff about you."

Lydia laughed, "All good, I hope."

"Trust me, if it were bad, you would've heard about it already," Boyd said. He looked into the pot where Lydia was stirring dinner and said, "What's cooking?"

"It's called hamburger casserole," she said. "It's a recipe my mom made up when I was just a kid. It's basically hamburger, noodles, mushroom soup and mushrooms, all mixed together."

"Sounds good," he said.

"I should've made sure the two of you weren't allergic to anything," Lydia said, and Boyd chuckled.

"Don't worry about that," he said. "Eri and I are werewolves."

"Right," Lydia said, feeling stupid for a moment. "You're not allergic to anything."

"Right," he said.

Lydia finished dinner and they sat down to eat. Lydia watched Erica and Boyd's interactions with one another and hoped that someday she'd find someone she clicked with like that. They seemed to understand each other on a level that they were both on, and they seemed to click really well. Lydia wanted that. She wanted someone who could tell what she was thinking before she even said it.

At nine o'clock, after Lydia tucked the girls into bed and told them to sleep well, she went back out into the living room and saw a bottle of whiskey on the coffee table. She saw Erica and Boyd clink their glasses together before they both took a drink.

"Did you bring the liquor?" Lydia asked them.

"Nope," Erica said, popping the P. "I got this out of Derek's liquor cabinet."

"As long as I'm not blamed for it, I'm good," Lydia laughed. Erica nodded.

"Don't worry," she said, taking another drink, grimacing as the burn went down her throat, "we get into his liquor cabinet every time we come over. He's used to it by now."

Lydia nodded.

Derek arrived home around ten that night, where Lydia was still chatting with Boyd and Erica. He went over to hug Erica and then said, "What are you guys doing here?"

"Getting to know your nanny a little bit better," Erica said, taking the last drink of what was in her glass. "We owe you another bottle of wolfsbane whiskey, though."

"I'll put it on your bill," Derek said sarcastically. When Lydia shot him a confused look, he explained, "Every time they come over, they drink an entire bottle of wolfsbane laced whiskey. It's an inside joke, because I will probably never get them back."

"You're practically my big brother, Der," Erica said, running a hand through her hair. "It's my job to do this kind of stuff to you."

Derek laughed and nodded.

He ended up calling a cab because werewolves could get drunk on wolfsbane laced drinks and he worried about Boyd and Erica getting hauled in for a DUI, and he told them he'd get their car back to them tomorrow. He heated up a plate of dinner that Lydia had saved for him - from Tal's insistence, of course - and she sat down to chat with him while he ate.

"How were the girls today?" Derek asked. "I'm just asking because today was your first full day as my nanny, and I'm curious to see how the transition is for the girls."

"It went well," Lydia said. "You've got good girls, Mr. Hale. They're sweethearts and they're very well behaved. I sat in on Lex's basketball practice today, and told Tal that next time, I'd sit in on her dance rehearsal. I figured I could alternate between the two of them."

"Sounds like a plan," Derek said. "I was worried about that."

"Why?" Lydia asked, taking a drink of the bottle of water she had brought to the table. "Something about me?"

Derek shook his head, "No. Rosa was really good with Tal but she was horrible with Lex. Rosa was more girly, so she and Tal got along really well, but she treated Lex - I don't want to say badly, but if the shoe fits...you know. Rosa didn't believe that girls could be into 'boys' stuff," Derek said, using actual air quotes. "Not that I agreed with her, because I love my girls just the way they are, but that worried me that it could happen again."

"Both of your daughters are wonderfully, originally unique," Lydia said. "I believe that every child should be able to be who they are without worry of being judged. And I'm sorry to say, but the more I hear about your previous nanny, the more I dislike her."

Derek nodded, "I was debating firing her when she quit. She wasn't that great, and I realize now that I let it go on a little longer than I should've, but I really am glad that you're so good with the girls."

Lydia smiled, "Thank you, Mr. Hale."

"Is there any way I can get you to call me Derek?" He asked her, taking the last bite of his casserole. "I mean, it just feels too formal for you to refer to me that way."

Lydia licked her lips before saying, "I'm sorry if it bothers you, but I prefer it this way. It reminds me that you are my boss."

Derek nodded, "Okay, sure. It's fine."

Lydia just smiled.

-x-

Lydia was up at four o'clock in the morning about a week later, mostly because she had a nightmare and couldn't get back to sleep. When she noticed that it was four, and she usually got up at five-thirty, she figured she'd just stay up. After getting in the shower and getting dressed for the day, she went into the kitchen and decided to make a coffee cake. It'd be a nice surprise for Derek when he got up.

And Lydia liked him, okay? Derek was a great guy, a great father, and you could tell that he loved his daughters very much. They were his complete and entire world, and anybody who spent time around him could tell that. But there was a part of Derek that Lydia liked a little bit more than platonically. She figured she could hide it, but it'd been a week since that dinner with Erica and Boyd, since the night Derek admitted that he should've fired Rosa. And when he worked late, every night he came home, he heated up a plate of whatever Lydia had made for dinner and they would sit at the table for an hour or so and just talk.

He talked to her about growing up as Talia Hale's son; he talked to her about his sisters and cousin. Lydia hadn't known Cora and Laura very long, but she knew Malia, if only because Stiles and Malia had been together forever. Lydia knew Laura a little, but mostly just because her step-father was the sheriff and ever since Jordan started working at the station, he and John had gotten pretty close.

Derek was someone that Lydia could talk to about anything that went through her mind. It was a great feeling to have a friend, to have someone who she could just sit and chat with and not worry that they were judging her. Because Derek never judged, okay? Not like Jackson had. And Lydia felt like she and Derek had a lot in common.

Derek was smart - maybe not genius smart, not like Lydia was, with math and numbers and science, but he was smart in other ways. He was also an avid reader, going for the classics, like Moby Dick, Treasure Island, and To Kill a Mockingbird. They could sit at the table and discuss books all night long if they had the time, but Derek's job killed most of his social life.

And Lydia respected him for that, too. Derek was a damn good DA. A few days ago, when Derek was once again working overtime in his office, Lydia had called John and he told Lydia about all the wins Derek had for the county. He told her that Derek loved his job and was very passionate about it, and how it showed. He mentioned that Beacon County was very lucky to have a DA as passionate as Derek was.

Lydia had a problem now, though. She had always been attracted to the type of guy who had kids and paid attention to them, the family-oriented type of guy. And that description fit Derek to a T. He loved his girls and would walk across fire to make sure that they were safe and happy. Lydia really respected that about him. But she was finding herself starting to fall for him.

This was not supposed to happen, okay? She needed this job, and she couldn't just make things awkward between herself and Derek. That wouldn't be fair to Derek, and it wouldn't be fair to the girls, either.

And the girls meant a lot to Lydia. Okay, so they both could be devils on occasion, and they had a lot of energy and didn't know what to do with it. Lex had the most energy out of the two of them, which Derek had told Lydia was because of the wolf in her. And Lydia had grown up with an ADHD brother, so she knew sometimes running all the excess energy off was a really good idea. She was trying to figure out a few things to do with Lex to burn off some of that excess energy. Maybe she could get Stiles over there and they could figure something out together.

Lydia's thoughts were interrupted by six o'clock, when the timer for her coffee cake beeped. She took it out of the oven and set it aside to cool.

When Derek came out of his room at six-twenty, he came right into the kitchen. "Cooking for us again?" he asked. "You're going to spoil us."

"I just thought that you might like a nice coffee cake," Lydia said. "It wasn't hard for me to whip up and I got up early so I had time."

"Did you get up early just to make this?" Derek asked, clearly concerned. Lydia shook her head.

"No. I had a nightmare and didn't see the point in going back to sleep when I had to be up in an hour and a half anyway." She cut the cake and then motioned to it. "Have some. It's just a simple blueberry coffee cake."

"You really have a thing for blueberries, don't you?" Derek asked her, laughing, as he took a piece and sat down at the table with it. Lydia watched him as he took a bite.

"This is really good!" he exclaimed after he'd finished chewing. "Like really, really good."

"I'm glad," Lydia said. She checked her watch and then said, "I've gotta wake up the girls. Enjoy your breakfast."

The morning ran smoothly, with the girls each getting a piece of the coffee cake for breakfast, and after Derek and the girls left for the day, going to both work and school respectively, Lydia sighed, plopping down on the couch in the living room. She put her head in her hands. She was not supposed to fall for Derek, alright? And she just broke her own rule. What was she going to do now?

Chapter Text

"It's been way too long since we've done this," Danny was saying to Lydia across the table from her. Lydia hummed in agreement.

They were at a small dive bar just outside of Beacon Hills. It was somewhere that Danny would go whenever he wanted to blow off some steam and have a few drinks and didn't want to be bothered. He figured that it would do Lydia good to get out for a while.

She had this weekend off. It was the weekend before Halloween, and Derek had decided he wanted to spend some quality time with the girls, so he gave Lydia the whole weekend off, telling her that she should get together with some friends - it'd be good for her.

Lydia was actually kind of surprised at how fast she agreed to do so - she loved the girls, she loved spending time with them and taking care of them, but she really needed to step away for a little while. So she'd packed a bag and was staying with Stiles and Malia this weekend. When Danny had asked her to get a few drinks at a dive bar he knew that was just outside of town, she jumped at the chance.

Danny had just returned from the bar, his bottle of beer and Lydia's rum and coke in his hands. He handed her her drink and took a swig of his beer before sitting down across from her.

"So tell me, Lyds," Danny said, watching her closely, "what's it really like to live with Derek Hale?"

Lydia shrugged, "We basically just co-exist. We have a common interest - the girls. I take care of them."

"I know that," Danny said. "It just seems like...well, Derek's taken a liking to you."

Lydia shrugged again, taking a swig of her drink.

"He's gotten to you, hasn't he?" Danny said. "You have a crush on him."

"I wouldn't call it a crush exactly..." Lydia said, her voice trailing off. "Is he a decent guy? Yeah, he's great. But he's my boss, and that's all he can ever be."

"How long has it been since you've gotten laid, Lyds?" Danny asked, a serious tone in his voice that didn't come out very often. "As a matter of fact, how long has it been since your last date?"

"Get that thought out of your head, Mahealani," Lydia said, almost harshly. "I'm not dating right now. My job comes first."

Danny sighed, "Look, Lyds, I know that Jackson's an asshole. Anybody can tell you that. And I'm sorry he played you like he did. I didn't know anything about it, or else I would've warned you. But you can't brush off dating now. Don't go into a shell, okay? You're a great girl and any guy would be lucky to have you."

Lydia sighed, "I don't need a date. I don't need a fuck. I just need to take care of Lex and Tal. I love those girls and they appreciate me."

"You know, a date would be good for you. Eric's been asking about you lately."

Eric was Danny's brother. older than them by a few years. He was a good looking guy, Lydia supposed, but she wasn't so sure about the rumors that followed him around.

"It's not like that," Danny said when Lydia voiced her concerns. "That was just idle gossip. Eric would never hurt you; he's not that kind of guy. For God's sake, he's one of John's best deputies."

Eric Mahealani had a reputation of being a womanizer. There were so many rumors that went around town that said he abused women, that he played them. And maybe they were true, but then again, what Danny said made sense. Beacon Hills was a small town, and especially in small towns, people kept themselves amused by gossiping.

"Just think about it, huh, Lyds?" Danny asked her, watching her with his eyes. Lydia hated that look in his eyes. Because Danny had been Jackson's best friend growing up, she knew him extremely well, just like he knew her, and that look told her everything she needed to know. It told her that he was concerned for her, that he wanted her to take him seriously.

Lydia sighed, "Sure. I'll think it over."

"He's working tomorrow," Danny said, knowing that the next day was Saturday. "Afternoon shift, three to eleven. I bet it'd be nice to see you."

Lydia sighed again, "Sure, Danny. I'll definitely think about it."

-x-

Malia had told Lydia that morning (well, early afternoon) when she tumbled out of bed that Stiles and John were also working a three to eleven shift, and she knew their lunch break was eight o'clock, so she decided on a whim to take all of them lunch. When she showed up at the station with a bag from a local burger joint, she met Stiles at the front desk.

"Hey, Lyds!" Stiles said brightly. "What are you doing here?"

"I thought I'd bring you guys lunch. You still like bacon cheeseburgers?"

Stiles stared at her for a good minute. "Do I still like bacon cheeseburgers?" he scoffed, as if he couldn't believe she had just asked him that. "Lyds, how long have you known me?"

Lydia shrugged, "A long time, I guess."

"Yeah. And you should know that I will never give up bacon cheeseburgers." He let out a breath and then said, "And what did you bring Dad? A bacon cheeseburger as well?"

"Nope. Just a regular cheeseburger. And don't even give me that bullshit about how he needs to watch his red meat. Sure, he does, and Mom takes good care of him that way, you know? A red meat cheeseburger isn't going to hurt him if he only eats it on occasion."

Stiles sighed, but then said, "I guess."

"Don't get too enthusiastic about it, Stiles," Lydia said sarcastically, and it made Stiles laugh. "I mean it."

"Okay," Stiles said. Then he made grabby hands and said, "Now, gimme my lunch. I'm starving."

Lydia handed over the bacon cheeseburger and the curly fries she had brought for her brother. As he ate one of the fries, he moaned loudly. The moan actually sounded a little filthy, and Lydia rolled her eyes.

"Save that for your fiancée," Lydia said, and Stiles just laughed. "Is John in his office?"

Stiles nodded, "Yeah."

She had to pass by Eric's desk to get to the sheriff's office, so she stopped by for a minute to chat with him. He looked up when he noticed someone was standing there, and a big grin covered his face.

"Well, I'll be damned," he said. He looked her up and down for a moment before saying, "Lydia Martin. Damn, Lydia, time has been very good to you."

Lydia smiled, "Thank you. I brought you lunch."

"Really?" he asked her. "That was awful sweet of you."

On Danny's advice, Lydia had bought Eric a chicken sandwich and regular fries. He glanced at the food and then said, "That was very sweet of you, Lydia. Just what I like, too. How'd you know?"

"Your brother," Lydia said. "Danny told me what to buy, and said that you wanted to spend some time with me."

"Well, he wasn't wrong," Eric said. "I definitely would like to spend some time with you, Lydia. In fact, are you busy next weekend?"

Lydia shrugged, "I'm not sure. I know that Halloween is a big deal for the Hales, and Mr. Hale likes to spend time with the girls. I can see what his plans are. Can I get back to you on that?"

Eric nodded, "Sure. Danny's boyfriend, Ethan, is giving a party next Saturday night for Halloween. A costume party. It'd be pretty great if you could accompany me."

Lydia nodded.

"Let me give you my number," Eric said, writing a phone number down on a piece of paper and handing it to her. Lydia put it in the pocket of the jacket she had on, and smiled at him.

"When I know what's going on, I'll give you a call," Lydia said. Eric nodded and smiled at her.

-x-

Lydia had been standing in the doorway to Derek's study, where he was bent over a desk, going over some files, for almost five minutes before he said, "Lydia, please don't stand there like that. If you've got something to talk to me about, come in and we can discuss it."

"Sorry," Lydia said, as she took a seat in the easy chair that was in there, "I didn't want to disturb you if you were busy."

"Never too busy for you," Derek said. He closed the files and then looked over at Lydia, "Is something wrong? Does it have to do with the girls?"

Lydia shook her head, "No, nothing like that. I was actually just wondering what you were doing for Halloween?"

Derek shrugged, "Laura and I always take the girls trick-or-treating. Nothing big. Why do you ask?"

"I was wondering if I could get Saturday night off, actually," Lydia said. "I've been invited to a costume party."

"Like, a date?" Derek asked, sounding interested. When Lydia nodded, he shrugged and said, "That could probably be arranged. Who is it?"

"Eric Mahealani," Lydia answered, but then saw the dark look on Derek's face.

"Lydia, I need you to listen to me very carefully,: he said, and she noted the serious tone in his voice. "When it comes to Eric Mahealani, I need you to be extremely careful. I would say don't go out with him at all, but you're a grown woman and have to make your own choices. Just know that those rumors that follow him around - they're not rumors, okay? He is not a good guy. I'll give you Saturday off, just because it is Halloween, and you should be allowed to celebrate it, but just tread very carefully around Eric, okay? He's no good."

Lydia nodded. "Thanks, Mr. Hale," she said. "I'll definitely take that into account."

Chapter Text

Lydia was confused. Eric Mahealani was a deputy at the sheriff's station. John trusted him to be his backup in almost any situation. So why was Derek warning her about him?

When Lydia couldn't figure it out by herself, she called Stiles. It was Tuesday morning, and she knew that Stiles was working afternoons right now. She wanted to catch him before he went into work.

"Hey, Lyds," Stiles answered, and he sounded pretty cheerful. "What's up?"

"I need you to tell me about Eric Mahealani," she said, very seriously.

"What do you want to know?"

"What's he like? I mean, really?"

Stiles sounded a little confused, "I don't understand the question."

"You work with the guy. You've got to know what his personality is, right?"

"What's going on, Lyds? Why do you want to know about Eric?"

"He asked me out. On Saturday. But Mr. Hale said something about him, and I need to know if there's any truth to it."

"Be careful with him, Lyds," Stiles said very seriously. "I don't know Eric, not a lot, but I have noticed that there seems to be more complaints about him than anybody else."

"If that's so, then why is he still employed there?"

"Because they're just complaints," Stiles said. "Dad looked into them, and they didn't really seem to pan out. Dad thinks everything's okay, but I can't have you take that chance and something happen to you. I remember when you got stabbed."

"I remember getting stabbed, too, Stiles," Lydia snapped. Then she sighed, "Look, I didn't mean to snap. I just...Mr. Hale told me that those rumors that follow Eric around aren't really rumors. I have a hard time with life as it is, trusting people, and I'm not one hundred percent sure that I should go out with him at all if there's something rotten about the guy."

"Look, I'm not saying go out with the guy, Lyds," Stiles said softly. "But some people deserve the benefit of the doubt, you know? They deserve the chance to fuck up."

"What if he fucks up with me, though, Stiles?"

"How long have you doubted people like this?" Stiles asked very seriously. "How long have you not been able to trust anyone?"

"I trust you. I trust John, and Mom, and I even trust Mr. Hale. If I didn't, I wouldn't be living here. I just...ever since I got stabbed, I have little faith in humanity. I don't want to be another one of those girls who gets hurt or killed because I've made the wrong decision."

"And I can appreciate that," Stiles said. He sighed and then said, "Do you still carry that knife?"

Lydia knew what knife Stiles was talking about. It was just a small utility knife, something that she had bought just in case something like the stabbing ever happened to her again. She hadn't carried that knife in a long time, however.

"Why not?" Stiles asked when Lydia told him no. "I thought you bought that knife for protection."

"I did. But I can protect myself just fine without it."

"It's not like you have claws," Stiles said, and Lydia knew that he was referencing the werewolves. "Derek, Scott, and even Malia, they can protect themselves because they've got claws. What do you have?

"My voice," Lydia said. "I was working with another banshee back in the Williams pack, and she taught me quite a few things. I can protect myself just fine with my screams."

"I'd still feel better if you carried that knife with you, Lydia. Just in case."

"I'll think about it," Lydia said. "But tell me, Stiles, do you think Eric deserves a chance?"

"I think almost everyone deserves a chance until they prove otherwise, Lyds," Stiles said. "It's just something to think about."

-x-

"So, we still on for Halloween?" Laura asked Derek while they were at lunch that day. Derek had actually called her up and asked if she wanted to meet for lunch, because he wanted to talk to her about Lydia.

"Of course we are," Derek said. "We've been taking the girls trick-or-treating together as a family ever since they were born. And I talked to Malia, and she's bringing Caleb along. Stiles has to work, so it'll just be her."

Laura nodded.

There were several long moments of silence, and finally, it got to Laura before she said, "So, out with it, baby brother."

"What do you mean?" Derek asked, even though it didn't surprise him that Laura knew him that well. He had asked her out to lunch, but hadn't told her why. She must've pieced it together by herself. It didn't surprise him; Laura was very in tune with people and could always tell when something was weighing on someone's mind.

"You asked me to lunch, Der. You hardly ever asked me to lunch. Whenever we get lunch, its always me asking you. So something had to have happened. You obviously wanted to talk to me about something. So talk."

Derek nodded and sighed. Then he said, "Lydia's got a date on Saturday night. You know, Danny Mahealani's throwing that Halloween party and she asked for the night off."

"Okay...?" Laura said, letting her voice trail off. "What's the big deal? Lydia can have a life."

"Of course she can," Derek said. Then he watched his sister before saying, "Lo, she's going out with Eric Mahealani."

Laura crinkled her brow, "Eric Mahealani?" The Eric Mahealani that you graduated with?"

Derek nodded, "Do you know any other Eric Mahealani?"

"Okay, okay," Laura muttered. "We're talking about the same guy that hurt all those girls in high school, aren't we?"

Derek nodded, "Yeah. And I cant tell Lydia what to do - I'm not her father. I just don't know if I can stand back and watch him tear her apart like he did to all those other girls. Lydia's a good person, she's beautiful and smart and she's wonderful to my girls. She treats Lex and Tal like they're her own and I just can't bear to watch him hurt her."

"Right now, Der, all you can do is sit back and watch. Lydia's a strong soul - if something goes south in that relationship, she'll take care of herself - I have absolutely no doubt about that. I know Lydia - and I'm not worried about her."

Derek sighed, "I just wish I felt the same way, Laura."

-x-

The girls were starting to get really excited for Halloween. When Lydia was sitting in on Lex's basketball practice that afternoon, she overheard her tell pretty much everyone that she couldn't wait to go out with her dad. It made Lydia smile.

She had had her own traditions with her own father, when he'd been alive, and then traditions she shared with John and Stiles. She had been twelve when her mom married John and she was ecstatic to have Stiles be her brother. That's when they started throwing Halloween parties, and Lydia Martin threw the best parties, thank you very much. She was the party queen of Beacon Hills.

Lydia briefly wondered how many years would pass before the girls would start wanting to throw Halloween parties of their own. It was true that they were only 10, but it seemed to Lydia that kids were growing up so much faster these days.

Since Tal's rehearsal wasn't over until six, and Lex's was over at five, they sat in on the hour left during Tal's dance rehearsal. Lydia took the time to watch Tal as she danced - she always watched her - because Tal was just so mesmerizing to watch. She loved ballet, and it showed, and she studied hard. She was good at it, and it wouldn't surprise Lydia at all if Tal ended up dancing professionally.

When she was taking the girls home, Tal - who won the rock paper scissors to see who sat up front - looked over at her and said, "What are you doing for Halloween, Lydia? Dad says you're not going trick-or-treating with us."

"That's right," Lydia said. "I've been invited to a party."

Did a boy invite you?" Tal teasingly asked her. "Is it a date?"

Lydia laughed, "Yeah, a boy did ask me."

Lex rolled her eyes at her sister's enthusiasm and then she said softly, "I wish you were celebrating Halloween with us."

Lydia licked her lips as she glanced back at Lex in the rear view mirror, "I'm sorry, sweetheart. It was a last minute thing, I know. How about we all get together after Halloween - maybe the weekend after or something - and have a movie marathon? We can watch anything you want."

"Anything?" Lex asked, her eyes widening.

"Anything within reason," Lydia amended. "Anything you're allowed to watch. If your dad's okay with it, then I'm okay with it."

Tal rolled her eyes. "We're going to be stuck watching some stupid action movie," she muttered. "Great."

"We'll alternate," Lydia suggested, pulling into the Hales' driveway. She cut the engine and then said, "Lex can pick one and you can pick one. Does that sound acceptable?"

"Yeah," Tal said. "I can live with that."

-x-

The Friday before Halloween, Lydia took the girls to get their costumes. Lex had decided to go as a ninja, and Tal wanted to be a princess. They were general enough to finds things that would fit them well. While Lydia was at the store, she browsed to see what she could find. Finally, feeling frustrated because she wasn't sure what the hell she even wanted to be, she decided to call Allison.

While Lydia lived in Beacon Hills before, when they were going to high school, Allison had always been Lydia's best friend. At times, it seemed like Allison knew Lydia better than she knew herself. And when she couldn't figure out what she wanted to be, she figured Allison might have an idea.

"A zombie?" Lydia asked, and Allison laughed on the other line. "Are you even serious right now?"

"One hundred percent," Allison said confidently. "I'll pick up everything you need later. I'll come over tomorrow afternoon and help you get ready. When is Eric picking you up?"

"Eight o'clock," Lydia said. "I've gotta be ready by then."

"Don't worry," Allison said cheerfully. "You've got this."

After hanging up, Lydia and the girls checked out before heading home. They decided to pick up a pizza on their way, since it was almost seven o'clock, and Lydia knew that Derek would be okay with the girls having junk food every once and again - they'd already had that discussion.

Once they were at home, and after they ate their dinner, Derek came through the front door. After his girls hugged him in turn, Lydia offered him some pizza that was left over.

"How was your day, Lydia?" Derek asked her as he grabbed a slice. "Did everything go okay with getting the girls' costumes?"

Lydia nodded, "Yep. They got what they wanted."

"And you're not going to tell me what they are?"

Lydia laughed, "Sorry. I've been sworn to secrecy. The girls were pretty adamant that they wanted to surprise you. Don't worry, though - it's definitely age appropriate."

"That's a relief," Derek said. "Still...I wouldn't say no to knowing what they are."

Lydia laughed, "A promise is a promise, Mr. Hale. I can't do that."

Derek just made a face.

After tucking the girls in for bed, Lydia sat up on the couch, thoughts just invading her head. When Derek sat down next to her, she was a little surprised.

"So...big date tomorrow," Derek said softly. "You nervous?"

"I don't know," Lydia said, sighing. "It's my first date since my breakup with Jackson. I guess I should be nervous. I just don't know if I am."

"It's okay to be nervous, you know," he said. "I remember my first date after Jen left. It's actually an experience I want to forget."

"I'm sorry," Lydia said, placing a hand soothingly on his arm. "Some dates are just terrible - there's no fixing that."

Derek watched Lydia closely, and she was close enough that she could see his eyes - they were so beautiful, a green color with specks of gold and brown in them - and she licked her lips nervously.

Derek took a deep breath before saying, "I want you to know that I'm always going to be here for you, Lydia. And if things go badly between you and Eric, I'm not going to make you feel like crap. I'm always here to listen, if that's what you want."

Lydia nodded. "I talked to Stiles today," she said, looking away. "He talked me into carrying a utility knife I used to carry right after my attack. I doubt I'll need it here in Beacon Hills, but hey, never say never, right?"

Derek nodded, "Yeah. That's right."

After glancing at the clock, seeing that it was almost ten, Lydia decided she needed to turn in. She looked at Derek, "I think I'm going to turn in now. Have a good night, Mr. Hale."

"Good night, Lydia."

Chapter Text

When Allison showed up at three o’clock the next afternoon, Tal answered the door. Lydia was busy helping Lex with her math homework, because Derek had a rule that they couldn’t go trick-or-treating unless their homework was done.

“Aunt Ally!” Tal exclaimed so loudly Lydia and Lex heard it. “What are you doing here?”

Allison’s response wasn’t loud enough for Lydia to hear, but she was finishing coaching Lex through the final three problems on her paper. By the time she was done, Lex bolted out of her desk chair to go say hello.

Lydia made her way out into the living room, where she saw Allison give Derek a hug. “It’s good to see you, Der,” Allison said. “We don’t really see you around much anymore.”

“He works a lot,” Lydia piped up. Allison came over and hugged Lydia.

“Here,” she said after they broke apart. “Dress, makeup, and shoes. You’re going to make the most striking zombie bride.”

Zombie bride?” Lydia asked incredulously. “You’ve gotta be kidding me.”

“I think you’ll make a beautiful zombie bride, Lydia,” Tal said. “Can I help you get ready?”

“Of course you can, sweetheart,” Lydia said. She held out her hand for Tal to take, which she did.

She got dressed right away, putting on the white dress and then looked at Allison. “Isn’t this, I don’t know, a little weird?” she asked. “The first time I’m wearing a wedding dress and I’m not even getting married.”

“You look beautiful in it, though,” Tal said. “Very pretty.”

“Thanks, sweetie,” Lydia said, leaning down to give her a kiss on the top of her head.

“Sit down, Lyds,” Allison said after a moment of silence. “At the vanity. That way I can do your makeup.”

“I hope you can do a satisfactory job,” Lydia said to her. “I haven’t actually been to a Halloween party in ages, so I don’t really remember how to do this.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Allison replied. “I definitely know what I’m doing.”

As Tal brought Allison a chair from the dining room table, Lydia looked at Allison. “So...Aunt Ally?”

Allison laughed, “Yeah, that’s me.”

“After the hell Gerard and Kate put the Hales through, they call you aunt?”

Allison nodded. “Yep,” she said, popping the P. She sat down in the chair Tal brought for her and then opened up the costume makeup, gathering everything she needed before starting. “Gerard and Kate were psychotic. Laura, Derek, Cora, and I have an understanding. We’re pack, and I wouldn’t do anything to hurt them. Hell, I babysit for Caleb and Cole all the time.”

Lydia nodded as Allison got to work.

“So,” Lydia said, hating the silence, “are you and Scott taking Ivy out tonight?”

“I am,” Allison said. “Scott is on call right now at the animal clinic, so he takes his rest when he can get it.”

“Are you going with us, Aunt Ally?” Tal asked from where she was sitting, perched on Lydia’s bed. “‘Cause that’d really be awesome. What is Ivy gonna be?”

“One question at a time, squirt,” Allison laughed. “I talked to your dad about going with you guys just today. Yeah, we’re going with you. And Ivy is going as Merida. You know, from Brave?”

“She’s gonna make the cutest Merida,” Tal swooned, and Lydia giggled at that.

“I agree. Your daughter’s gonna be the cutest. I want pictures!”

“You’ll get them,” Allison agreed. “I’ll make sure of it.”

It took them a few hours, but they got the makeup just right for Lydia’s costume. By the time Allison told Lydia to stand up and look at herself in the full length mirror, it was almost seven o’clock.

Lydia did as Allison told her, twirling a little so she could see all over. She did look pretty good, if she could say so herself. Allison was good at making her up; she could do this professionally. Lydia went back over the vanity, putting on a fresh coat of the dark red lipstick that Allison had brought over as part of her costume, and then took a good look at herself.

“You want me to do your hair, Lyds?” Allison asked. “How do you want it? Up or down?”

Lydia shrugged, “I have no idea.”

“How ‘bout a French braid?” Tal asked from where she was still perched, cross-legged, on Lydia’s bed. “You’d look really pretty in a French braid.”

“Well, if Tal thinks so,” Lydia said, with a laugh, “then how about a French braid, Ally? Can you do that?”

Allison nodded, “I sure can.”

It didn’t take long to put Lydia’s hair into one French braid that hung down her back. After she was finished, she looked at Lydia, “You look amazing. You make the most beautiful zombie bride I’ve ever seen.”

Lydia laughed, “Have you seen a lot of zombie brides, Ally?”

By the time Eric showed up at eight o’clock to pick Lydia up, she had her costume on and had also eaten a peanut butter sandwich. She was thankful that she hadn’t messed her makeup up while eating her dinner.

“Wow, Lydia,” Eric breathed when Lydia came out to his car, carrying her purse. “You look amazing.”

“You look pretty good yourself,” Lydia said to him. Eric was dressed as Ezio from Assassin’s Creed. “I didn’t know you were a gamer.”

Eric shrugged, “Ehh, I play once in a while.”

Lydia nodded. That’s when Eric opened up the passenger side door for her and said, “You ready to go, m’lady?”

"Absolutely,” Lydia said. “Let’s go.”

-x-

“What do you think of our costumes, Daddy?” Tal asked as she and Lex came out all dressed up. Lex was dressed as a ninja, complete with plastic nunchucks, and Tal a princess, complete with a plastic tiara that sat atop her head. Lex’s brown hair was just pulled back into a ponytail, while Tal’s hair was down, in ringlet curls framing her face.

“Who did your hair, Tal?” Derek asked. “Was it Aunt Allison?”

Tal nodded, “Yeah. Aunt Ally offered. Lydia told her she could use her curling iron.”

Derek nodded.

“You didn’t tell us what you thought of our costumes,” Lex said. “Are they bad?”

“Of course not,” Derek said, his voice soft. “Your costumes are amazing. And they fit your personalities so well.” Going over to where his daughters stood, Derek placed a kiss on each of their foreheads in turn.

That’s when Allison came out with Ivy. Ivy was dressed as Merida from Brave, dark brown hair done up in curls. Derek looked at Ivy and then Allison, “Merida’s hair is red.”

Allison laughed, “I know that, Derek. Scott and I tried the wig on her. She wouldn’t keep it on.” She gave her daughter a kiss on the head and then said, “Besides that, have you known any two-year-olds that would?”

Derek laughed. “I guess you’ve got a point.”

It wasn’t long after that that Malia showed up with Caleb wearing, of course, an Obi Wan Kenobi outfit, and Cora and Isaac showed up with Cole, who was dressed as a minion from Despicable Me.

“Star Wars, Mia?” Derek asked in amusement. “Do I need to ask who picked out that costume?”

Malia laughed, Caleb reached over, motioning for Derek to pick him up, so Malia handed him over. “Of course you don’t have to ask. Stiles took him to the store when I was working, and I guess he asked him if he wanted to be someone from Star Wars. I don’t think Caleb even knows who he is, but he does look cute, doesn’t he?”

Derek nodded, “Yeah, he really does.”

After Laura showed up, they gathered the younger kids - Cole, Caleb, and Ivy - and put them all in the old red Radio Flyer wagon that he’d had since the twins were one.

“So,” Laura said, after they started walking, with her being the one to pull the wagon, “Ally sent me a picture of Lydia all dressed up. She looks pretty good, doesn’t she, Der?”

“I guess,” Derek said, a little uncertain of where this was going. “She looked pretty, I guess.”

“She looked beautiful, Aunt Laura,” Tal piped up. “Aunt Ally did a great job on her costume, don’t you think?”

“I do,” Laura answered her niece. “What do you think, baby brother? Does Lydia look beautiful?”

“I know what you’re doing, Laura, and you need to stop,” Derek said through clenched teeth.

“Sorry,” Laura said. “I was just trying to lighten the mood. I know you’re upset about her going to that party.”

“I’m not upset about her going to a party. She can go to any party she wants to. I’m nervous about her going with Eric. He’s gonna hurt her, and I can’t bear to see that happen.”

That’s when Laura looked over and noticed Derek’s eyes flashing their electric blue. “Der,” she hissed, stopping so she could look at her brother. “Fix your eyes. You need to fix your eyes.”

Taking a deep breath, Derek closed his eyes and tried to get himself under control. Once he felt a little calmer, he opened them and the blue was gone.

“Hey, slow pokes!” Cora called from ahead, where she was standing with Allison, Isaac, and Malia. “Get a move on! It’s getting dark.”

Knowing that their sister was painfully oblivious to what was going on with them, Derek just sighed and Laura said, “We’re coming, Cor. We’re coming.”

-x-

Derek didn’t expect Lydia home too soon, because he knew that a party thrown by Danny and Ethan could last all night. Danny had always been a popular guy, the down to earth guy that sat at the popular table in high school and was friends with all the popular kids but had no clue how he even got there.

After tucking the girls in that night, Derek went into his room to try to get some sleep himself, but he couldn’t think of anything other than Lydia. Of how she looked when she left the house, and she had smelled so good.

The zombie bride thing really worked for her. Derek had to hand it to Allison; she had had a great idea. The makeup had been perfect and even though Lydia was supposed to be a zombie, she was still goddamned attractive.

Derek wanted her. God, did he ever. Derek wanted Lydia more and more every single day that passed, but he knew he had to keep things professional towards the two of them. And now that Lydia was dating, Derek could never go there.

But it didn’t mean he couldn’t think about her.

And God, it had been a while since he had gotten laid. He’d had a few girlfriends after Jen left, and he even had a few casual relationships, but you couldn’t exactly have one night stands when you had kids. Self-gratification was the way that Derek always had to go.

Which wasn’t really a problem for him.

Getting up to lock his door, he stripped off his clothes. He usually slept either naked or in his boxers, anyway, so that wasn’t a big deal. He lay down on his bed, his overheated skin hitting the cool satin sheets, and adjusted the pillow beneath his head.

He ran his fingers up and down his chest, and could feel himself harden at the contact. He was going to draw this out, get all the frustration he’d been feeling because of Lydia out of his system. For now, anyway.

He could imagine undressing her. How beautiful she would look out of that dress she’d been wearing when she left the house tonight. They’d get into the shower together, wash all that makeup and fake blood she’d had on because of her costume off of her body.

She’d be so beautiful, her fair skin just shimmering. He’d warm up the water and then she’d attack his mouth with hers, kissing him hungrily. God, she’d taste so good and he would never be able to get enough of her.

He reached down and started to stroke himself slowly. God, he wanted her - did he ever want her. It’d been months of just sexual frustration ever since she moved in, and he really wanted to do something about it. He’d never ask that of her, though.

As they got into the shower, he would wash her body, leaning down to leave little kisses on her lips. She had such beautiful, pouty lips, and he wanted nothing more than to kiss them and make them swollen with his kisses.

He stroked himself a little faster, reaching his other hand down to massage his balls. He let out a groan as he imagined backing Lydia up against the back of the shower stall, dropping to his knees. He’d spread her legs, draping one of them over his shoulder, and lick a stripe up her slit.

And she would taste heavenly. He could imagine how good she’d taste. If it was anything like how she smelled, Derek knew he’d never be able to get enough.

He could feel himself start to get close. He was so close to the orgasm he could taste it, but he’d want Lydia to come first. To lose herself in what he was doing to her. And he could imagine her letting out a scream as she came around his tongue and fingers, and it was that thought that drove him over the edge. He let out a low groan as he came, striping his chest and stomach with white.

He grabbed a few tissues out of the box that was on his bedside table, cleaning himself up. He took a few deep breaths, trying to will his heartbeat to calm down a little bit, and after a moment, got up to put on a pair of sweatpants and unlock his door. The girls were still sleeping soundly, Derek could tell that just by listening, but he wanted the door unlocked just in case the girls had a nightmare or otherwise needed him.

And with that, he got into bed, and fell asleep almost immediately.

Chapter Text

"Thanks for taking me to the party," Lydia said later that night. Well, early morning, since it was almost two AM. Erica had just taken her home, opened her car door for her and they were standing on Derek's front steps. "I had a lot of fun."

He smiled at her, "Yeah, I did, too. I'd love to go out again sometime."

Lydia nodded, "Sounds good. I've got your number; I'll call you."

Eric leaned forward and placed a kiss on Lydia's cheek. "Goodnight, m'lady," he said, and it made Lydia giggle. She smiled and waved at him as he got into his car and drove away.

When she went inside the house, after taking off her shoes so she wouldn't wake anyone up, she went into her room and put on a pair of pajama shorts and a matching spaghetti strap tank top to sleep in. Going into the bathroom, she washed the makeup off her face and then took her hair out of the braid. She put it up into a messy bun on top of her head and then decided to get a little something to eat before she headed to bed.

She was surprised when she saw Derek in the kitchen. He was wearing only a pair of black sweatpants, slung low on his hips, and he was barefoot. He looked up when he heard her enter the kitchen.

"Hey, Lydia," he said. He poured some hot water into a coffee mug and then looked at her. "How was the party?"

"It was good," Lydia said. "I had a lot of fun. I really do like Danny's boyfriend, though."

Derek nodded, "Yeah, he's a good guy with a lot of interesting stories, I'll tell you that. He and his twin brother have been all around the country."

Lydia nodded.

As Lydia made herself a peanut butter sandwich, she looked at Derek, "So, Mr. Hale, how was your Halloween? Did the girls get a lot of candy?"

"A good amount," he said. "It's been separated and put up. I'll show you where it is tomorrow, but I don't want them having more than a couple of pieces every so often. Especially Lex; with the werewolf genes, she doesn't need the extra sugar."

Lydia took her sandwich and sat down at the dining room table, and Derek followed, occasionally dunking the tea bag that was in the hot water. Lydia took a bite of her sandwich and then watched Derek carefully.

"So, I've been thinking about talking to Stiles about Lex," she said conversationally. When Derek gave her a quizzical look, she figured she ought to elaborate. "Stiles grew up with ADHD. And I know that's very different from the werewolf genes that Lex has, but he found out a way to kind of get rid of some of that extra energy he had, and I thought he might be able to help Lex out a little. She's got so much energy and I was wondering if maybe she could run some of it off."

"Lex has always been involved in sports for that very reason," Derek answered, taking a drink of his tea. "Ever since she was little. She's always been in a sport or two, and it was always sports because of the tomboy in her. She never wanted to do ballet or gymnastics, not like Tal did, so she's always been involved in things like basketball and baseball. But if you can get Stiles over here and maybe play some sports with her, that'd be great. It'd help her out a lot."

"I don't play sports," Lydia said, after a moment. "I've never been interested in it. But I know that Stiles and Malia would help out. Scott and Allison, too."

"Cora as well," Derek said. "But you'd probably be stuck babysitting."

"I wouldn't call it being stuck, Mr. Hale," Lydia answered. "I don't mind, honest."

"You're really a godsend, you know that, Lydia?" Derek said fondly. "I'm glad we have someone as great as you as our nanny."

Lydia smiled, finishing her sandwich. "Thanks, Mr. Hale," she said, after she finished chewing. It was now almost two-thirty, but Lydia had to ask, "Are you working tomorrow?"

Derek shook his head, "Nope. I always take the weekend of Halloween off; I don't even go in for overtime. Although I hear that you're doing some kind of movie marathon with the girls tomorrow?"

Lydia nodded, "Yeah, I promised. I told the girls they could each pick a movie. Something that is approved by you, of course."

Derek nodded.

Lydia let out a yawn and then looked at Derek, "Well, Mr. Hale, I'm going to head to bed. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yeah. Goodnight, Lydia."

-x-

Lydia slept in the next morning; she didn't roll out of bed until almost ten o'clock. Compared to the fact that she got up at five-thirty on weekdays, she welcomed the sleep.

The thing that ended up waking her up was Tal knocking on her door. She heard her say, "Lydia? Daddy says you should probably wake up now."

Lydia was a pretty light sleeper; it all started after she had gotten stabbed. So much had changed when that happened, but Lydia learned to kind of depend on her senses a little bit more. And with that, small noises woke her up. It had been torture when she was living in the city limits in New York City. Lydia was just thankful that Derek lived out near the preserve.

When Lydia opened her bedroom door, she saw Tal standing out there. She smiled at her.

"Hi, Lydia," Tal said, still smiling. "You slept a long time."

"Not really, sweetie," Lydia said, rubbing her eyes. She let out a yawn and then said, "I didn't get to bed until almost three o'clock."

"This morning?" Tal asked, almost incredulously. Her eyes were wide, "That's really late, Lydia."

She nodded, "I know. Did your dad make breakfast this morning?"

Tal nodded, "Yep. He made waffles."

"Sounds good," she said. "Did you guys save me any?"

Tal nodded again, "Yep. I asked Daddy to. They're in the microwave."

"Well, thank you for that, sweetheart," Lydia said, smiling at her. She went out of her room, closing the door behind her, and followed Tal out into the kitchen. She got her breakfast ready and sat down at the dining room table to eat, and Tal and Lex sat down with her, each on either side of her.

"When are we starting the movies?" Lex asked her. Lydia took a bite, and after swallowing, she looked at her.

"Give me some time to wake up," she said to her. "I need to get in the shower, and I need a cup of coffee."

The girls nodded.

After finishing her breakfast, Lydia gathered up her clothes and went into the bathroom to take a shower. She washed herself quickly, and after finishing, she dried off and dressed. She towel dried her hair, deciding not to blow it dry, and went into the kitchen to pour herself a cup of coffee. Derek had to have his coffee every day, and he ended up making more than one pot, especially when he was home on the weekends. She added her cream and sugar, which she knew that Derek kept around just for her, because he drank his coffee the most boring way ever - black. And while Lydia didn't have to have all the sugar that Stiles poured in his coffee, she didn't like the overwhelming bitterness that there was in a black coffee.

After she fixed her coffee, she went into the living room, where the girls were on either side of the couch, and she looked at them.

"So, girls," she said, taking a sip of her coffee, "did you pick your movies?"

"How many, Lydia?" Lex asked.

"Let's start with one. One for each of you."

"I wanna go first," Tal said, and she got up and plucked a movie off of the movie shelf. She handed it to Lydia.

"That's alright with you, right, Lex?" Lydia asked. "That your sister goes first?"

Lex nodded.

When Lydia looked at the movie that Tal handed her, she saw it was Frozen. She actually really liked that movie; she remembered when it first came out and how she had taken the kids in the Williams pack to see it.

"Do you girls wanna make popcorn?" Lydia asked. After the movie marathon had been announced, Lydia had gone to the store and picked up a few goodies; it was mainly soda and popcorn, but she knew that Derek would let the girls have at least a little of it.

When they nodded in unison, Lydia went out into the kitchen to pop some. She was only out there a few moments before she heard the girls greet their father. When he came into the kitchen, Lydia turned to greet him.

"Good morning, Mr. Hale," Lydia said. 'What are you up to today?"

"Actually, Laura wants to see me. She says it's important. Is it okay with you if I take off for a while?"

"You don't have to ask me," Lydia said. "My job is to take care of your girls."

"I know that, but since the weekends are supposed to be yours, I thought I'd double check anyway. It's probably nothing; usually whenever Laura says she has something important to see me about, she usually just wants to talk about old times or asks me to move something. I probably won't be there long, but I've got my phone just in case you need me."

"Don't worry about it, Mr. Hale," Lydia answered. She put the popped popcorn in a big bowl and then smiled at him. "Everything's fine; I've got it all under control."

"Thanks, Lydia," he said. "You really are a godsend."

The girls bid their father goodbye and then Lydia went in there with glasses of soda and a bowl of popcorn. She put the movie in the player and then sat down in-between the two girls on the couch.

Lydia'd always enjoyed Disney movies, especially the musical ones. They were what she had grown up with, and there was just a bit of nostalgia that would always be with her because of it. She particularly enjoyed The Little Mermaid, and that was just because it was a book first and she and her grandmother used to sit and read it. There was even a time that she would only answer to the name Ariel, and while that had infuriated her parents to no end, her grandmother thought it was the cutest thing ever.

They sat and watched the movie, and while they did so, Lydia took her time to watch the girls' expressions. Lex looked a little annoyed to be watching this, but Lydia saw that she really did enjoy it, just not as much as her sister. And Tal - well, she just seemed to love everything about it.

When it was over, Lydia turned to Lex, "What's your choice, sweetheart?"

Lex got up and picked Inside Out out of the cabinet. That actually took Lydia a little by surprise; she had figured that Inside Out would be a little too emotional for her, but she seemed really excited about it.

By the time the movie was over, Lydia felt like she'd been sitting on the couch for a thousand years. She got up, stretching her muscles, and then looked at the girls.

Checking her watch, she saw it was almost five o'clock, and since Derek wasn't back yet, she figured she should make something for the girls to eat for dinner.

"You girls hungry?" Lydia asked them. Both Tal and Lex nodded vigorously. "What are you hungry for."

"I want a cheeseburger," Lex said, and Tal nodded. "Can you make that?"

"I think I might be able to. Let me go and see what's in the kitchen."

She was rifling through the cupboards, trying to see if they had the fixings for cheeseburgers, and that's when Erica and Cora burst through the back door. Lydia looked a little surprised ot see them, but greeted them with a smile.

"Hey, guys," Lydia said. "I'm just getting ready to start dinner. Do you guys wanna stay?"

"Hi, Lydia," Cora said, and Erica nodded. "What's on the menu?"

"Cheeseburgers and whatever I can find for a side."

"Derek keeps French fries in the freezer. He always has some," Cora said. "They've been a favorite of Lex's ever since she started to eat table food, so he wants them accessible."

"Okay, cool." She started grabbing things for dinner and then looked over at Erica, who seemed a little anxious. "You alright, Erica?" she asked, a little concerned.

"I found out some news today," she said hesitantly. "I wanted to share it with Derek, but if you're cooking dinner, I take it that means he's not here?"

"He's not," Lydia said. She started to thaw the beef for their cheeseburgers and then said, "He said Laura wanted to see him. All he told me was that she said it was urgent."

"That could mean anything, coming from her," Cora said.

"You wanna hear my news, Lydia?" Erica asked, hopping from one foot to the other. She seemed awfully excited, Lydia noted. She nodded.

"I'm gonna have a baby!" she exclaimed. "I just found out today I'm pregnant!" Then she got a thoughtful look on her face before saying, "Should I not have said that? Is that going to make you feel badly?"

Lydia shook her head, "No way. I'm happy for you. Congratulations!" Then she took a breath before saying, "Erica, just because I'm not able to have children of my own, it doesn't mean I don't wanna hear about you guys. Life moves on, people have babies. It's just something that happens."

"Really?" Erica asked. Lydia nodded.

"So how far along are you?" Lydia asked, looking at Erica. "When did you find out?"

"I just found out today. I went to that free clinic downtown just because it's a Sunday and I wanted the answer today. I'm six weeks along. Boyd is gonna be ecstatic."

"That's great," Lydia said. She started to get things started to she could cook their burgers. "Do you want a lot of kids?"

"I dunno," Erica said. She took a seat at the kitchen island counter, followed by Cora, and then said, "I know I want at least two. Maybe more, I'm not sure. I never really thought about it."

"Well, I'm happy for you. And if you need help arranging a baby shower, when the time comes, I'd be happy to help you. I used to be the queen of throwing parties in Beacon hills, and since I was away I didn't do it as often, but I still did it. I could give you a kickass party."

Erica laughed and Cora had a thoughtful look on her face. "You'd do that?"

"Of course I would," Lydia said. "And it's not just because I'm employed by Mr. Hale. It's because I'm good at it, and I like you guys. Especially since I treated you so horribly in high school, but you've been nothing but warm and accepting of me since I started working here."

"You've changed so much since then, Lydia," Cora said. "You're nothing like what you used to be."

"Getting stabbed helped with that," Lydia said honestly. She started to cook the meat for their burgers and glanced back at Erica and Cora. “I was a really terrible person before then. After I got stabbed and literally fought for my life, I knew that I needed to change. I couldn’t be the same bitchy person I’d been my whole life.”

“Well, I’m still sorry you went through that,” Erica said. Cora looked around like she wasn’t sure what to say.

“I’m not,” Lydia said, matter-of-factly. “In fact, if I had to choose whether or not to go through it again, I would. It changed me so much as a person, and I actually like myself better now than I did back then.”

A few moments of silence passed between them before Cora cleared her throat and then said, “So, Derek told me you had a big date with Eric Mahealani last night. How’d it go?”

“It went okay,” Lydia said. “I like him, and he seems to like me, too.”

“Lydia, just a word of warning,” Erica said after a moment of silence, looking like she was debating in her head whether or not to speak her mind, “You need to be really careful around that guy, okay? There’s a lot of stories that go around about him. And we really like you, okay? We don’t want you to get hurt.”

“Thanks, I guess,” Lydia said. She finished cooking the burgers and started slicing tomatoes and onions. She looked back at Erica and Cora, “Can I ask you guys a question?”

“Sure,” Erica said. “What’s up, hon?”

“Well, you guys aren’t the first people to warn me about him. Mr. Hale did, and so did Stiles. Why? Is he a bad person or something?”

Erica and Cora shared a look as Lydia yelled at the girls to come and make their burgers. The girls did, and after they took their dinners to the dining room table, Lydia sat down at the kitchen island counter with Erica and Cora. She sat down beside Cora and then looked at the women expectantly.

“There are just stories that go around about him,” Erica said. “We’ve heard things about how he really hurts girls. How he’s tried to force them into things they didn’t want -”

“Say what you mean, Eri,” Cora said, looking at Lydia. “Rape. He’s tried to rape women.”

“If he did that, then how the hell does he still have a job?” Lydia asked. “That doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“Because no woman will come forward and press charges against him. And Danny doesn’t like to believe that his brother is capable of that, but trust me, Lydia, it isn’t something you want. You need to break it off with him. Seriously, he’s just bad news.”

Lydia sighed and then licked her lips. “I’ll keep that in mind,” she said to them. “Thank you for telling me, though.”