The McClanahan pack had settled in Seattle over one hundred years ago. Before the Great Fire, even. They’d originally built this house for the entire pack: three flours plus a finished attic; sixteen bedrooms, including the master; four full bathrooms; two living rooms; dining room, with a long handcrafted dining table; and a huge rustic kitchen. A detached garage had been added to the property in the fifties. Now, only the main family lived there regularly, but there were always a couple of spare bedrooms open for anyone who needed a place to stay.
Vector had lived in the house briefly in his youth, right after his mother had died, while his father was struggling to find his footing. It had been comforting to be surrounded by family. His Aunt Teagan was his alpha first and foremost, but she had also been a little bit like a mother to him growing up, especially once his own father had passed away when he was in his early twenties.
Vector was equal parts nervous and excited to introduce Lachlan to everyone. It had been his dream to do so all those years ago when they’d been in the SPD together. Now, he was less certain what it meant for them, less certain that they were headed towards a future together. But still, he yearned for Lachlan to be accepted by his pack.
And he couldn’t deny that he was a little concerned with how Lachlan would react to them. He talked about how he’d learned about werewolves in the years since Vector had left Seattle, and he’d asked a lot of questions about Vector’s senses, but that wasn’t the same thing as feeling comfortable surrounded by an actual werewolf pack. For a norm like Lachlan, nothing really prepared you for a pack as large as the McClanahans.
“Am I late? Lachlan asked, nose twitching as the front door slammed closed behind them.
Vector shook his head. “No, they only just got the hamburgers on the grill.”
“Well, it smells good.”
He smiled. “As my uncle would say, I hope you brought an appetite.”
“To a werewolf Fourth of July? Of course.”
Vector could hear the nervous hitch in the other man’s breathing and heart rate.
They made their way through the house into the kitchen, where Vector showed him were he could set his brownies down with the other desserts. Outside, Vector hesitated to offer the man a beer but Lachlan beat him to the punch.
“Got anything to drink?”
Vector showed him the coolers full of ice and drinks and let Lachlan pick for himself.
“Thanks. This is normal right, to feel this nervous about a BBQ?”
“I think so.” Vector debated whether he should try holding Lachlan’s hand or if that would seem too forward? Or too childish? He’d never been in a relationship before, and he wasn’t sure that’s what they were in together now—not with his future so uncertain thanks to the FBI—but he knew that he ached to feel Lachlan’s skin.
He was psyching himself up to do it when Lachlan surprised him by asking:
“Is your cousin here? I mean, obviously they are. But I mean, is Patrick here? The other cop.”
“He’s supposed to come, yeah. He’s not here yet thought.”
“Oh. I was kind of hoping I could talk to him too.”
“Not that that’s the only reason I came.”
“Of course not. You wanted to avoid your mother.” Vector tried to make it sound like a joke.
“And to see you,” Lachlan muttered, biting on his bottom lip. “We still haven’t finished our talk from the other day.”
Vector perked up, inching closer to the human with a hopeful feeling fluttering in his stomach. It was a little ridiculous how nervous Lachlan could make him feel—they’d literally saved each other’s life on multiple occasions—but it wasn’t entirely a bad sort of nervous. More a hopeful one.
“Plus, I did promise to come to dinner here. Like years ago. Do you remember that?” Lachlan asked, glancing at him from the corner of his eye. He looked as nervous as Vector felt, and that reassured him.
“I do. I’m glad you came. Really, really glad.”
Lachlan smirked and took a sip from his bottle of—not beer, Vector noticed, just root beer.
“Me too,” the human said and brushed the tips of their fingers together.
Feeling brave, Vector twined their fingers together and held on. He looked up and caught his Aunt’s eyes across the backyard.