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Within Reason

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He can tell she’s mad at him. When she’s mad, her face settles a little more pinched, a small wrinkle forming between her eyebrows.

She walks right past him, and it feels like he’s been punched in the gut. He at least expected her to sit next to him, or talk to him, or hell, look at him.

“Covey, c’mon.” He says, jumping out of his seat to turn to her.

She’s grabbing Chris by her arm and pulling her up toward him. She still refuses to look at him, but she leads Chris to the opposite aisle and drops down into the seat next to him.

“Hi.” He says. The amount of relief that settles over him is way too much for what this relationship actually is.

“It would be weird if we didn’t sit next to each other. But I have to keep an eye on Chris.” She says. She pulls out a book, and every part of him is yelling to talk to her, but he doesn’t know what to day.

Instead, he grabs his backpack, and pulls out a Yakult. “Want one?”

She finally, finally, turns to him. “Where did you get Yakult?” She says, taking it from him. And he knows it’s not much, but she’s looking at him, and there’s the smallest of smiles on her face.

“I bribed Kitty to show me how to get to the Korean Supermarket.” He says. He’s trying really hard not to be proud of himself.

“That’s all the way across town.”

He nods, and pulls his bag open wider, to show her all of the snacks he bought with help from Kitty, and even a box of her favorite cookies, homemade.

Her smile grows, and this is working even better than he hoped it would.

“What am I going to do with you, Peter Kavinsky?” She asks, reaching for one of the cookies.

He wants to say Whatever you want. Or Make me your real boyfriend.

But he doesn’t. He just shrugs and opens his own Yakult.

She no longer looks mad at him, and he feels like he’s accomplished something more than making her forgive him.

“I’m here with you, Covey. No one else.”


Technically, the contract states they can kiss. Within reason. She originally wanted no kissing at all, but he made the argument if Sanderson saw them again, or if Gen was trying to be too touchy at a party, and Lara Jean agreed. They could kiss within reason.

There had been that one time when he dropped her off at home and Sanderson was looking at them from his car. And the one time at one of the first parties they had gone to together, when Gen had been staring him down all night.

And that one time in the hallway when one of the freshman on the lacrosse team was seeming a little too interested in what Lara Jean’s weekend plans were, and Peter was feeling a little territorial, especially because her plans were to go to an estate sale with him.

Recently, though, he’s been toeing the line.

Like when he loses track of himself and kisses her goodbye before practice once, when no one else is around. Or when they win the big game of the season and she runs out to him on the field and kisses him in front of everyone. Or when she proudly shows him her English test when he comes to her house on a Friday night, and she’s so happy that her energy is a little electric, and he forgets himself and kisses her hard enough that she drops her paper and instead uses her hands to pull him closer.

So, they had pushed the boundary, but every time they did, she pulled it back, reminding him of the contract, and within reason and expirations dates because of stupid overheard conversations.

That’s why she’s mad at him. Because Gen insinuated that she would be single by the ski trip, and Lara Jean overheard, and then the fact that they were still fake slapped him in the face.

Now they are here, hour two of the bus ride, sharing his headphones because she forgot hers on her desk, and she’s humming along to the song he has playing while she’s working through the next chapter in her book.

She’s close to him, because they are sharing headphones, close enough that he can smell her perfume and the coconut shampoo she uses, and god, he wants to kiss her, for real, he wants them to be for real, so much it almost hurts.

Lara Jean takes a sip of her Yakult, and the smallest bit of it gets caught on her lip.

He’s a dead man. She’s going to literally drive him so crazy that he dies.

“LJ.” He says, grabbing her attention. She turns to him, completely unaware of the yogurt. He could just tell her. That would save both of them. But he doesn’t.

He cups her face and brushes his thumb along her lip, catching the yogurt left behind.

And then he fucking licks it off his thumb.

Her eyes go wide, and her cheeks turn pink, and they’ve kissed before, but this feels like the most intimate thing they have done this entire relationship.

“You had some yogurt.” He whispers, barely loud enough to be heard over the noise of the bus.

“Peter.” Her voice is just as quiet as his.

His brain is screaming within reason, within reason, within reason…

Someone laughs. It sounds an awful lot like Gen.

She’s the one who kisses him. Her hands bunch in his sweatshirt as she pulls him closer.

Her lips are soft. She tastes like strawberries and vanilla chap stick. He slides his hand around her waist, wanting to pull her closer, but the stupid arm rest digs into his stomach and he can’t.

“Oh my god, get a room.” Chris says, breaking them apart. She tosses her candy wrapper at them before turning back toward the window.

Lara Jean is breathless.

He wants to kiss her again.

She releases his sweatshirt and smooths her hands over the fabric.

“That,” She says, licking her lips. “Was for going all the way to the Korean super market and attempting to bake my favorite cookies.”

Within reason.

She’s giving him a reason.

“Noted.” He says. She settles back into the seat and returns to her book.

“You should come over during break, and I’ll teach you how to actually bake them.” She says, more to her book than to him.

“Sure.” He says, trying to play it cool. He grabs her and slides their fingers together under he can pull her hand up and brush his lips against her knuckles.

He’s going to tell her. This weekend he is going to tell her that all he’s been thinking about for the past few weeks is how he wants this to be real.

Wants them to be real.

But for now, he rests his head against her shoulder, and holds her hand, and hopes that maybe, just maybe, she wants something real between them too.