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His first instinct upon sitting inside his car is to punch the wheel -- on the side, as to not trigger the horn and make even a bigger scene than it already is. He does it once, twice, three times until the palm of his hand tingles a little, then stops with a last look to his right. Sanderson is doing his pathetic walk of shame back to his own house, hood still up like the fucking loser he is. The door to the Covey’s house is still definitely closed. As if Lara Jean would come back running at him. She has better standards than that.

Peter sighs heavily, forehead pressed against the top of the wheel, before he turns on the ignition. The car’s radio startles to life on the kind of station his mother loves to listen, those oldies she sings along to when she drives and that Peter pretends not to like. The last notes of a Madonna song die in the silence of his car, before guitar riffs fill the space.

He turns his head at the familiar tune, frowning a little as the voice starts crooning lyrics he doesn’t know. But his mind works for him, filling in the blanks and drawing connections. Lara Jean had been offended at his lack of knowledge when it comes to classic romcom movies, and had made it her mission to catch him up. John Hughes’ filmography had been followed by Heath Ledger singing on the bleachers, Julia Roberts’ red dress, frosting diamonds. And a boombox.

Peter keeps staring at the radio as Peter Gabriel keeps singing about Solsbury Hill, needing twenty good seconds of internal struggle before his mind is made. He grabs his phone in the pocket of his jeans, and type a quick succession of texts to Greg.

yo bro you home?

I need to borrow your speakers asap

no question, just be ready in 5

He throws the phone on the empty seat next to him, and puts his foot down. Thankfully, Greg lives only a few minutes away, but that’s not saying anything really. It’s a small town, despite what his long journey to the Korean store would have you believe. They all live close to each other in one way or another, especially with a car. Especially when the streets are so empty so late at night.

Greg’s front door opens the moment Peter parks in front of the house, Greg himself jogging toward the Jeep with the speakers in his hand. Peter pulls the window down and smiles at him, as forced and stilled as it is.

“Yo bro, the fuck?” is Greg’s greet as he stops in front of the car.

Peter holds his hand out through the window, and grabs the speakers. “I’ll give it back to you at practice tomorrow.”

“Seriously?” he asks, voice climbing up at least two octaves. “You ain’t even gonna give me the deets? Damn, and here I thought we were best friends.”

Peter can only roll his eyes at his friend’s antics, almost-but-not-quite grateful for the temporary distraction. Greg has always been good at keeping his mind off things, especially after Gen dumped him without a care in the world. He deserves more than just a quick text and a drive-thru kind of deal.

“I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow, promise. But I gotta go now.”

It takes about two seconds for understanding to dawn on Greg’s face. “That about Largie? Damn, you fucked up again?”

“Again?!” Peter shakes his head. “Yeah, shut up. Tomorrow, okay?”

“I’ll hold you on to that!”

Peter is vaguely aware of the way his best friend salutes him, two fingers lazily pressed against his temple, as he drives away and back where he came from. At least Dr Covey’s car is nowhere to be seen, in the driveway or otherwise. If worst comes to worst (and really, how much more terrible could it get at this point?), Peter will not humiliate himself in front of a proper adult with a really medicine doctorate. Only in front of three teenage girls.

He sighs, and thinks of going home. But when he closes his eyes, it is the image of Lara Jean, nightgown drenched by the water, red high on her cheeks from kissing him, that comes back to haunt him. This Lara Jean who, for a couple of hours, he could call his real girlfriend. Not faking, no pretenses. Just the two of them and the kind of kiss that will fuel his fantasies for weeks to come.

He can’t go home. He can’t leave while she still believes him to be a jerk, and a cheat. He might be an idiot, and a fucking douchebag at times, but he would never do that. To her, or to anyone else. She needs to understand it. She needs to know the truth. Even if she doesn’t forgive him, or refuses to talk to him, she. She just needs to know.

So he struggles to connect his phone and the speakers through Bluetooth, and then spends two more minutes looking up the movie, then the title of the song, then the song on Spotify. Then five more minutes to find the nerve to finally get out of this fucking car and be a fucking man about it.

The light on her bedroom’s window is lit, but dim. Like she just has the lamp by her bed switched on, probably reading. There is someone else in the other bedroom too, and he can see Kitty through the living room’s window, lounging in front of what appears to be Westworld. He makes a mental note to have a discussion with her about that, before he presses play on the song and puts the volume all the way up.

At first, nothing happens. Not even when he puts his phone in his pocket and holds the speakers above his head. But the song peeks up, and with it the riffs of guitar blasting in the silence of the night. His eyes are glued to Lara Jean’s window, his jaw clenched until it hurts, but still he notices how Kitty moves the curtains to the side so she can look at what is going on. Her little face of delightful surprise. The way she yells her sister’s name.

It’s not twenty seconds later before the light goes brighter in Lara Jean’s bedroom, a shadow play against her heavy curtains. He can guess more than he sees Kitty pulling her sister toward the window, before the two of them start arguing. Lara Jean talking with her hands a lot. Kitty throwing her arms in the air before she gives up and leaves.

Then Lara Jean’s shadow, alone, hesitating. She raises one hand to her face, more likely to bite her thumb - a bad habit he’s seen on her when she’s nervous. She turns toward the window, only to stop. Turns toward the window again. Pauses. Moves closer.

His breath hitches in his throat when she finally opens the curtains, then the window. Still, he swallows back a smile and holds the speakers higher, offering her nothing but a nod when her eyes widen at the sight of him.

She freezes on the spot for long seconds, before a smile curls up her lips as she folds her arms on the window sill and leans forward. She doesn’t say anything and neither does him, their eyes locked on each other, their minds attuned.

He wants to tell her so many things.

Like, yeah, found yourself a romantic man, LJ.

Or even, grand gestures of affection, so just fucking listen for two seconds.

Or perhaps, I love you so much, don’t give up on us yet.

He settles for nothing at all. A true John fucking Cusack moment. That is, until she stands straighter, then disappears from his sight. Peter starts freaking out as the song comes to an end, unable to find what to do next. Should he play it again? Knock? Finally admit defeat?

Thankfully for him, and his sanity, Lara Jean solves that for him when she opens the floor door. He puts the speakers down, unable to do anything less as she walks toward him. She still wears the same clothes from the bus journey, only with fluffy slippers on her feet, and it’s so cute and pretty and hot at the same time he doesn’t know what to do with himself.

She ruined him, definitely. He’s fine with that.

“Do you always have to be so extra?” she asks, without venom. No, there’s even a tiny smile on her lips that she tries to hide by looking down so that her hair falls in front of her face. Peter isn’t fooled, though.

“Well, you wouldn’t listen, so…”

She looks up at him through her lashes, one hand holding her hair back. Peter forgets how to breathe, how to even be a damn human being, for a moment there. Heart stuck in his throat and beating so furiously he might as well throw up.

“Is there anything else to say at this point?”

He takes two steps forward, to move closer to her without invading her personal space. He could reach out of her so easily, pull her in his arms and kiss her until she forgets all the bullshit. She deserves better than that, though. She deserves really explanation, and perhaps even an apology, and so, so much more.

“I fucked up,” is what he starts with. She snorts a giggle. “I got cocky and stupid, and I just wanted to shove it all in Gen’s face, like. She hurt me, and I wanted to hurt her too, and she used that against me.” Lara Jean looks up now, her pretty mouth drawn into a ‘oh’ of surprise at the direction their conversation is going. “I didn’t go to her room to make up with her. I went to her room to tell her it was over, it had been over for a while, and I was so much better off with you than with her.”

She tugs a piece of hair behind her ear, slowly, and it leaves her cheek on display. It’s not really a cold December night, even to Virginia’s standards, so the red on her cheeks is something else. Something more, that has Peter’s heart skip a beat or two.

“You’re an idiot, Peter Kavinsky.”

She says it like an insults, but her voice is smiling even though she’s trying to keep a stern face. Like she wants to be mad at him, but can’t quite manage to get there. It takes nothing more than a big sigh and a “Damn, Covey, I know” to get another fit of giggle out of her. It sounds like heaven to his ears, and he grins at her because he just can’t help himself.

She slaps his chest, soft and painless. “Stop being cute, I’m trying to be upset.”

He’s the one to laugh then, amusement and relief all at once, before he moves closer still. Only a few inches separate them now, and Peter cups her face with both his hands, tilts it up slightly so their eyes meet again. His thumb brushes against her cheek, and it makes her smile as she closes her eyes and leans against the palm of his hand. So much for being upset, not that he can particularly complain about it.

“I’m sorry,” he whispers. “That’s not how our first real day together should have gone.”

She pouts a little, with a tiny shrug, but they both know it’s a big deal. She’s a romantic at heart, and he’s too, if he’s honest with himself. It shouldn’t have gone so wrong, instead of him finally inviting her to the Corner Café, with one milkshake but two straws or something equally corny. She would have loved this shit. Hopefully they can still do it tomorrow.

“I can’t believe you did the boombox thing,” is what she replies instead, now definitely grinning. Peter only grins, bouncing on the ball of his feet before he leans in to kiss her, before she stops him with a faux scornful look. “You can’t recreate iconic scenes every time I’m mad at you.”

“Damn, Covey,” he whispers against her lips. “I already learnt the Dirty Dancing moves and all.”

Her laugh is muffled by his lips, and that might be his favourite sound ever.