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Peter thinks he’s doing a good job at hiding - at least from Lara Jean - how nervous he is about dinner. When his mother asked him to invite his new girlfriend for dinner he could have easily dismissed it and found a million excuses as to why they couldn’t, at least for long enough so that they could reach the end of their agreement and “break up” without dinner having happened.

Except, well, Peter does not want to break up or part ways, so instead what he does in convince Lara Jean that yes , his mom insists and she has to go because he’s always at her house, and driving her and her sister, and it’s his mom’s right as his mother and, well, Lara Jean had relented and said yes.

She’s nervous, he can tell that from the moment he picks her up in her house. He’s nervous too, more so than her, he’s damn sure about that, but he’s hiding it for her sake.

There’s so much at stake for him which she probably doesn’t even realize. Because to her this is just another thing they have to do to keep this charade.

To him, it’s his mom and little brother meeting the girl he’s falling in love with. The girl that’s twisting his life around because he’s pining for her while everyone thinks they’re dating. Because he wants something that, technically, he already has.

He tells his mom everything he can about Lara Jean beforehand, what she’s like, what he likes about her, everything. He rambles on for days before the fateful night and he can see the look on his mom’s face as he talks about Lara Jean. It’s almost enough to make him blush.

He knows it. He doesn’t need his mom to say it.

He also wants Lara Jean to like his family, obviously, but he’s not too worried about it because Lara Jean is just good . He doesn’t think she’d be able to dislike anyone - even Gen, who makes her life a lot more difficult, Peter doesn’t think Lara Jean could hate her. She’s all light and warmth, and Peter is so drawn to it.

During dinner his mom brings up the one thing he repeated several times because it’s not an easy subject and he can feel his heart thumping inside his chest. Lara Jean reacts perfectly, all smiles and jokes, but he still worries through the rest of dinner, even as she eases up around them and gets more and more comfortable.

She gives him side glances from time to time, that cute little nose scrunch, as if she’s looking for his approval of her behavior, and it blows his mind that she can’t see how happy he is that she’s there, how worried he is that they might do something wrong, not her.

He’s often hit with a sudden disbelief at how lucky he is that she’s in his life - and how unlucky he is that it’s still not how he wants it.

After dinner his mom ushers Owen away as they clean the table, giving him a look of approval and nodding that he should have some alone time with his girlfriend.

If only she really was.

He apologizes for his mom but she says it’s fine and by her expression it really is, which blows him away, because he hates when people bring up his dad.

Until she’s the one that does it, asking if he misses him, and then he finds it easy to talk about it. She makes everything easy. Even this.

Maybe that’s what he likes about her so much. How nothing is too much for them. How they can talk about tough things and still be okay.

"It's actually really nice having someone to talk to about this stuff.” She says easily and he agrees. It is nice. “You're a good listener."

That’s not something he ever thought he was but it warms him up, because he loves having her listening so intently to him, and if he can provide that same feeling for her - that’s a huge win.

"Yeah?"

"Uhum."

"Why, thank you.” And because he hopes she feels the same way as him, he adds. “You are, too."

"Thanks."

"You're welcome."

They stay silent and stare at each other for a while, eyes completely entranced, and the concoction of their talk and dinner and also every interaction they’ve had before is culminating in a desperate need to do something . Peter’s urge to settle between her legs and kiss her senseless is almost too strong to control, it feels like the cherry on top of this great evening that they just had, where things are finally gonna connect and make sense.

Sometimes he wonders how he’s never noticed Lara Jean before, given that in such a short period of time she’s already left such a huge mark on him. What would have happened if he had? Would they still be here, fake dating? Would they be friends?

Or would he have jumped the fence and asked her to be with him for real, like he wants to?

He should do something, anything, but before he can even think about it she’s breaking eye contact and clearing her throat. When she moves to jump down the counter, though, he covers her hand with his, making her stop and look at him again.

What is he waiting for anyway? She’s right there . Where he wants her to be, how he wants her to be. Why would he let her go and continue to pretend that this isn’t turning into something else? What’s stopping him from taking the leap?

“Lara Jean,” he says softly, taking a step closer until he’s near her left knee, his hand still on top of hers. He doesn’t have a plan, he’s winging it and maybe it’s a bad idea because this is Lara Jean Song-Covey, the girl who wrote him a goddamn love letter and she deserves flowers and chocolates and a proper declaration, but suddenly he can’t wait, he can’t stand in his kitchen after she’s been so amazing with his mom and brother, after they talked about their departed parents, after feeling his heart so warm because of her, and do nothing. He can’t feel the way he’s feeling and let her go. He has to try. He at least needs to let her know.

“Peter?” she asks in a whisper, eyes searching his face for what’s going on.

“I need to tell you something.” He’s trying his hardest to keep his eyes away from her lips. As much as he wants to kiss her, he doesn’t want that to be the impression that she gets. It’s not about being physical. She needs to know that.

She nods. “Okay.”

“Promise me that you’ll listen and talk about it instead of deflecting or running away?”

She furrows her eyebrows in confusion, but agrees nonetheless. “Uhm, yeah, ok.”

With his free hand he touches her cheek then, taking yet another small step closer to her. She gasps and locks her gaze on his, but doesn’t say anything.

“Do you remember after Greg’s party at the diner when you said we were just pretending?” She nods slightly. “I was upset.”

She swallows. “I know. I noticed.”

“Do you know why?”

She shakes her head, her beautiful loose hair dancing on her shoulders. “Not really.”

He knits his eyebrows. That’s not exactly a no and her expression betrays her words.

“Are you sure?”

She bites her lips and casts her eyes down, nodding her head. "I- I should go home."

"No, Lara Jean, wait. Please. You know why.”

She meets his eyes again and he sees it now, plain as day. What she told him on that same day. She's scared. Terrified. "Peter..."

He shakes his head and she stops talking, so he gets even closer. With the hand that's still on her cheek he caresses her skin and he can see her eyes scan over his entire face, like she's looking for something.

He knows it's right there . He hopes she finds it.

"I'm gonna kiss you now," he says in a low voice and she inhales sharply, eyes immediately finding his again, bulged out. "And I want you to know that it won't be fake. That this is the first time a guy will kiss you because he wants to so badly he simply can't wait anymore. Because he likes you so much that not kissing you every day you've hung out together in the past few weeks has been torture. Because you're the only girl he thinks about kissing." She covers the hand he has on her face with her own and he takes that as a good sign. "So, can I?"

She nods the slightest bit but it's enough for him to see, her eyes travelling to his lips and licking her own in anticipation. The sight sends a thrill down his spine and he moans before he even covers her mouth with his.

It's tentative, even from him. He knows how big of a deal this is, because her giving him consent to kiss her means that there's a whole unhad conversation that they agreed upon - she's opening up, she's letting him into her life, for real . He wants to do this right, he doesn't want to scare her or do anything that could jeopardize this.

Not when finally, after weeks of tossing and turning, he's finally doing something about it. He let go of his thoughts and plots and let impulse take him where he needed to go. An impulse to do what he should have done ages ago.

She's the one that deepens the kiss, eventually, taking her hand from on top of his and moving it to his neck, pulling him closer. He does so eagerly, sighs into her lips as he tries to wrap his mind around the fact that this is really happening.

He's kissing her, really kissing her, tongue and all - and she's letting him, she's kissing back, she's making little sounds of pleasure - and it's absolutely amazing. He never wants to stop kissing her.

When they part, they're both out of breath, and her eyes are lightly closed, eyelids fluttering. It's a sight to be seen with her swollen lips and flushed cheeks. Peter can feel the grin taking over his face before he can even think about it.

He pecks her lips quickly, just to see if she'll open her eyes, and she does. They're earnest and big and he can see how she glances to his smile and back to his eyes several times, as if she's still trying to wrap her mind around it.

"How was that?" he murmurs, their faces so close that he can feel her breath on his skin.

She gulps and nods quickly. "That was… that was everything I hoped a first real kiss would be."

He grins even wider, can feel his cheeks pinching at it, and she smiles shyly as well at that.

"So, do you know why?" he repeats the question from before. He wants to tell her how he feels, to use his words, he knows she'd want to hear it and she deserves that. But he wants her to say it first, to acknowledge that what he's been feeling between themselves lately has been real, that she's felt it too, even if she's been in denial.

She bites her bottom lip again and now that he's gotten to properly kiss it he's mesmerized by the action. "Maybe."

He chuckles in amused exasperation and she giggles softly, so he joins her.

"Come on, Covey," he presses. They're practically glued together.

She knows why. He just wants her to say it.

"What if I'm wrong?" There's still vulnerability in her voice and he gets it, he really does, but he's not giving up.

He shakes his head emphatically. "You're not. I guarantee you."

She tilts her head to the side as she studies him and then takes a deep breath. "Because you didn't want this to be pretend."

He nods. "Yeah. Why?"

She groans. "Peter!"

"Tell me." He simply can't stop smiling. "You know why."

She mimics words with her mouth for several seconds before licking her lips and conceding. "Because you like me?"

"I want an affirmation, not a question."

"Peter, you are making this really difficult on me, you know that?"

He nods with a small smile and he can see she eases up at the sight. "I know. But I want you to be sure. I want you to say it like you believe it."

"And if I don't? Believe it?"

He shakes his head. "Then you're denser than I thought." She laughs and he moves his hand to her hip, squeezing it. "But I'll work on it. We'll work on it. But I still want you to say it."

She bites the inside of her cheek and he can the smile she's trying to tone down. "Fine. Because you... because you like me."

He nods and smiles, finally stepping between her legs and hugging her completely. "I do. And you like me."

"I do."

He bumps their noses together and worries that the smile on his face might be permanently there as he simply can't help it. “I’m sorry it took so long to actually tell you.”

She shakes her head slightly but she’s still a bit guarded. “It’s okay… but… how? And why now?”

He chuckles. “ How ? What do you mean how?”

“This was not the plan.”

He shrugs. “I know. But it wasn’t the plan for you either, was it?”

She shakes her head but still doesn’t let it go. “But I’m me .”

His eyebrows shoot up at her tone. “Yeah, you’re you. Exactly who I want.”

She finally looks at him again, all hope and disbelief. “What about Gen?”

“What about her, Covey? She’s in the past. Let’s leave her there.”

“What if-”

“Lara Jean." He's growing more and more exasperated because how can she really not know how crazy he is about her. "If you don’t want this, I’m not gonna force you, you just need to tell me. But if you’re worried about how I feel - don’t. Don’t use that to run away. I’m falling in love with you. I don’t care about Gen anymore, or anyone else for that matter. Be with me. Just give me a chance.”

She gulps and he can feel her heart beating fast when he moves his thumb to caress her pulse. She nods and barely whispers, “Okay.”

It takes him a few seconds to properly process it. “Okay?”

She nods again while biting down a smile, but her eyes are unmistakably happy. “Okay. But I want you to say it.”

“Say what?”

“Everything.”

He doesn’t know what she wants to hear so he just pours everything that’s been choking him for weeks.

“At that party, at Greg’s, I had such a great time with you. I had one bad moment the whole night and it was exactly the five minutes Gen talked to me. I felt so much freer when we got alone afterwards. It felt so nice and so easy. I wanted you to like me. I think I liked you already. I think I maybe already liked you when I asked you to be my fake girlfriend.”

She scoffs, “That’s not-”

“I don’t think I knew it, but on some level, I did.” He doesn’t let her finish. “I love spending time with you. I love your house, and your dad, and your sister. I love seeing you in the school hallways. I love driving you to places. And after tonight, after how well you fit in, how nice you were, I just couldn’t wait anymore. That’s why now . Because I’ve wanted it for a long time and suddenly I just realized how stupid and pointless it was to wait.”

He’s got more to say, he could go on and on about every little thing that he likes about her and about being with her, but she surprises him by pulling him down and pressing their lips together.

He wastes no time in bringing their bodies closer, pulling her waist against his as his hand finds her hair - loose, soft, coconut-scented. He loves how it feels against his fingers as he grasps at the back of her neck to tilt her head just the right way, so he can give her everything he needs, kiss her with as much intent as he feels.

She kisses him with want , something he's altogether unprepared for, and it leaves him breathless from the beginning. She's making tiny sounds at the back of her throat, like whimpers and pleas against his lips, and he can feel the groans reverberating on his own throat as he realizes that he can kiss her now, can show her how he feels, and she'll let him.

He wants to kiss her all night long, but he has one more thing that he needs to say, that she needs to hear, so he breaks apart just long enough to do so.

"Covey?" He touches his forehead to hers and observes her closed eyes. She murmurs a soft 'hm?' in reply. "Will you be my girlfriend?"

She opens her eyes as her mouth twists into the cutest little side smile and it's all he can do not to grab her by the waist and spin her around in the tiny space in his kitchen.

"Your real girlfriend?"

He barely manages not to roll his eyes. "Yes. My real girlfriend."

She nods and brings their lips together again, murmuring "yes" against his mouth.

He smiles against her lips and she does the same and they almost break the kiss to giggle to each other but he just pulls her closer because no way . She's staying right there.

"I have to head home," she eventually whispers in between kisses but he just nods and continues giving her soft closed mouth kisses and pulling her lip from time to time. She doesn't protest or try to stop him.

"Yeah," he replies after some time, their lips still glued together. "I should drive you back."

She's the one nodding now but all the same they don't part, and her hands have at some point found their way to the back of his neck where she's caressing softly and therefore erasing any coherent thought from his mind.

But it doesn't take long for the both of them to hear a loud "ew!" and break part, Peter jumping back a couple steps.

Looking to his side Peter sees his brother eyeing them and then he yells, "Mom, they're kissing in the kitchen."

Lara Jean's cheeks redden considerably and Peter chuckles as he runs his hands through his hair. He can hear his mother laughing from the living room.

"Owen, leave them alone. Although it might be time for you to take Lara Jean home, huh honey?"

"Yes, mom." He yells back and looks back at Lara Jean to see if she still looks happy. She does. "Come on, Covey. Now that this is official I can't risk you getting grounded. I need my Lara Jean time."

She giggles and together they gather her things and leave after she says her goodbyes to his mom who fusses over them and how happy Peter is with her, telling her to come back any time.

During the ride back he looks back at her so many times she tells him he's gonna crash the car, so she touches his wrist and caresses his pulse point until he stops in front of her house.

He reaches for her across the console and kisses her softly, and she blinks her eyes open to see his face afterwards.

"This is new," she whispers.

"It is." He nods once. " Good new, though. Right?"

She smiles. "Yeah. Definitely."

He walks her to the door with his arm around her shoulder, slow and small steps to delay parting for as long as possible. She’s leaning into his side, one arm around his waist as the other holds the hand on her shoulder. It’s such a small, delicate detail, but so affectionate and new and so much more than Peter hoped to get out of this day when he drove to pick her up hours earlier.

On her doorstep he holds both of her hands and brings them to his lips to kiss them softly.

"Goodnight, Covey."

She leans forward and gives him one last kiss, her eyes shining underneath her eyelashes.

"Goodnight, Kavinsky.” And then after going in and before closing the door all the way, she whispers through the last inch still open. “See you tomorrow?”

He puts his hand over his heart. “Without a doubt.”