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still frames in your mind

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Bianca finds Cameron by his locker and says, without preamble, "Take me to prom."

He turns to look at her, surprised. "What?"

"Please take me prom?" she tries again. "I'd like it if we went together."

Cameron takes a second to process this. "We broke up," he says, very carefully. "Last year, I'm pretty sure. I remember it vividly."

Bianca rolls her eyes. "You're not going with anyone else, are you?" she says, not really a question. He shakes his head anyway. "Neither am I. It just makes sense for us to go together."

"I," Cameron says, obviously still confused. "I guess that makes sense."

Bianca smiles at him, says, "Of course it does," and carries on her way to class.

+

She still does things properly, of course, picks up the dress she fell in love with months ago with Cameron so he'll know what colour corsage to get her, gets her hair and nails done at the salon, even lets her dad take picture after picture of her and Cameron and weep over how much his baby girl has grown without rolling her eyes. Much.

+

Prom itself is kind of... well. It's a rite of passage, it's necessary, it's prom, and Bianca's managed to get through the whole of high school and end up on top and that's a fucking achievement, okay. She'll be damned if she isn't going to celebrate.

But the food is predictably terrible, and someone seems to've let the AV club be in charge of the music, and when Bianca takes a sip of the punch, she realises it's been spiked with very, very cheap vodka.

"Christ," she mutters, putting her cup down with a grimace, "it's like we're in a shitty high school movie."

Cameron laughs. "At least you'd be the star. I'd probably just be the supportive best friend."

Bianca waves a dismissive hand, says, "Everyone always loves them best."

He slants her a look, sharp and sort of knowing, but he doesn't say anything. Bianca sighs, leans back against the table. She tries not to remember the last time they did this, how much happier she was.

"Come on," she says suddenly, grabbing his hand, "we're going to dance."

Cameron looks surprised. "But we aren't-"

"We can still dance, Cameron," Bianca says, rolling her eyes, and positions his hands on her waist. He bites his lip, pointedly avoids her gaze.

"But people will think-"

"I don't care," Bianca says, and Cameron does look at her, now, his eyes wide. "I'm never going to see most of them again. What does it matter what they think?"

You sound like Kat, she thinks, and has to laugh to herself a little. Cameron bites his lip around a grin.

"You look beautiful, you know," Cameron tells her, and Bianca hides a smile in his neck because she does, of course, but it's always nice to be told.

"Thanks for coming with me," she whispers, moving her arms to hug him properly. "I really appreciate it."

Cameron's arms tighten around her waist. "You're welcome," he says, and they keep dancing.

At the end of the night, Chastity is crowned prom queen, and Bianca braces herself for the blinding jealousy and the urge to scream about how unfair it is, but they don't come. She doesn't even have to force herself to smile and clap; she finds, somehow, that she's genuinely happy for Chastity. It's kind of an odd feeling for her.

On stage, Chastity's eyes are darting around, and when they land on Bianca she mouths sorry. Bianca just smiles harder and shakes her head. Chastity smiles back.

+

"Cameron took you to prom?" Kat frowns at her. She's back for Bianca's graduation, sitting at the end of Bianca's bed with her legs folded underneath her. She looks less like Bianca's sister every time she sees her, but Bianca tries not to notice. "I thought you broke up with him."

"We went as friends, jeez," Bianca says, "it wasn't a big deal."

Kat's eyes go comically wide. "Prom, not a big deal? Who are you and what have you done with my sister?"

Bianca rolls her eyes and valiantly doesn't say something snippy about Kat not being the only who's grown up a little. It would only disprove her point, anyway.

"How's college?" she asks instead, and listens while Kat tells her about the classes she's taking this year, the people she's met. It seems totally weird and kind of wonderful all at once that that's going to be Bianca, in a few months.

+

Patrick comes over to take Kat out like they're still in high school, and they might as well be, the way Kat's entire face lights up when she opens the door, the way he says, kind of shyly, "Hey."

Kat drags him in close and kisses him, all teeth and tongue - seriously, Bianca can see it, it's sort of disgusting. They don't stop, even when Bianca clears her throat loudly, even when she hollers, “I'm right here, y'know!”

Eventually, she says, "Dad'll be home in ten minutes," and Kat finally, finally lets Patrick go.

He laughs. "You aren't still answerable to your father, are you?"

"Please, I will always be answerable to my father," Kat says, but she almost sounds more fond than resigned. Patrick takes her hand, squeezes it.

"And since he's not here," Bianca says, smiling sweetly, "I feel it is my good sisterly duty to tell you that there is to be no drinking, no drugs, no kissing, no tattoos, no piercings, no ritual animal-"

"We're going now," Kat says loudly, but Patrick's laughing as she drags him out the door.

+

When they've managed to get all her stuff in the trunk of the car, Bianca's dad bursts into tears. Bianca only manages not to be horribly embarrassed because he did the same thing when Kat left home and she was sort of expecting it.

"Dad," she says, as gently as she can manage, "you're driving me to campus. We haven't even left yet."

"I know," he says, sniffing a little. "It's just. Empty nest syndrome kicking in early, that's all."

Bianca bites her lip and steps forward to hug him. "I know," she says, squeezing her eyes shut so she doesn't start crying herself. She's been waiting for this moment for years, years, but now that it's here... well. "I know."

Her dad lets go of her after what feels like a really long time and forces a smile. "Come on," he says, "we better get going."

Bianca gets in the car, and twists round in her seat to look at the house she grew up in, as her dad starts the engine. She doesn't feel ready to leave, all of a sudden, feels horribly tiny and panicky and young, even though she's grown up so much in the past few years she hardly recognises herself, sometimes.

Then the car starts moving. Bianca inhales deeply. She turns back to face the front, staring determinedly ahead.

She's managed to get this far in life and do pretty well for herself.

She can take anything.