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The Choice Is Yours

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Katsuki Bakugo stood in his father’s study, hands balled into fists and eyes burning holes into the stack of papers sitting on the desk in front of him. He had never felt less control over his life than he did in this very moment, and that terrified him. His crimson gaze lifted and met the calm, albeit sad eyes of the King. He spoke aloud for the first time since he had been informed of the most recent attack on one of the outlying towns that bordered between the neighboring country and his own.

“How is this still happening, I thought the ambassadors were successful in their negotiations for peace? Why is King Shigaraki still sending soldiers into our land? Also, one more thing. Why the fuck does this attack mean I have to find a partner?”

King Masaru sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose as Queen Mitsuki started to shout at their son. “WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE YOU LITTLE SHIT!” Prince Katsuki started to shout a reply but King Masaru silenced them both by standing suddenly, his chair scraping loudly across the floor.

“Katsuki, these attacks have gone on far too long. The last thing this country needs is a war and that’s the only reason we have yet to send any troops to into his land in retaliation. Our attempts at peaceful resolution have been unsuccessful thus far but we will continue to negotiate.” The Prince opened his mouth to interrupt but the King stopped him with a raised hand and Katsuki reluctantly remained silent.

“I know what you want to ask. This country has been on edge since reports of the first attack six months ago circulated and it has only gotten worse as they have continued. While there have yet to be any deaths because of Shigaraki’s men the people still need something positive to focus on instead of living in constant fear. That’s where you and the Selection come into play. Nothing could be more uplifting than Althmeria’s beloved Prince finding the love of his life.”

Katsuki sneered at his father’s statement. He knew what his people thought of him and he didn’t care. While the Palace was closed off to prying eyes, the Royal Family still had to make weekly appearances on the show that updated their subjects on news of their country. Every town had a local news station, but this channel was broadcast to every region.

Since he was five he had made his obligatory appearances, in the beginning he only spoke for the holiday messages and eventually working his way to weekly broadcasts. No matter what he did or said the media always portrayed him as someone who was arrogant, aloof, untouchable. His natural propensity for scowling didn’t help either, something that commentators loved to point out. Some rumors had circulated when he was seventeen that implied he was prone to outbursts and used foul language unbecoming of a Prince, but those claims had no proof to give them substance, so it was not widely spread.

The only reason he had heard of the rumors to begin with was thanks to his personal servant, a young woman named Mina Ashido. She had been with Katsuki since they were both fifteen and the two had formed a friendship over the years. It had been a difficult start to their relationship; Ashido was rather nosy and had trouble holding her tongue which led to heavy criticism from the Prince. Over time Ashido proved herself to be loyal and kind and Katsuki eventually accepted her friendship. He even allowed the girl to call him Bakugo when it was just the two of them and Katsuki called her Pinky to poke fun at her strange curly pink hair.

Despite the public opinion of his personality being less than ideal they still praised the Prince for his appearance. He was the perfect likeness to his mother, natural ash blonde hair that defied gravity and piercing red eyes that were praised as a strong, regal combination. Everything about Katsuki was strong. His muscular physique achieved through years of sword fighting and hand to hand combat along with his personal workout routine. He had a strong chin and an even stronger personality, one that many found too abrasive. Most were too intimidated by his fierce scowl and Katsuki was fine with that, it meant less people he had to deal with.

Speaking of dealing with people. Katsuki practically growled the thought as he crossed his arms and stared down his parents. “I thought you were going to let me decide when I was ready to find a partner. I’m not ready.”

The Queen’s eyes softened as she walked around the ornate wooden desk to gently rest her hand on her son’s shoulder. “Katsuki, are you concerned you will disappoint your country if they find out you have no desire to be with a woman?” A deep flush spread rapidly across the Prince’s face at his mother’s words, prompting her to speak quickly before he could start shouting. “That’s never mattered to your father and I, we’ve known for years. And we would rather see you happy than forced into a relationship for the sake of having a child. Your sister is more than capable of producing an heir when the time comes.”

Katsuki recovered from his mother’s forward statement and brushed her hand off his shoulder, glaring into her eyes and speaking through his teeth. “Yet you have no problem forcing me into a relationship so you can distract the country from your failure to stop these attacks.”

The Queen sighed, moving back to stand beside the King. “Son the Selection is life changing. Your father and I wouldn’t have met if it weren’t for me agreeing to having a Selection of my own. You don’t get many opportunities to meet people when you are trapped in these walls, so this is a chance for you to find love. We have been wanting to propose this since you turned twenty-one and still hadn’t found a partner. You’re almost twenty-three Katsuki. You will be taking the throne just a few years and we insist that you have someone by your side when you do so. Running a country is incredibly taxing and you need support.”

Katsuki’s scowl deepened. “I’ve been raised to run this kingdom, what use do I have in some peasant who most likely can’t even speak proper English, let alone converse with foreign diplomats. I don’t need help, I will be the best king this country has ever had. I’ll even surpass the first king, Toshinori!”

The silence that filled the room after the Prince’s declaration was wrought with tension. The King and Queen glanced at each other, an unspoken agreement passing between them. King Masaru was the first to break the silence, his arms crossing in front of his chest and his chin held high. “Katsuki you are our son and we love you, but first and foremost you are a future king of Althmeria. You must learn to put your country first and not look down on your subjects. This is no longer an option, this is your reality. You will have a Selection and you will choose a partner, this is not up for negotiation. The announcement will be made tomorrow night on The Guardian so be prepared to make a statement.”

Sensing that the conversation was over and he had lost, Katsuki stiffly inclined his head, jaw clenched shut. He turned and left his father’s study, his gait forceful and determined. He was so lost in his anger that he barely registered the walk back to his room. Slamming open the door, he marched over to his desk and slid his arms across the surface. He stared down at the pile of books, papers, and writing utensils now littering his floor. He sighed, sliding out his chair and sinking down into the plush fabric, his head resting in his hands. He scrubbed at his eyes and groaned in frustration. This can’t be happening. Dammit! His parents had never forced their hand like this before. All through his childhood and well into his teenage years he had gotten his way and was never forced to do things just because he was a Prince.

That all changed when he turned sixteen, his parents started to insist he do things for the good of his country and it was all downhill from there. He didn’t hear the door shut so he jumped and spun in his seat when he felt a small hand on his shoulder. “WHAT THE FU-"

Ashido laughed and pat his shoulder affectionately. “Oh, calm down Blasty it’s just me. No need to go nuclear!” She had a strange way of speaking, using far too much slang at times that Bakugo didn’t always understand. She had grown up in one of the largest cities in Althmeria, Lexonis.

He scoffed “What have I told you about calling me Blasty. It’s fucking annoying.” The pink haired girl giggled and bent to start picking up the latest victims of his outbursts. At least they were still intact this time. “Well it can’t be helped your highness, it’s just so fitting.”

The Prince rolled his eyes at her. “Tch. Your Highness is even worse. Just knock it off already Pinky. I’m fucking exhausted, can you draw a bath?” Katsuki was raised to be polite and well-spoken and he knew how to conduct himself in official matters. But with Ashido he dropped formalities and could be himself. It was draining having to constantly keep his attitude in check and he knew she didn’t mind his crass language or rough mannerisms. She also was on her best behavior outside the confines of the Prince’s room, using Sir and your Highness as though her life depended on it. But in the safety these four walls provided they dropped all pretense and were just Katsuki and Mina, best friends for almost seven years.

“Yeah sure Bakugo. You okay? You haven’t been this upset in a while.” Ashido had finished placing everything back on the desk and turned towards the bathroom adjacent to his room. Katsuki slouched down in his chair, his hands lying on the armrests and he tilted his head back, leaning it on the plush headrest.

“My parents are forcing me to have a Selection.”

He heard her drop something in the bathroom and he winced as he heard the object shatter. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Why? Are you excited? You’re finally going to meet guys your own age! Are they going to let you have only boys in the Selection? Wait, did you say “Forcing?!?””

Bakugo’s face was squished in her slim hands as she stared into his face, searching for something. She had excitedly run over while shouting her questions but now, seeing his expression her face fell into a thoughtful frown. “Bakugo, what do you mean they’re forcing you?”

He frowned and pulled her hands off his face. “I mean exactly what I said. They’re not giving me the option to say no Ashido. The attacks are spreading panic and they want me to distract the country while they fix it. They don’t want to start a war and negotiations aren’t going well. So, they made the decision to have a Selection. I guess the only positive is they know I prefer men, so yeah. I guess they will let me have a male only selection.”

Ashido was silent, arms crossed and gaze on the floor. Suddenly her head snapped up and she had a mischievous grin. “So, what you’re saying is, you need to be entertaining?” Katsuki’s eyebrow raised in confusion. “What? I guess…where the fuck are you going with this Pinky?” She grinned triumphantly. “I have a great idea!”