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lend yourself to me

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“Oh, darling, thank you so, so much for bringing me to prom! You always know exactly how to make a girl feel like the luckiest in the world!” Camie squeals, high-pitched and swashbuckling, like she’s sneaked out of home in the middle of the night to watch her favorite band perform live for the first time.

She’s wearing a burgundy suit jacket and matching flare skirt with an orange ribbon tied around her neck. Part of her hair’s been plaited into a crown and then again in the back to form a ponytail. She grins with supernatural hubris as she seizes Bakugou’s arm in a side hug.

Fuck! Off!” Bakugou snarls, puncturing each word with a shove, but Camie holds on.

Until she doesn’t, releasing Bakugou abruptly so she can watch him stumble forward a few steps before regaining his balance and reeling around.

“Dumb, delusional bitch! Stop spewing fucking bullshit before I kill you!”

“Aww, babe, don’t be so mean!” Camie teases, skipping to catch up with him and clasping her hands daintily behind her back as she looks up at him with expectant eyes.

“Show me some of the kind, sensitive man I fell in love with.”

Bakugou gapes at her, genuine disbelief clouding his complexion for an instant, then bolts his teeth into a grimace and turns away from her. Fists shoved into his pockets, his strides are broad and loud, like the stomping of an indignant child.

“Forget this. I’m going alone. Don’t fucking follow me.”

“Ah, playing hard to get, are you?” Camie croons, one hand on her cheek and the other on her hip. “Never mind – I love this side of you, too. You can be my bad boy tonight.”

“Annoying bitch,” Bakugou mutters while continuing to glare straight ahead.

“Tactless brat,” Camie retorts, matching his pace without trying to invade his personal space this time. Bakugou remains on high alert.

“If you really want Kirishima to remember tonight for the rest of his life, you’re going to have to start following my example. C’mon – let’s roleplay a little!”

“I’d rather drop dead right this instant,” Bakugou snaps.

“And I’d rather be taking my girlfriend to prom, but here I am, babysitting you instead,” Camie argues with mock suffering. “So, you see, we all have to make sacrifices for the people we love.”

For a second, Bakugou thinks Camie means him and pales, but of course she’s referring to Ashido – this whole mess was her idea, after all.

Not that Ashido and Camie really need this. They’ve already told most of their friends that they’re gay (bi in Camie’s case) and some even know that the two have been dating for the last four months. They don’t have to put up with everyday scrutiny and worry about what people will think when they’re together because their relationship is largely long distance and whenever they do meet up in person it’s rarely on either of their campuses.

This year’s U.A. prom night is an exception and Bakugou would be lying if he said he doesn’t feel a little guilty for distracting them from each other so he and Kirishima can prolong everyone’s assumptions about their heterosexuality, but that doesn’t mean he feels any kind of gratitude or sympathy for what Camie is doing.

Bakugou resents Ashido for sticking her nose into their business, and Camie for going along with the ploy instead of hammering some sense into her girlfriend. Bakugou is fully aware that Camie doesn’t earnestly intend to pretend to be his girlfriend during prom – she’ll be glued to Ashido from the moment they see each other, abandoning Bakugou to some much deserved peace and quiet –, so this is all a rather flimsy attempt at upholding equally flimsy formalities. It feels pointless to Bakugou to do something about it if that something is so colossally shitty.

But Bakugou isn’t ready for everyone at school to know he’s gay – he can’t risk doing anything that could hinder his hero career, after all –, so walking around prom with Kirishima holding onto his arm is not an option. And he knows himself well enough to expect a night spent in close proximity to Kirishima regardless, so having Camie and Ashido around is the only available preventive measure.

Camie’s really pushing Bakugou to reconsider, however. Maybe people thinking he’s dating her will be worse for his reputation than coming out as gay ever could be.

Bakugou made Camie swear she wouldn’t talk about their “relationship” to anyone. Being featured in another tabloid – past ones being fueled by his multiple confrontations with the Villain Alliance and, before that, the dreaded sludge villain incident – is the last thing Bakugou needs right now.

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Camie said when Bakugou informed her of this requirement, shaking her head with a pitying look that positively incensed Bakugou. “No one with even an ounce of sense will believe I’m dating you. People know I have standards.”

At the rate they’re going, tonight will turn out to be an even greater disaster than the last time they decided to go out in public under similar arrangements (the mall; Camie tried to persuade Bakugou to carry her on his shoulders; Ashido ended up carrying her around instead and leaping into a water fountain, among other embarrassing antiques; Bakugou pretended to not know them and just sat smoldering for twenty minutes, holding Kirishima’s hand behind the bench).

Bakugou rolls his eyes. “Says the idiot that got escorted out of a mall by security.”

“Hey! I was trying to get into trouble! So, actually, I need no supervision whatsoever to accomplish what I set out to do.”

And yet she’d be lost without an audience. She’s a natural born drama queen.

“In fact, I’ve been thinking about working some of my magic for you tonight,” Camie says. “Just following the usual prom protocol would be pretty boring.”

Bakugou is understandably alarmed.

“Like, what if we pretended to get into a huuuge fight, and we’re just yelling at each other in the middle of the dancefloor, ‘til I threaten to break up with you, and you yell back that you don’t even really love me, you’re in love with someone else, and that’s when Kirishima jumps in and –”

She pauses, clears her throat, bounces her eyebrows at Bakugou.

“Well, it’d make for a memorable coming out. No one would be able to judge you for being gay after seeing how in love you two are. You might even make the front page of some hero newsletter!”

Bakugou grinds his knuckles into his temple, which actually makes his headache worse, but he’s too irritated to remember to rub gently instead.

“You pull a fucking stunt like that, and I will kill you,” he growls.

Camie shrugs, impervious to Bakugou’s seething animosity.

“Suit yourself. But I’m telling you, being bro-zoned on live television all the time is not a good look for you and Kirishima. You’re going to look back on this someday with a lot of embarrassment.”

Bakugou sure fucking hopes she’s wrong.

“Hellooo, beautiful!” Camie calls, waving excitedly as she rushes up to Ashido.

Placing both hands on Ashido’s shoulders, Camie leans forward to plant a kiss on each cheek. Ashido reciprocates the gesture with a generous smile, then wraps her arms around Camie’s neck and touches their foreheads together while giggling.

“Hey yourself.”

Ashido’s in full magenta tuxedo with an amethyst dress shirt and fuchsia tie. She’s dabbed her eyelids with a galaxy eyeshadow that sparkles when she blinks. Neither of them bothers to wipe off the lipstick smears that they leave on each other’s cheeks.

Bakugou decides to interrupt before Camie and Ashido become too palsy-walsy in broad view of the entire room.

“Where’s Kirishima?”

Ashido untangles herself from Camie to face Bakugou, but Camie keeps Ashido in a tight side hug that includes an arm conspicuously around her waist. That’s galpal privilege if Bakugou’s ever seen it. He could never get away with holding Kirishima like that in public.

“I left him with Kaminari,” Ashido answers.

Like dropping off a child at daycare.

“Tell him I’m here,” Bakugou says with a hint of a growl.

Bakugou’s been in this room for under five minutes and he’s already unbearably irritated. Surrounded by mostly people he hates, with shitty music stabbing into his eardrums and fluorescent lights flashing even when he closes his eyes, he can bitterly confirm that he loathes this prom bullshit.

But he came for Kirishima. Kirishima said it’d be fun, said how happy he was to finally have someone – Bakugou – to bring to an event like this. Bakugou still doesn’t believe the “fun” part, but he believes in making Kirishima happy.

Everyone makes small sacrifices for the people they love.

The very idea of engaging, or even being in the presence of, Kaminari right now, however, is setting off micro explosions in Bakugou’s fists. This is where he draws the line.

Ashido frowns, but fortunately no argument follows because Kirishima spots Bakugou and immediately ambles over to him, deserting Kaminari mid-sentence with a quiet “be right back, man” that he obviously doesn’t intend to do good on.

Kaminari will never know the secret of how Kirishima got Ashido to agree to come to prom with him.

“Bakugou!” Kirishima says, smiling at Bakugou and then at Ashido, as if he’s not sure who he should be sharing more eye contact with.

Bakugou scoffs internally. There might as well be a lunch table between them, each “couple” on opposite sides, and a waitress looking expectantly at Kirishima while asking, “and for your girl, what’ll it be?”

Bakugou chews up the thought and spits it out. Feeling jealous in this situation is just stupid.

Kirishima greets Camie, who responds with a friendly wave, and returns his attention to Bakugou. Bakugou’s almost nervous to receive it. Being in public strains his already difficult relationship with experiencing and expressing affection.

Kirishima looks like he wants desperately to speak but can’t decide on something good enough. Bakugou wonders what the hell they’re doing here, actually. What the hell they’re supposed to do when they’re both pretending to not be romantically involved.

It occurs to Bakugou that being in the closet at prom is just a recipe for depression.

Kirishima must already be aware of that possibility. He’s the one that spent Middle School wishing he could attend an event like prom without excusing himself ten minutes in to cry in the bathroom. Bakugou’s never been interested.

Nor did Bakugou know he was gay until he got involved with Kirishima.

Bakugou doesn’t really wonder about how his life might have been different if he’d known sooner, if people around him had known – people like his parents. That’s a privilege Kirishima will never know.

“You’re wearing the suit I got you,” Kirishima says, quiet and with awe, a brand of awe Bakugou wishes Kirishima would get over because it makes him feel like small gestures are huge gestures and what takes him a minimal amount of effort is being valued as an exceptional favor.

Coming to prom is a favor. Wearing the rose-printed suit Kirishima got him months ago is not.

But telling Kirishima this or expecting him to “get over” how happy the little things Bakugou does for him make him would be cruel, so Bakugou accepts the discomfort for now.

“Don’t own another one,” Bakugou mutters in response, though he really doesn’t give a damn about the dress code at prom – he’s wearing this for Kirishima.

Kirishima better realize that.

Bakugou holds his breath through another bout of awkward silence.

“This is so sad,” Camie says, wiping an imaginary tear from her eye. “Men suck at communicating.”

Ashido tries, unconvincingly, to cover her snicker with a cough. Kirishima blushes.

Bakugou flips Camie off.

Camie’s shoulders shake with laughter, then she ruffles Ashido’s hair and proclaims, “c’mon, princess, let’s model for these amateurs!”

What follows is so masterfully coordinated that Bakugou refuses to believe it wasn’t rehearsed beforehand – though, it is also possible that Camie and Ashido are just that perfectly in sync on a regular basis. They seem to always know exactly what’s on the other’s mind.

Ashido courtesies, presents her palm upright, and says, in a sickeningly sweet tonality, “may I have the honor of this dance, m’lady?”

Camie fans her face, pretends to be out of breath, then accepts Ashido’s hand.

“Oh, you simply must!”

There’s some slow slash ball dancing, Ashido spinning Camie around, lifting her into the air, Camie carrying Ashido’s hands through the air like she’s trying to crash a fucking airplane, and many long, intimate stares that more or less broadcast to everyone present – because at this point everyone present is interested in what these two clowns are doing – their profound, romantic yearning for each other.

Then they disintegrate into breakdancing.

Bakugou quietly decides that this has been a lesson in what to never do – at prom or elsewhere.

“Don’t be shy, boys!” Ashido shouts in the general direction of Bakugou and Kirishima, flashing them a double thumbs up and a sweat-streaked grin. “We’ll be watching from over here! Impress us!”

She bats her eyelashes, as if that farce is worth continuing at this point.

Bakugou’s about to retort with something nasty, but stops when he realizes people are watching him now. People are watching him and Kirishima.

Those clowns set Bakugou up.

Horrified, Bakugou turns to look at Kirishima. And Kirishima’s smiling.

“D… do you want to,” Kirishima says, jutting out his hand awkwardly but earnestly, like he’s trying to shake hands with a stranger he’s been looking forward to meeting and wants desperately to make a good impression on. “Try dancing…?”

Bakugou’s eyes widen as if adjusting to a bright burst of fireworks and his soul vacates his body for long enough to mutter a quick “what the hell” before snatching up Kirishima’s hand.

Then Bakugou’s pulling – pulling Kirishima onto an imaginary stage, into their fairytale spotlight. 

‘Til he stops, has no fucking idea what goes next, if anything.

That’s all the encouragement Kirishima needs to take over.

Turns out it’s not difficult unless they want to think of it as difficult, and both of them are trying desperately to avoid that right now. So they settle into thinking it’s easy, and, surprise, their feet are moving, their arms are moving, their entire fucking bodies are moving and it doesn’t feel ridiculous or disorderly. It feels kind of nice. There’s a rhythm.

“Wooooh! Yeah!” Ashido and Camie cheer, having suspended their dancing to watch. This has been their objective all along and they intend to relish it.

Eventually, Bakugou realizes that, yes, this is pleasant, and, yes, it’s definitely a step forward in their relationship, but it’s not enough. Not for the magnitude of the situation. Bakugou might not understand why prom is important to Kirishima, might have no interest in really understanding or sharing that outlook, but the importance Kirishima has attached to it is important to Bakugou, and he’ll be damned if he doesn’t honor that to the best of his capabilities.

Bakugou is a very, very capable guy. He can always pride himself in that.

Bakugou takes a deep breath, then exhales. Angles his head forward so it’s nearly touching Kirishima’s.

“Nobody’s watching,” Bakugou whispers, quick and breathless.

Kirishima’s eyes widen with alarm, then look down, as if he can hide safely and guiltlessly from Bakugou’s proposition there.

Everybody’s watching,” Kirishima murmurs back.

And he’s right, but Bakugou’s talking about the only two people that should matter in this moment. The only two people that do matter in this moment.

“Yeah, and who the fuck cares?” Bakugou argues, his voice getting louder as his frustration mounts. “I don’t!”

Kirishima seems to shrink in this new atmosphere. He’s grappling with more fears and insecurities than Bakugou can ever imagine, but Bakugou has plenty of experience dealing with this side of Kirishima. Bakugou can talk Kirishima out of his armor.

“I! Don’t! Give! A fuck!” Bakugou shouts, and there’s a question embed this time, a question Kirishima can’t afford to ignore.

Do you? Do you really care so much about what the people in this room will think of you? Of us?

Kirishima looks up and Bakugou sees an answer. Kirishima’s answer.

A corner of Bakugou’s mouth twitches. A smile. A smirk. His lips part.

“Whoops!” Camie yells, slamming her elbow into Bakugou’s back like she’s landing a motherfucking touchdown.

Bakugou and Kirishima have kissed before – and kissed in far better ways –, so this kiss isn’t especially revolutionary – except for the fact that it’s completely and unambiguously outed them to about ninety percent of the people they interact with in everyday life.

Some of them are definitely shocked. Some of them definitely do not care.

It’s a genuine prom cliché. Everything Kirishima’s wanted since he first came out to himself in Middle School.

Camie gives them a moment to bask in this development and gather themselves, then starts hollering again.

“Ah, darling, don’t be so friendly with Kirishima! You’ll make your beloved girlfriend jealous!”

Ashido has the good sense to wrestle Camie into a noogie and then kisses her on the mouth so she can’t continue these theatrics.

Nonetheless, Bakugou turns to lunge at Camie with every intention of decimating her – only to be held back by Kirishima, who catches his boyfriend in a bear hug fortified by his quirk. As he’s lifted into the air, Bakugou kicks his legs and yells a generous catalogue of obscenities, palms performing pyrotechnics.

Kirishima, even as he attempts to defuse Bakugou’s anger, can’t help laughing loudly and with awe – an awe aimed at the relief that this night has brought him. That Bakugou has brought him.

“Mm, honey, I’m afraid this relationship isn’t working out,” Camie singsongs, thrilled to get the last rational word in. “We should see different people.”