Disclaimer: Western Mode belongs to *pnish*!
Pairings: Wanizuka/Avery, implied Cress/Harry if you want it to be there :D
Warnings: BL, mild language
Author’s Note: This pairing is stupidly adorable, I don’t care what anyone else has to say about it. XD;;; Set directly after canon~ I like to think that Wanizuka’s actions do have some repercussions sometimes. XD;
After the series of events leading up to Ronnie becoming the new mayor of his beloved village, Avery feels as if he has a right to be pissed at Wanizuka. He knows Wanizuka doesn’t often think before he acts, and he knows it was wrong of them to leave him when, really, it was his distraction that saved them in the first place, but to go and join the enemy in reaction was simply beyond stupid, and there’s nothing the rational side of Avery can do to explain that away. Sure, they had gotten away unscathed, but what if they hadn’t been so lucky? When he had been discovered and dragged away, thrown to the ground at Coleman’s feet and his mercy, what if that had been the end? There were any number of times Harry, Cress, Ronnie, even Avery himself (especially Avery; compared to the others, he’s weak, helpless, he knows) might have lost their lives... couldn’t Wanizuka see that?
He came back to them, true, Avery knows, and because he knows just how Wanizuka is and just how little he thinks past the here and now, he doesn’t hate Wanizuka for it, doesn’t really mean it when he calls Wanizuka a traitor, but that doesn’t mean he can easily bring himself to forgive and forget, either. And it’s hard, when usually, Wanizuka is his favourite companion, Wanizuka is the person with whom he whiles away his free time and engages in conversation. Harry and Cress being, well... Harry and Cress, Avery has always shared a tent with Wanizuka, and when everyone else was working to get ready for a show, it’s always Wanizuka who Avery ends up helping out, setting things up behind the scenes. Honestly, though he’d never admit it to anyone, Avery is really quite fond of Wanizuka, which is why it hurts all the more to know that because he couldn’t be bothered to think it through, Avery might have ended up dead.
And so, on the train the next day (a luxury they’re only able to afford with the help of the ten thousand dollars from Ronnie), and in the next town, and over the course of the next week, Avery is snappish and irritable, brushing Wanizuka off or snipping a brusque retort or just ignoring him altogether without any sort of explanation. Harry and Cress seem to realize that something’s wrong but don’t question him; they’re entrenched in trying to figure out what exactly to do with all the money they’ve somehow come into, and spend most of their time plotting the best course of action for their little show and looking at books and maps in their room. It’s good, Avery thinks, that they’re working so hard to get somewhere with this chance that they’ve somehow been handed, but it leaves him with a lot of free time alone with Wanizuka, which is practically intolerable.
And worse, Avery knows, is that, most likely, Wanizuka doesn’t even understand why he’s upset. As someone whose thoughts come and go with the wind, he must have no way of comprehending the betrayal, the hurt Avery feels. Avery’s behaviour probably comes off as a childish fit to him, and so not only is he probably upset by Avery’s continually cold manner, but there’s no way they’ll ever reach some understanding if Wanizuka doesn’t even see the problem. It’s frustrating to think about, but Avery can’t even think of facing a confrontation with him, and so he continues to be irritable and avoid Wanizuka as much as possible.
This goes on for almost a week until, one evening, while Harry and Cress are, as usual, so engrossed in whatever they’re doing that Avery hardly sees them at all, Wanizuka finally addresses the issue. It throws Avery off guard mostly because he’s not expecting it at all, but sure enough, as he’s sitting on his bed facing away from Wanizuka and pointedly staring at the Bible that was supplied with the hotel room despite the fact that he’s never been religious and he can’t seem to focus on the words at all, Wanizuka clears his throat awkwardly and then says Avery’s name possibly more hesitantly than Avery’s ever heard him speak before.
He doesn’t want to have to deal with it; the whole issue is emotionally straining, but he doesn’t have much of a choice at this point. Closing the book and setting it aside, he glances over at his shoulder and snaps, “What?” a little more harshly than he meant. Wanizuka visibly recoils, and for the first time, Avery feels a strong, distinct pang of guilt in his gut-- after all, Wanizuka doesn’t even understand why he’s angry, and all Avery’s doing is going and making Wanizuka upset, too. But that doesn’t change how he feels, and even if he’s not behaving responsibly, he can’t bring himself to care. Maybe he’s being childish, but when he’s usually the most mature of the group at sixteen-- he ought to be allowed to act his age every once in a while.
Wanizuka looks hurt for a moment, hanging back like a kicked dog as he seems to decide what the best course of action is. When Avery doesn’t turn away or say anything else however, he takes a breath and moved over towards him, hesitantly place a hand on his shoulder. “...Just wanted to say... sorry for... before.”
Avery is about to swat his hand away when the words register and he freezes mid-motion, staring up at Wanizuka in complete disbelief. His voice, it seems, has suddenly gone missing, because when he opens his mouth to ask what again, nothing comes out, and he can only blink at Wanizuka disbelievingly as the man sits beside him on the bed before continuing.
“I didn’t mean to do anything wrong-- I was pissed, but not--” he pauses for a moment, as if waiting for some reaffirmation, but when Avery remains silent, looking up at him with wide eyes, he goes on, his words growing faster, snowballing. “It’s like, I didn’t have a choice, and I was really pissed, and then everything went to hell, and then--” He drops his head to look at his lap for a moment before continuing in an almost inaudible mumble, “I’d never want you to get hurt.”
Avery’s eyes widen further and his breath catches in his throat, because shit, he’d never expected this in a thousand years, but apparently Wanizuka has been feeling guilty all along, and now he seems like a royal asshole. Not that he really understands the inner workings of Wanizuka’s mind, but Avery’s pretty sure something would have to be really darn important for Wanizuka to feel guilty over it, and this fact makes Avery’s stomach flipflop and his chest grow tight and his face heat up in a way that he can’t quite comprehend. But he knows one thing-- there’s no way he could ever bring himself to be mad anymore, and before he even knows what he’s doing, he’s throwing his arms around Wanizuka’s neck and pulling him into an awkward hug.
Wanizuka seems surprised, but, after a moment, Avery can feel his arms wrapping around his waist, and though they don’t fit together quite right-- Avery’s a little too small or else Wanizuka’s a little too bulky-- it’s comfortable anyway, somehow, in its awkwardness. He doesn’t know what he’s doing; he’d never dreamed of a situation like this before, but he’s overwhelmed even by something as stupid as this, and, after a pause, he lets his head drop onto Wanizuka’s shoulder as he mumbles, laughter on his breath, “Well, then, I guess you’re lucky I made it through.”
Wanizuka laughs, too; Avery can feel it in the embrace as well as hear it, and it’ weird but not wrong. “I’ll protect you for sure next time,” he swears, his arms tightening around Avery so slightly Avery wonders if Wanizuka even recognizes the gesture in himself or if it’s a protective reflex. And though Avery highly doubts that the words will prove true, they warm him nonetheless as he smiles into Wanizuka’s shoulder and hums softly in agreement, “I’ll leave it to you.”