For several days after what he's come to think of as "the incident", Gareth doesn't talk to John. He's not really sure how to bring it up, for one thing, and for another they're both busy; he's scrambling to put together Sex Wales & Anarchy and get his schedule together for the cons in America, as well as the auditions he wants to do over there. He's not stupid; he knows Ianto's not coming back from the death Russell's written for him, and he needs to start seeking out new work while the iron is hot.
It was a one-time thing, anyway, John being comforting and indulging Gareth in a careless moment. It can't mean anything more. Scott's probably back from London by now anyway and Gareth has no desire to find out if John told him about what happened.
When he sees John's name on the caller ID of his mobile a week later, he tells himself he can't avoid it any longer and answers. John sounds as bouncy and upbeat as ever, but he says that they need to talk. Gareth readily agrees. While it would seem smart or at least logical to meet somewhere public, John says, "My place? It'll just be me and the pups tomorrow," and Gareth gives in without further thought.
He wanks in bed, later, thinking about John's mouth on his cock, alternately praying for and hoping against a repeat performance. Laying there in the quiet dark afterward, hand still cupped over himself, he wonders what this all means. He's never been the kind of person who gives a shit about sexuality, that of his or others. But that was before this. Before John.
He brings a torte from his favorite bakery with him the next day, figuring it'll serve for dessert and maybe give them both a distraction. The dogs come rushing out to meet him as soon as he's parked the car; he glances up to see John standing in the door, shoulder propped on the frame, arms folded over his chest. Gareth shakes his head in amusement and gets out of the car, kneeling to dole out scratches and receive eager licks of greeting before heading up the walk to the house.
Not sure what to expect, he's relieved when John simply pulls him into a hug, then says, "Come on, I've got sandwich stuff in the kitchen." Gareth follows him through the house, setting the cake box down on a counter and diving into the food.
While they eat, it's comfortable and casual, and Gareth thinks that it won't be awkward between them. That's good: he doesn't want it to be. They still have filming and appearances ahead; beyond that, Gareth does genuinely like John and doesn't want to lose his friendship. They chat about inconsequential things: the dogs' antics, the latest celebrity gossip, the weather, rugby scores (even if John doesn't know the first thing about it).
When he's done eating, John sits back, wiping his mouth with a napkin. They're sitting side by side at the counter in his kitchen, legs hooked through the rungs of their stools (Gareth hadn't missed the fact that John's wearing shorts, the flash of tanned legs as they walked through the house); John shifts a little, turning to face Gareth, who puts down the last bite of his sandwich and raises an eyebrow. Here it comes, he thinks.
"So I thought, uh," John says, uncharacteristically quiet. "I thought we should talk about -- what happened last week."
Gareth attempts a casual shrug. "We don't have to," he says. "I don't, I don't want things to be weird."
"No, I--" John's rubbing his thumb along the edge of the counter, fidgety. "I wanted to clarify things."
Gareth nods, reaching for his water to take a sip and clear his throat. Just in case.
"Scott and I are. Well, it's. It's been rough lately." John draws a breath and lets it out again, slow and heavy. "That's why he hasn't been around so much. I mean, part of it's work, too, he's really bogged down with this new project and it's taking a lot of his time, but -- that's sort of contributing to it too, y'know?" John looks down at his fingers, still working against the counter's edge, then back up at Gareth, who tries for a sympathetic nod.
"Believe me," he says, with a smile, "I get that."
"Yeah," John says, relieved, and rushes on, "so that's why, that's why things happened last week. I know it wasn't the smartest move on my part, but you were there and--"
"I get it," Gareth says. And really, he does. They were both lonely, vulnerable. "You needed someone, so did I. It's not a big deal."
"You sure? I mean, I kind of took advantage of you--" John looks concerned, and Gareth nods firmly. He rests a hand on John's shoulder and squeezes.
"You didn't," he says firmly. "As long as you're OK, then we're good."
John's throat works briefly, and for a moment Gareth thinks that the look in his eyes is almost exactly like it was before he pulled Gareth's jeans open and went down on him. But John pulls back and Gareth's hand drops to his side again.
"Good," he says, and stands up, busying himself with tidying their plates and getting out the torte.
Gareth's glad to be kept busy after that. Sex, Wales and Anarchy keeps him on his toes for a few hectic days. He flies out to San Diego -- his first trip to California -- and everything's insane and fast-paced and dizzying. He's amazed by the reception they get at the Torchwood panel and he's happy to sit back and let John dominate it all, loud and boisterous, the consummate entertainer. He doesn't miss chances to get digs in at John, though, whenever possible, and occasionally John flashes a grin at him that makes something go hot in his belly.
Then there's auditions and meetings in California, one thing after another until he's grateful for the con in Atlanta to let off steam and hang out. Coming back to Wales after the heady weekend, he's refreshed and ready to plunge into filming. It may be a shorter shoot than the previous seasons, but it's more intense. Euros Lyn's style of direction keeps them all on their toes, pushes them further than they've gone in the past. And it's just exciting to be more involved in the action sequences, to have a larger overall part in the series.
If John's still brooding over their moment of temporary insanity, he says nothing, and Gareth follows his lead. He still catches himself watching John, wanting John; when Jack and Ianto get their one passionate kiss, he has to close off that part of himself that just wants to take everything he can get. Afterward, they joke about it, and Gareth teasingly says he'll be sad that he'll get no more chances to snog John.
A couple of days later, they're made up and put in costume to do a set of promo pictures for the series. They get to play with prop guns and pretend to look fierce: Gareth's favorite part is when he does jumps off a springboard to fly through the air, playing that he's firing at some unknown enemy. After that, he and John are stood together for several close shots of Jack and Ianto.
"Hey now, no groping back there," John jokes as Gareth stands behind him, an arm around John's chest, chin on his shoulder. Gareth forces a laugh. It takes all his control to keep from pulling John against him. When they're told to stand face to face, foreheads resting together, Gareth closes his eyes. The memory of John's powerful kiss beats at the front of his mind; he swallows and hears John make a little noise. Opening his eyes, he sees John's, so close they're nothing more than a blur of blue. Below them quirks a rueful smile.
"Not right now," he murmurs.
Gareth closes his eyes again.
He thinks he might be going crazy. He's gone out on dates since Gemma, but nothing's really felt right. He could get laid a hundred times over if he wanted; he could even find another guy, if that was all it was about. But he knows what he wants. Or, more specifically, who.
Scott shows up on the set the next day and is warmly welcomed; everyone likes him, he has that same charisma that John has, if slightly more contained. When he's around, Gareth avoids both him and John. Sitting in his trailer, he wonders if John told Scott of the infidelity. It's not his business, he supposes. Except it kind of is. Because he knows that look John's eyes bore when they were forehead-to-forehead. Gareth's not alone in feeling this. Not by a long shot.
They're waiting for a shot to get set up, a couple of days later, sitting side by side watching the cameraman fuss with the Steadicam, when Gareth realizes they're alone, essentially: no one around in earshot, no one hovering to daub makeup or ask questions. Gareth doesn't even turn to John, he just keeps his eyes ahead, his voice quiet. "Have you told him?" he asks.
John doesn't respond for long moments, and Gareth's starting to wonder if he should repeat the question when John makes a quiet sound and looks down, hand flicking to his forehead as if he wants to rub it. "No," he replies, equally low-voiced.
"Are you going to?"
"I don't know." There's a note of -- something -- in John's voice, and Gareth glances at him this time. He's still looking down at his knees. His eyes are dark; he's stiller than Gareth's ever seen him. Then he swallows hard and gives Gareth a patently false smile. "I suppose I really should, huh?"
"The thing is," Gareth murmurs. Footsteps come up behind them and then pass; a grip hurrying off on a mission. Gareth gives it a few seconds before he starts over. "The thing is, I. I keep thinking about it. About doing it again."
He hears John suck in a breath. "Go to hell," he whispers.
"It's the truth, John." Gareth swallows. "I've had this thing for you for, for a long time. I know it's stupid. I know -- I know I shouldn't be telling you and I don't expect anything from you, all right?"
"What am I supposed to do with this?" John touches him for the first time -- hand on his forearm -- and Gareth looks up at him. John looks pale, like he's been slapped. "You, you expect me to what, break up with my partner for you? Fuck around with you behind his back?"
"You did it once already," Gareth points out, feeling mean, and John flares red.
"Fuck you," he says. He gets up and walks away, and while Gareth hears him greet someone cheerfully, he knows it's a hastily-donned mask. He drops his face into his hands, not caring that he's messing up makeup. That could have gone so much better.
It works out that most of their remaining scenes together are tense or argumentative anyway. Gareth uses his frustration and anger, channeling it for Ianto's annoyance at Jack's distance. If John notices, he doesn't say anything, and Gareth's guiltily grateful for it. He takes a stab at the usual light joking between scenes, but it falls flat when John just looks away. Gareth has to close his eyes, wondering if this is the end of their friendship after all.
Whether it's due to the tension between them or not, filming Ianto's death scene is fraught with emotion on both their parts. This is the end of Jack and Ianto, one of the most enjoyable relationships he's had the chance to portray onscreen, and the end of his career in Torchwood. It's not hard to summon up the feeling of everything slipping away, Ianto's fear that Jack will forget him, that he meant nothing to Jack in the end. John's performance is just as wrenching; Gareth knows the tears on John's face are real and it makes him ache.
His final scene, for both Children of Earth and Torchwood, is that of pretending to be a corpse while Gwen claims his and Jack's bodies. He's done this before, so it's not difficult keeping his breath held when the camera's on him, once Eve's pulled the sheet from over his face. They take the different angles and then Euros pronounces Gareth's scenes in Children of Earth a wrap. Gareth has to force his grin as he gets up, bowing for the applauding crew, accepting hugs from Eve and anyone else who holds their arms out.
John stands back, apart from the rest, clapping with the others. If he's still angry at Gareth, he's hiding it. Gareth's grateful that his last sight of John on set won't be one of visible enmity, at least.
He's dismissed at last, and goes gratefully from the location, outside into unusually bright sunlight. Making his way through the maze of production vehicles, he's nearly to his trailer when he hears John calling behind him. Though all he wants to do is run, he pauses anyway, half-turning with a raised eyebrow and a veneer of civility. "Yeah?"
"Please, Gaz." John stands a few feet away, hands helpless at his sides. "I don't want things to end like this."
Silent, Gareth stands, hands in his pockets. He's just had all the grey scrubbed from his face and he's feeling vaguely human again, though he's desperate to change out of Ianto's suit for the last time. He needs it off.
"I'm sorry," John says. "I shouldn't have snapped at you."
Gareth swallows hard. "I was being a bastard," he mutters.
John closes the distance between them, pulling Gareth into a hug. He's still wearing most of Jack's outfit, sans the heavy coat, and Gareth lets himself sag against John just for a moment. Allows himself to breathe in the scent of John, overlaid with makeup-smells and something else Gareth doesn't recognize. Without thinking, he turns his head and presses his mouth to John's cheek, in the hollow before his ear.
John tenses. "Sorry," Gareth mutters. He pulls back. John's eyes are soft.
"Listen," he says quietly. "You're fucking amazing. Trust me, I know. You'll find someone else and she'll be lucky to have you." He squeezes Gareth's biceps.
Gareth knows the gentle letdown when he hears it. "Thanks," he says. "I hope so. I never meant for things to be like this."
"It'll be OK," John says. He leans in, but only to brush a gentle kiss on Gareth's forehead. Gareth closes his eyes.