She loves her baby brother, really she does, but she doesn’t understand him. She’s not sure she ever really did. Oh sure, when she was five and he was a baby she understood him then, as much as anyone can understand a baby. He was always quiet, serious and not much for crying; boy, had she been unprepared for her own babies who seemed to cry non-stop! When he laughed though, everyone around him laughed too.
But babies grow up, and so do big sisters. They’d had their own friends, their own lives, and as he’d grown older he’d seemed not to need her much. She’d still played with him though, until he’d declared himself too old to play games with his sister. That had stung and in a way, she’d resented him for growing up. He’d been thirteen by then; she’d been eighteen and dating. Not Johnny, not yet. An older man called Gary who’d turned out to be not only a jerk, but married. She’d dumped him when she’d found out, and cried in her room for days. Ianto had tried, awkwardly, to comfort her a couple of times but she’d told him to go away. She wishes now that she hadn’t.
The next couple of years had passed in the blink of an eye. She’d met Johnny, got engaged and just didn’t have time for her brother. She remembers him as a moody teenager at her wedding, scowling at the photographer, and again as a lost-looking eighteen year old at their dad’s funeral. He’d left for London a week later, determined, as he said, to ‘make something of himself’.
There’d been the odd phone call after that, and he’d come back for a visit when David was born. She’d barely recognised him then; he’d grown several inches, was skinny as a rake, unshaven, dressed in tattered jeans and had taken up smoking. She’d yelled at him for lighting up near the baby and the next time she’d looked for him, he’d gone. Off to see friends, Johnny had told her. She only saw him once more before he returned to London. There’d been apologies, an awkward hug and then he’d said a friend had offered him a lift back home and he had to go. She’d been left wondering when London had become ‘home’ to her brother.
The next time she’d seen him was after Mica was born. At first she’d wondered who the strange young man in the suit was. He’d certainly cleaned up well, and there was a pretty dark-skinned woman on his arm. He’d introduced her as Lisa and it had been obvious they were madly in love. She’d been happy for him, but had felt lost, realising she didn’t know her brother anymore. He had his life, she had hers, and hundreds of miles separated them. Talking to him had been like talking to a stranger.
Less than a year later he was back, and living in Cardiff. He’d stopped by to see her, a shadow of his former self. Unshaven, hollow-eyed, he’d told her Lisa was dead, had been badly injured in the terrorist attack on Canary Wharf a few months earlier and had finally died after being taken off life support. She’d done her best to comfort him and for the first time had truly regretted the way they’d drifted apart. When he’d been a little boy she’d known how to soothe his hurts, but now she was at a loss. The woman he’d planned to marry was dead and he clearly felt he had nothing left to live for. She couldn’t even begin to imagine how that felt. Looking at her own family, she’d almost felt guilty for being so lucky and that night, she’d clung to Johnny and cried herself to sleep, grieving for the little boy her brother had once been and the broken man he’d become.
She wanted so badly to find a way to cross the gulf that existed between them, but she had no idea how to even begin. She tried, in a desultory kind of way; kept in touch by phone every month or so, inviting him to dinner, and sometimes he’d accept. But the dinners were awkward; they didn’t have much to say to each other and it just seemed to take too much effort. The only blessing was that he seemed to be recovering a little from the loss of his girlfriend.
So that’s where things stand now. She’s always going to love Ianto; how can she not? He’s the only brother she’s got. But they’re not close, if they ever really were, and she still has no idea what to do about that. She’s busy with her own life, her family, and presumably he is too. It’s hard to find time in their busy schedules to get together, and even when they do, they can’t seem to find any common ground. She wishes they could be closer, but in the end, neither of them seems willing to make the effort. All she can do is hope that someday things might change and she’ll find a way to reach her little brother again.
Remixed as ‘Distant Relatives, The Brotherly Love Remix’