Ianto loves Rhi, she’s his big sister and she’s always tried to look out for him; not always successfully, but at least she tried. He remembers playing with her when he was little; he’d looked up to her then because she knew so much more than he did, but then they’d both grown up.
By the time he was thirteen Rhi was dating and had less time for him, wanting to spend most of her time with boys, and friends her own age, so he’d told her that he wasn’t a little kid any more, that he was too old to play with his sister. He’d thought that would make things easier for her, so she wouldn’t feel she had to waste her time on him, but instead she’d seemed hurt and vaguely annoyed. He’d wanted to apologise, tell her he hadn’t really meant it, but he didn’t know how, and gradually they’d drifted further apart.
When Rhi had found out her boyfriend was actually married, she’d dumped him and shut herself in her bedroom, crying for days. Remembering all the times she’d comforted him when he was upset, he tried to do the same for her, but she’d just brushed him off, told him to go away and leave her alone. That had hurt, but he hadn’t let it show, already getting used to hiding his emotions behind a mask.
Time passed and Rhi met Johnny. Ianto didn’t particularly like him, but at least he was nicer to Rhi than Gary had been. Johnny really seemed to love her, so when he proposed and Rhi said yes, Ianto tried to be happy for her, even though the wedding was a nightmare. He’d hated having to stand there for photographs, embarrassed at being seen wearing a suit that didn’t fit properly any more, the legs and sleeves too short on his rapidly growing frame.
At their father’s funeral a few months later, he wore one of his dad’s old suits that he’d altered himself to more or less fit. It wasn’t a perfect job, he’d had to do it in a rush, but it was better than making do with the outgrown one. He’d been eighteen by then, feeling lost and confused, but he’d already been starting to plan his future. He was going to leave the estate and head to London where nobody knew him. Cutting ties with his old life had seemed like the only way forward. In a new place he could remake himself and no one would ever know he was really just a brat from a council estate in Wales.
He’d not cut all his ties with Wales though, couldn’t quite bring himself to go that far. He’d still called Rhi occasionally, just to touch base and let her know he was alive and hadn’t completely forgotten his family, but the calls had been stilted and awkward, neither of them knowing what to say to each other anymore. Maybe that was the just way of things; siblings drifting apart as they grew older and their lives went in different directions. Still, it made him a little sad and even a bit homesick, so when Rhi had her first baby, he went back to Wales for his first visit since arriving in London. It hadn’t gone well, Rhi had criticised his clothes, fussed around him saying he was too skinny, and then thrown a fit when he lit a cigarette indoors, yelling that it was bad for the baby, so he took off and went to visit some friends. At least they were pleased to see him. He didn’t really fit in with them either though; he’d changed too much. He stopped by once more to see Rhi before hitching back to London, apologising, hugging her and saying a friend had offered him a ride back home. She didn’t need to know the truth.
The next time he visited was after Mica was born. He and Lisa had driven up to Cardiff in his car and when Rhi opened the door, it was obvious she didn’t recognise her little brother at first. Not surprising really, it had been years and he was now taller than her. The suit probably confused her too, considering what he’d been wearing on his last visit.
Torchwood and Lisa were his life now, the estate and everyone he’d known before were just distant memories. Lisa had got on with Rhi pretty well, but talking to his sister had been like trying to make conversation with a complete stranger, there was no common ground anymore.
After Torchwood One fell, he’d returned to Cardiff without telling Rhi. He hadn’t visited until he was on suspension after what he termed in his head the Cyberwoman Incident. He’d spun a tale for Rhi’s benefit, that Lisa had been seriously injured in the terrorist attack at Canary Wharf, and had finally died after being taken off life support. It was close enough to the truth, he supposed, but nevertheless he hated lying to his sister. He knew she’d liked Lisa, had been happy that there was someone special in his life; having to tell her that his beautiful, vivacious Lisa was gone somehow made it more real. He’d gone to Rhi instinctively for comfort, and she’d tried, but nothing she did or said could break through the numb despair that he felt.
Sometimes he wishes they could get that old closeness back, but there’s too much in his life now that he can’t tell her about. Torchwood and what he really does for a living, his relationship with Jack… Would she be shocked to know he was with a man now? Or would it bother her more that he was sleeping with his boss? Not that he was planning on telling her either way.
Still, they keep in touch, phone each other every month or so. Rhi even invites him for dinner once in a while, birthday celebrations and other family occasions. Sometimes he even goes, Torchwood and the Rift permitting, but they don’t have a lot to say to each other and they soon run out of small talk. The awkward silences are hard to take, the price he pays for the life he lives. Even so, he wouldn’t change his life. He loves his job and he loves Jack; the Team are more like his family than his own flesh and blood.
So that’s the way things are, two people who were once close now grown apart because of circumstances. Maybe, some day, things will change and he’ll be able to tell Rhi about all the amazing things he’s seen. Some day maybe he’ll be able to tell her what he really does for a living and introduce her to the man who has won his heart. He knows that’s not likely to happen any time soon, but he clings to the hope anyway. He loves Rhi and the kids, always will, even kind of likes Johnny some of the time, but for now they’re better off not knowing the truth. It’s the best gift he can give them.