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A Cat Who Writes ([personal profile] acatwhowrites) wrote2017-05-21 12:23 pm

Peripeteia

title: Peripeteia
players: Kim Minseok/Xiumin, Kim Joonmyun/Suho, Kim Jongdae/Chen, Kim Jongin/Kai
rating: G
word count: 1,370w
warning/s: light angst
summary: If life can be likened to a road, Joonmyun wants to get off the pavement and sit in the grass. The hairpin turns and rolling hills and sudden bridge collapses are keeping him awake at night and wearing him down.
a/n: Originally written for the 2nd Suhoney round. (Prompt #6 The Kim brothers Father has recently passed away, there's a change in their family's dynamics and Suho isn't sure what to do when he gets a scholarship at the prestigious university he's always wanted to go to.)
Read on: AFF || AO3 || LJ





If life can be likened to a road, Joonmyun wants to get off the pavement and sit in the grass. The hairpin turns and rolling hills and sudden bridge collapses are keeping him awake at night and wearing him down.

His dad dies peacefully in his sleep, leaving his four sons to reassess their family dynamics and roles among one another. They've sat and tried talking about it, but the absence of their dad has dug a hole in their hearts, and it's just too raw to work around, so they haven't made much progress. Joonmyun's grateful, at least, that Minseok's been able to take time off of work to be home. They were so happy when he got the job overseas, in an area and company he liked, and the physical distance didn't create a personal one, but it also meant that then their dad was bedridden, only three of his sons could be by his side. Joonmyun's certain Minseok feel guilty, and there's nothing he can think to say to change that. Words aren't enough to express longing and forgiveness for someone else.

The sun hasn't deemed the funeral a day to hide from, anyway, shining merrily on the masses of somber-faced and dark-clothed mourners. It reflects off of the line of cars outside the comfortable parlour and dries the dew from bright floral wreaths with black bows whose tails ripple in the light breeze.

Joonmyun stands with his brothers just inside the visitation room. If he looks over his shoulder, he sees the framed portrait of their dad—a recent photo showing his soft cheeks and kind eyes lined with wrinkles he said he'd earned—tucked in black ribbon. He'd helped choose it from their family photo albums.

I'm so sorry for your loss...

He nods and smiles a little, bowing to each well-wisher and accepting the varying degrees of grief. To his right, his oldest brother Minseok matches his polite stoicism, although there's a hint of pink to the edges of his eyes. For all his life, Joonmyun can't recall a single instance Minseok cried for anything except laughing too hard. He's always been an ideal role model of older brother role models, looking after his siblings without being asked and often putting their well-being and needs and wants before his own but never sacrificing himself. Somehow, he's tapped into otherworldly knowledge that's kept him balanced for as long as Joonmyun can remember, and he's jealous.

He bristles a little when a family friend plants a hand firmly on the youngest Kim's shoulder and says, You watch out for your brothers, okay? Be a good boy. They mean well, but no child should have to be given that responsibility, from a non-relative, no less.

Jongin just nods and stares at the toes of his shiny black shoes. Their dad had taught them all how to shine shoes and tie neckties and the right way to roll up their sleeves. Jongin did all that on his own this morning, quietly getting dressed in Joonmyun's room while their cousins used Jongin's. His eyes are red and swollen, and for once, it's not from sleeping so much. He's only eleven, eight years younger than Joonmyun, but it seems like a lifetime. He remembers when his parents brought Jongin home; he was so tiny and quiet, sleeping and eating for months before deeming the world interesting enough to finally stay awake and sit upright. Even as a baby, he was compliant and sweet. Crankiness was a rare thing, and he seemed to dedicate himself to making sure he was worthy of everyone's attention, showing off his dances and tricks he taught their dogs and hiding the poor school grades behind the exceptional reading and art scores.

Joonmyun adores him; it hurts that he can't do anything to take away the pain he knows the boy is feeling. He's still so small; if the weight on him is anything like it is on Joonmyun, then he must be suffocating.

Silently, he reaches the few centimeters between them and brushes his fingers against the back of Jongin's hand. Warm fingers wrap around his, and Jongin sighs.

Jongdae, the second youngest Kim, returns to stand between him and Minseok, wiping lipstick off his cheek from one of their clingier great-aunts. She's always been a crier, even when there's nothing to cry about. It's unsettling to see him without his usual smile. Even when his friends stopped by to pay their respects, they couldn't get a grin out of Jongdae, and Joonmyun almost wished the funeral would just end and be forgotten so Jongdae could smile again.

The line of grieving keeps moving, and Joonmyun's zoned out and lost in his thoughts when he's wrapped up in a tight hug. Hang in there, hyung, Minho says thickly. He's another one Joonmyun's rarely seen cry/ He hugs Jongdae and Minseok, offering condolences, but he crouches down in front of Jongin and holds him extra tight. Words can't accurately express grief.

He's not sure what's going to happen, once the funeral is over. There's an acceptance letter pinned to the corkboard on his bedroom wall, which guarantees his placement at the university he's had his heart set on since before he even entered high school. He wants to major in business administration, like his dad. Become a successful businessman. Have a family. There's an idea, not quite a plan, that's been scrambled in his head, and it's making him look at everything differently and reevaluate it all. He was so absorbed with his own future that he never even considered things could go wrong. Even at nineteen, he feels like an orphan and doesn't know what to do. He wishes someone would take him by the shoulders and turn him around and show him what he's supposed to do, but there's no one but his own brothers, all feeling just like him.

Jongin rubs his eyes with the hand he's holding onto Joonmyun's with; Joonmyun feels the dampness of his tears on his fingers. They've always been close. Joonmyun always told him he'd be there for him, no matter what, and to rely on him for anything.

With Minseok living and working even farther away, there's no one else to look after Jongin. Their grandparents are too old and rely on their other relatives. Their parents were both only children; he doesn't want Jongin to move in with distant family. Jongin doesn't have many friends, either, so they couldn't ask for him to stay with a friend, and even if they did, there's an envelope on the kitchen counter from social services. With no parents or immediate relatives, both Jongdae and Jongin, as minors, face foster care.

Last night, Jongdae watched Joonmyun fight sleep in their dad's home office, head bobbing and popping up just to dip again. Joonmyun barely registered the door opening and his second brother standing beside him, but he recognized the envelope in Jongdae's hand.

Don't worry about me, hyung; focus on Jonginie. I just have a couple more years.

Joonmyun has to worry; he's still worrying, even as relatives and friends try to comfort him and promise their help. No one's talking about the obvious future: Who will look after his brothers? Who will care for Jongin? Every suit he sees, Joonmyun expects to be a social worker, ready to take Jongin away. His mom is dead; Jongdae and Minseok's mom is dead; only Joonmyun's is alive, but she was too busy to attend her ex-husband's funeral, and there's no way she would consider adopting a child. She barely acknowledges her own son.

He squeezes Jongin's fingers. We'll be okay. Trust hyung. Maybe he can put off university a year or two. Get a job and use the inheritance to maintain their family home. Maybe he can take Jongin with him—find an apartment near school for them both. He needs to think more, but his head hurts too much to think about much more than holding onto his little brother's hand and bowing as people pass.

If life can be likened to a road, Joonmyun's parked on the shoulder with his hazards flashing. The road hasn't ended, yet.