132 Only in Name Pt.2

    Kim Hyesung was not a virtuous man.

    He was a tyrant, a draconian, and devoid of feeling human emotion.

    In some ways, to Taehyung, his father reminded him of Junmyeon. He didn't detest his father, but he was just indifferent to him. Hyesung never paid Taehyung any attention, never praised him and, Taehyung doubted he even knew the youngest Kim existed. His father had always focused his attention on his older brothers. Sometimes, Taehyung did not feel like he was a Kim at all. After all, Hyesung hardly acknowledged him. Apart from the time when Gyuri rescued him, Hyesung hadn't ever spoken to Taehyung before. He seldom ever did. So, when he found out that his father had died, he was surprised to find tears flowing from his eyes.

    Why would Taehyung cry over a man who was his father only in name?

    "Stop crying," a croaky voice scolded.

    Taehyung sniffed while glancing up and found that it was his third brother.

    "Men do not cry," Junmyeon lectured, his voice mellower than usual. "Especially if they are a Kim."

    Taehyung wiped away his tears with his sleeve, too mournful to mind the cold-heartedness of his brother's words. He knew that malice was Junmyeon's way of grieving. Sometimes Taehyung believed he was incapable of expressing anything else.

    "I apologise for being late."

    The sliding door drew open and the Kims turned their heads in time to see Minseok enter the room. The others nodded as he took his normal seat at the dining table. As Minseok sat down, he couldn't help but direct his attention towards the empty chair, which Hyesung usually occupied.

    All the Kims followed his stare.

    Without Hyesung at the head, the Kims collectively felt a sense of loss. For as long as they could remember, he had always been around to guide them, even if they didn't always agree with his methods or appreciated his presence. He was like their morning star. And with him gone, all it left was fathomless darkness.

    Namjoon peered at his cousins and observed their sullen expressions.

    For him, losing his uncle was painful but he knew that what he felt was incomparable to the anguish the others were experiencing. For the Kim brothers, Hyesung was the last living parent they had left. But even if Hyesung was not Namjoon's father, he had always regarded him as so. And losing a father figure for the second time hurt Namjoon more than he anticipated.

    "I am pleased to see that everyone is present," Minseok stated as he smoothed the crease on his robe.

    "Cousin, why do you not sit at the head of the table?" Taeyeon asked from beside Namjoon.

    The rest of the Kims directed their attention to her.

    "Sister!" Namjoon admonished, his cheeks growing pink with embarrassment.

    "What?" Taeyeon feigned innocence. "With Uncle gone, the next head of this family is Cousin Minseok." She swept her gaze across the room to see if anyone would contest her. "Or am I mistaken?"

    "It has not even been a day since our father died and already, you are suggesting something disrespectful," Junmyeon contemptuously muttered. He glared at Taeyeon from across the table. "Show some respect to the deceased!"

    "I do not mean to offend," Taeyeon replied, her tone remorseless. "But it is inevitable that Cousin Minseok will be the next head of our family." She turned to face the eldest Kim brother. "Why prolong the process?"

    Junmyeon was about to protest when Minseok slammed his fist on the dining table. "That is enough!"

    All the Kims jolted. It was rare for Minseok to raise his voice.

    Wearily, Minseok let out a long breath as he unclenched his closed fist. "Father just died," he spoke tiredly. "Must we argue right now?" He met eyes with both Taeyeon and his brother. "We can discuss that later, but right now, we have other more pressing matters to attend to."

    "What sort of matters, brother?" Jongin asked from beside Junmyeon.

    Minseok smiled weakly at the pale boy. "Matters such as Father's funeral and the future of our clan."

    "I spoke with Physician Koh earlier," Namjoon interjected, causing all eyes to fall on him. "He advises that because of the plague, we should cremate Uncle's body as soon as possible."

    "Did Father have the plague?" Taehyung asked from beside him, his voice nasally from crying. "Is that what he died of?"

    The rest of the Kims exchanged worried looks.

    "No," Minseok answered.

    All the Kims gaped at him.

    "Father was..." Minseok knitted his hands together. "Father was gravely ill." He glanced up from his hands as he divulged, "He had the sugar sickness."

    Namjoon's eyes widened. "He did?"

    Taehyung turned to Namjoon. "What is the sugar sickness?"

    "It is an ailment of the body," Jongin explained.

    Taehyung directed his attention to his fourth brother.

    "It entails injecting a serum on a regular basis to live normally."

    "Where did you learn that?" Namjoon asked, stunned by his cousin's knowledge.

    Jongin managed a small smile. "I read a lot."

    "Well, getting back to the matter," Minseok interrupted. "Father died because he was unable to take the serum on time." His voice trembled slightly as he continued, "Madam Zhou informs me that she found his injection quite the distance away from his bedside, where he usually keeps it."

    "Could he have dropped it and it rolled away?" Taehyung wondered aloud.

    Minseok could only shrug. "We do not know for sure."

    "So, it was Madam Zhou who found Uncle this morning..." Taeyeon mused. "Perhaps she was the one who-"

    "Sister," Namjoon gritted out. The flame on a candle flickered at his sharp tone.

    Taeyeon tilted her head at her brother. "What?"


    Minseok nodded at Namjoon thankfully. "We do not know the true circumstance of Father's death. All we know is that he most likely died because he could not take the serum." He glanced at everyone in the dim room. "Unless someone has something they would like to share?"

    All the Kims exchanged looks with each other.

    While the rest of Kims murmured amongst themselves, Jongin peered at Junmyeon. He had not said anything for a while which concerned Jongin. Inconspicuously, Jongin observed Junmyeon's countenance, which was impassive as usual, but somewhat colder and more worn. Jongin glanced down and saw that his hands were balled into fists, so tight that his knuckles had whitened with the tension.

    Jongin furrowed his brows. What could he be thinking?

    "And the ceremony?" Minseok's voice brought Jongin back to the conversation. "What shall we do about that?"

    "We really should not delay it," Namjoon insisted. "It would be unwise to do so."

    "Are we not going to invite our other relatives to the funeral?" Taehyung queried. "We have relatives outside the capital, correct?"

    The Kims exchanged uncomfortable looks.

    "If you are talking about the rest of the Kim clan," Namjoon responded, "we had severed ties with them decades ago." He smiled meekly at his younger cousin's confused expression. "They do not want to have anything to do with us."

    Taeyeon grabbed her brother's hand as if to reassure him and Namjoon squeezed back knowingly.

    "This," he swept his gaze across the room, "is what remains of our clan."

    Suddenly, a sudden bolt of lightning tore across the sky, illuminating the dim room. All of the Kims were speechless as the rumble of thunder followed suit, finally signalling the entrance of rain. If it were any other day, the Kims would have celebrated the coming of rain as it had been months since the last downpour. It was meant to be a time of joy as their prayers for rain had finally been answered. But at that moment, all they could think about was how the heavens seem to reflect their grief in losing their progenitor.

    It was like the heavens were crying with them.

    "Actually," Minseok corrected, once the thunder had subsided. "This is not the rest of our clan."

    Everyone turned to Minseok who had a grave expression.

    "We have another brother we have yet to welcome."

    The rest of the Kims were silent for a few moments as they processed Minseok's words.

    Another brother?

    Junmyeon was the first one to react.

    "What?" he was aghast. "Brother, you do not mean...?"

    Minseok nodded slowly. Against the backdrop of howling winds and peals of thunder, all the Kims were united in their surprise upon hearing the words fall from Minseok's lips.

    "Our exiled brother is coming home."
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