"Hyung, wake up," an excited voice cried, slicing through the haze of sleep. Kim Seokjin blinked his eyes open and was promptly hit by a wave of confusion. He was in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room, and the only thing he recognized was the face of Jungkook, his little brother. "We're here," Jungkook was saying. "We're finally here!"
Oh. So that was where he was. He was on the Far, Far Range, a distant planet that was apparently inhabited by creatures called slimes. Those slimes produced plorts, strange objects with varied uses. The plort industry had revolutionized life on Earth when Seokjin's parents were just kids, and a select few people were chosen to acquire those plorts and send them back so they could continue to revolutionize. Jungkook had signed up to be one of those people, so Seokjin had signed up too. He didn't want to go live in isolation on some faraway planet, but he had to protect his brother. He couldn't just let Jungkook go off to live in an alien world alone.
"We're here," he echoed. "Wow, did we really sleep for a year? It feels like it's only been one night."
"It's been a year," Jungkook confirmed. "Long time, huh?"
"That means I'm - what? - twenty-seven now? Wow, I feel old."
"I don't think we've physically aged. I mean, we were in stasis. Plus your roots haven't grown out and your hair dye hasn't faded. And we don't have beards or anything, either. So I think you're still twenty-six."
"No, I'm twenty-seven for sure. Just because I was in stasis doesn't mean a year didn't pass." Seokjin sat up and gazed around, taking in his surroundings. He was in a good-sized circular room, complete with a bed - only one, meaning he'd have to share with Jungkook - and some modest furniture. There was a dresser on the far side of the room, with two green drawers and one red one, and to the right of that was a desk and a red chair and a computer. A large window took up most of one wall, although it was currently covered by ugly beige curtains. To the right of the desk was a door that stood slightly ajar, leading into another room. Two large suitcases and several boxes were neatly arranged in the middle of the floor.
"Look," Jungkook said, "they even put our stuff in a pile. Anyway, get up! We need to go explore!" He grabbed Seokjin by the arm and tugged him out of bed, causing the older man to get tangled up in the blankets and fall to the floor with a painful thud. Seokjin glared up at his brother and carefully disentangled himself from the sheets before standing and heading for the door he presumed led outside. He flung it open and immediately his eyes were assaulted by bright sunlight and the color orange. The inside of the house was dim, so he wasn't exactly prepared for this kind of brightness.
He stepped outside, blinking in the sunlight, and once his eyes adjusted he took a good look around. He was standing in an open space of orange dirt, with orange stone walls lining the edges. Lighter areas of the ground formed beautiful swirling patterns. Square plots of land dotted the area, neatly arrayed side-by-side. A little fence separated two of them from the rest of the area. The house, as well as two more plots of land, was located on an area of ground a little higher up than the rest, accentuated by some rickety stairs and another little fence. The place definitely needed some fixing up.
Seokjin became aware of the sound of waves, and as Jungkook ran off to have a look around he walked around the house and was greeted by a sweeping view of a beautiful blue-green ocean. The water seemed to have a strange consistency, and the color was definitely weird, but it was beautiful nonetheless. The sun gleamed on the water, shining on the lazy waves that rolled in. The house, it turned out, was on a cliff, and when Seokjin looked over the edge of that he discovered that it was a long, steep drop straight into the ocean. He took a few steps back, deciding to admire the view from a distance.
"Hyung!" Jungkook cried, startling Seokjin. The older man whirled around to see his brother running over, holding a round pink blob with a cute face in his arms. Was that a slime? Oh god, it was so cute-
"Oh my god, it's adorable," he said, barely able to keep from squealing. He reached out to touch it, and promptly discovered that it was slimy. No surprise there. It felt kind of nice, actually, and it made a cute little squealing sound in response to the touch. Seokjin tried to keep petting it, but Jungkook stepped back.
"It's a slime," he said. "Anyway, they gave us vacpacks. They're sitting by the plort market."
"The plort market. We can sell plorts. It's exactly what it sounds like. Anyway, they gave us vacpacks, which are like vacuum backpacks. We can suck things up and shoot 'em out."
"You literally could not have worded that in a worse way. Are you gonna show me these vacuum backpacks?"
"Yeah. C'mon, there's one for each of us. And they gave us Slimepedias, too. Slime encyclopedias," he added upon seeing his hyung's confused expression. "Everything is exactly what it sounds like." He led Seokjin over to a large screen displaying a variety of plorts and numbers. Sitting beside that was a pair of large backpack-like devices with hoses and nozzles attached. They looked heavy - thank god Seokjin had worked out a lot back home, right? He hoped his muscles hadn't atrophied while he'd slept.
Sure enough, the vacpack was heavy, but it was still light enough for Seokjin to easily carry. Jungkook, too, lifted his own vacpack with ease and then immediately tested it on the cute pink slime he'd found. Seokjin watched as he sucked it up and then jogged over to the only plot of land that was surrounded by a forcefield. He shot the slime into the enclosure, and then he sucked up a carrot and did the same thing. The slime happily ate the carrot, and then, as Seokjin watched, it produced a bright pink plort enclosed in a bubble. After a few moments, the bubble popped, and Jungkook sucked up the plort before jogging back over to Seokjin.
"Isn't this cool, hyung?" He asked, a wide grin on his face. "Look, I got a plort!" He proceeded to shoot said plort into the plort market's receptacle, rewarding them with a few newbucks. Seokjin smiled, both at the sight of his happiness and at the money, and decided that even if he didn't want to be here he would make the most of it for his brother's sake.
As Jungkook skipped away, Seokjin sat down on the ground and took a look at his Slimepedia. It contained information on slimes, locations in the Far, Far Range, resources, and even a few instruction manuals for the various devices he'd been given. He looked through it, reading about different kinds of slimes. He knew most of them simply because of the significance of their plorts in his life on Earth, although he had to admit he had no idea what Tarr, Quantum Slimes, or Quicksilver Slimes were.
Five minutes later, Jungkook came running back over. "Let's go explore, hyung!" He called, tugging Seokjin to his feet. "There are some more parts of the ranch! Come on, let's look!" He was practically bouncing up and down from sheer excitement, and Seokjin rolled his eyes as he stood up and brushed off his pants. Jungkook skipped over to the entrance to a narrow canyon. Seokjin followed, and they walked down the canyon and into an open area filled with long grass and sweet-smelling flowers and pretty trees. Two openings extended from there, leading to places Seokjin couldn't quite see from his angle. A large chunk of ground stood above the rest, accessed by a couple smaller, shorter chunks that formed natural stairs. The sea breeze drifted in despite the tall stone walls surrounding the area, and Seokjin's breath caught in his throat when he saw it all. It was so beautiful.
Before he could really take it all in, though, Jungkook was tugging him back the way they had come, across the ranch, and over to the entrance to the other area. This one was a cave with deep indigo walls and a few more plots of land. Light filtered through a hole in the ceiling, dimly illuminating the cave, and a hole in the floor was covered by sketchy-looking wooden planks. Seokjin and Jungkook were standing on a higher area than everything else, with only two plots of land joining them. The lower area, where the holes in the floor and ceiling were, was accessed by a rickety wooden ramp. The place was cool and damp, a welcome change from the bright, hot sunlight outside. Like the rest of the ranch, it could use an upgrade or two, but Seokjin loved it. If he were back on Earth, he probably would have preferred the other area, but the cool darkness of the cave was comforting, wrapping around him like a blanket.
"Wow," he breathed. "It's so nice in here. I love it."
"I'm glad you like it," Jungkook replied, "because I don't. I hate caves. Can I have that other area and you can get this?"
"I think that's a good deal," Seokjin said, slinging his arm over his brother's shoulders to comfort him. "Come on, let's go back outside," he added, although he'd really rather stay in the cave. "I know caves make you nervous, and I don't want my little Jungoo to be nervous." He pinched Jungkook's cheek affectionately as they made their way outside, and Jungkook pushed him away.
"Hyung," the younger man whined. "Stop it. I'm not that much younger than you."
"Are you kidding me? We're five years apart. You absolutely are that much younger."
"Jin. Shut up."
"Jin!" Jungkook playfully shoved him, prompting a retaliatory smack on the head.
"Yah, respect me, you punk," Seokjin said, and Jungkook snorted.
"In your dreams, hyung. Anyway, let's go explore!" He was bouncing up and down again, gripping Seokjin's shoulders and shaking him a little. Seokjin tried and failed to keep the fond smile off his face.
"Yeah, let's go- wait, hang on, Jaehwan said he'd send me a Starmail when I got here. I wanna go answer it first, okay?"
Jungkook's shoulders slumped, but he nodded and followed Seokjin back to the house. Seokjin walked over to the computer and started it up, and soon he had pulled up Starmail and found himself looking at multiple messages. One was a welcome letter from the 7Zee Corporation and the other, of course, was from Jaehwan. Seokjin clicked on Jaehwan's message first.
Rise and shine!
What's it like to sleep for a whole year? Did you dream? I can't imagine what that's like. 7Zee puts you in a pod and then it's lights out for all that time... wow.
What's the Far, Far Range like? Have you started exploring? Is the air as clear as they say it is? I bet it's really beautiful.
I'm probably asking too many questions. I bet you and Jungkook have a lot of work to do on that ranch. I still can't believe it's yours now.
I guess I better leave you to it and just keep it short: good luck, Jin. If anyone can make it out there it's you.
Seokjin smiled at the message, at the onslaught of questions the love of his life had typed. He was so, so glad Jaehwan had remembered to message him, because god he loved him so much. Jaehwan was kind and funny and cute - everything Seokjin wanted in a guy. And he was independent, too, and proud of who he was. Seeing the message from him made Seokjin's heart swell. The words on the screen were proof that he hadn't forgotten Seokjin and still loved him with all his heart.
Although... something was off. Why was Jaehwan not saying anything along the lines of I love you? Wouldn't he say that in a Starmail to his boyfriend? He was usually so affectionate and loving, always telling Seokjin how much he loved him, and here the only thing close to that were the words if anyone can make it out there it's you. And he seemed so quick to end his message, as if something was wrong. Where was all the fluff? Where were the loving words and the eagerness to interact with him?
Seokjin pushed his worries aside, not wanting to dwell on anything too much. Jaehwan was probably just tired. Was he still on tour? He might be. That would explain things.
Re: Rise and shine!
Jaehwannie! I'm here!! How have you been? I miss you already :(
I didn't dream on the way here, I don't think. If I did I don't remember it. Jungkook and I haven't really started exploring but we've been outside and yeah, the air is really clear! There's a cave that's part of our ranch and it's really pretty and peaceful. It's so calming in there. The darkness just wraps around you like a blanket. It's so nice. Jungkook really likes this other area which is outside and has trees and grass. And we found a slime! It's pink and really cute. Jungkookie put it in a corral.
I should probably go now. Jungkook is literally pulling on my sleeve because he's so excited to explore. But I'll talk to you again later, okay? I love you!!!
XOXO -your favorite handsome guy~
Seokjin sighed as he sent the message. He'd wanted to have a conversation with his boyfriend. It had been a year, after all. They had to catch up. But there was no use brooding over that now, he figured. He had exploring to do.