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A Thank-You Letter to a Bottle of Cabernet

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In the winter months tucked away under the night sky of Seoul, Yunho strikes up the fireplace haphazardly dug in his living room. It’s definitely not the prettiest sight in the entire world, enough to make an architect scramble for the nearest trash can to express their disgust over the half-assed project, the used-to-be white paint that stuck on the bricks were now a brittle yellow, reminiscent of an aged book that had been torn to shreds by a rabid animal, the chips nestling at the foot of the opening to the hearth. San went on and on about how that was a fire hazard, sweeping up the fragments, his broom resembling a rake combing through a pile of dead leaves. It might not have been what San was expecting when he showed up on Yunho’s doorstep, a black bottle of wine being strangled by the neck in his hand as he shakes the snowflakes out of his hair like a puppy, but it was too damn freezing to care about how ungodly his living room’s fireplace was, already remembering that his older boyfriend could barely afford a working heater, much less tend to the bill. So, San had to suffice himself to how his ancestors shielded themselves from the cold: Huddle around a fire until your eyes watered.

 

“We could’ve gone to your house for the night if you don’t want to sleep in the living room,” Yunho said, San noticing the subtle pout drawing out his voice. He knew Yunho felt guilty for not being able to properly provide for his boyfriend, being he was barely surviving paycheck to paycheck, having to support his own struggling family since his brother refused to pitch in, the best thing he thought he could do. San didn’t mind being showered with plush blankets and Yunho’s signature teddy bear hugs, enough to make the most heartless man crack a smile, before he stepped past the door frame, already feeling home in Yunho’s humble abode.

 

“I told you not to worry about it, hyung,” San retorts, stretching the blanket taut over his crossed legs, waiting for Yunho to light the logs he’d bought this morning and come sit down with him. He’s burned out two matches and broken three with his massive hands. Even though he was a gentle giant, for the most part, small objects were not his forte. “Do you need help?”

 

As soon as San asks, Yunho’s already snapped a fourth matchstick, tempted to snap off the end of it and try to light the head. He slides the box’s drawer open again, examining the last two candidates before he goes for the left one, pushing the drawer back into the box and flicking his wrist over the striker. One, two… With the third strike, the head finally captures a small, dancing flame, the light of it reflecting off Yunho’s eyes, his lips in the shape of an “O.” Was this what the cavemen looked like when they discovered fire? “I got it!”

 

“Good job! Now light it, Yunnie.” San smiles, watching his boyfriend’s amazement at his own accomplishment. Yunho grins back towards him, giving the younger’s heart a bit of a stutter in its beats, already framing such a happy expression in his mind in the exhibit titled “Yunho: The Best Masterpieces.” “This bottle of red won’t drink itself.”

The first time San witnessed the usually timid Yunho crack open a few cold ones at a rooftop party at work, he noticed something that a lot of people began to pick up just by looking at him: Jeong Yunho is a very clingy type of drunk. That’s not an exaggeration either. The giant of height and gangly limbs went from haphazard hand holding to fidgety back hugs and slightly uncomfortable lap sitting, only because Yunho’s multitude of centimeters added some weight, San swearing that he would snap his thigh bones like twigs. Even with all of that foreign contact that Yunho was paying, they never kissed once. Well, to rephrase that, there were beer-haunted pecks on the cheeks, sometimes San whispering over the taller boy’s lips but nothing progressing as Yunho was also a very jumpy and fidgety type of intoxicated, like a toddler in a new place.

 

When the two had started officially dating, Yunho had warned San that he had a bad experience with kissing, something about a very abusive ex that he refused to discuss any further, telling San that he would need a bit of time to open up again before they kissed. San originally didn’t mind during the first few weeks, the older letting San kiss his hands, letting him progress up to his cheeks but in the lifespan of their relationship, the youngest of the two started to grow a bit impatient. Was it a bit selfish of him to try and get his boyfriend drunk enough so that they could kiss? Yes, absolutely, but it was so much harder to wait anymore.

 

Yunho finally managed to toss the lit match on the stack of firewood and kindling, not even the slightest bit hesitant to join his boyfriend on the floor in front of the fireplace, watching San’s profile as his face was colored with the soft orange hue, a gentle smirk across his face. “What are you smiling at?” Yunho asks, sliding across his hardwood floor, wrapping his arms and legs around San from behind.

 

“I’m smiling at your adorableness, hyung.” San wasn’t wrong but there was still a little bit more motive behind his smirk. His mind was already sinking into the possibility of being able to feel Yunho’s soft and velvety lips against his own. He prepared himself before he left the house. He showered longer than he should’ve, brushed his teeth at least three times, drowned his mouth in spearmint mouthwash and chewed on the biggest wad of gum he could muster without choking. He’d spat it out in a napkin in his car, going for another swipe of his Wild Rain deodorant and the cologne across his neck that Yunho practically went wild for sometimes, San could tell by the miniature tent in his taller boyfriend’s jeans. He heard Yunho sniff at it, burying his face in the crook of San’s shoulder. “Do I smell good enough for you then, baby?”

 

Yunho nods against San’s skin, a soft mumble coming from the taller boy, the hot air he was breathing trailed down San’s spine, the youngest trying his best not to react. He hadn’t even popped the cork of the wine bottle and Yunho was already acting drunk on San’s scent of musk and mint. A lot of musk and more than enough mint. “We’re still going to drink this, right?” Yunho reaches over San’s shoulder, taking the black bottle by the neck, laying it over the blanket wrapped around San’s legs.

 

“You got a corkscrew, baby?”

 

“It’s in my front pocket, I can’t reach it,” Yunho sighs, shifting closer towards San’s back. “Can you get it?”

 

This had to be a dream. It probably didn’t have to be as big as a deal as San’s mind was making it out to be. It’s just a corkscrew , San thought to himself, turning his body around so that he was fully facing Yunho, noticing the multitude of beat that his heart had just skipped. Jeong Yunho was the most beautiful man San had ever met in his entire life. He was snug in his sunflower yellow hoodie, the hood just barely disguising his fading blonde hair, a slight tinge of blue slipping out as his roots were reverting back to his natural dark color. San knew deep down that he wanted to curl his fingers in it as he sucked the living daylights out of him with his touch-deprived lips. People were always intimidated by his six-foot height, making bizarre assumptions that he was the scariest man to walk this planet, but really, he’s like a Great Dane puppy. He may look huge and scary but he’s the sweetest boy with charm and charisma.

 

San wanted him bad.

 

Yunho noticed San’s hands starting to tremble, his face and cheeks as red as a sunrise, something that only happened to his younger counterpart when he grew flustered. He was confused as to why such a simple task was choking up San, almost taking the matter into his own hands before San’s hand was already hovering over the pocket of his jacket. He was cautious as he trailed his fingers down the front of his jeans, noticing how the notch in his throat bobbed slightly.

 

Obviously, San was the least innocent of the two, his mind practically screaming at him to ravish Yunho until he could barely walk or breathe but there was still the small angel on his shoulder, whispering to him that this was against the plan. San had nimble fingers, taught years of privately-tutored piano like the CEO’s son he was, slipping quickly into what he thought was Yunho’s pocket.

 

“San… That’s not my pocket.”

 

San’s eyes leered downward, feeling his face flush of color as he felt the soft fabric of Yunho’s boxers under his fingers, practically frozen in a state of panic. He wasn’t even past that barrier but he was so, so warm and so, so… Hard? Why couldn’t San move? It was so simple to just apologize and retreat from under Yunho's pants but his veins were of ice, almost immobile.

 

Now Yunho realized why he was so nervous, his own cheeks dusting with a light pink. He could hear the blood rushing in his ears, his usually soft and cuddly thoughts shifting into something of hunger and desire. Where did this even come from, the idea to let San control him however he pleased was triggering a number of sirens in his brain. Kiss him , one voice screamed. I’m not ready, I still need time , he barked back. The flood of confusion began to terrify him but the sight of his boyfriend’s hand in his pants did not help his oncoming thoughts of San hovering over him.

 

“S-San.” He didn’t mean to let the name fragment like that, his vulnerability in this moment bled over, attempting to stay strong in a situation that scared him the most. “Can you umm… J-Just…” Yunho took the other’s wrist delicately, pulling him out from under the waistband of his jeans, directing him to where his actual front pocket was, holding the corkscrew that had started this all in the first place.

 

“Ah, right, corkscrew, for the wine, right, cockscrew, I meant corkscrew!” San blabbered, flashing a semi-awkward smile, flipping the dull blade from the red body of the corkscrew and aligning it to where the divot of the plastic wrapper was located. He sliced through it, using his thumb as leverage to free the small piece of plastic that suffocated the neck of the bottle. He stabs the sharp end of the metal spiral, twisting into the meat of the cork until he bent the body over the neck, using enough strength to yank it out with a soft pop. “The glasses, hyung?”

 

Yunho reaches behind him, pulling two clear wine glasses up to San’s vision, letting the tension between them subside. It was hard to breathe in a room where a knife could cut through such a thick layer of confusion and doubt. Did Yunho really want to kiss Choi San after two months of telling him that he couldn’t or was it just from the surprise of being accidentally palmed over his underwear? Was it even an accident? The questions swimming in Yunho’s mind and drowning any other though until it was white noise was his main motivation to snatch the now-opened bottle of cabaret away from San, practically turning it bottom up as the blood-red contents escaped into his glass, the soft glugs getting San’s attention. He pours San’s glass slower than his own, fingers loosely wrapped around the stem of the glass to slide it over to him “Cheers on second drink okay?”

 

Yes, absolutely , the youngest thought to himself, being that Yunho seemed incredibly eager to finish off his first glass as soon as he poured it. Maybe his plan would come to fruition, save for the incident earlier in the evening, San finally feeling a bit of warmth return to his cheeks. “Sounds good.”

 

Yunho’s plan was slightly different than San’s. Actually, it was on the whole other side of the spectrum. He told himself that he would drink enough to make him forget about anything of the events leading up to the corkscrew. Despite the oldest’s size, he was still a bit of a lightweight drunk, it never took more than three glasses of wine or two bottles of beer to get his brain to stop functioning. Bump it up to maybe four or half of four and he would resemble an amnesia patient fresh out of his coma.

 

San, on the other hand, probably never got drunk. He always felt warm, fuzzy and buzzed but even after the bottles pile up, he could still function like a normal human being in society. He didn’t stumble or clump his sentences together, he was still the same refined rick boy that everyone envied. Some people question if the heir to the Choi business throne was a straight edge, switching out cocktails for mocktails and wine for juice but Yunho clearly knew that it was no charade and he wanted in on his boyfriend’s secrets.

 

“How do you do that, San-i?” Yunho sighs, shrugging the hood off of his head to let his hair roam free. He takes a leisurely sip before eventually giving up on imitating his seemingly perfect boyfriend, tipping his glass back until the base was pointed up towards the popcorn ceiling. San was not exactly the smoothest at watching his boyfriend’s throat twitch up and down as he swallowed every last drop. He pulls his bottom lip between his teeth, biting as hard as he could before he could swear it went numb. Yunho comes back to reality, San mentally slapping himself for slipping so deep in his Jeong Yunho Land, pulling the bottle back up for his second glass. San was barely halfway through with his first.

 

San presses the lip of the glass on his own lips, tilting it back delicately with a raise of his eyebrow peeking over. Yunho had never said this to anyone but by God did Choi San look hot in this moment. He might have been in his “leisure” clothes of a crisp black button-down and a pair of high waist skinny jeans with a circular belt but he still looked like his father, the CEO of a major trading corporation that managed almost all of Korea’s international goods. It was like one of those cheesy dramas he would see his mother watching when she couldn’t sleep. Cute assistant with a handsome CEO, or something along those lines. Yunho really thought his love life right now was a dream. San removes the glass off of his mouth, the faintest outline of red staining the chap of his lips. Was that makeup or wine or his natural lip color and he just didn’t notice? “How do I do what, Yunnie-hyung?”

 

The oldest hadn’t started his second glass yet, being that he promised his boyfriend that they would clink glasses at his second glass. In that moment of mentally undressing San, the clarification of the question arises and Yunho gets stuck. What was he saying again? “What happened?” You idiot! Now you sound like a dumbass! Did he drink earlier and he just forgot because he was feeling beyond ignorant right now.

 

“You asked how do I do that,” San chuckles genuinely, a little smile poking through his lips at the other’s forgetfulness. He’s getting up there, boys. Give him a few minutes. I’ll make him mine. He tipped his glass back for the sake of fulfilling his motives to get his lips on Yunho’s at least once tonight, motioning for the oldest to fill him back up. “What do you want to cheer to?”

 

“Mm, I don’t know,” Yunho sighs, rotating the glass on the floor in his boredom. San was practically infatuated with his puppy-like eyes, big and droopy but would perk up into his soft half-crescents with his pearly white smile. His elbow was propped against his knee, his palm pressed up against his slightly colored cheek, shifting into a subtle red as he began to feel light on his feet despite not standing. “Do you have any ideas?”

 

“At least we have a roof,” San giggles, Yunho already recording such a pristine and clear sound and filing it in his mind to cherish forever. Yunho had to give him that. It may not have been the prettiest house that San had had the privilege of staying in but it was still enough to keep them away from the snowstorm outside. Suddenly, he didn’t feel so guilty about not having enough bells and whistles to show off that San would’ve been used to by now, confident that he, and his rental, could protect San and keep him safe. “At least I’m here with you.”

 

Yunho felt like the Grinch who stole Christmas, despite never having any hateful or spiteful mannerisms towards anyone. He could feel his heart grow twice the size it already was, the drumbeat of it now ringing in his ears, unable to calm it down. The devil on his shoulder told him to finally let San have him but the angel still wasn’t having it, the concoction of confusion burning a hole in his stomach. Why did loving someone after so much hurt have to be so damn complicated?

 

“Yunho-hyung? Hello?” San was waving his hand a few inches from Yunho’s face, attempting to get the oldest to come back to Earth and take a breath from his own world of overthinking. “I didn’t lose you, did I?” San would do anything just to take a flight through his boyfriend’s brain to see what he was so focused on. Was he still taken aback from San slipping his hand under the wrong “pocket?” He was dying to know, he just wanted to help to try and fix it. He wasn’t thinking about someone else… Was he?

 

“Y-Yeah. To us and a roof?” Yunho raises his glass off the floor, San following suit.

“To us and a roof.” San grins weakly, the sound of the glasses making contact ringing in his eardrums. Was that why Yunho was so awkward about the corkscrew incident? He was thinking about somebody else doing it and enjoying it? It was San’s turn to tilt back his drink, guzzling it like a child drinks his juice in one sitting.

 

Yunho’s eyebrow raises at San’s strange behavior around him downing his cabaret alarmingly quickly. “You good, San-i?

“It was an accident,” San blurts out, on the verge of a mental breakdown over the stupid corkscrew. “I wasn’t actually trying to grab you, I wasn’t looking and I’m sorry.” His apology stumbled out of him and it was difficult to stop him.

 

“San.”

 

“I was really trying to reach for the corkscrew like you asked me to—”

 

“San-i.”

 

“Please I’m really sorry I just don’t want you to leave me—”

 

“Choi San.”

 

“I won’t do it again, I pro—”

 

Ah, yes, the muffle that was Yunho’s lips against San’s just like he planned. Wait, Yunho kissed San? San’s eyes suddenly snapped open (when did they close?), Yunho’s eyes had fluttered shut, his hands in tight balls under his knees. Yunho’s lips had a slight chap on them but were none the less as pillowy as San always imagined them to be. This was an illusion, it had to be, but Yunho wasn’t pulling away and that confused San more than anything in his life.

 

Yunho felt like the fireplace they were sitting in front of, he was burning inside and out. He felt himself melting into San, like crayons left out in the hot summer’s sun. He thought that kissing San would reignite the flashbacks of the terrible relationship and abuse with his ex but as he was twitching slightly on San’s lips, all he could think of was San. The way everyone knew his name but only he knew San in a way no one else would be able to comprehend. It was more addicting than he anticipated it.

 

It wasn’t expected but San’s the one who pulls back, Yunho’s eyes peeling open as soon as he found himself kissing the air. “D-Did I do something wrong, San-i?”

 

“Wh-What?” The number of questions that began to pile up started to encourage their own migraine, the status of his situation currently unanswered. Well, obviously the question of Is Yunho thinking of a different person was answered, being that they had finally locked lips after two months of San being told he couldn’t. “I-I’m sorry.” The color of red flushed against San, bleeding under the collar of his button-down until he resembled a tomato.

 

“Choi San, please stop apologizing, I’m trying to make out with you and your talking makes it very difficult to do.”

 

There was no way on any planet or universe or any extraterrestrial plane that this Jeong Yunho was the same one with the shy smile who greeted everyone like an old friend. Except, it wasn’t the overly attached Yunho that emerges from the ashes of an alcohol-fused midnight, even San knew that that version of Yunho was still relatively himself. The bubbles of Yunho’s personality currently popped, the innocent sparkle that he usually holds in his eyes began to dim. Who was this Jeong Yunho and why was San interested in his backstory?

 

San was no longer hesitant, lifting himself from his seated position, pressing his palm against Yunho’s broad shoulder, gently pushing him back until his older boyfriend’s spine was curved over the hardwood, strategically placing himself in between his legs. He was slow and gentle, placing his hands on each side of his neck, thumbs embedded against the soft chub of his cheeks, dusted that light pink he always has after the alcohol works through his system.

 

“Are you just gonna sit there or are you gonna—” Yunho’s sentence remained unspoken, too occupied with making certain that he felt every square inch of San’s lips against his own, the aura of overthinking mint and musk singeing his brain’s senses until they were nothing but mush. This scent was more than addiction-inducing, Yunho letting out a soft sigh against his lips. He felt the sudden intrusion of the youngest’s tongue slide inside the warm cavern of his mouth, slightly groaning up into his touch.

 

Lemons. Yunho had the familiar taste of lemons (and a hint of cabaret sauvignon, of course), something that San wasn’t really anticipating, always imagining that he would be more along the lines of a sweeter note, like cotton candy or some kind of dessert, but he was met with a gentle pucker on his tongue as the muscle swirled around the expanse of Yunho’s Warhead Sours mouth. His hands trailed away from holding up his face to where the hem of his yellow hoodie was, slipping under until San swore that his fingertips were lit on fire. Yunho was sweltering, the slight chisel of his stomach muscles were slick with sweat, Yunho’s spine bowing towards San’s nimble fingers.

 

“Hyung, you’re sweating,” San remarks, his face buried against the oldest’s right shoulder, hands on either side of his waist. His lips pressed ghost-like pecks against the slightly tanned skin under his ear.

 

“We’re in front of a fireplace, San-i.” Yunho laughs softly, coming out as breathless and staggered but still resonated in San’s mind as his favorite song, slightly remastered. “And I’m very turned on by the thought of you having your hand down my pants again.”

 

Well that sure caught San off-guard again. Who the hell was this man under San because this is not the same Yunho that he had been dating for two months? Hopefully wherever he bought this boy, they didn’t have a return policy. “How are you even saying this right now?”

 

“Do you want my dick or not, Choi San?”

 

Yunho didn’t have to ask him twice.

 

***

 

The only audible noises in the rental were ragged breathing and laughs like sighs from the two boys on the hardwood floor. They were both spread eagle on their backs, chests heaving as they caught their normal breathing pattern, the two with eye-crinkling smiles spread across their kiss-bitten lips. Two red marks rested on the jugular veins on either side of Yunho’s neck, skin glistened with a combination of his sweat and San’s saliva. San threw a blanket over their bare thighs, concealing their modesty even though no one was watching. The oldest took a little more time to reach his average resting state, being that keeping up with San’s pace was a difficult task, especially when it was his first with him. Yunho’s body began to calm itself down, using what remained of his strength to flip himself on his side, resting his entire body on his bicep. San’s head turns to where Yunho was positioned, unable to hold back his dimpled grin.

 

“Do you want a turn?” Yunho asks, despite the innocent sparkle returning to capture his chocolate brown eyes. He wouldn’t have minded if he was eager to or if he was just as beat up as he was. He leaned himself up towards his cheek, placing a gentle peck against his cheeks.

 

“God, no,” San chuckles, turning to face his boyfriend in the same stance, just mirrored. “I wasn’t expecting you to have so much resistance. Your hips have a mind of their own, hyung.” San tangles one of his hands through the strands of his hair, attempting to straighten out the mess that he made it out to be.

 

Yunho’s cheeks radiate the flamingo pink blush that he practically wore all night with San’s soft praises of how amazing he was doing, an almost inaudible groan slipping past his lips. So maybe Yunho just learned that he has a very strong praise kink. It was weird hearing the second sentence that San muttered.

 

I wasn’t expecting you to have such resistance.

 

Hey, dick, don’t perk yourself up again, we’re tired , Yunho mentally cursed at his own penis, finding it hard to keep his eyes from lingering around the outline of San’s lips. He really was as hot as every mouth whispering about the Choi CEO’s son would say and he just had it against every square inch of his skin and nobody else got to claim the Choi San as their boyfriend. He was Jeong Yunho’s boyfriend and thinking about that helped him sleep at night.

 

“What are you so in thought about, hyung?” San snickered, pressing his lips against the center of his forehead, the amount of heat radiating from Yunho’s skin burned his mouth. The amount of salt sinking into the into the chap of San’s lips stung slightly, practically wiping off his boyfriend’s sweat with the soft petal-like plumpness of his lips.

 

“I just really want to kiss you again,” he confessed, already shifting lower to capture San’s lips again, a very husky breath leaving him in doing so. San was half-expecting this, being that he noticed Yunho’s eyes practically glued on his lips but honestly, Yunho was filled to the brim with surprises tonight. San suddenly felt a weight against his waist, his hand trailing down to hold up his thigh, leg practically spider webbing San until he couldn’t escape. Not like San wanted to anyway.

 

“Hyung, I don’t want to do this again, I’m tired.” San groaned over his lips, already being pulled back in to feel something slick and wet in his mouth. Yunho’s sour tongue.

 

The oldest couldn’t ignore the sucker-punch of twenty different types of mint that attacked his taste buds when it came to exploring the expanses of San. It was definitely not what he anticipated, the musk pouring off his skin was what his mind cranked his thoughts to make out in his mind’s home theater. Red wine and mint were definitely not the sexiest combination that Yunho would first think of but this was Choi San, his boyfriend. He could probably make the most horrendous object in the world seemingly more attractive than ever.

 

San swallowed back any timidness that burned in his throat, letting his tongue dance with his boyfriend’s, the slightly lewd sound effect of saliva exchanging filled up the four walls of the rental. Yunho’s hips slotted against San’s, the youngest of the two accidentally sinking his teeth into Yunho’s bottom lip, earning a whimper from the back of his throat.

 

They were a mess of sloppy grinding and erotic kissing, feeling more like teenagers than the young adults that they actually were except they didn’t have to worry about their parents calling curfew or catching them in the act. It was a drunken night of firsts and the happiest accidents that would even put Bob Ross to shame.

 

Yunho couldn’t ask for it another way. San couldn’t either. They had reached their utopia, thanks to a bottle of cabaret.

 

Note to self , Yunho jots in his internal notebook, write a thank you letter to a bottle of cabernet.