jaejoong is the owner of a bridal planning service. yunho is a handsome would-be groom with a midlife crisis.
The Chateau de Mormont is even more gorgeous in person than the brochure lets on; the still photographs do nothing to capture the magnificence of the vineyard, the luscious greenery surrounded by a calm, lovely lake or the gardens full of orchid blooms, and the miles and miles of pale blue sky.
It’s the perfect place to fall in love, Jaejoong thinks, stepping into the sweet summer sunshine. Even the weather is perfect.
A well-worn dirt path takes Jaejoong past the gardens to the entrance of the Chateau, where hanging glass chandeliers and a large winding staircase greet him.
He steps through the intricately carved doors and takes the stairs, palm gently grazing the aged mahogany support as his feet sink into plush Venetian carpet.
When Jaejoong thinks he cannot fall in love with the Chateau anymore than he already has, the sight at the top of the stairwell takes his breath away.
Clad in a dove grey suit, leaning casually against the bannisters, Yunho is the picture of elegance. He is talking to their sommelier, his head tilted back in laughter, revealing the long line of his neck. He looks so happy, so incredibly handsome that Jaejoong finds himself rooted at the top of the stairs, catching his breath.
It is a beat too long because Yunho turns around, and notices, and his smile widens as he catches Jaejoong’s surprised gaze.
God, Jaejoong’s brain screams, as Yunho approaches, pull it together! It hasn’t been that long since you’ve … oh wait, it totally has.
Jaejoong clears his throat, awkwardly and then says, a little stiffly. “You’re early.”
“Good morning to you too, sunshine,” Yunho teases, which makes Jaejoong mock scowl, “I believe our sommelier would beg to differ.”
“It’s a big winery,” Jaejoong says, petulantly, “I got lost.”
“I guess we can’t all have an impeccable sense of direction.”
“You are way too cheery for eight in the morning.”
“Jaejoong,” Yunho deadpans, “you brought me here, at eight in the morning to drink free and expensive alcohol. I think it would be hard to find a reason for me not to be cheery.”
Point, Jaejoong concedes, and Yunho grins.
“Are you ready?”
Jaejoong turns to see their sommelier approach, her hair pulled in a bouncy high ponytail atop her head.
“I’m Jessica,” she sing-songs, “follow me this way, please.”
And that’s where it all goes down hill.
“Remind me of your name?” Jessica says, syrupy sweet as she closes the heavy oak doors behind her.
Jaejoong blinks. “I’m Kim Jaejoong—“
“Thank you for finally gracing us with your presence Mr Kim, I’m sure you already know at an exclusive place like the Chateau de Mormont, we have no tolerance for tardiness.”
“Wine is an art form that deserves respect,” Jessica continues, her tone becoming shriller as she speaks, “we are serious connoisseurs of wine. if you believe your schedule is more important than this class then perhaps you should have thought twice about signing up for this exclusive package. There are other, cheaper wineries that also offer recreational wine tasting classes. Perhaps that would have been more suited to your tastes.”
She glares at him from over her glasses and Jaejoong feels himself sink lower into his seat.
“I think we get the point,” Yunho says, a little too curtly just as Jessica purses her lips, ready to start on another scathing tirade. “We can move on.”
In a flash, Jessica’s disapproving scowl melts into a large smile.
“Right you are, Mr Jung,” she titters, “how astute. We shall move right along into the tasting.”
When Jessica walks away, busying herself with the wine glasses, Jaejoong finds a warm hand on his knee, squeezing for the briefest of seconds.
“Ignore her,” Yunho mouths, as he rolls his eyes. “It’s not a big deal. It’s just fermented grape juice.”
Jaejoong stifles a quiet laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and relaxes, wondering how Yunho can turn only the most exclusive of experiences into something so completely mundane.
“Thank you for waiting,” Jessica says, primly placing three half filled glasses of wine before Jaejoong, “we will being our tasting with a French Pinot Gris.”
Jessica launches into a twenty-five minute mind-numbingly boring history of the Pinot grape and the region it was harvested. As she natters on about the French peninsula and soil acidity, Jaejoong feels his eyes glaze over. His mind drifts back to the wedding, all white, in a chapel, naturally, Seulgi in a sweetheart-cut gown, and yards and yards of tulle, and--
“Mr Kim,” Jessica says, sharply, and Jaejoong jolts awake from his wonderful daydream of white silk and lace.
She sighs, long sufferingly, then enunciates, like Jaejoong is a very impaired two year old, “your Pinot Gris, if you please.”
Jaejoong stares at the selection of three white wines, placed in a straight row before them. Jaejoong blinks – they all look the same, and he’s pretty sure they’re all going to taste the same. And really, how is he to know which one is the Pinot Gris if they don’t have labels like soju bottles do, and really what would have listening about the soil acidity have helped with deciphering which white was which—
Panicking, he glances over at Yunho who is easily reclined in his chair, hiding his amused smile behind a wine glass.
Yunho catches his eye, and subtly taps the leftmost glass with his fingers, indicating Jaejoong should start from there.
“Good,” Jessica says, “now swirl, and smell.”
Yunho swirls the glass, his long elegant fingers resting lightly on the stem and raises it to his nose, lightly. Jaejoong tries to copy the smooth motion, to little avail, almost tipping half the mixture onto himself.
“It smells spicy, almost like pepper.”
Jaejoong thinks the assertion is ridiculous – but coming from Yunho’s smooth, dulcet tone, it’s almost convincing and Jessica coos, beaming at him.
“Very interesting observation, Mr Jung,” she says, leaning over him so her cleavage is in his clear line of sight, “you have a very refined palate. Indeed, many wine experts have noted Pinot Grigio varieties to be very crisp and refreshing, which may account for the spiciness you encountered.”
Jaejoong inhales deeply into his glass, expecting to smell gochujang and pretty much smells… nothing.
“Um,” he hesitates, panicking, “I smell lemons?”
Jessica turns away from fusing over Yunho to frown disapprovingly at Jaejoong. “Citrus is not a common descriptor for this type of wine, Mr Kim. Perhaps you should try again,” she sniffs delicately, “but that is all right, not everyone has the kind of palate suited to enjoy wine.”
Jaejoong is just about to sink a little deeper in his seat when he feels Yunho’s fingers, warm on his own.
“Excuse me,” Yunho says pointedly, “my fiancée and I are trying to enjoy this bonding experience together which is difficult with you antagonizing him.”
“Sorry Mr Jung,” Jessica simpers, batting her eyelashes dramatically, “you’re right of course, let’s just move along.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Jaejoong murmurs miserably under his breath to Yunho, when Jessica finally turns away.
“It’s okay,” Yunho says, his lips quirking mischievously, “neither do I. But that’s what this is about isn’t it? Learning to enjoy wine.”
“It’s not very enjoyable,” Jaejoong grumbles.
“Well, I can drink to that,” Yunho says and Jaejoong manages a soft laugh when Yunho clinks their glasses.
Jaejoong sips tentatively from his glass, and almost struggles not to spit the liquid out the second it touches his tongue. The acidic taste goes down hard, burning down his throat and he almost chokes on the bitter lingering aftertaste.
“God,” Jaejoong whisper-shouts, a minute later, “what is that?”
Apparently Yunho feels the same, because he places his glass down, and pushes it away from himself. “Obviously a drink neither of us can appreciate it.”
“I’m glad Seulgi couldn’t make this bonding session,” Jaejoong says. “I’m sure she would have fired me as her wedding planner. I’m ready to fire me.”
“Don’t be too sure,” Yunho says with a half laugh, “unlike us plebs, Seulgi actually can appreciate fine wine.”
“Oh god,” Jaejoong groans quietly, as Jessica begins pouring out three more glasses of red wine, “I can’t believe we have to sit through six more glasses of this.”
“We don’t have to.”
“We could just. Leave?”
Jaejoong shakes his head with a laugh, suddenly noticing the way Yunho’s warm honey colored eyes sparkle in amusement, how they crinkle at the edges when he smiles.
He swallows, and his throat is dry. This time, maybe not just from the wine.
Jessica walks back and leans over, casually brushing Yunho’s shoulder with her fingers, a phony smile plastered on her face. “Gentlemen, are you ready to share your thoughts on the wine?”
“Well,” Jaejoong says briskly, taking a cue from Yunho, who is goading him on, pulling silly faces behind Jessica’s back, “I thought it tasted like rotting vegetation.”
It is a remarkably satisfying feeling to watch Jessica’s face crumple in confusion and then outrage. Jaejoong steadies himself for an angry outburst…
That never comes.
“We will leave now, thank you for the lesson,” Yunho says calmly, he reaches for Jaejoong’s hand under the table, intertwining their fingers, and then he takes off, so quickly, Jaejoong is almost dizzy from the vertigo.
And just like that, they sweep out of the Chateau, leaving behind a gaping Jessica who stares helplessly after them.
They run gleefully, like naughty children with their nursemaid after them, down the mahogany staircases, through the winding dirt path, and they don’t stop until they’re collapsing into fits of giggles, panting hard in front of Yunho’s midnight blue Corvette.
“Come on,” Yunho says, throwing open the passenger door, “we didn’t get much of a head start.”
“You really didn’t have to do that,” Jaejoong says, his cheeks are flushed from exertion and laughter, but he sobers up, “this was all meant for you.”
“I didn’t like seeing her treat you like that,” Yunho says simply. “Also, you can’t deny that was some pretty shitty wine.”
Jaejoong starts laughing again. No, he agrees, he really, really can’t.
“Come on,” Yunho says, smiling, like they’re sharing a secret. “I have a better idea.”
The winery they pull into ten minutes later, is a far cry from the stifling, sophisticated décor of Chateau de Mormont, but, given the way the morning had gone, Jaejoong is sure they both find the change reassuring.
The vineyards seem to go on for miles on end, curlicues of grape twining themselves into the wooden hedges, stretching further than the eye can see. The vineyards open up into a small cobblestone courtyard, furnished with a few small tables. It’s simple, quiet and unpretentious, something perhaps they can both appreciate now.
“Two tasting flights please,” Yunho tells the waiter, without looking at the menu.
“Very good sir,” the waiter returns cheerily, leaving Jaejoong gaping after him.
“Do you know a lot about wine?” Jaejoong asks later, fascinated.
“No,” Yunho shakes his head and laughs. “But I had a feeling that wasn’t really the point of this excursion.”
“And what was the point of this excursion?”
Yunho offers him a grin. “To get ridiculously drunk?”
“After the morning we’ve had, that’s definitely a plan I could get on board with.”
The winery, Yunho tells Jaejoong later, is small and family run. He likes it because they produce their wines in fresh batches, and unlike the commercial wineries, they tend to be quiet on the weekends.
“They’ve never won any awards at the big wine conventions,” Yunho says, ducking his head, almost shy, “but I like the wine here. And it’s easy to drink, which is a lot more than I can say for almost anything they serve at a fancy function.”
Jaejoong picks up his tasting flight cautiously, inhaling tentatively. It smells, fresh, crisp and sweet, like summer fruit and apple blossoms.
“This actually smells pretty good,” Jaejoong relents a moment later and is rewarded when Yunho’s face lights up.
“Try it,” Yunho says, “it’s one of my favorites.”
The wine is light and faintly sweet, sliding down Jaejoong’s throat smooth like butter.
“Wow,” Jaejoong says, taking a generous sip. “I think I might like wine after all.”
Yunho laughs, the tension easing out of his shoulders. “I’m glad. Seulgi won’t touch this stuff with a ten foot pole.”
“You know, I thought you’d be really boring.” Jaejoong tells Yunho, smoothing bread crumbs off his napkin. “Being a business man and all. But you’re not actually so bad.”
“Thanks? I guess?” Yunho grins, “way to stand on ceremony with your potential client.”
“Client,” Jaejoong corrects him primly. “Besides, I pride myself on being brutally honest.”
Yunho’s eyes flicker over to Jaejoong and rest on his face a moment too long, before he clears his throat, “well, honesty looks good on you.”
“As almost anything does,” Jaejoong says toasting Yunho with his glass, and if his cheeks are a little pink, it’s because of the too-warm summer sun and all the carafes of wine they’ve shared.
Jung Yunho is fascinating, despite being a simple businessman. Perhaps Jaejoong had been overly critical of businessmen as a category. He always saw them as greedy mercantile types, soulless and devoid of dreams. And so far, in his six years of interaction with them, that assertion had never been disproven.
But Yunho, Yunho was.
Yunho is sitting across him, relaxed, his shirt unbuttoned and tie forgotten after the last tasting flight they’d shared. The afternoon sunlight catches his hair, coloring the strands honeyed brown and casting dancing shadows across his handsome features.
Jaejoong watches his eyes fill with warmth and hope and passion as Yunho begins to gesture wildly, his excitement palpable as he shares anecdotes about the deals he had closed, the entrepreneurs he had helped, the charities he had founded in Africa.
It should all sound so pretentious, but it’s not.
“Is there anything you can’t do?”
Yunho ducks his head a little, embarrassed, “it really wasn’t a big deal.”
“And he’s modest too,” Jaejoong teases, “mister perfect.”
“Being in Africa taught me so much,” Yunho says his gaze soft and faraway, “the people there were so happy, even when they had nothing. And it made me realize all the things and people I was taking for granted.”
“It seemed so silly to have so much – the houses, the cars, the business.” Yunho sighs, almost wistful, “and no one to share it with.”
“But then you found Seulgi,” Jaejoong finishes; wonder in his eyes as it all clicks into place. “That’s. That’s beautiful.”
“Right,” Yunho says, coughing and not quite meeting Jaejoong’s love-struck gaze. “Exactly.”
Jaejoong beams, “you are going to have the most perfect, beautiful wedding ever, and I will personally see to that.”