A squeeze. A weak, feeble squeeze that showed Blaine Anderson one of two things.
Either one: As Sebastian lay there cold and shivering with damp skin that translated to clammy hands, he didn't much care anymore whether he squeezed his fiancé's hand or not. He'd lost all ability towards conscious thought, and thereby forgotten what it felt like to sympathize. He'd forgotten that Blaine's pain was just as great as his own, though maybe worse—because while Sebastian had the ability to leave, Blaine would be left behind with a hole in his heart nearly as big as his heart was whole, because truth be told, he'd given that over to his boyfriend many, many years ago. And now that Sebastian was slipping under, drowning in a pool of pain and suffering and (though he probably would have made this into an innuendo had it been one of his good days) begging for release—from hurting, from feeling, from life; Blaine felt almost as with his heart was going right on down with him.
But, thankfully, that was only option one. The smile twitching at the corners of Sebastian's lips, battling through the pain though the pain had already won, told Blaine otherwise.
Option two was that Sebastian literally couldn't squeeze Blaine's hand. It meant that he was dying, but Blaine had known that already. The selfish part of him was shooting canons at option two faster than he could blink hot tears from his eyes, but Blaine realized that realistically, it was favorable.
It was a gift to his fiancé. And not that symbolic last one that Blaine would ever give, because this was Sebastian's fight. This was his war. No, this would be the final gift that Sebastian could ever give to himself—the gift of nonexistence.
As Blaine squeezed Sebastian's hand in return, he muttered a quiet form of endearment.
"You're doing so well, baby," he cooed, his voice cracking with each broken syllable. "I'm so proud of you. So s-strong. So, so strong. "
Sebastian's lashes fluttered a bit as he struggled to make eye contact with Blaine, but when they did, the grin that took over his face was significantly less weak than the force with which he had squeezed Blaine's hand. He was saving the energy for important things, Blaine assumed.
"Hey, killer," Sebastian wheezed, hooking his thumb loosely around Blaine's as the shorter man leaned forward, clinging to his every word. "I'm… I'm your fiancé, n-not—"
Sebastian cut himself off as he threw his head back against the pillow, struggling for some access of air into his lungs, his face screwed up in a terrible mix of pain and frustration. Eventually, he regained a bit of energy, or perhaps he had just decided to fight a bit harder, because he slowly exhaled and continued.
"Like I said," he continued feebly, and Blaine found it suddenly quite strange that he was wasting time on such useless phrases. "M'your f-fiancé. Not… not a toddler. I'm not that fr—" Sebastian took a break to breathe. "Fragile."
Blaine thought it best not to mention that Sebastian was, in fact, quite fragile indeed, but instead decided to grant what could very well have been the love of his life's dying wish of not treating him like anything less than the man he had once been—the man that he still was, and the thought caused Blaine's gut to give a painful lurch.
"Husband," he correctly Sebastian softly, using his free hand to lightly brush his thumb against Sebastian's gaunt, sunken in cheek, trying not to think about the waxiness that had already settled over the other man's skin. He managed a slight grin when Sebastian broke into another huge smile.
"Oh yeah," he murmured, practically breathing his words at this point. "Husband. Y-you never get that big fancy wedding of yours, killer."
Sebastian squeezed Blaine's hand again, only this time it was so surprisingly forceful it nearly gave Blaine a heart attack. Worse, it gave him a moment of hope, but when he looked upon Sebastian face and saw him breathing heavily, he realized how much energy it had taken to do just that.
"Don't do that," Blaine whispered, leaning down to brush his lips against the damp skin of Sebastian's forehead, "Don't exert yourself."
In typical Smythe fashion, Sebastian hmphed and tilted his head away from Blaine, indignant even in the face of death. "I've got what, five minutes left? I c-can… I'll exert myself if I damn well choose."
With that, he turned back to face his husband. Blaine chose not to mention the fact that he could see tears leaking from the corners of Sebastian's eyes. He probably thought they were invisible, just like always.
"Promise me y-you'll… you'll have it with someone else," Sebastian managed, closing his eyes once again, "The wedding. Blaine, you deserve it. You—" He grimaced, clenching his jaw as another jolt of pain was sent through his body. "God, you deserve it."
Blaine only shook his head, though he didn't say anything. He knew Sebastian well enough to understand that the other man would argue his point until his literal dying breath, and that was essentially the last way Blaine Anderson wanted his husband to go. He wanted him to die knowing that Blaine didn't see him as fragile at all—he saw him as strong. So incredibly strong that it brought tears to his eyes all on its own, and even if Sebastian wouldn't let Blaine say those exact words without comment, Blaine could indirectly address his statement in other ways.
"Alright, Mr. Notably Not Fragile. How 'bout this?" he asked, leaning down, "Even in the face of terminal sickness, you're still exceedingly sexy."
"Better," Sebastian nodded, the ghost of a grin tugging at the corners of his eyes. "Now, why were you going on about… 'bout all that other shit?"
"Because," Blaine began, pondering it for a moment, "I was telling you things you're supposed to tell someone like you." The phrase was so simple, yet so immensely complex that his own words caught Blaine off-guard for a moment until Sebastian spoke again.
"Someone who's about to die." Sebastian said. It wasn't a question, and he didn't stutter. Those who knew less about Sebastian Smythe would probably have thought that he was getting better—that Death had suddenly decided to take a house call somewhere else, and that Sebastian would live to see another day.
Blaine knew that it was because he had nothing left to fight for.
"I…y-yeah," the shorter man whispered, "Someone like that."
Sebastian gasped and gritted his teeth, his eyes bolting shut as his back arched ever so slightly off the hospital bed, and in a strange metaphor of sex, Blaine could tell he was close.
"Don't tell me cancer things," Sebastian pleaded, the desperation in his voice evident. "Tell me us things."
And so, like any good husband to a terminal man who had startlingly limited time left on Earth, Blaine did. He told Sebastian about the first time they met—about how Blaine hadn't ever blushed as brightly as he did at Dalton that day, and how no—he most definitely had not thought Sebastian looked like a Freshman. He talked about how after he and Kurt had mutually broken up after a few good months of long distance, Sebastian had provided a much needed shoulder to cry on. He mentioned how the two of them had fallen in love under an oak tree in the middle of summer while reading Oscar Wilde, and he went into a bit of detail about the standard courthouse wedding they'd undergone for legal reasons. Despite the fact that it was strictly practical, it'd still been awfully romantic. He never spoke of cancer.
Suddenly, Sebastian's voice rang out quietly into the otherwise empty room.
"You think Heaven's got room for a guy like me?"
Blaine resisted the urge to choked on his own tears, instead letting them freely fall as he reached down to trace his fingers across Sebastian's jaw line, grinning wordlessly at the stubble the other man never would have allowed to grow otherwise. "I think they'd be lucky to have another angel."
And this time, Sebastian's eyes sprung with a different sort of tears. "I… Goddammit, Blaine, you r-rom… romantic bastard. God, I love you," he whispered.
"I bet I love you more," Blaine murmured in reply, even though he had no idea whether or not that was true.
"Wanna make a wager?" Sebastian asked, eyebrow arching, then quivering, then falling back down into place as he gave a shaky sigh.
"Minutes left, and you've still got to make it a competition." Blaine shook his head in disbelief, but also in complete and utter adoration. "Unbelievable."
"Always," Sebastian smiled, then whimpered in pain. "Hey, K-Killer, I don't—"
"Shh…" Blaine shook his head, gently squeezing Sebastian's hand. "I know." He swallowed. "It's okay."
Sebastian merely nodded, then repeated "Always" under his breath as he drifted off into what could have been peaceful sleep—but Blaine knew otherwise by the slowing tempo of harsh beeps that filled the room. Slower, slower, slower still.
Just before it leveled out, Blaine whispered, "And forever."
He didn't linger once the nurses had walked in, offering their condolences and giving him firm pats on the shoulder. He simply let go of Sebastian's hand, watching it fall back to the bed almost in slow motion, as if the world was mocking him by vastly slowing down, while the time the universe had allowed his husband to live had sped by so goddamn fast.
Like a dead man himself, Blaine stood up calmly and walked from the room, leaving what he thought to be all chance he would ever have at happiness in the doorway.
He started his car, the dull roar of the engine reminding him all too much of the machines the doctors had hooked to his husband in his last weeks of life.
He stepped into his house, flickering on the lights and realizing that his coffee was just as he'd left it this morning—half sipped and cold. The television was still playing House Hunters in the background, muffled by a wall or two. The dishes were unwashed, the bed unmade.
And as he crawled into that bed and wrapped himself up in the sheets that smelled like sweat and negligence to be washed and so much like Sebastian it literally hurt, Blaine finally allowed himself to cry. He stuffed his face into his pillow and openly sobbed, shrieking to God and the neighbors and the wall and himself and anyone who would listen that this world was fucking unfair, Goddammit. About how it should have been him. He wished it was him.
"And forever," Blaine choked into the feather-filled fabric. He knew it to be true.
And that—that right there was the terrible thing about losing a loved one. It's not watching them take their last breath, or the funeral, or the first time you go on a date with someone else. It's the day after that, and the day after that, and every day following until infinity. Because Sebastian had been more than Blaine's other half; he'd been Blaine's whole world and then some, and now that he was gone, Blaine was emotionally gone as well.
He fell asleep at 3:46 am, whispering "forever" into his pillow.