A/N - I needed to work on something different, in light of all the cheating Christian stories that have cropped up. I'll still be working on my own cheating story (26.2 shades of Anastasia), but wanted to type this out while I thought of it. A bit of a "happy place" break for myself. It's as difficult for me to write about Christian cheating as it is to read about it!
Christian and Ana have been married for 65 years. Ana has been very ill and is in palliative care at a hospice. Christian is old and frail as well, still very much in love with Ana, but time is running out. They reminisce and celebrate their lifetime of love together. At this point it's obviously much more than the physical passion they once shared. They say their final goodbyes in this one-shot. A story of what happily ever after looks like at the end of the journey.
This is very rough and quickly written, so please excuse any errors and rough spots!
The bed creaks as Christian settles in next to his wife.
No wires, no monitors, just the familiar curves and lines he's settled next to for the past 65 years. There are more angles to her body in some places now. Her elbows and hip bones stick out. Ana had always been slender, but age and illness had made her arms and legs look frail and bird-like. Breasts and stomach that were once so taut and smooth, now wrinkled and sagging. Lines, marks, scars, moles and wrinkles tell the tales of years of bearing and raising his children, illnesses she's suffered and recovered from, and that which she's succumbing to now that they're no longer strong enough to keep up the fight. Christian doesn't mind. His own body tells a similar tale - scars from his battles with heart disease and the removal of his gall bladder, flab and sag where once was firm and taut, more grey than copper on his head, loose skin and the ravages of time borne proudly on his face and body. They've both lived full lives, rich with joy, but also strong from battles fought, stresses, pain, and misery endured and overcome. Through it all, their love has remained steadfast and true - evolving, growing, deepening as the years passed.
"Hello Mr. Grey."
"Hello Mrs. Grey."
"It's been a lovely day, hasn't it?"
"Yes. Always so nice to see the kids and grandkids."
"And the great grandkids!"
"Yes. I hope it wasn't too much for you."
"No, Christian. It was perfect."
"Are you comfortable my love?"
"Yes - so much better without all the tubes and wires attached. Thank you for arranging this."
"The nurses are just a button press away if you need anything."
"Don't leave me Christian!"
"Never! I'm staying right here."
Christian tenderly wraps his arms around his wife and buries his face in her snowy white hair. It's much thinner after all the treatments, but still smells of jasmine. Her care aide helped her bathe and wash and brush her hair before their family arrived for visits. They had opted to stop all treatments and measures, and to just keep her comfortable. Ana was just so tired, and together they decided to just let nature take it's course. They called all of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to their bedside for a final goodbye. Though it was a sad occasion, in true Grey style, the evening was full of love and laughter. Teddy, a grandfather himself, had given a speech thanking his mother and father for the years of guidance, and support. It echoed the speech Christian gave at his mother and father's during one of their final family dinner parties. It gave the evening a sense of completion, that all had come around full circle.
"Georgia's new boyfriend seems nice."
"He's got a number of speeding tickets under his name, though. I'm not impressed with his recklessness."
"How would you know about that?"
"I've got my sources..."
"You'd think your stalker tendencies would have diminished with age."
"More family equals more people to protect, my dear. Besides, I've learned to delegate over the years."
"Teddy and his Joseph having their own security teams is not delegation and has not decreased your need for control. You've still got a finger on everyone's business!"
"Old habits die hard," Christian chuckled.
"I did not like Raymond's hair."
"I know, I wasn't fond of the style myself," smiled Christian. "Phoebe has been on Raymond's case about it, as has his father, mother, uncle, great-aunt... No one seems to be a fan of it, but you know how kids are. Teddy was the same way. Remember the bleaching and shaving incident?"
Ana snickers. "Oh, he hated his hair. I don't understand why. It's such a beautiful shade of copper."
"It was... Bet he misses it now!"
"Well, he's always been headstrong, like his father. I suppose that's carried on down to Raymond's generation!"
"Like his father?" jokes Christian, playfully.
"Yes. I've always been the epitome of patience and diplomacy," Ana says with a wink.
"Even when mini peanut butter cups are concerned?"
"You ate the WHOLE DAMN BAG! I didn't have ONE!"
"Cmon, that was pretty funny..."
"What, re-wrapping each one around a chunk of newspaper to make it look like there were still intact chocolates in the package? That was evil, Grey. Fiendishly clever, but most certainly evil."
"Wasn't that the first time we switched and you dommed with me?"
"Certainly not the last. But you deserved every lashing you got after that! Depriving a pregnant woman of her chocolate. I should have doubled your punishment!"
"I saved you!"
Ana swats Christian playfully on the arm. "Definitely should have doubled the punishment."
Their laughter shook the bed until Ana started coughing.
"Do you think there'll be a red room in heaven?"
"I'm hoping so!" chuckled Christian stroking Ana's back until the coughing subsided. "It wouldn't be heaven for us without one, don't you think?"
Ana sighed, snuggling closer into Christian's embrace. "I know I've said this a million times, but I'm so glad Kate got sick that day of your interview."
Christian smiled. "Me too. One fateful fall into my office, and look where we are now!"
"Would you have done anything differently, Christian?"
"With us? Our marriage? Our lives?"
"No. I know we've had our moments - "
"Your stalking. Control-freakishness. The mood swings."
"Ahem - your recklessness, your disregard for your own health and safety, your smart mouth!"
Ana smiles into Christian's shoulder.
"But no. I'd not change anything for the world. You saved me, Ana. You gave me a heart, and a reason to love. You gave me beautiful children, and a reason to come home at night."
"The kinky fuckery?" Ana giggled.
"Everything. Kinky fuckery included. It's never been more apparent as now, when our bodies are failing, and we are all but dust - how strong our love is. What has endured goes far beyond the physical attraction and passion I've felt for you. It's what burns inside me, and has kept me going for the past 65 years. You are my heart, Ana. My world. My soul. My light. My life."
Tears welled in Ana's eyes. "You are my everything too, Christian. I adore you. I will always love you."
Christian tipped Ana's chin up and placed a sweet, gentle kiss upon her lips. They paused, looked into each other's eyes - grey to blue - and kissed once more. Deeper, and more soulful, pouring every ounce of love they felt for one another into that junction.
They remained silent for a few moments, listening to the peaceful silence that enveloped the room.
"Here," Christian replied, pulling the comforter around her shoulders. "I'll keep my arms around you too."
"I'm scared, Christian."
"Don't be. I'll be right here. I'm not leaving you."
"I promised I wouldn't leave you. And yet..."
"No, Ana. We'll be together again soon. You need to rest, love."
"I tried to keep going. I'm just so tired..."
"I know, love. shhhh. Just rest now. You always think of yourself last. Just rest now."
"When I go, will you start dating again?"
"What? Ana, I'm 95 years old. No, I will not start dating again. You will always be the only one I love,"
"What about Mrs. Nelson?"
"The widow down the hall?"
"Yes. She seems nice. I think she was a brunette once. And I think she's got her eye on you."
"Ana, she's got a glass eye. She was probably just eyeing up the last banana in the fruit bowl!"
"Christian, I just want you to be happy."
"I will be perfectly happy biding my time until I can be with you again. Don't worry about me."
"Don't use my death as an excuse to go crazy with the sweets. Your diabetes and blood pressure..."
"Oh, but what a way to go..."
"I will HAUNT you Christian, And not in a playful "Casper the Friendly ghost" kind of way.
"How about a sexy ghost vixen kind of way?"
"No. Think "The Shining."
"No ghost nookie then?"
"Damn. I'll be good then."
They are silent for a while.
"It's like whenever we would be on the phone or Skype. 'You hang up.' 'No, you hang up!'"
Ana giggles. "I don't want to fall asleep yet. But I can't keep my eyes open."
Christian relishes the sound of his wife's laugh.
"Just rest now, love." Christian repeats, stroking her hair.
They eventually fall asleep, limbs and bodies entwined as they have countless times before, save for the numerous nights in hospital and in the previous care home. This hospice, however, finally afforded them the comforts of home once again, and the ability to spend their final days together in a much less clinical setting.
Christian woke with the sun's first rays the next morning. In dawn's stillness, he realized his wife was no longer breathing next to him. Her body was still warm, but cooling. She looked so peaceful, the most he'd seen her in years. No pain creased her brow. It was almost as if she were sleeping. Silent tears fell from his eyes. He pressed his lips to her forehead, them to her lips, his own final goodbye. He was relieved she was no longer in any pain, her painful, arduous fight against her lengthy disease was finally over.
He remained with his arms wrapped around her, closed his eyes and fell back to sleep. The care aides found the couple still in that embrace later that morning. Christian had died an hour after his wife. Both slipped away quietly and peacefully. Their family was not surprised. It seems the loss of his one true love also meant that the sole reason his heart kept beating was also gone. Their love carried on in their children, and their children's children.
And somewhere, in an obscure corner of the afterlife, a slim, brown haired beauty with piercing blue eyes, and a copper-haired, grey-eyed gentleman dined on oysters and macaroni and cheese in a dark red, flogger-lined room.