AN- My grandad was one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. When I was sixteen my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. The way he took care of her, day in, day out, so loving and patient... I'll never forget it. Not ever.
True love shows itself not when it's easy to give, but when it's hardest.
*title taken from the poem "I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud" by William Wordsworth*
"What's going on? What are you doing?"
That now familiar sick feeling immediately clenched Blaine's stomach. He should have known, should have been expecting it. Their evening had been going so well and it was the longest lucid stretch of time that Kurt had had in weeks. With extreme effort, he kept calm. He had learned by now that the more at ease he was, the more at ease Kurt would be. It had always been that way, after all. It made sense for their dynamic to remain the same... even when Kurt no longer knew him.
Blaine smiled gently at his husband who was sitting in the bathtub, clutching a washcloth over his privates and looking scandalized. He shifted on his knees next to the edge of the tub, pulling his damp hands into his lap in order to make sure Kurt felt comfortable and not threatened.
"I'm helping you take a bath, honey."
"Why are you helping me take a bath?" Kurt whispered with wide eyes, looking mortified. "I don't do things like this normally, you know! I don't let strange men see me naked!"
Blaine chuckled lovingly and moved so that he was sitting instead of kneeling. His seventy-two year old knees were not cut out for kneeling any longer.
"Of course you don't, sweetheart. I'm helping you take a bath because it's hard for you to do it on your own. Your hip bothers you, so I help you sit and stand."
He smiled warmly, desperately hoping that the sadness of the truths he was keeping to himself didn't show in his eyes. Kurt's hip was but a tiny portion of why he was not allowed to bathe alone. The real reason was the fear that Kurt would forget who he was and what he was doing. He might fill the bath with scalding water. He might attempt to shave and cut himself. He might fall asleep in the water and risk drowning. There were a million little reasons why Kurt couldn't be left alone to perform any number of tasks, let alone something as dangerous as bathing himself.
"Why were you washing me then, if you're just here to help me sit and stand?" Kurt asked suspiciously, still clutching the washcloth over himself. It comforted Blaine that what he saw in his husband's eyes was mostly curiosity, even a bit of intrigue. It could be so much worse.
He could be terrified of Blaine, screaming for him to leave the room and believing that Blaine was trying to take advantage of him. It had only happened one other time, but it had been the most awful night since Kurt's original diagnosis. Blaine had sobbed himself to sleep that night, memories of Kurt's distrustful and terrified eyes piercing his mind.
Before Blaine could come up with what he hoped to be a believable and reassuring response, however, Kurt spoke again.
"This isn't," Kurt hesitated, cheeks flushing pink as he bit at his lip. The blue eyes peered at him anxiously- the ones that looked exactly same as they had at the age of seventeen, only now they shone from within soft, beautiful wrinkles. Blaine cocked his head to the side, smiling as he peered right back into those eyes.
"What, sweetheart? What did you want to ask me?"
"This isn't an..." Kurt cleared his throat, attempting to sit in as dignified a position as possible, despite the fact that he was naked in a bathtub. Somehow he pulled it off. "This isn't an affair, is it? Are we... are we having a one night stand?"
Blaine took his time before answering, carefully observing everything about the love of his life. He always did this now before responding. He took in Kurt's tone, his posture, his expression, his body language, and mostly what he was saying without actually saying it. Kurt did that a lot. Thankfully they had been together for over fifty years before Kurt's mind had started to go. That was more than enough time to know every detail of how Kurt generally worked. Granted, the Alzheimer's messed with those things, but in many ways Kurt was still Kurt.
Blaine could see that his husband wasn't afraid in this moment, and that he may even find the idea appealing, though it embarrassed him to no end. He set an open hand on the edge of the tub, silently asking for Kurt's hand.
Kurt chewed at his lip before he carefully placed a wet hand in Blaine's. He blushed and laughed, a bit giddy from his scandalous behavior... holding hands with a strange man while he was naked, only a washcloth keeping him from being completely exposed. The man seemed trustworthy though, and despite his nerves he felt absolutely safe.
"Can I ask how you would feel if this was a one night stand?" Blaine questioned with a sassy smile. Kurt blinked rapidly.
"I-I don't know. I don't do things like that. I'm an innocent baby penguin when it comes to sex!"
Blaine couldn't help laughing at that. It had been a long time since those words had accurately described his husband. In fact, during the course of their marriage, Kurt had become the more daring and vivacious of the two when it came to trying new things in the bedroom. He quickly sobered though, seeing the nervousness in his husband's eyes.
"Are you uncomfortable around me?" Blaine asked softly. "I can help you get dried off and dressed now if you like."
"No," Kurt blushed, keeping his shaking hand in Blaine's. "I'm okay I think. This is just... surprising. I've never really felt... sexy before. I don't understand why you would want to be with me."
He blushed at the word 'sexy' and refused to meet Blaine's gaze for a moment.
"Oh, my love," Blaine breathed, reaching out his other hand to place over Kurt's. "I could name a million reasons why I want to be with you, so easily."
"Well, tell me some of them then," Kurt sniffed. "You've got me naked in a bath, don't you think you owe me some romance before you try to have your way with me?"
Blaine leaned down to kiss Kurt's hand, taking time to caress the soft and wrinkled skin with his lips.
"You are absolutely right."
With a slight groan of discomfort he slowly rose from the floor and moved to sit on the edge of the tub. Kurt watched him warily.
"You're old," he whispered conspiratorially. He looked down at his own body, then moved the washcloth to peek underneath. His eyes went wide.
"Damn! I'm old, too!"
"You're right when you say that I am old. YOU, however, are not. You are simply mature and dignified, as graceful and young at heart as ever."
A delighted smile played across Kurt's lips and he leaned forward to playfully nudge Blaine with his shoulder.
"Now I can see how you managed to get me naked, you smooth talker, you."
Blaine chuckled merrily, leaning into Kurt's shoulder, heart light as a feather. Moments like these were so rare anymore, and he was soaking it up as if he were in the desert and had stumbled across a welcomed oasis.
"Let me see, reasons I want to be with you," he sighed happily, reaching out a hand to stroke Kurt's cheek lovingly, letting his fingers move to trace the shell of his ear. His eyes grew wide and he momentarily panicked when he realized what he'd done. They'd been so comfortable, despite the fact that Kurt's mind was currently gone, that he was treating him like normal. He momentarily braced himself, prepared for Kurt to grow uncomfortable and disoriented. Relief flooded through him when Kurt simply nuzzled against his hand with a shy smile.
He gulped back a lump in his throat though at the look in his husband's eyes. It was the same look that Kurt had worn so long ago, back when they had first started dating, and everything was fresh and new. The look told him that his husband wasn't scared of their connection, that he was even nervously welcoming it. For the moment it was as if they were falling in love for the first time.
The look also reminded him Kurt didn't remember that they had already fallen in love. Fifty plus happy years of marriage were suddenly gone, wiped away as if they never existed.
He closed his eyes, fighting back the sudden flood of emotions.
Don't do this, Blaine. Don't ruin this good moment! Pull it together!
"A-are you okay?" Kurt's voice spoke hesitantly. Blaine opened his eyes to find his husband watching him cautiously, with concern in those bright blue eyes.
"Absolutely," Blaine shot him a wobbly grin. It was stiff at first, and forced, but a gentle squeeze from Kurt's hand broke through and softened him. The smile became genuine and he squeezed back.
He cupped Kurt's hand between his own once more and took a deep breath.
"I want to be with you, Kurt Hummel, because you are one of the kindest, most generous men that I know. Because you are a loving son, brother and friend. Because you are so incredibly talented. Because you are dedicated and loyal and true. Also, because you have an ass that won't quit."
Kurt's eyes had been growing wider with each compliment, but he broke into a gravelly little giggle at the last statement. He craned his neck to peer down behind him and then nodded appreciatively.
"I must say that even old and wrinkly it's not too shabby, is it?"
Blaine threw his head back with laughter and even dared to lean forward, placing a tiny kiss on his husband's head. Kurt blushed but closed his eyes at the feeling, obviously enjoying it.
"I want to be with you," Blaine went on, a bit more seriously now, "because you sew your grandniece a new princess costume every Halloween. Because you insist that you hate dogs, yet I catch you leaving scraps for that runaway when you think I'm not looking. Because every Saturday you insist that we drive through the McDonald's drive through and get twenty breakfast meals, then hand them out to the homeless. Because every year when the Catholic Church down the street has a coat drive you go on a shopping spree for winter clothing and then take all the tags off before turning them in because you insist that giving people actual used items is just plain tacky and selfish. I want to be with you, Kurt, because you are the love of my life, and I couldn't imagine one single day without you."
Kurt stared, eyes wide. Slowly they began to fill up with tears and he took a ragged breath.
"This isn't a one night stand, is it?"
Blaine couldn't help the tears in his own eyes, but he smiled, squeezing Kurt's hand tightly between his own.
"No, sweetheart. It's not. We've been married for fifty years, and they've been the happiest years of my life."
Kurt glanced around the room, looking overwhelmed and lost and scared. He shook his head frantically.
"No, that doesn't make sense! That can't... Fifty... I would remember! How can I not remember?!"
He gripped Blaine's hand desperately, a hot tear running down his cheek. Blaine choked back a sob and fell down to his knees once again with a little grunt of pain. He pulled Kurt into his arms, holding him and rocking him, praying that his husband wouldn't panic and yank away.
"Shhhh, it's okay. It's okay. I promise that what I'm telling you is true, but don't be upset about not remembering, okay? We're getting old, you know? Sometimes our memories just aren't what they are supposed to be. You're forgetting right now, but you'll remember again later. Promise!"
Kurt pulled back, shaking and sniffing back his tears.
"What if I don't?" He whispered in a scared voice.
Blaine swallowed and took his husband's face between his hands, smoothing over each cheek with a thumb.
"Then I will remind you," he spoke in a low voice. "I will tell you about you. I will tell you about me. I will tell you about us. Anything you want to know, anything you've forgotten... I will tell you. I have taken care of you for over fifty years, Kurt. I'm not going to stop now."
Kurt visibly sagged, relief washing over him.
"Thank you," he whispered. "I-... thank you."
"Of course," Blaine gushed, wiping quickly at his own eyes. "I would do anything for you. I love you, Kurt."
Kurt was silent for a moment, nodding his head slowly and blinking away a stray tear.
"I... I love you, too."
Blaine closed his eyes, soaking in the sound of those words. He wasn't sure what exactly had prompted Kurt to say that phrase today, but he hadn't heard it in months. It had a healing affect on his soul like nothing else possibly could. He sighed, opening his eyes once again to smile at his husband brightly.
"Come on. Let's get you out and dried off. The water must be cold." He gently patted Kurt's back, then groaned in pain as he rose to his feet, knowing he would probably have bruises on his knees from where he had crashed to the floor minutes ago.
He flipped the drain on the tub and reached behind him to grab the fluffiest towel they owned from the shelf. Draping it over the front of himself, he leaned down to carefully bring Kurt to his feet via a gentle embrace. Kurt clung to him as he stood, and Blaine knew that it had as much to do with his emotional state as with his fear of falling.
It took a good half an hour for him to dry his husband's skin, gently apply his moisturizer, then help him into the silk, navy pajamas. All the while, Kurt watched him work in silence, helping out when he could, even offering a soft smile on occasion.
Grabbing the stylish cane that was leaning against the wall, Blaine handed it to his husband and they slowly walked into the living room. Blaine settled Kurt down onto the couch before leaving to make some herbal tea, a tradition they had had at bedtime for years before Kurt's illness. One that, oddly enough, Kurt always seemed to remember and ask for. Even that tiny consistency was enough to keep Blaine going some days, to make him smile.
Blaine took his first sip in silence, and it was a moment before he realized that Kurt was clutching his mug with white knuckles, staring off into space dejectedly.
"What's wrong?" Blaine asked, gently patting his knee. Kurt swallowed roughly and turned to his husband.
"Does it make you terribly sad?" He asked in a whisper. "That I don't remember?"
When Blaine only stared in response at first, Kurt broke into tears.
"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! Your eyes are so sad! I wish-"
"No! Oh, Kurt, sweetheart, no!" Blaine burst out. He took Kurt's mug and set their tea on the coffee table before gripping his husband's hands in his own. "I'm the one who's sorry. I should have answered you faster. Of course I wish you could remember, but for your sake just as much as mine. You don't ever have to be sorry, okay? Ever, ever, ever."
Kurt sniffed, nodding slightly but still looking uncertain.
"My love," Blaine stroked his cheek, so thankful that his husband was receptive of the physical contact. "All you need to know is that I am so very happy with you. Taking care of you fulfills my life. I wouldn't want anything else. Okay?"
Kurt nodded again, trembling a bit at the intensity of Blaine's words. His breath hitched in his chest. He was scared, and lost, and confused, and overwhelmed, but this man in front of him was doing everything in his power to make him happy. It was abundantly clear that this man's life mission was to keep Kurt calm, safe and as happy as possible. Nothing else seemed to matter.
Even in his current state, Kurt could understand what a sacrifice that was. How rare and beautiful was this kind of love? This man deserved something. A small token, at the very least.
Closing his eyes, Kurt leaned forward. His heart was racing and his hands were shaking, but it all seemed to slow down the moment their lips connected. Blaine gasped in surprise, but with a joyful little noise he leaned into the kiss, melting against Kurt's lips.
They stayed that way for only a few seconds, but to them both it seemed like an eternity. With heads spinning happily they gazed into each other's eyes as they backed away, Kurt searching for something to remember, something to hold on to, and Blaine trying to memorize this miraculous moment, to imprint it in his mind.
"Tell me," Kurt requested softly.
"Tell you what, sweetheart?" Blaine asked, smoothing back a strand of white hair.
"Tell me about us," Kurt answered, leaning into the touch.
Blaine nodded, slowly at first, then quicker, with determination as he smiled. He leaned back against the couch, pulling Kurt against his shoulder and holding him close.
"Of course, my love. Of course."
He kissed his husband's forehead, breathing him in and reveling in the moment.
"I'll start with the day we met. It all began with a song..."