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I'll feed on your breath

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It takes awhile for Kurt to notice. 

Sebastian works late, which is to be expected, because it’s his first job and he needs to prove himself. Needs to prove that he’s good enough to be there, that he’s a good lawyer, that they didn’t make a mistake when they listened to his father and called him up for an interview. Kurt expects this, knows that Sebastian needs to do this, knows that he has already signed himself up for a lifetime of his partner coming home late, and it’s okay. 

He comes home when Kurt’s on the couch in front of the tv, sometimes long after he’s gone to bed. 

“Hi,” he says, giving Kurt a weak, tired smile, and kisses him. 

“There’s dinner in the kitchen,” Kurt says, and Sebastian smiles again, says “I’ve already eaten,” and Kurt doesn’t think twice about it, because it’s after ten, of course Sebastian ate at the office. 

Then he takes up running. Kurt whines and tries to drag him back when Sebastian slides out of bed before nine am on a Sunday, but Sebastian just pulls his arms back and kisses Kurt on the forehead, promising to make it up when he gets back. Kurt sighs, but falls back asleep before Sebastian is even out of the front door. When he comes back, he hands Kurt a paper bag with chocolate scones and says “I told you I would.” Kurt eats them both while Sebastian’s in the shower, and when he doesn’t even comment on it afterwards, Kurt just assumes it’s a part of the making up. 

Kurt is standing in front of the fridge, trying to figure out if he has the energy to cook, or if they’ll just share the leftovers Sebastian hasn’t touched in the last week, when the front door opens. He glances at the clock on the wall and is surprised. It’s only a little after six. 

“Hey, you’re home early,” he says, stepping out in the hall and grinning at his boyfriend. 

“Yeah, we finished up a big case today,” Sebastian replies, shrugging out of his jacket and crossing the floor to wrap his arms around Kurt. “Hi. I’ve missed you,” he murmurs. 

“Mm, same,” Kurt says, leaning into Sebastian. “Does this mean I’ll get to see a little bit more of you the next few weeks?”

Sebastian stiffens and starts to back away. “Kurt…”

“No, no—” Kurt pulls him back into his arms. “No, I’m not— I understand, you know I do, and it’s not— I’ve just missed you. I’ve missed this.” He squeezes Sebastian’s waist. “Us.”

He feels Sebastian relax again and press a dry kiss to Kurt’s neck. “Me too.”

“So, I was just thinking about dinner, but now that you’re home, I’m thinking we could try out that new place down the street?”

“I was thinking I’d go for a run,” Sebastian says, playing with the hair on Kurt’s neck and not quite meeting his eyes. 

“But it’s Friday,” Kurt says, unable to keep the disappointment out of his voice. He really wants to just be with Sebastian. 

“Just a short one,” Sebastian pleads. “I’ll be quick, I promise, then we can watch a movie? Your choice?”

Kurt sighs. He knows he can guilt trip Sebastian into staying, but he doesn’t want to do it, because they’re not like that. “You never run for less than two hours,” he points out, and Sebastian takes that as the OK it’s meant to be. 

“One hour. And I won’t make fun of your choice.”

“Fine, now go so you can come back.”

One hour turns into almost two anyway, and Kurt has already made popcorn and curled up on the couch when Sebastian finally gets back. He showers quickly and pads out into the living room dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt, hair damp and his skin pleasantly flushed. 

“Leftover’s in the fridge,” Kurt says as Sebastian curls up against him and grabs a blanket to throw over himself. “You should eat.”

“Mm, in a little bit,” Sebastian says, cuddling closer and resting his head on Kurt’s shoulder. 

In a little bit doesn’t happen, because Sebastian falls asleep ten minutes after that, and Kurt doesn’t have the heart to wake him. 

It’s another week later when Kurt finally realizes that something is wrong. They’re having dinner together for the first time in weeks, and Kurt’s been chatting away about his job at the store, when he takes happens to glance at Sebastian’s plate, and abruptly stops talking. They’re having curry chicken with peas and tagliatelle, and while it’s usually a messy dish, Sebastian’s plate is arranged into perfect areas of the different ingredients. It doesn’t look like he’s eaten anything.

Kurt has gotten used to his boyfriend’s different quirks over the years, and he has a fair share of his own, but this is new. It doesn’t sit quite right with Kurt. 

“Sebastian,” he says, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. 

Sebastian looks up. “Hmm?”

“Are you okay?”

“What? Yeah, why?” 

Kurt nods towards where Sebastian is absentmindedly twirling his fork into the tagliatelle, separated from the rest of the food. Sebastian follows his gaze, and seems surprised when he looks at his plate. “Oh. Yeah, I’m— not hungry. Sorry.” He flashes an apologetic smile, and Kurt gives a weak one in return. He doesn’t push, but he doesn’t drop the thought, either. Sebastian is very rarely ‘not hungry’. 

He starts to pay more attention after that. Watches from his place at the kitchen table when Sebastian gulps down a cup of coffee and takes one bite of a piece of toast, grabs an apple, and kisses Kurt on the cheek before heading out. Notices the dark circles under his eyes, frowns at the leftovers that doesn’t disappear from the fridge, tries and fails to get Sebastian to stay in bed on Sunday mornings. 

Kurt has suspicions, and he’s worried, but he doesn’t know what to do. He has tried to ask Sebastian what’s wrong, if there’s something wrong, but he always gets a smile and a shake of the head in return and, well, Kurt trusts him. He needs to trust that Sebastian will tell him if there’s something wrong. 

But he also suspects that Sebastian has been outright lying about eating at the office, because christ, he’s actually getting thinner. The realization should probably hurt, they’re usually brutally honest with each other, but Kurt is too worried to be hurt. He doesn’t know how to confront Sebastian about it, either. 

Opportunity presents itself a few days later. Sebastian is rushing out the door before Kurt is even out of bed, and when he gets up, he realizes that Sebastian forgot his wallet. He keeps his metrocard in his pocket, so if he’s not paying for anything, he won’t miss it at all. Kurt has been itching to go through Sebastian’s credit card bill, but it’s a line he just can’t cross, no matter how worried he is.

He only feels a little guilty when he brings Sebastian’s wallet to work, but it eases for every hour he doesn’t get a call from his boyfriend, asking where it is. He gets home before Sebastian, as usual, but he can’t sit down, can’t relax, so he walks around the apartment picking up things and doing a half-hearted job of cleaning up while he waits. 

Half past ten, he finally hears the lock click. 

“Hey,” comes Sebastian’s voice from the hall, and he sounds so tired that Kurt almost changes his mind, but— he has to. 

“Hey,” he calls back. “There’s dinner in the fridge.”

There’s a beat, and then, “I’ve already eaten.”

“You sure about that?” Kurt’s heart is beating wildly in his chest. 

Sebastian steps around the corner and looks at him. “What do you mean? I’m sure I’ve eaten? Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Where did you go?”

Sebastian narrows his eyes. “The sushi place around the corner. Kurt, what—”

“Did you go alone?”

“No, Kate was with me. Kurt, why are you—”

“Did she pay for you?”

“No! Fuck, what—” Sebastian says something, but Kurt can’t hear him over the rush of blood in his ears. Sebastian is lying. He’s lying, and he’s not even blinking, and it makes Kurt feel so sick with worry and guilt and hurt and anger all at once. He closes his eyes and swallows, takes a deep breath, tries to keep his voice calm when he says “Sebastian,” interrupting whatever Sebastian’s saying. “Please, please tell me what’s wrong.”

Sebastian stares at him. “What? Nothing’s—”

“You forgot your wallet at home,” Kurt interrupts again, his voice soft. He steps closer and reaches out to take Sebastian’s wrist, pulling gently. Sebastian breathes in sharply at that and tenses, but after a moment of hesitation, he steps into Kurt’s arms. He buries his face in Kurt’s neck, and he doesn’t cry, but his breath is shaky and wet against Kurt’s skin. 

“Come on,” Kurt says after a while, and leads him into the bedroom. “Let’s just… talk, okay?” Sebastian doesn’t look at him, but he nods, and undresses quickly before he slides between the sheets. Kurt follows at a slower pace, turning off the overhead lights before crawling in beside him. He reaches for Sebastian’s hand, tangles their fingers together, then looks at him. 

Sebastian opens his mouth to speak several times, but nothing comes out. He grows increasingly frustrated, until Kurt decides to try and help him. “You said— When…” He strokes his thumb against the end of Sebastian’s wrist, tracing the scars. “That it was about control.”

Sebastian breathes out a sigh of relief and nods. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m just— Work, and my mom, and—” He swallows, and Kurt wonders what, exactly is going on with his mom, because he hasn’t told Kurt anything, and fuck, but he keeps quiet, because now is not the time. “It was so easy, and I just—kept going. And I’m spiralling and I know it and I want to stop and I need to stop but I can’t, I can’t, and I’m just— it’s easy, and it feels good, but it isn’t, and I know, but—”

“Shh, come on, breathe,” Kurt soothes, stroking his cheek. “It’s okay.”

“But it’s not,” Sebastian chokes out, reaching up to cover his eyes with his hand. “It’s not, and I know, I know, but I just can’t, and—” He gasps for breath, and Kurt makes shushing noises again, wipes away tears with the pad of his thumb. 

“It’s okay,” he repeats. Sebastian opens his mouth to protest again, but Kurt strokes his bottom lip, shaking his head. “I—I looked into your insurance. It covers therapy.” He swallows. “You—we can’t do this alone. But it’s covered, and you—need to do this. And we’ll be okay. We will be okay.”

“I’m sorry,” Sebastian says, keeping his eyes closed. “I’m sorry, I should’ve—something, I should’ve said something or—”

“No, it’s okay,” Kurt murmurs, cradling him close and stroking his back. “It’s okay.” 

It’s not, really, but they can deal with that later. Together