For the first 8 hours of Harold's absence, John has a number to work. The six hours that follow John spends sleeping.
(Well. In bed, anyway.)
He works out for an hour. Food, showering, and some house chores eat another hour. He goes out for a walk, and then there's another number.
By the time John's taken care of it, Harold has been gone for 26 hours. Still twenty two more to go before there's anything else John can do.
"Doubtless you could follow me," Harold said, chin jumping that way he had. "That would be excruciatingly awkward, and I would strongly prefer you focus on the numbers, anyway. However," he said, stalling John's interruption, "I realize that in case of emergencies, I might want your assistance. I suggest a compromise: I should be back in 48 hours or less. In the event that I do not return, you will receive a message informing you of my whereabouts. Will that suffice?"
"Sure," John said, voice hoarse. He was trying very hard not to think about what Harold would need exactly 48 hours away for.
He camps out in the library. Stupid, when Harold isn't there and there isn't even a number to work. Still, it's calming to be there. Like Harold might step in at any moment and put John's life back on track.
John's eyes blink open as he hears his phone ringing.
Not a lot of people have this number. It could be Carter, or Fusco. John's heart hammers as he picks it up.
He knows how long he's been asleep for. He knows who's calling.
The voice is an automated recording, reciting an address. John commits it to memory and walks out of the library with purpose thrumming in his nerves.
The house John arrives at is a small, suburban property, indistinguishable from the houses around it. Scent- and soundproofed, probably.
John's last guess is confirmed when he keys the code to let himself in. He closes the door quickly, before too much of the hormone cloud can waft outside. There's not that much noise, though. Mostly just a strong mechanical whirr and, as John enters the bedroom, heavy breathing.
For a long moment, he thinks Harold may not have noticed him at all. It wouldn't surprise John. Harold is probably distracted.
Harold is lying on some kind of high end chair, a motorized engine plunging a thick dildo into him at a brutal pace. Harold's bare stomach is semen-spattered. His mouth is open, his eyes glassy.
"I apologize, Mr. Reese," Harold says, "for the circumstances of this meeting." His voice is thick, and his speech is slower than it usually is, words carefully enunciated.
John's keeping himself still, trying not to breathe too deeply. "No need to apologize," he says. If he lets himself think of Harold's scent--
John doesn't. "What do you need?" he says instead.
Harold gives a frustrated sound that might be a moan. A clear droplet beads on the head of his hard cock. "If I knew that, I probably wouldn't still be here."
"I'll see what I can do," John says. He's close enough to touch Harold, now; he's not sure when this happened.
"Please do," Harold says, and his eyes slip shut.
Touching Harold is a little like doing fieldwork with an untreated bullet wound. John can work, so long as he sets aside the part of him that feels.
John stops the fucking machine, ignoring Harold's whimper. Evidently it's not helping: worse, as John inspects Harold's opening, he sees that it's more swollen than heat should warrant. Irritated by friction, probably - and primed to require even more friction to get off.
Harold's plenty wet, either by his own steam or with the help of a bottle of lubricant John can see close to hand. John takes the bottle and pours a liberal amount over his own hand. "I'm going to inspect you," he says, sounding distant to his own ears.
Harold muffles the noise he makes as John takes out the dildo and pushes two fingers inside Harold. "No tears," John says, as much to distract himself as to keep Harold in the loop. "That's good."
"John," Harold says, low and urgent. "John, please."
John nods, dazed. He takes out his fingers, puts in three; then withdraws and pushes four fingers inside Harold, just enough to fill him. Harold tightens around him erratically, chest heaving, slick with sweat.
"You can do this," John says softly. "Come on."
"I am beginning to have doubts-- ah!" Harold yelps when John closes his mouth on Harold's dick, sucking hard. Harold writhes under him, wet and needing and open.
It's still not enough. The knowledge of this feels like it's going to drive John mad. He flexes his fingers, rubbing Harold inside. Harold's muscles tense beneath him, then go limp, even as Harold emits a frustrated whine; fatigue, not relief.
"All right," John says, and withdraws once more, drizzling lube all over his hand. He waits another moment to make sure his hand is steady. Then he tucks his thumb and starts pushing inside Harold.
Harold, when John can steal a glance at his face, is staring at the ceiling. His face is wet. Probably best not to wonder if it's sweat or tears.
He takes John in, his body soft and accepting, the tightening of Harold's internal muscles only minute flutters around John's knuckles. That's probably part of the issue: Harold's body has lost ability to resist - or to push itself past the threshold of heat. John will have to either startle Harold into a stronger response, or to carry Harold all the way there himself.
John doesn't like the look of either choice's odds.
Heat can't last forever, this is true. If John can't snap Harold out of heat, eventually Harold will collapse and wake up feeling a manageable degree of sore and horny. However, John does not want Harold to spend the next month with the low-level aches and distraction that come from an unfulfilled heat. Hopefully John can do something about that.
Harold makes soft, lost noises as John's fist rocks inside him. John needs to do what he can now, before Harold needs even more penetration.
John's eyes settle on Harold's nipples, pink and puffy with heat. He pinches one with his free hand, gratified when Harold moans and shifts and drips more pre-come. "Harold. Can you take care of these for me?" He brings Harold's hand to the other nipple by way of example.
A dull red flush colors Harold's cheeks, but he has both hands on his chest now, pinching his own nipples. Harold's internal muscles clutch John that much tighter.
"Good," John murmurs. "Good."
At the sound of John's voice, Harold tightens briefly. John closes his eyes, composing himself; then he opens them, holding Harold's dick without giving him friction. He needs to pace this, be careful with timing, or he'll never bring Harold off.
"You're very open, Harold," John says. Harold blushes harder, and spasms around John's wrist in him. "I have my entire fist in you, you realize that? I wonder what else I could put in if I needed to."
Oh, Harold reacts to that, all right.
"My knot wouldn't even be a challenge at this point," John says. "I don't know if you could even hold on to it; as loose as you are. That might be fun, fucking my knot into you freely. Would you like to try that?"
Harold makes a choked moan.
"I'll take that as maybe," John says. He twists his hand inside Harold. "Don't worry, I'll give you what you need. Kind of a major heat you're having; it'll probably take you a while to come back to yourself. I bet it would be days before you needed any kind of prep at all for someone to fuck you."
Harold's gaze flies to him, suddenly sharp. "John," he rasps out.
It's a delicate balance. He really doesn't want to spook Harold, or to hurt him; but neither does John want to lose the precarious ground he's won. "Would you like that?" John says. "Tell me."
Harold swallows. He must be parched. "Yes," he says, finally.
"We could share a bed," John says, voice low and inviting. "I could turn you over and slip my fingers into you, any time. Won't that be nice?" Harold moans, his cock dripping. "Sounds like you want that. You know what you have to do to get it, don't you?"
"John," Harold says, hoarse and urgent. "John, please."
The word is like a razor over John's skin. He ignores the way his heart wants to burst from his chest. "You don't have to beg," John says. "You just have to come for me. Not as hard as you can; a little harder than that. I believe in you."
For a moment, Harold's mouth twists as if to say, Really?
John leans forward, getting in Harold's face. There's no way Harold can keep from smelling him, alpha musk and sweat. "My knot, my fingers, toys, anything you want, Harold. Any time. Just pull yourself together and come. For. Me." He punctuates the last few words with vicious jabs of his hand, at the final word stroking Harold's cock firmly.
Harold's climax is almost dry, only a few droplets escaping; Harold is silent, face frozen wide-mouthed, his muscles locked. He tightens painfully around John's wrist. "Good," John whispers to him. "Good, you're doing great."
When finally Harold goes limp all over, John slowly extracts his hand. Harold doesn't wince. He doesn't respond at all, lost in post-coital euphoria.
John needs to get a reaction out of him, needs to make sure Harold is okay, but all he can see is where Harold is wet and red and open, and before John can stop himself he's undoing his pants, wrapping a shaking hand around his half-formed knot.
"You could come inside, you know."
John startles at the sound of Harold's voice. It's barely recognizable.
Harold keeps talking. "You were right. I'd hardly feel it. It might not be an improvement over your own hand, but I thought I'd offer."
"Harold," John says helplessly. He should argue, he should stay where he is, but his body is pulled toward Harold's like a star into a black hole, and moving inside Harold takes no effort at all. John's knot catches at Harold's rim, weakly enough that John knows he could pull out if he needed to.
He doesn't. He doesn't need to move, doesn't need anything but Harold's warmth and scent. He stays still, pulsing his come inside Harold's body.
John wakes up stiff and with vague memories of carrying Harold to bed. John's fingers are warm, and wet.
"I wasn't aware you were so literal in your intentions," Harold says, with blatantly fake irritation. Harold's entrance pulses around John's fingers.
"I'm sorry," John says, too giddy to be anything of the kind. "Are you sore?" He accompanies the question with gentle rubbing motions, trying to get the lay of the land by feel.
Harold is quiet for a moment, then he huffs. "Not enough, apparently." He turns towards John, his erection poking John in the thigh.
"We'll have to see what we can do about that," John says, smiling wide enough to make his face ache.