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Luxury Amenities

2020

It was common knowledge within the town that the mayor had his own small inn, hidden somewhere within the city limits.

Jeremy wasn’t sure why that tidbit of information suddenly popped into his head, but there it was.

It was a whole big debacle. The mayor had started preparing it in secret and when Jeremy’s parents found out there was a whole argument over the mayor stealing their customers right out from under them. The mayor managed to calm them down, and not much was heard about his inn after that, just that he had one...somewhere.

13 years later and Jeremy almost wishes his parents were right. If their inn had failed, then maybe he wouldn't be busting his ass now, while everyone around him either moved on to college in the next town over, or, even worse, came from the next town over just to gawk at all the small town folk.

It wasn’t that he had some bone to pick with his parents, or anything like that. This was their business, they’d worked hard to bring it up from nothing, but that was exactly the problem. It was their business, Jeremy didn’t feel particularly connected to it at all, though he knew he would be betraying them if he was ever honest about that.

Jeremy sighs and sorts the cash out on his bed for easier counting. His parents treated him comparatively well for free labor, or, at least, they treated him as well as they could. Business was afloat, not soaring, but he still got a tidy little paycheck for himself.

It wasn’t enough for him to really do much with though. He didn’t really have any hobbies, the inn didn’t give him very much free time save for a few hours late at night, and he definitely didn’t have enough money to indulge in the next town over. Even if he did, he wasn’t really sure he’d be keen to take a day trip anyway. Anything could happen while he was gone, and he might just have to pack up all his fun and head back if there was an emergency.

On top of that, the idea of maybe checking out a nice city inn made him feel...dirty. He could just imagine his parents’ disapproval looming over him like a storm cloud the whole time, and that hardly seemed like fun. Maybe if he spun it a certain way, told them it was to scope out the competition or something like that?

Jeremy shakes his head slightly as he keeps counting. That would just be work still, hardly a vacation.

The mayor’s inn pops into his mind again. To be honest, he didn’t know much about it. Folks around town mentioned that he had an inn, but that’s about where conversation stopped. No one ever spoke about what it was like to actually go there, and it seemed like no one cared enough to find out.

Maybe the whole debacle with Jeremy’s parents scared people into not going out of loyalty or something, or maybe the mayor’s inn was just bad, but either way, it didn’t seem like he’d closed it down or anything.

Jeremy lies back on his bed, letting the fan cool him down as he gathers his thoughts.

That might be his ticket then. If it was a poor experience, then he wouldn’t feel like he was hurting his parents by going, and if he came back with a funny story or two, it might not feel like such a waste of money either.

Resolve hardened, Jeremy sits up and splits his earnings into two piles. One goes back into his savings tin, and the other in his wallet. The amount his wallet looked like overkill, but Jeremy had a general idea of how much was reasonable for a night at an inn and who knew how much the mayor was charging to make his business so ostracized in the first place.

Plus if the experience was better than expected, then he could tip. Civic duty and all.

Jeremy tucks the wallet away in his bedside drawer and grabs his apron from where it’s hanging next to his bedroom door. He had one more shift left before the weekend and sometime during all that he needed to get his parents’...acknowledgment, if not their full tacit approval.

“Glad to see you,” his mother says, clapping him on the shoulder with a calloused hand covered in flour from the bakery. “We need cleanup in the dining room, be polite to any stragglers.”

“On it,” Jeremy says, easily slipping into work mode as he pulls up his sleeves and heads to the big room at the end of the hall.

The composure leaves him almost instantly the moment he opens the door and his heart jumps into his throat. Speak of the devil...

The mayor is sitting at the table by his lonesome, finishing off the rest of his whiskey in one of the inn’s complimentary robes. From the looks of all the dishes on the table and all the chairs in disarray, it looks like Jeremy just came in at the tail end of a meeting.

The mayor sets his glass on the table with a thump and smiles up at Jeremy.

In that moment, he realizes just how beautiful the mayor is.

Of course, this was something he already knew on a purely intellectual level. Like everything alse about him, his appearance too was shrouded in rumors, rumors that Jeremy heard constantly growing up.

He was blessed by the gods, they’d said. It wasn’t a full blessing, they also said, a useless excuse to handwave the fact that one of his eyes was still a completely mundane shade of brown, but — well, the rest of him spoke to the truth of it. He was blessed with an eye of solid gold and a continual supply of the precious metal in the form of his own hair, neatly-sectioned into several long braids.

(This meant that his appearance was constantly brought up in the Great Inn Debate. Why want for a new avenue of wealth when the mayor was already blessed with an endless supply of it?)

Still, this wasn’t the only source of the mayor’s beauty. A slender body with skin like obsidian, wrapped cozily in one of the inn’s soft black robes with the dip of his collarbone peeking out just above, full lips, and a genuinely friendly disposition that belied the grace and cunning of a panther.

“You seem distracted,” the mayor says and Jeremy realizes that he’s been staring for longer than is socially acceptable.

“I— sorry,” Jeremy says, quickly reaching for a few plates. And then, as if he hadn’t already dug a deep enough hole for himself: “I was just thinking.”

The mayor’s smile only grows broader as he rests his chin in his hand.

“May I?”

There was no use in going back now. Jeremy sighs, his professionalism sinking back in as he accepts that this is where the conversation is going and continues to clear the dishes. He might as well, this would be a fine time to dig for answers without anyone else around.

“I should be asking the same of you,” he says, glancing up at the mayor for half a second to gauge his reaction. “I was thinking about your inn.”

The mayor brightens up instantly and Jeremy feels something akin to relief at the sight. It would surely be bad for business if he made a misstep and ticked the mayor off.

“Are you interested in coming? Well, it doesn’t matter, you can come at any time provided it’s not crowded. Though that shouldn’t be a problem anyway, not many people seem to care about the hot springs, but I’d even say they’re as rejuvenating as our own seas. Oh, and the whole thing is completely free and self-service, replenished every morning, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with staff unless there’s an emergency—”

None of these things sound like they’d be remotely healthy for an inn’s business, but the mayor seems so happy to talk about it that Jeremy doesn’t have the heart to bring it up.

He gives the mayor’s whiskey a free top-up, the least he can do in return for the information, and leaves the dining room with a cart full of empty dishes and a map to the mayor’s inn, scribbled on the napkin tucked in his shirt pocket.

Jeremy doesn’t mention the mayor’s inn when he talks to his parents about taking the weekend off.

He didn’t see the need to. By the mayor’s own account it was hardly an inn but a rest stop...granted one that was tucked away in the deepest woods, and if there was an emergency Jeremy would have his phone on him anyway.

According to the map, the start of his short trip was somewhere in the park, a narrow trail marked by an oddly-placed street lamp, hidden beneath two bushes that were happy to part for Jeremy to get through to the other side.

From there the path was paved with a trail of flat rocks, a sign that he was certainly on a path if not the right one, and led only a short, but circuitous distance over a small bridge spanning a little creek and up to a natural ramp leading to the next set of cliffs marked with another streetlamp.

At the top, the space opened beautifully into a large clearing, paved with wood — something which must’ve taken ages to do — and lit by moonlight dappled through the forest’s canopy. While it was certainly lovely and Jeremy could already feel the tension leaving his muscles, he was retroactively embarrassed that his parents got into an argument with the mayor over something so...simple.

From where he was, Jeremy could already hear the gushing water of the hot springs on the other side of the clearing, just out of sight. But judging from the rest of the “inn”, there wouldn’t be much hoopla around it.

There was a small shack on either side of Jeremy, and at his left hand, a little brochure stand with a small map and some instructions. These instructions were still just as mind-boggling as what the mayor mentioned at the inn, but now that he was here, he was more willing to relax into the atmosphere and just roll with it.

The brochure points him towards the building on his right first — or, that is, several small windowless buildings organized in two short rows of three, at the end of which were little cubbies. In each cubby was a wicker basket, and in each wicker basket were two towels, a robe for sleeping in and walking around the facility, small bars of soap, and tiny bottles of shampoo.

More importantly however, was the key on the bottom of the basket, woven in amongst the wicker and almost nonexistent to someone who hadn’t read the brochure prior to this moment. Said key not only unlocked one of the little buildings, which contained a bed and place to drop his things, but also opened the door to the building to left of the entrance, which was, as the mayor had stated, a small cafeteria and sitting area of sorts, with warm pre-portioned meals lovingly put out in the mornings and evenings for visitors to take as they pleased.

Jeremy grabs one of the dishes and gets comfy in one of the wicker chairs in the corner. On the little table next to him is one of those cheap portable radios. Jeremy sets it to the oldies station he’d normally be listening to if he was working his shift at the inn tonight, but then thinks better of it and shuts it off.

He already felt a little guilty being here, but those feelings were gradually fading as he got used to the odd setup of the mayor’s inn. It was so unlike anything he’d ever known that it was hard to feel like he was going behind his parents back or anything. Besides, when was the last time his mom actually cooked food for the inn instead of relying on the chef, or his dad actually did repairs instead of calling the handyman? They might not have been as organized as some of the hotels in the next town over, but they were slowly but surely moving away from that homegrown operation Jeremy knew from his childhood.

Anyway. The meal is simple: Salisbury steak, mixed rice, and a bean salad. Normally, Jeremy wouldn’t care too much, unless it was bad, but something about eating food made by the mayor’s hands made him feel...giddy on the inside, like getting candy from a cute girl on Valentine’s day. Of course it was hardly the same, anybody could come and take this food, and saying he could “feel the love put into it” would be as asinine as it was incorrect.

He had fallen for the mayor’s vaguely unearthly charms and was feeling emboldened by the fact that he had received positive attention from such a person, and now he was reading too much into things.

...Maybe it was time for him to go cool off.

Or heat up as it were. He leaves his clothes back in his little cabin and shuffles over to the wash station in his robe, the wicker basket and key tucked safely under his arm.

He washes off quickly at one of the little stations outside of the springs, then carefully balances the basket on his head as he steps into the bathing area. There are four pools, and according to the brochure each one has a different effect, but Jeremy skips the pondering and just shuffles his way into the closest one.

He didn’t know about rejuvenation or minerals or anything like that, but he was certainly starting to feel much better after a few moments. The soreness in his muscles seemed to just melt away, and Jeremy didn’t realize how much work he’d been putting in at the hotel until just now.

Jeremy almost feels calm enough to take a little nap. Almost. He can’t help but remember that he’s roaming around in the middle of the woods with no one else around for miles, and it taints his relaxed demeanor with unease. For every moment he sits back or slouches further into the pool or lets out a blissful sigh, he sits back up again to scan the treeline.

Finally, he can’t stand it anymore, and gets up to leave, carefully taking the wicker basket from his head. Maybe he’d feel calmer if he bathed in the daylight, and perhaps he could get away with being a little late to his morning shift. Besides, he was a bit curious about what the mayor would have prepared for breakfast.

As he climbs out of the bath, his eyes scan the treeline again, looking for whatever threat would come to take advantage of his vulnerability. For the moment, there was none, and even worse, if there was, Jeremy was at a disadvantage. The hill sloped downward behind the line of trees, and he’d have to creep to the very edge if he wanted to reliably spot any intruders. Even if he wanted to run, his only option was to turn back the way he came and stumble down a steep flight of stairs, or otherwise take his chances in navigating through the forest himself.

Still, he probably wouldn’t get any peace of mind if he didn’t do a proper assessment. He quickly dons his robe and creeps out as close as he can to the edge of the “inn”. The foliage is light enough that he can see somewhat clearly into the distance from where he is. There are a few small birds getting comfy in the canopy, and some rodents skittering about, but nothing as big and dangerous as a person.

Nor was that a possibility. On this side of the inn, the cliffs were a sheer drop — no one was coming up unless they had the equipment and time to waste.

Satisfied, Jeremy rises from his crouch, only to pause when he notices a bit of color out the corner of his eye.

Jeremy swears under his breath. This was turning out to be more of a pain than he anticipated, but he humors himself and adjusts his position for his own peace of mind.

It seemed that the glimpse he saw wasn’t a stress-induced reaction. From his vantage point, he could see what looked like a red panel along with many others like it. While odd, at least it wasn’t a human being, though there was a street lamp nearby. Perhaps his vantage point looked out over a secluded area in the park on the level below, or maybe there was another part of the inn he wasn’t privy to just yet.

Both the mayor’s napkin and the diagram in the brochure gave evidence to the contrary, though the brochure did make some mention in fine print about other free services being available.

At this point, Jeremy wanted nothing more than to scurry back to his room and hide out for the night, but he knew he’d never go to sleep with something like this weighing on his mind.

He heads back only to change and grab his phone, then starts scoping out the perimeter of the mayor’s inn, the phone’s flashlight pointed at his feet.

There was another set of stairs, this one hidden, save for the streetlamp at the base of it, the same one Jeremy had seen from the perch above. Carefully, Jeremy makes his way down the steep staircase and along the path, this one sparse and marked with the occasional flat stone.

He isn’t walking for very long before he notices how quiet the forest is, almost completely devoid of the typical organic soundscape. No...it’s noticeably duller, like it’s only him and the path and the rest of the world is behind a transparent quilt. Without any other stimuli, the sound of his own breathing and his footfalls on the path are loud enough to give him a headache, but he doesn’t have to suffer for long.

The same red panels he saw earlier appear, flanking either side of the now paved path, along with several clay pots.

Freebies? Jeremy thinks as he steps closer.

There are certainly objects in the pots, all of them rather colorful, but Jeremy’s eye is drawn to the screen instead. From above he believed it was a dark red, but up close he can see that it’s actually solid red, with black text written on it.

He has neither the time nor the light to decipher it, but he can make out very clearly, in large font: FREE USE.

What that could possibly mean, Jeremy has no clue, and no doubt his only means of finding out would be to continue down the path. There are more pots and more signs, their influence on Jeremy almost hypnotic as he turns around the bend in the path.

What greets him is the mayor, though perhaps in the most unexpected position possible.

His golden locks are pulled up into two buns, and he’s wearing nothing, or at least that’s what it looks like at first glance. In truth, he’s wearing a gown made of a material so form-fitting and translucent that it appears that there’s nothing covering his smooth, dark skin, save for a spray of faux flowers around his ankles and forearms.

He’s lying curled up on his side on the black silk sheets of a king-size bed. He looks...peaceful, eyes shut and lips parted, but face otherwise unmarred as he dozes. It would be easy to believe that Jeremy had stumbled onto the fae king in his slumber, but such a serene image was tarnished by the line of FREE USE panels looming behind the bed, the suspicious pots on either side, and the camera mounted on a tripod and aimed squarely at the bed.

Jeremy swallows and angles his phone flashlight at the surrounding trees, hoping to catch a glimpse of whoever set this up. He barely begins his sweep of the perimeter when the mayor yawns and sits up, a smile on his face as he locks eyes with Jeremy.

“There you are. I was hoping you would come down to see me.”

Jeremy blinks and points at himself.

The mayor smiles patiently and nods, beckoning Jeremy over with a crooked finger.

“Who else?” the mayor says, grabbing onto Jeremy’s arm as he comes closer to the edge of the bed. “I mean, I’m grateful for every visitor who stumbles upon the inn, and I do enjoy the company of whoever finds me down here but...You were one of the few people who asked me about it openly, so I guess I got a little excited hoping you would come.”

The mayor seems almost bashful about it as he guides Jeremy onto the bed, and Jeremy can feel the heat coloring his cheeks as he joins him, kneeling on top of the sheets. He feels like he’s in middle school again, getting all giddy whenever the most popular guy in his class looked vaguely in his direction, but he manages to snap out of his reverie long enough to ask—

“C-company?”

The mayor ignores him at first, instead grabs the phone out of Jeremy’s hand and takes a selfie with the two of them together.

“Hmm?” he says, handing back the phone and snuggling closer. “You didn’t notice coming in?”

“You mean the signs?” Jeremy says, trying to keep his voice level. “I, uh, didn’t really get a chance to read them. Properly. I just saw that they said ‘FREE USE’.”

“And you didn’t look in the pots either?” the mayor says, his look mildly reproachful as he takes Jeremy’s hand in both of his.

“N-no, sorry. They seemed...colorful?”

The mayor allows himself a small pout before letting all of his irritation out with a sigh and giving Jeremy a peck on the cheek. Jeremy blinks, mind working furiously to process what just happened, on top of trying to clue in to the obvious nature of the situation. The mayor takes advantage of this confusion, and presses his soft lips to the tips of Jeremy’s fingers before slowly trailing his hand down his chest and letting it settle on—

Jeremy’s temperature skyrockets and if this were a cartoon steam would be billowing out of his ears.

The mayor smiles.

Jeremy wasn’t an idiot. He had noticed the mayor’s...penis when he walked into the clearing. Maybe it was the first thing he noticed. It just wasn’t polite to stare is all, and he would be more than happy to staunchly look up at the canopy if the mayor hadn’t gently taken him by the chin and tilted his head down to look properly at it, his hand then slipping to stroke the nape of his neck as Jeremy gazes, absentmindedly licking his lips.

It was nice...to look at. Not that Jeremy had any point of reference beyond his own. He was pretty distant in high school — the last place where he would’ve feasibly had the opportunity — and he kept his eyes on himself and his things in the locker room.

Not that this meant that he wasn’t interested. In penises or those who had them. He just was working at the hotel most of the time instead of working the scene, and even at the hotel he felt unbearably guilty if he even glanced at an attractive customer more than was acceptable.

But if he was being given the opportunity…

Jeremy bites his lip and moves his hand out of the mayor’s grip, moving the palm of his hand along the length of it. The mayor sighs, either from the sensation of the fact that Jeremy was moving of his own volition, and wraps his arms around Jeremy’s shoulders, resting his head on top of Jeremy’s soft black waves.

Normally Jeremy would rankle at that and push him away. It wasn’t like he had a ton of spending money or free time, but carefully maintaining his waves was a quick way to lessen the monotony a bit, make him feel special even if he wasn’t a city boy. At the moment however, he was a bit too distracted to care about even that.

The mayor’s penis was, um, it would be a bit too trite to say it was a ‘godly endowment’ or something like that, but it was impressive. It was long and skinny like he was, longer than Jeremy’s, which wasn’t really saying much, the base of it nestled in a forest of gold hairs. Jeremy rubs his palm down the length of it again, then swipes his thumb over the tip, drawing a moan from the mayor, and making his member swell slightly.

Jeremy moves to do it again, partially out of genuine curiosity, but mostly because this might be one of very few chances he’ll have in the foreseeable future to touch a man like this and fuck if he isn’t going to go for it with everything he has — but the mayor grabs his wrist before he can, tutting as he shakes his head.

“My apologies,” he says pressing a kiss to Jeremy’s temple. “This isn’t about me.”

“Why not?” Jeremy asks, innocently enough, as the mayor gently pushes on his shoulders until he’s lying on his back.

The mayor glances up, trying his best to select the right words.

“It’s not as if it can’t be, I’m just in the mood for a different sort of thrill at the moment.”

The mayor kisses him again, this time fully on the lips, and yet it’s still sweet, devoid of the hunger Jeremy would expect from a meeting like this. After a moment, the mayor finally pulls away, licking his lips with a wolfish grin.

“I’m not expecting you to take me to the hilt right away, you know.”

Jeremy’s face gets hot and he glances away, embarrassed. The mayor chuckles and lifts his shirt, kissing a trail down the dark skin of his stomach before tugging at his waistband.

“May I take a look?”

On instinct, Jeremy snaps his legs shut, but the mayor patiently prises his legs apart, and reaches for the waistband of his pajama pants again.

“I’ve seen quite a bit, Jeremy,” the mayor purrs, eyes locked on Jeremy’s. “I promise we’ll find some way to enjoy ourselves, yes?”

The mayor pauses, and Jeremy realizes he’s waiting on him. He swallows and nods, and the mayor gives his waistband a cheeky pluck before pulling it down to Jeremy’s knees in one full motion.

Jeremy gasps as the cold air hits him, and it turns into a moan as the mayor takes it into his hand and runs his tongue over the tip, temporarily dispelling any embarrassment that might have come from the mayor looking at him to begin with.

“See,” the mayor whispers, his voice almost deafening in the quiet of the woods. “It’s a powerful move, isn’t it?”

Jeremy nods, voice hitched in his throat, and opens the eyes he didn’t realize he’d screwed shut. The mayor is looking up at him, expression almost smug as he starts to stroke the length of Jeremy’s cock. Which isn’t really much movement at all — the head of it just barely peeks out over the top of the mayor’s fist, and his other hand gently massages Jeremy’s balls.

Jeremy almost wants to pull away again, but the mayor doesn’t seem particularly bothered by his size at all — or if he is, he isn’t saying anything. As if to prove this point, the mayor runs the flat of his tongue over his cockhead again, bringing it to full hardness, then lets go of it so he can take it fully into his mouth, eyes shut with an almost serene pleasure as he moans around it.

Jeremy can’t help but mirror the sound, fingers digging into silk sheets and the mattress underneath, as the mayor continues his work, bobbing his head up and down ever so slightly so that Jeremy’s cock is always sheathed in the warmth of his mouth.

He cracks open one eye, the rich brown one, as if to say “You like this, don’t you?”. Jeremy nods again despite himself, as if the mayor was actually asking him a literal question, and the mayor lets out a huff of air through his nose — the closest to a laugh he can give in his position.

He deftly plucks one of Jeremy’s hands from the bed, instead carefully setting it on one of his two hair buns. Once Jeremy properly grips it — at the mayor’s coaxing, of course — the mayor draws up so that only the head of Jeremy’s cock is still in his mouth, his tongue flicking sporadically over the tip as he gives Jeremy a vaguely defiant look.

This wasn’t about the mayor after all. If Jeremy wanted more of what the mayor was offering, he would have to take it himself.

Jeremy swallows, and grips the mayor’s head with his other hand, his hips rolling up ever so slightly as he brings the mayor’s lips back to the base of his cock. The mayor winks, satisfied, then gestures for Jeremy to continue.

And he does, though at the same slow, halting pace — desperate for what the mayor is so willing to give him, but so very afraid of hurting someone he’s...beginning to care for.

Maybe this experience isn’t for Jeremy, really, but the mayor seems satisfied with the treatment — so Jeremy continues on, picking up the pace only so he can indulge the mayor somewhat while getting through it quicker.

Quicker. Jeremy was so very wrong in thinking that was the solution to this. Moving quicker makes it feel better, better than he expected, and of course the mayor is putting in the work on his end, timing the suction and every flick of his tongue with a clockmaker’s precision.

Jeremy bites back a groan. Even he didn’t take this much care when he was satisfying himself, but the mayor seemed to be relishing in rewarding him with such attention. And the more attention Jeremy got, the more he wanted, craved.

In one, unexpectedly blissful moment, the mayor opens his mouth just as Jeremy drops his hips, revealing a long golden tongue wrapped around the length of Jeremy’s stiff member.

Jeremy lets out a broken cry, his body tensing up as— as—

For a second, the mayor’s expression changes into something hungry and desperate, as if he’d been waiting so very patiently and his prize had just been flashed before him. He strikes like a viper, breaking free of Jeremy’s grasp to pin his hips to the bed as he wraps his lips around the base again, throat bobbing as he takes all that Jeremy has to offer and then some.

After sucking Jeremy through his orgasm and all the little ones that came after, the mayor slides off with a pop, licking his lips with a self satisfied expression before leaning in to murmur in Jeremy’s ear, voice still raspy from what just occurred:

“You understand why I’m here now, right? We can do anything you want, and you can show me just how much you’ve been thinking of me, yes?”

Jeremy swallows, gathering his hazy, afterglow-tainted thoughts.

“I...don’t want to hurt you.”

The mayor chuckles at that.

“I’d be more than grateful to you if you were able to find one of my limits.” He presses a kiss to Jeremy’s temple. “Now why don’t you pick something from one of those pots and we can get started in truth?”

Jeremy nods and rises from the bed, stumbling like a foal as he makes his way to the pots he’d previously neglected. Having no knowledge beyond what just transpired and its logical conclusion, Jeremy picks something at random, though when he turns back to the mayor with it, he seems more than pleased with his choice.

He returns to the bed quickly at the mayor’s beckoning, watching with wide hungry eyes as the mayor pulls his gown up and exposes his already slick backside.

Jeremy doesn’t think he’s wanted anything more in his whole life, and he’s so ready to indulge in it when something catches his eye.

He tears his gaze from the mayor for only a moment to turn on the camera positioned at the end of the bed, and the mayor laughs in delight before being cut off by the force of Jeremy’s kiss.


It’s almost supernatural the way Jeremy senses the mayor coming in without even having to look up from the computer at the front desk. Of course that doesn’t mean he looks up right away, he has a role to play still, even if he did manage to negotiate with his parents for more freedom.

He glances up once casually to confirm that yes, it is the mayor, and yes, he is approaching — though his gait is more sluggish than usual. Or it was more like, his gait was sluggish as usual. He was a fast walker, but he certainly did a lot around their little town — even going so far as to handle minor construction projects himself, and by this time of day the toll it took was painfully obvious.

Jeremy frowns at the computer screen while his mother and the mayor chat about the state of things, biding his time until the mayor leaves and then waiting a few moments after.

“Going for a walk,” he says, grunting as he rises from the rickety old office chair.

His mother gives him half a nod and he seizes the opportunity, slipping out to the side veranda and then hopping the fence and disappearing into the woods.

“I’m surprised you limped your way in there,” Jeremy says, once he catches sight of the mayor’s shadow and the glint of a gold nose ring.

The mayor chuckles and steps closer. “Don’t act like you haven’t caused any limping yourself.”

He holds a thumb-drive up between his two fingers and Jeremy’s eyes widen slightly as his cheeks heat up.

“I-I didn’t mean it like that,” he says, as the mayor passes over the thumb-drive and pulls him into a hug, resting his head on top of Jeremy’s.

“Oh, sure you didn’t, but how could I forget? You used up all the storage in my camera and even had the decency to clean up after.”

The mayor is practically purring at the memory, but Jeremy notices the way he shifts his weight to rely on Jeremy more.

Jeremy looks up at him.

“Something the matter?” the mayor asks.

Jeremy says nothing, just crouches down, out of the mayor’s grasp, and scoops him up onto his back, drawing out a surprised laugh.

“What are you doing?” the mayor says, not entirely mad as Jeremy adjusts his grip.

“You seem like you could use a bath.”

After a moment, the mayor settles and wraps his arms around Jeremy.

“I suppose I could. Lead the way, love.”

Jeremy nods, and heads out in the direction of the mayor’s inn.

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