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While some characters in gen fanworks give each other massages, it is a trope used more commonly in first-time slash and adult het stories as a prelude to sex.

Prevalence in Different Fandoms

In Discovered in a Letterbox, regarding The Professionals, a British fan commented: “... to say a few words on the very American practice of, er, 'The Back Rub', which 'buddies' seem to routinely offer each other. Kirk and Spock did it in public and Starsky and Hutch, too, for all I know, but our men just don't, do they? We may have New Men but it's still a bit too - well, you know... even in private... I am not saying that Doyle wouldn't offer to massage Bodie's back, or Bodie, Doyle's, if necessary; but as far as I know The Back Rub' per se, between mates, is simply Not British - is it, chaps? Doyle seems content to rub his own injured parts (see "Slush Fund") while Bodie usually ensures that his injuries are serious enough to require hospital treatment.” [1]

Some Slash Examples

Harry gives Johnny a massage in Response to October, art by Ruth Kurz
  • Noting that his boss is awfully tense, Mulder gives Skinner a massage in the X-Files story "Comfort and Despair" by Nikita from the zine A Beacon in the Night: "''re wound up tighter than I am,' came a soft, low voice near his ear. Mulder's hands began a slow, but firm massage, finding the knots of tension with sure, strong fingers... Walter wondered somewhere in the back of his mind just where Mulder had learned to give such a good massage before snapping out of his stupor and straightening back into his chair."
  • In "Addiction" by Gena Moretti in First Time #23, after Kirk initiates Spock into the pleasures of a footrub, Spock wants him to show him other “areas of pleasurable sensation."
  • In "Stay the Night" by Ida Vega in Charisma #19, unable to get help from McCoy, Kirk asks Spock for a backrub that leads to a kiss and the realization of his feelings for his First Officer.

Some Het Examples

interior art by Gennie Summers from Two-Dimensional Thinking, Captain Kirk enjoys a bit of relaxation

Some Gen Examples

  • In the Starsky and Hutch story, "Favored Son" by KateCMT, Hutch helps his pal out: "Hutch swore softly. 'Ssh, ssh. I’m sorry, partner. I didn’t mean to bother you. Just take it easy and rest. I’m right here, buddy.' He hugged Starsky a little closer, inhaling a tangle of spicy-sweet sweat, leather and blood. His fingers found the base of Starsky’s neck and began a slow, methodic massage."
  • In the Sentinel story by Arianna, "Now That Larry's Gone...", Blair helps Jim out. "'Just lie down on your stomach,' Blair directed briskly, moving forward to kneel by the side of the bed when Jim did as he was asked... Then, for the next twenty minutes, Sandburg silently worked to loosen tight muscles, easing out the aches, soothing the strain."
  • In the Star Trek: TOS zine, Home is the Hunter, Spock eases Kirk: "I am able to alleviate some of your tension. It would be illogical to resist, but I can call Doctor McCoy if you prefer." Spock took Kirk's silence for acceptance. "Then, I suggest you relax. Allow yourself to concentrate only on the tactile sensations ... focus your thoughts on the area I am touching ... Good ... yes ... " Spock's voice droned soothingly, lulling Kirk to peacefulness. His fingertips worked gradually down Kirk's spinal cord."
  • The Starsky and Hutch novel Postscript by Rebelcat subverts the usual massage tropes: "Hutch's massages bore no resemblance to the very entertaining kind you could sometimes get from certain girls. He went after each knot and twist with single-minded intensity, pressing down hard with his fingers and forcing the muscles to release their tension. The process was remarkably painful, and invariably left Starsky feeling bruised. However, it was also effective. ... By the time Hutch was done, he would have most, if not all, of his former mobility back. He would also feel as if he’d been forced through a garlic press."

External Sources


  1. ^ from DIAL #13