Originally published in The Fix #11, April, 1992 by Amapola Press. Comments from this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be forwarded to the author. Special thanks to Tex for getting it ready for the web.
Sands of Time
# 3 of "Secrets," a series
The sun blazed down unfiltered through a cloudless sky and onto his body as he lay stretched out on the sand. He shifted the arm across his eyes, intent on soaking in the rejuvenating rays. Slow minutes passed where all he was conscious of was the heat and the living sounds of his companion. Life elemental. He flipped onto his back and glanced at his partner. Hutch sat on the blanket next to him, rubbing suntan lotion on his arms and doing a serious study of the bikini-clad bodies within range.
"Do my back, willya?"
Hutch tore his gaze away from the view, sighing. "Yours isn't exactly the back I want to be doing, partner."
"You don't love me any more," Starsky complained, sighing himself when warm hands smoothed lotion over his skin. Hutch was thorough, and the contact felt... good.
"How come you haven't even gone for a swim yet?" the blond asked.
He almost didn't hear the question, his full attention being on the hands. The simple task had almost become a massage, and questions of his own occupied his mind. He'd thought the hard part was over, the realization that he loved his partner far more than he'd ever love anyone else, or even wanted to. More than friend was a given. Now he was slowly realizing that physical feelings might also have to be dealt with. It was a disturbing and frightening thought.
Hutch repeated his question.
"It's been a rough week," Starsky explained. "I intend to laze out until I feel sane again."
"You're gonna be here for one hell of a long time then."
"Very funny." But it wasn't, under the circumstances.
Two voices cut in over Hutch's laughter, the words cutting into his world like a bucket of cold water.
"Hey, Rick, look at the two fags."
"That's pretty gross, man," Rick answered. From the tone of his voice, he could have been referring to something he'd stepped in on the beach, instead of human beings.
Hutch's icy blue stare sent the beach goers scurrying away. But the damage was already done.
"Assholes," Hutch commented mildly, shaking his head.
Unwanted reality had destroyed what little peace Starsky had cultivated. Obviously it had been based on romantic and innocent ideals. Would it be... we be...gross?
To others, at least. Outcasts, or living a lie. Sneaking around, reducing what they'd had into just another cheap affair. Just for sex, sex that he wasn't even sure yet he could himself accept wanting. Could he, would he ever subject Hutch's pure love to such a destructive one?
Feeling sick, he jumped up abruptly. "Decided to take a swim after all," he called over his shoulder. He dared not look back.