Consequences (Professionals story)

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Fanfiction
Title: Consequences
Author(s): Tarot & A.N.Other
Date(s): 1982 or before
Length:
Genre:
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links: Online Version at the Circuit Library

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Contents

Consequences is a Professionals slash circuit story written by Tarot[1] & A.N.Other in the 1980s. It is responsible for creating The Game trope in Professionals fandom.

It was a story many fans found troubling and offensive when first written, and most fans feel the same today.

It is a significant story in the history of the fandom, because of the controversy it generated and because of the number of stories spawned directly from it or using the concept in one way or another. It is also notable in that fans are still discussing it today.

One fan says: "...I've never seen this story "recced" anywhere as a "good story to read", although I have seen people recommend reading it as a part of fandom history, because it spawned a huge reaction to the extent that many people wrote sequels to negate the story, and because people are clearly still talking about it today. I do think it's important to read it in the context of the whole fandom response though, rather than as a one-off story that in any way represents Pros fandom (or did at the time) because it clearly never did." [2]

The Story

The story's main premise is that Bodie's (canonical) mercenary background included a (decidedly non-canonical) "Game" -- to relieve sexual tension, the mercenaries would fight each other, winner take all. This was the only way Bodie knew how to have m/m sexual relations, so in the story's present-day, when he finds himself unexpectedly attracted to a particularly vulnerable (drunk and maudlin) Doyle, he reverts to Game techniques, beats the crap out of Doyle, and rapes him. Later that night he realizes that perhaps that wasn't his best move, and attempts to mend fences with Doyle by seducing him, which works -- sort of. Eventually they wind up in a relationship that's based on a struggle for emotional dominance, with each of them truly wanting the other but neither willing to admit to it, or to any softer feelings.

The Story Behind The Story

The story behind the story is that Tarot and AN Other were writing partners during Starsky and Hutch's heyday - (early to mid 80's) - writing both gen and slash. Tarot migrated into writing Professionals slash stories. AN Other, however, couldn't see any way Bodie and Doyle could ever have a sexual relationship unless it was rooted in violence and wrote "Consequences" to underscore that point. Tarot had a different view, and attempted to "salvage" the story by rewriting the ending, to allow for a potential happier ending.[3][4]

At the 1988 ZebraCon, AN Other explained her thinking behind writing "Consequences": She wrote as far as the scene where Bodie goes downstairs (after the rape) and has a sandwich, can't finish it and puts it on top of the fridge. She stopped writing after that scene, as the only probable response (and ending) to the story, was to have Doyle wake up, take up his gun and shoot Bodie - and she didn't see any point in finishing it. It is at the point that Tarot decided she had to 'fix' the story and she wrote the back half of it. [5]

In 2010, Tarot explained that the story was "a tandem effort with A.N.Other. We were at a get-together with other friends and the talk naturally turned to the Lads. Since we'd done a fair bit in S&H by that time, it was suggested we try our hand at B/D. We agreed - A.N. reluctantly. We talked it over between us, worked out the backgrounds we felt could have formed their then current mindsets, and A.N. started writing 'Consequences'. Then decided there was no way any lasting sexual relationship was going to work between them. Given the scenario she'd written for them, Doyle would kill him. So I took it on. At that time I felt I couldn't go back and completely rewrite her part, so I did my best to try and salvage it. Bless her, she really didn't like Bodie much... Yes, it went out on the Paper Circuit - this was waaay before computers! - but when I reread it a while ago I wasn't at all happy with it. I felt I'd failed to do the Lads justice. [6]

Its Starsky & Hutch Counterpart

In 1982, Paula Smith wrote Surrender. It is said the author took the subject/plot on as a challenge, that done well, a good writer could make a troubling, and some would say, offensive, subject matter appealing. Some fans feel the story is the Starsky and Hutch version of the controversial Professionals story "Consequences."

Mentioned in Textual Poachers

In 1992, Henry Jenkins wrote:

Heated discussion surrounds works like the Blake's 7 story, "Nearly Beloved/Rogue" or the Professionals story, "Consequences" which some fans charge romanticize rape and others insist allow them to work through the powerful emotions surrounding sexual violence in a less immediately threatening context. (Both writers have asked me to make clear that they did not intend their stories to romanticize rape and that they have been surprised (alarmed?) by the stories' reception by other fans. I cite these stories here not to chastise their writers, whose work I admire, but rather to illustrate the range of debates that slash provoked even among those who accept its general premises. Fan stories are as open to multiple interpretations as the original television programs; fan writers no more control their works' meanings than the original producers can.) [7]

Stories that Mention the Trope, "The Game"

While The Game isn't a major component, it is mentioned in a number of Pros stories:

One List of Sequels and Fixits

In 1990, a fan explained how this story had become pretty much the property of all Pros fans:
It's hard for me to imagine circumstances which would entitle the original author to refuse permission to a would-be sequel-writer. If she does, however, then the second author can write it for fun and only show it to a few friends, or change it so that it no longer relies on the first story. It's rude for the first author to refuse permission when assured of proper crediting, but ruder for the second to publish the sequel anyway. In some cases, this doesn't apply. If the first story was determinedly anonymous, or if thorough and determined search has failed to locate the author, then the sequel-writer need only state the original story's title and author, if known. And some stories are already in the public domain, so to speak: the best example I know is "Consequences." [8]

Other fans soon jumped on board and Consequences inspired several sequels, or fixits. With so many stories using The Game as a backdrop, it quickly became fanon.

One list: [9]

Another List of Sequels and Fixits

Palelyloitering organizes the stories slightly differently: [10]

Main Story:

  • Consequences

Direct responses:

HG's responses:

Alternate theory:

  • Game Theory (Alternative version) by Dee

Reactions/Reviews

Over the years the reaction to Consequences has varied, ranging from sometimes approval, but much, much more often to dubious to hostile.

The first partner-rape story in Pros. Not a great story, perhaps, but famous for its effects on young fandom. [11]
"Consequences". I hated it and still do. Because I hate violence. [12]
...there is nothing "wrong" with the writing in this story. The writer turns a sentence well, has a strong grasp of grammar and punctuation. The mechanics of the story are fine, and the writer has the ability to make the scenes come to life. For me, that makes me quite unhappy because those sorts of visuals aren't nice to have in my head. Unfortunately, I don't see either character from the very beginning. I don't buy into the idea that Doyle would ever get as drunk as I'm told, merely because I feel anybody who drinks that much is pretty darned stupid. I don't think Doyle is that stupid. But for discussion's sake, I'll go with the idea that Doyle is drunk, belligerent and nasty. So Bodie's way to handle his long-time partner is to give him a karate chop to the neck and put him to bed.... Read sc_fossil's entire very long review at the ci5hq here -- some of comments are included at Fanlore; for many, many others, see CI5hq.[13]
I was really worried when I saw that Consequences was being done this week. It is often mentioned on rec lists and I understand it spawned many sequels/spin-offs. I had read this story some time ago and thought I must be the only person who didn't like it. I was pleased to see that I was not alone. I agree entirely with your review. The story is so totally out of character that despite the writing being technically good, there is no way I can relate to the two characters as Bodie and Doyle.

I don't mind reading stories that contain rape. I've written them myself in various fandoms, but this is something else. There is a sickness to the whole premise that turns my stomach. I would love to hear what the author had to say about this story, why she wrote it, what she was trying to achieve, because it just leaves me scratching my head.

I haven't read the musical version but might try that now that I know it is a comedy. [14]
I also have never understood why this story has lasted and been recommended.

This is NOT Bodie and Doyle and the whole premise is unrealistic, uncomfortable and upsetting.

This story was one of the first I read in the fandom and it almost put me off reading others as I worried that if this was recommended what the hell would other fic be like. [15]
I can give you three words: DO NOT READ. [16]
Now if Doyle had put a bullet into Bodie's head in Consequences, I'd have been happier! [17]
I 'tripped over' this story some years ago and it put me off reading Pros Fic until late last year! I thought it such an insult to the characters and that if it was indicative of the types of stories people were writing and ACCEPTING in the fandom then I didn't want to know. I wonder if it is doing more harm than good? [18]
I've only ever heard about it being recommended, as in "one of the best stories in the fandom", once, probably from the same source you got it from. My feeling is that most people would suggest reading it with some caveats, and to selected people. For example, if someone wanted to know about the earliest stories, or wanted to know where the fanon about "The Game" came from, I'd reference Consequences, with a warning. It is a significant story in the history of the fandom, because of the controversy and because of the number of stories spawned directly from it or using the concept of "the Game" in one way or another. But not everyone wants to delve into that. [19]
I don't always like fics and I don't always agree with them, but this is one I could happily print out, set fire to, and dance around its burning body to then piss on its remains. I could achieve some satisfaction that way. [20]
I remember us discussing the story on the Virgule-L mailing list in the 1990s. Consequences has to be one of the sequel-ed stories in Pros fandom. Some fans wrote sequels because they were upset by the story, others loved the story and wanted more. One fan said something that has stuck with me all these years: she loved it when Bodie went into the kitchen and calmly ate a cheese sandwich after raping Doyle. After the initial thrill faded, she realized Bodie couldn't be that brutal. But, instead of thinking about how to fix that point, she focused on what kind of person *could* rape Doyle then eat a cheese sandwich afterward. It became a thought provoking point in the story for her that led her down interesting plot paths. To me, that's the sign of a good writing - that even when you disagree it makes you think: "but could it happen...? if not, then why? [21]
I loathed this story with a passion and I too cannot see how the hell it has lasted so long without being consigned to the pit hole of hell. It is set on a pedestal for some strange reason, when really it should have ridiculed, ripped up and long forgotten. [22]
So why has it endured? I think that's the interesting question. Even if it was a story about two original characters it would still be quite a nasty little piece, making little sense if the characters are supposed to be friends, but when it's Bodie and Doyle it seems to make it even nastier. I suppose its claim to fame rests partly on the fact that it gave birth to other stories, but again, why *would* this happen? Hmmm..... a mystery. [23]
From what I gather the sequels were generally written to refute the story, to "correct it" in some way, and to "make it right."... actually I think reading the sequels is a big part of reading Consequences, because (as Kiwisue has said above) Consequences is more about Prosfic history than about being "a wonderful fic". I suspect it's endured because it did spawn such a huge reaction, people would come across a sequel and then read the original as well, and then they'd be swept up in it all and mention it to their friends, who'd read out of curiosity. I've not read further down the list than this yet, so I won't say anything else in case it's been said (I suspect by Kiwisue!) but I'd say go and read the sequels, or at least some of them, for a fuller idea of it all. Just reading Consequences is like being back at the beginning of what's actually been a thirty-year debate! [24]
I know we talk about Bodie and Doyle being out of character but the real issue here is the way the writer characterizes rape, its aftermath and effect on the characters. It is wrong and I am sure many people find it offensive. What disturbs me also is that this story has become part of Pros fanon to the extent that it even has its own little section at the Fanlore site. I often see it mentioned on rec sites, even when the reccer says they don't like it. I think that if it was written today it would never achieve this type of status. The story would die a natural death and be forgotten very quickly. So why has it endured? Is it because it was one of the earliest Pros stories when fans were lapping up whatever they could get? I'm still scratching my head. [25]
...I read this story quite some time ago, and haven't (really didn't want to) re-read it for the reading room discussion so I'm going on my old impressions. That siad (sic), I'd wholeheartedly agree that the degree and the kind of aggression portrayed here is completely unlike their canon relationship. The "Bodie" who would behave in this way to Doyle (or to anyone, come to that) is not only different from the character we see in the series (tough and capable of violence though he is) but apparently so emotionally crippled that he is completely incapable of a healthy relationship. The notion that he somehow "makes up" for this behaviour and that Doyle accepts it is just unpleasant - you might rape and harm someone, but it's OK if you wuv them reeely? Not really. [26]
Unlike alot of people (I think) I don't have a problem with the premise of the story - that Bodie can subjugate his real feelings for Doyle, and only let them out by equating them with the violent "Game" of his mercenary days, with the result that he rapes Doyle. Okay, I don't like the idea that Bodie's capable of rape any more than I like the (canon) idea that he's capable of overt racism, but the authors actually convince me that it's possible, in a particular characterisation of Bodie. I think this is one of those fics where you have to be able to stretch your own view of both lads though, realise that they're quite probably not going to be the lads that you want them to be. [27]
I can go with Doyle's reactions too - his shock at first, then the anger and violence, then the collapse. Surprisingly, perhaps, I can even go with his subsequent arousal in Bodie's arms - he was very drunk, with the subsequent loss of memory that can bring, by the time he did remember his body had already reacted to Bodie's caresses - no less rape than the first time, actually. And I can stretch his character to being sexually responsive too, especially if I think that he and Bodie already had a strong relationship and didn't realise it, so that he might well be subconsciously emotionally conflicted about Bodie. There are so many factors to take into consideration, regarding rape by someone known to you that it's almost impossible to say "someone would never"... So I can see Doyle being emotionally ambivalent about Bodie, in some ways - especially as the authors do show that ambivalence. [28]
I usually miss the nuances others see, but maybe I'm learning, because like others my main impression of this fic was that the characterisations were off. The warmth and humanity and humour that balances their tough and cool personas was missing from both. Instead there are the 'fanon' elements (if you can say that, as early as 1980/1) of Doyle being rather small and feeble, and of Doyle being very easily and intensely aroused. Setting aside Bodie and Doyle, however, I found the writing so good that I wanted to keep reading about this intense sexual game being played by two ruthless, hard men. (When I read 'the Game' first, I thought it meant prostitution. LOL. - or maybe the Great Game of international politics which CI5 is involved with). 'Doyle' starts to learn and to play 'the Game' too, forcing Bodie to come to his flat. And there is some satisfaction that in the end 'Bodie' has to admit he is in thrall to 'Doyle.' [29]
I think this is one of those stories you have to read for interest as much as anything else, not expecting to see your own interpretation of the lads in the first place. People's motivations for writing Pros vary as well - I'm always surprised to find that some people don't write Pros because they love the lads, but use it as a fandom to experiment writing with, or because all their friends are writing to it and they don't want to be left out, or whatever - but for reasons where actually liking the lads (for them as the writer) isn't reflected in their story. I don't know whether that's what's happened here, or whether it was an experiment, or how far the authors' feelings went (thanks Kiwisue for that explanation above!) but I don't think that just because a part of history seems dark to us now, that it should be burned, you know, particularly without knowing the entire context and reading all the responses... [30]
I do know that one half of the writing team had no time for The Professionals." [31]
[The first Pros story I read was] ""Consequences" and I hated it. Still do. I just didn't think it worked, and I didn't think the characters were true. I think all the sequels go to prove that. [32]
I began my Pros reading by stumbling around in the archives and by asking for Recs from friends who I've hadn't read anything in years or who "knew of" the fandom. In the process I ended up reading stories like Consequences... Ack! My discomfort level was so high that if it hadn't been for going on to make friends who are active in Pros and who were kind enough to merely call me a "prat" for ill formed views on Pros fic and then to gently steer me in other directions (without caving my head in with a shovel) I wouldn't have continued to read. [33]

A Reaction In Prose Form

In 1993, "Consequences" was being debated on the Virgule-L mailing list. Part of the discussion focused not on the story, but more on fandom's reaction to - and in some cases - acceptance of the concept of "I love my rapist" trope. Lynn C. wrote a short story to illustrate what CI5 would look like, years later, if the organization was as accepting as fandom of the concept. The scene involves Katherine Ross, the resident psychiatrist expressing concern to Cowley, the head of CI5, over the rash of partner killings. In fan fiction, Cowley would either turn a blind eye to Bodie and Doyle's relationship or would express avuncular approval. Like most of the 'sequels' to Consequences, the story had a point to make and it did it well.[34]

Kate Ross sighed and closed the folder, disgusted and at the end of her rope. She put a call through to Cowley. "Yes, it's important, and no, it can't wait, Mr. Cowley. When you're done with the Minister, please."

Cowley stalked into her office, with a bare nod of hello. "What's the trouble now, Doctor?

"This latest report, have you seen it?" She flung it down on her desk.

Cowley read the label without picking it up. "Yes, I have, I'm sorry to say."

"What are we going to do about this? First Lucas and McCabe, then Anson and Murphy... now this!"

"Ach, boys will be boys," Cowley said, avoiding her accusing gaze.

"What? I'd hardly say that Towser murdering Macklin in a knife fight after his rape counts as normal hijinks, Mr. Cowley." Her voice was frosty. "The first pair I was willing to sweep under the rug, after reteaming them. It was hard to find hard evidence anyway, since they wouldn't talk about it. The second time, I just about believed your story that they were undercover and forced into the roles. But this--! Something needs to be done about your so-called 'boys,' before CI5 goes completely insane and they start eating one another."

"Most of them have been for years," Cowley muttered.

"I'm sorry, I missed that. It sounded like a joke."

"I'm afraid not, Dr. Ross. What do you recommend we do about this? Surely you have some theory to account for it." Cowley took a pull on the hip flask he always had with him. He offered it to Ross, who turned it down with a curl of the lip.

"They're overworked, for one thing. It's not surprising that their pent up energy is exploding physically, but I would expect barroom brawls rather than--this, whatever it is. Rape." She spat the word.

Cowley perched a hip on her desk, and took another sip. "Well, they work closely together. They have no stable relationships, outside of their partnerships, so it's no wonder they get a little carried away. You should feel the sexual energy in the shower room!" He laughed, but she merely looked appalled.

"So you don't think it could have anything to do with that new gay serum the Russians have developed? A bit of that in the tea machine--?"

Ross was out of her depth and Cowley knew it. He chuckled again. "No, no, that's never gotten past the Iron Curtain, we'd have heard about it from every two-bit terrorist group already if it had. No, I'm sure this is just a phase they're all going through. Ach, but they're good lads, for all the horseplay."

Ross sat down heavily, trying to put some perspective on this. She grasped at the one bit of pleasant news she had. "Well, at least your top team, 4.5 and 3.7, haven't had any problems with each other."

"Bodie and Doyle? No, they're just fine together." Cowley smiled at a private amusment. He suddenly felt in a mellow confiding mood. "They've been having it off for years, did you know? Happy as clams. After that first time, anyway."

Ross's mouth fell open, and she snapped it closed again. Cowley had a sudden inspired look to him.

"That's it! That's the solution, woman!" He smacked his lips. "We'll just have Bodie and Doyle give them all a good talking to. They'll tell them that Rape Can Be Fun, and we'll set them on the path to domestic harmony. No more knife fights."

He shrugged into his coat again. She stared at the file on the table in bemusement. "Thank you, Dr. Ross, this chat has helped. We'll get them straightened out before any more damage occurs, don't you worry."

After he had gone, and the shock had faded a bit, she found herself thinking about Susan Fischer, and wondering if maybe she could catch a ride on a good thing now. She'd bet that woman was great in bed, high heels and all."

References

  1. "Tarot" is the name this author chose to use on the online versions of her Professionals stories, and is the name they're archived under. Please don't correct it to an earlier, print version.
  2. at ci5hq, posted by byslantedlight, May 2, 2009
  3. Comments during a discussion on Pros-Lit, April 2008. Accessed October 27, 2008.
  4. June 2010 Interview on The Hatstand.
  5. Drawn from memory from a discussion on the CI5 List, 1996. Morgan Dawn.
  6. from A 2010 Interview with Tarot
  7. from Textual Poachers, page 220
  8. From a much longer discussion in Cold Fish and Stale Chips #10 on the rules of writing in another fan's universe, see that zine.
  9. Source of the sequel list - Story notes for Consequences on The Circuit Archive, archived August 16, 2006. Accessed October 27, 2008.
  10. Consequences Universe
  11. Issues of Consent
  12. comment by O Yardley from The Hatstand Express #17
  13. WebCite for the ci5hq review; Archive.is
  14. 2009 comments at CI5hq; Archive.is
  15. 2009 comments at CI5hq; Archive.is
  16. 2009 comments at CI5hq; Archive.is
  17. 2009 comments at CI5hq; Archive.is
  18. 2009 comments at CI5hq; Archive.is
  19. 2009 comments at CI5hq; Archive.is
  20. at ci5hq, posted by squeeful, April 30, 2009; Archive.is
  21. Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed March 28, 2012.
  22. at ci5hq, posted by probodie, April 30, 2009
  23. at ci5hq, posted by shooting2kill, April 30, 2009; Archive.is
  24. at ci5hq, posted by byslantedlight, May 2, 2009; Archive.is
  25. at ci5hq, posted by jj minerva, April 30, 2009; Archive.is
  26. at ci5hq, posted by heliophile_oxon, April 30, 2009
  27. at ci5hq, posted by byslantedlight, May 2, 2009
  28. at ci5hq, posted by byslantedlight, May 2, 2009; Archive.is
  29. at ci5hq, posted by constant muse, April 30, 2009; Archive.is
  30. at ci5hq, posted by byslantedlight, May 2, 2009; Archive.is
  31. from DIAL #14
  32. from The Hatstand Express #20
  33. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  34. The story is reposted here with the author's approval.
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