Breaking Cover

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The Professionals Fanfiction
Title: Breaking Cover
Author(s): Ellis Ward
Date(s): May 1991
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links: Breaking Cover

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Breaking Cover is a slash Professionals story by Ellis Ward. It was illustrated by Suzan Lovett and Phoenix.

It was published in Chalk and Cheese #8 and is online.

illo by Suzan Lovett for this story from the zine. This Lovett art piece, The Declassizing of Bodie, used an perfume ad for its reference source. Many fans loved it, some had issues with its translation. In the drawing Bodie is in a tux with his tie undone and Doyle is in blue jeans and a cut off top. Doyle has Bodie pressed up against the wall. In the original ad, which appeared in a book of advertising, the original Doyle character was a woman. The use of professional ads for reference material was not always welcomed in fandom. This image has been held up as an example of where the artist should have changed the female model proportioning to fit the fact that the characters were male.

This story was famously plagiarized by another fan, Kay Wells, as the Kirk/Spock story, ironically titled Cover Up. See below.

Reactions and Reviews

"Breaking Cover" was a very good story. Ward may not believe in the 'short' part of 'short story,' but she is good.[1]
My favorite piece of fiction was Ellis Ward's "Breaking Cover." It was sexy, warm and very loving. The Suzan Lovett illo didn't hurt.[2]
"Breaking Cover" by Ellis Ward was a great post-"Discovered in a Graveyard" story. As always in Ellis' stories, all the pieces fit together to make a fascinating tale. In this one, the growing attraction between a gay Ray Doyle and a straight Bodie, their living together after Ray's release from hospital, makes for a tender love story, and then introducing some conflict in the form of an old mate of Bodie's. I really liked it.[3]
Concerning Ellis Ward's "Breaking Cover" -- this one, not to mention my reaction to it, is considerably more difficult to classify. Let it be said at the outset that I expect always (perhaps unfairly) a satisfying amount of angst from an Ellis Ward story. As I mentioned earlier, perhaps my expectations were too high, when I read the Table of Contents (bad habit, that), and noted the length of the story, I murmured to myself, "Oh, good—I'll save this one for last." But when I did read it the next morning and reached the end, I turned the page, not realizing it was the end. And then I shouted to myself, "Is that all?" Now, this is, perhaps, a tribute to the author's talent: to have read through thirty-odd pages and thinking, "Is that all?" when the end was reached. But the story feels incomplete, almost as if the author got bored toward the end. She spent many pages setting up an inevitable situation, and then didn't spend enough pages developing the situation. I suppose what I'm saying is that she didn't spend enough pages for the reader to wallow in. Perhaps it's my problem only: I'm a devout wallower (and I know that not everyone feels the way I do, believe me). I wanted more than I got. I don't think that the "more" would have hurt the story, sometimes (no matter how much I want it) I know it does; this time, it wouldn't have done. Essentially, despite the above diatribe, "Breaking Cover" is still my favorite story in the zine. And I must mention Suzi's unbelievably fantastic (color, yet!) illo — what I wouldn't give for a print of that, Suzan.)...[4]
"Breaking Cover" has to be my favorite of this issue. Suzan's art, what can you say, it's absolutely frabulous. It brought that scene to life and the written word brought the art to life. Suzan obviously worked very closely with the story or vice versa.[5]
"Breaking Cover" by Ellis Ward. The Suzi Lovett (full color illo is H-O-T! And at 34 pages, this is practically a vignette for Ward. She spins a good yarn, but often spins it too long. This one is a good length, building up in subtle layers. And ward very rarely puts the boys in bed by page 4— she does let it build. But I do wish she'd retire her thesaurus. It's damned dangerous to be reading along at a good clip, then trip over couplets like the cat that was "assiduously insinuating" itself between Doyle's feet. I hit that one so hard my eyeballs rattled. Lines like this are acceptable in a poetic setting, but finding them in the middle of a sentence of prose is rather like having the elevator drop out from under you. Ward is a good writer who could be even better if she would tighten her writing and avoid the polysyllables which come across as an affectation.[6]
"Breaking Cover" had a nicely done relationship and Winslow was an interesting character, but it seemed to me that both Bodie and Doyle were a little too tongue-tied for belief. Would Bodie really give up after one years-ago rejection if he felt so strongly? And why wasn't Doyle saying anything? Also, why did McCabe think he had to tell Doyle, anyway? [7]
Kate recommended this one to me, and I went back and had another look at it. I was originally put off by the stilted and formal use of language in the beginning, but actually it's pretty good. And it gets stronger as the story progresses and the style relaxes. There's some great dialog and a genuine plot around the getting of B/D together in bed finally. One of my favorites.

With this one I began to see that there was a real pattern in the DiaG stories, and that certain elements were traditional and expected -- which is fun, I think, to read everyone's take on these themes. The bringing Doyle home from the hospital scene; the Doyle has a nightmare scene; the Doyle facing his flat for the first time scene (by the way, he'd have been moved immediately as his security was compromised by the shooting); the Doyle and Bodie talk about why Doyle left the locks undone scene; the helping Doyle bathe scene (optional but full of interesting possibilities); the Doyle working to get his strength back scenes -- there are a lot more, I'm sure, but those are the ones that hit me.

Oh. And the Doyle and Bodie finally realize they love each other and get it on scene.[8]
There's no way I could end this month without reccing one of Ellis Ward's works; as far as I'm concerned, she can't write a bad story. This one is one of my favorites. For starters, I love stories set after Doyle's shooting; the emotional intensity between him and Bodie always seem to be that much higher. And here, the two living together while Bodie helps Ray recover adds to the slow simmer. Then there's the banter between the two that adds just the right amount of humor. Ray may have almost died but there's nothing maudlin about the story. Doyle needs to mend and Bodie is there for him. But mostly, it's the just right way in which the lads are portrayed that brings me back to Ellis Ward's stories time and time again. They are as I like to see them; a bit rough, a bit unsure, yet two truly decent men who care deeply for one another.[9]
... as far as I'm concerned, she can't write a bad story. This one is one of my favorites. For starters, I love stories set after Doyle's shooting; the emotional intensity between him and Bodie always seem to be that much higher. And here, the two living together while Bodie helps Ray recover adds to the slow simmer. Then there's the banter between the two that adds just the right amount of humor. Ray may have almost died but there's nothing mauldin about the story. Doyle needs to mend and Bodie is there for him. But mostly, it's the just right way in which the lads are portrayed that brings me back to Ellis Ward's stories time and time again. They are as I like to see them; a bit rough, a bit unsure, yet two truly decent men who care deeply for one another.[10]

This Story Was Plagarised by Another Fan

Comments in "Chalk and Cheese"

In the editorial of Chalk and Cheese #10 (May 1992), Mysti Frank wrote that Kay Wells had "rewritten" this story, using a Pros story by Ellis Ward called "Breaking Cover":

Approximately a week ago, I received a letter from Kay Wells stating that she could not remember the name of the story or its plot, but did not feel she had anything to apologise for. I was rather confused as to what she was refering until I chanced to talk to a few West Coast friends, who informed me that me Wells had taken Ellis Ward's story, "Breaking Cover," which was published in Chalk and Cheese 8, and rewritten it as a Kirk/Spock story (without the author's consent or even awareness) and submitted it to Robin Hood, who, not knowing the circumstances, published it in First Time 31, her K/S zine. Not only did she "rewrite" the story, but she lifted whole paragraphs intact. Regardless of what you call it, this is plagarism, pure and simple. Ms. Wells said that she didn't think that K/S fans read Pros, or vice versa, and that the story just seemed to be made for the K/S universe. Folks, fandom as it exists today is too well connected, too diversified, for anyone to think he or she can get away with this. I cannot control Ms. Wells' actions, nor can I speak for Ellis Ward, who is dealing with this matter in a dignified and humorous manner, but this situation galls me. It strikes at the heart of the editor in me and angers the writer in me. What if Ms. Wells, or someone else, decided to do that with one of my stories? Regardless of what anyone may think of my stories, I can at least state unequivocally that they are mine, every word agonized over and carefully chosen. Me. Wells cannot say the same.

I apologize for using this editorial as a soapbox, but I felt the above needed saying. Please, fen, don't plagarize [sic]. If you feel the need to rewrite a story — from whatever fandom — at least tell the author and zine editor so. If you plan to release your "new" story into the circuit, acknowledge the title of the story, if not the author, that you are borrowing from. This is only respectful, and respect makes the world go 'round a lot smoother.

There were some later fan comments in LoCs printed in Chalk and Cheese.

One of two comments about this subject in "Chalk and Cheese" #11:
I hope that the plagiarism of her story doesn't sour Ellis Ward on fandom in general. I do look forward to each new story under her by-line. (editor says: -Ellis has responded like a lady. She's ignoring it.-) [11]
One of two comments about this subject in "Chalk and Cheese" #11:

"On the note of plagiarism: in a fandom which thrives on lifting plots from classic novels, writing sequels to others' sequels, perhaps it was merely considered "borrowing" Ward's story. After all, how can a fan sue another fan for lifting the plot of a story which is already a copyright violation to begin with? I mean, we're all already "stealing," so I guess some fans consider it their privilege to just lift someone else's story.

I think a lot of that mind-set is due to fannish writing not being seen as "real writing" (i.e. legitimate). No money changes hands; no contracts are signed, so it's not like the "real world," is it? Maybe not, but there is still something known as courtesy. And some fans are just more courteous than others. It was mean-spirited and presumptuous. And bespeaks a rather imperious attitude toward the rank-and-file fans. "Oh, they'll never read this, they're in another fandom."

Not these days with everything lurking in everyone else's computer! [12]

Comments in Blake, Rabble and Roll

Less than four months after Mysti Frank's statements about the incident in "Chalk and Cheese," she made some dishonest comments about it in her editorial to Blake, Rabble and Roll #3. While Frank condemned the act of plagiarism, she neglected to name the story or the plagiarist, Kay Wells. While this could be seen as an attempt to calm the waters, something she disingenuously states herself, what Frank does not mention is that she includes two of Kay Wells' illos in the very zine she is writing the editorial for, Blake, Rabble and Roll #3:

A bit of a flap sprang into being when someone who enjoyed a story I published in one of my other zines took that story, rewrote it using another fandom, and submitted it to another zine ed, who, not knowing the circumstances, printed it. All without the original author's knowledge or consent. I'm not going to start naming names--I don't want to start that again. I simply want to make the point that if you plan to borrow someone's work, be they fan or professional, Barbara Cartland or Shakespeare, please notify the author (if possible) and ask permission! When (and only when) given, also tell the zine ed to whom you are submitting the story that it borrows heavily (if not lifts whole paragraphs intact) from another source. Otherwise, fen, what you've done is committed plagiarism, pure and simple.

We 'amateur' writers don't have much, but we've got our stories and they are ours. To have someone steal one behind your back, rewrite it with characters that may not even fit the storyline, and then submit it to an unknowing zine ed, is the worst kind of feeling in the world. Please don't do this. We don't need this kind of tension in any fandom. IDIC's more than just a concept, you know. And the rest is just plain common courtesy.


Welp, that's it for me this time. I hope I raised a few consciences here and didn't piss off too many fen. Hopefully, I'll see you in a year with another great issue of Blake, Rabble and Roll!

Comments in "First Time"

There weren't any comments in the zine the plagarised story appeared in.

The editor of First Time did not address this issue in her zine, even in her editorial. Fans were unable to comment in "First Time" because it was a zine that did not print fans' LoCs.

Comments in "On the Double"

The editor addressed the then-recent plagiarism incident in On the Double #23 (June 1992):
Editor's note: Plagerism [sic] is not nice, people. In fandom, we sort of operate on the honor system. Sequels are often written by different authors, with the original author's permission. We also often have more than one version of the same story, again, with the original author's permission, or because the same plot was used by different people as an intellectual exercise, (or contest). But to take a story from one fandom and transfer it to another fandom, making only cosmetic changes and not even acknowledging the original author, never mind bothering to ask permission, is a very different matter. Unfortunately, this has happened very recently. At the very least, the person who took the story has lost all credibility as a innovator, which is very sad. Fortunately, two of the three people who were "robbed" chose to react with humor. (The original editor and publisher was not so amused.) In any case, the person who commissioned the original story asked me to print her letter and I decided that I would. It's only fair, especially since the writer who did the "borrowing" was contacted and feels that what she did was okay, and that she doesn't owe anyone any apology, including her editor, who was unaware that the story in her zine was not original.)
Also in "On the Double," a response letter:
OPEN LETTER TO FANDOM: It was a dark and stormy night... well, since this is about writers who borrow from other writers, I thought I would borrow a little on my own. It was two weeks before MediaWest and all through the houses the fans were astirring, every one all. The zines were at printers, or editors were begging authors and artists to finish at last. The anxiety was building as I watched time slow down. First it was two weeks and four days, then two and three, then two and two. Drat, would the time never come. What was needed, I thought, was a diversion, something to keep the fans talking until the big day arrived. I pondered and pondered and came up with naught. But, this is fandom: it always finds a way to fill the void. My salvation came with a phone call - as is usually the case. (Pac Bell should write paeans of praise to the fannish rumor mill.) It seemed, god forbid, plagiarism had been discovered. Gasp! Gosh! Horrors! This was not your normal plot theft, however, this was grand theft story. Last year at MediaWest, Ellis Ward was acclaimed by one and all for her story "Breaking Cover", (rightfully nominated this year for a Fan Q award), which was inspired by Suzan Lovett's "The Declassizing of Bodie", or better known as, "Have you seen Page 96A in Chalk and Cheese 8?" Anyway, what to my amused ears should arrive, but a tale of a story in First Time 31 by Kay Wells that was not just similar, but in which whole paragraphs had been copied verbatim. Now really, self, I said to myself - that isn't kosher and it isn't fair. Especially since I bought the picture and commissioned the story in the first place. I mean, after all, if you are going to steal, at least be subtle. Subtle is fun - blatant is stupid. What was Ellis Ward's reaction to all this? "I haven't had such a fun day in a long time. It made my day. All I could picture was Kay Wells retyping the story and going through her thesaurus to find different adjectives." I would like to thank Kay Wells, author(?) of "Cover Up", for giving us something to talk about and fill up these interminably long two weeks. On a personal note - Kay, I understand you are an artist as well. May I recommend Suzan Lovett as a role model. If you are going to copy, copy from the best. Sincerely, Kathy


  1. from Chalk and Cheese #9
  2. from Chalk and Cheese #9
  3. from Chalk and Cheese #9
  4. from Chalk and Cheese #9
  5. from Chalk and Cheese #9
  6. from Chalk and Cheese #9
  7. from Chalk and Cheese #9
  8. The Devil's Workshop posted Sept 29, 2007; link.
  9. from a rec by gilda elise at Crack Van, posted March 31, 2005
  10. March 2005 rec at Crack Van
  11. from an LoC in "Chalk and Cheese" #11
  12. from an LoC in "Chalk and Cheese" #11