Fly on the Wall

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Bodie/Doyle Fanfiction
Title: Fly on the Wall
Author(s): Lezlie Conch
Date(s): print (1980s), archived online in December 2003
Length: 82K
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links: online here

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Fly on the Wall is a Professionals slash Bodie/Doyle story by Lezlie Conch. It was first in Up Against the Wall, a circuit and theme zine in the 1980s.

The story sometimes appears on fan's Desert Island lists.[1]

Summary

In 2000, two fans Cassie Ingaben and Dagger compiled an index of many of the circuit stories. They also wrote brief summaries:

  • Dagger: Doyle's playing bait for a killer who preys on male prostitutes. Murphy hatches a scheme to get Doyle, but it's Bodie who reaps the rewards of Doyle's sexual frustration.

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

Fly on the Wall by Lezlie Conch amused me the first time I read the double and triple thinking that Bodie indulges in. I also enjoyed the rest of the agents attempts to 'seduce' Doyle.[2]

1995

As for "Fly on the Wall," that's a lovely story. I'm especially fond of the bit where Bodie considers that sex with Doyle was like finding the hundred and first use for the Swiss Army knife -- already useful, it was now invaluable.[3]

1999

Erm... I think I'm possibly the only person (or were there one or two others?) that can't stand this story. Not that it's not funny -- it's hysterical... the parts I can stand to read! For those of you new to the list, I have an embarrassment squick (more on that later, too), and I squirmed through the story and had to skim the most embarrassing parts. So, while I realise it's got a lot of appeal for folks without the squick, and large chunks of it had me rolling on the floor, I just *cannot* re-read it. [4]

2000

So, one Professionals story I found just hysterically funny was Lezlie Conch's 'Fly on the Wall' (it was one of those mornings). You'd have to be at least a little familiar with the characters to understand what is going on but I'd recommend it to anyone who wanted a dose of light hearted Pros.[5]

2003

Pros tends to be a dark, intense fandom, but there is much space for lighter stories. Fly on the Wall is one of these. Humourous for some readers, hilarious for others, it's a different take on the first time theme, so predominant in slash fandoms in general and and Pros in particular. Don't forget to check the other Lezlie Conch's stories in the Circuit Archive, she has a light but confident touch on the characters and plot.[6]
What a great story! I must have read it a dozen times and still laugh at some of the lines. The other thing I like is the take on some of the other agents at CI5--what a hysterical bunch! [7]
Another of my Favourites! The dialogue is snappy and the characters true to the show.[8]

2006

Bizarre things ensue when a bunch of blokes are on long-term surveillance – and what price friendship when your partner is about to be severely put upon? This is absolutely hilarious, one of my favourite Prosfics. Conch brings CI5 and their particular brand of bloke-ishness perfectly to life.[9]

2007

Lezlie is here a marvel at dialogue. Witty, in character, yet original, it is the banter between Bodie, Murphy and their colleagues that paints all the stages of the inexorable train-wreck that is Murphy's bet carrying Doyle's "seduction" to the extremes. Bodie is swept along with the tide and is just as overwhelmed as his partner when they finally come face-to-face. Add to that an electronic bug that has quickly become inconvenient, and the resulting slapstick will bring tears to your eyes. I've rarely laughed as much upon reading a story as I did during "Fly on the Wall". Don't miss this.[10]

2009

I laughed as hard the third time I read this story as the first. The ending is amazingly well done, very cute, and Bodie is so funny. He's very much in character through the entire thing. This Doyle was one of the best I've read. Definitely like I'd picture him if he were undercover and then sussed out what was going on. I think all of the men are written very well, and I could easily hear every exchange. I give this story a big A plus. I can't think of a thing I didn't like about it. One of my very favourites and well worth multiple readings to bring a huge smile to your face. Read sc fossil's full review and additional comments by readers at ci5hq here.[11]
...I love this story. I like everything about it. It unfolds nicely, giving us bits and pieces as we go. Great pacing, I think.

It starts with a group of agents on a stakeout, trying to catch a man Cowley wants. Apparently, the mark likes men so Doyle's sent out on the street to drawn him in. ... I laughed as hard the third time I read this story as the first. The ending is amazingly well done, very cute, and Bodie is so funny. He's very much in character through the entire thing. This Doyle was one of the best I've read. Definitely like I'd picture him if he were undercover and then sussed out what was going on. I think all of the men are written very well, and I could easily hear every exchange. I give this story a big A plus. I can't think of a thing I didn't like about it. One of my very favourites and well worth multiple readings to bring a huge smile to your face.

Okay, I do have one thing. I admit, it could have used a Brit beta. I'm still learning in Pros, but even I saw the glaring American spellings. I often wonder why something that simple isn't fixed in a Pros story. I don't think being published back in the 80s is a very good excuse to not edit. I can't tell you how many zines I have that didn't bother fixing the spelling to British. To me, it's a simple detail that should be taken care of by any editor who's putting out a zine in whatever country/universe the story is placed in. There might be a valid reason not to use the proper spellings for any show or movie. I see it a lot in Sentinel, with the British and Australia writers who use their local language. But that being said, this is a great story. (I almost changed the spellings in the quotes I used when I spell-checked, but I resisted.*g*)[12]
I love obbos and operations and other agents, so the ingredients were there. Also a bit of depth with the sub-plot of a posh, gay Murphy.

Hence I really enjoyed this up to a point, about half way through, when Bodie returned from Paris. At that point it became overdone, made me feel quite queazy. There were too many agents, too much mess, too much fondling or whatever of Doyle - it just left a bad taste. I really felt sorry for Doyle, out there on the street looking so put upon, no longer able to do the undercover job he was there to do, even if he was characteristically angry inside and rightly took it out on Bodie.

I really couldn't believe the other agents would do that to him, or that Bodie would leave him undefended, or that they would all seemingly forget the purpose of the obbo.

Have to admit I read this very quickly, so this is just my impression. Closer reading might change my view. Clever ending, too...[13]
It's hard to say if the author meant it to be more serious than I took it. She might very well yell at me for taking it to be just a bit of a romp. But hey, we know from other stories that everybody sees things differently.[14]
This fic makes me grin every time I read it. I love sneaky!Murphy, I love all the boys so damned bored they go for the bet and pile in on the op in their off time, I (of course!) love rentboy!Ray. I love Bodie deciding Murph isn't gonna get away with it. I love, love, love Bodie "going for it" when the opportunity presents itself, rather than 'fessing up. Ah hell, it's a cute little piece-o-fluff, and I love the stuffin' out of it.[15]
I love the way Murphy twists the whole thing to his own purposes, how Doyle thinks its all Bodie's doing and loving it and how Bodie makes sure its all to his benefit. (innocently of course). Its all various devious, amusing and satisfying - after all, our boys do end up together in a very satisfying (for them and us) way.[16]
Not really my cup of tea.

Nice enough while you are reading it, but I wouldn’t read it again. Yes it’s funny, but one single joke that needs so much declaration, - and empty talking and talking and bedding and bedding... The fellow agents are toooo many and and you can barely distinguish them. It’s a problem of the show that there are not really good constant minor characters, and if an author uses them in a story he/she should take some time to 'animate' them. And the rent boy story? I like that normally... But there are better ones like Undercover by Elessar and esp. Rent Boy by Elizabeth Holden.

Now I wonder if a 'funny story' works for me in Pros. I LOVE funny moments and subtle remarks and ping pong dialogues between the lads, also good exaggerations – maybe to play a bit with their macho image... – but a whole, 34 pages story that is supposed to be 'funny'... I don’t know!

I think I prefer the funny moments 'in between', to calm down a bit and to aggravate the dangerous or emotional parts.[17]
I love Fly on the Wall... - it's never meant to be serious, and we find that out straight away via the tone, so there's no point worrying about whether it's realistic or not, whether it would happen like that or not (although for the record I absolutely love the idea of all the lads in one room listening enthralled for the outcome of the bet, and all wanting to take part - I have seen blokes do that! *g*) I think Conch has done a great job with the comedy, actually building it up really well to the finale.

The one thing that drives me mad about this story though, and the only reason I can't give it 100% thumbs up, is that it's at least half American all the way through! It's almost more annoying because she's got some things beautifully Brit, but then she throws in something that is so absolutely purely American that I'm hearing the lads in American accents suddenly - and it's pretty obvious stuff, that would surely have been obvious to a Brit-picker, like a fifth of scotch in the fifth line of the story.

There are little glitches too, "the block" which is so common as to be almost unnoticeable now, but also Well, I'm not staying up in that room for no hour. - "for no hour" in McCabe's accent? Nope, he just turned American on me - and that happens again and again, so that I'm reading along happily with a grin on my face, and then... bam, Doyle is American again... "You sure are running hot and cold".

It's the really obvious ones that are so frustrating, because the rest of the story is so good. Well, there are places where it could have done with a beta as well as a Brit-check, but... And yeah, I know you're not going to notice them if you're not a native-Brit, and it's a long-debated phenomenon etc etc, but... That's how it affects me...

I manage to love it anyway, mind, the set up is just funny. *g* [18]
I'll give the writer more of a pass pre-net days than today since we all know today one can have a story checked easily, whereas back then, it was a little harder. It's interesting to see who was around, when, and wonder when they interacted with who, and so on too. Reading various letterzines and seeing what's published in various zines suggests that there were contacts between American and British fans, for instance, back in the eighties. I wonder when the idea of Brit-checking was introduced? How widespread was it between friends in the eighties, or letterzine-circles, or whether people just didn't even think of it? (These aren't questions directed at you, by the way, I know it's not something you were around in Pros for! *g*) [19]
I love this fic - I have it saved on my hard drive to be printed off in my longterm 'favourite stories to go in my bedtime reading zine'project - when I get a working printer, that is.

I get a bubble of mirth growing inside me right from that wonderful description of Doyle touting for custom with the comment 'Doyle was good at his job - a concept too complicated for his fellow agents' - which is a dead giveaway on how seriously one should take this story, as in - not at all! I thought the characterisation of the various agents was great - I loved the turn of phrase like 'an expression of deep cunning spread across McCabe's face...'

And the climactic scene when Bodie returns from Paris!! That is pure farce, the ratcheting up of the just possible into the wildly unlikely... And then Murphy's reaction to Bodie's return! See, it's making me chuckle even now, in memory.

I don't normally like fanfic that sets out to me 'humourous', because it usually does so by ruining the charcters of one or the other of the lads - 'Blood of the Lamb' is a case in point. But this somehow keeps them recognisably Bodie and Doyle - not the Bodie and Doyle of (can I say reality?? Erm... how about canon. yeah, that works.) canon, but still somehow, essentially, Bodie and Doyle.

The only things that does take the shine off are, as byslantedlight says, the Americanisms, which are rampant and annoying. I have even considered going through my saved copy and editing it, but I have resisted the temptation so far. It's Conch's story, warts (and Americanisms) and all.[20]
...even though it's been a while since I read this story my memory of it is a good one and I remember liking it a lot. In fact I think it's probably the funniest Pros story I *have* read with some great lines.....and this is from someone who usually avoids funny stories like the plague but I thought the comedy here hit the perfect note - not too smug or clever but just funny and I loved lines and scenes ...[21]
I think the farcical tone works well here. While the author keeps the boys in character, she stretches them out just a bit to make them a little over the top.[22]
Okay, I do have one thing. I admit, it could have used a Brit beta. I'm still learning in Pros, but even I saw the glaring American spellings. I often wonder why something that simple isn't fixed in a Pros story. I don't think being published back in the 80s is a very good excuse to not edit. I can't tell you how many zines I have that didn't bother fixing the spelling to British. To me, it's a simple detail that should be taken care of by any editor who's putting out a zine in whatever country/universe the story is placed in. There might be a valid reason not to use the proper spellings for any show or movie. I see it a lot in Sentinel, with the British and Australia writers who use their local language. But that being said, this is a great story. (I almost changed the spellings in the quotes I used when I spell-checked, but I resisted.*g*)

I've come to the conclusion that this is part of the historical charm of these things, and I'm trying not to bitch about it anymore. *g*. Yes, it is easier said than done. Because clearly the Brit check was not standard procedure back in the 80s. And, equally clearly, if I let myself focus on it, a lot of the early stories will be spoiled for me.

Frankly, I'm so freaking picky it's hard enough to find stories that suit -- even now when Brit checks are taken for granted. And I guess if I had to choose between good writing and great characterization over flawless Britspeak, I'd have to go with with good writing and great characterization every time.

And if I can find both...I'm a fan for life.[23]
I tend to be picky about plot and pairings and the tone of the story, so I'm willing to give the author a pass on this sort of thing. Especially if the story is older. Currently, there's not much excuse not to edit with the net and the ease of zapping a file in seconds to an editor. But I do give the older authors more leeway, even with some characterisation because of the lack of sources to watch over and over like we have today.[24]
That's great hearing. It's just a feel good fic. It makes you smile and laugh and roll your eyes. It's a good story to run to after a bad day or if you accidentally read a death story (happened to me this week, arrrgh!). I was all bummed out after the death fic and had to read something else. I still dreamed about the bad one, though. *pout* But humour helped, as did writing some mush.[25]
I only have one thing to say. I LOVE THIS FIC! :D *the end*[26]

2012

The basis to this story is that of a surveillance operation. Doyle is chosen as the rent boy, various CI5 agents pick him up on a regular basis while the others observe from a window across the street. Bodie is selected for a very cushy job and spends a lovely couple of days in luxury, and comes back to find that the situation he left has changed dramatically. “What a difference two days made...

The operation is set up with pairs of agents, one to observe and the other to pick up Doyle. The op is boring, so there is banter and discussion, and then Murphy – a bit of an unknown quantity – bets McCabe that he can pick up anyone. McCabe is suckered into picking up Doyle for real. In order that no one cheats, McCabe is bugged. He fails, naturally. Bodie finds the whole thing amusing and disappears to escort Cowley to Paris. When he returns, all off duty agents are in on the bet and there is a lot of money riding on the outcome. Bodie is panicked because he knows Doyle will blame him. Inevitably, it’s Bodie’s turn to pick Doyle up and greatly to his surprise, Doyle is desperate to see him – and desperate also for his body. Bodie has a lot of swift decisions to make. Knowing that he is bugged, he tries to dissuade Doyle, but then his focus changes to enjoying the moment while thinking desperately of how to carry it off when all the other agents can hear what they are doing through the bug.

We don’t learn much about the surveillance operation, which is incidental to this whole story. What we do see is a set of cameos of the agents. Thus we see McCabe as not perhaps the brightest of the bunch, level-headed Anson with a wry sense of humour, Lake described as ‘always the weakest link’ etc.

There are some interesting insights on Bodie and Doyle – Bodie is depicted as not terribly bright, and Doyle as a sharp-tongued complainer. Here’s a description of Murphy, “Murphy was an unknown quantity, too new for Bodie to know if the middle-class affectations were real--in which case he could continue ignoring him with a clear conscience--or if they merely masked the mild psychosis that guaranteed social success with CI5.“

The character of Murphy is developed further than any of the others. He is portrayed as quiet, clever and cunning. His serious attempt to seduce Doyle nearly succeeds, and is what makes Bodie follow through with his own response to Doyle’s seduction and stiffens his resolve, as it were *g* Murphy’s anguish at Bodie’s confession at the end of the story is wonderful, as is Bodie’s explanation of his triple think.

The whole thing is salted with humour throughout, and although I found myself wanting to quote every other sentence, I haven’t because – well, you need to read the whole thing.

I did have a couple of minor issues. For me, the non-Britishisms grated slightly, so I would have preferred native alternatives to ‘trash’, ‘candy’ and ‘Rod Serling’ – I guess this is a reference to the Twilight Zone? Anyway, this is still one of my favourite stories so it obviously doesn’t bother me that much.

The other slight discomfort is the portrayal of our heroes. Bodie is really quite dim in this fic. And he knows it. And Doyle – bitching, moaning and complaining all the time. It’s funny, but they are not my Bodie and Doyle from the episodes.[27]
I did like Bodie and Doyle, both of them - I thought they were well done. I don't agree with you that Bodie's not supposed to be very clever though - I think our first impressions of him are that he is clever, far more so than the other agents: Life would be so much easier if Doyle was as cack-handed as McCabe who couldn't go under the covers of his own bed without looking conspicuous... Okay, technically that's telling us how good Doyle is at his job, but it's the fact that Bodie's the only person who recgonises and values that, which sets him apart... The moment when they're in the flat and Doyle's giving him a blow-job, and then Doyle tells him he's clever and Bodie lights up - to me that's always been not because Bodie's stupid, but because he's a bit insecure, and he wants Doyle to admire (ie, lurve) him. And now Doyle does! And Bodie wants an excuse to let Doyle keep going, and that's a perfectly good one to his subconscious, so... *g* And Bodie's all pleased about how "clever" he suddenly is not cos he's actually stupid, but because it means that he's the one who's got Doyle... *g* Oh, and Bodie's "menace" is intact... *g*

Doyle whinging and moaning - again, this didn't strike me as too overdone. Okay, they say he has a reputation for it, but then in the eps I don't think Doyle does suffer fools gladly (though he's very mate-y with the other agents, contrary to some fic!), and I can see that as being translated by the less brighter wits of CI5 as "moaning"... and he doesn't actually moan in the story, he reacts as I'd expect him to react. He tells McCabe off, when McCabe is being useless, he snaps at Murphy - he beats off all the other agents, including Murphy (though I like that they've got him all jumpy, too... though heee for his interpretation of why! *g*) and he's clearly considered chancey to cross, even if behind his back half of them might be wondering about him - and I like that the potential of that "wondering" annoys Bodie too, and gets his protective hackles up... I like that Shell has shown us that Bodie's got protective instincts about Doyle, but in a bloke-who-wouldn't-do-anything-about-it-unless-the-other-bloke-really-couldn't-handle-himself kind of way.

I don't remember wincing hugely at the Americanisms when I first read this, being caught up in giggling at it, but they don't hold up to re-reading, and this time I also noticed that in the second line "Bodie rolled his eyes, not bothering to comment" and then immediately says "Give it a rest" - commenting! Beta?! Otherwise though, it's not just words, but twists of non-Brit phrases in the mouths of our lads that make me cringe - "You sure are running hot and cold (Betsy-Lou)..." But it's odd, because some of it is in language you wouldn't blink at (that's not American, as far as I've ever heard) and you'd think that whoever could have written/Brit-picked that could have done the rest. But hey-ho - this is one of the few Pros stories I'll read (mostly) happily anyway! *g* [28]
I've always enjoyed this story. It makes me laugh. I was entertained so that's what counts.[29]
This is a very enjoyable story... I love seeing Doyle getting more and more stressed (and ratty) as the pick-ups go on and on. I found Bodie adorable - the whole scene where he's bugged and Doyle is giving him a blow job - priceless! I liked Murphy here, quiet, a bit mysterious. Yeah, I can see that.[30]
I really don't like the story!...

I think Bodie is actually quite unlikeable and macho. And the humour is often over the top, exaggerated. (Someone called it 'slapstick'.) And then the 'joke' repeats itself on and on. I think, the idea would have made at most a good short story.

Well, I really like it more subtle. Just have a look at Tea For Two by Alexandra. It's not a so called funny story, but IMO it's written with a twinkling eye! :-) That's the way I love it.[31]

References

  1. Close Quarters Desert Island Episode/Zine/Fic dated July 18, 2009; reference link.
  2. from alicambs, Archived version
  3. Jan Levine posting to the Virgule-L mailing list in 1995, quoted with permission.
  4. comment at Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (January 30, 1999)
  5. comments by Quine at Slash Sluts Multifandom Recs Board: Apologies - and a few Professionals recs, Archived version, 2000
  6. from a 2003 comment at Crack Van
  7. from a 2003 comment at Crack Van
  8. from a 2003 comment at Crack Van
  9. from a 2006 rec50; archive is
  10. recommendations by allaire mikháil, 2007
  11. WebCite. (2009)
  12. 2009 comments from CI5hq; archive is
  13. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  14. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  15. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  16. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  17. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  18. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  19. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  20. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  21. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  22. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  23. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  24. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  25. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  26. 2009 comments from CI5hq
  27. 2012 comments from CI5hq
  28. 2012 comments from CI5hq
  29. 2012 comments from CI5hq
  30. 2012 comments from CI5hq
  31. 2012 comments from CI5hq