November (Professionals story)

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The Professionals Fanfiction
Title: November
Author(s): Sebastian
Date(s): 1991
Length: 32 pages
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links: November

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November is a slash Professionals story by Sebastian.

It was first published in the £3 Note Series in the second issue, and then later online.

In 2008 fanartist shoooting2kill set photo-manips to text from the story. It can be found here. [1]

Reactions and Reviews

1993

You all may recall that [fan name redacted] recently communicated a desire that anyone daring to call Pros the "nice fandom" sit down and read Sebastian's story, 'November' (published in Queer As Two Three-Pound Notes) for a not-nice, but good, reading experience.

Well, last night I read 'November'.

This morning my brain is still reeling from having been subtly, systematically, and completely blown away.

Thanks a lot, [fan name redacted]. Just how the hell am I supposed to *function* as a writer now, huh? 'S cruel, that is.

Two-and-a-half-word capsule review: 'S fuckin' brilliant.

One-sentence review: Go out and buy the whole damn zine. 'S worth it.

One-sentence warning for anyone with fanfic composition aspirations: Your writing ego is about to be demolished.

(One paragraph gripe: It's appalling that the usually high-quality Oblique people didn't proofread this story--I mean, we're talking frequent punctuation and spelling errors, a wrong word in the next-to-last, rather important sentence [fortunately easy to figure out], missing quote marks, sentences beginning with lower-case letters, and even a few bizarre mathematical symbols tossed in at random. Maybe they left all those typos in as a kindness to those of us who were already writhing on the floor in agony, convinced we'd never read [or write] a story as brilliant as this one, so that we could catch our breaths once in a while by thinking, "Oh, but there's a glaring error here--guess it's not a perfect story after all. Guess I have a reason to go on living now.")

Well, okay, maybe I went a bit overboard there in my praise. But yeah...this a good story. It's not a "nice" story. But it is *SATISFYING*. [2]
'November' was wonderful, and 'Ambush' is one of my all time *least* favorite stories--certainly Thomas story I like least.

In 'November', and others of this ilk, Bodie and Doyle have a strong attraction and even love for each other--they are also fucked up, confused, violent men, with pasts and natures that make it hard for them to love and communicate.

In 'Ambush', Bodie and Doyle have a strong attraction for each other, and they are fucked up. Love each other? Like each other? Respect each other? Not just no, but fuck no. Assuming you could get past all of that, and still be reading during the (beautifully written) sex scene, and the ambiguous but still hopeful ending--do you really think that these two men can continue to work together? Doyle really thought that Bodie was going to kill him, and Bodie knows that. Trust? I don't THINK so... [3]

1994

She did write my all-time favorite Pros story: "November" [from the zine "Queer as Two Two-Pound Notes", Oblique; try to ignore all the typos, it's worth it]. One of the few angst-ridden pieces of fanfic that made me actually *believe* that the Lads could act/think that way. [4]

2007

A bit dark but beautifully written overall. And, again, she builds up a genuine plot to rest the framework of Doyle's slow return to active duty -- and Doyle and Bodie coming to terms with their feelings for each other. I admit I was impressed. She picks up later in the Doyle recovery story, so a lot of the traditional elements are missing, although the nightmare, and shaken trust is there. What I especially like about Sebastian's work -- Kate does this as well -- is that she's able to flesh out what already exists (which is, i think, what you really hope for from good fan fic) and develop from there. Her dialog is excellent for the most part. [5]
'November' is in ...as a 3-pound Note 2. I just re-read it this weekend, lying in front of the fan. That is a fine all-round zine, with 'heavy' stories by Shoshanna, Sebastian and Thomas and several amusing stories by M. Fae under her lighter pseudonyms. No rapes...but this is the zine with the infamous Foley catheter story; I managed everything up to this one, but the catheter story was too much for me. Everything else, including the stories leading to the catheter, worked for me, although I do have reservations about Bodie as a bottom in S&M; I don't really understand it, and that's what bothered me in the catheter story as well. Great zine, though. [6]

2009

I have a special fondness for Discovered in a Graveyard stories. Partly because I think the episode is one of the best and most complex (even if Doyle does look like an ailing mime); partly because I see the canon event of Doyle's "death" as such a powerful catalyst for change -- both personal and professional -- in the lads' relationship; partly because there is a wealth of dramatic and romantic dynamics in these stories. Plus it's a perfect opportunity for some serious hurt/comfort. By now I consider myself a sort of connoisseur of DiaG fics and I never pass up the opportunity to read one. The very first one I ever read was Sebastian's beautiful but unsettling November, and you know what they say about never forgetting your first time....I love how Sebastian skillfully feeds us bits of important information piece meal, avoiding the perils of the big info dump at the start of the story. She takes her time and lets the tension build while we gradually get the whole picture: Bodie is in love with Doyle and Doyle is on the run from acknowledging both what Bodie feels and what he feels himself. Doyle desperately wants everything to go back to the way it was, and Bodie already knows it can never be the same.

Just some general observations of things I think Sebastian does well: dialog -- I think she does a great job with their voices. Not merely capturing the way they sound, but the kinds of things they would say, the jokes, the attitude, the insights. Sex -- she writes sex with an imaginative exuberance and the sex is always a vital part of the story, not just thrown in because the lads look so pretty fucking. (Or so fucking pretty.) Character -- I don't always agree with her reading of their characters (I have trouble with the Siren series, for example) but they're always interesting and complex characters.

Other thoughts on the writing…I like her floating POV. It's not something I usually enjoy outside of fan fiction, but I think it emulates the camera's eye, and Sebastian does it mostly effectively. I like that this is a genuine case story. I like that although Sebastian writes her Bodie and Doyle tough -- possibly a little unbalanced -- she captures the tolerant humor and tenderness between them.

[7]

I try, but I'm just an oddity.

So my first impression upon finishing. . .crappy story. What was the actual point? Doyle was fine as a snarky SOB but he became almost whiney and ridiculous with his doubting everything. Neither seemed capable of speaking a sentence of truth and then the op that should have cemented their desire to really get to the Old Bones and instead, they're cold baby boys. This is no where close to my Bodie and Doyle.

The air was never cleared, their intent remained frozen inside the immature minds of Bodie and Doyle. I would rather read a great characterization by a weak author than a crappy story by an author that most folk consider a master.

2nd reading wasn't much different. [8]

It's certainly one of Sebastian's bleaker stories, and it is a little uneven in places, but mostly I really like it.... And as bleak as I do find this story, I find the ending unequivocally reassuring. Wherever they go, they go together. They're clearly done in CI5. Ray's had a heart attack or something during the shoot out and Bodie's hand is probably crippled. And yet it seems a positive (happy might be too strong) ending.

Although I confess that last line bugs me and always has. I wanted something a little more there... [9]

I wasn't sure I'd comment, since I haven't really been participating in these discussions before now. But since the first commenter hated the story, I have to pipe up to say I liked it a lot. The early part isn't very successful, I think, but as the emotional situation gets more fraught and complicated (starting when they pick up the girls in the bar) it just gets better and better.

To me, the tension between them, the way that they're reluctant to acknowledge or act on what they feel and each half-angry at the other one for making him feel it, the way Bodie's haunted by death and Doyle feels emasculated by his near-death and unwilling to show any fear--that all feels right. These are not uncomplicated men, and there's a lot of darkness in them. There has to be, given the job they chose and the things it makes them do. The flaring tempers and sudden quarrels that are just as suddenly ended ring true to Bodie and Doyle's canonical relationship, too. They make the moments of affection, of communion, all the more powerful....The ending is painful, because they'd come so far and then they're fucked over by CI5 bullshit and it almost destroys them. But that, too, is true to the canon (and I respect Sebastian for not whitewashing the brutal and morally problematic nature of CI5's work). And then, amazingly, they manage to get past it--Bodie reaches out, and Doyle goes to him. Despite his premonitions, Bodie is the optimistic one throughout the story, the one who wants to live and feel instead of just shutting down. Naturally he'd be the one to find the courage, at this moment of despair, to try again. And I think it's the events of the earlier parts of the story that have helped Doyle trust him enough to follow.

Maybe it's a matter of personal taste, but in this fandom I enjoy stories like this more than schmoopy stories where Bodie and Doyle just have to realize their love for each other and everything's fine. It's those stories that feel out-of-character to me. [10]

To me, the tension between them, the way that they're reluctant to acknowledge or act on what they feel and each half-angry at the other one for making him feel it, the way Bodie's haunted by death and Doyle feels emasculated by his near-death and unwilling to show any fear--that all feels right. These are not uncomplicated men, and there's a lot of darkness in them. There has to be, given the job they chose and the things it makes them do. The flaring tempers and sudden quarrels that are just as suddenly ended ring true to Bodie and Doyle's canonical relationship, too.

Yes, I think no one does this better than Sebastian, the contrast between the boys and the killers, the jokey tenderness and the utter ruthlessness, the fun adventure of CI5 and the betrayal and treachery of it. She captures all that very well in this story. [11]

I'll be the third voice, and kind of a middle ground concerning Sebastian. I carefully tread with this author. She writes beautifully, but I rarely have any desire to reread her stories. They just don't stick with me, make me "feel" or think. BUT before the author's many, many well deserved fans stomp on me, let me say that this one (so far, I haven't read all her stories) is my favourite. And this was a first time for me to read this one. It's one I would reread.

I liked this a lot. I could see and hear the lads. I liked the angst that was kept in its place and not allowe to overrun the story. The way the story unfolded was excellent. I never felt the rush to hurry and read ahead (a sign I'm bored).

I had absolutely no problem with her POV, something that often sends me right out of a story and means I don't finish. This story had a good mix. It was tender in parts, hard in parts, but altogether, it worked so well for me that when I hit the end, I was happy.

I had a moment's hesitation when they were separated with only a few paragraphs left, and I was kicking myself for not reading the end first, telling myself that this was the usual MO: another of those angsty separation stories that other people love and I avoid like the plague. I was prepared to finish and be really irritated. It didn't happen! Thank God. There wasn't much to the reunion, but I admit, those simple few last words were like music. They said so much in just that simple exchange.

So I give this story a huge thumbs up. [12]

And, I will say that while I am definitely in the Sebastian camp, not every one of her stories works as well for me. The Siren series is problematic for me, I don't understand or follow a lot of Wonderful Tonight -- although in both cases I do reread and enjoy them, which I guess is the ultimate test of whether a story works or doesn't? Assuming you're the re-reading kind.

I liked this a lot. I could see and hear the lads. I liked the angst that was kept in its place and not allowe to overrun the story. The way the story unfolded was excellent. I never felt the rush to hurry and read ahead (a sign I'm bored).

Right! She really did take time and there are all these wonderful vignettes -- the evening with the girls, the blow job in the alley, Doyle fumbling his way through the breakfast encounter with Fred. Wonderful stuff there and all giving such a strong sense of who these men are and what their lives are like and why they are so necessary to each other's survival. [13]
See, I was okay with this ending. But I'm not a reader who needs, or a writer who does, spell out every single thing by The End. I like a happy ending, so I got that. I also like the ending settled, rather than ambiguous (generally, exceptions are out there, of course). To me, the end was settled with them making their decision to be together from that second onward. I don't need to see them having dinner or sex or even talking about what they'll do now, because I got everything here in those last words. My brain took me to a happy place, so I was satisfied by the end that all was well. [14]
I love Sebastian’s work and I love this story but for some reason whenever I think of it I always associate it with depression rather than with the usual hefty dose of melancholy which is so often a part of her style (even with the more humourous stories where it's often a bitter-sweet kind of humour). So I’ve been trying to work out *why* I remember this story in the way that I do and more so than her other stories. Maybe it’s the time of year (and that ominous choice of title): that bleak month when we’re all waiting to get Christmas over and done with; or the fact that much of the story takes place in a rundown hotel room and is slightly claustrophic (and yet they seem to find it cosy and can shut out the world but I don't see it that way); maybe there's too much emphasis (inevitable in a confined space?) on their - at times - self-destructive relationship? Maybe the backbiting isn't balanced enough with sweeter sentiments so that at times they just don't seem to be on the same wavelength? And when we get one of Sebastian’s trademark Doyle snaps: "Don't fuss, for chrissake", I'm thinking, yes, I *have* occasionally seen Doyle behave like this in episodes so I suppose it is canon, but I don’t know..... my overall view of Doyle vis a vis Bodie isn’t quite like that. Maybe, it's as you say, that Bodie is more preoccupied with death than usual and that's not like our Bodie; maybe it’s the way Doyle rejects Bodie’s fussing - I don’t know. Maybe it’s the too realistic portrayal of much of poor London? I think the following paragraph is typical of what I mean with the author’s deliberate use of certain words which seem to colour the whole passage and set the reader up for something very sad: e.g. *grimy* backstreets, ’frail’ (worn and old) pretty dresses, *un*painted swings, *cracked* concrete, gardenless houses backing into more of the same. I feel all the adjectives chosen are deliberately negative and sad and it’s all a bit poor and dismal. (Maybe it’s just my nostalgia showing for 70s London? Dunno.) Other Sebastian stories can have their depressing elements but knowing that doesn’t seem to colour my overall view of them and I can return to them without a heavy heart, but this one I’m more wary of, more guarded with, and, as you've said, it's all a bit unsettling. But having said that, yes, providing I'm in a strong frame of mind, I'd much rather read a story about two complex, mature characters than something less challenging and unrealistic. [15]
I agree that it is probably her darkest work. Darker than Velvet Underground, which always seems just a bit stagey and contrived to me (though such beautiful writing and imagery). [16]
...it's skilful writing, writing that paints pictures in my imagination, writing that draws me in and wraps me in dark layered blankets... humour, my idea of 'true to life', and I like the claustrophobia of the room, of their relationship, of their work. The whole fic works very well for me... [17]
Yeah, it's funny but I couldn't quite work out *why* I should feel it was more depressing than other Sebastian stories.....The Same River beckons me for a reread more than November and yet the idea of that story is probably more offputting than November - and I'd say it was definitely darker and more disturbing. [18]

November is the dullest, bleakest month - it's a good title, but I don't find this as bleak or disturbing as "Wonderful Tonight" or "Velvet Underground".

I find Sebastian hard going, and I'm so pleased that you obliged me to read another one of hers, and that you and others have been explaining the appeal (or not) at some length.

Since there was much discussion of the final sentences of "November" (I agree - it is a bit lacking, it ends at the right place, but it's just a bit unemotional) I have to say that I love the final scene of "Wonderful Tonight" - it is *almost* worth the pain of getting there.

It's the pain that puts me off. I hate to see the lads being as cruel to each other as Sebastian makes them, even if I can accept intellectually that they are more interesting as complex characters. [19]

References

  1. ^ WebCite
  2. ^ In July 1993, a fan posted the following review of Sebastian's story 'November' to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is quoted here with permission.
  3. ^ posted to the Virgule-L mailing list, quoted here with permission.
  4. ^ comment by Alexfandra on Virgule-L, quoted with permission (September 27, 1994)
  5. ^ The Devil's Workshop by jgraeme2007 dated Sep. 29th, 2007;WebCite.
  6. ^ fan reviewing the zine of the Virgule-L mailing list in 1993, quoted anonymously with permission.
  7. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009;WebCite
  8. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  9. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  10. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  11. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  12. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  13. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  14. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  15. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  16. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  17. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  18. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite
  19. ^ NOVEMBER by Sebastian posted to ci5hq in 2009; WebCite