Rough Trade (Professionals story)
|Author(s):||M. Fae Glasgow|
|External Links:||online here|
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It was published in £3 Note Series #3 and is online.
Like Pinocchio’s nose, this one grew...and grew...and grew! In the beginning M. Fae had an idea for a scene, nothing much just an interesting situation. But then she found it needed an end, and a beginning, and, well, most of its middle. The result: Rough Trade, where the title reflects both the concept and the action in the story. It’s a voyage of discovery. Bodie thinks he is on a voyage of discovery about Doyle, only to discover that the voyager is himself. Here is a man who thinks he’s on to a sure thing, only to find that there’s nothing sure about anything, including himself. Warning to the reader: M. Fae says she will not do a sequel. Please feel free to pick up the string and see where it leads.
Reactions and Reviews
...stunning... ROUGH TRADE was a subtle exploration of love, sex, and fear. I adored the last scene where the two... (won't say, as I don't want to spoil it!) 
Re. the WE'RE NOT GAY concept, I've heard [C's] s comments, and yours, and furthermore M. Fae Glasgow did a bloody brilliant version of the I'M NOT GAY story in "Rough Trade", where Bodie says he isn't gay, he just likes fucking men. The point is that you can write a story well when Bodie is so closety he can't even admit he's gay to his lover - but a story where the writer won't admit that Bodie's gay is likely to be a failure. That's the difference.
M.Fae Glasgow is one of my favourite Pros authors, and I totally intend to print out more of her fic tonight and read happily on, but the first one I pulled from the pile was Rough Trade, so I thought I'd start with that...
Rough Trade sees the lads start off on a sexual relationship, but not at all smoothly and happily - and M.Fae didn't ever pretend to be a fluffy writer of happy-fic, her stories tend to be gritty and uncomfortably realistic in many ways. Her lads are often rather prickly behind their jovial facades, and she's not afraid of showing that. No matter how much you want them to be different, in M.Fae's stories they are laid starkly bare in their views of the world, in where these came from, and they just don't always behave the way heroes are supposed to behave. A bit like in the eps, really... *g*
The thing is, through all the spikiness and grim grey of their world, M.Fae also shows us (in most of her stories) that the lads really do need and want and in fact love each other - it's just that circumstances, and the way they've grown up (and let's be honest, they're men who've grown up to be killers, for whatever reason) mean that they can't always be honest with each other, or even themselves, about that.Rough Trade is very like that - Bodie does not want to admit to being "queer", and neither does Doyle when he's found out. Bodie is not kind, Doyle is not noble, but M.Fae showed me so well the reasons behind the way they were acting that on the one hand I was worrying that reality would continue to be reality and things would turn out badly, but on the other hand I was sure that it wouldn't - because the lads both knew, they just had to admit that they knew... Don't get me wrong, this isn't a "misunderstandings" story, I don't think I've ever read one of those by M.Fae, this is a full-on, real-hearted, keep-you-on-your-toes story. I love those kind. They make you think, and they involve you full-time, and you remember them afterwards. Brilliant.
I do like M Fae's fic, but I have to be in that kind of a mood to be able to read them. They are uncomfortably harsh and probably not how I ideally like to see my boys - but I guess they are probably more realistic because of who and what they are. No, you couldnt ever accuse M Fae of writing fluff, could you? lol 
Themes: hard-edged lads; realism rather than romance; self-image, denial and; challenging fanon.
- they aren't at all fluffy and nice in this one, but they are recognisably them. Bodie makes up a tall story about Doyle's alleged tight-fistedness while Doyle cheerfully buys the first drink. Bodie calls him “Little Ray’: Doyle manages “to keep the grin from his own face: little Ray indeed!” They’re competitive, they slag each other off, but it’s the kind of competition and slagging that actually demonstrates that they’re comfortable with each other, at least until sex enters the equation. In the pub at the outset of the story they are clearly both together and apart from everyone else, particularly the women they hunt on the first visit. And on the second visit, when they’ve had a bad day, Bodie’s thoughts are centred on Ray: …if Doyle wanted to drown himself in drink, Bodie wasn’t going to gainsay him – what’s more, he’d even foot the bill, especially given what he owed Doyle beyond the realm of hard currency.”.
Ray has a secret, and I love the way she delivers hints about that from the outset. Bodie’s overt camping makes him uneasy – he understands his sexuality much better than Bodie does, but he’s fearful of what might happen if someone reports them to Cowley. And once Bodie finds him out he attempts to deny it, but Bodie’s onto him, he wants, needs to know.
On the other hand Bodie, who, we find out later, has had sexual relations with men, considers himself a ‘real man’, not anything remotely approaching a ‘queer’. As far as he’s concerned his forays into homosexuality were purely for a little extra cash, or for convenience (”…it was better round the back of the barracks, or in one or two pubs I know… Only enough to tide me over till payday once in a while…”).... Of course, Bodie makes a complete mess of things. To begin with, he behaves towards Ray as though he’s simply a convenient means to get his rocks off. And this would seem intolerably harsh, if we didn’t have those little clues to keep us going. He tells himself he doesn’t see himself as sentimentally attached to anyone, but M Fae keeps reminding us – and Bodie – that when it comes down to it he would do absolutely anything for Doyle.
I love the way they battle with each other, as equals. I love the way that M Fae gives us enough of what’s going on inside each of their heads (through POV changes and, sometimes, through statements of what one of them is thinking that we know are false) to keep hoping. The ending is not a clear path to the future (and given it’s a story set pre-series, it probably can’t be), but they’ve turned a corner and that in itself is extremely satisfying.The only part that I wondered about was whether Macklin made an entirely believable macguffin.
M. Fae is an extremely clever and skillful writer, and does indeed craft a great many memorable lines! Her vision of the lads themselves is sometimes too dark for me, and there are fics where she has them treat each other worse than I feel their relationship warrants (yes they are professional killers, and their characterisation could easily be stretched to dehumanising others, but they are a mobile ghetto and I think each needs to include the other as a fellow insider), but in any case that's a matter of taste and interpretation ... I do admire her writing but I think there are times when she lets sheer craft and virtuosity and her love of the baroque ornament in language edge too close to centre-stage. Ah, but when she's good she's very very good! Some of those turns of phrase are downright amazing!