The Art of the AU


"What you reading?" Bodie asked, seeing Doyle nursing his tea in one hand and a rather dog-eared, typewritten document in the other. Whatever it was, his partner's expression was shifting from baffled, to amused, to surprised as he read it.

"Don't think you want to know," he muttered, although knowing his partner, Doyle was probably aware that this would only make Bodie all the more curious.

He was clever like that, Doyle was--a master of saying something that meant the opposite. "Gerroff, Bodie" tended to mean an invitation for a quick fondle, for instance.

"Right." Bodie could do this sort of thing too, he decided. He bustled around the kettle, pretending to have no interest in whatever it was.

"You're not going to believe this. I mean look," Doyle said even before Bodie had tracked down the tea bags. "Found it on the floor, but it's...odd."

Bodie allowed himself a moment's self-congratulation for predicting that Doyle wanted him to read it, and then sauntered over there casually.

"Proposed scenarios for AUs" it said at the top, with the title underlined.

"What's an AU when it's at home?" Bodie said, peering over Doyle's shoulder.

"Your guess is as good as mine. But it's got something to do with us. I mean..." Doyle stabbed at the first line, "Pirates: Bodie as British Officer with lots of gold braid and a hat with a cockade, Doyle as a pirate with tight trousers and frilly shirt (open to waist). Plus swords."

"Gold braid? Cockade?" Bodie frowned. "Blimey. Not that the tight trousers would be a problem for you. Or for me, if I get to enjoy pre-keelhauling pleasures. Is this something to do with fancy dress?"

"Could be. Then there's "Romans: Bodie as Roman nobleman with toga (short), Doyle as slave. Also with toga (very short). Quite apart from the bloody toga, what I want to know is why the hell should I be the slave anyway?"

"Can't think," Bodie smirked, sinking down on the battered settee to get a better view of the list and of what would be under the toga. "Oh, nice one. Space: Bodie as ship's captain (with tight-fitting polyester top and trousers ending just above the ankle), Doyle as space stowaway (wearing as little as possible). Somebody's been watching too much Star Trek."

"Yeah. Think you'd do better with the pointed ears, personally. And wearing as little as possible? Blimey."

"Some sort of theme coming out here," Bodie frowned. "Arabian nights: Bodie in ample, flowing robes and teatowel-thing, Doyle as slave (wearing as little as possible)."

"Weird," Doyle agreed. "Mind, I could quite fancy you in the flowing robes thing as long as there's nothing underneath 'em."

"Cheek," Bodie snorted, still perusing the document but noting that great minds could indeed think alike when it came to nakedness under togas or robes. "How about this then? "Victorian setting: Bodie as rich nobleman (richly embroidered waistcoat and top hat), Doyle as barefoot (possibly bare-chested) ragamuffin. Must say I get the better wardrobe. You'd spend half the time catching yer death, as well."

"Dunno," Doyle chuckled. "I get a fur coat in this one. Cat: Doyle turns into sleek black panther every full moon. Bodie: remains Bodie. Whatever that means."

"Utterly charming and with an extra-large tin of Whiskas at hand?" Bodie grinned, but then found himself staring. "But look at this. The last one."

"Heh," Doyle shook his head. "Elves: Bodie as big strong elf, Doyle as ethereal elf. Both with green tights (Bodie in slimmer mode, preferably)."

"Slimmer mode?" Bodie's eyes flew to his midriff. "Slimmer mode? What's that supposed to mean, eh?"

"Less spotted dick," Doyle said laconically, holding the piece of paper up to the light and squinting at it.

"What the...?"

"Trying to read under the Tip-Ex. There's one just above the elves that got painted out. Says something about--I dunno--ballet dancers?"

"No way," Bodie grumbled. "What does it say? One of us in a tutu?"

"Can't read all of it. Line of xxxx all the way through as well, although I think there's something about 'tight' something and 'bare' something. That'll be me, then, judging by the rest."

"Don't see why it's always you who should get 'tight' and 'bare', really," Bodie grumbled, eyeing the biscuit tin wistfully. "But of course we don't all wear jeans that leave nothin' to the imagination and set a few typists' hearts flutterin'."

"Don't take it to heart," Doyle soothed. "Think I'd rather not be half naked and ethereal quite so often meself."

"Fully naked and in my bed's all right though, yeah?" Bodie enquired. "And there's nothing ethereal about you in there, sunshine, if last night was anything to go by."

"Should bloody well hope not. You weren't exactly behaving like you'd just taken yer tutu off either."

"No," Bodie agreed, mind drifting happily to thoughts of Doyle's arse, Doyle's lips, but the daft sod was still staring at the bit of paper and frowning.

"Still wonder what it's all about, though. Any more ideas on what AU means? Australian something? I always knew Aussies were odd, but--?"

"No idea," Bodie said after a minute. "And I'm not going to start waving it around the typing pool, am I? Bet it's one of them, though. Perverts."

"You could be right. Hey--Murphy might know what it means," Doyle said as their lanky colleague walked in. "Murph, if somebody said AU to you, and it involved pirates and elves and stuff...."

"Slash," Murphy said immediately, rummaging in the cupboard above the kettle.

He'd just been or needed one, Bodie wondered?

"Not always, though," Murphy added. "Sometimes you get 'em that are just smarm, really--the guys don't actually fuck or it sort of skips over the issue. Or is that pre-slash? No--that's when they've not actually got to the sex yet. Don't think there's much gen AU--that lot tend to avoid it for some reason. Not seen a het one either, but I wouldn't mind some mediaeval wench for a roll in the hay."

"'E's still groggy from that concussion last week," Bodie told his partner in an undertone, wondering what the hell Murphy was on about.

"No I'm not," Murphy retorted. "There's nothing wrong with a good bit of AU in my opinion, although I know some people hate it. Not keen on the elves, though."

"I hate elves," Bodie grumbled, admitting to himself that was more because of the 'slimmer mode' insult than anything else, but he wasn't going to say so.

Murphy finally located the biscuit tin. Bodie's stomach rumbled but he waved it away. Doyle--who wouldn't be ethereal enough to be elf-like much longer if he went on like that, as Bodie pointed out--took two chocolate digestives.

"Oh, there's nothing wrong with AUs all," Doyle said airily, obviously not wanting to admit his own ignorance. "In fact Bodie and I were just discussing this list--know anything about it?"

Murphy took it from him and skimmed it before shaking his head and rolling his eyes.

"'E's 'urt because there's no mention of 'im in a toga or tights," Doyle teased. "That right, Murph?"

"You can keep both, ta--and the rest. Apparently I'm going to be the main character in a crossover."

"That those bras they keep advertising?" Doyle asked.

"No, daft git. That's cross your heart," Bodie said helpfully, pleased to show off his general knowledge. "Does it involve a wench, Murph?"

"Bloody well hope so," Murphy said, grabbing another biscuit and talking through it. "Don't get too carried away with the exotic stuff though, you two. Tights can be a bugger to get off somebody when you're in a hurry--and all those nasty sharp swords...."

Bodie looked at Doyle as Murphy left.

"Maybe not tights, no, but the slave idea...."

"No, Bodie. Not even in your wildest, kinkiest dreams. And we still haven't found out what AU means."

"Awkward Underwear," Bodie mused. Then, slowly, he grinned. "Or Appealing and Unfettered--all those half-naked slaves...."


"Possibly," Bodie grinned lasciviously, aware of doing so but hoping he'd never have to spell it. "Come along then, my little ragamuffin."

"Don't forget the ethereal."

"Ethereal's over-rated," Bodie grumbled. "And I'd look amazing in a waistcoat and top hat if I say it myself. Or even a toga."

"Prefer you out of 'em," Doyle said cheerfully. "But yeah, it might be an improvement on that bloody mustard-coloured cardigan."

"Now I'm hurt," Bodie told him, considering the idea of a biscuit to cheer himself up.

"Don't be. Right--we going to make a move?"

"Might as well," Bodie nodded. "Hang on a minute, though--can I just make a note that we're not really taken with the elves idea?"

"Spoilsport," Doyle told him. "Quite fancy you in a hat with a bell on. Or even one with a cockade, actually."

"Even if I'm not tights material?"

"Hear me complainin', did you? C'mon--sooner we finish up, sooner we can concentrate on the undressin' rather than all this weird stuff."

"Sounds like a good idea, Raymond. Tell you what, though--they missed a few. How about cowboys? Vikings? Dammit, with a bit of imagination they could even make us into a pair of sexy secret agents 'avin it off at every possible opportunity."

"'Ardly," Doyle sighed. "Although we could add that to the list? Give 'em a bit of inspiration, sort of thing?"

"Could do," Bodie said. "But I don't think anybody'd ever see us like that, would they?"

"Maybe not," Doyle admitted. "But you never know."

-- THE END --

January 2005

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