The X-Files canon may be complete (for now), but the fandom around this series has kept right on evolving and creating beautifully original stories that center Mulder and Scully’s emotional journey over the past three decades. Much as I’ll always adore the 13 classic Mulder/Scully fics I first recommended, I am also thrilled to regularly discover new favorites from the many talented writers continuing the agents’ story. Allow me to introduce a few that have won my heart in the past few years…
“Chicken Dinner” by cecily_sass (2021)
In case you couldn’t tell by my rec for Jet’s “Small Lives Awake,” I am enamored with the trope of Scully bringing Mulder home to spend time with her family. His loneliness is not addressed head-on nearly enough in the show for my taste, but it just makes sense to me that his partner would eventually acquiesce to what I imagine to be her mother’s polite insistence that he join them for a home-cooked meal. Both Scully women would know he didn’t receive social invites regularly, and Maggie, even if only out of a desire to be a part of her daughter’s mysterious life, would want Dana’s choice of (life) partner to feel welcome in her home.
And, okay, I’ll admit that I love Cecily_Sass’s “Chicken Dinner” for another big reason: It provides outsider commentary on the intense, clearly non-platonic relationship between the agents, who are forced to squirm under the laser-focused scrutiny of Mrs. Scully’s two nosey friends for the length of a three-course dinner party. Even better, Mulder and Scully overhear the ladies’ gossipy observations about them, compelling them to have a long-overdue conversation about their feelings. The whole fic is utterly delightful and features knee-weakening lines like:
“Some of what your mom said was true. … She guessed right…about me. That part was true. … I would do anything for you. That’s exactly right. I am definitely an all or nothing guy. And with you, it is choice A. All.”
Read “Chicken Dinner” on ao3 or listen to this 3-part story on Audio Fanfic Podcast.
P.S. I’m kiiiind of obsessed with Cecily’s writing and highly, highly recommend reading all her XF fic, including the immensely clever “Jackson Van De Kamp’s Not-So-Final Repose” (2021), thrilling time-travel adventure “The Boy on the Beach” (2022), and emotional rollercoaster “The Kaleidoscope” (2022).
“Love in All the Wrong Places” by SisterSpooky1013 (2022)
“You’ve Got Mail, but make it MSR” isn’t a concept I would have thought to seek out, but now I have no idea why not. SisterSpooky1013 was a new-to-me writer when I started “Love in All the Wrong Places,” and it impressed me to such a degree that I’ve been tearing through her other brilliant works ever since. Told mostly through instant messages, the story suggests that 1990s pre-relationship Mulder and Scully might have surrendered to office peer pressure and dipped a toe into a popular new singles’ internet chat room.
Unbeknownst to the other, Mulder signs up as “AllShookUp61,” while Scully chooses “Starbuck5306” as her username for the very same chat room. Not even anonymity can keep them apart for long, however, and they naturally gravitate toward each other through a series of private chats that quickly turn intimate. Keeping certain details private about their lives and work, Scully and Mulder nevertheless bond over a shared sense of humor, their loneliness, and–oh, yeah–their unrequited love for their unnamed partners. I may have screamed out loud at this exchange:
Starbuck5306 You love her?
AllShookUp61 I don’t think love is a strong enough word.
Starbuck5306 What’s a stronger word than love?
AllShookUp61 I would literally do anything for her. I’d rather die than lose her as a friend.
Starbuck5306 Is she pretty?
AllShookUp61 Again, vast understatement. She’s so beautiful it’s painful.
What happens when the agents learn they’ve been talking to each other the whole time? Well, you’ll have to read to find out. Suffice to say, the payoff is VERY sexy and satisfying.
Read “Love in All the Wrong Places” on ao3.
“Belphegor’s Prime” by prufrock’s love (2013-ish)
X-Philes have been discussing and recommending fic by Prufrock’s Love for as long as I’ve been a part of this fandom. Love it or hate it, the author’s take on Mulder and Scully in ’90s stories like “The Wasteland” and “The 13th Sign” is foundational to the community; a vital part of its history. Prufrock’s influence hasn’t stopped there, however, because after returning to the fandom around 2013, they’ve published several new works, including “Belphegor’s Prime.” A time-travel adventure that seemingly diverges from canon somewhere in Season 7 around the IVF treatments, this terrific fic wowed me with its characterization of both Mulder and Scully.
While the partners have matured and settled into a more domestic life as parents to two children (a daughter, Rebecca, born from the IVF treatments and a younger son named William), they haven’t lost the essence of who they’ve always been in canon. In fact, Mulder must confront the ways he’s changed (and hasn’t changed) in a literal sense when he time-travels back to 1993 in a desperate attempt to rescue modern-day Scully, who vanished without a trace several months earlier. Seeing 2009 Mulder interact with 1993 Scully is weird and thrilling in equal measure. Once again, Prufrock has written a piece destined to be analyzed for years.
Read “Belphegor’s Prime” on xphilefic.com and then listen to a Darkest Timeline book club discussion about it on Audio Fanfic Podcast.
“Fox Mulder, Closet Romantic” by SillhouetteOfACedar (2021)
Sweet but never saccharine, “Fox Mulder, Closet Romantic” is fluffy MSR at its best. It’s a treat to savor once you’ve had your temporary fill of darker, angstier fic. Mulder has realized his feelings in the months after Scully’s miraculous recovery from cancer and the tragic loss of Emily, but he has no clue how to tell her. So, with quintessential Mulder logic, he decides to show her instead, inviting her out for drinks and meals, well aware that’s too subtle for a relationship already as codependent as theirs. When Scully starts dating another man, Mulder accepts it…and pines all the more for her. Only a purple prose–suffused love letter stands a chance of shifting their relationship into romantic territory at last…
This story is Fox William Mulder at his most tender, thoughtful, and self-aware. I’d say it’s just right for anyone craving more of the man who showed up with flowers in “Memento Mori” or who sobbed silently over a certain someone’s hospital bed in “Redux II.”
Read “Fox Mulder, Closet Romantic” on ao3.
“Rocket Man” by bluesamutra (2022)
Trigger warning: This story includes discussion of miscarriage. Please be sure to mind the tags.
Did I binge 22 chapters of this fic in about 6 hours on a Sunday when I should have been doing any number of chores? Maybe. But if I did, who could blame me?! Bluesamutra’s well-regarded work has been a staple of my MSR fic diet for many years, but her latest work-in-progress, “Rocket Man,” is an instant classic if you ask me. This season 6-era story picks up after Scully’s accidentally shot by a fellow agent in “Tithonus,” a terrifying near-death experience that makes her realize she doesn’t want to put off a relationship with Mulder any longer. They don’t get much of a honeymoon period, though, because life throws them a series of curve balls, like Mulder getting partnered with Diana Fowley and Scully learning she’s pregnant.
By tweaking the show’s timeline just a bit, bluesumatra opens up a whole world of possibilities for the characters. How would Mulder have reacted to the idea of impending fatherhood in Season 6 vs. after his abduction in Season 8? Could Diana’s continued presence in Mulder’s life have been a good thing, giving him time and space to make peace with that part of his past? And what would a surprise pregnancy and reassignment to Quantico have meant for Scully? “Rocket Man” isn’t yet complete, and it deals with some pretty dark topics (make sure to read the content warnings), but I’m completely hooked. Come for the fascinating premise; stay for the terrific characterization and quotes like this one from Chapter 23:
“He’d always thought that traveling to the very end of the earth in search of her said everything she needed to know about how he felt about her. He hadn’t realized until last night that staying beside her said just as much.”
Read “Rocket Man” on ao3, keeping in mind this story is ongoing.
“Surely, to the sea” by dreamingofscully (2022)
I could go on for hours (and have!) about the deplorable lack of horror romance on bookshelves, so to say I was pleased to discover “Surely, to the sea” would be a big understatement. Inspired by Ed and Lorraine Warren’s fictionalized relationship in the Conjuring movies, dreamingofscully gifts us a world in which Mulder and Scully are married 1950s ghost hunters. Their latest case calls for them to investigate a possible haunting in a creepy old house whose creepy old owner is less than cooperative, and it’s all dredging up memories of a previous case that went very, very wrong. Good thing Scully and Mulder are on refreshingly solid footing as a couple, because this monster of the week will require all their energy (and maybe some mysterious new powers…) to face.
I get that horror isn’t for everyone, but if you, like me, appreciate moody, atmospheric pieces with established MSR where the conflict is more external than internal, give this one a shot! Not only will you get to see Scully introduce her partner as “my husband, Dr. Fox Mulder,” but you’ll get to see them openly displaying affection and offering each other vital support as they work the difficult case.
Read “Surely, to the sea” on ao3.
“Seraphim” by chekcough (2018)
Trigger warning: The tags for this story include implied/referenced suicide and miscarriage, both of which are discussed in my recommendation as well. Please proceed with caution.
Scully’s all-consuming grief over Mulder’s abduction and relatively short-lived “death” in Season 8 was painful enough–how would she have endured two YEARS of believing him dead by suicide? This is the nightmarish question at the heart of checkcough’s darkest-timeline fic “Seraphim,” though I don’t think it’s too big of a spoiler to say Mulder DOES return (the summary reveals as much) and that there’s a good, if tragic, reason he was forced to stay away so long. Told entirely from Scully’s perspective, the narrative bounces between present-day events and her memories of the last few years–some terribly dark, some bright and fluffy enough to serve as a breather from the angst.
Before Mulder left for the undercover assignment that would tear them apart, the two of them had been adjusting to life as a couple and starting to picture a future together; They had weathered a miscarriage, but were finding great joy as aunt and uncle to Charlie’s kids. Scully’s life shatters at the news of Mulder’s death, and she spends the next two years trying to reassemble the pieces into some semblance of a peaceful existence. His surprise reappearance is anything but a magical cure-all, with Scully cycling through a maelstrom of emotions and reactions they have to work through over time. Anyone who revels in the intense heartache of “DeadAlive” (c’mon, you can admit it!) will be swept up by “Seraphim.” It’s everything we crave as longtime X-Philes: angst with a happy ending.
Read “Seraphim” on ao3 or listen to this multi-chapter story on the Audio Fanfic Podcast. If you enjoy it, you’ll also want to check out the related Darkest Timeline Book Club discussion from the AFP crew.
“Visitor” by leiascully (2015)
Before this year, I didn’t read a ton of Revival fics. Why? Because they got in the way of me suppressing from my memory about 75% of what I saw in those episodes. Learning that Mulder and Scully were living apart in 2016 was the first gut punch, but not the last, and it’s taken me quite a bit of time to reconcile myself to Chris Carter’s vision for them in Seasons 10 and 11. While I still feel he focuses more on what bait will keep viewers coming back for more than on organic storytelling choices, I’m now striving to make peace with canon as it exists rather than what I wanted it to be. A big help on that front has been X-Files fanfic writers who, as they have been doing for decades now, find ways to reclaim these disappointing canon developments and somehow make them make sense.
Case in point is leiascully’s “Visitor,” which thoughtfully explores how Mulder’s depression post-2012 may have led Scully to move out of the Unremarkable House and–crucially–how they would have found their way back together once they were in an emotionally healthier place. Leiascully’s writing is absolutely beautiful and gives this sad, upsetting plotline more depth than we could ever hope to see onscreen. Best of all, she does it while reassuring us that some things will never change:
“He can’t explain the way their names became talismans, the way they could put a whole speech into just one word. ‘Watch out’ or ‘I love you’ or ‘You’re so full of shit your eyes are brown,’ all in a name. A Scully by any other name wouldn’t be his partner. They invented an entire language and crammed it into two words replete with nuance.”
Read “Visitor” on ao3, and then check out the rest of the fics in the “All the Choices We’ve Made” series, which includes “Resident,” Scully’s side of the story, also riveting.
“That First Step” by ATTHS_Twice (2018)
Speaking of Revival fic, I am ever so grateful to ATTHS_Twice for writing “That First Step” and helping me process a certain sofabed conversation in Season 11’s “Plus One.” After everything they’ve been through, I could not for the life of me figure out why Scully would ask “What if you meet someone” or say that she didn’t have anyone to have another child with when Mulder was RIGHT THERE, holding her. So yeah, I needed a fix-it fic, and “That First Step”came through for me, presenting true-to-character perspectives from both Mulder and Scully. They are both grappling with uncertainty about the status of their relationship, and because they’re them, they don’t handle it that well. But the love is there and as strong as ever…it’s just more overt in ATTS_Twice’s telling. I plan to reread it after every subsequent viewing of “Plus One” for my own peace of mind.
Read “That First Step” on ao3.
“Five Years and a Lifetime” by MonikaFileFan & SlippinMickeys (2021)
In the season 6 episode “Monday,” Mulder muses to Scully: “You might just as easily have stayed in medicine and not gone into the FBI, and then we’d never have met…” But is that really true? MonikaFileFan and SlippinMickeys put his assumption to the test in their addictive multi-chapter AU fic “Five Years and a Lifetime.” In a parallel world to canon, Scully is a pediatrician, while Mulder’s a child psychologist, and they first meet at a medical conference. Since they’re not colleagues, nature takes its course rather quickly, and they enjoy a night of fantastic, no-strings sex before parting ways. When Scully learns she’s pregnant several weeks later, she assumes the baby–a daughter she names Emily–is her ex Ethan’s, because they’d broken up shortly before her night with Mulder, with whom she’d used protection.
Flash forward five years: Emily is the light of Scully’s life, and she’s nothing at all like Ethan. In fact, she bears a striking resemblance to a young girl named Samantha, whose framed photo sits on the desk of Scully’s new colleague…Dr. Fox Mulder. As Scully and Mulder reconnect, getting to know each other for the first time, they find their attraction’s still as strong as ever. Can they finally make a go of it? Strange as it is to imagine a reality where Mulder and Scully aren’t FBI agents, there’s something irresistible about the idea of them getting a normal life and happily ever after.
Read “Five Years and a Lifetime” on ao3.
“Gates of Hell” by alienqueequeg (2020)
What would one of my fic lists be without a casefile? “Gates of Hell” by alienqueequeg is somehow both scary and sexy (at different times, of course). What sets it apart from the many other excellent stories in the genre, however, is how it delves into a largely unexplored era of Scully history: her medical residency. Given that canon tells us little to nothing about this period of her life, it’s entirely plausible that, like “Gates of Hell” establishes, Scully did a stint at a haunted hospital while crashing with her sister, Missy, and her partner. And since this is The X-Files, the chances of this (ultimately tragic) experience coming back to bite Scully in the ass would be no less than 100%. Darkness does always seem to find her.
Sure enough, a cold-case murder mystery finds Scully, now with Mulder in tow, returning to the northern California hospital where she’d once spent a few months she’d rather forget. By finally processing what happened back then, can Scully clear a path forward for her and Mulder in the present? You know I wouldn’t recommend this story if the answer weren’t a resounding “yes,” so if you can handle the darkness of this particular case (make sure to read the tags before starting), trust that you’ll be in for quite a ride. Rewards of the journey include but are not limited to heart-stirring quotes like:
“Listen to your gut, Melissa had always told her. It knows more than you think. Before she deepened the kiss [with Mulder], she listened, fearing confirmation that she was making the biggest mistake of her life. But her intuition told her that she was making the right choice. The only choice.”
Read “Gates of Hell” on ao3.
I know, I know: No “Huevelmans’ on the Track”? How could I skip Penumbra’s triumphant return under a new pen name?! But I haven’t read it yet! Truth be told, I’m overwhelmed (in the best possible way) by how many XF writers are out there spinning incredible tales every day, week, month. I can think of tons more authors who deserve a spot on a rec list, such as mldrgrl and OnlyTheInevitable and Skinfull, just to name a few. Work like theirs is encouraging me to keep reading and gathering recs, so you can be sure that–even if my focus shifts to other topics on the blog for a bit–I’ll continue publishing lists to spotlight must-read stories by a variety of authors. In other words: More X-Files fic recommendations to come!
Want more fanfiction recommendations? You may also enjoy “Revisiting 13 Classic X-Files Fanfics with Mulder/Scully”
And if you’re as crazy about MSR as I am, fear not, this blog has your back:
- A Shipper’s Guide to Watching X-Files for the Mulder/Scully Romance
- How to Say “I Love You” in X-Files by Fox Mulder and Dana Scully
- “You’re My 1 in 5 Billion”: 21 Times Mulder/Scully Ruined Me for All Other TV Romances
- 8 Clues Ellery/Reed Belong Together in the Ellery Hathaway Books (or: Why MSR Fans Simply Must Read the Ellery Hathaway Mystery Series—Just Trust Me on This)
- My 15 Favorite X-Files Fanvids