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02 May 2008 @ 09:01 am
Story 31: "Fugue" by RivkaT  
Nominated by frey_at_last, "Fugue," by rivkat, ranks among my favorite fan fiction stories in this or any fandom. It is very NC-17, for all of the usual reasons.

Here is what the author has to say: The DSM-IV defines fugue as travel in foreign places, often under an assumed identity.

Fugue

Let us know what you think; let the author know what you think; and please, let us know your suggestions for next time.
 
 
 
Caridictatorcari on May 2nd, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
Broke my little shipper heart, that did.

More thoughts later, when I sort them out in my head?
Technophobecounterphobe on May 3rd, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
I liked this a lot, but for now I'm going to limit my comment to something that won't spoil it for anyone who has yet to read it:

Would you agree that this is a case where the story is much more important than the writing style? Nothing wrong with the style, but it wasn't particularly quirky or memorable or "Rivka."
Naraht: xf-Phoneemily_shore on May 4th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
Would you agree that this is a case where the story is much more important than the writing style? Nothing wrong with the style, but it wasn't particularly quirky or memorable or "Rivka."

Yes, I do agree. The writing is perfectly serviceable, but I've always felt that there was something a little bit flat about this story, and you've put your finger on the reason why.

It seems that I'm a writing style snob. There have been a couple of book club selections that I haven't been able to get through because I found the writing too clunky.
All the letters I can write: Mulder with Scullywendelah1 on May 4th, 2008 08:56 pm (UTC)
I would not describe the writing here as "flat." I would describe it as empty. And I think it is a deliberate choice, not a failing on the part of the writer. She is writing from the point of view of a woman who has had her identity stolen. She has been mind-wiped and had the bare minimum of false memories put in their place. She doesn't seem quite real. She isn't supposed to seem real; she is just a place-holder. She is what is left when you strip away everything that made Dana Scully a whole person, and give her a little boxes on the hillside life to live with a similarly hollowed-out version of Mulder. In the context of the story being told, this works for me.
Naraht: xf-Phoneemily_shore on May 4th, 2008 11:55 am (UTC)
To start with, I'll admit that I didn't get through this story the first time around (a long time ago now). It seemed like such a badfic premise to start off with: Mulder and Scully married, with amnesia. Of course, maybe that's part of the plan of the story? It lures you in with the fluffy opening and then, as dictatorcari says, hammers on your heart.

In a guilty-pleasure sort of way, I really enjoyed the shooting gallery scene. I'm a sucker for Scully with a gun, showing off her skills. The sex scene following is a bit lackluster, but then maybe RivkaT isn't used to writing romantic vanilla sex!

For me, the story really gets going a little bit halfway, when it starts to explore the issues of identity between Dana Parker and Dana Scully. It gets very philosophical very quickly, and suddenly I feel my interest piqued.

"When I remember, you know, Dana Parker will disappear."

"Are you afraid?"

"Of dying? That's what it is, right? But I'm not really alive, anyway. I'm like some supporting character in a movie--you know just enough about me, I know just enough about myself, for it to be sad when I die, but it's inevitable after all, and I help the heroes succeed and they stop a moment in the victory celebration to think about me and that's good enough for the kind of person I am, isn't it?"

He just stared at her.

"I know. Dana Scully doesn't talk like that. She only speaks in complete sentences and she's always right and she really has a family--"

She was crying. How odd. She hadn't meant to cry.


It's the gap between Mulder's memories and Scully's memories that makes for a lot of the drama here. He remembers her as someone else; he wants to treat her as someone she's not. It's a metaphor for many relationship problems, in a way.

And then we have the first echo of a problem even deeper than the initial one:

Mulder gave her another "Dana Scully wouldn't have done that" look. Fortunately, the wisecrack god hadn't deserted him, and he was able to match her coolness: "Ooo, Dana, ever thought of CIA instead of the Bureau? You're so ruthless. Maybe I should start calling you Nikita."

It's a fantastic moment when the first thing that Scully really remembers from her past life is Skinner. I could just see the scene in the diner, with Scully getting up from the booth to embrace him. It's a flash of joy in what is otherwise a fairly emotionally toneless story.

In my next comment, the dramatic conclusion...
All the letters I can write: stilltheonewendelah1 on May 4th, 2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
I am at work, on my lunch hour, so this is just a brief response. Still, I just have to say this: someone has apparently changed the rules as to what constitutes "vanilla sex." Ahem. It did not include a tenured professor having sex with his wife in a library cubicle back in the day. Too bad.
Technophobecounterphobe on May 6th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC)
Vanilla with sprinkles.
All the letters I can write: David and Gillian in bedwendelah1 on May 6th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
With chocolate sauce, too?
Nisrin: xf: scullynisrin on May 7th, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)
This reminded me of dashakay's "Blinded By White Light". They both use the quote: "What are we but the sum of our memories?". But in BBWT, their memories bring them closer together, and here, returning to themselves drives them apart. It's an interesting difference of interpretation.
Narahtemily_shore on May 7th, 2008 10:04 am (UTC)
We're discussing "Blinded By White Light" next, I think, so it'll be fun to do a more detailed comparison. :)
Mem: XF - bw hugmemento1 on May 7th, 2008 03:11 am (UTC)
I fear I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I'm just not a fan of fics that end badly. Even worse, start out happy and just get progressively darker. I need a denouement! Relief of tension! Not an end at the height of tension, though I understand how hard that drives the point home.

You guys pretty much said it...it wasn't bad writing, but empty. And while I agree that empty matches the theme of the story...I don't like being empty. ;)

It is a chilling theme. I'm just not in the mood for chilling insights right now (or, possibly, ever. I know, head in the sand).
Narahtemily_shore on May 7th, 2008 10:03 am (UTC)
Fair enough. I hope we have some happier fics lined up. If not, do you want to recommend one?
Mem: XF  - bw Muldermemento1 on May 14th, 2008 10:57 pm (UTC)
I've been contemplating this, trying to think of a feel-good fic that actually has some substance worth talking about. I keep coming back to one I read a while ago that stuck with me - Bridge by Maria Nicole. Case-file, post-
Field Trip
. I adored it.
All the letters I can writewendelah1 on May 14th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC)
I am very fond of "Bridge" myself. Can you add it to the recommendations post, so that we don't forget about it?
Caridictatorcari on May 9th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I agree with this. I read fic because it makes me happy, and it gives me all the things I wanted from the show but wasn't allowed to see. So when I get lured into a cheery-seeming story, then get left high and dry...well, I'm not a fan.
Mem: XF - fangirlmemento1 on May 14th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm not the only one! :D I certainly love the wish-fulfillment and escapism aspects of fic. I'm much the same with movies - I don't like a dark ending. Luckily, there's plenty of quality fic for all types out there. That's what I love about this fandom.
Caridictatorcari on May 14th, 2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
...oh my god, that is the best. icon. ever. Haha. Can I steal it? I'll credit the artist! :)
Mem: XF - fangirlmemento1 on May 15th, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
*LOL* Certainly. It's by the fabulous krisnreine, and it really is the best icon ever ;)
ciel42ciel42 on May 10th, 2008 04:38 am (UTC)
For some reason, I found that fic a little flat. I didn't really care about the characters or what was happening to them. I stopped reading after a bit, and only went back to it because I was wondering what had made you rec it, aside from the fact that Rivkat is a wonderful author.
All the letters I can write: scullygreenwendelah1 on May 13th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
Who would you be if you weren't who you were? Part One
This is clearly one of those stories that elicits very different emotional responses from different readers. I still have a vivid memory of what it felt like to read Fugue for the very first time. Unlike many of the readers here, I felt drawn into this story right away.

She slid down his lean swimmer's body, enjoying the smoothness of his muscles and the slight fuzz of hair in the center of his body, until her mouth found its target. She gave him her undivided attention, and was rewarded in a minute with a gasp as he came fully awake.

Whoa. Fellatio. And on the very first page, yet. I read a few more pages, got a little more confused. Who are these people anyway? This is RivkaT, this is about Mulder and Scully, isn't it? A good question, as it turned out. Many readers here have commented about the style, complaining in some cases, that it was too flat. Not stylish enough. I think that this was a deliberate artistic choice. The story is told entirely from Dana Parker's point of view. She has been mind-wiped and has had very few memories put in their place.

As she dressed for work, letting Bill continue to doze, she reflected on life, the universe, and everything.

Dana had never been one to dwell on the past, even when she had more ties to it.

She believed that only the present and the future really mattered; what was done was done. She didn't visit her parents' graves, because it wouldn't do them any good.


This doesn't sound much like the real Dana Scully, who still had a mother, brothers, a childhood and memories of the experiences that shaped the young woman she would become. Then we get to the real kicker in this little parody version of Scully.

Besides, except for meeting Bill, there was nothing of any note in her past. Ouch. What about medical school, her residency, the deaths of her parents?

These thoughts are clearly part of her programming. They are one-dimensional, conventional and utterly unconvincing. What we are seeing here is The Barbie Doll version of Scully. Like any real Barbie Doll, she has a Ken Doll to play with, one that is fully functional. Mulder, too, has been stripped of his memories, and more importantly, of his demons. It is interesting to see that without the memories that keep him tethered to his quest for the truth, Mulder is a pretty regular guy, who loves his wife, goes to work and enjoys some increasingly kinky sex, as the story moves on. Not that I am complaining.

She was beginning to think that something in the Michigan weather made her husband insatiable. He acted as if he hadn't had sex on a regular basis for years... Ahem.

Quite early in the story, hints of the very real differences in their emotional needs begin to surface.

"I liked the trip. I liked driving for hours--concentrating without really thinking. It was relaxing, but I was also looking forward to arriving. I felt that we could start over,meet new people. I thought...I felt a little lonely, because I didn't know anyone but you, and that had been true for so long...I thought we could reach out and change that."

"Funny," he said, too lightly. "I thought I could be happy forever as long as I had you all to myself. That's what I loved about driving with you."


These differences were not programmed in by their captors, they are part of the real personalities of Mulder and Scully. Much of the tension in the story comes from these differences, and how this affects their relationship, as the characters begin to recover their real memories.

As soon as her identity starts to shift, Dana Parker begins to question if the feelings she has for the man she had thought was her husband Bill were real. Mulder insists that they are, that the body remembers what the mind can not. Here is where a true memory from their past comes to the surface:

He spun her around again and placed her hands under his own shirt,on his chest. His lips brushed the top of her head. "Do you remember this?" His voice was shaking.

Her voice was torn from her with a passion she'd never felt during the past five months. "Yes," she nearly sobbed, and fell onto him, seeking his warmth, his matching desire for her, his soul.


To be continued...

Edited at 2008-05-13 05:41 am (UTC)
All the letters I can write: scullygreenwendelah1 on May 13th, 2008 05:34 am (UTC)
Who would you be if you weren't who you were? Part Two
As the story continues, Bill Parker regains his memory, and becomes Fox Mulder: obsessed with his past, dazzling in his brilliance and utterly self-absorbed. Dana Parker aka Dana Scully never does. She only regains her memories of the last four years, the time after she met Fox Mulder, the time after she became Mrs Spooky.

"Just fighting with Missy, not growing up with her. Just Bill Jr. yelling at me for getting cancer. Just Ahab disappointed in me. Just...enough to be a little more real than Dana Parker, but not much."

She is back in the basement, but this time it's for good. There is no way out, into another division; there is no escape to Salt Lake City. She isn't even sure she remembers enough of her medical training to retain her license. Mulder is back to offering her wisecracks and "pity friendship." With her cancer gone, and his demons back in full force, there is nothing to keep him from leaving her behind, both physically and emotionally.

That was how she felt: disconnected. Set adrift, unmoored, cast away on an unfamiliar, unloving sea. What are we, she wondered, but the sum of our memories, each one linking us like a thread to the overall fabric of what we are? Our pasts keep us within the boundaries of who we are, constraining yet also enabling us to find ourselves. Because if any choice is as good as the next, then none of them are any good at all.

Just when the reader is convinced it couldn't get any worse for Scully, well, it does. Much, much worse.

She was breathing his breath now. It smelled bitter and dark, chocolate with a hint of ash.

"Do you remember this?"

He kissed her with utter familiarity, his hand snaking out to capture the back of her neck to hold her at just the right angle--not an easy thing, with their height differential. She stood still when she should have pulled away screaming. Such a distinctive taste...


The unexpected appearance (reappearance?) of The Smoking Man in Scully's apartment shatters her already fragile sense of self. His insinuation that he was her lover and a minion of the Consortium, and that she was not who she thought she was to Mulder, is her final undoing. The end of the story leaves her lying prone on the hard, cold floor, waiting, passive and hopeless, for whatever happens next.

I found this story to be emotionally very engaging. I even found myself creating a back-story to RivkaT's fictional world. How did Scully come to work for the Smoking Man? Was any of his story true? I find myself returning to this world again and again, without ever being certain I have found all of its secrets.

What if...what if you forgot who you were, completely. What if you woke up and thought that you were someone else. Would your soul still be the same, if everything else were different?"

Edited at 2008-05-13 05:46 am (UTC)
Mem: XF -  Gillian sunshinememento1 on May 14th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Who would you be if you weren't who you were? Part Two
Since I feel I have to at least give a nod to the deeper point this fic made, I loved how this hit to the heart of the nature-versus-nurture debate. How much of our personality and our reactions is in-born? How much has been learned? Do we really DECIDE to do anything or are we just a bunch of instilled reactions, responding to the stimuli presented to us? What would we become if we didn't have those tethers anymore?

They're interesting questions.
Naraht: xf-Cheersemily_shore on May 15th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Who would you be if you weren't who you were? Part Two
How did Scully come to work for the Smoking Man? Was any of his story true?

The CSM stuff is just the last straw for her, isn't it? Personally I have very complex reactions to CSM/Scully material--I'm repelled and fascinated at the same time. I kind of want to re-read it now, even as I was averting my gaze the first time through. I'd be fascinated to read something that dealt with the backstory, even though it would ruin the necessary mystery of this fic.
All the letters I can write: boundaries of painwendelah1 on May 15th, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Who would you be if you weren't who you were? Part Two
I have this theory that this story was written as a response to the complaint that the show is a deeply sexist text, with Mulder being the one who drives the plot, and Scully as his sidekick. I can picture RivkaT thinking to herself, well, now, they think Scully is not an independent, interesting enough character, so let's see what she really looks like without Mulder, and the FBI, and her family, and her memories, her education and her past, and oh yes, let's destroy her self-esteem and her belief in herself. The fans think the show is treating her badly. I'll show them how to treat a character badly. Well, it is just a theory. But there does seem to be a subtext to this fable, that hinges on female identity, and how easily women still can submerge themselves in deference to their mates' ambition and passions. The Barbie Doll Dana Parker is creepy and sad, but the Scully 2.0 is almost as sad. And thinking about Scully and CSM just blows my mind.

"Don't worry, Dana. I understand...the change in circumstances has
been difficult. If you want to remember the last five years the way we gave them to you, we won't be offended. We have other ways of regulating Agent Mulder now."


What other ways of regulating Mulder? WTF! The way they gave the memories to her which time? This last time? What about the memories from her first abduction? What happened when she took out the implant the first time? Was she out of their control then? Is that why they took her again? The questions this last section raises are endlessly facinating to me. I don't mind the sock-it-to-me ending bacause it makes me think hard about the characters, and that is a good thing for me as a writer.

The other really fascinating thing about this story is how the relationship between Mulder and Scully changes, from a conventional one between a husband and wife, back to that of FBI partners. Scully is pretty unhappy about this turn of events, I think. Whether she really did love Mulder and secretly welcomed the opportunity to make a fresh start and a new life with him, or if she just wanted to get away from the Smoking Man's grip on her life, is never made clear. Upon their return back to Washington, Mulder just plunges back into his old life, almost as though nothing had happened. Except that now, he doesn't fully trust her, which changes everything.
addisonzella on October 5th, 2015 04:54 am (UTC)
Devastatingly clever
Fugues (and the variation) was devastating! But I'm a shipper 'til the end. The plot was clever, and clearly RivkaT has a great imagination. I'm amazed over and over by this fandom--that writers are able to take CC's characters and create completely different entities. I'm impressed at so many of these fan fics because I had never considered that fan fiction could be a source of "literature," but this reading group has completely changed my view on that!

This story take an innovative approach to the nature vs. nurture debate. I wasn't able to articulate this until @memento1 pointed it out.

Lots to ponder...
bmerb on September 4th, 2016 05:21 pm (UTC)
Ok on I give in. I'll give it a reread some 17 years after my first read of it. Yikes, a bit frightened to start... I remember being so traumatized by Fugue back in the day. Hand holding, anyone?
All the letters I can write: forensic pathologistswendelah1 on September 4th, 2016 05:48 pm (UTC)
I'm done with BB&B now so I've got a little more time. I'll reread it with you. Should I post it as a rerun? You already know how traumatizing it was to me.
bmerb on September 5th, 2016 12:49 pm (UTC)
No need to repost it as a rerun unless you want to, I reread it yesterday. So glad I did, I'm not the same person I was 17 years ago (of course) and knowing basically what was coming helped reduce the trauma effect.

And still, wow. Could definitely use someone to turn it over with. Whew. Such a painful ride! Would people read it if it was reposted? Seems like most folks just want the ship these days...
All the letters I can writewendelah1 on September 5th, 2016 06:30 pm (UTC)
I don't know if people would read it or not. In truth, I never know what people will read here.

Yeah, MSR is certainly the flavor of the day, judging by what's popular at Tumblr and Haven. It's hard to believe that back in 2007, when the fandom was arguably much smaller, there were people who read other genres.

I'll post it and see what happens. You can comment and I can comment. I can post the two other stories she wrote for its universe, too, which some people may not have read.
bmerb on September 5th, 2016 12:50 pm (UTC)
Also curious what BB&B is!
All the letters I can write: Agent Gillian Andersonwendelah1 on September 5th, 2016 06:24 pm (UTC)
Oh. BB&B is here. It's AU RPF. When I began it back in 2013, no one had ever written an AU for TXF:RPF, though they're commonplace in other RPF fandoms. A couple of people have written AUs since then, though they're not...my sort of thing.