Ghosts (X-Files novel)

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Title: Ghosts
Author(s): torch
Date(s): 1997
Length: 96,536 words, 9:34:17 hours
Genre: slash fanfiction
Fandom: The X-Files
External Links: Ghosts (The Flambeau Factory)

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Ghosts is a Mulder/Krycek X-Files novel by torch, written in 1997. It has elements of classic h/c and angst, and entwines a paranormal mystery/casefile story with a slow-burn build of attraction between the extremely reluctant Fox Mulder and the extremely un-reluctant Alex Krycek. It is followed by the much longer Lovers, as well as a couple of very short pieces. The entire series is known collectively as North-West Passage.

podbook cover by podcath

Ghosts won the 1997 Whammy for Best Angst Fic, Best Long Fanfic, Best Mulder/Krycek Fanfic and torch won for Best Author.[1] The fan reaction was so strong that it led to a "Top Secret" project for fans to show their appreciation to torch for writing Ghosts, some of which has been saved as the Ghosts Zine Project.

The story was ubiquitously recced among Mulder/Krycek fans for years, and was recced on crack_van less than two months after the comm started up. [2]

For the 2010 podbang it was podficced by podcath for darkemeralds.[3] The podfic is 9:34:17 hours long and available at the Audiofic Archive.[4]

Reader Response

Ceciliaregent remembers:

In 1997, I was a senior in high school, and the internet was almost brand-new. The previous year, I'd gone to Yahoo! to see what pages there were for the X-Files, and the Mulder/Krycek Romantics Association had a page up. If I recall correctly, it had blinking red hearts--could I possibly recall this correctly? It was the first time I'd heard of slash (though I did know about fanfic before) and I was immediately, instantly, absolutely hooked. (I was right on time, too, since I think that M/K was one of the first big internet pairings--if it'd only been K/S I don't think I ever would have gotten interested.) I read everything I could get my hands on, including all the really terrible stuff. I joined the mailing list. Then "Ghosts" came down the line. It came out in four parts[5], and I can still remember how incredibly exciting it was to get a new part. I loved the intensely sympathetic take on Krycek: the story was funny, sexy, painful in a very subdued, real way, and incredibly intimate. Torch often takes her main characters out of their home environments, a subtle way of drawing them into close intimacy with each other. Here, Mulder, Krycek, and Scully almost immediately leave DC and head for the middle of nowhere; we get well-drawn cameos from minor OCs (another frequent feature of torch's writing) but basically, they're on their own. This story raised the bar for slash fiction writing, as far as I was concerned (and I think this was true for others.) It's definitely been surpassed--when I look at it now it seems like a beginner's effort compared to her later work. (Personally, I'd name 'China' and the Here is Greenwood fic 'The Best Policy' as torch's best work, and the 'Ghosts' sequel 'Lovers,' while still relatively early work for her, is also significantly more accomplished.) But at the time, I thought I'd never read a piece of fanfic that used language so well. I adored it, and for the sake of my high-school self, I still do.

Recs and Reviews

"I'm not sure this story even needs an explanation, or a rec, for that matter. It took fandom (not just XF fandom) by storm when it was written, and I can't believe there's anyone who hasn't read it. But just in case -- go read this. It's a case story that throws Krycek in with Mulder and Scully, trying to deal with his past as he and Mulder deal with their present. The characterizations are spot-on, and the pacing is absolutely perfect. Really. Go read it. You won't regret it."[6]
"Ghosts and it's sequel Lovers are like the proverbial X-files M/K fanfic. If you haven't read it, then you are seriously missing something. It is obligatory to rec this story just in case some newbies have yet to discover it. It is one not to be missed. It is angsty, sexy, and defines everything that is the M/K fandom. I'm done singing it's praises for the moment. You may have noticed that many of the stories I rec I have a hard time just summarizing what they are about. I usually describe how they make me feel or the essence of what I got they were trying to say. This is another one of those difficult to summarize stories. Just saying it is about this or that would be too simple. It is complex and rich in that way that just draws you in. Torch is a wonderful writer who weaves a fabulous tale centered around the boys. Whether new to the fandom or maybe you just haven't gotten around to reading this yet it is a must read. A fabulous story with an intriguing plot and definitely plenty of love, longing, and angst to satisfy any M/K fan. Go on now, shoo read torch's fics. I insist."[7]
"Absolutely loved the story, brilliant plot, however the romance was extremely sappy and the switch between 1st person present and 3rd person past serves no purpose (and the first person Krycek POV is just bad). Still highly recced."[8]
X-Files fanfic author Dasha K in an interview at Working Stiffs about the plausibility of M/K:
Does it break from the show's characterizations? Before last season, a lot of slash writers were able to say, with some pretty good justification, that there was just as much UST between Mulder and Krycek as there was between Mulder and Scully. Granted, it was hard to see Mulder being with a guy who'd killed his father and assisted in Scully's abduction (the main reason why I have issues with the M/K coupling) but you also couldn't deny the raw, simmering sex appeal that was generated between the two men. Also, I don't think it's too hard to see Mulder as bisexual. I can see him being experimental at Oxford or having the occasional relationship with a man.
I haven't read tons and tons of slash, but I've read some stories that seem incredibly plausible. In torch's "Ghosts," the relationship that springs up between Mulder and Krycek happens with a very natural and real touch.[9]
"I am not saying that Krycek is doing penance by being with Mulder, I think it would be more accurate to say that Mulder is the person that Krycek would be involved with if he(Krycek) lived a more sane life, except that Mulder is more damaged than the person he would want to be involved with. If Mulder is the moral force, than his beating up Krycek is a way for Krycek to do penance for his wrongs. So, in that sense, it's penance. Being with Mulder in and of itself is not penance."[10]


  1. 1997 Whammy Winners, accessed August 24, 2010.
  2. rec on crack_van dated November 20, 2003, accessed August 24, 2010.
  3. podcath. for darkemeralds! from podcath! Ghosts by torch, 20 December 2010. (Accessed 21 December 2010)
  4. For a download link see announcement post for now.
  5. Ghosts 1: I know where I'm going, Ghosts 2: And I know who's going with me, Ghosts 3: I know my dear love, Ghosts 4: But I don't know who I'll marry.
  6. Arduinna. Arduinna's Fic Recs: fandoms U - Z, 15 June 2005. (Accessed 21 December 2010)
  7. The Slash Slut's Recs, via Wayback, June 2001. (Accessed 21 December 2010)
  8. kanata. New recs, 23 April 2006. (Accessed 21 December 2010)
  9. Interview with Dasha K. (Part Two), 2001, archived at Working Stiffs. (Accessed 27 July 2011)
  10. Analysis of torch's Ghosts and Lovers by Allie.; reference link.
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