Blood Oranges

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Title: Blood Oranges
Author(s): syntax6
Date(s): April 1, 2000
Length: 291K
Genre: MSR, NC-17
Fandom: The X-Files
External Links:
here, here, and here

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Blood Oranges is an X-Files story by syntax6.

It was the winner of three 2000 Spooky Awards.

book cover, artist is Galia

Author's summary: "The latest victim in a series of brutal murders has a surprising connection to Mulder, but it's Scully who has the connection to the killer. Their relationship might not survive either one."

Reactions and Reviews


One of the best fanfic novels to show up in a long time. A full blown serial killer case with Profiling!Mulder, Forensic!Scully, a victim known to one of them and a surprise ending. This was fabulous! [1]
This one takes place shortly after Tithonus. Mulder and Scully are lovers but the focus is a serial murder case that affects Scully profoundly and does the best job of describing why we've never heard about that cursed Travelers wedding ring that I've read. A compelling, Scullycentric case file. [2]


This was the first story of Syntax6's that actually got me to be an avid follower of her fic, so it always has a special place in my heart. I think later stories definitely become more sophisticated in terms of emotional territory, not that this isn't wonderfully complex, but I think later stories such as the Carl Quentin ones definitely showed Syntax at her finest. Either way, I really like the Mulder/Scully relationship here. Syntax always manages to find the right balance of love and angst between the two, so you never feel like you're reading something unrealistic, or reading something that puts them through pain for the sake of it. [3]
This was the story that made me a Syntax fangirl, too. I prefer the casefile part of the story to the romance but the amazing thing about Syn is how successfully she manages to juggle both aspects of the story. [4]
I don't have much to say on the story itself as I don't remember it that well and I'm really not in the mood for a re-read, but I felt it ought to be noted that, in my opinion at least, the portrayal of self-harm in this story is inaccurate to the point of offensiveness. Stereotypes and assumptions about this issue can be extremely damaging and even dangerous. [5]
Agreed. I found myself wondering if the author ever thought to consult self-injurers before writing about them. [6]
I think that would be a good question to ask Syntax6. In my experience, she is a conscientious researcher; for example, as a rape survivor, I thought her story about that issue was meticulously researched as well as sensitively written. She is also very responsive to feedback.[7]
[syntax6, the author]: Hi, everyone. Wendy alerted me that you all were discussing my story; thanks for the honor. :-)

I am certainly sorry to have offended anyone with the content. That was never my intention. To answer your question, yes, I spoke with some self-injurers as part of my research and I read several books as well. The character in the book is definitely not supposed to represent self-injurers as a whole; clearly, there is no established connection between self-injury and serial murder. [Though some serial killers have said they've engaged in self-injury, the motives seem to be quite different. The serial killers seem most interested in testing their pain tolerance and watching the blood flow.]

I suspect understanding of self-injury has increased quite a bit since I wrote this story 10 years ago. Back then, many psychiatrists refused to treat it and wrote the patients off as hopeless. One book I found in the store had clearly been read at least once on the premises and then reshelved backwards with the spine facing in. It made me sad to think that self-injury was considered so shameful that people couldn't bring themselves to buy the book. I don't think anyone at the time -- especially me -- appreciated how common it is and the broad range of people who engage in self-injury.

I got an inkling, however, when I received the feedback on Blood Oranges. I would say I received about 600 letters, and probably close to half of them were from people who self-injure or had in the past. FWIW, the letters were all positive, and essentially everyone assumed I was writing from personal experience (which I was not). I was unprepared for the response and I admit I found many of the letters unnerving -- the folks who wanted to swap tips on the best places to cut, for example. I just didn't know how to answer those. I know I did answer, but I can't remember what I said in return. Hopefully nothing too offensive!

In any case, as Wendy said, I welcome all types of feedback, so please do not hesitate to share any specific criticisms you have. I did very much do my homework for this story, but it always helps to have more points of view represented.

Cheers, syn [8]
First off, thank you for addressing my question/concern. :)

Because the fandom is older than common knowledge of SI is, I figured there was a good chance fault lied with the best information available at the time—rife with fallacies, but hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Reading "Blood Oranges" for the first time in 2009, it's a different atmosphere. The timing is coincidental, as well: I just happened to be discussing SI in depth right before this entry was posted, and I had some stirred-up feelings...

Again, thank you, and as long as you're here, I'd like to add that I'm working my way through your stories, and I'm hooked. [9]
Though a long-time admirer of Syntax6's work, I'd never read Blood Oranges before. A serial-killer casefile with Mulder and Scully in "an established relationship"? Nope, not for me.

Syntax approaches her story powerfully though, with a nontentative sex scene followed closely by a major romantic falling-out. She got my attention. And the ensuing case is a fairly exciting one with genuine suspense (how often do we actually care whodunit?). Though the relationship talk drags us down toward the Bog of Angst, the sex is handled, I think, unusually well.

As for the guilty parties: I too find it hard to credit a self-mutilator as a torturer/killer, not matter how we spin the psychology. Call it an imaginative risk that doesn't *quite* come off, though it registers as a surprise. (And really, could one ask for a gentler, more empathetic murderer? Wonder what Judge Sotomayor would make of her.)

More problematic is the notion of Joe King as a red-herring killer. He's mean and misogynistic, okay, but consider that this manager of his own business premeditatedly lures an undercover agent home and then viciously attacks her *purely because she irritates him*. Guys like that prey on the helpless. FBI agents with backup are not. It doesn't compute.

Syn has always been a responsible and graceful writer; she's gotten better after years of practice, but this early work is still good. A matter of taste, of course, but my favorites remain Universal Invariants and Laws of Motion.

And, on account of my frivolous streak, the exquisite Mistletoe Madness. [10]
This was the first of Syn's stories that I read, which means I mainlined it back in late 2005, early 2006, as I was making my way through sites like the 2000 Spooky Awards. As an aside, look at who and what won that year. Is is any wonder I got hooked into this fandom?

I agree, Syntax6's opening scenes are very strong and serve to hook the reader in. Plunging ahead with the graphic sex scene accomplished a couple of things: it established without a doubt that this is not a first time fic, and it contrasted the killer's sick fascination with cutting up frightened young women alive with our heroes healthy expression of adult sexuality.

The small knife hurts me only for a minute as I cut my own stomach, and I can barely hold back a moan of ecstasy. When the dark, red drops slide warmly over my skin, I climb on top of the girl, my body flat against hers. Our blood merges in a wet smear. My eyes close.

I breathe in deeply, and the screaming fades away.

Paradoxically, I think that prefacing the sex scene with that graphic passage made me pull back from it, in a way that made the scene following it, which revealed that Mulder was married to the latest victim of a gruesome murderer, even more effective and horrifying. From death to life back to death, the story just seemed to--flow.

And the ensuing case is a fairly exciting one with genuine suspense (how often do we actually care whodunit?).

In fact, I was scared shitless by the end of this; moreover, I did not see the ending with Mulder coming at all. I knew Psychic!Scully was likely to be targeted because that's what happens to people who start channeling the killer's thoughts in whodunnits. I was briefly convinced Syntax might kill Mulder off, and have Scully discover his body, just as Mulder discovered his wife's. What can I say, the writers in the fandom I migrated from killed off one or more of the main characters pretty regularly, so character death wasn't as big a taboo as it seems to be in XF.

Though the relationship talk drags us down toward the Bog of Angst, the sex is handled, I think, unusually well.

The Bog didn't bother me but I could have lived without the final sex scene; in fact, I could have lived without the whole kiss and make up part of the fic. I would have felt fine to leave Scully pissed off at him and that part unresolved. For the record, I felt the same way about the ending sex scene in Split the Lark. My noromo tendencies surfacing again. Sorry. [11]
You've reminded me of something I meant to mention, Syn's use of Scully's "sight," a canon element that was made little of either in canon or, so far as I know, in fanfic. (Though it might have been a factor in Arizona Highways; would have to reread. Should anyhow.) It always struck me as poignant and a little amusing that Mulder had such a yearning to "believe" and Scully was stuck with weird intuitions that she didn't know what to do with. Another thing: I want to compliment the writer on her creation of proper names. Scofield, Callahan, Englehart, Bertelli, etc. As a whole, they have a knobby verisimilitude with a healthy helping of ethnic: in short, American. I know it sounds trivial, but I've noticed that writers who get the names right have a kind of verbal tact, and the rest of their prose is sensible and alert. [12]
Long story short: I loved this fic a lot, and while it isn't perfect, it's head and shoulders above most fanfic and plenty of published stories as well.

Nobody's going to be completely comfortable sharing traits with a fictional serial killer, especially if the trait is widely misunderstood. In particular people will be sensitive when the trait is depicted as having a logical consistency with being homicidal.

I think it's valid to criticize the story for what it says or implies about people who cut themselves, but the fact is the story stands up well as a story. Serial killers are rare and crazy. Haley Atkins doesn't represent people who hurt themselves any more than Jeffrey Dahmer represents homosexuals.

I think Estella C. had logic on her side when she objected to the bartender's attack on Scully, but it really didn't mar the story for me. He "snapped." I wouldn't buy it in real life, but it works for me in story-land.

I loved how Syntax sketched out Mulder's marriage. I understand how he would have run from it and suppressed it, without being a bastard. I liked how she gave me everything I needed to know about Mulder and Scully's relationship. I could have done without the final sex scene, but I think I'm atypical in my boredom with explicit sex.

I loved Blood Oranges when I read it years ago, and I loved it this time too, even though I knew who done it. [13]


We absolutely love a good casefile, one that we can really sink our teeth into, and we can always guarantee that when it’s written by Syntax6 that it’s going to be freaking stellar.

She has such a way with writing MSR, entwining it with whatever crazy casefile she has thrust our dynamic duo into, creating the perfect amount of tension and release. Bonus point: her smut is always impeccable. Today’s rec is @piecesofscully ‘s absolute favorite fic that Syntax6 has written, and definitely considers it a Must Read. We are positive you’ll add it to your Must Read list as well. [14]


  1. ^ Fics of the Week: January - June 2000, Archived version
  2. ^ "News for the OBSSEed". 
  3. ^ sangria_lila at XF Book Club, July 2005
  4. ^ wendelah1 at XF Book Club, July 2005
  5. ^ sixpences at XF Book Club, July 2005
  6. ^ notacrnflkgirl at XF Book Club, July 2005
  7. ^ wendelah1 at XF Book Club, July 2005
  8. ^ at XF Book Club, July 2005
  9. ^ notacrnflkgirl at XF Book Club, July 2005
  10. ^ estella c at XF Book Club, July 2005
  11. ^ wendelah1 at XF Book Club, July 2005
  12. ^ estella c at XF Book Club, July 2005
  13. ^ counterphobe at XF Book Club, July 2005
  14. ^ X-Files FanFiction Sommeliers, Archived version