No Greater Love (X-Files story)

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Fanfiction
Title: No Greater Love
Author(s): Karen Rasch
Date(s): 1996 (posted to alt.tv.x-files.creative on June 3, 1996)
Length: 340K
Genre: het, UST, MSR, X-File
Fandom: The X-Files
External Links: online here

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No Greater Love is an X-Files story by Karen Rasch.

It was the winner of eight Spooky Awards.

The author rated it PG when it was first posted, but changed the rating to R when it was posted to Gossamer.

Author's Summary

Mulder/Scully romance. Mulder and Scully travel to a small town in Missouri to investigate a series of deaths involving a faith healer. Along the way, questions are raised concerning their relationship and their feelings towards matter of the spirit.

From the Story's Introduction

This is something a little different from me. It's not the usual romance/erotica thing you're used to seeing me post. It's a case file. Now, this isn't to say that I refrained from inserting healthy doses of UST into the mix. I didn't. Sorry to the anti-relationshippers in the crowd. I writes 'em as I sees 'em. And I can't look at Mulder and Scully without believing them to have for each other feelings that extend beyond simple friendship. Okay, Warning One out of the way. (phew!)

Warning Two: this story centers around a kind of religious theme. I did this because it worked for the tale and also because I believe there is a lot more to be investigated about our heroes' spiritual lives. But, religion is a tricky subject. As a rule, it provokes strong emotions. If you're easily offended in this regard, I suggest you skip this story. Why put yourself through the discomfort? If you decide to take a chance on it after reading this disclaimer, no fair flaming!  :) Warning Three: This story was started in the midst of the Rift (remember, waaaaay back then, before "Pusher" <bg>). Elements of that infamous time have found their way into the story. Bear with me though, I promise M & S don't spend the entire tale fighting.

As far as rating this one goes--I don't know, PG? There's basically not much here to shock. Certainly nothing you wouldn't see on the show. The language may be a bit saltier. But, that's it. [1]

Author Comments

[Dealing with writers' block]: Walk away. I usually let it be and do something else. You can't force it. All you can do is live with it. I had to set "No Greater Love" to the side for two months, even though I knew exactly what was coming next plot-wise. I was just tired of the project. When I came back to it, refreshed, things flowed much more smoothly. [2]
I tend to start with a single idea or scene and then go from there. With "No Greater Love", I knew I wanted Mulder to have to watch as Scully died in his arms. Then I had to figure out how to get them to that point. The trick is to be able to wrap a story around something so small. [3]

Reactions and Reviews

Unknown Date

This IS a conversation... somewhat of a stream of consciousness one, so to help you keep track of who's speaking when, Kristina is in blue, and I, Shari, am in purple. [see original page for the colors, which are denoted by initials here on Fanlore]

[S]: Early on in my fanfic reading career (if only!) I stumbled upon the XFRA's Top 20 Romantic Stories list and started working my way through the list, reading those fanfics that were new to me. One of them was the long story Kris and I are discussing now, "No Greater Love." I think it's an indication that MSR-minded readers can spot those MSRish qualities just about anywhere that NGL is on a Romantic stories list because in truth, it's not an MSR. Well, not on the surface anyway. <g>

[S]: There's no kissing, save those two friends might exchange. No declarations of love. Not even any definite introspective realizations that either is in love with the other. So, to classify it as an MSR is probably technically erroneous. Heck, even Karen says it's not one! But like I told her... yes, it is. ;)

[K]: Indeed. I'm a much tougher judge than Shari when it comes to classifying something as an MSR, and even if this doesn't include any physical proof or a "romance", it is one in every other sense of the word. The feelings are there, so bright and so pure, that one can't help but surrender to them. <g>

[S]: It is in the sense that "Redux II" is. That "The Red and the Black" is. It's a moving case file that leads to honest, but not always pleasant, talk between Mulder and Scully, who are both struggling with their individual stands on personal faith and beliefs. And despite what isn't said or done, one of the final scenes of the story has to be one of the most beautiful pictures of love in all of fanfic.

[K]: Shari and I have recently talked a little bit about love, verbalization, physicality and whatnot, and I came to the conclusion that I am just as satisfied by the subtle hints and the actions that clad the love between them. Sure, I wuv my smut, but I find scenes like chapter 12 of "No Greater Love" to be as much, if not more, fulfilling when I consider their relationship.

[S]: There are so many things I love about this novel. The first... the characteristic in all of Karen's fanfic that I come back to again and again, is the quality of the dialogue between Mulder and Scully. Karen is the Queen of Mulder and Scully dialogue. She could make a conversation between them about the phone book funny and sweet. In NGL, she captured perfectly the manner and tone of their dialogue during season three. Which is when this was written and takes place, BTW. So read it with those characters in mind... not season six Mulder and Scully.

[K]: When I went back to reread the story for this section, I was definitely in a season 6 mindset. But as I became ensconsed in the storyline once more, I was transported back to the days and the spirit in which this story was written. The unsureness between them, the many things they were coming to grips with as partners...all that may seem a bit awkward after all that has happened since the 5th season and the movie. But in the time that it was written, it was perfection and continues to be something I take great comfort in, to help bridge some of what was going on during that 3rd season.

[S]: Because it's set in season three, we get a healthy dose of rifty Mulder and Scully. There was a painful period right in the middle of the season, especially along the time of "Revelations". Karen deftly continued this on again, off again rift...

As close as they were, as greatly as they relied on each other, Scully and he had limits, boundaries neither would allow the other to cross. He had assumed that her reticence served as another of her Do Not Enter signs. To his regret, these had become more plentiful recently and had begun guarding territory far more vast than either of them had ever before realized existed.

[S]: ...exacerbated by the case in NGL which brought to the surface the difficulties Mulder had understanding Scully's seemingly easy trust in all things of God, and Scully's hurt that Mulder would be so intolerant of her beliefs.

[K]: That's something I truly admire Karen for. The few times the show has broached Scully's faith and conversely, Mulder's lackthereof, they've managed to portray him in a light that I find less than appealing; the hypocritical little weasel ("Open yourself up to extreme possibilities only when they're the truth.") that first shows up in "Beyond the Sea" rears his pointy little head and I feel the need to whack him down. But Karen managed to spin a tale in which Mulder was punkish, but in a way that was certainly palpable. I mean, he was *really* sorry for it! <g>

[K]: But in all seriousness, her version of how Mulder would react...how he was dealing with Scully's faith as well as his lack was much easier for me to take. And I thoroughly believe it's these kind of Mulder-interpretations by the gifted fanfiction authors that have infused what respect I do have for Mulder into me. [4]

1998

Call it synchronicity or call it strange , but quite a few Screamers have been on a re-read kick lately. You can't go wrong by deciding to revisit this gem of a story. Here's what we said about it in our Fanfic Primer: Faith is explored through a case file. Tons of angst, especially in the last scene between Mulder and Scully in the church. Heavily loaded with UST, it also addresses some of the fundamental differences between our heroes without putting them completely at odds with each other. An angsty climax that will stay with you long afterwards. [5]

2006

This a beautiful story. So few X-files fanfic deal with religion, even though it's a large part of Scully's life. This is a great look at both Scully and Mulder's character and beliefs, with an excellent plot. The romance is subtle and underlying, but it's more UST than anything else. Set during the early seasons. [6]
Investigation into some mysterious deaths surrounding a faith healer raise questions about Mulder and Scully's relationship and their respective spirituality. Now, I'll be honest--I'm a Christian, so I tend to be drawn to stories (original or fanfic) that ask the big questions. One of the things that keeps me coming back to this one long after I gave up my 'Shipper membership card is that it does so in a balanced, realistic way, never coming down too hard on either side of the spiritual fence and treating Christian, atheist, and unsure characters with equal respect. I chose it for this prompt not just because of the title but because ultimately it's about love--not just the love the author sees between the protagonists, but love of God, love of mankind, and most importantly, what does love motivate us to do for each other? Honestly, if the MSR had been treated this way on the show, I might still be a 'Shipper. *grin* [7]

2008

This "old skool" story... is a casefile set in third season in the middle of something called "the infamous rift"(?) You long-time fans are going to have to explain that one to me. I never noticed a rift between Mulder and Scully in season three. No more than usual, anyway. [8]
I had thought the infamous rift was in Season 4 starting with Never Again? It was gone by Redux, and resurrecting a bit for Emily/Christmas Carol... Am I broken? I don't remember one in season 3 and I own it... D: [9]
Maybe I am confused. Was Pusher in season 4? I thought it was season 3. Anyway You Are Not Broken. I had never before noticed the term "rift" in a fanfiction author note so I thought it was worth asking about. I am going to go check out when Pusher was aired. Is 1996 season four? Bad Mod! [10]
Pusher is season 3, Kitsunegari is season 5. The very END of Season 3 had a bit of a rift starting (Quagmire), but it was mostly season 4 for me that had them at odds until the CancerArc, or just not as lighthearted. Season 4 was a pretty heavy season, plot wise. [11]
I've seen references to the Season 3 'rift' on Haven, but frankly I never noticed anything myself, so my guess is that it's all in how you look at it (especially if you're looking from a super-shippy POV, where any little look, gesture or comment might indicated SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT in terms of the perceived MSR of that period.) Fwiw, I saw distance between Mulder and Scully in Season 5, following the closeness they'd achieved in the Redux arc (and which continued in Detour), but I don't see it as having had anything to do with the characters themselves (or as anything organic coming from the characters, I should say.) Rather, it seemed to me like the writers' attempt to distance the two after the point of closeness they'd come to the Reduxes, since the writers' position on the dynamic was that they didn't want it turning personal. [12]
I just re-read this a few weeks ago! It's a fandom classic, though looking back now I wonder why. It's good, but didn't blow me away, at least this reading. Very nice to have an interesting casefile to sink my teeth into, though. [13]
I hate to say it, but I was largely unimpressed with this one. It's not terrible, but there's nothing about it that really stands out to me. Some of the symbolism and sentence structures are a little unrefined, and the story doesn't really venture into unexplored territory. The casefile is interesting, but it's a lot like "Miracle Man," IMO.

I did like that the girl who reminds Weaver of Scully is named Kimberly, though...I wonder if it was a direct reference to Skinner's secretary Kimberly (who is also Scully's stunt double). If so, that's pretty clever. :)

But yeah, other than that...the apology on the swing and the moment where Scully lets her hair down are sweet, but they sort of ultimately lead nowhere. There's all this UST, and then...nothing. But I'm also a perv and require smut in all stories, so take that criticism with a grain of salt. [14]
I think if you were expecting smut, you were bound to be disappointed; in all fairness, the author did warn that this was not that sort of story. Since I knew the quotation from which the story takes its title, I got exactly what I expected: a story about sacrifice and the redemptive power of love. And a lot of dead bodies along the way.

I think your criticism that the casefile is not particularly original is a fair one. I do not think that is the writer's strength. Although I found it interesting enough to keep me reading, it is her portrayal of the relationship between Mulder and Scully that makes this story a memorable one.

I liked her twin themes of revenge and redemption. I thought the death scene in the church was Shakespearean, in length at the very least. I was genuinely moved by her description of Mulder's grief as he slowly realizes what is happening to Scully. I do not think it is a coincidence that the golden light that is falling on him as she succumbs in his arms is the same light that kept him from seeing the gun that was trained on him. If that is the symbolism that left you cold, I am left bewildered.

By the end, we have a miracle raising of the dead, with a corresponding sacrificial death, Mulder gets to realize how much Scully really means to him (again!), and Scully gets to die and see God (again!) And you say none of that UST lead anywhere? Pshaw!

I thought the body count by the end was pretty Shakespearean too. [15]
I can definitely see how it's very Shakespearean, but I'm just not a great lover of Shakespeare. I was a drama student in college, and I think I just got burnt out on him. Maybe I made that connection subconsciously and rejected the story for it...I don't know.

I want to clarify that Karen Rasch wrote my favorite fic EVER (the "Words" series), so I'm definitely a big believer in her talent. This one just doesn't float my boat. I may be projecting, but I feel like I can sense that she's slightly out of her element writing this type of story and struggling (in a few places) to make it work.

I wasn't expecting smut! Honest! And I'll happily read non-porn fanfic. But it's a habit I'm actively trying to break myself of (expecting all MSR stories to conclude with sex), and I guess I'm just not there yet. It's not Karen's fault, though, and I realize that.

Of course, now I can't find you any examples of the clunky symbolism...I just remember getting that impression when I read it.

It's not a bad story by any means. But I think I've been spoiled with all the really unique stories we've read lately (Mulder and Scully can read each other's minds! Mulder and Scully have post-col amnesia!), and a mediocre casefile just didn't draw me in the same way. I think if I gave it another shot, later down the road, I might feel differently about it. [16]
I do think in the context of when this was written, it was very unique, for their conversation about the religious conflicts, for one thing....

I love Shakespeare. My favorite dramatist, and not a bad poet either.(; I don't know if Karen was consciously using his plot devices but the themes seemed so familiar somehow that I just went with it...

So you weren't even a little moved by the death scene? I cry at the end of La Boheme every time I see it. Same thing with Romeo and Juliet. And "Divide and Conquer" which is a Stargate SG1 episode with a very Shakespearean ending. Et cetera. [17]
Oh, I was totally moved by the death scene. I have this weird kink where I love M&S to have to watch each other die. (I'm sick, I know.) In canon, it's usually when one of them is in peril that their true emotions come out, and what greater peril than death? I admit that that particular scene was lovely, and both Mulder and Scully were very in-character throughout. [18]

Awards and Nominations

  • 1996 Spooky Award
    • Most Carteresque Story: First Place
    • Best X-File-Style Story: First Place
    • Best Long Story First Place
    • Best Mulder Characterization: Second Place
    • Best Platonic Mulder/Scully Relationship: First Place
    • Best Scully Characterization: Second Place
    • Best Non NC-17 Mulder/Scully Relationship Story: Third Place
    • Best Drama: Third Place

References

  1. Author's Introduction
  2. Chronicle X Interview with Karen Rasch
  3. Chronicle X Interview with Karen Rasch
  4. excerpts from a much longer discussion at "Can We Talk" at Chronicle X: No Greater Love
  5. 1998 Fics of the Week, Archived version
  6. recced at Crack Van, February 2006
  7. from Rec50, 2006
  8. wendelah1: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  9. dorasolo: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  10. wendelah1: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  11. dorasolo: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  12. bardsmaid: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  13. memento1: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  14. dictatorcari: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  15. wendelah1: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  16. dictatorcari: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  17. wendelah1: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008
  18. dictatorcari: xf_book_club: The reading group for X-Files fanfiction - Story 36: "No Greater Love" by Karen Rasch, Archived version, June 2008