Sore Luck at the Luxor

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Title: Sore Luck at the Luxor
Author(s): RivkaT
Date(s): December 26, 1997
Length: 65K, 11842 words
Genre: MSR, NC-17
Fandom: The X-Files
External Links: here and here

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Sore Luck at the Luxor is a MSR X-Files story by RivkaT/Anubis.

Reactions and Reviews


This story has been around for quite some time, but is one of those entertaining fics that begs to be re-read. What could be better than a gleeful, adventuresome Mulder dragging Scully to a Las Vegas casino to help him with undercover surveillance? What effect could a few drinks and the element of risk have on judgment and long-suppressed desire? I found the inventive, clever, and even hilarious imagery one more reason to pick up these dice and roll... er, read. [1]


A wild ride! Sharp humor and hot smut in a Las Vegas pyramid - life is good. [2]


Cute. I love Vegas (along with themed hotel rooms and neon lights. Tacky is not really in my vocabulary) and liked the feel of the story.

rivkat always writes lines that have me trying to decide if I love them unreservedly or hate them. His mouth taking hers "like Sherman marching through Georgia", for one. It's definitely vivid.

It's also very distinctive. I wonder how many people suspected who the author really was.

There are also lines that immediately strike me as perfect, like:

He had, reluctantly, come to the conclusion that Scully had simply decided not to know how he felt, the same way she'd decided not to know about colonization. [3]
I am positive people suspected that Anubis was a collective. The styles are completely different, from story to story. Yeah, I think rivkat's style is pretty distinctive, if pushed a bit for effect here. [4]
I had thought I would be the first commenter, and I had a great first line invented: "Well, might as well get the tumbrils rolling on this one..." The French Revolution, get it? Because I thought a lot of people might hate it. (Go ahead, explain some more.)

But if everyone's going to *like* it, just as well I was late.

I of course love SLATL, because it's gorgeously overwritten with hot and cold running metaphors (there is such a thing, and the only time it got in the way, a bit, was during sex) and it's unabashedly about LUST. There's hardly a scrap of unnecessary sentiment in the whole thing. And although I have no desire to visit Las Vegas I don't mind reading about it; it's such a manmade pile of excruciatingly persuasive bad taste (I hear). (Totally OT, but has anyone read Tim Powers' Last Call? Now there was a VEGAS.)

I'm sure we'll get into analysis and stuff, but I'd like to mention that Penumbra's Contact High popped into my brain, which is amusing because the two pieces are very different. So I think I'll compare and contrast. For fun. We're still in fun mode, right?

They're roughly of a size. I'm guessing. (Research, are you crazy?) They are both "first times." But while in SLATL it's Mulder who craftily, hopefully plans for unbridled sex, in CH it's a far less crafty and more hesitant Scully who knocks on her partner's door. (She is reading his sex fantasies as a result of their Field Trip mindmeld, and feels confident of welcome. Surely you've read it!) When Mulder attempts to bring her down to earth, she dissolves into humiliation. Of course they end up in bed, talking and fucking, soul to soul.

This doesn't happen in SLATL. Though Mulder technically initiates, it's an exasperated,undercover,overdressed and sweaty Scully who suddenly decides--watching her partner throw successful dice in a tux--that she might as well take advantage of the situation and claim the sexual satisfaction from his well-maintained body that years of professional loyalty have earned her. And she does, inviting him to partake in wonderfully philosophical language that he "thinks" he understands. She has a couple of second thoughts along the way, but Mulder brings the ecstasy. It kind of surprises her, and though the morning after she suppresses his bursting desire to brag, she is definitely keeping options open.

Why am I comparing these two. Dunno, exactly. They are both wonderfully written. One is sweet, and one is on the verge of acid. They have very different Scullys and Mulders. There's a power transfer. Nonetheless, everyone gets off and is happy.

What have we learned today? Nothing. Except I love both stories. Except, maybe, keep your options open. [5]
That's an interesting choice to compare but I'll play. "Sore Luck at the Luxor" is a little short of 12,000 words. Contact High is over 16,000, and having just reread it, I feel confident that it could have benefited from some judicious editing. The sex scenes seemed interminable. Though quite different in both tone and style, both stories are a little over-the-top in their use of language, with both writers losing some control during the sex scenes. Both stories use the characters' altered states as a catalyst to sex, which isn't my favorite trope. I don't know what you mean by a "power transfer," but maybe that's not something I notice in relationship stories. I probably like Rivkat's story better because it's a little shorter, and plays the sex for laughs. I love Penumbra but in "Contact High," her Mulder and Scully are a little too earnest for my taste. The romance is a little grating. But I like that M&S get to be happy, if only for a little while. I am all for happiness in fanfic, and I don't disbelieve in the romance and object to the sex, the way I do with so much of the fanfiction for Fringe. It's The X-Files! It's Mulder and Scully. We all know they're in love and have been for years. [6]
...I'm CRAZY about Sore Luck. I think what I was trying to say is: how wonderful that we have two such terrific writers writing about the same thing and they're so distinctive. It's proof that Chris Carter, damn him, had something unique going there for a while. And further proof is that a lot of television to this day imitates The X-Files and tips him a homage. [7]
So far the one thing that struck me is how...I'm trying to find a word more suitable than 'bitchy', hmmm...sarcastic? Hard edged? Scully is in this fic, until I remember that the person who wrote it is responsible for one half of Iolokus. And it does bear some of the OTT-ness of good old Iol' - an abundance of vivid, intricate metaphors that teeter on the thin line between being spot on or so distracting they get in the way of the narrative flow.

This said, I sure loved this one: "Mulder was always focused, like a ray of sun through a magnifying glass. Whatever target he found would soon burst into flames."

This sums up Mulder's intensity so perfectly. -----> iz jealous. [8]
I’m not really sure what to say about this fic. It just doesn’t do it for me and it never has. Which is peculiar, actually, because I like literally every other XF fic RivkaT has written.

I love the “under cover” trope, and all of the subsequent tropes that go with it, such as them pretending to be a couple, and them getting all dressed up, and them interacting in strange environments, and getting unprecedented opportunities for (getting forced into) showing each other aspects of themselves they don’t otherwise. But despite having all of these things, I just don’t like SLATL. I guess there are two main reasons why I don’t like it.

1. I think the sex scene is WAY too long. It’s a twenty-eight page fic, and the sex and foreplay take up ten pages. It’s a well written sex scene, but it’s too long, and frankly it’s too full of words for me to really feel anything but distracted or bored by. I’m so conscious, throughout, of RT writing about sex, that the actual sex doesn’t engage me. I’m not going to say it’s purple, because it isn’t. The mood and the focus are just entirely not to my liking.

2. The characterizations grate. This Mulder and Scully just…don’t seem to like each other very much. The way they look at each other, it’s like they only understand each other as “other”, as “the person in the room who is not me, who I must deal with”. It’s tactical and strategic. For me, this sort of thing works in RT’s other fics, because they’re all dark and serious and life-or-death, and the focus isn’t on romance or sex or love. But in a fic like SLATL, which is a fluffy (albeit witty) smut biscuit, I find it really unpleasant, to read Mulder and Scully thinking about each other this way.

Ultimately, I could more easily see RT having tweaked this fic into something dark and cynical that left a bitter taste in your mouth as Mulder and Scully depart from Vegas, than something fun and shippy, which I presume she was aiming for. As it is, I find SLATL is like a shiny red apple, which looks great, but the tastes if off. [9]
Yep, I'm going to have to go with Amy on this one. It's weird how tastes change as you grow older, but I didn't care for this fic as much as I once did. It's fun and well written and way above par a lot of other fics, but...

1. Yes, the sex is way too long and does nothing for me, mostly because the abundance of metaphors feels like the writer is unloading a verbal assault rifle on the poor unsuspecting reader. Couldn't we get a bit less metaphorical smartassery and a bit more story flow to just, you know - enjoy the moment? But you know me, I'm a great advocate of stylistic simplicity.

2. Yes, as I said before this Scully comes across as rather harsh and sarcastic. It worked tremendously in Iolokus, but not here for what is essentialy a smut biscuit. And yes, there is a sense that these two don't really "get" each other, a certain je ne sais quoi missing - a lack of something flowing between them - an emotional distance? A bugger me, I don't know how to phrase it. There's a hole in their bucket dear Lisa.

Still, Mulder and Scully do Vegas earn points just for the concept, and there are some very clever lines in there. I also loved the way the hotel was described it worked really well. [10]
Another thing that I don't like about this fic is that I have some 'gender role' issues with it. It seems like Scully is basically getting moved around throughout the fic, without really knowing what to do with herself. Mulder manipulates his way into getting them put on the investigation, for reasons which have as much to do with him wanting to see Scully "cut loose" as anything else. He tricks her into getting all dressed up in on outfit she's uncomfortable in. He shows off his exceptional talents for beating the house at craps, and has people catering to him and women brushing their breasts against him in short order. He's the one engages Chip, and who decides when they should head back to the rooms, and who plants the bugs in the rooms. He's also the one who instigates the innuendo, and ultimately pushes the matter by asking about Padgett, and then by making the first move.

Scully is put in this position of being a bauble, an easy drunk, tottering around on her pretty shoes (with heels no higher than her regular shoes, so what gives?). She does try to assert herself here and there, but it's just not in the cards for her in this fic. This is Mulder's show. She's little more than a spectator, watching him assert himself, watching him "make his own luck", watching him win, watching him charm the marks, and the entire craps table, and practically swooning over him herself. Then admitting that she isn't good at knowing what's best for herself, and using that as an invitation for him to make his move.

What's particularly strange is that RT is clearly aware of gender stereotypes and whatnot. But in this case, it's like the fic acknowledges distasteful stereotypes and then marches right into them anyway. Scully scowls at the "virgin luck" cliche, but when Mulder tells her to play, she rolls the dice, while he makes the bets and wins. She scowls that nobody asked her what she was drinking, but drinks what Mulder ordered for her anyway. Maybe it's all for the sake of their cover, but that's not really how it comes across. This goes deeper than "Joe and Dana". It ruffles Scully personally, not professionally. [11]
As for SLATL, brash is a fair evaluation. I think the overriding theme here is: it's Vegas. Vegas is a brash place created for sinful enjoyments, quite old-fashioned in it's sexism, an expensive, manmade fantasy. And we can all agree that Mulder has a weakness for the fantastical. And Scully. He can't wait to get them together. Plus, she was there and he missed it!

So he does set up the case, which tasteful Agent Scully may condescend to, but it is after all about organized crime (everyone remember that Simpsons sendup?) and not lights in the sky; she has no grounds for refusal. Her "costume" is her own choice, a bad one as it turns out but at least (Wendy) it isn't to her personal taste, nor will she pay for it herself. They both drink too much, I guess, but it's virtually unavoidable if they're keeping up with Chip. Mulder does a masterful turn here as a high-rolling, Hugh Hefner hero, and the nostalgia alone is adorable. And Scully really digs him. She already did and this is her nonserious chance to take advantage. She loves the act and she *decides* to have the sex then and there. Presumably what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (an irony acknowledging its brash code of amorality). But, in this case, I don't think so.

Yes, amyhit, I think it is all for the sake of the cover, the cover being for crime and Las Vegas itself. And, finally, for the carnal desires of our heroes, who can examine their higher selves in some other fic.

Oh my, yes, the sex goes on far too long in both stories. Maybe most of us have reached the point when skipping/skimming is indicated a lot of the time. [12]
Just wanted to pop in and say that I was one of the Anubis group, although I did not write any of the stories posted under that pseudonym on Gossamer. We had all gotten together in Vegas one weekend and just thought that it would be fun to write fics under one name and see whether anyone suspected or could identify any of us based on our other work. [13]
Stories like this make me unbearably jealous. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless it gets archived at Gossamer. [14]


In “Sore Luck at the Luxor,” Mulder and Scully are in Las Vegas, posing as a couple (duh!) to get dirt on some scumbag mafia type. This fic was originally posted under the moniker “Anubis,” who was not a single person, but a small group of fanfiction writers, who decided it would be fun to write stories individually and then post them under the same sock puppet. Yeah, I don’t get it either, so there must be more to the story than what little I’ve gleaned. Here’s an excerpt:

Organized Crime had jumped at the chance to have fresh faces doing the surveillance, and Mulder had jumped at the chance for a weekend in Las Vegas, and they met in the middle and smacked together and came down right on Scully.

Ever since she’d been lured to Vegas, Mulder had been itching to go together. Unfortunately, all the time she’d spent apart from the Gunmen was rather hazy in her mind and she hadn’t resisted with as much vigor as she should have. Now that she considered it, Mrs. Franklin was a pretty pitiful excuse even for him. Mulder no doubt had some sort of dark and nefarious bet with the Gunmen involving what *he* could get her to do in Vegas.

Regardless of his true motive, he’d signed them up to do surveillance on Chip Morelli in a hotel in the ridiculous and superstitious shape of a giant pyramid. A black glass pyramid with neon coursing down the edges in case any alien spaceships needed landing lights. Mulder was in love with it.

Of course he is. This is a man who made a pilgrimage to Graceland. Anyway, the story is funny and sexy. “Sore Luck at the Luxor” is my favorite “Three of a Kind” inspired fanfic.[15]


Okay, listen. Today’s fic features one of our absolutely favorite tropes. M and S working undercover and posing as a couple. Throw in a super cracky setting like Las Vegas, add a twist of mafia-types that they’re staking out, a post-Arcadia timeline, and you’ve got a recipe for a really wonderfully sexy and funny fic.

Plus, guys…this should go without saying, but when RivkaT writes a thing, you should probably just go ahead and read it.

We hope you enjoy today’s fic, Philes. Xoxo. [16]


  1. The Basement Office
  2. 1999 Fics of the Week, Archived version
  3. comment by infinitlight at XF Book Club, January 2012
  4. comment by wendelah1 at XF Book Club, January 2012
  5. comment by estella c at XF Book Club, January 2012
  6. comment by wendelah1 at XF Book Club, January 2012
  7. comment by estella c at XF Book Club, January 2012
  8. comment by badforthefish at XF Book Club, January 2012
  9. comment by amyhit at XF Book Club, January 2012
  10. comment by badforthefish at XF Book Club, January 2012
  11. comment by amyhit at XF Book Club, January 2012
  12. comment by estella c at XF Book Club, January 2012
  13. comment by flywoman at XF Book Club, January 2012
  14. comment by wendelah1 at XF Book Club, January 2012
  15. 201 Days of The X-Files, Archived version, 2015
  16. X-Files FanFiction Sommeliers, Archived version