Once a Thief

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Are you looking for the Once A Thief zine The OaT Zine?

Name: Once a Thief
Abbreviation(s): OaT
Date(s): 1997-1998
Medium: Television
Country of Origin: Canada
External Links: IMDB
Once a Thief (Wikipedia)
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Once a Thief was a television show based on John Woo's 1996 movie/series pilot of the same name.[1] The series lasted one season, had 22 episodes, and fannish interest was guaranteed because the character of Victor Mansfield was played by Nicholas Lea, who played fan-favourite Alex Krycek on the X-Files.

The fame of Krycek's fannish nickname Ratboy found its way into Once a Thief canon when in the X-Files homage episode The Director's Files, the Mulder impersonator snapped, "Don't call me Spooky, Ratboy" to Nick Lea's character.

Show synopsis

Two of the main characters, Mac Ramsey and Li Ann Tsei, are thieves who have been adopted by the godfather of a Hong Kong crime family. At the beginning of the pilot they are secret lovers but their relationship is in peril because the biological son of the godfather wants to marry Li Ann. After getting a closer look at the family business, which includes arms dealing and killing, Mac convinces Li Ann to run away with him. The plan doesn't work out, the two get separated, Li Ann gets caught by the police, and the last time she sees Mac he is trapped inside an exploding warehouse. She thinks he is dead, grieves, and ultimately moves on. However, Mac is very much alive and in prison.

Eighteen months after the explosion, the Director of a secret Canadian Agency blackmails Mac into working for her. When he arrives in Vancouver, he learns that Li Ann works for the same Agency. She is now engaged to another agent, the ex-cop Victor Mansfield (who was framed for something he didn't do and spent some time in jail too), and all three of them are on the same team. Vic and Mac hate each other at first sight. After episode three, Li Ann breaks off the engagement and says that she has no interest in marrying either of them. They try to be friends but that doesn't stop all the sparks between Vic and Mac. Meanwhile they have to solve their cases or get into trouble with the Director, who is a scary lady with an interest in results (and she owns a sex club).


Once a Thief was to some degree an offshoot of the X-Files slash fandom and the fannish output leans heavily to slash. While the canon setup of Vic, Mac and Li Ann as a threeway professional partnership mirrors the relationships on Leverage or even Pirates of the Caribbean that led to popular threesome ships in those fandoms, OaT fandom existed before that kind of story became mainstream in fandom.


The fanfiction was mostly Mac/Vic slash, with occasional Li Ann/The Director f/f, and several X-Files crossovers. Some of these crossovers were Mulder/Victor, in other stories Vic and Krycek were the same person. There were same actor crossovers for both Krycek and the character Nick Lea played on Highlander.

OaT fanfic was originally included on TER/MA, the main Mulder/Krycek archive and RatB predecessor, and later on RatB before The Theban Band created the Once a Thief archive The Agency. The only zine of the fandom was the two-volume The OaT Zine[2] that was published and illustrated by The Theban Band and later released to the net. The stories and manips were Vic/Mac slash.

Wild OaTs was an archive for Once a Thief adult fanfiction.

Once A Thief fiction could also be found on the actor specific website Focussed on Nick Lea.

The fandom continues and occasionally stories for OaT will be written for Yuletide.

In 2000, RatBoat (link), a yahoo group mailing list was set up with fanfic being automatically archived at The Agency.

Fanfic Examples and Resources


There were a few vids made for the series but it is sometimes difficult to properly credit them today because not everyone who has a vid on tape knows who created it.[3] There are at least three of these difficult to credit OaT vids by an M/K vidder:

Dancing In The Dark showed a jaded and tired Vic who finds in Mac the spark that was missing in his life. The "dancing in the dark" part of the refrain featured footage of Mac and Vic rolling around on the ground during one of their fights and some screenshots from the pilot episode where they prove to be very acrobatic while hanging from a chandelier. Different in tone was All For You, an upbeat Mac/Vic slash vid that showed their getting together as somehow inevitable because their dynamic is that of an old married couple, even if they don't know what exactly it is they see in each other. Time, on the other hand, was a melancholic vid where Vic, Mac, and Li Ann all try to find love somewhere but it never works out and in the end they all die.

Ivy was one M/K vidder who had several Mac/Vid slash vids[4] and some OaT gen vids[5] on her site. Some of these vids were hosted on a Krycek/Marita site as well.[6] Compared to what is common today, the files were very small (only 6-10MB ).

Other vids:

Mailing Lists

  • OAT-X (created on 05/03/01 or before) [[email protected] now offline] Genre/Type: Het, M/M Slash, F/F Slash ·· Discussion, Fiction, Updates Description: for the Wild OATS website, the site is no longer being updated, but the list is still alive, open for fiction and discussions
  • Once A Thief Chat and Fic archive link Description: "Vic and Mac make an excellent couple. Agree? Disagree? Come discuss the idea and share a general frinedship, hetero or slash fic with the group. We're eager for anything, smarm through BDSM and beyond. All stories will be posted to the WWOMB Archive unless a request is made for us not to IN THE POST. When we get enough stories we will have a cover page for this fandom. Joining confirms you are over legal age."
  • RatBoat archive link Description: "This list is for discussion and slash fanfiction (any pairing, m/m or f/f) of the Canadian TV show 'Once a Thief'. There are no firm rules on what is discussed but flaming will not be tolerated. The posting and discussion of WIPs, recommendations and update announcements are welcome. Gen (with slash undertones) is also welcome. All fic posted here will be archived at The Agency unless the author requests otherwise. Any questions should be directed to Shadowscast, at [email protected] or in her absence Lily [address redacted]."
  • Vic n Mac Fic archive link Description: "A fan fiction/discussion list about the Canadian show, Once a Thief starring Nicolas Lea and Ivan Sergei as two secret agents named Victor Mansfield and Mac Ramsey and thier relationship. The list will be devoted to ONLY Mac/Vic slash pairing in fiction, but *all* discussion regarding any Nic or Ivan shows welcome."


  1. ^ Also know as John Woo's Violent Tradition.
  2. ^ The Once a Thief Slash Zines, published by the Theban Band in February 2001 and released to the net in November 2001.
  3. ^ Fans in other countries often used their X-Files sources or asked other X-Files fandom contacts for copies. The tapes usually included as many episodes as would fit on a tape because postage was expensive and fans sometimes shared these costs and the cost for converting a master tape from NTSC to PAL. The people receiving copies of copies of the master tape often had no idea where the tapes originally came from and the fans who copied their own copies for fellow fans sometimes included vids from other sources. Without credits, these vids were as anonymous as the episode sources and few vids on these copied tapes came with credits.
  4. ^ Ivy. Slash Videos. (Accessed 13 February 2009)
  5. ^ Ivy. Music Videos. (Accessed 13 February 2009)
  6. ^ Classic Videos by Deslea's Friends. (Address updated 19 October 2017)