Subterfuge (X-Files zine)

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Title: Subterfuge
Publisher: Agent With Style
Author(s): Xanthe
Cover Artist(s):
Date(s): 1998 (online), 2003 (print)
Medium: online, print zine
Fandom: X-Files
Language: English
External Links: Subterfuge (
dustjacket online version, printed copy has the same cover
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Subterfuge is a slash 130-page X-Files novel by Xanthe. It was published online in 1998 and was later published as a zine in 2003. In print is a letter-sized with spiral binding.

Author's summary: "A ritualistic serial killer is on the loose and, in order to trap him, Mulder and Skinner must go undercover in the gay BDSM underworld with Mulder playing errant submissive to Skinner's stern top. Their search for the killer takes them to dangerous places – both physically and emotionally, and, trapped in their roles in order to save their lives, they begin to question the true nature of their relationship."

The novel won the 1998 Whammy slash awards for Best Series, and best sex scene. It also won four Purple Hearts (the MTA awards) in 1998 for Best Long Story or Series, Best Mulder/Skinner Story, Best Psychological MulderTorture Story, and Best First Person Story. Later it won the [[The Wirerims Awards|Wirerims Awards[[ in 2000 for Most Realistic Skinner Characterisation, Outstanding Action Adventure, Best Sex Scene in a Slash Story, Best First Time Sex Scene and Best Kiss.

In 2005, the story was translated into Chinese by ASAP.

Reactions and Reviews

Although I show a preference for liking stories that pair him with Mulder, I'm an equal opportunity Skinner slash ho. Slash him with anyone, and I'm a happy boy.

Anyway, for my first X-Files rec, I present you with one of my favorites, entitled Subterfuge. As the name suggests, it talks about how some people hide behind masks and roles, and how others use roleplay to realize who they really are. And that's what happens with Fox Mulder and Walter Skinner -- an undercover mission unmasks a sublimated desire between these two men.

Xanthe serves up a sizzling hot story that is both nasty and surprisingly romantic. Don't be turned off by the BDSM elements here, because underneath all the whips and handcuffs, is a well-written love story that pushes the boundaries of both characters as well as their characterization in the show. It seems that the writer has more than a passing knowledge of the subculture and uses it to make us believe in the possibility of the usually subversive Mulder being a potential sub for the strict, protective Skinner. And although I am not into BDSM, this fic has a seductive quality that made me actually curious about this aspect of sexuality. Very, very interesting.

Let me leave you with an excerpt that perhaps for me, is one of the most subtle and sweet and erotic passages in the fic:

I massage him all over, back and front, and finally dip my fingers in the oil one last time and massage his scalp. I've never touched a man's bald head in this way before, if at all. There is something more sexual about a naked skull than anything else, and my fingers burn with the ecstasy of this moment.

It's quite long but worth it. [1]
Subterfuge sucked me into this fandom with hurricane wind force, and I haven't been right since. It was the first slash story I ever read, and addicted me to slash, especially of the M/Sk type. [2]


  1. recced at Crack Van, March 2004
  2. recced at Crack Van, March 2004