Title: Something in Common
Authors: Polly and SLS
Written: September 2003
Classification: S, Angst
Disclaimer: Oh, please. Do we really need this anymore? Fine. They're not ours, we don't claim to own them. . . yada, yada, yada.

Summary: "I'm a man who values the truth, remember? That's something we do have in common."

Notes: This story takes place during the course of "The Truth." It also assumes the birth-and-death dates for Luke Doggett as 1986 and 1993, respectively.

Feedback: We'd love it! Send it to Polly122456@yahoo.com or siriasl@yahoo.com.

Archive: Beyond the Sea, XFMU, Gossamer and at SLS' site http://kentuckybelle.secretcountry.net - everyone else, please let us know so we can come see.

See our authors' notes at the end.


*What is the point of all this? To destroy a man who seeks the truth or to destroy the truth so no man can seek it? Either way, you lose.*

He'd been thinking about Reyes' impassioned words ever since they returned him to his cell. It sounded like something he might have said himself once, a long time ago, when he believed that there were things worth fighting for, worth risking everything for.

Reyes reminded him of himself a little bit.

She was willing to believe in things that couldn't be proven, willing to say or do whatever it took to find the truth. He should tell her to stop, before it's too late. Stop before they ruin her--her career and her life - and take away everything that's important to her.

But people had told *him* to stop, and he hadn't stopped. He doubted Reyes would either.

But maybe he should try to tell her anyway.

*Stop digging before they bury you. Let it go. Give up the ghost.*

*Give up the ghost.* That was a good one.

Even when he tried to give up the ghost, the ghosts wouldn't give up on him.

He pushed his arms and legs forward, stretching out the stiffness that had settled there while he'd been propped against the wall thinking about the afternoon's proceedings. Too many nights sleeping on this cold concrete floor were taking their toll on his middle-aged body.

He estimated it had been nearly two hours since he'd been returned to his cell, and marveled that he was getting pretty good at judging the passage of time by watching the shadows as they fell across the wall opposite the tiny window. That Indian Guide training was finally paying off.

The scraping slide of the heavy door roused him from his thoughts. He shielded his eyes against the harsh fluorescent glare, staring up into a familiar face - but not the one he expected to see.

"Agent Doggett? What are you doing here?"

Doggett looked back uncomfortably as the door slammed shut behind him. He had changed clothes since Mulder had last seen him at the trial that afternoon. In the black sweater, bluejeans, and casual workboots, he was no longer the picture of the straight-arrow FBI-agent. He turned back to face Mulder and shoved his hands nervously in his pockets.

"Agent Scully asked me to come," he said.

"We ... Agent Reyes and I found something that might help your case." He glanced around the cell, knowing that it would be risky to say more. "They went to check it out--Agent Reyes and Agent Scully, I mean.

Agent Scully asked me to come tell you. She wanted you to know she's doing everything she can."

Mulder smiled and nodded. "I know she is.

I know you all are. And I appreciate it."

Doggett started to speak, but Mulder was determined to change the subject. "Where's Gibson?"

"He's safe," Doggett replied, folding his arms across his chest. "He's with Skinner right now. The A.D. wanted to ask him a couple of questions. I'm picking him up on my way home. He's gonna stay at my place tonight."

"That boy needs to be protected at all costs," Mulder said, staring intently into Doggett's eyes. "He shouldn't have come here."

"I don't think anyone could have stopped him," Doggett said. "That boy thinks a lot of you."

"I think a lot of him too." It was nearly a whisper, and Mulder looked down at the floor. "Take care of him."

"I will," Doggett replied. "You can count on it."

Doggett started for the door but then he turned back and cleared his throat. "I also wanted to tell you that I'm sorry about what happened in the courtroom this afternoon. I guess my testimony wasn't very helpful."

Mulder looked up with a lopsided grin.

"Couldn't bring yourself to jump on the old alien conspiracy bandwagon, huh? Even to save my sorry ass?"

Mulder laughed at Doggett's pained expression. "Kidding, Agent Doggett, kidding. It was pretty apparent from the moment we met that we weren't gonna be on the same side of much of anything. Our beliefs are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I should have known they wouldn't replace me on the X-Files with someone who had anything in common with me."

Doggett winced a bit. "Just for the record, Mulder, I never tried to replace you. I was assigned to help find you, and that's all I ever tried to do."

"Yeah, I know that," Mulder said. "But you ended up assigned there with Scully.

Skeptics - 2. Believers - 0. My side didn't have a chance - we didn't even get to field a team."

"That's not entirely true. Agent Scully did go to bat for your side. While you were gone, she tried her best to put herself in your role," Doggett explained. "And I was in her usual shoes. Talk about irony. But she eventually stopped trying so hard to be you and concentrated on being herself.

Still a skeptic, but a lot more open to your way of thinking."

"She never mentioned that," Mulder said softly. "When Scully and I first started working together, she couldn't bring herself to say she saw or believed lots of the things that I did without hard proof to back it up. You two are alike that way. I guess I should've known from experience that convincing you of what I believe would be a tough sell."

"So you two didn't have much in common either when you started working together,"

Doggett noted. "What changed? How did you convince Agent Scully?"

Mulder laughed. "I don't think I ever convinced her of anything. I think that over the years we just both began to appreciate the other's viewpoint. You work with her long enough and she tends to have that affect on you and your way of thinking."

"She certainly does," Doggett agreed.

Intrigued by the comment, Mulder opened his mouth to speak, but Doggett spoke first.

"I had no choice but to testify the way I did today," he said. "I'll admit that I don't believe in the same things that you and Dana or even Monica believe in. That doesn't mean I don't respect your beliefs.

But I just can't say I believe in something when I don't. Not even ..."

His voice drifted off, and they both knew what he was thinking. 'Not even to change your fate.'

"Don't sweat it, Agent Doggett," Mulder said. "There's nothing to be sorry for.

You told the truth as you believe it to be.

I'm a man who values the truth, remember?

That's something we do have in common."

"Still, I wish I could have done more."

"Forget it," Mulder repeated. "The outcome of this so-called trial is a foregone conclusion. Nothing that anyone says - or doesn't say - is going to change that. I don't want any of you to think you could have done more. Especially Scully."

Doggett didn't know how to respond. He knew Mulder was probably right, but was surprised at the defeat in his voice. Well, Mulder might be ready to stop searching for the truth, but Doggett knew there was still one truth to be found, and hopefully Dana and Monica would find it tonight. If they did, the outcome of Mulder's trial might not be as certain as he thought.

They were both staring at the floor; the easygoing conversation of just a few minutes ago replaced by awkward silence. Finally, Doggett turned toward the door again.

"Well, I guess I'd better be ..."

"Are you in a big hurry, Agent Doggett?"

Mulder's question caught him off guard.

"No, not really. Gibson will be fine with Skinner. What can I do for you?"

"I wanted to ... I wanted to ask you something, if you have a few minutes ..."

Mulder's voice trailed to a whisper again, obviously uncomfortable with making the request.

"Sure," Doggett said as cheerfully as he could muster, trying to relieve Mulder's anxiety. "What did you want to ask me about?"

"William."

Doggett felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. "William?" he repeated.

"Don't you think it would be better to talk to Agent Scully? Or A.D. Skinner?"

"I can't ask Scully," Mulder said. "She feels guilty enough already. The things I want to know ... they'd just make her feel worse. I've hurt her enough and I can't hurt her anymore. So, I'd appreciate it if we kept this conversation private."

Doggett nodded.

"And I have talked to Skinner. He's tired of me asking. He's told me a lot, all that he can remember, but I want to know more. I *need* to know more."

For an instant their eyes locked, Mulder's filled with pleading intensity. Although no words were exchanged, Doggett gave a nearly imperceptible nod, a signal that he understood.

*I know what you're asking me.*

*I know why you're asking me.*

Yes, he understood perfectly. A man facing death wants to know that his life had meaning. He wants to know that he's leaving something behind. A child provides that legacy, but Mulder knew little about his own son. He wanted memories to sustain him in this difficult time, memories that he had been denied. Doggett realized that he hadn't been able to help Mulder in the courtroom today, but he could help him now.

"I had so little time with him before I left," Mulder said, his voice breaking. "He was barely a week old. In a couple of weeks, he'll celebrate his first birthday."

"I know," Doggett replied. "It's hard for me to believe that Luke would be almost 16 now. Almost ready to get his driver's license. He'd probably already be bugging me to buy him a car ..."

"Oh, Jesus, Agent Doggett. I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking. I didn't mean to dredge up a lot of bad memories."

"Hey, Mulder, it's okay." Doggett tried to smile. "I have a lot of good memories of Luke. It's good to think about them.

Comforting. They help get me through the tough times."

*None tougher than what you're facing right now,* he thought.

Mulder seemed at a loss for words, so Doggett took the initiative. "Well, I guess Skinner told you the physical stuff. His eyes were really beautiful - sort of a blue/green color. The most unusual shade I'd ever seen. And his hair was brown, sort of with a reddish tint. He definitely had your nose."

Mulder smiled. "Poor kid."

"And Agent Scully's chin," Doggett continued. "It seems like kids usually take after one parent or the other, but William was a pretty good composite of both of you."

"Did your son look like you?" Mulder asked.

Doggett laughed. "Everybody said he was the spitting image, but I always thought he looked like Barbara ... my wife." He scuffed the toe of his boot along the cement floor. "I think when you look into your child's eyes, you see the person you created him with, and that's why you think he looks like that person. It's that love reflecting back at you. I know that's what Agent Scully saw when she looked at William. She saw you. He was her connection to you. He gave her hope when she thought she'd never see you again. I know it almost killed her when she gave him up, partly because she thought she was giving up on you."

Mulder was silent for a few moments, then drew his knees up toward his chest and rested his arms on top of them. Doggett took the opportunity to sit against the wall beside Mulder, mirroring Mulder's position.

"Let's see ... what else?" Doggett continued, trying to ease the tension. "He was gonna be tall ... I could tell that already. And he had big hands and long fingers. He was gonna be a basketball player, like his dad."

Mulder smiled and rested his chin on his hands.

"I don't know a lot about the timetable for when babies are supposed to do what,"

Doggett said, "but I heard Dana and Monica talking one day about how William was ahead of the curve. He was doing stuff at six months that most babies don't do till nine months or a year. He was a smart one."

"Like his mom," Mulder interjected.

Doggett smiled. "I also remember Dana saying that he didn't cry very much. Even after all the stuff he'd been through."

Doggett regretted the words as soon as they'd left his mouth, but he couldn't take them back. So he tried glossing over them instead. "He hardly ever cried. She said he was a very happy baby, laughing and smiling a lot. I remember Luke cried all the time for the first few months."

He glanced over at Mulder. He was still staring straight ahead, but Doggett could tell the words were having a profound effect. He wracked his brain for a few more details to share with Mulder.

"I didn't get to see Agent Scully with William a lot, but the times I did I remember thinking how great she was with him. That I was seeing the *real* Dana."

"What do you mean?" Mulder turned his head slightly to look at Doggett as he spoke.

"Agent Scully builds such a wall around herself," Doggett said. "She tries so hard not to let anyone see her vulnerabilities, to not let anyone in."

"Tell me about it," Mulder sighed, staring forward again.

"But when she was with William, she was so open, so natural," Doggett said. "I just got the feeling that was the real Dana that she only let a few people see. Kids will do that to you. They have a way of breaking down those barriers."

Mulder nodded in agreement and closed his eyes.

"You know, something else I remember,"

Doggett continued. "I heard Agent Scully singing to William a few times, and you figure it would be some kind of lullaby, you know? But it was always the same - that 'Jeremiah was a bullfrog' song. I asked her about it once and she just said it was William's favorite."

He chuckled and glanced over at Mulder who was smiling warmly, visibly lost in a very happy memory. Doggett didn't know what the song meant, but it was obvious it meant a lot to Mulder. He smiled too, glad he was able to call up this particular memory for Mulder.

He wasn't sure if Mulder was listening, but he kept talking anyway. "My favorite thing was putting Luke to bed at night. He loved to hear bedtime stories - the more bizarre the better. He would have liked hearing some of your X-File stories, Mulder. I bet William would have too." He paused a moment, and then had another thought. "Oh, I also remember William's favorite toy was this stuffed panda teddy bear."

Mulder looked up so suddenly that it caught Doggett off guard. "A panda?"

"Yeah, it was almost as big as William, but I remember Agent Scully saying he had to have it in his crib every night or he wouldn't go to sleep, and that he'd fuss if she didn't take it in the car with him. She said it was a Christmas gift from Frohike."

Mulder smiled. "From me. I asked Frohike to get it from the zoo. I saw them in the gift shop once when Scully and I were there.

I had a dream about taking William to the zoo, so I called the guys and asked them to get it."

"They knew where you were?" Doggett asked in surprise.

"Not exactly," Mulder replied. "I guess they could have figured it out, but I asked them not to. And I asked them not to tell Scully I'd been in touch or that the bear was from me. I knew it would just upset her. I knew it was risky to call them, but given how things turned out, I'm glad I did. I'm glad I got to talk to them one last time." He leaned his head against the wall and sighed.

"They were good friends."

Doggett nodded in agreement. "Yeah, they thought an awful lot of William too. I remember, at Halloween, Agent Scully told me they showed up at a party at her mom's house dressed as the characters from the 'Wizard of Oz'. You know--Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, just for William."

Mulder laughed out loud. "God, I wish I'd seen that!"

"Agent Scully said it was pretty hilarious,"

Doggett chuckled. "She dressed William up in a little Yankees uniform. I saw it on her desk at Quantico. She said she had recently become a baseball fan, and that the Yankees were your team."

Mulder smiled, remembering a night of batting practice under the stars.

"Seeing that little costume brought back some memories for me, let me tell you,"

Doggett said wistfully. "Luke loved Halloween - more than Christmas, I think. I don't remember ever gettin' that excited about Halloween when I was a kid. But before I knew it, he had me dressing up and going around the neighborhood with him.

That's how it is to be a father, I guess.

You do things you never thought you'd do ...

all for your kid."

Suddenly Mulder's smile was gone and he was staring up at the ceiling. "I never really saw myself as a father. After my sister disappeared, I didn't have the best childhood or share a close relationship with my parents. I didn't think I'd be great father material," he said. "But the time I've spent with Gibson taught me that I *could* be - that I really *wanted* to be a father. Something I learned too late."

"Not too late for Gibson," Doggett said.

"When we were driving to Skinner's tonight, he told me a little bit about how you two have been spending your time in New Mexico during the past year. He told me you've been like a father to him - at a time when he really needed one."

"I always knew I wanted to be a father,"

Doggett said in an effort to keep the conversation going. "When Barbara got pregnant I was so happy. And I was one of those typical nervous fathers-to-be. The closer she got to her delivery date, the crazier I got. Every time she had a little ache or pain, I was halfway to the car with her suitcase."

Mulder smiled as Doggett continued.

"Barbara got the last laugh, though. We were in the delivery room, and the head started to crown, and I almost passed out.

They had to get the smelling salts. She never let me forget that one - big Macho Cop and I nearly hit the floor. I recovered for the most important part, though."

"I wish I'd gotten to Georgia in time to be with Scully when William was born," Mulder said. "I missed so much, and that was the one part I could have shared in."

"You were doing what you thought you had to do, to protect Scully and your son," Doggett said.

"But I couldn't protect him," Mulder sighed.

"That's why it's so important to me that Gibson be taken care of. I promised to protect him too, in a way I couldn't protect William, and now look. He put himself at great risk by coming here, because of me. I failed him, just like I failed William."

"You didn't fail your son, Mulder," Doggett said, "any more than I failed mine. You can't let yourself think that. Believe me, I know all too well the guilt and disappointment a father feels when he thinks he let his child down. I've replayed the day Luke was abducted a hundred thousand times in my mind. All the things I could have done differently..." He stopped to look Mulder square in the eye. "We both did the best we could do."

Mulder considered this for a moment and then spoke. "I guess we have more in common than I thought, Agent Doggett. And I wish for both our sakes we didn't. We've both lost our sons."

Doggett swallowed hard and rubbed his hands on his jeans.

"I don't--I don't mean to imply it's the same thing," Mulder stammered. "Your son was murdered. There's no atrocity worse than that. William will at least have a chance."

A look passed over Mulder's face that Doggett couldn't quite comprehend. "I understand why it feels the same," Doggett said. "The loss of a child is still a loss, no matter how it happens."

"When my sister disappeared, it was like someone punched a hole in my chest," Mulder whispered. "When I found out she was dead, I knew that void would never be filled. It would always be a part of me. I thought nothing could be worse than that feeling of emptiness." He paused for a moment, but Doggett could sense there was more to come.

"But when it's your own child, somehow it's like a part of you has been amputated. Like a piece of you is missing. Does that make sense?"

"Perfect sense."

"I guess for the first time I truly understand what my parents went through when Samantha was abducted. I'm sorry that you had to go through that." Mulder fell silent, and Doggett waited a few moments before speaking.

"I'm sorry that any parent has to go through that," Doggett said. "But I thank God every day for the time I did have with him. To see him grow and change, to see his personality start to take shape, see that he had likes and dislikes, that he knew right from wrong. I at least got some idea of what kind of man he would have grown up to be."

Doggett looked Mulder in the eye before continuing. "I'm sorry you didn't have that chance with William."

Mulder nodded slowly.

They sat together in silence for a few minutes more, until Doggett finally cleared his throat. "Well, I guess I'd better ..."

"Do you want to have any more children, Agent Doggett?"

Doggett bristled slightly at the personal question, but understood Mulder's need to know. "For a long time after Luke died, I didn't want to consider it," he responded.

"I thought it would be like we were trying to create a replacement for Luke. That's partly why Barbara and I eventually divorced. But I've been thinking about it quite a bit recently, and now I think I'm ready."

"Recently?"

"I guess you don't really think about it until you meet someone that you'd like to consider starting a family with. So it's been on my mind a lot recently." Doggett shifted slightly to relieve the stiffness in his lower back. "So, the answer is yes.

I'm ready now. I'm looking forward to more children."

Doggett was puzzled by the cloud that seemed to pass over Mulder's features. He thought his answer to Mulder's question would help, but it seemed to have had the opposite effect. He frowned and prepared to stand when Mulder spoke again.

"Scully told me that last year after I was found you had a chance to be transferred off the X-Files and you didn't take it, Agent Doggett. Do you mind if I ask you why?"

Doggett leaned against the wall again.

"It's like I said before. I may not share your beliefs but I do respect them, just like I respect good work. And you and Agent Scully did phenomenal work. Paranormal or not, you got a lot of scum off the streets.

I guess I thought that work should have a chance to continue."

Doggett absently ran a hand through his short-cropped hair. "I knew once I was gone and Agent Scully went on maternity leave that Kersh would shut down the X-Files in a heartbeat. So I decided to stay. The work *is* pretty challenging, and there was the opportunity to continue to work with Agent Scully."

"Enjoyed working with her, did you?" It wasn't really a question, and Mulder began to pull on his lower lip with thumb and forefinger.

"A man would be a fool not to," Doggett said. "I'll admit we didn't exactly get off to the best start, but after working with her for awhile, I did grow to like and respect her very much, both as a partner and as a person."

"Something else we have in common," Mulder interrupted.

Doggett chuckled. "She's an excellent Agent. Extremely intelligent, the consummate professional. A very courageous woman. Yes, I've enjoyed working with her a lot."

He looked over at Mulder who continued to nervously tug on his lip.

"I think she and I eventually found a good working rhythm," Doggett continued. "Not as fluid as the one you and she shared, as she liked to tell me on more than one occasion, but I think we did all right. I guess it was evident that she and I could never have the kind of connection the two of you did, but that didn't stop me from trying."

Mulder looked up. "Maybe I shouldn't tell you this," Doggett said, "but for a while I hoped there could be something more between Agent Scully and me. But she made it clear pretty quickly that there was a place in her heart for only one man. And once you returned--well, it was apparent that's where her heart was, and where it would stay."

The tension seemed to drain out of Mulder like air from a balloon, and Doggett suddenly realized that Mulder must have misinterpreted his earlier comment about finding someone special to start a family with. He wondered how Mulder could be so unsure of Dana's feelings for him when they were so obvious to everyone else.

"This year was hard," Mulder was saying.

"I've missed her so much. There were so many times that I just wanted to come home.

Maybe if I had ... well, maybe things would be different."

"Like I said before," Doggett interjected, "you did what you thought you had to do.

Both of you. You've both sacrificed a lot."

Mulder nodded slightly and stared at his feet once more.

"Monica and I have talked a lot about you and Agent Scully ... everything you've given to the cause, everything you've lost,"

Doggett explained. "You've both made us realize that it's important not to waste one second of the time you have, because you never know when things will change. When you've got a chance for happiness, you should take it, so Monica and I are taking that chance."

"You and Agent Reyes, huh?" Mulder finally smiled. "Good for you. I'm happy for you."

"We haven't talked about it much, but I know Monica wants children," Doggett said. "So that's what got me thinking about being a father again."

Doggett glanced at his watch and decided he'd better be on his way to pick up Gibson.

He was hoping to hear from Monica or Dana soon, and would be glad to be reunited with his cell phone that he had surrendered at the guard's station.

He stood up and stretched out the kinks, twisting his foot back and forth to ease the pins and needles. "How about you, Mulder?"

he asked as he waited for circulation to return.

Mulder squinted up at him. "How about me what?"

"Do you want to have any more children?"

Mulder laughed. "Well, that's kind of a moot point right now, don't you think?"

Doggett squatted down to Mulder's eye level.

"Don't do this, Mulder. Don't give up. I may still be a skeptic, but I've learned one thing on the X-Files - that nothing is impossible. Hell, I saw you come back from the dead - and I know that's not the first time. A man who's cheated death as many times as you have must still have a few cards up his sleeve."

"You gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em, Agent Doggett," Mulder replied. "This time the stakes are high, the opponent is holding all the cards, and the deck is stacked. It's time to fold."

"Not all the cards," he said. "Don't give up on your wild cards yet. We're gonna do all we can. There's always a chance."

Mulder nodded, but the expression on his face told Doggett just how unconvinced he was of the possibility of another miracle for Fox Mulder.

"Don't. Give. Up." Doggett repeated, punching out each word. "You owe that to Agent Scully. And to yourself. And to William."

Doggett saw a spark return to Mulder's eyes at the mention of his son's name. He returned Mulder's gaze sharply as he stood up and adjusted his sweater.

Mulder nodded in understanding. "Thanks, Agent Doggett. And thank you for taking care of Gibson. Tell him that I'm thinking about him, and I miss him."

"I will," Doggett said, as he walked toward the door. He called for the guard, then turned back to face Mulder who was still looking up at him. "Whatever it's worth, Mulder, I believe that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. No matter where or how William grows up, he carries you and Agent Scully with him. And I think that means he'll grow up to be a good man, a gentle man, with a good heart and a good soul."

"It's worth a lot, Agent Doggett," Mulder whispered. "I appreciate it, more than I can say."

The door opened and Doggett paused for a moment, readjusting his eyes to the bright light. Before stepping through the doorway he turned back once more. "And I think that one day William just might go chasing some lights in the sky. He won't know why - and he'll be skeptical - but he'll go. Because somehow he'll know that he needs to find the truth."

Mulder looked up and smiled. "Thanks, John.

For everything."

The heavy door slid home and Doggett stared at it for a few moments, thinking back on a conversation he never expected. The guard nudged him to move along, and he set off to collect his gun and cell phone, his mind filled with a jumble of thoughts - thoughts of Mulder, Scully, Gibson, William, and Monica. And Luke. Right now, he missed Luke more than ever.

But he couldn't think about Luke now. The memories would be there for him when he needed them, as he was sure he would in the days to come. He signed out and headed for the door, off to collect Gibson, to do the job that was entrusted to him. He had a promise to keep. And he was a man who kept his promises.

As he punched Skinner's number on his cell phone to let him know he was on the way, he remembered that Agent Scully had once told him Mulder would do "whatever it took." He put his pickup in gear and vowed that now *he* would do whatever it took to help Mulder. He wanted both of them to have a chance at a future with the women they loved.

It would be something new they'd have in common.

The End


Author Notes:

Can a Mulderist and a Doggettist write a story together without driving each other crazy? Absolutely! Why? Because they too have "something in common": their love of the X-Files. That's where this story has its genesis. Well, that and a friendship that survived (and thrived!) through David Duchovny's absence in Seasons 8 & 9, Doggett's entrance into the show, Scully's hair during Season 9, a wild time watching the series finale with our fellow Phile friends and much more!

Polly - I'm relatively new at fanfic writing and don't know what I'm doing most of the time, so I wasn't sure I was ready to try a joint project with anyone. But

collaborating with my XF bud, SLS, was a great pleasure. I'm not sure either of us knew exactly how to go about

"collaborating," so we just made it up as we went along. I'm not a Doggett fan by any stretch of the imagination, but my goal for this story was to treat both characters with respect, as I believe that's how the characters would treat each other.

In collaborating with SLS, I think our mutual respect helped us to keep each other honest, and thus to try and keep the characters honest to themselves. So thank you to SLS for a great experience, to my favorite beta Peg's Girl for comments and suggestions, and to everyone who has encouraged me to continue to write.

SLS - first and foremost, I must thank my good friend and co-author, Polly. This was only my second attempt at a story collaboration and I'll freely admit I was a Nervous!Nelly every step of the way. But Polly and I held hands and made it through unscathed. ;)

I've been in love with Polly's writing since she started writing her X-Files "Theatre of the Mind"'s almost 3 years ago and am thrilled and honored to be part of this story alongside her. Polly, I hope you continue to churn out more stories as long as you're inspired to write them. And thank you for 1) not torturing my boy too much, b) letting me dress him ;) and 3) giving my story "Halloween Memories" a shout-out here.

Now get yourself a website to house all those gems already! ;)

Next I have to thank my wonderful and loyal beta, MeridyM. Your comments, suggestions and opinions mean a lot to me, hon, and Polly and I are thankful to you for giving this the once-over. Thank you for always being there to offer your "red pen" services ;), your support of me and this story and for just being a dear, loving friend.

Finally, I must thank Megan, Mara and Jenna (who also graciously hosts & maintains my site) who - when they got a sneak preview of this story - kindly said they actually liked it. ;) And a special shout-out to Mara your comment made my year! Thanks darlings!

::smooches::

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