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Hearing the crunch of Velma’s glasses, as Daphne stepped on them, was not how she had imagined the evening progressing. Daphne had expected a night of unbridled fun in the form of glittery dresses, cheap food, and cheesy decorations befitting the prom theme of midnight masquerade. Not an evening of scouring the reception hall’s basement, littered with spider webs and discarded prom decorations from years past, with Shaggy to find Velma, Fred and Scooby, who had all mysteriously vanished from the dance after a clown specter had appeared in a menacing plume of red smoke.

 

(Of course, none of the other students had thought it to be real.

 

“Wow. They’ve really upped the prom budget this year, haven’t they?”)

 

She heard Shaggy exhale sharply from behind her, before she felt his hand wrap around her bare upper arm. “W-what was that?” Tilting the flashlight downwards, Daphne answered Shaggy’s question. “Zoinks! They’re gonna be alright, right?” She could feel him shaking and in response, she grabbed his hand.

 

“We’ll find them, Shaggy, I promise.” Daphne offered him her best smile, although she didn’t feel sure at all. Usually, it was her who went missing and usually, it was Freddie who saved her from the Monster of the Week. It had never been the other way around and that had Daphne almost terrified. What if they weren’t as crafty as Freddie? Or as smart as Velma? Daphne didn’t want to think about it, but the thought of something happening to Fred, Velma or Scooby consumed her. Shaggy said nothing to her as he bent down to retrieve Velma’s glasses, before they continued forth down the darkened corridor. Daphne bit her lip. “Jeepers, this hallway sure is creepy.” Although she could just barely make out the music from above, considering it still sounded a bit warped, the hallway didn’t look exactly welcoming.

 

“I’ll say,” Shaggy echoed her comment, as the duo stumbled upon a dead end. Folding her arms across her chest, Daphne steeled her expressions. She wasn’t about to let her friends be harmed, because she was a coward! “Well, it looks like we’ve hit a dead end. I think I’ll just…”

 

Daphne grabbed Shaggy by the sleeve of his tuxedo, tugging him back to her. “You’re not going to leave me here by myself, are you?” She glanced at him, frowning and Shaggy rubbed the back of his neck. Daphne suddenly felt guilty. She hadn’t meant to put Shaggy on the spot, but then again, she hadn’t expected him to consider leaving her either.

 

“No way, Daph,” Shaggy told her, while he awkwardly patted her back.

 

::::

 

 

When Velma had imagined her prom night, especially paired with the asinine theme of Midnight Masquerade, she had most certainly known something would run amuck. She just hadn’t expected to fall through a makeshift trapdoor in the floor, lose her glasses in the commotion, or become a damsel-in-distress alongside Fred Jones and Scooby-Doo. 

 

I hate prom, Velma thought with a scowl, as she attempted to struggle against her restraints to no avail.

 

::::

 

“I think we should like go this way,” Shaggy said, pointing away from the out-of-place house plant which happened to be just chilling in the middle of the hallway. Daphne hadn’t wanted to leave the dead end, but Shaggy’s we can’t just stand here, man had forced her into doubling back. She reluctantly agreed with him again and stepped forward, when suddenly, she tripped over the house plant. The terracotta pot split in two and luckily for her, Shaggy steadied her before she could hit the floor.

 

“Are you alright, Daphne?”

 

Daphne started to nod, staring upward into Shaggy’s face. “Thank you…” She then glanced downwards, only to shriek in frustration. Shaggy jumped and unapologetically, Daphne bent down to remove her dirt-stained lavender shoes only to find a golden key, mixed in amongst the soil and greenery. “What an odd place to store a key.” Daphne grabbed at the key, running her thumb over the rough-edged imprint of the key as she stood barefooted. If Velma had been there, Daphne could imagine her saying something along the lines of, “Jinkies” because the key was obviously a clue.

 

Now, if only Daphne could find what the key went to…

 

Shaggy laughed shakily, still from behind her. “Maybe the key had the E-B-G-B’s too?”

 

She couldn’t help but stop to stare at him, even as laughter threatened to spill from her lips at the terrible joke. “Shaggy!”

 

::::

 

When Scooby-Doo had imagined prom, well, he had just imagined eating his (and Shaggy’s) weight in free food. 

 

Chicken and beef and mashed potatoes smothered in ketchup and gravy…

 

“It’s alright, Scoob,” Scooby heard Fred suddenly say from somewhere within the room. Scooby whined. He was obviously terrified of being dognapped (especially without his best pal, Shaggy), but he was terrified of not getting a last-last meal either. “I’m sure Shaggy and Daphne are looking for us right now.”

 

Scooby only hoped Shaggy had food on him when he found them, because he was HUNGRY!

 

::::

 

Usually, Fred would split them up to search for clues. Daphne and Velma would both go with Fred, whilst Shaggy and Scooby did their own thing. However, Daphne didn’t feel exactly inspired to split herself from Shaggy. Reaching for his hand again (because he was terrified and she just couldn’t take the chattering of his teeth anymore), Daphne pulled Shaggy through the opened door at the end of the dimly lit hallway.

 

“It just had to be clowns, didn’t it?” Daphne heard Shaggy mutter and Daphne couldn’t help, glancing around at the brightly colored circus décor, but agree with him. After years of unmasking knights and tar monsters and clowns, plus being followed by creeps hiding behind portraits, Daphne couldn’t say she exactly appreciated the circus. “Like why would anyone vote for a circus prom?”

 

Glancing through the decorations for anything that resembled a keyhole, Daphne replied, “it almost happened.”

 

“What?”

 

A Night at the Circus,” Daphne answered, before she frowned. “There’s absolutely nothing here. Great.” She sighed in frustration.

 

Shaggy pulled a face. “No way! No waaaaay would Scoob or I attend any dance with clowns! Or lions! Not again anyway!” She heard Shaggy gulp and that forced Daphne to pause. When the Prom Committee had been pitching themes for prom and Daphne had been forced to listen to all sixteen of them, she’d heard three pitches all related to A Night at the Circus from the same girl. Daphne hadn’t understood the girl’s obsession for a circus-themed prom, but like Shaggy had said – he wouldn’t have attended a circus-themed prom for the idea of clowns alone. So, what if the girl, who had suggested the circus theme and then had ultimately felt left down, had felt the same way? That there was no way she was showing up to any prom without some attachment to the theme she had rallied so hard to obtain, but ultimately fell short in getting. If that were the case, Daphne had a feeling that she and Shaggy had obviously missed something from where Shaggy, Fred and Velma had disappeared from.

 

“I think we need to reexamine the stage.”

 

Shaggy eyed her, as if she had lost her mind. “Are you crazy?” Daphne said nothing. “Daph, how are we going to get on stage?”

 

Daphne smiled brightly at him. “Just leave that to me.”

 

::::

 

Turns out, getting on the stage was a whole lot easier than Shaggy had originally thought, which meant anyone (even a disillusioned creepy clown monster) could have managed. Daphne, in her gown of lavender silk, had shoved her way onto the stage by exclaiming that she had lost an earring.

 

Shaggy followed Daphne’s lead of getting onto her knees to glance about for the fake missing earring, which was made even more difficult thanks to the flashing lights and the pounding music from the DJ. “I think I found something.” Shaggy inched closer to her, pressing his shoulder against hers. “Look,” he watched as Daphne inched the wood paneling up atop the stage to reveal a dark drop below.

 

“Why can’t these trap doors ever lead to, like, a never-ending buffet?” Shaggy asked.

 

Daphne fixed him with a stare. “Come on, Shaggy. I’d like to get back to actually enjoying prom at some point tonight.” And before he could say anything, Daphne disappeared below the stage. Shaggy sighed and looked upwards. This isn’t how he had imagined the night going at all. When the gang had decided to attend prom, Shaggy had bought two tickets (one for himself, one for Scooby) and had been told he could eat his weight in practically free food. So, he dressed up, per Daphne’s insistence that he “look nice”; but what nobody had told him was the free food came with a price.

 

A creepy clown and masks galore!

 

“Are you coming?” He vaguely heard Daphne’s voice from below.

 

“This is for you, Scooby,” Shaggy muttered, before he dropped down after—screaming all the way.

 

::::

 


“On the bright side, Velms,” Fred commented, once it had occurred to him that all three of them had been lumped together in the same room. Of course, he couldn’t see a thing (blindfold? No light?) and his wrists and legs were bound. “This clown doesn’t seem to hold hypnotic or supernatural abilities.”

 

He thought he heard Velma sigh. “I suppose that is a plus.” Fred frowned. He supposed he could somewhat understand Velma’s disappointment at missing her first (and only) prom, even though he wasn’t all that devastated. Once Shaggy and Daphne found and untied them, Fred would then have the perfect trap awaiting their scarlet kidnapper—and that was his real reason for having attended prom.

 

The thing about Coolsville was that nothing important seemed to happen without a monster (fake, real or otherwise) getting involved. Fred had a feeling once the prom had gone underway, especially with the theme of Midnight Masquerade, someone or something was going to show up to cause havoc—and because Fred was Fred, he had come prepared.

 

Unfortunately, what he hadn’t anticipated was being kidnapped himself.

 

“It’ll be fine, Velms,” Fred said after a moment of silence. “We’ll get free, catch the monster, and then we will all be free to dance the night…”

 

“Fred!”

 

“Yes, Velma?”

 

“I think I hear someone coming.”

 

::::

 

 

“Man,” Shaggy said, following Daphne. “This is giving me all kind of bad vibes.”  Daphne almost had to agree with Shaggy, because the secret pathway obviously had no proper use, aside from housing cobwebs.

 

“Keep an eye out for any door,” Daphne told him, moving the flashlight around the entire pathway. She felt Shaggy’s hand latch onto her arm again and Daphne continued forward, pulling them along until they found themselves facing yet another dead end. “No way.” She almost felt dejected. She had been sure that they would have found Freddie, Velma and Scooby by now and yet, prom was halfway over and they were still no closer to solving the mystery. “I was…”

 

Instead of saying anything, Shaggy wrapped his arms around Daphne tightly.

 

::::

 

“Man, this is giving me all kind of bad vibes.”

 

If anyone had been able to see, they would have seen Velma jerk her head around so quickly at Shaggy’s looming voice. Instead of replying to Fred’s question of who, Velma started to raise her voice. “We’re in here, Shaggy! Shaggy!” After a moment of Fred and Shaggy joining in, Velma shook her head. “It’s of no use. I bet, whoever stuck us in here, knew this room was soundproof. Knew we’d hear almost everything outside of this room and it would probably drive us crazy.”

 

“Convenient, isn’t it?” Fred asked lowly.

 

Velma nodded. “Just a tad bit.” Fred, Scooby and she hadn’t meant to be up on stage when the clown had appeared, but an announcement calling the three to the stage had put them all in prime kidnapping positions. “Whoever did this to us had help. There’s no way the clown and the announcement caller could be the same person.”

 

 “I agree,” Fred answered and it sounded as if he had been about to add something more, when Shaggy and Daphne’s voices grew closer.

 

“I’m sorry, Shaggy. I just…I was sure this was going to lead us to something.” Velma bit her lip and it took almost all her energy not to cry out at them both. “I feel like a fool.”

 

“Don’t feel like a fool, Daph,” Shaggy replied. “I’m sure Fred would say the same thing.”

 

“I would,” Fred agreed with Shaggy’s statement. Velma was thankful for the lack of light, because she could roll her eyes at the sickening affection between Fred and Daphne without Fred commenting on it. It wasn’t that she was against any romance, but it was just that the duo had been between off and on so frequently that Velma almost thought she was in a soap drama with the constant frustrations.

 

“I doubt it,” Daphne said, interrupting Velma’s train of thought. “He didn’t even want to take me to prom.” Velma’s mouth dropped slightly, surprised. When Freddie had sprung the idea of prom onto her, she had thought it was so the pair had a buffer for when they decided enough was enough again. Suddenly, she felt guilty. If she had known Fred had said no, she wouldn’t have avoided Daphne’s requests to go dress shopping. “I hinted, for weeks and weeks, that prom was coming. When we could finally purchase tickets, I suggested he and I go. He agreed and then, I realized he had invited the entire gang along too.”  Velma heard Daphne sigh. “I’m glad we could all go to prom together, but…”

 

You wanted to go with Freddie, Velma finished Daphne’s sentence for her, but Freddie didn’t want to go with you.

 

 

::::

 

Shaggy wasn’t the smartest or the bravest person. Those titles, he knew, went to both Velma and Fred without hesitation. However, what he lacked in both smarts and courage—Shaggy more than made up with his ability to really like know people. He figured it had something to do with being friends with Scoob for his entire life, as Scooby-Doo had taught him way more about life than any classroom or person could have taught him.

 

And in that moment, listening to Daphne and really seeing Daphne were two totally different things. Daphne appeared okay, but she certainly didn’t sound okay; Daphne sounded sad and that, in turn, had him bummed.

 

(and he did not like being bummed.)

 

So, he hugged her.

 

And then, when she didn’t stop being sad, he kissed her.

 

::::

 

Daphne hadn’t expected a hug from Shaggy.

 

But then again, she certainly hadn’t expected a kiss either.

 

“I…uh…” Daphne said, stepping backwards from Shaggy—suddenly unable to look him in the eye. “…we need to find Velma, Freddie and Scooby.” Shaggy nodded and unsure of herself, Daphne turned away from him.

 

::::

 

The moment Shaggy found Scooby-Doo, Shaggy almost forgot about his little kiss with Daphne. Hurrying to untie his best pal in the entire world, after Daphne had figured out what exactly the key opened, Shaggy couldn’t be happier when Scooby-Doo threw his paws over Shaggy’s shoulders in a hug.

 

“Are you all okay?” Shaggy heard Daphne ask, standing next to both Fred and Velma.

 

“Yes,” Velma replied. “Thanks to both you and Shaggy.”

 

At the sound of his name, Shaggy glanced at Velma with a laugh. “What are friends for?” Once Scooby had licked his (and Daphne’s) face a few times in thanks, the gang turned to face one another. Velma, who had fortunately foreseen the damage of her glasses, had slipped a spare on before she had addressed the three teens and Scooby-Doo.

 

“What would a clown want with prom night?” Velma asked and Shaggy vaguely listened, as Daphne shared her idea. It wasn’t that he was trying to be rude, but at the same time, he just wanted to go home and forget the clown (and the night) ever existed. However, Fred’s look of I have a plan followed by his actual statement of I have a plan told Shaggy that he’d probably spend a quarter of prom night being bait.

 

(Of course, being bait was like far better than talking to Daphne.)

 

::::

 

Out on the dance floor, while Velma and Daphne waited for Scooby, Shaggy, and the clown, Velma folded her arms across her chest. 

 

“Daphne?” Dancing about from next to her to keep up appearances, Daphne stopped to eye Velma curiously. “I’m sorry about Fred.” Daphne tilted her head to the side and Velma continued, before any of the boys could arrive. “We heard you talking to Shaggy.” Daphne looked troubled for a moment. “Fred should have been more truthful.”

 

Daphne smiled slightly for a moment, before she turned to Velma. “In the hallway. Shaggy kissed me.” 

 

Velma knew her eyes had gone comically wide at Daphne’s sudden admission. “Shaggy what?” Daphne opened her mouth to repeat herself and Velma shook her head. “I heard what you said, but Shaggy kissed you?” Daphne nodded and Velma blinked. Could the night get any stranger?

 

“You’re not angry, are you?”

 

Velma blinked again. Daphne thought she was angry because Shaggy had kissed her? It was almost laughable. Shaggy was a great person, but Velma had come to learn that he wasn’t for her at all.

 

“Daphne,” Velma started out slowly, mulling over her words carefully as to not upset the redhead. “Why would I be angry with you?” Daphne said nothing, so Velma continued. “Or at Shaggy?”

 

“Well, I thought…”

 

Ah. “You thought Shaggy and I were together?” Daphne nodded and Velma chuckled softly. “Daphne, we’re not. Shaggy and I are just friends.”  

 

Whatever Daphne had been about to say was cut short with the arrival of Shaggy, Scooby-Doo and the clown.

 

Velma could only shake her head.

 

::::

 

The clown specter was caught in almost the same way that the clown had kidnapped Fred, Velma and Scooby-Doo. Except, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo had accidentally overstepped the prom committee in announcing Prom King and Prom Queen which resulted in one angry prom committee and an even angrier clown.

 

(Apparently, Shaggy shouting: “Your Prom King and Queen are Scooby-Doo and the Clown Monster!” hadn’t won them any allies.)

 

Once the clown had crept through the crowd of teens and had crossed the stage to join Scooby to be crowned, Fred had tripped the trap to catch the clown in a net.

 

“Wasn’t it obvious?” Velma had asked later, after Shelly Jameson had been led out of the reception hall by security. “Shelly was obsessed with clowns. So much so that she felt slighted after the prom committee refused to vote for her Night at the Circus theme.” Velma had shrugged. “What better way to get back at the prom committee than kidnap some of the student body?”  

 

“Sometimes, you just can’t stop crazy,” Daphne had chimed in, to which everyone had agreed without hesitation.   

 

::::

 

Wishing Fred and Velma goodnight, Daphne called after Shaggy and Scooby, who had long finished their wreckage of the buffet table. Shaggy appeared weary (not that Daphne blamed him) and Scooby made himself sparse.

 

Rubbing the back of his neck, Shaggy spoke softly as they stood outside of the reception hall. “I shouldn’t have kissed you, man.” He glanced upwards. “It was like bad of me and totally stupid and…”

 

Daphne stopped him. “Why did you kiss me, Shaggy?”

 

He stared at her, as if the answer were completely obvious. “You were sad, Daphne—and well, you shouldn’t be.” And in that moment, alone and illuminated only by streetlight, Daphne realized maybe just maybe there was more to Norville “Shaggy” Rogers than she had originally thought.

 

With a slight smile, Daphne leaned forward and pressed her lips to Shaggy’s again.

 

(And this time, neither of them pulled away.)