Daphne prided herself on being prepared for anything; she carried the world in her purse. Banishing powder for a pesky ghost? Got it. Extra candles for an unexpected ritual (plus lighter)? Got ‘em. Velma’s spare glasses? A given. Dryer sheets (because if she had to deal with random laundromats going from town to town, she wanted her clothes to at least be soft)? Somewhere in the bottom of her bag, for sure. Still, she never figured out how, exactly, Shaggy managed to make the meals he did while they were on the road.
She wasn’t going to complain, of course, because she presently had a restaurant-quality veggie omelet in front of her at two in the morning and she’d never had to leave the hotel room, but she swore it shouldn’t have been possible to make something like this on a hotplate. “Are you sure Velma isn’t teaching you magic?” Daphne teased as she cut into the egg with one of the forks they’d found in the kitchenette.
“Nope. I’m perfectly happy leaving hocus pocus to, like, everyone else. If I have to be anywhere near a monster, I want something I know I can use in my hands,” Shaggy grinned over his shoulder, “Like the crossbow. I like the crossbow.”
“I told you you would.”
“Like, I shouldn’t have doubted,” Daphne could hear the amusement in Shaggy’s voice as he slid another omelet onto a plate and settled down across from her at the cramped table, “So, why can’t you sleep?”
“I never said I couldn’t sleep. Am I not allowed to be awake at… two in the morning?” Daphne stared resolutely down at her plate as she scooped up more food to occupy herself with.
“Sure. But, like, that’s usually my thing. Sleeping at weird hours and making food at two in the morning for me ‘n Scoob.” Shaggy shrugged, tucking into his own meal.
That was, in fact, what Daphne had wandered in on Shaggy doing. One omelet had already been on a plate on the floor for Scooby while Shaggy was in the process of making a second when Daphne had come in from the other room in socks and a nightshirt and sat down quietly at the tiny hotel table to watch. Shaggy had put the plate down in front of her without even asking, dropping a handful of ketchup packets beside it before he started up the third omelet. Daphne supposed a few years of working as both a short order cook and a server made feeding people second nature, even if they were all in a different sort of business now.
“Why can’t you sleep?” Daphne asked finally.
“Hm?” Shaggy hummed around a mouthful egg, swallowing before he tried to speak, “Like, that’s what I asked you.”
“Well the way you said it made it sound like you can’t sleep, either.”
Shaggy sighed, somewhere between exasperated and fond, or maybe just tired, and shrugged. “Why do I ever have trouble sleeping? I’m an anxious guy, sometimes I just don’t sleep. Not like I don’t like sleeping. Sleep is great,” Shaggy dropped his head into his hand and shoveled in another mouthful of omelet, “But it doesn’t always happen.”
Daphne nodded. Sleep didn’t always happen. It was more of a problem for some of them, but it wasn’t like they didn’t all have nightmares. She’d like to dare someone to stare down a demonic clown bent on murdering anybody who entered the damned big top and be able sleep soundly afterwards. Still, her reasons for being awake had less to do with clowns and more to do with feelings, which were considerably harder to banish- and the clown hadn’t gone down without a fight. Daphne sighed.
“Okay, now you tell me why you’re awake. You’re sitting over there sighing like you don’t have the world’s best omelet in front of you.” Shaggy waved his fork at her.
“Okay, Mr. Modesty,” Daphne grinned, “It just so happens that I feel… restless. I guess. Can’t stop thinking.”
“Oh, you know…” Daphne hedged, “Things?”
“Right… Don’t you usually talk about things with Velma?” Shaggy questioned as he scraped up the last of his omelet.
“Usually.” Daphne sighed again.
“Unless… they’re things about Velma and you can’t talk to Velma because you haven’t talked to Velma yet.” Shaggy continued.
Daphne leveled Shaggy with an unimpressed look and he waved his hands lazily at her. “Like, you know what I mean. But you really should talk to Velma.”
“I can’t. It’ll make things all… awkward.” Daphne huffed, going back to stabbing at her own omelet indecisively.
“Or, it’ll make things all awesome.” Shaggy offered.
“I doubt it.”
The two sat in silence for a few minutes. Shaggy picked idly at the dampened bits of his cheap paper plate and Scooby, as if sensing unfinished food, came and laid his large head in Daphne’s lap. Daphne gave the Great Dane a scratch behind the ears before obligingly sliding her plate onto the floor; Shaggy always made more food than she could comfortably eat so late at night anyway, but Scooby was more than pleased to give her a hand. While the dog contentedly slurped up the last of the egg, Shaggy balled up his plate and tossed it towards the nearby trashcan. “Well, if you can’t talk to Velma, maybe you can talk to me? Like, just to get some stuff off your chest?” He asked finally.
Daphne’s mouth pulled to the side in indecision. “I don’t know…”
“Wait, like, I’ve got it!” Shaggy snapped his fingers, “Wait right here.”
Daphne watched, bemused, as Shaggy rose from the table and moved into the next room. Through some miracle or Fred’s haggling, they’d managed to bag a two room hotel suite on short notice when they’d rolled into town; one room contained two double beds and the door to the bathroom, while the other held the kitchenette and a small TV and couch. Even given the scant light spilling in from the kitchen area, Daphne couldn’t see what Shaggy was doing in the darkened bedroom, but she could hear a thud and a muffled curse when he walked into something he probably couldn’t see, either. A moment later, Shaggy reappeared, rubbing the side of his thigh and clutching something in his other hand. “Man, the dresser has sharp corners,” He whined, dropping down into the chair across from Daphne once more.
“What are you…”
Before Daphne could finish her sentence, Shaggy slipped a pair of familiar glasses onto his face. He blinked magnified brown eyes at her, pulling head back a bit as the world was thrown out of focus. “Shaggy, what…”
“Like, pretend I’m Velma!” Shaggy grinned.
“I’m not going to…”
“Wait, wait, wait,” Shaggy waved his hands at Daphne once more before clearing his throat and pitching his voice so high it cracked, “Like, jinkies.”
Daphne couldn’t help the laughter that bubbled up from her chest, clapping a hand over her mouth as she tried not to wake Fred or Velma and Shaggy smiled unabashedly from across the table. “You’re being ridiculous!” She managed to stem her giggles long enough to tell her friend, only to have them renewed at the sight he presented.
“Hey, it might help.” The man shrugged.
“What do you want me to say?” Daphne snapped without any real irritation, “Velma, I think you’re amazing? You’re the smartest person I’ve ever met and probably will ever meet?”
“That’s, like, a start,” Shaggy nodded, stopping the motion quickly when the world blurred around him.
Daphne sighed. “This is silly. I can’t just… I don’t know why you think I could just go up to Velma tell her I love her. Like that. That she’s indispensable and… brilliant and… beautiful and I wish she’d listen when I tell her that last part in particular.”
“I think you could because you’re, like, one of the bravest people I know. And that’s the sort of stuff Velma deserves to hear,” Shaggy squinted at Daphne from across the table.
“Okay, I can’t take you seriously while you’re wearing those,” Daphne huffed, dropping her head into her hands and staring at the smooth plastic tabletop instead, “We’ve been traveling around the country for months together, what if she just thinks… that I’m saying those things because we’ve been spending so much time close together, not because I really mean them?”
“I wouldn’t think that.”
Both Shaggy and Daphne started at the unexpected third voice coming from the bedroom doorway, Shaggy flinching so hard he fell off his chair and onto the floor. Scooby gave a startled bark and Daphne whirled around in her seat, spotting Velma in the doorway. “Velma! How long have you…”
“Since Shaggy came in, woke me up when he ran into the dresser, and stole my glasses,” Velma glanced from Daphne to Shaggy, who was still lying on the floor.
“Like, for a good cause…” Shaggy offered, pushing himself up onto his elbows while Scooby sat beside his head, wagging.
“Why didn’t you tell me she was standing here?” Daphne hissed back at him.
“I didn’t know! I can’t see a damn thing in these,” Shaggy waved his hand in front of his face.
“Then maybe you can give them back so I can talk to Daphne?” Velma crossed her arms, looking expectantly in Shaggy’s direction.
“Gladly,” Shaggy grunted as he picked himself up off the floor.
The glasses were folded and deposited back into Velma’s waiting hand. Velma donned them and blinked in the light as her vision readjusted, then she moved over to take Shaggy’s vacant seat at the table. Daphne did her best not to fiddle with the hem of her nightshirt, glancing up to briefly meet Velma’s eyes. “What, uh- what did you want to talk about?”
Velma opened her mouth, then closed it again, clearing her throat and looking pointedly at Shaggy. The man jumped, shaking his head. “Right, sorry, I’ll… like, go back to bed,” He pointed back towards the bedroom, shuffling awkwardly back into the darkness.
The girls were silent for a few moments, listening to the sound of blankets rustling, then the muffled sound of Fred’s voice, the slightly less muffled sound of Shaggy telling Fred to go back to sleep, and the sound of Fred prodding Shaggy for further information because he never knew when to leave well enough alone. Scooby, apparently abandoned, trotted up to Velma and took a seat beside her chair, leaning heavily against it. Velma sighed. “Maybe we could go for a walk, instead?” She offered, even as she patted Scooby on the head.
“Uh. Sure!” Daphne nodded quickly, rising from the table so fast the chair shrieked against the bare floor, “A walk. While we talk. Nothing… nerve-wracking about going for a walk while we have a chat about how awkward I just made everything…”
“Daphne, you didn’t make anything awkward,” Velma reached out to grab Daphne’s hand before she could back too far away from the table, “I believe what you said.”
Daphne blinked at Velma in the dim fluorescent light. “You do?”
Velma nodded, glancing away. “I just think maybe there are some things you should get to hear me say now.”
“You do?” Daphne repeated.
Velma nodded again. “Are… they good things?” Daphne asked after a moment, her voice low.
Velma laughed, raising her free hand to her face as if she could rub away the blush rising there. “Yes.”
“Oh.” Daphne sounded surprised. Maybe good-surprised, though. “Then… let’s go.”
The girls barely paused to slide on shoes before venturing out into the cool night air beyond the hotel door, and Daphne completely forgot her purse. Everything she needed right then was holding her hand, walking beside her in the night.