Genre: Friendship. Romance.
Word Count: 1593
Pairings/Characters: Shaggy Rogers/Fred Jones, Daphne Blake, Velma Dinkley, Scooby Doo.
Synopsis: In which Shaggy is not used to having friends at all, let alone friends that care about something as silly as his birthday and things turn out surprisingly well.
Comments: Been in progress for a while, finally worked out the ending. Set between Mystery Begins and Curse of the Lake Monster, probably not too long after Mystery Begins, really. Has soe references to Pup Named Scooby Doo canon. Characters are not mine. Please enjoy! Comments are awesome.
"I got you a present."
The words are innocent enough, Shaggy thinks, they don't draw any strange glances from the gatherings of nearby students crowded around the lunch tables in the cafeteria, and Fred says them casually enough that at first they don't even really register as strange.
But they are.
Fred frowns, and he fumbles a little with the neatly wrapped package he's holding in his hands, "Today is your birthday, right?"
"Well, yeah," Shaggy answers, still sort of confused because he didn't think anyone would care to know when his birthday was. Birthdays aren't really a thing in his family. His parents are away so often that they're hardly ever home for any such celebrations and so Shaggy's pretty much forgotten about them in the scheme of things. Sure, there's usually something - this year had amounted to a text message from his mother, and some cash left on the kitchen counter with a post-it note from his father. Sometimes he forgets how birthdays work outside of his family, that there is typically some form of celebrating that doesn't entail not acknowledging them at all. No one can really blame him for that because he's never had friends to celebrate with before. "Oh," he says, as the realization hits him, that that's what's happening here, "you... you got me a present... for my birthday?"
Fred is still looking a little unnerved by how awkwardly this typically uncomplicated hand-off seems to be going. "Yeah, Shag. It, uh, it took me a little while to figure out what to get you, but I think you'll like it."
He takes the proffered gift and examines it with a sort of awed reverence. He already likes it, loves it, whatever it is, because it's the first gift he's ever received from someone not related to him.
"I know you have a pretty awesome comic collection going," Fred explains, having read more than a few already in the relatively short time they've all been friends. Shaggy's comic collection is impressive and by far the only thing that's really organized in the chaos of his room. They're alphabetized and in order by series continuity and in protective sleeves. He's got a nearly complete collection of Commander Cool and Mellow Mutt, with a couple of first editions and more than a few variant covers spread out over the lengthy run of the series. "I don't think you have this one, though."
Shaggy unwraps the present slowly, carefully, and the comic, sheathed in protective plastic, slides out and into his hands easily. He stares, doesn't really believe what he's seeing because he's holding a copy of the very rare Halloween issue of Commander Cool and Mellow Mutt and there are only like nineteen of these in existence?
Speechless is not something Shaggy usually is. He's generally more of a nervous rambling kind of guy but this actually has rendered him incapable of words. "Whoa," he manages, finally, after a long moment of awed staring (at Fred, not at the comic book (though it is awe inspiring, as well)), "Like, I don't even know how to begin to thank you for this."
Fred grins, laughs, claps him on the back, "I'm just glad you like it," he says. "Happy Birthday, man."
"No, really," Shaggy counters, but Daphne and Velma slide into seats across from them at what has become their usual table with happy birthday wishes of their own, and they, too, are bearing gifts.
Shaggy is finding this more than a little overwhelming.
Velma offers up a book, with an explanation of, "I know you said mystery novels weren't really your thing, but I believe you might take a liking to this one. It's the first in a series, and it stars a protagonist that solves mysteries by pure happenstance." At Shaggy's sort of blank look, she elaborates, "A guy who accidentally solves crimes, albeit rather comically."
"Ah," he grins, "like that sounds like my kind of story."
Daphne's gift is a leather jacket with a price tag he decides not to look at, "Not only will you look fantastic in it," she insists, "but it's got a bunch of secret pockets. You can totally hide all those snacks you're always getting caught sneaking into class with." Admittedly, he's not sure he would dare to get within ten feet of food while wearing it, the thing is so nice and expensive looking. Maybe only pre-packaged snacks, he compromises.
"Like, thanks guys," he says, "This stuff is so amazing, you didn't have to get me anything."
"Of course we did, Shag," Fred counters, slinging an arm over Shaggy's shoulders, "It's your birthday and we're friends."
Shaggy blushes a little bit at that, grateful he has friends at all, let alone such generous ones. "Thanks."
After school gets out, they all follow him back to his house and the four of them settle in, along with Scooby Doo, of course, for an awesome evening. They order from Shaggy's favorite take-out place, Daphne produces a delicious looking cake, and they watch a couple of Shaggy's favorite movies.
Daphne leaves first, with a hug goodbye and one last 'happy birthday,' before she heads out the door. Velma has to go not long after, as it's getting rather late and she has an extra credit assignment to finish before morning (not that she needs it), and then it's just Freddy left on the couch with him. The movie's over, it's been over for a while, but they've been talking and joking and telling stories so the lack of background noise had gone unnoticed.
Eventually, Fred has to leave, too. Shaggy follows him to the basement door, smiles at Fred's comment of, "I hope you had a good Birthday, Shag," because he definitely did, and accepts the hug that seems like it goes on a beat too long.
"Wait," he says, because for some reason he feels brave enough to do this right now. "Hey, uh," Shaggy stammers, forcing the words out and really, really hoping he isn't wrong about this. "There's gonna be a Commander Cool and Mellow Mutt movie coming out in a week or two. Would you wanna... I mean, you've read a few of them now and... wouldyouwannagowithme?" The question comes out all in one breath, barely decipherable, it's so fast and quiet.
Fred looks surprised by the request, still hovering half-in and half-out of the open doorway, but then confusion gives way to a smile."Sure. You wanna ask the girls, too?"
Shaggy's heart plummets from where it had taken up residence in his throat down to his stomach, where it sits like a heavy weight. Freddy didn't get what he was asking, or else he did and he's being nice about it. He should just give up right now, let it stand at that and be grateful he avoided embarrassing himself with this futile attempt.
No, he thinks, he's not wimping out on this. He needs to do this.
"I was hoping... That is..." He swallows around the nervous lump in his throat and forces the words out, "just you?"
"Oh." Realization seems to dawn in Freddy's eyes, "Oh, like a date?"
Shaggy only manages to nod, gaze focused intently on the floor.
There are a few seconds of frozen silence - feels like a few years to Shaggy - until he finally dares to look up. Fred's probably bolted away, he thinks, preparing himself for the worst. But Fred is still there, still smiling at him, "Okay," he agrees, as if it's just that simple.
And while that is very much the answer Shaggy wanted to hear, it is also very much not the answer he had been prepared for, "Huh?"
"Yes, I'll go on a date with you," Fred clarifies.
"Was I supposed to say 'no'?" Fred wonders, once again perplexed by Shaggy's odd behavior.
"No!" Shaggy quickly counters, "No, I just... I didn't think you'd want to, with me. I mean, there were times when I thought that you liked Daphne... And I'm not exactly-"
The kiss comes as a surprise. Fred cuts him off mid-sentence, and Shaggy distantly wonders when they ended up standing so close together, because there's almost no space left between them when Freddy moves in. It's quick, though, Fred pulls back just as swiftly, and even that makes for a pretty spectacular first kiss.
"I like you," Fred assures him. "I was going to ask you out, but I didn't want to mess things up. I wasn't sure if you'd be interested."
Shaggy can't stop the nervous laugh that bubbles out of him. "I am very interested," he manages.
Fred grins, and the second kiss proves to be much more impressive than the first. For one, Shaggy actually gets a chance to participate in it. And it might only be Shaggy's second kiss ever, but Freddy is definitely more experienced, bringing tongue and teeth into the mix as it drags on, his fingers moving to tangle into Shaggy's hair. Shaggy learns quickly, though, copying Fred's moves as best he can until they're finally forced to separate. They part with kiss-swollen lips, out of breath and grinning at each other.
"I have to get home," Fred reluctantly reminds him, "I can't be late."
Shaggy nods in understanding, it is quite late already after all. "Okay, I'll see you in the morning," he says, "Thanks for... everything." The comic, the kiss, the date. There's one last kiss goodbye before Fred takes off for home.
"Best Birthday ever," Shaggy decides.