So Close... and So Far

Part 1 - So Far Away


12:35 p.m.:

The tin like sound of the old girl rattled his brain as well as his body from time to time. She was old and getting older, with no sure sight of just how long she'd last. He hated not knowing, and he hated the dry wheezing pop of the muffler when something stuck under her hood. Getting her fixed was out of the question. They hadn't the finances or the parts meant for a classic lady. Lately jobs had been scarce and few, and those jobs they had taken left them with little more than the knowledge that there were some truly messed up people lying in the darkness. All in all, he knew it was a goner the moment she'd sputtered, coughed, and wheezed her way into Volkswagen heaven when he'd turned the key in an effort to make a trip he KNEW she wasn't meant for.

"You're still mourning over her, aren't you."

He said it more as a statement than anything. He nodded, quietly biting his lip when the slender hand of his friend gripped his shoulder. Silent comfort was all he could be given. She'd been through so much...

"She was a beauty...and now, she rests."

"Yeah...oh man...this sucks so bad."

"Yeah does. But it's for the best. You've had her since your parents co-signed on the 'junk on wheels', I think they said."

"Eight glorious years...I'm going to miss her...."

"Me too, too."

He held his head in proper mourning. Well, he tried. The sound snickers of the girls kept him from going to deep into this phase. He spun, lightly glaring at them trying desperately not to giggle but failing miserably. In the end, his face proved to be too much, and they cracked up and down on the floor.

"You girls have no respect!"

They laughed even harder at him. Bright blue eyes watered only by tears of laughter peered up at him before closing against an uncontrollable fit of giggles. "Please tell me you're not mourning the car," she wheezed. His solemn look only kept her holding her gut in hysterics. "Oh my god..."

"Give me a break here!"

"How about we give you a pill?" the other laughed. She wiped her eyes beneath those thick frames; snickering all the while she managed to get up off of her knees. "Honestly Fred, it's just a car!"

"It's a Classic Volkswagen! You can't find vehicles like this anymore...and she brought us everywhere..."

"Looks like she got sick of us--"


"And its not like you didn't get another one," she pointed out. She, too, managed to get to her feet, dusting off her latest outfit with light brushed of her manicured hands. She turned on those three inch heels and pointed, showcasing the new machine up and waiting for them to finally get in it. He pouted and started her giggling again. "You've had this one for a week now!"

"Hey, we don't say anything to you when you're mourning over the dryer that fried!" his best friend shot. "Have some respect!"

"Reah! Rome REPECT!"

She glared at the duo, hands placing themselves on her slender hips. "If I recall, I seem to remember you two trying to make s'mores with it."

"Hey, the commercial said it could do it! Besides...we were hungry!"


"And you had nothing better to do than test out that theory on a blow dryer that cost me seventy bucks?"

He snorted and turned his nose up at the very idea of spending that much on a blow dryer. A well earned meal, with four desserts, yeah. That? "Pfft. Like, you need to get your money back, pronto." His dog whole heartedly agreed, getting a bright laugh out of the dejected guy standing beside them. He smiled at bit at him, glad that he'd brought him out of his funk a bit. "Like, you shouldn't buy anything that says it can do something and it doesn't, like, deliver! Hey, speaking of deliver---"

Their resident genius cut him off before he could get started. "Uh-uh! We can stop on the way. Besides," she stated, pushing up her glasses little bit, "didn't you just eat an hour ago?"

"Yeah! But, like, that was an hour ago! Scoob and I are practically starving now!"

The Great Dane whimpered and threw himself on the floor. His owner would have joined him had she not pulled four snacks out of her pocket. They were gone and down their throats in seconds. Less if they hadn't thought to breathe. It brought them back to life and had Fred laughing at them again.

This is how it always was. Somehow Fred would be pouting about something, Daphne and Velma would mock him for it, and it would be Scooby and their resident Hippie, Shaggy, to bring him out of his funk. The girls would lighten up and the day would move on, usually with them looking for some work. It wasn't as if they didn't have other things to do, but their time was better spent on the road than settled someplace for long. They'd tried that once, and it didn't end well for any of them.

Taking one last look at the old girl, he patted her rusted grill ever so gently. It was about ten seconds from falling off, so anything harder would have made this worse. Her paint was chipping, her engine long gone, and her insides were old, tattered, and worn through. The faded words of her dubbed name were still there, but the "mystery" had become how she ran for so long. Not wanting to think about it or the memories residing there, he quickly moved on to their newest member of the family; a modified 2007 Volkswagen that didn't run on diesel. She sat pretty on the end of the drive way, revved up and ready to go toward wherever they would go. Her paint new, her insides flawless, and her engine a long ways from sputtering, she was in tip top shape.

But she wasn't quite home yet. place was actually home.

"We have to go, you guys!" Daphne called. She was already by the doors, tapping her watch restlessly when she saw the time. "We were supposed to be on the road fifteen minutes ago!"

"And WHY are we ALL going to see Dear Uncle Liam?" Shaggy groused tiredly. "'s not a ghost or anything else, is it?"

"No silly! I was invited to my cousin's wedding."


"As in, tuxedoes?" Fred murmured. "None of which we have?"

"And dresses?" Velma inquired irritably holding the bridge of her nose, "Which we also don't have?"

"Hey, I'm all for it if there's free eats!" Shaggy exclaimed. "Weddings are only second best to buffet tables..."

"Why'd do you say that?"

"At a buffet table, I don't have to worry about stains!"

She held her head a little more. Fred snickered, "You asked for that one."

Daphne cut them all off with a wave of her hand. "Don't worry about all that," she said. "All of that is taken care of. All we have to do is show up. Besides," she said flipping a bit of her long hair back, "We need a weekend to relax."

And they did. Honestly and truly they needed a break from all this. Driving from place to place and stumbling into god knows what have the time was giving Shaggy honest to god gray hairs. Why he wasn't white haired and paler than he was, was beyond Fred. Scooby was no better. The Great Dane jumped at the smallest thing these days. It could have been anything, and he would still run scrambling for a way out. Velma looked as if she could use several nights not thinking. The light bags under her eyes were more than noticeable when her glasses reflected the morning sun. Burning the midnight oil trying to figure out who did what was catching up to her. And Daphne?

"Come on! Let's get going already!"

She was refreshed and eager to go as ever. It only meant that she was tired of being the pretty face chased by perverts and those who wanted their services in the first place. Yet Daphne was Daphne. She couldn't go anywhere looking like anything less that Daphnesque, which in turn was part of the reason they were late now. Fred sighed and reluctantly nodded. A break would do them some good.

"You driving?"

Well, SOME. Once again he was behind the wheel, cranking the newly dubbed Mystery Machine up. Their bags lie in the back and upon the roof, Daphne in the center seat and Velma sitting on the far right end of the passenger seat. Her head fell against the window. He checked the rearview mirror and sighed again. Shaggy and Scooby were more than comfortable in the back seats, lying against one another to snore the whole way there. It was just he and Daphne as they pulled out of the driveway to leave Coolsville and head for open country.

At least until she pulled her headset out.

'Looks like it’s just me and you brain...' 

3:49 p.m.:

"I know sorries just wouldn't do it... 
Her heart is obliterated,  
I'm trying to travel through  
but it's like  
Moving Mountains..."

The smooth baritone voice singing a piece of pop's latest endless flow stirred him from his nap. From the moment he'd hit the cushions of a backseat that he never had, he'd been out like a light. Late nights and working odd end jobs were to blame, and the spiraling lights of late comers didn't help. For some reason, the youth of the town had gotten restless. Teens were coming and going at all hours, screaming their fool heads off in their intoxication and drunken dreams of a party too wild to remember properly. At the odd age of twenty-something or other, nights like that hadn't then and wouldn't ever pluck his interest.

However, the sweet sounds of a voice he hadn't heard in a long while made him crack open an eye.

The vehicle was still moving, steady and flawless in her motion. There were no bumps, cracks, that loud popping of something breaking, or that smell of fumes coming from the inside of the car. A part of him missed it, but the other part (his back) didn't quite care. He noticed the sun had gotten past the highest point and settled midway into the west. Now was as good a time as ever to be glad of circulated air. Before, he might have roasted alive without knowing. He reveled in it, and the sight of Scooby sitting happily between the girls. Well, laying over them. He snored softly as things went along, head buried in Velma's lap and being Daphne's cushion. The girls didn't budge. Daphne's headphones sat unused in her purse, and Velma muttered equations in her sleep.

He would have settled back into the realm of slumber, had he not thought about something.

' did I get up here?'

"But I keep climbing 
and hoping things will change; 
When the sky turns grey 
and the water from the rain 
washes progress away... 
It's like 
Moving Mountains..."

He stopped looking in the rearview mirror and gently moved his head to the left. Fred was sitting in his direct line of sight, mind on the road and lost in the song softly crooning through the Volkswagen. Near the very end of it, he aimlessly clicked something. He realized it was the CD player, and watched in interest as the thing spun and picked out a random song. The familiar pluck of a chord against the bass made him fully aware. It took him a moment, but he sat up and effortlessly leaned back in his hippie chic cool.

"Cause I've run a mile...In my head..."

Fred smiled quietly, turning onto the next patch of dirt leading them further out into the country. Like the turn, he didn't miss a beat of the song. "Didn't listen to...a thing that you said..."

"But it's the simple things....that make you smile..."

"....It's the simple things...that make you smile...."

Shaggy nodded. Simple things. Simple things like singing a song. Jeez, if he were anymore mellow, he'd be buzzed right about now. He slouched a little more and nudged Fred lightly with his green eyes. "Hey...did I sleepwalk into the front again?"


"Good. I'm tired of getting the backseat."

"Why don't you try hopping in the front from now on?"

He shook his head, almost leaning forward enough to place his head on the dashboard. His shaggy head of brown just barely covered the beginnings of his face, giving him that youthful uncaring look of rebel sitting back without a thought to share. His smile lit up the cabin, and Fred couldn't keep himself from smiling back. "Are you, like, serious man?" he laughed softly. "Daphne would beat the tar out of me...then you!"

"You could outrun her any day and you know it."

"Maybe...doesn't mean I want to. Too much effort," he said before Fred could call him on that open-ended response. He grinned in triumph, running a hand through his shoulder length locks. He'd decided a while back to let it grow out from that bowl like cut, and now it was a messy sheen of rugged hair old men would die for. One would swear--and Daphne often did--that he'd purposely gone out and done something to it. He hadn't. Didn't she wish she could do that. "She'd murder me for my hair, and my love of s'mores!"

".....did you honestly--?"

"Yeah man…and it was awesome! That'll teach her for not telling me about my stove..."

Now that was another story within itself. Fred laughed, reaching out to nudge Shaggy on one of his folded arms. "I told you not to let her cook!"

"Man, she's a chick! I thought she could!"

"Riiiight. Who are we talking about now??"

"Tch, whatever. I got my s'mores."

He laughed again. Shaggy kept a smile to himself and looked out the window. Fred didn't smile as much as he used to...and he didn't sing like he used to either. They didn't do much of anything they used to do anymore. The only thing they ever did that was the same was drive.

Where had they grown apart?

He lifted his head at the end of the song, and tried not to think about it. He knew where they had gone wrong, and it was partially his fault. The steady strum of another guitar singing away through the speakers, kept him from going down that road, and kept him from his best friend's worried gaze. His brooding always had Fred's attention, even if they were driving to who knew where.

"I know I've been mistaken... 
but just give me a break 
and see the changes that I've made..."


At least they had this; short conversations that ended with them singing. Short conversations with words littered between each verse, a calling that they knew and understood better than anyone. He could hear the unsaid question lingering in the air.

"I've got some imperfections... 
But how can you collect them all  
and throw them in my face?

Are you still mad about that?

He answered slowly and strongly, startling Fred with the power behind his voice. Shaggy never sung like this...not when he could help it.

"And you always find a way 
    To keep me right here waiting..."

Does it matter? I'm're here. It's enough.

It had to be. Otherwise...he might have given second thought to the whole getting buzzed thing.



5:53 p.m.:

By the time they finally pulled into their destination, the girls still hadn't stopped pestering Shaggy. He could sing when he wanted, and he didn't sing in fear of people pestering him like this. Fred kindly parked the car and turned off the engine, stalling long enough to see Shaggy flee the confines of the passenger seat. Velma, Daphne, and Scooby were out seconds later leaving him alone with the sudden face of an attendant perched on his side. He smiled sheepishly at the young man, scooting out of the car in time for it to be swarmed with a bunch of people he hadn't seen come or go. He should have been used to it by now. Every time they went to visit one of Daphne's relatives they wound up surrounded by help of all sorts. Butlers, Maids, Valet; you name it, that service was provided in some way, shape, or form. He snorted lightly to himself and quickly scooted out of the way of the rushing younger butlers. Another thing he'd learned is not to get in their way. They were on a mission and that mission was to place their things in rooms they wouldn't find until tonight.

It probably was a good thing it was going on six.

"Uncle Liam!"

"Daphne, my dear! Welcome, welcome! We've been expecting you!"

Fred ignored the sound of his car being parked somewhere else. Velma stopped tugging on Shaggy's arm, and Scooby stopped sniffing her out for those hidden snacks she kept. Fred parked himself on Shaggy's free side in time for 'Uncle Liam' to stand before them.

He was a man of fair build, muscular in his arms and tall. He was about an inch taller than Shaggy. However, his girth was one of a well fed man, jolly in and out of the home. Somehow the words "Santa" and "Presents" came to mind. They could see his belly move as he laughed kindly at their strange position. Sure enough, that twinkle of mirth they found in Daphne was in his own blue eyes, taking in the sight and amusement of them when Shaggy finally managed to trip over his own foot.  Fred reached out to right him, but slipped himself when Scooby tried to catch Shaggy himself. Down they went in a pile, and Fred was left to stare up as Shaggy moaned sideways. Scooby sat down, laughing sheepishly at them.

"Rorry Raggy...."

"Oh, goodness!" he rumbled deeply. A large hand covered his red beard; a subtle stroke keeping the laughter at bay. "Are you lads all right?"

A little dirt didn't kill anyone. Concrete did...and it smart. He sat up long before Fred, rubbing his aching elbows and wincing at the scrapes he'd gotten. 'Another set to add to the collection...'


"I'm fine Fred...nothing I can't handle."

"Nonsense my boy," Uncle Liam said. "Come now...we'll get this looked at and cleaned properly. No use in getting hurt before the party!"

Party?? What party??! The boys and Velma looked at Daphne shrugging at them. "I forgot," she said. "We usually throw a party the night before the wedding to loosen us up. Oh come on, it'll be fun!"

"Fun? I thought relaxing was fun," Shaggy muttered. He started to get up, only to have another set of hands lifting him faster. Fred stood as his support, pulling him to stand upright. But...

"Oh crap!"

"....damn...are you okay?!"

....somehow, his feet never failed to place him in awkward positions. Once again he was looking up, cheeks redder than ever, and completely aware of just how this looked. He had his arms locked around his shoulders, body folded into his own for support and with the added handicap of Fred's arms wrapped around his waist. That was DAPHNE'S thing, NOT his! She was supposed to be the helpless one here, clinging to him and hoping to God he wouldn't move because his foot hurt like hell. It would go away on its own, but damn it if he couldn't move it now! He didn't have much choice in the way this was going, especially when Fred somehow flipped him onto his back.


"Just sit tight."

"I can--"

"No you can't so shut up."

Shutting up was good. Burying his face somewhere where no one could see him was even better. He groaned pathetically into his hands and was carried off into the Estate everyone was too busy to awe over.



          ~~~~~~~~ Back to Scooby-Doo ~~~~~~~~ Part 2

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