Disclaimer: Again, I find myself lacking the words needed to convey my thoughts. I suppose I shall have to let what I wrote speak for itself.
Let Sleeping Dogs
Freddie awoke early that morning to the sound of someone pounding on the door to his hotel room. With a yawn, he got out of bed and shrugged on one of the hotel's monogrammed bathrobes.
"Yes?" he asked, opening the door to find two imposing looking policemen on his doorstep.
"You Shaggy?" the left one demanded.
"My name is Sergeant Stearns. We need your help," the second cop replied. "You and your dog."
Freddie nodded, the tension going out of his shoulders after hearing that his friend wasn't in any trouble. "They should be down at the lobby right now, if not, there are only a couple other places they might be. I'll show you." Pausing only to grab his room key and slip on a pair of slippers, he slipped out of his room and led the two men towards the elevator.
"You gonna to ask what this is about?"
"Shag in any trouble?"
"Not even a bit," the Stearns replied.
"Then I don't need to know," Freddie replied. "Like to, but I'll understand if you can't tell me anything."
"Nothing like that," Stearns laughed. "Little girl, bout eight years old went camping with her parents at the state park. Parents swear up and down that she was with them when they all went to sleep last night."
"We're hoping she just got up to use the bathroom and got turned around or something," the other cop added.
"Prison has a team of hounds and a couple handlers they loan out for cases like this. Only problem is that it's two and a half hours drive from here and that's without adding all the time it'll take 'em to get ready."
"How'd you know about Shaggy and Scoob?"
"Cops talk. One of the troopers remembered hearing something about a dog handler working as a private detective."
"Need anymore help?"
"As much as we can get," Stearns agreed. "You'll have to drive yourself though, don't have much room in the patrol car."
"I'd have to get the girls up first anyway," Freddie stated. "Just-" he broke off when he saw his friend. "Hey, Shag, over here!"
"Like, what's up, Freddie" Shaggy asked, meandering over. "We got another case?"
"Little girl went missing, they're hoping you and Scoob can help find her.
The other man nodded. "No problem." He turned to the two officers. "Can you radio ahead? Tell them to find a dirty sock or a pair of underwear or anything that'll have her scent. Tell them not to let anyone touch it with their hands, tell 'em to use a plastic bag or something."
"Got it," Stearns agreed, nodding to the other cop who took off at a run to get back to their car. "Anything else you need?"
"That's all." Shaggy put a finger in his mouth and gave a shrill whistle. "Come on, Scoob, we gotta go!"
Velma hovered nervously as she watched her friend speak on the phone. This was it, they were finally going to get the answers to the questions that had plagued them since they'd seen the knots of scars under their friend's shirt
"Thanks, Daddy," the uncharacteristically somber girl said. "I love you too, bye."
"What did you find out?" Velma asked.
"It's-" The redhead worked her jaw, trying to force out the words.
A loud knock on the door caused both girls to jump. "It's Frieddie, we've got an emergency."
"We'll talk after we find out who's at the door," Daphne promised, shoulders sagging in relief as she rushed towards the door.
"Fine," Velma sighed, following after her friend.
Daphne threw open the door to find Freddie looking more disheveled than she'd ever seen him. Shirt buttons were in the wrong holes, his normally perfectly groomed hair was a mess of tangles, and to cap things off, his ever present ascot was untied.
"Missing kid," Freddie said. "Shaggy and Scoob've already left with the police. I said we'd be right behind them."
"Come on, Daph," Velma said. "Every second counts." Adding quietly as they fell into step behind the blond. "We'll talk in the van."
If Freddie thought it odd that the two girls decided to take the back, normally Shaggy and Scoobie's preferred spot, he didn't say a word, seemingly content to focus on the road and ignore everything going on behind him.
"Well?" Velma whispered.
"I got it," Daphne whispered. "Daddy knows some people in Washington and he was able to have them look up some information on Shaggy."
"Out with it," the other girl demanded.
"I didn't get much," Daphne warned. "Just that he had a silver star, a distinguished service cross, and finished his tour a bit early after receiving his third purple heart. Daddy also said something about half the file being blacked out for some reason."
"Were you able to find out why he got all those medals?" Velma asked desperately.
"No, daddy wouldn't tell me. Just that . . . never mind." Daphne sighed.
"Just that what?"
"Just that he feels better about me being away from home with someone like Shaggy looking out for me and that he's ashamed of himself for not seeing what a fine young man he was before," Daphne admitted, cheeks reddening.
"Oh." Velma broke eye contact.
"What do we do now?"
"I think we need to talk to Shaggy about it," Velma replied.
"Do you think he'll tell us anything?" Daphne asked. "I mean, he keeps changing the subject every time we say anything."
"But now we know," Velma said plaintively. "He has to tell us."
"Daddy doesn't like to talk about what he did when he was a soldier," Daphne said softly. "Said it's nothing a proper young lady should have to worry about."
"My father won't talk about it either," Velma agreed with a sigh. "Just said that he spent most of the war counting canteens and the rest of it seeing things he'd rather not think about."
"So what do we do?"
"I don't know."
Shaggy noted three burly sheriff's deputies standing watch around a folding camp table when they arrived. It was a puzzle. They were the only ones in sight not rushing around burning nervous energy with wasted movement. He supposed that it was too much to hope for that they hadn't muddled up his sent trails.
"Shouldda said something about that," he muttered to his partner.
"We'll remember it if there's a next time. Just hope . . ." he trailed off.
"Rah, ree roo."
"What's that?" Stearns asked.
"Scent trails," Shaggy replied. "I'm hoping everyone running around didn't screw things up. I can try to pick them up around the outside of the site but it'll take time."
"And every second counts!" Stearns cursed.
"My fault," Shaggy sighed. "Didn't even think to mention it. Guess I figured it was too obvious."
They pulled to a stop beside the table with the deputies and stepped out of the car.
"You the handler?" one of the deputies asked, regarding Shaggy with a look that hinted at disapproval.
"Yup," Shaggy agreed. "Why?"
"You sure you know what you're doing?" the deputy persisted, eyes flicking over his disheveled appearance.
"I am," Stearns said firmly.
"Been a while since we had to do something like this," Shaggy admitted. "Never done anything exactly like this, really, but I figure it's gotta be easier without anyone shooting at us or having to keep an eye out for booby traps."
The deputy relaxed a hair. "Who were you with?"
Shaggy sighed. "Fifty Eighth Infantry Platoon Scout Dog. Normally just say puking chickens if someone asks." That or pretend not to know what they were talking about.
"Medic with the Twenty Fifth," the deputy replied. "Sorry about earlier."
"Like, no problem. You able to find a sock or anything?"
"Pair she wore yesterday plus everything else she wore," the deputy replied, motioning towards the table. "Sheriff told us to sit on everything till you got here and not to let anyone near it no matter what we had to do to stop them."
"Great!" Shaggy perked up, one piece of good news. "It separate or is it all together?"
"Separate bags. We used rubber gloves to handle them, just like your message said."
Shaggy carefully selected one of the socks and opened the bag for his partner to get a sniff. "Good enough for you, old pal?"
"Rah. Ret's ro."
True to Shaggy's worry, the immediate area around the family's tent was so muddled that they couldn't pick anything out of the clutter so, with the former medic and a pair of troopers in tow, they started circling the site in an expanding spiral until suddenly Scooby froze.
"Rot romething," the dog announced. "Rover rere."
"Lead the way, pal," Shaggy said.
They lost the scent trail twice and had to waste precious minutes picking it back up before Scooby came to a sudden halt.
"Lose it again?" Shaggy asked.
"Ro, rin ruh roosh." Scooby's back was stiff as a board as he incicated the bush his was talking about with his nose. "Rink ruh rirl's rin ruh rog. Rai ran rear rer."
"What log?" Shaggy asked, squinting into the gloom.
"Ret rown, ru'll ree."
Shaggy got on his belly and quickly saw what his partner was talking about. It had been an old tree, almost too wide to put his arms around, before it had been toppled in some past storm. His heart was beating violently as he edged closer, both terrified and hopeful at what he might find inside. A pair of frightened eyes stared back at him.
An hour of driving got them to the camp site. It took Freddie a few more minutes to find a place to park, the whole area was clogged with vehicles, both emergency and privately owned and the rest of the place was swarming with uniformed men and volunteers.
They got out of the van and were immediately waved over by a state trooper.
"You Shaggy's friends?" the man asked.
"Yeah," Freddie replied and immediately found his hand seized in a firm grip.
"Search is off, they found her!" the man said with a wide grin as he gave Freddie an enthusiastic handshake. "Kid's back with her parents and they're all on their way to the city hospital to get her checked."
"She had to use the bathroom and didn't want to wake up one of her parents because she's a big girl now and can go by herself," the trooper said with a grin. "Got lost, got cold, climbed into a hollow log to keep warm, and fell asleep. Took your friend about ten minutes to find her, dog led us right to her."
"That's great news!" Freddie said with a grin.
"She isn't hurt is she?" Daphne asked.
"Nothing more than a couple scratches and bruises. Her mom said she probably had half of them on her before she went out last night."
"That's a relief," Velma said. "Where's Shaggy?"
"You want to see your friend, you're going to have to fight your way through a hundred men wanting to shake his hand and give him a slap on the back." The trooper laughed. "Least double that in women who want to give him a kiss on the cheek. Just about every police officer, sheriff's deputy, state trooper, fire fighter, church group, and god knows what else within ten miles came here to help with the search. Never seen so many people so happy to be told that they came for nothing."
"Guess we can wait till he gets back to the hotel to congratulate him ourselves, eh' gang?" Freddie asked.
"Yeah," Velma agreed. Thinking about all the things they'd have to get ready to properly congratulate their friend. Hopefully there was enough time to find a good restaurant nearby.
"You'll tell him we were here for him, right?" Daphne asked.
"I will," the trooper promised.
"Why don't you girls take the front on the way back," Freddie suggested casually. "Bit odd to have you in the back on the way here, and there's a couple things I want to talk about on the drive in."
"Okay, Freddie," Daphne agreed.
They got in, taking their customary places this time, and set off down the road.
"You know," Freddie said conversationally. "I once asked my father what he did in the war, you know what he told me?" he continued without waiting for a response. "He told me that he was one of the lucky ones, that he was assigned to Washington and that he went home and slept in his own bed each night and that there was never any danger of anyone taking a shot at him. You know what else he told me?" He continued without waiting for an answer. "Not to ever ask that question of anyone else ever again cause not everyone was as lucky as he was. Said they'd talk about it if they wanted to and that I'd better listen if they did but that I should never ever push them. Not sure why that story popped into my head."
He focused on the road for a few minutes, trying to collect his thoughts.
"I've shared hotel rooms with Shag and Scoob for a long time," Freddie continued. "First time I ever saw scars that look like his was on one of my uncles at the pool. I asked him how he got them and he told me that they were souvenirs from a trip he'd taken around Italy. He called them his zippers, used to compare them to another uncle who had what he used to call extra ass-" Freddie swallowed. "Extra assholes, if you'll pardon the language. Used to see them on older guys sometimes, either at the pool or in gym locker rooms. Wasn't till I was in junior high that I learned what they were. You saw what Shag has under his shirt. You girls wanna know how I think he got them?"
Velma and Daphne made eye contact for a moment. "H-how?"
"From a bike accident, just like he said. He's our friend. That's all that matters so if he says he got his scars in a bike accident, that's what happened unless he decides differently. Got it?"
"Got it, Freddie," the girls sighed, both of the feeling as if an enormous weight had been taken off their soul.
"You're right" Velma agreed.
"Shaggy's our friend. Nothing else matters," Daphne finished.
AN: Have most of another part to this written from which I stole a few scenes for this one. Don't think that I'm going to post it as an independent story. You'll likely see it posted to the 'Meh' file when I get around to finishing it.
Ideas for the ending by dogbertcarroll and Wolfman AKA Cal.
Series name by tarkas1956
Word suggestion by bunchofrocks who supplied the one I couldn't think of.
More help by TW.
Omake: Deleted Scene
"Hi," he said with a smile. "My name's Shaggy, what's yours?"
"Momma said not to talk to strangers," the little girl replied, pushing herself further into the darkness.
"I'm not a stranger, I'm with the police," Shaggy said.
"If you're a policeman, where's your gun?" the girl demanded.
"I'm with them, I'm not one of them," Shaggy explained. "If you scoot out a little bit, you'll be able to see three of them standing behind me."
The little girl checked and turned her attention back to him. "Is that your dog?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Looking for you," Shaggy said.