Angelic Paranoia

Paranoidangel's Fanfic

Press Gang

The Consequences of Saying No

Rating: PG
Beta: hhertzof
Pairings: Spike/Lynda, Sam/Kenny
Summary: The Norbridge High Valentine's Ball has got everyone at the Junior Gazette thinking of other things than the paper.
Notes: For lost_spook

Spike opened the door and surveyed the Junior Gazette newsroom. Everyone was busy typing or chatting as usual, but the person he was looking for was writing. Or more accurately, putting lines through sentences in someone else's article. From the looks of it she was crossing more out than she was leaving in. No one, not even Lynda, had noticed his arrival but that was about to change.

"I just happen to have two tickets to the Norbridge High Valentine's Ball here." He held them up and waved them around to make the point. Now he had everyone's attention he smiled. Lynda was the only person not looking at him but he knew she was listening. She always was.

As he continued, he sauntered through the newsroom toward her desk. "One lucky lady has the opportunity of a lifetime: spending the evening with me." Having reached Lynda's desk he slapped the tickets down on top of the article she was editing. "What do you say, boss?"

She looked up at him, but didn't put her pen down. "Spike, since you clearly don't know the meaning of the word 'no' I looked it up for you." She pulled an open dictionary across her desk, pushing the tickets away as she did so, and she read out, "'Used as a negative reply, expressing denial, refusal or disagreement'. There are other meanings, but this is the definition I'm going for. Now, do you understand that or would you like me to write it on your forehead?"

She held up her pen, pointed at him and he knew when he was beaten. For this round at least. He hadn't given up yet. He held his hands up and took a step back. "Don't worry, I'm sure I can find someone else to go with."

"Someone who actually wants to go out with you? Don't make me laugh." She went back to her work, happy at getting the last word.

Spike was going to prove her wrong, though. He turned and took a few steps closer to Tiddler's desk. A hammering noise from Colin's office made him pause and look in that direction, but only for a moment. "Hey, Tiddler. How would you like to go to the Valentine's Ball?"

"I can't," she said, looking up from her typewriter. "It's for sixth formers only." She sighed.

He didn't like to see Tiddler unhappy and he dropped into the empty seat beside her. "We'll just tell the teachers you're an honorary sixth former for the evening."

She shook her head. "I don't think they'll believe that."

"Hmm." He rubbed his chin, making an exaggerated thinking motion. "We'll have to sneak you in. Have you seen any hidden passages lately?"


"I can't believe you did that." Sam's voice rang out, as she followed Sarah into the newsroom. "How can you say no to a boy that gorgeous?"

"He just didn't seem very intelligent," Sarah protested, dropping her bag onto her desk. "He kept on saying 'less' when he should have been using 'fewer'."

Not caring about that, Sam waved a hand and leaned against the edge of the desk. "But he was flirting with you."

Sarah smiled and shook her head. "I knew you wouldn't understand." She sat down, ready to work.

But Sam hadn't finished the conversation, even though Sarah was right. "Then who are you going to take to the Valentine's Ball?"

Sarah shrugged. "It's not important, I don't have to go." She didn't quite sound like she believed it, though.

"Of course it's important," Sam protested. "It's the biggest event of the year. All right, the month," she amended, at Sarah's expression. "All the girls dress up in gorgeous dresses and the men wear suits..." She trailed off, staring into space, imagining it and thinking about how stunning she would look in a new dress. If only the shop would reduce its price.

"So who are you going with?" Sarah asked, bringing her back down to Earth.

"I'm keeping my options open."

Sarah smiled, knowing what that meant, but Sam refused to take the bait and headed over to the graphics room. Spike accosted her by the door.

"You want to go to the Valentine's Ball with me? With the two best looking people in the school you can't go wrong."

She turned to look at him and made a show of sizing him up. "I don't know if I'd say you were good looking, exactly..."

He leaned against the door frame. "Okay," he said, showing no desire to disagree with her the way he did with Lynda. "Do you want to come with me or not?"

"I've seen what Lynda did to your last girlfriend." She made a face, remembering Charlotte. She didn't think any girl who went out with Spike could win against Lynda. Although Sam could hold her own, she wasn't willing to try. Not for Spike. "I'll pass, thank you." She entered the graphics room and sat at her desk.

Spike shrugged. "Oh, well." He turned to go and found himself face to face with Kenny, who was clutching a clipboard and pencil.

"Why don't you just go on your own?" Kenny asked Spike.

"It's a Valentine's Ball, you're supposed to have a date. But don't worry, Kenny, I'll find a girl who'll go with me even if I have to ask the whole newsroom." He patted Kenny's shoulder and left, presumably to continue with his quest.

"Everyone knows how Lynda feels about Spike, even if she won't admit it," Kenny commented, stepping into the room. "I think he'll have trouble finding anyone to agree to go with him."

"So who are you going with?" Sam asked. She thought she knew the answer to that but wasn't sure. However, she still made sure to sound confident.

"I might not go at all. Lynda'll probably try and make me work all evening." He didn't sound too unhappy about the prospect, but Kenny was used to doing whatever Lynda told him to.

Still, Sam rolled her eyes. She was sure he had a backbone somewhere and she knew just the person to help him find it. "Why don't you go with me?" She said it lightly, as if she'd just come up with the idea.

He laughed. "That's a good one."

Sam tried not to look disappointed and guessed it worked, given that Kenny left, still laughing. She shut the door so she didn't have to hear it.



At Sarah's call he made a detour to her desk, sneaking a peek at Lynda as he went past. She pretended she hadn't just been doing the same thing.

"We could go to the Ball together if you like."

He hadn't considered Sarah. She was, well, Sarah. But now he sat in a chair opposite and appraised her. "You're not worried about what Lynda will do to you?"

Sarah shook her head. "She's my best friend."

Spike thought that would probably make it worse, but he didn't say so. He was still wondering what this was all about. He was pretty sure that Sarah had no interest in him. Not when she knew Lynda did, anyway. What with them being best friends and all.

She leaned closer. "Do you know Dave Collins?"

He thought about it. "Skinny boy, dark hair, smells like a chemistry experiment."

"That's the one." She frowned. "He doesn't smell that bad, does he?"

He shrugged. It wasn't that accurate a description, but neither was it that far off.

"Well, he doesn't know I exist, but I thought if I walk in on the arm of someone who gets noticed, perhaps he'll notice me."

"That's an awful lot of noticing."

"Will you do it?" She bit her lip.

He smiled. "For you, anything." He made sure to say it loud enough for Lynda to hear (she was probably trying to listen in anyway).

Sarah smiled and Spike whistled as he walked out of the newsroom, putting his sunglasses back on. He looked towards Colin's office at the sound of an electric drill, shook his head and carried on.


"Do you think she really meant it?"

"What?" Lynda was still staring at the door Spike had left by, as she absently twirled a pen in her hands.

Kenny wondered if she'd heard a word he said. "Sam. When she asked me to the Ball."

Finally, Lynda turned to him, and she frowned. "What?"

He sighed. He really should learn to leave Lynda alone after she'd had a argument with Spike. "Sam asked me to the Ball."

"Why would she do that?"

"That's what I was wondering."

She threw her pen down. "This Ball is messing with my paper. It's all anyone can talk about. We're supposed to be writing the news, not gossiping about who's taking who."

Kenny raised his eyebrows. He knew Lynda wasn't big on social occasions but she'd never snapped quite like this over any of them before.

Tiddler had come over and was in time to hear Lynda's complaint. "I hate all this talk of the Ball," she said, letting her article float onto Lynda's desk. "Why can't lower school go too?"

Despite having someone agree with her, Lynda was unsympathetic. "Spike did offer to sneak you in."

"He wasn't being serious. And I didn't think you were listening." She grinned and left.

Kenny grinned too, until Lynda saw and gave him a look. He put his head down, prepared to bury himself in work until she said, "Why don't you just ask Sam to the ball and we can all get back to work."

He opened his mouth to complain but the expression on her face made up his mind to do as she said. It generally made for an easier life. But when he stood up he found himself face to face with Sam. Who abruptly turned and went back to the graphics room, still holding the roughs she'd brought over.

"It's not that I don't want to go with you," he said, following her.

"Maybe I don't want to go with you any more." She sat down, slamming the roughs onto her desk. One of them unrolled and escaped onto the floor.

He decided to opt for the truth mostly because it wasn't as if he had anything else to go with. "Lynda only said that because I was wondering whether I did the right thing in turning you down. I'd probably have asked myself eventually."

She softened a little. "Not by the time the Ball started."

He smiled. "It's just as well you asked me, then."


It sounded like someone was screaming in Colin's office. It wouldn't be the first time, so Lynda didn't even bother looking up. If someone was trying to kill Colin they'd probably only get a couple of punches in before he passed out. Except that the scream was followed by Frazz flinging the door open. He emerged from the room at a run.

Now Lynda looked up and was amazed to see Frazz was being followed by a silver robot as tall as he was. Given the blond wig it was probably supposed to be a woman, but if so she was a menacing one, judging by the permanent grin.

"Everything's fine, no need to worry." Colin came out of his office smiling and holding a remote control. "Just having a bit of fun." He pressed a button and the robot woman came to a stop. He smiled and put an arm around her. "Nothing to see here."

Everyone returned to their work, either believing him or, more likely, wanting some deniability. Lynda shook her head. But a moment later, when she heard an "Ow!" from Colin, followed by a clatter she looked up again to see Colin rubbing his cheek with one hand and the robot woman in pieces beside him.

"Colin!" Her voice was all the complaint she needed to make.

He attempted a smile as he began picking up the pieces. "It's all under control." Although he dropped an arm as he hurried back into his office. "You haven't seen anything. What robot woman?" He vanished behind his closed office door, but the silence was broken by a clatter of robot parts falling to the ground.

Lynda was torn between not wanting to know, because with Colin sometimes it was better not to know, and wanting to know because he'd probably spent the Gazette profits on it. Not to mention the effect it'd had on Frazz. She sighed and put her pen down as everyone else went back to work again - or at least looked like they were working this time.

As she passed the main doors she spotted Frazz peeping in and looking scared. She ignored him. He should know better than to get involved in any of Colin's schemes. When she opened Colin's door he nearly fell out, his hands over his face. He quickly recovered his balance and changed his expression to one that suggested everything was fine. She'd seen that expression too often to believe it.

"What are you doing?" she asked, shutting the door behind her.

"It's the Ball. It was such a good deal and she'd be a cheap date." He waved vaguely at the pile of robot parts on the floor.

She couldn't imagine anyone wanting to be Colin's date, but never thought he'd stoop so low. Especially when he'd just talk his way into the Ball if he really wanted to go. For a moment she felt sorry for him. Until he said, "I've got another ninety nine of them. I'm sure there's a wig in here somewhere that looks like Spike's hair. I can do you a very good rate." He started rooting around in a box.

Lynda put her hands up. "I don't know want to know. Just keep control of them and don't dress any of them up like Gazette staff." She left him to it. Spike would never shut up about a robot version of himself, and worse, Colin might give him the idea of making a robot version of her.

When she returned to her desk, Kenny was back there and smiling now. Sam waved to him from behind the window in the graphics room. Hoping for some sanity Lynda looked round at Sarah, but she was sitting at her desk, staring into space. Lynda had to call her name twice before she looked round. "Where's that article you promised me?"

"Here." She picked it up off her typewriter and brought it over. "You know I'm not interested in Spike and I wouldn't go out with him even if he asked me. Which he won't because he's only interested in you."

"It looked a lot like Spike asked you. And you said yes." She gave Sarah a black look.

Sarah opened her mouth to reply, then changed her mind and scuttled back to the safety of her desk.

"Why didn't you just say yes to Spike?" Kenny asked, taking his life into his own hands.

"Because I can't let him win."

He conceded the point.

Lynda's black mood couldn't bring everyone else down, now they had their Valentine's Ball dates, but it could restore the newsroom to some semblance of order and have everyone working on a newspaper instead of their social lives. Which was how Lynda liked it.