Author's Note: This story is anachronistic/AU, set a little while after the paper goes commercial but featuring the entire main cast. Spike and Lynda are on one of their "breaks". I tried to massage the canon timelines but nothing was really working for me and I couldn't squeeze it in while they were still at school. As a purist, this has really bothered me but I can't think of a way around it yet! Basically all it means is that the main cast are all together when they shouldn't be.
Fun Fact: the questions featured in the trivia night were all real ones I included in a trivia night I helped run in 2009. The tie-breaker round is also real, but was used for bonus points instead of a tie-breaker.
Kenny and Spike were in the Junior Gazette's meeting room, hunched over papers and folders and files spread out over the table. The casual observer would deduce this was Serious Business. As far as the casual observer knew, Spike was getting a warm-up reprimand from Kenny while Lynda was engaged in meetings at the Gazette office with Matt Kerr. The casual observer might even feel sympathy for the beleaguered Spike as it looked like even the mild-mannered Kenny wasn't pulling any punches and Lynda could only take it further from there.
"Now, Spike," said Kenny, sternly. "This will be a tough one for you to answer. I want you to think long and hard about it before just rattling off some flippant response."
"Gotcha," replied Spike, solemnly.
"This is serious."
"You can't just go on putting all your energy into music and films, you know. Am I making myself clear?"
"Alright," Kenny paused for effect. "In what year did King Edward VIII abdicate from the throne?"
"Aw, come on!" Spike whined.
"Uhhh . . . 1936."
"Was that a guess?"
"What, I gotta show my sums? Is it right or not?"
"1936 is . . . correct!"
"Yes!" Spike punched the air. "Okay, my turn." He flipped through the quiz book. "Oh, man, this one is easy. How many balls on the table in a game of eight-ball?"
Kenny rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Is this a trick question?"
"Obviously you didn't spend your formative years in bars and pool halls," Spike said, sarcastically.
"More like churches and Scout halls," replied Kenny, cheerfully. "I don't know. Fourteen?"
"Sweet sixteen. Including the cue ball," Spike mimed playing a shot with his pencil and a balled up piece of paper. "Seven ball, corner pocket. Bam!"
"Apropos to nothing," Kenny said, neatly catching the paper ball, "Do you really think she won't find out?"
"Apro-to what? Nah. How could she possibly know? I threatened everyone personally!"
"And we're not scared of her, are we?" Kenny asked, grinning.
"Pfft!" Spike snorted. "Hardly."
The door opened suddenly and both boys all but dived under the table, only to relax when a small blonde figure poked her head into the room.
"Tiddler! Don't they teach knocking in the lower forms anymore?" Kenny asked, once composed.
"Of course," replied Tiddler, leaning against the doorframe. "I failed though."
"Whaddya want, kiddo?" Spike asked.
"Cash. You're the only one who hasn't paid yet. Can I get your five quid for the – what?" Tiddler broke off. Kenny and Spike were making faces and "cut-it!" gestures. "What is it?"
Spike made discreet devil horns with his fingers and Tiddler's eyes widened in horror as she turned around slowly.
"Five quid for what?" Lynda was standing behind her, looking interested. "No, don't tell me . . ."
"That was the idea," muttered Kenny, glaring as much as Kenny could glare at Tiddler.
" . . . they finally announced a stupidity tax. Shall I arrange for Colin to do a weekly direct debit out of your pay, Spike?"
Spike smiled. "Actually, it's for priority access to the bathroom. Seems reasonable."
"I'll – um – catch up with you later, Spike," Tiddler said, hoping to sidle away undetected.
"Aren't you meant to be in with Kerr?" Kenny asked Lynda, trying to create a diversion. "For the next three hours?"
"Breaking news at the courthouse. Chrissie wasn't around so he dropped me. I came over to tell Sarah to get down there and see if we can't get an angle."
"Right, right," Kenny nodded. "That's the Milligan case, isn't it?" he asked, hoping the subject was changed.
"Yeah. Is there a collection going around? I haven't paid anything," Lynda continued with the original line of questioning.
"No, no," said Tiddler, breezily. "It's nothing. Don't worry about it."
"Nothing," Lynda nodded. "So that bright yellow piece of paper you just stuffed down the back of your trousers is presumably to do with nothing?"
"Hey, I've been tellin' ya since the start, Boss – the toilet paper in the john is terrible!" Spike joked.
"Take it up with Colin, he sources the sundries," replied Lynda. "He gets a good price."
"Yeah. He gets a good price because he buys three ply roll and then picks it apart to make it last twice as long," Spike replied, dryly.
"Well, you're welcome to bring in your own supply," retorted Lynda. "I didn't realise you were so . . . sensitive."
Tiddler had been inching away during this exchange, hoping Spike would distract Lynda long enough for her to make an escape. Lynda made as if to go into the meeting room to continue the battle but feinted left suddenly, snatching the paper out of Tiddler's waistband and smoothing out the creases to read.
"'Norbridge Community College Trivia Night'?" Lynda looked up from the flyer, puzzled. "What's the big secret?"
Tiddler cast an agonised glance at Spike and Kenny. She muttered, "Sorry guys. You're on your own," and bolted.
Lynda was still looking confused. "Why all the mystery? It's just a trivia night. Are we getting a table together?"
"Oh, err, you know, we were thinking about it, but we couldn't get enough people interested," replied Kenny, vaguely.
Lynda turned the page over. On the back were two hand-drawn columns with a list of names and PAID next to all but Spike.
"Let's see. We've got Spike, Kenny, Tiddler, Frazz . . . Frazz?" She looked up incredulously. Kenny shrugged helplessly. ". . . Julie, Colin, Kate and Sarah." She turned the page back over. " 'Tables of eight', it says."
Kenny and Spike exchanged glances.
"We didn't think you'd be interested," Spike finally said, lamely.
"Why not? I love trivia nights. Kenny, you know that!"
Kenny looked uncomfortable. "It's just that . . . after the last one up at the school . . . I thought . . ."
"That was different," Lynda said, immediately. "That was an example of gross misconduct on behalf of the frankly useless organisers. I mean, honestly."
"Lynda . . ."
"You were allowed to protest!"
"That's true," Kenny said to Spike. "Although the preferred method of lodging a protest was to pay 50p and plead your case to the judges. Not overturning a table and throwing chairs across the room."
"Don't exaggerate," said Lynda, crisply. "It was only one chair."
Spike chuckled. "Only you could turn a trivia night into a contact sport, Boss."
"And the judges! Honestly, where did they pull their questions from? That one about the Soviet Union, do you remember?"
"How could I forget?" Kenny replied wryly. "Especially when you left and returned with the S volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica – which is one of the larger volumes in the series - and slammed it down in front of poor old Miss Halloway. She jumped every time someone dropped a book near her after that."
"Miss Halloway? Didn't she work in the library?" Spike asked.
Kenny nodded. "You can see how that would have been somewhat of a occupational hazard. Then, when the poor old dear couldn't locate the bit Lynda was frothing at . . ."
Lynda rolled her eyes.
". . . Lynda tore out the page and drew a big ring around it."
"I bought them a new one. They ought to have been grateful! The old one was wrecked, anyway."
"Especially after you skewered the page to the book with her pen."
Lynda shrugged. "That was a long time ago. Move on, can't you?"
"Miss Halloway had to move on," Kenny continued to Spike. "To the Rest Home for the Permanently Traumatised, if I'm not mistaken."
"I've heard of that place," Spike smirked. "They got a whole Lynda Day ward there, right? I've considered becoming an outpatient."
"Don't be ridiculous, she moved to Sherrington. And you're making me in-patient, right now," Lynda said dryly.
"A joke! Call the Rest Home!" Spike clutched his chest dramatically.
"Do shut up, Spike. Anyway, can I be on the team?" Lynda asked Kenny. "Go on, I'd be a good addition."
"We've already got eight people," Kenny pointed out.
"Oh, right," Lynda scanned the names briefly and then nodded. "Err, fair enough. Let me know if there's a vacancy – I don't mind being a fill-in." She dropped the poster on the table and headed out of the meeting room.
Kenny and Spike looked at each ruefully.
"Do you want to take bets on this?" Spike asked.
"I don't think I'd have enough time to figure out the odds," Kenny replied.
"Go on. How long do you give her?"
Kenny looked at his watch. "Let's see, it's quarter past twelve now. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six . . ."
"Hi, Kate," replied Kenny, without looking around. "Let me guess, pulling out of the trivia night?"
"Ermm, really sorry," she muttered. "I've got to errmm . . . "
"Never mind," Kenny sighed. "We've got a reserve."
Shortly after, Lynda reappeared at the door.
"Did Kate tell you? She's had to pull out of the trivia night."
"She did," replied Kenny. "How did you do it – Chinese burn? Threaten her dog? Dock her pay? It was swift, I'll give you that. Even for you."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Lynda replied huffily. "You should be grateful I'm happy to step in at short notice. Now, let's talk strategy!"