Title: For Mature Audiences (4/4)
Email: Takes place prior to X-Men #10-11
Feedback: Certainly. I'm dealing with a part of the X-universe that I'm not entirely familiar with.
Summary: Storm isn't happy when she finds herself the prisoner of Mojo, and the star of his most daring television program yet. Neither is her costar - Spiral. A response to the Storm challenge at the xmenfemslash Yahoogroup.
"Storm! Baby doll! Sweet cakes!" Mojo cried out. "Come on, you know you're my favorite actress, the one I can't live without!"
"That's what I'm counting on," Storm growled as she smashed Major Domo's head into the panel once more. He passed out, unconscious, leaving Storm alone with Mojo - and the portal back home. "When the masses finally figure out that they're never going to get new episodes of Moonlightning, your ratings are going to plunge through the floor. You shouldn't tease your audience if you can't deliver!"
"Come on," Mojo wheedled. "I've already got a new project lined up for you!"
"It's your costar, right? Spiral can be a handful - six even! I'll get you another X-Man. Wouldn't you like that? I was thinking of a show for Colossus - Remington Steel! You'd get top billing, of course . . ."
"Sorry," Storm said. "There's more to life than television, Mojo."
"What kind of actress are you?" he asked, shocked.
"I'm not an actress! I am an X-Man!" Storm shot back, and she brought her arm down.
Another lightning bolt struck the roof of Mojo's fortress, smashing a hole in the ceiling above them. Rain started pouring in.
"Time for you to 'jump the whale', Mojo," Storm said witheringly before running for the portal.
There was a crack, and Storm vanished. Leaving Mojo there, with water dripping on his head.
"What the fuck was that all about?"
Slowly he turned around. Spiral was standing there, rubbing the back of her head. Her other arms hung limply. "Excuse me? What did you do!"
"How should I know? In case your cameras didn't catch it, she brained me over the head with something! Probably one of those stupid manual typewriters - and try not to talk so loudly."
Mojo slithered toward her so that he soared over her. She looked upward, wincing as she did so.
"Spiral, my top-rated program just lost half its cast," he said. "I'll have to - cancel it!" he sobbed. "And it looks like YOU'RE at the heart of it all."
"Um, you did say I'd survive the cancellation, right?"
One of his big hands wrapped itself around her chest. "I'd worry about surviving the cliffhanger, Spiral!"
It was Cyclops who suggested that they go to Mojoverse in force. "If Spiral still has some kind of control over your powers," he reasoned, "then we need to find a way to undo it. Otherwise she could come waltzing into a tense situation, and suddenly you're powerless again. Maybe even back on the big screen, capering about for the Spineless Ones' pleasure."
Storm's first, irrational response was to say that what she'd done as an actress was a good deal more difficult and respectable than "capering". She shook her head instead. Another few days in the real flesh-and-blood world and she'd be back to her old self. "If she comes back, I'll handle it," she said only.
"Still," Professor Xavier suggested as he wheeled up from behind, "you may wish to remain at the mansion for a week or so. Mojo wouldn't dare to send Spiral in here unless he was desperate enough."
"He'll get desperate enough when the audience demands more episodes," Scott pointed out.
"And when he does, we'll be ready for Spiral," Xavier replied.
Storm just wanted to get away from the discussion. She wanted to get away from the NAME.
"I knew you were alive," Jean told her a few minutes later. "I just didn't believe it. I should have. I heard your voice. I should have fought for it more . . ." She looked away. Xavier looked pained across the room. Whether it was because of some debate while she was gone as to Jean's suspicions, or because she "sensed" Storm but Xavier didn't, she couldn't say. She wasn't a telepath.
Dazzler took her aside when Storm tried to slip out. She knew how much they'd grieved for her - she'd missed them equally - but this was becoming stifling. "You're the reason Mojo sent us home, aren't you," she said. It wasn't a question.
"I - tried to stop certain practices going on there," Storm admitted. "He used you to buy my compliance. People died because of that, and I'd rather Longshot didn't know."
"He can guess, same as me, Ororo," Dazzler said, "and we don't blame you. Trying to make things right in Mojoverse is like trying to walk through molasses. You never seem to get anywhere. No failed rebel leader is going to judge you, Storm." She looked around. "And if you want to be alone, you go right ahead. You were never alone over THERE."
"No, never," Storm said. She thought of undulating arms and fled.
Storm turned her head and paused. She supposed the Professor wanted her at the mansion still, but it had been over a week since her return. Mojo had either found something new for his Spineless Ones to watch - or he was holed up in his fortress, wary of pitchforks and torches. "Yes?"
"Care to enjoy a matinee?" the small man said outside the movie theater. "It's free today for a lady such as yourself."
She smiled in spite of herself. "I'm flattered."
"Anything for the star of Moonlightning."
Her smile vanished. Think of the Devil, and . . . "I'm not going in there," she said coldly.
Before she knew it, she was in a darkened room and her head was reeling.
"I apologize, Miss Storm," the man said, "but my name is Meek, and Mojo will have my guild card if I don't relay the message. I had to teleport you in here - a very short distance, your headache should disappear quickly."
Storm slowly looked around and discovered she was in fact inside what appeared to be a movie theater. "What's the message?" she asked.
Meek pointed a complicated-looking device at the big screen, and an image appeared on it. It was Mojo, in all his fat, yellow, diseased-looking glory. "Stormy, baby!" he crowed.
"Go away, Mojo," she said.
"He cannot hear you," Meek said. "This is a recording. Mojo loves any opportunity to be in front of a camera."
"He wouldn't if HIS life was endangered by low ratings and exploding props," she muttered.
"You know, Storm, you did me a bad turn last week," Mojo said. "I realize contract renegotiations can be contentious and all, but you left me with very little in the can. The audience, they're - well, they're not happy. You're disappointing your fans!"
Storm was unmoved.
"Well," he said brightly, "I improvised. I filmed one more episode, and that bought me a few more days before the audience becomes emotional. Emotional in a bad way, that is. It was a humdinger of a show, though. The ending, though . . . I'm gambling with my network here. I went with a two-parter, BUT I need you for the second part. If the fans are left wondering how it ends, well, I quiver to think!"
"Why doesn't he get himself another actress?" Storm asked, exasperated.
"I think you underestimate your cult of personality," Meek said. "You may as well ask why he can't recast Spiral!"
"So she's all right," Storm said.
"I - wouldn't say that," Meek replied, taking the image off PAUSE.
"Anyway, I know you always admired your costar's work, Storm," Mojo continued, "so I have for you the final minute of the latest episode. Some of Spiral's best, I think. The realism just leaps off the screen!"
Mojo's face disappeared, and Storm almost had to rub her eyes to believe what she was seeing.
Spiral was spread-eagled on a table, her six arms tied down on either side so that she almost resembled a six-armed Vitruvian Man. She faced upwards, looking up at two half-moon blades, swinging back and forth in a curving arc. The blades were descending very slowly as well. The ceiling was high. Storm estimated the blades would begin slicing through her arms in six hours or so.
"You'll forgive the clichéd dungeon decor," Mojo's voice said off-camera. "But the villain is a very clichéd man. He kidnapped you to lure Devon in, and now he has you both. And if you don't get out of your cell in time, Devon is going to be - well, she'll have six fewer ways to annoy you, let's say. But you can't get out of your cell . . . if you're not ON THE SET!"
"I just want to say here that I'm impressed. You made him mad. Not many actors can do that," Meek murmured.
"Six hours," Mojo growled. "This episode is filmed in real time, if you like. If you're not saving Devon in six hours, 'Sandra' - "
"Turn it off," Storm said. "Mojo is a master at staging. This is staged."
"I hope you're right," Meek said.
"But you're not. I'll be here for the next six hours if you want to go back." He sat down and took a bucket of popcorn from the floor.
Storm stared at him. "He really thinks I'll return because I think SPIRAL is in danger?"
"It's only for one episode," he said, his mouth full of popcorn.
"Really," she said.
"Yes. The final episode." He waggled his eyebrows.
"So I suppose he expects me to swoop in, save Spiral, and then have sex with her?" Storm asked sardonically.
"Beats me. He doesn't let me see the script. Still, it WOULD be a great ending," Meek admitted. "I saw the kiss. I can't wait for actual sex. All those arms - "
Before he could go on imagining the last episode, Storm knocked him out. Then she went looking for a pay phone.
"Mojo, sir?" one of his minions said. "Storm has arrived."
"I am SO the man," Mojo sighed happily.
"She appears to have brought all of the X-Men with her."
"Best case scenario, Mojo's ratings fall so far that Mojoverse becomes Something-Else-verse," Hank murmured as he stitched up the cuts across her underarms. "Worst case, Mojo finds a way to keep the audience's eyes on him, but he's way too busy to worry about either of you, and you can avoid - " He coughed.
"Having sex in front of millions?" Storm asked dryly.
"Erm, yes," he said.
"I still can't believe those blades were real," Spiral said. "That would have really started to hurt after a while."
"Having your arms cut off goes well beyond 'hurting', Spiral," Storm replied.
"Well, I don't call it the 'Body Shoppe' for nothing."
"Yes, well, you'll have to settle for old-fashioned Earth medicine, Spiral," Beast told her. "Try not to go waving your swords around or casting complicated spells for a few days."
"Like teleporting?" Spiral asked.
"Don't worry, I've got space for you," Storm told her. "We'll be sharing my rooms. You're probably too much for any of the other X-Men to take. I wouldn't want to deal with any hysterical teammates because of an attack of annoying people."
"Annoying! Look, Ms. Stick-Up-Her-ASS - "
Beast quickly made himself scarce.
"Anyway," Storm added, "it's not too spacious. I'd like to disabuse you of this notion that I'm so claustrophobic I can barely function."
"Whatever," Spiral said. "Just wait until these arms are healed, and I'm out of here. There are plenty of people willing to pay for someone like me. I imagine you'd like me one hundred and one yards away as soon as possible?"
Storm just smiled slyly.
"What?" Spiral asked.
"Nothing. Just that we'll be sharing a bed." Storm chuckled.
Spiral stared at her.
Storm's smile slipped. "Do you know what I realized the other day, Spiral? I realized that I didn't ask you to cast a 'spell' on me because I wanted to enjoy that scene. I did it because I was afraid I would enjoy it on my own. Maybe I didn't save you just because I'm a nice girl. And I keep my emotions in check because of my powers. That doesn't mean I have a - stick up my ass."
"So, this sharing a bed . . . " Spiral said after a few moments.
Storm clasped her hands behind herself. "I guess I'm just looking for an excuse."
Spiral looked suddenly delighted. "You'll be gentle with me?" She raised her arms. "I'm injured."
"I had imagined such things could be done with six arms," Storm said. "For a minute there I thought you were more durable. I'm disappointed."
Spiral muttered a few words under her breath, snapped five fingers, and stomped her right foot. Her stitches popped out and clattered onto the floor. Her arms looked as good as new.
"Consider yourself reappointed," Spiral said.
Storm grabbed an arm and pulled her forward. "You talk too much."
Spiral knew what was coming. She remembered the script. And Storm was a professional.
Not to mention, as Storm's lips pressed against hers, damned good at her job.
Author's Note - This takes place during the events of X-Men #7-9 (2nd series). One important alteration - in the comics, Mojo allowed Dazzler to escape with Meek so she could unintentionally lure the X-Men into a trap. He did in fact cast them in his own production of The Wizard of Oz.
Also, a small confession. I've never watched Moonlighting. So if any fans out there are wondering why I didn't include more references to various characters or episodes, there you go.