Shades of Gray – by Darlin
A/N – Sorry for the delay but I went on vacation. I desperately needed the time off.
Fantasies were of no use to Ororo when she went to bed that night after her encounter with Logan that evening. Her ex-stalker, Logan, had made his threat then kissed her again so her body shook all over, released her and gone about his business. She'd been ashamed to look at the receptionist as she made a hasty exit; thankful she had her hair stuffed under her hat so she couldn't be recognized.
There wasn't going to be a show now. How could there be? She kept seeing Logan's face full of dark intensity. He wanted revenge. She was sure he was going to go through with it too. And of course he had every right. The story they were telling wasn't exactly accurate, so much more had been added to it to make it more exciting and entertaining than it really was. Compared to the show with its creepy encounters with the pseudo stalker she saw what had happened with the kid with the knobby knees and Logan were just stupid misunderstandings. How to tell Charles and Lilandra?
"You're looking tired. Goodness, Ororo you're going to need a lot of work today to get you looking up to par. Camera's off please. Whatever were you doing all night?"
"Tut, tut, you know better, Ororo. You're our meat and potatoes. You must take better care of yourself. Look at those bags under your eyes. Alison should be able to camouflage the raccoon look but we can't have too many close-ups today. Where is that girl? Someone find her. Charles always wants his head powdered immediately upon arrival. All right people take a coffee break. Ororo, you may take an hour for lunch today, you'll have a power nap, that should help some – let's hope."
The four men that formed the camera crew sauntered off into the back leaving Ororo alone with Lilandra.
"Lilandra, we have a problem."
"You're very observant this morning. What, did you stay up all night watching television? The X Woman marathon they ran ended before midnight so you had plenty of time to sleep. And what on earth did you eat last night? You'll have to watch those late night snacks, you know this, every pound looks like ten on film and fifteen on your derriere. Suck your tummy in, there's a good girl."
"Lilandra we're going to be sued." Ororo said as she unconciously obeyed Lilandra. "The stalker – Logan told me he's going to sue us."
"Logan? Who is Logan?"
"Logan the one who – the delivery man."
Lilandra looked blank.
"The real stalker."
"Ah, the real one – short, scruffy, sexy stalker?"
"The very one."
"Oh, you'll have to sleep with him then."
"I'm not sleeping with him, Lilandra."
"Certainly that's all he wants. You must seduce him."
"I don't think he wants sex."
"All men want sex."
Ororo shook her head remembering the searing kisses and the determined look on his face when he'd left her.
"Why else would he be stalking you if he didn't want sex?"
"That's another thing, Lilandra I don't think he meant to stalk me."
"Of course they don't set out to stalk anyone, probably don't mean to at all, they just become obsessed and can't help themselves although of course I've no idea what might go through a stalker's head having never stalked anyone myself."
"Lilandra, he doesn't want sex, he wants revenge!"
"Give him a little and you'll find revenge will fly out the window."
"It's either that or risk losing everything we've worked for. Do you want us to lose our business? Do you want to lose your job, your budding new career?"
"My budding new career as a reality star?" Ororo asked, incredulously.
"Well, it's certainly a step up from receptionist."
"Thanks a lot. You know I never wanted any of this, Lilandra. I was fine with being a simple receptionist. I shouldn't have let you talk me into doing the show."
"Regardless, you'll be broke. We'll be laughing stocks Charles and I."
"Maybe we deserve it."
"You're of no help whatsoever. Well, he'll have to prove his claims, I've documentation and I'm sure I can get video footage of his exploits. The day I let a short little disgruntled mutt get the better of me is the day I'm six feet under and unable to get my weekly pedicure. Fudge! I knew I shouldn't have listened to you, I'm going soft, I should have gone ahead with that restraining order. Call Matt straight away. If that little stalker wants a fight then I'll give him one he'll never forget!"
A fight was really the last thing on Logan's mind. Unlike his "nemesis" Ororo, Logan had no problems sleeping. He smiled while he dreamed. A beautiful woman with long legs, plump lips soft and welcoming was walking towards him. Ah, he sighed in his sleep. Ororo Munroe was more than beautiful, she was his. He didn't even mind when he heard the wedding march play while he stood, naked in all his hairy glory, besides a man of the cloth under a flowery arbor watching her come down the aisle.
He woke with a start. No ghosts this time, friendly or otherwise but something much worse. The guests, all with Charles and Lilandra's faces, were looking at him with stony disapproval. He ran his hands over his face. As usual when he woke up his first thought was of Ororo – would he see her, did he dare?
He'd accepted the driving job with his new company specifically because they delivered bulk items to warehouses, an entirely different clientele. It was harder work but kept him in shape, it paid a little more but he worked longer hours. Not quite a fair trade off when he wouldn't get to see Ororo but then it did keep him free of her and her friend's insanity plus incarceration as it curbed the desire to stalk and thus be assaulted which led to more jail time. He missed his old job, wished he could go back. He had a good idea how he could too. It was bold but things had changed. He had the upper hand now. He knew what he had to do.
It was crowded when he arrived at X Agency. He hadn't thought about them filming for the show but he went in anyway. Lights, cameras and people were everywhere but he saw Ororo immediately. She looked as sexy as usual and a smile crept onto his face, however just as quickly his smile faded as he noticed a large burly blond guy hovering over her way too close. He recognized him from the show. He looked around in disgust. All of these people were getting rich off of him.
"I said leave me alone!" Ororo shouted.
The stalker/model actually growled, "Look, bitch I asked you a question – are you going to sign this or not?"
Logan rolled his eyes. When had he ever treated her like that?
"Aiiee! It's the stalker!" Lilandra screamed.
"Where? Where is the brigand? Don't worry, Lilandra I'm here – you're safe with me!" Charles cried as he came running out of his office. He was rolling up his sleeves preparing to trounce the pretend stalker when his eyes caught sight of Logan standing by the door holding a bunch of flowers in one hand.
"Oh dear, oh dear! Lilandra, you didn't say it was the real stalker!" Charles squeaked out.
Lilandra quickly recovered while Charles slowly backed into his office, shaking his balled up fist at Logan as he retreated. She stepped in front of a camera and said,
"What Charles actually means is that this is the very first stalker we have had to deal with, you can see we're all terrified!"
The cameras kept rolling. The model/stalker saw they were improvising and stalked up to Logan grinning and ready to show off his acting skills.
"You better leave while the getting's good, runt."
Logan laughed and said, "Oh, that's cute."
Without a further word his left hand shot out so fast the model/stalker didn't have time to duck. A solid punch, it floored the taller man.
"Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" Ororo mumbled looking at the guy on the floor and then at Logan. She thought she could hear police sirens already.
"These are for you," Logan said, stepping over the man and holding out a small bouquet of yellow daisies. "Lunch?"
"You know, noon meal, eat, drink," he said and winked.
"You're asking me out?" she asked, surprised. Did he just wink at her or was that a nervous twitch?
"Oh no, no sir that will not do!" Lilandra said, "Ororo, you can not have luncheon with this stalker!"
"He's not a stalker, Lilandra!" Ororo replied.
"I don't care! You can not go off with this man! You will not go with him! How would it look? Think, Ororo! Wait a minute – oh, dear are we still filming? No, no turn the cameras off now!"
Lights died and the cameras were turned off as ordered but the crew stood around curiously watching this real life drama play out. Surprisingly it was Charles who came to her defense. He peeked out of his office and said,
"Lilandra, Ororo will have a camera crew with her, let her go, she'll be perfectly safe." And to Logan he said, "Do you need funds? Ororo write a check out to him will you?"
"A check?" Lilandra cried. "Don't write anything, Ororo! Charles what are you thinking?"
Her partner motioned her to come closer.
"Lilandra, we need him on our payroll. Look around you; he'll certainly discover what we're up to but he's unlikely to bite the hand that pays him," Charles whispered.
"Charles, that's perfectly brilliant! You clever, clever boy. Of course, why I didn't think of that – but no matter I've another idea that should work just as brilliantly! Listen, if we can get hold of all the videos here and at the bar across the way and at Ororo's apartment building though the quality may be questionable I think we'd be able to edit them so we could tell the real stalker story, sort of a flashback with all that happened which would be the perfect lead in for the episode we're filming. Since he barged in so rudely it makes sense, the fans will want to know who he is. We could air it as a special episode right before this one – how Ororo overcame her first horrid ordeal, kissed and made up with one of her very first stalkers! Think of the ratings, Charles! And with real footage that smoking gun website will look ridculous with it's claims about the validity of the show!"
"Brilliant my love, simply brilliant!" And to Logan – "Touch one hair of the fair Ororo and I shall thrash you within in an inch of your life sir! Your brigandage is over, do you hear me?" He cleared his throat and said, under his breath to Lilandra, "Perhaps a thousand for now will do?"
"A paltry sum for the revenue we'll make in return," Lilandra replied and smiling she almost skipped back out to Ororo.
"Look, I don't want your money," Logan said.
Lilandra and Charles' faces fell.
"All right, everyone please leave while we clear up this . . . um, little matter," Lilandra said. "And someone help Victor up."
"How much do you want?" Charles asked once the crew had dragged Victor the model/stalker into the back. He was still speaking from his office door however it was almost closed completely assuring his safety only his head could be seen, bald pate shining.
". . . Huh?"
"Come on," Ororo said. She tossed the daisies onto her desk and took him by the hand and led him out.
"Get the camera crew after her now!" Charles bellowed.
"Everyone after them now!" Lilandra shouted as she hurried into the back.
Now this was something new. Neither Ororo nor Logan spoke as they walked along the busy street. But when Ororo heard a shout she turned to look back. They were being followed.
"Come on!" she hissed as she grabbed hold of his hand again and sprinted off.
"What the hell?" Logan asked but he was being yanked along at a reckless speed. He dodged women, children, men, the elderly and dogs as Ororo pulled him on.
They were gasping for breath when they finally came to a stop thinking they'd lost them.
"This is crazy," Logan said.
"And they're probably filming every moment of this," Ororo said grabbing his hand again when she saw the crew gamely round the corner, lights and camera's clutched in their arms and hands as they dashed on in their attempt to catch up.
"Damn," Logan cursed. This wasn't exactly how he'd planned their first date. Annoyed he flagged a yellow cab and when one stopped he opened the door and nearly pushed her in.
"Wait!" Ororo shouted but he was already sliding in beside her forcing her to move over.
She had her hand on the door handle contemplating whether or not to slip out on the other side when the cab began to move, albeit slowly. Not good this, she thought, trapped with her would be stalker. She could jump from the car, maybe not get squashed by another yellow cab, she considered. Logan turned to her and stared.
"The people you work for are crazy," he said after a moment.
She nodded. There wasn't much use in disagreeing.
"So, I've been thinking," he said then paused.
She waited. He swallowed, ran the tip of his tongue over his lips.
"So, what time is it, Ororo?" he asked.
"Time, you got the time for a man like me?"
"Uh . . ." She glanced at her watch, slightly confused. "Eleven fifteen."
He grinned and said, "Early yet."
". . . O . . . kay." She was seriously going over her escape options.
"I figure we get married this'll be something we can tell our kids."
"Kids?" She had no time to say more, he had her in his arms, his lips soft but sure against hers. Intriguingly she didn't mind at all. They were both panting when they came to their senses.
"There is no 'we'," she said, though weakly moving away from him.
"Aw come on, woman!" Logan groaned. He looked completely flummoxed and Ororo had to laugh at him.
What the hell, she thought and said, "We're crazy you know."
"I'm not gonna dispute that, darlin'."
They were silent again as the drove along. She wondered where they were going. He'd only told the driver to go and fast. She didn't really care. As long as there was a witness what did it matter? She had to berate herself for the thought but still, stalker or not a stalker? Just what was he? And why did she feel so confused and yet so completely and stupidly attracted to him?
They got out not to long afterwards where he purchased two hotdogs from a nearby kiosk. He handed one to her,
"But I don't eat hotdogs," she said.
So much for lunch, he thought as the took a bite. He bought a bag of baked chips and a bottle of water which he then handed to her. She wasn't so sure she liked the way he was taking charge. He wolfed down the dogs as if he was starving and she studied him. He wasn't handsome as much as attractive. Far too short for her but he was built so well it made her think of all the fantasies she'd had about him. Just what was she doing?
When he was finished eating he held her hand too tight. He looked too intense. Something within her wanted to give herself up to him without questioning but this was too much too soon and she pulled her hand loose.
"I can't do this." She shook her head. "This is crazy."
"I'll give you that."
"I . . ." She shook her head again then gave a sigh of relief when a taxi pulled up and the camera crew spilled out.
"Don't I have to sign a release or something?" he asked.
"Sign right here," a young man who appeared to be in charge said as he held out several sheets of papers and a pen.
"You'll have to marry him. It solves all our problems that is if we can't get him to sign with the agency. If we can it doesn't matter but Matt says we must in order to avoid a nasty lawsuit. Marriage! Kids! Well, this stalker definitely has a plan," Lilandra finished, imagining bits and pieces of Ororo chopped up and placed neatly in little Tupperware containers in a freezer each piece labeled accordingly.
"I can't marry a perfect stranger, Lilandra."
"Oh, but is he that, dear? You've been cavorting around with him for nearly two months. Oh, that reminds me you must look at what we've been able to piece together with all the video footage we were able to find, it's a history of your romance."
"Well, a history of your ordeal with your stalker. It comes out amazingly biased towards him in a good way though. He looks affable and confused at all the proper moments. I think perhaps we may have made a mistake."
"Oh, you do, do you?"
He called before going to see her this time. Waiting for him she felt nervous and silly, like a teenage girl waiting to be asked to the prom. When he arrived at X Agency he was wearing blue jeans and a black T-shirt that showed off his well developed chest enough to make Ororo's heart skip a beat or two. Everyone was there – waiting.
"Where's Charles?" Lilandra asked.
"Oh, Charles isn't coming in today, he called and said he's ill," Ororo told her. "He wanted me to tell you if the 'brigand' – sorry," she said to Logan, "– comes in and starts anything to call him and he'll come as quickly as possible."
"Call him? Why calling 911 would be easier and certainly more successful."
"He, um, mentioned that. He said you should call 911 if he can't get here in time but really, Lilandra everything will be fine."
Lilandra rolled her eyes. She walked over to Ororo ignoring Logan and sat down on the receptionists desk.
"We'll have to get rid of the stalker theme now and phase Victor out," she said. "I've put a slightly different spin on the special episode we're planning to air. It rather clears up the question of whether your stalker's really a stalker or not. And for the record, you're not a stalker are you sir?"
Logan looked at her thoroughly exasperated.
"Did I mention my plan to sue you for every penny you have lady?"
"We'll file bankruptcy if you do and you'll get nothing besides if you are a stalker it will come out, my lawyer's running a background check on you now. Ororo, remind me we need his fingerprints by the end of the day. Now where was I, oh yes, you'll have to trounce Victor a few times, the audience loves violence and blood. This will solve the stalker problem and make the audience cheer for you, there are many shades of gray after all," she said giving him a sidelong glance still not quite sure he wasn't a stalker, he was certainly impudent enough to be one.
"Focus groups show that the viewers really like you, Ororo," she continued, "There are whole websites devoted to you, not so much the show, but we can actually use that to our advantage. Some people seem to think your breast are too large, they're divided as to whether you've had implants are not, you haven't have you dear? I thought not. Oh, and they love your derriere, the men especially. Half the women wish they had it as well as your lips – they especially love your lips, some say they're better than Angelina's and of course they are. No one's brought up botox yet. You haven't done that have – no, I was sure you hadn't.
"Now, it's the hair that gets the most discussion on the Internet. Apparently eighty percent like it though about ninety percent aren't sure what to make of it. Is it real, are they extensions? Some think you're quite old because of the hair and you've just had a lot of plastic surgery which is why you look so youthful, think Dianah Carroll, who by the way looks fabulous - I'm so envious, some think you're prematurely gray like Heloise. It's all quite fascinating. I've been thinking of a way to show whether it's real or not, what about a bikini wax dear? Imagine being waxed live on television! It would be fabulous and I'm sure we'd get suberb ratings for that episode. Is she or isn't she a true blonde?" Lilandra laughed.
"I'd watch that," Logan commented.
"You wish. No way am I doing that!"
"Darling's no squabbling now; you don't want me to call the police. Surely you've both had enough of that."
"You can say that again," Logan and Ororo murmured in unison.
They looked at each other. Both burst out laughing.
"Can't we lose these cameras for a minute?" he asked, looking around at all the staring faces around them.
"I'm under contract, so are you now," Ororo said.
"Signed sealed and delivered early this morning," Lilandra reminded him with a smirk.
It was good money. Why should they be the only ones to get rich off of all that had happened? Besides, it didn't interfere with his other job, he'd been able to go back to his first job which he loved and they were excited about the exposure, plus the benefits to being in the X-Woman reality show were great when you considered he'd be filming all day with Ororo. Why not go along with them? It was a lot easier, and cheaper, than suing. He kissed her lightly on the lips.
"Stop that," Lilandra said, "you'll ruin her makeup. Where is that makeup girl? Someone find Alison, Ororo needs a touch up and stalker number one needs eyeliner."
"What? Whoa, wait a minute nobody said anything about makeup!"
"It's in your contract."
"I don't do makeup, lady."
"You will if I deem it necessary and maybe a little padding in . . . um, certain areas too."
"Look lady . . ."
"Call me Lilandra. And I'll have you know as Lilandra I'm the queen bee here which means I'm in charge, what I say goes."
"You'll get to like her, really," Ororo whispered when Lilandra got up.
"So, when will you marry me?" Logan replied, Lilandra forgotten.
"You never asked me."
"I'm asking now."
"This is crazy."
"But think, dear it could be the climax of the show then we could do a newlywed show - think Jessica not Britney," Lilandra piped in.
"That's not all that's gonna climax," Logan whispered in Ororo's ear.
"Can you say that on television?"
"Does it matter?"
"Oh, this could be fun," Ororo laughed.
"Count on it," Logan assured her.
"So . . . how many will we have?"
"Kids. You know, if . . . we . . ."
"Hmm." She was beginning to like his take charge attitude. It was quite the turn on.
"One boy at least and a girl who'll look exactly like you."
"So, that's a yes?"
"Hmm. Yes, yes I think it is."
- Finis -