Mouse hijacking signature.bmp

Art Gallery


Novel News
Short Story News
Award News



Archangel Protocol

Fallen Host

Messiah Node

Apocalypse Array


After Archangel Protocol

Dee [vignette]



"Missing" from Fallen Host
Em and Morningstar


"Missing" from Apocalypse Array (in .PDF format)



Non-Mouse Fiction:

Alternate Beginning of Fallen Host

To Catch A Gene Thief



het slash


Part Two: Angel of Mercy

by Armand LeBeau

I lie on the floor, listening to the soft sound of rain against the window. The wind rattles the pane. It would have been pleasant, if the taste of a certain supreme bastard didn’t still linger on my tongue. Not to mention the sting of the welts on my ass, and the ache in my sagging, unsatisfied cock.


Today could have gone a bit better, in retrospect. Note to self: don’t say ‘yes’ just because you haven’t been laid in far too long.

Kicking off my shoes, I squirm the rest of the way out of my pants. First order of business: brushing teeth. Second: hot shower. Third: getting as far away from this hellhole -- and that evil, evil man -- as possible.

I stumble to the bathroom. The flickering harsh florescent makes me squint. Honestly, I try to avoid my reflection in the mirror, but my eyes are drawn to the movement. Before the light snaps on completely, I swear I see the outline of a muscular black man stand in the empty space between the shower and the toilet. Skin as dark as night merges with shadow and silhouette. Molten lava eyes smolder so intensely that I spin around, half expecting a monster to have materialized in the hotel bathroom. In the brightness there’s only tile and plastic curtains, but I hear the sound of a bird taking flight.

Great. I’m so fucked up, I’m hallucinating.

Digging through the scattered detritus of three people’s toiletries, I find my toothbrush. My eyes on the sink, I scrape at my teeth until only the fresh taste of mint remains.

I turn on the shower and get in even before the water is quite hot.

What am I doing here? I mean, besides getting quite literally fucked over by Morningstar? Okay, so he promised me the LINK, and, you know, a full connect would rock, but…. I run my fingers along the silver wire on my temple, trying not to remember the soft, almost sweet kisses he gave me there. still hums just under the surface. Did he forget about it when he took the rest away? Or is it supposed to be the carrot to his all-too painful stick?

Would Morningstar be able to magic it away if I left?

I’m not as much of a glutton for punishment as you might think. I have tried to leave before, you know. It’s just that every time I get up the nerve, one of them comes back. It’s like they know. It’s kind of spooky, honestly.

The water pressure is so low the showerhead merely produces a wide drizzle for me to stand under. It never quite heats up to the scalding temperatures I’d like, but its warm enough to be almost comfortable. That is, until I forget about the state my butt is in. Then, I hop out in a hurry with a lot of cursing in Arabic.

I hate being spanked. And it sucks that I already knew that about myself.

After a quick, careful toweling off, I start rummaging through Emmaline’s things for a soft pair of sweat pants. My jeans are going to chaff too much, and, besides, I feel like taking some of their stuff before I go. I find a pair with the Inquisitor’s logo at the hip, and decide they’ll mostly fit me. One of my shirts covers the badge anyway. I pack up the sequencer in Morningstar’s over-the-shoulder manbag. His thousand credit Rolex slips easily onto my wrist.

I’m out of here.


Except my hand hesitates on the knob. I just know that the second I turn it, Morningstar will have materialized there. This time he might do more than just have his sick and twisted little way with me, too. No, I just can’t stay here any more. I’ve had it. So, with my hand still on the door, I say a little prayer.

It’s not really a very Muslim thing of me to do. I mean, it’s all supposed to be up to Allah and his will and all that, but you know, frankly, I’m beginning to think maybe he could use my input from time to time. He hasn’t been doing such a bang up job lately -- unless the point has been to bang me up, in which case he’s been right on.

It seems wrong to say it in Arabic, so in the language of this place, I whisper one of the few phrases I know, “S’il vous plaît.” Literally: If it pleases you. I shrug. What do you know? It’s kind of Muslim after all.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I pull the door open with a jerk. I crack my eyes open, and there is someone standing there. It’s a man I’ve never seen before… except once, maybe, in a dream, though I don’t know why I say that. He’s built like a linebacker, all broad shoulders and slender waist. Short dreads stick out of his head like horns. His skin is oily black…. And he’s wearing a Free Mouse t-shirt. The picture of the mouse chewing threw the co-axial cable and chains hits right about my eye-level.

“Salam 'alaik,” he says, greeting me as one Muslim to another.

“Uh, yeah, likewise,” It’s rude, I know, but I’m thrown. I don’t know this guy, do I? How does he know I’m Muslim? I mean, yeah, okay, I look very Arabic, but I’m not wearing a beard. “Listen, the lady of the house is out right now, pal,” I say, trying to decide if I can squeeze under his left arm pit. “And, honestly? I’m pretty desperate to get out of here.” I point to his shirt. “You know, free Mouse and all that.”

“I know,” he says. “I’m Jibril.”

Allah answered my prayer by sending me the angel that dictated the Koran to Muhammad? I must be more important than I thought. What else could I say? “Cool.”

That makes him laugh. He’s got a handsome smile that warms something in me that’s been cold for quite a while. Men generally make me tense; with this one my shoulders relax a whole quarter of an inch.

“So, uh, what can I do for you?” I ask.

“I’m here to help you.”

Despite the beatific smile and the Free Mouse shirt, I can’t quite take him seriously. “You’re Luke Skywalker and you’re here to rescue me?”

He raises a skeptical eyebrow. “Do you really want to be Princess Leia?”

“She was the best shot in the Rebellion, what’s not to love?”

“The hair?”

Finally, the ridiculousness of our conversation strikes me. Most people have never seen the flat in question, except a few of us old-timer geeks and phreaks who still like to keep the nerd culture alive. “Exactly how old are you? Are you some kind of wire-wizard?”

I don’t see the bulge of the LINK under the skin near his temple nor the silver wire, but that doesn’t mean anything. Thanks to me, Africa was the center of an anti-establishment code revolution during the Blackout Years.

“I’m older than time,” he says with that silken smile. “But speaking of which, we don’t have much, so let’s get you out of here.”

“You’re the boss,” I say, though, once again, I have no idea why I trust this guy. I mean, I have pretty crappy taste in men -- witness the whole debacle with Morningstar -- so why I’m following his big lunk down the hallway, I’m not sure. Maybe I’m just a sucker for anyone who can make a good Star Wars reference.


The rain trickles down the neck of my hooded-sweatshirt. Wet darkens the cobblestone to black. The muted blue, steepled-rooftops drip streams of water onto the sidewalk. I look over at the looming form of Jibril, and wonder, once again, why I’m trailing this guy through the streets of Paris. Without an umbrella.

Certainly, he has the kind of disarming smile someone of that bent could totally follow to the ends of the earth. It’s a smile, too, that seems to come to him easily. I watch him grin at a gaggle of students who walk two-by-two in neat little rows -- Madaline-style – up the stairs of the Opera House. The rain doesn’t seem to bother him; in fact, he appears amused by it. Like a kid, he stomps through the puddles I avoid. The water sluices off the slick jacket he wears and dots his dreads like diamonds.

“At some point,” I say to him, “You are going to tell me where we’re going, right?”

He gives me that brilliant smile again. “Insh’allah.”

‘God willing’ which part I wonder? Are we expecting God to let us know we’re headed or whether or not to share that information with me?

“O-kay,” I say, thinking maybe I’ve attached myself to some kook after all. “Look, it’s clearly escaped your attention, but it’s raining and cold and I have a house, you know, that I could go to. By myself,” I add, because otherwise I think it sounds a bit like an invitation, and my ass is still smarting despite the loose-fitting sweatpants.

Jibril takes my hand in his. It’s not a rough, demanding grab, but more of a gentle “c’mon,” like we’re friends, strolling down the street together on our way to the theatre.

His palm is dry and warm against my sweaty skin. I’m not usually the type to experience “chemistry,” but some kind of spark passes between us. All I know is that it feels good to be held by him – safe, protected.

I look up into his brown eyes, which are searching mine. I lean into him a little closer, catching the scent of him – curry and cinnamon. Smells, oddly, that remind me of home. Suddenly, I recall the men of the Blackout Years and I want to pull away, but, instinctively, I know this is different and I feel like he’s feeling the same thing.

Still, he’s identified himself as a Muslim. The Qur’an is somewhat murky on the subject of two guys together, but most Islamic governments are not. I’m actually struggling to ask him something, like, would he kill me if I told him I was wondering what it would be like to kiss him, when he totally goes and blows the moment by saying, “Forget about home. Allah needs you elsewhere.”

My feet drag the instant Allah is mentioned. My relationship with The All-Merciful One has never been, shall we say, particularly strong. Oh, sure, I will occasionally find time to bow toward Mecca or wander into a mosque, but God and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms. And, frankly, it unnerves me when other people are, particularly when they’re receiving divine instruction regarding moi. “Oh, really? Well, Allah just told me to run screaming from here,” I say, taking my hand away.

“That was actually your own inner voice, Mouse. You should probably learn how to tell the difference,” he says seriously, as though admonishing for lacking an important life skill. “If it’s sarcastic, it’s probably not from Her.”

Allah’s a girl now? Wow, some Arab men are in for a Big Surprise.

I’d intended to be half way to the Metro station by now, but once again the surreal nature of our conversation has completely derailed my actions. People pass us with the occasional curious glance. The streets are filled with Parisians strolling to their leisurely two hour lunches. Umbrellas bob everywhere. “What?” I manage to say, “What the fuck are we talking about?”

Jibril sighs, like he’s a little bit sorry for me as he says, “You’re part of the plan, Mouse, like it or not. We need you to help defeat Morningstar. You’re mission critical, I’m afraid.”

I’m mission critical? “Write me out of the agenda, okay? I’m not going to be part of Allah’s business plan.” I can’t believe I’m even really engaging this guy on his level. I mean, this is all crazy talk, right? I’m not part of some higher power’s cosmic scheme. I’m just some guy, you know?

“You have a chance here to make an active choice, Mouse. This is one of those defining life moments. If you can surrender your will to Allah, come with me. If not,” he trails off for a moment with a shrug, and then adds, “Well, we will all be judged on the final day.”

Oh, awesome. Now my eternal soul depends on this moment? Do I even believe this guy?

Thunder chooses that very moment to rumble across the sky. It’s so cliché, I laugh. Still, as cheesy as it is, it’s a pretty good portent. Add to that the way the passing headlights seem to momentarily illuminate the silhouette of wings behind Jibril’s shoulders, and I’m pretty much on board. I can’t entirely accept it all, but, look at it this way: I stand to loose my eternal soul if he’s actually right, and if he’s wrong, I only waste my time on this gorgeous, delusional man. Hey, I didn’t have any plans for today, anyway.

“Yeah, okay, whatever Allah wants,” I say.

He slips his arms around my shoulders, and pronounces, “Good.”

Yeah, I think as I enjoy the closeness, his smell, and the comforting feel of weight pressing against me, it is.


The plan is going to take some time, he says. We’re going to have to share quarters for a while, he says, while the whole thing works itself out. I’m liking that, especially when Jibril shows me his spacious Right Bank apartment with its vaulted ceilings and gold painted walls. Then he drops this little gem: “Of course, you’ll have to see Morningstar again.”

My jaw tightens instantly. Shame colors my cheeks and I break eye contact. “No thank you.”

“Don’t you want to get him back for what he did to you?”

I turn a deeper shade of red, but my eyes snap up to spear his. “What do you know about that?”

“You’re not walking so great.”

“We’re not having this conversation, Jibril. I don’t know you that well.” I can feel myself tightening into an angry ball. My arms wrap around my waist and my shoulders hunch. I can’t stand how obviously it bothers me. I want to let the whole thing roll off me, like it didn’t matter.

When Jibril’s hands gently squeeze my shoulder, I flinch.

His thumb tips my chin up, but I don’t look at him. I hear him sigh, and then he does the craziest thing: he wraps me in his arms and hugs me.

I’m completely floored when Jibril doesn’t try it on with me. Because, you know, it’s kind of a long hug. I’m pressed into his chest, into the picture of the mouse on his t-shirt, actually. My cheeks get a pretty good impression of manly, broad, muscular pects. I’m overwhelmed by the scent of him, which, at closer range has an undertone of musk. At first, all the sudden contact just ratchets up my tension. I kind of twitch, but he just holds me tighter. Eventually, I breathe.

We stand there with me just breathing for what seems like five minutes. When he still doesn’t let go or start fondling me, I let my shoulders slump a little. Three minutes later, I decide it wouldn’t suck to let him support my weight for a while. I’m sure he’s waiting for me to start crying or something, but instead I fall asleep.


I still have all my clothes on when I wake up, even my slightly soggy shoes. Part of me is a little disappointed, especially when I notice Jibril snoozing next to me in nothing but striped boxers. Jibril’s skin stands out in stark contrast to the white of the sheets. The sunlight, which lies in a broad strip across the bed, brings out deep chestnut highlights along the lines of his body. His skin looks so warm and smooth that I almost of want to stroke it, like you might a sleeping house cat.

I get out of bed careful not to awaken sleeping beauty, and check out the apartment. The bedroom has a balcony with a view of the [Pompodu] Center, with its weird, whimsical “modern” architecture that makes it look a bit like an inside-out building. I open the glass doors, and step out onto the narrow ledge. The air smells of rain. I lean on the cold, stone railing, feeling the sun warm the top of my head.

If it’s God’s plan for me to be here, right now, this is a little bit of all right. Morning traffic hisses through the streets below, a comforting sort of busy sound. Pigeons flutter in their nervous circles around the Center’s courtyard below.

When Jibril sets the coffee cup at my elbow, I nearly leap off the balcony. “Merciful Allah, where’d you come from?”

“The kitchen,” he says with a little chuckle.

“Well, for crying out loud, learn how to make noise when you walk,” I mutter more grumpily than I feel.

He nods, like he’s making a serious note of it. Who or what is this guy, anyway?

“We should probably talk,” he says.

“About God,” I supply, feeling a bit queasy at the prospect. I take a sip of the coffee. It’s strong, dark, and burns my tongue a little. Still, I take another gulp for the caffeine.

“Yes, about God,” Jibril agrees. But, then instead of saying anything, he just leans those massive, brown arms against the railing and takes in a deep breath of Parisian air and seems to savor it, like he’s tasting a fine wine.

“Breath much?” I ask him sarcastically.

“Not nearly enough,” he replies wistfully.

It’s either a really Zen response, or something else truly strange. I look at him trying to judge what he meant by that, and I notice once again he has no LINK.

“How do you afford this place?” I ask.

“Do you ever stay on topic for more than a second?” he fires back.

I have to laugh. “Not usually, no.”

“It’s charming, if distracting,” he says with a fond smile. The way he’s leaning, we’re nearly eye-to-eye. I always find that sexy. It would be best if he was actually my height, like Deidre, but this’ll do in a pinch. This is often the moment, however, when people usually tousle my hair or some other condescending sort of gesture. I’m kind of waiting for it when he kisses me.


ally tousle my hair or some other condescending sort of gesture. I’m kind of waiting for it when he kisses me.


It’s a nice kiss. Very much a hello-you’re-cute kiss, not one of those how-about-I-jam-my-tongue-down-your-throat-before-we’re-even-friends ones. Our lips are tentative, exploratory. The moment my morning stubble scratches his and I start to think about how weird it is to be kissing a guy, he stops and pulls away.

“Hey,” I say. “That’s supposed to me my line.”

His eyebrows raise. “What is?”

“The whole pulling away thing. You need to let me do that.”

“Oh?” Jibril laughs. “I do, do I? As you wish.” So, he kisses me again. This time, he puts a hand on my jaw. This kiss is much more serious, full of the promise of passion and intensity. I part my lips, and he doesn’t hesitate to let himself in, as it were. He’s a good kisser, not sloppy or anxious. He seems like the sort who would linger.

A shiver runs the length of my body.

But I jump a half a foot when other hand slides down to my waist.

Crap. I hadn’t really meant to ruin the moment like that. “Uh,” I say, trying to act like something other than the obviously wounded soul I am, “So we were talking about God, right?”

“You’d rather talk about God than have sex?”

“No!” No, wait that’s not right, I mean, the sun might be nice along that athletic body, but this is a guy… a dude. “Yes!” But, then again there was that shiver, and, well, my bodyresponded pretty nicely. “No? Er, crap, I don’t know,” I raised my hands in surrender. “How about In’shallah?”

“I like that last one,” Jibril smiles, taking me by the hand and leading us back toward the bedroom. “Are you ready to receive the love of Allah, Christian El-Aref?”

Well, it had to beat the love of the Great Satan. I nod, not trusting my voice to respond without a squeak.

The morning sun streams in from the balcony. I stand at the foot of the bright, white bed like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff. My heart knocks in my chest. I wishit were dark -- pitch black, like the alleyways of Cairo, all those years ago.

“Maybe you should close your eyes.” Jibril kneels on the mattress so that we’re face to face. The springs groan under his weight.

My eyes fluttered shut. I held my breath.

Fingers gliding though my hair make me flinch. “You’ve been badly treated, Mouse. It’s time to change that.”

I open my eyes. Jibril kisses me on the nose, and gives me that great, big grin of his. How can I not smile back? Then he tugs at the hem of my shirt, and I freeze.

“Breathe,” he commands.

So I do, even as he’s pulling my shirt over my head.

“You need to relax.” He frowns at me, like he’s trying to decide something. Then he says, “I’ve got just the thing.”

When he turns to reach for something in his bedside stand, I open my mouth to explain about how there are certain toys I really could do without. Instead, he shows me a bottle of massage oil.

“C’mon,” he says. “Lay down. Let me see if I can relax you.”

Lie face down on a bed while a gigantic man straddles my ass? Oh, sure, that’ll relax me. I’m about to tell him that he’s nice and everything, but this so not going to work when I look into that sincere, genuine face of his. There’s no malice in his smile. “Okay,” I say, and manage to lie down on the bed with my arms tucked under my chin.

When his weight presses down on either side of my hips, the damnest thing happens: I get totally turned on. I don’t know if it’s because the skin on my butt is so raw, but I can feel every contour of him. A soft groan escapes my lips.

Leaning down, pressing me harder into the bed, his voice tickles my ears. “See,” he says. “You like it.”

I’m aching against the sheets at the nearness of him.

Jibril’s hands smooth oil across my shoulder blades. I breathe in a faint smell of cinnamon. His palms work my muscles firmly. Tension pop-pops under Jibril’s ministrations. Fingers trace the contours under my arms, along my rib cage, and down to my waist.

I hold my breath, but he asks nothing from me. There’s only giving in his hands. Slowly, Jibril makes small circles along my spine. Then, he works the kinks out of my neck and then smoothly moves into a scalp massage. His fingers trace the wire that’s visible on my temple. A warm buzz, like the LINK is coming alive under his fingers, spreads across my skull and then down my body.

“So many wounds,” Jibril mutters. He kisses my neck, soft and fluttery. A whole different kind of buzzing feeling swells along my body.

I make happy noises. I might even mutter, “Oh,” and maybe I call him ‘baby.’

Then he runs his finger down my spine, and I arch under his touch. “Do you like that?” he asks me in a growly voice. “You’re so beautiful. Turn around.”

He lifts his body, so I can comply.

Weirdly, I think I feel more comfortable face down on the bed. If I turn around, we’ll be looking at each other -- in the eye.