I've posted this so many places that everyone here has probably seen it already, but what the hell?

Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to Marvel. Damn. Story is mine though.

Warnings: Child abuse.

Recipe: Take 1 remark in UXM #414 that seems to contradict canon. Let stew for about 1 year, awaiting explanation, until nice and bitter. Serve cold.


"Let go! Leave me alone!" The slight, dark-haired boy shouted angrily, trying to wriggle away from the girls holding his arms despite the hopelessness of his situation; even if he broke free, he knew how much trouble he'd be in if word reached his parents that he'd been hitting girls. All he could do was hope that he could push past the two in front of him if he got loose and wish that he knew some better names to call these tormenting females.

"No, you have to let us see!"

"I don't want to. Let me *go*! Hey!" He let out an indignant squawk as one of the girls cupped his face and tilted his head to the side, trying to get a better look at his ears. "Stop that!"

"They are! They are pointed! Fabienne, look!"

"How precious! He looks like a little pixie!"

The boy squirmed furiously, nearly leaving behind his sweater in his efforts to escape. "Get away from me, you stupid girls!" Six-year old Jean-Paul Martin was on the verge of doing something that really would get him in a good deal of trouble, like kicking the pestering quartet of first-graders in their shins, pushing them into the nearest mud-puddle, then running like the devil.

"Hey, girls!"

The mad scuffle paused for a moment. Five heads turned to take in the new-comer. A relieved expression found its way onto Jean-Paul's flushed face, for just behind the girl holding his head at what was becoming a very uncomfortable angle, was a round little boy with a messy head of brown hair, about an inch shorter than Jean-Paul and grinning impishly.

"Look at what I've got!" the new boy finished, holding up his hand. A road-squished bird dangled between his thumb and forefinger by one pitiful claw. All it took was for him to advance one step, and the girls drew back, squealing in disgust. The moment their hands loosened, Jean-Paul tore free, and took off down the sidewalk as if his heels were on fire.

"Bastien, run!" he called over one shoulder.

The other boy laughed, pitched his find at the girls -- eliciting another squeal from them -- and dashed after Jean-Paul, his book-bag bouncing against his side.

Jean-Paul didn't stop until he'd scrambled into the safety of his family's backyard, then allowed himself to collapse in a pile of maple leaves, panting and clutching at the stitch throbbing in his side. By the time the other boy caught up and went off his feet, however, Jean-Paul had nearly recovered.

"You..." Bastien Merrell panted, "y-you have...got to find another...way h-home, Jean-Paul. I am not...doing this...anymore!"

"Mama told me to take that route home from school every day. It's not my fault that those girls wait for me!" Jean-Paul sighed. "There were more of them this time."

"Yes, because your ears are just 'soooo precious' that they all have to see." Bastien snickered at the look of utter disgust that passed over his best friend's face. "Tell your papa, then. He'll take care of it."

"I am not telling him that I get chased by girls every day! It's still my first week at this school! He'll think I'm a sissy."

"Tell your mama then, sissy." Bastien ducked the handful of soggy leaves that Jean-Paul threw at him, then looked around the yard. He liked Jean-Paul, but there wasn't much to do at his house...no swings, no pets, not many toys and most of those were still in boxes from the move. Even at six, the boy could tell that his house was nicer by far than their tiny dwelling (the Martins didn't even have a TV!), but was understood that so say so out loud wouldn't do his new friendship with Jean-Paul any good. At least the yard had a good tree for climbing. "Let's play war."

"No, I'm tired of that. You always take the tree."

"All right. What do you want to do?" Bastien picked up a bit of stick and began digging with it. It had rained that morning, so the going was very easy. Jean-Paul rolled over to watch, plunking his chin down onto his fist. He had leaves and sap all over his clothes, but didn't really seem to notice.

"We could explore the neighborhood."

Bastien shook his head. "The Abney's have a mean dog. It can jump the fence, you know!"

Jean-Paul grinned suddenly, picked up another stick, and began to assist in the excavation. "We could dig a deep hole and bury some girls so that they don't bother me anymore. Then you wouldn't have to rescue me every afternoon."

"That's stupid." Bastien was getting very bored. "Besides, you just said that there are more girls now. We couldn't catch them all."

"Then I'm out of ideas. Careful!" The skinny, delicate-featured boy stopped digging at once, his blue eyes fixed on a wriggling brownish-red tail sticking out of the dirt. "It's bad luck if you cut an earthworm in two."

"Who told you that?" Despite his skepticism, the other boy stopped digging and leaned in for a closer look.

"Ma...my mother. She says if you cut a worm in two, then you'll have bad luck until the cut-off part turns into a new worm." Two pairs of curious eyes watched as the worm's tail-end vanished into the dirt. "They move so fast!"

"I wonder if they eat dirt."

Jean-Paul's nose wrinkled up. "Yuck. That's gross."

"You know what's even more gross? Kissing someone who eats dirt!" The idea was so absurd that Jean-Paul laughed...then paused. Bastien was looking thoughtful.

"I'm not eating dirt!" Jean-Paul said immediately; even on short acquaintance, he knew how Merrell's mind worked.


"I am not!"


"If I'm a sissy, so are you, so there!"

"You're worse than a sissy, you're a *girl*!" His sensibilities mortally offended, Jean-Paul kicked the small pile of loose dirt they'd piled up at Bastien, but the other boy only picked up a few crumbs of earth in one hand. "And I'm not a sissy either. Watch!" Jean-Paul's eyes widened in horrified fascination as Bastien grimly chewed up the dirt. The other boy made several very odd faces and had to swallow more than once but, in the end, got it all down. "So you *are* a sissy and a girl."

With his honor on the line, Jean-Paul had no other choice. He picked up a small chunk of dirt and began chewing. Unlike his friend, he managed to keep a single, grim expression on his young face as he worked on his gritty mouthful. He swallowed once and threw his friend a triumphant glare. "So now you're a sissy unless you kiss me!" He paused for a moment, trying to figure out why his logic somehow seemed flawed, but Bastien had leaned in, a delivered a half-second peck, and backed off to frantically scrub at his lips before Jean-Paul could decide what was wrong with it.

Jean-Paul squeezed his eyes shut and puckered up, leaning in for his turn...then fell forward as Bastien scrambled to his feet.

"So you're still the sissy!" the brunet cried out. Jean-Paul gave chase at once, and the two scrambled all over the small yard, shouting and taunting each other, the noise of their fun drowning out the sound of the car pulling into the driveway. Finally, Jean-Paul managed to tackle his quarry and pin him down. Bastien refused to cooperate, of course, yelling and trying to push his friend off, so the kiss was not quite on-target and hit between the nose and upper lip...

Both boys froze in shock at the bellow of rage that came from the house, and turned to see Louis Martin bearing down on them. Martin was not unusually large, but, to his son the enraged man was a terrifying giant and Jean-Paul remained frozen, wide-eyed as his father bore down on them. He knew that he was not supposed to scuffle in his school clothes, but on other occasions when he'd forgotten that rule, the worst punishment he had ever received was to go to bed without a story for the night from his mother; more often than not, his father had simply asked who'd come off the worse in the fight, not seeming at all upset over it. Jean-Paul could not begin to comprehend what he'd done wrong to warrant this kind of reaction, and remained frozen in place.

Louis Martin was two-hundred and ten pounds, broad at the shoulders, and very fit; his son weighed just under forty pounds. Martin's open-handed slap knocked Jean-Paul clean off of Bastien Merrell and left him stunned on the ground. Too hurt and frightened to even try and form a question the boy covered his face and began to cry, but not seeing the next blow did nothing to stop it, nor did it keep his father from dragging him back inside the house and hurling him against the wall.

There was no chance to understand what was happening to him, there was not even a chance to breathe. Each fresh impact of palm, wall, or floor drove the breath from Jean-Paul's small body. He was too dazed to try and curl up to protect himself, in too much pain to do anything but try to cry and choke on the tears. There wasn't enough breath to force a scream from his lungs when the first bone broke like a dry stick under the assault, but, mercifully, when the hand drew back again, Jean-Paul could not hold himself up. His head hit the floor hard enough to darken the world.


He was still on the floor when the world came back. There was cool tile under his cheek, but no color; he couldn't open his eyes. His chest hurt too much; he couldn't breathe deeply...but he could only breathe through his mouth anyway.

Mama was home...she was screaming. Screaming at father, who was yelling back words that Jean-Paul knew he wasn't supposed to hear...and new ones.

Everything hurt so bad. He wanted his mama. He wanted her to come pick him up off of the floor, no matter how much it hurt, but she wouldn't come. Maybe she hadn't seen him. Maybe if he moved...but no. Father might see him if he moved. Only if he was very still...

Too late. The heavy tread that was coming towards him was not mama and, oh, how he wanted to run from it, but now that he wanted to move, he couldn't. Rough hands picked him up and he thought he might be sick with fear. Too scared to run now, too hurt to run, and Bastien couldn't rescue him this time...

The careless hold caused something inside of him to grate against something else, and a bolt of pain sundered him from the terror and confusion, sending him into darkness again.


"Are you awake? Little boy, can you hear me?"

The bright light, the cold, and the stinging smells in his nose only added to Jean-Paul's confusion as he fought his way back into consciousness. Part of him seemed to think that there was a very urgent reason to wake up. The rest of him took measure of the aches of his battered body, ascertained from the mattress beneath and the blankets that he was in bed, and tried to convince him to stay asleep.

"Little boy, can you tell me your name?" The voice sounded impatient.

"Jean-Paul Martin," he mumbled automatically, still befuddled and unable to see more than vague shapes of the world around him. His head felt fuzzy, and there was so much white, that it hurt his eyes. He closed them again.

"Good, we can identify them, at least." The words were quieter, and not directed at him this time and so barely registered. Jean-Paul wanted to go back to sleep and nearly had when his name stirred him awake again. "Jean-Paul, do you know where you are?"

Frustrated, Jean-Paul struggled to open his eyes again. He hurt. He wanted this person to go away and leave him alone. He wanted his parents to come and...

No, a voice warned him, he didn't want his parents there. Suddenly, the world didn't seem nearly safe enough to just fall asleep in. Jean-Paul opened his eyes and forced himself to focus on the thin man in the white coat, and on what he was saying.

As the abrupt man's words began to penetrate the haze, Jean-Paul came to realize that he would not have to worry about his parents being there ever again.

Author's rant:
OK, so I understood Northstar's childhood/early adulthood to have gone thusly -- Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Beaubier are born. Parents die in car-accident within months of the birth. Jean-Paul is adopted by the his mother's cousins, the Martin family, who can't afford to adopt Jeanne-Marie, so she is packed off to Madam DuPont's. At six, the Martins die in a car-crash and Jean-Paul is orphaned. He's passed around to several different foster families until he's about twelve, at which point he runs away. A bit later, he meets up with Raymonde, who acts as Jean-Paul's friend and mentor for the next few years and later teaches him to come to terms with his sexuality. After this, Jean-Paul joins the circus, visits France, rubs elbows with terrorists in the separatist movement for a while, then emerges into the public eye to tear up the slopes as a skiing champion. Couple of years go by. Jean-Paul is contacted by James Hudson. During his interview with Hudson, Jean-Paul declares he had little love for the Martins and easily adopts the name Beaubier. Jean-Paul discovers he has a sister, joins Alpha Flight.
Busy life, right? Not much room to fit in, "Couldn't be any worse than the last conversation I had with my father...I told him I was a homosexual. He nearly killed me."
Am I expecting too much of the writer? Is it really that hard to check out the back-story of a character you're writing about and find out a little something more about him than his sexual orientation? I'm sorry, but it's so *not* a minor thing to make a statement like that, when the biological father died soon after the character's birth, the principle father-figure died when the character was six, the others were so transitory that they'd hardly be referred to as "father", and the final one was gay, gay, gay! Argh!
*sigh* Well, at least I got a plot-bunny for the price of my comic.


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