TITLE:  Superhero
AUTHOR: Beaubier
AUTHOR'S E-MAIL: xbeaubier@hotmail.com
PERMISSION TO ARCHIVE: Ask and ye shall receive.
CATEGORY: Drama/Angst
RATINGS/WARNINGS:  Some nasty language, mild violence.
SUMMARY: Northstar has been at Xavier's for awhile now, and he's starting to feel more comfortable in his role with the X-men. He and Nightcrawler are sent off to contain a small "disturbance" created by a few mutant teens in West Virginia, and he finds himself coming face to face with a few old demons.
DISCLAIMER: The X-men are clearly, not mine. Lucky for them. The original character, Bullet Time, is also not mine, but a creation of a good friend of mine who as kindly lent him to me. Thanks, Geoff.
NOTES: My sincerest thanks to Sue Penkivech, for picking up on my not-so-subtle request for a beta reader on this, my first go at a serious fic. Without her, this would make even less sense. (if you haven't read her "Just a couple of kids, after all," you should. It's brilliant.) This is my attempt to present Northstar as the hero I think he is, and to explain why I think he deserves the adulation. As formerly noted, the character Bullet Time belongs to my friend Geoff, and Jake is a mutant I invented, for the purposes of this story. I do not speak French, let alone Québécois, so feel free to correct, and/or add to anything I've tried to throw in to add a little credibility to his roots. The lyrics are all from songs by the Manic Street Preachers. Because they produce the best lyrics. Hands down. No contest. This will be a few chapters, likely not more than five or six, however.  

Introduction: Superhero

one-thousand marlboro deaths ignored every day, and who gives a shit about sexuality. gold against the soul, working class clichés start here, either cloth caps or smack victims. gold destroyed, destroyed the soul, destroyed the soul.

-gold against the soul

                Today, I went out.

                Just to get away. Out of the mansion, away from the school.

                I've been here awhile now. At times, I admit, I'm not entirely certain why. Do I think I'm so great a teacher, that these children need me? Do I think the X-men could not endure without me?  

                No. Many of them would believe these are my reasons. But some days, I know. These reasons, they could not be further from the truth.

                The truth is, I need the X-men.

                Yes, after all this time, I am one of them. After those years with Department H, hating and loving my superhero status, I was enjoying being a civilian when Xavier approached me. In a way. I'd settled down. Wrote a book. Invested. Read the Wall Street Journal. They were hard, those years with Alpha Flight. So many memories, so few of them good. If not for them, I would not have known my sister. I would not have this sense of responsibility. I would not care for anyone but myself. All I would have would be memories of a young man who hid from himself in France. Who joined a radical separatist group, only to have his youthful ideals crushed by terrorism. Who had a few gold medals, medals that mean nothing.

                I suppose it's easy for me to say that now, now that they've been taken from me. But what good are gold medals? Years ago, I thought they were everything.

                But I was younger then. And I didn't understand.

                Which is why it's ironic that I need the children. Because, mes amis, they do understand.

                The few times in my life when I have seen what's really mattered, it's been thanks to them. Not these particular children, perhaps, but always because of children. Or being child-like myself.

                Child-like enough to want to pay for my sins with the FLQ by doing my duty with Department H. Child-like enough to rejoice in the knowledge that I had a sister. Child-like enough to hang on to Jeanne-Marie's hand in a dark tunnel, afraid and uncertain, tormented by some demi-god. She was all I had then. Maybe she still is.

                Maybe she still is. A thought that occurs to me daily. And certainly doesn't keep the hole in me from getting larger each time it occurs. The cavernous, empty thing in my chest, that always seems most threatening when I realize how alone I am.

                But they, the others, have done even more to make me understand. Little Joanne. The fragility of a small child, her utter dependence upon a fully grown human to nurture her, the way her small eyes latched on to my face with something I could have sworn was recognition. Four months old. That's as far as she made it, my daughter. The daughter I found, alone in the streets. HIV positive. Her mother didn't care.

                But I did.

                Trust. The way she wrapped her tiny hand around my finger. The warmth of her in one arm as I held her in the night.

                At times like those, the hole in me, it was not so big. I did not feel as if it would swallow me.

                It came for her, of course. I'd known it would, from the beginning. Full blown AIDS. She was so small, so defenseless. Depending on me for her well-being. But no superhero could save her from the fate she was born to.

                I am not a great believer in fate, nor in any great cosmic truth. But sometimes, we are not given a choice. My daughter… she never had the choice.

                And she taught me what was important.

                I was Northstar, the superhero. And that didn't save her. But  I could stand up and show the world what she'd given to me. What she'd made me understand.

                Peter. I won't forget his name, his face, the sound of his voice as he flew with me. Young, innocent. But just like Joanne, his youth had not allowed him to escape the evils of the world. He did not love me, did not see me as his savior. Not at first. There was no immediate trust, not as there is with a baby.

                But he grew to understand me, in our short time together. And he accepted me. Trust.

                And for the second time, I knew what was important. He held my hand, looked to me for the answer. For the second time, I wished I could trade my life for a child's. This child, he was not so naïve. He knew it was the end.

                Being a superhero, I couldn't save him from his fate either. But I could stay with him, and help him accept it.

                I don't know how it sounds, when I say this, but it is the truth. Those children, the children I see every day. They are the ones who've saved me. Without them, I would still be clinging to some useless piece of metal on a string.

                And that's what I thought of today, when I went out.