Marie woke to blessed silence; Logan had already left. She hated not getting a chance to say goodbye to him but after the last few sleepless nights she’d had, it was also welcome to sleep undisturbed.
She took the opportunity of being alone and undisturbed, to take a long, hot shower. After drying herself off, she combed out her hair, opting to preserve the silence longer by shaking her hair out and leaving it to air dry rather than blow drying it, before she headed into the bedroom to dress.
As she tugged her shirt over her head, her eyes fell on the calendar standing on the dressing table. Today's date was circled in green marker, and decorated with glitter. Logan's handwriting marking the date as 'Gabriel's 5th Birthday'.
With a sad smile Marie moved over to the shelf, where their little memorial stood. Photos of their first child, the tiny urn that contained his ashes, a small figurine Jubilee had given her - a little baby with angel wings hugging a teddy bear - and a replica of Logan's dog tag but with Gabriel's name and birthdate stamped on it, completed their memorial.
"Happy birthday little man," Marie murmured softly, pressing a kiss to her fingers before pressing it to the photo.
A soft cry behind her drew her attention and she turned, with an even bigger smile, as she made her way across the room, to the cause of her earlier sleepless night.
"And hello to you too little lady, you were such a good girl letting mommy sleep," she cooed softly, as she unwrapped her week-old daughter, and gently picked her up out of the bassinet.
Settling herself comfortably in the leather armchair that sat in the corner of their room, she tucked a pillow under her arm and settled in to feed the hungry baby. The contented snuffles baby made, as she suckled and dozed, were almost enough to pull Marie back to sleep. Until she heard excited chatter, and the quick stamping of little feet approaching the bedroom door.
"Hush little man, we don't want to wake momma or the baby," she heard Logan growl softly outside the door. The chattering voice immediately fell silent as the door quietly clicked open.
Marie smiled toward the door, when she saw Logan peer around the doors edge, a second face appearing lower down.
"Mommy!" the little boy whisper shouted, as he pushed his way into the room, not waiting for his daddy. He ran to her side and breathlessly recounted his outing that afternoon - Logan had taken him to see a hockey game that was being played at a local rink. "And I got dis," the boy exclaimed excitedly, brandishing a hockey puck. "I'mma gib it to Gabe for he's birfday... but I gets it back when I wanna play wif it, 'kay mommy?" he asked.
"I'm sure Gabe won't mind you playing with it for him," Marie replied with a smile, ruffling the little boys thick, dark hair as he grinned broadly, before running over to the wall and asking daddy to 'reach him up to Gabe'.
Logan picked him up, and helped him to gently place the gift on the shelf, beside the little urn.
"Happy birfday, Gabe," the little boy said, blowing a kiss to his brother's memory before Logan set him back on the floor.
"Daddy, does Ella know it's Gabe's birfday?" the three-year-old asked, moving back to where his sister was still silently suckling and placing a gentle kiss on the top of her head.
"Not yet Cole, she's a little small yet, all she really knows at the moment is mommy, and you, and me, and drinking lots of milk," Logan chuckled, "When she's a bit bigger she'll know about Gabe though, you can tell her all about him one day."
"You're wrong daddy... she knows 'bout yelling too," Cole replied seriously, after a moments consideration.
"Did she wake you up last night too little man?" Marie asked with a smile, catching Logan's chuckle when the little boy responded with an emphatic uh-huh and a vigorous nod. "Well, sorry about that, that's just the only way she knows how to talk at the moment but as she gets bigger she'll learn other ways, and then she won't be so noisy.”
"Was I dat noisy when I was Ella's small?" Cole asked curiously.
"You were so noisy that for a few days daddy had to go sleep down the other end of the hallway because you made his ears bleed," Marie replied in amusement, "But then we figured out why you were yelling so much, then you didn't yell so loud anymore, and daddy could come back." In hindsight it was kind of funny, at the time it hadn't been though. Thankfully, they realised quickly that it was the formula they were trying to feed Cole that was causing his little tummy to be so upset. That had led to several incredible discoveries, discoveries that let Marie not only touch her children, but touch Logan too. Of course, with a newborn baby, and many a baby-related sleepless night, it was some time before they had been able to make use of that discovery.
"Oh, sowwy daddy, I di'n't mean to," Cole said, turning to hug his daddy before he sat in Logan's lap for a cuddle, while mommy cuddled Ella.
"I know you didn't little man," Logan assured the boy, hugging him and kissing the top of his scruffy little head. "Now, what else should we do for Gabriel's birthday?" Logan asked Cole, in a tone that hinted he was forgetting something.
"CAKE!" Cole yelled at the top of his lungs, leaping to his feet with an excited gasp. Immediately Ella opened her mouth, dribbling milk everywhere, as she began to cry loudly. "Ooh, sowwy Ella," Cole whispered, kissing her head softly again as Marie rocked her gently. Once the baby was quiet again, the little family began to get ready to head downstairs.
Every year on the anniversary of Gabriel's birth Marie had baked birthday cake for everyone, her own little tribute to her son. This year, with Marie still recovering from Ella's birth, Jubilee had offered to bake for her. As they stepped into the cafeteria though, the whole family was shocked to see the entire room decorated for a party, a large banner strung up along one wall announcing 'Happy Birthday'. Party poppers went off around the room as they entered, and everyone cheered in celebration before a special dinner was served.
During their meal the Professor approached. "I wanted to check with you first before I made any announcements but with your pregnancy being so timed it didn't seem like a good idea to bring up sooner... we were wondering... would you mind sharing Gabriel's birthday, as a remembrance day for all our little mutant angels who are no longer with us?" he asked gently. There had been a difficult mission several months earlier, where the X-Men had raided a lab, only to find five young mutant children already 'terminated', their little tortured bodies had been recovered and buried on the mansion grounds in a service that had shaken them all.
Logan and Marie shared a glance, both smiling softly, even as Marie felt her eyes flood with tears. "We'd be happy to, Chuck," Logan answered for both of them, sliding his arm around Marie's shoulders, and watching the older man's face light up.
As cake and ice-cream were being served Charles made his announcement, that from this year onward, this date would be a school holiday, to remember all the mutants lost to this world, and unveiling a remembrance wall titled 'Gabriel's Birthday Wishlist'. Gabriel Logan was the first name on the list, and though there were far too many names under his, each name was recognized.
"But... is it all they's birfdays daddy?" Cole asked confused, when the whole room erupted in a horribly off-key rendition of 'happy birthday', giving each lost soul, their own line of recognition.
"They're all kids who live in heaven with Gabriel," Logan explained, "Some of them we don't know when their real birthday is, so Gabriel decided to share his birthday with all of them, so they can all get to have a birthday party with him in heaven and down here with us."
Cole considered this for a moment before replying, "That's nice... I like birfday parties," he added, before stuffing a massive spoonful of cake and ice-cream into his mouth.
Later that night, once the kids were asleep, Marie once again found herself standing in front of their little memorial. It wasn't long before Logan joined her, sliding his arms around her waist, as he kissed her temple tenderly. Eventually he murmured softly, as he tugged her gently toward their bed, "Come on darlin, let him go take care of his angels."
As she closed her eyes, wrapped in Logan's arms, Marie smiled softly as she imagined her son, leading a band of merry little mutant children through heaven, getting up to all sorts of mischief.