DISCLAIMER: Dark Angel not mine, just borrowed for a while. No profits made.
A/N: This one offered in honor of Logan Cale's birthday today, 11/11/88! A big thanks to Mari83 who helped with the French. Any errors are simply my inability to get it right.
Thanks to all who read; any and all reviews or comments would be very much appreciated. No way to know if this works for you or not unless you drop me a line!
November 11, 1988
After months of waiting and hours of work, after the doctor's encouragement, her husband's strength and excitement, and the thrill of those first cries, the room was suddenly hushed and empty – and Sara Cale looked down at the tiny infant – her son – all of fifteen minutes old...
"Hey..." she cooed, softly. "So what do you think of things out here?" The new mother was still dazed and enraptured with the child she held, the one who so recently had grown under her heart. Now he filled it. "Nice to see you, buddy," she whispered...
The door opened again, and Robert's head poked in, momentarily assessing things, before he moved inside, silently. Eyes still shining, he came close to his wife and child, his smile one of a man overwhelmed. "How're you doing?" he asked softly, as he leaned to kiss Sara's brow. He barely heard her answer as he pulled back to stare, transfixed, at his son. "Wow," he managed. As the infant stirred then to open his eyes, blinking even against the dimmed lights of the birthing room, he offered, "He's got your eyes."
Sara laughed. "Not for long – all babies have blue eyes." She looked into her child's face, admiring the perfect features she saw there. "And my son isn't going to have just run-of-the-mill blue eyes..."
"No – they'll be heart-breakingly blue – exactly like yours." Robert smiled, allowing a finger to tenderly trace the baby's cheek.
"Wanna bet me?" Sara challenged, grinning up at her husband.
"How much ya got?" He leaned in again to kiss his wife, long, and pulled back, overcome with emotion. "I love you," he whispered.
"I love you, Robert..." Sara murmured back, her own sparkling blue eyes closed. After a moment, she opened them to ask, almost regretfully, "did you get hold of everyone?"
He nodded, "but I asked them to wait a while, and not come 'til afternoon, at least. I told them you were resting."
"Thank you," she breathed, relaxing into a smile. "I'd rather have some time alone with you two before everyone storms in."
"Me, too." Her husband nodded. "And before 'everyone storms in'..." He reached into the pocket of his sport coat and pulled out a small box wrapped in white, with blue ribbon. "For you."
"Robert..." she smiled, touched, taking the proffered gift.
"Something to help you remember today."
She laughed softy as she pulled away the wrapping paper, cradling her son in her left arm as she managed the gift box with her right hand and her lap. "I have a feeling it won't be that easy to forget." She lifted the lid and pulled away the cotton under it. "Oh, Robert..." Sara looked up to her husband, eyes sparkling for him. "It's beautiful..." She lifted the gold oval locket and cupped it upward in her palm. "As soon as I get a picture of my two men I want to put it inside..." She smiled, then held it out to him. "Put it on me?"
"Sure..." Robert took the locket and started unhooking the clasp, "but will they let you wear it in here?"
"I'm a new mother," she said proudly. "They'll let me do whatever I want." Sara leaned forward to allow her husband to circle her neck with the elegant chain. Once the locket was in place she glanced down to look at it once more, her fingers tracing it admiringly, before she lay back again. "We really did it, Daddy."
"We really did it, Mommy," Robert repeated. "You're sure about the name?"
"Absolutely. Robert Logan Cale, Junior. A chip off the old block."
"I swear I'll deck anyone who calls him 'Junior,'" Robert Logan Cale, Senior, growled.
"Which is why we're calling him Logan," Sara said smoothly, looking up to him for his reaction, and, after a moment, asked, "...what do you think?"
"Logan, huh?" He looked at his son, the eyes long ago having closed back into sleep. "What do you think, Logan?" After a moment of gazing at his sleeping son, Robert shrugged, "I guess he doesn't mind."
"Logan Cale," Sara tried, softly. "You've got your whole life ahead of you." She leaned back more deeply into the pillows, events finally catching up to leave her feeling as sleepy as her son. "And I can't wait to watch you grow..."
November 11, 1998
Logan sat on chair in the hall outside a cubicle labeled "Triage 3." He wasn't as nervous as he'd been three hours ago or so, when his dad had hit a patch of ice and a dip in the hill at the same time, landing awkwardly and hard, in the snow.
The trip had been so great up til then; his dad, always so busy at work and not home most nights until late in the evening, had taken off three whole days for Logan's birthday and a promised ski trip, just the two of them. It was Logan's third year on skis and he loved it, craved it, taking to the slopes like a billy goat, his mother would say, refusing to debate when her son pointed out that goats pretty much jump from crag to bluff, while he whizzed down the hills.
They had been out all day both the first and second days and had been out several hours when it happened. His dad was a terrific skier; everyone said this was a fluke and an unlucky coincidence that the ice patch was so close to a terrain shift, and that he happened to hit it just so. But Logan had never seen his dad hurt, and it was pretty clear right away that his leg had been broken...
In those first moments, Logan was panic stricken – go for help? His dad needed help, and fast, but Logan didn't want to leave him and worried that he might not find him again, not completely certain of their way. But even hurt, his dad's thoughts were calm and clear – and he suggested they try yelling a few times first. "We're not the only ones up here today. Someone might come along..." he told the frightened boy.
And it was only a matter of a few minutes before one of the resort's staff patrol came by to assess the situation and radio for an ATV with a stretcher to take him back. The rescue team acted quickly and professionally, Logan watching silently as the two staffers worked methodically to lift his dad first from the snow then onto the ATV. One of them sat in the back with his dad; the other invited Logan to sit in front with her, which he declined: he wanted to stay close to his father...
From there it was a quick ride to the local emergency room, where Logan was made to wait out in the hall for a while until the initial assessment was done. Since then, he'd been allowed in to see his father a few times, and staff members brought him hot chocolate and frequent updates. His dad was okay, he was joking and mostly embarrassed ... and as the doctor and his staff were finishing the process of getting Robert into a cast, from his toes to up past his knee, Logan was called back again. His dad turned to see him come in.
"Hey, son – you holding up alright?"
"Yeah, sure," he shrugged, looking at his father, relieved to see that he looked okay. With a faint smile, he added, "I'm not the one with the broken leg."
His father chuckled. "Good point." He sobered slightly, and reached out a hand to rub Logan's shoulder affectionately. "I'm sorry I messed up our trip – and on your birthday, too. I guess you know it wasn't something I'd been planning..." At Logan's small smirk, he added, "at least I managed to wait 'til our last day, huh?" He watched his son's face, and tried, "until I took a snow dive – we were having a pretty good time, weren't we?"
Logan looked into his father's grey eyes and saw that his father really cared whether he was enjoying himself – and for the first time in his life knew, without a doubt, that if his dad could be home more often, to be with him and his mom more often, he would be. His smile widened in genuine response. "It's been great."
"Good." Logan would never forget the look of relief that he saw in his father's face, to know he'd made his son happy. His father then turned to the doctor, who was noting something in a chart at the bedside. "Hey doc ... you know, after we fly back home tomorrow ... I was supposed to turn around and leave right away for a business trip..." With a pause for a sly smile toward Logan, his father went on, "I don't suppose that ... because of the leg ... I ought to cancel, and just stay home for a week or so?"
Eyes widening in sudden hope, Logan held his breath and turned to the doctor, waiting. The doctor glanced up at his patient, at first ready to clear him for travel, but then saw the look in the boy's face... in his father's... and a smile quirked along his lips. "I think that sounds like just what the doctor ordered." He stood aside as a wheelchair was brought in by one assistant and a pair of crutches by another, and offered a steadying hand as his patient sat up on the table and gingerly swung his legs off the side.
"Well, what do you say, Logan?" Robert Cale looked back to his son. "I guess I'm stuck around the house for a few days. Think Mom will be mad?"
"I think she'll be okay," Logan beamed.
"I'll be pretty bored, though. Maybe we could try out that new chess set your grandfather gave you – if you want to keep your old man company."
"Yeah," Logan nodded. His smile lit the room, the doctor noted, smiling to himself as well...
"Good." Robert pivoted on his good leg to plop down in to the wheelchair. "Now – maybe I'm done skiing for this trip – but let's say we find you some pizza and a birthday cake." He watched his son nod again quickly, dimples still deep in his smile. Suddenly not really minding the broken leg, Robert glanced back at the orderly waiting to take him out to the cab. "Let's roll," he grinned up to his son.
November 11, 2008
The train was starting to decrease its speed as they neared the station by the chalet. He was in good company; lots of other students and vacationers heading out for a day of skiing surrounded him, their skis slipped in to the built-in, overhead racks, their boots tied at the laces and draped around their necks. Most were laughing and chattering; all seemed to be in pairs or larger groups.
But Logan had come alone...
"Viens avec moi en Suisse ce week-end," he had said to his current fling, the one with the wide, dark eyes. "On peut skier... snuggle... calîner," he corrected.
"Je dois étudier," she had pouted, prettily.
"On peut étudier. Je promets...he'd lied.
But he hadn't really wanted her along, hadn't wanted anyone along, this trip. He was in the mood to be alone, and was actually relieved when she stayed behind to study after all.
Logan had been in Europe since the end of spring semester, wandering around Italy and Spain with no set course, occasionally meeting up with friends and even his cousin for a two week stay in Rome. His fall term would be spent in Paris, before he returned to his final semester in January, back in New Haven.
He'd found that he liked the solitude of traveling in new, foreign places where no one knew him, no one had expectations or demands, where he could think and write and observe people in all manner of cultures and backdrops ... he'd been to Europe with his family several times before but always in the best hotels, in pristine conditions, waited on hand and foot. But on his own, on foot and by train, he saw so much more, saw the real life in the countries he visited. The world was so wide, was so beautiful and so horrible, so crisp and so dank, so filled with extremes...
He'd become even quieter and more thoughtful, the more he'd seen. So many people wanting, so many people with more than they needed ... he felt the contradiction pulling at him but had no idea what to make of it. He had started his fall studies at the Université Paris Sorbonne, making some new acquaintances, dating some women here and there, but all feeling a separation, a distance, that he hadn't before. It wasn't uncomfortable or depressing; he'd felt alone since his parents died so it wasn't a new experience. But it was different; something was calling for his attention, for his involvement, but he couldn't yet tell what it was. After weeks of it he finally had decided to relax and let it find him...
The train came to a rest and the skiers piled out onto the platform. It wasn't hard to find the best slopes; he had only to eavesdrop and follow the crowds. As he stepped out into the crisp air again and walked up toward the lifts, his mood lifted as well. Almost like being back skiing with Dad, he remembered, missing his father but still smiling with the memory...
...up here in the rarified Alpine air, the sun shining and his thoughts his own, Logan felt freer than he had in a long while. His time would come soon, but not yet; as strongly as the feeling had pulled at him, his fate would find him. And as he came up to the window to buy his lift ticket, passing through his student ID for the better rates, the ruddy faced woman at the counter took a second look at his ID and looked up again to him, smiling broadly. "Bon anniversaire," she beamed.
Almost like being back, skiing with Dad, he remembered as he thanked her and pushed on toward the slopes. He'd give all he had if he could spend just one more birthday skiing with his father. But this birthday would be a solo ski, and that was okay. Just knowing that his dad would be here, if he could, helped him get through the worst. Happy birthday, Logan Cale, he smiled softly. Bon anniversaire...
November 11, 2018
The air was getting thinner.
Or so he thought.
Don't be stupid, he chided himself. Rank, maybe. But thinner... doubtful.
Eyes Only had been on the trail of the black market profiteer for fifteen months now, through several layers of local weapons traders and gang banger middlemen, patiently watching and waiting for the proof he needed. And this is the payoff? he thought to himself, the cramps in his long legs and shoulders keeping him awake. This informant sucks, he reflected. Or at least his timing does...
The informant's timing might be bad but his information appeared to be good: he was right when he said he could get Logan a close up into the big man's deal. He certainly had; and when the black market kingpin, whose sales of illegal weapons extended to gangs, thugs, drug dealers, and other illegal actors all along the Pacific coast struck his deal with the mayor of Seattle to give him free reign in the city, Logan Cale had been literally five feet away...
...and literally crammed into a crawl space below the floorboards, amid dust and dirt and things he really tried hard not to imagine...
He'd been there nearly nine hours now, unmoving; the all clear signal hadn't been given yet, even though the meeting between the weapons dealer and the mayor's chief of staff had been over nearly thirty minutes before. Well, the whole thing was late; who knows why. Probably better to be cramped than discovered by those clowns...
Logan mentally reviewed once again the information he'd learned, outlining the hack he could now prepare, in case the small MP3 player he carried failed to record as it should. He tried to keep his mind alert so he wouldn't miss the signal. It's gotta be after midnight by now, he reasoned...
Midnight. Midnight, and now it's November 11th. Oh, great. You're thirty years old and you're playing James Bond in a flop-house crawl space. Love what you've done with your life...
Thirty years old... What would Mom and Dad think, if they knew about all this? About Eyes Only? It was pretty clear what Aunt Margo would think, and he'd even heard Uncle Jonas rant on about "that menace" on TV ... but he always believed his parents would have understood, and held a deep-seated hope that they might even be proud...
...but neither would be happy about this fix, he mused. Mom? Dad? If you've been there to hear me, all these years ... I sure hope this doesn't bother you too much...
There it was – finally! The sound of a car horn, two short blasts, then a police siren. Thanks, Matt, he thought silently, as he started to move, his cramped muscles screaming. Unfolding from his hiding space and stretching briefly to move more quickly and quietly, Eyes Only stole silently across the room to the door, and slipped out into the darkened alley. He breathed deeply and, walking quickly, put as much distance as he could between himself and the flophouse, relaxing more the further he got. After he reached his car and started it up, he drove rapidly through darkened streets up to the interstate, where he stepped on the clutch and shifted the low slung sports car into sixth gear, heading toward Sector Nine, his face set with grim determination. He'd gotten the connection he needed.
And tomorrow, Seattle's going to know that the mayor has been funding the gun runners along the coast, Logan vowed. All in all... a pretty good way to celebrate a birthday...
November 11, 2028
There were more stifled giggles and a whispered, lisped directive. "...try again..."
"He's asleep..." came the protest.
"...but his breakfast is ready now..."
Logan felt his grin quirk up, no matter how hard he tried to pretend he was asleep.
He suddenly rattled the windows with a long, loud, feigned snore...
...and the two munchkins at his side squealed in surprise and dissolved once again into giggles. "Happy birthday, Unca' Logan!" they chorused, jumping at his bedside. "We made you breakfast!"
"Breakfast?" He popped an eye open to ask. "Breakfast...?" he teased, looking past them to see the fuzzy form of Max leaning in the doorway. "Is it formal? Should I change?" He reached for his glasses on the night stand, the trio surrounding him coming into focus.
"No..!" they still giggled, chorusing again, despite not really getting the joke. "Aunt Max, can we bring it in now?" Robin, the older of the two by five minutes, looked to her 'aunt.'
She nodded, and pushed off the doorway. "How about I give Uncle Logan his coffee while you do?" At their enthusiastic nods, Max came over toward the bed. "Carry it in carefully, like we practiced, okay?"
"Okay!" the chorus came again, and the little girls ran out to the kitchen as Logan pulled up to sit against the headboard and Max sat beside him.
"Happy birthday," she smiled, warmly, leaning for a kiss before handing him his coffee. "Bet you weren't expecting breakfast in bed."
"Not such an energetic one, no," he laughed. "It's going to be awfully quiet around here when Bennett and Marianne get back." And it wouldn't be long. But with Bennett at Cale Industries' offices in Zurich these past three weeks, with Marianne along for the trip with him, the previously cool, quiet penthouse had been alive with the energy, noise and wonder of two little girls. And the thought of them leaving made Logan realize how much he would miss them...
"We could borrow them back for the weekend every so often." Max teased. "At least we can use them as an excuse today, why we're going to celebrate the 'big four-oh' for you at the zoo."
"I thought everyone had their fortieth at the zoo – hey!" The three and a half year old Cale sisters had returned, carefully carrying Uncle Logan's breakfast – which appeared to be a balloon-festooned tray bearing French toast, strawberries and ... "pickles?" he asked, as Max stood back up to let them deliver their surprise.
"They're my favorite," Callie asserted.
Logan nodded, "I like 'em too, Callie." He looked the tray over, then turned back to the girls. "Wow, you three have been busy. Did you girls teach Aunt Max how to make French toast?" he smirked up toward Max, who rolled her eyes, silently enjoying the show.
"Yes!" The chorus was back.
"Where's your breakfast?" Logan tried. "Do you want to help me eat all this?"
"Okay," Callie offered.
"We ate breakfast," Robin elaborated. "But we can help you eat too..."
Logan chuckled, and said to Max, lifting an eyebrow, "are we sure Bennett's my cousin and not yours?" He looked back to the beaming faces and said, "well, come on, you two, it's not breakfast in bed unless you're up here in bed, too." And he barely lifted the tray up from his lap in time before the pair scrambled up with him, bouncing them all. "C'mon, Max, there's plenty for you, too."
"C'mon, Aunt Max," Callie helped. With a grin, Max joined the trio and leaned in, playfully, to draw her finger through the syrup and pop it in her mouth. She hummed her satisfaction to the cooks.
"We have more balloons in the living room," Robin said, conversationally, as Logan lifted a strawberry to Max's lips, smiling as she took it.
"And you have presents," Callie told him, eyes wide as she remembered.
"Then we better eat fast, so I can go open them." Breakfast soon became a bit of a sticky affair, with bites of syrup-laden French toast all around, even more giggles, and a sweet domesticity that left Logan feeling a little sad, amid all the fun. Bennett, I hope you realize how lucky you are, having such a family, he found himself thinking. Maybe it was just too much, hoping that he and Max could have this life. What with his spinal cord injury, Max's genetic make-up, and Eyes Only in the mix, it just might be beyond reason to even hope for it. Still ... look at how Max gets along with the girls, he listened as they chattered about their plans for the zoo. At least you have Callie and Robin, and a cousin who lets you be a part of their lives... "The monkeys are the best," he asserted, joining in. "And if I get a birthday vote, I say we start with the monkeys."
Fifteen minutes and a plate of French toast later, Max came out of the bathroom with two warm, wet washcloths and, handing one to Logan, went out toward the kitchen to track down Robin. "Okay, Callie-mae, let's see your hands," he began. The little girl dutifully shifted around on the bed to kneel in front of Logan and let him scrub off first one sticky hand, then the other. "Your breakfast was delicious, you know that?" Logan peered up at her. As she nodded, beaming, Max came back into the doorway to watch the proceedings.
"You've got this surrogate dad thing down to a science."
He looked over to Max briefly from the second set of little pink fingers he was wiping off and chuckled, looking back to his work. "Yeah, who'd'a thought it, right?" After a couple quick wipes to Callie's chin, he tweaked her nose and smiled to the cherubic face waiting for him to finish. "All set," he pronounced.
"Thank you!" As the moppet bounced off the bed and went running off to find her sister, Max came in toward the bed, noting the warm, affectionate gaze from the man she loved as his eyes followed the child. She drew a deep breath.
"So ... maybe you've had enough practice as a surrogate..." Max began. She watched closely, carefully, as Logan suddenly blinked up to her, his eyes asking if she'd meant to say what he thought he heard. She wasn't aware that she was biting her lip, but it was actually what convinced Logan he'd heard her, loud and clear.
"What if I have?" he asked in a whisper, waiting.
"Then that's good," she nodded, the idea still so new that it struck her all over again, this first time giving voice to it. "... all the practice. What with those 'stubborn' genes and all, when he gives us grief..."
"...or she...?" Logan dared the question, his voice still barely audible.
"Or she." Max agreed, trying a small smile, not fully sure of his reaction just yet.
"They said that the odds were ... awfully high," he managed ... and his vision rippled momentarily with the moisture that suddenly prickled in his eyes as he reached out his hand for her.
"Yeah, well... that stubborn thing again." Her smile suddenly broke free and dazzled, her face alight with the news. She took his hand but came closer still, guiding his hand, with her fingers entwined, around her waist as she sat close beside him. "Happy birthday, Logan."
"Max..." he breathed, still dazed ... and then he, too, smiled widely, overjoyed, and sat forward to kiss her, long, before pulling back, eyes dancing. "You wouldn't kid an old man..."
"Life begins at 40, Logan," she grinned for him. "Your life ... and this one..." She lifted his hand to place it on her still firmly flat belly.
He let his hand move softly from one hipbone to the other, imagining, and lifted his eyes back to hers. "It's the best present yet," he said softly.
He nodded. "With all my heart..." Max leaned in to offer another sweet, long kiss, laughing a little at the sounds of a balloon suddenly bursting and childish squeals of delight in response, and Logan held her close to him, gently laughing along with her. As she pulled away to look back at him, her love for him clear in her eyes, Logan sighed his amazement. Hearing children playing happily in the living room, and looking back to the beautiful woman in his arms, he lifted Max's hand to his lips, kissing it sweetly, and decided all four decades had been worth it. "Happy birthday to me," he pronounced...