Wade side-eyed his partner in fatherhood as he fought for control over his temper one morning in early December, the Danger Vein™ (he knows it’s actually an artery, shut up) pulsing threateningly as he stared down their daughters. The shorter man pinched the bridge of his nose and huffed out a breath.
“Anyone want to explain what a whole-ass pine tree is doin’ shoved up the chimney?” Logan growled.
They were definitely bad parents, Wade thought, if the complete lack of fear or contrition on their girls’ sweet little faces in the face of Angry Wolive was anything to go by.
“Don’t be dramatic, Papa,” Ellie said, all dimples. “It’s not ‘shoved’ anywhere. It’s just laying there.”
“And the top bit happens to be in the fireplace,” Laura said, crossing her arms as she stood in front of their piney prize.
As much as Wade would love to see where this little exchange would go, that artery in his lover’s forehead looked like it was about to pop. Ah, well, there were worse things than being the voice of reason.
“Don’t get us wrong, kiddos, that tree kicks some major botanical bootie,” Wade grinned, drawing his lover in for a side hug, fingers rubbing soothingly over his hip. “I think my good pal, Sideburns, was trying to ask why it’s here.”
“How would be good, too,” Logan grumbled, still stern, but muscles loosening at the contact.
“It’s our Yule log!” Ellie chirped. “Or, well, it will be,” she amended. “Laura and I thought it would be super great to celebrate Yule right this year! Since it’s our first time and all.”
Laura rolled her eyes, but smiled. “Yeah. We had to write an English paper last year about our family’s holiday traditions, and we realized we didn’t have any. So the teacher said we could research a winter holiday instead. Yule looked like fun.”
“So we decided to celebrate this year! It’s awesome because we get to chop down a tree. And set it on fire!” Ellie grinned, eyes alight with that special brand of childhood glee that goes hand in hand with playing with dangerous substances. Wade was so proud.
“You mean you got to chop down a tree. I got to slice it down,” Laura smirked, her hand and foot claws snicking into place. Damn, now Wade had to be a Parent.
“Ellie, what did Logan and I tell you about using the shed tools without supervision?” Wade said sternly, crossing his arms over his chest.
Ellie deflated, bottom lip sticking out in a pout. “Not to. But I couldn’t let Laura have all the fun. And I chop firewood by myself!”
Wade was ready to deliver a rousing lecture about semantics when Laura sprang into action.
“It wasn’t her fault!” Laura said, eyes fierce. It always made Wade warm and fuzzy when Laura defended her chosen sister. “I was the one who wanted to surprise you.”
Dang, that was playing dirty. How was Wade supposed to argue with that?
Luckily, he didn’t have to. Logan softened as much as any gruff old man in a forty-year-old’s body could, and got down on one knee and opened his arms, inviting the girls in for a group hug. They accepted enthusiastically, and Wade didn’t hesitate before jumping in, too.
“You did surprise us. Thank you, sweethearts.” He gave the girls an affectionate squeeze before drawing back to look them in the eyes. “You’re both still in trouble. But after you’re done cleaning the floor, we can talk about how we should celebrate this year.”
Needless to say, Ellie and Laura weren’t too upset, because once the wood floors of their cabin were scrubbed free of mud and errant pine needles, Logan exactly as he said. It quickly became clear the girls already had a plan.
Every evening after dinner, they’d sit on the couch together and watch the tree burn, inch by inch. It was cozy, snuggled up together with snow on the ground. (Of course, it was even nicer once all the needles finally dried out and the smoke wasn’t as bad.) And Logan was a good sport, despite the number of times Wade had heard him swearing over a stubbed toe.
As the month wore on, the tree shrunk while the small snow-covered cabin in the woods grew more festive. The girls drug both men outside after school in search of holly, ivy, and mistletoe, but walked away disappointed. After three days, Wade had enough. The girls squealed in delight when they found all three laid out prettily in a fairy ring not too far from the house. Wade smiled, shoving the wrappings deeper in his back pocket. Logan shot him a grateful look, glad to be done with the outdoor expeditions. Or so they thought.
“What do you mean we need another tree ? Logan growled a couple of days before Winter Solstice Eve. Wade carried the axe and Logan dragged home a handsome little evergreen while the girls collected pinecones and winter berries for decoration. Wade drew the line at using candles to light the branches, and bought white electric lights instead. Laura grumbled about historical accuracy, but later insisted that they get enough to decorate the outside of the house, too.
So the day before the Solstice, she was (wisely) supervising Wade while he strung lights from the roof. Laura set out birdseed and nuts for the animals, while Logan helped Ellie bake. Wade hung upside down from the gutters to peek in at them; Ellie ran a tight ship, directing Logan, who was looking especially broad in one of her frilly Ellie-sized aprons. (Wade had paid for peeping once the girls had gone to bed. Pay attention kids; wolf-whistling is a no-no if you’re in stealth mode.)
The next day, the festivities began. The girls insisted that Wade and Logan help them decorate the log left over from the original tree with ribbon and greenery. They had them write down things they wanted to let go of for the following year along with goals and wishes, and tied them to the log as well.
Then Wade and Logan settled the log into the middle of the fireplace, setting up materials for a smaller fire around it. Then Logan poured a measure of his favorite whiskey on the log, and lit the small fire while Wade brought the couch over so the family could easily watch the decorated log ignite.
They exchanged stories. Logan gave a dramatic retelling of his and Wade’s first meeting, which had the girls rolling on the floor with laughter. They ate sugar cookies (“They’re shaped like Maple leaves as an apology for you two being the worst Canadians ever”), cupcakes, and sipped hot cider, enjoying the warmth of the fire and company as the hours ticked by.
Around midnight, when the log was about halfway gone, Wade realized Logan had been quiet the past couple of hours. Wade nudged the shorter man where he sat, watching the girls work on filling a scrapbook with memories of the year.
“Hey, you okay?” Wade muttered.
“I’m fine, sweetheart,” Logan said. Then he stood abruptly, startling the girls. “‘Scuse me a minute.” He walked to their bedroom and closed the door.
Both girls were frozen on the floor, Ellie biting her bottom lip and Laura’s eyes tight with worry. Laura made to go after him, but Wade just guided the girls to sit on either side of him on the couch. He pulled their small bodies against his. “Just give you Papa a minute. It’s been awhile for us both.”
“Isn’t he happy?” Ellie asked, forehead creased.
Wade kissed her hair. “I know he is, sweetheart.”
“I am,” Logan confirmed, coming around to the front of the couch, voice low and rough as he knelt in front of all three of them. “I can’t remember everything about my life, especially Before, but I know I’ve never been so happy. I know, okay? And I owe it all to you, Eleanor,” he kissed her hand, “And you, Laura,” he kissed her hand as well, “And you, Wade Wilson.”
Wade held his hand out for a kiss, but Logan just grasped it in his, and reached out for the other. Wade raised a bald eyebrow at him, but Logan just squeezed. Then Logan looked to the girls, with a hint of a sheepish grin. “I apologize, girls. I know we agreed to exchange gifts later, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. I’ve been waiting for the right moment for awhile, and now...well…”
He gave Wade’s hands another squeeze. “Wade, you know better than anyone that I haven’t had much luck in holding on to the good things in my life. It wasn’t always my fault, but a lot of times, it was because I was afraid.”
Logan bit his lip, and it suddenly felt like it was only the two of them. “I was afraid of a lot of things, and I let that fear stop me from holding too tightly to the things, no, the people I care about.” The corner of Logan’s mouth curled ruefully. “I’m not saying I’ve changed. I haven’t. But maybe I want to start to hold on to important things again.” Logan gave Wade’s hands one final squeeze before releasing them, and digging around in his pocket.
He took out a box, and Wade honest-to-Death squealed along with the girls, both hands cupping his mouth and nose.
Logan grinned as he opened it up, revealing an engagement band set with a large red stone. “Guess what I’m trying to ask, bub, is if you’d like to make it of--mmph!”
Wade threw himself off the couch and into Logan’s arms, swallowing his tongue with a rough kiss. When he pulled back, both Laura and Ellie dogpiled on top, and they remained in a group hug until the Yule log gave a particularly loud pop.
The celebration lasted twelve days. Twelve days of eating homemade goodies and staying in their pajamas, and Wade and Logan giving the girls the presents that they had managed to hide using methods that Wade would never reveal (for many reasons). But no happiness could compare to the kind they experienced ringing in the calendar New Year, knowing that by this time next Yule, they would all be family on paper just as they already were in each other’s hearts.