Title: "Eternal Sunshine"
Author: monimala
Fandom: All My Children
Rating/Classification: futurefic, angst, LAid, suitable for all audiences.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: He's a cheater just the same.

He never pays for it. All it takes is a smile, an offer of drinks, ejecting some tosser from the adjoining seat, sometimes even just the first word out of his mouth and a touch of his mum's blarney. And they have a dram or two, enough to keep the flesh willing and the soul dulled, before going someplace private. Some place where he can turn out the lights and shut everything off and do what needs to be done.

Between the hours of midnight and four, he doesn't think, he doesn't feel, he doesn't love, and he doesn't give. He just takes and takes and takes. And they never mind. They never pass judgment. Whatever it is they're looking for, it's equally fleeting, equally insubstantial and inconsequential.

Equally a lie and a truth.

At first, he tried dating girls like Anita, like Erin. But it was hardly fair. Hardly anything. He couldn't keep squiring them about at the Valley Inn, BJs, and pretending that it was anything more than what he gets from the anonymous women he meets now.

At least this way, he's only being unfair after the sun sets and before it rises.

Lily's high school graduation.

Her eighteenth birthday.

Her nineteenth, twentieth, and 21st.

Easters, Christmases, Boxing Day.

Even sodding Guy Fawkes.

"What's your name?" they always ask him, stealing glances at his naked left hand with relief. He's called himself Ethan and Ryan and Tad and the Devil's Own...but the one thing he can't be called is married. No rings, no telltale white lines to showcase his betrayal. Still, he's a cheater just the same.

When Lily turned 21, he gave her exactly three sips of champagne because she likes prime numbers and a chaste kiss on the lips.

She's 22 now. He's 31. And they've been together six years. He would kill for her and die for her and he loves it when her hand steals into the crook of his arm to tug him across the room. "Come on, Aidan, you're missing it!" she'll tell him. She loves the History Channel. She can watch it for hours. Which is why she never notices he's gone.

"She's not equipped to be your wife, Aidan!" Jackson reminds him at least twice a day. "And so help me God, if you hurt her..."

So help him God.

Lily's father has no idea. No idea what it's like to be with a girl with a siren's body and a mind that's half-child, half-genius. No idea what it's like to love a girl who comes home from an endless parade of Life Skills classes with questions like, "Why don't we have sex, Aidan?" or "Will you have a baby with me, Aidan?"

Jack has never had to tell Lily "no." He's never had to answer those "why"s.

Jack has had the wedding, the wedding night. Jack has beautiful daughters that look like their mothers and all the hope in the world of growing old in Erica's arms.

And Aidan has tightly held hands. Hugs. Heads bent over crossword puzzles. Sunglasses he slides on her face so she won't get hysterics at the sight of her own red blood every month.

She's his best friend, his partner, his bright midday sun. They solve mysteries and laugh at knock-knock jokes and count ceiling tiles to while away the hours. They babysit her niece and nephew and pretend it'll do. They sit side by side at Thanksgiving and break apart the wishbone. They count down to every new year.

Lily Montgomery is the love of his life.

But he makes love to a dozen someone elses.

And he never pays for it.

Except every time he does.

--end--

December 5, 2005.



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