Title: "Two Trains Traveling"
Author: Mala
E-mail: malisita@yahoo.com
Fandom: "All My Children"
Rating/Classification: PG, Lily/Aidan, ficlet.
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters!
Summary: Some problems are unsolvable.

She takes care not to touch him; her hands are always at least two fingers breadth away from his. Her hair isn't close enough for him to stroke--just in comfort--but he knows it smells like Enchantment. Literally. "I'm enchanting!" she'd announced to him, earnestly, as they walked past the boathouse and at his laugh of "Yes, you are!", she'd shaken her head. It was her "no, let's be serious" head shake. Followed by...

"Erica gave me things so I could smell like a good girlfriend."

He doesn't know quite how to answer things like that. "You are a good girlfriend," he'd whispered, minutes later, knuckles hovering a careful two inches from her perpetually wind-chapped cheeks.

He can do that with Lily. He can take time, be cautious, and she doesn't mind. She's unfailingly focused. She remembers what they were talking about even when he forgets...even if they get caught up in a puzzle or a story problem. He wishes she'd been around when he sat for his A-Levels in maths.

He wishes...a number of things.

That he was fifteen or she twenty-five. That he understood her half as well as she seems to understand him. That he knew, for certain, she would grow up one day. That it was...simple.

"Two trains! Do you know the one about the trains?" Her eyes light up with mischief. She's a smug one, she is. "Can you do that one, Aidan?"

He shoves his hands into his pockets, curling his fingers into the sheepskin lining of his new coat. "The one...the one where the trains are traveling at two different speeds?" he wonders, throat suddenly tight. She nods. "From two different places?" She nods again. Yeah. Right on, then.

"And when will they meet?" she prompts, tilting her head. In another girl, it would be a flirtation. In her, it's just a gesture...perhaps something else Erica has given her.

He blames the cold for the fact that his lips--and his brain--won't move. Two trains traveling. He stares down at her, warm in his borrowed coat, ultra-hip and safe and secure in his sunglasses. That's all she needs. All she wants. All he knows how to give her.

"It's a trick question, isn't it?" He takes care not to touch her; he makes certain his hands are always at least two fingers breadth away from hers. "They can't meet. Ever."

For just the briefest of moments, he imagines that she understands. That her beautiful eyes aren't innocent but all too wise. That, when she says, matter-of-factly, "You're wrong. They meet in two hours," she means she'll meet him, one day, when she's older and cured or better or...or *something*. Just the briefest moment...and then it's gone.

"You're better at this than I am, Lily."

She shakes her head, slowly. *No. Let's be serious.*

But aloud, she tells him, confidently, "I know."



January 5, 2005.

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