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Affliction Sequel: Affirmation

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I'd known for a long time. That he loved me, I mean.

The thing is, I didn't know what to do about it. I didn't really think I would ever need to do anything, to tell you the truth.

It wasn't a big shock to me that I loved him too. I had for a while, and I accepted that. But I assumed that nothing would ever come of it -- he was with Pat, I was with Deb, and that was that. Still, it didn't stop me from thinking about it, every so often. I also thought that if we went on the way we were -- each of us with our feelings for the other and no chance of acting on them -- that nothing would ever happen. That the feelings, even unacknowledged, would be enough. That nothing would ever change.

Until I changed.

That's what happened. I changed, and Deb left. Oh, she never came out and said that she didn't want anything more to do with me, but I know that eventually my lawyer will call with divorce papers I'll need to sign. And then it will be over. I can only pray that we can work out some kind of custody arrangement that at least lets me see my son.

Yes, it still hurts. Wasn't it supposed to be "in sickness and in health"? Even if they do find a cure someday, I couldn't go back to her. Not after how she's treated me. That possessiveness we're so famous for doesn't seem to be operating right now.

Thank God for Ryan. I don't know what I would have done if he hadn't been here. I'd never realized how much I cared about him -- loved him -- before this.

I know, I'd never been with another man before then. We'd joked about it onstage, made veiled references and innuendos, all of us.. but I'd never really done it. Neither had Ryan, even though he was the one who usually made most of the suggestive remarks -- I guess it had been on his mind for a while. But when he actually came out and offered to let me take.. to let me..

I thought, there must be some mistake, hadn't he realized what I meant when I told him what drinking from someone else does to us? Even if he'd wanted a relationship with me before, how could he possibly want me the way I am now? I knew that if we started anything, I wouldn't be able to stop. I wouldn't be able to let him go. He knew it too, and he still offered himself to me.

Neither of us regret any of it.

Sometimes, when I'm alone, I wonder if we ever would have gotten together if it hadn't been for this disease. I like to think that we would have -- if I'd truly known how Ryan felt, *I* would've been the one to make the first move -- but I can't be sure. Maybe, or maybe not. It's hard to tell. Then there are times I wonder what it would have been like if I hadn't gotten the disease, but Ryan had. And I have to think about what I would have done for him.

Would I have offered myself up so willingly to Ryan, had our positions been reversed?

Do you even have to ask?