[identity profile] zoicite.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] z_fic
Title: So Tonight That I Might See
Fandom: Jesus Christ Superstar (2012 Broadway Revival)
Pairing: Judas/Mary, Judas/Jesus, Mary/Jesus
Word Count: ~22,600
Rating: NC-17
Notes: Based on the characterizations depicted in the 2012 Broadway Revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. Set approximately 6 months prior to the events of the musical. (Loosely utilizes events from John 7:1. Very little else has any resemblance to anything in the Bible whatsoever.)
Warnings: Uh. You can probably guess what most of the warnings would be based on the subject and the pairings, so you know, if you think that will bother you, don’t read, please? Also, there’s some violent-ish dream stuff in here as well.
Summary: There had never been anyone else. No one else that could make Judas feel this. Mary, yes, but it was different. Mary infuriated him and she delighted him. She surprised him and soothed him. But Jesus - Jesus paralyzed him.



So Tonight That I Might See

Jesus was quiet ahead of him as they moved through the streets of Tiberias. There were more soldiers here than there were the last time they passed through. It wasn’t hard to guess why. The Pharisees hadn’t lied. People were talking. Herod was growing weary of them and people were getting scared.

Jesus turned back to make sure that Judas was still with him.

“I’m here,” Judas said, his voice barely above a whisper.

When this started, they moved out in the open. They laughed and inspired those who stopped to listen. The sun shone on their faces in the town squares, before the Temple in Jerusalem. They didn’t rush quietly through alleys and back streets. They weren’t forced to meet in secret, to secure lodgings away from the crowds.

Everything was changing. It was happening so quickly, quicker than even Jesus could have imagined.

Jesus stopped abruptly in front of him and Judas, lost in thought, stepped into him from behind. Jesus turned and pressed Judas back against the wall, stilling Judas as he listened. Judas's heart jumped. He tried to listen as well, but it was hard to hear anything over the pounding in his own chest.

That afternoon the group of Pharisees had approached Judas first. They’d warned of a plot, of Herod’s plans to kill Jesus. Judas had rushed to Jesus immediately, had pulled him over to listen to the men’s words.

“We should leave Galilee,” Judas pressed. “Regroup in Capernaum, head east into Gaulanitis and let Herod cool.”

Jesus' words in front of the Pharisees had been sure, dismissive and pompous, and even when he was alone with Judas, Jesus refused to retreat. Judas begged him and Jesus took Judas's face in this hands, smiled when Judas kissed his cheek, but would not back down.

“What did you mean?” Judas asked, the question that had been nagging at him since the exchange in the square. “What did you mean when you told them that no prophet should die away from Jerusalem?”

“Only that it won‘t happen here,” Jesus replied, taking Judas's hand between his. “Not now.”

Judas shook his head, but Jesus was stubborn. “Three more days,” he insisted. “Not until then will we move on.”

Now though, the city shrouded in darkness, Jesus was tense beside him. He was scared, Judas thought, his breath was just as ragged as Judas's here, hidden between these crumbling walls. Jesus pressed close against him, as though he could make them both disappear, melt into the stones of the wall. Judas reached up, his fingers twisting for just a moment in the cloth at Jesus' shoulder before falling away.

Finally, Judas felt Jesus relax. He sighed beside Judas and his body seemed to deflate with it, his back curling in, bringing them even closer in the dark. Jesus turned toward Judas, so close that the tip of his nose brushed Judas's forehead.

“There is no one,” Jesus confirmed, and before Judas could reach for him, Jesus stepped away, proceeded down the alley. Judas hung back for a moment. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath. It was nothing. There was no one there.

When Judas opened his eyes, Jesus was farther away, waiting for him, and Judas pushed himself away from the wall and rushed to catch up.

**

She was watching him again. Mary, out of bed, her illness dispelled, watched them all. Judas could feel her eyes, large and dark, as they followed him through the crowded room. The merchant had opened his doors to them and there were many here, more than the twelve, more than the twenty there had been the previous night.

“We’ve grown,” Judas noted when Peter came to stand beside him, a smile playing at his lips. Judas tried to smile in return, but he knew it looked strained. “Do you think it wise?”

“They followed us,” Peter said. “We can’t turn them away now.”

“We need to be more careful,” Judas said. Jesus had been careful. Judas had been saying it for months, perhaps a year now if he looked back. He’d been saying it since Jesus was expelled from Nazareth the second time. He had to be more careful. Their position was delicate. Rome was quick to anger, quick to react with force.

Beside him, Peter shrugged. Peter had been spending his days on the southern end of the city. He hadn’t heard the warning of the Pharisees, the murmurs through the crowd. He hadn’t felt Jesus tremble beside him in the night. Judas pulled Peter aside. He told Peter of the warning in a rush of hushed whispers, relayed to him Jesus' response.

“We’re safe here,” Peter reassured Judas, his hand firm on Judas's arm. He was still smiling, as though he was merely amusing Judas, wasn’t listening at all. “We’re safe here for now.”

“Maybe,” Judas agreed. He watched, distracted for a moment as Mary slipped out of the merchant’s home. Jesus had retreated by the same path moments before.

Beside him Peter chuckled.

“What is it?” Judas asked, turning his attention back to Peter.

“She upsets you,“ he said, nodded toward the now empty doorway.

“No,” Judas said.

Peter shrugged. “Everything upsets you. Jesus enjoys her company.”

“She - “

“You shouldn’t listen to Thomas,” Peter pointed out.

There was talk. Mary’s sister had implied to Thomas that Mary’s profession in Magdala had been less than virtuous. A prostitute, a whore. It may be gossip, nothing more. It may be rivalry or jealousy, but it felt like the truth. It didn’t matter, Judas knew. Not here. Look at Matthew. Look at any of them. But still, it troubled Judas, the way that she watched him. Regardless of what she had done before, it was what she did now that unsettled him.

“It isn’t that,” Judas said. “It’s - she’s unsettling.”

“Everything unsettles you,” Peter repeated. He reached out, pulled Judas into a hug, his mouth close to Judas's ear when he continued. “I think she’s pretty too.”

**

It seemed that it was only yesterday that they were brought to Mary, lying feverish on a bed of blankets in her father’s home. Judas had sat beside her. He‘d wiped her brow. He hadn‘t expected that she would come with them when they moved on. Judas hadn’t expected that she would be going anywhere ever again, but Jesus had wanted to wait. He‘d watched the color fade from her cheeks. He set a hand on Judas's shoulder, his fingers firm. Judas wasn’t the one who needed the comfort. He reached up and covered Jesus‘ hand with his own.

“She isn’t going to wake,” Judas said. He’d rarely seen anyone so sick. Jesus squeezed his shoulder, turned his palm and took Judas's hand in his.

There was nothing to be done. There was nothing to do but wait, and so they did. Mary‘s father broke bread with them, Mary‘s sister poured their wine, and together they waited. Judas was surprised to find the next morning that some of the color had returned to Mary‘s cheeks. Two days later, she opened her eyes.

Jesus had smiled at Judas and Judas thought it beautiful. He turned to Mary and thought her beautiful as well. And then Jesus embraced her and from that day on Mary was joined with them, one of them.

It hadn’t been long ago at all.

Now Judas watched as Mary cared for Jesus, as she stroked his cheek. He felt a twist in his gut and he knew it was jealousy, but he didn’t understand it. When Peter retreated from his side, Judas stepped toward the opening of a window. He looked out on them. Mary sat beside Jesus on a bench. They didn’t touch. They didn’t even look at one another.

Mary spoke, though Judas couldn’t hear the words, and after a moment, Jesus laughed.

Judas watched as Mary smiled too, as she stared up at the stars. She was still beautiful, but she was different now as well. She wasn’t what Judas had expected her to be. She was harder, sure and direct, quiet. She wasn’t what Judas had expected at all. She turned then and Judas flinched and backed away, but it was too late. She saw him and she stood, left Jesus without a word and was by Judas's side in a moment.

“I haven’t thanked you,” Mary said. “Thank you.”

Judas didn’t respond. He looked away from her, turned back toward Jesus, but it didn’t deter her. He knew that it wouldn’t.

“You dislike me,” Mary continued. “I can see that. Yet I know that you were there. I felt your hands and I heard your voice.”

“I don’t know you,” Judas countered. He did look at her now, had to. “How can I dislike you?”

“You don’t want to know me,” Mary agreed, her chin turned up toward him, her mouth a line.

**

Mary tended the fire. Judas watched as she pushed her skirts aside, crouched down beside the flames. The smell of the cooking fish was fragrant in the air. Mary directed the women who helped her as though this was her natural position in the order of things. No one looking at her would dare question that she was the head of these women, that she knew exactly what she was doing.

Judas felt a hand on his back and, startled, he turned to find Jesus standing beside him. Jesus smiled and sat down. Judas watched as Jesus removed his sandals and rubbed his feet, kneading them with the tips of his fingers. They’d walked the entire day and had covered a good distance. They were all a little sore, a little worn.

“I thought you’d be relieved to leave Tiberias,” Jesus said, turning toward Judas. “But you don’t look relieved.”

“I am relieved,” Judas said. “That city closes in around you until you feel as though you can’t breathe.”

“We weren’t in danger there,” Jesus pointed out.

“You don’t know that,” Judas countered. “And I know that you were frightened. I was there beside you.”

Jesus nodded toward Simon, who leaned over a map some distance away. “You don’t want to help Simon plan the route? He finds it strange that you‘re sitting here alone, apart from the others.”

Ah, so that was why Jesus had approached. He’d expected that Judas, who had pushed to leave Tiberias, would continue to push now that they had left. But Jesus hadn’t listened to Judas then. Judas knew Jesus. He knew that Jesus would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles. Now though -

“We’re going north,” Judas shrugged. “To Capernaum, I assume.” It was what he would have chosen.

“To Capernaum,” Jesus agreed.

Judas nodded. “Not south to Jerusalem?”

Jesus frowned. “You wish to go to Jerusalem?”

“No,” Judas said. “But I thought -”

Jesus was smiling at him.

“What is it?”

“You listen so intently to my words, Judas, yet you always choose the wrong ones on which to dwell.”

“Which words are those?” Judas asked.

Jesus laughed and it felt like it had been a long time since Judas had heard it. He couldn’t help but smile in return.

“The good ones,” Jesus said. His hand fell hard on Judas's back as he rubbed circles against the fabric of Judas's cloak. Judas leaned back into it, chose not to press the issue. For now they were going to Capernaum. When they turned south again he would try to intervene.

Jesus nodded toward Mary, still crouched before the fire. Judas looked up and saw that Mary turned quickly away from them, caught.

“She watches you,” Jesus noted.

“She’s watching you,” Judas countered with a shake of his head.

Jesus stopped the movement of his hand against Judas's back. He leaned against Judas's shoulder as he stood. He left his sandals in the grass beside Judas, but before he walked away, he turned back and smiled. “Perhaps she watches us both.”

**

The crowd in Capernaum grew quickly, coming to gather and listen to the words that Jesus spoke. He spoke of love and hope. He spoke in riddles and parables that were easily translated into lessons that the people could apply to their lives. Their faces told Judas that they were in love, in love with Jesus’ voice and the words that he said, in love with the way that his hands reached out to touch each and every one of them. They were falling in love with him the same way that the disciples had two years earlier, the same way that Judas had fallen. If Judas closed his eyes, if he just listened, he would gladly do it all over again. He would leave everything behind to follow this man, to stand at his side, to hear more of what he had to teach.

He felt someone close beside him, turned to find Mary standing there. He nodded in greeting, smiled at her.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever seen you smile,” Mary said. “Capernaum suits you.”

“I suppose,” Judas agreed.

“Jesus suits you,” Mary added.

Her eyes were enormous, searching his face. He felt that she could pull the truth from anyone, wouldn’t even need to ask. She could change people with just a look. Judas felt that if he looked at her long enough, he would drown. She smiled at him, but her smile was cautious, unsure of how he’d react to her. He turned away.

“This is how it was,” Judas said. “This is how it was before Peter ever uttered the word Christ, before anyone whispered of a Messiah, and before Jesus himself started to wonder if it all might be true.”

Mary turned to look at Jesus and Judas thought she must see it. She must see that he seemed lighter here, that his words penetrated deeper, that he had his heart tangled and twined with each one.

And then Mary turned back to Judas and said, “You don’t look at him and wonder if it all might be true?”

Judas watched Jesus address the gathered. He watched Jesus, saw him and didn’t look away, but still he said, “No. It isn’t true.”

**

They stayed in Capernaum for a week, and when they left they didn’t turn north. They moved south again, toward Judea, toward Jerusalem. They skirted the city of Tiberias, but it didn’t matter. The tone was changing throughout Galilee. The air was heavy and Judas felt the wind turning against them with each step that they took toward Samaria.

In the afternoons they stopped and Jesus addressed those who followed. His words were as inspiring as they’d ever been, but he looked tired now, the spark that had returned for a brief moment in Capernaum, that reminder of how it had been, was starting to extinguish itself once more.

Judas looked at the gathered. He studied their faces and he realized that they didn’t see the difference. They couldn’t see the change. Even Peter smiled on Jesus in adoration, blind to the way that Jesus’ face fell when he thought that no one was looking on him. Judas saw the change. He felt it.

He was surprised when, on the third morning after leaving Capernaum, with the rise of Mount Tabor visible in the distance, Jesus, who generally liked to start moving shortly after day break, lingered on the hillside, talking and laughing with some of the children. As an hour passed, then two, it soon became clear that he had no intention of continuing on their pilgrimage that day.

It was Jesus’ brother, James, who approached him first.

He stood before Jesus, watched as the children scattered, and then said, “Perhaps we should get moving if we expect to make Jerusalem in time for the Feast.”

Jesus looked up. He scanned the group, paused when he reached the cluster of his twelve. Finally his eyes stopped on Judas and he said, “This is as far as I travel with you now. I will not be going on to Jerusalem.”

James followed Jesus’ look, turning toward Judas. Judas shook his head. He knew that he had little to do with this change in Jesus. If Jesus meant to go to Jerusalem, nothing that Judas said could stop him. James turned to Peter for his answers instead and Peter looked to John. John merely shrugged and so it was Peter who stepped forward and knelt before Jesus, took Jesus’ hand in his.

“You are needed in Jerusalem,“ Peter started. “What purpose is there if not to be seen, to be heard, and to show the world that you are - “

“It is not yet time for me to return there,” Jesus interrupted. “But as my disciples, my apostles, go on without me and spread my teachings where you can. The world does not fear you as it has started to fear me and you may show yourselves freely in Jerusalem.”

James stepped back in now, dissatisfied with Peter’s attempt at reason, though to Judas Jesus’ words could not sound more reasonable. James tried to argue Peter‘s point with Jesus as only a brother would. Jesus had fashioned himself a public figure, James put forth, and as such, surely he should appear. If Jesus was doing all of these wonderful things, then he should not keep them secret. If it was all true then Jesus should not hide them in the hills. He should show Jerusalem that of which he was capable. He should show the world.

The crowd seemed to flinch and then hold its breath in the face of James’ doubt, but Jesus was unmoved. He turned to Peter where he still knelt before Jesus. He brushed his hand through the curls of Peter’s hair, and when he looked up at his brother again, his smile remained.

“It is not the right time,” Jesus said again. “I will remain in Galilee as you continue on.”

James opened his mouth but he had run out of words, and eventually he turned away. Peter stood and approaching Judas, he said, “We‘ll leave by midday.”

Judas watched the group prepare. Most had gathered their things when they awoke, assuming that the pilgrimage would continue early as it had yesterday and the day before. Judas watched as Peter and Thomas talked, as James the Lesser pulled out the map.

Jesus was still seated. Judas turned to him and Jesus smiled, nodded, but did not speak. Mary approached Jesus and took a seat on the ground at his side. Jesus turned to her and took her hand in his.

Eventually, the group gathered itself. Peter returned to Judas and clapped him on the shoulder. “Are you ready?” he asked. “We have a long afternoon of travel before us.”

“You should start moving then,” Judas said. “I will stay here. Someone should stay.”

Peter nodded. He’d expected as much. “Mary has said the same,” Peter said. He smiled at Judas, a smile that reminded Judas of their conversation in Tiberias. “We will reunite with you soon then, brother.”

“Soon,” Judas agreed, and let Peter draw him into a tight hug.

**

The camp was quiet. Judas sat on the edge of the group, far enough that he couldn’t feel the flames of the fire at its center. Judas watched them, watched the men laugh and talk with one another.

He looked up to see Mary approaching. She weaved her way easily through the remaining pilgrims, through the men and women who had joined their group as they passed through the fields and the villages, those who chose not to continue on at Peter‘s side. She still hung close to Jesus, still clung to him, but since their exchange in Capernaum, she’d stopped merely watching Judas and had started to approach him more often instead. She sometimes sat with him in the evenings now, sitting silently at his side as they watched the group together, as they watched Jesus together. She folded down onto the dry grass beside Judas now.

Sheep bleated somewhere in the darkness behind them. Mary looked up, turned her head away from Judas to check on the flock. Some distance away, Jesus left the group clustered by the fire and moved further into the dark of the field. Judas nodded toward him.

“You see how he changed once we left Capernaum?” he asked.

“I see how you’ve changed,” Mary said after a moment. She plucked at the grass around her, smoothed it beneath her palms. “You walk as though your heart is weighing you down. As though it’s getting so heavy that soon you won’t be able to lift it at all.”

Judas turned toward her, surprised by her words. They were the very words he might have used to describe the changes in Jesus.

“Jesus sees it too,” Mary said.

“Is that why you’re here with me?” Judas guessed. “Because Jesus is worried?”

Mary shook her head, but then said, “Yes.”

Judas let out a puff of breath, unsure of Jesus’ motives in sending her.

“I think he wanted to be alone,” Mary admitted. “He was looking for an excuse to ask me to leave his side.”

Judas searched out Jesus once more, found him in the field. He had moved further still from the group, but several of them followed him. They kept their distance, hanging back, but close enough. Close enough that Jesus couldn’t imagine himself alone.

Mary reached out for Judas, took his hand and wrapped it in hers. Her hands were small, but warm on his skin. He remembered the feel of her forehead as she lay sick on the blankets in her father’s home. She seemed that woman to him again, here in the darkness of the fields of Galilee.

Judas remembered the way that Peter had told him that Mary intended to stay in Galilee, the smile on his face that seemed to say “she doesn’t unsettle you so much now, does she?”

Judas pulled his hand away.

“What is it?” Mary asked, her voice sharp and her frown immediate at his sudden rejection. She looked around, her head snapping from one direction to the next, and when she couldn’t find the reason that he pulled from her, she turned back to him and continued.

“You think that I shouldn’t be here,” she accused. “You laugh at me with the others.”

“No,” Judas disagreed. “I wouldn’t laugh at you.”

“Ah,” Mary agreed with a nod. “I’d forgotten. You never laugh, do you? At least not that I’ve seen.”

When Judas said nothing, Mary continued. “But you do think that I don’t belong. I’ve read it on your face each day since that first.”

Judas shook his head. “It doesn’t matter what I think. They laugh at me, not at you. And Jesus wants you here. Everyone can see that Jesus thinks that you belong. He is the reason that you are here, is he not? Jesus is the reason that all of us are here.”

“It matters to me what you think,” Mary insisted.

Judas studied her. He wanted to ask why. Why did it matter to her what he thought? Why did he matter to her at all? Why did she come to sit with him when Jesus would gladly have her at his side? He wanted to ask her, but she had posed her question first and she deserved an answer.

“There has been talk,” he admitted. “It has followed you since we left Magdala.”

Mary looked down at her hands, clenched in the fabric of her skirt. She was quiet for a long moment and then, still looking away from him, she asked her next question.

“Do you believe the talk?”

“I don’t know,” Judas said. She did not ask for elaboration. She knew the words that were said about her. “It doesn’t matter. None of it matters.”

Mary laughed, but the smile on her face was pained and the shine of her eyes betrayed her upset.

“It’s true,” Mary said. “Of course, it’s all true. Talk usually is, isn‘t it?” When Judas didn’t respond, she continued. “Do you think - Do you think that he knows?”

“I don’t know,” Judas said.

“Will he cast me out?” Mary asked.

Judas was surprised by the question. He shook his head immediately. “He’ll tell you exactly what I’ve already done. He will hold you to him as he kisses your hair. You’ve been with us some time, Mary. How could you think it would be any other way?”

Mary seemed to heave with her sigh. Judas reached out and took her hand in his once more. She studied their fingers for a moment, the feel of his hand in hers. When she looked up, her eyes were dry, and he knew that he’d just watched her fight with herself to keep them so. He’d just watched her win.

“Now you know what weighs on my heart,” Mary admitted. “Will you not tell me what weighs on yours?”

Judas studied her face, the crease that marked her cheek, the impossible depths of her eyes. He felt protective of her suddenly. He was the one she’d confided in, the one of them that she had chosen to trust when she feared she couldn’t turn to anyone, not even the man she’d chosen to follow.

Judas wanted to tell her everything. He would have shared his burden with her. She would not scoff at him as Peter had done. She would not brush his fears aside. He could tell her all of it and perhaps with this new perspective, together they could find a way to -

The camp fell suddenly silent for a long moment before it erupted again, a ripple of hushed whispers that turned slowly back into the quiet conversation that had preceded. Jesus had returned. He had given up on solitude.

Jesus was speaking to a man by the fire but he turned when Judas looked up, smiled at him and approached. Jesus crouched before Judas, reached out to set a hand on Judas's cheek. Judas closed his eyes for a moment and nodded in greeting. He opened them again as Jesus moved on, as he turned to Mary, leaned in and kissed her forehead, pressed his cheek against the soft waves of her hair.

Mary’s grip on Judas's hand tightened and Judas turned to catch the tears shining in Mary’s eyes. She kept her eyes on Judas as Jesus embraced her. Judas watched as her tears began to fall, and Judas knew that she believed the words he’d spoken to be true, that Jesus had already forgiven her everything, that perhaps Jesus felt there was nothing to forgive.

**

There were still stars in the sky when Jesus shook him awake. He was crouched beside Judas, his hand firm on Judas's arm and Judas started and sat upright. Judas's heart was racing, ready to flee if they must. He’d dreamt of a Roman army in Capernaum, marching the streets, searching for Jesus, and the dream still lingered, though they were far from Capernaum now and the camp was quiet around him.

“Shh,” Jesus said, set a hand on Judas's chest to still him.

“Are we in danger?” Judas asked. He looked around. The rest of the camp slept on, peaceful beneath the clear night sky.

“No,” Jesus said. He smiled at Judas in the dark, a reassurance that didn‘t quite reach his eyes. “There is no danger. But we must leave now if we’re to arrive in Jerusalem in time.”

Judas was awake now and he looked to Jesus, alarmed. “You agreed that it was too dangerous.”

“It is too dangerous the way that we travel now,” Jesus agreed. “But were we to go the two of us, in secret - “

“You would leave now?” Judas asked. “You would have these people wake to find you gone?”

“I won’t be able to turn them away if we wait,” Jesus said, looking past Judas at the sleeping forms of the group that had chosen not to continue on to Jerusalem. “I must go on alone.”

“Alone,” Judas repeated.

“You will travel with me?” Jesus asked next, immediately contradicting his last statement.

Judas was sure that Jesus would continue on without him should he refuse. Judas couldn’t stop Jesus from traveling in secret to Jerusalem. He couldn’t stop him from going to the Temple. Judas had no choice but to accompany him, to ensure by his presence that Jesus was kept safe from harm.

“Yes,” Judas said eventually. “I’ll travel with you.”

Jesus stood and held out a hand to Judas, helped Judas up from the ground. Judas gathered his cloak and his bag. He followed Jesus quietly toward the darkness of the field. They‘d reached the edge of the camp when Judas turned to find Mary beside him. Judas regarded her, surprised.

“Are you joining us?” Judas asked, looking to Jesus for denial or confirmation.

“She can come with us,” Jesus said, the decision made quickly as he was anxious to get started on their road.

Judas turned back to Mary. He could see by her face that this wasn’t planned, that she had not been informed of Jesus’ intentions, had merely stumbled upon them as they attempted to flee.

“We’re going to Jerusalem,” Judas told her, quietly. “For the Feast.”

Mary’s eyes widened at this news and she reached for Judas, took his hand in hers. He hadn’t told her of his concerns, not entirely, but he was right to think that she read him well. Her fingers, firm on his, were more reassurance than Jesus’ smiles and Judas felt glad that she joined them on this journey.

**

They walked through the remainder of the night, stopped to rest as the sun slipped silently over the horizon. When it was light they paused and Mary asked, “Do we walk in Samaria now?”

“Yes,” Jesus confirmed. “For some time now.”

Judas pulled a map from his bag and spread it on the ground before him. They’d followed Jesus through the night. Judas had tried to keep track of the route that he had chosen, but he stared down at the map now and was unsure of where they rested. Jesus leaned over him and pointed to the small line of the road that they traveled. It was barely a foot path. They hadn’t seen anyone in hours.

“It will take us longer to reach Jerusalem by this route,” Jesus admitted.

Judas traced out their path with his finger. They would reach a small village by midday. They would need to eat something, find something to drink, a place to rest.

“It’s safer this way,” Judas said.

“Safer from what?” Jesus asked then, as though none of it had been his idea at all. He didn’t care to hear Judas's response, must know what it would be. Instead he stepped away from Judas, walked off toward a jagged pile of rock that emerged from the earth near their path.

Beside Judas, Mary yawned.

He turned to her, pressed his hand to her shoulder. She covered his hand with her own for just a moment before she let it fall away.

“We didn’t mean to wake you at the camp,” Judas admitted. “We were trying to leave quietly, but I am glad that you are here.”

“It wasn’t that,” Mary admitted. “I was awake before Jesus approached you. He shook my shoulder as he passed by me. He did not stop to speak, merely woke me before he moved on to you. When I saw that you were gathering your cloak, I gathered my things as well.”

Judas was surprised to hear this news, though he knew the words shouldn’t surprise him at all. Mary had been spending more and more time with Jesus. She was his companion now, perhaps as much as Judas was. Why would Jesus wish to leave her behind? Still, Judas's heart couldn’t decide how it felt about the news, still trapped with some of the distrust of Tiberias, though he knew that to some extent they’d grown to understand each other since those first few weeks.

“Why do you worry so for him?” Mary asked him then. “What do you think will befall Jesus when he arrives in Jerusalem?”

He remembered her question as they sat together on the edge of the camp. He studied her now, her eyes earnest, questioning. They pulled at him, urged him to put his trust in her.

“You wish to know what weighs on my heart?” Judas asked.

“Yes,” Mary said and reached for him, took his hand in hers.

He told her of the Pharisees warnings in Tiberias. He told her just as he had told Peter before her. He told her of the soldiers in the streets, of the whispers in the crowds.

“Yet we’ve left Galilee,“ Mary frowned. “Surely Herod can’t reach so far as Judea.“

Judas shook his head, told her of why Jesus had fled back to Galilee to begin with, and finally he told her of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees.

No martyr should die outside of Jerusalem.

“Martyr,” Mary repeated, tasting the word as it formed on her tongue. Her face told Judas that she liked the taste about as well as he did. She didn’t shrug him off as Peter had done. He’d read her correctly the evening before.

When Jesus returned to them, Mary said, “Do you mean to keep this entire visit to Jerusalem a secret as we keep our journey secret now?” She looked to Judas as she said it, her face hopeful, and he knew she asked it on his behalf.

Jesus reached for her, touched her cheek as he took a seat beside her. He turned and smiled at Judas, but he looked at Mary when finally he spoke his answer.

“I don’t know that I will know what purpose it is that has brought me to Jerusalem until I’ve arrived and have witnessed the events of the city for myself.”

**

On the second night of their pilgrimage, Mary fell asleep early. Judas watched her sleep, her hands folded beneath her cheek, her neck propped on the bag that she carried. Jesus sat beside him staring into their small fire.

“Perhaps Peter is right,” Jesus said.

“How?” Judas asked, starting at the statement. His head went immediately to that moment when Peter had named Jesus, when he first uttered the words. Jesus had never openly agreed with Peter. He’d never directly confirmed that which Peter started that day.

“Perhaps Peter is right that I should have gone to Jerusalem with my brothers, in the open. What do I have to hide? What am I trying to prove?”

Judas laughed, both in disappointment and relief that the words of which he spoke were not the words that haunted Judas's nights. He then shook his head in disbelief. “Jerusalem is waiting for that very thing. Don’t you know that? Why did we leave Judea, Jesus? Why did we spend these last months in Galilee? Did Galilee need your message more than Judea? Did Capernaum need your words more than Jerusalem did? No.

“You were right to say that things were different for Peter and for James and Thomas and John. It is nothing for them to enter Jerusalem. They will be anonymous faces in a crowd. For them it is a pilgrimage like any other. For you it could mean violence. It could mean imprisonment or worse.”

Jesus shook his head.

“No?” Judas translated, eyebrows raised. “Because your time has not yet come.”

Jesus smiled, but it wasn‘t happy. He set a hand on Judas's knee. “You know me well, my friend.”

“I know you well?” Judas repeated. He shook his head again, covered Jesus’ hand with his own where it still rested on his knee. “I never understand a thing that you say.”

“You understand more than you think,” Jesus countered.

Another riddle that contained no answers. “I don’t even understand you when you are speaking of my understanding.”

Now Jesus laughed. His hand slipped off of Judas's knee, slid out for beneath Judas's palm, and Judas reached for him for a moment before Jesus pulled him into a hug. He kissed Judas's temple, then released him and nodded to Mary.

“We should follow Mary’s example,” Jesus said. “We should rest for the journey tomorrow.”

**

The soldiers marched through Jerusalem. Judas rushed through the streets beside Jesus, pushed Jesus back into an alley between two low buildings as people screamed and rushed past them. In the street a soldier grabbed a man and slit his throat. Judas watched as blood flowed into the dust and the man fell. The solder moved on.

Jesus struggled to free himself from Judas's grip, but Judas held tight, refused to let Jesus reveal himself to the Romans, knew how it would end for him.

“I warned you,” Judas said, his face twisted with the hopelessness of it all now that Rome had chosen her course.

“Let me go to them then,” Jesus said, and his face was hard. His fingers gripped Judas's shoulders, the tips digging into Judas's arms like claws, pressing harder as screams surrounded them. Screams that could only mean one thing - death.

Judas watched as the man’s blood spilled onto the street. The man didn’t move, he was dead. His blood, Jewish blood, mixed in with the sand, and the next time a soldier passed, he stepped into it without a thought. Jesus gasped, sounded as though he choked on it.

“I warned you,“ Judas said again, pressing them further back into the safety of the dark corner. Jesus shook his head and closed his eyes. “Jesus, these deaths are on you.”

**

Mary found him sitting on large pile of rock. Jesus had stopped to talk with a pilgrim that they‘d encountered on their road. Judas had moved ahead, had perched here on this rock, his back to the others as he stared out at the road ahead of them. He didn‘t see her approach.

“I’ve been looking for you,” Mary admitted, sitting beside him. “For a moment I thought you’d chosen to travel on without us.”

They’d be in Jerusalem in just a few more days. Judas felt it in the pit of his stomach, felt his dreams as though he’d lived them.

“You didn’t sleep well?” Mary guessed. She reached out to brush the hair back from Judas's forehead.

“Not so well,” Judas agreed. “No.”

“His face looks much like yours,” Mary said. “I don’t think he sleeps well either.”

Judas wondered at the sort of dreams that Jesus had as he slept.

Mary turned back to check on Jesus, still deep in conversation with the man by the road.

“Tell me how it was,” Mary requested, turning back to Judas now. “You’ve told me your fears now, but there was a time before that, wasn’t there? Tell me how it was at the start of it all.”

Judas told her. He told her of the way it felt to be in his presence. He told her of those first months in Capernaum, of being chosen as one of the twelve on that hillside outside of the city. He told her of Jesus’ sermon that day, of the beauty of it. And then Judas frowned and shook his head.

“He’s as taken with it all as the rest of them now,” Judas said. “He thinks himself immune. He thinks himself above the law of Rome. Either that or he thinks himself a martyr doomed and he plans to take the rest of us with him.”

“You love him,” Mary concluded at the end of it all.

“We all love him,” Judas agreed. It seemed an odd response. He’d expected something different.

“You think it’s the same?” Mary reached up to brush her fingers through his hair. Judas thought on her words.

“He’s taught you to speak in riddles,” Judas said.

“Close your eyes,” Mary said.

“Speak plainly,” Judas requested.

“Close your eyes, Judas, and I will show you the meaning of my words.”

Judas shook his head, stared back at her, stubborn. Was this the time for games? Was this the time for tricks? She waited, her eyebrows raised, her face serious. Finally, Judas sighed and gave in, let his eyes fall shut.

“Jesus is approaching us,” Mary said. “Imagine him coming now. His shoes make soft noises against the earth as he walks.”

“What is this?” Judas asked, impatient, but he did as she requested. He imagined Jesus’ approach.

“He’s close now, Judas. He’s smiling at you. His eyes are warm. He reaches out and touches your cheek in greeting.”

Judas felt fingers, warm against his face. He saw Jesus’ face, exactly as Mary had described it to him. He gave in to it, imagined Jesus there, leaned against the hand that stroked him, and he felt Jesus lean in, felt Jesus’ breath, hot against his mouth. Judas held his own, unsure of what might come next. He didn’t have to wait long for the answer, not long at all before Jesus pressed his lips to Judas's.

Judas felt his heart jump, heard the ragged release of the breath he’d been holding. The mouth that kissed his disappeared and Judas leaned forward, sought that kiss again. The second kiss came, just the same as the first and Judas reached up for Jesus, pressed his hand to the smooth skin of Mary’s cheek. She pulled away from his touch.

“Do you see?” she asked. “Do you see how you respond to him? How you yearn for him?”

Judas squeezed his eyes shut tight.

“Judas?” Mary asked. “Do you see?”

“Yes,” Judas said. He opened his eyes and he looked at her. “Yes, I see.”

Mary regarded him, searched his face, reached up to touch his cheek once more. He pulled her hand away, held it in his own.

“I thought you might be angry with me,” Mary said.

Judas shook his head. “I am not angry.”

“I thought you might be surprised,” Mary continued.

“There is no revelation here,” Judas said. “You think that I don’t know my own heart? I‘ve known it from the start.”

“Does Jesus know it?” Mary asked.

“What is my love to him?” Judas said with a shrug. “He has the love of thousands. What is my love when faced with that?”

Mary nodded and then stared out into the distance for a long time. Her hand remained with Judas's, firmly holding each other here in the bright sun of the Judean afternoon.

“Love has never been about quantity,” Mary said, finally.

Part 2

Date: 2012-08-07 04:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rchan.livejournal.com
OK. Here I am. Proving you wrong. Not three years, but three HOURS. *preens* Forgive me, though, it's a little stream-of-consciousness-y. -.-;;;

I still love that first moment with them in the alley. So much. I love how you can almost feel Judas' yearning to keep Jesus at his side there... and maybe do a bit of snuggling. :)

“I don’t know you,” Judas countered. He did look at her now, had to. “How can I dislike you?”

“You don’t want to know me,” Mary agreed, her chin turned up toward him, her mouth a line.


I love these lines of dialogue. When she isn't being willfully blind, Mary always sees right through to the heart of things and isn't afraid to say so. Love that. ^_^

Judas watched as she pushed her skirts aside, crouched down beside the flames.

THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHILINA!MARY POSES, OMG. Chilina~~~~~~~~~~~ *_* I also loved your description of her obvious position of authority -- it ties into the other idea so well.

Judas felt a hand on his back and, startled, he turned to find Jesus standing beside him.

I'm a little obsessed with the whole Jesus casually touching Judas ALL THE TIME thing. In case you didn't know. ^_^ Also loved Jesus picking up on the fact that Mary is watching Judas. Aw.

He brushed his hand through the curls of Peter’s hair,

Jesus + Peter's hair = my true OTP ^_~

“You see how he changed once we left Capernaum?” he asked.

“I see how you’ve changed,” Mary said after a moment. She plucked at the grass around her, smoothed it beneath her palms. “You walk as though your heart is weighing you down. As though it’s getting so heavy that soon you won’t be able to lift it at all.”


THIS. I LOVE THIS LINE. *_* I love how you can practically feel that weariness in both of them: Jesus and Judas. That neither of them really wants to continue down the road they're on, that both would love nothing more than to step off the path and go find a cottage in Canada somewhere, but they're both so heart-weary that they can't see past the ends of their own noses to actually figure out how to DO it. And you can see that Mary sees it and that if either of them could bring themselves to ask, she'd figure out a way... but neither of them will, so she won't. AH, BOOOOOOOYS. -.-;;;

OK, that whole little bit with Jesus crouching and touching Judas' cheek, then kissing Mary's forehead while holding Judas' hand... suddenly reminded me very strongly of that scene between Claude, Berger and Sheila at the start of Good Morning, Starshine. *love* ^_^

“I must go on alone.”

“Alone,” Judas repeated.

“You will travel with me?” Jesus asked next


Jeeeeesuuuuuuuuus. *groans* -.-;;; Good grief. *snerts* Because of course "alone" actually translates to "with you, Judas". -.-;;;

THAT WHOLE DISCUSSIONG ABOUT JUDAS UNDERSTANDING. XD I love it. And I love the little alagorical action of Judas thinking that Jesus is pulling away when it just turns out that Jesus is preparing for an even greater showing of love (hand on knee vs. hug). So representative of the flaws in their relationship right there. ^_^

I've told you this before, but I LOVE the kiss between Mary and Judas at the end here, the way that, again, Mary sees straight to the heart of the matter... and then it turns out that Judas already knew. I love this whole bit. *_*

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