The tall man in the suit and grimace spoke for a while, as did Jesus. They argued of fate once more, but the tall governor man had guards. Guards with nails, and a thorny crown, and-
He was shaken from his sleep, though not completely. The shake kept him from sobbing again, that much was certain, but not much more. Tears still ran down his face, taking whatever makeup was left from the day before with them.
There was more blood. A lot more blood. It ran down from the man’s head, from his forehead where the crown’s thorns pricked at his soft skin. Yet he made no arguments, not anymore. He didn’t resist. He didn’t fight. He did scream, though. Once, loudly, painfully-
He let out a small gasp for air, a tiny breath of awakening as his eyes shot open, looked quickly up to the man who was holding him close. There was no blood. No thorn, no nails, no cross, no guards or men in fancy suits and ugly grimaces. Just Jesus looking terrified and worried and saddened all at once. He nodded a bit at the question, though he felt far from alright. He supposed this was obvious (he never could lie around Jesus; the man could always tell), and he let out an exhausted sigh at that thought.
"That was a new one." he commented quietly. He only rarely told his friend of his nightmares. Dreams, maybe, but nightmares? Jesus only knew of a few, and even then, he only knew of the ones that recurred most often.
"Tell me." Jesus said, his voice still soft as he and his friend sat up in the bed, trading positions seamlessly. When they slept, it was usually Judas who liked to be wrapped in warm arms; when Judas was awake, however, he always had his arms around Jesus’s lithe frame, holding the younger man close. Jesus rested his head on Judas’s chest, looking up at the man with big eyes.
"You were crying, Judas. You rarely do that. What was it about?" Jesus asked, in reference to the dream. His hands found Judas’s, and he let the man squeeze his hand before he squeezed it back. In moments like this, it reminded him of the Old Country, of old times. When this room was a tent, and this bed was just a simple mat and a blanket. He let Judas hold him, let him think about his words for a few moments before Jesus cleared his throat, waiting for the man to speak.
One, two, three…four…five…
They were hurting him! They were lashing his back too many times, too hard, too quickly. He was in pain!
Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen…eighteen…nineteen…
Twenty-nine, thirty, thirty-one…thirty-two…thirty-three…
Tears streamed down his cheeks as he was held, yet he didn’t feel it. He didn’t know what was happening here in his grungy bed in New York, no. He was lost in…where ever his dream was.
He was dropped, let go and released from the hold he was in during the lashes. He fell limp, lied against the floor with his back revealed to Judas and all who stood on and watched. There were so many marks, so much blood…
Another whine escaped him, this one closer to a sob than much else. He subconsciously moved in more against his friend, one of his rare moments of weakness revealing itself as he leaned desperately in to his friend’s hold.
"Judas, Judas please wake up." Jesus said a bit louder, shaking the man again. Judas was so trapped in his dream that nothing would wake him up, not even the sound of Jesus’s voice. Jesus pouted, holding the man close and letting his tears wet his naked top. He feared that Judas was being tortured in his dream from the way he was whining and sobbing; being lashed, maybe, or something even worse. Jesus figured that the only thing he could do now would be to hold the man close and let the dream finish itself out.
Jesus ran his hair through the man’s dreadlocks, fingering a few as he waited for the man to awaken. Once he did, Jesus sighed and held the man even closer.
"You scared me." He admitted softly, lifting the man’s head up to wipe away some of the running eye makeup mixed with his salty tears. "Are you alright?"
God, they were so loud. They kept shouting, screaming at the tall man in the nice suit and ugly grimace. Before him, sat-
Judas, fast asleep and resting next to his sleeping friend, moved a bit in his sleep, moaned quietly in unconscious protest. The sight in his dream hurt him, angered him, saddened him. So many emotions swam around in his head, but it all only amounted to another moan and another turn in his sleep.
All orange. Handcuffs, it looked like, too. The look of fear covered the man’s face as he stared up at the tall, fancy man with the suit and grimace. There was a lot of talk of kingdoms, with his friend stubbornly refusing the accusations.
"I have no kingdom in this world! There may be a kingdom for me somewhere else, if I only knew…"
They kept talking of kingdoms, of the meaning of truth, of fate and destiny and God’s will. Of anything but what was soon to happen. Jesus was pulled up roughly, quickly-
Another moan, though it sounded as more of a whine than a moan, and Judas rolled over in bed again, rolled to face his best friend. He wasn’t awake, but even in his sleeping, unconscious state, he knew where to turn for comfort and safety. Even if said comfort and safety was to be found in a man who was lost in his own dreamland tonight…
Jesus’s eyes were shut, his body splayed out on the bed that was barely big enough for one person, let alone two men. He never did dream, and sleep was just something he had to do. There was no enjoyment, no realizations nor nightmares like some had. It was just a blanket of black. So it was so strange to him when Judas spoke to him of his previous nights dreams over a table of breakfast, or those morning where Judas was silent and brooding due to a nightmare.
But the worst were those nights where the nightmares got so bad that they took over Judas’s body. Like tonight. Jesus wasn’t a heavy sleeper, and the soft whimper from his friend awoke him. Before Jesus could move to hold his friend, the man turned into him, tears rolling down his cheeks as he had a nightmare. Jesus sighed, patting the man’s dreadlocked hair down a bit. “Shh, Judas, it’s only a bad dream. Wake up.” He murmured onto Judas’s sweaty forehead, yet the man refused to awaken.
Jesus pouted a bit before giving the man a soft shake, trying to wake him. “Please wake up. For me.” He whispered, rocking the man gently in his arms.
When his friend moved closer against him, he didn’t protest. At first, it felt perfectly normal. That’s because it is, you genius, his inner monologue interjected. You missed him, and now he’s here. He knew that, but it still felt strange having him so close, so needy, so desperate. But was Jesus the desperate one? He doubted it. Desperate always tended to have such a bad connotation. No bad thing could be said about Jesus. Even the things he was bad at seemed good. His lack of cooking skills, his horrible moodiness when things didn’t quite go his way, his tendency to be horribly blunt about things, his odd inclination to sing along whenever Judas tried to sing anything…the list went on and on. Nobody could ever say anything bad about the man, considering the fact that Judas’ list of all things bad/good about him were only known by one person; him.
"You’re not cooking." he had to say as he watched Jesus start to make his way back inside. There wasn’t any smile just yet, but his tone wasn’t exactly angry or grumpy anymore, either. Or at least not as grumpy as it had been before. He stood to his feet and followed his friend inside, taking one final, long drink (which emptied the bottle) of his beer before tossing it into the trash in the kitchen, a clinking sound echoing briefly into the room as it crashed with older bottles in the can. He probably didn’t think that one through…but Jesus, thankfully, didn’t question him of it. Probably because Judas spoke before he had the chance to. "We can go out for breakfast. I rather like my apartment without smoke and fire filling it."
"Out?" Jesus asked, his voice like a confused child. "What’s so wrong with your apartment?" But it didn’t matter what he said now, because Judas had made his mind up. Jesus’s shirt was thrown at him, hitting him in the face. Jesus pouted, slipping his shirt on over his lithe frame. "But why must we go out? There is so much we could do here."
In all honesty, Jesus just wanted some alone time with Judas. To hold the man, be held by the man, converse with the man and to love the man. Jesus sighed, and it was obvious that his protests would not affect Judas. When the man emerged from the bathroom, Jesus was sitting on his couch, legs tucked under him and a pout on his lips.
"But I do not even have anything to repay you with." Jesus said, the pout deepening. "It would not be fair. Plus, it’s cold out. Must we go out?"
When a head rested against his shoulder, he did finally steal a glance downward before ultimately deciding it a bad idea. One second of seeing the tired man sitting next to him was enough to cause him to take another drink of his beer, a bit of a desperate swig of it, actually. Much to his chagrin, the alcohol didn’t make his friend magically disappear. In fact, it only made it worse. It only made the moment feel heavier, stronger, more real. He sighed at this, a quiet, frustrated breath into the awkward morning sun, before he finally spoke.
"I slept fine." he answered stubbornly. It wasn’t that a grumpy Judas was a rare occurrence, but it only rarely got to this extreme that he acted so towards Jesus. He was sure that he had before, though. Maybe long ago, when their friendship wasn’t so complicated. Back when arguments didn’t end in proclamations that everything was predestined, back when life wasn’t based around his friend’s proposed glorious and great fate. Before his friend was the Son of God. He tried to push that thought aside, tried to ignore the past, but having physical proof of it here lying against him only made that task increasingly difficult. He had to steal another glance downwards, but that only filled his mind with an overwhelming sense of guilt. He looked away again, looked back out to the busy city horizon, and spoke once more. "I hope you slept well."
”It was the best that I’ve slept in years.” Jesus said, a little smile on his lips as Judas looked away again, their eyes meeting for the second time in a matter of minutes. Because you were there, next to me, Jesus thought, another smile on his lips.
The sound of horns blaring and the smell of Judas’s fresh cigarette both awoke Jesus from his thoughts, and Jesus sighed, moving closer to the man. Jesus didn’t seem bothered by how close they were; if Judas was bothered, he was making no verbal or physical protest. It almost felt like old times: the two of them, alone (the others were off, doing who-knows-what), just sitting and talking and thinking over a cup of tea as they watched the sun rise higher and higher into the sky, swallowing the darkness of night.
Jesus’s stomach growled, and he struggled to remember the last time he ate. With a yawn and a stretch, Jesus rose, pulling the blanket tighter around him. When Judas acknowledged him, he smiled that content smile that Judas knew all too well. “I’m hungry. What would you like for breakfast?” He asked. Both of them knew that Jesus was a horrible cook, but he always insisted to cook. Last time he tried to cook, he almost burnt down their entire camp. Needless to say, from that moment on, Jesus was banned from cooking. Still, he always offered to cook, and he was always met with rejection. He began to ascend the ladder, back to Judas’s apartment, when he heard a voice behind him.
For some reason, cheap beer and a pack of cigarettes didn’t quite seem to ease the stress of things, not as it usually did. Most of the time, if life became too difficult or if he was out of his mind with anger or frustration, those were the things that he could lean on for balance. Call them crutches, call them addictions, call them what you will. He wouldn’t call them either moniker. He didn’t need alcohol and he -well, he may need his cigarettes- but he surely wasn’t addicted to them. And so what if he was? Who really cared what he did and when?
Oh yeah, he did.
The man in his bed, sleeping rather soundly with all things considered, cared about all of that stuff. He always had. Come to think of it, Jesus seemed to care about everyone like that. Sure, his care and love seemed to be just a bit stronger for Judas than the rest, but he didn’t question that too often. Even now, as the sun began to rise over the great New York City horizon, he didn’t question it. He didn’t question why he had allowed his friend to stay, why he had allowed the man to not only stay, but to sleep in his bed with him, no. He didn’t question any of this. He only sat out on the steps of the fire escape, a beer in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. It was too early to be awake, too soon to be thinking and watching and listening to the early morning happenings of the city, but that was okay. It at least gave him some peace and quiet and serenity and-
A voice from the door above him broke him from hazy little silence, but instead of looking up at the man and responding, he only looked down to the bottle in his hand. The bottle at least wouldn’t bother him with a heart-stopping, unbelievable innocence.
Jesus awoke to the sun in his eyes and a chill in the room. Last night had been long, too long, and it almost felt like a dream. But as he rubbed the sands of sleep from his eyes and gazed around the small room, it seemed that the dream was a reality. Jesus shivered, sitting up in the small bed that still smelt like his follower — alcohol, cigarettes, and huskiness. Jesus wrapped the dingy gray comforter around his lithe body, standing up slowly as his eyes adjusted to the bright sunrise over New York City.
A handful of long strides across the room led him to an open door that led to a fire escape. One floor down sat Judas, a beer in one hand, a cigarette between his lips, as he perched on the stairwell, his legs hanging over the sides. “Judas?” Jesus called out, his voice heavy with sleep. When Judas didn’t respond — not because he could not hear Jesus, but because he was ignoring him — a little pout formed on Jesus’s lips.
With a determined grunt, Jesus began his descent down the fire escape, his hands a bit shaky as he attempted to keep the blanket wrapped tight around him. Once his bare feet finally touched metal, he sighed and smiled a little, looking down at Judas. Jesus sat next to him, too close probably, and rested his head on his follower’s shoulder. “Good morning, Judas.” Jesus said, sleep still dancing a bit in his voice as he looked up at the older man with doe eyes. “How did you sleep?”
It did feel like old times, but that scared him. That frightened Judas far more than it should, and he could only hope that that didn’t show. He didn’t want Jesus to feel unwanted or like an unwelcome guest, because none of that true. He did want his friend around, just…the past complicated things. After all, the separation from the start had been caused not by any disagreement or argument, not by any violence or war, but by fear. Judas had left so abruptly, so suddenly, and that had always been how he liked to end things. Sudden departures didn’t hurt as much. It was when they returned, which he could say for a fact that had now only occurred once in his lifetime, when they hurt. It hurt the most when a fire was rekindled, when a flame was touched once more and brought back to life so suddenly, so abruptly, just like how it had originally gone out. This moment here with Jesus, this awkward silence that sat between them just like the unspoken words that neither of them wanted to hear, it was that fire. And God, did its heat burn.
"I think we should sleep now." he replied after a moment’s worth of silent thought. It wasn’t exactly an answer to the question that his friend had implied, but it would have to do for now. His gaze lingered on that of Jesus’, the man’s dark eyes an awfully good distraction from the confusing jumble of thoughts that had nestled snug into Judas’ head. All of this was so confusing…but couldn’t sleep fix it? Sleep could fix everything, right?
Jesus nodded, a a moment of hesitation passes between the two. Should Jesus move in even closer on this small bed, and rest his head on the man’s chest, like old times? Should he curl his body into Judas’s, their curves and muscles fitting together perfectly; as perfectly as their lips?
After another moment, Jesus took the risk. He rested his head on Judas’s chest, curling close to the man. “I hope you do not mind, but I am cold.” Jesus muttered, not wanting to meet Judas’s eyes. He waited for the push, the shove away, but he was met with none. With a shaky sigh, Jesus closed his eyes, sleep slowly encasing him.
The poor man looked frightened, yet content. Many times, had the two found themselves in a position much like this one, and that thought somehow relaxed the man even more. Perhaps a random visit wasn’t the best of ideas, but then again, living in New York City in the first place wasn’t the best of ideas, either, yet here they were. Judas watched the man beneath him squirm again, wiggle his arms in some attempt of freeing them, but they weren’t desperate tries at freedom. No, Jesus wanted to stay like this…and who was Judas to deny his friend anything?
"Will you sleep here tonight if I were to join you?" he asked, a smile beginning to faintly appear once more at the color that arose on his friend’s cheeks. It was amazing, how one simple question could so easily affect his friend. Without even listening for a reply, Judas moved off of his friend and released the grip that had once held him captive. He moved to lie up on the bed properly, and he couldn’t help but smile as Jesus realized what was happening and moved up to join him.
Jesus nodded, his cheeks even redder than before. Judas moved from him, and a whine left Jesus’s throat. He did not wish to lose the touch of his friend so suddenly. But, when he saw the man at the top of his bed, a satisfied smile washed onto Jesus’s lips, and he followed the man, laying next to him
"This feels like old times." Jesus whispered, turning on his side so he could look at Judas. The two were close, so close, to one another that they could feel the heat radiating off of both of them. Jesus resisted the urge to touch Judas, as he had in the past. This might have felt like the past, but it was not actually the past. Times were different, they were different.
"So, what now?" Jesus asked. It was more than the simple "oh, so what are we going to do now tonight?" question that it seemed to be. The question had depth, and Judas knew that. Jesus could see it in his face. "Well?"
The protesting was bothersome, but Judas didn’t really feel like assisting in doing anything to alleviate or end any of it. He would, he honestly would, but only if his friend’s argument was joking. This one wasn’t, and although that smile irked him a little, he let it pass. At least for a moment, anyway.
"I can argue all I like. I’m not going to sleep in my bed and allow my guest to sleep on the sofa. That isn’t how any of this works." he complained, protested like a little child even as his friend took his shirt off and yawned like a man half his age. Once the instrument was moved, Judas thought of a plan. It was a bit of a rude one, but the rudeness wouldn’t last for too awful long. It would only be temporary, and hopefully it would prove a point, too.
So, soon after the younger man wished him a good night, Judas crept to the couch and wrapped his arms around his guest’s stomach. He had done this before, years back, and actually surprised himself with how easily he could lift the supposed savior up and over his shoulder. He carried the man like this from the couch and over to the bed, gently tossing him on to it before moving to pin him down there. The touch was soft, careful, and as the heat rose to his friend’s cheeks, the animosity in his mind washed away. Every last drop of it, as if a sudden drought had just taken it all away. He looked Jesus in the eyes, his softened gaze connecting with a shy and confused one. For a split second, a faint smile played on his lips. “You are sleeping here tonight. Are we understood?”
Jesus nodded, a protest on his tongue, but he swallowed it; and it seemed like his voice followed along. He was unable to speak, and all he did was look up at the older man, his throat dry and his lips barely parted. All he did was nod out a reply to the question. A flashback hit Jesus hard, making his Adam’s Apple bob slightly.
They were in their tent, the night much like the one tonight. The wind whipped at the tent, and Jesus pressed closer to Judas for warmth. He felt a hand run through his hair, then resting on his back. Another hand appeared, tilting Jesus’s head up so his eyes locked with those of Judas’s.
“Are you cold?”
Jesus nodded, and Judas sighed, pulling the younger man closer as he reached behind, turning his head to look for another blanket in Jesus’s bag.
A small smirk crossed Jesus’s face, an almost wicked idea forming in his mind. Reaching out, he brushed his fingers over a spot on Judas’s naked ribs, and he laughed when Judas jumped, a laugh-scream leaving his throat. Most wouldn’t know, but the man that laid next to Jesus was incredibly ticklish. But then again, Jesus wasn’t most people.
The childish fight began, the two trading blows with their fingers. It was a particularly brutal one, with the laughs turning into screams of “stop, stop!” from both men. By now, they had probably woken half of the camp, but they didn’t care. It only ended with Judas, with a triumphant laugh, pinned Jesus down with his body, Jesus’s hands pinned to his sides.
The last of the breathless laughs left the man a moment or two later, and silence filled the tent, with the two men looking at each other, their gazes locked, their bodies closer than ever.
Time seemed to stop as Judas leaned down, pressing his chapped lips to Jesus’s. The kiss didn’t last more than a moment, but it left Jesus breathless and red. He stayed silent, and so did Judas. After another moment, Judas moved off of Jesus, and sleep overwhelmed the pair.
Jesus just looked at Judas, chewing on his bottom lip as silence arose between the pair. Jesus squirmed again, hoping, praying that he would soon be released from this grip.
It was a prayer that he hoped would not come true.