Harlequin's Slash Fic

The Judas Riffs: 02 Jesus, Joan & Kit

Title: The Judas Riffs: 02 Jesus, Joan & Kit
Author: Harlequin
Universe: Original, but inspired by Jesus Christ Superstar
Characters featured: ‘Judas’ & Jesus & ‘Mary’
Category, Word count: Short story; 1492 words
Rating: PG13
Summary, Notes: This story follows on from the logic of the first Judas Riff: if this scenario must be played out again and again until Judas and the rest of humanity gets it right, then this is the tale of one of those incarnations. It takes place in Elizabethan England, with playwright Christopher Marlowe filling the Judas role. An anachronistic Joan of Arc plays the Mary role.
Warnings: Believers may find these stories challenging, wrongheaded or just plain distasteful – but all I can do is assure you that I mean no disrespect to Jesus. Please remember that the stories are told from Judas’s point of view, and ultimately Jesus remains an enigma to him.
First published: 7 January 2007 on Harlequin’s Slash Site

 

Jesus, Joan & Kit

 

Jesus’s horse was lame.

‘You can ride with me,’ Kit quickly said. He shot a baleful glance at Joan. ‘Who’d want to ride behind all that armour? Nothing at all pleasant to hang onto.’

Jesus smiled, bemused. Amused. There wasn’t anyone else in the world whose amusement Kit would suffer. Obligingly, Jesus sat behind him, arms loosely around Kit’s waist, while Joan rode ahead, leading Jesus’s horse. Kit wore those arms proudly, and didn’t think to wonder why the horse couldn’t bear the same burden.

 

They spent months riding, all over England, and into Wales and even Scotland. Villages, towns, castles, county fairs, lone farms. Jesus never seemed to get around to reading out the speeches Kit wrote for him. Wonderful speeches, stirring, full of faith. Faith in what, Kit wasn’t quite sure. But they were terrific speeches, full of high astounding terms. Jesus never quite spoke them, but he would quietly talk with people, and listen, and bless them, and everyone was left stronger or more peaceful than they had been. At times he would use one of Kit’s phrases, and Kit supposed that was enough.

At last they were now heading for London. They had always been heading for London. That was where it would all happen, where they could make a real difference. Kit was trying out speeches in his head, smiling as the words silently filled his mouth. Maybe London was ready for them at last.

‘Trouble waits for us there,’ Joan said darkly. ‘I know it.’

But Jesus just smiled at her, and called her ‘God’s visionary’. Which disarmed her for she never could argue with him when he smiled like that, oh so sweetly but in no way cloying.

 

Kit and Joan argued, though. They always did. The Maid, who was also The Soldier, had particularly fixed ideas about what was suitable for Jesus, about where he would be safe, about what was – of all things – appropriate.

‘Peasant!’ Kit scowled at her. ‘You’ll never leave the pigsty behind!’

You talk to me of pretension?’ she fired back in her furious Frenglish accent. ‘A shoemaker’s son who wants to be a gentleman!’

I succeeded!’

‘I am not so sure about that…’

‘Slut.’

‘Imbecile.’

The Poet won, as he usually did, for Jesus would lay his head anywhere with no thought of whether their lodgings were appropriate. Jesus was as comfortable in a king’s purple velvet spread as he was in a stable’s straw. And Kit liked to see him the same in every circumstance. There was something incredibly reassuring in the gentleness that never changed.

 

Tonight, though, in London. Tonight there was a change. It had begun that afternoon, in the playhouse. Kit was already half–drunk with his old friends, the players and the playmakers, the university wits and the guttersnipes. He was never sure afterwards what had happened. Jesus had been talking with them all, in his own quiet way. The boys whose balls hadn’t dropped, who played the girls’ roles; the Puritan preacher who ranted outside until even he was overcome by the sheer bloody poetry of it all; the manager, the manager’s string of prostitutes; the earls, the earls’ men, the earls’ horses; the groundlings. Who was it, or what was it, that provoked Jesus into withdrawing, thoughtful, returning to their room at the boarding house, troubled?

Kit farewelled his friends and followed the man. Quietly walked in; warily shut the door behind him. ‘Jesus? What’s the matter?’

A smile, though a troubled one. Gently troubled. Would the man never reach an end of his simple complexities? ‘It will be soon,’ Jesus murmured. ‘What I have waited for.’

‘What we have waited for?’ Kit grinned, he couldn’t help himself. ‘Then we will make a difference? Create a sensation? Throw this whole city into the air, and let each man fall where he may?’

Jesus was watching him, amused by his enthusiasm. ‘Christopher,’ he said. ‘You have found a cause.’

‘Imagine that!’

‘Come here to me.’

He went. Of course he went. Kit knelt on the filthy hard planks they would all three sleep on that night, and gazed up at his beloved. ‘Imagine that…’ he murmured to himself.

Jesus cupped a hand around his nape, Kit’s tender nape. Bent to press a kiss to his temple. Kit’s heart was galloping. ‘More!’ he dared to demand, offering his mouth.

But his beloved was simply amused by him and his dreams. Jesus looked down, and fondly dubbed him ‘God’s blasphemer’.

‘I am not God’s anything,’ Kit retorted.

‘It is all right,’ Jesus said. ‘Remember I said that, Christopher. Everything is going to be all right.’

‘Yes?’

‘Everything will go according to plan.’

‘Yes,’ he vowed, still grinning. ‘Oh, yes!’

 

Kit was strangely excited that night. But, no – what was so strange about it? He was stirred, he was ready, they would take on the whole world. He drank too much, he talked too much. None of that was new. Kit was the man who’d loudly declared that all those who loved not tobacco and boys were fools. Kit, the man who’d loudly proclaimed that religion was but a trick to keep men in awe. Kit, the man who’d shouted the foulest things about a myth. A myth he’d come to love, really love, once he’d realised the myth was reality. Kit, the man who should have remembered that Elizabeth’s London was a dangerous place for loud–mouthed rebels boasting of subversive elements.

Drunk beyond belief. Some kindly soul escorted him home. Kit feared they were followed, but his new friend dismissed such fancies.

Jesus was waiting for him. In the moonlight, seated alone in the boarding house’s walled garden. How had he escaped Joan’s vigilance?

‘Is that the man?’ Kit’s companion whispered. ‘The man who’ll save us all?’

‘Ah, now, let us see…’ Kit pretended to muse. They staggered on. His friend’s support was stronger now, his stance warier. This was genuine awe, created by a genuine man; not the tawdry mysteries of smokes and mirrors to be found in churches. ‘I think this is the man…’

They drew closer. He drew closer. Kit was walking on his own now. Jesus rose to his feet, awaiting his approach.

And so Kit stumbled right up to him. And kissed him, as he’d wanted to do all along. ‘Yes, I do believe this is the man…’ Jesus’s mouth warm and divine, not giving but not withdrawing either, until –

Torn out of his arms. The only thing he’d ever really wanted, the only person he’d ever really loved, torn out of his arms, dragged away. Soldiers appearing from nowhere, nightwatchmen. Confusion. Jesus’s face still gentle. Even when they hit him, he simply watched Kit, gentle and forgiving and understanding; Jesus watching, completely still in the midst of a swirl of violence. Even when blood trickled from his mouth.

Kit stood there, too shocked, too numb. There was an emptiness beside him where Joan should have been. The Soldier wouldn’t have let this happen. The Poet was too afraid to prevent it. The Poet, for the first time in his life, felt terror through to his very marrow.

 

‘We’ll storm it. We’ll storm it and rescue him.’ She was her usual ardent self. Her loudness always depressed Kit, just as his loudness always depressed her, though she wouldn’t admit as much.

‘Even if you had an army,’ he said, and took another morose mouthful of malmsey. ‘And where would you find an army? Even then you could not storm the Tower.’

‘Then – as they take him to St Giles’ Fields. They want to kill him in a saint’s fields! We will take the cart, skewer the bastard soldiers. The people will not prevent us. No, they will help us!’

‘They will not. They turn against him, they always do. They know where the real power lies.’

She crashed her gauntleted hands onto the table so that the wine went flying. Leant over him. Threatening. He didn’t blink an eye. ‘Then what do you suggest we do?’

‘Nothing,’ he replied. Mourning. ‘Nothing. We’ve lost him.’

‘We cannot lose him! He is beyond our finding or our losing.’

Kit shrugged. The malmsey was warm, but it didn’t affect the cold terror no matter how much he drank. ‘Then he is beyond our rescuing, too.’

‘You are damned, Kit Marlowe! You are so damned that you cannot even want to save your own soul!’

‘That is true,’ he said lightly. ‘Those are the truest words you e’er spoke, Joan my dear. Forgive me, but I must leave you. Someone I must meet. A rogue. In fact, two rogues and a villain. I thought to be free of them, but I find I am not. I’m to Deptford.’

She glared at him as he walked out with barely–grasped dignity. She glared at him, but her fire could not warm him. He couldn’t bear himself any longer. He could not bear to live.

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