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Right Hand Man

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For this story, I was envisioning the 2000 movie – specifically, the little clip of Mary and Jesus sitting together after Judas leaves the priests and before Last Supper starts. (You don’t necessarily *need* to have seen that version to understand this, but just so you know, that’s what I was envisioning.)

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Judas has not slept a wink.  He hasn’t even tried.  Oddly, he hasn’t done anything else, either – hasn’t walked around, hasn’t touched the booze he keeps under his bed, hasn’t sought advice or even tried to think about what he’s done.  He is fully blank.

It’s light out now, and he decides to go look for Jesus.  He’s not sure what exactly he plans to do.

He hunts around for a little while and eventually stumbles onto a cozy little scene that makes his lip curl.

Jesus is sitting in a chair, in the sunlight, with his back to the door.  And that whore is kneeling at his feet, resting her head on his thigh, her long legs bare and her greedy little hands curled around his calf.  It looks like she’s supposed to be washing him but she’s not – she’s just kneeling there enjoying him, being close to him.

Judas wants to tear her head off.  It’s the most he’s managed to think or feel since he left the priests last night, and in a way it feels good to have the paralysis break.

He growls at her, like an animal.  That disturbs her reverie, all right, and she gasps and scrambles backwards.  "Judas," she breathes.  She’s looking at his knees and blushing, as if she’s been caught doing something sinful.  Which she has.  He sneers openly at her, hands on his hips and chin raised.

She stands up and comes close to Jesus, who hasn’t even moved.  She lays her hand on the gold curls a moment and then flees off through another door, without one more word in Judas’s direction.

He glares after her a moment, feeling angry at her and glad that she’s gone and very relieved to be feeling something.  But then he realizes:

He and Jesus are now alone.

He swallows.  Last night…  "Jesus?" he whispers.  What is he going to say?  He steps forward until he’s standing right at Jesus’s shoulder.  Jesus doesn’t turn to him or even move, and for a moment Judas thinks he’s getting the silent treatment, some kind of punishment.

But then Jesus says, almost under his breath: "I know you’ve been with me since the beginning.  All along, you’ve been by my side.  But now…"

"I’m sorry," Judas chokes out.  Is he really going to tell Jesus what he went and did last night?  No, he has no idea what he plans to tell Jesus.  All he wants is for Jesus to put a hand on his head and tell him everything is all right.  As absurd as that would be.

He starts to come around the chair but then changes his mind – if he has to look into Jesus’s eyes he will never be able to say what he needs to.  He stays where he is, debates putting a hand on Jesus’s shoulder and then decides against it.  Instead he just watches him breathe.  It’s comforting, somehow.  At least a little bit.

He takes a breath and then tries again.  "Last night," he gasps, but then has to stop.  His chest is hitching and he can’t talk.

Fortunately, Jesus seems willing to do all the talking for him.  "I don’t know exactly what you’re planning," Jesus says, calm as ever, "But I do know it’s happening soon.  I trust you.  And I hope that you believe in me."

Judas comes even closer, til he can feel the heat of Jesus’s body, but still doesn’t touch.  And still stays behind, where he can’t be seen.  "You shouldn’t," he whispers.  "You don’t know what… Jesus…."  He trails off.

"I know everything I need to know," Jesus murmurs steadily.  It sounds almost as though he’s trying to convince himself.  "I know that you love me and that my time on earth is almost up.  I know that soon I will have to make myself ready to die."

"No!" Judas finally finds his voice, really finds it.  He throws himself down to his knees by the chair and buries his face in Jesus’s lap.

Jesus gasps and jumps half a foot.  "What-?  Judas?"

He sounds shocked and breathless.  Judas lets go and sits up straight.  "Why do you-… What’s the matter?"

"The matter?"  Jesus’s voice is thick and confused.  "What’s the matter?  What time is it?  I-… I was praying."  He blinks and looks around.  "Where’s Mary – she was here with me a minute ago…"

"Praying." Judas’s mouth tightens.  He should have known.

"Yes.  Why – what’s the matter?"  Jesus still doesn’t register his anger; he still doesn’t seem quite with it.  Judas looks up into his face, meaning to scowl at him… but instead he melts, totally and immediately.  Jesus looks so sweet right now – so innocent and helpless. J udas is immediately distracted from his own pain; he hurts for his friend now and that is so much worse.

"Nothing," he manages, forcing a crooked smile.  "Nothing’s the matter."  He’s staring at the floor, and notices that there’s a bowl of water there.  It’s still warm.  "Here, let me help you."

He picks up where Mary left off, washing the dust of travel off Jesus’s feet and keeping his eyes firmly downcast.  If Jesus sees him crying, he will know.  He’ll know something, and he’ll ask, and Judas will not be able to keep his mouth shut then.

And he has to keep his mouth shut.  He can’t tell Jesus what he did, can’t possibly make him any more lost and heartsick than he is already.  He’s not sure what he plans to do now, if he means to try and help Jesus dodge the coming catastrophe or even if he could, now that the police are waiting and the damage is already done… but he has to do something.

Jesus relaxes in his chair and rests a hand on Judas’s head.  "Thank you.  That feels… very good."

Judas swallows hard, twice, before he’s sure his voice will be steady.  "Good.  Let me know if it’s tickling you, and I’ll stop."  He rubs the cloth under the arch of Jesus’s foot, and notices that it comes away almost black.  He shows his teeth.  Mary, shameless slut that she was, was apparently more interested in petting Jesus’s legs than wiping at where the actual dirt was.  How unsurprising.

Eventually Judas chances a quick look up, and sees that Jesus has his eyes closed, leaning back all mellow and relaxed.  "So… what were you praying about?" he asks.  He can hear how strained and unnatural he sounds, but it’s the best he can do right now and he has to know.  Maybe he’ll figure out that there really is something he can do.  Maybe Jesus really does hear messages from God, and God can give him an idea.

But Jesus only chuckles and shakes his head.  "No."

"What?  No, you won’t tell me, or no you don’t remember?  Or no you weren’t praying.  What?"

"Ah- you’re hurting me."  Jesus twitches his foot and Judas releases it from the death-grip he hadn’t even noticed.

"Sorry."  Judas bites his lip.  "Well?"

"I was praying.  It was about… it was about things to come."  He throws a quick helpless smile in Judas’s direction.  "And you know I don’t talk about that with other people."

Judas looks down again, and realizes that he, too, has started petting Jesus’s leg.  It’s a wonder how someone who’s perfectly chaste can inspire such awful behavior in all the people around him.  He swallows and sits back on his heels.  "You can talk about it with me," he insists.  "You can tell me everything."

Jesus laughs.  "I," he declares, "Would give anything for a companion I could share everything with."  He shrugs and clarifies, "An earthly companion.  But that’s not my path."

"Oh.  What is?"

Jesus’s eyes narrow.  "I don’t know," he says thoughtfully, and for some reason Judas is terrified to look away from him all of a sudden.  It’s silent for a while.

Judas wills himself to keep making steady eye contact, but he’s sure he must be giving something away.  Jesus visibly withdraws from him.  "I don’t know yet," he murmurs again, but now it doesn’t really sound true.  He’s hugging himself.

Judas realizes that if he doesn’t know yet, he will soon.

He cannot witness that discovery.  He gets up fast, pets Jesus on the head once like Mary did, and hurries off to get drunk.

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The End.