A/N: I'm going to Hell for this. Ah, well, no time like the present!
There was pain, of course. One didn't get himself nailed to a couple of two-by-fours without expecting quite a bit of pain. In fact, it was becoming rather unbearable. There were so many other, more interesting, less painful ways to die. Swallowed by a whale, for example, or simply devoured by lions. He liked the first one, but he wouldn't turn up his nose at the second just now.
A new pain lanced through his side, somewhere near his ribs. Finally, he felt himself begin to go numb.
"About time," he managed. Then Jesus Christ, King of the Jews, died.
It wasn't precisely what he'd been expecting. As a matter of fact, there wasn't even any singing. No beams of light, and he couldn't help but notice that there seemed to be an angel problem. Namely, that there weren't any.
He looked around. "Hello, Mother!" She kept right on weeping. "Now, there's no need to carry on like that, I'm--" He glanced over his shoulder at his corpse. "Oh. Right. Well, I am a bit of a gruesome picture, aren't I? I was, anyway."
He cast about for other familiar faces. "Mary! Mary, dear, you mustn't cry--"
JESUS OF NAZARETH, I PRESUME?
Turning, the Christ caught sight of a tall figure in black robes. A skeletal hand gripped a scythe which seemed to interrupt the very flow of reality, and two blue lights shone eerily in the eye sockets of the skeleton's grinning skull.
"Yes," he said, quite nonplussed. He'd confronted far worse. This figure was no Satan, after all. "How can I help you?"
I AM HERE TO COLLECT YOU. YOU'RE EXPECTED.
Jesus stared at the people around him, some crying, some jeering, some clanging shields and spears about like so many great monkeys.
"I really don't think I'm finished here. Last words still left to say, and all."
If the skeleton--well, Death, obviously--had had eyelids, he would have been blinking in a someone bemused manner. NOT... FINISHED?
"Well, yes--I mean, there's still a lot of people very confused. If you could just give me a few hours to--"
OUT OF THE QUESTION. YOUR FATHER HAS GIVEN ME VERY STRICT INSTRUCTIONS.
"Yes, well, he's not the boss of me!" Jesus stomped his foot.
There was an awkward silence.
Jesus coughed, and straightened up. "I apologize. That was very immature. I suppose death brings out the worst in me."
I HAVE THAT EFFECT ON MANY.
"I mean, no offense or anything."
NONE TAKEN. AT LEAST YOU AREN'T CRYING AND CARRYING ON LIKE THAT JUDAS FELLOW. KEPT TRYING TO EXPLAIN TO ME WHY HE'D DONE SOMETHING OR OTHER, COULDN'T UNDERSTAND A WORD THROUGH THE TEARS.
Jesus took this opportunity to scuff his toes in the dust and awkwardly twiddle his thumbs.
YOU KNEW HIM?
"You might, ah, say that. He was sort of responsible, that is, not really, er... He had something to do with this business." He gestured to the cross behind him, and the attached mortal shell.
There was another silence, somewhat less awkward than the last.
The silence was interrupted by a keening wail. It was impossible to tell who exactly had emitted it, as there were so many mourners gathered around. Jesus looked slightly embarrassed. "Sorry about all the commotion. I'd ask them to quiet down, but, ah..."
QUITE ALL RIGHT, I ASSURE YOU. Death gazed in the direction of the two Marys, who were huddled together near the base of the cross. WHO ARE THOSE WOMEN?
"Them? Well, the older one's my mother, and the younger one's my... my..." He trailed off.
Death shifted his weight from foot to foot for a moment. AND... YOUR LAST WHAT-HAVE-YOU, IT WOULD MAKE THEM HAPPY?
"I... suppose so?"
Death took a moment to ponder the situation, then made a noise which sounded suspiciously like a long-suffering sigh. THEY'RE GOING TO GIVE ME ALL SORTS OF TROUBLE OVER THIS, YOU KNOW.
WELL, YOUR FATHER, FOR STARTERS. HE'S GOT A BETTING POOL WITH THE OTHER GODS, SOMETHING ABOUT THE MOST OBEDIENT MESSIAH, I WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION. ANYWAY, HE WON'T BE HAPPY.
Jesus shrugged. "Not much I can do about that."
Death glanced back at the weeping women. Finally, he threw his arms in the air. OH, BUGGER THIS FOR A LARK. IT'S NOT LIKE THEY CAN FIRE ME. COME ON.
Not quite understanding the situation, but doing his best, Jesus followed Death to a field where a white horse was pawing impatiently at the grass. "Am I to understand that you'll grant my request?"
YES, I SUPPOSE THAT SUMS IT UP. EASY, BINKY. COME ON, UP YOU GET.
They clambered onto the back of the horse, which promptly charged off across the... universe? Dimensions? Something...
"Where are we going, exactly?"
TO SEE MARGERY. SHE'S IN CHARGE OF REINCARNATION AND RELATED MATTERS OF LIFE AFTER DEATH. I'LL HAND YOU OFF TO HER, AND SHE'LL FIX YOU UP WITH A REANIMATION OR SOMETHING OF THAT ILK. THERE'LL PROBABLY BE A WAITING PERIOD.
"That's quite all right, I don't mind. Say, thank you for doing all of this for me."
DON'T MENTION IT. AND I DO MEAN THAT LITERALLY. I'D RATHER NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO ALL OF THIS, IF I CAN HELP IT.
"I don't mean to be a drag, but that probably isn't going to help."
DON'T I KNOW IT.
A moment later Jesus was dismounting Binky outside of a dilapidated old shack with a rocking chair by the door. Someone had left their knitting draped across the arm. He turned to the robed figure and smiled. "Thanks again, ah... Azrael, is it?"
OH, JUST DEATH IS FINE. NO NEED TO STAND ON CEREMONY.
"Right. Thanks again, Death. It's been an honor meeting you. Will I see you again?"
WELL, YOU'RE GOING BACK TO LIFE, AREN'T YOU? LIVING THINGS DIE. With that, Death flicked Binky's reins and galloped back across the dimensions to collect some other soul.
"See you around!" Jesus called, waving enthusiastically at the retreating figure. Turning, he squared his shoulders and marched to the door of the shack. It was time to meet Margery.
Meeting the Maker would just have to wait.
A/N: Reading reviews actually DOES make me squeal like a little schoolgirl and dance around. However, concerning this particular fic, you should be aware that any flames sent solely because I wasn't particularly reverent when perhaps I should have been will be promptly disregarded. Just a heads-up.