First of all, I'm not abandoning my other stories… Again. Well, no more than I already have. I just decided to write this after finishing the Soul Society Arc of Bleach. If you haven't seen Bleach up to this point, don't go any further! Major spoilers.

Plus, if you are offended by Christianity, don't worry-This isn't supposed to convert you. I just think that if people can create anime about homicidal priests fighting vampires and so forth, then it's okay to present a story with God involved. Hate or like it, please review.

After Life

A Bleach Fanfiction by Andrew J. Talon

Disclaimer: Bleach is not, and never will be, mine, nor am I writing this for profit. Thanks.

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It made no sense to Hitsugaya Toushiro. Absolutely none.

He'd heard about it from a few shinigami, in the wake of Aizen, Gin, and Tousen's betrayal. Among the detachment of Division 4 workers repairing his own division's headquarters, a few mentions of the organization had reached his ears. The strange, almost ludicrous notion, had stayed stuck in his head ever since that day.

It wasn't helped when Yamamoto-soutaichou brought up the fact that several members of the group in question had organized several aid packages of food, clothing, and medicine for the shinigami. Jindanbo had happily conveyed the supplies from the people through the gate, that were accompanied by cards and letters to various shinigami the members of the organization either knew or heard were injured.

Certainly, such sentiments and actions were welcome. There were few large community organizations in Soul Society anyway, aside from criminal ones, and one that had worked prodigiously to support Seireitei, even in such small ways, was admirable.

However, the white-haired captain could not really wrap his head around the concept of the organization.

The building was fairly large, and on the outskirts of the 35th District of Rukongai. Several homes surrounded it, as various people walked about or sat in the shade of trees. Old man played shogi or chess, women laughed and gossiped, children ran about happily. It was idyllic… Considering that the district in question, while not the slums, was no District 1.

He looked up at the simple painted sign above the double doors: Rusted Sword Church.

Hitsugaya fidgeted. Why am I so nervous?

"Yo, Shinigami-san!" The boy blinked, and turned around. He instantly chided himself for giving up his cover, as a stocky, older man with graying hair walks up. He's wearing what appear to be brown robes, tied with cheap rope. The old man gives the boy a smile.

"How did you…?" The captain began, before the old man shrugged.

"You don't exactly blend into the crowd… Hitsugaya, was it?" The white-haired shinigami blinked… Before sighing heavily.


"Come in?" The old man gestures, pointing to the church. Hitsugaya nods, and follows as the old man takes the lead up the dirt path to the building.

After passing through a stuffy main hall with chairs, pillows, and couches all arranged in rows in front of a hand-crafted podium covered in dents, they find a small office. Scrolls, books, and pens cover the desk and bookshelf, as well as the two chairs. Gracefully, the pastor organizes the various office supplies and clears space for both to sit, which they do.

Hitsugaya stares at the human, and the human stares back, slightly over his spectacles. His brown eyes are deep and warm, and for a moment Hitsugaya is reminded of Aizen. The office smells the same-Old paper, ink, a withered flower in a vase by the window.

"Well then… Captain Hitsugaya, what brings you here?" The boy looks back from the windowsill, and frowns. He is unsure of why he's even here… Aside from a question that's been haunting him ever since he heard of this place. These people.

"Why?" The pastor leans back, and studies Hitsugaya. He curses internally for just blurting it out like that, an image of Rangiku giggling forming in his mind.

The pastor hasn't responded. Hitsugaya takes a deep breath.

"Why did you make this church? This isn't Heaven. You haven't passed through any pearly gates. There aren't any angels singing, so why? Why a church? Why… Do you still follow your religion?" Hitsugaya got out, bracing himself mentally for an outraged reply.

The old man, instead, shrugs. He then smiles.

"Why not?"

Hitsugaya felt his jaw hit the floor, as the pastor elaborated.

"I'd say that this counts as eternal life, right? Crossing over here… And there weren't any pearly gates, sure… But so what?" The pastor leaned back. "Did the shinigami create Soul Society? Or Earth?"

"No," Hitsugaya responded automatically. The pastor nodded.

"Then that doesn't prove there isn't a God."

"But why do you still … Follow Him? Even here? Even in death?" The pastor shrugged.

"Eternal life is still life, Hitsugaya-san. Life is rough. It's not easy, and death clearly doesn't make it any easier. Which is why, yes, I started a church when I got here."

Hitsugaya's brow furrowed, as the pastor went on.

"If Jesus had meant for us to simply become Christians so that we went to Heaven when we died, then it wouldn't matter how we lived, right? As long as we're forgiven, we can do whatever we want." The pastor sighed. "The problem with that thinking, of course, is that that isn't what Jesus did. He helped, He healed, He taught, He traveled and made friends… In other words, He lived."

"… Being a Christian… Doesn't mean you're prepared for death?" Hitsugaya asked, confused. Admittedly he hadn't had a lot of positive exposure to Christianity when he was alive, but this seemed contradictory to everything he'd heard.

"I didn't say that. Some are, some aren't. We're people just like anyone else, after all," the pastor explained. "Hell, when I got here, I crashed every bar in the district. And then some." Hitsugaya frowned, and the pastor shrugged with a smile.

"After a while though… I thought it over. For a long, long time. I thought about what I had devoted my life to, and wondered if it was worth it to go on if the afterlife was no different from the previous one." Hitsugaya stayed silent, as the pastor closed his eyes and sighed deeply.

"But… I met a man. He was huge, dragging a rusting sword with him as he strode through town one day. At his sides were a bald man and a pretty man. And on his back, was a little pink-haired girl." The pastor smiled fondly. "They went into a bar. Not five minutes later, there was a brawl, and every man in there came out through the walls and windows."

Zaraki, Hitsugaya thought to himself.

"I later watched the man and his companions leave, only with the little girl holding his hand and giggling, looking up at the man as though he were her everything. A child, laughing, in the slums of the afterlife, with a man who looked like a demon. A demon who clearly cared for her." The pastor leaned back once more.

"And I remember thinking to myself, if such wonder, such love can exist here… Then why not God?" The pastor smiled.

"We are not doing this to get into Heaven, Captain Hitsugaya. Rather, we are doing it to bring Heaven wherever we go. Just as that man and his child did for me…"

After that, Hitsugaya felt incredibly disturbed, by the prospect that Zaraki Kenpachi, of all people, inspired a church to be formed in Soul Society. But, the more he thought about it, the more sense it made, as disturbing as it was. Bringing some light into an otherwise dark world was certainly something he could get behind.

When Zaraki found out, rather than going on a bloody rampage as many thought he would, he actually joined Rusted Sword Church, and attended services with Yachiru and other members of his Division he dragged along. The fact that the Division remained as violence-happy and rough as before, was an even bigger mystery that finally led Yamamoto to asking Zaraki about it.

The captain just grinned, and headed out, humming a hymn before beating the hell out of a few fresh recruits to his section.

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That's it, there isn't any more. Tell me what you thought.