Foreword: I don't really have any specific music to recommend for reading this, but I was listening to Project Pitchfork's Timekiller when I wrote it. Probably doesn't fit the story too well >.>;

And do heed the rating. If you've got a weak stomach, certain parts of this probably aren't going to be to your liking(even though I tried to tone them down a bit).


Go


"Do you know why I love this game, Genryuusai-sensei?"

A white piece moved.

"Hm?" The old man sounded, his less capable eye having long-since slid shut for the duration.

"The depth. The complexity involved."

A black piece moved.

"That does seem to be right up your alley, Sousuke."

"My only point of contention..."

Another white piece moved. Entrapment.

"Is the stringent nature of playing white. If I had my way, white would be allowed to go first."

Yamamato's good eye looked up.

"Why is that? Going first is always a disadvantage in Go."

Sousuke smiled and pushed his glasses into place.

"I guess you could say I... Favor the preemptive strike, you know?"


His name was Dexter Jeanes. Born in America, immigrated to England and finally a missionary to Japan. Along the way, he had seen much -- his faith shaken and resolve hardened each time -- and he had become fluent in no less than seven different languages; English, French, Spanish, German, both dominant forms of Chinese and, most recently, Japanese as well.

None of them could even come close to providing the words to describe the situation he faced now. Not a single one.

The air was foul with smoke and the coppery scent of blood. Chaos reigned and Death was its lieutenant.

"DEXTER!" Someone -- his wife -- was screaming as he kicked the door down and stepped out into the open.

The first thing to greet him was the sight of his wife, a Japanese woman named Aiko, staggering forward and going to her knees in pain. Blood was spraying from her chest, but there were no visible wounds on her body at all. Nearby, a hut belonging to a local farmer exploded, and then that Ishida man came running into view. His glove was off, he was cursing in his native tongue and making a gesture as if drawing a bow string. The elaborate, almost heretical cross he wore as a sign of his faith was swinging and stained with blood from his fingertips.

And then something struck him from behind.

Ishida's legs tore off at the thighs and his body hurtled skyward. It was all Dexter could do to stomach watching his chest explode.

"WHAT IS THIS?" He screamed, suddenly remembering Aiko's plight.

Without thinking, Dexter rushed forward to try and get to her...

And then stopped cold. It felt like he had slammed into a wet wall of rubber. His glasses broke in an instant, and when he stumbled back, he could hear distinct footsteps even against the background noise of Hell on Earth. When he looked down, he could see hoof-shaped imprints in the ground. When he looked up, the world before him started to blur within the shape of something...

Something demonic.

"Oh God n---"

His sentence cut off as what felt like a hammer crashed into his body and face. A few second later, the barely-conscious missionary crashed back into the roof of a house; skidding up several rows of sticks, straw and stones before stopping at last. He couldn't feel anything beneath his waist, and one of his arms was completely broken.

"AIKO!" He screamed, tasting blood.

When he got no answer, he finally forced himself to sit upright with nothing but his good arm.

The last thing Dexter Jeans ever saw as a living human being was a creature with blank eyes, red scales and a claws as long as his legs.

His faith in God cracked the moment he felt them stab through his chest.


A black piece moved.

"I suppose the preemptive option has its advantages... Executed properly, it can be complex and intricate -- maybe even invincible," Yamamato conceeded. "But the time it takes... Much easier to defend than to attack."

"Not necessarily," Sousuke replied.

A white piece moved. The chain was closing.

"All it takes is basic strategy and a good dose of patience."

A black piece moved. Yamamato didn't reply.

"Perhaps a bit of ruthlessness as well, but that can't really be helped. I like to think that the preemptive approach actually reduces the cost in lives. A properly executed preemptive attack includes a good bit of subterfuge, and an enemy who can't coordinate from the top down is an enemy fighting at the lowest common denominator. It's like a chandalier..."

A white piece moved. Yamamato quietly strummed his fingers through his beard.

"If you break the top of the chain anchoring it to the ceiling, the rest falls down and breaks under its own weight. Anything left can then be cleaned up with the minimal amount of effort."

Yamamato's good eye lifted, his other finally opening back up. His expression was unreadable.

A black piece moved. The game suddenly reversed.

"Too true, Sousuke."


When he awoke, Dexter found himself in the middle of a blackened forest. His vision was a blur, his body was still hurting and he was suddenly left with the feeling of being completely naked. When he looked down, he was disturbed to find that he wasn't far off the mark.

In place of the awkward combination of hakama pants and a long-sleeved Preacher's shirt, Dexter was wearing a dingy white haori, tied shut with a matching belt. Everything else was completely barren.

"Where am I?" He asked, though nothing answered him.

For a time, all he could do was sit and stare at his surroundings.

Then he heard it again.

Someone was screaming in the distance. Dexter didn't recognize the voice, but the Good Book didn't teach inaction in the face of suffering. With a vigor he didn't know he had, the man heaved up to his feet and stumbled a few paces before breaking into a run. He moved with speed beyond human, and as quickly as he had heard the voice, he was suddenly aware of a burning hunger that twisted in his stomach and raised bile in his throat.

Within seconds, he had reached a clearing.

The sight that greeted him was one of horror.

A man clad in a white shihakyushi, stained red and brown in numerous places, stood over a woman with pink hair. She wore nothing, and trailed blood from her lower regions as if something unspeakable had happened.

Dexter's faith in God broke just a bit more when the man cut her head in half.

All he could do was stare. His eyes started to water, and within a second or two, he became aware that he was surrounded on all sides.

"GAIJIN!" Someone shouted. "SHIN GAIJIN!"

The next thing he knew, he was ducking a sword aimed at his head. Then another for his heart, and then...

Then the apparent leader -- the man in the shihakyushi -- leapt into view.

Dexter's back was against a tree. The man's sword was held high. His followers were to either side, practically salivating at the opportunity being given to them...

The chance to spill more blood.

Screaming again, Dexter threw his arms up in some vain protection. He cowered back against the tree, hoping against hope -- praying to God -- for some sort of salvation...

The sword struck him.


Sousuke blinked. Yamamato had turned the game around in a single move.

"Now I remember why I've never beaten you at this," he commented. There was no sourness in his voice, nor an unnecessary level of praise; just respect. Well-earned respect.

"Keep trying. We've still got another three hours before sundown," Yamamato ordered, his scarred old face screwing into a grandfatherly smile.


The next thing Dexter knew, he felt a light pressure across his forearms.

When he opened his eyes, the sword had stopped dead against his skin. There wasn't even the slightest cut.

In shock, he looked down to see that the wielder's hands were not only bleeding; several of his fingers were broken. As this set in, the man's hold began to loosen...

A second later, Dexter snapped. He blacked out completely grabbing the sword's blade and tearing it in half.


A white piece moved. Unspoken defiance, masked behind a smile of his own.
When he finally came to, all three of the men who had attacked him were... No longer men.

The bodies couldn't even be identified as human anymore. Their clothes were ripped, their heads... Gone. Limbs twisted in ways that nature did not intend, blood sprayed across everything in sight...

His hands were dripping with it.

Unsure of what had happened between breaking the blade and now, all Dexter could do was stare at his surroundings all over again. His breath caught in his throat; his stomach twisted.

He was hungry.

He had killed them.

They were all dead.

And then, it hit him...

"I'm dead."

Was this Hell? What had he done to deserve this?

He was hungry...

His stomach growled like an angry animal. His knees finally gave out; Dexter fell forward and found himself knelt down on blood-soaked grass.

There was a piece of something nearby. Something meaty. Had it been one of them? Had it been one of the very men he had just killed?

"God..."

He started to sob uncontrollably...

But he was so hungry.

How could he go on this way?

Hunger drove him now...

He reached out and...

Dexter Jeanes' faith in God finally shattered the moment he tasted flesh.


A black piece moved. Yamamato's smile faded against the challenge.

"Mugenko," the old man pointed out somewhere between their moves.

"Hm?" Sousuke sounded, looking up from the board with a brow raised.

"Infinite eternity. Our pieces there," he pointed to their previous lock-up, "look like a double-helix. The sign for infinity. It also violates the ko rule of no repetition."

"I hadn't noticed," Sousuke replied amusedly.

A white piece moved.

"Just a minor detail, really."

A black piece moved.

"True. Even so, a minor detail can make all the difference in the world..."

Another white movement and the game was in his favor once again.


Time lost meaning somewhere between feedings. Though he counted, the weeks it took him to rationalize his need to survive blurred together to the point that it didn't matter.

Eventually though, luck finally struck him.

On a night when the moon was out and the air was cold, Dexter staggered out of the forest and into a ramshackle town filled with broken down huts. People were there -- lots of them. Most were women, with a few men and boys scattered amongst their number. Few were dressed any better than the kind of haori he had first woken up in.

The moment they saw him, they started rushing indoors. Parents grabbed children who looked nothing like them, elderly folks were literally yanked in through open windows and everywhere he looked, people were running from him.

In a way, he liked it.

Back to some form of civilization though, the weight of his actions returned in full-force.

Visions flooded in with them. Flashes of memory. The first was of Aiko, then the beast that killed him. Another followed suit of being towered over by a samurai in black, which in turn was followed by one of him being given a small slip of paper saying North 80. More followed...

And more.

And more still, until finally...

Dexter Jeanes let out his death scream.


A black piece moved. Cool confidence on both their faces.


When he finally awoke, he was naked beneath a straw blanket. There were no bandages, but he wasn't dirty either. The ceiling overhead was familiar -- if only because he recognized the form of construction put into it. The walls of the room were thin and wooden, dotted with pits and small holes. The floor was little more than hard-packed dirt, and it was a wonder why anyone had even left a pillow under his head.

Slowly but surely, he sat upright. At the same time, he heard the door sliding open.

"What's your name?" A woman's voice asked. Calm and soothing.

For a time, he just stared forward. Then he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned, slowly, to regard his apparent caretaker.

At once, he was awestruck. She was a beauty beyond anything he had ever seen. Aiko -- the woman who had been Dexter Jeanes' wife -- literally paled in comparison. Her hair was long, braided thickly across her back, and her clothing consisted of the same haori-based garb as everyone else; something that scarcely kept her stunning figure covered up. If not for his already-present state of shock, the man would've been blushing from ear to ear just looking at her.

She regarded him in kind. Her face, slightly blurred in his vision due to his missing glasses, possessed a neutral expression. He couldn't tell if she was happy, sad or even just curious...

"Please, tell me your name," she said again, giving his shoulder a squeeze. Reflexively, his arm almost shot up and smacked her.

She caught it instantly.

"Calm down. There's no need to fight right now, stranger."

She smiled. It didn't reach her eyes.

"Where am I?" He asked at last. His voice was raw from how little he had used it over the past... However long it had been.

"Rukongai, North quarter, Area 79. It looks like you came from 80. You're lucky I talked the locals out of killing you."

"I thought---"

"Yes. You're already dead," she answered his question before he had even asked it.

The confirmation of death was enough to make him lightheaded.

"Do you have a name?" She asked for the third time. The hand she had on his arm slipped down into his own and gave it a squeeze.

"I..."

He paused.

If Dexter Jeanes was dead, then who was he?


A white piece moved. Equilibrium was fleeting.


"Aizen Sousuke," he concluded. He didn't have the slightest clue why.

This made her smile though. Her hand squeezed his once again, and the one on his shoulder soon reached down to pat his back.

"Unohana Retsu. If I may say though, you hardly look Japanese."

"Neither do you," he replied simply.

A few seconds later, both of them burst out laughing.


"Pass," Yamamato said.

"Giving me the initiative?" Sousuke asked, glancing up from the board.

"Yes. I don't recall you ever once playing black, which means I've never once played you without you being disadvantaged."

There was a short pause. Sousuke smiled.

"You want to test my ability to fight an uphill battle, Genryuusai-sensei?" He asked with a pleasant tone. The shine of light off his glasses hid the challenge in his eyes. There was nothing benevolent about it.

"Indeed."

A white piece moved.


A year ticked by. Sousuke healed and learned. Then one day...

He walked into Retsu's hut and eased the door open. She greeted him with her usual intellectual look. He greeted her not with a hello, but a request to walk and an urgent tone.

A little later, they came to a stop at the edge of the village.

"What is it you wanted to speak to me about?" Retsu finally asked, patient and calm.

"Shinigami academy," he answered. "I want to go and enroll."

For a moment, he stared down at her. She didn't look at him, not at first, but eventually...

"And you want me to go with you?" She asked, looking up and meeting him eye to eye.

"Yes."

Her only answer was to glance back to the village, then reach into her haori. Anyone else would've been staring at the movements of her chest. Sousuke was watching her face. He was eager, but patience held him in check. Right now, he wanted nothing more than to grab her hand and drag her running all the way to the Seireitei, but Retsu was strong. If not physically, then spiritually and mentally. She was his only equal in this place, and the only one who knew of his origin...

But at last, she drew her hand out and brought both together. A moment later, she held up a pair of glasses and slipped them onto his face. They hung crooked at first, but with Retsu's hands to guide them, they straightened almost immediately.

"That is my answer," she stated.

It was the closest to a yes that she was ever going to give him.

"Then I have one last request," he began, still looking into her eyes. It was the first time he had seen them clearly, and even more than the rest of her, they were beautiful.

"Don't tell anyone I came from Area 80," he asked, his voice low and unsteady.

Retsu answered him with a kiss.


A black piece moved.
The next three months were spent in a state of something like intellectual bliss. The further they moved, the closer they became. There was never a declaration of love, because neither of them really felt that it was like that. Intimacy became common though, and every day brought a new conversation about the meaning of something or other. Few details of their past lives were shared, and it was just as well. Both were dead after all -- their past lives no longer mattered anymore.

As they trekked from one area to the next though, it became increasingly apparent just what kind of Hell they were running from. Every single village became cleaner and friendlier. Even more so, both his appearance and her own started to change.

Sousuke went through four pairs of glasses. Retsu made every single one of them, and each was sturdier than the last. The most recent pair was wire-framed, almost English looking. His glasses weren't the only thing to change though; he had pants now. Patchmade and flimsy, but pants nonetheless. Retsu's haori had lengthened into a yukata of many colors.

At last, the pair arrived at the Northern Gate of the Seireitei. No guard greeted them, but the welcome was still less than gracious. Twice, people that Sousuke came to know as Shinigami stopped and searched them. One particular fellow even went so far as to grope Retsu...

Until she broke his arm in eight places.

Needless to say, their entrance into the Academy went without objection. They were among the first students the place had ever accepted, sharing class with a joker named Kyouraku Shunsui and a genius named Ukitate Juushirou. At first, neither Aizen nor Unohana stood out...

Then came the day they acquired their Zanpakutou.


A white piece moved.

"You play well in this ordering," Yamamato said.

A black piece moved.

"I suppose I really do prefer the preemptive strike after all," Sousuke replied.

A white piece moved, and the chain broke.


"Today will be the first day you wield a sword," their instructor said, passing out a set of mundane looking katana. "Of note is the fact that every one of these is a nameless Zanpakutou -- unreleased. While a select few are capable of generating special properties even in their unreleased state, you have to learn the sword's name and--"

The explanation of Shikai was cut short when Shunsui let out a shout. His sword had somehow split in two the instant he had drawn it from its sheathe. The second half clattered to the ground and became a wakizashi, leaving the first to suddenly regain its length.

The instructor stared a few moments.

Then Retsu, who had also just gotten her sword, let out a deep breath as her own sword split the sheathe and curled into something like an Arabian saber.

Sousuke's remained normal. In a way, he was disappointed by this.

Then, a day or so later, as sparring matches began, he stopped caring quite so much. At first, the unique shapes and styles of a few swords gave their owners a head up on opponents.

Then Sousuke started using that against them.


Yamamato stared in shock.


Kyouraku was first on his unspoken hit list. He bested the senior student by simply overwhelming him with sheer power. He split the older student's swords from each other and broke his jaw with a hilt bash to the chin, prompting a round of applause from most of the other students.

Retsu became his second target.

It came on the third day. The instructor paired them off and left them alone.

For the longest time, neither even moved, let alone drawing their swords. Rather, as their fellow students bested each other left and right, the two stared.

In the end, it was Retsu who struck first.

With speed she didn't look capable of, the woman rushed at him and drew her saber. Sousuke replied in kind, blocking her attack with a sword draw and then twisting in. They were back to back for a moment, each one stampeding sideways towards the other's former position. Then, as one, they twisted around and struck again.

Katana met scimitar in a shower of sparks. Both their hands bled from the impact, but Sousuke was quicker.

As Retsu went into the necessary footwork to recover, Sousuke lunged forward and thrust his sword across her shoulders and back. The blade slit through the back of her shirt, its flattened back all but rolling over her shoulderblades before he ducked under her arm and spun around. His hand shot out onto the ground, his body coiled into a crouch and the tulwar slipped overhead, its curved blade tangling against the katana's own.

Sousuke shot up in an instant and yanked his sword along with him, jarring Retsu's from her hand and catching it in mid-air. Along the way, he cut through the skin between thumb and palm, which served as just enough of a distraction to leave her unguarded.

Aizen finished Unohana's prospects of winning with nothing but a kick to the chin.

She was unconscious by the time she hit the ground.


"Very impressive indeed," Yamamato said, his voice rougher than usual as he tugged at his beard.

"I'm glad you approve, Genryuusai-sensei," Sousuke said, and actually meant it. Recognition from an enemy was a rare thing.


The finish was met with silence from observers. Sousuke's response was automatic and, to a large extent, sincere: He panicked.

The instructor then excused him and he was ordered to scrape Retsu off the floor and take her to the Fourth Division headquarters. He did both without complaint or objection, sheathing his sword and then scooping his sparring partner up with a worried look.

It was when he was alone with her, out of sight of his classmates and any other observers, that Sousuke felt it.

A pulse from his left hip. Something screaming at him from his stomach to his brain. His senses went haywire and the next thing he knew...

He was standing in a field of flowers on the moon.


For a moment, Genryuusai pondered, and then...
"Do you know why I called you hear, Dexter?" The Zanpakutou's spirit asked.

"Dexter is dead," Sousuke answered so quickly that his blood boiled. "And where is Unohana?" He demanded, feeling the pile of flowers in his arms collapse to the ground.

"Deception, Sousuke," the spirit replied, addressing him by his real name. "Deception is the key." "The key to what?"

"Strength. Do you know that the Throne in the Sky is empty?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Surpass God."

He stopped.

"Surpass... God?"

"Yes. Because if you don't, no-one will."

"... How?"


"I conceed defeat," Yamamato said at last. He was smiling, and it was one of the few occasions that it ever reached his eyes.

Sousuke returned the gesture wholeheartedly, bowing his head in respect as he did so.

"Thank you, sensei."

"I don't think I'm your sensei anymore, Sousuke. There's nothing left for me to teach you."

For a moment, there was silence.

"I want you to become my successor," Yamamato stated.


"You know, Retsu," he began. She was finally awake after being unconscious for an entire day. "I... Lie a lot."

"Hm?"

"I feel like a deceiver."

"We're all liars, Sousuke. We wouldn't be here if we weren't."

He stared at her.

"What do you mean?"

"We both know that the real reason you came here was for redemption, and the real reason I came here was to become a better healer," she said, looking up at him with an expression that he couldn't quite peg as sadness. Then again, he couldn't think it neutral either. It was empty.

Hollow.

"What are you getting at, Retsu?" He asked.

"We should start being honest with ourselves," she answered. "And carrying on like we have been is as dishonest as we can be."

Whatever relationship the two had beyond professionalism, it died when Sousuke left the hospital room.

They never spoke closely again.


"I... Can't do that, Yama... Yama-ji," Sousuke said, borrowing Shunsui's nickname for the scarred old Commander.

"... Why not?"

"Because..."


It was a bright night out when he left the hospital. His chest felt empty, but his goals were clear. No-one knew of his Shikai yet, and whatever abilities he acquired down the road, they would be kept secret or lied about as well. His weaknesses would be eliminated -- even the need for glasses. He would master everything the Shinigami had to offer, and if that didn't take him far enough...
"Because I still have work to do, Genryuusai-san."


Slowly, Aizen Sousuke looked up into the sky. His eyes locked to the moon above, and a smile crept across his face.

"I'm going to stand in the heavens," he uttered to himself.


If that didn't take him far enough, he would find some other way.


There would never be another Dexter Jeanes, and there would never be another Aizen Sousuke.

End
Author's Notes: Much as people despise Aizen for skewering cute little obsessive Momo and plotting to murder that mary-sue magnet of romance fiction, Rukia, the guy's a friggin' blast to write. I honestly don't think I did justice to how I view his character -- I didn't take it far enough to bring in Gin and Hinamori, Hitsugaya, Renji and Kira, but Eh. Maybe I'll edit that stuff in sometime. Here, I just wanted to show the source for Aizen's motives -- and even at that I probably failed.

After all, when a man is a skilled enough deceiver to best a renegade genius like Urahara and lure virtually all of the Gotei 13 into civil war and then walk away successfully without a freaking scratch, you know there's more depth to him than what we've been shown so far.

I took a few liberties with his background and the timeline, but since it seems to be a blank slate for any manga-exclusive Bleach fan, it's not like I had much to work with. Same goes for Unohana. I figured there had to be some special connection between those two for her to be the only person in all of Soul Society to have any real clue what Aizen was up to, however small it was. I tried to portray their relationship as being purely intellectual with a touch of heartfelt sentiment that only appeared at the very end, and just so you know: Aizen's Zanpakutou may very well have been deceiving him in his last conversation with Retsu >.>

Now for a few other things...

Dexter Jeanes basically means One who Dyes Blue. Aizen Sousuke can be taken to mean something like Indigo Dye or some such. It can also be taken to mean Love Before Mediation. Hence the Unohana tidbit, as well as Aiko. I made him American-born and English-raised for a simple reason: The guy looks white and Americans are typically villians in Anime and Manga. Additionally, in this story, he arrived at Soul Society sometime in the 17 or 1800s.

Unohana has always struck me as being Ainu(a Japanese people analagous to Native Americans) or Native American. Her weapon strikes me as being Arabic or Indian(hence the Tulwar designation. Wasn't sure if I should call it a Scimitar or a Saber or what).

AND LASTLY! The pink-haired woman might have been Yachiru's great-great grandmother(if she has one). Draw your own conclusions on that one, cuz I ain't speculating.

... And if you can't tell: The title is derived from the game Yamamato and Aizen were playing; Go.

So with all that out the way: Hope you enjoyed it. Kudos!