Author's Notes: This is a first-person Aizen POV fic. It's a weird and convoluted attempt to look at Aizen's motives and history. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. Also, for the curious, the title is a German philosophical term for the dilemma of "If God is all-powerful, then why does evil exist in the word?"

Warnings: Some religious/quasi-religious stuff. Very very mild gore, maybe? Pretty much just a cursory description of blood.


Open your mind. Open your mind, if you please, and follow me...

Look. Over there, yes. Look. See the boy? The one with the wide eyes, sitting in his father's lap, listening intently to his words? You see the room around them, too; the rough wooden floorboards, the crackling fire in the grate, the threadbare rug, the rickety chairs and pitted table? Yes? Good. Good.

Now listen. Just hold your breath and listen.

"Father," says the boy. "Father, why do bad things happen? Why does God let bad things happen, if He is all-powerful? That's what the priest said, he said that God was all-powerful, so why...? It's not fair! Why?"

Because God wills it.

"God wills it? I thought He was good and kind... Why would God will it? God can't be so cruel! I thought—if he's—he should be kind!"

Only to those who have proved themselves to Him.

Eyebrows drawing together. He doesn't understand. But he believes, because believing is all that he has ever known and the light is so bright that to not believe in it would be to embrace the darkness, so full of uncertainty and horror and malice. He believes, because as far as he's concerned his father is as good as God. "How to you prove yourself, then?" he asks, voice a whisper, like a ragged scrap of paper blown in the breeze. He is wide-eyed. Desperate, even. Please, his eyes are saying. Please look at me. Please love me. Don't reject me, don't send me into the dark. Please don't be cruel to me. How do you prove yourself?

By being all that you can be.

By being all that you can be...

Do you understand yet? No? Then let me take you further.


There is blood staining the snow. The pines watch, in their dark tattered cloaks of green needle-leaves, and they cannot speak. They cannot tell the sky, the white impassive judge, of this travesty. They are mute and blank and wooden. They are ancient gods of nature and they do not care. The man lies in the snow, and around him the white becomes red. He is crying; his brown hair falls in strands around his head, wet and dark and as defeated-looking as the rest of him. The bandits who stole his purse and stole his life are long-gone, leaving behind only footsteps in the snow and a precariously flickering soul and hope and faith.

"Why, God?" He is gasping, whispering, barely able to speak, but he has to ask. He has to understand now. He has to throw away the blindness, throw away the . But he knows there will be no answer. "Why did you do this to me? I was good. I was kind. I was virtuous. So why?" Why did you betray me?

You did not do as your father told you to. You were not all that you could be. You were good. You were kind. You were perhaps the best person that ever lived.

But there is more to life than kindness, and meekness, and charity, and fear. Reach. Stretch out your hand, grab a handful of snow and force it not to melt just with the power of your will. Reach for the power. Reach beyond everything you have been. Be something more.

Something more.

Perhaps you understand now? In any case, there isn't any harm in elaborating more, is there? If you are willing to be educated, that is.

It's all about mathematics.

How many things can you cut away from yourself before you become too incomplete to walk? Where is the balance? I have spent my whole life—well. My whole death, if you want to be technical, and I'm sure that some of you do—finding that balance. It is a truly underappreciated pursuit. So many people are content just to labour onwards without cutting away the unnecessary; content to wear out their wings with all the weight of fear and worry that they have, content to fly always on the same plane, limited, never flying higher. It's actually rather sad. Perhaps, if somebody had just dared to reach before... perhaps the world would have been a better place.

It's all about mathematics. And it's all about the darkness, too.

We fear that darkness. We fear that which is different, that which we don't know. We fear the shadows just as much as we fear what they hide.

The first step to cutting away fear and soaring higher is understanding. Understanding what you do not know. To understand what you do not know you have to be what you do not know.

Be everything.

Be the kind man with the glasses, smiling at his vice-captain. Be the shining hero, the pillar of security who comes to save the day. Be the deceiver, who pulls the wool—the wool woven out of living lies—over everybody else's eyes. Be everything, and understand it all, and shed yourself of your fear. Dispel the darkness; not with light, with reality. Dispel the darkness and reveal the colour and beauty and rightness underneath it. Don't dazzle with false light; just strip away the shadows and reveal the truth. Once you understand the shadows—once you are the shadows—it's an easy matter. Everything becomes easy.

Be everything that you can be. And more.

I have been the eyes blinded by the light. I have been the son sitting on his father's knee. I have been the bird with broken wings. I have been the arms embracing a lie. I have been the feet that walk ever forward, seeking truth. I have been the mouth that does not know what it is saying. I have been the fingers that play on the heartstrings of those who love. I have been the hand that holds the downswung sword.

This is a world full of heartbreak and false truths and false light. No God sits in the throne within our souls. We are all believers, and we believe in lies, and so we are empty.

But not for long.