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My father says that almost the whole world is asleep...

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Thoughts on a Snowy Cliff
spiral_brow wrote in thewakelogs
Who: Sanji, Open
What: While - and after - making the snow-sculpture for Kergan, Sanji finds himself reflecting - and brooding - on what being in Nautilus means to him.
Where: Eastern District, on the cliffs by the Eastern Welcome House.
When: Dec. 14th, mid-afternoon-ish.
Warnings: It's Sanji, so possibly language. A warning for angst? ... Sanji is not really too happy by the end of this tl;dr. ^_^;;
Notes: !guest character. Feel free to backtag this! Threadjacking allowed, too, if you wanna hop into a scene in progress, unless otherwise noted.

Sanji had seen the post about some people planning a gathering to make snowmen up in the Northern District, but he didn't feel like being part of a crowd, nor did he want to enter the North. Sure, that big metal... thing had said if no one caused trouble, there was no issue... but the threat had rubbed him the wrong way, and he had no desire to step into his territory as of yet. He wanted to explore the East a little more, anyway. He'd been in there before, when he came to the Eastern Welcome House to give Miss Dana her cooking lesson, and he'd attended his first Bending lesson that morning.

He found a clear spot on the cliffs near the Welcome House and overlooking the beach, and began to build up piles of snow to make a snow sculpture of Kergan, and thought about what he'd learned. It was a weird sensation, Bending. To create something out of... absolutely nothing. It had sent a shudder up his spine, at the power one could have, with that ability. What people could do with such power. His first attempt was to try and Bend up an orange, but it had failed terribly -- it was overripe, very squishy, and way too sweet. It had still been edible, barely... but after eating it, Sanji had steadfastly refused to practice Bending on food, until he was sure he could get it right. He wasn't about to risk spoiling, and wasting, any more food with his practicing.

He also had asked how long it would be until he regained all his strength. Before leaving for the Bending lesson, he had kicked out at a thick tree on Budehuc's grounds. It had been a solid kick, but the impact did nothing more than perhaps knock a few loose shingles of bark off, and send a jolt up his leg. That was no good. He should have splintered that tree. His strength had definitely taken a knock, with his arrival here. He didn't know if his speed and flexibility were likewise affected, but it was a safe idea to think that they were. He'd been told it would take a lot of focussed effort, and work on regaining each ability one at a time, and that it would take weeks for his abilities to regain their full strength. Sanji had frowned, but nodded. Well, he was used to hard work and training. He would just have to make sure to lay low, and avoid any serious fights until he'd regained his abilities. He wondered if he could build up each ability gradually. Spend a week working on his flexibility, for instance, and work on strength the next, then speed the week after...

...was he already thinking about spending weeks here? Months?! What about returning to his crew? He had to get back! They needed him! ... He needed them, if he was to be honest with himself. Sure, people were nice here, but... they were his crew, his nakama. He pushed those thoughts aside for the moment, as he focussed on carving out the details on the sculpture he was building. After a while, he stepped back, and surveyed his handiwork. A female figure, representing Kergan, was lounging gracefully on some rocks... snowballs carved into various flowers scattered all around her. Sanji smiled. It looked good, if he did say so himself, and he hoped she liked it. He was no artist, but this wasn't too different from making shaped cakes... and the flowers at least were easy enough to do.

Sanji turned his gaze towards the sea, and found himself taking a few steps towards it. He stopped near the edge of the cliffs, and listened to the surf crashing against the rocks. He closed his eyes, and for a moment imagined he was back home, docked on some island, somewhere, and let the sounds of the sea soothe him. Or attempted to, anyway.

Thinking about the sea only reminded him of everything he'd lost since he came here. It wasn't even the loss of his strength that upset him, as it was being separated from everyone and everything he knew, and dropped into a wild, crazy place, full of metal giants and god-like figures and the ability to make reality shift to your will... and there really was no way home. Oh, sure, you could return to your world, but... it wasn't the same. You had no control any more over your life. Everything was pre-ordained, nothing you thought or felt mattered. You had no freedom in your own world; you were a prisoner of fate.

Sanji's jaw clenched around the cigarette he held in his mouth, and he glared - albeit sadly - out to sea. He hated this. He was adjusting, but he had no choice. He didn't live a sheltered life. He knew life was unpredictable, and unfair, and you had to roll with the punches and take what you were given, in order to survive. He'd put his own dreams and desires on hold, to pay back all that he felt he owed to Zeff... to make his dreams come true... to make sure the Baratie flourished, and was protected... But his dreams were still there, still possible even then... And now, even if he was chasing a legend, he was part of a crew that supported his dream... that had dreams of their own...

A dream that was useless, here. There was no All Blue, here. There was no NEED for the All Blue to exist. What good was it, if all you had to do was WISH for the fish you wanted, and BOOM! You had it! And what good was his dream back home, now that he had no CONTROL over finding All Blue himself? Oh, sure... it was his body, his dream, still... but it was none of his effort. If what these people said was true, it was like being a puppet... pulled by strings, manipulated by someone else. He was in that world, it was his body, his actions, but... not at the same time. It confused him, and gave him one horrible headache, trying to figure it all out. A part of him dreaded going back to his world, and discovering just what this would FEEL like... to see events playing out through his own eyes, but only be a passive observer.

It took the goal out of his dream. Even if it was his body, even if it was 'him' that eventually found All Blue... it wasn't the him who he was now... not the Nautilus Sanji... that had done it. His body had gone through the trials, his mind had followed the clues, his heart was still yearning for his dream... It was, and it wasn't, and it nearly made Sanji sick, trying to understand it all.

And if he felt this way, about his dream, and what it meant here in Nautilus... ...then how would the OTHERS feel, if they ever got dragged here?

He didn't like the answers he was coming up with.

Some of them would take it better than others, no doubt. Usopp would be freaked out upon arrival, but Sanji was sure he'd take to Bending easily. He had a great imagination, and that probably worked really well with Bending. His dream was to become a great, courageous warrior... and either here or at home, that was an accomplishable goal. Their newest crewmate, Chopper... he'd be scared upon arrival, too... but he was starting to warm up to humans, and was a friendly soul at heart... No doubt he'd make friends here. Sanji didn't know how Bending affected medicine, but if it all was just will, and re-shaping reality, well... that made almost anything possible, didn't it? And so many different worlds were here... How many different forms of medicine and healing were represented? Chopper could probably gain his dream here, too.

The others, though... Nami's dream was to map the world. Their world. A huge, daunting task... but if anyone could do it, he was sure his brilliant Nami-san was the one to do it. Was... mapping THIS world comparable? Or was this city all that existed, in this reality? How far did that sea stretch? Was there anything on the other side? At all? Sanji had no idea. He wondered if anyone else knew, either. And what'd he'd heard, of the city changing to suit its inhabitants... of buildings appearing all on their own... Was it even possible to map this place? Was it a futile effort? .... And the Marimo... what of his goal? To become the world's best swordsman. He had no idea if there were any swordsmen in this place, and he didn't care (though it would be nice to have SOMEONE to spar with, he grudgingly admitted. Doubtful they'd match up to the idiot, but... the Marimo was a class all his own. They knew each other's limits, too. Sanji snorted to himself and abandoned this line of thought). Would the shit swordsman consider them worthy opponents, though? If he arrived here, the idiot would probably just say he'd be the best of THIS place, too... be the best of both worlds, but... how much of that would be bravado, and - though it pained him to admit this - would the Marimo feel the same as himself? Would he consider the fact that he had no real control himself, over his life back home, a cheapening of his dream? That he really wasn't the one to obtain his goal? That he really hadn't been the one to fight Mihawk, and claim the title of World's Greatest?

And what of Luffy?

Sure, their captain would find this place an amazing adventure... full of fun and excitement to be had, but... There were no pirates here (as far as he knew, in any case). There was no Grand Line. There was no One Piece.

There was no Pirate King.

Sanji ground down on his cigarette, hissing faintly, frowning. No. They might adjust to things, if they arrived here... but he was sure it would hurt them, too. Their dreams had no substance, here. They had no goals here. Everything they had lived for... everything they had fought for... everything they had dedicated their lives to... was all for naught. Sanji had shoved his dream away for the sake of others, to repay a debt, before... he could do it again. His dream could be expendable. He would NOT want to see his nakama be forced to give up the same. If his being here in some way prevented anyone else from arriving, then... that was his toll to pay, and he'd accept that burden. It would hurt, and he already felt terribly sad and lonely... but if it meant that the others would never realise that their lives were just a 'dream'... if they could keep on living and dreaming... following and achieving their goals... then so be it.

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Sanji turned more to face the sea, a sort of sad, wistful smile on his face. "The sea holds the memories of all who've sailed on her seas... all that sleep in her embrace... It's been here forever, and will continue to be here forever." He paused, wincing a little and grinning sheepishly at her latter comment. Bad memories, huh? He wouldn't pry. He wouldn't want to inadvertantly upset the lady.

He turned to face her again, and smiled - what he thought was, at least - a charming smile. "It is my pleasure to meet you, Miss Circe," he said, gently taking her hand. "My name is Sanji." And, well, so much for catching him on the Network. Unless she moves quickly, he's bowing his head and raising her hand, attempting to be charming by placing a kiss on her knuckles. If she let him get away with that.

Oh god, he's a poetic soul. Well that's fine, just so long as he didn't recite sonnets or something. That would be -silly- though; who does that?

Circe's smile was considerably muted - more of a half smile really - when Sanji took her hand. Although at the very second he moved to kiss her hand, yep, she pulled her hand back.

At least she didn't kick him in the face or beat him over the head with a staff she doesn't have or anything. "Nice to meet you, Sanji." Both hands rest on her hips, and she nods her heads in the direction of the water. "You must like the sea, huh?"

Understatement, right? I'm right, right?

More romantic than poetic, really. But don't put it past Sanji to spout out sonnets when the mood called for it!

He blinked at the sudden loss of hand-in-his, and straightened up, grinning sheepishly. Despite his actions, he was capable of taking the hint sometimes. More easily done this time, too, thanks to his earlier mood.

He chuckled faintly, wryly to himself, and stuffed his hands back into his pockets as he turned to look at the sea again. Understatement of the year, Circe. He wondered, briefly, if he was willing to share this information with her... then decided it would do no harm. It wasn't any sort of secret, by any means - he was PROUD of who and what he was - but since arriving in the city he'd been on-guard, and still wanted to keep some details close to the chest. At least, until he knew there'd be no repercussions for revealing certain facts.

"Yeah," he said softly. "It's home."

There also wasn't as much of a stigma against pirates here or in her home, as there was in the Grand Line. "Home? So you lived close to the sea in your world... or you were a sailor or something?" He could also have had one of those houses on the sea she'd heard about, but never seen. "If that's the case then it's lucky that you ended up in the Eastern District, since the beach is already here."

There was the stigma against pirates, over most of the world... what with how many there were! Pirates clashing with Marines was practically an everyday occurance. Bu there were also pirate-friendly ports, and even neutral ports, that didn't care who you were, so long as you paid money and didn't cause trouble. Seeing the different types of people in this city, Sanji was starting to relax a little... but he was still unsure, and wanted to keep his secret a little longer, until he was sure.

He allowed himself a wry smirk, as he continued to look out to sea. "I guess you can say a sailor of sorts. I've lived most of my life at sea." He looked down to the ground, and tapped the toe of one shoe against it a few times. "If I'm going to be stuck here, I'm going to lose my sea legs..." He then let out a snort, and a laugh. "I didn't end up here. I arrived in that shitty Western District. I'm currently staying in the Southern Welcome House, until I can find a place of my own." His amused grin grew a little wider. "Guess you can say I'm touring the districts, counter-clockwise."

Circe's not one to judge at least? "Yeah? Must have been nice - I hear the sunrises at sea are really something else." She paused, "Well, it's not much but you could still bend a boat - a small one anyway - or something. Although I doubt it's even close to the same as what you're used to."

Maybe he could get a houseboat? "Western District ... that's the one with the red sky, isn't it." She frowned a bit, because that was also where she ran into Biowulf. "How long have you been here?"

"The sunsets, too," added Sanji with a grin. He chewed on the end of his cigarette (now almost a stub by this point), thinking on that. "I'd want to, at some point. To sail, and fish... if there are any fish in this sea." He chuckled, faintly. "I've been on a few ships in my life... some big, some small..." Sanji trailed off, thinking back on those ships... the Going Merry... and even the Baratie. It technically hadn't been that long since he'd left it, but it FELT like a long time... he and his crew had already been through a lot, and their adventure had just started!

He was thankful for the topic change, and looked back at Circe, wincing. "Ugh. Yes. Thoroughly shitty place. I'm amazed anyone can live there!" He rubbed the back of his head, frowning a little as he tallied the days up in his head. "Shit..." he mumbled lowly to himself. "It's been nearly a week already, since I got here." How did the time go by so fast? "How about you? How long have you been here, Miss Circe?"

"Must have been nice." Even though the beach reminded her of ... less fun times, she did like sitting outside the water tower and watching the sun set.

She was good at changing the topic when she got the sense someone was uncomfortable. Chuckling a bit at the description of the Western District, she shook her head. "Not sure what makes the district pick where people Wake up, but at least those creatures that live out there weren't around when you did. As for how anyone can live out there... some people seem to like it, I imagine."

Circe wasn't one of them. At the question, she paused, equally surprised by how time flew. "...Two, three weeks, maybe? I haven't been keeping track."

"It's all I've known," mumbled Sanji with a weak shrug. "It was good, though. Fuck... to learn it was all a dream?" His jaw clenched. "I don't believe it. It's real..."

He took out his cigarette stub, flicking it away in frustration and anger. He was still upset about Waking here, learning that his dreams meant nothing here, and that he couldn't affect his life back home any more. It wasn't proper to burden a lady with all this, though, so Sanji bottled it up. He shook his head faintly at her comment. "keh. Ran into a couple shitty spiders trying to find my way out." He shuddered. "Creepy! Guess you'd have to be equally creepy to like living there."

He glanced over at her, brow raising faintly. "You haven't been here much longer than me, then. You seem to be adjusting much better, though." A faintly goofy smile crossed his face. "I shouldn't be surprised, from such an intelligent lady like you."

"A dream?" Circe eyed Sanji oddly, "What was a dream?" Something back home, apparently.

As for herself - she wasn't that bothered about being here. Her friends were here, even though Cricket and Tuck were still missing. She would only hope that the rest of the Hong Kong 'family' would show.

And the rest of the Pack wouldn't. "I've had to adapt to situations quickly." Intelligent Lady - she grins wryly. Sometimes she didn't feel like one, when she thought about the choices she made in the past. "It helps that I have friends here. I'm not sure I'd be so adaptable without them around."

Sanji sighed softly. "I mean Waking up here... If we 'Wake' here, doesn't that mean our lives were a dream?" He shook his head. "No... home is too real to be a dream."

But one thing that was certainly a dream, a dream that was shattered, was his finding All Blue. Sure, he could still find it back home, but now he'd just be a puppet, pulled along by fate. He'd feel like he hadn't really put any of his own effort into finding it, even if his body DID. It was confusing, and headache-inducing.

At Circe's comment about having her friends here, something inside Sanji froze. His back straightened as he looked out to sea again. Friends. To have his friends here... his nakama. That's what he had been thinking about, before meeting Miss Circe... and come to the conclusion that no matter how lonely he might be, he didn't want to see his nakama come here. He didn't want to see them have to abandon their dreams... come to a world where their dreams were unobtainable, and meant nothing.

Sanji slowly withdrew his pack of cigarettes, pulling one out and lighting it. Letting out a slow plume of smoke, he watched it dissipate in the air. He slipped the carton back into his pockets, then folded his hands behind his back. "Humans are an amazingly adaptable sort. We can live through more shit than we'd ever think ourselves capable of..." he murmured lowly. "It's a matter of, no matter how hard things knock you down, you get back up... you just tell yourself to hang on for one more day..."

"No. That's not a dream." Of that, she was more than certain. "My friends have gone back to our home, and time has passed there. Here ... it doesn't. It's like things just stop there, until you go back. When you go back."

She gave a mild shrug, only to study Sanji's reaction to her mentioning her friends. "Yeah. Some things can't be helped - you'll do the sort of things you don't particularly want to if it's something you believe in in the end. If you think it's worth it."

She'd thought her situation with Van Kleiss was like that - thank god she saw the light. "It's ... not that bad here, really."

"I've heard that," said Sanji, nodding faintly. "I've also heard you're no longer in control of your body when you do go back..."

He let out a low hum. "'The ends justify the means', hm? Yeah. Human beings when they're desperate... can do some crazy shit."

Sanji then managed a soft chuckle, and glanced over at Circe again. "Oh, it's nice enough, don't get me wrong. A lot of the people here are amazingly helpful. And so many beautiful women~!" he sighed happily, staring up into the sky. He was lost in adoration for a moment, then remembered where he was, and chuckled sheepishly. "It's nice enough... ...It's just not home," he said softly.

He drew in a breath, then let it out slowly along with a stream of smoke. "But like it or not... I'm stuck here, now, so I'll have to make due." I might not like it, but I'll adapt. I have no choice. "Life's dealt me some shitty hands before. Compared to those, this is a Full House."

"Not in control?" Circe frowned, "I've heard that you can't use what you find here to affect what happens back home, but nothing about you not being in control of your body. Maybe you should talk to someone who actually has been back to their own world."

An eyebrow arched slightly - Sanji likes 'de ladies eh? Meh, everyone has a vice. If one can consider that a vice. "I don't know how long it takes a person to be able to go back to their own world, but making do with what you have in the meanwhile isn't so bad an idea. If you can bear with Nautilus' poor idea of taste and humor, that is."

"Yeah," grumbled Sanji lowly. "Another guy described it as if our lives were a book, already written, from start to finish. All we can do is watch it happen."

He shrugged a little, in response. "As with anything in this city, I've heard it's a matter of will and Bending. ... I think. I haven't experienced any of Nautilus' ideas of taste or humor. I'm surprised it even has one. I take it it isn't that funny..." he said, glancing over at her.

[ooc: this is set pre-Sideswipe announcement of poisoned food, and Lelouch cake so Sanji's not really aware of what the city can do, yet. ^.^;]

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