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

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Thoughts on a Snowy Cliff
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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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Kergan watched him thoughtfully. Very few thought about this as deeply as he did, as quickly as he did. It was difficult to gauge whether she'd said too much or too little. Kergan believed it was best that he know as much as possible, however, since it was clear he wanted to take the decision seriously. It didn't sit well with her to withhold information he needed to know. He would discover it all sooner or later anyway.

"Well, I can't pretend to know what Nautilus is thinking, but I trust him. It's not really something I pictured myself doing either, but here I am!" she shrugged. "And I think you've got enormous potential. Maybe you'll start to see it too, in time."

She flicked a small seed at the ground, then lifted her hand to coax it to grow into a young bud, a sprouting twig, then a spindly sapling. The branches were bare as she stroked its trunk. "Most people live their lives, experiencing only one path. You make a choice here, it leads to more choices...more paths...more branches. Until you reach your fruit." As she spoke, she chose branch after branch until reaching the tip, where a peach blossom began to swell into a ripe, firm fruit. "Some bitter, some sweet. But in Nautilus, we aren't restricted by the limited time of a mortal existence. We can follow as many paths as we like. If our fruit turns out bitter, can we not try again until we get one that's sweet?

The tree blossomed, branches growing heavy with peaches.

"And of course, we're not sacrificing our old dreams and goals. We're just exercising a little patience." Kergan reached out, plucking a peach, and handed it to Sanji. "Even if world-making isn't your bag, there are others who could use your help. You'll find your niche...or several of them, as the case may be. But nothing's permanent, right? Go to sleep, if it's too much, you can always wake up later. Or stay, and return when you wish to rest. You're free to choose what you want, and to choose multiple times."

(OOC: Agh I hope I am making sense!)

Sanji watched in awe as the tree grew right before his eyes, listening to Kergan's soft, wise words. They made sense, to him... the concept of choices and branching paths. His brow furrowed a little, and he glanced at her. "What do you mean by... we aren't held back by a... 'mortal existence'." He needed clarification, before his thoughts went wild on whatever that statement meant. Were they all dead here? Just spirits, on a higher plane, or some crazy shit like that?! He could feel a small kernel of panic, but managed to shove it down.

To have unlimited chances, though...? If you fail once, to have the ability to try again, and again, until you succeed? Was that what she was saying? Or was it that you could try anything, here? Be free to follow whatever goals you set for yourself?

He gingerly - almost reverantly - accepted the peach, turning it over and over in his hands... feeling the firmness of the fruit, the softness of its skin, the slight tickling of its fuzz... it felt like a perfect peach. Smelled like a perfect peach, too. Would it taste just as perfect? He didn't want to interrupt Kergan, or the mood, to try... so for now he held onto it. He'd try it later, when he had the time to properly appreciate it.

Sanji rubbed the peach absently, glancing down at the snow. "Patience as in... how? My dream exists in my world. If I'm just a puppet, back home... even if I go back to Sleep, I'll at some point have known that... It will feel like a lie. Even if I do accomplish my goal back home... I fear I'll feel that it still wouldn't have been me accomplishing it... because I couldn't influence my own life anymore," he said softly with a frown, then shrugged faintly. "Yes, I can eke out a new life here... find new goals, and new reasons to be... I don't want to sound like I'm coming across as whining, or anything. Life sucks, sometimes, and you have to live with what you're dealt. Stand up and keep going, keep fighting. It's just..."

He sighed, and raked a hand through his hair. "Back home, I'd put off following my own dreams for so long," he murmured. "I had debts to pay... a life owed. Now, I have nakama, so dedicated to their own dreams... and they'll help me to reach mine... Such drive and passion to reach those dreams... The thought that I can't control my own life anymore? That it's already been all planned out...?" He winced, and massaged his brow.

"...It's a bit much to take all in..." he said dryly.

[ooc: no worries! You're making perfect sense! ^.^]

"What do I mean? Well," she said, crossing her wrists upon her knees, "think about it. You don't just create items through willpower, you can also cause effects, gain abilities, make yourself younger, older, pink." She giggled. "All you need is willpower and practice. And if you practice enough, and stick around for a while, eventually you'll get the chance to hop around the different worlds. That includes your own."

Her head tilted faintly, her attention resting momentarily on the unbitten peach, then shifted back to Sanji.

"You have more freedom than you ever did before. I'd hardly say that 'sucks'." She alighted from her chair, boots crunching in the snow. "It takes some time to get used to it all, and to see the big picture. But I think you'll be fine. Nautilus seems to think so, if he called you here. And don't forget," Kergan said, wagging a gloved finger, "you chose to answer that call on some level. There's a part of you that needs this. So chin up, huh?"

"You can... change what age you are...?" Was there nothing that you couldn't do in this place?! And to explore other worlds? An endless sea of worlds? It didn't hold too much interest to him, but he could imagine how others on his crew would be thrilled with it. And to go home... The core problem still remained, though; he wouldn't be able to control his own life there.

In some ways, perhaps, he had more freedom here... It didn't feel much like it, at the moment, though... or he couldn't see how it could be considered freedom, stuck in this city. He wasn't about to argue, though... he'd already disagreed enough times with a pretty lady! The city wanted him here...? Why? For what purpose? HE had chosen to come here? Somewhere, deep down... he'd wanted this? 'Needed' this? How? So, so much to think on...

He managed a shaky, wry grin and stood, saluting her. "Yes, my Lady!"

Kergan planted her hands on her hips, cocking her head to the side. "Ooh. Not quite right. But it's nice to see that you're trying!" she nodded sagely, grinning. "I mean, as if I haven't already hammered the point home enough as it stands, your willpower is what's going to get you far. So don't give up, and if you absolutely have to feel discouraged, don't let it get you down for long."

The Deva adjusted her head, giving one more succinct nod as if to say all was now settled.

"Well, that about does it. Any other questions?"

Well, Sanji trusted that he had a strong will. Most of his crewmates did. It seemed to be a common thread, that Luffy found in each of them. Even the cowardly Usopp had his moments. He joined this crazy crew, didn't he?

"I won't, my Lady! Thank you so much for all your wise advice," he said, bowing to her. He glanced back to the peach he still held, then carefully pocketed it, and looked back out to sea. "None that I can really think of at the moment, my Lady. I fear I've taken up enough of your precious time as it is."

(OOC: Ack! 'Hat' not 'head'!)

Kergan just smiled at that. Time was precious, true, but as he'd put forth so much effort into the beautiful snow sculpture, she felt he'd earned a little pep talk. "Hope it helps! And don't worry about it," she grinned, nose wrinkling in mirth. "I've been bouncing from world to world for the last several months, it was nice to sit still for a change."

With an energetic wave farewell, the Deva vanished in a flutter of flower petals.

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