85 Days Around the World
Summary: 29. Depressed. And leaving for an adventure. You never know how much your life and the people around you are worth until they are tested. Sanji-centric. Gen.
Sanji first left home because there was nothing there. Months passed in a single day, everyday melted into the next until he didn't know where one ended and the other started. Meals were as tasteless as his breath, not even bitterness lingered. Only endless emptiness. And that was when he decided he needed a change.
It didn't take much. He didn't really have anyone. Shoving some hastily made sandwiches, bottled water, clothes and a couple of items that made a typical survival kit, he bought a ticket and boarded a cruise.
He never expected the storm.
Drifting. Drifting. The sun was burning through his clothes, the salt stinging his skin.
He didn't know how he survived but now he was sort of regretting it. It was an open ocean as far as the eye could see on all sides. All his smokes were damp but he doubted his lighter would work anyway. He'd always imagined himself dying with at least a cig between his lips. The smoke could represent his soul or some shit. It sounded like a cool way to go. To him, at least.
"Fucking exciting." At least the sky was blue.
It would be fantastic if he just bloody knew which direction the nearest island was. There wasn't a soul in sight. No one had drifted here with him. Even a dead body would be welcome at this point. God, it had only been a day and he was already missing humans. Funny thing. Because he could've sworn he always told himself that he hated them. Fucking people, always around to ruin his day.
And now they were gone when he needed them.
Fuck. He was bored out of his mind. He didn't know dying was this boring. Living was bad enough.
A plank of wood. A plank of FUCKING WOOD.
It was the most amazing thing Sanji had seen since the bolt of lightning that struck down the mast. Whoever designed that ship was a fucking failure at life and they deserved whatever hell that was coming to them.
Sanji paddled over to the plank and clung on. As grateful as he was that there hadn't been a storm since, floating on his back for 2 whole days was giving him a stiff back and a crick in the neck the likes of which he'd never imagined possible. This piece of wood in his hands was the cutest, most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. Cuter than that teddy bear he had dragged around for 3 years of his life until it was so worn down it camouflaged into the sand he was playing in on his fifth birthday. It was more beautiful than any woman he remembered holding.
"Not as beautiful as you though, Nami." He croaked, hugging the piece of wood tightly.
Three was the magic number right? Three minutes without air. Three days without water. Three weeks without food. Clinging to the plank with one arm, he squeezes his other arm and shoulder out of the wet straps of the backpack fasted onto him. Digging through it his hands found the water bottle. Half full. Somehow his backpack was with him during the wreck, at the time the extra weight had threatened to drag him down into the depths of the ocean and if he had the presence of mind he would've ripped it off him but he was so fucking glad he was scared mindless at the time.
He took a careful mouthful, swivelling the liquid around his mouth, letting its soothing touch reach all the crevices before swallowing it bit by bit. He lay back on the plank, his right hand loosely holding the bottle to his chest, dozing off to the gentle rocking of the sea. There was nothing to do but sleep and wait here. Wait for rescue? Wait for land? Whatever came first. Worries and doubts only took energy here and he needed all the energy he had to live. He didn't know he wanted to live this much. He licked his lips, his tongue sticky and dry.
He thought about all the people back home. He thought about Carne and Patty and their ugly mugs. He thought about Zeff, his adoptive father who always complained how useless he was around the kitchen and the secret smiles he would catch when Sanji redoubled his efforts. He thought about Zoro and his stupid moss green hair and how it must look completely at home with all the seaweed at the bottom of this ocean.
"I think...I want to live after all."
He'd been careless. Four days of doing nothing and nothing happening would do that to you. He forgot his bottle was made out of some shit shiny material that some shittier bird spotted and fucking THIEVED it.
"FUCKING STUPID BIRD. I SWEAR I'LL HUNT EVERY LAST ONE OF YOUR KIN DOWN AND ROAST THEM OVER THE FUCKING FIRE AND LAUGH OVER YOUR BLOODY CINDERS."
He was left heaving and coughing after the scream and he was still bottleless. Water. He needed water more than anything in the world right now. It was still half full when he had it. Fuck. He was so thirsty; his throat was crumbling from dryness, the soupy air brought no relief, only suffocating him further. He was surrounded by water, and he couldn't drink a single drop. The anguish and frustration caused him to break down into sobs for the first time since the ordeal but no tears came out. His eyes were itchy and dry.
There were no tears to spare.
"I love your eyes. They remind me of what the sky is supposed to look like. You're my sky in this polluted city."
"That is the corniest bullshit I've ever heard, Marimo. Stop reading my romance novels."
Fuck. He hated the sky. He hated how blue it was. He hated how it seemed to taunt him. He hated how it reflected how open, endless and deep the ocean was. He hated its emptiness. Its silence. He hated how it could get angry at any second and he'd be powerless.
"Just rain already. Just turn grey and angry. Just drown me like you failed to the first time."
As if the sky had heard his quips it decided to humour him. The plank rolled from side to side, the clouds turned grey and angry just as he'd requested. The temperature dipped with the intention of trying to freeze him and that was just the forewarning. With a deafening clap of lightning and a boom of thunder, the sky opened up and drenched him with a sea's worth of rain. That night had him clinging desperately onto the plank of wood as the waves tried to pull him under. He swore his lungs were half clogged with salt water, felt himself being seasoned alive from the inside. He cursed whatever shark that would have the galls to eat him to die from salt poisoning. Fuck all how sharks lived in salt water and were hardly bothered by it.
Already a full week had passed. He was beyond thirsty and so hungry he wasn't even sure he was hungry anymore. His body was on fire. He could cook an egg on his forehead better than any pan he'd used in that shitty restaurant he worked in. No signs of rescue.
He thought about how he'd told no one about leaving. He wondered if they'd be searching for him. He wondered if Zoro would worry. He wasn't really the type to worry. He wondered if anyone was looking for him. If anyone knew he was still alive.
Fuck. Had it been nine days or ten? He couldn't really tell anymore. He didn't really want to count. Did he mark the day off yet? Or was that mark from yesterday? Nine tallies were clearly scratched onto the plank but Sanji just couldn't remember if he'd scratched the last one on this morning or not.
Did it even really matter if it was nine days or ten? Probably not. No one was coming either way, and who knew how many days there were left to go through. But there was this niggling feeling at the back of his mind, a worm of unease creeping its way to the centre of his chest, telling him that if he even missed one day there'd be no hope left. It was irrational, he knew, but who the fuck has the mind to do math problems in the middle of the ocean with nothing but a plank? Fuck logic.
He spent the rest of the day gnawing at his lips, trying to decide whether to scratch on an extra tally or not. When the sun finally began to set, he promised himself that from now on he'd scratch his tallies at the end of the day and scratched on a question mark.
"Zoro? Zoro! Pick up the fucking phone!"
"Yes, Sanji? No wait. He'd say Cook. Yes, Cook?"
"Do you know what day it is today?"
"No, Cook, I've only got moss for brains. You can't expect that much from me."
"IT'S FUCKING DAY 10! Can you believe I've survived this long?"
"No, Cook. I'm very impressed. You're such a cool and awesome guy."
"Fucking Marimo. Can't you say anything other than 'Yes, Cook' and 'No, Cook'?"
"Of course I can, Cook. You're the one with the shitty imagination."
He was so thirsty he'd drink his own piss, except there was nothing to collect it in. And he had a feeling he was pissing pure salt from how painful urinating was getting, not that he pissed that much these days.
Fucking creatures of God.
"Fuck you, Zoro. God exists." Muttering, he dug his nails into the belly of the squirming fish, snapped the vertebrae and sucked on it in a way that would make Zoro jealous.
"Daaaaaaad, have you seen my shampoo and conditioner?"
"No, you dumb eggplant, why would I keep tabs on your shitty stuff?'
"Daaaaaaaad, have you seen my soap?"
"Nope, but I wish I did. You stink."
"How about you, Zoro? You didn't steal the last of it did you?"
"Why the fuck would I steal it? I don't even bathe."
He couldn't believe he was still alive. How was he still alive? Did he accidentally eat a fish with magical properties? Had he discovered immortality? If only it was the ability to fly! No, no! If only it was the ability to find LAND! Laughing at his own genius, Sanji gave himself an internal high five.
Clearly all numbers with 3 in them were magical. On the third day he'd found a plank and on the 23rd he'd found a boat. It was a boat from the cruise he was on, or at least he was pretty sure it was from his vague recollections of walking around the vessel. Besides, why else would a boat appear randomly in the middle of nowhere? It must have somehow drifted in his vicinity.
On it was a tonne of people. A tonne of dead people.
At first he was crying from relief. PEOPLE. PEOPLE WERE AMAZING. HE WAS GONNA GET OUT OF THIS ALIVE. HE WAS GONNA BE SAVED! Except it was a load of dead people. STILL FUCKING AMAZING! YES! CANNIBALISM! Not that he would actually do it but being alone for so long had made him optimistic like he's been cruising on orgasms all his life.
"YEAH, MOTHERFUCKERS, WHO'S BADASS? YOU GUYS HAD A BOAT AND 10 PEOPLE BETWEEN YOU AND I'M THE ONE WHO SURVIVED. WHO IS A FUCKING SURVIVOR HERE?" He laughed, but somehow it sounded a lot like sobs.
As luxurious as the boat was and as fun as it was role-playing with corpses as explorers lost in the middle of nowhere it was starting to stink. At first it hadn't really bothered Sanji, his senses were too messed up from floating in the middle of the ocean for twenty something days to care about a little stench, plus the excitement of actually seeing people again overpowered any flaws they had. Really, it was a lot like love. You never really saw the flaws in the people you love until you started living with them. He'd know all about that. Zoro and his fucking filthy habits. He smiled, remembering all the dirty laundry Zoro would strip off on his way to the bathroom, leaving it so Sanji would trip. He frowned. He hated that.
Kicking a particularly bad smelling rotting corpse off the boat he picked up a random piece of wooden debris and chewed on it. Maybe he could use the corpses as fish bait… Nah. That was too nasty to contemplate.
The following days after kicking the first corpse off, he sunk the remaining corpses one by one. Choosing which ones to throw off was a dilemma. He was so hungry he was seriously considering cannibalism but who knew how many days it had been since these guys had officially kicked the bucket? Even if they were cattle, he wouldn't use their meat in any dish. The fat in their body had given out, making their skin sag against their skeletal frames; the bacteria infesting in their body was eating itself, their flesh blackening and crumpled in a way that Sanji couldn't even tell male from female.
"Yeah. No. Fuck that. I'm not that desperate."
At first it was easy kicking off the corpses one by one but when the numbers started to dwindle to only half the original passengers a restlessness began to settle at the pit of his stomach. He didn't want to be alone again. In the middle of nowhere even a dead person was better than no person at all. Each day he took longer to pick who to throw off the boat. He would weigh the pros and cons, conduct entire court sessions, judge the fashion and imaginary life each passenger had before reluctantly dumping a body into the ocean at the end of the day.
"Goodbye, Yorki." He said sadly, "It's just you and me now, Brook."
Brook must have been a tall, thin man when he was alive and death had only accentuated this. He looked like a skeleton and felt like one too. Sanji knew this because he had tried to hug him on a night he was feeling particularly cold. He forgot the dead didn't have body heat to share.
"We're going to live through this, you know?"
Brook smiled back, wind whistling through his permanently smiling teeth like a rendition of a cheery love ballad. That was one of the reasons Sanji chose Brook: the guy was always cheerful.
"Yeah, it's not so bad…" Sanji shivered, "We're gonna live through this just fine."
"I swear, Brook, Your shitty skeleton jokes are driving me insane. You stop that right now or no dinner for you."
Sanji would never admit it, but he thought Brook pretty witty. He was also the best listener Sanji had ever come across. Where the hell did he learn to be that attentive? He swore no one alive could be this attentive. Everyone was just so immersed in their own little problems, who gave two shits about someone else's? Brook was amazing.
Sanji didn't understand why Brook was so fucking happy all the damn time. What the bloody hell was there to be so happy about? There was no food except for the fish he could catch and the seaweed he could scour. He'd check every spot on the boat but everyone must have been in too much of a panic to USE A BRAIN. FUCK. No wonder they were all dead. Bet they were too stupid to catch some fish.
He moved over threateningly to kick Brook, Usopp always cowered when he made his way over like this, but Brook only smiled and whistled, his mood as immoveable as someone else he knew. Sanji growled and curled up. He wasn't going to waste his energy on something long dead, he still needed to live. He still needed food damnit.
It was another cold night. Sanji was only grateful it hadn't stormed in so long. He didn't think he'd be able to survive it with his current energy levels. And if by some miracle he did, he didn't think Brook would. He gently laced his fingers with the skeleton's.
"How did you die, Brook?" he whispered.
He placed a finger on the smiling set of teeth, "Don't tell me. I don't-you're happier where you are."
"God? Are you out there? Zoro says you're not but I swear I always believed in you! I don't really need anything just maybe some cigarettes, a lighter that works, water, hmmm, maybe I should ask for that first…no. Also, a change of clothes, please, and a hot bath and soap and shampoo to go with that. But it's ok if you don't give me that stuff. I just want… God, will you please deliver me? Somewhere? Anywhere? Please?"
Had it already been 50 days? Crossing out another bundle of four tallies he looked over to the sunset.
"Hey, Brook. Do you think we'll ever reach land? Do you think land exists?"
He coughed up a laugh.
"Hey Brook, guess what my childhood dream was! You'll never guess! ...Alright, alright, I'll just tell you."
Sanji gazed over at the ocean wistfully. "I used to dream about an ocean where all the oceans would meet and every type of fish imaginable would gather. It's called the All Blue. I read about it somewhere," he smiled, "I don't know why I wished for it, right now I would give up anything just to see land, to feel grass under my feet and run my hands through it."
He closed his eyes and sighed, imagining running his hands through something equally green.
"I really miss Zeff, you know. I miss his cooking. Heck. I miss my cooking. In fact I miss fastfood! Fuck. I will never diss Maccas again. This fish is great but I swear I'm turning into a bloody shark. I'll never be rid of this fish breath ever again."
Brook's head was lulling side to side dangerously. Sanji was worrying that his head was going to fall off any second now, his hands constantly in a catching position swinging in small, subtle motions in time with Brook's rhythm. It was kind of hypnotic.
"Brook," Sanji started casually, trying to take the skeleton's mind off his imminently falling head, "do you think….I'll die?"
Brook had decayed bad enough that Sanji had to finally give him up to the ocean as well. He was letting off a smell like bad quality cheese, his body was becoming mouldy and his flesh was falling off in clumps at the lightest touch. Sanji tore some hair off to keep and set him down into the water with a prayer.
Without the presence of the cheery skeleton on the boat the silence was all consuming. He spent the day in mourning, feeling the bite of the heat and the constant moaning of his sunken stomach. It was like a reverse pregnancy. He was hungry all the time, his baby was constantly crying and it seemed to take up negative space rather than positive space.
He rocked back and forth, following the motion of the waves and hummed a lullaby to himself.
He was starting to think he had actually died long ago and was living as a ghost in the boat. His fingers were so thin all the bones were defined in a way that would make an art student excited. Usopp would probably freak though. He chuckled at his friend, always getting scared by the shittiest things. He'd probably cling onto Zoro. Bloody coward. He frowned. What was Zoro doing anyway? He hadn't seen him in ages.
"Shitty Cook, I'm right here."
Sanji swivelled his head around. "What the fuck. What are you doing here?"
"I was here all along. You were just too busy angsting on your drama queen stage to notice."
"You're a hallucination."
"Whatever. I'll just be sitting here. Once you've got your head screwed on right you can join me."
Zoro threw him a seductive look,
"What the fuck….now I know you're a hallucination….fuck it." He shifted over.
Sanji was contemplating just drowning himself. Just ending it already. There was no end in sight. Literally. It was just miles of ocean and sky without the slightest indentation on the horizon to hint at land. It was just fucking undrinkable water and more shitty undrinkable water.
But no matter how many times he counted down from a number that started at 3, increased to 10, multiplied to 50, and squared into 2500, every time he reached 1 he just couldn't bring himself to say zero and jump off.
"I can't live like this. There's no hope at all." He groaned as he flopped back onto the seat.
He started dreaming about the Baratie, about Zeff and Zoro. He dreamt about how he had once stolen into the night with Zoro with Zeff stationed right outside his hospital room. How much they had laughed until the stitches on his back reopened and how much Zoro had panicked as he carried him back to the hospital roaring for a doctor. Fucking idiot. What was the point of sneaking out?
He dreamt about the time Zoro had left to challenge Mihawk over a promise to a girl he made long ago. He scowled, he knew it wasn't just that, Zoro had always wanted to be the best, the strongest, but it stung a little; being left behind.
He dreamt of a time when Zoro had come back and he had proposed to him. And he dreamt of the time he refused him.
"Fucking idiot." He whispered, burying his head in his arms.
Sanji didn't know if he should be celebrating or crying. Eighty fucking days. If he celebrated almost every useless birthday he'd ever had then his 30th should still be worth celebrating right? And having survived 80 days was even more worth celebrating. After all, he had now accomplished something few people could boast about, even Zoro couldn't give him shit about this. Well, if he lived to tell the tale, it'd be taller than any lie Usopp had ever told and true at that. He gave a gleeful chuckle. One had to get their amusement somewhere as Brook always said.
Eighty days. Sanji sobered up.
"I've already come this far, let's at least make it to a hundred."
He thought about what he had said yesterday. About making it to hundred. What if a hundred days had come and gone and there was still no end in sight? What if he was out here stuck for a whole year? 365 days. Fuck. What if it was even longer? What if land really didn't exist? He couldn't even remember what it felt like to be standing on something that wasn't constantly rocking back and forth anymore. He felt like swaying had become part of him just like breathing had always been.
The questions didn't stop. What was real and what was an illusion? The people back home. There were so many people. All the guys at Baratie. Zeff. The crew. He chuckled at the name. Zoro. Which ones were real? Which ones were figments of his overactive imagination? Was Zoro real? If Zoro was real, did he care about Sanji? Was he out looking for him?
If it was Zoro, if it was really Zoro, then no matter what shitty sense of direction he had, he should've found him by now! Sanji slammed a fist down onto the rim of the boat, causing it to rock violently.
"YOU'RE NOT REAL."
All the doubt was making Sanji lose his appetite, weakening him even more. His fever had spiked again. He counted the tallies he made over and over again, his mind burning with the afterimage of every sunset. If he reached out far enough he could touch the purple like angry welts after each punishing day, the red of hell, the streak of yellow and the darkness that followed.
He heaved his stomach contents, but there was nothing there.
No backing out this time. There was a storm coming soon. He didn't even count. He threw the plank overboard and then himself. He let the waves push his head under the ocean and breathed in. The first breath had him choking and clawing and reflexively he tried to bring his head above water but the waves kept pushing him down and he had nowhere near enough strength to fight it.
Panic was settling in. He thought he was ready for this. 'I don't want to die,' he thought.
He saw Zeff. He saw Zoro. He saw their smiles. He saw himself standing with them. Smiling too. Brighter than he ever imagined. He was getting married.
"I WANT TO LIVE!" He cried out, his voice fighting against the strangle of the sea and by some miracle, by some merciful, merciful God, the plank he threw overboard bumped into his arms and he clung to it like a lifeline. The boat was long gone.
Later that night as he gazed up into the sky, once again floating on his back just like the way he had started out, the stars twinkling down at him. It was like they were reassuring him that he was going to make it through.
LAND AND A BOY IN A STRAW HAT!
Holy sweet Jesus Mary Buddha Zeus and every other God out there. "FUCK YOU ZORO, GOD EXISTS!" Sanji exerted all the energy he had left kicking towards the plot of land. He let a laugh bubble up his chest and a smile stretch his cheeks.
A/N: Slammed this out in one night drunk with inspiration and had my wonderful, patient, angel of a beta Caelumxiv (on tumblr) go through it meticulously fixing up all my grammatical mistakes and weird descriptions. THANK YOU SO MUCH! 3 And HOLA IT'S DONE. Never gonna have to look at this again YEAAAAAAH! It's been a while since I've written anything. XD