Disclaimer- I do not own these characters.


The Dreamer

He looked up and saw many clouds floating blissfully in the sky, and he could hear the sound of laughter as children played in the sand, as everyone around him gathered in their specified groups and made merry with one another. The cool breeze tickled his bare skin as his daze continued on, his eye seemingly locked onto the bright sky. He could hear the sounds of his friends calling him, beckoning him to join them in their attempt to create a somewhat decent sandcastle.

Sanji curled up, bringing his legs up to his chest as he finally lowered his head away from the sky. His eyes closed as he then began to drive away all the noise that surrounded him. As one arm wrapped around his legs, another found itself leaning towards the warm sand. He let his hand sink into a small pile, trying to make out every small grain his fingers passed by. His face eased the tension that it had been holding for so long since he had found himself on this beach, and he felt himself calm down a bit as he realized how real everything felt around him. Ever so slowly he let the sounds of the laughter and conversations enter his mind once more, as well as the lovely scenery that he had been so afraid to take notice in. He opened his eyes and saw the beach again, though this time he realized it was more than just an illusion. The water seemed to glow with small sparkles, created by the sun's light. And the sun itself seemed to beam down on him, producing what had to be real warmth.

It couldn't possibly be-


The blonde turned his head and stared at the young man that was running towards him. In his hand was a shovel and on his face was a cheery smile. His other hand was grabbing at his dark green swim trunks, which barely seemed to fit his slim figure. His hair was a huge floppy mess from the seawater, but he didn't seem to mind it in the least.

"U-Usopp," Sanji stuttered a bit. He hurried himself up into a standing position, his feet immediately taking notice of the soft heat beneath him. He gave a subconscious sigh of relief as he felt a tingle of pain as the heat grew and irritated his soles.

"Come on, Sanji," the younger male said in a whiny tone. He crossed his arms impatiently and frowned at the older. "You can't just sit around all day…have some fun!" The tanned boy placed a hand on the other's shoulder and gave it a small tug, pleading Sanji to hurry over where the unfinished castle was. "Or are you too old for this stuff?" Usopp joked, chuckling a bit as Sanji better situated himself.

Well of course he was too old, but Sanji knew better than to say such a thing. He was feeling quite pleased at the moment, all sensations of fear and worry now behind him. He looked around the colorful atmosphere and couldn't help but produce a small smile.

"I'm taking that as a 'no'?" Usopp asked with a smirk.

Sanji chuckled, pushing his friend away from him.

"Don't be a smart aleck, long-nose," Sanji said in an almost playful tone. "I'll help you with your stupid sandcastle." He tilted himself a bit and looked over Usopp's shoulder. "Pretty shitty…it could use the help."

Rather than remark on Sanji's language or comment, the boy merely jumped with joy.

"Great," Usopp said. He took a few steps over to where the castle was, his head turned to Sanji as the blonde slowly began to follow him. "You know, Sanji," Usopp began. His smile shrank a bit as he looked away for a second or two.

"Yeah," Sanji asked.

"It's great to see you smiling," Usopp said. He turned away from the blonde, his arms crossed and his voice just a bit tense. "You've been acting strange for quite some time now…"

Sanji's eyes met the sandy floor as he continued to follow the younger man, his smile a bit strained and his hands clenched to his sides, wishing there were pockets in his swim trunks to hide them in. He felt tense as he clenched his teeth together, and suddenly the heat produced by the hot sand was the least of his worries.

"I know," he muttered.

Sanji pulled his head up and looked around his surroundings one last time. Everyone around him had stopped with what they were doing, and they all seemed entranced by what was now falling from the sky. Of course Sanji himself couldn't help but look up as well, his visible eye locking on the cylinder shaped object that seemed to be heading his way. And suddenly, without much warning, the sounds of screaming and chaos soon filled his ears. He made a small glance, giving a weak smile as he saw that everyone he knew had long disappeared. Good, he didn't want to have to see Usopp or Kaya suffer.

"These dreams," Sanji said in frustration. "They're becoming too real…"

Sanji looked up once more, not out of curiosity, but because the sounds of ringing and roaring had overcome every other sound around him. He could still make out the unnamed figures running about, their faces twisted with fear and panic as they scurried in circles. Sanji really didn't want to have to see them burn to a crisp. He placed his hands on his face; the last image in his head being that of a rather close bomb headed this direction. His mind was becoming more imaginative. He held a deep breath as he tried to think of a new way to escape, not wanting to experience what his mind thought to be a reasonable reaction to being eradicating from existence.

"It's not real…" Sanji told himself, despite not being able to hear a single word from it. The sound of the dangerous weapon had overcome every other sound, even his own thought.

The blonde gasped in pain as he felt his skin burn red, his right shoulder bubbling and melting as the heat around him intensified.

Not real…not real at all. You created it yourself.

Sanji fell to the floor as he felt his legs give in, his feet having begun melting to the sand. The pain was unbearable, and it would only grow as every second passed by. He felt his hands stick to his face, his finger burning up and going numb from the intensity.

Get out…!

Sanji tore his eyes open, staring up at the now burning sky. He could make out what would be destroying him this night, but for only a brief moment, soon after everything went white.

Fuck, this better not hurt…

Sanji held his breath and-


His room.

Sanji stared up at the dark ceiling, breathing hard as he let his fingers and toes curl and relax. They ached, but that was no surprise by now. He let himself look around the familiar surroundings, playing over the same routine he had done the night before. Only when he was sure that he was actually awake, and that it was safe for him to get up, did he situate himself on top of the sheets.

Sanji took a deep breath, a hand reaching to the top drawer next to his bed in an attempt to get himself a cigarette. His arms trembled all the way over there, and all the way back and they even trembled as he grabbed the lighter and lit the damn thing.

Sanji took another deep breath, this time filling his lungs with tasty addictive smoke, and he finally was able to settle down a bit. His whole body was in pain, covered in sweat and spasms from what he had just experienced. Although this had been happening for quite some time now, he still wasn't used to the after effects one bit.

He let himself fall on to the bed, a hand raised up high as he tried to recall every small detail of that nightmare.

…people he knew were in the dream.

"Why?" he asked himself, taking another drag from the cigarette. He looked over to the door, making out a bit of the hallway. Why on earth was he dragging in people he knew, cared for? That was never supposed to happen! They were never supposed to know, and they could never be a part of it. He couldn't handle it on his own, god forbid he have to watch such horrific things happen to those he cared for.

Sanji let his hand down and let it rest on his chest. He could very much feel his heart beat, its pace still rather hasty from the dream. Hopefully the shock would pass by, seeing that he was able to figure that nothing was real before he had died. Thank god he did.

It was so real. Too real.

He had felt it all, even though it happened all to fast. Within milliseconds he had died, yet he was still able to make out the very experience of being burned alive, to the point where nothing was left of him. It fucking sucked, being cooked alive and experiencing every moment of it. He thought hypothermia sucked, but after awhile he always went numb and would shut down before the death hit him, you never just passed out when you were burning, unless he was in an actual fire. He was never lucky enough to have a dream about being caught in a fire and suffocating, nope; he was too busy dreaming about frostbite, poison, and now, bombs. And even though by then he knew it wasn't real, his mind still played the same questions over and over;

What now?

What will happen to me?

What will death be like?

Is this death now?

When will this….end?

Sanji sat up, his arm out, and pushed the nub of his cigarette into the ashtray. He turned his head over to the calendar, making out the markings that he had made some time ago.

Nami would be coming over on Tuesday.

Sanji frowned as he sank a bit, his legs dangling on the edge of his bed. It was so quiet right now, so very quiet. He couldn't make out the sounds of Usopp snoring, or the goddamn leaky faucet, even the annoying tick sound of that clock that was in the kitchen. The horrid sensation of loneliness enveloped the blonde as he wondered what he should do. He was so tired and a good night's sleep was becoming something so very unattainable.

When…will this end?

Sanji looked over to the calendar again, wondering how displeased Nami would be if he wasn't here to help her with her classes. Or maybe she would be sad, seeing that…that…

He shook his head, trying desperately to get rid of the painful thought. Even more painful that the ones produced by the dream? Maybe. Perhaps. Not really.

No…he was too tired, and he was only getting weaker. He hated to admit it, he was too proud to admit it, but he was really nearly the end of his ability to endure.


"Soon," he murmured to himself. He felt a pang of regret as he uttered the word. But it wasn't nearly as bad as what he had already felt before. And it bothered him. It bothered him so much that the very thought of ending said pain barely made a dent to his morale. He was numbing up to these depressing thoughts, and Sanji was quite sure of himself that he was past any point of returning to normal when it came to such thoughts. Maybe he really was that far gone. Maybe he had reason, or perhaps this was some sort of sign. Why else would he dream about dying over and over again, and in such clever ways? Was slitting his wrists not good enough, did he really have to die such unusual deaths, over and over again? Maybe he was on to something, his subconscious.

And maybe he wouldn't have to worry about feeling that again.

Comments and criticism are wanted. Don't be afraid to be honest.