Disclaimer: 7 Seeds is not mine. The series belongs to Tamura Yumi, and is serialized through Flowers.

AN: Quotes in this fic are my own interpretations of the text, though they're similar to the translations of the groups who have scanlated 7 Seeds into English, including the current team, Rain Over Paradise, of which I'm the proofreader.

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Coming Home by luvsanime02

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When you wake up, you don't know if you're in Heaven or in Hell, but regardless, you strongly wish to keep surviving.

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Ango didn't expect the future to be like this.

Every day, the seven of them gather around together to watch the sun rise and set. Just for the reminder that they've made it. To reinforce the truth that this is indeed the future, and they have finally prevailed against all the odds. The proof that they're really here is a wonderful thing.

So, they build a home. They use everything they've been taught, and everything they were left to figure out on their own. Chores are split evenly among them, and accomplished with the ease of long familiarity. Everyone attends to their own tasks with dedication and competence.

Koruri flies around almost every day. Ango worries about her injuring herself in a crash, or perhaps being unprepared if she comes across something unexpected. Really, Ango internally objects because he can't stand the sadness in her eyes when she handles the glider, or the way her breath comes out in gasps and pants when she lands back on the ground and once again Mayu isn't there to greet her.

He won't tell her to stop, though. Can't. She always comes back before dinner. Besides, her reports on the surrounding topography and weather are useful (and if there's a small part of him that envies her the temporary freedom she finds in the sky, it's easy enough to ignore).

It's even easier still to focus instead on their beautiful new world, and on the things that need to be done now. When they're all busy creating something out of nothing, everyone is happy. Even Ryō. Well, Ango thinks that Ryō is happy. He certainly looks pleased with this future that they're all building together.

(Ango is not surprised that Ryō is here. In the same way that he always knew Koruri would survive, Ango has always known, in the back of his mind, that Ryō would be here in the future.)

Even Madonna, Ayu, is smiling more, in the same way that she did the first time he ever really noticed how pretty she is, the way that still sometimes makes Ango stop and stare. When she smiles like that, she reminds him of blossoming flowers and warm summer days. It's only ever on the nights of the full moon that her smiles dim.

Ango doesn't know what happened to her during their final test, but he won't pry. None of them will. It's enough that she's here, even if both she and Ban worry that their specialties are useless now. As Gengorō always interjects when one of them voices their aggravation, every bit of knowledge helps.

"What's next?" Nijiko asks one night. It's a rarity for her, to speak such introspective thoughts out loud. No one answers. Ango can't be certain, but he believes that he is not the only one startled by her question. There is nothing next, is there? They're here, after all. They've survived, when so many of the others did not. This is what they trained their whole lives for, fought for, killed for. Now they can finally…

Finally what?

Even when nobody is manipulating you, you're still convinced that you're being manipulated, aren't you?

Are they not still being manipulated? And if they aren't, then what is next? What do they do now?

Maybe they aren't happy. Maybe they don't know what comes next. But they are content. It's strange but satisfying to be able to talk now without the threat of constant surveillance, to design their new home as they prefer, to roam this new world as its first explorers.

It's still nothing like Ango had thought it would be.

There have been a lot of storms recently, like the one that breaks free from the clouds now. He distantly feels the sensation of rain on his skin. It is a heavy presence, weighing him down, soaking through his clothes but unable to break through his thoughts.

Shigeru.

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Ango is in the cave again during their final test, and Shigeru is there helping him up the face of the wall. It's gallingthat Ango needs the help, infuriating that he fell for such an obvious trap in the first place.

Ryō is there, too. Ango cannot help but feel uneasy now in the other's presence, while he himself is so vulnerable.

Only one of the two of you can survive; you, or Shigeru.

Is that why Ryō is here? This is their own final test, Ango somehow knows. For the three of them, everything ends here. Ryō climbs up by himself, not willing to trust to anyone else's strength but his own. Ango would do the same, if he was uninjured. It's funny, in a way that's nothing like humor, how right Ryō was before about how similar the two of them are. It makes Ango wonder what else Ryō is right about.

And then, though he knows it's going to happen and tries to make it stop, once again Ango is falling. Another eternity is spent in freefall, feeling nothing but the mounting panic set in before his line is grabbed abruptly.

Ryō.

Ango doesn't know why Ryō grabs a hold of the rope. Later, he has the peculiar feeling that Ryō didn't plan to reach out, but instead acted on impulse. Sometimes, Ango remembers how Ryō's face looked then, desperate, but he always shakes the image away. In the moment, all Ango knows is that Shigeru isn't responding, and the line won't hold.

Ango is shouting. At Shigeru. At Ryō. It doesn't matter, because there's no escape. There never is. The knife cuts through the rope. Ango is saved. Shigeru isn't.

For as long as I can recall, Shigeru has always been at my left side.

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The rain's stopped, though Ango doesn't know when. It's quite late out, but it doesn't matter. Ango's body will still wake him up in the morning, no matter how little sleep he actually gets. In the meantime, he'll search for Shigeru. He stumbles on something, but doesn't look down to see what it is.

Inside his head, all he can hear is a repeating echo: "What's next?" Ango doesn't know.

If Shigeru isn't with me, it seems like my ability to make decisions fades away…

"Ango, are you okay? Were you staggering around again?" Ryō is suddenly in front of him. His hands are holding onto the sides of Ango's face, as though afraid that Ango is going to transform into someone else, someone that Ryō isn't so familiar with. He doesn't need to worry, though. Ango is fine.

It's strange to think that Ryō is now familiar with who Ango is. Strange to wonder if perhaps Ryō has always known him. Still, it's even odder to slowly become familiar with the other's habits, after so many years of purposely keeping his distance. To know that Nijiko gets angry and withdrawn when there's no hint of sunlight for a few days because that means no dry wood to build with. Or to discover that Ban makes sure he is always the first one awake in the morning, just in case one of the others needs his limited medical expertise.

And though it's unfamiliar, Ango also sees it as absolutely necessary that they all learn each other's habits and moods. He'll never forget that disastrous confrontation when he realized how wrong he was about Shigeru. Ango had encouraged his best friend, yes. Pushed him to go further and not drop out, always. Defended him, forever. Because of that, Ango had assumed that he and Shigeru were beyond the need for conversations like those he had with others, especially Gengorō and Ryō. To finally understand that Shigeru had always resented his silence was beyond crushing.

So maybe this isn't the dream of his future that Ango used to wish for, nothing like what he'd thought, but clearly he's been wrong many times before. The reality is that the seven of them are here together now, with only each other to rely on.

They'll find their way in this new world, eventually. Otherwise, their entire pasts were for nothing. Mayu's suffering was for nothing. Shigeru was for nothing. Ango refuses to allow that to become true.

"What's next?"

Ango still doesn't know. Nevertheless, he strongly wishes for all of them to keep surviving.