A/N: Five Seifer/Rinoa post-game "what if" scenarios.

Pathways

-irishais-

I.

"It could've been different," he says casually, lighting up a cigarette and making her cough with the cloud of smoke he blows in her face.

"Maybe it was fate." She's uncomfortable on the balcony with just the two of them and Seifer smoking like he doesn't give a damn.

He snorts and shrugs. "Fate. Yeah." A pause in which Rinoa has the chance to think of half a dozen places she would rather be. "For what it was worth, I had fun."

It's her turn to be quiet, and Seifer has a long time to think about reaching out and touching her face, her arm, settling his hand in the small of her back like he used to. "I loved you, you know."

"...I know."


II.

His lips taste like the coffee she just startled him out of drinking, and it's a bitter mix with the tears that slide down her cheeks.

His fingers tangle in her hair, and he's kissing her back fiercely, like she's the last thing he'll ever know, the last kiss he'll ever have, and it might be true if Squall signs off on that petition to release him back to Galbadia's custody.

It's the feeling of his thumb brushing across the tears that makes her stop and pull back.

"Rinoa--"

She's gone, then, so fast that Seifer thinks he may have just been hallucinating.

They don't talk about it later, not even when he tries to get hold of her in the caf to apologize



III.

She meets him at a tiny hole-in-the-wall cafe, looking out of place in Squall's borrowed jacket and sunglasses that cover half her face.

"I'm getting married," she says without preamble. "And I don't want you to come."

Seifer just contemplates the slice of pie in front of him like he hasn't heard her at all.

"Seifer--" She wants him to look at her, really look at her to understand what she's saying. "...You're still a jerk."

"Do you want me to apologize?" he says dully. "Because if it'll make you feel better..."

"I don't want your apology. I want you to go away."

The sound that his chair makes scraping across the floor causes everyone to wince. He leaves her with the half-finished pie and the check, and she doesn't see him again, except once (and only just a glimpse) when she and Squall are on their honeymoon in Esthar.

Maybe she was just imagining it.


IV.

"Can I come in?"

He opens the door wide enough to let her and her three suitcases through, and doesn't ask questions, just offers her a beer from the fridge and lets her cry on his shoulder like nothing ever changed between them.

"I'm sorry...I didn't mean to barge in like this," Rinoa says half-heartedly, and Seifer shrugs. "I'll go. Just get a room at the hotel or something."

"Rin--"

It's the old nickname, falling off his lips, that is enough to make her stop at the door.

"Stay."


V.

"We were just kids."

"Yeah."

"I'm sorry, you know."

"Yeah."

"I didn't think it would turn out like this."

"No one did, Seifer."

Her hand slides through the bars of the cell, lily-white against the grime and dirt of the place. He's not supposed to have visitors. He isn't sure how she got here in the first place--certainly Squall would have never let her come. Seifer takes her hand; it's soft against the callouses of his palm.

"I broke up with him," she says in answer to the question that isn't asked. "I came by myself."

"Why?"

"I wanted to see you. To say goodbye. To see if..."

"We can't change the past."

"I know."

"Rinoa."

"Yes?"

"I'm sorry. For what it's worth."

When she slips her hand out from his, it's with a sorrowful expression. "Maybe it's fate."

"Maybe."