The very talented people at Squaresoft own these characters, I'm just borrowing them for a little bit. Buy their games, and give them your money!

Author's note: I've been inspired by the awesome Quistis/Seifer pieces on this site, and I couldn't resist. Just about every possible plot point imaginable can be found in the fics already here, so I'm not necessarily aiming for incredible originality – just a semi-realistic portrayal of the characters and how two, in particular, deal with life after the end of the game. (I haven't played it all the way through, so don't expect a lot of technical details in this piece. They're really irrelevant in the great scheme of things for the story I'd like to tell.)

This is my first multi-part endeavor, so please let me know what ya'll think. The R-rating is just a precaution for potential bad language.

If you get bored between chapters – updates will be posted about once a week – feel free to check out my other FF.net story, "Bubblegum Crisis 2040: The Things You Don't Say."

At an Arm's Length -
A Final Fantasy VIII Story

Prologue

The child was bouncing up and down like a rubber ball and showed no signs of stopping.

She groaned to herself. What did he do, give her all the candy she could eat before I showed up? But inwardly, she grinned. In so many ways, that is exactly what he would do – especially when he knew that he had "his girl," as he still so proudly liked to call his wife of ten years, all to himself for the entire weekend. An anniversary trip. Though he didn't seem to be the romantic, she knew better, as did the child's mother: he was the biggest mush ball of them all.

"Are we all set?" he asked, poking his head in the doorway as the little girl shrieked at the sight of her daddy. He bent down on one knee to give her a hug and quick peck on the cheek. "OK, baby. You're going to be really good for Grandma Edea, right?"

"But where'ya going?"

Definitely her mother's daughter, he thought to himself, before he answered, in a very patient tone of voice. "Your mommy and I are going out of town, but we'll be back on Tuesday night, and Grandma--"

"Why?" Her interruption was less of a question, and more of a challenge, but before he could open his mouth, Edea answered.

"Jordan-baby, that's why I am here, to explain 'why,'" she grinned. The look of surprise on the young father's face was absolutely unreadable. "Seifer, does Quistis know that she's going on this trip?"

"Weellll. . . no. It's a surprise. I did a little shopping before-hand, and I kinda figured we could go shopping when we got there – you know how she likes shopping," he floundered.

"Get going," the motherly figure ordered with a big smile.

He gave the very aware four-year-old another kiss on her cheek, and looked at Edea with an unspoken question written all over his features.

"Don't worry, child," she soothed. "She's already heard the story everyone knows about the Sorceress Wars, and it didn't frighten her. Even the part about you."

"But –"

"No 'buts,'" she continued. "She needs to hear the story that won't appear in the history books. To her, it will be much more important."

The corners of his mouth slowly, reluctantly twitched slightly upwards, in a faint attempt at a grin. "OK, but if she starts to get scared. . ."

"Don't you think Quistis and I have had the same discussion?" she reproached. "Go show your wife a good time."

As he headed out the door, pulling it shut after him, Edea caught his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Seifer, Cid and I couldn't be more proud of the both of you."

"Thank you. For everything."

He paused on the stoop for the briefest of moments as he heard the lock, followed movement just on the other side of the door and the Matron's voice.

"Jordan, I'm going to tell you a story. . ."

"Is it better than the story about Uncle Squall and Aunt Rinoa that Uncle Irvine told me?" the little girl chirped.

"Much better. . ."