Stargate Horizons


Jacob strode down the hall quickly, glancing at his watch.  He had no idea how long it would take Daniel to finish the test, and he wanted to make sure he'd be there when the boy completed it.  He was planning on getting here earlier, but Mark had gotten into a bit of trouble at football practice after school, and he'd had to deal with that.

The captain had heard all about what had been going on with Daniel at school over the past few days.  The boy had definitely become a hot topic there.

Jacob came to a stop in front of the principal's door and knocked.  He was told to come in.

"Captain Carter.  I see you made it," Mister Parker said.

"Yes.  I'm guessing that he isn't done yet."

"No, but we didn't expect him to be this soon."

Jacob took a seat.  He glanced over at the closed door he figured Daniel was behind.  "Is there someone in there with him?"

"No.  While a typical IQ test requires that it be taken be under supervision, there are a few unsupervised tests, which are generally geared to measuring high intelligence.  Also, many standard tests include verbal questions and answers, but since, at the time we made arrangements for this test, Daniel was not speaking, we arranged for a test without them.  We may want to test him again more thoroughly at a future time.  We'll see how this one goes."

Mister Parker picked up several sheets of paper on his desk.  "I have something here that you might like to read, Captain.  It's a story that Daniel did for a school assignment.  His teacher thought I might be interested.  It's remarkably good."

"I think it's lovely," Diane Underwood said, having already read it.

Jacob took the sheets of paper and began reading.  He was very impressed with the story, finding it hard to believe that it was written by a child so young.  He did not fail to see the correlation between what the boy in the story went through and Daniel's life.

Jacob had been there for half an hour when Daniel came out of the room where he was taking the test.  The folder was in his hands.  He smiled when he saw Jacob.

"Hi, Mister Carter," he said.

Even knowing that the boy had begun talking, it was still a little startling to the captain.  "Hello, Daniel."

"Are you all done?" Mister Parker asked.  He received a nod.  "Okay.  I'm going to look it over now.  It'll take a little while, so why don't you go with your foster mom and Captain Carter.  Perhaps they'll take you to get a treat."

"That sounds like a plan to me," Jacob said.

After finding out from the principal when to return, Daniel, Jacob and Diane left the office.  They went to an ice cream parlor, where the boy ordered a banana split.

Jacob quite enjoyed actually being able to have a conversation with Daniel.  He noted that the boy seemed to have more confidence, no longer the silent, severely withdrawn child he was when the USAF officer first met him.  Jacob knew, however, that Daniel was far from cured and wouldn't be completely over the trauma for quite some time to come.  But he was delighted with the transformation in the boy.

When they returned to the school, Daniel was asked to wait out on the bench as Diane and Jacob went inside.

"First of all, I should explain that Daniel was actually given two tests," Mister Parker said.  "One was an IQ test.  The other was to determine his knowledge and skill level in mathematics, reading and writing, science and history.  The reason for that second test was to give us a more accurate picture of how far along Daniel is in his schooling since we have no school records on him and no one to ask.  In that test, he scored extraordinarily high in the areas of reading, writing and history.  In regards to mathematics and science, he did score higher than normal, but not on the same level as in the other areas.  Science appears to be the area in which he is the weakest."

"And the IQ test?" Jacob asked.

"Daniel scored well into what would be considered a genius level IQ, which didn't really surprise any of us, given what we already knew."

"So, what does this mean?" Diane asked.

"Based on these test scores, we are definitely going to have to reevaluate Daniel's schooling.  You may be unaware of this, but Mister Greer, Daniel's teacher, has been giving him lessons and assignments created for fourth and fifth grade students.  From that, he determined that Daniel could quite easily be put in the fifth grade.  Based on the results of these latest tests, the sixth grade would definitely not be out of line, although Daniel might struggle a bit in math and science in that grade.  However, we recognize that it would be far too difficult for him to adapt to sixth grade.  Taking everything into consideration, my recommendation would be to place him in the fourth grade next semester and arrange for him to continue being given more advanced schoolwork.  We can decide later what to do after the summer break, although, if he is psychologically stable enough, my recommendation would be for him to be advanced to sixth grade."

"Do you have any other kids near Daniel's age in the fourth grade?" Jacob asked.

"Unfortunately, this year, there are no children under ten in either fourth grade class."

"Wouldn't it be awfully hard on Daniel to be in a class with kids two years older than him?" Diane asked.

"It will likely take a bit of adjusting, but this is not an uncommon thing.  There are many gifted children who are placed in higher grades with kids several years older than them."

Jacob frowned.  "What about putting him in the third grade instead, then continue doing what his teacher is now?"

Mister Parker shook his head.  "I'm sorry, but that just wouldn't be recommended.  We can't keep Daniel in a grade that is so far below his ability level."

"And what about physical education?  You can't expect an eight-year-old to go out there and play sports and other physical activities with kids who are so much bigger than him."

"No, of course not.  Daniel's physical education will be appropriate to his age."  The principal turned to Diane.  "You have a while to think about what you'd like to do, Mrs. Underwood.  We don't need an answer until shortly before we break for the Christmas vacation.  Talk it over with your husband.  I should imagine that Daniel's caseworker should be consulted about this as well."  He looked at his watch.  "I need to call an end to this."  He got to his feet and shook Jacob's hand.  "Thank you for your concern for Daniel, Captain.  I do appreciate it."

Sam solved the last problem in her homework assignment.  She put the papers and other school things in her backpack and zipped it up.  Feeling thirsty, she left the room.  As she approached the living room, she heard her parents talking and halted at the words.

"I'm just concerned about the boy," her father said.  "I have to wonder how emotionally prepared Daniel will be to being stuck in the fourth grade with children two years older than him."

"It won't be until the next semester," Laura pointed out.  "Perhaps by then he'll be doing much better.  You said yourself that he's already improved a great deal."

"I'm sure he will be, but it will still be rough on him.  It would be rough on any child.  We decided not to put Sam in a higher grade for that very reason.  How would it be any better for a boy who's gone through the kind of emotional trauma Daniel has?  The problem is that the school is focusing on his mind, what's best for his mental development, and not worrying about his psychological and emotional well-being."

Sam frowned.  The school was going to put Daniel in fourth grade?  He'd hate that.  He really liked Mister Greer and was happy in his class and the way things were being done.  Why did it have to change?

"I do agree, Jacob, but there's nothing we can do about it.  We're not Daniel's parents or guardians, so we have no say in this.  What did Mrs. Underwood say?"

"That she'll do what the school thinks is best."

Sam ventured out into the living room.  As soon as they saw her, they put on happy faces.

"Did you get your homework done?" Laura asked her.

"Uh huh."

Sam came up to her parents.  She knew they wouldn't be happy that she was eavesdropping, but she just had to say what she was thinking.

"Daniel won't like it in the fourth grade," she blurted out.  "Why can't they leave him in Mister Greer's class?  He likes Mister Greer."

Her parents exchanged a glance.

"Sam, were you listening in on us?" Jacob asked.

"Kind of.  I was thirsty and came out to get some water, and I heard you talking."

Jacob patted the spot on the couch between him and Laura.  The girl sat down there.

"The school is moving Daniel up into the fourth grade because he's too smart to stay in second grade," her father explained.  "They think it's much more suitable for him to be in fourth."

"But Mister Greer has been giving him fourth and fifth grade work already.  How come he can't keep doing that?"

"It just wouldn't work out for it to stay that way, honey," Laura replied.

Sam started getting upset.  "Daniel will hate it in fourth grade.  All the kids will be older and will tease him and call him a baby."

The two adults sighed.

"I know it will be hard on him in the beginning, Sammie," Jacob responded, "but, in time, his classmates will probably learn to accept him."

Sam frowned again.  Daniel was going to be really upset about this, and she didn't want him to be upset.  Why couldn't they put him in the third grade instead, in her class?  Then, even if other kids did tease him, she'd be there to make them leave him alone.

That's when an idea popped into Sam's head.  Without giving it any thought, she blurted it out.

"Then I want to go into fourth grade, too!"

Her parents blinked and stared at her.

"Sam, honey, I know that you want to be there for Daniel, but we can't move you up a grade in the middle of the school year," Laura said gently.

"Why not?  They already moved Daniel up one grade, and they're going to be moving him up two more!"

"That's a different situation."

"Why?  Because he's smarter than me?"

"No, Sam," Jacob hastily replied.  "That's not it at all.  You are very smart.  We've already told you that many times."  He didn't tell Sam the real reason why the situation was different, that, unlike Daniel, she had loving parents watching out for her.

"But it would be so perfect, Daddy," Sam insisted.  "I wouldn't be bored with the math and science anymore.  I know I would be okay with the reading and spelling.  I'm getting A's on all my tests, except history, and I can try harder on it, and Daniel could help me.  And then he wouldn't be the only kid his age in the class, and we could look out for each other, like partners on the cop shows.  Please?"

Jacob and Laura just sat and stared at their daughter, surprised by her impassioned plea.  Then they looked at each other for a long moment.

"Let's not talk about this tonight," Jacob said.  "Your mother and I will discuss it, then we can all sit down and talk about it together."


"That's final, Sam."

The girl sighed.  "Yes, sir."

"Honey, you mustn't tell Daniel about him being moved up to the fourth grade," Laura told her daughter.  "Mrs. Underwood doesn't want to upset him.  She's going to wait to tell him until just before Christmas vacation.  Can you keep that secret from him?"

"I guess."

Jacob rubbed her back.  "Go and get your water, and we'll watch a little TV, okay?"

"And don't sneak any tastes of the frosting on that cake," Laura said.

Later that night in their bedroom, as they got ready for bed, Jacob's thoughts returned to what his daughter said.

"So, what do you think about Sam's suggestion?" he asked his wife.

"She's just worried about Daniel and wants to protect him from more harm."

"Yes, but she does have a point.  You and I talked last summer about having Sam's IQ tested and possibly putting her in the fourth grade this year.  She's gifted, Laura, and we both know it.  At the time, we decided not to do it for the same reason that we're now concerned about Daniel, but if it's what she wants, maybe we need to reevaluate our decision."

"And what happens when we have to move again, Jacob?  Sam's main reason for wanting this is to be with Daniel.  If we move, she'll still be in a higher grade, but she'll no longer have Daniel as a support system."

Jacob sat on the bed.  "Yes, you're right."  He looked at his wife.  "But I still think we need to give it some thought, and we need to seriously discuss it with Sam."

"Well, we've still got a couple of months before any decision would have to be made.  Let's not rush into anything."

Daniel could barely contain his excitement as Mrs. Underwood pulled up in front of Sam's house.  He was going to get to spend the whole day with her and stay overnight, too.  He'd never gone on a sleepover before and had checked three times to make sure he had everything he'd need.

As they approached the door, it opened, and Sam came running out.

"You're here!  We got the room all ready for you.  We put a mattress we borrowed in Daddy's study, and Mom put some of Mark's sheets with racing cars on it.  I told her you probably wouldn't like racing cars, but we don't have any sheets with Egyptian stuff."  She grabbed Daniel's hand and started pulling him.  "Come on, I'll show you!"

Daniel looked up at Mrs. Underwood then at Jacob, who'd come out as well.

The captain chuckled.  "Go on, Daniel.  You might as well learn now not to keep a lady waiting."

The two children ran into the house, Daniel's backpack banging against his legs all the way.

"Thank you for this," Diane said.  "He's been so excited about this sleepover.  It's nice to see him happy."

"Yes, it is," Jacob agreed.

Diane handed the man a small suitcase.  "Here's the rest of his stuff, a couple changes of clothes, his pajamas and other things."

"Thanks.  What time would you like me to have him back to you tomorrow?"

"Oh, there's no rush, whenever is convenient for you.  Please call first to make sure we're home, though."

"Sure.  I'll probably bring him back in the afternoon.  If he stays for dinner, Sam will bug us to let him sleep over another night."

"That will be fine.  Well, I need to get back.  Paul doesn't like being stuck alone with the kids for very long.  The little ones get into mischief."

Jacob said goodbye to her, then went into the house.  Sam was with Daniel in the study, sitting on the mattress and babbling away.

Laura joined her husband at the open doorway and smiled as she watched the kids.  "She's going to talk his ears right off this weekend."

Jacob chuckled.  "Probably so, but I have a sneaking suspicion that lurking somewhere inside that quiet exterior of Daniel's is another little chatterbox waiting to get out.  It's only a matter of time before it makes an appearance."

Leaving the kids to entertain themselves, Jacob and Laura went off to the living room.

"Would you like to play a game?" Sam asked her best friend.  "We have lots and lots of games, Monopoly, and Scrabble, and Battleship, and Clue, and lots of others."

"I like Scrabble," Daniel said.  "I played that with my mom and dad sometimes.  I like chess, too."

"Wow, you play chess?  Dad plays chess, and he promised to teach me sometime, but he hasn't yet.  I play checkers, though, which is kind of like chess."

"I've played that, too."

"Maybe you could play chess with Dad."

Daniel's expression showed his uncertainty.  "He wouldn't mind playing with a kid?"

"No, of course he wouldn't.  So, you want to play Scrabble or checkers first?"


The kids went into the dining room, and Sam got the Scrabble game.  She poured all the pieces out on the table.

"Mind if we join you?" Jacob asked as he and Laura came up.

"Uh uh.  You can help me, Daddy, and Mom can help Daniel."

The statement surprised the boy.

"Would you like me to help you, Daniel, or would you rather play alone?" Laura asked, seeing the surprise.

"My mom or dad used to help me when I was littler, but then they said I didn't need help anymore."

The woman smiled.  "Well, then I'll just play separately, okay?"

"Okay.  Are people and place names allowed?" Daniel asked.  "Sometimes, we allowed them, and sometimes we didn't."

Jacob thought about it.  "Hmm.  We've never allowed them before, but we could do it differently this time.  Which way do you prefer?"


Jacob looked at his family.  "What do you say?"

"Daniel's the guest, so he should pick," Sam replied.  Laura agreed.

"All right.  With it is."

It didn't take long for the three members of the Carter family to figure out that allowing the use of people and place names while playing a game of Scrabble with a boy who was virtually weaned on the history and mythology of Egypt and other civilizations had not been such a wise decision.  To put it simply, Daniel beat the pants off them.  He was constantly putting down words that the others had to ask him about, the names of mythical and historical figures that none of them had heard of, locations that they'd have to look up on a world atlas.

As Daniel used the last of his letters on the word "Danu", which he explained – in a tone reminiscent of a college professor – was an Irish/Celtic earth goddess, the matriarch of the Tuatha Dé Danann, Jacob started laughing.

"Well, I think we all learned our lesson.  Didn't we, girls?"

"Yeah.  Daniel's way too smart to play Scrabble with," Sam responded, grinning.

"Oh, you can be sure that I'm going to want a rematch, but, next time, no people or place names.  I won't make that mistake again."  Jacob tousled Daniel's hair affectionately, smiling down at him.

Daniel smiled back at him.  The game had been fun, and he'd learned some new words, inquiring every time Jacob or Laura used a word he didn't know.  He wouldn't have cared if he lost.  For him, winning or losing wasn't as important as the challenge of the game.

"Daddy, Daniel can play chess," Sam informed her father.

"He can?  Hmm.  I don't know if I dare play with him.  He'd probably checkmate me in six moves.  How about if we play something that will even the playing field, like a nice game of Monopoly?"

"I don't know how to play that," Daniel responded.

"We can teach you, if you'd like," Laura said.

Daniel's eyes lit with interest.  "Okay.  Wouldn't Mark like to play, too?"

"He's not here, Daniel.  He's spending the day with a friend here on base," Jacob replied.  He didn't add that he'd have preferred his son to stay and participate in the family day with Daniel.  But he hadn't wanted to get into an argument with Mark, so he'd given permission for the boy to go.  Mark would be back before dinner, though, and would be staying home tomorrow.  Upon that Jacob had insisted.

After lunch, the Carters gave Daniel a tutorial on the game of Monopoly and helped him from time to time throughout the game, which Laura won.

The rainy weather meant that Sam and Daniel had to do all their playing indoors, which was fine with the boy.  He preferred doing things like puzzles and board games to playing on a swing set or outdoor games, although playing frisbee had been fun.

He and Sam played a game of checkers while Jacob watched.  The captain paid close attention to Daniel's moves, the way the child's eyes studied the board.  It became clear that, not only was Daniel seeing moves that were presently available, he was also seeing how each move would affect the board and impact upon future moves, both by himself and Sam.  It was a level of game play that one wouldn't anticipate from an eight-year-old, and Jacob had to wonder how the boy's mind really worked.  Fortunately for Sam, when it came to checkers, she was a very logical thinker and also analyzed every move.  They were pretty evenly matched and, in the end, Sam won by a single piece.

"That was fun," she said.  "You're really good at checkers, Daniel.  You almost beat me."

The boy shrugged.  "Dad said that I'm really good at seeing patterns and finishing patterns in my head that aren't all there."

Jacob smiled.  Ah, so that might be the explanation.  The black and red checker pieces were creating patterns that Daniel's mind was completing.

"What should we play next?" Sam asked.

"If we had a Hounds and Jackals game, I could teach you that," Daniel replied.

"What game is that?"

"It's one the ancient Egyptians played."

"How do you play it?"

"We don't really know what the rules are, but people have guessed how it was played."  Daniel explained the game to her.

"Hey, I think I know what game that is," Jacob said.  "That's the one they were playing in 'The Ten Commandments'."

"What movie is that?" Sam asked.

"It's about Moses, came out back in the fifties.  Charlton Heston played Moses, Yul Brynner was Rameses and Anne Baxter was Nefertiri."

"Nefertari," Daniel corrected.  "She was one of the wives of Rameses II, who was the greatest and most powerful of all the pharaohs."

Jacob smiled.  "I stand corrected.  They have it on TV every year.  Of course you would probably point out all the historical things they got wrong.  It certainly did have plenty of biblical errors."  The captain smiled again as he thought of the amusement factor in listening to an eight-year-old pointing out all the historical inaccuracies of the film.

That's when Jacob got an idea.  "Hey, how about if we make a Hounds and Jackals game?"

Sam smiled brightly.  "Could we?"

Daniel liked the idea.  "My mom and dad made the one we had out of wood, but maybe we could use paper and cardboard."

The kids jumped right in on the project.  Daniel was in charge of the artwork, drawing the heads of the hound and jackal playing pieces with crayons, which were then cut out and taped to straws.  The board was made from the bottom of a cardboard box, which Jacob poked holes in and Sam colored as per Daniel's instructions.  The one problem was the dice.  Daniel informed them that, in ancient Egyptian times, they often used knuckle bones.  Jacob very logically pointed out that that wouldn't be an option.  The boy then said that they also used sticks, often made of ivory.  Since there wasn't anything around the house that could be used in lieu of the sticks, the captain talked Daniel into allowing them to use regular dice instead.

As Daniel explained the game in more detail, Jacob realized that it was a lot like Snakes and Ladders, one of the games in their collection.  They could have just played that instead.  Looking at the board and playing pieces they'd created together and the smiles on the kids' faces, he decided that this was better.

Hounds and Jackals was a game for just two players, so it was Daniel and Sam who played, the boy ending up as the winner.  Afterwards, Sam made sure her dad put the game away someplace safe so that they could play it the next time Daniel came over.

Mark came home shortly before dinner.  During the meal, everyone chatted.  In the warm, friendly home environment, good food on the table and smiling faces all around him, Daniel felt happy and safe.  It was the first time he'd felt truly safe since his parents died.  The feeling loosened his tongue.  His reticence faded, and he began talking more.  Jacob and Laura noticed and took advantage of it, taking the opportunity to learn more about the boy.

For one so young, he'd had an extraordinary life with his parents, seen things that most people never would.  His travels and time spent in different cultures had given him knowledge and insight into the world that far surpassed that of the average child and even many adults.  Daniel seemed to find something wonderful and exciting in every culture and place he'd been.  The two adults recognized that he carried within his mind a great deal of anthropological knowledge and wondered if one or both of his parents might have been anthropologists as well as archeologists.

"I think it's so neat that you've been all over the world," Sam said, having listened to his stories with fascination.  "What's your favorite place?"

"Egypt," Daniel replied without hesitation.

"Isn't it really hot there?" Mark asked.  "It's a desert."

"It isn't always hot, not in the winter, and there are places that aren't desert.  The Nile Valley has trees and grass."

"Is there any snow?" Sam asked.

Daniel shook his head.  He paused for a moment, then said, "I've never seen snow."

That surprised Sam.  "Not ever?"

"Uh uh, except on TV and in pictures."

"Wow.  You're gonna love snow.  It's lots of fun to play in.  When we get snow here, we can build a fortress and have a big snowball fight."

Daniel smiled, his eyes shining.  He'd always wanted to see snow.  "That would be fun."

Once everyone was finished eating, Laura and Jacob started clearing the table.  They were surprised when Daniel began helping them.

"Thank you, Daniel, but you don't have to do that," Laura told him with a smile.

"I help Mrs. Underwood clear the table after dinner."

"Well, I'm sure she appreciates that, but you're our guest, and it isn't polite to make guests do any work."

Daniel's head ducked a little.  "I like helping."

Laura gazed down at him tenderly.  She slid her fingers through is hair.  "Okay, you can help.  Thank you."

"I'll help, too!" Sam cried.

Mark pitched in as well, albeit a little reluctantly, and the table was cleared in no time.  Laura then brought out the cake, which had been hidden away in the pantry.  Daniel's eyes got really big and bright when he saw it.

"So, who wants cake?" the woman asked.  Everyone's hands immediately shot up.

"Me, me!" Sam exclaimed.

The cake was cut, Daniel being given the biggest piece.  They all ate it in the living room, Jacob and Laura amused by Daniel's blissful, chocolate-smudged expression.  He consumed every crumb.  Afterward, he didn't have to be told to go clean up, hurrying off to the bathroom to do it himself.

"Hey, how about a game of Twister?" Jacob asked once the dessert dishes were rinsed off and in the sink.

"Yeah!" Sam exclaimed.

"What's Twister?" Daniel asked.

"It's really fun.  Everyone gets all twisted up with each other like pretzels."

The game was brought out and explained to Daniel.  Laura opted to be the one to spin the arrow.

As with every game of Twister, the longer it went on, the more the players were forced to contort into virtually impossible positions.  Jacob had the advantage of being bigger, and, therefore, possessing a longer reach, but that was countered by the greater flexibility and younger bodies of the children.

Sam was the first to fall.  Giggling, she extricated herself from the others and joined her mother.  They watched the three guys continue the game.

It was when Jacob was reaching for a yellow circle that his body decided it simply could not fight against gravity any longer.  He toppled over, taking Daniel and Mark with him.  And that's when something wonderful happened.  Lying on the plastic mat, his head on Jacob's stomach, Mark's legs splayed across his, Daniel suddenly burst into giggles.  Overjoyed at the sound, Jacob shared a happy look with his wife.  Then, without warning, he reached down and tickled Daniel's stomach.  The boy squealed, twisting and turning, his giggles increasing in volume.

Grinning gleefully, Sam pounced on her father and began tickling him.  This soon turned into an all-out tickle war, everyone joining the battle.  By the time it ended, they were all lying breathless on the floor.

The two adults decided it was time for something a bit less energetic and turned on the TV.

It being a special night, they let the kids stay up way later than they normally would even for a Saturday, their hearts warmed by the happiness on Daniel's face.

When the clock struck midnight, Laura and Jacob insisted that it was time for bed, though Sam would happily have stayed up half the night.

Jacob was in the process of making sure the house was locked up when Daniel came walking up to him.  The boy's head was down, and he looked nervous.

"What is it, Daniel?" the captain asked.

"There's something I need to tell you."

"Go on."

"It's about the nightmares.  Sometimes when I have them, I-I sort of scream, and . . . and I just wanted you to know so that, if I have a nightmare, you wouldn't be scared and think something was wrong.  You don't have to come in and check on me or anything."

Jacob's throat tightened painfully.  He was at a loss for words, upset deeply by the child's tragic statement.

Swallowing, he knelt before the boy.  "Come here, Daniel," he instructed gently.  The child came within reach, and Jacob gently grasped his arms.  "Thank you for telling me.  We won't be scared.  But we will come in and check on you to see that you're all right.  It wouldn't be right for us not to."

"Mrs. Underwood doesn't.  She did the first couple times, but I think Mister Underwood told her not to anymore."

Jacob's jaw tightened fractionally.  He hadn't met Daniel's foster father yet, but he already didn't like him.

"Well, things are different in this household.  When our children have nightmares, we do something about it.  That's the way it is.  Okay?"

Daniel nodded, not looking at him.

Jacob pulled the boy into a little hug.  "Good night, Danny.  Sweet dreams."

As he watched the child walk away, Jacob prayed that he would have sweet dreams.

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