Stargate Horizons


The next morning, as Sam put her things in her locker, she saw Daniel talking with Nathan.  A girl came up to them and smiled at Nathan, then at Daniel.  The three of them talked for a while.  Sam felt her jealousy return with a vengeance.  Daniel saw her and waved at her, but she didn't wave back.

The bell rang, and she went off to class.  She knew that she shouldn't be jealous, especially after what her parents said, but she couldn't help it.

When lunch time came and she entered the cafeteria, she saw that Kenny was with Daniel, and they were talking, their heads close together.  Getting angry, Sam changed direction and went to sit at another table.

Daniel looked up from his conversation with Kenny to see Sam.  He was about to smile and wave when she turned away and went off across the cafeteria.  She sat down at a table with two other girls.

Daniel's heart plummeted all the way down into his shoes.  Why wasn't Sam eating with him?  She hadn't waved at him this morning, but he'd thought that maybe she didn't see him.  But, now, she wasn't eating with him either.  Was she mad at him because of something?  Why would she be mad?

Daniel could no longer concentrate on what Kenny was saying, but tried to be polite and listen anyway.  When he returned to class, he did his schoolwork only half-heartedly.

After class, Daniel hoped that Sam would come find him and say hi, but she didn't.  He saw her talking with the same girls she sat with at lunch.  When she saw him, she quickly turned away.

Daniel went home in silence, his heart broken.  Sam didn't like him anymore.  She didn't want to be his friend anymore.  He'd been afraid that, if he made friends, he'd lose them and be all alone again, and he'd been right.  He'd lost Sam as a friend, and, now, he didn't care if he ever had another friend again for the rest of his life.

Quentin was very worried about Daniel.  Sad and silent, the boy seemed to have retreated back into his shell.  He didn't answer any questions and read the paragraph the teacher asked him to in a lifeless tone.  What concerned Quentin the most was that there were a great deal more errors in his work than normal, like the boy wasn't really paying attention.  Something was definitely wrong.

He decided to talk to Daniel at the lunch break, but moments after the lunch bell rang, the vice principal came in to discuss something.  Quentin watched over the man's shoulders as a dejected Daniel left the classroom with the other kids.

Daniel didn't get his lunch out of his locker.  He wasn't hungry, and he also didn't feel very well.  Instead, he went outside to the tree, the tree where he'd first met Sam and she became his friend.  He sat huddled under it as the cold rain and dead leaves fell down on him, shivering in the icy wind, the coat he was wearing not warm enough to keep out the chill.  He stayed there throughout the lunch break, his tears mingling with the rain on his face.

When the kids returned to class after lunch, Quentin noticed that Daniel's pants and hair were wet, and he was shivering.  Did he go outside?  It was quite cold out there, a big cold front having moved in suddenly.

As soon as class ended, Daniel was out the door before his teacher even realized it.  All he wanted to do was go home to his room and his books.  Books never went away.  They never stopped being your friend.  Books couldn't hurt you, and they didn't die.

Diane was worried.  Daniel hadn't eaten his lunch, and he seemed very down, speaking not a word when he came home.  At dinner, he poked at his food, barely eating a thing.  Was he sick?

"Daniel, are you feeling okay?" she asked as they put the dishes in the sink.

The boy nodded even though his head hurt, and he felt hot and tired.  He felt even worse now than he had at school.

He went to bed right after leaving the kitchen, wishing that he could stay there forever.  He didn't want to go to school anymore because Sam was there, and it would hurt to see her and know that she was no longer his friend.

The next morning, Daniel didn't come to the table when Diane called him to breakfast.  Concerned, she went to his room.  The moment she saw him, her heart sank.  His face was flushed with fever.  The poor boy had been sick after all.

She came up to him and touched his forehead, frowning at the heat she felt there.  She got some medicine from the bathroom and leaned over the child.

"Daniel?  Daniel, honey, wake up," she said, gently shaking his shoulder.

The boy's eyes open blearily.

"I don't feel good," he said.

"I know.  You're sick, Daniel.  You have a fever.  You must have caught the flu.  Come on.  I need to give you some medicine."

Diane helped him sit up enough to take the liquid medicine, then settled him back on the pillow, tucking him in.

"Get some more sleep, honey.  I'm going to call the school and let them know you won't be coming in for the next few days."

Daniel closed his eyes and burrowed deeper under the covers, feeling cold.  He felt really sick, tired and achy all over.  His throat really hurt, and his chest felt tight and heavy.  His head still ached, and his nose was all stuffy.

Daniel wondered if maybe he'd get so sick that he would die.  Then he'd be with his mom and dad, and it wouldn't matter that Sam didn't like him anymore.

Daniel hadn't been at school today.  Sam had been feeling really guilty about giving him the cold shoulder for the last two days and was planning on being really nice to him at lunch, but he wasn't there.  She looked all over for him, but never found him.  She hadn't seen him at lunch yesterday either, though she thought she'd spotted him before class started.

Sam felt really bad about what she'd done.  Daniel was her best friend, and she'd been so mean to him by not talking to him because she was jealous of his new friends.  She wanted to say she was sorry.  She'd just have to tell him tomorrow.

But Daniel wasn't there the next day either.  She looked everywhere for him.  She finally asked Kenny, and he told her that Daniel hadn't been in class since Wednesday.

Sam started to get worried that something had happened to him.  Then she thought of something else.  What if Daniel's grandfather suddenly decided to take him?  Maybe he came and took Daniel someplace far away, someplace where Sam would never see him again.

Sam was nearly in tears by the time she got home, thinking that Daniel was gone and never coming back.  She barely ate anything at dinner and went right to her room afterwards.  Her father came in a short while later.

"What's the matter, Sam?" he asked as he sat beside her.  "You look pretty down in the dumps."

Sam suddenly burst into tears.  "Daniel hasn't been in school for two days, and I think his grandpa came and took him, and I'm never going to see him again, and I didn't tell him I'm sorry!"  The last word was spoken on a wail.

Jacob put an arm around her.  "Hey, there.  Okay, slow down and explain this again."

"Daniel wasn't at school today or yesterday," Sam told him, tears still pouring down her face.

"He wasn't?  You didn't mention yesterday that he wasn't at school."

Sam turned her face away.  "I haven't talked to him since Monday."

That surprised Jacob.  "Why not?"  Then he guessed the reason.  "Sam, is it because of what you told us?"

Sam's head ducked.  "Yes, sir."

Jacob's arm disappeared from around her shoulders.  "Sam, I am ashamed you," he scolded.  "What kind of friend were you being to Daniel by refusing to talk to him because he'd made other friends?"

Sam started sobbing.  She pulled her legs up to her body and buried her face against her crossed arms.  She felt like the most horrible person in the whole world.  She was a terrible, awful person, and she didn't deserve to have Daniel as a friend.  He probably wasn't even her friend anymore.  He probably hated her and never wanted to see her again.

Jacob watched his daughter sobbing like her entire world had been destroyed.  He was very disappointed in her actions.  She'd allowed jealousy to control her and acted shamefully.  He was also worried about Daniel.  He knew how much Sam's friendship meant to the boy.  How would Daniel have reacted to her suddenly drawing away from him?  He was still very fragile emotionally.

Jacob wondered why Daniel hadn't been at school for two days.  He was probably just sick.  There was a flu bug going around despite the fact that it wasn't flu season yet.  He really didn't think that Nicholas Ballard had suddenly shown up and decided he wanted his grandson after all.  Perhaps he should call Daniel's foster parents and find out what was going on.

"Sam, I'm going to call the Underwoods and ask about Daniel.  I don't want you leaving your room."

Jacob didn't know whether or not his daughter had heard him.  She was still sobbing.  He got up and went into the living room.

"What's going on with Sam?" Laura asked.  "I can hear her crying like her heart is broken."

Jacob explained everything.  "I'm going to call the Underwoods.  I'm betting that Daniel is just sick with a cold or flu, but I'd feel better knowing for sure.  And Sam needs to know, too."

The call was answered by Diane.

"Hello, this is Captain Carter.  I was calling about Daniel.  Sam says he's been absent from school the past two days, and we were concerned."

"Thank you for your concern, Captain.  Daniel's quite sick, a bad case of the flu.  I called the doctor this afternoon, and he told me that, if he gets worse, I should bring him in on Monday.  I wish Paul was here.  He had to go out of town on business.  It's not easy taking care of a sick child plus three others all by myself.  And little Susy has a mild ear infection, so she's cranky and wants to be held all the time."

"Hold on a moment."  Jacob covered the mouthpiece and turned to Laura.  "Daniel is sick, like I figured, a bad bout of the flu.  Mrs. Underwood is by herself, trying to care for him and the other kids, and one of them has an ear infection to boot."

"Oh, dear.  I'd be happy to go over and help with Daniel."

Jacob smiled at his wife fondly, having known that her generous heart would make her offer to help.

He got back on the phone.  "Mrs. Underwood?  My wife says that she'd be happy to come over and help take care of Daniel."

"Oh, I couldn't impose on you like that."

"It's not an imposition.  Laura would be glad to help."

"Oh, thank you so much.  I really could use the help."

"Would you like her to come over tonight for a while, at least until all the kids are in bed?" Jacob asked.

"If she's sure it wouldn't be a bother."

"She'll be there in a few minutes."

As Laura gathered some things she thought she might need, Jacob went back to Sam's room.  The sobbing had stopped, but Sam was still crying, lying on the bed with her face in the pillow.

"Sam, I called Daniel's foster parents.  Daniel's sick with the flu.  That's why he wasn't at school.  Your mom's going over there now to help take care of him for a while."

Sam uncovered her face.  "He's not gone?"

"No, he's not gone.  When he gets better, you have a very big apology to make to him."

"He won't ever forgive me.  He probably hates me."

Jacob sat on the bed.  "I doubt he hates you, Sam, but you probably did hurt him.  Your friendship is important to him.  How would you feel if he'd done what you did?"

Fresh tears welled into Sam's eyes.  "It would really hurt a lot."

"Yes, it would.  Friendship is very important, Sam, and you need to cherish your friends.  Someday, you might have to say goodbye to Daniel.  Before that happens, you need to be the best friend you can be to him."

Shame filled Sam's face.  "I'm a terrible friend."

Jacob paused before replying.  This had been a very big bump in the road of their friendship, but, up until now, Sam had been a wonderful friend to Daniel.  But she needed to learn how serious her mistake had been.

"You're not a terrible friend, Sam, but you did make a big mistake, and you need to fix it," he stated.

"I will.  I promise."

Diane looked exhausted when she came to the door.  She was holding a four-year-old girl, who was very fussy.

"Thank you so much for coming," the woman said to Laura.  "I'm just about at my wit's end.  What a terrible time for Paul to be gone.  Please come in."

Laura stepped into the house.  "How's Daniel?"

"He's very sick, the poor boy.  I know he's absolutely miserable, but he's hardly complained at all.  His bedroom is down the hall, last door on the right."

Laura went to Daniel's bedroom.  She found the boy lying uncovered on the bed, having kicked the blankets off.  His face was flushed bright with fever, shining with perspiration.  As she got closer, she could hear a faint wheeze in his respiration.

Laura sat on the end of his bed and touched his face, dismayed by the amount of heat present.

"Daniel?  It's Laura Carter, sweetheart.  I'm here to help take care of you."

Daniel opened fever-bright eyes to look at her, but he didn't say anything.  He began coughing.  It was deep and wet, testifying to the congested state of his lungs.  He made a little sound of pain, hands pressed to his chest.

"Are you in pain?" Laura asked, concerned.

"My chest hurts," Daniel whispered weakly.  Tears pooled in his eyes.  "I want my mom."

"Oh, honey, I know."  Laura caressed his face.  "But I'm here, and I'll take care of you."

Daniel's eyes closed, tears slipping free.  "Sam doesn't like me anymore."

Laura grasped his hand.  "No, Daniel, that's not true.  She loves you.  She just got jealous.  She's very, very sorry that she hasn't been talking to you, and she's very sad that she hurt you."

Daniel turned his face from her.  "Everybody goes away, and then I'm all alone."

Laura's eyes filled with tears.  She gently gathered the sick child in her arms.

"That's not true, Daniel.  You're not alone.  You have people who love you.  We love you, and we're right here.  Sam loves you, and she hasn't gone away.  She's still your friend."

Daniel said nothing more, the wheezing, frequent coughs and little noises of pain the only sounds he made as Laura continued to hold him, trying to give what comfort she could.

It was nine o'clock when Jacob answered the phone.  The caller was Laura.

"Jacob, I'm going to stay for a few more hours.  Diane is exhausted and needs to get some sleep, and I don't want Daniel to be alone."

"How is he?"

"He's really sick.  I think that Diane needs to take him to the clinic tomorrow."  Laura paused.  "I've managed to get him to talk to me a little.  He thinks that Sam doesn't like him anymore."

Jacob cursed silently.

"I tried to tell him that wasn't true, but I don't think he believed me.  Jacob, I found out that he sat under that tree at school in the pouring rain all during the lunch break on Wednesday."

"Wednesday?  That's the day it was so cold."

"I know.  He would have already been sick by then, and that probably made it even worse.  I'm sure that's why his flu is so bad."

"The poor kid.  How late do you think you'll be?"

"I don't know.  Diane needs to get at least a few hours' sleep.  I told her to go on to bed."

"All right.  If you need anything, just call."

"I will."

The next call from Laura came at 1:30 in the morning, rousing Jacob from sleep.

"Laura, what's wrong?" the captain asked.

"It's Daniel.  We need to get him to the hospital, Jacob.  I think he may have pneumonia.  He's having a terribly hard time breathing.  I should have guessed this sooner.  I should have known that it was more than just the flu."

Jacob sat up, tossing back the covers.  He could hear the worry in his wife's voice.

"What do you want me to do?" he asked.

"Diane's nearly panicking.  I can call an ambulance, but I don't want her to be waiting alone at the hospital while the doctors see to Daniel.  But someone has to stay here with the other kids.  Diane gave me the number for Daniel's caseworker.  Could you call her and ask her if there's someone who could come over and watch the kids?  I just really want to be at the hospital."

Jacob hurried into the living room to get a pencil and piece of paper.  "I'll call her right now.  Give me the number."  He scribbled the number down.  "Call the ambulance, Laura.  I'll take care of everything else."

The instant his wife ended the call, Jacob contacted Lucy Merrick.  She was alarmed by the news and said that she'd get someone to the house right away and that she would be on the road herself as soon as possible.  Considering that it would be quite a drive for her, Jacob was impressed by her dedication.

After hanging up with her, Jacob went back to the bedroom and began throwing on some clothes.  He couldn't stay here.  He had to be at the hospital.

Jacob went down the hall to the kids' bedrooms.  He went to Sam's first, not knowing how he was going to tell her what was happening.

He bent over her sleeping form and shook her shoulder lightly.

"Sam.  Sam, wake up."

The little girl moaned in objection, then her eyes opened.


"You need to get up, Sam.  Your mom called from Daniel's house.  He's very sick, and they need to take him to the hospital."

Sheer terror filled Sam's eyes.  "T-the hospital?"

"Yes, sweetheart.  Mom thinks he has pneumonia."

Sam began to cry.  "Is he gonna die?"

"No, Sammie.  I'm sure he'll be all right.  They have medicine and other things to treat pneumonia.  Most people recover just fine."

Sam sat up.  "I want to go."

"That's why I'm getting you up.  So go get some clothes on while I wake your brother."

Fifteen minutes later, they were on the road.  Jacob knew that they'd very likely beat the ambulance by quite a few minutes, but he figured that there was no sense in going to the Underwoods' place first.

They'd been in the waiting room for a while when Jacob saw his wife come in.  He saw the surprise on her face when she spied him and the kids.  She immediately came over, going into Jacob's arms.

Sam jumped up and just about threw herself at her mother.

"Mommy, where's Daniel?  Is he okay?  Daddy said he's really, really sick."

"Yes, he is very sick, but the doctors are taking good care of him.  I'm sure he'll be fine."  She turned to her husband.  "Diane's filling out the paperwork."

They all took seats.  Diane joined them a while later, a frightened look in her eyes.

"I called Paul," she said.  "He can't make it back until tomorrow night."  She began twisting the strap of her purse.  "Oh, this is just terrible.  I so hope Daniel's going to be all right."

By the time a doctor came out, both of the kids had fallen asleep in their chairs.  He looked back and forth between Diane and Laura.

"Mrs. Underwood?"

"Yes?" Diane replied.

"I'm Doctor Fielding.  I'm sorry for not coming to speak with you sooner."

"How is he?"

"We've confirmed that Daniel does have pneumonia, most likely resulting from the flu.  Based on some of his symptoms, we're pretty sure that his is bacterial.  We've started him on antibiotics."

"Is he going to be all right?" Laura asked.

"Yes, I think so.  Fortunately, we caught it before it got really bad.  We'll want to keep him in the hospital for a few days to make sure he's going to be all right since bacterial pneumonia can be a great deal more serious than the viral type.  Then it will be safe for him to go home, though he'll have to be restricted to bed rest and continue taking the antibiotics."

Everyone relaxed at the sound of the good news.

Jacob gave a silent sigh of relief.  "Can he have visitors?"

"Not until morning, after visiting hours start."  The doctor looked at Diane.  "You can come back into the ER and sit with him, if you'd like.  I think he's a little frightened by what's going on."

Jacob saw the look in his wife's eyes and knew that she wanted to go, too.

"Can two people come back there?" he asked.

"Um, yes, that would be all right."

"Laura, go on with Diane.  I'll wait out here with the kids."

Giving her husband a grateful look, Laura went with Diane and the doctor to the ER.  Daniel was all alone in the exam room when they came in, and he looked scared.  The two women came up to him.

"Hello, Daniel," Diane said with a smile that was a little forced.  "How are you doing?"

"I want to go home," he said through the wheezing.  "I don't like hospitals."

Laura's heart cracked open a little, thinking of the last time the boy was in a hospital.

She caressed his hair.  "I know, Daniel.  I don't like hospitals either.  But you're very sick, so they need to keep you here for a few days, until you're a little better."

Daniel looked straight into her eyes, and, in a completely calm voice, asked, "Am I going to die?"

Horrified at the question, the two women gasped.

"No!" Laura exclaimed.  "No, honey, you're not going to die.  You're going to be just fine."

The boy said nothing in response, and the look on his face deeply worried Laura.  He should be relieved, yet it was almost as if he didn't care.

It took quite a while for them to get Daniel settled in a room.  The two women accompanied him there.  Once he was all situated in the bed, the nurse explained to Laura that it was after visiting hours, and she'd have to leave.  She left very reluctantly, telling Daniel that she'd be back in the morning.

When she returned to the waiting room, she saw that there was an elderly woman sitting with Jacob.  It turned out that the woman was Daniel's caseworker.

"Your husband has filled me in on Daniel's condition," the woman said.  "What a terrible shame that this had to happen.  I'm just relieved that he's going to be all right."

Jacob woke up the kids.

"Daniel's going to be okay," Jacob told them.

"Can I see him?" Sam asked.

"No, Sammie, I'm sorry, but they wouldn't let you in there, even if it was visiting hours."

"Why not?"

"Because you're too young.  Children aren't allowed to visit people in the hospital."

"But that's stupid!" Sam raged.  "And it's mean."  She started crying again.  "I want to see Daniel and tell him I'm sorry and that I'm still his friend."

"I already told him, Sam," Laura responded.  Of course, she wasn't going to say that the boy didn't appear to believe her.

"You can talk to him in a few days when he goes home," Jacob told his daughter.

"But that's so long from now."

"I'm sorry, Sam, but there's nothing I can do about it.  Those are the rules."

Sam frowned.  "Well, they're dumb rules."

Back home, the kids settled in their beds, Jacob crawled under the covers with his wife.

"Okay, tell me what's wrong," he said.  "I can tell that something's worrying you."

"It's Daniel."  Laura met his eyes.  "Jacob, he asked us if he was going to die."


"What's worse is that, when I told him that he was going to be fine, it's like he didn't care.  Jacob, it's like it didn't really matter to him if he was going to die."

Jacob was alarmed by his wife's words.  "Laura, are you sure?  Maybe his reaction was just because he's so sick and miserable.  Heck, there have been times when I felt so rotten that I almost wished I was dead."

"I don't know.  Maybe you're right.  It could have been just because he's ill.  But, Jacob, he was so hurt by what Sam did.  When I talked to him at the house, he said that everybody goes away, and then he's all alone."

Jacob cursed again, shaking his head.  He'd been worried about what Sam's actions did to the boy, and, now he knew that his concern was well-founded.  Daniel had been doing so well.  How much had this set him back?  Would he ever allow anyone back into his heart and give them his trust?

"We need to fix this," Laura said, "but I don't know how."

"Sam's the only one who can fix this, Laura.  I just hope that Daniel will let her."

Getting a neighbor to watch the kids, Jacob and Laura went to the hospital shortly after nine the next morning.  Daniel was alone when they arrived.  The room had another bed in it, but that one was empty.

Jacob was appalled by the child's appearance and how dreadful his breathing sounded.  He looked so tiny and fragile lying there.

Daniel was awake and turned to them, but didn't say anything.  He was very listless, his eyes devoid of any spark of life.  It just about killed Jacob to see him like that.

"Hey, kiddo," he said, forcing a smile to his lips.  "When you decide to get sick, you don't mess around, do you.  So, are they treating you okay in this joint?"

Daniel nodded faintly.

"Honey, where's your foster mom?" Laura asked.

"She had to go home," Daniel wheezed.

"And you've been alone all morning?"

The boy shrugged.  "It doesn't matter.  I'm used to being alone now."

Jacob and his wife gave each other a long look, sharing their distress.

"Well, at least one of us is going to stay with you all day today.  I promise," the captain told the child.


"Why?  Because we care, Daniel, and we don't want you to be lonely."

Daniel's eyes dropped away.  "I thought because Sam didn't like me anymore that you wouldn't either."

'Dear God,' whispered Jacob's mind.  He sat on the edge of the bed.  "Daniel, look at me," he commanded.

After a long moment, the boy complied, though his eyes kept shifting away.

"Sam does still like you, and we all still care very, very much.  Sam was jealous because you were spending time with other friends.  She got used to it just being the two of you.  She reacted by getting mad and not talking to you.  What she did was very wrong and very bad, and she knows it.  She is so sorry, Daniel.  She'd come here and tell you herself if the hospital would let her visit.  If you hadn't gotten sick, she'd have apologized to you days ago."

Tears welled in Daniel's eyes and flowed down his face.  "She didn't wave at me, and she didn't eat with me.  She wouldn't even look at me.  She was with those girls, and she didn't like me or want to be my friend anymore.  I thought maybe she was going to be my forever friend, but she wasn't.  I don't want any more friends, not ever."

Laura was crying now, and Jacob was not far off.  Daniel's eyes were closed now, his face turned completely away.  Getting so upset had made his breathing a lot worse, and Jacob wondered if they should call a nurse.  But there was something else that needed to be done first.

Jacob leaned forward and grabbed both of Daniel's hands.  He wanted to hold the boy, but the IV and other things would make it difficult.

"Daniel, you listen to me.  Don't you think like that.  Don't you ever, ever think like that.  Sam loves you, Danny.  She loves you very much.  Yes, she made a mistake, a really big mistake, but it wasn't because she doesn't care anymore.  When people get jealous they can do really stupid things, things that hurt people.  Please give her another chance.  If you don't, it will hurt her so badly."  He stared at the child.  "Do you want to hurt her?"

Daniel shook his head.

"Then please forgive her, Danny."

Daniel started coughing.  It went on for quite a while, and Jacob decided he'd better call a nurse.  When she came in, she saw that her patient was upset and scolded the Carters for it, telling them that the boy needed rest, peace and quiet.

"Would you like us to leave, Daniel?" Laura asked, hoping the answer would be no.  She got her wish several seconds later when he shook his head.  Though she didn't know yet if Daniel was going to give their daughter another chance, apparently he was willing to believe that they still cared.

The bout of coughing had exhausted the boy, and he fell asleep a short while later.

"Oh, Jacob," Laura sighed sadly.

"I know.  I just pray to God that this can be fixed.  I wish we could get Sam in here.  Daniel needs to see her and hear her tell him herself that she's sorry and still cares.  It's too bad that she's too big for me to smuggle in."

"Maybe if we talked to the doctors, explained the situation, they'd make an exception."

"I suppose it's worth a try."

They told a nurse that they wanted to speak with Daniel's doctor as soon as it was possible.  When they finally did talk to him an hour later, he said that he couldn't make any exceptions to the rules.

"If I make an exception in this case, then other patients will expect me to do the same," he explained.

No amount of cajoling or reasoning would change his mind, and the Carters had to give up on the hope that Sam would be able to visit the boy in the hospital.  They'd just have to do their best to cheer Daniel up before then.

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