Stargate Horizons


On the entire bus ride home, Sam had tried to figure out why Daniel would think that she didn't want to study with him anymore, but, no matter how hard she tried, she was unable to figure it out.  Once she got home, she didn't feel up to playing, so she went to her room, deciding to go ahead and get her homework done.  That plan didn't work out very well, though, since it was pretty tough trying to concentrate on her homework when her mind kept going back to her best friend.  She wished that he was home so that she could call him and find out what was going on.

Shortly after Sam's father got home, he and Laura went into the girl's room.

"We need to talk to you about something, Sam," Jacob said.  "Is everything okay with you and Daniel?"

The question surprised Sam.  Had the teacher told them about Daniel?  "Did Mrs. Mason call you?"

Jacob frowned.  "No.  What would she have called us about?"

Sam told her parents what she'd found out.  They exchanged a long look, then turned back to their daughter.

"And you have no idea why Daniel feels that way?"

"No!  I don't get it at all."

"Well, honey, whatever the reason, it must be pretty serious," Laura said.  "We found out today that the mother of Daniel's foster brother, Caleb, died last week, and, apparently, he never told you."

Sam was stunned.  "B-but why didn't he tell me?"

"That's what we'd like to know," Jacob told her.

"Sam, isn't there anything at all that might have happened to make Daniel feel this way?  Perhaps something you said to him?" Laura asked.

Sam thought back on the previous week again, trying to think of something she could have said to Daniel to upset him.  As she did, she realized that she really couldn't remember any of the stuff they'd talked about since . . . since when?  The answer came to her.  Not since Tuesday, the day she met Randy.  Since then, she'd spent a lot of time each lunch break looking at the boy and wondering about him.  But she had talked to Daniel, hadn't she?  She must have.

Jacob and Laura saw something in their daughter's expression.

"Did you think of something?" Jacob asked.

Sam blushed.  "I've been kind of . . . of thinking a lot about Randy, and maybe I didn't talk to Daniel very much."

Her parents shared another look.

"I see," Jacob said.  "And would Daniel know that you've been thinking a lot about Randy?"

Sam got to thinking about it and figured that Daniel probably did notice all the times she looked at the older boy.  That made her even more embarrassed.  "Yeah, he probably does."

"Ah.  Well, this answers the question.  Daniel's jealous, Sam."

"Of Randy?"

"Yes, of Randy.  He's seen the way you're acting about Randy, and, on top of that, you haven't been talking to him as much as usual, so he's feeling hurt and jealous, just like you were when Daniel started making new friends."

Feeling guilty, Sam dropped her head.  "I didn't mean to make him jealous."

"We know you didn't, sweetheart," Laura said, giving her daughter a little hug, "but you do need to talk to him about this.  The, um . . . the things you're feeling for Randy are natural, but you can't let them get in the way of important things, like your friendship with Daniel."

"Can we go over to Daniel's now?"

"Not right now.  It's too close to dinner.  After we eat, we can call and see if it's all right to come by."

Jacob gave his daughter a smile.  "I'm sure it'll all be fine once you talk with him, Sam.  Don't worry."

Sam did worry, however, fidgeting all through the evening meal, impatient to see Daniel and fix things with him.  Her parents weren't concerned about the situation.  Unlike the last time, they were confident that this could be easily resolved.

As soon as the meal was over, Sam began hounding her father to make the call.  When he did so and explained the situation to Diane, she agreed that it would be a good idea for Sam to come over.

When a knock came on Daniel's door, and he saw who his visitors were, he was very surprised.

"What are you doing here?" he asked Sam and Jacob.

"Well, Sam has some things that she needs to get straightened out with you," the captain replied.  He looked down at his daughter.  "I'll be out in the living room.  Take as much time as you need."

As the door shut behind her father, Sam approached Daniel a little nervously, coming to a stop before the bed where he was sitting.

"I'm sorry I made you jealous," she said, staring at the floor.  "I didn't mean to not talk to you at lunch.  I didn't even think about it because. . . ."

"Because you like Randy and were thinking about him a lot," Daniel said.  Ever since Mister Greer explained things to him, his hurt feelings over being virtually ignored by Sam had lessened a great deal.  Now that he understood the whole thing, he wasn't so upset.

Sam twisted the hem of her shirt.  "Yeah."  She looked up at him.  "But I promise that I won't do it anymore.  I'll hardly look at Randy at all from now on."

"It's okay.  I understand now.  Mister Greer explained why you were acting that way."

"He did?"

"Uh huh."

"Then . . . then we're still friends?" Sam asked hopefully.

Daniel nodded.

Smiling happily, Sam gave him a hug.  She then sat down on the bed beside him.

"I'm sorry you got a bad grade on your science homework," she said.  "I would have helped you if you'd asked."

"It's okay.  Mrs. Mason isn't going to count it."

"That's good."  Sam's expression saddened.  "I'm sorry that Caleb's mother died."

"Me too."

Sam looked down at the book in Daniel's hands.  "Is that the book your mom and dad wrote?"  Daniel had told her all about it, but she hadn't had a chance to see it yet.

"Uh huh."

"Can I see it?"

Daniel handed her the book, showing her the dedication to him that he'd told her about.  Sam thought it was awesome that they'd dedicated the book to him.

Daniel watched Sam as she flipped through the pages.  After a minute or so, he abruptly blurted out, "Do you want to kiss Randy?"

The question totally shocked Sam.  "No!" she nearly shrieked, blushing brightly.

"Oh.  Mister Greer said that people who like somebody the way you like Randy want to kiss them."

"Well, I don't," Sam stated emphatically.  "That would be yucky."

"Good," Daniel responded, relieved.

There was a long silence, then, "Have you ever kissed anybody?" Sam asked.

Daniel's head shook.  "Except for my mom and dad, and that doesn't count."  He looked at her for a brief moment.  "Have you?"

"Uh uh."

There was another, shorter silence.

"Do you think you'll ever want to kiss somebody?" Daniel inquired.

"I don't know.  Maybe when I'm all grown up."

"Grown-ups like to kiss.  My mom and Dad did it a lot."

"Yeah, so do mine," Sam said, "and adults on TV shows do it a lot, too."

"I wonder why they like it so much."

"I don't know."

The two children glanced at each other, then away.

"Maybe . . . maybe we could do an experiment," Sam suggested after a few seconds.

Daniel looked at her.  "An experiment?"

"Yeah, like scientists.  If we kissed, maybe we'd know why adults like to do it."

Daniel blushed.  "You mean me and you?  But I thought you said that kissing would be yucky."

"That would be me kissing Randy.  We'd do it just to see what it's like and maybe figure out why grown-ups do it so much."

Daniel frowned slightly in uncertainty.  "An experiment."

"Uh huh."  Seeing his expression, Sam said, "We don't have to if you don't want to."

Daniel thought about it and admitted that he was kind of curious.  And it's not like it would be a real kiss.  It would just be an experiment.

"Okay," he said.

Now that Daniel had agreed, Sam was suddenly stricken with nervousness and uncertainty.  But she didn't want to back down and look like a coward.  She scooted a little closer, shyly glancing at Daniel, who returned the glance equally as shyly.  They just sat that way for several seconds, neither one of them having the courage to make the first move.  At last, their eyes met, and they quickly leaned in toward each other, their lips meeting for all of half a second, noses almost bumping.

Blushing, they ducked their heads, eyes on their laps.

"Was it yucky?" Daniel asked timidly after a moment.

"No, not really.  Did you think it was yucky?"

Daniel shook his head.  It hadn't felt yucky at all.

"Maybe we should do it for a little bit longer," Sam said.

"Okay," Daniel responded, not hesitating this time.

Again, they leaned in toward each other, more slowly this time.  Their second kiss lasted a couple of seconds.

Blushing hotly, they parted, eyes again on their laps.

"I guess maybe kissing isn't so bad," Sam said.  Though she'd never admit it, it had actually felt kind of nice.

"Yeah," Daniel agreed.  "I guess that's why adults like to do it so much."

Sam nodded.  "I-I should probably go now."  She stood up.  "Would you like to come over my house after school tomorrow?  We can talk about our science project for the fair.  We can do that at lunch tomorrow, too."

Daniel had been intending to tell Sam that he didn't want to do the science project, but maybe it wouldn't be too bad, especially since it meant that he and Sam would get to spend more time together.

"I'd have to come over after my tutoring with Mister Greer," he said.  "Maybe he could drive me to your house afterwards."

"Okay.  I'll have to ask Mom and Dad if it's okay."

"And I'll ask Mrs. Underwood."

They went out into the living room, where Jacob studied them, trying to determine if everything was okay between them.  He noticed that they were both acting a little oddly, but any question on whether or not the rift had been healed was answered when the kids asked if it would be okay for Daniel to come over to the Carters' home tomorrow to talk about their joint science project.  Both Jacob and Diane said that would be fine, and the details were arranged.

On the drive home, Jacob glanced at his daughter a couple of times, noting the presence of a little smile on her face on both occasions.

"So, everything is good with you and Daniel?"

"Uh huh.  It's great."  There was a long pause.  "Daddy, do adults kiss a lot because they like how it feels?"

Surprised by the question, Jacob gave Sam a sharper look.  "Um, yes, we do.  Why do you ask?"

Sam suddenly seemed to find her lap to be an object of deep fascination.  "No reason," she claimed, although the tone in her voice said otherwise.

The captain looked at her again, this time with concern.  "Sam, has Randy tried to kiss you?"

"No," Sam replied with a shake of her head.  "I don't think I want to kiss him."

Her words relieved Jacob.  A crush was one thing, but his eight-year-old daughter exchanging a kiss with a ten-year-old boy was something else entirely.  If he suspected something like that was going on, he'd be having a little talk with Randy.

"So, why the question about kissing, then?" he asked.

Sam began fidgeting.  Though he couldn't really tell because of the darkness, Jacob could have sworn that she was blushing.

"I was just curious," the girl said, not looking at him.

Puzzled, Jacob returned his gaze to the road.  He got to thinking about the way Daniel and Sam had been acting when they came out of the boy's bedroom, the furtive, shy glances, their posture.

A sudden suspicion hit the Air Force captain.  Could it be that the two children ended up doing something besides talk?

There was the slightest of smiles on his lips as they pulled into the driveway.  Once in the house, Sam went off to her bedroom to finish her homework.  Jacob took a seat on the couch beside Laura.

"So, I'm guessing that everything went okay," she said.

"It appears so.  Daniel will be coming over late tomorrow afternoon so that he and Sam can brainstorm over what they're going to do for the science fair."

"That's great.  I'm glad that's all straightened out."

"Perhaps in more ways than we'd anticipated," Jacob remarked cryptically.

Laura looked at him.  "What do you mean?"

Her husband's eyes were twinkling.  "I think they kissed and made up – literally."

Laura's eyes widened.  "You think that Sam and Daniel kissed?"

"I can't be certain of it, but I suspect so."

"Oh, my."

Jacob chuckled.  "Poor Randy.  He wins Sam's heart only to lose it to another guy just a few days later."

Laura elbowed him, trying not to laugh at the remark.  "Don't you think we should talk with Sam about this?"

"I don't think that's necessary.  They're only eight years old.  I'm sure it was perfectly innocent.  Besides, I'd much rather have Sam share her first kiss with Daniel than with some boy who's two years older than her."

"True."  Laura paused in thought.  "They grow up so fast, don't they.  It seems like just yesterday that Sam was only a baby."

Jacob nodded.  "But look on the bright side.  We probably still have another decade or so before she moves out, and, hopefully, a few years beyond that before she finds herself a husband and makes us grandparents."

"Mark could beat her out on the spouse and kids, you know."

"Yes, he could.  Either way, it'll probably be too soon for me."

The next morning when they met at the lockers, Sam and Daniel acted a bit shyly toward each other, exchanging little glances and smiles, saying no more than a handful of words.  When they entered the classroom together, Sam noticed Randy over in the corner, chatting with a couple of classmates about baseball.  Daniel noticed the direction of Sam's gaze and felt a sharp stab of jealousy.  He didn't want Sam to like Randy that way.

Sam's gaze, though, remained on the older boy for only a few seconds.  She then looked at Daniel and smiled at him, which made him feel good.

Throughout the morning, Sam didn't look back at Randy even once.  Sure, he was nice, and he was really cute, but he wasn't her best friend like Daniel was.  Daniel was brave, and smart, and nice, and everything else.  Sam was certain that if she kissed Randy, it wouldn't feel nearly as nice as kissing Daniel did.

At lunchtime, Daniel and Sam talked a bit about their science project, which interested both Kenny and Nathan, who got in on the conversation, volunteering their own ideas.  Partway through the meal, Daniel happened to glance over to where Bud was sitting with a couple of other boys.  They were laughing about something.  At that moment, Bud looked right at Daniel and smiled in a way that sent fear through the younger boy.  Bud said something to one of his friends, who snickered.

Daniel quickly looked away, but he could no longer concentrate on the conversation with his friends.  He had a really bad feeling that Bud was planning something.  He was glad that he'd be leaving school with Mister Greer again today.

Daniel's second tutoring session went much better than the first, Daniel's full attention upon the lessons Quentin gave him.

"You did very well, Daniel," the teacher said with a smile as the lessons drew to a close.  "So, I'm guessing that things got all worked out with Sam."

A blush came to Daniel's face, and he ducked his head.  "Yeah.  We talked and . . . and stuff.  She didn't look at Randy even once at lunchtime."

"Well, that's good."

"Maybe she doesn't like him like that anymore."

"Could be."  Quentin noticed that Daniel appeared to have something on his mind.  "What are you thinking about?"

Daniel studied him.  "Promise you won't tell?"

"Well, that all depends.  If it's not a bad thing, then I promise."

"I don't think it's a bad thing."

"Well, then I won't tell anybody."

Daniel's gaze dropped to the top of the little table that had been set up for him in the library.  "Sam and I did an experiment."

"An experiment?  What kind of experiment?"

"A . . . a kissing experiment."

Quentin had to bite his lip to keep from smiling.  "Ah.  That sounds interesting.  How did the experiment go?"


"Hmm.  And did you like the experiment?"

Daniel's head nodded, still not lifting.

Quentin was losing his battle with the smile.  "It felt kind of nice, didn't it."

"Uh huh, both times."

The teacher's eyebrows rose.  "Both times?"

"We kissed, but it was really, really fast, so we decided to do it again."

Laughter was clawing its way up Quentin's throat, and he was in serious danger of losing it right there.

"Well, I'm glad that the experiment was a great success, Daniel," he managed to say.  He got to his feet.  "Would you excuse me?  I need to go use the bathroom."

The teacher made an exit and headed straight to the bathroom.  Running water in the sink hid the sound of his chuckles.  Apparently, the young Daniel's viewpoint on kissing had undergone a radical transformation.  Fortunately, his discovery of the joys of kissing had been made with Sam, who wouldn't turn around and break his heart by losing interest in him.  Quentin had to wonder if this was going to develop into a crush or just remain a "kissing experiment" between best friends.

When the teacher came back into the library, Daniel was looking at him in concern.

"You promise you won't tell, right?" the boy said.

Quentin ruffled his hair.  "I promise.  Come on.  Let's get you over to the Carters."

Sam didn't waste much time thrusting Daniel headlong into the science project planning.  She'd made a list of all her ideas.

"Whatever you decide is okay with me," the boy told her.

"No, I want you to tell me which you like best.  Did you come up with any ideas?"

"Not really.  My idea is stupid."

"I bet it isn't.  Come on.  Tell me."

Reluctantly, Daniel told Sam about a library book he'd read that claimed the pyramids were built by aliens from outer space and the idea that had suddenly popped into his head last night.

Sam grinned hugely.  "I love it!" she exclaimed.

"You do?"

"Yeah!  And I've got an idea that could make it even better!"  She explained her idea to Daniel.

The boy nodded.  "That would look great."

Sam nodded enthusiastically.  "We'll have to figure out how we can make it all work, though.  Mom and Dad are allowed to give us suggestions, but they can't help us make anything.  We need to do it all on our own."

Daniel frowned.  "I don't know how to do any of the things we'd need to."

Sam smiled.  "That's okay.  We'll figure it out."

The two kids spent the rest of their time together discussing the details, suggesting and discarding various ideas.  They finally settled on exactly what their science project would do.  The trick now was to figure out how to make it do those things.

The next day, Daniel and Sam asked Mrs. Mason if she had any science books they could borrow.

"Ones that have things about little motors and stuff to make lights turn on," Sam specified.

Happy to see that the two children seemed to have resolved their problems, Elizabeth told them that she'd see what she could find.

Diane picked Daniel up from school that day, having a few errands to run before the boy's appointment with Doctor Pine.

The therapy session went well, the psychologist very pleased with the significant progress Daniel had made since his first visit.  They talked about what happened with Caleb's mother and how it had made Daniel feel.  Though the boy didn't want to admit it, the doctor managed to coax out of him his brief feelings of self-pity and bitterness.

"Do you still feel that way, Daniel?" Joseph asked, knowing that such feelings were quite normal.

The boy shook his head.  "Not really.  It isn't anybody's fault that my grandpa didn't want me because he's too busy working.  If Caleb didn't have Mrs. Underwood, he'd have been all alone, too, with nobody to love him.  I'm glad that he's lucky and has her to care about him.  I'm lucky, too, now."

"How so?"

"Because I have Sam and her parents, and I have Mister Greer and his wife, and I have Mrs. Underwood, too, and other friends at school.  I'm not alone anymore."

The therapist smiled.  "You are exactly right, Daniel.  You have lots of people who love you and will make sure that you are never alone."  His smile faded and his gaze sharpened.  "Daniel, during our first session, I asked if you wanted to die and be with your parents.  You told me that you thought it would be okay if you did die if it meant that you could be with them.  Do you still feel that way?"

Daniel thought about those terrifying moments in the stream when he thought that he was going to die.

"No," he said with conviction.  "I don't want to die."

Joseph studied his face.  "Not even if you could be with your parents?"

Daniel shook his head.

The psychologist relaxed, the smile returning.  "That is wonderful to hear, Daniel.  I'm glad."  He closed the folder before him and laid down his pen.  "Well, I am happy to say that I think we're all done.  I don't need to see you anymore.  You've come far, Daniel, and I think that you're going to be just fine.  Your mom and dad would be very happy, my boy, and you should feel very proud of yourself."

A few minutes later, Daniel said goodbye to Doctor Joseph Pine for the last time and left the office feeling good about himself and what the future held for him.

Because of the therapy session, there was no tutoring for Daniel that day, so he and Mrs. Underwood went home – after a quick trip to the store to pick up some ice cream to celebrate Daniel's completion of therapy.  The boy's foster mother was so happy to know that Daniel had such a positive outlook on life now and that no traces remained of his former opinion on his own death.  The scars left by the loss of his parents were truly healing.

The ice cream was served after dinner.  Daniel was happy to see Caleb eating some.  Though the boy was still unusually quiet, he seemed to be slowly recovering from the blow of his mother's death.

Daniel had not talked to his foster brother about the whole thing and felt a little bad about that.  Later that evening, shortly before the boy's bedtime, Daniel knocked on his door, feeling a little nervous.  Upon hearing Caleb say "come in", he opened the door.  The six-year-old was by himself, Adam still playing out in the living room.

"Hi," Daniel said.  "Can I come in?"

"I guess," Caleb replied.

Daniel entered, shutting the door behind him.  He approached the bed, where the younger boy had been playing with a G.I. Joe action figure.

"My friend, Sam, has a Major Matt Mason doll with all the accessories," Daniel said, hoping to start a conversation.

"I've got lots of different clothes for G.I. Joe," the younger boy responded.

"That's cool."  Daniel sat on the edge of the bed.  "How are you feeling?" he asked.

Caleb's gaze dropped.  "Okay."

"I'm really sorry about your mom.  When my mom and dad died, it hurt a lot."

Caleb crossed his arms over his chest protectively.  "Did . . . did you cry?"

"Yeah, lots of times.  I still miss them a whole lot."

"I don't know my dad very well.  He went to jail when I was little.  It was just me and my mom."  Caleb's head ducked closer to his chest.  "And then she got sick because of the drugs, and I couldn't live with her anymore."  He quickly wiped away a tear that had escaped down his cheek.  "I wanted to stay with her, but they wouldn't let me.  Mommy told me that it would be okay because it was just temporary, and she promised that, in a year, she'd come get me, and we'd be a family again."  More tears fell.  "But she didn't come get me, and I didn't know why, and I was really mad, and . . . and. . . ."  His voice trailed off.  "I got taken out of that foster home and put here with the Underwoods.  I decided it was okay because that meant it was still all just temporary.  If it wasn't temporary, they'd have made me stay with the other people, right?"

Daniel didn't reply, not knowing the answer.

"Mommy called and told me that she was sorry she didn't come get me and promised that it would be just one more year.  She . . ." the boy's voice wavered, "she would have come to get me on Sunday if she hadn't died.  That was the day she promised to get me."  Caleb lifted tear-bright eyes to Daniel.  "She really would have come to get me this time, wouldn't she?" he asked, a note of desperate need in his voice.

Daniel didn't know if Caleb's mother would have come this time, but he could tell what the boy needed to hear.

He nodded.  "I bet she would have."

Caleb relaxed, his faith in his mother having been affirmed.

"I don't know what's going to happen to me now," he said.  "My dad can't take me because he's still in jail, and all my grandparents are dead, except for Gramma Bridget, who's really old and in a nursing home.  I don't have any aunts or uncles."

"Wouldn't you like to stay with the Underwoods?" Daniel asked.

Caleb shrugged.  "I don't know.  They're supposed to be just temporary."

"Well, maybe they can be permanent now.  Maybe if you ask your caseworker if you can stay here, then she'll let you.  I bet Adam would be really happy if you stayed.  He's almost like your real brother.  And I know that Mrs. Underwood would be happy."

Caleb began toying with one of the action figures.  "I guess . . . I guess it would be okay if I was here for longer.  Mrs. Underwood is really nice, and I like playing with Adam.  I never had a brother before."

There was a tap on the door, then Diane came in, a sleepy Adam standing beside her.

"Oh.  I didn't know you were in here, Daniel."  She looked back and forth between the two boys.  "Have you been having a nice talk?"

"Uh huh," Daniel replied.

Diane smiled.  "That's good.  It's time for Caleb and Adam to go to bed, though.  Perhaps you can talk some more tomorrow."

Daniel got up and headed for the door.  He paused to wish Caleb a good night, then went off to his room.

It was around fifteen minutes later that Diane came in.  She knelt before the boy's chair and hugged him.

"Thank you for talking to Caleb, Daniel.  That was so very sweet of you.  He told me some of what you talked about.  He . . ." her throat tightened, "he asked me if it would be okay if he stayed here for a while longer."

"Is he going to ask Social Services if he can stay?  I told him that he should."

"We'll both talk to his caseworker about it tomorrow."

"Do you think they'll let him stay?"

"I don't know, Daniel, but if Caleb wants to stay here, then I think that maybe Social Services will let him.  I hope so."

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