Stargate Horizons


It was not long before Daniel and the Carters were on the road to the arcade in Syracuse.  Jacob had called the Greers and invited them along.  They were traveling in a separate car.  Surprisingly, in a third car were the Underwoods, Paul having convinced his wife that the younger kids would be fine at the arcade.

There was no doubt that everyone had fun.  As the three women mostly looked on, their husbands went around and played games with the kids, only Susy not playing, all the noise and children running around being a bit too much for her.  Instead, she played at the table with the toys her foster mother had brought.

At one point, Laura looked over at Diane and noticed tears in her eyes.  She followed the woman's gaze and saw Paul helping Caleb play one of the games, patiently showing him what to do.

Laura rested a hand on Diane's arm.  "Are you all right?"

The woman sniffled and wiped her eyes.  "Yes.  It's just . . . it's more than I ever dreamed, seeing Paul like that.  For so long I've hoped and prayed that he'd someday take an interest in children.  I'd . . . given up hope that it would ever happen."

"What changed things?" Kathleen asked.

Diane started getting nervous.  "Oh, um . . . something happened on Christmas that really affected him.  There was also the death of Caleb's mother.  Paul lost his maternal grandparents when he was quite young.  He was very close to them, so he understood how much Caleb was hurting.  He and Caleb in particular seem to be bonding.  It's wonderful to see."

Laura had to wonder if the incident Diane was talking about was Susy's fall into the stream.  That would certainly be enough to put a scare into someone, especially the person who was supposed to have been watching the kids.

Just then, a squeal of laughter drew the attention of the women to another spot in the arcade.  They saw Quentin carrying Daniel under one arm, Sam under the other, Jacob beside them with Adam perched on his shoulders.  The sight made the women laugh.

"Your husband certainly does seem to adore children," Diane said to Kathleen with a smile.

"Oh, yes.  We'd have ten of them at home, if it were possible."  Kat's happy mood instantly vanished.  She turned back to the table, taking a sip of her iced tea.

Suddenly, Laura understood something that she'd been wondering about.  "You can't have children," she guessed softly.

Kathleen cleared her throat.  "It's . . . it's not impossible.  My doctor says there is a chance that I could get pregnant, but . . . we've been trying for almost six years now."

"I'm sorry," Laura said, understanding in a way that only a mother could.  The thought of not being able to have kids, to never have the joy that her children brought into her life, was unbearable.

Diane was staring at Kathleen.  She, too, understood the woman's pain, even more so than Laura, having been denied the joy of having babies of her own.  She now had hope that, someday, Paul would change his mind about having kids, but, for Kathleen, it wasn't a matter of choice.

Jacob came up to them.  "Whew!  I am getting too old for this!" he exclaimed as he set Adam down.  He plopped down beside his wife and looked over at Quentin, who was still playing with Daniel and Sam.  "Where does he get all his energy?"

"Oh, he'll be pooping out soon, too, I'd guess," Kathleen responded.

Fifteen minutes later, a "pooped out" Quentin landed on the bench beside her.  Daniel and Sam, dozens of tickets in their fists, sat on the other side of the table.  Paul and Caleb joined the group a minute later.

"Well, I don't know about you guys but I'm starving," the teacher said.

"What time is it anyway?" Jacob wondered.  He looked at his watch.  "Holy cow.  I didn't realize it was so late.  No wonder my stomach feels like the Grand Canyon."

"Our stomachs and my wallet.  I've spent a fortune on tokens."

The adults turned to the kids.

"So, how many tickets do you guys have?" Jacob asked.

The children each totaled up their "winnings".

"I'd have lots more if it wasn't for this stupid cast," Sam said, disappointed with her count.

"But you still had fun, right?" Laura asked.

"Uh huh.  I want to stay the whole day."

"Sorry, kiddo, but we old fogeys have had enough for one day.  Besides, it's past time to go get something to eat."  He looked around and spotted Mark, who was still playing.  "I'd better go fetch my son so we can cash in and get out of here."

To the starving adults, it seemed to take all eternity for the children to decide what toys they were going to get with their tickets.  Surprisingly, Daniel was the one who made up his mind the quickest, settling on a grinning fish hanging from a little fishing pole.

"It's for Jack," he explained.

Kathleen smiled.  "I'm sure he'll love it."

The boy had two tickets left over and gave them to Sam, who was the last to make up her mind on what to get.

After leaving the arcade, they went to the nearest hamburger place.  It being past their nap time, the three younger kids were tired, Susy starting to get a little cranky.  As soon as the meal was over, the Underwoods decided to get the children home and to bed.

"You can stay with the Carters, if you'd like, Daniel," Paul said.

"Okay.  Thank you, Mister Underwood."

"We'll have him home before dinner," Jacob told the man and his wife.

"I guess Kat and I should get going, too," Quentin said regretfully a moment later.  "There are things that need to get done."  He looked at Daniel.  "Will we be seeing you tomorrow?"

The boy nodded.  "I'm going to finish the frame, then I can put the clay on next Saturday."

"Sounds like a plan to me."

"Actually, we should get back as well," Jacob said.  "I've also got a few errands to run."

"Do we have to?" Sam asked, pouting.

"Haven't you had enough fun for one day?"


"Well, then you can have more fun . . . at home."

The fun at home consisted of putting more work in on the science project, which was really starting to take shape.  Sam was sure that they'd have it done in plenty of time for the fair.

When Jacob took Daniel home at 5:30, Sam didn't object.  She didn't express any fear over his safety that evening.  When she went off to bed that night, her parents did not worry that there would be another nightmare.  Sam had faced her bogeyman head-on and conquered her fear.

The following week passed uneventfully, for which everyone was grateful.  The Italian language tapes had arrived, and Daniel was now immersed in completing his knowledge of the language.  Paul found himself peeking into the boy's room more than once, listening to Daniel speaking in the foreign tongue.

"You know, I didn't really think about it before," he said to his wife on Friday.  "I mean, I knew the boy was smart, but I didn't really care."  He frowned.  "What will social services do about his education?  Daniel should go to college.  They wouldn't pay for that, would they?"

Diane shook her head and sighed.  "He'll be removed from foster care when he turns eighteen, if not sooner.  After that, he'll be completely on his own.  His only hope of getting into a university will be if he gets a scholarship or if he can somehow manage to work his way through college."

"Doesn't seem right."

"No, it isn't."  Diane looked at her husband.  "Paul, I . . . I can't tell you how much it means to me to see you showing such an interest in the kids, playing with them like you have been.  I'm so proud of you."

Paul looked at her.  "I guess I have a big apology to make to you.  We've been foster parents for three years, and it hasn't been until now that I'm actually being a parent.  I know how much I've hurt you, and I'm sorry."

Husband and wife shared a long hug.  Diane was teary-eyed as they drew apart.

Paul stared at their entwined hands.  "I've been giving this a lot of thought, and, well . . . I, um, don't know how good a dad I'll be, but . . ." he looked at his wife, "if you still want to have a baby with me, I think I'm ready."

Diane gasped.  And then she started sobbing.  Paul pulled her back into his arms and held her as she cried the tears of joy.  After she'd quieted, he wiped her face and smiled at her.

"So, how about if we get started on the first part tonight?" he asked.

Actually blushing, Diane replied, "Okay."

Taking her hand, Paul pulled her to her feet and led her off to the bedroom, making a baby on both of their minds.

Daniel arrived at the Greers at ten o'clock Saturday morning.  A few minutes later, he got busy with the clay.  Quentin and Kathleen checked on him occasionally, but mostly left him to the task, except when they called him to lunch.

Once Daniel had finished applying the clay, he got busy on the details that would help give his construction the realism that he wanted it to have.  Some would be done now, while the clay was still soft.  The rest would be done after it had dried.

By the time the boy went home that evening, he was satisfied with what he'd accomplished.  He was back the next day, ready to resume work.

Late that afternoon, Quentin studied Daniel's handiwork.

"Wow.  It looks fantastic, Daniel.  You're doing a marvelous job.  How much is there left to do?"

"I still have lots more painting to do.  After it's all done, we need to take it over to Sam's house so that we can put the stuff inside it."

The teacher stared at Daniel's construction, realizing something.  "I don't think it'll fit through the car door.  I should have realized that before."

"But how are we going to get it over there?"

"I'll have to borrow someone's truck or station wagon.  One of the neighbors has a pickup with a shell."  Quentin looked at his watch.  "I need to get you home, Daniel."

On the trip to the Underwoods, the boy glanced at his tutor.  "Kenny told me that his dad said he couldn't have music lessons."

Quentin sighed.  "Yes, I'm afraid so.  I tried my best to convince him that it would be a great thing for Kenny, that Kenny has an amazing talent that needs to be nurtured, but Mister Robinson doesn't want his son to be a musician."

"Why not?"

"For reasons with which I do not agree."

Daniel stared at his lap.  "Kenny started crying when he told me."

Quentin sighed again, cursing silently.

"I wish I knew all about music so that I could teach him," Daniel said in a low voice.

Quentin stroked his hair, glancing at him fondly.  "And I bet you'd be a very good music teacher."

On Tuesday, Daniel completed his part of the science project.  Quentin made arrangements to borrow his neighbor's truck on Wednesday to take the thing over to the Carters'.

The next morning, however, something happened that put all thoughts of the science project right out of Daniel's head.  Once everyone was settled at their desks, Mrs. Mason got up and stood before the class.

"As I'm sure most of you know, tomorrow is Valentine's Day," she said.

Several of the boys in the class snickered or made sounds of disgust.

"I know that some of you will have no interest in making a valentine card, so, although today's arts and crafts time will be focused on the holiday, it is not necessary for everyone to make something for it.  You are free to do some other art or craft project.  Or if you'd like to help decorate the classroom with hearts instead, that would be fine, too.  It's entirely up to you."

Daniel was frowning.  He didn't know very much about Valentine's Day.  He'd been seeing advertisements for it, but he was puzzled about what the purpose of the holiday was.  It seemed to have something to do with guys and girls hugging and kissing each other.  He glanced at Sam shyly, remembering their kisses of a few weeks ago.

Daniel did recall a time when he heard his father wish his mother a happy Valentine's Day and then gave her a gift.  The boy started to get worried.  Were people supposed to give gifts to each other?  He didn't buy any gifts, and there wouldn't be enough time to make some.

When the bell rang for lunch, Daniel told Sam that he'd meet her in the cafeteria, then he approached his teacher.

"Mrs. Mason, I don't know very much about Valentine's Day," he said.  "I don't think it's a holiday they celebrate in Egypt."

"Ah.  Well, I'm sure you'd find it interesting to know that the Valentine's Day we celebrate honors two different men name Valentine.  One was a priest in Rome who died as a martyr around AD 269.  The other was Valentine of Terni, a bishop who lived in the second and early third century and was reportedly killed during the persecution of Emperor Aurelian. Both men were sainted.  The holiday is also called Saint Valentine's Day.  In this country and in Europe, it's a day for people to express their love for each other by giving valentine cards, flowers, candy or some other gift."

"Do you give the cards and gifts to everybody that you love?" Daniel asked, thinking of all the people he'd come to love these past months.

"Um . . . no.  You see, it's mostly for people who love each other romantically."

Daniel blushed.  "Oh."

"However, if there's a special little girl that you just really like a lot, she can be your valentine, the person you give the card or gift.  Lots of kids do that."

Daniel went to the cafeteria with Mrs. Mason's words in his mind.  There was, of course, only one girl that he'd consider making his "valentine", and that was Sam.  But Daniel didn't know if he had the courage to present Sam with a valentine card.  It would be embarrassing.  And what if she didn't want to be his valentine?  Though she hadn't been paying much attention to Randy, lately, she might still prefer to be his valentine.

By the time the class began working on their arts and crafts projects, Daniel still wasn't sure what he should do.  He could always go ahead and make the card.  He just wouldn't write anything inside it for now.  If he decided not to give it to Sam, he could give it to the teacher to hang up as a decoration instead.

Decision made, the boy got to work on cutting the red and pink craft paper.  He noticed that Sam was making a card, too, and really wished he knew to whom she planned on giving it.

Daniel still wasn't done with his card when craft time ended, so he decided to take it home and finish it there.

While Daniel was at his tutor's home, the man they were going to borrow the truck from called and said that he needed the pickup for something that had come up.  He told Quentin that they could have it tomorrow.  Daniel, whose thoughts were a lot more on the unfinished card in his bag than on the science project, wasn't disappointed with the delay.

"It's Valentine's Day tomorrow," he abruptly blurted out.

Quentin smiled.  "Yes, I know."  He leaned closer to the boy and lowered his voice.  "Don't tell Kathleen, but I've made reservations at a fancy restaurant, and I bought her a very pretty necklace.  I'm sure she'll like that a whole lot better than candy and flowers."

"We made stuff for Valentine's Day at school today.  I've never done that before."  Daniel began playing with his pencil.  "I made a valentine card, but I don't know if I should give it to the person I want to give it to."

The teacher studied his student, guessing that the possible recipient of the card was Sam.  "Well, do you really care about this girl?"

Daniel nodded.

"Would you like to give it to her?"

The boy nodded again after a brief pause.

"Then I think you should give it to her.  I'm sure that she'll love it."

"But what if she doesn't?"

Quentin hesitated a moment before asking, "Is it Sam?"

Daniel's head ducked a little, then nodded.

"Then don't worry, Daniel.  I'm sure that she'll be delighted."

The boy looked at him.  "You really think so?"

Quentin smiled and nodded.  "Yes, I really think so."

Daniel was terribly nervous at school the next day, agonizing over when and how he'd present the valentine card to Sam.  He was so worried about it that he failed to notice all the times that Sam glanced at him.  Hidden inside the girl's notebook was a valentine card with Daniel's name on it.  More than once, she'd thought about tearing it up.  She'd never given a valentine to a boy before, and she was worried that Daniel wouldn't like it.  What if he thought it was silly?  She knew that he'd made something yesterday for Valentine's Day, but it might have just been a decoration for the classroom.  She'd want to just curl up and die if she gave her card to Daniel, and he didn't like it.

Throughout lunch, the best friends kept giving each other furtive glances, neither one of them talking very much.

Though it was cold, it wasn't raining or snowing, so they both decided to go outside after their meals were finished.  Quite a few kids were out in the playground.

Daniel, who'd hidden his valentine card inside his coat, finally got up the courage to give it to Sam.  He asked her to come with him to a spot where there was no one else around.  Not looking in her eyes, he pulled the card out and shyly gave it to her, blushing furiously.

Sam looked at the red and pink heart-shaped card and slowly opened it.  Inside, it said, "For my best friend Sam.  Will you be my valentine?"

She looked at Daniel, who was still blushing, his gaze remaining downcast.  "You want me to be your valentine?"

The boy began fidgeting with the zipper of his coat.  "I-I-I didn't know what to say in the card.  I've never done a valentine before.  I asked Mrs. Underwood, and she said that I could ask you to be my valentine."  His voice dropped.  "If you don't want to be my valentine, it's okay."

Expecting her to say something, Daniel was surprised when, instead, she grabbed his hand and hurried into the school, pulling him along with her.  She went to their classroom, which was empty.  She got her notebook, reached between the pages, and pulled out a handcrafted card, which she handed to him.  His name was written on the front.  Daniel stared at it for a moment before opening it.

"Will you be my valentine?" said the words inside.

Daniel looked at Sam to see that she was blushing.

"Okay," he said, which made Sam smile.  "Does this mean you want to be my valentine, too?"

Sam nodded.

The two kids fell silent for a long moment.

"Do you know what we're supposed to do now?" Daniel asked.

"Uh uh.  Dad usually takes Mom out to dinner and buys her something."

"Mister Greer said that's what he was going to do."

Sam chewed on her lip.  "I don't think we can go out to dinner."

Daniel's gaze dropped to the floor.  "I didn't buy you anything."  He glanced at Sam.  "On TV, they've been showing boys and girls hugging and . . . and kissing each other in the Valentine's Day commercials."


They both shifted nervously.

The question of whether or not they should kiss was never raised because, at that moment, Mrs. Mason came in.  She was about to express her surprise that they were there when she saw the cards in their hands.  Smiling, she just said hello to them, sat at her desk and began to work on some papers.  Embarrassed, the kids shoved the cards in their desks and went back outside.

Nothing more was said about the exchange of valentines for the rest of the school day.  Daniel was on his way to his tutor's classroom when he heard someone running up to him.  He turned just in time to receive a quick kiss on the cheek from Sam.  And then she was gone, running back the way she came.

Daniel stood, unmoving, for several seconds.  Then, a smile growing on his face, he continued his journey.

The next evening, Daniel's "masterpiece", as his teacher called it, was loaded up into the borrowed pickup and taken over to the Carters'.  Once it was settled on the table that had been set up for it in Jacob's office and the towels covering it were removed, the four members of the Carter family all studied it.

"Holy cow," Jacob murmured, giving an appreciative whistle.

"Wow.  It almost looks real," Sam said.

Her father nodded.  "It's beautiful.  I'm really going to hate having to drill those holes in it.  It'll be like I'm vandalizing a work of art."

Daniel blushed at the compliments.

Sam began bouncing up and down with excitement.  "This is going to be the best science project ever!"

The weeks passed, Daniel going over to Sam's as often as possible to help with the science project.  The closer the date of the fair got, the more anxious the children became.

On the night before the big day, Sam was just about bouncing off the walls, driving her parents nuts.  It was next to impossible to get her into bed that night.

Everyone was up very early the next morning, knowing that they'd have to get an early start for the drive to where the science fair was being held.

The plan had been for Diane and Paul to join Daniel and the Carters on the trip, but, the night before, the person who was supposed to babysit the other kids had backed out, not leaving them enough time to find someone else.  Paul surprised Diane by volunteering to stay home and watch the kids so that she could go, insisting that he'd be fine for the day.

"Besides, I need to start practicing," he'd said, which made her smile.

Jacob had borrowed a station wagon from a neighbor.  With the science fair entry secured in the back, everyone else piled into the seats, and they got underway.

Upon arriving at their destination, Jacob went inside to find out where their booth was.  As he walked through the crowd of kids and parents setting up the dozens of science projects, he couldn't help but check out the "competition".  Some of the stuff he saw looked pretty impressive.  He knew that Sam had high hopes that their entry would win a prize.  He and Laura had discussed what they'd do to cheer their daughter and Daniel up if that didn't happen.

Once he'd located their booth, the captain returned to the car.  The second trip was made with Sam continually telling him to be careful with the precious burden he carried.  He breathed a sigh of relief when the thing was finally sitting safely on the table in the booth.  Daniel and Sam got busy on the final little details that couldn't be done until then.  They'd just finished when a familiar voice made Daniel turn around to see Quentin and Kathleen.

"You came!" he said in delight, running up to hug them.

"Well, of course we did," said the teacher.  "There's no way that we were going to miss this."  He bent down to study the thing sitting on the table.  "This looks great.  I can't wait to see it in action."

"We're going to wait until the judges come before we turn it on," Sam said.  "We don't want to ruin the surprise."

"So, do you want to take a look at the other entries?" Jacob asked the kids.  "There's still two hours to go before the judges start making their rounds."

Getting a "yes" from them, Jacob and Quentin took Daniel, Sam and Mark around as Kathleen and Diane stayed behind to babysit the booth.

The competition was open to fourth, fifth and sixth-graders, and the huge room had been divided into three sections, one for each of the grades.  The entries for each grade would be judged separately by different judges.

As Sam and Daniel looked at the other fourth grade entries, it was natural that they'd compare what the other contestants had done with their own entry.  Though Daniel thought they were all good, Sam thought that some of the stuff was pretty lame.

Next, they went to the fifth grade section, where Quentin's knowledge as a teacher came in handy in answering the questions the kids had about some of the entries.

Lastly came the entries at the sixth grade level.  Sam was absolutely fascinated by some of the things and asked tons of questions.  Daniel mostly just looked and soaked it all in.

Finally, it was time to return to their booth.  Several minutes later, the announcement came that the judges were beginning their rounds.  Daniel and Sam were instantly transformed into two very nervous children who kept looking around for the people who would judge all the hard work they'd done.  It seemed to take forever before they finally spotted the man and woman wearing badges and carrying clipboards, then another eon for the two to at last reach their booth.

"Hello there," said the woman.  She glanced at her clipboard and then at the eight-year-olds.  "You must be Daniel Jackson and Samantha Carter."

"Yes, ma'am," replied Sam.

The man bent down and began examining the object on the table.  The two-foot-tall pyramid sat upon a landscape of sand, tiny camels here and there. The pyramid looked as if it had been constructed from hundreds of little stone blocks, each one textured like real stone.

"This is quite impressive," the man said.  "Wonderful attention to detail.  How did you do the texturing?"

"I used sandpaper," Daniel replied.  "When the clay was still soft, I pressed a sheet of the really coarse sandpaper into it.  Then, after it dried, I rubbed it with more sandpaper."

The judge smiled.  "Smart."  He straightened.  "It looks quite real.  You did a marvelous job."

Daniel blushed.  "Thank you.  I wish I could have made it really look like Khufu's pyramid.  It has over two million blocks.  I could only make this one look like it has four hundred.  That's not very many.  More would have taken a really long time, and I would have had to do it after the clay was dry, because there wouldn't have been enough time to get it all done before."

The man smiled.  "Well, you still did a very good job, Daniel."

"So, are you ready to show us what it does?" the woman asked.

Almost bursting with excitement, Sam flipped the switch.  A row of tiny white lights winked on at the base of the pyramid, shining through little holes drilled into the clay.  Another row appeared above the first, then a third, a fourth and so on until the entire pyramid was sparkling with lights.  They began to flash on and off in a set pattern around the circumference of the pyramid, putting on a dazzling light show.  Several inches of the top of the pyramid began to open, the four sides splitting apart.  From within the pyramid rose a miniature spaceship hanging from the end of a clear piece of fishing line attached to a motorized car antenna.

As the ship cleared the pyramid, the antenna began to spin rapidly, centrifugal force making the ship lift away from it as if the craft was actually flying.  The top of the pyramid closed back up, and the line the ship was attached to lengthened a few inches, causing the little craft to go zipping right around the walls of the pyramid.

Quentin and Kathleen couldn't help but laugh in delight at the sight, marveling at the imagination and ingenuity of the two children.  The teacher looked at the judges and saw that they were smiling as well.

After about a minute, the fishing line shortened back to its original length, and the antenna stopped spinning.  The pyramid opened back up, and the ship slowly lowered into it.  Once the pyramid was once again closed, the lights turned off.

Not making any comments about the show that had just been put on for them, the judges started asking how the children had accomplished it.  Sam did most of the explaining.

"Wonderful job," the woman finally said.  "Very impressive, especially for your age."

"Thank you," responded Daniel and Sam, beaming.

Once the judges moved onto the next booth, Sam started bouncing up and down.

"They liked it!" she exclaimed.

"Well, I should hope so," said Quentin.  "You guys did a fantastic job.  Very cool.  Definitely worthy of first prize, as far as I'm concerned."

Kathleen nodded.  "I couldn't agree more."

What followed was more waiting as the rest of the entries were judged.  Everyone was surprised when four other judges, those for the fifth and sixth grade entries, came up to the booth to examine the pyramid and see it in action.

Sam was getting very antsy by the time all of the judges walked onto the stage.  As the others took seats, three of the judges came up to the microphone.

"May I have your attention, please?" said one of the men into the microphone.  "First of all, we'd like to thank each and every one of the bright young students who participated in this year's science fair.  You should all be proud of your achievements."  He looked around the room.  "Okay, onto what I'm sure you're all anxiously awaiting.  We will start off by announcing the third prize winners for each of the three grades.  Announcing the third prize winner for grade four is Patricia Snow."

The woman who had judged Daniel and Sam's entry stepped up to the microphone.  The best friends grabbed onto each other's hands as she began speaking.

"Third place in the Grade Four Division goes to Marcus Beddingfield of North Bay Elementary," she announced.

Accompanied by the sound of applause, an excited ten-year-old boy and a man who looked like his father hurried up onto the stage to accept a small trophy and a certificate.

Next came the awards for third prize in the fifth and sixth grade divisions.  Then it was time for the second prizes.  As the man who'd judged their entry came up to the microphone after being introduced as Walter Pringle, Daniel and Sam stepped a wee bit closer to each other, their hands once again clasped.

When second place in the fourth grade division went to a girl from a school in Auburn, Jacob, Laura, Diane, and the Greers all exchanged slightly worried glances.  There was only one fourth grade prize to go.  Would Daniel and Sam be the first prize winners?

Daniel was also worried.  He didn't want to get his hopes up that they'd win first prize.  In fact, he was trying to prepare himself for the disappointment of not winning anything.  Sam, on the other hand, was attempting to keep her hopes high.  The judges had really liked their entry.  They'd said it was impressive.  It would be so awesome if they won first prize.

As Mrs. Snow approached the microphone to announce the winner of the fourth grade first prize,  Laura, Jacob and the others drew a little closer to Daniel and Sam, ready to congratulate them if it was good news or comfort them if it was bad.

"In the Grade Four Division," Mrs. Snow said, "the winner of the first prize is . . . Thomas White of Allen Road Elementary."

'Damn,' Jacob cursed.  His gaze immediately went to Daniel and Sam.  The boy's shoulders were drooping, his eyes on the floor.  Sam looked utterly crushed, on the verge of tears.  He knelt before them, taking their hands.

"Hey.  You listen to me.  Okay, so you didn't win a prize, but it doesn't matter.  You both did an incredible job, and we are all very proud of you."

"Yes, we are," Laura agreed, her heart aching for the kids.

"Yeah.  Who needs a stupid trophy anyway?" said Mark.  "I think yours was the coolest one in the whole fair."

Sam, who couldn't hold the tears in any longer, threw herself into her father's arms.  Diane knelt down and wrapped Daniel in a hug.  Though he didn't cry, more than one sniffle came from him.

Up on the stage, the remaining prizes for the other grades had been awarded.  The man who had begun the announcements was back at the microphone.  "Congratulations to all of the winners," he said.  "We are not quite done yet, however.  There is one more prize to be awarded."

The surprising words caught Daniel and Sam's attention.  They and the others turned back to the stage.

"This final prize is not awarded every year," the man said.  "In fact, in the ten years that this science fair has been held, it has been given out only three other times.  This special award is given to an entry that demonstrates extraordinary imagination, craftsmanship, attention to detail and beauty in both form and function."  The man smiled.  "This year, it gives me great pleasure to give the Special Achievement Award to two of the youngest participants in the history of this fair, Daniel Jackson and Samantha Carter."

As applause exploded around them, Daniel and Sam's eyes got huge, enormous smiles beaming across their faces.

"Well, come on, you two!" Jacob said with a delighted laugh.  "Let's go get your trophy!"

Taking the hands of the two children, he brought them up to the stage.  All of the judges were smiling at the kids.

"Congratulations," said Mister Pringle as he handed the trophy and certificate to them.  "You did a marvelous job, one of the most imaginative entries I've seen in the six years that I've been judging."

The kids were on cloud nine as they left the stage, Sam holding tightly to the trophy as Daniel held onto the certificate with both hands.  When they reached their booth, they got big hugs from all the adults.

"This is even better than first prize!" Sam declared, bubbling over with happiness.  "It's a special award that they don't even give every year."

"It sure is, kiddo," Jacob agreed.  "And you both really deserve it."

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