Stargate Horizons


After they got back to Rome and returned the pyramid to its spot in Jacob's office, Diane called Paul and gave him the good news.  While she was on the phone with him, everyone decided that a celebratory dinner was in order.

Paul and the younger children joined the others at the restaurant.  When she found out what the celebration was for, the waitress brought out ice cream for not only Daniel and Sam but the other kids as well, compliments of the manager.

"The school is going to want to put the pyramid on display," Quentin said as he watched the kids digging into their ice cream.

That made Sam pause between bites.  "But it might get broken."

"I'm sure they'll put it in a safe place.  I'll talk to the principal about it."

On Monday, Mrs. Mason wasted no time in announcing Daniel and Sam's victory in class.  That was embarrassing enough for the boy, but it was even worse when the principal announced it over the P.A. system.  Throughout the lunch break, kids kept coming up and asking what Daniel and Sam made for the fair.

The principal agreed to have a simple glass case made for the pyramid to protect it from damage.  On Thursday afternoon, after school had let out, the pyramid was placed within its new home, which had been put in the alcove that also had the display case holding various other awards given to the school and individual students in previous years.  One of the sixth grade teachers had come up with a way for it to cycle through its show of lights and flying spaceship once every five minutes twice a day, in the morning before class started and during the lunch break.

On Friday morning and again at lunch time, there was a big crowd of kids gathered around the case, many oohing and ahhing every time the pyramid turned on.

While Sam loved all the praise and positive attention, Daniel was terribly embarrassed by it all and wished that everyone would stop making such a big deal about it.  He didn't really feel like he deserved all the praise.  Sam was the one who'd figured out how to do most of the stuff, not him.  All he did was come up with the original idea, make the pyramid, and help Sam with some of the rest of the stuff.  He explained that to more than one child, but finally gave up after the ninth or tenth time.

Despite all this, Daniel cherished the certificate that was now hanging on his bedroom wall.  He and Sam had agreed that he'd keep it while she kept the trophy.

When Daniel got home on Monday afternoon, he was alarmed to see that his foster mother appeared to have been crying.

"What's wrong?" he asked worriedly, fearful that some other terrible calamity had occurred.

The woman smiled.  "Nothing's wrong, Daniel.  Nothing at all."

"Then why have you been crying?" he asked.

Diane paused before sitting the boy on the couch.  "They were happy tears, Daniel."

"They were?  People cry when they're happy, too?"

"Sometimes, when it's something that fills them with so much joy that they just can't hold it all inside."

"Why are you so happy?"

"I just found out that I'm going to have a baby."

Daniel's eyes widened.  "You are?  When?"

"Oh, not for quite a few months."

"Is it going to be a boy baby or a girl baby?"

"We won't know that until it's born."  Diane brushed a hand through his hair.  "This is our little secret for right now, okay?  I haven't told Paul or anyone else yet."

"I won't tell anybody.  I promise."

There was a funny look on the face of Daniel's foster father the next morning, like he was both happy and scared.  Daniel's foster mother, on the other hand, was just plain happy, singing softly as she fixed breakfast.

Now that spring had officially arrived, Sam talked a lot about the upcoming week off for spring vacation and the weather getting warm enough to go bike-riding.  Daniel was a little nervous about learning how to ride, but he was also excited.  Once he could ride a bike, he could go to Sam's house every weekend that it wasn't raining.

As it turned out, the bike-riding lesson came sooner than expected.  The last Friday in March dawned sunny and warmed up to be a pleasant day.  According to the weather report, the sunny days were expected to continue throughout most of the following week.

Quentin took advantage of the nice weather and tutored Daniel out in the backyard.  The sound of a child crying loudly sent them both hurrying out to the front.  Across the street, a little girl had fallen off her bicycle and apparently scraped her knee.  Her father ran up to her.

"I don't want to learn how to ride a bike!" the girl wailed as her father picked her up and carried her inside their house.

Quentin looked down at his student.  "I hope that doesn't make you nervous about learning how to ride.  Lots of kids fall when they're first learning, but they never quit.  I bet that girl will be right back up on her bike tomorrow."

Daniel looked up at the man he'd come to have implicit trust in.  "Would you teach me how to ride?"

Deeply touched, Quentin replied, "I would love to teach you, Daniel."  He smiled.  "How about tomorrow?"


And so it was that, the next afternoon, Quentin arrived at the Underwood's home.  Kathleen had thought about coming as well, but decided that Daniel would probably prefer as few witnesses as possible in case he fell.

The bicycle was taken out onto the sidewalk, Daniel and Quentin walking down to the end of the block with it.

"When you make it to the other end of the block, don't cross the street," the man said.  "Stop and bring the bike back."

"What if I fall?"

Quentin tousled his hair.  "Then get right back up, and we'll try again."  He studied the boy's face.  "So, you ready to get up on this thing?"

Daniel nodded.  As his teacher held onto the bike firmly, he got on.

"Okay, what I'm going to do is keep hold of the bike as you start pedaling," Quentin told him.  "I'll run right alongside you.  I won't let go until I think you've got it under control.  All right?"  He got another nod from Daniel.  "Okay, here we go.  Start pedaling!"

As the bike started moving forward, Quentin held onto the back, steadying it.  The first few yards were shaky and erratic as Daniel fought to keep the bicycle going straight and feared that he would fall.  But, soon, he began to gain confidence.

"Are you ready for me to let go yet?" Quentin called as he ran beside the bike.

"Not yet!" Daniel cried.

"You can do it, Daniel!  You're doing great!"

Without Daniel's knowledge, he removed his hand from the bicycle.  He kept pace with the boy for a few more feet, then began to slow.

Before Daniel knew it, he was riding alone, the bike under his complete control.  A feeling of triumph and joy filled him, and he kept on pedaling.

Quentin covered the few remaining yards to the Underwood home.  Paul was out front, watching Daniel as the boy kept right on going.

"He's doing well," the man said.

Quentin nodded, not taking his eyes off his student.  Daniel made it all the way to the end of the block without mishap.  Unfortunately, he apparently tried to stop a little too quickly.  He lost his balance and toppled over with the bike onto the grass of the last house's yard.

"Oops," Quentin said.  He smiled.  "I did the same thing the first time I rode a bike."

"Is he all right?" Paul asked.

"I'm sure he's fine."

Sure enough, Daniel got up, turned the bike around and began walking it back up the sidewalk.

Quentin glanced at the boy's foster father.  "I hope you don't mind that Daniel asked me to teach him how to ride."

"No, it's fine.  I know that he has become very fond of you."

"The feeling's mutual."

"Besides, chances are that I'll be teaching Caleb how to ride in another year or so, perhaps Adam and Susy as well, if we're able to keep them that long.  And. . . ."  Paul glanced at Quentin.  "Diane and I haven't told this to anyone but family and a few close friends, but . . . she's expecting.  We found out on Monday."

The announcement caused mixed feelings in the teacher, both happiness for the couple and some jealousy that they were going to get something that he and Kat wanted so desperately but might never have.

"Congratulations," he said.  "Diane must be thrilled."

Paul smiled.  "I don't think I've ever seen her happier.  It makes me feel like a jerk that it took this long for me to agree to have a baby."

Quentin looked at the man.  He had known that, up until recently, Paul Underwood hadn't had much of an interest in children, but he hadn't realized that the guy had been denying his wife the joy of a baby of her own.

Paul noticed the look.  "I know what you're thinking, that I was a real creep, and I guess I was.  I won't make excuses for why I did it.  I honestly didn't want kids of my own.  It took a lot for Diane to even talk me into being a foster parent.  But, well . . . I finally decided that I was ready.  Of course, now, I'm scared half to death at the idea of the whole thing.  It's one thing to bring a child whose several years old into your home, but it's quite another thing to start with a newborn.  I'll probably make every mistake under the sun."

Quentin was silent a moment before saying, "Would you be willing to take a little advice from someone who's never had one of his own but has had lots of experience with other people's kids?"

Paul looked at him.  "Absolutely."

"Out of all the mistakes I've seen fathers make, one of the worst is not showing their children that they love them.  Yes, there's much more to parenting than that, but if you give your kids all the love there is inside you to give and are never afraid or too proud to show them how you feel, chances are good that everything else will work out all right.  It won't always be easy.  There may be times when you'll feel like pulling your hair out.  But, in the end, I think you'll find that it was all worth it."

Just then, Daniel arrived, looking a little shamefaced.

"I fell over," he said.

"Yeah, but that's okay," Quentin told him.  "I did the same thing the first time I rode a bike.  Considering that you didn't get to learn how to ride with training wheels first, I think you're doing wonderfully.  You probably just stopped too suddenly.  Are you ready to go again?"

Daniel hesitated only a moment before nodding.

His second trip down the block ended with him successfully stopping the bike without falling.  He got off and began walking back.  Quentin met him partway.

The teacher helped Daniel as the boy learned how to get on the bike and start pedaling on his own without losing his balance.  Then came turning and maneuvering the bicycle, which was done out in the street as Quentin kept an eye out for traffic.

"So, how would you like to go over to Sam's and show off your new bike-riding skills?" Quentin asked once the boy had mastered all the main points.

Daniel frowned slightly.  "I don't know if I'm good enough yet."

"Oh, I think you are.  Besides, wouldn't you love to go riding with her tomorrow?"

Daniel thought about it and smiled.  "That would be fun."

"Then it's settled," Quentin looked at Paul, "that is if it's all right with your foster dad that I take you over there."

"Sure, that's fine," the man responded with a smile.

Quentin called the Carters first to make sure they were home.  It was Laura who answered.

"Daniel would like to come over and show Sam something, if that will be all right with you guys," the teacher said.

"Um, sure that will be great.  She's in town with her father and Mark right now, but I'm expecting them back at any moment.  In fact, I think I hear them pulling in right now."

"Perfect.  Oh, but don't tell Sam that we're coming.  It's to be a surprise."

"Okay.  Mum's the word.  I'll let the guards at the entrance know you're coming so there are no delays."

Quentin loaded the bike into the trunk of the car, then he and Daniel got underway.

They were around half a block from the Carters' home when the teacher suddenly got an idea.  He pulled over to the curb.

"I've got an idea," he told his student.

A few minutes later, the Carters' doorbell rang.  Jacob answered it, surprised to see Daniel's tutor standing there.

"Quentin?  What brings you here?"

The teacher grinned.  "Is Sam around?"

"Uh, sure."  Jacob called for his daughter, who came running into view.

"Hi, Mister Greer," she greeted.  "What are you doing here?"

"Well, I've got a little surprise for you."

Sam smiled.  "A surprise?"

"Yep.  It's outside.  You have to close your eyes, though."

Getting excited, Sam let the teacher cover her eyes and lead her outside.  When she heard her father make a little exclamation and then laugh, her curiosity about the surprise grew even stronger.

"Ready?" Quentin asked her when they came to a stop.

"Uh huh."

The man pulled his hands away, and there before her, riding around in a circle, was Daniel on a bicycle.

"You're riding!" Sam nearly shrieked.

Daniel came to a stop with a big grin on his face.  "Mister Greer taught me how today."

"Oh, wow!  That's so great!  Now we can go riding together.  I'm going to go get my bike right now!"

Jacob opened the garage door for her and lifted the bicycle off the hooks it had been hanging on.  He got Mark's down as well, figuring that his son would also want to take advantage of the nice weather.

Five minutes later, the two best friends were riding around the quiet streets of the base.  Mark had decided to go riding over to the home of a friend on the base.  The adults all settled into lawn chairs on the front lawn.

"It's hard to believe that it's almost April," Jacob said.  "Spring break will be coming up in just a couple weeks."

Quentin nodded.  "We teachers, unfortunately, won't be getting the entire break off.  There are some meetings scheduled.  But Kathleen and I are planning on going to the coast for a few days.  There's a little Bed & Breakfast in Connecticut that we really like.  How about you?"

"Sadly, I won't be on leave, so we'll be staying at home, unless Laura here decides to go off someplace with the kids and have loads of fun without me."

"Now, would I do something like that?" the woman asked innocently.

Jacob smiled.  "I don't know.  Would you?"

"Well . . . the kids do keep begging us to take them to Disneyland."

"Hey, you go off to Disneyland without me, and I'm going to go AWOL and come join you!"

Everyone laughed.

Jacob turned to the teacher.  "I was planning on unearthing the grill and having a barbeque tomorrow.  Would you and Kathleen like to join us?  We were going to ask the Underwoods as well since Sam would be a very unhappy little girl if Daniel wasn't part of it."

"Sure, that sounds great."

The Greers arrived for the barbeque at a little before noon.  Daniel and his foster family showed up just a few minutes later.  As the three men gathered around the grill and all the kids played in the backyard, the women took care of the rest of the food and got everything set up outside on the folding tables.

"You're looking very pretty today, Diane," Laura commented.  "You look happy."

Diane laughed.  "Do I?  I guess I just can't help it.  I got some wonderful news last week.  I'm going to have a baby."

"Oh, how wonderful!  How does Paul feel about that?"

"It was his idea for us to start trying, although I don't think he was expecting me to get pregnant this quickly."

Diane's smile disappeared as she suddenly thought about the other person at the table.  She turned to Kathleen to see a trace of pain in the woman's eyes.

"Congratulations," the teacher's wife said, putting on a smile.

"Kathleen, I'm so sorry.  I didn't think."

"No, it's okay.  I'm happy for you."  She looked down at the stuff on the table.  "We seem to have forgotten the mustard.  I'll go get it."  She hurried inside.

"Oh, I feel so terrible now," Diane said.  "Here I am, babbling happily about being pregnant and not even thinking about how it must make her feel."

"I'm sure she understands," Laura told her.  "I think I'll go inside and check on her."

Kathleen was standing before the refrigerator, looking inside.  As Laura approached, she saw the woman hastily swipe tears off her face.

"Are you all right?" Laura asked gently.

Kathleen nodded, wiping away a few more tears.  "I'm sorry.  I'm just being silly.  I'll be fine in a few minutes."

Instead of replying, Laura stepped up to her and pulled her into a gentle embrace.  After a moment of surprise, Kathleen accepted the hug and returned it.

After a minute or so, the women drew apart.

"It isn't silly, Kathleen," Laura said.  "If I was you, I know that I'd feel the same way."

Kathleen looked out the kitchen window at the playing children.  "It's just really hard sometimes.  I go to the store, and I see all these pregnant women or women with babies, and it . . . it hurts.  I know it hurts Quentin just as much.  If he'd married someone else, he'd have all those kids I know he wants."

"Hey.  You shouldn't think like that.  It's pretty clear to me that Quentin loves you very much.  I bet if you asked him, he'd say that he'd rather have you than have some other woman and a whole house full of kids."

Kathleen wiped away the remaining wetness on her face.  "I probably look dreadful.  I can't go out there looking like this.  I don't want Quentin to know I've been crying.  He'll want to know why."

"Well, then we'll just have to do something about it."

With the aid of Laura's cosmetics, the powder and lipstick from Kathleen's purse, and a few drops of Visine, all evidence of Kathleen's tears were covered up.  Even so, Diane knew what had been going on in the house and felt very guilty.  Seeing the look on her face, Kathleen gave her a quick hug.

"Don't feel bad," the strawberry-blonde said.  "I really am happy for you.  I know you'll be a wonderful mother.  You already are with Daniel and the other kids."  She looked back down at the table and laughed.  "I go in for the mustard and forget to bring it.  I'll be right back."

Kathleen was just returning with the mustard when Jacob shouted, "Come and get your hamburgers!"  This resulted in a stampede of children to the grill.

Everyone enjoyed the meal.  After they'd all stuffed themselves, the kids started a boisterous game of tag as the adults sat and watched.

The playing had been going on for around fifteen minutes when a grinning Sam came running up to her father, slapped him on the shoulder and shouted, "Tag!  You're it!"

"Hey!  No fair!" Jacob cried.  "You didn't warn me that I'd been drafted into the game."

Laughing, Sam ran off, soon followed by her father, who chased her and the other kids around the yard as they squealed and giggled.  Daniel was the one who got caught.  Now "it", he glanced about, his eyes finally coming to rest on Quentin.

"Uh oh.  Me thinks I'm in trouble," the teacher said.

"Me thinks you are right," agreed his wife.

Sure enough, Daniel ran up to him, tapped him on the arm, and ran off again, giggling out, "You're it!"

"Oh, I am, am I?" Quentin responded.  "Well, not for long!"  He leapt out of the chair and took off after his pupil.

It wasn't long before all of the adults had been tagged, the last one being Diane, who was tagged by a rosy-cheeked Susy.

It was hard to say who were the better players, the adults or the kids, but it was definitely the adults who tired out first.

Quentin, who'd been tagged a second time, had managed to catch Daniel and was carrying the boy upside down as he walked toward his wife where she now sat in one of the lawn chairs.

"Hey, Kat.  Look what I caught," he said, grinning.  "You think it's a keeper or shall I throw it back in?"

Kathleen tilted her head at a sharp angle and looked at Daniel's flushed, laughing face.  "Hmm.  Looks kind of small to me.  I say throw it back in."


The teacher flipped the boy upright and tossed him high into the air, Daniel screaming and laughing at the same time.  He was caught on the way back down and set on his feet.

Quentin leaned down and whispered, "Tag.  You're it," then hurried away to the lawn chairs, which had been declared by the desperate adults as a safe zone.

The remainder of the grown-ups were occupying the other chairs a short while later, soon followed by Susy, who curled up on her foster mother's lap and went to sleep.

Paul patted his face with a handkerchief.  "Whew!  I don't think I've gotten that much exercise in years!"

"Yep.  Kids can be pretty exhausting," Jacob said.

The rest of the children finally ran out of energy.  Not long after that, the Underwoods decided it was time to get the younger kids home, both Adam and Caleb more than ready to join Susy in a nap.  Daniel was told that he could stay longer.

After helping his wife get the three little ones in the car, Paul turned to Jacob.

"Thanks for inviting us," he said.  "I'd forgotten how much fun things like this could be."

"It was our pleasure.  We'll have to do it again sometime."

The Greers stayed another hour, then left for home.  It was around twenty minutes later that the phone rang.  Jacob answered it.  When he finished the call a short while later, there was a slight frown on his face.

"What's wrong?" Laura asked.

"Captain Rosenthal caught the flu.  He was scheduled to fly out in the morning to Edwards.  I've been assigned to replace him."

"But I don't want you to go," Sam said.  "Why can't somebody else go instead?"

"Sammie, it's not up to me.  My superiors decided that I'm the best one to go.  I have to obey orders.  I won't be gone for long."

Obviously upset, Sam turned away and went outside.  Mark, who was also unhappy about his father leaving, went off to his room.

Laura gave a sigh.  This was a fact of life for all military families, but it still wasn't easy, especially for the kids.

"How long will you be gone?" she asked.

"A week, maybe a little less.  I'm sorry, Laura.  It's a surprise to me as well.  I guess we can be happy that I've gone this long without being sent out of town.  I've been lucky.  I usually get a lot more out of town assignments."

Daniel looked at Jacob.  "Where are you going?"

"To an Air Force base in California."

"But you'll be coming back."

Jacob smiled and ruffled the boy's hair.  "Yes, I'll be coming back.  Why don't you go outside and cheer Sam up."

Daniel went out into the backyard.  He saw his best friend sitting on the lawn, plucking out blades of grass and tearing them into pieces.  He sat down beside the girl.  Not knowing what to say, he remained silent.

"I hate it when Daddy has to go away," Sam mumbled.  "He goes away and is gone for days and days, and I miss him a lot."

There was a brief pause, then Daniel said, "But he always comes back."

The quiet comment made Sam looked at him.  His gaze was turned to the ground.  Yes, unlike Daniel's parents, who were gone forever, her father always came back.  But she still hated it.  She wished that her dad never had to go off somewhere.

"Now that I can ride a bike, maybe I can come over more often," Daniel said, hoping to cheer Sam up.  "In two weeks, it'll be Easter vacation.  Then maybe I can come over every day."

Sam nodded.  "And I can ride over to your house, too.  Or we could meet at the park and play in the playground."

The kids talked about what they wanted to do over the vacation, Sam telling her friend about some of the things her family had done during previous vacations.  By the time she and Daniel went back inside, she wasn't feeling quite so bad.

That night, Jacob hugged his kids goodbye, telling them that he'd be leaving before they got up in the morning.

"Are you going to be doing something dangerous?" Sam asked him in her bedroom.

Surprised by the question, Jacob replied, "No, sweetie.  It's nothing dangerous.  I'll be just fine."

Sam threw her arms around her father.  "I don't want you to go away and never come back."

Jacob frowned and looked down at her.  "Sam, what's going on?  You've never talked like that before."

Sam shrugged, not looking at him.

Jacob made a guess.  "Are you thinking about Daniel's parents?"  He got a nod from his daughter.  "Look at me, Sam."

She lifted her eyes to his.

"Sammie, I can't promise you that nothing will ever happen to me, but I can promise that I will always be as careful as I can be."  He gave her a little smile and tweaked her nose.  "I plan on being around at least long enough for you and your brother to make me a grandpa.  So, you stop worrying.  Okay?"


Jacob gave her another long hug.  "I love you, sweetheart."

"I love you, too, Daddy, forever and ever."

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