This story is ideally part three of a outlined 25 part series dubbed so creatively as "The Young Daniel Series." It takes place just over a year after the death of Daniel's parents, in September following his ninth birthday. This originally was designed to come after “Weekend at the Library” but I then realized that this should come first. I didn’t plan on the two stories being so close to each other, but I have other plans for the first year of school for Daniel, and this just didn’t fit into place.
The series is designed to take us through Daniel's life in foster care, from age eight until his emancipation at age sixteen. The series will focus more on Daniel's education and personal development through those years. Each story or set of stories in this series are designed to be individualized vignettes. They blend together in that they frequently refer back to items or people first introduced earlier in the timeline. However, I have started writing the series out of sequence, and so for now new characters or items will be introduced when needed and will be edited back out later as appropriate.
On another note, only about half the stories in this series will be angsty. Some simply describe his life, the people who care for and about him, and a general picture of how he became who he is. I want to point out how he develops some of his skills and talents, and not always is that from angst and tense situations, as much as I would like to write them! While I certainly don’t expect some of the great reviews I’ve been getting for those types of stories, I do feel that they add to the overall “biography.”
Disclaimer: Don't own Daniel as a character, kinda wish I did. Daniel, Claire, and Melbourne Jackson belong to Gekko, RDA, and a few other really rich people.
Title: The Trip to the New York Museum of Art
Series: The Young Daniel Series
Word Count: 3615
Characters: Daniel Jackson, age nine
Categories: angst, hurt/comfort, family (for the series)
The crowd of seventh-graders piled out of the bus in a mass of confusion. Daniel was frequently the last out of a bus. What was the point of jumping out in front of kids bigger than you as they rushed madly out the door? It was a disaster waiting to happen. Because he was so much smaller than the rest of his classmates, being three years their junior, the teachers frequently required him to sit in the very front seat either with her or across the isle way whenever they went on field trips, no matter what school he was currently attending. The teachers also tended to keep a rather close eye on Daniel, as if for some reason he'd be more likely to be kidnapped or disappear. But in the past year that he'd been in the New York public school system, he'd never been in any trouble like that. He wasn't exactly sure what destination for which the field trip was planned. He started the new school just a week ago, and fortunately only two weeks after it had begun for those who didn't transfer as often as Daniel did. But when he got out of the bus, he knew immediately where he was. He remembered clearly being dragged out down those massive stairs that afternoon, always looking behind him as he felt like his arm was torn from his shoulder before being picked up and carried the rest of the way. Daniel hitched his breath as he stopped on the final step of the bus, not ready to disembark. "Come on now, Mr. Jackson. I don't have time for you to dilly-dally!" Mrs. Hernandez cried out as the other four seventh grade teachers were corralling the other seventh graders from the three busses. He resignedly joined the crowd of kids as they entered into the New York Museum of Art.
Their tour guide for the day was a pretty lady, in her mid 20s, most likely her first job right out of college. She was overly enthusiastic and her cheery tone was almost sickening to Daniel, who by the time they made it halfway through the tour was as tense as a knotted rope. He had spent three days in this museum looking around, keeping out of trouble while his parents put together the exhibition. None of the exhibits so far had changed in the past year or so. He was mercifully reprieved when the tour guide circumvented the next set of exhibition halls and led the crowd to the cafeteria two floors below for lunch.
He took a seat at an empty table with his brown sack lunch and pulled everything out of the bag. His new foster mother at least made lunch for him today because of the field trip, though as he had only been with her a week as well she had no idea what he liked. All the food around him was so bland and tasteless he hardly ever wanted to eat anything before him unless he was actually so hungry he couldn't resist the traditional turkey on white bread and potato chips. He efforted to at least take a bite of everything, open it up so it looked like he was engaged in his lunch. That didn't stop Mrs. Hernandez from asking though why most of his lunch was still in front of him as the lunch break neared to an end. "I don't really like turkey, Mrs. Hernandez."
"How can someone not like turkey?" She gasped in mock horror, trying to broach a smile out of the meek child. Daniel just shrugged his shoulders in response, but grabbed the apple from his lunch and bit down into it. Mrs. Hernandez attempted in vain to get more conversation out of her newest charge, but failed miserably in the attempt. As quiet as Daniel usually was, the nervous anxiety being back at the museum was silencing him completely, and no one around him knew why.
The tour began once again, and after only two exhibition halls, the crowd made their way into the Egyptian Hall. It stood there. The museum put it back up after all. It was out of the way, off towards the other end of the L-shaped hallway. Familiar sarcophagi from Daniel's youth greeted him with indifferent stares, but he greeted them back with a surprising smile, as if they were old friends. Daniel looked up at one golden sarcophagus and gently stroked along the blue glaze of the gown the pharaoh wore. "Don't touch that, young man!" Another of the seventh grade teachers pulled him away from the towering personage. Daniel didn't respond, but he inwardly chuckled. He had touched that sarcophagus more than any one else alive. He had unburied it himself after tripping over an exposed edge of it. It was the pride of the exhibit for Daniel when Drs. Jackson set it up a year ago. On the plate, they made sure that the archaeologist responsible for the find was listed as Daniel M. Jackson. It was an early surprise for his birthday, according to his parents. Daniel had turned around and leapt into his father's arms in joy and excitement to see his name in brass next to the massive pharaoh. Daniel managed to get back away from the looming teachers and glanced once more on the plate. His name was still there, and for a moment, he looked back around, expecting to see Melbourne and Claire Jackson right behind him.
He rounded the corner of the exhibit and for the first time he saw the completed stone structure along the far wall. He stopped dead in his tracks and didn't notice the group of students approaching him from behind, the tour guide trying to gather them in the center of the exhibit. She tripped over him as she backed up, knocking the both of them over. He crashed to the floor and his glasses skidded farther than imagined, right into the center of the stone archway in which his parents had died. The tour guide fell to her side and twisted her ankle in the fall. A security guard standing at the far entrance to the exhibit witnessed the entire event and quickly made his way to the tour guide's side to assess any damages while a teacher was simultaneously helping Daniel up off the floor. He was roughly patted down for injuries and the dust was swiped off the front of his shirt and pants by one of the teachers. The guard had called for the assistant curator to help down in the exhibit hall, and Mr. Jenkins arrived promptly just as they were getting the injured tour guide back on her good foot. "What happened?" He cried out as he entered the hall.
"I didn't see the boy, and I fell over on him, sir," the young tour guide said in shame. Daniel turned around, hearing what happened, and began to apologize himself. "I'm really sorry. I shouldn't have stopped in the middle of the isle." Daniel never really looked up, still searching in vain for his glasses on the floor.
Mr. Jenkins noticed the boy at once and recognized him from a photo that hung next to the hall entrance. "Danny Jackson? Is that you?" He knelt down to get a better look at the boy. Daniel's head shot up in shock. He stared in disbelief at Mr. Jenkins, knowing that he recognized him but didn't know him well. He placed the face, but not the name unfortunately. He had just begun to learn some of the museum staff members when his parent's accident had occurred, but he was sure that Mr. Jenkins had put together at least part of the exhibition. "Yes, sir." Daniel stated demurely, still distracted to find his glasses. Mr. Jenkins ruffled Daniel's hair and spoke over him to the teacher. "Is everything okay in here? Anyone else injured?" The teacher shook her head. "The curator will want to hear what happened himself, so I need Danny here and someone to stay with him until the curator arrives. There's another tour guide arriving as we speak, and he will lead the rest of the group on with the tour.
"Um, let me get Mr. Jackson's teacher for a moment." She held up her finger and signaled Mr. Jenkins to wait while she quickly conferenced with the other teachers. They quickly agreed to continue on, as the other students were getting restless and wanted to touch things. Mrs. Hernandez approached Mr. Jenkins and agreed to wait with Daniel for the curator. The hall emptied out quickly and the two were left in silence.
"Daniel, weren't you wearing glasses earlier?" Mrs. Hernandez asked as she herself inspected the boy for damage from the collision. Daniel nodded. "I haven't found them yet." Not that he could have seen how far they had skidded anyways. Mrs. Hernandez started to look around and as she inched closer to the stone archway, she spotted them. "Don't go in there!" Daniel shouted when he saw Mrs. Hernandez enter the stone archway. He tensed up and his breathing quickened, expecting the archway to crush his teacher as it had his parents. But Mrs. Hernandez shook off the warning. "Its fine, Daniel. Nothing to be afraid of!" She smiled back at him, showing that she had indeed his glasses. She handed them back to him, but he just stared at the proffered hand. He immediately flashed back to the day of the accident, the force of the vision made him lose his balance and stutter back before fainting.
"Daniel? Come on, Daniel?" He slowly came back into full consciousness, though he had only been out cold for a minute or two. Mrs. Hernandez got him up and sat him down on a nearby bench as he shook off the blackness. Mrs. Hernandez was stroking his hair out of his face when Dr. Jacobi walked in the exhibit. Daniel's face immediately lit up and went running to him. "Chris!" Daniel nearly leapt into the man's arms as he warmly returned the embrace. Daniel didn't immediately let go, his head tucked into the crook of Chris's neck. Chris also noticed a small dampness on his shoulder. As he pulled Daniel out of the embrace, but not out of his hold, Daniel began talking. To Mrs. Hernandez's surprise, Daniel actually started speaking more than one sentence at a time. But she had no idea what he was saying, as it wasn't in English. This didn't faze Chris Jacobi though, as he listened with an excited smile as Daniel just exploded with words.
"Chris! I can't believe its you! I haven't seen anyone in over a year! I've missed everyone so much! I'm sorry I didn't get to say goodbye to you at the funeral! Are you the curator here now? Are you staying in New York for a while? Can I come visit you?" Daniel didn't even wait for any answers as he released a year's worth of chatter in a matter of minutes. He wore himself out though quickly, and reached back for a stronger hug from Chris Jacobi.
Jacobi sat Daniel down on the edge of an glass exhibition, knowing full well it could handle the weight of just about any child in Daniel's class, let alone one three years younger. He looked into Daniel's face, now splotchy red from the tears and the rubbing against his rough shirt and smiled. "Daniel, what are you doing here in New York? I thought they would have shipped you back to Egypt." Jacobi finally had the chance to ask a few questions of his own. Daniel started off again to answer.
"They wouldn't let me go back to Tariq. They said that I belong to the state now because Nick didn't want me."
A stern "AHEM!" from Mrs. Hernandez stopped the beginning of the reunion. "Excuse me, sir. But I have no idea what is going on. I am responsible for this boy. I would appreciate that any communication you have be conducted in English."
"Of course, ma'am. I wasn't aware Daniel spoke enough English for our conversation. But of course," and he turned to Daniel and spoke in Arabic once more, "you were always great with languages, weren't you?" He smiled again, and Daniel giggled in excitement. His smile receded when he saw Mrs. Hernandez's angry face though.
"Mrs. Hernandez, this is Dr. Christopher Jacobi. He worked with my parents for many years."
"Indeed, I watched this young guy grow all up and start digging like professionals!" He gleamed a huge smile. "I'm the curator for this exhibit, ma'am. When Mr. Jenkins realized you had young Mr. Jackson, he knew I'd want to see him."
"Can you explain to me what the heck is going on? How do you know this boy, exactly? And what language were the two of you speaking?"
"Did you know, ma'am, that this is the Jackson Memorial Egyptian Exhibition Hall?" With a confused look on her face and a quick glance towards Daniel, he realized she knew nothing of Daniel's past. "Daniel here is the son of Drs. Melbourne and Claire Jackson. This was their final exhibit before an unfortunate accident occurring right over there took them from us prematurely." He pointed towards the stone archway. He motioned for the teacher to follow him towards the archway, having dropped Daniel from the table and guiding him towards the door. He pointed towards a large sepia photo of Daniel with his parents on the dig outside of Cairo, Egypt. The three of them stared for a moment at the joyous picture of a hysterically laughing little seven-year-old twisting in the joint hugs of both of his parents. Jacobi pulled Daniel up on his hips to get a better look, but also to help him hide the tears that inevitably would fall for Daniel. “I took that photo two years ago in Cairo while we were digging up all of these artifacts in this very hall.”
The photo explained it all. It took a few moments for all the information to sink into Mrs. Hernandez, and during her silence staring at the photo, Chris released Daniel from his hold, whispering in his ear to look around and remember the artifacts while he talked to Mrs. Hernandez alone for a moment. Daniel was hesitant to leave Chris’s loving embrace, but all the treasures of the room called to him, each one a vibrant and exciting memory of the times he spent with his parents.
Mrs. Hernandez turned to look at the exhibit hall with a new vantage point; suddenly everything in the room had a totally different meaning. She noticed Daniel caressing the large sarcophagus at the other end of the exhibit hall and called for him to stop touching the artifacts. Jacobi interrupted her, placing his hand on her arm. “He can touch anything he wants, Mrs. Hernandez. He’s touched all these artifacts before, helped us put together this exhibit, and he knows how to treat an artifact with the respect it deserves, unlike other nine-year-olds.” He smiled at the complement he was able to give Daniel. Jacobi escorted Mrs. Hernandez to the sarcophagus, chatting quietly with her about memories at the dig site. As they approached, he directed her attention to the plaque on the right of the monumental artifact. She gasped as she read Daniel’s name on the plaque as the archaeologist responsible for the recovery. “You know, he tripped over the cane the pharaoh is holding in his left hand there. We think a sandstorm encroached further into the pyramid than we originally thought as it was completely buried otherwise. Daniel was with us for four days straight while we uncovered the sarcophagus from its burial site. We couldn’t get him to bed for all the riches in Egypt!” Jacobi turned to find Daniel staring into a glass case full of jewelry and smiled at the memory, caught in melancholy for the poor boy. “He should have gone back to Egypt. He would have been with family there.” That last statement wasn’t really directed towards Mrs. Hernandez, just a thought Dr. Chris Jacobi let escape verbally. But Mrs. Hernandez got the gist. “How’s he doing, really, Mrs. Hernandez?”
“I’m afraid, sir, I’ve only known him a week. He’s so quiet; I don’t think anyone really knows him. He is smart though, he’s proven repeatedly he belongs in his advanced classes.” Mrs. Hernandez was saddened that she could give no better an answer.
“We could never get him to quiet down in Egypt. He spoke a mile a minute; never let anyone else get in a word during a conversation. We couldn’t help but let him continue talking; our attention was always dedicated to him during social hours.” Jacobi smiled again with another memory around a campfire, a younger Daniel running around from worker to worker, chatting ceaselessly in Arabic about their days and what he discovered and what he read about in his studies that day. Only when he was near exhaustion would he settle down in his mother’s arms while she told him more stories about the ancient gods and he fell happily asleep. He also knew from Daniel’s changes the boy was probably depressed. He just couldn’t imagine another reason, though he certainly could understand why he would be; witnessing the deaths of one’s parents, forced to live in a strange country with strangers who had no idea about from where he came and probably didn’t care.
But maybe Daniel wasn’t depressed; Jacobi saw the same boy when he first entered the exhibit hall. Or maybe he this was the first time that boy had re-emerged in over a year.
Jacobi requested a few minutes with Daniel before they had to leave. Their field trip was scheduled to end in ten minutes, and the busses might just pull away without them if they were not outside and ready to go by then. It was hard to believe that they had spent the rest of the afternoon in that one exhibit, almost three hours. Daniel needed that time though, the chance to acclimate that exhibition hall with something other than just his parent’s death. He had been terrified to enter it, to see the place his parents died. But with Chris Jacobi, he was able to feel a little bit like he did in Egypt, and now the exhibition was okay. Daniel knew he could come back here.
“Daniel? The busses are about to leave. Dr. Jacobi wants a word with you before we head out!” Mrs. Hernandez agreed to Chris’s request. Daniel ran to Chris, leaping again into his arms, tears welling up in his eyes. Daniel wasn’t ready to leave this place.
“Hey there!” Chris oomphed as he nearly fell back from the force of Daniel’s leap. He sat down on the floor, Daniel in his lap, and they quietly talked for just a moment. Jacobi asked if everything was really okay here, if Daniel was being treated well. Daniel replied that he was okay, but he wanted to go back to Egypt. He knew he couldn’t; his caseworker and the family court judge had been clear on that issue. Jacobi handed him his business card, hastily writing down his personal address and phone number. “If you need anything, you call me, okay? I’m only in Egypt every couple of months, but if you need me and I’m out of the country, Mr. Jenkins will find a way of contacting me. You understand?” Daniel nodded, taking the card reverently.
Mrs. Hernandez cleared her throat, indicating that they needed to leave quickly. She had no idea if they were close to completing their conversation, as they had once again reverted to Arabic for a moment of privacy. Jacobi, with Daniel still in his embrace, stood up and the two walked through the museum to the front foyer, where through the glass doors the children were filling the busses. Chris Jacobi tightened his embrace with Daniel for one last moment before releasing him. As he knelt on his knees, he kissed Daniel on his forehead. “Aasalaamu Aleikum, Daniel.”
“Wa-Aleikum Aassalaam Chris.” Daniel was tearing up with the departure, but for the first time there was hope he might get some of his old life back. He still had Chris, and that was a lot more than he’s had in a long while.
Mrs. Hernandez escorted Daniel out to the bus, this time pointing him to sit with her in the front seat. As they departed and the kids in the back of the bus became more rowdy, she took the chance for privacy and began to ask him questions about Egypt and his parents. Daniel though was quickly closing himself up. He needed desperately to hold on to the precious few hours he was just given, and after just three or four questions Daniel stopped responding at all to Mrs. Hernandez. Tears fell freely down his cheeks as he stared out at the passing city landscape. Mrs. Hernandez knew then she had lost the fight. She felt for the boy; she’d never received a three hour introduction to a foster child before, and her heart went out to him. She sighed as she gave up the questions, and she hated herself when she realized that he’s be out of her classroom before she’d be able to get him to trust her. It was then that she gave up on Daniel, and allowed the boy to remain silent and closed up until two months later when he was moved to another school.
Note: I chose the proper greeting in Arabic rather than the normal farewell greeting because of its implications. Aasalaamu Aleikum and Wa-Aleikum Aassalaam means "Peace be unto you" and "and unto you Peace." To me these phrases are much more powerful than the general ma'a salaama that is said as good bye.