For the Children
A Stargate Atlantis story by Deana Lisi
Disclaimer: I don't own any SGA characters. (boo hoo)

Sequel to the Season 1 episode, 'Childhood's End'. For those who don't remember, it was the ep where they found a planet with no one over age 24. On the eve of their 25th birthday, they had to kill themselves, twistedly thinking that the wraith will leave them alone. Keras, the current 'leader', was supposed to kill himself that night. It turned out the wraith don't come because there's a shield around the village that protects them. The suicides were actually initiated in order to control the population, so that no one goes outside the shield.

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"Hey, Carson?"

The CMO of Atlantis looked up from his microscope, to see John Sheppard walk into the infirmary. "Aye? What injury have ya done yerself this time?"

John put on an innocent look. "Who me? Nothing!"

"Good," Carson said, not disguising his relief. "What can I do fer ya, then?"

John seemed to hesitate. "Uh…you feel like going on a little trip?"

Carson blinked. "Trip? Off-world?"

John nodded. "Yeah. I know you don't enjoy it, but remember the planet we went to last week with all the kids? They just contacted us. Looks like we gave some of them a bug and they don't know how to treat it."

Those words created a fascinating change in the doctor. He immediately stood and shrugged off his lab coat. "When do we leave?"

John smiled. Good ol' Carson. "As soon as you're ready."

"Symptoms?"

"Sounds like chickenpox to me," John told him. "They're covered in spots and have fevers, that sort of thing."

"Poor buggers," Carson said, crossing to a large cabinet. He started muttering to himself as he took out various medicines.

"I'll meet you in the Jumper Bay," John said.

Carson nodded, quickly placing the drug bottles in a large case.

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When Carson reached the Jumper Bay, he spotted one of the ships with its door wide open. Motioning to the nurse who'd helped him carry his supplies, he quickly headed over to it.

John, apparently spotting them, came out of the ship and jogged over to help. He took the packs from the nurse.

"Thanks, Angela," Carson said to her.

"Anytime, doctor," she said with a smile, blushing as she turned and left the bay.

Noticing the blush, John's eyebrows shot up and he watched her go. As he expected, she looked back at them over her shoulder. When she saw that she was caught, she turned and all but fled.

John looked at Carson, smirking. "Humm?" he said.

Carson rolled his eyes. "I'm sure it's just a crush."

John chuckled, carrying the packs into the ship.

Minutes later, they were ready, and John fired up the Jumper, lowering it into the Gate Room.

Carson swallowed nervously as they descended. I'm doin' this for kids…for kids…stop being a baby, they need help…kids…

"Doc?"

Carson jumped, startled. He'd been staring at the Gate as it dialed. He didn't like the vertigo that going through it caused him. No one else complained of ill effects, so he'd never said anything, preferring to simply stay in Atlantis whenever possible.

Of course, considering that he'd already been through it more times than he'd ever planned to, it seemed that he'd better get used to the darn thing, for his own good.

"Ready?" John asked.

Carson half nodded, half shook his head.

John chuckled, as the wormhole came to life.

1.4 seconds later, they emerged into the open sky of planet M7G-677.

Carson, having reflexively closed his eyes, made the mistake of opening them immediately. The view out the windshield made the vertigo even worse, and he might've fallen out of his chair if not for the seatbelts.

"See, doc, that wasn't so bad," said John, looking at him. He frowned at the sight of his friend's pale face. "Or was it?"

Carson repeatedly blinked his eyes. "Now ya know why I can't stand the bloody thing! It makes m'head spin!"

John made a face. "That's weird."

Carson nodded, instantly regretting it. "Aye."

"Sorry doc—"

"Don't apologize," Carson said, his vision righting itself. "It's for the children."

John nodded, his building respect for Carson Beckett going up a notch.

Carson watched the scenery, starting to enjoy himself. All too soon, the Jumper started to land...in the middle of nowhere. "Why're we stoppin' here?" he asked.

"There's a shield that protects them from the wraith," John told him. "It's what made the Jumper crash when we came here that day."

Carson had forgotten that part. "Oh."

"Yup," said John, as they touched down. "We walk from here."

Carson stood and went to the back of the Jumper, picking up his packs. John joined him, and they left the ship.

The temperature was pleasant, but the packs were heavy, so Carson hoped that the walk wouldn't be too long. About ten minutes later, someone running could be heard in the woods before them.

Carson stopped. "Y'hear that?"

John nodded. "Kids."

Suddenly, a little girl came flying from around a tree. She was crying.

John knelt, to make it easier to talk to her, and was shocked when she threw her arms around him at full speed, nearly knocking him to the ground.

"Where's Rodney!" she cried.

Carson almost did a double-take. "Rodney?"

The little girl sniffed, pulling back and looking up. "Rodney…the mean one who yelled at us."

Carson looked at John.

"Well…" John said, awkwardly patting her back as she sniffled. "Rodney isn't here, he's at home."

"Can he come?" she asked, wiping her nose on her sleeve.

"Uh," John answered. He tried to change the subject. "Where's your friend?" he asked, remembering a certain little boy that was always seen with her.

The girl started to cry again. "My brother. He's sick. We want Rodney."

John looked up at Carson, pleading for help in dealing with the child.

Carson unslung the packs from his shoulders, kneeling beside her. "There now, lassie, I'm a doctor, and have come ta help. What's yer name?"

"Cleya."

"Ah, a bonnie name." He smiled. "How old are ya?"

"S-seven," she said, scrubbing the tears from her face.

"Seven! Well, growin' inta a fine young lady, ya are." He held out his hand. "Come with us, we'll take ya home an' see ta yer brother."

The little girl took his hand, and Carson's smile faded. He pulled her arm closer and studied it.

John immediately saw what he was looking at.

A cluster of little red dots.

"How long have ya had these, Cleya?" Carson asked, placing a hand on her forehead.

She sniffed. "Dunno. Today. They're all over Casta! Can you get them off us? Please?"

"Of course I will, love, but it might take a little time." He watched as she yawned. "Sleepy, are ya?"

She nodded, rubbing her eyes.

Carson reached out and lifted her, standing.

Cleya didn't protest in the least, laying her head on his shoulder and closing her eyes. "Can Rodney come?" she mumbled.

"Well find out fer ya, lass," Carson said, awkwardly bending to grab his packs, intending to sling them both over his other shoulder.

John handed him one, but kept the other.

"Thanks," Carson said, amazed at the Major's strength as he carried not only a pack on his back and one on each shoulder, but now one of Carson's as well.

They walked for another twenty minutes or so before they came upon more children and young adults. They were all very glad to see the Atlantis men, and led them the rest of the way.

Children played outside the huts, and many of them stopped at the sight of John and Carson. Some of them happily rushed over.

"Where is Keras?" John asked them. He had a feeling of what the answer was.

"He's sick," a few of the kids said.

"Can you take us to him?" John asked.

The crowd of kids started to herd them in the right direction, but Carson stopped.

"I think someone should show me where Cleya lives first," he said, noting that the girl had fallen asleep on his shoulder. "I'll catch up ta ya," he told John.

Sheppard nodded, and they were both taken in different directions.

John was led into a hut, where he heard the sound of coughing. Laying on a pile of furs was the young man, and he looked up as they entered.

"John," Keras said. He smiled. "Thank you for returning. I did not know what else to do, we know of no one else who can help us."

John waved his hand in an 'anytime' gesture. "No problem, we were happy to come back." He saw Keras' arm still in its sling, from the arrow wound he'd received that day. "How's the arm?"

"Mending," Keras said. He pulled up his sleeves. "Though it is now covered in spots."

John nodded at the sight. "It's what we call 'chickenpox'. On my planet, every child caught it, before a vaccine was developed."

Keras made a face. "I'm not a child."

John smiled. "True. Adults can get it too. It's just that most people catch it by age 12. Speaking of ages, how does it feel to be 25?"

Keras smiled. "Like nothing no one else in my village can imagine."

"Literally," said John. "Has everyone accepted the fact that no one has to kill themselves at age 24 anymore?"

"I hope so," Keras said. "I plan to speak privately to everyone who is near that age, to assure them that there is no longer any reason for such action."

John nodded. "Good."

Keras coughed again, shifting miserably.

"Take it easy," John said. "I'll go see what's keeping the doc."

Keras nodded, and John left the hut.

Not spotting Carson anywhere, John walked around looking for him, before finally seeing him coming out of a hut ahead of him.

The doctor saw him, and made his way over. "Poor little things. They're still callin' for Rodney." He blinked. "How strange."

John chuckled. "Those two wouldn't leave him alone almost the whole time we were here, despite how much he yelled at them. It was funny."

Carson chuckled.

Before the doctor began his examinations, he had John separate all the infants and pregnant young women away from any sick people, less the illness cause them serious danger. Carson examined them first, giving them all the chickenpox vaccine, inwardly hoping that it wasn't already too late.

Night had long-since fallen by the time they'd finished examining the entire village, and John finally had a moment to run an errand.

"What?!" Rodney said, through the Jumper radio. "They're asking for me? Are you kidding?"

John shook his head. "Nope. They said, and I quote, 'we want Rodney!'"

Silence.

"Come on, McKay, aren't you interested in comforting sick little children who looooove you?" He deliberately drew out the word, inwardly getting a laugh at McKay's expense.

"No!" Rodney said. "I'm not interested in anything to do with someone's who's sick!"

John rolled his eyes. "You had chickenpox, right?"

"Of course."

"Then you have nothing to worry about!"

Rodney grumbled.

"I'll meet you at the Gate in twenty minutes," John said.

"Oh come on, at least let me sleep in my comfortable bed tonight," said Rodney. "I have some stuff to do anyway…I'll come in the morning."

"Promise?"

"Promise?! I think you've been hanging around those rugrats for too long, Sheppard."

John chuckled. "I'll be at the Gate at 0900; you better be there. Oh, and bring chocolate."

"Chocolate?!"

"Yup, they asked for that too. Don't forget it."

"Yeah yeah yeah," Rodney sighed, and signed off.

TBC