Disclaimer: I own nothing that you recognize from either Stargate: SG1 or Highlander. No money is being made with this story.
The Surgeon's Dilemma
„Whatever you need: Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief… I've got the paperwork to cover it all."
It was a slow day, Dr. McPherson mused, as he dabbed some antiseptic on a girl's wound. Skinned knees were hardly a reason to come to a hospital, after all, no matter how much they hurt. Still, it was better that 'those days', the days when lots of people would come in with open fractures or head wounds or stab wounds or similarly unhealthy holes in their bodies.
Putting a bandage over his patient's knee, he assured her father that there were no torn ligaments and no damaged menisci and no, her leg would not fall of, and sent them on their way.
He took off his latex gloves and threw them away before opening the door to see if anyone had come while he had tended to, he snorted, a girl with a skinned knee.
Before he could leave the examination room, a visibly agitated nurse nearly collided with the door post. Steadying her, he took a breath to ask her what had happened, but she was already talking.
"Dr. McPherson, the helicopter just called ahead, they have a boy who was shot into the chest and they think that he will need surgery and they will be here soon and Dr. Bates is sick and we're not even a military hospital and – "
"Calm down." Dr. McPherson cut her off. "What do we know?"
Taking a deep breath, she handed him her notes.
"Boy, ten years old, shot himself with his father's service weapon. Bullet penetrated in the upper left quadrant of the chest. It missed the heart and aorta, but pierced the lung and shattered the scapula and a rib. He is bleeding heavily and has a one-sided haemopneumothorax. He is intubated and sedated and they made a pleural drainage but it's only an interim solution. They will be here in approximately ten to fifteen minutes."
"Alright. Spread the word, so we are ready to immediately do a CT scan and then get him into the operating theatre. Make sure that we have an anaesthesiologist ready – I don't know who is in today – and at least two surgical nurses present. Have them get ready stat."
Grateful for something to do within her capability, the nurse hurried away.
Dr. McPherson sighed as he looked over the details of the drugs given to the boy. The senior surgeon was not present today, and he himself shouldn't actually be capable of such a complicated surgery. Of course he could do it, but he really hadn't wanted to show his true capabilities so soon.
The few minutes until the helicopter arrived were barely enough to get into scrubs and do a proper disinfection, and then he got the results from the CT scan and knew that while he had a good chance of saving the boy's life, he would have to use all of his considerable knowledge and experience to do so.
For a moment he debated letting the boy die 'in tabula' – during the surgery – to protect his identity, but he was loath to do so. When the child was wheeled inside, the decision was out of his hands: barely noticeable, a small, nearly unnoticeable buzz started in the back of the surgeons head, and he inwardly groaned.
Well, so much for that idea. He really didn't want the problems that a ten year old immortal in the hospital morgue would inevitably create.
As the surgeon placed the last stitch and cut the ends of the suture his mind turned to the dilemma before him.
One possibility was to simply do nothing. The boy would survive, barring serious complications, and he would be hailed as a prodigy in his field. While he usually wouldn't mind this, the story of a surgeon who completed his education only half a year before saving a life could easily end up in the newspaper and would most certainly be published in medical journals – with his picture – and he didn't want that. Security through obscurity, and all that.
Another possibility was to fake either his own or the boy's death to escape awkward questions. Faking his own death would be easy; it was, after all, a well practised routine. Still, in this case it would likely gain him even more attention.
But letting the child 'die' would be very complicated, for not only would he have to get him out of the hospital without really killing him, but he would also have to make that no one noticed anything irregular. That meant carefully manipulating his patient's file while still seemingly going through the proper channels – and avoiding an autopsy.
He didn't even contemplate killing the boy for real – that would be simply a logistic nightmare.
And whatever he did would have to be organized before tomorrow morning, because that was about the time it would take to get an experienced specialist here, should one be required.
There wasn't really an easy way out, he decided as he left the operating theatre and accompanied his patient and the nurses to the ICU. He needed information, and fast. Whatever course of action he eventually decided on would be so much easier to pull off if he could rely on someone who was close to the situation, ideally the boy's parents.
Speaking of which – they were in the waiting room and most likely frantic.
The first impression the pair made was one of weariness.
The mother was sitting in the far corner of the room, ignoring the open magazine in her lap. Her beautiful costume was rumpled and what little of her face was visible behind the dishevelled blonde hair and the fists massaging her eyes was red and tearstained. She didn't even notice his quiet entrance.
The father was slowly pacing through the room with slumped shoulders. Though his dress uniform had, at one point, been neatly pressed and tidy, there now were wrinkles and bloodstains on his knees and cuffs, showing that he had kneeled at his son's side and tried to stop the bleeding.
When he turned around to pace into the other direction, Dr. McPherson could see that he hadn't cried, instead his face was like stone, the eyes empty and cold. Obviously the man was completely disconnected from the rest of the world.
The surgeon could pinpoint the exact moment he was seen.
The man flinched violently and his eyes lit up with both desperate hope and terrible fear. Alerted by the sudden stop of her husband's pacing, the woman dropped her hands and looked up, revealing her completely ruined make-up and the same desperation. Upon seeing the unmoving form by the door, she stood up rapidly. The magazine fell to the floor unnoticed as she ran the few steps necessary to cross the room.
Though she opened her mouth, she made no sound, so the surgeon decided not to wait for her to collect herself and find her words.
"I am Dr. McPherson, the physician who operated your son. Considering the circumstances, I have good news. Your son made it through surgery as well as could be expected and is now in intensive care. However, I have to emphasise that his condition is still highly dangerous and it is not yet possible to give a conclusive prognosis. I'm afraid you may not enter the ICU at this time, but if you want to, you may spend some time in the observation room; there is a window so that you can see your son. If you have any questions…"
He trailed off, giving the couple the opportunity to say something. They had obviously not noticed that he didn't know their names.
It was late in the evening, and Methos was … 'researching'. He knew that he had only a few hours to come up with and implement a plan, and he didn't even have the beginnings of one. So he did what he did best: searching for information, looking at it from all possible angles and a few impossible ones, and figuring out how to work it to his advantage. He had a lot of practise, after all.
It turned out to be harder than he expected.
The inconsistencies started when he studied the boy's – Charlie O'Neill – medical file. The broken left arm at the age of seven was nothing unexpected or noteworthy, but the note that it had healed well and that Charlie could write as well as before unsettled Methos.
"- shot himself with his father's service weapon. Bullet penetrated in the upper left quadrant of the chest. It missed the heart and aorta, but pierced the lung and shattered the scapula and a rib…"
During surgery, Methos had found the nurse's information to be correct. He knew the exact path that the bullet had taken – and it had penetrated high, nearly sagittally, slightly from right to left, up to down. Considering this, he had assumed that the boy had played with the gun. The high entrance point and downward path suggested that he had been holding it on the level of his eyes, looking into the barrel, when his grip on it slipped and, in trying to grasp it better, had triggered the weapon.
But that only worked if the boy was right handed. And his medical file clearly stated that he was not. He could not have held the weapon himself.
Having concluded that, he realised that the skin had not been burned, which should have happened if the gun was only about thirty centimetres from his chest.
Now faced with the possibility of attempted murder, Methos looked for motives. Considering that the improbability of someone having a murderous grudge against a ten year old, he investigated the parents.
Sara O'Neill was a completely ordinary military wife.
But hacking into Colonel Jonathan O'Neill's service file, Methos found a lot of holes that strongly reeked of special operations, and that meant that he most likely had an abundance of enemies.
Any other man might have stopped researching at that point. After all, it was not important what pissed of dude had decided to get even for whatever highly classified reason.
But Methos thought that pretty unlikely. The murder was concealed as an accident, and that opened a whole new can of worms, because it meant that the colonel had an enemy that was underhanded enough that they wanted him to think that his own carelessness had killed his son.
And whatever plan Methos came up with could not be made without knowledge of a player that dangerous.
So he continued hacking. And hit pay dirt.
Leaning back, Methos considered the situation. He had just finished collecting all the information he deemed necessary. The fact that he was dealing with an attempted murder had made him wary, but he had not expected to stumble into a bloody conspiracy.
There, on the screen of his laptop was a highly classified, very off-the-record documentation of 'Project Blue Book', a top-secret project that needed an experienced officer to lead a hypothetical mission through an unknown artefact.
The 'unknown artefact' was, of course, interesting, because everything that Methos had not seen yet was interesting, but at the moment, it was unimportant.
Because there was a list of possible candidates, and Colonel O'Neill was, according to the comment next to his name, 'perfect, if not for his family'.
And just like that, the pieces fit together and formed a plan.
Because Methos would not let a child become immortal.
Because he wanted to know how an ancient Egyptian artefact could work with electricity.
Because Unknown Things were Dangerous Things.
And because a man like O'Neill would do anything to protect his son.
"Hello, this is Major Phillips. I apologize for bothering you so early in the morning, but I need to talk to Colonel O'Neill."
"I'll give the phone to him. One moment."
"A Major Phillips for you. I'll let you have some privacy?"
"This is Dr. McPherson. There is something you need to know regarding your son situation. Meet me as soon as possible at…"