Spoilers: For Rising only.
Summary: Elizabeth Weir considers her choices for the expedition - the next name on her list is Dr. William Kavanagh. Sometimes second best is all you get. Response to “The Real Reason” challenge on LJ.
A/N: This is an answer to sgatlantislight's "The Real Reason [Name of Character] Came to Atlantis" challenge. I picked Kavanagh because of my irrational interest with this much despised character. Betaed by fififolle and Fanwoman.
Elizabeth Weir looks at his file and considers the man in front of her. On paper, he is brilliant, brimming with talent that the SGC has barely even begun to explore.
“So, what's this all about?” he asks impatiently as he enters.
“It's nice to meet you,” she chimes diplomatically, as she extends her hand toward him. His eyes shift down, the pleasantry seemingly unexpected to him, and the resulting handshake is extraordinarily brisk.
She can tell from his impertinence that he knows she has her doubts, and she'd expect nothing less of him in this situation than to question her motivations.
“Dr. Longe persuaded me it was in my best interest to attend this interview.” He says it as if he wants nothing more than to be told he's wasted his time and should get lost. Perhaps he's come to expect that sort of treatment, she can't really tell, though part of her says it's no excuse for his rudeness.
“I can't vouch for the veracity of that statement. I don't know exactly what Dr. Longe thought you'd get out of this, but I certainly hope you'll consider the unique opportunity I have to present to you. I’d like to think anyone would jump at the chance to join my expedition, but then I am biased.”
That gets his attention; he takes a seat quietly and waits for her to continue, looking a little more nervous now. 'You haven't lost your touch after all,' she thinks, and she smiles at the fact she's managed to catch his curiosity within a minute of him entering the room.
Even with his lack of faith in this opportunity – it took her days to get him to agree to a meeting - he bothered to come dressed pristinely, as one would expect for an important interview. His long hair is tied back neatly, and unlike some of the scientists she's already interviewed, he's come in a suit. He's all business, handshake included, leading her to conclude that this matters to him - he needs the money, and his career is going nowhere fast.
If she was considering him for anything other than Atlantis, she'd expect him to be ten years younger. But no, as good as he is intellectually, this man has been held back by himself. Based on her review of his files, his own actions have stunted his career, and that is why she has him on her list. The SGC just tolerates him for his work, routinely handing him back over to Area 51 whenever they can get away with it. Contract after contract, he has been shunted between the two facilities. While neither particularly wants him, both have found him useful enough up to now. Given this scientist’s lack of popularity, Lt. Col. Frank Harper - the officer in charge of the SGC’s civilian members - thought a one-way trip to another galaxy, along with forty-four other brilliant misfits, was a perfect solution to their problem personnel. It's the other option that the SGC has been looking for, and it suits her well, given these candidates already have security clearance and, hopefully, suitably open minds for her expedition.
“So, doctor, tell me a bit about yourself. What are your hopes and dreams, your career goals?”
“Like any scientist, I want to make a contribution to the scientific advancement of humankind.”
He leaves it at that, choosing only to answer the latter half of her question, but she notes he says humankind instead of the typical response of mankind. He's already thinking in intergalactic - not to mention politically correct – terms. The existence of a plethora of other worlds is something she's still coming to terms with, and having staff that thinks it a simple fact is useful. The less time taken up by getting their heads round the concept, the better, and all of these names on her list get an automatic tick in that box. That's at least one thing, other than his engineering brilliance, working in his favor.
“How do you feel about travel to another world?”
She feels a little sneaky to pose it that way, knowing full well it's more complicated than any regular SGC missions.
“Whatever's necessary works for me. It doesn't make much difference where the research is taking place, as long as the facilities, and staff, are up to standard.”
“And, how do you feel about travel to another galaxy? A potentially one way journey.”
For that one, he pauses, made speechless for about ten seconds.
“I may be open to that,” he says quickly, forcing the words out in a stilted fashion, like he's not sure why he's saying them but feels he must. She understands the feeling, of being overwhelmed at the prospect but of not wanting to miss out.
If they ever come back from where they are going, each one of them will have a boost to their career, a likely shining recommendation from the IOA for the undisclosed work they'll have done. She has a speech planned for when they leave, a pep talk if you will, where she’ll tell them they are the best and brightest. But the real reason this man is going to accept her offer is because he's never going to get over his childhood and his military family that spurns his interest in science. His background check shows he hasn't had contact with most of his family since he started working in Cheyenne Mountain seven years ago.
By all accounts, he resents authority – his psychological profile reveals his father is the epitome of authority in his world, a decorated war hero in charge of the same academy she notes he was forced to attend until he was eighteen. But he resents it only as much as he bows down to it. He wants to be in control, and at this rate, with his poor interpersonal skills, he seems to have come to recognize he's never going to be on top. Instead, his actions show he turns the tables on anyone who rejects the established order; the existing regulations are his tools to flex his limited power. In one of the worst uses of his enquiring mind, he nitpicks over not only every detail of his experiments but that of others and their behaviour, too. The collection of reports he has submitted is six times larger than any she's seen, with this one man filing more complaints on average than a whole department at Area 51 put together. Kavanagh is certainly a stickler for the rules; it could be a blessing or a curse on whatever department he works in.
According to his psych review, he’s a loose cannon, but he’s not quite bad enough to fail the evaluation, just set off a few warning bells. He's one to watch out for, to keep close to her if it's going to be possible. But like an angry dog on a leash, she can't be sure he won't come right back to bite her. It's a calculated risk she's going to take because the best simply aren't available to her, and second best on personality is what she considers a manageable fault considering she's good at handling people. She hopes he won't test her limits, but she's prepared for that eventuality. It's the pay-off for his skills. After all, no one else she's appointed so far has been a perfect fit, either.
“You have a week to consider my offer of a position in the expedition’s scientific contingent, bearing in mind I can't guarantee seniority due to the number of other similarly strong candidates. It might not be a step up in the world, but it will be a new direction for your career.”
Elizabeth knows he'll risk everything because here he has nothing much, and there, on the other side of the wormhole to Pegasus, he could have nearly everything he's wanted, just not power. That's the one thing she can't promise him, but she lets him believe it for now, even though she's already appointed Dr. McKay as head of science, because she's sure Kavanagh will still take second best, just like she has to.
“I appreciate you candidness, and I'll consider your offer.”
With that, he abruptly gets up, eager to escape her office. She can only presume he desires solitude in order to mull over the Pandora's box this offer has opened. She knows it’s be best offer he’s had since entering the SGC, and yet it's also blundering into the unknown, with little to no guidelines for them to follow. They don't know where Atlantis will take them; they merely hope. Given the turns his life has taken, Elizabeth can only hope he has enough faith left in him to dare the unknown.
He stops halfway to the door and looks back to her, waiting for her to continue.
“Dr. Longe mentioned to me that you've expressed an interest in staying at Area 51 over the SGC before, because you prefer working in an environment with less of a military presence. I thought it important to note that there will also be a precautionary military contingent present on the expedition, much like the SGC. Would that present any problem for you?”
He blinks as if this was an unexpected question, despite all the minor skirmishes with officers, and complaints against the military's control of research, that are listed on his file.
“Dr. Weir, I grew up with military men. Most of my relatives believe in the sacredness of serving one's country. I do know how to handle myself around them. ” As exasperated as he sounds when replying, she detects an element of regret in there.
The only obstacle would have appeared to be his family, but as he talks of them, she realises there's one thing worth more than the money or the glory for this man – respect.
He wants to be a hero, at any cost. It’s not a trait she considers a positive attribute in a candidate, but it’s one she can appreciate. For a moment, she can see it in his eyes, and it makes her heart lurch—as a Kavanagh, death in the line of duty means more than a lifetime of scientific achievement. As much as he might get from journeying to another galaxy, perhaps he has just as much to gain if he dies there.
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