Spoilers: Vague ones for Critical Mass
A/N: Beta'ed by ravenlaughing. Thanks ever so. Because of her, this is actually readable.
Jean looked around the featureless hall. All the halls in Atlantis looked the same to her, and this was the third time in half as many days she'd gotten lost. This time she was trying to find her brother's lab; he'd promised this morning at breakfast to show her how to interface with the Ancient archives if she came by after lunch. Well, it was after lunch and she'd been looking for his lab for over an hour.
That was the reason she was there; she'd been hired on by the SGC to help translate the database. She had a gift for languages and her brother put in a word to get her sent here after meeting with her while he was on Earth several months previous. It took this long for the paperwork to go through and for her to get her affairs settled. She'd tried making friends during the trip on the Daedalus to get here, but most people snubbed her once they heard who her brother was. It would appear that her brother wasn't very popular on this side of the universe, despite his constant efforts to save their lives.
So she'd taken to not mentioning who her brother was once she arrived in Atlantis. The family resemblance was there, of course, but it wasn't strong enough for most to connect it to her brother. At most they got a vague sense of having met before, which suited her just fine. If anyone asked for her last name, she gave them her ex-husband's name--Nykl.
Annoyed, she turned a corner only to bump into someone. "Oh! I'm sorry." She looked up at the stranger and found herself staring into a pair of beautiful, if annoyed, eyes. They were hidden behind a pair of glasses, but even still she could see that they were a stunning blue-gray. He was taller than her brother by almost a full head and had long brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. The blue shirt he wore signified his status as a scientist, but she couldn't remember meeting him with the others she met in her brother's lab yesterday.
The man was handsome, but his voice held an icy edge. "Watch where you're going!" His eyes narrowed when he actually took a moment to look at her. "Do I know you?"
Jean smiled at that. First off, he was cute and secondly, it would help mask the family resemblance. "Doubt it; I just arrived yesterday morning with the Daedalus." She waved her arms at the hall in general. "I keep getting lost." She dropped her arms and looked up at him. "I am sorry about running into you. I should watch where I'm going."
He seemed to size her up for a minute before the corner of his lip twitched up in what could possibly be called a smile. "Yes, it is easy to get lost around here when you're new. It took a lot of us weeks to get anywhere without getting turned around at least once." He tilted his head, his lips turning up just a hair more as he held out his hand. "I'm Dr. Liam Kavanagh, PhD."
Smiling, Jean took the hand offered. "Dr. Jean Nykl, also PhD." She laughed softly as he released her hand. "What field, if I may ask? I was brought in to help sort through the Ancient's database. I have a knack for languages, see. Show me a translation once and I can pick up the rest from there."
Liam rolled his eyes, though she could see it was in good nature. "A soft science. Lovely." He crossed his arms before answering. "Chemistry and Engineering. I heard they brought over some linguists this run, but haven't met any yet." He abruptly straightened. "I haven't got any pressing business at the moment, what lab were you looking for? I'll show you the way and answer any questions you might have."
"Thank you, that's very kind. I'm looking for Lab 12. I have an appointment of sorts with the lead scientist, Dr. Rodney McKay." Jean watched the scowl form on Liam's face and sighed. Yes, it was a very good idea for her not to reveal her maiden name. Once again she had met someone who loathed her brother. She knew Rodney could be abrasive, but surely he would have some loyal co-workers!
"McKay. Orientation, I presume?" Nonetheless, he began to lead her down the opposite hall she had been heading for when she ran into him.
Jean nodded. "Yes. I got a general introduction at the SGC and another when I arrived yesterday, but Dr. McKay said he'd show me the quirks in the database so that I might navigate them more easily." She paused, deciding this was as good a time as any to find out just why everyone seemed to dislike her brother so much. "If I may ask...what does everyone have against Dr. McKay? I've heard he's a brilliant astrophysicist yet almost every time his name comes up, the temperature drops. I thought he saved Atlantis several times. Why would they shun someone who saves lives?"
She was shocked at the loud snort the man walking beside her let out. "McKay is just lucky. He's also sleeping with both Dr. Weir," And here he sneered, as if the woman's name was a dirty thing that shouldn't be uttered, "and Colonel Sheppard." The venom in his voice wasn't as harsh as it was with her brother's name or Dr. Weir's, but it was there all the same. "He is reckless and irresponsible and I'll never know why he was chosen for the CSO position instead of me." He paused to look down at her. "Did you know the SGC sent him to Siberia for his arrogance? He insulted the then-Major Carter; General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill both didn't appreciate it."
She had wondered why he had been sent to Siberia. Rodney would never tell her when she asked, he'd simply change the subject. She'd also heard about her brother's crush on Colonel Samantha Carter; it was practically legendary in the SGC. When she'd been introduced to Colonel Carter, she had at first received wary politeness. It was almost as if Colonel Carter was afraid that Jean would follow in her brother's footsteps and pursue her as well. Unlike her brother, however, she was firmly heterosexual. Though she did share his interest in brunettes.
Oh yes, her brother might proclaim his fondness for blondes but his real weakness was brunettes. And she knew for a fact that his supposed crush on Colonel Carter was a cover-up for his real crush on Dr. Daniel Jackson, who was close enough to brunette for her brother's tastes.
But that was neither here or now because Liam had continued.
"He's good, I'll admit that, but he's not the Messiah everyone paints him to be."
Jean had to raise an eyebrow at that statement. She wasn't aware anyone thought of her brother so highly. Well, if that didn't count for teasing rights, she didn't know what would. "I'll keep that in mind when I speak with him." They were nearing the lab to which her brother brought her to yesterday and sure enough, she could hear her brother's voice loud and clear as he shouted at someone.
Liam stopped several feet from the doorway and looked to her. "Well, here we are. Are you sure you want to meet with him? I could just as easily show you the systems."
Jean smiled at the kindness but shook her head. "No, I better let him do it. He might be put off that someone else had the 'pleasure'." Her tone was wry as she stared at the doorway to the lab. Then she turned to him and her smile widened. "But thank you all the same." She laid a hand on his arm before taking a deep breath and turning to the doorway. "Let's just hope I survive."
He seemed startled at her hand on his arm. Did no one ever touch the man? "Dr. Nykl, would you mind meeting for dinner this evening?"
She looked back to him and gave him a startled smile. "I would love to, just so long as you promise to call me Jean. I hate formalities between friends and I would very much like to consider you a friend."
This seemed to surprise Liam even more but after a moment he smiled. "Very well, Jean. In that case call me Liam. I'll see you this evening."
Just then her brother peered around the doorway and saw them. "Jeannie! Where have you been? Oh no, don't tell me you got lost again!" He rolled his eyes but then saw Liam and stepped fully into the hall, already frowning. "Kavanagh. What are you doing here? I could have sworn I sent you to look at the main transporter in the southwest pier." He then saw how close they were standing together and Jean could only watch as her brother scowled. "Are you harassing my sister? Jeannie, is he harassing you? I'll have you working the waste disposal systems for the next decade, Kavanagh!"
Liam turned to her in shock. "McKay's your brother?" She could see his features close off and suppressed a sigh. And there was the expected reaction.
"Yes, Rodney's my brother." Jean glared at said brother. "Though there are times I wish he wasn't. I ran into Liam while wandering lost--yes, I did get lost again, stop looking so shocked--and he agreed to show me to the lab." She turned back to Liam and smiled gently at him, despite his closed off demeanor. "Thank you, Liam." She lowered her eyes. "Though I'll understand if you no longer wish to meet for dinner." She ignored her brother's sputtered protests as she focused her attention on the man before her.
Liam studied her for a long moment, then glanced at Rodney. "We'll see."
Jean watched as Liam turned and stalked off without another word. When he had turned the corner she rounded on her brother. "How dare you treat him like that! Or me! And did you have to tell him you're my brother? Do you have any idea the way I'm treated when people learn we share the same blood? I have become a pariah, Rodney. He was the first one to speak a kind word to me since I arrived and now he probably won't even look at me, though I certainly wouldn't blame him." She ignored his flummoxed expression and stalked into the lab. Inside she found Dr. Zelenka studiously working on his laptop, looking as if he hadn't just heard the exchange not ten feet away.
He looked up when she entered and smiled warmly. "Ah, Dr. Nykl. A pleasure to see you again." He looked past her and raised his voice. "Especially considering the company I have had to endure today." Dr. Zelenka winked at her, then schooled his features just before Rodney stormed back in.
"Yes, yes, I've been an absolute bear today," Rodney said as he rolled his eyes. Then he turned to Jean, arms crossed. "I want you to stay away from Kavanagh, Jeannie. The man's an idiot and I honestly can't figure out why they keep allowing him to come back."
Jean could feel her face turn red, though not out of embarrassment. What she felt was a fury unlike anything she'd felt since the time Rodney had used the parts from her Barbie Town House to build a lightsaber. It actually worked, too. He'd used one of mother's sapphires for the focus crystal and a nine volt battery for the power source. It only had a six inch blade, but it could cut through an office pen--not that daddy was very happy with Rodney over that, mind you--and could be dialed down so it only gave a mild burn if you touched it instead of, say, slicing open your hand.
Once she got over her anger at losing her Barbie Town House, she actually thought the lightsaber was pretty cool. Until their parents made him take it apart, that is. He pouted for a solid month over that one.
Jean stalked towards her brother, her only blood kin in this galaxy, and balled her fists very slowly. Before she'd decided to go into linguistics, she'd been a hellion--it was the 70s, everyone was a hellion--and had been in many a fight. With her electric blue eyes and dark blonde hair, one boyfriend had called her a Valkyrie when she was angry. She had little doubt that her brother now thought the same. "Excuse me? Did I hear you right just now? Did you just order me not to socialize with someone? Just because you don't like them?"
Rodney seemed to realize his error because his eyes went comically wide and he started back away from Jean, his hands held up in front of him to ward off any blows. "Now, Jeannie, it's for your own good. Really. The man's a menace!"
Jean raised her right fist, ready to sock her brother when a strong hand grabbed her wrist. She turned to glare at whoever thought it a good idea to get between her and her brother, and saw Colonel Sheppard on the other end of the hand holding her back. His smile was friendly, but his eyes weren't. "Colonel Sheppard." She let her arm go slack and uncurled her fists. She'd heard a lot about this man from her brother and the reports at the SGC. This was not a man to trifle with.
"Hello. I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage. I don't believe we've met..." He paused long enough to take in the short sleeved blue science shirt. "...Doctor..."
"Dr. Jean Nykl, sir." She raised an eyebrow at him then at his hand. "May I have my arm back, please?"
"Are you going to attack your boss again if I do?" His tone was friendly enough, which surprised Jean a little bit. He seemed so friendly, yet from what she'd read, he was cold blooded killer when needed.
She turned to glare at her brother. "Possibly." Jean turned back to Colonel Sheppard in time to see his frown and hastened to explain. "He's my brother, Colonel Sheppard. I have a sibling obligation to make his life hell."
That seemed to be the ice breaker cause no only did he release her arm, he gave her a real smile. "Well then, why didn't you say so in the first place?" He held out the same hand. "Call me John."
Jean smiled brightly at Colo--John as she took his hand. "Then please call me Jean." She glared at her brother. "Some just don't know when to grow up and drop a childish name."
Rodney only rolled his eyes as he crossed his arm.
"So...what was that all about, anyway? I'm kind of curious as to why you'd want to damage our chief scientist." John casually leaned against the wall nearest Rodney, eyes on Jean.
"This...this...man actually had the gall to try and tell me who I can and cannot speak with!" Her anger returning, Jean spun on her heel and went to the other side of the lab near where Dr. Zelenka had been quietly watching the proceedings.
John turned to Rodney, eyebrow raised questioningly. After a moment, Rodney replied to the unspoken question. "She got lost and bumped into Kavanagh. Evidently they'd made dinner plans before he found out she was my sister."
The Colonel turned to stare at Jean upon hearing that. "You made dinner plans?" His voice was incredulous. He turned back to Rodney and asked, sotto voce. "She is talking about the same Kavanagh we're talking about, right? Tall, long dark hair, glasses, pain in the ass?"
Rodney nodded, his mouth a harsh, jagged line. "I saw her talking to him out in the hall, Colonel. It was Kavanagh."
"Wow." John turned back to Jean and raised an eyebrow. "So. Now that you know he's an ass you won't bother with him again, right?"
"No, I will not 'not bother with him again', Colonel," Jean said, her voice icy. "I'm a big girl; I can chose whom I associate with all on my own. Without anyone's help." This last was said with a glare to Rodney. She seemed to realize things were getting out of hand. She took a deep breath and when she spoke, her voice was much more calm. "Wasn't there something you were going to show me, Rodney?"
Her brother looked like he wanted to continue the argument, but instead, he simply nodded. "Yes. Come over here, and I'll show you how to access the archives." He motioned to a terminal several feet away from where he was.
While her brother showed her how to access the archive and run general searches, Dr. Zelenka--who after such a remarkable blow-out between herself and her brother insisted she call him Radek--went back to work on whatever it was he was doing before she arrived. Only occasionally did he pipe up with some helpful tip or to trade jibes with her brother. The Colonel stayed as well, leaning against the wall near the door like some sort of guard dog. Her only guess was that he didn't trust her alone--despite Radek's presence--with her brother. That thought was almost amusing.
Hours later, Jean tore herself away from her brother so that she could go to dinner. Walking into the mess hall, Jean looked around the room. She recognized several of the new personnel who arrived with her on the Daedalus. Only Dr. Novak acknowledged her from that bunch.
She stood in line and continued her scan of the room. A few scientists that she met yesterday in her brother's lab were sitting in a corner. Dr. Simpson and Dr. Kusinagi both waved, so she waved in return. She was turning back to the front of the line when she saw him. Liam was sitting by himself over by the balcony. She caught his eye and raised a questioning eyebrow and after a moment he nodded. Satisfied that at last someone wasn't shunning her, she grabbed her tray and walked over to join him.
"This seat taken?" Despite his nod, it never hurt to be certain.
Liam waved to the seat across from him. "Please."
"Thank you." Jean sat down before looking over at him. Eyes meeting, she told him without words that she meant more than just the seat.
Liam's lips twisted into a small grin. "McKay give you trouble after I left?"
Jean rolled her eyes, glad he wasn't holding her brother against her. "He tried, but for all that he's toned up since he left, I'm still meaner." She grinned. "There was a time when no one at school bothered me, cause if they did, I'd beat them up after school."
Eyes clearly telling his disbelief, Liam looked her over. Jean had never been big and, unlike her brother, she never gained extra weight with age. She certainly didn't look like she could flatten someone as heavily built as Rodney, she knew. "You? The school bully?"
Laughing, Jean nodded. "Though I wasn't so much a bully as a protector of geeks." She shrugged. "Someone had to protect Rodney from the jocks when his mouth got him into trouble."
Liam let out a choked laugh, smirking. "I can see that."
"So..." Laughter dying, Jean tilted her head. "Why does my brother, John, and Radek hate you so much?"
Liam looked at her thoughtfully. "Bluntness is a McKay trait, isn't it?"
Jean laughed then nodded. "Rodney's never been subtle and hates when people don't say what they mean."
"Alright. I'm not certain about the Colonel, but McKay's been jealous ever since I saved his team when their puddle jumper was stuck in the stargate." Liam was looking very smug and, despite the fact Jean knew that couldn't be all of it, she didn't question it.
Here Liam sighed. "More often than not, he follows McKay. Though in Zelenka's defense, he does recognize my knowledge in Chemistry, it's the Engineering field he berates me in." Liam looked around to make sure no one was listening before lowering his voice. "He has some cause, I'll grant. I get so caught up in whatever issue we're dealing with that my ego gets the better of me. It becomes a battle of oneupmanship than what the issue truly is--which is normally saving Atlantis and/or the people who live here."
Jean smiled kindly at the man across from her. "Pride is something I am used to and is something not in short supply here, I suspect."
"No, no it's not," Liam said, laughing.
He had a nice laugh, Jean decided, and allowed the conversation to drift to other topics.
Later that evening, Jean was scanning the database from her personal laptop in her room when her brother stormed in. It amazed her at times, the sheer gall her brother had. Turning in her chair to face him, she crossed her arms. "And what would you have done if I'd had someone in the room with me?"
Rodney waved the concern away. "I checked the LSD display; I knew you were alone."
Jean raised an eyebrow. "And if I'd been changing? In bed? Taking some 'personal' time?" She was satisfied to see the blush that appeared.
"Yes, well, you aren't so it doesn't matter, now does it?" Rodney paused. "Besides, it isn't like we didn't take baths together growing up."
"We were six, Rodney."
"So?" Rodney was getting his bluster back. Oh boy.
Jean sighed. "What do you want, Rodney?"
Rodney crossed his arms and glared at her. "Katie said she saw you with Kavanagh at dinner tonight."
Oh, he didn't. Standing, Jean slowly advanced on her brother. "You had someone spying on me?!"
Realizing his precarious position, Rodney quickly back-peddled. "Well, 'spy' is such a harsh word, Jeannie. I prefer the term 'looking out for'. Really, Jeannie, you need it. Kavanagh is nothing but trouble."
Jean frowned at him. "Because you say so, Rodney?"
"Well..." Rodney was looking flustered again. "Yes." He firmed his resolve. "Yes, because I say so. I'm your brother. It's my job to worry!"
"I can take care of myself, Rodney!" She got up in his face, fists planted on her hips. "I am your older sister; I don't need a white knight."
Just as she knew it would, the reminder of the gap between them infuriated him. "By three minutes! You are only older by three minutes!!"
"But I'm still older than you!" Fire suddenly leaving her, Jean settled back on her heels, arms going to wrap around her middle. "Why are you doing this, Rodney?" Hardly anyone will speak to me once they know you're my brother. You wanted me here, so here I am. Do you expect me to be alone and friendless the entire time?"
"What? No!" Rodney looked horrified at the very thought. "I would never..." He studies her, hand fluttering nervously. "You don't seriously think..."
Jean sighed before pulling her brother into a hug. "No, of course not. But its hard, Rodney. Half a day on the Daedalus, and everyone knew you were my brother. After that, the only people who would speak to me were Dr. Novak, Colonel Caldwell and that little gray guy, Hermiod. And Colonel Caldwell only spoke to me to offer condolences for being related to you!"
She could feel Rodney wince against her shoulder. "I'm sorry about all that, Jeannie, but there isn't much I can do without making it worse." He paused then whined, "But did you have to pick Kavanagh?" She could tell by his tone, however, that even if he hadn't accepted her choice, he would keep quiet about it.
"Thank you, Rodney," Jean whispered.
Summary: Atlantis isn't what she'd thought it'd be