"Four Seasons, how may I help you?" Early morning calls were always part of the landscaping business, so John tried to get there early to deal with them. He hated his answering machine and most people didn't leave enough information.
"Yes, my name is Dr. Rodney McKay and I'd like to hold a press conference in your... in whatever open space you have at 11 am," the voice said.
"A press conference?" John asked, mystified.
"Yes, what are you, new? Get me someone who can handle this!" the Rodney-voice demanded.
"Well," John scratched the stubble on his chin. Maybe he should have shaved this morning. "There's really no one else here right now, so you're kinda stuck with me."
A gusty sigh. "All right, but I'll be speaking to your manager later," Rodney said. "We'd like to hold a press conference at 11 am, and we'll be sending an advance crew about 9:30 am to set everything up properly."
Now John was curious. "Sure, not a problem," he said cheerfully. "What do you need us to do?"
"Just your standard presentation set-up," Rodney said. "A podium, electrical outlets for the mics and speakers, which we will bring, and someplace we can hang a banner from."
"Umm... sure, we can do that," John replied. Although he wasn't so sure about a podium. Maybe Radek from across the street could help him out. But if they did it in front of the garage doors, they could hang their banner from the roof. And there were plenty of electrical outlets around the area.
"The setup crew will bring billing information," Rodney said.
"Sure, that's good," John said. Huh. How much should he charge for this? Should he charge for this? He'd see how much of a hassle this was, if it wasn't a prank call.
"Who can I call if I have any questions?" John asked. If he got some information, maybe he could track this Rodney person down, if it turned out to be a prank.
Another sigh. "My name is Dr. Rodney McKay, and you should have my number on your phone," Rodney said patiently.
John made a note of the name and wrote down the number.
"I'll be on site about 10:30 am," Rodney said. "I'll need to double check the arrangements before the press conference starts."
"Sure, no problem," John promised.
"I will see you then," Rodney said and then hung up.
Huh. Okay. It was too early for Elizabeth's sex shop to be open, but Radek might be in the office.
"Hey, Radek! John Sheppard from across the street," John said over the phone. They didn't talk a lot and Radek had no reason to recognize his voice. "This is really weird but do you have a podium I can borrow?"
"I may..." Radek said cautiously. "Why do you need a podium?"
"Does the name Rodney McKay sound familiar to you?" John asked.
"Da. He works for Mayor Kolya, maybe in PR department, or something like that," Radek answered. "Why?"
"Oh, this gets better," John laughed. He recounted McKay's phone call and by the end Radek was laughing also.
"For that, I will break out the good podium and bring it over myself," Radek promised. "I want a good place to watch from."
"Oh, certainly!" John said.
Feeling generous, John washed down the parking area in front of the garage. It had rained a couple days ago and the area was slightly muddy. It was warm enough that it would mostly dry by 11 am.
He also gave his crew the day off. He suspected that they wouldn't get much work done today and it was easier to just tell them to stay home.
Just before 9:30, a pair of panel trucks pulled up in front of the shop. John went out to greet them.
"Umm... do we have the right place?" the driver asked.
"Sure!" John nodded enthusiastically. "Welcome to Four Seasons Total Landscaping!"
Another man came around the truck. "Oh, man. Someone's going to be pissed."
John shrugged. "Dr. McKay made the arrangements himself," John said. "I have the requested podium and you can use the parking lot to set up your press conference."
The two men looked at each other, then shrugged. "We're just doing what we were told to do."
"That's the spirit!" John grinned.
Pretty quickly the parking lot was abuzz with activity. The team that showed up seemed to know what they were doing, setting up mics, speakers and they had even brought their own chairs for the front of the space. John showed the group with the banner how to get to the roof and what they might tie the banner to.
Looking it over, John thought it looked pretty good. For a parking lot.
About 10:30, the street started to get crowded with vans from the local media. Television and radio stations were there and he saw one van he thought might be nations news. They all looked around wide-eyed.
John went to the entrance of the lot. "Welcome to Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Are you here for the news conference?"
The group stared, then nodded.
"This is the place!" He pointed to the parking lot. "Make yourselves comfortable, although I'm going to apologize for the lack of chairs. No one told me there would be this many folk attending."
John recognized one of the local news reporters, who came over to him.
"When this is over, can I interview you?" she asked.
"Sure," John shrugged. He really should have shaved this morning.
She giggled. "This is too much fun!"
John grinned. "That's what I thought!"
At 10:40 a black SUV pulled up to the driveway and sat in the middle of the street for a moment. The car in behind it leaned on its horn and a man stumbled out of the back of the SUV.
Please... please... please John begged all the gods he knew. Blue eyes, stocky body, broad shoulders. This man hit all his buttons.
"Who's in charge here?" the man bellowed.
John looked around and when the setup guys seemed to duck for cover, John stepped up.
"And you are?" John asked.
"I'm Dr. Rodney McKay!" The man all but stamped a foot. "This is supposed to be The Four Seasons."
"It is!" John smiled, thinking thank you, god! "Welcome to Four Seasons Total Landscaping."
Rodney looked at John and his eyes got wide. "You have to be fucking me!"
Oh, I'd like to! John bit that back. "Your people seem to be all set. They just finished the mic test and the local media all seems to be here."
That shut Rodney down. Then a look of glee came over his face. "Four Seasons?"
"Ha! Damn. He'll finally fire me!" Rodney gloated.
"You'll have to tell me about that later," John said.
Rodney pointed at him. "Over dinner," Rodney said. "You have my number."
"Yes, I do," John nodded.
Rodney went off to do whatever he needed to do. Radek strolled across the street to join him.
"Hey, stick around," John said. "One of the reporters from channel 4 wanted to interview me. But since you lent me the podium, hang around and maybe you can get some free advertising out of it."
"Cool, thanks!" Radek said.
Promptly at 11 am, a limo came down the street. Like the SUV, it stopped in front of the gate and held up traffic. Which was even worse because of all the news vehicles already on the street.
A car horn blared and the driver hurriedly got out of the limo and looked around. Rodney strolled over to the limo, waving an arm. He spoke to the driver, who opened the door to the limo.
Mayor Kolya got out of the limo and sneered. John didn't have to hear what he was saying, he just watched Kolya's face. It wasn't pleasant. When Rodney grinned, he knew Kolya had fired him.
Kolya pulled himself together and then walked up to the podium. "Thank you all for coming, today..."
John tuned out the rest as Rodney came to stand next to him. John leaned into the warm body and found that Rodney was as sturdy as he looked.
"Hang around," John said softly. "The channel 4 reporter wants to interview me."
"Perfect," Rodney said back.
Kolya finished up his speech, gave a perfunctory thank you to the Four Seasons and left without taking questions.
The channel 4 reporter hurried over to John. He introduced Radek and explained about the podium. Rodney nodded at the reporter, evidently they had met before.
"Ready?" she asked.
John shrugged. "Sure!"
"Dr. McKay, what inspired you to select Four Seasons Total Landscaping for this press conference?"
Rodney grinned. "While it really is inspired, I can't take credit for the idea," he said cheerfully. "Mayor Kolya selected the site and gave me the phone number to call. It's all at Mayor Kolya's instigation."
"This is John Sheppard, owner of Four Seasons Total Landscaping," she introduced him to her audience. "What did you think when you got the call about a press conference?"
"Well," John replied. "At first I thought it was a prank. It's not like we have too many press conferences here. But Dr. McKay sounded like he knew what he was doing and, well, I went along with it. I have to give credit to Radek Zelenka, from Zelenka's Crematorium for lending me the podium. I don't have a lot of call for one in my business."
"Very glad to help!" Radek added.
"And then what happened?"
"Well, the setup crew came and set up, and we had a press conference," John said. "I think it went well, actually."
"It did!" the reporter said cheerfully. She turned to the camera. "This is Katie Brown from Channel 4 news." She nodded and the camera man stopped filming. She turned back to the trio.
"Did the Mayor really give you the phone number?" she asked.
"Off the record? Attribute it to a source in the Mayor's office," Rodney nodded, then grinned. "Yup. Insisted he knew someone at the Four Seasons and to call the number he gave me."
"What did you really think?" she asked John.
"Oh, I was pretty convinced it was a prank, until Radek recognized Rodney's name," John admitted. "Then, well, I just rolled with it."
"You really did pretty good," she said. She took their contact information in case she had any questions later and left with her colleague.
"Thanks!" John nodded.
"Coffee?" John asked. "Something to drink? I don't have a lot to offer."
"Thank you, but I have to go back to work," Radek demurred.
"I'd love some," Rodney said.
"Come on, then," John led the way to the office.
They skirted through the setup crew that was just about done taking everything down. It came down a lot faster than it went up. John stopped and pointed at the podium to have them take it back across the street to Radek's. It was the least he could do.
It was cooler inside the office, something John was grateful for. He made fresh coffee and Rodney leaned in close to see what he was doing.
"You have good taste in coffee," Rodney said.
"I like nice things," John replied. Once he had the coffee started, he moved toward Rodney telegraphing his intent. "And you look like nice things."
Rodney settled his hands on John's hips. "So do you."
The first kiss was soft, almost chaste. Then it turned hot and carnal.
When they came up for air, John said, "I'm not doing this here. Come back to my place? It's just around the corner."
Rodney nodded. "Best idea I've heard all day."
They never made it to dinner and ended up ordering in. Much later in the day.