"Mister Meredith Rod--"
"Doctor!" Rodney interrupts. "Doctor Meredith Rodney McKay." Rodney looks up at the young man, whose eyes suddenly flare in horror as he realizes his mistake. Normally Rodney wouldn't worry about it. But after all, this was Wilhelmia's wedding. And this particular fair-haired youth holds a gaze that told Rodney he'd been subjected to Willie's wrath at least once before - or at least heard tale of it, so there's no sense in wasting a good opportunity.
When the young man pauses, Rodney rolls his hand impatiently. "Well go on," he demands, ignoring the jab in the ribs that John gives him.
Clearing his throat, there is soon the boom of, "Doctor Meredith Rodney McKay and Lieutenant Colonel John Patrick Sheppard." And Rodney can't help that he smiles, at least a little bit, at the room that is the epitome of opulent pomp and circumstance. And though he thinks it's a bit cliché, what with the white doves and celebrities galore, in a way, it all just feels right.
"What the hell, McKay?" John asks as he and Rodney are allowed into the large reception area, where they find a few hundred people who seem to be mingling. "You said we were going to a wedding, but," John points to celebrity after celebrity, then to the few camera crews that seem to be roaming the area, documenting the event. "But what the hell is this?"
"This is the Slater/Mead wedding," Rodney says as he reaches for a glass of champagne, grabbing one for him and one for John. He hands it over, clinking it against John's as he sips. He opens his mouth to explain more, but is soon almost completely covered by a tiny woman with impossibly blond hair and what seems like 47 arms.
"Roddie!" the exuberant woman exclaims as she jumps into Rodney's arms, Rodney having to abandon his champagne. However, the sound of the glass shattering against the brick walkway is easily drowned out by the woman's gleeful greetings.
"Amanda," Rodney replies, his voice already dripping with sarcasm. And with what is a very practiced move, Rodney turns, unceremoniously dumping Amanda onto the padded bench to their right.
Amanda, however, doesn't even flinch. Instead, she changes her focus on Rodney's companion, and soon has her hands full with John.
Clearing his throat, Rodney grabs Amanda, pulling her hands off of John's person as John stands there, the most confused expression on his face. "Back off, Mandy. He's with me."
John finally seems to come back to himself, and is able to get out the single word, "Roddie?" when the name is screamed again from the other side of the courtyard, a slightly more masculine, "Roddie!!!" filling the afternoon air. And before he has a chance to say anything, he's arms are again filled, long legs wrapped around his waist as he's hugged to within an inch of his life. This time it's by a tall, gangly man who is wearing something that Rodney can't decide is too garish, or not quite garish enough.
"Marc told me you would never come, Roddie," Amanda says. She swats at Marc's arm after Rodney deposits him just like he did Amanda. "Can you believe it? Roddie!!" she says, and then checks her nails (Rodney's sure she's checking her nail polish for smudges) as she steals, then downs John's champagne in one gulp.
"Mwah! Mwah!" Marc says as he stands back up, not actually kissing Rodney, but making the sound. Rodney figures it's so Marc doesn't smudge his foundation. It's subtle, but it's there. And the thought of it brings a smile to Rodney's face, remembering a few years previous when he'd met Marc and Amanda. Those were the years that he never talked about, though after today, the proverbial cat may be out of the bag.
Now divested of his armfuls of Mode fashionistas, Rodney tries to introduce John, which turns Marc and Amanda's attention on the "Hot guy in uniform". With their attention fully on John, whose face again holds the most confused expression, it's Marc that first notices him. "Well hello, sailor," Marc manages.
"Back off, bitch," Amanda says, bobbing her head to the side as she steps in front of John, looking like she just may attempt to mount him right there during the reception. "You've got a boyfriend."
"Oh... Yeah," Marc says as he turns to the side, and Rodney can't help but smile; some things never change. "Cliff!" Marc calls out, gesturing to someone nearby. "Come, Roddie, you must meet Cliffy."
But instead of Rodney, Marc grabs John's arm and pulls him towards a handsome young man in a suit, Amanda muttering, "bitch," and then grabbing Rodney and pulling him along.
After proper introductions are made, but before Rodney has a chance to explain exactly what he and John were doing at what was being called the "event of the season", Rodney takes a swig of champagne and asks, "So where is she?"
"Where is who?" John manages. He may be a bit flummoxed based on his expression, but at least he's finally stopped looking like he's in shock.
Amanda and Marc glance at each other. "You haven't seen her yet?" Amanda asks.
Marc gets an unholy look in his eyes. "This is gonna... Oh Willie!" he calls, Rodney looking over and locking eyes with Wilhelmina Slater. It takes her a millisecond to dismiss what looks like the Prince of Monoco, evilly cutting her eyes at Rodney before easing up on her expression to something so saccharinely that Rodney knows he's still in for it.
"Oh god... Has she forgiven me yet?" Rodney mutters as Wilhelmina Slater and a crisply dressed older gentleman start to make their way towards them.
"Are you kidding me?" Marc stage-whispers. "I've had to put out four separate fires in your old office in just the last six weeks."
"Office?" John asks.
Wild-eyed Marc glances first at Rodney, then at John. "She keeps it like a shrine..." just as Wilhelmina saunters up to them.
Reaching out, Wilhelmina leans forward, saying, "Meredith, darling," and is just as careful as Marc was to not smudge her makeup. "It's so good that you could come." She gives John the once-over, then turns her attention back to Rodney. "Still in the astrology business, darling?". But before Rodney can answer her, she reaches out, offering her hand to John. "Wilhelmina Slater," she says. "And you are?"
"Johnnie?" the silver-haired gentleman asks. "John Sheppard?"
All eyes go to John, and he quickly smiles. "Mister Meade?"
The two shake hands, Rodney growing even more curious when John leans in for a quick 'bro-hug'.
"Do you two, uhh," Rodney says as he waggles a finger between John and the man Wilhelmina has seemed to bag.
"Yeah," John says, smiling at Meade, then back to Rodney. "Mister Meade-"
"Bradford, John," the elder Meade says.
Nodding, John says, "Bradford and my dad started half a dozen companies back in the day." Turning back to Bradford, John adds, "Actually, when my dad died, he left me his shares of Meade Publications."
"Really?" Wilhelmina asks, and Rodney thinks there's something to that, with how anxious she sounds, and he wonders if the rumors he'd heard are true. He notices that she has a very similar nervous habit that John does when she absently rubs her neck. All these years, and Willie hasn't changed a bit.
"I was sorry to hear that, son," Bradford says, cutting through the awkward silence.
The group makes small talk, Rodney reaching out and touching John's arm when he looks like his head is swimming, until someone comes up to Wilhelmina and whispers in her ear. "Well now. I'm sure we're going to get even more acquainted afterward, but right now," she says as she reaches over and grabs Bradford's arm, "it's showtime." She gives Bradford a kiss, and then the same to John. "Oh, Meredith, darling," she says.
"Willie, I told you to call me Rodney."
"Pish posh," Wilhelmina says, dismissing him. "Would you mind helping me into my Vera Wang original?"
"That hack of a seamstress? You know she totally stole my ideas for that Milan runway she did."
"Milan?" John asks.
Leaning over and kissing John, Rodney then squeezes his boyfriend's hand. "There's a few years of my life that I need to explain..." He gives John a wink before following after Wilhelmina. But after just a few steps, he decides to call over his shoulder. "Amanda? Marc? Can you take care of John until I'm back?"
Chancing a glance at John, who is giving him a face that says something to the effect of, 'I'd rather be shooting something,' he adds, "And keep it PG-13, ladies," with a quick, all-knowing glance to both of the Mode mischieviants.
Later - much later - that night in their hotel room, Rodney opens the bottle of red wine that he'd stolen from Wilhelmina's after getting her settle back into her mansion. "Oh god, I need this," he says as he pours two glasses.
John gets up and grabs his own. He raises it and takes a gulp, then puts the glass back down, clearing his throat. After staring at the burgundy liquid for a few seconds too long, he focuses on Rodney, and honestly looks halfway between confused and angst ridden. It's like multiple thoughts are fighting for the forefront of his brain, and he finally is able to utter a single word. "Milan?"
Sighing, Rodney downs a mouthful of his own wine. And damn if Willie still doesn't have the absolute best wine cellar in all of Manhattan. Taking a deep breath, he says, "Remember when I told you about being stuck in Siberia for a year?"
John just nods.
"Well," Rodney says, "somehow along the way back to civilization, I kinda fell into the fashion world for a couple years..."
And thus the epic story of Doctor Rodney McKay's submersion into the world of high fashion was finally spilled.