Far Far Away
"So what's the problem?" Elizabeth asked.
"They won't talk to us unless we sing first," John said.
"If you just let me finish processing the file, we can skip a significant fraction of the tedious explanations," Rodney said, and turned around his laptop for them all to see as he got the video from the Renali homeworld playing. Elizabeth's eyebrows went up as the Renali singer started wailing away like crazy.
"Well, this makes a refreshing change from most of the first-contact hoops we've had to jump through," Elizabeth said. "What's the problem? Let's sing for them."
"There's a catch," John said.
"Of course there is," Elizabeth said, sighing.
John ticked off on his fingers. "It has to be a guy, no mike, no electronics, and if they don't like it, they'll never talk to us again."
"There are several men among my people who can perform the ritual chants with great beauty," Teyla said, "but I do not believe they could perform as the Renali introduction ceremony requires."
"I'm thinking we get Roberto Alagna," Rodney added dreamily, "or possibly Kaufmann?" He hadn't had a chance to get to a performance at any top-notch opera house since college—
"It occurred to me, however, that Adam possesses the unusual range and power necessary," Teyla said.
"Oh my God yes!" Keller squeaked, giving a little involuntary jump in her chair.
Rodney paused. "What? Adam who?" he said warily. He couldn't think of any top-notch tenors named Adam—
"I believe his full name is Adam Lambert," Teyla said.
"From American Idol!" Keller said.
"You watch American Idol?—okay, wait, never mind," Rodney said. "Can we be serious, here?"
Keller said, in tones of intense excitement, "Do you think we can get him?"
Elizabeth said thoughtfully, "I could call in a few favors."
"Very funny," Rodney said.
They weren't joking. Rodney fumed silently to himself.
"I think fuming silently to yourself works better when you don't do it at the top of your lungs to anyone in range, Rodney," John said, taking off his sunglasses as they stepped into the air-conditioned lobby.
"This is completely—"
"—a waste of our abuse of power?" John said. He leaned over the receptionist's desk and smiled. "Hi, we're here to see Simon Fuller?"
"Excuse me," Rodney said, following John down the hall, "this is a completely legitimate, even dare I say critical, first-contact mission, and my objections are predicated on the ludicrous decision to risk this entire operation on the completely inadequate skills of a singer elected to fame by the popular vote of the tone-deaf general public. He probably can't even hit a high C!"
John stopped in front of a door marked Rehearsal 3 and opened it to let out a clear, beautiful, knife-sharp B5 being blasted out by a tall, spiky-black-haired guy on stage, with the accompanying tuneless shriek of an electric guitar. "I don't know, sounds good to me," John said.
For one sadly brief shining moment, it looked like Rodney was going to get reprieved after all: when John said, "We need to borrow your guy for a couple of weeks," the manager laughed in their faces and said, "Certainly. At a hundred thousand dollars a day, that will be one-point-four million, half up front," amused.
"With the economy like it is," Rodney hissed at John pleadingly.
John rolled his eyes. "Rodney, the SGC spends two million a day on the electrical bill. It's not a problem," he told the manager.
"Seriously, what is this about?" Fuller said. "I can't really see Adam doing an ISO tour—"
"This isn't for the ISO," John said.
"Also, it's entirely within your right to refuse," Rodney interjected.
John said through his teeth, "No, it's not."
"What? What do you mean no it's not?" Rodney said. "If he doesn't want to—"
"Mission-critical individuals can be drafted for service when necessary," John said. "Mr. Fuller—"
"He's not mission-critical!" Rodney said. "Fine, I will grant you he's possibly adequate to the task, but—look, Domingo could—"
"Placido Domingo is sixty-eight and couldn't pass a basic military physical if the doctor was drunk," John said. "He wouldn't even make it through the gate, Rodney, shut up."
"Excuse me," Fuller said, "but are you actually standing here telling me that you want to draft Adam for military service?"
"No!" Rodney said.
"Well, technically—" John said.
"Has the small detail escaped you—"
John shrugged. "We're not asking, you don't tell."
"It was in Rolling Stone!" Fuller said.
"It doesn't matter anyway, he'd be in as a civilian contractor," John said. "Look, it's just two weeks, and he'll be serving his country."
"In an extremely dangerous combat situation," Rodney added.
John turned to him. "Do you want to go wait in the car?"
"Right, this is ridiculous," Fuller said. "No, you may not take Adam Lambert to Afghanistan for two weeks."
"Oh, you are not thinking even remotely dangerous enough," Rodney said enthusiastically.
"I'm going to have security escort you out now," Fuller said, but paused halfway through raising a hand as John took out a piece of paper and handed it to him. "I'm sorry, what—?" He frowned. "Is this from—this is from—" He trailed off, reading.
John leaned over and murmured to Rodney, "Elizabeth and the prime minister go way back."
Rodney glared at him, aghast and betrayed.
"So, this is exciting," Lambert said, coming into the conference room and swinging himself into a chair, cracking off the top of a bottle of water. "Simon was practically incoherent. All I got was I'm being drafted by the prime minister and the president at the same time, which I'm pretty sure can't happen, but I'm flattered! What is this concert about?"
"Saving the galaxy," Rodney said bitterly, and shoved the sheet music over at Lambert. "I don't suppose this is out of your range?" he added, in one last-ditch attempt.
"Seriously?" Lambert said, eyeing the sheet music with a faintly martyred expression. "Just covers?"
"One song," John said.
"One—?" Lambert said. "Wait, why is this taking two weeks exactly?"
"Travel time," John said.
Lambert laughed. "Where is this concert, on the moon?"
"Oh my God," Lambert said.
"Yes, well," Rodney muttered, too sunk in depression to properly enjoy the usual clueless-civilian-sees-the-gate-for-the-first-time-has-hysterics experience.
"And I thought American Idol was going to be the weirdest thing that ever happened to me," Lambert said. "No one is ever going to believe this."
"You can't tell them anyway," Rodney said. "That's what all those NDAs were for."
"What would they do, put me in jail for telling Rolling Stone I went to another planet?" Lambert said, waving a hand without looking away from the gate. "I don't think so. Anyway, everyone would just think I was high."
Drug use was evidently also not a disqualifying factor, and Sam threw Rodney out of her office after he pointed out that Lambert had just tweeted see ya in two wks :) going to sing in another galxay!!! to more than two hundred thousand people, which you would have thought would have been cause for concern to a responsible administrator of the Stargate program, but apparently not.
You also would have thought, Rodney sulked, that a base full of brilliant scientists and administrators would be above making idiots of themselves over a pop singer, but clearly you would have been wrong. Five minutes after they were through the gate, Keller was asking Lambert for his autograph.
And to add insult to injury, Elizabeth said, "Rodney, I assume you can handle the accompaniment."
"So this is what we've come to," Rodney said to Ronon, over breakfast the next morning. "I'm sorry that you're being subjected to this as your first experience of live performers from Earth. I tried."
"He's good," Ronon said, eating his bacon.
"What?" Rodney said.
"He did some songs for the Athosians last night on the mainland," Ronon said. "Teyla invited me."
"I know that!" Rodney said. "You went?"
Ronon shrugged. "I like that one Lady Gaga wrote for him."
"Who is Lady—never mind," Rodney said, and went to get a third cup of coffee, because it was going to be one of those days. Which was brought home to him only all the more plainly when he got to the rehearsal room and found Lambert pinning John to the wall with his tongue.
That was what it looked like, anyway—John had his hands on Lambert's hips, and his eyes were shut, and his head was tipped back and he was panting, and Lambert was licking into his mouth with an impossibly long tongue, one leg shoved up hard between John's thighs.
"What are you even doing?" Rodney said, outraged. John jumped away sideways as the door whooshed shut again behind him. "You're—he—he sings pop!"
"How do you feel about jazz?" Lambert offered.
"It depends on the—that's not the point!" Rodney said. "This is a serious mission to establish relations with an advanced alien civilization! It is not a booty call!"
"I can multitask," Lambert said, and beamed at John, who at least had the decency to look awkward.
"I am not here to play bow-chicka-wow-wow background music while you make out with my team leader," Rodney said. "In fact, you don't even need to be here for this," he snapped at John.
"For the making-out part he really kind of does," Lambert said, gazing wistfully after John, who was saying, "I'm going to—go do other stuff now," and sidling out of the room.
Rodney didn't dignify that with a response. He stalked over to the keyboard and put down the sheet music. "All right, let's try and get this into adequate shape."
He was poking at the mashed potatoes at lunch when John slid into the seat across from him. "So, uh, that bad?" John said.
"He nailed it the first time," Rodney said morosely. "Also the next four times."
"That's—good?" John said.
"No, it is not good! Do you realize what a waste this is?" Rodney demanded. "He should be singing Mozart! Verdi! Do you know what he was doing before he went on American Idol? He was singing in a musical!"
"You've got something against Broadway?" John said.
"Oh, no, no, no," Rodney said viciously. "Why would I have something against the grossly watered-down, mass-market simulacrum of a significant and challenging art form with actual musical sophistication and complexity."
"Right, got it, no Broadway tickets for Christmas," John said. He worked on his own tray for a bit, and then said abruptly, "Listen, about earlier—"
"Don't even get me started," Rodney said, stabbing his chicken with a fork. "I realize it's a rare occasion for you to find someone close enough to your level of pretty to date, much less exceeding it, but has it occurred to you he's a twenty-seven-year-old celebrity? He's probably got STDs so exotic they don't even have names yet."
"Keep it down!" John hissed. "And I don't need someone to be on my level of pretty to date!"
"And yet your storied romantic history says otherwise," Rodney said. Then he raised his head and stared at John in appalled, mounting alarm. In fact, Rodney realized, unless they got this mission knocked off immediately and sent Lambert back to his hordes of musically dim fans on Earth where he belonged, all historical evidence indicated this was going to end in a disaster of unpredictable shape but complete inevitability.
"He's ready!" Rodney blurted.
John paused in the middle of whatever he'd been about to say. "What?"
"Lambert's ready!" Rodney said. "We should push up the mission and go to the Renali tomorrow."
"I thought you said this was going to take at least a week of rehearsal time," John said.
"Yes, well, that was when I thought he was going to be incompetent," Rodney said. "I'll go speak to Elizabeth about it right now. I think we should leave for the Renali system at oh-six-hundred. And get an early night."
"You want to get up at—" John stopped and glared at him. "Are you cockblocking me from Adam Lambert? Seriously?"
"Don't be ridiculous!" Rodney said. "And if I were, it would be for your own good." He only hoped it wasn't already too late.
Rodney wondered why he always had to be right about things.
"I just got a little carried away?" Adam said, meekly. "I've never sung for actual aliens before. Maybe I shouldn't have improvised, but they didn't seem to mind—"
"No, clearly," Rodney said, bitterly, clutching his pistol and trying to peer out of the window from the side. "The pelvic thrusting was a nice touch, too. Very classy." Ronon and Teyla had managed to fake out most of the crowd into running after them in the other direction, but there were enough of the Renali still milling around the plaza and the side streets that there was no way they could make it to the puddlejumper without getting caught.
"I think we're okay for now," John said, ducking back into the room. "I got the door locked downstairs. A few of them tried it, but when they couldn't get in, they just went on."
"So what are we supposed to do, just wait here?" Rodney said.
"Yeah, that's exactly what we're supposed to do," John said. "We sit tight for a few hours, Ronon and Teyla circle back to the jumper, and they'll come to the roof cloaked and pick us up." He sat down on the couch next to Adam, and casually stretched his arm out across the back.
Adam looked over at John and brightened.
Rodney glared at them. "Don't even think about it."
"Threesomes are good?" Adam said in a hopeful way.
"What?" Rodney said.
"He's straight," John said.
"What are you talking about?" Rodney said. "You're straight!" He waved a hand at Adam. "Granted, you're making an exception in this case, but I'm under the truly horrible impression that Elizabeth would make an exception in this case, so—"
"I am not straight!" John said.
"So—you guys aren't together?" Adam said, doubtfully, like he didn't believe it.
"Of course we're not together," Rodney said. "He's straight, and also he has incredibly bad taste."
"Hey!" John said.
"Hey!" Adam said.
Rodney pointed at John. "Oh, oh, excuse me, this marks the—what, nineteenth time in which one of your romantic involvements has landed us trapped in a confined space facing certain death—"
"It's not like they want to execute us," John said.
"Being ripped limb from limb by a frenzied crowd is not going to feel better just because they do it out of love!" Rodney said.
"Fair point," Adam said.
"Also!" Rodney said, switching the pointing finger of accusation to Adam, "what were you doing making out with him if you thought we were together!"
"He didn't say no," Adam said. "I thought maybe you had an open relationship."
"Open relationship? You thought we had an open relationship where John gets to sleep with celebrities? No, no, no, I don't think so," Rodney said. "What you mean is you thought you could swan in and be all glittery with your ridiculous voice and steal my boyfriend!"
"I'm not your boyfriend!" John said.
"I'd have dumped you for this anyway!" Rodney said.
"You know, it's not like it's serious between us," Adam said earnestly. "I'm going back to Earth in a day or something, right?"
"Yes, unless we get captured by the Renali and you spend the rest of your life giving command performances in the Pegasus Galaxy," Rodney said. "That's not the point! There's a principle involved here."
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry!" Adam said. "I'm not really good with boundaries."
"There are no boundaries!" John said. "We're not dating!"
"I know, but if your boyfriend has jealousy issues—" Adam said to John.
"I meant me and Rodney!" John said.
"Excuse me, 'don't sleep around with nubile young rock stars' does not constitute jealousy issues!" Rodney said. "That is an eminently practical and sensible limitation on a healthy relationship—"
"Which we don't have!" John said.
"No, and with your attitude we never will, either!" Rodney said.
"So what, you're saying otherwise you would date me?" John said.
"What about the last six years of flirting didn't make that obvious?" Rodney said impatiently. "Anyway, even if I didn't find you attractive, I'd have to date you for the sake of the entire mission. It would save at least three life-and-death situations a year."
"Since when have you flirted with me?" John demanded. "Most of the time you're making insulting remarks about my intelligence."
"It's not like I expect intellectual parity in a partner," Rodney said. "I gave that up in college when it became clear I would never get laid."
"Right there is what I'm talking about," John said. "This is you flirting?" Then he paused. "Oh, huh."
After a moment, Adam said, "So, about that threesome—"
"No!" Rodney said. "Absolutely not."
He folded his arms, ending that line of conversation exactly as it deserved, although it did occur to Rodney that nubile young rock stars probably also were extremely good in bed, and the pelvic thrusting had certainly been demonstrative even if in a somewhat vulgar way, and Lambert was going back to Earth as soon as possible, so—
In the silence, they faintly heard someone down on the street saying, "The life signs detector says they're in one of these buildings! Break down the doors!"
"Well, shit," Adam said.
Fortunately, Ronon and Teyla beat the screaming fans to the roof, if only by a matter of several very anxious minutes. The Renali administrators weren't as far gone as most of their citizens—after a fairly reasonable negotiation carried on from the cloaked puddlejumper, they let them get to the Stargate and even agreed to future discussions of a treaty of alliance, in exchange for a laptop loaded with iTunes and Adam's entire back catalogue.
Rodney had no idea how the Renali were planning to get new music, but he was fine with leaving that to them and Apple. It had been enough of a pain downloading every single youtube video of the Idols tour for them.
"So," he said, bouncing on his heels in the gateroom, "heading back to Earth!" He'd thought it was worthwhile coming in to oversee the dialing himself, on this occasion.
"Yeah," Adam said cheerfully, slinging his duffle easily over his shoulder. "But it looks like I might be back!"
The smile plastered on Rodney's face locked into place. "What?"
"Adam very generously offered his services if we need any more concessions from the Renali in future," Elizabeth said, coming down the stairs. She smiled at Adam benevolently. Adam beamed back at her.
"Obviously not for some time, though," Rodney said, "...right?"
"Well, I'm going to be on tour for the next few months," Adam said. "But after that I'm all about promoting intergalactic relations."
"Is that what they're calling it now," Rodney said bitterly.
John sauntered casually in to say goodbye, which apparently required a hug. A long hug. With patting and squeezing. Rodney glared as John joined him at the console.
John smirked and leaned over to mutter. "Like you're not sorry about missing out on the threesome."
"I am not in the least," Rodney huffed, and punched in the dialing sequence as fast as humanly possible.
= End =
All feedback much appreciated!