AN: A random playlist inspired this bit of silliness in my off-and-on collection of KJ/Charlie J/P friendship stories.

(Who's Charlie? Check out 'Losses and Gains' and 'It Doesn't Change Anything.')


"I think," Charlie Hudson whispered in Kathryn's ear, "another 15 minutes, and we can slip out of here. I hear the Maxwell has music tonight. Even a bad accordion player would be better than this."

Kathryn smiled affectionately at her husband. "That is a wonderful ..." she began, only to be interrupted by Charlie's muffled snort. "Sorry," he murmured, "Nechayev just poked her husband in the ribs. I think he fell asleep."

"I don't blame him," Kathryn chuckled. "If the Delta Quadrant had any saving grace, it kept me away from the Admirals Ball."

He just nodded and leaned a little closer. "You know, I wished that I could adjust our sector's weather grid this afternoon."

She raised an eyebrow at his confession. "Oh? What kind of adjustments are we talking about?" Weather control systems were automated — and monitored. No one adjusted them manually unless a serious threat was involved.

He gave her a mischievous smile "Not that I could or would do it, but when it rained this afternoon, I wished that I could drop the temperatures to, oh, just below freezing. A couple meters of snow and ice would have been enough to cancel this, don't you think?"

Kathryn couldn't hold in her laughter. "Charlie, it's June! Don't you think someone might catch on?" she managed before she went off again. When she came up for air and managed to wipe the tears without smearing her mascara, she noted several people smiling at them.

"I think, Chief Weatherman, we just delayed our escape by a good 20 minutes," she said, giving his arm a playful nudge.

"It was worth it," he teased, only to stop when the band started a lively tune. A familiar lively tune.

"Is that from …?" Charlie began, and Kathryn looked to where the Paris family was sitting. Kathleen and her husband, David, a newly minted captain, looked at Tom and laughed. Julia looked confused until light dawned, then she nudged Tom and laughed, too. B'Elanna just gave him an incredulous look.

"That's Tom's playlist," she confirmed. Apparently, his collection of ancient music was making the rounds. "Want to dance?"

They made their way onto the floor, which was becoming crowded. Charlie managed to slide them next to Kathleen and David. "So," Kathleen called, "you got the playlist, too?"

"I now think everyone did," Kathryn joked, which made Kathleen laugh. "I don't know about you, but our kids are scandalized when we dance to those tunes," David remarked.

"Oh, yes," Charlie agreed. "Lot of eye rolling."

For the next song, they swapped partners with Tom and Julia, who didn't seem concerned that Owen had disappeared.

"B'Elanna not up to dancing?" Kathryn asked.

"Well, you know how she is about that. But she says it would be tough to dance while carrying an anvil," he quipped. "And considering she's due any day now, she's afraid that too much movement might persuade Michael to, er, pop out."

"Well," Kathryn murmured. "I'm sure we have enough doctors here, but still …" That was not something she wanted to consider. "Anyway, you look very nice in a tux," she said, changing the subject.

"And you look very nice, too," he said sincerely. "I would have preferred to wear something else, though."

"We could arrange to get you back in uniform. You look nice in dress whites." she teased.

"Oh, I get it. First, you discard me as your favorite dance partner; now you're trying to drag me back into Starfleet."

"Thomas, I cherish every hour we spent in that dance program. It was nice to be myself for a change. Though Kazons doing the Bolian Bounce ..." She shook her head in distaste, making Tom laugh.

"Well, you and Charlie certainly have pushed the limits of decorum out here," he teased. She just laughed. "What are they going to do? Throw us out for having fun? We were about to slip out before your music started."

"Kate, I think marriage agrees with you," he whispered.

"I am very fortunate," she whispered back. "So, how did this band get hold of your playlist?" she asked.

He gave her that devilish smile. "Well, I was doing some promotional stuff for them. They mentioned that they were doing the Admirals Ball; I offered them a substantial discount if they'd play a particular set of songs."

All she could do was laugh, which set Tom off, though he had the presence of mind to get them off the dance floor so they could sink into a couple of chairs.

"Leave it to you to liven up the place," she finally managed.

"Oh, I'm not done yet," he said with a wink.

Back at their table, Charlie laughed when she told him how Tom had pulled off the music caper. "Well, remind me to thank him; he brought this place to life," he said, then leaned closer. "So, are you ready to get out of here?"

"Let's wait a bit. Apparently, Tom has something else up his sleeve," she said quietly. Charlie just shrugged and sipped his drink.

They didn't have to wait long … a murmur went up as soon as the first notes started.

"Oh, my God, it can't be," Charlie groaned.

"Oh, yeah, that's the Academy Hop," Kathryn groaned back.

No one really knew when the tradition started: 22nd, 23rd century? But the "Hop" was burned into the memory of anyone who spent at least a year at the Academy. The simple line dance closed out every Academy dance — and was learned, not always voluntarily, by every first-year cadet.

Nervous laughter went up as the first dancers hit the floor. Then it turned raucous as officers who'd graduated decades ago realized just how uncoordinated they had become.

"Come on," she said as she stood and held out her hand to Charlie. "Let's see what we can remember." It took a few minutes — and it wasn't easy to count steps while laughing — but it all came back.

When she finally got the hang of it, she began to notice other dancers: Owen had reappeared and was dancing with Julia; Admiral Nechayev's husband was adding a bit of flourish to his steps. Tom had even persuaded B'Elanna to come out.

The band finished to what may have been its first standing ovation. She and Charlie slipped to the door and were nearly bowled over by Owen, who was heading out.

"Sorry," he said as he grabbed her arm to steady her. "I have to get a staff car; looks like we may end the evening with a trip to the hospital."

"B'Elanna? You're kidding!" Kathryn exclaimed. "Go," she said, waving him off. "Let us know when the baby arrives."


"Well, this turned into quite the night," Charlie joked as they waited for their staff car.

"No kidding," she agreed, then raised an eyebrow. "So, do you still want to go to the Maxwell?"

"Nah," he said. "That would be a letdown after this."

"Oh?" she husked as she flicked an imaginary bit of lint from his jacket. He just smiled as his hand slipped to the small of her back. "Let's see ... the boys are with my parents until tomorrow night. So I suggest we go back to our nice, quiet house and find something interesting to do," he finished as their car pulled up.

"Were you thinking of something interesting to do or an interesting place to do it?" she whispered as the driver opened the car's back door.

"Both," he assured her as he helped her into the hovercar.