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Disclaimer: The characters belong to Paramount, though I doubt they are very appreciative of my attempt to create karaoke singers out of them!

I would like to thank the following for the use of their songs:
Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man
Backstreet Boys - Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely, I Need You Tonight

Summary: Tom Paris introduces the fine art of karaoke to the crew of Voyager.

 

Karaoke Night At Sandrine's

"What *is* that...contraption?" Harry inquired curiously, walking around the table. He was referring to the medium-sized black box standing there, with several colorful knobs lined up along the top.

"It's called a karaoke machine...a fad of the late 20th-Century. Made quite a scene back then, so I hear."

"So what does it do?" B'Elanna asked, slightly annoyed that she had been asked to come on short notice. There were so many more interesting things she would rather have been working on in Engineering. Certainly not here in the holodeck...in this smoky, dark recreation of some bar her boyfriend used to frequent...staring at some ancient little black box.

"It plays songs without the lyrics. *You* have to provide the lyrics," Tom stated, motioning to the small crowd which had accumulated around him. "Just think of it as a good old-fashioned sing-along...except you have to sing it alone. Now, doesn't that sound like fun?"

"No," B'Elanna quickly responded, giving him an evil glare. She knew that, somehow, she would end up doing this anyway.

"C'mon, B'E...you know it will be. There's no need to be intimidated."

"Yeah...I think it's a great idea," Harry chimed in, the curious look replaced by a grin. "Just think of the possibilities...not to mention the fact that we can find out just how many bad singers we have here on Voyager."

Tom's eyes lit up, and his lips curled up into an wicked smile. "Harry, you're a genius! We could turn this into a contest! Guys against gals. Of course, the guys will win...because there's no one with a greater voice on this ship than me..."

A few snickers floated through the room as B'Elanna's evil glare grew narrower.

"Fine! Count me in, Helm-boy!" she exclaimed, pounding her fist on the table. She would probably regret this later, but there was no way she was going to allow Tom to win that contest. "We'll just see who has the best singing voice on this ship."

"Great! Any other takers?"

A mob of people crowded around Tom, willing to sign up, or at least, bet on who they thought would win. B'Elanna suddenly felt sick.

"Good morning, Captain," Chakotay said as he strolled onto the bridge.

"Well, good morning to you," Kathryn replied, watching him as he took his seat next to her. "Oversleep?"

"Oh, sorry I'm late. I got caught up in my research."

"Research?" she asked, her left eyebrow slightly raised.

He began to grin. "Nothing scientific, I assure you. I was just reviewing the song list for Tom's Karaoke Night. He's asked me to join the guys' team."

"Oh, really," Kathryn responded, sounding very intrigued. "Found anything yet?"

"I have a few things in mind, but I still can't decide," he answered. "What about you? Has B'Elanna asked you to sign up?"

"Absolutely not! I don't think I would want to discredit the crew's opinion of their Captain by subjecting them to my singing voice...or lack thereof!"

Chakotay laughed out loud. "Captain, it can't be that bad."

"Obviously, you haven't heard me try to sing!" She was now laughing along with him. From behind, they heard a faint snort from Tuvok. They both turned their attention to him.

"Mr. Tuvok...will you be taking part in this *recreation*?" Kathryn asked, smirking.

He faced his command team, serious Vulcan face painted on. "As I told Mr. Paris...I do not *sing*."

Kathryn could barely contain her giggles. "No doubt the Doctor will be participating. He has an excellent voice."

"I'm not so sure. I overheard him berating Tom for the lack of opera selections in the song list," Chakotay replied, settling back into his chair. He began reading through the first of the morning reports. "Are you going to at least be there, Captain...for moral support?"

She offered him a warm smile. "I wouldn't miss it for the world!"

"Good evening and welcome to Night One of Voyager's Karaoke Contest..." Neelix began, as he walked onto the stage. He was staring back at several dozen pairs of eyes, eagerly awaiting the contest. Many just for the curiosity...most for the chance at extra replicator rations.

"We have an exciting line-up for tonight...including a stirring performance by everyone's favorite First Officer...so sit back, relax, and prepare yourselves to be entertained! Let the contest begin!"

The cheers went up as the lights dimmed and Tom Paris stepped out, all set to perform "Heartbreak Hotel". It was his idea, after all.

Throughout the evening, many of the male crewmembers shared some of their favorite tunes with the rest of the crew...some did so very badly. But everyone seemed to be having a good time. If crew morale was ever a problem on board Voyager, Kathryn thought, it wasn't evident that night.

She and B'Elanna were seated together, commenting and outright laughing at the presentations. Soon, it was Chakotay's turn, the last performance of the evening. Incidentally, the performance Kathryn had been waiting for all week. He stepped onto the stage, dressed in a very familiar looking outfit. A cream colored shirt and beige slacks. He took the microphone as the music began.

Kathryn felt her skip a beat when Chakotay began to sing, making direct eye contact with her.

Open up your heart to me
And say what's on your mind
I know that we have been through so much pain
But I still need you in my life this time

And I need you tonight
I need you right now
I know deep within my heart
It doesn't matter if it's wrong or right
I really need you tonight

I figured out what to say to you
Sometimes the words, they come out so wrong
And I know in time that you will understand
That what we have is so right this time

And I need you tonight
I need you right now
I know deep within my heart
It doesn't matter if it's wrong or right

All those endless time we tried to make it last forever more
And baby, I know I need you
I know deep within my heart
It doesn't matter if it's wrong or right
I really need you tonight

And I need you tonight
I need you right now
I know deep within my heart
It doesn't matter if it's wrong or right

All I know is baby
I really need you tonight

Cheers echoed throughout the holodeck as he finished. Tom walked out to shake his hand. "I think you really saved us tonight!"

Chakotay grinned as he took a bow. When he stood back straight, he searched the crowd for Kathryn. He saw her still seated with B'Elanna, and offered her a smile. A smile which she did not return.

"Captain, wasn't that wonderful? I had no idea that Chakotay could sing so well!" B'Elanna exclaimed, applauding along with the others. Kathryn continued to stare at Chakotay, tears filling her eyes. Finally she stood, then turned to walk out.

Chakotay watched her leave the holodeck, mentally kicking himself for having chosen that song. How could I have been so thoughtless?

Around lunchtime the following day, Chakotay sat quietly in the far corner of the mess hall, staring blankly out at the passing stars. He jumped when Tom walked up behind him.

"Mind if I join you?"

He motioned for Tom to have a seat, which he promptly did. Chakotay continued to stare ahead.

"I know it's probably not my place to ask, but is there something bothering you, Commander?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, because you are eating Leola Root stew! Very BAD Leola Root stew, I might add!"

Chakotay looked down at his dish, surprised to find that Tom was right. Making a disgusted face, he pushed the bowl aside and once again stared out at the stars. "I guess I have been a little preoccupied today."

"Little?!?" Tom laughed, leaning his elbows on the table. Chakotay snickered along with him.

"Aw, hell! I might as well tell someone...though I never expected to be telling *you* my problems," he said, shaking his head. "I expect there'll be more exchanging of replicator rations?"

Tom looked stunned. "I would *never*..." he said with a huge grin.

"I guess it doesn't matter," Chakotay continued. "If I told B'Elanna, you'd end up finding out, anyway."

"Mmm...probably," Tom muttered as Chakotay began to tell his story.

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