Harry Kim walked into the mess hall, his eyes actively scanning the vast room. When he spotted Tom Paris, he walked over to his table and joined him.
“Hello, Harry,” Tom said. He immediately noticed that his friend was looking a bit nervous. He was looking around the room, and he couldn’t keep his hands still. “A little anxious, aren’t we?” Finally, Harry’s dark eyes settled on Tom.
“I’m in trouble,” Harry revealed.
“Trouble? You?” Tom asked. “Those two words don’t even belong in the same sentence.”
“Maybe, but that’s the situation,” Harry insisted.
“So, what kind of trouble are you in?” Tom inquired.
Just as Harry was about to answer, Dani walked into the mess hall. Tom turned around in his seat and followed Harry’s line of sight. He turned and looked at Harry once again. Harry had the expression of a lovesick puppy on his face.
“Oh, no, Harry,” Tom said. Tom turned back to Dani. He and Harry watched her walk over to Neelix at the counter. “Come on, Harry, snap out of it.”
“I don’t know what happened,” Harry mumbled. “I can’t seem to get her out of my mind.”
“Harry, she’s the Captain’s daughter,” Tom reminded the young ensign.
“I know. I keep telling myself that, but it doesn’t seem to matter.” Harry watched Dani as she took a seat across the room with her lunch. “There’s just something about her that I can’t quite put my finger on.”
“The fact that she’s off limits, maybe,” Tom suggested. “You know what they always say about the lure of forbidden fruit.”
“No, that isn’t it,” Harry disagreed. “She’s just so…”
“…the Captain’s daughter.”
Harry looked at Tom. “I came here for advice. If you’re not going to give it to me-” Harry started to rise from the table, but Tom stopped him by placing his hand on Harry’s arm.
“No. I’m sorry. Stay,” Tom insisted. Harry glanced at Dani before sitting down again.
“So, what should I do?” Harry asked.
“Ask her out.”
“I can’t do that. Are you crazy? She’s the Captain’s daughter. You don’t just go out and ask the Captain’s daughter out on a date.”
“Why not? She’s a person just like anybody else. And she’ll be 18 in a few days. She can make her own decisions.” As Tom was finishing up his sentence, Harry saw Chakotay walk in.
“That’s why,” Harry said, nodding in the direction of the big Indian man. Tom turned in his seat just in time to see him sit down at Dani’s table.
“Oh, I see,” Tom said. “It’s the father.”
“Not just the father. The Commander.”
“How are things in going with the Doctor?” Chakotay asked, reaching over and picking a small, round vegetable of some kind from Dani’s plate.
“Wonderful,” Dani answered. “I’m loving every minute of it.”
“Every minute? With the Doctor? I’m finding that difficult to believe.”
“Okay, maybe not every minute. But I definitely like it better than astrometrics.” Dani watched as Chakotay placed the mystery fruit in his mouth. The sour expression that immediately formed on his face told her she’d be better off not trying it for herself. “What is it?”
Chakotay chewed and swallowed with much difficulty. “Another one of Neelix’s leola root concoctions. I wouldn’t suggest it.”
“He assigns the duty rosters,” Harry stated. “He could make my life a living nightmare if he wanted.”
“So what are you going to do?” Tom asked.
“I don’t know,” Harry admitted.
“I have an idea. You might not like it, but it’s not really as bad as it sounds.”
“What is it?”
“Captain,” Harry began, “I was wandering about Dani.” It was a few nights later, in Tom’s ‘Sandrine’s’ program. Dani was celebrating her eighteenth birthday there. Harry and Kathryn were shooting pool. Harry was losing terribly.
“Yes, Harry?” Kathryn urged, sinking, yet, another solid ball.
“I was wondering,” Harry continued quite nervously, “what does she do for fun?”
“For fun?” Kathryn asked. She shot and sunk another ball. “Well, there’s a lot, really. She sky-dives, plays Velocity, and, yes – she is free tomorrow night.”
Harry was astonished.
Kathryn went on. “How did I know?” Harry nodded. “You’re not the first to ask my permission to date my daughter.”
“I guess you turned them down,” Harry speculated.
“No,” Kathryn said, surprising Harry. “She did.”
‘Great,’ Harry thought. ‘My chances just dropped by about 99 percent.’
“Don’t look so down, Harry,” Kathryn said, interrupting Harry’s thoughts. “She just hasn’t found the right person, yet. Who knows?” Kathryn leaned down and prepared to sink another ball. “It might be you.”
“Captain, are you suggesting that I ask her out for a date?” Harry asked.
“How else are you supposed to find out if she wants to go out with you?” Kathryn took the shot, and her ball rolled into the pocket directly opposite her.
The next day, Harry was in the mess hall again when Dani walked in. Harry immediately felt his heart rate quicken. She passed by the lunch counter and walked toward Harry’s table.
‘She’s coming over here!’ Harry thought frantically. A subtle sweat broke out over his forehead and inside the palms of his hands. He looked down at his lunch. He had been starving earlier, but curiously, he had lost his appetite. When he looked up, he was staring into the beautiful face of Dani Janeway.
“Hello,” Dani said.
“Hi-hello,” Harry stumbled.
“What’s up?” Dani asked casually.
“Nothing. Everything’s fine,” Harry said speedily. Dani eyed him suspiciously but playfully. She reached over and picked a piece of lettuce up off Harry’s plate. She studied it as she turned it over in her fingers.
“You know, one thing I really miss about Earth is french fries,” she said. She studied the lettuce some more. “Oh, well,” she sighed, biting into the leafy, green vegetable. After she finished chewing, she spoke again. “You know, you and I should do something sometime.”
“Do something?” Harry asked. “Together?”
Harry couldn’t believe his ears. He had to make sure he wasn’t misunderstanding her. “Like a date?”
Dani nodded. “Yeah. I guess you could call it that. What do you say?”
‘It’s true! She’s actually asking me out!’ Harry thought. ‘Whoa. Stay cool, Harry.’
“Sure,” Harry replied.
“Great. When does your shift end?” Dani inquired.
“1700 hours,” Harry said.
“Meet me on Holodeck 2 at 2000 hours.” Dani stood.
“What are we going to do?” Harry asked.
“You’ll see.” Dani started to walk away.
Harry stood. “What should I wear?”
Dani stopped and turned back to Harry. “Nothing special,” she said. “Anything you want.” She turned to go again, but stopped and turned back to Harry one last time. “Except that uniform,” she added before turning and walking out of the mess hall for good.
That night, as Dani tried to decide on a program to run, she remembered one she’d run almost two years ago. It was the only time she’d ever really made her father mad besides the initial prank of sneaking onboard Voyager. Well, it wasn’t really the program that had made him mad…