You, Me And The Leola Root
by Suz

Disclaimer - Paramount own the names.

I think this character is vastly underused and underwritten.


I heard a rumour last night. Okay, it would probably be no big deal under usual circumstances - sometimes I think the ship runs on nothing but gossip. I'm always hearing some wild tale from Tom that I've learned from experience never to believe in.

Sometimes he'll put his arm around my shoulder in that brotherly yet condescending way...but always...always...he'll smirk and utter those three magic words:

"Harry, Harry, Harry..."

Those three magic, highly irritating words that hold more than the simple statement of my name. Harry, I know more than you do. Harry, I'm going to tell you something. Harry, you can't possibly figure this one out by yourself. As if little Ensign Kim couldn't see the blindingly obvious as well as anyone else.

It pisses me off sometimes. That he, of all people, could still see me like that. As I said, I can see the blindingly obvious just as anyone: I know I was inexperienced when I came onboard. I hated being the youngest, being the 'child'...but it did bring me certain advantages and I'll admit that I even played up to my image on more than one occasion.

But he knows me. I thought he knew me better than anyone.

Of course, of course he does. That's the reason right there: he does it exactly because he knows it pisses me off. Probably expects me to be thankful.


So I heard a rumour last night. From Tom, as usual. About the Captain and Commander, as usual.

"Word is that he's given up."

My first instinct was to respond that he was full of it, that it was absolute bull and he was making it up. Then I took the opportunity to study him. We were in the newly resurrected Sandrines - still sans the pool table - each holding a drink. Tom had sidled up a few moments ago, desperate to impart some knowledge although he didn't look eager at all.

As I studied him then, I knew he was serious. This wasn't one of his elaborate or extremely bad jokes. The honesty of his expression, the tightness around his eyes that could almost have been an emotion.

Still, I...

"No. Not the Commander. I don't believe it."

Not Chakotay. It wasn't possible.

Sighing, Tom stood with his tumbler in his hand and drifted off, probably to share the 'good news' with another unfortunate soul.

I left for my quarters shortly afterwards and actually managed to sleep for a couple of hours. Now, of course, I'm lying in bed staring at the ceiling, hours before my chronometer is due to go off.

I hate Tom.

It's not possible, not for the Commander. The man has the patience of a Vulcan! Although...that said...Tuvok seems to loose his patience with Neelix more often than not.

Growling - in what I have to admit is a very poor imitation of B'Elanna - I jump out of bed and decide to stalk the corridors of the ship. Maybe the exercise will help get me back to sleep.

Strolling around, my steps eventually bring me to the hydroponics bay. It occurs to me that I haven't been in there for years. Not since Kes left.

I miss her.

Walking in, I stop in the doorway when I see him sitting in one corner on the floor; legs crossed, eyes closed, a relaxed expression on his face. He doesn't jump, doesn't suddenly stand. Instead he simply opens his eyes and smiles that enigmatic smile of his.

"Ensign," He nods.

"I'm sorry, if I'm disturbing you..."

The smile deepens and I know he doesn't mind. "No, it's alright. I just...felt the need to be near something natural." Nodding towards the foodstuffs he chuckles. "Well, as natural as leola root gets."

Grinning, I step into the room fully and approach him. "I don't think anything gets more natural than leola root."

Without invitation I bend down and sit opposite him. We regard each other silently, warmly. It almost becomes a challenge for which of us is going to hold out the longest without saying something.

I crack first. He does have the patience of a Vulcan.

"Have you given up?"

He frowns, moving his head to one side slightly. "On what? Or whom?"

I can't believe I'm saying this to him. "You know who."

I can see the instant that he does. Even though there's nowhere for him to go, he seems to back away. "Ensign-"

"Please," I insist "This won't go anywhere. I won't tell anyone. This stays between you, me...and the leola root."

He tries to appreciate the humour, but I can tell the smile is forced. "I don't know, Harry. That leola root gets everywhere."

"Please," I continue as sincerely as possible. "I don't think you realise how much the crew depends on it. I know morale is important to you; it's something you're normally so in touch with. But this...well, I think you're a little too involved."


"Just hear me out. We're so far away from home that we need the seemingly insignificant things. We need the rituals that are such a normal part of life back home. There are certain things on Voyager that are a given; the Captain will always have a coffee obsession, Neelix will always make food that tastes bad, Tuvok will always say that something is illogical, and you and the Captain will always have that 'thing' between you."


Still I press on. "It's the ordinary, day-by-day stuff that must seem so mundane to some, but it's vital out here. We need something familiar, we need something we can depend on." Finally stopping I take a breath and lean away, realising I probably just ripped through several topics he didn't want to deal with. He's an intensely private man.

Nothing is said for a while. I watch him; he watches the floor.

He speaks. "I think I may have underestimated you Harry. I promise not to do so again."

It is not what I'm expecting. "Thank you," I blink.

"But you realise what you're saying? Do you have any idea how much of a responsibility that is? I have to still have hope simply because the crew demands it?"

Damn. "That's not quite what I meant-"

"I know better than anyone that morale is important, but you can't ask me to put even more responsibility on either of our shoulders. We already have what feels like a mammoth task some days."

I smile. "Do you realise that you said that?"


"'We'. Instead of 'I'."

He looks surprised. "No, but don't start thinking that it means-"

"I won't," I answer because it doesn't. It really doesn't.

Standing up slowly I say my farewells and head towards the door. As it hisses open he says something and I turn my head to look at him.

"I haven't, you know. I wanted to. I want to." Chuckling to himself he lowers his head and shakes it. "I haven't."

I understand. I knew Tal, and I know Kathryn Janeway.

I understand.

"Thank you," I murmur softly and can't help but add "If you ever want to talk..." even though I know he won't.

He nods dismissively and I turn away.

It feels odd that I should be frowning, but later I won't be.

Not a word to anyone. I know that, but they'll see my smile. They'll assume something. Harry's finally got somewhere with Seven. Harry's got a new lover that he's keeping under wraps, literally. Harry's just found out something that he won't share with anyone.

Let them talk.

One of their insignificant hobbies still has meaning.


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