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Story Notes:
Thanks to daughter_leilani and purpledog for the wonderful beta reading.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.  The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise.  No copyright infringement is intended.

Rating: G



“I don’t see it.” He suddenly broke the quiet at their table.

“Pardon?” She looked up at him.

“What you see in him.” He gestured with a nod of his head, “I don’t see it.”

She looked in the direction Chakotay had indicated just in time to see Tom Paris stand up from where he had been sitting with Tuvok and walk over to the galley where Harry Kim was filling his plate.

“That was a noble thing you did. I have to admire that.”

“You do?” She quipped, then added more seriously, “It wasn’t noble.”

“But it was,” he said again, “I would have left him to rot.”

“You can’t be serious,” she exclaimed incredulously.

“I would.” He had to be honest. “But you defended him and decided to believe him when everything indicated he was lying.”

“I knew he wasn’t lying,” she said matter-of-factly glancing over to where Tom and Harry were taking their seats at a table.

Tom looked exhausted but Harry kept talking animatedly to him coaxing out a small smile every now and then. The whole ordeal had been horrible for Tom and something Kathryn wouldn’t wish on anyone. She couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to witness a murder over and over again. No not witness, she corrected herself, experience. She was sure that with time, Tom would have probably started to believe he did commit this crime. She sighed heavily, glad that they were able to prove the young man’s innocence.

“I brought Mr Paris out here. I promised him a second chance and I’m not about to give up on him that easily,” she stated confidently, then added with a slight nod, “Or any other member of my crew for that matter.”

“I hope your trust isn’t misplaced.” Chakotay still didn’t trust Tom Paris and Kathryn knew he had every reason not to.

“It isn’t.” She assured him with a smile. “”I’m usually right about where to place my trust.”

“He will disappoint you.” Chakotay answered cockily.

“I’m sure he won’t be the only one.” As a captain she had learned that not everyone could meet her high expectations. As a human being, she had been forced to learn that just about anyone would disappoint her at one point or another. Not deliberately. Maybe not even consciously. She let her eyes roam the room and observe the rest of the people present. “But that doesn’t mean I will turn my back on them. They are my responsibility and I will see them through.” Her gaze settled on him, her eyes fixed on his, making sure she had his full attention before she continued.

“All of you.”

There was a force behind her words, in her eyes that she kept steadily on his, in her whole posture that made him trust her without even a flicker of doubt. He understood what she was saying, appreciated it. She meant all of them when she said her crew. Made sure he knew that the Maquis were included in her pledge. That he was included in her pledge. He wondered if it also included what would happen to them if they found a way home. From where he stood that would be a long time in the future, but he knew that she still held out hope for a fast return. He had no difficulty believing her promise as long as they were stuck out here. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder where her loyalties would be should they find themselves back in Federation space.

She watched the thoughts run through his head. The emotions flickered over the features of his face. She wondered if he knew how much of his inner turmoil was evident for her to see. The gears in his brain were churning. It was obvious to her that he carefully considered her words, contemplated if they meant more than the now, less than the tomorrow, or if there was anything else to them than their face value. But after what seemed endless seconds to her, she saw something give way in him, saw his features soften. She thought she saw the corner of his mouth curl slightly upward when he blinked once as if to clear his head and let his eyes dance over her features.

He was a cautious man. He wasn’t stupid. And neither was she.

With a confident nod he accepted her promise for what it was.

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