A/N: Last chapter of part 1! Thank you to everyone who reviewed--I love reading what other people think of the story. I hope you continue to follow the adventures of the young Paris and Torres as I begin posting part 2 tomorrow.

Cadet Third Class B'Elanna Torres tugged uncomfortably at the jacket of her dress uniform, trying to smooth creases that weren't there as she studied the crowd in search of a familiar face. For probably the tenth time that evening, her hand traveled to her collar, where a second rectangular pip had been added the day before. Although she still had one final project of her first year—her Survival Strategies practical experience—she was technically a second-year cadet, a fact which amazed her to no end. She hadn't really expected to make it that far.

The crowd hushed with the sound of a spoon tapping against a glass, and everyone turned toward the source of the noise to see Admiral Owen Paris waving the guests of honor forward. Once the six ensigns were lined up next to the admiral, he smiled and began to speak.

"Rank has certain privileges," he began, "including the right to stand up here and pontificate to my heart's content." The crowd laughed politely before he continued. "Of these six ensigns, I've known one for twenty-two years, another for eight. The other four I met for the first time more than three and a half years ago, when I came home from work to realize that it must have been the first weekend the first year cadets had liberty from campus. To be honest, I didn't know what to make of this group of six students who had descended upon my home. By the end of the weekend, I had decided that the whole lot of them was too flighty to make it through four years at the Academy, too undirected to figure out what they were going to do with their lives, and too different to stay together as friends. They proved me wrong in every way possible.

"A few hours ago, we listened with pride, and maybe a bit of disbelief as these six, along with 820 of their classmates, took their oaths as Starfleet officers. I'm sure the other parents here will agree with me that at times, it seemed this day would never arrive, and at others, it seemed like it came too soon."

Admiral Paris cleared his throat and faced the six ensigns standing at attention. "Tonight, we congratulate you six personally and wish you luck as you head off to your next adventures. Ensign Ryan Michael Addison, political science, flight controller aboard the USS Exeter. Ensign Thomas Eugene Paris, astrophysics, test pilot at Starfleet Research and Development. Ensign Siobhan Nisha Patel, propulsion engineering, engineer aboard the USS Enterprise-D. Ensign Sarah Marie Stimler, exobiology, junior science officer aboard the USS Kingston. Ensign Shannon Isabel Stimler, exobiology, junior science officer of Deep Space Nine. Ensign Winat Gial, interplanetary relations, first year law student at Starfleet College of Law." He raised his glass as a toast, the rest of the crowd emulating. "Congratulations, Ryan, Tom, Siobhan, Sarah, Shannon, and Gial, and God speed. You've come a long way since that weekend three and a half years ago, and from here, you'll only go further."

Everyone applauded and drank from their flutes of champagne, and the crowd began moving again as people came forward to congratulate six of Starfleet's newest ensigns. Through the noise, Torres thought that her enhanced auditory acuity from her Klingon genes made her the only one to hear Admiral Paris quietly add, "I'm proud of you, son." Then she saw the grin that crossed Tom's face, and she knew that he heard it, too.