Disclaimer - Paramount and Viacom own the characters from Voyager, although they didn't often treat them right. The story line belongs to me.

A special thanks to: My friend and editor of all my stories, Mill3rs.

"At least the Vulcan was doing his duty as a Starfleet officer. But, you! You betrayed us us for what? Freedom from prison? Latinum? What was your price this time?" Chakotay's words sounded in his head as Tom Paris struggled to his feet. Sharp pains across his stomach caused him to gasp for breath. Blood pooled at the corner of his mouth from a split lip. This was the third time in two weeks that he'd been jumped by some of the Maquis crewmembers.

He'd gotten a message on his console to meet Kes in the Hydroponics Bay. She had started to help out the EMH and was starting to grow some herbs for medicinal purposes. Captain Janeway had authorized Kes and Neelix to turn one of the unused storage bays into a Hydroponics greenhouse. Tom had some interest in the plants and being near the quiet Ocampa was an added bonus. She was kind of cute with her small stature and shell-like ears. He also felt safe there. No one seemed to threaten the young blond girl.

Only now, he realized his mistake. He should have contacted Kes first, to be sure she was in Hydroponics. Instead, he went directly there following his shift. He still got glares from the Maquis and didn't want another confrontation. Calling for Kes when he couldn't spot her right away, he moved into the middle of the bay. A sudden fist in his midsection brought him to his knees. A low voice spit out. "We don't care about the Captain's orders, Paris. You're not welcome on this ship and until we find a planet to dump you on, your life is gonna be hell."

Tom started to rise and swing around to try to see his attacker when he was struck in the mouth from one side and then smashed in the back with what felt like a chair. As he collapsed on the floor, he heard footseps leaving the area.

* * * * *

"Why must it be Paris? I can fly any of those shuttles myself. I am Starfleet trained afterall, Captain." Commander Chakotay paced in front of Janeway's desk in her ready room. Although he promised her he would look out for the Lieutenant he still wished to avoid the younger man as much as possible. He, along with the remainder of his crew from the Liberty, believed Paris had betrayed them to Starfleet. The fact that Paris had been imprisoned didn't matter to him. The man was a traitor and to have to spend five days with him on an away mission was not something he looked forward to.

Captain Janeway rose from her chair and stood in front of Chakotay blocking his path as he turned towards her desk. "There are ion storms on the planet's surface and Lieutenant Paris is the best qualified for this mission. I need you at tactical. There are still signs of Kazon activity in the area. Ensign Kim will be the engineering representative and Lieutenant Ayala will be providing security. Your chief engineer stated that unless we are able to acquire more dilithium crystals this ship would be 'dead in the waters'. I believe those were her exact words." Janeway glared at her second in command, once again wondering if it was such a good idea to try and combine the two crews to get home.

"I thought B'Elanna was our engineer." Chakotay looked down at the petite captain whose blue-grey eyes flashed her anger at him. Although he stood a good half- foot taller than Janeway he had to admire her strength and fire.

A slight smile appeared on the captain's lips as she sat back down and indicated the chair next to her desk. "Commander, please sit. You're right, Lieutenant Torres is our engineer. I don't want to have a fight with you over each of my decisions. This is not a democracy. I am still the captain and have the last word as well as the responsibility for this entire crew, both Starfleet and former Maquis. Your crew will listen to you, I need your backing. We need each other if we are to bring this ship back to the Alpha Quadrant."

Chakotay slowly sat down in the chair indicated and looked across the desk at the woman who would be responsible for his very life until they were back home. Then, he wasn't sure what would happen. In all likelyhood, he and his crew would be imprisoned for their actions. Until then, he would serve Janeway to the best of his abilities. She was tough but fair and his crew were starting to feel comfortable aboard Voyager. Shaking his head, he reached for the cup of coffee Janeway had offered him when he first entered the ready room. I still don't like the idea of five days with Paris but she's not going to back down on this. "Okay, when do we leave?"

to be continued.....