Later that evening, Captain Picard addressed his crew. Once he had everyone’s attention, he started.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to thank you all for coming to our celebration. It was five years ago, this week that the Enterprise E ventured out into the vastness of space. She has seen many adventures and has been a big part of our lives, the whole time she kept us save and has become our home. The real reason for this celebration is for me to thank all of you for all the exceptional service you have all given. With out you, working together as a team, the Enterprise would not be as strong as she is. Please, raise your glass to toast the Enterprise and her invaluable crew.” The crowd joined him in his toast.
He continued, “I also want to thank Lieutenant Aria Swenson for her hard work putting this celebration together for all of us.” The crowd gave her a round of applause. Aria felt great as she looked out and saw so many smiling faces.
“And now that I am done with what I have to say, let the party continue. Let there be music and dancing.” The crowd roared with applause and the music began playing again. It was appropriate to the theme of the evening to play period music but also the kind people could still dance to so she had programmed mostly waltzes and polkas. A bit later, Will whisked her out onto the dance floor for a dizzying polka. He was so fun to be with and Aria was so glad she had been given the opportunity to become friends with him.
Once their dance was over, Aria was standing near the bar, having a drink with Deanna. A second later, Captain Picard was standing between the two women.
Aria jumped as Picard said, “Ladies, I just wanted to say good night. Aria, congratulations again on a perfect celebration and I will be in contact with you on the matter we discussed earlier. Good evening.”
“Good evening Sir,” they both replied. Picard turned and disappeared into the crowd. Deanna looked at Aria curiously.
“Oh, he said that he was impressed with my work. He wants to expand my position here and get me some staff to help. To pull this off and do all my other duties, I was working night and day. If I didn’t get ten hours of sleep in the past ten days I would be surprised.”
“Aria, it’s okay. You don’t have to justify a meeting with the Captain.”
“With the look you gave me, it seemed like I did,” she replied jokingly.
As the night continued on into the night, many people were still wearing their masks, including Aria. She was having so much fun that evening, even though she was running around seeing to details throughout the night. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man dressed in gold, not unlike the colors in her own gown. He wore a mask that covered all but his eyes, lips and chin and wore a matching hat. She had no clue who he was but thought he was very attractive. He was wandering around as if he was looking for someone. Aria had to attend to some more details to keep the party running smoothly and lost him in the crowd. A bit later, she was talking with one of her new friends from engineering about trying to schedule a birthday party for her five-year-old son.
From behind her, she heard, “May I have this dance.” It was a voice that she almost recognized. Aria turned around and saw the man in gold that she was admiring earlier.
She looked a bit startled but accepted with a small curtsy. The mystery man took one of her hands in his and placed his other hand on her waist as he led her out to the dance floor.
The man in gold held her firmly as he led her around to a slow waltz. They did not speak, just stared into each other’s eyes. His eyes were a deep dark hazel, which seemed to penetrate into her, making her feel like she was going to loose control. He captured her with only his gaze onto her and his strong but sensitive touch on her waist. It felt like time had stopped and they were the only two in the room, no, the ship. Aria wondered if this was the man that she had always dreamed of meeting.
Late into their third consecutive dance together, she said to him, “I’m Aria Swenson. I’m sorry, I don’t recognize who you are.”
All he did was put his finger gently on her lips and shook his head no as if he was telling her not to ask. Not to ruin the moment for the both of them.
Aria had no idea how many dances they had shared, but their time together came to an abrupt halt as his communicator beeped as if it was the clock chiming twelve for Cinderella. He gently took her hand, brought it to his lips and kissed it while looking deep into her eyes. The mystery man took a step back and bowed to Aria and then quickly left. She was stunned by the magical course of event. A few seconds later she shook the fog from her brain and went after him, if only to find out his identity.
Outside the holodeck, there was no sign of the man in gold. Aria took a few steps into the hall and the doors closed behind her, blocking most of the noise from the party. The hem of her dress hit something and she moved her gown to see what it was. It was his mask. Simple but elegant as she picked it up and examined it. She wondered whose eyes had peered through the mask at her. Then her thoughts went to the Captain. She almost felt like she was betraying him by wondering about the man in gold. They had no romantic relationship and she had every right to see who ever she wanted to, but she could not deny the conflict in feelings.
When she gave up hope that he was not returning, she went back inside to the party feeling a bit disappointed she was returning alone.