Back in his quarters, Jean Luc sat alone. He was kicking himself for not trying to see her. He really was missing her. They had spent so much time together preparing and celebrating that now that it was all over, he was alone. He couldn’t have asked her to come to his quarters to get the schedule, she was studying and it was a pretty pathetic excuse to see her. Aria had to get ready for the conference and he couldn’t legitimately take away any more time from her work. Jean Luc was scared that his friend O’Neill would extend an offer that she could not refuse. What could he offer her that could keep on board if Jack did such a thing without compromising her integrity as a credible Starfleet officer?
He had to get her out of his head. Although he should have also been preparing for the trip as well, he had to get out of his quarters, waiting for her to walk through the door. Jean Luc got up out of his chair and changed his clothes. At this hour of the evening, not many people visited the gym. That would be a perfect distraction for him, he hoped.
When he arrived at the gym, he was right that the room was practically deserted; especially after all of the parties, the crew had not gotten back to their usual routines yet. Picard took one of the treadmills at the far end of the room and opened a file on his data recorder to review while he ran.
Soon after he had started the program, someone entered the room. It was Aria, wearing a pair of headphones and engrossed in her files. He thought that she had not seen him yet as she climbed onto the first treadmill she found and began running, hard, all the time studying. He watched her run, trying not to look like he was watching her.
Aria ran and ran while she listened to her recordings and read along with it, getting ready for the trip. She thought that running would help her concentrate, to be able to absorb the material better. Thirty minutes after she began running and her recording stopped, Aria removed her headphones and realized that there was someone else running. Finally, she looked over to see a sweaty Captain Picard also running. She nodded over at him and continued to run. Aria wondered how long had been there and how she could of missed him.
When Picard’s running program was over, he stopped by her treadmill. “I didn’t think you would have been here with all the work you had to do.”
“It’s all right here, sir,” she told him as she tapped her data recorder. “What are you doing here at this hour?”
“Too much excess this week.”
“Me too. Here, I’m almost done,” she told him as she punched a few buttons on the treadmill. “Sorry, I can never talk when I run. I got the schedule that you forwarded to me. I didn’t realize that I would have so much free time. I was going to put in for some shore leave when you told me about the conference. I guess I don’t need to now, sir.”
“You’re right. It is almost like a vacation. I’ve never been there so I guess we will find out together.” He almost regretted saying that.
“Well, I better get back to my quarters. I hope to get through another audio disk before I get some sleep. Good night, sir,” she told him as she started to leave the gym.
“Yes, Lieutenant. Before we depart, I would like to have a meeting so that we are full prepared for the meetings.”
“Aye, sir. Just let me know when you are available. I have a very light schedule this week, other than studying.”
“Yes, I will have to review my schedule and will let you know.”
“Good evening, sir. I will see you later this week.” Aria left the gym and hurried into the turbo lift. Aria was not sure if her imagination was on overdrive, but it felt like her Captain ask her out on a date? She thought it had to be her imagination because Captain Picard was her commanding officer.
Three nights later, Aria was standing in front of the doors to Captain Picard’s quarters holding several data files to review with the Captain about the cultures that they would be meeting with. She rang the chime and the Captain answered the door fairly quickly.
“Thank you for being able to fit in this meeting, sir. I think this will be very beneficial for your meetings at the conference,” she told him as she entered his quarters.
“I am just glad that you were able to get up to speed so quickly.”
“That’s my job sir,” Aria told him as she took a seat in one of the armchairs and began to organize the files she needed to review with him.
“Would you like something to drink before we begin?” he asked her.
“Just a glass of water would be great. Thank you, sir.” Picard noticed that Aria seemed to be in a world of her own, concentrating over the files that she had to share with him.
Bringing over her glass of water and setting it down on the table, Picard settled down in a chair on the other side of the coffee table that Aria had set up camp. He sat there for a moment watching her work, fascinated by her dedication. When she was ready to begin, he felt like he was back in school, as she seemed to lecture him with all data she had compiled for him. She went on for over an hour about the cultures and languages that they would be encountering.
When she was finished with the briefing she handed him is own file so that he would have sort of a ‘cheat sheet’ for the trip. He was truly impressed with her thoroughness. “Have you had dinner yet?” he asked.