They went up to his suite, which she though was odd, but she had a sitting room in her suite, so she figured he had one as well. Aria thought that what ever he had to discuss with her had to be important to need this level of privacy. He let her in and his room was just like hers except was a mirror image and stood between Aria and the door.
“Aria, I appreciate you putting your personal plans aside for me,” he said coldly.
“It is not a problem. So what do you want to discuss, sir?” She was all business, as if she was still in her uniform and not in a spectacular evening gown.
“I am concerned for you.”
“Commander McKinney has a bit of a bad reputation.”
“Sir, so far he has done nothing but enjoyed my company and has been a perfect gentleman. I think I can take care of myself. But I do thank you for your concern. If that is all, I would like to enjoy the rest of my evening.” She wanted to meet up with Scott and was beginning to get a bit annoyed with Picard’s detainment. “Sir, what I do with my free time is my own business. I don’t tell you about the reputations of those you keep company with and I wish you could do the same for me.”
Picard got on the defensive. “Aria, you don’t want to get involved with him,” he said sternly.
“And why not, Captain,” she said with disgust. “I have not and will not let any relationship I have with anyone interfere with my job and your needs both here and on the ship, but Sir, this is NONE of you business.” She stared at him with ice in her eyes.
“This relationship is interfering with my needs so I am making it my business,” he said firmly.
“Sir, I would hate to ruin our friendship over this, so I would rather not talk about it anymore. I will talk to you tomorrow morning at our meeting. Good night, Sir.” She began to leave the Captain’s room. He caught her arm as she tried to walk to the door and she quickly turned around to face him right in the eyes, only inches from his face.
“I don’t want to talk anymore either, Aria. All I want is you,” Picard said as he gave her the most passionate kiss of her life. His arms wrapped around her and held her tightly against him, as if he didn’t he would loose her. She melted into his embrace.
When they lips parted, Aria took a step back and looked at him. She was torn. Her gut reaction was to run back into his arms and never leave, but why did he have to choose that moment to let his feelings be known to her. She was so confused.
“Why did you do that, sir?” Aria asked bewildered.
“You didn’t want me to?” he asked sounding hurt.
“I have wanted you to do that since the first time I met you. Why did you have to wait until now, when I had gotten near someone else?”
“I am sorry Aria,” he said as he gently touched her face. She leaned into it for a moment but quickly pulled herself away.
“Captain, I am not that easy. It is not fair for you to do this to me. I can’t just throw myself into your arms because you got jealous.”
“No, Captain let me finish. I cannot be here for your amusement. I deserve more.”
“Aria, please, our friendship means so much to me that I hope I did not ruin it by my selfish actions. It tore me up like never before to see you in another man’s arms. I realized that if I didn’t kiss you right now I might have lost any chance I might have to be with you. I have been alone for so long and when I see you or we talk, I don’t feel alone anymore. I need you in my life. If you don’t want that, then I will have to live with it. It will hurt, possibly destroy me, but I will respect your wishes.”
“Captain, I have to know something. What’s going to change when we get back to the Enterprise? Are we going to go back to the way things were once your competition has gone back to his ship? I don’t think that could ever happen now, but I will not be the Captain’s mistress either,” she said, failing to hold back her tears.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen when we get home, but I don’t need a mistress. I need you, I need you as a friend and eventually I hope to be more that that with you. There isn’t a part of you that I don’t ache for, but I respect you far too much as a person to ever act on it, if that is your wish. What do you wish?” he asked of her as he tried to brush away her tears, but she pushed his hand away.
“I don’t know Sir. I…I have to be alone right now.” Aria ran from his room and down the hall, tears streaming down her face. Picard stood in the doorway, watching her go. Wanting to run after her, Jean Luc knew that he had to let her make the decision on her own and had to give her the space to think things through. He wondered if she was ever coming back to him.
He sat down in one of the overstuffed chairs and held his head in his hands and wondered if he had lost both the woman he held in his arms just a few minutes before and more importantly, his friend. Still able to taste her lips, it hurt him to see her so upset by the decisions she was left to face alone. He swore at himself for putting her in such conflict.
If she returned to him, he promised himself that he would do his best to make sure she was happy with the time they spent together and never feel the pain he knew she had to be feeling at that moment. For once, he was not the one calling the shots. Things were going to progress according to her wishes. Aria was in command, if she returned.