Aria left the hotel and went for a walk on the beach. She was alone as tears ran down her face. So many emotions ran through her, conflicting emotions that tore her apart. She did really like Picard and she had wanted him all along but then there was Scott and her secret admirer. Questions like how was this going to change her life and her career ran through her head. The last thing she wanted is to give herself a bad reputation. Back on the Enterprise, she was certain there were already rumors of her being the Captain’s lover. Could she take the whispers and the stares from her crewmates? Was it worth it?
She walked and walked, still in her gown, down the shore thinking about her life and her career. She knew so much was going to change regardless of her choice, but it had to be her choice to make. As the first light began to appear at the horizon, she was still walking alone, this time walking back to the hotel with her decision.
She lifted her hand and knocked on the door, hoping it was not too early for him. The door opened and Aria held her breath.
“Aria?” Scott said as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “Are you okay? I was worried when you did not show up last night. Please come in.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t. I have been thinking, all night actually, but I cannot see you again. I know that this is sudden, but I wanted to be straight with you. Someday you will meet the right woman, but it isn’t me. I realized last night that my heart belongs to another and it would not be fair to lead you on knowing that. I am sorry. Thank you for the time we spent together and good bye.” She turned and left him standing there. By the time she had taken three steps away from him she heard Scott’s door close. Her tears were welling up again and began to fall down her cheeks.
Aria went up to her floor and knocked on Picard’s door, her hands trembling and her knees weak. It felt like an eternity for him to answer. He stood there, in a dark blue silk bathrobe, framed in the doorway looking at her, wondering what she was going to say. The tears were still falling from her eyes as she lunged towards him, wrapping her arms around him.
“I am sorry,” she whispered into his ear.
He took her inside his room and held her, tightly as she sobbed in his arms.
“What could you ever be sorry for?” he asked her after a few minutes, confused.
“I’m sorry for what I said and what I must of put you through. I walked all night, thinking of reasons why I shouldn’t be with you. As the sun began to rise, I couldn’t think of a single one.” She was trembling in his embrace. All of her emotions had been exhausted that night. He helped her sit down on a couch in the sitting room, afraid to let go of her.
“I am so glad you are here,” he said, finally able to wipe the tears that had streaked down her cheeks all night long. “You are so beautiful. I could not be any happier as I am now that you are here, with me.” Picard took her face and gently cradled it in his hands as he brought his face to her and gently kissed her. Aria brought her hands up to his and felt the strength in them. He took one of her hands in his and kept the other on her face.
“This has to be a dream,” he whispered in her ear.
“No, Sir. It is not,” she replied.
Picard chuckled. Aria looked puzzled. “Aria, I think it is okay if you call me Jean Luc now.”
“I’m sorry. It is second nature to me. I am so used to the formalities of our relationship,” she said as she looked up into his eyes. At that moment, she realized what had seemed so familiar in them. “It’s you,” she said looking shocked.
“What do you mean?”
“You were the one that danced with me at the anniversary party. You left your gold mask behind.”
“Yes, that was me,” he told her with a bit of embarrassment in his voice. He was amazed that she had remember that moment they shared over two weeks ago.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, knowing the truth in her heart.
“I couldn’t. I thought I would be content with that moment we shared. That was until last night when I saw you in another man’s arms. Every part of me told me that if I let you disappear with him, I would regret it for the rest of my life.” He kissed her again, gently as if she was going to break. Chills ran down her spine as he did. She was amazed that all of this was happening to her.
They spoke and gently kissed each other until an alarm went off in Jean Luc’s bedroom. He got up to turn it off. They both knew that they had to chance into uniform for their one meeting that day. After that, they had two days were theirs to do as they pleased. Aria gave him one more kiss, one that left him wanting more, and went to her suite to dress for their meeting.