Just then there was another knock at her door. Jean Luc tore himself away from her and answered the door. This time it was the tea that she had ordered earlier which he signed for and sent the delivery boy away.
“I thought all we were going to do was talk?” he asked her as he began to carry the tray out to the balcony.
“I did not know that you would have had to come to my defense. Thank you.”
“It was the least I could do for you. You are worth defending. I would do it every day if I had to.”
“I hope you don’t have to. Let’s try to put this all behind us.”
He put the tea tray down on the table and he helped her into her seat. From behind her, he gently kissed her on the cheek, sending shivers down her body. He sat down in the other chair, across the table from her. She poured the tea for both of them and they talked like they used to during the meetings on the Enterprise, but with out the tensions that were present before their trip to Malrata.
It was a chilly night and Aria was still covered in the wrap from their earlier balcony conversation. Although she sipped hot tea, the chill in the air made her shiver. Noticing her discomfort, Jean Luc got up out of his chair and went inside the suite to get her a blanket, so that she could keep warm. When they were both finished with their tea, they got up to admire the view. Still amazed by the simple but exotic view that lay in front of her. In the darkness, she could hear the waves crashing against the shore and could see the froth churning up from the rocks below. She closed her eyes and let the sound of the waves and the salt air carry her away, no thoughts ran through her head for once.
Jean Luc placed his arm around her back and held her close to him. He was so warm and strong. Lying her head on his shoulder, at that moment things were perfect. They stood there, with no outside opinions of the two of them being together, just a man holding a woman, a woman he cared deeply about. Standing there, Aria was not his interpreter and he was not her commanding officer. He wished that things would always be as simple as this moment, but deep down he knew things were going to be challenging as their relationship continued in the reality of the Enterprise. She was worth the challenge and he wanted to protect her from all the evils of the universe, the rumors, the innuendo, the whispers and looks that he knew was bound to follow upon their return home.
Standing there, in the moonlight on the balcony, remembering the earlier confrontation with Commander McKinney. Scott was willing to fight for her, but gave up so quickly. Jean Luc knew he would never back down and would always fight for her, for her love and companionship. With that thought, he stiffened up. He was in love with her? He could see having a family with her, having children, having a future with this woman he held so close. This was all new to him and he was not sure how to react to his realizations.
“Is something the matter?” she asked him, reacting to the change in his body and picking her head up off his shoulder.
“No, nothing at all, my darling,” he responded.
“Come here,” she beckoned as she took his hand and led him over to the oversized lounge chair. Aria sat down and motioned for him to sit next to her. Covered by the blanket and having his arms wrapped around her, she asked, “Something is the matter. What is it? You can tell me anything.”
“I was just thinking about Commander McKinney,” he responded.
“What? Why him?”
“I was thinking that he backed down to easy. If I was in his shoes, I would of fought so much harder for you. You are worth so much to me. I haven’t gotten through a single day since you came aboard with out thinking about you.”
“I had no idea you had been thinking of me so much. I would not worry about Scott. I think that the great Captain Picard of the starship Enterprise scared him off. He doesn’t want trouble, and between the both of us we could get him in a lot of trouble.”
“Aria, I wish I could protect you from what will probably come when we leave here. It may not be easy for both of us. Are you ready for all of that?”
“As long as I have your support and you by my side, I know everything will be fine. I don’t want to go a day without being with you, if only for a brief moment. Things will be different when we get home, but the way we feel for each other should not.”
“I could see my feelings changing?”
“What do you mean?” she said staring straight out into the night, her body growing stiff.
“I can only see my feelings for you growing stronger and deeper for you. What did you think? That I would cast you aside once I was board with you?”
“Honestly, I was a bit unsure. I heard some women in the ladies room talk about you and your reputation at events like this. They were wondering when you were going to cut that ‘pretty young thing’ away so they could have a chance with you.”
“Oh, really. Is that why you were so quiet when you got back to the table?” She nodded yes. “Aria, you should know me better than that by now. Oh, darling Aria. How could I ever leave you? It is true that I have been with a few women, but I have never felt such intense feeling for any of them as I do for you. I want to be with you and only you. All I could hope is that you want that as well. I want you to be open and honest with me as I am with you.”
“You are too good to be true.”
“For you, only the best.” He bent down and kissed the top of her head and held her tightly. They said no more, and just sat there; enjoying the time they had alone in this magical place. Slowly, Aria’s eyelids grew heavier and heavier until she could no longer keep them open. In his warm embrace, she fell asleep in his arms. It was one of the best night’s sleep she had ever had.
The following morning, they both awoke as the sun made its early appearance. Breakfast was ordered and was quickly delivered. Aria was a bit surprised that he took charge of getting the morning started, but he was the Captain and was used to being in charge. She didn’t mind, in fact she was excited by his strength that was about him. He always knew exactly what he wanted and was able to get it.