Those five minutes were one of the longest of his life. He felt so responsible for her condition and was afraid of loosing the woman he loved.
When the Enterprise arrived, Aria’s condition had begun to worsen. Tractor beams brought the shuttle in and Picard opened the shuttle doors for the awaiting medical staff almost before the shuttle touched the deck. Dr. Crusher and a few other medical staff rushed in and put Aria on a hover-stretcher and whisked her off to sickbay. He could see that there was a lot of blood on the bunk where she had been laying. So much that he was more worried than before. One of the techs stayed back and checked over Picard. He suggested that the Captain report to sickbay for treatment for his injuries. Jean Luc headed straight to sickbay with the tech more to check on Aria’s condition than repair his own injuries.
Inside the sick bay, Picard could see Aria’s frail and damaged body lying on an exam table with a flurry of medical personnel around her. A nurse came up to him and helped him onto another exam table, treating his injuries especially the damage from the phaser hit as well as the damage inflicted by the Romulans.
“How is Lieutenant Swenson?” he asked the nurse.
“It looks pretty serious, but she is getting the best possible care, sir,” she told him. “You’ll probably be able to see her after she gets out of surgery.”
The Captain was worried about her. While he was waiting to get any kind of word about her, Commander Riker entered and walked over to him.
“Sir, how are you?”
“I’m fine now. I got beaten up and caught a phaser hit in the shoulder. Once we left the war bird, I passed out. Swenson was able to stabilize me and got us on a course to get us home. I’m afraid she isn’t doing too well. She took a lot more abuse by the Romulans. Swenson had broken ribs for several days before I found out not over an hour ago.”
“She’s a tough woman, sir. I know she will pull through.”
“I hope so,” Picard said as he kept his eyes on the team working on Aria.
“Sir, why did the Romulans capture you?”
“Besides the fact that I was in a shuttlecraft, I really do not know why. They were trying to get me to talk, asking about the Chowattas. They were trying to break us.”
Another doctor checked over the Captain and released him. She told him that before he could go back to duty he had to come back for a follow up visit in a few days. Both Picard and Riker stayed until Aria was out of surgery, trying their best to keep out of the way.
Coming directly out of the surgical area, Dr. Crusher went over to the two men that were waiting anxiously for any kind of news. She looked worn out but had information to help settle them both.
“She will be okay. There was extensive tissue damage and had to remove her spleen and repair her liver and kidneys. The reason she passed out was because she miscarried her baby. She was less than a month along. Recovery will be rough but she will get through it. Would you like to see her?”
“Yes, please,” the Captain said.
She took them over to Aria’s bed where she was slowly coming around.
“Aria, Aria, we made it back to the Enterprise,” Jean Luc said leaning over her, close to her face. Riker was only a few inches from the Captain.
Weakly she said, “We…made…it? I…can’t…believe…it.” Her words came out slowly but clearly.
“Believe it Aria. You’re in sickbay and you had surgery. They were able to repair your injuries and you are going to be fine. Dr. Crusher told me that you lost your baby. Did you know you were pregnant?” He looked deep into her eyes with much sadness but tried not to show it in his tone.
“Not …really, but… I sort …of …had a …feeling… something …was… different when… I… couldn’t… keep …anything …down.”
“Aria, we are glad you are back with us. You gave us quite a scare, kid,” Riker said to her.
“Thanks… When’s… the… next …poker… game? I …hope… you… haven’t… gotten… used to… winning… while… I… was… away,” she responded.
They chuckled at her joke.
“Okay, that’s enough. Aria needs her rest. You both can come back tomorrow and visit,” Dr. Crusher told her concerned visitors.
The two men said good-bye and left sickbay.
“Doctor?” she called after the men had left the room.
“Yes, Aria. Are you in any pain?” the doctor responded.
“I’m…. really… sore, but I… need to… know, how… am I, really?”
“You were in real bad shape. We had to remove your spleen and there was some damage to both you kidneys and liver. We also were able to repair your broken ribs. There was no serious damage to your uterus, so you should have no problems having children later. The bruises left should heal in the next few days. I am truly sorry for your loss, but you need to get some rest.”
“When… can… I… get… out…of… here?”
“If nothing goes wrong, sometime tomorrow. It will be a few weeks before you are fully able to go back to duty. But one step at a time now.”
“Thank… you… for… everything, but… doctor, if… you… could… not… say …anything… about… the… baby. I…don’t… want… too …many… rumors… running… around.”
“Certainly, the only ones who know are my staff, Commander Riker and the Captain. Do you want to tell me who the father is, so I can let him know?”
“No…. I… will… tell… him.”
“Okay Aria. Now you do need to get some rest. We will talk more tomorrow.” The doctor gave Aria another blanket and a light sedative. Aria quickly drifted off to sleep.