As the weeks passed, Aria slowly recovered both physically and mentally from her capture and her loss. Quietly, rumors of the baby and the father’s identity ran around the ship, which made parts of her recovery all the more difficult. The two lovers had not visited the other’s bed in passion since Malrata. Jean Luc understood her need to slow things down and respected her emotions and gave her the time to heal. She got back to duty at a reasonable speed and her department grew to include her friend Gaza and two others.
Four months had passed since they returned home and Aria was to have dinner with Jean Luc to celebrate her birthday. She figured they would eat dinner and enjoy each other’s company that night in her quarters like they had been doing almost every night since they had returned to the ship. He showed up at her door, exactly on time, as usual. And Aria, as usual, was running late as she did for most of her social appointments.
“I’ll be out in just a minute,” she told him from her bedroom.
“Take all the time in the world, my dear,” he replied. Aria could hear him pacing in the other room, which was not like him at all. He called to her after a few minutes of silence, “How was your day?”
“It was okay, busy, like always. I can’t imagine how I got along without my staff. I found out we are going to the Doth system to investigate an anomaly.”
“Yes, we have been told that there could be large amounts of dircadium there and Starfleet wants us to determine how much is there and the quality of it.” Aria appeared in the doorway, wearing her gray dress with the spaghetti straps. “Oh, Aria. You look absolutely beautiful. Happy birthday,” he said as she came up to her and kissed her.
“Thank you,” she replied.
“This is for you.” He handed her a small box. She opened it and found was a beautiful necklace. On a golden string hung a sapphire pendant circled in diamonds.
“Jean Luc, it is beautiful. Thank you,” she said with excitement as she kissed him with appreciation. Jean Luc saw a twinkle in her eyes, which he had not seen as often since their ordeal. He helped her secure her new necklace around her neck.
“Shall we go?” he asked her.
“Go? I assumed that we’d…” she said confused.
“It’s your birthday. We deserve a night out, not hiding in your quarters.” He guided her out of her quarters, holding onto her hand. She was nervous heading outside the safety of her quarters with him, but it also exhilarated her.
They made their way to Ten Forward. Upon entering, all of her friends yelled ‘surprise’ which caught her off guard. He placed his arm around her because her feet had frozen to where she stood and they entered the room together.
“Did you arrange all of this? For me?”
“Yes, with the help of your staff. This is all for you darling.” He kissed her on the cheek.
Aria thought it was so nice that her friends and Jean Luc would throw her such a wonderful party. Her staff had been planning this behind her back for weeks without her knowing. Later in the evening, Gaza brought out the cake and everyone insisted she should say a few words.
After putting up mock resistance, she began, “First of all, I want to thank everyone who helped plan this, behind my back. My staff will pay for keeping this secret from me and will be punished accordingly.” Everyone laughed. “Seriously, thank you everyone. You all know I have been through a lot and there is no way that I could of gotten through it without the love and support from the wonderful friends that I have made here on the Enterprise. I think of all of you as more than friends, you are my family.”
Everyone cheered as she drank to her guests. Aria finally began to feel whole again as she saw her friends rejoice with her. The worst was over and her future lay before her. Aria could never forget the little boy she lost, but had begun to realize that no matter what she had done; there was no way to bring him back.