“I know it is late, but are you busy?”
“Sir, I am always busy but never for you. I am at your disposal.”
“Good, I was wondering if you were available to discuss ideas for the celebration for the crew?”
“Certainly, sir. I’ll be right there. Just let me get back into uniform.”
“That isn’t necessary. It is after duty hours.”
“Then I’ll be right there, sir.”
“Good. Picard out.”
Aria’s heart raced. She checked her hair and decided to let it down and finger combed it to give it a bit of volume. After checking and re-fixing her make up, she grabbed her data recorder (padd) and headed up to the Captain’s quarters.
On her way up, she ran into Tom in the turbolift. He looked surprised to see her for a second time that night.
“The Captain called when I got in and wanted to meet with me about something,” she explained.
“You are always busy. I’m glad there you had some time for me.”
“Yes, me too,” she said as the turbolift came to a stop and opened their doors for her. “Tom, please give me a call later, okay?”
“Sure. Good luck with your meeting.”
Aria started down the hall and turned around and waved to him before the doors had closed as she then hurried down the hall to the Captain’s quarters. Outside the doors, after she had rung the door chime, she stood tall but her stomach was doing flip-flops.
“Come,” she heard and the doors opened for her.
“Captain, you wanted to see me?”
“Ahh, yes Lieutenant. It is nice to see you again. I’m glad you were able to come so quickly.”
“Thank you sir. I know you are busy and that your time is precious.”
“Yes, it is. Please, sit,” he directed. “You look very nice this evening. I hope I am not keeping you from someone.”
“No, not at all, sir. I had just gotten back to my quarters when you called.”
“That’s a shame.”
“What’s a shame, sir?”
“A date ending so early.”
“He’s a nice guy, but I’m so new on the ship. Plus, I have a lot to get caught up on, sir.” She had not intended to reveal that much to the Captain, but she felt she had to tell him she was not serious about her date from earlier. Aria was amazed, she was actually feeling stronger emotions for the Captain that her date, Tom. He had noticed how nice she had looked but figured that he was just being polite. She pushed those thoughts out of her head and sat down at the far end of the couch, the furthest side away from the Captain.
Picard had also changed from his uniform and wore a pair of loosely fit pair of sand colored pants and a natural fiber, gray shirt. Aria thought he looked so handsome and so at ease. She felt tightly wound when she was in his company and with both of them dressed so casually, it made everything worse for her.
“Sir,” she began. “I understand that you want a celebration for the fifth anniversary of the Enterprise and all of her crew.”
“Yes, everyone has worked hard and has served their ship. I think they are entitled to some fun together.”
“Okay and you had said that I have two months to arrange everything. That should be no problem. The first question I need to ask you sir, is how involved do you want to be in this project?”
“I would like to help you as much as possible. We should meet every few days to work on it.”
“Certainly, sir. Now, what kind of event were you thinking of?”
“We have had many parties on Ten Forward. Have you been there yet?”
“Yes, sir. I just had dinner there tonight.”
“Very good. On this date of yours,” he said. Aria blushed and hoped it did not show.
“Sir, I think Ten Forward would be too small for an event this size. I think we have one of two options, either a cargo bay, which I would not recommend, or the hollodeck.”
“Okay,” he agreed. Picard stood up and began to walk around. “Tea?”
“Oh, yes, thank you Sir,” Aria replied a bit startled so she began taking notes on her padd and tried to get her brain in gear. “I was thinking, Sir. If we went on a bit out on the edge and made this a themed masquerade ball?” She waited for his response. She could not see the reaction on his face because he was still facing the replicator.
Turing around to face her, Picard, somewhat deep in thought, “That sounds intriguing. We’ve never had anything so elaborate before. Continue,” he said putting the tray of tea down and sat inches away from her. She tapped on her recorder and looked up just as the tray was put down. His proximity startled her and he noticed.
“Lieutenant, please relax. You don’t need to stand on such formality,” he said as he gently put one of his hands on her knee.
“Yes sir, I’m sorry. I’ve just never been in a commanding officer’s quarters before,” she lied.
“That would explain your change from last night. Please, relax,” he poured them both a cup of tea.
“Thank you, Sir,” she said as she took the cup from him and focused on the task at hand. “Now, the flagship of Starfleet needs to be celebrated with the grandeur that she deserves,” she started. “I was thinking that we should go with an Elizabethan period setting and instruct all attending to dress in a courtly style, like lords and ladies.”
“How did you come up with that?”
“That’s my job, sir,” she said with a smile.
“It sounds very original. Please continue.” Picard smiled at her.
Aria continued, telling Picard of what she envisioned for the event. He seemed quite pleased with her ideas. She already had everything planned out in her head. All she had to do was to make it a reality.
For a second night in a row, they talked late into the night. They wondered off topic for most of the time. They spoke of literature and the theater, which they both had a great appreciation for. Aria discovered that they had a lot in common and she liked that. It was rare that she met someone with as many similar interests as she.
When Aria got up to leave, Picard walked her to the door, placed his left hand at her elbow and said, “Aria, I am looking forward to talking with you again.”
“Thank you sir. So am I. I will give you a status report in a few days and we can set up our next meeting. Thank you again for your hospitality.” Aria shook the Captain’s hand, with his other still at her elbow. “Good evening, Sir.”
“Good evening, Aria.”
The doors opened for Aria and she left the Captain’s quarters. She felt that if she had stayed there one more second, she would have possibly done something she would of regretted.
Back in the safety of her quarters, Aria was a wreck. Her heart was pounding and she was out of breath. All she could think of was the captain and his gentle touch and the way he looked deep into her eyes as they said good night to each other.