Aura gazed searchingly into the Senator's eyes for a moment, then she realized that his arms were still around her. She took a step back, suddenly unsure how to feel about the proximity. "I think it's… it's time to go now," she whispered, not really knowing what else to do or say.
He released her, but said, "Please stay a while longer. I won't be here tomorrow."
The idea of enduring another full day without him so soon made her spirits sink. He was the only person on the planet who really wanted her there, after all. "Alright."
"Come, we need to talk." He sat back down and motioned for her to join him. She complied rather timidly. From the moment she embraced him they seemed to be on a new level of closeness. It was a bit awkward, but somehow delightful at the same time.
"I need to know why you don't trust me."
"I want to trust you…" she began earnestly.
"But… things got off to a bad start, and trust is one of those things that must be earned," she answered without looking at him.
"What would it take to convince you?" he asked, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear.
"I'm not sure," was her sad reply.
He thought for a moment. The irony of the situation was that if Aura had been a Romulan woman, they wouldn't be having this conversation. There would have been a meeting of the minds, an emotional connection. But since she was not Vulcanoid, it probably wouldn't work. Then again, it was worth a try at least.
"Aura, if you'll permit me to try it, there might be a way for you to understand me better."
"What do you mean?"
"You've must have heard of the Vulcan mind meld?"
"Yes, of course. Are you saying that Romulans can do that, too?"
"Well, no. Not exactly. It is not so precise as that. It's more of…" he searched for the right words, "an emotional bridge. The Romulan race is descended from the ancient Vulcans, and all Vulcanoids have natural telepathic abilities. We simply do not waste our lives meditating and developing them like the Vulcans do. As a result, we are not so adept as they are in this matter, but I think you will agree that it is a fair exchange for the ability to live with emotion."
"I could not imagine a life without it. It seems pointless to me," she agreed. "But how does this work, exactly?"
"It would be easier to show you rather than tell you," he said, taking her hand. "But I am asking first because, if it works, it could be an overwhelming experience for you."
He looked down, and for the first time Aura saw his face tinged green in embarrassment. It was kind of sweet, almost endearing. A far cry from his usual haughtiness and intimidating stares.
"You should also know that this is only ever done by lovers, and while it is not my intention to take advantage of you, I can think of no other way to show you that I am sincere. Shall I proceed?"
She thought about it for a long moment, then nodded.
The senator matched her left hand with his right, palm to palm. With his other hand he lifted her chin so she would look him directly in the eyes, then he caressed her fingers several times. Nothing. He matched both hands, concentrated, and waited. Still nothing. In one final attempt, he held one of her hands against his face and traced her face with the other hand. He stopped and shook his head. "It's not working."
There was no telepathic exchange at all. Aura felt nothing, aside from her own quickened heartbeat. Vreenak's face went green again, and after an uncomfortable pause he said, "It is getting late, isn't it? I'll…uh, bring you back home now."
He may have felt awkward and embarrassed at the failure, but in Aura's own opinion, this attempt was not totally without merit. The fact that he was willing to try and establish trust through some sort of mental or emotional bridge showed how deeply he cared. She began to feel a new level of respect for him.
Once again, they walked arm in arm to her door.
"Goodnight, or maybe I should say jolan tru," said Aura, setting the tablet in her pocket to record.
Recovering his usual attitude, Vreenak favored her with a smile, then said what registered in her mind as, "Faedheu, arh'lyretha. Veisaan tohr cunaemn, later I hruuhi your heart. Later we annha, ecimae t' we hrhae good day u'flaeon aeiiht."
"Don't stay away too long," she said, stepping inside. She'd got him now. In a few minutes she'd know what it meant.
"I'll try, but I've got your people to look after now, don't I? In addition to my own."
She beamed at him and hoped that somewhere deep in his heart, under all of that cultured conceit and political scheming was a good man. If he wasn't, she was beginning to like him too much for her own good. "Thank you for keeping an eye on them for me."
"A small price to pay for your regard, my lady." She'd never looked at him like that before, and he couldn't help but gaze back into those captivating brown eyes flecked with green and gold. Hazel, the humans called it.
"My sister will keep you company while I'm gone."
"You will make it to your own party, won't you?" she teased.
"Without a doubt." His expression changed and she knew he was about to say something quirky. "I'll see you later…alligator."
It didn't fail to bring a smile to her face. "After while, crocodile."
When he was out of earshot, she sighed and said to herself, "I wish I knew what you were up to, and that you didn't have to go so soon. I already miss those pointy ears… and those fluffy eyebrows." Those Romulan characteristics were his best features, in her opinion.
"Try not to die of heartache," he called without looking back.
Aaaaaah! He heard it. "You! Get going you scoundrel!" She had half a mind to pick up a rock and toss it at him.
He laughed and was gone.
After shutting the door she scoffed, then laughed heartily. That villain. He was always pushing his luck. She'd have to think of a way to get him back for that one.
Now! The translation. She went over to the living room and turned on the light to read it.
Her breath caught in her throat. "Oh my gosh…" she whispered, putting one hand on her face and the other over her heart.
Rest now, true one. Whatever it takes, I will win your heart. Someday we will marry, then we will say good night and stay together.
The last part… she read it again and felt her face burning. She'd known all along that he felt that way, but to hear it spoken in his native language like that… and to know that he'd been saying that or something similar every night… it was so incredibly romantic! That was why he was saying it in Romulan. He wanted to express his feelings, but she had asked him not to speak of marriage yet.
She fell back and gazed up at the ceiling. Is this love? She wondered. He was always on her mind now, and she'd come to realize that she craved his attention. But when she got it, he vexed her so much that she was never quite sure how she felt about him. It was terribly confusing.
There was no way she was going to be able to sleep tonight.
That night, Vreenak also found it difficult to sleep and paced around in his room. Several notable things had happened that evening. Besides that, his conscience (and he did have one) was bothering him, which was a rare occurrence.
The senator stopped pacing for a moment to reflect on the two things that stood out most.
The first was the unsuccessful attempt at forging an emotional connection. He was rather disappointed that it hadn't worked, but he'd also known from the beginning that this was a possibility and he was willing to accept it. He was too far gone to give up now. The Romulan heart simply did not work like that. He loved her, and if humans could live without a telepathic connection to their spouse then so could he.
The second was the incredible moment when she'd rushed into his arms and kissed him. He smiled and closed his eyes to recall the moment more vividly. He so wanted to return her kisses, but that would have given his little act away.
That was the part that bothered him most, the emotional game he'd played this evening. It shouldn't have, though. He'd done much worse before in his career and would likely do so again. But this was the first time he'd not been totally honest with the woman he loved, the one person who'd always been honest with him, as far as he could tell.
It had worked wonderfully, and he even managed to embrace her for the first time. But his conscience insisted that it just wasn't right to manipulate her like that, and he should refrain from such theatrics in the future if he ever intended to be worthy of her trust.
Yes. He should have been better prepared for an obstacle like that, which was bound to come up at one time or another.
He went over to the desk and played back the "wedding" conversation that was recorded earlier. He could see that she had put on a brave face for her friend. Hmmm. Catherine had been an ally up until this point, but now she was unwittingly throwing a wrench in the works. Aura had agreed to stay for now, but she was clearly disappointed at not being able to go, and these feelings would only be renewed each time she spoke to her friend as the event drew near. It was 10 days from now. A lot could happen in 10 days.
What could he do to mitigate this? It seemed the couple had decided to change the date because of the war situation. Perhaps he could pull a few strings and get the Trill reassigned. That shouldn't be too hard. What else could he do?
He smiled to himself and made a call. When the recipient answered, she jumped back in shock. "Senator Vreenak?"
"Hello, Catherine. I'm sorry to disturb you, but I think it's high time you and I had a little chat."