"You're a walking wonder." Castillo's face relaxed as he took his seat in the mess hall. He looked around, eyes playing across the layout of the area. "Where is this?"
"Intrepid-class, USS Voyager," he responded with just a tinge of excitement in his voice. It was rare that he had a chance to show anyone this place.
"A Starfleet vessel?" Castillo looked at him questioningly. "I thought you said this place was home."
One stepped out from behind the counter, an apron wrapped around him. Upon seeing him fully, Castillo's face flushed as he tried to suppress a smile. One cocked his head to the side. "This is my home. Where I was born. Where I died."
Castillo's smile turned into a frown. "You died here?"
You have miscalculated. Adjust conversation parameters. "I chose to die here," he corrected, hoping his word choice would make his friend feel better. The word "died" had brought forth a number of unfavorable physical reactions for Castillo.
Castillo stared at him for a long moment, a frown affixed to his face. "Why?"
One stepped back behind the counter and stirred his stew, careful to apply just the right amount of force as to minimize the chance for spillage. "Did I chose to die?"
Visibly uncomfortable, Castillo shifted in his chair, leaning forward, both hands clasped together. "You could have lived. That's what I heard, anyway."
One adjusted the dial of the left burner, turning it down to a simmer as his right hand added in a special ingredient. "I chose to die to protect those I cared for. To protect my family." Unbidden, images of his last moments aboard the real Voyager appeared before him, each second recorded to perfection.
As with every time it happened, he paused the playback before Seven's final words. For as many times as he had seen it and relived it, he could not bring himself to hear her last plea. The anguish on her face was enough.
"You barely knew them."
One stopped his cooking. The stew was done. "Our time together was ... short." He took a ladle and scooped out a serving size of his stew, pouring it slowly into a bowl. His olfactory senses indicated that he he had achieved the proper balance of spices.
Castillo leaned back, shoulders slumped. "And you died for them when you could have survived."
One took the bowl over to his friend, setting it before him. From his apron he pulled out a spoon and a napkin, setting it to the left of the bowl. "Doing so would have increased their odds of death greatly. They were safer without me."
Castillo stared into the soup, his thoughts somewhere - where, One was not sure. "I guess it doesn't matter how long you're with some people; some people just matter from the moment you meet them."
"Yes," One responded simply.
Castillo took his spoon and sipped the soup, a small grin at the corner of his mouth. "Thank you."
One smiled. "You are welcome."