Strangely, Hector knew exactly what Ibai was talking about. In his lonelier days, he’d often pondered the nature of companionship himself, and indeed, he’d reached a similar conclusion. There was something different about the approval of others, of strangers. It vindicated one’s existence, perhaps. That was what he’d come to believe, anyway.
But he certainly hadn’t expected to be reminded of that now of all times.
Hector still didn’t know how to respond, though. No one had ever been so direct about asking for his friendship before, but he wasn’t sure how he felt about becoming someone’s token black friend, let alone an aberration’s token black friend. His gut told him there wasn’t much harm in it, but even still...
Garovel spoke up in his stead. ‘We would love to be your friends.’
Hector gave the reaper a look.
Ibai’s eyes lit up. “Really?!”
‘Sure, why not?’ said Garovel. ‘You seem like a nice enough fellow--and not a bloodthirsty psychopath. People who aren’t bloodthirsty psychopaths are my favorite, you know.’
“Is that so?! Well, that’s just wonderful!”
‘Oh, and I’m sorry that my buddy here is so quiet,’ said Garovel. ‘It’s nothing against you. He’s like this with most people. He’s super shy, you see.’
“Oh! Shy! That explains it! Aha!” He gave Hector an even bigger smile, somehow. “I was afraid that you hated me! Wow! That is such a relief, then. Whew.”
Hector could only wonder where Garovel was going with this.
‘We heard all about you from Chergoa. She’s my sister, as it happens.’
“Wow, that’s amazing! I’d love to talk to her and Emiliana again! They were so nice!”
‘I’m sure they’d like that,’ said Garovel. ‘By the way, how old are you?’
“Oh, I’m thirty-five. Why?”
‘Ah, no reason. I’m curious to know how long aberrations have been around. I wasn’t familiar with your kind until very recently. It’s just that the last aberration we met was only about twenty years old or so.’
“Ooh, what was he like?”
‘Not nearly as pleasant as you, to be sure. He hurt a lot of innocent people.’
“Aww... I’m sorry to hear that. I suppose I should have guessed. What happened to him?”
‘My buddy here killed him.’
Ibai looked to Hector again. “Did you, now? Hmm. Was that difficult?”
Now there was a question that Hector wanted to answer. “Not so much so that I wouldn’t do it again.”
Ibai’s smile waned for a second, but then he broke into a laugh. “You’re kinda scary! I bet you’d get along with Uncle Mel!”