Sylvia had, once again, made the mistake of looking away from Wander for more than five consecutive seconds. Which meant that he was now missing without a trace.
How had that fuzzy orange weirdo survived before she'd met him?
Meanwhile, Wander was making friends. It didn't matter that they were mean-looking, or in a rough-around-the-edges neighbourhood. All that mattered was that strangers were friends that he'd not yet had the pleasure of meeting.
And right now, he did what he always did. Help.
The smaller version of most of the denizens here was struggling with their burden. Clearly more than they could carry.
"Hi there, friend. Let me help you carry those."
His new friend looked skeptical. "What's the catch?"
"No catch at all. Like I tell my friend Sylvia -oh, you should meet Sylvia- it never hurts to help. How far have you got to go, friend?"
"I ain't your friend. And I can do this by myself."
"Well, then I'll walk with you... Company always makes a tough task lighter."
He hadn't gone five more steps before the heaviest of the bags became his to carry. Wander chattered whilst his friend was more guarded. Talking about the sights and experiences without a frame of reference or time scale. He had, after all, been wandering for quite a while.
His new friend was called Max, and they were taking the week's food home before someone else used the money. People had a knack for using money when they never had enough of it. Wander could understand their plight. But he knew better, by now, than to just uplift them to the level of their dreams.
Better to help in small ways, there.
They were almost to Max's crowded place when a brace of local toughs approached them.
More new friends! Wander smiled. "Hey there! Nice day for it."
"You take these bags off'a my bro?" growled the biggest and meanest-looking of the gang.
"Oh no such thing. I was helping him take them home."
"'S right, G," said Max. "Weirdo was doing a good deed."
"You all right, weirdo."
"Call me Wander. Lots of people do."
He spent an educational ten minutes learning their handshake, and another twenty doing little odd jobs, here and there. Then Sylvia turned up.
She was in her usual state of panic, and landed on him in a hug. "Wander... please stop giving me heart trouble, buddy?"
"What's the trouble? I was just making some new friends?"
"Weirdo-bro's all right," said Max's big sister. "You ever need our help, just call. K?"
"Are you kidding? With the Greebo-keth?" Sylvia raved. "That's the roughest, toughest, meanest gang in the entire star system!"
Wander was certain they were folks just trying to protect them and theirs from a harsh universe. He did try to teach Sylvia. But she was still learning how to let go and be friendly all the time. At least she got to have a good tea party with Max.