Ronnie looked around his room and tried to get a bearing on his surroundings. The bed was made with military precision and a navy blue throw blanket bearing the Syndicate emblem laid across it. Next to it was a small pile of clothes: a grey t-shirt sporting the same logo, and a pair of black athletic pants. Maya had also left him a towel and a toiletry kit. He grabbed everything, exiting his room towards the showers.
The bathroom was a continuation of the sleek white and chrome that the rest of the building had been, and bright overhead lights gleamed off of every surface. Ronnie was unsurprised to see that the dorm wing was quiet and that he had the shower area to himself, as surely everyone living there was already fast asleep. He carried his belongings towards a changing room but caught his reflection in the full-length mirror that hung on the far wall.
“Holy shit,” he whispered, getting a look at himself for the first time since the ordeal. His left eye was already red and swollen, and there was a cut above his eyebrow. Taking off his shirt, he could see multiple red areas along his shoulders and chest as well as more dried blood.
Brushing his fingers over one of the spots made him wince. “This is going to bruise so bad,” he thought. The parts of him that weren’t injured were muddy, and he couldn’t help but feel embarrassed about the first impression he had given everyone. He looked at himself in the mirror a while longer. Ronnie had always been shorter than other guys his age, but the last growth spurt managed to stretch him out a little. That, however, had come with its own set of issues. Nowadays, he felt a little too gangly, too uncoordinated, and too pale to be what anyone would call attractive. Nothing more than ordinary. He sighed, “You look just like the kind of guy who’d get his ass kicked in a back alley. Not at all like a superhero,” Silver Cyclone must have thought he looked pathetic when he arrived, all beaten up and dirty.
He quickly undressed the rest of the way and stepped into the warm shower. The spray was a little painful at first but quickly became soothing. Ronnie stood directly under the showerhead, his sandy hair covering his eyes in thick wet strands. He closed his eyes and focused his breathing as the hot water cascaded down his shoulders, determined to wash away the memories of the evening.
After finally managing to relax a bit, Ronnie turned the water off and reached for his towel. His body still radiated heat from the shower, and he was surprised as to how much better he felt. He pulled on the pants that were left out for him and quietly made his way back to his room. Ronnie wondered about the people sleeping on the other side of the doors that he passed. Had they also found themselves thrown into this world after showing up battered and bruised in the middle of the night? What sort of abilities did they have, and did they start as terrified as he was now? And finally, would he ever fit in amongst this group of incredible people?
Ronnie waved his keycard in front of the console at his door, and it slid open just as before. He collapsed onto the bed, and the linens felt fresh and soft against his bare skin. There was still so much to figure out, and he still concerned about his father waking up at home to find him gone. Sleep took him before any worry had a chance to linger.