First Impressions

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Holding his suitcase in his quivering hands, Darren stood in front of the door to his room. With a furtive glance back at the teacher, who disappeared into the stairwell. He stood there staring at the door for what felt like hours, but the closing of the stairwell door jolted him into motion. With his stomach twisting upon itself, Darren lowered one of his suitcases to the floor and clenched his right hand into a tight fist. Darren raised his clenched timidly reached out to rasp on the door. The moment before his hand could rasp the door, his hand froze.

Yanking his hand away, Darren's fingers flew to his suitcase as the door swung inward. A stocky boy half a head shorter than Darren gasped in shock, "Oh!"

"Hi," Darren said, taking a step away from the door.

The brown-haired youth grinned as he extended his calloused hands, "Hello, I guess you're my new roommate."

"I guess I am," Darren mumbled as he eyed the boy's hand.

"Are you okay," the boy pulled his hand back. "My name's Maxwell Creegan," the boy said, tapping his chest with two thick fingers.

Swallowing the sudden lump in his throat, Darren rubbed at his chest creaking, "You're a dwarf.

Placing his hands on his hips, Maxwell glared at Darren and growled, "Do you have a problem with that?"

"I've recently been bullied by a dwarf," Darren said as he took another step away.

With a wary eye, Maxwell stroked his beard before he re-offered his hand. "Judge me based on my actions, and I'll do the same for you."

Darren bit his lip as he stared into Maxwell's brown eyes. Slowly he lowered his suitcase and took Maxwell's offered hand, "I think, I can do that, Maxwell."

"Good," Maxwell mused as he pulled Darren into him. Gripping the taller boy, Maxwell asked, "What's your name?"

Gasping for breath, Darren wheezed "Darren... Gilbert..."

"Oh," Maxwell croaked through a fierce belly laugh. He released his grip on his new roommate saying, "I'm sorry about that, Darren." Picking up the suitcase Maxwell clapped Darren on the back almost pitching the unsteady boy to the ground. Maxwell didn't notice that as he tossed the bag onto the empty bed, "We haven't had a new student in years."

"Given the desired abilities, that doesn't surprise me," Darren muttered as he gingerly placed his other suitcase on the bed. "Am I disrupting you?"

"Nope," Maxwell answered. "My roommate just graduated, a couple of weeks ago."

"That doesn't make a lot of sense," Darren muttered as he started to pull out some clothes.

"Don't worry about the clothes, Darren," Maxwell said as he reverently placed the stack back into my briefcase. With one free hand, Maxwell pointed to an opened closet saying, "Most of the clothes I came with are still packed away in my own suitcases. And to answer your other question, with limited space they assign people wherever they can fit us."

"That still doesn't make a lot of sense," Darren complained as he closed his suitcase.

Maxwell clapped Darren on the back again, only Darren's pressure against his suitcase kept him on his feet. Maxwell barked a laugh asking, "Did you want to settle in or the tour first?"

Looking at his suitcases, Darren whined, "I guess I'm settled."

Maxwell bounced his head in affirmation, "I suppose you are." He leapt to the door saying, "Well then I guess I get to give you the tour."

I took another look at my suitcases but nodded and followed the gregarious dwarf out of the dormitory. Maxwell pointed at the far building on the right across from the grass field, "That's the martial arts dojo. Next to it is the aquatics center."

"Aquatics?"

"Yeah, eventually you'll spend a lot of time there." Maxwell pulled Darren down so he could whisper, "Though you'll always spend time in the dojo." Standing back up, he continued down the line of buildings, "The next four buildings belong to the teachers."

"What about the building next to ours?"

"The woman's dorms," Maxwell answered.

I turned back and pointed at the large building to our left, "What about that one?"

"That's the building that holds every other class that isn't in the other six buildings," Maxwell answered as he guided me back into the dormitory.

"Everything else?" I asked as I followed Maxwell up to the second floor.

"Everything else," Maxwell confirmed. "Including the cafeteria."

"I saw a kitchen downstairs," Darren countered as the boys entered their floor.

"There is," Maxwell looked around the floor for any prying ears before adding, "don't use it."

"Why?"

Because you have to get permission," Maxwell answered as conditioned. Though as he opened their door, he bounced his palm off his forehead and added, "You can use the fridge and the sink." Once I entered the room, he closed the door before he continued, "And you can use the microwave."

"Hold on..." Darren said as he grabbed Maxwell's shoulders. "What can't I do in the kitchen?"

"Cook a meal," Maxwell said. "We eat meals as a group in the cafeteria no exceptions. Don't forget that, Darren."

"Thanks, Max."

Maxwell scrunched up his face like he bit down on something sour. Shaking the look off his face, the dwarf asked, "Darren, why did you call me Max?"

Darren looked at the dwarf and smiled, "I'm sorry about before."

"You've had a bad experience," Maxwell responded. "You shouldn't let that color your dealings with people in the future. But why did you call me, Max?"

Darren walked over to Maxwell and offered the dwarf his hand, "I hope we'll be friends."

"I think we will be," Maxwell replied as he gripped Darren's hand.

"In that case for simplicity you're a Max," Darren replied, pumping the dwarf's hand.

"Sounds good to me, D," Maxwell said with a smirk.

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