****Cross posted from Theta Sigma Stories****
Owen Reinhardt heard the timer go off for the roasted vegetable mixtures the students had ob broil in the ovens. He had been doing very well so far, following instructions today after over spicing his banana loaf last week so it was almost inedible. They key now was in maintaining his cool when it was time to puree these veggies and seasoned the soup they would be making. No experiments. He waited his turn in taking his little shallow pan from the oven and grabbed an oven mitt.
Their teacher, Mrs. Baldwin, passed by as she did her rounds and supervised each group “Owen you need both hands protected. Use two mitts please dear.”
Owen nodded at her “Yes Ma’am.” But all the other mitts were in use. He’d just be careful. Of course he could wait for another student to be done with theirs and pass him another one but he wanted to get the stuff and move onto the next step at a work station. He reached for the pan and stepped on his shoelace, tripping himself a bit so that his pan started to fall as it slid out. Without thinking he reached out with his bare hand to try and catch it with both hands and yelped as the hot metal made contact with the flesh on his thumb and pointer finger. The pan fell to the floor as he jumped back in pain, holding the burned hand with the oven mitt protectively.
Mrs. Baldwin was back in a flash and started steering Owen to the sink “Cold water, deep breaths. Let’s take a look now….”
Owen looked at her stubbornly and held onto the hand. The searing sensation was horrible and maddening though and he really just wanted to scream.
Mrs. Baldwin was stern but her eyes were kind “Owen….come on now. The cold water will offer relief.”
Reluctantly he stretched out his arm, the hand already beginning to bubble on the side of the thumb. He winced as he put it under the tap but the cold water did help.
Mrs. Baldwin frowned at it “I do have some first aid for burns of course but that’s a pretty bad one. I think you should go to the school nurse. She can administer painkillers.”
Owen looked panicked at the suggestion. Strange doctors and nurses terrified him. His real fear, his deathly fear, was needles. It always had been. His parents had to hold him down as a child for vaccinations and as he had gotten a bit older, he didn’t need restraining but often just fainted. He was in a strange school far from home now and the last thing he wanted was to faint in the nurse’s office. Mrs. Baldwin’s voice washed over him like the adults in the Charlie Brown movies. He was aware that she was still speaking, handing him an ice pack and directing him to this dreaded room that would surely be filled with needles wall to wall and floor to ceiling. He nodded at her as if he understood and meant to comply, taking his hand off holding the ice pack momentarily to sling his backpack over one shoulder and exit the Foods Lab.
Owen wandered the hallways for a few minutes thinking on what to do. Thinking was hard because he was really in absolute agony. He passed the metal shops door and heard clanging and folding. He passed the wood shops door and heard a band saw followed by a familiar laugh. Fiona. Fiona! She could help him! He looked in the little window on the door. She was at a desk close to it. He could see the back of her head. She flipped her long black hair and said something morose to her boyfriend Vincent. Owen knew that tone in her voice very well. Vincent smiled at her in amusement but he was facing the door. Owen began to wave madly at him and point to his sister.
Vincent DiAntoni found he was doing pretty well in woodworking, even though he could so easily hurt his hands. Besides, Addison and Fiona were also taking the class, so ... stick with your friends ... when you had them ... and they were real. Now it was almost over and he could joke more freely. He was more relaxed this week, even with the surprise move.
Fiona made a joke and he laughed and looked up to see Owen in the doorway, looking ... frightened? Hurt. He reaches out calmly to touch Fiona's shoulder. Once she gets her attention, he begins to walk towards the door towards Owen, knowing Fiona will follow. And possibly Addison as well.
Addison O'Brian also looked over and followed. She was, after all, Fiona's best friend and had known Owen since he was a baby.
Fiona was looking back down at her collection of wood slats after kidding around, lining them up and assessing when Vincent touched her shoulder and then walked toward the door. She saw Owen's face through the window wincing. She knew that face. He was hurt! No matter how much she seemed to revel in torturing her younger brothers, if either of them got hurt she automatically became the kind loving big sister that had taken them by the hand to their mom when they had scraped knees from pavement as little kids. She looked back and saw Addy following too and nodded at her as the three snuck out the door.
Owen was holding the ice pack to his hand still and mumbled "Thanks." to Vincent as he, Fiona and Addison came to him. Carefully and with a little whimper, he pulled back the ice pack to reveal the burn. It was looking pretty bubbly and gross and it throbbed "It's my fault....but I don't wanna go to the nurse."
Fiona grimaced at the burn "Oh shit Owen. I think you need one....I can go with you."
Owen put the ice back on and sighed with a tiny bit of relief and then said resolutely "No. I wanna go home."
Fiona sighed and then nodded "OK...but if that looks infected, I'm taking you to Dr. McKinney later, no arguments." She looks at the clock on the wall and frowns "I guess I'm sneaking out a little early...but I have Tylenol in my bag. I'll go get it."
L has her head down as she works on her project. She looks up at the commotion now dark hair in her way. She readjust the clip in her hair to get a better look. Spotting what looks like is Owen. She furrows her brow in concern at the boys' plight. She is hesitant and ops to look on with concern with her new friend's brother's trouble
Vincent quickly decides his role is to help buck Owen up a bit. They are the same physical age, but Vincent is older and Owen is younger ... each for different reasons. He looks at the burn and winces. "Yea, you better have that looked at. I don't think it's a 1st degree, but ...." he shrugs. "It happens when you're cooking, sometimes." he doesn't get into how he can tell burn degrees at his age. "But Owen ... you'll get cremes and a bandage." he offers. "VERY cool, dude." he glances over his shoulder. "We'd better get going if we're going to catch the ferry."
Addison whimpers ... she has had enough sickness for a while ... and enough of Dr McKinney ... who she loves but after her father, if she never stepped foot in the clinic again ... it would be too soon. "I'll cover for you, Fi." she offers. "And go back with L." she smiles at Owen. "I'll bring some cupcakes to your bedside. I promise."
Fiona gives Addison a quick hug and makes a request "Can you...uh ask the teacher for some extra instructions?" She winks knowingly "While we sneak our schoolbags out of there? I'll get yours Vincent, and your coat....one person sneaking is easier than two. Stay with Owen for a sec?"
Owen watches Fiona moving to creep back in for her and Vincent's things with Addy. Did she say cupcakes to his bedside? He looked after her dreamily as she retreats and then sees L through the door as it opens and blinks like his brain is imploding. Girls were still so confusing to him. Girls, sort of girls, sometimes girls? He couldn't muddle through that in his head with all this pain right now. Vincent had said something about creams and bandages and he eyed him warily and said defensively "And needles. I fuckin hate needles."
Fiona returned quickly and looked for the closest exit before they were spotted "Boys....to the right. Walk casual like we have a spare."
Addison nods and heads for the teacher, asking questions and demanding a desperately detailed explanation and, if needed, asking for more. For a redhead, she could play the dumb blonde role to a T.
Vincent chuckles and looks at Fiona with a nod about his bag and coat, then looks back to Owen. "No needles with burns, man. Not unless its REALLY REALLY bad like half your body bad." he smiles. "Just think of something else. And forget about the pain."
Owen tries to think of other things as they walk to the ferry and get on. He replays a boss fight with the Joker in his head from the Lego Batman game but that doesn't take the edge off. He imagines taking the hill to the bottoms on his skateboard like he's been wanting to try but that just makes him anxious and in pain. Owen daydreams of pizza. Mmmm pizza.....gooey cheese and pepperoni. Ow, still there, dammit. He's running through every good thing he can think of in his head Rocky Road ice cream, surfing, running barefoot through the mud in the rain, girls. Girls? Addison brushing out her hair on his sister's bed at a sleepover, the family of many blonde giggly German sisters at the beach last spring, chasing him and splashing him, L smiling at him in Sigh even though Fiona was calling him burrito brain. She still smiled. She? Except she was he then....did the smile still count? It was still a smile. His brain hurt. His hand throbbed. Sebastian! Maybe Sebastian was alive and living a great life under someone's porch, free, happy and hairy like he was. He blew out a big breath. There was a lot of something else to think of and the pain was still not forgotten.