Juggling Acts

Communal Apartments (5 3)

Sokolof is sitting at a table in the common area. The work day is over so he, and many of the apartment's other residents, have drifted back after their day's labors. He is alone at the moment, playing with a deck of cards. Generally they are used to play the Bridge-like game of Preferans in the evening, though at the moment he's involved in a more Solitaire-like endeavor. Card is drawn, small piles of cards already on the table are studied, card is placed. In general things in the communal house are quiet. The workers are only just starting to return home and dinner's not yet ready, so there are only a few with any reason to be in the common area just now.

Novikova is one of those returning home. She works the surplus store, selling seeds and odds and ends to enterprising growers. She's likely here to help with dinner too, being young and all that. She's lugging some flour to put away. She smiles, seeing Sokolof and disappears into the kitchen to deposit her cargo. Novi re-emerges nand peers to watch, "Who's winning?" She jokes lightly.

Making his way in from the outside at the end of his working day, Mikhail looks a bit lost in thought as he steps through the door. Heading in the general direction of his door, rather slowly.

Grigory shuffles into the communal room and has a look around. Seeing that no one from the government has been sent to apprehend him, he makes his way to Sokolof's table and removes his coat before having a seat, "Evening, Effim." He then nods to Zoya.

Maschenko has been occupying the kitchen for the last thirty minutes on the dot. Posted outside that area of their space is a sheet with slots for names and times when one's expected to be using one of the stoves or faucets - 'L. Maschenko' was slotted into this one. The Ukrainian heads out of the kitchen, cradling a cup of tea in one hand and rubbing his elbow with the other, casting an irritated look back over his shoulder. "Fucking thing."

"At the moment, somehow, I am losing to myself," Sokolof replies rather sardonically to Novikova. It's quipped with a half-smirk. He toys with one of the cards between his long fingers, dithering over where to place it in his one-man game. He's seated at a table, engaged in some Solitaire-like endeavor. The work day has ended so he, and many others, are returning to the apartment following their day's labors. Novikova and Mikahil among them. At the sound of his name, Sokolof looks up to offer Grigory a nod and polite smile. "Grigory. Good evening. How has the day been with you?"

An impish grin. "That is pretty rough," Novikova is the silly, youthful type it seems. Poor bastards stuck with her. She nods politely to Mikhail. "Hello there," Best to be polite right? And a nod back at Grigory. Maschenko gets a sidelong look. "Are you alright?" Peer. She stands on her tippy toes, curious now. What COULD be fornicating back there? "I hope you're doing alright?"

Mikhail pauses for a few moments as he hears the voices. He shouldn't have expected nobody to be home at this time, right? "Hello, everyone," he offers, after a few moments of pause. "Everyone's had good days, I hope?"

Grigory scratches at his scruff and replies to Sokolof, "Eh…" He chuckles and leans back in the chair, stretching, "Didn't get any writing done. Having a hard time finding inspiration." He picks a dirty rag out of his pocket and starts to wipe ink off of his fingers, "And the stupid typewriter jammed up." He looks back as Maschenko as everyone else does.

"Sergey Pavelovich has got his shirts hanging on a nail by the larder again," Maschenko informs Zoya. By way of the empty air, which is what it looks like he's really talking to. "What a place to put a fucking nail." He thumps down in a chair near Sokolof, cradling the tea so it doesn't spill. "But someone found oranges, if you can believe that. There's eight of them in there." He lifts his chin to the arriving Mikhail.

Sokolof looks distinctly uncomfortable when Grigory mentions his writing. It is not a subject he pursues beyond muttering, "Yes, well, some days are like that." He's a cigarette going in the ashtray near his elbow. It is lifted in his long-fingered hands and smoked of deeply. "Problems with your typewriter? I can look at it for you, if you think it's a mechanical difficulty. They are not terribly complicated machines, though the small parts inside make them touchy." A general greeting is offered all around to those filing in. His head turns with interest at Maschenko's report. "Oranges? I hope you are not joking, Luka, or I shall take it as a great cruelty."

"What? That's positively hazardous," Zoya pouts a little. "I might ask him to find another place then if people get hurt on it," She rubs the back of her head. "You didn't get any scratches though did you?" If there's any rust on that nail! Badness! She lets the others sit first, deferring to her elders. "And oooh, oranges?" Perk. "That's really good luck," She tilts her head. "I hope." She wriggles her fingers a bit. At the mention of his writing, Zoya goes into a quiet sort of staring mode. See no evil, hear no evil. She just shrugs it off. "Maybe some orange juice would be nice sometime."

Grigory spots Sokolof's cigarette and craves one himself. He slips the pack out of his pocket and slips away his dirty rag. He lights it quickly with his lighter and takes a long drag off of it. Smoke trails from his mouth as he says, "I guess you could check it out." A shrug at the man as his attention is now mostly on his cigarette. He looks incredibly fidgety as everyone quietly judges him on his political views.

"Would I lie to you?" Maschenko asks Sokolof with the appropriate dramatic lilt. And promptly goes on before the man can answer that. "Kapitolina Matveyevna probably got them from the market, you know her son works there. They're in the bin, so I doubt you'll have to wash her socks to get one." He pulls his ankle up over his knee, settling as comfortably as one can on the battered cushion. He twists his arm and glances at his elbow, which is welling just a hair of blood in a very thin line. "No, it's fine. If I die of this, I probably deserved it. How was the market today, Zoyenka?"

"Oranges?" Mikhail pauses for a few moments as he hears that, glancing over in the direction of the kitchen for a few moments. It seems he has chosen not to have heard the part about Grigory's writing, or maybe he didn't hear. Sort of hard to say with Misha once in a while. Glancing between the others for a few moments, then over in the direction of his door. Then back to the others, for a few moments.

Grigory sets his cigarette down in the ashtray and chuckles at Maschenko, "Da, if a rusty nail brings you down…God doesn't like you, I think. Or maybe rusty nails are your Achille's heel." He slips a flask out and takes a quick swig of it before stowing it away. A true Russian. He may not can afford food, but he is never without his vodka.

"And maybe loose lips are yours, Comrade Zaizev," Maschenko replies, raising a dark brow at Grigory as he blinks at the man. "I would be a little careful if I were you, hm? Friendly advice." His voice is casually lowered, at that. Stalin's atheist state and mentions of God have never gotten along. He blows on his tea and hazards a sip. It's only been steeped a little bit, the teabag left in for about a minute before being passed off to some mother who wanted some of the same cheap blend.

"Certainly," Sokolof says with a shrug to Grigory, his face carefully blank. If he's any particular opinion on Grigory's political views, he's not about to be too open about it. Though he does wave a wrist at his words. "Superstitious nonsense. If a rusty nail brings you down, it is infection, not some myth." Though, he is more interested in the oranges at the moment. "Anyhow, have we enough fruit to share with dinner?"

Zoya listens patiently then. She isn't judging Grigory, she just has a more neutral stance. She tilts her head. "Well…" Shrug. Then she peers over at his arm. "I can at least wash it for you," She offers. That doesn't look like a happy cut and she frowns. "It was alright. I brought home some flour for what that is worth," Smile. "But that's all for a good while," Sadface. "'s in the kitchen," She motions. She takes a deep breath. She'll sit around near the others. "And infection is icky, God or not," Zoya notes. "Dead is dead. And ooh… I'd like that."

Mikhail's face hardens a bit at the mention of the dead, although he doesn't say anything at the moment. Glancing over in the direction of the kitchen for a few moments again now. Staying silent for now.

Maschenko pffts at the repeated focus on his arm, wiping his elbow off with his fingertips. "A scratch. And if I die of tetanus it'll be the most exciting thing that's happened in here in weeks." He laughs under his breath, taking another cautious sip of the hot tea. "You know, Efim, I think there just might be. You know Kapitolina Matveyevna, she always hauls enough around to smother envy." Like a good communal citizen. "Zoyenka looks about ready to run in and start right now." He gives the young woman an amused grin. "Maybe she'll juggle them for us first."

Grigory almost rolls his eyes at the denouncing of religion, but decides against it. He nods to Maschenko and says, "Sure. I've got no idea what you mean, though. I write children's stories." A grin and another drag from his cigarette. "An orange does sound lovely right now. Juggled or not."

Sokolof continue to show absolutely no inclination to ask about the details of Grigory's writing. Continued mention of it just makes him smoke more and distance himself farther from the topic. A half-smirk is crooked. "Juggling and oranges would make fine enough entertainment to pass the night. Would make a pleasanter evening than I have had for many weeks time."

Zoya sighs. "I'd be kind of sad because I'd have to scrape you off the floor," There are hazards to being one of the younger residents and that's getting chores passed down. She turns red at the amused grin. "Maybe! I had to help carry lots of things," Finger gestures for emphasis, she's a lively one. SHe's happy to depart from the awkward topic of religion. "She does. She's very kind," Nod. She seems impressed at any rate. "And ah! I can juggle them if you like, but singing is out of the question." She winks.

"Don't worry, Zoyenka. Efim will do that part." Maschenko volunteers the hapless teacher with a smirked grin that shows off his teeth. "Well let's have it, then. The circus, right here in Stalingrad. They're in the bin." He points past Zoya's shoulder into the kitchen, where the poor fruit await their mortification.

"Any kind of entertainment would make evenings pleasanter," Mikhail offers a little bit lightly at Sokolof's words. Glancing over at the continued mention of juggling, he shrugs a bit, "Well, someone mentioned orange juice at some point, didn't they?"

Grigory stands up from the chair and slips his coat on, "I think I'm going to go ahead and claim my average before you folks start flinging them around." He swipes an orange from the bin and moves to step back outside, "I'm going to go scrounge up some inspiration." A wave to the folks inside and he steps out. A moment passes and he steps back in to take his cigarette from the ashtray before leaving once more.

"What! I wouldn't fling them at people," Zoya shakes her head vigorously in protest. "That would be just rude. Although it might help them eat it faster I guess," She shrugs. A smile. "I'll fetch them for you when you're ready then." She beams. She lets Grigory go without protest and waves. "Good luck. Don't write too hard. I heard a man's hair caught fire once that way. Though it would perhaps mean I'd have to deal with one less grumpy professor." Hmmm.

Sokolof raises a hand to bid Grigory a good evening, but the man is gone before he can muster any words. He shakes his head. "That fool shall wind up tossed in a hole if he does not learn some sense," he mutters. Mixture of concern and more than a bit of surprise at the flagrant display. A snort to Maschenko. "You think to get my share by me throwing them at you as well, Luka? It shall not work. Besides, it has been years since I have sang. I wonder if anyone in this place has a violin. Or any instrument to make decent music, really."

Maschenko's light blue eyes follow Grigory out, one eyebrow hitching up. No answer about that one. But he looks back at Efim and smirks, bracing his tea cup on his leg and patting down his shirt pocket for his cigarettes. "If that's your idea of charity, then fuck it. I'll starve." But not go without nicotine. The Ukrainian doctor's found his pack and his matches, and pauses to strike one of the latter. It flares and dies, leaving behind the wispy scent of sulphur. "Are you still studying, Zoyenka? How's that going?"

"Well, it's time for me to retreat for a little while," Mikhail offers with a bit of a shrug, before he looks between the others, "Need some rest for now. I will see you all later."

"When I can, yes. I come home for summers and if they need me to work. Then I study over the mail," Smile. Zoya seems enthusiastic about it. "But I've learned more about wheat and plants than I thought possible. But I am enjoying botany very much. People like the flowers and food we grow," One eye closes. She looks to Solokov and grins. "I would be shocked if there weren't something. I'll keep my eyes out. There might be a balalaika in storage or soomething," She considers. A shrug. "Oh well. I'll help start dinner and fetch the oranges. Though, I won't juggle them if that's unsafe." She'd hate to give someone a black eye after all. Or waste oranges.

"Do pobachenniya, Mikhail Vladmirovich." Maschenko mutters out the farewell in his more natural Ukrainian. "Be well, comrade." He takes a drag off the cigarette, squinting through the smoke at Novikova. "Good. Someone needs to enjoy something in life. It can't all be dull." As for the oranges, he waves a hand. "Unsafe? What, have they got razors in them? I was looking forward to that."

The work day is over so a good many of the communal apartment's residents have drifted back to it as the evening draws closer. Most are currently gathered in the common room area. Sokolof, for his part, is seated at a table, smoking, and neglecting a one-man card game as he talks with the others. A soft chuckle to Novikova. "So long as you do not bruise them greatly, I think we would forgive you. Such things are so rare, I will take them as I can get them." A parting wave is offered to Mikhail.

The work day is over so a good many of the communal apartment's residents have drifted back to it as the evening draws closer. Most are currently gathered in the common room area. Sokolof, for his part, is seated at a table, smoking, and neglecting a one-man card game as he talks with the others. A soft chuckle to Novikova. "So long as you do not bruise them greatly, I think we would forgive you. Such things are so rare, I will take them as I can get them." A parting wave is offered to Mikhail.

Mikhail turns to head off into his room now, whistling a bit of an ominous melody as he makes his way over there. Not long thereafter, the door closes behind him.

"That's true. And no, someone could get a black eye," Zoya is obviously joking there. "Some of the lessons are kind of tedious, but it's not so bad. And I don't mind coming home to work sometimes." She's a dutiful kid at least, in her credit. She waves at Mikhail. "Be well," Nod. "And no, no razors. Those are too important too. At least, so no one gets mistaken for a bear or something." Sagenod. Either way, Novikova moves to make good on her word. Juggling oranges and help starting dinner. She'll probably help wandering in and out of the kitchen, lest she get underfoot of the older women. But still, it seems she can juggle pretty well. "Ta da~ Now I just need a unicycle or a bear maybe."

Vladmir frowns shifting from where he's sleeping on the couch. He frowns, stretching out his arms as he fully awakes. He opens a beady eye, scanning the room. He watches the man named Mikhail leave, and listens to the others speak before sitting up, frowning.

That kitchen's always a noisy place. Aside from people who have booked their time on one of the stoves, someone's always sitting about doing their work, or preparing to cook, or just sitting about. Indeed, just as Zoya heads for the door there's a burst of angry shouting coming from inside, and Maschenko can't help a smirk. "Nail two." He holds up a hand, fingers circled. "Stalingrad zero." He scratches that hand tiredly through his dark hair and sticks the cigarette back into his mouth as the woman starts juggling their precious orange reserves. "Well shit, look at that. Fine university training." He chuckles under his breath. "Well done, Zoyenka."

"Most lessons are tedious," Sokolof says to Novikova with a slightly crooked grin. "Learn them by rote as well as you can. That is all most teachers expect, really." Does he sound a bit mournful? Perhaps. "Concentrate on the work. If you find enjoyment in that, you are most fortunate." He turns in his chair to observe the juggling, first looking surprised she actually went and did it, then laughing and giving it an appreciative clap. "Well done, indeed! Better than a circus, Comrade Zoya."

Nowakowski quietly steps out of the kitchen, gently wiping his hands on his little apron a bit as he goes to find himself a seat on one of the empty couches, leaning back and closing his eyes a moment, stretching out his legs slightly.

Zoya blinks at the angry shouting. "Ack. Someone should move that nail," Frown. "I think I may pull it out later, if no one minds," She offers. Zoya returns though, aand grins. "Thanks." She nods. She chuckles as they do. "I think that's true." She is apparently the sort who will happily jump on a dare. Darn kids. Eventually she stops though and hands them each an orange. "Here you go, comrades." Smile. "And I will. I do work hard at it because - not everyone has a job yet or gets to study. Soon that will change I hope," And alas, poor mournful teacher. She does seem to enjoy it. Zoya is the type who could enjoy paint drying if she had the motive to. She smiles and waves to Nowakowski. "Hello there."

No comment about those that may be unemployed. That, like religion, is often glossed over in large company. Maschenko reaches over and ashes his cigarette, lifting a hand a little to Nowakowski in greeting. To Zoya: "It's Sergey Pavelovich's nail. He put it there, he should move it. Should be using a damn clothesline, like everyone else." He retrieves his cooling tea and takes a sip of the very weak liquid. "What is it you study anyway, Zoya?"

Nowakowski raises an eyebrow at Zoya, smiling just a little and returning the wave, giving Maschenko another little nod in recognition. The older man dosen't say anything though, just sitting back in the couch, kicking his feet out and slumping, sighing with relief.

Sokolof does some more constructive smoking, also mum on the subject of unemployment. "He hangs them near the stove, I think, so the heat will dry them faster. I would sooner not have his laundry near my meals, however." Nowakowski is noted, and offered a raised palm of his hand in a wave. "Comrade Aleksei. How do you find this day?"

Nowakowski sits forward a little as he is addressed, "I am fine, Efim." he says casually, "Trying to can more foods before the fresh things go bad…. need all the food you can get in these times."

Vladmir once again, Frowns. He speaks up, from where he sits, "Killing the Fascist Nazi bastards is our job." He stands, moving to the kitchen only to return with a glass of water moments later. He leans back, twisting his spine, again stretching.

Zoya will give her orange to Nowakowski. "Here, comrade," She smiles. Zoya doesn't comment any further.. "I guess he should. I'll tell him. That makes me unhappy if people are getting hurt." Likely she helps put bandaids on them. A shrug. "Me? Botany!" She beams. "I learn a lot about plants, growing them and that sort of thing. It's practical," She smiles. A nod. She looks between the group. "If you'er thirsty, you should probably let me know before I sit down," She offers. A greeting to Vladmir as she passes the oranges to those once she stops juggling. "I brought flour today, mister." A smile to Nowakowski.

Maschenko exhales a coughed rush of smoke at Vladmir's interjection. Well then. "Right you are, comrade," the doctor replies to that, easily enough. Zoya gets a head shake, a motion to his tea. "I'm fine, thanks Zoyenka. Botany, is it? That is practical. One day you'll be helping make half those things we use at the hospital, you know." Sokolof gets a smirk after that. "Soon you might be /eating/ his laundry for your meals. Though I don't know if that'll be a lesson more to him or to you."

Nowakowski grins at Zoya, taking the orange with a smile, "Thanks." he says, "Flour did you? Well then.. I might have to find some use for that.. though I don't usually do my baking for a few more days… getting the oven heated just right takes so long.. it is harder than one things.. especially when you want to make proper bread.. will have to find some yeast.. or I could do pastries… hmmmm…"

Sokolof nods to Nowakowski. "Such is prudent. At times it feels like I live most on canned goods. But, as you say, they do not go bad. I do miss fresher things, however." A long look at those oranges. A swift turn of his head to Vladmir. Surprised by the remark, though he doesn't disagree. "I trust to hope the city shall hold. Moscow has held out, after all, and we are made of sterner stuff than they."

Vladmir finishes his water, placing his glass down. He takes the orange with a nod to Zoya. He peels one and takes a piece, eating it. He chuckles at Sokolof. "My father used to tell me about the Sieges of the First World War, when he was forced to serve the Tsar." A spit to the ground at the mention of the Tsar, "He thinks that we should be able to hold Stalingrad, and I agree; our future depends on it." He takes another bite of the Orange, smirking. "Hitler will rue the day he attacked our Comrades in Poland."

Nowakowski begins peeling his orange, absently setting the peels aside to use in the kitchen no doubt. "Their bombs will hurt you far more than anything at first… that was what happened to us in Spain." he says, more to himself than to anyone else in the room it seems. "Their bombs and their tanks."

Maschenko snorts at Sokolof's remark about Moscow. "Bloated bastards." The oft-repeated term for their northwesterly brethern is nonetheless endearing. As much as that can be. He reaches up for one of the coveted oranges and mashes out his cigarette, blowing out the last feathery stream of acrid gray. His blue eyes look up at Nowakowski from under his dark brows. "You were in Spain, comrade?"

Novikova smiles and nods. She listens for now. She takes a deep breath. "Really?" They've seen it before? Her eyebrows lift. She seems in awe of her elders here. "I think so," She nods. Then a smile at Nowakoski. "I diid. I work at the surplus and help distribute seeds, though the seeds are slow this time of year," Sigh. "Either way it is stored safely in cabinets," She remarks quietly. She goes quiet at the mention of spain and the war. She will sit and eat her orange too then, since no one seems to need a drink.

Sokolof spits on the floor at mention of the Tsar, then takes a long drag on his cigarette. "I was but a child when the Revolution came. I remember some of it a bit, however. My father fought with the Reds. He was a man of courage, and convictions, in those days." There is pride in his voice, but it sounds partly hollow. He does not dwell upon the subject. Eyes go to Nowakowski. "Spain? Of there, I have heard few stories. What was it like, my friend?"

Nowakowski begins seperating the little orange pieces, popping one into his mouth and munching quietly. "I was… years ago…. it was a long time ago.. and very far away." he says quietly, glancing towards Sokolof. "There was a lot of street fighting… every house was a fortress… very brutal.. and very close…"

Maschenko digs his thumbnail into the orange peel, starting to rip it open with care. The citrus smell of it tingles the nose, a wistful scent of fresh cleanliness. As he tears the peel, he pulls off half the orange flesh in a neat semicircle and reaches over, offering that to Sokolof. Not that there aren't enough oranges for all, but he does it anyway. His attention's mostly on Nowakowski, listening with interest. "How long did you stay there with them?"

Vladmir puts down his orange, turning to Nowakowski. He offers a hand, introducing himself, "It is an honor to meet you Comrade. I heard much about the battles with our Comrades in Spain. I am Vladimir Ilyich Appo." He looks at the man in awe, hand held up to be shaken.

Novikova smiles at the citrusy smell. "I like how plants smell…" She admits. She is content to bask in the treat though, such things are rare. Her hazel eyes are bright and cheery though. At least until she hears about the war. She lifts her head, to lift and listen. She tilts her head, looking sympathetic towards Nowakowski. Though it's apparent Zoya is too young to remember probably. "I am honored to hear your stories, Comrade," She remarks gently.

Sokolof takes the bit of orange with a soft thanks to the doctor as he listens to Nowakowski. It is, perhaps, not the prettiest fruit one could hope to find. But he savors it, handling it with care, eating it each piece slowly. As if it were something quite precious. He even stops smoking so he can enjoy the taste properly. A grimace at the cook's words. "It is, indeed, an honor. Though it sounds a horror to have endured. Truly you are a hero, however, going so far away to fight for the People."

Nowakowski nods to Maschenko, "Three years." he says rather simply, giving Vladmir a little smile as he reaches to shake the man's hand. He remains silent as Sokolof speaks, shaking his head, "If they come for this city.. it will not be pretty… many will die… though we found it was best to fight on our own ground, using our own methods… than to fight the Fascists openly… stubborn defenses that take away their advantages… whittle away their morale…."

"Shame what happened there." Maschenko's lips thin at the thought of such things. His Russian is flawless, though accented — the doctor's Ukrainian and sounds quite strongly like it. The orange pieces are held onto for the time being, peel set down next to him where it can be returned and used for other things. "But not for want of any more blood of ours. I salute you too, my friend." He scratches his chin and frowns, nodding to Nowakowski. "If they do, I'm pretty damn confident at least man in here will know how to take them down. You think they will try it, Comrade?"

Vladmir returns the smile, stepping back as the man begins to talk. Vladimir scratches his hair, frowning as he listens. "Surely we will do better on our own homeland; We do not have to wait months for Tanks, weapons and ammunition." He grabs his orange, and takes another bite, enjoying the taste with a grin. He removes his cap, running his hand through his thick hair, before returning the cap to it's place.

Zoya settles in to listen. She grins at Vladmir. Novikova's grin fade as she hears the talk of war. She is slowly eating her orange. "I see," She murmurs. She frowns. Even that sort of thing is a bit troubling. She takes a deep breath. "It's an honor to meet the people who shape history themselves," She notes. Sadly, Zoya is unaware of the irony here. She shakes her head. She saves her peel bits too. "I learn a lot listening to you."

Nowakowski shrugs to Maschenko, "It will be rough in the beginning.. it always is…. watching your home destroyed… learning to shoot a man…. You will have to learn to use your brains to defeat the Fascists…. twist their tactics against them… fight a different war than they are used to."

"They shall come, one way or another. It seems only a matter of time now," Sokolof says, with a grim sort of fatalism. "But, yes. The Army shall stand against them, as they have elsewhere in the country." If he doubts this at all, he manages not to show it. Another slice of orange is popped into his mouth. As he swallows it, his eyes go back to Nowakowski. "You think they will get that far, friend? To our very homes?"

Those in the room old enough to remember the Revolution and the ensuing civil war should find the sentiments less than alien. Maschenko turns his eyes down to the orange, finally peeling one of the wedges off. "Our luck to be guarding the reserves of the east, eh Efim?" A slight smirk at the teacher, then he eats a piece of orange and looks back across the room as he chews, interested to hear Nowakowski's answer to that.

Zoya will share her orange if anyone is short or extra hungry. Her eyes widen, listening. Killing people? Invading homes? A little shiver "That sounds really awful," She wrinkles her nose. "I hope it won't come to that. I could throw a potted plant or a textbook at them maybe," She considers. For her part, Novikova is listening thoughtfully. She listens and looks to Nowakowski now.

Nowakowski nods towards Sokolof, "They will come… Stalingrad… after all.. bears the name of our glorious leader… they will come.. their bombs will fall on our city…. this apartment?" he pauses to sweep an arm around, "Will turn to rubble.. the whole city will be rubble… the Germans brought their planes and tanks to Spain.. I have seen them before… at Valencia.. they bombed and shelled the city for days, weeks.. months… the whole city suffered."

It is past the end of the work day, coming on evening though not quite dark outside yet, and many of the communal apartment's residents have returned home from their day's labors. Sokolof, like most of the others, is gathered in the common room and listening with rapt attention to Nowakowski as he speaks of Spain. As they listen, most are eating bits of fresh oranges. A true rarity. Maschenko's smirk is returned. "I believe no more in luck than I do in any other superstitions. So I would say we've none." A shudder as Nowa goes on. He looks up at the ceiling, as if picturing it in his mind's eye just now.

Maschenko snorts at Sokolof, quietly. "I believe in the oil behind us. And so will the Fascists. Feel dirty just imagining we might think the same on one fucking thing." He eats another piece of orange, sucking the last of the taste off his thumb. Even that can't be wasted. His blue eyes go back to Nowakowski, watching the man. "And they came on foot after the bombing, is that how it happened?"

An unfamiliar woman appears in the doorway, boots thunking to a stop. She looks like hell. Her hair is a mess and she looks like she just walked quite a distance in her uniform - which is dirty and beat-up too. She timidly stuffs her hands into her pockets and dips her head to the gathered tenants. "Allo. I was wondering if I might be able to find a place to stay?" Her eyes lift hopefully back to the small group.

Vladmir turns to face the woman who has entered. "There is not much room here, but you are welcome to find a spot if you can Comrade." He turns back to the discussion at hand; "The Fascists will arrive here, and when they do we will beat them back." He seems sure of this, "And afterwards, we will push them until they are out of Germany, and then we will push them out of France, and into the Atlantic; Then we will help our Comrades in Spain. Comrade Stalin will see to this, I am sure."

Nowakowski hardly seems to show the candor of the younger lads. "Yes, They will send in their infantry and their tanks.. their tanks will become bottled up in the streets.. they are not very good at fighting there.. grenades and submachine guns were the best for that sort of fighting… we used to run down hallways, pitching grenades into rooms as we passed before the rest of the men would flow in after to finish them off while they were still stunned."

Novikova turns to the newcomer. She blinks. "Hello there. Um. You don't have a place?" This seems puzzling. She offers a wave. "You should probably come inside at least. I guess you can share with me," A shrug. "I'm not that big." She offers. She listens to Nowakoski's stories though. Her eyes are wide at all the war stories. She even offers a slice of orange. "These are scary stories…"

Maschenko is about to respond to Nowakowski when Sveta shows up on their doorstep. Distracted by the man's story, he nevertheless manages to tear his attention away. "Afternoon, comrade. You don't have your papers with your assignment?" He's busy chewing on orange, which muffles his words till he can make himself swallow. "Uh." He glances up the hall, then back, then at Sokolof. "Didn't Iosif Nikolayevich get re-assigned a couple days ago? She might be in his slot, no?" His accent is close to Sveta's, distinctly Ukrainian.

Sokolof is chewing on his last bit of orange. Still savoring it. Though he looks up and over when the stranger appears. Ever a curious sight in the communal apartment, where everyone mostly knows the business of everybody else. He stands, politely. "Good day, Comrade. A place to stay? Were you given a room assignment here? I think we've one or two empty. One of the girls married last month and her place has yet to be filled. Or had." A shrug to Maschenko. That's his best guess as well. He looks to Nowakowski, suppressing another shudder. "So you think it shall be like your Spain all over again?"

Sveta dips her head to Novikova and Maschenko. "Thanks. I was just told to find a place here by my CO. I just wasn't sure what is taken. I appreciate it." A nodded thanks to Vladimir as well and she steps outside the brush off her uniform and kick the dirt off her boots before moving back inside and looking around. Everyone seems to be paying attention to Nowakowski, though, so she keeps herself quiet. Eyes search for a reflective surface but fall back on Maschenko. A smile tickles the edges of her face. "Where are you from?" Always good to hear a local in a strange land. She keeps her voice down, though.

Nowakowski nods to Sokolof, "It will be like that.. but worse… the Fascists will bring all their planes and tanks… and infantry… we were fighting Spaniards and some Germans in Spain.. not all Germans.. and these Germans have fought before.. they know what they are doing… or at least think they do. We should prepare though, store foods… reinforce basements.. best place to hide during a bombing attack… and prepare the ruined buildings for defense."

"Kiev," Maschenko offers, ineloquently. "Have a seat, comrade." His chin makes a vague motion towards the collection of couches and chairs. Ragtag, like they were each pulled out of some separate dwelling and tossed in here without regard for taste. "Luka Andriyevich Maschenko. I'm a physician." He nods at Sokolof. "Efim Sokolof, teaches at the tekhnikum. Zoya Novikova, she studies plants. Comrade Nowakowski is telling us of Spain, and this comrade here…" He jerks a thumb at Vladmir, mildly apologetic. "I'm ashamed to say I wasn't listening, but I will this time."

Novikova shrugs as Sveta doesn't seem interested in a slice of orange. She is eating very slowly now, eye wide at all the stories. "I hope it is not like Spain. I was told a little but not from someone there," She admits. She shakes her head. A beam as she's introduced and waves. "I'm a student and I work at the surplus store when I am at home. We sell seeds and stuff," Sagenod. "Welcome to our humble home. Dinner is cooking," She remarks quietly. "And Kiev huh?" neato. She is content to listen.

Vladmir shrugs his shoulders, "It is fine Comrade. My Name is Vladimir Ilyich Appo. It is nice to meet you all." He offers a wave to the group as a whole. "I used to live in a farm not so far away from here, maybe 15 kilometers." He shrugs again; "The Fascist bastards changed back, didn't they?" He has a grim look on his face.

"We live here, Comrade," Sokolof replies to Sveta. "Your C-O?" He frowns, eyes going back to Nowakowski, and he lets out a sigh. That does not bode well. To the woman he elaborates, "I teach some of the technical classes. In electronics, mostly. It is a fair path of service for those who want more than factory work, but cannot get a spot at university. I have lived in Stalingrad some ten years now." A look to Novikova. "Have we anymore oranges, Comrade Zoya? Perhaps our new comrade would care for some."

Nowakowski grins, evidently the only old salty soldier amongst the gathering, "Commanding Officer…" he says for clarification, "I did not know we were organizing units though… I have spent too much time finding food and cooking it seems." he laughs.

Sveta nods to Maschenko. "Aw. I love Kiev. I used to spend a few weeks a year there." She nods around to all the introductions and lifts her hand. Dirty fingers waggles to them all meekly before she settles on the arm of a nearly couch. "Sveta Kornakova. I guess you could say I'm a housewife? I was from Kharkov, though." She clears her throat and looks around for another mirror or something before looking to Sokolof. "Ah. That sounds like a lot of fun. Im afraid its a little beyond me, though." But hearing people question her, she blinks. "We were trying to resupply Kharkov and they cut our units off. We were told to try and make it here."

Maschenko has nothing to say on the subject of his ex-home. He eats a third slice of his orange and sets the rest down on the table, a silent invitation for anyone that wants more. His cigarette pack's dug back out, a smoke fished from inside. "Kharkov?" He looks back up, quirking a brow. "Been there a couple times. Well met." A pause so he can strike a match, starting the flow of gray smoke towards the ceiling. The pack too is then tossed on the table in the same manner as the orange. "Whole regiment in, then? Shit."

Novikova eventually finishes her orange. She will set the peels with the others though. Waste not, want not and all that. She nods. "There are a couple left," She offers. "I can grab one if you like. I think dinner should be ready soon enough, though I dare not get underfoot." She shakes her head. Zoya is not eager to anger any housewives! She smiles at Sveta. Novikova seems friendly, if a bit impish. "That's alright. The world needs housewives to go round," She notes. "Units?" Headtilt. Is it … coming to that? "I study and work and umm, try to keep my room clean so my neighbors don't thump me again." She sticks the tip of her tongue out comically at the memory. "Oh well." She's getting better about it. "See, he's really smart. Electronics is so not my expertise. I got electrocuted once, it kind of hurt." And Zoya lived through puberty … how? A shrug.

Nowakowski grins as he stands, "Yes well.. I am sure someone will need help in the kitchen, I will be back." he says, gathering up the orange peels and the remaining half of his orange, standing, "See you all in a few hours I imagine." he says, nodding towards the group before heading off to the kitchen.

Sokolof curses under his breath at Sveta's reports of why she came here. Done with his orange slices, he lights up another cigarette. "Fun?" That description of his job is met with a wry laugh. He clearly does not agree, but it's not a point he argues. Happy worker as one must be in all things, is Sokolof. A snort to Novikova. "Were I smart, I'd have gone to university and made a proper account of myself. You've already bettered me, Comrade Zoya." He offers her a faint smile, and gives Nowakowski a parting nod. He does not hinder the man cooking them all food.

Maschenko looks up as Nowakowski moves. The younger man stands up most of the way out of his chair for the goodbye, some silent token of respect. "Keep well, Comrade Nowakowski." He stretches out while he's up, that sunken chair having cramped the hell out of his back. Smoke spirals from the end of his cigarette.

Sveta shakes her head to Maschenko. "Nyet. Most of our unit was cut off inside the city. I think they just bypassed it and plan to wait them out before trying to move in too far. There was a lot of fighting on the outskirts, though. Complete anarchy." At least she sounds educated. There is a small smile for Novikova as the woman seems to have trouble getting out of her own way. "Don't worry about it. I wasn't a very good one. I was probably slated to serve a different purpose." Her eyes settle on the orange, though. Even the slices are eyed before they are gathered and whisked away. "May I?" she asks a little too eagerly.

"Suppose so, just watch out if you go into the larder. There's a nail sticking out," Novikova wrinkles her nose in some annoyance. "Be well." She stands up too, and bobs her head. A shrug. "I am grateful for my opportunities and work hard," Because she does seem sensitive to the fact she's lucky. She smiles at him. "I think you're very proper, degree or not," Nod. "You don't get zapped like me…" She notes wryly. Either way, there's a good deal of respect for the teacher. And his not getting electrocuted. She sits after a moment. A frown. "That's alright. I guess sometimes you have to find your calling. And I think so," She nods. "If not, there's one or two left." An inclined head.

"Please," Sokolof says as Sveta eyes the slices of fruit. "They are quite good. Still fresh. A rare pleasure. It has been…damn. Months since I have been able to get fruit that did not come out of a can." He retakes his seat, working on his cigarette since he's enjoyed what he seems to think is his 'portion' of the oranges. His smile twitches a bit wider, and he offers Novikova a wink. "The secret is to wear gloves, Comrade. The rest, just a matter of memorizing the diagrams."

"Fucking nail." This is Maschenko's very helpful addition to Zoya's warning. "He better get that fucking thing out of there." His cigarette's ashed with this bit of frustration in mind, and stuck, with a minor grunt, back in his mouth. A small drag from it, and he nods to Sveta. "Help yourself, comrade. They came from the market this morning, far as I can tell. They taste like gold would if gold tasted good."

The outer door opens and a pile of blankets sprouting legs comes in. the pile of neatly folded bedding makes it's way in till it's dropped on a table and Gregor is revealed to be the one with the blankets. "got some good bedding, best get it while it's here." He says, rubbing his arm.

Sveta seems all too happy to take up Maschenko's offer. A hand slips out towards the fruit and takes off a few slices. The first one is popped between her lips quickly, but she tilts her head back and savors it. The simple cap on her head falls off behind her. A delicious sigh leaves her, face lit with a smile behind all that dirt. "Oh its been months." Sitting back up, Sveta eats another slice. Its heaven - if a good Soviet believed in such things. Good thing she's Ukrainian. Ahem. her eyes turn towards the door as the pile of blankets enters and she blinks.

"Well, if he doesn't, I will pull it out in a day or so, okay?" Novikova offers. "I would feel awful if someone got tetnus because of someone else's thoughtlessness. And the hospital might not need more people anyway," Sigh. She frowns at that. She smiles as Sveta takes some of the fruit. "Yeah. It's a rare treat. I'm really grateful," She admits. A look to Sokolof and she grins at his wink. "That would have been good to know. But still. It's memorization anywhere you go. And thinking. I bet you have to pay lots of attention," She points out. A shrug at that. She is going to think he's smart, and damned if she'll change her mind. She blinks seeing the blankets. "Huh, I guess I will set some out for everyone then. Be sure our Comrade Sveta has blankets too. It would be bad first impression to put her in a bed with no blankets."

Sokolof looks up and peers at Gregor. Or the pile of bedding that is Gregor. "New bedding? Finally. We have been promised it for…damn. Months on that as well." He says it without bitterness. Or, at least, if he feels any it's masked very well. He does not jump on the goods right away, however. He's still a cigarette to enjoy. "We should save and dry the peels," he says to Maschenko, as to the oranges. "It makes a passable tea."

Gregor looks to Novikova, "Svet-" He looks to Sveta and smiles, "Oh, Hello. Good time to come. to take pick of the new bedding." He looks to Sokolof and nods, "Yes, finally, they got around to getting us some proper blankets."

Maschenko laughs at that from Sokolof. "Just like them to completely miss winter. Somebody's reading their calendars upside-down." He snorts, puffing away at the cigarette and reaching over to ash it. "Oh well. She'll be good come fall, anyway. Eat up, Comrade Sveta. We've mostly had our share, and what's left in the kitchen is for the others." He makes a little gesture back at Efim. "Good call, that."

Grigory steps into the room and slips his hat off. He smiles at everyone in the room and gives them a wave before moving over to have a seat at a chair away from the larger crowd.

Sveta looks around as everyoen seems to mention her name, a slice of orange halfway between her lips and her eyes wide. Whut? She waggles her fingers once more - to Gregor this time. "Hi." She will be taking up the offers, though. "Where is this surplus of oranges you are offering me some of? I haven't had fruit since December." WANT!

"Look at it this way, Comrade Doctor. They are just in time with the new ones that they will be worn out when winter comes again," Sokolof rejoins wryly with Maschenko. The banter between them has a habitual sound to it. To Sveta he replies, "There may be one or two left in the kitchen, I think. One of our housemates managed to get some at the surplus market today. She must have been among the first in line, the way those things go."

"Yeah, would've been nice," Novikova grins. "I'll help carry them if you like," Nod. She's willin to help. "And dinner is being cooked, so it looks like you came at a good time," She notes quietly. "I don't think we've a surplus. It was just a treat. I will have to thank her later for bringing them," Zoya smiles. She will make sure her peels are saved for teatastic goodness. "But I try to keep my eyes open, since I work at the store too." Shrug. She seems to be perpetually cheery about one thing or another. "She is good at being first in line," Novikova nods at the housemate comment. "I wish I had talent like that."

"Three oranges by now, I think," Maschenko comments idly. He sinks back down onto that backbreaking chair, wood creaking. "Those should stay put for the others." He rolls his shoulders and settles back, as well as he can in this thing. There's really no 'comfort' to be wrought from it, but he well tries. A smirk at Sokolof at the blankets thing.

Grigory fishes his orange out of his coat and holds it up, "I still have mine, if you want it. I doubt I'll get around to eating it." He shrugs and puffs on his cigarette. He stands up, deciding he's not a fan of being a recluse and makes his way over to the crowd. "Who wanted the orange?" Peer at them. He slips his driving cap off and slips it into his coat.

Gregor chuckles lightly, "I'll get back to the rest of the bedding, just one more load, so no need for help." He looks to Grigory and nods to Sveta, before turning back to the door. Step fetch, carry.

"Spasibo," Sventa offers to Sokolof about the oranges. She lifts herself from her perch on the couch. She doesn't seem to intereted in taking someone else's orange, though. To Grigory: "I did. But I'll find my own. Its only proper." She's off towards the kitchen to find her own.

"We all wish we had that talent, Comrade Zoya," Sokolof says wryly, puffing more on his cigarette. A nod to Grigory. "Hello again. My thanks for the offer, but I've already eaten my share. You are certain you do not want it? Such things are rare gifts, especially in these times."

Maschenko blows smoke at the ceiling, managing to make two rather deformed rings just above his head before they're ruined by the subsequent exhale. "Thanks, comrade," he drolls towards the air overhead. That was for Gregor, his neck's just assaulted by the damn chair.

Grigory shrugs and says, "All right, then. I suppose I'll get around to eating it." before tucking the orange back into his coat. A look at Gregor then to the table, "What's this about bedding?" His eyebrows raise as he asks the question.

Novikova is quiet for a moment. She leans back herself. She smiles at Grigory in passing. A look to Gregor. "If you're sure," She nods. A grin at Sokolof, "It's an enviable one." She admits. She pulls her legs in close, watching the comings and goings. "At least we'll have flour for a bit too." She wrinkles her nose. She looks to Maschenko and considers the smoke rings. She blinks. "We've gotten the bedding we asked for. I think Comgrade Gregor has it in hand though. We'll make sure they get shared out. Cold nights can be tough on you."

Gregor pauses at the door, gesturing to the pile of blankets, "Da. Be right back with the rest of it." He lifts a hand and moves out to collect the rest of the blankets.

Grigory will wait until Gregor brings in the new bedding and then go to his room to get himself some sleep. It's been a hard day and a half.

Sokolof stands. His chair is getting to him as well. He can finish his cigarette more comfortably in a full and upright position. While he's up he goes to sort through the new bedding, taking his share. Which is just a new blanket and sheets, really. "I should get this put away before dinner. If nothing else, it is good to have. And perhaps we can sew something useful out of the old blankets."

For many in here, the workday is over. But those who busybody at Dr. Maschenko's door know that he often works the 12-hour overnights at the hospital. The grand prize for being one of the younger physicians. He takes the last drag off his cigarette and sits up, then stands with a slightly ungainly lurch out of the ill-balanced chair. "Alright, comrades. I have to get to work. Efim, I'll see you in the usual spot, and…" His finger extends, sweeping the room and pointing at the kitchen with a vengeance. "Watch out for that fucking bastard nail."

Gregor hauls in another armload of blankets, placing them on the pile, then he sighs, moving to sit for a moment after a day of waiting for the blankets for his comrades. whew.

"Probably, though I'm no good at sewing," Novikova admits. "I stabbed my hands and the others got mad at me because my stitches were so bad they cried," She grins a little. "I guess I'll help put away the blankets too," Nod. "Maybe deliver some to the older ladies." At least her heart is in the right place, right? "Then I'll study a bit. If that nail is still there tomorrow, I'll pull it out when I get home and leave him a note, okay?" She offers. Smile to Maschenko. "Be well at work." Nod. She'll stand, and start helping with the blankets. "be well all of you." At least communal living does have some perks.

"The usual spot. I owe you the vodka this time," Sokolof says with a grin to Maschenko. "Be well. And be well to you as well, Comrades." The latter is offered to all and sundry, before he takes his bedding up the stairs.

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