Live Together Die Together

Pedagogical Institute (4 4)

Grigory is sitting, quite broodingly at that, in the archway of the institute. The shelling has made the arch appear unstable, but it's supporting his weight well. Smoke trails from the cigarette resting in his lips.

Up on the second floor of the bombed-out institute, Maschenko has spent most of the day with the wounded. Cleaning injuries and re-dressing with what precious little gauze and antiseptic they have left. There's no more suture thread, not until a supply runner reaches them in this rubble. That could be never, for all they know.
Galina sighs as she moves quietly towards the main archway and peers outside. "Grigory," she says quietly… "I finally heard about Papa." Without another word, she moves up to him and crouches beside the slightly older man, taking the cigarette from his lips and stealing a drag.

Awakening slowly, it's Novikova! She blinks owlishly as she stirs. Toes wriggle. She looks blearily at Maschenko. "… good morning!" She offers, in a cheery but half groggy state. "Thank you, my arm is less sore."

Knelt by where Gregor is lying so unceremoniously on the rug, for lack of any cots, Maschenko looks up from the man's arm. A wadded, dirty piece of cloth, someone's torn shirt, is what he's got to soak up blood and fluid from Gregor's injuries. "Morning, Zoyenka." His voice is kept down, so as not to disturb the resting. "That's good. Can you move it?"

Now she tries. Novikova curls her fingers and … caaaaarefully, so as not to dislodge his work, moves the arm. She frowns a little at the brief spike of pain, but it appears no motion is lost. "Yeah," A smile and a nod. "Did you want my scarf? It's kinda clean and I guess with our hats…" She probably won't need one. She is quiet though, not wanting to wake the sleeping. Such time is precious, given the Germanic war symphony outside.

Grigory peers up at her and says, "What do you mean? What has happened to him, dear?" He slips his driving cap off and slips it into the bag, revealing the small scar along the top of his head. He leans up on his knees and takes her hands, "What has happened?"

Elise had gone out for a little while, but returns now, satchel slung over her shoulder. She passes by Grigory and Galina in the archway on her way in, nodding to them both. The young woman looks tired, her face drawn with pain from still-healing injuries. Some bandages are still visible on her face.

Symphony indeed. With the constant booms of artillery shells and rat-a-tat of machine gun fire as percussion. Maschenko wraps the bloody side of the cloth in, pressing the other to the edge of Gregor's wound again. "No…this is too large, the injury. Bits may stick inside, and you don't want that." Blue eyes come up again though, thoughtfully. "If you're feeling generous though, you could wad it under his head. The floor's pretty hard."

Galina has a blank look on her face. "Papa was found under some rubble near the government center. Ekaterina… in the factory. No one has seen Mama yet." She takes in a deep breath, her lip trembling. "They killed Papa and Rina. Probably Mama too." She lets the cigarette fall to the ground as she finally lifts her eyes to Grigory. "Most of my regiment is dead. Most of my family now too…"

Grigory eyes her and runs a hand through her hair, "I'm…I'm so sorry, Galina. I can only console you by saying that…the feeling passes." He runs his hand over his head, sighing. "You've stil got me, though," he finally offers.

Wagner would be proud. Novikova looks over to Maschenko and nods. "Makes sense," She considers his words. She's young, dumb and more than a little goofy but at least she listens. She moves over to fold it under, "Is it okay to do that now?"

Elise overhears part of the news that Galina shares, and her face grows sad, regarding the other young woman with sympathy. Since they didn't seem to notice her nod, she doesn't interrupt their private moment and instead moves quietly past and up the stairs.

"Tak." Maschenko crumples the bloody bit of shirt next to his leg. He gets up onto his knees, reaching out his hands to cradle both sides of Gregor's head. "I'll lift and you slip it right under there. Ready?"

Galina nods softly as she settles to the floor and leans against Grigory. It's only then that she sees Elise, and she reflexively tenses a little… Only then does she relax and wave.
"All is well outside, Comrade?" she asks quietly.

Gregor mms, eyes flicking under his eyelids, "Mmmm." He grunts quietly.

Grigory goes back to sitting, but takes Galina's hand. He shifts around a little bit as the speak, nodding to Elise, "How's your head, Elise?" He tilts his head at her, awaiting a response.

Nod. Novikova smiles at him and waits for her cue, with folded cloth. "Sure thing," She appreciates his help. She is kneeling, to make it easier to reach.
Elise stops on the second step up, turning back when Galina calls to her. "No worse than before," Elise says grimly. She would not go so far as to call anything out there 'well'. A slight nod to Grigory. "Healing, not as fast as I'd like though. Thank you." To Galina, she says softly, "I am sorry about your family, Comrade."

"Just us, comrade," Maschenko mutters to Gregor. "Zoyenka's got you a nice pillow." His hands barely move Gregor's head, just enough to let Novikova ninja that scarf in there. Least that head's not bleeding everywhere anymore.

Gregor grunts, "… this..fucking…hurts." He mutters slowly. "Bad vodka in my head, and arm's rotting off." It's not, but it's not a happy limb.
Novikova finally notices Gregor stir. She'll ninja the scarf in easily then and lean back. "There you go," She nods. "And no, it's not rotting off. It'd smell really bad if it were. That's how sometimes you can tell-" Pause. "Well we saw it in biology once. Except you're not really a cow. The cow smelled worse," She muses.

"Try and be still, comrade." Maschenko's voice is not unsympathetic. "I'll give you some more of that painkiller as I can. You're going to get through it, /with/ your arm." If only because he doesn't have any tools to amputate it if it came to that. He lets Gregor's had back down, gently.

Galina flicks her eyes to the sky as Elise speaks of it being no better or worse. "I need my gun back," she mutters under her breath. "But the bastards blew it up." Those blue eyes then turn to Elise's head and face, studying it curiously. "Spasiba," she thanks her softly. "I think I knew it already…" She murmurs something quietly, perhaps to herself.

Gregor grunts, and growls, "Not going anywhere.. comrades.." He gasps, swallows, "Won't be dancing soon." He swallows, "Whatever you can do.. appreciated."

Grigory shrugs at Galina's words and then a revelation sweeps upon him, "Chyort." He stands up and heads up the stairs to find Maschenko, "I know this is probably belated, but I found something on one of my scavenging runs." He ruffles through his messenger bag. He produces a small brown bottle and holds it out to Maschenko, "It was in a bombed out doctor's office a few blocks away. I don't even want to try to pronounce it's name, but I think it's anesthesia." He shrugs and continues to offer it.

Poor Gregor. "Yeah, um. I can give you some water too," She offers. "Or you can - uhm." Look around. "I bet there's still some books still around. Kinda. Some of the storage in this place was very sturdy," Novikova considers. "Maybe not the good books though," Her eyebrows furrow. Shrug. She blinks as Grigory arrives. "Hello."

"I think it is different, knowing it yourself and finding out for sure," Elise says, lips pursing sadly. She fidgets a bit under the curious gaze, self-conscious, then shakes her head and comments, "Not much use now, gunners without guns. I've asked to be transferred to the infantry. At least be with our friends." She nods up the stairs to where the others mostly are, stepping aside to let Grigory through.

Grigory shrugs at Galina's words and then a revelation sweeps upon him, "Chyort." He stands up and heads up the stairs to find Maschenko, "I know this is probably belated, but I found something on one of my scavenging runs." He ruffles through his messenger bag. He produces a small brown bottle and holds it out to Maschenko, "It was in a bombed out doctor's office a few blocks away. I don't even want to try to pronounce it's name, but I think it's anesthesia." He shrugs and continues to offer it.

Sokolof is sitting in one corner, taking his rifle apart and cleaning it. He goes about the task methodically, still looking uncomfortable with the thing. But learning the more technical ins and outs of it seems to put him at ease somewhat. His head lifts at Novikova mentions the books, though his long fingers remain in motion on the gun.

"Sure you will," Maschenko replies to Gregor, arching a dark brow. "Didn't shoot your legs, you know." Wartime optimism at its finest, this. He brushes his bloody hands off on the carpet and looks up at the appearance of Grigory, and what's in his hand. "Oh?" His hand comes out for the bottle, so he can see the long chemical name. "Shit, that'll do. You're a prize of a rubble-diver, comrade."

Grigory nods to Maschenko, "Heh, thank you, Comrade. I heard about a vet's office somewhere near. I'm hoping that I can venture out that way and scoop some drugs up for you." He pulls some tattered gauze out of his bag too and says, "Here, these were torn by some shrapnel, but it you layer them up, they'll work just fine." He sets them down and nods to the man.

Galina just sits there as Grigory tears off. She nods blankly to Elise. "Can't shoot much else. I can use a radio a bit. and I'm a decent eye… But… Can't shoot anything else. I'll just get myself killed." Her gaze has drifted off into the nothing-land between reality and the next realm.

Vladmir sits atop the Rooftop, perched in his regular spot, waiting for something to happen. He grabs his canteen with his bandaged hand, and takes a swig with a sigh. He looks into the building, watching the people inside with curiosity; Almost a Truman-Show effect.

Elise starts to shrug, but a jolt of pain stops the gesture with a wince. "None of the others knew how to shoot either until a few days ago, but they've made a good showing of themselves. Even my cousin, who's about the last person you'd expect to be handy with a rifle. What else are you going to do?"

Maschenko shakes his head at that. "Only veterinarian supplies you'll find are at the chemical factories. Won't do much good anyway." He nods towards the west, and the hospital's bombed-out shell in the near distance of smoke and ruin. "That's our best bet there, if the Germans get their snipers the fuck out of it. Probably taken most of what was there." He sucks his teeth quietly. "In Kiev the doctors buried their supplies during the Great War…if they were smart here they might have done the same, somewhere." A nod to the gauze, that put by the bottle. "Thank you."

Grigory nods to Maschenko and says, "I'm going to head back downstairs, leave you to your work." He slips away down the stairs and nods to Galina and Elise, "I'm…going to slip away for a bit," and with that he slips over the shoddy barricades and heads out into the city.

It's true. Poor Novikova's one of the least likely soldiers around. Botanists rarely march. But they might totally step on your lawn or burn obscenities into it with fertilizers? Or trim shrubberies into naughty shapes. Novikova smiles at Grigory. "Thank you," She bobs her head. "I dislike their snipers very much. They are like termites, popping in at the worst times then the house falls over," She wrinkles her nose. She nods. "That's very clever." She considers. "but I would be shocked if at least one doctor didn't hide something," She confesses.

Sokolof tunes in more to the conversation between Maschenko and Novikova, slowing his work with the rifle. It's taken apart now, and the cleaning is a less concentration-intensive process. "Perhaps, my friend," he says to Maschenko as to the medical supplies. "The hospital is near here, so I suppose there may be some hidden about. Though the Germans seemed crawling over the place last night."

"Necessary," Maschenko tells Novikova, quietly. "When the Polish marched into L'viv we thought we were next. People hid everything, supplies, ammunition, food. There would be markings on the wood; people would scratch symbols with their fingernails." This is not a wistful memory, not one bit. "Anyway. We can hold some hope." He exhales through pursed lips and looks over at Sokolof. "Wouldn't be surprised if they've fortified it by now."

Novikova nods and listens. She has listening ability going for her, and her hazel eyes are intent on poor Maschenko. "I see," She is considering it carefully. There's sympathy in her voice. A little pat on the shoulder if he allows. "I am sorry you have had to endure such things. You're such a good person it seems really unfair," A nosewrinkle. There's a cruel truth to the statement. She takes a deep breath. "Me either," She admits. "That fellow I saw in the hospital yesterday ran away. I think he got pinged though. Still a shame. If only I had beer on a stick, then I could lure them out. Maybe drop a box on them or something and send them back home." She ponders. "Still, what I see, I'll try to grab." At least Novi has some knowledge of chemistry that would let her know what is OMFG TOXIC.

Elise leaves Galina to say goodbye to Grigory and trudges up the stairs, every step sending a twinge of pain from her ribs. She reaches the top and nods to the folks around. "Cousin. Comrades."

Sokolof grins thinly at Novikova, though the expression does not quite touch his dark eyes. Few things do these days. "It must be most dangerous to venture there." Or anywhere in the city just now. He listens to Maschenko in silence, offering the man a simple nod. Hard times. And they've more of them now. A "Comrade" is offered in return to Elise.

Vladmir is startled when another man comes up to relieve him of Guard Duty. A nod, and Vladimir makes his way down from the roof. Once he gets to the second floor, he stretches and yawns. "Man I hate Guard Duty.." He mutters under his breath. He walks towards a group of familiar faces, "Comrades!" He says with a smile.

Zoya's calling Maschenko a good person elicits a soft snort from the doctor. "I don't know about 'good people'. We've all done good and bad things to each other, Zoyenka." If he was going to say more, though, it dies away. "Just be careful." His eyes flicker back to Sokolof's and hold them for a moment, communicating much more about hard times than he could with someone Novikova's age. Then up at Elise and Vladmir. "Comrades."

A smile at Sokolof. "Probably. They have an ugly habit of popping out at you and going "SURPRISE!" but with bullets," Novikova taps her chin. She smiles seeing Elise. "Cousin, please sit down." Likely to get her out of window view. Or at least … sitting. She smiles too, at Vlad. "Hello there." Wave. Finally, Maschenko's response causes a pause. "Yeah, but the good outweighs the bad. If you were perfect, you'd - I dunno, be perfect. Probably kinda boring if you were though." Poor Novi. Her age does limit her ability to /really/ understand the gravity of it. "You know, like those stone statues. That or you'd get a desk job. 50/50 odds really."

Elise can't help but be amused by her cousin's irrepressible humour as she walks in. She nods slightly to Novi, saying about sitting down. "Just a moment, Zoyushka." She heads over to Maschenko first, noting randomly along the way. "Could you even imagine having a desk job in all this?" A slight headshake. She works to gingerly unsling the satchel from across her shoulder, offering it to the doctor. "Today's medical ration. Even less than yesterday, I think, though I told them how many wounded we had." She frowns.

"Comrade Appo," Sokolof offers with an inclination of his head to Vladmir. Rifle cleaned, he starts to reassemble it. Slowly, methodically. Fingers working over the parts as if meticulously learning what makes the thing tick. "Did you seen anything on watch?" Not that they likely wouldn't have heard if the Germans were coming to roll in. But he checks anyway, still fretting some. A slim frown comes to his lips at Elise's pronouncement. He wears the expression more easily than any attempts at smiles. "They sent something, at least." Not that he sounds particularly grateful.

Vladmir shakes his head. "No, I did not, thankfully. Hopefully holding this place will be easy." Ahh, the Famous last words. Vladimir sits down, leaning against a particularly large piece of rubble. He takes off his hat and sighs.

"Yeah. Something." Maschenko reaches up for the satchel. "Enough to hold all these wounds from getting worse overnight, we'll hope." Elise's question about a desk job gets a slight smirk. "Well someone's got desk jobs. Somewhere in Russia there's no fighting, and some fatasses in clean pilotkas are sitting round going 'Well, shit'." He opens up the satchel, rooting around. "I just can't imagine where."

She laughs softly at Maschenko's last comment and shakes her head. "I don't know either," Novikova admits. Sokolof gets a glance now and then. "Sure thing," She nods as her cousin asks for a moment. Vladmir's words make her 'hmmm' softly. "I don't know about that. Unless they send the armless shuffling tap dancing brigade after us. Or the 101st Blind Snipers unit," She can hope too right? A shrug at that. "Whatever it is, this is a good spot. Lots of places to perch and deal with them at our own pace and if they get too close - there's places to toss molotovs from too." Could be worse.

Elise smirks wryly at the doctor. "Far from here, I'm sure. It's hard to imagine." She hands over the medical supplies, such that they are, and nods to Novi. "This isn't a bad place to be defending, on the whole. Lots of windows though." Pesky snipers. "One can only hope they avoid their tapdancing brigade - that would be a horrifying sight." A bunch of German soldiers tapdancing their way in? The horror! She scratches at an itch near the tape holding the bandage on her cheek and asks, "Should I change these bandages or just leave them off?" It's pretty well knitted by now.

"We'll have to be sure and keep all wounded as far from the windows as we can," Maschenko says, finally standing up. "I wouldn't give a shit what unit it was - bullets from a blind man will kill same as from a sighted one." He's been kneeling that for over an hour, and his muscles are cramped and stiff. Elise's face, he studies with a slight squint as he steps closer. "It is still oozing? If it is then let's clean and cover it again. If not you can leave it to the air."

Nod. "That's a good idea. Probably wise not to poke your head up too much, either," Novikova considers. She goes a bit quiet at his words, although Elise's comment makes her smile. Exactly. The horror! The well dressed horror! She tilts her head, watching though. Probably out of concern. "If you need help, I am here. Otherwise I think I may stay out from under foot."

"I don't think it is," Elise says, though she's still learning about these things. Also she hasn't really been prying off the bandages to check. "The one under my arm I think is still oozing." It's been exercised more and was worse off to start with. A slight nod to Novi. "Should be all right, thank you, Cousin." She'll stand still for the doctor's studying but notes off-hand, "I've been reassigned to your unit, to the infantry."

Maschenko's head is still bandaged too, where that sniper came perilously close to blowing a hole through his temple. If anyone in his life has ever called him hardheaded, they've been proven right. "Cheek should be alright to stay unbandaged by now. If you have a minute to lie down I'll check the other. Zoyenka, can you get that gauze out of my bag?" At the mention of reassignment, his attention lifts from cloth to her face. "Have you? Means they've overrun all those guns in the south then, I take it. Bastard fucks." He folds his arms. "Well. More strength in numbers around here."

"Well." Elise hedges a little. "Many of the guns from our unit have been destroyed or overrun." Most but not all. And there are others in the city. "But mostly.. I volunteered. I'd rather be with all of you." Live together, die together, eh? She nods slightly and will go to lie down - in a cot if one's open, otherwise on the floor. Her rifle is leaned against a nearby wall.

Poor Maschenko. Novikova thinks he's awesome, holes or no holes. She nods and oofs lightly, pushing herself up to go get it. One roll 'o gauze, coming up. "Sure thing," She replies. Then she hears Elise's reassignment and winces. "I don't suspect they will keep using planes and bombs anyway. They'd probably get more of their own than us," Since the city's dwellers know the hidey holes. "Or maybe not. I mean, I'm no general but it doesn't seem smart to bomb a place with your own fellows in it," She muses. "But those guns are nice to have," She admits and frowns at the news. Her eyes go wide at the admission. "Cousin! Well… at least I will know where are more of the time," Though that's not gonna stop Novi from worrying. "I am glad you're here."

Itsy bits of gauze, more like. Maschenko frowns, in thought rather than displeasure. "They would get more of themselves, wouldn't they. Maybe that's why the Sergeants are keeping us up their arses all the time." He sits down where Elise has found her spot to lie down, motioning for her to take up her shirt to the bandages. "Well, anyway. I'm glad you here rather than there as well."

Elise looks slightly abashed at her cousin's reaction, but then says to them both, "Thanks. I'm glad as well. We can all look after each other." Elise pulls up her shirt so the doctor can take a look. The surgical incision and broken ribs are healing, but slowly, due to the conditions and running around all day. She nods slightly to the doctor's comment. "That would make sense. They'd have to limit the areas they hit, at least."

Well, potayto, potahto. Novikova nods. "I guess." She looks ready to crack off another joke, but seeing her poor cousin's ribs, she refrains. "I think so. They don't know the hiding places well and I sincerely doubt such things are picky." It's rarely the bullet with your name… it's the shrapnel marked 'To Whom It May Concern' after all. A shrug at that. "So that's one plus I guess. Kind of." Trading Fascists for bombs. Tough choice. Even Novi has trouble debating that one. But she smiles at Elise and nods. "Yeah. That's kind of a relief." Kind of in the sense that now Elise has to brave snipers AND Hitler's Buzzsaw and another random mortars the Germans cook up or brought along. She takes a deep breath. "To think we had class here."

Maschenko snorts. "Now it's got no class at all." His eyes flicker to the bit of missing wall on the south end, then back to Elise's ribs, carefully assessing with his fingertips for how bad the pain still is. There's a loud boom in the near distance to the west, followed by a brisk flurry of shooting. Footsteps, other soldiers billeted with them from the 64th, run past the door to their 'medical room', headed for the hall. But no shouting, just scouts. "Rather wonder if the library's still intact…ridiculous thing to be thinking of just now."

"It works to our advantage, I suppose." Kindof, as Novi said. She doesn't sound terribly convinced. She tilts her head at the commotion, wondering if it's something they should be getting ready for. Apparently not, since there's no shouting. There's a sharp gasp as Machenko checks out the ribs, even his gentle fingers sending a sharp wave of pain from the wound. Eyes watering, she grits her teeth and tries to keep up the conversation. "Don't you think the books would have burned in the fire?"

Ba-dum tsh! Novi giggles at Maschenko's comment. Bad Novi. She hmms, gently tapping her chin with a finger and wincing at the boom followed by the scouts scampering off. "Fascists are lousy musicians, you always save the boom for after the lull in the symphony." No taste, no taaste. She takes a deep breath. "There are probably parts. Some books were kept in more like a vault type thing, especially the important things," She points out. Stuff by Marx and others probably, but nevertheless. Or hidden naughty things. But not even Novikova had full access to EVERYTHING in the library. "Hey… I can take a look. And not ridiculous. Minds don't stop just because a war is on. And I can take a look because my patrol partner always has to use the bathroom 15 minutes in near the library," A sigh. "He's way better than a clock even." A headshake at Elise. "Some, but not all. Bear in mind some buildings just fell in."

"Easy…" Maschenko tells Elise under his breath, the word meant to calm her. "Easy, now." His hands stop pressing, having determined enough and now going to undo the gauze wrap itself. "We'll look when it gets lighter, Zoyenka. We can't spare candles to go wandering around at night." And the dawn's barely begun. "Mother Russia's books," he mutters then, shaking his head as he works.

Elise stills once the prodding stops, though there's still an obvious tension in her neck and shoulders, bracing herself against further pain. The fire in her chest is slow to fade, so she says in a small voice. "It would be nice to have some books. Something to do." To keep their minds off of things.

"Well, my patrol is when it is a bit lighter," Novikova nods. "But I understand. No wasting candles," She looks to Maschenko. She's concerned for her cousin now. She scoots to sit over by Elise out of the way, though. She's sympathetic. "I'm sure we'll find a few. And perhaps a grammar book for that fellow who keeps yelling. I'd fire his teacher and get a refund personally." Nod. "I can share a spot near you though, when we sleep. That way you won't be stuck next to someone who kicks. I didn't even know people DID that in their sleep until I find a boot in my face. I thought, it's raining boots?"

Maschenko checks over her sutures for a time and picks up the bottle of antiseptic, a small thing that's already halfway empty. There are smeared, bloody fingerprints on the glass. He wets Elise's wound with the foul-smelling liquid and caps the bottle again, then sets about re-wrapping it. Either he's concentrating or his mind's gone off somewhere, as he's silent while he finishes this last.

Elise manages a weak smile to her cousin, who never fails to cheer her up - even in a place like this. "How do you know you don't kick in your sleep? I guess we'll find out." She teases, but is clearly grateful. Another breath is sucked in when the antiseptic stings, but less than before. "I somehow don't think he'd appreciate the lessons."

"Perhaps not, but it's almost painful to hear our language mangled like that," Novikova. "Like being hit in the head with a frying pan made of words." Or it's the head wound. Could be either! Novikova smiles and shrugs. "Dear sweet innocent me kick in my sleep? Perish the very thought," But hmmm, it's a good thought. "Well, you will let me know?" She considers. She doesn't flinch at Elise's reaction to the sting, but she does pause a moment. "But I think I will settle in my corner and be out of your hair before my watch begins." Nod. Even Novi sleeps sometimes.

Maschenko finishes tying off the gauze and stands up, barely gotten to his feet before someone calls out from the next room over: 'Doctor!'. "Shit. 'Scuse me." Picking up his satchel, he slings it over his shoulder and starts off.

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