Characters: C. Snippy/Sniper & A. Gromov/Engineer & C. Hatchenson/Pilot
Misfortune always strikes in the most unexpected moments - and it doesn't take vacations.
It was one of those days when everything went wrong that could possibly go wrong.
It happened as Engie and Pilot were roaming through one of the lesser devastated, dark building of the city, with Snippy in the lead.
Rummaging through all the things he found along the way and held what he considered might be useful in the future in his hands, Engie almost forgot about his surroundings until he heard a cracking noise that was followed by a scream.
“God-fucking-damn-it!!” he heard Snippy groan.
Pilot secured the engineer's back as they followed the sound of the marksman's voice to his location.
As they reached their comrade, Engie stood frozen in place, the things he had been carrying clattering to the floor. The sniper's left leg had submerged in a hole in the ground up to his knee, which had forced him into a strange lopsided stance.
Suddenly the Pilot started giggling.
“The ground is finally taking revenge on Snippy for stomping it so much and decided to eat his leg!”
“Shut up, it's not funny!” the sniper hissed angrily. “Nobody is eating my leg here. It just got stuck between concrete and metal, that's all. So stop staring and help me out of this already!”
After a moment of hesitation and exchanged glances, the aviator and the scientist grabbed the sniper by the arms and pulled him out.
Once he was free, the first thing Snippy did was drop himself to the floor.
“Uhm... what's wrong with the slug?” Pilot asked confused, and Gromov tried to find out.
As the engineer turned his flashlight on and pointed it at the sniper, he gasped. Clasping at his left leg, Sniper sat on the ground, and it was only as Gromov took a closer look, that he noticed the leg was stained with dark red marks and really did look like something had chewed on it.
A strained groan came from the sniper as he dared to move, jostling his leg and confirming Engie's assumptions that he wasn't alright.
“Damn it Charles... that doesn't look good. Can you walk?”
“I-I'll try. Just get me to the roof for now, it's a lot safer there.”
“Alright,” Alexander muttered, and helped Snippy up, who draped his left arm around the engineer's neck for support.
“Pilot, I suggest you take your backpack with the loot we gathered, return to the base and show it to Captain. See if he finds any of this interesting,” Engie advised. “We'll follow up a bit later, alright?”
“Yes, Sir governor!” he shouted, took the backpack and ran off.
“...what?” Snippy asked confusedly and looked at Gromov blankly, who just shook his head.
“Pff... Nothing he says ever makes any sense. But whatever, let's get to the roof.”
Walking side by side, they took the stairs, but the way turned out to be so damaged beyond half way that they could not risk traversing any further. It was too dangerous, and for the engineer to also gain an injury would only worsen the situation.
The weight of the sniper was also starting to slow Engie down, straining his back. He was heavy, and limping how he was did not make things better. In this condition, Engie simply couldn't take his comrade any further.
The scientist decided then, rather then the roof, they would stay in the big empty room that formed he third storey of the building.
This large room was surprisingly empty, and it seemed that the only thing that filled it beside some shelves along the walls were two chimneys in the middle that led up and through the ceiling.
Without a word Snippy let go off the engineer and limped across the room to sit down with his back against one of the pillars, releasing a relieved sigh once comfortable. Engie just followed up soon after, sitting down just across from him and put his backpack down to one side.
“Since I doubt you've got a first aid kid in that backpack of yours... Have you maybe got a piece of spare cloth or something that I could use as bandage?” Inquired the sniper, raising his head from where he had been looking at the floor.
“Uhm... yeah. There's that apron I took with me from the lab we found last week, haven't worn it a single time though,” Alexander said as he shifted to hand him the bundle after removing it from the tatty looking backpack.
“Thanks,” the sniper breathed, and immediately started ripping it to strips of almost perfectly equal size, using his hunting knife to help the process by cutting a gap into the cloth where needed.
Meanwhile the engineer had pulled a bottle of vodka from his backpack and started sipping as he watched Snippy work on the cloth. Then he observed the sniper carefully remove the torn cloth that partially stuck to his blood-smeared leg and a few times heard him hiss between his grit teeth at the pain as he progressed.
“Wow... Looks like you really got yourself some nasty gashes there on your leg. You should probably clean them... Hold on a second-,” Gromov said as he edged closer to him, not leaving his seated stance. “I got this.”
It was without warning that Engie poured a dash of alcohol over Snippy's leg, which got the other man to scream so loud that he strongly hoped that no mutated beast or hostile wastelander had heard him.
"Aaaugh! God dammit man, are you completely nuts?!" The sniper scolded loudly, breathing heavily as he glared at Engie with fierce eyes, a silent warning to not do it again.
“Geez, what's wrong with you! I was just trying to help,” he muttered into his respirator, feeling a bit put off.
Secretly pouting about the sniper's ingratitude, the engineer backed off without any further word and return to how he had been sitting beforehand, his bottle clutched close to his chest.
Minutes passed since Sniper had started to bandage his leg.
From his position, Engie kept throwing short glances at the other man, monitoring his progress.
But neither of them dared to exchange a word with the other for quite a while, until one of them decided to talk, breaking the tense silence that had fallen.
"Uh... I suppose... I should apologize for what I said," Snippy finally spoke out calmly, sighing. "The alcohol... It uhm... it was the right thing to do... you had the right idea."
He paused to look up at the other man and saw Engie pouting at him from his huddled position.
"It's just that... it burns like hell, ya know? So please warn me next time you do something like that. Okay?"
"Okay," Gromov said shortly, refusing to make further eye contact.
He wondered if he should say something like "sorry" as apology, but it felt too awkward for him. Instead he meaningfully gazed down at the floor, feeling visibly uncomfortable and sorry for what had happened.
For a while the sniper just stared at him, pondering, until he looked down with a sigh.
"Hey Gromov, care to share some of that booze of yours?" Sniper asked, trying to relieve the tension between them a little by changing the topic.
"What... why? You never were much of a drinker. And I doubt you should start with something so high in alcohol content like vodka. It's too heavy for you, princess," the engineer slily mocked him with a smirk on his face.
"Oh, shut up! At least let me try...," the sniper said and reached for the bottle in Engie's hands.
With a bit of hesitation, it was finally handed to him and while Sniper carefully shifted how he was sitting to take a sip without spilling it, Gromov kept a measuring eye on him, waiting for his reaction.
"Gah! That's the nastiest shit I have ever tasted!"
"Good, so you can give it back to me right away," the engineer sneered. "You don't have to drink it, if you prefer your pain over some marvelously delicious vodka."
"Who said I would? No... I'll simply have to accept the crappy taste and drink some more. Eventually my tongue will be so numb that I'll be unable to register it anymore," he mocked back and took a big gulp, trying hard not to contort his face at the bitter taste the alcohol delivered.
"Idiot," Engie snorted and continued rummaging through his backpack to busy himself somehow.
"I still can't believe you tripped into a hole in the ground," he pointed out after a while.
"There you go, starting with this again. For the last time: I didn't trip into a hole! The ground just wasn't thick and therefor not solid enough at that spot to support my weight," Snippy explained, hoping that he had finally satisfied the man enough to make him cease these kind of comments.
"Man, the ground gives out below you when you merely step on it... and you're telling me to lose weight!" Engie laughed, and gave him a playful punch to the shoulder, the sniper gave a grunt in response.