Fiona had watched her escort since they had met that night with ill-disguised distaste. She'd arranged this little dinner for the two of them, causing the small girl to call in for work that very evening. She could picture her regulars giving the new act disappointed and surly looks in her absence. None of this was actually true, but she liked to think her "public" would miss her.
Though, she did greet Natasha's hand with a bit more enthusiasm then before. She still turned a stern, accusatory glance to Natasha.
"Maybe we both should have some coffee," she said with raised eyebrows, giving Natasha a 'look'. "It might help one of us keep their head up tonight."
Mizi cursed in her native tongue as she hurried past people on the sidewalk. She wanted this dinner to go right, and being late for it wasn't exactly the best start. After two more rejections today from art galleries in the area, the last thing she wanted was her sister scolding at her for not being on time. It wasn't going to make this anymore pleasant.
After shoving past a family without so much as an apology, she reached the door of the restaurant and flung it open. Mizi breathlessly asked the man at the front desk for the table under the name Nat. The man gestured to a small booth in the back and she recognized Nat's head from behind.
She walked brisky to the booth, slowing down as she got closer so she was sauntering by the time she reached the pair. Dashing around like a fury was no way to make a nice first impression.
"Good evening Nat." She said with a pleasant innocent smile. Mizi turned her eyes to the brunette sitting next to Nat. "You must be Fiona."
Natasha grinned at Fiona, just about to make a remark concerning where she'd be keeping her head up later, when she heard her sister's greeting. She closed her mouth (which had been agape in preface to what she was about to say), and looked over her shoulder at the other woman. She forced a somewhat mechanical smile, nodding a greeting as she gave a small hello in their language. She motioned for Mizinovskaia to sit across from them via a small, sweeping gesture of her arm.
"Yes, this is Fiona. Fiona, this is my sister, Mizinovskaia."
She looked over to the brunette next to her and her smile softened into something more genuine.
Fiona had smiled brightly at the greeting, standing and holding out her hand to the new woman. She froze, however, as Natasha introduced her. She blinked at the two of them, her mouth sagging a bit. She was sure the woman was an adoring fan come to get her autograph, but the longer she stared at her Fiona could see the unmistakable family resemblance. Though, her senses twinged as she caught a smell from her she couldn't quite place.
Fiona extended her hand to the woman graciously.
"N-nice to meet you, Mizinoveeskee.....a.....uh."
She turned red as she finished her name in a mumble.
Mizi took her hand gingerly, cocking her head slightly to one side.
"Don't worry, just call me Mizi. Only Nat calls me Mizinovskaia. It's a terrible name isn't it? I don't even like it."
She sat down across the couple, placing her portfolio and purse next to her. She unbuttoned her green jacket and slid it off, revealing a faded pink flapper dress beneath it. The straps were so loose she was constantly pulling them up on her shoulder.
"So, Nat told me you are a lounge singer. What is that like?" Her smile turned wicked. "Do you get all of the drinks you want? Even the banned ones?"
Natasha watched their exchange with a mix of enjoyment and worry. It was good that Mizinovskaia wasn't making a total wreck of things, but at the same time if these two found a blossoming friendship then who knows what the hell kind of shit her sister might get Fiona into? She really had no desire to see her love interest wasting away in an opium den day and night.
And then, breaking her train of thought, the waiter came along for their drink orders.
"Coffee. Three of them."
Natasha spoke curtly with a short nod in the waiter's direction, and having taken the hint, he returned the nod and scurried off hurriedly. Natasha then allowed herself to relax a bit, removing her hand from Fiona's thigh and casually wrapping it around her waist. She forced another smile at her sister.
"Fiona gets all the drinks she wants, but not because she's a singer." A faint, playful smirk accompanied a brief glance cast down at the shorter brunette at her side. She then looked up to Mizinovskaia again, "You should drop by for one of her shows some night. Her voice is beautiful."
Fiona blinked oddly at Mizi as they touched hands briefly. She'd never known Natasha to be so... relaxed or jovial around strangers. It was true, they looked a bit alike, but she supposed that was were the similarities ended.
She'd not been aware of mouthing Mizi's full name to herself as she greeted the girl, nor did she notice her release her hand and sit down. Fiona blinked slowly as she sat, trying hard not to blush in embarassment. She'd been staring at Mizi's dress with a mix of smugness and pity, though she'd hardly stick her nose in the air at the poor girl for it.
Her brain seemed to finally catch up with the conversation, and she brightened up. "Oh, yes! You should come sometime! It's lots of fun!"
The girl cast Natasha a sly grin and leaned over the table to Mizi. She lifted a hand to shield her mouth from the large woman theatrically. "Lots of men come, and they like buying drinks for pretty girls!"
Fiona punctuated this sentence with a knowing wink.
Mizi laughed and pawed the air in Fiona's direction. She crossed her legs as her interest in the conversation suddenly piqued. "Really? Well if that isn't the cat's meow. It's been a while since a man bought me a drink. Probably almost 3 weeks. Maybe a month."
Her eyes broke away from Fiona as she remembered the last poor lollygagger she stole from. She stared at the wall for a moment, lost in her mind before realizing that Nat and Fiona were sitting right in front of her. She blinked, smiling weakly at Fiona.
"Last time a man bought a drink for me, he couldn't get my name right. He just wanted to get into some heavy petting. So I stole his wallet AND his stash!"
Mizi broke into a fit of laughter, clapping her hands together. It dawned on her after a moment that perhaps that wasn't the best thing to bring up and her laugher turned into nervous chuckling. Suddenly her face felt like it was hotter than a pant's presser.
"So...uh...are you a native to Chicago?"
Natasha's expression fell flat at Mizinovskaia's little conversation opener. She did her very best to stifle a groan which, as it turns out, wasn't very good at all.
But her question did pique her interest. Arcing a brow, she pulled back just slightly so she could look down at Fiona easier. Her arm still remained around her waist, the other coming to rest on the table.
"Yes, I don't know where you're from, either."
Fiona stared blankly at Mizi with the cluelessly curious look she had whenever she didn't quite understand what was being said. The story sounded so interesting until the end. The girl supposed "stole his wallet and stack" must be some new slang she hadn't heard yet, and fearing being caught on this, she just giggled and nodded. She also made a mental note to use the little saying whenever an opportunity arose.
"What?" she said vaguely as her brain, once again, lagged behind the conversation. She blushed slightly and gave only the merest of panicked looks before answering. "O-Oak Lawn."
She collected herself and sat up. The girl tried not to look either of the sisters in the eye when she continued. "On... on a farm. Probably never heard of it."
Mizi squinted her eyes slightly at Fiona, tilting her head. "Funny, I feel like I've been all over this country but I've never heard of it."
She reached into her bag and pulled out a matchbook, tossing it onto the table. While digging through her purse, she could feel Nat's icy eyes on her. She turned her gaze at Nat as she pulled out the carton of cigarettes. Her smile faded and her brow lowered, mirroring her sister.
"Don't worry, they're just ciggies," She reassured dryly, waving the cigarettes at her sister before taking one out. She lit it and took a puff before turning her focus back on Fiona. Her face brightened and her sweet smile returned as she blew out the smoke.
"Sorry about that. Nat seems to have some issues with certain....habits of mine." She shot a quick taunting glance at Nat as she inhaled again. She leaned in close to Fiona. Smoke crept from her mouth as she added, "I hope Nat here doesn't keep you under lock and key like she does with me."
She nudged Fiona with a wink and giggled as she sat back.
"If I kept you under lock and key," Natasha began, speaking in Russian, "then you'd never leave the apartment, you goddamn druggie."
She sneered at her and took her coffee straight from the waiter's hand and sipped it before setting it down heavily. Before he could even ask, she ordered the three of them rare steaks and sent him on his way with a rather harsh bark.
A heavy sigh punctuated her turn to Fiona and she rested her arm across the smaller woman's shoulders, casting another silent glare at her sister.
Fiona was completely captivated with the stark differences between the two. She was enjoying this woman's company on it's won accord, but seeing Natasha treat her own family so badly in front of her... well, her sting of sympathy about burst her sides.
As Natasha turned to Mizz, giving her a cheerful sympathetic look and snatched a loose cigarette from the carton she had produced. In moments, it was sticking from her mouth as she fumbled for the matches.
"You really ought to be nicer to family while you've got it, Natasha," she said in a casual, matter-of-fact tone. She smiled and winked at Mizi reassuredly. "I mean, I would have killed for a sister when I was growing up!"
Mizi restrained herself from laughing. This woman was completely oblivious to the fact that her lover's sister was an opium-addicted thief. Either she was stupid or just gave people a lot of credit. Still, there was something awfully sweet about it.
"Oh thank you Fiona! You're so kind!" Mizi oozed with a smile on her face. "I wish I had a sister like you when I was growing up. You seem so understanding."
She shot another taunting look at Nat, her eyebrows arching. "You're right Natasha, I should be more like Fiona. It's easier to control an idiot," she said in Russian before taking another drag of her cigarette.
Mizinovskaia's jab at Fiona meritted a harsh, sharp bark from Natasha. Her brow furrowed as she cast a dark glare in her direction before she finally spat back, also in Russian.
"She's not an idiot." Her tone was defensive, bordering a tad on worried, "Why the hell would you say that?"
Natasha reached for the carton of cigarettes, pulling one out for herself before she threw the box at her sister's head. The gesture was punctuated by a growl.
Fiona blinked, staring at the pair of them in turn as they spoke. She always thought it was a captivating language and sat back with her mouth a bit ajar. A faint smile crept over her face at Mizi's "compliment", the cigarette dangling precariously from her lip.
She'd waited to hear the few russian words she knew, but none came. And when Natasha answered in such a cold manner, with such an aggressive response, the girl frowned and looked the pair over with contempt.
"We're supposed to have a nice dinner and get to know eachother!" she said, sounding indignant. "Not throw things around and act like children!"
She glared at both of them, trying to look stern. She continued in a mumble, a bit uncertain if she really wanted to be heard. Not that she didn't want to know, but she hated admitting her ignorance openly. "What did you say, anyway?"
"This woman has yet to say a single thing that distinguishes her from a five year old! These cigarettes are worth more than her." Mizi snapped in Russian, waving the cigarettes at her sister. She hardly heard Fiona scolding them, she was too busy staring down Nat with absolute indignation. Her smile was replaced with a tight sneer the moment Nat threw ciggies at her. HER ciggies no less. She took in a final inhale of her cigarette, swallowing a rant of swear words with the nicotine. She kept her eyes locked with Nat's.
"Nothing, Fiona, dear. Nothing that should be repeated in polite. dinner. conversation." She snarled in English, punctuating her last words as she stabbed her cigarette out in the ash tray.
She huffed and sat back in her seat. She took a sip of her coffee, reigning in the urge to reach across the table and rip out Nat's throat. When she moved her lips away, she sighed and her smile returned. She glanced at Fiona.
"I apologize, Fiona. Nat and I have a long complicated history." She flickered her eyes at Nat for a brief moment before taking another sip.
"Do all of your little tea parties with her go like this? Or does she sometimes bring her dolls?" She mumbled quickly in Russian as she set her cup back down.
"Fuck you, Mizi" Natasha retorted in Russian again, taking a drink of her own coffee, her grip on the mug suggesting that perhaps it had done a great wrong to her in the past. It met the table heavily a few moments later as she used her newly liberated arm to drape across the back of Fiona's shoulders. Her eyes narrowed in a cold glare directed at her sister as she took a slow drag off of her cigarette.
"Like hell I'm buying you dinner if you keep being a bitch about this. Good luck affording it yourself too. Fucking druggie."
Again she spoke in Russian, but given her tone it was more than evident that she was less than pleased.
It wasn't anything new, really. Fiona often felt lost in conversations. Especially in foreign languages. But emotions were sparking across the table so freely, she thought she knew what was being said. It made her slightly uncomfortable to be a part of it, some burning in the back of her ears giving her the impression some of it was directed towards herself! The feeling was magnified when Natasha put her arm around her shoulders. It seemed a bit.... protective.
She looked up at her, and then back at her sister. "I-if you're going to call eachother names, at least do it in a language we call all understand!"
She looked a bit sulky, but made sure to add plenty of anger in her look just to make her point.
Mizi glanced at Fiona expressionless before glaring at Nat. She balled up her hands under the table. Fucking bitch, calling her a druggie. It wasn't like Nat was the holiest of holies. At least Mizi didn't commit patricide. She was about to open her mouth when the waiter arrived with the steaks.
Those were some gorgeous steaks, possibly the best looking steaks she had seen in a long time. And she felt hungry. She gritted her teeth in frustration. Nat had won this time. The waiter reached across and placed the steaks in front of them. Mizi stared at her steak for a moment before looking up at Nat.
"Goddamn you," She grumbled in English before shoving a piece of steak into her mouth.
Natasha allowed a bitter sneer in her sister's direction before the steak was set down before her. Even a fight couldn't keep her senses off the slab of meat in front of her; she'd gone all day without a meal and, well, she was a growing wolf after all. Or something.
She did grin faintly at Mizinovskaia's surrender, retracting her arm from around Fiona's shoulder in order to pick up her knife and fork, setting into her steak. Her gaze flickered over to the brunette seated next to her.
"Mizinovskaia is just uncomfortable, Fiona. She's used to scummy opium dens, you see. She just feels out of place in a respectable establishment."
Another large bite of steak punctuated a brief glare directed at her sister.
Fiona felt rather uncomfortable after this exchange. The little english they did use did not sound very loving. She knew Natasha could be rather cruel to people, but she really couldn't tell if it was deserved or not in this case. She felt a bit confused and out of place.
And not at all hungry. She pushed her plate away after scarsely a mouthful. Instead, she sat quietly with her arms and legs crossed. She occassionally sipped at her coffee, wishing it was something MUCH stronger.
"So, Mizi," she finally said, as much to break the awkwardness that filled the following moments. "What do you here for a living? Natasha hasn't told me anything about you."
Mizi stabbed at her steak and jammed a piece into her mouth, chewing very loudly.
"Sorry, Natasha. I didn't hear you over my delicious steak!" She said in between bites. She swallowed hard and looked at Fiona, a smile imprinted on her face.
"I'm not surprised she hasn't said anything about me really. The only family Natasha seems to think she has is a fur coat." She giggled innocently, as if she hadn't just made a horrible reference to their father. She leaned in towards Fiona, as if to shut out Nat and her angry face.
"I'm an artist. I do paintings and sketches. Ever since I've returned to Chicago, I've been trying to get my work sold in art galleries but no luck thus far. Apparently, they don't know talent when they see it."
A low growl that was entirely inhuman sounded from Natasha's direction as she watched her sister with contempt. Making such comments in a public area where she knew Nat couldn't find back. Wasn't that just like her. The mingling thoughts of her sister's cowardice caused the next bite of her steak to be ripped rather unceremoniously from the larger slab of meat on the plate before her.
Given that she had to control her temper, she thought it best that she keep her mouth shut for the time being.
Fiona tried to hide a look of self-righetous disgust at Mizi's table manners. She tended to ignore Natasha's bouts of wolfish eating habits, but she had trouble giving others that same liberty. She looked up at Natasha's sister and smiled a bit embarrassed when she addressed her.
"O-oh, I love pictures," she said vaguely, searching for something insightful or intellectual to say about art in general. "With... all the colors and everything."
She blushed, feeling a bit stupid.
Looking at Fiona, Mizi chewed on a piece of steak, her mouth closed. Now that she had defeated Nat, there was no reason to be disgusting. She fought back an urge to smirk at Fiona. Her stupidity was unbelievable. She almost didn't seem real. She rested her hand on her cheek, still leaning in close to Fiona. She was too entertaining to ignore.
"Really? Any favorite painting in particular? Who is your favorite artist? What style do you enjoy the most?" She asked, before putting another piece of steak in to her mouth. She couldn't wait to hear what this little ninny was going to make up next.
Another growl, another glare. And as the last of Mizinovskaia's words left her mouth, she felt as though holding her temper were no longer a possibility. Forcefully, she stabbed her steak with her fork and withdrew her hand empty, clenching it at the side of her plate along with the other.
"Mizinovskaia!" She spat, continuing in Russian in a tone just as harsh, "Stop being such a fucking bitch! What the hell do you have against Fiona?!"
Her lip drew up in another growl as she leaned forward slightly.
Fiona looked nervously between the two, on one side she faced the exposure of her own ignorance and the other her homicidal girlfriend. She didn't like the prospects of either. She could feel her cheeks flushing as she tried desperately think of a way to defuse the situation. Only knowing a few words of russian did not help things any.
"Natasha," she said in an almost whisper, trailing off without anything else to add. She didn't seem to be scolding her this time, merely having something to say at she sank lower and lower in her seat.
"Oh I'm the bitch? I'M the bitch?" She snarled in English at Natasha.
Mizi sat up straight, breaking away from her conversation with Fiona. She slapped her hand down on the table with a growl, glaring at Nat.
"I'm not the one being a judgmental hypocrite. You act like you're so much better than me but you're hanging on with this dim little dollface," she snarled in Russian. "And if you're going to continue this, maybe we should settle this the REAL way." Her voice was low and dangerous.
She leaned back in her seat, her arms folded. She hmphed and took out her cigarettes again. She lit one and inhaled sharply, reigning in her anger. She looked at Fiona.
"So who did you say your favorite artist was?" She asked, her voice back to normal.
"As if you could survive a fucking fight with me, "She spat back in Russian, leaning against her arm on the table and snarling at her sister, "And at least I don't spend all my god damn time doping it up in some chink opium den, wasting my life and laying around doing fucking nothing for three days at a time."
An exasperated huff followed her particularly emotional statement and she resigned herself to leaning back against the booth, leveling her expression somewhat and taking a deep breath. As much as she wanted to maintain her temper in a public place, Mizinovskaia was making that fairly impossible. After a number of other deep, calming breaths, Natasha turned her somewhat more calm face to the brunette at her side. She even gave her a smile.
"Would you like to go home, Fiona? It's getting late, and I can think of a few things we can keep ourselves busy with there." She made a point of speaking over her sister's question.
Fiona had listened to the exchange with mounting rage. Her anger tended towards the type that would be rendered by an irritated badger. She had an odd way of narrowing her eyes as her head pivoted between the two of them. She also had a strange feeling the conversation had something to do with her. Her face burned with indignant outrage.
When the conversation had finally returned to english, it found Fiona with crossed arms, raised shoulders, and a look of doom on her face. "I think you two are the ones I should leave alone."
She took a deep breath and continued in, if possible, even more scathing tones. "I've had about enough excitement for one night."
As the girl finished, she flashed a fiery look at Natasha. It lasted just long enough to be uncomfortable. Then her neck swiveled to Mizi, where her glare boiled over in a look of unbearable sternness.
Mizi sighed and her smiled faded. Maybe this one wasn't as stupid as she though. She glanced at Fiona and then looked away, rolling her eyes.
"Well, if you really feel that way...be my guess. I'm sure Nat and I could find plenty to fight about." She darted her eyes at Nat. Her face softened as she looked at Fiona.
"This hasn't been the most comfortable , has it?" She inhaled on her cigarette, looking down at the table cloth. Smoke blew out from her lips as she spoke again, her eyes focusing upward to Nat. "It would seem she and I have some unfinished business."
"Are you happy now? You started it," Mizi added quickly in Russian.