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don’t call it a catfight when we’re both having fun

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“If you put on any more sunscreen, I think you’ll slip and then contaminate these pristine waters,” Mita says critically, watching Lemtov slather himself with what, by her count, seemed to be the fifth layer of sunscreen.

Lemtov raises an eyebrow at her, “I just knew this was a dastardly scheme of yours. You’ll trick me into not putting on enough sunscreen. I’ll get sunburned, develop skin cancer, then die, and then you’ll finally be the hottest Eurovision contestant.”

“Conchita’s still around,” Mita points out.

“Hottest still-competing Eurovision contestant,” Lemtov amends.

“Well, then I would hardly need to plot your death for that, you already won,” Mita says with a roll of her eyes.

“And what a victory that was,” Lemtov says with a grin, picking up his glass of champagne and toasting himself.

“Almost makes up for you letting lovely Sigrit slip right through your fingers,” Mita says sweetly.

Lemtov clutches at his chest dramatically. “Mita darling, so cruel of you to directly jab your pointy words into my still open wound! I’m still devastated!”

“More devastated about her leaving or more devastated about all that money you would have made if she had partnered with you?” Mita asks, arcing up a perfectly coiffed eyebrow.

“I’m offended that you would think me so driven by such purely monetary motives,” Lemtov replies, holding up a finger. “I’m also devastated about all the amazing songs we could have written and performed together if she had chosen me. Still—it is what it is, I suppose. I’m sure they’re very happy together.”

“Ehhhh,” Mita says, making a see-sawing gesture with her hands. “The fundamental problem with those two was that Lars was a selfish dolt and Sigrit bent over backwards to support him, and I don’t think that’s solved just by the two of them finally getting together.”

Lemtov raises an eyebrow at her, “I thought you were cheering for them.”

“It was more that I was cheering for her to go do her own thing,” Mita replies, taking a sip of her own ouzo sour “Her partnering with you would have been an acceptable outcome as well, I suppose, as long as she knew what she was getting into.”

Lemtov grabs the last olive on the plate and pops it into his mouth before she can. “You were the one saying I wouldn’t make her happy.”

Mita gives him a look, “Because she seemed to think you guys could become a couple, and that wasn’t going to happen.”

“You don’t know that,” Lemtov argues. “I think I could have grown to love her.”

“I’m not sure if that’s how love works, darling,” she says quietly.

(At least, that’s never how it has worked for her, but then again, she’s always loved the thrill of the chase more than the actual capture.

Maybe it’s terrible of her but she tends to find people more cloying and boring once they’re in her bed than when they were just trying to get in.

They just—expect so much , and she never likes any of them enough to make that many accommodations or change that much of her life.

Her mother is heartbroken that her daughter has never fallen in love with anyone, but Mita thinks—

There’s moments like singing her heart out on the Eurovision stage, meeting her fans and basking in their adulation, belting out songs during song-a-longs, or even right now, lazing about on a yacht with one of her best friends that she thinks that this is what happiness feels like, and she’s content.)

Lemtov shrugs. “It couldn’t have hurt to try. Just because I happen to prefer men, it’s not like I don’t make exceptions. I would say that we even had a decent time together.”

“You’re not terrible , I suppose. It’s why I keep you around,” Mita says airily.

(Really in terms of former bed partners, Alexander is one of the few she’s kept as a friend.

He’s a generous lover, a thoughtful friend, and fun to banter with, so even if they don’t sleep together anymore because the one thing she cannot stand is to be used as a replacement for anyone, he’s always welcome to drop by and stay.

It’s to the point that Mita’s mother is imploring her to marry him, but ew, no.

Even if he wasn’t pining away for his artistic director, Mita doesn’t want to tie herself down.

She’s starting to think she’s not exactly the marrying sort.)

“Ah Mita Mita, if I could just fall for you, life would be so easy,” Lemtov sighs, placing a dramatic hand to his chest. “The only problem would be that you take more time on your makeup than I do, and that’s just unacceptable.”

“Also the fact that you’re in love with Kevin Swain,” Mita points out.

Lemtov takes a sip of his drink. “Who isn’t in love with him?” he grumbles into his glass.

“I’ve said before, you could have him if you just made a move. He couldn’t take his eyes off you during your song,” Mita says encouragingly, chewing on some roasted eggplant.

Lemtov sighs, swirling the champagne around in the glass a bit. “…he’s not known to be—discreet,” he finally says slowly.

“If you never went back to Russia, would it be so bad?” she asks even though she knows the answer.

“…sometimes I wonder that too,” Lemtov admits, setting his glass aside and rubbing his face. “Wouldn’t it be easy to just toss everything aside and run away and just chase after my own happiness—but that’s such an American thought, isn’t it? My family is in Russia—it’d break my mother’s heart to never see me again.”

(And she gets that, how can she not.

No matter how much her family, or her mother in particular, may disapprove of many of her life choices, they’re all still bound by blood, and she knows that at least at home, she can lick her wounds in relative peace.

She can’t imagine not being able to come back home and help her mother in the kitchen while the rest of her family bustles around her.)

“Mothers,” she sighs, “God bless my mother even if she doesn’t understand me.”

Lemtov chuckles at that, “Is she still waiting for me to pop the question to you?”

“Every day she snoops through your bedroom, looking through your tacky jewelry in hopes that there’s a ring for me,” she says solemnly.

“God bless your mother and mine,” Lemtov echoes, leaning back. “Mine is also so excited whenever she sees pictures of the two of us together. Although excuse you—I’ll have you know all my jewelry is real , unlike some of the fakes I’ve seen you sporting around.”

“Baby, I can look fabulous at any price point, unlike some people who need a bit of class to compensate,” she retorts back with a sharp grin. “You should take some notes, or else you’re going to get eviscerated when you have to host the next Eurovision.”

“Ah yes, bringing glory to my homeland no matter what it really thinks about me,” Lemtov says with a slight bitter twist of his mouth.

“It’s your home for better or worse,” she runs her finger against the rail. “It’s like the way I miss the smell of the sea if I’m gone too long.”

“I do miss Moscow,” Lemtov says, leaning against the back of his chair and staring off across the glittering ocean. “I miss hearing Russian all around me, riding a subway that’s actually designed for beauty, and eating ponchiki and pelmeni—nowhere else gets it right.”

“If only you wouldn’t be dragged away and arrested if an inkling of your other preferences came to light.”

“If only,” Lemtov says wryly, pouring himself some more champagne.

“And of course, your little harem is happy not being in Russia,” she says, trying to lighten the mood a bit.

(Russia is a scary place these days, and she fears for her friends there.

Then again, the world is growing scarier every day sometimes, and all she can do is try to provide a safe haven and sing to try to brighten up everything a little bit even if it seems dark now.)

Lemtov gives her a look, “You know as well as I do that Viktor, Dmitri, Ivan, and Peter are all happy together in whatever combination they decide to be in this week, and I’m not involved in that at all.”

“Well, sometimes you are.”

“Alright, sometimes I am, but as more of a casual thing,” Lemtov agrees. “They take pity on me occasionally. They’re quite generous.”

Mita lightly bumps her shoulder against his. “Hey, who’s the person who invited you to Greece and let you stay on her yacht?”

“Yes, yes, Mita, you are a saint,” Lemtov says, rolling his eyes and making a small bow towards her. “Saint Mita, long may she reign.”

“I can drink to that,” she says, raising up her glass and taking a sip.

They sit in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying the sea breeze and nibbling on the rest of the delicious platter arranged before them.

“I think I could have eventually loved her,” Lemtov says finally. “Maybe eventually.”

“She was very lovable,” Mita agrees. “But could she make you forget Kevin Swain?”

“…at the very least, she’d have fans that adored her if she had gone with me,” Lemtov replies.

Mita lets him avoid the question (Kevin Swain, Kevin Swain—she sees the appeal, but if only he could learn to keep his mouth shut). “That’s true. She’d have such a promising career if she would just drop that lug.”

Exactly what I told her,” Lemtov says, pointing at her. “Even if she is happy with that guy, how are they going to manage to sign deals and do promotions? You and I both know that he will take charge of all business negotiations and probably get a shit deal out of it.”

“A record agent won’t be worth anything if he can’t pull the wool over the eyes of that fool,” Mita agrees. “That’s why I left her with you. I thought you could at least get her to see that there’s so much more to the industry than what that Lars had been telling her.”

“Did you really?” Lemtov says, an amused grin playing at his mouth. “I did wonder what kind of game you were playing seducing that oaf.”

“All so you could have more time with her, darling,” Mita sniffs.

“Did he really turn you down?” Lemtov asks, raising his plucked eyebrow. “I can’t quite believe it—did he know about your nose job?”

Mita makes a face at him, “Hahaha, my nose is as real as your tan right now. And sort of—he pawed at me a bit before he passed out after a few more drinks I handed him.”

(It hadn’t been especially pleasant, but she’s endured much worse throughout her career, and she had thought Sigrit deserved to have a fun night out without the weight around her neck potentially storming in and dragging her back with him.

She has all sorts of fun drinks she can mix when she wants someone to just pass out sooner—the benefits of having dated a bartender she supposes.

Still she’s not a monster—she stayed to make sure he wouldn’t choke on his own vomit, and if she happened to get comfortable in the process, well, a girl has to make do with what she’s got on hand.

She did feel a little bad breaking Sigrit’s heart though, so she ended up letting her know that nothing had actually happened, although maybe not completely truthfully so that she’d retain a little bit of her innocence.

Although maybe she shouldn’t have if the girl was just going to toss a promising career aside for a man who hadn’t even been there for her at her lowest moment.)

“You’re such a conniving, devious bitch,” Lemtov laughs, toasting her with his drink. “I love it.”

“Takes one to know one, darling,” she fires back.

“Touché,” Lemtov acknowledges, pushing the platter closer to her. “Well, thank you for that, even if it ultimately didn’t seem to work out. What was worse—him pawing at you or you having to pretend to be interested in what he was saying?”

“Hard to say,” Mita replies, seriously weighing the two in her head. “You know, he even told me his dick was like a Volkswagen—serviceable.”

Lemtov makes a face, “Well that’s—unique. Not an especially appealing or inspired metaphor though. And was it?”

“Looked pretty small to me,” Mita replies with a little purse of her mouth and a haughty sniff.

Lemtov laughs, throwing his head back, “ Ouch. You know where to hit a man where it hurts, Mita.”

“What’s the point of hitting where it doesn’t?” Mita asks wryly before pointing at him, “I think your abominable statues started that subject.”

Lemtov opens his mouth wide in a parody of dismay, “ Mita , don’t tell me you don’t like my genuine, historical ancient Greek statues!”

“They’re about as ancient as your blonde highlights,” Mita says, plucking at his hair. “And you’re going to need a touch-up soon, darling, it’s starting to look a little tacky.”

“Those are natural!” Lemtov huffs, swatting her hand away.

“Keep telling yourself that, baby,” she says sympathetically, patting his knee. “I believe it as much as other people don’t believe that you’re compensating for something with those statues.”

Lemtov mock-leers at her a bit, “Ah, but my darling, you know I’m not compensating for anything.”

“You were alright. I’ve seen better,” Mita says in a dismissive tone before turning around and imperiously gesturing at her hair. “What really made me keep you was your braid-weaving skills, so chop-chop. I want to look like even more of a goddess.”

Lemtov just chuckles, shaking his head as he sets down his flute of champagne and reaches for her hair. “I’ll see what I can do with this bird’s nest. Your hairdresser has her work cut out for her.”

“Less whining, more braiding, or next time I won’t let you on my yacht,” Mita says, dipping a cracker in some hummus and nibbling on it.

“Then I’ll just buy an even bigger yacht,” Lemtov argues, starting to braid her hair.

“In Greece?” Mita gives him a slightly disbelieving look over her shoulder, “You know half my family is in the yacht business right? Like hell they will ever sell you a better yacht than mine.”

“Yes, yes, Mita the great Greek heiress, throwing around her influence to bully poor little Russians,” Lemtov says, combing out her hair with his fingers (which despite what he says, is silky smooth because it’s always silky smooth when she’s home).

“Oh like the way you threw around your influence and cashed in all your favors with the Eastern European bloc to get Iceland some votes?” she asks sweetly.

Lemtov shifts slightly behind her, “Well—I thought her persistence should be rewarded. And besides, the audience thought so too, or else she wouldn’t have advanced even with those votes. Plus, it’s not like it didn’t help me. They couldn’t have beat me even with their original song.”

“They might have been able to be in the running if they had gone with Sigrit’s song in the first place,” Mita says thoughtfully.

Lemtov snorts. “That would imply that oaf listening to her in the beginning, in which case, she would have been a star .”

“Mm, very true,” Mita hums in agreement, leaning into the soothing feeling of Lemtov braiding her hair.

(She can fall asleep like this.

She’s pretty sure she has before.)

“You could give it a shot where I failed, if you feel like it,” Lemtov suggests.

“Are you actually admitting I might be better than you at something, Alexander?” she asks, giving him an amused look.

Lemtov snorts, “Hardly. You can’t give her a committed relationship either, since you don’t do relationships—but maybe you’ll be able to convince her woman to woman or something.”

“Maybe after the honeymoon period has faded away,” she muses, pillowing her head in her arms. “I’ll give her a call and see where she’s at. See if she’s up for a collaboration or something.”

“While you’re at it, you might as well collaborate with me on something too,” Lemtov says, putting on an exaggerated pout.

Mita levels a look at him from her tilted vantage point, “Didn’t you say that you could be a star on your own and you didn’t need any excess weight?”

“Well that was before I had my heart broken by lovely Sigrit,” he replies blithely. “I’ve got a number all lined up for us—and Kevin Swain agreed to help out as well.”

“Did he now?” Mita closes her eyes with a smile. “Then maybe I can put up with your terrible fashion sense long enough to finish a song with you—Kevin Swain can at least fix that.”

Lemtov sighs, his fingers pausing in their movements through her hair. “He does have the most wonderful taste,” he says wistfully.

(Who knows, maybe she can sit Kevin Swain down and have a little talk with him about how if he really actually wants to be with Alexander, then he needs to learn to be discreet, or else Alexander will end up arrested or worse.

She means what she said at the end of the last Eurovision—Alexander deserves to be happy, even if he wears tacky jewelry and has the worst taste in interior design she has ever seen.)

“Do you think we can work some Greek statues into the video? Oooh, you can call up your sculpture relatives for me again, Mita, I have some great ideas—”

“No,” Mita says emphatically, not bothering to even open up her eyes. “Luke already has the biggest crush on you, and he’ll make the statues horrifically big and probably accidentally put out Kevin Swain’s eye.”

“Well, we can’t have that,” Lemtov says lightly, finishing off one deft braid. “He needs both eyes to stare at me with.”

“If your head grows any bigger, I think the boat will sink,” Mita says thoughtfully.

“But I’ll float with all the sunscreen I have on,” Lemtov replies smugly. “I told you it would come in handy.”

“Sure, sure,” Mita replies, rolling her eyes.

(Convince Sigrit to drop the oaf and collaborate with her on something, talk some sense into Kevin Swain, and arrange for Alexander’s happiness.

Well, it’s a good thing she took this vacation with her bestie.

Still, she thinks it’ll be fun.)