Description: Nan becomes Tara’s maker and runs for office. Meanwhile, Eric decides to take on the authority.
Title: Say Hello To The Rest Of Us
Title: Say Hello To The Rest Of Us
Fandom: True Blood
Characters: Nan Flanagan, Tara Thornton Eric Northman, Lafayette Reynolds, Pam Swynford de Beaufort, OC
Word Count: 13369
Author’s Note: Spoilers up until episode 4x12
Rating: Erm, I don’t get these ratings. Let’s put it like this: If you can watch True Blood, you can read this.
4 – As History Unfolds
Another speech, another Nan-show of political nonsense, applause, shaking hands; more faux smiles. Tara sighs in relief, when the car door closes and they’re alone - or as alone as you can be with a driver and Nan’s ever-buzzing phone.
“Is it that horrible?” For some reason, it seems to amuse Nan that she hates all of this. Not in a sadistic, mean way. She just seems to have slipped from agitated to amused, from anger to sarcasm, literally over night. Her poll numbers are up; maybe that’s it.
“Why are you even taking me? You always keep me away from the cameras, yet I’m supposed to follow you around. I feel like I’m in the sixties!”
“Oh, poor Tara – having no job and a limitless credit card must be so hard on you. It’s almost like slavery, isn’t it?” She’s especially smug tonight. Three campaign donations, no weird phone calls. Yet.
“Well, you do have people working for you that you don’t pay.”
Nan rolls her eyes. “They’re called campaign helpers. They’re contributing to their community by supporting me, because they want me to get elected, to represent their political interests.”
“And then you turn around and do what the corporations who paid for your campaign wanted instead,” Tara points out.
“Yes. Congratulations. You’ve understood the most basic fact about the American government and it took you only twenty-six years.” Nan leans back, closing her eyes for a moment. No speech to read, no call to answer, no important news. Twelve more minutes of peace.
Tara watches her curiously. It seems strange to see Nan relaxed. Not on alert, not vigilant, just calm and comfortable. “Can I ask you something?”
“Why are you even in politics? Is that something you got ordered to do? Cause it doesn’t seem like a whole lot of fun.”
Nan seems to hesitate, before she answers. She doesn’t trust her that much yet, or so it seems. “In the vampire hierarchy, you need to play the game, if you want to be somebody. I had… ambition, talent, a powerful maker who expected me… us to succeed. And I’d always wanted to have that, to go somewhere with what I am. If you have forever, you can go two ways – you can drift, or you can go for the top. I spent my human life under unfortunate circumstances and when I was given a new existence, I re-invented myself. It was just an offer I couldn’t refuse. They needed cover, they needed contacts in the human government, so I joined those who travelled to the New World. It was a huge let-down, at first.”
“Why?” Tara tries to remember the dates on the photos in Nan’s office. Past presidents and Nan, always there, in the background, never changing, never aging, even though the images got crisper, the men around her started wearing less hats, and less gloves.
“Well, when you get to the country that was just created out of nothing, to get away from oppression, you expect endless opportunities, freedom, new values. And then it’s 1810, everyone who is someone has slaves, women are domestic property, religion is basically just used to be abused and twisted, just as it is in Europe, and yet we were supposed to go along with this mess of a society and make sure no one finds out we exist.”
“So you saw people had slaves and your resolution was to watch it happen.” Tara can basically see it in front of her. Nan, in a fancy weird hat, long dress, wandering through the big ass house of a plantation owner, complementing him on whatever it was slave owners liked to be complimented on.
“Yes, why didn’t we just end it? Why didn’t we kill Hitler? Why not kill all dictators and free the oppressed countries, just like that? It’s a lot more complex than that, Tara; history always is. You can’t give someone civil rights, if you don’t have them yourself.”
“But you, as a white woman…”
“Me, as a woman,” Nan corrects her. “Men at that time in history weren’t exactly encouraging women to state an opinion, that came a long time after the nineteenth century. You could of course tell a plantation owner his slaves deserved money for their work, or human rights. But those people didn’t think of their slaves as humans. Their whole world view was so narrow, so limited – it just wasn’t something they ever considered. And then there’s the fact that vampires as a group don’t really think of human rights. We had our own society, our own culture. And it had to stay hidden, so a blood bath was never a good idea, not in the last few centuries when people started to pay attention. So, in a way, it didn’t matter that many of us came from oppressive conditions, like prostitution, forced marriages, earlier forms of slavery in other countries… some had ideas to end it all, of course. Idiotic ideas.” She sighs at the thought of it. “Kill all slave owners. Turn all the slaves, let them do it. Completely useless, unless you want a nation of orphans and a broken-down economy. And it would have been too suspicious, obviously. We would have risked exposure.”
“So what happened? You just ignored it?”
“Officially, yes. There was a ban on turning any slaves, or really anybody at all, but it didn’t hold up. You don’t know this from me, but a lot of slaves were turned before the Civil War. More than in any other era I witnessed. It didn’t turn out well, of course. They couldn’t all be taken into the Nothern States or to South America, some wanted to go back and turn their whole families, and most turned violent and had to be taken out. But some are still around, in Europe, mostly. You know, you can judge me all you want now, but the time will come, when you will see injustice in the world, and you will choose yourself over the oppressed.”
“I’m not that person.” Tara crosses her arms, eyeing Nan. The modern hair cut, the pant suit, the expensive, brand-name high heels – she can hardly imagine her in another era. She’s seen the pictures, but it’s still strange and weird. In the same way she can’t picture herself in a century from now. She can’t picture anything in a century from now. Without Lafayette, her mother, Sookie, Jason. Bon Temps as she knows it will be gone. The little town that she always wanted to escape – she didn’t picture it to happen like that. At all.
Nan just smiles, returning her angry stare with a wary look that shows that she is still lost in thought, lost in one of the many centuries she witnessed. “Everybody is that person.”
“Still, why did you come here? Why did you not stay in Ireland, where you knew what society was like?”
“Well, I already spoke the language, so it was very convenient. It’s not uncommon for vampires to leave their birth countries. Many of us do. You can glamour anyone to take you anywhere, to take you in, teach you their language – it’s like a free ticket to the world. Or at least it used to be. It’s actually how I met my maker.”
This is the first time she mentions anything about her past, Tara notices. Even the history lesson she just got wasn’t really about Nan herself. It was the world around her, the obstacles, the oppositions. “Will I meet your… maker?” The word still sounds odd to her, when it’s not being used by a deluded person clinging onto a bible.
“You will. Someday,” Nan replies, but she seems more reserved now.
“But you don’t plan to introduce me?” Tara tries again.
“That is not for me to decide.” Nan picks up her paper. The history lesson is over, and so is the conversation, or so it seems.
Pam can’t help nervously glancing over her shoulder every now and then. Ever since the authority questioned her in the manner you would question a white, upper-class eye witness, if you were the human police, she can’t help but wonder if this soft treatment will be over soon. If they will run into the trap that has been set up all along.
This meeting, this… opportunity, or whatever else Eric wants to call it – this could be it. The big hit that the authority has had in store for them all along. After all, the only proof they have of Nan being fired is her word, and that is worth about as much as a pair of pumps from forever21.
“Eric mentioned you had exceptional style.” The voice seems to come out of nowhere. The same goes for the woman, who it obviously belongs to. She looks ill-fitting, strange in this small hotel bar, even with her drink and the obligatory small-town hand bag. It must be the dress that looks like it could fit into several centuries, and not at all, both at the same time. Or the heavy gold jewellery. Or maybe it’s just the fact that she looks statuesque, which isn’t a very human quality. And she doesn’t even fit into one racial category, even though some of the passing hotel guests looks clearly label her ‘black.’
“Eric didn’t mention you at all. Until recently.” Pam pushes the TruBlood in a cocktail glass away from her. It’s supposed to be a nice, inclusive gesture, or a marketing strategy, or some other national AVL bullshit, but it still tastes like shit. “So, why did you decide to come?”
She shrugs. “I was curious. Lot of hit lists lately. Maybe I want to get behind the story.”
“How do I know you’re not handing Eric over straight to your buddies in the authority?” Pam tests the water.
“Because if I wanted him dead, I could just do it myself. Besides, he contacted me. Don’t you think he wouldn’t have done that, if he didn’t trust me?”
Pam tries to find a hint of mockery or threat in the other woman’s eyes, but there is none. She is all warmth, gold tones, and sickeningly – likeable. How she made it even a century in this world is beyond her. “The question is, do I trust you enough to let you near my maker?”
“You already disclosed that you know where he is. You’ve incriminated yourself to the authority as it is. And since we currently hold court over Louisiana, in the absence of a new king or queen, you’ve also committed treason.” Another warm and soft smile. “You must trust me more than you know.”
Pam eyes the pathetic bag and human drink again. “So, your actual name is Thaïs?”
“You couldn’t pronounce my actual name. And that’s not mine, the nice lady asked me to have an eye on her stuff. I’m very trustworthy.” Her eyes wander across the room. “And the people in this country are surprisingly naïve.”
“Did you come here to see Eric, or did you come to gloat about how seductive you are?”
Thaïs smiles at no one in particular. “Funny. He used to do that for me.”
Tara leans back, listening to the comforting sound of Lafayette’s voice, talking about good old Bon Temps craziness. It feels to liberating to be out of this town, to watch from afar. Still, she can’t shake off the memory of Nan’s words. Everybody is that person.
“Oh, and Sam keeps hiring new barkeepers, but they don’t really stick around. The last one turned out to be from Hotshot. Hooka, I swear, it’s like an epidemic around here. You have no idea how much you missed in two weeks.”
“I believe you.” Tara leans back, smiling. Has it only been two weeks? It’s all been happening so fast – her new life, the campaign, the fact that she never seems to be in one place for a longer time. Constant travelling, constant movement. It’s like Nan is running from or towards something, and it’s not the title she’s campaigning for, that’s for sure.
“But you know, you’ve been busy!”
“I’m sorry I didn’t call. I needed some time to… you know.”
“Yeah, I get it. But I mean it must be like hell in that campaign office after that video.”
Tara sits up, a weird sensation in her stomach. For a second, she could swear that the image of Nan’s office flashes before her eyes. “What… what video?”
“The girl, she – you didn’t see it?” Lafayette sounds genuinely surprised.
Tara gasps for air. A strange feeling, since she doesn’t need to breathe, per se. But right now it feels like an impatient pull inside of her. A direction, a calling. “I need to go.”
She hangs up, before Lafayette can answer and follows the direction her body is forcing upon her. It does really lead her to Nan’s office, where her maker sits in front of her computer, stunned and angry. “Did you know about this?”
“Oh, don’t play stupid, I could hear your cousin from downstairs. What was she thinking?”
Tara walks across the room to look over Nan’s shoulder. It’s the frozen image of a youtube video, showing none other than Holly the cheerleader, with an unusually solemn face. Nan hits replay.
“I made this video, because I have something to tell to my family and friends, and because this is easier than saying it to your faces. I don’t want to take a step back and keep hiding who I am, you have the right to know, and I have the right to be honest with you.”
“Oh, it get’s better,” Nan mutters darkly.
“Does Dan Savage pay you to say that?”
“He will pay. Smug little jerk!”
“Mum, dad – I hope you will still love me after you’ve seen this, and I hope you won’t be disappointed in me,” Youtube-Holly keeps talking. “I’m gay. Mum – this does not mean that you will never have grandchildren. And Dad – I can’t talk to you. I wish I could, but I don’t even know whether you’re still in Bagdad, and – and if you’re still alive, if you’re well… I don’t want to disappoint you, and I hope you will see this soon, and that you… that you can accept me for who I am. I need that…” At this point tears are rolling over her face and Nan is attempting to blow up the computer with her eyes. “I need that more than anything in the world. Please come back safe!”
“Has she lost her fucking mind? I’m trying to win an election here!”
“But you’re for gay rights anyway, why do you even mind?”
Nan focuses on glowering at Tara instead of the computer screen. “This was not part of the plan, she did not tell me she was gonna do this! I could have made plans, I could have posted this at a strategic time in the election and profited from it. This is unacceptable! I get along with Democrats, some Republicans, Protestants, Catholics even reporters, but the one thing I hate is amateurs.” She spits out the word as if it was a personal insult, directed at her. “Who the fuck told her she could do this?”
“Probably no one?” Tara guesses. “Why is this so bad? Can’t you still improvise and use this?” She pauses, when the revelation dawns on her. “You’re worried she’s gonna out you.”
“I’m running against a ‘family values’ candidate. Being for gay rights is popular right now to get elected in blue states. Actually being gay is a deal breaker. I might as well let you run!”
“Ah, we have a black president,” Tara feels the need to point out. “If that’s what you wanted to say.”
“And he’s one in a million. An unemployed, poor million in bad school districts, in debt and with no choice of the same future everyone else has. Statistically, he’s an impossibility! And if this little bitch keeps going, so am I! I already have the vampire thing going against me and I’m a woman! Do you know how many useless pieces of shit could come along and beat me, just because they’re men?”
“Please don’t tell me you’re rehearsing a speech about sexism in Washington right now.” It's not like she can say something else, like, for example, tell Nan that without her actions Holly probably would still be fake-straight, or might not even know that she's gay. After all, her wholesome small-town persona doesn't seem to experienced when it comes to dating, except for the local prom king at her high school.
Tara nods, looking at Holly again. She feels for the girl – something she wouldn’t have anticipated – but then she doesn’t know what will happen to herself, if Nan doesn’t win the election. “Reduce the swearing. White people usually don’t like to hear their politicians curse.”
“So, in other words, you’re not planning on being helpful?”
“Can’t you just glamour her?” Tara asks, since the whole area of politics always gets her into a fight with Nan, that always ends with the other woman debating her under the table, ignoring every counter argument she can’t defuse and hours of frustration over the whole debacle.
Something seems to dawn on Nan. She is lost, lost between the video, her ringing phone, the fax machine and the blinking mail box on her screen. “I should have taught you how to glamour someone by now.” She’s still angry, but her voice has softened remarkably. “I’m not taking enough time – I have to teach you so many things, I don’t even know where to begin.”
“It’s okay.” Tara puts a hand on her shoulder, uncertain whether this gesture will lead to bonding or yet another fight. “We have all the time in the world, don’t we?”
Pam can tell from Eric’s smile that this is it; they’ve met their biggest allie, now he’s pulling out all of his best moves. The smile that she’s never seen anyone resist. This isn’t his average explore-your-human-side-and-become-a-pus
“It has been so long.” Thaïs looks reminiscent, as Eric kisses her hand, giving her another flashing smiles. “And as I can see, you still got your charms. Specifically those you only put out when you need a favour.”
Eric sits down, offering her a wine glass full of re-heated blood.“I wouldn’t call it a favour, exactly. Maybe a plea for you to consider on what used to be your values, regarding your friends. As you may have heard, the authority, well…”
“I am a founding member of the authority, Eric. I hear everything. And I must say, you had us worried sick with your escapades. I’m not sure what it is you’re asking of me.”
Eric puts down his glass, hard. “Step up, replace those who push is in the wrong direction for their own agenda. What has the propaganda machine for the human public ever done for us? Why do they think they have the right to fire vampires like Godric who outrank them by age and power?”
Pam looks from one to the other, wondering whether this meeting might have been a mistake. She knows well that Thaïs used to be one of the oldest friends of Godric, and that she and Eric used to have a thing together, not long after he was turned – or so he told her. But right now, it doesn’t seem to be going to well.
“A power that he only had due to his age,” Thaïs interjects. “You know, we offered Godric more than that, but he refused. He had no interest in real power, he believed his followers and friends would do anything for him either way, even without a title.”
“And he was right,” Eric insists, through clenched teeth. The thought of Godric, on the roof of that damn hotel, waiting for the sun to come up – it still hurts. It always will.
“I understand that you grieve for your maker, and I respect that. It is a very special bond, for you and for me. But I can’t break all ties with the authority, just because of you. Do you want to bring us back to anarchy?”
“The royals lived by no moral code, under no control whatsoever, until we came along. They participated in human blood baths, needed to hire hundreds of procurers, just to glamour all the witnesses of their excesses. We can’t go back to the middle ages!”
Eric doesn’t answer immediately. He looks down at his hands, at the single drop of blood on one of his fingers, at his watch. Seven minutes to midnight. Time to make his move – as long as he still can. “I’ve heard a rumour that led me to believe you would be more than glad to pick a fight with some of the sections in the authority, including the ones who pushed for the sentences for Godric and me.”
“That had nothing to do with you.” Thaïs puts down her drink and gets up in one decisive move. “It was a personal conflict, and it has been resolved. Good night, Eric.”
“I’ve also heard that you planned to replace some members of the inner circle for years,” Eric calls after her. She freezes immediately. “That wouldn’t have influenced their voting on the punishment of your old friends, or the fact that they’ve always been very reluctant to promote any of your progenies? From what I’ve heard, you worked very hard to change that.”
Thaïs turns around. Her smile has vanished; her facial expression is blank. Never a good sign. “Who told you that?”
“I have my sources.” Eric gestures towards her vacated seat. “Please, stay. We have the same goals and the same opponents. We can work together.”
Thaïs eyes him thoughtfully. “Frankly, I’m surprised that I didn’t hear from you sooner. I’ll let you know.”
“Meet me in one week at the old club, the one Mercury used to host during the prohibition. I’ll find out what my section can do for you until then.” She stops one more time in the doorway. “Oh, and Eric? You shouldn’t bring your progeny with you, unless you are aware of the consequences. Right now you’re putting her in a lot of danger – do you think Godric would approve of that?”
They listen to her fading steps in silence, until Pam can’t control herself any longer. “Are you sure we can trust her?”
“Godric trusted her.” That seems to be Eric’s final word on the matter.
Pam watches him nervously, as he drinks the last of the blood and stares holes into the wall. As if brooding ever got them anywhere! What scares her the most is that Eric doesn’t seem to be certain whether he’d like to cut a deal with the authority, or start an internal war, putting them up against each other. And then there’s this other problem… What, if Godric was wrong?