AN: I do not own.

They meet over tea the afternoon after Lin Beifong's resignation.

Saikhan understands her misgivings about the man. His methods are and always have been radical, completely unlike those of his older predecessors. His speeches appear effortless, his words carefully chosen and his tone calculated to attract supporters.

Tarrlok is an excellent politician and, by default, a liar.

The shop they've chosen is small, quiet, and of better quality than is often credited. They sit away from the windows, away from the tapestries and murmurs of scattered customers.

Tarrlok bows in greeting, meets his eye as they discuss policies, grins with his teeth. Saikhan drinks his tea and frowns, and eventually tires of the charade. He puts his cup down.

"Enough bullshitting," he says evenly, "What do you want from me, Councilman?"

Tarrlok's eyebrows lift just before he laughs. Saikhan waits and does not smile. Tarrlok quiets, and looks into his own cup before exhaling and meeting his gaze again.

"Just your trust."

Of course he raises an eyebrow at that, snorts. "Is that all?"

There is no mirth left in Tarrlok's face. He appears nothing so much as an honest man. "I'm aware of my reputation. Councilman Tenzin and the Avatar are both convinced this is just another ploy to gain power." Now he chuckles. It sounds artificial. In the next moment he's folding his hands, studying them intently. "Iā€¦need somebody to believe me when I say I'm trying to do what's best for this city." His head lifts once more. "Can you do that?"

Of course it could all be an act to earn his sympathy. It could be.

Saikhan sighs.

"Yeah, I think I can."