This - is just silly. Which is not surprising because the idea happened while I was talking to Mel on the phone. Silliness is pretty much guaranteed. The tax law is entirely made up (I know some Australian tax law but I was hardly going to do major research for this tale).
I guess it's just always interesting to think how the X-Men would interact with the (nearly) real world . . .
Disclaimer: Marvel owns them, except for the two I own who you can pick pretty swiftly. A late night phone call to Mel is responsible for all of it.
The Accountancy Blues
By Amanda Sichter
A thief, a hacker and an accountant walked into the IRS. Well, not walked as such. More sidled.
Through a window.
It had started over breakfast. Dr Henry McCoy had decided to leave his lab and immerse himself in the joys of a really good hot breakfast. He had bounded up the stairs, humming Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, contemplating the joys of waffles, bacon, sausages, eggs and Twinkies and found himself unexpectedly facing an ashen and rather shaky Bobby Drake.
'Felicitations on this fabulous morning, my fine friend,' he said. 'What piece of mischief has perchance caused thy jowls to droop in unhappiness this day?'
'Huh?' asked Bobby, clearly not at his best. 'Oh.' He waved a letter at Hank. 'My worst nightmare,' he declared dramatically.
'The Spice Girls have decided to re-form?' asked Hank. 'Or Angelina Jolie has declared her intention of pursuing a life of chastity?'
'Much, much worse than that,' moaned Bobby. He waved the letter again. 'Read it,' he said, clearly unable to articulate the tragic news.
Hank snaffled the waggling letter deftly from Bobby's fingers and quickly scanned it. 'Oh,' he said. 'The IRS want to do an audit on the school's books. That will be - inconvenient.'
'Inconvenient?' Bobby said hoarsely and sank into a chair, his head in his hands. He moaned for a few moments and then pulled himself together. 'They want records, Hank. They want *records*!'
'Well, we have records.' He looked at Bobby's face. 'Don't we?' said Hank, rather timidly.
'You remember all those times the Mansion got destroyed? Like five or six times in the last few years? Where do you think the records were?' He buried his face in his hands again and started moaning again. 'I know I shouldn't have let the Professor persuade me that we could claim the cost of re-building the mansion each time. I know I should have kept the records at the bank. I couldn't sleep. Every April, I couldn't sleep. All sweaty with the fear and the terror. They're going to ruin me. They'll disbar me. Ban me. They'll take away my license. They'll take away my degree. They'll take away my *birthday*.'
Hank looked at Bobby in considerable concern, seriously wondering whether his best friend was going to literally dissolve into a puddle. He lay a gently consoling hand on Bobby's shoulder and his telepathic voice was tentative as he said, ~Um, Professor. I think we may have a small problem.~
'My name is Johnson,' said the dark-haired IRS man in the black suit.
'And my name is Johnston,' said the other dark-haired IRS man in the black suit.
Bobby grinned at them somewhat manically, ignoring Jean's kick at his ankle. 'Robert Drake,' he said. 'I do the accounts for the school. Accounts, yes, records.' His laugh was unexpected, high-pitched and on the very edge of hysteria. Jean decided not to be gentle any more and telepathically kicked him in the higher brain functions. Bobby shut up, although it seemed nothing would remove the grin.
'Mr Johnson. Mr Johnston,' said the Professor smoothly. 'My name is Professor Charles Xavier. I run the school. It seems unusual that you'd be auditing our tax returns after so long.'
'Unusual?' said Johnson.
'Unusual,' echoed Johnston, 'is claiming several million dollars in repairs each year for a "School for Gifted Students". I'm afraid an audit was inevitable, Professor.'
Bobby nearly managed another hysterical cackle but Jean caught it in time, shoving a telekinetic gag into his mouth.
'We have nothing to hide,' said Xavier, smiling at the men. 'I'm sure you'll find that Mr Drake has done an excellent job in taking care of our very complex accounts.'
Johnson smiled, a baring of shark-sharp teeth. 'I'm sure you have nothing to hide, Professor,' he said.
'The presumption of innocence,' added Johnston. 'Though there don't seem to be many students around.' He glanced rather pointedly at the empty corridors.
'Our school is not a conventional school,' replied Xavier, rather more coolly. 'More a college. Our students are somewhat older than at a high school. Now perhaps you would care to come to the dining room, where I believe Robert has the information you require.'
~I could kill 'em, Chuck,~ offered Logan somewhat unexpectedly from where he was lurking behind the architrave. ~Disembowel them. No-one'd ever find the bodies.~
~No, Logan,~ replied Charles. ~Not that the offer isn't appreciated but we shall show the IRS that our claims are all legitimate. We shall face this audit with dignity and come out of it with all of our integrity intact.~
And with immense gravity, Xavier turned his wheelchair around and led the men from the IRS into the dining room. For one short, sharp moment Bobby thought of fleeing and his foot was actually poised in mid-air when Jean caught him with a telepathic punch and drove him, mentally screaming for mercy, after them.
'I'm afraid those records have been destroyed,' said the Professor calmly.
'Again?' said Johnson.
'They were only from last year,' added Johnston.
'That would have been just before the meteor struck,' replied the Professor, somewhat apologetically. 'We have photos if you wish to see them.'
'I don't think that will be necessary,' said Johnson.
'I think we've seen enough of the photos of the time the school was destroyed by the lightning strike and subsequent fire,' said Johnston.
'And the time it was destroyed by the several large trucks that ran into it,' said Johnson. 'One after another.'
'And the time that a mutant battle unexpectedly took place directly overhead and ended with the school,' Johnston looked at his notes, 'having "all of the metal struts removed and turned into something resembling a giant pretzel leading to the complete collapse of the remaining structure".'
'Your school seems to be very accident-prone,' remarked Johnson.
'I would imagine your insurance premiums are quite - excessive,' said Johnston.
'Quite,' said the Professor. 'Luckily we have very understanding neighbours.' His smile was icily polite.
Johnson and Johnston looked back at their notes and then up again. 'I note that three years ago you claimed a deduction for dividend structuring costs.'
'That requires a Form 39XR1 to be completed,' said Johnston.
'I did,' said Bobby, his eyes glazed. 'I did complete one. It was a beautiful form. Just lovely. All those beautiful numbers. Completely justified all of the deductions.'
'But,' said the Professor, 'I'm afraid that those records . . .'
' . . . have been destroyed,' chorused Bobby, Johnson and Johnston.
~You *can't* erase their memories, Professor,~ wailed Bobby telepathically.
~Actually I'm very good, Robert,~ replied the Professor. ~I could easily erase their memories.~
~Well, yes, you can,~ conceded Bobby. ~But you *shouldn't*.~
~They're planning to disallow the majority of our deductions because of the lack of required records. Do you realise how much that will cost me?~
~How do you know they're planning to disallow the deductions?~ asked Bobby, somewhat frantically. ~They won't know that until they've gone back to the office.~
The Professor sighed. ~I'm a telepath, Robert. I'm reading their minds. Believe me, they're planning to disallow the majority of deductions.~ Xavier could be a kind man when he chose to be, so he refrained from informing Bobby of the auditors' opinions of his accountancy skills. It was hardly Bobby's fault that the school had been destroyed so many times and their tax records with it. He turned his wheelchair and rolled from the room.
Leaving Bobby a crumpled heap behind him. 'But, Professor,' he said weakly. 'Ethics, standards. Records! They have records!' He leapt up and ran to the dining room but by the time he got there it was all too late.
'What have you done?' asked Bobby in horror.
'We appear to have become lost,' replied Mr Johnson.
'We are supposed to be at the beach,' said Mr Johnston. 'This is definitely not a beach.'
'Robert,' said the Professor, smiling benignly. 'Meet Mr Johnson and Mr Johnston. They are life-guards who work on a beach somewhere in Florida . . .'
'Miami,' interrupted Mr Johnson.
'Miami,' conceded Xavier. 'Who are somewhat astray. We shall send them on their way with correct directions and let them live out the rest of their days in a bliss of sun, sand and surf.' He positively beamed at the two men. 'So much nicer than being auditors.'
'But Professor,' hissed Bobby, 'They have records!'
'Records?' said Xavier, somewhat bemused.
'Personnel records! Letters! Files! We'll never escape the IRS!' He curled up again, as close as he could get to the fetal position while still standing up. 'How do you explain that the auditors have gone missing? They'll come for us. We're doomed. Doomed!!!'
The hand on his arm was cool and the Professor's thoughts were soothing. ~It's alright, Robert. I have a plan.~
Remy was sulking.
Remy was really quite terribly good at sulking.
'I don' see why we have to have La Chatte along. I'm a Master-T'ief, non?' He gave Bobby a look that contained more than a suspicion of a pout.
'And Kitty's an expert hacker,' replied Bobby patiently. 'We need her to hack into the database and get rid of any trace of the audit.'
'Note de Master,' replied Remy. '*Master*-T'ief. Not jus' a t'ief. I can hack into de database if you wan'.'
'You can hack?' Bobby asked, fascinated.
'Half de t'ings I t'ieve are information. Dat's where de power is dese days.'
'That you thieve?' asked Bobby. 'Present tense? I thought you were retired.'
Remy did not deign to reply to that, simply glancing at Bobby sideways through fire-bright eyes, his hands firmly crossed across his chest, his expression one of wounded dignity.
Bobby sighed. 'Look, Remy,' he said, his hands making little placating movements, 'it's not that I don't think you can't hack. But Kitty can definitely hack. And she can blow the whole mainframe if that's what we need. *Without* leaving scorch-marks. And besides, I've already asked her.'
'Well,' replied Remy, not looking the slightest bit placated, 'if you've already asked her, dat's different. Can' be rude to de chere.'
'Good,' said Bobby, relieved. 'When do you want to meet?'
'You're coming too?' Remy looked even more incredulous. 'What do we need you for?'
'I thought you weren't going to be rude,' said Bobby.
'Not to Katy. Doesn' mean I can' be rude to you.' Remy's pout was no longer a suspicion
Bobby grinned suddenly. 'So you know how to be an accountant, too? How to do accounts for business? To - um - *minimise* taxation?'
'Of course not,' said Remy, even more offended. 'Dat's not a t'ief t'ing. Dat's just for *embezzlers*.' The depth of contempt in the last word could not be plumbed.
'Then you need me,' said Bobby, as if it was self-obvious.
'Alright den,' said Remy. 'Meet me in de entranceway at eleven. And wear black. Not your uniform. Don' wan' you breakin' into de IRS in your underpants.' He gave Bobby the slightest of grins, the look in his eyes making Bobby suddenly wonder if the sulking had been nothing but an act.
Bobby shrugged the thought off. He didn't care what Remy thought of it. He just wanted to get into the IRS and get this whole thing off his conscience. Or onto his conscience. He couldn't work out which one it was any more.
So . . .
A thief, a hacker and an accountant sidled into the IRS.
'I don't know why we need you here,' grumbled Kitty as they crept towards the IRS building. She poked Remy with her unlit torch. 'I could just phase Bobby and me in through the windows.'
'And run into de security guards,' said Remy. ''Sides, do you know where de mainframe is?'
'No,' pouted Kitty, 'but it wouldn't have taken me long to find it.'
'But I know exactly where it is. And when de guards do dere rounds. Dere's a big difference between breaking in and being a t'ief, you know.' He really wasn't going to let that go, thought Bobby. The Cajun's fingers drifted around the lock and the tiniest light sizzled for a moment within it and then went out. Remy lifted the window slightly to check it would open and then dropped it again in satisfaction.
'So come on,' said Kitty impatiently. 'You opened it. Let's go in.'
'Hush, chatte,' said Remy and lay a finger on her lips. She glared at him for a moment and opened her mouth, then shut it as torch-light swept from inside the window and the silhouette of a guard went past. He didn't notice the black-clad three lurking outside the window and continued on what were obviously his rounds. Remy opened the window and bowed theatrically. 'Maximum time,' he said. 'He won' be back for at least two hours now.'
'How do you know this?' murmured Bobby as he slid in through the window.
'Broke in here, 'bout t'ree weeks ago,' replied Remy casually, shutting the window behind them.
'You broke into the IRS?' asked Bobby, incredulous. 'What for?'
Remy shrugged. 'Practice,' he said.
'Practice?' Bobby nearly strangled on the word.
'Well, okay, fun,' replied the thief.
Kitty said casually, 'Must have been about the same time I broke into the database.'
Remy looked at her. 'Practice?' he asked.
'Fun,' she replied. The thief and the hacker grinned at each other.
The accountant waved his hands in despair behind them. 'You people are really weird,' he said and followed them further into the building.
'I've found the accounts,' said Kitty, peering into the monitor-light. 'Jeez, Bobby, what is this crap.'
'It's not crap,' said Bobby, rather offended. 'They're just tax returns.'
'Look like crap to me,' offered Kitty and giggled when Bobby poked her tongue out at him. 'Hey, maybe I could erase it all.'
'The school accounts?' asked Bobby.
'No, all of it,' said Kitty. 'The whole tax database. No-one'd ever have to pay tax again.'
Bobby came round to find Remy slapping him not quite softly enough. 'Hey,' he protested weakly, pushing away Remy's hands.
'You fainted,' said Remy and gave a shrug that didn't look particularly apologetic. 'I needed to bring you around.'
Kitty loomed behind him, a glass of water in her hand. 'Oh, he's awake,' she said, sounding disappointed. 'I don't get to throw water at him. I always wanted to do that. Guess you should drink it.' She handed Bobby the glass and he downed it gratefully. Then he remembered why he'd fainted and sputtered the last half of it out.
'You didn't erase the database, did you?' he squeaked and sighed with relief when Kitty shook her head. 'Thank goodness. Don't erase it. Whatever you do - don't erase it.'
'Why not?' asked Kitty. 'It'd be great if no-one had to pay tax.'
Bobby's little accountant soul clenched in panic and he couldn't control the babbling flow of his words. 'Don't - no tax - no hospitals, roads, things with the money, schools and colleges and, oh my goodness, do you know how much money we get back in rebates each year and the Professor would go crazy and there wouldn't be any money any more and we'd have to grow our own food and Hank's lab'd close down and there wouldn't be any research and I wouldn't have a job. There'd be crazed accountants roaming the streets. Gangs of them. Starving gangs of them. Starving gangs of accountants on the streets and you wouldn't be safe in your houses . . .'
Remy slapped him again. He really seemed to be enjoying that way too much, thought Bobby somewhat resentfully, as he rubbed at his cheek. But he did shut up.
'So I guess I don't erase the whole database,' Kitty said to Remy, who shrugged.
'Don' worry me,' he said. 'I'm not on record. Never paid tax in my life.'
Bobby put his hands over his ears. 'Don't tell me,' he said. 'Don't say anything else. Kitty just - okay, we need to change the audit records to show it was finalised and there was no change necessary. Then we need to get into the personnel files and put in letters of resignation for Johnson and Johnston and sort out their pay and stuff. That's it! Don't touch anything else, okay.'
'Okay,' said Kitty and turned back to the database, her fingers flying over the keyboard.
A thief, a hacker and an accountant walked into a bar.
'Harry,' called Remy. 'Trois beers, non?' Harry nodded and set up the beers.
Bobby, in an excess of relief downed his in one swallow. Kitty tapped her glass against Remy's in a toast of celebration and sipped delicately at the brew, making a face at the bitterness of it but enjoying it nonetheless.
'So, a successful evening,' she said and Remy grinned at her.
'Oui, mon chatte,' he replied. 'Good all round. No more audit, no more auditors and Bobby here can stop havin' his nervous breakdown all over de place.'
'I'm not having a nervous breakdown,' Bobby half-shouted, running a shaking hand through his hair. 'Okay, maybe I am,' he conceded. 'Just - it's hard, okay. Being an accountant and doing illegal things.'
'Really?' asked Kitty in some astonishment. 'I thought you couldn't get employed by some of the big firms unless you'd do illegal things. Kind of a pre-requisite - "will you turn a blind eye to the fact the company is insolvent if they're paying the firm consultancy fees?"' She turned wide and far too innocent eyes on Bobby, who responded with a rude gesture at her and a far more polite one at Harry requesting more beer.
'That's not illegal,' said Bobby finally, after inhaling his second beer. 'Just - specialist.'
'Well, it's done, anyway,' said Remy. 'All we got to do now is get de boys down to Miami and dere be not'ing more to worry 'bout.'
'Thank goodness,' muttered Bobby and sank into his third beer. He wasn't going to stop shaking until they were finally free of the IRS in every form.
'And I put a note on the file,' added Kitty. 'The school isn't going to be audited again. So you can relax next time the mansion gets destroyed, Bobby.' She hit him on the arm when she saw the evil look he was giving her. 'You know what I mean,' she said. 'Nothing wrong with what I did. Just - specialist.'
She grinned at him as he signalled for his fourth beer and watched Remy laughing at him. She decided very, very quietly that she'd never tell Bobby about the other little modification she'd made. The one where her name was erased from the database so she'd never pay tax again.
There was some things it was better that an accountant just didn't know.
Somewhere, sometime later.
Well, okay, Miami Beach in summer.
'I'm sorry, ma'am, but you can't swim unless you've filled out a few forms,' said Johnson.
'But,' said the bewildered woman in the flowered swimsuit, her three children flocked around her knees, 'we just want to go for a swim.'
'Yes, ma'am,' said Johnston, 'but we need to make sure you're safe during your time at the beach.'
Johnson leaned down from his tower and handed her a sheaf of forms. 'Just a few forms, madam, and then you and your children can swim. You need to fill out a Form 12B - that's Proof of Ability to Swim - one for each of you. Then we need a Form 11C - that's a Disclaimer from State Responsibility for any Animal Attacks. We also need at least three separate forms of proof of identity for each of you. Then there's a Form 6X - where you agree that you will at all times while on the beach wear sunscreen. Then you also need a Form 8Y - . . .'
Johnston listened to the list with satisfaction and looked out over his domain. The ocean was empty (always the safest thing, he thought) and the beach was full of people with their heads down over their forms, their hands waving wildly in the air. They wouldn't complain, he knew that, because if they tried that, they needed to fill out at least four complaint forms.
There was a faint nagging feeling inside of him. He felt it sometimes and he wondered whether there was something else he was supposed to be doing. But as he looked out over the beach he decided there was nothing else he wanted to be doing. The beach had been so *disorganised*. No forms. No order. No safety. Just people running around and having fun. How could you have fun if you hadn't been authorised to have fun? Now that he and Johnson were here it was all so much - neater.
The nagging feeling was wrong.
They were exactly where they belonged.