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Tax Season

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Grz'lx stared at the large box sitting on their desk. Two yellowish green eyes stared back out at them through a small slit in the side.

"What," they asked, tentatively reaching out with one of their tentacles to poke at the box, "is this?"

Their assistant, Ralla, shrugged as she put a datapad down on Grz'lx's desk. "A gift from Caitlyn Murphy," she said. "That new human client you took on recently. The one you helped with the intergalactic fee conversions. She said it was something called a cat."

Grz'lx pulled their tentacle away from the box and reached for the datapad instead. "A cat?" they repeated warily. "Aren't those the odd old-Earth creatures that she breeds? The ones that have been banned in several systems? Including this one?"

Ralla shrugged again. "No idea," she said brightly. "Your thirtieth hour appointment will be here any time. Do you want me to put the cat in my office for now?"

Grz'lx glanced down at the datapad Ralla had delivered and grimaced. "I'd almost forgotten he was coming in today," they said. "Yes, please take the cat. I'll figure out what to do with it later."

They left the "and if it's even legal for it to be here" unspoken, but they were fairly certain that Ralla picked up on it anyway judging by the amused look on her face.

Without saying a word, Ralla reached down and picked up the box with her left arms. She shifted somewhat so that it was resting against her hips before heading for the bare wall on the far side of the room. A door slid open as she approached, letting her pass through before disappearing again.

"A cat," Grz'lx muttered, shaking their head. "I swear that I will never understand humans."

With a sigh, Grz'lx looked back down at the datapad they were holding. Trying to help Bahotans with their taxes wasn't easy on a good day, and He Who Sings Joyfully was difficult even for a Bahotan. They just hoped he'd listened to the suggestions they'd made last time. Otherwise, trying to prepare his taxes was going to be even more painful than usual.

Grz'lx let their eyes drift over the details provided on the datapad, taking in the information Ralla had put together. As they got near the end, their attention zoomed in on a section that was flashing red, and it took quite a bit of effort not to say something very inappropriate for work hours.

"Not again," they grumbled. "That cloud of energy is—"

The small box at the corner of their desk let out a soft chime. "He Who Sings Joyfully is here for his appointment," Ralla said, and even without seeing her face Grz'lx could practically hear the laughter in her voice. Cheeky girl. They should probably give her a raise. "Do you want me to send him in?"

Ignoring the small voice in their head that wanted to chime in with no, please don't to that question, Grz'lx reached over and put a tentacle on the small button on the side of the speaker. "Yes, please send him in."

After a moment or two, the hidden doorway in the wall slid open. A large, light blue ball of energy floated through it, coalescing into a shape vaguely reminiscent of a person as it stopped in front of their desk. Behind him, the door disappeared.

"It's good to see you again He Who Sings Joyfully," Grz'lx said, giving him a respectful nod.

The energy shifted from a light blue to a slightly darker shade. "It is good to see you as well," He Who Sings Joyfully said, his words clear in Grz'lx's mind. "This entity has a dilemma."

The smaller tendrils on the sides of Grz'lx's face rose. "So I read," they said, trying to keep their tone as even as possible. "Please tell me that you didn't actually file paperwork with the Interplanetary Revenue Service claiming that you shouldn't have to pay any taxes because, and I quote, ‘Bahot does not have any currency, only flowers.'"

Grz'lx was fairly certain that if it was possible for a form of pure light to look embarrassed, He Who Sings Joyfully would have been radiating it. As it was, the blue shifted back to a much lighter shade, so pale he was almost white.

"This entity spoke the truth," he said. "Technically."

Grz'lx rolled their eyes, their face tendrils rising even higher. "You're a spacer, He Who Sings Joyfully. It's public knowledge that you haven't floated on Bahot once since you were spawned." They gave him a pointed look. "It's also not a secret that even if Bahotans don't have a currency of their own, they have no problem using other planets' banking systems."

He Who Sings Joyfully shrunk a bit in size. "This entity might have made a misjudgment."

"That's one way of putting it," Grz'lx muttered, reaching up to pinch the bridge of their middle nose. "Did you transfer all of your tax records to Ralla?"

There was a long pause. "This entity did," He Who Sings Joyfully said almost meekly.

Grz'lx narrowed their eyes, leaning forward a bit to study He Who Sings Joyfully carefully. "All of them?" they asked. "If I know you have hidden accounts, believe me when I say that the IRS knows too."

For a moment, they thought He Who Sings Joyfully was going to argue with them. Then his pale blue shade shifted to a light red instead, a data transfer clearly happening, before going back to its usual color.

"This entity has sent the remaining files," He Who Sings Joyfully said. It was difficult to tell, considering his voice was in their head, but he sounded almost repentant.

Almost.

Grz'lx sighed. "I'm sure you sent all of them," they said dryly.

He Who Sings Joyfully shifted in place but didn't speak.

"Blatantly lying to the IRS," Grz'lx muttered, shaking their head. "You'll be lucky if they even leave you your flowers."