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A Very Taxing Day
Warning: Slash (very mild)
Summary: Well, it's tax season here, and I needed a diversion. A sequel to "There Goes the Neighborhood" but only in location.
Thanks: To PK – who is patient and persistent and only a little picky. Thank you to all you do and all you don't do and everything in between.
Informational Note: Personal Income Taxes are due April 15th in the States, but Corporate Income Taxes are due March 15. For the sake of this story, our guys have Incorporated. I hope you enjoy.
@@@ A Very Taxing Day @@@
"Hey, Colonel, you heard from Face lately?"
Hannibal Smith propped his feet up on the coffee table after moving his beer an inch to the left to make sure he didn't knock it over. "Not yet today, but I expect he'll call in around dinner time. Did you need something?"
"Nah, just wondering how he was doing."
"Well, if you talk to him, tell him I got the aircraft carrier poster."
"See ya' later, Colonel."
"See ya', Murdock." He hung up the phone and stared at the muted ball game for a few minutes, his mind awash with thoughts.
He was thinking of Murdock in the VA. This was an active time of the year for the patients. A new year always brought new activities from the staff. Murdock had been talking about art classes and therapy with paints and clay. They were also doing some nature walks and field trips that were scheduled for before the summer heat set in.
That left him thinking about the last member of his team. Face. And the delicate question – should he or shouldn't he? This was March and the flurry of tax season was upon them. Not that it usually effected the actions of the team, but it did effect the actions of one member.
Face did the tax returns. And each year they got more and more complex because the team kept taking on clients who made them partners in their businesses. And the one thing Face was not going to take a chance on was that they would get their pardons, only to be put in jail for tax evasion. So he was even more meticulous in his number crunching than ever. He gathered information and calculated and did all the things he should do.
After a long, drawn-out discussion, they had named their business "Paladin Enterprises." Wanting to keep things low-key, the other team members had refused to go along with Smith's idea to simply name it "The A-Team." But in the end, the only thing that had persuaded the Colonel was that many of the clients who would be sending them checks might end up in trouble with the military for aiding and abetting. Smith had finally relented and the corporation was born. Unfortunately, that meant corporate tax returns and all the other paperwork that went with it.
Although usually an affable person, this was the time of the year when Face could be counted on to be shortsighted and short-tempered. Gathering the financial bits of their lives together, putting it on paper, and mailing it to the same government that was chasing them made him irritable. Face had developed a very complex system of private mailboxes to insure that the returns weren't traced back to a physical address, but at the same time, they stayed within the letter of the law.
They had never yet been audited. Although Hannibal wouldn't put it past the military to try to have them audited, just to get one of them to show up, as of yet, no one in the military had gotten the IRS to capitulate. If they'd even thought of it.
Instead, Face took himself off where he could spread out all the records of income and expenses for the year. He made phone calls to their business partners and worked his magic, getting all the records together for the team's business and then filing their own personal taxes.
Face liked to hole up and spread out, and work and worry the numbers without interruption, but left to his own devises, he was likely to get so busy he'd barely remember to eat. Not that the Lieutenant ever came out of his cave starving to death. He'd eat take-out and drink old coffee until he was again ready to face the world.
But this was where
And every year, he left Face alone until the lieutenant emerged blurry eyed and unshaven, but in much better spirits. He would request their signatures and be off to the post office. This would usually be followed with a day or two of indulgent nights on the town, dining in fine restaurants and dancing until late in the evening.
After making sure his apartment was secure, he headed out.
18022 Highfield was a pretty little
two-story house on a quiet cul-de-sac in suburban
It was just another quiet neighborhood in another sleepy community. The house was pretty to look at from the
outside, and as
He parked his car on the right side of the drive and got out. He stepped up onto the bumper so that he could peer into the garage through the tiny windows at the top of the garage door. There, parked beside cans of paint and other remodeling supplies and numerous boxes was the white Corvette.
He jumped down from the bumper, and found himself face to face with an octogenarian woman holding a broom like a baseball bat. "Hi," he grinned.
"Don't you "Hi" me – what do you think you're doing?"
"You don't live here! We know the boy that lives here, and you aren't him."
"Folks that live in their houses don't usually come in by way of the garage," the other one pointed out, using the business end of the hose to make her point.
"Just knock on the door, ma'am. Really, I do live here. I
just haven't been here in a while."
The two women eyed him suspiciously, neither moving a step closer to the door.
"The boy that lives here,"
The hose lady shook her head. "You could be one of those stalker fellas. I think you should get back in your car and go back where you came from."
Face didn't bother hiding either his surprise or amusement at the situation. Standing before him was Lt. Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, the man who had succeeded in avoiding capture by police, military and various hoodlums, being held captive by two ladies with gardening tools. "What's going on here?" Face attempted to be forceful, but laughter colored his voice.
"This man," distaste colored the hose lady's voice, "says he lives here."
Face raised one eyebrow and shifted to lean against the stucco wall of the garage. "He does, does he?"
Face laughed out loud and moved behind the wizened woman with the broom. "Daisy." Face gently took hold of the weapon and then gave it back to her. "I do know this man." His lips twitched in amusement again. "And although it's a stretch to say he lives here, I suppose it's as much his house as mine." Face watched as the other woman lowered her hose. "Thank you, Iris, for looking out for me."
"Well, you can't be too careful anymore," Iris replied firmly. "Last time, we durn near got the whole neighborhood shot up, cuz we let those undesirables in here."
"You can trust me," Face grinned outright. "He's one of the desirables."
After some quick introductions, the two sisters went back to their
house and Face helped
"What have you got here?" Face asked as he dug into the bags. First came out a large Styrofoam bowl with a mixed salad. Next was a loaf of still warm French bread wrapped in aluminum foil. At the bottom of the bag was a large foil container with a cardboard lid that held an aromatic dish of lasagna. Face carefully laid each item on the counter. The second bag contained two appetizers, one, stuffed mushrooms, the other, garlic shrimp, as well as a decadent looking chocolate mousse. The third bag had silverware, napkins and a tablecloth. "What is all this?"
Face had spread the contents out along the white faux marble counter. "I can see that. How many people are joining us?"
Face moved to the dining room table and pulled off the drop cloth. "I'll see if I can find something to wipe this down."
And watching as Face visibly relaxed in his chair, he knew he'd been successful. This was a side of his second-in-command rarely seen by the public. A side Hannibal himself cherished when in its presence.
A dark brown beard with a reddish tint,
graced the normally clean-shaven features, a startling contrast to the younger
man's sun bleached blond hair. His blue
eyes seemed almost stormy, as if matching the dark gray Loyola-Marymount sweatshirt. The overworked look
Face pushed his plate away and picked up his wineglass. "That was a wonderful meal."
With a stab of his fork
"No, I couldn't eat another bite." Face pulled at the waistband of his jeans.
"But I brought mousse."
"I didn't save room," Face groaned.
"Thank heaven. I can't remember the last time I ate so much." He shoved his chair back, and drained his wineglass. They made just as quick work cleaning up as they had in setting up, before moving into the living room.
There was a gas fireplace in one corner
"There's no TV hookup," Face said, as he flopped on the couch, the top button of his jeans undone.
"Don't need it."
"They're doing good. And they pay on
time. Ten percent doesn't seem like a
lot, I know, but when you get into ten percent of 28 companies and 15 percent
of nine more and twenty percent of five others, it starts to add up." Face eyed the coffee table full of papers,
but he didn't want to start back in. Instead, he toed off his deck shoes and
pulled his legs up onto the brown-striped couch. One foot rested against
"No, just changing some investments around. I can't believe where interest rates are right now. I've locked some of our capital up in long-term CD's. Moved some money into utilities and stuff. We gotta keep diversified."
He casually studied the list of investments. Face had never kept
anything secret, and yet, none of them really paid much attention. It was a fact that any of them could be dead
the next day, and as long as he had a roof over his head and food in his belly,
"Stock," Face replied and settled in next to his partner.
"We're in the apple business? I remember the watermelon farm, and the natural soda factory and I think there's even a beer garden. When did we go into the apple business?"
Face chuckled. It was a nice sound and
"Are you kidding?" Face grinned. "In five years, people will have computers in their homes. Some folks have them now."
"Wanna bet? I'll bet you,"
Face stuck out his hand without hesitation. "I'll bet a trip
After they broke apart, Face stayed where he was, his head nestled
"It'll be there tomorrow,"
"Sonny!" There was a sudden banging at the front door. "Sonny, come help Matilida."
Face sat back with a grin. "You take care of that, okay?"
"It's Matilida. You have to help
It was an hour before he got back, frazzled and out of sorts. It had taken him a good ten minutes with his sleeve being tugged, before he learned that "Matilida" was a cat. Armed with a can of tuna, he got the wayward feline down from the cherry tree and carried her back into Daisy's house. Then he was plied with tea and cookies, and asked a dozen questions, not only about himself, but also about "that nice boy that lives next door."
By the time he got back to "the nice boy that lives next door," his partner was hard at work at the coffee table again.
Biting his lower lip, he watched silently as Face ripped open
another envelope and scanned the contents.
Face had a mechanical pencil in his hand and another tucked behind one
ear. Deciding to let him work for the moment,
"Dessert. Are you ready for dessert?"
Face swiveled in his place, sitting on the floor in front of the
coffee table, and blinked back at
Face gave a slow roll of his shoulder and then flashed a blinding smile. "I shouldn't, but I'd love it."
The Colonel was reaching for his 9mm before the knocking stopped.
"Hey, Ateam, you in there?"
Face shook his head and made a sweeping gesture toward the door. "Oh, feel free."
With a puzzled look,
" 'Oh' is right," Face said with a grin.
"Hey, Ateam, how ya' doin'?"
"Great, Joe. How are you?"
"Good, good. You know, not the president of the Watch. We disbanded, don't you know. Don't know why, and I still think it was a mistake, but folks stopped coming to the meetings. Don't know why, served those little wieners and everything, but hey, what can you do?"
"I don't know, Joe."
"Hey," Joe reached in with a meaty paw and snagged
The Colonel got a quick and unmemorable tour of the urban commando's home, filled with more things in camo material than he'd ever dreamed of, and then was quickly ushered out to the garage.
"Can you fix it?" Joe pleaded standing next to his little mini-tank.
"Sorry, Joe. BA's the mechanic."
Joe looked down on his urban assault vehicle as if his best friend had died.
"But she's such a sweet machine. Can't figure out why she won't start. What do you think? Think it's the battery or the wiring?"
"Joe, I don't know."
Before he could squeeze a word in edgewise,
"What do you think? Pretty nifty, don't you think? It's the only one for miles around."
"It brings fresh air in."
"But you're down here, because up there, the air is no good, right?"
"Right. Once the big bomb goes off, it won't be fit to live on the surface." Joe patted the block wall with great pride.
"But you're bringing that air down
"Oh." Joe stared up at his air vent as if never having seen it before.
"Look, Joe, I know you'll work it out. I've really got to
run. See ya'."
It had started to rain, a fine mist that coated everything and left the night feeling dark and dreary, which was beginning to match his mood.
He made his way across the street, only occasionally noticing the large drops as they came off the power lines. A light was shining in the dining room and one in the hall, but the front room was dark. The papers were stacked in neat piles, the calculator turned off, and the tape picked up and stuffed in the overflowing trashcan.
With a sigh,
The windows in the front bedroom were still bare, the curtains
having come down during the remodel.
The light was off in the room, but the bathroom light was on, making it easy enough to maneuver around the unfamiliar room. Face's jeans and sweatshirt were piled on the floor right next to the bed.
He opened his eyes and realized he'd left the bathroom light on.
Suppressing the urge to swear, he got up and moved around the bed, and turned
off the light. With his hands
outstretched in the dark,
In just minutes, his partner murmured and rolled over, moving closer and tossing an arm over the Colonel's chest. The scent of Face's hair teased him and he planted a kiss on the soft strands.
There was something about sleeping with your partner that provided a deeper, more restful sleep. Maybe it was something about having someone else there in case of trouble. Maybe it was just the knowledge that you weren't alone.
But at some time during the night,
Sometime during his next few minutes of mental ramblings, he drifted off to sleep.
He woke again as the first hints of morning sun squeezed through the center crack in the curtain. His partner was in bed again, softly snoring.
The crackle and pop of a walkie-talkie
was a sound that tended to cut through all others in a busy city and go
The dark haired one was expounding the importance of the correct amount of onions and Worcestershire sauce made all the difference in award winning chili. The blond man seemed blandly uninterested, as if he'd heard it all before - and from the speed of his companion's conversation, maybe more than once.
Turning back to the cashier,
Flipping on the radio, he listened to the morning news, colored by the popular commentators, Bob and Ray, as they inflicted their listening audience with their brand of humor. On the seat beside him, he had a bag of fresh croissants and fruits that he'd decided to surprise his partner with. The biggest surprise would probably be that it wasn't a breakfast of steak and eggs.
"Doesn't he realize that just
because it says 35 miles an hour – that's just a suggestion?"
Looking up, he realized he was directly behind the mud green sedan. There was another similar one ahead of it and, checking his rearview mirror, he saw there were at least two more behind him. The light changed, and by the time he had followed the two cars around three corners, he knew for sure just where they were headed.
Somehow, they'd gotten wind of where Face was – and the military was on the way to arrest him. Them, if he'd been there. Donna Summer's tune, "She works hard for the money," actually got his blood pumping, and with a grin, he dialed the operator on his mobile phone.
"Operator, can you connect me with
Daisy Moore in
"Yes, but I'm calling from my car. Could you do me a big favor and go next door and tell Face, uhm, Templeton, that I'll be there in about two minutes to pick him up, and he needs to hurry."
There was a noise of dismay on the line, but she seemed to agree. "I've told that boy before, he needs to get a phone. Who doesn't have a phone in this day and age?"
"I have no idea." Ending the
The only problem was that the military
knew where they were going and
The last turn took him down the
cul-de-sac that was
After flipping a fast U-turn around the
edge of the street,
"What about my car?" Face moved the envelope from one hand to the other and reached for the handle.
"I'd hustle if I was you,"
Two green sedans rounded the corner as
Face dropped the envelope on the seat and grabbed for the dashboard.
The cars veered aside and
"How did this happen?" Face asked, as he reached under the front seat to see if there was a weapon.
"Haven't the foggiest,"
There was no weapon under the seat and Face hazarded a glance at his commander.
"It's in the trunk."
"Fat lot of good that does me." Face pushed the little silver button on the glove box.
"There isn't a weapon in there, either."
"I'm looking for a pen." Not finding one, Face pushed the lid shut and then dug between the seats until he came up with a blue ballpoint. Shifting on the seat he opened the envelope and began to sort through it. Balancing some forms on his knee, he signed as best he could as they crossed into oncoming traffic and then back again. "I need a post office."
"I just need a post box, I have stamps."
"Can it wait?"
"As long as it's in today's outgoing mail. I'd hate to pay a late filing fee."
"Don't we have until April 15th?"
"For our personals, yes, but corporate returns are due on March 15th."
"How'd we do this year?"
Face checked to be sure there were enough stamps on all the envelopes. "If I explained it, would you understand – or care?"
"Let's just say, we're making a
profit." Face shifted in the seat and looked out the back window. He
grabbed the seat back as
"Forge away. BA doesn't care."
Face turned back to the stack of papers in his lap and signed BA's name. "And yours?"
"Am I getting a refund?"
Face looked back out the rear window, but they were too far ahead to see the driver clearly. "No, you're not getting a refund. Where would they mail it? You have to pay $53.00."
"That's not too bad."
"You only have to pay eight dollars
to the State of
get off the freeway."
"What about my car?"
"We'll have to worry about that later."
"Did they follow you?" Face
looked over at
"No, they didn't follow me. I was behind them. They knew where they were going." The sound of the right turn indicator was the only noise in the car.
"I don't think Iris and Daisy would turn me in," Face finally said.
The light changed and
"Drat, that means I'm going to have to sell. And I liked that place." Face tapped the ballpoint against his teeth. "Well, the market's up. I'll hire a contractor to finish the repairs. I'm sure we'll at least break even, even if we don't make much of a profit."
"Seems we lost them."
"Well, then, let's go do something
"Just what do you have in mind, sir?" Face shook his head as he rolled down the window.
"Lunch? What fun is that? And I haven't even had breakfast yet."
"Well, there's croissants and fruit in the bag on the back seat." They both hazarded a glance into the back; the contents of the bag were all over the floor. "We could go to the beach and have fresh oysters and watch the pretty people."
Face considered this for a long minute,
his hair being ruffled in the warm
They made the light and
A long walk on the boardwalk had
followed a lunch at the high-tone restaurant.
After that, they went to the Cinerama Dome to see an afternoon showing
of "Return of the Jedi."
At in the morning, it was time to go home. "I guess my car's at an impound lot somewhere?" Face's tone reflected both his dejection and just how tired he was.
"We could go check if you want,"
"Would you mind? I know the house
"I don't mind."
Sitting there in the dark,
"I like when we can end a night like this," Face said softly. "Quiet, just the two of us."
"Well, I was hoping for a slightly
more – energetic end to the evening."
"Then put this chariot in gear, sir. I'm too old for a tumble in the back seat of your car."
With exaggerated speed, the Colonel snapped his arm down from the seat back, threw the car in reverse, and burned rubber down the hill.
Less than thirty minutes later, the blue
sedan slid into the driveway of the house on
From inside the car,
"So," he started slowly, trying to gauge just how down Face was feeling. "Where to next, kid?"
Not answering, Face turned toward the side
of the car, making an effort to put on his seat belt.
With jerky movements, Face rolled down the window and cleared his throat. "Good evening, Miss Iris."
boy. I was hoping to catch you,
but I surely didn't think you'd come by tonight." She bent over a little
so she could see in the window. "Hello,
"Those military types were here most of the afternoon. They came back about an hour after you left this morning. What a nuisance." She put her hands on her knees as if she intended to stay and chat awhile.
"Well, they might be back a time or
two, ma'am, but I don't think they'll be much more bother."
"Ha, bother. It was great fun." Iris continued with a grin. "And we finally got to find out who the informant was. That nasty Mrs. Slesselwait at 18028. Busybody!"
"One neighbor you forgot to charm,
"Oh, she didn't rat him out. She ratted out you." Iris dipped down a little more, to be sure she was looking straight across at the Colonel.
"Yup. She had orders to report any car that stayed overnight in the driveway. That would be you."
Face snorted out a laugh and turned to
grin at his neighbor.
"Well, that's the end of this car,
"I liked this car,"
"Nope, we better get rid of it."
"Just don't let him get me something small. If I end up with another Corvair, there will be training exercises the likes of which have never been dreamed of before."
Iris was watching the two of them with an indulgent smile on her face. "Well, you could just leave it here. And take your own car."
Face whipped around and pinned her with incredulous eyes. "My car?"
"Sure enough." She smiled at him and laid a hand over his fingers where they gripped the doorframe. "When I saw the military chase you out of here, I knew they'd be back. Daisy said they wouldn't, but I know their type. My husband was in the war, you know."
She continued on, not waiting for either of them to say anything. "My son runs a service station over in Van Nuys. Well, I just had him come over and he got the car started, and it's in my garage right this minute."
Face was grinning from ear to ear, and
"We got Joe Skrylow to gather up all your boxes of stuff and every lick of paper we could find, and it's all in his bomb shelter. 'Bout time that thing was put to good use."
That was enough to get both men laughing, and Face took her hand in his and kissed the back of her fingers. "You, my dear, dear lady, are an angel."
"Yes, I know."
She blushed prettily and her brown eyes sparkled at him in the moonlight. "Well, my son thinks I'm crazy now. Which is good. I think he'll come by more often to check up on me." She laughed with glee at the idea.
Face gently pushed open the car door and took her into a hug. She placed a brown spotted hand on his cheek, very much like she was doting on a favorite grandchild, and he blushed a bit too.
"So, kid. Do we take your car for a spin or what?"
Face looked up at her garage for a minute, as if he could see his precious white Corvette through the door, then turned back to the Colonel. He flicked his gaze toward the upstairs windows with a raised eyebrow.
"Get your car, kiddo. We've still got plans for the rest of the evening."
Face grinned at him, and then fished in his jacket pocket for the keys, before turning to lay a gentle kiss on the cheek of his car's savior.
Iris moved inside, and a minute later, the automatic garage door opener whirred to life and the inside light came on. Face's car was tucked in amongst boxes and alongside the washer and dryer.
He had to squirm and scoot to get to the door, and there wasn't much room to open it, so he didn't bother, just going in over the frame and sliding behind the wheel. Seconds later, the engine roared to life and he slid it into reverse, backing down the driveway.
Iris and Daisy were both on the sidewalk
"Quite alright, dear. You take good care of our boy." Daisy passed him a large sack. "It's some cookies I made yesterday."
"We will," they chorused, and Face backed the car right up next to the Colonel, who opened the door and slid into the leather seat.
"Bye," he called, and Face waved a hand out through the T-top.
Face loved to drive, but he rarely got to as a team member. The others told Face he drove like some little old lady and didn't have a flair for driving like a madman. He was relegated to the back seat, because he drove a car like…. BA had hurled the insult one hot afternoon…. like a commuter. And tonight he drove, in his usual calm, unobtrusive way, down the 101 freeway, the wind in his face and the moonlight dancing off his hair.
"Pick up the pace a little, will ya', kid. I got plans for the rest of the evening."
"I'm doing the speed limit," Face mock-growled back.
"It's three in the morning, so go a little over the speed limit. Who'll know?"
"I'm guessing the only other person on the road, who would probably be a cop," Face shot back with a grin, as he nudged the accelerator down. "Whatcha' in a hurry for? Got some place to be?"
Face smiled and turned most of his attention back to the road as he pressed the gas a little harder. Maybe he liked tax season after all, if this was the payoff.
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