Buffy versus The Blood Suckers

by Maverick

Elevator doors open. Buffy, Giles, and Willow emerge. All look somber. Giles carries an old-style brown leather briefcase, the kind that spreads at the top.

Giles: [following the two girls]: I'm sure we can clear this all up in a jiffy.

Buffy: Now it's a "jiffy"?

Willow: [unconvinced but goes along] Yes, a spiffy jiffy, Buffy, juffy. It'd better be. Otherwise, I'll have to turn them all into toads . . . Oh, God, I wish Oz were here.

Both Giles and Buffy hesitate and look over at her. She gives a weak smile.

Giles dashes ahead to push open the glass door on a glass entryway to a waiting room; several people are seated inside (in three rows) facing a girl at a desk. Behind the girl the room widens to reveal many people transacting business at many desks. The sound of the busy office intrudes in on their conversation. As Giles holds the glass door open, the word visible sideways on the glass door is "Internal."

Giles: [holding the door open] Ladies.

The girls pass through.

Buffy: I just hope the British term jiffy indicates a shorter period of time than a fortnight.

Giles: Yes, well [he frowns but then brightens when he sees the receptionist; he turns on the charm] Buffy Summers [displaying her with his hands, kind of like a model on "The Price is Right"] here to see Agent Brady. [then as though concerned and suitably embarrassed] I'm certain we can clear up this misunderstanding in a . . . flash.

Receptionist: [indicating, by a sideways jerk of her head, the others seated there] Yeah, yeah, Heathcliff, that's what they all say. [Then she smiles broadly for reassurance and winks at him.]

Giles: Heathcliff? No, no, it's Rupert.

Receptionist: Rupert? Why of course! Rupert! I should have guessed. I just love your accent by the way, Rupert. Has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like the guy in that coffee commercial?

Giles [confused]: Sorry?

Receptionist: Never mind. Please have a seat. I'll tell him you're here.

Giles and Buffy and Willow sit in a row in three chairs.

Buffy: I'm just glad Mom's not here to see this. [as soon as the words leave her mouth, she realizes she's said the wrong thing, and just as suddenly her face grimaces and tears spring to her eyes.]

Willow: [in an effort to cover Buffy's blunder and subsequent distress] Giles, have you been parading around in your sombrero again in public? That girl evidently thinks you look like Juan Valdez.

Buffy: [smiling, recovering] Yeah, and I'd like to freeze dry him.

Giles: Now, no need to get nasty, or nervous. We'll be all right.

Buffy: Easy for you to say. [She pouts but is not serious.]

Receptionist: Rupert! Miss Summers can go back now. Mr. Brady [a man appears at her side] . . . Ah, here he is now.

Mr. Brady looks a tad like George Lazenby, a masculine male model. He is holding a rather fat file at his left side. The girls see him and immediately begin primping. Giles approaches.

Giles: Rupert Giles [holding out his hand].

Brady: Michael Brady. Mike. And you're the attorney?

Giles: Heavens, no. A family friend is all. [they shake]

Buffy: Buffy Summers [shakes hands] and this is my friend Willow Rosenberg.

Finishing shaking hands, Brady: I think since we're four we can use a conference room. This way.

He leads them through the office to a door and then into a bare conference room with a table in the center. They sit, the two men opposite each other, with Buffy next to Giles, and Willow on the same side of the table as Brady. Willow pushes her seat back and shows Brady a little leg.

Arching his eyebrow as he spies Willow's posture, Brady: Well, let's get right to it. We had received the tax return for the Estate of Joyce Summers, which we processed. It was prepared by Goldenberg, Rosenbaum, and O'Malley, CPA's--very straightforward--but then we received this 1099-Misc which indicates additional income not reported.

Giles: I can readily explain that, Mr. Brady. The unfortunate 1099 form was issued by an employee of the Watcher's Council, London, England, in error. An overly zealous employee, it turns out. I work for the Watcher's Council and here is a copy of my tax return. [He hands it over and Brady holds it.] There's a letter from the Watcher's Council explaining that 1099 form was meant to be for informational purposes only and should have no tax consequences. [He reaches down into his case which is open on the floor, snaps out the letter, and hands it to Brady.]

Brady begins looking it over but when Giles continues talking, he puts it down and listens.

Continuing, Giles: You see, the amount in question, $21,987.14, represents not income but merely the reimbursement of expenses. I've obtained from the Council a list of items which make up the $21,987.14 [Giles pulls out a roll of paper which he fumbles with and which then unrolls from his hands down to the floor.]

Brady: May I see that?

Giles: Certainly. Actually, this is YOUR copy. And I am prepared, here [patting his briefcase] to furnish you the documents which substantiate these expenses.

Brady looks at the letter, flips through Giles tax return, and looks down the list which also unfurls on him, down to the floor.

Perusing the list, Brady: $2,687.89 Busy Bee Lumber.

Giles goes fishing through his briefcase, thumbs through an alphabetical listing, and whips out a piece of paper which he hands to Brady.

Reading, Brady: Pine lumber 1 by 1's. Lots of board feet? That's softwood, right?

Giles: Indeed. Specially ordered. The finest [he looks proudly towards Buffy and Willow].

Reading, Brady: Lloyd Corrigan Woodshop. Another $1,750 of wood?

Giles: No [thumbing through his case and extracting a bill]. Woodworking. Lathe labor.

Brady hesitates further perusing the list.

In a whisper to Giles, Buffy: What's the lumber for?

Giles does a thrusting motion which looks a trifle obscene then changes to an overhead plunging motion which also confuses her.

In a whisper, Giles: Think Mr. Pointy.

Buffy, with a wry smile on her face, whispering: Why, Mr. Giles, and all this time I pictured you whittling away at nights while humming "Amazing Grace."

Brady looks over at Willow who is smiling and showing just a bit more leg. He returns to the list.

Brady: Weiskopf's Sporting Goods? $549.95?

Giles produces another invoice.

Brady: Bolts? Like yarn? Knitting?

Giles: No, like a crossbow. Um . . . hunting. Target practice.

Brady: Someone's in training?

Buffy: Guilty. Olympics.

Brady: Is the crossbow an Olympic sport?

Buffy: Only exhibition for now, but we're hoping.

Back to his list, Brady: Now here's a contribution. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. $2,750?

Giles thrusts forward a piece of paper, then hesitates as though wanting to take it back, but then he lets Brady take it while clenching his jaw.

Brady: Yes. $2,750.00. Oh, wait. Most of this is a contribution, but here's a purchase. Holy water? Communion hosts? I can't imagine . . .

Shaking his head, Giles: No, no, it's all a contribution. We just agreed to contribute--match--certain amounts to the church based on their actual expenses--for visiting the sick and ministering the faith to shut-ins.

Brady glanced at Willow who has hiked her skirt up another full inch following that remark.

Uncomfortable, Brady: Is it getting warm in here?

The other three feign innocence as they indicate their no's.

Brady: Bob's Sharpening Shoppe? $322.50?

Giles produces the bill.

Brady [frowning]: What in the hell, excuse me, is a Hungamunga?

Buffy: Oh, it's just an ancient weapon . . . that keeps getting dull.

A frown on his face, looking around the room, Brady: Okay, can somebody tell me what's really going on here? [They look back at him innocently; he picks up Giles tax return.] You work at the high school?

Giles: Yes. Librarian.

Brady: And you train Miss Summers?

Giles: Yes.

Brady: So, why would this Watcher's Council send this 1099 in the name of Joyce Summers?

Willow: It was a mistake. They had to send it to her or it wouldn't have been a mistake.

Brady: OK. But, then, how did they get HER social security number, etc.

Willow: Giles? Perhaps you listed Joyce as your beneficiary on some group life insurance policy with the Watcher's Council?

Giles [deep in thought]: Well, no. I . . . [Buffy kicks him] Oh, yeah [smiling sheepishly] THAT'S right. I almost forgot.

Willow [her skirt at the edge of no man's land]: Well, that clinches it. Have you seen enough, Mr. Brady?

Brady looks down at her leg and blushes.

Willow: You know, if you don't believe Buffy is a trained athlete, why don't you arm-wrestle her?

Brady: That would be highly irregular.

Giles: But, convincing. No?

Buffy extends her hand. Brady eyes it.

Brady: So soft.

Buffy: Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion. Come on [she gets up, circles the table and sits in the seat Willow just vacated. She extends her arm and places her elbow on the table.]

Brady smiles, rolls forwards, and clasps her hand.

Brady: Ready?

Buffy: Any time.

Brady exerts himself and makes a face as he tries to force her arm downward but Buffy is impassive as she easily holds her own.

Buffy: Ready?

He nods and she forces his arm directly down and wins.

Brady [recovering]: Well? Very impressive.

Buffy: Now if I could only kick my steroid habit.

They all laugh.

Brady: Okay, people, thanks for your time. I think we can conclude this matter. I'll have a letter out this week rescinding the hold on your refund and clearing up these remaining matters.

Buffy [looking relieved]: Swell. Speaking for my mom we appreciate it.

Brady: Well, I can see there's no instances of unreported income so there's no problem. You two [pointing at Giles and Willow] can go. I'd just like to have a private word with Miss Summers.

Giles was already all packed up, having retrieved his personal tax return. He leaves on the table the roll of expenses. Willow and Giles trade inquisitive looks and do not move.

Brady [to them]: I think she can take care of herself. Don't you?

Buffy: Yeah, go ahead. I'll be right there? [she looks at Brady who nods] Right there.

Giles and Willow get up and exit the room, Giles limping, and head back toward the lobby.

Brady: Well, Miss Summers, I'll bet you think I'm going to hit on you.

Buffy: Are you?

Brady: No, no. I'm as happily married as I have the strength for. I have daughters your age and I'm way too lazy to juggle my future.

Buffy: Then what?

Brady: You must think of me, of us--the IRS--as a bunch of party poopers or worse. Perhaps Blood Suckers.

Buffy: Not really. However, you can be really scary guys. And I think I know scary. And I think I know blood suckers.

Brady: I suppose we can be a little grim. Since we've held hands and looked into each other's eyes, I'd like to tell you that I used to be ashamed of my job when I first started with the IRS. But then it didn't take long for me to encounter so many different scammers and so many people who just couldn't be bothered to follow our rather simple regulations. After a while I began to enjoy tripping them up, finding out where they were skirting the rules.

Buffy: We weren't cheating.

Brady: Oh, yeah, I know that, and you have nothing to worry about. But let me finish. Do you know how I often see through these scams and find the actual cheaters?

Buffy: No.

Brady: Well, it's very simple really. I try to figure out what the relationship is between the parties in question, and then I evaluate whether a service bringing about an exchange of value has occurred. And if there is this transference of value, and I can place a dollar amount on the transaction, then I can usually find where the people are lying about not receiving an income that's taxable. Follow that?

Buffy: I think so. But . . .

Brady: But where, you want to know, do you fit into this scenario? I'm getting to that. I'm not certain what you are doing for this Watcher's Council, but I don't buy Mr. Giles--who is a bad liar by the way--and his story, and I don't imagine you are trying to maintain your amateur status for some Olympic athletic event. I guess I just held you back here for a moment to advise you that if you are working for these people for nothing--for free--you ought to stop immediately. I mean, there's a lot worse things than paying taxes. Having to pay taxes indicates that you have had an income. And we need an income to survive, and people place a value on our services by being willing to pay blankety-blank dollars for them. And conversely when people have paid so very much for something, they won't want to waste it or they won't want to allow it to devalue. There's another consideration to decisions being made about you. You are an investment, you see.

Buffy: It's a calling. I have been chosen.

Brady: I sense that. Just don't let them use you up and then cast you aside without it all having an economic impact on them. Believe it or not, at our level, that's the only way to keep score, as to whether, objectively, we matter. So, in short you should exact a price for your participation in their endeavors, especially now that your mother has passed. I don't know about your leggy friend, but Mr. Giles is well compensated. So, I just want you to be aware of just who the real Blood Suckers are.

Fade out.

Buffy rounds the corner and advances towards where Willow and Giles are seated.

Willow: What did he have to say?

Buffy: Oh, nothing much. Just something about seizing the means of production.

Giles jaw drops.

The End

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