They're all Paramount's property, not mine.
Notes: Cheer-up fic for my friend InfiniteViking! Tax season is still strong in the 23rd century.
The computer lab was very quiet when Spock walked in. Deep into the ship's night, the graveyard shift tended to be essential personnel only, and those often most suited to working those hours consistently. There were a surprising number of non-humans on the midnight watches; Spock had found, much to his interest, that even after years in deep space in some cases, humans were still rather strict in adhering to the diurnal cycles of planet Earth. He had no such requirements himself -- in fact, he preferred to do a good amount of his focused research at night, when he would not be disturbed from his concentration.
The computer lab was not empty this evening, however. Spock stopped immediately inside of the door, taking measure of his captain.
Captain Kirk was sitting at one of the terminals, a large carafe of coffee next to him, as well as a mug in his hand. He looked disheveled; his hair was a mess, and there were dark circles under his eyes. The sight of his friend in this state disturbed Spock somewhat, but he leapt to no conclusions. After a moment, he stepped over. "Captain. Is something troubling you?"
Kirk looked up with tired eyes, and then smiled in a manner Spock had long since identified as mildly self-deprecating. "Nothing of universal importance, Spock. I'm just having a hard time trying to file my taxes."
Spock looked at the screen for a moment. While credits had replaced money as the primary currency, taxes were still a fundamental part of funding the Federation. In as such, those who earned above a certain amount were required to file an income tax return once a year. If he recalled correctly, the final date it had to be transmitted by was... in less than two hours. His, of course, had been done the same hour that filing had opened, several months before.
"According to this, I owe more than I actually make in an entire year!"
"Did you use the input forms?" Spock asked; while he preferred to work out the mathematics of his taxes on his own, the Interstellar Revenue Service provided calculators and forms to help those less inclined to take that route.
Kirk nodded, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "Somehow, it still comes up like this."
There was a long moment while Spock considered the wisdom of the next decision he had to make. But finally, he spoke again: "I would be willing to go over your input values."
Kirk nodded again, obviously trying to muster some level of enthusiasm, though he merely looked more tired and defeated. He got up, taking his coffee mug and leaving the pile of data disks containing his taxes. Spock sat down at the terminal, about to go through the disks and find where the error was, but after one long look at the screen, he found the answer.
He raised an eyebrow and moved the decimal point once space on the primary value of the captain's annual earnings statement, then hit 'execute'. "While I will check the rest of the variables, this now says that you will be due back one hundred and sixty four point five credits."
There was silence. It went on so long that Spock was forced to look away from checking the rest of the captain's taxes to see why.
Kirk was standing there, just staring at him. His eyes were oddly shiny. His hand trembled slightly as it clutched the coffee mug.
"Captain?" Spock asked, concerned.
That broke Kirk's stance. He carefully set the mug down on a table, then looked back at Spock, his stance strangely stiff and that liquid quality of his eyes growing more pronounced. He cleared his throat, but his voice still sounded rough. "Thank you, Spock. I... I believe it would be in my best interest, and in the interests of the Enterprise
, if I retired."
"I shall transmit your tax return as soon as I have finished verifying the data," Spock replied. After the door closed behind the captain, he was certain that he had heard a sound not unlike what a wounded animal would make in the corridor.
But when he went to check, he found no one there.