Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
I. Four calling salesmen
Angela, Oscar, Pam, and Phyllis, the Party Planning Commitee, sat around the conference table, staring at Michael. "OK, everyone! I have a great idea for this year's Christmas party! Ready?" When no one responded, Michael continued blithely on, as usual. "We should do a 'Twelve Days of Christmas' theme!" Oscar, Pam, and Phyllis groaned in unison, but Angela remained strangely quiet, not protesting at all about the complexity of the task or the lack of proper time or funding. Pam watched, concerned, as Angela wrote a few words on her notepad and silently left the room.
Pam frowned at the camera. "I think something's wrong with Angela. She's acting miserable in a totally different way than normal."
As Pam crossed from the conference room back to the reception area, she passed Jim, who was clearly just coming in from the cold. "Hey, you. How was your sales call?" she asked, lightly touching his arm. As much as they tried to be discreet, these small moments of contact were the best parts of Pam's work day, and she couldn't stop herself.
Jim smiled. "Well, they didn't buy anything, but I think it went well anyway. Forging relationships for the future or something." He shrugged out of his coat, flinging it over the back of his chair as he followed Pam to her desk. "What were you up to in there?" He tilted his head toward the conference room.
"Christmas party. Can you think of an appetizer that has something to do with eleven Lords a-leaping?"
Jim grimaced. "Huh. I'll have to get back to you.”
"You do that." Pam's phone rang, so he headed back to his desk, grinning as Pam intoned, "Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam."
Jim smiled. "I wasn't exactly on a sales call. I was buying Pam's Christmas present." He paused. "Oh, no. I'm not showing you before I show her. You'll have to be surprised."
Back in Accounting, Kevin was regarding Angela with surprise. Not once had she commented on his garishly bright Christmas tie, which he had worn just to annoy her. Instead, Angela sat at her desk, staring blankly at her open ledger. She was so still for so long that finally he felt compelled to say something. "Hey, Angela. Are you all right?" he asked.
"No," she answered shortly. "But thank you for asking." Without meeting his gaze, she got up walked away. She found her escape route blocked, however, by a miniature traffic jam just in front of the reception desk.
Phyllis was putting her coat on, on her way out to meet a client, while asking Pam if she thought devilled eggs would be good enough for "geese a-laying." At that same moment, both Andy and Dwight were returning from their own sales calls.
"No, I did not sing to them. My superior sales abilities make such displays unnecessary," Dwight was saying scornfully to Andy as Angela rounded the corner. As soon as Dwight saw her, however, his posture and his expression changed from scornful to submissive. Angela pretended not to notice, just as she pretended not to notice Pam watching the scene with avid interest.
"Hello, Dwight. Hello, Andy." Angela said formally. "Andy, I trust you had a successful sales call?" She continued on her way to the break room. Andy trailed behind her, boasting of how his excellent rendition of "Why do fools fall in love?" had secured a sale. Dwight stared after them, suddenly looking very lost just steps away from his own desk. He clearly hadn't noticed the pained expression on Angela's face- but Pam had.
Pam had no time to ponder the meaning of Angela's misery, however, because at that moment the door swung open yet again. "Hey, Darryl," Pam said mildly. Although they still got along well, Pam could never forget that Darryl was one of Roy's best friends. She was therefore surprised when, instead of nodding and continuing back to Kelly's desk, Darryl stopped and leaned against the reception counter.
"Hey, Pam. I was hoping you had a moment to help me out," he said.
Pam was confused. "OK?"
Darryl grinned, showing his dimples to their best advantage. "I need your advice on a Christmas present for Kelly."
"Oh. Yeah, OK." Pam was surprised that Darryl, usually so smooth, needed help.
"Excellent. See, I know my girl likes the finer things, so I think some jewelry will be good. But, also, I don't want to cross any imaginary line she has drawn in her head about, you know, what something 'means.'" Darryl straightened up and pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. “I saw these and thought they might be just right."
He pushed a carefully clipped portion of a newspaper ad across the desk. The pair of earrings each featured a small ruby, suspended in a circle of gold. They were stylish, looked expensive, and yet somehow managed to not look overly romantic.
"They're perfect," Pam said truthfully. "I think she'll love them."
"Ah, see, now, I'm trying to avoid the "L" word, Pam," Darryl said with a wink. "But I thank you. Hey, Merry Christmas." Darryl turned, threw a nod in Jim's direction, and proceeded back out through the doors.
Pam shook her head wonderingly. How much difference a year could make. Kelly was now with Darryl, Angela was with Andy, and Jim...Jim was with her. She couldn't stop herself from smiling.
The smile was ill-timed, however; right at that moment, a shrill voice screeched in her ear. "What are you smiling at, and what were you doing talking to my boyfriend?" Kelly demanded.