4.30pm. Hit return. Done. Finished. Until Jan 2013. Dave thought about going home. But he didn't want to. Not yet. Cold out. Maybe a cuppa for the road. Dave made his way to the kitchen. "How about a Coffee Smithy?". It looked as if Jo Smith was just about to press send on her report as well. "Why not" replied Jo. Dave sauntered back in with two coffees and a Kit-Kat on a plate which he placed on Jo's desk whilst humming 'Silent Night' to himself. "Thats the last one Smithy, no one can ever say I'm not a considerate." Jo knew very well that this wasn't just a kind offering. It was one of the silly gestures that both of them were in the habit of doing toward each other. Especially over the last few months. "Did you end up sorting some cheap train tickets to get down to Paul’s parents then?" asked Dave. "I sorted those ages ago, I can't remember mentioning that to you." "Er, you didn't. I overheard you telling Sue about it when we were all on that course." stuttered Dave. "Ah, right. That was ages ago. Yes I did. God, get the memory on you. We travel down to Bristol tomorrow, If Paul isn't too hung over and isn’t pouting. Spend Christmas Eve there and then we just have to get up for lunch.". "What about you and Laura?" Jo hated to ask Dave about Laura because whenever she did she saw the happy-go-luckiness of Dave fold in on itself and wither away before her eyes, but she had to ask out of the polite contriteness of conversing with her favorite colleague. "Yeah. The plan is to go over to her Mum's again." "Jo felt a surge of directness and replied "Is that the fourth Christmas in a row now". "Yep" Dave confirmed with a slight slump in his shoulders. Jo hated herself for pointing out what really hadn't needed to be pointed out but she couldn't help it. It seemed Dave always had to dance to the tune of Laura’s family. Women know other women. And Jo had surmised, Even if it was through second-hand accounts from Dave and much in-between the lines, that it seemed that Dave’s missus totally took advantage of Dave’s good nature.
They both sat finishing their coffee. Jo wished this uninterrupted quiet time that they were sharing could last for a couple of hours more but the afternoon had given up the ghost and the sky was heralding in another long December night. “You walking out for the bus then?” “Might as well Dave, are you finishing up now?”. “Yeah, I’ll just get my jacket and walk out with you.” They walked passed the abandoned reception area and emerged into an empty car park and crossed to the other side of the street to wait for Jo’s bus. “Aren’t we the pair. It doesn’t seem like either of us are in a rush to start Christmas with our better halves.” Jo said and Dave laughed. “They don’t know how lucky they are to have us do they.” “If they did our lives would be a lot less hassle.”.”That they would Smithy. That they would.” There followed some stamping of feet to ward off the cold and some neck craning to see if they could spot a bus. “We should go for a drink in the new year Jo. What do you think? Put the world to rights and all that.” Jo stared at Dave and could see an earnestness in his expression that wouldn’t have been out of place on a kid asking his Mum if he could play out for just one more hour. “Deal.” Jo beamed. The bus slushed to a halt and the opening door hissed a warm blast on to both of them. “Well, see you in 2012 then” Dave said unblinkingly. Jo went to step up on to the bus, turned and said “I hope so Dave. I really hope so. Merry Christmas”. And with that the bus slouched away from the pavement and left a man stood on an empty street wishing away the last days of December 2012 so that he could get back to work and concentrate on what needed concentrating on.