The only good thing that had ever happened to Tom in March was his birth, and that was debatable at best.
The March he turned seven, he woke to his cat curled around his legs, dead, and the March he turned seventeen, his girlfriend dumped him for not being able to get it up for sex after prom.
The March he turned twenty, he gave in to the whole “You’re gay, we know you’re gay, just admit it” thing and went on a blind date with Larry his roommate’s girlfriend’s lab partner to prove them wrong. Dinner was good, the conversation was light and funny, and then the sex was bone-meltingly fantastic. Tom thought that turning gay might be the best thing that ever happened to him in a March, except in the morning, Larry was gone. Tom’s new stereo and all his CDs were gone too.
So when, ink still wet on his master’s (he failed his thesis defense [in March] and needed another semester), the crap IT job calls him back and say they have room for him after all, and could he start in March, he seriously considers refusing the offer. After all, nothing good had ever come out of March before, and there was no reason to expect that to change when the potential good was a thankless job re-doing a byzantine database filing structure and cleaning spyware off the computers of the porn-happy middle management.
No one else calls him back.
Tom takes the job.
“You’ll be working here,” says Katy from reception, cracking her gum and gesturing to a double-wide cubicle on a corner. “Try not to die of boredom before we get to take you out for a drink.” She leans against the partition. “Any questions, besides ‘what time?’ Because the answer to that one is ‘five o’clock.’” She grins at him. The other guy in the cubicle suddenly becomes very occupied with his jumbo-sized bag of Fritos. The nameplate on the cubicle wall proclaims him to be “JERRY.”
Tom hasn’t told anyone here he’s gay, and he really doesn’t want to. People are mostly not dicks about the whole gay thing anymore, but you never can tell who’ll be one. Anyway, he doesn’t want to deal with dicks of any kind at work. That way lies madness and supply-room sex and also eventually unemployment, because Tom has yet to have a relationship that survives a March.
“No questions. Five o’clock sounds great,” he says, crouching down under the desk to stow his computer bag.
“Getting them early, eh Katy?” says a male voice, wry and sexy, and Tom starts up so fast he whacks his head on the desk and black out for a second.
“Hey buddy, you okay?”
The fluorescent light breaks around golden hair, creating a halo. His body is perfect, his teeth white and straight; he’s a Greek god in an oxford shirt. He doesn’t get a choir of angels, just the whining of the copier, but close enough. Tom isn’t sure whether it’s brain damage or backlighting, but this is the most beautiful man he’s ever seen.
“I’m fine, I mean, Tom!” He sticks out his hand awkwardly. “Pleased to meet you!”
The Greek god grabs his hand and pulls him up. Tom is intensely aware of how his hand feels (firm, but not callused, like he works out but also maybe gets manicures) and how close together the boost brings them (close enough to smell his shampoo, but not close enough to feel him breathe). “I’m Bob. I work just over there –” he points to a real office just down the hall, the kind with a door – “in copy, which means I know a lot about English and nothing about computers. Have pity on me when I come begging for help, okay?”
The image of Bob begging on his knees is not one Tom needs right now. “Yes! Anytime!”
Bob smiles, and his brain melts. “Okay then. See you around!” Bob leaves, waving as he walks into his office and shuts the door. Katy goes too, mouthing “five o’clock” over her shoulder. The other occupant of his cubicle loses interest in his Fritos.
“Was Katy flirting with you? Are you, I mean do you, are you going to?”
“No,” Tom says as he sits down, staring at the door to the office down the hall. “Really, no.”
“Oh. Good. Thanks, man.” Jerry turns back to his computer, whistling.
He was right. Nothing good happens in March.
“So again, IT, remember that we are a software company, and it is important that all code, not just that which we present to the clients, be functional and elegant – Jerry? Do you hear me, Jerry? This directly concerns you.”
Staff meetings, Tom thinks as Jerry stops staring at Katy’s rack and pretends to pay attention, had been specifically created by Satan himself to drive mortals into wickedness. Give a man hours of time and nothing to do but listen to Rob drone on about the most inane minutiae imaginable and it was inevitable that he would use it to do one of two things: plan his defense against the inevitable zombie apocalypse, or think about sex.
Tom isn’t sure which minor devil arranged for Copy to sit directly across from IT during staff meetings, but he sure isn’t thinking about zombies when he has such a nice view of Bob, and Bob’s tendency to suck on the end of his pens.
“So,” Bob says, catching Tom’s arm as everyone else files out of the meeting, “see anything you like?”
“Come on,” Bob said, stepping in close, trapping Tom against the counter with the coffee and the powdered creamer. “I’ve seen you, staring at me. Watching.”
Tom swallows, hard. “No, I just, I mean, you’re there, and all.”
He feels warm breath on his neck as Bob leans in to whisper in his ear, “See. Anything. You. Like?” before he licks Tom’s earlobe into his mouth and sucks, hard.
“Oh Jesus yes,” Tom says, before he grabs Bob’s head and pulls him to his mouth for a wet, messy kiss.
And then Bob’s hitching him up to sit on the counter and kneeling down, angel eyes gazing up with lust as he slowly, carefully, undoes the zip on Tom’s Dockers and pulls out his cock.
“Let’s see how you taste,” Bob says, before he swipes his tongue around the ridge of Tom’s cock just the way Larry did it the first time ever, and it feels even better, my god that’s fabulous, and –
“Mmmm,” Bob is moaning like a porn star around Tom’s dick, but then he pulls off with a wet pop. Tom’s hips snap forward automatically and he whines, but Bob holds him back, big hands molded around his hipbones. “Sweet, just like I thought, but you know what?” He reaches around Tom and grabs something. “I think you could taste even sweeter.”
And then he’s flicking the cap off the honey bottle he grabbed from behind Tom and using it to paint a stripe of sweetness all the way up Tom’s dick as he grins up wickedly. Tom gasps at the cold, then again as Bob slides his mouth back down, down, down, until his nose touches Tom’s belly, then moans again, vibrating with need and desire, throat muscles clenching around Tom, and the he’s coming, shooting down Bob’s throat, half-blind and all-deaf with his orgasm.
“See? Sweet,” Bob says as he slides back up, then kisses Tom tenderly, his mouth tasting of honey and come, and then Tom’s fumbling at Bob’s belt buckle, pulling down his own pants, and Bob’s got one honey-lubed finger sliding inside, rubbing against that oh-god awesome place, and –
“Tom? Do you hear me, Tom?” Tom jolts back to the conference room with a start. Katy is rolling her eyes as Rob continues. “Do you want to give us the update on printer routing, or should I get Jerry to drop an anvil on your head?” Rob chuckles at his own joke. No one else does. They have all heard too many Tom-and-Jerry jokes in the last three months.
“Uh, yeah,” Tom says, sitting up and moving his binder discreetly to his lap. “All departments now have one designated printer, centrally located according to their office locations, to help prevent misdirects and filing accidents.”
“This is a great system, Rob,” Bob (who is, as near as Tom can tell, totally and completely straight) says, interrupting with a grin at Tom. “Copy got ours Thursday, and I’ve saved at least a man hour hunting down docs since then.” The rest of Copy shoots him a dirty look. Tom isn’t surprised. While they now have to walk down two halls and past Rob’s office to get to their printer, Bob only has to walk thirteen steps, straight past Tom’s cubicle.
Thank god for prioritization that puts printer routing ahead of redoing the firewall.
(They don’t have honey on the coffee counter. Tom checks.)
“You know, Ash was really bad at the whole zombie apocalypse thing.”
Tom looks up from the security access codes. “What?”
“Oh, shit, did I get it wrong?” Bob says, gesturing at Tom’s Halloween costume. “You’re Ash from Evil Dead, right? ‘This is my boomstick?””
Tom resists the urge to point out that that’s Army of Darkness and he’s Ash from Evil Dead I, because the chainsaw gets in the way of typing. Bob is talking to him. On purpose. “Yeah, but Ash was awesome at killing zombies!”
“No, he was incredibly lucky. I mean, there are so many things he messed up in those movies. About the only thing he did right was not holing up inside a mall like those idiots from Dawn of the Dead.”
“Hey, a mall is a totally defensible position. You have food, weapons, clothing, water –”
“No viable escape route,” Bob says, grinning. “Face it; Romero’s original ending is right. Suicide is the only way out. You have to look at the bigger picture.”
“It could totally work,” Tom insists, slightly dazed. Bob knows about zombie movies. He feels like he’s traveled to an alternate universe where nerds have, as promised, inherited the Earth.
“Whatever,” Brad says, then cocks his head as he looks at Tom. “You wear glasses normally, right?”
“Yeah, my contacts itch like crazy.
Bob looks speculative. “You look weird without them. Well, I gotta get my printouts. See you.”
Tom has never been happier to be a nerd.
There’s something indescribably sad about an office Christmas party that’s actually in the office, Tom thinks as he sips something that’s about 2% eggnog and 98% rum. Katy’s put up some Christmas lights and Rob is leering below a sprig of mistletoe he hung earlier, but there’s no hiding the fact that this is where Tom unwillingly spends most of his life, and now he’s not even getting paid to be here.
But he has a 6 AM flight to visit his parents tomorrow and, hey, rum. He wanders over to the drinks, passing by Bob, who is laughing at something Sally from Accounts just said. Tom really kind of hates Bob now, because not only is he cool, he’s also nerdy. He ladles himself some more eggnog. A straight, cool guy, who can quote Evil Dead and talk to women who think posters with kittens on them are the height of décor.
“God, I hate these things.”
Tom jumps, slopping eggnog all over the plastic tablecloth.
“Oh, jeez, sorry dude,” Bob says. “You good?”
“Yeah, sorry,” Tom says, struggling for dignity. “Were you talking to me?”
“Well, yeah, the other option is taking bets on when Jerry will finally make a move on Katy.” Bob grins. His face is slightly red, and he’s leaning up against the table.
“10 PM, because that way she has less time to change her mind if she says yes and he can leave without seeming lame if she says no,” Tom replies automatically. “What about Sally?”
“What about her?” Bob shrugs. “The woman puts kittens on everything.”
“Want to grab a bottle of something and go get drunk?”
Tom blinks. “Okay.”
An hour later, it’s ten pm, the bottle of bad vodka is empty, and they’re hiding behind a cubicle, watching Jerry get shot down and trying not to laugh. Bob has one arm around Tom and his head keeps knocking into Tom’s glasses, but Tom’s more worried about hiding the fact that he has been massively hard for at least fifteen minutes. Bob, as it turns out, is a touchy drunk.
“See, this is why you need an exit strategic, strategy,” Bob says seriously. “Zombies, women, whatever, you need a way out.”
“Oh, you are just full of shit,” Tom says, “because what you really need is a defensible position. Jerry is a loser, like me. Totally indefensible position.”
“You’re not a loser,” Bob says. “You’re awesome. You like Evil Dead.”
Tom blushes. “No’m not.”
Bob looks at him, inscrutable. “C’mere.”
Tom follows as Bob walks out of view of the party to the supply closet. Bob waits until Tom’s almost to the closet, then grabs him by the front of his polo.
Tom winds up with a metal bracket digging into his spine after Bob drags him in.
“I want to blow you, okay?”
Tom cannot believe that this is even a question. “Um, yeah!”
Bob grins, drops to his knees. He spends what seems like forever trying to get the fly of Tom’s pants open before Tom undoes it himself, shoving his pants and boxers down.
Bob sucks cock like a straight boy, all licks around the head and lots of hand action. The one time he tries to take more in, he kind of gags a little, then has to pull back and just suck for a while. It is definitely not the best blowjob he’s ever had.
It’s perfect anyway. Tom runs his hands all through Bob’s hair, tries to memorize every detail of the way the single light bulb in the closet creates dark shadows in the hollows of his cheeks, the way his eyelashes flutter down as he starts to get more into it, tonguing the underside, bringing one hand up to cup his balls hesitantly, then, oh, happy accident, running his tongue around the ridge in exactly the right way so that Tom has to say, “Uh, warning, coming now.”
Bob pulls off, stealing a sheet of paper to wipe off his hand. Tom hauls him up, kisses him so hard their teeth clack, then jacks Bob off. His mouth forms a perfect “o” when he comes, and they slump down to the floor in a heap of limbs, Tom’s nose in Bob’s hair, and sleep.
Tom wakes up at four in the morning, leaves a note and dashes home to grab his suitcase and heads to the airport without showering. The smell of Bob’s shampoo stays with him all the way through the flight.
The holidays pass in a blur of happiness and sexual frustration. Tom spends most of the time with his face twisted into a rictus of glee. He doesn’t care. He doesn’t even care when he realizes his old room’s a study, because when his mother asks if there’s a man, he gets to grin even wider and say, “You know, there just might be.” She smiles, kisses his cheek, and goes back to making baklava. Tom goes upstairs to not-his-room-anymore and jerks off twice on the air mattress, remembering Bob’s lips and the way his hair felt when it ran through his fingers.
January second he’s in the office at 8:00 AM, whistling as he deletes the many dumb e-mails Rob sent over break. The advantage of a cubicle is that you can hear when everyone in the office. Tom has never thought of this as an advantage before, but he has a new perspective. When he hears footsteps getting louder, all he has to do is stretch and he can see over the top of the partition who’s come in.
Cubicles are wonderful.
His enthusiasm begins to flag around 10:30, when Jerry asks if he’s applying for a job at Jack-in the-Box. Fortunately, Bob comes in then, walking quickly to his office. That’s okay. Tom can get the need to be discreet.
He waits fifteen minutes before he grabs a stack of random papers and walks over to Bob’s office.
“Hey Bob, I needed to talk to you about your TPS report,” he says loudly as he shuts the door behind him, then ducks behind the desk and tries to kiss him.
Operative word being, “tries.”
Bob puts his hands out, stops Tom.
Tom laughs. “Relax, we work in different departments, it’s not fraternization, I checked.” He goes back in for another kiss. Bob shoves him again, harder.
“Come on,” Tom says, not trying to kiss Bob anymore, but still standing close, intimate. “If you’re mad at me for leaving, I’m sorry, I had a flight at 6 am.” He steps in again. “Let me buy you dinner, make it up to you?”
Bob steps back, shaking his head. “What the fuck?”
Tom feels like he’s about to be sick. “The Christmas party? It was late, we were talking, there was some… supply closet?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Bob says in a flat voice. “I was wasted. It never happened.”
Now it’s Tom’s turn to step back. “Oh. Well.” He’s torn between heartbreak and fear of gaybashing. Fear wins. “See you around, I guess.” He opens the door, half-slipping on his papers. “Here, let me.”
“No, that’s okay,” Bob says, walking out from behind his desk and bending to collect the papers. “Tom?”
His stomach jumps up into his throat. Bob is about to say he was wrong, it can work, dinner sounds great.
“There’s a bigger picture.”
Tom closes the door behind him.
Apparently, bad things can happen in January too.
“Heya, Tom. It’s Bob.”
And oh, this is the March to end all Marches. Locked in the conference room with Katy and Rob, while the rest of the office moans outside the door like the interns waiting for everyone to clear out so they can grab the leftovers.
They’re the leftovers.
This can’t get worse.
“Come on, Tom. We’re not unreasonable. I mean, no one’s gonna eat your eyes,” Bob says, his voice calm and reasonable. “In fact,” and now it’s low, husky, “if you open the door, I’ll even eat your cock. Again.”
Apparently, it can get worse.
Katy gawps at Tom, her mascara smudged. Rob doesn’t notice; he’s busy screaming. He hasn’t noticed anything for a while now, including the fact that he no longer has a voice.
It’s stupid to blush during a zombie apocalypse. Tom does it anyway.
“I know you’ve thought about it, Tom. I’ve seen you, all faggy and shit. I’ll eat your cock, suck it down and swallow, then your balls and your ass. I’ll bite all the way up to your neck; leave a mark that’ll be there until the day you die. We didn’t try any of that, Tom. Wanna give it a go?”
They’re scratching at the door, Bob and Jerry and Sally from Accounts. The doors in this place are flimsy, veneer over a frame of one-by-twos, and Bob sounds hungry. It won’t be long.
This is definitely the worst March ever, Tom thinks. Happy fucking birthday to me.