Title: Experiment
Fandom: Lie to Me
Pairing: Eli Loker/Cal Lightman
Warnings: Slash, sort of dub-con, sex, angst
Summary: He realises that Eli is in love with him, that the manipulation he’s been using against him for years was because of this, because Eli is stupidly addicted to him, in love with him despite everything. Cal looks, and sees, and knows everything.
Author’s Note: For Garrideb, who won it in an auction.

Experiment

One of the worst things about being in love with a man who can read people like Cal can is that he knows. He knew when Eli first walked in, first met the odd Englishman with his sarcastic comments, that Eli developed an almost immediate crush on him. He knew when that crush turned sour, was twisted up with pain and betrayal and hurt, a bone deep feeling that burned bitterly in his throat. He knew and he used that knowledge to twist Eli up even more, to make him feel worse and better, with every little glance and decent gesture. It was like he thought of Eli as an overgrown puppy – kick him and ignore him and forget him for weeks at a time, because he knew the puppy would still come cowering over and give him love with the slightest kind word or treat.

He knew exactly how to get what he wanted from Eli – a sarcastic rebuff to spur him into action, a wry conspiratorial twist of the lips to get him on side. A look, a touch, pressure applied in just the right way to make him twist on that hook a little more. To make him fall a little deeper in love. He didn’t notice at first, not because of anything Eli did, he thinks, but simply because he’s arrogant enough to think Eli would be need his approval but blind enough to miss that Eli could fall in love with him.

He wondered sometimes, when he crawled into work the morning after from another man’s bed (English, older, sarcastic) if Cal knew where he’d been. Cal always said that it’s difficult to read someone you’re close to (in love with), and Eli knows it – he could never tell if the contempt twisting Cal’s lips the next morning was real, or if he was making it up, projecting his own feelings on Cal’s canvas. It’s not the only time he’s seen that twist of contempt, but it is the only time he looked for it, studying Cal’s features for a flicker of revulsion. He wonders, but he never works up the courage to push, to find out.

But, eventually, Cal looks, and knows. He studies Eli in a vulnerable moment, sees the tics, the tightening of expression, the vulnerability, and knows exactly how Eli feels about him in that moment. He realises that Eli is in love with him, that the manipulation he’s been using against him for years was because of this, because Eli is stupidly addicted to him, in love with him despite everything. Cal looks, and sees, and knows everything.

It takes him a while, a few days to stop studying Eli at odd moments like he’s a new species of being, like he’s something interesting for once. But eventually he does stop studying Eli like he’s trying to work him out, and starts looking at him in a whole new way. It’s something Eli had once seen, back when he’d started working here, and Cal had still been working out how Eli could be useful, how he could be used. Now he’s looking at him like that all over again, but with a little extra, a little proprietary, a little lascivious. It sends a shiver up Eli’s spine, but even he can’t tell if it’s fear or lust.

Cal doesn’t bother seducing Eli, just follows him home and pushes him silently to his knees. It says everything, though, tells Eli exactly what he already knew – that Cal would never love him, that Eli was a distraction, a little easy pleasure. Something uncomplicated for him, unlike the women in his life – the ex-wife, Gillian, even Torres. When he goes back to one of his women, he’ll do it with a clear conscience, and he won’t care that he’s leaving Eli broken hearted.

Eli wishes he was strong enough to push him away, wishes he could refuse this man even once.

He’s not that strong, he’s weak and pathetic enough to savour any attention from Cal. So he obediently opens Cal’s trousers, sucks his cock into his mouth willingly and brings Cal off with efficient speed. He pretends not to care that Cal leaves as abruptly as he came, that he doesn’t care to return the favour for Eli. He just goes to bed, thrusts up into his own hand and comes with Cal’s name on his lips and the taste of him in his mouth.

The ironic thing is, Eli still calls him Lightman, Eli still works for free, still does his best for him. And whether Eli comes into work still feeling the weight of Cal’s cock in his throat or not, his mood is still ruled by Cal’s looks. Nothing changes, nothing at all even while everything has changed. Eli wasn’t stupid enough to think Cal would fall in love with him, but he’d hoped, at least, that Cal respected him. Could maybe come to like him, care about him. But this, using him like this, it was distain and contempt and carelessness all over again. Cal Lightman, shutting out the people who cared about him and using them for his own gain.

Cal studies Eli over the next few weeks, watches how he reacts to being used and discarded. He seems fascinated by Eli, treats him like an experiment – pushes him to see how far he’ll go before snapping, then metes out the smallest amounts of attention and watches him crawl back. Eventually he gets bored of it, of course, and for weeks things return to something approaching normal. But things are never normal for long around Cal.

“I want to fuck you.” Cal announces, a comment that’s almost offhanded, said in the same manner he might say ‘I want lunch’. Eli blinks in surprise, feeling winded, like someone had thrown a punch from the left but hit him in the ribs from the right. He’d been braced for the left, he’s been watching that strike coming for a long time. He’s had a bad day, another day with the dregs of humanity, fighting to get back into Lightman’s good graces. Another day without pay, without acknowledgement that he’s actually doing something worthwhile. At this point he can’t even leave, will never get another job in the same industry and, despite it all, he loves this job. Cal’s following him home again isn’t really unexpected, he never felt like everything had been finished, or even postponed, it was all just a part of Cal’s game.

But this, this was unexpected.

“No.” He replies finally, watches the lines around Cal’s eyes, sees the way his mouth tightens. He’s not surprised, and he’s not convinced.

“You don’t mean that.” It’s the truth, as Cal sees it. It probably is true, at this point Eli doesn’t know what he’s protecting, why he’s protesting. Cal wants to fuck him, and they both know Eli isn’t strong enough to say no and mean it. “Get undressed.” Cal orders, and walks past him, shirt sliding off his shoulders as he enters Eli’s bedroom. Dismissive. Challenging.

Eli swallows, thinks no again, thinks please, but takes his clothes off, follows Cal. Lies obediently on the bed and opens himself to the other man. With them, what you say is never important. They read actions, expressions, words are meaningless and get in the way. A broad hand stroking down his back, pressing his thighs apart, says submit, open to me far better than any words would do. The pressure of lubed fingers slicking into his body says I’ve been thinking about this, hints around I’ve wanted this. Things that would go unsaid.

The surprised tightening of Eli’s body around Cal’s fingers draws a hum, another long, soothing stroke. A hitch of hips, breath, a writhe that was supposed to move away but got caught up in more when the second finger breaches him. Rougher thrusts, more pressure and impatient scissoring, an apologetic squeezing on his hips when the fingers are pulled away and Cal’s cock begins pushing into him says all sorts – I want you, I don’t want to wait, sorry I’m going too fast. Eli clenches, releases, spreads his legs and tries to pull away – I’m confused, I want it, it hurts. Eventually they settle into a rhythm, hips surging together, hard thrusts into yielding flesh, moans pressed into flesh and soft cries into the pillows, Cal’s hands remain firmly at his waist, doesn’t care to explore. Eli’s hands stay tight in the blanket, he hasn’t been told he can explore.

Cal speeds up, thrusts harder as well as faster but a little more shallow, focusing on the place that makes Eli’s breath catch, makes him push his hips back against him. Eli comes with a cry and relaxes all over and it’s Cal’s show again, tugging Eli’s hips up more for him, surges into him and comes.

Afterwards, he pulls his clothes back on silently and leaves without looking at Eli. Tomorrow he might, he’ll look at the dark circles around Eli’s eyes, the way he holds himself to prevent himself from limping, and he’ll assess, analyse, think about what he can get away with next. Someday he’ll get bored but for now, his little experiment is interesting.

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