As Loker walked from the parking lot to the office, he felt at his split lip with his tongue, wincing a little as the moisture made it sting. He told himself to leave it alone but was unable to resist the urge to keep testing the unfamiliar swelling. Pushing open the door, he caught sight of the scrapes on his knuckles and wondered, for the hundredth time, why exactly he was doing this. Again.

The thing was, he knew the answer to that question. One word - Lightman. But having an answer was a far cry from having a solution. Despite all of his attempts to leave, he just kept coming back, just kept trying to get his attention, kept trying to find out if there was anything to the occasional frissons of attraction he felt between them. Moments that left him panting for more and wondering if it was only his imagination or if the shadow he sometimes saw cross Lightman's face really was lust or just another sort of frustration.

So here he was, yet again trying to be what he thought his boss wanted since it seemed that he himself didn't really want another boss. Not that he hadn't tried, even stooping to an interview with Rader where he'd gotten an offer for much more than a job. An interview that extended into an evening when he'd accepted all offers except for the job and left feeling like even more of a traitor.

"Oi! Loker, stick your face in a bloody meat grinder again?" Lightman's sudden comment startled Eli out of his torturous reverie. He had been so deep in thought he didn't even see his boss coming down the hallway.

"Mr. Hackner didn't take kindly to my questions," he answered briefly as he tried to push past him, not really wanting to hear more of Lightman's criticisms right now.

But Cal grabbed his wrist, preventing him from leaving. Then he glanced down and turned his hand over, examining the bruised and battered knuckles.

"Looks like you finally learned to hit back."

"I just need to get better at ducking first."

Then Eli tried to pull away but Cal refused to relinquish his grip on his hand, tightening his hold instead and running a finger lightly over the open wounds. Eli let out a small gasp, both from the twinge of pain and the unexpected intimacy of Lightman's gesture. Cal looked up at the sound and there it was - that little flash of an expression. A flash that was gone almost as soon as it appeared, replaced by a calculating look when Cal easily read the effect he was having on him. Then Cal dropped his hand.

"Ah, yeah, guess you won't be going on any interviews soon," he said with a smirk. Then he turned his back and walked away, yet again leaving Eli in a stew of confused emotions.

It wasn't his own feelings that he was confused about. He had been attracted to his boss ever since he had first been hired. He had also long suspected that Lightman's sexuality was ... well, perhaps situational was the best word, especially since his boss often seemed to be pushing him towards some sort of situation that Eli couldn't quite comprehend. And then just as rapidly turning the tables and pushing him away. The constant tug of war was wearing but had become as much a part of Eli's day as breathing.

He shook his head in disgust, At himself ... at Cal ... he really didn't know anymore. Then continued on to the lab to bury himself in videos once again.

Near the end of the day, he was walking down the hall when he heard soft conversation intermingled with light laughter coming from the break room. He turned and stepped into the doorway to find Foster and Ria seated at the table with and array of cream colored liquids in front of them.

"What are you doing," he asked.

"Testing out eggnog for the Christmas party tonight," Foster answered.

"Complete with alcohol?"

"It's the only way to tell," Ria said with a giggle.

"What's Lightman going to think about you guys drinking on the job?"

Foster waved a hand dismissively ... and a bit tipsily. "It's almost five. Besides, I'm a partner too, so I don't care what he thinks."

"Don't care what I think about what?" Cal asked as he slid into the doorway beside Eli.

Rather than answer, Foster and Ria stared at the two of them for a moment and then erupted into a fit of giggles.

"What's so bloody amusing?" Cal asked Eli when it became apparent that he was not going to get an answer from the women.

"Eggnog, I guess."

His answer brought on a fresh spate of giggles which only increased the men's confusion. Finally Ria recovered herself enough to point to the doorframe above their heads. Slowly, Eli looked up and found himself staring directly at a large bunch of mistletoe and blushed clear up to the roots of his hair.

Cal, however, did not appear to be embarrassed in the least. He pointed an accusing finger at Foster. "Oi, you think this is funny, do you. An absolute bloody riot."

"Well, we did wonder who we would catch under it," she said, not appearing at all contrite.

Cal just glared for another moment, then turned to walk away.

"Uh uh," Ria said, with courage that Eli was sure she had found in the bottle of rum. "No leaving without a kiss." Then she and Foster both erupted into laughter again.

He expected Cal to ignore them and continue to exit the scene, but the next thing he knew his boss was back beside him staring daggers at his tormenters. Then he appeared to reach a decision.

"Be careful what you ask for," Cal told them and before any of them could react, he reached up and pulled Eli down in a kiss.

Eli was so surprise he could hardly react to the feel of Cal's lips on his. Then Cal's mouth opened and his tongue demanded entrance. Before he could stop himself, Eli responded in kind and the kiss deepened, their tongues tangling together and Cal's fingers tightening into a fist in his hair.

Then, as quickly as it had started, it was over. Cal broke away and without a backward glance stalked off to his office. Eli was left standing there, his mouth still open, only now registering the silence that had fallen in the room. He looked over at the two women, who were both staring in shock and tried to speak.

"I ... I ..." he muttered as he looked first at them and then back in the direction Cal had disappeared. Slowly, anger replaced shock, and he found his voice. "Nevermind," he snapped out before he took off after Cal.

He stormed into Cal's office, his blood boiling with a combination of fury and the lust left over from their rather public encounter. Cal, however, was lounging half in, half out of his desk chair looking as if nothing at all had happened.

"What the fuck was that supposed to be!" Eli demanded.

"Just giving them what they asked for," Cal replied nonchalantly.

"Stop acting like it was some sort of joke."

"Why? That's what they thought it was."

"Not anymore. You blew any pretense of that right out of the water."

"So bloody what?" Cal asked as he stood out of the chair in response to the threatening way Eli was leaning over the desk. Despite the relative lightness of his words and posture, Eli could see a strange glitter far in the back of his eyes, a glimmer of arousal that was growing as he continued to confront him.

"So what? I wait years, fucking years, for any sign from you. I try to do whatever it is you want - even to the point of getting myself roughed up," Eli snarled as he gestured towards his battered face. "And when you finally decide to react, you do it in response to a joke. And you fucking well do it in public."

With each sentence, Eli had advanced closer to Cal, until he had him backed up against the wall, his finger jabbing into his chest with each word. Cal didn't seem bothered by his show of aggression, instead a secret smile had crept across his face, growing wider and wider until he finally spoke.

"Didn't seem like you minded getting it on a bit at the time, so why exactly are you so pissed now?"

Eli drew himself up to his full height and stepped even closer so that he and Cal were separated by mere inches now. "Fuck. You."

Cal just continued to grin. "Really?"

It was finally too much for Eli - the proximity, the innuendo, the anger. He meant to turn away but instead he found himself crushing his lips onto Cal's. Pinning him against the wall as he used his height and his anger to dominate the situation, to take what he had been wanting for so long.

His hands found their way under Cal's black tee shirt, fingers clutching his flesh as he ground his hips against him. Cal's response was obvious. Eli could feel his erect cock straining against his jeans where their bodies were pressed together and he slid his hands down into the waistband of Cal's jeans and pulled him harder against him.

Cal was just as hungry. He moaned into Eli's mouth in response to the increased pressure, taking Eli's injured lip between his teeth and making him gasp at the combined pleasure and pain. There was nothing subtle about the way their bodies took over, just a wash of lust and an aggressiveness that made this more a battle for supremacy than a seduction.

And that was what made Eli pull away. Something about their frenzy finally penetrated his lust fogged brain and made him realize that no matter who had initiated what, that despite his earlier intentions to end this farce once and for all, Cal had yet again manipulated him like a master. He realized that no matter what happened in the office tonight, nothing would really change.

And in that moment of clarity, he finally saw the way to gain the upper hand. Placing a hand against Cal's chest, he pushed him away, holding him at arms length as he caught his breath.

"What's the matter, Loker?" Cal asked in between panting breaths. "Change your mind ... or did you lose your nerve?" he taunted.

"Neither," Eli answered, purposely filling his voice with scorn. "Unlike you, I have enough character to want more than a quick and dirty fuck against the office wall."

Then he turned and walked out without a backward glance, leaving Cal staring in shock at his retreating figure. The ball was in his court now and for the first time since he had met him, Eli was the one making the rules of the game.