The first time she met John Casey, the bullet missed him by an inch and change.
That was intentional.
There was a dead body on the ground then and a perfect red circle at the man’s temple.
She was familiar with ‘thank you’, she was familiar with ‘nice shot’, and she was familiar with ‘good job’; they’re variations on the same thought when it comes to saving the life of anyone who isn’t a civilian, someone who understands that this is the job you sign up for.
What she gets is a grunt of acknowledgment in her direction, much in the same steely way he says “Agent Walker” now.
Back then though, that hadn’t been her cover.
The second time is two months before she’s partnered with Bryce.
Her dress is royal blue and backless and her hand is wound around some other man’s arm (he was not an agent; this was not the best plan of action). The bartender looks familiar.
She smiles, slow and close-mouthed, and he pours her club soda when she asks for a gin and tonic, which is how she knows it’s not just her eyes playing tricks.
Something goes wrong, a civilian is dead, and it’s only half her fault.
Turns out they weren’t working the same op. They were working the same target.
The CIA and the NSA never did play nice, and so she guesses it only figures that the last she sees of Casey for almost a year is the shake of his head and a comment about rookies.
He might have been making assassination attempts while she was just starting out helping her father run scams on the Salvation Army, but she’s nothing like a rookie.
And he’s everything like a burnout.
They are two types of burnouts:
Those who are too exhausted, too overworked and overwhelmed, to be of any use; too dangerous to leave in the field.
Those who have stopped caring about one aspect or another; those with a diminished interest that can either be an advantage or a disadvantage.
Human life has become a little less fragile in his eyes and while it might make him better at his job – this obvious sense of detachment – it still fits him neatly within the latter camp.
It still makes him seem a little less human.
(There has to be more there, somewhere, beneath the surface layer, but she’s known him for a combined total of a few hours by this point, and she isn’t willing to dig).
The third time, Carina’s involved.
It is, of course, Carina who mentions Bryce, in that way she has of saying the most ill-advised things at the most inopportune moments.
He looks at her like he’s lost a little respect for her.
(He fucks Carina, more than once, several times in fact, and she makes no secret about that.
She loses a little respect for him there too).
The fourth time, she’s putting her job before all else; it’s a mentality she’s trying out.
It’s a mentality that will last all of four weeks, two days, before she’s back to Bryce.
In the meantime:
His fingers play along the strap of her dress, warm hands on her bare shoulder, on her hip – for show, at the beginning – and then it’s a hotel room and no dress and still with the hands and it’s the CIA’s dime, or the NSA, whatever.
Casey doesn’t tell her anything that should make her jump into bed with him, no revealing stories, and she does her job just as well as she did the first day – the first minute – she met him.
“Agent Walker,” he says, when he leaves, and there is no warmness but there is the absence of complete disregard.
She wants to call him a hypocrite, you know.
(Today is three weeks, six days – there is a reason for the closeness of the dates).
The fifth time, she calls him a slew of other things that do not rhyme with hypocrite.
They leave hating each other.
It’s no surprise.
The sixth is on a rooftop, guns trained on each other, on the Intersect.
That morning she’d called him a ‘burnout’ to the Director of the CIA; a few days ago he’d shot Bryce (killshot, or so they all thought).
He calls her “Agent Walker” steely tone, and it’s worth noting that it’s finally one she matches.
It’s all uphill from here (or downhill, depending upon who’s keeping track).