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He’s never been asked if he loves her – or even if he likes her. Not outside of a professional capacity and even then it’s more about whether or not he thinks they’d be able to work together, despite their different affiliations. He isn’t even sure what he’d say if anyone did accuse him of loving her.

Because he doesn’t love her. Whatever they have is very different from love. They both know that love doesn’t last in their line of work, in their lives. Love only ends in pain. And they only find each other’s embrace when everything else around them gets to be too much for even them to handle.

Words don’t work as well for them and even when words are used, they aren’t quite what others would expect them to mean. “Partner” means something to them, something that not everyone picks up on.

They are partners. Everything they’re in, they’re in together. But they aren’t in love. They don’t love.

No. Walker does. Walker loves. He can see it in the way she looks at Bartowski, with a softness and a warmth she shows no one else. Not Shaw, who’s the first person she’s told her real name to in years – Casey had found out through Beckman, just prior to the Intersect assignment – and not Bryce, where her eyes were soft but there was always that hint of steel, the edge she never quite let down for anyone before Bartowski.

And she certainly isn’t in love with John Casey. The look in her eyes is almost always steely around him. She relies on him to have her back; she can’t afford to lower her guard around him, just like he can’t around her. When her eyes soften, it’s rarely with affection. It’s with amusement from witty banter and teasing or it’s with caution or worse, fear. But never with love. Fondness, yes, undeniable fondness. But not love. Walker doesn’t love him. And sometimes it bothers him before Casey remembers that he doesn’t love her either. Not the way Chuck does. Not the way a woman like Sarah Walker deserves to be loved.

The two of them are both time bombs and occasionally, they could explode in private, together, but to make their rendezvouses more frequent would only destroy them for good.

He’s never told Chuck about their meet ups – partly because they had started before either had ever met Bartowski and partly because Casey knew he’d never understand it like he and Walker do. It isn’t love and Bartowski would assume it is.

It isn’t love in those moments where Walker would speak up in Casey’s defense. It isn’t love when Casey would check on her post missions to make sure she was really okay. It isn’t love when they’d fuck so Walker could forget about Bartowski and Shaw and Fulcrum and the Ring and just feel for a moment instead of think. It isn't love when she brings him a bottle of Johnny Walker as a "I'm glad you're alive but I'm sorry you've been discharged" present and his only response is the slam the door behind her and then slam her against it, mouth covering hers fervently, eagerly, ravenously. It isn’t love when she breathes his names into his ear; he’s almost always John in bed and on the occasions when he doesn’t stop her, he’s Alex. It isn’t love when he’d return with quiet growls of “Sarah” or the occasional “Sam”; they’re back to Casey and Walker as soon as their clothes were back on.

When every conversation could be their last, they can’t afford to be in love. And it suits them fine. They’re partners. And that is enough.