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For once, the blood under her nails would be from passion and not rage. For once, he’d conceal his battle scars under his clothing instead of wearing them proudly, mostly because of where they were situated on his body. It wasn’t the first time they’d ended a rendezvous like this and if the last few months were any indication, it wouldn’t be the last.

The first time Casey had received word from General Beckman that Sarah had specifically requested his partnership on a mission, he hadn’t thought much of it; he and Walker worked well together, maybe she needed that with Bartowski off learning to be a real spy. But after the fourth or fifth call, Casey knew something was wrong. But Sarah refused to talk and Casey didn’t much like talking. Actions suited him fine, especially the ones he and Sarah were currently engaged in. But something was up and it wasn’t going to go away on its own, especially not with a few rolls in the hay.

The only talking they were doing were quiet, breathy words – praise, encouragements, expletives, each other’s names – until the only sounds left in the entire room were ragged pants, the small space between their mouths hot with their mingled breath. Casey’s eyes were open and Sarah’s closed; probably because she could feel the unspoken question in his gaze without looking at him. But he kept his gaze steady and eventually Sarah opened her eyes to meet his. They said nothing, merely tried to steady their breathing, but there was something imploring in Casey’s eyes. Part of her was endeared by it and part of her more infuriated. She gave Casey’s back a few successive pats, closing her eyes once more. A growl sounded in the back of his throat, the vibrations in his chest - pressed so closely to hers- bouncing almost ticklish against her bare breasts, but he relented, rolling off of Sarah and landing with an undignified thump beside her.

Sarah ran a hand through her hair as she listened to the still far too erratic thumping of her heart. The moment it began to steady, the blonde turned on her side, her back to Casey. Her partner said nothing but she could smell the tell-tale smoke of his favorite brand of cigar. He didn’t always feel the need for a smoke after sex but it was something Sarah was familiar with during their trysts.

The talking, however, was less familiar to her after a situation like this with Casey.

“Leavin’ me a little cold here, Walker,” he grumbled, smoke spilling from his mouth, tendrils curling and reaching for the ceiling.

Without turning around, Sarah bent half out of the bed, grasped the sheet they had thrown off earlier, and tossed it behind her in the general direction of Casey’s lower half.

Smart ass, he thought irritably. “You know that’s not what I meant,” was what he chose to say aloud.

“You got off. More than once if memory serves. And you’re not exactly one for cuddling so I’m not quite sure what you meant,” she snapped in return, turning just enough to glare at Casey over her shoulder.

“Look, I don’t care about what happened with you and Bartowski before he left for Prague,” Sarah could feel a lump in her throat at the memory, but with her back turned, Casey couldn’t tell anything aside from the slight tension in her back muscles. “But something’s not right with you, Walker. You called me by his name a few times back in Buenos Aires which is the most insulting thing someone’s ever said to me in bed, no contest.” A long pause. “Now I’m not asking you to talk.”

That got Sarah to turn around. And John Casey, with his arms outspread – cigar in one hand – wasn't something she’d ever expect to see.

“I’m not asking you to talk,” Casey repeated, voice a touch softer than Sarah had ever heard it. “But if this…somehow…helps, then…,” her partner stopped his attempts at compassion before he could even really start them, scoffing and gesticulating for a brief moment. “Just get over here, Walker.”

If even Casey had noticed something was wrong, Sarah needed to get a better check on her emotions. But this was Casey. This was her partner and if there was no one else on this world she could wholeheartedly trust, well…she could at least mostly trust Casey. In times like these, if nothing else.

Moving until her back from pressed against Casey’s chest, the arms that had restricted or killed so many now felt like an anchoring weight around her torso. Smoke from her partner’s cigar against her ear, Sarah’s hands moved to touch lightly at Casey’s wrists. This was a once in a lifetime chance – cuddling with a man like Casey; it even sounded sort of wrong in her mind. She was going to milk this for all it was worth. “Careful, Casey, or I’ll start thinking you actually care about people.”

A grunt – familiar and warm against her hair – bubbled from Casey’s throat and Sarah could only chuckle in response.

John Casey wasn’t Chuck Bartowski. He wasn’t Chuck Bartowski and he wasn’t Bryce Larkin and he wasn’t like any man Sarah had ever been with before – any man she had ever known. And right now…right now, that’s exactly what Sarah needed.