Oh, the new ep guys. I can't even... SO MUCH FUN. I loved it! It might be my favourite ep of the season after the premiere. Might be. It's hard to choose. Anyway, I knew as soon as it aired that I had to post-ep it. It just took me a while, but here we go. I hope you enjoy. I'm not sure how it happened, but I ended up in the first person AGAIN.

Summary: And that's when I remembered that I wasn't Nikki Heat. Post 3.11


Incomparable... Always


"Everyone can be super! And when everyone's super, no-one will be."

-Syndrome, The Incredibles


You know, it's a little mortifying to learn just how replaceable you can be.

I'm not saying I thought I was so amazing that no one else could ever possibly do my job; there are hundreds of detectives in this city, some better than others. People leave this job all the time; others take their place, and the work still gets done. I'm a damn good detective, but the 12th doesn't just collapse on the days that I don't come in (even if I don't like to admit it).

I'm not irreplaceable.

But I do like to think that I bring something special to the table.

That my process, my perceptions, my personality is unique.

That everything about me can't just be copied – stolen even – by a particularly good mimic.

In other words, her.

I thought it'd be great. Why not? Having glamorous movie star Natalie Rhodes ask to follow me around was kinda cool. And I figured, I already have Castle, how bad could it be? Besides, I've gotten kind of used to the idea of being the inspiration for Nikki Heat (though I'd never admit that to Castle). I'm not the Nikki on the page obviously, but if the character is supposed to be a little like me, then why not do what I can to help the actress who'll be playing her? And it's even more good publicity for the NYPD.

Not to mention I get to meet a celebrity up close. It's a story to tell the grandchildren, that's for sure.

It started off great. Especially since Castle (unexpectedly) wasn't a fan of Natalie's and she barely even knew who he was. I enjoyed being the big attraction in our partnership for once. It was great for the ego. And it was a nice change from people fawning over him all the time.

So I admit it, I liked the attention. I liked getting to show off about why I was worthy of having a character based off of me. Not just any character either, the lead character in a whole set of novels. I got to impart my little bit of wisdom about my world, and therefore about Nikki's world.

It was fun.

Then it wasn't.

Because it became clear that I wasn't really imparting anything. It was being taken from me.

Taken without my consent.

Okay, I know that makes me sound like a paranoid conspiracy theorist right now (if I were Castle I'd suspect CIA involvement). But she... She was trying to take everything! And that's when I remembered that I'm not Nikki Heat. Nikki Heat is wonderful and smart and sexy and brilliant and, and perfect.

And she's fictional. She isn't me.

But Natalie Rhodes was taking parts of me and making them into Nikki. She was taking the way I spoke and the way I looked and they way I talked. And she was making me into something that wasn't even real anymore. All the little things about me that were mine were becoming a character in a movie. They weren't my own anymore.

She took over my files, and my messages and my whiteboard. And then, when she was done with taking all that, she took my coffee.

Why would she take my coffee? Who does that?

I said she could shadow me, not take over my life.

But that's what she wanted. Natalie Rhodes wanted to stick me under a microscope, suck everything out of me and then use it for her own small gains. She wanted to steal my soul. She wanted to figure out what made me me, and take it. She'd have taken it all without a second thought too, and not understand why that was annoying. It didn't even occur to her once, that I might not like it. Her with her perfect blond hair and her stupid observations and her obliviousness.

It's weird.

I spend so much time at work it's inevitable that a lot of me is exposed there, more than most people probably.

I didn't like feeling quite so, well, quite so easily duplicated. As children we're all told we're unique, that we're all special. Someone coming up and shoving in your face how not true that can be isn't exactly welcome, y'know?

I tried to explain it to Josh that night, and he told me I was being silly. He didn't get it. He laughed at me. Okay not really. At least not out loud, but I could tell. He wasn't being a bad boyfriend or anything. He sympathized, but he did it so indulgently. Like I was acting like a child, like I was being foolish. Like it was ridiculous that I was so upset that all these things that make me me were just being taken from me. For a movie. Maybe he's just so secure in himself that that sort of thing just doesn't bother him, but I guess I'm not there yet, because it mattered to me.

He tried his best, but in the end he didn't really understand. How could anyone?

I know it sounds ridiculous.

It is ridiculous really. I'm sure I'll be getting a bit of grief over it for the next few days at the station.

All because I thought it'd be cool to meet an actress who chopped a guy's head off in a movie once.

Damn it.

She can just take her stupid brown wig and go back where she came from.

Because Natalie Rhodes didn't get it either. She didn't seem to see how weird it was for me to have her mimicking me all day, pointing out all my little mannerisms. Everyone has them, but no one really wants them pointed out so bluntly. "Hello there! Were you aware that you scratch your left ear when you're trying to avoid talking about something? I just noticed, thought I'd share." Who tells a person (basically a complete stranger) all the quirky little things they've noticed like Natalie Rhodes did, and in that damn self-satisfied tone of hers. Like she thinks she's figured me all out, like she can be me. Just because she's followed me around for a couple of days.

Oh, and don't even get me started about when she tried to call me out on my heels. I nearly rolled my eyes when she tried to explain to me all about how difficult it is to be a woman in this field. Or I would have if I hadn't been so surprised by the observation. How could she possibly know what being a female detective is really like? I'd like to see Natalie Rhodes live my life for longer than a week, and then I'll listen to her talk about difficult! Because I'll tell you right now, I didn't get where I am thanks to my posture and my heels. My heels are awesome though.

And Natalie thinks I wear them because they give me an edge? Pfft. Yeah, because I never get any grief about the stilettos on the job. Not at all.

Bet the new incarnation of Nikki'll wear them though. Because she can.

Because apparently, she's entitled to everything in my life because she can do an impression of me. I know right?

And who is so arrogant that their only reaction is shock when someone declines to sleep with them?

How ridiculous is that?

Not to mention, there's something a little strange about being so gung ho to sleep with someone for character research. Having a wild side's one thing, what girl doesn't? I'm no saint, but I'm not so sure I like the idea of sleeping with someone as part of your job. That's the sort of thing that has a whole lot of other connotations where I work. I'm sure what Natalie wanted wasn't quite that bad; she probably thought Castle was cute or whatever, but still. Who does that?

And then she thinks it's appropriate to ask me to give Castle permission to sleep with her. Last time I checked I sure as hell didn't have any input where Castle's love life is concerned. But according to Natalie Rhodes, the only possible explanation for his not jumping at the chance to bed her is that he's crazy about me.


Never mind that that the man's still seeing ex-wife number 2.

Or, well, I think he is at least.

He hasn't mentioned her recently, but he also hasn't mentioned a break-up, or anyone else, so I'm assuming there's still something there.

We don't talk about our love lives much. It's not like it comes up on cases.

But he's probably still in a relationship, which is likely most of the reason he didn't drag Natalie-as-Nikki off to bed when she offered. Not whatever other nonsense that woman was spouting.

She doesn't know as much as she thinks she does.

Castle and I are complicated.

Not that I care if Castle sleeps with Natalie.

I don't.


Okay, I do.

But it's not what you think.

I just...

It's not a weird jealousy thing. Not in that way. He's with someone, I'm with someone. We're both happy. Well, I am, and I assume he is. I haven't heard any complaints. Things are good between Castle and me just as we are. We're probably better just working together and being friends.

I'm fine with that.

But I'm not fine with him sleeping with Natalie Rhodes. Not when she's dressed up as me at least.

I'm the one he brings coffee for. I'm the one he bounces theory off of. I'm the one he talks to at the whiteboard. I'm his Nikki Heat.

There, I said it.

I'm his Nikki Heat. Or she's part of me. She's me without all the practicalities thrown in. Natalie got that part right at least. And I just... If Castle's going to be sleeping with a part of my personality then I'd rather it be with the real me, not some creepy imitation.

Nikki may be Castle's idealized fantasy, but in a weird way he's mine. Richard Castle is my favourite writer (though if you ever tell him that, I'll strenuously deny it, then kill you). So yeah, on one level, this little partnership we've got going on, it's the stuff dreams are made of. Sometimes I feel like that part of it might disappear if I examine it too closely. The part that just works, for no rhyme or reason that I can see. Even if we have moved beyond writer and muse now. Even if the partnership is a little more real, and both of us are doing it for other reasons as well.

It doesn't matter. I still don't want him finding his Nikki Heat elsewhere.

I feel like that's mine. And she can't take it.

I know how it sounds. I do. Especially since I don't actually want Castle for myself like that. I just don't want him to sleep with her. With fake-me.

Oddly enough (and unlike Josh), Castle got that.

Okay, he thought I was being a little crazy at some points over the course of the case, I'm sure he did. But I was the one who agreed to let her follow me around. Besides, I'm sure his ego liked how dedicated she was to getting his character right. Especially after she read his book. And I guess I can appreciate wanting to do your job well. At least when I'm not the focus of all that freaky attention.

Still, it didn't take Castle long to realize how upset I was, (even if he didn't always understand why). And he started to check in, make sure I was okay. She may have been able to snatch that first coffee, but he made damn sure he left me the second. Though if I was annoyed at him that morning. I did have to watch him fawn all over her in her stupid Beckett outfit after all.

But he didn't sleep with her in the end.

Because apparently the idea of Richard Castle sleeping with a fake-me was weird for him too.

I'll always appreciate that, even if I won't ever admit aloud that I felt threatened.

And she's gone now. Though I'm not really looking forward to walking into work today.

Still, better to just get it over with.

I walked off the elevator like it was any other day.

"Hey guys," I called to Ryan and Esposito on my way past.

Ryan glances up and sent me a smile in hello. Then his eyes widened and he jumped up and around his desk. "Hey, Beckett!" he said just a little too loudly as he got between me and my desk.

I raise an eyebrow in question. "Hey?" I repeated a little slowly. That was when I noticed Esposito walk up behind Ryan, mile-wide grin on his face. "You two need something?" I asked in confusion.

"As a matter of fact we do," Esposito informed me.

"O-kay," I said slowly. "What is it?" I asked when they didn't continue.

"Yeah, you're going to need to confirm your identity," Esposito said seriously.

I should have seen this coming. Correction, I did see this coming, I was just hoping I might somehow avoid it. I rolled my eyes when I saw Castle wander out of the break room to stand beside the guys. "Seriously?" I asked in annoyance.

"Identity theft can be a very serious problem nowadays, Detective," Castle explained smoothly.

"How do we know you're the right Beckett?" Esposito asked. "We can't have imposters infiltrating the NYPD; we're the city's first line of defence."

"Yeah," Ryan agreed. "How can we be sure you're not your evil doppelganger?"

"Guys..." I said in warning.

"We have to be sure now, Detective," Castle assured me with exaggerated seriousness. "Otherwise the clone army could attack and by the time we realize the truth, we'll be too late."

I shot him a look and took a step towards the three men in my, admittedly very useful, and occasionally intimidating stiletto heels. "She didn't look that much like me," I said dangerously.

"Yeah, but she had all last night to perfect her disguise," Esposito reminded me.

Ryan nodded along with affected gravity, "Who knows what she could have come up with in that time? She was dedicated to her craft."

"But she's already back in L.A. by now," I reminded them all. "And if you three don't let me get to my desk I'll show you just how real I am."

"Wow, less than sixty seconds to threaten us with some sort of violence," Castle observed, glancing at his watch.

"Definitely the real Beckett," Ryan agreed.

The three of them parted ways and let me get to my desk. "You understand why we had to check of course," Esposito smirked.

"Yeah, yeah," I muttered as I sat down. "I get it."

"You'd feel differently if an imposter did show up and we didn't realize," Ryan pointed out.

I shook my head slightly. "So glad I passed your little test."

"Since you are the real Beckett," Castle said cheerfully. "I guess this belongs to you."

I heard him set him something in front of me on my desk. My eyes flicked up reflexively. Then they widened.

"Your coffee milady," he said softly.

I bit my lip to conceal my grin. Sitting on my desk was a large, pale, pink, polka-dotted, novelty mug.

With "World's Best Beckett" written on its side.

I glanced up at the three of them, all smiling, and all still hovering around my desk. "Just the way you like it," Castle promised me softly.

"Thanks," I told him, sending him a genuine smile.

"Of course," he said with a shrug. "So, we get a new case, or is today gonna be boring?"

"Boring?" Esposito asked indignantly.

"Yeah," Ryan added. "We're sorry that all police work can't be as glamorous as you'd like, Castle."

"But that's what things are like when you have a real job," Esposito continued.

I watched the three of them bicker all the way back over to the boys' desks as I picked up my coffee. Wrapping my hands around my new mug, I leaned back slightly in my chair and let myself appreciate the smell of freshly brewed coffee, knowing full well that, as Castle'd promised, it'd be exactly how I liked it.

I took a sip and looked back over at my partners. When I caught Castle's eye he smiled at me over a still-sniping Ryan and Esposito.

And I realized that it didn't matter how much Natalie Rhodes tried to imitate me, or that she'll always be the person most people associate with Nikki Heat.

Because my boys'll never think that anyone can do me better than me.

No matter what actress comes along, I'll always be their Beckett.


The End