She's Everything

"She's a little girl, she's a tigress, and she's a warrior. She's insecure and she's indomitable. She's everything."

-Stana Katic on Kate Beckett, Parade Magazine March 16, 2012

Little Girl

She can't get the stupid thing to work.

Why won't it work for her?

First the espresso machine rebels, burning the back of her hand. Then the stapler jams - Ryan keeps passing his over the desks, sighing at her. Then her printer won't read the ink cartridge; it told her to install a name brand cartridge and she already has, thank you very much.

Now this.

Kate types in the fax number slowly, watches all fifteen pages feed into the machine one by one, and then waits.

A horrible sound, like cats being de-tailed, detailed?, and then that incessant busy signal. But this makes no sense at all because this number goes straight to the OCME's email account and it should never (in theory), ever be busy.

She smacks her hand on the cancel button for the third time and calls it quits.

"I give up," she mutters, grabbing the file from the tray and storming out of the break room. Nothing wants to work for her today.

Of course, Castle is the one who usually staples stuff for her, messes with her printer, makes her coffee, and faxes things. She's just - rusty. He's not thatgood; she's just - that bad?

Kate growls and drops the file on Esposito's desk; he and Lanie are dancing around each other again. "Go make a morgue run," she sighs. "Your lucky day."

Espo jumps up, slamming his phone into the cradle with a wide grin, trying to look cool even as he gathers the file. "Oh yeah, yeah. You need a favor? No problem. Just - I'll just run this over to the ME's office. Make sure they get it."

Ryan gives her a sympathetic look. "Fax machine problems?"

"Life problems," she grits out, stalking towards her desk.

She sits with a huff and her chair sinks. A good four inches. Esposito barks a laugh at her, hightails it for the elevator when she glares at him.

She can't get her chair to stay; it sinks no matter what she does.

Ryan steeples his fingers and taps his lips. "You know-"

"Do not say this is karma. This is not karma."

"I wasn't thinking karma. I was thinking Castle."

She rolls her eyes, but every circle only makes her headache worse and her heartache more unbearable. "Has nothing to do with Castle."

"When he's around, you don't usually run into so many-

"Technical difficulties?" she supplies, daring him to say it.

Ryan backs down, glances at his open blotter, rubs the back of his neck. "I'm just saying-"

"Don't say it," she spits out, but even she can hear the way her voice lacks heat, the way it seems to shrink the more she doesn't talk about Castle.

What can she say, really? It all sounds pathetic, even to her own ears.

He just doesn't love me anymore. He said it once, but he took it back.

She's making cold calls to their witnesses. She's the government representative for the case - it's gone federal - and there will be an FBI agent there too, but Kate gets to coordinate all the people slated to give testimony. Yippee. Like herding cats.

She doodles as the phone rings, doodles as she leaves a message. The log sheet is pleasantly covered in sharp, angular black and white expressionism and strange, four-petaled flowers. After a while, she stops noticing and has to actually have a conversation, reminding her witness of the trial date and the likelihood of his appearance in court.

She glances down to the page for the next phone number and realizes she's put their initials in a heart, like she's in third grade all over again, like it could be that easy.

Kate covers her eyes with a hand and has to breathe through the rush of shame, even as a silly and completely worthless need floods her chest.

She wants initials in hearts. She wants hearts-

He's not coming back for her. He's moved on.

Esposito comes back without the file, so Kate tells him to go all the way to the morgue for it with explicit instructions to make a copy and leave the copy with Lanie.

Esposito stands in the conference room looking none too pleased, a hand on his hip - affecting a rather Ryan pose, actually. "Come on, Beckett. Just have her fax it to us."

"I need the original. You know that."

"By the way, Lanie told me to tell you that you better stop moping about it."

Kate lifts her head from the stack of evidence and blushes. "What?"

He holds up both hands, backing out of the room. "I'm only repeating the message. I don't actually know what you're moping about."

"Sure you don't," she sighs, rubbing the bridge of her nose. "You tell Lanie I'm not moping. I'm fine."

"Sure you are."

But he disappears before she can correct him.

She's half-eating her grilled chicken salad, drinking the coffee Castle brought earlier this morning when he was body-surfing. She had to reheat it. Like a child, she wouldn't touch it after he said he was looking for Slaughter. Now she wants it, can't stand to think it might be the last-

Esposito pops in. "Hey-"

"Are you just now getting back?"

"Uh. Went to lunch. But. Lanie says-"

"Are you kidding me?" Kate rolls her eyes at Espo. "Stop passing messages in the hall. We have email, she can call-"

"I get it. Very fifth-grade. Circle yes or no, right? But look, on pain of death, I have to deliver this message."

"Fine," she grumbles, waving her hand at him.

"Lanie says you should do something about it. She says you should kiss him on the swings. Whatever that means. I think more fifth grade references?"

She glares at Esposito but he takes one more step inside the room, as if her death stare means absolutely nothing. It's probably lost all its potency, now that her heart is in such a wretched, miserable state.

Another thing that's Castle's fault.

"Hey, Beckett?"

"What?" She picks at her salad and averts her eyes. The burning behind her lids is getting harder to ignore. Kiss him on the swings.

"You know what they call this guy, Slaughter, right?"

Her chest clenches so painfully all she can do is nod her head.

"The Widowmaker," he elaborates, as if she didn't already know that.

"I know," she gets out.

"So. You ain't gonna do anything about it?"

She lifts her head, her lips pressed together for a moment to keep it back. Her nostrils flare as she tries to breathe.

"Javi, if he wants to pull someone else's pigtails, there's nothing I can do about it."