A/N: This fic is co-authored by BlueOrchid96 and 1822andallthat for our dear friend Liv Wilder's birthday. Early S5, pre "Murder He Wrote" timeline.

Now it is poor me, why me, oh me

Boring the same old worn out blah, blah story

There is no good explanation for it at all

It Happens,Sugarland

Chapter 1.

So that was it.

He'd messed up.

Kate had been clear she wanted to keep this to themselves and he'd readily agreed. After all that had happened, all it had taken to finally get to this point, it had only seemed fair to let the stardust settle, to persuade the unrelenting handles of the clock to imprint on their souls a more sedate rhythm, allow time to linger on for them to see their relationship blossom in private and to explore those precious feelings. All they'd really longed for was to find their bearings and let themselves enjoy those exquisite moments before sharing their happiness with their families and friends.

Castle sighed and raked his fingers in his hair, spiking it up irretrievably. The clammy summer air covered his skin with a shimmer of claustrophobia and maybe, just maybe, he should man up, stop pacing the loft in this feverish, frenzied fashion and turn the air conditioning up a notch. And then he should call up Kate's number on his phone. If she found out for herself, or worse, if the truth transpired through a third party, there'd be no galaxy far enough for him to hide from her wrath… He should just come clean with it and deal with the consequences. Now that was a plan.

Feeling the tight knot in his chest easing up a little at the thought of having a plan of action to carry out, Castle made his way to the kitchen and rummaged through the fridge for a cool drink to relieve his parched throat. No need for him to croak up an explanation when he knew how much it relaxed Kate to have him read Nikki to her in the bath or cuddled with him on the couch – she had surprised him with this confession one night, soft and sated and still glowing in the aftermath of post-coital bliss.

His sweet Kate.

So what he needed was his best baritone to take over and let the deep, calming texture of his voice to work its magic and smooth over the fact that he'd been a nine-year-old. He'd let himself be too excited, too elated and engrossed in the bubble of buoyant joy he'd been living in since she came to him that night, drenched and sorry and all his and yes, he'd been careless. These pictures had been a huge mistake.

Not that she had thought them to be that much of a mistake at the time, not exactly. She had rolled her eyes at him a bit, complained weakly for the sake of it, but had smiled indulgently and had complacently sighed her surrender against his lips

"Castle," she'd gasped as he'd eased open another button of her shirt and mapped out the smooth skin of her stomach with the tips of his fingers. Snap. Top of bare thigh. White shirt. "I don't really have the time," she'd complained half-heartedly, but her flushed skin and dilated pupils had belied the annoyed tone of her voice.

"No, Kate, no time like the present." Snap. Random bit of hair. Smattering of – something. "Ohhh, so beautiful," he'd laughed, showing her the latest photo, happy and in love. "This is the coolest camera ever," Kiss. Snap. Hands and scarf. "And there's no-one else I'd rather be experimenting it with". Snap, snap, ohhhhh, and snap.

"Yeah, right you are, Mister Castle," Kate had chuckled, "you better not try that – " She'd hissed as he'd pushed himself flush against her – Snap. Wider angle. Floor. Furniture. Quarter of a purse. " – With anyone else," she'd finished on a moan. "You're not even looking before taking the shots," she'd observed with a shrug. Snap. Right leg and foot against background of comforter.

"Eh," he'd warned her, punishing her sauciness with a tickle at her waist and she'd unwillingly rewarded him with a wriggle of her hips. "Don't belittle my creative genius. Those are artistic."

"Those are… something."

He was so not unjustified taking these photos. So, huh, perhaps it was not the best way to break the news to his girlfriend (accusing her of complicity in the matter would definitely not help soften the blow or help his case) but really, this new toy of his, a brand new Samsung NX1000, was just awesome and his subject of predilection – oh those gorgeous planes and curves – was simply irresistible. It would have been not just a waste, but a crime of the worst kind to decide against capturing her beauty in an orgy of pixels the same way he painted her glory in vivid strokes of imagery in his novels. Criminals got arrested, they did, and he'd been in the front row countless times witnessing that fact. Not that he minded getting arrested by this particular detective, he didn't. Not when it involved her cuffs and hours of delicious interrogation, horizontal and otherwise.

Right. Anyway.

As his forefinger hovered over Kate's name on his cell phone, Castle sighed dejectedly, well aware that none of this was likely to play in his favor or even be taken into account, but how was it his fault that the share icon on the camera was overly sensitive? And why blame him for being so eager to play with this sublime masterpiece of high technology? It was kind of addictive, the ease with which a photo could be taken, edited, enhanced, shared. And to be fair, the incriminating pictures only partially revealed her – only showed off a glimpse of titillating skin at a time – but no-one, absolutely no-one else was supposed to see them. That – that hadn't been part of the plan. Not that there had been a plan, exactly, more like a flurry of giggles (of the manly type), feeble objections and tumultuous exhilaration. But still. It shouldn't have happened.

Just a tiny, unfortunate flick of a finger, a fraction of a second, a butterfly flapping its wings, marking the end of Castle's life.

It was over.

Paula's call, mainly consisting of strident yelling and accusations of irresponsibility, had come too late. There had been no way of removing the pictorial smorgasbord of sexiness from the worldwide web once it had gone viral.

When she saw those photos on Twitter, Kate would break up with him. The evidence was damning. She would take none of his attenuating circumstances into consideration, deep, enticing voice or not.

If she was merciful, she would also kill him.