Une Annee, Une Eternite

by Valerie Vancollie

valeriev84 at hotmail dot com

Spoilers: Take Out, Checkmate

Note: This fic was written for the summer fic quote challenge at Numb3rs Het to write a fic inspired by a chosen quote prompt.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Numb3rs characters, items or situations. I only lay claim to the original aspects of the fic.

Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything. - George Lois

Robin hit the power button of her car's CD player in irritation. Although Louis Beaumont was her favorite vocalist, even his songs weren't enough to lighten her mood today as they, like everything else on the radio, were about love. Instead she lowered her window and tried to see if she could tell where the traffic jam started. She could just make out police lights at the bend in the road and resigned herself to another fifteen minutes of snail's pace progress.

It was just her luck that there'd be an accident here today of all days. This was normally part of her clear stretch home. Perhaps this was her comeuppance for being snappy all day. Robin had known it wasn't fair to her co-workers and had tried to keep out of their way as much as possible, but she couldn't quite shake her bad mood. It was the seventh today; the day after her and Don's anniversary. True it was the anniversary from when they'd first starting dating and not the second time around, but she still felt it was important.

Don, obviously, did not.

And it wasn't like this was the first time he'd forgotten either. The first time he had completely missed the date of their one month anniversary and it hadn't been until Reeves had made some comment that he'd realized why she was upset. Robin knew guys didn't always view such dates with the same importance women did, but surely after last time he'd know how much it meant to her! Especially since it had been a year yesterday.

At first Robin had thought he was being coy about it, not mentioning a thing as they got ready for work. He did like to surprise her after all, yet when he'd called to tell her he had a new case and would probably be at the office all night, he hadn't said a word either and her hopes had been painfully dashed.

It wasn't the fact that he'd gotten stuck with a case that bothered her, at least not much as she quite often saw photos and footage of what the people Don chased were capable of, but that he seemed to have completely forgotten. In the car this morning, she'd heard of a local kidnapping on the radio and figured Don's team had probably been assigned the case. She just wished that, occasionally, Don would realize that he wasn't the only FBI agent or team leader in LA. He deserved to take time off just as much as the others. Sinclair, Granger and Reeves all took their vacation days, why couldn't Don do so every now and then?

When she finally passed the site of the accident, Robin had to wince at the wreckage. She sincerely hoped no one had gotten killed as it looked bad. Traffic began to clear right after and she managed to make the rest of her journey in just under ten minutes, which was normal.

Robin scowled as she reached her house and saw a very familiar black Suburban sitting in the driveway. How had he known she'd come here today instead of joining him at his apartment as was their habit on Fridays? Pulling in behind the Suburban, she turned off her car and sat glaring at his as her fingers tapped on the wheel. Had Don realized his mistake? Well, she wasn't going to run from her own home.

As she locked her car, Robin suddenly realized that this was the first time Don had made use of the key she had given him shortly after they'd gotten back together. He'd never had one the first time around and his giving one to her back then had been one of the reasons leading up to her decision to split. It had been too much; meant to much, especially coming from a known commitment-phobe like Don Eppes.

Impossibly, Robin felt some of her bad mood melt away as she walked towards the front door. Don had obviously realized his mistake this time or he wouldn't have come to her place. It was a sign of how well he knew her now, to guess what she'd do. That or Reeves had given him another reminder. She certainly hoped it wasn't the latter, Don couldn't spend all his life relying on someone else to remind him of the important dates. If he truly loved her, he would remember them on his own.

Robin's thoughts were interrupted as she reached the front door and found a note taped to it. It simply read 'Follow the yellow brick road...' but it was enough to make her smile even if the meaning of it confused her. She'd loved the Oz stories ever since she was a child when she'd read them together with her father. What on Earth was Don up to now?

It was with a start that Robin realized her bad mood was almost entirely gone as she unlocked and opened the door. Instead a strange feeling of anticipation had replaced it, though she could still feel some lingering irritation underneath. She stopped in the doorway in confusion as the smell of flowers reached her and she saw two trails of flower petals on the floor. The first consisted of yellow petals which started at door and headed upstairs, while the second were pale blue petals and ran down from the stairs and along the hallway leading to the kitchen.

Startled, it took Robin a second to shake her head and close the door, bemused. She was tempted to follow the blue petals despite the note, but as she put her keys in the dish by the door where she always left them, she found a second note. This one merely said 'Please' but she could all but picture Don's face with that pouting expression he sometimes used when they were alone. She'd never been able to resist it then and, apparently, she couldn't even now when she was only picturing it.

With a loud put-upon sigh (she was sure her boyfriend was somewhere nearby), Robin followed the yellow petals, smiling despite herself. She'd always loved puzzles and was looking forward to seeing what Don had in store for her. She never was entirely able to predict what he'd do next and she quite enjoyed the fact that he could still surprise her.

The petals led her straight into her bedroom and to her bed where Don had laid out one of her fancy evening dresses. Whatever he had in mind for tonight definitely involved going out somewhere. The question was where? Towards the bottom of the dress was another note which simply read 'Shoes.' Robin laughed as she put the note aside. It had been established early on that Don was completely hopeless when it came to women's shoes. She'd dragged him into a store one day, hoping he'd be able to help her choose a new pair to go with one of her dresses, but instead he'd been nothing but a nuisance. She often wondered if some of it hadn't been done on purpose so she wouldn't drag him along the next time.

Robin shook her head at the memory, picked up the dress and followed the red rose petals which started at the bed and led towards the bathroom. The petals stopped at the door so she stepped inside and hung up the dress before looking around, hoping for another clue as to what Don had in mind. On the counter next to the sink was a small parcel wrapped in silver paper with a blue blow. She looked at it in surprise and moved towards the counter.

Carefully, Robin unwrapped the package to find a jewelry box inside. Opening it, she gasped in surprise as she found herself looking at the pair of earrings she'd admired in town a few weeks ago. How did Don keep managing to do that? He hadn't been with her at the time! Had she told him? She didn't think so. Perhaps one day he'd tell her, or she'd be able to watch him do it when he got his father or brother something. Another little note with 'Makeup' indicated that he hadn't even attempted to go through her makeup drawer and for that she was thankful.

A quick glance around and Robin found another note, this one leaned up against the bottles with bath foam on the edge of the bath. 'Later,' it read, then below it an arrow to the right, followed by the words 'shower now.'

"Pushy bastard," Robin muttered but complied, though she cast a longing look at the tub.

She'd definitely hold him to the 'later' bit and show him exactly why a bath was infinitely better than a shower. Don didn't even have a bathtub at his place and had always said they were a waste of time, though she was sure he'd benefit greatly from taking a nice long soak from time to time. He got far too tense doing his job.

Robin undressed and took a quick shower, not knowing what else Don had in mind and not wanting to throw off his timetable if he had one. She was disappointed that he didn't come up and join her, though if he did have something particular in mind, that could be why. The last time they'd showered together, it had taken a very long time. She smiled at the memory as she stepped out and started drying herself.

It was a token to how far she'd come, Robin realized, that the knowledge of just how many memories she had of them together didn't frighten her anymore. Instead she now cherished the knowledge as she cherished each and every one of those memories, even the ones that weren't entirely good. Hopefully they'd make some new ones tonight.

Since she didn't have to choose a dress, Robin was quickly dressed and it was easy to choose the jewelry she wanted as she'd imagined it when looking at the earrings in the shop. Makeup was a little trickier, but she used the dress as a guideline of what would be expected wherever they went.

The moment she opened the bathroom door, Robin was struck by a vaguely familiar and very good smell. She took a deep breath and found her mouth watering as she concentrated on the smell. It was heavenly, though she couldn't quite place where she'd smelled it before. Whatever it was, Don couldn't have cooked it, not unless he'd lied about his lack of talent in that area. She quickly chose a pair of shoes and a purse from her closet before she hesitated. She'd thrown Don's gift into one of her cupboards yesterday evening when she'd gotten his message. Should she take it with her now? No, she decided, she'd give it to him tonight when they came upstairs.

Decision made, Robin followed the blue petals down the stairs and along the hallway. The soft notes of a song reached her as she got closer to the kitchen and it was with a start that she realized the lyrics were in French and the voice was instantly familiar to her, only she had never heard this particular song before. Don had gotten her Louis Beaumont's latest CD.

Robin knew she was beaming when she stepped into the kitchen, looking around for her missing boyfriend. Instead she found the doors to the patio open and the table set for two with candles and a vase holding a magnificent bouquet. Her eyes grew wide as she saw that, leaning up against the vase, were two theatre tickets. They'd talked about going to see the new play, but hadn't actually gotten around to setting a date. She heard a slight sound behind her before two arms closed around her, pulling her back against a strong chest.

"Happy belated anniversary," Don whispered in her ear.

Robin turned in his arms and kissed him deeply. "Thanks, I love the earrings and CD," she kissed him again before pulling back a bit and slapping him lightly on the chest.

"Hey," Don complained, though his smile didn't diminish. "What was that for?"

"For letting me think you forgot, again."

"I'm sorry, but I wanted to surprise you. I had reservations at Three 14 for yesterday evening, but the case came up and things got hectic."

"I'm assuming that since you're here now, that you found the little boy?"

"Yes, safe and sound," Don replied in relief. "It was his father who took him, so Brian wasn't even aware that something was wrong."

"That's good," Robin leaned forwards for another kiss. "So, Three 14, huh?"

"Yeah, and they were fully booked tonight, so I wasn't able to get us a table," Don said before a large smile spread across his face. "But I managed to get the next best thing, your favorite Three 14 meal for you to enjoy here."

"Take out?" Robin questioned incredulously, suddenly realizing why she recognized the wonderful smell. "I didn't know they did that."

"They don't. However the maitre d' recognized my name from an investigation I had last year where we prevented his restaurant from being robbed and he offered to make what we wanted when he realized the tables were all booked for the night."

"Don Eppes," Robin scolded playfully. "That's abusing your position."

"No, it's not. He offered, I merely accepted."

Robin shook her head, smiling.

"It's true," Don stated before he slipped an arm through hers and led her out onto the patio. "Your seat."

"This is fantastic," Robin reiterated, sitting down.

"It was my pleasure. Now, I think dinner should be ready."

As Don went back inside, Robin poured wine into both of their glasses and started sipping hers. She then took the opportunity to observe Don while he moved about the kitchen. He had definitely dressed up for the occasion and looked good enough to eat. It was almost a pity he had tickets for tonight as she'd love to get him out of those clothes and into the bathtub upstairs.

Don looked up, catching her expression and raised an eyebrow, looking smug.

Robin laughed even as she shook her head. "Eppes, you're incorrigible!"

"Are you saying I'm wrong? That I misread your expression?"

"No," Robin was forced to admit with sigh, knowing it would only encourage him.

"So what are you complaining about?"

"I didn't say I was complaining, I was merely making an observation."

Don brought their plates out to the table, carefully setting them down before he leaned towards her. "Do you want me to stop?"

"No. Maybe I like it."

"Only maybe?" Don questioned, kissing her deeply before suddenly pulling back. "We don't want dinner to get cold, now do we?"

"Tease," Robin muttered, this time complaining even though her stomach rumbled greedily. She hadn't been in the mood for lunch earlier and no one could prepare chateau briand quite like Three 14's chefs.

"Hold that thought for after the show."

"Oh, I definitely will. And I'm keeping you to your word," Robin added as she pulled the note from next to the bathtub out and slid it across the table, tapping the 'Later.'

"You and your baths."

"Trust me, after tonight you'll want to take them more often too."

"Really?" Don challenged. "I don't know about that."

"You'll see," Robin promised.

Well, here's the last of the four fics I wrote for August's quote challenge on the comm. I hope you like it as I had a lot of fun writing this one. Although I wasn't crazy about Robin at first, I've come to quite like her... probably because Don does :)