by Valerie Vancollie
valeriev84 at hotmail dot com
Characters: Robin Brooks, Don
Summary: For her birthday, Don takes Robin away on a surprise trip.
Note: This fic was written for the recurring character round of Numb3rs Write-Off. I was a member of Team Schmoop and chose the word prompt love.
Robin couldn't remember the last time she was as relaxed as she was now. The irony was that she'd expected this weekend to be anything but, filled with meetings and tiresome debates about the minutia of tax laws and the evasion thereof. On some level she still couldn't believe the lengths to which Don had gone to conceal from her the plans he'd made for the weekend, or that he'd gotten Howard and her assistant to go along with it. She still wasn't quite sure whether she should be upset with them for it or not. Don could be quite persuasive, she of all people knew that, but still, it was the principle of it. Maybe she'd just let them think she'd take revenge and leave them hanging, waiting for it.
Don, however, would receive no such treatment. Yes, he'd kept things from her and gone behind her back, getting her coworkers to make her believe she had to work a case over the weekend, but it had all been part of a special surprise trip for her birthday. He'd done it to treat her to a few days with no obligations beyond enjoying herself and the gorgeous weather. Well, she'd managed one of the two anyway, there'd been a bit of trouble with the latter as they'd yet to leave the hotel room for anything but trips to the restaurant and the spa. They really should try and make it down to the beach at some point, she mused looking out over the dunes and ocean beyond the patio. Since it was early yet, hardly anyone was out and she could enjoy her morning cup of coffee in peace and solitude.
A soft whisper of sound was the only warning she got before strong arms encircled her waist and pulled her back against an equally strong chest.
"Morning," Robin greeted, a little surprised her boyfriend was up already.
Unlike herself, Don liked to sleep in late on his days off. She couldn't do it, waking at the same time every morning regardless of whether she had to go into work or not. Robin did have to admit that since she'd started dating Don, she was more inclined to stay in bed once she woke even though she didn't actually go back to sleep again. It was surprising how much she enjoyed simply watching him sleep or to lie in his embrace, reading. He looked so peaceful asleep, not bothered by the stress of his job in a way that was rare when awake. This weekend, however, it was like all of his worries had melted away and that was the best birthday present he could have given her though she knew he'd have something else for the party her parents were holding next weekend on the actual day itself.
Robin had mixed feelings about that party. On the one hand, she enjoyed seeing everyone who came, some of whom she didn't get to see all that often, but, on the other hand, it was stressful. There was the setup, then ensuring everything ran smoothly and finally the inevitable cleanup. In addition, she'd always much preferred to celebrate her birthday in quiet surroundings without making too much of a fuss about it.
Like here, now, with Don.
"Morning," Don replied, voice still heavy with sleep.
He nuzzled the edge of her robe aside and kissed her neck. Robin made a noise of approval and leaned back further against him. It really didn't get any better than this, she mused, breathing in deeply of the ocean air. Almost inevitably, Don's hand found hers and lifted her mug up to his mouth over her shoulder. She could just imagine the face he pulled at the lack of sweetener or milk, and smiled.
"Shall we go for a walk?" Robin asked.
"It's your birthday, we can do whatever you want."
"Hmm, whatever?" Robin said, turning in his embrace. "You mean that?"
"Yes," Don confirmed, pressing a soft kiss to her lips.
They kissed languidly for a few moments, just enjoying each other without any real intent. It was nice, Robin decided, simply to kiss.
"So, you want to go for a walk?" Don questioned when she laid her head on his chest.
"Then we need to get dressed."
"Mmm," Robin agreed.
A few seconds passed before she pulled away and drained her cup.
"Beach or boardwalk?" Don inquired, stretching.
The rippling of his muscles on his bare arms and chest was nearly enough to make Robin change her mind and drag him back into bed instead. She could, however, do that just as well when they got back from the walk. Besides, how often did she get Don so willing to go out this early? Not to mention that people would be getting up soon and then the beach would start getting crowded and she really wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet of the sea at this time of day.
Robin followed Don into the room and pulled on one of her knee length summer skirts and a matching top. When she turned around, she found Don waiting, having pulled on board shorts and a T-shirt.
"Ready?" Don asked.
"Yes," Robin replied, stepping out and enjoying the feel of the cool sand beneath her feet as she stepped off the patio.
Don joined her, slipping his hand into hers as they walked across the dunes towards the water, the beach grass tickling their bare feet as they went. Robin risked putting her toes in the water and found it wasn't nearly as cold as she'd expected, so she walked into the next wave as it rolled ashore.
"This is nice," Don said a while later, sounding more awake.
"It's so peaceful, almost as if we're the only people for miles."
"That's 'cause all of the sane people are in bed."
"All of the lazy people, you mean."
"Then everyone's lazy as there's no one else here."
"I didn't make you get up."
"You got up," Don pulled her close for another kiss. "I missed you."
Robin wasn't sure whether to go all mushy at the sentiment or snort at the corniness of the line. The twinkle in Don's eyes indicated that he knew exactly what she was thinking. Narrowing her own eyes, she considered him carefully, watching his lazy smile grow. Determined not to give him the satisfaction of either response, she elbowed him instead and took off down the beach.
"Hey!" Don laughed, taking off after her.
Because she knew she couldn't outrun him, Robin darted closer to the waves and tried to zigzag around enough to avoid him. Eventually, though, Don caught her around the waist and she shrieked as he swung her around towards the ocean.
"No!" Robin protested, grabbing at his arms where they held her. "Don't you dare!"
"Oh, you wanna make it a challenge, huh?" Don questioned, his breath ghosting over her ear, making her shiver.
"No!" Robin responded hastily as he walked them closer to the waves. "I'm not making it a challenge, not at all! Don, please."
"Hmm, well, since you're asking so nicely..."
"And it's my birthday trip, you said I could get anything I wanted."
"So I did," Don sighed, loosening his grip. "I'll just have to leave it for next time then."
"No, you don't," Robin countered, turning in his embrace, so his hands rested on the small of her back as she slipped one arm around his waist and placing the other on his chest.
"Well, I suppose I could be persuaded to forget about it," Don teased, smiling widely.
"I'll bet you could," Robin laughed. "You, Don Eppes, are very predictable in certain ways."
"No, I never said that," Robin replied, kissing him. "I never said that at all."
"Good, 'cause I really hate complaints."
Robin laughed again, shaking her head at him even as emotions swelled within her. She hadn't been lying, Don was predictable in several ways to those who knew him well, but it was in a nice, familiar way. There was a comfortableness about that knowledge which startled her. An intimacy oh so very similar to that which had caused her to flee the last time, sure that Don could never reciprocate it. If she'd had any doubts at all this time around, this weekend would have been more than enough to dash them. He'd done so much for her and shown her in so many ways how much he cared.
The surge of emotion itself was starting to feel very familiar as she'd experienced it so often lately. Love. It had taken her a while to acknowledge it, even to herself, but that's what it was. Robin hadn't said anything before, afraid to say it out loud, but now things felt right. It was the first time she wanted to say it without hesitation.
"I love you."
Don froze and Robin could hear his breath catch even as his eyes grew wide as he stared at her, clearly caught off-guard. She smiled at him, pleased to have surprised him and strangely unconcerned about his response as he'd already more than proved how much she meant to him. She leaned forwards for another kiss and suddenly his arms tightened around her, one moving up her back as he deepened the kiss, pouring all of his passion and feelings for her into it. She understood exactly what he meant but couldn't say and returned it, sliding her hand into his hair.
It was a while before they stopped kissing and even then Robin was reluctant to release him and rested her head on his chest instead, listening to the steady beating of his heart. It was a hypnotic sound and one she'd often fallen asleep to. Now she simply enjoyed the feel of him and the ocean air as he slowly ran his hand up and down her back.
Yep, I was in kinda a schmoopy mood this round again and I think it most definitely shows here. I can't really help it with this pairing, though, they just work. Plus I feel I need to be nice to Don sometimes for all the whumping I put him through!
This fic was originally not going to have anything to do with the beach or the ocean. The basic idea hasn't changed from that which first came to me- Robin telling Don she loves him towards the end of a surprise romantic weekend getaway- but the location most certainly has. I can't possibly imagine why, though, seeing as I've only been to the beach a handful of times since the beginning of August and was there when writing it.
Hmm, not much else to say really, except to apologize for any remaining errors as I didn't get the chance to have this betad.