AN: I recommend reading Ch. 7 and Ch. 9 before reading this. This is supposed to be a companion piece to the two, set from a different character's POV.
If there was one thing Rose learned from being a Power Ranger, it was that life was full of surprises.
So when one of her best friends showed up one day after her lecture, she only smiled. This wasn't the first time, and it certainly wouldn't be the last. She gave a small nod, addressing her students, "I think that's enough for today." Her smile remained on her face, even when a collective groan rang throughout the seminar hall.
Her visitor hung back, keeping his head down as most of the students made their way out, only a few staying behind, trying to catch Rose's attention for a second. The former Pink Ranger was already putting her lecture notes away, turning off her projector before turning back.
"Ah!" She stuffed her notes into her bag, "Sorry everyone, if you have any questions, you can always e-mail me or talk to me before next class. I really have to go, though. I'll see you all next week!" With a wave, she slipped her bag strap over her shoulder, making her way up towards the exit. As soon as she began to bound up the steps, her visitor was already on his way down, the two meeting halfway.
"It's been so long!" Rose let her arms wrap around him, she was practically lifted off of the floor, her friend giving her a small twirl before setting her down. The grin on her face was no longer forced, but real and shining, "Mack, what's up?"
Mack loosened his grip on her, a sheepish expression on his face, "Um... Actually, I was hoping you could help me with something..."
The smile slipped off her face, worry setting in, "Is something wrong?" She placed a hand on his arm, "Come on, let's go to the cafeteria and talk."
Mack could only nod gratefully, suddenly feeling eyes on his back. "That would be great, thanks."
No sooner had the two sat down at a vacant table, away from the hustle and bustle of the cafeteria did Mack blurt out why he came.
"I need your help, Rose."
She nodded, leaning forward, "Whatever you need, Mack, you know I'll always be there for you." A frown etched itself onto her face, "Is everything alright with...?"
Mack straightened, his eyes wide, "No! No, everything's fine, but um..." He ducked his head, "Our anniversary is soon." He slowly lifted his head, "I don't want to get him something he might already have. And you've seen his movie collection."
Rose felt herself nod, not even Mr. Hartford could compete with Dax's DVD collection.
She kneaded her fingers together, having never really been in a relationship, she found herself at a loss. But these were her best friends, she knew them better than anyone...
Rose lifted her head, "I'll help you find something. After all, two heads are better than one."
Mack's grin was infectious.
They agreed the best choice would be to go to another town and purchase the gift.
...Though maybe Ocean Bluff wasn't the best choice. There had been no monster attacks recently, and everything seemed quiet. As soon as Mack and Rose entered the shop, they were bombarded with diamonds and jewels of all kinds.
The former Pink grabbed her friend's hand, pulling him along to the mens' side of the store. They were instantly stopped by a store employee, who smiled at their joined hands, "Hello, how may I help you today?"
"Oh," Mack held up his free hand, "we're just look-"
"We have a ladies' section right near the front, all jewelry in the case is on sale, and it comes with a free keepsake box, in case you want to buy your lady friend something."
Rose forced a smile onto her face, "Oh, thank you, but I think we're fine..."
The salesperson nodded, "If you need anything..."
The two tried to keep their smiles up until they left, before turning to each other, their facial expressions mirroring.
"Did he just...?"
"I think so."
Two seconds passed and the two tried to stifle their laughter.
"Okay!" Rose clapped her hands together, "What could we get him... Something he would wear everyday, but not so much that it would stand out..." As she mused, she began to walk, eying the displays. Mack followed behind, checking out the merchandise himself.
If he was perfectly honest, he would have been fine getting Dax anything, jewelry never crossed his mind. Leave it up to Rose to have an idea.
"Oh, what about this?"
This was a necklace made out of dyed leather, giving it a unique blue color.
There was also a neat piece of red running through it.
Rose already had it in her grasp, lifting it up for Mack to see.
As soon as his eyes landed on it, he knew it was it. He took it from her, holding it up against the light. "It's... perfect."
He heard a laugh beside him, "I thought so."
A couple weeks after the whole ordeal with Mack, Rose received another surprise visit.
She was staying in a hotel in Ocean Bluff, the fiasco with the article about her and Mack made her laugh, but the press were adamant to figure out the details about what they bought. Meaning she was stuck in her room until the hype went down.
Luckily, the press didn't know her personal phone number. She reached out to grab her phone, only glancing at the caller ID before answering, "Dax? What-"
"Rose! Where are you?"
She blinked. "What? I'm... at a hotel in Ocean Bluf-"
"Can you meet me at Jungle Karma Pizza?"
"Sure, but what...?"
"Thanks, Rose! I'll see you in half an hour!"
And then he hung up.
Rose simply stared at her phone, the dial tone still buzzing.
"Rose! Rose, over here!"
The former Pink made her way over to where her friend sat, huddled in a corner. "Hey Dax, what's going on?" She took a seat, thanking the bespectacled girl who handed her a menu, "Thank you."
Dax waited until they were completely alone before quietening his voice to a whisper, "I don't know what to get Mack for our anniversary."
Rose blinked, sat up, and promptly laughed.
The man across from her frowned, "Hey, this is serious..."
She quickly tried to stifle her laughter, "Oh, I know, I know, give me a moment." She bit her lip, but it didn't help to quell her giggles. Dax kept his gaze down, only lifting it with the girl from earlier returned.
"Um... Are you ready to order?"
Rose swallowed, her laughs finally silenced, "Right, sorry about that, we'll have the Safari Supreme."
Dax let his eyes scan the parlor, the glasses girl was the only one running around the place, making sure everyone was getting attended to before rushing off to the back to make their pizza. Surely the girl wasn't working all alone in this place? It appeared as if they came during the rush.
A light touch on his hand made him focus his attention back to the woman in front of him. The playfulness from her laughter earlier was still in her eyes, but she seemed more willing to listen this time.
"Dax, if you needed help, I'm always there for you, you know that."
Rose removed her hand, placing them on her lap, "Do you have any idea what you want to get Mack?"
He shrugged, "After what I did for his birthday, I'm not really sure..."
She nodded, "And there's no way you're even close to finishing..."
"Not for another year, at least."
The two sighed in unison, not bothering to really care how long they sat in thought until a tray was placed in between them. "Here you go! One Safari Supreme!" A blonde girl said, a smile bright on her face.
That was weird, wasn't the bespectacled girl the only working here? Dax glanced around again, now finding two boys helping out an older man with orders.
He blinked, turning back to Rose, who didn't really seem to notice anything different. He shrugged it off.
The former Pink stared at the pizza, watching the steam rising from it. It must have been taken right out of the oven. Their pie was literally covered in an assortment of vegetables and meat, as if it was not only a meat lovers, but also a veggie lover pizza. Yet Dax didn't make a move to take a piece.
She frowned. If the man wasn't even going to eat because he was so worried...
He looked up from the pizza, a quizzical expression on his face, "Yeah?"
A smile made its way onto her face, "I think I know the perfect present."
She nodded, "But first, let's finish our pizza."
Dax get out a laugh, and Rose couldn't help but join in.
She was blind. Rose blinked, trying to get rid of the specks in her vision.
"Sorry about that."
A cup entered what was left of her eyesight and she took it gratefully. "It's not your fault, paparazzi always go crazy whenever Ranger groups are together. I'm just sorry they had to crash your birthday party, Ronny."
The girl in question just waved a hand, "Eh, they've been worse. How are the two lovebirds doing?"
Rose smiled, for more than one reason. "They're doing great, last I checked. Their anniversary is coming up soon." She tilted her head back, giving Ronny a side glance, "Both are hopeless when it comes to getting gifts."
"But that's what you're for." Ronny held up her cup, Rose lifting up her own in a mock cheers.
"And what are you two fine ladies doing over here all alone?"
Rose rolled her eyes, her vision slowly starting to come back, "Just talking."
"You know," Ronny jokingly bump her shoulder against the other girl's, "girl stuff."
"Ah," Will let himself lean a bit against the table behind them, "It wouldn't happen to deal with those two over there?" He motioned with his hand holding his plate towards Mack and Dax. He didn't wait for an answer, his face growing serious, "Rose, those articles are fake, right?"
She nodded immediately. "You know how the paparazzi are, Will. They make up anything."
Will instantly winced, remembering the time they assumed he was two-timing Ronny and another girl totally unrelated to the team. "Right."
"Well," Ronny took a sip of her punch, "they should stop after a while, right? Just lay low."
Rose slowly nodded, "I dohave that presentation coming up. I need to be focusing on that." She frowned, swishing her cup in her hand, "I just hope..."
A shout caught her attention, forcing her to glance up. Mack had a smile on his face while Dax waved her over.
Nothing was better than sitting back, reading a thick text about ancient mythology while sipping a hot cup of tea.
No, life, at that moment, was perfect.
Rose was nose-deep into her book that she hardly noticed her phone was ringing. Hardly. She glanced at her phone from the corner of her eye, the name on the caller id forcing her to put down her book and pick up the vibrating phone.
"Rose! I just got back from Dax's, I wanted to let you know how much of a big help you were!"
She let a smile slip onto her face, the book now long forgotten on her lap. "Oh, that's right. You two just had your big anniversary weekend, didn't you? Was it fun?"
Mack's voice gave away any lie he might have planned, "Rose, it was incredible!"
"And? Did the present work out alright?"
Hearing a door opening through the phone, she quickly assumed he had finally returned home to his mansion. "Yeah Rose, he loved it. Thanks again for helping me pick out a gift. I was worried I wouldn't have something in time for our anniversary."
Rose let out a small laugh, "You couldhave just gotten him something from those cities and ruins you and your dad go to."
Mack responded with a chuckle of his own, "Yeah yeah, somehow I doubt he would enjoy a weird mini statue from a dead city."
But Mack's sentence was interrupted, a beeping going off over his voice. Rose pulled the phone away, checking to see if she got a message or something, but saw nothing. As she put the phone back up to her ear, Mack's voice became clearer, "-y's calling me; I'll talk to you later, okay?"
Before she knew it, Mack had disconnected the call.
She sat for a while, albeit a little confused at the abrupt way he hung up, but a look down reminded her of her book still sitting on her lap. She pushed the matter out of her mind. If something really serious had come up, she would be notified.
Rose blamed the school. She had been so busy with lectures and seminars that she was out of the loop with gossip and such. Ronny was busy herself, something Rose took for granted. If Rose was too focused on a project or five, the other woman would take time out of her schedule to keep her informed.
She finally had a second not overwhelmed by students or professors and sat down at her desk. As much as she enjoyed teaching, she liked her freedom better. Her hand groped around for her phone, flipping it open. She pressed a few buttons, at last dialing after stumbling on the first name. The phone gave a few rings before someone answered.
"Hey Rose, what's going on?"
She let a hand rub her face, "Hi Dax. I was wondering if you and Mack were free some time this week? I have some days off coming up. It's like we haven't seen each other lately..."
"Oh," there was a pause, a couple of student walked past her door, their silhouettes seen through the windowed section. "I'll have to check my schedule, but I'm pretty sure I can make time for a meet up. Actually..." Another moment of silence before Dax continued, "there's been a bit of a... situation."
Rose blinked. "What kind of situation? Why wasn't I contacted?"
"We've been... a bit preoccupied, that's all."
The former Pink Ranger pursed her lips together, mind working a mile a minute, another question ready but she was cut off.
"I'll talk to Mack and let you know what our schedule looks like. Later Rose."
With that, he hung up.
Rose frowned, not taking a liking to how they were keeping her in the dark. Her phone still in hand, she quickly made another call.
Two days later, Rose found herself seated in a booth at a local restaurant, her two best friends sitting just across from her.
Things looked and felt normal. They seemed to be themselves, the food had come and gone and now the group was digesting, discussing how things were going since they last saw each other.
During a lull in the conversation, Rose took a sip of her water, keeping her eyes closed, "So Mack... Did your dad see that article?"
There was a loud gulp, followed by intense coughing as Rose finally thought it was important to look at her friend. Dax was patting Mack on the back, but the other man was shrugging him off, insisting he was fine.
A few minutes tickled by, Mack still hunched over, as if the coughing fit took too much out of him. After a few more seconds of silence, Dax sat up, letting his hands return to his lap.
The taller man suddenly looked small, hunched up in his seat, and Rose couldn't help but feel some bit of pity for Mack.
There was an underlying tone in Dax's voice, "Mack."
"...Maybe." Mack dared to glance up at his boyfriend, "I don't know. I... I'm scared that he might've."
Rose's eyes darted back and forth, watching the scene unfold.
Dax sighed, resting a hand against his forehead, "Mack, this is stupid. You can't have your dad in the dark forever. Eventually he's going to find out about us. ...If that article didn't do it already."
Mack winced, looking down again, "I know..."
Dax sat up again, letting a hand fall on the other man's shoulder, "Look, Ronny's been doing damage control, it'll work for the press..." He dropped his hand, eyes darting to look at anything else, "Maybe you shouldn't come over anymore."
Mack's head shot up, whipping over in the other man's direction, "What?"
The former Blue Ranger kept from returning eye contact. "I just think it's better if you go home for now. Talk to your dad and..." He let the rest of his sentence hang.
Rose bit her lip, the urge to console Mack overwhelming but she hung back. Despite the fact that the two were closest to her, this was something between the two of them.
As if remembering she was still there, Dax turned to her, "Sorry Rose, I didn't mean for you to..." Once again, he failed to finish his train of thought, looking thoroughly uncomfortable. He slid out of the booth, "I'll take care of dinner tonight. And... I'll see you two later."
Without a second glance in Mack's direction, Dax turned, leaving the two alone.
Mack remained glued to his seat, his eyes wide as they watched the other man until he was out of sight. Rose couldn't help herself anymore, reaching across the table, "Mack, I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."
He shook his head, "No... I've been hiding from Dad. I just... don't know what he'll do."
Rose took a breath, "Well, your team will always be there for you, you know that, right?"
The next morning, the first thing Rose heard was the blaring of her... phone?
She turned over in her bed, reaching around until her hand closed around the mobile device. Not bothering to look at the caller id, she placed the phone against her ear, "Hello?"
Her eyes popped open, the events of the previous night filling her mind. She quickly sat up, "Mack? What's going on?"
"I told him. I told Dad, he knows and I think he's okay with it."
Rose blinked a couple of times, rubbing her eyes with her free hand, "Oh, I see..." The information took a few seconds to process. "...Oh! That's great news, Mack! You finally told him?"
There was silence on the phone.
"...Mack? You there?"
There was a small chuckle on the other end of the line, "Yeah... About that..."