-Chapter 4: Rehab Check-in-

Bryce was far from overjoyed to be entering a rehab clinic It wasn't the type of place that he'd ever seen himself attending. He wasn't an addict, after all. Addicts, from what he had always understood, took recreational drugs for recreational uses. He had a valid reason.

Didn't he?

Admitted, he could no longer remember why he'd started taking Bitter Angel. But that didn't mean there hadn't once been a reason for it. And maybe he didn't want to remember. Wasn't that the point?

"How long have you been taking drugs?" Dr. Strauss asked him.

"Already been asked," Bryce shrugged, despondently. He was really not in the mood to answer questions right now. He just wanted to sleep. He'd been up all night at the hospital, the doctors concerned about him slipping into a coma from the drug. Or worse.

"Not by us, young man,"

"Can't you just look at their paperwork then?" Bryce snipped. "I want to sleep."

"You can sleep tonight," Dr. Strauss said, firmly. "Right now, we have to do your intake. And yes, I can get your paperwork. However, I feel that some of the questions should be answered by you, to show me that you understand that you have a problem that we need to help you with. So, how long have you been taking drugs?"

"The drugs have pretty much messed with my memory a bit," Bryce finally admitted, "but the lab results say about a month."

Cheviot, who was with him, nodded in confirmation and Dr. Strauss wrote it down.

"Which narcotic are you using?"

"Why?" Bryce asked, sarcastically, "Are you giving out free samples?"

"You will soon come to realize that I don't find jokes like that to be funny or appropriate for this clinic." Dr. Strauss said, firmly. "Which narcotic?"

"Bitter Angel." Bryce told him, suddenly rubbing his eyes and blinking a bit.

"Strobing?" Dr. Strauss asked.

Bryce nodded.

"What is that?" Cheviot asked.

"If an addict is temporarily blinded by Bitter Angel," Dr. Strauss explained, "the blindness is often followed by occasional flashes in the vision. Like aftershocks following an earthquake. It usually takes a day or two to pass completely."

He reached into the desk drawer and pulled out a pair of wraparound sunglasses. The kind optometrists used after dilating the pupils, and handed them to Bryce.

"These will protect your eyes from any retinal damage until they're back to normal."

Bryce put the glasses on. "Thank you."

"Now, where do you attend high school?"

"I don't," Bryce replied. "And I'm not a drop out. I graduated in the year 2000 from the Academy of Computer Sciences."

"Bryce here has been working for me and my network since that point. It was one Network 23's other employees who made the discovery of Bryce's drug abuse."

"I see," Dr. Strauss said. "Means you're very clever."

"True," Bryce admitted, proudly.

"Well, Clever Boy," Dr. Strauss said, "let me be very clear on this matter. Use your smarts to your advantage. Work with us to help solve the riddle of why you're here, and all will be well. Use them to try and pull a fast one, and you'll have to build up a trusting relationship with us from scratch. And that'll hurt nobody but you."

"Yes, sir," Bryce sighed.

"Well," Dr. Strauss said, handing Bryce the paperwork he'd been writing down as they spoke, "if you would just sign here."

Bryce signed his own name, muttering "David Bowie.."

"Nice to have you aboard, Mister Ziggy Stardust,"

"No Aladdin Sane?" Bryce raised an eyebrow.

Dr. Strauss made a dismissive gesture. "Overused." he said. "And since right now you look a bit unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed, I will have one of our residents show you to your room so you can put away your things and freshen up. Then he will escort you to our morning meeting which will be starting in ten minutes. Please wait here for a moment."

Dr. Strauss left the room to fetch whoever was going to bring Bryce to his new room.

"He seems like a nice man," Cheviot said.

"Yeah," Bryce admitted. "But why didn't he just bring me to my room?"

"The person who's bringing you is probably your roommate."

"Roommate?" Bryce groaned. "I don't.."

"You'll just have to get used to it," Cheviot told him. "It's a normal part of life, sometimes, to have a roommate. Didn't you have one at ACS?"

"No. I was completely alone outside of classes,"

Cheviot sighed and wondered if the drugs might've been an escape from the constant loneliness. "Well, it'll be a new experience for you."

"I don't really need this…"

"We're not going through that argument again, Bryce," Cheviot told him. "You're addicted to Bitter Angel whether you want to admit it or need help right now and Network 23 is not the place where you're going to get that help."

"But this place is miles away from all my friends," Bryce complained.

"You'll make new ones," Cheviot said as Dr. Strauss walked in with a boy who didn't look much older than Bryce.

"Bryce Lynch," Dr. Strauss said, cheerfully, "this is your roommate, Egon Skyler Gray."

"Well, at least he was named after the smart Ghostbuster," Bryce said in a theatrical whisper to Cheviot.

Egon stuck his tongue out at Bryce. "Come on," he said. "I'll show you to our room. Then we'll go to the group meeting hall. I bet you can't wait to meet the others."

Bryce followed Egon out of the office and down the hall.

"So, which high school?"

"ACS. Class of 2000, actually."

"No shit! Really?" Egon exclaimed.

"Egon!" a woman admonished.

"Sorry, Dr. Edgecomb," Egon apologized. "Just impressed."

"Please be impressed using more appropriate words." Dr. Edgecomb said. "Remember what Dr. Strauss always says."

"Yes, ma'am." Egon said, continuing down the hall with Bryce in tow.

"What Dr. Strauss always says?"

"Yeah," Egon told him. He recited, as though he were a professor giving a lecture "A proper vocabulary is an important foundation for a proper life."

He stopped walking. "Well, here we are."

Bryce walked into the room. "I guess it's okay," he said, placing his suitcase down on one of the beds.

"Other one," Egon said. "That's mine. We'll sort out the unpacking later." he added as Bryce moved the suitcase. "Right now, we need to get to group."

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