"I am disappointed with you both. Especially you, Chase."

With his hands on his hips, Ryder looked between the Sheperd and mixed breed with a hard gaze. It had been a week since Halloween, plenty of time for all of the drugs to dissipate from his bloodstream, and more than enough time for his old wounds to reopen and fester. And the only reason he was sleeping at night was because of a sleeping medicine Marshall suggested they take.

Ryder had been thorough in his investigation of both Chase's room and both of their pup houses, leaving nothing left. Even Marshall's medication —hidden in an old prescription bottle— was confiscated. Chase sighed, he would miss that one the most, keeping his eyes to the floor as Ryder continued.

"Your actions have tainted the oaths you took and your completion of this program and full adherence is the only chance you have of being reinstated to the team. So ask yourselves what is more important. Your habits, or your team."

Every word made the fire in Chase's belly grow and conversely made his already anxious heart beat faster; he didn't have to look at Rocky to know he was feeling most of the same feelings. This was their last chance.

"You will be staying at Adventure City's rehabilitation center for three months. Following your mandatory appointments with Dr. Edwards, all of your prescribed medications and any new medications you may need will be supplied to you. Bag checks will occur before we leave when you arrive, and during your stay, according to the therapist I talked to."

Chase kept his head to the ground and bit his tongue, having learned that fighting Ryder on any of this was futile and only led to further restrictions.

He didn't know if this was rock bottom for Rocky, but for Chase, it didn't get any worse, and lower than Halloween did.

Even if he was reenlisted, even though Everest had survived, he might never forgive himself for the danger he put his team in. And Sadie, he tried to push her out of his mind, as guilt chewed a hole through his stomach.

What would happen to the pup while he was gone? He didn't deserve to have her anymore. He had proved just how irresponsible he was, how unfit he was to care for her. She would be gone by the time he got back, he was certain of that, and he doubted if he could handle losing both her and Everest.

"Chase, did you hear what I asked?" Ryder snapped his fingers.

Chase let his ears fall and shook his head no.

"Are you all packed?"

"Yes, sir."

The teen let his eyes stay on the Shepered for an extra second before nodding.

"We leave tonight. This is your last free day pups. Spend it wisely."

Chase nodded his head and hurried off to find Skye. She was easy to find, still in her room, watching with a small smile on her face as Sadie slept, wrapped up in blankets in a cocoon of warmth and safety.

"How is she doing this morning?" Chase asked, sitting beside the pup as she slumbered, dreaming happy dreams, Chase hoped.

"Another nightmare, but Marshall gave her some medicine to help her sleep."

Chase sighed and looked down at the pup as guilt ate away at his insides, she didn't deserve any of this, she was innocent.

"I'm no doctor but I'd say she is past the worst of it," Skye said trying to reassure him.

Looking down at her he let a smile form across his muzzle, "Thank you, Skye, for everything."

Skye nodded her head and embraced him, "Don't worry about rehab. You'll do great, both of you."

Patting her back, he let the hug linger, figuring it was the only one he was getting today. When they separated Skye looked down at the pup, before meeting his gaze but couldn't keep it.

"Look after him, please. Something tells me he hasn't reached rock bottom yet. And I don't want it to get to that point before he changes. I don't know how much more he can take. But if he completes the program, then maybe he won't have to reach that point."

Skye's eyes sparkled and her posture was strong, she still believed in him.

"I will do my best," he said and gave one last look at Sadie, nuzzled her head with his snout, and left. Once he was outside he sat in his cruiser, waiting for Ryder to come out, so he could go and see Everest. Coming outside, Ryder mounted his quad and heaved a sigh, looking at Chase with no emotion on his face.

Shaking off his nerves, Chase lead them to the hospital, and as the white building came into view, his stomach churned. His chest rose and fell and he eased his way to the asphalt and padded tentatively inside.

The hospital was quiet and Chase could hear his heart beat anxiously In his chest as they headed for the front desk. Looking past the front desk, Chase froze in his tracks as he saw Jake standing in the hallway talking to a nurse. His stomach flipped when Jake glanced over, his face shifting from worried to angry in a blink of an eye.

Swallowing hard, he tried to stand tall as Jake stormed over, barely concealing the scowl on his face.

"Don't you dare ask if you can see Everest. I know you're not that stupid."

Chase had no leg to stand on, and his ears pinned to his head and he couldn't take his eyes away from Jake as he glared at him with red eyes, eyes that had not seen sleep in a night at least.

"Jake I'm so sorry. I just wanted to make sure she's ok." He said, his head hanging low.

"I don't want you anywhere near her!"

"But. . ." Chase peeked up but Jake shook his head.

"There is nothing you can say to change my mind. And you better thank God she survived at all or you would . . ."

"Jake," Ryder cut in. "You're allowed to be mad at Chase, but Everest is alive, that is what matters."

Jake scoffed and crossed his arms and looked down at the ground, his chest rising and falling deeply.

Chase had prepared for this, however, as he was no idiot, and knew the chances of seeing her were slim, so he produced a note from his pack and handed it to Ryder, who handed it to Jake.

"Just give this to her, please, that's all I ask," Chase said sitting at Jake's feet, as close as he dared.

Snatching the note from Ryder, he gave each of them a measured look before he glanced down the hallway and his face softened. He grunted and put the note in his pocket.

"I don't want to see your face again until you are clean, understand?"

Chase nodded meekly and sighed as Jake left to go back inside one of the patient rooms.

"Let's go," Ryder said.

Following Ryder, Chase let his head hang low as they made it outside and into their vehicles. How could he have messed up this badly, how did things go so wrong?

Once they got home, Chase packed, trying to keep his mind on getting through the rest of the day and not dwelling on the future, a future without drugs. A future where he had to face his pain, unflinchingly. A future, perhaps, without Everest. His spine tingled and his heart ached and he shook the thought away. Back to packing.

Avoiding the others, Chase stayed in his room, once again feeling estranged to several members of the house. Especially Rocky. Their trust and friendship vanished as the drugs left his system, leaving behind the Rocky that had caused him so much pain. The Rocky he couldn't trust. Chase spent the remainder of the day napping, gunfire and drugs saturating his dreams until a voice pulled him out of the chaos.


His dreams wavered and faded away as his eyes opened, spotting Ryder with an overnight bag around his shoulder.

"Time to go."

Chase looked outside of his window and found that the sky had turned dark. How long had he been asleep? It didn't matter. He got up and stretched his forepaws out in front of him, keeping his head low and away from Ryder's direct line of sight, and walked past him and out through the hallway.

Everyone was waiting for him. Rubble and Zuma were standing off to the right by the kitchen, away from Rocky and closer to Skye and Marshall, who were on the other side in the living room. Dead center, just in front of the sliding doors, was Rocky, who kept his head to the ground with a green suitcase by his side. He never looked up to Chase, even as Chase sat down next to him, waiting for further instruction.

Ryder looked between them. "Do you have everything, Rocky?"

Rocky peeked up at him and nodded and then refocused on the ground.

"Chase?" Ryder crossed his arms.

Before Chase could do anything a blur of white and black, rushed him. "Chase?"

"Sadie. . . You shouldn't. . ."

But he was cut off as she hugged his front leg.

"Why do you have to leave?"

"I . . .have to go to a special doctor." He looked around the room at all the eyes on him. "Because I'm sick. But there are people there that can teach me things to help me feel better."

"Like a school?"

"Kinda." Chase cracked a smile.

"But you're not leaving me? Will you come back?" Her eyes were penetrating and he felt as if he were being scrutinized for any hint of deception or doubt.

"I'll be back but I don't know if . ."

"Promise me."

Chase stuttered as the little pup looked up to him. He looked helplessly at Ryder.

"It all depends on you," The teen said, crossing his arms.

Chase nodded as a spark lit up his insides. He may not be able to see Everest again, but one chance to see this little pup again was a mercy he refused to pass up.

"I promise. I will do whatever it takes to see you again."

And he placed a kiss on her head and, without looking at anyone else, grabbed his bag and walked through the doors into the unknown of the cold night air.

Rocky's pov

Keeping his head to the ground, Rocky waited for Chase to come out of his room with Ryder so they could say their goodbyes and leave the only home they ever knew to a place unknown to them both. But he didn't have time to think about what was yet to come, too busy thinking about what had led up to this. But the two themes mixed in his mind, creating an anxiety breeding ground.

How long would he be punished for this? How long would he suffer for his mistakes, and how long would others feel the pain of his decisions? Rehab was scary. It meant adhering to the standards and rules set by the facility and the ones Ryder stipulated as well. Both of those things meant prescription drugs and therapy, and as a bonus, no contact with Gasket. How was he supposed to heal with nothing but rules and restrictions trapping him and making him a prisoner in his own life?

Rocky broke out of his trance as Chase emerged out of his room and Rocky focused on the carpet, the small intricacies in the pattern made by the thousands of independent strands.

He didn't notice that Chase had sat next to him until he could smell his anxiety.

"Rocky, do you have everything?"

The mix nodded his head and refocused on the ground, feeling like an exposed nerve, being set off and shocked with every sensation.

His ears perked up when Skye moved in front of him and he only caught a glimpse of Sadie bolting into the living room and up to Chase. Finding it hard to look at Skye, he looked at his paws.

"I hope you see this through. It will be good for you."

Rocky peeked at her eyes, but only found a dull magenta, no spark, like he would normally see when they would talk when they were in love and his world wasn't spiraling out of control.

"I'm scared," he said.

"It's ok to be scared, sweetie." For a second, he felt his heart leap with hope until he remembered, she called everyone that. And his heart dropped as she continued. "But you are sick. Let these people help you, please."

Nodding slowly, he hung his head as his eyes glazed over as he tried to be anywhere but there.

The room grew quiet and he looked up as Chase walked out into the cold night air with his bag around his torso.

He looked to Ryder who had his arms crossed, and half hoped for him to say that he forgave him, or ask him why he was hurting so much. But he only lowered his arms and grabbed his suitcase and walked next to him.


Rocky gripped his bag in his mouth and followed his leader outside, silently, only getting a sad look from Zuma as Rubble and Marshall glared at him and Skye stared at her paws.

The water rained down on them and Rocky winced as it soaked his fur, but he looked over his shoulder as the sliding doors opened again as Skye ran out.

Everything happened all at once.

Rocky heard two things that made his heart leap and palpitate at the same time as Skye called out his name and the distant sound of a motorcycle climbing up the driveway.

Gazing fearfully down the driveway, he was about to rush out to stop what he knew was coming when Skye called him again. When he turned around Skye flung her arms around him tightly, clinging to him and burying her muzzle into his chest.

He was about to respond when the roar of an engine broke through the rain before and it fell to an idle. Swallowing, he turned to see Gasket jumping off her bike.

"Get off him." Gasket's voice cracked as she stalked closer, green eyes set ablaze.

Rocky looked between the two and felt his heart lurch as Skye, instead of baring her fangs and getting right in her face, froze. Her body went rigid and Rocky could feel her let out short breaths as she backed away behind Ryder's leg.

Not knowing what else to do, Rocky turned to Gasket as she looked him over, as if "Why did you come?"

"Because I care about you. A lot."

"A lot?" Rocky let his mouth open as he lost himself in the emerald green of her eyes as the moonlight caught them, sparkling. "You know where I'm going? When I'm done, we won't be able to use anymore."

"I don't care about using. Or what he says about me." She glared at Ryder. "I'm not abandoning you."

"You'll wait for me?" Rocky asked astonished and she smiled and nodded. He stepped closer, eager to hug her too when Ryder cleared his throat.

"Let's go, Rocky, we're on a schedule."

The teen put his hand around the mixe's collar and was half-dragged toward the Paw Patroller, only looking back once, as the gray husky smiled at him the whole way and he breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe he didn't have the drugs or Skye. but if he had Gasket, maybe he would be ok without them.