Dave woke up from a long night's sleep. He was going to be discharged today, finally escaping the hospital with its bland decor and even blander food.
After he ate his last not so tasty but oh so nutritious hospital meal, the nurse told Dave that he had visitors. But before he could be discharged they needed to change his bandages.
The nurse removed the old bandages, revealing the pink colored skin underneath them. Then she applied new, less bulky, dressings to his hands and leg.
Dave moved his right hand and checked the dexterity of his fingers, finding the movements much more comfortable and more importantly, not painful.
His leg was also in great shape, he could even wiggle his toes without feeling any discomfort.
Dave put his clothes on and stood up. He walked around the private room finding it easy to move. His limp was gone, he was back to normal. Smiling Dave left the room to meet the visitors.
Zoe was pacing forth and back waiting for Dave. She was wearing jeans and a blue blouse.
When she saw Dave, her face beamed with a smile.
"Daveyyyy!" Zoe was so excited to see him she didn't realize she was screaming.
"Hey keep it down! This is a hospital!" Dave teased her.
"Oh, sorry! Sorry!" She looked around as she apologized, then looked back at him, "You look much better! Let's get you out of here, but where should we go first?"
"I've been thinking about getting a new place. So maybe talk to a real-estate agent,"
"Someone came into some money and wants to spend it now I see," she teased Dave.
He shrugged, "True. I don't want to be stuck in a tiny ten-by-ten apartment anymore. Especially now that I can afford a more comfortable place."
"Rich-Davey is all upper-class now. I just hope he doesn't forget little ole' me." She walked ahead of him toward her car.
When Dave got in, Zoe accelerated, heading downtown.
"God damn it Zoe, slow down! That whole mess I just got through was due to reckless driving!"
"Pooh. Don't worry, I know what I'm doing.
"Dave, you got a lot of cash from the game. I am sure it is enough for you to live comfortably for a long time. What are you going to do? Will you stop playing Conquest?"
"I won't stop playing. It's a great game and I feel more alive there than- watch out!!!"
Zoe swerved around a red sedan and gave shot the driver a middle finger as she swore in multiple languages, he was driving too slow.
"Shit, Zoe! Why the hell do you manual drive anyway! Use autopilot!"
"Don't wet your panties Dave. Autopilot is too slow,"
"I'm happy you're going to keep playing. A hundred mil is a lot of money…" Zoe went silent for a time then spoke.
"Money is not everything you know." Zoe's grip on the steering wheel tightened. "If you maroon a rich person and a poor person in the desert with all their worldly possessions but no food or water, their problems become exactly the same."
"What are you getting at Zoe," Dave was confused, this was not like Zoe. She wasn't the serious type, and definitely not about moral or philosophical conundrums.
"What I mean is, money is just something to put a roof over your head and food on the table, everything else is just stuff. I grew up with everything I ever wanted at my fingertips. But at some point I realized that it was all just stuff.
"I looked for something else, something to make my life more than that."
'Going 120 miles per hour inside the city is not thrilling enough for you?!' Dave thought out loud.
"What you built in the game Dave, the legion, the undead and all that. That is something I have been trying to do all my life now. I just want to do something new and fun.
"I'm not getting your point, TRUCK TRUCK TRUCK!" Dave shouted.
Zoe smoothly drove around the incoming truck.
"What I mean is, lots of money just makes getting stuff easier, which makes it worthless. If you use your money to make yourself and your life better that's good, but if it turns you into a snobbish brat, like those girls we met at Copacabana then it's better you never had it."
'Well that's sudden. I never knew Zoe had thoughts like this, she thinks I might become like a typical nouveau-riche.
"Daddy wants you to come over for dinner on Friday." Zoe's tone became carefree again.
"Friday, what time?"
Then he remembered friday was the night of the reunion.
"It's not like you have anything going on right?" Zoe took a right turn and braked to a stop.
"Actually, I do have something going on that night."
"Well daddy just wants to see you, so maybe you can come over for a little while. He needs to talk to you about something."
Zoe threw the keys to a valet and entered the building.
"Yea, alright, I can make it."
"This is Karen's office, she is a friend of the family and can find you the best deals in real estate in The City."
The duo entered and went to the office. They met Karen and Dave was surprised at how friendly and unassuming the woman was.
She had them look through the catalog to see some apartments.
Zoe found a great penthouse with a good view.
A $10,000,000 dollar penthouse was a very, very expensive home.
"Isn't that too big?" Dave asked.
"No, it should be just about right. We can add a gym room, a small bar. The living room can have…"
Zoe started spouting a stream of ideas on how to decorate and improve the apartment.
Karen watched the two with a wide smile on her face. She loved seeing couples starting out, plus she would make a good commission on the property.
"It's a great place to build a life together," the broker commented.
Zoe's face flushed as she realized they looked like a couple buying a new house.
Dave coughed then asked the broker to take them to see the place.
Karen drove with Dave to one of the tall residential towers and Zoe followed behind them in her car. After parking in the garage they took the elevator to the 60th floor and the realtor unlocked the door to the unit, letting the couple precede her into the living space.
The was unit was being renovated, the paintwork was only half done. Paint cans, tools and other materials were everywhere. But the large windows gave them a beautiful view of the city.
"It's a great view at night, you can see almost all of Manhattan from here." Karen praised the penthouse's features and glossed over anything that wasn't worthy of note. Zoe's excitement was palpable and infectious.
"See over there," Zoe pointed at a building. "That's where I live, if you have a good pair of binoculars you can even see my room," Zoe said.
"Is that a hint?" Dave teased.
"No! no peeking!" she blushed furiously.
"So, what do you think, young lovers?" Karen asked. This of course, impossibly, only made Zoe blush even more, and Dave had another coughing fit.
"I think I will take it." he finally managed to say.
Dave signed a dozen of papers and they closed the deal. He'd put down the a paltry sum for earnest money to enter into contract with the seller. Telling the realtor he intended to pay cash had helped. But he needed to convert his Conquest currency to 'real' dollars.
"The paint and other work on the place will be done in a week. I can also recommend a decorator if you are interested," Karen added.
"I will keep that in mind." Dave was pretty sure Zoe was going to have a hand in that part too.
"Where are you planning to spend the week? I don't think you should go back to your old place, even with my dad's men watching out for you." Zoe said
"No, I'm going to check into a hotel."
"Alright, I know a good hotel nearby. You can get a room with a Conquest game-capsule already in it."
"Good, we should probably go then. Karen, thank you, I'll see you at closing."
He and Zoe took the elevator down to the garage level, then headed for the hotel. He wanted to get back into the game as soon as possible, he had a lot to do.
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