Thierry's vampire hearing picked up a low hum, gentle tapping, and the sound of a voice. Apart from that the apartment was deathly silent, he listened closer.
The apartment was dark, not a problem for sharp vampire eyes. Thierry moved around through the hallway with easy into the living room. No lights he thought. Why are all the lights off?
"Rashel prefers it this way" Quinn replied reading his thoughts.
Suddenly Thierry was afraid, what had happened, what had she become?
His vampire hearing picked up a low hum, gentle tapping, and the sound of a voice. Apart from that the apartment was deathly silent, he listened closer.
"Yeah Harrison, if you give me your cloak of sorcery because your armour boosts your manna anyway, Jake will concentrate on keeping our health up during the battle because I'll be too busy casting that new kick ass fire spell I stole off some guy in the enchanted forest"
A light was coming from a small room, a study Thierry guessed. A eerie blue glow that bathed the hallway in a ghostly light. That was where the sounds was coming from. He peered in, hiding in the darkness
"Its okay" Quinn replied not wasting his time with the cool vampire fade out trick, "She won't know you're there"
Thierry straightened up and looked at the scene before him. He could see Rashel, her face bathed in the blue light from a computer screen. The keyboard was barely visible under a tirade of Reese's cups wrappers, MacDonald's fry boxes and crushed Mountain Dew cans. Thierry wondered how she could find the keys under the amount of crap. But that wasn't what shocked him most.
Her once clear skin was scattered with rising spots. She leaned in to the screen staring intently, she was speaking into a computer headset which sat atop her lank greasy hair, a few strands had come loose and dangled in front of her vision, refusing to be held back. Every few seconds she blew them out of the way, not wanting to take her hands from the keyboard. But that wasn't the worst of it, no one, not even a blind werewolf could miss her ass.
"Oh by the Goddess, Quinn. Her ass!" Thierry gasped.
"I know" He put his head in his hands, unable to bear it anymore, he sank to his knees. He had been carrying it around for so long "I know Thierry. I've been living with that ass for a whole month now. I've done everything I can. I tried giving her diet soda but she just throws the can at me. It just keeps getting bigger. I don't think the computer chair can take much more. What if it breaks? Then what Thierry! Then what!"
"Have you tried salad?" He suggested meekly
"Oh salad!" Quinn mocked "That's easy for you to say, salad! Have a nice salad Rashel!" He laughed "But you need two hands to eat a salad. You have to leave the keyboard, that's the food rule, nothing that you can't eat whilst gaming. That's what she calls it you know, gaming. So nothing that drips and nothing with two hands. What can I give her? I did try a banana but the skins started to rot on the keyboard. The room smelt for a week." Quinn shuddered "That smell Thierry, I have nightmares about that smell"
Thierry held out a hand to help him up. He recognised that look of torment in his eyes, he had seen it in the mirror every day until he had found Hannah. "What is it, is it drugs?"
He sighed "You have a right to know" He swallowed "Its worse, its World of Warcraft"
Thierry put his hands on his hips "That stupid on-line game, is that all! I thought you were going to tell me she was a drug addict, or a prostitute or something else good."
"A prostitute, if only" He sighed wistfully "Least then she might leave the house" Least then I might get some action.
Thierry pursed his lips. He couldn't deny, Rashel, the Cat did look rough. "Let me try"
Quinn stepped back "I've tried, Its like she's not really there anymore" He wiped his face on his sleeve "She's more machine now than man"
"For Goddess sake get a grip" Thierry hissed pushing past the shattered husk of a vampire. In all his years of trailing around the world, looking for Hannah, he had never seen something so pathetic. And that included himself.
"Rashel" He whispered, somehow it did not seem right to speak at the right volume. Goddess, Quinn had been right about the smell. It was awful, a mixture of the musty sweat of clothes that had not been changed in a few days and...rotting banana. And he had always thought the girl was so clean.
"The blood elves are massing in Stranglethorn Vale" Rashel paused, listening to a voice on the other end of the headset "Carter I swear if you pull that crap again your death will be so violent that all four of your processors will feel it"
"Rashel" he said more loudly.
She continued to stare at the screen as if in a trance. "I've equipped the Torch of Holy flame. That should give them something to think about. Make sure we're all flagged guys"
"" Thierry yelled at the top of his lungs. One thing he had learnt in his dealings with the made vampire Poppy North, if at first you don't succeed, yell louder.
She blinked as if awaking from a dream and turned her head slowly, it seemed to be an effort, as if her body was just not meant to be in a position away from the screen. The blue light highlighted the raised bumps of acne on her cheeks. Goddess she looked like crap.
"Thierry? When did you come over?"
"Rashel do you know what day it is?"
She blinked twice "The feast of Winter Veil"
"By the Goddess" This was bad, this was very bad. He swore, Quinn was right, "Rashel, do you know how long you've been playing"
"Playing?" She looked confused
Thierry's face wrinkled, he concentrated, trying to keep her in the real world, trying to get through to her. What had Quinn called it? "Gaming! Yes. Do you know how long you've been gaming?"
She tilted her head to the side "Errrrr awhile" She blinked again as the headset buzzed "Yeah hang on a minute Darklighter, some noob is hogging my airtime"
"What's a Noob" Thierry looked over at Quinn
He looked crestfallen "Don't ask me, I thought it was her special new name for me"
"When did she last leave this room Quinn?"
"Bout a month ago to when the official companion arrived from ebay. She was out for a hour trying to open the bubble wrap" Quinn sat down in the doorway, a position he was often used to "We used to go out all the time, she used to love the park and the sunlight and the..."
"Shut up Quinn..." Thierry chided, no wonder she never left the room, he was getting on his nerves. He was pretty sure Quinn wasn't this much of a mess before. He almost preferred him when he was a vicious slave trader. "How does she pee?" He mused darkly
"Potty chair" He shrugged his shoulders " She's an enterprising girl, my Rashel, cut the hole herself with her own boken. Her whole clan love them apparently. The patent's currently pending"
With horror Thierry realised that the computer chair had a large whole in the centre, beneath was a plastic kitchen basin, which thankfully for the moment was empty. "That is nasty"
Quinn raised an eyebrow "You're not the one that has to empty it"
"Gross" No wonder the poor man was cracking up.
"Rashel!" Thierry shouted again
"By the Goddess, Thierry what?! I'm busy" She shouted back, not taking her eyes from that eerie blue glow.
He stepped over Quinn and peered over her shoulder "What you doin'?"
"Questing" She snapped
"Oh" Thierry said as if he knew what she was talking about.
In the doorway Quinn was quietly weeping.
Rashel exhaled sharply, suddenly Thierry wondered if she was going to produce her boken from under the potty chair and stake him with it. Instead she picked up a chipped mug that had the words 'World's Best Girlfriend" crossed out with magic marker and on the other side in the same black scrawl roughly drawn in bold letters "Health" and took a sip of Mountain Dew. "We're looking for the mystical Sword of Supreme Awesomeness. Its supposed to be the only cure for the Corrupt Blood plague. Its only a legend amongst hackers that it even exists but Freddie Star Ate My Hamster has a few clues to its whereabouts and I've got my own theories"
"Cool, what's that?" He pointed to a figure in the middle of the screen walking with really really big hands and head.
"That's me, I'm Kitkat, I'm a High Elf"
"And that" He pointed at another figure "That's Carter, He's a Orc cheerleader. His Hershey attack is kick ass"
"Cool" Thierry muttered.
She tapped away on her computer "I know someone who can set you up an account with loads of gold if you want the hack. I'll email you the link"
"Errrrr cheers" He didn't know how to respond to that, just keep her talking Thierry. "So these are real people.
"Carter can only play between six and eight because his mom is a bitch. He wants to move out but he's only twelve. Yoda Dude is around a lot because his mom doesn't care how much time he spends online as long as his room is tidy"
"And how old is he?"
"Forty three" She replied "He doesn't have a job so between us we do a lot of the real grind for the clan. Killing boars and such" Rashel spoke as if it was normal.
In Thierry's world there were lots of strange things, Dragons, blue fire etc but there was still nothing normal about still living with your parents at forty three. "Cool"
He backed away, the game DID actually sound kind of awesome, battles, quests, cool little avatars, but if he had to live with this then he might very well crack up like Quinn. He and Hannah had both seen a lot of change over the years, they had seen people move from caves to houses, cities springing up almost overnight, but these weird computer people he would never understand, he would never become. Thank the Goddess Hannah thought computer games were totally lame.
He shut the door slowly, shutting out the blue light and trying not to crush Quinn. Somehow he thought the vampire wouldn't mind if his head were smashed in the door.
"What do I do?" He asked mournfully
The Night World Elder ran his hands through his hair, his eyes adjusting to the darkness "I had no idea. I mean I just had no idea Quinn. How did she get so bad with out anyone noticing"
Quinn broke down completely into a tirade of sobs "It just all happened so fast! At first she said she was fine, that she could quit any time she wanted. That she was getting bored of it anyway. But it was all lies Thierry, lies. And her ass just kept getting bigger"
"Get a grip Quinn" Thierry took hold of Quinn by the shoulders and slapped him as hard as he could. I bet Ash Redfern wishes he'd been here to see that.
Quinn shook himself "Thanks"
"You need a break, its all too much for you" He took his cell phone out "I'll make a call, take my car to the airport at Billings. You need a holiday, somewhere nice and quiet, relaxing" Somewhere without a internet connection.
"But what about Rashel, who will look after her, who will change the potty chair?" He stammered
Thierry put all his authority into his stare, he was a lord of the Night World after all. "She will just have to take care of herself. She is the Cat Quinn. She's a fighter, she can do this. But Rashel is never going to take her enormous backside out of that computer chair if she's not forced. If you're not here to fetch and carry for her, she'll have to learn to survive on her own again"
His eyes looked back solemnly "But what if she can't, what if she can't adapt to the 'real world?'"
Thierry sighed "That's a chance we're just going to have to take. I'll pop in on her to make sure she's not died or anything"
Quinn nodded. "Thanks Thierry"
Two Weeks later.
Quinn stepped off the plane, the French Alps had been amazing. He had done some snowboarding, even learnt to cut a few tricks, relaxed in the spa. The resort was small and exclusive, but best of all it had no internet! Michael Buble had been staying in the suite next door. He had resisted the urge to kill him but not the urge to punch him in the face. He had forgotten how satisfying that 'oommmphhh' sound was, or the lovely patten a blood splatter could make on the wall. Oh yes Thierry had been right. This trip had been a great idea. He felt more like his old self again. Hopefully Rashel would be back to normal. Hopefully she would not have such a fat ass.
He walked down the steps to the runway. In the distance he saw Lady Hannah.
Thierry must have sent her, if he couldn't make it himself.
Hannah's eyes flashed when she saw Quinn, he gave her a small wave. She strode up to him, and punched him square in the jaw, hard. She hit hard for a girl. Lupe the werewolf had been teaching her since she arrived in the mansion.
"How could you Quinn, after all we've done for you? How could you do this to him?!" Her eyes filled with tears of rage and hurt.
Quinn rolled his jaw, it ached from the impact "What's going on?!"
"Oh don't pretend like you don't know" She spat
He held up his hands, not wanting to be punched again, why was it all human soulmates were so violent. He had to take shin guards with him every time he went to see Ash and Mary-lynette. "I swear Hannah, Thierry sent me away because Rashel and I, well we've sort of been having problems and he thought some time away would help"
"No he didn't" Hannah glared "He sent you away because of" she looked at him straight in the eye "Warcraft"
Quinn's face fell "Then you know"
"Yes, yes I know" She whispered, suddenly she looked exhausted, a haunted look that Quinn recognised, but then it was gone. "I think you had better come with me"
To his surprise the car was taking them back to his apartment. Hannah let herself in with a key. She looked at Quinn intently, as she opened his front door, watching him raise an eyebrow. Yes, she wanted him to wonder why she had a key to his apartment.
"Goddess" he breathed, the smell, it was worse. He kicked aside two weeks of unopened credit card applications and pizza menus and stepped into the darkness of his home. Hannah knew the way blind even though she did not have his eyesight. As they reached the living room he recognised that same blue glow coming from the study, except it was brighter.
"Now do you understand" Hannah whispered
Quinn could hear two voices in the distance.
He looked into the study and the sheer horror of what he saw hit him like a steak through the testicles. "Goddess Hannah, I'm so sorry" he sank to his knees "What have I done?!"
Two computers were now in the study. Rashel and Thierry now sat back to back on duel potty chairs talking to each other through identical headsets, through the glow of the screens he could see Thierry's ass.