BY THE TIME I make it home, I'm soaked to the bone. Even though it's a mildly warm night, my teeth are chattering as I stand in front of my apartment door fiddling with my keys.
Dammit. I can't--
I drop the keys, biting my lip to keep my tears at bay, and lean down to pick them up only to slam my forehead against the doorframe. Pain erupts through my skull, and the waterworks I've managed to hold off spring from my eyes like I've struck oil. They make it difficult to see as I search the floor near my feet for my keys once more, fumbling for the right one, then jam it into the lock.
The door swings open with a push, allowing me to rush inside and slam it behind me. Choking back sobs, I manage to twist the lock and the deadbolt behind me - forgetting about my sister who isn't home yet - before sliding down the door to collapse in a heap on the ground.
What did I do? What did I--
Three sharp knocks bang against the door, and a small yelp escapes from my lips. I use both hands to wipe the tears from my now-puffy eyes, leaving my keys and purse on the floor, and use the small side table next to the door to heave myself upright. It's harder than it should be. My muscles quake from exertion. I work out semi-regularly, but nothing can prepare a body for what mine endured this evening. The lack of adrenaline coursing through my veins doesn't help either.
"Chloe? C'mon, you're late," A muffled voice says through the door. "I'm hungry."
Shit. Shit, shit, shit, shit.
It's Mara. My best friend Mara. The person I tell everything, Mara. The person I'm supposed to be going to dinner with tonight for our weekly wine + dine session, with an extra side of gossip. Except this isn't exactly something you can gossip about to your best friend, is it? Hey, by the way, I found out I'm a freak tonight, and - oh, did I mention that I think I'm a murderer?
My mind races as I try to think of a solution. Obviously I can't go to dinner. One, I'm a wreck. Two, I still don't know what happened back there. Did I kill those men? With my bare hands? What if...what if I touch someone else and it happens again? No sir, no thank you. I cannot go out of this house.
Not to mention the fact that, after tonight, I'm not sure I'm going to get my appetite back. Ever.
Oh, I feel sick.
The room spins, and I rest my throbbing forehead against the doorframe before unlocking the deadbolt and opening the door just a crack. Mara, a curvy redhead, is tapping her foot impatiently as she glances down the hallway, probably keeping an eye out for my hot neighbor three doors down. Her head whips over to me, and for a second I think she's pissed - more than pissed - and my heart leaps into my throat.
She knows. Oh god, she knows.
"Chloe?" Her eyes soften in a heartbeat, and oxygen fills my lungs at the sound of concern in her voice. "Are you okay, babe?"
I nod, unwilling to open the door any further. She puts a palm on the door, pushing it to give her entry, but I use what little strength I have left to hold it steady. Luckily, Mara is 5'1" and 140 pounds, her petite frame stacked with curves in all the right places. Her wild curls are twisted up into a topknot, and she's wearing her go-to after work uniform of Lululemon athletic clothing (which she insists on wearing non-stop, regardless of the fact that I'm not certain she's exercised since 2012 when I forced her to try yoga with me). Basically, even when I'm as worn down as I am right now, I can take her.
"I'm good," I croak, the words catching in the series of emotional lumps still clogging my throat. "I don't think--"
She narrows her blue eyes at me, "Chloe, what's wrong? Why won't you let me in?"
"I, uh..." Crap. I can't think of anything. I'm naked? There's a guy here? I killed someone? Shit, all I can think of are the worst excuses that are either A) completely and obviously lies or B) the truth that I definitely don't want to come out. "I'm sick," I manage to lie.
Most of my body is hidden behind the door, including my rumpled scrubs, so Mara is forced to inspect my face for any signs of illness. She leans forward, and I jerk away from her, smashing my temple on the doorframe, to keep my distance. Last thing I want is to kill my best friend from her touching me.
"Ow!" I cry, fresh tears springing to my eyes as I drop my hold on the door. "Goddammit!"
"Why don't you let me in, Chloe?" Mara asks. Her voice is low, and I can tell she's caught on that something is wrong given my severe overreaction to bumping my head. Swearing? Relatively normal. Bursting into tears? Not so much.
I brace my foot against the door, leaning my body weight into it, as I shout, "No!"
Too loud, Chloe, too loud. Now she's definitely going to be able to tell that something is up.
"Listen, Mar, I'm sorry," I mumble. "It's just...it's been a really bad day. On top of everything, I'm exhausted, I got rained on, I've got a splitting headache. I just don't think I should go out. I wouldn't want to get you sick."
She drops her voice, "Chlo, did someone die?"
"What?!" I struggle to keep my voice even, but panic is rising in my chest. My knuckles grip the edge of the door so hard that they've turned white, and my lungs feel like they might burst. I can't go to jail. I have to take care of my sister. I have my job, and my patients. I have so much ahead of me. It can't be over now.
My fingers start to burn, a sensation nearly identical to the one I felt in the alley when I touched the two men - when I killed them. If Mara were to reach out and touch me, even just brush against my skin, I have no idea what would happen and I'm not exactly looking to find out. Whatever this is, I can't control it, and the fact that I'm panicking is making it even worse. I can feel the fire spreading up my arms, an invisible plague drifting over my skin and masking me with nothing but death.
Oh god, I might be sick.
"Did one of your patients die? It wasn't Paul, was it?" Mara clarifies. "I know it's upsetting, but they're old. It's bound to happen when you work at a nursing home, Chloe."
Oh, thank goodness. "No," I tell her. "None of my patients died." Someone else did though. Two someones. And they're lying dead in an alley less than a mile from here, probably covered in my fingerprints, waiting for someone to find them and call the cops and--
"Babe, you need to get some rest," she interrupts my runaway freight train of anxious thoughts. "We can do dinner tomorrow night, if you're feeling better, but for now - take one of Ari's Ambiens, drink some OJ, and get in bed."
The only thing I can do is nod. I mutter a goodbye before closing the door in my best friend's face and lock it. Watching through the peephole, I watch her walk away slowly without looking back at my door. Straightening slowly, my eyes land on the edge of the door where my hand gripped and the clear outlines of my thumb is imprinted into the wood, a shriveled and rotten indentation that I'm sure is repeated four more times for each of my fingers on the other side.
This is bad. Very, very bad.
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Lost + Found [Bucky Barnes] ✓Fanfiction
A post-Captain America: Civil War fanfiction. I'm Chloe Tuominen. I'm just an average girl. An average physical therapist with an average apartment, an average life, and above-average hair. That is, until I'm mugged one night and kill two men with...