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Second Chance

Chapter Text

The outside of the building looked so ordinary. Just brown bricks, a few windows with a cat sitting in one of them. In every aspect it looked just like any other building in the street, but it was what went on on the inside that made it interesting.

The apartment’s dark secrets was what had brought Charlotte here, and she was preparing to face them. Once she went in there, there would be no way back. The future of several lives would be changed. Some for the better, and some for the worse, and Charlotte wasn’t sure yet what category she belonged to. This whole thing might as well be the end of her life, and there was only one way to find out.

The woman took a deep breath before looking into the rear mirror of her car one last time. The nose piercing that had once belonged to her past was back in place. Her red hair fell down her shoulders and over the black leather jacket. It was a look that had made her feel confident in the past, and she hoped some of that confidence was still there.

Without looking back Charlotte stepped out of her car and opened the back door. The instrument bag was still in exactly the same spot as Marco had put it, and she barely dared touching it. He would probably kill her if something happened to his beloved guitar, but she had no choice. This instrument was her ticket into the building.

The bag felt heavier in her hands than she’d thought. Adjusting her grip a few times, she walked towards the building and tried ignoring the racing of her heart. With every step she took, she walked away from what she knew and into a place filled with darkness and secrets. She felt nervous, almost naked and vulnerable, when she stood in front of the building. She probably was crazy, but Charlotte believed in this. She’d worked too hard for this to walk away now.

With her heart still racing in her chest, Charlotte let her eyes travel over the names that were taped next to the doorbells. She recognized them all, and she knew more about these people than she wished for. And yet, there was only one name that mattered. An innocent name of a just as innocent person, who had no idea that their life would be turned upside down soon. And they would bring Charlotte closer to what she truly wanted.

The metal of the doorbell felt cold underneath Charlotte’s finger when she rang it. No sound followed. Maybe this was the universe giving her a way out, one last chance to change her mind and turn her back. What she was about to do was insane after all, she was very aware of that. But Charlotte stayed.

Footsteps sounded a minute after she’d rang the bell and Charlotte was barely aware of how she straightened her back. This was it. This was the point of no return.

The door opened, and so did a whole new world of secrets and lies.

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“Die, sucker!”

It was by far not the first curse that sounded through the apartment that afternoon, and neither would it be the last. The speakers in the corner were blasting music that balanced on the edge of rock and metal. The television screamed as the people on the screen were mercilessly killed, but Merel's voice still managed to overpower it all.

The girl herself might be young and small, but her passion for videogames was anything but. And her passion for music was even bigger, or at least, it once had been. Ever since she’d moved into the apartment, the games had been more effective in taking away her rage. Her guitar stood in the corner of her bedroom, collecting dust and only touched a few times a week.

The videogames gave more satisfaction. She could kill people without consequences, shout from the top of her lungs without regretting it, and punch the buttons until blisters formed on her hands. She could release her anger and frustration without hurting anyone, and that was exactly what Merel needed. It had been going on for a few months now, and no one knew how much longer it would last.

“And a good afternoon to you as well.”

There was no need for Merel to look up when the voice sounded. Only one other person had a key to the apartment, and the scent of smoke betrayed that it was indeed Floor that was walking past her.

Merel didn’t answer, she never did and there was no need to. Floor and her were roommates, and that was it. They weren’t even friends and both of them seemed fine with that. The talking was kept to a minimum, no small talk at all, and they didn’t care about each other’s private life. Those had been a few of Floor’s strange conditions when Merel answered to the even stranger advertisement, and it had been exactly what Merel had been looking for. A roommate that would leave her alone and accepted her cat, that was all Merel wanted. And Floor turned out to be just that.

“I’ll be in the shower, you take care of the messages.”

“Yeah.” Merel answered, still not looking up from the screen.

Taking care of the messages, as Floor called them, had been another one of the conditions. It wasn’t much. Just opening the door when the bell rang and handing over the prepared packages. And most of all, never talking about it. Merel didn’t know what was in the packages. She had her theories, but none of them had ever been confirmed. Whatever business Floor was running, she wanted to know as little as possible about it.

A sudden disturbance in her view pulled Merel from her thoughts. She could no longer see the screen  where her enemies were out to kill her, all she saw was a ball of orange fur sitting in front of the tv. He was cute, and Merel loved her cat more than any other soul in the world, but she loved winning her game even more.

“Vincent!”

The cat didn’t care. He just moved his tail while staring at his owner, patiently waiting for the attention he deserved. Merel sighed. She couldn’t deny Vincent anything, and she knew the only way to make him move was to pet him. Carefully she tossed her remote on the couch and stood to pick up her cat, who started purring right away.

“You are a selfish pain in the ass.” Merel mumbled while rolling her eyes.

Vincent didn’t care. He just snuggled up in his owner's arms, and in the end Merel gave in as well. He was so much more than a cat. He had been by her side when no one else was, and she knew he always would be. She’d had Vincent since he was a selfish kitten, and she would take care of him until he was a selfish old cat. Merel would do anything for him, even sharing an apartment with someone who was most likely a criminal.