tagRomanceDynamics of a Human Heart Ch. 05

Dynamics of a Human Heart Ch. 05


I'm not a stranger
No I am yours
With crippled anger
And tears that still drip sore

A fragile frame aged
With misery
And when our eyes meet
I know you see

I do not want to be afraid
I do not want to die inside just to breathe in
I'm tired of feeling so numb
Relief exists I find it when
I am cut

-Plumb "Cut"

"Which door is yours?" Miranda asked.

Grey pointed down the hallway, "Last on the left."

Miranda peered down the corridor; it was made up of blue and white speckled tile; clean but clearly damaged. Above, a florescent light flickered and buzzed like a hornet's nest; causing shadows to leap and cavort along the walls and ceiling.

Miranda shuddered, "I don't like your building; creepy," she gestured at the light, "If a dead, little, Japanese girl appears at any point; you're on your own."

"Noted," Grey replied, coughing wetly, spitting out another mouthful of blood.

Miranda frowned in concern and touched his chest gently, "Almost there."

Grey just nodded, exhausted. As they were leaving, Miranda gestured backwards.

"Are you going to get into trouble with the super?" gesturing at the blood on the floor.

"He and I have a working arrangement."

"Okay, that tells me nothing, but I'll assume that means 'no'."

They reached the end of the hall, Miranda sighed in relief; Grey was starting to get heavy.

"Just consider it payback for me having to cart your bird all up and down Pasadena," he chimed in quietly, as if reading her thoughts.

"Will you stop doing that?" Miranda huffed.

"Well, be less predictable."

Miranda stuck her hand out, "Keys?"

"It's open."

She frowned, "You leave your door unlocked?"

"I have good neighbors."

"Huh," she shrugged, "okay." She gripped the doorknob, turned it and opened the door.

Chilled air enveloped her.

"What the--?" she peered into the apartment; the interior was pitch black; dead and cavernous.

"Home sweet home," Grey muttered, "Enter freely and leave some of the happiness you bring with you."

Tentatively, Miranda stepped into the door room, Grey trailing behind.

"Um...," she fumbled around the wall, "Light switch?"

"There's a torch on the wall," Grey gestured.

"A 'torch'?" Miranda muttered, "God I hope that's more charming Cockney vernacular." Her hands closed upon a cold metal cylinder. Everything in this apartment was cold.

She heard the door close and she was suddenly plunged into total darkness.

"Umm...Grey?" she called out, a lot meeker than she would have liked. The thought of being completely alone in this dark, cold, place frightened her.

"Turn on the torch, girl."

She fumbled for a moment before finding the switch, the button clicked and an explosion of florescent light blinded her.

"Ow!" Miranda rubbed at her eyes.

"Right, sorry, forgot to warn you: it's a mite bright."

"Great," Miranda replied. Blinking back tears, she cast the beam of light about and frowned at what she saw.

They were in a concrete hallway. No carpet on the floor, no pictures on the wall: just cold stone.

"What is this place?" Miranda asked.

"Home," Grey replied as he began making his way down the corridor, bracing his hand against the wall, "or what passes for it for the last few years."

Miranda looked aghast, "Years? You've spent years here?"

"Many." The corridor opened up into a large, square shaped room, four walls, cookie-cutter perfect and cast in cement.

"Huh," Miranda commented, refused to be surprised any longer, "Okay, where's the bedroom?"

"You're standing in it."

"This?!" Miranda cast a light around, no carpet, no adornments and no furniture, "Where's the bed?"

Grey gestured and Miranda pointed the light: a cot; made of stainless steel and green material was pushed up into the far corner of the room. There was a green blanket folded neatly upon it. In front of the bed was a single, green-and-black footlocker.


Grey sagged onto the cot, leaning his back against the cold wall.

"Aye love, this," he gestured towards the floor, "There's a lantern there."

Numbly, Miranda reached down and flipped a switch; the room was bathed in ghostly white light. Miranda examined her surroundings: they were appalling; completely devoid of warmth or humanity.

"What in God's name?" she whispered.

Grey began to laugh; a bitter, coughing laugh; full of blood and spite.

"God? God doesn't visit this little corner of the world," Grey leaned forward and whispered, as if telling a great secret, "too many of his failures and fuck-ups than he can stand to see all at once."

Miranda suppressed a shudder, whether it was because of the cold of the room or the chill in Grey's voice, she couldn't be sure.

"What can I do to help you?" she whispered.

"I'm beyond help," Grey replied, "But you can help me get my arm back into socket."

Miranda swallowed and nodded, gently taking his left arm, "Like this?" she asked.

"Yes, but first," Grey began to reach for his belt clasp.

Miranda frowned at him, a thousand different feelings racing through her body and taking the chill from her blood, "What are you doing?"

"This is going to hurt and I prefer not to shatter any more of my teeth," he struggled.

"Here, let me—"

His hand shot out and grabbed her wrist tightly, she gasped in pain and he lessened the pressure immediately, but still held her fast.

"No. That's just...no."

Miranda nodded, "Okay Grey, I get it," she let her arm go limp and Grey released her.

"Thank you," he said quietly. A few more minutes of effort and Grey pulled the belt free: it was in pretty bad shape; caked in grime and blood.

"This will be fun," he muttered as he tried to scrape some off, "You ever do this before?"

"I'm a physicist," she replied, "Do you really think I have done this before?"

"Well, first time for everything," Grey finished with the belt, "Okay, what I need you to do is to lift the arm ninety degrees up and out in front of me.

"Okay," Miranda said quietly. As if she were handling a baby bird, Miranda lifted Grey's arm. She saw him wince.

"Sorry!" she hissed in concern, "Does it hurt?"

"Not as much as what happens next."

Miranda finished getting Grey's arm into position, "Okay, now what?"

Grey exhaled hard, "Okay, I need you to grip the arm with both hands: one above the elbow, one below."

"Okay..." Miranda did so, looking dubious.

"Now, pull, not tug, pull on the arm, straight out in front, you'll feel it when it's back in place."

"Okay," she said, looking sympathetic as Grey put the belt in his mouth, "Sorry about this."

For a moment, she thought she saw him smile. Then he nodded. Miranda began to pull gently, trying not to make it too painful. Grey made a forceful gesture, indicating that she was to pull harder. Gritting her teeth, Miranda pulled with all her might. She could feel things shifting under his skin and Grey began to groan around the belt. The expression on his face was torturous; both in and of itself and for Miranda to witness.

Then there was a semi-audible pop, more felt than heard. Miranda let go and nearly fell over as Grey lurched forward gasping, spitting the belt out with tears in his eyes,

"Bloody fucking hell!!" He coughed again and exhaled, "Shite, but that'll wake you up on the morn."

"I think I'll stick to coffee for my morning 'pick me up'," muttered Miranda as she regained her balance, "How does that feel?"

Grey rubbed at his shoulder as he worked the kinks out of his arm, "Sore as hell, but at least the sodding thing works again," he looked at her for a moment and then added quietly, "thank you, girl."

Miranda blushed and coughed self-consciously, "No problem. So what now?"

"Now," Grey began as he opened the footlocker and began rooting around, "I take care of something I've needed—a-ha!" he said triumphantly, pulling out a pack of cigarettes and matches.

"You cannot be serious," Miranda gaped.

"Damn straight I am, I haven't had a fag since those bastards worked me over," he lit up and took a long drag.

"But you could--," Miranda began, then stopped and glared at him, "I really wish you wouldn't call them that."

Grey smiled around his cigarette and coughed.

"There!" Miranda pointed out, "you're coughing up blood; you should not be smoking."

"Tell you what then, dear, I'll make a deal with you: I'll smoke, and if my lungs collapse and I die, I'll admit that you were right."

Miranda opened her mouth to speak then her phone chimed.

"Sam's here," Miranda told him, "Don't go anywhere."

Grey smirked and took a long drag off his cigarette, blowing smoke rings into the air contentedly.

"No worries."

"Nice neighborhood," Sam commented dryly, as Miranda helped her out of the car, "I had to pay the guy an extra fifty to come down here." Sam took in Miranda's disheveled state, "You look like hell, Miri."

Miranda bent over her lover and gathered her up in her arms, squeezing her tightly. Sam was taken back momentarily by the desperate intensity of the act.

"That bad?" Sam whispered.

"Worse," Miranda replied.

Sam took Miranda's face in her hands and kissed her mouth gently, willing her love to banish away whatever sorrow had taken root in the other girl's heart. After a few moments, she felt Miranda relax; her muscles unclenched and she sagged against Sam.

"I hurt," Miranda said simply. No longer running on anger, adrenaline, and fear, the intensity of the evening's events had taken their toll, leaving the poor girl exhausted.

Sam pulled the girl up into her lap; Miranda curled into a ball as Sam held her tightly and rocked her back and forth.

"It'll be all right, baby," the fair-haired girl reassured her, "You'll see."

"You didn't see what they did to him," she whispered.

"On a scale of one to ten, one being a bitch slap fest and ten being 'The Killing Type', how serious are we talking here?


Sam's mouth sagged open, "Fuck me."

"Yeah," Reluctantly Miranda slid off Sam's lap and got to her feet.

Sam began to wheel towards the front door of the building, "All right, well, let's see what we can do."

Miranda nodded, taking her lover's hand in hers and kissing it. Sam cupped her cheek and caressed her with her thumb.

"It'll be okay, Miri"

Miranda nodded and walked in step with Sam,

"By the way, I should warn you; the place is a little sparse."

"Tell me he doesn't have severed heads in the fridge or curtains made up of used razor blades."

"You'll have to see for yourself."

"This is 'a little sparse'?" Sam asked incredulously, "I've seen Tibetan monasteries that had more luxuries going on than this place," she finished as Miranda wheeled her into the bedroom.

Grey was lying on the cot, curled into the fetal position with his face to the wall.

"You're going to want to brace yourself, lover," Miranda told her as she walked towards Grey's form, "it's pretty terrible."

Samantha waved it away, "I've seen worse."

Miranda leaned over Grey's form, "Hey," she whispered to him, "You need to wake up now."

Grey made a grunting sound that rang of pain and fatigue. Miranda seemed to have no trouble understanding him, "I know, but please, Sam is here and we need to get you patched up."

Tentatively, she put her hand on Grey's shoulder.

"Wow," Sam commented, "Physical contact, he must be hurting," she began to rummage through a small satchel she had brought with her.

Miranda looked back at her, "He is. A lot."

Sam swallowed, at the intensity of Miranda's words, this was serious.

Miranda felt Grey's muscles tense at her touch before going slack. Gently, she turned him over onto his back.

Sam dropped the satchel on the floor and gaped at him: the bruising on his face, his swollen eyes and split lips and his pulverized nose. Blood seemed to be leaking steadily from his nose and mouth and leaving a dark stain on his clothes.

"Okay, I was wrong," Sam amended numbly, "I've never seen anything like this shit," she wheeled herself towards the man on the cot.

"Hey douche," she whispered.

"Hey cripple," he rasped, coughing up blood.

"Miri, get him sitting up, I don't want him choking on this shit."

Miranda nodded and gently touched Grey, helping brace his back against the cement wall.

"Those motherfuckers," Sam whispered, "Miri? Can you give me one of the first aid kits?"

Miranda nodded and did so, Sam took out some disinfectant wipes and began to gently dab at Grey's face.

"Fuck, what a mess," Sam commented after a few minutes as she finished cleaning his face. It had taken all of the wipes from both of the kits, but it was done.

Miranda had thought that with his face cleaned of blood and grime Grey would look better; instead, he looked ghostly pale, even taking into account the florescent light. Sheen of sweat covered his face, his lips were trembling slightly and his eyelids fluttered as if he was having trouble keeping them open.

"Shit," Sam muttered, pulling back his eyes and shining a light into them.


"You notice how it's really cold in here?" Sam asked.

"Sure. No carpeting to insulate, no windows to let in warm air."

"Right, now do you see how he's sweating profusely?"

"Uh-oh," Miranda understood.

"Bingo, he's burning up," Sam put her hands on Grey's brow and cheek. Grey weakly tried to bat her hand away, but Sam casually knocked it away.

"Cut it out," she muttered to him, "Christ, you could fry an egg on his head."

"I'll have some bacon and black pudding with my eggs please," Grey mumbled nonsensically.

"Is it from an infection?" Miranda asked.

Sam nodded, "Yeah, I'd be willing to bet those shitheads left him with a few open wounds. You say you found him in an alley?"


Sam sighed, "No telling how long he'd been there, but a dirty alley and exposed injuries makes for a bad combination."

"But it's too soon for an infection to have set in already."

Sam turned to scowl at her, "Well then, why don't you come over here and yell in his ear real loud so that whatever is slowly killing him understands it's just one big misunderstanding?

Strong hands gripped Sam's face, wrenched it around to see Grey's emerald glare.

"Play...nice," he whispered before slumping forward. Sam caught him,

"Shit," Sam muttered as she pushed him back into a sitting position, "Sorry Miri."

Miranda nodded, "It's okay, I'm just scared

Sam gave a bitter laugh, "Yeah, me too sweetie," she turned to face Grey, "Who'd have thought?"

She took a deep breath, "Normally, infection sets in within a 48 hour period, usually after a day or so. That's for a healthy person in their prime," she gestured at the prone man, "This guy has got to be pushing fifty, looks like he hasn't eaten in a year or slept in a week. That'll compromise your immune system in short order. So I'd say a combination of that and just rotten luck is why he looks like he's caught a slight case of death."

"Is he going to be okay?" Miranda asked again, wringing her hands.

Sam shook her head, "No idea, those sons-of-bitches did a lot of damage," she felt around to the back of Grey's head and grimaced, "Shit, his scalp's been split and he's leaking like a sieve," she sighed, "Well, that's some good news at least."

"How is that good news?" Miranda asked unbelievingly.

"Because this much blood would be really bad from any other part of the body, but for a scalp wound, its par for the course; the face and head bleeds like a motherfucker, so the surface wounds are probably not that bad."

"What about wounds that aren't on the surface?"

"That brings us to the bad news" Sam sighed, "If he doesn't have a concussion, I'll eat that fucking footlocker, I found a whole mess of marks that could have only been made from people in boots kicking him in the head. A lot."

"Which means?"

Sam sighed and gently ran her hands down Grey's sides. Almost instantly, he began to groan in pain and tried to pull away.

"Yeah, thought so," Sam said grimly, "I swear to god, I'm going to find those cocksuckers, cut of their dicks and feed them to their fucking mothers while they watch."

"Nice touch," Grey coughed, splattering more blood on himself.

Sam smiled encouragingly, "Yeah, I thought you'd like that," she dabbed at his mouth, cleaning the blood from his lips.

"Jesus Sammy," Miranda whispered, "That's pretty graphic."

Sam turned to face her, "Miri, take a few steps back and look at him; just look at him for a few moments."

Miranda frowned but did so: Grey looked like he was in agony, his skin was fish-belly white and those cheekbones she'd found so attractive were almost completely covered by bruises. His hair was matted to his head, his nose was badly misshapen.

Nevertheless, it was his eyes that pierced Miranda's body; they were filled with a combination of great strength and terrible injury, it made her think of an old lion that had sensed its end was arriving.

Miranda wanted to touch his face, his chest, to gather him up in her arms and tell him that it wasn't so, that everything would be okay and that she would do everything in her power to make this right.

"Right," Sam cut in on her reverie, "the fact that you're making googly eyes tells me you've taken it all in."

Miranda nodded, self-consciously, where was Sam going with this? "Yes."

"Good, now consider this," Sam gestured at Grey, "This was DONE to him by people. He was tortured, deliberately and methodically tortured for what had to be at least hours."

Miranda began to feel something in her rise up within her gorge, bitter and painful.

"Okay," she whispered.

"And it's our fault," Sam finished, "This was done to him, deliberately, because he stepped in and saved us, a pair of complete strangers," she brushed a lock of hair from Grey's face, "and because of that, there is a very real possibility that he's going to die tonight."

Miranda's hands tightened into fists, her skin went red and her knuckles turned white as she positively shook with rage and fear.

"When it comes time to start cutting off cocks and cooking them," Miranda said quietly,


"Fillet or sashimi style?"

Sam smiled grimly, "That's my girl," she turned her attention back to Grey, "how did we wind up caring about this asshole?"

"Karma?" Miranda put forth.

"Good or bad?"

"I think, both?"

"You're wrong you know," Grey whispered.

The girls turned to face him, he barely looked conscious, let alone coherent, but he was speaking, if somewhat slurred.

"This is not your fault." he explained, "You made a choice, and it turned completely bone on you. That's your fault," he coughed, "Your choice, your responsibility. But me? No one forced me to get involved, but I did. That's on me. My choices, my responsibility," a sudden coughing fit interrupted him and Sam leaned in to dab away at the blood, he didn't even appear to notice, "So, if I snuff it tonight, you two are absolved," he weakly made a gesture of blessing towards the girls before his hand and head fell backwards against the wall as he passed out.

Sam reached out with a hand and pulled him forward enough that she was able to slip the green blanket from the cot behind his head to serve as a pillow.

"You're not dying on my watch, you crazy fucker."

For a second, she thought she saw him smile, just a tiny smirk; as if everything in the world was a private joke for his amusement. The smile faded and his body went limp.

Sam sighed and wheeled towards Miranda.

"Okay, one of two things are going to happen tonight: Best case scenario: his ribs are all where they need to be, the fever will break, the swelling in his head from the concussion will go down, and all that shit he's been coughing up is blood from his nose that's dripping down his throat and into his stomach causing him to be sick."

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