tagRomanceDynamics of a Human Heart Ch. 07

Dynamics of a Human Heart Ch. 07


"So I'll find what lies beneath
Your sick twisted smile
As I lie underneath
Your cold jaded eyes
Now you turn the tide on me
'Cause you're so unkind
I will always be here
For the rest of my life"

-Breaking Benjamin "What Lies Beneath"

She lasted two and a half hours before things started falling apart.

Her walk with Sam had been a welcome diversion; the sun was shining and though there was a cool crispness to the air that was very much unlike Pasadena, it was still a beautiful day.

They cut through a path flanked by trees that served as something of a campus park. It had always been a favorite place for them both: 'A place to appreciate beauty that doesn't come with numbers attached,' Sam had once called it. The leaves now however, had begun to turn; many clung to their branches with the desperation that can only be found by one facing the inevitable.

On cue, one leaf proudly clad in scarlet and gold succumbed to gravity and flitted down to join his fallen brothers upon the ground.

Miranda watched it fall and began to feel something in her chest tighten. She swallowed and went back to pretending to listen to what Sam was talking about.

"So, are you done pretending to listen to what I'm talking about?"

Miranda jerked to a stop, causing Sam to do likewise as she flashed the other girl a grin,


Miranda ran her fingers through her dark hair, "I'm sorry, Sammy, I was distracted," she gestured, "I never realized how pretty the trees are here in the fall."

"Uh-huh, and does the sight of trees usually have you on the verge of tears?"

"I'm not—"

"You are, so don't try denying it, you're a rotten liar, sweetie," Sam reached over and took her hand, placing a kiss on it, "And I love you."

Miranda's expression softened as her lover helped ease the pain in her chest, "I love you too."

At which point Sam lashed out with her hand and slapped Miranda's ass so hard it echoed like a gunshot across the quad.

"Kono ama!" she shrieked. You bitch.

"Don't call me a 'bitch' and don't call me 'Sammy'."

"Sorry," Miranda muttered, rubbing her backside.

"Uh huh," Sam smirked and they continued their walk.

They reached a point where their paths diverged: Miranda to the physics lecture hall, Sam to the mathematics department. They cooed and kissed; there had been a time that Miranda was mortified to show affection publically, not because she was ashamed of her sexuality or of Sam, but because it just "wasn't done in polite society" as her mother had taught her. Sam managed to break her of that particular hang-up in less than a month.

"Take care of yourself, Miri," Sam whispered into her ear as the other girl bent over and hugged her tightly, "Pull your twisted self together and go be brilliant."

"You first," a final kiss on the cheek and both girls headed in opposite directions.

It was strange, Miranda mused, they'd been together for years, yet for some reason, there were times—such as now—that the simple act of the two of them parting to go to work was hard on her, sometimes hard on them both.

All this time together, she thought, and saying 'goodbye' is still hard, she shook her head ruefully; I must be losing my mind.

Wrapping her arms around herself, she rubbed her hands up and down to generate some measure of warmth as she dashed to her class.

The classroom where she and Luke taught was big for its title; closer to a lecture hall as far as capacity went. The pitched floor went up quite a ways and was usually packed to the rafters, even if Luke was letting Miranda do most of the teaching.

Especially if it was just Miranda.

Miranda made it a habit to be clueless on how attractive she was and frequently clad herself in outfits that could be 'conservative' by the gracious and down-right 'frumpy' by the bold. It was no use; any member of the class that craved female attention hungered for her. In this particular instance, that was all the men and at least half of the women in attendance.

Miranda cleared her throat and cycled through the four clear boards mounted upon the front wall. They were a pain to set up; which is why they hadn't bothered with it when she and Sam had visited Luke earlier; but for the daily curriculum; one required a great deal more working space.

Miranda cleared her throat again and coughed once, absently rubbing at her chest as it began to ache suddenly.

"So, according to Meitner, and when we are working with subatomic particles; it is understood that they can be sub-divided into distinct groups: Quarks, Leptons, Gauge bosons, and...?"

She turned to face the crowd, "Come on, this is an easy one."

A young man named Brian raised his hand tentatively,


"Um, Higgs-Boson, Doctor Inoue?"

Miranda smiled slightly; she never quite understood why she made her students nervous, it was probably due to her youth and accomplishments.

"Are you asking me if that is the answer or are you telling me?"

"I'm telling you?"

There was a slight ripple of laughter from the assembled students and Brian turned beet red.

"Settle down you intellectual pygmies," Luke roared good-naturedly, "Before I call up everybody's parents and tell them how you're wasting their hard-earned money."

The class laughed out loud at that: everyone in this class was either on a scholarship, grants or had some other means of paying tuition that did not involves their parents.

The interruption had the desired effect though; Brian composed himself and answered more firmly.

"It's the Higgs Boson, Doctor."

Miranda nodded her approval, "Well done, Brian."

"Does that mean the teacher's pet gets himself a bone?" a girl in the back called out.

There was a collective "ooooooh," from the audience.

Luke just shook his head; his classes were always studies in barely contained anarchy, but when you were dealing with minds like this, the standard forms of teaching just didn't apply. That's not to say he didn't know how to keep his students in line; it just meant he knew when to spare the rod and when to crack the whip. In his class, you were going to learn physics whether you liked it or not.

Luke decided this moment was of the later, "The next one of you harpies that talks out of turn is being marched right over to the labs and having their DNA re-sequenced into some form of life that is worthy of wasting our time. They can also count on a great deal of additional coursework that will last them until Christmas!"

There was another laugh; subdued though and quickly ended, the point had been made.

"Good," Luke turned his attention to Miranda, "Please continue."

Miranda sighed quietly, slid a new board into place and began to draw out an equation.

"Okay then, back to basics," she began, "Who can tell me what this is?"

Every hand in the classroom went up as Miranda nodded her approval, "Good. Brian?"

Brian swallowed audibly; he looked like he felt the gaze of every set of eyes in the room on his back and it was making him miserable.

"That's Schrodinger's Equation," he said, looking somewhat confused, "But...?"

"But why are we talking about quantum mechanics when we were just discussing particle physics?" Miranda began to lecture, "Good question. Essentially, physics is like a tree; several branches sharing one base--," she drew an illustration with the marker, "--like this," she turned back to address the class, "Any questions?"

"Ummm...," Brian cleared his throat and Miranda winced inwardly at the man's awkwardness, "Actually, there's something wrong."


"The equation, doctor, it's wrong," Brian nearly choked at the amount of tension he was experiencing; a tension that was spreading to the other students who were beginning to edge closer to the unfolding drama with frowns and looks of disbelief.

"Where 'I' is the imaginary unit and 'h' is a representative of Planck's constant is supposed to go, you—you have 'a', whi--which usually is a partial derivative which is supposed to go at, you know, at the end of the equation, Doctor...professor...ma'am."

The room was as still as a crypt: Doctor Miranda Inoue did not make mistakes of this nature. Ever.

She closed her eyes and turned around to see it for herself and there it was; an equation whose commonality was only surpassed by its ease of interpretation and use, and she had gotten it wrong.

Sound faded out and every sense felt deadened; she dropped the marker where it landed with a dull thud and looked down at her hands; they seemed so small and frail and they were trembling. She closed them into fists; nearly crying aloud as arthritic pain shot through her nerves and she closed her eyes and rested her head against the cool plastic of the board.

"Miranda," Luke asked gently, coming to her side, "Are you all right? Do you need to rest?"

At his words, a total wave of fatigue and weakness crashed into her and she nearly collapsed; steadying herself on the board with Luke and half of the class practically dashing to come to her rescue.

The last time she had felt like this was the day before she met Grey and every day prior. It suddenly seemed to her that the Miranda over the last few days; the woman that had saved a man's life and then stood up to him time and time again, had been replaced. The woman that walked on broken glass to prove a point and had physically attacked the man when he'd crossed the line, was no longer her. The woman who had had the strength to tell him to leave because it would be the only way her and Sam would ever be free or happy, had died - or no longer existed. That woman was gone; like an aborted dream and she was back in the 'real world' where she was fragile and pathetic

She felt her thin shoulders slump as the fog of exhaustion and the sensation of being utterly spent, filled her veins like poison and settled upon her body like shackles.

"I think I'd like to sit down please," Miranda whispered.

"Of course," Luke replied, as he pulled out a chair upon which Miranda collapsed into. He took a quick assessment of the class.

"Well, there you go; proof that even the mightiest of intellects is still susceptible to being poisoned by the swill they serve down at the kitchen like the rest of us mere mortals."

Light laughter dispelled the tension: food poisoning and nothing more; their idol hadn't fallen after all. Brian especially looked relieved.

Miranda caught Luke's eye and mouthed, "thank you."

He nodded, "All right then you apes; let's get back on track and we can discuss later why our favorite Asian genius felt the need to consume day-old sushi."

The girl closed her eyes and felt something bitter rise in her gut: there was a time being teased, in front of her students and colleagues would have been a disaster.

Now, it barely registered.

Lunchtime arrived and found Miranda sitting by herself, absently poking at a plate of food with a fork. With her free hand, she lightly fingered the cuff of the white, oversized hoodie Sam had gotten her for her birthday. It practically swallowed up the young girl in its folds, but it was comforting in those painful moments when she was in despair.

Like now.

She swallowed and gently touched her chest; her expression twisting into a grimace of pain.

Why can't I stop feeling like this?

"'The drink would not satisfy, food turned to ash in our mouths, nor all the company in the world would harm or slake our lust. We are cursed men, Miss Turner. Compelled by greed, we were. But now, we are consumed by it!'"

A ghostly smile flickered across Miranda's face as Sam came wheeling up from behind.

"Do I truly look that miserable?"

"And a half," the blonde girl replied, "I heard you crashed and burned in class, with Schrödinger of all things."

"Word travels fast," the other girl muttered, humiliated.

"Facebook, even more so."

Miranda groaned in dismay and sunk her head into her hands as Sam took the girl's hood in her hand.

"Whenever the hood is up on this thing and it's indoors, I know that all is not well in 'Miri-land'."

"It's really not," the other girl replied as she pushed back her hood.

Sam managed to suppress a gasp of dismay and only squeezed the armrests of her wheelchair at the sight of Miranda:

The color was gone from her face; her lips, cheeks, even her beautiful violet eyes seemed dulled and unfocused.

"I'm tired, Sammy. I think I want to go home and just go to bed."

Sam's sapphire eyes went wide, "Baby, the last few days are the healthiest I've ever seen you, I thought maybe you were, you know, over it?"

A slight curl of the lip, "No more so than you're able to 'get over' being stuck in that chair," she replied affectionately.

Wordlessly, Sam wheeled up next to her, lifting the rail on her chair, she wrapped an arm around her lover and pulled her to herself; resting her Miranda's head against her shoulder; her blonde hair entwining with the other girl's dark locks.

"It's going to be okay, Miri."

"I hurt, Sammy," she sniffled.

"I know baby," she placed a kiss on her brow, "Me too."

"Do you hate me?"

"I could never hate you," Sam smiled, "Who else am I going to find to perform cunnilingus at dawn regularly?"

Miranda laughed then, a short burst of humor and love, "That's going to become a daily tradition, is it?"

"After the other day? Hell yes! My favorite memory from this week so far."

"That's not difficult, given the kind of week we've had."

"Touché," Sam disentangled herself from her lover and gave Miranda one last peck on the cheek before settling back into her chair, "Come on, we'll go home, watch some bad anime, drink wine and pass out. It'll be fun!"

Miranda's expression turned wry at that.

"I'm sure you thin--."

"So then, the limey tells Marcus here that he feels 'Good enough to fuck your mother!' and then Marcus just starts stomping his ass."


The girl's looked at each other with an identical looks horror.

"Ohshitohshitohshit," Sam was beginning hyperventilate.

"Quick, hide!"

"I'm in a wheelchair, where am I going to hide?"

"Try to look inconspicuous then!"

"Still in a wheelchair here!"

The girls settled for backing as far away from the group as possible. There were six of them; as thickly built and full of hateful glee as they were at the party.

"I just liked it when Jeff over here tried to snap the fucker's stick and cracked his kneecap."

There was laughter except for one particularly loud voice,

"Fuck you!"

Jeff or 'Billy' as the girls had come to known him came stomping into clearer view, there was a brace on one of his knees and he has pants were ludicrously baggy to conceal an abnormally large bulge.

"Yeah, how's that diaper treating you, man? They manage to save both your balls?"

The group cackled as Miranda and Sam exchanged glances.

'Grey,' she mouthed silently.

'No shit,' the other girl replied.

"Yeah well, at least I got myself a trophy," Jeff replied as he slammed down Grey's walking stick onto the table, "Still bits of blood and I think I got a tooth as well."

A vicious chorus, from the men assembled at the table, rose at that comment.

Miranda focused on the stick: it was, indeed, his stick. His stick. The stick he used to protect her and Sam from their own foolishness. Now the stick that had been turned against him at the hands of jackals to exact their hollow revenge and assuage their wounded pride; they had no right to it, they had no right to anything from him!

"Fuck me," Samantha whispered echoing the other girl's thoughts, "they took the hickory stick to him. No wonder his rib cage was felt like broken glass."

Miranda shook her head trying to clear it; a tremendous roaring sound was in her ears and she felt like her chest was going to explode as a sensation of tremendous pressure inside her threatening to detonate her heart and blast it from her body.

So this is what 'hate' feels like.

When Sam got a look at her lover's face she nearly had a heart attack: Never in her life had she seen Miri ever like this: her face was twisted horrifically into a visage of pure, murderous rage.

"So, I'm going to find him; bust a cap in his ass," Jeff continued, miming a gun with his thumb and forefinger, "Then find me that tasty gook pussy and her cripple fuck toy, bang them both to death in the handicapped parking lot and then dump them off into a river or something."

Sam heard Miranda make a...sound; something that she had never heard from a human being; it was primal, but between it and the look in Miranda's eyes; violet and enraged, it all pointed to trouble.

The blonde girl opened her mouth to say 'Miri, don't do anything stupid, please.'

She made as far as, "M—".

With a shriek like a banshee freshly ripped from the pits of Hell, Miranda snatched up her tray and proceeded to swing for the fences upside the back of Jeff's head. The plastic tray broke with a cracking sound that tore through the air as loud as a gunshot. Jeff's head slammed into the table with such force that it recoiled and he nearly tumbled backwards out of his chair.

"Holy shit!" Sam cried out as she wheeled as fast as she could towards the ensuing carnage.

Dazed, Jeff swung a fist reflexively aiming somewhere behind himself to keep his attacker at bay.

Aikido training in full effect and Miranda gripped his wrist in her slender hand and applied as much torque as she could as she yanked the limb causing it to hyperextend and lock into place.

The young man cried out in pain as she continued to pull and twist his arm, her other hand grabbed the back of his head.

"That's for Grey!" she screamed as she levered his head into the table.

"That's for Sam!" a second blow and Miranda heard his nose break.

She released the hold she had on his hair and looked at him for a moment, considering.

Screw it!

Applying every ounce of her strength and weight, she twisted the arm almost completely around, jerked the arm up and backwards for leverage and slammed her elbow into his shoulder with all of her hatred. Jeff screamed as Miranda felt the joint dislocate.

"And that's for me, you son-of-a-bitch!"

The other people sitting at the table were taken completely by surprise, but one of them; the one called 'Marcus' stormed over to Miranda.

Sam intercepted him as Miranda finished with Jeff.

"Get your crippled ass out of my way, bitch," he growled.

Sam looked up at the sky, as if contemplating.

"Let me think," She brought her eyes back down to meet his, "No." Then she frowned; there was a very familiar looking locket dangling from his neck.

"Nice locket," she hissed, "Friend of mine used to have one just like it."

Marcus's attention wavered for a moment as he looked down.

Sam lifted herself up off her wheel chair and slammed her foot into his throat with all the power that rage and rigorous physical therapy could muster.

Marcus reeled backwards even as Sam gritted her teeth in pain. Not willing to let him recover, she dropped herself back into her chair and slammed her fist hard into his guts. Marcus folded over until he was roughly eyelevel with Sam.

"This doesn't belong to you...," she snarled and tearing the necklace from his neck. She grabbed his head in her hands, "...'bitch'!"

Sam smashed her skull into Marcus's face.

The other man clutched the ruin of his broken face and collapsed.

"Fear me and my Krogan head-butt of death!" she cast a look back at Miranda, "I'm starting to see what Grey sees in this; it's kind of festive," she then winced, rubbing her brow, "Ow, and painful."

Miranda wasn't paying attention; instead, she had her eyes fixated on the other people sitting at the table before them.

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