As Your Solitude Subsides.

When Miranda wakes up, she's expecting to find out that it's still October 9th and Allen, Rinali and her Innocence were all part of some dream. She waits, breathless and dreading, for the world to be the same.

Then she notices the scars over the back of one of her hands. The way that exorcist had healed her had been amazing, but even he was unable to stop her hands from scarring. Miranda remembers telling him that it's okay because she doesn't have pretty hands anyway. Even those scars, once they stop being so new, won't look out of place with all the previous ones. Scars are something familiar to Miranda. They constantly tell her how she has failed.

Her clock – her innocence, she remembers – goes on with its tic-tac on the background. Feeling her heart squeezing painfully, Miranda stands up, her nightgown tangled with the sheets, leaving her legs bare. The sun is coming through the window of her room and she remembers that it's the first night she spends it at her place after that little girl came. She had been in the hospital too, because several bones on her hands had been broken and because she wanted to know how Allen and Rinali were doing.

But today is a different day, one she doesn't know how it will end. Even so, it's already as different as possible of twenty five years of bad days. Just that thought makes her feel shaky and oh so very glad that she's not standing. She's sure she'd fall down if she was doing so.

Today she has a job. Today she'll go to learn what she has to do to help others. Today she is needed.

When she thinks about that, her face feels strange. There's the telltale sting of tears that's familiar enough that she can ignore it, but it's something different than sorrow what seems to be making her throat tight, something different that burns inside her and makes her skin tingle. Miranda moves a not-pretty hand to touch her face, and it's only when she feels how her lips curve that she finds out why it feels so unfamiliar.

She's smiling for the first time in a long, long time.