Hello, again. My apologies for not updating in a while. Life has gotten so hectic lately, I'm trying my best just to keep up. But thanks to breaks (and snowdays) I finally have time to add on to this story. I'm really, really sorry if any characterization is hopelessly off. Please, polite mention it and I'll fix it! Hope you guys enjoy!

A few days later

Simon opened the infirmary door quietly, hoping not to wake up Muireann. The girl had been sleeping soundly for the first time in a couple days and, due to her condition, he wanted to keep her that way.Crossing over to the table quietly, he glanced over the notes he had wrote on her condition the night before. Glancing back over at her, he noted nothing had changed.

Letting out a deep sigh, Simon turned and leaned against the table to watch her. Asleep, there was nothing to distinguish her from River. They both slept in very much the same way, curled into a protective ball until, in River's case, the nightmares came. Even then, though, both seemed more at peace when they slept. It was when they were awake that it was a different story.

Even now, his head swam in various directions in regards to Muireann. On one hand, he wasn't...suprised at her existance. After seeing the damage done to his little sister, there was nothing he would think the Alliance wasn't capable of at some point. Yet, her existance felt, at times, like an abomination. Sometimes, especially in the moments he had seen Muireann leaning over the engine talking with Kaylee, he had almost thought it was River doing that. Almost. It was as if, to solidify what they had already done to his family, the Alliance had put in this girl to mock all the things River was before. All the things she would most likely never be again.

And yet, the side of his mind he deemed rational argued against the dark feelings. It proclaimed Muireann innocent of all. A victim just like River, trying her best to move on. Only by the grace of God had she somehow crossed paths with victims of similar history. Deep down, Simon felt a kinship to Muireann. Unable to accept her as true, full-blood sister, this was about as far as he could get, but it was enough. That was why, now when she was asleep, he kept a watch over her. Her face, thinner now then when they had first met her almost a month ago, had taken a sickly hue lately. Part of it was from the unhealed wound and the other from the toxins building in her system. Mal had yet to give her the supposed "cure", and while Simon understood why, he also was beginning to think Mal was crossing the line.

"You don't give orders," a voice said from the hallway, causing Simon to jump.

"River?" he called, recognizing the voice despite his pounding heart.

River peaked her head around the doorway.

"Came to see you," she said, almost shyly, "Check on the patient."

"Oh, okay," replied Simon, slightly bewildered but relieved she was at the very least making some sense today, "You can see her, just be quiet, alright?"

"She understands fully," said River, giving him a wry smile.

With the grace of a dancer, she leaped into the room and towards the bed. Pausing for only a moment, she tilted herself until she was staring at Muireann upside-down.

"Same face," she whispered, "But the girl is fairer."

She turned to look at Simon.

"The mirror's to cracked for recognition," she explained.

And suddenly, it clicked for Simon. In all her mentions of a mirror, River had been meaning herself. As the pieces fell into place, Simon felt an overwhelming guilt that he hadn't tried harder to understand.

"Now that's not true, River," he said, coming up and hugging her, "The girl's only an extension of the mirror. She can't be better then the original."

"Only different?" asked River, returning the hug.

"Only different."

River smiled bitterly. He's at least getting it in part, some of her thought as she let go.

Immediately, the comm system sounded and Mal's voice could be heard, "Doc, would you mind coming up to the bridge for a moment. We got somethin' that might interest you ta hear."

Simon shot a strange look in the direction of the bridge.

"I'll be right back, River," he said, walking past her. Pausing at the doorway he turned and added, "Don't wake her up."

River nodded and watched him go. Turning to look at Muireann, she smiled wickedly.

"Sleeping Beauty must awake," she whispered into the other girl's ear, "The Prince Charming has already left."

Muireann's eyes opened and she glared at River.

"How did you know?" she demanded, annoyed.

"You breathe to deeply," replied River, smiling in a sickly-sweet manner.

"Well," started Muireann, "You sound better then usual."

River's expression flickered somewhere between annoyance and sadness. Muireann noted, sinkingly, that the brown eyes aged unbelievably in the past few seconds. She also felt guilty that very, very deep down, she had been spared River's fate.

"Won't last," said River, "Already beginning. The mirror will return to a shatter state. No one will bother fixing the broken pieces. Just break them anew."

Muireann grimaced at her proclamation.

"I-it can't be all bad," she replied, "I mean, most of your crew..."

River shook her head.

"Prince Charming is split. He can't watch both mirror and princess while tending to the potter. The Ape-man is closer to a trained monkey, " Muireann grinned at this, choking back a laugh, "Captain Daddy and Inara are too engaged in their own waltz. One must always dance around the other. The princess is kind, but stuck in her own dark tower."

"And what about the Shepherd?" asked Muireann.

"Enigma. More data is needed," replied River, looking away.

Muireann let out a slow sigh. Pulling her hands up underneath her head she stared up at the ceiling.

"I'm not going to lie to you, cause I know it ain't worth it," she said, looking over at River, "But I'm glad they got to your brain instead of mine."

She waited, not sure whether River would explode on her or burst into a mass of gibberish. She had no idea what made her say what she said other then it was better late then never.

"The mirror would rather be broken then forced to eat the poison apple," said River finally.

Muireann chuckled, and gasped in pain. River flinced slightly at the gasp, feeling an echo of it herself.

"If I remember correctly," she said, "All I'll need is a Prince Charming to kiss me then."

"I don't think Simon would concure with your solution," replied River.

Muireann shot her an amused look. River moved her lips to smile when she felt it. With a cold heart she looked in the direction of the bridge.

"NO!" she screamed, backing away, "No, no, no, no, no, no."

"River?" asked Muireann, sitting up, "AH!"

She grasped her side as pain flared along.

"R-iver," she whispered, "W-What's wrong?"

"Hands of blue," said River, sinking into a ball on the floor, "Two by two...hands of blue..."