I own nothing.

At first, it had been a relief. It had been one of the main reasons she had thought they fit so well with one another. He never crowded her mentally. She knew only what he told her. It was exciting, real, normal. His surface thoughts were nothing more than whatever entered his mind at that moment. And they were always so selfish. It was almost always about weapons or food or sex. How he was upset that he never got enough food at dinner even though he always ended up eating more than half of her portion.

The worst thoughts were of the other girls. Anytime they were planet side and Jayne caught a glimpse of a pretty girl, the first thing to come to his mind would be the three of them naked in his bunk. And for that agonizing second, all River could think of was how she wasn't enough. The pain was multiplied by the fact that he was everything.

The worst day ever had been on Persephone. He'd disappeared after their meeting with Badger and hadn't come back for hours. Then, when he'd finally come back long after nightfall, more than ten sheets to the wind and angry at her for some unknown reason, he'd announced that he thought it would be best if they didn't sleep together for the next couple of days. River snapped. She nodded, calm and complacent as she watched him stumble off toward his bunk. She shut her door silently and waited for several minutes until she was sure he wasn't nearby before breaking down completely. River cursed herself. How could she have been so stupid as to have let this happen. Simon, Mal, Inara, Kaylee...they had all warned her. If he wasn't one to kiss on the mouth or take a girl out on a date, why would he ever fall in love? River buried her head in her hands. Not once had he ever told her he loved her. Some days, he wouldn't even admit to liking her. Most days, he told her he didn't like her.

The tears turned bitter. Well, if he could just get over her this quickly, she could get over him just as quickly. River tore through her closet, tossing her clothes out into the middle of the floor until she found the crate of books that had been piled deep in the back of the closet. She dumped the books onto the pile of clothes and set the crate down on her bed as she proceeded to ransack her room. River breathed in heavily as she tossed the first item into the crate. It was one of the many dirty shirts he left strewn about her room, though they were usually discarded in such a haphazard fashion due to their eagerness to have sex. She found three more and tossed them into the crate, trying hard not to cry as she did so. Next was the stack of old gun magazines that he refused to throw away though he no longer read them. He'd insisted on moving them into her room. River scowled at the crate and stormed over to her desk, jerking it open. She pulled out the old cigar box he'd stuffed in there telling her it was for safe keeping because he'd have lost it.

"River, you okay?"

River looked up at the first mate. "I'm fine, Zoe. I'm just very tired of being only one."

Zoe pursed her lips and shut the door, seating herself on the foot of River's bed. River picked up the cigar box carefully. The sudden thought of him being willing only to give her a worthless cigar box brought forth another wave of irrational anger and she hurled it across the room toward the wall. It hit the wall with a resounding smack and fell into the crate spilling its contents. Zoe leaned back and peered into the crate. "Nice shot."

"Thank you," River grunted as she jerked open the drawers to her tiny dresser and yanked out several pairs of Jayne's cargo pants. She turned toward the crate. It would be too small to fit all of his clothes in. She dumped them next to the door. "Those will just have to go in the trash."

Zoe's eyes narrowed in thought and River's anger receded when she realized she couldn't see anything the woman was thinking. Zoe shook her head. "Just here to keep you company. Couldn't sleep, took a walk, heard you raising hell and decided to check it out. You don't have to talk if you don't want to."

"As I said, I'm just tired."

"Then maybe you need to sleep this off."

"No," River snapped, wincing at the sharpness of her words, "I've been trying to sleep this off for the past three months."

She pulled the revolver Jayne had bought her from the top drawer, unloaded it, and tossed it into the crate. She ripped down the Degas print poster of ballerinas he'd gotten her for her birthday and stuffed it into the crate. Zoe raised an eyebrow as she watched River toss her sketchpad in after it. River ignored her and began to stuff her own clothes back into the closet. She leaned against the the closet door, shutting it and looked up at Zoe with a helpless expression. Zoe sighed and stood, bundling up the large pile of clothing in her arms. "Still got a few bottles of moonshine I've been workin' on since Miranda. Think they have our names on 'em, Honey."

She shift the bundle of clothes onto her hip and wound her arm around River's shoulders. River hoisted the crate up and the two made their way to the crew dorms in silence. River took a deep breath when they came to Jayne's bunk. She quickly typed in his password and nudged the door open as quietly as she could. Zoe tossed in the pile of clothes first. River bit her lip. She could hear him snoring.

"You still wanna do this?"

Zoe's question furthered her resolve and she dropped the crate down the open hatch. She winced when it thudded softly. Jayne stirred, but continued snoring. River felt her heart break a little more. If he had cared, he would have known. He would have awakened and stopped her from leaving him.

"Come on, Sweetheart, let's get liquored up," Zoe soothed as she guided River to her own bunk.

In her broken state, River felt she had more in common with Zoe's empty, lonely bunk, than with any other part of the ship. River seated herself cross-legged on the end of the bed and watched as Zoe pulled out two bottles of questionable, clear liquid. Zoe handed her a bottle, her eyes-it was only ever her her eyes-full of amusement. "It's cheap and it's a bitch goin' down, but it sure does numb what ails ya."

River latched on to the bottle unscrewing the cap and downing several shots worth. She grunted as it burned its way down her throat and into the pit of her stomach. Zoe took her own pull from her bottle and winced. "Don't call it Rotgut for nothin'."

Zoe fell back on the bed. When she spoke soft and even several minutes later, River jumped. "They don't tell ya how much it hurts. Only how good it feels up until it ends."

"I didn't even feel all that good for the most part," River mumbled into her bottle. Zoe lifted her head to look at her. "Really?"

River nodded as she took another sip, careful not to inhale the bottle's fumes. Zoe let her head fall back. "Huh. Guess I missed somethin'."

River glared down at her bottle. It was supposed to numb her pain, not amplify it. Zoe sat up quickly and put an arm around River. River dropped her empty bottle to the floor as her body wracked with sobs and buried her face in her hands. River held out her hand and Zoe handed her the second bottle before grabbing a third from the cabinet.

"You know, I never understood how you did the facial hair thing," Zoe mused. "Wash had a mustache when he came on board. It just bugged me to no end."

River looked up incredulously, her face streaked with tears. "He did not!"

Zoe burst with laughter at River's wide-eyed, disbelieving expression. "He sure as hell did."

River laughed slightly, rubbing her eyes with a balled up fist. "How in the 'verse did you get him to shave it?"

"Told him if he didn't I'd shoot 'im."

River and Zoe blinked at one another for several moments before collapsing in laughter. River gulped down some of the clear alcohol and winced. The two fell back on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. "I know it's not the same as what you had-"

"It is, Honey." Zoe took several long pulls from the bottle. "It is."

"You are solitary." River rubbed her eyes. "And now, so am I."

"One don't feel full 'til they find love. Then they do. They're happy." Zoe hugged the bottle to her chest, her eyes glazed over in bitter pain. "Then it's taken away. I been shot, cut on, burned, broken-ain't nothin' hurt as worse as when I lost him. I lost myself; a part a me I didn't know I had."

"I didn't know I could become more broken." River curled her body around the body and faced the first mate. "I feel over-dramatic saying I want to die, but-"

"I feel it everyday," Zoe said in an even voice. "Never gets easier. Especially knowin' that if it hadn't been for him dyin' we'd still-"

Zoe broke off. "I didn't bring you down here to listen to me bitch an' moan about my loss. This was for you, River, but I feel better..."

"If Mal were to lose Serenity, he would understand you." River lifted her arms, gesturing grandly at their surroundings. "Serenity is his love. They are bound together as one as you and Wash were."

"You know," Zoe said she propped herself up as bet she could, "tomorrow ain't gonna be all that much fun."

"I..." River blinked. Her vision was blurry at best and while her body was numb and warm, her heart still throbbed painfully. She let her head drop to her chest and was surprised not to find an open, gaping wound. She pulled her head up to Zoe when she felt the bottle being pried gently from her hands. "Think you had 'bout enough."

"Zoe," River said in a whimper, "can I..can I?"

"Stay as long as you want," Zoe said with a smile as she helped River move up on the bed to lay down. They lay side by side in silence for a long time until Zoe finally asked, "What do I say if anyone asks?"

"Tell them I'm hiding from the big black void that's trying to engulf me."

River could hear Zoe's voice as she spoke, but couldn't make out the words as everything slowly swirled into a blurry blackness that engulfed her. The light that poured in through the open hatch the next morning was blinding-even with her arm thrown over her eyes as the dark hadn't been black enough. The room was spinning again.

"Zoe, you seen my pilot?"

River was tempted to throw something in the direction of Mal's voice, but her aim was questionable due to the pounding in her head and it was more than likely she was too lethargic and weak to lift an object heavy enough to do serious injury.

"No, I ain't seen her, so stop yellin'," Zoe snapped, turning to face the open hatch.

"Well, when'd you last see her?"

"When I made my rounds last night she was scurrying 'round tryin' to find a place to hide from some big black hole that was after her."


"Sir, please stop yelling."

"I ain't yellin'."

"You're indeed yelling, Sir."

River heard Mal sigh and then the sound of the hatch shutting. She groaned. "Alcohol was a bad idea."

"No, it was a great idea. We just shoulda been payin' attention to how much we drank."

River tried to open her mouth to reply, but couldn't find the energy to do so and slipped back into unconsciousness. When she awoke, there were two aspirins and a large glass of water sitting next to her on the dresser beside the bed. She inhaled the tiny tablets and gulped down the water greedily. She winced as the cool water sluiced down her throat, hitting every sore, tendered bit of tissue that the alcohol had burned away. She fell back on the bed and groaned in agony when her vision fuzzed and the pain spiked in her head from the sudden movement and force. She rolled over and buried her head in the pillows. River let her eyes run the length of the room and they grew watery. Like Zoe, she would forever be alone. Jayne had been it for her; she was sure of it.

When the hatch hissed opened and Zoe snuck down with an extra plate of protein she'd managed to stash before everyone arrived for dinner, River's head was still pounding. This time, it was from crying. River thanked Zoe as she took the plate and began to pick at the food. It was ash in her mouth. She looked up at Zoe with questioning eyes. The woman shrugged. "Acted just as he's always acted. Bit run down from bein' so hungover I think, but other than that..."

River bit her lip to keep from crying. It served her right. She had asked. She hugged herself. "I'm not ready to face them."

"As I said before, you can stay as long as you like."

River stayed for two more days, emerging at breakfast with the first mate. Everyone else was seated at the table. Kaylee smiled warmly at her and her lips twitched in an attempt to smile back at the mechanic. She stared at the table. Jayne was already wolfing down his food. Zoe pulled the chair next to her-Wash's chair- out and River's eyes widened. Zoe nodded, giving her a funny look. River slid into the chair, shrinking slightly under everyone's penetrating gaze. Mal's gaze slid from her to his mercenary, whose eyes were narrowed and clouded.

"You okay 'tross?"

"The vacuous void tried to take me. It almost succeeded."

"Where you been?"

"Wounds must be licked before one comes out of hiding," she said with what she hoped was a nonchalant shrug. Mal made a face. "Right. Well, just glad you're back an' not dead an' stinkin' up my boat."

River's lips twitched up into what could only be a faint smile. It reminded all of Zoe when she tried to smile.

"River, will ya come help me in the engine room later? Ain't seen ya for a coupla days."

River turned to look at Kaylee when her eyes caught Jayne's from across the table. He looked haggard, his eyes bloodshot. There was something strange about them.

"I-" River looked down at her plate. "I think I just want to be alone for a while. I feel what I physically am not."

Kaylee smiled, her expression slightly confused. "Okay, well, if'n ya feel like ya wanna talk 'er anything at all, ya know where ta find me."

River nodded and picked at her food before deciding she couldn't stand to sit with them any longer. She picked up her plate and dumped it in the sink, scurrying from the room as quickly as possible. She had never been so happy to be in her room. She quickly buried herself under several blankets and grabbed a hold of the raggedy teddy bear sitting on her bed. Mal had gotten it for her her first birthday on Serenity. Jayne had waited until everyone had left before giving her his present. It was one of his guns-one of his favorites. It was the same gun she had carelessly tossed down his hatch in that crate. Guilt began to eat at her slowly. She rolled over and balled up tighter under the covers counting the number of breaths she took per minute.

The last time she had been laying in bed like this, Jayne had been the one to come check on her. He'd crawled in next to her, wrapping his body around her. It was one of a handful times that he had crawled into bed next to her and not expected anything sexual to occur. He hadn't said a word, hadn't done a thing, but wrap himself around her and hold her tightly for an entire day and night. She couldn't even remember what it was that had put her in such a mood. All she could remember was how he had taken care of her. She wished he would do it then, just come barreling in loudly as he always did, shuck his boots and demand she move over with a backhanded pat on the back before he let his body curl around hers wordlessly. She hugged the teddy bear, Hubert, closer to her chest as she began to sniffle. That had been the third time Jayne hadn't tried to sex her.

The first time had been the first time they'd had sex. Jayne had been shot in the side on the one job Mal had said would be safe enough that they wouldn't need her abilities on. Though he'd only been grazed, he'd bled like a stuck pig and the moment she'd seen him laying on the infirmary bed, holding his side and cracking jokes about how stupid Mal had been to think everything would have gone alright had made her feel like she was bleeding to death right along with him.

"You know, this is why I only trust Crazy. She's the only person on this boat's got as much sense 'bout things as I do," he'd grumbled as Simon sewed up his graze. Jayne had winced and grinned up at her. "Yer the only one on this boat that makes sure I don't git shot up an' dead."

It had taken everything in her not to throw herself at him and weep. She waited an entire day until she finally attacked. He had been on his way to the showers when she had grabbed him and pulled him into her room. Jayne hadn't even yelled at her. In fact, he'd been worried something was wrong and she was warning him. Her tear stained face hadn't helped matters much. He had started off by asking what kind of danger they were in when she had thrown her arms around him and latched onto his mouth like it was the end of the 'verse. He'd kissed her back, confused and unsure as to where she was taking things.

It wasn't until she thought about it, huddled in her room in the lonely dark that River realized Jayne Cobb was not a man to be unsure of things and obediently follow someone else's lead. He had trusted her completely. Hell, he hadn't even yelled at her for kissing him on the mouth. He'd just gone with it. He hadn't even given thought to sex until she had started moving his hands to her chest. River felt herself crying and rubbed her eyes dry on one of the blankets.

If she really thought about it, things had begun going south when he'd stopped arguing mindlessly with her on things. Jayne had, from day one, insisted on arguing with her about any and everything there was that he could argue with her about. Usually, it started with him making some comment about the way she was talking funny again and it would snowball from there. It was one of the things she could never wrap her head around. She had always talked that way around him. He had never said anything about it when they were in private-he more often than not talked back, amused with what she had to say. So, why pick fun? River fisted her hand and ground it down into the mattress. Because he was just as smart as she was and he didn't want people to know it and the best way to make people think you're stupid is to argue and get angry instead of trying to be understanding. Still, why hadn't he argued with her that last month? He'd become distant, accommodating in every way. He had even been right in several of their arguments, but instead, had chosen to sit there silently and listen as she called him every name in the book.

"You are the most libidinous, offensive brute there is," she had screamed at him. He had been staring at some skinny brunette walking down the street and River had seethed silently for hours until they got home. The minute they had made it to his bunk and the hatch had been shut, she had begun screaming.

"It is not fair. Wash never did this to Zoe because he loved her. If you loved me, you wouldn't do that. Maybe that's our problem! You don't love me; you don't even like me, I'm just here for your own personal entertainment, right? You're too selfish to give a good Gorramn about anyone else's feelings but your own. If you would rather have some diseased, oversexed whore who's been plowed more times than a wheat field, fine, tell me now. I'm tired of having to watch you ogle every female within a ten mile radius!"

Jayne had begun glaring at her the moment she'd yelled about how he didn't like her and once her tirade had finished, he'd gently grabbed her around the waist and buried his face in her stomach, inhaling deeply. Being that it was the first time he'd never yelled back, River had been too stunned to understand what was going on and had stood with her arms raised above her head in shock as she stared down at him. She's awkwardly put her arms around him. "You're the reason I'm still so crazy, you know that," she'd joked. He'd tightened his hold around her, refusing to engage in her banter as he'd pressed his face further into her abdomen. "Jayne?"

He'd shaken his head and pulled her down to the lay on his bed next to him, refusing to speak even then. Not once did he look her in the eyes. Not once had he stopped glaring. It was almost as if he had been concentrating on something.

River growled, muttering at her wall in an almost incoherent voice. "Bet he's already had babies with tons of women all over the 'verse, but me-the only one he'd kiss on the mouth?-No, I'm not good enough. He has to go around eying skinny little nobody farm girls with stupid hair and stupid stupid..."

She growled again. "My babies will always be prettier than their babies!"

River buried her head in a pillow in utter embarrassment. She was talking to herself. Only crazy people talked to themselves.

"D'ya know what's wrong with Jayne?"

"Go away, Kaylee," River snapped, lobbing a pillow at the door. She growled at herself. It wasn't right, taking her anger and hurt out on other people.

"You two in a fight," Kaylee inquired hesitantly. River pulled the covers up over her head. "No."

She could feel Kaylee's confusion and worry. "Ya din't break up with him didya?"

River shifted closer to the wall. Kaylee's horrified gasp made her cringe. "But River, why? Jayne loves ya!"

River couldn't hold back the snort of amusement and bitter disbelief that passed her lips. She jumped at the vehemence and scorn in Kaylee's voice. "He does an' yer just too Gorramn stubborn ta see it. Ya know he don't even look at girls like he used to. Don't go to a bar with workin' girls neither. Yer a bigger boob than yer brother, River Tam!"

"For your information, he does too look at other women and the reason we are no longer in a relationship is because he decided it was acceptable to go out and get drunk and-"

Kaylee glowered at her friend. "Yeah, I seen him look at other girls. Skinny, dark haired girls that kinda look like you an' any time I catch him doin' it gives me this mean look an' says 'Ain't near as pretty as my girl is' an' I ain't tellin' ya where he was t'other night cause I don't think you deserve ta know!"

River blinked as she watched Kaylee stalk forward. She set something down on the edge of the bed. "Jayne tol' me ta give this to ya 'cause he ain't no good at takin' care a things what matter 'er whatever. Also said, and I quote 'Don't tell 'er ya saw me lookin' all funny' so's if he asks I did not see 'im lookin' like someone made of with Vera an' you."

Kaylee stormed back out of River's room, slamming the door and River sat up to stare at the rectangular object lying at the foot of the bed. It was the cigar box. River stared at it cautiously for a moment before finally working up the nerve to retrieve it from the edge of the bed carefully. She stared down at the top of the box before slowly flipping it open. She picked up the capture that was lying on top of a pile of what looked to be meaningless papers and odds and ends. It was of the last time the crew had been in the cargo bay together. She had been sitting on Jayne's lap talking to Kaylee as they watched everyone else enjoy themselves. Jayne had come to sit down with them, rolling his eyes when River had crawled up into his lap.

"I think it's kinda funny that when we ain't breakin' tha law we're playin' hoop ball!"

River had laughed and nodded at Kaylee's observation. "Our recreational activities do not match our chosen career paths."

"Mebbe we should start havin' quick draw fights!" Jayne had smirked proudly at the way River had laughed at his joke.

"Who do you think would win? Zoe 'er Mal?"

"Zoe," they'd answered in unison.

After that, Jayne had stopped talking, but he hadn't stopped watching her. Instead, he'd stared at her with that strange look he'd often got on his face when he'd stared at her when they were alone and he didn't think she was looking. He had only ever looked at her that way when he thought she wasn't paying attention. Something akin to realization dawned across his face and he outright, genuinely smiled at her-a rarity under any circumstances. Then he looked up to find Kaylee was still filming them and scowled. "Ain't you s'posed ta be filmin' ev'rybody else?!"

River slammed the capture face down on her bed with a shaky hand and turned her attention back to the rest of the cigar box's contents. Something shiny caught her attention and she picked it up to cradle it in her palm. It was a concave piece of platinum she had found on the ground when walking through the market on Persephone.

"See a penny, pick it up, all the day you'll have good luck," she'd recited as she dropped it into his hand. He'd given her an amused look and tucked it into his shirt pocket.

"Baby, don't think I have much good luck stored up for me, seein' as I got you." She'd thought he'd been making a joke at her expense then, but now...River teared up as she finally understood what he had meant. He had meant he'd spent all his luck in landing her for his girl. River set the platinum on top of the capture and thumbed through a small stack of "to and from" cards she had given to him with each gift he'd ever gotten from her. He had kept every single one of them. There was a barrette from Inara that she accidentally broken in a fight on one of Mal's jobs that she had thrown away in the wastebasket in his room later that night. There was a bloody strip of cloth that she'd torn from her skirt to bind a knife wound on his arm on the way back to Serenity from that same fight.

But under all of this was something she never thought she would see. He'd had no reason to keep it when she had given it to him. It was an origami dragon she'd made him while he'd been laid up after being shot in the shoulder on Mr. Universe's moon. He'd always reminded her of a dragon-breathing out words that cut deep and burned and always ferociously guarding his treasures. She had made an origami flower for everyone except for Jayne (inexplicably) and Zoe. For Zoe, she had made a dinosaur-Zoe had also kept hers, though she'd never admit to it and she'd only kept it because she knew Wash would have liked it. Jayne had been surprised when she had danced into the lounge and seated herself in the middle of the couch right next to him. She'd held it out to him with a proud smile; she had never made a dragon before. "I made you a special present."

"A dragon," he'd made a confused face, "everyone else got flowers."

"But I made you yourself," she'd said, very put out at what she had assumed was disappointment. "Yours is special, unique."

"I'm unique?"

"Magical creature who protects his treasures, claims damsels, and breathes fire and brings about the swift and sudden death of his foes!"

"I'm a magical creature?"

"You are also big like a Dragon!"

He'd cocked his head to the side and stared off in thought, squinting. "Huh, guess yer right crazy. Though the breathing fire thing don't make no sense-"

"Grenades," she'd reminded him, "and you roar with imposing force. The townfolk scurry like little mice when you make off with their pretty women."

Jayne had laughed. "Wow, when you put it like that, I really am like a Dragon!"


"Yer a unicorn then."

River had blinked at that. "I am not a unicorn, not innocent."

"Unicorns ain't innocent. They's just as dangerous as you. They're always watchin' out fer others like you an' they keep to themselves like you." He'd pointed at her and raised an eyebrow for emphasis. "An' they can't be caught 'less someone cheats. Just like yer brother did when he said them words back on Beaumonde!"

"You consider that cheating?"

"You bet! He didn't try ta take you on like me 'er Mal. Good fightin' by the way though I wish ya hadn'ta tried ta rip my balls off."

"I promise to be more gentle the next time I go wooly on you, Jayne."

River sniffed as the tears blurred her vision and poured down her face. She gently placed the dragon back in the box with the rest of the mementos Jayne had kept and stared down at the box. It was almost completely full. Jayne was not a sentimental man. In keeping all this he was admitting, if only to himself, how much he cared about her. For the first time in her life, River felt like an idiot. Actions were supposed to speak louder than words and Jayne who embodied action had been physically vocal with her about his feelings as often as possible. That much had been evident when he had been willing to spend an entire day and night holding her when she was upset. All those kisses he made it a point to give her, regardless of whether or not the crew was around before they went on a job had nothing to do with him trying to make Simon and Mal uncomfortable or get her in the mood for later like she thought. It was Jayne saying goodbye in case one of them got shot dead.

River watched the capture again and cried harder. That look. It was such a familiar look. He'd given it to her the day she'd crawled out of the cryobox; for the briefest of moments. It was the only look she could feel from anyone without seeing their face. Even Jayne hadn't realized what look it was-what it meant- until Kaylee had caught it. River silently thanked the mechanic. If it hadn't been for her, she wouldn't have known either.

She put the capture back in the cigar box and raced off toward the crew bunks, ignoring everyone's worried looks. She typed in the password to Jayne's bunk-his mother's birthday- and frowned when it didn't unlock. She tried the date of the first time she'd kissed him and it hissed open. He was huddled up in his bed under all his blankets, facing the wall.

"Go away, Mal, I done tol' ya, I ain't in the mood fer you ta be gettin' in my business," he growled. River stepped on to the ladder and pulled the hatch shut before she descended the ladder as silently as possible. She set the cigar box down on his dresser without making a sound and tiptoed over to the bed. River reached out one hand, running it through his hair. His breathing ceased and she quickly climbed into the bed and plastered herself to his back, wrapping an arm around him tightly. Jayne remained completely still, his entire body tensed and River let herself sob uncontrollably into his back as she clutched a handful of his shirt in her fist. River jumped when Jayne slowly rolled over. His eyes were bloodshot. He sniffed and ran a hand down his face. "Think I know what made you do it an' I still need ta tell you I didn't go where you was prolly thinkin' I went an' I was only drunk 'cause-"

River brought her hand up to cup his cheek and brushed her lips against his. "I love you, too, Jayne."

His face flooded with relief for a minute and he rubbed his watery eyes. "I wasn't finished."

River sniffed and Jayne averted his gaze to his balled up fist. "So, like I was sayin', after that meetin' with Badger an' Mal yelled at me fer not payin' attention, I went off ta do some thinkin' an' buy somethin' important. Took me a while ta find what I was lookin' for, but I got it. Then I got nervous an' decided I needed ta get drunk an' then I got too drunk an' got more nervous an' I decided I needed ta not be 'round you so I wouldn't..."

He sniffed and frowned and held out his hand to her. "Here."

He dropped it into her hand and River stared down at the ring in shock. Jayne wiped at his eyes as he stared at the tiny silver circle in her hand. River slipped it onto her ring finger and Jayne blinked up at her. "I thought we wasn't together no more."

River rubbed his goatee. "Do you love me?"

"Well, I certainly don't like ya if that's what yer askin'."

River snuggled closer to him and Jayne draped an arm over her waist, curling his fingers in her long hair. River bit her lip and held on to him tightly. "Well, I don't like you either."

She felt Jayne smile into her hair. "Good. That's real good."

A/N: i fell prey to yet another plot bunny. Sorry! Tell me what you think.