Disclaimer: I am not Joss. I am but a humble slave to the muse.

River examined the results with trepidation. The experiment may have been flawed from the beginning. Did the results increase with each iteration because the test group truly appreciated each successive sample they received with more enthusiasm? Was it that each sample group was more receptive? Or was it because she, the scientist, was growing more confident with each phase of the experiment? Should she scrap the whole experiment and try another? But if she did not use the Queen as a base then she would have to go outside of Serenity for her model. The disqualifying elements for the mechanic and warrior woman had not been eliminated.

With a sigh, she stood. She may as well follow through now. She was wearing the pink dress. Her hair was pulled back in the shiny firefly hairpins. Bone structure-appropriate face paint had been applied. All of the Companion's traits had received successful test results. She would combine all of the elements. She would find her life partner. Even if it may take a few attempts.

She had two days on Persephone before they would be in the black for two weeks. But first, she had to find the negative control. This was the final test. He had reacted correctly to every isolated element. It was time to ensure the experiment as a whole was valid.

He was in the cargo bay, honing his most reliable weapon. His harsh breaths rang out rhythmically. In. Out. In. Out. The familiar sound soothed her nerves. There was no reason for the merc to react outside of the normal parameters. He would respond with a slightly offensive comment at worst, or a vaguely concerned question like the previous time. But he would not respond as a man from the test group. That would be against his nature. He did not see her as a woman and he never would. She would forever be the feng le girl that had scrambled naked from the cryo box, intent on causin' trouble for his crew.

River focused on her task. It was time to prove, or disprove, her experiment. She needed to get this part over with so she could finally focus on finding her partner. She was so tired of being alone.

Meeting his eyes, she began to make her way forward. Her hips began to sway. The movement required no conscious thought now. It was just another dance. Choreography was something River recalled without effort.

Jayne's movements slowed. He hung from the hand-holds, his eyes watching her warily. Finally, as she neared he spoke. "Y-ya need 'nother water, Girly? Yer still limpin'."

"Hmm." She hummed neutrally.

Jayne dropped from the rungs, but failed to move any further.

Lifting a finger, she repeated the finger-on-the-shoulder circling trick she'd performed on Kaylee. It proved to have the same hypnotizing effect on the mercenary. Interesting. She would have to add that to her hip-swaying routine when she deployed her technique for mate-finding purposes.

With her face tilted down and lower lip pouted slightly she peered up at him through her lashes. "She requires a protector on the streets. Can Jayne walk with her please?"

The test group loved it when a small woman asked for protection. They liked to feel big and bad. Only she knew that she could kill them fifteen different ways with a spoon.

For a long moment Jayne stared down at her, apparently struck mute. Then he threw his head back and laughed. She stepped back after a moment as he continued to find amusement in her attempt at seduction.

He pointed a finger at her. "You? You want protection? From what? Dust getting' on that purty dress? The wind messin' with yer hair?"

She reminded herself once again that disappointment was an irrelevant emotion. Jayne's approval had never been the goal. In fact, success would have been impossible if he had reacted in any other fashion. Smoothing down her dress, she nodded toward him once before spinning on her borrowed heel.

Rough fingers on her elbow startled River. She raised surprised eyes to meet Jayne's angry gaze.

"Where'r you going, Crazy?"

She frowned in confusion. "She told you. She is going out. To find a man."

His jaw fell open. "To do what!"

She shook out of his grasp. "To find a partner. A mate. One to have and hold."

He stared at her in silence, confusion and an unfamiliar look in his eye.

She sighed. "She is lonely Jayne." She ran a hand down her body, highlighting the tight bodice. "She has reached maturity. She is ready."

Fire sparked in his eyes. "So yer jest gonna go out on the street? Like a whore?"

She stepped back, surprised by the anger in his voice. "She is not for sale, Jayne. But she must seek outside the home. There are no available candidates."

The fire in his eyes died. His voice fell flat. "Figures. You core-bred snobs always turnin' up yer noses at the rim trash."

She cocked her head to the side, studying him. Was he offended that she was not considering him? That was illogical, but just like the man. Jayne was an acceptable match. He understood the girl. He was quiet when she needed quiet. He appreciated his weapons, revered them even. He was not interested. "He is an acceptable specimen. He has made it clear she is unacceptable. Feng le. Moonbrain."

Turning, she made to leave again. She was wasting time. She wasn't as surprised when he spun her around the second time. Jayne liked to have the last word. He would not allow her to walk away from him so easily. She was very surprised when instead of speaking, he crashed his lips down on hers. His hands slid down to her hips, yanking them up against his.

The feelings crashed down on her as he backed her up, slamming her into a crate. This was different from Zoe and Wash, from Mal and Inara, from Simon and Kaylee. It was more intense. Wilder. Even while a part of River was mourning the fact that all of her efforts had been in vain, that her experiment was invalidated by the negative control's response, another part was rising to meet the emotions crashing in from the man covering her in kisses.

Her eyes rolled as he sucked on a spot just behind her ear.

"Ta ma duh do you have any idea what you've been doing to me the past couple weeks, Yao Nu?" He growled. "Been driving me as feng le as you."

She gasped at the sensations he was creating. "You have ruined the experiment. She will have to start over."

He pulled back with a confused expression. "Experiment?"

"To determine effective mate-luring behavior."

Jayne growled again. "Ain't lettin' no other man near ya. So get that feng le 'speriment idea outta yer head. You're mine. Got that?"

He punctuated his words with another mind-numbing kiss. When he pulled away, River's knees were jelly and only the firm arms around her were holding her up.

"Well? You got it?"

Her smile was a little dazed as she nodded her head. She had the presence of mind to make her own demand though. "Only if he is hers."

Jayne paused a moment. All it took was one kiss for him to nod his head.

The experiment had been a success after all.