Proof By: *Friday Summary: River has picked up a bad habit. [Jayne/River] (kinda) Disclaimer: I don't own Firefly (or its characters). Joss does. Please don't sue me.

The ship's hanger was dark, and slightly damp. And if you stayed in it too long, the smell of engine grease would seep into your skin and you'd stink of it for days. The only light in the entire metal hollowed-shell of a room was from the small lights fixed to the ceiling, over thirty feet overhead, and those were dim at best.

Mal stepped through the open doorway and into the hanger. His eyes scanned the room, until they landed on Jayne.

Excellent, just the man he'd been looking for.

The other man was seated on a stack of cargo boxes as high as Mal's waist. He was dismantling the pieces of his firearm and setting them down one by one onto the cargo box next to him.

He looked up as Mal entered, and then turned his attention back to his work, completely ignoring him.

Mal rolled his eyes.

"Well hello to you too, Sunshine", he muttered under his breath as he walked towards his crewmate.

It wasn't until Mal took a seat across from him did Jayne acknowledge him again.

"What's up boss?"

"I-", Mal began, then stopped abruptly as he heard a noise coming from high above them. He looked upwards, scanning the maze of metal catwalks crisscrossing above with his eyes.

He heard it again-the squeak of metal and the soft rustle that followed-and his eyes rested on the raven-haired girl peeking through the catwalk's metal guardrails.

River.

Mal met her gaze and she scampered backwards until she was hidden from his view.

Mal looked at Jayne. He seemed to be completely oblivious to their visitor above as he reached for the rag sitting beside him and began cleaning the barrel of his gun.

But then again, oblivious wasn't Jayne's style.

"How long has she been up there?" Mal asked. Jayne didn't even look up.

"Goin' on two hours now," he said.

Aha! Mal thought. Not oblivious at all. just purposefully ignorant.

"Why?" he asked, eying Jayne suspiciously.

*That* got Jayne's attention. He looked up and scowled at his boss.

"The girl's crazy, Mal," he said. Shaking his head, he turned his gaze back to his work. "You expect me to understand the inner-workings of her obviously rutted-up brain?"

Mal was momentarily stunned by the anger in Jayne's voice.

"I-no, of course not. It's just tha-"

"Did you want something?" Jayne interrupted, annoyance flashing over his features.

Okay, Mal thought. Subject dropped.

"Infinity," Mal said.

"What?"

"I need you to go to Infinity colony."

Jayne's eyes bore into Mal's own, suspicious.

"Why?"

"Cargo run," Mal explained. "There's something on Infinity that I want, and I need you to go get it for me."

Jayne set down the piece of his gun that he was holding and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees.

"If this is so rutting important, why don't *you* go get it?"

Mal grinned. "What, and leave you in charge of my ship? Not a chance. The last time I did that you ended up doped up and passed out on the floor."

Jayne seemed to consider this for a moment, as though he was replaying the entire experience in his head. Then he grinned and muttered, "I hate that doctor."

Mal chuckled.

"Alright," Jayne said, leaning back again and picking up his cleaning rag. "I'll go pick up your precious cargo. When do you want me to leave?"

Mal smirked. "Is that a trick question?" Jayne looked up at the captain and chuckled.

"You should leave within the next 48 hours, hopefully. It'll take you about a week to get to Infinity. You can pick up my cargo and meet us at Chimera station."

Jayne eyed Mal. "Chimera is a good two-week flight from Infinity-and that's under the best possible conditions. Why the hell are you going there?"

Mal stood up, stretching out the muscles in his back.

"That, my friend, is where the cargo comes in. Just don't take too long getting back. It's kind of important."

Jayne's eyes narrowed. "Are you going to tell me what I'm picking up for you, or do I have to guess?"

Mal grinned. "You get to guess, Jayne. But don't worry, it's gonna be worth it."

The creaking sound echoed through the hanger again, and Mal looked up and saw River's pale face peeking through the bars again.

"That's starting to get a little unnerving," Mal muttered, and Jayne nodded in agreement. Mal turned back to look at his friend. "Has she ever done this before?"

Jayne nodded again. "Third time this week," he said. He had focused his attention back onto his firearm and didn't bother to glance up at Mal. "She's starting to pick up some really bad habits."

Mal reached over and slapped Jayne on the shoulder. "Well, on this ship," he said, "it's kind of inevitable.

"I'll see you later," Mal said as he started to make his way towards the doorway. Then, just as he reached it, he turned back to Jayne.

"You know," he said, glancing up towards the girl crouched on the catwalk. "I think she's got a crush on you."

Jayne looked up and glared at him. "That just proves how crazy she really is," he muttered.

Mal chuckled. "I'm inclined to agree. I mean, of all the people to choose from on this ship, who in their right mind would have a crush on *you*?" he asked and ducked out the door as Jayne threw the oily rag at his head.

Jayne heard Mal's footsteps retreating down the hall, and his eyes finally shifted upwards towards the catwalk. His eyes locked on River's for a split second before she started almost violently and began to scamper away. He scowled at her retreating form and turned back to his work.

"Crazy girl," he muttered under his breath.

Then, slowly, his face softened and he smiled.

[Fin]