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Inara and Kaylee - thanks ShoSen!

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Inara/Kaylee (Firefly)

What Might Have Been
by ladylakira

Spoilers: Snippets here and there throughout the series of Firefly. A passing mention of Willow's character development of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame.

One of the most frustrating things about the cancellation of Firefly is the loose plot ends left whipping in the wind. Most notably there is River’s psychic powers and the subtle but looming shadow of the Blue Sun Corporation. A little more to the side but no less intriguing is Shepherd Book’s mysterious past. There are also character developments and tensions that never saw fulfillment. Will Wash and Zoe come to an agreement about having a child? Will Inara actually leave the ship in an attempt to run away from her feelings for Mal, and he be able to cope? How will Simon’s awkward courtship of Kaylee turn out? Will Jayne give into temptation again and try to sell out the Tam siblings?

While there is a great deal of hope that many of these will be addressed in the coming movie Serenity, it would be foolish to think that it will have the same breadth as a full second season might have had. After all, Joss Whedon is known for throwing some curve balls at his audience, just to keep us all on our toes. While staying true to the characters, he has a habit of taking down paths that might never have been anticipated in the beginning of the series. Who knew, for instance, that in his Buffy the Vampire Slayer series Willow was going to become a witch, become gay, or become evil? The first season doesn’t give much indication of this at all, but the progression seems natural throughout the series.

I firmly believe that a relationship between Inara and Kaylee is one of those that might have developed naturally if Firefly had continued.


Kaylee is the ship’s mechanic with a natural talent for understanding machines. It is her affinity that lands her a job on Serenity (in “Out of Gas”) but it’s her bright smile and optimism that makes her a favorite of the crew. As Simon says to Kaylee in “The Message”: “You manage to find the bright side of every single thing.” That isn’t to say that Kaylee is a two-dimensional character whose only setting is happy. She’s been known to get irate at other characters, like when Mal impatiently scoffs at a pink dress that she had been admiring in “Shindig” or when Simon puts his foot in his mouth in “Safe”. She does, however, work to bring a little light in the darkness that the crew often faces.

Inara is a Companion, a profession that may be the most controversial of all the crew’s. At first glance she is simply a well-paid whore. Then, it becomes apparent that the profession of Companion not only confers comfort but prestige. It is actually a respectable job, which is at odds with our current view of prostitutes. This more in keeping with the Greek hetaerae of old, who, while still whores, were often influential women subject to the same taxes as any other citizen. While Inara certainly is refined, it cannot be said that she has never been acidic or even vindictive. The former is rather obvious when she has a disagreement with Mal and the latter in “Trash” when she gets to gloat over the garbage-covered Saffron.

In Firefly, Kaylee and Inara can easily be described as best friends, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. As Inara says in “War Stories”, it is sometimes hard to be entirely yourself in front of men. With only three women on the Serenity prior to the pilot, Inara had to choose either Zoe or Kaylee as a confident; her alternative is to remain alone on the ship. Zoe is a soldier first and likely acted in far too professional a manner at the beginning of their relationship for Inara to be entirely comfortable treating the first mate as a bosom friend. Kaylee, on the other hand, with her open manner and easy smile, probably sought out Inara with wide-eyed questions and a refreshing mixture of innocence and friendliness.

This is purely speculation of how Inara and Kaylee became as friendly as they are with each other, of course, but evidence of their “best friend” state is obvious throughout the show. The first time the pair are seen together in “Serenity”, they share a warm smile and a comradely, “Hey you.” Kaylee questions Inara about the number of men that have fallen “madly in love” with the Companion, and Inara responds jokingly, “Just the one. I think I’m slipping.” Normally, Inara doesn’t discuss her clients with the other members of the crew, obscuring her screen with a piece of cloth in “Shindig” when Mal walks in, and chastising Jayne in “Out of Gas” when he asks her to relate some funny stories about her clients. She is, however, comfortable with Kaylee’s comments, including the ribald “Have good sex!” called out in “Jaynestown”.

Their comfort with each other concerning Inara’s occupation is by far not the only indication of their closeness. Kaylee gets her hair brushed in Inara’s shuttle in a quintessential display of female adolescent sleepover behavior. They go shopping together in “Safe” and share a hug in a crowded market in “The Message”. Kaylee sighs about Simon to Inara, and the Companion gently teases her friend.

Is it so hard to extrapolate this relationship a little further?

Inara obviously has no problems with the idea of same sex liaisons, as evidenced rather pointedly in “War Stories”. Kaylee likewise doesn’t seem to have a problem with the idea when she sees Inara with the Councillor. If anything, her look of wide-eyed fascination is close to Jayne’s contained lust as he announces, “I’ll be in my bunk.” Neither Inara nor Kaylee are prudes. Inara can hardly be one, considering her job, and Kaylee got her job as the ship’s engineering after being caught having sex with Serenity’s former engineer. Clearly, the potential for a romantic relationship between these two characters is there.

I suppose one of the reasons I love this ‘ship so much is because it reminds me a little of my relationship with my girlfriend. We started out as friends, not really looking for anything else, but as the sleepovers became more frequent and we spend more time together, it grew into something more. Something special. I can see something special growing out of the wonderful friendship that Inara and Kaylee have built between each other.

Of course, the fact that they are unbelievably hot helps.

Still, I’m not the only one who’s noticed the intense friendship between these two characters. Many fanfic authors capitalize on Inara and Kaylee’s easy camaderie to take them further. dirty_diana’s Mangoes on Boros is a beautiful series of fictlets where their canon relationship progresses naturally to a more sexual relationship. Centripetal Motion by Rachel takes a similar approach and is no less wonderful.

I don’t mean to ignore the obvious dynamic between Inara and Mal, nor the dynamic between Kaylee and Simon. It needs to be addressed and some fanfic authors have brought Inara and Kaylee together by having them console each other over their man problems. A Casual Conversation by Koren M. has Kaylee distressed about Simon and asking Inara for help to win the clueless doctor. In Bed and Breakfast by Bastet, which is largely a PWP, there is a passing mention of Mal and the possibility of Inara’s relationship with Kaylee making him jealous.

If all I wanted was good femslash, however, I could go to any pairing. What I crave specifically from Inara and Kaylee is the intense character exploration that could be achieved. Inara is, as I mentioned earlier, more than just a sensual Companion, and Kaylee is more than just the cheerful mechanic. It does them a disservice to constantly think of them that way. They have insecurities, fears, and their own little mysteries. It would be wonderful to watch them struggle with themselves and support each other as they come to terms with their own faults. They deserve a long fanfic that devotes itself to both their coming together and turbulence in their relationship because it would only make them stronger in the end.

Unfortunately, the breadth of femslash is not nearly as great as m/m slash. Certainly, I take a stab at writing it myself, but I have limited time and abilities. This is why I keep my eye on fanfic archives such as Firefly’s Glow Archive and rec sites such as Oggham.com Recs and ff_shiprecs, waiting for an industrious author to come along and fulfill my need for more Inara/Kaylee.

There have been a few who have seen the potential, after all, and they can’t possibly be the last.



YES! Not only is it a Firefly essay, but it's a femmeslash one! I applaud you!
Hee. Thanks. Not that I don't appreciate m/m. I just think pretty girls should have their chance to dance too. :)
Very nice. I always thought they were cute together (Kaylee, can't you see how wrong Simon is for you?).
No, see, they'll get together after far too much tensions and have their fun. Then, they'll gently part, because they're both too nice to make it messy and it was mostly the tension that made the whole thing interesting. Then Kaylee will run to Inara's arms and have wild kinky sex. Wheee!

*cough* I may be a little biased....
Kaylee/Inara's like a cool drink of water after all that overheated angst. See, I'm biased, because I never got over thinking Simon's gay.
Very good essay- you capture my fav paring in Firefly and put everything that I felt but couldn't explain into words. Very good job!
Thanks. :)

Y'know, if it's your favorite pairing, you could write something for it.... Your Jayne voice in that Firefly fic you wrote (Jayne/Kaylee) was very well done and I've no doubt you could do a good Inara or Kaylee voice....

*hint hint*

*looks innocent*
Thanks for saying that you liked my fic! And I am trying... but no promises. ;-) After all- there is never enough femslash in the world. Esp Inara/Kaylee.
On my first viewing of Serenity, I was convinced of Kaylee/Inara, and I figured that Kaylee was going to pull through because Joss couldn't shoot two sympathetic lesbian characters to death in two series! Personally, though, I'd say that it's more Kaylee's awkward courtship of Simon than vv.

Thank you for a Kaylee-upbeat and Inara-graceful essay, and thanks for pointing me toward Oggham.com, which I hadn't seen before.
Thanks for the feedback. :)

To be honest, I didn't see the Kaylee/Inara connection quite at first. At the time I was watching the show, however, I hadn't gotten into fanfic or slash. Then I did, and it seemed so obvious....

*whimper* Tara... death... pain... urk....

*gathers self* Sorry. It hurts every time I think about it.

*blinks* And you remind me: I haven't checked fireflyslash in awhile.... *wanders*
Lovely piece, you make a very convincing case for Firefly femslash. :-D
Thanks. And since I see that you're a fanfic author, was it convincing enough to get you at least thinking about writing femslash?

*looks innocent*

Yes, I'm pushy.... :)
Well, been thinking of starting to dabble my toes into the slash writing and well...if the boys hook up that does leave the girls at loose ends so I'll have to do something to make them happy. ;-)
Excellent essay. I can't wait for the movie to see where everything goes.
Thanks! And I agree emphatically. The movie will be wonderful because it is Joss and Joss is god even when he's busy ripping our hearts out.
This is WONDERFUL. *g* Hee, Kaylee/'nara. *didn't need convincing* And thank you so much for the recs, I'll have fun with those later. :D
Yeesh! How to tell I never really read my email!

Thanks a lot for the comment, and I'm sorry I didn't thank you sooner. :)
*lol* That's ok and you're welcome. :D
I was already converted to this 'ship, but this is a completely gorgeous essay on it! It puts everything that is so wondeful about Kaylee/Inara into words perfectly. ^_^
Thanks for the feedback. Sorry I didn't thank you sooner!
This is a lovely essay! You make Kaylee and Inara sound so perfect for each other.
Thank you! And they are perfect together! Adorable! Beautiful!

*wipes up drool*

Sorry I didn't thank you for your feedback sooner. :)
I watched sll of Firefly this week, and before the first day I had found my pairing, and it was Kaylee/Inara. (Naturally, as soon as I finished the special features I had to run to this communitiy and look for essays!)

This is a wonderful essay; you pick up on many of the points of waht make Inara and Kaylee so close, and how it could easily grow into something bigger. I love the notions of comfort, because that's what the two of them have to offer, especially each other, and just the charming closeness they already have.

Thanks for writing such a great essay and I can't wait to start exploring this part of the fandom :)
Thanks for the feedback!

And I notice that you're a fanfic author.... *hint hint hint*
I am indeed, and as soon as I finish my first piece of Firefly fic (a River genpiece - I have a penchant for genfic), I'm going to try my hand at Kaylee/Inara :)
*pokes you*

I just watched all Firefly this week, and in the very first episode, I had my OTP, and it was Kaylee/Inara. Perhaps we should become friends. :p [will get back to tagging when I get back to school. sorry....]

And ladylakira, wonderful essay. Mmm, OTP goodness...
Yay! :D

[will get back to tagging when I get back to school. sorry....]
No hurry, I'm still around :)

You! Write Kaylee/Inara! :P!
blue by darkhavens

January 2018



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