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inlovewithnight in ship_manifesto

"Gears and Guns" (Jayne/Kaylee, Firefly)

Title: Gears and Guns
Author: inlovewithnight
Author's web site: Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: Jayne/Kaylee
Spoilers: All 14 little episodes.
Notes: Thanks to mongrel_idiot for the title and everybody on my flist for their extreme patience while I shrieked and wailed about this essay in my journal for weeks.

She's a space Pollyanna in overalls. His favorite hobby is shooting people. Why on Earth would they ever get together?
Superficial answer: Because opposites attract.
Deeper answer: Because they have a lot in common, too.



Who are these people?
* Kaylee: She's the ship's mechanic- but more than that, she's the ship's darling. In "The Message," Simon says to her "You manage to see the bright side of every single thing," and she does. She tries to patch up the disagreements onboard Serenity, tries to keep everyone smiling- and keeps a smile on her own face, even though sometimes you can see that it's pasted on.

The thing is, Kaylee isn't all sweetness and light, and she isn't stupid or naive. She has a core of steel under her bright side, and she keeps that smile on because really, in the end, happiness is a choice and she chooses not to cry. (On that ship? With Captain Disillusionment and the Repression Kids? If someone wasn't making a conscious effort to keep it light, they'd all go mad. Wash can't carry the load alone!)

Other things about Kaylee: She's the Captain's pet, she's quite young, and her mechanic skills come from instinct, not training. This suggests a certain degree of confidence in herself. (As does her pursuit of Simon Tam- her reaction to his continued evasions is frustration with HIM, not doubt in herself.) She's not puritanical about sex (to borrow a phrase from Inara) and isn't ashamed of pursuing the pleasures of the flesh- she does everything but strip naked and chase Simon around the cargo bay.

* Jayne: He's the muscle of the crew, a mercenary. He's in it ("it" being...life in general) for the money, honey. He likes guns, booze, a good bar fight, and sex. He doesn't think before he talks; sometimes he doesn't seem to think at all. He's impatient, rude, and would eat a bullet before he'd admit that he's as in love with Serenity as anyone else on board.

There are deeper layers to him, of course, which he does his best to hide, but if I get going on that subject we'll be here for years. (I went on about it over here, at idol_reflection.)Suffice it to say: It takes some coaxing to see the softer side of Jayne.

Canon and Subtext and Projecting, Oh My
The most obvious side of the canon relationship between Jayne and Kaylee is comfortable crewmates. They've both been on Serenity for some time before the series starts, and they work together well. One piece of equipment that appears in several episodes is a harness system on a winch, which they use to lower Jayne onto moving objects or over crowds of angry townspeople. Kaylee's in charge of the machine. There has to be a fairly significant amount of rapport- dare I say, even trust?- between them for Jayne to put his life in her hands like that.

In the very first episode, Jayne cracks a crude joke at Kaylee's expense. But this same episode contains several of the sweet little moments between them that make me sing the song of ship. Most obviously, when Simon is operating on Kaylee's gunshot wound, the camera pulls out to show Jayne huddled on one of Serenity's catwalks, looking down into the infirmary. Later, when Mal decides they need to get the engines ready for "full burn" (and that to do that, they need Kaylee in the engine room), Jayne carries her down there. Of course, she's in no shape to do the actual preparations, so she talks Jayne through the mechanic-ing. He gets flustered and impatient; she cooly and calmly tells him to settle down and listen to her. And he does it. He doesn't get angry, he doesn't shout or throw things; he just follows her instructions. He trusts her to walk him through it.

Really, the first three episodes of Firefly are spent in getting to know the characters and their relationships, so I'll go through all three before I sum up my view of their pre-series rapport. In "The Train Job," they banter while setting up the previously mentioned harness/winch device. Simon joins in with some questions, which Kaylee answers pleasantly and Jayne mocks. Then he adjusts his little helmet/goggle thing, looks at her, and says with a slight excess of drama, "Time for some thrilling heroics." She's somewhat less than impressed by his oh-so-tragically masculine posturing. But then, she's used to him.

"Bushwhacked" has only a slight moment, but it's telling: In the teaser, the crew plays some basketball-type game in the cargo bay. More teasing, more banter, and then Kaylee gets up on Jayne's shoulders to reach the hoop/basket. Again, the contrast between them in size and manner is adorable. Again, he's gentle and careful that she doesn't fall.

So. Based on those three episodes, what can we conclude? I read it as Jayne having a bit of a crush on little Miss Kaylee. Even the too-far teasing in "Serenity" fits into this, in the classic fourth-grade "if you like her, tease her till she cries!" way. She doesn't hold any grudges over it, and he's too awkward with all that mushy stuff to pursue it past that fourth-grade level. At the very least, he has an older brother's protective feelings toward her.

In the rest of the series' run, the focus was on developing the Kaylee/Simon romance, so there wasn't much textual Jayne/Kaylee. Still, that's what fandom is for, isn't it- finding the faintest shreds of subtext and blowing them up to poster size? Of course it is.

-"Shindig": The look on his face when he sees Kaylee as Badger's hostage, and the way Zoe knows that that sight will be enough to put a halt to any arguments about shooting anybody.
-"War Stories": Kaylee walks in on Wash and Zoe getting their guns ready.
Kaylee:"What's going on?"
Zoe:"We're going to go get the Captain."
Kaylee: "Oh, good." ::turns to Jayne:: "Can they do that?"
Jayne, with a look of pure disgust: "NO."
It's the tiniest of moments, but the way she turns to him on "Can they do that?" warms a shipper's heart. Well, this shipper, anyway.
-"Trash": Working together to reprogram the garbage drone; more of the dangerous grunt work side by side.
-"The Message": Kaylee's warm heart shows as she's the first to react to the hat his mother sent him- "I think it's the sweetest hat ever." Of course it is.
Also, in the big showdown between Mal and Tracey, when she gets away from Tracey, she runs and hides behind Jayne. (I told you, any SHRED of subtext...)

Post-Canon?
My personal take on the pairing is that eventually, at some point, Kaylee has to get tired of getting the runaround from Simon (Doesn't she? PLEASE?), and go looking for something completely different. You don't get much more different from Simon than Jayne. Alternatively, Jayne might get tired of WATCHING said runaround, and finally get off his butt and start pursuing Kaylee himself. These are both fun scenarios with lots of potential for cuteness, snarky dialogue, and possibly Simon getting the crap beaten out of him.

Obstacles in their path? Well, Simon. And also Mal, who makes it abundantly clear that he holds Kaylee in very high esteem indeed and Jayne...not so much, with a marked drop following "Ariel." Of course, Kaylee's a big girl and can make her own choices, but Captain Tightpants might have to be reminded of that. The last major obstacle is the fact that, emotionally, Jayne's about twelve years old.

But let's say they do get together; what similarities would they have to bond over? Well, they're the two "working-class" crewmen, for lack of a better term. They come from the rough-and-tumble terraformed planets; they don't have fancy educations or titles; they didn't fight in any war. Neither one of them has the blazing ideals and loyalty to a cause that Mal and Zoe share. They're coming from a similar place and at least to some degree have a common point of view.

Like the rest of the crew, he's protective of her, but knowing that Jayne's at your back is a slightly different thing than having, say, Wash looking out for you. (And I love Wash.) Personally, I believe that Kaylee almost certainly has to feel some traumatic effects after "Objects In Space." Early violated her security and psyche in a very real and deep way. Who could blame her if, after that, she went looking for a safe place?

Also, there's the teeny little fact that she could absolutely wrap him around her little finger and keep him in line with no trouble at all. I have confidence in Kaylee. And if that doesn't have all kinds of potential for hilarity, I just don't know what does.

And in conclusion...really, the main reason Jayne and Kaylee should be together? Because they're pretty. The end.

Resources
Firefly's still a pretty young fandom. It doesn't yet have vast centralized archives catering to certain pairings or genres. So what I'm providing here is a sampler of some Jaylee fics I really enjoyed, plus a few places to find lots and lots of stories.

Expedient and its sequel, Restless, by Ana. (Both NC-17)

Violent Heart by Desert Dragon. (R)

Observation by abelladonna. (PG) (I recommend the ff_fanfic community in general, really.)

Powerful Weapons, Sexy Machines by serrico. (R)

The Firefly section of crack_van's memories. This community rocks for finding a variety of stories from a fandom. There are TONS of stories on that page...unfortunately, not many of them are Jayne/Kaylee. But if you just need a Firefly fix, that's the place to go.

ship_recs. One of the 'ships they...um...rec...is Jayne/Kaylee. The "Firefly" section of the memories has a number of great stories, including the first two listed above.
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Comments

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Nice essay - I've not really read any Jaylee (and can I say I love that name for the ship!) but will after reading this!
Thanks! :)

And if you seek any out, my work here is done...
Beautiful job on the essay, thanks!

FWIW I have a J/K scene in a story I'm working on--I don't think Kaylee would take Jayne at all seriously, but I bet she'd agree with him that a good thrust is more fun than watching the paint dry.

Also FWIW although my icon shows what I *wish* would happen I think that if the series had proceeded it would have been M/K, S/I. Because Mal ain't any that much less working class than Kaylee (or as much older than he likes to believe--Kaylee is a young woman but a woman nonetheless).
I don't think Kaylee would take Jayne at all seriously, but I bet she'd agree with him that a good thrust is more fun than watching the paint dry.
Well, yes, there is that aspect of the pairing, LOL. The two people onboard who can say, "What's the big deal? It's just sex, for crying out loud!"

As for Mal...well, in my view, he's too deeply in love with his own pain and disillusionment to let anybody in, at least at his mental state in canon. Kind of like Angel in that respect...::snuggles poor angstridden Mal::
Completely agree.
Personally I always thought that a large part of Jayne's antagonism towards Simon stemmed from the fact that Simon got Kaylee shot and then didn't help her without resorting to blackmail. I also thought that Jayne was jealous.

As for het pairings I go with all the canon ones, except I am biased for Jayne's sake, meaning if Jayne wants Simon he can have him, and if he wants Kaylee, he can have her, and now my brain wonders if anyone has ever written a threesome fic that's K/J/S. Hmmm.
and now my brain wonders if anyone has ever written a threesome fic that's K/J/S. Hmmm.

'Scuse me, I was drooling a little...any chance that can make your list of "stuff to write someday"? ;)
aylee has to get tired of getting the runaround from Simon (Doesn't she? PLEASE?)

Word. :D
I may be projecting a bit, since in high school I was the one chasing that certain snobby boy around like a puppy and constantly getting shot down...::le sigh:: But still, c'mon, Kaylee, where's your backbone? It appears briefly ("Safe," "The Message") and then goes away again...
We needed more episodes, is what the problem is. Damn you, Fox.
I'm a die-hard Rayne shipper, but I do have a fondness for Jaylee fics as well. There's a certain common class understanding between them. And really, no one probably understands how much Jayne loves his guns, or Kaylee her engines as the other person does.

Great job!
Really, it should be "Jayne/Kaylee/inanimate objects": OT3.
Kaylee/Serenity is a pretty love story as well...
Thanks. :)
Very nice essay. And Captain Disillusionment and the Repression Kids is hillarious. Also likes the point about their class similarity, which I hadn't thought of before.
I'm still trying to figure out how to fit that text on an icon. I need a better/shorter adjective than "repression." :) Thanks!
Thanks. :) ::snuggles you:: By the way, want to beta some Jaylee porn when it's done? It's what I work on when "Homestead" refuses to cooperate...which is all the freakin' time. I blame Mal. It's all his fault.
This 'ship makes me absolutly giddy and I can never really explain why (especially since I rarely go for UC pairings). You did a great job pinpointing all the little reasons, and made some interesting points about both characters - opposites, but more than what they seem, and have more in common than you'd expect. Have you watched the dvd commentary for "Serenity"? Joss points out that Jayne goes straight for the Fed after he shoots Kaylee, and between this, watching over the operation, and the teasing at the dinner table (i.e. his jealousy of Simon), it's pretty clear he's got a little crush. So yeah, I blame (and alternately, thank) Joss for my Jaylee love. :)
I usually avoid commentaries (I hate it when they say something that contradicts my little worldview) but I've heard so many interesting things about the "Serenity" one that I might have to give in and watch it.
But knowing that we're on the Side of Joss is nice. :)
And I adore your icon. Perfect text and image. Awwww.
You know, you'd pretty much sold me on this ship already - and it's damn hard to sell me on UC's (it took my best friend in the whole world at least a month of constant debate to get me to see one). But there's something about Jayne/Kaylee that just has irresistable appeal. (Also, Joss oretty much says right out the Jayne has a crush on Kaylee in the commentary for Serenity, and that's the kind of validation I love!)

But, really, if you hadn't? This essay may have. You point out exactly the best parts of both them and why they'd be so compatible. It seems natural. And that's a great thing.
Nice to know that I am on the Side of Joss. :) I'm going to have to cave and watch the commentary, aren't I?
Thanks!
Great essay on my second fav ship in the Firefly 'verse! (My first of course is Kaylee/Inara. ::points at her icon::) But I just love love love both Kaylee and Jayne so very much. I think you captured a lot of what I see in the pairing.

And thanks for the rec!
Mm, pretty icon. What about...hey, Kaylee/Jayne/Inara. ::pause for giggle fit:: Wow, now that would have some awkwardness, wouldn't it? And also, Mal's head would explode.
Jayne/Kaylee has *always* been in my head, especially since that whole "watches her get operated on" thing. *points to icon* Nicely written.
I love that scene. I got my brother hooked on Firefly when I was home for Christmas, and he couldn't figure out why I was squealing like an idiot at that moment. "It's supposed to be TENSE, what's wrong with you?" "Shut up, it's just my OTP..."
Thanks. :)
I tried to post a long comment and LJ ate it.

so I'll just say -- great work, you're absolutely write about the infirmary scene in Serenity and as for this:

Still, that's what fandom is for, isn't it- finding the faintest shreds of subtext and blowing them up to poster size?

Word!
Dude, have you read the script for the unfilmed episode? It's here -- full of great Jayne/Kaylee moments.

[going to a fair]
Kaylee puts one arm through Book, another through Jayne.

KAYLEE
You can win me stuff.


...and some fabulously suggestive dialogue about Jayne's floppy turtle. Yes, seriously. :)

Any way -- great essay! I especially liked the breakdown of canon moments, many which I hadn't noticed before. And your point about Kaylee getting sick of Simon's constant noncommittance is excellent.
I just found that script yesterday...and it KILLED me. "Why couldn't this have been canon? WHYYYYYY?"
I'm cautiously optimistic about the movie...fingers crossed...
And thanks. :)
I love your thought about Jayne being like the boy in fourth grade who teases you because he likes you.
Thanks. I figure, emotional-maturity wise...yeah, fourth grade's about right. ;)
Based on those three episodes, what can we conclude? I read it as Jayne having a bit of a crush on little Miss Kaylee.
Not just you. Doesn't Joss himself say that in the "Serenity" commentary?

Great essay, I think you made some very good points.
He does say it straight out. Which, in my little world, means it's so canon.
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