Author: babies stole my dingo (agilebrit)
Rating: PG-13 (default)
Length: Short story (a little over 2000 words)
Disclaimer: Joss is the genius behind these characters; I am but a lowly follower. I make no money from any of this, so please don't sue me.
Feedback: Concrit adored! If you see something that can be improved upon, please let me know, even if it's only a typo.
Written for: friend_fic, a multi-fandom friendship-between-members-of-the-opposi
Notes: What does Kaylee know about guns? Mal gives Jayne an assignment to teach her. Takes place post-BDM. Many thanks to the Hubby and bigsciencybrain for their valuable feedback and input.
Who the hell's bright idea was it to give Kaylee a gorram gun? Jayne wondered.
Girl was a ruttin' genius when it came to engines, but damn if she weren't more useless than tits on a bull when it came to a firefight. She was all freakin' out, hyperventilatin', hell, she'd almost shot her own foot--not to mention the fact that Mal was right in her line of fire. Jayne rolled over to her position, with bullets sprayin' all around, and took the gun out of her hand. "Kaylee!" he shouted at her.
Her eyes looked like saucers. "I-I-I'm sorry, Jayne. I ain't brave like you and Zoe."
"Sure y'are." He fired a few shots through the open doorway of Serenity's cargo hold. "In just a few seconds, Mal and Zoe are gonna come through that door with our paycheck, and you're gonna close it behind 'em, and then the Crazy Girl's gonna get us the hell offa this rock."
"Close it? But the--" She gestured across the room. Bullets flew between her and the door control.
"I'll cover you. Trust me to do that?"
Her chin bobbed with quick, jerky nods. "I reckon."
"All right." He squeezed her shoulder. "You can do it." Mal and Zoe dove into the room, hollering for River to take off; and Jayne stood up, spraying the doorway with gunfire over the Cap'n's head. "Go!"
Kaylee sprinted over to the door control and hit the button that raised the airlock. Then she fell to the floor, shrieking in fear, as a last fusillade bombarded them. Jayne darted over to her. "You hurt? You hit?"
"No, no," she panted. "I'm all right. Just...scared."
"You done just fine, little Kaylee. Just fine. We get paid?" he hollered at Mal.
"We got paid," Mal answered.
"Well, ain't that a piece of mercy, anyhow."
"Kaylee and guns don't mix," Jayne told Mal later that night in the kitchen, over drinks. River'd found them a nice safe desert canyon to land in, with no people around for miles and miles. "The girl is worse than useless in a firefight."
"We needed the extra gun, Jayne. River had to fly the boat."
"We don't need a extra gun if it's gonna be aimed at your back, Mal." Jayne looked at him over the rim of his mug. "She damn near shot you. Then where would we-a been?"
Mal slouched back. "That would surely have put a crimp in the plan, no doubt about that."
"Someone needs to teach her to shoot, if you're gonna insist on usin' her that way anymore."
"All right." Mal quirked an eyebrow. "You do that."
"Me?" Jayne protested. "But I--"
"You." Mal nodded firmly. "No arguments. Start in the morning. Sooner is better."
"Shiny." Jayne drained his cup, rose to his feet, and stalked out of the room.
Kaylee walked into the dining room and stopped dead. Jayne sat next to her spot at the table, and a gun, in pieces, graced her place setting. Another one, also in pieces, lay in front of him, and an intact pistol was positioned between their places. "What in the tain xiode is this?" she asked.
"Mal's got a job for me an' you." Jayne didn't look happy.
Wary, she eyed the guns. "What kinda job?"
"I'm to teach you about hitting what you aim at, and you're to learn." He raised his hand, stopping her objection. "I know, you don't want to learn that. And I ain't sure you ought to, to be honest. But there's times when we gotta put a gun in your hand, little girl, and I'd just as soon not have to worry about gettin' shot by a good guy whilst we're gettin' shot at by bad ones."
That was fair, she thought, sitting down. However, she was careful not to touch the weapon, or any of the parts. "I don't like guns. They scare me, Jayne, and I ain't ashamed to say so."
"They scare ya because you don't understand them." He patted the intact pistol. "You see 'em as killin' machines."
"Well, ain't they?"
"They can be used thataway," he agreed. "But...Serenity talks to you, right? Machines, and your tools, they're second nature to you. This--" He pointed at the gun. "--is just another tool. Just another machine. You just gotta let it talk to you without bein' all scared of it."
Kaylee tilted her head, considering. She hadn't thought of it that way before. "I might could do that."
Some tension seemed to go out of his body when she said that. "All right, look," he said, as she sat down, "see all these bits 'n' parts? Each one of 'em has a function. Some of 'em has got more'n one. What we're gonna do is put these two guns back together again, and once we do, they'll look like this one here."
"Okay. Where do we start?"
Jayne began to show her how it went together, explaining the function of each part--and suddenly it clicked for her. She started getting ahead of him, her hands instinctively connecting the pieces like a three-dimensional puzzle. Seemed like no time at all, and she had an assembled gun in front of her that she'd built herself.
Jayne grinned at her in a pleased manner. "That was mighty fine. Now, obviously, it ain't loaded, 'cause you just put it together. But don't never take no one's word for that; always check it person'ly. No clip in it, and pull the slide back like this--" He demonstrated. "No round in the chamber. So it's safe for you to handle."
It really was an elegant little gadget, she thought. "Can we go out and shoot them?" she asked eagerly.
"You sure?" he asked, surprised. She nodded, and he shrugged, rising to his feet. "All right." He grabbed a box of ammo and some tin cans from the trash to use as targets, and they headed out into the desert.
Jayne set the cans up on some handy rocks close to the walls of the canyon they were parked in, and then backed up about twenty-five yards. He loaded the gun for her, showing her how to chamber a round without chambering the round himself, and then unloaded it and had her go through the motions several times with an empty clip before handing her a magazine that had actual bullets in it. "Keep it pointed either at the ground or straight up. Don't point it at anything you ain't willin' to shoot."
She learned quick. Seeing the weapon as a machine changed her outlook on it, and she didn't take long to figure it out. No one'd ever taken the time to teach her about this stuff before; they'd just given her a gun and expected her to know how to use it. She'd known which end the bullets came out of, but that was about it. Jayne was showing her how to stand, how to line up the sight, and even how to pull the trigger. "Don't jerk it, squeeze it. Slow and easy."
The gun bucked in her hands, and a puff of dust on the cliff face told her that she'd missed her first can high and to the left. "Tiny correction," he told her. "Aim for the center of mass. I ain't teachin' you sharpshootin', here."
Kaylee took aim and squeezed the trigger, and the can flew up in the air. She turned to Jayne with a big grin. "Shiny!"
"That was real good." His grin was just as big. "Try 'er again."
She aimed at the next can down the line, and it bounced back with a satisfying twang. The gun became an extension of her arm as she fired at the next three in a row. She was over-anxious and missed the last two, but not by much.
"Settle down," Jayne advised. "Take it slow. We ain't in no hurry here."
Kaylee breathed in deeply a few times, steadying her nerves. Over the next couple-or-three hours, she went through most of the box of ammunition, and by the time she was done, the cans were riddled with holes and she was hitting ninety percent of what she aimed at. Also, her ears were ringing and her hands were sore, but that just told her that she'd been doing good work.
Jayne was impressed. "Told you you'd take to it, you gave yourself a chance."
"Just another machine, like you said." She gave him a bright smile, which disappeared when she looked behind him. "Jayne--"
He spun around, reaching for the gun at his hip. He was a fast draw, but not fast enough to completely avoid the bullet that had already been fired by one of the men on a hovercraft, which had pulled into the narrow valley Serenity was hid in. The slug slammed into his right shoulder and knocked him to the ground. His gun skittered away.
Everything he'd taught Kaylee today came down to this point, here and now. Her brain shifted into automatic, and she brought her pistol around.
"When you're in a firefight, keep shooting at your target until it's either down or your clip is empty," Jayne said.
"Don't that waste ammo?"
"Would rather see you waste ammo than waste your life. Don't give your enemy a chance to think. Bullets flyin' every which way is a powerful incentive to get the hell out of Dodge and makes the brain freeze up. You've seen that yourownself." She had to acknowledge that as bein' truthsome. "All right then. We can always get us more ammo. There's only one of you."
Almost clinically, she picked the one who'd shot Jayne as the more immediate threat. Her finger squeezed the trigger several times until the man went down. She shifted her aim to his partner, who was yelling something she couldn't make out.
Not that she cared. These he chusheng zajiao de zanghuo had shot Jayne and were making a fair attempt at herself, she noted, as a puff of dirt rose at her feet and fragments of something peppered the legs of her coveralls below her knees. She fired again and again, beginning to wonder if she would ever hit the second man, when the driver slewed the hovercraft around and sped away, just as the hammer clicked on the empty chamber of her gun.
Jayne swore on the ground, clutching his shoulder. Kaylee knelt beside him and pried his fingers away. "Oh, that's not good. We'd better get Simon to look at it."
"Gorram it," Jayne gritted out between his teeth, standing up with her. "Whyn't you take cover? They coulda kill't you. And then I woulda got in trouble. Your legs is bleedin'."
She felt her eyes go huge. "I didn't even think to. Oh my God..." Her knees wobbled; reaction was setting in. "Did I kill that man...?"
He grabbed her around the shoulders with his good arm. "Easy there. You didn't do nothin' wrong, other than just stand still and get shot at." She gave him a weak smile, and they walked into the ship together. "Guess I'll have to teach you about dodgin' and weavin' next," he said.
She put a comradely arm around his waist. "Maybe after River gets us off this yúchûn rock. I think those men were mad about our last job."
"They did look familiar, at that, didn't they?"
Simon ran down the stairs into the cargo hold. "River said there was troub--Kaylee! Your legs!"
"That ain't nothin'. See to Jayne's shoulder first."
Simon seemed to notice the mercenary for the first time. "Oh! Yes, that looks bad, but are you sure?"
His concern for her was sweet, but misplaced, she thought, so she gave him a Look. "Yes, I'm sure. Shoo."
Jayne stopped for a second. "We need to clean them guns, after. Clean weapons is accurate weapons."
"Okay." She smiled up at him. "Jayne? It was fun, other than the gettin' shot at part, and I learned a lot."
"Any time." His voice was gruff. "You're an all-right student, little Kaylee. You done good."
"Let's get to the infirmary," Simon said. "You're...really bleeding."
Kaylee's eyes followed them out of the room. During their whole lesson, Jayne hadn't patronized her, hadn't made any crude remarks, and had treated her as though he thought she could actually learn this stuff. It was refreshing. "Thanks, Jayne," she said softly.
tain xiode: All that's proper
he chusheng zajiao de zanghuo: Filthy fornicators of livestock