Once, when Jayne was a kid, he threw a rock at the crazy old woman who lived behind the saloon in town. She dressed in rags
and her hair was a mess- she wasn’t a lady, she didn’t have any rights over him, and it was funny to watch her
jump and screech when it hit.
Mama smacked him so hard he saw stars. She gave the old woman a whole credit plus half the loaf of bread she’d bought
for dinner, then grabbed his arm and dragged him down the street toward home.
“Don’t never sin against a witch, Jayne,” she told him. “You cross a witch, she’ll get even.
They’ve got ways of hurtin’ that you’ve never dreamed.”
Now he stands in the shadows of Serenity’s cargo bay, watching River and Kaylee play one of their games. His back still
aches from the fall he took trying to rig up the garbage drone, but that hardly crosses his mind. He’s thinking about
River’s eyes when she looked at him from the infirmary doorway. Her eerie words and funny smiles and the way she seems
to know things that there just ain’t no way she can know.
He’s thinking that he should’ve listened better to his mama, because he’s gone and sinned against a witch
again. Right now she’s biding her time, but there might not be enough credits in the ‘verse to buy her forgiveness,
or any power that can save him if she decides to get revenge.