The problem with being a magician is that you can’t hide behind the truth. Of all the things being a magician takes from a person, often the loss of easy certainties are the hardest to deal with. Jay starts the morning by bouncing – he insists it is boinging – out of the other bed in the motel room, burbling about new adventures and what we might find at a speed that makes me glad I’ve never tried to have him drink coffee. He’s quick, sure, and if you didn’t know what to look for, you might think he could see despite his dark glasses and white cane.
Jay is impossibly good at sensing and altering bindings, to an extent I’ve never run across before or since. Add that to the fact that he is the only creature from Outside the universe I know that can fool magicians into thinking he is entirely human and it’s almost easy to forget he can’t see sometimes. Until he asks about a colour, or pauses in doing something as he adjusts to bindings around us when we’re in a hurry to get things done. He’s trying to hide it, because I’m the reason he can’t see and he knows I blame myself for that.
It was why I left him and Charlie to wander on my own for a time. Left Charlie to deal with Jay’s loss of vision without help. Left her to deal with Jay missing me, which was a worse thing by far. I forget that, sometimes, perhaps because humans have to. Jay bound himself into my service on entering the universe. To him, we are friends, Jay and ‘Honcho’ as best buddies – to the point that he keeps calling me honcho instead of magician even though he no longer has a lisp to confuse that word.
And to Jay, this friendship is immutable. I have used him, have abused his own power – for the greater good, as all ugly necessities often are – and I have damaged him, and altered him, and he doesn’t have it in himself to blame me at all. To get mad at me for going away, yes, but to blame me for hurting him – not now, and not ever. Eventually I will die and he will remain, and he won’t even blame that on me. I get coffee as Jay chats about dinosaurs as if I haven’t see Jurassic World with him a dozen times in the last week.
Jay liked travelling with Charlie, but even he admits – squirming and reluctant – that he’d rather be with me. Because of different kinds of adventures, is how he explains it, but it’s more about what binds us together. And that, he wouldn’t have been able to hide from Charlie for all his trying. I doubt he understands how much that might have hurt her: he is good at sensing bindings, but we can’t sense what we don’t know how to sense, and to Jay it was simply a pure truth so it shouldn’t hurt anyone.
“Kiddo, I’ve been thinking.”
“Uh huh?” he says, drinking his hot chocolate. “Is it about how the dinosaurs died out, because there is a theory about volcanoes that –.”
“No, no it’s not. I’ve been thinking that perhaps Dana and I shouldn’t find a way to restore your sight.”
Jay stops dead at that in surprise, twists his head to stare up toward me. “Honcho?”
There is nothing but confusion in the question. “Given how often you’ve already seem a lot of movies with dinosaurs when you can’t see, you might seem them far too often again when you can and I believe there is only so many times other people might want to see them with you?”
“Charlie said that once, but she was all kidding,” Jay says firmly, then grins, bright and huge. “But you’re right! It would be like seeing them all again and you’re being all kinds of mean with that joke.”
“And if I’m not joking?”
He pokes me with his cane, surprising me. “Then I’ll get all kinds of sad-face and be really sad about it, and maybe even mad too!”
“Maybe?” I repeat.
“Being mad at you would be wrong,” he says, as if that was also an immutable law. “And if you can’t fix it – like really can’t? – I’m totally okay with that, Honcho. I can do lots of things without seeing, and I’ve even been to school and made new friends and helped people with stuff and I’m still me so it would be all kinds of okay!”
And, being Jay, he means every word. “You do know you ruined the joke,” I say, trying to sound as stern as I can.
Jay just giggles at that. “Sometimes being Jaysome means being even better than jokesome,” he says, as if that that makes any kind of sense at all. “What kind of adventures are we having today?”
“We’re looking for Charlie,” I say. “To apologize, to see if she wants to travel with us again, and to look for answers.”
“An ex-magician almost murdered Dana last year; healing that fae cost you your sight. I think we need to know the why of all that before Dana and I can heal it, and the only person I can think to ask is then oldest magician in the world.”
“Oh,” Jay says. I don’t mention Mary-Lee by name, he doesn’t either. “That part of the adventure might not be fun at all?”
“It might not.”
“But the rest will be okay,” he says happily, and says that Charlie left before she could see all the Land Before Time movies after number eleven with him, so we can all do that too when we meet up.