I turn slowly as Jay comes out of his small bedroom in the RV. His face is paler than normal, and he’s not wearing his dark glasses or carrying his case, unseeing eyes wide and filled with broken light that seemed more fractured than normal.
“Kiddo,” I say carefully, because there is something in his voice.
“I’ve seen you do things,” he says. “Big things, even breaking time because some people were really mean –” and he doesn’t say it as meany, doesn’t call me jaysome “– but I’ve been listening to the news and – and – and –.”
“I know,” I say softly.
“You didn’t –. You haven’t –.” He falls silent, pain a spasm across his face.
“There are limits, Jay. To what I can do, no matter how angry I am, no matter how much power I draw forth. Magicians only touch the local area around them, because once an event is big, once it’s echoes are too large, magic isn’t enough anymore. The more people who know an event happened, the harder it is to change it. And the more dangerous it can be for everyone concerned. Sit,” I say softly, and he sits beside me in the table. “There was a shooting of students not long enough ago, and people started with conspiracies. Ugly ideas, that it was all actors, that it wasn’t real. Perhaps because a magician tried to unmake it and failed to do so. Grief echoes in odd directions, and conspiracies are a comfort to those who want to see order in the universe. To have some group to blame. It’s not always like that, but sometimes – sometimes all magic does it make things worse.”
“I can do big bindings,” Jay offers up very softly.
“For votes?” I ask, since he’s been obsessed over that for days. It doesn’t win even the hint of a grin. I reach an arm around him gently. “I know you could. But where would you stop, Jay? If you stopped every bad bindings, if you unmade every broken binding in the world, people wouldn’t be people anymore. They might be better, but they wouldn’t be them anymore.”
“But – but –.” He trembles, and buries his head against my arm. “I want to fix things,” he whispers, and it has more force than some screams.
“Power has limits, Jay, or it would be something else entirely. Even you have limits,” I say as softly as he whispered, knowing he can hear me. “Sometimes all we can do is pick up the pieces after events, and try to help make a world where they don’t happen again. Every day you make a friend, you change the world. The sad part is that we always know when we fail. We don’t always know when we succeed, because if we do it’s often quiet, soft, gentle. All we can do is hope the successes outlast the failures. That people can grow from loss, even if they never should have to grow in such ways at all.”