I wait outside the small cave I had Jay put Doctor Henderson in. The doctor worked for Station Alpha, part of a Project designed to understand magicians – by capturing them and examining their DNA, so in effect not understanding us at all. They did manage to capture me at least, so I considered that a small point in their favour. Jay and Charlie did not, and Jay decimated their forces en route to rescuing me. Which is one reason I’ve told him he can question the doctor; I’m listening in, but I’m not sure Jay even notices.
“You tried to hurt Honcho,” Jay says, voice tight with fury.
“Please. Please,” Henderson says.
There is pressure in the cave, reality shuddering against the weight of something too big for this dimension to contain. “Honcho is my friend,” Jay says with awful calm.
“Ah. Ah. Don’t. Please, don’t. I have a family –.”
“Honcho is my family,” Jay screams, his voice a roar in the air. I feel power gather, bindings shuddering as the air screams for a moment and then it is gone, still, repaired as Jay comes out of the cave slowly. He looks like an ordinary pale boy of about eleven, but his usual irrepressible grin is gone and he walks slowly over to me.
“I wasn’t being jaysome,” he says in a small voice, staring down at his bare feet.
“No. No, you weren’t. You can’t afford to get angry like I do, Jay. Not like people can.” I reach over and gently raise his chin as he sniffs. “You can’t let fear or hate drive you, not toward actions or away from them. Or you’ll become something that isn’t jaysome at all.”
Jay bites into his lower lip and manages a small nod. “I was mad.”
“I noticed. I think Henderson did too.”
That wins a startled look, then: “That wasn’t an oops. I meant to – to scare him. To hurt him. I don’t like that,” he adds, softer still.
“I know. You want to make it up to him?”
Jay is quiet at that for almost a minute. “I don’t think he’d want to be friends with me. I hurt him, Honcho. Even if I fix the bindings, it won’t change –.” He hiccups.
“Even for me and Charlie, there are things you should not do,” I say. “Henderson wasn’t the only prisoner in the cave.”
Jay’s eyes widen and he nods slowly.
“There are prisons that people choose to leave inside,” I say. I think someone said that to me once, a lifetime ago. Before I was a magician, and before many other things as well. “But sometimes they are good things. Honour is a prison, kindness another. Being jaysome can be, too, but some prisons are important. Sometimes the walls we make are all that hold us together, Jay.”
Jay sniffs, and I brace myself as he slams into me for a hug, holding him for several minutes. “Go. I’ll help Henderson and –.”
“No.” Jay pulls back, straightening his shoulders. “I did this, so I’m going to fix him.” And he turns and walks back into the cave as Henderson lets out a shrill and barely human sound at the sight of him. Jay flinches, lets out a pained gasp, but he keeps going.
I wait. I can do that much, even if I can do more. Sometimes all we can do is wait and hope others manage to find a way to open the doors of another’s cell, especially if they have made the prison in the first place.