A/N: 1) I use faerie tale instead of fairy tale purposefully. 2) 1/700 is the approximate number of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the United States, and I heavily considered using these numbers later on in the chapter. But it wouldn't make sense with the sheer number of babies born in Magica. Smaller population = smaller numbers.
Also, I sincerely apologize for lack of updates. I only get time to write during winter, spring, and summer breaks. However, I still have full intentions to finish this someday.

Edited 1/1/16

Journal - Prop. of B.B.

Following the incident, Zia was afraid. She was afraid of things that she had never considered and never should have been forced to consider. It's one thing to know you're killing yourself slowly, but another to realize you only have a teaspoon of life left to indulge. We were so young. I didn't think it was fair that Zia had to face the consequences of her mistakes as an adolescent.

She refused to go past the Great Hall except to take baths, and even then those were hurried. Baking cinnamon cakes and playing pebble checkers were some of the only things she considered safe activities. Whereas Zia would never have picked up a sketchbook before the fall, she drew picture after picture, regardless of her lack of artistic ability.

And while Zia limited herself, I was more often tempted to escape routine and explore the unexplored. I drew the view from the cliff a thousand times, shaded to match my dynamic moods. I begged Jimil to tell me stories that I didn't know already, but he'd fed me nearly to his limit.

I failed to make the connection that Jimil was also facing the consequences of his mistakes.

While my greediness intensified, the distance grasped my eyes and showed me an impossible independence. I was dissatisfied with the life I was leading. In my dreams, I found freedom. Another obsession grew: this one a yearning for adventure.

But adventure was somewhere I wasn't. I was confined to my tent, confined to my record keeping, and confined to my Clan.

I wondered if Magica were the only realm in existence.

The extraterrestrial Earth was unknown to me. When God placed the fifty men and women into Magica, he instructed them not to share knowledge of the planet Earth with their children. If we forgot, then he could focus more of his attention on Earth without our knowledge. Although Magica was a figment of his imagination, it was also an unwanted figment. It remained a substandard memory and held the second-place position.

Magica always received the short end of the stick because God deemed Earth more important. In fact, God regrets ever having created my home. I know this because he told me.

There's something oxymoronic about a utopia that's destined to die, don't you think?

On the other hand, my addiction to liberation didn't die, lasting even after the transition to Earth. It was a hopeless addiction. I tried to feed it, but life in Magica wasn't based on the freedom of each individual. True freedom does not exist anywhere where someone or something ties you to sanity. As much as I wanted independence, I was always tied to the Ledge Clan. I couldn't escape Zia, nor could I escape Gray or Jimil.

I tried to escape Jimil. After analyzing what we'd become and realizing the inevitable, I tried my best to run away. He had given me a taste of freedom, but his presence only held me back. Jimil was nothing but an affliction. By sticking around, searching for his flaws, and putting up with his tantalizing grin, I wasn't gaining anything.

At first, I didn't understand why I was so reluctant to run away. However, I soon realized that maybe I wasn't only addicted to liberation. Maybe I was addicted to him.

The epiphany frightened me. In my mind, I'd observed multiple moments concerning infatuation, but I pushed them away and refused to acknowledge them. Like the way he sat to close to me sometimes, tracing the contours of my hand. How he would carry water for me. Tell me things about his imagination that nobody else knew. Looking back, I can see the connection that formed between us, and it was beautiful.

On the contrary, I refuse to write much about intimacy. I've never been an intimate person, and I don't see why I'm obligated to describe it. You should discover intimacy for yourself rather than read an inaccurate description of the truth. Besides, it's my personal business.

The infatuation with Jimil was demanding. I became terrified of myself and terrified that I was fooling myself into thinking my feelings were returned. Soon, I was avoiding him. Likewise, I was avoiding Zia, for her precariousness disturbed me. Gray was a close friend, but not close enough to share my inner turmoil with.

I felt lonely. I didn't think freedom would feel so lonely.

If this was growing up, I hated it.

During this period, I developed relationships with people I'd never thought of as friends. I got to know Alexandria and Diedrich in particular, and they were captivating people. Alexandria adored painting and always spent extra hours helping keep records. Diedrich, who was fascinated by agriculture and the environment, created alternatives to the Plains Clan's irrigation methods that would reduce pollution. As our friendships continued, Alexandria and Diedrich would listen to my stories, and they'd tell their own.

Alexandria, I learned, had been bulimic. Diedrich implied something he had with his twin brother. In turn, I told them about my fears, my addictions, my faults and flaws and everything in between. For some reason, I found it easier to open up to them than it was to open up to my best friend of nearly a decade. They listened. Zia didn't always listen.

They also provided answers.

See, my entire life I had sought out my destiny. I sought out flaws that didn't matter, friendship where there was none, and freedom that would never benefit me. Instead, they told me I should let life impact me rather than keep trying to impact my life.

For someone who had always been a control freak, it was a step in the right direction.

I contorted my spine until my arms and hair were dangling untethered into the abyss. The well was cavernous, and it made me think of several faerie tales Zia had engraved into my thoughts. My favorite was the story of Saraya, a woman pushed into one of Magica's water wells as a little girl and assumed dead. But she did not die; after tumbling through the well she emerged in another universe, a realm without magic. Saraya became a healer there until a higher power decided magic shouldn't mix between universes and sent a venomous snake to kill her.

Back then, most residents of Magica didn't believe in faerie tales. Now that I think about it, it probably wasn't a faerie tale at all.

The abyss was tempting. I wondered if I'd end up in another realm if I fell, but also considered being stuck at the bottom of a well shaft until my death. I decided it wasn't worth it. For all I knew, death could be another method of confinement.

Long fingers tapped a pattern on my shoulder, and I jumped, trying to clear my thoughts. As I extracted the upper half of my body from the well, I realized who it was.

"Hello, Bionica," he said with a smile. It was evening, and the sun cast a crimson glow over the Blue River, dousing his face in half a shadow.

"Jimil," I said with a nod, motioning for him to sit with me against the side of the well.

He accepted the invitation, but rubbed his hands nervously on his trousers. "You know I don't do small talk," he said, "and I don't want to be awkward but I suppose… I suppose I owe you some sort of explanation."

"Yes?" I replied.

"Yes," Jimil mumbled. "Well, you know how adamant I was when I tried to expose the truth about… I mean, you tried the friendship route and you've been avoiding me lately, but maybe if you know you'll keep… I'm sorry. I'm sorry! I'm usually better at this." He looked up expectantly, but I didn't have the slightest idea what to say, so I stayed silent.

"Bionica," he began again, "do you remember when I confessed having a- a crush on you?"

By all means! I nodded, still unsure how to react.

"Well, ever since, I've somewhat regretted my decision. We were so young then. I shouldn't have accused you of hiding from me just because I was afraid of telling you. I shouldn't have called you a hypocrite. All I wanted was to become friends with you, and bribery was the only method I could come up with." He took a breath. "I figured if you wanted to know my flaws that badly, I could tempt you with knowledge. I was being an idiot, and I regret not letting our friendship develop naturally. So I wanted to apologize."

I sat, stunned. "What are you apologizing for? I hated you, Jimil- I hated you. I'm glad you finally did something, because I wouldn't have let our friendship develop otherwise. I'm glad you yelled at me when nobody else would." He looked at me skeptically, about to respond, but I cut him off. "And you were right about me hiding from you. I might have hated you for your apparent perfection, but I was also jealous.

"I was jealous that you were better friends with Zia than I was, and jealous you got to grow up in the Marsh Clan with her while I didn't. I'd watch her kiss you on the cheek, and I'd burn inside."

Jimil was shaking his head. "But I didn't have much right to call you out when I was being a hypocrite-"

"Oh, you had every right!" I interrupted. My heart was pounding, and I despised my younger self. I despised her. "A hypocrite can justify calling out a hypocrite, as long as they were practicing hypocrisy first."

"Except," he said, leaning toward me, "I am not only a hypocrite, but a liar. I was infatuated with you, yes, but I called my infatuation a flaw when it wasn't one. Flaws and grievances aren't determined by people: they're determined by actions and occurrences. My infatuation was never a flaw. I was avoiding the truth, and the truth is… the truth is…"

The truth is that once upon a time, Jimil's elder sister was born with a magical imbalance. They happened sometimes. Since the magic God endowed intertwined with our genetic code and these genes could be subjected to mutation, some children were born with deficiencies. One out of every two hundred children were diagnosed, although most who developed the mutation died within six months of being born because of the low magic percentage or some sort of freak accident.

Astraea was born with barely any, he said. She would have lived maybe a year- two years at most. However, Jimil's mother had heard stories of magic transfusions, and because her magic was low from several nasty accidents in the uncharted swamp, she did the only thing she could.

Jimil was born to save Astraea. Moments after his birth, his mother drew from him just enough magic to grant Astraea twenty years, and transferred it to her daughter. Unfortunately, Jimil did not have much to give, and the magical supplement would only save Astraea if she remained safe and sound.

She died when Jimil was five, tripping over her own feet and hitting her head on a rock before drowning in a small pool of water.

Jimil told me this without tears or emotion. He said it how it happened: quickly, sharply, and inevitably. "My mother always told her to be careful, but children aren't careful, Bionica. Suddenly, she was gone. She might have lived if someone had found her, but the magic kept regenerating her life and the water kept taking it. Just like that, and all of the magic went nowhere.

"Now, everything has fallen apart. I've grown and wasted my magic away on things that gave me a rush and made me forget. Now Zia's grown up, and I've put her in the same position as Astraea. I don't know what I've done."

"It isn't your fault," I told him.

"But it is, isn't it?" He looked at me, pleading, as if he wanted me to accuse him of killing his sister and ruining Zia's life. "I've affected everyone. I've affected Zia. I've affected Gray by asking him to jump with me. And I've affected you! I made you do the transfusion with Zia because I don't have enough to go around anymore-"

"Stop it! Stop criticizing your actions. We all have something we regret." I reached out and entangled my fingers with his. "Needless to say, Jimil, you are a very lovely person and don't need to worry about me. I have plenty of magic to sustain myself."

There was a moment where the world was wonderful. As he stared into my eyes I could see him contemplate believing me, but we were both stubborn, and he regretted too much. I saw the lack of shift. Jimil understood that he was born to increase magic, but refused to believe that he hadn't let down the universe by failing to save his sister. I couldn't convince him that he was only human.

He leant over and kissed my cheek swiftly. "Don't be a hypocrite," he whispered.

My heart stung, for it was only friendship.