Dreams of Stars (A Once Upon a Time/Jiminy Cricket fanfic)

This is a New Character fanfiction of "Once Upon a Time", and it's written to be parallel with the original show. It adds backstory to Jiminy and Geppetto.

I've added my own character to "Once Upon a Time"--the girl from this old English fairy tale, "The Stars in the Sky": http://www.essentia.com/book/stories/skystar.htm

In the Enchanted Forest, the little girl--named Kaelin--became friends with Jiminy Cricket in her quest to reach the stars. In Storybrooke, she's 17 and named Bridget, and she has to see Dr. Archie Hopper for her serious struggles with feelings of failure and lack of confidence.

Recommended for people who have watched "Once Upon a Time", but if you haven't, this might get you hooked on it. Just be careful--there are spoilers. ;)

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16. Enchanted Forest

            Seven long years passed in the orphanage. Kaelin and Geppetto were teenagers now, and soon they would be old enough to leave. Kaelin desperately wanted to leave. Nothing ever let up in that place, nothing ever got better. She was still constantly being scolded. She was told she hadn’t improved at all, and though she had tried her best to do something about it, she blamed herself. Kaelin was convinced now, in the face of all the evidence, that she would never amount to anything. Even so, though she wasn’t sure how a fool like her could support herself outside the orphanage, she wanted out. She had always wanted out. She cried so often now, but secretly, because the orphanage workers hated crying.

            Despite all this, a small part of Kaelin didn’t want to leave. She didn’t want to part ways with Geppetto. Since she was a little older than him, she would have to leave first. Geppetto was still her best and only true friend, and Kaelin had already felt what it was like to leave the only person who cared about her. Besides, as long as she was with Geppetto, Kaelin was still able to hold onto the slim hope that she would see Jiminy Cricket again. Jiminy was looking for Geppetto.

            Then, one night, it happened. Kaelin was asleep in her hard bed. She was deeply asleep and dreaming, but somewhere near her, a cricket chirped. Kaelin’s eyes snapped open. Over the years, she had trained herself to listen for that sound. There were plenty of crickets outside, but a nearby chirp could mean Jiminy was there.

            Kaelin didn’t move yet, staring into the darkness and letting her eyes adjust to the starlight. Her heart was pounding with hope, yet that hope was tinged with cynicism. It was an old, familiar false hope. Ordinary crickets had made it into the upstairs room plenty of times before, but every time, Kaelin had been assaulted with this painful hope. Each time, she hadn’t given up until she had confirmed it wasn’t Jiminy.

            Dreading an hour of futile searching and possibly a whipping if she was caught, Kaelin sat up slowly in bed. “Jiminy,” she called quietly. It was the softest whisper she could manage, but it sounded like thunder in the silent room.

            The chirping stopped. So did Kaelin’s heart.

            No, she told herself, not wanting to make it worse, It’s not that he’s here, and that he recognizes the name. The cricket was just scared by my voice. It had happened before.

            Straining her eyes against the darkness, she stared around at the room. “Jiminy,” she repeated.

            “That’s me,” replied a still, small voice.

            Kaelin pressed a hand over her mouth, tears springing to her eyes. This was a dream, surely. But even if it was, she should live it while she could, before she had to wake up. “Where are you?” she whispered, her voice shaking.       

            “Over here,” the voice said, and Kaelin thought it was coming from behind her. She turned and crawled across her bed, leaning over the side and searching for the source of the voice. When she looked toward the leg of the bed closest to window, she caught her breath.

            There, in the corner formed by the leg of the bed and the wall, sat a small figure. It was dark, but the figure had the shape of a coat over its shoulders, and it seemed to carry an umbrella under its arm. “Jiminy…” Kaelin faltered.

            The slim cricket stood up on its hind legs and walked slowly towards her, into a shaft of moonlight, watching her warily. “A-are you…?”

            Kaelin let out a breath that was half-laugh and half-sob. “It’s Kaelin!” she gulped. She smiled warmly and held out her hands to him.

            Jiminy fluttered up and landed in her palms. He was smaller than she remembered. As he searched her face, there was still a certain humble nervousness in his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he said at last, “I-I’ll go.”

            “No!” Kaelin gasped, hugging him to her shoulder, “No, don’t you ever go again. I’ve been waiting for you!”

            “Me? Why? How?” came the bewildered answer.

            “Geppetto’s here,” Kaelin replied through her tears, turning and holding him toward the bed beside hers where the thin, dark-haired, teenage boy slept, “Your Geppetto. You’ve found him, Jiminy.”

            For a long time, the cricket was silent, gazing at the boy. Then he fluttered his wings with joy and flew down onto the bed. Standing there beside Geppetto’s shoulder, he hesitated again. It seemed he was holding his breath. Cautiously, Jiminy slid his wings over each other, producing a tiny, bell-like chirp. He paused, then chirped again, this time more confidently. Taking one more, deep breath, he leaned toward the boy’s ear and whispered, “Geppetto.” His voice caught at the end, as though saying the name aloud was almost too much for him.

            Geppetto’s eyes flickered open, and he sat up quickly. He looked over at Kaelin, not even noticing the cricket beside him. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

            “It’s not me, it’s him,” Kaelin whispered, laughing a little and nodding toward the cricket on his bed, “That’s Jiminy—the one you gave your umbrella to.” 

            Geppetto looked down, starting a little when he saw Jiminy. Then he frowned. “What do you mean?”

            “That’s right, it’s me,” Jiminy said softly, “I’m Jiminy.”

            Geppetto faced Kaelin again, searching her face desperately. “What do you mean?” he repeated, a panicky tone coming into his voice.

            “We should go outside,” Kaelin said, “Someone might hear us.”

            Geppetto agreed, so Kaelin picked up Jiminy, and they snuck out of the room. Through experience, they had learned how to avoid all the creaky spots on the stairs, so they made it into the dining room with hardly a peep and slipped out the back door. Once outside, they were able to breathe more freely, but they walked all the way across the yard to the edge of the forest, just to be safe.

            “Tell me what’s going on,” Geppetto demanded, as soon as it was safe to talk.

            Kaelin held Jiminy out to Geppetto. Understanding the gesture, Geppetto cupped his hands and allowed the cricket to hop into them. Jiminy clasped the umbrella humbly in his hands. “Yes, my name is Jiminy. I am the same person who turned your parents into puppets,” he confessed. It clearly took an immense amount of bravery for him to say this, but he had waited for this moment for so long, “It was a mistake, and I’m sorry. I’m truly, deeply sorry. I wish with all my being that I could bring your parents back to you, but what’s done is done, and not even magic can bring back the dead.

          “Geppetto, you were the first person to show me simple kindness, and for that I’m forever grateful…” he choked on his words, but forced himself to go on, shaking his antennae, “Oh, Geppetto, the night that it happened, I wanted to die too. I stood outside and wished and wished for your parents to live again, but no amount of wishing was enough. Then the Blue Fairy came, and she granted me a different wish. She changed me into a cricket, and commissioned me to find you…to help you…as a way of repaying my debt. I beg you to forgive me.”

          Geppetto stared at Jiminy silently for a long time. His face was tense, and his dark eyes burned, but Kaelin couldn’t read his expression. Was it horror, anger, love? Jiminy was also still and silent, his head lowered, waiting for the reply. He had said all he could.

          Then, at last, Geppetto spoke in a low, gruff voice: “Your debt to me can never be fulfilled.”

          Jiminy met his eyes.

          “I’ve lost too much,” Geppetto said, “You have no idea what it’s like here. I’m living in this hell-hole because of you. Because of you, they’re gone! I can’t forgive you!” His voice rose to a shout.

          Jiminy took a few trembling steps back, shaking his head. “N-no…” he stammered in horror, “I need your forgiveness. Without it, how can I…”

          “Well, I need my parents,” Geppetto snapped, “But I can’t have them.” He turned his hands so that Jiminy fell through them. Too stunned to remember to use his wings, Jiminy hit the ground painfully.

          Geppetto turned to Kaelin. “What do you know about this?” he demanded, “You seemed to know him. How?”

          “When my mother was ill, he and his parents sold me fake medicine,” Kaelin replied quietly, “But then, after he became a cricket, he helped me when I was trying to save her. I’m grateful to him.”

          “What are you going to do now?”

          “I want to stay with him,” Kaelin admitted, “All this time, I’ve been waiting for him…”

         “Well, it’s either him or me.”

         “Geppetto, you’re my dearest friend,” Kaelin said pleadingly.

         “Right. So it’s either your dearest friend, or a lying, murdering cricket,” Geppetto returned coldly.

        “Won’t you please forgive him?” Kaelin begged, “He’s sorry. He’s sorry more than anything. Redeeming himself to you is the most important thing to him.” 

        “Kaelin, I told you once, a long time ago, that I wasn’t sure if I could forgive him even if he was very sorry. Now that it comes to it, I’ve found that I can’t. That’s my decision. Now are you coming back with me?” He half-turned to go back to the orphanage.

        Kaelin lowered her head silently in shame.

        “I see,” Geppetto said, watching her, “Then this is goodbye.” And he went away without another word.

        Trembling, Kaelin fell to her knees in the wet grass. Jiminy stared at her in amazement, his black eyes wide. “You’re not going back?”

        Kaelin shook her head.

        “Why not? Why would you stay with me instead of your friend?”

        “I’ve been waiting for you,” Kaelin repeated, “All this time, I’ve been waiting for you, and I would have been looking for you, except I’ve been trapped here.”

        “Why?” Jiminy cried, “Why wait for me after what I did?”

        “Because I’ve forgiven you,” Kaelin said earnestly, “Even that same day you left, I wanted you to come back. I hadn’t forgiven you yet then, but I realized I wanted you by my side. No matter what, you’ve always cared. I ran out looking for you that night, but you were already gone. Then they brought me here.”     

        “I’m sorry,” Jiminy said, “Maybe if I had stayed…”

        “No, don’t say that!” Kaelin cried, picking him up and hugging him, “What’s important is that you’re here now! I thought I’d lost you forever!”

        “Why me?” he asked again, helplessly, “Geppetto couldn’t forgive me…Why do you?”

        “I love you,” Kaelin replied, “Whatever that means to a cricket. I thought about you every day while you were gone. And Geppetto will forgive you too someday. He’s really a kind person…this is just too hard for him.”

       “Thank you, Kaelin,” Jiminy said quietly, “You have no idea what this means to me.”

        Kaelin started crying. “It’s awful here,” she wept, “I can’t do anything right, and the workers all hate me for it. I wish I could do better, but I can’t. I only make everything worse. The workers are angry with me all the time. They whip me and shout at me.”

        She felt little hands squeeze her shoulder. “I’m sorry,” Jiminy said.

        “All I want is to get out of here,” she went on, “But I’m trapped. They won’t let anyone go, and besides, I don’t know how I can live in the outside world when I can’t do anything.”

      “What do you mean you can’t do anything? We made it to the stars together!”

      “Together, yes…” Kaelin fell silent for a long time. She tried to imagine going back inside the orphanage. Maybe Jiminy would stay close by. But the thought of going back there was too horrible to bear now that her deliverance was here. No matter what, she had to get away.

       Then she had an idea. “Hey, Jiminy…” she mumbled, “When you wanted to get away, you wished to become a cricket, right?”

       “Yes,” Jiminy replied.

       Kaelin held him out to look at him. “How can I have my wish granted?”

      “You only have to wish upon a star, I suppose,” Jiminy replied, “That’s what I did.”

       Kaelin lifted her gaze to the sky, picked out a shining, blue star, and made her wish with all her heart. To her amazement, the star descended gently, and she saw that it was the Blue Fairy.

        “I have heard your wish,” the fairy said kindly, “If this is truly what you want, then we will look after you, and we will find someone for you to watch over, too.”

         Setting Jiminy down in the grass, Kaelin stood up and met her eyes. “I truly wish for it,” she responded.

         “Then I grant this wish,” the Blue Fairy said. She waved her wand, and fairy dust came sparkling out of it, covering Kaelin. Everything around her shone through the fairy dust and suddenly seemed to grow larger and larger. A moment later, Kaelin looked down at her hands and saw that they were little, soft, pink paws. Twisting around, she looked back at her long, thin tail. She squeaked with joy.

         “Y-you’re a mouse,” Jiminy said.

         She looked up at him. Standing on his hind legs, he was taller than her, so she stood up too, noticing that she was still wearing her plain, pale yellow dress and white apron. “We’re the same size,” she giggled.

          Laughing, Jiminy pulled her into a hug, pressing a kiss down on her soft head with his funny, cricket mouth. “What are we going to do now?” he asked.

         Feeling freer than she had ever felt in her life, Kaelin replied, “We’ll find a way to help Geppetto!” 

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