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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20. Enchanted Forest

            The same night that he hired Geppetto, the old woodworker gave him a room to stay in. The woodworker’s shop was also his home, with personal rooms on the second floor and his shop and workroom on the first floor. Geppetto was given the small, plain guest room in the corner, furnished with just a bed and bedside table. The bedframe was beautifully carved, but the mattress was hard and made of straw.

            After Geppetto was asleep, Kaelin retreated into a hole in the wall where she found Jiminy Cricket. “He has a job,” she reported breathlessly, though of course he already knew that.

            “Kaelin, you need to tell him who you are,” Jiminy said seriously.

            Kaelin stopped, a horrible, sinking feeling in her heart. She knew he was right.

            “When I didn’t tell you who I was, that was the thing I felt most guilty about,” Jiminy went on, “Pretending to be someone else isn’t an option. You have to tell him.”

            “I think he already knows,” she mumbled.

            “All the more reason to tell him. If he knows, then he can already see that you’re lying to him, and he’ll be watching to see if you’ll continue lying to him.”

            “All right, I’ll tell him!” Kaelin exclaimed, burying her pointed face in her paws, “I’ll tell him tomorrow. I-it’s just that…I’m afraid he’ll send me away if I do.”

            “I was afraid of that too, when I told you the truth,” Jiminy said.

            “Yes, and I did let you go,” Kaelin pointed out miserably, “When you told me, I didn’t want you to stay at first. I wanted you to go away. What if it’s the same with Geppetto?”

            “I think things may be different between you and Geppetto,” Jiminy replied. He spoke in a measured voice as though carefully considering his words. “You’ve been friends for a long time. Maybe…he is holding a grudge against you for leaving, or maybe he just wants you to come back. If he already suspects you’re Kaelin, and he’s still letting you stay, he could very well just want you by his side again.”

            “I’ll tell him,” Kaelin repeated, but this time it sounded like her own decision, “First thing tomorrow…I-I’ll tell him.”

            However, first thing the next morning, the old woodworker shook Geppetto awake and herded him out to breakfast. Kaelin joined Geppetto and was given some crumbs off the table, but the morning proceeded so quickly that it was a long time before she had a chance to talk with him alone. The woodworker—whose name Kaelin discovered was Francesco—immediately began teaching Geppetto all kinds of things, moving so quickly from one to the other that Kaelin didn’t know how Geppetto could take it all in.

            Finally, the bell at the door rang, and Francesco bustled off into the shop to attend to a customer. Realizing that she and Geppetto were left alone in the workroom, Kaelin’s little heart began to pound rapidly in her chest. This was her chance. This was her chance to tell him who she really was. She opened her mouth, drawing in a frightened breath.

            Geppetto had been left with the project of carving a better starfish based on some tips he had been given. He was focused on the task. An overwhelming fear of interrupting him shook Kaelin, followed by the paralyzing fear of being interrupted. What if Francesco came back in the middle of their important conversation? She didn’t know how long they might be talking. Maybe she should wait until this evening when they were sure not to be interrupted.

            Kaelin closed her mouth. She rode on Geppetto’s shoulder for the rest of the busy day, hardly saying anything.

            Finally, nightfall came, and Francesco left Geppetto in his bedroom. Kaelin’s heart began to pound again, and her breathing quickened. Now was the time to tell him. Now. Now. Now. She tried to recite again in her head the words she had planned to say, but she had forgotten how she had planned to say it. Geppetto…My name’s not really Suzy…Geppetto…Do you know who I really am?...I think…Do you remember…I’m your friend…I’m Kaelin…

            No, it was all wrong. She didn’t know how she would say this, how to begin. Geppetto looked at her with his piercing, dark eyes, and she shrunk back inside. Say something. Now.

            “Thanks for being with me today, Suzy,” Geppetto said, “Goodnight.”

            If she could just reply that she had something to tell him, she could say it. Kaelin opened her mouth, but all that came out was: “Goodnight.”

            Geppetto lay down and pulled the covers up to his neck.

            Actually… ran through Kaelin’s head as she jumped down to the floor and headed toward the hole in the wall, Actually…I have something to tell you. Could we stay up a little longer and talk? She stopped and turned back to look at Geppetto. He couldn’t be asleep already. She could still say something to him. She thought of Jiminy waiting in the hole in the wall, ready to be disappointed in her when she returned without having said anything. The thought of Jiminy’s disappointment was more terrifying than the thought of telling Geppetto the truth. Filled with all the determination she could muster, Kaelin opened her mouth again to speak to him.

            Yet still she said nothing. “Actually…” she whispered, too quietly for him to hear her. That sounded weird. She should start with his name. Helplessly terrified both of saying something to Geppetto and of returning to Jiminy in defeat, she stood still in the middle of the floor. She stood there for a long time in torment. Surely Geppetto was asleep by now.

            Hearing a single cricket’s chirp behind her, Kaelin turned to see Jiminy. Oh no… she thought, Don’t cry…You failed him, but don’t cry. Just listen to him. He’s going to be disappointed, and it’s going to hurt…but just listen. Be respectful…don’t cry.” As Jiminy walked up to her, she poured all her strength into holding her heart steady, preparing herself for what he would say.

            Jiminy didn’t say anything. He only hugged her.

            The shield Kaelin had just been forming in front of her heart suddenly broke, and she wept helplessly into his coat. “I’m sorry,” she choked out, “I failed.”

            “You’re afraid,” Jiminy replied.

            “Yes, I’m afraid, I’m afraid, I’m afraid…” Kaelin cried softly.

            “It’s okay,” Jiminy said, “Go talk to him.” He gently turned her around so she was facing Geppetto.

            “I’ll wake him up,” Kaelin protested.

            “Maybe, but it’s all right.”

            “But how can I…”

            “I’ll be here,” Jiminy told her, “Supporting you. Go.” He gave her a little push toward the bed.

            That little push was all Kaelin needed. Going to the side of the bed, she climbed up the quilt and made her way around to Geppetto’s face. Yes, he was sleeping. She looked over his shoulder. There was Jiminy. She took a deep breath. “Geppetto,” she said softly. Awkwardly, she poked his cheek with a little claw, “Geppetto,” she repeated, this time more boldly.

            Geppetto’s eyes flickered open. “What is it?” he mumbled.

            “I’m Kaelin,” Kaelin said. Oops. She hadn’t meant to be so direct.

            Geppetto was suddenly fully awake. He sat up in bed. “Yes,” he said, and gave a dry laugh, “You are.”

            Kaelin wasn’t sure what this reaction meant. “Are…are you angry with me?” she ventured.

            Geppetto nodded.

            Kaelin trembled. “I-I’m sorry…”

            “Do you regret choosing Jiminy?”

            Kaelin shook her head.

            “I didn’t think so.”

            For a few moments, Geppetto was silent, waiting for her to say something. When she didn’t, he asked, “Is he here?”

            “Yes, he’s always been nearby, helping you,” Kaelin replied.

            “I don’t want his help,” Geppetto said, “I want him to go away.”

            Kaelin stared down at her paws clasped in front of her dress.

            “I suppose if I made him go away, you would go too, huh?” Geppetto remarked.

            Kaelin nodded. “I’ll leave…if you want,” she said miserably.

            “No, I don’t want you to leave,” he responded, “Kaelin…” He picked her up, and she thought she could see tears glistening in his eyes. “All I want right now is a family, and you’re the closest thing I’ve got. You’re my sister—we grew up together. Please stay with me.”

            “Thank you, Geppetto!” Kaelin cried in relief, “And…Jiminy could be your family too! He really cares about you.”

            “Jiminy…” Geppetto returned in a strained voice, “Killed my family. He’s the reason I have none. I don’t want him by my side.” He looked around the room, but Jiminy had already vanished into the hole in the wall. “But if you stay, he stays too, is that it?”

            “Yes…”

            “Fine,” Geppetto said, “Just keep him out of my sight.”

            “Thank you for letting me stay,” Kaelin told him warmly, “Maybe you’ll forgive Jiminy someday.”

            To her surprise, Geppetto smiled a little. He petted the top of her head with one finger. “You can hope so.”

            After their conversation, Geppetto went back to sleep, and Kaelin returned to the hole in the wall. Jiminy was sitting on a board, but he looked up quickly when she came in as if he had been crying. When Kaelin met his eyes, she immediately understood what he must be feeling. She felt his emotion in her own heart almost as clearly as if it was her own.

            Seeming to notice the empathy in her face, Jiminy muttered, “He still hates me. He despises me more than anyone in the world. He says I killed them…blames me for everything. And he’s right. I don’t have any right to be by his side. I shouldn’t be trying to help him; I should go away. But where will I go if I leave? I don’t know how else to bear this guilt!” He covered his face with his three-fingered hands.

            “No, it’s not fair of him to blame you,” Kaelin said, running up and sitting beside him.

            “It’s completely fair. I shouldn’t be doing this. I shouldn’t be forcing myself on him.”

            “What you’re doing is right,” Kaelin insisted, “It’s wrong for him to hold a grudge when you’re truly sorry, and when all you want is to help him. You have to stay near him.”

            “He doesn’t want me near him!” Jiminy cried, standing up abruptly, “I’m not helping him by being here—I’m only hurting him more! All I’ve ever done is hurt him—and after he gave me his umbrella! I…there’s…nothing I can do to redeem myself. I don’t know how to live anymore. I can’t go forward. I have to go away.” As he spoke, his knees gave way, bending backwards, and he sank to all fours on the floor. His antennae drooped.

            “You can’t go away,” Kaelin said emphatically, jumping down from the board and crawling to him on her four paws, “Because if you leave, I will too, and Geppetto doesn’t want me to leave. I’ve forgiven you. I love you, and I’m happy that you’re here because I’ve forgiven you. I believe that a part of Geppetto wants to forgive you too, and when he does, he’ll feel the same way. He’ll be so grateful and so happy that you stayed nearby, even when he hated you. You could become his closest friend.”

            Jiminy shook his head. “I want to believe that, but…I don’t know how I can.”

            “You must believe it,” Kaelin urged, “In any case, he’s letting you be here for now. You should take advantage of that. Be encouraged.” 

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