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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19. Storybrooke

 

            After they were done talking under the tree, Jiminy and Kaelin went to look for Geppetto again. First, they looked in his workshop. When he wasn’t there, they checked Dr. Hopper’s office. Jiminy was unsure whether Geppetto would recognize him—though he had met him once long ago, before he was a cricket. However, whether Geppetto remembered or not, they had been best friends even in their identities as Archie and Marco, so it wasn’t unlikely that he would go there.

            Not finding him at the office, Jiminy and Kaelin simply went wandering around the streets of Storybrooke for a time. “Either we’re both looking for each other…and missing each other,” Jiminy said thoughtfully as they walked along, “Or he’s out searching for Pinocchio.”

            “I think it must be that,” Kaelin replied, “Pinocchio is the first person he’ll think of. But do you think Pinocchio will even be here? He was sent in the tree with the savior.”

            Jiminy hurriedly put a finger to his lips as a small group of people passed. “Keep your voice down,” he advised, “Remember, most people here don’t know that, and Geppetto could be in serious trouble if they find out. In any case, the savior’s here…she broke the curse. And Pinocchio was told to stay with her.”

            “Do you think Geppetto knows that the sheriff is her?” Kaelin asked, “If he does, he might go to her.” She had learned from James and Snow that Emma was their daughter.

            “I’d be surprised if he knew that already, but he might’ve heard from someone,” Jiminy replied, “In any case, it wouldn’t hurt to check the sheriff’s office.”

            They went to the sheriff’s building and peeked into the office, but only Regina was there, in the rightmost prison cell. They hurriedly slipped back into the hallway, closing the door as quietly as possible. “We should head back home,” Jiminy said, once they were outside again, “It’s nearly sunset. Do you need to get some things from your apartment?”

            “I’ll be fine,” Kaelin mumbled.

            Jiminy laughed. “We’ll be getting my car from the office anyway,” he pointed out, “It would be easy enough to stop by your apartment and pick up a few things that you’ll need for tonight.”

            “Oh, well, that’s all right, then.”

            As the sun sank slowly closer to the horizon, they walked to Jiminy’s office, got in his brownish-maroon car, and took the short drive over to Kaelin’s apartment. There were still other cars driving around and people on the sidewalks. Some people were walking together with old friends or family members, some hurrying anxiously down the sidewalk, and some just standing, looking lost.

            Kaelin looked over at Jiminy and realized that he was watching the people sadly. “Many of these people must need counseling,” he remarked, “All those memories coming back at once, and…and we’re still trapped here. Why didn’t we return to the Enchanted Forest when the curse was broken?”

            Kaelin knew she wasn’t expected to know the answer, but she did her best to reply with some of the thoughts that had been whirling through her head all day. “Well, we…don’t know for sure how the curse works. Maybe breaking it wouldn’t have the power to return us home. Maybe home…”

            She couldn’t finish her thought, but Jiminy finished it for her in a gruff voice that concealed grief, “Maybe home is gone.”

            They had pulled up to the curb beside Kaelin’s apartment, so she started climbing out of the car. However, as she went, she added, “Maybe it isn’t, though.” Then she ran to get her things, free to shed a few tears at the thought that they might never see the Enchanted Forest again.

            Since it was late, Kaelin just grabbed her toothbrush, toothpaste, blanket, and a set of clothes. With these things bundled in her arms, she hurried back out to the car, squeezing into the passenger’s seat without bothering to set them down.

            “There’s no rush,” Jiminy remarked as Kaelin closed the door. She had to slam it to get it to latch.

            “I know,” Kaelin replied.

            Jiminy started the engine and pulled away from the curb. “Oh, I see,” he said, half to himself, “I’d forgotten about that.”

            Kaelin waited for him to elaborate, but he just smiled as though he wanted her to ask. Finally, she did ask, “What had you forgotten about?”

            “I’d forgotten why you always hurry at everything,” Jiminy replied, “You picked up that habit as a mouse.”

            “D-do you think so?”

            Jiminy nodded, then frowned up at the sky through the windshield. “Was there a storm coming?”

            Kaelin looked as well. It did seem unnaturally dark all of a sudden. Hadn’t the sun just barely crossed the horizon? She hadn’t even noticed many clouds. Yet now the sky was pitch black with only the streetlights casting a reddish light on the ground. Something about that darkness made her shiver. “We should get home,” she said in a low voice.

            Jiminy seemed to have the same sentiment because he sped up the car. Suddenly, such a powerful gust of wind rushed down the street that the car was blown sharply to the side. The wind was accompanied by a chilling, unearthly cry that echoed all throughout Storybrooke.

            “What was that?” Kaelin gasped.

            “I don’t know, but it’s not a storm,” Jiminy replied breathlessly. He frantically righted the car and sped down the rapidly-emptying road. Anyone still left outside was hurrying home, and Kaelin doubted Emma would be out carding people for speeding.

            Another despairing, hate-filled cry echoed through the alleys. There was a shower of sparks behind them as a power line snapped, and the streetlights in front of them flickered and went out. Kaelin screamed and covered her ears. It seemed like things were shattering and cracking all over town with no immediate cause for any one of them.

            Hearing a frightened cry from Jiminy, Kaelin looked up and caught a glimpse of the Wraith as it swooped low over them. It was a black, ghost-like figure in tattered robes and a hood. Its spindly, decaying arms seemed to reach out for them as it passed, and its red eyes glinted in the darkness. Jiminy slammed instinctively on the brakes, but the Wraith didn’t hesitate, continuing purposefully forward as to a goal.

            As the car screeched to a halt, a darkened streetlight right in front of them came crashing down. Kaelin and Jiminy jerked forward as the car stopped abruptly, but it didn’t seem to have hit the streetlight.

            “Kaelin! Are you okay?” Jiminy said.

            “I…I’m all right…”

“The road is blocked.” Jiminy put the car in park and turned it off. Pocketing the key, he opened the door and got out. Then he ran around behind the car to the passenger’s side and urgently pulled open Kaelin’s door. Kaelin dropped everything and scrambled out onto the sidewalk.

            “Come on, we’re almost there,” Jiminy urged. With the streetlights out and the car turned off, it was almost pitch black, but Jiminy shielded Kaelin as they ran another block. Stumbling over a stick that had fallen from the wind, he turned and led her up onto the porch of a house. He unlocked the door, and they practically fell inside.

            Kaelin shrieked as a big, four-legged creature came running at her, glowing white in the darkened hall.

            “Pongo, heel!” Jiminy ordered, and the creature abruptly lay down, writhing and whining. Jiminy grabbed a flashlight that he kept beside the door and flicked it on, closing the door behind him. The target-shaped glow of the flashlight shone down on a slender Dalmatian. Still crying, the dog whapped his tail.

            “Oh, i-it’s just a…” Kaelin faltered.

            “Poor thing, he’s terrified,” Jiminy said, “I am too, really.”

            Kaelin moved behind him slightly. “I’m actually a little scared of dogs…” she admitted.

            Jiminy laughed a little in spite of himself. “Don’t worry. You’re not small enough for him to eat you anymore,” he assured her, “Besides, Pongo’s a good dog. He never bites. He doesn’t even jump.” He reached down to pat Pongo’s head, and the dog stood up, fidgeting and whimpering. “It’s okay, Boy. Calm down.”

            Kaelin cautiously reached out and touched the side of Pongo’s long nose. He licked her hand, and she brought it back, wiping it on her long skirt. She smiled anyway. “He’s all right,” she said.

            “Let’s move deeper into the house,” Jiminy advised, “Away from any windows.” There were still crashes and bone-chilling howls from outside. He tried flipping the switch to the hall light, just in case, but the power was definitely out. Shining the flashlight ahead of him, he led Kaelin into the living room. Pongo followed fretfully, but he seemed a bit calmer now that his master was home.

            As they sat on the couch, the noises outside died down, and everything became eerily silent. Even Pongo, curling up at Jiminy’s feet, was quiet.

            For a time, no one spoke. Kaelin strained her ears to hear a single sound, but there was nothing. Beginning to fear she had gone deaf, she tested her voice: “Ah—” The noise sounded like thunder in the quiet room. “Do you think it’s gone?” she whispered.

            “I don’t know,” Jiminy replied, shaking his head slightly and staring to one side. The flashlight was still on, lying on the coffee table in front of them. It faced away from them, casting dramatic shadows across the floor but only vaguely illuminating Jiminy’s face.

            “I should go look,” Kaelin said reluctantly.

            “If it really was gone, do you think you would be ready to go alone to the guest room?” Jiminy asked directly.

            Kaelin shivered at the thought. She felt safe here with Jiminy and was suddenly immensely grateful that she wasn’t alone in her apartment. “Let’s wait here a little longer,” she said, “Listen for whether it comes back.”

            Jiminy nodded and leaned his arms across the back of the couch. Realizing that his right arm was practically around her shoulders, Kaelin looked shyly down at her hands folded in her lap. She was glad Pongo was there.

            After a while, Jiminy spoke hesitantly. “Those…things you talked to me about. I-in our counseling sessions,” he began, “You never talked to me about that when we were a mouse and cricket.”

            “Oh, well…” Kaelin wasn’t sure what to say. “Wh-what do you mean?”

            “You said that you feel like you fail at everything, that you think you’re troublesome. Was that just Bridget, or was that Kaelin talking too?”

            Kaelin bit her lip. She didn’t know how to reply. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled, not really sure why she was apologizing.

            Jiminy nodded slowly. “So it was. Kaelin, why did you never tell me about this? Have you always felt that way?”

            She gave a half-shrug, not looking at him. “I didn’t want to bother you with it. I was just always trying my best not to be a burden on you. Also, as a mouse, I could kind of escape those feelings. In some ways I could, at least. In some ways, I couldn’t. Really, the last time I didn’t feel like a failure or a burden was during our quest for the stars. That’s what my dreams were about, weren’t they? Four Feet, No Feet At All...the rainbow path. It was all so beautiful.”

            Jiminy lowered his head. “I understand now,” he muttered, “It was that orphanage…everything they did to you. I shouldn’t have left you alone, Kaelin. I shouldn’t have let them take you there.”

            “No, it was because I killed my mother,” Kaelin replied bitterly, “After I failed at that, I could never succeed at anything again. Maybe the orphanage workers were harsh, but they could recognize a lost cause when they saw one. They beat the other kids too, but I was the only one who they never expected to improve. They said so themselves. I was more hopeless than even the naughtiest kid there. And now I’m not even a kid anymore, am I? I’ve lived, what, more than sixty years? Objectively? But I haven’t changed.”

            “Kaelin, I don’t want you to change,” Jiminy said emphatically, turning toward her, “You have no idea how much you’ve done. Do you really not see any of it? How you were the first to forgive me? How you helped me get through to Geppetto? How much you comforted Ella? The only thing I wish I could see change in you is that you could become happy again. I wish I could see you as happy and hopeful as you were when I first met you. You were so enthusiastic, even in the face of the worst possible disaster. Everything the orphanage workers said to you, they were wrong. They were wrong about all of it.”

            Hope pounded in Kaelin’s heart at the possibility that he was right. “Those things are valuable…aren’t they…”

            “They’re more valuable than anything. Forgiveness…kindness…You remembered me those seven years because I had shown you kindness, right? Not because I had done anything right, or because I gave any practical help in your quest, but because you still believed I cared. I really did care, and the fact that you always cared about me too means more to me than any practical action ever could. Of course, I believe you can do practical things too, and that you’re a hard worker…”

            “No, I’m not,” Kaelin argued with a pained laugh.

            “Well—we’ll talk about that later. For now, just be certain that you are not more trouble than you’re worth, and you never will be.”

            “Thank you…” Kaelin said softly.

            This time, Jiminy really did put his arm around her shoulders. She allowed herself to lean against him. For a while, they were still and silent. 

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