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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25. Storybrooke

            The next few days after David convinced everyone to stay in Storybrooke were a whirl of joy to Kaelin. She was still as busy as she had been before the curse was broken, but even so, everything in her life seemed to have magically fallen into place. Jiminy and Geppetto were the best of friends now, closer than they ever had been. She thought she might burst with joy seeing them talking together, laughing together, and working together. It was beautiful. The only missing piece was Pinocchio.

Also, Kaelin had suddenly found herself surrounded by old friends. There was Nova, her best friend as always, but now with even more happy memories attached to her. Then there was Ella and her baby Alexandra, who Kaelin hoped she’d be able babysit sometime to give Ella a night off. Belle, Kaelin was getting to know better every day. She stayed at Rumpelstiltskin’s mansion at first and helped Kaelin with the cleaning, but almost the next day, she moved into an apartment near the library. She was going to be the librarian. Though her relationship with Rumpelstiltskin was rocky, they seemed to still be together. Sometimes, when Kaelin was working after school, Belle would come over to the mansion to help and also to vent her feelings about Rumpelstiltskin. Kaelin was beginning to feel compassion for the man who had let her mother die.

            Immediately after meeting each other, Nova and Kaelin realized there was someone missing from their former trio, though they weren’t sure how to go about finding him. It wouldn’t do much good to draw a picture of him and post it around town. He hadn’t been a human in the Enchanted Forest. They both resolved to keep an ear out for any possible mention of him.

            Then, of course, there was Jiminy. Kaelin got to see Jiminy every day now. She had moved her things from her apartment into his guest room. In the mornings before school, she would get up early just to make breakfast for him, though he kept insisting she didn’t have to. Kaelin felt that she did have to, however—and not just for him. It was something she could do to show her love, and it was fun. In the evenings, Jiminy would drive her home from Rumpelstiltskin’s mansion, and they would have a late supper that he prepared—usually something made of fresh vegetables cooked so flavorfully that Kaelin wondered why she had never before discovered how delicious they could be. Then Kaelin would go sleep in the guest room, leaving the door open because Pongo sometimes liked to curl up beside her in bed. Since Kaelin and Jiminy had both been animals in the Enchanted Forest, having Pongo there was like having a third person in the house. Kaelin had made another friend.

            Kaelin finished her work at Rumpelstiltskin’s mansion quite early that week because of Belle’s help. One day, then, when she was able to come straight home from school, she called the nunnery and asked for Nova. Jiminy was going to stay at his office late that night to finish dictating charts, so Kaelin felt it would be a great opportunity to spend an evening with her friend.

            Nova came over immediately, and they plopped down on the couch and started talking. Jiminy had taken Pongo to his office to keep him company while he was doing paperwork, so they didn’t have anyone to bother them. At first, they just chatted about everything going on in Storybrooke. “Dreamy—er, Grumpy—and the other Dwarves are trying to mine for fairy dust!” Nova shared excitedly, “Rumpelstiltskin brought magic back into Storybrooke, you know, so there just might be some down in the old mines! If we find some—Oh, I don’t know what Blue plans to do with it exactly, but we might just be able to bring back Sneezy’s memories. He was the one who went over the border and forgot everything, and it’s just awful.”

            “Oh, um—Nova,” Kaelin began. Suddenly, she was flustered and looked down at her hands. There was something she had been meaning to ask, but now she found she was nervous. “About Grumpy…I mean, not about him necessarily. About you. Are…are you…”

            Nova nodded, looking at her expectantly. “Yes?”

            “Are you still a nun?” Kaelin blurted out, “No, that sounds wrong. Maybe I should say, were you ever a nun? You’re really a fairy, right? You never really took a nun’s vows. Those memories were just part of the curse. So are you a nun? Do you want to be one?”

            “Oh, that’s a hard question,” Nova replied breathlessly, searching Kaelin’s face with wide, brown eyes, “I guess I’m not, really…What do you mean by asking?”

            “I was wondering if you might want to get back together with Grumpy,” Kaelin mumbled, shrugging, “Maybe you could make him Dreamy again.”

            Nova flinched and looked away sadly. “Kaelin, it doesn’t matter. Grumpy and I can never be together. He told me himself. Dwarves can’t love. Fairies and dwarves can’t be together—I told you that back in the Enchanted Forest, remember?”

            “Yes, but that’s just it,” Kaelin replied excitedly, overcoming her nervousness without even noticing, “We aren’t in the Enchanted Forest anymore. You’re not really a fairy, and he’s not really a dwarf. Maybe here you have a chance to be together!”

            Nova had looked hopeful for a moment, but then she lowered her head again, biting her lip. “Even so, the Blue Fairy would never let me,” she sighed.

            “Maybe you don’t have to let her control you anymore either,” Kaelin suggested, “I think you should at least talk to Grumpy. Remember what he did for you when he was just Leroy? I think he still loves you.”

            Nova gave her a little half-smile. “Thanks, Kaelin,” she said, “Still, I’m not so sure…Anyway,” she brightened up and changed the subject before Kaelin had a chance to argue again, “How are things going with you and Jiminy? I want to hear all about it.”

            “There’s not that much to tell, really,” Kaelin replied, grinning shyly in spite of herself, “I’m living here now, you know, so I get to see him all the time. That’s nice. It’s really different too, with him not being a cricket anymore. And yet we have all those sad and happy memories together.”

            “Have you kissed yet?” Nova asked, getting straight to what was probably her real question.

            Kaelin’s face flushed red. “W-well, once,” she stammered, “When we thought we were about to leave Storybrooke, that is.” She wondered if it was even okay to talk about it. “It was…it was nice.”

            “Is ‘nice’ all you can say about it?” Nova giggled, “You’re so modest, Kaelin!”

            “Hey, what do you expect? I grew up in a nunnery!” Kaelin returned, “Or at least, I thought I did. I guess I actually grew up in an orphanage.” She frowned, considering this.

            “It’s okay. Your shyness is cute,” Nova teased.

            Kaelin thought about teasing Nova back, saying that Nova was cute herself, but the fact that she thought about it made her unable to say it. The words stuck in her throat, and she said nothing. There was a short, awkward pause. “Wanna cook something together?” she said hurriedly, trying to fill the silence.

            “Sure!” Nova replied. The girls went to the kitchen and spent the rest of the evening cooking some of their favorite dishes together and eating them. Kaelin hoped it would be all right for them to use ingredients from Jiminy’s cupboard. Maybe if she saved the leftovers for him, it would be fine.

 

 

 

 

            Jiminy returned that evening after Nova was gone, later than Kaelin had expected. Yet rather than being tired, he seemed in particularly high spirits. Kaelin re-warmed the plate of lemon-cream chicken she and Nova had saved for him and sat down with him while he ate.

            “Regina wanted to talk to me tonight,” Jiminy reported happily, “That’s why I was late. I can’t say anything about it because it’s confidential, but she wants to talk, Kaelin. She wants to change!”

            “That’s wonderful!” Kaelin replied. She could see how much it was affecting him.

            Jiminy ate a few bites in silence, seeming to contemplate something. Then he set down his fork and looked Kaelin in the eye. “Kaelin…” he began, smiling, “I want to continue your counseling sessions. Not officially, but…off the record. With no payments, of course. I suppose what I mean is, I want you to talk to me too. There’s a lot of hurt in your past, and…I think it’s time I helped you work through it.”

            Kaelin let out a short, breathy laugh. “You think so?” she said.

            “I think…you have amazing potential,” he responded, “I think you proved yourself even when you were burdened with doubt, even when you hid those feelings. So just imagine what you could be if you were to get out from under that!”

            Kaelin was grinning against her will, entirely unsure how to respond. “You really think so?” she repeated.

            Jiminy laughed. “Yes,” he said, “Can you come to my office after school tomorrow? We’ll talk then.”

            “I can make it,” she replied, “I’m done with Mr. Gold’s mansion for the week.”

 

 

 

 

            Immediately after school the next morning, Kaelin hurried off to Dr. Hopper’s office. As she ran, she wondered why she was still going to school when she had lived more than sixty years. Then again, those sixty years—first in a poor family, then in an uncaring orphanage, then as a mouse—had never taught her trigonometry and research papers. Besides, she was nearing graduation. It would be a shame to drop out now.

            Arriving at the door of Dr. Hopper’s office, Kaelin took a deep breath and knocked. It was easier than she remembered. As usual, the door swung open abruptly, and Archie—Jiminy—stood there. He smiled and invited her in.

            As Kaelin came inside and sat down on the dark, leather couch, she happily recalled the first time she had met Jiminy as Archie Hopper. She remembered the door, painted dark green on the inside, with a dark green trim around the wall. She remembered the golden wallpaper with pattered, green stripes, the desk, the packed bookshelves, and the high window in the corner. There were happy memories in this place already.

            “Mind telling me what you’re so cheerful about today?” Jiminy asked, sitting in his usual spot with his arms on his knees and his hands clasped together.

            “Oh, just remembering…when I met you,” Kaelin replied, her voice failing a bit on the second phrase.

            “The second time you met me, I take it?”

            Kaelin nodded, grinning.

            “Well, let’s get down to business,” Jiminy began, “I was hoping…you might tell me about your experience at the orphanage.”

            Kaelin frowned. “I’ve told you, it doesn’t have anything to do with my being so troublesome.” The last word seemed to hang awkwardly in the air, as though Kaelin wasn’t sure how specifically to apply it to herself anymore. In truth, she was afraid to talk about her time at the orphanage. She had never talked about it before, and the thought of digging up those buried memories was terrifying.

            “I understand, but…” he took a deep breath, glancing off to one side, then met her eyes earnestly, “I think it may still be relevant. There’s no question you were treated badly there, and maybe you don’t know how deeply it affected you. I certainly don’t know—that’s why I want to find out more about it. I know a lot of your story, Kaelin, because I was there with you. Now I want to hear about the part when I wasn’t there.”

            To her complete surprise, Kaelin’s lips trembled. She looked away, blinking back tears. Not again. Why was it that she cried so often? It must surely annoy him by now. “Don’t make me talk about it, please,” she whispered. Even as she thought about it, memories that she had tried to block out were beginning to overtake her. “I got away from there,” she shuddered, “Don’t make me go back.”

            A look of deep concern crossed Jiminy’s face. He leaned forward and took her hand. “Listen,” he said firmly, “The only way for you to begin letting go of those memories is to let them out. It may feel like going back there, but…i-it won’t be the same. I’ll be here the whole time.”

            For just one more instant, Kaelin held back. Then, suddenly, her story came pouring out in a jumble. The memories weren’t all immediate: they came to her out of order, sometimes one-by-one, sometimes all at once. Yet when they did come, they were as clear as day and as sharp as a knife. Kaelin found with surprise that the memories of the beatings didn’t bother her too much. They seemed to all melt together into one, single beating—perhaps one she had deserved, perhaps one that she hadn’t. In any case, the physical pain couldn’t reach her over the years. But the words, the demeaning gestures, the relentless scoldings…those still seared her after so long. “You’re only fit to scrub the floor with a rag!”...“Why do you always make more work for everyone else?”…“What are you supposed to be doing right now? Huh? Have you forgotten already?”…“Of course you don’t understand. You never understand anything!”…“What’s wrong with you, Kaelin?”…“Stop crying! You’re not a baby!”…“The other kids are ten thousand times better than you!”…“You’re a naughty girl! Disrespectful! Ungrateful!”

            Kaelin still asked herself whether what they thought about her was true. She talked to Jiminy for hours, for all the rest of the day until after sunset. Every memory seemed to lead to another memory, and words continued to stumble out of her, even after she grew hoarse from talking. Yet it was a relief to get it out. When she spoke her memories aloud, she found she was able to distance herself from them. Even a little distance was enough to give a little perspective. And there was Jiminy himself, listening to her with unrestrained empathy and complete attention.

            Finally, Kaelin felt she had said enough—at least for the moment. A comfortable silence descended over the room. After a while, Jiminy asked, “Did that help?”

            Kaelin nodded. It had hurt at times, telling it. Sometimes she had trembled with fear or cried, but now all she felt was relief.

            “They were wrong about you,” Jiminy said, “I want you to start trying to believe that. They didn’t give you a chance. They didn’t recognize what was beautiful in you, and they tried to crush it. I’m not just saying this, Kaelin. I believe it.”

            Kaelin nodded again and smiled. “Boy, I talked all day,” she said, and had to clear her throat, “We should probably…go home now.”

            “We should,” Jiminy agreed. They went outside and drove back to his house.

            At the doorstep, Kaelin paused, closing her eyes. A warm smile slowly spread across her face.

            “What is it?” she heard Jiminy say beside her. She opened her eyes again.

            “I’m just listening to the crickets,” she replied serenely, “Back when I was…there…I used to listen to the crickets at night. Their sound was comforting because I thought maybe one of them was you.”

            Jiminy put a hand on her shoulder. Leaning down, he kissed her on the cheek, then, gently, on the lips. “I’m here to stay now,” he said, “You don’t ever have to go back there.” Then they went inside and headed to their separate rooms.

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