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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33. Storybrooke

            Kaelin woke while it was still dark, her head on Jiminy’s chest. For a moment, she thought perhaps they were already married. Then, slowly, she realized they were on the floor. The chest was stiff and cold. With a shudder, Kaelin sat up. She stared blankly down at the body, which was illuminated horribly by the streetlights outside. Where were the tears? The rending, stabbing grief? Shaking slightly, Kaelin let herself drop to the floor again, lying on her back.

            Silently, she lay there, staring up at the ceiling. The only evidence of her grief was a nearly imperceptible yet constant trembling. Normally, if she was in this position, Pongo would have tried to lick her face, but now he understood the gravity of the situation. Sitting nearby and shivering with a dog’s peculiar kind of empathy, he whimpered once and whapped his tail. Kaelin became vaguely aware that he was there, but she didn’t react.

            Why couldn’t she even cry for Jiminy? Couldn’t she at least do him that honor? It was as though all her emotions had deserted her, unable to face this. But Kaelin herself had no choice but to face it. She was lying right there beside it. Jiminy is dead. The words echoed dully in her chest. She stared at the ceiling. A single car drove past outside, briefly casting a shifting, pale light across the room.

            But how could Jiminy be dead? They had always been together. Even when they hadn’t been, there had always been hope that he would return. Kaelin realized that she was straining her ears for that old cricket chirp. Though there was complete silence, she suddenly pressed her hands over her ears. She felt sick. It was the silence that hurt. The silence.

            Feverishly, she sat up again and stared at the body. It was as though some dark force in the universe had decreed that she could never be happy. The moment she had held a speck of stardust in her hand, it had been snatched away. This was the pattern of her life. As soon as Gus showed up, he was hacked in half. Now, because Jiminy had proposed to her, he was lying dead, with…with bruises around his neck? Had he been murdered too? Guilt crept back into Kaelin’s awareness. Had the Dark One cursed her when she refused to make a deal with her? Was that why Jiminy was dead now? If she had urged him to stay home with her, or if she had come sooner, could she have stopped this?

            Suddenly, a violent, indefinable emotion struck Kaelin. With a shriek, she tore the engagement ring off her finger and flung it across the room. Yet the moment the ring left her hand, she was overwhelmed with panic. Before it even struck the ground, she was scrambling on her hands and knees across the floor, searching for it. For one, horrible moment, she thought it was gone, but then she saw the gleam of the tiny diamond under a bookshelf. Gasping with relief, she crawled to it, pulled it out, and slipped it back on her finger.

            Then, sitting on her knees, pressing her forehead to the bookshelf, Kaelin began to sob. Here at last were the tears, the grief, the agonizing whirl of love and loss. She wept and screamed, and her tears fell rapidly. No! She had loved him! This couldn’t be! He couldn’t just be gone now! What would she do?

            Whining, Pongo trotted up to her and nudged her with his wet nose. “Go away!” she spat, shoving him. The last thing she needed right now was a dog bothering her with all his slobber and smelly breath and oily fur. But Pongo was relentless. The more Kaelin tried to push him away, the more he forced himself back into her space. In a haze of frustration, Kaelin seized a hard-backed book off the shelf and whacked him over the head with it. With a yelp, Pongo scuttled back and lay down, shivering with shame and empathy.

            Seeing him like this, Kaelin’s head cleared. She was horrified at herself. Jiminy wouldn’t have wanted her to treat Pongo like that. “I’m sorry, boy,” she muttered, wiping her tears away with one hand, “But what do you want from me, anyway? He’s dead. There’s nothing I can do.”

            Pongo stood up and went over to his dog bed in the corner. The leash was sitting next to it, neatly wrapped up. He nudged the leash with his nose and whimpered.

            “I’m not gonna take you on a walk,” she groaned, “Your master is dead now. Can’t you understand that?” She stumbled over to the leather couch and sat down to be out of Pongo’s reach. Then, as if it had burned her, she jumped up again. When she sat in that spot, such a memory had seared across her consciousness that she couldn’t bear it. The memory was of the time when they were arguing over Kaelin’s deal with Mr. Gold. Jiminy—Archie at the time—was shouting at her, but then he sat down beside her on that couch to comfort her. He had been able to see through his anger enough to care about her emotions. That was the sort of kindness he had—a sort of kindness that could never be replaced.

            Kaelin began to cry again, looking over at the body on the floor. She felt she ought to move it somehow, maybe put it on the couch, but the idea of touching it and dragging it around was too much for her to bear. Really, she should go tell someone. What if he had been murdered? It certainly looked like he had. Yet the thought of saying that aloud to someone was even worse than the thought of moving his body. Unable to look at it anymore, she turned to Pongo. Maybe a walk would be good right now. She wanted to get out of that room for a while.

            “Fine, Pongo,” she mumbled, and walked toward the leash. Pongo ran around and around in agitated circles. As soon as Kaelin got the leash hooked onto his collar, he darted to the door, dragging her along behind him. Kaelin opened the door, and he sprinted out into the hall, nose to the ground. After a terrifying trip down the stairs, Kaelin stopped completely, trying to make the dog behave. “Stop—pulling!” she grunted, jerking back on the leash.

            Pongo only dragged her to the front door and pawed at it, his claws making a sound on the glass like nails on a chalkboard. Kaelin was starting to have second thoughts about taking Pongo on a walk, but she found she couldn’t bear the idea of returning to that room. She opened the door and let Pongo drag her out.

            It was still too dark for anyone to be out on the streets. Kaelin was glad to be alone and shrouded in the comforting night. She had always loved the night. Finding a tolerable rhythm to endure Pongo’s pulling, she allowed him to go wherever he wanted while she tortured herself with thoughts of Jiminy. She found she was thinking all the way back to the day she met him—not in Storybrooke, but in the Enchanted Forest—when he had hopped down out of the back of that cart. Kaelin wept freely as she stumbled along behind his dog.

            It wasn’t until Pongo tugged her out onto a wooden dock that Kaelin noticed he was taking a strange path. Hadn’t he had his nose to the ground the whole time too? She stopped suddenly, a chill of fear running through her. “What scent are you following?” she whispered, “You saw what happened there, didn’t you? Was he murdered? Are you trying to find the person who killed him?”

            Pongo whimpered and strained toward the left side of the dock. Taking a deep breath, Kaelin followed him. She didn’t really care what happened to her now. If it meant finding who killed Jiminy, she could put herself in danger. Anger began to burn in her chest. It was that horrible King George, wasn’t it? He wasn’t satisfied just killing Gus; he had to go after Jiminy too. At this point, Kaelin was too reckless to think about exposing his crime to the authorities. She just wanted to hurt him with her own two hands, even if it meant biting and hitting him while he set about murdering her too.

            But then, it didn’t make sense that George would do it. He had murdered Gus randomly, hadn’t he? He didn’t even know Kaelin, so he couldn’t be targeting her. Who, then? Pongo stretched up from the dock and sniffed in midair. He lifted his paw and set it on nothing, bending his nose down to smell whatever he was standing on. Amazed, Kaelin reached out to where Pongo was sniffing and found her hand blocked by something. It felt like wood. Running her fingers along it, she found where it dropped off shortly but began again a little farther down. “Stairs!” she gasped, “Pongo, you found stairs! Is this where he went? The person who killed Jiminy?”

            Pongo whined in agreement. “I’m going in, then,” Kaelin decided. She unhooked the dog’s leash. “Go,” she urged, “Show them what happened.” As if understanding what she was saying, Pongo turned and raced back into town.

            Kaelin faced the invisible stairs again. Feeling for them with her hands, she found where the lowest stair was and carefully began climbing them on all fours. There weren’t very many. On almost her first step up, the air around her began to shimmer and wobble like water. For a moment, she was disoriented, but then she found herself tumbling onto the deck of a large, wooden ship with masts and sails. Despite everything, Kaelin gazed around in wonder. It was a beautiful ship, clean and boldly painted with red, blue, and gold. The sails were rolled up, and the bare masts rose high above Kaelin, creaking softly in the breeze. Kaelin looked over her shoulder and saw that she hadn’t gone through any kind of portal. Storybrooke was the same all around her. This ship must be covered by a cloaking spell, she thought, But whose is it, and why?

            Just then, she heard a woman’s voice nearby. “Oh, I wasn’t expecting a visitor.”

            Shocked, Kaelin scrambled to her feet and turned to face the source of the voice. It was an older woman, though not too old, and she carried herself gracefully. Her dark brown eyes were somewhat close together, and there was a sharp, perceptive glint in them that made Kaelin want to hide. The woman had some wrinkles, but her hair was still a beautiful, chestnut brown, and her lips were red with a bright shade of lipstick. She wore an elegant, blue dress. Pressing those red lips together in a smile, she glided up to Kaelin. “What’s your name, dear?” she asked.

            “K-Kaelin,” Kaelin stammered in reply, realizing that this was probably the person who had murdered Jiminy. She frowned. “And who are you?” she shot back. She wanted to fly at her and start hitting her, but something about the woman’s manner made her unable to make that move.

            “Cora,” she replied pleasantly, “My name is Cora.”

            “Did you kill Jiminy?” Kaelin demanded, a catch in her voice.

            “Do you mean that awkward psychologist?” Cora gave a girlish laugh. “Well, in a manner of speaking…”

            Kaelin was shocked—not at the answer itself necessarily, but at the directness of it. “How could you?” she burst out. Her voice sounded to her much more desperate than she had intended—almost half-hearted. “He—he was my…”

            “Your fiancé. I know,” Cora said warmly, “I saw him propose to you yesterday.”

            Kaelin shuddered. How had she seen them? Somehow, the thought of Cora watching during Jiminy’s proposal was more horrifying to Kaelin than almost anything she had experienced that morning. It was as though this woman was omniscient.

            “I didn’t mean anything personal.” Cora clicked her tongue. “Oh, but you poor dear. He must have been at least ten years older than you. How ever did he manipulate you into loving him?”

            “You don’t know our history together!” Kaelin retorted faintly, shuddering even more at what she was implying.

            “No, I don’t,” Cora admitted, “But I don’t need to. I’m sure he was just so nice, and he probably acted younger than his age, and he told you the age difference didn’t matter because it was true love. Right?”

            Kaelin was trembling now. “N-no, n-nothing like that…”

            “Well, I’ve done you a favor,” Cora went on kindly, ignoring her, “Take my advice, honey, and don’t get mixed up with people like that. I’m saying this for your own safety.”

            “What are you talking about?!” Kaelin cried, distressed, “You—you don’t know anything!”

            Cora’s expression suddenly turned cold. “I know enough,” she said, and flicked her wrist. That instant, Kaelin was surrounded by a shifting, dim blue light—almost like water. She couldn’t move.

            Her overly-sweet smile returning, Cora stalked over to Kaelin and lifted her like a baby. She carried her downstairs to the cabins, passing by the first door and going on to the cabin at the end of the hall. The walls down here were painted white without a single blemish, and the doors were dark brown and finished. Opening the door at the end of the hall, Cora took Kaelin in and lifted up a hatch to reveal part of the cargo hold. Then she lowered her gently into the empty hold and, using some heavy rope, tied her wrists to the low ceiling so that her hands were level with her head. With a strip of torn, brown cloth, she gagged Kaelin. Only then did she release the paralyzing spell.

            As soon as the spell lifted, Kaelin struggled and tried to scream, but the gag muffled her voice. Pressing her red lips together as though she was looking down at some vermin, Cora closed the hatch.

            Kaelin lowered her head, biting into the rough, dry cloth and blinking back hot tears. She hadn’t even tried to hurt Cora, though maybe there had been a chance. Why hadn’t she done anything? She had been so stunned by the nasty things that woman was saying about Jiminy. Those weren’t even true, were they? No, Cora didn’t know anything. They couldn’t be true, and yet they still crept into Kaelin’s heart like a poison. But it didn’t matter now, did it? Jiminy was gone.

            Hours passed. Kaelin didn’t know how long. She only knew that her shoulders ached as if they were breaking and that the gag seemed to have drawn all the moisture out of her mouth. She was hungry and thirsty, and worst of all, she didn’t care. She only cried intermittently and otherwise just sat there, not even trying to shift to a more comfortable position.

            A little light had come through the carved holes in the hatch above her, but now it was gone. So it was night again? Kaelin heard footsteps above deck. It sounded like more than one person. The sound descended the stairs to the cabins, and a door opened. Kaelin could hear two people talking—a man and a woman, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. Then, after a while, the footsteps started up again, coming nearer to her. Kaelin hardly reacted. Maybe they would kill her now. A little firelight flickered down into the hold. They had lit a lantern, perhaps.

            Then the hatch above her opened, and she looked up to see Cora and a young man. Even in her current state, Kaelin couldn’t help but notice—in a detached, objective way—that the man was handsome. He had a thin but healthy face, shaded with a short, black beard. His black hair was moderately long and wild looking, but it was swept to one side in a semblance of keeping it neat. His eyes were pale blue but rimmed with dark lashes, and he wore a fancy, black leather coat. He was adorned with silver earrings and silver necklaces with pendants. With a dry, little smirk, he looked down at Kaelin. “What’s this one for? Bait?” he drawled, glancing sideways at Cora.

            “Don’t be silly, Captain Hook. I know what I’m doing, and I think she might help you get your cricket to chirp,” Cora replied condescendingly, “She’s his fiancé.” Kaelin was suddenly paying attention to what they were saying. It didn’t make sense. She had seen Jiminy dead with her own eyes, hadn’t she? Why were they talking now as if he were alive? Desperately, she searched their faces.

            Hook raised his dark eyebrows. “Really? Well, that sounds a bit more useful. Will you help me get her into the other hold?”

            “I’ve helped you enough. Do it yourself,” Cora returned coldly.

            Hook made an exasperated gesture. Kaelin started when, in place of a hand, she saw a polished, gleaming hook at the end of his arm. “All I’m asking is for you to cast your immobilizing spell on her. It won’t be any work for you, just a bit easier for me. Otherwise, I might have to fight her down. Although…” he added, with another little smirk at Kaelin, “That might not be too unpleasant.”

            Tersely, Cora flicked her wrist, casting the paralyzing spell on Kaelin. Reaching down into the hold, the captain unhooked the ropes from its low ceiling and lifted Kaelin out. She could feel the point of his hook pressing sideways into her back. Carrying her, he followed Cora back into the first cabin at the bottom of the stairs.

            When they opened the hatch at the back of that cabin, Kaelin’s only physical reaction was a slight widening of her eyes. Inside, however, her heart was exploding. There, tucked between the boxes in the hold, with his hands tied above his head and a white gag in his mouth, was Jiminy. He turned his head suddenly when the hatch opened, staring up at them with frightened eyes. He was alive! In that instant, nothing else mattered to Kaelin. Jiminy was alive, and that was all. His face—horrified at the sight of Kaelin here—was animated again. His chest was heaving with scared breaths—but he was breathing! He was breathing. Kaelin did not know how, but Jiminy was alive.

            Hook climbed down into the hold and shoved Kaelin into a corner, securing to the ceiling the ropes binding her wrists. Lazily, Cora released the binding spell. As soon as her face could move again, Kaelin smiled at Jiminy around the gag.

            “I’ll be back first thing tomorrow morning,” Hook told them. Using his hook, he pulled down the gags from their mouths. “In the meantime,” he said, “Why don’t you discuss what you want to tell me about Rumpelstiltskin? The more you tell, the less it’ll hurt.” With that, he turned and climbed up through the hatch, closing it behind him.

            “Kaelin, what are you doing here?” Jiminy gasped as soon as he was gone, “Did you follow me?” He clearly wasn’t happy about her presence there.

            “You’re alive,” Kaelin faltered, shaking her head with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face, “I thought you were dead. I—I saw your body…Jiminy, you’re here.”

            “Kaelin. Whatever…you saw…that wasn’t me,” Jiminy said emphatically, shaking his head, “Cora brought me straight here.”

            Kaelin stared at him serenely until he fidgeted.

            “What?” he said at last, smiling involuntarily.

            “I thought you were dead,” she repeated.

            “This isn’t exactly the place to be happy,” Jiminy scoffed, “I-I—I could still die. You could too. We’re not safe.”

            “You won’t die,” Kaelin returned with sudden vehemence, “No matter what. I have to save you, Jiminy. We’re going to get out of here. I don’t care what happens—you’ll live.”

            Now it was Jiminy’s turn to stare at her. At first, he just looked astonished, but then his expression changed to something else—something that included affection but wasn’t only that. “There you are,” he said softly, and the way he said it made Kaelin curious. He sounded like he was just recognizing someone.

            “What do you mean?” she asked.

            “I just saw the old Kaelin,” Jiminy replied warmly, in a whisper, “The one who climbed to the stars.”

            Kaelin shivered, feeling that this should make her doubt herself, but it didn’t. She had failed back then, hadn’t she? Wouldn’t she fail again now? But, no. None of those worries could reach her now. She was hopeful and determined. No matter what, Jiminy would live. 

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