Summary: The Valley's first, pure rain in decades. The Once-ler reflects.
The rain patterned against the faded woodwork in an inexorable pattern, the thunder above the land booming in a deafening cacophony, the downpour obscuring most everything in sight, mixing the hues like a drenched watercolor painted. The Once-ler stood at the open window in the room at the very top of his Lerkim, where the creaks and cracks were in the most abundance, letting in the frigid air from outside. He didn't give it any heed though, and instead simply peered through the glass with a melancholic air. The colorful tufts of the Truffula saplings stood out like neon beacons in the dreary landscape, and the old, gangly man sought them out, a heavy sigh filling his thin body.
"The rain will be good for them," he murmured, the rain reflecting off of his pale eyes. These words were true, of coursethis was the first time in decades that acid rain didn't fall as a result of the smog and pollution in the sky. It was pure, clean shower now, and the sapling would benefit greatly from it. But it felt almost as if there were something missing
the empty place inside him that had never once been filled during the time that he was blinded by greed
and it seemed as if the weather only embodied his dismal mood.
The Once-ler finally closed the shutters over the window and turned away, beginning the trek down the various flights of stairs that led to the first floor.
This final room was brighter than the one he'd just been inwhile the walls and wooden floor were plain, a fire crackled merrily in the hearth, bathing everything in a soft, warm light, and a still-slightly-drenched Ted and Audrey laid on the mauve loveseat, a bowl of half eaten marshmallows on the faded coffee table.
The teenager was curled up on the seat, her gangly legs pulled onto the chair, and her slim boots that were still crusted in mud hung off of the edge. Her vibrant red hair was still damp, and hung limply around her face, cheeks tinged with pink from the cold outside, and her head rested against Ted's shoulder, her arms wrapped around one of his. The boy's own head laid over hers, his wet hair falling into his closed eyes. Both children were fast asleep, lulled some time ago by the warmth of the fire.
The Once-ler chuckled at the sight, bending down to toss another log of wood onto the fire. Sparks flew wildly for an instant before the flames tamed themselves, and he watched the flickering blaze. A voice suddenly spoke behind him, though he didn't jump.
"Can you imagine the kid's expression if he was awake?"
The Once-ler beamed. "I'm sure if would be hilarious." He straightened to meet the Lorax's gaze. "So what're you doing here?"
He was met with a contemptuous look. "Staying out of the rain, beanpole. What else?"
"I thought you were all for nature, Lorax?" the Once-ler queried innocently, rocking back on the heels, hands behind his back.
"When it's not in my fur, making a mess, I am," the creature answered grumpily, brushing some of the aforementioned liquid off of his arm. As the Lorax continued griping, the Once-ler quietly exited the room, and returned with a blanket. He noiselessly made his way over to the loveseat and threw the blanket over the sleeping pair, and they quickly snuggling into its warmth. As the old man stepped back with an appreciative smile, the orange creature walked up next to him, examining him critically.
"Why haven't you let them see you yet?" the Once-ler asked out of the blue, glancing down at his companion.
The Lorax shrugged. "I don't know. Perhaps they're not ready yetI wouldn't want to 'blow their minds'."
"You're never going to let that go, are you?"
The old man sighed, rolling his eyes. His gaze flittered to the slumbering duo again. "Well, at least they certainly enjoyed the rain."
"That makes one of us," the Lorax grumbled.
The Once-ler chuckled. "Don't you remember when it began pouring all those years ago, and you somehow managed to get all of the animals inside my tent again?"
yeah," the small creature admitted with a small smirk. "You were under the weather that night, and didn't have the heart to throw us out into the cold."
"More like I didn't have the energy," the elder man snorted, rubbing his nose absently. A roar of thunder echoed through his Lerkim, and both of them paused, the rain beginning to come down even harder than before.
"Well," the Lorax began, clapping his furry hands together with finality, "Guess I'm staying here!"
"Oh joy," the Once-ler groaned, as the orange creature zipped over towards the kitchen, fully prepared to help himself to whatever the old man had stored away. And as the Once-ler followed him, he couldn't but admit that the empty space had filled up
just a little.