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They sat quietly in the living room, with the fire glowing nearby, before Once-Ler decided to speak up again. Clearing his throat, he brought up the urge to ask the question he had been meaning to ask yet was afraid to, in case hurting the boy. But since they had just spoken about their family members, never mind had often done so in the past year-and-a-half, he figured that it was as good as any time to ask. "Ted," he said, catching the boy's attention, "Your father… did you ever… know him? I mean, did he ever come back to uh… teach you things? If you don't mind me asking, of course."

Ted stared at him in silence, but his eyes did not reflect pain or anger—in fact, he did not seem the least bit concerned about Once-Ler's question, which relaxed the man a bit. "I know your Grandfather held an important place in your life, as you and your Grammy have told me, and I would never want to replace him," Once-Ler clarified as he continued to knit. "But I was always curious about your father."

Ted blinked a few times before finally opening his mouth to speak: "My dad was never there," he said while returning to his knitting. He paused before continuing, knowing that the old man was undoubtedly listening. "Mom was never afraid to say that he was a phoney, a nobody. He ditched her a month before she gave birth to me. My Pappy… he took my dad's place. He taught me everything he could, from golfing to flying kites to fishing—uh, even though we uh… had no fish to actually uh… fish in Thneedville… When I was four, he taught me how to ride a bike… When I was five, we visited him at the hospital every day, and he used to tell me that I needed to take care of my mom and my grammy soon. He made it clear to me that he wasn't going to be able to stick around any longer, even if it took a while for me to get it…" Ted was quiet for a second or two before speaking again, in a low voice: "He died in his sleep when I was six."

Once-Ler stopped knitting and looked on in shock. He had not meant for his question to receive such a developed answer, and immediately felt ashamed for having asked it. He looked at his hands, thinking that the awkwardness of the moment would hold for any longer.

To his surprise, it did not. When Ted spoke again, he did not seem affected by the sad memory: "After Pappy passed on, I was pretty much raised by girls," he said with a shrug and a laugh. "Kinda dorky, but true. Grammy and Mom showed up at Parent-Teacher night, they cheered me at my races… and the shopped for my underwear, which is by far the most embarrassing thing ever." He waited to hear if Once-Ler would laugh at him, but when the man did nothing of the sort, Ted went on: "So what I'm about to say is something that'll either ruin my reputation as a teenager… or totally make it worth wild…" He raised his head and looked up at Once-Ler with serious eyes. "You're nothing like Pappy was, Once-Ler… But I'm glad you're not."

Once-Ler blinked and tilted head in confusion at these words.

"Pappy meant the world to me," Ted explained, "But he wasn't you. You're not him, you're nothing like him. But I don't care. I don't care if you spent fifty years in some Lerkim far outside of town, in atonement for your mistakes. I don't even care if people way back in the day called you a monster after destroying the valley. What's in the past, stays in the past. That's what Mom tells me all the time."

He smiled and continued to knit his green scarf, aware that Once-Ler was still observing him. "Pappy told me stories about fantasy; you told me a story about reality. Pappy taught me how to fly a kite; you taught me how to plant a tree. Pappy taught me how to fix cars…" He looked up at Once-Ler. "… You taught me how to knit. Most of the things you taught me so far would be considered as silly by most kids my age. And like I said earlier, Knitting seems unmanly. But you don't care. You do it because you love doing it. There's no way in heck that my Pappy would be caught cooking or folding laundry or knitting. He was a big guy, a carpenter. He did the stereotypical manly stuff. You're different. You're more docile… down to earth. You're tough but you have a genuine caring nature for everything living, despite your past mistakes, and you're not afraid to show it. You toss stereotypes out the window and won't be afraid to knit. The things you do are so unmanly that they're just the opposite: what gives you a heart, makes you a man. Grammy used to say that all the time, which is probably why she always said my dad had an empty hole in his chest where a heart should have been."

Ted laughed here. "And what's more: you taught me patience, selflessness and trust. If that's not being a man, then I dunno what is. My Pappy was a big guy, and he taught me loads of things to survive… But you taught me the things that are needed to live. You taught me that Unless someone like me cared a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not. Now that I've spent so much time around you, I've come to realize that the things my Pappy taught me, though they'll always be important, aren't nearly as important as what you've taught me in the past year and a half. You taught me values that will really make me a man one day. And knitting, or planting, or anything like that, are just little ways of improving skills like patience, humbleness and purity.  Pappy was a big part of my life… but you're the one who's set down the guidelines for me." Ted looked up again and beamed. "And I couldn't have asked for a better teacher."

Once-Ler said nothing. All he could do was attempt to keep his chin from trembling and blink back the tears that were beginning to blur his sight.

Ted shrugged. "Don't take me wrong; being snowed in for the past two days is kinda annoying," he concluded, "Especially for the valley's first snow in decades. But I'm really glad you're stuck here too, Once-Ler. Not only has it been a little boring, living in a house with two girls, but I really admire you. You can't replace Pappy… but no one would be able to replace you either."

There was silence for a moment or two before Once-Ler set things down and placed a hand over his mouth to keep back a sob. He closed his eyes tightly and squeaked, before raising his other hand and wiping away a few tears. Ted set his scarf aside and gently kicked the ball of yarn over so that he did not trip over it as he rose to his feet. Without a hint of reluctance, or hesitation in his feet, the thirteen-year-old walked over to the old man and placed his arms firmly around his neck. Once-Ler did not hesitate in doing the same, wrapping the boy in his arms and holding him as though it was the last time he ever would do so to someone he cared about. His sobs were muffled against Ted's sweater, and the teenager hardly even flinched when Once-Ler buried his face in his clothes and cried. While this action may have, without a doubt, embarrassed him two years earlier, it now felt like an honor—to be the shoulder a man, condemned by the world and abandoned by his own family, could cry on.

Once-Ler fell silent once his tears had been spent, and stared over the boy's shoulder as though he could see passed the wall. He grasped onto Ted's sweater like a leech, never wanting to let go. "No one," he whispered heavily, "… No one has ever said something like that to me before… No one ever cared enough to tell me that."

Ted smiled and closed his eyes. "Grammy always says that if you expect someone in particular to say things they normally wouldn't say, then it's like waiting for a flood in the desert," he said. "Sometimes, you have to go looking elsewhere to hear what you want to hear, Once-Ler." With a short laugh, he added, "And sometimes, you have to cut down a few dozen trees before you realize that."

Once-Ler forced up a laugh at this, though it wasn't long. Ted knew how he would undoubtedly be scolded for making a joke like that later—both Once-Ler and the Lorax had shown their disdain for it numerous times, despite Ted's lack of seriousness.

Once-Ler patted the boy's back before finally pulling himself away from him. He placed his hands on Ted's back, looked at him with bright blue eyes and smiled, despite his whiskers hiding it. "Let's hope it doesn't come to that again," he said. With a gentle pat on the boy's cheek, he chuckled. "And for the record, I wouldn't dream of replacing you."

He kept his hand on Ted's cheek a moment longer before clearing his throat and suggesting they get back to knitting. Ted returned to his seat, picked up his needles and got back to work until Once-Ler sighed. Seeing the man staring at the window, he too, turned his head.

"Kind of a pity the snow goes about six feet up the window," Once-Ler noted. "We could have had knitting while watching the scenery this fine night."

"Bah, the town'll get the snowplows up an' atem soon," Ted reassured him. "Though personally, I don't think we'd get much of a view with the snow gone either; too many houses."

"True, too many… Moustache is probably enjoying himself right now, though. First real snow in fifty years, and I'm not even at home to see what the valley looks like."

"Look on the bright side," Ted said, catching Once-Ler's attention. With a chuckle, the boy added, "At least we know how to start a fire."

He knew that this is particular would make the man laugh—which it did. "Well, his powers probably allow him to do that," Once-Ler said. Raising a fist victoriously in the air, he said, "But we have s'mores! Ha!"

"Manly snacks?"

"Manly snacks."

Ted chuckled before continuing to knit. "Junk food, pshaw," he scoffed, making Once-Ler laugh again.
This was part of a bigger story, but I don't think I'll ever finish it.

Basically, Once-Ler goes over to Ted's house for dinner one night and the first snow in decades comes down... in a huge snowstorm that pretty much buries Thneedville. So he gets to spend some quality time with Ted while Lorax is at his place, caring for things.

They get snowed in for about three days before the people in Thneedville figure out how to work the snowplows XDDD

So yah. Once-Ler is going out with Norma at this point, though he has no relations with Ted or the boy's mother. He's just a friend and mentor.

Takes place AFTER my comic. About six months or so after.

characters (c) Dr. Seuss/Illuminations
art, story (c) KicsterAsh
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Kasia-chanPL Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
So... beautiful :.(
Doublesims Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Loved it
sephypsycologist Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
This was so heartwarming and you played their characters out so well. Bravo :iconclapplz:
whenyinmetyang Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012
that. was. touching. enough said on who and what once-ler is and what, i believe, a lot of people think of him corrupted before he got corrupted. its just right having ted said all of those.
AmyNChan Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
lawl for the s'mores!! that makes the party! *^_^* sweet story that's touching. *^_^*
4clo4 Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2012
You've got a gift, this is authentic! I'll never be as good you :clap:
kungfu-blaziken Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You've got a gold touch, you know that right?
Kateboat Featured By Owner May 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Aw :)
Axels-Grrl Featured By Owner May 30, 2012
This made me tear up with joy.
yeissy96 Featured By Owner May 22, 2012
Beautiful you history!!!!! :clap:
TiaPunky Featured By Owner May 11, 2012
I swear I wanted to cry.. Q~Q... bravo, bud.. bravo..
IngHS Featured By Owner May 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Is so beautiful ,i love it!
CreepyMiss Featured By Owner May 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is on the front page for most popular from the last 24 hours! :la:
shieldmaiden5678 Featured By Owner May 11, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
This was well written and stayed very true to the characters' personalities. Great job!
Flamy-Star Featured By Owner May 11, 2012
Nice :3 Twas sweet, love the dialogue. Well done <3
CrazyKoala101 Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This story is beautiful, it reminded me of my grandfather. :)
numbuh35 Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
I loving story, thanks for writing this one. I felt so bad for Once-Ler and I always felt he was Ted's teacher and great one he was :)
Awwwww! That was so sweet :)
MidoriLied Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
too. many. feels!.
DragonRider200 Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
This is very sweet.Good job
sparklykitty Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist
Love it! :)
Took-Baggins Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh! Also, I love the picture up there at the top. It's sweet. ^_^
Took-Baggins Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Manly snacks. lol

I love this. I love seeing these two in this kind of close relationship and I love stories with snow. They're always so quite and peaceful.

Ted has apparently given a lot of thought to the Once-ler. It shows how much he admires him, I think. ^_^ Thank you soi much for writing this, it's wonderful!
shadamy20 Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
elizabeth-heart Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
That was just wonderful. Truly excellent! Not only are you a talented artist but have such a way with words. Seeing how you've progress and grown, I wouldn't be surprised if one of your original tales will be published someday. I can definitely see you as a children's book author and illustrator. I hope your doing well and may your Muse never leave you.

Lots of love,
Elizabeth Heart
fancykittens Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Aw this was TOO cute...You're an amazing writer! I love it <3
Doodlz18 Featured By Owner May 10, 2012   Artist
such a lovely sweet story <:3
RobbieMelrose Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Student General Artist
A lot of awesomeness in this heartwarming story. You're good, Ashley!
ShinshiaNeko Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
Fwah this made me fuzzy inside. >u< Th emotion, the setting... I love it! You will always be a fantastc writer. ^^
Poke-puzzlemaster Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
why must you hurt me in this way?
I really like it, though
SharkBrite Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh jeez that was so cute, It got me all choked up >':
bv99 Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
thesassylorax Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
I do so like this for the comparisons that Ted makes between his Pappy and the Once-ler; that they are two strikingly different men but both are just as important as the other to him.

Zah-Zah Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
D'aww, that was so touching! :'D The things Ted said were just too. . guhh, can't even find a word to describe! <33
And when the Once-ler and Ted hugged! Gosh! :love:
Luv, luv, LUV how you come up with such wonderful stories! Simply lovely! :heart:

I dunno why you sometimes bash your writing style, it's . . is admirable a good word for it? LOL : D

Kee up the great work! >u<bp
ShimmerOfLightning Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Student Digital Artist
that is so sweet! I love it, Ash! :hug:
Mikaceous Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
"Manly snacks?"

"Manly snacks."

^Best part of this story xD

But in all seriousness, this was really sweet. ^^ I think I may have teared up a little reading this, too. c:
CluelessLady Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
Mm..... " Manly snacks"
I will have one, thank you very much.
BTPrincessGirl Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
:iconawwwplz: I lurv stories like this. I call them "feelsy" cuz they're so emotional one way or another. I LOVE IT. :heart::heart:
Alleycat252009 Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
Lovely story!
autumnsky66 Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is soo sweet :aww:
Riddlespawn Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Manley Snacks
MrJames-M-Chaney Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Professional General Artist
Your writing standards never fall short of splendid :)
SaziSkylion Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
:) You write the best fanfics, I kid you not
The-fleeopian-queen Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Man,this one is a strong one.I loved it.;)
MasterMitosi Featured By Owner May 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
FruitSparkle Featured By Owner May 10, 2012
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May 10, 2012
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