A/N: I was kind of wondering what happened to O'Hare after the movie, when the Truffula trees have grown to about… I dunno, just over his head? I was also wondering what it would be like for him to meet the Once-ler. So here it is! Please read and enjoy!
The sky: A very sickeningly gorgeous blue.
The grass: Very real and very, absurdly green.
The clouds: So puffy as to make anyone smile... but not him. He looked around in disgust and a similarly wretched awe. There were even trees. Quickly growing Truffula trees! So bright and colourful... it was terrible. They cleaned the air, and as a result, destroyed his empire. O'Hare Air was no more.
He sat down dejectedly in the grass. It seemed that even the tiny Truffula tufts were mocking him. It wasn't as though people actually mocked him, per say; it was more like they ignored him completely. No one would speak to him, and if he tried to start a conversation, they'd simply walk away. He used to be the most loved man in Thneedville, now he was the lowest of the low. He had no job, no future, no one would forgive him, and he was feeling mighty angsty.
But he didn't care! Not him, he'd show them! No one criticized Aloysius O'Hare like that! But... they were criticizing him anyway. He supposed it wasn't all bad. He had peace and quiet when he wanted it; he could go for walks uninterrupted. There was enough air to go around... no, he wouldn't think of that. He had to maintain this pleasantly angry and dejected mood somehow.
He stood up and began to walk. He wandered down to the freshly clear river, where a few strangely orange fish gazed back at him as though they knew who he was. He shook his head. They were only fish. He kept walking. He had no idea how long he ambled on like this, but it didn't seem like such a prolonged journey. He was lost in thought and self-pity for most of the trip, anyway. When he turned back, he could just barely make out the wall of Thneedville that was still in the process of being safely stripped away. He sighed and continued at a more leisurely pace.
Taking in his surroundings, he deduced that this was one of the old roads. He remembered it vaguely from his teen years. It led to the old Thneed factory, and the Once-ler's dwelling. He had once hoped that the old man was long dead and couldn't spoil his fun, but then that Wiggins kid had left town... and then left town again. That was proof enough for O'Hare. Maybe, he thought, he'd exile himself, too. It couldn't be as bad as it sounded, right? But... why was he headed towards the Once-ler's place, anyway? Wouldn't the guy hate him?
He soon realized he would have to pass the Once-ler's place if he was to get anywhere at all from this road, so he decided he'd just pass by it quietly; the old man wouldn't even notice he had been there at all. It was time for Aloysius O'Hare to discover the rest of the world! Perhaps start a new empire! Not air, but something altogether new and woefully exaggerated in its purposefulness. His thoughts remained along that line as he continued towards the Once-ler's dwelling, brainstorming products and ways in which he could exploit the community of, well, wherever he ended up.
He was still quite far from where the Once-ler's Lurkim stood, and he wasn't in any hurry, so he decided to take a break when his admittedly small legs didn't feel like carrying him any farther. He sat down in the grass to the side of the road and laid back. With plans now buzzing in his mind, he was much more at peace than a mere two hours ago. He almost laughed at his former dejection. He was businessman at heart, and failure was just a part of the industry. Also, if he could learn from this recent failure, he could make his new venture bigger than the last; perhaps regain his honour and fortune! He practically giggled with glee and anticipation.
"Hey, what are you laughin' at?" O'Hare practically jumped at the unfamiliar voice. He subsequently jumped quite high when he saw a small, orange, furry creature with a big yellow mustache in front of him. Did this animal actually just talk? He stared for a moment with his mouth agape as the creature crossed its arms.
"I asked you a question," the orange creature said. Its voice was rather sharp-ish and bossy, and it was obviously of some intelligence, but... but... what was it? It sighed and turned away, but still kept a wary eye on the freaked-out businessman.
"Hey, Beanpole, come see this!" It yelled in the other direction, then turned back to O'Hare. O'Hare was still regaining whatever he had left of his composure when a rather tall, lanky old man strolled over.
"I think he's a mute," the orange creature said to the man. O'Hare didn't recognize this new person, but he sized him up with a trained eye and attempted to figure it out. He was tall, that was for sure. Even though his posture was slightly crouched and his knees were bent with age, he would still tower over anyone he knew. This man also had a mustache, much like the creature did, but his was grey and a little less well-kempt. But the defining clue that told O'Hare who this man was had to be the long, green coat and elbow-length green gloves he wore. It was the Once-ler; the last person he had hoped to see.
"Aloysius O'Hare," the Once-ler said in greeting, offering his hand to help O'Hare to his feet. The grey-suited businessman took it and allowed himself to be pulled into a standing position. He was dismayed to learn that he wasn't much taller than the orange creature, who was now staring at his tall friend incredulously.
"You know this guy?" it asked.
"Well, I don't know him any more than he knows me," the Once-ler replied with a half-smile in O'Hare's direction.
"So is he mute?" The creature asked. The Once-ler shook his head in amusement. He then proceeded to introduce them.
"O"Hare, this is my friend, the Lorax."
"Hey," the Lorax said gruffly in greeting. O'Hare nodded in acknowledgement, still a little too shocked to make his voice work properly. After a few moments of uninterrupted silence, the Lorax turned once again to the Once-ler.
"I still think he's mute." Okay, this was really starting to tick O'Hare off.
"I am not a mute, you furry... thing!" He exclaimed, pointing a menacing finger at the Lorax. The orange creature simply glanced in amusement at his friend.
"Reminds me of you," he said. The Once-ler simply smiled and pushed O'Hare gently back a couple of paces.
"No need for harsh words, O'Hare, it's not as though you have a reputation to uphold anymore." he said. That statement really hit home, and O'Hare had to sit down again to gather his thoughts. It wasn't as though the Once-ler had said it mockingly or degradingly. He'd said it as though he knew exactly what he was talking about, as though it was a simple fact and that it had to be accepted sometime. O'Hare knew this to be true, but he wasn't about to accept it just yet.
"B-but I will," he said feebly in argument. "I'll have quite a reputation. I've got plans, I'm rebuilding, I'm going to... to..." the words failed him as he realized how pathetic this sounded.
"I'm going to find another town, and sell them the one thing they need." He finished, standing up to his full height. Wow, that was really... just, bad. He knew this, but didn't allow himself to be swayed. That was his strongest attribute, he thought; his ability to convince himself that he was right in every way. Doubt was never an option. The Once-ler shook his head and put his hand in his pocket. When he pulled it out, he handed the tiny object he held to the Lorax. The orange creature looked at O'Hare for a long moment.
"Kid," he said, "This is the one thing that everyone needs." He gave the tiny object to O'Hare. O'Hare looked it over. It was a small, brown, innocent seed. He studied it. The tiny thing could easily be crushed, but it still had a chance to survive when cared for. It wasn't yet a tree; it had to start right from scratch. Maybe that's what he had to do. Start over.
No, he was a businessman; he had no time to waste on new beginnings. He threw the seed aside. He expected the Lorax and the Once-ler to reprimand him for it like a child, but the Lorax simply nodded while the Once-ler watched the seed's path through the air indifferently. This confused O'Hare, but he didn't allow himself to dwell on it.
"Well," said the Once-ler. "I think I'll be off. I still have to ask the Bar-ba-loots to ransack my home during the day rather than when I'm trying to sleep." He began to walk off.
"Right behind ya, Beanpole" the Lorax said, following. O'Hare was a little bit confused, and just stared after them until the Once-ler turned as though he had forgotten something.
"I was just wondering," he said, "Were you happy?" O'Hare was a bit taken aback by the question.
"What do you mean?"
"When you were at the top of the game, a big corporation with no competitors; were you happy?" the Once-ler asked. The Lorax glanced at his friend knowingly.
"Of course I was!" O'Hare answered automatically. The Once-ler just nodded slowly and continued on. What was that about? He was happy, wasn't he? All that money, running the entire town of Thneedville, a statue in the middle of town... it was great! ...Right? He watched the Once-ler and his furry orange companion leave, for the first time beginning to doubt himself.
After a few moments, he picked up the seed from where it had fallen. Without knowing why, he placed it gently in his pocket, and went on his way.
A/N: Hope you liked it. Reviews always make me happy! :D