A/N: ...I just really like the idea of Greed-ler Bot staying with Once-ler until he's old.
The first time he was put into sleep mode was the first night he was created. Once-ler stressed that he needed to rest and conserve his energy - it wasn't good for all those gears inside him to be kept running 24/7. He was given a normal 'sleep' schedule just like any other normal human. He went to bed at a reasonable time and woke up early in the morning to take care of his chores. Simple.
Then that last Truffula tree fell.
Once-ler was devastated. Everyone had left. The little orange thing that was listed as 'Mustache' in his memory banks, 'his family', the employees, even the girl named Norma who occasionally visited them. It was just Once-ler and Greed-ler Bot, alone with piles of money and an empty wasteland.
He was put to work at first, told to go out and dig around for seeds or search for more trees while Once-ler took care of all of the loose ends - there were final interviews, Thneed factories to be sold, Thneedville needed to be finished, and angry mobs needed to be dispersed. He came back with bruises and black eyes, cuts and scratches, but he always gave a tired smile to his robot.
Eventually that all stopped, though, and they were left alone in the only part of the factory that didn't get demolished - Once-ler deemed it the lerkim and Greed-ler added it to his memory bank. The searching for seeds and trees stopped and the barrels of oil were delivered. To get through the harsh cold nights, Once-ler dug up some old Thneeds laying around in boxes and even though Greed-ler couldn't feel a damn thing, his creator insisted he wear a Thneed of his very own around his neck fashioned as a scarf - "What do you mean it's pointless? They might have ruined everything but they definitely didn't ruin anyone's fashion! You look great in it, Greed, quit fussing about.
And after a month of painstakingly long hours and constant cleaning of the lerkim, his oil supply was dwindling fast. Even one barrel a day wasn't enough to last. This would be the first time he went into an abnormally long period of sleep mode. Once-ler sat him down for a talk, explaining that they wouldn't be able to get more oil for a very long time and that if he ran so long without any spare parts or anything to fix him up with, he'd never be able to fix him when he ran down.
It became very apparent very quickly what he was being asked to do.
He promised he'd wake the bot up, swore on his life he'd do it, but he never said when. It wasn't at least twenty years later when he was woken up by a much older man with a mustache - not so enormous of a mustache that he couldn't tell who it was, though. There was a quick check-up to make sure everything was still running well. A ton of hugging and crying came from Once-ler's end and Greed-ler noticed that his voice box must have been a little busted up because his words came out scratchy and croaky and he coughed an awful lot. The bot offered him a barrel of oil, but the man kindly declined the offer and brought him up to speed.
Not much to bring up to speed. They were out in the middle of nowhere and the town had been built. The end. Oh, and Once-ler's systems were malfunctioning and needed some serious maintenance. Little bits of hair in his mustache were turning grey and he was starting to get wrinkles in his skin, something that made Greed-ler rub his smooth gloved hand over his cheek and shake his head. There was some good news, though.
Once-ler found a ton of seeds after a few years of nonstop searching. He already planted a few and excitedly told Greed-ler that things would be back to normal in no time at all and to save the impatient bot the pain of waiting for the trees and animals to return, he was putting him back into sleep mode for another few years - "Just until everything's back, I swear."
Nothing was back when he 'woke up' the next time. The only thing different was that the Lerkim was a complete mess and that his once young and practically twin creator was now slightly hunched over and his hair had gone completely grey. He had wrinkles everywhere, his mustache was just as enormous as the orange peanut. It seemed like centuries had gone on without him.
He was kept awake this time, thankfully. Greed-ler waited on Once-ler day in and day out. He made sure to keep a pot of boiling water on the stove at all times for tea whenever the old man wanted and he always held his hand when going down stairs - even if he did put up such a fuss about all the extra help. Then a boy came around asking for trees and the two sat upstairs in the bedroom as Once-ler told his story, Greed-ler playing old projections whenever there was something he had recorded to show the kid - Ted.
On the last day that the boy came around, Once-ler handed him the last seed in his possession - the others long buried and patiently waiting in the soil to grow. And then came that long talk again.
"It's for the best," Once-ler told him. "They'll grow this time and I know you're restless, Greed. I can't keep you running in these conditions anyway. You'll tire yourself out before me. Don't worry, I'll wake you up just as soon as the Barbuloots are back and you, me, and Pipsqueak will all sit outside on the porch and you can drink all the oil you want."
Well who could say no to such an amazing deal as that?
A final goodnight and he wasn't woken back up for at least a year.
But for once, it wasn't the old mechanic's face that greeted him.
Ted moved back and greeted him with a good morning, already jumping into a one-sided conversation about how all the trees were back and the Lorax and how the walls were torn down - "All my part, thank you" - and how Greed-ler wouldn't be able to take those big robot eyes off of the hills when they stepped outside.
The question had to come up eventually and the man wasn't anywhere nearby to voice it for him so he just had to ask it with all screeches and pops and crackles and fuzz.
And then everything got quiet and sad and Greed-ler could swear that even the Swomme Swans and Humming Fish he heard earlier from outside had gone silent as well. It wasn't an easy question to answer, of course, and everything had to wear down eventually. Even Greed-ler knew that.