Arrival

Once-ler and Fiora laid to the grass in the shade, looking at each other. He was happy living in this perfect place. Once-ler felt ready to have his first kiss with the forest girl...and he wanted it to be perfect. He was so clumsy and shy when it came to girls, but with Fiora, she made him feel comfortable. She was kind and loving girl; she didn't laugh at him nor thought he was weird when he knitted or wore his frilly pink apron when he cooked pancakes or his blue pajamas with yellow bunnies.

He licked his lips nervously, glad he had brushed his teeth and was hoping he wouldn't scare the forest sprite or God forbid drool when he did this. Fiora was learning about the human world and their customs, having been sheltered all her life in the Truffula forest. This custom he wanted to do was quite a challenge for him since he had never done this before. Not that he never thought about it. Love was a feeling that was strange to him since it was not expressed with his family. He was loyal and loved them, but they teased him all the time and they never appreciated him nor anything he did. His very existence was often treated like he was invisible. Even if they did acknowledged him, it was merely for something they wanted or for cruel amusement. After all, he did most of the housework and fed and cleaned for his family. There have been times when he silently wished that someone would take his awful family away or to do the same for him.

Someone save me, take me away from this awful place.

He was ever so glad to have found refuge in the Truffula forest...just being here with the green girl who had no exposure to human customs or thoughts made him feel normal and she appreciated him and his uniqueness. She actually found him to be fascinating.

"F-Fiora?" he said, his voice trembling.

"Yes?" she replied.

"Could you...er...close your eyes?" he said.

"Why?" she asked curiously.

"I...I have a surprise for you," he said.

Fiora was excited! She loved surprises...especially after Once-ler arrived to the Truffula forest. He showed her many things, foods, and worlds from his world. Everything about this young man was surprising. She fluttered her lids shut, smiling as she awaited this surprise that Once-ler had for her.

Blushing and trembling, Once-ler leaned towards Fiora's lips and was JUST about to have his first kiss with the forest sprite...

Neither of them noticed a barn owl roosting on one of the Truffula trees. Jareth observed the youths as they laid in the grass. There was his new bride. Beautiful as ever. As he observed them, he ruffled his feathers in disgust as he looked at the peasant. Why would a beautiful creature choose a commoner for a companion was beyond him. What was it about this raven-haired boy that fascinated her so? He watched as the peasant leaned forward to kiss this beautiful maiden when...

"Beanpole!" shouted the grouchy voice of the Lorax. "WHAT are YOU doing?!"

Once-ler snapped back to reality. He let out a startled cry...then glared at the orange guardian of the forest that had yet again interrupted an intimate moment between him and Fiora. She was slowly getting used to human customs, and EVERY time he wanted to get close to her, this furry meatloaf was always killing the mood. The Lorax was like a very annoying, overprotective father.

Fiora's eyes snapped open as she heard her mentor yell. She was just about to ask what he was going to do, only for the argument between them to cut her off.

"Dammit, meatloaf!" he yelled, frustrated. "Can't you JUST keep your giant mustache out of my business for ONE minute? Jeez! You are such a busybody!"

"Well, I said I was gonna keep an eye on you, Beanpole," said the Lorax.

"So you've told me," Once-ler said sulkily. "A MILLION times!" Then rolled his eyes and said in a mocking Lorax voice, "I speak for the trees! I'm keepin' an eye on you, Beanpole! Bla bla bla!"

Fiora was so tired of them always arguing: her friend and her mentor. She got up and was about to leave...

"Fiora, wait!" said Once-ler. Then looked at Lorax with a glare, "Now look what you did, Mustache!"

"I'm not the one to blame, Beanpole!" said the Lorax.

"It's BOTH of your fault!" Fiora yelled angrily, her hair turned red. "EVERY minute of EVERY day you two fight! I'm so tired of it! I wish you two would just put aside your differences for ONCE and get along! Is that SO hard to do?!"

She stormed away towards the lily pond, brooding. She flopped on the grass, leaning against the tree, looking out at the floating flowers and their green pads on the glassy surface of the pond. She wanted to be alone with her thoughts.

She really liked Once-ler...he was a kind, funny, and a handsome human. He was smart too! She was glad he was her teacher about the human world. She learned a lot from him.

Yet, she wondered if there were other sprites out there, what happened to them. Was she the only one? Lorax didn't seem to know if there were others. She had wished for the longest time for a someone. Once-ler's arrival was a blessing from Mother Tree. The only human who came to the Truffula valley. As old as time itself, she had never seen any other humans come here. She recalled their first meeting, which seemed long ago. It was not very pleasant and she didn't really like to dwell on unpleasant things.

It seemed from day one when Once-ler arrived at the forest, he and the Lorax always fought, even after he promised to never chop down another tree. It was getting so annoying (a very interesting word Fiora had learned from Once-ler after asking too many questions; it meant to make someone angry, but in a mild sense).

Sighing, she dipped her toe in the water. The humming-fish popped their heads out and looked at the sprite...soon there was a rustle in the bushes, getting Fiora's attention. She squinted as she looked around. She wondered if it was one of the animals hiding in there. Maybe Pipsqueak.

"Is someone there?" she called.

She got up and went towards where she heard the rustle and to her surprise, there was a very tall man, dressed like he was from some kind of forest. His skin was pale. She couldn't make out his face because he wore a mask that was made from leaves, but they were certainly not from the Truffula forest. His two different colored eyes peered out of the eyeholes: one was green, the other was blue. His wild, blonde hair had some blue streaks in it. He wore a crown made of tree branches that had pink flowers. His attire was very strange: a white billowy shirt that was open at the chest, he wore a cape made of moss, his green trousers were way too tight, showing off the shape of his legs and hips. Fiora's cheeks burned as her mossy eyes wandered...oh! She turned away, quite embarrassed.

Jareth smirked as he stared at the green girl whose hair had turned a shade of pink. She had to be blushing.

"Hello there," he said in a very smooth voice.

Fiora lost her words. She didn't know what to say to this stranger.

Jareth smirked to himself. The girl was obviously childlike: scared, curious and very naive. It would be a piece of cake! He laughed silently as he recalled hearing Sarah say those words so long ago. Perhaps he should talk to her to make her more comfortable

"No need to be frightened, my child," he assured her. "I won't hurt you. I was just admiring this lovely forest."

He sensed she was more at ease, pleased to hear he liked this place. He reached to touch a tuft of a Truffula tree with his fingertips.

"This certainly is a beautiful place," Jareth commented. "What are these lovely trees? I have never seen such trees like this."

"They're Truffula trees," Fiora explained.

"Amazing," he said. "They feel so soft...and what is that delightful smell?"

"It's the trees," she said.

"Delightful," he answered. "I can see why one would want to live here. Is there anyone else that lives here?"

"Well, just the animals and the Lorax...oh and Once-ler," she said.

Jarerh raised his eyebrows. "The Lorax?"

"Yes. He's the guardian of the forest...he protects the trees and speaks for them."

"I see. And who is this Once-ler?"

"He's a human who lives here...he's my friend."

"And what is your purpose in this lovely forest?"

"I'm a sprite," Fiora continued. "I take care of the trees and the creatures."

"Ah," he said. "Funny seeing one of my kind here."

"You mean you're a sprite as well?" she said excited. "All my life I have wondered if there were others."

"Well, my world is full of sprites," he said. "Would you like to meet them?"

There was a hesitance in the little green girl. "Oh...I don't know. I don't think I should..."

"But don't you want to meet them? I'm sure you have a lot of questions. Haven't you wondered about this all your life?"

"Well...yes. It's just that...I never left the forest before...and Once-ler told me never to go with strangers."

"Very wise advice," said Jareth. "Then allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jareth." He bowed to her. "And what is yours, sweet fairy?"

"My name is Fiora."

"Now we aren't strangers anymore. I'm very pleased to meet you, milady." He kissed her hand. Fiora pulled it away, frightened.

"Why have you done this?" she asked confused.

"It's how we greet each other...a very high respect towards women, especially one with such beauty."

Fiora's hair turned pink. She giggled as she was flattered by such words of the stranger.

"What's goin' on here?" demanded the Lorax.

"Oh!" said Fiora. "This is Jareth, Lorax. He's a sprite as well. Jareth, Lorax: guardian of the forest and my mentor."

The Lorax eyed the stranger with slit green eyes and furrowed bushy eyebrows. There was something about this stranger he didn't like; he sensed some kind of magic...trickery even.

Jareth almost laughed when the forest girl introduced him to this so-called guardian. A diminutive orange furry goblin with bushy mustache! He certainly looked nothing like a guardian. He chuckled amused at the sight.

"What are you laughing at, fairy boy?" he snarled.

"I'm surprised that you call yourself a guardian," Jareth replied. "What magic do you have that makes you so?"

"I have powers," retorted the Lorax. "But that's not how it works."

"Right," Jareth replied skeptical.

"Well, I don't believe you are a sprite either, fairy boy."

"And how would you know that?"

"Stop!" said Fiora. "Enough with the fighting! Why don't we go have pancakes at Once-ler's? I'm sure he would be happy to meet you, Jareth."

"Thank you," he said.

Fiora led Jareth to Once-ler's cottage. She knocked on his door and his blue eyes went wide when he beheld the strange man at his door.

"Jareth," said Fiora. "This is Once-ler. He's my best friend. Once-ler, this is Jareth. He's a sprite as well."

"Charmed," said Jareth.

"Nice to meet you," said Once-ler.

He felt a slight discomfort when Fiora referred to him as her friend. He wanted to be more than her friend...yet he promised himself to take things slow so he wouldn't scare her. He watched as Jareth and Fiora were talking. He felt a bit...jealous. He frowned. He thought about it logically: Fiora had found someone of her own kind, which she supposed was good since she was unsure if there were other sprites out there besides feelings for Yet he cared about her a lot. He would've had his first kiss by now if it wasn't interrupted by the Lorax.

Once-ler served his specialty pancakes which Jareth politely thanked him. As they sat and ate their meal, Jareth read the raven-haired boy's mind as well as the forest girl. Apparently he had feelings for her...she liked him as well.

"What brings you here to the Truffula forest?" asked Once-ler.

"I like to explore other worlds now and then," Jareth responded nonchalantly.

"And where are you from, fairy boy?" asked Lorax suspiciously

"My home is quite far away," Jareth replied. "Much further than you think."

"Try me, fairy boy," he challenged.

"I don't want to bore you. Well I must be on my way," announced Jareth once he ate his meal.

"Yes...and don't come back here!"

"Lorax!" Fiora exclaimed. "Don't be rude! He was just passing by." She turned to Jareth. "I do apologize for him. He just doesn't like intruders."

"No offense taken, milady," Jareth said. "I bid you farewell."

Once-ler was glad this guy was gone. He hoped he would never see him again. He didn't like the way he was looking at Fiora; all desirous and flirting with her.

"Fiora?" Once-ler said.

"'Yes?"

""You know how we talked about not talking to strangers?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Just...if you see that guy again, just don't talk to him."

"Jareth is not a stranger," said Fiora. "He's a sprite like me."

"I know that," said Once-ler. "But still I don't think you should talk too him."

"I agree with Beanpole," said the Lorax. "There's something suspicious about that fairy boy."

"Why do you say this?"

"There's some kind of magic...going on with him. I sense he's up to no good."

"But..."

"No buts, Green Girl. Under no circumstances are you to talk to that fairy boy."

"OK," said Fiora. "I won't."