Once-ler's POV

That awful haze that had fogged up my mind for the past few gruelling hours was finally beginning to clear away. I had probably noticed it long before waking up, but much as people do when waking, I forgot. Ergo, I woke up to a rather pleasant surprise. My headache didn't pound when I took in the bright colours of the sun playing across my tent's canvas structure. My throat wasn't quite so painfully scratchy, and I actually felt as though I might be able to eat something more substantial than day-old soup.

I raised the palm of my hand to my forehead, noting that my temperature had gone down very slightly. It was hardly noticeable, but when one's had a fever for a few days, one tends to become aware of these things.

"Hey, look who's awake!" The jovial voice of the Lorax shook me from whatever notion of sleep I may still have retained, and I lifted my head to meet his gaze.

"How're ya feeling, Beanpole?" He asked. I blinked. He was sitting down comfortably at the end of my bed, looking at me with a mixed expression of concern and relief. I didn't bother to attempt the use of my voice; even if I was able to talk now, my mouth was far too dry to form coherent words. I flopped my head back onto the pillow and raised my arm to offer him a thumbs up.

"Yeah, sure," the Lorax smirked. I didn't actually see the smirk, per say, but I could certainly feel the miasma of a disbelieving smirk originating from his general direction. That wasn't even true. I just imagined he smirked and took it for truth. Seemed like something he'd do. Sighing ever-so-slightly, I was surprised and a bit relieved to find that I didn't break down into a coughing fit as a result. I sat up with less trouble than it had taken me for days prior, glancing over to the small side-table that had been set up to the right of my bed. Atop it was an open tin of honey-lemon throat lozenges, a dull pencil, a pad of paper, and a bottle of pills. I vaguely remembered several of the lozenges being forced into my mouth by my brothers upon waking for the first time after passing out, and though I appreciated their aid in my continuing state of recovery, it would have been nice if they had allowed me to actually wake up enough to be aware of what the heck was going on at the time. Speaking of...

"Whoa!" The Lorax nearly tumbled off the bed, digging his furry fingers into the quilt in an attempt to find some form of grip as the door slammed open, the force of it sending the whole tent shaking. I nearly laughed, pleasantly surprised to find my larynx allowed a small noise to escape (albeit a somewhat squeaky and incoherent noise that sounded more like a mouse dying than an attempted verbal conveyance of humour). Chet and Brett burst in, roughhousing all the way. I was a bit irked as they routinely knocked over most of the delicately balanced kitchenware that the Bar-ba-loots had evidently been experimenting with while I was out like a light. I sighed, coughing slightly (to my chagrin). Oh well, I couldn't expect myself to have completely recovered after only two days. Or maybe it was three days? Four? I couldn't really rely on my sense of time, I'd been asleep for the most part.

"Hey! Beanpole! Are ya listening?" I looked up, realizing I'd been completely out of it... once again. The Lorax was looking at me curiously, the worry having seeped from his mind gradually over the past few days as he observed my recovery closely. I nodded in response, thought about it, and then shook my head.

"Yeah, didn't think so."

"What?" I said. Or at least, I attempted to say. My throat rewarded me with a wheezing sound and a cough, at which both Brett and Chet laughed. They had set about preparing a meal of sorts; they'd been pretty well ignoring me aside from the occasional lame verbal jab or taunting laugh since I'd started insisting I could continue to care for myself on my own. Nothing unusual there. One of them shoved a steaming mug of hot water into my hands before going back to help the other with the cooking. I took a moment to properly balance it before looking back to the Lorax expectantly. He watched my brothers with a sort of reserved confusion before remembering that he had been talking to me. Surprising. I didn't think anything could make him forget to blab his chatty mouth off.

"Oh, right, uh, I was gonna ask ya something," he said a bit offhandedly, glancing at my brothers again. I raised my eyebrows slightly in question, breathing in the steam from the mug of hot water I held clutched in my hands.

"Are they...?" He motioned to Brett and Chet with one hand while making a circle around his ear with the other; well, where his ear would be if he had any visible ears. I nearly dropped the mug in my lap, my silent laughter reverting to coughs. Once the fit had passed, I kept a hand placed firmly over my mouth, grinning as I nodded. The Lorax looked at me disbelievingly, probably incredulous that I found this very serious question of his so funny, and confused about my answer. My brothers hadn't even turned around, evidently used to my intermittent coughing fits by now. Not really surprising. I took a lozenge from the tin on the bedside table and placed it under my tongue to discourage the scratchiness of my throat. I was honestly feeling quite tired again after only having been awake for... well, less than an hour. This was getting ridiculous. I sighed, the Lorax giving me an annoyingly knowing look. I snatched up the paper and pencil and scribbled down a note, shoving it in the fuzzy, mustachioed meatloaf's face. He swung his arms about wildly before managing to snatch onto the paper, giving me a reprehensive look. I tried not to smile in amusement. I failed.

"Hmf," the Lorax huffed, turning his furry orange back and swinging his feet over the side of the bed to read the note as he dropped to the floor. He paced around as he studied the paper, working to decipher the strange little squiggle groups known as words. After about thirteen seconds, he looked at me with an eyebrow raised, not believing me in the slightest. I didn't expect him to, but if it got him off my case for a few seconds (as it had) then I was perfectly fine with it.

"Of course you're tired! It's obvious!" The Lorax's little outburst made Chet turn around inquisitively, though he only remained interested for about two and a half milliseconds. The Lorax, however, continued staring at me sternly. I rolled my eyes and flopped down on the pillows again, closing my eyes and hoping my denial along the lines of being tired would make him – for once – take the hint and leave me be to sleep. And for once – to my complete and utter surprise – he did.