Sorry about that little delay, as I worked on the chapter it gotten...extremely long, let's just say I'm still not done with it. So I ended up making the decision by splitting the chapter, I think you guys waited long enough hehe.
~~Response to readers!~~
KuraOkami13- Lol, you know what's funny I never originally planned to give Luke any side role in the story, it was one of those things that just...developed.
AngetianPrincess18- Yeah, Ted's sneakiness and fast acting in the movie gave me the impression that he was a smart kid for his age.
TheRaven'sComputerDesk- Muahahaha! Indeed I am! I always believe a good story should fill you with all kinds of emotions, the Harry Potter series did that with me.
beanie-art1- Yeah, O'Hare is about to put all his cards on the table, let's hope Ted and the others will be one step ahead.
KuraiArcoiris- Wow, I'm striking everyone with emotions, lol! Strangling someone is a perfectly healthy emotion...just as long as it's not literal haha!
masterloki159- I normally update every couple weeks, this particular one was longer cause the chapter kept going. I love writing this story so much! It's a shame that we're slowly reaching the end but who knows maybe I'll write some short stories based on this universe, hehe.
yapook- I like it too! For some reason I've had the idea in my head since I first watched the movie. In fact, my whole idea of how he became one with the tree was completely different when I first started writing it.
Here's the next chapter! Enjoy!
The Tree with a tongue
Chapter 15: Coming together
"Hurry hurry! Get in!"
Ted waited patiently as the Once-ler climbed through his opened window with him following closely behind; he quickly turned around, shut the window and locked it. Now that they were safe, they can finally take a moment to rest; the Once-ler sat on his bed while Ted sat at his desk.
The Once-ler covered his face with his palms, "I can't believe this."
Ted let out a deep sigh, "Yeah, I'm kinda surprised my plan worked too."
The Once-ler tensed up as he shot a glare, "Not about that! I can't believe that crazed maniac has made emergency drills that alerted my presence, and you're the one that wanted me to go into town in the first place!"
"I'm sorry, I didn't think about them. The only time they ever went off was the first Tuesday of every month for testing, it's been that routine all my life that I completely forgot about their actual purpose."
The Once-ler deflated as he observed Ted's guilt ridden face, he slowly placed his palms back on his face. Ted turned his chair so he was facing him and gestured some reassurance.
"Look, we have some time to plan. Right now the important part is to tell my Grammy and my Mom about you, and to wait until Audrey comes over, hopefully she'll find a way to sneak out of her house." Ted walked over and placed a hand on his shoulder, "So there's no reason to panic at all."
"Ted!" A voice came from the hallway.
Ted panicked, "OH CRUD! HIDE! HIDE!"
Ted yanked the Once-ler to his feet as he desperately looked around for a spot to hide, he spotted his closet and with that he threw the door open, shoved the taller man inside and slammed the door behind him.
Ted turned around just in time to watch his main bedroom door open, revealing his mother. He folded his arms behind him and smiled wide, "Hey Mom."
Helen sighed and let her shoulders drop with relief, "Ted, thank goodness you're home. The sirens are going off and you were still out there somewhere, I got so worried….." She walked over, got on one knee and placed gentle hands on his shoulders, "Are you okay? You're not hurt are you?"
"N-no, I'm okay."
Helen smiled, "Thank goodness." She quietly got to her feet and after a pause, her expression changed as instant as flipping a light switch, "THEN YOU ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE!"
Ted cringed and took a step back, "Mom listen, I…."
"I have just about had it up to here with this behavior of yours!" She threw a flat palm above her forehead to emphasize her statement, "I am not leaving this spot until you explain yourself!"
The doorbell rang.
Helen tensed up like she was about to lose her mind, she quickly took a deep breath to calm herself before she glared down at her son, "Don't…move." To confirm her point, she snatched the keys to his bike from his desk and shoved them in the pocket of her dress as she walked out his room.
Ted groaned, "I have a feeling telling her is not going to be easy."
He then remembered the Once-ler; he rushed over to the door and opened it to check on him, he was met with a pained look from the Once-ler, "You're Mom seems a little upset."
Ted laughed weakly while he rubbed the back of his head, "Yeah well, leaving town didn't go well for my Mom so I had to sneak out this morning."
"Ted!" Both the Once-ler and Ted jumped, "Mr. O'Hare is here, he wants to talk to you!"
The two gazed at each other with a look of horror. Ted replied, "Be right there!" He turned back to the Once-ler, "Everything will be fine, just stay in here." With that he practically shut the door in his face before the taller man even had a chance to respond. He rushed out of his room and practically stumbled his way down the stairs, he paused halfway when he saw O'Hare sitting on the couch perpendicular to his Mom; there was a crazed look in his eyes. Another thing he didn't like was how close his two bulky guards stood beside his Mom, which made her very tense.
"Ted…" His Mom started.
"Ms. Wiggins, there's nothing to be concerned about, I just need to discuss something important with your son."
"Care to explain to me what it's about, I think as his mother I have a right to know."
O'Hare shot her a sharp look, "Say, you know what will take the tension out of this room? Those peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies I missed out on last time. Why don't you whip some up?"
Helen glared, "I'm not going anywhere."
O'Hare inhaled sharply through his nose as his lips pressed together in anger. He snapped his fingers and one of the guards grabbed her roughly by the arm,
"Hey!" Helen shouted,
"Mom!" Ted rushed down to the bottom of the stairs, "Let her go!" he snarled.
"Oh no, she wants to get in on what's going on then she's more than happy to listen." He hopped off the couch and chuckled, "You're aware of the sirens that are going off right Ms. Wiggins?" he didn't bother to wait for a response, "Well this town has every right to be afraid for the Once-ler is indeed on the loose in my beautiful town," he glared over to Ted, "And your son here is most likely hiding him in this very house."
"What?!" Helen shouted.
"I know you have him in here Ted," he smirked slyly at Ted, "I also know you have the other thing that I want; I think you know what I'm talking about." He slowly walked up to him, his features darkening as he growled, "Hand them both over to me. Now."
Ted was not at all fazed by his threatening glare. He gave a slight shrug and replied, "I'm sorry, I have no idea what you're talking about."
O'Hare shouted in rage, "Alright, I've had enough of this! I have no idea how you snuck into my building, or how you got one of my employees to help you but I'm ending this game!" With another snap of his fingers, the other guard walked up to him. O'Hare smirked, "Well, if you truly have nothing to hide, then you'll have no problem if the two of us checked your room!"
With a sharp jolt of fear, Ted put his palms up and stopped the guard in his tracks as tried to get up the stairs, "No! You can't!"
"Ted!" Helen tried to move but the guard that held her arm yanked her back, she tried to pry him away, "Get off of me you big oaf!"
Meanwhile, Ted was pushing against the stairs with his feet as his only means of force to keep the guard back but even then he was slowly losing, "You can't go in my room!" When they reached the top of the stairs the guard shoved the boy out of their way, Ted watched in horror as they stormed towards his room, they would find the Once-ler for sure.
"Find them!" O'Hare shouted, "Turn this whole room inside out if you have to!"
Ted stumbled into his room in time to watch it get torn apart by the two; they checked under his bed, they emptied out his desk drawers, lifted his rug, ripped books and stuff off his shelves.
Ted held his breath when he saw O'Hare set his eyes on the closed closet door; the shorter man sneered as he slowly approached it, got on his tip toes and gripped on the handle.
Ted closed his eyes, he couldn't watch; the Once-ler was going to get caught and there was nothing he could do about it, he listened as O'Hare threw the door open with a triumphant shout, "Ah-HA!."
There was nothing there.
O'Hare deflated in defeat; however that still didn't stop him from ripping it apart. Ted eventually opened his eyes when heard the contents of his closet get thrown everywhere, he couldn't believe his luck; the Once-ler wasn't there, he was still safe.
But then where was he?
As he pondered on that question, he didn't notice the guard grabbing him by the shoulder and dragging him over to O'Hare, who grabbed one of the boxes that was in his closet as a step stool. Once Ted was planted in front of O'Hare, the shorter man glared at him murderously as he grabbed the collar of his shirt.
"Where. Is. He?"
Ted shrugged with a small smirk, "Not here obviously."
O'Hare growled, he pulled him slightly by his shirt then forcefully slammed him against the wall, "I SAID WHERE IS HE!?"
As Ted gasped in pain, the guard stared at his boss in shock; even he would never physically hurt a civilian, let alone a child. He tried to approach his boss to calm him down but O'Hare shooed his arm away.
"Get back!" O'Hare snarled, "I don't need your help for this!" He pulled Ted toward him briefly then slammed him against the wall again, much harder this time. O'Hare sneered as he heard Ted gasp in pain again, "I can do this all day Teddy!"
"No you will not!"
The next thing O'Hare knew, one of his arms was ripped away and being twisted quite painfully. He looked over in shock as Helen put him in an arm lock,
Helen growled at him, "You listen to me very carefully you crazy baby man, I don't care who you are; you never EVER lay a hand on my son!" She yanked him off the box and threw him over to the doorway, "Now get out of my house!"
Everyone was silent after that. O'Hare cradled his arm with a look of pure shock on his face; he was clearly not used to people talking to him like that. His shock was gone in an instant as he dusted the sleeve of his suit, "Of course of course, I can see Teddy needs a little time before he'll tell me the truth." He threw a glance at Ted, "In fact, take all the time you need but just remember one thing, you're going to have to leave this house eventually and when you do, I'll be waiting." He promptly found his way out of Ted's room; the guard glanced at the two Wiggins before he tentatively followed his boss.
After the two heard a faint sound of the front door being slammed rather hard, Ted snapped out of his daze and rushed over to his closet and looked inside, "Wh-where did he go? I don't understand."
As he looked around with a confused expression, Helen found herself in an interesting situation; she quickly recalled what O'Hare mentioned downstairs and began to put everything together, "Who…..who's 'he' Ted?"
Ted didn't respond, instead he found something on the floor beside his closet; it was Grammy's cane. Realization came at him like a bag of bricks, "Grammy? Where's Grammy?" He picked up the cane and rushed out of his room, once again ignoring his Mom's protests. He rushed towards the opposite end of the hall where his Grammy's room was; he skidded to a halt against the carpeting and gaped at what he saw.
The Once-ler, resting comfortably on his Grammy's bed while she gently handed him a glass of water. She patted him on the shoulder as he obligingly drank the liquid. She then turned as Ted calmly approached the two,
"Ted there you are, oh and you brought my cane, how nice of you."
Ted let out a relieved laugh, "Grammy, how did you…" he shook his head, he had chosen not to bother questioning it, "You really are awesome Grammy."
Norma giggled, "Well of course I am."
The two jumped when they heard Helen shout from behind them, "Ted! When I ask you a question you don't…." her sentence died out.
She froze as she spotted the individual on her mother's bed, followed by a scream, causing the other three to cover their ears. Ted cried out at what she was doing next; she picked up her mother's lamp from the table, yanked the cord out of the outlet and advanced on the Once-ler.
The Once-ler shielded his head with his arms as Ted rushed in and obstructed her path, his hands raised at her, "Mom! No!"
Helen raised the lamp more, "Ted! Get out of the way!"
"No! Listen to me! He's not….!"
After they heard Norma raise her voice like that, the other two members of the Wiggins family froze. What happened next was even more shocking, Norma raised her cane high enough and bonked Helen sharply on the head with it.
Norma's spoke sharply again, "Helen you put that lamp down this instant."
Helen was still rubbing the top of her head, completely shocked by her mother's action, "M-Mom, I….."
"I said put it down, this is not how we treat our guests."
Helen remembered hearing that tone of voice from her mother whenever she got in trouble and was shocked that she still had it in her. Frozen on the spot, she could only place the lamp slowly down onto the floor.
Everyone in the room relaxed, including the Once-ler as he lowered his arms. Ted let out a deep sigh, "Mom….this is the Once-ler, the real Once-ler."
Helen refused to take a step closer. Instead she leaned over to get a better look at the man's face, in which the Once-ler looked away shyly. She held a hand to her forehead; trying to figure all of this out was giving her a headache, "I-I don't understand…..you're obviously not human…..but…you're also not at all what…what O'Hare said."
Ted frowned, "That's because the man was lying, he's been making up stories about him to prevent any safe place for him to hide. Mr. Once-ler has something that O'Hare's been keeping from us for a long time and he's trying to get rid of it and him."
Helen stumbled until her shoulder was pressed against the wall, still trying to take this all in, "Okay…so what exactly does it….I mean, what exactly does he have that's so important?"
Ted rubbed the back of his head, out of the corner of his eye he could see the Once-ler's gaze set on him that says 'Where is it Ted?' "Well, once Audrey gets here, I'll be able to show you."
And with wonderful timing, the doorbell rang. Ted's face brightened up, "That must be her!"
Helen watched as her son rushed out the room, she turned and face the other two, "Who the heck is Audrey?"
The Once-ler meekly replied, "All I know, is that it's some girl he has a crush on, or at least the way he talks about her."
After being told all these years that the Once-ler was a vicious creature, having him talk like a regular person seemed too weird. Still, she found herself responding, "Crush?"
Ted skipped the last few steps in one giant jump, he rushed up until he almost collided with the door and opened it. He couldn't help himself but feel heart struck by Audrey's presence even during a dire situation, he hardly noticed her uncomfortable expression as she was preoccupied of whatever was behind her.
"Audrey," he smiled.
Audrey jumped and turned around, "Oh Ted you're home, that's good." She turned her head again, "What's going on out here?"
Ted raised a brow, "What do you mean?" he looked around her and his eyes widened; there was an O'Hare Air delivery truck park right across the street from his house with one of O'Hare's goons acting natural by pretending to read a newspaper but Ted could see his sunglasses peeking over the top. Another thing he noticed scared him, there were four strangely familiar bots encircling his house; their spider like legs inching left to right in anticipation as if they were waiting for him to step foot outside his house.
"Oh man…" he gasped.
"What in the world are those—ahh!" Audrey cried out when she felt Ted grab her hand and quickly pulled her inside, shutting the door behind them.
Ted quickly pulled the curtains shut and turned to her, "Did you bring the seed?"
Audrey took the seed out of her pocket, "Of course."
Ted smiled, "Good. Come on, there's someone I want you to meet." He rushed up the stairs with Audrey following closely behind him, he quickly halted in front of his Grammy's room and turned to her, "You just have to promise me not to scream."
"Uh, o-okay I promise."
With that, he gently guided her into the room, Audrey froze on the spot when she noticed the man lying on the bed. Ted smiled, "Audrey, this is the Once-ler."
Audrey gasped and took a step back, but Ted stopped her, "No-no! Its okay, he's not dangerous. He's the one who gave me the seed."
Audrey just stood there with an unreadable expression on her face as she stared at the Once-ler who tentatively stared back, with careful steps she slowly walked up to him, she squinted her eyes as she got a closer look at him. She spoke softly, "You look just like a Truffula tree."
That statement caught everyone in the room off guard, including the Once-ler. While Helen's whispered words, 'What's a Truffula tree' could be heard in the background, the Once-ler tentatively replied, "W-well, technically I am a Truffula tree."
Audrey took his words in for a moment before she did something unexpectedly; she sniffed the air around him. She smiled, "It's true, they do smell like butterfly milk."
Ted smiled in relief, Audrey definitely responded better to him than his Mom did. The Once-ler smiled softly at her before his expression suddenly jerked; as if he heard something that no one else in the room did. He spoke urgently to her, "The seed? Do you have the seed?"
"O-Of course, it's right here." She opened her palm and held up the seed to her.
The Once-ler gently took it from her and looked at it closely, "Did you do anything to it?"
Ted at first thought the man accused her of harming it, but before he could defend her she responded, "Well I heard that seeds needed water, so I gave it a little before I left. Why?"
The Once-ler smiled down at the seed, "Because…it's about to germinate."
"Germinate?" Ted asked, "What does that mean?"
The Once-ler held the seed out slightly, "Come look for yourself."
Everyone in the room slowly gathered together and watched as the little chestnut brown seed split open, and a little green sprout with faint stripes on the stem slowly emerged, everyone gaped in awe at the miraculous process.
"It's alive." Norma whispered, her voice quivered with weeping joy.
"Of course it's alive," the Once-ler calmly replied, "It's just been sleeping. Seeds are able to sleep for a long time until a little water and sun wakes them up."
Norma wiped a built up tear in the corner of her eye, "I'm so happy you kept it after all these years." Her statement made everyone in the room turn their heads towards her. She giggled at the confused look on the Once-ler's face, "Don't you recognize me?"
Helen, Ted and Audrey had no idea what was going on, the Once-ler however, let out a small laugh, "I can't believe it," he spoke softly, "Little Norma, it's really you. I thought….I thought after all these years, you…you'd be…."
"Oh please I'm not that old, this ol' girl is still going strong!" She took a long gaze at the Once-ler, "But you….you looked like you haven't aged a day, it's like time hasn't moved at all."
After the long silence from the others, Ted broke it as he started, "Grammy….."
She turned to him, "I knew I made the right choice by telling you dear and I'm sorry I've kept you in the dark, I just wanted you to get to know him the way I did." She took a deep breath and turned towards the other three, "I suppose it's time I told you all how I met the Once-ler."
In case any of you were wondering how Helen escaped, she kicked his butt is what she did! Lol!
To Be Continued…..