After the Bucket family moved into Willy Wonka's factory, things eventually settled down and became normal. Well, as normal as life with the "amazing chocolatier" can get, in any case. And Mrs. Bucket did have a hard time getting used to the tiny Sugar Starlings flying around the Chocolate Room, as they were what pollinated the candy trees, as Mr. Wonka explained once one had flown down the chimney of the little house and spread soot all over the floor once it had gotten out of the fireplace. But soon, they all learned to avoid the rooms with the red skulls and cross bones on them and to ignore the random but frequent explosions coming from the Inventing Room.

Charlie had tried going to his regular school for a while, but after being constantly hounded by the press, and his teachers and peers for days on end, he, his parents, and Willy had all decided that it was best that he be tutored inside the factory. He was free, of course, to play outside the gates whenever he wanted to, however.

Before anyone knew it, it had nearly been a year since the golden tickets had been dispersed and the great Willy Wonka's heir had been selected. And while nearly a year was important, there was something else even more important.

Charlie's birthday.

"Can't you just give me a little hint, Mr. Wonka?" begged Charlie. "Please?"

"Absolutely not," he insisted firmly. But with a mischievous grin, he added "But it is pretty amazing…"

"You're not helping! Just the slightest clue!"

"It's going to blow you away, that's all I'm going to say."

"It isn't fair!"

"Charlie, hush and eat your dinner," ordered his mother. "You'll get your gifts tomorrow, first thing. And you, Willy, I don't care if this big mystery gift is the state of Alaska, stop teasing the boy."

Both sank a bit lower in their seats, but the genius could help but whisper "It's something you really want…"


Before Mrs. Bucket could respond, there was a knock at the door of the little house where the family and usually Willy had dinner. Charlie's father answered it.

It was, unsurprisingly, an Oompa Loompa. He shook of his coating of sugar dust from the sprinklers above to make it look like it was snowing before stepping inside. He handed a piece of paper to Willy.

The man scanned it, rolling his eyes before giving it back. "Go shred it or something. I don't know why I even bother with this stuff anymore."

"What was that?" Grandpa Joe asked as the Oompa Loompa exited, and Mr. Bucket shut the door behind him.

"Oh, just some girl in Canada claiming she's my daughter," he snorted. "Pass the peas, please."

"Shouldn't you be concerned or something over a thing like that?" questioned Grandma Josephine.

"Nah, I get about twenty of those letters a week. I swear, a little bit of fame and the entire world wants your genes in them just to get some money out of you. Disgraceful. The kids get blood tests, and it proves their not mine. Besides, the kids have to be at least fifteen to even be considered, since that's when I closed up the factory, so they've lost that 'All I want is to meet my Daddy' quality." He paused in the action of dishing out the round, green vegetables. "Still…"

"Still what?" prodded Charlie.

"Usually these kids have a mother behind them pushing them out into the spotlight and feeding some sob story into them. The letter said this kid's mother up and died and left my name in her will as her father."

"Shame," Mrs. Bucket sighed. "A real shame. But please, eat up, before the food gets cold."

The next morning, the artificial sunlight woke Charlie. He stretched before leaping out of bed and down the stairs.

His mother was cooking up a special breakfast of pancakes and sausages. "Good morning, dear. And happy eleventh birthday."

"Is Mr. Wonka here yet?" he needed to know.

As if on cue, the mentioned candy man burst through the door, clad in his bright purple velvet jacket. "Ah, what a lovely day it is! Morning, all!"

"Good morning, Mr. Wonka," Charlie replied politely. "Can I please see my present now? Please?"

Looking confused, he inquired "What present?"

"My birthday present!"

"Your… Oh, is that today?" He smacked himself on the forehead. "Dang it, I plum forgot."

"Stop being such a bloody tease, Wonka," advised Mr. Bucket, emerging from the bedroom and straightening his tie.

"Alright, alright. Sheesh. Can't blame a person for trying, can you? Bring it in, boys!"

Two Oompa Loompas came into the house, carrying a wrapped box about as big as a medium-sized T.V. There were air holes in the top.

"That had better not be from Loompa Land," warned Mrs. Bucket.

"No, a little closer to home," Wonka assured her. "Go ahead, Charlie, open it! I know you'll love it!" He seemed almost as anxious for Charlie to open it as Charlie was to open it.

He slit the paper open over the top and opened the flaps. No sooner had he done so then a ball of brown fur hurtled towards him, knocking him flat on his back.

Willy clapped his hands together. "So, do you not love him?"

Charlie got a hold on the ball of fur, and held it out so he could look at it. "A dog! A dog of my very own! Oh, thank you, Mr. Wonka, thank you!"

"I'm so glad you like it!" he grinned. "He's a purebred chocolate Labrador!"

"What else?" groaned Grandpa George.

"What's his name, Mr. Wonka?"

"He doesn't have one yet. I thought maybe you'd like you name him?"

The boy thought of the one thing that had changed his life forever. It had gotten he and his family out of the cold and into a sweet wonderland. It had also led to the reuniting of Mr. Wonka and his father.

"Ticket," he finally said with a grin. "His name is Ticket."

"Sounds like you should have gotten the boy a Golden Retriever," joked Grandpa Joe.

"A dog in a chocolate factory?" Grandpa George inquired. "Isn't that a little… unhygienic?"

"Oh, he's perfectly trained," assured Willy. "Plus, I invented an annual pill animals can take to stop them from shedding. Fur only comes out when you brush them. I've been working on it for months." Changing the subject just as quickly, as he had obviously gotten bored of it, he exclaimed, "Hey, why don't we have a picnic breakfast? I blew all the sugar off last night."

"You could make millions from that pill, you know," Mr. Bucket advised, as he helped his wife pack up the meal to take outside. "You shouldn't just limit yourself solely to candy and chocolate."

"I have enough millions," was the unconcerned reply. "And I like candy and chocolate."

Ten minutes later, the family and the candy man had set into their meal on the banks of the chocolate river. The boiled sweet boat was docked and the waterfall and the noises from the machinery made a pleasant backdrop.

Charlie and Ticket were chasing each other all over the swudge grass, and the rest of the family was simply enjoying the perfect meal and the beautiful setting.

An Oompa Loompa emerged from a back room, holding a cordless phone that seemed comically large grasped in his tiny hand. He tugged on Willy's sleeve, pressing the phone, on hold, towards him.

He tried to push it away. "I'm out right now, no business calls."

Still, the small being insisted.

Finally, he took the phone, sighing deeply. He pressed the button, opening the line. "Hello, Willy Wonka of Wonka Enterprises here." There was a pause as the other person spoke. "Yes, but you must understand that … You're joking. … You're not? But surely there must be some … A blood test? Are you serious? … So what does that mean?"

The family didn't hear the response, but whatever it was it must have been powerful because seconds later, the great chocolatier went into a dead faint.

"Mr. Wonka? Mr. Wonka, can you hear me?"

The voice was faint, but familiar. Willy blinked, trying to bring the dark, blurry shapes above him into focus. Where was he? What had happened?

"Mr. Wonka, are you alright?"

He replied with what he hoped was a positive groan as he tried to sit up. The strong hand of Mr. Bucket was on his back, helping him until he was sitting cross-legged on the swudge grass, his head hanging low and his face paler than usual.

"What happened?"

"You passed out," Mr. Bucket shrugged.

"Oh, that explains everything! You know, I had the craziest dream! We were all out here eating breakfast, and then I answered the phone, and this woman told me something that's simply impossible! But, silly me, just a dream!"

"That was all real, I'm afraid," said Grandpa Joe. "What did the person on the telephone say? We tried to contact them after you fainted, but they had hung up and the number was unlisted."

"It… It was real?" he stammered, a look of childish fear on his face. "But… But it can't be! It just can't be!"

Charlie rested a hand on his mentor's shoulder. "What did they say, Mr. Wonka?"

"That girl in Canada had a blood test, they have my DNA on file in the computers so I don't have to travel every time a claim pops up." He swallowed hard before continuing. "It came back positive. She's my daughter. Holy hardballs, I'm a f… a fa… I've got a kid!