Author's note: Here it is, the final chapter of probably the weirdest crossover I've ever written. I had lots of fun working on this story, and I hope all of you had fun reading it. Thanks!
The last time the LVPD had been called in to create a buffer zone between a new arrival and a crowd had involved the Mafia, and the individual in question had been about as far from the strange chocolatier as it was possible to get and still remain within the same species. Besides, the planned reception this time around was rather less hostile, as Nick and Warrick saw to their utter confusion while they waited for the return of two team members and the arrival of someone Grissom only described as a "guest."
"'Willy will you be my sugar daddy?'" Nick read the closest sign, which was in purple magic marker on pink posterboard.
"I've got one over here who wants to have his baby," Warrick returned, "and someone else who seems to think Johnny Depp is showing up. Sara would have a stroke if that happened."
"All this over some guy who hasn't set foot outside in about ten years and makes candy." Nick shook his head in amusement. "Maybe I should try making chocolate."
Warrick made a face. "I've tasted your cooking."
"You're absolutely right. It isn't easy to create the most fantabulously tasty chocolate in the whole wide world."
There was a puzzled pause.
"… What?" Warrick asked, but as he turned to find out what drug Nick was suddenly smoking, he noticed the man standing behind them. He was wearing a purple suit and a top hat, and he looked like he and the sun were nodding acquaintances, at best. He was grinning deliriously, even though one arm was in a sling.
"This is so exciting!" he chirped, dropping his imitation of Nick's slight twang and clapping his hands like a child, "I've never been to Las Vegas before… I'd heard that it was bright but I didn't think it would be… BRIGHT! Wow!"
"Uh… who are you?" Nick finally ventured, "And how did you get in here?"
The grinning man stepped back and offered Nick a gloved hand to shake. "I'm Willy Wonka, maker of the most excitingly tasty, delicious, and all around groovytastic candies the world has ever seen!"
Nick shook the offered hand like Wonka might jump on him and try to bite off his nose. "Okay, that's one question answered…"
"And Dr. Grissom was nice enough to show me in the back way. He saw all those young ladies out there and right away he was concerned for my well-being… though I don't know why he thought they might jump on me and try to tear off my clothes. It's not like there's anything very interesting underneath."
"That was a mental picture I didn't need…" Warrick said, pinching the bridge of his nose, "Look, is there someplace you need to be, or…?"
"Oh yes! Thank you for reminding me!" Wonka switched gears so fast the careful observer could hear his mental transmission groaning in protest. "I need you or you to show me to the lab. I'm supposed to meet someone there."
"I don't really know yet. Dr. Grissom said I'd know him when he saw me. Do either of you know what that means?"
"No," Nick said, "But we better get you away from this door before they start throwing their underwear at you." He took Wonka by the arm and started guiding him out of the lobby.
"But why would they do that? I'd look absolutely silly in—"
"I'll explain it when you're older, man."
The lab that Greg called his home away from home was now completely cleaned of the shrapnel and debris of what he chose to report as "an aberrant laboratory incident" to the insurance company (taking care to note that it was unlikely to happen again), and was instead filled with the dulcet strains of AC/DC. Upon hearing that the culprit in both the murder of Charlie Bucket and the firebombing of the emporium had been caught and was being extradited back to the United States, he felt that this was the perfect time to celebrate with a bit of music. As such, he didn't immediately notice the two observers watching him through the Plexiglas.
"He certainly seems to be a cheerful young man," Wonka observed, as Greg mimed along to the guitar solo.
"Yeah," Nick replied, "He's the only one who had any idea what was going on, really."
"Oh?" Wonka glanced at Nick, "I thought you were all crimefighters."
"Yeah, but… I'll just let him explain." He knocked on the Plexiglas.
Greg jumped slightly at the noise and turned to see who was there. His jaw dropped and his eyes widened when he saw Wonka.
Nick and Wonka silently watched the unfolding scene for a few seconds.
"Why's he running around the lab yelling 'oh my god oh my god oh my god'?" Wonka finally asked.
"I have no idea," Nick said tiredly, "He's been a bit weird all through the case."
Wonka tilted his head. "What's his name?"
"Greg Sanders. He's the senior lab tech here." Nick snorted. "Nearly blew up the lab with some of your candy, but I don't think we'd have gotten this far without him."
"Man with the plan vexing the techs with the fire in the hole from my dandy candy?"
"What? Look, all I know is that he's a fan of yours. Beyond that…"
Wonka smiled slowly. "Might I borrow him for about an hour or so?"
"Uh, what for?"
"I just want to see something. Could you go and fetch my Oompa-Loompas? Oh yes, I think Dr. Grissom would be very interested to see this."
"Well, if you want to see it, I guess you'll just have to come too, won't you? But first, my Oompa-Loopas." He made shooing motions at Nick, who finally headed off, shaking his head in disbelief.
Wonka slid open the glass door to the lab, where Greg was still having a mild conniption right up to the point when he collided with the chocolatier, who had stepped into his path. Greg stared for a moment at the grinning Wonka.
"Oh my god… It's really you!"
"Nooo, you are you and I am I. See, it doesn't work the other way around, because if I were you I probably wouldn't have gotten the blond tips frosted into my hair." He glanced down. "Nice sneakers, though. Dr. Grissom tells me that you put a lot of work into finding out what happened to Charlie, and I'd like to thank you for it – but first I hear there's a spot of work to be done on the candy shop before it's ready to open."
Greg's face fell. "It was firebombed. It won't be opening for a while. Probably not until next year now."
"Oh, you don't know that for a fact. I think it could open as early as tomorrow morning, actually. I just need some help getting it fixed up."
"Well, you've come this far just fine. I don't think it'll be as hard as you think it might be. Ah!"
This last was directed towards the viewing window, where the Loompas were clustered excitedly around Nick's shins. Wonka grinned delightedly as his workers stampeded in, crouching to gather them in a group hug and wobbling only slightly as they hit.
"Ha ha ha! Oh, be careful, I'm an old man, you know! It's good to see all of you again!" He straightened up. "Thank you for taking care of them. I know they must have been so scared."
Nick rubbed his forehead in recent memory of the candy pelting that he and Warrick had received. "Yeah."
"Now would you tell Dr. Grissom and Miss Willows to meet us at the Emporium site just as soon as Grissom is done having a headache in the break room? I'd like them both to see this, especially 'it's just chocolate' Grissom, okay?" He patted Nick on the head and darted away.
"They're here," Greg said as Wonka's pacing survey of the wreckage seemed to be drawing to a close.
"Oh, goody. I was hoping it wouldn't take them very long."
"So is half of Nevada, by the looks of the crowd behind the police perimeter."
Wonka turned, saw that this appeared to be so, and beamed. "How lovely. I have an audience. Hello people!" He waved enthusiastically to the crowd, but jumped slightly at the roar of approval he got in response. He leaned close to Greg. "Are they always like that?"
"This is Las Vegas."
"Oh. Right." He made a beeline for the Tahoe bearing Grissom and Catherine.
"I'm not sure I understand what we're doing here," Grissom said, "We know what happened already."
"Well, you know what happened, but do you know what's going to happen? You're very smart, but I don't think you know even that. Come along. You too, Miss Willows – I want both of you to have front-row seats."
"To what?" Catherine asked.
"You'll see, you'll see! Just hurry up!" Wonka sprinted back to the burned-out husk of the Emporium, then leaned on his walking stick as he surveyed the building critically. Greg soon joined him.
"What do you think?" he asked Wonka.
"I think we need to fix up this store a bit so it can open."
"Well… yeah. But how are we going to do that? It'll take months to fix up…"
Wonka smiled. "You just have to believe. Now hold this." He handed Greg his walking stick. He laced his long fingers together and cracked his knuckles. "Now, let's see here…" He extended a finger almost shyly towards the wreckage. Greg saw purple sparks lick briefly across the rubble. Wonka grinned. "Looks to me like they want to dance."
"Should I stand back?" Greg asked.
"Might get a little exciting around here… but it's absolutely safe. Nobody's ever died from my magic. Yet." He made a sweeping gesture with his uninjured arm across the front of the burned-out store, and a tongue of purple flame swept across the wreckage. Rubble and broken timbers started to leap into the air and dance. Behind them, the crowd cheered, and over the noise, Greg heard the Oompa-Loompas begin to chant. He glanced around, and the little elfin candymakers had formed a circle around himself and Wonka.
"Fixin' it, fixin' it, fixin' it, fixin' it…" came the chant.
"What in the world…?" Catherine asked, watching the lightshow unfold
"Strontium and copper chloride burn with a purple flame," Grissom said, uncertainly, "It's used in fireworks."
"If that place was laced with fireworks, we would have known about it a long time ago – like when it was bombed to begin with."
"It's the only possible explana—"
He stopped short as a loud WHOOSH noise erupted from the store's husk, and a blast of air surged out from the building. Broken bricks, shattered timbers, and snapped rebars spiraled up from the site.
Wonka was laughing, even as sweat beaded on his pale brow.
"What's happening!" Greg shouted above the maelstrom.
"Magic!" Wonka replied giddily, "Just believe and you can do anything!"
"How are you doing all this?"
"I have no clue!"
The spiraling storm of debris slowed, paused in midair, and then whirled back down. Greg watched as a torn display reassembled itself and danced across the dusty linoleum, to be joined by its brothers. The racks danced and whirled in a bizarre industrial ballet, and a machine that looked like the upper half of some whimsical robot hand-walked like a dexterous amputee through a space that was presently being defined by a doorway. Brick-halves found their mates and started assembling themselves into walls at lightning speed. Electrical wires spliced themselves together and snaked into place behind the sheetrock.
"Griss! Cath! Are you SEEING THIS!" Greg shouted, but as he turned he saw the question was irrelevant, for the looks on their faces told him all he needed to know. They saw.
"I need your help, Mr. Sanders," Wonka said suddenly, and the breathlessness in his voice told Greg he was nearing the end of his strength. "I'm not as young as I used to be, and I need your help to finish up."
"What can I do?"
"Hold out my cane, but don't let go of it, whatever happens. And if you've ever believed in anything whimsical, anything fanciful, anything unscientific in your life, believe now."
Greg absorbed this curious instruction, and finally nodded. He held out the candy-striped walking stick to Wonka, who grabbed onto it. Greg felt a surge, like touching an improperly grounded electrical wire. He looked at his free hand and saw purple sparks licking over his fingers.
"Quickly!" Wonka urged.
Greg dared not think about it too hard. He held out his hand to the half-completed building, and felt another surge, this one outbound. The shuffling and stacking of bricks accelerated, and soon the rising walls obscured the dancing shelves within. The roof came together like a jigsaw puzzle and uncurled into place atop the building.
"This is… so… cool!" Greg shouted.
"Isn't it, though? Now you can put the shelves… any way you like… and don't forget the display window."
Grissom glanced down, and saw a shard of glass on the pavement in front of him. As an experiment, he put his foot on top of it. Other shards and pebbles of glass from the smashed display window slid and skittered towards the nearly-rebuilt store… and Grissom felt a tugging sensation under his foot, as though the shard he'd captured was trying to join its fellows. He stepped harder, trying not to break it, feeling the shard wiggle and struggle under his foot.
"My god," he said quietly, "This is real."
Just then the shard flew out from under his foot with such force that Grissom was left reeling.
"Criss Angel, eat your heart out," Catherine remarked.
"This isn't an illusion, Catherine!" Grissom sounded like he was only just wrapping his brain around the idea. "This is really happening!"
"I know – and it's driving you nuts, I bet."
The window collapsed together in the space of a few seconds. Moments later, the storefront sign came together, followed by the front door with its greeting bell. The storefront sign came on with a buzz of electricity.
"Almost done," Greg said as he turned to the sign at the far corner of the parking lot. It was still canted drunkenly from the blast. He imagined it standing up straight again, and with a groan it corrected itself and lit up. The crowd cheered – and Greg, who was still giddy from using magic – magic! Him! – finally turned back to Wonka.
Willy Wonka was laying on the pavement, entirely too still for Greg's comfort.
"Oh my god—Mr. Wonka!" Greg crouched beside the fallen chocolatier and felt for a pulse. It was there, thin and thready, but weak. "Somebody call an ambulance!"
Wonka opened his eyes and glanced foggily up at Greg. He smiled. "Is it done?" he asked.
Greg nodded. "Just like it was before. Better. It's ready to open. Are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm as okay as can be expected. I probably won't be doing that again anytime soon, but really, what are the odds that I'd have to? It was for a good cause anyway."
"It's not worth killing yourself."
"There's not enough candy in the world these days. Everyone's so practical anymore, able to keep in touch with everybody but nobody really connects anymore. I wish it were a simpler time again. Take care of the store, would you? And the Oompa-Loompas over here?"
Greg nodded. "I'll take care of it. I can run the store when I'm not in the lab."
"And remember this: When you helped me finish the store, I passed on the last of my magic to you. Use it wisely."
"Magic? I've got magic now?"
"Not a lot… but enough. A spark goes a long way anymore."
The ambulance siren started sidling into the conversation in the background.
"Don't worry about me, Greg," Wonka said, "I'll be fine before you know it. Oh look – Mr. Grissom is playing Spiderman…"
Greg looked, and saw his supervisor running his hands across the recently repaired brick storefront, searching for the breaks and fissures that he knew had to be there.
"You won't find any, Griss," Greg told him.
Grissom turned to Greg. "I saw it happen. I saw everything being put back together. It was…"
Greg grinned. "Like magic?"
Grissom offered him a tired look. "Please, don't start that again."
Paramedics shooed Greg away from Wonka.
"Be careful – I'm ticklish!" Wonka scolded as they loaded him onto a stretcher.
As the ambulance left, Greg surveyed the newly rebuilt Emporium. Grissom glanced over at him curiously.
"Well," Greg said to nobody in particular, "I can think of worse second jobs…"