Author's Notes: As with all of my Wonka fiction, I've taken my inspiration primarily from the 2005 movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. However, I feel no qualms about borrowing certain details from the books or from the 1971 movie when it suits me. As I've said before, my Wonka is five parts Depp, two parts Wilder, one part Dahl, and a splash of pure imagination. Although this story will eventually be slash (Willy Wonka/Charlie Bucket), all slash content occurs well after Charlie has reached the age of consent.

Many thanks go out to WonkaFan89 and Reibish for looking over this for me. Any remaining mistakes are my own.

A Warning for the Particularly Ignorant: This story will eventually be slash. Given that Charlie is well over the age of consent in this story, I don't see any problem with it, but just in case you didn't quite get it the first time, let me re-iterate one more time: Slash, folks. If you're particularly conservative/old-fashioned/homophobic then why don't you just mosey on to someplace that better suites your style? You've got that back button on your browser for a reason. Those of you who insist on ignoring this warning and forging on anyway will only be met with a sneer of disdain if you decide to flame me for Tarnishing your Beloved Characters later on.

Disclaimer:This is a work of fanfiction. The author makes no claims to the characters, settings, and situations copyrighted by Dahl Estates and by Warner Brothers.

Charlie stared out the window as the plane began its slow descent down to the airport, trying to breathe deeply as the nervousness that had haunted him throughout the plane ride now blossomed into outright panic. Three months had passed since Charlie had last seen the chocolate factory, three months since he'd spoken to the Oompa-Loompas or nibbled swudge in the chocolate room. Three months since he'd seen his family, though he spoke to them on the phone twice a week and wrote to them religiously. It had been three months since he'd seen Willy Wonka.

They'd spoken on the phone last night, only their second real conversation since Charlie had left the factory. Wonka hated telephones, and Charlie couldn't bear to talk to the chocolatier without studying his face beneath the top hat. On the phone, Willy Wonka sounded flat and slightly hesitant; the full charm of his personality only came through in person. On the phone last night, Wonka had offered to come and get Charlie in the Great Glass Elevator, and Charlie had refused for what seemed like the hundredth time.

"It's such a long journey," he'd said. "And it's been so long since you've taken the elevator over the Atlantic. Besides, you'd have to stand the whole way."

"I wouldn't have to," Wonka said. His voice had sounded almost shy over the phone. "I could push your grandparents' old bed inside again." Misinterpreting the cause of Charlie's sudden silence, Wonka hurried to say, "It wouldn't have to be their bed! Any old bed would do. Or a couple of armchairs. Or --"

"You needn't bother," Charlie said. "Really. I don't mind taking the plane. And I know that you'll have important things to do."

Silence. Charlie had been hoping that Wonka would protest that nothing was more important than bringing Charlie home again. But Wonka didn't. Instead he said, in a slightly hollow voice, "Well, if you're sure then . . ."

"I am," Charlie said.

And that had been that.

Now Charlie leaned forward in his plane seat and watched as the passengers around him began to gather their belongings and stow away their books and laptops in preparation for landing. He glanced at the old woman sleeping in the seat next to his, and nudged her gently.

She started awake, blinking up at him with her rheumy blue eyes. "Is it time for lunch?" she mumbled.

"No," he said, pushing back the sudden pain at her resemblance to his Grandma Georgina. "We'll be landing shortly."

"You're such a good boy," she said, and promptly began to doze again. Charlie smiled tightly, and stared out the window. He could see the city below, the airport growing steadily closer, the lot where he and his parents had once lived, which was now home to a shopping center. And dominating the city, as it had dominated his life, was the factory, its tall chimneys churning chocolate-scented smoke into the air. Charlie stared down at it, feeling his insides beginning to twist. For a panicked moment, he wished he were back in his dorm room.

The plane shuddered as its wheels touched down, and the stewardess' voice came over the intercom, thanking everybody for flying with them. Charlie nudged the old woman awake again, and watched as she tottered down the aisle, gigantic purse in hand. He reluctantly began to gather his own luggage, stowing his sketchbook and drawing pencils in his satchel and standing to retrieve the single, small suitcase that he'd brought home with him for the holidays. The other passengers had left the plane. He could feel the stewardesses staring at him as he reluctantly started towards the terminal.

Nobody had paid him much attention at the airport in America. There he was one more art student making his way home for the Christmas holiday. But as he stepped out of the tunnel here and into the airport, Charlie could hear the whispers starting.

"That's him!"

"Is it?"

"That's the Wonka heir?"

Charlie did his best to ignore them, lifting his chin and gathering his suitcase closer to him. He'd never quite acquired Wonka's deliberate flamboyance, although he had learned how to craft his natural shyness into a careful shield of disdain. He hadn't needed it at college: there he could just be Charlie Bucket, an ordinary student, if a bit withdrawn and a tad eccentric. But here, he was the Wonka Heir, and as he felt himself slipping back into that role, the familiar mantle of distance settled around his shoulders. He straightened his spine, narrowed his eyes, and scanned the faces watching him, relieved to find two familiar people amidst the crowd of strangers.

"Mum! Dad!"

He raced towards them, and they swept him into a tight embrace. His mother was crying, wiping her eyes with the back of one gloved hand, and his father's smile looked suspiciously tight.

"Oh Charlie," Mrs. Bucket sniffed. "I'm so glad you're home!"

Charlie pulled away from them, glancing around the terminal. "Where's . . . ?"

He let the question trail off. There could be no missing that top hat or the velvet coat, no way he could have missed spotting Wonka in the crowd. His parents looked at each other, and his father opened his mouth to make some excuse, but Charlie didn't hear it.

Willy Wonka hadn't come.

Author's Note: That's it for now! Next time, you'll get to find out where Charlie has been for the last three months. I'm planning to update every week, so I will see you all again next Wednesday. Until then, questions, comments, and constructive criticism are always appreciated.