Rated: T (Language)
Warnings: Willy/OC, Slight angst, language
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Except nothing. That, I do own.
A/N: I was supposed to have this up yesterday, but it was rushed to I waited and here it is. It's pretty long, so I suggest getting comfy first. Any Charlie/Wonka lovers out there? I'm currently in the middle of writing a dark oneshot with those two, so expect that. I forgot to mention my reviewers in the last chapter, so I'll take this opportunity to give a collective thanks to you all.
Chocolategirlie: Thank you! :3 It was very awesome. I got a, er... calendar. With penguins.
Arcane Wonders: Thank youuu 8D And yes it was, I'm glad you picked up on that.
Katherine Mortez: YAY. NOM. Cake is good. Thank you very much! :D I almost didn't recognize you.
ShowerCurtainsTurnMeOn: Thank you :D
Turrislucidus: OOoh, I do so love long reviews. That brightened my week considerable. Thank you!
IWillBeMe: *Is pelted with cookies* YAY. One of life's greatest pleasures is having cookies thrown at you. There's nothing like it.
"Happy New Year, Alice." Willy said as soon as his lips left mine. He kissed my forehead lightly.
"Happy New Year." I returned and gave a small shiver, despite being in his embrace.
"Cold?" He asked, drawing me a little closer, which was a particularly hard feat.
"A little." I admitted.
"Why don't we go inside?"
I shrugged. "I'm always cold. I don't mind."
"I don't think that's a very good sign. Let's go inside." He unwrapped his arms from around me but put one around my waist and we walked into the elevator side by side.
"Where to?" I asked.
Willy twiddled his fingers, looking at the wall of buttons, arm slightly extended.
"Shall we go to your room?"
I shook my head. "My room's boring. I've never seen your room, though. I want to see it."
"You've never seen my room?" He asked.
"No." I raised an eyebrow.
"Really?" He asked in disbelief. I smiled in confusion.
"That's weird." He pressed the button. "Off we go, then!"
"I thought you were supposed to have a photogenic memory or something." The elevator dropped straight down and I felt slightly nauseous. Within a few moments we were back inside the factory.
"Photographic memory. And yeah, I do. Only, heh, it doesn't work so good on you're fifth day without sleep."
I stared at him for a time, an expression a mixture of concern, awe and disapproval on my face.
"You should take sleeping pills or something." I eventually said. "Or tranquilizers. That's not healthy. Jesus. I though I was tired and I've only missed one."
Willy giggled. "Oh, not to worry. I get by fine."
The elevator took a sharp corner and hurtled to a stop.
"We're here!" He trilled, stepping out into a dark, unlit corridor. "Lights on."
The lights turned on one by one, illuminating the corridor. It wasn't as long as I was expecting, and there was a purple door at the very end. On it, there was a golden plaque with Willy's name on it. The walls were shiny and white, just like the floor. We started walking. As we went along, I noticed the lights that ran along the walls getting slightly bigger and the corridor becoming slightly wider with every step. Willy rummaged around in his pockets and pulled out a bunch of keys.
I frowned. We had been walking for far longer than I'd thought. I realized that it was probably another illusion, like the one in the main hall. That one made you think everything was further away, while this one made you think it was closer. Interesting.
Eventually we reached the door. It was big, almost double the size I originally thought it to boy. Willy unlocked the door with one of the keys and pushed it open.
There were two doors. "Ladies first." He gestured with a graceful hand. I stepped in and he closed the door behind us.
The room was immense, built with odd, sweeping angles. A semi-circle jutted out from the otherwise angular room to my right, the entire portion of the wall made from glass. The window overlooked the snow-covered city. I could still see a few fireworks going off in the distance. A modern lounge suite was placed in that area.
A fireplace sat on the opposite side, flames flickering and dancing lazily on top of a log. I stared, mesmerized as the blue flames blended into an electric purple to beautiful color in between pink and purple and then to a warm shade of magenta.
A number of shelves lined the striped purple walls, scattered around randomly. Hundreds, if not thousands of ornaments, trinkets and weird and wondrous things sat atop them. You'd think it'd look like a messy clutter, but somehow, unsurprisingly, he'd managed to make it all look perfect. Neat. A number of strange painting decorated the walls.
I saw double doors across the room, and another one to my left. The one across from me was half open and I could see a few articles of clothing hanging on a rack. It must have been the wardrobe. There were a few other doors dotted around the room, but they were all closed and so I had no clue as to what might be behind them.
The four-poster bed sat across from the fireplace, with a dressing table next to it. The extravagant bed sheets were patterned and a deep plum color. Sitting on top of the bed were a heap of pillows, arranged with care. There was a wooden trunk engraved with beautiful patterns at the very end of the bed.
I walked across the carpeted floor to the center of the room.
"I don't even know how you could stand being in my room all the time. Look at yours, it's awesome."
"Well, it's not like I got to your room to sight see."
I walked over to one of the shelves. "You have so many things."
"These are all things I've collected over the years. Special things. Collectibles, one might say. That there is the headdress worn by the first chief Oompa Loompa, Daryoomp. It's a few thousand years old, but I managed to restore it to near perfect quality. The Oompa Loompas presented it to me as a token of their gratitude when they first came to my factory." Mr. Wonka smiled.
"What's this?" I asked pointing to a blue glass ball. It was beautiful, and the inside seemed to swirl around mystically.
"Ooh!" He picked it up and put it in my hands. "Listen."
I hesitantly put the ball next to my ear, somehow feeling as if I were ruining this magnificent thing with how ordinary I was. "I can't hear anything." I said.
"Just wait. It's really quiet, but it's there."
A moment of absolute silence passed and I strained to hear anything. After a while, my ears began to pick up a quiet sighing, whispering sound. I couldn't make out much of it.
"… Ephemeral beloved…" I could only make out a few words now and then. "…great divide…dysphoria…" I pulled away.
"I don't understand. Something about 'beloved' and 'divide'. Don't know the last word. What is this?"
"It whispers the future."
"Oh." I frowned. "I suppose that makes sense. You're my beloved and.. y'know, we'll be divided soon." I trailed off, handing him back the ball. He placed it back on the shelf.
"At home, I have this teddy bear that talks when you squeeze it's ear. It's waaay cooler than anything you have here. Pfft." I joked in an effort to lighten the conversation.
"I have one too." He pointed one of the shelves across the room, near the couches. "Kinda. This one doesn't talk, though." I walked over to the shelf. The bear was small, tattered and threadbare. What a curious thing to have something like this surrounded by things like fortune-whisperers and ancient headdresses. I couldn't help but liken this shabby little bear to myself.
"That was Emily's." His voice had lost it's usual warmth and cheerfulness. Willy walked up to the shelf too, lightly tracing a finger over it's leg. That name sounded familiar. Well, of course it did. It was a pretty common name, but I couldn't help but-
"Oh! Emily!" The little girl in the car, her throat slashed to ribbons. Her name had only been mentioned once by the mother but the memory came rushing back, choking me. I suddenly felt slightly nauseous.
He looked at me.
"The crash… I saw it in the Abyss." I explained. He nodded.
"Really? Well, that saves a whole lot of explaining that I don't necessarily want to do." He was in front of me and I couldn't see his expression, but I hugged him from behind.
"I'm sorry you had to go through all that." I said gently.
"I don't even know how it got in my bag. Maybe Barry hid it from her. It was her favorite, after all, and it wasn't uncommon for the two to get into a quarrel." His voice sounded breathless.
A moment of silence passed and I released my hold on him, placing a hand on his arm.
"This is making you sad. You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."
"No, it's okay. I don't mind talking about it. I've never gotten the chance to tell anyone else… not in a while." The smile was back, but it didn't really reach his eyes. "Sorry for being such a killjoy, heh." He sat down on the couch that was nearest to him, suddenly looking exhausted but grinning once again. "So, are ya excited about seeing yer parents soon?" I sat down on the couch opposite him.
I hesitated slightly at the use of the plural word, but smiled anyway. "Oh, it's just me and my mom but I'm really looking forward to seeing her. I miss her a lot."
"Your f-f-" He winced. "Sorry. He passed away?"
I nodded. "Yeah, 4 years ago. I was 12 at the time. He worked as a bank teller. Shot in a robbery. He was a good man." I smiled.
"I'm sorry for your loss. So much death and destruction on such a lovely evening." He said, giving a short, suppressed laugh. "What's your mother like?"
"She's wonderful. Doesn't look a thing like me, though. I look more like my father. She's caring, cheerful, funny and loves to cook. I think you two would get along."
He smiled. "Oh really? What does she look like?"
"Blonde, greying hair, brown eyes… hold on. I have a picture somewhere." I pulled my phone in my pocket and scrolled through the pictures until I found the one we'd taken right before I'd left for the factory. I stared at it for a few seconds, noticing how much I'd changed since coming here. I showed him the photo.
"You do look a bit like her." He stared at the photo for a long time, almost frowning. A put my phone back away.
"A bit. Can I ask you something?"
"What did you do after you left your Uncle's house? Where did you go? How did you end up being the Worlds' most amazing chocolatier? Sorry, I'm just curious."
"Well, it's quite a long story."
"I'm not going anywhere anytime soon." I made a show of reclining on the couch and getting comfortable.
"Alrighty then. Well, after I ran away I got put into an orphanage. They don't like children roaming the streets, you see. It was absolutely horrid. There were many children but food was scarce. Winter was the worst. Food became even more hard to come by and you couldn't sleep at night because it was as cold as death. It was impossible to get warm. It wasn't a rare occurrence to wake up and find the nuns dragging the frozen, malnourished bodies of children out of the room, tied up in their thin bed sheets." Willy broke off, eyes cast down but wide with the horror of the memory. He blinked and shook his head. There was a lump in my throat. I pulled my legs up, wrapping my arms around them.
"The people who ran it, they didn't care about you one iota. Get the chores done and you wouldn't get scolded. Things were run differently back then, and the poverty certainly didn't help. I ran away a year later when I was 15 with a… friend I'd made there. We were both old enough to work and we had the good fortune to get jobs at a small candy shop on the corner of Cherry Street. It wasn't very good. The candy was simple and almost tasteless, made without love, care or expertise. The shop itself was infested with cockroaches and never seemed entirely clean no matter how much I scrubbed, but the owners weren't cruel and they paid us fairly for what we did. At the time though, it felt like heaven. Finally being able to do the things I loved, instead of constantly struggling to keep my head afloat. Eventually we'd saved enough money to rent out a small apartment a few blocks away between the two of us, even though we technically weren't allowed to because we weren't of age. Times were hard though, and they didn't refuse someone willing to pay for a room. I was allowed to take the leftovers from the candy shop and I'd experiment. I'd create wild new flavors, strange candies and recipes, wonderful, innovative new inventions… but they sold the shop 2 years later. They couldn't afford to run it anymore. So I set up a stall in the market square and me and my friend sold the candies we, or mostly I, invented. They sold like mad. No one had ever tried candies and chocolates like ours before. People would travel miles just to get a taste of them." His eyes were far away and he was smiling ever so slightly.
"Who was your friend?" I asked.
He snapped back into reality. "Huh? Oh, I'd rather not…" He giggled.
"Did you have a girlfriend?" I winked jokingly, drawing out the word. He blinked and then burst into laughter.
"Girlfriend? Me? Ha! No way." His laughter died. "His name was Slugworth."
I blinked, shocked. "Whoa, the Slugworth? The one who stole your recipes?" Disbelief colored my tone. "You guys were… friends? How? I saw a picture of him once, he looked so old."
"The very same. I'll be getting to that later. Anywho, us two, we were like two peas in a pod. Both orphans with a chocolate dream. Well, I technically wasn't an orphan but you get the gist. Slugworth was an angry person. Angry at the world for being so cruel to him. Angry at his parents for abandoning him. Angry at the other orphans for rejecting him. I was different than him. Calmer, colder, but equally as rotten, really. He held me close because he came to rely on me to get him out of the messes he made. We had arguments, but he'd always come crawling back. After a while, he became involved with… the wrong crowd, I guess. Became involved with narcotics and such, although he claimed it was his own decision. They can really age you, especially methamphetamines, which may be why. He was only two years older than me. He quit but relapsed a few times when I knew him. I assume he never really fully quit, judging by how he looks now. As I said, it's just an assumption. He might just have bad genetics and luck, though. Anyway, he mentioned a few of his friends, Ficklegruber and Prodnose were into the whole candy making thing and ran small businesses uptown. He suggested we should pair up with them, but I resisted. I didn't trust them. So Slugworth continued to spend all of his money to feed his addiction, I spent mine feeding our small 'business'. After a while, he began to steal my shares too. A year later he bought a shop of his own with my money, and left me behind. He didn't want me anymore. I'd served my purpose. I was… so angry. I moved out of the apartment and got a new one over the other side of town. I didn't bother going to him and asking him to return what he stole. I knew him, and I knew that it would be a fruitless effort. So I worked harder, l got another part-time job at the local library and another one at the fruit market so that I could scrape up some extra cash. I worked long, hard hours, made more candy, experimented for hours on end so I could come up with new things every day. Every hour of the day was spent trying to succeed. It took a while, but I got there in the end. I bought that small shop on the corner of Cherry Street, renovated and redecorated the whole thing and everything got better from then on.
"Slugworth, however, had reached his plateau as soon as he bought that shop. It was the sunset of his career. I was always the one who came up with those complicated recipes, and without me, he wasn't doing too well. I, however, was at the top of my game and steadily improving. Even though I only had my small little store on Cherry Street along with a few faithful workers, we were a hit! I remember Slugworth would come into my shop and ask me if I wanted to work with him again. Ha. Pathetic. And but a few years later I purchased the factory with all the money I'd saved up. Slugworth couldn't stand how successful I'd become. It was like he'd held me under to keep himself afloat, but then I discovered a random blow-up boat underneath that was stuck in a piece of seaweed and freed it, knocking him back under as the boat resurfaced. Heh, I dunno. Forget I said that. But he sent in spies to work for me, to steal my recipes. One of them was Prodnose. He went under a fake name and worked closely with me. Other times, he would simply offer my workers money in to get the recipes. Out all of them, only one of the workers told me about what they'd been offered. One. I couldn't risk having them in my beloved factory when I couldn't even begin to tell who was lying and who wasn't, so I fired them all. The rest is history. But… do you want to know the real secret of my success? Why I didn't just give up? It wasn't a recipe. Slugworth could never have stolen it. It was you, kiddo, my 'guardian angel'." He chuckled. "I really did think you were some kind protector, watching over me all the time, wiping my tears when I was sad and keeping me company when I was lonely. I was determined not to disappoint you. I know I'd only seen you a few times, but I had nothing else to cling to. I was chasing a hallucination. Not once did I think you were a girl on a Student Program who just so happened to stumble into the Abyss of my memories, but it's gotten me this far so I'm not complaining."
"So that's why you love me." I said. For some silly reason, I could feel my eyes tearing up slightly but not in a bad way. My mind was reeling from everything he told me.
"Kinda. It's difficult to explain. The love you feel for a friend, that's what I felt all these years. When I met you in real life, that whole thing made me more… aware of you, I guess you could say. I was shocked at first. Maybe a teensy bit disappointed. But I came to love your personality and odd little habits and quirks and eventually, I fell in love with you, as a person."
"The question of why you would love someone like me has been eating away at me for ages. I'm glad I finally know now. I'm glad that I know you, too. How you came to be. Your story is extraordinary. Thank you for sharing it with me. You've been through a lot, haven't you? And, just for the record, you aren't rotten. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."
"You know so much about me, but I barely know anything about you. Tell me, Alice, what is your story?"
"My story? Well, it begins when I was born. I was a fairly average child with a stutter that wore off as I got older. Elementary school was average. I had two friends and I got pretty high marks in everything except mathematics and moved on to middle school. My number of friends dropped down to 1 because Stephanie moved to a different school. I got asked out for the first time in middle school and I panicked and ran into a wall, giving myself a black eye. He didn't bother me again after that. My grades slipped ever so slightly, too. I also broke my leg somehow at one of the school plays. I then continued on to high school, where my grades besides art, geography, history and English have reached an all-time low. After that, I had a stroke of luck and won a competition that my elderly neighbor recommended I should enter and here I am now!" I laughed and suppressed a yawn.
"Hehe. I can just imagine it, you panicking and running into a wall. Well, I think it's bedtime for you. We have a big day tomorrow, y'know!"
"Let's have another sleepover!"
"Naturally." He gave a crooked smile and reached into his pocket, brought out a small green remote and pressed one of the buttons. Within a few minutes, there was a knock on the door.
"Come in!" Mr. Wonka called in a singsong voice. An Oompa Loompa entered, bowing deeply and strode over towards Mr. Wonka. He hopped up gracefully and stood in front of the Oompa Loompa, bending over slightly to my delight. Unf. Good lord do want.
"Afternoon, Androomp! I would be much obliged if you'd go fetch Alice's pajamas and a fresh set of clothes for tomorrow. 'Kay?"
"They're in the blue bag I left out, by the way." I added awkwardly. I could have gotten them myself, really.
'Androomp' looked over to me, nodded solemnly and then back at Mr. Wonka. He crossed his arms over his chest, bowed low again and left the room.
I stared at the door until it closed before turning back around and twiddling my thumbs and staring at the silver chain on Willy's vest.
"So… what now?" I asked after a moment of silence.
He giggled. "I dunno. Conversation doesn't flow as naturally as should do with me. At least without cue cards."
"Same with me half the time." I gave a crooked smiled.
"What do people talk about, anyway? How does one find a suitable, relevant subject to discuss? It confuses me. I suppose you could say 'Hello, how was your day?', but it's a bit late for that now, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is. I'll give it a shot anyway, because that's all I've got. Hello, Willy, how was your day?"
"It was rather eventful. And yours?"
Another moment of silence passed us.
"Okay, I give up. You should totally kiss me now. That'll keep your mouth busy for a while."
He giggled and took a few steps toward me- God, I loved the way he walked- and pulled us together. Lips caressed. My fingertips brushed his, separated by the latex barrier. My eyes fluttered closed, relishing the taste of his sugary sweet lips. He let out a tiny moan as my tongue began to explore his mouth. I felt the all too familiar passion flutter around in my stomach as his body was pressed against mine, hands caressing. However, this time it was different. The flutter of desire blossomed and spread out. Up to my heart, make it accelerate. Up to my head, confusing my thoughts and heating up cheeks. It spread downwards with a slight tingling sensation right to the tips of my toes. Warmth flooded through me.
"God damnit." I muttered, letting go of him. That Oompa Loompa sure was fast. He'd only taken about a minute and a half at the very most. But then again, time seemed to reshape itself when I was in Willy's arms. Hours seemed like minutes and minutes seemed like hours and giraffes seemed like elephants.
Mr. Wonka giggled slightly, lightheadedly, and released his hold on my waist. I saw that his cheeks were ever so slightly pink. That was a first. I don't think I've ever seen him blush.
"Sorry." He took a second to compose himself and then spun on his heel, striding gracefully to the door and opening it.
"Thank you." I heard him say. "Night!" The door clicked shut and he moved back towards me.
"Those gosh darn interruptions. Now, where were we again?" He passed me my bag. I put it on the floor and grabbed his hands again, sliding my fingers slowly up his arms, across his shoulders, down his chest until I found the lapel of his coat.
"We were kissing because we're both too awkward to make conversation." I mashed my face onto his again with a newfound fervor. He squealed in both surprise and delight and I took a few blind steps backwards until I bumped into the edge of the bed. I sat myself down on it, pulling him down with me by the lapel of his coat. He stumbled forward onto me with an almost girly yelp of surprise and his forehead knocked my nose. I laughed, my eyes tearing up. I wasn't really hurt, but they always seemed to tear whenever I hurt my nose. Willy gasped.
"We should stop." He said.
"I'm fine. I'm not hurt." I was still shaking with laughter, but I wiped the tears away.
"Very well, but.. you know… we shouldn't get carried away if you get my drift."
"Your drift is gotten. Getting carried away is fun, don't dis it 'till you try it."
"Fun and morality are two distinct things. They aren't always in conjunction."
"Awh, fine then. It was worth a shot, anywho. I'm gunna go get changed now."
"Sure thing. You can get changed in the dressing room, just through those doors." He pointed to the double doors I'd noticed earlier.
"Thanks!" I hopped off the bed, bent down and grabbed my bag and carried it to the room, pushing the door shut.
My eyes widened briefly as I took in the room. Jeez, Willy had a lot of clothes. The room was only about half the size of the other room, but the other room was colossal so this one was big too. It was maybe the size of the kitchen and lounge room at my house. Shelves, racks and cupboards lined the walls. Drawers sat at the bottom of the room, continuing all the way around. Full length mirrors were dotted strategically around the room. It was all very organized, with everything in their assigned place. Possibly hundreds of coats and vests of varying shades and patterns hung on the back wall. To my right, the trousers were neatly folded and stacked on shelves. Shirts and tops hung on racks and yet more things folded up on the top shelves that I couldn't quite see. To my left were shelves and shelves of top hats and shoes along with a large cupboard.
The smell of sweet, sweet candy that permeated the room was almost overwhelming. Almost, but not quite. I wondered what laundry detergent he used.
I thought back to my closet, my room. It was small and square, probably about half the size of this room. The walls were off-white and the floors were wooden. I had a single bed, a desk and a small bookshelf. I even had a computer, although it was still on Windows XP. My closet was tiny. I think if I tried really hard and squashed them in tight I could fit 15 coats in there.
I grinned, suppressing a chuckle and began to get changed.
We spent the rest of the night doing things like snuggling and talking and sadly not getting 'carried away'. But, I couldn't help but notice that as the night wore on, the jokes and laughter lessened and feelings of sadness and apprehension reared their heads. At almost three o'clock in the morning, I finally fell asleep in Willy's arms. He wore just as many clothes to bed and he wore during the day, even the gloves. The only part of him you could see was his face and a tiny, tantalizing slither of his neck. I felt practically naked next to him, in my shorts and t-shirt.
"Rise and shine, sleepyhead!" I felt someone shaking my shoulder lightly. I groaned, turning over and pulling the remarkably soft covers tight around me.
"Come on, sunshine, up ya get. We have a big day ahead of us!"
My eyes flashed open, remembering. A surge of pain made me screw my eyes back shut. I pulled the covers over my head.
"I don't want to go." I said, my voice muffled.
I heard him hesitate slightly. "You hafta. Dontcha miss your mother? Or whats-her-name… Brittany? We mustn't dilly-dally!" His voice was too bright. I reluctantly moved the covers back down and looked over at Willy. He was standing next to the bed, already dressed and looking as perfect as usual.
"It's Beth. But I still don't want to go. That doesn't mean I won't, though. I know I have to. But it's funny, even though I'm with you right now I miss you so much more at this moment than I missed mom and Beth in these whole two months."
Probably because I was certain I was going to see them again. I didn't know when, or if, I would ever see Willy next.
"What's the time?" I asked emotionlessly, changing the subject.
"It's so early." I sat up, rubbing my eyes.
I got myself out of bed and yawned, stretching. I shoved my shoes on and chucked a jacket over my top, grabbing my bag.
"I'm gonna go back to my room and get ready, okay?" I gave a smile.
"Alrighty. Shall we meet in the cafeteria?"
"We shall." I replied. He leant in for a kiss, but I pursed my lips, shaking my head.
"We shouldn't get carried away." I explained. He smirked, raising an eyebrow. "I kid. I have to brush my teeth. No kisses until then."
"Yes, ma'am." But he gave me a small peck on my cheek.
I went to walk out, taking one last glance back at the amazing room before heading to the elevator.
I arrived at my room a few minutes later, and jumped straight into the shower, taking a bit longer than what was really necessarily. I eventually shut the water off with reluctance and wrapped the towel around me before the cold could get to me. I examined my reflection in the mirror while I dried off. I still had a few scars here and there scattered around my body, probably from the glass but they were faint and most of them had disappeared already. The area under my eyes were dark. To my annoyance, I looked gaunt and haggard.
After I'd brushed my teeth and got changed, I went to the Cafeteria.
Everyone, including Mr. Wonka was already there. I went and sat down in the empty seat next to him.
Kim was hunched over, her face buried in her hands. Next to her, Darcy's was resting her head on the hard surface of the table.
"Are you guys.. okay?" I asked as I sat down. Kim groaned.
"Hangover." Hayden explained, shooting them a disapproving look.
"Oh. I'm not surprised. Mr. Wonka, what time are we leaving again?" I asked.
"You'll be leaving at 2pm."
I nodded, saying nothing. Darcy lifted her head up to take a sip of her coffee.
"I have a headaaaache." Kim groaned.
"Well, what were you expecting?" Hayden said, but smiled. "Here."
He dug into his backpack that hung over the chair he was sitting on and slid a packet of aspirin over to her.
"YOU MARVELOUS HUMAN BEING." She shouted, and immediately popped a few pills out of the packet, chasing them down with a big gulp of Darcy's coffee.
After that, Willy and I spent the rest of the time we had in the Snow Room, which was about four hours or so. We talked. Swapped stories. Laughed. Smiled. Played a game or two. Hugged and kissed, fluff, more fluff, etc. I cried a bit. We even had a picnic using the candy that was in the room. My favorite was those little white 'flowers'. They tasted like heaven on a stick. But those four hours had ended before I knew what was happening. In theory, four hours should have been a long time. In reality, it seemed more like a matter of minutes.
Everyone was laughing. Someone must have made a joke or said something funny so I forced a smile and tried to at least chuckle. I think it came out as more of a choke. The others were too busy to notice but Willy did. I felt his hand on my thigh, squeezing reassuringly under the table.
When I turned my head to look at him I saw the questioning look in his eyes. Besides the fake smile that was plastered on his face, his expression is unreadable but he can tell I'm not enjoying this. I was trying, I really was, for his sake. But it was so difficult to make these last few minutes happier given the circumstances. His façade was better than mine.
I gave a weak smile to reassure him and he refocused on the conversation again. His hand stayed on my thigh. I liked it there.
My mind was too distracted to try and focus on the words people were saying. So I turned to look at him again.
His lips were moving, he was talking to Kim but I still didn't hear the words. His voice I did hear however. Silky smooth. Perfection.
I lowered one hand to cover his gloved one, still lying on my thigh, stroking gentle patterns on my skin through the jeans I was wearing. Lightly, I ran my thumb over the back of his hand. Every little touch had taken on new meaning. There would be few of them in the future. If any. Just a few more minutes and we'll be leaving the cafeteria for the last time. Facing the ravenous crowd that awaits us outside the gates, plastering fake smiles on our faces for the cameras and hoping the suppressed tears don't show up in the photos. For me, at least.
Weeks I had spent ignoring this moment. I knew it would come and when I thought about it, I was dreading it. So I ignored it. It had come faster than expected, faster than it should have...
Still we did our best to use what little time we had. Last night and today had been proof of it.
For the first time in a while I had been completely carefree and living in the moment. Without the big clock hanging over my head, counting down to zero, I managed to enjoy myself easily. The hourglass, while still down to the last grains of sand, forgotten. Well, for the most part.
Those memories made me want to grab him, kiss him, hold him and never let him go.
Someone had joked earlier about it being the last supper. One of the few bits of conversation I got. He'd given us bags full of chocolates, candy, special inventions that he hadn't even released yet. His being, his 'body' revolved around chocolate so it was kinda true. But we didn't get wine. I could have used a bit of that.
I'd been picking on a bar of chocolate more than anything. It was delicious but I just couldn't eat. My mind kept going over things that were said or not said, things we did and things we should have done. Things we might never get to do.
I snapped back to the conversation around me when I heard Willy announce that it was time. A quick glance at my watch confirmed that. My body suddenly felt like a bag of bricks, weighed down by dread. The others were standing. I stood too, but my knees shook slightly. Mr. Wonka grabbed two of my bags so I was left with one. I was glad for that. I don't think I had the strength to carry them all, with the way I was shaking.
Hayden and Kim went into the elevator first. There were too many bags for more to fit. Willy told Charlie to go with Tim and Hayden next and then we were alone.
Neither of us quite knew what to say. We'd be putting off this moment for weeks now and now that the opportunity had arrived, I was at loss for words.
"Parting is such sweet sorrow." He said softly.
"I don't want to leave." I admitted quietly, looking at my hands. A droplet of water fell onto my palm to my surprise. I quickly wiped my eyes.
"Ah, but dear, I'm afraid you have to." He gave a sad smile. "La douleur exquise."
Willy lifted a hand to trace lightly over my cheek, staring into my eyes, and I felt that all too familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach, the tightening of my chest that was now in both good and bad way.
"I'm going to miss you so much." I said.
"Not to worry. We'll see each other again in time." He said in an overly bright manner that made me anxious. I wasn't sure if it was just me, but I thought his smile looked frozen.
"Yeah, we will." I said, but I had no idea when that would be. "I love you. Just remember that, okay? I love you so much I can't even tell you.."
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, pulling me into a tight embrace. We stayed like that for a moment and then he let me go, smoothing down his coat.
"Are we ready?"
"Not even a little bit. Let's go." I wiped my eyes, and got my sunglasses out of my pocket to disguise my red eyes. We carried my suitcases into the elevator and we began our trip to the main hall.
One by one, the group stepped through the parted red curtains that fell from the ceiling and into the dark room full of puppets and props.
Willy walked in front, leading the way. He stopped when he reached the large metal doors.
"Gosh, I hate crowds." He muttered to himself and turned on his heel, slipping on his large, insect-like goggles in one fluid motion.
"I guess this is it, then. Time sure does fly. It's been an absolute pleasure to have you as my guests. Even though I mainly did it to boost publicity and sales like the last competition, it's really been fun. I hope you all had a marvelous time here. What am I saying? Of course you did."
Willy took Tim's hand and shook it, moving on to Hayden, Candice, myself and then finally Kim, who was standing the furthest away from him.
"Thanks for all the money and chocolate and stuff." She said and hugged him. He winced a little bit, but did not recoil this time. That was an improvement.
"Alrighty then," He said, recovering himself. "On to business. Kim and Candice, you'll be going into the car to the left. Hayden, Tim, Alice, you three will be in the car off to the right. The one going to the airport. Got it? Get it? Good. 'Kay, shall we press on?" He unbolted the dead lock and the doors slid open, the bright light spilling in along with the cheers of the crowd.
I shrank back slightly, taking in the sheer number of people waiting outside the gates. The crowd glittered and flashed like the ocean as people tried to snap photos of the chocolatier.
The last single grain of sand trickled through the hourglass and I felt a dazed feeling of emptiness settle over me.
But we proceeded forward towards the gates that were slowly opening with every step we took. Charlie and Willy stayed at the top of the steps.
I looked back at Willy. He waved at me.
"Take care!" He called out. Someone grabbed my arm. It was Kim.
"Come on, slowpoke. Stop dawdling." She towed me up to the rest of the group, talking excitedly about something that I couldn't quite hear.
As we neared the gates, I found myself wishing for more time. A few hours. Minutes. Seconds, maybe. I'd take what I could get. My life had shone so brightly in the time that I'd been with Willy. I didn't want to give up that happiness. But that was unrealistic.
And then before I knew it, the gates were closing behind me and I was in a car, watching as the factory disappeared into the distance.
Time doesn't wait for anyone. It can be so cruel, and yet we cling to it for dear life, always wishing for more of it.
And time did what time does best, it passed, and it ran out.
Also, little side note, that bit about the orphanage was based on a presumable true (might be, might not be, I'm not saying anything) that I found whilst browsing the internets. I'm going to try and find the original and post it up on my profile or something for the curious.