"Stiles," He looked up to see his Dad leaning on his bedroom doorjamb, pinching the bridge of his nose in disbelief at the words about to come out of his mouth, "I just got off the phone with the school superintendent. Are you, or are you not, spending your afternoons dealing chocolate out of your trunk in the junior high parking lot like some kind of mafia wise guy?"
"Dealing is such a harsh word." Stiles hedged with a really terrible Jersey accent. "I prefer to think of it as providing a service, fulfilling a need, as it were."
"I thank god every day that you weren't born in an earlier era. Al Capone, you are not." His Dad squinted at his position on the ground in amusement, "Keep in mind that you are talking to an experienced and observant cop and you are currently pinned to the floor with several large, well labelled boxes of your 'product'."
"There may have been some transactions between friends."
"You don't HAVE any friends at the junior high."
"Nothing illegal is happening." Stiles protested, shoving at the boxes to unbury himself. He stacked them haphazardly in a dangerous lean and they immediately toppled over the other way, tumbling across his bed. "I bought them all fair and square, nothing fell off the back of a truck or anything. They just buy more, since the high-schoolers all have cars and credit cards and can get their own."
"You're teaching them to literally take candy from strangers." The Sheriff scolded in a disappointed tone, "I know you really want a Golden Ticket, but this isn't the way to go about it. This kind of thing?" he gestured to the open candy on the desk and the bottle of glue. "This is exactly what I give a school speech on every fall at the elementary school; the risk of candy that has been tampered with."
"I… hadn't thought of that." Stiles admitted, his defensive stance deflated and he sank into his rolling chair and chewed on his lip. "I didn't mean any harm."
His Dad came over to hug him and scrub at his hair comfortingly. "I know kid. You just act without thinking sometimes."
"Thanks, Dad." He mumbled into his father's chest. "M'sorry."
"It's okay, but I'm still shutting down your whole operation and taking a cut, Mr. Wiseguy." The Sheriff grabbed a Hale Bar from the open box on the desk and waved the purple and green package in Stiles' face, ignoring the indignant choking noises emitting from his objecting son. "The first rule of the mafia is greasing the pigs with bribes so's ya don't get pinched."
Stiles' face twisted up in disgust at his Dad's terrible imitation. "You are SO not cool. I vote you should never try that accent again."
"Agreed." His dad said easily, "So long as you never try this again." He gestured to the boxes stacked on every surface of Stiles' room.
"What am I going to DO with them all." Stiles whined.
"Not my department."
"… and it's his lucky day." Derek remarked in a calm tone. "That particular tunnel doesn't lead to the top of the waterfall. We're the only factory in the world that mixes it's chocolate by waterfall, you know."
No one was sure how to respond to that.
"At least the conching process takes place upstream." Derek continued completely oblivious to the mood of the situation. "Wouldn't want him ground down into silky smooth chocolate, now would we. He'd taste awful. At least a whole body is easier to dredge out of the river than little bits of one."
Stiles couldn’t hide his tiny smirk and nodded his agreement when Derek glanced at him. At least he wasn’t the only one with a morbid sense of humor and healthy sense of schadenfreude. The corner of Derek’s lips quirked up at Stiles’ commiserating look.
"You don't understand." Mr. Whittemore whined, "Jackson is Captain of the swim team. He would never just drown."
"A smart swimmer doesn't fight the current, he cuts across it to reach the bank. I'm sure he's washed up downstream." The Sheriff comforted. "We'll go get him." He guided Mr. Whittemore away down the shoreline. A narrow stone walkway edged the river on each side, just wide enough for them to walk single file. "Stay here," he admonished everyone before a turn in the tunnel forced him out of sight.
A grinding noise made the whole group jump. Derek had returned to the wall and pulled a bone from it’s niche. Stiles noticed that it was apparently a secret handle, because it trailed a rusty old chain as Derek pulled it as hard as he could. His shoulder muscles flexed deliciously beneath his jacket as the chain begrudgingly moved inch by inch. A large section of the wall across the river rumbled and sank into the molten chocolate, revealing an alcove with a creepy looking gondola. A human sized and anatomically correct sugar skeleton lurched to its feet and grabbed a candy striped pole. It gently poled over to the shore in front of the stunned group.
Derek gracefully hopped in and took a seat, he looked up at the rest of them expectantly. "Staying or going?"
Stiles considered for a moment, looking between where his Dad had disappeared and the open bench next to Derek. His decision was made quickly and he jumped down into the boat, taking the seat right next to the candy maker. Derek smelled like hazelnut coffee with plenty of french vanilla cream. Even just smelling it made Stiles feel warm.