Author: smashing PM
Mr. Todd can't sleep. ToddLovettRated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Chapters: 3 - Words: 2,253 - Reviews: 61 - Favs: 39 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 01-02-08 - Published: 12-30-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3979642
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The air outside was heavy, but tolerable; already the chill of evening was beginning to set in. A light breeze rushed through the London streets like a sigh of relief. In the milky afterglow of twilight the entire city looked like a dreamscape, everything so grey and soft and silent. It was with the air of a sleepwalker that Mr. Todd drifted over cobblestones that felt painfully familiar beneath his feet. His legs seemed to move of their own volition; Todd himself was too distracted to think about where he was going, and too exhausted to care.
At length he found himself standing in front of a stone bench and a small patch of grassy earth. Next to the bench stood a single oak tree, ancient branches stretched toward the sky as if in supplication. He recognized this place. He had been here before; or rather, a man very much like him had come to a place very like this one. Only that place had been much brighter- the world itself had been brighter, and more colorful, more full of goodness and promise and hope. And the man had been happy. All the same, even Benjamin Barker had sleepless nights. A future and a family give a man a great deal to think about, and sometimes his head was so full of dreams and plans and possibilities that he would slip silently from his bed (Lucy always slept soundly, no petty worries or foolish fears to trouble the thoughts of an angel) and travel down these cobblestone streets to a peaceful corner with an old oak tree and a bench to rest on. He would sit and lean his head back and gaze at the stars until he was swallowed up by the vast velvet darkness, and then his troubles would fade to nothing, as coldly distant as the pinpricks of light that dotted the sky.
He looked up, jerked suddenly from his reverie. "Mrs. Lovett?" he inquired, startled by the familiar figure rushing towards him down the road.
She reached him and paused for a moment to smooth her skirts, which were wildly askew. Then she shoved a a black bundle under his nose, babbling breathlessly. "Forgot-- your coat-- Mr. Todd. Warm-- this morning, but-- chilly now. Catch your death."
He stared incredulously at this absurdity of a woman, unable to decide whether she was charmingly infuriating or infuriatingly charming. "How did you find me here?"
She spoke quickly. "Soon as I noticed you'd left your coat, I started after you. You'd a head start but I could still see you a ways off, walkin' all slow an' solitary-like. I ran the whole way." She smiled with shy pride at that, but the expression vanished quickly. She looked down at her hands, twisting her fingers nervously. He had asked to be alone, after all.
She was relieved when a wry smile stole across his face and he shook his head, amazed. "Mrs. Lovett," he declared, "You're a bloody wonder. You know that?"
"So you've told me, Mr. T." There was a silence. It appeared there was nothing more to be said. "Well, there you go. I just wanted to make sure you'd be quite warm. I supposed I'll be heading back t'the shop now; it'll be a new day tomorrow and hungry bellies can't be kept waiting."
He stared after her. As she walked away he felt the sickening emptiness creeping back into his stomach. He hadn't noticed until now that it had gone away. "Wait!" She turned.
"What is it Mr. T?"
He swallowed. "Thank you. For the coat, I mean."
"Well, you're welcome, Mr. T. 'Twas nothing, really." She started down the street once more, leaving him alone again with the ghosts. He stared after her, desperately, hungry for the feel of something solid to anchor him in the present. He couldn't stand another moment of that gnawing discomfort, those terrible pictures that flickered behind his eyelids, those damned scenes that played over and over and over in his head, bathed in the garish light of memory and regret.
"Don't leave me!" he blurted despairingly. She spun around to stare at him, her eyes clouded with confusion. "I mean," he added hastily, "I'm not sure of the way back to Fleet Street from here..."
A slow smile of understanding crept across her face. "Of course I'll stay with you, Mr. Todd." He noticed, to his chagrin, that she really was beautiful when she smiled.
"Well, sit down then." He gave a small sigh of exasperation, expecting her to cozy up next to him. She surprised him by sitting a respectful distance away, hands clasped determinedly in her lap. Still, she was close enough that he could feel her shivering; it really had gotten colder now. "You ridiculous woman," he murmured. "You haven't even brought a coat for yourself." And he threw a reluctant arm around her and drew her trembling form close. She felt fragile, her slight frame pressed against him, her head nestled warmly in the hollow of his neck. Together, they gazed heavenwards, losing themselves in the inky infinite black.
"Pretty little buggers, ain't they?" Mrs. Lovett mused, with an expansive gesture towards the majestic canopy of stars. "Hm? Mr. Todd?"
But there was no reply, because Sweeney Todd had finally, finally drifted into a warm and dreamless sleep.
A/N: Fin! Comments? Criticisms? Oaths of undying loyalty? Leave a review! I don't like to beg, but... I'm basically a very lazy person, and reviews motivate me. And I'm thinking of trying my hand at a longer fic, so I'll need lots of motivation...