So back when I started this story…many moons ago…it was just a series of vignettes, and the POV was going to switch with each chapter (as you see if you've read the previous chapters). However…when I went to update, this just sort of came out. And it doesn't follow the POV-switching rule, because the last chapter was Todd's POV and this one is as well. The following will be Lovett's, though, and unlike previous chapters it will directly connect to this one. So it's sort of a…two-part vignette, if you will. Anyway, I hope you guys really enjoy this because I'm updating just for you—this story has been dead for almost two years, and I've been getting so many reviews and favorite alerts lately that it really encouraged me to come back to it. If I get more reviews after this chapter, I'll continue as best I can once school picks back up (my last semester of college, thank God!). Enjoy!
He walked back to the shop in a daze. Surely his mind had been playing tricks on him. Too much work, not enough sleep. She was nothing more than a lunatic beggar…but he knew his Lucy's eyes as sure as his own, and he knew he had just looked into them.
The shop was quiet when he returned. Slowly he sank into a chair, resting his elbows on the table. It couldn't be. Lucy was dead; she'd been dead for years now.
"What's happened, love?" Mrs. Lovett's voice startled him. "You look like you've just met a ghost!" She was standing at the bottom of the stairs, clad in that flimsy nightgown she always wore and a worn, fraying silk robe he'd never seen. Her hair was still pinned up but a few strands had fallen loose around her face…she looked almost beautiful, like a lady ought to look.
He found himself staring at her, but in his mind all he could see was the beggar…Lucy's eyes, maybe even her mouth? Or maybe he was imagining that?
"Mister T?" Lovett again. She was beside him now, her palm pressed against his forehead. "Aren't you feeling all right, love? You're a little bit warm."
"I need you to tell me about Lucy," he blurted. "About how she died."
"Oh, come now…you don't want to hear about that."
He let out a heavy sigh. Lovett had her hands at the base of his neck, kneading his tired muscles, and though he hated to admit it, it felt good. Overworked…he knew he was overworked, and that coupled with a lack of sleep must have produced this delusion. "Never mind," he heard himself say.
"There now, I didn't think so." She lowered her lips to barely brush his ear. "What brought up Lucy, anyhow?"
"Nothing," he leaned back in the chair, letting himself relax into her hands, "It was just a…a thought." She was gone. Lucy was gone, and no amount of wishing or talking of her could bring her back.
"Do you really still think of her, Mister T?" Lovett's voice snapped him out of his reverie.
"Yes, of course."
"I mean, now that you've got the shop and all. And…you've got me." The tone of her voice angered him instantly. How dare she compare herself…He had hold of her wrist before even giving it half a thought, and yanked her around the side of the chair. "I didn't mean anything by it," she sputtered, "You know that, you know I didn't…" She blathered on, but he was no longer hearing her. Now, like so many times before, he could rid himself of her for good. Hold her still with one hand, pin her to the table and squeeze his other hand tight around her neck. He could do it, so why didn't he? Looking at her now, in light of what—not what, but who—he was more than certain he had seen on the street, it was becoming clear. Save for Johanna, Lovett was his last remaining connection to his Lucy. Lovett was tangible to him; Johanna was not. No matter how he despised the woman at times, how much she grated on him, he simply couldn't bring himself to cut that string. The last thing that bound him to Lucy… "Mister T?" Lovett's voice reached him again; he relaxed his grip on her wrist. "You haven't heard a word I've said, have you?"
"Mrs. Lovett," he began in a voice he barely recognized as his own, "I need you to tell me about her. About Lucy."
She gave him a curious stare, tilting her head ever so slightly. "I thought we just went through this…"
"Have I ever asked anything of you?" When she didn't respond, he drew her closer, so that she was nearly in his lap. "Nellie," he knew that using her first name would likely elicit a response, "have I ever asked anything of you?"
"No," her voice dropped to a register much lower than usual; she wasn't looking him in the eyes, "No, you've never asked anything of me." When she raised her head, her eyes were glassy. "Is this what you want? You want to know how she was after you…after the judge got to her?" He nodded, and she subsequently pulled her wrist from his grip. "Very well, then. But I don't know just what you're expecting."