Disclaimer: All rights belong to Mr. Sondheim, Mr. Burton, et al, for their work on which this was based, and I make no claims to their material. There are spoilerish references in this story.
In A World So Hollow
Sweeney Todd stood at the window of his shop and looked out at the hellhole that was London beneath him. Its ugliness infuriated him more every minute of every day. The killing didn't help; if anything it made things worse, stoking the fury within him ever higher. And when he wasn't doing it, he was aching to do it, living for it, for the moment when it would be Judge Turpin again beneath the blade.
All illusion of normalcy had been excised from his life. Whenever he drifted into a few moments of blood-soaked, nightmare-filled sleep he woke with his hand twitching for the razor. And when he ate – when he forced food into the body he had to keep alive to get Turpin – all he could think of was those pies – Mrs. Lovett's meat pies – and he could barely keep down the acid that burned his stomach and his throat.
At the thought of Mrs. Lovett he turned away from the window and crossed the room to his table where the razors were lying silent and still. He lifted one and slid his thumb along it – then flicked out the blade. He held it up, and his eyes were drawn to a hint of dried blood. He looked at that blood for a moment and considered cleaning it off…then simply closed up the razor and set it back on the table.
He looked at the door. Mrs. Lovett had stood there in the doorway earlier that day, chattering away about something. He hadn't even pretended to listen; he had stopped pretending a long while ago, but she ignored his disinterest. She kept on at him, as though she truly expected someday to get something from him.
What was it she thought he had to give?
He went to the door and pushed it open, then walked out on the landing that led to the stairs and down to Mrs. Lovett's shop. Even in the open air he felt like he couldn't breathe; there was a constant weight on his lungs that kept him from filling them. It was a cold, dark night, and he had left his coat inside. But he didn't go back for it; instead he just kept walking, deeper and deeper into the darkness, drawn into it without thought or purpose to his wandering.
But he knew where he was when he arrived there; it was the last place he had seen them, his Lucy and his Johanna, his wife and his daughter. Or was that Benjamin Barker's wife and daughter? Could Sweeney Todd claim such relationships as his own?
Even in the darkness he could see his wife there, so radiantly beautiful, a goddess. And his young daughter, so full of hope and promise…
His hand twitched; he needed the razor like an addict needed his drug. He knew what he was doing was madness – terrible, unforgivable madness. But he also knew that there was no reason to stop it. Lucy was gone, and Johanna – he could never be anything to her now. He would see her free of Turpin, but he would never let her know him and what he'd become. She would never have the knowledge that this vile creature – this murderer – Sweeney Todd was her father.
He remembered Lucy's eyes so full of love, and the child's trust. He knew he had loved once. He had known what it was like to be loved. And he knew now that was gone forever. Sweeney Todd was not capable of emotion, not like that. If Mrs. Lovett truly thought otherwise she was more of a fool than the vermin who came willingly to the slaughter beneath his blade.
He leaned against the stone wall and closed his eyes. He could feel the cold breeze, but it wasn't unpleasant. His stomach hurt though, a deep burning ache. Those pies he thought, those goddamn pies. He opened his eyes and spit the bile that had risen up though him onto the ground. He looked back in the direction he had come. Turpin had to come soon, he thought. It had to be soon, the end of it, before he lost the shred of sanity he had left.
He walked back, past the street people, past everything in London, not seeing any of it, his focus on nothing but the razors, his friends, alone in that room, waiting for him. When he reached the first step, the door of Mrs. Lovett's shop swung open. "Where have you been?" she asked.
He leaned against the banister and looked at her. He needed the razors, really needed them, but he held himself still and looked at her as she stood there no more than a yard away, a wild look in her eyes. Did she want to be his mother or his lover? he wondered. "Out for a walk, Mrs. Lovett," he said quietly. "Is there something you need?"
"Come in and warm yourself, Mr. Todd," she said.
"Will you give me a pie on the house, Mrs. Lovett?" he asked.
"Whatever you'd like, Mr. Todd," she said.
"I'll pass, thank you," he said, turning away.
"It's a cold night, Mr. Todd, surely…"
He was already walking away, up the stairs to his shop. He pulled open the door and looked at the razors, then shut the door. He walked over to the table and gently stroked one of the razors – the one he favored with the dirty blade – and flicked it open again. He touched the dried blood lightly with his fingertip, and then took the blade to the sink where he carefully cleaned and dried it. His eye caught a glimpse of the hand mirror that was lying on the table, and he walked over to it. He leaned over and looked at his reflection in the glass; he could see clearly the madness in his own eyes. Was it really possible that those who came to his chair didn't see it lurking there? He brought the sharp edge of the blade to his own throat and slid it from right to left, relishing the pounding of his own heart. He knew his own death would come soon enough. The when didn't matter to him as long it was after Turpin's.
His belt holster hung over the back of the chair. After buckling it around his waist, he slid a razor into the holder and then threw on his leather coat. Then he went out and down the stairs, to the door of Mrs. Lovett's shop – and tapped on the door with a fingernail. It was late now, very late, or very early, as it was certainly well past midnight. He wondered for a moment if it was even possible for her to hear such a tapping…and then she appeared at the window with a candle. The flame threw an eerie glow around her face, and he took a voluntary step back from the door, his hand dropping inside his coat to the razor nestled in its holster. She swung the door open. "Mr. Todd?" she asked.
He forced a smile. "Mrs. Lovett, I was wondering if I might have a cup of ale," he said.
He saw her gaze drop to where his hand disappeared within his coat. He brought it out into the open. Her eyes returned to his. "Of course, Mr. Todd," she said, stepping aside so he could walk in.
It was strange to see the place dark and all those tables empty. Although he hadn't entered her shop since his friends had begun their bloody work, he had observed how busy it was on several occasions. The emptiness was a relief to him. He walked to a table near the windows that faced the street and sat down. Soon she was there at the table setting the cup of ale – and a plate with something on it – in front of him. "What is that?" he asked, sliding his chair back from the table without subtlety.
"Fruit pie, Mr. Todd," she said, settling in the chair on his left across the corner of the table. "I asked Toby to buy it. Said I wanted to see what the competition was making."
His stomach did a flip just looking at that pie. He pushed it away. "No, thank you," he said.
"You need to eat something," Mrs. Lovett said. "You're as skinny as a that stairway banister. You're going to wind up dropping dead on the floor yourself one of these days if you don't." She pulled the plate over and plunged a fork into it, then brought it to her lips, chewed, and swallowed. "There then," she said, "perfectly safe, Mr. Todd."
He hesitated a moment further, then pulled the plate back in front of him. He sniffed the pie. He was hungry, and he did have to eat something. "Is this from…"
"Mrs. Mooney's shop?" she said, naming the competitor who used cats in pies. "No, it's from Mrs. Trent. It's nothing to rave about for sure but it wasn't baked with anything untoward…as far as I know anyway." He took the fork and poked the pie for a moment, as if he expected it might attempt to skitter away. "Oh, come now, Mr. Todd," she said, taking the fork from him and stabbing it back into the pie, extracting a portion of its contents before wagging the utensil in front of his lips. "Open up then," she said. He closed his eyes and parted his lips – and she didn't pause in shoving the fork inside. He gagged for a moment, but then chewed briefly and swallowed. "Not worth all the foolishness was it?" she asked. He tasted no meat in what she had fed him, but what he had tasted wasn't so enticing either. He reached for the cup of ale and downed a few swallows before returning it to the table. He was surprised to find the ale was the good stuff, not watered down. "So, Mr. Todd, what…"
He blew out the flame on the candle she had set in the middle of the table. Then he returned to the pie and the ale. Mrs. Lovett continued to talk, but he had stopped listening again. In the darkness of that empty shop he could tune everything out completely…until he felt her hand on his leg and nearly choked on a mouthful of mystery fruit pie.
"Well, then, Mr. Todd, what do you think?" she asked.
His hand had started to twitch – or rather spasm – so he had to set the fork down before it went flying across the room. He could clearly see himself drawing the razor in one quick stroke and dispatching that hand from his leg. "I think I should go," he said, standing up.
"I think you should stay," Mrs. Lovett said, yanking on his coat so it came open and revealed the razor. She let go of the leather quickly. "Unless there's something you need to be doing," she added.
He stood there for a moment looking at her, and then touched the exposed bit on the razor briefly. "Thank you for the pie and the ale, Mrs. Lovett," he said.
"Thank you for the company, Mr. Todd," she replied. He took a few steps toward the door and she said, "If you'd like, you can set your friend aside for a bit and relax here with me. There are some things of my own I'd love to show you."
He turned and looked at her, standing there expectantly, awaiting his response. She was not so entirely unattractive, and the idea of seeing what things of hers she might wish to show him was not entirely repugnant to him. He had already sunk so low; he couldn't imagine that there was a further depth to which he could sink. But he felt no desire for her; there was only one desire left to his life, and that was Turpin's death. "Now isn't the time for relaxing," he said.
"There's no time like…"
"I'll take my relaxation in the grave," he said, and then he pushed the door open and went back out into the night.