(This is one of those "what-would've-happened-if" kinds of stories. Plot-wise, it is exactly the same as the original. Mr. Todd will still have blood on his mind. The villains are exactly the same. But there are minor changes, as this opening chapter hints. Note that some of the conversations are altered, as are the chronological order in which some of the conversations take place. Nothing's really in order. I hope I haven't ruined the story. Read on! If you like it, I think I might just turn this into my ongoing, chapter-containing project. Reviews are, consequently, more than welcome.)
"An apothecary down the street—tried to stop her—"
Nellie Lovett wasn't the least discomfited as Mr. Todd stared at her, glassy-eyed and broken. He was a hopeless introvert. Couldn't see past his own nose—wouldn't suspect a thing. She reached out to him and touched his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Todd," she said. "'Deed I—"
"Mrs. Lovett." His voice was soft. Cracked. "Leave me. Please."
He looked away from her, trembling. Nellie felt a twinge of guilt. Would it help any if she gave up her precious secret? No, of course not. Lucy was dead, in her mind at least. The woman was completely cuckoo.
Satisfied with the ultimate good of her motives, she turned her attention back to Mr. Todd. He was kneeling by the little cradle in the corner, drawing the sheet back from it, staring at the raggedy doll lying within. He reached out, brushing the toy's molded cheek.
"Fifteen years," he said, lowly. "Fifteen years of Hell, Mrs. Lovett. Fifteen years dreaming I might come home to a wife and child."
"Mr. Todd"—she was thinking fast. She had to distract him. Get his thoughts back to the present. –"Mr. Todd, I have somethin' for you."
His breathing shortened. He drew the blanket back over the cradle.
"Here, Mr. Todd, look—see, I kept it, all these years—"
He took the box she held out to him. Opened it. Nellie's heart fluttered to see his great, black eyes glisten, soften—to see him lift up one of those old razors and tilt them so that the dim light shining in through the window danced along their silver polish. His long, thin finger slid along one blade, his gaze riveted on the red drop that spilled into his palm where the keen edge slit his flesh.
"My fr—" he began.
"AWLMS! Alms, awlms for a peetiful woman! Awlms!"
Nellie shrieked. She flew a few steps forward, towards the open door, her arms spread wide. "Out! Out with ya, then! Out!"
The beggar woman ducked her antagonist's flailing fists and darted, in a sort of hunched, awkward fashion, towards Sweeney. She flung her stick-like arms about his middle and clung to him so firmly that he gasped for breath.
"Awlms," whimpered the beggar woman. Her dirty, mud-splotched face was scrunched against his chest. "Don'—don't I know you, mister?"
Nellie made a darting grab at the intruder, but Mr. Todd turned a little to one side, away from her. He had stiffened up when the beggar woman had first caught him tight in her embrace, and he still stood very straight and still, but a strange look had come over him—his white face was drawn into a look of intense concentration, and he raised the beggar woman's face to the light despite her muffled protestations. In a moment his restraint on his emotions snapped. With a little sob his head dropped and he nuzzled the beggar woman's matted, dirt-caked head of hair, his hands tightening on her shoulders.
"Lucy," he said. "Lucy."