Rating: R for violence
Author's Notes: The final moments of the life of Sweeney Todd. I'd considered first person, but I really don't like that POV—it's so awkward, and you have to dive deep into the character's mind to write it proper, and Sweeney Todd's is not a mind I want to get too deep inside of. Also, the style of writing—the italicized thoughts in parentheses—is not my creation. That particular style, which I so very much adore, is very much Stephen King's. I'm just using it here because this is a stream-of-consciousness fic, and that style works so well with stream-of-consciousness.
He hadn't understood her hesitation, hadn't understood her sudden disobedience. He hated it when she didn't do as he said, and she knew that. But when the door to that massive, deadly oven had swung forth with a creaking, wailing protest, and the light from the hot fire inside had cast a hellish light upon everything, then he'd known. He'd known.
Mrs. Lovett had hesitated because of her. The old woman she'd been dragging.
He'd nearly missed it at first as he'd snapped his sleeves back, standing over the dead, anticipating pushing the remains of Judge Turpin into the oven and becoming intoxicated on the smoke that would come from his burning flesh. But he'd seen her, just an old beggar woman not one minute ago. An old beggar woman, mad and crazy, in his shop—he'd not had time for her nonsense. And he needed not Mrs. Lovett's tempering, nobody ever missed the unfortunates—he'd easily whipped his razor through the air at the mad old biddy. But she no longer looked mad—she was peaceful, so peaceful in death. And that peace…he'd seen it so many times before, so many years ago. He'd woken up next to it countless times, because his wife had loved to sleep on her side…facing the baby's crib…and then she would smile…
He'd not wanted it to be true as he'd slowly leaned down, bloody fingers stretching towards the brittle, ragged hair still partially covering her face,
(yellow, it had been yellow once)
and when he'd carefully pushed it aside, he'd seen.
With more tenderness than he'd ever shown in almost fifteen years, he gently pushed her over, and there…oh, God…Lucy…no, it couldn't be, but it was, it was Lucy, his Lucy, his beautiful, virtuous Lucy, his wife, why hadn't he seen…
He couldn't think. There was nothing to think. Her body was already cold against his blood-spattered hand, her throat split open from a perfect, even cut, for he'd always been an artist with a knife, and she was dead—
(know you, mister…?)
" 'Don't I know you,' she said," he heard himself whisper, gazing down at his wife's face, seeing her…his prayers had finally been answered, he'd prayed so hard, wished so much…wanted so badly to see his wife's face again…to hold her, touch her…and here she was.
And she was dead.
He'd killed her, just as carelessly as he'd killed all the others, without any bravado, any second-thought, any anything, he'd slit her throat, snuffed out her life as easily as Mrs. Lovett would smash cockroaches with that rolling pin of hers…
"You knew she lived." He didn't look at Mrs. Lovett when he said it—he couldn't. He didn't want to look at her—and he almost wanted her to deny it. To say that no, she'd honestly thought Lucy had died by her own hand, because if she did not…
"I was only thinkin' of you!"
Now he looked at her. No words were coming—all of this…it was…
Mrs. Lovett. She'd always brought him something to eat. Tended to him when he'd been sick. Fussed so much over his general health, didn't she? Thinking of him…she thought of him a lot. Assisted him in keeping his murder in check, never killing someone who could be traced, and then neatly disposing of what he killed. What he killed…
His fingers tightened slightly on the ragged dress that Lucy was wearing.
Mrs. Lovett had saved his razors for him. Mrs. Lovett had not saved Lucy for him.
"You lied to me…"
All of it. Lies—they were all lies, starting with when she'd told him Lucy was gone. Mrs. Lovett was talking, but he didn't hear it. All he could think of was how she'd said they could get by…they could have a life, them two—not as he remembered…
What he remembered…
Lucy. Just today he'd only remembered her yellow hair. Now he remembered everything. Her laugh—Lucy so loved to laugh…how long had it been since he'd laughed? Her eyes, they'd been blue. He'd fallen in love with them so quickly…and she'd not liked roses very much, preferring things like daisies and tiny little blue flowers that he couldn't remember. And she never called him Ben…it was always Benjamin—
(Benjamin, my dearest Benjamin)
and then Johanna had come…Lucy had named their precious daughter after her mother, pretty Johanna, and he remembered the fright they'd had after Johanna had been delivered…he'd nearly lost his wife, she'd not stopped bleeding—
(she's stopped bleeding now, nothing left to bleed)
and the way her skirt would flit about her ankles when she walked, she seemed to walk on air, and how she'd danced—he'd never been a good dancer, but he'd put forth his best for her, because she so loved it and he hated denying her something she loved so dearly just because he wasn't any good, and he remembered how she'd kiss him, and how soft her hair had been, and to hold her, and how he'd never, ever raised a hand to her, or even his voice…
(I love you, Benjamin, please, never leave me, Benjamin)
Oh, God, what had he done?
That thing. Two of Mrs. Lovett's words penetrated the haze of sorrow, shock, numbness, and sudden memories that permeated him. That thing. He hadn't been aware of getting to his feet. That thing. Mrs. Lovett, calling his wife, his Lucy, his beautiful, wonderful Lucy, his dead Lucy that thing.
He turned on her. Words automatically seemed to be bubbling forth and he advanced on her, watching her back slowly away, terrified, but his stuttering brain somehow knew exactly what to say to her, for she did not run when he finally reached her, and she fell into his arms when he grabbed her. He did not hear what she said; he didn't even hear what he was saying. He danced with her—danced, and his agony swirled forth into that fury,
(once more, just once more and it can be done, finally done)
and he spun past Lucy. The razor was forgotten in his hand—he didn't want to use it. Somehow, his precious beauty had become an evil beast, responsible for the death of that which he loved most, and using it again
(never use it again, poor Lucy, he'd killed his dearest Lucy)
would seem foul, and loathsome.
But Mrs. Lovett had to be dealt with. Her treachery, her lies, her scheming…her poisoned words echoed in his head, and he heard himself screaming them at her, screaming that life was for the alive, so they'd just best keep living it, then, and he remembered her asking him if they could be married
(we will marry in hell, you and I)
and the heat from the oven was scorching the air around them. He knew she saw it coming, but he took no pleasure in doing it. His fingers tightened, his arms tensed, and he hurled her into the mouth of hell itself. The fire licked up her dress, consuming her, and she screamed and flailed, but he felt nothing—not even the twisted pleasure he'd gotten from killing all the others, there was simply nothing here…
(even you, Mrs. Lovett, even I)
He didn't want to hear her scream anymore. He never wanted to hear anything from her again. He slammed the oven shut, staring one last time in at her, before locking the watch slot as well. She was finally silenced, finally away from him, and she'd taken all of her lies with her. He turned, his eyes falling once again upon his wife. He barely felt the razor slip from his slick fingers, but it didn't matter—what did the razor matter?
Dropping to his knees, he gently lifted his wife into his arms. He held her—and how he loved her. He loved her so very much, and, even though poverty, begging, and God knew what else had ravaged her terribly, she was still beautiful, still his wife. He'd called her his reason and his life, and he'd not been lying. Lucy…his Lucy. So cold now, even though she'd been warm in live. Warm, always warm, and soft. But now she was dead. Dead,
(the sewer grate—Toby, is that you?)
and there was no reason or life now. There was only blood, blood all over him, pooled around them both, splattered across the floor of the bakehouse. Blood…hadn't he craved it so before? Precious rubies, he'd called it. Looking at the red coating his wife's throat, he remembered…red had never been his favorite color. Lucy had never worn red,
(behind me, Toby, it's there, and it will be warm in your hand)
she'd worn white. And he'd always loved blue…blue, and green. Where were those colors? Where had they gone? They were with Lucy—she'd taken them with her. Her eyes were closed, the blue of her eyes behind her lids, and the green he'd adored did not exist any longer, for the flowers she loved and the dresses she worn had withered to dust and disappeared in the wind. Why had he filled his life with red—red was the color of a rose, and Lucy had never liked roses, what had he been thinking…
(be a dear, lad, and make it quick)
He'd already tilted his head back, exposing his throat, and waited. He knew it wouldn't take long, and he was right—his throat, which had only been ever kissed by Lucy before this, was suddenly caressed by the gleaming silver of the razor that Toby had taken up. Fire laced across his neck, but he knew it would fade…and there it went, already going, leaving him, just as everything was…dying…he'd thought he'd died once already, but no, he hadn't…for dying was as he'd said it was…a relief…Lucy, he wanted to look upon her face one last time, but he couldn't see anymore…Lucy, where was Lucy, for he'd come home…
(I love you)
Sweeney Todd was dead, his wife in his arms, his accomplice in ashes, his vengeance finally spent.