He danced her towards the stove slowly, gracefully, every part of his motions gentle and soft except for his arms, which were tightened around her hard as steel. Her eyes were wide and fixed on his as he guided her footsteps backwards, and he could not tell if she was aware of what he was doing, was aware of the fate that burned mere feet away from her. From her face, she looked to be in some sort of trance, yet also strangely conscious of everything around her, and even everything not around her. It unnerved him in some way: she was so alert, yet so vulnerable, rather different than her normal persona.
Nearly there, nearly there. He led her backwards, further, ever slowly, ever deftly. He could do it now, if he truly wanted, could throw her the final few feet into the fire if he put enough force behind it. But that would give her time to dodge, to escape. No, better to wait it out. Wait. That was certainly one thing she had taught him, one thing he could thank her for, even as he pushed her towards death:
Good things come to those who wait . . .
Closer, closer, almost there, almost there. Blood pounded in his head, rushed through his veins; she had deceived him, had lied to him – but no matter, she would get what she deserved. Just as all the others had.
We all deserve to die . . .
Her large, transfixed eyes suddenly went even larger: she had felt the heat of the flames at her back. He made to throw her in, but she gripped his hand, his sleeve, his hair, whatever she could hold onto, desperately, her gaze pleading.
"Mr. T, Mr. T, please!" she whispered.
"You lied to me," he growled, his venom and menace revealed plainly; he tried to shake her off him, but she would not relinquish her hold. "You – lied – and – now – dead – Lucy – "
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, please forgive me, I was only thinking of you, love, please – "
"No! You deserve this. You lied, you lied to me."
"And what would you've done if you'd known?" she cried, both her hands gripping the collar of Todd's shirt now. She was no longer begging, now she was merely enraged. "What would you've done if you'd known that she'd gone mad?"
This threw him, made him pause, and he stopped trying to wrench her away from him for a moment.
"Would you've been happier?" she demanded. "Would you've been happier, spending your days with her? Would you've liked that? D'you think you would've decided not to take revenge on Judge Turpin, d'you think it would've made a difference to you, really?"
He made an inhuman noise of rage and pain, something like a snarl only deeper, and attempted to fling her away, but Mrs. Lovett grasped tight. She was not finished yet.
"D'you think you really would've cared about her, when she was like that? Think of her, Mr. Todd, think of her, not how she used to be, but what she'd become! Would you've really wanted to know what she'd become? Would it've changed you, would you've cared for her enough to put aside your scheming revenge just for her? Would you've?"
Incensed, he threw her off him with all his force behind it, but instead of tossing her to the fire, he threw her sideways, near the shelves of the uncooked meat. They looked at each other; both panting, but for different reasons . . . or perhaps from the same ones: anger, exhilaration, and fear can take different forms, and can be for different reasons, but when boiled down to their essence they are still the same.
"Mr. Todd, love, Mr. T – " she said, gulping air.
"Get out of here," he muttered, his lips barely moving, every syllable resounding with his anger. "Leave, right now."
"I – "
"Right – now," he seethed.
"Benjamin – " she blurted out, the corners of her eyes gathering moisture.
"Just GO!" he shouted, the quiet control of his fury snapping.
She stole a last look at him, then fled, running behind the grinder and stove and out the back way.
He moved back towards his wife, his Lucy, falling down to his knees beside her. He pulled her head into his lap, cradling it gently, blood seeping down from her neck and covering his pants.
What have I done . . . what have I done . . . Lucy . . .
And Mrs. Lovett had known she was alive . . .
His hands shook, his anger overwhelming, overflowing. Why, why had he spared that she-devil? She would have deserved death, would have deserved nothing less than to burn, to rot, to scald under the heat until only her ashes remained . . .
But something about what she'd said had resounded within him: would it really have been better for him to know, to know what dear Lucy had become? Would he have really been able to put aside his thirst for vengeance, for justice, and be there for her, care for her as he should've as her husband?
Would it have made a difference?
He clenched his teeth, ran his fingers through Lucy's hair, staining it with the many different bloods on his hands. No, it wouldn't have: he would have still done everything quite the same. He would have still wanted revenge. He wouldn't have been able to focus enough on his wife with such vengeance occupying his mind.
She still lied to you.
But was he himself so much better?
Quiet footsteps against the rough, wet ground distracted him from his musings. Breathing, light and faint, but wrathful and hating, reached his ears.
"Hello, Toby," he said quietly.
The soft clunks of the shoes went silent, but the breaths behind him became more ragged.
He turned his head the merest fraction, peering at the boy out of the corner of his eye. The sight of the lad stanced in such an aggressive manner caused the barber's dark, brooding eyes to flicker with bleak amusement; caused a shadow of a smile to appear on the faced decayed and hollowed by pain.
"Going to kill me, Toby?" he asked, though it was a rhetorical question.
The razor, his own razor, held tight in the lad's hand, quivered slightly. "You'd deserve it," Toby told him.
"Who doesn't?" Todd murmured back, with dry musing in his tone.
The boy moved closer.
"You don't really want to liken yourself to me, though, do you?" Todd questioned. "Stoop to my level in such a way?"
He had meant it without mirth, and without solemnity either – he knew there wasn't much hope for himself at this point – but it seemed the boy took him seriously, for he quavered again, and pedaled a half-step back.
Todd sighed, removed his hands from his wife's hair, running them over his own face, finding it to be as clean-shaven as ever. The only part of him that was at this point.
"If that's all, then," he muttered, and got to his feet. He looked back at the boy, who only watched him warily, but did not make to move, did not make to reach over and slit his throat. Then the barber began to walk away, his steps slow, methodical, yet again manipulating someone's steps – yet this time, the steps he was manipulating were his own, and he was guiding them out of the room, outside into the night.
"Mr. T – Mr. Todd!"
Standing outside was Mrs. Lovett, her arms held tight around her chest as she leaned up against the wall, looking him over closely, apprehensively, lovingly. Apparently she had taken his words of 'leave right now' to mean 'stand outside the shop' – which was really not the interpretation he had been going after, but it didn't matter now. Ignoring her, he began walking down the road, hands in his coat pockets, shoulders hunched over, lost to the world in his own bitter and anguished thoughts.
There was a barber and his wife . . .
He didn't know where he was going, and nor did he care. He knew one thing: and that was that he was going, going far away, going someplace where they could not find him; where no one could find him; where he would know no one, not even himself.
And she was beautiful . . .
He could hear footfalls behind him, poorly disguised footfalls – because they weren't bothering to disguise them. Mrs. Lovett. Of course. Well, let her follow him, if that's what she goddamn wanted. He didn't care, didn't care about anything, except, except –
A foolish barber and his wife . . .
He ducked his head, tucking his chin against his chest, and walked on, the wind howling behind him, the leaves crackling in the breeze, his footsteps falling heavy and solid against the cobbled road of Fleet Street.
She was his reason for his life . . .
A/N: though I really loved all of Sweeney Todd, the ending did leave me somewhat unsatisfied. I really wanted Todd to live with what's he's done, to have to face it day after day. And I really liked the mental image of him walking away from Fleet Street and from all that he's done there, and yet still being followed by all of it no matter where he goes (with Mrs. Lovett trailing after him like a poor lovesick puppy).
Anyway, so do let me know what you thought of my first Sweeney Todd fan-fiction, whether you liked it or not, and if you found it at all plausible. :)