He was fond of sitting by the window. Especially when it rained. Oh yes, he loved rain in every form, whether it was a torrential downpour with large, heavy drops hammering the dismal, dark cobblestones of Fleet Street or a light, hazy drizzle making the air and the skies gloomy and hopeless. It didn't really matter, anyhow. All rain, heavy or light, made the day cheerless and grey. That was the way Sweeney Todd liked everything...just as miserable as he was.
Luckily for him, it was raining that day as he sat broodingly in dusty, grey armchair by the window, not even taking notice of the steady, large beads of water that softly pattered against the cold, foggy windowpanes. He wasn't observing the droplets that clung to the glass for a brief moment until slithering down the pane like a tear gently sliding down someone's cheek.
No. The only thing he perceived was the glossy, silvery barber's knife he had clenched tightly in his hand. He was assiduously studying the lustrous, gleaming blade and capriciously polishing it with a black, velvety cloth. He polished his cherished knife like a mother soothingly rubbing her child's back after the child had a nightmare. His hand and the cloth moved together across the blade, lovingly stroking away any smudges or grime. His friends had to be in faultless, pristine condition for his next customer. That is, if any customers came. Normally, men didn't like to go to a barber when the weather was "nasty". Honestly, no one in London really liked to go anywhere when the weather was bad. So, that's why Todd decided to not even up bother being up in his barbershop that day. There would be no customers, so what would've been the point?
Todd glanced out the window fleetingly to see a young couple walking together under a beige umbrella in the rain. The girl was fresh and beautiful with flaxen hair and even though the weather was dreary and cold, she had a wide smile on her face and her cheeks were rosy with happiness. He shot the two a scathing look as they shared an intimate kiss under the umbrella. Of course the two didn't see his glare since they were too wrapped up in each other to go peering into the window of Mrs. Lovett's pie shop.
"Bloody little vermin," Todd snarled. "Disgusting. In the middle of the street, if it weren't bad enough." He gave the couple one last disgusted look before returning his attention to his knife. That particular knife had been in desperate need of a polishing and Todd liked it to be shiny. Clandestinely, that particular knife was his favorite. He planned to use it on Judge Turpin once he got the chance for his sweet, glorious revenge. He could imagine it right there where he sat. He could see his favorite knife plunge deeply into Turpin's vile, perverse neck, releasing the bright red, warm, thick blood. It would be beautiful. He could almost taste the metallic blood of Turpin splattering against his lips as he would incessantly thrust the knife into Turpin's evil flesh, watching the wicked life fade away from his malicious, beady eyes.
Just the mere imagining of his triumph was making him painfully restless. So much so that Todd practically leapt up out of his chair and began to anxiously pace back and forth across the small living room. His shoes hammered against the floorboards as he plodded anxiously to and fro. His heavy boots clomping up and down the room caused the knick-knacks on the scuffed-up chestnut end table to tremble, threatening to plummet to the floor.
He clutched his knife tighter in his hand. So hard that the etchings on the handle began digging into the flesh of his palm. It was certain to leave an imprint on his flesh once he let go...if he ever let go.
"Wot' in the world are you doin' in 'ere, Mr. Todd? Toby an' I thought we 'eard an earthquake or somethin'."
Todd stopped mid-step. Mrs. Lovett. How dare she invade his privacy!
"Get out," Todd growled in an ominous voice. When he got that tone in his voice, it meant, "You better beat it unless you want to be pie filling."
But oddly, Mrs. Lovett ignored this. Or...conceivably it wasn't so odd. Perhaps she was just used to his nasty, vengeful moods. Come to think of it, he was in one of those moods about ninety-nine percent of the time so one would think Mrs. Lovett would've indeed grown accustomed to them.
"Mr. Todd? Why're you down 'ere anyways. Shouldn't you be workin'?" Mrs. Lovett moved over to him, her frayed, black dress rustling against the floor. She lightly put a hand on his shoulder but he shrugged it off. "Wot' you thinkin' bout now, Mr. T?"
"I..." Todd clenched his teeth. "I can't wait. I need to kill him now!" His temper flared up like a fire in a dry wheat field and the volume of his voice increased about ten times from what it was. "I'm no longer satisfied with bloody customers! I'll have the Judge and the Beadle no matter..."
"Not again," Mrs. Lovett muttered. "Lord 'elp us."
Todd froze for a moment before giving Mrs. Lovett a hard glare. "What...did you say?"
"Mr. T," Mrs. Lovett sighed, moving to the back of Todd and delicately grasping his shoulders from behind. "You need to stop upsettin' yourself all the time," she led him over to couch in the parlor and situated him on the middle cushion. Then, keeping her hands tightly clasped onto his hard shoulders, she sat down beside him and began massaging his shoulders, working out the tight knots in his muscles. This proved to be no mean feat. "Look 'ow stressed you are, love!" Her long, spindly fingers kneaded into his tense flesh as her thumbs pressed down on both sides of his back and began making little circles.
"Wh-What ...are you d-doing?" the barber stammered, giving a shuddering breath as Mrs. Lovett relieved the tension out of an area in-between his shoulder blades by making firm swiveling motions with her fingers. Sweeney Todd was feeling uncomfortably vulnerable then. The massage Mrs. Lovett was giving him felt so good that it was sending a satisfying sensation of tremors down his spine. He was practically numb from the sheer euphoria. His back and shoulders hadn't felt so weightless and painless for many long years. It seemed as if over fifteen years of stress, tension, and ache were slowly being kneaded out by Mrs. Lovett's fingers. He was feeling so much bliss that he could hardly move and his lips only twitched as her hands moved down, rubbing and squeezing the torturous pressure out of the muscles in the middle of his back.
"Jos 'elpin you out a bit," Mrs. Lovett replied in an almost chipper tone, though the happiness was somewhat diluted due to the slightly somnolent sound that was almost always present in her voice.
Sweeney attempted a coherent response, but failed when Mrs. Lovett began rubbing his back with more vigorous dexterity. He even was able to let go of the straight razor clenched in his hand.
"Mary mother o' Jesus, Mr. T!" Mrs. Lovett exclaimed. "'Aven'tchoo ever 'ad a right good massage before?"
Sweeney tried to see if he could manage a "no", but all he was capable of was a curt shake of his head.
"Well, no wonder," Mrs. Lovett scoffed, still hard at work. His back was practically as hard as a rock. "'Ow's a fella 'sposed to get by without ever 'avin' a backrub, I ask ya?" Mrs. Lovett snorted to herself. "Bloody absurd. Your back's 'bout as 'ard as a bloody boulder, love!"
The rather stupefied barber of Fleet Street wanted to say something in reply, but much to his embarrassment, a low growl of contentment escaped his lips opposed to an articulate response.
Mrs. Lovett giggled girlishly, something a woman of her years rarely ever did. But she found Sweeney's reaction to her massage so amusing that she couldn't resist. Besides, what female of any age cannot resist giggling once in awhile?
"You like that, Mr. T?" she asked him with a smirk, manipulating his sides even more with her nimble hands. He replied with a groan and his eyes slowly slid shut as he leaned forward. "No need to answer. I think I know ya like it." Mrs. Lovett then proceeded to his lower back, pushing up his white tunic, and moving her fingers up and down against his bare skin.
"Harder," Sweeney growled almost inaudibly.
"'Arder?" Mrs. Lovett raised her eyebrows and her lips puckered together slightly, forming a little "O" of surprise at his request.
"Yes," Sweeney snarled, irritated that she had stopped. "Harder...please..." then he added, with a little contempt, "...my sweet."
"Well..." Mrs. Lovett's pursed lips relaxed and the ends curled up into a small smirk. "Since you asked so nicely..." she began gently tracing her fingers onto his exposed flesh, not really pressing down hard enough for him to feel anything.
"Dear," Sweeney hissed through clenched teeth, trying to control his temper. "Why must we play this game?"
"You mean...?" Mrs. Lovett feigned shock. "You actually like it?"
"You don't want me to stop," Mrs. Lovett's smirk widened. "You're gettin' cranky 'cos I stopped aren'tcha? That means ya like wot I've been doin'."
"Yes, of course, fine..." Sweeney was too anxious for her to continue the massage to begin an argument. "I like it. You happy?"
"Woman!" he'd lost it, finally. Usually it didn't take a considerable amount of time for Sweeney's temperament to snap under pressure when he was being provoked. I'm surprised he'd lasted that long. "If you don't proceed in doing whatever the hell it was you were do-...!"
"Oh, 'ush, I wos just 'avin a bit 'o fun," Mrs. Lovett was not affected in the least by his behavior. She was too used to it. "I'm just restin' me 'ands for a lil' while. Yer back ain't 'exactly easy on the 'ands."
Sweeney Todd let out an uncharacteristic, but very quiet whimper that even Mrs. Lovett couldn't hear. He was now aware of what backs should feel like, so his lower back felt exceptionally awful since the upper half had been relieved. He would go utterly mad if Mrs. Lovett didn't return to "her post" soon.
Just as he was about to take drastic measures by reaching for his straight razor on the floor, warm fingers brushed against his skin and immediately started delving into the aching muscles of his lower back, working out the sore, tight areas. Her palms pushed parts of his flesh this way and that as her spidery fingers delved into the little creases that were formed while her thumbs rubbed his sides tirelessly with strong circular movements.
"Bloody Jesus, Mr. T," Mrs. Lovett rolled her eyes, arduously working out the tenseness in his muscles. "Di'nt know you were that des'prate for a lil' rubdown." Mrs. Lovett eyed the knife on the floor and cocked her head in its direction. "You were gonna threaten me wit' that, weren't ya, love?"
"Mmm..." was all Sweeney could conjure up.
Mrs. Lovett slyly stopped the "massage session". "Tell me the truth, love. Were ya gonna use that thing ta threaten me cos I wasn't rubbin' you?"
Sweeney whined a little in his throat, wishing fervently that she hadn't stopped.
"Wot' was that?" Mrs. Lovett knew she was holding the reins right then. She had the power. She was the cowboy and he was the humble steed. Ah...having complete control was splendidly marvelous. "I di'nt 'ear you."
"I..." Sweeney's throat felt incredibly dry. "It...cr-crossed my mind."
"Ahem," Mrs. Lovett cleared her throat. "An' wot do you 'ave to say 'bout that?"
Sweeney looked at her, thoroughly bemused. "What do you mean?"
Mrs. Lovett muttered something that sounded like "men", before giving him a mock-stern gaze. "Well, you shan't 'ave another lil' massage unless you say you're sorry."
"I'm sorry," Sweeney grumbled. "Could you keep going now? My back ails me..."
"Give me a good, honest apology, then I'll be 'appy," Mrs. Lovett crossed her arms.
"'Ow 'bout I 'elp you a bit?" Mrs. Lovett stood up straighter. "Think 'bout 'ow you'd feel if ya did send me to 'ell."
Sweeney pondered for a while. Would he actually care if anything happened to Mrs. Lovett? At his hands or anyone else's? It was a difficult matter for him, for his feelings for Mrs. Lovett weren't straightforward like they were with others. He knew he loved his dear, departed Lucy with all his heart, he knew he loved his little Johanna, he knew he loathed Judge Turpin and the Beadle, and though he was grateful for Anthony Hope, he knew that he wouldn't exactly care too much if anything happened to him. As for the rest of the world, Sweeney saw them as little tools that were mostly dull and worthless, but some had their temporary uses before they could be disposed of.
But for some reason, Mrs. Lovett was a different matter. Yes, she was a rather brilliant, competent woman who knew how to run a successful business. She also kept his secrets with tightly sealed lips and understood what he had to do. Hardly any preaching or chiding.
On the other hand, she did chatter quite a lot and had an annoying fondness for children. She also clandestinely enjoyed larks and sly pranks. Her teasing nature sometimes drove Sweeney mad. And she was also a tad clingy.
But, once he got down to it, he guessed that he would care a bit if Mrs. Lovett died. He wasn't sure of how much, but he knew that he'd at least feel somewhat remorseful if he killed her and somewhat sorrowful if she died any other way.
"Well?" Mrs. Lovett huffed, looking a little impatient.
"Mrs. Lovett," Sweeney gazed up at her with his slightly forlorn eyes. "I'm...very sorry."
"Really now?" Mrs. Lovett cocked her head to the side.
"Yes." Sweeney winced a little as his back throbbed with a twinge. "I would be...quite remorseful if I pulled a blade on you, my pet."
Mrs. Lovett beamed and her normally chalky-white cheeks flushed a light shade of pink. "Well then..."
"You'll proceed then?" Sweeney sounded restlessly expectant.
"Course I will, love," Mrs. Lovett gave him a swift kiss on the cheek before reverting back to manipulating her fellow business partner's aching lower back.
"Mrs. Lovett," he moaned throatily. The sound of his voice saying her name in such a way sent tremors of delight down every capillary in her body and made her stomach virtually flip.
"Need it 'arder, love?" Mrs. Lovett asked breathlessly.
"Please," Sweeney requested, again in his guttural, growling tone. To Mrs. Lovett, his gravelly voice was exceedingly erotic, making her want to swoon onto the couch. Was he purposely speaking in that seductive voice? Or was that really the way he normally sounded? No. It was usually quite velvety with a rough edge. Only slightly throaty...never this husky.
Mrs. Lovett rubbed in circles on his pale, solid back as robustly as she could possibly manage. Oh, her hands were surely going to ache nastily after awhile.
Why did he have to keep talking like that? It was too...well...in modern terms...downright sexy. Too sexy for Mrs. Lovett to handle...or refuse. It seemed that if he only used that voice, he could pretty much get anything he wanted from Mrs. Lovett. If he told her to chop her head off in his "sexy growl", she'd probably do it. Well, maybe not, but you get my drift, no?
So, Mrs. Lovett spent about the next ten minutes expeditiously pressing, rubbing, and squeezing out all the stress and soreness from his muscular, pearly white back.
Finally, after it felt as if her fingers were going to fall off, Sweeney sat up straight, stretching out his back,
"Ah," he sighed contently and began to lean backwards until his head was resting on Mrs. Lovett's chest.
"Wh-When wos' the last time you got a wink o' sleep, Mr. T?" Mrs. Lovett tried to mask her surprise and delight at having him so close to her.
"No need to fret, my love," Sweeney yawned almost innocently. I said almost, readers. This is Sweeney Todd we're talking about here and if you know even a little bit about him, you can figure easily (unless you're a little challenged) that he's nowhere near innocent. "I sleep...occasionally."
"Oh, Mr. T!" Mrs. Lovett had an almost scolding pitch in her voice. "You better be gettin' your sleep or I'll 'it you with a spoon."
"A spoon?" Sweeney chortled a bit, leaning back further and situating his head in Mrs. Lovett's lap. "I am dying of dread, my pet."
"Oh, 'ush up," Mrs. Lovett gave him a very light, gentle smack on his forehead.
"T'would be simply agonizing, my love." Sweeney rolled his eyes before his eyelids steadily concealed them. He yawned again, almost snuggling against her knees. "I...'aven't slept in awhile..."
"See?" Mrs. Lovett tentatively began stroking his tousled, jet black hair. She was afraid he wouldn't allow it, but he kept still for her, he even seemed slightly relaxed by it, so she continued. "You can wait to 'ack up that Judge can't ya, love?"
"Yes," Sweeney hissed, smiling to himself a bit. "It'll be beautiful."
"It will be." Mrs. Lovett said airily as she looked down at Sweeney's relaxed, handsomely gloomy face. "Beautiful..."