A/N: I won't lie. This is my first Sweeney fic and I'm a bit nervous about its reception. That being said, I didn't write this story because I was displeased with the end of the film (my introduction to the fandom); conversely, I rather like the ending. However, I couldn't stop toying with the notion of what might have happened had Mrs. Lovett and Mr. Todd been denied the mercy of death and been forced to carry on; what follows is but one interpretation of such a turn of events. The pairing is a sad, one-sided Sweenet, more of a suggestion or façade than a true pairing; it is not fluff. The action picks up directly after Sweeney realizes he has killed Lucy. Please enjoy.


APATHY

1. Flee

Lucy…

He was a fool for forgetting how the perfectly auspicious could turn remarkably deplorable in seconds; a perfect dolt for forgetting how easily one you trust can suddenly turn to be your worst enemy. Sweeney knelt over the still-warm body of his wife—a body already hurt and crippled when long before he'd encountered it, but one he'd single-handedly broken in the end. How had he failed to notice that beneath the filthiness, the hair was that perfect yellow; that beneath the grime, her skin was the rosy pale he'd once known so well—how had he failed to notice that beneath the convincing exterior of a crazed hag, his Lucy had dwelled, just waiting for him to notice?

He'd disappointed her. He'd failed her—worse, he'd betrayed her. He'd—

His stream of consciousness was broken by Mrs. Lovett's incessant, somewhat frenzied explanation of her inexcusable act. Sweeney rose sharply from the ground, a new yet familiar notion flowing through his veins and displacing his sorrow: the need for revenge.

Her eyes shined in the light of the fire from the bake-oven. An irrepressible fear was reflected in them, so near to the surface, so tangible. He nearly smiled with gratification. She was fearful? Excellent. She deserved nothing more. He advanced.

"Everything I did, I swear, I thought it was only for the best!" she pleaded with him, retreating as he drew nearer and nearer to her. "Please believe me!" He half-believed she would begin to sob at this juncture. He smirked in disgust at the very notion.

"Ah, Mrs. Lovett," he said with a false civility that nearly surprised even him. "There's nothing to fear. As you've told me repeatedly, the past is in the past." She stopped backing away, lulled by the faux calm of his tone. "What's dead is dead," he added with a certain finality.

"Oh, Mr. T," she said, breathless, almost disbelievingly. "Do you mean it?"

"Oh, yes," he whispered, drawing her into his arms, backing her slowly—slowly, so as not to alarm her—toward the contained inferno of the bake-oven. "Life is for the alive, my dear." He locked-in, savoring the moment: the complete trust and joy on her face, the warmth of the flames, so near now, the smell of the Judge's blood that permeated the bake-house, and then—

An urgent, discourteous knock on the door. A booming, "Police. Open up!"

He stopped backing her up, startled by the abrupt noise, the harshness of their tones. He wondered if it was true, so fogged was his reality, anymore. But Mrs. Lovett stiffened in his arms and paled, her eyes flicking to the bolted door, then back to Sweeney.

"We have to get out of here," she whispered urgently, fearfully. Without pausing for his approval or giving a moment's hesitation, she squirmed from his grip, grabbed his blood-soaked hand, and dragged him through the manhole, replacing the cover once they'd both slithered through the portal.

In silence, he trailed along behind her, yanking his hand away when she reached for it, urging him to go faster. He was delirious, confused. What had happened to the plan? Now, his revenge on everyone who'd ever done him harm was meant to be obtained. Now, he'd imagined he'd be calm, satiated, perhaps calmly sipping a tumbler of gin or helping Mrs. Lovett dispose of the bodies. But instead, he ran for his life in the grimy sewers of London, being led by the woman who had perhaps wronged him in the worst way possible.

Why did she still live? Why was she still cognizant as he suffered the pain and anguish of her lies? A new notion crossed his mind. He could so easily grab her neck and choke the life from her now; he could drown her sorry head in the murky sewer water—neither were really his style, but in the bigger picture, justice would be served. How remarkably easy it would be to extinguish her—

She turned to him suddenly, eyes wide, chest heaving. "Mr. T, what shall we do?" Her voice was so small, so lost, so helpless, he was immediately disarmed. Was this the Mrs. Lovett, he wondered, who was always so strong? Was this the fierce, practical woman who had made it her duty to take care of him, who had, on several occasions, steered him adroitly from meeting disaster? She was asking for his help, yearning for his guidance? Sweeney slumped.

Something in the pitifulness of her, the yearning for protection and guidance in her wide brown eyes extinguished every molecule of bloodlust in him. He could not hate this woman. She was lonely, frightened, lost, perhaps even beautiful, in a way—so like his Lucy…

"Mr. T?"

But she was not Lucy.

"Mr. T?" A note of panic had entered her tone. Her life seemed to depend on his response.

"Carry on a bit longer," he replied hollowly, in clipped words. "Pop out into the street. Apprehend a carriage. Ride it to the coast."

"To the coast?" The sudden hope in her eyes devastated him.

"Yeah. Might as well find some place by the sea."