Distraction

Sweeney had been standing in his shop for hours, in front of the huge window so he could see all that happened in Fleet Street – or rather, who walked there and might head towards the barber shop. It was night now, so his shop was closed, but there wasn't anything else he had to do, so he just kept standing there, staring outside.

Suddenly, an awkwardly familiar figure appeared from the darkness in a pool of light from a street lantern. It was the Beadle.

Sweeney clenched his hands in excitement when the person outside walked towards the building where the two shops were. Sweeney smiled devilishly; the man was so vain that he would come to ask for a shave, even if it was late in the evening and all the shops were closed.

But when the man came closer, Sweeney could see that Bamford had already had a shave.

The barber hissed in disappointment, but when the Beadle continued walking in the direction of the building with the two shops, Sweeney felt another strong emotion: fear. The Beadle certainly wasn't coming for fun here tonight, and if he found out what exactly was going on in the barber shop and the basement beneath it...

Sweeney watched him closely once more, while his mind was desperately trying to find a way to prevent that man from going into the pie shop, where he might find out that all those people that were missing (or what was left of them) could be found in the basement of the building.

Of course, Mrs. Lovett would try to stop him, but the Beadle couldn't be stopped if he really wanted to investigate the building. And if the baker got hurt, she wasn't of any use anymore.

The Beadle stopped abruptly to talk to someone, just before he'd be out of Sweeney's view.

The barber's mind raced, and a plan started to develop. It was not the best solution in the world, and it wasn't something he would usually approve of, not at all, but this

were desperate times, and desperate measures were called for after all.

Quickly he left his room and hurried downstairs to find Mrs. Lovett.

"Mr. Todd!" the Beadle said, loudly enough for everyone to hear. "You're the one I'm looking for."

Sweeney pretended not to hear him and almost ran into Mrs. Lovett's pie shop.

The Beadle hurried behind him, leaving the person he had been talking to behind in bewilderment, and entered the shop only seconds after Sweeney had.

"Mr. Todd!" he said in his arrogant voice. "I'm here to investigate some complaints from an old friend of Judge Turpin. He claims that his son disappeared after he visited your…"

But Sweeney didn't listen, he knew what the Beadle would say anyway; he had expected this to come sooner or later. He only had hoped that he would persuade the Beadle to take place in the barber chair, but Bamford wasn't stupid enough to buy that now that he just had a shave.

Mrs. Lovett wasn't in the shop, in which it was dark except from the light from some oil lamps, and Sweeney inwardly begged her to come to the room, for he needed her for his plan to get rid of the Beadle temporarily. A look on the clock told him it was 8.55 pm; he could only hope she wasn't doing her work in the bake house.

As if she had felt his despair, Mrs. Lovett arrived in the shop from her living room to check who or what had caused the bell of the door to jingle only seconds later.

"Mr. T!" she said, clearly surprised to see him there; so surprised in fact, that she didn't even see the Beadle who was standing in the darkness behind him. "What are you doing here?"

Before Bamford could say one more word, Sweeny closed the distance between himself and Mrs. Lovett, and dragged her towards a table in the barber shop, the one that almost blocked the small door between the shop and her living room. She didn't struggle when he did so and Sweeney was grateful for that, otherwise the Beadle would understand what was going on immediately. Sweeney could only hope that Mrs. Lovett would cooperate so well during the rest of the act he had in mind, otherwise this all would be a very embarrassing situation.

He dumped Mrs. Lovett on the surface of the table unceremoniously and let himself fall on top of her. From the corner of his eyes he saw that the Beadle stood there speechless. But the barber didn't want him to be speechless; he wanted him to go away.

"Don't say a word and pretend we do this every day," he hissed in her ear before he, without hesitation, crashed his lips onto hers.

She didn't react, which didn't really surprise him: the situation was rather unforeseen and bizarre after all, but she had to act like this was normal. Because then, with a little luck, they could embarrass the Beadle just enough to prevent him from going through the door that lead to Mrs. Lovett's living room and to the bakehouse, where surely a lot of corpses were lying on the floor. And with a little bit more luck, the Beadle would even leave to quickly start the gossip about the 'passionate affair' that was going on between Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett.

However, at the moment it wasn't passionate at all, which annoyed Sweeney. He realized Mrs. Lovett was very shocked, but she had to understand the situation. He wasn't doing this for his own fun either after all.

Sweeney opened his eyes briefly to see that Mrs. Lovett looked at him in total disbelief. He had no time to give the explanation she certainly needed, but he had to get some sort of reaction out of her: the wilder, the better.

The woman's cheeks were flushed; at least that's something, he thought when he looked at her, but it wasn't enough. His eyes scanned her body quickly, thus noticing her heaving chest.

It was taking too long, and there was only one last way to make the plan work.

Before the Beadle could interrupt, Sweeney moved his hands to touch Mrs. Lovett's breast.

She screamed when he did so, and it was not exactly what he was going for; he didn't want the Beadle to think that he was actually raping the baker.

Sweeney muted her shrill shrieks by kissing her again. And this time, she did respond. She kissed him back with much more passion than he had expected, but it was supposed to be convincing after all, so he kept kissing her too, pinning her tiny body on the table.

Sweeney tried to see from the corner of his eye how the Beadle was reacting and if he wasn't trying to sneak past them anyway, but Mrs. Lovett was kissing him with so much vigor that it was impossible for him to check.

She clung to the barber as if the Beadle would personally bake her into a pie if she didn't do so, and the small woman managed to hold him so tightly and pressed herself so closely against him at the same time, that the two of them fell from the table onto the ground.

They didn't feel any pain, maybe because their hands were in each other's hair to pull the other closer and thus protected their heads at the same time, or maybe because they were so caught up in the moment that they wouldn't be able to feel pain anyway.

She was on top of him now, touching him frantically, and Sweeney kept kissing her. Part of him was wondering where the Beadle was and part of him wished that this moment would never end. Mrs. Lovett had a very strange influence on him, but he didn't want to think about it yet, since he found himself completely lost in her arms. Touching and kissing her turned out to be an extremely pleasant thing to do, and he justified his actions by telling himself that he didn't love her and all this was an act to prevent the Beadle from investigating the building.

When they let go to catch their breath, Sweeney finally found the power to tear his gaze away from Mrs. Lovett to check the shop. Except for them, it was completely empty, and Sweeney looked at the clock in shock. It was 9.15; it had been twenty minutes ago that Sweeney had entered the pie shop.

"How long… how long has he been gone?" Sweeney said hoarsely.

"Who's gone?" she asked, still out of breath, and still holding him.

He looked at her, trying to find out whether she was fooling him or not. But there was not the slightest hint of dishonesty in her huge brown eyes, which sparkled when they looked at him.

"No one," he muttered, suddenly wondering why he had never really looked at her before. It was a mystery to him why she hadn't seen the Beadle, since that man had been standing only few yards away from Sweeney. And most of all he wondered why she had kissed him if she hadn't understood this was a way to distract the Beadle.

But Bamford was gone anyway. For a second Sweeney feared that the Beadle had managed to sneak past them, but only then he noticed they were actually between the doorstep and the table, so it was impossible that Beadle Bamford had entered the room behind them. He'd probably return the next day, early in the morning, to ask again about that friend of the Judge, whose son had disappeared in the shop. As long as the barber could persuade Bamford to have a free shave first, which shouldn't be hard, the problem would be solved, seeing the Beadle was probably just doing the investigation in secret, wanting to impress his master with an attempt of cleverness and some initiatives of his own.

Sweeney's plan had worked, and all thanks to Mrs. Lovett.

She was still lying on top of him, but he couldn't mind. When she brushed his lips against his again, he didn't pull back, nor did he do so when she kissed him tenderly.

When she let go again, staring in his eyes as if she could find out what he was thinking, he wrapped his arms around her back and pulled her against his chest. She sighed contently when he did so.

"And now tell me, Mr. T., to what do I owe this pleasure?"

To distract the Beadle, he wanted to say, but he could imagine it would hurt her if he'd say so – 'pleasure' was the word she had used to describe their encounter after all. And now that he thought about it, he had to admit he thought about it the same way – Mrs. Lovett certainly had a strange influence on him.

"I was just…" he didn't know what he should say, but he felt she didn't really need an explanation, only a confirmation that this was real.

Mrs. Lovett was an unpredictable woman, he mused while he stroked her back absentmindedly. But he didn't blame her. Her cooperation in his improvised plan meant a lot for him, just like he enjoyed the fact that she was still lying with him on the ground, sharing this sudden moment of kindness and comfort.

Somehow their mouths met again and he found himself lost in her kiss once more.

No, he didn't blame her. Not at all.