All endings are also beginnings, we just don't know it at the time.
The flu. That is his first thought when Eleanor spends the morning and the afternoon on the bathroom floor, throwing up into the toilet bowl. She feels better by the evening, and they pass it off as some sort of twenty-four hour bug until the next morning, when he is startled awake by her jumping from bed to run into the bathroom and empty the contents of her stomach. He takes her to the ER despite her protests, more worried than he lets on as they wait for someone to call the name 'Lovett' and see to them.
She is sitting on his lap, her weary head on his shoulder, when a nurse finally calls her back, and Sweeney waits for nearly an hour before she comes out again. He jumps to his feet when he sees the tears in her eyes, wondering what on earth could possibly be ailing an immortal.
"What is it?" He asks, grasping her arm tightly and pulling her to him. "What's wrong?"
She beams up at him through her tears. "Nothin'," she breathes. "There's nothin' wrong. I just 'ave to quit smokin' is all." She gives a troubled pause. "I'll 'ave quite a time of it after fifty years of blackenin' my lungs."
He raises his eyebrows. "Smoking? Smoking is making you sick?"
Eleanor laughs, sounding almost giddy. "No, but it'll make the baby sick if I don't stop. I'm pregnant, love."
His eyes widen, and he glances furtively around the full waiting room. Leaning closer so no one will overhear, he says softly, "Eleanor, my love, you can't get pregnant, remember?"
She shakes her head and takes him by the hand, pulling him outside to the parking lot. His head is swimming, and he's glad they're at a hospital just in case his quick, shallow breaths turn into a full-on panic attack. They stand on the sidewalk, and Eleanor looks up at him, barely able to suppress her excited smile. "I know I couldn't get pregnant before but ultrasounds don't lie." She pauses, looking hopeful. "Maybe it's over."
"What's over?" He manages to croak out, absently wondering how hard he will hit the cement when he finally passes out.
Eleanor smiles, her hand unconsciously moving to cover her abdomen. "Our punishment."
Blenders? She has six of them. Toasters? She has three. Wine glasses? Four sets.
It is two weeks before the wedding, and gifts are pouring in from all over the place, starting with Eleanor's colleagues and friends at the hospital, and ending with the acquaintances Sweeney has managed to make at NYU. Standing in the middle of the living room, surrounded by newly arrived packages, Eleanor looks at Carol in dismay. She is sitting on the floor, amidst the sea of gifts, lap covered in stamps and post-it notes.
"Well," Eleanor sighs. "Add four more thank you notes to the list."
Carol makes a face, pulling her pencil from behind her ear, ready to jot down names. "I didn't get this many gifts for my wedding. Do people like you more than me? I'm delightful, damn it!" She glares accusingly at Nellie. "It's that son of yours, isn't it? You bring in a few pictures to work, and suddenly you're the favorite."
Ignoring her, Nellie ticks off the newly arrived gifts using her fingers. "Towels from the Johnson's. Another blender from the Nelson's. A coffee machine from Cynthia. And a set of knives from Mr. Calvin."
Carol frowns. "Aren't knives as a wedding gift bad luck?"
Looking frazzled, Eleanor sinks down onto the sofa and runs a hand through her hair. She doesn't have much time to sit down anymore, not with a new infant to look after. At the moment, the baby is sleeping, and she takes this rare opportunity to breathe and enjoy the quiet. "You believe that silly superstition?"
"Oh totally," Carol nods. "It's bad karma."
Eleanor giggles. "That's ridiculous, love."
Carol gives her a look. "Oh yeah, that's crazy, but two people tying the knot after two hundred years of dancing around each other is just commonplace."
"Oh for 'eaven's sake," Eleanor sighs noisily. "Just send 'im a dollar in the thank you card. That'll make it a purchase and cancel out any bad karma. 'Appy?"
"Intensely." Grinning, Carol makes a note on another post-it. "What would you do without me?"
"Shrivel up and die," Eleanor responds instantly, stealing her friend's bag of sunflower seeds from the coffee table.
Two days before the wedding, at a sports bar a block away from the church where the vows will be said, Sweeney Todd sits with Tom, their eyes glued on the television set above their heads.
"C'mon," Tom mutters under his breath. "Pass him, pass him, pass hi - Oh come on!" He takes up his shot glass and looks at Sweeney. "Can you believe that guy? What an idiot!" Sweeney is staring at the television, but he isn't blinking and something about his blank stare tells Tom that he isn't even seeing the motorcycle race. "Hey, earth to the Todd-man!"
Sweeney's eyes dart from the television screen to Tom's face, looking stranded between startled and annoyed.
Tom laughs. "You're nervous, aren't you?"
Sweeney bristles, looking down at his shot glass, finger tracing the rim slowly. "No," he snaps, but his voice sounds unsure.
Gesturing to the other man's glass, Tom raises his own to his lips, and they down the tequila together, slamming their glasses onto the bar top at the same time. "C'mon, man. You've known Ellie for years. She's great, what is there to be nervous about?"
Sweeney doesn't answer for a few moments, but then he says through gritted teeth, "I don't like change." He grimaces, as if it had been truly painful to divulge such a thing to the man sitting next to him.
"Well you're already living together, you have a kid together," Tom nods to the bartender, and he pours them another round. "It'll be exactly the same except you'll have a ring on your finger, and she'll start signing her name Dr. Todd." He laughs, and they down their shots again together.
Wincing as the alcohol burns his throat, Sweeney's lips curl into a wistful smile, thinking of Eleanor and the small sums of pleasure she'll get from signing her checks and prescriptions as Dr. Todd. It is one change he doesn't think he'll mind making.
"Malcolm, come to mummy."
Sweeney Todd can only watch as his wife holds out her hands to their son, on her knees in the middle of the living room floor. Malcolm merely stares at her, his little mouth working silently as he tries to form words he can barely speak. The woman is intent on the little boy making the journey from his father's lap to her arms, a whole five feet away.
"Come to mummy, darlin'," she coos, and Malcolm opens his mouth to giggle at her.
He looks up at Sweeney, as if for guidance, and Sweeney sets his son on the floor, keeping a gentle grip on the collar of his t-shirt in case he should fall. Slowly, he puts one chubby leg in front of the other, and Eleanor's eyes light up in delight as he precariously takes two steps toward her, swaying dangerously. Sweeney and the basset hound at his feet watch with rapt attention as the baby stumbles, only to be caught up in his mother's waiting arms.
"There's my smart lit'le man," she laughs, pressing multiple playful kisses to his soft ivory cheeks. "Almost did it that time, 'e did."
Picking up his newspaper from the coffee table, Sweeney sits back and flips it open. "He'll do it when he's ready. Don't push him, woman."
Eleanor sighs. "I know, I know. But I just can't wait to 'ear the patter of his 'lit'le feet!" She smooths Malcolm's dark brown curls, plants one last kiss on his cheek, and settles him on Sweeney's lap again before disappearing from the room, Louie following at her heels. "I'll start on dinner, keep an eye on 'im!"
His view of the Sports section obstructed by the head of his child, Sweeney frowns deeply. Malcolm turns in his arms, reaching out one chubby hand with a toothless grin. Knowing what is coming, Sweeney tries to pick him up in time to prevent it, but the baby is too fast and grabs a hold of a handful of Sweeney's hair and yanks with a force that is surprising for such a small being.
Swearing vehemently, despite his wife's constant protests that their son will pick up on his language, Sweeney takes Malcolm's wrist and tugs gently. Malcolm doesn't release his grip. "Eleanor! He's doing it again!"
He hears a muffled snort from the kitchen and scowls. Eleanor bustles into the living room, looking as if she is stifling laughter, and bends down to take Malcolm. "Let go, love." She takes the baby's fist and slowly begins undoing the boy's grip, finger by finger. "Malcolm, let go of daddy's 'air. S'not nice!" Finally prying him away, Eleanor sighs tiredly, settling him on her hip as Sweeney stands up to snatch away the fistful of hair Malcolm has gotten away with.
He stops abruptly in the middle of trying to pry several loose strands of hair from Malcolm's clenched fist, looking dazed. Eleanor frowns, gazing up at him. "What's the matter, dearie? You don't look so good."
He stares at Malcolm's fist, mouth slightly agape. "There's...there's a gray..." He swallows and shakes his head, unable to finish.
Eleanor smiles fondly and leans up to press a soft kiss to his lips. "My baby's first gray 'air. I should start keepin' a book."
"Pretty, but it 'as a bad history."
Carol sighs in exasperation. "It has a bad history? Are you kidding me, Ellie?"
Eleanor dips her spoon into her carton of ice cream. "Jade used to mean 'prostitute' in the nineteenth century, y'know."
"Seriously?" Carol brings her book of baby names closer to her face, squinting at it. "Wow. There's something those baby name websites don't tell you."
Nodding, Eleanor licks her spoon clean of chocolate ice cream and digs out another spoonful, offering it to Malcolm, who sits between them on the porch swing. He opens his mouth wide, and Eleanor laughs, sliding the spoon between his lips. Smoothing a hand over her round belly, she sighs. "I don't want some complicated name. Just somethin' simple and pretty. Somethin' classic."
Carol tilts her head to the side in thought, tapping her index finger against her chin. "Simple and classic...what about Lucy?"
Eleanor nearly chokes on her ice cream. She'd forgotten that while Carol knows their history, she doesn't know specific names. "Over my dead body."
"Wow," Carol raises her eyebrows. "Hostile, much?" She tosses the book to the ground, letting it hit the wooden porch before turning to Malcolm and gathering him up into her arms. "I give up. Your mommy is impossible." She grins at him, hugging the two year old to her chest and ruffling his dark curls.
Shoving another spoonful of ice cream into her mouth, Eleanor watches Tom and Sweeney carry a heavy looking sofa across the lawn and up the porch steps, grunting the whole way. "I'm eight months pregnant, love. I'm allowed to be impossible." Malcolm squirms from Carol's lap to totter after his father, calling out 'daddy' as he wanders into the house after him. She looks to Carol. "Where're Charlie and Damian today?"
"With my mother," Carol smiles, stretching out languidly. "It's been so peaceful without the twin terrors."
She snorts at this. "Should 'ave brought them, might've kept Malcolm occupied. 'E's bloody bored out of 'is mind." From inside the house, she hears a childish squeal, followed by giggling and the words, 'Daddy, put me down!'
Seconds later, Sweeney emerges from inside, carrying a grinning Malcolm on his shoulders. Eleanor holds out her arms to the little boy as her husband draws nearer. "C'mere, darlin'."
When Malcolm is close enough, Carol takes him from Sweeney and settles him in her lap again; Eleanor's lap is practically nonexistent at the moment, her protruding belly taking up most of the space. "I can't believe you're leaving the city," Carol whines, watching as Tom and Sweeney pull a plush leather chair from the moving van. "Who am I going to bother when I'm bored? I can't drive all the way out here!"
Nellie laughs. "Love, we're twenty minutes away if you take the subway. And I'll still be at the hospital every day."
"It's not the same," the blonde pouts. "You used to be five minutes away if I took a cab. Ten if I ran."
Rolling her eyes, Eleanor looks at Malcolm, playing with Carol's blonde hair idly. He looks just like his father, the same dark eyes and dark hair, only with her curls. His cheeks are rosy and his big brown eyes are bright. Her entire life revolves around this little boy now. "We needed to get out of the city," she explains for the millionth time. "Don't want to raise children in Manhattan and this place is perfect."
The house is everything she'd ever wanted in a home. It's an respectable neighborhood, swimming with other children for Malcolm to play with. It's an old house, large, with a wrap around porch that creaks charmingly. There is a little garden in the backyard, and she is hoping she'll be able to putter around back there, plant tomatoes, a few exotic flowers. Lavender is growing wild on the side of the house, and if she opens their bedroom window on the second floor, the scent of it will come wafting up to greet them as they lie in bed on warm summer nights. It is the kind of place that Eleanor has always wanted to raise children, and she couldn't be happier with their purchase.
Carol makes a face. "But isn't this weird for you? A family? Settling in permanently somewhere?"
Eleanor shrugs. "A little, but in a good way."
"But what about all the traveling? The never aging?" Carol asks, her voice hushed. "Don't you miss being immortal?"
"Nope." Eleanor smiles at Malcolm when he looks up at her with a boyish grin. "Not at all."
Central Park Zoo. Sweeney Todd can think of a million other places he'd rather be, but he supposes he should just be grateful it isn't Disneyland. Holding five year old Malcolm by the hand as the little boy drags him excitedly towards the lion exhibit, Sweeney glares at his wife for her 'brilliant' idea, but she only grins at him from behind her oversized sunglasses and continues pushing Lily's stroller merrily.
"Look daddy!" Malcolm jumps up and down, pointing through the glass at the enormous lion lounging very close to them. It yawns and almost seems to stretch as it looks out at them lazily, obviously in no mood to stalk about and entertain them. Malcolm frowns, suddenly looking even more like his father. "He doesn't act like a lion."
Sweeney places a hand on his son's shoulder, joining him in looking in on the lion. It has begun licking its paws in a leisurely manner, ignoring them now. "No, he doesn't."
Malcolm squints up at him through a mop of curly hair. "Is he sick?"
"He's just tired," Sweeney reassures him. "Maybe he's old. Old and tired, and sick of the zoo. I can relate."
"Don't be cheeky," his wife says from behind him, and the sound of her voice makes him jump. "I don't like it when you're cheeky, doesn't suit you at all." Eleanor has finally caught up with them, and the stroller comes to a stop next to Sweeney. Lily is becoming fussy in her restraints, and Eleanor leans down to pull her out of the stroller, but stops suddenly, wincing and bringing a hand to her back. Sweeney frowns, moving to step closer to her. She smiles at him reassuringly. "Back's not what it used to be, love. Comes with gettin' old, I s'ppose."
He places his hand on the small of her back as she leans briefly into him, sighing. "I'll give you a backrub when we get home if we can get the hell out of here now," he says, willing to negotiate.
She laughs into his chest. "Malcolm 'as been lookin' forward to seein' the lions all week, we can't leave."
"He's looking at them right now," Sweeney reasons quietly.
Lily is practically wailing now, and Eleanor moves from Sweeney to pick up the redheaded baby, cooing softly to her. Settling the fussy child on her hip, she turns to look at Sweeney. "Make it ten more minutes and a backrub, and you've got yourself a deal."
Sweeney smirks triumphantly. "We have an accord, Mrs. Todd."
There are children everywhere. More specifically, there are little girls everywhere. It is Lily's seventh birthday party, and similarly aged girls are running around the house in puffy princess dresses and tiaras, giggling and asking Sweeney for piggy-back rides. He has directed each and every one of them to Tom and his Pin The Tail On The Donkey game in the living room.
Louie seems to be enjoying all the company, barking and jumping and following the children inside and out, tail wagging enthusiastically. Sweeney cannot say he particularly enjoys his home being invaded by gaggles of little girls and their baby dolls, and it is safe to say the only children he likes are his own. Forty-seven is far too old to be doing this. Actually, more like two hundred seventy-three, if he is going to be technical about it.
He has been put in charge of the pinata, thanks to his wife, who is hiding out in the kitchen with Carol under the pretense of getting the food ready. He is sure she is sitting at the kitchen counter, giggling to herself at his misfortune. In the backyard, standing tall in the midst of swarms of seven year olds in brightly colored princess gowns, Sweeney Todd holds out the stick to his daughter and takes two giant steps back, fearing for his safety.
Lily grins up at him, her cheeks flushed just like her mother's tend to do in excitement, her fair red mane falling down her back and her tiara askew on top of her head. She grips the stick in her hand, pulls the blindfold over her eyes, and with the help of several of her little friends, spins around three times. Swaying just slightly in her bare feet, the petite little girl bites her lip, rears back, and swings with all her might.
She smacks the pinata right in the head, and it lops off, falling to the ground and causing hundreds of candies to rain down upon her. The other girls jump up and down, cheering, and Lily smiles in a self satisfied sort of way, pulling the blindfold from her eyes to survey her work. Sweeney is oddly proud of her.
Hours later, after the party is over, Malcolm is in bed with his handheld video game when he really should be sleeping, and Lily has fallen asleep on the sofa on top of a pile of candy she is hoarding for herself. On the porch swing, Mr. and Mrs. Todd are sharing a bottle of wine.
Leaning her head on Sweeney's shoulder, fingers curled around her wine glass, Eleanor sighs wearily. "They're growin' up on us. Gettin' far too old for my likin'."
Sweeney's lips brush against the top of her head and she closes her eyes. "So are we, my love."
She snorts gently at this. "S'what we wanted, isn't it?"
"I'm beginning to think this growing old business is vastly overrated," he comments idly, his fingers burying themselves in wild red hair.
Eleanor smiles, leaning up to brush her lips against his. "Change your mind, dearie?" She isn't sure, but she thinks she hears him mutter 'never' into her neck.
The mutt has died.
Just when he thought he couldn't loathe the dog enough, it goes and dies on them. Louie had lived for fifteen years, three years longer than the average lifespan of a Basset Hound, and an unusually long time considering Eleanor's indulgence in his love for leftovers. It had still come as a shock to them all. Eleanor has been positively inconsolable for days, and no amount of him promising to buy her a new puppy will change that. Three days after Louie had been buried in the backyard, she was still sniffling and he'd snapped in frustration that it was 'just a dog'. She had refused to speak to him for two days.
He knows now that it is something she will have to get over on her own, and in her own time, but he is having trouble leaving her be when her bottom lip quivers every time she passes the door frame in the hallway that the dog had chewed up.
The children had been upset for several days, considering that the dog has always been there with them throughout their childhood. Louie stoically endured Lily dressing him up and making him attend her tea parties in the backyard, and the dog had always followed Malcolm around the neighborhood, chasing after the boy and his skateboard. But Sweeney's children are resilient, and they're slowly starting to recover, tentatively speaking of getting another dog. Lily had drawn her mother a Get Well card with a picture of the hound on the front. Eleanor had cried for an hour over it.
While Sweeney had never been close to the dog, he thinks part of him has gone into shock at the sudden lack of an adversary. He is reluctantly willing to admit that he misses the way the mutt would bite at his pant leg when he would come home from class, but he downright refuses to show his relief when Eleanor comes home from work three months later cradling a puppy in her arms, aptly named Louie II.
" 'Ow long 'ave you known and not said anythin'?"
"I've known for about twenty years, just never mentioned it," he shrugs. "I figured if you wanted me to know, you'd tell me."
Eleanor gapes at him, mouth opening and closing several times before she can speak. "Did Carol tell you? That little wench, she said she wouldn't - "
Tom laughs, peering into his coffee cup. "Technically, Carol didn't tell me. She tends to talk in her sleep, and then I just started paying closer attention to you and Sweeney. It started making sense after a while, and I put all the bizarre pieces together. I always thought you were a little strange, I just didn't know how much."
She glares at him, but stays silent, sipping from her own mug.
They'd been having a friendly afternoon chat on the front porch steps while everyone else had been busy with other things. Sweeney is helping Malcolm with his car in the garage, and Carol and Tom's daughter Ella is trying to coax Lily from her room after her latest breakup with boyfriend number two. The conversation has veered startlingly off-track since they'd broached the upcoming Halloween. Tom had asked if Sweeney would mind lending him one of his old suits for a costume party he had to attend, because the authenticity of Sweeney's nineteenth century apparel would surely win him the best costume prize.
Eyes drifting up into the large oak trees lining the street, Eleanor watches as the wind shifts and brittle leaves of brown and red drift lazily to the ground. " 'Ow did you come to suspect me, anyway?"
Tom snorts. "You're the only person I know who still refers to a mirror as a looking glass."
"Very funny" Nellie shoves him playfully. "Bloody smart ass."
Lily's first child is a boy, and when she announces that his name will be Tobias, or Toby for short, Eleanor's eyes fill up with tears. She and Sweeney never told their children about their past, but Lily has unknowingly given Nellie a precious reminder.
In the hospital room, as Lily sleeps, Eleanor sits alone with the child by her daughter's bedside. Lily's husband has gone home to change, Malcolm and his wife have gone home to their children, and Sweeney is in the cafeteria with Ella, both of them on a mission to find decent food.
Sitting cross-legged in rather uncomfortable chair, Eleanor holds the newly christened Toby to her chest, looking down at him admiringly. He has Lily's pale red hair, just as Lily had gotten it from her. Running one slender finger down the baby's tiny little nose, Eleanor smiles. His skin is so soft, just as she remembers her own babies' being, and a wave of nostalgia washes over her.
Someone clears their throat softly, and she looks up, startled, to find Sweeney and Ella standing in the doorway, sharing a box of Milk Duds. He still moves as silently as a cat. "Didn't find anythin' to eat, love?" She asks, turning her eyes back to the sleeping babe.
He shakes his head, stepping further into the room while Ella lingers in the doorway, searching her purse for mints or tic tacs, or anything else edible. "This bloody hospital is worthless. How can you work in these conditions?"
She smirks, reaching out her free hand to take his and draw him closer. "I work 'ere to save lives, not eat their food." Eleanor beckons him nearer, and he bends down to her level. "But I 'ave it on good authority that Carol's locker is stuffed with three bags of chips and a package of jello."
Sweeney looks intrigued. "Care to share the combination, pet?"
"6730. Don't tell 'er I told you, she'll 'ave my 'ead," Eleanor smiles as he leans down to press a grateful kiss to her lips before hurrying off with Ella in search of better food for their growling stomachs.
Eleanor once again directs her full attention back to the newest addition to her growing family, marveling over his perfection. Trailing her hand down Toby's chin and over his chest, which rises and falls with his every tiny breath, Eleanor gently touches her fingertips to his own silken ones. Gazing down at her new grandchild, she is overcome with a protectiveness she hasn't felt since Lily brought her last boyfriend home.
Holding the child closer to her, she sings very softly, "Nothing's gonna harm you, darlin', not while I'm around."
It is the lullaby she sang to Toby so very long ago, the same lullaby she has used to soothe both of her children well into their teenage years, but this is the first time she has used it for her grandchildren, and Eleanor has a feeling this one is going to be very spoiled.
Thirty-six years. It seems like such a very short amount of time to people who have been among the living for over three hundred years. Being married for thirty-six years hardly seems like a grand number worth celebrating, but they will anyway.
Reclining on Adirondack chairs in the middle of the expansive backyard, Sweeney and Eleanor stare up at the night sky, their joined hands resting between them. Technically, their anniversary isn't until tomorrow, but as Eleanor glances at her watch, she realizes there are only a couple of minutes until midnight anyway.
The stars are out in full form tonight, and Eleanor gazes up at them in wonder, knowing that no matter how long she lives, she will always be able to admire the vastness of the universe, and to ponder the meaning of her existence in it all. Sliding her gaze from the sky to her husband sitting next to her, Eleanor smiles softly. His eyes are closed, and from the way his breathing is evening out, he is very close to falling asleep. She squeezes his hand briefly, admiring his strong features in the light of the moon.
Time has done little to Sweeney Todd's countenance, though his hair is a little grayer. How very little they have aged doesn't scare her, because she can feel time slowly wearing them down. She feels older, whether she looks it or not. Time seems to be in no hurry to turn either of them into a wrinkled elderly couple, and Eleanor has to admit she is grateful for small mercies. Being seventy-three and not looking a day over forty-five has its advantages.
Time hasn't changed her feelings for the man sitting next to her, either. She still feels the same way about him as she did the day she first laid eyes on him, when he still went by the name Benjamin Barker. In fact, she is sure that she loves him much more than she did then, when she was a lovesick fool, head over heels for his gentle smile.
She is also fairly sure that he still loves her, if the way he kisses her is any indication. He doesn't say 'I love you' every day, like most couples are wont to do, because he feels it cheapens the sentiment. But he says it when it really matters, and to her, that is what counts. When Sweeney does say the words, he whispers them over and over in her ear, like a mantra, as though they bear repeating, as though he is making up for all the times he hasn't said them.
Yes, Eleanor is fairly confident that Sweeney Todd still loves her as much as the day he shouted it at her in the middle of an argument thirty-five years ago. She smiles at the thought and glances at her watch again. Midnight.
Turning to Sweeney, she sees that he has fallen asleep in his chair, and her grin widens. " 'appy anniversary, love."
Thanksgiving Day at the Todd's is chaotic, to say the least. In the kitchen, Eleanor, her daughter, her daughter-in-law, and Carol, along with any grandchildren old enough and willing to help, cook the turkey, mash the potatoes, drizzle the chocolate and cut up the vegetables. It is at times like this that Eleanor truly misses the old tradition she had started with Sweeney of Chinese food and tequila.
In the living room, Sweeney, Tom, their sons and sons-in-law are lounging over furniture and their grandsons are sprawled across the floor, all of them staring intently at the television, watching the football game on the screen.
Upstairs, Nellie hears the thump of footsteps telling her that her granddaughters are playing with her clothes in hers and Sweeney's bedroom again, and she smiles softly to herself, pausing in the middle of stirring the gravy to listen intently, hoping to catch a word or two of their childish games. All she hears is a girlish shriek, followed by a fit of giggles, and more thuds as they run from the bedroom, down the hall, and up the attic stairs.
Lily sighs dramatically, dipping a finger into the whipped cream bowl. "I'm sorry mum, I told them to stay away from your closet."
Eleanor grins, looking at her daughter over her shoulder. "And I told 'em to go up there and use what they like. Leave the poor dears alone, Lily. Not many teenage girls even want to go through their grandmother's clothes!"
Smirking, Lily crosses the kitchen to stand at her mother's side. "Well most grandmothers aren't like you." She puts her arm across Nellie's shoulders and presses a kiss to her temple. When the two of them stand next to each other, the resemblance is uncanny. "I just pray I've inherited your fantastic aging genes."
Laughing to herself, Eleanor turns, catching Carol's eye as she pats her daughter's cheek gently. "Let's 'ope not, love."
When his wife pulls into the driveway with a little convertible in place of her Mercedes, his jaw drops and he steps out onto the porch to meet her in the middle of the front yard. She grins at him as she hops out of the car, a colorful silk scarf wrapped around her head and face framed with big black sunglasses.
"What do ya think?" She asks, gesturing to the bright yellow Corvette. "It's a vintage 2005."
Sweeney raises an eyebrow. "I can see that." He reaches her side and they stand looking at it for several minutes. It's beautiful car, in impeccable condition and Eleanor had obviously driven it home with the top down. Louie V is in the backseat, drooling on the leather interior. "Where's the Mercedes?"
Sliding her sunglasses from her face, Eleanor turns to look at him. "Carol's drivin' it back, but she stopped to pick up Toby first."
"And why is Toby coming here?" Sweeney asks, brow drawn together in his confusion. Eleanor laughs, apparently finding his cluelessness endearing. She leans up to kiss him before taking his hand and pulling him toward the car. "You bought this?"
"What, are you having some sort of end-of-life crisis?" He asks snarkily, and she sticks her tongue out at him. Hardly mature for an eighty-seven year old woman, but it doesn't seem to matter to the redhead. Not that either of them look anywhere close to eighty-seven, which is what makes their neighbors whisper about them over garden fences and clustered around mailboxes at the end of driveways.
"S'not for me," she insists, waving him away with a slender hand. "It's for Toby's eighteenth birthday. Lily and Ian refuse to get 'im a car, and 'e needs one, so I took it upon myself to buy 'im one of those vintage Corvettes 'e's always talkin' about." She smiles brilliantly, obviously proud of herself.
"You'll spoil him," Sweeney insists grumpily, but his heart isn't in it. He has been telling her since the day Toby was born that she spoils him too much, but she never listens, and after eighteen years, he has given up.
"Pish-tosh. Don't be silly," she rolls her eyes, before flashing him a mischievous grin. "Wanna take it for a spin before Carol gets 'ere with Toby?"
The yellow Corvette, a 2005 vintage if Eleanor is to be believed, shines beautifully under the sun, and its leather interior seems to be beckoning Sweeney closer. He peers inside, takes in the pristine interior, ignores the basset hound lying down in the backseat and eyes the steering wheel warily. "I'm driving."
With a winning smile and a flourish, Eleanor tosses him the keys.
Central Park is surprisingly unchanged. The trees still tower over everything else, shading everything in the summer and showering the ground with leaves in the fall, and if one were to wander deep enough into the park, it could almost be forgotten that it is situated in the middle of a bustling city that never sleeps.
Eleanor stands on Bow Bridge, which appears just the way it did all those years ago, when she fled here after an argument with Sweeney Todd. She can't remember exactly what the argument had been about, but she remembers that he had been worried enough to come after her. She leans into him now, smiling as his arm immediately wraps around her waist and he pulls her into him.
"I should write a memoir," she says suddenly, staring into the water below them.
He chuckles into her hair. "Pet, no one would believe your memoir. You'd have to categorize it as fiction so as not to scare the hell out of anyone."
Laughing into his shirt, Eleanor tilts her face up to his. "What a bloody great shame. All those stories, and no one to share 'em with."
"Oh, I'm no one now, I am?" He asks, sounding playfully wounded.
She rolls her eyes. "You don't count, you were there for 'alf of 'em."
"Well excuse me for always being around," he snips as a cool wind whips at her hair and she burrows herself further against him.
"Such a baby, you are," she complains, but she sounds distracted, leaning slightly over the railing and peering into the water.
Realizing what she is doing, it is Sweeney's turn to roll his eyes. Tugging her away from her reflection, he takes her chin in his hand and brings her lips up to his for a gentle kiss. "Eleanor, you're ninety-three years old, and people mistake you and your fifty-three year old daughter for sisters. You've no reason to fret."
She frowns, leaning up to kiss him again. "Since when do you know me so well?"
Smirking as his forehead touches hers, Sweeney shrugs. "I've had close to four hundred years to figure you out, Eleanor."
She squints at him. "But I'm still a lit'le mysterious, right?"
His laugh is genuine as his lips brush hers again. "Of course, my love."
The cemetery is a veritable ocean of green on this bright summer day. Most people have better things to do on a day like this than walk into a graveyard with a bouquet of flowers, but she isn't most people. She walks straight to one particular gravestone, which is fairly new, the granite still shiny and the earth beneath it still soft.
The old woman kneels on the ground and reaches out with an aged, trembling hand to trace the letters carved into the marble. Pulling her handkerchief from her sleeve, Carol sniffles, hating the way she still tears up at the thought of her best friend, even a year after the death of Eleanor and her husband. They'd died together in their sleep, which Carol had thought to be terribly Notebook-esque of them, but who is she to judge?
It had been fitting anyway, and she has a feeling some otherworldly power had planned it that way all along. Perhaps they had spent too long in each others company to survive any other way. At any rate, they are both gone, and Carol is lacking in someone to bicker with. Her husband has had to put up with most of her antics, now that Eleanor is no longer around to deal with them. She thinks Tom secretly resents the redhead for leaving him alone with her.
Carol kisses her fingertips and presses them to the granite before standing and brushing off her pants. "See you soon, my dears," she whispers.
At eighty-seven, it is hardly a lie. She finds it a miracle that she is still able to drive herself, but her doctor says all these years of eating sunflower seeds have kept her eyes sharp. She has never mentioned to him that she never remembers eating the sunflower seeds, only wakes up with the taste of them in her mouth and finds handfuls of them in her pockets. She has learned not to question this aspect of her life, and accept it for whatever it is.
Deciding it is time to go back to the car and home to her family, Carol takes one last look at the grave, setting her bouquet of daisies on the ground beside it. Reading the epitaph again, a wan smile graces her lips. Beneath the name 'Todd', etched for eternity in stone, are the words, 'It's About Bloody Time'.
To die will be an awfully big adventure
-Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
A/N-I'm so mad that some of you guessed how I was going to have them find out they're mortal again! You ruined the surprise.LOL It's over! Can you believe it? It was a whole summer in the making, and I enjoyed writing it immensely. I just want to thank you all for reading this story, because I know it was pretty different, and I appreciate you all giving it a chance. Thank you to all of my reviewers, your comments meant the world to me and I looked forward to all of those encouraging words in my inbox whenever I posted. Oh, the quote in the beginning is from The Five People You Meet In Heaven. And the 2005 Corvette? So awesome. Go look it up. To all of my anonymous reviewers who review this chapter, please leave your email address so I can reply to you! Much love to you all, and keep a lookout for any new Sweeney stories I may post:D Kisses!
Felicia Loves Passing Strange - Aw, I'm sorry love, I didn't mean to make you cry! But I'm secretly glad I did;) Yes, I turned a potentially threatening line into something fluffy, doncha just lovett? I definitely remembered everything you mentioned, and I managed to find a spot for them to accommodate your demands.LOL Yeah, you're the only one who mentioned the line I borrowed from The Mummy Returns. I put in a few movie lines and or a something from a book occasionally, sometimes people notice and sometimes they don't:D
Zara - Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the story, I appreciate your wonderful feedback:D
Ms Jess - I'm glad you think they're in character, it's pretty difficult to do when they're centuries old.Haha Thanks so much for the review!
Thyme - I thought about ending it with the last chapter, but the epilogue idea just wouldn't leave me alone, so I had to write it:) Also, I love that you caught the whole fireside thing, it was just a little throwback to the old times, I didn't expect anyone to notice it, so kudos.Haha Thanks for the review!
Waynhim Dukkha - I know! I was torn too. Part of me wanted them to live forever and be young and make out all the time.LOL But alas, we all must grow up. Yeah, Kurtis got his butt kicked. I'm sure his expression was priceless.Haha I love writing Todd with his class, so we'll see about the sidestory. I guess it just depends on my muse:D Thanks so much for reviewing!