A/N: This story is somewhat of a shot in the dark. I'm not entirely sure where it's going to go (though I've got a loose framework of an idea) or what really compelled me to write it in the first place. I think it was because I felt I had a rather original concept to bring to the Sweeney Todd fanfiction front, or at the very least one that isn't explored very often. I sort of feel that most of the Sweenett and Sweeney Todd stories I read fall into the same formulas(there are exceptions, however, and I have commended their delivery. If you haven't heard such a response from me, I probably haven't gotten to your story yet ;) ) and I guess I wanted to take it upon myself to add something unique. I also think that the Sweeney Todd characters are somewhat of a challenge in themselves, just to preserve their characters in fan fictions and anticipate their responses. Often, this judgement is blurred for the sake of taking the story quickly in the anticipated direction. I wanted to accept the challenge of keeping Sweeney unforgiving, Mrs. Lovett sarcastic, and, I suppose, Judge Turpin horny. Anyway, we'll see how it works out. That is, assuming I have enough time/will power to finish the story.
Sweeney Todd found he was experiencing a pinnacle within the frustration and impatience that was originally caused by a lack of vindictive killings. More recently, however, it had been catalyzed by the Judge's strange behavior a few days following the failed attempt at murder. The barber was certain that he would never see the man again, all thanks to bloody Anthony, who couldn't have possibly waited another half hour before barging in and completely foiling his one chance to achieve his life's purpose.
Nevertheless, the Judge himself made another appearance a couple of days afterward, strolling leisurely, yet intently in front of the building that housed the businesses of Todd and his pie-baking accomplice.
The initial sighting nearly made Sweeney's heart explode, making him too excited to question the oddity that was this unlikely phenomenon. It made no difference to him why the Judge had come back, or whether or not he had decided to overlook Sweeney's affiliation with the heinous sailor and continue business with him. As long as he was here, in the chair, bare-necked beneath the gleaming razor. But much to the chagrin of the barber, Judge Turpin did not make the trek up the stairs to the shop. After inspecting the windows of Mrs. Lovett's crowded pie shop, he continued on his way home, not giving the upstairs even slight acknowledgement.
This act alone sent Sweeney into a silent rage that spanned over an evening and morning, during which he lashed out frequently and unprovoked at both Mrs. Lovett and Toby, refusing to divulge the cause. Both of the recipients of his wrath were not entirely surprised at this behavior, but Mrs. Lovett did think that screaming at some one for spilling a bit of tea on his table when bringing up his breakfast was a bit excessive, even for Mr. Todd. Such an act would normally have elicited an apathetic response, if one at all.
The sulking was interrupted when Judge Turpin appeared once more that evening, presumably on his way home from the court. The barber once more became hopeful, hurrying to clean up the mess from his last customer that had failed to satiate his hunger for the Judge's blood. Once again, the Judge peered curiously into Mrs. Lovett's windows for a few minutes, appearing as though he was searching for something- or someone- between the intricate patterns of the stained lace curtains. Upon completion, he reluctantly continued on his way home.
A vicious cycle had begun that continued for another week of the Judge coming, Sweeney overreacting, the Judge leaving without a shave, and Sweeney pouting violently until the next day at five thirty. After a while, however, Sweeney calmed down long enough to begin to wonder about the Judge's purpose. This didn't assist with his growing frustration, as he couldn't for the life of himself figure out a logical reason for the Judge's visitations, on top of the fact that his intended's presence was a disconcerting tease.
He had been tempted to go out there and approach the Judge himself. He didn't know what he would say or do, that would have to be improvised. It seemed so unfair, so extremely unjust, that the Judge was waiting right outside, nearly in the palm of Sweeney's hand at the same time every day, yet was so unobtainable. It was enough to drive him mad, had he not already achieved that state long ago.
"Don't you do it, Mr. T," Mrs. Lovett had warned one evening when she brought up his dinner, intuitively knowing his intents from her close knowledge of him. "You go out there and we're both done for."
"I don't intend to kill him in broad daylight," he scoffed in response, wiping a cloth mindlessly up and down the blade of his beloved while never tearing his gaze from the window.
"No, cours' not," she reassured, brushing her skirts as she stood from setting down the tray of food. "I give you more credit than that, Mr. T. All I meant was that someone would catch on, is all. What, with unusual behavior like approaching a customer outside."
The barber, as he typically did, pretended to ignore her. He couldn't give her the satisfaction of his acknowledgment of her being right, even though he knew full-well she was, and usually was in most situations. Though his sole purpose was to kill the Judge and what happened afterwards was of little consequence to him, he couldn't afford to fail in any attempts to redeem himself, especially in front of such a large crowd of witnesses. Such a gesture would spark suspicions, which would lead to an investigation, which would lead to a discovery of the real work being done by Mr. Todd and his landlady, which would ultimately land them in the gallows before he was given his moment of salvation.
"Why don't you get ya' self away from that window and come have some supper?" Mrs. Lovett offered, pulling him gently by the arm. He resisted, planting his feet firmly in his current position.
"Why don't you go downstairs and mind your customers?" He warned abrasively, still neglecting to tear his gaze away from the Judge.
She bit her lip, hurt from his curtness, but was determined not to say anything that would ignite his unpredictable rage.
"You're tearin' yourself up watchin' him like that," she mentioned softly, making her way to stand beside him at the window. "We'll find a way to 'im, love. But it will have to be more inconspicuous than this."
Sweeney turned from the window and began slowly pacing in front of his bureau, attention fixated on cleaning his already immaculate razor.
"And I suppose you've never noticed him there," he began hoarsely. "Gazing through your windows as if it was a bloody museum…"
Mrs. Lovett hesitated to answer. She had noticed him, alright. She had noticed how he surveyed her as she passed from table to table, with an expression not to dissimilar from the one he gave Lucy 15 years ago. The only difference was he did not carry flowers, knowing all too well that he wouldn't need them to get an unrefined tart like her, what with her chest practically spilling out of the top of her dress. Additionally, Mrs. Lovett was not so oblivious to the Judge's intents as Lucy had been. Perhaps it was because this situation was not foreign to her, as she had experienced several men, on separate occasions, who were hot for a little more than pie stalking around her shop, expecting her to give it up willy-nilly. She had stopped being offended by it, but rarely obliged these unconventional suitors, unless she had a thirst to slake herself. After all, it had been some time since Albert's death, and even in life the intimacy was not grade A. But she was a little more than reluctant to spend time with Judge, which caused her to pause before answering her barber. She wasn't sure if he'd encourage her to entice him in order to bring him back to the shop, but she wasn't keen on taking chances.
"Well, a' cours' I 'ave," she responded nonchalantly, toying with a handkerchief. "Didn't think much of it, though. I 'ave been too busy with the customers."
"What does he want?" Sweeney queried rhetorically, or rather, rhetorically to Mrs. Lovett as he neither expected nor desired an answer from her. He came back to the window as he spoke, both confirming the Judge's presence and attempting to emphasize to Mrs. Lovett how much he didn't need her there. Yet, obliviously, and to the aggravation of Sweeney, she remained, chewing slightly on the end of her handkerchief and mulling over her thoughts.
"Since you have nothing to add to this conversation, I suggest you continue to mind your customers," He suggested firmly, slightly shifting towards her.
"Well, Mr. T, it's difficult for another individual to add to a one-sided conversation, now isn' it?" she challenged, annoyed with his lack of faith in her knowledge. She knew the answers to his questions, and even though she was reluctant to divulge the true reasons for the Judge's presence, she didn't appreciate his instant assumption that she was clueless. Couldn't he have grilled her a little?
Offended by her unusual impertinence, Sweeney completely spun on his heel to face her, razor extended, threateningly. Though there was much about her and the relationship they shared that annoyed him greatly, the one thing he appreciated was her abiding respect for him and his dominant position in the partnership. They both lived tit-for-tat; he provided the product that had made her business soar. Without him, she was a lonely pie maker, forced to succumb to kidnapping cats, scraping carcasses off the street, and soliciting herself to make enough of a profit to pay off the building dues. She owed him the satisfaction by being submissive to his will. He needed it, and the only way to preserve it was to intimidate every time she resisted.
"Don't make me repeat myself, Mrs. Lovett." he warned firmly, waiting for her breath to shorten and eyes to widen in response. Instead, her lips morphed into a sneer of disgust and her eyes made a 360 degree revolution in her sockets.
"You want to know what the bloody Judge is doin' there?" she sighed, glancing casually at her worn, dirt-rimmed nails. She figured she might as well tell him. Perhaps then he would learn to invest more faith in her intuition.
His response was in his quizzical, exasperated expression.
"He was window shopping. He has now found the sort of trinket he's lookin' for and is wondering how he'll charm his way to afford it." she explained casually, leaning against her clenched fist.
"What in the hell are you talking about?"
Sweeney lowered his weapon, intrigued by Mrs. Lovett's statement. He attempted to maintain his intimidating aura, however, not wanting her to believe she had gotten the best of him.
"Scoff if you will, Mr. T," she began, mindlessly pacing and inspecting the dust-thickness of the arm rest of the infamous chair. She then glanced knowingly at him before saying, "but he's been looking at me."
Surprisingly enough to her, Sweeney did not make a mockery of her claim. Instead, his eyes began searching the ground desperately as he commenced pacing once more, his arms hovering uselessly beside him.
"Of course," he replied. He knew it made perfect sense and was rather frustrated that he hadn't of figured it out on his own.
"Whaddya mean, of course?" Mrs. Lovett enquired, wondering what such a response implied.
"What other sort of motivation could he have?"
"An' I suppose my good looks and womanly charms have nuthin' to do with it, eh?" Mrs. Lovett ventured sarcastically, attempting to lighten the mood but also to coerce Sweeney into complementing her.
"A woman should expect such attention when parading around in those ridiculously revealing dresses of yours," he responded coldly, resuming his detail cleaning on the razor.
Brainless twit, he thought to himself. Revealing dresses doesn't even begin to encompass the reasons a man like Judge Turpin would pursue her, and she should know it. Sweeney Todd might have been a highly preoccupied man, having little concern towards Mrs. Lovett in general. But he was not so dense, he assured himself, to not notice the openly obliging and often-flaunted sexuality of Mrs. Lovett. He also was not blind, and therefore had not failed to see her sickeningly ample chest that often threatened to release itself from the not-so-restricting confines of her corset. That was not to mention her rather curvaceous and wanton form that her aforementioned dresses did little to disguise. These were not attributes of hers that the barber went out of his way to observe, and often reminded himself how disgusting her whorish behavior and appearance was. Though he was sometimes conflicted on what he found more repulsive; Mrs. Lovett's sexual prowess or the betraying, invigorated response of his lower body part whenever he saw her in the compromising position of cleaning the kitchen tiles, on all fours, backside protruding, breasts swaying pendulously back and forth with her strokes. It was moments like these that he had to forgive himself for being a slave to his own body and assume that such a response did not reflect a more inward, repressed, and deep emotion.
"So what should I do then?" Mrs. Lovett asked gravely, breaking him from his current train of thought.
He winced at her voice, wishing she would find it in herself to be silent, for once. Though perhaps such a thought process was better left unresolved, he decided.
"Perhaps you should leave me and mind your customers, as I've asked you to do repeatedly."
"No, no," she corrected, waving her arms in irritation, seemingly unaffected by his deliberate abrasiveness. "I mean about Turpin. Would you like for me to oblige his wishes? I mean, just to get 'im back 'ere…"
He hadn't expected her to bring up the possibility so quickly. Though she often acted the part of a dense, calamitous tart, Mrs. Lovett was actually quite clever, when she wanted to be. The pies were her idea after all. Even though this plan was more of a mutual concoction, she was smart enough to be willing to entice the Judge. So smart and so obliging in fact, that Sweeney was willing to overlook her previous lie of being oblivious to the Judge's intents.
"Yes," he agreed firmly and quietly. "Do whatever it takes."