Even Christmas on Fleet Street fell in shades of gray. Dim lights were the only source of color among the desolate and damp hues, however, even they fell against the gray and faded into a soft glow. Not even a blanket of ashen snow could add life to the hopeless streets, if there actually was any snow at all. Another unheard prayer from the few children who still bothered to pray. With all of the morbid deaths among the city, all mysterious and devastating, there seemed to be no reason to pray, no reason to hope for a joyous Christmas. The eerie aura hung around the city like a cloud of bad intentions. Regardless, some still hoped to enjoy the holiday and the cheer it brought to the heart.
Despite the dreary feeling down the lane, Mrs. Lovett hummed a jolly tune, twirling carefully about her shop. Oh, this was going to be a wonderful Christmas, she thought with a smile. Their shops were both doing wonderfully, business was booming! Mr. T was so diligent in his work and Toby was a bloody wonder when it came to assisting her with her pie shop. He was always so ready and willing to help and that just made Mrs. Lovett burst with a much needed sense of contentment.
A crisp golden smell filled the air. Ah, pies were done. Tody did enjoy them, so what better of a Christmas feast this morning? Ever since their upgrade in choice meats, she couldn't keep up with the skyrocketing demand. But, there was special for Toby, so she hoped he enjoyed the 'company' of the tinkering toymaker down the lane. What a perfect Christmas feast for her favorite gentlemen! Though Mrs. Lovett had a feeling that Mr. Todd would pass upon her delicately made pies. Just a feeling she had.
Toby rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he emerged from the common room of Mrs. Lovett's humble home and shop. With a yawn, he smiled softly at the woman. "Good morning, Mum."
"Ah, Toby, good morning and a Merry Christmas. Take a seat, I've made us a wonderful Christmas meal." She seemed a bit more cheery then usual. It was the Christmas spirit, Toby guessed, but nonetheless, he did as she said and took a seat. The smell of her meat pies delighted his senses, pulled him into a world of comfort and joy. He hadn't really ever had a Christmas meal, nor did he really have a Christmas. When Senor Pirelli was his keeper, the only gift he ever got was a day without having to wear the ratty bleach blonde wig and a day without lashings. What a wonderful gift that was. But now he was going to be having a Christmas meal made by the hands of the angel the good Lord had sent to him. Christmas was wonderful again.
Carefully placing a fresh, hot meat pie upon a plate, Mrs. Lovett slid it in front of Toby with a small glass of gin, the boy's favorite. His eyes lit up at such a treat! He dug in without hesitation, taking a swig of the gin and a healthy bite of his pie. She smiled, watching the youth enjoy her labors, however wondering in the back of her mind where Mr. Todd was. He was normally up earlier then she was, staring out the window as he perfected the fine blades on his razors. He was methodical, Mr. T was. He never said much, but his eyes told stories, filled pages with his heartache, misery and longing for revenge. No matter how close Mrs. Lovett tried to get to the former Benjamin Barker, her efforts yielding nothing, just a bitter man with an even more bitter taste in his mouth. Speak of the devil...Mr. Todd soundlessly entered, throwing a dark glance towards the woman and youth.
Without hesitation, Mrs. Lovett greeted him, "Mornin', Mr. T and a Merry Christmas to you." She was answered with silence and a nod. "I've got some gin and a nice, hot pie with your name on it, if you'd like." The silent decline of the pie was what she expected, but his thin fingers reached forward, grasping the gin. That brought a smile to her face. "Eat and drink up, boys, because I've got you some gifts."
"Gifts?" Toby tilted his head, pie all over his mouth. "Christmas gifts?"
"Of course, lad." Mrs. Lovett replied with a grander smile. "It wouldn't be Christmas without a present, hm?" She noticed Mr. Todd glancing at her out of the corner of his dark eyes, "Don't worry, Mr. T. I've got something for you too."
An expressionless Mr. Todd only nodded.
The youth consumed his meal and Mr. Todd's pie with ease, rubbing his stomach and finishing off his gin. He had never felt so content in his life. Mrs. Lovett spoke as he ate, telling Toby stories of her dear Albert, how on Christmas, the poor man would gorge himself on the holidays, how he'd sit in his favorite chair and compliment her cooking skills. The stories entertained Toby but did nothing for Mr. Todd. He was off in his own world, as usual. He did take occasional sips of the gin but that was it, really. The barber was against this Christmas thing. He was able to spend but one with his darling Johanna and his beautiful wife. That's when he smiled, that's when he felt joy, however since his exile and his return to a life unlike his former, he had grown cold towards the idea of anything without Johanna and his thought deceased wife. Nothing was the same, so Christmas was just another bitter day in the life of Sweeney Todd.
Mrs. Lovett, on the other hand, was going to soak up as much as she could. She enjoyed the chance to make Mr. T and Toby happy. Swaying her hips, she spoke, "Alright, follow me and open your gifts." The boys followed her into the living area where upon the small mahogany table sat a few delicately wrapped little gifts. Was nothing fancy, not like in the storefronts but Mrs. Lovett was proud of it nonetheless. Sitting down upon her comfy couch, she crossed one leg over the other and pointed at a tall gift, about six inches high. "That one's yours, Toby."
He wasted little time. Still a child, after all, the thought of a gift specially for him caused his heart to flutter and soar. His fingers tore away the wrapping, revealing a fresh bottle of gin, his favorite. "Thank you, Mum!" There was more - a small bag of toffees, ones that Toby and Mrs. Lovett had enjoyed on late nights after the shop closed and Mr. Todd was still working. His eyes lit up, a sincere smile upon his lips, "Ah, Mum…this is amazing, really…thank you."
"No need to banter on, lad, I it's alright." She tilted her head with a soft smile. One man was happy, that was a start. She turned her sights to the still silent Mr. T. "That one is yours, Mr. T."
Skeletal fingers reached forwards and curiously took the wrapped item. It was a significant size, much larger in diameter then Toby's gin. Picking at it with disdain, the wrapping fell away and revealed a new jacket for Mr. Todd. She did recall the certain stains in the other, so a nice new one would do just fine for the barber. His eyes shifted, examining the garment without a real expression upon his brow.
"Well?" Mrs. Lovett urged, "What do ya think? Saw it and thought of you in an instant." She was quite proud of it, actually, and thought Mr. T would show some more pleasure from the gift then a quiet nod as he ran his fingers against the material. She couldn't expect anymore, she assumed, however her heart nearly exploded when he slipped it on. Oh, it fit like a dream, she thought. "Such a handsome man you are, Mr. T. Very dapper."
"But, Mum…you didn't get any presents." Toby muttered sadly, feeling rather greedy for eating his toffees. Lifting one up, he offered it to her, "For you, Mum. Merry Christmas!"
She took it from the boy, winking at him with a light heart, "Ah, thank you, Toby. Such a sweet boy you are, but I've gotten my gift and that's you and Mr. T. Without you two, I'd be left with the worst pies in London and hard times all by my lonesome." She rose, skirt swaying, "So, I've got my gift."
At that very moment, there came a knock upon the pie shop's front door. "Now how could that be? It's Christmas…" Mrs. Lovett muttered as she moved to the door, her heels clicking against the wooden floor. Mr. T and Toby followed to stand in the doorway.
A bearded man stood in the doorway with good tidings in his eyes and good will upon his lips, "Merry Christmas!" He spoke with a grand grin, "I've come to see if you've any change for the orphanage. I know it's Christmas, but they need a bit of good cheer too."
She couldn't resist. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a few shiny new pennies and dropped them into the tin can he offered to her. Oh, did his heart sing!
"Thank you, Mum! Many wonderful things for you this year!" Just as the man turned to leave, Mr. Todd stepped forward and spoke in an eerily melodic tone.
"How's about a shave, free of charge, sir? From me to you on this day?" Sweeney's lips curled into a grin.
"How very generous of you, sir! I believe I do have the time, if I may!"
"Of course you may, sir. It is Christmas after all."
Mrs. Lovett watched the scene unfold. He was going to do it on Christmas, wasn't he? This man collected for charity…and Mr. T was going to give him the closest shave he had ever received. Some would think this malice, unforgivable, to be working like this on such an occasion and Mrs. Lovett did feel a ping of remorse.
But business is business.
Sweeney trotted up the stairs and stood upon the balcony before the door to his shop, looking below at Mrs. Lovett and the nameless charity collector. With a grin, he looked at the woman, "Send him up."