Title: On the Streets
By: St. Minority
Characters/Pairings: Sweeney/Ichabod, Ichabod/Turpin
Disclaimer: I don't own Sleepy Hollow or Sweeney Todd. I make no profit. All belong to their respected creators.
Warnings: m/m, rape, violence
Summary: Sweeney and Ichabod meet under unfortunate circumstances.
A/N: gets way too fluffy at the end, I think, but I like it :)
The streets were dimly lit below, showing shadowed figures huddled on the corners, near buildings, and simply walking by. All the regular misfortunate people as Sweeney saw it. He glowered at them through the small, square window that looked out towards the front of the shop, absentmindedly fiddling with his silver friend to keep his hand occupied.
Another empty night. No costumers, nothing out of the ordinary.
That is, until his eye caught a possible scuffle happening. Such events were just something to be entertained by because they were usually nothing completely radical. From what he could tell, this one involved a young man dressed in mainly black with dark hair, and an older gentleman whose attire appeared much more expensive. There was fear evident in the former man's expression and an air of desperation and nervousness about him. It heightened when his briefcase was knocked out of his hands to the ground, scattering papers on the damp street, by the other male. Todd's brow furrowed in mild concern as, what he assumed to be a lawman, knelt down to pick the documents up only to be hurriedly grabbed by the arm and hurled against the stone wall just inside the alley's archway. It was very clear now that this unfortunate man was terrified despite his best attempts at looking subdued. Words were exchanged between the two before the older of them glanced about the area, and Todd observed, appalled, as the innocent-looking officer was strongly held against the wall by one hand while another unbuttoned his pants and tore them down to his ankles. The street lamp's light dully illuminated the scene, making the tears on the lawman's face shine ever so slightly. He shook his head, voicing his wish without words, while a piece of fabric was shoved into his mouth.
Wasting no time, the older man had his victim whirled around to face the wall, undid his trousers, and toyed with some small bottle from his pocket. Not a minute later, Sweeney ceased to breathe for a moment from the obvious sight of the man penetrating the younger male's body. It was confirmed by the dark haired male's head falling back as he screamed, eyes shut tight, and the intense thrusting motion of the man's hips behind him, propelling his hard member in and out of the slim body.
A spark of sympathy, something that had been foreign to him for quite some time, and anger erupted inside of Todd as he watched silently from the safety of his shop. He thought of rushing to the young man's aid, but then, the light finally caught the other male's countenance.
The revelation made him take a step back and exhale a shaky breath. That alone made his decision; he could not go help the judge's victim in fear of getting on Turpin's bad side once again or bringing attention to himself. It was simply out of the question. There was no way he could.
After a minute or so, he took a deep breath and returned to peer out the window. The assault was still taking place, causing him to feel a strange affection for the lower-ranked officer. The man appeared so chaste, innocent, like a nervous child that it made it even more offensive.
He was tired and defeated, Sweeney could tell, and seemed to keep himself relatively silent as he was defiled.
At last, the judge reached his satisfaction and pulled away from the exhausted being. He gave a nod to the side as he buttoned his trousers, and Sweeney's lip curled into a snarl as Beadle Bamford came forward, cane in hand. The first strike was to the young man's head, making him collapse to the ground. It was followed by another blow to his sore, round backside, then one to his knees. He curled up as he was continuously beaten powerfully with the cane; most strikes were focused on the center of his back.
Finally, with one last kick to the officer's stomach, Bamford swiftly strode away into the darkness of the alley. The victim merely lay motionless and forgotten.
Without a second thought, Sweeney was making his way down the stairs from his shop and toward the fallen person.
The sound of footsteps made the young man cower in fear without even seeing who was coming to him. A few small whimpers escaped his constricted throat as well as choked sobs.
"Are you alright?" Todd asked with little emotion in his voice as he knelt down. He felt it best to sound ignorant about the situation instead of revealing that he had witnessed the whole ordeal.
The man nodded, and the barber helped him to sit up. Remembering he was bare from the waist down, he hurriedly made use of his shirt's length to cover himself to just above his knees. His hands hastily wiped his cheeks to erase the traces of tears, making Todd's expression soften somewhat.
The lawman shrugged before shaking his head and trying to force a smile onto his countenance. "Nothing, nothing. I'm alright. I'm fine." He grasped the top of his trousers, which were still at his ankles, and started to pull them up his legs. Sweeney glanced away, allowing him a bit of privacy. "My papers…." he said, disheartened, after buttoning his pants around his waist. Carefully, he made to crawl toward his briefcase that lay wide open on the edge of the street, but was stopped before he could make a move.
"Don't worry. I'll get them. Rest."
Sweeney got to his feet and began wandering around to collect the papers that had fallen out of the officer's hands. They were strewed and carried off in every direction, causing the retrieval to take a couple of minutes. When he returned to the alley, briefcase in one hand and papers in the other, he knelt in front of the young man once more. As he placed the documents inside the case, he caught sight of an elegant signature at the bottom of numerous ones.
"Ichabod Crane, is it?" he inquired with a quirked eyebrow.
"Yes, that's me, sadly," he voiced with a little laugh. "Would you be so kind to tell me
"Thank you, Mr. Todd. You're very kind."
The barber permitted a tiny smile before speaking once again. "Do you live near Fleet Street?"
"No, not particularly."
"You're welcome to stay in my shop tonight instead of walking in the dark." Why was he saying this? Why was he freely offering his living space to a stranger? What was he thinking? He did not understand it, but it seemed natural to do so; it was as if he had made some unspoken connection with this….Ichabod Crane. This was someone he had a good feeling would not bring him harm.
"I appreciate the offer, very much, yet you've already extended your generosity toward me, to which I'm grateful. I couldn't ask such a thing."
"It's an offer, and I think you'd be wise to take it. You're in no state to be out alone so late considering what just happened to you."
"You wouldn't mind, then?"
"No. Come on; let's get you up."
Sweeney stood and then aided a struggling Crane to his feet. A cry of pain came from Ichabod, causing Sweeney to wrap an arm around the male's slim waist. Ichabod clung to him, suddenly feeling extremely weak and painfully sore. With briefcase in one hand and his other holding on to his new companion, Todd began walking slowly, wary of the wounded gasps that Crane emitted. He did not know why, but hearing and seeing Ichabod hurt made the barber's heart beat faster in anger. How dare that horrid, despicable judge violate something so genuinely pure. It was not the first time, however, and Todd vowed that it would be the judge's last.
They at last reached the top of the stairs, and Todd lead his company into the shop. Shutting the door behind them, he took Ichabod to his rickety bed and eased him onto it.
"Crane, where did the person who attacked you hurt you?"
"It doesn't matter. It's nothing severe."
"May I see and give you a second opinion?"
There was a flicker of hesitation and extreme apprehension in Ichabod's eyes, but Sweeney's rich, dark ones stared at him with such intensity that he knew he should simply obey without objection. Leisurely, he shrugged off his coat, soon followed by his shirt. He sighed heavily and gazed at the floor, disliking the feeling of being utterly vulnerable again.
Todd strode closer to peer around at Crane's back, not flinching at the red, vibrant stripes and large bruises on the pale skin. Without a word, he crossed to the other side of the room, wetted a cloth, and returned to the bedside.
"Lie down on your stomach," he instructed. The look of sheer terror prompted him to add tenderly, "I won't hurt you. You must trust me. I only wish to take care of you."
The sincerity in the low, mystifying tone of the barber's voice made Ichabod comply without further anxiety. He shifted farther onto the mattress, rested down on his front, and turned his head to lie sideways on the pillow in order to see his new environment. There was not much to this place; a lone cushioned chair, a vanity and mirror on the far side of the room along with a small stove to provide warmth and light, a trunk, another mirror – broken – and a little dresser near the bed. It was not homey by any means; the wallpaper was peeling and the wooden floorboards appeared as if they would give way at any moment. Despite this state of dilapidation, it was a safe haven for Ichabod at the moment and was perfectly fine in his eyes.
"Lie still and relax," the oddly soothing voice said.
The wet cloth was laid onto one of the lash marks from the cane, causing Crane to emit a feeble whimper. Todd dabbed lightly at the wound, soaking up the traces of blood, leaving nothing more than what looked like a vicious, painful, straight bolt of lightening surrounded by blue-violet bruises. The gentleness he used made Crane think that the original attack was nothing more than a horrible nightmare.
"What's your profession?" Crane asked tentatively, daring to start a light conversation as his injuries were cared for.
"I'm a barber. And you?"
"Your accent doesn't sound familiar. Are you from somewhere else?"
"America. New York, to be more precise. I was offered a post here and took it."
"Why leave the grand New World?" Sweeney inquired, speaking the location with a bit of disdain.
"You could say I'm running away from old ghosts."
Sweeney smirked, though kept quiet.
"Do you have a wife and children or do you live here alone?"
"Getting a bit personal, are we?"
Ichabod's face flushed crimson, and he uttered a soft, "I'm sorry."
For a long while, there was complete silence in the room. Ichabod stared blankly ahead, tears stinging at his eyes at times as Todd continued to wash his back. Fingertips ghosted over his raw skin, tracing the stripes, and Todd closed his eyes briefly as harsh memories flashed through his mind. The cane lashings were reminiscent of his own scars from floggings at the Australian prison. He swallowed hard to relieve his throat, opened his eyes, and blocked the images in his head. Lucky for Ichabod, someone was humane enough to take concern over him and tend to his injuries, whereas Todd was merely flung back into his cell and expected to heal without anyone's help.
"I live here alone," he said after a time, letting his guard down ever so slightly.
Crane smiled and gave a sigh, yet did not respond. He would wait until the barber seemed more comfortable to talk.
"You seem quite young to be a Constable."
"Is that a compliment?"
"Simply an observation." There was a pause before he stated, "There. Finished. Feel any better?"
"Yes, a little. Thank you."
"Get some sleep and let your body rest. I imagine you'll be incredibly sore tomorrow."
Sweeney traveled to the vanity to put the cloth on and then took a seat in the barber chair. Crane bit his lower lip nervously, not particularly wanting to say what he knew he should. After a number of seconds, he worked up the courage.
"I can sleep on the floor, if you'd like. I've already imposed on you; I don't want to take your bed from you."
"I'll be fine here."
"I can move over so you can lay here too."
Todd looked like he was trying to smile as he replied, "You're free to have the bed to yourself, Crane. You'll benefit more from it than I will tonight."
"Well, um….Thank you. Again. But um….I'm afraid I won't be falling asleep anytime soon, so…."
"Is it because of what Judge Turpin did to you tonight?"
Crane's mouth fell open in surprise as shame flooded through him. He found he had lost his voice to answer, only being able to make an embarrassed squeak.
"I saw what happened, from my window. I swear to you that I will not hurt you or take advantage of you, and I'll protect you if anything should happen while you sleep."
The dark eyes of the Constable's became glassy as clear droplets started to leak from them. "It was my fault," he whispered helplessly.
The words and the extreme sorrow present in the younger man's eyes suddenly made Todd think of Lucy and how she must have felt after the judge had her. Quickly, he walked to the bed and knelt down in front of Ichabod's face.
"No," he said equally as quiet as Ichabod had. "No, it wasn't your fault." He brushed the feathery hair back to reveal more of the male's beautiful visage, making Crane tremble from the touch. "Do not think that. The judge is a corrupt, vile man, Ichabod. It wasn't your fault."
"I contradicted him in the courtroom. It was wrong, sentencing a poor child to hang for stealing a loaf of bread that would probably be his only meal for days. I had to speak out. I….I did not know the consequences of my words."
The short recount was enough to make Sweeney rethink his view on law enforcement. Perhaps there were more like Ichabod Crane, who truly cared about others and finding right from wrong – someone who truly did serve to protect the public honestly and fairly.
"You were a good man to do so," Sweeney voiced caringly. "I do not know of any man that has had the courage to challenge Turpin's authority."
"And look at what it got me."
Despite everything he had been feeling since he arrived in London, Sweeney abruptly discovered that there was still a smidgen of compassion among the burning hatred inside of him. He stroked Ichabod's hair affectionately, watching as the young man cried himself to sleep. It tore at his heart, which was something that had not happened in a long time. This man was vastly different from all the others he had ever had the displeasure of being in contact with. Ichabod was special, and Todd had the overwhelming urge to hold onto the fragile man; he would not let Crane go so easily. A frightening realization settled on him then: he needed Crane now. Now that he had been put under the wonderful, innocent enchantment Ichabod had about him.
"You will not have to worry about the judge much longer, Ichabod," he whispered to deaf ears. "He was already doomed from what he did to my wife. I will avenge her, and now, you. Such pureness she and you possessed was never his to take. It's time to make him endure the consequences for harming and wronging you both."
A month later, the act was finally carried out, and Ichabod could not have cared less about bringing the murderer to justice. He knew who had done it anyway. It was committed by someone he loved, someone who deserved to see swift judgment to Turpin's transgressions.
"Are you happier now? Complete?" Ichabod asked Sweeney as they lay in the barber's bed, nestled against one another.
"More so than I was. Some hurts can never fully heal, though."
With a passionate kiss and accepting the promise that there would be no more substantial crimes, Ichabod gladly gave in to the barber's present demands.