A/N: Been awhile! Sorry for taking so long. I didn't really know where it was going to begin with, making it a little difficult to continue. Hopefully, it's not horrible or a disappointment!
For this fic, Mrs. Lovett does not know about their dirty little affair. At least, not completely. Which is why I don't think she'd feel particularly threatened by them and plus, they're men. Another woman in the picture would seem more threatening, to me. Anyway. That's my explanation
Big thank you to those who have reviewed! As well as those reading! :)
Dressed in a new pair of trousers, boots, and a shirt, Ichabod nervously made his way along the streets with Todd close to his side. He closed his coat tightly around himself and kept his head lowered. It was mid morning as they headed for the barber's shop, and the roads were already crowded with people bustling around.
"Doing alright?" Sweeney questioned quietly, glancing at the apprehensive young man clinging to his arm.
"Y-Yes. I'm fine."
"It's just a few more blocks, Ichabod."
They were two streets away when Crane seized up, squeezed the barber's arm so firmly that it made Sweeney wince, and let out a terrified whimper. He began shaking uncontrollably and ducked behind his lover.
"What's the matter with you?" Sweeney whispered over his shoulder.
"It's him," was the quivering response.
Before he had a chance to ask more, Todd was being pulled to the side to hide in the nearest alley. Ichabod pressed his back against the building's wall, breathing rapidly, while Todd merely stood in front of him, studying his whirlwind reactions.
"It's him, oh god, it's him," Crane rasped, tears forming in his eyes. "He's come looking for me. Don't let him find me. Please don't let him find me."
"I won't, I promise. Who is he?"
Not waiting for an answer, Sweeney peered around the corner of the building and looked from one face to another of the people wandering about. He squinted as he searched for anyone who appeared the part of someone who would abuse another person as gentle as Crane. There was nobody who seemed to fit the description until he at last settled his gaze on an older gentleman a few meters away at the nearest street corner. His heart raced and his anger flourished as he observed the man's behavior. The sight of the person's company made his fists clench at his sides, feeling as if he were about to explode.
Judge Turpin and Beadle Bamford.
"It's him, isn't it?" he inquired in a menacing tone and turned to stare at Ichabod's frightened countenance. "Judge Turpin."
With a slow nod, Ichabod was able to force out, "Yes. It's him. Don't let him see me. Please."
"I won't, I won't. Calm down. Take some deep breaths."
As the younger man took the advice, Todd gazed around the corner again and tensed from seeing the judge and beadle walking in their direction. Immediately, he stood against the wall next to Ichabod, hoping that neither Turpin nor Bamford would be casually looking around their surroundings and spot them. When they passed by a short time later, Crane emitted a small cry and buried his face against the barber's arm. Todd ceased to breathe for a moment, only exhaling the air once the two had definitely moved on and had not seen them.
Placing a chaste kiss on the top of his lover's head, Sweeney hugged him close as he wept miserably.
The rest of their traveling was done in silence, hand in hand, until they reached the safety of Todd's shop.
Ichabod sat atop the trunk near the door and silently observed Todd shaving a customer while making idle conversation. There was nothing, really, for him to do, and he was content with simply watching and staying out of the way.
At the moment, his attention was focused on his feet as he lightly kicked at the air. Occasionally, Sweeney glanced at him from the corner of his eye simply to assure himself Ichabod was not in any sort of harm's way.
After the customer had paid and left, Todd strode over to the younger man and sat next to him; Ichabod's eyes still remained downcast.
"How are you doing?" Todd asked quietly.
A shrug was the response.
"Why don't you go down and help Mrs. Lovett in the shop? She can make you up a nice meal in return, I'm sure."
Ichabod nodded, stood, and shuffled out the door with his head bowed like a scolded puppy. He descended the stairs slowly with Todd watching him piteously all the way from above. Once the American entered the pie shop, Sweeney returned inside, went to the chair in the middle of the room, and began sharpening his razor on the strop attached to the back of it. With Crane gone, he was now free to supply fresh meat for the famous pies.
The moment Ichabod stepped foot into the shop, Mrs. Lovett looked up from the dough she was kneading and smiled kindly. He hesitantly returned the gesture and walked closer to the counter.
"Hello, Mrs. Lovett," he said timidly, flinching whenever she beat the rolling pin against the lumpy blob in front of her.
"Hello, Ichabod, dear," she replied cheerily. "My, you look a bit of a fright. Are you alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine."
"What can I get ya? If you're lookin' for Mr. T., he's upstairs as far as I know."
"He was the one who sent me down here, actually. Said that I may be able to help you for the day?"
"That would be wonderful! Toby, bless his heart, is out runnin' around town for me, so I could certainly use your pair of hands. Here, love." She handed the rolling pin to Crane, dusted off her hands against one another, and instructed, "Just keep workin' on flattening this one out while I go take out a batch from the oven."
As she left, Ichabod silently began the task he was given, his stomach suddenly voicing its hunger from the sight and aroma of the dough and pies from below. He could not remember the last time he had had a decent meal or a good one at that. When she returned a few minutes later, he was ready to ask for at least one of the pastries, but he stopped himself upon seeing her carrying a plate with two pies on it.
"'ere you go," she announced and set the dish on the table. "Looks like you haven't eaten in days."
Ichabod smiled in gratitude, uttered a sincere "thank you," and took a seat at the booth. Consciously, he tried to make himself eat at a leisurely pace, but the smell and the hunger pains urged him to devour the food rather quickly. Mrs. Lovett observed him from her place behind the counter and commented knowingly, "Didn't I tell you? The best pies you'll ever find here in London."
Ichabod nodded, swallowing down a particularly large bite. "I can see why."
"You can 'ave as many as you'd like, dear. On the house. Any friend of Mr. Todd's is a friend of mine."
"Thank you; that's very kind."
It was not long before he was finished, having eaten whatever crumbs on the plate as well. He made his way to stand beside the woman, who plopped a wad of dough in front of him, and watched her to imitate whatever she did to her powdery dough.
Three hours passed, in which time Ichabod and Mrs. Lovett conversed easily and comfortably with one another as they continued the baking process to get ready for the dinner rush. Another hour went by before Todd entered the kitchen, slightly confused at not seeing Ichabod. There was only Mrs. Lovett.
"'ello, Mr. T. Have a productive day?" she inquired with a sly grin.
"Not bad. Where's Ichabod?"
"In there," she stated, glancing in the direction of the living room. "Poor thing seemed so exhausted. I told him he could go lie down for a bit. Probably asleep."
Sweeney strode towards the woman's living quarters and came around to stand in front of the sofa. Sure enough, Crane was curled up on his side, sleeping peacefully. There were no signs of nightmares plaguing him as there had been the night before. With a small, affectionate smile, Sweeney brushed his fingers through the younger man's hair and bent down to place a soft kiss on Crane's forehead.
The bustling commotion of the dinner rush did not rouse Crane whatsoever. It was not until afterward when Todd shook him gently and called his name that he woke. The two men traveled up to the barber's shop and settled on the old bed. Neither uttered a word as they lay next to one another, holding the other's hand lovingly. It was tempting for Todd to bring up Crane's ordeal once more, but he refrained from doing so due to witnessing the wearied, wretched brown eyes gazing at him. This was not the time.
The barber had expected Frederick to come by, yet when Big Ben rang out eleven chimes, he knew it was no longer likely. With this notion, he allowed himself to close his eyes, waiting to drift off as Ichabod had done.
It was a half hour before he went to sleep with his dreaming lover held snugly against him.
The sun had just begun its attempt to peek through the dreary clouds of the city when Fred crept up the stairs to the barber's shop. He quietly tried to open the door, though winced when the bell dinged unusually loudly. The space was empty, prompting him to steal towards the bedroom, and he smiled from seeing his two lovers resting beside one another. His entrance had not stirred them at all, making him hesitant to wake at least Todd. He decided against it and retreated into the main area to sink down into the barber's chair.
Exhaling a deep breath, Sweeney rolled onto his back and opened his eyes. If there was any good that had come from his years in prison, it was the sharpening of all of his senses. And intuition. Carefully, he got up from the bed, grabbed his razor from the small table nearby, and demonstrated tremendous stealth as he crept towards the doorway.
There was no sound coming from inside the shop.
Slowly, he peered around the frame and relaxed upon spotting Frederick staring in his direction. He emerged from the bedroom, though stayed close to it. For a period, the two men gazed at each other, motionless and silent. It was Fred who spoke first.
"How is he?" he questioned gently.
"Not worse, at least. And you?"
Sweeney nodded, folding his arms over his chest.
Sighing, Abberline confessed faintly, "Not worse. Tired. Afraid."
"Afraid of what?"
"I found numerous documents stashed at the back of my desk's bottom drawer, ones I had never seen before. Among them was a note written in what appears to be a rather rushed manner." He stood and moved toward Sweeney as he pulled a piece of parchment from his inside coat pocket. "Here. Read it."
With no change in expression, Todd unfolded the note and read it to himself.
Keep hidden important protect them grave conseq
"What is it you're supposed to keep hidden and protect?" Todd asked with a frown.
"The documents I found. I don't understand their significance; they're just old arrest warrants and criminal reports."
A wave of nervousness washed over Todd at the thought of his past being revealed to Abberline, but it hurriedly past as he realized the inspector had not studied them closely enough. Yet. "Who do you think wrote this?"
Abberline's features suddenly became clouded with strong uneasiness. "I think it was Ichabod," he stated in little more than a whisper.
Todd closed the bedroom door and led Frederick away from it so they could speak freely without waking the youngest of the three of them.
"I don't know. I just….have this feeling."
"What if….someone wanted them kept confidential because it would ruin him?"
"What are you saying?"
"I know who's responsible for Ichabod's current state."
Fred's eyes widened. "Who?"
"Wh….What? God, why?"
"Just….study the reports, alright?"
"I should ask Ichabod-"
"Not yet. He's not ready to talk about it at the moment. Give him a couple of weeks."
Fred bowed his head, nodding. "You're right. Listen, I think the papers might be safer here than with me. Can you?"
"Alright. I'll bring them by tonight."
Clock chimes sounded eight times, causing Frederick to sigh disappointedly.
"I have to go."
Sweeney pulled him close, kissed him vehemently, and whispered, "Be careful," before letting the inspector leave. The barber went back to the bedroom to check on Crane, who was currently batting at the air and whimpering pitifully; he calmed down somewhat when Sweeney enveloped him from behind and delicately kissed the back of his neck several time.
"Shhh….You're safe," Todd breathed, rocking them back and forth. "You'll never be hurt again, I swear to you."