A/N: This kind of just fell out of my brain awhile back. I was watching Silence of the Lambs and this idea came to me. I also got some of my inspiration for this from the end of Stephen King's Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger. (If you can figure out how it all connects, I shall regard you as one of the single most amazing people to ever grace this planet.) I'm sorry if some of it seems a bit OOC.
A tall man in a large overcoat and hat which obscured most of his face stood leaning against a brick wall. His eyes scanned the words on the pages of the book he held in his hand, but every so often he would raise his eyes to look at the shop across the street. The street was buzzing with the clatter of horses' hooves as they pulled their masters' carriages and carts as well as the chatter of people as they carried out their lives. The shop which the man looked at was a pie shop, Mrs. Lovett's pie shop to be exact, stationed at 186 Fleet Street in London town. Above this shop was another which belonged to that of a barber, a man by the name of Sweeney Todd. The man in the coat and hat smiled at the owner's use of a surname as a Christian application as well as noting that the surname that was used had one too many "d"s in it. As he peered over his book he noticed that the purveyor of the pie shop had flipped the "closed" sign to "open", signaling the start of a new business day. He also took note of the gloomy figure staring with hard eyes out the large window of the barber shop.
The man carefully closed the book in his hand and placed it in one of the large pockets of his overcoat. He then strode across the busy cobblestone street and into the pie shop. The bell above the door tinkled merrily as he opened it. As he stepped over the threshold he was greeted by a woman of a pallid complexion and shapely figure with wild auburn locks which sat haphazardly atop her head. She brushed a bit of flour off of her low cut dress with her hands and smiled at him; not the warm smile of a friend but the barely lukewarm smile of an actress who is only playing the part. The man smiled back to her and removed his hat, revealing a slick of graying and thinning hair that had far receded.
"Mrs. Lovett, I presume?" he said with a slight directing nod towards her.
"Yes, sir." she said with another one of those smiles.
The man sat down in one of the booths and gingerly sat his hat down next to him.
"One pie please, ma'am." he said in a smooth, genteel manner.
"Coming right up, sir." the baker said in reply and with a twirl of her skirts she went to retrieve a pie.
Moments later she returned and placed the pastry in front of the man. "There you are, sir, fresh outta the oven." As she set the pie on the table, he caught her glance and held it there for a few brief seconds, peering deeply into the depths of her eyes; and even perhaps into her very soul. She could feel a blush settling on her cheeks, but was not sure why.
"Thank you, my dear." he said with a smile, his eyes glittering. He dropped his gaze from her to the meat pie staring up at him from the plate it sat on. The man took a deep breath of the almost intoxicating aroma that drifted off the pie as a large and gluttonous smile spread across his lips; the lines around his eyes deepening further. He cut into the flaky crust with the side of his fork. After cutting off a piece and placing it on the fork, he then placed the piece of pie into his mouth and began to chew slowly, marveling at the tenderness of the meat.
Mrs. Lovett stood behind the counter watching him the entire time. There was something about this man which was a bit unsettling to her, but she was not quite sure why. Perhaps it was that look in his eyes, or maybe the way those eyes peered into hers. Eyes that were as seductive as they were hungry. A look that was so familiar to her. She rested her elbows on the counter and her head in her hands and sighed, trying to shake the close up image of those eyes from her mind.
Even though the stranger in the booth seemed to be fully enthralled in his meal, was still watching her every move.
The bell above the door rang out its merry tune as a young lad of perhaps thirteen or fourteen years of age with short, messy brown hair and large brown eyes walked into the shop, carrying two large brown paper bags and set them down on the counter. He walked over to the baker and put a hand on her shoulder.
"You all right, mum? You seem like yer in a daze." he questioned.
Mrs. Lovett gave a small start and turned to the boy.
"I'm fine, dear. Just fine." she lied and faked a smile; an act she had become accustom to performing. The boy glanced up at the ceiling with a worried expression spread across his face. He then looked over to the strange man sitting in the booth.
Mrs. Lovett's gaze had returned to the man. There was something more than was just unsettling about him. There was something about him that made her nervous. The type of nervous you feel when you know that someone else knows your deepest and darkest secrets when you don't want a single soul finding out about them.
"Toby, darling, don't you 'ave some errands to run for me?" she asked, turning to the boy.
"But I just wa…" the boy began but was cut off by a stern look from the baker. He quickly exited through the front door of the shop, almost tripping over his own feet. The bell above the door cheerily wished him off.
By this time the man had finished his meal and was licking the remaining crumbs off his lips in delight.
"My, my, my Mrs. Lovett, you really do make a wonderful pie. Defiantly the best in London." he said.
A nervous smile crept onto Mrs. Lovett's lips. "Thank you, sir."
The man stood up from his seat and placed his hat back on his head.
"There is one thing, though, that could be improved upon. You really should be a little more careful with your coriander. You wouldn't want to hinder the taste of a good lawyer." the man said with a wink.
Mrs. Lovett stared at him in mute shock. It felt like the Earth had given way underneath her, leaving nothing but a black pit. Oh God, he knows. He knows, she thought, panicking.
"Now, now dear, don't look so frightened. I'm not going to call the authorities on you. No, no. In fact, I regard you rather highly for knowing how to prepare his type of flesh so finely. This whole scheme of your is really quite clever, dear, really quite clever. Did you think it up yourself? It's just ingenious, this plan you've made. But…" here he paused for a thoughtful moment. "I'd watch out for that boy of yours. He's not as dumb as he looks. He notices when things that go up don't come back down. I don't think he'll tell you he knows just yet, though. He wouldn't want to do anything to endanger the wellbeing of 'mummy dearest'. He's far too loyal for that, like a well trained pet dog."
Mrs. Lovett felt hot tears begin to sting in her eyes. No, no. But the boy is as simple as a baby lamb…
"Why such they long face, my dear? Now, tell me, Mrs. Lovett, have you already a place in your heart for this young urchin?"
Mrs. Lovett tried to fight back the tears. She could feel her throat begin to tighten, like someone had wrapped their hands around her neck. It had been her choice to take the boy in, saving him from a trip back to the workhouse; or worse. He was only meant to be an assistant in the shop, nothing more. But gradually the boy had gotten to her. His sweet, innocent nature. His unconditional loyalty to her. All that he wanted in return was to be loved. And she had loved him. She had even become accustom to letting him curl up next to her in the evenings as she sat in the parlor reading after a long day of working in the shop. Sometimes she would even sing to him. Many times he would fall asleep curled up there next to her, a smile on his face. She would run her fingers through his hair and give him a kiss on the forehead. She had never had any children of her own and Toby had filled that void in her life. Yes, she had a place in her heart for him. Was it so wrong to want to be loved? And with the way Mr. Todd ignored her, no matter how hard she tried…
"Will you answer my question?" the man asked impatiently. "Don't be rude now. I do hate rude people.
Mrs. Lovett snapped out of her train of thought. "I-I s-suppose I do." she finally stammered.
"I suppose I do?" the man said in a mocking tone. "Well, then answer this question: Would you be willing to give up the boy? To sacrifice him, an 'innocent' boy? To sacrifice him like a spring lamb, to spill his blood for the sake of a higher power. Or perhaps for the sake of another person?" The man nodded up to the ceiling. "Would you be willing to do that?"
Mrs. Lovett knew what would happen if the boy found out. She had tried to prepare herself for it. She tried not to get attached, but she did anyway. She knew exactly what would happen if Mr. Todd found out that the boy knew. But, she would do anything for Mr. Todd. She would walk to the very ends of the Earth if she had to, just to make him love her. Ever since he had come back from that hell hole in Australia she had given all of her energies to help him get his revenge on the despicable Judge. She was even the one who came up with the idea to dispose of his slaughtered customers by putting them into her pies. She was the one who took care of him, put a roof over his head, all while he went on and on about the Judge and his precious Lucy, without even giving a single thought to the one who made his plan of vengeance possible. But, oh, how much she loved him… But the boy, she needed him out of the way. She couldn't let him ruin everything she worked so hard for. A single tear slide down her cheek.
The strange man approached her. He lifted a hand to her face and brushed the tear away. She still stood as if frozen solid.
"Now, now, don't give me that look, dear." He leaned in close to her face, their noses almost touching, his eyes burning into hers. "We wouldn't want you to do anything to rash just yet. You never know if the cards may be reshuffled. Remember that Nellie dear." He inhaled deeply then took a step away from her. He straightened his hat and then smoothed his hand over his chin, regarding the bit of stubble that was beginning to grow there. "I think I might check in with your friend upstairs." He walked back over to the booth where he had formerly been seated and tossed a few coins on the table. They hit the hard surface with a sharp clatter. He turned back to Mrs. Lovett who still stood frozen, tears burning in her eyes as she tried to grasp what had just transpired between her and this strange man she had never seen before. She was still reeling from the gravity and the weight of it all.
"Remember what I have told you, Mrs. Lovett. It might very well save you from a magnitude of pain. Ta-ta." and with a tip of his hat he walked out the door, the bells above it singing their cheery tune behind him.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this. When I originally wrote this back in early July, I was going to have a second part to it where Hannibal meets Sweeney, but then my poor plot bunny took terminally ill. Any input is greatly appreciated; but just don't be rude about it because we all know what happens to rude people.