Come Home Again
A/N: AU. Todd comes home to a wife and child.
WARNING: This story will contain dark elements, such as murder, thoughts of revenge and murder, insanity, rape, drinking, allusions to cannibalism, suicidal thoughts and actions, etc. If you are sensitive and/or younger than 13-14, I do not recommend reading this fanfiction. I will try to make it as PG-13 as possible. Please note that most of the characters in this story are insane and evil and should not be emulated in any way.
So, I do not own.
"Sit down, love, why don' I get yeh a glass o' gin, aye?" Mrs. Lovett asks as she walks towards the liquor, turning away from her guest.
Todd sits in the dark parlor, opposite the harmonium. Dark wood furniture lightly sprinkled with dust tells the tale of fifteen hard years, as though it had aged along with its owner. The tables around him are cluttered with various bric-a-brac that the eccentric woman has not bothered to organize in years. The parlor air is thick, haunted with the ghosts of a dreadful past that was once so bright. The room itself sighs and moans under the pain, as though wanting to shed it. A slight warmth and faint light emerges from the hearth as yellow flames crackle upward like arms stretching towards the heavens, before immediately plummeting downward in failure.
He studies his host, inattentive to her chatter. Mrs. Lovett is a woman who would be beautiful, if fifteen hard years did not make her tired and worn down. She wears an old black gown that highlights her small figure. Her well-rounded shoulders jut out like knife handles. Her skin is too pale, too drained. Her brown eyes, sympathetic and burning with an inner fire, are also tired. Dark shadows live permanently underneath them. Her elegant face would be pretty if it did not look so weary.
"Yes, this 'ere is me parlor. Quite comfy-cozy, I'd say. 'ow do yeh like the wallpaper? 'Twas a bargain, bein' only partly singed when the chapel burned down." He looks at it, not bothering to observe any detail as her skirt rustles on the dingy carpet. She presses the cold glass of gin into his hand.
"Business is good, as always, but times is 'arder now. Things ain't so cheap nowadays. Ah, well. We wish and wait, don' we, love?" The question is said to herself than to him. He is silent, eyes focusing on nothing as his hand holds the cold glass.
Enough of this! Where is your family? Ask her!
His eyes flicker to the ceiling as the unspoken question burns inside him, eating away at his willpower moment by moment. "Have you a room, over the shop? If times are so hard, why not rent it out? Should bring in something." He takes a casual drink of the pale liquid in his glass, the indents pressing into his dry skin and the cold liquid soothing his dry throat, like a stream through a desert. Tension hangs in the air, and he watches her out of the corner of his eye. Fear grows in him like a boulder, his breaths short. What if she recognizes him?
"Up there? Place 'as a real sad story, I' does. Things 'appened years ago." She straightens as though anticipating a reaction from him. Disappointment flutters in her chest as she finds none, and her eyes flick towards the ceiling as well. The silence pronounces itself around the room and the tension rises with each second.
"What happened?" he asks, blankly staring into the fire and shattering the thick silence. Lovett opens her eyes once more and gazes at him, racking her mind for what to tell him. She steps towards him cautiously and he stares into the fire, as though lost in painful memories.
"Well," she begins, sinking into her chair. "A family lived up there years ago. A barber, a beautiful man named Benjamin Barker. Kindest soul yeh'd ever meet, an' quite skilled wit' a blade. 'e was so…so beautiful…" her voice becomes a lover's whisper, dripping with unfulfilled passion.
"'e 'ad a family: a year old baby girl, Johanna, an' a wife, Lucy. 'is wife was a pretty lit'le thing, a silly nit who found 'erself coveted by a powerful Judge. The Judge so fancied 'er tha' 'e shipped off 'er 'usband for life. Barker's wife was distraught. Judge tried ta court 'er, sendin' 'er flowers day by day. She refused 'em all, stayin' inside 'er 'ome an' sobbin' with each 'our, tryin' ta take care o' lit'le Johanna. Three months o' this went on an' on. Then, the Beadle came. 'e called on 'er, sayin' the Judge was contrite an' tha' 'e could send Barker 'ome. 'e came an' sped 'er off to the Judge's mansion."
She pauses, scrutinizing him as an artist looks for weak points in a portrait. He simply stares ahead, motionless.
"'s a masked ball when she gets there. Poor thing wanders aroun', unable to fin' the Judge, an' drinks. Poor dear can't 'old 'er liquor, an' she collapses on a couch. Ya see, the Judge was too smart for 'er: 'e finds 'er there, an' 'e takes her. The crowd, they all jus' laugh, thinkin' she was daft—"
The rage explodes throughout his body and lights his veins on fire. Everything inside him cries out in agony. The man screams and leaps to his feet, arms outstretched as though to save his wife. The air grows icy and thin as it kisses his arms. His throat aches as a lump forms and grows larger, and a coating of tears sting his eyes and threaten to fall.
"Did…did no one help her?" he begs, voice shaking like gravel. Despite the pain in his eyes, the ache in his heart burns as if it were on fire. Rage tingles in his veins and brings him to life.
The Judge…he did this to her…that vile beast will pay…I will make sure of it…
The tension in the room peaks, as though he has shattered a mirror and even the faintest whisper will cause each shard to fall out of place. Every nerve in his body stands on end, every sensation is acute, and every sound can be detected. The shadows around the room grow darker as they taunt him, and the light in the room disappears. Time becomes void, leaving one aching question pressing into his mind.
Lucy…where is Lucy?
"So it is you," the baker says, voice filled with awe. "Benjamin Barker."
Lucy. Where is my Lucy?
"Where is Lucy? Where is my wife?"
A precious second slips by, and tears threaten to slide down his cheeks as his eyes sting. Imagining every scenario of what can happen to his Lucy flashes in his mind, every nightmare becoming truth. Every second matters. He looks to the wall of the parlor, trying to imagine the smiling face of his wife, but the attempt is fruitless as he imagines her broken and sobbing with blood stains on her torn clothing, her form hunched over and racked with sobs.
"Your…your Lucy…" Mrs. Lovett begins, drawing him out of his dark thoughts and back to reality. He hangs on every word. Every hope hangs on her response
"She…didn' 'andle wot 'appened well, Mr. Barker. She—"
"Nellie?" a light voice questions, breaking the tension in the room. "I heard a scream. Are you alright?"
Both heads turn towards the noise in the doorway. Two pairs of eyes stare at the figure.
Sweeney stares captivated at her, the anger inside him melting away. Fifteen years of longing for her, of dreaming of her face that had long been forgotten, have at last been realized. Her voice is sweet and light as a bell. Her face is feminine and elegant, soft and gentle. Her skin is as white as porcelain, like that of a china doll, containing a small blush of pink on her cheeks. Her chocolate brown eyes sparkle with life, shining light from within her like the flame of a candle. Her hair glows a bright yellow like a halo. Nothing less than angelic.
She is here, merely feet from him, and safe. Sweeney looks at her, contrasting the images of the broken, crying angel of fifteen years ago and the pure and whole woman who stands here now.
She looks at him and gasps. Her eyes fill with tears and she covers her mouth with her hand. Time fades into nothing as she glides towards him—an angel walking on clouds—and her cotton and rose scent fills the air. The atmosphere brightens immediately, as though clouds of gloom and darkness are ashamed to be in her presence. He can feel the warmth radiating from her; it threatens to dispel the chill that is lodged inside his bones after weeks on the dark, frigid ocean.
"I-It's…it's you," she whispers, pupils searching his face. Lucy presses her hand to his gaunt cheek, confirming that he is real. Sweeney feels his pallid flesh retreat from the touch, unfamiliar with the tenderness that has been so long denied him. She blinks and allows crystal tears to slide down her cheeks.
"You're here," she breathes. "My…my Benjamin…"
Sweeney's stomach falls at the sound of his former name. Benjamin Barker is the name of a dead man, the man he no longer is, but he does not wish to dampen his wife's happiness just yet. She will soon learn the truth. Instead, he looks into her warm eyes and finds comfort and security held in them. Strange emotions play in his chest—exhilaration, love, even happiness—emotions that he has not felt in years. His heart begins to have a steady beat. The dead reviving.
"Yes, Lucy," he whispers, finding his voice. It is as wet as his eyes. "I've come home again."
"Lucy," he whispers, savoring the sound of her name until it plays like a melody in his mind.
"My Benjamin…you are home, darling," she says as she strokes the white streak in his raven hair repeatedly. "How…how did you come?"
Digging a hole in his barrack floor until his shoulders throbbed, climbing through the tunnel to find a cold night…racing along the beach to find the raft he had constructed…the air biting his skin…promising to return for revenge, for his family…bobbing up and down on the water as he swam away…weeks spent on the open sea as he nearly perished from hunger…the ringing of the Bountiful's bells, leading to safety…
He shakes his head, indicating he wishes not to speak on the subject. Lucy silently concedes to his request before changing the subject. "I heard you…screaming. Are you alright? What had happened?"
The story of her defilement is still fresh in his mind, and no doubt still scarring her memory. He cannot, he will not, pry the old wounds open. She is here now, and that is what matters.
"Doesn' matter," he says.
Her eyes burn with desire to know, but she releases a small sigh of defeat and relief fills Sweeney. Suddenly, the curiosity in her eyes melts away like dross, and there is nothing except adoration and love in her eyes. Her fingertips explore the slope of his face like a blind man feeling his way along a street. Sweeney can tell she is wary of him, trying to recover from the shock of seeing him after so long. She examines his tall and gaunt frame, and his hollow face. Trying to reconcile the man she remembers and the one standing before her.
"Kiss me," she begs. The strange request pierces through him, like an arrow jabbing flesh. Has he forgotten how to kiss her? What if he harms her? For a moment, he thinks to deny her. But she is pleading him with her eyes, and he cannot. Benjamin Barker had never been able to deny his Lucy anything, and neither can Sweeney Todd.
The memory of her kiss had faded. He remembers that her lips had been soft, and that her kisses were so warm and inviting, but he never remembered the exact sensation. She had faded, along with the happiness, into the dark recesses of his mind.
Now, he closes his eyes—a frightening act of trust—and bends down slightly. Lucy inches closer, and for the first time in fifteen years, she kisses him. She brings her soft arms around his neck, pulling him as close as possible. Her embrace is gentle and comforting, and he can feel the soft material of her gown against his vest as she nudges closer, wishing to mold into him. He can taste the sadness, grief, love, and passion of fifteen years on her lips. She is here in his arms and he is finally home. She releases a withheld sob and her warm tears spill onto his cheeks. Her gentle hands stroke his face, and he buries his hands in her hair.
They break apart and she holds him close, her head on his shoulder. "You are home," she whispers, more a reassurance to herself than anyone else. Sweeney forces his hand to revive and to rub her back, comforting her.
It doesn't feel real. It is a strange, strange dream. But his adoring wife is warm and real in his arms. I am home. Suddenly, she pulls away from him, still keeping an arm around him. A faint blush is on her cheeks.
"Nellie, I am sorry," she apologizes, her face pink and eyes cast down in embarrasement. Sweeney follows her gaze to Mrs. Lovett. The light coming from the window makes the jutting cheekbones of her face harsher, her eyes more sunken, and her red curls more fiery.
"'s alrigh', love. Yeh need ta see yehr 'usband after…all this time." Pain leaks through her voice, and he feels an almost twinge of pity for her.
"Thank you, Nellie, for keeping him company and inviting him in."
"My pleasure, dearie," she says, smoothing her skirts and becoming absorbed in the sight of the hem of her gown.
After a silence, Lucy looks up towards her husband. "Do you want to come home?"
Home. After fifteen years, the word holds respite. He stares ahead pensively, not meeting her eyes as he gives a terse nod. She moves away from him, leaving only cold air in her wake and walks towards the pie shop. After a moment, he follows her gentle scent and leaves the parlor to reclaim the heaven he once had.
He finds Lucy standing in the middle of the shop, watching to see if he is there. When he enters, she nods tersely and continues to glide through the room as a dove flies through the sky. Her steps are light and fluid; a stark contrast to the heavy sound of Sweeney's leather boots. She leads him outside and holds the door for him, allowing for a brief observation of London.
The air is chilled, and a white fog blurs faces and buildings within ten feet of them. The buildings are old and gray, wet from a previous rain and the bricks are coated lightly with mold on the mortar. They reach high as though to penetrate the sky above, covered in grayish-white clouds. The narrow cobblestone street is bustling with men and woman who amble about, being careful to avoid the large horses that trot proudly down the street with carriages in tow or the old feces left behind that the sweepers have not yet cleaned. The oil lights stand tall above the street like an all-seeing eye, the light inside dimmed from the foggy glass. Chatter fills the air, filled with civility and false politeness.
Hypocrites, Sweeney thinks coldly, lips pressed into a line. All of them.
He is brought back to the present by the sound of Lucy's footsteps on the stairs leading up to their home. He climbs them behind her, anxiety building in his stomach as he nears the old room. On top of the small balcony, he can see the dusty glass of the barber shop door, positioned next to the red and white pole, covered in dirt as though it has not been cleaned in a few months. The sign lingers above the pole, a reminder of who was once there. Benjamin Barker's Barber Shop, it reads. Shaves for cheap! Closed on Sundays.
Lucy turns the brass knob and opens the door, stepping inside. Light fills the room and displays the dust particles that swirl in the air. Sweeney lingers in the doorway as though afraid to enter, afraid to cross the threshold of fifteen years and to enter the place where the ghosts of happiness reside.
"Love, don't be afraid," Lucy's pleads as she steps closer to him, offering to guide him. He looks at the imploring features on her face and steps inside, body tense as though the room would cave in around them. Sweeney studies the room.
Benjamin Barker had been happy here, standing behind his chair for hours and shaving men, receiving good wages to support his family. Benjamin would smile as he admired the silver razors that he cleaned after each use, delighting how they became part of his body, molding to his hand. Benjamin had laughed at customer's good-natured jests and smiled at knowing that his wife would sometimes come and watch him work. Benjamin's memories permeate the room, causing it to sigh under their weight, as a grave rejects the spirit of its host.
Sweeney reaches out his hand to feel his chair, and he caresses the leather strop. The coarse material is rough against his fingertips, recoiling from his touch. His breath catches as he remembers the same material used on the whips in Botany Bay. The material had bitten into his flesh like talons, releasing pools of red rubies on his back…sadistic officers had laughed gleefully as they had whipped him after his body gave out after hard labor…he remembers begging for death…feeling lightheaded and having his vision cloud, and how the Australian sunlight shined down on his flushed face, creating the illusion that his wife was standing before him and ready to take him home…
He blinks as the memory is destroyed, only to hear Lucy's voice. He finds her standing by the old vanity. "I kept this room clean every so often. I would scrub and dust, to make sure it was ready for you when you returned," she says. A wistful smile makes her face glow, cheering the air. "I remember how much you used to love this place. You will begin barbering again, Benjamin?"
"Course," he whispers, eyes sweeping across the room. A silence pierces them when he says nothing more. He goes towards the window and surveys the men and women down below, who are oblivious to his demonic smile as he looms over them as an angel of judgement. Filthy vermin…all of them…living under the rule of him…
Thoughts of the Judge make his blood run cold with rage. He looks over to see his Lucy smiling at him, and his hands curl into fists at his sides. He had ruined her, had stopped her beloved husband from being able to save her…and now, it would be him who was helpless under Sweeney's rule. Sweeney would be his judge—a cold and welcomed twist of irony! His lips upturn into a dark grin at the thought of the man's blood running down Sweeney's pale hands, drenching and coating him, signs of the Judge's life extinguishing like a snuffed candle…
"I have something for you," she says, tenderly picking up a mahogany case. She walks towards him and cradles the case as though it contains the Queen's crown. "I kept them, for your return. I would clean them to make sure they did not rust." She holds the case flat in her hands, inviting him to hold it. He lifts his trembling hands towards it and opens it. Six silver razors greet him.
They are tucked away, as if in sleep. The silver shines in the light like a lover being awoken with a kiss. Fingering one out of the case, he takes it in his hand. The silver presses into it, his flesh molding to its curve. It is cold against his gloved hand. Even closed, it smiles up at him like a faithful companion. A friend.
"The handles are chased silver," Lucy says, smiling.
Silver. Cold and sleek in his hand, the beautiful design of a goddess with long, flowing hair looking up at him with love in her silver eye. They shine brightly, their tinkling voices filling his mind. Each beautiful razor, crafted by hand and fit to be used as an artist uses their brush. Razors, sharp and smooth, able to accomplish their duty with a flick of the master's wrist.
Silver. He holds it closely as china, as though it were sacred. The swish plays in his mind as the metal awakens like a butterfly from a cocoon. A sword of vengeance emerging from it's sheath, awoken to be dipped in blood. The silver shines like a mirror, showing him the cold reflection of a man locked away—himself. They too, have been prepared through the hard years, being cleaned by caring hands only to be used for a ruby bath. The razors lines are hard and elegant, cold and unfeeling, and yet they swirl with a mad elegance. Perhaps master and blade understand each other more than a casual observer will ever know.
Silver. His companions in a dark, lustful vendetta, allies on a sacred mission. Silver, shining in the light, grinning with joy at finally being held in his hand. All those who ruined him would see the beautiful glint as they winked at their prey; the vermin of London would finally meet their judgement. His eyes sparkle with zeal, determination, and what a sane man would call madness.
They whisper to him softly, their words poisonous as venom. Sweeney…we understand, we know your pain. Finally, we are together, they whisper sweetly. Sweeney, Sweeney, Sweeney…unfold us…swing us high…our blades are sharp for the kill.
Sweeney, Sweeney, Sweeney…
He croons to them, his voice dripping with love, hidden rage, and insanity. They are his and no one would take them from him. Ah, my friends, you will be coated in precious rubies, in a fine cloak of scarlet…
Raise us up!
Exhilaration pumps in his blood, triumph making his fingers curl tightly on the intricately carved handle. His arm extends; they become part of him once more. Nothing would stop him. His enemies would be brought to their judgement.
"At last, my arm is complete again!"