If this looks familiar to you -- it should. I'm moving many of my one-shots to this account, and this just happened to be one of them that made the move.
Author's Note: I haven't written anything for this fandom since Bullets, and I'm kind of in the mood to. One reviewer had recommended that I do a piece between Carmella and Vito Corleone; it's been a while, and I've finally decided to do it. Their marriage really intrigues me. I'm not certain if this will be a one-shot, or more than that. I guess it depends on what I have time for, and what you all think.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters in The Godfather. I believe they belong to Mario Puzo, but I'm pretty sure Francis Ford Coppola's cut into some of that action, too. So I don't know. But it's not me. If I dreamed up a character, and said I wanted Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro to play him, I would probably be laughed at. So there you go.
Buy Yourself Something Nice
Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
With his pale, slender fingers, he laid a mess of wrinkled bills that totalled fifty dollars on their humble table, his black eyes pleased in their quiet, aloof manner. At first, hers only widened in shock. She stared at the pile for a held-off moment before scrambling for it with shaking hands, leafing through the strangely cumbersome articles to confirm the foreign image as reality. Carmella did not often come by fifty dollars. She was handed bills in twos and fives, and left to sort through meager stacks in frugile discernment. This much had to be set away, and this much had to be given to the landlord. Vito took care of the money, certainly; but each day, before he left the tenement in the dark hours of morning, he would leave her some small amount of money to attend to her own affairs with. And Carmella trusted that her husband managed the money well ... but at the same time, she was not a foolish woman. Her sister's husband had died of scarlet fever two years into their marriage; Signora Carmino had been left a widow with three young children when she was twenty-five. Carmella believed in Vito, and she believed he would take care of her, but she always saved back. And now, in the grim lateness of night, he was laying fifty dollars on the table.
She swallowed, gently unwrapping her thin, short digits from the strange sum and turning her doe's eyes to her husband in curiosity. "Vito ..."
He smiled. He smiled in his same way -- his only way. Carmella had not decieved herself when she agreed to Vito Colreone's proposal of marraige. She knew he was a simple man; not stupid, of course, or ill-witted, but nobody's intellectual, either. He was gentle and patient and quiet, and she had known that, even with his deep eyes and handsome face and Sicilian blood, she would not be sharing him with another woman. She had known he would work hard at low wages and would not complain until the end of his days. And yet ... here was this same, simple man with his same, simple smile, and fifty dollars.
"You take it, Carmella."
Her hands hovered reluctantly over the mysterious money. "Vito ... Where did it come from?"
His shoulders rose and fell, as if she had asked him where the moon came from. As if the money had, by some great fortune, appeared from nothing in his pockets.
"Take it. Buy yourself something nice."
Carmella stared at him, willing him to explain ... to tell her. She knew better. Vito Corleone never said too much to anyone. She had always believed it was simply his nature -- believed he didn't speak because he had nothing to say. But now, after she had given him two sons (and was feeling the familiar symptoms of carrying a third), he was delibrately, obviously keeping back a secret. If he would not allow her to know, who else was there to tell?
"You won't tell me?" she asked quietly. A thin, bleating whimper wafted meekly to her ears. Both their heads turned towards the adjacent room. "Fredo is awake --"
She started to rise, but Vito had already crossed into the other room in his long, unhurried steps. Carmella sighed, looking at the money again. Her teeth chewed her lips uncertainly; surely, she'd never known any man to love his children the way her husband did. Not even her own father -- well, especially not her own father -- had doted on his children in Vito's manner. If it was three in the morning, and he had to be at work by six, he would still rise and tend to his crying son. He seemed fascinated by the very existence of Santino and Fredo; pleasantly disarmed by the fact of two little souls living by way of his own action. No man such as Vito Corleone could have brought home dirty money.
He wandered back into the cramped dining room with slow, swaying steps, shh-ing the crying boy with patient, tender words. He told Fredo that he looked like his mother, and asked him to be quiet because his older brother was trying to sleep, and they both knew Santino had a temper. He paced the room, gazing intently at the upset infant, speaking in a calm, soothing tone.
Carmella smiled a little. "He's hungry."
Vito glanced at the boy's mother, and then asked him if he would like something to eat. She sighed, pushing the buttons of her blouse out of their frayed loops as her husband brought Fredo to her. She took the baby in her arms easily, a strange pang echoing through her nerves in a cold rush as her son began to eat. Every time she held him, she was reminded how much smaller and lighter he was than Santino at that age. Every time, she could not help but worry over what the world would do to someone so much weaker. She had no worries for her older son -- only for those that should make him angry.
Her husband stroked the round, delicate back of Fredo's head; he had more hair than Santino, at least -- and darker.
"He loves you more," Vito told her quietly, a sad smile on his face. Carmella shook her head.
"He's just younger."
He shrugged as before, his hand slipping from the baby to her arm thoughtfully. "We'll move away from here soon."
She took a breath. "With the rest of that money?"
Vito smiled, running his worn digits over her skin. "It's not enough. But we'll have it. Soon."
Carmella rest her free hand over his, grasping his knuckles. "You are becoming a powerful man."
He nodded slowly, his gaze steady and black and unreadable. She wished she knew what thoughts were constructed behind those eyes; she could no longer believe he had but the simple musings of a simple man. She pressed her lips together, turning her eyes to the money again. He wasn't going to tell her how it arrived there. He wasn't going to tell her how he was gaining prestige in the neighborhood, and he wasn't going to tell her how much money they -- he -- had. It was going to have to be enough to know that he had a great deal of money; to know he was powerful and influencial among certain people; to know that fifty dollars was hers.
Vito watched her, waiting until she looked at him again. She swallowed, a smile stretched across her closed lips as she turned her gaze back to his. She leaned forward carefully, pressing a kiss against his silent mouth.
"Thank you," she whispered. He nodded.
"Buy some jewelry, or a dress or hat or something," he told her quietly. "Don't worry about things the boys need. I will take care of that."
He glanced at the child in her arms, and smiled.