Story Summary: A look at Vito and Tom's relationship through the years.
Chapter Summary: Vito meets Tom for the first time and makes an important decision.
Note: Can take place in either the book or the movie 'verse
Vito stared at the scrawny, shivering scrap of a boy sitting next to Santino and wondered what sorts of parents the child had. No Sicilian, no matter how poor, would ever allow their children to be seen in such a state. The child's clothes were little more than scraps of cloth held together with imagination and dirt. What of his body Vito could see was little more than skin and bones and something about his eye seemed off.
He said nothing during dinner, set up a bed for the boy in Sonny and Fredo's room and went back into the parlor.
"Where are the boy's parents?" He asked Carmella in Sicilian.
Carmella sighed, "Sonny said that his parents died a year ago and he found him on the streets."
Vito said nothing, something in him couldn't turn the boy away; that had been him not a terribly long time ago. He'd been that orphan with no family and nowhere to go, but the Abbandandos had taken him in, given him a job, and had ultimately helped set him on the road to his destiny. It was only proper for him to do the same to a child that so clearly needed help.
He called Clemenza and asked him to make inquiries in the neighborhood to substantiate Sonny's claim, but his decision had already been made, the boy would stay.
Early the next morning, Clemenza showed up and confirmed what Sonny had claimed about the boy, who Clemenza said was named Tom Hagen. According to the neighbors, the boy's parents had both died within months of each other, the mother of an unknown illness, the father had drank himself to death. The neighbors had also mentioned that the mother had had eye troubles before her death and that the boy seemed to have the same eye trouble. Clemenza also mentioned that Tom had a younger sister that had been put into foster care and nothing else was known about her.
Vito nodded and thanked his friend and called a doctor friend in Manhattan and made arrangements for him to come in with Tom and have the boy's eyes looked at.
After the children were awake and breakfast was eaten, he clapped Tom on the shoulder, frowning when the boy nearly jumped out of his skin.
"C'mon, Tom, I'm taking you see a friend of mine about your eye."
The boy gulped, "Y-Yes, sir." It was the first time he'd spoken in Vito's presence, his eyes were wide and slightly fearful, making Vito wonder about what had happened to the boy while he was on his own. Noting that the boy was still in the rags he'd been wearing the day before, he turned to his eldest.
"Santino, loan him some clothing." Sonny dragged the boy back into his room and after a few minutes, Tom reappeared clad in a pair of Sonny's pants, a shirt and shoes. Everything hung off him like sacks, but at least he was wearing something more substantial. Vito glanced at Carmella and knew that the boy's ragged clothing would be gone before they got back.
The trip to the doctor went better than Vito had expected, after listening to Tom's answers and examining his eyes, the doctor said that Tom had conjunctivitis and said that they'd caught it just in time.
"Caught right away, this is pretty easily treated, but if left untreated, it can cause blindness," The doctor said as he filled out the prescription. "It's probably what his mother had too, probably where he got it from."
Vito frowned, "Should I be worried about my children?" It hadn't occurred to him that the boy's eye problem could be contagious.
The doctor shook his head, "Not really, but if they start complaining about their eyes itching or their eyes turn red for no reason, bring them in. Like I said, this sort of thing is pretty easily treated if it's caught right away. From what the boy's said, his family didn't have the money for a doctor and so it just went untreated."
Vito nodded, accepted the prescription and led Tom out of the office and to the car.
On the trip back, Vito heard Tom's stomach growl and turned to the boy, "Do you want to stop for something to eat?" Tom shrugged, keeping his eyes on his borrowed shoes.
Vito sighed, "Tom, look at me." When the boy raised his eyes, he smiled reassuringly, "I don't want you to be afraid to ask for something you need. Now, are you hungry?"
Tom bit his lip for a moment and then nodded. Vito smiled, "All right, we'll stop for lunch."
They stopped at a favorite restaurant of Vito's, where they were treated like royalty. Vito ordered spaghetti for Tom, remembering how the boy had eaten Carmella's spaghetti so eagerly the night before. He smiled as he watched Tom tuck into the big plate of pasta. After lunch, they stopped at a store and bought some clothes for Tom and then went home.
Once they were home, Carmella clucked and fussed and insisted that Tom eat again, then Sonny dragged him outside to play ball with him, Fredo and some other children in the neighborhood.
Vito smiled as he watched the children play. Tom seemed to come out of his shell around other children, even though Tom wasn't of his flesh and blood, he already felt a connection to the orphan boy and looked forward to watching him grow up.