Bad Times In LA

Parte Dos-B

Nancy Smith

Diego's eyes flashed an intense look at Victoria as his mind raced to try to think of something to say that wouldn't put himself or his identity in jeopardy. This was definitely a bad time to start discussing relationships, especially now when Felipe was not feeling well. Actually this was a bad time period!

Diego looked at Victoria somewhat disconcerted. "Say what Victoria! What is there to say that I haven't already said, except that you're beautiful, enchanting, exciting, and I can't think of anyone I'd rather be with than you." Diego inwardly calmed his restless feeling and sighed as he looked at Victoria decisively.

"Victoria I care about you more than you'll ever know and I'll never stop caring about you. And I would never forgive myself if anything should ever happen to you!" Replied Diego looking at Victoria resolutely.

Victoria's eyes slightly widened as she stood looking intently at Diego trying to sort out what he was trying to tell her. Far be it for her to jump to conclusions, especially where Diego was concerned. All he was saying was what he thought she wanted to hear and not what she really wanted to hear! 'How hard could saying I love you be!' Victoria thought. 'It's only three words. But obviously three words that Diego can't bring himself to say!' she decided.

"Diego, what are saying? What is it that you're trying to tell me?" Victoria inquired hesitantly. Her eyes studied his face as if she expected him to come to some conclusion, whether it was right or wrong. She stood waiting anxiously staring at him seemingly holding her breath waiting for an answer. Diego cast a wistful look upon her and shook his head.

"If only things were different!" he said hesitantly. He walked over to the bar and poured himself a drink. As he turned and looked at Victoria he could see the same longing and desire in her eyes that he had felt when he looked at her from a distance wishing he could truly say to her as Diego that he loved her like Zorro had done so many times. He had often wondered why it was so easy for him to tell her he loved her as Zorro but not as Diego! 'Why can't I say it without the mask!' thought Diego as he cast an anxious look upon her face.

Victoria looked thoughtfully at Diego and shook her head. If he was referring to Zorro, she knew that was something she could definitely cope with if only he would give her the opportunity.

"How, Diego? What do you mean…if things were different…how?" Victoria replied pointedly as she flashed an unremitting look at Diego.

Diego sighed and shook his head and cast a disconcerting look at Victoria. 'All right de la Vega, get yourself out of this one!' At that moment, Diego glanced over and saw Alejandro coming into the room. He could tell by the worried expression on his face that Felipe had taken a turn for the worse. Diego walked up to Alejandro and looked at him anxiously.

"Is it Felipe?" he asked worriedly.

Alejandro nodded. "All of a sudden his fever became worse and he started shaking like he was cold. I put an extra cover on him to keep him warm. Diego, this looks like something I've seen before, but I can't put my finger on it!" Alejandro remarked anxiously.

Diego looked at Alejandro earnestly. "Thank you for telling me father. I'll go check on him right now."

Diego turned and walked over to Victoria and looked at her solemnly. "I'm sorry Victoria! I can't talk about this right now! Felipe is much worse. I need to go check on him!" Diego replied apprehensively.

As he started toward the stairs, Victoria followed close behind. Suddenly Diego turned and flashed an incensed look at her.

"What do you think you're doing?!!" he snapped abruptly.

Victoria's eyes narrowed as she shot Diego a piercing look. "I love Felipe as much as you do and I'm going to help you take care of him whether you like it or not!" She replied tersely as she glared at him. As she started up the stairs, Diego quickly reached out and gently grabbed her arm. Victoria turned and flashed an icy stare at him. The moment their eyes met, they both sighed and looked at one another with soft apologetic gazes.

"Victoria, I'm sorry! I shouldn't have snapped at you like that! I know you want to help, and I appreciate it!" he replied remorsefully. "I'm just so worried about Felipe! I've never known him to be so sick!" replied Diego shaking his head.

Victoria put a reassuring hand on his shoulder and gave a slight nod. "I know Diego. I'm sorry too! We're all worried about Felipe! I wish there was something we could do!" she responded resolutely as she cast a worried look into Diego's troubled eyes.

Diego nodded as he looked into Victoria's eyes and slightly smiled. "Thank you Victoria! I'm glad you're here…for Felipe's sake! He loves you too!" replied Diego earnestly.

Victoria looked at Diego compassionately and smiled. As she and Diego walked up to Felipe's room, she couldn't help but wonder if Diego was speaking for Felipe or for himself. Maybe she was just being too sensitive to the situation or maybe it was just wishful thinking.

She momentarily cleared her mind and focused her attention on the young boy that had been an inspiration to many people in the pueblo, by overcoming insurmountable odds. Now there he lay for all she knew…dying of some unknown illness that had suddenly and ruthlessly taken possession of his young body.

Alejandro momentarily came into the room carrying a pitcher with fresh water and poured it into a basin. As he carried the basin over to Felipe's bed and sat it on the nightstand, Victoria took a washcloth that Alejandro had brought with the pitcher and began wetting it and gently wiping Felipe's face. Diego walked over to the other side of his bed and sat on the bedside him and looked anxiously upon his face. Felipe slowly opened his eyes and looked at Diego and weakly signed asking Diego if he was going to die? Diego slightly blinked trying to hold back a tear that was in his eye and shook his head. He felt a slight knot in his throat as he tried to answer Felipe.

"No Felipe! I won't let you!" Diego replied, his voice slightly wavering. He managed to smile for Felipe as he gently ran his fingers through Felipe's dark hair combing it from his face. His father was right, as Diego touched him he could feel the intensity of the fever upon his head and face. Diego eyed Victoria and Alejandro resolutely and stood up.

"I'm not waiting! I'm riding out tonight to get Dr. Hernandez!" Diego replied adamantly.

As he walked to the door, Alejandro put his hand on Diego's shoulder and eyed him resolutely.

"Diego it's very late! Maybe you should wait until morning!" Alejandro responded cautiously.

Diego shook his head and looked at Alejandro decisively. "If something happened that Felipe didn't make it through the night, I'd never forgive myself! I have to try!" Diego replied effusively. "Take care of Felipe!" Diego replied looking anxiously into Alejandro's eyes.

Alejandro nodded and put a reassuring hand on Diego's shoulder. "Be careful Diego!" he responded cautiously.

He looked back at Felipe and cast a long worried look at this young boy who was his friend, companion, confidant and someone whom he dearly loved with all his heart…even though he sometimes didn't show it, for reasons that only he and Felipe understood. But he loved him nonetheless.

As Diego stood staring at Felipe lying in the bed, he made up his mind that 'he's not going to die!' thought Diego resolutely. He turned and walked out the door.

There really wasn't any need for Zorro that night, but Tornado was the fastest horse Diego could count on. Tornado knew the terrain better than any horse Alejandro had. He had the ability to navigate through the darkest of nights and traverse the rockiest of trails and pathways. Diego never doubted Tornado's capabilities and determination. As far as Diego was concerned, he was truly a magnificent animal.

As Zorro and Tornado raced through the night, aside from bringing back the doctor which was foremost on his mind, the only other concern was that he wouldn't run into any of the Alcalde's men that were patrolling the surrounding area. There had been some rumors of Indian uprisings in the outskirts of the pueblo and DeSoto had deployed his men in different sections of the territory to keep an eye out for any marauding renegades. Of course Zorro was more concerned about the soldiers than the Indians. He had established a friendship with some of the local tribes a few years ago, and felt he had their trust and confidence on his side. He only wished DeSoto felt the same about him!

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