He walked over and retrieved his bag and then turned to Diego. "Diego, my office is on the way to Roberto's. Come with us and we'll stop by and pick up the quinine for Felipe. I'll get some for Roberto also." He added resolutely.
Diego nodded and quickly retrieved his jacket. He momentarily turned to Alejandro. "I'll bring back the medicine for Felipe. I won't be gone long."
Alejandro nodded and the three men quickly walked out the door.
Diego quickly saddled his horse as Dr. Hernandez hopped in the wagon with Roberto. Roberto gave the horses a quick slap of the reins and they quickly rode off to Dr. Hernandez's office. When they arrived, Dr. Hernandez jumped out of the wagon and ran into his office to retrieve his medicine and any other medicines, herbs, syrups, or powders he could think of that would be helpful. He put them into his bag and hurried out to the wagon.
Dr. Hernandez gave Diego a packet of some of the quinine and gave him instructions on how to administer it. He also gave him in a small bottle, with some crushed leaves and petals of an Echinacea plant that would keep Felipe from coughing, along with a few other herbs such as cowslip, snakeroot and soapwort that were good for congestion. He told Diego to make these into a tea or infusion for Felipe to drink. Diego quickly put everything the doctor had given him into his saddlebag and rode back to the hacienda.
As Dr. Hernandez and Roberto rode out to Roberto's place, he wondered how many more people would be coming down with this terrible disease and if he would have enough medicine to treat them.
When Diego arrived at the hacienda, he hopped off his horse and grabbed the saddlebag and quickly ran into the house. With the saddlebag slung over his shoulder, he dashed up the stairs and headed toward Felipe's room. As he walked down the hall, he saw his father and Victoria coming out of Felipe's room. He looked at them somewhat worriedly. He noticed that his father was carrying the nightshirt that Felipe was wearing and Victoria was carrying Felipe's breakfast tray. He glanced at the tray and noticed that most of the broth had been eaten and his juice glass was empty. He inwardly sighed somewhat in relief, as he automatically thought something was terribly wrong.
"Is Felipe all right?" Diego asked anxiously.
Alejandro nodded and looked at Diego earnestly. "Oh yes! Victoria and I were helping Felipe get cleaned up. He had a slight accident. He was trying to eat his broth by himself and spilled some on his nightshirt. Luckily he ate most of it. Victoria tried to feed him, but he wanted to do it himself! That boy can be quite stubborn. I put a clean nightshirt on him and now he is just resting. He's still rather weak, and he still complains about his headaches. I hope that's the medicine you brought back." Replied Alejandro resolutely.
"Yes! Not only did he give me the quinine, but he also gave me a few herbs to use for his congestion and cough. I hope they work!" Diego replied anxiously.
Alejandro and Victoria nodded in agreement.
As they stood in the hallway, Victoria cast a worried look upon Diego's face. She could tell by the weary look on his face and the anxiety in his eyes that Felipe's illness had taken its toll on him. She knew how much he loved Felipe, but she knew he wouldn't be of any help to him if he became exhausted or God forbid…ill. She surmised that it was just the maternal instinct in her, but she felt that as long as she was going to be there, she might as well make sure that these men were taking care of themselves.
"Diego, after I take these things to the kitchen, I'm going sit with Felipe. You need to get your rest!" Victoria stated earnestly.
Diego looked at Victoria compassionately and smiled. She had always been there for them when they needed her and sometimes she would offer to help if she saw that they were in need. She had always been such a good friend to them and to…him. And he had always been a good friend to her and had always at least tried to be there for her.
However it wasn't always easy showing his true feelings for her as Zorro and then pretending to have a platonic relationship as Diego. Last night he felt he was so close to crossing that barrier, by telling her how he truly felt, but fate is a funny thing, and sometimes plays tricks on you. As far as Diego was concerned, fate was not being kind.
"Thank you Victoria! I suppose I am a bit tired. I was up half the night with Felipe. He wasn't having a very good night!" He momentarily paused and gazed into her warm eyes and smiled. He slightly blinked and gathered the saddlebag in his arms looked at her resolutely.
"I need to give this medicine to him right away! The sooner he takes it, the quicker he'll recover." He responded earnestly.
He reached into the saddlebag and retrieved the small bottle that Dr. Hernandez had given him that contained the crushed herb leaves and petals and handed it Victoria. He requested that she make a tea from this for Felipe.
"Of course Diego. I'll be back in few minutes." She replied warmly and smiled.
"Thank you Victoria! I really appreciate that! It really means a lot to me to have you here, even if it is at Dr. Hernandez's advice." He replied resolutely.
"Diego, you know I would gladly stay here and help you whether it was under anyone's advice or not. If there is anything you ever want or need, all you have to do is ask!" she responded warmly, gazing into his eyes and smiling.
As Diego stood gazing into Victoria's eyes he could feel his heart slightly flutter as she gazed back at him with those deep dark impenetrable eyes of hers. He was suddenly yanked from his quixotic reverie by the gruff clearing of Alejandro's throat. He momentarily blinked and looked at Alejandro and slightly blushed.
"I…I'd better give Felipe this medicine!" He slightly stammered. Diego quickly turned and walked into Felipe's room. Victoria slightly blushed and shook her head as she and Alejandro took their things to the kitchen.
Diego retrieved the quinine and other packets from his saddlebag and lay them on the table. He picked up a cup and filled it with water and then measured out a small portion of the quinine powder into the cup and stirred it making sure it was completely dissolved. He walked over to Felipe's bed and gently patted him on his shoulder. Felipe's eyes fluttered open and looked at Diego and slightly smiled.
"I'm sorry to wake you Felipe, but Dr. Hernandez gave me some new medicine to give you!" He said sympathetically.
Felipe weakly signed. "Does this taste better than the other one?"
Diego slightly chuckled. "I wouldn't count on it! But Dr. Hernandez guarantees it will make you feel better!" he replied reassuringly.
He bent over and raised Felipe up and handed him the cup. Felipe took one sip and shook his head and flashed Diego a slightly incensed look and handed him the cup.
Diego looked at Felipe resolutely and shook his head.
"Sorry amigo! But you have to drink it all!" he said somewhat sternly. Handing him the cup back.
Felipe looked at him somewhat pleadingly and shook his head.
"Doctor's orders Felipe!" Diego responded earnestly.
Felipe nodded and reluctantly drank the rest of the medicine and lay back on his pillow. He handed Diego the cup and looked at Diego earnestly.
"When am I going to get well?" he signed
Diego sat down on the side of his bed and put a reassuring hand on his shoulder and sighed and nodded his head.
"Soon Felipe, very soon!" Diego responded looking into his dark eyes. He reached up and felt of his face and looked at Felipe reflectively. Some of the color was starting to come back into his cheeks and that tired look in his eyes was beginning to fade. As Diego looked into his eyes, he could see that faint glimmer of light that was always in Felipe's eyes when he became excited every time he and Diego got together to plan out Zorro's next adventure.
He wished Felipe had the strength to just stand up or even sit up. He knew it was going to take time, but it seemed that time was just moving so slowly. He hoped this new medicine that Dr. Hernandez gave him would bring about an improvement. All he could do was hope and pray.
He looked at Felipe and smiled. "Would you like to hear a story?" he asked amiably.
Felipe's eyes widened and somewhat sparkled at the mention of Diego telling him a story. He nodded and smiled. He touched Diego's hand and made a Z in the air.
Diego chuckled to himself and slightly shrugged his shoulders and shook his head. "You want me to tell you a story about Zorro?" he inquired somewhat surprised.
Felipe shook his head. "One of Zorro's adventures." He signed.
Diego put his hand to his chin and thought for a moment and looked Felipe reflectively.
"Which one?" he inquired. "Zorro has had so many, I've sort of lost count!" he chuckled.
Felipe shook his head and pointed to Diego.
"You want me to choose one?" Diego inquired pointing to himself.
Felipe quickly nodded, his eyes widened with excitement.
Diego laughed and shook his head. "Well, all right! Let's see…." He trailed. He sat for a moment and thought. Suddenly his eyes widened and he looked at Felipe. "I know! Remember the time that father bumped his head and accidentally fell into Zorro's cave and was knocked unconscious?" Diego began.
Felipe smiled and nodded.
"When he woke up he suddenly thought he was Zorro! Well, actually he had been reading Don Quixote. Right away he was going to save the pueblo from injustice! He even called sergeant Mendoza, Sancho Panza. And poor Victoria! He called her Dulcinea! Poor father! He was so confused! And DeSoto had the nerve to throw him jail, thinking he was Zorro! Even Victoria knew he wasn't Zorro. DeSoto was even going to hang my father! Thank goodness Zorro came to the rescue! It was a good thing too that father thought he had dreamed the whole thing! What a relief!" Diego sighed to himself and smiled.
Felipe signed that he thought it was funny when Alejandro carved a Z on the back of the bandit's pants. Diego nodded and smiled.
"That was rather funny!" he chuckled. "The minute DeSoto unmasked my father, and Victoria saw it was him, she fainted dead away! I guess the initially shock was too much for her!" he laughed and shook his head.
Just then Victoria came walking into the room. She saw Diego and Felipe smiling at one another as if they had just shared a joke or secret between them. Diego quickly looked around and smiled at Victoria.
"Did I miss something funny here?" Victoria inquired looking at Diego and Felipe inquisitively.
Diego shook his head and smiled. "Oh…I was just telling Felipe a funny story! I thought he could use some cheering up." He replied as he patted Felipe on the arm and stood up.
Victoria sat the tea on the dresser and looked at Diego. "Here's the tea I fixed Felipe. I hope it works! Now Diego! It's your turn to go get some sleep! You look pretty tired. We can't have you getting sick too!" She replied earnestly as she looked at him affectionately.
Diego looked at Victoria amiably and smiled. He took her hand and tenderly kissed it.
"Thank you Victoria…for so much!" He replied passionately as he gazed into her eyes.
"You're welcome, Diego." She replied slightly blushing. "I'll sit with Felipe while you get some rest!" She added warmly as she lightly caressed his face and smiled.
Diego momentarily held her hand in his and gazed into her eyes. "Victoria…I'll be next door if you need me." He replied somewhat hesitantly. As he started out the room, he took one last glance at her and smiled, and then walked out.
Victoria sighed and shook her head. She adjusted the covers on Felipe's bed, pulling them up, making sure he was warm, and finally pulled up a chair beside the bed and sat down.
"Well Felipe, I guess it's just you and me!" she commented amiably. "You get some rest now!" she patted his hand and smiled. Felipe smiled at her and finally nodded off to sleep.
'Well, guess I may as well get some sleep too.' Thought Victoria as she relaxed in the big cushioned chair and lay her head on the soft padded headrest of the chair. She closed her eyes and dreamed of one day when Diego would finally tell her that he was Zorro.
Diego had just remembered that he had wanted to give Victoria some last minute instructions about giving Felipe his tea. He walked back to Felipe's room and quietly opened the door. He glanced over and saw that Victoria and Felipe had both fallen asleep. He quietly stepped into the room and found an extra blanket on one of the other chairs. He picked up the blanket and gently covered Victoria. He carefully leaned over and lightly kissed her forehead. He noticed that she slightly stirred, but didn't wake up. He quietly walked out of the room and shut the door.
Diego returned to his room, closed his door and stretched out on his bed and sighed and finally fell into a deep restful sleep. Maybe Felipe would be better when he woke up, at least show some improvement. As he slept, he too said a silent prayer for Felipe and a very special one for Victoria.