Felipe walked outside. The land stretched out before him with no end in sight. There was light, but he could see there wasn't a sun. He looked back at the hut and saw it was the only one there. He thought about going back in, but turned around and walked away instead.
The voice made Diego jump.
"I came as soon as I heard."
Diego stood up and embraced her.
"Thank you for coming," he whispered.
"I'll always be there for you and your family."
She moved her head so she could see Felipe.
"No. The doctor said he could be like this for hours, days, weeks..."
Diego's voice trailed off.
"He'll be fine."
Diego nodded and silently thanked her for her support. He sat back down and Victoria walked over to Felipe. She touched his cheek and looked at him thoughtfully before pulling up a chair next to Diego. She lay her hand on Diego's arm and he instinctively put his over hers.
Felipe had no idea how long or how far he had walked. Yet every time he looked back, the small hut was the same distance behind him. He scowled at it and wished it would change.
"Hard to leave the past behind, isn't it?"
Felipe jumped at the voice and looked around. Zorro stood several feet in front of him.
"Close enough," Zorro answered.
"If you're not Zorro, then who are you?"
"We felt it would be easier if you had something familiar to guide you in this difficult time."
Zorro bowed his head.
"I am here to guide you through your life. It's not as bad as you think," Zorro said as Felipe looked grim. "Granted, it won't be easy for you. We will review your life with your parents and after the war. Then you can decide if you wish to stay here or move on. Are you ready?"
Felipe sighed. "Ready as I'll ever be."
Zorro stepped forward and withdrew his sword. Felipe moved back as the point went past him. The sword seemed to reach an invisible wall and the scene rippled.
When the scene cleared, it had changed dramatically. There were more huts, some which he recognized. The light started to dim as night slowly approached them. He saw some people he remembered, though they appeared to be younger than he recalled.
"Come," Zorro walked past him.
"But what about - " Felipe looked at the people in the area.
"They can't see or hear us. To everyone but ourselves, we don't exist."
Felipe nodded but still seemed unsure. From inside the small hut, he hear a baby wail and felt a little cold. He saw Zorro walk to the sound, sword still drawn. He didn't seem mindful of the wall and Felipe was about to say something when Zorro's sword touched it. The wall vanished and Felipe blinked when he realized they were inside.
"A healthy baby boy," a woman said.
"Let me see him."
Felipe recognized his mother's voice and saw a woman give her a newborn baby.
"My birth?" Felipe asked in wonder watching mother and child.
Zorro nodded. Felipe could feel the love as the woman held her child close. The midwife smiled at them then left the room. Seconds later, he saw his father enter.
"Meet your new son," the woman said proudly holding the small bundle.
His father knelt down beside her as he looked at his son then his wife. Felipe sensed the warmth and security in their embrace, not from watching the scene, but from the baby's perspective. It unnerved him a little that he could sense through the child. He wondered how it was possible.
"It's you," Zorro explained.
"You feel through yourself."
Felipe was still confused.
"The emotion you're feeling comes from the baby. It's you, therefore you feel what the child feels."
"You can read my mind?"
"No," Zorro assured him. "But I can see the confusion on your face. As this continues, you'll feel more sensations."
Zorro reached forward and touched the scene with his blade. Again the scene rippled and when it cleared, Felipe could see activity though moving at a faster rate than before.
Zorro was right, feelings flooded Felipe as the child grew. From his first step to his first illness he felt everything. He could taste his mother's cooking and heard his father's voice as he told him stories.
The events flashed before him, but he recalled each moment. He remembered all his friends and family. And the good times along with the bad. Most of all, he remembered feeling secure in the small hut.
Then the scene slowed and the atmosphere changed. In the distance he heard a noise sounding like thunder. But he knew the storm headed their way was the deadliest he had ever faced.
He watched with sadness as the family packed what they could. A small boy looked on in wonder and confusion clutching a little bear tightly in his arms. He asked questions, but no one stopped to answer them.
His father looked around then motioned them outside. The boy stood in the center of the hut, afraid to move. He didn't know what was going on, but he felt it wasn't good.
"Son, come on," his father walked to him and grabbed him by his arm.
The small boy watched as the little bear fell to the ground. He tried to reach for it, but his father pulled him away.
"Leave it," is father told him. "We'll come back for it later."
The boy was still reaching out for the small bear as they left the hut.
Felipe walked over to where the bear had fallen and picked it up. He looked at it fondly.
"This was my favorite toy," he said, tears silently streaked his face. "My parents made it for me."
"I know," Zorro walked over to him. He reached out with his blade and scene faded from sight. Felipe fell to his knees clutching the small bear.
"Why?" he sobbed. "Why did you have to show this to me? Why?"
Diego had been nodding off and on. He tried several times to switch his position once in a while in hopes it would keep him awake. But he would catch his head dropping after a few minutes. He looked at his father and Victoria sleeping on the sofa. He leaned closer to Felipe and spoke softly to him.
"Felipe, this is the first chance I've had to speak with you. I hope you can hear me, though the doctor said you might not."
"What's that?" Felipe looked around as the voice filled the air.
Zorro listened. "Diego de la Vega."
Zorro nodded then brought a finger to his lips. "Listen."
"Felipe," Diego said, "if you can hear me, I want you to know there are people here who care for you and love you. I love you. I don't know what would happen if you ... die."
Diego's voice broke on the last word. Felipe felt Diego's pain and this threw him into a dilemma. As he was trying to sort his thoughts and emotions, the ground began to shake.
Diego felt a tear roll down his cheek. He had tried desperately not to cry, but couldn't help himself. He was about to speak to Felipe again, but as he looked at him, horror flooded his eyes.
The noise woke Victoria and Alejandro. They rushed to Diego's side.
"I'll get the doctor," Alejandro said as he ran out the door.
Diego sat back down and watched Felipe. Victoria wrapped her arms around Diego's neck.
"He'll make it," she whispered.
Diego nodded, unable to speak. As he watched Felipe shake violently in bed, he prayed that her words were true.
"What's going on?" Felipe asked trying to stand.
"You're dying," Zorro answered.