"How long was he convulsing?" the doctor asked.
"What?" Diego blinked.
"For a few minutes; it wasn't long," Victoria answered.
The doctor nodded and examined Felipe. He shook his head and sighed.
"What?" Diego looked at the doctor, then Felipe, and back to the doctor. "What is it? What's wrong?"
"I'm afraid it's not good. If he's convulsing, then there's a small chance he'll make it."
Diego's eyes widened and he looked at Felipe again. "No," he whispered.
Diego sat down again. The doctor looked at Alejandro.
"I'll stay in case something happens."
Alejandro nodded and sat next to Diego.
"Perhaps you would like some tea or coffee?" Victoria asked. "I know I can."
"Yes," the doctor looked at the de la Vegas. "Coffee sounds perfect."
After they left, Diego spoke.
"Is this how it was with mother?" he asked.
Alejandro was slightly taken back by Diego's question. Ever since his wife died, Diego had not questioned the event.
"Most of the time."
"Just ... waiting?" Diego looked at his father.
Alejandro could see the strain in his eyes. "Yes, all the time waiting."
"How did you handle it?"
"Desperately prayed that she would get better - "
"But she didn't."
"What did you do then?"
"How did you get over it?"
Diego looked surprised.
"I still miss your mother very much. Not a day goes by I don't think of her."
"But you - "
"Her memory lives in my heart and mind. As long as she's alive in both places, she'll never die."
Diego nodded and turned his attention back to Felipe. He took comfort in his father's answer and knew the same would hold true for him as well.
"I wonder how it was for Felipe?" his father asked.
Diego shrugged. "I don't know. He hasn't told me a whole lot about it and I haven't tried to press him. I think the whole event must have been pretty horrific to cause him so much pain."
Alejandro mumbled agreement and both continued their silent vigil.
Felipe listened to the conversation in awe. He was trying to digest it's content when Zorro touched lightly.
"We must continue," he said.
"But - "
"Come. We don't have time to lose," Zorro looked up.
Felipe followed Zorro's gaze and noticed thick, dark clouds overhead. He looked back and Zorro and was surprised to see Zorro looking worried.
"What are those clouds?" Felipe asked, clutching the small bear tighter to his chest.
"Death. Now come before it's too late."
"But - "
Felipe stood up and followed Zorro. He looked around but nothing was familiar.
"Where are we?" he asked.
Zorro didn't answer, but withdrew his sword instead. The air around them rippled and Felipe braced himself for the scene he knew would lie before him. He squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath.
He remembered very little of the actual war itself; it had all happened so fast and was so confusing. He tried to forget as much of it as possible. Yet the nightmares came and forced him to relive the event in vivid detail.
When Felipe opened his eyes, he saw a different scene. Gone were the ravages of war. The only reminder was the small boy sitting under a tree. Felipe stole a quick glance at Zorro and wondered why he chose not to show the battle.
"What happened to the battle?"
"That part of your life is over. You're new one's beginning."
Felipe shook his head at Zorro's cryptic answer, but watched the scene as it progressed.
Felipe was overrun with emotions. He could feel the loss and confusion the boy felt. He saw Diego walk up to the small child.
His shadow fell on him and the small boy looked up in awe. His first thought was the man was a giant. Yet, he felt unafraid as the man picked him up and carried him away.
Then time sped up. The days flew by as he and Diego went from village to village inquiring about the small child. But as time wore on, it became painfully evident the small child had no place to go. They set off for Los Angeles and the small child had a feeling he wouldn't be coming back.
He remembered first meeting Alejandro and Victoria at the de la Vega hacienda. Felipe felt the awe and wonder steal into the small child's mind as he wandered from room to room in his new home.
Felipe recounted the days filled with lessons and work, but Diego made sure both tasks were enjoyable to the child.
And Diego left for Spain. Felipe felt the emptiness consume him, but Alejandro took over where Diego left off and the time flew quickly again.
Then came the alcalde. Felipe felt the fear in the little boy when they went to greet him. Alejandro wasn't happy either. The mood changed at the hacienda as Alejandro's temper grew short and lessons almost ceased.
But Diego arrived from Spain sooner than expected and filled the small pueblo with hope in a way no one expected. Felipe's happiness at Deigo's return was quickly replaced with the excitement the first time Zorro rode out.
All the adventures flashed through and Felipe felt fortunate of the opportunity he had in his role with helping Zorro.
The montage ended with his pinto throwing him. Zorro reached out and everything faded as the blade touched the scene.
"Now what?" Felipe asked after a moment of silence.
"Now you decide."
Felipe looked up and saw the clouds closing in.
"How much time do I have?"
"Until the sky is full."
"How do I make a decision this important like that?" Felipe snapped his fingers.
"Listen to your heart," Zorro said.
Felipe turned away and thought. He tried to listen to his heart, but the answer was jumbled.
"On one hand, I miss my parents so much. I love them. Can you tell me why they died?"
Zorro thought a moment before replying. "I can't tell you. I'm here to guide you, not them."
"Guide? You just used your sword and pointed. How is that a guide?"
Zorro nodded. "Yes, I can see where that might not seem like much, but tell me this: How much of what you saw and experience now, did you remember before this moment?"
Felipe opened his mouth to answer then closed it. Zorro was right.There were so many things he had forgotten in the course of his young life. He hadn't realized until he saw it.
"Besides, you didn't ask any questions," Zorro added wryly.
"I could have asked questions?"
"Mm-hhmm," Zorro nodded.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"You didn't ask."
Felipe looked at Zorro dumb-founded. Just like the real Zorro, he thought. "Can I ask questions now?"
"By all means."
"What would have happened if my parents had lived and I grew up with them?"
"You would have grown up as a content farm boy in your village."
"What about Los Angeles and the de la Vegas? What would have happened to them?"
Zorro hesitated. "As I told you before. I'm your guide to your life. No one else." Zorro's face clouded briefly then he looked again at the sky. "You need to hurry."
"Can you tell me what will happen if I live?"
"And you can't tell me what will happen if I die?"
"Of course not. Why are you afraid to live?" Zorro asked as Felipe tried to sort out his feelings.
"Because, I lost my parents once. I don't want to lose them again."
"They're dead, not lost."
"What difference does it make? All the years I've spent without them. They shouldn't have died."
"Everything happens for a reason."
"What possible reason could there be to take away a boy's family?"
"Some times the reason's not evident, but it's there."
Felipe glowered at Zorro.
"Are you happy with the de la Vegas?"
"Yes," Felipe answered without thinking.
"What do you mean 'why'? They're like a family to me. They took me in, treated me like one of their own..."
"Than that would leave one to assume they feel the same way about you."
"I suppose so," Felipe frowned and he recalled the conversation he overheard before his accident. "They do. But my parents..."
"Your parents love you. Like the de la Vegas, they want what's best for you."
"What's best for me..." Felipe snapped his head up. "I've made my decision. I want to see my parents."
Zorro glanced up at the sky and nodded. Zorro reached out with his blade and the hut appeared before them. They walked inside. His mother and father were sitting at a small table.
"You made your decision," his mother stated.
Felipe nodded. He gulped hard, but the tightness in his throat made it difficult. His mouth was dry as he barely choked the words out. "I want to live."
"Mijo," his mother slumped, tears brimming in her eyes. "You don't know how happy we are to here that."
"What made you change your mind, son?" his father asked.
"After the war, I thought you were still alive and I prayed and hoped you would find me so we could be a family again."
"But, mijo, we died in the war."
"Yes, I know that - now. But I didn't know it then. I didn't have closure. The de la Vegas are my second family, but I never felt I belonged because I thought you were still alive. I couldn't accept the possibility you were dead. I thought I lost you both, but now I know it can never happen."
"What do mean, mijo?"
"Zorro told me you were dead, not lost. Before that Don Alejandro mentioned his wife was always alive in his head and heart. I, too, feel your love and hold your memories within me."
"Mijo, so young and so wise. We're so proud of you."
His mother nodded.
"That's what I've always wanted to hear you say. I didn't know what you would say of my life now."
"We know what's going on in your life," his father said. "We are proud of you and we love you."
"I love you both."
His mother and father stood and the family embraced.
"I'm going to miss you," he said as they parted.
"So will we - " his mother started.
"I'm called Felipe now," Felipe smiled shyly.
"So you are, mijo, so you are," his mother smiled at him and rubbed his cheek.
"Farewell, son," his father gripped Felipe's shoulder. "We'll be waiting for you, but there's no rush."
"Good-bye, mother, father," Felipe looked at Zorro. "What now?"
"Lie down," Zorro indicated the straw mat. "You'll fall asleep instantly. When you wake up, you'll be in the de la Vega hacienda."
"Will I remember any of this?"
"Some, but it will seem more like a dream."
"But I'll know the truth?"
"In a way. You'll know your parents are dead, but you won't be able to say how you know."
Felipe nodded then went to lay down. The moment his head hit the makeshift pillow he was sound asleep.
The trio watched as Felipe slowly vanished.
"We owe you a great debt," the father said.
"No. He made the decision."
"But this is twice you've helped him," the father said.
"Twice?" the mother asked.
"You don't think Diego de la Vega found him by accident, do you?" Zorro smiled.
The mother looked at the father.
"He answered my prayer," the father explained. "As I lay dying on the battlefield next to you, I prayed our child would be saved. I saw him " - he pointed to Zorro - " and knew everything would work out for the best."
"We do owe you so much," the mother replied.
Zorro shrugged. "It's what guardian angels do. Don't worry, I'll watch over him."
"Thank you," the mother said. "He will lead a good life?"
"I can't tell you what will happen," Zorro hesitated. "But you won't be disappointed."
The mother sighed in relief and looked down. She saw the small bear on the table. "He must have dropped this."
"He dropped it the day we left," the father said. "I told him we would come back for it, but we never did. It was his favorite. Could you give it to him for us, please? It might make him feel better."
"I would be glad to," Zorro bowed.
The moment Felipe closed his eyes, the world evaporated. For a moment he reveled in the events that happened. A part of him felt free and a little sad now that he knew the truth. But he also knew he truly belonged with the de la Vegas.
With this new knowledge, he tried to open his eyes. Pain seared through his body and he tried to locate the source of the pain. Then he remembered his accident and tried to feel for his head, but his arms felt heavy.
"Felipe!" he heard Diego cry.
Felipe winced at the noise and tried to focus on Diego's blurry face.
"Doctor! Felipe's awake!"
Felipe felt hands on him, but didn't struggle. His eyes slowly began to focus on everything.
"He'll live," he heard the doctor say. "He'll be sore for a while. He's to stay in bed for at least a week. Don't let him move around too much for a few days, then let him take things slowly. I'll check on him daily."
He also heard Victoria squeal with delight and Alejandro saying a prayer. Diego stared at Felipe in awe. For a brief moment, Felipe couldn't figure out what the fuss was all about. Then visions filled his head.
He saw Zorro and his parents, but couldn't quite figure the connection. What a strange dream, he thought He'd have to spend more time on it and try to work it out later. But he couldn't shake the feeling that he knew his parents were dead and felt at peace.
"Oh, Felipe," he saw Diego struggle with words.
"Uh, uh," Felipe heard the doctor. "He needs his rest. You'll have all week to talk to him."
"You're right. I'm just glad your alive. I don't know if you realize how close you were to dying."
Felipe nodded. A jolt of surprise hit him when he remembered the choice was his. He wanted to analyze it more, but as quickly as it came, it was gone. He'd have to tell Diego and see if they could make sense of it.
"Come," Alejandro said. "Let's leave him alone for a while. Be careful the next time you're on a horse."
Felipe smiled and tried to nod as best he could. Alejandro looked relieved then turned and left with the doctor.
Victoria came up to Felipe. Felipe was a little surprised to see her, but then again she was almost family. He'd have to talk to Diego later about making it more than almost.
"I'm so glad you're alive. I'll come by everyday and bring you some dinner. Would you like some of my special chicken soup?"
Felipe's smile grew wider and he tried to nod a little more eagerly.
"Good," she bent over and gave him a small kiss on the forehead.
When Victoria left, Diego leaned in closer to Felipe. "You gave us quite a scare. But I'm glad you're alive."
Felipe wanted to tell him about the strange visions and tried to move.
"Do you want to tell me something?"
"Well, we better do as the doctor said. You can tell me when you're feeling better. Rest up now."
Diego turned to leave. He stopped and bent over to pick up something.
"Felipe, is this yours?"
Diego held up a small bear. Felipe looked at the bear in wonder. It reminded him of one he had a long time ago. But that's impossible, he thought. I lost it so long ago. Felipe nodded in spite of his doubts.
"Hmm. Funny. I don't remember seeing it before. You must have dropped it. Here. Sleep well."
Diego placed the bear on the bed next to Felipe. Felipe closed his waiting for sleep to claim him. Zorro flashed in his dreams, saluting as he rode away on Tornado.