Disclaimer: All the characters in this story, except for Valentino Vargas and Pedro Pico, belong to the New World Zorro Productions. Valentino Vargas and Pedro Pico, are characters from a Johnston McCulley story, from the latest book, [Blatant Plug] "Johnston McCulley's Zorro The Master's Edition, Volume One." The characterizations of Pico and Vargas, are from my imagination however, but the names of the characters, belong to McCulley.
Author's Note: I was inspired to write this piece, after watching one of my Zorro episodes, and after reading a fanfiction story called, "Little Cupid" by Nikki, one of many, very talented Zorro fanfiction writers. This takes a different twist than her story, but I hope that you enjoy reading it, just the same.
Diego tossed and turned, all night. It was another restless night, for Diego. All week long, he had been wrestling with the decision, to tell Victoria, that he was Zorro. How could he tell her, that he was the one, who she was really in love with, instead of this masked hero, who had suddenly come into her life, and stolen her heart. A masked hero whom he created.
For that matter, who was he anyway? Was he Don Diego de la Vega, the son of Don Alejandro de la Vega, the wealthy and respected caballero, or was he the infamous Zorro, righting wrongs, fighting oppression and tyranny, who stole intimate fleeting moments, with the woman he loved. Sometimes he often wondered, about the answer to that question. It was a question, that seemed to plague him, and rob him, of a restless sleep. Tonight, was one of those nights.
It was the same dream, that he had been having, for several nights now. He had just rescued Victoria, from some bandits, who were chasing her in her wagon, as she was taking her money for the tavern, to the bank. The wagon had overturned, and he had carried her to the cave, for safety. But this dream, was different. He could see himself kneeling before her, and listening to her, telling him to let her see the real man, behind the mask. As he lifted his hands to remove the mask, to his horror, the mask would not come off. It was as if it had become a part of his face.
Diego quickly sat up in his bed, his heart pounding, his breathing heavy, and beads of sweat forming on his face. Even his nightshirt clung to his skin, as he felt the sweat run down his back. Diego reached up and wiped the sweat from his face. He flung the covers aside, and sat on the side of his bed. Shaking his head, he ran his fingers through his coal black hair, and heaved a weary sigh. 'Have I been Zorro so long, that Diego de la Vega, no longer exists?' Out loud, he whispered to himself.
"I may be Zorro, but I'm also Diego de la Vega!" he said striking his fist on his knee, as he gritted his teeth. "I'm going to show Victoria, that I'm the one she really loves! I'll show her that Diego de la Vega, is really Zorro, and maybe father too!"
The next morning, as Diego walked into the diningroom, Alejandro sat his china coffee cup down on the saucer, and looked at Diego with concern. The look on Diego's face gave him good reason. He had dark circles under his eyes, and he looked as if, he had the weight of the world, on his shoulders, which at the moment, could have been true, considering, his present condition. Diego slowly walked over to the table, and sat down. He leaned back in his chair, and managed a half smile.
"Good morning, father." he said, trying to sound cheerful. "How are you, this morning?"
"Good morning, Diego. I'm fine. However, I'm not so sure about you." replied Alejandro, with a discerning look.
Diego leaned forward, picked up the china coffee pot, and poured himself a cup of coffee. He took a small heap of sugar, and sprinkled half of it into his coffee, and slowly stirred it with his coffee spoon. He glanced up at Alejandro, with a curious look.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"You don't look well, Diego." Alejandro remarked, worriedly.
Diego took a drink of his coffee, and sat his cup down on the saucer. He gave a slight sigh, and looked at Alejandro.
"I didn't get much sleep last night." he stated, with a discontented look.
"What troubles you son? Is there something that you would like to talk about?" he asked, earnestly.
Diego shook his head. "I'm all right, father. I've just had a lot on my mind lately." he replied, with slight smile.
At that moment, Maria walked in the room, with their breakfast, on a sliver serving tray. She placed before Diego, a warm bowl of oatmeal, a small pitcher of cream, and some sugar and cinnamon, on the side. She also placed on the table, a small plate of toast, and some butter and honey on the side. For Alejandro, she gave him his usual eggs and sausage. She sat a large pitcher of juice on the table, for both of them. When she had finished serving them, she looked at them and smiled.
"Is there anything else, Senores?" she asked, warmly.
Diego shook his head. "No, gracias, Maria. It looks delicious." he remarked, smiling.
"Gracias, Don Diego. I want you to eat, all your breakfast, Don Diego. You haven't been eating well, lately. A young caballero like you, needs to eat a decent meal, to keep up your strength." Maria stated sternly.
Diego chuckled, and shook his head. "I promise, I'll eat everything, Maria. Don't worry!" he smiled.
Maria looked at Alejandro, as she motioned to Diego. "You make sure he does, Don Alejandro." she slightly admonished.
Alejandro nodded. "I will, Maria. Gracias. That will be all." he replied, smiling.
Maria smiled, and slightly bowed. "De nada. Enjoy your breakfast." She turned, and walked back, to the kitchen.
Diego sighed, and slightly smiled. "Sometimes, she still treats me, like I'm twelve years old!" he remarked.
Alejandro nodded, and looked at Diego warmly. "Be patient with her Diego. After all, she's been with us, ever since you were just, a little boy. She worries about you, and cares about you, just as much as I do." he replied.
Diego sighed, and looked at Alejandro affectionately. "I know. Thank you father. I appreciate your care, and concern, and Maria's as well." he stated warmly.
Alejandro smiled. "Diego, you're my son, and I love you. Why wouldn't I be concerned and care about you?"
Diego nodded. "I love you too, father." He replied compassionately. He briefly glanced around the room, and noticed Felipe's absence.
"Father, where's Felipe?" he asked curiously.
"Oh, Maria needed some fresh eggs, and sent him to go collect some, from the chicken house." Replied Alejandro. He took a bite of his eggs, then wiped his mouth.
Diego nodded. He prepared his oatmeal, and then began eating, his breakfast.
They quietly ate their breakfast, and when they had finished, Felipe walked into the diningroom, and smiled, as his two patrons, and benefactors rose from the table. Diego looked at him, and smiled.
"Buenos dias, Felipe. Did you get Maria, plenty of eggs?"
Felipe nodded, and smiled.
"Bueno!" replied Diego. "By the way, Felipe, I'm going to town. If father doesn't have any plans for you, you can go with me." he remarked.
Alejandro put a kind hand on Felipe's shoulder. "Well, actually Diego, Felipe is going with me." he stated.
Diego looked surprised. "Where are you going?" he asked.
"Don Esteban just bought a new herd of cattle, and wanted to show me. He even offered, to let me buy one his bulls, if I liked, what I saw. I wanted Felipe to go with me, in case I decided to buy one. I thought he could help me, bring it home." stated Alejandro.
Diego nodded, in approval. "Bueno." he smiled, looking at Felipe. "You'll probably enjoy that, more than, going to town. Just make sure, that Don Esteban, gives father a decent price, on his bull!" he slightly chuckled.
Alejandro shook his head. "Don't worry, Diego. I think I can handle, Don Esteban." he stated earnestly. "By the way, Diego, maybe when we get back, we can have that talk." He added, putting his hand on Diego's arm.
Diego nodded. "Maybe." He replied, gazing at his father intently. "Be careful you two." he added.
Alejandro nodded. "We will." He replied.
Diego grabbed his coat, and followed his father, and Felipe, out the door. They walked to the stables, and helped Miguel saddle the horses. Instead of saddling his palomino mare, as usual, a bit of levity, flowed through Diego, as he walked over to the black mare in the stall, next to his horse. He looked over at Miguel, and smiled.
"Miguel, I'm going to ride Angel to town, instead." he stated, as he took the bridle, and halter off the rack.
"Si, Senor." replied Miguel. Miguel finished helping Alejandro, saddle his mare Dulcinea.
Diego adjusted all the straps, on her bridle and halter, then led Angel out of the stable, and tied the reins to a hitching ring, while he groomed her. He had chosen the right name for this horse, for she was as gentle as a kitten, and was as light on her feet, as if you were riding on the back of an angel. Riding Angel, was like flying through the air. She was also as black as Toronado, and was just as independent. 'Just like another dark haired female I know.' he smiled at that thought.
He had hoped that one day, he would breed Toronado with Angel, and maybe even raise another little Toronado. But that was in the future. For now, Diego just wanted to give Angel a little recognition. Aside from the obvious difference between Toronado and Angel, Angel had a white star on her forehead, that was covered, by her forelock.
After he finished grooming her, he carefully placed the saddle on her back, and made sure all the straps were fastened and the saddle was firmly in place.
"All ready girl?" he asked, patting her neck.
Angel gave a small nicker.
Diego unhitched her, and threw the reins over her head. He quickly mounted, and trotted her out of the paddock. He said good-bye to Felipe, and his father, and rode to the pueblo.