Welcome to Victoria's Tavern

Parte Uno

Nancy J. Smith

Author's Note:I am not the owner of these characters. They are owned by the Family Channel's New World Zorro. I am merely using them for the sole purpose of my story and the fact that I have fun taking characters out of their ordinary settings and putting them in settings that you normally wouldn't see them in. Not to worry however, I plan on treating them with the dignity and respect they rightfully deserve and return them just as they were before I borrowed them.

Memo: The story you are about to read is loosely based (and I emphasize the word loosely!) on the episode entitled "Rain." For the purposes of my story I have updated the characters to fit the scenario. Enjoy!

It was hotter than Hades in the small pueblo of Lost Angeles. People were mopping their brows every 5 minutes and wringing out the sweat that was pouring down from their faces. Even Ignacio DeSoto, the attending Alcalde who always prided himself on having an exemplary appearance, sat back in his chair at his desk in sheer exhaustion with the jacket of his uniform completely unbuttoned, rapidly fanning himself trying to cool off. Sergeant Mendoza his aid and sometimes confidant, sat partially semiconscious by the open window waiting for the next small breeze to come wafting in any moment.

"Madre de Dios! I cannot believe how hot it is!" said DeSoto grimacing as he kept fanning himself. He glanced over at Mendoza who still had his head glued to the open window waiting for another breeze.

"OHHHH mi Alcalde!" Mendoza moaned. "I think I am dying!"

Ignacio flashed Mendoza a snarling look. "Shut up you imbecile! You're not dying!" he grumbled. "Dios! The things I have to put up with in this God forsaken pueblo! Deliver me!" he exclaimed as he shook his head in disgust.

Even a few stray dogs and cats that sometimes frequented the pueblo lay prostrate on the harsh rough dirt panting heavily, secretly hoping that some kind human would take pity on them and douse them with a bucket of water. Occasionally another small breeze would spontaneously blow over them or whoever came slowly trudging across the plaza giving a small but welcome relief. Yes, it was truly and unmercifully hot!

The de la Vegas and their young servant boy Felipe decided to escape the heat of the hacienda by making a trip to the pueblo and taking refuge in the local tavern owned by the lovely and effervescent Victoria Escalante. However considering how hot it was, Victoria was feeling neither lovely nor effervescent as she plunged a rag into a pan of semi cool water and splashed it upon her face, letting the rivulets of water trickle down her face and neck.

Victoria let the rag momentarily rest upon her face and slowly peeled it away and glanced around just in time to see Diego, Felipe, and Alejandro briskly walk into the tavern. Her eyes widened with surprise as she noticed how crisp and fresh they looked compared to her other patrons whose clothes were plastered to their bodies from sweat and were either sitting sprawled in their chairs or slumped over on the tables from sheer heat exhaustion.

"Buenas tardes Don Alejandro, Don Diego, and Felipe!" Victoria greeted as she took her rag and mopped the sweat pouring down from her face. "What brings you to town on this devilishly hot day!" she replied as she managed a smile.

Diego being the ever consummate gentleman, flashed a gallant smile and walked up to Victoria and kissed her hand.

"My Victoria, you're looking rather uh... .HOT!" Diego replied jokingly as a big grin stretched across his face. Felipe and Alejandro quickly put their hands over their mouths to hide the grins that were slowly creeping across their faces.

Victoria slightly rolled her eyes and shook her head and responded with a half smile. "Very funny Diego!" she replied half-heartedly as she brushed a strand of hair from her face.

Alejandro stepped up to the bar and gave it a hearty slap with his hand. "Say Victoria, what do you have on tap for a couple of very thirsty caballeros and this young boy here?" Alejandro inquired casting a gentle smile at Victoria.

Victoria released a heavy sigh and cast a resolute look at her three friends. "Just one moment, I'll go see what I have. Why not take a seat and I'll bring it to you." She replied smiling.

Alejandro grinned broadly at Victoria and then motioned for Diego and Felipe to sit down. "Well, you heard the lady, let's go find a table." He replied decidedly.

Alejandro, Diego and Felipe glanced around and then quickly found an empty table and sat down.

Victoria soon returned with their drinks which consisted of a couple of wine bottles and a pitcher of juice for Felipe. As she began setting the glasses on the table, Diego gently grabbed her arm and looked up at her smiling.

"Come on Victoria, sit down and take a load off your feet! How about having a drink with your old friends?" Diego replied warmly.

Victoria returned a weary smile and nodded resolutely. "Oh thank you Diego!" she sighed with relief. "I don't mind if I do!" she replied decidedly. Victoria promptly sat down. She briefly glanced around the table and noticed that she needed an extra glass.

"Oh dear! I need another glass!" she sighed somewhat dismayed.

Diego smiled and gently patted her hand. "Not to worry Vicky! I'll just send Felipe to get one." He replied gazing warmly into her eyes. He momentarily turned to Felipe and held up a cup and pointed to the bar.

"One more glass please Felipe!" he stated smiling. Felipe rose from his chair and dashed off to retrieve an extra glass for Victoria. He quickly returned and sat the glass in front of her and sat down, never even breaking a sweat. Victoria looked at him in amazement and shook her head.

Diego momentarily cast a concerned look at Victoria. "What's wrong Victoria?" he inquired earnestly.

Victoria poured herself a drink and looked at Diego hesitantly. "Say Diego, how is it that everyone else is just practically dying ofheat and you, Alejandro, and Felipe aren't even sweating!" She replied curiously as she took another glance around the tavern and then at her three friends.

Diego shook his head and slightly shrugged his shoulders and looked at Alejandro and Felipe who in turn did the same.

Alejandro looked at Victoria and smiled. "Beats me Victoria! Maybe it's the power of the mind over the body. For example, if you believe it's hot, then it's hot! If you believe it's not then it's not! We just refuse to believe that it's hot. That's why we aren't bothered by this heat and you are!" Alejandro responded resolutely.

Diego spoke up. "Father is right! You can train your mind to believe in whatever you want to believe. Just think cool thoughts, and before you know it, you'll feel fresh as a daisy!" Replied Diego smiling.

Victoria looked at Diego as if he was slightly touched in the head and shook her head. "I don't know Diego! I've been trying to think of cool thoughts all day, and it hasn't worked for me!" she replied looking somewhat downcast.

Diego put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and smiled. "Perhaps your not trying hard enough! Maybe you just need a little help!" he replied compassionately. He momentarily glanced at Alejandro and Felipe and winked.

Victoria looked at Diego somewhat cautiously. "What do mean I'm not trying hard enough?" she inquired curiously.

Diego looked at Victoria resolutely. "The trick is, to completely convince yourself that it's not as hot as it seems. First of all, you have to clear your mind of everything else around you and focus on what it is you're trying to do." Diego explained.

Victoria cast a curious look at Diego as she looked at him intently. "How do I do that Diego?" she inquired earnestly.

"The first step, is to relax! Just clear your mind and relax!" Diego instructed

"This should be easy!" responded Victoria decidedly. She sat back in her chair and closed her eyes and released a long sigh.

Diego watched intently as Victoria closed her eyes and sighed. "You have to be completely relaxed! Don't think of anything else!" Diego stated quietly.

As Victoria sat back in her chair with her eyes closed, she let her head slowly drop to her chest and then slowly relaxed her shoulders letting them slightly drop down. Soon her arms and hands rested limp in her lap.

Diego eyed Victoria intently as he watched her body seemingly go limp. "Ok Victoria. Are you completely relaxed?" He queried quietly.

She muttered something that sounded like a "yes." Diego gently picked up her hand and noticed it was completely limp. He carefully placed it back in her lap.

He flashed a surprised look at Alejandro and Felipe and shook his head. "Wow, that was fast!" he whispered.

"Ok, all you have to do is think of nice... cool.... thoughts! Think about a cool breeze blowing in the wind. Think about jumping into a cool mountain lake and splashing around. Or standing under a small waterfall as it cascades down the mountain with gentle breezes blowing all around. Think about a cold winter's day with snowflakes blowing all around." Diego replied soothingly.

As Diego's descriptions drifted into Victoria's mind she could actually feel herself becoming cooler and cooler as his voice echoed softly in her mind. She could actually see herself splashing about in a mountain lake and standing under a waterfall letting the water splash all around her. She could even see herself standing in the snow letting the snowflakes blow across her face and through her hair.

'Diego was right!' she thought. 'This is amazing!'

Just a Diego was about to bring Victoria out of her "trance," Alejandro looked up and suddenly saw a glint of mischief come into his eyes. His eyes briefly widened and was about to speak when Diego put his finger to his lips and quickly silenced him. Diego quietly rose from his chair and instructed Alejandro and Felipe not to say a word. Alejandro and Felipe looked at one another with curiosity and then nodded to Diego.

Diego momentarily walked back into the kitchen and soon returned carrying a small bucket behind his back. As he positioned himself behind Victoria, Alejandro suddenly gave Diego a stern look and shook his head. Diego leaned over and softly whispered into Victoria's ear.

"Victoria, when I count to three, I will snap my fingers and you will wake up feeling completely refreshed. Do you understand?" he inquired earnestly.

Victoria slowly nodded.

"Ok, one.....two....." Diego positioned the bucket over her head. " ....three!" SPLASH!!!

Victoria suddenly jumped up out of her seat and turned to give Diego a very searing look! The moment Diego saw the expression on her face he suddenly burst out laughing.

Victoria wiped the hair from her eyes and looked down at her clothes and then back at Diego.

"That was a dirty trick de la Vega!" she responded angrily as she stood clinching her hands into fists at her sides.

Diego wiped the tears from his eyes and grinned smugly. "Well, I said you'd wake up feeling refreshed!" he replied resolutely.

Victoria scowled at him and grumbled. "You said refreshed, not WET!"

Diego looked at her compassionately and smiled. "Oh I'm sorry Victoria! I just couldn't resist! The temptation was just too great!" he chuckled.

Victoria looked over at Alejandro and flashed a stern look at him. "Did you know anything about this?" she inquired earnestly pointing an accusing finger at Diego.

Alejandro threw up his hands and shook his head. "Don't get me involved in this! It wasn't MY idea!" he responded innocently.

Just then DeSoto and Mendoza came lumbering through the doors and looked over and saw Victoria's rather disheveled appearance.

"Madre de Dios! Seņorita Escalante, what happened to YOU?" Replied DeSoto, with a surprised look on his face.

Victoria's eyes stayed viciously glued on Diego as she prepared to give her answer.

"Diego dumped a whole bucket of water on me!" snapped Victoria.

Diego cast a defensive look at DeSoto. "Really Alcalde, I was just having a bit of fun with Victoria!" he replied earnestly.

"Well I didn't think it was very funny!" responded Victoria bitterly. "Now I have to go change my clothes!" she grumbled. Victoria immediately turned and stormed off toward the stairs.

The Alcalde glared at Diego and looked at him with a haughty expression. "Really de la Vega! I can't believe you'd take advantage of Seņorita Escalante like that!" he exclaimed.

Diego shook his head and dashed off after Victoria. "Victoria, just a minute!" he pleaded.

Victoria momentarily turned on the fourth step and cast an icy stare at Diego. "Start talking, you're minute is quickly turning into a second!" she snapped.

"Victoria, I said I was sorry! I promise I'll never do that again, cross my heart! Replied Diego compassionately as he made the sign of a cross over his heart and held up his right hand. As he flashed his dazzling deep blue eyes at her with an apologetic gaze, Victoria knew right away that she was putty in his hands.

Victoria put her hands on her hips and sighed as her eyes slightly softened, and looked at Diego earnestly.

"Well...all right Diego!" she replied decidedly. "But don't you ever pull a trick like that on me again, do you understand?" She responded pointing a sentencing finger at Diego.

Diego looked at her earnestly and nodded. "Oh I promise Victoria! You have my word of honor as gentleman!" He responded resolutely.

"Ok, since you put it that way, I forgive you!" Replied Victoria decisively. "By the way Diego, this was my favorite dress!" she responded holding out the skirt of her dress.

Diego sighed and shook his head. "Madre de Dios! How can I ever make it up to you?" he inquired somewhat remorsefully.

Victoria paused and put her finger to her chin and thought for a moment. Her eyes quickly lit up as an idea suddenly popped into her mind. "Diego, do you think you could get me a date with Zorro?" Victoria queried excitedly.

Diego scratched his head and cast a remitting look at Victoria. "Oh gee, I don't know Victoria! That Zorro is a pretty elusive character! That's a pretty tall order!" Diego replied earnestly.

Victoria looked at Diego resolutely. "Oh please Diego! Please! Please! Please! I mean it's the least you can do after you pulled that mean trick on me!" she responded anxiously.

'Being Zorro sure can be a pain sometimes!' Diego thought. Diego looked at Victoria slightly confused. "Say Victoria, why are asking ME to get you a date with Zorro?" he queried.

Victoria looked at him resolutely. "Well, you're the only one who seems to have connections to Zorro! I mean, since you seem to know Zorro so well, I just thought that maybe you could ask him if he would like to go out with me. Oh come on Diego! It couldn't hurt!" Victoria replied earnestly.

"Well...all right! I'll see what I can do!" Replied Diego sincerely.

Victoria practically threw herself at Diego and smothered him with kisses. "Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!" she squealed as she hugged him around the neck. "I knew I could count on you Diego!" She replied smiling.

Diego put his hands upon her shoulders in a reassuring gesture and smiled as he looked into her dark eyes.

"Now Victoria, I said I'd see what I could do! I'm not making any promises!" replied Diego earnestly.

Victoria gave Diego's cheek a slight tweak and smiled. "Oh Diego! You always say that, and you always come through! You're such a good friend!" Victoria replied cheerfully. With that, she quickly bounded up the stairs and disappeared into her room.

Diego shook his head and sighed with dismay. "Yea right!"

As Diego walked back over to his table, DeSoto quickly noticed the dejected look on his face and immediately confronted him.

"Diego, why the long face! Did the seņorita give you the cold shoulder?" He chuckled smugly.

Diego momentarily looked up at DeSoto and shook his head and slightly smiled.

"Oh...not really! Actually she was quite amiable." He replied as he took out his handkerchief and wiped the rouge from his cheeks where Victoria had kissed him.

Mendoza noticed Diego wiping his face and flashed a smug look at DeSoto. "Mi Alcalde, I think the seņorita has a slight crush on Diego!" he commented resolutely.

DeSoto's eyes immediately lit up with surprise and a slight grin crossed his lips. "Diego, is that true? Does Seņorita Escalante have a crush on you?" he inquired tauntingly.

Diego stuffed his handkerchief back in his pocket and cast an astute look at the two men and smiled.

"Seņorita Escalante is an extremely charming young woman and very affectionate too! Sometimes she gets a bit too affectionate! But I would hardly say that she has a crush on me! We are just merely good friends!" Replied Diego resolutely.

DeSoto and Mendoza looked at one another with smug looks and nodded. "Whatever you say Diego!" retorted DeSoto jeeringly. He and Mendoza walked over to a table and sat down.

Diego had no sooner sat down with his father and Felipe, when suddenly four very despicable, grubby-looking hombres came busting through the door, shooting their pistols into the air; shouting and hollering as they stormed into the tavern.

They were causing such an uproar that some of the patrons who were passed out at their tables, suddenly shot their heads up and looked around in surprise just to see what all the commotion was about and immediately dove under their tables for cover. Victoria who had just finished changing her clothes, heard the raucous going on downstairs and quickly dashed out of her room and ran downstairs to see who was causing such a disturbance in her quaint little tavern.

As the shots rang out, Mendoza, upon quickly assessing the situation, immediately dove under the table and hid from sight. DeSoto's eyes narrowed and he muttered a few expletives under his breath as he flashed an admonishing look at Mendoza as he looked at him shivering with fright under the table.

The moment Victoria saw what was going on, she immediately raced behind the bar, picked up her double barreled shotgun and quickly shot it into the air.

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