Chapter 2 – Doubts and break up with Zorro
Author notes: this chapter includes some scenes and dialogues from the show’s episode Like Father, Like Son written by Tim Minear.
xxx Zorro xxx
Los Angeles was always the stage for strange adventures.
“In the first place, señor, you have had enough wine. Sober up during the siesta, and maybe I’ll sell you something in the evening. And secondly, don’t even think, in your wildest dreams, that I could be your señorita!”
Her bold answer was met with catcalls.
“I love when they play hard to get.”
When the men got up from the table and approached her, Victoria started to fear them but did her best not to show it. She backed away, but she felt a wall behind her back. She was trapped. At that time of the day, no one would hear her screams.
“Get your hands off me, or you’ll regret it!” She threatened one of them who had reached to grab her arms.
The desperate scuffle was interrupted by a voice coming from the first-floor balcony.
“Filthy heathens! Remove your hands from the lady! Or I’ll remove them from your wrists!”
Victoria looked at the black-dressed figure with relief. “Zorro!”
The famous bandit swung his legs over the railing and jumped on the chandelier. The problem was that, instead of swinging on it and gracefully jumping off, Zorro hung almost without moving it.
Finally, he let go and fell straight onto the attackers waiting for him. The momentum knocked them off. Zorro stood up and turned to the tavern owner. He bowed gallantly.
“Are you injured, my lady?”
Victoria was stunned and didn’t know how to react. So she shook her head uncertainly.
“Then I dedicate this victory to thy radiance which has kindled my inspiration.” He uttered with a large smile.
However, it was not the end of the fight. The stunned attackers shook themselves and took out their swords. They were petty thugs, so their fencing skills were not great. Compared to them, Zorro easily fought off attacks and launched his own. After a while, the attackers were disarmed and knocked out for good with a fist.
Even if Victoria had any doubts before, she quickly forgot about them. Her hero had saved her again!
She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. However, before anything else could happen, she suddenly heard the door opening, and Diego and Felipe burst in. She blushed and released Zorro, who proudly stood leaning on the sword.
“Will you also try to ruin the honour of my beloved?” Zorro asked.
“No, absolutely not! We are friends and we highly respect the señorita. And we need to tell her an important thing, privately, if you don’t mind, of course.”
Diego approached Victoria and started explaining the situation in a whisper with an apologetic smile. “We saw Zorro hit his head and he started to act weird. I tried to help him, but he escaped. It’s best if I hide him at the hacienda until he feels better or Doctor Hernandez returns.”
Victoria also replied in a whisper, “A hit to his head explains why he was acting so strange. But he protected me, nevertheless. Please hide him and take care of him! If he fell into the alcalde’s hands while he’s like this, it would be a real misfortune. Please, Diego!”
“Calm down! I’ll take care of everything. But you’d better not come to the hacienda for a few days, to avoid raising suspicions.”
Felipe and Diego took Zorro by his arms, and led him through the kitchen door, explaining something quietly to him. Victoria watched them go and caught the glance Diego gave her before the curtains separating the kitchen from the taproom dropped.
After the taverness called Mendoza to arrest the still unconscious attackers, she started cleaning up the overturned furniture and thinking about the events which had just taken place.
“Today Zorro was really weird. He fought well, but usually, he’s much more agile, stronger… I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong, but he was a little… shorter, fatter? The kiss was too short to judge, but I felt like I was kissing my father, not my lover.”
With all the chairs and tables in their places again, Victoria stopped thinking about the strange events of the afternoon. But something about Diego’s glance still bothered her.
“Was he … hurt by what he saw? Disappointed? Why should he be? I’m young and in love, the same as Zorro. We didn’t do anything wrong.”
She sat down and went over the events of the last weeks in her mind. Diego was grateful for her care after the flogging, and several times he brought her a small bouquet of flowers or gave her a book that he had bought with her in mind.
“Well, he also did it before … He was only a grateful friend, right? And he always said something stupid or not serious … never looked straight into my eyes …”
Recently she started realizing he was a handsome man as well. Or to be honest, she was realizing he was a man. Before, she had taken him for granted, considering his compliments or small presents as nice gestures between long-time and close friends without any deeper meaning.
“But he is only my friend. He is, isn’t he?” She wasn’t sure now if it was a statement or an attempt to convince herself.
xxx Zorro xxx
Two days later, Victoria baked Diego’s favourite flan as a pretext for going to the hacienda. She left early in the morning to be back before lunch, which was the busiest time at the tavern.
The birds were singing, the sun was shining brightly in the sky, but it wasn’t hot yet. Near the hacienda, she heard rhythmic beats which intrigued her, so she slowed down.
“What could it be? At such an early hour?”
She dismounted and tied her horse to the fence. She carefully peeked around the corner of the barn. The sight surprised her completely.
“Diego de la Vega on his feet at dawn! And engaged in physical work! That would explain where he has gained so much muscle from.” Victoria concluded.
He was standing sideways to her and did not notice her. Hypnotized, she was staringas shirtless Diego took another piece of wood and chopped it effortlessly. However, here and there, small beads of sweat ran across his skin. Victoria’s eyes tracked one of the drops which started on his neck, ran down his wide chest, his perfectly sculpted stomach and disappeared somewhere under his pants. Even if she had bandaged his back after the flogging some three months earlier, now the view was breathtaking because he was moving.
The spell was interrupted by the appearance of Felipe with a glass of juice.
“Gracias Felipe. I think that’s enough for me today, now it’s your turn. How is my father?” Diego asked his ward.
Victoria did not see the answer signed by the young man because he had his back turned towards her. Troubled and unnoticed, she returned to her horse.
“How could I ever think Diego was not attractive?! He is gorgeous! He could be Zorro if he acted differently.”
However, her perspective on her friend made her a bit sad.
“But Diego is not Zorro. Zorro saved him from the flogging. Why does it have to be like this? Diego is always around, and I see Zorro once in a few weeks. If I have a problem, I turn to Diego. When I am sad, I seek comfort from Diego. My heart beats faster at the sight of Zorro, but every day I wonder if Diego comes to the tavern. It’s so complicated! I wish they were one and the same person, but that’s impossible.”
Pensive, she didn’t notice that she had arrived at the house. One of the servants greeted her, but apologized that none of the patrons could welcome her – Don Alejandro had been feeling unwell for the last couple of days, Don Felipe had gone for a walk, and Don Diego was still asleep.
Victoria frowned thoughtfully.
“But I saw Diego a moment earlier, and he definitely hasn’t been in bed for a long time. Whatever! I’ll leave the cake and come back later.” She told herself.
xxx Zorro xxx
The tavern owner quickly forgot about the whole affair when her hero visited her in the evening with roses and sweet words of love. He tasted right, he kissed her passionately, like usual, and all coherent thoughts ceased to exist in her mind, especially about her friend. He was her man and everything was just right.
xxx Zorro xxx
The next time she saw Zorro, it was two long months later. Two months full of longing and growing doubts about his well-being and her feelings.
Diego, as he did almost every day, spent his siesta with her. Sometimes he was just sitting and editing the newspaper articles in the tavern instead of The Guardian‘s office. Sometimes he was helping her carry the crates of bottles from the cellar or wiping dishes.
Sometimes they were just talking on various topics, and Victoria realized that those “boring” conversations could actually be very interesting. He only started to sound boring when he wanted to lure an unwanted partner out of the company. His real knowledge and passion for helping poor peons with chemistry and inventions were enormous. Victoria definitely started to notice him.
On that particular occasion, he was sitting in the taproom, writing, and Victoria was cutting vegetables in the kitchen. Someone knocked on the back door and slowly opened it.
“Zorro!” The delighted woman whispered with sparks in her eyes. She walked over to him and hugged him tightly. Coquettishly, she asked, “It’s not nice to leave me for that long and not give me a sign of life, Cariño. Won’t I even get a hello kiss?”
A foreign voice replied, “As you wish señorita!”
When his lips touched hers, Victoria immediately realized her mistake. She tried to free herself, but the man was insistent. Fortunately, the curtain rustled and Diego walked into the kitchen in alarm.
“Take your hands off her …” after a second he added hesitantly, “… Zorro!”
The imposter laughed, but still held his prey tightly around the waist and neck. “And who will stop me? You, De la Vega? Don’t make me laugh, coward!”
Diego quickly looked around and reached for a long chopping knife. “Let go of the lady, or I’ll hurt you!”
Victoria didn’t know if she was more scared by the rough hands she felt on her, or worried about her friend’s safety.
“Diego, don’t! Please!”
The imposter pushed Victoria towards the caballero and quickly ran away. Luckily, Diego dropped the knife and caught his friend as they both fell to the floor. Before they rose, they heard the alcalde’s sarcastic comment above their heads.
“Well, well. It seems that you need Zorro to push his own woman into your arms, in order for you to get any. I wonder what the señorita did to him that he decided to ditch her and give her to you.”
A squad of soldiers ran through the kitchen, chasing the fugitive. When everything went quiet, Diego and Victoria got up from the floor and sat on the bench. Tears were streaming down her face and her friend tried to wipe them off with his thumbs.
“Victoria, did he hurt you? Why did Zorro act like that? It’s not like him.”
“Well, I’m not hurt, only my pride is. And it wasn’t Zorro. He was some imposter. I don’t know who he was and why he impersonated him.”
She clenched her hand into a fist and slammed hard against the wall. “How could I be so stupid?!” She regretted it immediately.
Diego took her injured hand and began to gently massage the wrist.
“Calm down, you might have a few flaws, but stupidity is not one of them. He used you and your trust …”
She looked into his eyes and saw only compassion and worry. Maybe deep inside, a little sorrow and uncertainty also, but she wasn’t sure.
“You do not understand.” She muttered.
“So tell me! I am your friend, am I not?”
Victoria sighed and took her hand from his. After a moment of silence, she rested her head on his shoulder, and Diego risked wrapping his arms around her.
“I talked to Zorro once. He told me that he was only afraid of one thing, that I didn’t love him, but his image, his legend, his black mask. So he never told me who he was. And recently, I started to fear he was right. ”
She paused to collect her thoughts and did not notice how the caballero tensed.
The young woman continued, “Every time I see Zorro, I’m grateful that he is alive and in good health. I dream about kissing him and simply being in his arms without worrying about the price on his head. But this is the third time I’ve quite certainly kissed someone else than him. I just seem to throw myself into the arms of any man who resembles him at least a little and wears black clothes!” She chided herself.
Diego tried to save their relationship. “Maybe, if you saw him more often, you wouldn’t be mistaken anymore? Give yourself some credit!”
She sighed. “Maybe, or maybe not. The worst thing is the uncertainty. The first time was when he rescued you from the flogging. It wasn’t a big difference, I didn’t notice anything then. But now I’m not so sure. The second time was when he hit his head and you hid him in the hacienda, but the real Zorro visited me two days later, and I swear it was him on that occasion, and you hid someone else. And today is the third time. He was definitely not Zorro. My heart should have seen the difference right away. I have no right to play with his feelings anymore. It is not fair to him.”
Diego didn’t know if he was more pissed off with Felipe for kissing Victoria or heartbroken that he was right about his fears.
He felt he must let her go. “If you feel this way, break up with him and find your happiness with someone else!”
“Thank you, Diego. You are a good friend and always around when I need you.”
She kissed him lightly on the cheek and snuggled more in the safety of his arms. He tried to glue the pieces of his heart together, and not let her know that his dreams had just been shattered.
xxx Zorro xxx
Felipe excitedly burst into the cave and started signing chaotically. However, his initial enthusiasm faded when he saw a half-empty bottle of whiskey standing on the desk in front of drunk Diego.
“Yes, I know, there was a man in the pueblo dressed as Zorro. I don’t know why he disguised himself or if they caught him. Honestly, I don’t care.”
A concerned young man pointed at the bottle and his mentor.
“Why am I drinking? Let’s see…”
Diego started counting his fingers. “My own son, I mean you. My own son broke my direct request and saved me from the flogging. I forgave you for that, it gave me a strong alibi. But!”
Second finger. “Today I found out that my own son, I mean you, kissed my woman, and she didn’t notice the difference at the time. And since I know perfectly well what happens when Zorro kisses Victoria, I’m not thrilled about it.”
Felipe turned pale, then red, and then pale again. He started apologizing and explaining, but Diego didn’t even look at him. He stuck his third finger out. “For this I can forgive you also. You are young, Victoria is a beautiful, passionate woman, and you tried to keep the secret safe. But one thing I’ll never forgive myself for is losing her to the legend of Zorro.”
Diego emptied the whole glass in one gulp and put it on the table. Felipe cautiously walked over and pushed the bottle away from his father.
“What will I do? Well, I’ll break up with her as Zorro. As Diego, I will continue to be her best friend, of course. I will torture myself every day, seeing her, helping her, being near her, but remaining fully aware she is out of my reach. And one day, maybe I’ll even walk her down the aisle towards some lucky man.”
“When will I break up with her? What day is today? February 6th? Perfect. So I will break up with her in a week.”
Felipe was not thrilled with the turn of events, but preferred not to ask for details. He knew that now he had to protect Zorro from mistakes that could be fatal. Diego had to regain his peace of mind in order to move on.
xxx Zorro xxx
7 days later, on February 13, Diego and Felipe were sitting together in the cave again.
“Did you deliver Zorro’s letter?”
Felipe playfully straightened to attention and saluted.
“Great! Zorro will meet Victoria this evening and set her free.”
The young man showed signs – drinking, eating and dancing. He looked with hope at his parent. He was sure that it was the perfect opportunity for Diego himself to win Victoria’s heart.
“Come on, Felipe! I’m not going to the Valentine’s Day Party! I’m not in the mood. I’ll tell my father that I have a headache.”
The mute folded his arms across his chest and glared at the older man. He pointed towards himself, then towards the hanger in which Zorro’s outfit hanged, and drew a soldier sign.
“You will lure the soldiers from the pueblo as Zorro, so I can talk to Victoria in peace? But I have to go to the party?”
Diego had been apathetic lately, so he didn’t care. The drinking never happened again, but he continued to suffer from heartache.
“All right. You win! I will go, but only because you ask me to.”
xxx Zorro xxx
Meanwhile, Victoria was in a completely opposite mood. Of course, her heart was bleeding because of her affection for Zorro. But since she had made her decision in Diego’s arms a week earlier, she felt her soul lighter.
For a long time already, since the flogging, she began to see something different in her friend. He slowly occupied more and more of her thoughts, every day. She began to truly appreciate his presence, help, warm smile, support, and conversations. She realized there was a side of him no one else had, apparently, noticed. Everyone, Victoria included, had always dismissed him as a coward, but his actions said differently. For example, during a siege, he had rescued a boy; later, in the plaza, he stopped a furious bull with a broom. There was definitely more to Diego than most people were able to see.
“Well, a picture of half-naked Diego chopping wood is also not something that is easy to forget.”, She thought and blushed. She had never kissed Diego, but his mere smile made her heart beat faster now. Absent for over two months, the black-masked hero gave way to a handsome caballero in her dreams.
Victoria was determined to break up with Zorro that evening, knowing he’d come to her as per his note, and then she would have fun at the annual Valentine’s Day party the next day. That’s why she baked small, heart-shaped cookies with pink frosting, and cooked a mountain of enchiladas and tortillas for her patrons to enjoy the following day.
xxx Zorro xxx
They stood, facing each other, in uncomfortable silence. Suddenly, they started saying “I want to tell you something.”
Both chuckled and the mood lightened a little.
“Zorro, I know your fear, and I think you were right. I see you so rarely that I can’t always tell if the masked man is you or someone else. That’s why I think the only right thing is to break up.”
“I understand. If I tell you who I am today, will you change your mind?”
Victoria vehemently denied it. “No, please don’t do that! Both of us deserve happiness and true love.”
The renegade was confused. “Do you have someone in particular in mind?”
“Yes.” Her answer was firm, although a single tear ran down her cheek.
Zorro wiped it off gently. “Will I be too bold if I ask for a goodbye kiss?”
She smiled and then their lips met. It wasn’t such a hectic kiss as they normally shared. This time they both tried to savour their last intimate encounter.
- Kissing Zorro… or someone else (Valentine’s Day Challenge) Chapter 1
- Kissing Zorro… or someone else (Valentine’s Day Challenge) Chapter 2
- Kissing Zorro… or someone else (Valentine’s Day Challenge) Chapter 3