|No Deadly Medicine
Author: dlhs8954 PM
NWZ - There's a new doctor in the pueblo, but strange accidents begin to occur soon after his arrival. Can Zorro stop him, or will he fall victim to the strange, but moody Americano doctor? Is his secret identity safe? Will the doctor fall victim to the curse of Hippocrates? Set three months after the end of the series. Rated "T" for intensity.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 28 - Words: 70,295 - Reviews: 90 - Favs: 9 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 09-08-12 - Published: 07-14-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8321654
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: We write for the pure enjoyment of it. We make no money or own any characters or settings. This story is set three months after the end of the series. Zorro's secret is still intact…for the time being. This story was inspired by JAG's Silent Service episode on Munchausen by Proxy (MBP). What would that have looked like in 1822? I love the obscure. In fact, most MBP patients are young mothers with children who crave attention, but about forty years ago I heard that a small percentage of 'Munchie' (that's my term) patients were men – also seeking acclaim and attention – as was the submarine medic on JAG. The condition is named for Baron von Münchausen – a man who always inflated his own importance, embellished his life events to the ridiculous, and sought that attention and acceptance he craved. The title of the story comes from the Oath of Hippocrates. As always, reviews are greatly appreciated! They help us know what we're doing right or wrong – whether ya like it – or ya don't!
A/N2: In watching the series, we noticed that Dr. Hernandez was absent in person (only mentioned a couple of times) in the last two seasons. In the episode entitled "Turning the Tables" a line said "since we're without a doctor in the pueblo at the moment." The only time Hernandez is mentioned in the fourth season (that I remember) is at the end of "An Affair to Remember." So – I wondered where Dr. Hernandez was. I decided to have him retire…and see what happened from there.
NO DEADLY MEDICINE
CHAPTER ONE – The Doctor Retires
"He said what?" Don Alejandro de la Vega could hardly believe his ears. He was sitting in the tavern with Felipe when Mendoza came running up to the table, bursting with the news. It was a half hour before siesta closing time.
"He – he's going to retire! He – he said he's getting old, and he's going to retire!" Mendoza was panting hard from running.
Diego walked into the tavern from the Guardian office. He'd seen Sergeant Mendoza run into the tavern. He had no idea why Mendoza would move so fast, but he quickened his pace, and entered as Mendoza began talking to his father and Felipe. Alejandro was facing the door, and saw Diego enter. He motioned him over.
"Wait a moment, Sergeant. Slow down. Catch your breath. Diego is here and I want him to hear this. Would you say that again, Sergeant Mendoza?"
Mendoza struggled to get his breathing under control. He was still in emotional shock. "Dr. Hernandez! He said he's going to retire soon! He's bringing another doctor in, an Americano from a big city in the East!"
Diego sat down across from Alejandro and Felipe, and motioned Mendoza to sit next to him. Diego put his arm on the sergeant's shoulders, gently, but firmly, massaging his neck with one hand, trying to help him relax. Mendoza's head bobbled back and forth with motion.
"Now Sergeant, tell us again," said Diego. "Who's getting old and going to retire?"
Mendoza's breathing was still slightly out of control, but Diego's ministrations began to calm him. His shoulders relaxed and he was no longer gasping for breath.
"Dr. Hernandez! He was just at the cuartel wrapping Corporal Sepulveda's sprained ankle and he announced he was going to retire! He said he had arranged everything already – for a new doctor to come – an Americano from Boston!" Mendoza's breathing was still deep, but with every breath, he calmed down further.
"That's strange," remarked Diego. "I just saw Dr. Hernandez yesterday. We were talking about new treatments and medical inventions. He didn't say anything to me. I wonder why."
Alejandro thought a moment. "Maybe his mind was more on what you were talking about than his news."
"It's true, he seemed interested in what I was saying, but he kept encouraging me to investigate further. He kept telling me I should pursue it. Maybe that was his way of disengaging himself." Diego thought to himself out loud.
"What else did he say, Sergeant? …Something about an Americano?" Alejandro asked.
"Oh si, Don Alejandro. Dr. Hernandez said he had sent for another doctor already, an Americano from the East…from Boston!"
"I've heard of Boston," mentioned Diego. "It's in Massachusetts, one of the original thirteen colonies that broke from England. I think their current President is from Massachusetts…John Adams, I believe."
Alejandro looked at Diego in amazement. "Son, you never cease to amaze me with how much you know…even if it's pointless information."
Diego rolled his eyes. "Really, Father – I thought you valued the pursuit of knowledge."
Alejandro shook his head. "I value education, Diego, not useless information."
Diego sighed, but did not take offense. "Father, I'll have it known that someday, some of my 'useless information' may prove to be quite valuable – as I will discover…"
Alejandro interjected, "Yes, yes, I know. You will discover…and maybe I will someday have a son who…will give me grandchildren! Ah! Nothing ever changes around here." He gave Diego a look of exasperation, but not anger.
Since the whole business with the Emissary, Alejandro could see growth in Diego – as a man – and he was willing to give him a little more time and space to maybe become the man he always hoped he would be. Whenever Diego showed his encyclopedia side, Alejandro would acknowledge it, strongly tease it, and throw up his hands. Maybe next time, he'll do something different. I know he has it in him. I saw it – that day, Alejandro thought. And if I tease him enough, it will provoke him to drop the act – whatever he's doing the 'act' for – because it has to be an 'act' – he was so different that day, and for a couple of weeks afterwards. I don't understand it.
Victoria came with a plate of tamales for Mendoza. "Here, Sergeant. I know this will help ease your mind – and your stomach." She looked teasingly at Mendoza. "Or should I say 'Alcalde' Mendoza?" Her eyes drifted over to Diego. Their friendship had deepened since the Emissary's death, as Diego shared more of his feelings about his brother with Victoria. She smiled a warm smile, and he returned it.
"Gracias, Senorita Victoria. You are too kind," said Mendoza, as his fork dove into the plate of tamales. "Gracias, but it is still 'Acting' Alcalde – until a new one comes from Spain."
"Well – I hope he will be a welcome change from the last several alcaldes," said Alejandro. "When did De Soto actually leave, Sergeant?"
Between mouthfuls, Mendoza said, "Yesterday. His ship was to leave very early this morning."
"I hate to say 'good riddance' – but…" Alejandro replied.
"Let's hope the new alcalde will finally be someone who will allow Zorro to keep his promise to the Senorita here, eh Victoria?" said Diego.
Victoria smiled dreamily. "That's what I hope for." Me too, thought Diego. And you can finally get those grandchildren you want so badly, Father.
At that moment, Dr. Hernandez stepped into the tavern. He saw Mendoza, and walked over to the table. Victoria remained a moment.
Alejandro spoke first. "Dr. Hernandez! Please – join us!" Alejandro motioned for Felipe to pull up another short bench at one end of the table, to make room for Dr. Hernandez.
"Is there anything you'd like, Doctor?" Victoria asked.
"Just some coffee, if you don't mind, Senorita." said the kindly white-haired doctor. He slowly lowered himself onto the bench beside Don Alejandro.
"I'll get it for you right away," said Victoria. She hurried off to the kitchen because she didn't want to miss much of the ensuing conversation. Once she had returned, she pulled up another short bench to sit at the other end of the table, next to Diego on one side of her, and Alejandro on the other.
Alejandro asked, "Doctor Hernandez, Sergeant Mendoza told us you're thinking of retiring soon. Is that true?"
"Si, Don Alejandro. I'm uh – sorry, Diego – I didn't tell you yesterday. It slipped my mind, and there didn't seem to be a 'right time' to tell you."
Diego nodded. "I totally understand, Doctor. We will certainly miss you around here. You've been such an integral part of our lives – you help us at all our critical moments. When do you plan to retire? I didn't think you ever would, Doctor."
Hernandez got on a wistful expression. "If it weren't for my arthritis, I would never retire. But it's gotten worse. I can't perform surgery. I've counted on you, Diego, to help out quite a bit – and you have…and for that – I am extremely grateful. You know as much as I do about medicine. But I also know that you have to help run the ranch – and you have the newspaper. I knew you couldn't take on a medical practice full-time – so I sent a letter to a medical college in the United States and asked them to send me a doctor."
"Doctor, we have certainly appreciated you dedicating your life to our pueblo and the region," said Alejandro. "When is the new doctor expected to arrive?"
"I received a letter last week. He could actually be here anytime in the next week. He had already left St. Louis. He's coming by coach, rather than by ship."
"What's his name?" Diego asked.
"Dr. Jackson Barton. He's from Boston, Massachusetts, but he spent time training in England, France, and Spain. He is familiar with our language, customs, and current European medicine. He also has a degree from Harvard College, and is up on all the latest treatments and information in the United States. I think you and he will get along famously, Diego."
"I look forward to it," said Diego, with a smile.
That night, Zorro leaped through the window of the tavern's kitchen. Victoria saw him from the corner of her eye, and when she whirled around, there he was.
"Zorro!" she whispered.
"Victoria…I just had to see you tonight. You look lovely, as always. He drew her to him and they shared a passionate kiss.
As they drew a bit apart, Victoria looked up into his eyes. The longing in her heart could not be denied. "Zorro, when are you going to tell me who you are? The alcalde is gone. We can be together. What is stopping us?"
Zorro drew her in for another kiss. "Nothing, mi amor…except for banditos, bounty hunters, and the next alcalde."
"But you said…you promised…" She looked up at him in desperation.
"When we are free, mi amor. When we are free. Until we know about the next alcalde…" His countenance was compassionate, but firm.
"But Zorro…that could be another three to six months!"
"But Querida, there is still a price on my head. I have not been pardoned, nor has the reward been rescinded. Any stranger that comes to the pueblo…it is still too dangerous…"
Victoria's eyes misted up. "Will we never be together? I don't know how much more I can take! I don't know how much longer I can wait! It's been years now! Will your fight never end?"
"There is one way, but it is a very difficult thing to ask of you." Zorro's expression became deadly serious, his eyes burned with intensity.
"What Zorro? I'll do anything! Just ask." Victoria's eyes burned with the same intensity.
"We must break up, and you must learn to love the 'real' me…without knowing, or least not knowing now – who I am. Not until I know for sure…"
"But how can I 'learn' to love the 'real' you – if I don't know who you are?" Victoria looked down, and her voice expressed a level of desperation that made it hard for Zorro to continue.
"You know me, mi amor, you just don't know you know me. You see me all the time." Zorro put his curled hand under her chin and lifted her face up to his.
"I know you? I see you – all the time? Then – who are you, Zorro? Why do we have to break apart in order to be together?" Victoria sniffed. Zorro handed her a handkerchief.
"As a wanted man with a price on his head, 'Zorro' cannot marry you. But the man behind the mask – can – and does – want to marry you. When I know that you love me for who I really am – I will reveal myself. I have promised to do so."
Victoria said nothing.
Zorro paused a moment. "I have another thought: I can court you as myself. But in order to do that, I'll need the ring back to give to you when our relationship reaches that stage. If I do this the 'right' way – my – uh – family will have to be consulted. But don't worry. They like you already. I can tell you that for a fact. When I give the ring to you as myself, then you'll know who your masked man is."
"What if I guess who you are? Would you tell me? You know I can keep a secret. I have not worn this ring in public nor said anything to anyone about the cave." Victoria thought to tempt him a bit, and walked a couple of fingers up his arm.
"I know. I tested you."
"You what? You 'tested' me? When did you do that?" She stepped back a moment.
"Very shortly after your accident."
"Did I pass?" A look of fear passed through her expression.
"Of course you did." He smiled.
She got on a teasing, half-serious smile. "Well, what if I guess who you are? Will you admit it?"
"If you come to who you think and ask me if I'm Zorro, and you have undeniable proof to back up your guess, then I'll admit it. But I know you. You'll go around asking every man in the pueblo if he is Zorro."
"I will not. I've not done it before, why would I now?"
"Because you are desperate, mi amor. Your desperation could lead you into making a fatal mistake – for me."
Victoria sighed. "I'll keep the ring. I'll come to you when I believe I know who you are. I don't want to end our engagement."
Victoria got a teasing look on her face. "I've had suspicions for quite some time. I can wait a little longer. But I have your promise? That if I guess your identity, you will tell me the truth?"
"Si. I will not deny it. But there is one thing I ask." Zorro looked down.
"What's that?" A look of concern crossed Victoria's face.
"If you discover who I am, and you know you can never love me for who I really am, then don't tell me, and don't come to me."
Zorro cut her off as he drew her in with a final kiss, then vaulted up to the window and jumped out into the night.
Victoria stood in her kitchen for quite some time, thinking, before taking the candle and going upstairs to her bedroom. Yes, I think I know who you are, my masked man. I know you are afraid I will reject you. But I've been drawn to you ever since we were children, and when you came home…you took my breath away…I'm surprised I didn't put all the pieces together before…but you're very good at hiding yourself, mi querido…