Author: Robin aka icyfire
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, and I don't make money off of them. I just torture—play with them before sending them home.
Summary: An ancient evil-and an old enemy-threaten the people Diego loves. And the world. Can Zorro save the day this time? Or will he end up being the biggest threat of all?
A/N: This story is a darker fic than most of my others. It deals with vampires and lust and an unhappy marriage.
A great big thank you to theropodmemory and the KlingonKitten for their great betas of the entire story. And thank you to pamz and Rhiannon who betaed the first part years ago. They all helped make the story better. But all mistakes remain mine and mine alone.
Rating: I'm going with a hard TV-14 rating. Nothing here that you wouldn't see on broadcast television.
Z Z Z
Out of all of them, he is her favorite. If asked, she would be unable to give a reason why. It might be his blond hair and beard. Certainly, his looks-light to their dark-set him apart from the others. It might be the gleam that sparkled in his eyes or his wonderfully evil smile. Maybe it was that marvelous naiveté that he still possessed.
Grinning, Tasia stroked her hand over his chest. The most likely answer was that he pleased her in bed more than any other. His energy, originality, and stamina made him a superb lover. Tonight, however, the poor baby was already too tired to play anymore. Innocenzio had already slipped into silent slumber.
She could not be too upset with him. After all, he had done a remarkable job today, and dawn was swiftly approaching. She could feel its hushed beginnings in her blood. He was younger than her, and needed more sleep, unable to resist the call of the sun.
Quickly and efficiently, making no noise, she covered them with a blanket that was carelessly lying at the foot of the bed. She let a small giggle escape. Even after all these years, she found a strange comfort in some human habits. She had not felt cold in almost five hundred years, yet she still enjoyed the feel of a heavy blanket cocooning her at night.
Laying her hand on his motionless chest, she did not even flinch when he suddenly cried out "No!" She was used to his almost-daily nightmares. Unable to consciously remember most of his other life, his subconscious forced him to relive one horrifying event over and over again. Wishing that she could bring him comfort, Tasia gently stroked his cheek, enjoying the feel of his coarse hair on her hand.
Feeling the gentle pull of daybreak, Tasia closed her eyes, but refused to sleep until she heard the final cry that signaled the end of Innocenzio's dream. Moaning softly, stiff and unmoving, he finally yelled, "De la Vega? No! I should have known!"
De la Vega? Innocenzio had never said a name before. He had always screamed the line about knowing before falling into a dreamless peace. She would ask him tomorrow if he could remember the name "de la Vega". It might help him to fill in the white void that existed in his mind about the time before their life together. He was always yearning to remember...
Tasia's final thought as she slipped into unconsciousness was that the Devil's Fortress had brought her a wonderful gift in Innocenzio.
Z Z Z
Don Alejandro sighed softly and turned to leave his bedroom, wishing he could offer some excuse to miss breakfast. It used to be his favorite time of the day, beginning in his youth. Many wonderful family discussions were held while eating eggs and drinking thick hot chocolate. As soon as Diego had returned home from Spain, they had quickly fallen into their old routine of discussing everything at the breakfast table. Some mornings their conversations went from debating the King's recent actions to the best time to plant roses.
Now, the conversation was limited to asking for food to be passed. And even those innocent requests were issued with caution.
Even though he had feared this fate for his son, he never expected it to be so bad. It hurt even more when he recalled how wonderful the marriage between him and his own Elena had been. Watching Diego and his bride, he doubted either would ever experience a fourth of the happiness that Alejandro had in his marriage.
Sitting down at the table, he remembered the morning Diego made his announcement. Alejandro, after he calmed down from his coughing fit, had voiced his concerns. Marriage without love was a common practice, but he doubted Diego and Victoria could find happiness together. They were too different; Victoria was too passionate for his Diego. She lacked the ability to appreciate his son's finer qualities. Besides, everyone knew where her heart truly belonged, even if she was tired of waiting for her masked hero.
His son had laughed away his concerns. With the arrogance and ignorance of youth, Diego declared that they would be happy together. Alejandro had prayed that the younger man would be right. However, even as he walked Victoria down the aisle, he had doubted it.
And for those first few glorious months, it had appeared that he had been mistaken, but then...
"Good morning, Father," Diego greeted him. He walked slightly behind his wife. Alejandro noticed that Diego's hands were firmly clasped behind his back. During the first few months of their marriage, he had always kept his hand on Victoria's back, as if guiding her or perhaps protecting her.
"Good morning, Father," Victoria echoed. Dark circles under her eyes spoke of another night of little sleep. Her smile was again absent, and her eyes remained firmly fixed on the table.
"Good morning, you two," he said with what he hoped sounded like happiness in his own voice. He wished he could speak to Diego or Victoria. He wished he had some advice to give them. He wished they could all stop pretending that everything was normal in the de la Vega hacienda. "You missed a wonderful party last night."
Victoria's eyes shot over to look at her husband and then down to the plate in front of her. "I'm sure we did," Diego answered for them. "Don Fernando and his wife are always entertaining, but Victoria did not feel up to all the excitement."
"I hope you are not getting ill, my dear," Don Alejandro said, taking a bite of his egg dish. Breakfast, while still prepared excellently by his cook, was no longer a meal he enjoyed. He ate to fill his stomach, and he did it as fast as he could in a civilized manner.
Victoria's eyes raced up to meet his, and the sound of her fork hitting her plate echoed across the room. Diego stopped eating in surprise, and he finally looked at his wife. She returned Diego's gaze for only a moment before picking up her fork. "Actually, I'm not ill, Father. I'm expecting."
Don Alejandro felt a grin approach his face. Then, he looked at his son, expecting to see surprise and delight. Instead, Diego sat, holding his fork, his face blank of any expression. He mentally urged him to say something, to lift up Victoria and swing her around in the same way he had when Elena announced Diego's approaching birth. He remembered the sound of her laughter when he had set her down and apologized for treating her so roughly. "Oh, my love," she had said. "Do not worry so! I'm not fragile, and I know your son will not be either."
Diego did not even smile. He returned his attention to his breakfast. "We shall have to convert the old nursery back to its original use," he said after taking a bite.
"Yes," Victoria agreed, taking a sip of her orange juice.
Don Alejandro's face lost its smile. Looking down at his plate with sudden revulsion, he knew he would never be able to finish the meal.
Z Z Z