Title: Gold Nuggets

Author: Robin aka icyfire

Disclaimer: The characters are owned by Zorro Productions and a few other people I'm sure with the way Hollywood works. I, however, am not one of those people. Since I don't own them, I don't make money off of them.

Summary: Post-ep for "All the Glitters." A new padre comes to town.

A/N: This was my first story told with a 2nd person POV.

ZZZ

You hesitate before crossing the vaguely familiar green door. It has been years--almost two decades really--since you've been here, but the fear and the horror are easy to recall. The smell of the dust and the feel of the lancers' hands gripping your arms have never left your memory. The scar on your cheek throbs as you think about your first visit there, the dagger's gentle caress, and how it left you bleeding.

Looking down, you remind yourself of the promises in the book you hold. Then, as you take a deep breath, you tell yourself it is ridiculous to fear a door. Besides, what was once the home of the most unjust man in California is now the place thousands have come in search of justice. The alcalde's office has been Felipe de la Vega's law office for much longer than Ramone, or even his replacement, used it. Young de la Vega's courage, honor, and passion for justice are legendary in this part of the world.

You begin to walk forward again, but someone steps out of the office and you are forced to stop. The handsome man, only beginning to get some gray in his brown hair, smiles at you. You see that look on his face, the one that says the person thinks he knows you, but cannot place your face. You smile and greet him.

He returns your greeting, and for the first time you experience real joy at being assigned to this pueblo. It will give you time to know this man and his father, both of whom you admire very much. You have spent years keeping up with all the news you could about the father, and then as time passed, you began to study the son, too. It pleased you to find that the wonderful qualities of the family passed down to the heir, even if he was not the son by blood.

Felipe walks away with a few telling glance in your direction. You find yourself wondering if he somehow saw you all those years ago. Then, you remember what you heard about him, his miraculous recovery of hearing and speech. Smiling, you shake your head and walk past the door that frightened you moments before. Zorro told you that Tornado understood all of your confession, but you think now that someone else might have overheard. Smart horse indeed . . .

All the changes that the tiny little pueblo endured over the years amaze you. It is taking you longer to walk one side of it than it use to take to walk around the entire plaza. The buildings are so different. Even the Church expanded over the years to accommodate the growing crowds. Of course, one of the changes the Americanos brought with them was the different religions. The whitewashed-stone building is no longer the only church in the area. However, it is the only one those of Spanish and Mexican descent will attend.

The Americanos influence is easy to see. They have not been here for long, but they work quickly. Some of the changes they brought are good, and some of the changes are bad. The class lines the Spanish attempted to hold onto are blurred now, but the Americans sometimes had their own class rules, never stated but understood. Many of the caballeros are suffering at the Americans' hands, but you have to admit that the numbers of hands are few. Most of the Americans in the area are honorable. The ones that are not though . . .

Los Angeles has it easier than most. The de la Vegas managed to hold onto their wealth as well as their influence. Almost ten years ago, you heard, the son insisted that the father begin to keep every transaction on paper. It was not about a lack of trust, he explained to their insulted neighbors. He warned them that the Americanos were coming, and having everything on paper was their one way to protect themselves. They had laughed.

They were not laughing now. Many of them lost land because of their lack of deeds. A man's word was all that they needed before the paper-loving Americans had taken over their land. The de la Vegas have not lost one acre of land, nor have they lost one head of cattle. You heard that the father died mere months before the Americanos arrived, but that the son and the grandson were thankful he had not been around to see what injustices were being done to his friends.

You begin to slow as you approach the tavern. It is still owned by Victoria, but she has not run it for years. An old friend of hers, the kind sergeant, and his family does the day-to-day running of the place. It has been added onto over the years, until it is almost impossible to see the original structure. You can make it out though, if you really try.

You briefly consider going inside, even though you know it generally is not done by someone like you. However, you heard so much about the picture and would love to see it. The man you consider a hero painted it. He calls it "Mona Lisa of the Pueblo." Sometimes, or so you hear, he calls the subject of the painting his "Mona Lisa," because she is still a great mystery to him. They say she always smiles when he says it. The picture hangs in a prominent place from what you have heard.

You spent years listening for any bit of information you could hear about the man. He changed your life so drastically in one afternoon. You use to fear that he would have feet of clay, but he always manages to live beyond your greatest expectations. He sets a standard for you to follow.

To your surprise and horror, he and his beautiful wife take that second to step out of the tavern. You are not ready for this confrontation, yet. Both of them smile at you, but it only takes him a moment to remember who you are. His eyes become doubtful as fast as a heart beats. He wonders if you are a wolf in sheep's clothing.

"Good day, Padre," his wife says cheerfully, not noticing the looks exchanged between you and her husband. She met you earlier when you arrived on the coach.

"Good day, Señora de la Vega," you reply out of habit.

You stand before him awaiting judgment. It was why you did not want to be assigned to this pueblo; you have a past to face here. How effective can you be, if everyone knows you were once a thief? Not just any thief either. You are the man who stole the blessed jewel of Guadalupe! You cringe at the memory.

For ages that were in reality only seconds, he looks into your eyes, scanning your very soul. You stand and wait for judgment, even though you have already taken care of the important one. The One you serve has forgiven you for your past deeds, and if you must struggle here, so be it. Los Angeles is where He wants you to be. Suddenly, the man who helped change the path you walked in life nods and holds out his hand.

Gratefully, you shake it, and for some odd reason, notice the lack of gloves this time. "It's good to see that we are on the same side now," the other man says as a greeting.

You grin at the memory. "Yes, we are. We both work to take care of the people."

Victoria looks at you both oddly for a moment. Finally, she recognizes you, but she does not say a word. Her smile and nod of goodbye tell you all that you need to know. No one will hear about your past from them. It has been forgiven.

You walk away, towards your Church with a clear heart and mind. Long ago, a man dressed in black taught you that not all gold glitters. You have learned to appreciate the nuggets scattered throughout life: honor, truth, justice, faith, and love are now what you crave. Your life did not change overnight, but Zorro started you on a new path. You saw in his eyes a belief that you could be different, and you have never been able to forget it.

You grin as you remember his comment about seldom being wrong about a man. He was right about you. Although, you suspect, you managed to live beyond his greatest expectations, too. When he met you, who would ever believe that Leonardo Montez would one day be the padre of Los Angeles?

The end!

Thanks for reading!