Chapter 17

In the night Diego woke up from his nightmare again that had haunted him since the day he had been buried under the rocks. For months he had been free of it, but the conversation in the tavern made him remember the days of Risendo's visit and all that had happened.

Victoria hadn't slept well either as he had woken her up with his restive sleep and she approached the topic in the morning.

"Colonel Frontera starts his investigation of the deaths of Lieutenant Hidalgo and Emissary Risendo today," Victoria said. "Diego, you never told me what really happened. De Soto said that Zorro shot Hidalgo, but since you never wore a gun, it never made sense to me either. Who shot Hidalgo?"

"That were terrible days, Victoria," Diego sighed. "I'd rather try to forget what happened during these days."

"I know you were really upset the day Risendo was shot." Victoria put her hand on his arm, remembering the night afterwards.

ZZZ

She had nearly been asleep when he had climbed into her room.

"Zorro!" Jumping out of her bed, she rushed into his arms, happy to see him since she had heard some rumors about an explosion in Diablo Canyon.

"Victoria, querida," he had whispered, kissing her and holding onto her.

"What has happened?" she had asked, but he hadn't said anything and she realized that he was under shock.

"Please don't ask, querida. It was a terrible day and I don't know how I survived. I should be dead now. I need to feel you in my arms to know that I'm alive." Scared by his words she had clung to him.

"Lay down beside me," she had whispered and after removing his boots, he did as she asked.

She had gone back to bed and he had lain down on the covers beside her, taking her in his arms.

They had fallen asleep in each others arms, but in the night his nightmare had roused her from sleep. He had cried out, calling for Toronado, but he hadn't wanted to talk about it. When she had woken up in the morning he was gone.

It had been the first time he had stayed for longer than a few kisses and he had shown more of the man behind the mask than ever before. There was an ordinary man behind the mask who needed her as much as she needed him and he was willing to show her that he wasn't always a hero. She had made it clear that he could count on her even if the times were bad, strengthening their relationship and trust in each other.

He had come some of the next nights too, just seeking her comfort and someone to hold onto when his nightmare plagued him, always leaving before the morning. But he left a rose on her nightstand as a token of his love.

ZZZ

"I've respected your silence when you came to me that night, but I think you should talk about it. You can't keep everything to yourself." Victoria squeezed his hand. "You never told me all about these days, but I need to know now when there is going to be an investigation about it."

Diego sighed running his hands through his hair. He embraced her, holding her tight while he thought of the terrible days again.

He started slowly while he was reliving those terrible days, but then he couldn't stop anymore.

It was as if he needed to tell her about the feelings he had hidden inside him ever since Risendo's death.

The animosity he felt towards Risendo, the shock when he had found out that he was his brother and his own inability to kill him though Risendo had tried to kill him shortly before. First with the explosion that buried him under a pile of rocks and then in a deadly duel. Only de Soto's shot had saved him from Risendo's shot. The same de Soto who had tried to shoot him as Zorro, only that Hidalgo had gotten in the way and was shot instead. And then there was the loss he felt after his twin was dead.

Victoria was horrified when she heard his tale, but when he told her how he was buried under the rocks she began to cry. "Oh Diego, you were so close to death these days and I never knew it. No wonder you had nightmares after all you'd been through. But I'm glad you came to me even when you weren't ready to share your secrets with me."

"I've tried very hard not to think about it anymore. If you hadn't been there to help me through that time, I don't know what I'd done." Diego buried his head at her shoulder.

"I'm always here for you, Diego." Victoria assured him while she thought about all the hurts and other times he'd nearly been killed that he hadn't told her about and that he had buried deep inside him. She was only relieved that he wasn't riding as Zorro anymore.

"And I'm there for you too, querida." Wrapped in his embrace Victoria felt warm and secure. Coming out of his mood Diego started to kiss her passionately, making her forget everything else.


A/N: Just a short chapter to keep the story going. I'm running out of completed chapters now and I have start working on the story again. I'm very busy the next week, so it will take some time until the next update.