Disclaimer: I do not own Zorro, nor do I make any money from writing this story. Dialogue and situations used from the episode are property of ZPI, the rest of the story is my property and cannot be printed or used without my permission.
Summary: Warning: I wanted another angry Diego story.
LaCorelli mentioned Victoria's tendency to faint in Diego's arms. Remember when she did it after Alejandro was unmasked in Like Father Like Son? Alejandro hit his head and thought he was Don Quixote, fell into the cave and thought he was Zorro. He was captured while protecting Victoria. DeSoto believes Alejandro is Zorro, but Mendoza is the voice of reason remembering he'd seen Zorro and Alejandro at the same time.
I don't deal with the episode, I just rewrote that scene and gave the episode an epilogue—simple reveal and 'happily ever after'. Thanks to LaCorelli for the idea. I kinda start off stepping into Diego's thoughts. Hope it makes sense.
From the Episode:
"El Zorro. At last it ends. The moment I've been waiting for…The moment that I've dreamed of since I came to this pueblo de Los Angeles. And now everyone shall see the face beneath the mask."
DeSoto whipped off Zorro's mask, revealing Alejandro.
Diego anxiously watched the scene unfold. First, he rode into town to hear cutthroats were in the tavern with Victoria. Next, Zorro was apparently in the tavern tossing the bad guys out the door. He recognized his father immediately. The sword was obviously his; the outfit was genuine. Diego knew his own father. Alejandro had somehow found the cave- knew his son was Zorro. That was shocking enough. Why was he wearing the outfit? Maybe he'd heard about the outlaws and had come to protect Victoria.
DeSoto had his father caught, too. When DeSoto unmasked him, everyone would know the truth, not only his father. He was surrounded by the alcalde's men, and his father had just given his sword and whip to soldiers. He could probably get them back with little trouble, but now his father and Victoria were right in the middle of the fighting! And what would Victoria think? To have his secret revealed this way…he couldn't imagine anything worse!
Then, of all things, he caught Victoria in a dead faint. DeSoto knew Alejandro was Zorro all along? What was going on? Diego scooped Victoria up in his arms as a surprising emotion came over him: anger. He should be feeling relief. His secret was safe. DeSoto was a fool. Mendoza was apparently smarter than the entire pueblo.
Including Victoria. Maybe he felt some pain, too. That Victoria thought his father was Zorro for even a second… No, mostly anger.
He turned away from the crowd before he ripped DeSoto apart just because his own fiancé didn't know his name. This was his fault. He had to clean it up. Victoria's feelings might be ambiguous right now, but he still loved her. He wanted to shake some sense into her, to yell to the heavens at the injustice of it all, but he still loved her. He didn't notice he was grumbling to himself while climbing the stairs.
Ah, sleeping beauty decided to wake up. "You fainted?" Diego scowled. He didn't mean to say that out loud.
"Don Diego?" Victoria put a hand to her head as she woke to find Diego carrying her up the stairs. "I'm sorry, it was quite a shock. Your father!"
"My father! My father is a foot shorter than I am!"
Diego reached the landing at the top of the stairs and turned toward her bedroom. "Are you alright now? Over the shock?"
Victoria tried to get her bearings as Diego kicked open her door. "Yes, why—"
"Good." Diego dumped Victoria unceremoniously on her bed and she yelped. "You fainted!"
Victoria sat up on the bed. "Don Diego—" She tried to stand and cried out in surprise when Diego put his hand on her head and pushed her back down again. She sat on the edge of her bed and glared at the caballero pacing in her bedroom.
"Oh, no, I'm about to be arrested!" Diego mocked himself before he barked out a harsh laugh. "No. Mendoza knows." Diego stopped and glared at her with a frustrated point toward the scene on the other side of the door. "Mendoza! Mendoza knows my father isn't Zorro. But the love of my life, who said she loved the man behind the mask? No. Not a clue. I'm standing there trying to figure out how to fight my way out of that mess. Instead…"
Diego stopped pacing when Victoria tried to stand again, and he held his hand out in a warning for her to stay put. "No. Sit." Diego pointed at her bed where she sat fuming. "You stay here until I figure this out. I have to convince the alcalde my father isn't Zorro. Logic says he's going to wonder where he got my clothes and sword. If you don't want all of us killed, then stay here. I can't think if I'm worried about you, too. I can't rescue everybody."
Diego turned to the door, but leaned his hands on it instead of leaving. Victoria watched with wide eyes as he fought some furious battle within himself, and sat back when he turned back to her with an intent stare. After only a second, he scanned her bedroom. She saw his eyes light on a small box on her bedside table. "Don Diego—" Victoria swung her legs around to try to grab it before him, but Diego was fast!
Diego held the tiny decorative box gently in his long fingers and Victoria stared up at him again in shock. He gestured with it as he tried to speak several times, but nothing came out. He paced to the window and back, then stopped in the middle of the room and examined the box, turning it over and over in his hands.
"I bought this in Paris, you know. Doubt you noticed, but I cut my trip short. I missed you. I went to Paris to…I had to come to terms with some things which happened at Devil's Fortress. Thought I'd escape to France for a few months. I loved Paris before, but this time…" Diego opened the box and took out the ring he'd given her as Zorro. "…this time I didn't want to be there without you. I'd rather sit in your tavern with you than explore one of my favorite cities without you."
Diego glanced up at her quickly before looking back to his hands, gently closing the small box and wrapping his hand around the ring. "Pathetic, right?" Diego walked to the window and looked out where he watched his father be led across the plaza under guard. "I wait two years to give it to you, then I give you the box while wearing a mask so you can hide an engagement to a man you don't know."
Diego turned to face Victoria. Her eyes were wide and her lips parted as she stared at the hand which held the ring. What was she thinking? Maybe he didn't want to know. He walked to the table and carefully set the box back in its place. Her eyes never left the hand which held the ring as he took a deep breath, let it out, and put the ring in his pocket.
Victoria took a deep breath, too, and it shook as she let it out. Diego pushed his fingers through his hair, then lightly touched hers as if he didn't want to risk setting off an explosion. His fingers tilted her chin up so her eyes met his. Diego's heart clenched as he saw the tears gathering in her eyes, but he had no time right now.
"Querida, I know what I want. I always have. Stay here. Stay safe. Let me try to fix this. I know I hid myself from you. You can't marry me out of gratitude or because of my courage and passion. You wouldn't be happy. We'll start over. Think about what you want. Next time you take my ring, you have to take it from the man."
Diego walked to the door and paused to look at her again. "If something goes wrong, go to the hacienda. Felipe knows everything. He'll keep you safe."
And then he was gone.
Author's Note: So angry Diego seems to fit my mood recently…I regret every time I said something academic was easy, cause professional school is far from it.
I'm still not sure I like the second (final) chapter, but I should have it by next weekend. Like I said, it's just a short story, and I'm still trying to find some humor to add to it and trying to make it different. Hard to do when you're buried in sugar interconversions and neurochemistry. Also I keep wondering if everyone hated the end of Conquering Fear. As always, I really appreciate the reviews…they're so wonderful. Two exams next week. After that, I'll finalize chapter 2.
If you enjoyed, please review.