A/N: All of us from time to time question our existence and where we're going from where we are. Although the episode "It's a Wonderful Zorro" made a good start, there wasn't time to deal with deeper spiritual issues or other questions. Since we know Diego was Catholic, (as were most, if not all, Spaniards) he will be doing all his explorations and searching through that filter. I thought it would be fun to take Diego on a supernatural spiritual journey and see where he goes with it. Set about a year after that Christmas episode in the second season, but before Mr. and Mrs. Jones show up. Zorro's secret is intact. There's a lot of exploring and thinking. This is a journey…and a 'what if' scenario that I found as interesting as the main journey – how to see yourself through another's eyes.
LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE
CHAPTER ONE – Zorro – Strike One
Zorro noticed the gathering storm clouds while taking his charges to Pueblo de Los Angeles. In tow were the horses of three banditos he'd just captured. The bandits were tied to their horses facing backwards. It was a favorite tactic of humiliation he liked to employ.
"I don't think you'll be robbing the early morning San Diego coach anytime soon!" Zorro loved to taunt his captives.
"Ha! That's what you think, Zorro! You'll pay for this embarrassment! You mark my words!" The belligerent trio's leader shot back.
"Really!?" Zorro snorted. "And just how would you be able to do that – from jail?"
"It may not be me that pays you back! But somehow, sometime, somewhere – something will happen to you! And then, maybe you won't be so arrogant!" The leader leaned over and spat on the ground.
"Hey, watch where you spit! That one almost hit me!" Another bandit chimed in.
"Aw, be quiet, Camargo!" The leader came back to an upright position.
"Cut down the noise back there!" Zorro's booming voice was heard over a distant clap of thunder. "We've got to get moving. There's a storm brewing. Hold on to your saddle horns as tightly as you can! We're going to run!"
The three banditos looked up at the clouds, and realized Zorro was right. Zorro waited to spur Tornado into action until he saw that all three had grasped their saddle horns tightly.
"Run Tornado! Run!" Zorro grasped Tornado's reins in his left hand. With his fingers curled around his saddle horn for balance, he held the trio's horses' reins tightly in his right. Tornado took off like a shot. Thunder continued to roll in the distance.
When they reached the pueblo Zorro sought out his favorite lancer. "Sergeant Mendoza!"
Mendoza heard Zorro's voice and came out of the tavern where he was eating lunch. "Zorro! What have you got there?"
"Well Sergeant – because Christmas is coming soon, I'm bringing you an early present. These three are the ones who robbed the San Diego coach the other yesterday. I present them to you as a gift!"
"Muchas gracias, Zorro. We'll take care of them from here. Be careful, Zorro! You'd better get out of here quickly, before the alcalde sees you, and before the storm hits you."
Zorro guided Tornado to the porch's edge a couple feet from Victoria. He noticed a look of anticipation on her face and smiled.
"You are lovely as always, Senorita Victoria. It is my loss that unfortunately, I must go. But my heart is always with you. I want you to know that. There will come a day when I will be able to stay. When that day comes, nothing will ever part us."
Victoria's eyes widened, then narrowed. "Don't tell me Zorro is afraid of a little rain storm." Her tone was somewhat sarcastic and teasing.
Zorro smiled and cocked his head to one side. "No. But this storm is what Americano Benjamin Franklin calls an 'electrical' storm. It's much more dangerous. Lightning strikes associated with this kind of storm can set anything on fire or electrocute a person or even an animal like Tornado. Begging your pardon, Senorita, I must be going." He reached out a hand, and she extended hers. Zorro leaned over and kissed the back of her upraised hand, without even dismounting.
As he rode away, Victoria let out a breath of hero worship.
Within a few minutes, the noon sunny sky had blackened. The dark clouds with lightning and thunder rolled in quickly. Thunder claps startled Tornado as the heart of the storm grew closer. The rain had not begun, but the air was thick with moisture. Zorro knew it was only a matter of minutes. He spurred Tornado on.
"Home Tornado! Quickly!" The black stallion took off like a shot and ran at top speed.
Halfway home, a loud thunder clap directly overhead frightened Tornado and he suddenly reared up. Zorro was unprepared, and fell. Tornado whinnied in fear and ran away. Zorro picked himself up from the road and dusted himself off. As he did so, he felt the hair rise on the back of his neck under the mask, and on his arms under his shirt.
He looked up a moment, then down quickly as he was thrown to the ground. A bright whitish pink light accompanied by a very loud noise seemed to envelop him. He was knocked to the ground, the wind knocked out of him.
Zorro got up slowly, taking inventory of how he felt. As he tried to stand, his left foot nearly gave way underneath him. Everything tingled. His head buzzed. His ears rang. He shook his head to clear it, and nearly fell. He was off-balance.
The rain began to fall – large, splotchy blobs of rain quickly soaked him. Even though the temperature was very warm for mid-November, Zorro shivered. He looked around. Not even a tree, outcrop, or a bush for shelter was anywhere around, but he noticed a smoldering hole in the ground about thirty feet to his left.
Whew, that was too close. I'm about a mile from home. Hopefully Tornado went home. It looks like I'll have to walk. There's no shelter between here and there. I'll run as fast as I can. Normally, he knew it would take about eight minutes if he ran, but in the rain and with his left foot feeling weak and wobbly like jelly, he realized it could take longer than ten minutes.
His foot felt and moved as if it was asleep. He lumbered along as quickly as he could. Once he got to the hacienda, he ran along the wall until it ended. I wish I could have just gone inside, I could be warm by now, but for this silly secret. He shivered again from being soaked.
As he reached the cave entrance, he clumsily jumped on the outside trigger and the bush gave way. He hurriedly limped through it, and at the end of the tunnel he saw Tornado. Quickly hobbling to the tall black stallion, Zorro patted him and said, "Thank goodness you're safe, Ole Boy!"
Felipe rushed over. He was in a panic, signing so fast, not even Zorro could keep up.
"Slow down, Felipe. What? Tornado came back alone. You were worried. Yes, well, I'm here now. I'm cold. I'm wet, and I was very nearly struck by lightning. I've got to get out of these clothes and warm up."
Felipe nodded and sighed with relief. Diego seemed to be all right. He hadn't been seriously hurt. Felipe had a niggling feeling that the day wasn't over yet, and it filled him with unease. But he signed nothing to Diego.