Author's Note: An alternative universe based on the episode "Family Business" (Episode #1.24) written by Philip John Taylor.

By my own estimation, Felipe is about 15 years old in this story.

Disclaimer: This story is an amateur, not-for-profit publication produced solely for the enjoyment of other Zorro fans and is not intended to infringe upon any rights by Goodman/Rosen Productions, New World Television, Zorro Productions, the estate of Johnston McCulley or anyone else.



[parts of the following scene taken from "Family Business" written by Philip John Taylor]

     Oh, she was so nervous.  Extremely so.  She closed her eyes and took a deep breath as the stagecoach in which she was a passenger came to a stop.  Gently exhaling, she realized that her seat mate was also anxious now that they had reached the end of their journey.  The tension was radiating off of him in waves.

      She didn't know why he was so worried.  From what he had told her, he would be welcomed with open arms.  Quite unlike her own uncertain reception.  She glanced at him furtively.  He was a handsome young man, probably only five years her junior.  And intelligent, kind, with a lively sense of humor.  If only, she mused wistfully, if only she had met someone like him instead of. . .

     With an imperceptible shake of her head, she drove the thought from her mind.  It was too late.  Much too late.  And there was nothing she could do about it.


     She opened her eyes.  Her fellow traveler had gotten to his feet, although the cramped confines of the coach didn't allow him to rise to his full height.  He gestured with his hand toward the door, then stilled it in front of her.

     "You go first, Señor," she replied to his unspoken offer of assistance.  "Don't keep her waiting."

     He smiled appreciatively.  "Gracias," he said before moving forward and exiting the stagecoach.

     She watched almost impassively as a beautiful young woman leaped from the porch of the tavern they had halted in front of and into the arms of the handsome young officer.  Almost.  The faint hope that her own reunion would be as joyful flared within her before she tamped it back down.  She, more than anyone, knew better than to expect a happy ending.

     The driver appeared in the doorway, startling her from her dreary thoughts.  "Señora?" he asked as he  tendered his hand.  This time, she took the proffered aid and alighted from the coach.

     Tentatively, she stepped toward the inn but stopped when she noticed the young woman staring at her.  Then the young man turned and smiled as her, gesturing her forward.

     "It was a pleasure meeting you, Señora Derenoso," he said, bowing chivalrously.

     She nodded, somewhat surprised at his gallantry.  "And you, Señor," she murmured.

     He turned to the other woman who was waiting excitedly by his side.  "The señora and I have been traveling companions all the way from Mexico City," he explained.  He then waved his hand in her direction.  "Señora Yolanda Derenoso, my sister, Victoria."

      Victoria smiled pleasantly at her.  Yolanda recalled him telling her that his only sister had lived in Los Angeles all her life, running the family's business, the tavern that stood before them.  If anyone could help her, it would be this lovely innkeeper.

     "I wonder if you could direct me to the de la Vega hacienda?" she inquired.  Her heart started to flutter and her palms grew sweaty just from saying the name.  She wondered what would happen when she actually met them.

     "Why certainly," the señorita said in a very surprised tone.  She pointed to her left, Yolanda's right.  "Take this road out of town and then it's two miles to the left."  She paused, tilting her head to one side and studied Yolanda's face.  "Do you know Don Alejandro and his son?"

     Yolanda was curious at the hint of jealousy she detected in the younger woman's voice.  Hoping to hide the slight twist of her lips at the idea that this stunning woman had any reason to be envious of anyone, she lifted the hood of her cloak and placed it on her head.  "No," she said honestly, before adding mischievously, "not yet."

     Nodding in goodbye, she picked up her only piece of luggage and started walking away.  She kept going even when Señorita Escalante called out, "It's a long walk, Señora."

     She knew it was a long way. Her leg was already aching from being cooped up inside the stagecoach for nearly two weeks.  Surreptitiously she glanced over her right shoulder, taking one more look at the young man who was embracing his sister once again and sighed regretfully.   Shifting her weight to her good limb, she turned her head and gripped the head of her cane before she determinedly plodded off to her destination.
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     Victoria stared as the older woman limped out of the plaza and onto the Camino Real.  She looked so familiar.  And she couldn't help but wonder about the señora's attire.  The high-necked, long-sleeved, thick wool dress seemed inappropriate for the warm spring weather.  She didn't realized that Francisco had come up beside her until he spoke.

     "What?" he queried as he also watched the señora walk away.

     "Oh, nothing," Victoria responded with a little shake of her head.  "It's just that. . .  Well she reminds me of someone.  Especially her eyes."  She shrugged, knowing the resemblance would come to her sooner or later.  She slipped her arm through her brother's.  "Let's go inside."

     He let her lead him into the building.  Victoria was thrilled that her brother, whom she hadn't seen for nearly six years, was finally home.  And looking quite handsome and dashing in his blue lieutenant's uniform.  If she were a gambling woman (which she wasn't), she would bet that all the single women (and probably some of the married ones as well) would be soon swooning in his presence.  She would have to keep an eye on him.

     Francisco stopped in the middle of the room, scanning it cursorily.  "You've changed a few things," he remarked casually before glancing at his sister again.

    "Si, a few things here and there," Victoria acknowledged.  She suddenly felt nervous, suddenly worried what he thought about the alterations she had made.  What seemed insignificant in her mind, a new coat of paint in a different color, a few new decorations, a change in the seating arrangements; might appear otherwise in her sibling's.

     He put his arm around her shoulders then drew her to him.  "Mama and Papa would be very proud of you, hermana," he said reassuringly, obviously sensing her distress.

     "Gracias."  She marveled that even after all the years of absence, Francisco could still read her mind.  It was a bit disturbing.  Hopefully he wouldn't guess her biggest secret - that she was in love with an outlaw with a price on his head.

     She beamed up at him.  "Tell me all about your journey," she suggested in an attempt to distract him.  "And when did you become a lieutenant?  You never told me."  Even though they hadn't seen each other in the intervening years, they both had been faithful correspondents.

     "I wanted it to be a surprise," Francisco replied.  He stepped away from her and straightened his uniform jacket with exaggerated importance.
     "Well you got your wish," Victoria said, chuckling.

     She lead them to an empty table and they both sat down.  Alicia, one of Victoria's employees, looked at her expectantly, holding up a glass.  Victoria nodded.

     "And I have another surprise for you," Francisco announced after they were served their cups of lemonade.


     "I have submitted a request that I be transferred to the garrison here in Los Angeles," he said, sounding confident that it would be a mere formality.  "I am going to be coming back home, baby sister."

     Victoria nearly spit her mouthful of citrus juice across the table.  Oh dear, she thought.  As splendid as it would be to have her brother living back here in the pueblo where they had grown up, it would be unbearable that he would be yet another soldier in pursuit of Zorro.  The man she loved.

     And it was even more chilling to contemplate the prospect that Francisco actually had the ability to capture the man in black.  She involuntarily shuddered at the thought.

    "That's wonderful," Victoria murmured insincerely when she realized that her brother was gazing at her curiously.  She quickly pasted what she hoped was a happy smile on her face.  "Just wonderful."
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 [parts of the following scene taken from "Family Business" written by Philip John Taylor]

    As the magnificent hacienda loomed nearer with every step she took, Yolanda grew more and more apprehensive.  Questions began to fill her brain, ones for which she had no answers.  Would he remember her?  Did he remember that awful day when their lives had been splintered apart?  Did he bear scars from the ordeal like she did?  What would he think of. . .?

     She shook the last one from her head.  She already knew the response to that one.  And it wasn't worth dwelling on.

     Instead she diverted her attention to the building she approached.  She knew the de la Vegas were wealthy but evidently what she had heard hardly did the gossip justice.  This house would be impressive even in the richest areas of Mexico City.  Yolanda swallowed nervously, her anxiety increasing tenfold.  Why would he ever leave all this to go with her?  She had know from the beginning that this had been a bad idea and it wasn't satisfying at all to be proven right.

     Pushing open the gate, she hobbled through it and up the path to the front door.  Taking a deep breath, she reached the top step then stopped, set down her small case and pushed the hood of her cape off of her head.  Yolanda was about to smooth down her hair when the door opened and a tall man stood there, a shocked expression rapidly descending on his face.  Out of the corner of her eye, she noted that someone was standing slightly behind the man to his right.

     With her chest so tight she could hardly breathe, she focused her attention on the first man.  Judging by his clothing and demeanor, he was the man she was looking for.

     "You are. . .  You are Don Diego de la Vega?" she inquired even though she knew the answer.

     The tall man smiled courteously and she was struck by his handsomeness.  And even though she knew that he never would have noticed her in a million years, her heart still fluttered a little.  Madre de Dios, she scolded herself silently, you think you would have learned your lessons concerning attractive men by now.

     "Indeed I am," de la Vega confirmed his identity easily.  "Buenas tardes."

     Ignoring the polite greeting, Yolanda turned her gaze to the youth to Don Diego's right and gasped loudly.  Dios, she would have known him anywhere.  He was the very image of her younger brother, whom she had last seen when he had been this boy's age.

     "You. . .  You must be Jose," she managed to say as she fought back the urge to gather him into her arms and never let him go.

     De la Vega glanced over at the young man, his face full of confusion.  "Oh, no," he replied, his jovial tone under laid with suspicion.  "This lad's name is Felipe."

     "Si," she agreed, "Jose Felipe Co. .  Derenoso."  She smiled guardedly at the bewildered youth. Tears welled up in her eyes as she gazed upon the face of the son she had thought she would never see again.  "And I am his mother."
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