By: Tazura Avey

Disclaimer: Diego and Bernardo are not mine but the other characters are. If the names of any of these characters are the same as those used by other authors, I apologize, but I don't know that many
Spanish names.

Synopsis: I've always wondered how Bernerdo and Diego first met and this story was born. It's told from Diego's point of view. Diego has been at the University for about two years.

Author's note: This is my first attempt at a Zorro story as well as my first attempt at a first person
point of view story.

Looking around at the unfamiliar buildings, I wondered just how I managed to make a wrong turn on the way back to the University of Madrid from the tavern where several of my friends and I had gathered for an evening of fun. My father had sent me to Spain tocontinue my education, and to my teachers' delights, the two subjects I excelled at were fencing and military strategy. Unfortunately, neither of those skills would help me in my present situation because I had left my saber back in my room and I was not presently in command of an army.

"Diego de la Vega, you have really gotten yourself into trouble this time," I muttered, shaking my head.

"Si, Señor," agreed a gruff voice behind me. Whirling around, I found a trio of rough looking men with
pistols in their hands approaching me, and I remembered that a few of the students at the
University had claimed to be robbed while the general rumor was that they had actually lost their money gambling.

I took a cautious step back as the men spread out before me, effectively cutting off any escape. As one of the men stepped in the illumination of a nearby lantern, I was startled to see Paco, the vaquero who had been assigned to me as my manservant.

Pulling myself up to my full height, I glared at Paco with my fists on my hips. "I can not believe that you would betray the University like this, Paco." My anger slipped into my voice, and I suddenly found myself staring down the barrels of three pistols.

"I am sorry, Señor de la Vega," apologized Paco, grinning at my obvious discomfort. "But my friends
would like those pesos you have with you." He raised his pistol, threateningly, and I dug a pouch out of my jacket, tossing it to him. The vaquero weighed it in his hand a few moments before looking at me. "The rest, señor."

I spread my hands, innocently. "That is all I have," I lied, determined not to give him the satisfaction of
stealing all my money. "The tavern was very busy tonight."

Paco shrugged. "Then I am truly sorry about this, Señor de la Vega," he said, no trace of regret in his
voice as he aimed his pistol at me. "But you know me and for that, I cannot allow you to identify me to the commandante."

For some strange reason, a calming peace settled over me, and I stood there, staring at Paco. The hammer on the pistol was cocked, but before Paco could pull the trigger, a black rope emerged from the darkness, wrapping around the muzzle. The rope pulled the pistol to one side just as Paco pulled the trigger, and his companions dove for the cobblestones as the lead ball whizzed over their heads before the pistol was yanked out of his grasp.

There was some movement in a dark alley, and I blinked in surprise at the man who appeared out of the shadows. He was rather small with a round, expressive face and light hair that was thinning on the top. The whip he carried in one hand seemed out of place with his clothes, which proclaimed him as a vaquero or at least a manservant to some caballero.

As I watched, the new arrival's arm swung out and there was a loud crack as the whip snapped in the air, not striking any of the banditos, but making them jump. I grinned as the small man used the whip to herd the banditos like cattle away from me as he slowly made his way over to my side.

"Gracias, muchachos," I said, bowing slightly in his direction. "Your timing could not have been better."
The man flashed me a quick grin, before glaring at the three men in front of us. The whip lashed out two more times and the last two pistols clattered to the street. With a quick volley of sharp cracks, the
little man sent the banditos running down the street.

The little man shook his head and turned to face me as he coiled the whip in his hand. I glanced past him in time to see one of the banditos turned with a knife in his hand.

"Look out!" I cried, instinctively jumping at the little man. The force of my lunge shoved him out of
the dagger's path, but I felt a small line of fire race across my arm. I grabbed my injured arm and felt
the blood stain my shirt and jacket. Stumbling to a nearby building, I leaned against the warm stones and continued to keep pressure on my injury to stop the bleeding when I felt a gentle hand on my shoulder. Looking up, I found my small ally standing there with a concerned look on his face.

"It is just a scratch," I replied, trying to reassure him, but he looked at me sternly. "If you could help
me back to the University, I would be very grateful."

The little man nodded and I stood up. It was then that I realized that my new friend only came up to my shoulder. He looked at me before gesturing that I should follow him. Together, we quickly made it back to some familiar streets, and he easily escorted me back to my room at the University.

Unfortunately, by the time my door closed behind us, my sleeve was drenched in blood, and my head was starting to swim. My companion sat me down on my bed and casually slipped off my jacket shirt and sash before I could protest. He examined my arm before moving over to my basin and filling it with water. He returned to my side, and his hands were surprisingly gentle as he washed and dressed my injury.

"You have been silent since I met you," I remarked. He pointed to his lips and shook his head, indicating that he couldn't talk. "Just because you can not talk, señor, does not mean your actions do not speak for you. Can you read and write?" He nodded and scooped up my quill off of my desk. Scribbling on a piece of paper, he turned and held the paper out to me as a stood.

"It is a pleasure to make you acquaintance, Señor Bernardo Felipé Mendoza," I said bowing slightly. "I
am Don Diego de la Vega." He bowed back and a sudden idea occurred to me. "Bernardo, are you currently employed by anyone?" When he shook his head, I grinned. "Since Paco has discovered a new hobby, I could use a new manservant. Would you be interested in the position?"

Bernardo looked at me in disbelief before nodding his head so hard I thought it was going to fall off.
Laughing, I clapped him on the shoulder and strolled over to my wardrobe to get a change of clothes.

As I buttoned up a white shirt, I looked at Bernerdo. "I just have one favor to ask," I began and a wary
look crossed his face. "Could you teach me to use the whip with the same skill as you?" Bernardo had a thoughtful look on his face before nodding in agreement. "Now let us go talk to Señor Montoya about
Paco's behavior." Grinning, we left my room and headed towards the office of Señor Montoya, head vaquero of the servants for the caballeros. I may have been robbed of a few pesos, but I felt I had gained a loyal friend.