Still new around here! So, another one-shot. I'm deep into my re-watch, and Deacon just gave the ring he threw into the 'memorial' back to Rayna after Luke proposed. Which made me want to know how did he get it back? This is that story.

His foot was like lead on that pedal, as though if he drove fast enough he could outrun the past. Like he hadn't been doing that for the better half of his whole life. His good hand gripped the wheel, and his bad hand sat on the center console, little jolts of pain taunting him as they coursed up his arm. He pushed his foot down harder. If he put enough distance between that memorial site and himself, he was sure he could get the sound of metal hitting pavement out of his head.

Shit. Deacon Claybourne cursed under his breath, his knuckles white on the wheel. Shit, shit, shit. He slammed on the brakes, and pulled off to the side—the steering wheel was cool against his forehead.

Clink. He pressed his eyes shut, willing the sound to disappear from his memory. He wanted to drive home and forget this whole thing ever happened—forget this whole life ever happened. He wanted to drive to a bar, take a shot of something strong, follow it with something stronger. Maybe then his damn hand would stop throbbing, maybe then his damn heart would stop aching.

He hadn't known she'd kept it—he thought she'd gotten rid of it a long time ago. He lifted his head, and realized how heavy it felt. He pressed it into the headrest, and opened his eyes to stare at the gray ceiling.

I always thought one day we might need this. Her words rushed over him now, alone in his car, and he felt them seep into his pores. I always thought. He felt the heat behind his eyes, and cursed again, the realization hitting him like a ton of bricks. She'd been married to Teddy for 13 some odd years, and yet she'd held onto his ring all this time—not because she was sentimental, not because she felt bad for throwing it away, but because deep down, even after all these years, all these miles, she thought they'd need it.

He remembered the day he got the ring—he'd never felt anything so heavy in all his life. He wrapped his fingers around it, felt the metal pressing into his palm, heavy with the weight of the promises he'd make to her—and keep—this time. He'd had a friend make it from a rough sketch he'd made during one of his and Rayna's writing sessions; simple and feminine, he'd told his friend, but tough. In his darkest times, he could still feel that ring in his palm, still feel that small circle pressing itself into his skin—he'd learned to think of that feeling as the definition of hope, the clenched fist protecting something so delicate, something so sacred.

And she'd kept it. Even after all these years. Even after all the hell you've put her through.

Shit, he sighed, and took his head off the headrest. He punched the gas again, and before he had a moment to second guess himself, turned around, his tires spitting out gravel from the side of the road. The tears stung his eyes, but he let them fall—they were silent, but in his mind they sounded like a thousand rings hitting the pavement—clink.

In the morning, it would look as though someone had ransacked the vigil site. A woman walking her dog would see the flowers strewn about, the signs tossed haphazardly here and there like prayers scattered in an invisible wind, candles with their burnt wicks and running wax broken in half; she would tug on the leash, shake her head, and think nothing's sacred anymore.

She wouldn't see a man with only headlights for illumination digging through prayers and memories, trying to find the only prayer and memory he ever truly wanted. She wouldn't see him burn himself on a hidden candle, hear his ragged curse carried on the wind. She wouldn't see him drop to his knees for a better vantage, his hands frantically reaching this way and that in his panicked search for the symbol of the only thing that was ever sacred to him—she wouldn't see the look on his face as he found it, grasped it between his fingers, and held it up to the light, staring at it in awe. She wouldn't see him wrap it in his palm, his grip tight, his thumb running over the engraving like a soothing stone as he walked back to his truck, and drove back home where he fell asleep with only one word on his lips, and only one thought in his head.

One day we might need this.