A/N: I sincerely apologize for not having this up sooner. My only reason for this is I thought I had already posted this last chapter.
Thanks so much to everyone who has enjoyed the series. Look for the next and final story in this series. Should be up within the month.
The first thing Deuce thought about when he came too was that everything hurt.
The second thing Deuce thought about was if it was at all normal for the ground to be so red.
Then came the screaming and the crying and the god awful screeching.
Then there was the dreadful smell of something burning.
When Deuce had smelt it, it reminded him of an explosion and family and someone going BOOM.
But after that it wasn't so bad.
After that was quiet and silence and there Deuce found that nothing really hurt at all.
Somewhere in the distance, Deuce heard the incessant beep.
It was annoying and comforting at the same time.
Annoying because all Deuce wanted to do was sleep.
Comforting because Deuce knew that as long as he heard the beeping, then he was alive.
And for the moment, that was enough for Deuce.
Deuce and Lee had been on their way to football practice.
TJ and Lisa had been home for a few months and the kids had enjoyed having their Poppy and Mima, as little Jake had so dubbed them, home.
Pete hadn't been with them that day because if he had, Deuce was pretty sure he would be dead.
They had been crossing the street, him and Lee, and two seconds before the car had collided with his body, Deuce had caught the brief glance of Mac behind the wheel.
Deuce found out later that Nate, who had been watching from the football field, and done the CPR that had saved Deuce's life. It was funny, in that what-goes-around-comes-around sort of way, because it had been Deuce who had taught Nate CPR in the first place.
He also found out that exactly one day later, Mac was found dead in an alleyway in the middle of town beaten to death.
The sheriff, who Deuce found out served with Pete in the War, ruled the death as a random mugging.
No one was ever charged with the crime.
When they told Deuce, a couple days after he had been weaned off the heavy narcotics, Deuce could never remember crying so much.
Pete told him quietly and as simply as possible.
The car would have killed him, Pete said in the wee hours of the morning when the sun still hadn't shown its face and Brooke and the kids were at the hotel sleeping.
The car should have killed him, Pete said before crying softly, but it hadn't.
Because Lee had jumped in-between Deuce and the car, taking most of the impact.
Lee had died the same way he had lived his whole life.
Right beside his master.
In the hospital, when it was quiet and dark and Deuce didn't have to worry about hiding his pain from everyone he loved, Deuce wondered what would have happened if he had never met Pete.
Or Mac, or TJ or Brooke.
He wondered if he would have kept moving along. He wondered if he would have ended up dead somewhere in an alley like Mac, or if he would have found a place to run like Pete had done.
He wondered if Lee would still be alive.
But most of all, Deuce wondered if he really had left someone behind and if they were wondering about him too.
Deuce's back was broken in two places.
Most of the blood that had been on him however, had been Lee's.
Lee hadn't died on impact though.
Lee had crawled the couple feet it took to get back to Deuce's side.
When Deuce's heart stopped and Nate had to do CPR, the red headed boy had had to lift the large dog off Deuce's chest to start compressions.
When Deuce talked to him a few weeks after the day, Nate swore that Lee hadn't breathed his last until Deuce had started breathing again.
After Nate told his Pops that, no one bothered them during the ten minutes both of them cried.
When Deuce was released to go home from the hospital in Dallas, everyone had been there to pick him up.
Lisa drove the SUV .
Deuce asked on the way home why Brooke wasn't driving.
If he had learned one thing in his time as a husband, it was that Brooke preferred to drive.
"Well," Brooke said as she held his hand in the backseat of the SUV. Nate, Jake and Max were crammed into the far backseat, arguing over which movie to watch on the way home, and TJ was arguing with Pete who was grumbling about sitting in the back seat.
"I didn't want to take any chances," Brooke said quietly before leaning over to kiss Deuce on the lips, "The doctor said not to do anything strenuous for the baby's sake."
"The-" Deuce's mouth fell opened and the rest of the family, who must have known, starting laughing at the look of utter shock that was no doubt on his face.
"Surprise," Brooke whispered before kissing Deuce again.
Brooke padded into Deuce's room quietly.
Deuce was sitting in his wheelchair, his back still supported by his brace. The accident had damaged the nerves in Deuce's lower back, causing severe muscle weakness in his legs. Deuce would have to relearn to walk again- if he ever did walk again.
"Tony?" Brooke asked again, placing her hand gently on Deuce's shoulder.
Deuce opened his eyes slowly. The pain medication he took when his back pain flared up made him extremely drowsy.
"Let's just lay down honey," Brooke gently pushed Deuce away from his desk and towards their bed. Deuce had a special pillow to support his back until it was healed.
Locking the wheels to Deuce's wheelchair, Brooke patted her husband's arm gently before calling for Nate. Deuce was being treated as an outpatient at the rehab hospital in town but he was a long way from being healed.
Deuce grimaced and bit his lip to keep from crying out as Nate helped maneuver his Pop onto the bed.
"Thanks kid," Deuce squeezed Nate's shoulder before sighing as the pain slowly ebbed away.
"No problem," Nate said and stepped aside as Max got up on the bed carefully, wedging himself against his Daddy before hugging him as hard as he could.
Jake was next and he smiled at seeing Deuce and gave his Dadda kisses before saying bye-bye and toddling out of the room after Max who was getting ready for bed.
"Love you Pops," Nate said, the last of the three red headed boys to leave.
"Love you too Nate," Deuce grabbed for Nate's hand, not wanting to be alone. Feeling Brooke take his other hand, Deuce decided that maybe, he didn't have to be Deuce anymore.
That maybe, it was safe to be Tony again.
Names would always be important to him.
He probably thought about names as much as he thought about anything else.
Because he had so many different names.
He had been called Worthless. Drunk. Lazy. Crazy. Stupid. Weak. Strong. Dead. Hurt. Cripple.
Names that he would probably always remember.
But he had been called others too. Some that held meaning only to him.
Tony. Deuce. Coach.
But he had searched far and wide and he decided that after four years of not knowing who he was and where he had come from, he found that out of all his names, the ones he liked the most were the two that he would be called for the rest of his life, no matter where he had come from of where he was going.
Tony had been saved after all.
He had all he had ever wanted right in front of him.