This takes place over some time but I'm sure you would have been able to realize that even if I didn't tell you.

Matty sits on the bench, swinging his legs back and forth, his toes just able to touch the floor. He's a little small for his age, he knows, and most of his other friends would be able to touch the floor with no problem but Coach Douglas tells him that that makes him the perfect running back. Small and quick and that's why no one can ever catch him. And Matty doesn't mind being a little small if it means he can run as fast as he can.

"You nervous?" Daryl asks from beside him and it takes Matty a second a second to realize that Daryl's asking him that even though it's just them sitting there and who else would he be asking?

He turns and looks up at the man beside him and with a smile, he shakes his head. Why should he be nervous? He's been waiting for this day for a long time now and he still can't really believe it's here.

They both hear someone coming from down the hall and they both turn their heads to see mama coming, her heels making the only sound in the otherwise pretty quiet place. She smiles when she seems them looking at her and Daryl gets up and Matty slides to his feet. She had gone into the bathroom to change – something about Daryl not allowed to see her dress beforehand – and she comes now, wearing a white dress with white lace and her hair is pinned up and braided as it always is.

Matty smiles at her and then turns his head up to look at Daryl, almost giggling at the way the man is staring at mama with his mouth even hanging open. He then shakes his head as mama comes to stand with them.

"You look amazing," he finally is able to say and mama's cheeks blush.

"Thank you," she says softly as she then reaches out and straightens the black tie Daryl's wearing around his neck. Matty's wearing his very own black tie, too, to match. "Are we ready?" She then asks them both and smiles down at Matty.

"Yep!" Matty exclaims eagerly and happily, more than ready.

He knows this isn't the way Grandma and Grandpa or Aunt Maggie would want this to happen but mama and Daryl want it this way – the first time, mama have said. They'll give the family a bigger wedding if that's what they want later but for now, this time, it's just for the three of them and this is what they want.

And after mama and Daryl get married, mama's lawyer, Andrea, is meeting them with some papers that they'll all sign and just like that, Matty's last name will be Dixon, too. Daryl and mama have explained it to him a few times now but Matty can't remember all of the details because all he knows is that mama and Daryl are getting married and Daryl's adopting him – all in one day – and those are the only things he really cares about.

He follows mama and Daryl down the hall and they stop outside a door, mama being the one to knock. A tall thin woman who reminds Matty of a pencil – slightly yellow skin and her hair all piled on top of her head like the eraser – answers and Daryl hands her a piece of paper that he's been carrying around. The woman ushers them into the office and then she walks across the carpet to another door, knocking on the glass window pane. A man steps out and he reminds Matty of an insect – a very tall, skinny man with a long face and matching arms and legs. Matty almost giggles at the idea of a walking praying mantis dressed in a suit.

But the tall man has a warm smile and he smiles at all of them now. "Let's see here if we're all ready to go," he says as the woman hands him that piece of paper. He pulls out a pair of glasses from his inside pocket and slips them so they're low on his nose as he reads over everything carefully. He then nods. "Good. Very good," he smiles at them again. "Let's get started then," he says as he then pulls out a rather thick book with a leather bound cover.

"Here, sweetie," mama gently puts her hands on his shoulders. "You stand right here," she says as she guides him to stand beside the tall man. "And be sure you pay attention because you're our witness and you're very important."

Matty nods and his chest puffs out slightly at that.

But the truth is, he doesn't pay attention. Not really. There's a lot of talking and the tall man asking mama and Daryl questions or asking them to repeat after him and Matty can't help but get bored. He starts running plays in his head for the upcoming game that Saturday. After winning the championship last season, finally shutting down the Bulldogs, the Gators are coming back and ready to defend their title.

Mama and Daryl don't seem to be bored though and they face one another, holding hands, and do everything the tall man tells them to do.

"Do you have the rings?" The man asks and that snaps Matty back to attention again. Daryl gave them to him this morning, telling him that he can't marry mama without a ring, and Matty has made sure that the rings have always stayed in his pocket his entire morning.

He pulls the small box out now where there's one ring for mama and one ring for Daryl. He hands them to the tall man and the tall man smiles at him in thanks and Matty grins in return. But then the talking begins again and Matty's never been to a wedding before – except Aunt Maggie and Uncle Glenn's but he was just a baby and doesn't remember that one – but he didn't know there would be so much talking.

"By the power vested in me and the state of Georgia, I am proud to declare you husband and wife. Daryl, you may kiss your bride," the man finishes with a smile.

Matty's grin grows as he watches mama laughing with tears in her eyes and Daryl is smiling and looks like he wants to cry, too, as he steps forward and his arms slide around her middle and mama's arms slide around Daryl's neck and their lips meet in a kiss.

And when they stop kissing, mama turns to him and drops to her knees, pulling him into a tight hug and he feels Daryl hugging him, too, and Matty closes his eyes and can't stop smiling. This day is the best day of his life – better than winning the championship, which he thought had been the best day. He knows now that this day trumps every other day and it probably always will.

Daryl and mama shake the man's hands and the woman's hands and thanks them both and Matty's already running out into the hallway even though he knows he probably shouldn't run in a place like this. But he doesn't care because they just have one more stop to make and then, they'll really be a family.

As soon as those papers are signed, Matty's going to call him dad. He can't wait.

"I'll tell you what. I don't know what has gotten into Matty Dixon this afternoon but whatever it is, I bet Coach Douglas is hoping that it lasts for the entire season," the announcer says into his microphone. "Matty Dixon. Rushing sixty-two yards for his fourth touchdown of the game and with that, the clock is winding down and the Gators have completely shut out the Predators for their first win of the new season."

Daryl smiles a little as he watches the two teams walk past one another, shaking hands and hitting one another on their helmets and he can't help but keep his eyes on Matty – in his green jersey with 22 written in white and DIXON written across the top of the back. He still can't believe it all of the time but he just needs to take a look at that kid on the field, wearing that jersey and it all becomes very real once again.

He has a wife and a kid and they're starting to look at houses to give them a little bit more room than that tiny apartment offers them and no matter how hard it is to believe at times, Daryl knows that this is his life and there's no denying that. And he knows that he can't ask for anything more.

"Mrs. Dixon?"

Daryl's been rubbing a hand down Otter's back, the dog panting in the Georgia heat and waiting for Matty to come to them, and he turns his head, seeing a thin, tall man with dark brown hair and a matching beard standing in front of Beth. He straightens and comes to stand beside her, looking at the man, trying to think if he's ever seen him before but knowing that he hasn't.

The man looks to Daryl and gives him a head nod. "Mr. Dixon. I'm Jim Allen and I'm the football coach over at St. Ignatius," he introduces himself. "Coach Douglas said I should come and talk to you about your son, Matty."

Beth's brow is already furrowed. "St. Ignatius is a high school."

A private high school, Daryl thinks but doesn't give voice to that.

"Yes, ma'm," Jim smiles a little. "And I'm aware that Matty is not of age yet-"

Beth's brow remains furrowed. "He's only nine."

"I'm aware of that," Jim says with a nod. "But it's never too late to be thinking of your son's future. I've been following your son for the past two years and I can't believe that no one else has approached you yet about this. Very lucky for me though," he smiles and pulls out a pamphlet from his back pocket, holding it out for Beth to take. Daryl sees that it's a pamphlet for St. Ignatius Academy. "Perhaps you and your husband won't mind sitting down with me and we can talk some more. I've written my number on the back so once you look through the pamphlet, perhaps we can meet for lunch. Do you have any other children?" He then asks, looking between Beth and Daryl.

"Not yet," Daryl shakes his head, finally speaking.

"Call me anytime. I look forward to talking with you again," he says and he reaches a hand out but Beth is too busy, staring down at the pamphlet so Daryl shakes the man's hand.

"Mama! Dad!" Matty is running their way and Jim steps aside, smiling as he looks down at Matty. The boy has taken off his helmet and the black eye grease under his eyes is smearing down his cheeks and his blonde hair is matted down with sweat.

"Great game today, Matty," Jim says.

"Thanks," Matty grins even though he has no idea who the man is. "Where'd Grandpa and Grandma go?" He asks as he rubs behind one of Otter's ears and the dog pushes into him affectionately.

"They saw one of their friends from church. Their grandson has just started playing this year and they're talking with your grandparents now about it," Beth explains as she still looks over the pamphlet. And then, with a shake of her head, she hands it to Daryl and then looks down to Matty. "I bet you're ready for pizza," she says with a smile.

"I'm so hungry, I almost ate that football," Matty grins and Beth laughs.

Daryl is taking his turn to look over the pamphlet now and he just wants to shake his head. Matty's nine. Are high school coaches seriously looking to recruit this kid already? But then Daryl looks down to Matty as Matty talks about a nasty tackle he had taken in the first half and then all of the yards he had run and Daryl guesses it's not that hard to believe.

"Well, we better get your Grandpa and Grandma before that happens," Beth suggests and begins herding them all towards her parents.

After eating his full of pizza, Daryl's given Matty a few dollars for him to change into coins so he can play some of the games in the arcade area and the adults remain at the table as he goes running off.

Hershel is reading through the pamphlet now and raises an eyebrow as he does. Shawn finishes his slice of pizza and tosses the crust – which he never eats – onto his plate.

"Unbelievable," Shawn shakes his head. "St. Ignatius never recruited me when I was nine."

"There was nothing wrong with your high school," Annette reminds him.

"Yeah, but it wasn't St. Ignatius," Shawn says and then looks to his sister and brother-in-law. "That's one of the best schools in the county. Not just for learning but for football, too."

"Sounds like somethin' we don't have the kind of money for," Daryl frowns a little.

"You know Coach Allen is going to talk to you about scholarships," Shawn says. "Everyone is going to talk to you about scholarships for their schools."

"He's nine," Beth feels the need to repeat again. "He's turning ten in a few weeks but he still won't be old to even think about high school."

"He goes to St. Ignatius and I guarantee you the big ten schools will be all over him, trying to recruit him to play for their college. And from there, he can probably have his pick of any professional team he wants to play for," Shawn says. "It doesn't matter how old he is, Bethy. It's happening now so you might as well get used to it."

"It looks to be a very good school," Hershel comments, still reading through the pamphlet. "Ranked at number one in the state for science."

"Hey!" Maggie arrives to the table then, slightly breathless, holding one of her twin baby daughters as Glenn comes behind with the other. "Sorry we're late. Someone decided to throw peas up all over themselves right before we left."

"Again, Glenn?" Shawn grins at him and Glenn smiles, too, shaking his head.

Maggie promptly hands the baby to Annette to hold, Annette immediately cooing over her granddaughter. "What'd we miss?" She asks as she and Glenn sit down and help themselves to some of the pizza still left on the table. Glenn hands the other baby to Daryl to hold and Beth can't help but watch him for a moment.

He's never held a baby before – as far as she knows – but her husband looks so good with a baby in his arms and he looks pretty comfortable and she thinks about what he told Jim earlier on the football field when asked about children. Not yet. And he had answered it like that so easily. They've talked about it before – having a baby – but it's always been almost in passing. Never a sit-down serious conversation about it. But Beth shouldn't feel surprised. She sees the way that man loves Matty and how happy he was to sign those adoption papers to make Matty his as much hers and she wants to give him a baby. Maybe it's time they have a real sit-down conversation about it.

"Oh, nothing," Beth shakes her head, looking back at her brother. "Apparently, Matty's going to be drafted into the NFL tomorrow."

Shawn rolls his eyes. "I don't know why you're so surprised. You've seen the kid play. And he's just getting better every year."

Beth looks to Daryl. He's looking down at their niece but then as if sensing her eyes on him, Daryl lifts his head and looks at her in return. He then shrugs his shoulders a little.

"'s up to you," he then says and she supposes that he knew he would say that.

Even though he has adopted Matty and in the eyes of the State of Georgia, Daryl is Matty's dad, Daryl still seems to be hesitant making decisions when it comes to Matty; as if he thinks that he still doesn't have a right in giving his opinion when it comes to the boy that is now his son.

Beth just keeps looking at him though, waiting, letting him know that she wants him to say something else; something more.

"Dad!" Matty exclaims and runs back to the table. "They have a deer shooting game with plastic shotguns. You gotta come!" He grabs Daryl's arm even with his baby cousin in them.

"A'right," Daryl agrees and gently passes the baby into Beth's arms. He then leans in a little closer to her, lowering his voice so no one but her could hear him. "We'll meet wit' Jim and talk wit' him. Any chance to give a Dixon a good life, we gotta take it."

Beth looks at him with a soft smile on her face. "We're Dixons and I think we have a pretty good life," she says.

And Daryl looks at her for a moment, his blue eyes looking into hers intently. And then, the corner of his mouth twitches a little. "A pretty damn good life," he agrees with her and then, getting to his feet, he leans down and kisses her. He's gotten so good about kissing her in front of her family – especially now that they're married.

Matty grabs Daryl's hand and pulls him away, chattering to him about how many tickets he knows Daryl can win, and Beth watches them go with a smile.

Thank you very much for reading and please comment one more time!