Like You Did Before

10: I Wish I Did

Exhaling a quiet sigh, Iker lifted his head, using the mirror in the corner of the room to look out into the living room. He knew that Matilda was out there. In the week that had passed since they’d had dinner together, she had taken to leaving him to it when it came to settling Lola down to sleep, and whilst he appreciated the quiet moments it meant that he got with the little girl, he hated that the awkwardness between him and Matilda only seemed to have worsened. He thought that they’d made progress, that when he’d explained what it was about her and Arthur that had bothered him so much, they’d find a way to move forwards and make things easier between the two of them, but if anything, they seemed to talk less. He’d gotten frustrated. Matilda’s reaction to his suggesting that he could move on eventually had irked him, but he wasn’t quite sure what he’d been expecting. He didn’t know if he’d wanted her to get upset or shrug and wish him the best.

Keeping his eyes on the mirror, he watched Matilda for a few moments, before he stood up. Leaning over the side of the crib, he pressed a soft kiss to the top of Lola’s head before he shuffled away, stopping when he reached the bedroom doorway. Pushing his hands into his pockets, he gently cleared his throat, causing Matilda, who’d busied herself in the kitchen, to turn and look at him. “Is she asleep?” she asked.

“She has been for a while” Iker replied “It took a little longer than usual” he added.

“Her nap was late” Matilda mused “My mother took us out for lunch, and she wouldn’t fall asleep until I got her back here. I should have warned you” she added, offering him an apologetic look.

Iker shook his head, dismissing her apology with a small smile. “It’s fine” he mused.

Matilda smiled back at him shyly, but didn’t say anything, allowing a long silence to stretch out between them.

Iker’s feet shifted as he tried to think of something to say, but Matilda beat him to the punch, tipping her head towards the pot on the stove. “It’s just soup” she mused “But it’s too much for just me. Do you want some?” she asked.

Iker opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, surprised by the question, something which made Matilda shake her head, a light laugh falling out of her mouth. “It’s just soup” she repeated “It doesn’t mean anything. You either want some or you don’t” she added.

“I…I’d love some” Iker stumbled out “Is it that one your papa makes?” he asked.

Matilda’s expression lit up at the little detail he’d recalled before she nodded her head, moving to collect two bowls. Settling them on the counter, she poured food into them both before she gently nudged one towards Iker, offering him a hesitant smile. Iker picked it up, tipping his head in thanks, before he started to eat, allowing the room to fall quiet aside from the sound of their spoons against their bowls. The silence lasted for a few minutes before Iker set his bowl down, a frustrated sigh falling out of his mouth. “I don’t know what I expected” he announced.

“From my papa’s soup?” Matilda asked, a hopeful smile on her face. She didn’t want the two of them to get into another fight.

Iker’s stare was firm, causing Matilda’s expression to falter. “The conversation we had after dinner the other day” he clarified “I don’t know how I expected that to end. I thought we’d gotten somewhere when we’d been at dinner and then you went all quiet on me, and I got frustrated. I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that, but can you see why I got annoyed?” he asked.

Matilda’s eyes were fixed on the bowl she held in her hands, but she did nod her head. She’d shut him out again. Instead of voicing what was on her mind, she’d just been quiet and cold, and she knew that that was something that had frustrated Iker in the past. She closed herself off to him. When something bothered her, or there was something on her mind, she tended to just keep it to herself, or to tell Arthur, and it was one of the many things about their relationship that she knew Iker wished he could have changed.

Iker stepped towards her, gently prying the bowl out of her hands, before his hands moved to her waist, only to hang in the air for a second before he dropped them back to his side with a soft sigh. “Do you know what you want, Mattie?” he asked gently.

Matilda tipped her head back, her blue eyes searching his face, before she shook it, an apologetic smile on her face. “I wish I did” she whispered.

Iker nodded his head slowly.

“Do you?” Matilda prodded “Know what you want, I mean” she clarified.

Iker’s smile was faint, but Matilda could still the sadness in it, something which had her arms itching to wrap around him and hold him close. “I want to go back to a year ago” he admitted softly “To the good parts, not the messy fights. I hate that there’s this distance between us and I don’t know how to fix it. I hate that I remember you walking out of my house and telling me that you thought we’d wasted time in being together. When we talked about moving on the other day, I don’t know how I wanted you to react. I don’t know if wanted you to be upset at the thought of losing me properly, or if I wanted you to be Ok with it. I don’t know what I want us to do next, Mattie, but we have to do something” he explained.

Matilda was quiet for a moment before she shook her head. “I was upset” she admitted quietly “But I didn’t have the right to be. You deserve someone who can make you happy, and I…I think we both know that that probably isn’t me” she added, a shaky laugh falling out of her mouth.

Iker’s hand moved then, gently pushing her hair behind her ear. “You know you made me happy” he murmured “You know how strongly I felt for you, Mattie” he added.

Matilda evaded his touch shyly. “Felt” she murmured “Wanted. It’s the past tense, Iker. You talk in the past tense. Do you love me now?” she asked, her eyes not chancing a look at him.

Iker wanted to blurt out a yes, but he stopped himself and the hesitation made Matilda shake her head gently. “Mattie” he protested gently.

Matilda’s eyes flashed to his face briefly, searching it, before she smiled at him sadly. “Don’t worry” she whispered “It’s OK” she added.

Iker didn’t say anything, allowing Matilda to step past him, making her way towards the bedroom. She stopped in the doorway. “See you in the morning?” she asked.

Iker nodded his head. “Of course” he mused “Night, Mattie” he added.

Matilda waved over her shoulder and disappeared into the other room, leaving Iker to see himself out of the apartment. He’d wanted to say yes. He’d wanted to admit that he was still in love with her, but he couldn’t let himself get the words out of his mouth. The situation hadn’t changed. Their issues were still as present as they had been when they’d broken up, and he didn’t know that loving her was enough to smooth over cracks they’d not been able to get past before.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony and Jayme112234 for the comments :)